Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Virginia - Disney's American Experience

I’m excited to share this vision of an American history theme park.  A while back I drew a version of Disney’s actual planned park for northern Virginia, but I was unsatisfied with its very light attraction line-up.

Enter Cody Schlottmann, with whom I’ve collaborated previously, with an awesome vision for a much more ambitious take on the American theme park idea.  Below is his hand drawn layout of “Disney’s American Experience.” 

From his drawing, I made some alterations and additions, put things in scale and drafted a conceptual site plan of my interpretation of the park:

The American Experience park takes visitors on a chronological and inspirational journey through of 200+ years of our history.  I enjoy the idea of an American theme park so much that I put together a little video slide-show to promote it (listen/watch as you continue reading):

LIBERTYVILLE (1750-1820): This is the Colonial/Revolutionary War-themed land – an expansive take on Liberty Square with authentic shops (like a blacksmith, silversmith, printing press, etc.), a fife & drum parade and a pair of family dark rides.  There is a re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party, as well.

THE NEW WORLD (1600-1810): This area begins in the giant eastern forests with an Indian Village that has various crafts as well as canoes.  The mountainous pine forests of the western frontier mark the Lewis & Clark River Expedition.  Beyond the rapids are expansive trails that lead to various live, wild animal paddocks (a mini-zoo).  The barriers are designed to be invisible or natural, so guests feel that they are in the presence of bison, grizzlies, elk, etc.

DIXIELAND (1812-1860): This land represents Antebellum South & Midwest… the worlds of Tom Sawyer, Uncle Remus, etc.  There is the more genteel section with the Riverboat dinner show and the Haunted Plantation of the Gracie Family and the more back-woods/moonshine area of the Country Bears.

FORT HENRY (1855-1870): This area is dedicated to the Civil War, its causes & aftermath.  Land battles are re-enacted as is the Monitor vs the Merrimack.  Mr. Lincoln AA show finds a home here alongside a Circlevision presentation that puts visitors in the middle of the major battles.

ENTERPRISE (1870-1912): This land represents America’s growth into an industrial giant.  The main thrill ride is Industrial Revolution, through a spark-spewing steel-mill.  An elevated rail takes guests to New York.

THE BIG APPLE (1880-1929): Representing America’s electric metropolis in its golden age.  The main E-ticket is a Cops vs. Robbers chase.  Another family dark ride features Scrooge McDuck – a New York mogul of the period.  The forced perspective Statue of Liberty sits in the Bay and is used as a backdrop for night time spectaculars.

ELLIS ISLAND (1900-1940): Focusing on the immigrant story, the Island features a comedic Muppet presentation as well as more somber shows.

COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS (1920-1950): This midway area is themed to the nostalgic era when County Fairs were clean, wholesome fun and the big event of the Summer for many rural areas.

THE AMERICAN FARM (1940-       ): I envision this area to be a working farm, supplying food for the parks finer restaurants.  There is a dark-ride on the history of American farming, as well as a light, family musical boat ride based on Old MacDonald.

VICTORY FIELD (1940-1945): This land represents American mobilization and action during World War II.  There is a Radar Station in the rocky pass at the northern approach to the land.  The southern entrance is marked by a Guardhouse.   The airfield has B-24 Liberator bombers and P-51 fighters on the tarmac.  I added the spectacular 4-D show called “Beyond All Boundaries” currently featured at the National WWII Museum.   I also thought of an attraction where one boards his own mini-tank and drive around shooting shells (like tennis balls) at targets, other tanks, bunkers, etc.  People on the outside can man gun positions and shoot at the tanks as well.  There is GI obstacle course (playzone) and a USO stage for music & comedy.  WWII-era Captain America is the star of E+ EMV adventure.

