When Disney acquired Marvel in 2009, there was a lot of question about how the two brands would mesh together. In 2014, we were given our first glimpse with the first installment of the Disney Kingdoms line of comics. Comic creators worked directly with Disney Imagineering to give new and exciting stories to Disney Parks attractions. Each story consisted of a 5-issue run and focused on an individual attraction. But the story tellers delved a bit further than the rides we all know and love. For their first entry into the Disney Kingdoms universe, Seekers of the Weird, Marvel and Disney Imagineers brought a new life to an attraction that never made it into any of the parks.
Seekers of the Weird
According to the My Disney Experience app, the Magic Kingdom has 38 attractions. When Marvel decided to launch a comic line based on Disney Parks attractions that one park alone would provide a deep pool of ideas. So, it might seem a little strange that they decided to use an idea that never made it into the parks. Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird actually delves into the story of a forgotten attraction developed by Disney Legend Rolly Crump called the Museum of the Weird.
The attraction was born out of ideas originally intended to give a creepier feel to the Haunted Mansion and was spun into its own companion attraction at the suggestion of Walt Disney himself. In fact, Walt even showed it to the world as part of the 10th anniversary of Disneyland when he introduced Crump and some of the early model work for the items meant to fill the museum. But Walt’s death caused a lot of projects to be put on hold and when the Haunted Mansion eventually went back in to production the Museum of the Weird had been abandoned. Some of Crump’s concepts made it into the eventual Haunted Mansion but most lived on only in the archives.
So, to kick of this new line of comics, writer Brandon Seifert and penciler Karl Moline were faced with the task of bringing a new story to an old attraction that no one knew about. That includes me. Until seeing Seekers of the Weird inside a Walt Disney World gift shop I had absolutely no idea about the forgotten attraction. I was, however, familiar with the work of Karl Moline from a book he did with Joss Whedon called Fray, a futuristic look at the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe. If nothing else, I should expect some fun action.
What I received was more than just an action style similar to what I had seen from Moline but the story was incredibly well driven. Seifert managed to create a small family called the Keeps (particularly siblings Maxwell and Melody) with diverse personalities that each contributed to the short mini-series. On top of that, it took a few shots at the conventions of both the horror genre and the comic book medium with twists that were hilarious and unexpected much like the style of aforementioned Joss Whedon.
By the end of the 5 issue series, I found myself interested to learn more about the Keep family and the original attraction that inspired it. Part of that is due to the short editorials from the series writer Brandon Seifert, Marvel creative director Bill Rosemann, and Disney Imagineering’s Josh Shipley. While I was given a fun story filled with a wild, supernatural adventure, they kept reminding me that the most important part after telling a good story was that they kept as true to the original designs by Crump as possible.
After doing a little research, I was astonished to see these items from the comic such as the Coffin Clock within arm’s reach of Walt Disney himself. Going through more and more imagery, videos, and interviews I saw the dedication they put in to bringing Crump’s vision to the page. Sometimes it was as simple as recreating a concept drawing inside a comic panel and then sometimes it was bringing these objects to life as they were originally intended. The beauty of using the comic medium to resurrect this was that they had no restraint in space or technology. Every psychedelic vision Crump placed on paper was able to be brought into a proper story with Seekers of the Weird.
And, to me, the success of this book shows itself in how much I wish I could have seen this attraction become a reality. It comes in the fact that I know more about one of the Imagineers who contributed to such wonderful attractions like It’s a Small World, the Haunted Mansion, and the Land pavilion. And I want to know more.
With other titles in the series coming from more well known attractions, it could be easy for fans to miss this one. I urge you to dive into the world of this forgotten attraction and find yourself falling in love with a timeless storytelling of Disney Imagineering through a new medium. So next time you’re passing those books in the gift shops, take an adventures with the Seekers of the Weird.