Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mini-Charrette: Universal Studios Florida

Since the opening of Diagon Alley I've wanted to draw a new USF Illustrative, and I thought I'd throw it out there for group participation again. 

The main areas of alteration/expansion for this master plan will be: (a) all of KidsZone, including E.T. & Animal Actors; (b) the large area between Men-in-Black & Springfield; (c) The Fear Factor stage.

I'm also open to potentially altering the area around Twister to better integrate the giant coaster... open to anything, really.

There are numerous rumors floating around, which can be incorporated (or one can go in unexpected directions).

POTTER UNIVERSE: For example, a London-based Ministry of Magic attraction is rumored to be earmarked for the Fear Factor area.  That could be a good addition, or this might be a place to incorporate something from the upcoming JK Rowling Magical Beast films (although I think those take place in 1930s NYC).

KIDSZONE REPLACEMENT: Rumors include a potential "best-of" Nickelodeon/Toon land with TV cartoons like SpongeBob, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Scooby Doo Haunted House, Smurfs or Dora.   Should this large area become a Dreamworks Animation area like Singapore has (and appeared on the Beijing artwork)?  A Universal monsters-based family area?  There were rumors about Universal acquiring Middle Earth rights, which could make for an interesting addition(and potentially take the neighboring Corner Plot, as well).

CORNER PLOT: Should this area be SciFi/Future in order to incorporate Men-in-Black?  If so, an idea I had would be to create an enormous Enteprise in dry-dock (similar to the 2009 movie) as the Weenie to a Star Trek land.  Another interesting rumor was to create a Tokyo to continue the city themes of the park (London, NY, LA, San Fran, Springfield), and make that home to a Fast & Furious ride (Radiator Springs Racers-style) and Godzilla attraction.

Regardless, the main path should loop through these two new areas so as not to create any dead ends.


For this exercise, we'll have a week of input/discussion in the comments section (rather than me re-posting), although you're welcome to email me any drawings/maps you care to make, as well.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

3rd Gate Charrette - Illustrative Plan

It is fitting to conclude this charrette exercise with an overlay of the site photo I used in the initial post:

This low-res image is just a preview as I finish up the Illustrative Plan.  Over the coming week or so (probably beginning this weekend), I will begin to update this post and review the park land by land, sharing excerpts of your written ideas that helped influence its designed (as well as things that weren't included, usually due to size constraints).

Thanks again for the participation.


OVERALL: The parameters for this project were to create a 3rd Gate that would:

A.    Physically complement the existing Resort, by centering the new park along the horizontal axis of the DLR Plaza, making it easily accessible to those park-hopping or staying at the western hotels.  This would also allow the main ticketing area to be used for all three parks.  While this location is not very feasible in reality (understatement) due to the ownership of these lots, it is the only space where this triad can be symmetrically achieved in the Anaheim Resort.

B.    Meet all current and future parking requirements via a massive new garage facility on part of the Strawberry Fields property.  A high-capacity elevated PeopleMover system (and associated walkway) would connect the facility to the DLR Plaza.

C.    Answer the Internet’s call to put Star Wars & Marvel properties in a 3rd Gate, rather than DL or DCA.

D.    Remove England-based Pooh from U.S.-based Critter Country. 

While I am always happy to entertain and design non-fiction concepts for parks, in this case parameters C & D pretty much assured this Gate would have heavy fiction/franchise presence, much as DisneySea is Disneyland in another guise.  

As we also discussed thoroughly, this park was designed “components up” versus “central theme down”.  I’ve done both ways many times, and they can both work well (quality comes down to execution in the end).   In this case, the park satisfies all the parameters, but the unusual choice for central icon, the Alien Beanstalk, has led to a unique and satisfying concept park.

The park is still without name, so feel free to continue to suggest.  The beanstalk is more of a background linkage among lands, so I don’t think it needs to be named after it.  There are the more catch-all names like “Heroes Realm/Kingdom of Heroes” or “World of Legends”, “Explorers”, “Wonders”, etc., or there could be a fictional name invented for the park. 

We’ll walk through the park and see what springs to mind.

PHASEOLUS GARDENS: The sights, smells and sounds of this area begin on the landscaped overpass that crosses from the DLR Plaza.  From the entry plaza to the central icon, the park is somewhat analogous to DAK; eschewing the urban, commercial entries of Main Street and Buena Vista Street for a much more exotic, nature-based one.   The only architecture of this area (holding all the required park entry facilities like Guest Services, Park-wide Game maps, bathrooms, sundries, strollers, etc.) are a series of unusual dilapidated stone ruins (with a henge-like feature covering the turnstiles).  The ruins are not of any known Earth civilization, although they look like they could be.  Covering these buildings are carved tableaux with mysterious hieroglyphs that depict, to the keen eye, the legends and adventures that await within the park.  Here’s a quick sketch to give you an idea of what I am envisioning here.

Inside the gate, guests enter a lush oasis of unusual plant and animal life.   In the distance is the Alien Beanstalk, purplish and green, pulsating, glowing at night.   Its tendrils coil skyward, shrinking as they rise.  The massive roots arc over paths and disappear back into the ground.  A water-like, fluorescent liquid pours in a stream from the beanstalk and fills a lagoon.  Around the Beanstalk are exploration paths, including a cavern to venture inside it.  Clues and interactive features (part of the  park-wide game) are found among these paths. 

…To be continued...

ENCHANTED FOREST:  The idea of making this land themed to the seasons was an excellent one.  Passing into the woods and over a stone bridge, one first comes upon a cottage, surrounded by Spring flowers, that houses a display indicating the Beanstalk tale from this land’s perspective.  I was originally thinking the Gummi-Glen Quick Cars would be an indoor attraction housed in a large show-building.  But as the plan developed, I saw that this Forest area needed a heavy dose of Forest (also serving as a visual berm), so I made it a larger cousin of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: indoor-outdoor attraction with terrain following track around a “grass”-topped hillock. 

Most of the land I drafted can be described by contributors:

“[Enchanted Forest] is themed to the changing seasons so the scenery would change with it (as indicated by the colour change and trees).   [At the entrance] there would be a small display from Mickey and the Beanstalk, implying that magic beans created the alien beanstalk (since every land seems to imply the beanstalk’s origin differently).  As a bonus, Willie the Giant would be watching from behind the trees.

SPRING Gummi Glen is set in the spring section and is a dark ride of some sort – still trying to figure out whether it would be a kiddie’s coaster or not using the show’s hawk quick cars for an underground adventure. The tree would be quite large, and a canopy of trees could be used to hide the ride building. 

SUMMER is based around the Tangled dark ride, indicated by the tower. Guests would enter through the tower’s bottom, then into a hall which goes out of the tower to the show building (but keeping the illusion it is still in the tower), which is hidden behind the big cliff backdrop behind the tower. Next to the attraction on the right is the Snuggly Duckling restaurant. 

