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.