Wednesday, February 22, 2012


For the next entry in my Wishful-Thinking-Birds-Eye-Illustration series (previous entry Tokyo Fantasyland viewable below), I decided to tackle Animal Kingdom’s Dinoland.  This is an area with great potential but in need of some serious work (IMO) to fulfill it.  Here is my illustration of a Dinoland Reborn:

The most visible change is the replacement of DinoRama with an area dedicated to the Pleistocene and featuring a glacial lake and giant jagged rock formations.  The major experience here is Mammoth Falls.  Designed to both educate & thrill (and experience-driven rather than plot-driven), this E-ticket flume extends the “Extinct Animals” section of DAK beyond dinosaurs.  Guests travel back to a meticulously recreated North America of 10,000 years ago: an age when primitive man co-existed with giant mammals.   

The experience begins in the queue, a soggy pine & birch forest, at the close of the Ice Age.  Entering a cavern, adventurers hear the sounds of giant beasts and come upon a large room covered in cave paintings (Lascaux).  The paintings become animated as a Shaman-like voice describes the natural world of this era.

Boarding giant tree snags (at least 4-riders wide, with four or five rows), guests then experience scene after scene of pre-historic wonders… escalating in scale, detail and terror, until the climactic 50-foot plunge.   The ride portion starts with peaceful mastodons and a family of American Lions, then passes a Dire Wolf attack on a Giant Elk, a Mammoth herd, giant ground sloths, etc.  As the boats rise to the final drop, guests pass the new apex predator – man – as a primitive hunting party plans an attack on a weary mammoth.  The final scene reflects the extinction of the megafauna and their replacement with mid-sized mammals we know today (deer, black bear, etc.).

The Triceratop Spin is re-themed to compliment Mammoth Falls: an aerial spinner based on the giant extinct birds (like the predecessor to the California condor).  Its queue is within the rocky cave-nest of such a bird.

The final major change is to Dinosaur.  Any connections to the Dinosaur film are discarded, including the ride name (note the removal of Aladar and return of the original Styracosaurus statue to the plaza).  

I feel Period is always easier to sell and maintain in themed design than Present (and often more compelling), so this attraction (and the land as a whole) is set in mid-20th century America (Golden Age of Palentology?).

Gone is the mundane, postmodern, low-rise Dino Institute (and signage) that exists now.  It is replaced with a gothic, multi-turreted, brick museum building intended to evoke a stuffy Smithsonian or AMNH.  

Inside are dusty, old-fashioned dinosaur exhibits, and the pre-show would take place in the fossil preparation laboratory.  Secret book-case doors (because who doesn’t love those) would then open leading to the Time Travel sub-level, full of 1950’s style scientific equipment and re-designed rovers for a re-designed adventure (following the same path).



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tokyo Fantasyland

For all of the superlatives Tokyo Disneyland rightly deserves, it has maybe the least aesthetically-pleasing Fantasyland (and Tomorrowland) of all the parks.  While some parts of TDL’s Fantasyland are very nicely-designed (specifically, the area right behind the castle, the two newer areas: Hunny Hunt and Queen of Hearts/Teacups), a significant portion of the land suffers from the plastic “tournament tent” façade dressings and wide open, oddly-flat areas with few trees or visual breaks.   There is also the presence of the Hudson Valley version of Haunted Mansion, which is really-nicely themed, but ill-placed).

 If you are not familiar with Tokyo’s Fantasyland, here it is:

Images from Jack Spence Article:

 So I drew a birds-eye illustration of what I thought a reasonable re-vamp of Fantasyland could look like:

Gone are all the fiberglass tournament facades, replaced by a diverse fairytale village (the one tall tower is meant to recall Rapunzel, though not directly based on “Tangled”).    

I narrowed the pathways by expanding the landscape areas, adding lots of trees, particularly around the Carousel and Dumbo (which are desert-like in their current state), making the land feel a more forested & cozy.   Dumbo receives an updated centerpiece & queue cover and is now surrounded by a lush sunken stream, giving the land some much-needed topography (something similar is done in Paris). 

