Thursday, October 2, 2014

3rd Gate Charrette - Illustrative Plan

It is fitting to conclude this charrette exercise with an overlay of the site photo I used in the initial post:

This low-res image is just a preview as I finish up the Illustrative Plan.  Over the coming week or so (probably beginning this weekend), I will begin to update this post and review the park land by land, sharing excerpts of your written ideas that helped influence its designed (as well as things that weren't included, usually due to size constraints).

Thanks again for the participation.


OVERALL: The parameters for this project were to create a 3rd Gate that would:

A.    Physically complement the existing Resort, by centering the new park along the horizontal axis of the DLR Plaza, making it easily accessible to those park-hopping or staying at the western hotels.  This would also allow the main ticketing area to be used for all three parks.  While this location is not very feasible in reality (understatement) due to the ownership of these lots, it is the only space where this triad can be symmetrically achieved in the Anaheim Resort.

B.    Meet all current and future parking requirements via a massive new garage facility on part of the Strawberry Fields property.  A high-capacity elevated PeopleMover system (and associated walkway) would connect the facility to the DLR Plaza.

C.    Answer the Internet’s call to put Star Wars & Marvel properties in a 3rd Gate, rather than DL or DCA.

D.    Remove England-based Pooh from U.S.-based Critter Country. 

While I am always happy to entertain and design non-fiction concepts for parks, in this case parameters C & D pretty much assured this Gate would have heavy fiction/franchise presence, much as DisneySea is Disneyland in another guise.  

As we also discussed thoroughly, this park was designed “components up” versus “central theme down”.  I’ve done both ways many times, and they can both work well (quality comes down to execution in the end).   In this case, the park satisfies all the parameters, but the unusual choice for central icon, the Alien Beanstalk, has led to a unique and satisfying concept park.

The park is still without name, so feel free to continue to suggest.  The beanstalk is more of a background linkage among lands, so I don’t think it needs to be named after it.  There are the more catch-all names like “Heroes Realm/Kingdom of Heroes” or “World of Legends”, “Explorers”, “Wonders”, etc., or there could be a fictional name invented for the park. 

We’ll walk through the park and see what springs to mind.

PHASEOLUS GARDENS: The sights, smells and sounds of this area begin on the landscaped overpass that crosses from the DLR Plaza.  From the entry plaza to the central icon, the park is somewhat analogous to DAK; eschewing the urban, commercial entries of Main Street and Buena Vista Street for a much more exotic, nature-based one.   The only architecture of this area (holding all the required park entry facilities like Guest Services, Park-wide Game maps, bathrooms, sundries, strollers, etc.) are a series of unusual dilapidated stone ruins (with a henge-like feature covering the turnstiles).  The ruins are not of any known Earth civilization, although they look like they could be.  Covering these buildings are carved tableaux with mysterious hieroglyphs that depict, to the keen eye, the legends and adventures that await within the park.  Here’s a quick sketch to give you an idea of what I am envisioning here.

Inside the gate, guests enter a lush oasis of unusual plant and animal life.   In the distance is the Alien Beanstalk, purplish and green, pulsating, glowing at night.   Its tendrils coil skyward, shrinking as they rise.  The massive roots arc over paths and disappear back into the ground.  A water-like, fluorescent liquid pours in a stream from the beanstalk and fills a lagoon.  Around the Beanstalk are exploration paths, including a cavern to venture inside it.  Clues and interactive features (part of the  park-wide game) are found among these paths. 

…To be continued...

ENCHANTED FOREST:  The idea of making this land themed to the seasons was an excellent one.  Passing into the woods and over a stone bridge, one first comes upon a cottage, surrounded by Spring flowers, that houses a display indicating the Beanstalk tale from this land’s perspective.  I was originally thinking the Gummi-Glen Quick Cars would be an indoor attraction housed in a large show-building.  But as the plan developed, I saw that this Forest area needed a heavy dose of Forest (also serving as a visual berm), so I made it a larger cousin of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: indoor-outdoor attraction with terrain following track around a “grass”-topped hillock. 

