Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Anaheim - WestCOT

A Vision of WestCOT

Researching this WestCOT conceptual site plan was like taking the pieces to two different puzzles, mixing them up, throwing half of them out and trying to create a finished picture from the remains.   I quickly discovered that a lot of the publically-available information on WestCOT was contradictory – likely coming from different iterations of the design (versions 1.0, 2.0, etc.) .  For example, two key pieces of information were the 1991 Master Plan Report (available on SamLand) and the Tony Baxter lecture; in the latter, Tony talked about European & Asian themed hotels being built six-stories above their continents and a Ride the Dragon coaster, but these things did not appear to be present in the 1991 master plan.   So what I’ve drawn is not what WestCOT was actually to be at any one time (although parts may be), but instead a fun, amalgamated vision that takes all the best ideas (IMO) that were revealed and puts them into one fantasy park.

Since WestCOT was to be a new & improved version of EPCOT Center, and EPCOT is bigger than the combined plots of Disneyland + DCA (expanded), it became apparent that WestCOT needed to be double-decker (or triple-decker if you count the hotels) theme park.  That would help explain the early multi-billion (in 1991 dollars) price tag.  The official site plan and some key pieces concept art corroborated this theory.   For example, the giant soundstages that were to be home to the Future World style pavilions (with exteriors not visible to the park-goer) were built behind the World Lagoon show buildings, and the only way to access these would be subterranean (likely, moving) passageways.

Also, on the site plan & art, there was scant evidence of the park’s most famous & elaborate attraction: the “World Cruise” aka “River of Time” – a forty-five minute, five-stop boat ride that would take riders past animatronic show scenes and then “pop out” in the exterior waterways of that particular continent.  This ride would also have to be on the lower level (light gray lines in my plan).  

 This pic of the underside of SpaceStation Earth, the park’s enormous centerpiece, shows the multiple levels (Lower Concourses leading to the futuristic Wonders of WestCOT pavilions). 

Speaking of SSE, since the World Cruise/River of Time covers the historical scenes that comprise the majority of EPCOT’s SSE’s ride, I imagine this West Coast geosphere attraction to be closer to Horizons in spirit & execution – focusing on futurism rather than the history of civilization.

The entrance to the park (and part of The Americas corner representing the U.S.A.) is in a similar style to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, easing the thematic transition from to Disneyland’s MS:USA to WestCOT.   There is an exhibit and show in a similar vein to The American Adventure.  

Native Tribes of North America are represented by an island village and Spirit Lodge-type show.   Mexico is represented with an interior space (similar to EPCOT but much larger) that houses an ongoing night-time fiesta, dark ride and spinners for kids.  Inca & Aztec exhibits & shows are present, as well.

Europe begins with a tribute to Denmark’s Tivoli Gardens that inspired Walt.  France & Italy are represented in the wings of the Continental Hotel that rises, similar to Mira Costa, five or six stories above the park.  There is the Russian show once planned for EPCOT and a Trans-European Express circle-vision attraction crossing the heart of the continent.  As Europe transitions eastward, Turkey & Russia meet in a family boat ride based on the classic song ‘Abdul Abulbul Amir’ (done in a similar style as TDS’ Sinbad attraction).

Asia begins with representations of Istanbul (part of the Hotel Oriental), India (a Bollywood-musical theatre), Japan (Meet the World production), SE Asia (Siamese carousel).  The Ride the Dragon coaster represents China, with its Great Wall segment and Dragon's Teeth Mountains.

The lakeside areas of Africa are more representative of North Africa & the Middle East (with a Great Pyramids adventure on the scale of Indiana Jones and a bustling bazaar).  

Equatorial Africa, with its river rapids attraction, uses some elements of the unbuilt EPCOT pavilion.

Tony Baxter described (and the Master Plan confirmed) that the Future World pavilions would be housed in huge, un-themed (from the exterior) warehouses (or soundstages) standing behind the heavily-themed World Lagoon.  This would be done to afford WDI the ability to make changes to the shows being presented, without having to expensively alter/demolish elaborate, futuristic pavilions.

While that sounds cost effective, I believe that a great theme park must impress not only from within, but without, as well.  So while I kept the concept of accessing the backstage Wonders pavilions via lower level concourses, I drew representations of themed exteriors based on another WDI WestCOT proposal.

I also created some original iconography that would link these futuristic pavilions to their Orlando sisters.  I have very strong feelings about EPCOT Center’s Future World past, present & future, which I will discuss when I post a plan for that park, but I’ll say here that I think that the symbology created for Future World was a work of graphic design genius, and discarding it (and thus any holistic linkages among the FW pavilions) and not replacing it is one of the most grievous decisions TWDC has ever made (for me).  I’ve tried to keep all the symbols using simple geometric shapes to tell a universal story.  Ventureport’s represents a key to the world, Earth’s represents the sacred spiral found throughout nature, Science represents the atom, Living represent human well-being:

Wonders of Earth (sometimes called Wonders of Nature) combines the ideas behind EPCOT’s The Land and The Living Seas.  I included some shows/rides that were planned for EPCOT, but never built, such as “Blueprints of Nature”, an expedition through various biomes from the Arctic to the Desert, and a sea-voyage film/simulator aboard a vessel called ‘The Spirit of Mankind’. 

Wonders of Living includes an omnimover ride through the human body (planned for EPCOT, but discarded for Body Wars) as well as a new LPS-version of Imagination with Dreamfinder & Figment.

Wonders of Science (sometimes called Wonders of Space) has the Cosmic Journeys (power of ten) show/simulator planned for the park as well as some concepts taken from earlier versions of EPCOT’s space pavilion (such as a simulated space station and space walk).


