A faster map for Disney parks
I love going to Disney theme parks. Once, while in Florida, I enjoyed a day at the Magic Kingdom. This was the park map I got at the ticket booth:
Folded up, it's the size of a typical brochure. 3 unfolds later, it is a large map:
Each time I wanted to find the location of an attraction or the quickest route, I got frustrated having to go through the unfolding, turning, and folding ordeal. I knew what I wanted to go see, but had to pull out the big folding map, stop and turn or fold it to the applicable area. Several times during the day, I wished I had a simpler smaller map. One that I could easily and quickly access, even while walking around the park. At some rest stop that day, I assessed, made notes, and sketched a smaller, faster map. I dubbed it the FasMap to convey its value and to respect and connect with the FastPass system in place at the quelines of the rides. It shows only the major attractions and walkways. On the other side: promo info and resort map showing the other parks and areas.
Dates: Concept May 2005. Revisions, comp Febuary 2014.
Disney park guests are typically two distinct markets with different needs:
First-time or infrequent visitors: those who need to plan their day, peruse, learn, and want/need info, detail, descriptions.
Solution: The existing full map booklet or phone apps for leisurely reading and getting detailed info.
Repeat or regular visitors: those who need quick access to get somewhere, they want simple landmark icons and accurate walking routes.
Solution: A proposed pocket-size map that allows a quick glance to help the guest get to next major attraction or area. This FasMap could be a single card printed front & back or it could be a tear-off portion of the full map booklet.
• Can be accessed and read while walking
• Fits easily in pocket
• No unfolding
• Easy to read; few legends and little text
• Faster and easier than accessing the full map or an app
Side by side comparisons
Sketches and dummy
Property layout for Walt Disney World
Above right: The hotels around Seven Seas Lagoon.
Below: Entrance to the Magic Kingdom: walkway to the parking lot, tram station, and monorail station.
Parking lot in walking distance to Magic Kingdom
Initially it was a nice adventure to take the monorail or a ferry from the parking lot over to the entrance to the park. Then, as more attractions opened and guest's crammed more adventures into their day, the wait time to get to the park became more of a nuisance. Moving the lot matches the set up at the other parks, each with their own parking lots by their entrances. This plan would also decrease the passengers on the monorails and ferries across the lake. The monorails could then be repurposed for better inter-resort travel. The former parking lot could be used for additional hotels.
Additional hotels and resorts
The WDW experience is greatly enhanced when guests can stay on the property and travel by public transit to the attractions, shows, shopping and meals. Sitting in traffic at WDW is not much of an escape. More hotels could accommodate the demand and provide more budget opportunities for guests.
More extensive monorail system
One of the unique attractions at WDW is the smooth and quiet monorail that glides above the landscape and traffic. This should be expanded and exploited into a more thorough transit system. It should connect more hotels, all the parks, and Downtown Disney.
Dates: Concept and sketches May 2005 & 2009.
A Disney resort in the New York City area
The Disney Company has a large presence in New York City through their Broadway shows. And, while they have resorts in California, Florida, Hawaii, Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, there is nothing in the densely populated Northeast. They tried a while back with an American-themed park, but it was too close to sacred Civil War battlefields and raised too much opposition.
Cirque du Soleil has permanent shows in Las Vegas and Walt Disney World in Florida but nothing in NYC. They have mounted many shows in New York in a variety of venues. They, too would benefit from a permanent venue in the Big Apple.
Dates: Idea and sketches 2011. Presentation: 2013.
The concept: A vacation destination to appeal to the Disney fan with resort amenities, including an indoor/outdoor pool, waterfront location, and water sports; a permanent Cirque du Soleil showplace; and easy access to the Statue of Liberty, Disney on Broadway, and all that Manhattan has to offer. Much like resorts in Hawaii, Florida, California, and Asia; and on their cruise ships. The resort could even include Disney timeshare units and vacation packages before or after boarding a Disney Cruise ship.
But, a major problem for both Disney and Cirque is finding enough land in the city and then paying high Manhattan prices.
Solution: Build a resort in New Jersey. Yep, instead of being in the city, have a view of the city. Like Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the resort is located in and part of a major amusement park - New York City. Guests would take excursions into the city, but from a resort getaway on the water, a resort that has the safe, familiar, and comfortable Disney attitude and service.
