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 http://raphael-lacoste.deviantart.com/|
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!