Monday, October 26, 2015

Halloween at DHS and Halloween Town

Happy (early) Halloween!

The series about the Sydney Resort is over, and now we are back to regular posts based on the existing parks. Each month, there will be one more comprehensive post detailing a new attraction or maybe park expansion. I have plans for some good stuff coming up.

And for this month, October, I thought Halloween was the perfect theme.

I have previously mentioned my ideas for a new Halloween retheme and special event for the park currently known as Disney Hollywood Studios, so this post gets more indepth with that concept. It is a long post with alot of text, but I think a pretty cool concept.

So first: why Halloween and why this park?

Halloween has become likely the biggest special event season for theme parks due to the success of Halloween Horror Nights, Not So Scary, and the like. Covering both ultra scary and family friendly, these events are huge draws to parks. Disney has the family event covered and Universal has the adults. I see this as an opportunity to create a new event that covers the group in between.

From what I know, Disney has wanted to start up another event like this at DHS for years but for some reason it never has happened. The Villains events from the past few years probably didn't help. The limited content of these parties were great, but needed more. So this is my plan for that bigger event. To cover the demographic between the two main events, as well as those that go to HHNs of course, I have imagined this as an event based around a series of houses and attraction overlays that are not so much scary as startling. No gore, no death, but still suspenseful and scary to some, and entertaining and well designed for all.

The placement is DHS is fairly obvious because it is a more grown up park and its movie property basis lends itself to the event.

Also, I wanted to make this more than just a paid event and wanted to throw in some permanent theming and changes to the park for day guests, so this plan starts with some attractions overlays as well as other major additions.

So now an overview of the design. Note that this is all based on my design of the park expansion, not what was announced at D23. So there are some inconsistencies, most notably with the event theater that was built between my first design and now.

There are two elements to my plan for the park: the regular day time components and the special night time hard ticket event. First the day time event.

The below drawing diagramatically show the locations of every element in this plan.

Hollywood Boulevard is decorated to the season, as well as Sunset Boulevard, where the decor is based more on fall than Halloween. Toontown is also decorated with more whimsical Halloween decorations, like oversized spiderwebs. No other lands get permanent decorations, because that would break theme and time period for most of them.

Attraction overlays are are selected by how easy it would be to install the overlay, as in which attractions would be closed the shortest amount of time. I don't want to have any significant closures, and no closure is the best option. With this, I selected attractions that are primarily film so the transitions could happen over a few days or a night. They are shown with red outline on the diagram.

So the daytime overlays for the season are the Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania, MuppetVision, and Toontalk.

For Tower of Terror, the exterior and lobby are redressed for a Halloween Party that never happened. New minor changes are made to the storyline and the projections through the ride are changed to reflect the Halloween party story. New lighting effects in the drop shafts are also added just to give a new experience.

In Toy Story Mania, the games are all changed for a new Halloween theme as well as some season specific props in the queue and loading area. This I believe was an original promise of the attraction, and I am a little surprised this has never happened before.

MuppetVision gets a new seasonal movie showing the Muppets filming a "scary" movie that doesn't go very well. Since the Muppets are currently in production for their show, it shouldn't be too hard to make a new seasonal film. I sincerely hope that Muppet Vision and the Muppet area survives the park changes coming soon.

Last, Toontalk gets a new storyline where the characters have a costume contest and tell their version of scary stories. It would have a similar tone to the current Laugh Floor and my proposed Toontalk.

In addition to the attraction overlays, a new seasonal show about the Villains is presented in the Hyperion Theater. (Rumor is that a permanent Villains show is coming soon to this theater, so this may soon be redundant.)

The last element is the biggest, and involved the most description. Inside the permanent event venue I proposed in my plan to the north of Rockin Roller Coaster (which is where the event theater is currently being built...), is a new miniland built just for the season: Halloween Town from Nightmare Before Christmas.

My design for the event space is complicated and large, so I'll go over that first. The below drawing is of just the event center without the Halloween overlay. The Halloween plan is coming father down so as not to spoil anything.

The entrance hall to the complex is off of a new trolley circle by Rockin Roller Coaster. The exterior facade is understated and continues the style of golden age Hollywood, so that it can blend in to any event use during the year. The elegant double height entry lobby branches off to Hall A to the left and Hall B straight ahead. Hall A has two stacked levels while B is just one. Hall A lower is 20' tall, upper is 35' tall, and B is 40' tall. In the entry hall is a gift shop on the left of the entrance and a kitchen and snack location to the right. There are three main public staircases up to the upper level of Hall A as well as multiple escalators and elevators. One set of each is located inside Hall A. The rear of Hall A is a service area with a large freight elevator and loading docks on the ground floor. Restrooms are located adjacent to Hall A on both floors. Additionally, there is a smaller Hall C on the second floor adjacent to Hall A that is designed to be primarily a permanent retail location.