Location: On the Hudson River waterfront between Jersey City and Hoboken, across the Hudson from Greenwich Village, between Downtown and Midtown. Two blocks off of Interstate 78 and US1, and a short way from I-95, allows easy freeway access and convenient highways from all 3 NYC airports. The red dots are, from top to bottom, Times Square, the new World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial, and the Statue of Liberty.
At the very northern boundary of Jersey City. The Erie Lackawanna train and ferry depot is at the top of the photo. Newport Mall and movie theaters are at the lower left.
The resort on the Jersey City waterfront. Below: Statue of Liberty on the far left.
Views of Midtown Manhattan and the Hudson River from the resort.
Activities at the resort
• Fireworks several times a week
• River watersports: paddle boats, kayaks, jet skis
• Bike rentals, waterfront bike path
• Indoor/outdoor pool and waterpark
• Cirque du Soleil
• Hotel restaurants, arcade, and theater
• Breakfast and dinner cruises
• River tour boats: Hudson Bay, loop around Manhattan
Activities nearby in New Jersey
• Newport Mall with movie theaters
• Light Rail: downtown Jersey City, PATH trains to Manhattan and Newark Airport, Liberty Science Museum, and Liberty Park
Ferries across the Hudson
• Times Square: Broadway shows, 3 or 4 are Disney musicals
• Midtown and Rockefeller Center
• Museums: The Met, MoMA, the Guggenheim, Natural History
• Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Museum of Immigration
• Downtown: WTC, Wall Street
• Brooklyn: the bridge, IKEA, waterfront park, Grimaldi's Pizza, Dumbo shops
• Plus, all of the other sights of New York City
• Liberty Science Museum, Airports, train stations, and Meadowlands sports arenas
Cirque du Soleil mounts amazing and popular shows that tour all over the world and have a permanent presence in Las Vegas and Walt Disney World. This NYC Disney show could have an urban, city theme and be integrated into the resort complex. The same ferries that transport resort guests would also ferry ticket holders from Manhattan to the resort venue.
Numerous ferries ply the Hudson River. Above right: How the waterfront might look.
Below: The Disney Aulani resort in Hawaii
The resort could pay homage to the days of Art Deco when NYC gained many of its classic skyscrapers: Empire State, Chrysler, GE, Chanin, etc. A rough rendering showing the Hotel towers (brown) and the Cirque arena (white) and the expanded riverfront beach and boardwalk. Sketches:
The genius of Walt Disney
At age 23 - Walt Disney moved to Los Angeles and founded Disney Brothers. One of their first successes was the Alice Comedies - with the gimmick of combining live action and animation. The producer suggested a cute rabbit. Walt draws and names him Oswald. The president of the distribution company invites Walt to NY to discuss renewing the distribution contract, but swipes Disney's animators and reminds Walt that he had signed away the rights to the character. On the train back to California, Walt vowed to keep better control of his ideas and his work. He sketched a new character, based on Oswald the Rabbit; he shortened the ears to ovals, defluffed the tail, and called him Mortimer. His wife, Lillian didn't like Mortimer and she recommended naming him Mickey (she didn't mention at that time that Mickey was the name of her ex-boyfriend.)
The first cartoon starring Mickey Mouse was Plane Crazy. In 1928: the first cartoon with sound was Steamboat Willie. His next project was Silly Symphonies, merging music and animation. Distributors weren't too enthusiastic so Walt presented them as 'Mickey Mouse presents Silly Symphonies'. They were the first cartoons in color.
1936-37: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs cost 1 million to make and earned 8 million (at (25 cents for an adult ticket). That profit funded the new Disney Studios in Burbank. Snow White was a struggle - doctors claimed that people would hurt their eyes if they watched a full-length cartoon, bankers didn't think people would sit through a cartoon that was that long. If the price of movie ticket and the value of a dollar were equalized since then, Snow White would be the second highest-grossing film of all time (Gone With the Wind would be number one).
July 17, 1955: Disneyland opens. Walt's dream - a place where children and adults can enjoy a park together. Clean, safe, and comfortable (that's why we enter down a familiar and comfortable small-town Main Street).
