The Society Of Explorers And Adventurers (and Alice)
When deciding on a theme for this new park, the decision to focus a large chunk of real estate to the SEA and to use it as the backbone of the overall storyline was not an incredibly difficult decision to make. I wanted something that would at least potentially bring some sense to the hodgepodge of attractions that would fill the back-half of my park while also giving guests a solid entry point that was not themed after a specific film or group of well-known characters that would distract from the gestalt nature of the park. I absolutely want the whole to be greater than the sum of its parts.
While the SEA has their very own fortress at Tokyo DisneySea, they are without an American base of operations ever since The Adventurer's Club closed at Pleasure Island in then-Downtown Disney. While the Club itself was not technically the SEA and was instead considered a successor (most Disney attractions paint the society's characters as being from the 1800s), it is still considered the point of origin for the theme that has since been expanded upon in attractions like Mystic Manor, the Tokyo Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Mountain, and the recently debuted Miss Adventure Falls at Typhoon Lagoon, to name a few. In the spirit of the Club, even restaurants have gotten into the act, with Jock Lindsay's Hangar Bar and the Jungle Cruise Skipper Canteen featuring ties to the SEA (the Canteen even houses their secret meeting room).
Giving this new park the SEA's headquarters and making it the focal point of the entrance is the first step in selling the entire concept of the park to everyone that walks through the turnstiles. I want every person to feel like they are going on an adventure - though also hopefully avoiding all the supernatural evil that tends to strike some of the SEA's members in their own attractions. Once again this is why I chose Alice, and not a new character or even a character with their own SEA-related theme park attraction to be the guest's "guide" through the backstory of the group and the park. People know Alice and dream of visiting their very own Wonderland, and now with this park that can become a reality.
"But" I hear you say "Alice is already in the Magic Kingdom in her original animated form at the Mad Tea Party! What are you going to do?" This is a fine point, and one that causes me to have to make a choice. I either use Alice solely for the marketing and media leading up to the park's opening and little else, or I try to justify this Alice being the same character as the one in Magic Kingdom, just older, which seems to go against the message Disney tries to send with its meet-and-greet characters. Sure, Mickey might be in a magician's outfit one place and safari gear in another, but he's still the same Mouse. Alice would be instantly recognized as different from the one riding around in the teacups. The solutions are to simply take the first option and use her as a character on the Wonderlands TV show and in comic books and other media but leave her out of the park itself or I somehow age her back down to match the animated film but dress her up like she just took extra shifts at the Jungle Cruise to make ends meet. I am more inclined to go with the former, as the idea was never to make "Alice's Wonderlands" in the first place or even to include Wonderland as a themed section of this park, mostly due to confusions that could arise.
Stay tuned as part three will dive into the shape of the park including not just a peak at its layout for guests but also all those hidden "Cast Member Only" areas that will hold it all together backstage. Park size will also be estimated and I will no doubt end up arguing with myself over how much space a theme park really needs.