A Thrilling Disney Design: The Mary Poppins Ride That Could Have Been

D23 // YouTube
D23 // YouTube / D23 // YouTube

Before he was a Disney Legend, Tony Baxter was a Disney fan. He was just a teen when he landed a job at Disneyland selling ice cream, and later, when he needed a senior project in college, he decided to submit a ride concept for one of his favorite Disney movies: 1964 film Mary Poppins. The result was a ride-through attraction he called "Jolly Holiday."

To start, guests would board horses on mini-carousels reminiscent of the scene inside the chalk drawing. As the ride got underway, the horses would "jump" from the carousel into the rest of the chalk picture, out into the countryside and through the fox hunt. This would all be accomplished by a revolving theater mechanism, similar to the Carousel of Progress. After meeting the famous penguin waiters, a toe-tapping, supercalifragilistic sing-a-long would ensue. Then, a flash of lightning would signal a rainstorm that would "wash" guests out of the painting.

But the fun didn't end there. After the chalk melted away, guests would find themselves on London rooftops with the dancing chimney sweeps. Finally, the big finale: "Let's Go Fly a Kite."

Baxter took the concept book to one of his connections at Disneyland, who presented it to his superiors. Shortly thereafter, the hopeful student got a call to meet with Disney producer Bill Anderson. Though Baxter was convinced they were going to offer him a job, instead, Anderson offered some encouragement and advice on how to get the proper training to move forward with a career at Disney.

Baxter took the tips to heart. "It certainly got me excited that there might be a potential to make a career out of it," he says—and he was right. Baxter joined Disney shortly after graduating from the School of the Arts at Cal State Long Beach, then headed to Florida to help with the construction of Walt Disney World. It was just the beginning of his 47-year career with Disney.

Is it too late for a Mary Poppins ride? According to Baxter, no: “I still look at it and I think, you know, it would be . . . a great ride.”

Check out Baxter's full concept work here:

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