Monday, August 29, 2016

Third Gate Progress: The Theme of the Park

This week, I am going to talk a little about my planning for my design of a Disneyland Resort 3rd gate. As I have said before, this plan is going to take me much longer than the expansion plans for the existing parks, but I still want to keep you updated with my process and the progress of the plan.

So I have decided that the every other week text posts will periodically be used for updates and explanations of what I am doing. Design posts will continue on the other weeks with updates to other projects.

At this point, I have roughly decided on the properties and the theme of the park, but have not started actually laying the park out on the site.

This first time, I am going to give an overview of the properties I selected and how that defined the theme.

So first, it has to be understood that realistically, this will be an IP heavy park. That's what Disney would build today and what will make the park popular. Additionally, the modern trend of parks is single property immersive lands. That trend, started by Harry Potter, allow guests to step right into the movies that they love and creates more transformative environments. So I wanted to at least make an attempt at this strategy.

However, even with these realities, I want to find a way to incorporate these elements into a cohesive and immersive overall theme, comparable to the rest of the Disney parks. This will not just be IP kingdom.

The other part of my strategy, which I had discussed in my post about how IPs should be properly used in the parks, is that the Disneyland Resort needs more variety of themed settings so that a larger variety of IPs can fit. The existing parks cover a good amount of settings, but there are multiple environments that major Disney films are set in that are missing.

So with these goals, I turned to a list of Disney films and began to mark potential IPs.

My first pass was for anything that I think is popular enough to be in a theme park OR anything that I think could make a good themed environment. A lot of things here.

I eliminated things that I don't think Disney would build anymore because they are too old or unpopular, and things that have an obvious place in the other parks, just don't actually exist.

From that, I made a top list of things that I wanted to try to get in this 3rd gate.

Here's the list, in chronological order or release:

Mary Poppins
The Lion King
Wreck it Ralph
Inside Out
Moana (future release, but looks worthy of the parks)
Coco (same)
Gigantic (again, same)

Plus, I previously decided that Marvel would be located in this park since the Marvel area I proposed for DCA is rather small.

And I could realistically see the same being done with Star Wars by having a second land in this park, just like Universal has done. Spread the crowds and add a new, differently themed world.

That is a good sized list, but reasonable for this park. Now to transform that into a theme.

I spent a week or two or three looking at the list and thinking about how they could work together.

I discussed before in my theme of Disneyland post that a park both has a theme that defines what is in the park, and a structure that frames how the elements are presented. I will be looking for both here, and they will influence each other.

First, I considered the existing theme park themes heavily.

I thought about a Hollywood Studios park. That would be easy to fit the properties in, but would be redundant to the Hollywood area of DCA, and frankly would be too easy.

I thought about DisneySea. It successfully made single theme environments based on existing films. But I wasn't convinced I could make all the properties I selected work in this theme. Plus, this theme requires a lot of water, which takes up a lot of valuable space, which would not work in a park that has to be on the small side.

I thought about EPCOT, or WESTCOT. But since they can't seem to figure out the EPCOT they already have, I don't think this could work. But this inspired part of the final solution.

When I looked at the films I selected and thought about why they did not fit in the current resort, I realized that many of them have very specific international locations, where the film really depends on that foreign setting in a way that is different than many of the classic animated films that could easily be transposed to a generic Fantasyland setting.

This international mindset combined with the success of EPCOT and the goal of making more focused lands centered around a property led me to investiage the idea of an international park, framed around a series of "worlds" that correspond to real life locations around the world.

Almost a IP World Showcase. This is especially ironic, since this is exactly what I am against in the real EPCOT. However, that is not because of the validity of placing IPs in international settings, but because of the more realistic and mature tone of EPCOT combined with its history as an edutainment park. So, in this new park, I think it could work because it is not being framed as real representations of countries, but as fantasy worlds inspired by real life.

The majority of the films in my list easily fit in this theme. Some are a little more complicated, but can still be structured as individual "worlds" that we travel to in this array of foreign settings. Zootopia and a Star Wars world essentially have the same international relationship to what we are familiar with, just imaginary fantasy worlds instead of fantasy inspired real settings.

So I think this can work for a park. However, this is the structure of the park, not the theme of the park. What ties together this idea of international worlds? EPCOT is structured as a World's Fair of international countries, but is themed as an expression of the progress of man.

To be honest, I think just saying international worlds could work. It's not a comprehensive theme, but it is unique and explains the properties and the structure of the properties. This is probably what would actually happen.

A better solution would be to tie a secondary theme or story that explains why we travel to these foreign worlds. There could be many solutions here, but I have decided to latch onto one particular idea that Disney has already invested development in and that I know is known and popular.

That is the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Potentially the premier modern theme park story that is underused, S.E.A. is used around the world to tie together a group of attractions and fictional people who all strive to explore the wonders of the world. It's being used more and more frequently now, with even the recent announced addition to Typhoon Lagoon using the S.E.A. theme. It is obviously a favorite concept among the imagineers in power right now. So I am doubling down on it to be a whole park.

I think this could perfectly tie together our trip around the world, and it doesn't even need to be heavy handed. It does not have to be called the S.E.A Park, or even branded with S.E.A. The elements of the park just need to reflect this sense of exploration and adventure, and some specific attractions and settings should include the group and its members.

So my plan for the third gate of Disneyland Resort will be a theme park about the worldwide (and universe wide) travels of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers.

