Friday, December 15, 2023

Walt Disney Studios - Paris

   Hope all are well.


  When looking at the possibilities for the 2nd Gate to Disneyland Paris, I've typically started from scratch, as it is more enjoyable for me to imagine & lay out a park that begins with Vision, awe-factor, rhyme & reason in terms of theme and attraction placement, carefully positioned vistas, weenies & sightlines - all of which WDSP has lacked.   But now that the much-needed revamp is well-underway, I've decided to draw a plan showing how the actual park-that-will-be could further expand & improve.  


  This drawing includes - mostly - what will be there when the current central boulevard, lake and Arendelle are finished in 2025.    The Front Lot, Toon Studios, Toy Story Playland, Place de Remy, Avengers Campus, Cours des Reves (my name for the lake and boulevard, as I'm not sure what the actual name will be) and Arendelle are "as is" and do not need written explanation here.


  The big change in Part I is Hollywood, which takes some inspiration from the original Disney-MGM Studios at its best.   One passes out of the cheesy Studio One indoor main street and enters a much more impressive Hollywood facsimile: the street is curbed, the atmospheric Resident characters and vehicles are there, the detailed facades all now hold shops & dining.  The Tower Hotel looms behind the shops.  On the right is a Studio Gate separating Toon Studios from 1930s/40s Hollywood streets.

  The major addition here takes up the currently underused corner of the park with a new version of The Great Movie Ride, with its landmark Chinese Theater facade.   As at MGM, one queues in an ornate lobby past movie props and costumes and then enters a theater showing classic film trailers, previewing upcoming scenes.  Great Movie Ride in its 1.0 form was one of my all-time favorites.  Here the concept/feel of the ride is the same, though the execution is somewhat different, including ride system are new film scenes.  Musical, Gangster, Western, SciFi, Comedy, Adventure & Fantasy genres would all be represented via highly detailed sets, scores of audio-animatronics and special effects.  In my imagination, it would be fully narrated by the great "What will be your fate?" voice from the original ride.



  When I think about fixing this park, ideally it would have had WDSP offer a completely different menu of themes and IPs than its neighbor, DLP.  Any properties that would enhance an extant land at DLP shouldn't have been considered for WDSP and vice-versa.  That ship has sailed, but Disney still has a lot of IP that isn't a natural fit for DLP and would be well-suited for this Catch-All park, some of which is already present: Marvel, Ratatouille, Toy Story, Cars.  Avatar is another big example, already associated with Disney Parks, so here it goes.   

  As often mentioned, a major consideration is sightlines and vistas - how it feels just to explore and soak in the park.  So in this plan, I am trying to minimize the impact of the rear of the (ill-placed) Tower of Terror, add a lot of trees/nature and do something to disguise the long view of the Flight Force (former RocknRollecoaster) gravity box.  Considering the scale and treatment of the Avatar Flight of Passage showbuilding in Orlando, I thought this would work well abutting Flight Force and get two birds with one rockwork stone. 

  While Flight of Passage is generally the same as in WDW, including the landmark floating mountains, this plan shows a unique and improved version of Pandora, defined by the Navi River Rapids - a long indoor-outdoor raft ride that takes explorers on a journey throughout the land.   This ride features additional "floating" mountains at the top of the lift hill, adding to the depth and grandeur of vistas in the park.  Good Humans have set up an eco-tourism business, which queues partly through an abandoned hydro plant.  Lively Pandoran plants and AA wildlife (e.g. a herd of hammerhead titanotheres, a troop of Pandoran monkeys in branches, etc.) are seen around the riverbanks, with the more sophisticated AAs (such as Navi) and bioluminescence saved for the indoor scenes at the beginning & end of the ride.   To account for the Parisian weather, how wet riders get could be minimized as it is on Tokyo's Splash Mountain.

The canteen and shop from WDW are also here, though relocated.    The other addition is a Hometree explore zone.


   I've changed the left edge of the land with the removal of the Stunt Show Theater.   A new attraction inspired by Dr. Strange and his magical artifacts takes the form of a special effects show in a similar vein to Alien Encounter or Poseidon's Fury with multiple stages: Preshow A, Preshow B (more elaborate), Main Show (two theaters for capacity).  The exterior is an ancient & otherworldly portal or sanctum, which aids in the transition to Pandora.  


