This Disney production, ‘Alien Encounters’, is an extremely peculiar footnote within the vast output of this monolithic entertainment giant. It was shown only once, with no advance notice on stations in only 5 cities in the US in 1995.
It presented interviews with self-described alien abductees who largely complained about their experiences, yet the film was used to launch the new Tomorrowland “themed land” in Disney’s world-famous theme park in Orlando, Florida.
In particular, the film was made to promote the new “ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter” ride, in which Disney’s then-CEO, Michael Eisner took particular interest. This impelled him to appear in this bizarre, tongue-in-cheek cameo referencing Area 51, during the the open of the film.
Eisner was heavily involved in the development of the ride itself, which he ordered shut down and tweaked because it wasn’t “intense enough”. The ride was eventually canceled in 2003, possibly because the word “terror” had by then taken on such a highly-charged significance.
There is evidence that this Disney production may well have been inspired by inside knowledge of preparations by both the US and Russian governments for UFO disclosure at that time – which were, like this rare film – quashed.