The conceptual park plans I share here are often very large and non-site-specific. This time, however, I had fun considering what an actual 3rd Gate in Anaheim could be, given the many factors surrounding the property, such as available land and sight-line issues.
ACCESSIBILITY & SIZE
In total footprint, both Disneyland and DCA are modestly-sized theme parks (and on the small-side by IdealBuildout standards). Since the total land available for the 3rd Gate in Anaheim is about equal to that of a built-out DCA and smaller than Disneyland (I used only currently-owned land for the park itself), a first priority was to give as much of the plot as possible to ‘on-stage’ themed areas & rides (DCA also has minimal backstage areas compared to DL or other parks) and none of it for parking. In the wider Master Development Plan (not yet drawn), the GardenWalk outdoor mall would be acquired (and re-dressed) as a 2nd Downtown Disney-type area and would serve as the (possibly-themed) retail approach to the 3rd Gate. Just north of GardenWalk, an over-road plaza would connect to a huge multi-level parking structure (built over the current surface lot) with moving walkways or other connections extending to the main Resort Promenade where the DL & DCA gates are. To compensate for parking lost to the new park (and to accommodate increased guest capacity), surface lots elsewhere on property would need to be replaced with larger garages. The logistical challenges of access, parking, connectivity and backstage facilities are numerous and interesting - and may be subject of a future, wider plan, but, for now, onto the fun stuff, the park itself:
BERMS & SIGHT-LINES
An Achilles heal for DCA was/is the outside visual intrusions (e.g. freeway hotels), mostly seen from wide vistas throughout north & eastern Paradise Pier. To achieve the escapism that is the goal of a Tier I theme park, I believe it is essential to minimize (and if possible, eliminate) these kinds of visual intrusions. Once grown in, DL’s forested berms achieved this insulating affect well. However, with the limited land available to DCA and the 3rd Gate, a wide berm is an unaffordable luxury. Very smartly, the Cadillac Rage was built in DCA to serve as a partial berm, creating a breathtaking vista rather than one that allows visitors views of the mundane outside world.
So more important than the interchangeable themes and contents of the lands of the 3rd Gate, was the need to make it feel insular and handle the very difficult sight-line issues of having un-themed mid-rise hotels directly adjacent to it (north and west). My solution:
(i) Create a monumental central icon, in this case a large, tall ‘mountain’ which serves as the canvas and showbuilding to multiple attractions and is integral to all lands, always drawing the eye inwards and upwards.
(ii) Avoid any long, straightaway views towards the outside of the park (such as looking across Paradise Bay in DCA to what is beyond the park’s border). This is achieved through bending, undulating pathways.
(iii) Let the attractions (such as Radiator Springs Racers did for DCA) and their showbuildings form a berm. A number of the attractions I placed here have mountainous facades as part of their exterior theme-ing. One area is a cityscape, where miniatures on the roofs of showbuildings could add depth to the land’s vistas, as well block outside visual intrusions.
I wanted the park’s general layout to differ from DL’s hub-spoke and DCA’s multi-loops in order to make it feel unique. I used a single loop, flowing organically from the gate both southeast and southwest, encircling the central mountain.
THEME & CONTENTS
I’ve heard Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm IP discussed as subject matters for Anaheim’s 3rd Gate, but with Star Wars and Indiana Jones already well-represented in DL (and Stark Expo rumored on the way) and DCA being heavily-Pixar, I came up with something original, not connected to any previously-established IP. DISNEY'S LOST REALMS would be four lands (a park of modest size) and at least one of them needed a semi-futuristic or mechanical theme because a Monorail station (coming through DCA and returning to Tomorrowland) would be located there. Land genres ought to be:
(i) well-suited for theme park adaptation (e.g. CloudWord would not be well-suited),
(ii) un- or lightly-represented in the current Anaheim parks,
(iii) broad enough to allow for a multitude of switch-outs or additions without damaging established themes, and
(iv) able to serve as the canvas for park-wide interactive adventures.
