Monday, September 26, 2011

Kingdoms of Adventure

A while back I was contacted by Daan of the Netherlands about his Kingdoms of Adventure theme park idea which was mainly dedicated to Disney properties, particularly animated ones.   As you know, I prefer original content to be in a 60-40 ratio (at least) over Disney movie-inspired rides at most of my parks, and because Daan’s layout was too rough for me to translate into a site plan, I asked him to come back with something less Disney-oriented. 

Then some weeks ago Daan’s brother contacted me and asked me to draw the park as a surprise birthday present (Happy Birthday).  So I revisited this Kingdoms idea on my own: I isolated the germs of what would make a compelling theme park, added a lot of original content, a new land, and, most importantly, created the individual Kingdom names & identities.  This was key in going beyond what was a Disney movie-based concept towards a park that was about world cultures & natural history – which I find much more sophisticated, interesting and worthwhile for an audience of both adults and children:

The experience begins in the Museum.  This massive building is influenced by – and on a similar scale to - some of the great cultural buildings of the world that were built from 1850-1930, particularly New York’s original Penn Station, London’s Museum of Natural History and Paris’ Grand Palais.   The Museum gives a taste of each of the park’s lands (kingdoms) via a vaulted exhibit hall on that particular region’s natural & cultural history (e.g. Hall of the Inca Empire, Hall of North American Peoples, etc.).  

The circumnavigating train has its main station in one of the museum's courtyards.  On the parkside grounds there is a garden featuring the leapfrog fountains, as well as viewing for the night-time lagoon spectacular, and in the center of the park, a plaza-monument to the earth (think Aquasphere).  

Moving clockwise, the first kingdom is Arabia.  On the outskirts of the walled city lies the ruins of the evil vizier’s fortress.  This is the gateway to a kuka-E ticket experience revolving around the return of the villain of Aladdin.   I did not want this land to be too heavily reliant on the animated Aladdin, so I envision the magic carpet coaster as unaffiliated with the film, although still taking riders careening around and through the streets of an Agrabah-like city.  Scheraherzade’s tales (Sinbad, Ali Baba, etc.) are the source of varying stunt performances that take place in a large dry-wet amphitheater.   Sultan’s Palace is an opulent restaurant overlooking (and providing a backdrop to) the Lagoon.  I envision an outdoor marketplace with all sorts of curios and street performers (fire-eaters, snake charmers, etc.) as well as an indoor shopping bazaar akin to the original one in DLP.

The next land is based on Africa and is bifurcated (yep, a favorite word) into a Rainforest section and a Savanna section to reflect two of the major biomes of the continent.  The Rainforest section hosts a major dining venue, Tarzan’s Treehouse and the watering hole viewing “theater” once planned for EPCOT Center.  The Savannah section is home to a 4-D theater (hidden within Pride Rock) that has a show based on The Lion King as well as a fun safari jeep ride past animatronic animal scenes (Jungle Cruise on wheels).   A roller coaster similar in scale and intensity to Big Thunder Mountain zips & dips around an Elephant Graveyard with threatening AA hyenas.

If you approach China from the Hub, you would pass under a traditional gate like the one in World Showcase’s pavilion.   The main boulevard is like 16th century Peking, with a nine-tiered temple at the end of the street.  A more Tibetan/Himalayan architecture influences the queue buildings for Penglai Mountain, which is modeled after Expedition Everest.  China Voyager is an overlay of DisneySea’s Sinbad boat ride (same little AAs, same length, same style) but follows China’s seaward explorer Admiral Zheng He.   There is the Mulan-based LPS dark ride and – this a first for any of parks I’ve drawn – a large stadium dedicated to horse shows.

I’ve drawn many Aztec & Mayan meso-American rides and lands in these site plans (and Disney has built a few), with their distinctive pyramids, but I had yet to do one based on the Incan Empire, so that was fun.  The Inca had a distinct style to their Andean cities, villages & temples which I’ve attempted to represent in this land (with several “mountain” facades on the roofs of showbuildings to make the setting feel like one is in the Andes).   There is an indoor boat ride based on Inca history/mythology – I called it Kingdom of the Sun, which was the serious-minded animated project that was then transformed into the lighter, more stylized Emperors New Groove.  The Kingdom of the Sun ride would be in a live-action style similar to Pirates.  There are some family attractions based on the Emperor’s New Groove.

 The final land is themed to Wild North America during its pre-Columbian and Frontier eras (pre-1492-1800s).  Grizzly Rapids doesn’t feature the bear head carved into the mountain, but does have plenty of AA wild animals (elk, bears, wolves, moose, etc.) of the western frontier.   The Riverbend log flume through the eastern wilderness could have some references to Pocahontas (as the rapids could have nods to Brother Bear), but I tend to prefer to steer clear of animated tie-ins when this park already has plenty.  A unique feature of this land is that the water rides both have variable courses (e.g. your log or raft has two paths it can take).

