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.


  1. Hey,

    Very Cool Idea. I can see a market here for a park about this size. Im relatively new to your designs and I am only familiar with this site. I haven't seen your earlier posts and I am very interested to see more in-depth park maps. This disneyland looks very different from traditional layouts but I am very excited to see details. The bridge coming into the property is huge; I am very interested in how this feature will enhance the park rather than distract. Very cool project, I am excited for future posts.

    1. Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoy the past work too, and feel free to ask questions on those too.

      Yes the bridges are problematic. The larger Anzac bridge causes sightline issues all over the place, but honestly there is not much that can be done about a 394' tall bridge pier. I tried a few things to help block it out, like the tree density in Adventureland and trying to place city based lands in areas with the most open views. But its not perfect. Luckily, the bridge piers are fairly nice looking. At least they could be much worse.

      There is another bridge on the site, the Glebe Island Bridge, which is a permanently closed swing bridge that is historically protected. I didnt show it in the plan, but that would introduce a few more problems. But its a hypothetical design exercise, cant resolve all the problems.

  2. This is so exciting. The size of the area is small, so did you see it as a challenge to design an effective resort with the limitations, or as an opportunity to utilise the small space with something unique? Or both?

    I'd love to see a resort for the UK, but Paris kind of fulfils that role for Europe. Oh, well, we still have the Paramount resort to look forward to.

    1. I intentionally chose a small and challenging site for this project. Basically I had been working on a new full sized resort in Seoul where I had chosen a completely open and unrestricted site, but the lack of restrictions were causing problems. So i decided to do a quick exercise with extreme limitations. Real world limitations are incredibly helpful because it forces you to analyze what is important and prioritize. This resort is a result of that exercise.

      So its both. It was a challenge that I wanted to take on, but it resulted in a pretty unique resort that has value. I definitely believe in the viability of small regional resorts like this and I am really happy with how this turned out.

  3. I really like it. Australia should definitely get it's own Disney Park. A park in England would be nice, but you'd have to make it different enough from Disneyland Paris to stand on it's own. It probably shouldn't be in London though, maybe in York? You can even focus it on Disney properties that are English related, like Sword in the Stone, Brave, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Robin Hood, and 101 Dalmatians. It can be a Disney park that celebrates England and Disney's wide variety of England based films.