Wednesday, April 11, 2018

If I Were Disney CEO Part 2 - Disneyland


Disneyland will never be completed.  It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.
- Walt Disney - 

This is it.  The crown jewel of parks and resorts.  The original.  The Happiest Place on Earth.   

Disneyland.

Truly, in many ways, this park is near perfect.  There are some areas that could be better utilized and there are sections that definitely need updating, but in terms of design, it is a masterpiece and a master class in themed spaces.

It’s transportive.  It’s quaint.  It contains layers and layers of details that are so easily absorbed and overlooked.  The scale is so down to a fine art, that it is easy to see when new additions ignore the set rules.

You can feel Walt’s influence when you are here.  You can see the light on in his apartment over the fire station and tour it through the backstage tours.  You can ride so many of the attractions that he personally selected for the park.

Because of this, there are large sections of the park that will only need to be maintained and “plussed.” “Plussing” is a Walt-era idea used to refer to periodic enhancements and additions to existing attractions to keep people coming back to re-experience the attraction.  An example would be adding a new animal animatronic gag to the Jungle Cruise.  This plussing will continue in the areas that are not discussed as normal.  There are, however, two sections of the park that will be heavily re-worked, in order to achieve greater utilization.

Primary Goals:
  •  Since Disneyland is a mature park, nearly all expansion pads are used.  The ones that remain either are very small or require a substantial re-working of backstage areas.  Because of this, optimum utilization of existing park space is a priority.
  • With the crowd levels that the park is experiencing throughout the year and with an annual passholder base around one million, another priority is increasing park flow capacity.  By this, I mean increasing the number and surface area of pathways that guests can used to move around the park, hopefully to alleviate some of the crushing congestion the park can experience.
  • Judiciously increase the number of park attractions.  This will be an unpopular opinion, but once Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens, Disneyland does not need any more new “E” tickets.  The letter ticket system for ride identification is used to describe size and scope of the attraction.  It’s a carryover from the days where the gate admission cost to enter the park as a whole was low, but each attraction had its own individual ticket cost.  “A” ticket attractions were the cheapest and simplest.  Something like the horse-drawn trolley ride on Main Street or King Arthur’s Carousel.  “E” tickets were the biggest and most expensive attractions, like Pirates of the Caribbean.  Disneyland has reached a point where “E” tickets present diminishing returns.  The park itself is not well equipped to handle an additional influx of people that a new, additional “E” ticket would bring.  What are needed are diversion level attractions.  “B” and “C” level attractions.  Maybe a new “D” attraction.  Something to pull existing people in the park away from the “E” ticket items, or to fill out existing customer’s days in the park, but not something that would necessarily pull in a lot of new customers.  We can re-work old “E” tickets to freshen or replace them, but any new “E” tickets should go across the parking lot to pull people out of Disneyland proper.
With these goals in mind, I’ll walk through each land in the park and discuss the updates.  I'll be walking through the park clockwise from Main Street, heading through Adventureland first and working around to Tomorrowland.  This is generally the approach we take in visiting the park, so it makes the most sense to me to approach it this way in addressing the parks needs and changes.


Main Street:
Disneyland’s main street is modeled after Marceline, Missouri circa the turn of the century.  Compared to other Main Streets, it is quainter and cozier.  A little homier.  It has not quite yet turned into the street-long, single store that has plagued other versions.  There are more distinct, individual shops with a lot more nooks and crannies to discover.

I would largely leave Main Street itself alone.  I love the current attraction line up.  Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln continues to impress.  The Main Street vehicles provide kinetics and life to the land.  The only thing I would change is a small nit-pick – I would add benching to the Main Street Cinema.  A flat, upholstered benching option, which could be sat on from either side, in front of each screen.  It adds a place to rest in the air conditioning and creates a tiered viewing approach, with a portion that can sit and others that can stand behind and see the screens.

My primary focus for Main Street is expansion. In the interest of alleviating congestion on Main Street and adding new path ways and diversions for guests to assist in overall park capacity, the guest access pathway to the east of Main Street needs to become a permanent pathway and expansion.  This area has long been earmarked for a potential expansion area including Liberty Street, Edison Square, Chinatown, and Hollywoodland.  

Main Street bypass and backstage area

The current temporary bypass pathway is highlighted in red above.  The potential expansion area is highlighted in yellow.

