This Illustrative Plan represents:
A. An interpretation of the official art:
- The Toy Story Land layout is fairly accurate to what you see in the birdseye key art.
- The Star Wars Land, on the other hand, is only inspired by the artwork, rather than
an attempt to interpret a layout. It includes a general sense of what is coming (lots
of karst spires, Starwarsian towers & buildings, The Falcon, skybridges, etc).
B. A exploration of some unofficial rumors, such as:
- A future Back of House area being cleared on the far side of the highway
- Star Wars Land including two E-tickets
- A future land based on the Indiana Jones franchise
C. Some wishful thinking:
- How to give the park a coherent over-arching theme and differentiate it from the other
three WDW parks
- Giving The Muppets a major darkride
- A high-fantasy based land.
D. And some common sense planning:
- Making the park navigable via a hub-spoke layout
- Connecting the Sunset Blvd dead end to the outer path loop
- Easy expansion plots
- Controlling sightlines and adding to immersion via interior forested berms &
backstage road underpasses.
OVERALL THEME AND RELATION TO OTHER WDW PARKS
We know Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land are coming and Hollywood & Sunset Blvds are staying. Since the park is no longer about making movies but about the Worlds of Movies, it seems to me the most logical way to organize it is by film genre, each being represented by a gold-standard franchise movie world. Star Wars is a top Sci-Fi property. Toy Story is a top Animation property. Since The Muppets seem to by sticking around (and would be ideal for an Animatronic-based attraction), let them represent the Comedy genre and expand their little city with re-themed restaurants and a major family darkride).
What are other popular movie genres? My favorite is Adventure, specifically historic, pulp adventure, so let that be represented by a completely new Indiana Jones Land, built in the area where the Animation Courtyard stands today. Finally, for the large area soon-to-be vacated by Lights Motor Action & Catastrophe Canyon the Fantasy (Sword & Sorcery) genre could add more greenery, water and a mountain range to the park.
I was considering converting the area around Tower of Terror to either Noir (with Gangster overlay to Rock n Rollercoaster) Thriller or Horror, but with two musical venues in the area, that seemed unrealistic. It also breaks the pattern of each genre land being represented by a single world-reknowned property. So for realism/simplicity's sake Sunset remains part of 1940s Golden Age Hollywood that represents the history and overview of the movies (embodied by the Great Movie Ride). Both Fantasmic and Theater of the Stars would get new shows based on the wider world of cinema, not Disney animated ones (see below). The Rock n Rollercoaster and new theater could be an ancillary Music-based annex that we overlook (like Animal Kingdom’s Theater in the Wild) with respect to theme.
So now you have a hub-spoke park with lands based on a Historic America (L.A.), Sci-Fi, Adventure, Animation, Fantasy. It sounds like today’s Magic Kingdom, Part II. That would probably be a good thing for the bottom line, considering MK's popularity. I’ve beaten this horse to death on this blog: each WDW park is enhanced when it has its own identity. Putting movie-based attractions in every park, especially the same property over multiple parks, dilutes this effect. What could help re-strengthen this diversity is minimizing movie IP at the other parks (yes, that train has long-left the station), except for Fantasyland (dedicated to Disney animation). Parks returning to their thematic roots: Animal Kingdom about animals, EPCOT about science, tech & world cultures, Magic Kingdom: Walt’s vision of yesterday, tomorrow & fantasy; and now [CINE-TOPIA?]: all about the Movies.
HOLLYWOOD, SCI-FI & COMEDY
The period Hollywood area is comprised of four sub-areas (Hollywood Boulevard (including the Hub), Sunset Boulevard, Echo Lake and the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater). The two Echo Lake theaters get new attractions that support this general theme. Theater of the Stars on Sunset Blvd could become a revue of movie musicals, while Hollywood Hills amphitheater might be a nightly spectacular based on all types of movies – not just the animated canon. The GMR remains the heart of the park... maybe with a re-worked script, a re-vamped scene or two and the return of the classic “You are aboard the Spaceship Nostromo… Something has gone wrong” voice-over guy (sorely-missed by me).
