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12 Pieces Of Disney Media We Probably Won't Be Seeing Anytime Soon

Walt Disney Studios, the people who hold childhood memories in a headlock, seems to be at it again. Love them or hate them, the House of Mouse has both created and vacuumed up some of pop culture's most lucrative franchises, turning them into unstoppable juggernauts under their control.

Their stable now includes the likes of not only Mickey Mouse, various princess and Pixar movies, but also Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Muppets, The Simpsons, and so much more. Needless to say, Disney has enough content from the past, present and future to keep audiences happy for years to come. However, recent comments from CEO Bob Iger have renewed fears that the "Disney Vault" may be on the verge of rising again, like a zombie for the streaming era. 

If you're not concerned by the idea of a more "curated" Disney+, perhaps you should be. Because as Disney has displayed in its treatment of certain titles (resulting in heavily-bootlegged titles like "Song of the South"), sometimes their answer to cancellations and controversies is to make it feel like they never existed in the first place. 

Below are a dozen pieces of Disney media, in various forms, with no presence on Disney+ — and without a doubt, unable to be viewed by most Disney fans anytime soon.

Kingdom of the Sun

It wouldn't be a stretch to say that "The Emperor's New Groove" remains an outlier in Disney's 2D-animation catalog. From the film's punchy sense of humor and fourth wall breaks to its animation style and voice cast, the film stands out. With that in mind, it's endlessly fascinating to consider what it was originally meant to be.

When "Groove" first entered production, it was titled "Kingdom of the Sun" and was intended to be yet another grand Disney musical-adventure, inspired (at least, in theme) by Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper." As explained in the 2002 documentary "The Sweatbox," the plot would've seen Kuzco still turned into a llama, but he would've been a normal non-speaking one, as opposed to the outrageous, David Spade-voiced version viewers eventually received. Less predicated on slapstick comedy and more on grand adventure, it would have included song sequences from the likes of Eartha Kitt (who voiced Zyma), and practically an entirely-different animation style.

"'The Kingdom of the Sun' was such a heart-breaking experience for me. I put four years of my heart and energy into that one," original director Roger Allers said in 2014. "I was creating an 'epic' picture mixing elements of adventure, comedy, romance and mysticism. The head of Disney Features at the time was afraid that we were doing, in his opinion, too many films in the same vein. He was also uncomfortable with the spiritual and cultural (Inca) aspects of it. Hence, he decided to make it a simple slapstick comedy. They kept just enough of my elements (characters and such) that I can never produce my original vision or story elsewhere. Would it have worked out if we had had more time? I would hope so, but one can never know these things."

With Allers in his 70s, and no doubt another largely-unseen treasure trove of abandoned footage and concept art in a vault somewhere, the window could be closing to actually "know these things." If Disney gave Allers carte blanche to re-create "Kingdom of the Sun," it would take nothing away from the perfectly delightful "Emperor's New Groove" — in fact, it might renew interest in one Disney gem largely forgotten while resulting in a new, very different one.

Rapunzel Unbraided

Three years into the '00s, Disney was looking to expand their animated horizons into the world of computer generated animation. Following this new initiative, a project tentatively known as "Rapunzel Unbraided" went into production, which would have marked the long-form directorial debut of longtime Disney animator by Glen Keane (instead, he'd make it nearly 20 years later with the acclaimed "Over the Moon").

Through some early test footage available on YouTube, viewers can see that the film would have balanced both fairy tale and modern influences. This makes sense, as just two years earlier, "Shrek" had set the industry on fire with its irreverent, self-aware treatment of fairy tales. The hunger was there, as soon demonstrated once again by the hit "Hoodwinked!" As noted in "Creativity Inc" by Edwin E. Catmull, the "Unbraided" plot was to be heavily set in modern-day San Francisco, had a vastly different tone than what it would eventually become ("Tangled"), and had far more of an emphasis on "Shrek-like" humor.