Given the current backstage status of this expansion area, this is going to be the one of the most complicated and complex conversions that I will propose.  Any finished area still has to contain a temporary parade storage area that can be utilized between parade performances, allowing the parade to remain in this area once the first parade finishes and to leave from this area to return to its primary storage area through the second parade.  This area also needs to contain a fire lane and to allow access to the main street shops for both cast members and merchandise/food deliveries.
With these limitations in mind, I propose the following solution.
  
Likely, the most easily implemented solution is to convert the bypass into a fully-covered, continuously open arcade, ala Disneyland Paris.  In Disneyland Paris, along the back of both sides of Main Street, there are fully-covered, interior walkways that stretch the length of Main Street and allow someone to traverse from town plaza to the hub without navigating through the stores or walking down the center of Main Street itself.  The ones in Paris are more fully integrated with the shops on Main Street so that there are access points or a back entrance into the shops and are definitely more of a straight shot along the backside, but they can provide us inspiration.
Arcade at Disneyland Paris
As you can see, it is essentially a grand open hallway.  There are window displays, murals, and dioramas.  Tables for seating to create an almost café atmosphere.  An inviting place to walk-through and explore.

In doing so, we will cover the walkway identified in red above (and below) fully.  The space immediately to the right as you enter (indicated in the first, labeled, orange box below) becomes space for a Meet & Greet with Mickey Mouse.  This is our primary draw to the new space, relocating the M&G from Toontown to here in Main Street.  The longer, narrower orange box below, becomes a section that can be expanded to provide window boxes and a potential diorama to view as you walk by.  This part becomes the section to explore and linger in.  Finally the angled section leading to the hub provides prime wall space for a mural or paintings.  Again, a detail to be savored if desired.

Proposed solution for expansion
This accomplishes our goals of providing a new, permanent guest access path to assist with park flow capacity, while at the same time creating something that is mild draw in and of itself.


The Hub:
The Hub refers to that area in Disneyland (and other castle parks) between the end of Main Street and the Castle.  It’s not really in any one land, but serves at the gateway to them all.  In Disneyland, the Hub also serves as the home for a lot of great food and entertainment options.  The Jolly Holiday Bakery, the Fantasy Faire with Royal Theatre, and the Plaza Inn are all great options. 

The primary concerns in this space are Pixie Hollow, as it is a large space underutilized as a meet and greet, and the Astro Orbitors at the entrance of Tomorrowland, as they cause congestion and belong in a better location.  The rocks at that entrance and the Astro Orbitor will both be discussed in the Tomorrowland section.  So our focus here will be on changes to the Pixie Hollow area.

For reference, the Pixie Hollow area is highlighted below in purple.

Proposed area for Alpine Garden Pavilion

This area has housed several different things in the history of Disneyland.  The Monsanto House of the Future, Alpine Gardens, and Ariel's Grotto.  Beyond the House of the Future, these were largely open spaces, with a souvenir and maybe a meet and greet.  There was a proposal in the past to turn this section into a fairly large restaurant, though the design would match Tomorrowland.  I'd keep the restaurant part, but focus on a different theme.

My goal with this space is to build the Alpine Garden Pavilion, containing a "biergarten" restaurant, with a stage for Polka music and other acts.  With Alpine/Bavarian architecture and design to compliment the Matterhorn in the background and similarly appropriate menu, the space would become an anchor restaurant for the area and a to be discussed new sub-land.  This use would increase restaurant and entertainment capacity, while adding a bit of visual cohesion.  The hub would now be anchored by four food and entertainment spaces.

From a purely crass commercial angle, the area also occupies prime real estate on the parade route, providing the opportunity for parade reservations and viewing/dining packages.  A cross-departmental win-win.


Adventureland:
Adventureland in Disneyland is a remarkable land, that is currently undergoing changes that are going to positively impact the future of the land.  Prior to their announcement, the removal of the benches and relocation of stroller parking to provide greater ease in navigating through the land and the restoration of Aladdin's Oasis to an open food and beverage location in Tropical Hideaway are the exact type of changes I would have made.

To distinguish Disneyland's Adventureland from other castle parks, the key component that solidifies the land is the Indiana Jones Adventure ride.  The addition of Indiana Jones and the changes it brought, pulled this Adventureland squarely into a pulp-Adventureland.  The Tiki Birds, Jungle Cruise, Indiana Jones, and Tarzan's Treehouse can all fit under this umbrella.  Accordingly, all additions and changes should be analyzed under this pulp framework.

