Famed Disney “Imagineer” Tony Baxter oversaw the construction of some of the most popular Disney theme park attractions, including Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones Adventure.
But a ride that’s particularly close to Baxter’s heart is one that was never built.
Baxter sat down with D23 director Kristin Rodack in the video above to talk about one of his earliest designs: a Mary Poppins-inspired ride named “Mary Poppins Jolly Holiday.” And boy, is it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
When Baxter was a student in college, he began designing a Disneyland attraction that would take visitors on a magical ride through one of his favorite films.
“I thought ‘Mary Poppins’ was, like, the very best Disney live-action animation film I’d ever seen,” Baxter said. “And I thought, it’s just a natural to do a ride at Disneyland. Maybe if I do a concept idea, I could get hired.”
Baxter’s proposed ride starts on a carousel, before the horses “jump” off the carousel onto an overhead track. Riders then travel through the chalk sketches through which Mary Poppins transported herself, Bert, Jane and Michael in the film. After seeing the horse race and meeting the penguins, a thunderclap washes riders out of the chalk pictures. They find themselves over the rooftops of London, where the chimney sweeps put on a show. Finally, the horses fly back to their carousel to the chorus of “Let’s Go Fly A Kite.”
Excuse us, how is this not a ride?
Baxter’s design did catch the eye of Disney producer Bill Anderson. But rather than hire Baxter on the spot, Anderson encouraged the young designer to continue his training and offered some pointers. Baxter got his degree three years later, then joined Disney shortly after graduating and stayed with the company for 47 years.
“It certainly got me excited that there might be a potential to making a career out of this,” Baxter told D23. “And it worked.”
As for “Mary Poppins Jolly Holiday,” Baxter hasn’t given up hope that the ride would be a hit.
“I think, you know, it would be still a great ride,” said Baxter. “I think everyone would still like this one.”
We couldn’t agree more. This ride is practically perfect in every way.