Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Anaheim - California Adventure

  For me, one of the key problems with DCA - that I've tried to address here - is that it was built with little regard to sight-lines & visual intrusions.  I believe theme parks can be considered "great" when they successfully transport the visitor to an extraordinary place.   In order to do this, the first and most important task is to block from sight & mind the real world of cheap hotels, power lines, commercial buildings, etc. 

The biggest issue regarding DCA for me was how to handle Paradise Pier.  I don’t care much for the lightly-themed carny rides and hip-modern puns, signage & architecture of the original Pier, and I really don't like the lack of a berm which allows for many outside visual intrusions, particularly the Paradise Pier Hotel and Grand Californian DVC addition, in the Pier's wide vistas.  However, after studying many close-ups of the fully Victorian-ized Pier model (in the Bluesky Cellar), as well as the fine execution of the revamped sections (e.g., Midway Mania), I've come to believe that if given the full-budget treatment, the Idealized Turn-of-the-Century Boardwalk could work within a Tier I theme park.  It could - and should - be the equivalent of Main Street, U.S.A., but a waterfront midway.

You will note in my drawing that all the Victorian components are here: the new wooden buildings housing the queues for the carousel, ferris wheel and coaster, the new parachute drop, the new facades for the Pavilion area – all based on the model below (I understand that most of this much-needed placemaking has, unfortunately, been cut from the budget):
Photo from David Wallace's stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/david-wallace/sets/72157610368139836/with/3066890584/
Now, what to do about the outside intrusions.  One way to address is to build a berm.  Another is to build a thematically-appropriate hotel (e.g. MiraCosta in Tokyo DisneySea).  Here, in place of the razed Paradise Pier Hotel, I've added an expansive turn-of-the-century beach resort (based on those like the Del Coronado), with turrets and parapets that complement that which is within the park:

I did a quick photoshopping of the before & after view:

Unfortunately, at the Grand Californian, Disney built a very pedestrian (IMO) extension to the beautifully-designed original  building right up to the border of (and now looming over) the Paradise Garden area.  In my idealized vision, this DVC expansion never came to pass.  That area is given over to a major E-ticket dark ride, inspired by attractions like Mystic Manor & Haunted Mansion, which explores Gustav Tinkerschmidt’s mysterious, frightening & humorous funhouse & sideshow:

The next big issue was what to do about Carsland.  Part of me wanted to do something different with that land, because (i) Radiator Springs and the types of rock formations being built right now are not part of the California landscape (more AZ/UT), and (ii) it is limiting to theme an entire land to a single film franchise that has only indirect connections to CA (Pixar, Rt 66, etc.).  However, after seeing the extraordinary rockwork that has been done so far in that area, and realizing it can be fun to draw some areas that will actually be built, I decided to keep it (although I renamed it).  The only change is that I added the Drive-In Theatre restaurant that was cut from the plan:

Buena Vista Street is drawn as planned:

I drew the Grizzly Peak section of Golden State as depicted in the Disney Mountains book (i.e., Condor Flats has been incorporated and given a 1950s National Park/Forest overlay.  I would hope some AA bears could be added to Grizzly River, similar to the HKDL peak:

Hollywood sees some major changes.  The land is fully themed to the Golden Age Tinseltown of the 1940s, rather than revealing the set-like backsides of facades.  Monsters Inc and the adjacent unused show building are combined into a lengthy omnimover that takes riders past AA scenes of various genre classics (not repeating those films that are featured in the Great Movie Ride).  The Hyperion Theatre gets an indoor queue/lobby and a Pueblo Deco facade to complement the Tower of Terror:

The final themed zone replaces Bugsland and takes up the remaining sliver of unused land.  I was inspired by the La Brea Tar Pits to do a land on prehistoric California.  I’m a big fan of natural history museums, and that’s basically what this land is.  The Discovery Center is exactly that, with Deco architecture inspired by L.A.’s Griffith Observatory:

The major E-ticket in this area is an ice-age themed flume, with AA dire wolves, imperial mammoths and Shasta ground sloths that once inhabited California’s central valley:


So there you have it.   I think the above would be a worthy second gate to Disneyland.  Please take a minute to leave a comment.  Cheers!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Guest Feature - Walt Disney Studios Themepark

I’m pleased to present another guest feature/collaboration.  I received this pencil sketch for an elaborate take on the Studios model:

From it, and employing a little artistic license, I drew up the following conceptual site plan for his dream Studios park:

What follows is Cody’s description of his park (as well as two original birds-eye sketches):

“For quite some time now I've been developing plans for what I believe would be the perfect studio theme park. Seeing as how I absolutely love movies and all things Golden Age Hollywood, and how I would do almost anything for the chance to use a time machine to visit the 1940's, I suppose that makes some sense.

