Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hong Kong DisneySea

Had some fun filling in the initial master plan for the HK Resort with a built-out HKDL and a new 2nd Gate across the esplanade.  Like the various castle parks around the world, this second Sea balances being recognizable as a DisneySea-branded park, with being highly distinct from the original TDS.

Also, as HKDL is to TDL (i.e., smaller footprint, lighter park program), HKDS is to TDS.  It is a smaller, lighter park that lacks an in-park resort hotel.  Some may remember the Discovery Bay 2nd Gate I put together for this site.  That park made use of the waterfront and built the hotel into the park (as in Tokyo).  This time, I stuck to the actual master plan (initial) which reserves the waterfront parcels for future hotels.

As a cousin to TDS, I gave this park some similarities:
-Aquasphere in the Ticket Plaza
-Central Volcano icon with a fortress at its base (Mt. Cerberus)
-Historic European (technically, New World) entry land (Porto Belo)
-The only repeated themed port (albeit with a different roster & design) is Vulcania (e.g. Mysterious Island). (EDIT: Looking back I must have drawn this before Arendelle was announced for TDS.)

Inspiration for Porto Belo, by Donglu Yu for Assassins Creed IV

The Ports:

-One enters the park through Porto Belo, a wealthy colonial capital on the Spanish Main (1600s-1700s).

-Across the Lagoon, replacing Fortress Explorations is Blackbeard's Castle, marking the Pirate's Cove port.  A massive battle between the Spanish Navy and the Pirates, incorporating tall ships and the Castle, takes place on the lagoon.  An original, hi-tech PotC ride is here, along with interactive exploration trails.

-Arendelle is the replacement for Mermaid Lagoon, featuring kid-friendly attractions, one being a major darkride.

-As noted, within the Caldera is Captain Nemo's hidden Vulcania, with a new set of attractions and dining experiences. 

-Banks of the Tigris is the substitute for Lost River Valley, moving Indiana Jones and his pulp adventures out of the dripping Mayan rainforest and into the dusty streets of 1930s Baghdad (and ruins of Babylon).  Includes a stunt theater and new EMV attraction in the Ziggurat.

-Port Discovery's stand-in here is Hyperion Wharf... filled with a steampunkish airships and anchored by a Soarin'-style attraction.   

-The seventh and final port is The Bayou: an homage to New Orleans Square, housing some nods to Princess and the Frog, musical theater, a riverboat restaurant, along with a Voodoo Plantation E-ticket. 


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Customized "Maps" as Souvenirs

One of the more popular activities among theme park enthusiasts is to create one's own menu for an existing park: adding or deleting lands, attractions, restaurants, etc. as one chooses.  And one of the key ways a designer visualizes these things on a macro scale is with an illustrative plan ("map").  

I have now drafted Illustrative Plan templates - in the style seen below - for most of the existing Tier I parks (Anaheim, Orlando, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai), and am able to (relatively) quickly and (fairly) inexpensively offer such "Re-Imagineered Maps" as a purchasable souvenir.  

The deliverable would be a high-resolution digital print (.png) of your own customized version of any existing park (~3,500x4,500 pixels, fit for printing), and the cost would depend on how drastic the changes are from the extant park.  Something like the sample featured below is heavily-altered and would be near the top of the range. 

If you are interested in this type of art-on-demand, please contact me with basic info (e.g., the park you have in mind and your planned changes) for a quote.


Souvenir Illustrative Plan Example: DCA featuring Discovery Bay

CITY OF ANGELS: Focuses on romanticized Los Angeles of yesteryear.  Includes sub-lands of Buena Vista Street, Hollywood Blvd (with an architectural facade and queue lobby for the grand Theater), Toontown (an urban replacement for the DL area, with elevated darkride track passing throughout), Sunset Boulevard with a Norma Desmond-style Villa (film-centric cousin of Mystic Manor), and ending in a less developed, warehouse area of 1930s LA with a Rocketeer E-ticket and the Bulldog Cafe.

