Friday, April 15, 2011

Kingdoms United!

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by 'KingMickey' to do a conceptual site plan of a park, dubbed Disney's Kingdoms United! that he had imagined and roughly sketched out:

This park was to be completely devoted to Disney animated characters (with nine lands around a lagoon, each dedicated to a single animated classic).  As I've mentioned before, in my own parks I often keep animated tie-ins to a small minority of the park's attraction roster, so drawing a park that was all-animation was a refreshing change of pace.  

The result was World Showcase meets Fantasyland and is described below in KingMickey's own words:

"This theme park takes the style and design of several different Disney movies and throws them into one theme park, creating the ultimate experience of wrapping the guests into the storylines and environments of some of their favorite Disney films.  Wrapping around a central lagoon that connects all of the kingdoms together, it is only a mere step from the Sultan’s Palace in Agrabah to the settlement in Jamestown seen in Pocahontas. At night, Disney’s World of Color brings the lagoon to life, truly bringing all of Disney’s classic films together into one nighttime spectacular.

The Kingdoms of the World 
The entrance of the theme park, the “Main Street”, is themed to Kingdom Hearts, using the architecture seen in the Traverse Town and Twilight Town worlds in the game as its’ main architectural design.  Rows of trees and lamplights lead through the provincial area, leading to the Twilight Town Clocktower, where the Kingdom Hearts attraction, a target-shooting, multi-track attraction is found within. On the backside of the clocktower is a viewing location for World of Color.  Guests can board a boat cruise and float around the lagoon.  In the center of the lagoon are golden statues of the main characters represented throughout Disney’s Kingdoms United.

 Chateau de France
 Continuing clockwise around the park, guests proceed over a bridge and are lead into Belle’s Village seen in Beauty and the Beast.  In Belle’s Village, you can explore some shops or take a relaxing boat cruise around the river that intertwines between the town and the forest. Perhaps you’d like to board a mysterious train, invented by Maurice, and be transported to the drawbridge of the Beast’s Castle. Once inside life-sized castle that takes up the rear of the land, guests will find Beauty and the Beast, a classic dark ride re-telling the tale as old as time.  The other parts of the castle give way to secret passages, leading to the  Enchanted Castle Tour, hosted by Lumiere and Cogsworth. Another passage leads to the Rose Garden, a beautiful balcony where Storytime with Belle takes place.

Notre Dame Courtyard
 Continuing on from Belle’s Village, guests proceed into the Notre Dame Courtyard, in the midst of the Topsy Turvy celebration.  The area is themed to The Huncback of Notre Dame. In the center of the square, the Topsy Turvy Celebration, an interactive streetmosphere extravangaza appears daily. On the backside of the courtyard is the cathedral of Notre Dame, which leads guests through its peaceful sanctuary.  Inside the cathedral, guests will find The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a live, musical re-telling of the story, very similar to the attraction that once existed at the Disney-MGM Studios. A passageway leading to the attic of the cathedral leads to Quasimodo’s Bell Tower, an interactive play area for kids, looking down on the courtyard.     

The Enchanted Forest
The French-inspired courtyard gives way to the setting of a beautiful forest.  Upon exploring the forest, guests will soon realize they are in the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, when they come across the Dwarfs’ Cottage, where they can meet the seven little men and Snow White, herself.  Traveling down the forest trail will lead the guest to Snow White – An Enchanting Musical, an outdoor theater that uses puppetry, music and effects to bring the story of Snow White to life.  The forest trail leads the guests to the rock exterior of the mine, sheltering the Dwarfs’ Mining Camp interactive area and the Seven Dwarfs’ Mine Train.  The forest trail continues to grow deeper, leading the guests to the foot of the Queen’s castle, Snow White’s Wishing Well just nearby.  Inside the castle, the guests can interact with the Magic Mirror.  Descending down into the laboratory of the castle will lead guests to Escape the Witch, an intense boat ride, where the guests are pitted against the wicked power of the Evil Queen, as they try to escape her castle and the dark forest. Beware, poisonous apples along the way.