"Spirit of the Wild" is an elaborate SFX show, similar in scale to the Atlantis walkthrough in Islands of Adventure.  I imagined the facade being a Mount Rushmore of wild animals with the giant heads of a bear, eagle, wolf & elk carved into the granite rockwork.  There is a D/C-ticket darkride based on Bambi.


What I like about this park is that it is representative of a Civilizations/Mythology-style theme park.  Of the varying genres of theme parks (i.e., "Science Parks" like Bremen & EPCOT, "Studios Parks" like DHS & Universal Singapore, "Magic Kingdom" parks, etc.), I think the Civ/Myth genre is one that has not yet been built at the Tier I level, but is rife with great possibilities.  I've drawn a couple of this genre and was happy to add this park to the roster.

Comments are appreciated (unless they are requesting Tokyo-WB Studios ;)).


megatron_85 said...


Anonymous said...

What about S.S Disney?
Never builted theme park sunk ship in 1990s?

comics101 said...

Hahaha it amazes me that you were able to take the original drawing from MS Paint and convert it into the amazing park you've created. Overall, I think the park is very well done and great. Idk if it was intentional or not, but I really like the two mountains in the back like would create a very cool mounatin range effect from the entrance of the park.
The only real problem I have is the lack of an icon, there's no "weenie", unless I'm misjudging the size of the globe in the center. I kind of feel like this park would work well with a castle in the's an alternate based on the real world rather than fantasy. Idk if a castle would really work though, but you get the idea...something needs to be at the end of the hub though imo.
Anywho, I'm being nitpicky. It really is a great park. Great work guys!

comics101 said...

Perhaps a weenie based on the Smithsonian Castle?

I could see this building serving as the inspiration for a centerpiece rather nicely.

SWW said...

^ Interesting point about no central weenie. I've drawn lots of Hub-Spoke parks and most of them have a central icon of some point, so for me it was refreshing to do something different here. But if this concept were being advanced in the the real world, I'm sure the underwriters would insist on some sort of iconic feature.

However, as an exercise in design I'm fine with no large central icon (except the Aquasphere-scale (little bigger) earth). It's hard to tell from this 2-D rendering, but there are various landmarks at the reat of each land that basically line up with the central hub.

For example, look down the China boulevard and you'd see the pagoda with Penglai behind it; look towards Africa and you'd see the Treehouse centered; at the back of the Inca land is the Great Temple; etc.

I think keeping only landscape around the Hub rather than adding a Museum-like castle (although I like that idea and Smithsonian architecture) allows for a unique perspective - sort of like being in the center of World Showcase Lagoon, but condensed.

I appreciate the commentary.

comics101 said...

^You've got me convinced hahaha. I can only imagine how awesome it would be standing in the middle of WS Lagoon, taking in WS around you. It'd be incredible, it'd be like standing on top of the world. If there's a park to not have the central weenie, it would be this one. That 360 view would be incredible.

comics101 said...

Oh and yeah, I did notice the weenies at the end of the street. Still, I just worry it's not enough, though I do understand the desire to try something new. The lack of a centerpiece reminds me of WDSP though, and how empty and boring and common it felt.

That said, WDSP lacked a lush, green and beautiful park-like area in it's center, and it certainly lacks the detailed and beautiful lands your park includes, instead opting for soundstages and the sterile, studio feel...
Now I'm just rambling, bottom line is I see where you're coming from and I do think that once in the center of the park, each land's weenie would probably be enough to draw guests in.

KSDisneyFan said...

I have been following this blog since it began, and it is my favorite blog out there. You have me sold on every park you have ever drawn. I'm just wondering, are you ever going to come out with your Paris DisneySea. It sounds like it would be pretty amazing.

Anonymous said...

SWW: Remember in 1990s, Eisner wants Disneyland to add new lands: Roger Rabbit's Toontown, Tomorrowland 2055 and Hollywoodland. You could do that in the future.

Main Street USA
New Orleans Square
Critter Country
Roger Rabbit's Toontown
Tomorrowland 2055
and Hollywoodland

A Snow White Sanctum said...

Quite a creative layout. I'd visit the park.

SWW said...

KS, glad you follow the blog. I am quite fond of the Paris Disney plan I drew and it should appear in the coming months (but not the next few weeks). I'd like do do some conceptual sketches of that park first and begin moving beyond just site plans.

Anon: I've done one iteration of the Original Park and I'm working on another, however it's not the one you describe. Maybe one day in the future.


Anonymous said...

What about Tokyo Disney Studios?

Colin said...

put genie's wish in this park. this is your greatest one