Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sydney Summer: Theme Park Overviews

Last week I introduced the concept and location of the resort. This week I'm giving you some specifics of the most exciting part: the theme parks. This will be a cursory overview because I will go much more indepth with land-specific posts later on that explain the design aesthetics, storylines, and technical details of each area. But I figured you wanted to know a little bit about this part now.

Introducing the Theme Parks

Based on the site and the goals I had for the resort, I decided that two 1-day parks was the best and most realistic plan for Disneyland Sydney. The resort was originally designed without the southern plot below the roadway, so the one park was easy to define spatially. When I decided to expand, I did consider keeping it at one park and expanding up to a park comparable to the rest of the Disneyland parks, but decided against it for logistics. It would be a challenge to move guests under the roadway freely while still maintaining any form of park layout structure and logic. So two parks.

I assumed early on that I would follow tradition and make the first gate a Disneyland style park, placed in the prime and larger park plot. For the second park, I considered a few existing concepts, including EPCOT and DisneySea, but ultimately decided on a Hollywood park. For good or bad, IP based themed areas and attractions are what people want right now, so it would be unrealistic to leave Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar out of the resort. I couldn't bring myself to put those properties in the first gate because I wanted to preserve the thematic integrity of an IP-less Disneyland. That meant I needed a Hollywood second gate. With both parks however, I decided to break away from the traditional rules of their park type. The Disneyland Park features lands and a design aesthetic closer to DisneySea than Disneyland. The Hollywood Adventure park very specifically lacks any buildings that resemble soundstages and instead focus on fully realized and detailed environments. These are subtly new takes on the existing design.

I will discuss it in more detail soon, but the two parks are connected by Disney District, an entertainment and retail zone, which you can see on the site plan I posted last week.

Disneyland Park

As the main park of the resort, the Disneyland Park has the best location, sitting at the end of Disney District retail corridor and directly visible from the exit of the transit hub. The entrance plaza at the end of the District includes bag check pavilions, the covered turnstiles, guest service buildings on either side, and ticketing windows built into the District buildings. Through the gates is the classic floral Mickey with tunnels on either side, even though there is no train tracks.

Inside, the park follows the traditional spatial sequence of a Disneyland Park: Town square with civic buildings that house guests services that leads to a narrow Main Street retail corridor. There is only one block of Main Street because of the site limitations, but because of the District retail corridor, no program is lost. Main Street contains retail on both sides, a bakery and ice cream shop on the north side, and a crowd control arcade in the back of the south side.

The fairly large hub is based on the traditional model and has the Plaza Inn, a counter service location, on the north side, and the Crystal Palace, a buffet location, on the south side. Water features are a major element of the hub, including stepping waterfalls on the east side, flowing into the large moat/lagoon. Rapunzel's Castle is ahead, behind a stage.

Adventureland is to the right, with a distinctively Tiki building straight ahead, which holds a Tiki Room inspired table service restaurant. The land thematically is based on the depth and mystery of the jungle, supported by the series of colonized buildings that progress from Tiki, to African, to Caribbean. The dense jungle begins just to the left with the Treehouse looming above. A series of tropical facades to the left contains a shooting gallery, retail, and a counter service location, spread between two floors. The jungle side features explorer paths that lead into a network of caves, also connecting to the multilevel treehouse. Farther along is a coaster through the jungle weaving through caves and waterfalls. The last area of the land is a Caribbean fortress town, invaded by Pirates. Inside is a new version of Pirates of the Caribbean, which features an outdoor flume drop runout through the jungle.

Across the Hub is Discoveryland, which portrays a future directly based on the writings of the past, adapting the stories with modern technology as if they were written today. Set at a Worlds Fair that unites all of these scientists and inventors, the land is highlighted by a volcano, a secondary icon to the park. Straight ahead is the Rocket Jets spinner, siting on a rock pedestal. To the left is the Time Institute, which contains a 360 degree dome movie experience based on the Timekeeper and a counter service location. Inside the volcano is a version of Journey to the Center of the Earth, like the TDS attraction. There is also a water LPS ride, like Aquatopia at TDS, that travels through the depths of the volcano and is part dark ride, part random travel. The Nautilus marks the entrance to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which uses the Storm Rider attraction system also from TDS. Last is a revived version of Alien Encounter, though toned town and tied into space travel, not teleportation.