Adventureland is currently built to capacity.  Especially with Tropical Hideaway bringing that space back online, all available space in Adventureland is currently being used (or will be utilized in the short term future).

I can only recommend two changes to this section of the park for the future.  One is purely aesthetic related and one is operational.

For the aesthetic change, I would remove a few props from Tarzan's Treehouse.  As stated above Tarzan definitely fits in a pulp Adventureland - he is a pulp hero.  The problem here is in execution.  In addition to the appropriate decorations to populate the treehouse, they have installed static figures of the cartoon characters in the treehouse, moving you from walking through Tarzan's actual treehouse to now walking through a diorama of Tarzan's story.  I would remove all of the static cartoon figures and leave the space appropriately decorated.  This is the same approach that is taken in the Swiss Family Robinson treehouses, which still works perfectly.  This is a very easy solution.

The operational change is a little trickier and relates to Pirates of the Caribbean.  I know that Pirates in Disneyland is in New Orleans Square, but the operational impact of this change will be felt in Adventureland, so we will discuss it here.

Currently, when the Pirates queue starts to fill up, it goes out of the Pirates gates, wraps into New Orleans Square, heading down to Haunted Mansion (the line in red below).  This becomes very problematic even now, as it creates a great amount of congestion in an already tight space.  It can block guests from the alleys of New Orleans Square, forcing them to walk all the way around the queue, backtracking to where they want to go.  And can sometimes run into the Haunted Mansion overflow queue on its worst days.  This will be extremely problematic when Star Wars: Galaxies Edge opens, as it will be eating into space that will likely be used to queue people getting into the new land, further congesting an already tight area.

Current and propose routes for Pirates overflow queue

The proposal instead, would be to wrap the queue along the east side of the Pirates building, by Tarzan's treehouse, towards Indiana Jones.  I know this will impact the Indiana Jones queue, but given the upcoming concerns of Star Wars: Galaxies Edge, it is imperative at this point.


Frontierland:
Frontierland is another land in this park that is at full build out and at nearly complete utilization.  In discussing Frontierland, I'm going to be covering Frontierland proper, New Orleans Square, and Critter Country.  Though they are labeled as individual lands, they are tied together in theme and place, part of an exploration of America's past and westward expansion.  And given these three separate but connected lands that are not in the other castle parks, this area of Disneyland will always have a unique feel.

Again, with Frontierland, we have just a few issues to address.  First a resurrection, second a replacement (for a moving attraction), and third a possible addition.

For the resurrection, I feel it is necessary to bring back the Golden Horseshoe Revue.  The Golden Horseshoe is woefully under-utilized ever since the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies run ended.  I know they have tried a couple of different options, including a Salute to the Revue, but the saloon needs a saloon show.  This should be a draw instead of a diversion, and the revue is a draw.  It's listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running musical with 39,000 performances.  It has music, dancing, and comedy, and belongs on that stage.  The show will be ever so slightly tweaked to update it, but it's past time for this resurrection.

For the removal, we are going to move Winnie the Pooh out of critter country (don't worry, I'm just moving it).  The little English bear does not belong in an area themed to the American South, and it's time to put the critters back in this location.  In it's place, I want to put a ride that is a little faster, a little more adventurous, while still keeping a all-ages, all-height dark ride.  The properties that fit have not been used in a Disney cartoon or film, but I'm envisioning something along the lines of an anthropomorphized Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn.  This space used to be the Country Bear Jamboree and had plans for a Mark Twain show in a similar theater.  If there was a way to put the ride and a theater with an anthropomorphized Mark Twain Tonight (ala Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln), I would seek to do both.  To really fill out this little land with great American Southern stories and story-tellers critter style.
Locations for replacement for Winnie the Pooh and new attraction


With the addition of Galaxy's Edge and the completion of a path that allows travel all around the river (through the expansion), the area in purple above opens up as a potential expansion.  It's not big and I do not want to greatly impact the Hungry Bear operation, but could imagine adding in a small form attraction (spinner, whip ride, etc. - flat ride) to round out the Critter Country attraction count and provide a kinetic visual on the path to Galaxy's Edge.  Here, I think something like the Dancing Pavilion ride would be a great (http://www.gerstlauer-rides.de/products/flat-rides/dancing-pavilion-en-US/).  It's essentially a carousel that runs on a titled access, making it look like the entire carousel is bouncing around.  I'm imagining a carousel playing bluegrass music that's getting a little carried away and "bouncing" to the beat.  Small footprint, with great visuals, both while on the ride and off.  A perfect little addition to round out the land.  And if possible, I would have a pathway to it both coming from the river and between Hungry Bear and the old Winnie the Pooh/new Tom & Huck ride.


Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge:
I have nothing to add here, other than to say I am very excited to see how this turns out.


Fantasyland:
With Fantasyland, we enter one of the sections of the park with the most possibility for expansion.  For purposes of this discussion, both Fantasyland and Toontown will be covered here, as they have similar issues and solutions.  In Fantasyland proper, the Fantasyland theater takes up a large amount of real estate that is under-utilized and can has great potential for a renovation into a space with a great amount of new guest walkways and attractions.  Toontown is again an under-utilized space that is currently a dead-end cul-de-sac required to close early due to fireworks fallout.  Again it has great potential to be renovated into a space that can maintain usage throughout operation of the park.

First, Walt's imprint on Fantasyland imparts its unique identity in terms of other castle parks and should be strengthened.  While Fantasyland has been expanded upon, it reflects a European village in a hodgepodge of styles, each reflecting the country of origin of the story in the attraction.  Further, the films reflected in this Fantasyland are from the initial Walt era.  Accordingly, we will continue in that motif, focusing on additions from Walt's lifetime and continuing the European fairytale content.

Further, with our stated goals, adding a singular film franchise with a large e-ticket would be counterproductive.  The rumored expansion to add either Frozen or Beauty and the Beast each with a large e-ticket eating into the expansion would actually run completely counter to the needs of the park.  Accordingly, we will look to fill out Fantasyland with what it already has - several flat and dark rides, focusing on charm and whimsy, running from B-C tickets.

Within the current Fantasyland, the only change that would be made is to remove the temporary Red Rose Tavern decor from the Village Haus Restaurant, restoring it back to a Walt-era film inspiration.  I would also continue the revitalization of the current dark rides with the implementation of projection mapping.  Alice, for instance, looks amazing with this technology.

This brings us to the Fantasyland Theater and adjustments to the Storybookland Canal Boats.

Envisioned Fantasyland Expansion

The goal with the Fantasyland Theater is to replace it with a mirror of the "castle court" attractions that flank both sides of Sleeping Beauty's Castle.  If you can imagine, this creates a direct through line from the castle, between the courtyard buildings, through the carousel and Dumbo, across the Storybookland Canal Boats, then again into a new courtyard, all the way back to the Fantasyland Train Station.  This is all represented by the yellow line above.  If stretched through the park, would go from the Main Street Train Station, through the castle, providing a balancing line for Fantasyland, then all the way through to the Fantasyland Train Station.

To accomplish this, the Fantasyland Train Station would likely need to be shifted over to the area represented roughly in yellow above.  Given the complete retheming of the surrounding area, this would also provide an opportunity to reclaim the station from Toontown, retheming it to a Victorian/Edwardian European train station.

This would also likely require a reworking of the Storybookland Canal Boats, especially given the goal of creating better guest paths (identified in red and blue above).  As it exists, the Canal Boats act as a barrier and berm to the Fantasyland Theater. Put another way, as it exists now, there is a back to the attraction.  Given its position, it would need to be reconfigured to benefit from a path and views from all around the attraction.  To me, this could be best accomplished by removing the Casey Jr. Train ride (a sad loss, but hopefully made up elsewhere in the park), and expanding the Canal Boats into a figure-eight like path that passes under a center bridge.  This provides waterways on each side, a path directly over and through and paths all around, all affording views of the attraction.  It would also allow a reworking of the scenes within the attraction, removing non-Walt era films (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Frozen) and replacing them with Walt-era films and shorts like The Old Mill, Night On Bald Mountain, Peter and the Wolf, The Brave Little Tailor, etc.

The mirroring aspect would also allow us to potentially add another flat ride for visual kinetics, to the center of this new courtyard (identified in green above).  Perhaps this could be a version of the whip ride (like Mater) themed to the Pastoral Symphony in Fantasia, with miniature Pegai (multiple Pegasus) pulling chariots with a raucous Bachuus statue in the center.

