Disney Plus is reviving “The Quest,” a critically acclaimed but short-lived fantasy reality series that aired on ABC in summer 2014. Casting is under way for a new version of the series, which will now focus on teenage contestants.
“The Amazing Race” executive producers Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri are back as executive producers of “The Quest,” and they’re also behind “The Maze,” a competition series in which teams must solve puzzles and figure out clues through European cities, much like a real-life escape room.
Both shows have been ordered as part of a new slate of unscripted series on Disney Plus, which also includes the six-part “Meet the Chimps” docuseries (produced via National Geographic) and an untitled show centered on Pixar’s SparkShorts program.
The four projects were announced Wednesday at the Realscreen Summit in New Orleans. “These projects take people on epic adventures, immerse them in fantastical worlds and shine a light on extraordinary people and creatures, which are all important benchmarks of our Disney Plus nonfiction content philosophy,” said Agnes Chu, senior VP of content for the streamer.
The original “The Quest” production team is all back for the show’s revival, including New Media Collective’s van Munster, Doganieri and Mark Dziak (“The Amazing Race”), Court Five’s Mark Ordesky (“The Lord of the Rings”) and Jane Fleming; Scout Productions’ David Collins, Michael Williams, Rob Eric (“Queer Eye”).
The revival will once again be filmed at a castle outside Vienna, Austria, and mix a scripted storyline — with adult actors playing various roles in the fantasy world of “Everealm” — with the unscripted reactions and competition elements that come from the show’s teenage contestants. The players will use their knowledge from fantasy books, games and movies to compete in a world created via a mix of computer-generated effects, creature design and practical effects. Five years after the original, the producers said it’s now much easier to embed and incorporate technology into the show.
Van Munster (above) said he pitched Disney Plus on a “Quest” revival soon after the streamer was announced. “We’re going bigger on the scripted part,” he said. “It’s a high-end reality competition. The location is a beautiful castle outside Vienna, and the woodlands and lakes around it. Visually and story-wise, it’s much broader.”
Why teen contestants? Van Munster said the goal is for family viewing. “The original show got a tremendous reaction from teenage viewers,” he said.
Added Rob Eric, chief creative officer at Scout Productions: “’The Quest’ is a truly unique unscripted show as it takes contestants into a fully immersive world of magic and fantasy. There is no better partner than Disney+ for this type of enchanted storytelling.”
As for “The Maze,” the competition centers on five teams, each consisting of one adult and one teen relative, as they solve riddles and clues through European cities and “fairytale villages.” Eventually they’ll make their way to a final destination where the winning team solves the maze first. Dziak also executive produces with van Munster and Doganieri. “The Maze” will likely make it to air before “The Quest.”
Besides those two shows, van Munster and Doganieri are also behind “Race to the Center of the Earth,” which premieres July 1 on National Geographic (the linear network). And they have additional seasons of “The Amazing Race” ready to air on CBS.
Among the other Disney Plus announcements, “Meet the Chimps,” from National Geographic, centers on the 200-acre “Chimp Haven” wildlife sanctuary in Louisiana, home to more than 300 chimpanzees. Blink Films (“Meet the Penguins”) is behind the show, with with Justine Kershaw and Michael Welsh serving as executive producers, and Virginia Quinn as series director.
And the untitled Pixar series will show how a group of company employees get the opportunity to make their own animated short film through the SparkShorts program. Supper Club (“Chef’s Table”) is producing the show, which comes from executive producers Brian McGinn, Jason Sterman and David Gelb. The Pixar project is part of a multi-year production deal that Supper Club has with Disney Plus, which also includes “Marvel’s 616,” “Earthkeepers,” and “People and Places,” which relaunches the original iconic Walt Disney documentary short film series from the 1950s and 1960s.