Sunday, June 11, 2017

Beastly Kingdom

Every time I have asked for suggestions on what to work on for future posts, I inevitably get the suggestion from multiple readers for Beastly Kingdom.

I always have said that I am putting it on the list, and I'll get to it when some inspiration comes to me. The truth is that I wasn't all that sure if I would ever really get to it because I was hesitant to make an attempt at something so iconic and frankly I wasn't sure how to do it and not seem like I was just copying the original design. I didn't have the mental strategy for how to design my own Beastly Kingdom instead of just redesigning the unbuilt plans. That was always a much less interesting challenge for me, so I wasn't sure how or if I would ever get to it.

But recently, I decided that this would be a good time for it now that Pandora is open, so I sat down to really think about what I wanted out of this land to see if I could make progress.

And, as you can see by this post, I figured something out. The key for me was when I thought about the hypothetical lands relationship to the core values of Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom may be essentially a park about animals, but the deeper message is one of conservation by way of animals. This is emphasized in all the original lands and even more in Pandora, where they could have gone in a completely different direction but doubled down on what makes Animal Kingdom. That was something I knew I needed to do here as well.

So now I faced the question of how to make mythical creatures fit the idea of conservation. Its not a clear solution at first, but when looking at lists of mythical creatures, I realized there was a path by what animals I included. I decided to exclusively focus on mythical animals that were thought to be real but were actually based on misunderstandings of real animals. That way, the land can tie into how we understand and mythologize the animals we have, and how the animals we fail to protect become a part of legend.

That list of legendary creatures helped me figure out a design strategy that made sense to me, and the land quickly came together. Ironically, its still a little similar to the original design, but I reached that point by way of my own process, so I see that as ok, and maybe a sign that the original would have followed a similar concept.



The land developed into two halves, though not the light vs dark concept of the original, but a geographic split between Medieval Europe and Ancient Greece, two of the common mythical settings.

Some thoughts about the attraction mix before I start. Because of the huge variety of subjects I could use, I wanted to do multiple attractions for each area. I also wanted to include an animal trail to complement the existing ones in other lands. I don't know if they would still build new animal trails now, but I like them and wanted to try to make them work. And I also wanted to try to include an IP in the same way as Lion King in Africa: in theme and with realistic detail on the outside, and true to the IP on the inside. And most of all, I wanted to make sure I didn't just do exactly what the original plan had.





The land begins with the bridge crossing the river, the existing dragon rocks to the right, foreshadowing whats coming. Through the trees, we can see a medieval castle straight ahead, up on a rocky base. We walk along a raised stone pathway through the forest, and if we look down, there is a moat of crocodiles below to the left. As we come closer to the castle though, we notice that is it not intact. Sections are crumbling and burnt away and constantly smoking, and most startlingly, there is an occasional small blast of flame and smoke coming out of an upper cave opening below the castle. The stone castle walls continue beyond, built up into the mountain side, which grows to be a small range in the distance. This is the central icon of the land and the main element of the medieval area, which has the bulk of the attractions.

First, just after crossing the main bridge, on the right is the entrance to the animal trail. The path slopes down and runs along the river, down to a lower level below the main path. The idea for the animals in this trail is to focus on animals that were either once thought to be a myth, animals that were the inspiration for mythical creatures, or animals that are just bizarre. Each exhibit includes educational information about the history of the animal and its mythical relationship plus conservation information. First is a Reptile house, themed as a stone lodge in the forest, which has a collection of odd snakes and reptiles. Next is a small habitat for the Platypus, which was thought to be a myth for many years. Following that is a large pool for a small group of Manatees, the original mermaids, which spills over into the river beyond. The adjacent stone building is used for animal care for the Manatees. The path then leads under the main walkway of the land and finds the pool of Crocodiles, a possible dragon inspiration. Next is a small grove of Okapi, another once mythical real animal. Finally, there is a habitat for Komodo Dragons along the rocky cliff side by the castle. The path leads out at the base of the castle after passing through the dragons cave.

