Sunday, May 12, 2019

Legendary Kingdom - Park Plan

Disney's Legendary Kingdom is my conceptual plan for a second gate at the Hong Kong Disney Resort. This idea for a new park is based on the concept of myths and legends come to life.

When starting the idea process for this concept, I first considered designing this park as an evolution on the DisneySea park model. It is obviously a successful design with a very effective layout and organization, so it would have been logical to attempt to follow it up. Eventually though, I decided that I wanted to explore a different conceptual organization while using a similar park layout. That led to this concept of a park that celebrates the idea of "legends." There are many ideas to draw from for this theme, both original ideas and Disney stories.

The park is organized into 9 lands in a similar compound loop park arrangement as Tokyo DisneySea.

Seven of the lands ring the outside of the park, bordered by a continuous body of water, with the final two lands on an island at the center of the park. Follow along on the plan below.

Starting at the existing entrance plaza at the center of the resort, the first land is a fantastic modern port city. This is the entry point to this park where legendary things that shouldn't exist have become real, so this acts as a thematic transition from the real world to the amazing park inside. The port city, loosely acting as the Port of Hong Kong, features references, elements, and characters from the stories inside the park, similarly to how Port of Entry at Islands of Adventure functions, but with a realistic city style.

The view down the street directs guests to the central icon of the park, a giant mountain, ringed by clouds. At the end of the street is a terraced park along the water, set up as a viewing area for park events. There are the standard variety of shops and restaurants along this main street of the park.

Starting to the left, the first major land is the Scottish Highlands, where Knights and Kings live in constant battle with Dragons and the other mythical beasts of the forest. The land has two halves, one on either side of the river. The village and castle are on the left and the forest is on the right at the base of the mountain. The small village square includes retail and a Magic Tavern, while the castle area father along marks the entrance to the major attraction and a dining experience. The castle is in ruins and is still smoking, as if fresh from an attack. The attraction is a large boat dark ride adventure, using the trackless boat ride system, taking guests into an epic battle between the knights of the realm and the dragons of the forest. The dining experience is a tournament style show in the dining hall of the castle, looking out into the forest of the attraction where boats continuously pass by.

Across the river, in the wild forest, is a pair of attractions: a kids coaster that weaves through the dense vegetation and rock work, and a interactive shooting dark ride themed to Brave. Guests go out for target practice with Merida in the forest and use a practice bow to shoot a variety of real and digital targets.

Continuing the ring around the park, next comes the Egyptian Desert, where a recently discovered mystical King's tomb has drawn in explorers and one particular archaeologist, all searching for a valued lost treasure. The tomb of the Scarab, marked by a half buried pyramid, has recently been uncovered for the first time. The pyramid and ruins sit across the river from a small Egyptian village. In the village is a counter service market, retail, a dock for the boat that loops around the park, and a small traditional dark ride about Egyptian Fables, set in a town history museum.

The temple complex across the water holds two attractions. The main attraction follows Indiana Jones as he treks into the temple in search of a fabled scarab statue that is said to be able to control the forces of the sacred scarab. The queue takes guests through the various chambers and caves of the pyramid, leading us to the deep expedition base, where we board jeeps for a motion dark ride coaster. The other attraction is a 360 degree dome 4d movie, set in the unearthed grand atrium of a tomb. We are there to witness the first lighting of the central torch, but as soon as it is lit, the ancient traps and spirits of the temple come to life all around us.

The next land along the path is the hidden Kingdom of Wakanda, the legendary African country that is home to the Black Panther and many other Avengers. The path leads us along the river and into the city center area of the capital, while a rocky cliff side is across the water, with cascading waterfalls and pools falling into the river. This is the vibranium mine and we can see high tech mine trains running through and around it. The entrance to this coaster takes us across a bridge over the river and into the control center of the mine for a high speed tour.

Back in the city center area are two attractions plus a pair of restaurants and retail. One attraction is a dark ride through the mythology and history of the Black Panther, taking guests to the Astral Plane. The other attraction is set inside Shuri's lab and is a EMV style dark ride through a major Avengers battle. Guests board one of Shuri's remote car control systems with the instructions to run interference for the Avengers while they are on an emergency mission. The concept is that we never leave the lab, but go on a very realistic and intense chase through the city streets around the world while we ride through the attraction.

The path to the next land on this side of Wakanda leads right through a massive waterfall, right along the mine mountain. This entrance to the land frames a perfect view of the city center.