Star Wars Land takes up the old Indy Stunt Show (and well-behind it). Time will tell exactly what WDI has in store here, but the plan is inspired by the art below. You approach past Echo Lake and through the trees and the karst spires, moving deeper into the towering spaceport. Droids, aliens, landspeeders, docked ships, etc. abound. Rounding a corner you come upon the 1:1 scale Millenium Falcon. Large showbuildings house the two new E-tickets, while numerous unique dining (quick and table service), retail and exploratory areas fill out the other buildings. Overhead are skybridges and shade sails as seen in the art. Built into many of spires are saucer-like structures. Star Tours gets a new façade that fits seamlessly into this environment. Jedi Academy gets a new dedicated outdoor area as well. When exiting the land toward the Muppet area, you pass under a large rock archway.
The Muppets expansion tacks on a new urban Studio façade that hides/houses a large, comedic darkride populated with dozens of AAs. The two existing restaurants get lots of interior and exterior gag-based re-theming – befitting the new proprietors: Swedish Chef and Gonzo.
As noted in the beginning, Fantasy (sword & sorcery) is a popular movie genre that naturally lends itself to a themed environment. Since this park is about gold-standard franchises, such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones & Toy Story, it would seem fitting that the gold-standard sword & sorcery movie property – Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth sagas (Lord of the Rings & Hobbit) be optioned and represented. And while I included its logo in the upper right, it’s NOT what I ended up drawing here. For a couple reasons: First, I recently completed a 2nd Middle Earth park and felt like drawing something different here. Second, I thought it might be better to have a movie property that originated within the Walt Disney Studios, not rival Warner Brothers. So instead of Middle Earth, I’ve imagined that in the coming years the Studio creates a new classic series of live-action Fantasy films, either original or based on well-known books such as the Prydain Chronicles. The latter is what inspired the land I put into the plan, including the mega-E-ticket hybrid water coaster set within & around the mountainous Horned King’s castle, the thatch-roofed farmstead of Caer Dalben, the half-timbered town and the waterside Fair Folk restaurant set within and beneath a rocky mount of waterfalls.
What you see in the plan represents my interpretation of the Greg Pro key art below:
This new area, dedicated to the World of Indiana Jones, is set in an imagined Middle Eastern/North African town of the 1930s that is a staple of the adventure genre (e.g. Tangiers, Cairo, Bagghar, etc.), complete with Casbah and Souk districts, stacked flat-roofed buildings, minarets and WWII-era plane, etc. It was suggested by a collaborator here long ago to put a Rick’s Café Americain in MGM, and since Casablanca inhabits the same period as Indiana Jones, I think it can work. A lot of inspiration for this area came from watching Uncharted 3, including making the anchor Indiana Jones E-ticket about the quest for Iram of the Pillars (the lost, cursed desert city). Since integrating the very large Rock n Rollercoaster showbuilding into this land's (and the park's) sightlines is critical, the Indiana Jones ride would include a very large “ziggurat”, allowing for a vertical element to the ride experience:
The above game art from Uncharted 3 shows the type of structure represented in the plan. The top of the RnR building would also be re-skinned to mesh with this environment.
The land's B/C-ticket would be a heavily-themed topspin with fire & water effects, dressed as as a mysterious and ancient Arabian or Persian machine, taking inspiration from the Mayan one at Phantasialand.
As mentioned at the top, one consideration for this Redux was giving Rock n Rollercoaster and the new neighboring theater a Gangster City overlay for a Film Noir genre land (maybe incorporating the Tower of Terror). Another consideration was making it based on a movie musical, but not many worthy ones fit the ride system. In the end, I left it as one of the orphaned "appendix" areas you sometimes find in Tier I parks... which brings an element of realism to this part of the plan.