Monday, January 28, 2013

Ole South USA

This is a conceptual master plan I produced for a group that is exploring the development of a theme park in central Tennessee.  Here is a run through of the park's areas along with my commentary.  

 OLE SOUTH BOULEVARD is two blocks of charming southern small town nostalgia stretching from the park entrance to the park Commons where you begin your journey to the different lands in Ole South.  The unique shops, the horse-drawn carriages, the amazing architectural details, and even the smell of fresh pastries in the air all make Ole South Boulevard an attraction in and of itself.

SWW: The resort's Magnolia logo would be featured in the paving design in front of the gates/ticket booths.  Guest services is located in a Southern church or a meeting hall on the Town Green just past the Railroad Bridge.  Horse-drawn buggies would be boarded around a gazebo on the left side of the Green.  The train has stops at New South, the Hotel, the Working Farm and Countryside.

THE COMMONS: As you are standing with your back towards the Boulevard you will be looking at Ole South Mansion and Commons. The gardens will be full of many varieties of foliage and flowers and walking paths will be abundant to enjoy this scenery. Inside the Ole South Mansion will be a restaurant with space available for special events such as weddings, reunions and corporate meetings. On the back side of the mansion is a grassy area with an amphitheater on Ole South Lake for you to spread a blanket, listen to a concert, watch a fireworks show and close down the park for the night.

SWW: The extensive paths & gardens directly adjacent to the mansion would be the most formal, and they would get wilder the further from the center (especially on the Appalachia side with a 'natural' stream running through the wooded area).  You’ll note a patio for exclusive outdoor dining overlooking the lake/fireworks.  There is a portico at the front of the Mansion so horse-drawn carriages can drop off VIPs (e.g. a wedding couple).  The Mansion would be at a slightly higher elevation with the amphitheater descending gently to the lake’s edge.  The grass lawns here would be accessible for picnics and blankets.  There is a band shell just off shore.

Take a sharp left turn at the park Commons and make your way down to COUNTRYSIDE. Countryside is themed after the farmland of the South. The main icon is a large red barn with a silo. Inside the barn is a 4-D barnyard frolic show where you will jump out of your seat as a raging bull comes charging out of the screen at you, chicken feathers fly through the air, and of course you will get a whiff of those traditional barnyard smells. Also at Countryside you’ll be able to ride a silo freefall, a roller coaster based on a stockyard, enjoy a country music show, an animal actors’ show, and then take a train to a working farm featuring a corn maze and a the petting zoo for the little ones. These are just a few of the attractions in Countryside.  There are more rides, restaurants and shopping for everyone.

SWW:  I imagined the Tin Lizzies ride as a fairly long, but gentle family ride aboard old Model Ts through various country scenes.   The woody coaster has a stockyard farm theme.   I imagined the freefall ride featuring an extensive indoor queue/pre-show which sets up a haunted barn/farm story, culminating in the drop ride portion.

Standing at the park Commons facing Ole South Mansion, you will want to take a sharp right to find APPALACHIA and the mountainous area of Ole South. Bluegrass music is abundant throughout "these here hills" and the main icon is the Clingman’s Doom, themed after the tallest mountain in Tennessee, and home to two thrilling rides.  You will not want to miss the Davy Crockett Wilderness Stunt Show. See Colonel Crockett fend off river pirates, grin down a bear and save the day with his excellent marksmanship. Speaking of black bears, you'll be able to get up close and personal with'm in Ole South's state-of-the-art black bear habitat. ATV Southern Safari is a dark ride that has you using "laser-barreled" shotguns shooting wild game and skeet accumulating points as you journey through the backwoods of Appalachia. Storytelling, a BBQ restaurant, rides for the little ones, crafts, retail shops and Irish dancing are just a few of the venues in the land of Appalachia.

SWW: This heavily-wooded area is reached by crossing a bridge from the Commons.  The first thing one comes upon is the Craftsman Village (small shingled huts and cabins) and a large BBQ restaurant.  Clingman’s Doom is the big mountain of the park and it is home to a terrain-hugging coaster that passes through the mountain (tunnels) several times.  The park's log flume shares the mountain, also passing through several caverns, but having its queue on the opposite side.  It think merging these two major attractions into one large artificial mountain would be visually exciting and allow the park to leverage costs.  Blackbear Mountain is a large-scale animal exhibit with various regional animals (cougars, bears, deer) roaming in what appears to be “the wild”.