I think that is a solid concept for a complementay park for the resort and I am excited to start developing it soon!

I don't really know a timeline, because developing a whole park can take any amount of time. But my plan is to give you updates as the plan develops.

If you like this concept, let me know in a comment below, and let me know what IPs you wish I included that I didn't mention. If its a good idea, I might be able to fit it in!

I'll be back next week with the last part of the main park expansions.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Disneyland Resort Phased Expansion Plan Part 7 - Phase 3 of California Adventure

As promised, I now have the other half of my phase 3 expansion plan for California Adventure.

In the previous phase for this park, I proposed the addition of a Marvel backlot area in Hollywood, developed a Route 66 themed area that leads from Buena Vista Street to Paradise Pier, and replaced Pacific Wharf with a Beach town aquarium area. All these moves were to solidify the new thematic concept of the park, that it celebrates the ideals of California: Adventure, Life, and Creation.

At this point, Adventure is fully developed in Grizzly Peak National Park, and Life is developed with the series of areas that follow Route 66 across the state, from the desert to the beach. So this third (and the next fourth) phase continues to develop Creation, specifically with the development of a Pixar Place land to the south of Tower of Terror.

I have strong feelings about the placement of Pixar in this park and this specific location. First, I definitely believe that many Pixar films are of high enough quality to be in the parks. And should be in the parks as soon as possible, so even waiting until my 3rd phase might have been a mistake.

But the placement of these films in the parks is usually difficult because Pixar films create diverse, unusual, and detailed worlds that are difficult to shoehorn into existing spaces. A few films could fit other places, but many are so unique that there needs to be a different solution. Therefore, I agree that the best solution for Pixar is to create a Pixar specific land that can bring together these diverse worlds.

Next, in order to create this kind of combined land, it seems like the overall land needs to carry a Pixar Studios theme, relating it to the creative brand of the studio to relate the diverse worlds. That potentially fits in perfect with my designation of the Hollywood area as the spirit of Californian Creation. What better example of Californian Creation and Innovation than Pixar Studios.

Last, as for its placement in the park, I think it is obvious that it should go in this area in the south expansion plot because it would then be right next to both A Bugs Land and Carsland. That would allow both of these lands to be annexed into the new Pixar Studios subland of Hollywood. In my view, this works out so perfectly, that I am shocked it is not whats going to actually happen, at least if the rumors of this plot for Marvel are true.

So, on to my plan for Pixar Studios. I analyzed the list of Pixar films to judge their popularity, the potential of the themed environment and attractions created from the property, the potential for it to be located somewhere else in the resort in the future, and if it is already present in the existing parks. After this analysis, I decided to add Monsters Inc, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille to the existing Bugs Life and Cars areas. Toy Story and Finding Nemo are already present, The Good Dinosaur and Brave are not popular enough, and I have plans to fit WALL-E, UP, Inside Out, and Coco in other locations (3rd gate).

In this phase, I am adding Monsters Inc and Ratatouille, saving The Incredibles for the fourth phase.

I developed the new area with a roundabout in the center, with 5 streets branching off to the 5 properties in the land. At the center of the roundabout is a statue of the Pixar lamp and ball. The surrounding buildings use the Pixar brick and black steel, and then this style fades into the surrounding worlds of the films. The largest new world is Monstropolis, which is on the east side and accessible from the path by the Tower of Terror. This pathway would be the primary access from Hollywood land proper. The path would pass under a Pixar Studios gate and the Red Car Trolley backstage barn would be relocated across the path.

The Monstropolis area is highlighted by the Monsters Inc factory building with city facades forming the streets around it. Inside the factory building is the often rumored Door Coaster dark ride. The queue pases through the lobby, into a scare floor, and then loads in a door maintence bay. The first half is a dark ride as Mike and Sulley play hide and seek with Boo, and the second half is the low thrill suspended coaster through the door warehouse. The city street buildings outside in the land hold a counter service food location, retail, and a meet and greet with Mike and Sulley. The street would continue south to the Incredibles area in the future.

The Ratatouille area is much smaller and fits in where the current Luigi attraction is. The area is a single building with a Parisian courtyard and fountain. Inside on the left is a table service Remy's Restaurant on two floors. To the right, at an alley, is the entrance to the small attraction for this area, a cooking demonstration with Remy, similar to Turtle Talk and the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor. The interactive digital show presents Remy teaching us how to cook and answering questions about Paris. The scale issue is solved by setting it up as Linguini filming Remy and projecting it on a big screen for us to see. Similar to Honey I Shrunk the Audience, the projected setting is true scale and is meant to be real life on stage, not on stage.

One of the spurs off the central round about connects to the road leading into Cars Land and another leads directly to A Bugs Land. A Bugs Land is slightly reconfigured with Heimlich's Chew Chew Train removed. the rear entrance from Hollywood completely removed, and the entrances on the Cars Land side slightly moved. The path from the Route 66 area also has a Pixar gate.

In the corner between the Cars Land and Bugs Land roads is a small meet and greet pavilion, formed of two semi circular covered pavilions. These would hold various Pixar characters that don't already have a place in the land.

As mentioned before, the south area of this expansion plot is to be used for an Incredibles area in the next phase.

I'll be back with the last part of the current resort expansion in two weeks, and, at some point, a post detailing the start of my planning for the third gate.

