Fireside 2.1 ( Opposite Attractions: A Theme Park Design Show Blog Mon, 08 Jan 2018 20:00:00 -0500 Opposite Attractions: A Theme Park Design Show Blog en-us Disney's Wonderlands (Part 6: HQ Tour) Mon, 08 Jan 2018 20:00:00 -0500 e37b539b-0288-4e93-b073-3efbaf74bfcd A look at the second attraction in the central courtyard - a walking tour of the Headquarters themselves. Taking up the rest of the indoor area around the central courtyard not already taken by shops, food, and the theater attraction is what is simply known on park maps as "Tour The Headquarters". The actual amount of square footage for this attraction is fairly large, taking up the entire second floor of the main "U"-shaped building and some sections of the first floor (mainly the entrance, exit, and a few smaller exhibits.

The first floor exhibits will serve not only to help explain more of the backstory of the S.E.A., using both characters that are already known in other parks, but also connecting those characters to Alice (for anyone that hasn't seen or doesn't remember the Alice/S.E.A. media blitz from before the park opened) and also giving little hints toward what awaits in the back half of the park (for new visitors). Of course, this wouldn't be Disney without some in-jokes and hidden fun, so there would surely be those kinds of things peppered throughout this section as well. Guests would find maps, photos, and even 'artifacts' from Alice's travels through the titular Wonderlands.

After climbing the stairs, guests will enter an open space with rooms to the right and left. The left side will take guests above the theater queue and the main shopping area. At the entrance, guests will be given a map of the layout of this side of the tour, which also features a scavenger hunt/riddle solving bit as they move throughout the area. Here, with the help of the map, guests will get the story of the current Ombudsman of the S.E.A. HQ, Sir Wilton Flowers, who also serves as head of the S.E.A.'s Botany division. He is a tall, lanky man that is always seen in a top hat, slightly flattened and adorned with a (presumably plastic) sunflower. His face is perpetually dirty, but his actual clothes are spotless in all photographs, even when they should be a complete wreck. In one of the first displays, guests will find one of his used botanical aprons, torn to shreds and covered in dirt, and also a picture of him wearing the apron, again looking more like he just picked up and put it on for a laugh rather than did any work in it. In the same display is a reproduction of one of his trowels, his initials etched in the handle, and a replica of his most prized plant - a four foot tall dandelion named "DeeDee".

Wilton became the head of the HQ after all the other department heads called in sick to a meeting, including the person who was supposed to be giving the meeting, who called Wilton on the phone and broke the news to him. A set of framed photos on the wall shows the panicked look on Wilton's face as he receives the call - the photo having been taken by one of the interns. You can read a short transcript of the call, which mentions things like train whistles blowing in the distance and a female voice asking about a drink order while the S.E.A. chairperson mentions being trapped at the hospital for the foreseeable future.

Each other set of displays in this area covers many of the other departments not fully realized with attractions in other areas of the front of the park:

Space Travel - showing a model rocket made from a totem pole that obviously didn't get off the ground
Oceanography - some Nemo related paraphernalia for long-time Disney fans
Dream Exploration - Knick-knacks and props from the Dreamfinder.
Culinary Adventure - successes and failures of the resident chef of the S.E.A., including broccoli pizza
Plus more I haven't completely thought out yet. I'll add them here as I think them up. Probably want six to eight total.

