Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Design-a-Park Workshop: EPCOT-style

An appealing aspect of the Castle Park Template is the variation among the six built and the countless imagined versions.  Much rarer is the conceptualization of variants on the other successful Tier I park templates, such as IOA, Animal Kingdom, TDS and, in this case, EPCOT Center.  The only official replication of the EPCOT idea that we've seen in detail is WestCOT, which was a more distinct and distant cousin of the Original than what I am proposing here:

 As the Castle Parks do, I wanted this EPCOT Concept drawing to feel like a sibling of the original EPCOT Center, with both overlapping and unique features.  This version is a little more walkable than the original park, as the visitor is able to quickly access either of the two facets of the park at entry, as opposed to WDW, where one needs to travel some distance through one area to get to the other.  The north, upper part is Future World and the lower part is World Showcase.  The central hourglass lagoon would be used for park-wide programs such as IllumNations and boat transport.

The park build-out calls for seven Future World pavilions and eleven World Showcase countries.  I've gotten the ball rolling by creating the entry, hub and first three pavilions for each side.  Just as a distinct castle is the icon of each Castle Park, a variant of SPACESHIP EARTH will be the centerpiece of EPCOT II.  This time, the familiar geosphere sits atop a large, multi-level pavilion that houses exhibits, services, retail and waterfront restaurants.  The ominmover ride itself is a similar experience (on Communication or Civilization) with some unique elements, scenes and script.  I wouldn't draw a version of EPCOT Center without its own versions of WORLD OF MOTION and HORIZONS as they are the equivalent of Pirates and Haunted Mansion for this type of theme park: Experience-Defining Masterpieces.  For forthcoming pavilions, one thought is Land and Sea might be combined into an original Ecology/Natural Resources attraction. 

On the World Showcase side, I began by including one extinct favorite of mine (NORWAY, in its original form) and two never-built countries: SWITZERLAND with its Matterhorn-on-steroids indoor coaster and GABON (or GHANA) (the "Equatorial Africa" as proposed for EPCOT), featuring a Congo River Expedition-type main attraction.

Moving forward, with only 8 pads remaining, I think the countries should tend to be variants or not-yet-used concepts.  Europe would get only two more spots, with Northern and Central represented, maybe one more country from Southern (Spain?) and one from the West (Ireland or UK?).  North and South America should each get some representation, as well as South Asia, East Asia and Middle East.


 The additions in this update include a JOURNEY INTO IMAGINATION pavilion for Future World.  I've added a third "great" glass pyramid to the iconic building and created a new approach featuring the Leapfrog Fountains and reverse waterfall.   A larger ImageWorks could housed under the expanded pyramid.  The Captain Eo Theater has been left behind.   I imagine the ride as a return to the original classic, though one can also imagine a high-tech LPS version.

In World Showcase, a viewing and special event island leads to a new UNITED STATES OF AMERICA pavilion, which rather than be the host country at the head of this park (which would likely be outside the US) is mixed among the other countries.  The architectural landmark of this Liberty Square-style land is a replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia with the ringing Liberty Bell.  The attraction inside remains an American Adventure AA Mixed Media show.


 World Showcase gets a JAPAN pavilion, for which I tried to incorporate some of Mark's suggestions from the Comments.   The feudal castle is replaced by a shrine "inspired by Izumo-taisha temple, one of most ancient shrines in the country.  A not-to-scale replica of Mount Fuji sits at the back of the pavilion, containing an indoor coaster, "Oni Mountain", basically a Japanese Expedition Everest, encountering demons and ghosts of Japanese mythology. "   Due to size restraints, Fuji here would be closer to the D-ticket scale of Crush's Coaster in WDSP, than E-ticket Everest.

In Future World, a new pavilion: LIVING PLANET.  It's theme would be Environmental Sciences, such as Biodiversity, Sustainability and Ecosystem Restoration.  As noted in comments, while the long, AA/mixed-media, educational, past-present-future darkride is an EPCOT Center staple as well as a personal favorite attraction-type, this pavilion would change things up by using more fast-paced simulator attractions.  The diversity and breadth of the planet's biomes make simulators an apt choice, as they can be world-spanning and travel under the seas, through jungles and above savannas, using the slot-machine techniques of the new Star Tours.  There would also be a restaurant and numerous smaller exhibits and habitats under the multiple glass domes of the pavilion.

Well done in the comments section.  As demonstrated there, the possibilities for the EPCOT park template seem limitless.  In this update, three countries are added to world showcase.  