Thanks for reading and leave a comment below if you liked this Pixar expansion. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Disneyland Resort Phased Expansion Plan Part 6 - Phase 3 of Disneyland

For this post about Phase 3 for my Disneyland expansion plan, I will be splitting it into two posts, one for each park. This is entirely because I have finished one park, Disneyland, but not the other and I did not want to keep you waiting for another week.

The third phase is intended to open in the year 2030 and includes the opening of the third gate as well major as additions to both parks to balance crowds. As I have said before, I will not be including the third gate at this time, because developing a whole new gate takes alot more time and thought than just adding to an existing park. I may do a post soon that details the start of my planning, but it will not have a real site plan.

For Disneyland park, this phase brings additions to both Fantasyland and Tomorrowland since the other lands of the park are fully built out and do not need improvements or additions.

In the previous phase, Fantasyland was expanded north by replacing Toontown. The addition brought a Frozen boat ride and large indoor Arendelle village as well as a Tangled trackless dark ride.

In this phase, the Fantasyland Theater is replaced with two new attractions that are on a new path that leads back around the Storybook Canal Boats to connect to the main area of Fantasyland.

From the castle courtyard area, the path curves around Storybook Land, taking up the space formerly holding the Skyway Chalet. First, to the left is a small French village building, designed with the same level of fantasy realism in the rest of the land. The first facade is Maurice's workshop. Inside, guests experience the same Magic Mirror effect as in Storytime with Belle and are transported directly into the dining room of the Castle. Instead of being a meet and greet, this is a full on animatronic show like the Tiki Room. Guests are seated in the round around the large dining room table. Lumiere, standing on the mantle of the large fireplace, greets us and then starts up the performance of Be Our Guest. Animatronics on the table and above come to life all around us. Guests exit back out the mirror on the other side of the building and walk back out to the pathway.

Continuing from this building, guests approach a more built up area where the larger addition is, a new version of Peter Pan's Flight. My reasoning for this new Peter Pan's Flight is the same as why I made the same move in my Magic Kingdom Plan. It has become a right of passage ride and I think is always going to have high demand even if other dark rides and capacity are added to other areas of the park. It's line is never going to get shorter. I think the attraction in its existing state is too low capacity and of lower quality than a right of passage ride deserves. Plus, now that we have seen a new version of the attraction in Shanghai, it is clear that the existing can be improved. Honestly, this is the only attraction I can think of that I think needs this relocation and expansion. I know this is controversial because it removes something original to the park, but I think this is worth it overall because of the added quality of experience for the guests who would now wait in a shorter line for a better ride.

So here, I have included a new modern version of Peter Pan's Flight that is roughly three times the size of the existing, including a modern enclosed queue similar to the one at the Magic Kingdom. The attraction follows a similar story path, starting in the Darling's nursery, then through the stars to Neverland, and culminating with an encounter with Captain Hook. The difference is the scenes are much larger and more detailed with modern animatronics and projection effects. The vehicles are also are larger with two rows that could seat 2 or 3 guests. It is an overall improvement on the existing while keeping the same character of the original.

The original attraction is kept open up to the day that this new version opens, and is then closed and removed. A new attraction in that space opens in the next phase of the project.

The path then leads to a split, left to go under the train tracks directly towards the Frozen additions from last phase, and right to  head back towards the train station and Small World.

Moving on to Tomorrowland, there are big changes here. First, the Autopia, the existing People Mover tracks, and the Monorail are all slightly rerouted to create an expansion pad for Fantasyland. This means losing about 150' on the west side of the existing area, cutting it back to just the land above the submarine show building. That showbuilding and the land above is would be much moe difficult to redevelop, so it formed the edge of what I could change. In this phase, the three attractions are rerouted, and the new land is used in the next phase, holding one or two additional attractions for Fantasyland. In this rerouting process, there is also a small show building built on the west edge of the new Autopia, which holds an indoor futuristic highway scene that the cars (and eventually People Mover above) pass through. The monorail is honestly the most affected, because it removes the loop through Fantasyland and around the Matterhorn, keeping the track mostly in Tomorrowland. This is so that future additions to Fantasyland do not have to be built under or around the track.

The biggest addition to Tomorrowland is not an attraction, but improvements to the actual land. In order to rework the aesthetic of the land and relieve crowding pinch points, a sweeping second level is added to the land, defined with organic curves and lined with vegetation. The elevated level has two outdoor access towers, one between the two west side buildings, and one by the submarine lagoon. Both have stairs and elevators leading to this second level. It may also be accessed through some of the show buildings. The idea is to reduce crowding while adding sleek and modern architectural moves to the land. The second level would hopefully make it much less congested and make it more comfortable and relaxing for guests to walk through the land.

Additionally, more trees are added to make it a greener future, the covered portion of Tomorrowland Terrace is expanded to create more seating for the stage, and some architectural improvements are made to the Carousel building, which will get a new attraction in the next phase to complete the land.

The one new attraction of this phase replaces Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Thought it is a popular attraction, it just does not fit the theme or location of the new identity of Tomorrowland. So in this phase, it is replaced with a new dark ride that uses the characters of Big Hero 6 in a technology and robotics showcase setting. I decided that the land could use one IP based attraction to balance the tone of the land, and I feel that Big Hero 6 reflects the same ideals of the possibilities of the future. And the technology showcase scene from the start of the film could perfectly fit in the setting of the land and the technology subarea I mentioned last post.

