Saturday, April 21, 2018

If I Were Disney CEO Part 4 - Disneyland/California Adventure Second Take

And now for something a little different...

As mentioned in the blog on my thoughts on California Adventure, I have been approaching these plans and projections based on the current status of Disney parks.  This means, I have been working from the parks as they exist and with known current projects.  That meant that for California Adventure, for example, I was working from the upcoming Pixar Pier instead of the previous Paradise Pier.  Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout existed instead of the Tower of Terror.

For this post, I'm adjusting the hypothetical.  I'm presenting an alternate take on three key lands in Disneyland and California Adventure all based on a change in position of where the Marvel characters end up. 

From this comes a very divergent path for Tomorrowland, Hollywoodland, and Paradise Pier (plus the future Marvel Land expansion pad).  The rest of the parks would remain the same as presented in the previous blogs.  This post just presents a what if that is in some respects a stronger future.

Hope you enjoy.

In this alternate take, I plan to use Tomorrowland as the landing spot for the Marvel characters, for a couple of reasons.  First, placing the Marvel characters in the opposite corner of the same park as the Star Wars characters would help greatly divide the crowds in Disneyland in a much more meaningful way than putting them in separate parks.  As it stands now, each property stands to be the overwhelming draw for their respective park.  If the two properties cannot just be separated out into the eventual third park in the Disneyland resort, it seems using them as balance would be a better approach.

Second, these primary Marvel characters that have caught the public's attention through the Marvel Cinematic Universe all have their origins in the 1960s start of Marvel comics and in the science hero.  There is a definite kinship between the exploration of science in the initial comic books for these characters and the early versions of Tomorrowland.  It truly is no coincidence that Howard Stark in Iron Man 2 was heavily patterned after Walt.

With that in mind, this version of Tomorrowland will borrow heavily from the Stark Expo, exploring science and technology with a Marvel twist.

Marvel Tomorrowland
In fact, the Stark Expo will take over both floors of the Innoventions building.  The first floor will be a lot like the current Launch Bay but for Marvel.  It will have a store, Iron Man Armory, Rotating Meet & Greets, and a small space for a movie preview.  The top floor will become a VOID VR experience where you get to wear the Iron Man armor.

Moving around clockwise, I would convert Pizza Planet to a Captian America themed restaurant with all-American food.  With Cap being the oldest hero, it would make sense that there would likely be a Planet Hollywood style restaurant with his memorabilia.  On the top floor of that restaurant, I would add a small Dr. Strange Magic/time travel show.

Space Mountain remains the same, but gains a Captain Marvel/S.W.O.R.D (space S.H.I.E.L.D.) pre-show.

The Honey I Shrunk the Audience/Captain EO theater would now host an Antman/Pym Particles 4D show.  A lot like Honey I Shrunk the Audience, but can also include the Microverse.

The Starcade space is revamped into a Wakandan Outreach Center, with a Black Panther Meet & Greet and technology exhibits.

Star Tours becomes Galaxy Tours.  The experience is essentially the same, but with Rocket as your pilot and baby Groot on the dash.  The soundtrack is now an awesome mega-mix and you are visiting Hala, Xandar, Knowwhere, Ego, etc.

The People Mover is reinstated just as in the other version.  The Astro Orbitor is removed and replaced by the Jet Packs from Shanghai Disneyland.  The Jet Packs are placed back on top of the People Mover platform.  The jet packs are preferred as they will fit in as training for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

A different spin and a bit more like agent training.
Likewise, Buzz Lightyear will be replaced by a Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. shooter ride.  Fighting the forces of Hydra (and other Marvel villains) to see how well the guest is to become an Agent.  Scores at the end ranking the guest in terms of status.  Plus the gift shop at the end can sell an Agents badge with names.

The Galactic Grill becomes the Shawarma Stand.  And the Star Wars Jedi Training show is replaced by a Super-Hero training show with Hawkeye and the Black Widow.