NEW SOUTH is forward and to the right from the park Commons and it is themed after the cities of the South. The main icon looking down the walkway at New South is a silhouette of skyscrapers from southern cities. Here you will find a musical salute the troops patriotic show with a surprise guest every week. A thrilling ride themed after stock-car racing will be part of this land. City Park play area for the young ones will be a major venue in New South. Upscale dining, delis and fast food will be part of this area, as well as an art gallery for Southern Artists to showcase their work. A ride based on college football is a goal of the developers. Throughout New South are rides for smaller children along with many unique retail shops.

SWW: A triumphal arch (inspired by Atlanta’s millennial arch) marks the entrance from the Commons to this urban area, with the faux skyscrapers in the distance.  When thinking about how to represent Stockcar racing via a thrill ride, I imagined a slot-racers type system, with cars rapidly accelerating, hitting highly banked turns, and finishing in a blacked-out, strobe-lit tunnel (that passes beneath City Park).

From the Commons area this time you will go forward left to get to SOUTHERN SHORES, which is themed after Charleston and New Orleans and the coastal areas of the South. The icon of Southern Shores is a lighthouse where guests can view the park from high above. In Southern Shores, there is a Mississippi River rafting ride where river pirates will get you wet with water guns if you don’t watch out. Blues and Jazz music will be abundant throughout this land. '3D and the Sea' is a dark ride that will amaze you with the beauty and danger of our ocean as you ride in your sea-mobile along the ocean floor. On your journey to Southern Shores, stop to listen to the sounds of an African American church revival musical show. On the boardwalk of Charleston are many activities and rides including a ferris wheel, carousel, bumper cars, eateries and gift shops.

SWW: Approaching this land from the Commons, the Jubillee church is on a small hill to the left.  Visitors can choose two paths: Right leads to Atlantic Coast/Charleston side with a Morris Island-inspired lighthouse beckoning.   The left path leads to the Gulf Coast/New Orleans side, with French Quarter influences and a jazz gazebo park.   The Mississippi River Pirates raft ride, at one point, merges with the wider “Mississippi River” that slowly empties into the lake.   There are boats on the Charleston side to the Sumter Island exploration/education attraction.

The hotel might represent Antebellum southern architecture.  I thought a Riverboat could house a bar/restaurant/casino or be used for sightseeing cruises on the lake.  The lakeside promenade would eventually lead to other areas of the resort (like the Campground, 2nd hotel or water park).


Monday, January 21, 2013

Anaheim 3rd Gate - Feasibility Study

The conceptual park plans I share here are often very large and non-site-specific.  This time, however, I had fun considering what an actual 3rd Gate in Anaheim could be, given the many factors surrounding the property, such as available land and sight-line issues.  

In total footprint, both Disneyland and DCA are modestly-sized theme parks (and on the small-side by IdealBuildout standards).  Since the total land available for the 3rd Gate in Anaheim is about equal to that of a built-out DCA and smaller than Disneyland (I used only currently-owned land for the park itself), a first priority was to give as much of the plot as possible to ‘on-stage’ themed areas & rides (DCA also has minimal backstage areas compared to DL or other parks) and none of it for parking.   In the wider Master Development Plan (not yet drawn), the GardenWalk outdoor mall would be acquired (and re-dressed) as a 2nd Downtown Disney-type area and would serve as the (possibly-themed) retail approach to the 3rd Gate.  Just north of GardenWalk, an over-road plaza would connect to a huge multi-level parking structure (built over the current surface lot) with moving walkways or other connections extending to the main Resort Promenade where the DL & DCA gates are.  To compensate for parking lost to the new park (and to accommodate increased guest capacity), surface lots elsewhere on property would need to be replaced with larger garages.  The logistical challenges of access, parking, connectivity and backstage facilities are numerous and interesting and may be subject of a future, wider plan, but, for now, onto the fun stuff, the park itself:

An Achilles heal for DCA was/is the outside visual intrusions (e.g. freeway hotels), mostly seen from wide vistas throughout north & eastern Paradise Pier.  To achieve the escapism that is the goal of a Tier I theme park, I believe it is essential to minimize (and if possible, eliminate) these kinds of visual intrusions.  Once grown in, DL’s forested berms achieved this insulating affect well.  However, with the limited land available to DCA and the 3rd Gate, a wide berm is an unaffordable luxury.  Very smartly, the Cadillac Rage was built in DCA to serve as a partial berm, creating a breathtaking vista rather than one that allows visitors views of the mundane outside world.