Back in the center room, the right side will lead to a smaller, more secure-looking room that has a cast member at the entry way to only allow a certain number of people in at a time (around 20 or so). The wall will have the stereotypical appearance of a bank vault, with a large door that is slid open just far enough for people to get through, but no farther. Upon each group entering, the door will be slid closed and a three-or-so minute experience will occur where guests will come face to face with the portal Alice was able to use to move between the Wonderlands. The portal itself appears as though it could be walked through to a deeper room, only to suddenly 'turn on', the effect achieved by simply being a screen with the other room a static image that is suddenly filled with a colorful world, which will be somewhat random. Alice appears, shocked to be seeing people near the portal, only to then realize she has a tracker hidden on her person that the S.E.A. is using both for safety and to find her in order for her to explain how she created the portal, like "some kind of tour guide". She goes along with it though, explaining how she designed the portal before it suddenly malfunctions, causing some wind effects in the room as she bounces between various Disney universes, meeting some characters who seem shocked that she is there, before ending up in her own Wonderland with the Queen of Hearts threatening everyone - which leads to Alice destroying the tracker and shutting down the portal and sliding the vault door back open to allow the guests to exit as a few emergency lights flash around the room. The cast member that let you in the room comes in and turns off the alarm, remarking that it's a good thing they hid a couple extra trackers on Alice so they could keep an eye on her.

Guests will notice that during the tour, any wall where a window would look out toward the back half of the park is solid, with windows only looking out to the courtyards around the front areas of the park. This is to continue to keep those areas mostly a surprise for first time visitors.

In the next post, we will begin our tour around the rest of the front half of the park, starting with a deeper look at the side featuring the R&D and Residence areas of the HQ. Stay tuned.

Disney's Wonderlands (Part 5: Pete's Tapestry) Mon, 01 Jan 2018 21:00:00 -0500 33433608-42b0-459e-ace8-317f39615bd7 We take a more in depth look at one of the attractions you can find as part of the Central Courtyard of S.E.A. HQ - Pete's Tapestry In the left corner of the far side of the Courtyard, guests will find an archway above which is a beautiful sign that reads "Pete's Tapestry". Around the outside of the sign, however, are hastily painted and tacked up smaller signs full of apologies and a larger sign reading "What Really Happened" with arrows pointing toward the archway, inviting guests inside.

The queue looks like it was once fairly ornately decorated, but the areas closest to the walls are roped and partitioned off with caution signs similar to those out in the main courtyard. Decor remains smashed on the floor in places, and singe marks pepper the walls, as does various cleaning and decorating supplies (brooms, pans, paint cans, ladders, etc).

The cast members in the area mainly ignore the state the queue is in, and any inquiries as to it's current state are blamed on Pete, who has been busy working on a presentation to help better explain his side of the story as to what happened inside and outside the building.

Guests are taken into one of two presentation rooms, though from the main queue area this is not something that is easily recognizable (think the stretching rooms of the Haunted Mansion). Each room can handle around 40 guests, seated in five rows of eight. At the front of the room is a screen, though it is meant to look like a continuation of the room and featuring a stage with a lectern and a curtain behind it.

After being seated, Pete is seen walking onto the stage, dragging a mop, and moving to the lectern. He introduces himself, a younger member of the S.E.A. - basically an intern. He looks filthy, dressed in a white jumpsuit that has is stained with paint, dirt, and looks even slightly damp. He has a face mask pulled down around his neck. His hair is complete shambles. His eyes are bloodshot, as he begins speaking by explaining that the events spoken about in the attraction happened "a day or so ago" and he has not slept much since "the incident with the tapestry", which he introduces behind the curtain.

The tapestry is the width of the stage, and almost as tall as the curtain. It features a very large painting of a somewhat cartoonish dragon, smiling. He jokingly refers to it as "my dragon", but it is not in any way styled after either version of the film "Pete's Dragon". Upon seeing the smiling dragon, Pete exclaims "that isn't how I left you" and slowly begins to pull something from inside his white jumpsuit. The dragon on the tapestry begins to move, and becomes much more sinister looking. The theater shakes and slightly moves. The dragon begins to speak, and explains his side of the story. He states in a booming voice that Pete had trapped him inside the tapestry by using a gemstone, which Pete reveals from inside his jumpsuit. At the sight of the gem, the dragon panics and begins to fight against the tapestry's hold, the fabric moving along with the dragon's actions. Pete turns and tries to summon the power of the stone by moving it closer to the tapestry, but trips over his mop and falls off the stage. The dragon frees itself from the tapestry and begins to speak very elegantly about his imprisonment, showcasing himself as the same cartoon dragon he showed at the beginning and how he was magically brought to life, using the tapestry as a visual aid. The tapestry, and his image upon it, were created by an ancient people that gave him life through magic and allowed him to live outside the walls of the fabric, but his appearance scared the people and they were forced to trap him to the tapestry using the gemstone, which had been by his side in a dark cavern for centuries. He spent the time learning to adjust his appearance in the hopes someone would free him.

