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Defunctland resurrected an extinct Disney ride using VR

A digital copy of the parks is one step closer to reality

Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

Defunctland is one step closer to becoming a (virtual) reality.

The YouTube series created by Kevin Perjurer explores extinct theme park attractions in each new episode, spinning them together in a theoretical theme park known as Defunctland. In early episodes Perjurer, expressed interest in somehow literally resurrecting each now-dead attraction for his own theme park. It wasn’t a serious thought initially, though he did wonder about the feasibility of reconstructing “Defunctland” in VR.

After a few volunteers who did have VR experience reached out, the project began to take shape.

The first Defunctland VR experience follows Disney World’s Magic Kingdom attraction 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which operated from 1971 to 1994. It was created in the Unreal Engine by a team of volunteers, using old camera footage from the 1980s and 90s as reference. The VR experience isn’t just a resurrection for resurrection’s sake — it's a preservation effort. When theme park attractions shut down, they’re basically lost forever.

“We are continuing to develop more attractions for the project. We’re hoping to bring rides from all sorts of theme parks and give them new life,” Perjurer tells Polygon. “A surprising amount of people told us personal stories of loved ones they used to experience this ride with, and how getting the chance to ride it in VR brought back memories not just of the ride, but of their friends and family.”

The link to the VR build is on the YouTube page. The 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea experience is compatible with Oculus, Vive, and Index — with Oculus Quest compatibility available with the link cable.