So let’s take a look at what we know and some lingering mysteries surrounding one of the world’s biggest and most exciting theme park projects since Tokyo DisneySea.
*excluding Toy Story Land
DISNEYTOWN: While no renderings of this area have been released, it is a safe bet it will be composed of ‘Entertainment/Branded Architecture’ (e.g., Anaheim DTD) versus ‘Time & Place/Themed Architecture’ (e.g., Main Street, U.S.A.). There will be a major theater hosting Broadway-caliber shows, beginning with “The Lion King.” The theme park looks to be accessible through this area.
MICKEY AVENUE: Glimpses of this area have been seen via artwork and those glimpses are very interesting: an eclectic mix of facades that seem to have some basis on Disney film history. A Club 33 may be housed in the corner Carthay Circle façade. There appears to be a French boulangerie based on “Ratatouille.” There might be a faux train station cover just north of the Mickey Floral entry ramp (not shown here).
GARDENS OF IMAGINATION: This is by far the least unknown area of the park as numerous press pieces have been released about it. My assumption is ‘Garden of the Twelve Friends’ is a sub-area of the land (as there will be Dumbo and Fantasia sub-areas). One the early expansion pads (due east of the center) is filled on the blurry official site plan with a large structure, likely a dining facility.
ADVENTURE ISLE: This is an area for which I am really keen to see some artwork. Roaring Rapids forms the mountainous backdrop and has an indoor portion. The peak of this attraction will be the second highest point in the opening-day park, after the castle spire (although my Build-Out adds a few taller expansion attractions). Nestled within the Rapids attraction is the Challenge Trail exploratory area. Two big mysteries of Adventure Isle: First, there is a large structure on the far east of the land. I am going to guess this is a theatrical venue due its big, covered queue adjacent to the building. Filling one of the first expansion pads, between the Rapids and above mentioned theater, is the new version of Soarin’. Another mystery is whether the land will be set in the past, like traditional Adventurelands, or in the present (i.e., “Tomb Raider” or “Uncharted”). The latter would make Soarin’ much easier to integrate.
TREASURE COVE: The park’s signature attraction boasts maybe the longest name ever given to a theme park ride. Interestingly, the land’s stunt show looks to be indoors. Guest-powered canoes (a personal favorite) will circle the azure waters of the park’s largest lagoon. On the blurry site plan, both the EastSide and WestSide performance venues take up early epansion pads. It is possible these will be inexpensive ‘temporary’ venues like AK’s Dino Jubilee or EPCOT’s Millennium Pavilion or HK's Haunted Hotel - added to beef-up the opening day roster.
CELESTIAL REALM: Continuing counter-clockwise, I imagined the park’s largest expansion area being filled by a non-Disney, non-Franchise area dedicated to Chinese history/mythology (as the other parks have their areas dedicated to American history). To uitilize this area most effectively, I re-routed the parade egress loop, which on opening day will run parallel to the rear of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The icon of this area is an original, Everest-scale outdoor coaster (Jade Mountain), which, when viewed from the castle, would form a nice layering affect, rising to a jagged peak beyond the foothills of the SDMT.
FANTASYLAND: I’m hoping and expecting Fantasyland will be like the MK’s Fantasy Forest in style. One of the big mysteries on my previous version of this park has been solved: The large building in the northwest corner is a theater (proscenium construction visible from Google Earth), likely showing a musical medley. I filled up the due-North expansion pad with a Haunted Castle dark ride (the park’s non-IP haunted mansion or dedicated to Disney Villains?).
STAR WARS OUTPOST: The blurry site plan showed this area to be a Toy Story Playland (with a somewhat-altered content). Since then Lucasfilm has been acquired, so I thought why not change this to a Star Wars area, which would transition nicely from Tomorrowland (and employ a lot of trees to block it from Fantasyland). The centerpiece of the land could be a nex-gen X-Wing/TIE Fighter spinner on a rising arm (inspired by Favilli Studios’ Dubai Disneyland). The area would be surrounded by lush plantings (not Tatooine), so the Galactic Cantina is in the same vein as the Mos Eisley one, but not a replica. There would be a small amphitheater for the Jedi Academy show and a major Space Adventure E-ticket anchoring the land.
TOMORROWLAND: The properties here are mostly character-based (Tron, Stitch, Buzz Lightyear), but the architecture appears to be Gehry-Calatrava, with unusual features like aerial planters. It will be interesting to see how it all meshes. Since the Lightcycle showbuilding and wavy, glass curtain (the ‘Tron Cover’ covering the outdoor coaster segment) are both quite tall, and because it is distant from all the other themed areas of the park, I thought the land’s expansion pad might be a good place for a new, billowing Gehry-esque free-fall tower attraction, with an original story to balance the character-heavy area. Another mystery of this area are the circular pools near the parade route - will they do anything (futuristic geysers?)?
-There looks to be a very heavy emphasis on live theater at this park, with three major indoor venues, and possibly 4 or more outdoor ones, plus the Broadway-level auditorium in DisneyTown.
-The park has more of a Multi-Loop layout vesus the traditional Hub-Spoke associated with all the other castle parks (especially the way I have used the expansion pads).
-The park should feel much bigger than tiny, opening-day HKDL, although when HKDL gets fully built-out, they will be in a similar league, with Shanghai still being the big sister. If the roster is accuate (excluding my expansion additions), SDL on opening will have equal or more attractions than 2016 HKDL (with Iron Man), so it should feel like a full experience.
Hopefully, the coming months will see a lot more models, plans and artwork surface for this park. At the very least, The Bund Preview Center is supposed to open in early 2015.