Moving clockwise from the first addition in the lower right (adjacent to the African pavilion): UNITED KINGDOM.   The pavilion sets out to create that most bucolic and romantic of British settings... the quaint old village of Edwardian and Tudor buildings with the backdrop of big, somewhat ruinous Castle - perhaps now a museum or maybe still occupied by the fading nobility.  I like the suggestion of using Wales as the setting, so the castle could be inspired by an amalgam of the great Welsh castles.  Following that idea, the castle would house a ride that focuses on the Arthurian Legends. 

The Village would house not one lively Pub, but two: playful rivals - with their own football affiliations and backstories.

The adjacent pavilion is TURKEY, dominated by the Hagia Sophia.  I wanted this pavilion to mirror WDW's Mexico: a monumental structure out front and most of the features inside it.   Passing into the Hagia, visitors would find themselves in the Grand Bazaar and eventually reach an "outdoor" restaurant overlooking the Bosporus and a moonlit bigature of Istanbul and all its landmarks.   A boat ride and exhibit space would fill out the interior.   

On the waterfront, there is the landmark Galata Tower and some residential structures which house Boat Transport on the lower level and light dining/cafe and lagoon show viewing on the upper and roof levels.

Moving over to the park entry side of World Showcase there is the grand INDIA pavilion.  The pavilion is approached by passing either through a Gate inspired by the Mughal Red Fort of Delhi or along the lagoon by ancient temples inspired by the Shore Complex of Bengal.  The center of the pavilion is dominated by a 5-story Hindu gopuram (monumental gateway tower), such as those at Virupaksha.  At the center of inner pavilion is a Step Well descending deep into the earth.  The flanking dining and retail buildings are based on the Havelis (ornate mansions) of the wealthy 17th Century merchants.  

The pavilion is dominated by the huge and hulking Rajput fort - a backdrop inspired by Gwalior and Amber Forts - built of yellow sandstone atop a rocky outcropping.  Inside, an elaborate ride (musical) or show could explore India's ancient epics. 


Completing World Showcase.   GABON is changed to KENYA and the animatronic River Safari reflects the more iconic East African savanna landscapes and animals (as opposed the to the West African Rainforest of the earlier incarnation).

This is because BRAZIL is the South American representative, between Switzerland and Turkey, and its attraction is a Rainforest Canopy Glider ride through the Amazonian jungle.   The ride's load and queue building is leaf-thatched, stilt structure.   The town square is a colorful Portuguese Colonial-style settlement, with Brazilian dining and shops.  

West of Switzerland, and contrasting the collection of quaint Alpine 'buildings', is the imperial grandeur of SPAIN, reflecting its pinnacle during the Age of Discovery.  The pavilion is an amalgam of a number of Spanish landmarks of different cities, but, collectively, would feel like one large palace complex.    The dodecagonal tower at the entry point, also included in the original WED plans for Spain, is the Seville's Torre del Oro.   

Opposite it is the clocktower from the Santiago Cathedral.  Cordoba's Mezquita tower is also represented.  Climbing stairs and passing through the first wing of the palace, visitors emerge in El Escorial, the imposing royal palace near Madrid.  Beyond the courtyard and under the dome, there could be an attraction based on Don Quixote or on Spain's exploration (and conquest) of the New World.    Because I had a desire to include Spain in place of Italy, that meant that South America's Argentina lost out to Brazil, so to add another language to the Showcase.

A galleon from the Age of Sail is anchored on the lagoon.

The final country added to this showcase is EGYPT.  It is represented by both monumental Ancient Egyptian landmarks and the narrow, bustling streets of Cairo.  Passing from the bridge through an ancient Pylon gateway, in the distance one would see the Great Pyramids rising over the city's flat roofs, minarets and domes.  The main attraction would have to be based on Egyptology and be a fun and exciting ride exploring the secrets of the Pharaohs' lost tombs and treasures.

 I like the idea of these ancient and crumbling Pyramids contrasting with the sleek glass pyramids of the Imagination pavilion.  Standing on the upper level of the Spaceship Earth plinth, one could look both north and south to see pyramids in the distance.


 Future World, and the park, is complete.  I thought about the various areas of science and technology and what would complement the existing pavilions.  OUTER COSMOS is a Space Pavilion, which both exists and has been conceptualized in various ways.   This is a different take: looking much further ahead into a future when viable long-distance space travel and colonization has been invented.   This version takes place in a domed staging base on another planet or unknown moon, set in otherworldly rock.  The pavilion serves as a Science Station and Starport for further exploration.  It would contain unique dining and small shows, exhibits and experiences, in addition to an E-ticket headliner ride.

The opposite of Outer Cosmos is INNER WORLDS, which would be based on sciences that are invisible due to their extreme small size: nanotechnology, genetic engineering, particle physics, fusion.  One ride could involve shrinking to the sub-atomic level - recalling a long lost DL attraction...

