Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sydney Summer: Adventureland

Part 2: Theme Park Overviews
Part 3: The Resort Outside the Parks
Part 4: Main Street and Fantasyland

Adventureland is a linear pathway land with a general rule that the pathway is the defined border between civilization and dense vegetation, just like the two American Adventurelands. Through linear, the path has a gentle curve so that you cannot see all the way down. Vegetation constantly obscures the view, so that you want to keep going and see more of the mysterious land. 

Not much is visible from the Hub. Large bamboo gates frame a view through the canopy towards a impressive thatched Tiki temple, the first real icon of Adventureland. This first area is predominately Polynesian in design. The icon temple is a close replica of the Magic Kingdom Tiki Room and holds a table service restaurant that revives the original concept of the attraction. Inside is a simulated exterior tropical terrace where guests dine among a musical flock of birds, tikis, and Polynesian spirits. It is a highly atmospheric restaurant with periodic restaurant wide entertainment segments and songs. The restaurant shares a kitchen with the Crystal Palace mentioned in the last post as well as the Cast Dining location. Retail buildings around the restaurant are less evidently Tiki and begin to show a blend of materials and styles that will progress across the land. They have a more assembled aesthetic, as if these buildings grew over time to support the temple/terrace.

Looking to the left, all that you see is the deepness of the jungle, highlighted by the 95’ tall treehouse. There are multiple layers of movement through the jungle, starting with guests walking on the ground along the explorer paths, guests walking through the treehouse, and the coaster car weaving through the brush in the back of the land. This movement is important to draw guests farther back in Adventureland. Now a descriptive walk along this path.

The left side of the path is built up, made of a series of facades hiding one continuous building. Continuing the Polynesian design, the first sets of buildings are small and hold retail and a shooting gallery. The shooting gallery is a highly interactive infrared shooting range with a tropical and tiki scene. Across in the jungle are entrance pathways to the Tropical Explorer Caves, which is the substitute for Tom Sawyer Island. The double level cave system ties into the treehouse and includes interactive scenes such as a lost treasure cave, an endless mine, and a mysterious tiki temple. Back out by the path are the Liki Tikis, which is a small water play area.

The next area transitions to a romanticized African village, though it much less realistic than the Animal Kingdom aesthetic. The much larger and urban buildings on the left hold retail and a large two level counter service location. The dining location serves Asian, Africa, and Caribbean staples and takes over the whole second floor of this African section to provide sweeping views into the jungle.

Across the path are two attractions that share a story, that of an exploration outpost in the deep jungle staffed by a inexperienced group of adventurers in training. The grand treehouse has multiple winding levels among the branches, including a kitchen on the ground floor, an apartment for the students midway up, and a lookout and office on the top. At the base of the treehouse is the Jungle Trek Steamtrain, a former transportation train which the explorers have turned into a thrilling trip through the jungle. 

The queues pass through the student’s storage and classroom areas on the ground floor and then lead up to the second floor for loading. Each faux steam vehicle seats 36. After loading, the train turns left and goes up an incline built into the rocky cliff, which acts as a visual berm. The medium thrill coaster weaves through the rockwork and vegetation and passes a series of scenes of animatronic animals, including an elephant pool where the train narrowly misses getting sprayed. The track is approximately 2400’ in length, putting it right between a Barnstormer level coaster and a Big Thunder style coaster. It has 3 brake runs, plus a lift hill and loading station, so it has 5 block zones, and 4 cars on the track at any time.

Past the African area, the architecture begins to transition to Caribbean as we near the fortress town. The showbuilding for Peter Pans Flight behind the Caribbean facades is hidden as a high stone fortress wall. These buildings continue the Adventureland specific retail. Around the corner of vegetation is the icon tower of the Caribbean fortress and the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean. A unique element of the fortress fa├žade is the flume drop and runout emerging from a large gated opening in the stone wall where boats periodically splash down.

This version of Pirates of the Caribbean features an original storyline and the absence of Jack Sparrow or any other film references but still heavily takes reference from the classic. It has a medium thrill outdoor flume drop finale, a unique element to the Pirates attraction lineup. We will now walk through the ride in plan.

