Thursday, February 14, 2013

Universal Islands of Adventure

I had fun re-visiting an old IoA Build-Out and creating an illustrative version.    This hypothetical of the park keeps and expands the original Lost Continent (its Merlinwood section).   Merlinwood featured two treasures of theme park design history that went extinct with the coming of Potter: the Enchanted Oak Tavern and the Dueling Dragons queue. 

What has always struck me about the superlative queue to DD was that it ran alongside (and led to) a massive unthemed, naked steel coaster (same for its current Potter incarnation).  In certain situations, a naked steel coaster can work in a Tier I park.  I think Hulk works across the lagoon because of the highly-stylized nature of the Comic book environment that is home to it.  And, of course, this is a theme park and there must be elasticity to the rules and expectations of theme.  

However, when the environment strives to create a realistic, albeit fantasy, world, something that makes no effort to inhabit that world becomes a jarring, sour note.  When it is something as massive as DD, it spoils the transporting effect that so much of the other elements work to achieve.   (Small naked coasters like Flying Unicorn, which can be absorbed by trees and landscape are easier to pass off).   So in this plan, I showed how several themed elements could combine to help Dueling Dragons become part of the Merlinwood landscape and enhance the sense of story and place in Lost Continent.  

The wooded berm along the property border gives and impression of distant forests.  Several rockwork embankments help support the track and perpetuate the fantasty forest environment.  The main lift hill is hidden by a rocky edifice (mountain).  Ruins and towers are scattered across the landscape.  To show how the many support pylons could potentially be themed I created this artwork:
In this illustration, the pylons could be disguised as forest timbers crudely fastened with rusting ironwork and spikes (built by orcs enslaved by the dragons?).  Torches could adorn them for a nice night-time effect. The tube-support track would be painted sky camouflage to blend in (rather than bright red/blue).  Rounding out Merlinwood would be an extensive family dark ride (where Forbidden Journey is today), with an emphasis on sets, physical effects and animatronics over screens.

The other big addition to the park is Mt. Crumpit – How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which I imagined as a mildly-thrilling, independently-powered (testrack) E+ dark ride, but with coaster-like curves, ascents and drops.  The sleigh ride-vehicles would go through numerous elaborate show scenes. The double-peaked twisting mountain (one tall, one shorter) would rise behind the Who Village queue area.    Two other major family attractions (super-hero dark ride and Isla Sorna omni-simulator) are also added to the park. 



protojimbo said...

The map looks great! You've added a lot not just to the color, but to the sense of dimension too. I really agree w/ you about naked coasters - it seems weird to have built an elaborate ride only to set it up in a blank lot.

megatron_85 said...

are there any old hypothetical park illustrative plans you put up next?

Jeff Lynch said...

I am a lover of all of your drawings. They are so artistic and elegant.

I am very upset about Universal choosing to be cheap in some ways with Harry Potter...I think it's horrible that they didn't theme the Dueling Dragons coaster better when they built Potterland. It's inexcusable that they left all that steel just exposed and standing there. It's so ugly!

Maybe when the expansion opens they will be inclined to shut down Dueling Dragons for a refurbishment to finally theme that coaster properly.

Why do some parts of Potter so lavish and gorgeous but go so cheap with the theming of the Dragons?

I love that drawing you did in the past that showed the coaster turned into a mountain/forest/ruins area and all the exposed steel went away.

Do you think it would be possible for you to print out your drawings and FedEx them to the person in charge of Universal? I bet if that person saw your idea he would smack his head and say "We should have thought of this! HIre this man so he can make this happen!".

Keep up the great work we love your drawings!

Sww said...

Megaton, will be a surprise

Jeff, thanks for the note. I don't think it was a matter of no one within universal ever conceptualizing fully theming the track, but a matter of budgets and allocation of limited funds. The kind of heavy duty theming for the coaster that I've illustrated would be massively expensive... I think it would be worth it, but im not the underwriter. The fun of idealbuildout is that budget takes a backseat to the greater vision.