Sunday, November 29, 2020

Memorial Tribute to Alain Littaye

     Among the disproportionate woes of this year was the sudden and unexpected passing of Alain Littaye last March.   Co-author of the quintessential theme park design coffee table book (Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality), Alain selflessly and passionately ran the multiple Disney & More sites for many years, curating collections of rare artwork, shining a light on designers who would have otherwise gone unrecognized and generally helping educate the world on the art of theme parks.  The discovery of his site helped stoke & maintain my interest in the art and design of parks and, thus, this blog.  I maintained an ongoing correspondence with Alain over the years, and he was always enthusiastic & gracious.  I miss him and his work.  I know he appreciated the Concept Plans I share here, often promoting them on his pages, so I've decided to dust off the tablet and post a new Illustrative Map in his honor.  This one's for you, Alain!


IMPORTANT NOTE: Migration to Twitter.  I'm going to try to move my content & engagement over to Twitter.  If I can get a following there, then I'll be posting a lot more content, including bringing back some long-lost park drawings.  So go to the Ideal Buildout twitter account, here, to see a wider resort plan image of this project.  If you don't have twitter, sign up (it's easy) then Follow, Like, Comment or Retweet the posts you find on my account.  Once this drawing gets some traction on twitter, I'll present the next part of this Park Map.



    This plan is one of a number of Second Gates for Hong Kong that I drew several years ago.  The recent news that HKDL lost its exclusive option to develop the full 2-park resort was very disappointing for me.   Though many years away, the resort's beautiful location, excellent master-plan and Goldilocks size meant that the once-inevitable build-out of a 2nd theme park, a Dining & Entertainment district and additional resorts, gave the promise of a very bright future.   For me, it was/is the one of the few major themed resorts whose best days are ahead of it rather than behind.   Unfortunately, that long-term hope & promise for a full resort appears to be lost.  Fingers crossed that HKDL can re-acquire the development rights and the powers that be at that time decide to build a spectacular 2nd theme park.


    From the beginning, the beautifully-landscaped promenade that runs from the Ferry Docks to the Train Station was earmarked for a Retail, Dining & Entertainment District.  To be honest, it looks so good now as a natural walkway, that I think it would be better to leave it as a manicured gardenwalk.   In my plan, however, you can see it filled out as the planned entertianment area.  Realistically, the style would be typical "entertainment/modern/eclectic" similar to DTD, CityWalk or Disney Springs, though my personal preference is always for a more history-based, detailed RDE district.


    As in most the DisneySea variants I've drawn, an Aquasphere modeled on Toyko marks the entrance/ticketing area of the park.



    I think it is fitting that opposite the west side's American Main Street and European castle, the eastern park entrance and spine is themed to China's romanticized past.  This provides a layered duality reflecting the nature of Hong Kong city itself (China and the Western world).  The area would ostensibly be an old Chinese port town, and across its bay would be the park's iconic centerpiece: Mountains and temple/pagoda complex - an Asian cousin to Tokyo DisneySea's Mt Prometheus and Fortress Explorations.  There is a large junk to mirror the galleon in TDS.


    The vast mountain complex would contain two major E-tickets.  The first would be a "speed sled" experience (i.e., TestTrack, JttCotE) with show scenes and animatronic creatures.  The second I based on a concept I've seen for a Monkey Kingdom park by Luc Steadman: it is a Kuka ride (like Forbidden Journey) with an entrance/exterior marked by a large tree sprouting out of unusual rock formations.

    Flat rides in pagodas, a major Mulan darkride and large theater venue, as well as numerous unique retail & dining experiences, round out the Port.



  One thing that kept me interested in global theme parks was/is the unique application of a land or attraction for a different locale: e.g. Magic Kingdom's Frontierland vs. Paris' version.   I find it disappointing whenever there is a direct Copy & Paste job, particularly in the same country.    Ideally, each Star Wars Land around the world would get a unique setting, inhabitants and set of attractions.   I'm completely onboard and appreciative of WDI's choice to invent a beautiful new world (Batuu) in the SW universe to explore, rather than recreating well-known film locale(s).   However, I feel it was a huge mistake not to set the land in the timeless Original Trilogy Era, or at least not hamstring the land exclusively to the Sequel Trilogy.

    For this park plan, the unique Star Wars port of call is set on a tropical Ocean Moon in the Outer Rim (to help tie it to the park's Sea theme), where there are alien rock formations cradling an eclectic Space Port (different-looking, but similar in principle to Batuu) inhabited by Aliens, Droids, Rebels, Imperials, Bounty Hunters, Smugglers, etc..  As noted, it is set during the Original Era (+/- 10 years from Episode IV: A New Hope), with all ships, costumes, characters and original ride stories reflecting that.  


    One enters this Port from the Chinese Harbor through a 'cavern' that hides a backstage service bridge.  Upon exiting the cavern, looming above and dominating the land is an actual-sized Hammerhead Corvette, made famous as the ship-type that rammed the Star Destroyer in 'Rogue One' (which happens to be my favorite Star Wars movie).  This monumental starship houses part of the queue & pre-show for one of the two E-ticket rides in the land: Secrets of the Sith.  This darkride/sets/AAs type attraction would involve an original story as guests board submersible vehicles to help uncover a secret Sith temple hidden at the bottom of the Moon's sea. 


    With one major attraction dedicated to Sith/Jedi conflict, the other is dedicated to the broader war/rebellion.  Blue Squadron allows visitors to pilot their choice of Rebel Ships (A-Wing, X-Wing, Y-Wing, B-Wing, U-Wing, The Ghost) in various battles with Imperial or other nefarious forces above the Moon's seas or in space.  The other two rides in the land include a Starjets-like spinner and a relaxing Peoplemover that gives an overhead tour of the land.  

