Monday, July 9, 2018

WDW Parks Expansion Plans Recap and Wrap Up

Over the last half year, I posted here a series of expansion plans for the Walt Disney World Resort parks with my hypothetical takes at how I would grow and improve the parks. This was a big project for me with some really good results I think.

This post is a recap and wrap up, plus a closer look into a couple of my favorite lands. First, the look back at the posts.



We started with two plans for the Magic Kingdom back in October.

Magic Kingdom Plan A - This was my attempt at a realistic plan, incorporating the real additions coming soon and a couple of other small but impactful additions to the park, mostly in Tomorrowland and Adventureland. Of course, this was made before the Main Street Theater was cancelled, so it still remains in this park.

Magic Kingdom Plan B - This is the crazy ambitious dream plan that goes a little overboard with new additions to the park. Major additions come to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, but every land sees something new and exciting, including expansions to Fantasyland and Frontierland in the northern undeveloped area of the park.



EPCOT was the focus in January with 3 versions of the park with 3 different goals.

EPCOT Plan A - This is another realistic plan, though it is on the ambitious side. The focus was to redefine the central spine of Future World, add new relevant characters to pavilions in both halves of the park, and add a new country to World Showcase. I defied expectations and instead of Brazil or Spain, I went with Saudi Arabia because I was interested in how some Middle Eastern representation would look in World Showcase. Plus, I followed the strong rumor and placed a new hotel outside the park gates.

EPCOT Plan B - This plan is the ambitious plan if the park were to go all in on characters and IP. It includes many of the additions from Plan A, plus new Future World pavilions for space featuring WALL-E, the seasons featuring Bambi, and a new take on Horizons at the center of the park. New World Showcase countries include Peru featuring the Emperors New Groove and Equatorial Africa featuring Tarzan, plus all other countries get a character based attraction.

EPCOT Plan C - This big plan is an alternate take on Plan B, where instead there are no characters anywhere in the park and actually assumes that some current additions didn;t actually happen. New Future World pavilions are created for Imagination, Weather, Health, and Computers plus Horizons from the last plan. New World Showcase countries featuring all original attractions are Ethiopia, India, South Africa, and Malaysia, plus Peru and Saudi Arabia from past plans.



Hollywood Studios had just one plan posted back in April, because I decided that so much was already happening to the park that a realistic plan was redundant.

Hollywood Studios Plan A - The goal of this big plan was to follow the lead of Toy Story Land and Galaxys Edge by creating more fully immersive single universe lands that represent the other studio brands of the Company. So that led to the creation of new lands for Marvel, Cars, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc, and Toontown, plus some additions to Sunset Boulevard to represent live action films.



Lastly, two plans for Animal Kingdom were posted early this summer.

Animal Kingdom Plan A - This is a step above a realistic plan, but with this being my favorite park, I got a little carried away. I added one all new land, North America, with attractions and an animal trail. I rethemed one land, changing Planet Watch to Zootopia with a new attraction. And I made major additions to Dinoland with a new coaster and a heavily reworked version of Mystic Manor. Plus a couple small additions to other lands.

Animal Kingdom Plan B - This might be the largest and craziest of my dream plans because it basically doubles the park in one move. There are new lands for Europe, North America, Australia, and South America, all with many attractions, both original and IP.



Some stats for these plans.

Across all the plans, there are approximately 20 new lands, approximately 30 new IPs represented, and approximately 80 new attractions. That's a lot.



To conclude this wrap up, I decided to share enlarged plans of my favorite land from each park. This was a bit of a difficult decision for some of the parks, but I was able to decide on just 4.


In the Magic Kingdom, I choose Tomorrowland from Plan B.

I took inspiration from the organic canopy of the future TRON attraction to create a new sweeping element that crosses the east side of the land, incorporating the entrance to Space Mountain, a new elevated table service restaurant, and a permanent outdoor stage. The other big move for the land is the redesign of the Autopia into a very organic and winding track that includes a flyover above the public walkway and around a large freestanding rocket. The concept of the land is that the setting is an intergalactic science showcase of the future. All the new attractions support this idea by showing various fantasy science/technology topics. Time travel, alien technology, robotics are featured in the additions.