Most of the land I drafted can be described by contributors:

“[Enchanted Forest] is themed to the changing seasons so the scenery would change with it (as indicated by the colour change and trees).   [At the entrance] there would be a small display from Mickey and the Beanstalk, implying that magic beans created the alien beanstalk (since every land seems to imply the beanstalk’s origin differently).  As a bonus, Willie the Giant would be watching from behind the trees.

SPRING Gummi Glen is set in the spring section and is a dark ride of some sort – still trying to figure out whether it would be a kiddie’s coaster or not using the show’s hawk quick cars for an underground adventure. The tree would be quite large, and a canopy of trees could be used to hide the ride building. 

SUMMER is based around the Tangled dark ride, indicated by the tower. Guests would enter through the tower’s bottom, then into a hall which goes out of the tower to the show building (but keeping the illusion it is still in the tower), which is hidden behind the big cliff backdrop behind the tower. Next to the attraction on the right is the Snuggly Duckling restaurant. 

AUTUMN The autumn section would be dedicated to Pooh and friends, and has two rides – Pooh’s Hunny Hunt located through a huge storybook, and a spinner ride called Blustery Buzz and is themed to spinning honey pots and bees caught in a strong gust of wind.  The shop in the area is Pooh’s Corner.  The middle area of the autumn section would likely have more trees and the homes of Pooh’s friends which would have sight gags and jokes.  For example, Pooh’s house would be there, and if you knock on the door, you hear Pooh inside saying no one is in because he is eating honey at the moment. Owl’s House, where an animatronic Owl interacts with guests, sleeping in his rocking chair until someone rings a doorbell, waking him up, and he regales them with stories of his wacky relatives. Similar to Mr. Potato Head at DCA.

WINTER The entrance features Narnia’s iconic lamppost from the first book… the rest of the landscape would have a snowy feature to it. The Enchanted Snow Palace is a boat ride [potentially melding elements of Narnia, Frozen and the never-built Marc Davis attraction].   Glacial Gazebo is a meet and greet location.”


“in the center I would place a small house of the 4 seasons with clocks and astrocalender things on it.”

...To be continued...

SHADOWLAND:  Continuing the description via contributor comments:

FORBIDDEN FOREST: The transition into this villains area comes off of The Hundred Acre Wood, where the charming and bright woods of the Pooh area turn dark and become a forest of ominous dead trees and thorns. Here we have those spooky trees from Snow White and Wizard of Oz, and the trees are built so they form a kind of tunnel with their branches. There are spooky sounds and those little green eyes blinking in the darkness here…so that little kids playing in the Hundred Acre Woods know not to go into "the dark part of the forest. 

 Nockturn Alley at Universal in Orlando is an influence on the whole Shadowlands area, where efforts are made to use the trees and mountain and buildings to create areas where it is always dark and spooky, which would be a first for a Disney park. The trees are great at blocking sight lines so that when inside Shadowlands it is a world of shadow that makes you feel like you have stumbled into this shadowy, spooky place unlike anything in a Disney park. 

VILLAIN VILLAGE: As guests continue on a path curving to the left of the mountain, they leave the Forbidden Forest and they enter the villain-dominated town.  Shadowlands has a lot of echoes of other areas of Disney parks, only here the bad guys rule. So all the businesses in the Village are run by the various villains.  Kind of like on the show Once Upon a Time, where the storybook characters have day jobs in StoryBrooke.  I think here in Sleepy Hollow there could be a meeting hall or theater like the Golden Horseshoe where the villains could have a stage show/revue. Perhaps this could be hosted by Cruella de Vil and/or Dr. Facilier. 

The main ride of Village area would be an Ichabod Crane/Headless Horseman ride. I like this as an echo of Mr. Toad's at Disneyland (because Mr. Toad/Ichabod shared a cartoon movie together). This ride uses the mystic manor technology and has guests moving through the creepy forest and trying to get away from the Horseman. This ride is a nice transition from the Forbidden Forest area into Villain Village], since it incorporates a forest element. 

