Saturday, May 1, 2021

Fifth Gate - Mythica Revisited

When imagining a fifth theme park, I typically use it as an occasion to address several problems that I see at WDW.

Problem 1: Overdevelopment of WDW & Orlando - Sprawl at the expense of greenspace.

    When you recall (or see photos/video of, particularly aerials) WDW and its immediate surroundings from the 1980s, un- or lightly-developed land stretched in every direction to the far horizon.  This insulating factor was an absolute key to making the place feel like a world apart.  For me, WDW began feeling overdeveloped when things like the sprawling Value Resorts, the Town of Celebration, Wide World of Sports, etc., came into being in the 1990s.   That was decades ago.  Since then, rampant, unchecked development inside and outside WDW has snowballed, most of it is very, very average American suburban sprawl.  Today, most elevated vistas are filled with development, near & far.  The famous Walt Disney quote about the "blessing of size" and a place "that can hold all the ideas & plans we can possibly imagine" is sadly no longer applicable.
    Because of this, most of the Fifth Gate park plans I've imagined and drawn for WDW replace an existing development, usually areas where unremarkable hotels stand.  In these wishful-thinking scenarios, I like to incorporate properties not technically part of WDW but touching on the bubble: e.g the Bonnet Creek hotels; the Waldorf and its neighbor; the Grand Cypress golf club; Celebration; or in this case, the Official WDW Hotel Plaza and Hyatt Regency north of Disney Springs.

Problem 2: Eyesore Hotel Buildings.
    Replacing a cacophony of 1970s hotel mid-rises with a forested greenbelt and the visual icons of a top tier theme park is a win-win.  Idealbuildout parks are designed to inspire awe from both within and without the park - no un-themed backsides of mountain ranges or giant showbuildings would be overly-conspicuous, even from outside the parks.  Beautiful & monumental 360-degree landmarks are the best kind of advertising billboards. 


Problem 3: All parks trending towards IP.  

    The parks are on a steady path from Theme Parks to IP Parks, where guests experience a random assortment of popular films in person and ride the movies, without overall rhyme or reason.  While not fully homogenized yet, they've been inching closer every year.  WDW was never better than when each of its parks felt like a completely unique experience.   In my opinion, the parks should take their original dedication statements to heart.  
    This fifth gate bucks the trend by eschewing IP.  The source material here is World Mythology that has already been adapted into countless films, but all the art direction and attraction/character design here would be originated for the park.  New slants.  That said, if one were inclined to have Disney IP, it is easy to imagine switching out attraction content throughout this park for its film-based interpretation. 


Problem 4: Less focus on Edutainment - a staple of classic parks.

    Going hand in hand with the above (no IP), a truly great theme park doesn't just entertain & divert, it illuminates and inspires.  I think this fifth gate can garner its own unique identity by taking a different approach to edutainment than EPCOT does (did), focusing on experiencing Worldwide Myths & Legends firsthand.  Via atmospheric rides & heart-pounding thrills, as well as walkthroughs and shows, the park's aim is to educate without the visitor even realizing it.  Passive infotainment.   This works via architecture (well-researched and executed recreations of historic buildings, though still romanticized and theatricized) and queue props, details & displays, pre-shows, pre-recorded spiels, etc.  Nothing should feel like an academic lecture, but for those who want to look deeper, the details and story elements should stand up to scrutiny.  Plenty of great attractions that most do not consider edutainment still contain aspects of history, culture and knowledge (thus providing illumination) in their execution and such would be the case here (things like Dinosaur, Tom Sawyer Island, Fortress Explorations, the new TDS Soarin' queue are a few examples).


    The first land is based on myths & folklore from the British Isles and contains the most 'modern' areas of the park in terms of theme (19th century), as well as the new deluxe in-park hotel.  It has three sub-areas.  The entry area is a welcoming, charming English country town inspired by places like Chester, with its assorted old buildings, shopping, dining and services.  The central landmark wonder of this sub-area is a hill inspired by Stonehenge.  


   Crossing a bridge to the left is the grander, more urban section based on Victorian Oxford and Cambridge, with the sprawling gothic Royal Oxbridge Hotel sits with its countless spires and chimneys.  There is a large darkride here set in a lord's manor house and a SFX theatrical show set in a building inspired by the Radcliffe Camera.