For EPCOT, I decided on Future World Central from Plan C.

The big change here is a complete rethinking of the spine through the center of the park in geometry and logic. The goal was to open up the center of the park, make it greener and more organic, and add new attractions that make sense in the core of the park. The two new attractions are new versions of Imagination and Horizons which along with Spaceship Earth form the thesis statement of the park. These are three attractions about the bigger picture of human progress and the topics of the rest of Future World support them. The center of the land is redeveloped with a new high tech fountain, a permanent stage and viewing area, and a new counter service restaurant that serves healthy Earth based food and features a 360 degree outdoor view of Future World. Also visible in this plan are a pair of new outdoor attractions for Future World East and West with the intention of adding kinetics to the area. A trackless water based teacups style ride sits in the west side and a jetpack spinner is placed in the east side.



In the Hollywood Studios Plan, I picked Toontown.


This is an urban take on Toontown, set in the downtown of the city featured in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The entrance it through a pair of tunnels from Sunset Boulevard and lead to a cartoony and exagerated city street. First is the downtown area, which includes a Ducktales suspended dark ride in the McDuck Bank, a large spinning dark ride taxi tour of the city, an apartment themed meet and greet location, and many very themed retail locations. The other end of the land is Toontown Gardens Park, which includes a carousel of animated animals and the Toontown Amphitheater, playing Fantasmic. The highlight attraction is a boat ride through the Sorcerers Workshop, where magic lets us travel right into the animated classics.


And for Animal Kingdom, I choose Europe from Plan B.


This land takes over more than half of Dinoland and serves as the mythological animal land in my version of this park. It is set in a Greek village adjacent to a mountain and the ruins of an ancient temple. The town square includes a restaurant and a new version of Mystic Manor that focuses just on mythological animals from history. The mountain, which is topped by a giant ruined statue head, holds a flume dark ride based on Hercules and focusing on his trials that feature animals of mythology. The rest of the land holds an outdoor spinning coaster around and through the ruins and an adjacent spring that is guarded by a dragon.



And that's the conclusion to this huge project, for now at least. At least a couple of attractions from this project are likely to be future posts.

But I also want to be able to move on to other original projects. In fact, I have tentatively decided to retire from doing these expansion plans for existing parks and really just do original projects from now on. That means new parks with new themes, and new attractions for both existing parks and new parks. That's way more fun and more challenging for me, so that's what I want to do from now on.

So there will be another post this month, an analysis essay project that I have been wanting to do for a long time about theme park layout form. And then likely an attraction the month after that.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Disney's Animal Kingdom: The Dream Plan

And the end is here, the last post in this series of plans for the current Walt Disney World Resort parks, ending with a dream plan for the Animal Kingdom.

This follows up my plans for Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and the first plan for Animal Kingdom posted over the last year. These are my for fun, hypothetical plans for how I would expand and improve the 4 parks of the Resort. I last published plans for these parks 3 years ago, and a lot has changed. New attractions have opened and are coming soon to the parks, and I think I have improved as a designer as well.

This is a big plan and maybe my favorite of all the ones I have done in this series because this is my favorite current park and I was able to fit in a lot of cool ideas. Animal Kingdom is a special park so I really felt the need to maintain its message and style through these additions. My goals were to add the rest of the continents if possible, add more live animal trails, make sure each land has a basis in a real setting and concept, and to fit logically fit in IP only when it serves the overall land.



Let's start with a diagram of the new lands in the park. There are 5 new lands in this plan, doubling what is existing and now every continent (except Antarctica) is represented. As you can see, the plan maximizes the open land in the northeast of the park for most of this expansion.



And here's the plan with the labels. Definitely zoom in, there is a lot of detail.



There are only a couple elements from the previous plan that remain in this plan. We start at the front of the park, where there are less changes and work towards the all new back half.

The Discovery Island Riverboats return and now make a full one stop loop that loads at the Discovery Island dock. A large indoor section is added to the trip to add some unique sights.