The Village is where lots of villains merchandise can be exclusively found… shops selling unique things.  A Cruella De Vil shop that actually made by hand really interesting costumes. They could sell these online too and take orders but the shop would be based here. I know this is a radical idea, but cosplay is big business.  The shop could be a kind of attraction to watch the seamstresses and tailors at work creating this stuff.   This Third Gate would be designed in a way where the cosplay is part of the park's culture…and Disney would make that known to guests that unlike at DCA or Disneyland, guests could cosplay in here and dress as a theme of the different areas. So you could dress up as your favorite area and spend time there in the themed environment and basically play Halloween every day in the themed environments. 

The Village would have all kinds of in-jokes and references to all the various villains from Disney movies. You see they have all moved here after being defeated. Just like Diagon Alley, there are references to lots of things and signs for their businesses and it makes sense to have random appearances by all of these obscure characters.  Every day, there would be appearances here by at least one character never seen anywhere else, like they are living in this little town in exile.
The villains have a support group for one another here. They are nursing their wounds and trying to get back on their feet to try again against the heroes of the Disney parks. 
HALLOWEENTOWN: HalloweenTown is accessed through a big tree with a giant door with a pumpkin on it. HalloweenTown itself is the queue for the Nightmare Before Christmas (NBC) ride. It's all inside a cavernous building so it is dark in there. It's the HalloweenTown as seen in the NBC movie. There is that distinctive fountain and all the crazy buildings and animatronics of the different creatures from the movie here and there, having just finished Halloween. When you go through this queue, you are walking down the streets of HalloweenTown…and then you come to City Hall behind the fountain…and that is the entrance to the ride. And then it's a NBC ride so that Disney stops overlaying Haunted Mansion every year and has a permanent NBC ride. The ride itself is a NexGen Peter Pan's Flight. You are riding on the sleigh pulled by Zero…and the projection technology makes Zero the ghost dog appear in front of you, pulling the skeleton reindeer. You float along above HalloweenTown and other places following Jack Skellington as he tries to takeover Christmas. The ride's gift shop is a NBC shop that sells exclusive items and also Halloween ornaments for "Halloween Trees" like Ray Bradbury wanted and they do at Disneyland as a tradition.

 CHERNABOG MOUNTAIN: The [enormous backdrop] mountain is topped with a [perspective miniature] of Maleficent's Forbidden Fortress, echoing Sleeping Beauty's castle and announcing this area as the corner of the Disney Universe where the villains go when they are defeated.  Also built in perspective miniature on the mountain heights is Captain Hook’s pirate ship, wrecked like it had been flying and crashed into the side of the mountain.

Under Chernabog [reached by passing through ruined gates and into a cavern] is an internal dark lagoon, Sirens Cove, with haunted singing in the area.   Here is found a signature E-tick ride, The Gathering. This large and impressive experience, a full-on E-ticket waterflume ride (PotC), features the Evil sorcerer Yensid, who, in an attempt to rule the universe, draws on an army of infamous villains to aid him in corrupting the Beanstalk to spread darkness to and from other worlds.  


The Maleficent coaster, with queue also housed inside the Mountain, is one of two experiments in this park with bringing a "thrill park-style" coaster to a heavily-themed Disney environment.  With major maneuvers like Cobra Rolls, Corkscrews and Immelmann Loops it doesn't seem fully possible to imbed everything in rockwork, so here the coaster track itself could be themed to the chaotic, twisting mass of giant thorn vines below the Evil Queen's castle and set in a sunken morass and surrounded by rockwork ridges.

..To be continued...


GREECE: Mythos has three sub-areas, and the Grecian area has a light side and a darker one.  The darker side is the one bordering Shadowland, with an interactive Maze of the Minotaur, a Cerberus spinner ("in which Hades’ three-headed dog grabs hold of the passengers and spins them around") and Temple of Hades.  The lighter side is an ancient Aegean port with a lighthouse, explorable Argo, and swinging Trireme.  The major ride in this area is a cousin to TDS' original Sinbad’s Seven Voyages… this time passing through the various Labors of Hercules brought to life in stylized, storybook fashion via dozens of highly-articulated mini-AAs.  A reproduction of an Athenian theater hosts live productions.  The Agora is a greek marketplace filled with various unique food and merch vendors.

Contributor Input:
“The separator between the Greek and Roman area is a large Archimedes Screw which rests near the end of the water. This screw pulls water out of the lake and into a characteristic Roman Aqueduct, which runs to the Roman Hotel where it is used as a water feature at the pool.”