    On the opposite side of Cheshire, visitors go back to England's medieval times & legends.  There is a Sherwood Forest explore zone and a major attraction marked by the tall towers of Camelot castle.  This is an elaborate indoor atmospheric boatride that explores the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

   There is viewing for the nightly lagoon spectacular where myths & legends from different cultures have an epic battle on the water via lasers, fireworks, projections, floats, submerged watercannons, etc.




In a theme park based on world mythology, Ancient Greek mythology would get  a major presence.   


Rising above the center of the park, a rocky mount topped with a temple complex is inspired by the Acropolis.  Reached via an inclined path, it features walkthrough experiences and a dining venue with elevated lagoon views.   In the cavern below the Acropolis a monstrous AA hydra threatens boat passengers traversing the lagoon.

The famous Minotaur's Labyrinth may be experienced in this land via a maze and darkride where riders try to escape alive from the pursuing half-bull monster.  A sunken theater hosts live shows.  The land features a couple spinner B-tickets.   The E+-ticket here is a giant flume mountain, with numerous show scenes, animatronics and special FX bringing to life the pantheon of Olympian gods, demi-gods & heroes of classical mythology. 


The park's Chinese myth-based land.  There is a grand imperial palace complex modeled on the ancient seats of the Chinese emperors.   A mountain-based spinning coaster, a major kuka-based attraction (see art below) and a junk version of Aquatopia round out the areas rides.   Walkthrough attractions supplement.

This large, central land contains some of the park's most important landmarks or weenies.   The very tall Pharos or Lighthouse of Alexandria would serve as the park's castle.  It would feature explorable rooms across multiple levels, as would the Great Library complex nearby.  The Library has a dining element, as well.  All such "explore zones" in this park are not just static museum exhibits or playgrounds: they feature memorable elements, such as special fx/projections, triggered audio narration, secret doors and passageways and interactive features & puzzles, as you might find in Fortress Explorations or games such as Jewels of the Seven Seas or Uncharted. 


Naturally, a land themed to Egypt would get a monumental attraction housed in the Pyramids of Giza and based on the legends hidden in the depths of those wonders.  In this case, a darkride/coaster hybrid is the ride system.  The Sphinx also houses a major attraction, featuring scarab like vehicles and the Egyptian pantheon of gods.   The land features a dense, urban network of flat-roofed dwellings, shops and quick dining.  Streetmosphere also. 

Passing under an archway, visitors transition from the dusty, clay-brick streets of Memphis to wood and thatch viking villages scattered among dark nordic forests.  The land brings Norse mythology to life so people can learn what inspired things like the popular MCU characters.   A central landmark World Tree is also a swing ride.  There is a terrain coaster through and around snowy, mountainous terrain, at a similar scale to Big Thunder.  A vertical drop dark ride rises in a far corner of the land.



This drawing leaves some area for future lands.  My initial thoughts are for an Atlantean area to connect Helios and Aegyptus.   I think a Mayan or Aztec inspired mythology would work well in the far western forested area.


Friday, April 16, 2021

A New Port for Hong Kong DisneySea

 I'll sometimes swap out lands and attractions in concept plans, and in this case I imagined that a Pacific Islands themed port, based mostly on Moana, would be a fun alternative to the Mermaid Lagoon port that had been done once in Tokyo.  

There are similarities with the previous port (Mermaid) in that there is a kiddie coaster (re-themed to a coconut grove) and a character-based spinner outside (re-themed to the pig and chicken from the film).  And a large indoor space: I imagined a network of torch-lit caverns under the mountains (as seen in 'Moana', where she discovers the ancestors' canoes) that houses some retail, dining, restrooms, etc.   There is also a major attraction found in the caverns: an outrigger canoe simulator (mini-domes)  with water-effects that take riders across the wild ocean to mythic locales.


Built atop of the cavern amid the lush peaks of Motunui (and Hong Kong) is a rapids ride.   A  waterfront-dining venue based on the chief's huts rounds out the features of this port.

The former Peter Pan Mermaid ride becomes a Peter Pan Pirate ride and joins the port of Buccaneer Bay 


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Shanghai: The Hotel at the Gate

This is one a few Shanghai drawings in which I look at filling the hotel pad near the park's entrance.