A third attraction is added to Pandora, a trackless exploration dark ride through the forest in search of animals. The dark ride vehicles are ACE all-terrain jeeps that can go anywhere in the jungle to find even the most rare creatures. The queue leads into an indoor bioluminescent cave, like the one featured in Flight of Passage, where guests load and start to explore. The unique element of the trackless system is that guests can make choices along the way as to which direction they will actually go. A "nightvision" system on the jeep gives a look at what animals are ahead at a few splits in the path, and guests can chose which animals they would more like to see. The animals themselves would be a mix of practical figures and screen elements, and the climax of the attraction would be the discovery of a full size sleeping banshee in its cave, forcing us to make a quick escape before waking it up.


In this plan, Dinoland goes a different direction than the last plan. I decided to use the expansion space next to Dinoland for a brand new land, so the existing land was shrunk down to a minimum of the Boneyard, Restaurantosaurus, Dinosaur, and two small new attractions.

The first is a Dinosaur rehabilitation enclosure where guests can get up close with a couple real life dinosaurs, created as highly detailed animatronics that can interactively react to guests.

The other is a whip style spinner, the same as Alien Spinning Saucers, themed to excavation equipment. The rocky wall behind the spinner has exposed dinosaur bones forming an interesting backdrop.


The land that takes over the rest of Dinoland is Europe. This land is set in a Greek village adjacent to ancient ruins and serves as the mythical animal land of the park. The mythological history of Europe gives a lot of potential. The new land contains 3 attractions and a small counter service location. To make room for this land, the backstage dock is relocated to the space just behind Expedition Everest. That space is nearly unusable for public space because of the backside of the Everest showbuilding, so make sense to make it backstage space.

The land starts after guests take the path around Dinoland and enter the Greek village (Image 2). The left is a Mediterranean counter service restaurant with a seating courtyard, the right is retail, and straight ahead is a Greek artifact museum, which is another unique take on Mystic Manor (Image 4).

Instead of being set in a house, it is set in a museum with a huge and diverse collection of artifacts and art of Greek mythological animals. Similar to the original version of the ride, events cause the artifacts to come to life while we tour. Animals on the trip include Unicorns, Mermaids, Gryphons, a Dragon, and more.

Just past the village is the iconic sight of the land, a mountain side with a huge wrecked statue head perched near the top, with water falling from its mouth and flowing down the mountain to the river stream below (Image 3). Flume boats fall down the mountainside and splash down between a equally huge pair of crumbling statue feet. This is a Hercules themed flume dark ride along the animal based trials of Hercules, including the Hydra as the final climax before dropping down the flume. Like the use of Lion King in Africa, I think IP can work well in the lands of Animal Kingdom if the setting makes sense and if the exterior is treated with the same level of realism and detail as the rest of the park. So it is hyper-real on the exterior and animated on the inside.

The other attraction is a spinning coaster based on the story of the Ismenian Dragon which guarded a spring near Thebes and was defeated by Cadmus (Image 1). The coaster uses small cars that have controlled spin through segments of the ride. It starts with an outdoor segment but quickly moves into a substantial indoor segment of coaster track and showscenes featuring the dragon. Then there is a high speed launch that leads into a high banked turn up and over the rocky mountain side that is visible throughout the land and then concludes with a lot of banked turns through the landscape as the car is spinning.


The next change is in Asia and the space between Asia and Africa. This area is redeveloped to include a pathway north to the expansion plot and the new lands. The current Up bird show theater is removed and in its place is a Jungle Book omnimover dark ride with the classic animated characters.

The path leading north leads under a train trestle and then through a tunnel under the existing backstage road. Adjacent to this path is a new smaller theater space for animal shows that are not necessarily Asia or bird specific. The small theater could have hourly rotating shows with a closer look at various types of animals.

Also of note is that the train is expanded from being just a two stop loop with not much to see into a large 3 stop loop that winds through these new lands. It includes a unique showscene out behind the new lands that is half outside, looking into a canyon, and half inside a cave. The train seats are reconfigured to face forward like a normal train instead of facing out so guests can see both sides of the track.


The first new land to the north is North America. After passing through the tunnel, the path opens up into a Redwood Forest style setting with a large wooden National Park style lodge ahead and the train running along an elevated trestle to the right through the woods. The path first goes past a log cabin counter service location and along a stream.

