Opposite Attractions: A Theme Park Design Show

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

Imagining A 5th Gate at Walt Disney World

The Fifth Gate

It has long been the dream of the WDW fan, or at least since the fresh new car smell of Animal Kingdom wore off, to see the company use just a bit more of their huge plot of land to construct a fifth theme park. Of the ideas floating around the internet, the main desire appears to be VILLAINS - a dark theme park with thrills and chills(and probably Chernabog on a mountain in the middle to confuse almost everyone that has never had the time or energy to watch FANTASIA). The problem is that I personally never, and while I shouldn't say never I'm saying never, see a fifth gate on the outskirts of Orlando. Disney loves that 5 day/6 night stay with that extra day being either more time in a park of your choosing (Magic Kingdom, duh), or using it to visit other resorts, Disney Springs, a water park, or other places on their property with plenty of cash registers and frequent bus access.

That being said, I still would love a fifth gate. Anything that maybe slows down the crowds at Magic Kingdom just a tiny little bit all year 'round. So without further ado, I submit the opening statements for my pitch for a brand spanking new Disney World theme park ...


Before I get into the general theming and other entertaining info, let me first say that I have no idea where on Disney's property another theme park could go. Zero clue. Also, I am considering just getting this park to the point where it can accept guests to be at least a ten year plan from announcement to rope drop. This will be the North American equivalent of Tokyo DisneySea, or so help me(and put that thing back where it came from)!

Disney's Wonderlands thematic framework relies on taking two somewhat established Disney themes and slamming them together as hard as is possible. The first is the multi-plane (pun intended) worlds of something like Kingdom Hearts, while the second is what is known as the Society Of Explorers And Adventurers. It will be that group that will become the foundation for the park's backstory and energy, exploring and adventuring among the wonderlands of Disney's various IPs (that aren't connected to Marvel, Star Wars, the Muppets, or almost any current IPs that are already heavily featured around Walt Disney World).

How do we begin though? How do we educate the public on things like the SEA and what Wonderlands is all about? The answer lies in 1954 with Disneyland (the TV Series). Walt used this show to promote everything that his brand new themed entertainment park would have to offer. I propose for this new park that Disney cranks up the TV cameras and presents a WONDERLANDS TV show to do the exact same thing Walt had done six decades prior. But there is no Walt Disney to host, you say! Well, the Disney empire is much bigger and more powerful these days, but I think that putting Neil Patrick Harris at the forefront of this show as a sort of replacement-Walt is just about perfect. He has a great relationship with the company, with fans, and at least appears to have the same general sense of awe and wonder that Walt had as he walked us through the dreams he and his team were building.

That is only the start, though. Because I know that when you think Wonderland and Disney, you think Johnny Depp. No, I'm kidding - you think Alice from Alice In Wonderland. Much like what Disney has done with it's comic book interpretation and reimagining of things like Big Thunder, Haunted Mansion, the Tiki Room, and Dreamfinder/Figment, updating Alice to a modern setting - different from both the classic animation and the newer films, to make her the flagship character of the park not as just a young blonde in a blue and white dress but to a member of the SEA that did not just discover a fantastic world as a girl, but a whole new dimension! This Alice would be a young woman, not exactly the 7 year old girl of the original writings nor whatever age Alice was meant to be in the animated classic (probably close to 10 or something), but maybe a college-aged ball of enthusiasm for experiencing the unknown. Her TV appearances would be traditionally animated and my brain is fixated on a style more reminiscent of something like Batman: The Animated Series or what I imagine a Rocketeer animated film would look like, for some reason. While NPH would be the viewer's guide to the reality of the park and it's attractions and shows, Alice would the viewer's guide to the fantastical worlds those attractions and shows would be based on. I'm not saying I would dump Alice into, like, San Fransokyo or something, at least not in a meaningful way. She would be the kind of character that might be seen in some kind of segue before an animated sequence, framing what you were about to see and then exiting stage left as the real action begins.

Using this show, as well as social media, merchandising, and even things like comic books and online/mobile gaming, the general public would be bombarded with all sorts of information to get them ready to experience this whole new world of wonder.

Stay tuned as next I will journey through the front gates of Wonderlands and into the park proper, looing at a wide angle lens view of the park as a whole and what lands, zones, islands, realms, dimensions, or worlds await beyond the turnstiles.