AUTUMN The autumn section would be dedicated to Pooh and friends, and has two rides – Pooh’s Hunny Hunt located through a huge storybook, and a spinner ride called Blustery Buzz and is themed to spinning honey pots and bees caught in a strong gust of wind.  The shop in the area is Pooh’s Corner.  The middle area of the autumn section would likely have more trees and the homes of Pooh’s friends which would have sight gags and jokes.  For example, Pooh’s house would be there, and if you knock on the door, you hear Pooh inside saying no one is in because he is eating honey at the moment. Owl’s House, where an animatronic Owl interacts with guests, sleeping in his rocking chair until someone rings a doorbell, waking him up, and he regales them with stories of his wacky relatives. Similar to Mr. Potato Head at DCA.

WINTER The entrance features Narnia’s iconic lamppost from the first book… the rest of the landscape would have a snowy feature to it. The Enchanted Snow Palace is a boat ride [potentially melding elements of Narnia, Frozen and the never-built Marc Davis attraction].   Glacial Gazebo is a meet and greet location.”


“in the center I would place a small house of the 4 seasons with clocks and astrocalender things on it.”

...To be continued...

SHADOWLAND:  Continuing the description via contributor comments:

FORBIDDEN FOREST: The transition into this villains area comes off of The Hundred Acre Wood, where the charming and bright woods of the Pooh area turn dark and become a forest of ominous dead trees and thorns. Here we have those spooky trees from Snow White and Wizard of Oz, and the trees are built so they form a kind of tunnel with their branches. There are spooky sounds and those little green eyes blinking in the darkness here…so that little kids playing in the Hundred Acre Woods know not to go into "the dark part of the forest. 

 Nockturn Alley at Universal in Orlando is an influence on the whole Shadowlands area, where efforts are made to use the trees and mountain and buildings to create areas where it is always dark and spooky, which would be a first for a Disney park. The trees are great at blocking sight lines so that when inside Shadowlands it is a world of shadow that makes you feel like you have stumbled into this shadowy, spooky place unlike anything in a Disney park. 

VILLAIN VILLAGE: As guests continue on a path curving to the left of the mountain, they leave the Forbidden Forest and they enter the villain-dominated town.  Shadowlands has a lot of echoes of other areas of Disney parks, only here the bad guys rule. So all the businesses in the Village are run by the various villains.  Kind of like on the show Once Upon a Time, where the storybook characters have day jobs in StoryBrooke.  I think here in Sleepy Hollow there could be a meeting hall or theater like the Golden Horseshoe where the villains could have a stage show/revue. Perhaps this could be hosted by Cruella de Vil and/or Dr. Facilier. 

The main ride of Village area would be an Ichabod Crane/Headless Horseman ride. I like this as an echo of Mr. Toad's at Disneyland (because Mr. Toad/Ichabod shared a cartoon movie together). This ride uses the mystic manor technology and has guests moving through the creepy forest and trying to get away from the Horseman. This ride is a nice transition from the Forbidden Forest area into Villain Village], since it incorporates a forest element. 

The Village is where lots of villains merchandise can be exclusively found… shops selling unique things.  A Cruella De Vil shop that actually made by hand really interesting costumes. They could sell these online too and take orders but the shop would be based here. I know this is a radical idea, but cosplay is big business.  The shop could be a kind of attraction to watch the seamstresses and tailors at work creating this stuff.   This Third Gate would be designed in a way where the cosplay is part of the park's culture…and Disney would make that known to guests that unlike at DCA or Disneyland, guests could cosplay in here and dress as a theme of the different areas. So you could dress up as your favorite area and spend time there in the themed environment and basically play Halloween every day in the themed environments. 

The Village would have all kinds of in-jokes and references to all the various villains from Disney movies. You see they have all moved here after being defeated. Just like Diagon Alley, there are references to lots of things and signs for their businesses and it makes sense to have random appearances by all of these obscure characters.  Every day, there would be appearances here by at least one character never seen anywhere else, like they are living in this little town in exile.
The villains have a support group for one another here. They are nursing their wounds and trying to get back on their feet to try again against the heroes of the Disney parks. 
HALLOWEENTOWN: HalloweenTown is accessed through a big tree with a giant door with a pumpkin on it. HalloweenTown itself is the queue for the Nightmare Before Christmas (NBC) ride. It's all inside a cavernous building so it is dark in there. It's the HalloweenTown as seen in the NBC movie. There is that distinctive fountain and all the crazy buildings and animatronics of the different creatures from the movie here and there, having just finished Halloween. When you go through this queue, you are walking down the streets of HalloweenTown…and then you come to City Hall behind the fountain…and that is the entrance to the ride. And then it's a NBC ride so that Disney stops overlaying Haunted Mansion every year and has a permanent NBC ride. The ride itself is a NexGen Peter Pan's Flight. You are riding on the sleigh pulled by Zero…and the projection technology makes Zero the ghost dog appear in front of you, pulling the skeleton reindeer. You float along above HalloweenTown and other places following Jack Skellington as he tries to takeover Christmas. The ride's gift shop is a NBC shop that sells exclusive items and also Halloween ornaments for "Halloween Trees" like Ray Bradbury wanted and they do at Disneyland as a tradition.

 CHERNABOG MOUNTAIN: The [enormous backdrop] mountain is topped with a [perspective miniature] of Maleficent's Forbidden Fortress, echoing Sleeping Beauty's castle and announcing this area as the corner of the Disney Universe where the villains go when they are defeated.  Also built in perspective miniature on the mountain heights is Captain Hook’s pirate ship, wrecked like it had been flying and crashed into the side of the mountain.

Under Chernabog [reached by passing through ruined gates and into a cavern] is an internal dark lagoon, Sirens Cove, with haunted singing in the area.   Here is found a signature E-tick ride, The Gathering. This large and impressive experience, a full-on E-ticket waterflume ride (PotC), features the Evil sorcerer Yensid, who, in an attempt to rule the universe, draws on an army of infamous villains to aid him in corrupting the Beanstalk to spread darkness to and from other worlds.  


The Maleficent coaster, with queue also housed inside the Mountain, is one of two experiments in this park with bringing a "thrill park-style" coaster to a heavily-themed Disney environment.  With major maneuvers like Cobra Rolls, Corkscrews and Immelmann Loops it doesn't seem fully possible to imbed everything in rockwork, so here the coaster track itself could be themed to the chaotic, twisting mass of giant thorn vines below the Evil Queen's castle and set in a sunken morass and surrounded by rockwork ridges.

..To be continued...


GREECE: Mythos has three sub-areas, and the Grecian area has a light side and a darker one.  The darker side is the one bordering Shadowland, with an interactive Maze of the Minotaur, a Cerberus spinner ("in which Hades’ three-headed dog grabs hold of the passengers and spins them around") and Temple of Hades.  The lighter side is an ancient Aegean port with a lighthouse, explorable Argo, and swinging Trireme.  The major ride in this area is a cousin to TDS' original Sinbad’s Seven Voyages… this time passing through the various Labors of Hercules brought to life in stylized, storybook fashion via dozens of highly-articulated mini-AAs.  A reproduction of an Athenian theater hosts live productions.  The Agora is a greek marketplace filled with various unique food and merch vendors.