Originally slated for 2007, in 2005 the film was pushed back four years to give Keane "more time to work on the story," and what followed were a series of starts and stops, as well as the appointment of a co-director (Dean Wellins); after "Tangled" hit theaters in 2010 (now directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard), Keane revealed that he had backstepped his involvement in 2008 following a heart attack, and took an "animation supervisor" credit. 

While "Tangled" was a sizable hit, "Unbraided" looks like it could have been every bit as entertaining. So why not resurrect it on Disney+, for fans of Disney, fans of "Tangled," fans of Keane, and others who might be interested solely in a piece of Hollywood history? Clearly, Disney has years' worth of abandoned animation, test footage and other raw ingredients that could make for either a crude re-assemble or, at the very least, a "Jodorowsky's Dune"-like documentary that could use talking heads to fill in the blanks.

Monsters, Inc. 2: Lost in Scaradise

There's something fascinating about roads not traveled, both in life and when it comes to creative decisions. One of these for Disney comes via "Monsters, Inc.," one of Pixar's earliest hits.

Showcasing the inner workings of the monsters in your closet, Sully and Mike Wazowski became two classic Disney characters, Monsters Incorporated employees dealing with a human child who had entered their world. Given the film's success, a sequel was only natural, but this is where things begin to get complicated.

At the time, the working relationship between Disney and Pixar was strained, with the former handing the film's development over to Circle 7 Animation. A proposed sequel, tentatively titled "Monsters, Inc. 2: Lost in Scaradise," intended to follow Sully and Mike's adventures while trapped in the human world after going in search of Boo. 

It sounds like a solid concept, but sadly this version never came to pass. Disney soon purchased Pixar and subsequently shuttered Circle 7 Animation. What emerged from all this creative reshuffling was "Monsters University," a prequel released in 2010 to decent reviews and a sizable box office gross, yet seemingly far less ambitious in scope. If Disney were to dust off that old "Scaradise" script by screenwriters Rob Muir and Bob Hillgenberg, it might make for a far more effective "sequel."

The Yellow Submarine remake

When it comes to iconic musicians, no quartet is more beloved than The Beatles. They were also no strangers to film, with such era-defining vehicles as 1964's "A Hard Day's Night," 1965's "Help!" and the 1968 psychedelic animated musical "Yellow Submarine."

The film is still celebrated by fans of hand-drawn animation and of the Beatles' musical catalog, to the point where — for a brief window in the '00s — there was almost a motion capture remake. This reimagining was to be helmed by Robert Zemeckis, the "Back to the Future"/"Forrest Gump" mastermind turned mo-cap pioneer with films like "The Polar Express," "Beowulf," and "A Christmas Carol." 

The film's existing test footage paint an intriguing picture of what the film could have been — a grittier version of the original. The footage even includes motion capture versions of Paul, John, Ringo and George, all complete with uncanny valley faces.

Ultimately, the project never saw a release of any kind, due perhaps to the box office disappointment of "Beowulf" and "Christmas Carol" (as well as the notorious 2011 bomb "Mars Needs Moms"). Despite efforts to revive the project as recently as 2012, Zemeckis finally opted to tap out. While the unsettling nature of his other mo-cap films is concerning, Zemeckis is undeniably a talent of legendary proportions, and a significant hunger still exists for the Beatles. With Disney+ so hungry for original, buzz-heavy content, what could make bigger headlines than finally helping Zemeckis and the Beatles across the finish line? 

The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit

Disney has made many bad movies — but more often than not, the mouse has still acknowledged them. Whether it's keeping them available via streaming or through physical media, it's rare for Disney to simply let a project slip into the ether. So why, exactly, has "The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit," starring Kurt Russell, fallen into such obscurity?

First there's the film's plot, which concerns advertising executive Fred Bolton (Kurt Russell), determined to kill two birds with one stone ... er, horse. Tasked with both coming up with a successful ad campaign in 24 hours and satisfying his daughter's dream of riding horses, Fred hatches a plan. He opts to get his daughter a horse, named Aspercel after the product, and looks to use the horse's success to hype the actual product.

