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…