   Non-ride attractions include a Stormtrooper Academy that is a walk-through shooting gallery with blaster rifles, a Droid forge, and a Bounty Hunter Guildhall.  Dining options include a Speakeasy run by the Hutt Clan with animated Jabba-like creature, a Cantina with AA band and a more formal Stardome restaurant with ceiling projections of ships coming and going.   There is also a Bazaar/Marketplace with many shops and foods stalls and the Peoplemover moving along its upper levels. 



   This port is the only carryover from the extant DisneySea in Tokyo, though with unique attractions and features.  The area maintains a similar exterior style to Tokyo's: undulating shell-like rock formations/spires and it has an indoor section, Triton's Kingdom, where the table-service restaurant and major Little Mermaid ride can be found, as well as some retail and flat rides. 

   The anchor ride is the LPS conceptualized for the Magic Kingdom a while ago (see below):

   This port goes beyond The Little Mermaid and has a Neverland section featuring a suspended darkride with an original adventure following Peter Pan and the Neverland Mermaids.

  Hong Kong's official masterplan had a buffer zone between the actual waterfront and the 2nd Gate plot, to be filled with hotels or back-of-house.   In my plan, a large part of the On-Show area 2nd Gate abuts the waterfront (as Tokyo does) to provide unique, open Hong Kong harbor views.


   This is a different and expansive take on the Caribbean Pirate-themed port, anchored by the massive Skull Mountain flume super-E-ticket that was first teased by Tim Delaney for Hong Kong Disneyland expansion (before getting replaced by the three mini-lands).  Skull Mountain is a very long indoor-outdoor attraction that makes use of many AAs, sets and physical effects - a scary Splash Mountain on steroids.  I imagine it being independent of the films, though it could easily inhabit that world.  There are multiple lifts and drops through elaborate show-scenes, some musical and amusing, others dark, gruesome and intimidating, before culminating in the biggest drop out of the skull's mouth under the main path and queue and through a shipwreck.  

   The outdoor portion of the flume wends through and around La Citadelle, a ruined French fort  that is an explore zone akin to Fortress Explorations or Tom Sawyer Island, with various activities such as zip lines, cannon batteries, haunted dungeons, a Voodoo chamber, etc.   Log flume would visible from several lower dungeon rooms & passages.  At the edge of the Citadelle and the park, overlooking Hong Kong harbor is an exclusive table-service restaurant with outdoor tower sections providing panoramic views in and out of the park.


   One can explore the Black Pearl pirate ship, which also takes part in a major Stunt Battle in the Cove Amphitheater several times each day.   The Cove is rigged with numerous submerged special effects (water cannons, fire/explosions, whirlpool, Kraken, etc.) for this spectacle, and scores of stunt actors partake as hero pirates (here one may find film characters, such as Jack Sparrow, Barbossa, etc.), villainous  pirates and the Crowns' (French, Spanish or British) naval forces.

 The Village and its Marketplace feature unique shops, dining & entertainment (fortune tellers, blacksmiths, woodcarvers, etc.).  The 2nd big ride in the Port features a wrap-around screen to take Privateers on adventures not possible with physical sets (see the design illustration above).

  As with the previous Port, I used the land slotted for future waterfront hotels to make a larger 2nd Gate and visually connect the Sea-themed park to the actual sea a stone's throw away.


   The final port in the plan is themed to India.  This largest port has three distinct environments: (1) a densely-built, bustling cityscape; (2) a manicured and opulent royal gardens & palace (hotel); and (3) natural areas reclaimed by the tropical forest.


   Because this DisneySea took up several of the originally-planned hotel parcels on the Hong Kong property, I wanted to include a luxury resort that linked the park's interior with the harbor waterfront.  India's numerous Maharajahs' palaces lend themselves well to an out-sized Disney-style luxury resort, and I considered the Umaid Bhawan Palace (see above) as a major inspiration for massing and architecture of this one.   It would make an impressive and beautiful landmark from both within the park and from the water and would feature an open, 5+ story lobby, gardens, and extraordinary detail & craftsmanship from the turrets to the toiletries.

 Back in the park: the urban district, with its distinct domes and stacked flat-roofed mud & brick buildings, features narrower alleyways filled with sights, sounds, scents and entertaining denizens one might find in a romanticized city of India.  Attractions include a Theater for major productions, a large family-boatride based on India's mythology, and - discovered by queuing through a forest and into a cavern - a ride based on Disney's Jungle Book. 


  The hectic, exciting environment of the City is contrasted by the soothing, open lawns, flower beds and fountains of the Mughal Gardens with the giant Maharajah Palace hotel and its great dome looming majestically beyond.   The Gardens and the crossroads island above it are good places to stroll, relax, sit on a bench, get-away from the hustle, etc.  I'm a big believer in the 'Park' aspect of Theme Parks.   

  Rested and ready for excitement, the last major feature of the land is a large E-ticket coaster with places guests in runaway mine-trains through an archeological excavation site of four Indian temples that were reclaimed by the jungle and lost for centuries.  While the theme is similar to Temple du Peril, this is a much larger and more elaborate coaster attraction with multiple lifts, numerous show aspects (e.g., AA animals like tigers) and zippy terrain-following sections coupled with some scaffolding track around the temple ruins.


  Hoping you enjoyed this In Memoriam drawing in honor of Alain.  And I hope that something spectacular, ambitious and well-executed is built on the empty 2nd Gate plot, and that it complements the existing HKDL park and resort.

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