If that premise fails to excite, it might explain why this film isn't remembered as fondly as other live-action Disney outings. In response to the film's lack of an official streaming release, some fans have opted to simply upload the film to the internet themselves.

That Hannah Montana episode about diabetes

To most accurately describe the cultural impact "Hannah Montana" had during the '00s, you could simply say it was a star-maker. Telling the story of a teenage girl (just like Miley Cyrus) with a famous country singer dad (just like Billy Ray Cyrus) who was a pop star (just like Miley Cyrus) and played by Miley Cyrus, it made it easy for fans to blur truth and fiction, artifice and adoration. Airing on the Disney Channel for four seasons, the series showed a fictitious version of Cyrus, with her father and friends in tow, traversing a bizarre double life. The show helped advertise her albums while the albums helped advertise the show; simply put, it was pure Disney marketing genius.

But among the 98 episodes the series aired, there exists one outlier, pulled from television for some unintentional medical misinformation. 

The 2008 episode "No Sugar, Sugar" was set to air on the Disney Channel, then pulled prior to its air date. It had been made available to some parents via on-demand advance cable screeners, and they had concerns over its clunky handling of diabetes. The episode's plot had Miley Cyrus' character looking to keep her friend Oliver (Mitchel Musso) away from sugar after he's diagnosed as diabetic; Oliver is even referred to as "sugar boy" at one point. This episode heavily implies that, in essence, all sugar for diabetes is like kryptonite for Superman.

According to the New York Times, "A Disney executive told E! Online that the channel's standards and practices team had consulted medical experts during the writing process, but that the network was re-evaluating the episode based on the feedback." 

The episode was later reshot and recut, serving as the finale of season 2. But if the intent was genuinely to promote conversation — and raise awareness — why not consider following up with a mea culpa and a Cyrus-hosted look back on the "Hannah Montana" episode gone wrong? 

The Kingdom Hearts animated series

Right on the edge between the "Final Fantasy" games and the world of Disney exists the "Kingdom Hearts" video game series. Originally released in 2002, the first game follows the adventures of Sora, a boy who — in pursuit of new worlds — gets more than he bargained for. Soon enough, Sora finds himself in a situation of truly fantastical proportions and must contend with the evil of the Heartless. Along the way, Sora is joined by none other than Donald Duck and Goofy, presented as fantasy-RPG heroes. This means that many of the worlds available to visit are various other worlds introduced through Disney movies and shows.

With a concept this lavish and rife with crossover potential, surely an adaptation of some kind would be in order, right? Strange enough, neither a theatrical film nor an animated series was ever released, despite the game amassing multiple sequels and spin-offs. 

Following the first game's release, a pilot for a tentative animated series was created — but was never greenlit for a full series run. Fans received a taste of what could have been when animator Seth Kearsley tweeted that he'd found a VHS copy of the pilot's animatic. That pilot  — which can occassionally be found on YouTube — is true to the tone of the game, and it would have been neat to see its complex narrative given the episodic treatment.

America's Next Muppet

With the recent release of "Muppet Mayhem" on Disney+, it's clear that the Muppets are still a key piece of the Disney brand. There has been plenty of Muppet media, spanning from children's cartoons to primetime television for older audiences to several theatrical films. However, not every Muppet project has seen the light of day, including a tentative reality show once conceived as "America's Next Muppet."

The title is an overt homage to the likes of "America's Next Top Model" and other reality show competitions that were rampant during the '00s. In 2005, it was announced that ABC was pursuing a Muppet show with a similar premise, with viewers selecting the newest Muppet cast member. 

Apparently, a pilot episode was filmed and submitted for network approval, but didn't end up testing well enough to receive the green light. No footage or still images from that pilot have surfaced, with only a scarce amount of information available in regards to what the show would have been. In a day and age where lost media is resurfacing in great volume, perhaps one day fans will finally get a peak of the Muppet show that never got to play the music, let alone light the lights.

That Darkwing Duck episode where he fought Satan

He is the terror that flaps in the night; the winged scourge that pecks at your nightmares.  

