Saturday, August 26, 2017

My EPCOT City Model

Here's a different kind of post.

So I like to build models. I learned to build models during my recent years in architecture school and over the 5 years, I built a lot of them. I had access to a laser cutter, so I was able to build some pretty cool things that I would never be able to do by hand. I realized before leaving that I needed to take advantage of that access and make something that I always wanted. 

So I lasercut and built a model of EPCOT City.




Why the original EPCOT City? Because besides being a legendary part of Disney history, it is a really fascinating example of urban planning theory and I often wonder if it would have actually worked. It's very closely related to the Garden City concept by Ebenezer Howard, a 19th century urban design philosophy of planned cities formed of concentric zones of use, all surrounded by a green belt. 

The overall concept was a melding of the benefits of town and country in one city. The urban core was the best of city life, and the surrounding radial parks, green belts, and suburbs allowed residents to escape and relax. The idea was that the city would be a limited size and then instead of growing, a new city would be developed nearby with all its own infrastructure and systems. The cities would then be linked into a network of equal and complimentary garden towns. A few garden cities were built, but they were never embraced on a large enough scale to really be tested or perfected, so the concept never spread.

This concept is astonishingly like at we know of the original EPCOT concept. Walt apparently looked into the research of Howard, so it is not surprising that he went this route. I believe his vision was for it to be a real scale, modern test case of his own urban city concept. It was an idealistic and utopian plan to make the perfect city, and the first was meant to be in Florida. But we know the history, and again, it has to remain just a theoretical concept. 

So that's the big reason why I am really interested in the original EPCOT City, aside from the original EPCOT Center park. It's fascinating architectural theory and a huge what if situation. 

As you know from this blog, I also like maps, so decided I wanted a map model of the original City concept. Imagineering Disney had built one a few years ago, and made a post about theirs, but that one was a bit more complicated and realistic than I wanted. I wanted something that really showcased the diagrammatic pattern of the city.




The process here was simple. I found a bunch of images online of the original city plan and various photos of the original model for reference. I then traced the plan in Autocad. There are minor discrepancies between many of the images I found online, so there's a bit of combining in some places, but what I drew is as true as I could get to the original concept.




Then I set up the plan with all the layers I would need to build the model and laser cut it. Assembly was quick as it is pretty small and formed of only a couple layers for the most of it.



The most detail is at the center of the city, with the massive enclosed core with multiple towers rising above. There's a few different versions of this area in the various images and models, but this is my interpretation of how it could have worked based on that information.




I've wondered if I should paint it, but I think I would ruin it. I think I prefer it as the diagrammatic model that shows the pattern of the city. That's the important part to me. Also, maybe I'll make a bigger and better version in the future. Tracing the file was actually the most involved part of this. The model now sits on the wall right above my desk as good inspiration. This is the only Disney related model that I have built so far, and now that I no longer have access to a laser cutter, it is a bit more difficult. But maybe there will be more one day.

What kinds of Disney related models would you want to build? I have a couple others in mind, but want to hear your thoughts.



Monday, August 7, 2017

D23 Site Plans


The D23 Expo a couple of weeks ago brought a lot of exciting announcements about the future additions to the Disney Parks. It also brought a lot of confusion about where some of these additions are going to go and how they would work with the existing elements of the parks. To figure this out, I decided to try to decipher the concept art pieces that they gave us and draw my interpretations of the site plans.

Even though there were a lot of announcements, there are only 3 that would include significant changes to the site plans of the existing parks: Ratatouille in France, The Main Street Theater, and TRON in Tomorrowland. The rest are either too unclear at this point, or using existing buildings.

All three of these plans are based on my interpretations of the concept art, comparisons to existing attractions, and the hints from some of the more knowledgeable posters on Disney forums. They are probably not completely accurate, but I think they are close. Or at least as close as the concept art will really be to reality.







For the addition to France, it is pretty clear by comparing the art to the existing building that this addition will go behind the existing pavilion, saving Impressions de France and the rest of the current country. If you need proof, look at the back of the pavilion in 3D in Google Maps, and then look at the art above. The access would be around the side of the pavilion, along the waterway, leading to a new tree lined street and courtyard. At least this is what the art show. It makes sense to make this back side nicer because it will be visible from the new Skyliner gondola system. 

The addition appears to include new facades along the backside of the existing pavilion, the main attraction, and some small covered pavilions on the opposite side of the courtyard. It looks like the attraction will not include the attached restaurant or the rest of the facade from the Paris original, which makes sense for the already dining dense pavilion. 

Other things of note: there is an existing electrical transformer pad right in the middle of this area, but I think that it will be incorporated into the new construction. That is the walled in rectangle just by the attraction entrance in my plan which I think will be disguised with facades to blend in. You can see a mass in the same space in the concept art. The covered path exit from the attraction passes just by it and to the larger covered pavilion, which could maybe be the gift shop. 