The removal of the theater allows us the space for the two large buildings creating our new courtyard, outlined in purple above.  In these, the mix of shops, dining, and attractions would greatly expand utilized capacity for the park.

On the right, moving from the center out, we would add a Mary Poppins dark-ride, and move the Winnie the Pooh attraction here.  This keeps the English attractions on the right/east side of Fantasyland (with Peter Pan, Mr. Toad, and Alice).

On the left, we would add a Cinderella Carriage dark ride and table service dining hall, rounding out all of the Walt-era fairytales being represented in the park.

With this, I've added guest pathways, lost two attractions (Casey Jr. and the Theater), but gained four for a net add of two attractions.  Depending on the necessary layouts, another attraction in this new section could potentially be added, either as a dark ride on the Cinderella side or another flat ride in the courtyard.

For Toontown, the primary concerns are to open a second entrance towards the Frontierland side (much more desirable now with the pathway to Galaxy's Edge) and to address the firework fallout issue.  It would seem the most logical solution would be to raze the current Toontown area to start again with an entirely enclosed land, potentially including the entertainment warehouse and rehearsal halls behind the current land (after relocating them) for a greatly expanded new area, as shown in the image below.  The current entrance would remain with another entrance on the west side into the trail to Galaxy's Edge, allowing a complete pass through (entrances indicated in red below).  Enclosing the land entirely addresses the firework fallout issue, allowing the entire land to stay open through operating hours.

Toontown and possible expansion

Disney has designed completely enclosed lands before, most notably in Tokyo DisneySea with Mermaid Lagoon. Enclosing a land lends itself to particular themes and settings.  One option is to design spaces that are not typically outdoors (like the inside of a giant space station) or is not generally above ground (like caverns or under the sea).  Another option is to create a land where there is a greater desire for control of the particular setting.  Perhaps it should always be night in this particular setting (like the Dark Forest), or should always be cold and dusk (like Arendelle).

To further the Fantasyland theme and to create a unique enclosed space, I would propose re-theming this area to the Dark Forest/Dark Kingdom.  This is a place to celebrate the Disney Villains.  And there are a lot of things I believe help that cement this transition.  To get to this area, you have to leave the open Fantasyland, pass through an underground tunnel into this new space.  This sense of descending can add to the feeling of passing into a dark space or passing into the underworld.  There can further be signs outside the entrances pointing the way into the Dark Forest, with the appropriate warnings.

Inside the space, the show building would be perpetually night, with fiber optic stars and moon, and appropriate projections on the ceiling and walls (for perspective of distance - perhaps a Bald Mountain off in the distance that occasionally opens to reveal Chernabog).  The walls can be lined with artificial trees, including those from the Forest of No Return in Babes in Toyland, with their grumpy and "spooky" faces.  

In terms of attractions, I would replace the current Roger Rabbit ride with a Sleepy Hollow dark ride, where you are riding in a wagon, being chased by the Headless Horseman throughout the ride.  A fun, quick ride for all ages and heights.

Next door would be an entrance for a Dragon encounter roller coaster that would absorb the potential expansion area indicate above.  This ride resurrects an unused concept from Animal Kingdom, placing it in show building for greater control of the visuals. In this version, the dragon would likely be Maleficent in dragon form.  

There would also be the Horned King's banquet hall.  

A Tiki Room-esque Dr. Facilier Magic Show.  This would combine practical magic effects with the minor animatronics from the Tiki Room.  If you imagine the set up of a square room with the seats along the walls facing the center, then with vodoo masks lining the walls instead of tiki masks, you can get the idea.  A black light "Friends on the Other Side" with the masks singing like they do in the Tiki Room.  

An Evil Queen apple cart selling caramel apples that look like the poisoned one in Snow White.  

A Stromboli souvenir cart with decorative puppets included.  

A living-character initiative encounter with the Magic Mirror in castle ruins that can actually interact with you and speak directly to you.  

I think you can pack a lot in this little area and make it truly something special.


Discoveryland:
That's right, I said Discoveryland.  

I know you are probably thinking there isn't a Discoveryland in Disneyland. And you would be right, currently.

Discoveryland is my solution to a problem that arises with discussion of Tomorrowland expansion.  Primarily, what do you do with the area that contains Autopia, the Submarines, the Monorail track, and the old Peoplemover track?  These rides were all built so intertwined that it is difficult to remove or replace one without impacting the rest.  Further, should it be desirable to remove Autopia, the Subs, and the Peoplmover track completely, as has been discussed, you run into the great expense of re-routing the Monorail track to make this a usable expansion pad.  