Rather than a multitude of smaller carnival spinners or simple dark rides, I opted for fewer but larger, longer and more elaborate attractions. Helping to eat up a visitor's day would be two or three large scale and long theatrical special fx/stunt productions, for which seats/times would be reserved in advance (and included in park admission). For example, there is a ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ style arena show, that would take up almost two hours of time (15 minutes for arrival/seating, 15 for warm-up and 1h15m main show).
A WALK THROUGH THE PARK
One approaches the park through GardenWalk, which is narrow enough and slants southeastward as to hide the park’s big reveal (Mt. Kronos) until one crosses the landscaped bridge to the entry plaza. From the visitors perspective the Entry Plaza is split down the center, thematically, with the left being a slightly dilapidated medieval Arabian city with desert palms and the right, an alternate world, crank & gears, steampunk urban environment. Mt. Kronos, vaster than TDS’s Prometheus and as tall as allowed by regs, is the overpowering central visual feature & icon of the park. Kronos holds two major thrill rides, a minor walkthrough attraction and is the backdrop to the park’s Fantasmic/WoC equivalent day-ending lagoon show. Past the gates, the plaza gently descends to this lagoon-fronting amphitheater. On the STEAMPUNK CITY side of the lagoon, the park’s flagship restaurant sits, with upper level patio dining giving full view of the night-time spectacular. Since there is one steampunk attraction at DL (Orbitron), in conjunction with this 3rd park, perhaps it could be set back on the central Tomorrowland podium and re-themed to whatever vision of the future that land would have by the time this park were to open (so as not to overlap). Steampunk City would be the retro-futuristic, quasi-historical urban area of Air Ships, clockwork automotons, etc., with a family dirigible suspended darkride, an indoor, inverted launch coaster on a slightly bigger scale than Rock n Rollercoaster, and be anchored by a high-tech, multi-sensory (sets/screens/AAs) thrill ride featuring a new mythos (thinking Star Wars epic but in a spring & cog kind of setting). These types of original attractions that populate the park, if well-crafted, could springboard into tentpole motion pictures as PotC did (and HM was supposed to).
Traveling past the giant Zodiac Dome (coaster housing), adventurers enter the dark forests of DRAGONDALE and pass under a crumbling castle gate. This is where the Lost Realms presents its own, Middle Earth-style, sword and sorcery mythology. Housed in Mount Kronos is a higher capacity (12 person boats) splash-down flume with AA dragons and a variety of show-scenes. There would also be a kiddie-area on the scale of A Bug’s Land and themed to the forest sprites’ glade. One of the aforementioned very long (hour+), reserved(free) theatrical presentations would be a new take on the Medieval Times dinner show that many of us may have experienced in various cities, this time in an open-air castle amphitheater and enjoying the budgets, special fx and design skills that TWDC/WDI can bring to the table.
The third land would be all about prehistoric Earth and ostensibly take place in a wild refuge where both dinosaurs and Ice Age mammals survived the passing of epochs. Where there is a need for human technology (such as the coaster train or Base Camp Grill) it is done in the early 19th C. explorer-era style ('the present' should be avoided in theme parks). The land features some real-world educational content in a heavily-fantasy-based park. In this area there is a potential connection to a future Pixar property (don’t know much about the upcoming dinosaur film) or, as I’ve hereto avoided any pre-established IP, it could be an original family dark-ride. With this land, the Primeval World section of the DL RR could be changed out for something fresh.
The final land would be a romanticized Middle Eastern city set around the Middle Ages (9th-14th centuries) (8th Century Moorish-Cordoba influenced, maybe) with stone walls, domes and minarets. An equivalent to PotC would take riders on a voyage through the Tales of 1,001 Nights and the major restaurant here (Waterfalls) would have views onto portions of the ride (Blue Bayou-style). On the central lagoon would be an Old Lighthouse and a fortres housing the Sultan’s Dhow (a ship would that would feature in the night-time spectacular). The spires and narrow backwater marketplace streets would help block the mid-rise hotel outside the park and a D-ticket indoor/outdoor coaster with desert rockwork would also help to insulate this section of the park. There could be a place for an Aladdin suspended dark ride in the Agrabah-like streets.
So there it is. A modest park compared to the ones I've recently posted, but, again, the purpose here was more to illustrate how a full-day/tier I park might fit on the small, unusually-shaped and off-site remaining parcel.