Drawing Evolution:


Hope you enjoyed this experiment in looking at the original EPCOT Center as replicable theme park model in the same way we look at the Castle park model.  

Friday, August 11, 2017

MK: Revelations

Last month some interesting news was revealed about the world's most popular park: two forthcoming additions and one never-built E-ticket.  In this illustrative plan I integrate these elements, along with some imagined ones.

Main Street: My hope here is that the big new Theater comes with full theme-ing and expansion of the back side of Main Street East - replacing the current landscaped backstage bypass with a fully on-stage early 20th C. urban environment.   This is no small task, so I'm very interested to see if the Company will commit to doing it.


Adventureland: Last month, WDWNewsToday presented a really cool WDI concept proposal booklet (on a podcast here) showing a 2000s-era E-ticket volcano thrill ride based on "Atlantis."  I added the basecamp and showbuilding inspired by those plans.  I used the entire showbuilding cone for the lava-spewing rockwork Volcano, though it would seem unlikely they would create a hugely expensive rockwork mountain on the same scale as Space Mountain, that would be all but invisible from inside the park (though the views from Seven Seas Lagoon and resorts would be stunning).


Fantasyland: In the many iterations of MK I've drawn, I always seem to replace IASW, both to make use of the land north of it, and because it doesn't mesh with the European Storybook aesthetic that I'd like to see replace the fiberglass Tournament Tents land-wide.   In this version, I thought that if the east side of FL is the rural forest, the west side serves as the more narrow and dense castle town.  The image of Notre Dame (here recreated in "theme-park scale") towering above the claustrophobic medieval streets would make a great impact.  Because the cathedral - that would serve as the awe-inspiring queue - is so large, the ride building could be on two levels, incorporating the thrill of movement from the sewers of the Paris to the belltower of Notre Dame.
 Also note that the largest and most dominant structures of medieval European towns or cities were typically the Cathedrals, which dwarfed even the castles and palaces.  The cathedral here also provides a gothic link between the Castle and the Haunted Mansion

Tomorrowland: We now know Tron Lightcycles will go behind Space Mountain, which will present a couple challenges with land- and park-integration.   My hope is the land will not continue to be a disharmonious mish-mash of Future Styles and completely un-related IP content.  Today we have 1. The original 1970s Space Age (now retro) style of Space Mountain, CoP and the Rear half of People Mover.  2. The Buck Rogers Deco-Tech style of the Avenue of Planets and Astro-orbitor.   3. The Toon elements of Buzz, Stitch and Monsters Inc.  4. The coming flowing, folded glass style of Tron.

In this plan, I've tried to take the latter style and apply it land-wide.  You'll notice the new entrance for Space Mountain and queue cover hovercar racers (a re-imagined raceway) and the replacement restaurants for the Terrace and Noodle Station all incorporate the twisting glass element.   Both of these restaurants feature waterfront seating and fireworks viewing.   Also borrowed from Shanghai is their nice E-Stage to replace MK's current eyesore (see above).  The now silver & blue rockwork at the entrance make an appearance on the raceway.   All the Deco-Tech fins and sharp geometric edges around the land are replaced by smooth, curving, circular elements. Waterfall towers could make a return.   Buzz, Stitch and especially Monsters Inc don't inhabit this New Vision, so all are replaced by more fitting attractions.

In Shanghai, The Tron Warehouse itself is visible
from the primary vistas behind the glass Cover, and it looms above the under-construction ToyStoryLand.  The hope for Orlando is that this can be mitigated by a lower, more obscured walkway approach in Tomorrowland and hopefully a berm and some tall, fast-growing trees on the Storybook Circus side.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Tokyo DL Idealized

Tokyo has broken ground on its new expansion, so I drew an Ideal Buildout version of how I would like to see the TDL park evolve:

STREETS OF AMERICA: World Bazaar is jettisoned in both name and body.  The building footprints are mostly unchanged, as is the entry plaza, but the giant cover is gone.  A horsedrawn trolley would join early motor vehicles on this new, curbed boulevard.  The main drag, St. Louis Ave, would reflect the late19th-C Victorian typical of Main Street USA, whereas the side-streets subtly change styles to distinct regional architecture as they transition to the two neighboring mini-lands.

In order to account for Tokyo's colder weather this entry land features two-story, glass-ceiling shopping arcades, including sky bridges over the side streets.  Paris' solution to inclement weather on a grander level.

In the Hub, Dumbo is imported for reasons explained further down.

NEW ORLEANS SQUARE: Moving clockwise, this area, featuring the Theater and PotC, mostly exists at present, but would be officially carved out of Adventureland as a distinct mini-land, much like Critter Country is to Westernland.  I added another retail/dining block to create the namesake square as well as the narrower New Orleans feel.