GOLDEN STATE: Relatively unchanged (the addition of the DVC wing on the Grand Californian never happened).  Sublands include Condor Flats, Grizzly Peak, Golden Vine Winery and Pacific Wharf.

ROUTE 66: Bugs Life theater becomes a drive-in dining experience (similar to DHS?), non-Pixar-based to help broaden the land's theme to general car culture.

DISCOVERY BAY: Designed with the purpose of insulating the park from the outside world (via berm, forest and mountain range) and cashing in flat-rides for highly-atmospheric family E- and D-tickets, this area is a take on Baxter's legendary, never-built land.  Pacific Wharf transitions to the Barbary Coast area with a SanFran Asian influence.  Fireworks Factory is a ToyStoryMania ride system.    There is still a lagoon fountain show, with viewing at the base of the land's lighthouse.  The huge twin peaks of the mountain range hide the 'Island at the Top of the World' showbuilding as well as the world beyond the park to the south.  The jungles of the 'Lost Voyager' dino boat ride insulate the western vistas (Paradise Pier Hotel would come down and that southwestern corner of the resort re-purposed).   The 20,000K ride is a dry-for-wet system borrowed from TDS.  Restaurants include the Power House (which provide electricity for the land of inventors), Captain Nemo's Grand Salon near the Nautilus and a Cider Mill at the northern part of the land.  The S.S. Albatross is a tallship that sets the tone for this fantasy vision of 1890s Coastal California.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The 2015 Project - Area Birdseye

In order to get to a Guide Map illustration for the 2015 park (I’ll aim for the illustrative style used for the commemorative TDS guide maps), it is first necessary to nail down most of the architecture, landscapes and area development for the park.   While a theme park might have several dozen actual buildings, many of the larger ones need to represent multiple buildings of diverse architectural styles.    For example, just one block (of four) of MK’s Main Street represents 14 "buildings", and the land as a whole represents ~60 buildings.  Like the other lands, a few of these are unified wholes, like the Train Station or Crystal Palace, but most are faux-buildings: numerous adjoining facades along the edges of the larger buildings.

For this park,  I’ve already shared a concept elevation for the castle.  Another way to visualize the park is with birdseye drawings.  For this one, I chose among the simplest, easiest of structures in the park to render:  The Quick Service Restaurant in Phase I Adventueland.   Since it is across the path from the Indiana Jones ride, I imagined this would be similar in theme: a dilapidated Jungle Import/Export business, in an early 20th C., Afro-colonial style, with an outdoor seating patio among the trees and sounds of the forest.  This isn't an especially original concept but a piece that fits into the larger park puzzle:

For the next birdseye, I’ll aim for a more exciting section of the park with varying facades/theme complexity.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The 2015 Project - Castle Elevation II

Later this month, I'll post an adaption of one of the Fifth Gate Challenge entries.

Until then, here is an expanded concept elevation of the 2015 Park castle:

The feel here is more along the lines of Fortress Explorations (also at the base of a mountain): a defensive, Scandinavian castle (inspired by Anna's) rather than an ornate, baroque chateau.    

The "Boathouse" at left is where the flume boats re-enter the mountain.  The Lighthouse Tower should be apparent.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The 2015 Project - River Adventure

As you can probably guess, I am a big fan of detailed maps/schematics, concept illustration and Indiana Jones.  So when Chuck Ballew combined all of these into one grand Map (sitting in the attraction queue itself and published in a couple WDI books) it became one of my favorite pieces of theme park art.  I love the schematic element of the illustration: caves and temple halls follow the physical layout of the queue, but make it look like a mythical Indian temple.  The piece I’ve put together below is a bit of a homage to that (an illustration overlaying a schematic), with 'Sallah' providing notes and sketches detailing a bit of what lies ahead for adventurers.

