Thursday, January 27, 2011

WDW - Magic Kingdom 2025

When something noteworthy stirs up the theme park design world, I get motivated to draw a plan around it (like the Hyperion Wharf announcement).  As most readers here know, Disney recently released the artwork for the latest version of the New Fantasyland.  There have also been hints of a Tron E-ticket being considered for the MK’s Tomorrowland, post 2014.


With these things in mind, I drew my second idealized version of the planet’s most popular theme park – one a little closer to reality than my first (which had an original castle and a Black Cauldron indoor flume, among other things that will never happen).

Fantasyland will have two new meet & greets in “Story Time with Belle” and one attached to The Little Mermaid building.  Rather than convert a ride system to another, elaborate m&g, this park sees the old Snow White dark ride converted to a Tangled (or any other Disney fantasy) dark ride.  Since there is apparently an unquenchable thirst for Princess m&gs, I’ve converted the unused and rotting, but nicely designed, Skyway station into a chalet-themed m&g.


I drew Circusland (aka Storybook Circus) from the artwork, with tents and central Casey Jr. water feature.  The two northernmost tents become the façade for a circus-themed dark ride starring the Disney characters (something similar was planned for Anaheim in the 1970s).

Adventureland sees the much-missed Adventures Club taking over the unused Adventureland Veranda.  The Aladdin spinner and Arabian bazaar is removed from the plaza in front of the Tropical Serenade (a new show created in the spirit of the original).

Tomorrowland sees the Deco-Tech theme of the Avenue of Planets implemented throughout the land.  I’ve added some curves and helixes to the speedway for what will be OrbDrive Cruisers – free-roaming, futuristic, electric-powered vehicles of tomorrow, inspired by the concept art of Mark Nicoll.

To add some greenery and another hidden corner, I put a futuristic arboretum with dancing fountains in place of the old skyway station/bathrooms.

Tron: The Ride is the major addition in Tomorrowland.   Some reports about the attraction currently under development at WDI incorporates some kind of indoor lightcycle launch coaster similar to the Vekoma model, with heavy visual/screen elements to simulate the Grid.  I’ve read that the planned queue is an attraction in itself – using stunning SFX to transport guests into the Grid world.   I have mixed feelings about adding Tron to Tomorrowland, since outside the Grid, Tron takes place in the near present.  This would have to be thematically reconciled with the mythos of Tomorrowland.


Frontierland gets an enormous E+ attraction that combines Indiana Jones Adventure & Western River Expedition with a shooter.  Themed in a grittier style than the rest of Frontierland (think Red Dead Redemption), the attraction begins in the town jail, where the villainous Boss has been busted free by his men.  Guests are deputized and sent off in Stage Coaches (with rifles attached) to bring the gang to justice.  Along the fast-paced, thrilling journey, riders are nearly curshed by stampeding buffalo, dynamited by wicked outlaws, meet hostile & friendly Indians, banditos, and many other wonders of the old west.  In a number of scenes rider will be able to exchange gunfire with the bad guys - setting off hundreds of individual squibs.



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Comments?  What are your predictions for the state of the Magic Kingdom in 2025?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

WDW - Animal Kingdom



The Oasis. The only major change here is the removal of the Rainforest Cafe: The area is needed for Beastlie Kingdomme backstage areas and these themed restaurants have become fairly commonplace around the U.S.  I think the experience here should be one-of-a-kind.

Discovery Island.  At the base of the Tree of Life, winding paths through the roots lead you to the subterranean theater – and its multi-media “Wonders of Nature” show – in the same vein as the American Adventure.  The show gives an overarching sense of the animal world and the mission of the park.  The post-show is Conservation Station and contains exhibits to educate about the state of wildlife on Earth.  As much as I agree with its message, the actual execution of Conservation Station (aka PlanetWatch) never made it a compelling reason to take a boring (IMO) train ride to the top of the park.

Discovery Riverboats are back, but with an increased number of special effects and events along the journey (like the submerged kraken).  

Beastlie Kingdomme is an area that I believe should have been there from Day 1.  Here, I have approximated its original design from the concept art. 

You can read the fascinating and wonderful details of this land, including its signature attractions, on MousePlanet, which has four articles by the creators of Beastlie Kingdomme.  If you have not read these, you will want to do so:

I’ve padded Beastlie Kingdomme with three additional attractions: a dark ride of fantastic forest creatures, a spinner and effects-heavy theatrical experience hosted by Merlin:

Africa.   The changes in Africa include a Harambe Village Theatre – similar to that in Hong Kong Disneyland – which hosts the Lion King or any other show. 

At the northern end of the Safari, the flood-control canal has been re-shaped to resemble the Masai River.  Beyond the river is a huge paddock that will give the widest, most wildlife filled vista outside of the real thing – imagine scores of wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, elephant, etc. moving about in the far distance.
photo by wild4photographicsafaris.blogspot.com
I don’t believe in ‘breaking the third wall’ with respect to backstage views as is currently the case with the Wildlife Express.  Instead there would be heavy landscaping, distant savanna/tropical forest views and theme-appropriate narration. 

And Wildlife Express has a worthwhile destination: Amazonia, a new land featuring a chilling dark ride adventure that will touch on the general fear of snakes and large, furry South American spiders.  While my ideal WDW already has one Soarin’ simulator (Impressions de France), here there is a second: Soarin’ over the Amazon.  While the former shows us human endeavors like skiing the French Alps, ballooning over Loire Valley chateaux, or circling the Eiffel Tower, the latter focuses on natural wonders such as the Amazon Rainforest, Iguaçu Falls and the Tepuis.