ROME: The Roman area is dominated by the Hotel Imperator.  This hotel is very different from something like Caesar’s Palace Vegas, which dresses modern 20+ story hotel buildings in kitschy pediments.  Instead, the approach here is like Tokyo Mira Costa: attempt to replicate the scale and feel of a romanticized Ancient Rome, via authentic detailing, staying relatively low-rise (5-8 stories), using setbacks and the appearance of a contingent of smaller buildings:

Hopefully, you can tell from the plan that Rome is built on two pedestrian levels.   On the lower, waterfront area there is a new type of flatride (a 21st century, super-sized version of The Whip) styled after the Circus Maximus.   I imagined the Cosplay shop described in Shadowland could be applied in other areas as well (here, there could be gladiator gear or togas).  The Pantheon is a mixed-media (circlevision?) theater telling varied stories (i.e., slot-machine-style, like Star Tours) of the Classical World, its history and mythology.

ATLANTIS: This area is not themed to the Disney animated film, but features original Art Direction and stories.  The Sinking City section near the E-ticket ride features the Catastrophe Canyon-like effect described below:
“Atlantis will be the most technologically challenging area to develop. It consists of two sections, one above ground and one below the lagoon. The area above ground rests on enormous shaker tables and approximately every 30 min the ground rumbles and causes buildings to “collapse.” During these shows, water will flow from the top of the mountain range into predetermined flood zones and statues, spires and other objects will “break” (built on hinges and retract after a few min).”

Adjacent to and within the Volcano is an explorable Atlantean Palace, Aquarium tunnel access and the undersea-viewing restaurant (imagine IoA's Mythos underwater) .  An overpass bridge leads to the Superhero land, and a path through the center of the volcano leads to Discovery Outpost.

The multi-level paths (and many hotel rooms) also serve as viewing areas for the nighttime lagoon spectacular which uses the Volcano and Palace as a backdrop.

“Atop the Mountain is a Tesla Coil used to cast lightning as Zeus/Jupiter would and as a special effect during the nighttime show.”  

Legend of Mythica, recently retired from TDS, would seem an ideal daytime show for this lagoon, although I didn’t include the necessary boat storage/maintenance area in this plan.


...To be continued...

SUPERBASE: I originally considered a San Fransokyo-inspired SuperCity environment (with urban blocks) for this area, but ended up doing something that is closer to a SuperHeroes’ secret base/settlement on the edge of an exotic wilderness.  The showbuildings/facades block the freeway on the built-up side and the Volcano/Jungle/Beanstalk form the interior “edge of the wild”.

Near the Beanstalk there is a small expeditionary camp set up by SHIELD to investigate the Beanstalk.  The land’s anchor E-ticket attraction here is based on The Avengers (what that indoor, multi-level ride could be, I’ll leave to your imaginations).  Its weenie would be a scaled-down 'techitecture' glass & steel tower.  Assuming the movie is a homerun, I put in space for a family ride based on Big Hero 6.   The Incredibles family ride glides along an elevated track into the jungle and up and through the Volcano.  There was an idea of using tech similar to that on the Nemo Subs at Disneyland (projecting events onto the glass windows that look like they are happening in the jungle or lava pools outside the Pods.
The land’s Cosplay vendor could sell/rent customized superhero costumes.

The final attraction is a Stark/IronMan Labs, which holds a number of small scale ride/attraction experiences indoors.  As contributed, these include:

"Iron Man Gauntlet Testing:  There are several partitioned stations. When you walk to your cubicle you are looking through a piece of Plexiglas into a room. This looks like one of those stations that people in the biohazard lab use to handle objects.  You slide your hands into a pair of Iron Man's gauntlets. Though invisible, you are seeing the room through Mylar Foul that allows the Pepper's Ghost effect to create the illusion that it then becomes sort of a magic shooting gallery. Depending on what you hit all sorts of things happen in the room on the other side of the plexiglass.

The Hulk: Recreates the ability to jump like Hulk.

Iron Man Boot Experience: A person would lay back and be strapped in. They would place their feet into IronMan boots. They would be shot up the long diagonal tube and then slide back down breaking at the bottom.

