Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WDW - Project Phoenix

Last week, Disney announced the re-branding of the now-defunct Pleasure Island as 'Hyperion Wharf', an outdoor dining & shopping facility.  The name Hyperion Wharf conjured in me images of one of my favorite never-built projects, Discovery Bay (Hyperion being the name of the dirigible that goes to the Top of the World).

So I set about seeing how I might convert Downtown Disney into WDW’s Fifth Gate.  The reason: while at WDW, I would prefer to do all the things one can do in a Downtown Disney (dine, stroll, shop, watch live entertainment) in a top-shelf, un-crowded theme park with plenty of great rides & attractions, unique & quality dining and diverse & rare merchandise.

I've been working on a few Fifth Gate ideas for WDW but with Downtown Disney's lake, an aquatic Port Disney theme seemed to fit this location best.

Exiting the monorail station on land that would be reclaimed from the southernmost block of Saratoga Springs Resort buildings, the first land adventurers would encounter in Port Disney is Paradise Harbor – an eclectic mix of tropical, coastal villages (Hawaii, Madagascar, West Indies).  This land is lushly landscaped, fun and friendly, with steel drum music in the air.  There are a couple of rides for kids (a spinner and small coaster) and a major flume adventure surrounding a giant volcano (Park’s landmark).  There is a tropical version of Tokyo DisneySea’s (TDS) aquatopia here, as well.

Moving clockwise, the next port is New England Coast – a version of TDS’ Cape Cod but significantly larger and with several rides.  It incorporates some of the old Disney Village Marketplace buildings (with new exteriors).  It features family dark rides based on Duffy the Bear and Pete’s Dragon,  a tall-ships-period SFX experience that simulates surviving a hurricane, an E-ticket, AA-heavy attraction that covers the kinds of vignettes often related by crusty old sea-captains (meeting a mermaid, Moby Dick, etc.).   The T-Rex Café building becomes a themed seafood dining facility.

Pleasure Island is now part of Hyperion Wharf (I like the name), a port that reflects the turn-of-the-century, Barbary Coast, steampunkish vibe that Discovery Bay would have had.   Sparks fly around ore-trains in an iron-smelting, shipworks-themed coaster that runs throughout the island.  

The old Empress Lilly becomes an old-fashioned gambling riverboat (as seen in the movie, 'Maverick').  The current balloon ascent is still there but redressed in late-19th century style.  There is a large, suspended, dirigible-based dark ride that takes riders above thought-to-be mythic locales (Bermuda Triangle, etc.).  Mystic Manor comes over from Hong Kong, and there is a hedge maze to go along with it.  

The beloved and missed Adventurers Club in enlarged and occupies the redressed Planet Hollywood building (giant, rotating, antique globe).

Ancient Babylon is the next land – a walled city of ziggurats and mythological adventures.  The Hanging Gardens (another park icon) house an exploratory adventure and fine dining, similar to TDS’s Fortress Explorations.
Artwork by

Beyond Babylon is Atlantis, the Fantasyland of the park, with several spinners and a coaster that is similar to Big Thunder in scope & intensity.  There is an extensive E-ticket dark ride adventure, as well.   The La Nouba theatre’s exterior is redressed to match the ruins of Atlantis and Cirque du Soleil produces a show that tells the history of the lost civilization.

The Secret Island is similar to the TDS equivalent, but with a shooter Sea Monster ride instead of 20,000K, an explorable Nautilus, and a play zone themed to Nemo’s lab.  A version of Journey to the Center of the Earth shares the park's volcano with the Paradise Harbor flume ride.  There is fine dining within an iron & glass domed restaurant.

The final land is almost entirely indoors (similar to TDS’ Mermaid Lagoon), providing a respite from the Florida heat.  It is themed to an enormous arctic ice cavern with a circlevision train-simulator, a family ice-luge coaster, an explorable cave system, etc.

Before & After ("Goodbye giant parking lots, hello theme park"):

So, there it is.  If you’d to discuss some of these ideas, or yours, the actual plans for Downtown Disney, etc., I’ll see you in the comments section.  And if you enjoy the work I’ve done and would like to see more, please take a second to comment.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 12, 2010

WDW - Magic Kingdom Park

Beginning on Main Street: West Center Street is restored with its fresh flower market.  The Penny Arcade, Main St. Cinema and Magic Shop are all restored.  In the Exhibition Hall, I’ve added a version of America Sings (since Splash Mountain does not exist at this park, the AAs won’t be repeats).  

The plaza is filled with big shady trees (like the ones that were removed in the early 2000s), and Swan Boats silently ply the waters.