The entrance to the main ride of the land is also just next to this, and enters into the north side of the castle mountain. The queue leads through the dungeons and caves of the destroyed castle and leads to a castle dock where we board large boats for a trip through the forest and caves. This is the same system as Pirates in Shanghai. The large and long ride takes us through a dark and mysterious but magical forest, passing unicorns (inspired by rhinoceros horns), centaurs (based on horses), and griffins (inspired by dinosaur bones), and eventually leading back into the castle caves where we meet the huge dragon who has destroyed and then taken over the castle. This would be a large figure that would shoot flames at us for daring to approach it, sending us back over a waterfall drop and the conclusion of the ride.

The ride exits on the south side of the castle, where there is also an entrance to an interior counter service restaurant, set in the burnt away great hall of the castle. Logically, this should serve grilled and roasted meats, right?

Next to the castle is a second walking trail attraction, but without real animals. This would be pretty similar to the unicorn trail from the original plan, just not as a maze. The idea is a exploration area where guests can learn about and find some real mythical creatures. The path includes a look into the show building forest, a close up encounter with a unicorn that you can greet and touch, a herd of centaurs in a clearing, and a finale exploration of the cave of a pair of griffins.

The next area and attraction is a bit of a transition between the two stylistic areas. From the path by the castle and the bridge over the lagoon, guests attention is drawn to a focal waterfall along he opposite side of the water. In front of this waterfall is an occasional eruption of splashes and bubbles, as if something large is swimming just underneath. The entrance to the attraction is just by the castle, by a small boathouse, and leads down to the waters edge and behind the waterfall. The attraction inside is a dry for wet suspended dark ride through the world of the sea, just like the attraction at Tokyo Disney Sea. Guests board primitive submersible vehicles, made of wood and leather, and journey underwater, passing mermaids (based on manatees), a fleet of hippocampuses (literally seahorses), many other exotic plants and fish, and finally the kraken (based on the giant squid). The ride exits on the Greek side of the lagoon.

The Ancient Greece area is smaller and has two attractions. Standing at the base of the castle and looking west, the most visible thing is two large stone feet, ruins of a an even larger statue that has fallen away. Behind is a low range of rock, water flowing down to a small pool that feeds into the main lagoon and river. But more iconically, right behind is the huge head of the statue, crashed into the stone. This is the home of Philoctetes, the trainer of Hercules, and the entrance to a Hercules dark ride. Like I said, the exterior and queue is fully real and in theme to this mythic world while the actual attraction has the more lighthearted cartoon style. This would be a classic dark ride through the trials of the hero, narrated by the Muses, and focusing on his interactions with mythical creatures, such as Pegasus, Phil, and the Hydra.

The rest of the area holds one final original attraction. This is a coaster on the scale of Big Thunder Mountain that explores a mountain inhabited by a cyclops group (which were inspired by dwarf elephant skulls). Very loosely based on the story of the Greek Hero Odysseus and his encounter with a cyclops, the coaster winds through the Greek hills before first encountering and then escaping from the huge creature. After an interior portion where this happens, the cars are launched straight out of the cave towards the river beyond and then wind their way back through the rockwork.

Beyond the attraction, along the river, is a large Greek boat, docked along the path. Also nearby is a Greek ruins shack that is a snack and drink location.

As for retail overall in the land, the main location is at the exit of the castle ride, plus a very small area in the caves of the underwater attraction and fully themed retail carts outside of the exits for Hercules and the Cyclops coaster.



The land would be able to transform a bit at night, focusing on the ruined castle. At night, by way of special lighting and other effects, it could be permanently ignited, glowing from the remaining embers of the fire created by the dragon inside. The water effects in the lagoon could also be joined by a variety of moving light sources under the water, showing creatures moving about.



This version of Beastly Kingdom is definitely different that what we know of the original, but I hope it has the same spirit and style plus a compatible tone with the rest of the park. After a year of not thinking I would be able to make something that I was happy with, this quite suddenly came to being and I think it is a success. 