The most expensive part of this proposal would be to change not only the façade of Haunted Mansion so it becomes a medieval European manor (befitting Fantasyland), but also the ride itself (in the same way Phantom Manor is a Western take on the HM).

A best-in-class park like TDL ought to have all of its environments excellently-rendered, and Fantasyland - in its entirety - is not at that level.   I had hoped that when Philharmagic was being installed the opportunity would be used to continue moving the land's design in such a direction.  

Maybe one day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


This week's park is based on an IdealBuildout contest entry by Jon.  While Jon's park map was a rough sketch, there was very high-concept idea behind it.  I thought it was worth drawing a more detailed conceptual plan for his park and creating some original concept art for it.

First Jon's original drawing:

The idea/story behind this park is pretty cool:  The park began as a  typical, happy Disneyland with all the requisite lands.  But the Disney villains (live action and animated), tired of being on the losing side, gathered their forces, rose up and made war on the place.  Eventually, after the park had been destroyed by great battles, Mickey (leader of the forces of good) and Maleficent (leader of the dark forces) made a truce.  To keep the enemies apart, the center of the park was flooded and a great dividing wall was created down the middle, with Villains rebuilding in the West and the Heroes rebuilding in the East.

Neutral Lands: Guest enters the park over the ruins of Main Street.

The Lands of Good
Adventureland: Where Mickey recruited the Navi (of Avatar) to re-locate (Crazy mixing of characters/moods... but I kind of like it).
Land of Narnia: With sites such as Caer Paravel, Mr. Tumnus' house & Aslan's How housing a major E-ticket.
Olympic Outpost: Based on the popular Percy Jackson & Olympians books, with Camp Half-blood and a mountainous Olympia attraction.
Fantasyland: Traditional Disney with a newly-rebuilt Enchanted Castle
Moon Colony: Based on the Treasure Planet universe.

The Lands of Evil 
Saloon City: Frontierland on the coast (Texas?), taken over by outlaws and featuring a new version of PotC featuring Western river pirates of the late 1800s early 1900s and a mountain based on black gold.
The Underworld: Featuring a major flume and the park's typical kiddie spinners all within a sunken crater (below grade).
Dominion of Darkness: An evil version of Fantasyland, with a nod to both animated villains (Black Cauldron) and live action ones (Prince of Persia).  Maleficent's landmark castle is here.
Tomorrowland Grid: Clu escaped from The Grid and has taken over Tomorrowland. 

This is how I imagined the park:

And what follows is some original artwork/modeling I created for a few of the features of the park.

--Massing model of the dueling castles (and ancient dividing wall):

--A quick paint test on the good castle:

--Concept elevation of the ruined Main Street & Dividing Wall:

--An elevation of the Cair Paravel fine dining restaurant (and walkthrough attraction) overlooking the central lake:

--An elevation sampling of some of the Saloon City possible building treatments:

--A concept elevation of the Dominion of Darkness building treatments:

--And, finally, a piece indicating Clu's takeover of Tomorrowland:

Upon entering the park guests choose good or evil sides to explore first.   At the end of the day, they again choose sides in the lake-front viewing area as a major battle (fountains, floats, lasers, fireworks) begins:  For Maleficent, river pirates take to their ships, and Kraken-like monsters rise from the deep, while the forces of good board the Dawn Treader and RLS Legacy (ship from Treasure Planet) for a Fantasmic-on-Steroids type event.


While I tend to put an emphasis on original, non-branded attractions/lands in the parks I draw, I think this concept is very fun (Disney execs would certainly like the marketability & synergy).   It reminds me of the concept for the upcoming Magic Kingdom movie (e.g., with the PotC Auctioneer fighting Goofy).  

Thoughts on this park?  Any similar high-concept parks cross your mind?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kings Empire

This week’s site plan – “Kings Empire” (not sure if that is intended to be possessive or not) - is my interpretation of Brian K.’s entry in the IdealBuildout contest. 
Brian imagined a park that combined elements based on some of those found at Disney, Universal, Paramount Kings Island, Busch Gardens, Sea World & Port Aventura (did I miss any!) into one thrill-oriented mega-park. 