At this point, his cartoonish appearance once again fades, his voice becomes more sinister as and the truth of his existence - that he was an ancient evil trapped in the tapestry only to be accidentally reawakened by Pete on an archeological mission - comes out as he begins seemingly moving around the theater, causing even more 3D heat and movement effects. Pete had foiled his previous escape attempt two days prior by using the power of the gemstone, mainly because the dragon had let it slip that it was the only thing stopping him from truly escaping. He had made it as far as the courtyard the last time, but this time - he yells as wings appear from his back and he motions as though he is going to tear a hole in the ceiling - will be different. As he lets out one final roar to the audience, he is s suddenly caught in a ray of light from the gemstone, which sucks the dragon back into the tapestry, somehow freezing his body upside down and his face in a stark panic. Pete slowly stands back up from off-stage, holding the glistening gemstone high in the air as the light begins to fade. He looks even worse than he did at the start of his presentation, but is relieved that the dragon did not do near as much damage this time as it did last time. Pete is then interrupted by another S.E.A. member, who asks why he's showing their guests another of his dumb dragon paintings ("it's not even right side up!") and tells him to get back to cleaning up from that "unsanctioned party" he had in the courtyard. Pete and the other S.E.A. member both walk off the stage as the dragon watches and laughs at Pete, then gets the curtain closed on him. The stage area darkens, the theater lightens, and Pete can be heard from off-stage commenting that he needs to let the guests out of the theater by opening the doors, which are either to the right or left of the bottom of the theater, depending on which theater the guests are actually in.

Guests exit to a hallway to the outside of the theater and find themselves either closer to the merchandise side of the HQ's first floor, or nearer to the central breezeway and the entrance/exit to the walking tour, which is what will be discussed in the next post, coming soon! Stay tuned.

Disney's Wonderlands (Part 4: S.E.A. Headquarters Overview) Sat, 30 Dec 2017 10:00:00 -0500 4f977c82-6b97-43db-971b-9248426ae4df A small look at the front section of the park. The Park Entrance

Coming from your car or a bus, the front of Wonderlands would look largely unassuming, much in the same way that Animal Kingdom's entrance is just a chunk of turnstiles next to a parking lot the size of Rhode Island. The turnstile area would be a quirky combination of stark concrete and ornate decorations, though all of them would be marked or tagged or "replicas" and "for entrance decor only". Signage around the area would not use the Disney name as much as it would say things like "S.E.A.'s Wonderlands", similar to the signs around Pandora: The World Of Avatar. The space would be flat and open, with small merchandise and food stalls orbiting an open center, of which would feature an unusually large spot of charred ground, with slapdash fencing and security measures around it. Opposite the turnstiles would be a 50 foot tall gate with a hole blown through the bottom center of it, giving guests are archway to walk through about as wide as Main Street USA and around thirty feet tall. The gate will have similar security rigging in place to that of the charred ground, like something not very pleasant took place at some point in the past.

Beyond The Gate

On the other side of the gate, guests enter the Forecourt of the S.E.A. Headquarters. Surrounding the courtyard is a U-shaped building with breezeways going to the left, right, and forward. The space in the building closest to the gate would feature more shopping (to the left) and Guest Relations/Information (to the right). The building itself would look like someone was tasked to construct an art and history museum and accidentally did it inside out. Large unopened crates would be stacked near the gate, as though waiting to be opened and their wares displayed for visitors. Other crates may be spotted in corners or various other places around the courtyard.