That's not to say that what we got instead isn't also great for the park. Can't wait to see Pandora as it looks incredible and appears to fit in the park so well. So either way, I think Animal Kingdom is doing all right. 

So. Let me know your thoughts about Beastly Kingdom, this version and the original. What attractions from the original do you still wish I had included? Leave a comment and lets discuss what could have been great about the original, what you like about this concept, and even your thoughts about the land we got instead. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Disneyland's Tomorrowland: A New Vision



Tomorrowland is my favorite land in the castle style parks. Actually, let me rephrase that and be more honest. Tomorrowland is my favorite by potential of the theme. In actual practice, it has some issues that keep it from being the top. The issue that stands out to me, present in every single Tomorrowland/Discoveryland, is that there is just too much contradiction present from years of IP additions and a lack of singular vision. It may be Tomorrowland, but it does not reflect Tomorrow. As has been said many times before, building the future is hard in comparison to lands that predominately look to the past, so it is to an extent understandable. But that doesn't mean there can't be another try at it. 

So this plan, which is elaborated from the expansion plans I proposed for Disneyland last year, is my attempt at completely starting over with the land and developing a new identity for Tomorrowland, just like has been attempted in real life a couple times before. 

Instead of aliens and sci-fi or looking to the past, I decided to follow the model of what I see as the most successful attempt at building the future: EPCOT, with a particular focus on space. I wanted to follow a realistic but optimistic guiding principle of building a better future, even as we travel to new frontiers. 

I really see this as the most clear fulfillment of the original purpose of the land. The core childhood fantasy that defined the world of tomorrow has always been the fantasy of becoming an astronaut and going to space. This is the land where we look to the future and to the stars, always optimistic for a better tomorrow. So that was my core philosophy and guiding principle for the following design.

As you continue reading this post, it might be valuable to have some background music. So here's a playlist with a couple of tracks I put together that fit the style I imagine for the land. 



Before getting to the actual design, I want to start with the varied sources of inspiration.

One of the biggest inspirations for the subject, the tone, and the style of the land comes from the above series of NASA posters which show our universe as a series of travel destinations. These are so well designed and optimistic, suggesting a time where the universe is accessible and a part of human society. I like that idea for Tomorrowland. Specifically, I am using The Grand Tour to suggest the setting of the land. This Tomorrowland is a space travel station on Earth that is celebrating the alignment of the planets for the Grand Tour and inviting us guests to learn about and ultimately travel to space.

The next primary inspiration, like I mentioned, is EPCOT from the early years. The inspiration is less of the style but absolutely the tone and specifically the Horizons attraction. The realistic hard science approach of EPCOT stands is opposition to the fantasy style of many of the existing Tomorrowlands, but I am confident it could work. Especially because of the success of so many space science movies over the last few years. If entertaining, real science doesn't drive people away. So EPCOT and its attractions are a big element here. More on that later.

And finally, I have to mention the Tomorrowland movie. Though I don't reference it explicitly in the design of the land, again the style and philosophy are a big factor. Getting architecture specific, that means that the highly organic architecture of Santiago Calatrava is present in the inspiration imagery. Overall, the idea is clean and white, organic and sweeping, dense but open, and monumentally impressive. 



Now to the overall concept of the design.

Like mentioned, this is a futuristic space travel station on Earth where the optimistic ideals of space travel are idealized. There is no overly complicated story or definite setting besides the general theme of the future.

The land is divided into three districts. Future Tech at the entrance to the land, Future Life to the north of the land, and Future Frontiers to the south of the land. At the center, forming the thematic core of the land is a new Horizons attraction, which ties the ideas of the three districts together into a single concept.