ADVENTURELAND: The very large Back of House building (costuming?) gets relocated to the new backstage area so that its footprint can become a needed thrill ride for the land.  Here I chose an original, non-IP Angkor Wat-based darkcoaster that ties in neatly with the nearby Jungle Cruise.   Needless to say, Stitch would no longer be a part of the Tiki Room.  Any static toon statuary (i.e. Up characters) plunked around the land also gets removed.

WESTERNLAND: The only changes reflect moves back to non-IP, non-toon versions of the Golden Horseshoe show and new Camp Woodchuck area.


NEW FANTASYLAND: Very heavy changes here.  First, the entire land is to reflect the Euro-Centric Disney Fairytale Style.  This means Dumbo moves to the Hub not only for thematic reasons (it's set in America) but also to allow parade viewing while adding a major feature (Pirate Ship queue, as conceptualized by Christopher Smith below) and new facades in front of Peter Pan's Flight. 

Continuing the idea of giving this land a more immersive(catchword alert) Fairytale environment, Small World is removed in favor of the Alice attraction that was planned at one point.  Both Philharmagic and Snow White's Scary Adventure get replaced by fully dimensional Storybook Village facades for new darkrides that fit the established theme.

The Haunted Mansion also gets a completely new exterior to take it out of America and give it a dark Loire Valley look that compliments Cinderella Castle (which also sees the return of the Mystery Tour).  Just as Phantom Manor tweaks the HM experience to reflect the Old West, this Haunted Chateau does so with a 19th century Europe setting.

The new plans for Tokyo's Fantasyland (Beauty & Beast area, Forest Theater) look great, and you'll find  them incorporated here.  The thing I would change however is the new thematic bleeding/bottleneck it will create: one will depart Old Fantasyland, arrive at a nub of Toontown and a nub of Tomorrowland (Terrace), then continue into a large, entirely new Fantasyland. 

Here, without any budget restrictions, I solve that issue by eliminating Toontown & Tomorrowland Terrace entirely and making it all part of one Mega Fantasyland.  The new anchor attraction is Flynn Rider Rapids (engineered to give the fun and thrill of a rapids ride without passengers getting wet) inspired by the Dam scene in the film.  Nearby is a modified version of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train that adds an extra show-scene taking place below the Rapids 'mountain.'   Combined, these two attractions also provide a critical arboreal and rockwork berm to insulate this corner of the park (mirroring Rivers of America).

Tremaine Manor replaces Tomorrowland Terrace, becoming a signature dining venue with seating overlooking the parade route on a raised patio as well as special fireworks viewing.

NEW TOMORROWLAND is also 90% changed from its current form, with only the waterfall spires at entry and the upper parts of Space Mountain remaining similar to what's there now.  The land is given a much sleeker and uniform aesthetic that allows fantasy Science Fiction to coexist next to real-world Futurism.  As an example of what I mean consider Space Mountain and Star Tours.  It's always bugged me that these nearby attractions (here in Tokyo as well as at other parks in Anaheim and Paris) are very similar in general function - spaceports for voyages through the galaxy - but totally different in execution and never make an attempt to acknowledge or reconcile with one another (AstroOrbitor could be lumped in this issue, as well).  Why are these totally different star ports in the same place?   Here I solve that, architecturally, by giving them complimenting entry facades buildings (each with unique interiors and stories, but connected in subtle ways) as they become Terminals Alpha & Brava in the same larger StarPort.  This connective tissue would also be included throughout the land's attractions (a SciFi version of S.E.A.).

Buzz is replaced by Guardians of the Galaxy family shooter darkride and Stitch becomes a seamless circlevision look at Japan in the 22nd Century.  A new peoplemover provides a relaxing elevated journey around the land with a look into and over most attractions.  The new anchor E-ticket is a cousin of Radiator Springs Racers but set in a sci-fi, intergalactic Grand Prix (original story & characters created for the park).

PIXAR PLACE: Like New Orleans Sq and Critter Country, this is a new mini-land built around an existing major ride.   Wall-E (in Tomorrowland) and Ratatouille restaurants could share kitchen facilites.  The shop facades are taken out of the Pixar films universe (e.g. Al's Toy Barn).


Friday, March 10, 2017

EPCOT Center

Drawing and discussing EPCOT Center is both bittersweet & therapeutic for me.  I was fortunate enough to have had my formative theme park experience take place during EPCOT Center's "Golden Age".  It was a place that inspired me and was probably the greatest, highest-aiming theme park ever produced.  In my estimation, EPCOT Center in its original form was made possible by two complex, now-lost factors: one inside the Company, the other outside.