The most important consideration for a hotel is that it enhances resort-wide and in-park vistas.  It needs to be On Show from almost all angles and elicit wonder and delight in passerbys as well as hotel guests.  This is what the great hotels do so well (e.g., MiraCosta, DLP Hotel). 

Where the hotel would impact the park the most, visually, is in the adjacent Adventure Isle and very wide vistas from north Treasure Cove.   While I also added a forested berm to hide the back workings of Adventure Isle, the hotel's taller parts, like its many parapet towers, could likely be glimpsed from the park.   But such visual intrusions add a unique, surprisingly-appealing, mystique to theme parks that I've grown to appreciate (it's the back-stage & non-show intrusions I decry).


Another consideration is that, connecting to the Entry Plaza/Mickey Ave, that a hotel tie in with that area too.   Mickey Avenue is generally eclectic American, early 20th C..   Adventure Isle is exotic.  So the hotel should be Exotic/American early 20th/late 19th.  Here I settled on Spanish/Moorish revival as both American and Exotic and created an enlarged riff on the magnificent Ponce de Leon hotel of St. Augustine in a similar way to how the Grand Floridian riffs on the Del Coronado.


The hotel would feature all the rich and magnificent detailwork, both inside and out.  Manicured grounds feature winding pathways, garden courtyards and a large Fountain of Youth central pool complex.  


The only change here is to add a dedicated M&G space in order to remove the temp-looking Meet Mickey tent from Gardens of Imagination


One of the things I most appreciate about this land is that the majority of it is IP-free and was invented for the park, something which has become almost unheard of at today's Disney.   My plan uses the last, small expansion pad to continue the story & placemaking of the Arbori People by adding a top-spin, heavily-themed as an ancient Arbori temple/machine.



This plan aims to fill in a lot of SDL's interior picnic lawns with on-show content.  Here, two of them get converted into a 2nd pirate village area with walkthrough attraction, bar/dining and a shooting gallery.


Looking at the overall plan of SDL, the large expansion area behind Seven Dwarfs Mine Train should have been saved for a tall mountain attraction, because the vista from the castle of the foothills (SDMT) in the foreground and the tall peaks rising behind them would have been sensational.  I've seen an early official plan where Everest was a placeholder back there.  We'll see how the Zootopia vistas are.


  In this plan an original E-ticket coaster called Jade Mountain anchors a land themed to Chinese myths and legends.   There is a family boat ride and a spinner as well as retail and dining.


The big new addition here is SDL's haunted house attraction.  As Mystic Manor did for HKDL, this is a new concept - but still accessible and musical - for the staple Disney attraction.   The attraction is reached by queueing up a ridge and across a rope bridge over the main pathway towards the decaying castle. 



  I added an Old Mill Ferris wheel B-ticket to fill in some of the empty picnic lawn space.  Smaller changes include a full-size Dwarfs Cottage for the mine train (the existing gray screen mini cottage is not as effective as WDW's full version with witch) and adding castle ramparts & crenellation to the upper levels of the show-buildings on the western village side.   All the other Fantasylands do this to effectively disguise the showbuildings as castle ramparts, whereas Shanghai - perplexingly - broke with precedent and themed the upper buildings as large 'fairytale warehouses'(?).


Replacing Toy Story Land is a unique Star Wars miniland set on its own planet with original attractions and features.  Timeline is Original Trilogy.   Falcon is a walk-through.  Darth Vader is the antagonist for the set- & AA-based based shooter LPS ride.



East of the pathway are more rides and features to fill in the empty areas of the park.    The major addition to the land is a freefall darkride based on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout.  It's hard for me to square DCA's Tower of Terror building with the GotG overlay at DCA, so I think I would appreciate the attraction much more this with a custom, original landmark tower that feels like GotG and also complements the existing Tomorrowland style.


Sunday, March 7, 2021

Parallel TDL

  Here is a version of TDL I drew before the recently completed changes.   



  World Bazaar is transformed into a romanticized, open-air urban boulevard.  For variety's sake, this land is slightly different from a typical Main Street USA: a little taller and a little more grandiose.  The added height (rather than being faux 2-3 stories, it would be faux 3-5 stories) gives it a bit more urban feel of an Eastern city (Boston, Philly, New York) at the height of the Gilded Age (1890s).   Indoor cover is provided by 2-storey arcades in all four quadrants.  