Contributor Input:
“The separator between the Greek and Roman area is a large Archimedes Screw which rests near the end of the water. This screw pulls water out of the lake and into a characteristic Roman Aqueduct, which runs to the Roman Hotel where it is used as a water feature at the pool.”

ROME: The Roman area is dominated by the Hotel Imperator.  This hotel is very different from something like Caesar’s Palace Vegas, which dresses modern 20+ story hotel buildings in kitschy pediments.  Instead, the approach here is like Tokyo Mira Costa: attempt to replicate the scale and feel of a romanticized Ancient Rome, via authentic detailing, staying relatively low-rise (5-8 stories), using setbacks and the appearance of a contingent of smaller buildings:

Hopefully, you can tell from the plan that Rome is built on two pedestrian levels.   On the lower, waterfront area there is a new type of flatride (a 21st century, super-sized version of The Whip) styled after the Circus Maximus.   I imagined the Cosplay shop described in Shadowland could be applied in other areas as well (here, there could be gladiator gear or togas).  The Pantheon is a mixed-media (circlevision?) theater telling varied stories (i.e., slot-machine-style, like Star Tours) of the Classical World, its history and mythology.

ATLANTIS: This area is not themed to the Disney animated film, but features original Art Direction and stories.  The Sinking City section near the E-ticket ride features the Catastrophe Canyon-like effect described below:
“Atlantis will be the most technologically challenging area to develop. It consists of two sections, one above ground and one below the lagoon. The area above ground rests on enormous shaker tables and approximately every 30 min the ground rumbles and causes buildings to “collapse.” During these shows, water will flow from the top of the mountain range into predetermined flood zones and statues, spires and other objects will “break” (built on hinges and retract after a few min).”

Adjacent to and within the Volcano is an explorable Atlantean Palace, Aquarium tunnel access and the undersea-viewing restaurant (imagine IoA's Mythos underwater) .  An overpass bridge leads to the Superhero land, and a path through the center of the volcano leads to Discovery Outpost.

The multi-level paths (and many hotel rooms) also serve as viewing areas for the nighttime lagoon spectacular which uses the Volcano and Palace as a backdrop.

“Atop the Mountain is a Tesla Coil used to cast lightning as Zeus/Jupiter would and as a special effect during the nighttime show.”  

Legend of Mythica, recently retired from TDS, would seem an ideal daytime show for this lagoon, although I didn’t include the necessary boat storage/maintenance area in this plan.


...To be continued...

SUPERBASE: I originally considered a San Fransokyo-inspired SuperCity environment (with urban blocks) for this area, but ended up doing something that is closer to a SuperHeroes’ secret base/settlement on the edge of an exotic wilderness.  The showbuildings/facades block the freeway on the built-up side and the Volcano/Jungle/Beanstalk form the interior “edge of the wild”.

Near the Beanstalk there is a small expeditionary camp set up by SHIELD to investigate the Beanstalk.  The land’s anchor E-ticket attraction here is based on The Avengers (what that indoor, multi-level ride could be, I’ll leave to your imaginations).  Its weenie would be a scaled-down 'techitecture' glass & steel tower.  Assuming the movie is a homerun, I put in space for a family ride based on Big Hero 6.   The Incredibles family ride glides along an elevated track into the jungle and up and through the Volcano.  There was an idea of using tech similar to that on the Nemo Subs at Disneyland (projecting events onto the glass windows that look like they are happening in the jungle or lava pools outside the Pods.
The land’s Cosplay vendor could sell/rent customized superhero costumes.

The final attraction is a Stark/IronMan Labs, which holds a number of small scale ride/attraction experiences indoors.  As contributed, these include:

"Iron Man Gauntlet Testing:  There are several partitioned stations. When you walk to your cubicle you are looking through a piece of Plexiglas into a room. This looks like one of those stations that people in the biohazard lab use to handle objects.  You slide your hands into a pair of Iron Man's gauntlets. Though invisible, you are seeing the room through Mylar Foul that allows the Pepper's Ghost effect to create the illusion that it then becomes sort of a magic shooting gallery. Depending on what you hit all sorts of things happen in the room on the other side of the plexiglass.

The Hulk: Recreates the ability to jump like Hulk.

Iron Man Boot Experience: A person would lay back and be strapped in. They would place their feet into IronMan boots. They would be shot up the long diagonal tube and then slide back down breaking at the bottom.

The Marvel Carousel (Multilevel): All of the ride units face the center of the ring. There are two rings. The inner one doesn't simulate as many Gs. The outer one travels fast enough to be a mildly thrilling. Riders can travel up and down the pole as well as tilt side to side, forward and back a bit.”

...To be continued...

STARPORT: I enjoyed reading this backstory for this area because it didn’t replicate things we’ve already seen on film, but created a new world that fit within the cinematic universes:

“BACKSTORY: Not long ago, a Jedi whose spaceship had been badly damaged by imperial fire crash-landed on this mysterious, unknown planet.  The terrain was hot and dry and rocky and seemingly devoid of life, making the Jedi fear for her survival.  Just as she was about to give up hope, she came across a towering beanstalk. It seemed too good to be true - no more than a desert mirage.  She reached out to grab it, and, finally convinced it was real, fell to the ground with tears of joy.

While the Jedi worked to repair her spaceship, the beanstalk sustained her with shelter, kindling, and food. But still she had a problem: no fuel. Until one evening, when an ember from her campfire blew onto a distant root of the beanstalk, which burst into flames like a drum of gasoline.  The Jedi couldn’t believe her luck: the roots of the beanstalk contained an ethanol-like fuel, which could power her spaceship.  Refueled and refreshed, she flew off to tell the Jedi council about this new planet.

Word spread quickly, and settlers from all over the galaxy traveled here seeking their fortunes.  A boomtown arose, complete with a starport, agricultural research center, and luxury hotel.  Since the planet was devoid of traditional building materials, most of the settlers built makeshift shelters, replicating the architecture of their home worlds with materials from their spacecraft.  After all, what use was a spaceship when they didn’t intend to leave?  At least not until they’d domesticated the beanstalk.

The settlers planted cuttings from the beanstalk all around the planet.  It didn’t grow everywhere, but where it did, it took off like kudzu.  None of the child beanstalks grew as tall as their mother, but they provided more than enough food and fuel for the settlers’ use and for trade.  Even better, they enriched the soil, allowing plants from almost any other planet to thrive on the formerly harsh terrain.  Still, the settlers continue to dream, hoping that one day they’ll learn the beanstalk’s secrets and grow a forest of plants as tall as the original.