Moving into Adventureland: Jungle Cruise is gone because (i) it exists at DL, and (ii)WDW has an elaborate 20+minute jungle cruise with live animals in Tiger River Run at my version of Animal Kingdom.  In JC’s place is a version of the rumored Fire Mountain coaster.  The theme is a pulp 1920s archaeological exploration of the mysterious ruins found surrounding and within a volcano.  There are subtextual connections to the Atlantis mythos presented in several of my DisneySea parks.
View of Fire Mountain from Astro Orbitor

Tiki Room is a dining venue featuring intermittent musical numbers from the original show (no Under New Management traces).  While my Anaheim version of PotC is the pre-Jack Sparrow, pre-PC (1997) version (essentially the original with updated effects, AAs & audio), the Orlando version of Pirates has been expanded and contains scenes/characters from the film mythos.

Frontierland: The enormous Western River Expedition is here, retaining a Splash Mountain-like exterior splashdown into the Rivers of America.  There is a trail into the Mesa Verde-like Indian cliff dwellings.  

Liberty Square: The skybridge that separates LSQ from Fantasyland is pushed east in order to accommodate a new dark ride based on the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. 

 Fantasyland:  I believe every Disneyland-style park ought to have its own unique castle, so my conceptual site plans reflect that.  Since Tokyo Disneyland does a better job on their exterior paint package, Japan gets Cinderella Castle, and this park will have the morphed version of DL & TDL castles that is the current logo for Walt Disney Pictures (note the wider base):

I really like the idea of having separated Castle Court and Fantasy Forest sections, as is now underway, so I’ve incorporated that here.  The original dueling track Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is moved to the west side (in place of Philharmagic & Peter Pan).  Across from it, in place of Small World (which exists in Disneyland and elsewhere) is an original Mary Poppins dark ride.  The area currently dedicated to the Snow White dark ride is given over to an expanded Pooh ride and additional dining (although Pooh’s queue & façade remain outside the castle walls).

With Fantasy Forest, I’ve tried to group attractions into “story clusters.”  An expanded Peter Pan dark ride follows an original, post-film storyline.  Opposite Pan lies the Pixie Hollow exploratory area.  Fantasyland’s biggest attraction is a PotC-scale indoor flume based on the Black Cauldron.

I’ve reversed the Little Mermaid and Beauty & Beast sections so as to accommodate a Mrs. Potts version of the teacup spinner.  Sleeping Beauty gets a dark ride and Snow White has a mountainous family coaster.

Tomorrowland: I’ve added quite of bit of landscaping to ease the transition & sight-lines between Fantasyland & Tomorrowland.  I like the “Deco Tech” overlay that was applied in 1995, but in this version, those design features are found throughout the land (e.g. fins on the entire Peoplemover track):

The arcade is removed and a new landmark entrance to Space Mountain: Mission 2 is built.  Space Mountain receives the big-budget re-do it should have had in 2009 – onboard audio, new tracks, new fx, AAs, storyline, etc.  The old speedway now uses hovercraft vehicles and features alien character rockwork and landscaping.

Alien Encounter still exists.  Timekeeper/MILF is replaced with an exploratory attraction similar to the old EPCOT ImageWorks, but with sci-fi gadgets & games.  In place of the Skyway station is a restaurant similar to the WDI-designed LAX Encounter:

Finally, a major E-ticket ride (with an original story & characters involving a combative alien race preparing to stage a takeover of the peaceful League of Planets - the secrets to stopping the invasion lie within a crashed vessel) is built over the parking lot.  I really like this crashed Alien Saucer model that was built for Dubailand, so I drew something similar into this Tomorrowland, to serve as the show-building (the rockwork would be similar to that found at the entrance to the land and on the Hovercraft speedway).

I use the Magic Kindom as my "theme park exemplar" - it's not too big, not too small, elegantly & efficiently laid-out, with a nice balance of ~45 attractions (20% of which are E-tickets).  It's sort of the standard I aim for when drawing new parks.

As always, comments are very much appreciated (and will result in more frequent updates).  What would you add to or delete from MK? 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Worlds of Wonder


Lately, I’ve been drawing a number of plans for Disneyland-style parks (i.e. based on yesterday, fantasy, and tomorrow) that steer away – in layout & content – from the traditional, existing parks, while retaining the ‘Disney’ spirit.  This park, which I’ve called Walt Disney’s Worlds of Wonder, is big – over twice the acreage of the original Disneyland – and I imagine it would best fit in Europe (perhaps in place of EuroDisneyland or as potential second gate).  To change things up, I've gone with the Central Lagoon layout as opposed to the Hub & Spoke, and each land represents a different time period and geography.  