The significant element of the renovation that needs to be mentioned first is the addition of a second level to the land in the form of an organic sweeping walkway that connects many of the existing buildings. There's a couple reasons for this addition. Logistically, existing Tomorrowland is tight and when it is crowded, it's not fun. The second level, and the decision to place some of the attraction entrances on the second level, is an attempt to spread some of the crowds. But aesthetically, I think there is something interesting about the visual density and kinetic value of two levels of pathways. There is density, but organized density, and the visual of guests walking above or below you suggests there is more to be seen. The upper level has a staircase and elevator tower on either end for access.





Future Tech is focused on how technology creates a better future and includes both real life and slightly fantastical examples of the cutting edge of science and technology.

This district starts at The Hub. The Astro Orbiter is removed from the front of the land and moved back to the central tower. So to replace it is a new fountain, called the Fountain of the Worlds, sitting at the same spot as the original Clock of the World. Behind, the Peoplemover track is adjusted. The central run is removed to allow for better crowd flow and the second level addition, but the track is adjusted to cut straight across the path from building to building, so it is still able to be a kinetically dynamic entrance element to the land. Ahead, the second level and the exterior glass elevator tower is visible. There are staircase access points in both the buildings on the left and right, where new occupiable second levels are constructed.

The Future Tech district has four attractions. To the left is a replacement for Buzz Lightyear, which does not fit in the theme. To the right is a replacement for Star Tours, which also does not fit theme. And above on the second level is the entrance to the new Peoplemover and the relocated Astro Orbiter.

Replacing Buzz is a dark ride based on Big Hero 6, which I believe has the same positive science and technology philosophy as my idea for the land. Like I have said before, I am not opposed to IPs if used properly. in my opinion, Big Hero 6 fits the setting and tone of the land, so it's perfectly ok here. The dark ride uses the same track and similar omnimover vehicles for a tour through the Big Hero group technology workshop, set up like the lab scene in the film. We tour through a series of labs, guided by Baymax, where each of the team members demonstrates some kind of futuristic technology they are working on, created with practical interactive effects. Things like electromagnetic levitation, high tech robotics, laser technology, and of course microbots are demonstrated in a fun and entertaining way. The main lab scene is open to both the accessible second level above, where the staircase comes down to the ground level of the lab, and a large curtain wall looking out to the main pathway. I want the crazy technology lab setting, filled with movie robots and lasers and experiments to be highly visible.

Across the main path is the replacement for Star Tours. Ideally, it should close as soon as Star Wars Land opens and the new attraction will retain the simulator system. To reflect the Future Tech concept, the new attraction shows the future of transportation in the form of an ultra high speed public transport train that gives a tour of the future world of tomorrow. The exterior is redressed as a transit station, with locations and times tickering by on update boards. The glass curtain wall looks into the waiting room queue with an exposed upper level mezzanine.


The trip take us through first the immediate area of Tomorrowland, expanding the scope of the land, and then high speed jumps across the country and world, showing us what could be the world of Tomorrow, like a version of London where a rocket dwarfs Big Ben. This is a little inspired by the dynamic train trip in the Tomorrowland movie and therefore passes some similar visions before expanding around the world. It could be possible to have multiple different itineraries just like the current version.

The upper level to the waiting room is the queue for the Peoplemover, reinforcing the transit theme of the building. The Peoplemover follows the same track, minus the central section that I already mentioned. It goes counterclockwise around the land, looking into many of the attractions and explaining the Districts organization and overall theme of the land.

The Astro Orbiter is now up on the upper level in its original position, and its queue is on the middle level below it. There is a new elevator tower built adjacent as well.



Next, the Future Life District is actually just existing attractions and locations in a new grouping. The concept of the district is the future of life on Earth, showing a high tech civilization that better lives on and with the natural world.

First, Nemo is removed from the Subs. The new attraction retains the subs and infrastructure, but now is dressed as high tech research vessels that explores life underwater while on a trip to SeaBase Pacific, an underwater futuristic community. The trip includes exotic fish, encounters with a whale and a giant squid, and ultimately a trip through the futuristic world of civilization underwater, passing by other high tech water crafts and divers. It utilizes the same screen technology as the existing version, plus more sets and limited real figures in SeaBase Pacific. Back outside, there is also a bridge built over the corner of the lagoon to resolve another bottleneck and allow for cool visual connections into the lagoon.