Across a small bay is the Pirate Bay town of Barataria Bay, where the fabled Pirates of the Caribbean make base between their pillaging trips. This bay features an infinity edge that makes it seem that the water continues into the real ocean beyond. A service road and the public road beyond are set below the water edge so that they disappear. This is one of the smaller lands of the park, but still features multiple attractions. The village is somewhat ransacked and falling apart, but livable for a band of pirates. The Black Pearl is parked in dock and can be explored. Pirate shows and meet and greets occur on the boat and around the land throughout the day. There are also two small counter service locations in the land, one outside in a marketplace and one inside a Pirate pub. The rest of the town is Pirate retail.

The main attraction is a traditional Pirates of the Caribbean boat dark ride, telling a new story with new characters but in the same world. The other attraction is a animatronics show/4d movie/special effects show that is set in a Pirate Voodoo shop. The multi room experience features a preshow room full of animatronic birds overhead, followed by an introduction to Pirate Voodoo by a mysterious guide in a densely packed shop of bizarre objects. The main show scene occurs in the demonstration room, where the guide demonstrates her mystical powers by bringing the spirit of a pirate legend to life in front of us. However, Davy Jones brings with him the power of sea, creating hurricane winds and a full size waterspout tornado in the center of the room.

Coming up next along the path is Galaxy's Edge, where a story from a long time ago in a galaxy far far away comes to life in the smuggling city of Thistea. Of course Star Wars was going to be included in this park. I decided to use the same attraction lineup as our version of the land but to set it in a different planet. Thistea is a more modern smuggling outpost. The legend of Luke Skywalker is popular here with the locals, so it is a perfect place to hide and grow the fledgling Resistance.

The land would include many similar elements, including shops and restaurants of parallel theme to our version of the land. This park would also include the Star Wars hotel just behind the land and a spacepod shuttle between them.

Bringing us back to the front of the park, the next land is Sanfransokyo, where both superheroes fly walk and fly through the streets. The city features the distinct cross between east and west architecture and design. On the far edge of the land is a large pagoda structure that is raised up on a series of green terraces so it overlooks the land.

There are multiple attractions and restaurants here. On the water is the other dock for the boat that loops the park. Along the water is a table service restaurant set in an industrial fish market. A counter service cafe and retail takes up the rest of the center of the land. The three main attractions are along the back of the land. A large broadway style theater presents daily musical shows that feature a cross of Asian and Disney culture. Next is a suspended dark ride through a high tech robot lab where of course things start to go wrong. Last is the Big Hero 6 attraction for the land, using the Flight of Passage ride system for a flight with Baymax through the city. We enter into the high tech science center, where the superhero team has their base. We go out on a tour with the team, riding on the back of Baymax as we weave through the city and the skies above, but soon we are attacked by a new super villian, forcing us into a high speed race through the streets to get back to safety.

On the island at the center of the park are two lands. The first and smaller is the Land of the Dead, where a walk across the Marigold bridge takes us to the home of the ancestors. This is a half indoor/half outdoor land. The outside portion includes a small village at the edge of a large and colorful graveyard. A teacup style spinner formed of decorative skulls sits in the graveyard, celebrating Dia de los Muertos. There is a small counter service location out here as well. A main path leads into the central mausoleum, where we pass through a marigold gateway and enter the interior land of the dead. The inside space is set in the dead city square and features a carousel, a chain swing ride, and a large trackless dark ride through the music of Coco.

The last land, forming the center of the park and the main icon, is Olympus, The City of the Gods. Here the mythological Greek Gods live in a Greek temple garden at the base of the mountain. The Olympus mountain is proportioned with forced perspective to appear to be very tall and includes a ring of permanent "clouds" around its peak. At the front, on the park entrance side, there are ruins of a giant statue, with a pair of feet and a giant head crashed into the water. Boats crash down a flume between them every couple minutes.

The path leads through a large rocky framed opening on either side of the land, taking guests into a garden lined by Greek temples. The garden area includes a spinner attraction with Pegasus. The major flume dark ride entrance is inside the caves below Olympus. This is an original attraction through an epic story of the Gods and includes large scenes, special effects, and a final splashdown. The other attraction is set in the Temple of Hercules and is a family coaster through the legend of the hero.

The lagoon at the front of the park is set up to be used for daily and nightly shows on the water.

