Monday, November 3, 2014

Universal Studios Florida

We’ve discussed the shift away from the old Studios model of park as Disney, Universal and Paramount plan and build immersive, “enter-the-world-of-_____” areas.  USF opened a shining example of this in Diagon Alley, which appears to epitomize my mantra: the park IS the E-ticket.


The Muggle/lake-side portion of this Wizarding World expansion recreates landmarks from Whitehall (the government section of London).  Admiralty Arch, the Old Bailey and Nelson’s Column could be influences.  
On the magic/interior side, the off-kilter facades continue the style presented in Diagon Alley.   The main attraction here is based on the Ministry of Magic (which is set hundreds of feet below Whitehall).  I’ll leave the specifics of such an attraction to your imagination (a running theme here), but I was intrigued by the suggestion in the last post’s comments.

Star Trek is a property that’s been around for decades and is now seeing a resurgence (as have or will the other properties used in this concept plan).  The image from the new series that stuck with me the most is this:

In theme park design, like movie design and effects, one strives to make suspension of disbelief for the viewer as easy as possible.  So, for me, anything monumental recreated in a park environment needs to be big enough to sell the viewer that it’s the real thing.  The Columbia in TDS is an example: not the actual scale of an Ocean Liner, but close enough to convince your imagination it is.  The Enterprise shown here is 5:6 scale: a massive landmark, big enough to seem like actual size.  It would contain a turbolift/walkthrough attraction (partly housed in the dock-base structure).

A great thing theme parks can do is create awe-inspiring sights we don’t often see in everyday life.  Recreating the Enterprise being built/repaired in drydock could be one of those.  The bridge and walkway through this Starport land curve and descend gently to give optimal views of the ship.  There is space for the requisite thrill E-ticket (land is on two levels), dining as well as a themed cavern (tunnel) transitioning to the Universal Monsters area.

The legendary catalog of Monsters is something for which Universal Studios is most well-known, and I hope the forthcoming series of re-makes, which Universal seems to consider their own Marvel Cinematic Universe, take a fun, swashbuckling, comedy-adventure approach like recent hit franchises PotC and Sherlock Holmes. 

This area has family friendly-attractions, including the requisite haunted manor on a hill darkride (could be Hotel Transylvania, Scooby-Doo or something else) and darker Jungle Cruise-like attraction that showcases the catalog of Monsters.   There is a dark carousel in the center of the classic Eastern European town so associated with the genre.  A cemetery playzone area is near the entrance.

One of the three big rides here is a new Mummy coaster with extensive indoor and outdoor (terrain following) segments, marked by crumbling pyramids.  This would be based on the future Mummy films (or not on any specific ones) versus the Frasier ones.
While Hollywood, Springfield, San Francisco and Production Central do not see any major changes in this concept plan, NYC does.   First, the Transformers building gets a new skin.  It is essentially a huge box, but so were the impressive Power Plants from the early 20th Century, some artfully designed by famed architects like McKim, Meade & White: 

This one could be inspired by those like the IRT Power Station, abandoned, then covertly re-occupied by N.E.S.T..  This would make the building a visually attractive landmark from all angles of the park and blend with the New York skyline.

In the top left of New York, a soundstage will be converted to a family darkride, accessed through a back alley.  This could be based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sesame Street, or some other NYC-centered ride.

Since Mummy has vacated its New York location the building, which has a museum-like façade could be home to a new E-ticket based on the discussed future JK Rowling 'Fantastic Beasts' trilogy, the 'Night at the Museum' franchise, or something else.  The upper part of the building receives city facades.

Finally, a monumental landmark is built on the Twister block (also enclosing a portion of the coaster).  This is a 1910s-built neo-gothic hotel, as would befit a Ghostbusters E-ticket, providing a landmark visible from a distance, helping to take attention off the coaster and anchoring New York.  Here’s a concept elevation/massing-study sketch I created for the idea:
I imagine shooting Proton Pack guns at ghosts would have to be part of the experience, while moving both horizontally and vertically through the hotel.   This could be reworked into something even bigger, with a full ToT freefall, although that would require re-thinking the height and size as drawn above. 



Michel Lichand said...

Sam, that looks balls to the walls fantastic.

SWW said...

