Monday, March 3, 2014


Readers of this site are probably familiar with Animatics (i.e., digital models featuring camera fly-throughs) as they apply to theme park design.  One was recently posted by WDI featuring the Dwarf Mine Coaster.   Some time ago, another was released that was a fly-around of the Shanghai castle.   For the scores of parks I’ve shared on this site, the only animatics are of the mind's eye.  

Then I came across the Rio Disneyland Resort Project by Cybertop77, Dr60Productions and WDSX Productions.  They imagined a castle park for Rio.  They built its constituent parts in RCT3 and then created many outstanding virtual musical tours and on-board ride videos.   This is the full, 50-minute tour of all the park’s areas and attractions:

After seeing the above, I thought it would be great fun to work backwards from this “animatic” and create a Conceptual Master Plan for the park.  So I got in touch with the creators, and they provided me with a lot of screencaps with which to plan out the park.   I quickly discovered a project of this scope in RCT3 is created in numerous sub-sections; views of which are then edited together to form a seamless movie of the whole park.  Like a movie, the concern in RCT3 is mainly what the camera/visitor will see.  As a park planner, my concern is not only what the camera sees, but also what it does not: things like show-building requirements, backstage access and sightlines, etc..  

Since each area of Rio Disneyland was modeled individually (e.g. five unique models for different parts of Frontierland), what I’ve drawn is the first and only detailed view of what the park could look like in its entirety:

If you follow the plan and watch the video, you’ll see that while my illustrative is inspired by - and attempts to include everything seen in - the virtual tours, it is not a rigorous, “brick-by-brick” recreation.  In many places, I've altered things for the sake of size requirements, aesthetics, crowd-flow, sightlines, or realism.    Rather than describe each area, many of which are influenced by DLP, I’ll let the illustrative and the videos do most of the talking.  But here are a couple of Designer Notes:

-The guys did some really outstanding On-Board videos.  One of the signature ones is Big Thunder.  I was able to follow this layout pretty closely in the Plan.  The main Frontierland Path would be over a sub-terr show-building housing several cavern segments of the ride (including the first dive out of the Loading Station):

Frontierland then transitions from the Desert Southwest to the virgin forests of Colonial Virginia for the Pochahontas sub-area.

Moving into Adventureland, Tarzan is a major indoor E-ticket.  It is reached by a jungle path leading to a queue cavern that passes under a version of Tarzan’s treehouse (non-accessible) as the ride’s weenie, then below the railroad berm (like IJA) and to the show-building outside the tracks. 

Also in Adventureland (which begins from the Hub with a Port of Entry-inspired retail & dining district) is the Indiana Jones Peril Miner coaster, one of my favorite on-ride vids:

Additional ride videos can be seen by exploring their Youtube page.

Even though the process was reversed (animatics would come after the planning and schematic phases), it’s fun to be able to see a series of imaginary ‘animatics’ for an Ideal Build-out park.  Apparently, the guys are at work on a 2nd Gate for their Rio Resort in RCT3, so stay tuned…


protojimbo said...

Wow, great idea for a project! I can't wait to get home and look it over in detail.

comics101 said...

When I saw that the video was 50 some odd minutes long, I was like, "Yeah, right, like I"m going to take the time to watch this the whole way through." But then 10 minutes went by, then 20, and so on, until I actually did finish the tour! It was so well produced and so cool to actually see things in 3 dimensions. Great job to everyone involved with the project, I really can't wait to see more of the resort.

As for the park, my first thought was that it seems a tad on the small side, not that that's a bad thing...I imagine to be similar in scale to a built-out HKDL?

Oh, Randy, by the way it's great to see some new park designs popping up here again rather than individual attractions. Not that I don't enjoy looking at the attractions, I just really love your parks. I still check the site pretty regularly Randy, and I really appreciate the hard work you put into all of your projects.

Anyway, looking forward to the next project! Keep up the great work.

SWW said...

Hey Comics,

Good to hear from you. This park's footprint is very close to a fully-built-out DLP, making it somewhat larger than a fully-built-out HKDL.

comics101 said...

Interesting. For some reason I think DLP is larger in my mind than it actually is.
Just out of curiosity, of all the MK-style parks, which is the largest?

SWW said...

There are different ways of measuring a park's size (on-show, guest-accessible square footage, physical footprint, etc.), but using the Ideal Buildout method (the park's general total area at full build-out, including some nearby, dedicated backstage areas) the sizes according to Google Acreage Calcuator, are (very roughly) as follows:

Hong Kong DL: 102 acres
Anaheim DL: 105 acres
Tokyo DL: 119 acres
Orlando MK: 145 acres
Paris DL: 150 acres

This won't necessarily match what you'll find on wikipedia or even what the Company officially states, but as noted, these are the footprints at build-out of areas you see represented on a typical Ideal Build-out site plan.

comics101 said...

Thanks for that, I appreciate it!
I'm kind of surprised Tokyo isn't larger than it is actually.

Anyway, look forward to the next project, keep 'em comin!!!

Anonymous said...

Very cool!

protojimbo said...

Man, having owned a copy of RCT3 myself, I honestly didn't think it was capable of doing what these guys did! Amazing! I was struck by the amount of water, both in the landscape of the park and it's attractions.I love the expansion of Adventureland - one of my favorite 'lands' and one that is relatively small in both the American parks.I like the asymmetrical Fantasyland and the alternative to the usual 'wings', but I wonder if there wouldn't be a bottle neck with all those attractions lined up like that... There are a lot of 'E-ticket' rides and a lot of water rides in close proximity to each other, but other than that, this is an excellent vision of a Disney Park! Great idea adapting the incredible work of the RioDisney crew!

Mike said...

Just out of curiosity...

It seems that every Disney castle park has the same basic layout maybe with a few small changes like Paris, Shanghai, and even this one for Rio.

While there is nothing wrong with that and the hub layout makes getting around a large park easier
I was wondering what a Disney castle park would be like if it had a totally original layout. Has anyone ever thought about what it could look like?

SWW said...

^ WDI has conceptualized non-hub-spoke Castle parks (remember the 2006 Annual Report castle park around a lagoon?), and I've drafted a number of them myself. I was hoping that Shanghai might have taken that route, though it will have a particularly unique layout compared to previous castle parks, which I'm excited to see.

Anonymous said...

rio disney looks amazing. but what is favorite land? mine is adventureland