That covers this new park. Not sure what will come next, but check back here and on twitter for occasional updates. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Disney's Worlds of Exploration - Version 2

After a much longer than expected hiatus, I am back for a new post. I needed to take a break for a couple reasons: I was majorly burned out after so many new posts and projects in a row, I got busy at work because I was finishing the work to get licensed as an architect, and I decided that I needed to refocus on longer term and higher quality projects that I could use in a professional portfolio. I decided that monthly new projects were not what I needed to be working on right now, so that led to my long break. And monthly projects are unlikely to return. I will just be occasionally posting some of the things I am working on when I feel like they are good enough to post.

About half of the projects I am putting a lot of time into are updated versions of some of my favorite and most successful old projects. That is where this post comes from.

This post in an updated version of my plan for a Disneyland 3rd Gate, named Worlds of Exploration.

After completing the first version of that plan and taking some time away from it, I reviewed what I thought worked well and what didn't so that I could make an improved Version 2. This park still has the same concept, the same organization, and the same overall story, but the layout was nearly completely overhauled and a couple lands were removed and replaced.

I would look back at the original post first if you are not familiar with it. I am just going to go over what is different this time. Here's the overall plan. Attractions are named, TS means table service, CS means counter service, and SS means snack service.

The biggest change in the layout is that I removed the road running through the middle of the property. It was a fun idea for a design exercise challenge, but proved to be too impractical and constricting. I decided it would be a much better park without it. That allowed me to regularize the layout into a very clean hub and spoke with a loop connecting the lands. I was also able to enlarge many of the lands that were a little too compressed and fill them out with fully immersive environments. Much better.

For the lands, I also decided to abandon the IP lands that I had forced into the park but didn't really fit into the overall scheme. Those were TRON, Marvel, and Star Wars. It made some sense to have them in, and I still believe that if a third gate were to happen, it is highly likely that Marvel and Star Wars will be included, but I decided to refocus on the concept and remove these lands for this exercise. Here is a land plan that shows the new layout clearly.

I decided to substitute the Greece land that featured Hercules for an England land that features Mary Poppins. The main reason was that I thought Mary Poppins would be a more interesting property to include at this time.

The other new land for the park is an Arctic land that actually has no IP tie in. I decided for this so that all the continents were represented in the park. I've also always wanted to do an Arctic themed land and this was a great opportunity.

So I am going to do a very brief walk through the whole park, pointing out some differences from the last plan and focusing on the new attractions and lands.

Outside of the park, the big change is the removal of the on-site parking deck. I decided to assume that a centralized parking facility will be built eventually and introduced a peoplemover line to transport people from that parking to this park. The general transportation hub building also includes a line of bus stops that could service the other parks and hotels, guest services, and security.

The park adjacent hotel sits to the side of the entrance with one leg of rooms spanning over the front entrance. It sits over a parking deck at the north east corner of the lot.

The entrance land is The Explorer's Village, modeled on the Greenwich Village area of New York. This is where the explorers live between trips, so all the businesses, retail, and restaurants are themed to the members of the group. There is an elevated train that loops through the park, starting at the front square of the park. The Explorer's Clubhouse sits at the end of the street, inspired by the Jackson Market Library. It holds a table service restaurant that overlooks the park, the start of a park-wide SEA game, and a new version of Mystic Manor that fits the theme and setting.

The Middle East is the first land from the Hub and is modeled on a Middle Eastern square and a covered marketplace/souq. The attractions include a 1,001 Nights dark ride and an Aladdin indoor family coaster.

Next is China, set in the gardens and traditional streets of Old City Shanghai. It includes an animatronics show based on the legend of the Chinese Dragon, a dark ride through the story of Mulan, a traditional Chinese garden for exploration, and a double level carousel sitting over a small lagoon.

The new Arctic land is next along the path. It includes a large indoor coaster through the ice caves and a simulator ride that takes guests on large multi-passenger snow-rovers for a trip to the pole. There is also a indoor kids play station set in the research labs and a counter service restaurant.

Brazil comes next. It features UP in a suspended dark ride and adjacent spinner. The land also includes a kids coaster, a large explorable treehouse, and the second stop for the train.

Then come Polynesia, taking inspiration from the Samoan Islands. The main attraction is a coaster that winds through and around a large volcano. The mountain sits at the direct back of the park and forms a backdrop to the park icon. The other attraction is a musical boat ride through the story of Moana.