The Autopia is slightly shortened and there is an additional indoor scene built, but it is essentially the same. The Monorail is also rerouted slightly to stay out of Fantasyland. Both of these moves were done to open up an expansion plot for Fantasyland. The Train is also in this area, and also gets a bit of change. Maybe controversially, I propose the complete removal of the Grand Canyon Scene, to be replaced with a scene that shows a diorama of a vista over an expansive and active Tomorrowland. Showing a large and busy city, the view would include ships and Monorails and cars flying by, both physically and projected. The style would be clean, bright, and optimistic, like the rest of the land. The transition between this scene and the next has the train pass through a series of strobing laser fields, to suggest some kind of teleportation into the past of the next scene. The Primeval World show scene would get a thorough refurbishment to update the figures and effects to act as a fitting and thrilling finale to the Grand Tour.

Last for this area, the Tomorrowland Terrace is renamed and the covered area is expanded into a new organic based restaurant. Reflecting foods grown on earth, the new menu would be an attempt at something healthier and more diverse. Just to the south, by the Astro Orbiter, is an outdoor garden area, showing many of these Earth grown foods.



The final district, Future Frontiers, is all about space travel, and is centered on the existing Space Mountain.

The 3D theater at the base of Space Mountain is removed and replaced with a better entrance way to Space Mountain, a new attraction, and a new post show area for the two attractions. Anchored by a giant modern 45' rocket (reminiscent of the original one from Tomorrowland), guests enter a new space flight concourse, where they can turn left to enter the existing queue system of Space Mountain, or go straight to enter the new attraction, Mission: Mars. The right leads to the post show from both attractions, which expands into the Starcade.

Mission: Mars is new iteration of the space flight simulator attraction, combing elements of Mission: Space and the original Mission to Mars. The attraction is based in a theater in the round underneath a spherical projection dome, but the theater is not stationary. The attraction uses a custom motion base system and has two identical theaters. The round theater seating platform is on a full motion base and can rotate and slightly pitch in both directions under the seamless projection dome.The entire base can also rotate along one horizontal axis 30° forward and 15° backward. The seats also recline to about 10 degrees so that you have a great view looking up into the dome. The diagrams below explain this a bit better.





This motion would allow for some slightly realistic show action to coordinate with the rocket flight and trip through space. Guests launch from the Tomorrowland Spaceport, stop off at a massive Space Station, showing life in space, and then rocket on to Mars and land at a station right above the Red Planet. The spinning motion of the theater during launch would simulate minor g forces of launch and flight, and the pitch would be able to simulate some interesting floating through space, disorienting your true gravity. Here's a video showing how the theater could move.



The post show from both attractions would be set in a Space Station and feature astronaut games and panoramas looking out to the alien world.

Rocket Rods Pizza Port next door is renamed and redressed to fit in with the Space Port look and theme.



Finally, the attraction at the center between the three districts is a new version of Horizons that ties themes from all three areas together into one vision of the future. Occupying the entirety of the former carousel building, it can be a pretty large attraction. The entrance is on the upper level, and on the lower level, there is a small home of the future style walk through, where you get to actually step into one of the sets along the ride path.



That describes the complete attraction vision for the land. But text doesn't really convey the visual style that I have in mind. So I decided to built it. The whole land. That's why this post took extra long. Enjoy the design below, ending with a pretty exciting flythrough of the land.












So that is my Tomorrowland. I am really happy with it and hope you do too. 

Let me know what you think! And I would really appreciate any kind of sharing! 