A gem of the Disney Afternoon programming block in the early '90s, "Darkwing Duck" was Disney's attempt at a colorful crime fighter for the kids. The show told the story of Drake Mallard, a talking duck who spends his nights in the city of St. Canard, operating as a masked crime fighter. With his adopted daughter Gosalyn and buddy Launchpad McQuack in tow, Drake (AKA Darkwing Duck) tangled with zany villains such as Megavolt, Quackerjack and... even Satan himself?

Yes, Darkwing Duck did indeed fight the devil in the episode "Hot Spells." Not that you'd know that, however, because the episode has been essentially banned. Currently AWOL from Disney+, aside from fan uploads, there appears to be no way to view the episode.

That Suite Life episode where Zack pretended to be dyslexic

As modern culture has evolved, it has become more sensitive to certain subjects, particularly when it comes to the physically or mentally impaired. For one example, consider "Smart & Smarterer," an unaired episode from 2005's debut season of "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody."

While every episode of "Suite Life" had Zack and Cody getting into some sort of sizable shenanigans, this one was different. The episode in question saw Zack, a poor student, pretending to have dyslexia in order to get out of school assignments. Something of an unfortunate companion piece to the "Hannah Montana" episode mentioned above, Disney similarly opted to put the brakes on this one. Here, however, it was shelved, never to be aired in an official capacity. As such, "Smart & Smarterer" has never appeared on Disney+; aside from fan uploads, there's no legitimate method to view this misfire of an episode.


As many Disney projects make it to theaters, there are others that end up being massively retooled or scrapped entirely. 

Pixar is no stranger to this, despite all their hits. One Pixar film that will never see the light of day is "Newt," originally slated to be a summer 2011 tentpole but instead vanishing into the abyss. Directed by Gary Rydstrom ("Strange Magic"), the plot, as announced by Disney, was intriguing:

"What happens when the last remaining male and female blue-footed newts on the planet are forced together by science to save the species, and they can't stand each other? That's the problem facing Newt and Brooke, heroes of "newt," the Pixar film by seven-time Academy Award® winner for sound Gary Rydstrom, and director of Pixar's Oscar-nominated short, "Lifted". Newt and Brooke embark on a perilous, unpredictable adventure and discover that finding a mate never goes as planned, even when you only have one choice. Love, it turns out, is not a science."

Despite a last minute Hail-Mary transition to Pete Doctor ("Monsters, Inc.," "Up," "Inside Out," "Soul") as director, Pixar apparently couldn't quite get "newt" to where they wanted it to be. Also undoubtedly not helpful was the 2011 release of competitor Blue Sky's "Rio," which boasted a similar story. With Pixar having moved on to loads of projects since its cancellation, it's quite unlikely we'll see "Newt" in theaters anytime soon.


The tale of "Jack and the Beanstalk" is one that everybody knows, ranking among the definitive fairy tales. Considering how Disney has adapted just about every other fairy tale, it's strange how (with the possible exception of the short "Mickey and the Beanstalk"), it has never received a feature film. 

But there almost was one back in the 2010s. First announced at the D23 expo in 2015 under the title "Gigantic," the film was to be set in Spain and depict Jack discovering that giants live above the clouds themselves. It's here that he'd meet Inma, an 11-year old giant, forming an unlikely friendship that bridges their two worlds.

Once upon a time, the film's release seemed so certain that it was even teased in a "Zooptopia" Easter egg. During a scene in the 2016 hit, Duke Weaselton is selling bootleg DVDs, and sharp-eyed fans can spot "Gigantic" among the titles. 

Ultimately, the project yielded some impressive early concept art and fan buzz, only to be shelved indefinitely in 2015.Reached for comment, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios president Ed Catmull stated that, "...no matter how much we love an idea or how much heart goes into it, we find that it just isn't working." Today, with Disney+ at their disposal and so many projects like "Gigantic" that continue to pique fan curiosity — in some cases, a decade or more later — perhaps it is time for Disney to open up the vault and create low-cost content that gives viewers a peak at what could've been, what went wrong, and whether it would have been worth pursuing.