Africa is the next land. The entrance from the hub is through a village setting with a wildlife preserve just beyond. The land includes three attractions: a Festival of the Lion King musical show, a balloon simulator attraction that takes guests over the savanna, and an EMV safari ride through the preserve where we encounter a variety of animals.

Next is Mexico, which includes a large town square and a colorful graveyard during Dia de los Muertos. The attractions include a teacups style spinner with large skull vehicles, a boat ride through Coco, an outdoor theater for a musical fiesta, and a spinning dark ride through a lively day of the dead celebration. There is also the third and final train stop in the land.

Last is England. From the Hub, the path leads down Cherry Tree Lane, past the houses straight from Mary Poppins. The rest of the land is set in urban London. The attractions include a hedge maze, a dark ride set in a museum that is based on the legend of King Arthur, and a 4D 360 degree movie based on Mary Poppins.

I think there is a ton of improvement here and am happy with the results. Bigger lands, more cohesive concept, and a better layout.

Let me know what you think and thanks for still sticking around after my long break. Not sure what or when will be next, so follow along on twitter for updates.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Great Hall Dining Room and Weasleys' Castle Tours

And this month we are back with a pair of new exciting attraction/restaurant plans, for the first time not for a Disney park but for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

In my Islands of Adventure plan from last year, I proposed removing Dragons Challenge and using the space for two new Harry Potter attractions, a Forbidden Forest dark ride and a castle tour dark ride. I also proposed a Great Hall Dining experience adjacent to the castle. Now a year later, part of that is really happening. A Forbidden Forest family coaster will open at some point next year. So I decided that it would be fun to design my concept for the other parts of my plan.

So this post comes with two parts: a restaurant concept for The Great Hall Dining Room and an attraction concept for Weasleys' Castle Tours.

First the restaurant. I believe that this idea is not original. I remember hearing on a Jim Hill podcast that this was part of the expansion plan at some point in the past. I guess there are reasons that it has not happened yet, but the idea always stuck with me.

In the Islands of Adventure plan, the only place that I could fit the restaurant is to the left side of the castle, with the entrance by the greenhouse area. There are a couple obvious problems that I had to solve. Capacity will always be an issue for something that will be this popular. The Great Hall is a defined size, so you can't just oversize it to fit more tables. So I decided that two identical Great Hall Dining Rooms was a necessity. Also, the geographical relationship of where the restaurant was placed and the visible castle was a problem. You can't walk into the Great Hall at ground level while looking up at the force perspective Great Hall on the cliff above. But this was an easy solve because luckily magical transportation is a thing here. So I knew that the Floo Network was going to have to be incorporated into the experience to get guests up to the castle.

So with those problems solved, this is the story and experience of the restaurant. Guests enter the greenhouse-adjacent dungeon storerooms that are used to store the produce grown for use in the castle. Guests check in and wait in the dungeon area before their group is called. Then your party enters into a side room, where there is a large fireplace. A short preshow style introduction is given by a student of Hogwarts and then the group travels by the Floo Network up to the castle. The fireplace opens and special effects give it a magical green glow, leading guests through the fireplace and into another room on the other side. There they are greeted by another student that will lead them up to the Great Hall. Follow along on on the dashed path in the plan below. 

At this point, the hallway splits left and right to lead to the pair of dining rooms. It is very important to keep the illusion that there is only one hall, so they are completely separated from this point and each actually have their own set of bathrooms so that guests do not accidentally go back to the wrong Hall if they were to go during their meal. The student guides the group around the corner and up a staircase or elevator to the Entrance Hall of the castle.

At this point they are led through the main doors and into the Great Hall to be seated. The seating is obviously communal at the four long sets of tables. The food is served family style both for efficiency and because that best aligns with the story experience of eating in the Great Hall. When you are seated, bread and drinks are already on the table, and student servers bring out the rest of the courses during your meal. So in the actual story, the food magically appears on the table, but that seems a little impossible. But I do imagine that it would be possible for a little magic during the serving process of at least one course, with some kind of trick serving bowl to make the food seem like it has just appeared. In reality, the food comes from the kitchens below the hall, rides up a pair of service elevators between the halls, and is served by a team of waiter-students.

During the dining experience, there would also be periodic entertainment on the stage at the head of the hall. Every half hour or so, there would be a short musical performance by the Hogwarts orchestra and choir after a introduction and welcome by a staff member. The entertainment cast would alternate back and forth between the two halls during the night and their dressing rooms and prep spaces are adjacent to the kitchens below.

