Sunday, April 27, 2014

Adventurers Club

When the rendering of “The Hangar” – a facility at the under-construction Disney Springs - was posted on the construction walls a little while ago, I was reminded of the glow that master WDI artist Bryan Jowers gave to many of his paintings, which were often set in exotic times and places.  This got me thinking: what if a retail/dining/entertainment center like The Landing at Disney Springs had a distinctive theme, that of pulp adventure.   One of the buildings on the Springs model caught my attention when I first saw it:

 The four very tall chimneys give the building a distinctive Victorian look and my mind immediately went to what was once adjacent to this site: The Adventurers Club – the crown jewel of Pleasure Island and one of the coolest entertainment venues ever built at WDW (or anywhere else), filled with incredible theme-ing, details, special effects and populated by an eccentric cast of characters.   For some good information on this lost gem, check out articles on themerica and allears

This Four-Chimney Building looked to me like a good placeholder for a new Adventurers Club Headquarters, so I set about creating the piece of media below.  I saved myself a lot of time by painting over the official Mystic Manor portrait (I think it was by Chris Turner) to show a view of what I imagined as the dilapidated Clubhouse.  Then I painted in one of the Club Members (I believe it was ichthyologist Otis Wren who wore the white suit and red fez) surveying the Club’s new acquisition, along with a telegram.  

This has been my contribution to the cause of resurrecting the Adventurers Club.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

2nd Gate - Paris

With its Ratatouille sub-area nearing completion, I decided to take another look at WDSP.   Awhile back I did a radical revision/expansion plan of this park, changing its overall theme to ‘Lost Portal’.  This time, I decided to incorporate more of what is currently standing and keep it based on The Movies, specifically five distinct film-making entities and a sixth area showcasing Hollywood’s Golden Age of the 1940s.   I hesitate to title this version “Walt Disney Studios” because only a few pieces represent the behind-the-scenes (studio) film-making process (Entry Plaza, part of the Pixar area) and very little represents Walt Disney Productions.  While the neighboring castle park has a lot to do with the foundation of the Company – DLP being a new vision of Walt’s original park and including attractions based on many of his films – this 2nd Gate is populated by outside entities the Company has since acquired or become associated with: Pixar, Lucasfilm, Studio Ghibli.  

This ‘build-out’ master plan (which actually includes a few sizable expansion pads) increases the on-stage areas of the current theme park by several times, ending up with an overall footprint slightly larger than its neighbor, DLP.   I realize that with such a huge increase in capacity the Studio One entrance/bottleneck would likely need to be addressed (demolished), but for this exercise, it’s nice to be able to reference some standing physical aspects of the park.

Since this is the sister park of Orlando’s DHS, I was inspired by the giant aerial hidden Mickey of the original D-MGM Studios (here the Mouse is lording over all its corporate subsidiaries) in shaping the central lagoon used for daytime fountain shows (Bellagio) and an end-of-day spectacular.

OLD HOLLYWOOD: The entrance to the park is unchanged, but once visitors exit Studio One they step into a highly-detailed, romanticized recreation of 1940s LA.   The Red Car trolley runs up and down Hollywood and Sunset Blvds.   The facades in front of Tower of Terror are expanded into functioning buildings or shops.  CineMagique receives an architectural shell (and interior) of a classic Movie Palace.  Nearby a competing venue houses a new take on the Great Movie Ride: an AA- and SFX-laden EPCOT-style omnimover with a canned spiel (select language in each ride vehicle) telling the story of film, with scenes from pivotal classic movies, not just by WDP.  I have my ideas of what greats should be included, but if anyone wants to list 10-15 movies/scenes in chronological order they think should qualify, feel free to do so in the comments section (don’t worry about acquiring the rights from rivals!). 

MARVEL SUPERHERO CITY:  Urban LA of the 40s transitions into a more contemporary but still densely-built cityscape.  The two existing attractions in this area are extensively re-skinned and re-themed.  Rock n’ Rollercoaster becomes Iron Man themed and the Armageddon FX walkthrough is themed to the Incredible Hulk (containment chamber fails).  Spiderman gets a new original family ride and there is a Dock Ock spinner.  The Red Line has a stop in the urban core.   Moving away from the city and into the greener countryside, there is a playzone (Redwood Creek) based on Captain America.  Finally, a small town gives way to the landmark Xavier School for the Gifted where a major thrill ride based on X-men awaits.