The first was that Walt Disney Productions in the late 70s/early 80s was populated by a group of executives and designers who were True Believers in the School of Walt.   CEO Card Walker and Parks & Resorts chief Dick Nunis placed operating by Walt Disney's tenets (Innovation, Quality will Out, etc.) as the primary mission of the Company and ahead of executive or shareholder enrichment (or that the latter would arrive because of the former).  The Company was a lot smaller and leaner than today's massive conglomerate and could focus its energies on a few key endeavors.  

The Imagineers responsible for EPCOT Center were not creating Walt's original vision of an actual, working city of the future, but their decades with the Company and personal connection to the Disney Brothers made them well-versed in the principles behind that vision.  In many ways, the art of the theme park design has improved since those days.  However, theme parks are most often used today as a means to an end: that end being synergizing with or marketing some other type of saleable media with much higher margins or a built-in audience.  But EPCOT Center eschewed all of that.  It was the end in itself.

The second, outside factor that created EPCOT Center was the zeitgeist of the period: it probably only became clear in retrospect, but a renaissance in the American spirit & energy was underway that would manifest itself with the re-birth of the idea of American Exceptionalism and the high-times of the Reagan Years.   The blue chip corporations that would sponsor the various pavilions were still viewed with pride by the public and became important partners in EPCOT's earnest and patriotic vision of American innovation.  This collaboration was right up Walt's alley.  

Personally, EPCOT Center was the focal point of our family WDW vacations in the 80s and 90s, with MK becoming an afterthought.  The scale of the entire park was mind-blowing and the standard ride on display was characterized by being slow-moving, highly-detailed, lengthy, having a recorded-spiel; multi-media; multi-sensory; audio-animatronic-filled; intellectual; past-present-future-based; musical; optimistic; featuring no-IP.  This is type of attraction held particular appeal to my young self.  Some of my all time favorite E-tickets were in close proximity: Horizons, World of Motion, The Living Seas and Spaceship Earth, along with a favorite D-ticket: Maelstrom.   From this list you, can understand my sadness and bitterness about the evolution of the park.   Parks evolve... sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. 
It is the great attribute & drawback of the artform.

Suffice it to say, even though a significant amount of physical EPCOT Center still exists as it did in the Golden Age, somehow that original Spirit & Soul that made it my favorite park has been amputated (although vestiges can still be felt in small, overlooked corners such as the ascent scenes of Spaceship Earth).  This illustration shows my vision of EPCOT Unspoiled.  It is how, if history could be re-written, I might like to see EPCOT Center developed over its 35 year history:

The fountain hub of the park would be clean and uncluttered and put a heavy emphasis on Nature, framed by spare, monumental CommuniCore buildings.  The CommuniCore interactive displays, shows and exhibits could be regularly-updated by the Company and its partners to reflect a myriad of future developments in technology.

For me, if an attraction attains a certain level of excellence and Classic status (e.g. DL's Haunted Mansion, MGM's Tower of Terror, Paris' Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.) you can make some enhancements and technology upgrades, but you never mess with it too much - particularly when there are so many better options to create new audience attractors (i.e. in place of non-classics or expansion areas).  You need to keep what makes a great attraction, great.  Two EPCOT attractions in Future World East easily deserved this untouchable status but are now gone.  In my illustration they proudly endure.    

For me, the first cracks in the Company's approach to EPCOT Center appeared with the Wonders of Life icon. This is a small thing, but I've always wondered why its Vitruvian Man icon didn't match the simple but ingenious style of all the others of the park.  It seemed something was askew.  Regardless, this plan leaves out the Wonders of Life (maybe a future development) and moves its cabin simulator style ride across Future World.

Universe of Energy could get a completely new show 10 years after its 81 debut (sans Ellen).

I've never been a fan of the low, hexagonal architecture that marks Tomorrowland Terrace and the Odyssey Restaurant.  So it gets torn out for a natural arboretum featuring the flock of pink flamingos that once populated this area.


My initial thought in drawing this park was to put in the much more interesting-looking concept for a crystalline pavilion (above) with a balloon ride over various biomes in place of what became The Land.   Additionally, Soarin' has never fit the actual theme of The Land (Agriculture and the Environment), but I think if a dedicated aerial film were made over the earth's various biomes (e.g. Tundra, Boreal, Savanna, Rainforests, Deserts, etc.) as well as agricultural and damaged areas, then it would be a fitting substitute for the Balloon Ride.   The focus of the pre-show and ride film would need to be on the natural environment as opposed to human landmarks such as the Taj Mahal or Great Wall to make it work within the pavilion. 

Journey to Imagination goes back to its classic original form, with regular technology upgrades to the ride, ImageWorks and Magic Eye Theater.  No brainer.