THE NEXT FRONTIER (1960-    ): The final land, bringing the visitor full circle, represents America’s achievements in technology – particularly Aeropsace – in the last half of the 20th Century today.  The Space Pavilion was inspired by Tim Delaney’s artwork.  There is also viewing here for a Golden Dreams nightly fireworks/fountains/laser show, with the Statue of Liberty & New York as the backdrop.


Thanks, Cody, for coming up with a great vision and letting me interpret it. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Long Beach DisneySea

Take one part Discovery Cove, one part Sea World, two parts EPCOT and three parts DisneySea, mix them together and you have my vision of the proposed DisneySea park that was to be a part of the massive Port Disney development proposed for Long Beach.   Others have told the story of Port Disney better than I could hope to (I recommend ProgressCity for a very in-depth article with lots of big photos), so the focus of this post will be my version of the DisneySea  park.

I based this drawing off the preliminary site plans (which had very little detail of the park itself), the write-ups and – mostly – the big overview concept art.  As you will see, the front of the park follows the artwork pretty closely.  As things moved toward the horizon in the painting and become less discernable, I had to employ a lot of creative license.

WORLDPORT: The entry plaza and land takes the form of a variety of seaside pavilions from the 1880-1930 time period.  The monorail connects the park to the multiple hotels and other venues of the much larger Port Disney property.

PORT HOTEL: The hotel closest to the theme park is in the Spanish Mission/Hacienda style with lots of landscaping and water features.

 OCEANA: The famed giant aquarium spheres would have been an engineering marvel – and likely far too expensive to ever build – I imagine this facility housing a dark ride (maybe the one originally planned for The Living Seas as well as an FX theater and levels of exhibits.   The monorail station is within the complex.  One of the more quixotic elements of the park are the wavy, semi-elevated platforms that lead up to the Spheres.   I’m not exactly sure what the intent was, but I’ve assumed they are futuristic aqueducts above a tide pool-like garden/trail zone.

FUTURE RESEARCH STATION: This is an extension of Oceana, hosting actual marine scientific research as well as arctic and reef habitats.  I put in a future-themed undersea simulator, as well.

PACIFICA PARK: This area (my name) is featured clearly in the art but never mentioned in all the write-ups I’ve seen.  I imagine this to be an area that competes with Sea World, with an aquatic stunt theatre and a marine mammal aquatic theatre.  There is a large surf pool (bring your bathing suit) as well as parks for relaxing/picnicking.  

VENTURE REEFS: This area is similar in concept to Discovery Bay, devoted to very close encounters with all sorts of sea creatures, including separate lagoons for dolphins, manatees, and rays.  The highlight would be the cage dive with man-eating sharks.  

FLEETS OF FANTASY: This area houses the kid-friendly rides aboard a variety of vessels from different regions and time-periods.  Interestingly, in the most recent WDI  book there is an illustration of this concept that was revived for a proposed expansion of Tokyo DisneySea.

HEROES HARBOR: This area is about legends of the sea – Middle Eastern, Ancient Greek, Norse, etc.  – so it is a mesh of these architectural and boat-building styles.  Sinbad is a kid-friendly boat ride (as opened with TDS in 2001) while the Ulysses attraction is a little more frightening (PotC-like with drops).  

PIRATE LAGOON: The actual park was to have a Pirates area that was supposed to be “Tom Sawyer Island x 10.”  Now I’m a big fan of TSI, so since WDI made so bold a claim, I expanded the Pirate area to an entire land.   There is the civilized, colonial port with a Royal Navy vessel docked offshore.  Across the lagoon is the dilapidated pirate fortress holding a new attraction in the PotC universe – one using LPS-guided “boats” sitting in a few inches of water – making it more E-ticket darkride rather than an indoor flume.  The Queen Anne’s Revenge is anchored in a hidden alcove.

MYSTERIOUS ISLAND: The final land takes Nemo/Vulcania mythology and throws in some Atlantis in.


So this park, like my WestCOT drawing, is part puzzle-piecing, part conjecture, mostly just fun,wishful thinking.