Tomorrowland Architecture Image Credits
1. The Octopian
2. All Ears
3. Disney by Mark
4. and 5. Google Maps

Tomorrow World Transit Image Credits
1. Daily Mail
2. Londontopia
3. Futuristic News



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My Top 10 Theme Park Design Books

So I have a pretty extensive theme park book collection. I am sure that many of you have some kind of collection as well since we are lucky that so many good books have been released in the last decade. Amazingly, theme park design books are actually a popular genre of large format books, with a few good new ones just about every year, covering basically everything to do with Disney parks. Imagineering as a topic, each individual resort, books by famous Imagineers, books on individual disciplines, and collections of art are all widely represented.

And I have a lot of them. Books like this are really my primary collection, which I enjoy because the books have real use and value. They are great sources of information and inspiration for how theme parks are designed.

So this week, I want to start a potential series of Top lists by sharing my favorite theme park design books with you.

These are my Top 10.





Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making Magic Real

I'm starting here with one of the first of the now popular genre of theme park design books, and possibly one of the best. This is organized along the design process, from inspiration to construction and includes literally hundreds of great photos and pieces of concept art that you may have never seen before. This is the book that starts it all and really reveals in detail how Imagineering works. Just looking at all the images in detail can take hours, plus the text is incredibly informative. 

This was the first book about Imagineering that I had and likely the first to make me aware that designing theme parks was something you could actually do. So I guess this books a little important to how you are reading this.

Definitely worth having if you want to know more about the general idea of Imagineering. There appear to be some used versions on Amazon for ok prices. A great book to start with.





Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real

And then came the equally great sequel. Since this is much more recent, it is able to expand on how Imagineering has changed over the years with new technology, new rides, and new parks. This one is instead organized into the theory of design and the tools of design, but still covers the same expanse of topics with all new photos and art. Especially great is all the art and photos of the more recent international parks, including everything before Shanghai. A lot of this stuff I had never seen before.

This is another great general overview kind of book. If you want to start a collection, these two books are where to start because of their availability and their look at the entirety of Imagineering's projects and processes.

And this one is still available on Amazon for a good price, so a perfect place to start. 







Designing Disney's Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance

This book begins to look at the design of parks from a more theory heavy perspective, and therefore is much less of a picture book and more like a text book about theme park design. This is by far the most analytical of the books I have and takes a deep look into the architectural and planning design of the parks and the effects they have on the experience. Its thorough. But has great information if you want to have a better theoretical understanding of why the parks are designed like they are. 

This one is available used for good prices, but this wouldn't be my first suggestion for starting a collection. Pick this one up when your ready for a more involved look at the parks. And when you are ready for a long read. 




Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show

This is a smaller book but it makes the list because it was written by John Hench and shares a lot of his personal strategies about design along with a lot of his great art. Plus I am partial to all his work on Tomorrowland, and this is filled with those images. I also really appreciate that part of this comes to design from an art perspective, with chapters focusing on the art of visual storytelling and the art of color. By the portfolio of projects he left us, we know that he knew what he was talking about, so I see this as an especially valuable book. 

I believe there are two versions of this book, with varied price levels on the used market. If you can get it, its a great book, but if you can't, the more general Imagineering books are an acceptable substitute. 




Walt Disney's EPCOT: Creating the New World of Tomorrow


Moving on to the section of park specific books, this is the ultimate document of the design and construction of original EPCOT. With sections on each pavilion and country, this is filled with photos and art of how EPCOT was and should have been. There is so much stuff that I had never seen before in this book since I never saw original EPCOT.

Plus it is just incredible to see all the alternate concepts that never were. EPCOT by far had some of the best concept art used in the design of the park and a lot of it is in this book.

The only pitch this book needs is that if you love EPCOT, you need to see this book.

This book again has multiple versions. The two I have are one that is the thick complete book and one smaller condensed edition. There are used listings online for really good prices, but I don't know how to tell between the two versions because they have the same cover and title. The ISBN for the better version is 0-8109-0819-0 if that helps find it.