The Living Seas also returns to its original, toon-free form.  From Seabase Alpha, much like Soarin' today, Guests could decide to queue through a bridge to a new simulator building for a semi-thrilling scientific expedition to the ocean depths.  One enters and exits the pavilion through Hydrolators once again.


 The first thing you may notice is that I left a number of Country Pads undeveloped.   I did this because I like greenspace in theme parks, and because with everything I've added, combined with live, cultural entertainment in each pavilion, EPCOT Center is already a multi-day park without filling up World Showcase.  While I didn't add big E-tickets such as Mt. Fuji or the Matterhorn as I have in past plans, each pavilion gets a D-ticket level attraction on the scale of American Adventure or Maelstrom.  

As in the Golden Age, there are no M&Gs or toons of any sort in this version of the Park, save for park-originated ones like Dreamfinder & Figment or perhaps the circling OmniBus of general characters.   EPCOT Center aims higher than being "a Disney Experience" as the Company defines it today, and as such, distinguishes itself from Magic Kingdom or the Studios.   I may eventually draw a version of the Coming Epcot, where each country features a ride based on the most closely-associated Disney-Pixar characters.  

Mexico: Reverts to a simpler time with El Rio losing its toons and the waterfront losing the current restaurant for the original small scale Cantina.

Norway: Maelstrom was easily the best ride in World Showcase for me (crushing its only competition, El Rio) and gave me that PotC feeling (AAs, cool environments, drop), but on a D-ticket, versus E-ticket scale.  I would have liked to see it altered to delete the Theater (move the film to the queue) in favor of an additional show scene.  

China: While it would look the same from the outside, I opted to change out the CircleVision theater (maybe for the 25th Anniversary of the park) and adapt its queue to a new darkride that examines China's history and landscapes in the stylized storybook view of a Panda named Pagoo.  This would be another park-originated character like Figment.

Russia: Since sub-Sahara Africa is well-represented in Harambe, I opted for the Russia pavilion, as designed by WDI, for the only new country.  It has a multi-media show similar to American Adventure, dining & cultural venues and a C-ticket darkride based on a Russian folk-tale.  This Pavilion could come online in 2010.

Germany: Again, I added the intended-but-never-built Rhine River Cruise.  I have tried to vary the show mechanisms (e.g. small flume, omnimover, boatride, darkride) for each of these proposed additions so that one style doesn't become overly represented.   Ride added to the pavilion in 1995.

Italy: The rear of the pavilion loses the pizza restaurant in favor of a roman facade that leads to a suspended darkride (DaVinci?) that showcases some major eras of Italian history (Etruscans, Roman Empire, Renaissance, Papal States, etc.).  The height of the showbuilding is masked by a reproduction of the dilapidated Coliseum (akin to France's Eiffel Tower).  Ride added in 2015.

American Adventure: Added restrooms gone in favor of old herb garden.

Japan: Japan currently beats out the Tangled Bathrooms for "Coolest Facade with No Attraction Behind It".  Here, I assigned a darkride that looks at the Shogun/Samurai period of Japanese history.  Ride added in alt-universe 1993.

Morocco is a brilliantly-rendered environment and in this version of EPCOT gets a darkride to accompany it.  The ride would look at the North African desert culture and folklore.  Ride added in 2012.  Also, the waterfront is returned to its original form with irrigated citrus grove.

France: France gets a boat ride that takes riders into the famous Catacombs of Paris to have encounters with some literary characters and moments made famous by Victor Hugo.  Ride added in 2000.

United Kingdom:  A large showbuilding disguised as the Crystal Palace hold an American Adventure style show on the long and varied history of Great Britain.  Ride added in 1997.

Canada:  Once it finishes its 12-year run, the original CircleVision theater would be replaced with a small-drop-flume that mirrors Maelstrom, re-adapting the rockwork and waterfalls out front.

Again, these additions and changes would take place steadily over 35+ years, so the park would constantly feel like it is growing and improving with age. 


MAP OF THE MONTH CLUB: If you have any inkling to support the work you've seen on this site, consider it art, want to see the details not visible in the online versions, and/or want more maps made available in the future, you may consider buying a canvas print for $50 (not including printing & shipping, which can add quite a bit (at least $30 (discounted) to print an 11'x14' canvas)).  

 Printing on canvas gives a nice painterly/watercolor effect to the plans, forgoes any need for framing, and the larger sizes (11x14, 16x20) show a good amount of the minute detail I put into each.  Each month, there will be a new map released and I may also be open to releasing some maps of the last year or so (going back, but not prior, to this post) for purchase.   Email (at left under About Me) for orders or inquiries. 