Brian describes the park (italics = Brian's descriptions):

From collapsed tombs to fallen civilizations, the park is divided into eight themed continents: Atlantis, Indius, The Northern Lands (Arctica), The Mayan Lands (City of Gold), Thebes, Africus, Europa, and Isla Volcanica.  Kings Empire is literally a map of the world with the continent of Atlantis having risen from the Atlantic Ocean to form the park’s main thoroughfare.  The continents represented celebrate the greatest myths and legends of their cultures over time.

I was intrigued by the design challenge of drawing a theme park to fit a rough layout of the Atlantic continents.  This is what I came up with:

This is a very big park, with a larger footprint than EPCOT Center.  Its centerpiece is a ~200ft tall volcano with greater girth & height than TDS’s 168ft Mt Prometheus.  The volcano needs to be this big  because four attractions (three of which are E or D tickets) are embedded in its slopes and another is buried in its inner chamber.

One can’t really tell from a site plan (one day I’ll be able to draw an isometric), but as I drew this, I thought that the park’s landscapes & architecture ought to reflect the relative location on the park “map.”   For example, there is a smallish building (quick service food/restrooms/retail) where Scotland is located, and that building would be themed to the ruins of a Scottish Laird’s tower.  Another example is that Bald Cypress swamps would take up the “Gulf Coast” part of North America.  This kind of thing would follow throughout the park.

Another thought I had was that there should be elements throughout the park’s lands and attractions that connect them to a larger backstory involving the central continent of Atlantis (e.g., Atlantis may have had contact with extra-terrestrials, which in turned influenced ancient civilizations/gods from the Maya to Egyptians to Sioux).   It was along these lines that I added a “Prometheus” (placeholder name) ride to Arctica which could be an E-ticket dark ride/flume/simulator about modern scientists’ quest to discover mankind’s origins below the Arctic ice and finding some incredible or terrifying secret (linked to Atlantis?). 

Atlantis is the central continent of  Kings Empire, offering an array of shopping, dining, and out-of-this-world attractions. Guests enter Atlantis as a collapsing and decrepit city, with cracked buildings and water leaking from each roof. But, progressing further towards the northern end of the island, the lost continent seems to be reborn. When guests finally reach the tremendous palace at the farthest end of the Island, they’re greeted by a thriving, shining city with beautiful sand-colored turrets and sea-blue domes amid the sound of waterfalls pouring into the lagoons below.

Escape from the Lost City – At the mercy of less-than-seaworthy fishing ships, you must escape from the crumbling city before its watery fate is relived aboard this water coaster.
King’s Lighthouse – Don’t let the crumbling bricks frighten you away, this lighthouse has survived for centuries.
Royal Fountains – Bursting springs of illuminated water, dancing to a grand, adventurous score… At night, water, flames, light, and music come alive in the nighttime extravaganza, Luminaria.
Dome of the Fish & Hall of Sharks –  An all-encompassing aquarium room and a connected “moving walkway.”

Some quick modeling I did for the Lighthouse & centerpiece volcano/palace watercoaster:

For entering guests, the Volcano (along with the palace and lighthouse) makes for an unforgettable view.  Volcanica also participates in the nighttime show ‘Luminaria’ in the Atlantis Lagoon, with waterfalls of “lava,” billowing steam, and rumbling noises being timed into the show.  Internal pathways within Volcanica allows access to the northern half of the park.

Lava Wheel – During Volcanica’s eruption, the ancients sought to harness the power of the mountain by building a gigantic lava wheel, constantly turned by the flowing magma and able to power the continent’s advanced technologies.
Volcano – Accelerator coaster with mid course brakes built around a short dark ride scene a la DisneySea’s lava monster.
The Core – Prepare to experience the unstoppable force of an erupting volcano firsthand on this HUSS Frisbee built in a rocky chamber within the volcano.

Travel deep in the mysterious deserts of Egypt and conquer the sands! Whether you prefer traversing the town markets, spending time at the splash-filled Oasis Springs, or tempting the fates in the grand pyramid on Revenge of the Mummy, there’s something for everyone in this mysterious world. 