The entrance land is Hollywood – a 1930s recreation of art deco, golden age L.A., similar to what exists in Orlando’s MGM, but on a larger, more urban scale.   On the west is the Chinese Theatre (same size as at MGM for scale) housing an attraction akin to the Great Movie Ride but showcasing an entirely new set of classic films (e.g., Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, Ghostbusters, Predator, etc.) within a similar genre-by-genre context.  A red car trolley travels the boulevards.  

There is an Autopia attraction featuring famous filmic cars (i.e., The Batmobile, Herbie, Chitty Bang Bang, Delorean, etc.).  At the other end of Sunset is the Hollywood Tower Hotel – the early, never built incarnation.  Theatres and exhibits round out the land’s attractions. 
 The next land going clockwise is Pointe d’Aventure – which covers the many great French (his)stories from the 18th & 19th centuries.   The Napoleonic era, one of my favorite periods, features in a few of the attractions.  His Majesty’s Dragon is a major coaster on the lagoon (track supports are disguised as ships’ masts over water, trees over land) based on the Temeraire stories.  The dragon trains dive among a naval battle between French & English man-o-wars.   

 The Paris Opera House is the basis for the central theatrical presentation, possibly an abbreviated version of Phantom of the Opera musical.   A building based on the original Palais Royale houses an AA dark ride themed to the “The Three Musketeers” (book, not film(s)).  A canal boat ride takes guests on a slow, yet ominous, journey through the famed sewers and catacombs of Paris.  Napoleon’s War College is a mountaintop, interactive walkthrough adventure (a la DaVinci Code) – following the clues left by the Emperor regarding his death/disappearance and the vast treasures he hid.  The biggest ride in the land is the super flume designed like the Chateau d’If and letting guests experience the adventure of “The Count of Monte Cristo” (book, not film(s)).
On the opposite side of the park axis from Pointe d’Aventure, is a land representing the other great European power (oft-feuding) that helped to shape much of western civilization over the past millennium: Britannia.  Like its French counterpart, there is an urban (London/Paris) section and more rural section.  Unlike the French side, however, this British area features some lighter, Disney-based attractions, such as Mary Poppins & 101 Dalmatians dark rides.  It also has some darker subject matter, such as League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens (all original interpretations, i.e., not based on films).  On the city square (patterned on the Union Jack), the Globe Theatre houses abbreviated, comical versions of several of The Bard’s famous plays – starring perhaps the Muppets or Disney characters in AA form. 
Growing up, my favorite Disney film, by far, was “Bedknobs & Broomsticks.”  As London gives way to the rural village of Pepperinge Eye, the ruins of the castle rising on a hillside beyond mark an elaborate dark ride (aboard beds, of course) that follows the adventures of Eglantine Pryce & Professor Emelius Brown.  The rural section is also home to a dark ride (LPS) themed to the Wind and the Willows (show building is Toad Hall).   On the point, sitting atop the White Cliffs, is a fine dining venue featuring poisoned dragon’s liver.

Bedknobs & Broomsticks is set during World War II, which is eases the transition to City of Heroes, as the first area encountered is a WWII-era military base where Steve Rogers is being transformed into Captain America (EMV ride) to battle Red Skull & HYDRA.  

Beyond is a 20th C. American cityscape where guests can experience an aerial stunt show based on Spiderman (under a paned dome modeled on the original Penn Station’s ceiling).   There is a diner that has been ripped out of its original location and deposited here (as seen in the Dubai Marvel theme park concept art).  A standing coaster is based on the Silver Surfer (not the film) and there is a spinner themed to The Incredibles.  The final attraction uses IOA’s Spiderman technology and centers on the X-Men (Xavier’s School being the show building). 

Galaxyland – based on adventures in space or future cities – sits at the top of the park.  It is here where the park’s central icon is, not a castle, but a 300ft, needle-nosed Galaxy Tower (an observation deck themed as futuristic launching pad).  There is a Tron simulator (each guests boards his/her own lightcycle), a suspended dark ride marked by the space docks from Treasure Planet, and a dueling indoor coaster, among other attractions.

The final land, Enchanted Forest, is based on medieval fairy tales (mostly Disney).  While the transition from Pionte d’Aventure features a lengthy, indoor flume based on the French/Disney tale of Sleeping Beauty, the Germans also get some representation here with a Rapunzel spinner (swings attached to her hair) and a Snow White Seven Dwarfs coaster.  The Fairy Ring amphitheatre features live productions and is marked by Stonehenge-like earthworks.

I’ve written a lot so I’ll stop there and continue discussing it in the comments section if anyone has anything to say.  Aside from Megatron85, my most loyal reader, I’m not sure if I’m “talking” to thin air in these posts, so please take a second to leave a comment.   The more comments I get, the more frequently I will put up new theme park plans and artwork.