  Best practice is to avoid a situation in which almost all the park's IP is taken from a certain timeframe or generation (e.g. the last 10-20 years).   Hence London Square, dedicated to some of the classics of the 1960s & 70s.  

  This land's setting is the idyllic Old London of the early 20th Century, with Cherry Tree Lane diverting off the main parade route.  The carousel from Mary Poppins occupies the central park.  An Edwardian glass tea pavilion is near the central loop.   I wanted the main rides here to be unique to this park, so I chose "101 Dalmatians" for the classic darkride, its facade continuing the street of terraced townhouses, with scaled-down London landmarks such as St. Paul's on the roof.

   "Bedknobs & Broomsticks" might be the best movie in the Company's entire catalog.  Apparently, this is not a widely-shared belief and thus it's never had a park presence.   Here I can change this, as film seems ideal for ride-translation with a magic, multi-passenger flying bed and automation of inanimate objects
being the central features.  The facade is the bomb-abandoned London mansion where Professor Brown is squatting.  The queue begins in an old roundtower (nod to the film's castle), goes through the mansion's gardens and outbuilding and then inside through the various rooms: library, nursery, etc.  Suspended bed vehicles take riders on a careening musical adventure to Portobello Road, the Briny Sea, the Isle of Namboombu and the battle of reanimated soldiers.  


  You may notice that they way I've put the layout together has corresponding themed lands on opposite sides of main Cours, e.g. London vs Paris.   Here, contrasting the lush jungle/ mostly-wild alien world of Pandora, is the arid desert/mostly-urban alien world of Mos Eisley.  

  While another Batuu-Lite was originally part of the official plan, here I wanted to go with something totally unique and try incorporating a famous location often seen in the Star Wars Universe.  Timeline is Original Trilogy (of course) and the full-scale Lamda-Class Imperial shuttle at the back of the land fills the same role as the TIE Echelon in Batuu (am I the only one who thinks the Echelon looks too small to hold all the people coming out of it?).  Darth Vader himself could occasionally descend from the shuttle ramp in his search for Rebels.

   I also saw this land as an opportunity to cleanse Discoveryland of the extraneous IP, as every plan I've drawn for DLP has Discoveryland adhering to its original vision, free of Star Wars (and Toy Story).  Therefore, I've moved Star Tours over to this park.  Its weenie features a landing platform with a couple of Starspeeder 3000s on it.   I think it's a shame that the Company plan for both DHS and Disneyland Anaheim has been to feature Star Tours in the same park as Star Wars Land - but not in the actual land.  

  In addition to Star Tours, three new rides complete this land:  Mos Eisley Transit Authority, or M.E.T.A., is a peoplemover that circles the entire land on the 2nd level, featuring numerous indoor scenes and Audio Animatronic vignettes.   Bounty Hunter Blast is D-ticket family shooter darkride.

  You've probably seen art of the cancelled giant beast ride for Batuu.   Here I have expanded that idea with a dedicated Bantha Caravans ride.  The queue winds up to the level of the howdah on the top of a mechanical Bantha (or Dewback for variation).   The hairy animals then proceed to undulate and trot around  the desert landscape.

   Mos Eisley would be rounded out with a replica of the famous Cantina bar with its aliens and band.  Han Solo & Chewbacca could drop in from time to time.  There is a Jawa Junk Market and large table service restaurant run by members of the Hutt Clan.   I envision the Millennium Falcon as a Swiss Family type walkthrough attraction.




  This final area is themed to Disney's collective animated villains, and I designed it to achieve a number of goals: 1. provide a very large and impressive weenie at the back of the park; 2 give the lineup a major, heavily-themed, indoor-outdoor mountain coaster, which it sorely lacks; 3. counterbalance the saccharine princess-land of Arendelle opposite it; 4. avoid another single-IP land; and 5. feature some environments that aren't natural fits for Disneyland next door.