This new dark ride uses the same track, but is no longer a shooting attraction. Guests tour through the exhibits of the showcase in the queue and then board vehicles designed by Hiro for a trip through the lab, led by Baymax.

Last, another attraction opens in Star Wars land at this phase. The MiceChat plan online shows this area as a future expansion, so I am utilizing it here.

That completes the additions for this park in this phase. The next phase brings one last round of additions to both of these lands.

Next week, I will hopefully have the Phase 3 plan for California Adventure, and then we continue onto the last phase of my expansion plan.

Leave a comment if you would have done something different to expand and refresh these two lands. Also, what property do you think should go in that new Fantasyland plot in the next phase? I have a few choices and want to see what you think.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Theme Park Environment: Visual Sequence

After a much too long break, I am back again with a discussion post about the environmental design of the theme park typology. This began with a post back in February about the urban plan history of the theme park, specifically Disneyland. I explored the history of the layout of Disneyland, the development of the hub and spoke layout, and discussed the modern form of the theme park in comparison to the traditional model.

If you have not read that or need a reminder, look over that first to get an introduction to the concept and the material that I have covered so far.

This post is going to be the first of many smaller posts in the series that describe a specific environmental design factor.

Visual Sequence of the Theme Park

The urban plan discussed last time goes along way to defining how guests experience and move through a theme park, but it is an exercise in plan and layout, not perspective experience. The actual movement through the park is more dictated by the visual sequence of elements that compels the guests to circulate through the defined urban plan. This visual sequence is defined by a lot of little effects and tools that are present in the best parks. More comprehensively, it is by the joint effect of all the environmental factors that I will talk about in this series, but the visual manipulation of space I will discuss here is a huge element.

The most commonly known element is the park icon weenie. This is fairly common knowledge and has been talked about throughout the history of the theme parks. Every park has one, or at least tries to have one. We see them most obviously as architectural icons for the park that draw us from the entrance towards the center of the park. They're used as marketing and identity because they are what we see first and best at the park.

The true value of the central icon weenie is for overall park navigation, not just drawing guests into the park. A central icon allows the guest to relocate themselves and find their way from anywhere in the park. It is a beacon to lead back to the center of the park and start a new adventure. This is usually a factor of less than succesful parks, along with the urban plan that placed the icon. If the weenie can't be found of does not actually provide a navigational center, then the park is much harder to experience (Disney Studios Paris).

The central icon is not the only application of weenies. The concept extends to the entrance ways to many lands in the parks, most specifically the castle parks. Each land from the hub has a defined entrance with an icon that draws you in and provides reference. Tomorrowlands have the Astro Orbiter on line with the hub entrance and act as the center node to the land. Fantasylands have the same results with the Castle and Carousel. Frontierland looks through to the river the the Steamboat passing by. All of these have the same effect as the main weenie. Again, this is a problem with unsuccesful parks because there is difficulty knowing where lands are defined and problems spreading crowds out to find the attractions of the park. Hollywood Studios is an examples, where very little of it is actually visible from the central hub area, making the navigation and balance of the park a problem for daily guests.

Moving past weenies to the actual technical idea behind them, the use of view termini is prevalent throughout all parks. Simply, a view terminus is the idea that there is something to see at the end of every path. It is an architectural concept that relates to the planning of a city. Historically, churches and other important social locations were located at the end of major streets and we connected in a network of visible paths to aid navigation. Theme parks adapt this same idea by attempting to purposefully place elements at the end of a visible path that draws you forward and then allows you to network to the next location. This idea does not have to apply to only the defined end of a defined path, but any kind of directed view that leads farther into the land. Think of Adventureland in Disneyland if you are familiar with it. From past the entrance bridge, the view of guests is limited to the left and directed right at the Jungle Cruise building, signaling that they should head that way, instead of to the right, which is a secondary path to Frontierland and therefore does not really have as much of a drawing feature. Then from the center of Adventureland, guests then see the treehouse at the end of the path, moving them along. From their, they can see Tom Sawyers Island and possibly a passing ship framed perfectly to the right, leading into the next land. This sequence continues throughout the park, creating a network of points. These view termini are far more effective than if the placement of views and buildings was not considered. If at the entrance to Adventureland, you couldn't see anything expect jungle to the left, would you feel as drawn to head that way? And if the treehouse didn't obviously say that there is somthing here to see, you may not be as inclined to continue.

Some of the most significant view termini are the many architectural and natural icons of the parks, and these also usually happen to be the most succesfull attractions, entirely because their placement requires us to notice and be drawn to them. Similarly, attractions that falter and do not see similar crowds are usually buried in the middle of an environment, at the end of no view. A good example is the relative unpopularity of Stitch's Great Escape and the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor compared to other attractions in the area. They are parallel to the path and do not terminate any view, so they are easy to pass by.