Just past that is the entrance to the animal trail for the land. I am unsure if in reality there will ever be any more animal trails built, but I felt the need to include it. The Red Creek Trail winds through the forest, first passing a raccoon habitat, then going through a bird enclosure, followed by environments for elk, beavers, and foxes. The feature animal of the trail are bears, who have a very large habitat to look into (Image 1). The trail then concludes with otters before exiting back to the land.

Inside the main Lodge building is the majority of the retail for the land and the main attraction, a balloon simulator that flies guests through the wonders of many National Parks (Image 3). Guests fly over a variety of settings including canyons, deserts, forests, and mountain ranges (Image 2). Native animals are featured elements in many of the settings. This is a ride system that I detailed in a post earlier this year.

The last attraction of this land is a Pocohantas boat dark ride. Guests ride in 8 person canoe boats down the river and around the bend into the story of the movie. Animals and our connection with nature are featured elements of the story.


Past that last attraction and through a section of transition forest is a split to two more lands, South America to the left and Australia to the right. Straight ahead is a transition attraction, a large treehouse, that in a way occupies all 3 of these lands. The treehouse looks over this northern expansion and is themed to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers who have explored all these locations.


Australia is the smallest of the new lands and also does not have an IP tie in. Finding Nemo would have been the only real choice but this is meant to exists at the same time as the dream plan with IP from EPCOT and Finding Nemo is already well represented there. Through the transition jungle, we enter into a rustic Village with a train station that is the second stop on the enlarged loop (Image 1 and 4).

The animal trail is entered through the village and leads under the railroad to the forest on the other side of the tracks. It starts with Koalas and then Emus before entering a large reptile and bug house, showing many of the exotic and dangerous animals of the continent. The main animal of the trail is kangaroos, which have a large habitat that takes up most of this trail. It concludes with Sugargliders and Tiger Quolls, then leading back to the village.

At the end of the village street is small gorge with a stream running down from it and forming a small river that runs through the land (Image 2). A dock and a large boat sit next to this stream, marking the entrance to the main attraction for the land, a submersible boat trip down the river and to the great barrier reef (Image 3). This is a dry for wet suspended dark ride, like 20,000 Leagues in Tokyo Disney Sea, that simulates a trip underwater. The queue takes us through a research aquarium before we load into our boats. On the trip, we start by seeing freshwater fish before exploring the open ocean, created with a mix of real coral reef sets, animatronic fish, and projections.


The third and largest land of this expansion is South America and has two areas, a village on the west side of the land and an abandoned factory city on the east side, based on Fordlandia, a real abandoned rubber processing city in Brazil.

From the split in the path by the treehouse and North America, the first attraction on the left is marked by Carl Fredricksen's house sitting in the jungle. The attraction is a "trackless" suspended dark ride that tours guests through the jungle, led by the Wildernes Explorers. Next to the area with the house is a huge waterfall and lagoon that connects into the small river. The village area is nearby and includes retail and a table service Brazilian restaurant. 

Across the river is the animal trail for the land, the third and final new one for the park. This includes the most amount of animals in any of the new trails. It starts with Holwer Monkeys and Capybaras before entering a frog and reptile house. After that is a bird enclosure that also features owls. Then guests pass Llamas and Sloths before the main animal habitat for Jaguars. 

A path through the jungle leads to the other half of the land with a tall rusting water tower leading guests towards it. The factory town has been reclaimed by an environmental group that tracks endangered animals in the region. This area includes a counter service restaurant that overlooks the river and one large attraction that begins in the abandoned factory building. 

The ride uses the Radiator Springs/Test Track ride system to create a high speed jeep exploration through the jungle, searching for an animal that has gone missing. The first half is indoors with a lot of showscenes and animatronic animals, and the second half is a outdoors, starting with a launch and then running through the jungle below the path above. 


The last changed area in this plan is a reimagining of Rafiki's Planet Watch as the city of Zootopia. The path from South America leads into Bunny Burrow, a suburb area of Zootopia where there is also a train station. The path leads past a couple local produce stands and a Bunny Burrow themed carousel on the way to the main city. Guests enter the Zootopia central Train Station, where there is a large retail space and then pass into the central plaza of the city. Straight ahead is the Zootopia Police Department where the main attraction is, to the left is a counter service restaurant, and to the right is the Hospital, which is the existing animal care building, rethemed to be in story for the city.

