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.


Anonymous said...

Another fantastic post thank you.

I Have always thought that the space in Fantasyland behind the train tracks is ideal for a fantasy style theatre set in a forest!

While this is all very blue sky i would say that a few key things in here could or possibly should be in DLP. Fanstasyland Theatre, Indiana Jones and Little Mermaid.

Felipe Zahtariam said...

Another great work!

I loved practically everything you added/changed in the park. Discoveryland getting a complete steampunk theme is awesome, and the idea of the Fantasy Forest Theatre is simply wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Back in October 2015, you posted a picture of a Hong Kong DisneySea plan. On the left of the picture is an expanded version of HKDL we never got to see close up with detail. Any chance you can re-post plan with more of a focus on the HKDL side of this plan? Especially as a comparison to the HKDL plans announced recently.

Additionally, love this DLP post!

SWW said...

Thanks for the comments.

I've got a bunch of versions of HKDL, and there is a subsequent plan to the one you mention (the DisneySea neighbor is in an older style), that I might post at some point. I will almost certainly draw a new iteration based on this week's announcement. Feel free to comment on what you think should go in the two remaining areas (next to Arendelle, below Grizzly Gulch). I'm thinking original content would be good to counterbalance this 100% IP phase.

Anonymous said...

For the space below Grizzly Gulch, maybe an EMV boat ride (like your Indiana Jones ride back from the 2015 project) featuring some Chinese mythology (dragons, mermaids, Xiangliu the sea monster). You could also include some beautiful scenery reminiscent of places like Ha Long Bay.

If there's room behind the Fantasyland Theater and Autopia, maybe a Discoveryland like area with a time travel ride.

And for the space between Arendelle and Toy Story, the easiest choice is to put in TSMM. Or you could add an original Fantasyland ride or an expanded/updated version of an old ride.

Just some ideas that came to mind. Can't want to see what you come up with!

SWW said...

^ I like the idea of doing something about Chinese myth (having used this theme in a couple iterations) as it has yet to be deeply explored by Dis in Asia (Wandering Moon Teahouse is a nice start) and could connect with this audience.

mark russell said...

Very nice work, SWW. I'm surprised you didn't do a major expansion to Fantasyland to accomadate the more modern fairy tales, and I love what you have done for Discoveryland, restoring it to its more intended design. Just wondering if you will revisit the studios park as well?

SWW said...

^Thank you. I drew a plan last year or before for the WDSP site, but it is a differently-themed do-over with a deluxe hotel at the entrance.

Now you have me thinking of a plan for a 'EuroCOT' for that site, since EPCOT Center, in its original form, was my favorite and formative theme park experience and the content here has been so Castle/fantasy-centered in the last year (and will likely see a few more upcoming posts in that Castle category).

David Walker said...

This is fantastic! The changes made over the years to Discoveryland have always been the most upsetting to me. I've never been a fan of StarWars in Tomorrowland or Discoveryland. StarWars may be set in outer space, but it does not take place in the future, nor does it even have anything to do with the future (or history) of Earth and humanity, as far as I know.

Like most Disney fans, I think Disneyland Paris is the most beautifully designed Magic Kingdom style park and it's tragic to see how they've eroded Tony Baxter's perfectly themed environments in favour of marketing Disney and Disney-Pixar intellectual properties.

I appreciate all of the changes you've proposed for this park, even the removal of Videopolis to make room for another Fantasyland attraction. I assume the Power Plant is a video arcade/gift shop and its exterior architecture is appropriate to the theme of the Hyperion Cafe next door. I usually try to preserve and make additions to, rather than replacing when it comes to my own daydreaming and armchair imagineering, but I understand that space is limited within the park.

I can see all of your changes and additions to Disneyland Paris being feasible and most desirable to hardcore Disney fans. However, the fireworks area behind the Fantasyland train station might be problematic for the Fantasy Forest Theatre and dining expansion. I imagine Disneyland Paris would want to keep their fireworks program centred behind Sleeping Beauty Castle. I don't know if the berm between Boulevard du Grand Fosse and Avenue Blanche Neige is large enough to accommodate their fireworks infrastructure or if they own the parcels of undeveloped land on either side of Rue des Fermes, but hopefully, Disney has kept that in mind because completing the pathway from Casey Jr/Canal Boats to the Fantasyland train station makes the most sense in further developing Fantasyland.

I've been a fan of your work for many years and I believe this is the first time I'm posting a comment. I always enjoy reading your posts and looking over your drawings. We think alike in many ways, especially when it comes to preserving the integrity of the themed environment. I don't have a blog or website, but I wouldn't mind sharing my drawings and ideas with you sometime. I'd very much like you do an illustrated map of my own Magic Kingdom style park, but I still have a lot of work to do in refining the overall plan. Right now, my park is a little too "ideally" built-out and unrealistic for my imaginary development company. (I'm going the "Oriental Land Company" route for my dream Disney resort in an effort to be somewhat realistic in my dreaming. I know Disney would never take such a risk in building my dream resort without someone else heavily investing in its construction.)

I hope my post finds you well. Merry Christmas, SSW. I wish you a good holiday and hope to share my drawings with you sometime in the new year.


SWW said...

^Thanks for the note and Merry Christmas.

protojimbo said...

@David Walker - I enjoyed reading your post. You've piqued my curiosity - too ideally built out? This I gotta see!

@SWW - I like how each area you've added to or reworked is full of small details, nooks and crannies well themed. In that way, you're not just adding an attraction/themeing, you're deepening the immersion. What you've done not only adds to, but improves all the existing elements' ability to place-make as well.
It's a shame when corners get cut in real world parks. Just that little bit extra can have a multiplicative effect...

SWW said...

Jimbo, very nicely and succinctly put. It is what I mean when I say "the park is the e-ticket".

Anonymous said...

Instead of the Lone Ranger ride you envision here, wouldn't it be better to have the never-built Western River Expedition?

SWW said...

^ WRE could work too. I've drawn variants of this Paris plan with rapids rides, stage coach races, Critter Country and other attractions in that pad.

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I never got the chance to visit Disney Land. But, I have heard that it is a just great experience. Lucky are those who went there with their families.

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