Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sydney Summer: The Resort Outside the Parks

Now that we have looked at a quick overview of the total resort and parks, we are going to begin going indepth with specific areas of Disneyland Sydney over the rest of the summer and fall. This week covers most aspects of the resort that are outside the parks.

This is going to be a lot of information, all the kind of stuff that I think about when designing but don't really show up in the final plans. Hope it's interesting. At least if its not, next time it's about the theme parks and will include attraction plans and elevations.

The Transit Hub

For a viable resort, transportation to and from the resort are key elements. It's easy to ignore since its not that exciting, but it could be disastrous to the resorts operations. So I have put a lot of thought into how it works here. So were going to start with how you get to the resort and where you go when your there. The below diagram shows all public vehicular traffic, with each type labeled by color. You may need to zoom in.

Exits from both directions of A4 and southbound A40 converge and lead toward the transit hub building. The ramps take the cars up 30' from road level to a new artificial ground level. This whole public space and Transit Hub is a plateau above the off property roads and on property backstage area so that backstage access roads can travel below with ease. The majority of cars here will go straight and into the deck, through one of the 5 gates, and then find a spot in the 7 floor garage. Cars circulate by way of two sets of ramps, one for traffic going up, one for traffic going down. The deck would fill starting from the entrance floor, floor 4, and distribute cars equally above and below as guided by cast members and a digital tracking system that marks open spaces. Each floor has four aisles of 45 degree angled parking. Additionally, on floors 4-6, the aisle on the east side of the ramps would be for handicap parking. The floors are color coded and numbered for ease of guest use. Based on rough math, this deck has 2290 spaces, equaling an estimated capacity of 9160 guests based on an average of 4 guests per car. This is likely not enough capacity for the resort, so there would have to be a secondary off site parking location that guests would be bused to and from.

Below is a plan of the entrance floor and a standard upper floor. The orange dashed lines show the entrance path through the ticketing gates, leading to either the up ramp, down ramp, or one of the 5 rows on the first floor. On the upper floor, cars come up the ramp, turn left and go down one of the 4 rows. They can also go around to the disabled parking row on the east side. If there are no spots on the floor, they continue up by the up ramp to the next floor. To exit the cars go down the down ramp, shown by the green dashed line and continue circling around back to the entrance floor and out the north east corner.

Once parked, guests walk to the east in the deck along the walkways on the north and south sides. On the east side are elevator lobbies and directions that guests should travel to floor 6. Guests must go up to a sky bridge that crosses over the main exit roadway and the bus hub. Here the architecture is most displayed. Spanning the full length of the Transit Hub and garage and as wide as the sky bridge is a impressive space frame canopy structure that defines a large double height space. It wraps over the building, shading a portion of the top parking floor and creating an icon entrance wall on the west side that cars enter through that is covered with a perforated metal screen. In the sky bridge, a flowing and kinetic hanging art piece directs guests forward where the double height space opens up to be the top of a 6 story atrium. A full height glass wall ahead looks out to the Disney District and the Disneyland Park. Guests take elevators down to the ground floor, and exit the Hub.

At the end of their day, guests exit the deck by either going down or up back to floor 4 and then exit out the north east corner of the garage. Cars turn right onto the main exit roadway of the resort, the one that passes right through the middle of the Hub, which leads to on ramps to A4 going both directions.

Cars that are headed to the Disneyland Hotel turn left before entering the transit hub, drive around the building, and then arrive at the porte-cochere. After unloading, they circle back to the right and enter a dedicated smaller parking deck. This has 6 floors, with entry still of floor 4, however hotel guests do not occupy the lowest floor. This deck has 300 spaces for the hotel, which is estimated at 1200 guests. The exit from this garage leads both back to the porte cochere and then directly to the main exit road. Valet parking is available and very necessary at the hotel because of the small size of the deck. There are 680 rooms in the hotel, so less than half will be able to park on site. The rest will drop off their car at the porte cochere where it will be driven to an off site parking facility. The car enters the deck, exits on floor 2, which is the level of the adjacent backstage, and then exits the property by way of the backstage road to the north of the hotel.