   Like a sinister version of Fantasy Springs, this area has subsections with distinct geographies & architectural styles.  The medieval one - the area around Dark Mountain - is a mash-up of the mountain lairs & castles of the likes of the Horned King, Maleficent & Chernabog.  It's not intended to be a recreation from any of these movies.  This an original creation - an ominous mountain with an evil-looking castle & crumbling towers in its upper reaches.   Here the aforementioned villains gather and plot.   The queue begins by crossing a murky water and entering the mountain portcullis gateway.  Explorers then wind through subterranean chambers where villains (in AA form) are revealed in multiple pre-shows.  The queue then emerges in a forest north of the mountain, finally entering another set of caverns for final pre-show & boarding.   Post ride, the lengthy egress passes over a bridge north of the mountain, re-enters the mountain base, where a gift shop could be located at the last cave, before returning to the land. 

  Across from the Mountain is Sleepy Hollow Village - a haunted version of Liberty Square - with dead oaks, a Headless Horseman Tavern restaurant and some shops.  

  Inspired by the Jim Shull artwork (which you can find linked on IdealBuildout twitter page), there is an Ursula spinner at water level.  Part of its queue descends through a ship wrecked on the rocks by the trident-wielding seawitch.

  Deeper in the land, one passes under a broken wall and enters either a dilapidated New Orleans area featuring a Dr. Facilier rotating madhouse ride, with its SFX pre-show/queue. 

  Opposite it is the final sub area, with its Ancient Greece theme.   A crumbling temple to Hades marks the entrance to an indoor musical boatride featuring the villain from "Hercules" tormenting the Greeks.


The End.



Tuesday, May 2, 2023

EPCOT Center - Resurrected

  EPCOT Center of the 1980s into the 90s as created by the original team of Imagineers - an inimitable group of visionary geniuses - aimed to inspire and instill in the visitor something of value about the real world, from the culture of Mexico to the history & future of Transportation.   It had a clarity of Vision and Purpose and a rare, now-lost Harmony in presentation.  Its scale, ambition and newness made the park awe-inspiring, electrifying and hugely impactful on many return visitors, including me.  In my opinion, EPCOT Center in its first decade represents the pinnacle of the art of theme parks.  

  When I draw an illustrative for EPCOT, I typically maintain a lot of the original park, i.e. with Horizons, CommuniCore and World of Motion intact, because if it ain't broke...   But in this case, I'll be looking at how EPCOT might have been revamped/refreshed beginning circa its 25th Anniversary to return to something closer its original spirit, instead of taking the opposite path and devolving into a less-beautiful, less-sophisticated, less-cohesive, less-unique and less-timeless IP park.



   Here I've changed the entrance and spine of the park, though it would still maintain the established "Future World Style".  Not really necessary, but something to differentiate this version from what was there for the first 25 years.

   Of course the legendary Norm Inouye iconography and font return throughout Future World.  The entrance plaza features "disc fountains" of the pavilions' symbols.

  Spaceship Earth drops the horrible Seimens descent jibjab video and reverts to the scenic Jeremy Irons descent or something new and worthy of this great attraction.

   CommuniCore is a new, smaller version of the original hub, opening more space for landscape, vistas and fountain shows.  Its dining and retail venues would reflect the two halves of Future World, FW West with its Life-based pavilions/organic paths & FW East with its Tech-based pavilions and more geometric paths.

  The monorail has a switch and spur track, so some trains can bypass this park on their way to other destinations at WDW.


  This attraction, my all-time favorite ride, rises from the ashes in a new body (former Universe of Energy building).  It has the same spirit, style, narration, music & scene progression as the original, taking advantage of some tech advances for the Choose Your Adventure ending.


  Combining the Mission:Space and Wonders of Life buildings, this attraction begins with a flight to a future Martian colony (Mission:Space revamped).   Once guests "land" on Mars, they egress down a long hallway with glass viewing portals showing the landscape of the Red Planet, until the arrive at the domed Mars Base (the old WoL central area).  This area has interactive science exhibits, a restaurant, and two attractions - a SFX theater on subjects such as the Big Bang or Terra-forming and a re-tooling of Body Wars for a more science-based exploration adventure, maybe using wormholes.  

  In order to "return to Earth" (and for those that don't want to experience the red or green centrifuge ride, a Tele-Transporter Lab could be used in a similar manner to the Hydrolators at Living Seas).


