Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dark Kingdom

While the timing for this conceptual site plan should have been nearer to Halloween rather than Christmas, here it goes…

As long as there have been rumors for a Fifth Gate for Walt Disney Word, there has been this idea of the Villains Park, aka Shadowlands, Dark Kingdom, etc.  Having never come across a scrap of concept art (or word from an insider) for such a park, I have to wonder if this concept has ever been anything more than an internet myth.  I know (with jealous wonder) that there are thousands upon thousands of pieces of artwork, models and park/attraction/land concepts locked away in WDI’s Morgue that have never been part of public knowledge or discourse, so perhaps it is a real concept. 

My approach to this idea was to look at typical Disneyland-style park and take the flip (or dark) side of each land, i.e., Toontown Fair becomes an evil circus, Tomorrowland becomes a dark techno-metropolis, the iconic princess castle is replaced with a wicked witch's castle, etc.

The opening land and in-park resort hotel are inspired by the Haunted Mansion, Addams Family, Munsters and other 19th & early 20th century tropes of the haunted house/horror-genre.   Imagine staying in a super-sized version of the Haunted Mansion as your Disney resort.

Rather than a narrow main boulevard as the opening land's design, I've opted for a rolling cemetery, dotted with ancient dead oak trees and overgrown mausoleums: a morbid version of DAK’s Oasis.  At night, a light show allows spirits to rise skyward from the grave.

A “ghost train” encircles the park, with plenty of surprises.
Artwork by

Ravenhearst Manor (placeholder name) is a new “haunted mansion” designed to terrify more than amuse. 

Whenever playing the game, I’ve always imagined exploring the all the rooms of the Clue mansion: the billiard room, the conservatory, etc.  Here there is a guided, interactive walking mystery adventure, where small groups try discover whodunit.  Colonel Mustard with the Wrench in the Kitchen?

The eastern section of this first land land pays homage to Frontierland.  Thunderhawk Hills is a coaster with next-gen fx giving life to wrathful Native American spirits.

The centerpiece of the park is very large, craggy mountain.  Set into the front of this mountain, guarded by a labyrinth of spiny thickets, is Maleficent’s castle, which is fully explorable (Disney heroes & heroines locked in the dungeons).   It marks the land of Disney villains, with a signature & lengthy flume ride featuring an alliance of baddies. 

The fantastic “Twisted Princesses” artwork by Jeffrey Thomas is the inspiration for a dark ride based on such a concept.
Art by

There is an exploration trail and an Ursula spinner (intense).  A dark ride based on Epic Mickey (in which the setting, Wasteland, has some similarities with this Dark Kingdom) is the final attraction in land.

Tomorrowland has become Dystopia - a towering, grimy, neon, nature-less city based on those of Bladerunner, Aliens, Fifth Element, etc..   Skybridges, metros, blinking holographic billboards make this an overwhelming and chaotic place.

There is a next-generation Laser Tag-like experience that emulates the battles of James Cameron’s ‘Aliens’: as a Colonial Marine, you are equipped a gun, flak jacket, helmet, etc., and then go hunting… or get hunted.  

The land features a number of big, original E-ticket attractions (coaster, scoop, EMV shooter) that explore various dark sci-fi adventures: out of control cyborgs, pan-galactic warfare, and a ride alongside the future’s version of Hell’s Angels: 

For me, clowns, carnivals & circuses have always been a source of terror.   Here, the evil traveling, tented circus takes everything that scared me as a child and amplifies it.  There is an elaborate AA freakshow, a large rickety Ferris wheel and other spinners.  

Psycho Circus is a dark ride featuring crazed clowns.  Tunnel of Terror is a twisted version of the classic fairground Tunnel of Love. 

Adventureland is represented by Cutthroat Cove, a dark pirate port.  There is a Captain Hook dark ride to transition from the animated Fantasyland and another elaborate dark ride inspired by the nicely-designed-but-canceled Armada of the Damned game set in the PotC universe.  

There would also be a walkthrough of Blackbeard's Queen Anne’s Revenge from the forthcoming film.