Straight ahead from the Hub is Fantasyland, featuring the icon, Rapunzel's Castle. On the other side of the castle is a fantasy village with three sub areas. the Village includes a Carousel, a Tangled dark ride on the left side of the castle, a Dumbo spinner, and a large counter service location. To the north is Wonderland, based on the animated film. It is made up of the Mad Tea Party spinner, a large LPS dark ride through Alice's adventures, and a Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall buffet location. The other side of Fantasyland transitions into the Pirates area of Adventureland and features a new version of Peter Pan's Flight.

The last land of the park is a completely new land, introduced to act as a better buffer to the high rises of the city across the water. New York Harbor is a 1920s take on a big city and is centered on the story of a prosperous shipping magnate that has recently disappeared. Immediately visible is a full sized steamship in dock, which acts as a interesting icon to those passing by outside the park. Inside the ship is a fine dining restaurant, bar, and a track based shooter ride through the stores of the cargo hold. Just next to the ship is the home of the magnate, which is the parks Haunted Mansion and uses the same building layout and track plan as a tribute to the original. Also in the land is a Broadway theater, a speakeasy counter service location, an outdoor market, and retail. The last two attractions are E ticket major draws and are based in a dark and gritty back corner of the land. The first is a elevated train ride that travels both indoors and outdoors. On it, a normal trip through the city is interrupted by a live action hijacking, forcing the car to get stuck in the middle of an action packed shootout.. The second is a large motion base dark ride that follows a noir detective through the crime ridden streets of New York.

Disneyland Park's entertainment includes a mini afternoon parade, a large scale multimedia fireworks show, and many small acts spread around the park.

Hollywood Adventure

The second park is accessed through a tunnel under the road that bisects the resort. It leads to an entrance plaza much like the first gate, except with Golden Age Hollywood on the other side of the gates. This park has a much smaller footprint and has irregular dimensions, so it is a bit of an unusual plan. The parks has few rides with small footprints, but what it has are high impact, immersive, and repeatable, and based on extremely popular properties.

Through the turnstiles and past the Crossroads of the World Tower, the facades narrow to street width and then open again into the Hollywood Gardens, the hub of the park. The Chinese Theater sits ahead across a street and small body of water. The facades on the north side of the Garden replace "Main Street" and contain the retail and food for the entrance way. Because of the size of the park, all these buildings have two occupiable floors, even the retail. The east side includes a large counter service location on the ground floor and a table service location of the top floor. The west side features an interactive soundstage attraction, where guests can learn about and take part in classic films. Inside the Chinese Theater is an updated version of Cinemagic. There are two lands to the west, one to the east.

Animation is to the east, and is mostly Pixar. Through  a Disney Animation Studios gateway, the street divides between a city area and a park area. The trees of the park hide that this area is an oversized Toy Story world, which includes a spinner, a snack box, and a original Toy Story shooter ride that is physical set based. Across the street is the Disney animation building, which includes a classic dark ride based on the concept of Mickey's Philharmagic and featuring cameo scenes from many popular films. Turtle Talk, the Animation Academy, and a large meet and greet facility round out the building. At the end of the street is Carl's house, sitting in front of the Wilderness Scout Meeting Hall, which is a counter service location. It is also the entrance to a 3D Circumotion attraction where guests take flight with Carl and Russel on a trip to Paradise Falls. The last attraction of the land is a major Incredibles LPS ride following the adventures of the super family.

Marvel is the first area to the west and has two areas: the Star Expo and Avengers City. A tree lined path leads to the sleek chrome building which houses an indoor dark ride/coaster and a animatronic show Iron Man Experience. The New York style street is directly opposite, leading to the Avengers tower sitting at the end. The right side of the street holds a large counter service location, the left side holds retail, and the main attraction is in the building at the end. Avengers Assemble is a 4D dark ride with roller coaster and drop tower elements built through the adventure. The Avengers labs in the building also have interactive training areas based on the Avengers. Back in the streets, there is a family friendly mini Pandoras Box dark ride through the world of super hero New York, featuring Spiderman and the other non Avenger Marvel characters of New York.