 The forest soon gives way to a beach-side setting, as guests enter a cavernous cove under the sea to reach the kingdom of Atlantica (indoor land), seen in The Little Mermaid.  In the Undersea Garden, attractions like Jumpin’ Jellyfish, Blowfish Balloon Race and Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster add to the themed experience of being under the sea.  One of the land’s significant attractions is the Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, which will be a copy of the attractions found at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort.  Guests can even meet Ariel at her grotto located alongside the attraction.  The tranquil undersea garden soon leads to a chilly interactive graveyard of sunken ships.  In the largest ship hull is an entrance that leads to Shark Attack!, an intense thrill attraction where guests board their own ships and are pursued by the massive shark from the film.  The interactive Sunken Ship Graveyard leads through the mouth of a sea dragon, leading to the interactive lair of Ursula, where guests can meet the villainess diva herself.

 The pathway leads past the beach-side rocky setting and leads to the royal courtyard of the city of Thebes, seen in Hercules.  At the back of the courtyard is Mount Olympus, which houses a dark ride that re-tells the story of Hercules.  To the left of the mountain is the Temple of Zeus, an interactive venue where a statue of Zeus and several other gods and goddesses come to life.  Leading up the stair to a royal coliseum is Go the Distance: A Musical, a musical comedy hosted by the Muses.  In front of the courtyard is the beautiful Garden of Aphrodite, which is directly opposite of the entrance of the park.  The area provides a beautiful location during both day and night and offers one of the best views of World of Color.

 The Royal Kingdom
 Guests soon find themselves wandering back into a forest trail. It is only when a tall tower is seen in the distance that they realize they must be in the forest from Tangled.  Continuing into the forest, you’ll find Rapunzel’s Royal Carousel.  A trail through the forest leads to Rapunzel’s Tower, which serves an exterior to the even better dark ride, Tangled: Flynn’s Adventure.  The castle of the kingdom offer s a great dining selection at the Kingdom Faire restaurant.  A Meet & Greet location with Rapunzel and Flynn is also located inside of the castle.  Every night, after the sun sets and night falls, all of the kingdoms throughout the theme park send off floating lanterns, which take off into the night sky.
 The forest fades away to the desert landscape of Agrabah from Aladdin.  The city boasts the Agrabah Bazaar, a marketplace of goods and foods, located just before the Sultan’s Palace.  Inside of the Sultan’s Palace, guests will find Aladdin’s Arabian Adventure, where guests board their own magic carpet and take off through the story of Aladdin.  After traveling through a brief oasis of palm trees, the path leads inside of the Cave of Wonders, where Genie’s Wish, a 3-D attraction takes place.

The Pridelands
 The desert theme of Agrabah continues as the path travels through a beautiful oasis area, entering into a peaceful savanna, seen in The Lion King.  The savanna will lead to Timon and Pumbaa’s African Safari, a jungle jeep adventure, where Timon and Pumbaa act as guides through their own tour of the jungle. Rhythmic sounds and music come from some live drummers found just outside of the Circle of Life restaurant. Ahead lies Pride Rock, the iconic large rock formation from the movie that houses the Festival of the Lion King attraction.  Moving past Pride Rock leads to the Elephant Graveyard, an interactive playground filled with large elephant bones and the Chomps Steakhouse.

Native Camp Grounds

The pathway then leads through the Virginian settlement of Jamestown, where the settlers had landed in Pocahontas.  Inside the settlement, there are dining locations and shops.  Further into the wilderness that travels alongside a riverbend, guests will come across Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends, a show that was once featured at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  The path continues to lead down to Grandmother Willow’s Tree Grove, an interactive plaza where guests can meet the tree, herself.  At the southeastern edge of the park, guests will come across Meeko’s River Run, a river rapids attraction through the forest and the Indian encampment, as well as Just Around the Riverbend, a log flume attraction that takes guests through the story of Pocahontas.  The pathway in front of Jamestown leads guests back to the Twilight Town Clocktower at the entrance of the park."


Thanks, KingMickey... hope my drawing did justice to your ideas.


sam said...

Ha, even before RandySavage

I think it's a wonderful park, neatly layed out. But I miss a Mulan-themed area.

But still wonderful!

FigmentJedi said...

The Kingdom in Tangled is called Corona in the Art Book and various storybooks

Jeff said...

It's like this concept because it takes you to different countries, but at the same time, the countries are inspired by Disney animated films! Hopefully Disney never tries to implement this kind of theming into World Showcase. Meeting Disney characters from the countries the showcase represents is fine, but I pray that Disney doesn't add attractions based on their franchises in the pavilions. That is what's neat about this concept, though. That's the entire point of it.

