The Fancy Times

Fine Slop for the Discerning Tastemaker

MIRI: Myst Island Recreation Initiative

The Myst Island Recreation Initiative, shortened to MIRI, was a project launched in 2003 by a handful people who were active on the Myst Community forum. At the time the plan was to build it in a sea or large lake. It was not meant to be a commercial enterprise so much as a retreat for fans of Myst. No funding had been secured, so it seems the most that was ever accomplished was some fun world-building designs. The website is an utter ghost town since 2004.

Wayback Machine link:

In an attempt to stalk these people to their potential new corner of the internet, which I failed at completely, I found that Disney apparently had been in the works for the same thing, though obviously, this would very much be a commercial enterprise, unlike the MIRI project. Myst creator Rand Miller confirms this in a 2016 interview:

That was absolutely true. At some point, there were some really cool plans to do some stuff with Disney. We were looking at it as the ultimate incarnation of our world. Basically, there was a place down in Florida—it’s one of the island areas that they had that wasn’t used very much. But it had some walkways among trees, and an island area, and we went down and looked at it and walked around it, and it was incredibly Myst-like. It was perfect for Myst. So we were all excited. Their imagineering team was excited about embracing that and building some stuff into it and tying it into the rest of the park, where you could explore and have this real-world experience. But, the way Disney works, and the way it had to fit in with their bigger scheme of things, and the way we didn’t understand pieces of it, I think it fell apart from their point of view. That was a very exciting time. It was cool to try to pull that off.

Rand Miller, 2016
Discovery Island

A now defunct blog named Jim Hill Media wrote in 2004:

”Myst Island” would have attempted to duplicate the look and feel of the award winning computer games. Only a limited number of guests would have been allowed out onto the fog shrouded island each day. They’d have been dropped off by boat early in the morning and then picked up in the late afternoon. Their mission was to explore the ruins scattered around the 11 acre island to try to figure out what happened to the island’s previous occupants. This day-long adventure would have been unlike anything that Disney theme park guests had ever experienced before. Just like the CD ROM games that inspired it, “Myst Island” would have no linear storyline. Guests could only discover the various puzzles scattered around Myst Island by exploring all its weird little nooks and crannies. Depending on which path they took, which artifacts they uncovered as well the order in which the guest discovered them, different secrets of the island would have been revealed. Theoretically, no two guests could ever have the exact same adventure as they wandered the terrain.
Modern Discovery Island.

The reason behind the idea was that park guests were becoming disgruntled with the hours long wait times for three-minute long rides. Theme park exit surveys suggested that park visitors might be interested in a longer experience. The idea was to test out the model on a small scale with this Myst project, to see if tourists would pay more for a different type of Disney theme park.

There was a plan to transform the existing Discovery Island in the new Myst theme park. Disney had owned the island in Bay Lake since 1965 and closed its features shortly after the launch of the Animal Kingdom theme park. To this day the island is closed to the public. There were years of designing and budgeting done, then it stopped. There’s no trace of an explanation for what happened to the project. Just as there’s no trace of what happened to MIRI. 

Modern Discovery Island.

Given the time frame match, I can’t help but wonder if the MIRI guys tried to actually fund the endeavor and Disney offered to pick up the bill, or if Disney just sued them into oblivion for having a similar idea. What I would like so badly to believe is that the MIRI project managed to make it happen and decided to fuck off from the world to their Myst-themed commune. I doubt I’ll ever find any evidence of that. 

On a semi-related note, all this empty fishing did net me what I think is the old Angelfire website that I used as a cheat sheet when I was a tiny child trying to play this game on Windows 98.

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