The entrances to both queues are inside the main gate to the fortress. The standby queue winds through the halls of the dark building before rejoining the fastpass queue to travel down a darkened passage towards the loading area. The queues emerge under an archway to find themselves back outside the fortress at twilight, by the bay. Boats are being loaded just ahead, giving guests a first view at their journey, but the queues turn right and start up a gently sloping ramp. There is a split off from the queues just before this point for disabled guests to access the disabled loading area. It has a slide track switch that loads and unloads on the left side of the track. The two queues double back north and continue up a ramp, then crossing over the track to the right side of the water. They then slope back down to ground level, where a cast member distributes guests to a row. Three boats load at a time, with 4 rows in each. On average each boat holds 16 or more guests. The interior segment of the standby queue is 950’ long and the fastpass queue is 525’ long. The standby can be expanded outdoors with temporary stantions behind the fortress tower.

Once loaded, the boats float forward and under the guest bridge towards a peaceful but empty Caribbean village scene. Turning right, the boat engages a ramp and begins a steady climb up though the darkness. On the ascent, the window in the wall to the left reveals a miniature diorama view over the bay at sunset. However peaceful, a storm is on the horizon and a menacing Pirate ship is on the town’s edge. We suddenly hear cannon fire after passing the opening and the scream of the pirates attack. We arrive in the Town Square at the top of the hill, in the early stages of battle. We turn and find the town well where we meet the first pirate: the captain. Atop the well edge, he is loudly interrogating a group of cowering citizens about the whereabouts of the fortress armory and its treasure. The highly articulated figure is one of the feature characters of the ride. Across the water in a projected window high up the building face, a housewife yells back at him while attempting to hide behind the interior shutter doors, just spurring on his interrogation. The boat floats through the rest of the town as the pirate attack grows. We pass scenes with both physical characters in the forefront and projected scenes in the background to increase the depth of the relatively small show space. Many of the classic pirate poses and situations are found here, though the town is not on fire. Finally, we see on a projected balcony that the Captain has gotten his information and directs his pirate crew to the right, so we follow, and splash down a gentle slope to the ground floor.

We settle in the lagoon and turn to see the full sized pirate ship in mid battle with the fortress, cannon fire coming from both directions. The projected crew on deck adds more life to the gently rocking ship. We float forward and through a large gated opening into the fortress. A left spur turn leads to maintenance, but we turn right and into the darkness of the fortress. A large projection on our left looks into the barracks, where we see soldiers frantically gearing up for battle, except for the animatronic solider who was supposed to be on guard, who is hunched over his rifle, thoroughly asleep. Straight ahead is one of the big special effects of the ride. As we near the solid stone wall, we hear canon fire and then suddenly the wall opens up in a cloud of smoke and fire, showing us the projection surface behind where we see the pirates rushing by. This is achieved with smoke and lighting effects concealing a quick slide panel, which resets in the darkness between boats. Around the corner, we discover that the pirates have indeed found the armory. We see pirates looting the mounds of treasure and weapons around the room, as well as the classic prisoner scene. The captain sits upon a throne of gold, ordering his crew to load the ship but be careful. Boats may backup here because of the next effect, so this figure is another very detailed and advanced animatronic. Ahead, we pass piles of weapons, specifically a stack of gun powder barrels. A clumsy pirate trying to load treasure knocks over a torch, lighting a trail of gunpowder. The projected spark trail leads across the waterway, which is the return from the maintenance bay, where a projection shows it headed right for a barrel of explosive gun powder. The captain yells for his crew to escape just as we turn the corner and find a dead end.

 This dead end is a high speed lift up to the highest point of the ride. We hear and sense the explosion behind us from lighting and smoke effects as well as a projection in front of us, propelling us up quickly into the darkness. At the top, we slowly float forward on flat water and sit for a moment. The lift quickly returns for the next boat. In the darkness, we softly hear “dead men tell no tales” repeated once or twice. Suddenly we slide forward and down the flume drop. The drop is 46’ tall and 130’ long for an approximate angle of 22 degree. This is almost the same as the drops in the existing Pirates rides, and much shallower that the 47 degrees of Splash Mountain. So it is a large drop, but not an overly thrilling drop. The splashdown and runout is 6’ below ground level and bordered by high stone walls, so most of the minimal splash is contained. The boat floats through the exterior jungle, through a cave and then back into the showbuilding through a dark cavern. Lining the shore of the water is a mountain of treasure and a pirate skeleton suggesting the worst happened to the pirate crew. However, as we turn out of the cave, we see the pirate ship again, though damaged and almost ghostly. Aboard the ship a projection of the ragged crew, led by the captain, who boldly exclaims “dead men tell no tales” before singing the chorus “yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me” to the crew. We float through a cave and find ourselves back in the town we began at and slowly continue back to unload. We unload to the left, and exit out a giftshop by the flume runout. The total track is approximately 2300’ long.