This is my favorite blog ever!

megatron_85 said...

hey, i remember that park from kingmickey's ultimate resort post from WDWMAGIC

well, as always, great job

one more thing, what happened to your own version of busch gardens?

RandySavage said...

^ I agree. EPCOT Center should have remained be relatively character-free, IMO, including World Showcase. I certainly do not want to see any more character-based attractions(e.g. Aladdin ride in Morocco, Mulan spinner in China, etc.) in that park.

I recently drew a Disneyland park (hub & spoke) with zero connections to any animated Disney films. I think this park would be a great second gate to that one, giving visitors the option of the full Disney animation experience.



I assume that is product placement... jk

RandySavage said...

Megatron, I have something sort of like BuschGardens, but not an improved version of the exisiting park, in the works.

Douglas said...

i really like this one.

protojimbo said...

I really like this one too! Great job working together guys. Visiting this park would be like eating comfort food! It's all new, yet ties back to the classic animated films for a familiar nostalgic feeling. This is a contender to be an 'Instant Classic'. I like the integration of water features and rides, especially in the Native American area, balanced by the use of a 'water illusion' for the Atlantica section. My one suggestion - I might have flipped the Atlantica and Rapunzel areas, creating one european flavored side and one 'exotic' side with Altantica leading into the Middle East, Africa and the'new world'.
As the Disney Parks have enhanced the Disney film brand (and vice versa), a park like this could really be used to re-market under appreciated titles of the past, like you did here with Hunchback - not a film you'll see represented much elsewhere by attractions or merchandise...

RandySavage said...

^ The flipping is a good suggestion. However, as is there is some separation among the 3 fairytale castle settings (Beauty&Beast, Snow White & Tangled) and to bunch them up might be overload.

Alwax said...

There are a lot of great ideas here and some wonderful themed elements. However I reckon that the majority of these attractions and areas would work best to complement some original park content. But the idea of an all animation themed park is certainly an interesting one. Well done both :)

Anonymous said...

Build Six Flags theme parks next, Randy!

protojimbo said...

Feel free to join in this conversation with our host, RandySavage...
protojimbo - - I saw in your recent site plan (Shadow Kingdom) good examples of the idea of basing a 'land' on a larger geographical or historical setting rather than a movie. There is a lot of pure imagination in that park with it's somewhat left handed (sinister) references to the Disney realm. Very original and fully realized.
I was interested on your thoughts about the newest Chinese park. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of more concept art as the project moves forward. It seems there will be a decent number of new themes and attractions. They might have some things to show at this year's D23 convention - I don't think that's happened yet...
Randy Savage -I'm very excited by its potential. The rumors and budget are indicating that it will be sizable, unique and fairly impressive on opening. I would hope that it would be totally unique from the Tokyo and Hong Kong parks, so I'd like to see the castle depart more radically from the current design which has a lot of Cinderella Castle in it. Hoping plenty more details (would really love to see a park-wide model) are revealed over 2011 and at the Expo.
PJ - It sounds like you get out to the parks yourself at times. I was wondering what your park hopping experience was... Have you been to all the Disney and Universal parks here in the states? Been overseas?
RS - I grew up in the Northeast, going to WDW for our annual family vacation - that was my formative experience and what sparked my love & interest in the parks. Been to DLP one time. I just went to DL for the first time in early April: I wrote a detailed trip report here:
For someone who spends a lot of his free-time thinking about theme parks, I don't visit them very often. None of my friends are into it at all, and I don't live close to Florida or California. I've got these idealized mental images (hence the blog) and so it's almost better to be a rare visitor as reality can often not measure up.

PJ - I know of a few non-disney or universal parks in the international community that are going to be pretty amazing, but how about here? Being more of a fan of darkrides and alternate live entertainment experiences rather than coasters, where besides Disney and Universal can you go in the US? I guess there are other heavily themed areas that aren't amusement parks, like resorts and such. And attractions here and there at museums and casinos. From videos I've seen, one of the more immersive looking areas at Universal is the Dr. Seussland...
RS - Some of the top-tier zoos (Bronx Zoo, San Diego Zoo) and museums (American Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian) have experiences that approach Disney quality... I really like old growth national/state/local parks and hiking - they sort of evoke Frontierland and Tom Sawyer Island. The lodges/visitor centers at Grand Canyon, Glacier, Mesa Verde, Yellowstone and other National Parks are the real thing upon which some Disney masterworks have been based.
more to come...