I tried to layout the building to maximize use for different events through the year. The various Halls can serve different functions of different sizes, with Hall A upper being big enough for large presentations. The kitchen is placed so that it can serve the snack location in the entry hall or a temporary built location somewhere else in the building.

For Halloween, this building is the center of the special additions and every Hall is used. Hall B holds two houses for the night events, Hall A lower holds a special attraction, Hall A upper is Halloween Town and a house, and Hall C is a retail location.

Focusing on the daily experience, guests enter the entry hall, which is dressed as a movie theater. This is because one of the night time houses is themed to a haunted movie theater, and it has its entry and exit on the ground floor. Halloween Town begins at the top of the stairs, on the mezzanine overlooking the entryway.

On the mezzanine is a large set piece of the town gate, opening up towards the entrance doors to Hall A upper. To the left of the gate is another smaller facade that disguises the entry path to Hall C, the retail space.

Because this is a temporary seasonal instillation, the theming strategy is limited but hopefully effective. There are a limited number of set pieces, but they are large and well themed and supplemented with less detailed built ups, artificial trees, and ground treatments, such as fake grass.

Lighting and special effects are also crucial to set the tone here at the entry and inside the main hall. This space is lit as if illuminated by the moon, surround sound around the space creates the illusion of life, and lighting and projections on the back wall and suspended moon show the moody sky. The main Town Hall facade is also projection mapped so that it can change through the night.

Inside the entry doors is the main center of the Halloween Town, with the large City Hall facade and central fountain. There are 4 main elements to the city.

Starting from the right of the entry doors, the first is a snack location. A large semicircular canvas canopy is supported by faux stone and wood pillars with two large themed food carts sitting below it. Fake stone walls set pieces sit against the real walls behind the carts. Next to the canopy is a small seating area. There are more tables across the path, surrounded by a half height curved stone wall.

Next is the entrance to a new seasonal attraction that is located in the lower level of the Hall. More description about this in a second. The entrance facade is a stone building that is made of temporary themed walls on the lower section and a large suspended roof set piece above. The partial dome roof is large and iconic to draw guests to this attraction. Smoke periodically emerges from the top of the roof.

Next is the Town Hall building, which is the entrance to the maze of the land that is open during the nightly events. I also considered having this maze only open during the day but unstaffed with actors, so that it is more of a environment walkthrough that a scary maze. That is a possibility. There is no public interior of the building, just a storage space.

In front of the Town Hall is the fountain, which is functional, and the circular court defined by small low walls. There are two ministructures built into the walls that are just there for visual density and have nothing inside. Also by the circle is a large interactive character tree, like the one in the movie that talks. During the day, the tree interacts with guests.

Last, to the left of the entry doors, is the entry path to the previously mentioned retail space. By the path is a highly themed retail cart. Another small facade marks the entrance to Hall C.

Inside the retail space, the themeing consists of wall dressings, hanging lights, and lightly themed merchandise stands and tables. This is meant to be Jack's storage space for his Halloween and Christmas collection. This space would be regularly used for retail, so some of the needs, like counters and wall shelves would be built in.

Ok back to the attraction. I wanted to include something substantial in this seasonal land, so an attraction seemed like a good idea. But to be seasonal and realistic, it needed to be small and portable. So after some research, I decided on a truck bed simulator for the attraction. I based this on a model I found online that seats 28 per car, so I decided on 8 trucks for a rough hourly capacity of around 1600-1700, which is probably good for something like this.

The queue begins at the previously mentioned facade in Halloween Town and travels down a hallway toward the staircase down. We have entered Jacks workshop, where he invented the items necessary to take over Christmas. Inventions and prototypes of his flying machines hang above the queue. At the bottom of the stairs, the chain queue turns and enters a room built of temporary walls. Jack's drawings and photos cover the stone walls, leading to the final queue room, where bone chandeliers hang above.

Guests are split to one of four queues, each of which loads two simulators. When time to load, the double doors in the stone wall open, leading guests to the staircase up to the simulator. Each seat 24 total, with six rows of four and a small aisle in the center. Guests load from the back, with the screen straight ahead. The simulator and what is visible of the truck is themed as a wood and stone flying machine on a stone and metal launch pad.

After loading, Jack greets us on the screen and tell us about his new invention for a reindeerless flying sleigh, which we are going to take a ride on. The attraction take us on a medium thrill flight through the iconic locations of Halloween Town, to the forest, into Christmas Town, and back. Since its a smaller simulator, it does not have as much motion as other permanent versions.