Disneyland Inside Story

The Disneyland specific book on my list is included for its photos of Disneyland construction and the early days of the park. It covers a good bit of Disney history, heavily focusing on the creation of the park and the years before Walt's death, ending in the mid 80's, where a chapter describes Tony Baxter as part of the new generation of Imagineers.

It's probably the best Disneyland general overview book you can get besides the famed and extremely expensive Nickle Tour book which I don't own. But that's ok, this still has an amazing collection of classic park photos.

This one you can get used for pretty good prices online and is worth it for the images and history lesson.





Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality

This is another very well known book that for a while was reaching crazy resale prices, but has returned with a second printing. This is the best book about Disneyland Paris and fantastically shows off the details and beauty of the park. There are hundreds and hundreds of photos of the Disneyland Park and the overall resort. 

The most amazing part about this book, and what makes this completely unique among the books here, is that it is a fan created and published book, not directly created by Disney like every other book here. It's an incredible feat and is worth getting if you want to see more about Disneyland Paris. 

The author and publisher put out a second printing for the 20th anniversary of the resort 5 years ago, and amazingly still has some copies for sale from his website here. Its a little expensive, but if its your kind of thing, it is worth the cost. And available in French and English editions. 





One Day at Disney

This book makes the list for me because I think it was the first time that I realized there were multiple Disney parks all around the world. This book, like the title suggests, shows the events of a single day around the world, at all 4 resorts that existed at the time. 

It is not as spectacular as some of the other books here, but I found it incredibly cool to see the parks around the world and more interestingly see a look into how they work. Since its one day around the world, it includes pictures of how the parks and cleaned and maintained over night, which I found really cool. There's some great candid photos in the book as the focus of the book is not really the image of the parks but how guests and cast members use the parks. So its a good contrast to the architecture heavy books around this. 

This book seems to be a bit more expensive online than I would say it is worth, but if you see a deal, its a pretty neat and unique book especially if you are interested in the logistics of the world wide Disney operation.




Building a Dream: The Art of Disney Architecture

This book is here because of my specific background as an architect. There's some good information about the general design of the parks from an architectural perspective. But way more interestingly, the parks are only about 1/4 of the book, with the rest about nearly everything else Disney touches. Hotels worldwide, Disney corporate offices, the Town of Celebration, Downtown Disney, Theaters, and even the Cruise Line are covered, though the majority really is the hotels.

There's a lot of great images of all the hotels with good theory commentary about how they were designed. It definitely was written for readers who can understand and appreciate the architectural design practice of the included projects but the images are plenty if that isn't for you. 

This is yet another book with multiple versions. The one above is more recent and includes more recent projects. Between the two versions, there are a huge variety of prices online. I have to laugh that currently Amazon has listings for both at less than $30 AND over $1,000 simultaneously. If the great pictures of the hotels and resorts or the architectural theory are your interest, this book is probably worth it for the right price.




Maps of the Disney Parks
And last, the most recent of the books in my collection, and maybe the most specialized. This book has an assortment of maps, art, and concept pieces of all the parks around the world. Maps, as I am sure you can tell by reading here, are my kind of thing, so I was definitely into this book just from the name. 

The best part of this book is just the sheer amount of high res concept pieces there are on alternate versions of the Disney parks we know today. Organized by each park and including Shanghai, this gives new information about basically every park. If you like maps, this is your book. 

It's just less than a year old, so you should have no problem finding this one. 



Last, two special mentions that I did not include. The Art of Disneyland and Art of Walt Disney World books are really great collections of concept art for both resorts. They are both extensive and show a lot of stuff that is not found in any other book. They are really among my favorites, but I didn't include them because they are both out of print and therefore really expensive on the resale market, at least $200 or so. Everything else I listed above should be quite a bit cheaper than that. If you can get these and like concept art, they are worth it. 



So that's my Top 10 Theme Park books. Just a small part of my collection, but some great pieces. 

So, how many of these do you own? What are some of your favorite pieces of you collection? Let me know with a comment and we can talk books!