THE FIELDS: The southern part of StarPort - the part nearest the Alien Beanstalk - consists of beanstalk fields tended by both droids and human scientists. Lacking the museums, theaters, and other recreational options available in an established city, the settlers have made the fields do double duty as a combination of working farm and pleasure garden.

The fields are also home to a research station where scientists are developing new rockets designed to run on beanstalk fuel and traverse the still-harsh terrain of the Planet.  Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star-Lord) has been chosen to test-pilot the new rocket and, despite the rules against it, invites us to join him. This [transforming] coaster (E ticket) blasts through both the fields and the neighboring Xandar settlement, with a rockin’ ’70s and ’80s soundtrack provided by the Star-Lord himself.

THE TERMINAL: At the north end sits a massive transit terminal. With a growing population and acres of farmland to protect, StarPort is constantly in need of more runways and more pilots.  With its abundant fuel supplies, StarPort has become a popular stop for teamsters who pilot supply ships across the galaxy.  Part of the StarPort caters specifically to these travelers, with an “intergalactic truck stop” feel.  Visitors can fuel up, pick out souvenirs at the truck stop shop, and even grab some grub at the Starlite Diner. Next to the diner is a rough-and-tumble bar with sultry alien chanteuses.

The terminal contains several attractions:
 Pilots’ Academy (D ticket), a bay of Sum of All Thrills-style simulators where guests can learn what it’s like to pilot various vehicles from the Star Wars universe [from X-Wings to AT-ATs].”

Undetermined Star Wars Ride (E ticket): In this area would also be the land’s anchoring new E-ticket, with a distinct architectural tower/feature marking its entrance.   With so many of the Star Wars attractions (including DL’s Star Tours) already dealing with battles in space, I think this experience should take a different tack.

Another contributor adds:
Star Wars Saga Theater (D ticket): “Audience chairs swivel. LED stars embedded in walls of theater. There is a proscenium in front and back of theater.  Star Destroyer enters over audience creates opening scene to Ep 4. Memorable fights acted out on stage, possibly far back enough to use the Mylar film tech, live actors or both. Scaled down replicas of Xwing (front stage) and TIE fighter (back stage) enter and laser fight ensues. Ceiling is giant LCD screen. Ships "fly" using crane and Kuka and projections are on screen on back of stage for speed effects, spx and backgrounds. Rockettes Dancing.  A cylinder drops from ceiling into middle of auditorium (thus the swivel chairs) and inside is a "hologram" of the Emperor.”

I thought a restaurant based on a Droid Factory filled with famous and not-so-famous AA robots and (with automated service (few humans)) would be a cool themed dining experience for this area.

StarShuttle (C ticket), this is a sleek train to Tomorrowland appears to have windows from the outside, but from within follows the model set by the Hogwarts Express.  The land has lots of kinetic movement, with elevated tracks for the GotG Coaster, the DL Monorail and the StarShuttle criss-crossing above pedestrians’ heads.

“THE GALACTIC EMBASSY HOTEL:  Built to serve business travelers and diplomats from across the galaxy and to boost StarPort’s reputation, the Galactic Embassy Hotel is the height of luxury. The central lobby features a planetarium-style dome. It’s perpetually night here, just like at the Blue Bayou, and you can always see the stars. Perhaps there are spacecraft hanging from the ceiling (as at the Air and Space Museum) and Star Wars memorabilia in display cases.” 

Another contributor adds:

“I think it would be awesome to have large digital picture frames in your room that do a slide show of photos from your day taken by Photopass; for the room to feature two televisions. One for the kids with wireless headphones and one tv for the adults.  Futuristic toilets that many hotels in Japan have.  The tv, lights, bath, a/c to be voice-operated.  Your room's voice butler could be the character voice of your choice.   The windows use liquid crystals to become opaque.  LED's along the crown molding and baseboards so that you can control the colors of the walls.  The ceiling and railings of the lobby to be outfitted with fiber optics so that at night, light levels are lowered and the whole place looks like a star field.”

Here’s an additional proposal for a more rural area of the StarPort.  There wasn’t the room to include this (save the small, storytellers stage), but I liked the idea:

“THE SETTLEMENTS: A sprawling cluster of ramshackle homes and businesses fills the eastern parts of the StarPort, bordering the Galactic Embassy Hotel and Superheroes Land. Settlers from the same planet tend to congregate in the same area, giving rise to neighborhoods like Tatooinetown and Little Naboo. Wandering through the alleys of the settlements, you’ll artifacts from all over the Star Wars universe and meet some of your favorite characters.  At the center of the settlements is an open-air market where vendors hawk their wares. The market also contains The Theater (C ticket), a tented performance space hastily constructed from spare spaceship parts to satisfy the settlers’ demand for entertainment. Here, human actors and droids re-enact beloved sci-fi stories using only the materials at hand, in a style similar to Fantasy Faire in Disneyland.  If needed, the settlements could also house a couple midway-style B tickets built in a similar style to the Theater.  The settlement bordering Superhero Land is Little Xandar. It provides a backdrop for the coaster ride as well as a transition to the Marvel Universe.”

 ...To be concluded...

DISCOVERY OUTPOST:  This is a late 19th-, early 20th-century, secret steampunk research outpost at the base of a giant, active volcano.  The S.E.A. Observatory is an exploratory attraction (with light dining), filled with numerous SFX-filled science rooms: a machine-age cousin to Fortress Explorations.  Capt. Nemo's large dry-for-wet submarine dark ride takes riders on a lengthy “undersea” voyage filled with wonders and dangers, with a glimpse of the submerged ruins of neighboring Atlantis.  Subtle nods to the Beanstalk mythology would exist in both of these attractions.

Entering through very large iron “blast doors”, the tunnels and chambers bored within the Volcano (TDR) provide access to dining & retail options and transition to the Lost Realm of Atlantis.  A vertical attraction (steampunk-themed junior spaceshot) within the volcano would take advantage of the structure’s height.
I’ll conclude this exercise with a triptych sketch of three of the park’s weenies:


Monday, September 15, 2014

3rd Gate Charrette - Phase II

UPDATE I: First take-away comments are up (in red).  Will do a couple more take-aways each night this week.

UPDATE II:  I've finished writing my thoughts/take-away on all the proposals.  I'll soon post what I think the themed contents of the park should be.  Feel free to give feedback.  I'll then ask for volunteers to tackle those individual lands (with provided space and content parameters).

UPDATED III:  Scroll to the bottom for the park contents and next phase info.

Sincere thanks to those of you who participated.  I’ve really enjoyed reading your 3rd Gate Anaheim Proposals, and there are so many good ideas that it will be a challenge to fuse/whittle them down to a single park.  Before getting to the proposals, some initial thoughts/notes:

I received two really awesome single attraction concepts: a new version of the Great Movie Ride and a Goonies-based stunt show.  My current inclination is to save these for a future post: maybe a re-imagined Hollywood area at DCA or attraction Scenic Layout(s).