My model study of the Revenge of the Mummy façade:

Treasure Hunters – Aboard these 1925 Model T Fords you may come face-to-face with crocodiles, scarab beetles, and maybe even a hippopotamus or two!
The Revenge of the Mummy – Deep in the Great Pyramid, an unspeakable evil has arisen. On this high speed, forwards / backwards roller coaster, you’ll find out first-hand that the curse is real...
Oasis Springs – Tucked away in the corner of Thebes, this watery playground is great for kids of all ages to beat the heat and escape from the stresses of ancient curses. Amid the surprising watery antics of spitting camels and dripping palm trees, parents can also find a shaded canopy from which they can recharge while little ones refresh.
Kings & Thieves Waterway – This complimentary and convenient water taxi provides a leisurely, scenic way to pass between Kings Empire and neighboring Thieves Dominion theme park.

The sounds of the animals who call this continent home resound from all corners of the dark foliage.  One thing is clear: in this land of dead-ends and crumbling temples, adventure awaits.
SW: Since sub-Saharan Africa is not well known for its ancient structures (the kind of places that draw Indiana Jones or Lara Croft), there would be a fun opportunity to invent/explore a new style (maybe based on Great Zimbabwe) for the Temple of the Dancing Light or other ancient ruins in this land. 

Adventure Express – Blasting out of the jungles of Africus, Adventure Express skims along the surface of the water, narrowly avoiding sharp rocks, and twisting through the darkness of caverns at incredible speed!.  An Intamin Wing Rider Accelerator, like Furios Baco, does little elevation change throughout the course, instead focusing on turns, speed, and one single, prolonged inversion.
 Jungle Flyers – Soar above the jungle canopy aboard ancient sailing ships, zooming along the horizon and on to adventure. This torch-covered ancient device lets the whole family join in on the adventure.
Theater of the Beasts – At the very southern end Africus in a decrepit looking stone chamber, torch-lit pathways lead into an ancient atrium for viewing the delicate night sky. And as you might expect, it’s within this surreal place that nature comes alive!
Tomb Raider: The Ride – Fifty years ago, a group of young explorers was forever lost within the Temple of the Dancing Light.   Supposedly, in their quest for the Triangle of Light, they awakened the ancient goddess sworn to protect it. Now, trapped inside the tomb, your only means of escape is the excavation equipment left from decades before, still perfectly maintained as if untouched by time.  A Giant Top Spin, based on the original at Paramount’s Kings Island (now closed) featuring theater-like ride cycle with icicle interaction, hangtime over lava pits, and interaction with 80-foot goddess carving on forward wall.
Indiana Jones Adventure: Same ride with two queues – each in different parks.

Cultures collide on the continent of Europa! (Featuring three distinct sub-lands). Twisted vines and tangled roots have ensnared the Germanic forests, and darkness seems to lurk around every corner of The Woods. However, the malevolence of the plants cannot penetrate the renaissance-style Garden of Inventions, where the works of Da Vinci come to life.   And, in The Kingdom, fantastic creatures bow to the powers of the kings and sorcerers of old.

The Flying Machine – On this family-friendly machine in DaVinci’s manicured estate, hold on tight, as the machine raises up and spins, providing riders a worry-free gliding tour of the Gardens.
Da Vinci’s Cradle – Strapped into a large, forty-person gondola, you’ll swing back and forth, gaining speed and momentum before eventually traveling in a complete circle!
Journey to Pompeii – Long ago, the city of Pompeii was a peaceful, seaside village nestled into the mountain of Volcanica.  All that is about to change.  
The Curse of DarKastle – Do you dare to enter this twisted kingdom and brave one of the world’s most advanced dark rides?  [The “vines” of the woods crawling across the façade, some animatronic are seen slightly writhing at the tips from time to time].
Festhaus – Inside this German festival hall, the warm, glowing hearth is always open to weary travelers! Though the vines of The Woods have ensnared the building’s structure, they cannot penetrate enough to dampen the happy spirits that sing and dance within!
Tower of Terror – In the 15th century, a greedy and opulent baron built a tremendous manor house atop the highest hills of Europa. Generations upon generations of his descendants traveled the world, stealing priceless relics from foreign lands and stockpiling them within the home’s walls. All the while, the manor was built taller and grander, borrowing architecture from all corners of the globe. In 1935, the earl’s family disappeared. Portraits of his descendants disappeared. And the vault was sealed shut. Do you dare ascend into the hallways of the once-grand manor to discover the secrets of the cursed Tower?  
Quest for the Unicorn – Tucked into the rolling hills and valleys of the quaint Europa countryside, places guests into a one-of-a-kind outdoor interactive hedge maze adventure!

