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.



Colin said...

Great park but I still like to see more additions like some kind of an animation studio with a ride going through some of Disney's best animated movies, art of animation, how to be a villain 3d, ducktales, house of mouse ride( amazing spiderman). A land based on Indiana Jones with mine cart coaster, the ride from Anaheim, the show, some cars who look like the ones from Universal studios Singapore and some kind of a cruise. Toontown maybe. I don't know why but I want to see a land based on Tim Burton with Nightmare before Christmas dark ride, Alice in Wonderland coaster or so and Frankenweenie ride. I know Universal has the rights but Disney Marvel superhero city. Some kind of a big Pixar playland. Gangster row for Dick Tracey for example. I want to keep something studio in the parks so I have a land called Backlot and Production courtyard so we still have something. Backlot is the studio backlot tour upgraded and stunt show and production courtyard is a Herbie ride and upgraded Armageddon ride. Also maybe Wreck-it ralph's game center which could go to sugar rush for radiator springs racers like coaster, Hero's duty shooters, Wreck-it ralph free fall and the game center train. Something like Universal does with their movies isn't a bad idea maybe Narnia, the land of Oz or the enchanted woods. I really like the idea of the resurrection of Snow white in the carthay circle theatre. The black and white land is great maybe plane crazy coaster, trolley troubles coaster, Steamboat willie somewhere in a river next to it, Mickey's greatest as dark ride, Oswald's movie moments, Lonesome ghosts hide and go seek. Great park though still awesome posts, keep going

Colin said...

Maybe a land based on the Disney tv shows like Wizards of Waverly place using the same technology as Harry Potter and the forbidden journey, something mystic manor like based on Gravity falls, kim possible coaster, Disney junior live, maybe Phineas and Ferb but I'd like to see this in Epcot, Sofia's enchanted school( interactive ride with magic wands).

Anonymous said...

A colorless land wouldn't work though. Would you sell merch and food thats black and white? How about just a black and white meet and greet? Maybe a land with washed out colors? And leave the rat for Epcot.

As much as I don't want to admit it, a Nightmare Before Christmas ride and shop could fund the rest of the expansion if built first (a lot of pent-up spending demand for that one). Also could I suggest moving the Muppets to the current American Idol theater (with a new show) and using that area for a Crimestoppers attraction? It's already got New York and an Italian restaurant... Just someone to balance out the park as the back is really kid-heavy.

Colin said...

I think the black and white land does work and I think that Epcot's world showcase is character free. I actually don't like nemo taking over living seas. Nemo's seas should be a land in AK with Nemo's journey with submarines or the shells from epcot, crush coaster, jellyfish jumpers and the musical. Crimestoppers could work because of dick tracey who should have been in the park for a long time

Colin said...

Mystic point like thingy kind of works in Epcot with a world traveler theme, in magic kingdom because of magic and mystic things maybe even adventureland ride and AK with world temples and ruins or mythic animals for example, but in Hollywood studios I only see a link if it's a house full of stunt acts which is arrows shooting and all kinds of things that want to hit you.. kind of death trap

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of having Snow White's Scary Adventures in the Carthay Circle Theater

Mike said...

Just an observation - it seems the Studio parks, whether in Florida or Paris, seem to be the parks with the most makeovers. While I haven't been to any of the Disney studio parks it appears that they have many flaws that most fans try to correct in their interpretations of the ideal studio park. Am I wrong to think that way?

Now having said that, if you are going to be a "studio" park there should be some sort of backlot and production tours as part of the park experience but considering some of these new immersive attractions being built could the parks be trying to phase out the backlot portions of the parks?

SWW said...

Thanks for the comments,

Mike, you are right. That's what I'm referring to in the title and opening paragraph.

I think the Studios portion added a lot of excitement/legitimacy in MGM's opening years when actual film/TV/animation production took place there.

A couple things happened after MGM was designed in the 80s: The rise of DVD and cable channels began to reveal much more about the Backstage Magic of making movies, via BTS documentaries. This was previously unavailable to most (and which made the BTS stuff at Studios much more exciting).

Simultaneously, companies like Disney decided that maintaining a working Studios in Orlando was no longer worth it and began to cut back production (which was mostly third-tier to begin with).

So you had Studios with no actual production, showing us things about making movies we already kind-of knew, in lightly-themed environments. And the movie/tv elements they did show, weren't all that exciting (e.g. WDSP Tour going through sets from a failed TV show (Dinotopia) and a failed movie (Reign of Fire), versus taking us through the set of any beloved classic - which clearly weren't filmed there.

What Universal did in Singapore is where I think you will see Studios parks moving - a little homage to Hollywood/film-making, but mostly filmic/franchise worlds like the Mummy, Jurassic Park, FarFarAway etc.).

Colin said...

True but I think something like backlot or production courtyard area should be here and still we have a hollywood boulevard... Sorry if I'm annoying but I'm in an imagineering mood so yeah..

Anonymous said...

Love the ideas. I would hope that guest flow would be corrected in future additions, connecting sunset to the black and white land (which I would like to see as toon town with a back and white off shoot, like knockturn alley).

Colin said...


I have a question about a post you did a long time ago. It was called Customized kingdom and I loved it. I was just wondering which areas were there in the enchanted forest area??

Anonymous said...

What software do you use?