Monday, January 26, 2015

The 2015 Project - River Adventure

As you can probably guess, I am a big fan of detailed maps/schematics, concept illustration and Indiana Jones.  So when Chuck Ballew combined all of these into one grand Map (sitting in the attraction queue itself and published in a couple WDI books) it became one of my favorite pieces of theme park art.  I love the schematic element of the illustration: caves and temple halls follow the physical layout of the queue, but make it look like a mythical Indian temple.  The piece I’ve put together below is a bit of a homage to that (an illustration overlaying a schematic), with 'Sallah' providing notes and sketches detailing a bit of what lies ahead for adventurers.


This attraction combines elements of the Jungle Cruise and Indiana Jones Adventure into a new concept.  It is an E-ticket ride based on atmosphere, with loads of AAs and special effects.  The PG-level thrills are provided by effects and the vehicle rather than any drops or super speeds.  It is an EMV in the water (themed as modified WWII DUKW vehicles) that can suddenly accelerate or slow down, jarringly heave to one side or the other, slowly sink, etc..   


As with all great attractions, the story begins with the exterior and develops throughout the queue/pre-show.   Here the queue building is a grand-but-abandoned British Colonial Office, set in the subtrobical forest of Rhodesia, near the Zambezi River.    The outdoor queue passes through the overgrown gardens, with lazy crocs (AA) lying in a pond and various artifacts strewn about.  The backstory continues in the interior rooms of the Consulate building.  Long ago a great civilization was located in this region.  After it disappeared, animals reclaimed the forest and some hunter-gatherer tribes moved in.   They worshiped the Golden Rhino of their forbearers as protector of the forest.    


Fastforward to 1946.  The British are gone from this area, and a nefarious gang of Ivory Poachers and Grave Robbers has arrived to plunder the riches of the forest.  Indiana Jones has also arrived to stop them, but has not been heard from in some time.   So we are going into the jungle to provide what aid we can.

The old, battle-worn DUKs seat 20 in five rows of four.  They have full audio for radio narration and soundtrack, but no live guides.  Departing from the dock and passing Indy’s seaplane, we enter the jungle.  It seems peaceful and full of life hidden in the foliage – okapi, a rhino and its baby, hoofed animals, colorful birds.  This is a place worth protecting. 

 
To me, the best theme park attractions offer not just fun, escapism and thrills, but teach you something without your realizing it.  If they are mind-expanding, they stick with you.   For example, in passing well-researched, authentically-replicated Mayan artwork, architecture and artifacts in Tokyo’s Temple of the Crystal Skull or pedaling the Flying Machine atop Fortress Explorations, you are being enriched in the long term while having fun in the short.   In the case of this River Adventure, visitors could learn about the history of this part of Africa, the ancient civilization of Great Zimbabwe, as well as something about the biota that once inhabited this part of the world.  There is also plenty of fictitious fun described to us in the queue/pre-show, as befitting an Indiana Jones story, setting up things we will later experience in the ride: e.g., a group of mysterious Albino Gorillas and the horrifying Caverns of Death.    


To maximize re-ridability, the attraction is hyper-detailed, with randomized radio-transmissions, SFX & vehicle movement.  Things begin to get hairy when passing some dangerous-looking leopards eying us from ancient ruins.  No poachers are home when the DUKs pass their riverside camp, but the stockpile of weapons, ivory and animal carcasses indicate that trouble is in the making.  While I didn’t want to over-draw on this map, there are things to see and stuff happening all along the way.  


The Ruins of Great Zimbabwe showbuilding allows for all sorts of indoor effects, including fog, projection mapping, Poachers pierced by booby traps, Mandrills jumping out of the shadows, and stumbling upon Grave Robbers who open fire on us with machine guns.  Dr. Jones should also make an appearance (or two or three) during the ride.


Escaping the temple the bad guys have the Golden Rhino and we need to stop them!  Native Headhunters are also pursuing them (and us!).  There is a breath of peace, as vehicles pass beneath rockwork into a waterfall grotto filled with bathing Forest Elephants.  Then it’s down a section of river where angry hippos violently ram our vehicles from the side.   