^Hah! Thanks, Michel, for earlier input: lots of good material for future iterations of this park or other movie parks.

mark russell said...

The USS Enterprise on the map sells this place to me in one swoop! The Ghostbusters building looks great.

I do like the idea of the Universal Monsters getting their own land too, though recently I've been getting ideas of doing an entire park/gate dedicated to the horror genre.

Colin Prijn said...

This looks amazing! If this were real, I would come!! A nickland would have been great though for the smaller ones.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Universal Orlando Resort should have a third theme park, a Warner Bros. theme park, which connect to Islands of Adventure for The Wizard World of Harry Potter with another train from Warner Bros. Studio Lot section.
And the theme park should have
1) Warner Bros. Studio Lot
2) Gotham City
3) Looney Tunes Studios
4) Hanna-Barbera World
5) Cartoon Network City
6) DC Universe
7) Wild Wild West
8) Hollywood Boardwalk
9) Harry Potter themed land connect to Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida
10) Sesame Street Lot
That's makes if Universal can deal with Warner Bros. to build a Warner Bros. theme park like Warner Bros. Movie World for the third theme park in the future along with Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.

Anonymous said...

Here is the list of rides for
Warner Bros. Movie World (Universal Orlando Resort):
1) The Goonies Treasure Hunt
2) Gremlins Invasion
3) Looney Tunes Studio Tour
4) Bugs Bunny's Barnstormers
5) Yosemite Sam Railroad
6) Taz Tornado
7) Tweety's Cage Escape
8) Duck Dodgers Space Chase
9) ACME WaterWorks Rapids
10) The Funastic World of Hanna-Barbera
11) Batman Adventure the Ride (Simulator)
12) Wild Wild Falls
13) Scooby Doo dark ride
14) Justice League: Alien Invasion 3D
15) Yogi's Sky Tours
16) The Flintstones Raceway
17) Dick Dastardly Airways
18) Porky Pig Balloon Races
19) Warner Bros. Presents
Splashdown Special Effects
20) Pacific Rim 4D dark ride
21) Godzilla 4D simulator
22) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory dark ride
23) Adventure Time themed ride
24) Gumball's Funny Adventure
and more

Roller Coasters:
1) Batman: The Dark Knight
2) Road Runner Express
3) Lethal Weapon the Ride
4) The Riddler's Revenge
5) Superman - Ride of Steel
6) Green Lantern: First Flight
7) The LEGO Movie Coaster
8) Super Grover coaster
9) The Joker Coaster
10) Viper
11) Tom & Jerry Coaster
12) Police Academy Cop Chase
13) Harry Potter-themed coaster
and more

Batman Stunt Show
Police Academy Stunt Show
Looney Tunes Hollywood Awards Show
Hanna-Barbera Wacky Parade
Elmo's Wonder Circus Show
and more

Hope to like my ideas.

Mike said...

I haven't been to Universal Studios but based on your overhaul and then seeing what the current park has I think you did a fantastic job in making it a more well-rounded park and did a much better job utilizing the spaces to their maximum potential. I like your design for the Ghostbuster's building.

The Universal Monsters are the most under-utilized IP and am glad that it was incorporated into the park.

mark russell said...

Personally, I'd put a Night at the Museum dark ride in the National History Museum, and place Fantastic Beasts in the big show building in the top right-hand corner.

protojimbo said...

I agree with others above that HP shouldn't go in NYC after all. Love the GB building as well. With that and the power plant bringing Transformers into the fold, NY will really be much more tier one in theme. So is the MIB building still themed as is? I really like the balance of this park now - it's cool how the Simpsons land works so well as a mini-land and I like the tunnel between monsters & Star Trek. I also agree that the Enterprise looks great there - clever how construction scaffolding can serve the theme and help obscure sight lines as well. The addition to Diagon Alley brings half again as much walk and shop area and makes a more complete Potter experience. The boat ride is a great idea to encompass all the classic Monsters. You could use the front sections (Monsters and NYC) of the park for Halloween special events; it's a nice stretch from Ghostbusters over to the the Mummy.

Anonymous said...

Or Universal can sign deal with Warner Bros and Six Flags to build a third theme park named Warner Bros. Movie World in the future for Universal Orlando Resort.

SWW said...