The main attractions in this area would be a two story walking tour of the headquarters that would cover the entire second floor and the area between the central and right breezeways. The area between the central and left breezeways would house a motion-simulator/theater show explaining the busted gate and the charred spot by the entrance, both of which will get their own in-depth posts at a later date (as will all the attractions that may be mentioned here on out).

Outside The Courtyard

The left and right breezeways both lead to areas still inside the confines of the Headquarters - the right side opens to an area full of Research/Study and Residence buildings/attractions while the left side is for showcasing (and sometimes demonstrating) specific artifacts S.E.A. members have brought back from their travels. The layout would be somewhat similar to Epcot's Future World (as I discussed in a previous post) with separate larger pavilions each housing a main attraction as well as some minor attractions/exhibits and some shopping (because this is still Disney). All merchandise locations will be played under the guise that your purchases help fund travel, research, and potentially the payment of medical bills for the S.E.A.). The central breezeway leads to the back half of the park, the Wonderlands themselves. In this case, guests are not meant to be traveling to the specific lands themselves but are simply touring/experiencing replicas designed by the S.E.A. to give the best possible representation of their travels to the guests. This will not only help explain the various cast members one might find in <> or <> but also explain how a person might move between <> and <> by simply walking a few hundred feet even though one might be a more realistic space while its neighbor might be more animated.

Please note that the above contains redacted information because, well, I don't want to give away all the lands yet. At least I gave you a small hint at the end there.

Each side of the front half of the park will also contain pathways that will lead toward the back half of the park (again much like Future World) but will be smaller and more indirect paths (such as the path between Imagination and Canada/Test Track and Mexico in Epcot when they aren't selling food or the smoker's path between Tomorrowland and Storybook Circus in Fantasyland).

In the next post, I will continue to keep that back half of the park under wraps and begin the arduous task of explaining each attraction one will find in and around the Headquarters, starting with the tour and the theater show all wrapped up in one - mainly because the tour itself isn't so super-exciting. Stay tuned.

Disney's Wonderlands (Part 3: Layouts Matter) Fri, 10 Nov 2017 11:00:00 -0500 eea3856e-fc16-4b84-bbee-852a69127389 Because a circle is not a wheel. Layouts Matter

In thinking of how exactly I was going to lay out the attractions in Wonderlands, I started to ask myself what exactly I wanted to accomplish with the story and whether or not any of it really mattered in the long run. The short answer is "Yes it matters" as you can tell by the name of this post. The long answer is where things get a little weird.

Every Disneyland-like park (Anahiem, Orlando, Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris) uses a hub-and-spoke layout where guests walk down a spoke from the entrance to a central hub, and then can branch out to different areas of the park from that central point. Many other Disney parks have tended to ditch this layout, or at least modify it well beyond it's intended use. There may be some form of straightaway from the entrance that might go to a hub, but what happens then can be just about anything.

There are, though, other types of layouts out there. Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando are both in affect circles around water, forcing you to walk through everything if you wish to get to the back. This is the same for Epcot's World Showcase and is the main reason for the American Adventure to have it's place at the far end of the park, forcing the patriotic American fans to visit as many other countries as possible instead of staying in a red, white, and blue comfort zone anywhere else (note: the original plan was to have it as the entrance to the showcase, between Canada and Mexico). I do not consider these layouts to be bad, but they do have their disadvantages (it reminds me of supermarkets putting their milk as far from the front as possible so you have to walk by everything else to get it) but not enough for me to simply push them aside.

There is also the style of parks like Busch Gardens, which tend to be circles if they were drawn by someone who just drank a twelve pack of Busch (so it is probably some kind of subliminal marketing) or something like Cedar Point, which is pretty close to being just a straight line with seventy two different giant roller coasters on either side of it. That is not the kind of thing I want for Wonderlands.