  The central plaza is transformed to accommodate the horse trolley and a new castle stage and approach, as seen in this Erik Van der Palen concept:



   This is just carving out the existing sub-section of Adventureland and changing the name for symmetry purposes (you'll see in Part 2).



   Here the costuming building gets replaced with a mountain ride inspired by some more Van der Palen concept art:



No real change here except to not include the duck camp.  


A perfectly-done miniland as is, so no changes.


No major changes.

   This area is based on the aerial birdseye art that pre-dated the actual New Fantasyland project.    Live character shows are popular in Tokyo, so the current Philharmagic Theater gets repurposed.  The new castle forecourt stage would also host outdoor musical performances.  Of course, the original Castle Mystery Tour is back and all the 70s Tournament Tent facades are replaced by appropriate storybook architecture.   Haunted Mansion gets a gothic European re-theme and becomes Vampire Palace.


    Everything else in the land is my interpretation of the above artwork.  A new IASW is built near Tomorrowland and its old spot is filled by a major Wonderland darkride.  Dumbo moves over towards the parade route.  Some kid of fairy tale village, which I'm assuming was a meet & greet, is near the hub bridge.  The rest of the area is Beauty & the Beast, though my guesswork was different than what was actually built.   I drew the castle marking a Be Our Guest restaurant and the darkride reached by queuing through Maurice's cottage. 


   The land is given a sleeker, more sci-fi aesthetic while keeping its iconic waterfall towers and Space Mountain.   I replaced Buzz with a GotG re-theme and had the nearby restaurant become The Collector's.   Star Tours has a new facade featuring a Starspeeder on a rooftop launch platform that raises and lowers. 


 The new district is an Atom Punk retrofuture with a PeopleMover, AstroOrbitor and a new original E-ticket omnimover ride called Amazing Tales of Tomorrow!.  I'm imagining something that hearkens back to the lost Future World classics like Horizons and World of Motion: long, music-backed, pre-recorded narration, featuring Animatronic vignettes out of the pages of pulp magazines showing comedic moments of life in the retro future.


   The final mini-land balances New Orleans Square and includes rides, features and dining based on Monsters Inc (existing), Up, Wall-E and The Incredibles.



Saturday, February 20, 2021

River Country

   The world's first Themed water park, River Country had a great Tom Sawyer Island-esque feel, a beautiful location and a number of unique features.  But when Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach came along they set a different standard in terms of slides.   Here is a concept plan I created that would expand River Country into a waterpark on the level of its larger siblings.

   Everything below of central access road is kept pretty much as it was.  The major difference is hidden under the wooden bridge dividing Bay Cove from Bay Lake.  There would be an "invisible" barrier, so while the Cove would still appear to be connected to the Lake, it no longer is.   Separated from the Lake, all the water in this park could be temperature controlled, filtered and chlorinated. 

   The lower half has all the Fort Wilderness features of the original area, such as pony rides, a bluegrass/country bandstand, picnic area, nature boardwalk trail and use of watercraft on Bay Lake.  


  The new upper half continues the same theme with a large array of new themed slides and features, spread cross three rocky hills and the pine forest.  The new half is accessible by footpaths or by a shallow "Riverwalk".  There is a lazy river through the deep forest, under caverns and waterfalls and past Indian camps.   There is cliff diving.  The tallest hill - Eagle Peak - features a spooky cave system to explore, body slides and a large, multi-person raft ride.  Cherokee Caverns slide takes place entirely inside a rockwork mountain in almost total darkness, save for some brief atmospheric show moments of vengeful Indian spirits, angry bears and booby traps.

  The new Ma's Tavern restaurant at the Lake waterfront is near the boat launch.  These boats takes guests to and from the Magic Kingdom Resorts as well as to Treasure Island, a version of Discovery Island that is closer to its original incarnation.   While Treasure Island would have some animals, it's purpose would be the canvas for an elaborate interactive game/treasure hunt. 



Thursday, February 11, 2021

DLP Buildout

Here's a DLP expansion plan. 


MAIN STREET, USA:  Per usual, this plan reverts to Main Street's original slate of unique shops and features which have been steadily deleted over the years in the name of more shelfspace for Disney merch.  Main Street Motors displays and sells vintage autos.  The Photography shop stays as an exhibit dedicated to early photography.  Walt's restaurant is in its original incarnation, with first floor dining room.  

