Monday, September 26, 2016

Disneyland Fantasyland Expansion Plan: Frozen Ever After and A Tangled Tale

This post will be hopefully the first of multiple detailed plans based on the Disneyland Resort expansion I just completed.

This time will be the north Fantasyland expansion that I proposed, formed of an Indoor Arendelle area, a Frozen boat ride, and a Tangled trackless dark ride. I'll start with a walk through of the area before we enter the attractions.

The addition begins as a forest path coming from the train bridge underpass, splitting left for Frozen and straight ahead for Tangled. The area also connects to the expansion area replacing the Fantasyland Theater, where the new Peter Pan's Flight is located.

Each of the two attractions have architectural icons that we can see from this path. 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 the Tangled attraction is straight ahead and the queues lead into the rockwork wall and then into an interior simulated exterior forest.

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 Winter Festival of the newly opened city. The train station is also redressed with Arendelle inspired architecture to further tie the area together. It is not removed or replaced, but the exterior architecture is redesigned. The train station remains on the second floor while the ground floor below becomes restrooms and a gift shop that opens to the north side, holding merchandise for both properties.

Guests enter The Kingdom of Arendelle through the cave path and find a small Village facade on the left and the Palace gates on the right, which lead into the square of the Palace. The main Palace facade sits ahead, with fountains frozen into grand spirals on either side. Inside the palace is a meet and greet, which has two identical rooms. The short queue passes through the main entry hall, where a large family portrait hangs at the end of the room, into a side room, the library, and then guests are directed down a hallway to one of two rooms where both sisters are waiting.

The left corner of the square facing the palace is the entrance to the Ice Skating, and a small queue leads to a payment and skate rental desk, and then to a seating area for skaters to get ready. Small lockers are available. They then can skate for a 20-minute shift on the frozen lake in the middle of the icy forest. Occasional snow flurries fall on the skaters, and a Photopass photographer is on the ice to document guests experience.

The north corner of the square has snack carts that sell specialty cold and hot drinks, perfect for the theme, and basic snacks. The south corner has a large retail location, operated by Oaken, which can also be accessed through the tower at the exterior of the land.

In the Village facades across the way is the queue for the main attraction. The queues begin on the north side of the building and gradually slope down before entering the ground floor of the building, which is 5’ below the level of the main pathway. The queues pass through various rooms that are the shops of the city. Fastpass goes directly to the load, Standby goes up a staircase to a second floor extended queue, then back down to load. Handicap guests may use an elevator to go directly to the load platform. By the way, I did not design the upper queue, ran out of time, so it is just a blank room for now.

Guests board the large boat and then float away from the dock and into the Ice Forest, where fake trees twinkle with crystals. We pass the ice skating, and then head into a dark tunnel. We emerge into the Ice Forest and immediately see Olaf on the left, greeting us. This would be similar to the awesome walking figure in the existing ride. The trolls are ahead on the right, telling the story of the sisters, but they are found on both sides of the flume. Then on the left is a look into the dark forest where the glowing eyes of the wolves menace. We make it through however and see Anna on her sleigh on the left, greeting us. We float under an snow covered rock arch and come up upon Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post, where he stands on the porch and offers us his winter sale. In the windows, we see projections of his family in the sauna, waving. We float into the barn and meet Kristoff and Sven, and then emerge into the Crystal Forest, filled with pointed ice spikes and Olaf and Anna pointing our way to visit Elsa.

We turn and enter an Icy gateway, the entrance to Elsa Ice Palace, and then go up hill to the mountain. Above us are ornately carved ice arches. At the top, we turn left to a wall of pointed ice arches looking out over the frozen mountain landscape, just as the song begins. Through a swinging set of doors, we finally make it to Elsa’s Ice Palace. In front of us is a large automated set piece of the palace which actually grows in front of us in time to the music, as Elsa, who we see projected in the balconies, uses her powers. We then float underneath it and the huge ice chandelier above, pulsing with the music. Then we continue out of the tower and under the icy arches and to the next scene, where we see Elsa on her balcony completing the song. Then we exit the palace and finally pass Marshmallow, who pushes us down the mountain. We splash down and pass a giant model of Arendelle, snow fireworks exploding above, like in the existing attraction. Then finally we pass the group of characters once again, waving goodbye. Then unload, up a ramp, and back to the public area of Arendelle. We don't directly exit into a gift shop, but there are two nearby.