In Asia, as originally planned, Tiger River Run is a 20+minute boat ride that feature live Asian animals including Asian elephants, Indian rhinos, orangutans, leopards, peacocks, sambar and gaur.  I’ve utilized the exiting Kali River Rapids queue, which is long and beautifully designed.  For the final thrill element, the bifurcated rafts detach and descend through clearcut-caused rapids.

The mythos of Dinoland is that it is 1950s America – a golden age for paleontology.  The institute is not some generic structure but built to resemble the famed, gothic Yale-Peabody Museum – the eastern academic headquarters for paleontological activity.  It houses Countdown to Extinction, with a completely different storyline and cast of characters.  It still involves a time machine (more thoughtfully explained) and travelling back to the K-T Divide (in a larger indoor/outdoor thrill ride with some slower elements).

Cretaceous Trail is more fleshed out, like its fantastic sister trails in Africa & Asia, with living prehistoric animal exhibits including crocodiles and turtles.

Out ‘West’, in the Badlands, things are going awry at the dig site, where The Excavator (a family coaster) has mine carts speeding past excavation equipment that seems to have been possessed with the animal spirits of the long-dead dinosaur fossils.

The exterior of Mammoth Falls is a boulder-strewn, soggy pine forest landscape representing North America 10,000 years ago.  In the pre-show, Lescaux-like cave paintings come to life to illustrate the types of megafauna we may experience.  The flume ride features encounters with giant sloths, glyptodonts, sabre tooth cats, mastodons, mammoths and their primitive human hunters.

In my ideal vision of the Disney parks, California Adventure was never built (Disneyland’s second gate is Disneysea) – anything worthwhile in that park exists elsewhere in my vision (e.g., EPCOT Canada’s Yukon Rapids or Paris DisneySea’s Coney Island Mania).  In order to represent invertebrates, which make up the vast majority of the animal kingdom, I have imported the Bug’s Land from DCA.  

A Bug’s Land is part of a larger Disney character section which fills the role of Camp Minnie-Mickey and allows families with very small children have some more to do.  Pagoo’s Adventure is something that was in the early plans for DAK… I believe it involved an original, cartoon panda (could have stolen the thunder from Kung-fu Panda, Disney!) in a dark ride setting.  Here Pagoo exists, perhaps gaining the popularity of other theme park original characters like Figment and Duffy the Bear.

Finally, I’ve added the subsurface fountains to the lagoon for a night-time show in what is now a multi-day park.

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Here's is a relative size comparison with my built-out Magic Kingdom

Please leave a comment or feel free to start a discussion

Sunday, January 2, 2011

WDW - River Country


Combining the brilliant rockwork of Big Thunder Mountain with the woodland atmosphere of Tom Sawyer Island and the fun of a water park, River Country was an extraordinary place.  Until it was abandoned and left to rot, it was one of the three best-themed water parks in the world (if you know of any others as well-themed, aside from Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach, please let me know).  Reviewing an archive of photos to piece together this site plan reinforced this opinion – from its old fashioned lamp posts & railings to the dozens of small rivulets and pathways, this was my kind of park, conjuring boyhood adventures in the woods.

Like so many other treasures first created, then despoiled, by the Disney Company, here at IdealBuildout River Country lives on.  My aim was to expand River Country to put it on the same scale as Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach - for as wonderful as the park was in theme, it was a shadow of its sisters in the slide department.  This would give each WDW Resort Area its own unique, full-scale water park – alleviating crowds at all three.

 The park’s theme is one-part Old West, one-part Native America, one-part Tom & Huck’s ol’ swimmin’ hole.  The southern core of the park consists of what once was.  LostEpcot.com has an excellent & thorough photographic archive of the park, HERE.  

The expanded area lies north of the backstage access road.  One can get there by passing through a tunnel on foot or wading through the shallow Crystal Springs River, based on the Virgin River walk at Zion National Park.  
Discover Zion, UT region here: http://www.dostgeorge.com/
 Once in this new “wilderness”, guests will find three new peaks, using similar rockwork to the original.  These mountains contain lengthy tube & body slides, including a large family raft ride similar to Teamboat Springs, that take riders through the cypress & pine forest.  Many of the slides pass through cavern sections – some with interior effects like snoring bears, dripping stalactites or shaking rocks. 
credit: http://micechat.com/forums/vintage-photos-trip-reports/95694-rainbow-caverns-viewmaster-pic.html
 Pathways under the mountains are somewhat eerie, similar to the caverns of Tom Sawyer Island.  There is an old Cider Mill, smelling of apples, that houses three slides.

What I’ve always found very scary – even moreso than tall speed slides, is high cliff jumping.  Here, there are three levels from which to jump into a grotto, from heights of 25, 35 and for thrill-seekers, 45 feet.

 The flagship slide of the park is Cherokee Caverns, a pair of fast, long & disorienting slides that travel entirely under a mountain in total darkness (with a few light-based SFX).

A unique thing about this idealized River Country is that it has plenty of dryland activities, from pony rides to nature trails to a live music stage and Indian camp.  There are a number of new dining facilities as well as the old cook-out pavilion for those campers who would like to grill for themselves. 

While the abandonment of River Country is somewhat fascinating – watching nature reclaim a Disney park – I do lament the loss of this unique & wonderful place.  It seems it will now be turned into a DVC resort, continuing the march of hotel development on the banks of Bay Lake.
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If you enjoy these plans/posts, please take a second to leave a quick or in-depth comment or start a discussion.  Cheers and Happy New Year!