The identity of the sitcom juggernaut Friends was pretty deeply tied into the city of New York where the series took place. But occasionally, the main cast found excuses to visit other places, with amusing results. There was one planned trip to Disney World that ended up being scrapped because it was considered too “risqué “. While promoting the Friends reunion special, Kevin S. Bright, one of the original executive producers on the show, revealed how Disney approached them to talk about a crossover episode.
“We were very close to doing Friends in Disney World. Originally Disney World approached us. [Former Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO] Michael Eisner called me and said, ‘We’d really like to do a shoot on location in the park.'”
It can be hard to imagine the world of Friends crossing over with Disney World, considering how often the show was criticized for being too focused on sex and drinking. Still, Bright and his team came up with a pitch for the Disney World episode. It involved Joey getting a job at the park and having a fling with a Cinderella actress.
“Joey [Matt LeBlanc’s character] gets a summer job as a giant… he’s basically a giant lightbulb in the electrical parade. The cast goes down there to see him. And before they get there, Joey has a date with the girl in the Disney parade that plays Cinderella. They go back to his place, they have sex, and she realizes it’s midnight. She’s got to get that costume back or they’re gonna dock pay from her. So, she’s in a hurry, she gathers up her clothing, Joey doesn’t even know her name.”
This was the extent of the pitch that Bright and his team placed in front of Disney. And the Mouse Empire decided to give it a pass, which is understandable. The company has very strict rules in place for actors who dress up as Disney characters in the park and showing Cinderella sleeping with Joey would have sent the wrong message to Disney’s younger audiences.
Still, a similar storyline did end up happening on Friends in the much more appropriate location of Las Vegas. Joey goes to the city to find the movie he was supposed to work on got canceled. To make ends meet, he works dressed up as a gladiator in a casino, where the rest of the main cast come to visit him.
Instead of sleeping with Cinderella, Joey ended up becoming obsessed with a card dealer with similar hands to his, leading to a hilarious bit where Joey tries to think of ways to get rich with the help of his “hand twin”. All in all, the Las Vegas episodes ended up being even funnier than what the Disney World episode might have been. For his part, Bright seems to harbor no ill will towards Disney for pulling the plug on the planned crossover episode. Friends: The Reunion and all 236 episodes of Friends are currently available to stream on HBO Max.