The final land is based on the DragonDale (non-animated, high fantasy land) mythos that I’ve proposed for many of my parks across the globe.  It incorporates the darker elements of that world, including an AA prison for evil creatures, a Dragon coaster, goblin mine coaster and flume ride:


Your thoughts - please leave a comment, start a discussion, ask a question, and have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Guest Feature

This week, I'm taking a break from presenting my own work to share the conceptual site plans of an Ideal Buildout reader.  Bruce Beisner was kind enough to share his armchair imagineering ideas for an integrated Disney resort.  What follows are his words and images.


"Since your October 1 post invited submissions by others, I thought I would share some designs I have come up with for a possible new Disneyland Resort.  I'm not sure where in the world to build this. Maybe Brazil might be a good market for a Disney expansion since it has a high population density and a relatively stable economy right now. That would also give Disney a major park complex on every continent except Australia, Africa and Antarctica. But ultimately the location doesn't really matter to me.

I envision a resort complex with two theme parks, a pirate-themed waterpark, five resort hotels and a shopping/entertainment complex.  In laying out my two theme parks, I had the following issues in mind:

1. To incorporate a balanced mix of the best attractions from the current Disney parks around the world and to add some new ride concepts as well. Building identical versions of popular attractions that already exist would reduce development costs and I think is OK.

2. To make each of the two parks of similar size and to distribute the most popular attractions equally between them. This would avoid the unfortunate situation we see in Anaheim and Paris where one park clearly dominates the other.

3. To have almost all attractions, shops and dining explicitly themed to Disney characters and films. I think in this day and age anyone can build a jungle-themed area, but only Disney can build a Disney-themed Jungle area. This means re-theming some popular attractions, such as the Jungle Cruise, to include characters and references to "The Jungle Book," for example. This also means no Star Wars or Indian Jones. I think this would please Walt.

4. To keep my designs reasonable in scope and not beyond what might be possible to actually build. For example, my Radiator Springs Raceway would be an Autopia type ride rather than a Test Track design. I also have cut a few ideas that I really like such as a Mulan roller coaster and a Bedknobs and Broomsticks dark ride.
Please let me know your thoughts and comments!

A few words about some of the entirely new ride concepts at these two parks:
Mrs. Pott's Dancing Cupboard- I envision replacing the standard Mad Tea Party Fantasyland attraction with a spinning tea cup ride with ride vehicles that run on a trackless LPS system, using similar technology used in Pooh's Hunny Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland. The ride would be themed to Beauty and the Best with Lumiere, Mrs. Potts and Chip characters moving along with the cups  

TRON: Escape from the Grid-  This would be a simulator experience similar to Back to the Future The Ride at Universal Studios Japan, where guests board individual light cycles arranged in stair stepped rows before a domed screen. (I figure if the attraction is fun, it will be popular, even if this new TRON movie is a bomb. This has happened before, like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride which is hugely popular even though the movie was not a hit.)

Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin- WOD's Toon Town would have a wild mouse roller coaster with spinning cars, themed to the Roger Rabbit film. While not as cool as Crush's Coaster, I think this would be a more successful version than either Primeval Whirl or Mulholland Madness

Soarin' Down Under- Also in Toon Town is a new version of the hugely popular Soarin' attraction. The ride would be directly tied to the Rescuers franchise by creating a storyline where guests have been enlisted to be part of the Rescue Aid Society. The ride film would feature locations across Australia

101 Dalmatians Adventure- Guests get taken into Cruella Deville's wild car chase sequence from 101 Dalmatians in this dark ride which would utilize Test Track type technology. Sets would be elaborate, but there would be no high-speed outdoor section. 

Monsters Inc: Hide and Go Shriek- Join Mike and Sulley as they race to help Boo escape from Randall on this dark ride that is actually an enclosed suspended roller coaster with immersive dark ride elements. This would be an exciting but mild thrill ride, not too intense for children.   

The Incredibles Super Hero Challenge- Toy Story Midway Mania is rapidly becoming a Disney favorite. I would create a new version using the same basic technologies but theme it to The Incredibles. Here the interactive midway games become tests of guests' super hero abilities."


Thanks, Bruce!