I have a scene animation created for the Ice Palace effect that I described above. The video shows 4 repeats of the growth and reset cycle. The effect is formed of multiple layers that slide upward around the central tower. The top crown slides up and the points slide out of it, the balcony slides up and the hand rail grows up from it, the inner pointed arches slide down, the stairs slide up with the balcony, the side wall grows up, and finally the rear window arches slide up in two pieces. Additionally, projections are important to the effect. The front faces of the tower and the side rear walls are projection mapped, so that crystalization textures can be added to emphasize the growth effects. Also, the projections fill in the interior space of the tower, showing the Ice Chandalier growing and Elsa walking around, using her power, and causing the tower to grow. The rear walls show views looking out on the icy mountain. The entire process takes about 15 second, begining when the doors open to enter the room, and ending right as the boat enter the interior of the tower. It then all quickly resets for the next boat. The overhead arches on the north side of the tower attempt to block the view of guests on that side of the track from really noticing this repeated transition.

Now on to Tangled.

The Tangled dark ride entrance is outside in the forest path. The queue goes through a simulated interior forest, like the ET dar ride, next to the castle walls and then gets to the load area, where guests board a trackless carriage. The 4 carriages then pass through an open door in the stone wall and into the first scene, where they circle around a platform. Rapunzel and Flynn are at the center, welcoming us to the Festival of Lights, where she will be retelling the story of the lost princess. This is my strategy to somewhat get around some of the problems of the book report dark ride. Because this is a retelling, there is license to summarize and leave out plot elements because Rapunzel is telling a new version of this story. The image below is a rough massing perspective to show the character of the scene.

We then move backwards and turn to a tunnel of projection surfaces on either side, where Rapunzel's paintings come to life with her narration. These are used to summarize and transition between scenes, allowing for quick but logical transitions between the major spaces. In these paintings, she tells us of how she came to be in the tower, and then we enter the tower itself, a large and tall circular set, where she sings “When Will My Life Begin”. We continue through the curtained portal and into scenes of “Mother Knows Best” and Rapunzel interrogating Flynn, all of which technically take place in the same room. The car rotates and shifts as it transitions to hopefully confuse and obscure where we are really going. The first of these scenes shows the dark room, with just Gothel and the Mirror, instructing the seated Rapunzel. The interrogation scene shows Flynn tied up and Rapunzel with her frying pan, agreeing to leave the tower.

Then we leave the tower and transition past paintings showing the descent from the tower. We processed into the forest, where the track splits through the woods, and passes Flynn complaining about his wanted poster, stuck on a tree. Rapunzel frolicks in the distance, in projected form. We then move into the Snuggly Duckling for the largest scene of the ride. The track again splits around a large center table where Rapunzel is standing and singing. In the corner is the Piano Playing Thug, who trades verses with Rapunzel. The highly detailed room is filled with figures singing along, including Flynn pinned to a post. The Cupid thug rotates on a wire above us as well.

Then we move under the balcony to a side room, where we see Maximus and a Guard searching for Flynn, but they have escapes out of the trapdoor by the bar to the side of the room. Mother Gothel peeks through a window to the side. We turn backwards into a transition painting room, where Rapunzel summarizes her journey into the Kingdom walls. This is themost effective use of the transition paintings, because it cuts out a solid 20-30 minutes of less important plot. Then we move into the large scene of the Lanterns on the water. We make a full revolution around the-central boat, surrounding by gently bobbing lanterns, supplemented with projections and mirrors to extend the view. We leave this room through a large swinging door and pass a view into the woods, where Mother Gothel consoles Rapunzel as Flynn sails away in a silhouetted projection through the trees.

