Disney Should Make Its Own Star Trek Based On This Defunct Epcot Ride

By Drew Dietsch | 10 months ago

Disney's Star Trek Body Wars

Body Wars is something you either remember fondly or have no idea about. It was a ride at Walt Disney World Resort’s Epcot that took you on an adventure through the human body. Running for sixteen years, the attraction closed on January 1, 2007, and has been missed by a generation of Disney fans ever since its closure.

But, there is a way for Body Wars to return in some form. In fact, it should be resurrected by Disney as a way for them to craft their own Star Trek type property.

body wars

Before we explore the specifics of that, we need to look back at Body Wars and see that there was already a lot of Star Trek present in the original idea…

Body Wars Was Already Directly Inspired By Star Trek

body wars queue video
This looks… familiar.

The Body Wars exhibit was a motion simulator ride similar to the original Star Tours. The story involved a group of civilians being part of an observation team led by MET (Miniaturized Exploration Technologies). The civilians (parkgoers) would be shrunk down and would enter a human body. Naturally, the mission is meant to be a simple and safe outing, and things go horribly awry so that an exciting thrill ride can happen.

What was really intriguing about Body Wars as a piece of entertainment production is how it was clearly attempting to riff on the same sci-fi look as Star Trek: The Next Generation, which had premiered two years earlier and had become a critical hit. The film used for the actual ride was directed by Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy. It’s unclear if Nimoy also directed the videos that were used in the waiting line areas, but as you can see from the above screenshot, these segments look eerily similar to the design and style choices from that era of Star Trek. It’s very possible that those diagrams in the background are the beloved “Okudagrams” that came to define screen layouts in Star Trek for many years.

This is all to establish that Body Wars has its origins in Star Trek. And although there was never anything else made from Body Wars during its tenure at Epcot, it’s now a totally dead property that Disney is sitting on. And with the real Star Trek franchise looking like it’s at a crossroads, Disney has a chance to make something new with their own sci-fi/action idea.

How Disney Could Bring Back Body Wars

Disney ride
The marquee for the Body Wars ride at Epcot.

With the plethora of remakes and reboots that Disney is involved with, it’s often frustrating to see them do nothing with properties that have actual promise. Instead of making live-action versions of their animated classics, why not look at something like Body Wars instead? Take a property that hasn’t been utilized to its full potential yet and give it to creators who could really run with it.

The first thing could be turning Body Wars into a blockbuster feature film. We’ve certainly seen Disney go for broke with these kinds of attempts in the past (remember Tomorrowland?). As a movie, Body Wars would probably lean further into the bombastic action of its premise and we might end up with a film that feels like modern-day Star Trek. Plus, you’d have to do something with a movie that made it feel special beyond its shrinking premise. Otherwise, it will just come off as another riff on Fantastic Voyage.

Instead, the best outlet for Body Wars would likely be on Disney+. It could still be a single movie but scaling back on the budget and scope could actually be beneficial. There would be a need to focus more on the science-fiction of the premise than the excessive action that audiences would expect from a theatrically-released feature film.

Body Wars
Dr. Cynthia Lair (Elisabeth Shue) investigates a splinter in Body Wars.

However, the road that seems like it would be the most successful is making Body Wars into a series on Disney+. Live-action or animated, an episodic adventure would better capture that specific Star Trek energy. Each week could involve a different kind of medical mission that the crew has to be involved with. There could even be extremely sci-fi ideas like nanobots that go rogue inside of a patient. The story possibilities are limitless.

Most importantly, an episodic series could have a deliberately educational angle in every episode. Considering what the world has been dealing with in the year 2020, it’s clear that we need to instill in younger generations a healthy curiosity and desire to learn about medicine, the human body, and how it fights disease and infection. Star Trek inspired generations to become excited about space travel, and Body Wars did the same thing for medical science in the kids who rode it all those years ago. It would be great to see that mission reenergized in the era of streaming.

Disney has a perfectly good basis for their own Star Trek type property in Body Wars. It’s an idea that could easily be configured to fit in a familiar Star Trek mold while shifting the focus to the science of the body instead of outer space. And if it meant that Body Wars became popular enough to get a new version of the ride back at Epcot, that would be quite the boost for anyone that’s nostalgic for this near-forgotten piece of Disney history.