   In this pavilion I envisioned combining the humorous vignette and scenic elements of the Marc Davis, Ward Kimball, Claude Coats original with the heart-pumping finale of TestTrack.   The clean-lined, futuristic ride vehicles would go through the original "Fun to be Free" scenes at a leisurely pace, including the initial spiral over the entry-way.  Where the speed rooms started in the original WoM, the music and tone would change as vehicles take off into the future, following the now enclosed track (no more backstage views) out of the original building for high speed, banked whirl around a vast, detailed and animated "CentreCore" diorama of a future city before returning to encircle the original building.    

 Aquatopia, replacing the Odyssey Restaurant, falls under the World of Motion umbrella.



   The pavilion here reverts to its original color scheme (see above).  There's something new for the 3-D Theater.   The spirit of the original ride (music, characters, general expression of concepts, such as the Dreamport, flying machine, genres of literature, theater, film, etc.) return in a more advanced form.  I feel like an LPS system might be a good fit for an imagination-based ride, replacing the original system and adding some diversity to the park's ride types.  

    The Soarin' ride system remains, but no longer has the 'airport' theme and current ride film (world wonders) that has little connection to the Pavilion's purpose (Agriculture and Environment).   Instead, the queue and preshow would be a biogeopgraphic research base that introduces riders to earth's terrestrial ecoregions or biomes (e.g., Boreal Forest, Tropical Savanna, Desert, Temperate Forest, Tundra, Temperate Grasslands, Tropical Forest, etc.), and the Soarin' ride experience would be an aerial survey of these various landscapes in their unspoiled state, using a slot-machine system for ride variability.

   Replacing the Awesome Earth
theater (we get much better specials on TV with David Attenborough) would be an attraction in the vein of The Land's historic animatronic musical comedy shows on nutrition.


   Here the pavilion doubles in size to provide multiple experiences: two entrances and two unique ways to reach SeaBase Alpha.   The original method, with the brilliant 'The Seas' film and epic hydrolator reveal is back (never left in an ideal world).   

  The new section follows the original concept with Oceanus: a longer omnimover ride narrated by Poseidon.   As seen in the model above, the track passes through numerous "dry" undersea scenes, providing a more stylized experience of environs like kelp forests and coral reefs, with some shocking encounters with predators (animatronic), before eventually visiting the future of undersea exploration as riders are deposited at the opposite side of SeaBase Alpha.    Return-to-surface hydrolators maintain the undersea illusion.  



   In this plan, the ruinous IP-mandate dies: there are no movie-based attractions.  No Aladdin meet & greet in Morrocco or Snow White in Germany.  Not even character topiaries are present.   There are other areas of WDW with an abundance of characters and film stuff.   World Showcase was never better than when it felt different and pure.  This park is about presenting a romantic, postcard picture of various countries, staffed by citizens of those countries, for genuine enrichment & cultural exchange and not about cross-promoting the Disney film library.   The only character moments (that aren't EPCOT-originated) I would be okay with here are the occasional pop-ups of members of the base group, wearing representative dress, e.g. kilt-clad Goofy in Canada, kimono Minnie in Japan, etc.

  The other aim is to have parity in terms of attractions among the countries: one country shouldn't get an E-ticket & theater while others have no attractions whatsoever.    Each country needs a draw.   And these experiences ought to vary in terms of type (e.g., one circlevision show for WS is enough).  

  All the great "inbetween" things that have been lost to time return in this plan, such as the Omnibus and abundance of live acts, e.g., the World Showcase Players comedy troupe. 

  Finally, some may ask why I haven't filled in every planned plot in this idealized "build-out".   Answer: I tend to prefer the wooded space breaking up most pavilions because it makes the cross-lagoon views better if the countries aren't squeezed up against each other.  Also, I believe the pedestrian experience is enhanced when a small forested stretch is traversed to get to next country (Norway-China is currently the only area without this kind of planted transition).

photo credit:


   The changes include the return of the Cantina and a revamp of the El Rio del Tiempo ride.   The film parts felt dated as long as I can remember...  maybe replacing these film bits and switching out the Small World style dolls for Sinbad (TDS) style mini-animatronics would improve the ride.  I'd also add a leopard to the jungle ruins scene as concept art once showed.  


