Guerrilla indie feature film shot at Walt Disney World

"Escape From Tomorrow" is an indie movie screening at Sundance that was shot, seemingly without permission, at Walt Disney World. The film sounds pretty good, though the reviewer who saw it thinks it'll never get wide release, due to the risk-aversion of distributors and exhibitors:

See, the entire film is set inside the property at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and a fair amount of the film appears to have been actually shot on the property, during business hours, without anyone's permission. It is largely stolen feature film, and while they were careful to change all the music so they're not playing anything in the film that they could get sued over, they are still including tons and tons of familiar Disney iconography. Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck… all the costumed characters appear. We see huge chunks of the "Snow White" ride, portions of the "Winnie The Pooh" ride, material shot inside the Haunted Mansion. There's an entire sequence built around waiting in line for the Buzz Lightyear ride. They go to Epcot, and Spaceship Earth is prominently featured and even blown up at one point. It feels like someone saw "Eraserhead" and said, "Hey, why don't we get that guy to shoot an infomercial for the Magic Kingdom to get more families to come?" and this is the oh-so-not-what-they-wanted result. It is a magnificent, impossible nightmare.

It is not possible that this film exists. It is not possible that they shot long scripted sequences on the actual rides. It is not possible that I just saw a film in which it is suggested and then shown that the various Disney princesses all work as high-priced hookers who sell their wares to wealthy Asian businessmen. It simply cannot be true.

I grew up in Florida, and I have been going to Walt Disney World my entire life. I worked at that park. I've been there as a child, as a teenager, as an employee, and as a parent. I've done Disney sitting on my father's shoulders, and I've done the Disney parks with my kids sitting on my shoulders. It is a huge part of my DNA, and I can tell you that there is no way Randy Moore pulled off what I saw tonight. It is a film that should not exist by any rational definition.

Review: 'Escape From Tomorrow' is a surrealist treat that will give Disney's lawyers nightmares [Drew McWeeny/HitFix]

(Thanks to all the people who suggested this!)


    1. Considering that the very existence of this movie hinges on artists creating stuff “under the radar” away from would be gatekeepers, your hopes are not realistic.

  1. If I can’t find a legal way to buy this, I’m going to pirate the shit out of it. It’s what the filmmaker would have wanted.

  2. Is there any reason big chunks of it could not have been done in a studio with backgrounds shot at Disneyworld composited in?

    Talented lighters and compositors can make almost anything look like it is anywhere.

    1. robcat, I believe that’s how they did some of it, but a lot of it was filmed on the sly at the Mouse House.

    2. Even if this were the case it doesn’t mitigate issues around why it (probably) won’t get wide distribution. They’re still using trademarks without permission. Also green screening sets would be likely more difficult, complicated, and expensive than shooting it guerilla style in the park. 

  3. If ever there was a movie that was begging for the “Torrent it, accept donations” model, this one would qualify.

    Boys, get it out there before the C&D arrives.

  4. “Disney princesses all work as high-priced hookers who sell their wares to wealthy Asian businessmen. It simply cannot be true.”

    They’ve never been over to “Vista Lay,” the free for all apartment complex where all the actors are housed. All the actors make minimum wage AND their rent is pre-deducted from their pay checks.

  5. To play devil’s advocate: What was the point of making this movie?

    To make something that would generate massive buzz over being deliberately unreleasable, and make the most-torrented movie ever?

    To irritate a whole lot of people at WDW while you film a movie on rides?

    To troll Disney?

    1. Because you are not allowed to seems like a good enough of a reason as any.  If it is actually good, that would just be icing.  Sometimes it is fun to knife large corporation just for fun.  I’m sure Disney will find a way to carry on.

      1. I disagree; trolling a large company isn’t a good reason to do a project on this level. Creative fulfillment, storytelling, or the challenge of making a ‘covert’ project look professional — sure. Making a feature movie for Sundance purely for lulz is idiotic, and I can’t imagine that’s why it was done.

        1. Who says trolling Disney isn’t art, even if done purely for the lulz?

          Doing something because you aren’t allowed to do it is itself art, as communication, in that it is a performance that embodies a question: why the fuck not?

          1. You’re absolutely allowed to “do it” — nobody at Disney World is going to stop you from filming. Everyone there has a camera and people are constantly filming. Making a movie at Disney World or Disneyland doesn’t require much covert ‘guerilla’ action at all.

            But now what? You’ve got a movie that you can’t legally show for profit. As Tim & Eric say, great job!

            Trolling is never, ever ‘art’. Doing things for the lulz is never, ever ‘art’.

          2. “Trolling is never, ever ‘art’. Doing things for the lulz is never, ever ‘art’.”

            Your constraints on the boundaries of art anger the art gods.

          3. Ha. Since you can never objectively determine the motivation of any artist, you have to either never admit that *anything* is art, in case the artist secretly did it for the lulz, thereby making you wrong; or just admit you’re wrong now and save yourself the trouble.

          4. Trolling is never, ever ‘art’. Doing things for the lulz is never, ever ‘art’.

            I have a modest proposal for you.

    2. Why do adults build stuff with Legos? Why did someone build a train replica in their basement? Why do people build small scale palaces out of used matches?

      I’d venture one of the possible answers is “because they can”. Humans tend to be creative and pursue creative endeavors *just because*. So far, it looks like nobody had done a film like this before which is a creative reason enough to do it, no?

      1. Except in this situation, you “can’t”. It’s no trick to make a movie at Disney World — people do it every day. Every third person there’s carrying a camera around and filming non-stop; nobody’s going to question someone carrying a DSLR. Disney encourages it, if anything. If this guy was able to make his movie look professional, great. But now he’s got a movie that can never be distributed; so was this just a publicity stunt?

        The real trick would’ve been to make a professional-looking ‘guerrilla’ movie somewhere where cameras are completely out of place, like a library, or Macy’s, or Harrod’s. THAT would be an impressive stunt.

    3. Perhaps the point of making this movie was to provoke an over-reaching response from Disney so as to shed light on ridiculousness of the rights clearance culture.

  6. I’ve been lucky enough to see the film and its a brain melter for Disney fans. You will be blown away thinking about the undercover shooting process in the park and delighted by all of the stuff they got away with.

    I am very curious to see if the film causes Disney to beef up security and surveillance at the park or place restrictions on where or what you can photograph and record.

  7. Link redirected to skeevy, apparently un-skippable third party “survey” site the first time around, complete with popup “Wait! Don’t leave!” message. Grrr. Second time, no problem. FYI.

    Anyway, as for what this would give Disney’s lawyers, wouldn’t “erections” be more likely than “nightmares?” The public relations people might be conflicted about how to handle this, but I think the Disney-lawyer response to something like this is DISNEY LAWYER SMASH!

    (Which they know how to do now that the Hulk is one of their in-house corporate clients.)

  8. Nice!  I hope this gets serious release, even if they have to pixelate 90% of the background to get there.

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