Cars such as taxis that enter the resort just to drop off enter the same as all traffic, turn left, and then immediately pull into a drop off lot adjacent to the parking deck. I unfortunately could not get it any closer, but it is much lower priority that some of the other transportation methods, so I decided this location was suitable. Guests walk through the parking deck to reach the resort. Cars travel around the deck and exit the normal way.

Buses are also extremely important to the operations of the Transit Hub. They enter the site from all 3 directions like cars, turn left to travel around the parking deck like hotel guests, and then turn right into the bus hub. There are 5 stops on either side that serve multiple different public and private lines. The stops on the east side serve the Disney owned buses which include the off site parking buses and dedicated airport line buses. The west side includes Sydney public transportation buses and other private lines. Guests on the east side enter into the atrium space directly from the bus stops, take elevators down, and enter the District. Guests on the west side must use the sky bridge, so take elevators up to floor 6 and then cross over and down. The Disneyland Hotel also has a bus stop to be served by airport line buses.To the west of the parking garage are two surface lots specifically for bus parking, like group tour buses.

Last, the resort takes advantage of public transportation options. The most unique is the Sydney ferry system. A new stop is build adjacent to the Disney District that serves both existing lines and a new direct Downtown to Disneyland Sydney line. In the southwest corner of the diagram is the other public option, the Sydney light rail. That existing station is expanded and connected to the resort by a private half mile walking path and bridge, or about a 12 minute walk.

Backstage Operations

The main backstage complex of the resort is to the north of the Transit Hub, separated from the two parks. The main gate from Robert Street leads to a small complex that has the main receiving building, the cast center building, and a few small department offices. Remember this whole backstage area is 30' below the adjacent public areas. Trucks make their deliveries to the receiving building or to the hotel ahead before exiting at the east end of the backstage road. High level managers and executives park in the bottom floor of the hotel parking deck. Cast park off site and are bused to a station built on the north side of the cast center. All costuming storage and cleaning is offsite at the same location as the parking. There are more storage and operations buildings there too. Other backstage buildings are distributed around the edges of the resort.

This north complex is connected to the rest of the resort by way of hidden roads under the Transit Hub. A tunnel leads from just adjacent to the hotel parking deck south under the bus hub and then splits off to the two parks. Off of this tunnel are a series of storage rooms under the bus hub. The tunnel begins at real ground level because of the previously mentioned 30' rise but gradually slopes down 18' under the transit hub. It does this because the backstage road has to travel under the pathway to Hollywood Adventure Park. The backstage road then slopes back up to ground level past the path, which is shown on the diagram. The backstage road to Hollywood Adventure likewise slopes back up underneath the A4 roadway. These roads loop around both resorts and access the remaining backstage buildings. To the south of Disneyland Park is an entertainment building, merchandising warehouse, security and fire building, cast dining center, and the main central shops building. On the north side is a helipad, two warehouses, and a large receiving dock so that goods do not have to come only by truck.

Because of the extreme separation of the main cast center and the two parks, I have included a cast transit system in the plan for the rest. I image a fleet of small buses would transport cast members from the cast center in the north backstage complex direct to the parks. There are three stops built into each park, spread out around the perimeters. There would also be some cast support spaces at each of the stops.

There are more backstage operation details that are more related to the specifics of the parks, so I will share those when discussing the appropriate land. 

The Disneyland Hotel

The shape of the site immediately suggested the shape and placement of a feature hotel on the north side of the bay, which I decided to make the Disneyland Hotel. Architecturally, it is modern like the original Disneyland Hotel, with dominant use of glass, concrete, and colored metal panel for accents. There are three towers, the Fantasy Tower, the Adventure Tower, and the Discovery Tower from west to east. Each are 10 floors from park ground level, but there are no rooms on floor 1 and floors 2-4 are singled loaded with rooms only on the south side.