Also, the concept art shows the Eiffel Tower moving, but I don't think that is actually going to happen. It may look a little weird in this addition though because the perspective will be all off.








The Main Street Theater is a bit more straightforward. Although many suggested that this was replacing the Town Square Theater and Tony's, there have been enough people online say that this is not the case, and that it will go off of the Main Street bypass and connected to Center Street. 

I copied the same size theater as the Hyperion at California Adventure for this site plan and altered it to match the facade of the art. It fits perfectly with an access gate on either side. I also maintained the planted edge of the existing bypass but opened up Center Street to look towards the new theater facade. For crowd flow and access to the theater, I assume that this area will become a permanent pathway instead of a controlled bypass, but I don't know if that would also mean that we would get more substantial facades on the backside of the existing Main Street Buildings. I didn't draw them with new facades, but I could believe it. 








TRON in Tomorrowland is the largest of the new site plans. The entire showbuilding sits beyond the train tracks and fits into the remaining space by Space Mountain perfectly. The art shows the canopy spanning over the train tracks and sitting just next to the existing Speedway. The art actually shows the speedway with a different track layout, but I assumed that it was just an artistic mistake, not that the attraction was actually changing. 

It looks like escalators take guests up to a raised path above the train track and then into the attraction showbuilding, which is an exact copy of the one in Shanghai. The access to this new area is to the side of the arcade/exit building of Space Mountain, which really looks like it could be a pinch point to get to such a major E ticket, so it will be interesting to see how that works out. 





We will see in a couple years how close I am. Even though I feel like I matched the concept art as well as possible, there is a good chance that things will change in the 3+ years before these open, so the site plans may end up being completely different.

As for what posts are next, these site plans are the first step for me in drawing new baseplans for the Walt Disney World Resort parks. Amazingly, the existing plans that I have been using as the start for my designs were drawn about 7 years ago, so they are both out of date and incredibly inaccurate. I can now draw more detailed and true to life plans. So that is what I am working on right now, which will lead to new versions of all 4 parks sometime this fall. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sydney Disneyland Park - Collaboration with WDW Magic Imagineering Forums

This post is a little different from normal because this project is not solely my work.

Instead, this is a collaboration with a group on the WDWMagic.com Imagineering Forum, who decided to collaboratively design a new resort. Though I was not heavily involved with coming up with the concept, I shared some ideas as it went along and then offered to make a park plan for them once it was all done.

That is this post. This thread on the forum most succinctly describes the concept and all the individual attractions they designed along the way: http://forums.wdwmagic.com/threads/sydney-disneyland-resort-a-project-by-club-32.928583/

But since my process of turning their concept into a map changed a few things, I am going to give a brief text walk through to supplement what they have there. 

This is a traditional castle style park to start off the resort but there are some different lands here than other Magic Kingdom parks.



Instead of Main Street, there is Fantasia Gardens. Fantasia to some extent is an overarching concept in this park.

The entrance to the park is actually through a "concert hall" where the score is playing, leading us into the world of the film. The town square analogue is a roman forum, echoing the Greco-Roman scenes of Fantasia, but there are references to all of the segments around. Ahead, the path splits to two gardens on either side of the main corridor. And at the center of the park is a small lagoon with a continuous fountain show to the sounds of Fantasia, with an organic Fantasia themed castle beyond with a stage at the base.



Going clockwise, the first land is Pacific Wharf, based on a turn of the century San Francisco.


The Tower of Terror with an original ghostly story is the icon, sitting on a cliff over the waters edge, and city spreads out below it. It includes a Fisherman's Wharf area at the north of the land, with a walk through Museum of the Weird and some unique food options, a Chinatown area with an exciting dark ride and restaurant, a Barbary Coast street area with unique retail and a saloon, and a wild Lombard Street coaster that takes you on a street race just as an earthquake starts to hit the city. The force perspective streetscape with Lomdard Street winding down the middle forms a back berm to the land. The train around the park also passing through the scenes of this coaster.

A ferryboat makes a loop around the last portion of this land, Convict Island, and then drops you off on its dock. Based on the idea of Alcatraz, the island is an explorable play area with a lot of escape themed games and challenges. A cable car also runs through the middle of the land, and an abaondoned cable car by the wharf side barn has been turned into a taco car.



Next is Frontierland, which is a large land with a couple of different zones.


Starting at the hub is New Orleans, which includes a Princess and the Frog dark ride, Tianas Palace restaurant, and plenty of themed retail. A paddleboat sits along the river, marking the end of New Orleans and the start of a more rustic bayou section of the land, where there is a new large Splash Mountain that is pretty unique. The attraction is divided on two sides of small river, with the load and final scenes on the path side, and the mountain and main showbuilding on a island. The flume takes us under the river to start and end the ride. The actual exterior of both sections is redesigned to fit a more bayou theme instead of the red clay Georgia look of the original, so that it fits adjacent to New Orleans. There is also an adjacent nature trail area that passes through a fort and looks out to the body of water.