So there you have it... a closer look at how one of the big "woulda, coulda, shoulda" projects in theme park history.  If you like this site/these posts, please take a moment to comment.  Cheers.


Anonymous said...

Love the posts. Keep them coming

stitch101 said...

Spectacular job, once again. This is one park that I truly would have loved to see get built. I am usually against the idea of cloning parks besides Disneyland, but this park is easily different enough from EPCOT Center to be an exception.

megatron_85 said...

oh finally...excellent job!

Alwax said...

I agree with Stitch. Fantastically clever design with the hidden passages. This is a park I'd love to see built. I'm sure it'd be a true triumph of design. Maybe they'll do something similar if they do indeed build an Epcot style park at Shanghai. Certainly a vast improvement on DCA.

I'm sorry to harp on about it again, but I've been reading The Hobbit this week and I just keep thinking about how much I'd love to see your Middle Earth park. Just looking at the unlabelled version in your Paris resort excites me. It looks like it'd be something truly marvellous.

Anonymous said...

Awesome. I'd love to see Middle Earth too.

stitch101 said...

The Middle Earth park does sound very interesting. Personally, I am more excited to see the idealized Tokyo Disneyland, as that is the only idealized "Magic Kingdom" park that we haven't seen yet. (But of course I'll be patient and wait for when it comes).

One question though, Randy. Even though all three of them are absent here, do World of Motion, Universe of Energy, and CommuniCore have some form of representation in this park?

Douglas said...

this would've been amazing to have and your use of underground walkways are brilliant since i could never figure out from any blueprint how to get to those 'backstage' buildings which i never guessed would be future world.

all in all though i think a Disney park based completely around World Showcase would be better since that was my favorite aspect of Epcot.

Anonymous said...

Merci d'avoir un blog interessant

'RandySavage' said...

Thanks for the comments.

I appreciate the interest in the Middle Earth and TDL parks... I can't say when exactly I'll get to posting about them, but likely in Spring 2011, so stay tuned.

Stitch, I'd like a west coast version of EPCOT to contain as much original stuff as possible, but it seems likely that scenes in the planned World Cruise, Space Station Earth, Cosmic Journeys, etc. could be similar to some things covered in UofE, WoM and Communicore. For instance, World Cruise (River of Time) could begin with a pre-human dino scene, then move onto early human ancestors hunting megafauna, then the first settled civilizations in the Euphrates Valley and Egypt, then the boat moves to the exterior Africa waterway with the Pyramids looming above... could work nicely. The Wonders of Science has Future Fair which is a Communicore/Innovations/House of the Future-like experience.

Anonymous said...

I have a idea, Randy.
Why you make idea for Disneyland for 1990s like Hollywoodland, Roger Rabbit's Toontown, Tomorrowland 2055, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Adventureland,
New Orleans Square.
And you will make Walt Disney Studios Tokyo soon?

stitch101 said...

Randy, I was also wondering that, since you've done a build-out of WestCOT, would you ever consider doing a build-out of the scrapped Port Disney park in Long Beach, since it has things that aren't in your versions of the DisneySea park, like the Oceana icon, Heroes Harbor, and the Fleets of Fantasy areas.

RandySavage said...

^ Absolutely. It's on my list. And thanks for the heads-up on the Universal IOA early concepts. Scott Sherman has done some great work.

FigmentJedi said...

The layering is just incredible on this Westcot take.

Also in agreement on wanting to see Middle Earth, though I'm also kinda wondering if you've ever thought about the old Armchair Imagineering chestnut that is the idea of a Nintendoland park.

Lonnie said...

Great work RS. I always love to see how so many different ideas would end up fitting into one huge
park. Your variations on rides and attractions really bring the whole
concept into sharper focus.

Keep up the creativity.


David said...

I love this, especially the EPCOT Center-style pavilion logos you created. Disney should bulldoze DCA and build this!

RandySavage said...

Thank you for the comments.

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Walter John said...

I know this is a belated comment, but this is my favorite design of yours. WestCOT would have been such a hit. It's a shame Disney had [yet another] great plan ruined for no true reason.

Anonymous said...

I have a question SWW, wasn't there supposed to be a Hollywoodland in WestCOT? If I remember right that was a part of the plan. It obviously doesn't appear in the two sources you based your park on. I can only assume it was cut because of the budget. My second is if you think a Hollywoodland would make sense in WestCOT? A Hollywood pavilion was planned for EPCOT, however they blew it up from a pavilion into DHS. Third, if you would put Hollywoodland in WestCOT, where would you put it? Perhaps the arena they drew up, and associated with Wonders of the New World...?
Thanks very much!

SWW said...

Hey. Hollywoodland was planned not for WestCOT but for Disneyland. It would have been southeast of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, taking up the eastern portion of the current Esplanade (between DCA & DL).

I don't think a full Hollywoodland easily fits with the wider themes of WestCOT or EPCOT Center (in its original form). Although, Journey into Imagination spent significant time on film-making & the theatrical arts, so Hollywood was present in a way. If Hollywood (movies) were to be present in this version of WestCOT, I imagine it would be as a segment of the new Imagination ride.

I think still think Hollywoodland is a good concept, if/when it is well executed (e.g. Disney-MGM circa 1995), just not for EPCOT/WestCOT.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I totally agree that Hollywoodland would have been very out of place in WestCOT. So Hollywoodland was a part of the major 90s expansion plans, but was cut along with WestCOT and Disneyland Center? I still believe that WestCOT would have been a better park than DCA, even with the major improvements. But what do I know?

George said...

spectacular plans! Unfortunately, the image (and many other images I've noticed) isn't available. I'd LOVE to see it!