The Barber Shop and Statue of Liberty diorama exhibit remain in their places.

FRONTIERLAND:  Indian Canoes & Keelboats are back.   Lucky Nugget vaudeville show is back (sans Disney characters).    In the large pad beyond the railroad berm, a new district is added: a dusty and dangerous gunfighter town called Redemption.  The Saloon is themed dining populated with live characters out of a classic Western.  There was originally a Stunt Show planned for Frontierland, so I've included that.   The main draw, marked by an old Spanish Mission, is a high-tech E-ticket inspired by some concept art by Chris Bradley, where stagecoach riders have rifles and shoot at targets and villains throughout the ride.   

So you'd have Thunder Mesa, with its elaborate backstory and attractions, then the rural Cottonwood Creek district and then a neighboring frontier Town of Redemption with its own rivalry backstory.

ADVENTURELAND: While the powers-that-be are big proponents of making everything "more Disney", I am not a fan of unnecessary IP insertion/overlays and/or changing the name of a feature to include a tangential character.    So in my drawings the restaurants (Aux Epices Enchantee, Explorers Club, Blue Lagoon, etc.) revert to their original names.  I'd also bring back the winding indoor Bazaar in its original form before it became the Agrabah Cafe - that area looked too cool.  Losing the Bazaar meant breaking up the "Covered Pathway" ( a stroke of genius).   I'd amend the Aladdin walkthrough to allow the Covered Pathway to go on its, full original course.  

A larger, Jungle Cruise-inspired coaster - a concept that pre-dated Temple du Peril - is here.  Indiana Jones is a cousin to the EMV Ride found in Anaheim and Tokyo.   

FANTASYLAND: I've added a dedicated M&G area and a fourth C-ticket darkride based on Tangled.  The larger addition beyond the railroad berm is Heroes' Quest - a park-originated flume attraction that creates a set of characters, story and world set in a medieval fantasy genre of wizards, knights, ogres, etc.


DISCOVERYLAND:  Discoveryland, originally dedicated to the retro-futurism of 19th-Century writers, had a few built-in flaws to its thematic cohesiveness from Day One: Star Tours, Videopolis & Captain Eo.  These  never fit the purported theme very well, despite the talking points.  In this plan, I've replaced those three attractions to reflect a tighter interpretation of the original theme.  

The original Visionarium remains, serving as the thesis statement for the land.  Jules Verne's stories are reflected in the original Space Mountain: From the Earth to the Moon, the Nautilus walkthrough, and a new madcap, stylized, family darkride (a la Peter Pan/Mr. Toad) taking up the space used for Videopolis (Around the World in 80 Days).   H.G. Wells finds representation in a cabin simulator War of the Worlds: a steampunk Star Tours, with expanded storyline and design (not based on any previous treatment of the book, but something along the lines of WotW: Goliath, where humanity is using steam/deiselpunk technology to fight back against the invaders).   Similarly, Edgar Rice Burough's classic "A Princess of Mars" gets an E-ticket ride, but one designed for the park and that clicks with the feel of the land, not necessarily based on the look created by Bruckheimer's John Carter movie. 

A major attraction, called Bon Voyage!, is based on idea once posted to the internet, but has since disappeared.  Some of you may remember this - and I don't know who to credit - but the concept came with artwork and even a pretty professional scale model.  It was a major suspended darkride aboard Airships, marked by an observatory dome and a curving grass-covered canopy, with the showbuilding beyond the berm.

Finally, since the land could use a major dining venue, there is a special-effects-laden table service restaurant themed to The Invisible Man (an alternate theme could be something like the old Jekyll & Hyde Club in NYC or Astronomer's Club).


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Parallel HKDL

   Here is a What-If concept plan for Hong Kong that incorporates some logos I made for the new lands.  

   HKDL has - beyond all initial expectations - morphed into the Castle Park I'm most positive about.   While the other parks, developed over decades, have included many big steps forward, there have also been many big steps backward, in my view.  But HKDL started out with so little, that its forward progress has eclipsed any back-steps.   