Here's an unboxing video of this Month's map:

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Freeflow Design: DisneySpires (Concluded)

I'm back a little sooner than expected with Part II of this exercise.  You can find Part I here

The large Star Wars land featured here is inspired by the numerous pieces of glorious concept art for the under-construction land(s) - particularly the earlier pieces that showed saucers embedded in the upper-reaches of the giant rock spires.  Having just seen 'Rogue One' last month (and having loved it), I wanted to bring Star Wars into the park.   The real-world SW land is physically all about natural spires, so it would make sense to include it here.

In an ideal world, rather than clones, I'd like to see each park that gets a Star Wars Land get its own unique planet environment, one not featured in the movies (i.e., Orlando and Florida get two new, distinct planets/lands).  So I do somewhat regret drawing a 3rd version of that verdant, rock-spired outpost here.

While the style and feel of the land is based on what is being built, the attractions here are not.  One section of the land is dedicated to the Dark Side where the E-ticket ride gives guests the viewpoint of being part of the Empire(or First Order).  At the opposite end of the land is the Rebellion(or Resistance) Side where the 2nd E-ticket ride is located.   Between these factions are the more independent, diverse areas, with features such as a spacer Cantina, a dinner show featuring AA alien acts and a Bounty Hunter walkthrough-meets-shooting gallery.


 This is a mini-land, on the same scale and vein as Mystic Point.  Blackwater Manor is the next-gen Haunted Mansion for the park.  Its exterior is that of a 1880s Gilded Age seaside manor in the Shingle Style.  Its master, Cpt. Edmund Blackwater III had some villainous but wealthy pirates as forebearers, who now haunt its hallways.  It gives the classic Haunted Mansion a nautical flavor, just as Phantom Manor gave it an Old West one.  The caretaker's house has been converted to an eatery.


 Medieval China, like Renaissance Italy, is a rich source to mine for theme parks for which the surface has only been scratched (e.g., the recent Tea House in SDL).  The land is built around a large-scale flume attraction, Yulong Mountain, which I imagine could take on the more-realistic, adventurous tone of a PotC (versus a Splash Mountain).  Balancing it, I envisioned a D-ticket musical darkride that could be original in nature or incorporate the animated feature Mulan.  Dragon Boats are another attraction in this land that give passengers and tour around the perimeter of the park's lagoon.

The majority of this land's dining & retail take place in a building designed to feel like a chaotic Chinese market, with a series of winding indoor streets under invisible glass roofs (like DLP's original Adventureland Bazaar).  Numerous food stalls and merchants would be held within, creating the authentic feel of historic streets and alleyways.


The entirety of the park is designed around a very large, elaborate, SFX-filled lagoon theatrical experience.   There could be a major day show, a major night show and intermittent, smaller-scale, Bellagio-like shows, featuring only music and dancing fountains.   

Hundreds of water fountains/canons would be on a WOC like platform below the lagoon's surface (Dragon Boats hug the coastline for this reason).  The rocky center island contains animated SFX apparatus and powerful spotlights.  Rockwork and buildings around the lagoon's edge hide more show equipment which would automatically rise into position for showtime, as in DisneySea or EPCOT.    

The Great Spires themselves are integrated into the show, as the image above shows.  The backstories to the lands can also be integrated. Viewers in each section would have a different show experience and represent a different faction in this 360 degree extravaganza: the climax of a day at the park.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Freeflow Design: DisneySpires (Part One)

Laying out a theme park can be a left-brain, technical process.  I find a more enjoyable approach is to use the right-brain and 'freeflow', painting a site plan like an artist might paint a landscape.  A park plan created through freeflow, rather than being a mechanical assemblage of pre-designated parts (attractions/lands) more easily turns out to be a natural, cohesive whole. 

This is a current example of that process (I'm about 2/3 through it).  I began with one idea: A park with a castle overlooking a very large lake or coastal bay, sitting atop a rocky point (an iconic fantasy image) and that this castle should be at the front of the park, so that the view from a resort hotel on the far banks - or from passing/approaching ships - is of the great, full-scale fantasy citadel dominating the coastline.  

I didn't give too much thought to what I wanted to include in the rest of the park, or what the over-arching theme might be until after that entry area had been drawn.  I just drafted counter clockwise, land by land, letting the park unveil itself to my imagination.  Even now, I could go any number of different paths for the final lands.  I decided to make it a 'Disney' park because I find it helpful to include real-world reference points in parks that will exist solely in the imagination.

Some long-time readers may recall the "Forgotten/Lost Portal" parks I have conceived & drawn.  The idea is, like the existing Castle Parks, to provide a loose umbrella theme under which one can include anything one can imagine.  This ends up being a blend of the Lost Portal and the classic castle parks.  I call it 'DisneySpires'.  Each land will be marked by a central, tall, iconic structure.  The Spires and the lands themselves will be woven into the cental lagoon show, especially the end-of-day spectacular, and a connective thread can be sewn throughout the park this way.  