The Marvel Carousel (Multilevel): All of the ride units face the center of the ring. There are two rings. The inner one doesn't simulate as many Gs. The outer one travels fast enough to be a mildly thrilling. Riders can travel up and down the pole as well as tilt side to side, forward and back a bit.”

...To be continued...

STARPORT: I enjoyed reading this backstory for this area because it didn’t replicate things we’ve already seen on film, but created a new world that fit within the cinematic universes:

“BACKSTORY: Not long ago, a Jedi whose spaceship had been badly damaged by imperial fire crash-landed on this mysterious, unknown planet.  The terrain was hot and dry and rocky and seemingly devoid of life, making the Jedi fear for her survival.  Just as she was about to give up hope, she came across a towering beanstalk. It seemed too good to be true - no more than a desert mirage.  She reached out to grab it, and, finally convinced it was real, fell to the ground with tears of joy.

While the Jedi worked to repair her spaceship, the beanstalk sustained her with shelter, kindling, and food. But still she had a problem: no fuel. Until one evening, when an ember from her campfire blew onto a distant root of the beanstalk, which burst into flames like a drum of gasoline.  The Jedi couldn’t believe her luck: the roots of the beanstalk contained an ethanol-like fuel, which could power her spaceship.  Refueled and refreshed, she flew off to tell the Jedi council about this new planet.

Word spread quickly, and settlers from all over the galaxy traveled here seeking their fortunes.  A boomtown arose, complete with a starport, agricultural research center, and luxury hotel.  Since the planet was devoid of traditional building materials, most of the settlers built makeshift shelters, replicating the architecture of their home worlds with materials from their spacecraft.  After all, what use was a spaceship when they didn’t intend to leave?  At least not until they’d domesticated the beanstalk.

The settlers planted cuttings from the beanstalk all around the planet.  It didn’t grow everywhere, but where it did, it took off like kudzu.  None of the child beanstalks grew as tall as their mother, but they provided more than enough food and fuel for the settlers’ use and for trade.  Even better, they enriched the soil, allowing plants from almost any other planet to thrive on the formerly harsh terrain.  Still, the settlers continue to dream, hoping that one day they’ll learn the beanstalk’s secrets and grow a forest of plants as tall as the original.

THE FIELDS: The southern part of StarPort - the part nearest the Alien Beanstalk - consists of beanstalk fields tended by both droids and human scientists. Lacking the museums, theaters, and other recreational options available in an established city, the settlers have made the fields do double duty as a combination of working farm and pleasure garden.

The fields are also home to a research station where scientists are developing new rockets designed to run on beanstalk fuel and traverse the still-harsh terrain of the Planet.  Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star-Lord) has been chosen to test-pilot the new rocket and, despite the rules against it, invites us to join him. This [transforming] coaster (E ticket) blasts through both the fields and the neighboring Xandar settlement, with a rockin’ ’70s and ’80s soundtrack provided by the Star-Lord himself.

THE TERMINAL: At the north end sits a massive transit terminal. With a growing population and acres of farmland to protect, StarPort is constantly in need of more runways and more pilots.  With its abundant fuel supplies, StarPort has become a popular stop for teamsters who pilot supply ships across the galaxy.  Part of the StarPort caters specifically to these travelers, with an “intergalactic truck stop” feel.  Visitors can fuel up, pick out souvenirs at the truck stop shop, and even grab some grub at the Starlite Diner. Next to the diner is a rough-and-tumble bar with sultry alien chanteuses.

The terminal contains several attractions:
 Pilots’ Academy (D ticket), a bay of Sum of All Thrills-style simulators where guests can learn what it’s like to pilot various vehicles from the Star Wars universe [from X-Wings to AT-ATs].”

Undetermined Star Wars Ride (E ticket): In this area would also be the land’s anchoring new E-ticket, with a distinct architectural tower/feature marking its entrance.   With so many of the Star Wars attractions (including DL’s Star Tours) already dealing with battles in space, I think this experience should take a different tack.