We continue back into the tower, and circle around Rapunzel in the center, just at the moment she realizes she is the lost princess. The paintings on the tower walls and ceiling come to life just like in the film with fiber optic and projection effects. The cars move on to a series of small scenes completing the story. First, we see Gothel stabbing Flynn, just in front of the tower window, then a scene of Flynn cutting Rapunzel's hair, and then Rapunzel healing Flynn in a cloud of light. The middle scene uses an update of an old school effect to show Gothel ageing. The figure stands by the mirror, and when the hair is cut, she turns to face the mirror, but we actually see a duplicate aged figure simultaneously turning into view. The ride concludes with another storytelling scene, where Rapunzel completes her story with a happily ever after and everyone says goodbye. The cars then move back out to unload, and guests exit back out into the forest path of Fantasyland, passing a retail cart and eventually seeing the retail ahead under the train station.

This is probably the largest detail plan area I am going to develop, but I want to design many of the smaller additions I proposed. Are there any specific attractions or lands you want to see more detail on?

Thanks for reading and leave a comment!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Third Gate Progress: The Site

This second update post about my Disneyland Resort Third Gate design process is going to give a little information about the site and its limitations.

The obvious third gate site is the current Toy Story Parking Lot and Cast Member Parking Lot located here, which sits in the block bordered by Katella Ave, Oceanwood Ave, Harbor Blvd, and Haster St.

This has been discussed as the third gate site for years, even Disney has publicly advertised this as the third gate location. They even had a domain advertising it and thanks to the Wayback Machine, we can still see it here. Their map at the bottom confirms this as the site.

They are already making moves to replace the parking here, which leads me to believe this site is still in the long term plans. The new transportation hub begins to replace the guests spots, and they have already have land to build an additional cast parking deck off site.

So this site will work. The only problem is that it is rather small compared to the two existing parks. My calculation for Disney plus its backstage areas is about 126 acres, California Adventure is 80 acres, and this site is about 73 acres. But since California Adventure shares a lot of entrance and backstage facilities that will have to be recreated at this new site, there really is a significant difference between the sizes of the parks.

But interestingly, I have seen information online that suggest that Disney owns more land around this lot than we actually know. I am referencing a post on WDWMagic by a knowledgeable member (Additional land owned by Disney in Anaheim?) that claims that Disney potentially owns multiple of the apartment complex lots surrounding their parking lot, held through anonymous third party companies. This could make a big difference.

However, that same poster suggests that there might be issues with the city that could make this lot problematic in another post (Predicting DLR in the decades to come), saying that the city has eyes on extending Gene Autry Way through the Disney owned property, potentially using eminent domain to destroy the chances of a third park. There is even an official City of Anaheim planning document that shows the road extended right through the parking lot. So that could be an issue.

My decision of how to develop the land takes into account both of these factors.

I have decided to hypothetically play nice with the city and develop a third gate theme park over and around a newly extended road, crossing the site. To me, this seems well in the scope of Disney's planning and design skill, especially if they build the road themselves in an integrated construction process, instead of hypothetically building over an already existing road.

My plan is that they build the road so that it steps down below ground level and sits in an open trench between the two halves of the park with a few large and well themed pedestrian bridges crossing the opening. These pedestrian pathways would be wide enough and disguised with architecture and theming so that guests cant even tell they are crossing traffic. Showbuildings and backstage areas would back up to the open trench in all other areas. Guests would absolutely not be able to see the traffic from the bridges and I am sure that efforts could be made to reduce sound. This is basically the same idea as the current backstage tunnel under the esplanade area, but wider and more open. Security would be the only real issue left that I can't address, so I will just have to ignore than concern for the sake of a conceptual design plan.

With this addition of the road through the site, the apartment complexes on the east side will be removed, either because Disney already owns them, or by eminent domain from the city, which would then be given to Disney in exchange for the construction of the road. That adds another 18 acres to the site. Pretty good sized addition.