L’UNIVERS DE TIM BURTON:  This area brings the worlds of Tim Burton (via several different studios) to life in his very unique, twisted style.   There are several subsections, the linking factor being their similar design DNA (just as Pixar, Marvel, Ghibli each have a similar visual aesthetic style despite different times, places and rules of the individual films – that is how these type of “creator-based” lands can work).  Haunted Hill and Halloweentown would be the ultimate place to celebrate Halloween in the parks, with attractions, retail and dining based on ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’, ‘Beetlejuice’, ‘Frankenweenie’, and ‘Corpse Bride’.   To confess, when drawing this I imagined the latter was the pink mansion from ‘Coraline’ but just learned Burton was not involved in the film.   Chris Merritt’s concept for a NBC ride has been floating around on the web for years and could easily find a home here.   There could be a Sweeney Todd barber shop in the central village area. 

The second sub-area is based on Burton’s adaptations of Roald Dahl’s books, with Wonka’s Chocolate Factory being a pretty ideal set-up for a theme-park attraction (Chocolate River indoor flume).  The Giant Peach is an exploratory attraction.   The final Burton movie represented is ‘PeeWee’s Big Adventure’, where his trademark bicycle takes to the water in an Aquatopia-style ride. 

LUSCASFILM (STAR WARS) GALAXY:  Part of the conundrum of developing a StarWarsLand is that, while a lot of Star Wars takes place on planets’ surfaces, the over-arching backdrop to the saga is Outer Space.  To communicate this in this park – and to create shelter from the Parisian weather – I decided that the central part of the land would be a massive, domed ‘space port.’   At the 12 o’clock position, beyond the lagoon, it also serves as the park’s central landmark/weenie.    The Starport divides the planetary sections of the greater StarWarsland: one heavily-forested and occupied by the Empire (reminiscent of Endor); the other based on the dry, barren desert of Mos Eisley, Tatooine.    Through four access gateways, visitors would find themselves inside the central atrium of the Starport, beneath great domed windows with stars, planets and spaceships beyond (via super hi-def screens/projection).  The Starport would house numerous unique dining and retail facilities over two levels, as well as explorable ships on landing platforms, a Rebel hideout (laser tag), a spinner and a shooter darkride.   The Tatooine outdoors section would be home to the Cantina and a high-capacity Stunt Theater (with Jabba presiding).  The Imperial, forested side would house the park’s flagship E-ticket – a new ride through physical sets (and some screens) befitting the “king of movie franchises.”

GHIBLI: THE WORLDS OF MIYAZAKI: There is currently an area with large trees just above the new Ratatouille ride.   I thought that many of these mature trees should be spared and re-purposed, creating the lush Totoro’s Forest entryway to this land.  There is a canopy walk here among the branches of the giant (artificial) camphor trees.  In a clearing is Satsuki & Mei’s country house, which houses access to the gentle Cat Bus Tour around the area, as well as a dining facility.   The next film to be represented is ‘Spirited Away’ with a mountain coaster based on the River Dragon Spirit and a recreation of the Bath House, which holds both dining and an exploratory attraction.  The mountainous backdrop stretches into an area with a large airship (Goliath) docked above and a major suspended darkride into the worlds of Laputa.  The next sub-area of this land is based on the idealized Western European townscapes seen in films like ‘Porco Rosso’ and ‘Howl’s Moving Castle', the latter of which would be the subject for an elaborate ride, and the former, a telescoping plane spinner. 

PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS:  The main change to this area is its entry plaza, which here is inspired by the industrial brick facade of the Emeryville Campus.  A giant (animated?) Luxo figure stands outside the Studio exhibit/tour.   The Aladdin spinner is re-themed to Up, with the balloon house in the center.  Crush's Coaster, with its rockwork and visible ‘soundstage’ building is indicative of the transition from ‘Studio’ portion of the land to the ‘Cinematic Worlds’, such as Andy’s Backyard or Remy’s Paris (and the rest of the park).