SW:   Since the labyrinth is located over Scandanavia, I thought it makes sense to give it Norse mythology theme-ing.
WAR – SW: Brian’s War coaster was based on Olympic(Ancient Greek) mythology.  However, since I was working with limited space in Southern Europe, I moved it away from the Mediterranean and towards the Northlands and gave it a sword & sorcery overlay.  WAR’s queue takes riders through a castle scarred by warfare.  My thought for the storyline is that a bellicose king has funded an ingenious invention to transport troops en masse to the enemy kingdom to do battle.  Riders are conscripted as men-at-arms and sent off to war on a wooden coaster themed in a medieval fantasy style.  Along the lengthy route, mostly surrounded by forest, there would be encounters with AA bandits, dragons, orcs, enemy troops, as well plunges through dark caverns and around a wizard’s lake-encircled tower.  The wooden coaster, which I based on PKI’s The Beast, is over a mile long and travels through acres of dense, hilly forestland. 

From the European-colonized Northeast to the swampy and enchanted bayous of the South, the cultures of America are eternally alive in here.  Entering from Altantis, guests pass through a colonial area resembling The Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square, then reach a fork in the road where they can travel to either the Old West, or to the swamps of the dark and mysterious Louisiana Bayou.
Phantom Manor – Inside this colonial manor house lies a frightening mystery with traditional, timeless gags galore.
DUEL – In the bluffs and hoodoos of the Old West, the Thunder Falcon and Lightning Hawk’s eternal clash is very much alive, and you’re going along for the ride.  Dueling Dragons meets Big Thunder.
Voodoo coaster – In the deep cellar of this plantation house, the powers of voodoo have conjured the darkest and foulest of souls from the Other Side. Trains slalom through the outdoor swamp portion of the ride.

My study of the Colonial Square area...

Diverting from the historic mythology of the rest of the park, in the far Northlands, among billowing snow drifts and icy temperatures, there exists a super-secret government scientific & aerospace facility.

Operation: NorthFlight – Board this flying coaster and you’ll know what it feels like to soar around ice caverns, zoom face-first towards the snow, and dive to a spectacular splashdown in the Hudson Bay of Indius.
Drop Zone: Ice Tower – freefall drop ride.
Camp Cooper – Here in the frozen Arctic, that wily raccoon Sly Cooper and his misfit band of thieves has set up shop in a long-abandoned summer camp deep in the tundra (whose bright idea was that, anyway?). Home to a dozen family-friendly rides and attractions, you can experience the life of Sly, Bentley (the brainy turtle) and Murray (the pink hippo – brawn of the group) like never before as kids swing, slide, spin, and slip around on the icy attractions within!

Glistening gold in the light of day and illuminated by flickering torches by night, the city of El Dorado exudes the mystery and intrigue of the ancient Meso-American world. 

Some of my modeling of the Mayan temple architecture:

The Golden Altar – Set next to the entrance to the Mayan Lands stands this ancient mechanical contraption. The gold-tinted double-decker carousel is partially enclosed in a stone temple façade with revered deities and stylized South American animals providing chariots for willing riders.
The Golden Rapids – You’ll pass into caverns, beneath waterfalls, and down steep slopes amid the ruins of the Seven Cities of Gold.
Tortugas – Hop aboard the shells of these giant tortoises for a whimsical ride over the blue waters of Baja and the Pacific!  The same ride technology that powers DisneySea’s Aquatopia – boats travel across a cushion of water, avoiding obstacles and spinning around illuminated whirlpools and rockwork. 
FACE/OFF – The Tribes are at war, and the race is on! Vekoma Inverted Boomerang.


Alright.  Thanks Brian for sharing a very cool idea for a park and I hope you enjoy my interpretation.   I will try to feature another contest entry later this month.