There is a secondary problem that occurs with theme and Autopia and the Submarines.  When each attraction opened, both represented very near future technology.  Autopia envisioned the full expansion of the freeway system.  The Submarines were touted as "one of the largest peacetime submarine fleets" when they opened.  But both have seen technology eclipse them, making them a very dated part of Tomorrowland (the current Finding Nemo submarines pay a little handwaving to this by touting a technology that allows us to hear the conversations of fish).

There are two solutions to this second problem.  First, each ride can be re-themed to make them more futuristic.  Autopia has achieved a little of this with its recent revisions including the Honda ASIMO scenes.  Second, the rides can be "moved" to a more thematically appropriate land, as the Matterhorn has previously "moved" from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland.  I would propose the latter, creating a new land in the park at the intersection of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.  A Discoveryland that promotes the exploration of our world around us.  A kind of World Showcase-land.

The screen shot below gives a sense of the size of the proposed land redefinition.

A new land!

Discoveryland would include the following existing rides: it's a small world, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Autopia, and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. It would also include the proposed Alpine Garden Pavilion addressed above in the discussion of the Hub.

it's a small world would be our thesis attraction of the land, promoting harmony of the world countries and a general spirit of cultural exploration.  

The Matterhorn Bobsleds conveys that sense of tackling the world's highest locations and a Swiss/Bavarian theme (along with the Alpine Garden Pavilion).  

The Finding Nemo Submarines take us to the depths of the sea, exploring the Great Barrier Reef and a known Australian setting.

Autopia can be gently rethemed to a World Grand Prix/Autobahn setting, allowing for an exploration of the world through the open road.  The landscape could be littered with icons of various locations, like the Tour Eiffel, the Leaning Tower, the Golden Gate bridge, Himeji Castle, etc.  Different sections of the drive could be themed to specific countries, creating a similar effect to the Jungle Cruise.

The remaining area becomes the primary focus for potential addition, in particular the area that previously used to be the Motor Boat Cruise.  This is highlighted in lavendar below, with a potential expansion area indicated if the Autopia track is re-routed and shortened.

The area of most change - the Motor Boat Cruise area

Most beneficial to this land and space would be an International Street(s) set up.  To add shops, snacks and a quick service dining option to the land, if no where else than at least around the monorail beam running through the current waterway.  Ideally, the monorail loops could be simplified, allowing for greater leeway in re-configuring the space.  But if necessary, taking an approach like that in California Adventure where the monorail passes over bridges and rooftops, there is definite potential for the necessary shops and dining here.

Again, creating a street or series of streets here where guests can walk through and explore opens up additional pathways and alleviates the congestion the current paths are experiencing.  This new land allows the re-grouping of attractions into a more cohesive land, allowing their previous lands to become thematically stronger as well.


Tomorrowland:
Tomorrowland is the section of the park most in need of a solidified identity. It has had several over the years.  First, it was a near future, corporate invention showcase.  Then it was a "nation on the move" showcasing the next steps in transportation.  Though it's currently a hodgepodge of Sci-Fi and space related attractions, it's still one of the most popular and congested lands in the park.

Tomorrowland, to me, is actually one of the easiest to create a unique identity and variation in each park, by focusing on the vision of the future that existed in the world at the time the park opened.  Accordingly, I would give Disneyland's Tomorrowland a 1950s-esque retro-future vibe.  A bold vision of a Utopian future, inspired by Buck Rodgers, the Jetsons, and the Ward Kimball Disney cartoons Magic Highways USA and Mars and Beyond.  It's a future dominated by bold, shiny primary colors, white, silver, chrome, and gold.  And it's a future were we should be looking far out, like 2155 or 2255, instead of to the near, likely future.  A future that inspired Pacific Ocean Park and Encounter at LAX.

It's the future where I get my flying car.

With the identity settled, the next issue with Tomorrowland becomes one of space.  Of all of the lands in Disneyland, Tomorrowland is the most constricted, especially without the Autopia and Submarine locations for possible replacement.  Solutions for expansion and renovation require innovative thinking.  And in this case, it largely means expansion needs to go vertical, particularly if there is a desire to spread people into new spaces.  A viable second floor that mostly covered the land would be of great assistance.   With that in mind, my focus is on utilizing existing spaces and converting or adding as needed.