This attraction combines elements of the Jungle Cruise and Indiana Jones Adventure into a new concept.  It is an E-ticket ride based on atmosphere, with loads of AAs and special effects.  The PG-level thrills are provided by effects and the vehicle rather than any drops or super speeds.  It is an EMV in the water (themed as modified WWII DUKW vehicles) that can suddenly accelerate or slow down, jarringly heave to one side or the other, slowly sink, etc..   

As with all great attractions, the story begins with the exterior and develops throughout the queue/pre-show.   Here the queue building is a grand-but-abandoned British Colonial Office, set in the subtrobical forest of Rhodesia, near the Zambezi River.    The outdoor queue passes through the overgrown gardens, with lazy crocs (AA) lying in a pond and various artifacts strewn about.  The backstory continues in the interior rooms of the Consulate building.  Long ago a great civilization was located in this region.  After it disappeared, animals reclaimed the forest and some hunter-gatherer tribes moved in.   They worshiped the Golden Rhino of their forbearers as protector of the forest.    

Fastforward to 1946.  The British are gone from this area, and a nefarious gang of Ivory Poachers and Grave Robbers has arrived to plunder the riches of the forest.  Indiana Jones has also arrived to stop them, but has not been heard from in some time.   So we are going into the jungle to provide what aid we can.

The old, battle-worn DUKs seat 20 in five rows of four.  They have full audio for radio narration and soundtrack, but no live guides.  Departing from the dock and passing Indy’s seaplane, we enter the jungle.  It seems peaceful and full of life hidden in the foliage – okapi, a rhino and its baby, hoofed animals, colorful birds.  This is a place worth protecting. 

To me, the best theme park attractions offer not just fun, escapism and thrills, but teach you something without your realizing it.  If they are mind-expanding, they stick with you.   For example, in passing well-researched, authentically-replicated Mayan artwork, architecture and artifacts in Tokyo’s Temple of the Crystal Skull or pedaling the Flying Machine atop Fortress Explorations, you are being enriched in the long term while having fun in the short.   In the case of this River Adventure, visitors could learn about the history of this part of Africa, the ancient civilization of Great Zimbabwe, as well as something about the biota that once inhabited this part of the world.  There is also plenty of fictitious fun described to us in the queue/pre-show, as befitting an Indiana Jones story, setting up things we will later experience in the ride: e.g., a group of mysterious Albino Gorillas and the horrifying Caverns of Death.    

To maximize re-ridability, the attraction is hyper-detailed, with randomized radio-transmissions, SFX & vehicle movement.  Things begin to get hairy when passing some dangerous-looking leopards eying us from ancient ruins.  No poachers are home when the DUKs pass their riverside camp, but the stockpile of weapons, ivory and animal carcasses indicate that trouble is in the making.  While I didn’t want to over-draw on this map, there are things to see and stuff happening all along the way.  

The Ruins of Great Zimbabwe showbuilding allows for all sorts of indoor effects, including fog, projection mapping, Poachers pierced by booby traps, Mandrills jumping out of the shadows, and stumbling upon Grave Robbers who open fire on us with machine guns.  Dr. Jones should also make an appearance (or two or three) during the ride.

Escaping the temple the bad guys have the Golden Rhino and we need to stop them!  Native Headhunters are also pursuing them (and us!).  There is a breath of peace, as vehicles pass beneath rockwork into a waterfall grotto filled with bathing Forest Elephants.  Then it’s down a section of river where angry hippos violently ram our vehicles from the side.   

The adventure’s grand finale begins as the club-wielding Albino Gorillas drive the Robbers into the Caverns of Death (we were warned about).   The DUKs stall and we also drift into the darkness where big SFX set pieces await.   It all ends with the Robbers defeated for the moment (though some escape to retry) and Indy standing next to the recovered Golden Rhino, promising to return it to Zimbabwe.   Passing a waterfall grotto filled with animals, our amphibs glide back to the Consulate dock.  