I decided to make those the only apartment sites I take for the park because I didn't want to be too ambitious, and my investigations lead me to believe that Disney doesn't own the ones on the south side of the block. The south three complexes all appear to be managed by large multi property companies while the three on the east seem to be individually managed or their ownership is unclear. I doubt that if Disney owned them through a third party, that third party would be a huge multi-state company. It would be a small anonymous management group that they can control. But I will plan to consider this area as potential future expansion.

Additionally, I decided that Disney would purchase the small hotel and Avis on the north east corner of the site, just to control more unified land.

So now that is a site that is sized for a theme park and supporting facilities. And here is the site and my diagramming, plus a start at the layout. In my drawing, the open build able land, not including the road, is 86 acres and the bridges would take up about another acre. The road trench takes up the remaining 4 acres. Perfect.

I have not begun to formally plan the site, but I have started to think about it diagrammatically. In my estimation, the site will need to hold 5 elements: the theme park, a backstage facility area, an entrance facility area, a parking deck, and a hotel. It seems natural for the entrance, parking, and hotel to go on the north side and the backstage to likely go on the south side. Plus, in my transportation phases, I suggested a PeopleMover to connect my version of the transportation deck and this park, so that terminates at the north side of the lot, likely inside the parking deck.

Last, I started to think about the layout of the park, and decided to stick with the classic hub and spoke, possibly with a more defined exterior ring path connecting the lands. I have shown the start of that diagram on the site, which shows how the road dividing the site could work. This layout would basically use 6 bridges over the road (2 backstage on the west and east, and 4 in the park). I think this could work, and this is how I am going to start laying out the park.

I am in the process now of formulating an attraction line up and trying to resolve that with the site. This may take a little bit of time, but I will be back with an update on it eventually. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Disneyland Resort Wrap Up

So yesterday, I gave you the last part of my plan for the existing Disneyland Resort expansion.

Today is a recap and my personal analysis of my results. I would love to hear your opinion in the comments too.

So first, the recap of the plans.

I know that because I split all the work between 4 phases, each phase was a little lighter on content than you are used my opinion each phase was still more than is probably realistic for the real life development of the parks, at least at the pace they have been at for the last few years. But now that it is all done, I present the park plans to you with all the changes noted, as if it was all to happen at once, like my previous plans.

Presented this way, it really is alot of change happening to the two parks.

Disneyland majorly renovates or replaces 8 rides, adds 10 brand new attractions, 1 restaurant, and makes significant changes to 3 lands.

Disney's California Adventure gets an all new theme and organization that defines the experience of the lands, adds 19 new attractions, 4 restaurants, renovates basically every land, and  adds 3 completely new themed areas.

If you break it down on a Ticket scale, based on my personal value judgement, Disneyland gets 6 E and D Tickets and 11 C and B tickets. And California Adventure gets 8 E and D Tickets, and 11 C and B Tickets. Both pretty balanced.

A lot of change in a relatively small and already built out resort.

I also have the additions diagrammed by the phases, which I think is really interesting to look at. Red is Phase 1, Orange is 2, Light Blue is 3, Dark Blue is 4.

There's some interesting geographical organization that was not entirely intentional but makes sense.

It is much harder to close down large potions of Disneyland for renovation, so the phases and projects jump around to keep a whole land from closing down. It also spreads the capacity around the existing park.

The phases at California Adventure on the other hand are focused on completely renovating a specific land, which is necessary because in nearly every case, the exterior land is heavily renovated. So it makes sense to rework a whole land at a time to fit the new structure. Plus, the last two phase focus on expanding into new land, so makes sense for it to all happen at once.

As for the analysis of the results, there is one clear fault that I fought with the whole time but I think many successes.

