Monday, May 23, 2011

Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland is known for, among other things, its popularity and financial success as well as its meticulous operations and maintenance programs.  It is an operational model that theme parks the world over should follow.  However, from a design standpoint there is a lot about the park I would change and three lands in particular (Fantasyland, World Bazaar and Tomorrowland) that I think could use a radical overhaul (aesthetics-wise).   Unlike Paris Disneyland, which was intended to be an original work of art designed from scratch for a sophisticated European audience, Oriental Land Co. executives wanted a “Disney park just like those in America”, so they toured Disneyland and Magic Kingdom in the 1970s and pointed out the different elements they wanted copied directly into their Tokyo park.  

Here is my plan for an expanded version of TDL:


STREETS OF AMERICA: While I think the concept of a covered entry, as well as a World Bazaar (i.e., World Showcase, not a covered MS:USA), can work well in a theme park (I’ve used them elsewhere), I’ve never been a big fan about the way World Bazaar was executed in Tokyo.  So in its place I created an outdoor Main Street (cobblestone pavers), with four quadrants, each representing a different period (architecture, cuisine, technologies, etc) in American history.  The front two are based on Colonial Boston (1700s) and Age of Invention (latter 1800s) Philadelphia.  The rear two are based on 1920s New York (deco, Jazz Age) and the typical MS:USA Victorian.  These blocks feature indoor arcades (for inclement weather) similar to Disneyland Paris.  To the west, Broad Street dissolves into a ‘classic’ Los Angeles influenced square, featuring a theater with Disney character shows (like the popular One Man’s Dream) and an exhibit on Walt himself. 


NEW ORLEANS SQUARE: Easing the transition from Streets of America to Adventureland (and already existing in TDL in all but name) is NOSQ.  Throughout the park I’ve added more landscaping and narrowed some pathways in order to make the park feel more intimate and block out-of-theme sight-lines.   A criticism I have of TDL is its openness, the geat width of its pathways.  I’ve read this was an intentional part of the design – a relief from the crowdedness of Tokyo (check out Dave Gottwald’s blog for a really informative and photo-heavy analysis of the design of TDR and all the other Disney parks)  – but in this exercise in fantasy I’ve done quite a bit to change the wide openness and make the park a little tighter, thematically.
Extra wide walkways in existing park
ADVENTURELAND: The major change here is turning the Jungle Cruise (doubling its real estate outside the berm) into a much grander dinosaur riverboat attraction (still set in the pulp 1920s-30s).  Former Imagineer Tom Thordarson produced some artwork for such a ride, featured on DisneyandMore:

I also added an indoor family ride based on the Jungle Book.

WESTERNLAND:  Mostly the same as what exists, but I moved Country Bears to Critter Country in order to keep Westernland more realism-based and the talking animals in their own area.

CRITTER COUNTRY: Tokyo’s Critter Country is a masterpiece of themed design.  If you are not overly familiar with it,  not only does Splash Mountain have more (and maintained like the day it opened), but the restaurant and environment around it are incredible.  Check out Flickr and Youtube to get a better idea, like this photostream.   Someone (unfortunately I can’t remember to credit him/her) once described it thusly, “Do you remember those childrens books or games (Peter Rabbit, Uncle Wiggley, Berenstain Bears, etc.) with detailed, colorful cut-a-away illustrations of the homes of anthropomorphized rabbits, badgers, etc., inside an old tree trunk or cut into a riverbank… TDL’s Critter Country is like stepping into such an illustration.”  

FANTASYLAND:  All the current TDL dark-rides have been changed out for similar ones of Disney films that have yet to receive such treatment (e.g., Beauty and Beast, 101 Dalmatians).  Toad Hall replaces Haunted Mansion (with its Hudson Valley exterior that never worked in Fantasyland) and houses a new, e-ticket incarnation of the Wind in the Willows adventure.  The bright, plastic tournament tent exteriors are all gone, and the facades are “fantasy-village-themed” like those in Anaheim and Paris.  Also the wide open expanse of pavement is broken up by a ribbon of water and landscaping running across the center of the land, similar to the one in Paris:
photo by http://picasaweb.google.com/europeinmay

MICKEYVILLE: Fantasyland has two associated- or sub-lands (as Critter Country could be considered a sub-land of Westernland or NOSQ of Adventureland).  The first is based on an actual plan for Tokyo, a medieval version of Toontown, by artist and former Imagineer Hani El-Masri:

SHADOWLAND: This land is home to several big-budget high-fantasy attractions (not associated with animated features) including TDL’s version of the Haunted Mansion, re-set in a wizard’s castle (just as Paris’ version was re-set in the Old West).