   The park greatly benefits from its insulating forested Berm - something Shanghai desperately needed and all parks should have.  The visual storytelling element of the Great Green Beyond (a forest/wilderness backdrop) is a concept that reinforces and helps sell every aspect it touches in a theme park.   HKDL's vegetation growth has been exceptionally lush: I'm a big fan of trees in general and their benefit to the parks, particularly as they get older.  HKDL also has the mountains in the background, which add so much to the wide vistas.   And it has the series of mini-lands outside the railroad which give it a unique layout that is fun to plan - swapping mini-lands here and there.


The addition here is a walkthrough Ghost House inspired by the original concept for Haunted Mansion (below).



   Marvel is moved to its own mini-land.   The new non-IP DreamFlight ride has a facade that builds on the wavy canopy motif of the existing TL buildings.


   I've added the new castle.  All the current fiberglass tournament facades are replaced by themed architecture, as in the 1983 Re-do of Anaheim's FL.


   The only change here is the removal of the Moana stage... I prefer the area uncluttered, with just paths, stream and vegetation.  


   This land is set in the American Southwest (a fitting neighbor for Grizzly Gulch).   There is a log flume E-ticket and a Soarin ride over and through a Prehistoric Earth of 100 million years ago (photo-realistic CGI).

Art by Damir Martin



This area is a translation of the Favilli Studio proposal for the mini-land, which you can find online, with dueling spinner and mountain coaster.



   An alternate choice to the Frozen area being built.   The left-hand side is based on the cancelled area for the Magic Kingom (see below).




   This mini-land has the Iron Man ride and an interactive game/exhibit area called Banner Labs, in addition to a Quick Service dining option.


Friday, January 15, 2021

Parallel Animal Kingdom

 Here's an alternate universe drawing of Animal Kingdom that incorporates a number of the early ideas which did not make it into the final, real world park.



   This is the original entry to the park minus the Rainforest Cafe.


   The Island sees the return of the park encircling Riverboats, including the animated scenes and sights that were originally conceptualized.   The Tree of Life Theater gets a different show that is more of a thesis statement for the park, rather than focused on just one area (bugs).

   Now things begin to change quite a bit, though Restaurantosaurus and the Boneyard remain the same.   The Excavator D-ticket mini-mountain mine cart coaster is at the center of the land.   Countdown to Extinction is much more ambitious here, reflecting the earliest drawings of an indoor-outdoor dinosaur safari experience.   As always, I shift the attraction's setting out of the present day and give the attraction's exterior, storyline and vehicles a 1930s-50s retrofit.  The Dino Institute building sports a Flemish Renaissance-revival facade, new queue displays and pre-shows.

   A new E-ticket flume ride is added, this time it is a watery journey past megafauna from the Pleistocene Ice Age of 20,000 years ago: giant sloths, dire wolves, Irish deer, sabre-tooth cats, glyptodonts, and, of course, wooly mammoths and mastodons are among the sights to be seen.   Final plunge into an ice floe lake.


    This area is a kid-aimed catch-all land; a home for Disney's assorted animal characters.   Parks should also strive to create some of their own characters, such as Figment or the Country Bears, and as seen below in an early WDI concept layout, there was a mystery attraction labeled "Pagoo's Adventure."   I'm interpreting this as an animated panda character created for the park (well before Kung Fu Panda) and including it in this plan.  The area also incorporates some elements from Camp Minnie-Mickey (M&G pavilions and Willow Theater) as well as the Theater in the Wild currently housing a Nemo musical. 


Around the lagoon there is seating for a World of Color -style fountain nighttime spectacular themed to the animal world.  

   This is a transplant of the extinct area from DCA.  It has the 3-D show formerly housed in the Tree of Life's roots.

   In reality, Animal Kingdom's master plan was built around two big safari rides.  The African one got built.  The Asian one got canceled late in the design, leaving Animal Kingdom with a very large, cut-off area.  In this parallel universe  the original Tiger River Run was built as planned, featuring many species of live Asiatic animals free-roaming through seemingly barrier-free habitats among temple ruins and lush vegetation.   Rafts are coupled for the long, slow-moving animal viewing segment, then decouple for a thrilling, whitewater finale through a clearcut forest (Kali River Rapids).  