"RandySavage" said...

Thanks, PJ.

Continuing our Discussion:

PJ - When I was considering a Pixar-only park (I'm not really a purist, but pulling all the existing Pixar attractions out of the Disney parks to put them in one location would certainly make some people happy!), I realized that it's unsustainable. You can't make a new land every time a new movie comes out. In Pixar movies, there aren't enough common themes or locations to have the type of lands mentioned above. Well, maybe - Route 66, The Suburbs ?, A city setting, a Buy 'n Large?. It could be done, but you'd almost have to know what the next three movies would be or focus on the sequel bearing properties...
RS - I am one of those that strongly oppose any property (including Pixar) getting shoe-horned in places where it damages the thematic coherency of the environment (e.g., Buzz Lightyear in Discoveryland; Woody M&G in DLP’s originally character-free Thunder Mesa, Monsters Inc in Tomorrowland, etc), no matter how popular it is. Since so many Pixar films take place in the present, in a number of parks I’ve drawn, I’ve included a Pixar-land, where these properties can cohabitate. In the Studios Parks, its even easier, and I was happy to see Disney take this approach. It would make me even happier if they moved MILF there.

PJ - I was thinking about Star Wars in a similar way. You've probably seen the Star Wars Themepark map that was going around last year (that's when I saw it anyway). It had the fairly logical arrangement of galactic destinations as a theme for the park layout. But when imagining a park for SW myself, I kept thinking - people don't like SW because of the locations. No one says "what I love about SW is Bespin!". Besides, the Tattooine area would have to be half the park! The idea is still 'on the table' for me , but I think it's the experiences that get people excited. In the case of SW, following the story of the movies might work instead of visiting planets.

RS – I think Star Wars can sustain an entire park – at least on paper. I’ve added Star Wars lands to at least 3 parks I’ve drawn. At some point, I will get to drawing a SW park, but there are definitely some challenges. For example, unlike Middle Earth, where walking from The Shire to Rivendell is natural and believable, walking from planet to planet requires more of a suspension of disbelief. It should be a fun challenge.

"RandySavage" said...

PJ - Another approach that is used a lot for particular rides, seems like a great compromise. That is, using a character and the general setting of an existing story (or property) to make a new, parallel experience. The Temple of the Forgotten Eye is almost too close to a movie experience to be the best example, but then the Indy coaster in DLP is a bit too far removed on the other side - you get the gist, I imagine. New experiences and stories in a land of favorite characters and settings is not too shabby. I guess, each park and situation needs individual design consideration, that's what's so fun about batting these ideas around!
RS - Indy, Star Tours, Splash Mountain are all good examples of this. If done right (works within the canon of that characters world), then I think it is mutually beneficial – enhancing both the ride and the wider franchise (as Temple of the Forbidden Eye does). Presenting a Cliffs Notes version of a film should be avoided. If they decide to go that way, the new Shanghai pirates should be an expansion of the filmic world, not a re-telling of particular events from the films. The Further Adventures…
I’m also a proponent of creating original worlds with original theme park attractions and taking those characters/worlds in new and broader directions at various parks around the world. S.E.A. is an example of Disney doing this.

PJ - You mentioned that you often come up with a ride concept as an early step of designing a park. I'd love to see some of your notes on the individual rides you've come up with. From their names on the maps and the necessarily brief descriptions in your park overviews, I can tell there's a lot more than just a facade. I see you have incidental buildings in your plans as well, like bathrooms, food carts and more. I'll bet some of those have themes as well! I love it when I see notes on details that small - I think the ideas are fun to come up with, but also i think it's essential to what makes a place like Disney so special.
RS – I have a step-by-step process, an attraction categorization system, and yes, I definitely have a mental (and hopefully actual) image of what the attraction looks like when I draw its footprint into the site plan. With site plans I work mainly on the macro level, so I add auxiliary buildings for things like bathrooms, quick service food and retail – imagining everything executed on the level of a DisneySea.

"RandySavage" said...