Castleton, the entry land to the park, is another name for fantasyland.  Of the myriad potential of themes, there are handful that have been built really well, multiple times (e.g., 1920s pulp adventure, the American Western, and Storybook Fantasy).  When I draw parks, I like to avoid things that have been done already and put in themes that have only been built well once or twice (or better yet, never).   But here I hypocritically go against that guideline and include the quintessential disney land, though in a unique form.  One enters asymmetric, 'narrow' village streets of half-timber shops, eateries & facilities, all the while seeing the massive citadel looming above. 

The citadel itself is a multi-attraction facility, housing a signature restaurant, show-scenes for the 'Once Upon a River Adventure' and elaborate walkthrough/exploration areas: Dungeons, Dragon Lair, Throne Room, Armory, Chapel, Wizard's Workshop, Royal Apartments, Griffin Roost, etc.).  The citadel features one tower taller than all the rest and that is this realm's Spire. 

There was once a site on the web dedicated to a ride concept called "Mr. Toad's Motor Mania."  I'd link it, but it appears to have been taken down by its creator.  The artwork on that site inspired this attraction.  The queue winds through the various rooms of Toad Hall, before emerging to the Carriage House where boarding takes place.  This is a 21st Century Autopia wherein riders have some degree of control over their motorcars' speed and steering, but computers & LPS technology keep them on the track, avoiding collisions and moving along, as well as triggering effects as the vehicles pass through an English Village, abandoned castle, train tunnel, etc..

Another walkthrough attraction is the ancient oak grove which features, fountains, games and a character meet & Greet at each of the massive hollowed out trunks of an ancient grove of giant oak trees.


Renaissance is a history-based theme that has been done wonderfully-well one time - at DisneySea, and this would be its sister land.  The aesthetic is a 1500s Mediterranean port, with a fortress-like guildhall guarding the entrance and a very large carrack docked nearby to explore.  There is a DaVinci Flying Machine aerial spinner.   the massive show-building, disguised as the port's buildings and ramparts, houses a 15-minute long, AA-based, multi-media omnimover, "the Age of Discovery", which could cover the rise, fall and re-rise of Western Civilization, concluding with the flowering of the Renaissance and the Discovery of the New World.

My happy place with respect to theme parks is late 1980s to mid 1990s EPCOT Center Future World, with its great series of omnimoving edutainment attractions (Horizons, World of Motion, Spaceship Earth, Living Seas were my four go-tos).  Combining a variety of types of presentation in each ride, great music & narration and an inspirational tone, these attractions awed and left an imprint on a young me like no ride has since.   So I wanted to include an attraction of this style in the park.

This land's spire is a massive campanile/lighthouse marking the anchor attraction.  There would also be a theme-appropriate animated diorama for the train that passes behind this land.


The second idea that generated this park concept (after the castle-on-a-cliff) was my desire to illustrate plans for a pulp adventure-based coaster.  Big Thunder Mountain is the quintessential themed coaster and I wanted to draw (and probably will in the future) attraction-level art for its equivalent in the pulp adventure versus old-west style.  Having just listened to the original audiobook for King's Solomon's Mines, that classic book became the theme for the attraction.

There are some different interpretations of the locale of this mythical place, but I went with that of Nubia, just beyond the edge of the Ancient Egyptian Upper Kingdom(modern Sudan).  This location would also allow other parts of the land to reflect a geography/culture that is more commonly depicted (that of Thebes, Memphis, etc.) in pop culture.  King Solomon's Mines loosely interprets the book's story and locales with many of the landmarks and characters present - entered through the native village kraal, past the villains plotting, including an AA witch Gagool, the silent watchers, sprung booby traps, etc.   The coaster would be a train of ancient mining carts through the diamond caverns and burial chambers, often going outside and hugging terrain as the track dips and twists around the rocky African landscape. 

Continuing the northeast Nubian aesthetic is the central explore zone, akin to Camp Jurassic or Tom Sawyer Island.  Book-ending these wilds are the more urban parts of this extensive land.  The area to the east (near Porto) represents Egypt of the 1880s-1920s (train station) and could house major dining and a theatrical attraction.  At the top of the park, marked by this land's spire -an enormous obelisk - is a Pharaoh's palace area that goes back in time to Ancient Egypt and features the land's 2nd E-ticket.  Here I'm imagining an elaborate shooter based on the Egyptian Pantheon (borrowing a title from the 2016 movie).   

I will conclude this park in a few weeks time.  Happy New Year! I wish all readers good luck, health and happiness in 2017!