Another tool that helps create this experience network is the compression and release of views as you transition through the park. This is paired with the compression and release of space, which is a future topic. Basically, the sequence of moving through the park alternates moments where your view is compressed, usually pointing you to either a view termini or hiding something you should not see yet, and then your view is expanded to reveal the full extents of the themed environment. Then it happens again, and again as you move through the park. Back to Adventureland for the example. You start in the wide open hub, where you can see glimpses of many attractions and many lands, so your environment is not focused in yet. Then you move towards Adventureland, through the vegetation, and across the bridge with the gateway. You are tightly focused in here and immediately cannot see the expanses that you just could in the hub. This continues past the Tiki Room on the left until you can see the Jungle Cruise building and a large open area ahead of it. Then, we are in the public pathway stretch of Adventureland, where we are no longer narrowed and can in fact again see many attractions and many areas of this one land. The area around the treehouse and the buildings on the left and right of the path again narrow our view as we transition to Frontierland, which then expands into the super open riverfront, where we are then drawn by a multitude of view termini icons. This land is one of the best examples of this, but most lands and transitions attempt it. So many land transitions in theme parks use a narrowed path that constricts flow, which at first seems to be illogical since these transition paths will get alot of traffic. But by narrowing them, guests are visually encouraged to move on the the next point of expansion. More on this when I talk about physical compression and release.

One last element that ties into that alternating sequence is that many themed lands, even in moments of open vision, restrict the overall scope of the environment by shortening the distance you can see from end to end. Giant open lands feel less appealing than lands that are divided into more modest moments, connected in their own sequence. Fantasyland is Disneyland is a good example because it focuses itself into multiple defined areas that have visual linkages, but not real connections. From the castle courtyard area, you can't see across to the Alice area or the Matterhorn Challet area because trees and buildings block that view. The other more subtle elements from above guide us along without having to show us everything ahead, like Monstro from the Storybook Canal Boats. Similarly, you don't get a clear view of Small World until you are clear into the parade corridor path which terminates at the Small World facade.

Just next door is an example of how this is a problem in my opinon. Toontown felt too open to me because it allows you to look all the way across the land and see anything and everything that would draw your interest. There is no mystery that requires you to turn a corner. Maybe it works since its a small land, but it still can stand as an example of the difference between open lands and divided lands.

In my view, many area of California Adventure have this last problem. In a few places, it felt like I could see too much and that this both didn't make me want to explore as much as I should and that I was not focused into one thematic environment. Examples are Paradise Pier for being able to see too much at once and Cars Land for not being focused in one space. All around the Pier loop, you can see the entirety of the pier loop. There are not really moments that pull away from the land, though Paradise Garden Grill comes close. And in Cars Land, though what I could see around me was impressive, I felt like it was too open and expansive. Seeing Tower of Terror, Bugs Land, and California Screaming from various points didn't allow me to narrow into the single world. This is probably a vegitation problem which is both because it is new and because it is meant to be a flat desert town. No allowance for thick green berms that subdivide and restrict views. But that's not a huge issue since the land does many other things, like view termini and sequence, right. And one of the best compression and release of view moments is at the rock tunnel entrance from Pacific Wharf. This perfectly sets guests up to enter a new world.

A Conclusion and Discussion

In my interpretation of the experience of the park, all of these tools come to together to visually suggest movement and exploration more effectively than a big open park, where there is no visual order or mystery. Therefore, understanding these visual tools is vitally important to the implementation of a theme park urban plan.

I am going to expand on this in the new post of the series which is going to focus on how paths are laid out and how the physical arrangement of circulation affects how we experience the park.

My question this time to start discussion is if you have ever noticed yourself being driven by any of these factors. Do you remember any particularly effective termini that compelled you to more through the park or any momenets of visual compression or release that really stayed with you?

For me, the transition to Frontierland from Adventureland stays with me because I timed it perfectly. Just as I first turned the corner from the Treehouse and saw the Rivers of America, the Sailing Ship Columbia was passing through the framed view, perfectly drawing me into the new land. What about you?

Leave a comment, share with anyone else that may be interested, and check back next week for another post!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Disneyland Resort Phased Expansion Plan Part 5 - Phase 2 of the Parks

The second phase of my expansion for the Disneyland Resort brings a lot of exciting change to both parks.

This phase, set to be completed by 2025, features big additions to both parks to add more capacity and fix some thematic issues. The phase looks ahead to the opening of the third gate in the third phase, five years later.

Also, some cool real life news as Disneyland announced the Eastern Gateway parking and transportation hub yesterday, just like in my plan. Even fits the timeline almost exactly. It will be interesting to see how the final product ends up. I feel confident that I resolved a pretty good solution, so it will be fun for me to see how close I was. Maybe the rest of my long term expansion plan will magically come true also! Now back to this weeks post.

I'll once again start with Disneyland.

As a quick reminder, in the first phase, Disneyland added Star Wars land, created a Main Street bypass, moved the Astro Orbiter, added the Skipper's Terrace, widened the New Orleans Square pathway. and renovated the train tunnel show scenes. 

In this phase, the focus is on two lands: Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Fantasyland to add more, and Tomorrowland to fix whats there.

I'll start with the first Fantasyland expansion, which will actually continue to grow in each of the remaining phases. I decided to spread additions out instead of closing down the whole land for a few years. In this phase, Toontown is replaced. I also want to mention that I am likely going to develop this area in more detail with attraction plans in the near future.

My strategy for this expansion is to fix one of the problems of the current Toontown, that it has to close early because of fireworks. Therefore, I decided first that this expansion is to be predominately indoors to be open as much as possible. It is a large site, so can hold at least two attractions plus public space in one large building.