PJ - In imagining new parks I always come to this point sooner or later - is there any other company that could put together as cohesive a world as Disney? Even Universal is questionable on this issue. The properties are so varied and unrelated and even licensed out from rivals (Harry Potter/WB, Simpsons/Fox, Marvel/Disney -lol) that they just can't accomplish it. Again, it sounds like there are some international parks that are a little better at this, but even WB would need to get Harry Potter back to really make it work. (We can talk about a WB park with Harry and DC Comics as the anchors at another time - drool, drool) Also WB fell short in keeping their Looney Tunes characters on the present - either by bolstering a classic (largely Disney's approach to Mickey and friends) or by keeping them relevant and modernized.
RS – Universal has done some masterful execution in certain areas (mainly areas of IOA like Port of Entry, Mythos, Potter and some others), but holistically they shoot themselves in the foot with things like the naked, Dueling Dragons steel coaster. Disney has 50+ years of doing some of the very best work, but I can still find room for improvement in all of their current parks. I’d say 1994 Disneyland Paris, 2006 Tokyo DisneySea, 1988 EPCOT Center are all about as close to thematic perfection, design & execution wise, as a theme park has been.
PJ - Another topic for another time is how the Disney parks and films supported each other, back and forth, over time. I come up with companies whose pantheon on characters or movies would make good lands, but few, if any could pull off what Disney does with a whole park. The one company I keep thinking of has, apparently, no interest in the theme park business - Nintendo. They seem to have a fully realized world in which their main properties coexist. They also have magically fun imagery and being based on games - are already halfway there on the fun scale. A loyal international fan base completes a pretty nice package. Too bad they aren't going to do it - the sales of cheap plastic souvenirs alone should have the suits drooling!
RS – That’s a good idea I hadn’t thought of – although I’ve drawn a 3rd Gate for Tokyo that incorporates one major Nintendo property.
PJ - A brief point about Pixar in the Disney parks - a Wall-E attraction would actually belong in Tomorrowland!
RS—Yes. If they can make the exterior not seem dystopic (unless that the theme of Tomorrowland).

protojimbo said...

A Wall-E attraction exterior could be based on the Axiom Starliner. The ride experience could be an outer space adventure, but here's another idea - an alternate backstory for Tomorrowland! Tomorrowland is actually what the passengers of the Axiom eventually built after returning to Earth! It skips over the dystopian era and gets us back to an optomistic future - which is was Tomorrowland is all about!
Ok, Ok... I know I've gone too far!
I'm mostly kidding - I think most of the Pixar attractions do distract and I certainly wouldn't want the backstory to be hi-jacked like that. I'm just playing...
Just wait until Marvel attractions start creeping in!

RandySavage said...

^ The design of Wall-E, particularly the Axiom, was heavily influenced by 1970s and 80s sci-fi/space art, particularly John Berkey & Robert McCall. It comes full circle, as artists like Berkey & McCall also heavily influenced the futurism-look that inspired Future World and Tomorrowlands of the 1970s/80s - McCall being the painter of all the Horizons artwork (the Mural, Nova Cite, etc.).

Alwax said...

Interesting stuff, guys. I've enjoyed reading it

RandySavage said...

^ Great. and always feel free to bring up any topic regardless of the current posting. I'm always up for intellectual discussion on the art of the theme park design.

Sam said...

Kingmickey, I recently read through your whole Ultimate Disney Resort post and I have to say: it IS the ultimate Resort! Wonderful. (ps. I designed a Kingdom Hearts/Epic Mickey crossover attraction, it is on in the Imagineer board.)

Randy, are you going to draw the other parks of kingmickey's Resort (Magic Kingdom, Disney-Studio's, Villains Vale and Disney's Worldly Wonders) too?

RandySavage said...

^ I haven't seen them... do you have a link?

Sam said...

Sure thing!

There are somers differences between this and his original version of Kingdons United.

KingMickey said...

Hey guys,

Thanks for the comments! And thank you Randy Savage, the park looks just how I'd wanted it to be! Thank you so much for making this another addition to your great blog!

Thank you Sam for expressing interest in my other parks from the Ultimate Disney Resort thread that I had created some time ago. I unfortunatly do not have any concept art for any other parks, however.

Sam said...

Well, I would love to see them layed out, though. They are really cleverly put together.

Colin said...

I have seen a website with a guy who made a theme park with all animated,pixar and some real-life movies. I thought it was great but it had too many. this park is great it takes a few of disney's greatest animated movies and bring them to life. still I think there could be used more of those stories though