  Instead of Conservation Station, this park gets a new area based on animals and cultures of the South American rainforests.   Accessible only via the Wildlife Express which serves as themed visual element for the Tiger River Run in Asia.   A colorful Brazilian town awaits travelers as they disembark the train.   There is a soarin' ride here, gliding over various natural wonders of South America, as well as a thrilling E-ticket darkride featuring a more fictionalized storyline and some of the intimidating aspects of the South American ecosystems, such as jaguars, tarantulas and a giant anaconda in audio-animatronic form.  Live creatures could be on display in fence-less habitats in the attractions' queues.


  Here, a new theater-in-the-round is located where the Harambe Marketplace was recently built.   The musical show here could remain based on The Lion King, or it could be inspired by authentic East African culture, as in the Heartbeat of Africa show planned for EPCOT back in the day.  There's also a new dining venue where the current LK Theater is.   


   Kilimanjaro Safaris returns to something closer to its original incarnation.  It loses all the changes over the years that have brought in a lot of visible fencing and man-made structures, such as the Wild Africa Trek, Wild Dog paddock and Zebra paddock.   It regains a storyline and the final chapter of chasing poachers through the flooded canyon.  In the northern section I contoured the flood control canal to simulate a natural river and open up vistas to a very large Elephant Savanna.  What more awe-inspiring sight could the park provide than a vast expanse of 'wild' savanna with 20-30 Elephants moving freely and naturally in the distance.

   Also, just as in World Showcase, I think each of the three Continent lands at Animal Kingdom (Asia, Africa, Amazonia) ought to be staffed on show with cultural representatives from Africa, India/Nepal and South America. 


   Here is an expanded version of the famous, never-built land.  As seen in the art below, one would enter the land by crossing a bridge and passing through a thick, dark forest before emerging into a plaza featuring the Mother Goose shop.  To the left, over the Billy Goat Bridge, is the Loch Ness Landing village area where the Monster makes periodic appearances.  Here the main dining/drinking facilities are located.  Going further into the dark side of the land is the landmark suspended coaster, Dragon's Tower, in which bats carry cauldrons through indoor showscenes and over melted castle ruins, culminating with a scorching encounter with a fire-breathing 100ft AA dragon in his treasure lair.  


The two other planned attractions - Quest for the Unicorn interactive maze and Fantasia Gardens family boat ride - are shown here.  I expanded the land to add three more original attractions.   There is a mythical creature aerial spinner with various winged creatures to ride (e.g., griffins, gargoyles, phoenix).   There is a domed, seamless CircleVision-style special effects theatrical attraction, hosted by an AA Merlin and his animal companion (in a role similar to Timekeeper/Nine-Eye).  And there is an atmospheric indoor boatride, The Swan Queen, which would be a ticket-level up from Fantasia Gardens, with a PotC-scale drop.




Saturday, January 2, 2021

Parallel Universe MK

   I enjoy imagining "what-if", alternate-universe versions of the parks & resorts.  So I here, I've taken a MK plan that was commissioned 5 years ago and made some adjustments resulting in a much-expanded/re-imagined Magic Kingdom.


  Sometimes, as here, I'll draw MK plans with the original Hub with its fat trees providing shade and an intentionally-obscuring curtain to the central icon and other lands.  And there were few more majestic vistas in Central Florida than the Magic Kingdom as seen from across Bay Lake or Seven Seas Lagoon with the castle and Space Mountain rising alone and uncluttered above the treeline before the new Tron box permanently changed these views.   In short, for me, an idealized MK goes back to the old hub and has no Tron box.


   People responded well to Universal's Hogsmeade Village because it created a shopping/dining/entertainment experience full of details appropriate to the time and theme, particularly well-art-directed shops & window displays, one-of-a-kind merchandise, and entertainment that enhanced it all.  Main Street USA - in its purest form and not homogenized towards generic mall stores/Starbucks behind Victorian facades - was doing for decades and on a larger scale what Hogsmeade Village does today.


  I write something similar every time I share a park plan that has a Main Street: bring back all the non-revenue-producing-but-charm-invoking features like Flower Street, the Penny Arcade, Cinema and Magic Shop.  The plan above shows the numerous small, distinct shops and eateries planned for Anaheim's original MSUSA, with the idea being the land would feature the full complement of the commercial enterprises of any town of that bygone era.

   As noted, the old, tree-filled hub is restored here along with the Swan Boats that encircle it.