The attraction is an indoor family coaster dark ride where guests join a ride along with ZPD for a trip through the different districts of Zootopia.



And that completes my ideas for this dream plan for Animal Kingdom. I really love this park a lot, so I was really excited to put some ideas together to add to it. I hope that the additions would be able to expand the style and message of the park while increasing the diversity of animals and experiences.

Like I said, this concludes the series of new plans for the Walt Disney World parks. I am not sure what is next, but I'll be sticking with the one post a month plan, so come back in July to see what I end up making. Before then, I will probably do a wrap up summary post of this series to look at the overall plan, but that will be a bonus post in the next few weeks. 

Thanks for reading!



Image Credits

Europe
1. https://akhsmonsters2b.wikispaces.com/Drakon+Shrishail
2. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mmm-yoso/16654103659/
3. Hercules
4. https://www.flickr.com/photos/andyhay/28226806320/

North America
1. https://www.flickr.com/photos/blacktigersdream/26126991224/
2. https://www.flickr.com/photos/anitagould/8433712377/
3. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mike_miley/5943734608/
4. https://www.flickr.com/photos/kjmagnuson/35003863925/

Australia
1. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gouldy/5384257558/
2. https://www.flickr.com/photos/28127145@N06/2901147552/
3. https://www.flickr.com/photos/farbenfrohewunderwelt/8030811530/
4. https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulcarmona/13689150105/

South America
1. https://www.flickr.com/photos/duda_arraes/8237251935/
2. https://www.flickr.com/photos/dagget2/11595715453/
3. https://www.flickr.com/photos/guido_otero/3960059797/
4. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tucotuti/34373719685/

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Disney's Animal Kingdom: The Realistic Plan

Last in my series of new plans for the Walt Disney World parks are two plans for Disney's Animal Kingdom: this realistic plan posted today and a dream plan that will follow in a couple of weeks.

This follows up my plans for Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios posted over the last half year. These are my for fun, hypothetical plans for how I would expand and improve the 4 parks of the Resort. I last published plans for these parks 3 years ago, and a lot has changed. New attractions have opened and are coming soon to the parks, and I think I have improved as a designer as well. Plus the maps are a jump in quality.

This realistic plan is maybe a little ambitious, but because this is my favorite park, I had a lot of ideas and had a lot of fun putting this plan together. My goals were to add at least one new land and new attractions across the park, add some properly placed IP, and reinforce the animal concept of the park.



Here's the map with all the text labels and a second image with some enlarged areas with more detail and description.



Starting at the front of the park, I added one more major attraction to finish out Pandora. I wanted to reinforce the animal element of the land and the park, so the attraction is a trackless dark ride where guests explore the forest searching for the variety of exotic animals of Pandora. The dark ride vehicles are ACE all-terrain jeeps that can go anywhere in the jungle to find even the most rare creatures. The queue leads into an indoor bioluminescent cave, like the one featured in Flight of Passage, where guests load and start to explore. The unique element of the trackless system is that guests can make choices along the way as to which direction they will actually go. A "nightvision" system on the jeep gives a look at what animals are ahead at a few splits in the path, and guests can chose which animals they would more like to see. The animals themselves would be a mix of practical figures and screen elements, and the climax of the attraction would be the discovery of a full size sleeping banshee in its cave, forcing us to make a quick escape before waking it up.


Across the park, I made some significant changes to Dinoland, including an update to its backstory. The Dino Institute half remains but the Dinorama half is gone. The new story:

A world renowned conservationist/explorer/collector has seen every kind of animal and been to the most remote corners of the world, but he realizes that there is one major group of animals he has never been able to see: those that are extinct. He decides with his wealth and connections, he is going to do whatever he can to fix that problem. He moves to the middle of nowhere, founds the city of Dinoland USA, and funds both an excavation operation to find fossils and the Dino Institute research operation to find actual living dinosaurs. His house sits above the excavated dig site, filled with his worldwide collection including plenty of extinct animal artifacts. Once the time travel tech is perfected, the dig site is abandoned, but on the day of the Dino Institute Open House, he decides to open both the dig site and his house for tours. That day is today. Dinoland USA is open for exploration. 