That indoor requirement also influenced the selection of the attractions since I could imagine a few settings that would best work indoors. Ultimately, I decided on Frozen so that I could create some kind of highly immersive indoor snow scene for the indoor public space. I've heard rumor that this may be happening soon in real life too, at least the Frozen replacing Toontown part. For the other attraction, I decided on a Tangled dark ride, because I think it is one of the more deserving recent movies and definitely has the current fanbase. Plus it has a similar design style to Frozen, so could fit together pretty well. 

The addition is structured as a forest path coming from the train bridge underpass, splitting left for Frozen and straight ahead for Tangled. Each have architectural icons. To the right, through the trees, guests can see a forced perspective Rapunzel's Tower in a distant cleaning, surrounded by a rockwork wall with a waterfall behind. Guests cannot get all that close to it, so it should be able to stay in perspective as being far away. The entrance to attraction is straight ahead and the queues lead into the rockwork wall and then into an interior simulated exterior forest. There, guests board royal carriages for a retelling of the story of the lost princess, told by Rapunzel herself as part of the yearly Festival of Lights. This could potentially be trackless, but I need to work with that some more when I get to making an attraction plan. 

The Frozen side of the forest path, the left side, features a stone tower with a wide eight sided roof as the icon, beckoning guests to the cave path to Arendelle. The tower is covered in snow and displays banners for the kingdom, welcoming us to the newly opened city. The train station is also rebuilt with Arendelle inspired architecture to further tie the area together. The train station remains on the second floor while the ground floor below becomes a gift shop that opens to the north side. 

Inside, the cave path leads through to the town square of Arendelle, covered in snow. The public space inside includes a small snack cart selling hot and cold specialty beverages, a retail location owned by Oaken, and an ice skating rink among the frozen trees, where the are occasional real snow flurries. Olaf greets guests in the square, and the princesses meet inside a meet and greet in the palace building. Passing by the ice skating rink is the flume path for the main attraction, which is similar to Frozen Ever After, but much longer with more show scenes. This would include a multi scene version of Let it Go where the castle physically grows and crystalizes around the boat flume. Again, more detail in the future when I develop an attraction plan.

The next phase of Fantasyland expansions will replace the Fantasyland theater area and add a path on the west side of Fantasyland to connect this new area with the main land. 

For Tomorrowland, the work is replacement of IPs and clarification of theme. This is part one and there will be major placemaking work in the next phase as well as a few new attractions. 

Tomorrowland is the least clear of theme at Disneyland and does not have a clear ideology right now. That's because of the over use of IP's, which each bring their own style and meaning. Plus the Season's of the Force, while cool, has made it even worse. I assume that will be here until Star Wars Land opens, and then it should be removed as soon as possible. 

I decided to develop my version of Tomorrowland as a realistic scientific research station, focusing on space travel. This goes back to the core fantasies that defined the original lands. I see Tomorrowland as the place to fulfill the fantasy of going to space, so that, not super heroes, Star Wars, or Nemo, should be the focus. This is the land where we look to the future and to the stars, always optimistic for a better tomorrow. There is no obvious connection or inclusion of the Tomorrowland movie, but I have to admit the tone is an inspiration here.

The other inspiration for the subject, the tone, and the style of the land comes from a series of posters released by NASA ( which show our universe as a series of travel destinations. These are so incredible beautiful and optimistic, suggesting a time where the universe is accessible and a part of human society. I like that idea for Tomorrowland. Specifically, I am using the first poster, The Grand Tour, to suggest the setting of the land. This Tomorrowland is a space travel research station on Earth that is celebrating the alignment of the planets for the Grand Tour and inviting us guests to learn about and ultimately travel to space. It is firmly set on Earth but looking to the stars. 

This refreshed land is has almost an EPCOT philosophy, but specifically focused on a fantasy based but realistic future of life in space. It therefore borrows a few attractions from EPCOT. More on that later and next phase. 

In this phase, there are three changes to set some ground work, with the rest happening in the next phase. First, Nemo is removed from the Subs. This specifically happens now because Nemo is moved to a new attraction in California Adventure in this phase. The new attraction retains the subs and infrastructure, but now is dressed as high tech research vessels that explores life underwater while on a trip to SeaBase Pacific, an underwater futuristic community. The trip includes exotic fish, encounters with a whale and a giant squid, and ultimately a trip through the futuristic world of civilization underwater, passing by other high tech water crafts and divers. It utilizes the same screen technology as the existing version, plus more sets and limited real figures in SeaBase Pacific. Back outside, there is also a bridge built over the corner of the lagoon to resolve another bottleneck and allow for cool visual connections into the lagoon.

This starts to define an area of Tomorrowland that focuses on the future of life on Earth, showing a high tech civilization that better lives on and with the natural world. So this is step one, showing life under the water. (Any guesses as to what attraction is coming for the next phase of this idea?)

Next, Star Tours is replaced. It should close as soon as Star Wars Land opens and the new attraction will retain the simulator system. This attraction is in an area that focuses on the future of technology, so I tentatively decided that this attraction shows the future of transportation in the form of an ultra high speed public transport train that gives a tour of the future world of Tomorrowland. The trip take us through first the immediate area of Tomorrowland, expanding the scope of the land, and then high speed jumps across the country and world, showing us what could be the world of Tomorrow, like a version of London where a rocket dwarfs Big Ben. This is a little inspired by the dynamic train trip in the Tomorrowland movie and therefore passes some similar sites.

