My excitement and concerns for a Disney Villains land – DePaoli on DeParks

At D23 Expo, one of the biggest surprises to come from it was a conversation about the potential for what lies “Beyond Big Thunder Mountain.” The news about “Coco” and “Encanto” being added to the parks isn’t too shocking. But the idea of an entire land dedicated to Disney Villains was quite the surprise. Many of us have been dreaming of such a thing for years. To have it officially presented as a real possibility truly is next level. But the moment they showed some concept art I found myself both excited and somewhat questioning.


What’s there to be concerned about? Well, for me, I found the villain they highlighted in the concept art to be a bit telling. The Maleficent Dragon was the main villain featured. Don’t get me wrong. I love Maleficent (especially in dragon form) as much as the next Disney Villain-loving fan. But to think that Disney is still leaning on a character from a 1959 movie could ultimately be bad for the project.

I’m sure fans wouldn’t mind a completely retro villain area, but we all know that Disney wants to be able to promote their latest films in their newest park projects. When I think of a proper Disney Villain, my head always goes to my favorite, Ursula, from the 1989 movie “The Little Mermaid.” The 1990s continued to be full of epic villains like Scar, Hades, Jafar, and beyond. We got a couple more true villains in the early 2000s with characters like Dr. Facilier. But in more recent years there has been a shift. Disney villains are simply more like Disney antagonists. A lot of times, the “bad guy” in the latest animated films are simply misunderstood people. Oftentimes one’s own family members. It doesn’t have the same feeling as a true Disney villain that is pure evil with no immediate explanation why.

disney villains land

If Disney wants to create a land for the Disney Villains, I hope this means that we’ll soon start seeing true villains in their movies again. If that were to happen, I think this villains land would be more likely to become a reality or even just have a larger footprint.

The fact that a villains-centric show like “Fantasmic!” continues to be a popular draw is proof that the Disney Villains are indeed quite popular. But the fact is, whenever the spectacular is updated with new content, it’s not about the villains. In 2017, Disneyland’s “Fantasmic!” got a fairly major overhaul with a new scene featuring Aladdin & Jasmine, plus the addition of Flynn & Rapunzel. Disney doesn’t seem to have the same library of animated villains to draw from the way they do princesses, heroes, and sidekicks.

When you take a look at the cast of villains taking part in an event like Villains Unleashed, there are a lot of old animated characters featured. If you look at the commercials advertising Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort, it features Oogie Boogie from a 1993 movie. Disney has to continue looking way back in their roster for truly evil villains to feature.

There are a couple of options when it comes to the potentially new Disney Villains land. It could simply feature older, classic Disney animated villains. But I think it is unlikely to just feature the old as cross promotion is a big part of the parks these days. They could expand and go beyond animated villains like in the case of adding Captain Barbossa from “Pirates of the Caribbean” into “Fantasmic!” Or Disney could start making truly scary villains in their animated features again. I personally hope for the latter.

Overall, the potential of a Disney Villains land is very exciting. We’ve seen Disney lean into the popularity of villains during Halloween and for special events. It’s now nice to see they’re thinking even bigger. How do you feel about the potential of a Disney Villains land? Which Disney Villain would you hope to see heavily featured in the land? Leave a comment and let me know.

Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit,” and more at DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One Comment

  1. I feel this Villains Land might be an opportunity to meet my favorite rare villains there (specifically the Big Bad Wolf, Bowler Hat Guy, Captain Hook, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Frollo, Shan Yu and Governor Ratcliffe).