There were around eight park proposals in total, which covered a broad spectrum:
      DISNEYSKY by protojimbo
      FANTASEA by Isaac D.
      DISNEYUNIVERSE by Parkitect80 
      WESTCOT by William Z.
      FANTASIA by Luke J.
      KINGDOM OF HEROES by Colin

I should start by saying the impetus for this project was that I was seeing a lot of commentary that Disney should find a long-term home for Marvel & Star Wars in a 3rd Gate, rather than adding them to DL or DCA.  When this kind of rumor or zeitgeist arises, I like to visualize it in a park plan.  Before taking this to a collective charrette, I did some doodling in my sketchbook:

Not pretty, but it shows some of my early thoughts, such as:

(i)keeping the entry land and central park icon on the x-axis of the central resort plaza, (just as MainStUSA/Castle and BuenaVista/Carthay are on the y-axis.
(ii)having the key southern parking garage(s) accessible to the main DLR plaza by a pedestrian “highline” that travels above and through the entire park, as well as a peoplemover system.
(iii) creating some kind of Hogwarts Express-inspired concept to connect Tomorrowland to the new park (I hope the guy at Universal Creative who came up with that idea got a nice bonus).
(iv) a general double-helix shape to the park pathways (reflected in the Star-Warsian spire)
(v) seeing the continued popularity of the high-fantasy genre maybe including a Prydain that coincides with a hypothetical future, big budget live-action film series (believe Disney still owns the Lloyd Alexander book rights)
(vi) moving Pooh out of the American West-set Critter Country to this park (possibly doing the same with Nightmare before Christmas).

I thought there were some cool intersects between what I was thinking and what some of you came up with.

For Today, I am going to post only the proposals.  The easiest way I could think of to share the proposals here (in a somewhat uniform way) was to put each into a single large image file.  This meant I had to cut-up and re-arrange them somewhat, but the ideas should come across.

Over this week I will update this post with my take-away on each of the proposals.  Feel free to add your thoughts and comments.

DISNEYSKY by protojimbo
ACCESS TO DLR PLAZA: We are on the same page regarding the entries and central icons aligning along the X-axis of the resort plaza.  I had been thinking of an open-air overpass similar to the west side one to DTD (West St dips under it), but a building with an indoor overpass is definitely something to consider (maybe tie into the entry land).  The entire Eastern plaza will be reconfigured so opportunity may exist for a smaller DTD II.

HOTELS: If used, I agree hotels should be in-park and serve as architectural berms.  Hotels require sizable footprints so they do cut into park space and three may require too much.  Need to consider height/views from all areas of park (and neighboring parks) when deciding about hotels. 

OVERALL PARK THEME: DisneySky is a strong overall theme and a natural member of the theme park triumvirate (would work better here if DCA was DisneySea).    While great parks don’t require an over-arching theme, I think having one is never a bad thing.

CENTRAL ICON: This sounds like an appropriate icon for a DisneySky although I’m having a little trouble imagining what style it would be (fantasy glass castle, machine age Palais, futuristic?)

LANDS:  As noted, this entire exercise began because of a call to move Star Wars & Marvel into their own park.  I’m still not sure what that should mean for Tomorrowland & Star Tours… I like the idea of TL reverting to Real World Techno-Optimism (meaning Buzz, Nemo Subs, Eo would all need to be replaced).  But I also like the idea of connecting TL to StarWarsLand across the parks…

Pandora (Avatar) could also be a compelling area to include, especially if one takes a cost-conscience approach to this project (cloning the DAK area would be good bang-for-buck).

IP VERSUS ORIGINAL: I do think a mix is healthy, and I tend to think the right mix is (at least) 60-40 in favor of original.  As I’ve written here many times, I like the idea that theme parks can be the progenitors of IP (e.g., PotC) as well as showcases of pre-existing IP.

ATTRACTIONS: Good of you to address the Soarin’ over the World dilemma (how it will further take the California out of DCA). 

I would avoid any naked coasters, especially large-scale ones, unless there is a way to make the coaster/track fit the story (which could conceivably be possible in the two environments mentioned).  Otherwise a naked coaster does a lot to negate all the theme-ing around it, IMO.  

Really like the idea of the large overhanging turbines making the heli-carrier appear to float.

FANTASEA by Isaac D.
OVERALL PARK THEME: Fittingly following Sky-based park is a Sea-based 3rd Gate proposal.

ENTERTAINMENT: I think including a park-wide interactive game, like ‘SeaQuest,’ from the ground up is a definite (although not visible on a master plan).  Hopefully, with physical effects like the brilliant ‘Treasures of Seven Seas’ game in the MK.  The end-of-day spectacular has also become an expected part of the park experience.

PARK ACCESS: Your entry land is at the southern center edge of the property (near the new parking decks).  This gets me thinking about giving the park a front and back door (like EPCOT)… one near the parking, one at the opposite end near the DLR Plaza.

LANDS: Most Ports of Call here are strictly themed to a specific filmic world, like Carsland or Diagon Alley.  There are both advantages and drawbacks to this approach to consider.

For all proposals, another thing to consider will be how to keep the offerings unique from what already exists at the DLR.  

Interesting that two proposals have a Mermaid area housed inside a major central mountain.

MONORAIL: You also bring up the monorail (which you have connecting Naboo to Tomorrowland).  You’ve got me thinking about altering its path to go through/stop in the 3rd Gate.

OVERALL PARK THEME: This is the first example of a more all-encompassing park theme… like an Islands of Adventure or Magic Kingdom, anything could fall under this umbrella, which gives more freedom to include things.

LAND USE: Interesting that you suggest keeping Strawberry Fields undeveloped for future use and put the new parking structures south of Paradise Pier Hotel.  I had thought about a water park for that area, but it is something to consider.  Regardless, whether the Strawberry Fields are used for parking or future attractions in this scenario, there needs to be some sort of major access-way between it and the DLR Plaza, either through the park or around it.

WATER: Not unlike FantaSea, a major body of water takes up large portion of the center of the park.  Should consider the pros (visually pleasing, unique to area, stage for entertainment, transport) and cons (takes up a lot of real-estate, opens up wide sight-lines).  For a Sea-based park it is pretty essential.

CENTRAL ICON: I really like some of the Lighthouse details you’ve described such as the carved panels depicting adventures from both the Trojan Wars and Star Wars, as well as the giant flame at the top.  Having the bridges to Lighthouse Island retract for the nighttime show is another really cool idea.  

HIGHWAY: Your mountain range/sound-absorbing wall brings up the importance of insulating the park from the adjacent freeway.  Whether with a rockwork mountain range or architecture, blocking it will be a major factor in the park design.

CROSS-DEMO APPEAL: As noted, most of the park concepts tend to skew a little more towards the thrill, YA/adult crowd, probably because a lot of us fall into those demos.   We should keep in mind that the park should also have content that appeals to the past-/pre-thrill ride demos, as well as those looking for some sophistication.