Another contributor adds:
Star Wars Saga Theater (D ticket): “Audience chairs swivel. LED stars embedded in walls of theater. There is a proscenium in front and back of theater.  Star Destroyer enters over audience creates opening scene to Ep 4. Memorable fights acted out on stage, possibly far back enough to use the Mylar film tech, live actors or both. Scaled down replicas of Xwing (front stage) and TIE fighter (back stage) enter and laser fight ensues. Ceiling is giant LCD screen. Ships "fly" using crane and Kuka and projections are on screen on back of stage for speed effects, spx and backgrounds. Rockettes Dancing.  A cylinder drops from ceiling into middle of auditorium (thus the swivel chairs) and inside is a "hologram" of the Emperor.”

I thought a restaurant based on a Droid Factory filled with famous and not-so-famous AA robots and (with automated service (few humans)) would be a cool themed dining experience for this area.

StarShuttle (C ticket), this is a sleek train to Tomorrowland appears to have windows from the outside, but from within follows the model set by the Hogwarts Express.  The land has lots of kinetic movement, with elevated tracks for the GotG Coaster, the DL Monorail and the StarShuttle criss-crossing above pedestrians’ heads.

“THE GALACTIC EMBASSY HOTEL:  Built to serve business travelers and diplomats from across the galaxy and to boost StarPort’s reputation, the Galactic Embassy Hotel is the height of luxury. The central lobby features a planetarium-style dome. It’s perpetually night here, just like at the Blue Bayou, and you can always see the stars. Perhaps there are spacecraft hanging from the ceiling (as at the Air and Space Museum) and Star Wars memorabilia in display cases.” 

Another contributor adds:

“I think it would be awesome to have large digital picture frames in your room that do a slide show of photos from your day taken by Photopass; for the room to feature two televisions. One for the kids with wireless headphones and one tv for the adults.  Futuristic toilets that many hotels in Japan have.  The tv, lights, bath, a/c to be voice-operated.  Your room's voice butler could be the character voice of your choice.   The windows use liquid crystals to become opaque.  LED's along the crown molding and baseboards so that you can control the colors of the walls.  The ceiling and railings of the lobby to be outfitted with fiber optics so that at night, light levels are lowered and the whole place looks like a star field.”

Here’s an additional proposal for a more rural area of the StarPort.  There wasn’t the room to include this (save the small, storytellers stage), but I liked the idea:

“THE SETTLEMENTS: A sprawling cluster of ramshackle homes and businesses fills the eastern parts of the StarPort, bordering the Galactic Embassy Hotel and Superheroes Land. Settlers from the same planet tend to congregate in the same area, giving rise to neighborhoods like Tatooinetown and Little Naboo. Wandering through the alleys of the settlements, you’ll artifacts from all over the Star Wars universe and meet some of your favorite characters.  At the center of the settlements is an open-air market where vendors hawk their wares. The market also contains The Theater (C ticket), a tented performance space hastily constructed from spare spaceship parts to satisfy the settlers’ demand for entertainment. Here, human actors and droids re-enact beloved sci-fi stories using only the materials at hand, in a style similar to Fantasy Faire in Disneyland.  If needed, the settlements could also house a couple midway-style B tickets built in a similar style to the Theater.  The settlement bordering Superhero Land is Little Xandar. It provides a backdrop for the coaster ride as well as a transition to the Marvel Universe.”

 ...To be concluded...

DISCOVERY OUTPOST:  This is a late 19th-, early 20th-century, secret steampunk research outpost at the base of a giant, active volcano.  The S.E.A. Observatory is an exploratory attraction (with light dining), filled with numerous SFX-filled science rooms: a machine-age cousin to Fortress Explorations.  Capt. Nemo's large dry-for-wet submarine dark ride takes riders on a lengthy “undersea” voyage filled with wonders and dangers, with a glimpse of the submerged ruins of neighboring Atlantis.  Subtle nods to the Beanstalk mythology would exist in both of these attractions.

Entering through very large iron “blast doors”, the tunnels and chambers bored within the Volcano (TDR) provide access to dining & retail options and transition to the Lost Realm of Atlantis.  A vertical attraction (steampunk-themed junior spaceshot) within the volcano would take advantage of the structure’s height.
I’ll conclude this exercise with a triptych sketch of three of the park’s weenies: