In 1995, Disney World unveiled a new theme park called
“ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter” in the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland. While the ride is mostly forgotten, the fake documentary that Disney produced to advertise for it has lived on in infamy.
ExtraTERRORestrial was a retooling of Mission to Mars, and it was Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s attempt at capturing the teenage market with an edgy, scary ride. At one point Eisner even attempted to partner with Ridley Scott to feature xenomorphs from the “Alien” series.
Instead, they created a new animatronic alien creature and had it teleport into the theater where it terrorized the audience. You can watch this Defunctland video to learn more about “ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter,” which closed in 2003.
What makes ExtraTERRORestrial memorable wasn’t the ride itself, but the advertising. Disney produced “Alien Encounters from New Tomorrowland,” a 45-minute “documentary” about UFOs and alleged alien encounters, and aired it during its prime time “Magical World of Disney” program.
The documentary, hosted by TV’s Robert Urich, presents itself as a real documentary based on hard science, and talked about aliens and UFOs as if they were 100 percent real. This was a prime time family program, and it was telling children that aliens were real, and they were coming. Not only that, but it even included disturbing tales from alleged abductions.
When Urich finally mentioned the theme park ride he was promoting, he claimed that Disney had partnered with scientists to create
“ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter” to help prepare little boys and girls for their inevitable visit from an advanced lifeform from outer space. What a great program for family fun night!
Suffice to say, “Alien Encounters” traumatized kids and their parents called Disney to complain. After that, Disney stopped showing it, and it was never transferred to home video so most people forgot about it. Now, thanks to some YouTube users, you can view the full program here:
The bizarre documentary has lived on in various circles, though. According to Mysterious Universe, UFO conspiracy theorists consider it an attempt at a “soft disclosure,” testing the public reaction to a real-life report on alien contact.
Whatever it was meant to be, “Alien Encounters” was a weird little footnote in Disney’s history.