EDUTAINMENT: I love when parks/attractions entertain, but teach you something simultaneously (especially when you don’t realize you’re learning).  For example, meticulously re-searching and re-creating a Meso-American temple for an Indiana Jones Adventure queue can subconsciously teach somebody about the Mayan Civilization.  Land & attractions can have real substance.  In this case, I really like the Greek/Roman lands & Renaissance Fort for going beyond pure entertainment.

S.E.A.: Your mention of Fort Explorations had me thinking… can S.E.A. (Disney theme parks version of The Avengers) be introduced in the 3rd gate in a new original attration?

STAR WARS: When/if Star Wars is included in this gate (which feels likely), the question will be how to represent it?  Specific planets/settings from past films?  New settings from future films?  Original settings created specifically for this park?  Will the new trilogy return to Hoth or Endor, making them more relevant?

SUPERHEROES: Similarly, how should the diversity of Marvel be handled (I also agree that Guardians of the Galaxy seems like a natural transition between Star Wars/present-set Marvel)?  Should animated superheroes like Big Hero Six and the Incredibles co-habitate with RDJ’s Tony Stark?

LANDS: Your idea for Atlantis struck me the most because of how cool it would be (although not too easy to communicate on a park plan) to experience the destruction effect every half-hour.

DISNEYUNIVERSE by Parkitect80 
CENTRAL ICON: You’ll note that I had a twisting “Star Wars-ian” spire as the central icon in my initial sketch, and this giant purple, alien ‘beanstalk’ idea is of a similar vein – I can imagine what the Beanstalk would look like, with a mess of huge tangled roots at the base – a sci-fi Tree of Life.   It plays well off of your 1950s Main St, also.   Alien Beanstalk is a very strong contender to be the icon for the park I will draw: it’s bold, risky, memorable, fun-to-say and nothing like it has been done before.  

COSTUMING & COSPLAY: This is an interesting area to me, which unfortunately doesn’t come through on a master plan but is good to think about.  I often imagine how theme parks can move to another level of virtual reality and a major issue is always no matter how well designed your Old West Town is, it will be full of tourists in modern dress & accoutrements.  For me, the most transportative experiences at the parks usually came when they emptied out and the suspension of disbelief became much easier.  I think there is room for major advances in cast (called that for a reason) costuming and character-playing.  I’m not really familiar with cosplay, but it sounds interesting that the visitor can also enter into these virtual worlds – strengthening the illusion (granted they don’t change for each land they enter).

CROWDFLOW: Like your thoughts on “organically” shrinking or widening paths for intimacy or large crowds, depending on requirements.

ENTERTAINMENT: If there is the expected giant night-time extravaganza, there should be consideration of viewing designed in from day one.  At the same time, a massive amphitheater that sits empty all day may not be something to have in the park’s center (e.g., at DHS it's hidden away).

LANDS: I think a dark/scary area (incorporating Villains/Halloween), which comes up in a number of proposals, is a strong contender for a land in this gate.

WESTCOT by William Z.
REAL WORLD VERSUS FANTASY: This WestCOT concept is refreshing because all the other proposals, including mine, are heavily fantasy/film/fiction-based.  Even though this 3rd Gate Project is going to include fiction, due to the ‘Star Wars/Marvel imperative’, I think it would be very good to include some non-fiction, edutainment in the park.  At some point in the future I would like to design another realism-based theme park, especially because of their increasing rarity.

LANDSCAPE: The Buchart Gardens-inspired area reminds me of the importance of the ‘Park’ part of ‘Theme Park’.   Landscape design is a critical part of the making of a great park.   A particular style of ongoing landscape maintenance is also key.  Plants need grow-in, embrace/frame architecture, provide shade, block views, provide a canopy in places, tell their part of an area's story, and add to the sense of life, realism and permanence.  In the endless sprawl of L.A., this kind of lush, rolling oasis is especially desirable.

CENTRAL ICON: The Tower of Babel is an interesting idea for a central icon (would nicely fit a Holy Land park).  Your Tower of Babel seems to be a showcase of world architecture rather than the biblical structure, which is also a cool idea.

ARCHITECTURE: I found it interesting that two proposals included a Frank Lloyd Wright aesthetic.

STRICTLY- VERSUS LOOSELY-THEMED LANDS: As I review each proposal the final park concept comes into better focus.  This Fantasia park nicely illustrates the way I intend to go regarding specificity of land themes: the loosely-themed, more-encompassing strategy used in this proposal.  For example, rather than a “Star Wars Land”, you’ll have “Galactic StarPort”, which can still have a heavy Star Wars influence, but is able to include other similar content like Guardians of the Galaxy (and original content!).  Again, rather than a “Marvel Land” area, there could be a Super Hero zone that can include Incredibles or others that don’t have to be Marvel.  To use a 3rd example, rather than a “Hundred Acre Wood” or “Arendelle”, you could have a “Fantasy Forest” that can have sub-areas themed to these properties, if desired.  

RE-CREATING FILMIC WORLDS VS. EXPANDING ON THOSE WORLDS:  I think the theme park presents an opportunity to not simply re-create an established filmic world, but to expand on it.  I think Indiana Jones Adventure in DL is the perfect example…  we know it inhabits Indiana Jones world of pulp 1930s archaeology, but it does not try to replicate the Peruvian temple from Raiders or the Grail temple from Last Crusade.    There are nods to the movies (rolling ball), but this is a new adventure that can’t be experienced anywhere else.

To this point, when it comes to creating park areas based on famous IP, I want a large part of it to be original and unique to the park, while still recognizable as inhabiting that universe.

Same goes for attractions: no book reports.

WEENIES: If the park entrance/central icon are to be aligned with the DLR Plaza in the northern section of the park, then, as I sketched, there need to be major weenies at the far southeastern & southwestern corners of the park to draw people in.  The Chernabog Mountain described in this proposal could be an inspiration for one of those weenies and anchor a Haunted/Villain/Dark land mentioned earlier.  

SEASONAL ATTRACTIONS: This proposal also includes an interesting idea of a “quick-change” dark ride that changes with the Seasons… this is a pretty cool idea, and I think other overlays could be added in addition to Fall (Halloween) & Winter (Christmas), such as Spring & Summer.   If used here, then the NBC overlay could vacate New Orleans Square.


CHANGING THE THEME PARK EXPERIENCE: This proposal gets the out-of-box-thinking prize, featuring – if I’m understanding correctly – not individual attractions as we know them, but a single “endless” ride (you could ride for hours or minutes at a time, at your discretion) in autonomous vehicles traveling through enormous buildings (housing varying “lands”) featuring many different scenes & adventures, with traffic control via LPS computers.  It’s so unique from what we’ve come to think of as theme parks, that the proposal feels like it merits its own separate exploration at some point in the future.  I am very intrigued.

ACTIVE VERSUS PASSIVE ENTERTAINMENT: The proposal brings up the concept of greater guest control of the ride experience, ever-changing ride content and random interaction with characters.   All things to consider, regardless of the final themes used.