More retail and restrooms complete the north side of the building, leading into Fantasyland. Across the path is a snack location that has Dole Whips and Ice Cream.

The entertainment of the land includes a small group of drummers that perform near the Tiki area, a streetsmosphere Adventurers in Training interactive comedy show near the treehouse, and a Pirates Tutorial show by the Fortress. The Adventurers in Training show somewhat replaces the comedic Jungle Cruise element by letting the students at the outpost show off their other talents while they try to recruit new explorers. Character meet and greets are limited to what would thematically fit, such as Lilo and Stitch near the Polynesian area and Tarzan around the Africa area. This doesn’t contradict that character plan I stated last post, because this is just temporary presence in the land, not a permanent attraction.

The backstage elements include the bus stop mentioned last time that is shared with Main Street and the access tower for fireworks, which is just behind the counter service location and noted on the program diagram in green. There is a Coaster maintenance and storage building behind the rockwork by the treehouse. It sits above the caves and paths. The main Central Shops are just behind the land. The large building is the reason for the high rockwork berm around the coaster.

Whew that’s a lot to talk about for Adventureland. I really love the Adventureland concept and hope this is a suitable take for a new park. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Thanks!

Next time we will cross the Hub and go to Discoveryland. Be back in two weeks. 


  1. Really impressed with the thought that went into this area. I especially love the idea of adding kinetic motion. That's usually a trait attributed to Tomorrowlands, but it works both for the jungle setting AND for the physical demands of the space. I also love the hybrids of Disney park classics used due to the limited space. A little bit of Big Thunder merged with Jungle Cruise, Splash with Pirates, Tiki Room with Tahitian Terrace. You're packing in some beloved experiences very expertly.

    I thought having an original storyline for Pirates was a bold move, but I enjoyed it! I don't think Disney would ever pass up the chance to inject some Jack Sparrow, but I like what you did.

    I wonder about the path sizes in this area. Adventurelands seemingly always are bottlenecks, but usually there are multiple avenues for some relief and here we have one straight-shot of a pathway. Perhaps it's the image of the lush jungle on one side that may make it SEEM narrow.

    Really enjoying this all so far, you've done a fantastic job and I can't wait for more!

    1. Very insightful comments, thanks.

      Yep you've hit one of the main ideas I was going for with these parks: maximizing variety of experiences, both classic and new, in a limited number of attractions and locations. I admit that this land worked itself out pretty naturally to follow that idea (scaling up the pirates flume, the original tiki room concept, both easy decisions). I really tried to do this across the parks to varied success. But I think that would be absolutely necessary for parks this small. Each of the limited attractions needs to offer a substantial experience for it to feel like its all worth it.

      Ha I agree. I think Jack is always here. Could be worse though.

      It may be a littlte too narrow, but as you said, Adventurelands always are narrow. The compression makes it feel like the jungle is right on top of us, like we are lost in it. One of the reasons Adventurelands are always the most immersive lands. I am no crowd flow expert, and it may be undersized, but it works on principle.

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!

  2. Really well done. I like how you sort of combined Pirates of the Caribbean with Splash Mountain. I just wish the next update would come faster.

    1. Thanks for reading. Sorry, haven't even begun the drawings for the next post, so can't get that to you any earlier.

  3. I do like Adventureland, though would there be risk of bottlenecking?

    1. Its possible. I just talked about it in a comment above, but all Adventurelands are narrow to immerse you in the depth of the jungle. Also, the tree cover on the main maps definitely makes you think the path is narrower than it is.

      So Its possibly undersized, but undersized for effect. Hopefully with this being a much smaller daily crowd park with proper attraction distribution, bottlenecks would not be a serious issue. But I'm no expert on crowd flow.

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Glad to answer any questions like this.