The adventure’s grand finale begins as the club-wielding Albino Gorillas drive the Robbers into the Caverns of Death (we were warned about).   The DUKs stall and we also drift into the darkness where big SFX set pieces await.   It all ends with the Robbers defeated for the moment (though some escape to retry) and Indy standing next to the recovered Golden Rhino, promising to return it to Zimbabwe.   Passing a waterfall grotto filled with animals, our amphibs glide back to the Consulate dock.  

I feel it is good to leave attractions somewhat open-ended, so they are not plot-dependent, one-time events.  Visitors need to feel the adventure is ongoing and being continued rather than repeated.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The 2015 Project - Full Build-out

Here is the fully built-out castle park master plan:


Pixar Place sees an expansion based on the Cars/Planes universe, a dusty airstrip with nods to Radiator Springs.  There is the Flo’s V-8 Café, a D-ticket Planes “tube simulator” (as appeared online in patent form), and the Off-Road Rally spinner.

Big City USA has the addition of the El(evated) Train, which brings sounds and kinetics, as well as a way to get around this large park that, like SDL, lacks a circum-navigating railroad.  The trains would be designed in a style inspired by 1930s Popular Mechanix/futurist renderings so as to mesh with the other, more tech-influenced lands they pass through.  

Fantasyland’s Georgian architecture of London-Cherry Tree Lane transitions to the Victorian-inspired part of San Fransokyo (e.g. the Lucky Cat Café) – a sub-area of MarvelVerse.  The main attraction - a family-accessible ride - here would be housed in a building inspired by Ishioka Robotics Lab of ‘Big Hero Six’.   There is a San Fransokyo Elevated Train station here.    Another form of cross-land transport would be a whimsical Car/Bus Service (6-8 different vehicles) that travels from San Fransokyo Circle, through London, around Big City, and to the Carousel Park in Pixar Place.


Since this park is chock full of rides, I decided to designate the requisite Avengers attraction a theatrical experience, which would combine the full gambit of special effects, stunt actors, animatronics, screens, etc – a sort of next-gen T2:3-D. 


The final attraction is a Guardians of the Galaxy launch coaster.  This one has a mostly low-profile track to minimize visual intrusions: the central area is sunken and the coaster relies more on acceleration and maneuvers versus height and drops.  For example, leaving the station, the train enters a canyon of alien rockwork (well below pathway grade) and pauses before its high-speed launch towards the lake through trenches and tunnels into a ground-level helix, before returning under the path to the central area of inversions, dives and rolls. 


Here’s a quick video showing the park from its early program to its ideal build-out decades later.   
video

Over such a long time period, new IP will continuously rise and fade in the world of film (an argument for a stronger presence of park-originated attractions?) to be considered for inclusion, so this master plan represents a snap-shot in time; something that could be continually adjusted.  But the long-term master plan is key so that nothing is developed in isolation and everything is done to maintain or improve the park's overall, long-term thematic & aesthetic integrity as it grows.   

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Fifth Gate Challenge Reminder: Please write "[Park Name] by [your Name, Initials or Net Handle]", e.g. "Star Wars Park by J. Smith",  in the upper left box of the Presentation Sheet so I can quickly identify them.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The 2015 Project - Castle Elevation

Happy New Year!

This is an in-progress rendering of what I envision the iconic central castle for this park looking like.



The castle here (Princess Anna) is heavily-inspired by the one in 'Frozen', although it is not meant to be a re-creation.  In many cases, I think it is more effective for park architecture to be its own thing, versus directly re-creating a film world.

The view you are seeing is from the Fountain Show viewing area, so it is technically the left-side of the castle: the front view would be facing the causeway and main courtyard gate.

The focus of this illustration is on the architecture (leaving the equally-important rockwork mountain and landscaping for later).  The field of view is within the 'Outer Sea Wall' (see red line).  I will probably continue this drawing to show a wider view with Sea Wall & towers.  You will note the flagship flume attraction 'Once Upon a Time' passes around and beneath the castle.

I imagine this castle could serve numerous functions:
-Premium, table service dining on the upper floors, with views over the park (note the big triangular, glass window).
-Walkthrough attraction, exploring various chambers.
-Themed retail
-Meet & Greet
-A dungeon housing an Ice Dragon (or some sort of winter creature), inspired by the Paris walkthrough.

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