The entry lobby and public spaces are located on floor 3 and 4 while service areas for the hotel are located below with access to the backstage complex by way of a tunnel under the porte cochere area. The lobby features a three floor atrium with a glass dome and a grand modern staircase. The public areas around the lobby include a counter service location, retail, and a fine dining restaurant in the semicircular protrusion, looking out to the District and park. There is also a rec center including both an indoor and outdoor pool on the 5th floor. There is a large event center built into the bottom floors of the east end of the Discovery Tower with additional backstage service areas.

The west two towers include standard rooms and luxury suites while the Discovery Tower is split between family suites and standard rooms. By my counts, the Fantasy Tower holds 202 standard rooms and 9 suites, the Adventure Tower holds 183 standard rooms, and the Discovery Tower holds 136 standard rooms and 150 family suites. That totals 680 rooms in the hotel, which I estimate to be a max capacity of about 3800 guests with every room full and a rough average of 2800 guests.

I left the rest of the north shore of the bay unoccupied with the assumption that private good neighbor hotels could be built there in the future. There would be a Disney operated ferry line that connected these hotels to the Disney District.

The elevation drawing shows the main architectural features of the building: a concrete clad base topped by glass curtain wall with a series of metal panel arch extrusions adding depth and variety to the facade. The extruded arches feature color on the inside and outside faces as well as color on the spandrels between floors. The far left and right rooms inside these arches have a french balcony. The decision for a mostly glass facade was to attempt to minimize the visibility of the building from the parks. Of course it will always be visible, but a reflective facade helps the large building fade into the sky when viewed from the rest of the resort.

The Disney District

The next thing to cover before the parks is the Disney District. This area is meant to act as a second Main Street to the small resort, increasing the retail and dining options outside the parks while also forming a slow transition from the Transit Hub to the parks. Just outside of the Transit Hub atrium is a large icon fountain with a globe similar to TDS. To the left is the pathway to the hotel, to the right is the path to Hollywood Adventure, and straight is the main corridor of the District. Because Australia drives on the left instead of the right, the normal arrangement of program is flipped. Food and specialty retail is on the left to be visited when you are entering, and the main retail is on the right while exiting.

The north side is a complex of four interconnected buildings, each with two levels, that hold a variety of food options of all scales and prices, specialty retail locations, and other late night entertainment choices. The buildings are all connected on the second level by open air bridges. There would be a mix of private and Disney operated tenants in this area. The Disney owned locations include a version of the Boathouse adjacent to the ferry dock, a themed entertainment dining experience, a themed club, and a live music club. The eastmost building also houses the central kitchens for the entire resort. These four buildings have underground access to the rest of backstage via a tunnel to the road under the Transit Hub. The diagram below is a rough outline of a possible program distribution, showing the different retail and dining options of the District.

The south building is one large World of Disney store, hidden behind multiple facades and branded as a series of unique stores. Inside is a massive two story retail environment for guests to finish all shopping needs as they exit the park.

The architecture of the entire District is international modern, blending vernacular modern language with international details to create a complex that feels like it was slowly assembled by a diverse group of people. It shouldn't be clean and consistent modern, but it shouldn't be so complex and themed that it requires a backstory. Just a design mood that this Disney District has a history and has character worth being explored.

There, that covers most everything I wanted to mention about the areas outside the parks. That means next time, in two weeks, we are going to start the more interesting part: a land by land walk through of the two theme parks, complete with 5 attraction plans, multiple elevations, and hopefully (if I have time to make them) some other graphics and logos.

So since were going to be hitting some big posts in the coming weeks and months, I really want to reach the biggest audience possible. I would really appreciate it if you comment, retweet, share, favorite, anything you can to help spread the posts coming up. Really appreciate you all reading and hope you enjoy the posts!


  1. This looks absolutely fantastic. I'd be interested in seeing a London Disneyland after you do your in depth look at the two parks.

    Also, how do you retweet this post? I retweeted your last twitter message, but I'm not sure if you can retweet this post.

  2. The thought you put into the parking and transportation is amazing. Looking forward to your next post.