Last, the 3D theater at the base of Space Mountain is removed and replaced with a better entrance way to Space Mountain, a new attraction, and a new post show area for the two attractions. Anchored by a giant modern 45' rocket (reminiscent of the original one from Tomorrowland), guests enter a new space flight concourse, where they can turn left to enter the existing queue system of Space Mountain, or go straight to enter the new attraction, Mission: Mars. The right leads to the post show from both attractions, which expands into the Starcade.

Mission: Mars is new iteration of the space flight simulator attraction, combing elements of Mission: Space and the original Mission to Mars. The attraction is based in a theater in the round underneath a spherical projection dome, but the theater is not stationary. The attraction uses the Circu-motion system by Falcons Creative or a similar custom system and has two identical theaters. The round theater seating platform is on a full motion base and can rotate and pitch in both directions under the seamless projection dome. The seats also recline to about degrees so that you have a great view looking up into the dome. This motion would allow for some slightly realistic show action to coordinate with the rocket flight and trip through space. Guests launch from the Tomorrowland Spaceport, stop off at a massive Space Station, showing life in space, and then rocket on to Mars and land on the red planet. The spinning motion of the theater during launch would simulate the g forces of launch and flight, and the pitch would be able to simulate some interesting floating through space, disorienting your true gravity. This attraction is heavily inspired by the original space pavilion concept from EPCOT.

The post show from both attractions would be set in a Space Station and feature astronaut games and panoramas looking out to the alien world. Rocket Rods Pizza Port next door is slightly redressed to fit in with the Space Port look and theme.

There is one additional attraction added to Frontierland, but it is not extremely exciting because it is a relocated attraction from California Adventure. Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is removed and the system is moved here and now themed as a gold mining machine-turned-ride.

The next phase continues to add to both of these lands.

Over at California Adventure, the majority of the additions are to clarify the theme.

Last time, I discussed my new structure for the theme of the park. The park is centered on the three Spirits of California: Adventure, Fun, and Creation. Last time, I solidified The Spirit of Adventure with additions to Grizzly Peak National Park. I also added multiple attractions to the Paradise Pier area and defined a subland that celebrates the international identity of the state.

In this phase, more work is done to develop the Spirit of Life section, which runs through the heart of the park. There is also the first big addition to Hollywood in the first Marvel attractions for the resort.

One concept that I developed that adds to the three part theme is that each of the Spirits also has a road that branches off from the circle at Buena Vista Street. Hollywood is already on Hollywood Boulevard, the road of creation. I added a road into Grizzly Peak National Park, which would be labeled as State Route 120 or Tioga Pass, which leads to Yosemite National Park. And naturally the road leading to Paradise Pier is Route 66, which in real life actually ends at the Santa Monica Pier, one of the sources for Paradise Pier. Seemed like a perfect fit.

So the redevelopment during this phase stretches from the Carthay Theater to the entrance to Paradise Pier to create the realistic world of Route 66. Coincidentally, Cars Land is also the world of Route 66, but more fantasy based and less specific to California because the geographic and architectural inspiration is actually more Arizona than California. My strategy is to allow that to be firmly in a future Pixar land in the Spirit of Creation, while this area is firmly real life in the Spirit of Life, creating an easy transition between lands.

The new Route 66 starts with a California desert town, based on Needles CA, the first city on the California section of Route 66 and the hottest city in the country. This area is highlighted by a large train station on the left side of the path. Inside is a Route 66 museum and a train simulator attraction across the hot deserts, through the green forests, and into the busy cities of California. I am not completely set on this, so subject to change. Further along, there are three buildings on three sides on the intersection, which all have retail. They area all traditional small town stores, nothing fancy but reflecting the unique desert town way of life. The street transitions to Cars Land as Route 66 heads into Arizona. Cars Land is intact from Sarge's and on.

The next section of the path is to other end Route 66: a beach town based on Santa Monica and Venice Beach. This replaces Pacific Wharf and the Winery area. Though both of these areas are very well done as they currently are, their geographic jumps do not really make sense in my location strategy. So the right side, the Winery side, is replaced with a beach boardwalk building, which has retail and a second floor high class restaurant. The tide pool basin area is reworked into an artificial sandy beach, set below the boardwalk, with a life guard stand or two, towels, and beach umbrellas.

The Pacific Wharf area becomes a beach side village and Aquarium to incorporate the impact of the ocean on the Californian way of life. The only building that remains is the Ghirardelli building, which has a small retail addition. The main addition is the actual Aquarium building, themed to the finctional Pacific Ocean Aquarium, which has a very small portion of actual aquarium for the queue and entrance and then a new dark ride that uses the Finding Nemo characters to talk about the life and power of the ocean. The Nemo characters would encounter and talk about curious divers and adventurous surfers and more while explaining the significance of the Pacific. Turtle Talk is also relocated here.

Last, and slightly unrelated, that single restroom building across from The Little Mermaid that still looks like a cartoony San Francisco is rethemed to fit as a transition between lands.

The goal is that this area is a little more cohesive extending from Buena Vista Street all the way to Paradise Pier at the back of the park by having a consistent theme and geographic strategy, all showing the challenges, the diversity, the influences, and the fun of Californian Life.

Over in Hollywood Pictures Backlot, there are two changes. First Playhouse Disney is replaced with a large dark ride that is similar to Great Movie Ride but more modern and interactive. In this attraction, guests are discovered in the queue and sent on a trip through the backlot, passing the filming of many famous movies, like Mary Poppins, Indiana Jones, and the Wizard of Oz, before finally attending a big Hollywood premier and becoming a true Star.