CENTRAL ICON & ENTRY LAND: I like the visualization of what looks like a forested Pride Rock with waterfall spilling over the tip.  Having a river flow down the center of the entry land is also an interesting concept (Oasis sort of does this).


KINGDOM OF TIME: While briefly described here, a Journey through Time Park is a concept I've done work on in the past and want tackle again in the future.  I think it is a great idea for an overall park theme, gives a natural opportunity to layout the park as a physical progression through the planet's/mankind's history.   Something like this could be saved for a future Charrette/Master Planning session or a second gate to Shanghai. 

KINGDOM OF HEROES: This name is sort of the direction the park is taking, since it is is going to have a somewhat disparate collection of content (Marvel/Superheroes; Star Wars; Enchanted Forest; Villains; S.E.A./Discovery; and maybe Classical Civlization/Mythos (Greek/Roman/Atlantis).   What over-arching theme can link all these?  We can rule out Sea & Sky (those will be good candidates for future park designs, i.e., 2nd gates for Hong Kong/Shanghai, etc.).  Heroes, Adventure are good linking terms, but is it really a Kingdom? 

UPDATED III: Here is a general land-allocation for the 3rd Gate (and rough sketch of the Alien Beanstalk).

Now we're ready to move into Phase III.  

Pick a land (feel free to do more than one) and use the very general area allocated above to design that land.  Let me know what land you're going to tackle in the comments section.  Hopefully each will be covered.  (I'll do the Jupiter Gardens entry).  Feel free to develop ideas from anything you've seen above.  You'll have until Sunday the 21st to turn in any land ideas.  

Drawing a basic layout of the land would be most welcome.  You shouldn't use the right angle borders above (make them organic), but understand the space available, the neighboring areas and think about transitions.

Each land should be designed within reason, e.g.:
0-2 E-tickets (major coasters, major darkrides)
0-2 D-tickets (moderate darkrides, major theatricals)
1-3 C-tickets (minor darkride, elaborate explore zones, minor theatricals)
1-3 B-tickets (spinners, short walkthroughs, meet&greets)

Dining and retails should also be included.

Try to make use of new ride systems and ones that are not used at DL or DCA.

Feel free to suggest name changes to the lands/park/attractions.

 -ACCESS TO PARKING: I ended up having the "pedestrian high line" and "parking peoplemover" circumvent the park rather than travel above and through it, as the technology would not necessarily mesh well with the themed areas it needed to cross.

-ENTRY LAND: While I like the connection between a 1950s Main St and the Sci Fi Beanstalk, a 1950s Main Street would look and feel close to the DL Main St, architecturally (as 1950s main streets were typically filled with buildings from prior decades).  As the Central Icon is a sort of Sci-Fi tree of life, Jupiter Gardens will be an exotic, lush entrance (Animal Kingdom's Oasis) with a stream, unusual trees, etc.  I feel this is a good run-up to the Beanstalk which will have paths running through and under it.

-STARPORT & GALAXY HOTEL: This area can have a heavy Star Wars presence/influence, but try not to replicate a specific Star Wars location (the rides can take you to familiar locations if necessary).  Would like to see this area connect to Tomorrowland as discussed in the comments.

-SUPERHEROES AREA:  Can make this area urban with a SanFransokyo skyline blocking the highway, if desired.  S.H.I.E.L.D. could have a camp set up on its side of the Beanstalk, investigating it.

-ENCHANTED FOREST: I almost hesitate to include something so similar to Fantasyland, but I have an itch to get Pooh out of Critter Country, so I'd like to see a Hundred Acre sub-area here.  Should feel like a Forest to differentiate from the Townscape of Fantasyland

-SHADOWLAND: At the back of this area will be a big evil-looking mountain.

-MYTHOS: This could be the place for some of the Greek/Roman/Atlantis ideas suggested.  Would prefer to see real-world edutainment in this area (e.g. not Disney's Hercules).  Another large weenie should be in this area (Mt. Olympus?) 

-(Optional) CLASSIC CIV RESORT: Greek/Mediterranean/Atlantean resort hotel could be built into this area.

-DISCOVERY OUTPOST: Set in 1880s-1920s.  Victorian-Steampunkish.  Small area. S.E.A. Could be investigating traces of Atlantis... ride could make use of Volcano.



Friday, September 5, 2014

Collective Design Charrette

I thought this might be a fun change of pace for the September-October posts.

Situation: You are a designer at WDI and have been invited to the Blue Sky Charrette for Anaheim’s 3rd Gate. To make things easier, we’ll imagine The Company has fully acquired the very large wedge of mostly commercial parcels due east of the current parks (green below):

The Strawberry Fields area to the South may now be used for new parking & back of house facilities (and possible hotel(s)).

Week One: The What, the Where & the Why.  Create a (succinctly) written proposal with accompanying plan (basic) and reference imagery illustrating what the overall park theme, lands, icon, weenies, general contents, and layout should be, and email it to me.   If you only have an idea for one or two lands or just an attraction, you are still welcome to participate.

Week Two: I’ll present the proposals for group discussion, fusion & revision.  In this phase we can go over creative & technical issues like budget & land restraints, sight-lines, access to the existing main plaza, access to new southern parking complex, highway noise, ROI, capacity, uniqueness from existing offerings, audience demographics, crowd flow, etc., etc., and we’ll finalize the general design intent for the park.  I’ll play the role of executive designer with deciding power.

Week Three: With the park themes and parcel-pad sizes generally established, you the designers will then focus on specific land/area environments, layouts and contents.  This phase will include more attraction details and layouts (especially out-doors).   Plans, art, writing & reference imagery will be submitted via email.

Week Four:  Similar process of sharing, discussion and finalization.

At the conclusion of this conceptual phase, I will create a full Illustrative Plan for the 3rd Gate, after which it may be possible to do further concept design work, such as elevations and perspectives.  Participant-created media is highly-encouraged.

Due date for Week 1 Proposals will be Sept. 13th.  Questions and discussion will take place in the comments section.   Hope you have fun with this.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shanghai V

Having already drawn four guess-work Illustratives for the Shanghai DL park, I told myself I would hold off on drawing a fifth until it became very clear what the park would actually be like.   While a great many details have (frustratingly) yet to come into public view, enough material has become available in the interim (content roster, artwork, blurry/small site plans, satellite photos, etc.) for me to draw another plan.  This one should provide a fairly accurate idea of what the park will entail, but I also filled up most of the park’s expansion pads and changed one of the ‘early-expansion’ lands (from ToyStoryLand to StarWarsLand).   So this is an Ideal Build-Out version which encompasses the opening-day roster*.  

So let’s take a look at what we know and some lingering mysteries surrounding one of the world’s biggest and most exciting theme park projects since Tokyo DisneySea.

*excluding Toy Story Land



DISNEYTOWN: While no renderings of this area have been released, it is a safe bet it will be composed of ‘Entertainment/Branded Architecture’ (e.g., Anaheim DTD) versus ‘Time & Place/Themed Architecture’ (e.g., Main Street, U.S.A.).  There will be a major theater hosting Broadway-caliber shows, beginning with “The Lion King.”  The theme park looks to be accessible through this area.

