There is a Rarely Seen Disney “Documentary” About Aliens
Growing up as a kid in the ’90s I never really left the confines of California. And for the most part that was totally fine. We had Universal Studios, Disneyland, the beaches, mountains, plenty of museum, and so on and so forth. There was no shortage of awesome things to experience. But there was one thing California didn’t have that I desperately wanted to see: “ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.”
“Alien Encounter” was a big new addition to Disney World in Orlando, Florida back in 1995. I remember seeing commercials for the thing constantly on TV and I thought it looked amazing. It was basically Disney making an attraction about Xenomorphs without actually using the iconic alien. Sadly, I never got around to seeing the ride and in 2003 it was closed for good.
But let’s go back to the beginning with this. In the lead up to the ride’s grand opening Disney was doing it’s best to get the word out there about it. Along with the constant commercials Disney also produced a little documentary about aliens that would receive heavy criticisms from families.
Since the early days of Disney they would run specials on network television either titled “The Magical World of Disney” or “A Disney Special.” These segments would either be movies or TV specials and in the ’90s they were often presented by Michael Eisner. These segments were designed to appeal to families and kids and would sometimes be marketing tools to advertise something Disney was doing. Well, in the lead up to the opening of “Alien Encounter” Disney produced a documentary titled “Alien Encounter: From New Tomorrowland.” The documentary apparently was so upsetting parents were calling and complaining to Disney that it upset their children. So of course it didn’t get a whole lot of play after that and fell into obscurity never to been again. Until a few years ago when someone finally uploaded it to YouTube.
The documentary, which you can watch below, is narrated by Robert Urich who was a prolific TV actor. I had never seen it before so I decided to pull it up and see what could have possibly upset so many parents. And, yeah, I can see what would’ve freaked some kids out.
First of all this isn’t so much a documentary as it is a promotional item for “Alien Encounter.” That being said, it still presents itself as being based on hard science. The problem with that is that it blurs the line between fact and fiction.
From the get go Robert Urich appears and assures the viewer that we are in the “midst of actual contact with intelligent life from other planets.” They even go so far as to say that skeptics are “refusing to acknowledge all the obvious evidence all around them.” So Disney is basically saying “Yes, aliens are real kids! Don’t believe the lies!” I never knew Fox Mulder and Mickey Mouse had so much in common.
But when I think of Disney I think of wonder and hope (and a little bit of tyranny) so of course Disney would present possible alien contact in a positive light, right? Well Urich goes on to have kids consider what it would be like to meet a superior being that could easily destroy them.
“What is it like to be confronted by a creature whose intelligence and skill is far beyond the comprehension of mankind? Would it be enlightening? Would it be an exercise in terror? Or, perhaps, both?”
That’s a heavy thought for some kid that just wanted to watch a Disney TV special on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
The documentary goes on to have expert testimony from people who belong to alien research groups, scientists, and ex-military. They also bring up famous reported encounters such as the Guardian video from Canada, the Roswell crash, and even going so far as to say that aliens and humans have engaged in combat by referencing the Mantell incident where a fighter pilot died while chasing what he believed to be a UFO.
They hit the viewer with constant bits of “evidence”, but present it as all being very true and not really offering any potential counterpoints or suggesting alternatives. Disney is just straight out saying aliens are real, they’re among us, and they’re probably going to fucking kill us kids.
This section is also marked with a segment of Robert Urich reading a passage from Ezekiel that describes nuclear warfare and “wheels”, which they interpret to be UFOs, witnessing the destruction. In a Disney special!
Probably the craziest part is towards the end they bring on these men and women who have been abducted and the women have some pretty moving things to say. One woman, in particular, gives an upsetting testimony where she expresses how powerless she feels in regards to being abducted and experimented on.
“When you’re raped or mugged, even if you don’t see that person that is doing you bodily harm, you have somewhere to go. You can go to the police and at least give a report. Whether they do anything or not, you have somewhere to go. But in this case (referring to alien probing), you have no one to talk too. Nowhere to say ‘this is happening to me, I’ve been so violated.’ You’re not ready for this.”
Holy shit. Imagine Walt Disney coming on and being like “Alright kids, today we’re going to be looking at the special victims unit of a police department. We’re going to get the cops to tell you horrifying stories about predators and then we’re going to have the victims give you sexual assault testimonies. Gather around with your family and settle in for a fun night.” Okay, that might be extreme, but not too far off from what is happening in this “documentary.”
And then, for some reason, there’s just this ten second close-up of this guy’s face as he talks about how kids would shit their pants when he showed them pictures of aliens.
So what is the point of this whole documentary? How does Disney wrap this all up? We cut back to Robert Urich who somehow manages to segue back into what this whole nightmare inducing thing is about: a theme park ride. Continuing on with the idea that all of this is very real and very serious, Urich let’s the kids watching at home know that Disney has partnered with scientists to help design their new ride “Alien Encounter” to prepare them for the inevitable day when our alien overlords will take control. And that’s not an exaggeration, he really says that the ride is to help prepare us for alien contact. Considering that the ride is all about an alien life form terrorizing and killing people, it’s clear Disney does not have any optimistic view of that contact.
This is a truly fascinating “documentary” to experience. If you’ve got 45 minutes to kill I highly recommend you watch it just for the novelty of saying that you’ve experienced Disney’s hot take on alien encounters.