The north backlot area, where the Mad Tea Party was is completely replaced with the first Marvel land of the resort. There is alot of thought and strategy here that I want to detail, especially since Marvel in DCA is controversial right now. Also, notice that I am not including the Guardians Tower because I had this plan in development before that announcement.

So Marvel needs to be in the parks as soon as possible. It can't wait until the third gate, and it absolutely should not go in Disneyland, and Hollywood is the only land that it could possibly fit in, so this is where it goes. But it still needs to respect the identity of the the land, which is about Hollywood and about the creation of film, not superheroes. Therefore, I think the best way to incorporate Marvel is to portray it as an active film set on a Hollywood Backlot.

This addition is a film set for the Stark Expo and today they are filming second unit crowd shots at the Expo, allowing us to come into the set. The decision for Stark Expo over other settings is that its futuristic architecture would allow it to obviously look like a set while still looking good, instead of looking incomplete and disappointing. Also, the monorail passing through would fit really well with the theme. My strategy is that the north and east faces of the land are the fully realized sets while the south and west faces would be the supporting studio stages architecture.

The central icon is a reimagining of the Uni-Sphere, with the Monorail passing through it. It sits on a pedestal, with fountains and stairs on the front side and the entrance to the attraction directly behind it. The building is sleek and metallic, and the monorail passes under a canopy across the building. To the left is a copy of the jet pack spinner from Shanghai. The building to the right, which builds on the existing sound stage building has a sweeping organic canopy that builds up to a geometric facade. The building to the south is just a simple studio warehouse building and holds retail and a counter service location. The west building keeps the existing soundstage facade. In the center of the land are four lighting scaffold towers, illuminating the facades with theatrical lighting.

These studio facades need to be highly detailed and filled with props and signage to make it a believable and real life studio. The fault of many studio style parks is that they look too utilitarian and plain, without the kind of life and activity that we imagine a studio having. So propping is important. Camera cranes and lighting towers and boxes of props and costumes are all over.

The main attraction of the land is a large scale multimedia dark ride for the Avengers, who have gathered at the Stark Expo to once again save the world. The attractions uses an EMV attraction system and both physical and projection environments. The attraction in the current 3D theater is a 4D live stunt show, similar to the Terminator show, incorporating film, live actors, and theater effects, but staged as a stunt shoot for the a movie. So a little bit of behind the scenes framing to set up the situation and then a full on sensory live experience of an Avengers battle.

The last attraction in the building on the east side is one of the more ambitious and unusual things I have proposed. This week, I heard an report on the Season Pass Podcast about Ghost Train, a new attraction in Thorpe Park, that uses VR, and many say it is the future of theme parks. I wanted to try to propose something. I think if it could work anywhere, VR could work in this Stark futurism setting.

My idea for this attraction is that this is Tony's personal Iron Man showcase and we are invited to witness a demonstration of his suit technology. The theater is a large in the round room with a small stage in the center. Once seated, the presentation begins and a Iron Man suit and four glass hologram projection screens rise up from the stage. On the hologram screens, we see Tony speaking to us from a control room, talking about his amazing suit technology. The animatonic Iron Man suit then begins to perform for us, showing off its lasers, cannons, and hovering ability. Then Tony says for the finale, he prepared a surprise, a real life battle to test the suit's offensive skills. He tells us that we need to put on our safety glasses just in case of stray scrap metal, prompting us to put on the headset next to our seat. This is the VR headset, themed as large goggles, complete with what looks like glasses on the front. Guests put on the headset and then see the digital recreation of the same scene. The suit takes off from the stage and hovers above us, the ceiling opens up to a large dome, and then dozens of other robotic figures fly in, attacking the suit and indirectly us. Water spray effects and shaking seats add to the experience. The battle ends when Tony calls in the entire Iron Man fleet, who quickly destroy the attack. The suits then all land on platforms on the upper ring of the theater. The theater is partially destroyed during the battle, and the actual set transforms during the VR segment to reflect this as well as revealing the additional Iron Man suits on the wall. When the battle ends, Tony tells us to take off our goggles, we witness the real life results of the battle, and then we exit back to the Stark Expo.

One more cool placemaking idea I have for the exterior land is for there to be hourly staged film shoots. Since the premise is that it is an active set, a second unit director leads a shoot every hour. He appears on one of the scaffolding towers, gives us some direction on how to act like a crowd, and then starts the shot. At this point, the set comes to life with even more theatrical lighting, projection mapping effects on the building to show a huge digital logo and map, and audio announcements for the Expo. Additionally, the last shot of the night, just after sunset, is a larger scale show that also features a few stunt actors staging a small fight on the main building of the land, ending with a blast of low level pyro.

The next phase continues to expand the Hollywood section of the park to the south with Pixar.

Additionally, the third phase is when I target the opening of the third gate for the resort. I will not have that next week for you. That is a much bigger project and will take more time than these phases, so it will come at a later date. For now, we push through with the stages of the main resort. 

Next week, I will try to be back with another discussion post, or at least something for you! I really want to keep to this schedule, even when I have to push back a few days like this. Thanks for understanding and reading!

Leave a comment below if you have any of your own ideas for the Disneyland Resort!