Monday, March 24, 2014

Elevation and Colorboard

Tokyo DisneySea's Mediterranean Harbor has several sub-sections based on Italian geography.  Closest to American Waterfront are the Canals based on Venice.   In the center, where one enters the park, is Porto Paradiso, based on Portofinio Harbor and the Riviera.  The other sub-section is based on the hill towns of Tuscany.  For a top-quality photo tour of this area - and all areas - of DisneySea, I recommend sets by JeffFromHouston on Flickr:

Samples here and here.

Part of the genius of TDS' design and master plan is that it is a theme park with a layout in three dimensions.   I am reminded of the line from 'Contact': "An alien intelligence is going to be more advanced. That means efficiency functioning on multiple levels and in multiple dimensions."  There are a number of theme parks with great master plans, but DisneySea is the only one I know of that really takes advantage of (or did so by necessity) the vertical aspect.   Stairs lead you down to boat rides below you, pathways take you, unknowingly, up over the roofs of restaurants and ride buildings, walkthrough attractions traverse three levels, and there are always alternative staircases or ramps up or down to other passages or pathways.   I don't know who or how many deserve the credit (WDI master architects Ahmad Jafari or Wing Chao?  Anyone know?), but I stand in awe of it. 

For this piece, I imagined a unique family darkride on two levels taking up part of the area used for boat/float storage: Leonardo's Workshop (a distant cousin to Mystic Manor?).  The idea is you approach an extravagant but dilapidated Renaissance structure: part 15th-century factory, part villa, part fortress.  The architecture must meld seemlessly with the surroundings and compliment the park's iconic Fortress Explorations, but also be a weenie in itself for a major attraction.  There should be some whimsy in the building (like the mechanical tower), but also stay true to the realism of the neighboring structures.  So I designed the front facade and created the main approach elevation and colorboard:

The gist of the attraction is tried and true: One queues through the workshop rooms, seeing various machines in the process of being invented, triggering effects, maybe passing through the living quarters and painting studio.  Then there is a pre-show featuring Leonardo, followed by a boarding room (DaVinci-esque ride-vehicles) for an adventure through the secret chambers of the workshop and then out into the Florentine countryside (indoors) for testing.  The ride would include a mild thrill element, but be accessible to all.  Since the footprint is limited it would take place over two major levels (its entrance is already at the upper level).

Maybe I'll post a detailed ride layout at some point.