I don't know if this story gives any credibility to the possible WDW Fifth Theme Park Rumor, but it is a good one to tell nonetheless...
I was a student cast member during the Fall of 97, and during one of the seminars we were asked to envision any new ideas for WDW and expand on it. My friend Lindsay and I started to do some research AND started realizing that our generation will not be as inclined to visit WDW as the Baby Boomers, for various reasons. That Disney really needed a push in another direction, keeping with the unparalleled themes and experience.
We figured that the next step would be a park with more thrills, like MGMs Tower, but with a reason for those thrills... We excitedly realized that a park based on the Disney villians would give just that reason.
We set out and created a five or six page detailed plan that included ride ideas, such as the big icon being Snow White's Apple with a rollercoaster inside to a rollercoaster theme using Ursula's tenticles....we talked about the turnstiles and the bathrooms that emitted smoke every time you flushed.
Knowing that we had a unique idea, we presented it to the teachers and waited for some kind of feedback. Things started to get really odd around that time. We were asked a lot more detailed type questions about our park idea...and then nothing.
I was working at MGM's auto plaza at the time, and told the story to my managers (who I was really close to, as I had joined their band as one of the lead singers to fill in for one who was sick at the time)...and he was really excited about the idea, and started talking about telling other people. In the meantime, he took me on a tour of DAK (drove around perimeters) before it opened, and then said he was going to schedule a meeting with an imagineer friend of his who told my manager that we could draw up plans and present the idea to whoever their boss was.
The date was set, and as I walked into this meeting, I was met by my manager who told me that the whole thing was canceled...that I was a Disney employee and they would remind me that (the lawyers, I am assuming) all ideas created while an employee were Disney property and that if it was something that was going to happen, it wasn't mine.
Which really was frustrating, because I didn't want to "own" the idea or anything, I just wanted to take part in the process of presenting it and seeing where it was going. I understood that legal issues that I had signed when I became employeed there.
After I came home from the experience, I found a couple of rumor sites and I posted the same ideas and thoughts there. I recently have been looking to see if the rumor is still alive and see that it is, so just wanted to share my story with everyone.
As to if I would love to see Disney open a fifth park based on the Villains...of course I would, I loved that idea almost 10 years ago...seeing it come to life would secretly make me feel like I played a small role in it.