MICKEY AVENUE: Glimpses of this area have been seen via artwork and those glimpses are very interesting: an eclectic mix of facades that seem to have some basis on Disney film history.  A Club 33 may be housed in the corner Carthay Circle fa├žade.  There appears to be a French boulangerie based on “Ratatouille.”   There might be a faux train station cover just north of the Mickey Floral entry ramp (not shown here).


GARDENS OF IMAGINATION: This is by far the least unknown area of the park as numerous press pieces have been released about it.  My assumption is ‘Garden of the Twelve Friends’ is a sub-area of the land (as there will be Dumbo and Fantasia sub-areas).  One the early expansion pads (due east of the center) is filled on the blurry official site plan with a large structure, likely a dining facility. 

ADVENTURE ISLE: This is an area for which I am really keen to see some artwork.  Roaring Rapids forms the mountainous backdrop and has an indoor portion.  The peak of this attraction will be the second highest point in the opening-day park, after the castle spire (although my Build-Out adds a few taller expansion attractions).    Nestled within the Rapids attraction is the Challenge Trail exploratory area.  Two big mysteries of Adventure Isle: First, there is a large structure on the far east of the land.  I am going to guess this is a theatrical venue due its big, covered queue adjacent to the building.    Filling one of the first expansion pads, between the Rapids and above mentioned theater, is the new version of Soarin’.   Another mystery is whether the land will be set in the past, like traditional Adventurelands, or in the present (i.e., “Tomb Raider” or “Uncharted”).   The latter would make Soarin’ much easier to integrate.

TREASURE COVE: The park’s signature attraction boasts maybe the longest name ever given to a theme park ride.  Interestingly, the land’s stunt show looks to be indoors.   Guest-powered canoes (a personal favorite) will circle the azure waters of the park’s largest lagoon.   On the blurry site plan, both the EastSide and WestSide performance venues take up early epansion pads.  It is possible these will be inexpensive ‘temporary’ venues like AK’s Dino Jubilee or EPCOT’s Millennium Pavilion or HK's Haunted Hotel - added to beef-up the opening day roster. 

CELESTIAL REALM: Continuing counter-clockwise, I imagined the park’s largest expansion area being filled by a non-Disney, non-Franchise area dedicated to Chinese history/mythology (as the other parks have their areas dedicated to American history).  To uitilize this area most effectively, I re-routed the parade egress loop, which on opening day will run parallel to the rear of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  The icon of this area is an original, Everest-scale outdoor coaster (Jade Mountain), which, when viewed from the castle, would form a nice layering affect, rising to a jagged peak beyond the foothills of the SDMT.

FANTASYLAND: I’m hoping and expecting Fantasyland will be like the MK’s Fantasy Forest in style.  One of the big mysteries on my previous version of this park has been solved:  The large building in the northwest corner is a theater (proscenium construction visible from Google Earth), likely showing a musical medley.  I filled up the due-North expansion pad with a Haunted Castle dark ride (the park’s non-IP haunted mansion or dedicated to Disney Villains?).  

STAR WARS OUTPOST: The blurry site plan showed this area to be a Toy Story Playland (with a somewhat-altered content).  Since then Lucasfilm has been acquired, so I thought why not change this to a Star Wars area, which would transition nicely from Tomorrowland (and employ a lot of trees to block it from Fantasyland).   The centerpiece of the land could be a nex-gen X-Wing/TIE Fighter spinner on a rising arm (inspired by Favilli Studios’ Dubai Disneyland).   The area would be surrounded by lush plantings (not Tatooine), so the Galactic Cantina is in the same vein as the Mos Eisley one, but not a replica.  There would be a small amphitheater for the Jedi Academy show and a major Space Adventure E-ticket anchoring the land.

TOMORROWLAND:   The properties here are mostly character-based (Tron, Stitch, Buzz Lightyear), but the architecture appears to be Gehry-Calatrava, with unusual features like aerial planters.   It will be interesting to see how it all meshes.  Since the Lightcycle showbuilding and wavy, glass curtain (the ‘Tron Cover’ covering the outdoor coaster segment) are both quite tall, and because it is distant from all the other themed areas of the park, I thought the land’s expansion pad might be a good place for a new, billowing Gehry-esque free-fall tower attraction, with an original story to balance the character-heavy area.   Another mystery of this area are the circular pools near the parade route - will they do anything (futuristic geysers?)?  

-There looks to be a very heavy emphasis on live theater at this park, with three major indoor venues, and possibly 4 or more outdoor ones, plus the Broadway-level auditorium in DisneyTown.
-The park has more of a Multi-Loop layout vesus the traditional Hub-Spoke associated with all the other castle parks (especially the way I have used the expansion pads).
-The park should feel much bigger than tiny, opening-day HKDL, although when HKDL gets fully built-out, they will be in a similar league, with Shanghai still being the big sister.  If the roster is accuate (excluding my expansion additions), SDL on opening will have equal or more attractions than 2016 HKDL (with Iron Man), so it should feel like a full experience.

Hopefully, the coming months will see a lot more models, plans and artwork surface for this park.  At the very least, The Bund Preview Center is supposed to open in early 2015.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Post-Studio Era

Movie parks around the world are moving inexorably away from sound-stage-filled “Studios” with movie-making at their heart and towards recreating filmic worlds, as exemplified by the new Place de Remy at WDSP and Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando.  These transporting areas show how positive this movement can be.   My main reservation about the Post-Studio Era continues to be in the macro scope: I'm wary that the individual parks, including non-studios, lose something of their unique identities as these filmic world areas continue to be placed in every type of park, so eventually they all will feel like quasi-filmic-worlds parks.  In the individual park- and near-term, however, it is exciting to see these areas realized so well.

 I had collaborated with Brian Krosnick before on his idea for a theme park in the shape of the earth’s continents.  This time, Brian contacted me with an expansion/revision plan for WDW’s DHS.    He had some pretty cool and unique ideas for the park, including:

-    An entirely color-less land based on the early Walt Disney black-and-white cartoons.
-    An exotic tropical land, inspired by Mystic Point, that is home to a retired, eccentric Hollywood starlet (thinking Norma Desmond)

-    A hillside featuring the Hollywood sign over and behind the Chinese Theater.
-    Making Midway Mania part of an actual boardwalk midway (TDS).

This park mixes several lands that are focused on Classic Hollywood and film-making, along with a number filmic worlds, making for a pretty neat Movie Kingdom.

Brian mapped out his vision, an essential first step for any collaboration:

And I adapted it, removing almost every trace of the original Studio Backlot and putting in a family coaster situated on Syndrome's Island in The Incredibles area:

Brian has put together a very descriptive walkthrough of his Ideal Buildout of “Hollywoodland” which you can read on ThemeParkTourist.