A revised Tomorrowland


Space Mountain definitely works as is, so it will remain the same.  The Hyperspace Mountain overlay will not occur in the future, especially with Galaxy's Edge online.  Star Tours and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters can also both work in this particular vision, they will just need slight adjustment.  For Star Tours, the idea of interstellar space tourism completely works, but the outer aesthetic would need to be brought closer to the color palette, particularly updating the area around the mural and the mural itself, bringing it from the more muted earth and metal tones to the vibrant future. 

For Buzz Lightyear, the idea of space rangers patrolling the galaxy definitely feels like a space age concept.  One could envision a Commando Cody- or King of the Rocket Men-like television show featuring Buzz Lightyear existing.  To make the ride fit better in the land, it would need to focus on springing from this source instead of the "toy-like" quality it has now.  The etch-a-sketch, batteries, etc. in the queue and ride would need to be removed and replaced by props evidencing a functioning Star Command.  The cardboard cutoff approach to the ride itself can be explained by treating the ride as a training exercise for new cadets, but the experience needs to be focused on Buzz Lightyear as a Space Ranger, not a toy version of one.

The Jedi Training Academy would be removed with Galaxy's Edge, allowing the Tomorrowland Terrace Stage to primarily have bands again.

The Astro Orbitor and rockwork would be from the entrance from the hub, with the Astro Orbitor retaking its place on top of the Rocket Jet platform.  It belongs in the sky, providing much needed visual kinetics to the land, plus alleviating congestion at the entrance. (In red above, with the arrow showing the move).

Pizza Port should be rethemed to Pizza Planet permanently.  And by re-themed, I mean faithfully re-themed with the robot guards at the entrance, alien slime drink, claw machine filled with squeezable three-eyed aliens, etc.

I would like to build a theater for Stitch Live! over Pizza Planet.  Hopefully given the simplicity of building a small theater, this would not be too big of an ask.  It's a small-form attraction that does not have to take up much room, it has greater repeat-ability with the living character initiative aspect, and the interstellar communication with an alien aspect still fits our ray gun future aesthetic. 

Some form of the PeopleMover will be brought back with fun little visual vignettes where appropriate.  This is an absolute must have attraction as it utilizes the beams that go through all of the land which are currently vacant, and has a tremendous hourly capacity.  This would be a great place to have Kimball's Mars and Beyond robot in one of the visual gags and vignettes along the way.  

For the Starcade space, I would like to see if that could be used for one of the VOID Virtual Reality experiences.  I know these have a very low hourly capacity, but with the current trend toward reservations, this could just be an experience that was reservation/Fastpass only.  Given the volume of other things to do in the park, it becomes a side show attraction, not the main event.  The nature of the setup would allow it to be continually reconfigured for repeat-ability.  I'm not sure what configuration it would need, whether it would have something like checkin on the first floor and then the actual setup on the second level, or if it could be limited to one floor.  If possible to put on just one floor, I would like to fit something like Invasion! An Alien Encounter from DisneyQuest in the other level.

In the Star Wars Path of the Jedi theater, I would add a Time Travel 4d show.  This section needs a futuristic technology focus different from space travel.  Additionally, with the proximity to the Grand Canyon and Primeval World Railroad dioramas, the show can be used as an explanation for the train passing through time and space ("the tachyon experiments nearby have gotten out of control...")

Finally, for the current Innoventions/old Carousel of Progress building, I would again split the levels to contain two separate experiences with two separate entrances and exits.  The first floor would house a dark ride.  Ideally, if an updated Adventures Through Inner Space could be added, utilizing physical sets and projection mapping, it would be a great addition.  Again, to add a different technology (here miniaturization) for variety, and here resurrecting a cult ride from the past with technologies that can make it more engaging.

The second floor would house a table service Space restaurant, similar to the one being added to EPCOT.  It is a very interesting concept - a circular (or semi-circular) layout without windows, but having screens imitating the windows of a space station.  The EPCOT version is just designed to show actual space, simulating what true space orbit would be like.  Here, we can have the same realistic view of space, but can add stylized rockets zooming by, astronauts in very stylized Jetson's era suits, or even include WALL-E and EVE's space dance.

This adds nearly five attractions and provides a lot of new spaces and a table service restaurant to better absorb the crowds.


