Disney Was Working on an Adventure Theme Park Inspired by the 90s Video Game 'Myst'
Disney was hell-bent on creating a ‘Myst Island’ theme park given its popularity, critical acclaim and cult status.
Remember the popular fiddly trial and error 3D puzzle video game Myst created by brothers Robyn and Rand Miller. Yeah, the one that was inspired by text games like Zork and science fiction literature that involved portals like The Chronicles of Narnia and Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island. Yes, we’re talking about the game that was one of the greatest selling titles at a time when consoles had no hard disks and technical limitations were so many. The Making of Myst is in itself a biblical relic of a by-gone video game era. Myst imparted new trends into the glossary of video games. So, it’s only apparent that Disney was hell-bent on creating a ‘Myst Island’ theme park given its popularity, critical acclaim and cult status. Creator Rand Miller appeared for an interview with The AV Club, one of my darling sites on the internet that doesn’t write just for the sake of writing and home to my favorite critic, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.
We all know the story of how Disney struck a deal with the game creators and also Richard Vander Wende, the co-director of Riven, Myst’s sequel to set up the park on one of their non-operational facilities - Discovery Island at Florida. The plan involved sending a team of guests, on a schedule that ran from early morning to late afternoon, on a mission to explore ruins, interact with objects, open hidden paths, gather fragments of clues and compile the secret of what happened to the occupants of the Island. Each participant would take a different path. Theoretically, no two guests could ever have the exact same adventure. With only 11 acres of land available, low technology and nightmarish logistics scared them beyond the concept stage.
Miller states in the interview that the age old rumor about Disney’s impending plans to construct a Myst Island is true. It was some time ago after the success of the game when representatives of Disney Corp approached them. But let’s hear it in Miller’s own words.
“That was absolutely true. At some point, there were some really cool plans to do some stuff with Disney. We were looking at it as the ultimate incarnation of our world. Basically, there was a place down in Florida—it’s one of the island areas that they had that wasn’t used very much. But it had some walkways among trees, and an island area, and we went down and looked at it and walked around it, and it was incredibly Myst-like. It was perfect for Myst. So we were all excited. Their engineering team was excited about embracing that and building some stuff into it and tying it into the rest of the park, where you could explore and have this real-world experience. But, the way Disney works, and the way it had to fit in with their bigger scheme of things, and the way we didn’t understand pieces of it, I think it fell apart from their point of view. That was a very exciting time. It was cool to try to pull that off. “
Myst’s record for the best selling title was overtaken in 2002 by the launch of The Sims. The first-person journey through an interactive world has been copied, brutally cloned and perpetually imagined into books all in the name of nostalgia & tribute. Not only did Myst give a new heartbeat to non-linear narrative stories but also promoted the sales of CD-ROMs in its glorious sales surge.
Peeps who’ve never heard of Myst can try the partly kickstarter crowdfunded modernized version called Obduction. Released this year and labeled as a spiritual successor,the game let's you wander into a mysterious silent world of intricate puzzles.
It’s been 23 years since the release of Myst and we still see remnants of it in video games today. The Discovery Island is still abandoned but all's not lost. There’s still hope for a Myst inspired TV show. I’ve no idea how it’ll pan out but Miller says the TV show is still being worked on. “Yeah, it definitely is, as much as, you know, but we’re farther along now than we’ve been in a long time. Hopefully, at some point in the future, things start to snowball as things are connected and attached and stories develop a little more. It’s an exciting thing. It’s hard to get your hopes up, because I don’t know the intricacies of Hollywood, but it’s fun to look forward to.”