TOMORROWLAND: Tomorrowland, aka Sci-Fi City, gets the famous re-themeing that almost happened in the 1990s.  The northern half, marked by lots of alien rock outcroppings is the shady district of the space pirates, bikers and alien gangsters known as Crater Town. 

The depth-giving backdrop to the entire land is an in-park, sci-fi-themed resort hotel:

PIXAR PLACE: Rather than damaging the thematic coherence of the land, as has been the sad history of Pixar in Tomorrowland, the popular rides based on Pixar works get their own area, easing the transition between Streets of America and Tomorrowland:

***
So those are my physical design changes to what is otherwise a very well run park.  Comments?  And, needless to say, our thoughts and best wishes continue to be for the speedy recovery of Japan and her people, who will doubtless emerge from their current adversity all the stronger.

18 comments:

megatron_85 said...

Finally...Great Job

Anonymous said...

Where's Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin and ToonTown? Will they were builted for new Tokyo Disney studio theme park?

Jeff said...

This makes me happy, I've been waiting for this map for the longest time! Thank you for posting this!

stitch101 said...

Love what you did here with the park. However, I'm not sure about having Pixar in the park. I've been reading around the internet, and I've heard some say that Pixar never should be in a Disneyland, as Disneyland is about timeless stories, whereas Pixar's form of storytelling is more contemporary. I'm just interested to know what your perspective on the subject is.

As for the rest of the park, excellent. Not so sure about the Centuari Hotel, because it wouldn't feel the same if you didn't enter the park via a type of Main Street. That kind of exciting build-up would be gone. Although I do also have to admit that the hotel does a nice job at expanding Sci-Fi City's story.

Douglas said...

i really like this version. adds much to the park which can't expand because of space issues despite being bigger than the tiny Disneyland resort. i agrre on the Pixar thing since i don't see how any Pixar film fits besides Buzz and Wall-e since Tomorrowland, is to me, a space port. liked how you moved HM even though it made sense already from a cultural standpoint since ghosts are fantasy to the Japanese.

Anonymous said...

But there's no Toontown in this new TDL plan. Are you gonna add Toontown for new theme park idea called Disney-Warner Bros. Studios Backlot Tokyo, Randy?

Armchair Ashley said...

I wonder what will be in Randy's future works.

megatron_85 said...

Have you been quiet since TDL, Rand-er i mean Mr. Wilson?

'Randy' aka SWW said...

Hey. I've got some cool stuff lined up and ready to go... A Sydney Disneyland, a total transformation of WDSP, a Long Beach DisneySea...

But when there's only a handful of comments (I really appreciate those above who have made comments), I get less motivated to post, feeling that people just aren't that interested (which I can understand).

I'll try to put a new one up today...

Armchair Ashley said...

EPCOT's Future World will probably look nice.

Sam said...

Don't be shy to post anything, we're always interested!

Cartoon Chase said...

Just a bit currious. Since you mentioned that Tokyo's Haunted Mansion has a Original story, does that mean the Disneyland Mansion and the Disney World Mansion have two different stories? Other than that I think this Tokyo park is perfect.

SWW said...

^ Hey Chase,

Since this Tokyo version is set in the medieval-fantasy Shadowland, the Haunted Mansion is heavily tweaked to reflect those surroundings (just as Paris' version has been altered to reflect Frontierland). For example, the stretch room could be medieval tapestries, not oil paintings.

I hadn't really thought of it, but I think making adjustments to reflect their time/place (post-Colonial New England, New Orleans) could be an interesting idea for the domestic HMs.

J. said...

Just a question, but do you think the new look for tomorrow land is too dark? Was that part of the motivation for Pixar Place?

SWW said...

^ It's darker, but I don't think it's too dark. Certain attractions like Space Mountain, the Zoo, AstroOrbitor, Lunar Rovers and the Hotel could be given a neutral or lighter treatment to help balance the somewhat darker elements of Star Tours, UFO Encounter and Crater Town.

Pixar Place is there to house popular Pixar-based attractions without damaging the setting/theme of the other lands (as has happened in most Disney parks). That's the motivation. AstroBlasters serves as the segue from Pixar to Tomorrowland.

jabroon piece said...

Peppa Pig theme park
You can also see an awesome and intricate firework display that are put on consistently for the community to see. All these elements create the Florida Disney land indeed a satisfied position to check out.

Josesddp said...

Have you been quiet since TDL, Rand-er i mean Mr. Wilson?

Colin said...

what kind of attractions did you plan for pixar place because I love this park.