Let's jump back to Disney's other two Florida parks. Hollywood Studios was originally built to be a thirty-one hour tram tour with a stunt show and some Muppets thrown around amongst the mandatory gift shops and restaurants. Once the tour fell apart, they had to improvise and what happened was essentially a total clustermouse of a theme park. I'm not saying it is difficult to get around in (though the construction walls don't currently help its case), but I am saying that if you are not exactly sure where you are going you might end up in the same pit they dumped the pieces to the Golden Girls house on the outskirts of Galaxy's Edge. Unless your goal is to spend all day around the Hollywood Tower Hotel, you might as well hire a sherpa from the Animal Kingdom. Speaking of, Animal Kingdom has quite a similar lay of the land as Universal Studios, being a fairly straight forward main pathway to one area with a circular path around a body of water jammed onto the side of it. Once again you feel that feeling of "I have to walk around a lot of water to get where I want to go" which again is not a dealbreaker and fairly easy to navigate, that is unless you are trying to find the non-Fastpass line to a waterfront nighttime show with floating flowers and water screens (ahem).

I don't hate the big lakes with attractions around them. I really don't. They are easy to navigate. That's great when you are on your fifth day of a theme park vacation and can barely remember where your nose is on your face. That being said I must fall back to Epcot's layout to find something satisfying for use in Wonderlands.

I call it the "H-O" layout and wonder how anyone can possibly get lost (though as a former Future World Cast Member I will tell you people can quite easily get lost) when the front of the park is a giant H (minus the turnstiles/Spaceship Earth section) and the back of the park is a giant "O" (minus the pathways linking the two together). Granted, it is hard to call the front an "H" as with all the construction and closures the path is more of a sideways "T" until the Guardians move in. Still, it should be impossible to get lost and this is how I want to lay out the S.E.A.'s headquarters at the front of my park.

Instead of Spaceship Earth, though, you get a more Main Street USA vibe as you walk into the park through high walled gates and into a courtyard somewhat reminiscent of Innoventions Plaza. Blocking your view of the titular wonderlands at the back of the park would be the main headquarters structure, which would not exactly envelope the entire area but still shield you everything that wasn't the front. There would be paths to the right and left to take you off to other S.E.A.-based attractions, restaurants, and shops that would again have the back half of the park as walled off from view as possible. I'm not going to talk here about what these attractions and such are, as those will be later posts, but just now that when guests feel they are ready they will walk through breezeways to paths leading to the "O" at the rear of the park, a lake not unlike World Showcase Lagoon, around which would be the so-called lands of wonder based around various Disney IPs that, again, I'm going to not mention right here.

My goal is to surround guests with the world of the S.E.A. as much as possible up front to at least try to give a storyline reason for why --redacted-- would ever be next to --redacted-- and still make any sense. Keeping the front half of the park themed to one thing (with variations based on characters housed in various attractions) fits my style of design more than trying to figure out what a bunch of flying carpets are doing next to a three week jungle boat cruise and a temple of some sort full of magic talking birds. And don't even get me started about whatever the heck is going on in Tomorrowland. Barbie in World Showcase makes more sense at this point.

Stay tuned as part four will begin a deeper dive into the HQ of the S.E.A., starting with the entrance area and moving into that main courtyard. Will there be a weenie? I'm not even sure yet (p.s. there will probably be a weenie).

Disney's Wonderlands (Part 2: The S.E.A.) Thu, 02 Nov 2017 21:00:00 -0400 cede49a4-c373-499c-bae7-0f5244bf33ab In Part 2 of Jim's quest to design a new WDW theme park, he plants a flag for the SEA. 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.

Disney's Wonderlands (Part 1: Backstory) Tue, 31 Oct 2017 21:00:00 -0400 69f667ce-cbe2-4c05-8627-9cfec1c52e13 Jim begins the path to a completed fifth gate at Walt Disney World by 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.

Imagining A 5th Gate at Walt Disney World Sat, 28 Oct 2017 20:00:00 -0400 d36e5656-bc72-47d9-ac95-8ccbefe79f51 Jim begins the long and arduous trek of blogging all his ideas for a fifth Walt Disney World theme park because it does not fit the confines of the podcast. This is an introduction. 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.