Guests unload back down the stairs and through the door, and then move south towards a hallway that wraps back to the escalators on the north side. That then takes them back to Halloween Town.

The last information about the daily Halloween Town is that it would feature a small group of characters and entertainers, including Jack, Sally, and the Mayor, who would rotate throughout the day.

Also of note is that the land would remain through Christmas, since the property fits both just as well. The facades are redressed with Christmas decorations and fake snow, the maze is removed, the simulator gets a Christmas specific movie, and the merchandise switches to Christmas only. Projection effects on the walls make it appear as if a constant light snow is falling.

Now on to the night time Halloween event. The basic premise is that the Villains have broken out of the movies and taken over the park.

The event is composed of an entrance show, three Villain take-over zones, a special version of Fantasmic!, a closing fireworks show, special versions of three attractions, and up to five houses.

The entrance show, which takes place on the central stage, is the takeover of the park by the Villains. The villains from Disney, Pixar, and Star Wars properties emerge from the movies to take control for one night of chaos and fear.

The three Villain zones are comparable to scare zones, but less scary and more cool environments featuring the Villains from each land. These areas are light purple on the map.

The first zone is Animation Courtyard, where animated villains roam and greet guests. There are no formal meet and greet lines and the characters move freely in the area to interact. Only a few are out at any time and rotate through the night.

The second is in Pixar Place and is actually three separate areas. By the Monsters Inc area is a full scale child-outbreak, filled with CDA agents and trucks, scanning spotlights, smoke, and panicked monsters. By the Incredibles is a full sized Omnidroid attack, featuring a parade float sized Omnidroid. The area near Toy Story is themed to Toy Story of Terror. Additionally, other characters roam the areas, like Zurg, Pete, and Lotso.

Last, Star Wars is overtaken by Bounty Hunters and the Sith. The villains of the galaxy are found in the main courtyard of the land and periodic street events show the arrival of Storm Trooper battalions or Darth Vader.

The special Fantasmic! is an alternate version of the show where the Villains replace Mickey from the start, and ultimately win. It features new stagings of some of the same scenes with new focus of the Villains, and ends with the dragon triumphant. I decided it would be off brand to have Mickey defeated, so instead he isn't present at all. This is entirely the dreams of the Villains.

The closing fireworks show is similar to those done in the past for Villain events, featuring fireworks shot off over the Chinese Theater. It also has some stage show elements on the central stage with the Villains regathering from their night of power and eventually being sucked back into the movies.

Three attractions have special dark versions during the event, like the daily overlays. These are purple outline and color on the diagram.

Tower of Terror, which already has a new day version, gets a more intense night version. The night version features a longer and more extreme drop sequence, a scarier projection storyline, and new effects in the 5th Dimension room including a live actor. This is now meant to be an intense ghostly experience.

Rockin Roller Coaster gets an overlay that removes the Aerosmith story and becomes a haunted coaster. The ride vehicles take a wild trip through the pitch black city, with absolutely no light inside the show building.

Dr. Jones's Warehouse gets a new darker story that takes advantage of the effects and liver performer of the experience. Now, once inside the warehouse, the spirit of one of the idols possesses the guide, leading to more chaos and no happy ending.

Last, the houses. As you have seen, the Halloween Town maze has been fully designed, and the other 4 have concepts. I will start with those. Also, I suggest 5 mazes here, but maybe the event would start smaller with 1 or 2. Or maybe 5 isn't enough. That is the kind of thing I can never plan for. These are orange, and if you zoom in, you can see the entrance and exit paths on the diagram.

The first maze starting from the right is located in a tent behind Tower of Terror. The queue starts at the circle on the path to Fantasmic and exits down the path by the Fantasmic theater. This maze is the Disney Villains maze, and takes guests through the lairs of the most famous villains. Ursula's undersea cave, Gaston's antlered pub, and Queen of Hearts hedge maze, and Dr. Faciliars voodoo shop all appears in the house. The characters are all realized as face characters with detailed makeup and costumes. This is the lightest and most family friendly of the mazes.

The next house is located in Hall B of the Event Center and is themed to the Tower of Terror. The queue begins in the gardens in front of the Hotel and leads backstage to the Hall, where a new facade for the Hollywood Tower Hotel Convention Center is built. The house takes us through the haunted halls of the building. Scenes include the lobby, art gallery, kitchen, garden, and ballroom, all fully haunted with both live performers and Haunted Mansion style special effects. The exit path goes around the Tower ends at the exit of the attraction.