So this new story allows me to introduce two new attractions to the land and some smaller changes as well. The first change is to the pathways of the land. A new direct path is cut through the existing vegetation to lead to Dinosaur so that it is easier to find and more visible.

The rest of the land is redeveloped as a dig site with an excavation themed "wooden" rollercoaster running through it. The dig site and coaster is set down below grade, running below the wooden boardwalk style pathways through the land. The entrance and load to the coaster is set in dig site tent structures. The coaster starts with a lift hill and a short segment of banked turns before entering a fossil filled cave for some quick dark ride scenes. The coaster the launches out of the cave for a speed run through the excavation site in the center of the land, with a lot of banked turns and straightaways.

In the excavation area, there is also a classic spinner themed to excavation equipment.

The last attraction for the land is a variation on Mystic Manor that is very rethemed for its new home. The facade is different, the style is different, and the scenes are different, all changed to fit the Dinoland story and style. The scenes focus on the conservationists collection of art, artifacts, and fossils of extinct animals from around the world, all of which begin to mysteriously come to life because of the power of an idol. It includes a huge dinosaur skeleton come to life, woolly mammoths, dodo birds, and other weird extinct animals.


The next change is in Asia and the space between Asia and Africa. This area is redeveloped to include a pathway north to the expansion plot and a new land. The current Up bird show theater is removed and in its place is a Jungle Book omnimover dark ride with the classic animated characters. Like the use of Lion King in Africa, I think IP can work well in the lands of Animal Kingdom if the setting makes sense and if the exterior is treated with the same level of realism and detail as the rest of the park. So it is hyper-real on the exterior and animated on the inside.

The path leading north leads under a train trestle and then through a tunnel under the existing backstage road. Adjacent to this path is a new smaller theater space for animal shows that are not necessarily Asia or bird specific. The small theater could have hourly rotating shows with a closer look at various types of animals.


The new land to the north is another continent for the park, North America. Of the 4 viable continents left (North America, South America, Europe, and Australia), I decided on this option because I wanted to highlight the animals and natural environments of the continent that are so often overlooked in favor of more exotic options. After passing through the tunnel, the path passes under the trail again and opens up into a Redwood Forest style setting with a large wooden National Park style lodge ahead. The path first goes past a log cabin counter service location and along a stream that we then cross.

Just past that is the entrance to the animal trail for the land. I am unsure if in reality there will ever be any more animal trails built, but I felt the need to include it. The Red Creek Trail winds through the forest, first passing a raccoon habitat, then going through a bird enclosure, followed by environments for elk, beavers, and foxes. The feature animal of the trail are bears, who have a very large habitat to look into. The trail then concludes with otters before exiting back to the land.

Inside the main Lodge building is the majority of the retail for the land and the main attraction, a balloon simulator that flies guests through the wonders of many National Parks. Guests fly over a variety of settings including canyons, deserts, forests, and mountain ranges. Native animals are featured elements in many of the settings. This is a ride system that I detailed in a post earlier this year.

The last attraction of this land is a Pocohantas boat dark ride. Guests ride in 8 person canoe boats down the river and around the bend into the story of the movie. Again animals and our connection with nature are featured elements of the story.


The last changed area in this plan is a reimagining of Rafiki's Planet Watch as the city of Zootopia. The train takes guests from Africa but now unloads in Bunny Burrow, a suburb area of Zootopia. The path leads past a couple local produce stands and a Bunny Burrow themed carousel on the way to the main city. Guests enter the Zootopia central Train Station, where there is a large retail space and then pass into the central plaza of the city. Straight ahead is the Zootopia Police Department where the main attraction is, to the left is a counter service restaurant, and to the right is the Hospital, which is the existing animal care building, rethemed to be in story for the city.

The attraction is an indoor family coaster dark ride where guests join a ride along with ZPD for a trip through the different districts of Zootopia.



That completes this "realistic" plan for Animal Kingdom and its a plan that I really like.

A much more ambitious dream plan will be following in a couple of weeks. For the past parks, I've had all versions done at the same time, but wasn't able to do that this time and didn't want to make you wait.

So follow me on twitter for updates about when that next plan will be up, and let me know with a comment what you think about this version.