So more important than the interchangeable themes and contents of the lands of the 3rd Gate, was the need to make it feel insular and handle the very difficult sight-line issues of having un-themed mid-rise hotels directly adjacent to it (north and west).  My solution:
(i)    Create a monumental central icon, in this case a large, tall ‘mountain’ which serves as the canvas and showbuilding to multiple attractions and is integral to all lands, always drawing the eye inwards and upwards.
(ii)    Avoid any long, straightaway views towards the outside of the park (such as looking across Paradise Bay in DCA to what is beyond the park’s border).  This is achieved through bending, undulating pathways.
(iii)    Let the attractions (such as Radiator Springs Racers did for DCA) and their showbuildings form a berm.  A number of the attractions I placed here have mountainous facades as part of their exterior theme-ing.  One area is a cityscape, where miniatures on the roofs of showbuildings could add depth to the land’s vistas, as well block outside visual intrusions.

I wanted the park’s general layout to differ from DL’s hub-spoke and DCA’s multi-loops in order to make it feel unique.  I used a single loop, flowing organically from the gate both southeast and southwest, encircling the central mountain.

I’ve heard Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm IP discussed as subject matters for Anaheim’s 3rd Gate, but with Star Wars and Indiana Jones already well-represented in DL (and Stark Expo rumored on the way) and DCA being heavily-Pixar, I came up with something original, not connected to any previously-established IP.   DISNEY'S LOST REALMS would be four lands (a park of modest size) and at least one of them needed a semi-futuristic or mechanical theme because a Monorail station (coming through DCA and returning to Tomorrowland) would be located there.   Land genres ought to be:
(i) well-suited for theme park adaptation (e.g. CloudWord would not be well-suited),
(ii) un- or lightly-represented in the current Anaheim parks,
(iii) broad enough to allow for a multitude of switch-outs or additions without damaging established themes, and
(iv) able to serve as the canvas for park-wide interactive adventures.

Rather than a multitude of smaller carnival spinners or simple dark rides, I opted for fewer but larger, longer and more elaborate attractions.  Helping to eat up a visitor's day would be two or three large scale and long theatrical special fx/stunt productions, for which seats/times would be reserved in advance (and included in park admission).  For example, there is a ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ style arena show, that would take up almost two hours of time (15 minutes for arrival/seating, 15 for warm-up and 1h15m main show). 

One approaches the park through GardenWalk, which is narrow enough and slants southeastward as to hide the park’s big reveal (Mt. Kronos) until one crosses the landscaped bridge to the entry plaza.  From the visitors perspective the Entry Plaza is split down the center, thematically, with the left being a slightly dilapidated medieval Arabian city with desert palms and the right, an alternate world, crank & gears, steampunk urban environment.  Mt. Kronos, vaster than TDS’s Prometheus and as tall as allowed by regs, is the overpowering central visual feature & icon of the park.   Kronos holds two major thrill rides, a minor walkthrough attraction and is the backdrop to the park’s Fantasmic/WoC equivalent day-ending lagoon show.  Past the gates, the plaza gently descends to this lagoon-fronting amphitheater.  On the STEAMPUNK CITY side of the lagoon, the park’s flagship restaurant sits, with upper level patio dining giving full view of the night-time spectacular.   Since there is one steampunk attraction at DL (Orbitron), in conjunction with this 3rd park, perhaps it could be set back on the central Tomorrowland podium and re-themed to whatever vision of the future that land would have by the time this park were to open (so as not to overlap).   Steampunk City would be the retro-futuristic, quasi-historical urban area of Air Ships, clockwork automotons, etc., with a family dirigible suspended darkride, an indoor, inverted launch coaster on a slightly bigger scale than Rock n Rollercoaster, and be anchored by a high-tech, multi-sensory (sets/screens/AAs) thrill ride featuring a new mythos (thinking Star Wars epic but in a spring & cog kind of setting).  These types of original attractions that populate the park, if well-crafted, could springboard into tentpole motion pictures as PotC did (and HM was supposed to).

