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!


  1. Really great overall, and I like having an improved more modern take on a version of the Great Movie Ride in Lights, Camera, Hollywood. I also really like what your doing so far in Tommorowland (by the way, I'm assuming that Star Wars Land will have it's own version of Star Tours either already added along with the land or eventually in a future phase).

    By the way I frickin love those NASA posters, so adorable! Anyways, while I do really like the Frozen/Tangled area, though I am wondering if the fireworks could not simply be moved farther back in order to not risk fires like you mentioned. Anyways some of the stuff here, which admittedly I almost kind of want to see another update of your Magic Kingdom plans and DHS plans in a year or two down the road to see some of these great changes incorporated, like the New Star Wars Land, your new Tommorowland, Frozen Ever After(perhaps in an even larger New Fantasyland), and this new version of the Great Movie Ride which sounds interesting.

    Anyways, I'm admittedly quite curious to see what you'll do for the third park. I suppose you could do WestCot, which was the original idea for the Disneyland second gate, or you could do some new and original. Ideal Buildout had some pretty interesting concepts in his Third Park idea would if done right could work very well, like a Tim Burton Nightmare before Christmas land if I remember correctly and a Greco-Roman-Atlantis land which I thought was great. Personally though, if I had to say my own idea for a third park, I like the idea of maybe combining Epcot and Animal Kingdom somehow.

    Anyways great job!

    P.S.: I'm not sure how much of it is true, but apparently Disney partially own the Percy Jackson series, which I thought was interesting. Even though Fox own the film rights, Disney owns Hyperion Books which distributes Percy Jackson and alongside Rick Rordian, owns the book rights I believe. I could be wrong, but if Fox don't make another movie, the rights will go back to Hyperion and through them Disney. I thought that was interesting as it means the potential for one day for Disney to reboot the series(though I did hear some interesting rumors that a TV Series on the CW might end up getting made well before that). If you ever take this park expansion concept and figuratively take it it all the way to the 2050's, and you need an expansion idea, well debateably that might be a good idea for a future IP Disney might end up owning.

    1. Thanks.

      I don't really think they will build a relocated Star Tours, but rumor is that the Millennium Falcon ride will be a comparable simulator flight experience, so I think Star Tours will be redundant. I fear that they will just leave it in Tomorrowland anyway.

      Realistically, probably both the fireworks moving and the Toontown replacement being majority indoors will happen. Just to ensure that they loose no capacity.

      I really do need to do a new version of the WDW parks, but I fear that there would be so few changes that readers would not be interested. I may do it anyway eventually. More likely than doing realistic ideal expansion plans to the current parks will be alternate reality plans, with my own version of past developments, like a different Fantasyland expansion.

      My third gate development plans are rough now, with really just lists of potential properties and themed environments that the current resort is missing. I am trying to be realistic with what the company would actually require, so I am anticipating that IPs will be a huge factor. Now to work with the development of theme and organization that will tie it all together.

    2. Personally I really like Star Tours, so I'd think it'd be a really big shame to not include it. You've actually got some good space for it two, between the Millennium Falcon and Frozen Ever After. It'd just feel like a shame to lose that ride completely.

      I do like the idea of doing alternate reality plans(I'd admittedly would still like to see a concept of Beastly Kingdom) however. I'm actually wondering if an alternate and larger expanded version of New Fantasyland added on your Magic Kingdom plan could work, one which also has a path connection between it and your 'The Great Western Stagecouch Adventure Ride' and New Orleans Square area.

      I've actually been thinking about this for a while while looking at your plan, how to fit Forzen Forever After to it. My idea was instead of removing New Fantasyland, to instead some move It's a Small World's location a bit, by moving it north and curve it a bit, to have much of the building in back of Be Our Guest. It's hard to describe(perhaps I'll show you a drawing). But there'd be a bit of a curved path, with a moved it's a Small World, a Frozen Ever After ride, and maybe room for another smaller ride in the left side of where It's a Small World currently is.

      I think's maybe though it'd best if I just emailed you a picture of the idea.

    3. Okay so after doing a rough idea outline for the last five minutes of my idea for a new fantasyland additon based on my earlier statement. Here's what I got, though apologizes for drawing on your old MK plan, but there was noting I could really do as I was kind of rushing this a bit.

      Anyways: and

      Like I said it's a basically a very rough idea of how I think it'd could be done without completely tearing down New Fantasyland. More could of course be done and added, but it was my idea, plus it also adds as a nice extra pathway into the Great Western Stagecouch Adventure Ride. Speaking of which, I also made one other change(this one was a while back and is a lot more polished, but basically I tried to connect the Stagecouch Ride to the rest of Frontierland by adding another path that goes underneath Big Thunder Mountian, like a mining cavern almost.

      It's here if you want to see: