After The Haunted Mansion, We're Ready For A Movie About Disney's Scariest Ride

The words "Disneyland" and "scary" aren't terms that one tends to pair together, unless you're petrified of rollercoasters. Truth be told, though, the House of Mouse hasn't been afraid to get spooky now and again, and even those notoriously family-friendly parks sometimes get scarier than you expect. Probably the most famously horror-laced locale, of course, is "The Haunted Mansion." A timeless ride that's low impact and yet a visual feast, "The Haunted Mansion" has become a favorite among generations of audience members, spawned a merchandizing bonanza, and has twice been turned into a motion picture — first in 2003 with Eddie Murphy, and now, we have a new "Haunted Mansion" 20 years later with Owen Wilson, LaKeith Stanfield, and Tiffany Hadish.

Yet, frankly, there's no reason needs to keep returning to the same well, when there are other rides that could provide material for more original filmic experiences. In fact, even if you look past possibilities like "Big Thunder Mountain" to the "Tower of Terror," and dig deeper, there's a now defunct ride — a cult-favorite, amongst parkgoers — that has all the fixings for a great movie. 

That ride was "ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter," and while it might not have the cultural cachet of Disney's spinning teacups, it was a narratively rich ride that could provide fodder for a Disney movie like no other. 

ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter scared a generation of kids

For those who never got to experience the ride, "ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter" was situated in Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World. It placed parkgoers in a seated, theatrical setting. They are informed that they're about to witness a presentation by X-S Tech, an alien company looking to broker a peaceful trade involving teleportation technology with humankind. Things start out pleasantly enough, but as the ride's pre-show que hinted that X-S Tech did not think through their technical specs: when SIR the Robot (Tim Curry) demonstrates the teleporter on an alien named Skippy, it becomes clear that the process has injured Skippy. During the ride itself, the audience is introduced to two X-S Tech scientists and L.C. Clench (Jeffrey Jones), chairman of the board for the company. Determined to enter the theatre and meet humankind itself face-to-face, Clench arranges to be transported down to Earth. Unfortunately, there's a mix-up, which results in an alien life form from another planet being teleported down instead. It runs amok in the theatre, apparently murdering several members of X-S Tech's team, before finally being captured.

The ride combined lighting and effects to immerse the audience in the ride's story. That was effective — so effective, in fact, that audience members complained right away that "ExtraTERRRORestrial Alien Encounter" was too scary for kids. Yet Disney stood its ground. They even made the ride slightly darker in tone than it initially was. Unfortunately, families never warmed up to what X-S Tech was selling. 

In 2004, the ride was shuttered and replaced by "Stitch's Great Escape!," a more family-friendly use of the tech involved in "ExtraTERRORestrial." But audiences rejected the Stitch theming as well, and it went dark in 2018.

It would be so easy to craft a movie out of the ExtraTERRORestrial's storyline

In just a few short minutes, "ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter" sets up a world that has depth, complexity, and a sense of wicked humor. It gives us a set of interesting characters, from Clamp to Skippy to SIR to Spinlok (Kevin Pollak) and Dr. Femus (Kathy Najimy). Wouldn't it be fun to take a deep dive into this galaxy and all of its gruesome glories? To pit Skippy against the forces of greed? To watch a cute — or very gruesome — alien rip apart some not-so-innocent lunks? If you get the right writer and the best director on a project like this, it could be a once-in-a-generation project. Something that might even end up being one of the best alien-related movies of all time.

Turning "ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter" into a movie makes much more sense than, say, trying to create a narrative around the never-full-defined lore attached to rides like "Big Thunder Mountain" — which yes, is in the works. True, making a ride out of "ExtraTERROREstrial Alien Encounter" might require Disney making a full-on horror movie — at least with implied violence, if not bloody deaths and dismemberment — but it's not as if Disney has shied away from bloodshed under its Marvel Studios banner. Indeed, they're even committed to keeping Deadpool at his most Deadpool-like. So why not expand that vision beyond the Marvel Cinematic Universe and let some of their most obscure properties get their hands dirty?

An ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter Movie could be Disney's most unique film to date

At this point, the House of Mouse is running out of original theme park rides to fully explore as movie properties, and there are only so many "Pirates of the Caribbean" retreads its audience can take before their mental rum is, indeed, gone. Disney has been tinkering with the notion of creating fictional masterpieces out of its legendary theme park rides for quite awhile now, to notoriously mixed results. And some of those properties probably should have waited until  "ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter" was given its turn.

While "Pirates of the Caribbean" managed to become a huge, moneymaking franchise for the House of Mouse, and "Jungle Cruise" pulled in some dough just when Disney needed it during the pandemic, "Tomorrowland" didn't pull in a ton of cash. And unless you were a big fan of Jonathan Taylor Thomas back in his heyday, you probably don't remember Disney's attempt at making a family film out of the characters from the Country Bear Jamboree. "ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter" deserves its time in the sun, before we find ourselves watching "It's a Small World: The Movie."

ExtaTERRORestrial could spawn a whole new franchise

To create a fresh film out of "ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter," all one needs to do is focus on X-S Tech. How was it founded? What does it do besides spreading intergalactic peace via the application of technology? Considering their slipshod scientific calculations, have they caused other galactic disasters? Tell us more about the home world of the alien accidentally brought into the theatre. You can even change the setting from a convention center to a real live movie theater. 

As long as the film is genuinely scary, it could either go with a full-on R-rated approach (which is, admittedly, unlikely) or have the alien's violence be more suggestive, rather than visual. Either way, there's a wealth of material here, and it's wild that Disney is overlooking it. At this point in time, "Space Mountain," "Big Thunder Mountain," and "Tower of Terror " will all receive big screen films before "ExtraTERRORESTRIAL Alien Encounter." But that doesn't mean it should stay off of Disney's radar. It'd be a perfect way for Disney to turn some underutilized IP into their next phenomenon.