The problem I discovered is just how improbable it is to claim the ability to predict what would be built a whole 20 years from now. I found it comical to be proposing an Incredibles attraction to be built in 2035, or 31 years after the movie came out. It is easy to give a list of Disney films right now that should go in the parks, but hard to know if those same films have the longevity to be built long term. Its even more challenging to know that there will definitely be many films in the next 15-20 years that are popular enough to go in the parks, maybe even a dozen or two based on their recent success. Facing this challenge makes me understand why some times we wait years for attractions, or never see an attraction for a specific popular movie. Investing resources but most importantly real estate to a new attraction requires faith that it is going to be popular and worthwhile.

So that fault caused a little bit of second guessing and alot of acceptance of the fact that this plan really isn't that realistic in that regard.

Additionally, I never managed to fit in a a few of my original goals.

First, I had originally thought that I could fit at least one more dark ride into Fantasyland and had some thoughts about that, but that didn't work out. I decided to go large on the relocated Peter Pan to justify the move instead of trying to fit one more attraction.

Second, it slightly disappoints me that I didnt really touch the left side of Disneyland at all. Thats because there is not alot of room and the existing attractions are all pretty great. I see now that I could have done a lot to Critter Country, but I just completely ignored it. Its the forgotten land. In real life too. Spent 4 days at Disneyland and never made it into Critter Country.

And last, the big planning move that I tried very hard to implement was a bridge and underpass in Fantasyland, at the parade route, so that guest traffic flow could continue under the parade. This was the most unpleasent, crowded, and likely dangerous place in the parks in my experience, as guests pile into the narrow path by the Tea Cups, waiting to cross the route. I worked on this for days, but the space just isn't there.

Still, even with these faults that I can see, I think I was relatively successful at implementing the main goals. Adding capacity to both parks, adding more Disney films represented, adding more variety of themed environments, and adding a real theme and organization to California Adventure.

Personally, I think my additions to Disneyland are good and in the spirit of the park, but I am more proud of my proposals for California Adventure. The theme and organization was a tough challenge to crack, but I am happy with my result.

Plus, I have some favorite attraction concepts in these two parks. I really like my development of Tomorrowland and the northern expansion for Fantasyland at Disneyland. And frankly, just about everything at California Adventure. I will definitely be revisiting many of these attractions soon.

So now that I have shared my thoughts, what do you think?

What attraction or land is your favorite that you want to see more?

What would you have done differently in your plan for the parks?

What do you want to see next, from this park or any park I have designed before?

Thanks for reading, and I would love to respond to your comments, so leave one below!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Disneyland Resort Phased Expansion Plan Part 8 - Phase 4 of the Parks

This post presents the fourth and final phase of expansion for the Disneyland Resort.

It's a relatively small phase, because in the overall plan, the 3rd gate is now open and would be getting its first big additions during this phase. The original two parks are mostly built out and the focus has moved on. But I've still got a few ideas.

For Disneyland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland are finally completed.

Tomorrowland gets its last attraction in the Carousel building. Horizons: Living in the Future is a modern reimagining of the original and completes the mature, scientific, and optimistic tone of the land. The attraction is a multilevel suspended dark ride that follows a trip across the universe, starting in a futuristic earth society, traveling to a space station, and then through the stars to visit an outpost on an alien planet. The structure of the plot is that we follow members of an extended family as we jump from location to location (calling back a little to the single family idea of Carousel of Progress).

The PeopleMover also finally returns in this phase, now that the track has been adjusted in the previous phase. It loads and unloads in the second floor of the SpacePort area, or the Starcade. It follows the old path from here, but includes passing through the new showscene built for the Autopia.

Fantasyland fills the final expansion plot opened up by the rerouting of the Autopia and the Monorail and also replaces Peter Pan's Flight with a new dark ride.

To replace Peter Pan, which moved to a new larger showbuilding, there is a new Cinderella dark ride. My reasoning for this is that it is one of the very few classic films that has no representation, but it is also is not a huge story that would need a huge attraction, which is important because this is such a small space. The dark ride would be a very traditional small scale ride through the events of the film.

On the east side of Fantasyland, the new land is filled with two attractions: a new theater for Fantasyland, and a Mary Poppins dark ride.