The Walt Disney Studios Themepark combines ideas and concepts from Disney's Hollywood Studios, The Disney-MGM Studios Europe, The Walt Disney Studios Paris, along with some original ideas I've come up with. It's important to note that the park IS NOT a working movie studio, but does pretend to be one, with cm's portraying aspiring directors and actors/actresses filming on sets. When designing the park, I felt it was important to make sure that the design of the park felt like a movie studio (helping to reinforce the illusion) yet still have individual themed areas, which I think was accomplished rather well. Over all, there are still many areas of the park that need improvements, but for the most part I'm quite pleased with how it came out. Anywho, enough with introductions, "On with the Show!"

Most of the stuff found here exists at Disney’s Hollywood Studios…I figure if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it. At the end of Hollywood Blvd stands The Disney Chinese Theatre, which houses the park's signature attraction, "The Great Movie Ride", a tour through movies unlike any other. Featuring many of the films seen in Disney's Hollywood Studios, you'll find some new movies on the tour as well, including Jailhouse Rock, Planet of the Apes, Forrest Gump, and The Little Mermaid. 
What is Echo Lake at DHS is Primetime Lagoon at my park, and is given a 1950’s theme, a time when Television was in its prime, cars were absolutely perfect, and America found its one and only King. “The Rock’n’RollerCoaster with Elvis” updates the DHS classic with a more theme-appropriate attraction for this land. The exterior of the attraction is based on the Sun Recording Studios in Memphis:

“Great TV Moments” brings your favorite TV shows to life through the magic of an AA stage show (American Adventure meets The Great Movie Ride).

Roger Rabbit’s Hollywood-
The entrance to the land is the Maroon Studios Gate, with the Acme Warehouse being the showbuilding for the “ToonTown Trolley Tours”. “Baby Herman’s Runaway Buggies” is a soundstage with a toonified Hollywood Hospital Set attached to it. Everything else in the land after the Studio Gate appears to be ToonTown.

The Western & Route 66 Lots-
“The Very Wild, Wild, Wild, (Wild) Wild West Stunt Show” is a comedy stuntshow complete with Cowboys, Indian Sidekicks, Bandits, and a grand finale featuring a Damsel in Distress tied to a railroad track complete with a moving train!  “Radiator Springs Racers” is not the new attraction being built in Disney’s California Adventure, but rather a dueling family coaster very similar to “Crush’s Coaster” in Paris (the attraction should probably be renamed).

Animation Ave-
“The Magic of Disney Animation” is a grand, EPCOT Center-like dark ride that takes you on a tour through the animation process that’s unlike any you’ve ever seen. “How To Be A Villain” is a 3-D show featuring the Magic Mirror as host. 

 Marvel Studios Lot-
Marking the entrance of the land is a Stainless Steel, futuristic arch. The exterior of “The Uncanny Xmen” attraction features the X-Mansion as the exterior with it’s grounds as the queue. “Marvel Origins” is housed in a show building designed to look like a futuristic comic book city, and “The Invincible Iron Man” features an exterior very similar to the one seen in concept art for the unbuilt Dubai attraction.

 SciFi Ctyd-
“Alien Encounter” features the creatures of the “Alien” franchise, with a reimagined story in order to go along with its new theme.

The Adventure Backlot-
The facades in the front of this land represent the city of Casablanca, which extends to the Indy Theatre, although it is made to look more like a dig site. The POTC coaster is very comparible to The Mummy coaster found at Uni. It would include several elaborate sets along with a thrilling rollercoaster ride. The Special FX show is a combination of the Monster Make-up Show at Uni and the DHS Backlot Tour Pearl Harbor Preshow, but themed to POTC. The Up fa├žade represents the Tepuis and their waterfalls along with an airship hanger and the partially-exposed “Spirit of Adventure”. 

Production Ctyd-
“The Studio Tram Tour” has been completely transformed and turned into one of the most ambitious attractions ever built at a Disney theme park. Passing through the Streets of New York (a 1920’s recreation of NYC), guests will be taken to the European Set, where your vehicle will stop for several minutes as a brief (and constantly changing) demonstration of car stunts is conducted. It’s then through the bone yard and onto The Western Set you go, where you’ll encounter a scene from the legendary Western River Expedition. Moving through Catastrophe Canyon, The grand finale will then take guests right into the heart of the Battle of Hoth, where you’ll encounter moving AT-ATs, an Ion Canyon, and lots of actors portraying Rebel and Empire forces. 

Well there you have it. The park is far from perfect, but I feel it does the movie theme justice, which is more than any other movie themed park in the world does. I’d like to thank RandySavage for taking the time to turn my rough sketch into a map, he did a great job! Also, for further explanations, revisions, edits, and additions to this park, and also for new and exciting parks, please visit my blog, Sparks of Inspiration"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Castle Diversity

A brief entry.

Of the 40+ theme park plans I've drawn so far, there are 10-12 different Disneyland/Magic Kingdom-style parks (I don't think the world needs 12 different Disneylands quite yet but it has been fun to explore all sorts of variations on a theme).

I believe each park should be unique while retaining the essence of the original.  So here  I've drawn some fairytale castle elevation silhouettes for a portion of my MK-style parks (Anaheim, Tokyo & Paris represent their existing castles):