After your party is finished with the meal, they exit back through the Entrance Hall, down the stair, and through an exit hallway that includes another fireplace.

The total capacity would be 672 seats at one time. Assuming an average of an hour turnaround for each seat (lower than average because of the family style menu) and about a 10 hour serving day (11am to 9pm) that is just over 6,500 seats per day, which I believe is a higher capacity that Be Our Guest Restaurant. 

The other plan is for one of the attractions I proposed to replace Dragons Challenge. The idea was for a very family friendly traditional dark ride, something absolutely everyone could go on. At first I thought that the setting would have to be in Hogsmeade since that is where the attraction entrance would be, but then I realized that there are many magical means to quickly go somewhere else, so I had a lot of possibilities. I also always thought that it would be fun to see more of the castle in a practical setting, not just screens.

So that led me to decide that this attraction would be a dark ride tour through the more interesting spaces of the castle. Unlike the official tour given in Forbidden Journey, this would be an unofficial tour run by the Weasley twins in order to show guests the "real" Hogwarts. As the few that know all the secret tunnels into the castle, they are operating their tour out of the office directly above one of the most secret tunnels, which just so happens to be the Hogsmeade office of the Quibbler. 

The entrance and queue leads through the tabloid offices, passing the work desks, the storage of unsold issues, and their mini museum of bizarre artifacts and memorabilia. The queue then leads into the rocky tunnels at the back of the office and the load/unload space of the attraction. The dark ride is an omnimover style system with shell style vehicles that each seat 3. 

The attraction starts by entering the main tunnel to the castle, which is dark and windy and has a never ending branch leading off of it. Then we emerge out through a opening behind a painting into the actual castle. We are in a side hall by the moving stairs and at then end of the hall is the Weasley twins welcoming us to the castle, by form of peppers ghost musion projection. We are told that we are there unnoficially, so keep a watch out for any one looking official and to keep on the path they set. They will follow along with us to show us the best of Hogwarts. We continue to hear their narration through the rest of the tour from speakers in our vehicle.

The track then leads us into the Grand Staircase, where one of the legs above us is moving back and forth and the dozens of paintings on the walls are all moving and talking. The stairs fade into darkness and floating candles above us. We then pass through a fireplace and travel by Floo Network up to the Trophy Room of the castle, which is filled with the treasures and trophies. The Weasleys' narration tells us about some of the most unique items in the room, particularly those won by their friends. Outside of the Trophy Room is the Armoury hall, which features a corridor of talking suits of armor. That leads into the Hospital Wing, which holds a couple sick students and a great view of the sunset out the windows. The Weasley twins tell us of some of their most notable injuries at this point.

The path then takes us down a hall of magically animated tapestries that show the history of Hogwarts and then we continue into the Library. We pass rows of bookcases and desks, where books are magically floating around and students are studying. After exiting the Library, we pass through a dark hallway that is inhabited by the ghosts of the castle floating above us, talking to us and pointing out that we really are not supposed to be in this area of the castle. We continue on and are lead into the Transfiguration Classroom, where the Weasley twins are at the head of the classroom giving us a magic demonstration. The birds in cages around the room are constantly changing into comical objects in time with the spells.

The last set of rooms leads us out of the classroom and down a hall that includes a overlook over the rest of the castle and the forbidden forest at twilight. The Weasleys then tell us that they have saved the most important room for last. We turn and enter the room of requirement for the Weasleys, which is actually their joke test and storage room. The Room is full of tables of products and jokes, including many that are in the process of being tested, creating a dynamic room of flashing lights, smoke, smells, and movement. We finally pass through another fireplace and find ourselves in the Entrance Hall by the staircase, where the Weasleys are again found standing on the upper stairs. They thank us for coming to the castle and try to sell us some of their products one more time before we finally head back to Hogsmeade. We move down a hall, back through the painting, down the tunnel, and then find ourselves back at the unload space.

We leave our vehicle, exit the tunnels and walk down a hall into a new retail space. There are 5 new small retail spaces in this addition that are all themed to various magical businesses, forming a back street to the existing Hogsmeade.

I had a lot of fun working on these two Harry Potter additions but I am also really excited for what is actually happening in this area next year. Looks like a really great attraction that the park really needs. 

So that is it for this month. There are two other concepts I am currently working on, so I will make sure to get one of them finished for next month. Hoping it will be another big attraction I am working on, but it is pretty ambitious so I may end up behind schedule. So check twitter for any updates and thanks for reading!