Traveling past the giant Zodiac Dome (coaster housing), adventurers enter the dark forests of DRAGONDALE and pass under a crumbling castle gate.  This is where the Lost Realms presents its own, Middle Earth-style, sword and sorcery mythology.  Housed in Mount Kronos is a higher capacity (12 person boats) splash-down flume with AA dragons and a variety of show-scenes.  There would also be a kiddie-area on the scale of A Bug’s Land and themed to the forest sprites’ glade.   One of the aforementioned very long (hour+), reserved(free) theatrical presentations would be a new take on the Medieval Times dinner show that many of us may have experienced in various cities, this time in an open-air castle amphitheater and enjoying the budgets, special fx and design skills that TWDC/WDI can bring to the table.

The third land would be all about prehistoric Earth and ostensibly take place in a wild refuge where both dinosaurs and Ice Age mammals survived the passing of epochs.  Where there is a need for human technology (such as the coaster train or Base Camp Grill) it is done in the early 19th C. explorer-era style ('the present' should be avoided in theme parks).  The land features some real-world educational content in a heavily-fantasy-based park.  In this area there is a potential connection to a future Pixar property (don’t know much about the upcoming dinosaur film) or, as I’ve hereto avoided any pre-established IP, it could be an original family dark-ride.  With this land, the Primeval World section of the DL RR could be changed out for something fresh.

The final land would be a romanticized Middle Eastern city set around the Middle Ages (9th-14th centuries) (8th Century Moorish-Cordoba influenced, maybe) with stone walls, domes and minarets.  An equivalent to PotC would take riders on a voyage through the Tales of 1,001 Nights and the major restaurant here (Waterfalls) would have views onto portions of the ride (Blue Bayou-style).  On the central lagoon would be an Old Lighthouse and a fortres housing the Sultan’s Dhow (a ship would that would feature in the night-time spectacular).   The spires and narrow backwater marketplace streets would help block the mid-rise hotel outside the park and a D-ticket indoor/outdoor coaster with desert rockwork would also help to insulate this section of the park.   There could be a place for an Aladdin suspended dark ride in the Agrabah-like streets.

So there it is.  A modest park compared to the ones I've recently posted, but, again, the purpose here was more to illustrate how a full-day/tier I park might fit on the small, unusually-shaped and off-site remaining parcel.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Castle Sketch

I was modeling towers in various styles for an upcoming project and, for fun, assembled a few for a quick conceptual elevation.  The disparate architectural influences (SB Castle, Windsor Castle, Minas Tirith, etc.,) make for an unusual amalgam.  Started to paint/texture it, then decided to move on, but thought I'd share it here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I created this Illustrative Plan as a sister park for the Yesterland park (which was comprised of extinct attractions) that I shared a few months ago.   This time the idea is to create a theme park solely out of never-built WDI concepts, resulting in a unique version of the DL-MK template.  I tried to keep the contents limited to works that had some sort of official documentation, via released concept art and/or direct quotes from imagineers.  Even with this criterion, there was a huge roster to choose from (although limited information about many), and I employed a lot of personal interpretation & embellishment.


This land is inspired by the never-built areas for Anaheim & Paris: marked by art deco architecture, jazz music, a speakeasy, Broadway, etc.  I imagine the land being a bit taller elevation-wise than a typical MS:USA in order to create the street-canyon feeling of 1920s New York and Chicago.  Because of this, numerous shops & restaurants could have 2nd Floor access.  I brought an E-ticket attraction – the cancelled Crimestoppers shooter EMV – to the front of the park.  The land is traversed by an El Train which has stops in several other lands.


This area, the smallest of the park’s lands, is a representation of Anaheim’s never built Hollywoodland, although the contents are mostly cancelled DHS attractions.  The exteriors are from a similar era as BiG City (pre-war), but transition to historic Los Angeles architecture.


The urban transition on the western side of Big City crosses the Atlantic to Late Victorian London.  London has the Poppins darkride originally planned for the MK, a public house (planned for DL’s Holidayland) and a Charles Dickens darkride (conceived for EPCOT).  There is a large, manicured Gardens (Tivoli?) area, edged on one side by a European-themed in-park deluxe hotel (as imagined for WestCOT).  The western gardens give way to a Japanese section, where the Imperial Palace of Edo houses the cancelled bullet train simulator planned for EPCOT.  Japan & Europe transition to South America where a Caracas-themed area holds the Venezuelan tram ride (Tepuis) conceived for EPCOT.  The Approach to this land from the Hub would pass under a recreation of the Brandenburg Gate and into a pre-war Berlin subsection, home to the never-built Rhine River Cruise.