Star Wars is the final land of the park, featuring the largest ride of the resort. The streets of the city fade into the street of Coruscant, leading directly to the Millennium Falcon, which is fully explorable. The city includes a cantina counter service location, a table service location looking over the city, a large retail market, and four attractions. On the south side is a 4D special effects theater experience featuring live performers and effects. The north side has a Jedi Training Academy theater and an extreme spinner attraction which rises into a projection dome and then tilts 60 degrees while still spinning. The last and largest ride is a Kuka based X-wing flight through the galaxy, culminating in a trip through the trench of the Death Star.

The entertainment for the park includes a small day time parade, similar to the Stars and Motor Cars concept and scale, and a large nighttime show loosely based on Fantasmic that utilizes the stage and lagoon in front of the Chinese Theater as well as projections and fireworks.

I hope those quick summaries of the parks tide you over until we get back to them in more detail later this summer. I will ideally be developing attraction plans for about five of the attractions as well as elevations and details for each and every land. But first, we are going to hit what is outside of the parks, starting with the transit hub, backstage, Disneyland Hotel, and Disney District next week, June 2nd.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Imagineerland's Sydney Summer

Its summer, school is out, its the perfect time to take a trip, and time to start something new. So today we begin a new series of posts here on Imagineerland going indepth on a large scale project: a new resort in Sydney.

Now I have titled this Imagineerland's Sydney Summer, but it is likely were going to extend into the fall and winter depending on how productive I manage to be. I have a series of posts lined up that include site plans, attraction plans, elevations, and maybe even graphics that detail the many elements of the resort. Some of you from the previous website saw a first version of this resort, but there have been significant changes and additions since then. So today we begin with an introduction and overview of the resort.

Introducing the Project and Site

One of my goals has always been to masterplan and detail a full sized international resort. As an exercise to build up to that goal, I set out to design a regional resort on a smaller scale a few years ago. The success of that preliminary plan has led me to continue developing this resort to what you see today. 

I began with a world wide search for a site. My criteria included finding an international tourist city in a regional market not already served by Disney. Additionally, I looked for an inner city site near an active downtown zone with access to public transportation and plenty of build-able land surrounding it. Some of the leading candidates included London, Seoul, and Washington DC, but I finally decided on Sydney Australia because I found the perfect site: Glebe Island and the surrounding White Bay area. 

Glebe Island, just to the west of the city, is a vacant former port facility surrounded by docks and marinas. Plenty of land near the city, perfect for development. Imagine my surprise to later find stories that Disney had also considered this site. That confirmed that this was the perfect place to design a new resort. 

I set out to design a resort that includes a primary single day park, a small retail and entertainment district, a large Disney operated hotel, and a second future expansion park. It would also include the supporting infrastructure of a transit hub and parking deck, backstage complex, and access to existing public transportation.

I laid out the different program areas of the resort based on the geometry of the site, available surrounding land, and the existing transportation options. The narrow strip of the land on the north of the bay suggests a line of hotels, the intersection of major roads marks a natural location for the main entrance and transit hub of the resort, and the existing elevated road and bridge creates a logical division that allows for two separate parks. I also reclaimed about 9.5 acres (415,000 sq ft) of land from the bay on the south side of the resort and about 7 acres total (312,000 sq ft) of small parcels of land on the north and east side of Glebe Island. Included in the below diagram are the areas of reclaimed land, footprints of the two parks along with their "Main Streets" and "Hubs", and the footprints of the transit hub and hotel. 

I will be going indepth on each area of the resort in the coming months, sharing detailed text descriptions and commentary, so for now, I will just share the total resort site plan.

I'm excited to share more soon! Next week I will provide closer site plans, more details, and text descriptions of the two parks.

This weeks design question:

Regarding the future of new international Disney resorts, where do you think is next? And should they be full sized multi park resorts or small regional resorts like what I have proposed?

I believe the world has room for 3-4 more full sized Disney resorts: at least one in South America and at least two more in Asia. I am no expert though, that is just the personal opinion of a theme park fan based on the available markets and past successes of existing resorts. After that, I think they will need to turn to these small localized parks that fill into the world markets that are not large enough for a true resort. I could see a dozen or more of these around the world spreading the Disney Parks brand to the areas not yet reached. I would hit London, Sydney, Singapore, Dubai, somewhere in New England, and somewhere in South America first.