First, the theater. This might be an unexpected move, but I really like the idea and the implementation of high quality Fantasyland shows. The current Mickey and the Magical Map and its sister shows in Paris and Hong Kong are impressive quality for a theme park, add some diversity of experience to a ride heavy park and land, and allow for even more films and properties to be represented in the park. Those are all pluses for me. The downside of theater's in the parks is their capacity, because at most they serve maybe a third of the guests that an attraction would. But I don't think that is a problem in a park so full of rides and capacity.

This specific theater is a copy of the theater in Disney Studios Paris, so I know that it is of sufficient size for a good quality show. The exterior theming is similar to Small World, creating a defined area with the colorful geometric style.

Next to this theater is a dark ride for Mary Poppins. So I know that last week I mentioned that Mary Poppins would go in the 3rd gate, but the situation of the site forced my decision. Originally, this was going to be an attraction for Gigantic. But I quickly found two issues. First, I thought that Gigantic was Western Europe in setting, so would fit Fantasyland well. I was wrong, it is set in Spain, which has totally different architectural possibilities. Second, the Monorail has to travel over the showbuilding for this attraction, and it is pretty low, so it will have to limit the height of some scenes. That limitation didn't make sense for a story about literal giants. So the switch was made, and this became Mary Poppins.

This attraction would be similar to the one I proposed for Magic Kingdom and would be based on a Carousel ride vehicle that unravels and passes through a series of musical scenes. In this case, it is actually able to load and unload under an outdoor Victorian Garden Carousel canopy. The carousel then passes through a tunnel and into the magical park, where we first meet Mary and Bert in a shorter scene under the Monorail track. Then into the larger and higher portion of the building, built inside the loop of the track, where the main show scenes occur.

That completes Disneyland, or at least for now.

Over at Disney's California Adventure, there are only two more additions.

First, in Hollywood, the Animation Tour building is replaced with a huge trackless dark ride about Mickey and his journey through Disney animation. Basically Philharmagic as an attraction. This is a huge building, so could make a great ride while maintaining the retail that fronts the street. I know that a trackless Mickey ride is rumored and probably coming soon, and I think this would be a cool concept.

Last, Pixar Studios is completed with the area based on the Incredibles. Placed at the end of the two streets in the subland is the downtown square of Metroville. To the left is the city hall, a classically Greek Revival building, but the real icon is at the center, where the recently downed Omnidroid sits crashed in a small pond, occasionally smoking. We have entered the city just after the events of the first movie, on the day that the family is being celebrated with a ceremony in City Hall, which we are attending. But before the ceremony, the Incredibles are called into action and we are invited to join them for the day.

I have previously developed this attraction as a trackless dark ride, but since I just put that in for the Mickey ride, I wanted to try something different. Therefore, I decided to call back to one of the original Incredibles concepts, a Kuka dark ride. I thought that would bring some variety to the experiences of the park and create cool possibilites for this story. We can fly through the city, be lifted in the air by Mr. Incredible, caught by Mrs. Incredible, run with Dash, and float with Violet.

The Incredibles are called into battle when the Underminer and Bomb Voyage team up to take down the city. It all escalates however when they find out that a second Omnidroid is headed to the city, sent by Syndrome as an insurance policy.

The exterior of the land is completed with some additional retail, and the Incredibles family would meet out in front of the downed Omnidroid.

And that's it for California Adventure, which I hope I made a more cohesive park with the addition of the ideological structure.

But of course this is not the end.

First, tomorrow (hopefully) I will be back with a part two to this, a recap and analysis of the changes I proposed for the resort. This is going to be very interesting for me and I hope you because this was developed in real time. I had no idea what the next phase would bring each week, so I now want to look back and evaluate what I designed.

And then the third gate is still in progress. I will be trying to give occasional updates about that as we go until the final plan is done later this year.

In the mean time, I am going to start developing a few of the the attractions I proposed in this plan in more detail. That means full attraction plans and designs, maybe some elevations and perspectives, maybe even some more videos!

Let me know in the comments below what attractions you want to see more about soon!