I feel it is good to leave attractions somewhat open-ended, so they are not plot-dependent, one-time events.  Visitors need to feel the adventure is ongoing and being continued rather than repeated.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The 2015 Project - Full Build-out

Here is the fully built-out castle park master plan:

Pixar Place sees an expansion based on the Cars/Planes universe, a dusty airstrip with nods to Radiator Springs.  There is the Flo’s V-8 Café, a D-ticket Planes “tube simulator” (as appeared online in patent form), and the Off-Road Rally spinner.

Big City USA has the addition of the El(evated) Train, which brings sounds and kinetics, as well as a way to get around this large park that, like SDL, lacks a circum-navigating railroad.  The trains would be designed in a style inspired by 1930s Popular Mechanix/futurist renderings so as to mesh with the other, more tech-influenced lands they pass through.  

Fantasyland’s Georgian architecture of London-Cherry Tree Lane transitions to the Victorian-inspired part of San Fransokyo (e.g. the Lucky Cat Café) – a sub-area of MarvelVerse.  The main attraction - a family-accessible ride - here would be housed in a building inspired by Ishioka Robotics Lab of ‘Big Hero Six’.   There is a San Fransokyo Elevated Train station here.    Another form of cross-land transport would be a whimsical Car/Bus Service (6-8 different vehicles) that travels from San Fransokyo Circle, through London, around Big City, and to the Carousel Park in Pixar Place.

Since this park is chock full of rides, I decided to designate the requisite Avengers attraction a theatrical experience, which would combine the full gambit of special effects, stunt actors, animatronics, screens, etc – a sort of next-gen T2:3-D. 

The final attraction is a Guardians of the Galaxy launch coaster.  This one has a mostly low-profile track to minimize visual intrusions: the central area is sunken and the coaster relies more on acceleration and maneuvers versus height and drops.  For example, leaving the station, the train enters a canyon of alien rockwork (well below pathway grade) and pauses before its high-speed launch towards the lake through trenches and tunnels into a ground-level helix, before returning under the path to the central area of inversions, dives and rolls. 

Here’s a quick video showing the park from its early program to its ideal build-out decades later.   

Over such a long time period, new IP will continuously rise and fade in the world of film (an argument for a stronger presence of park-originated attractions?) to be considered for inclusion, so this master plan represents a snap-shot in time; something that could be continually adjusted.  But the long-term master plan is key so that nothing is developed in isolation and everything is done to maintain or improve the park's overall, long-term thematic & aesthetic integrity as it grows.   


Fifth Gate Challenge Reminder: Please write "[Park Name] by [your Name, Initials or Net Handle]", e.g. "Star Wars Park by J. Smith",  in the upper left box of the Presentation Sheet so I can quickly identify them.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The 2015 Project - Castle Elevation

Happy New Year!

This is an in-progress rendering of what I envision the iconic central castle for this park looking like.

The castle here (Princess Anna) is heavily-inspired by the one in 'Frozen', although it is not meant to be a re-creation.  In many cases, I think it is more effective for park architecture to be its own thing, versus directly re-creating a film world.

The view you are seeing is from the Fountain Show viewing area, so it is technically the left-side of the castle: the front view would be facing the causeway and main courtyard gate.

The focus of this illustration is on the architecture (leaving the equally-important rockwork mountain and landscaping for later).  The field of view is within the 'Outer Sea Wall' (see red line).  I will probably continue this drawing to show a wider view with Sea Wall & towers.  You will note the flagship flume attraction 'Once Upon a Time' passes around and beneath the castle.

I imagine this castle could serve numerous functions:
-Premium, table service dining on the upper floors, with views over the park (note the big triangular, glass window).
-Walkthrough attraction, exploring various chambers.
-Themed retail
-Meet & Greet
-A dungeon housing an Ice Dragon (or some sort of winter creature), inspired by the Paris walkthrough.