Seasonal Overlays:
One area where Disneyland truly shines is with seasonal overlays.  Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and The Haunted Mansion Holiday serve up spooky fun for Halloween, and it's a small world Holiday and the Jingle Cruise join the Haunted Mansion Holiday for Christmas Cheer.  To these current offerings, a holiday themed show would definitely be on the menu at the Golden Horseshoe.  Likewise, I believe you could add a Holly Jolly Very Merry Tiki Room to the Christmas cheer.


Parades and Nighttime Spectaculars:
Soundsational is a very popular daytime parade.  I feel the reason it is so successful is the focus on music, in particular focusing on a variety of upbeat music styles and sources for a very engaging parade.  It also truly mines the depths of the Disney catalog to pull out a few deep-cuts in the parade, so I would make sure that future daytime parades do the same.

For the nighttime shows, I have a very specific default setting in mind that I think represents the best Disneyland has to offer.  And the main goal is to have these in specific locations to spread the nighttime viewing out.

There should be some form of projection show occurring with the chimes (every hour or every half hour like at Christmas) on the it's a small world facade.  Given that it is projections, you could even cycle through things like The Magic, The Memories, and You, Once Upon a Time, etc. to keep it engaging.

Likewise, bands with a little laser light accompaniment would be entertaining on the Tomorrowland Terrace Stage throughout the night, pulling crowds that direction. 

Fantasmic! continues to do its amazing work on the Rivers of America.  Despite some minor quibbles with the revamp, it continues to amaze me.

I'm of the mindset that Remember, Dreams Come True should always be the default fireworks show for Disneyland. It is a perfect encapsulation of a day at Disneyland that serves as beautiful sign off.  With the new projections, again, it shines.  I do think the Frontierland Shooting Gallery segment could be added back, in projection form, if not in the firework shots on the castle.  It should be periodically refreshed and updated like this most recent update. (It's plussing the show, similar to how a ride is done).  For the exit song for Remember, I would change it to Disneyland from Smile.  This has been used in the 60th at the end of World of Color and is a better fit here.  It's a sentiment song that serves as a good wrap up for the themes in Remember.

I would also bring back the Main Street Electrical Parade in version 2.0.  It would still be called the Main Street Electrical Parade utilizing the Baroque Hoedown backing, but it would be a completely new build from top to bottom, integrating the newer technologies that are shown in Paint the Night.  From this point on, MSEP2.0 would be the default night parade for Disneyland.  It would be "plussed" like Tokyo does with Dreamlights.  

And when I say default, I mean that it is the firework show or parade that would run unless there is a particular promotional parade or show to put on.  So, when it's time for Halloween or Christmas, those appropriate shows run.  If Disneyland wants to do something like Pixar Fest for the summer, the Pixar fireworks run and the parade runs, but when it is done, Remember, Dreams Come True and MSEP2.0 are back.

This would give a nighttime schedule something like:
  • Fantasmic! and MSEP2.0 roughly close together
  • Remember, Dreams Come True
  • perhaps a repeat of Fantasmic! and MSEP2.0

with the projection shows on it's a small world and the bands in Tomorrowland intermittently throughout the night.

I would also bring one little touch from the Magic Kingdom to Disneyland, and have the castle give a goodnight kiss right before closing.  It's a very short show of colors and lights that the castle does just as that one last touch.  Only at Disneyland, the song would be the new "A Kiss Goodnight" written specifically for the park by Richard Sherman.

It's that final, special touch that makes Disneyland truly magical.


Magical Guardian and Cartoon Mascot:
This is just a fun touch I've mentally done, assigning each castle park a magical guardian and every Disney park a cartoon mascot.  For Disneyland, it's easy, as there are characters so associated with the park they have to be used.  For the other parks, it has been a lot more fun.

For a magical guardian, Disneyland has to have Tinkerbell.  She is definitely one of the most associated characters with the park thanks to the television show.  And she belongs in her nightly flight over the castle (do not be surprised, though, if I change the character at other castle parks like the Magic Kingdom, so Tinkerbell's flight at Disneyland is all the more special).

For the cartoon mascot, it has to be Mickey Mouse.  After all, it all started with a mouse and he belongs at the park that started it all.

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I hope you have enjoyed this rather lengthy exercise in getting ideas out of my head.  I'm not sure any of the future ones will be quite this long.  

Next in the series - Disney California Adventure Park.

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