Opposite Attractions: A Theme Park Design Show

A comedy design challenge podcast about creating theme parks that are 'technically possible'.

Disney's Wonderlands (Part 1: Backstory)

This is part one of a many, many, many, many part plan to design a new theme park for Walt Disney World. Posts will go up hopefully two to three times a week.

In my introductory post, I outlined a little bit about the high level theme of Disney's Wonderlands, featuring Alice from Alice In Wonderland, the SEA, and some other vague notions, including a brand new TV series based on Walt Disney's 1950's Disneyland show. Now, I give to you a slightly deeper dive into what other sorts of advertising and marketing Disney would do in order to make this park not only a destination for millions of fans, but an understood adventure that isn't as much about waiting in long lines (which, sadly, you'll always do) but having an unforgettable experience inside of not just some of the Disney stories you know and love but new ones created just for the visitors to this new park.

My goal when coming up with attractions, shows, lands, etc is to try and shy away as much as possible from things that are already available as experiences in Walt Disney World and sometimes in Disneyland (no Cars Land, for instance). Not only that, but I am also thinking about what Disney has planned or rumored to have planned for the future of it's current parks - and keeping them out as well. That means, depressingly, no Wreck-It Ralph, Inside Out, Coco (I think Mexico in Epcot might take that over somewhat), Monster's Inc, Zootopia, the current Mickey Mouse shorts, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting.

What this means is that I have to dig into the back catalog a little bit and see what I can find that not only has a respectable enough fanbase to justify an attraction/land, but might also be in need of a little bit of modern polish by way of ten years of media blitz to get new fans and maybe reinvigorate old fans. The new Alice is certainly a start, and while Disney has been on a recent trend of taking former animated classics and making them live-action, I want to look at taking live-action films and animating them, or changing the style of animation (similar to Tangled The Film vs Tangled The Series) or even reframing them in the manner of Maleficent or that Oz film that kind of bombed. Using television as the platform may in fact be better for many of these franchises than theaters, and putting the dream of a theme park in the future around them may help them gain more attention than they otherwise might just being thrown out on a random Disney-owned channel.

The number of Disney fans that knows anything about the Society of Explorers & Adventurers is probably incredibly slim, like 10-15% at the most. Starting with Alice as a gatekeeper into the backstory of the SEA and then moving deeper into their mythos, members, and exploits is the first step on the Wonderlands hype train. While I do not wish to simply copy Mystic Point in any way, shape, or form from Tokyo Disneyland, I do love the idea of some sort of recurring series of shorts (or even full length episodes) featuring Lord Henry Mystic and his pet monkey Albert. I would also love to see more with the Jungle Cruise skippers (feature length film and current theme park attraction notwithstanding), as at least some sort of easy hook to a new cast of characters, even if those character may just end up being relatives of the Cruise's own Falls family.

If there is anything Disney absolutely loves, and I can say this as a former Cast Member, it is synergy. They love mixing all their IPs into as many buckets as they possibly can. That's why I'm pretty sure you can buy Frozen-branded motor oil if you know what Disney Stores to look in. Disney are the masters of pushing their properties as hard as they possibly can if they encounter even the slightest bit of willingness to accept it. By re-inventing Alice and building a universe around the Wonderlands brand and the theme park that bears it's name, we are one step closer to making all these dreams a reality.

Stay tuned.