The other DHS thread was asking for ideas for the park, so I thought about it and put together this conceptual site plan for how I think the park could be developed:
This plan takes the actual Studios park as it exists, puts out the last embers of the dying “working studios” concept, adds a couple billion dollars of new attractions and placemaking, and lets the phoenix of a movie adventure park rise from the ashes.
The new underlying theme is “entering filmic worlds”, so rather than feeling like a collection of lightly themed soundstages in a studios setting, this park aims to create compelling, transportative worlds in distinct, strongly-themed lands (like a Magic Kingdom):
GOLDEN AGE HOLLYWOOD: This is an area that the Studios currently does pretty successfully. Of course, the first order of business is to remove The Hat (and drop it in the Mariana Trench) so that the Chinese Theater resumes its place as the visual landmark at the end of the boulevard (and symbolizes the park). In order to bring the entire land into the 1930s/40s/50s fold, American Idol would be replaced with Cinemagic (in an Art Deco theater setting).
GANGSTERLAND: Continuing the 1930s/40s period, RocknRollercoaster would be rethemed to a gangster getaway. I added a shooter cops&robbers chase ride in the vein of the cancelled Dick Tracy attraction. There is a speakeasy dining facility with in-character staff.
WALT DISNEY ANIMATION: One Man’s Dream had to go away in order to open up walking paths and make the park more navigable (and not a maze of narrow alleys and right angles), but I kept part of the building to become Animators Palette. The Mermaid theater could become a rotating puppet/fx theater with the shows changing out annually (e.g., 2012 Princess Frog, 2013 Beauty Beast (removed from Sunset Blvd), 2014 Aladdin, etc.) . I think old Animation Studio exhibits could serve as the queue for a family omnimover through scenes of the Disney classics (an animated Great Movie Ride).
LUCASLAND: This land is bifurcated (yup) into a southern Indiana Jones section and the northern Star Wars section. The Monster Sound building is rethemed to an indoor Jedi Training Academy to incorporate more SFX. I added Yoda’s Dagobah hut as a Living Character Initiative (LCI) walkthrough experience. The exterior of the Star Tours building is made to like a space port as this is no longer a studios/soundstage experience – you are ostensibly in the world of Star Wars. The exit shop goes back to being the Endor bunker, because the Mos Eisley environment moves towards the expanded area where there is a recreation of the Cantina (Studios Drive is moved a few hundred yards westward for this plan). The major new ride is inspired by those online patent plans for an indoor dueling, shooter coaster – recreating an X-wing/Tie Fighter dogfight over the Death Star. A ride like this requires an enormous show-building. I added a Speeder dumbo for little kids since the park lacks these kinds of things and the other two Star Wars rides are fairly intense.
The Indy Stunt Show would be re-worked to no longer be an exhibition of how film stunts are done, but an actual real-time unfolding story (no “Cut! Check the Gate!”) with a new story. In order to help meld the Star Wars architecture with the Indy stuff, I chose the theme of Atlantis for the EMV attraction. An Atlantean temple could be fairly alien-like and look comfortable next to the Star Wars universe.
MUPPET STUDIOS: Muppets get the long-deserved comedic AA ride along with the Gonzo pizza place and a live Muppet concert in the old Backlot Theater.
MARVEL SUPERHERO CITY: The skyscraper flats are moved to the top of the land to give a better, more dramatic entrance to the land. From within the land the City Streets are not distinguishable as facades (again, the idea is that you are "in worlds of the movies", not "where the movies are made"). Motors Action is rethemed to Marvel Superheroes (Punisher too violent?) and given an indoor, city-like queue (so guests can’t see the backstage workings of the show, to the above point). There are new major attractions themed to your pick of Marvel heroes… I imagined an X-men scoop style ride and a Pandora’s Box ride themed to the Fantastic Four.
PIXAR PLACE: A kuka Incredibles ride makes for a smooth transition from Superhero City. Honey I Shrunk the Playset gets the obvious, easy re-theme to Bugs. Monsters Inc coaster goes in. Finally, I added Gusteau’s a French restaurant with a LCI Remy.
MIDDLE EARTH: There are four reasons why I chose this theme to take up most of the old backlot. 1. It’s one big film franchise (on the scale of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, etc.) that has yet to receive theme park treatment. 2. Fantasy (Sword & Sorcery) is a fairly popular film genre that has no representation in the park. 3. The park is very urban; so for balance it needs a winding, rolling green area with vistas, water features and lots of rockwork and trees. 4. This land serves as an outer rim that connects Sunset Blvd to Pixar Place, helping make the park more navigable.
Entering from the Hub, guests experience The Shire, coming upon the village of Hobbiton, where they can dine at the Green Dragon Tavern or explore Bag End. Making up for the lack of rides for children in the current DHS, this land features a spinner, a ferris wheel (like Old Mill in Paris) and a gentle outdoor boat ride through landscapes of Middle Earth (Storybookland Canal Boats meets Sinbad).
The forest turns sinister as guests make their way through Mirkwood towards Dol Gulder and attempt to discover the secrets of the Necromancer in a thrilling ride. Further on are some Rivendell-style buildings housing a dining venue and the boarding area for a flume adventure involving a huge, fire-breathing AA dragon. The Lonely Mountain serves as both an impressive weenie in itself and a way to hide the gangster (formerly Aerosmith) rollercoaster building from view.