All in all, a change that works, keeping the essential experiences the same.

Disney California Adventure
Expansion Pad:
If Marvel is going in Tomorrowland, that means that a bug's land can stay and the expansion pad in California Adventure is still available.  I would keep a bug's land and use the expansion pad to add Toy Story Playland.  The land works here as the scale is near the size of a bug's land and the Tower of Terror looming in the background will help sell it.

The expansion pad can then house RC Racer, Green Army Men Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin, and Woody's Lunch Box, as well as a few new additions.

Toy Story Playland
I would add a Tin Toy Revue, a small theater attraction like the Tiki Birds or Coutnry Bears, were guests watch Wheezy and others backed by a wind-up band sing a variety of songs.

Around RC Racers, I would see if we could add a driving cars ride, Junior Autopia style.  This is a great location, as it could be Cars and Toy Story adjacent.

I would also add a small food stand modeled after the Poultry Palace kids meal box.  It fits much better here in a Toy Story sized land than it does on the pier.

I would also add Gerstlauer style Pegatop Carousel.  This is a spinner-ride that looks like a spinning top.  A perfect addition to a Toy Story land.

This gives the park Cars Land, Toy Story Playland and a bug's land all on the East Side.  This also informs what should become of Hollywoodland.

To complete this side of the park, Hollywoodland would then become Pixar Studios.  The framework is already there and this proves a better fit for the Pixar characters than the Pier.  This makes the entire east side of California Adventure themed to Pixar.

Pixar Studios Hollywoodland
The entry way would now get the Pixar Studios arch, raised to an appropriate height so the Red Car Trolley and all floats can go underneath.  This would be very similar to the Pixar Place entrance in Disney Hollywood Studios.

Disney Hollywood Studios version
The main thoroughfare will change from Hollywood Boulevard to Pixar Street.  This main street will be themed generally to Pixar Studios.  Gone Hollywood will become Knick's Knacks with the modern Pixar theming it currently has.  Award Wieners will become The Hidden City Cafe, a version of the cafe that Pixar animators would eat at and develop their ideas.  Here it would largely be a sandwich counter.

Disney Junior will become a dedicated Pixar shorts and preview theater.

The Animation Academy will become Pixar Animation Studios, necessitating a redressing of the outside of the building to match the brick style in Emeryville.  Within the building, Turtle Talk with Crush will stay.  The Animation Academy learn-to-draw portion will be replaced with a dedicated meet & greet Space.  The Character Closeup space will be added back with studios artifacts and the Toy Story Zoetrope.  The Sorcerer's Workshop will be replaced with Presto DiGiotagione's and will include Riley's Mind where you find your emotion and the Land of the Dead (maybe even Andy's Room).  This building will also be a great place to add the Mr. Potato Head animatronic.

The Hyperion will still be enclosed, but the musical that will be added will be a Coco musical.  What makes this a good lateral transition is that there are also two other shows that can be easily implemented in this space - Finding Nemo the Musical from Disney's Animal Kingdom and the Toy Story Musical from the Disney Cruise line.

The center area will still become a water feature, but this time it will be a fountain with the Luxo Lamp on top as a centerpiece.  The lamp can be minimally animated to shine the light around the location.

The old backlot area now becomes a Monsters Inc. sub-land.  The road around the center is now Monsters Boulevard.  The Sunset Showcase theater is replaced with a Monsters University Scare Games ride.  I know this is pressed for space, so this will have to be clever with utilization and likely two story.  The outside would look like the Monsters University Campus.

Stage 17 (currently unoccupied) will become the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, brought over from Florida.  The building here will look like Monsters Inc.

Mike and Sulley to the Rescue will remain, but the outside of the building will be rebuilt to resemble the street leading up to Monsters Inc. in the film.  That way, the End of the Line Bar can be replaced by a Tony's Grossery storefront to blend in with the new facade.