   No more princess dining at Akershus.  To me, Maelstrom has always been a model D-ticket for World Showcase: atmospheric, great music & narration, nice FX & AAs, medium length, small thrill.  Never intended to be a mind-blowing E-ticket, it was a fun, memorable experience that gave visitors a glimpse of Norwegian cultural touchstones.  I'd be really satisfied if every country in WS had something simliar in scale & execution to Maelstrom.   Here, Maelstrom returns, but in an ideal world, the attraction would be reworked so that the film plays every half hour on a loop in the queue and the post-ride theater space is re-worked into a better queue or an additional scene for the ride.    It was always awkard to rush out - or watch others rush out - of the theater after the ride instead of sitting for the film.  


  Not much to change here... Did the seamless CircleVision that was announced  ever happen?


   Since Africa would get cultural representation in Animal Kingdom's Harambe, which, ideally, would be entirely staffed with International Program people, just like EPCOT, the space once slotted for it (and for Spain) goes to Brazil, the 12th country of World Showcase.  


   In the fore of the pavilion is the colorful colonial townscape inspired by places like Ouro Preto or Salvador, dominated by a baroque church, which could house cultural exhibits.  In the village is the main sit-down eatery, a Brazilian steakhouse.  

   The middle of the pavilion is occupied by a rainforest where guests board double decker riverboats for a tour of Brazil in something that might be like Jungle Cruise meets Storybookland Canal boats.   Iguazu Falls is one of the sights on the voyage.   At the rear of the pavilion the boats approach Brazil's most famous visual icon: the harbor of Rio de Janeiro with its Surgarloaf mountain, favellas and Cristo Redentor.  Inside the showbuilding Carnivale could be underway as festive scenes from Copa Cabana and Ipanema unfold.   

   When viewed from a distance, the famous rounded peaks of Rio rise in the distance behind the treeline, for a sight worthy of the other World Showcase pavilions.


   Germany finally gets its long-overdue water ride.   Similar to the Rhine River Cruise, but the version I'm imagining here has a small backwards drop, and showcases the Fairlytale roots of Germany, possibly with comedic vignettes of the Grimm Brothers.


   Ruins of Ancient Rome, dominated by the Coliseum, mark this country's attraction, which would be a special effects walkthrough (e.g. Tokyo's Castle Mystery Tour or the Shanghai Castle tour.  Guests are separated into small guided tour groups and explore the ruins, as vignettes covering the history of the Roman Empire would come to life using projection mapping (e.g., Ruins-->Pristine) &/or AAs.  As part of the tour would enter the dusty floor of the arena for a Gladiator's view.


   This buildout also sees the return of a personal favorite, the classic Ristorante Alfredo di Roma.


   Not much to change here.   Cast costumes would revert to the traditional Independence Era.


   Like Germany, the alreaady-impressive castle would finally be filled with a ride, in this case a C/D-ticket omnimover in the classic Disney/EPCOT tradition that explores historic and modern Japan, as the art below shows.

   In this expanded pavilion, the winding city alleys culminate in a square where another minaret marks the entrance to a madcap darkride.   I imagine this to be a stylized, Fantasyland type experience and and involve Morocco's connection with cats, similar to the trolls of Norwegian culture.   These are the kinds of fun as well as enriching & authentic aspects that marked the original EPCOT & World Showcase, rather than "a recent Disney-Pixar Movie took place in or near this country."

   Desert vegetation and a Bedouin camp mark another pathway to the rear of the pavilion.   Desert mountain rockwork hides the showbuilding (and France's) from any potential cross-lagoon views.


  To supplement the Impressions de France film, this pavilion gets an original boat ride that could provide a more chilling experience through the catacombs of Paris, possibly interweaving elements from French literature in this tour of the city's famous catacombs and sewers (e.g., Phantom of the Opera, Hunchback, Les Miserables, etc.) or simply be an original or history-based adventure. 


  The new Parisian street would be reached via a glass-roofed breezway where Les Halles is.   The originally-envisioned Moulin Rouge windmill could serve as the ride's weenie.


   Great Britain gets a pair of attractions with the first being an Audio-Animatronic carousel theater based on the works of Charles Dickens, as hinted in the Art of WDW book.   The theater here is housed in a building inspired by the Round Tower at Windsor Castle. 

   The pavilion's ride would be housed in a Victorian Exposition Hall at the back of the land, as also shown in early artwork.   



   O Canada circlevision is replaced by a Klondike-themed mountain coaster for a rollicking ride through Canada's wilderness and mineral-layden caves.


The End