This land is dominated by a monumental, riveted, man-made volcano-like structure built atop a ‘natural’ rocky caldera.  Approaching this land from the hub, Discovery Mountain would loom in the distance with a jetpack Orbitron (TL 98) and dirigible skyway ride (Paris) occupying the foreground.  The dirigibles, lagoon boats and El Train would pass through the Mountain itself before re-emerging at a different point. 
The Discovery Mountain I drafted here was inspired by the Paris artwork, but on a significantly larger scale.  There are three major access points onto the Main Level and one to the Upper Concourse (a second smaller access point leads from the Dirigible dock directly into the mountain's Upper Concourse).  The El Train station is on the Concourse level as well. There is also a partial level below the Main, where the Nautilus is docked and patrons of Nemo’s Grand Salon may dine on a water-level patio.  I imagined the central ‘Terravator Drill’ to be a mild B- or C-ticket (just a way to get a unique view of the interior of the Mountain), rather than a thrilling Freefall ride.  Passing out of the Mountain's southern portal, visitors would come upon a northern forest and two attractions that were part of Anaheim’s Discovery Bay project.


A number of really great-looking, but never-built, castles were recently featured at the DL Gallery.  This one might be based on a John Horny (I’m a great admirer of his work) proposal for HKDL (or elsewhere).   In the castle's dungeon is a Living Character Initiative Dragon’s Lair (like Paris, but the Dragon interacts with passerbys), a project conceived for Anaheim.  Two of the obligatory darkrides (Sword in the Stone, Sleeping Beauty) are some of the few attractions in this exercise that I had to base solely on words rather than released artwork.  These two were designed for the MK before its 1971opening, but then dropped for new versions of the Anaheim darkrides.   

There is available artwork for the remaining FL attractions (and a model for the central Pixie Hollow-version of Junkyard Jamboree).  The two biggest rides in the land anchor opposite sides: Caer Dalben marks the exterior for the Black Cauldron potc-like boat adventure, and a frozen, icicle-spired edifice houses Davis’ Enchanted Snow Palace.  The Mermaid ride would be the overhead rail version planned for Paris in the early 90s.


 Among the most famous of never-built projects, this area is a natural adjunct to Fantasyland and fits nicely into this park, despite being designed for Animal Kingdom.  I kept the land familiar (central Unicorn Maze, eastern Fantasia Gardens, western Loch Ness Landing), but embellished Dragon Tower quite a bit.  Being a marquee ride for a park full of E-tickets, I gave the Dragon (or bats) a mountain range to fly about (as to minimize the need for lots of unsightly track superstructure while allowing for a highly-thrilling ride). 


Entered from the Hub, visitors would pass through a frontier fort as was planned for HKDL before the press-release version of that park was canned.  While this is a somewhat familiar experience, the view on the other side would not be: in the distance Geyser Mountain (crowned by a large mining derrick carrying unfortunate passengers) would periodically spew water into the sky from its pinnacle.  The area immediately behind the entrance fort is a western town square, with a raised speaking/hanging platform or stage (mock hangings for the Halloween nights?) in the dusty center.  The Lewis & Clark raft ride (Virginia America project) would pass herds of bison (AA), elk, grizzly bears, etc.   The redrock buttes of Utah & Arizona would form the imposing fa├žade of the comical Western River Expedition.  Southwest Indians would inhabit a Mesa Verde, Pueblo style hill-town (MK). 


The rockwork range of Frontierland transitions into a prehistoric Badlands rollercoaster (based on two never-built Dino coasters: (i) press-release HKDL’s, which would have had ‘living’ dinosaurs (AAs); and (ii) Animal Kingdom’s, based on a 20th C. dig site).   A large subsection of Adventureland is a Pirate-era town (HKDL proposal), built around a massive PotC flume ride, Skull Mountain.  In this area are the conceptualized Pirate shooting arcade from Paris and the Rogues Gallery walkthrough from Anaheim (that evolved into the original PotC).  The third sub-area of Adventureland features a jungle explorer theme.  The centerpiece attraction is a mix of Jungle Cruise and Indiana Jones Adventure, a fast-paced indoor-outdoor jeep ride planned for Paris, with a thrilling indoor “Lost Temple” sequence.    Opposite the Jungle Jeeps queue is an ancient tree(house) which marks the watering-hole animal-blind attraction planned for EPCOT’s never built African pavilion.