Monday, November 21, 2016

The Way DLP Ought to Be

DLP is one of the unfortunate ironies of the theme park world:  As designed, a work of consummate genius by the (arguably) Greatest Generation of Imagineers.   And, over its lifetime, the most neglected of all the top tier parks.  It is incredible to think that the last ride added to the park was 20+ years ago in 1995 (excluding conversions/ replacements, eg Visionarium).  And it looks like many more years before another attraction will be put in.  I find myself wishing  that TDL and DLP had been switched at birth... with this park sitting alongside its equal, DisneySea, cared for by the OLC and adored by the Japanese park-goer.   Alas, it was not to be.

Thankfully, a good amount of the genius of DLP endures.  That it has continued to be a draw for decades without a real new attraction is a testament to how beautifully executed the original vision of Walt's DL for European Audience was.

Drawing this plan allowed me to look at some of the woulda, coulda, shouldas I had in mind for this park.

FANTASYLAND: Whether it was the popular Lion King show in Discoveryland or the currently-playing Frozen show in Frontierland, DLP has a long history of not giving a turd about whether its live shows reflect or support the land's theme. 

 The first step in correcting this problem is to remove the temptation: the theaters in Frontierland and Discoveryland go away, as well as the now-ill-fitting Meet Mickey area (leaving the charming Fantasyland Train Station intact) for a new path that leads under the tracks to a catch-all, indoor Fantasy Forest Theater at the top of the park.  A forested berm goes in to help hide the theater building (and PotC).  A new quick service eatery is built next to this Theater.  Now, whatever live show du jour can go here, and more often than not, fit with the theme of the land.

Since Princess M&Gs are so popular, a cousin of Anaheim's well-detailed Fantasy Faire is built south of Mad Tea Party, so the half-assed conversion of the IaSW post-show building to a Princess Pavilion can return to something like its original incarnation.  

The major ride added to Fantasyland is a D or E-ticket LPS based on the Little Mermaid (sharing the name, but the not the ride system, of the MK's attraction).  Its showbuilding occupies the space currently taken by the Videopolis/Jedi Training (which get razed, though Hyperion Cafe would remain).

ADVENTURELAND: Almost everyone has seen the site plan for the Indiana Jones Adventure that has circulated online for years.  I transcribed it here, completing the Indy-in-1930s-India sub-area (begun with the coaster) with numerous ancient temples added in various states of dilapidation.  The setting and storyline would distinguish itself from the existing rides in Tokyo and Anahiem (a different region of India; Hindu vs Buddhist pantheon, perhaps).
Artwork by Ragu

Small Details: Adventureland would be scrubbed of UCI (Unnecessary Character Infusion).  The Carl from "Up" statue gets removed from the waterway.  Restaurants that were needlessly given Disney Toon monikers go back to their original, unique names.    As with all the Idealizations of my imagination, retail undergoes a watershed change so as to be more sophisticated, interesting and reflect the land's theme (no more stands of pink cinderella dresses shoved out into the middle of the Bazaar).   The once wonderful indoor Bazaar could return, ousting the Aladdin-named restaurant.  Signage in and around restaurants always defers to the tech level of the period: no tacky photo-shopped posters of food outside restaurants.  No LCD menu boards inside.  Exit signs in the proper font and casings.  Lighting appearing to be of the appropriate period and no harsh LED bulbs.  You've heard it all here before.

FRONTIERLAND: The McPochahontas Playground goes away and the much cooler canoes make a return (re-opening the Pueblo Traders). 

 Crossing from Thunder Mesa into Cottonwood Creek sub-area, passing the restored Critter Corral and Woodcarvers Hut, there is a new mega attraction based on my favorite movie (no joke) of recent years: Gore Verbinski's "Lone Ranger."    The outdoor queue is based on the Reid Family Ranch and the attraction's weenie is another tall sandstone butte (bookending Big Thunder), but topped with the Cherokee Resurrection Platform from the film.  As all movie-based attractions ought to do, this one avoids giving a book report of the film, but takes riders alongside familiar characters on new, original adventures.    

DISCOVERYLAND: Eschewing the incoherent mix of Star Wars, Toy Story and Steampunk it has been for much of its existence, for the first time the entirety of Discoveryland would be dedicated and themed to the Science Fiction visionaries of the late 1800s Europe (George Lucas has never been in that category, so Star Wars gets bounced to a nearby park).  Buzz Lightyear would be the same track, but redressed as a stylized, kid-friendly shooter (targeting Morlocks) based on HG Wells' "The Time Machine."   Another HG Wells creation, "The Invisible Man", gets a SFX Walkthrough/Theatrical attraction, located on the far side of a new, landmark train station for the land.   Space Mountain reverts to something based on Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon".   The final major addition to the land is a Hot Air Balloon omni-simulator based on Verne's classic "Around the World in 80 Days."


Happy Thanksgiving.