The last area of the land is a frontier mining town, where a small collection of buildings sit in the rocky landscape. The land includes Big Thunder Railroad, canoes that loop the island with Splash Mountain, a saloon, a ship walkthrough, a train station, and more dining and retail. The biggest attraction is a new Western River Expedition which is actually not a boat ride. The suspended conveyance mining equipment of an abandoned mine has been turned into a hanging gondala system that is now used to transport people into the hills of the mine, right across the train tracks. Guests load into the hanging cars and are carried right into the showbuilding and a trip through the spirit of the old west.



Adventureland is next, and it is a smaller land compared to the rest in the park.



There are two areas, a Pirates fort and a Polynesian Village. The Spanish fort entrance to the Pirates ride includes a table service resturant and a lounge in the caves below the fort. There is also a kids play area with a pirates ship adjacent to the fort, which has a Peter Pan theme to transition to Storybookland just across the path.

The Polynesian Village area includes a Lilo and Stitch treehouse, a large Tiki Room dark ride with the traditional theater show as the preshow, dining and retail including Dole Whips, and a Moana themed show along the river. A force perspective volcano sits above the stage where a live presentation of the story of the show takes place a few times a day. Part of the show can take place on boats in the water as well.



Storybookland is the parallel to Fantasyland and has many similar attractions. It's the largest land in the park as well. 


Behind the castle, there are a few attractions in a castle courtyard village setting. There is a large Fantasia dark ride with the Sorcerer's Apprentice, a carousel with Fantasia animals, Dumbo, and an enchanted dining room restaurant. A small Peter Pan area is along the path, with a restaurant and a larger form of the attraction that exits out on the Adventureland side by the play area.

A forest themed area is on the north side of the land, and in the heavily wooded natural areas there is a Tangled trackless dark ride, a trackless Aquatopia style canal boats ride, a princess meet and greet chateau, a Mr. Toads Wild Ride attraction, and a Casey Jr. Train that travels around the land and passes through a few attractions. There is also a unique train station that is inside the Seven Dwarfs Mine, which Casey Jr. also passes through. Last is Belle's village, which is the entrance to a Beauty and the Beast carousel show that retells the movie.

The last area is a London town square with a large Mary Poppins dark ride, a Mary Poppins themed tea cups style ride, and retail and dining.



The Shadowlands is the partner to Storybookland and is the home of the Villains of the park.



It also has a London area, a Forest area, and a Village area, directly paralleling the adjacent land. The London area is a much darker and rougher and treeless street that includes a Cruela de Vil dark ride. The Village area includes a Villains meet and greet, a dark ride through the Villains Academy, and a pair of restaurants, Gaston's Tavern nearby to Belle's Village and Ratigan's Pub by the main square.

The Forest area features an abandoned castle at the base of a mountain that the Villains have taken over. A boat ride initially starts calm but then becomes a fast paced coaster as we try to escape Chernabog who lives at the top of the mountain.



Last is Tomorrowland, which is fairly traditional.



From the Hub, the path leads to the main plaza, with the Rocket Jets raised at the center and the Peoplemover running along the edges. The plaza is raised on the second level of the land with an organic vegetated landscape below. On the edges of the plaza is a large theater space with futuristic themed shows, Space Mountain, a robotics restaurant, and a Time Machine themed theater show. Straight behind the Rocket Jets and the Plaza is the main attraction inspired by Horizons. Starting in a domed theater preshow, the attraction takes us into the possibilities of the future.

Off the plaza and along the path to the north, there is also a restaurant and a Big Hero 6 dark ride. Across the path is the transportation hub, which includes the train station and a new electric form of the Autopia that winds its way through the trees and along the lower level under the plaza.



Other notes:

The parade route goes from the gate in Shadowlands, down to the hub, around the lagoon, then up through Frontierland and towards Adventureland, and ending at the gate between Adventureland and Fantasyland.

The park could have a standard night time fireworks/projections/fountains show at the hub. There's plenty of place for fountains in this version, so the show could be heavy on that effect. Something like World of Color in the central lagoon plus castle projections and low level fireworks. I tried to give plenty of viewing space in the center of the park, so hopefully it would be realistic.

There is so much more detail and thoughts in the forum post that I linked above, including detail about most of the attractions, so go read that if you are interested. It's long, but adds more to this design.



I am really happy with this plan and think there's some great ideas in it from everyone at WDWMagic. So thanks to them for the good ideas, and thanks for reading!

Let me know what you like and what you think about this somewhat different Magic Kingdom style park!

Also, I am thinking about returning to the Walt Disney World parks for some posts in the near future now that we have heard about all the additions coming soon. I am thinking about doing realistic 50th anniversary parks plus my idealized versions of the parks that include all the new stuff coming. Let me know if that is something you want to see!