   This is a version that creates a more harmonious look throughout via the recurring use of shallow-domed buildings with neon spires.  Unlike what is currently happening at the MK, it would keep the architectural features - metallic fins and spires - unveiled in 1994's New Tomorrowland and spread the same aesthetic throughout the rest of the land.  Space Mountain keeps its iconic original exterior (but has a new entrance/exit building) but houses a revamped pre-show & post-show (the original star tunnel and exit speedramps obviously are brought back), ride vehicles with sound, elimination of brakes which diminished the thrill, etc..

   Tron, GotG, Black Hole - Disney's live-action SciFi IPs - would find a natural home in this future fantasyland (leaving EPCOT Future World to take on real-world futurism).  The vista-killing, unthemed Tron box is no more.


   There is a bridge from Tomorrowland to Town Square in lieu of the current backstage garden path that allows a second path of egress from the park.   Almost every attraction in the land is new, save the Astro Orbiter and TTA Peoplemover.  The Noodle Station is replaced by a completely new restaurant matching the land's look and feel.  Club 33 isn't in this park's Adventureland, so I moved it to the 2nd level here.


   This is the least-altered land in the park, adding only the Casey Jr. Power coaster from Paris, which would absorb the rest & re-charge tent for its queue.


   Here, this land is completely re-imagined, including a new castle for the park, based on the Beast's.  The castle is on a rocky crag and is reached by going up a rocky outcrop and crossing the gargoyle-lined bridge over the moat.   


   Attractions and features are grouped by their respective film, e.g., the Tangled bathroom area sees a new Flynn Rider darkride taking up the current Peter Pan space.  Accordingly, a new Peter Pan's Flight is moved over to the eastern Neverland area with its lagoon, Skull Rock and Jolly Roger.   The Wonderland area gets a track flatide (small caterpillar trains traverse a maze) where Tomorrowland Terrace currently sits.  Mermaid is given a larger-scale ride that begins and ends in an open-air lagoon below a much larger castle.   The presence of a Gigantic ride with its towering beanstalke weenie shows the age of this original drawing.

   In the rear of land is a large mountain coaster attraction (i.e., Matterhorn) themed to Frozen, adding a new peak to the Magic Kingdom's mountain range - the kind of monumental and 360-degree themed edifice that one wants to be visible far & wide, from inside and outside the park.


   This Alternate Universe park's west side sees many of the major, popular attractions switched out for something new.  The Hall of Presidents is replaced with a Headless Horseman darkride.   The Haunted Mansion here is re-imagined as a 3-D LPS ride as teased by the tantalizing concept art below:

   Inspired by TDS' Mysterious Island, this new land returns the Nautilus & Captain Nemo to the Magic Kingdom and adds a new peak to the skyline.   It also features the Island at the Top of the World ride concept once planned for Discovery Bay.   The old Keelboat Dockhouse is used to ramp down to a boardwalk in order to access the new land from Liberty Square.   


   The famously-planned-then-cancelled Western River Expedition dominates the western side of the land in this version of the park, filling the role of the lost Original PotC.   There is a major eatery attached, where diners can overlook a relaxing desert-evening scene as WRE boats drift by (a Western version of the Blue Bayou).

   With the loss of Big Thunder, a new mining-gone-wrong thrill attraction is added: Geyser Mountain, once imagined for DLP.  I envision it as a darkride through a cursed, abandoned mine culminating in the ride vehicles moving into an elevator shaft for the finale's geyser eruption skyward & freefall downward, with water exploding out of countless cracks in the shaft tower and cascading down the mountain each time.  


   Lost attractions like the Canoes, Keelboats and Diamond Horseshoe Revue all make a return in this plan.


   Eastern Adventureland sees minor changes such as the removal of the Flying Carpets area and Club 33.   Western Adventureland has major changes with the addition of a heavily-themed giga-coaster, beautifully-conceptualized by Thom Schillinger for Disneyland Paris, themed to the unexplored jungles of Papua New Guinea.   


   A new & unique version of the Pirates of the Caribbean is here, marked by a large, forbidding fortress with a landmark weenie tower, as seen in this early Shanghai concept art (above).


   By now, I've drawn quite a few riffs on the world's most popular theme park.  Some are "if I were in charge", some are visualizing coming actual changes, and some, like this, are thought experiments.