The other house in Hall B is themed to classic monster cinema. The entrance and exit are both inside the entry hall of the event center, the entrance on the left, exit straight ahead. The queue leads out to a back courtyard between the Halls, where the queue is located. The line leads into the Hall and, once inside, through a large movie screen of the haunted theater. The house goes through classic monsters like Werewolves, Vampires, and Mummies. Because the classics are not Disney's, these are new versions and generalizations of the classic styles. The two houses in this Hall are both medium intensity.

Skipping the Halloween Town maze for now, the last maze is located in a tent behind Rockin Roller Coaster. The queue and exit go through the trolley gate and down the backstage path. This is an undefined theme at this point, but would be more intense than the others.

Back to the designed maze. The entrance is to the left of the Town Hall building. The queue winds around the garden behind the facade, through fake dead plants and trees and under the projected moon. It enters through a small mausoleum building, and the maze begins.

Guests pass though a few layers of curtains and turn right to enter the backstage of the Town Hall. Christmas boxes and a large tree fill the room, and on the curtain in front of us is the projection of a shadow of Jack giving out instructions for his Christmas celebration, specifically talking to Lock Shock and Barrel. The christmas lights twinkle and the smell of cookies fills the room. On the left behind the tree is the first scare point, where a citizen of Halloween Town pops up to startle us. Another actor pops out from a curtain on the right, pushing us forward.

Through a curtain, we enter a vortex tunnel, where footprints and bats spiral around us. On the left, a section of the tunnel is constricted of projection scrim and Lock Shock and Barrel are projected on it, singing "Kidnap the Sandy Claws" and occasionally popping out at us. Through a curtain at the end of the tunnel is a projection of the moonlit hill side, with their treehouse silhouetted, and with rock work blocking our view to the left. An actor dressed as Barrel pops out from the right.

Around the corner, we find a large scene of the treehouse with a cyclorama background, The path goes over a bridge and under the overhang of the house. A live Lock pops out from behind the rocks on the right, and an animatronic of Shock pops down from the above treehouse as we walk under.

Through a side door, we find ourselves inside the house. It is dark and dingey and filled with junk. This room has an assortment of cages, some filled, some not. One large cage at the first bend has a live performer that startles guests. Around the corner, we go down a narrow hallway that has large paintings on the right side, one of each of the three and a fourth of Oogie Boogie. The paintings are actually scrims and are swinging doors, so actors behind can suddenly appear behind some of them.

At the end of the hall, we find a larger room with the walking bathtub in it, which is a low movement animatronic. There are three scare points, one for each of the tree around the room. We are then led into a large metal tunnel that heads down to Oogie's lair. The tunnel narrows and winds towards a dark room, where there is a large blacklit gateway on the left and a scare point on the right, pushing us deeper towards Oogie Boogie.

The path leads into a classic mirror maze, where we have trouble finding our way through except for the black lit arrows that flicker and fade. There are two places where one way mirrors hide scare actors that can randomly appear. Everything is neon and gaming themed from this point on, including the actors. We make it out of the mirrors and into the main rooms of the lair. In the first room, a set of neon columns defines the path, and with careful placement of a mirror at the front and back, it seems as if the columns go on forever. A actor pops out between the columns.

The next room is the main game space, with stacks of die everywhere. On the left is the spinning wheel and the right is a large spikey gate, which can pop open to reveal another actor. Before turning around, we are startled by a large moving cowboy, like in the movie. An actor slides the figure forward towards the guests path. Next a neon skeleton actor pops out from around a large spike press, leading us into the main roulette wheel scene.

We walk around the wheel, surrounded by menacing playing cards, each with eyes that follow us. Before exiting, we are startled by one actor that blends into the last card. The next scene shows an animatronic Santa on a table along with Lock and Shock actors. Barrel is just around the corner to scare us to the last space.

We pass a projection wall of a spinning wheel, choosing our fate, and we go through one more curtain to find an animatronic of Oogie Boogie himself, who has a personalized remark related to the result of the wheel. We pass one more scare and go through a set of curtains again and out of the main maze space. In the last room, we again pass Christmas boxes and receive one final post maze scare from our right before we exit back to the public and down a path towards the gift shop.

This design for a maze would include 24 live actors as well as multiple behind the scenes roles to operate and maintain the lighting, projections, sound, and animatronics. On the plan of the maze, the red dots show the actor positions.

The other mazes would be of similar design and scale, though I didn't have time to design more than just this one.

Wow, done with that long, but hopefully enjoyable description.

I'm sure I didn't say everything that I meant to for this event, so if you have questions feel free to ask.

The tentative plan for next month is a new original attraction for EPCOT. Hope to see you back!

1 comment :

  1. Do you know that Halloweentown is an actual movie made by Disney Channel.