Hollywood and Dine would be rethemed to Harryhausen's Restaurant. This will be a sit down Asian restaurant with themed food and select Monsters character dining.

With this, California Adventure now has sections for Monsters Inc./University, Cars, a bug's life, and Toy Story.

Tower of Terror would remain as the Twilight Zone and the Red Car Trolley barn would still be on that side.  Guests would now walk past Tower and the Red Car Trolley barn (now appropriately themed) into Toy Story Playland.  Toy Story would have a path into Cars Land.

Paradise Pier:
With Pixar taking over Hollywoodland, the Pier is free to contain the Fab Five traditional Disney characters and the Silly Symphony shorts.  Again, in many ways this works better as it can carry a more time period appropriate look and can leave many of the rides as they are.

Paradise Pier Reinvisioned
First, the name would remain Paradise Pier.  This means several things.  First the illuminated name remains above the loop on California Screamin'.  All of the small vendor carts and stands like Paradise Pier Ice Cream can remain the same.  Further, there is no need to divide the land into Pier and Park.  Everything remains in Paradise Pier.

Ariel's Grotto can remain the same or can be changed out for Clara's Roost Restaurant, in order to contain a Mickey and friends character meal. This would be named for Topsy's Roost at Playland.  Likewise Treasures in Paradise can remain the same.

California Screamin' gets a couple of slight modifications.  First, I would slightly change the name to The California Scream.  Slightly more appropriate for the setting.  It would also get a proper Victorian style queue and loading station.  One larger building to incorporate everything (i.e. no more weird sun shade structures for the queue).

In the eastern helix, I would add a Pluto themed flat ride named Plutopia after the short.  A Dumbo-like spinner around a central fire hydrant with Plutopia in neon above it.

King Triton's Carousel becomes King Neptune's Carousel to match the Silly Symphony Short.  It gets a Victorian style cover, enabling the easy switch of the figure icon.

Toy Story Midway Mania becomes Minnie's Midway Mania.  Since this ride is largely screens, it is simply a matter of redecorating the walls and then adjusting the animation to fit the classic characters.

Next door, the games of the midway and extra space becomes Philharmagic.  As suggested when this was to be added to Hollywoodland, the newer segments would be switched out for classic movies and shorts.  The exterior for the theater would be closer to a nickelodeon.

Between Philharmagic and the shops, the ride becomes a Lonesome Ghosts Spook dark ride or A Tunnel of Love Ride.  Either way the focus is on the classic characters and adding a classic amusement ride to the pier.

Sideshow Shirts will be split into Paradise Pier Gifts and Confections, to include the merchandise for sale and sweets (particularly salt-water taffy).

In the Screamin' western helix, I would place a Three Little Pigs Helter Skelter.  I've been obsessed with a Helter Skelter ever since I noticed it in a Donald Duck cartoon (Straight Shooters).  The goal here would be to go beyond a simple slide where a guest's body is on the slide.  Instead it would be a ride vehicle going down the slide.  This Helter Skelter would look like a lighthouse, as in the image below.  I imagine a ride vehicle like a Doom-buggie from the Haunted Mansion.  This type of ride vehicle provides the greatest control in directing the guests point of view.  Here the guest would be directed to look at the outer wall as it climbs around in the inside of the tower.  Here the story of the Three Little Pigs would be projected on the walls for the guest to view as they climb.  When they get to the top, that's were the Big Bad Wolf blows the guests out of the tower and the vehicles start quickly spiraling down the "slide" giving the guests a view facing out from the tower.  I think this could be a really fun addition that gives a little height in the helix and creates a new type of small form ride.

The one on the pier would be a little larger but this gives the idea.
Everything else in the pier can remain the same.  If a Silly Symphony tie is needed, Jumpin' Jellyfish can get a Merbabies overlay.

This was a fun exercise in re-imagining these particular lands. In many ways, I like these choices better and feel they are easier to implement.

Next up, the Disneyland Resort as a whole.

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