Thanks for the comments. There have been rumblings of a 3rd Gate for Universal Orlando. Will be interesting to see if that continues the Enter the Movies (regardless of the Studio) idea of the two existing parks or goes in another direction (or a mix of movies and other content, like IoA).

Anonymous said...

Like Warner Bros. theme park as 3rd gate park?

SWW said...

Don't think Warner Bros. would work as a Universal Orlando 3rd Gate, but there's merit in the idea of a standalone WB Tier One park, featuring Lord of the Rings, Gotham City/DC, Loony Toontown, etc. If you come up with a well-thought out map/plan, I'll consider it.

Regarding UO's 3rd gate, I'd like to see something along the lines of IoA's Port of Entry and original Lost Continent (not repeated, but extrapolating the idea of creating original park-first content versus re-creating movie/tv worlds).

Anonymous said...

there's merit in the idea of a standalone WB Tier One park.

Anonymous said...

Did you said there's merit in the idea of a standalone WB Tier One park.

Anonymous said...

Could you please post where a 3rd gate can be located in the Universal Orlando complex? And any ideas for that new theme park, I was thinking about a land inspired by the Nintendo video games!! Thanks!

SWW said...

^I'm not sure. A google search turned up this plot, which would make sense, being the right size and location:

Not sure what the ownership status is.

A Nintendo park could be pretty cool. I guess Super Mario Racers is requisite, along with Legend of Zelda. Mike Tyson's Punchout?

Anonymous said...

I would love to see a roller coaster based on the F-Zero franchise or a Rainbow Road one from Mario Kart and an e-ticket like Spider-Man but with the Nintendo heroes!
By the way, awesome blog!!

mark russell said...

A Nintendo-based land or park would be awesome! The closest thing Nintendo has ever done compared to this is a miniature Pokemon amusement park.

Daniel Moises Luigi said...

Where is that exactly located?

mark russell said...

It travelled around Japan a few years ago but is now kaput.

protojimbo said...

Nintendo has been approached about the idea many times over the years, but they've always said that theme parks were not the business they were in. As many of you may know, there were many theme parks opened in Japan that failed, which also made them reluctant to go in that direction.
I totally agree that Nintendo park would be great and it might help them keep their brand (and company) alive when things (WiiU) aren't going their way. Their characters are similar to Disney's like no other, in the sense that they have built-in nostalgia of childhood memories for millions. And the fun fantasy world they inhabit translates into theme park design almost effortlessly.

Anonymous said...

A theme park based on Nintendo would be pretty awesome. A cursory search of Google found that a lot of people have also thought about it, and have come up with some pretty good ideas, should anyone who wants to check them out (won't post the links here, as there were far too many of them).

Anonymous said...

This guy in particular had a lot of good ideas:

Anonymous said...

I think it's better if we think of a park (possibly 3rd gate) which includes like the nintendo land, lord of the rings, cartoon network and a lot more! Like in the same style as IOA

Finn Odin said...

I have a Nintendo theme park design that I think is very cool, taking all the finest childhood memories and experiences to life.

mark russell said...

@Finn Oooh, really. Do tell.

Colin Prijn said...

what's up next?

Anonymous said...

Probably based Warner Bros. theme park or Disney theme park.

Anonymous said...

Which attractions are missing from this map and which attractions are gone?

Anonymous said...

I love the concept. It really brings out the best possibility for the future of universal orlando. I would like to see a concept around the future of islands of adventure (with a focus on jurassic world)

SWW said...

^thanks. There are a number of parks undergoing significant expansion/transformation at the moment (e.g., AK, IoA, TDS). Once it becomes clear what effect these changes have on the park's plan(e.g. the layout of Skull Island or Pandora), I'll tackle those parks again.

Ty said...

Great concepts! I Really like the idea of the Ghostbusters tower for a Twister replacement but it would be difficult to achieve such a design with rip ride rockits supports in the way for construction. Your known for your outstanding park designs and id love to see what you could do for improvements on small scale lands within universal like if jurassic park became jurassic world or a fast n furious attraction/space

SWW said...


I was hoping Uni would go forward with the rumored Amber Mine coaster as I'd like to see them tackle their first "mountain". I'll draw another IOA when it becomes clear what Skull Island will look like and then maybe focus closer on a land.

viet nham said...

Super Mario Truck - Play games funny for kids.

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