Concern over whether East Coast people would accept a second Disney park in Florida was satisfied when Disney built 4 attractions for the World's Fair in New York City in 1964. To avoid the peripheral schlock that sprang up around Disneyland, WED bought large acreage near Orlando, Florida, under the name of 'Project X'. They set up 'dummy' companies to purchase the land so as not to give away the Disney name (which would cause higher prices). M.T. Lott was one such name. They paid $80/acre until the Orlando newspaper broke the story, then the land sold for $80,000/acre. The last few parcels of land cost about the same as the previous large bulk. It was to be called Disneyworld (like Disneyland) but Walt died before it opened and brother Roy changed the name and insisted it be called Walt Disney World to honor Walt.
Examples of forced perspective - diminishing window sizes to suggest greater height.
Some highlights of Walt Disney World
• Downtown Disney, companies that are admired by Disney and invited to participate: the absolutely phenomenal La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil; restaurants from Gloria Estefan and Wolfgang Puck; shops; clubs; and theaters.
• Resort hotels: 17 properties, 25,000 rooms (as of May, 2005). Grand Floridian, the spectacular Wilderness Lodge with a the soaring lodge lobby. The design of the lodge is timber and rocks - straight from the National Park lodges in Southern Utah and the Rockies.
• Magic Kingdom: Main Street, Adventureland, Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, Liberty Square, Haunted Mansion, Tomorrowland, Mickey's ToonTown, Mickey's Philharmagic, Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean.
• Epcot: technology pavilions and country lands.
• Disney Studios. The Great Movie ride (sorta hokey), Tower of Terror (excellent attraction), backlot tour (so-so), One Man's Dream - the Walt Disney story with artifacts and a great movie, the excellently awesome Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Mickey's Fantasmic show.
• Animal Kingdom: 3-D bugs life film, Maharajah Jungle Trek, Kilimanjaro Safari journey, and Festival of the Lion King show.
Some quotes from Walt
"When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. And one thing it takes to accomplish something is courage."
"Somehow I can't believe there are any heights that can't be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C's. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy and the greatest of these is Confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably."
"Whenever I go on a ride, I'm always thinking of how it can be improved."
Storytelling - Walt was a master at creating a synopsis. His mastery is carried on today - attractions, stores, and restaurants each follow thorough storylines. We humanoids love stories - they provide interest, empathy, life, connections, socializing.
Attention to detail - the smallest element in the parks will have been thoroughly thought out and executed with finesse. There is no public rest room in Liberty Square because those didn't exist at that time. The restraunts have restrooms but they are technically in other adjoining lands.
Innovation and exploration - Walt stayed ahead of the technology curve by envisioning attractions and films and then challenging the staff to make them happen.
Lures - Walt called them 'wieners' At the end of each major street is a lure or enticement (the castle, rockets, buildings, etc.) that pulls you in to that area. Such barbs are used to grab a viewer/reader's mind.
Maintain control of production - burned by the "theft" of the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (which led to Mickey)
Control view/viewer - provide planned vistas, signage, trash cans
Cast member keys to success: Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency
Some wisdom from Walt Disney
When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.
Somehow I can't believe there are any heights that can't be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C's. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy and the greatest of these is Confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.
Whenever I go on a ride, I'm always thinking of how it can be improved.
Statue of Walt and Mickey at WDW. The Team Disney Animation building in Florida.
Walt's favorite attraction: The Jungle Cruise. He wanted live animals but was told that they would be sleepy in the afternoon sun and that it would not be easy to control their whereabouts. So, Walt set out to develop animatronic animals that would perform on cue, all day long.
Some notes made while sitting at Disneyland
What a phenomenal place, manufactured to be comfortable, satisfying, and exciting. I enjoyed it on several levels: reminiscing about visiting it for the first time in 1956 with the family - I could spot the locations where we had taken pictures of the three boys; appreciating the attention to detail, storytelling, and craftsmanship of the Disney imagineers; and just having fun.
In LA, I took a walk in Walt's footsteps: houses and early studios. An incredible experience. Walt Disney is one of my role models, a mentor - his imagination, vision, talent, and persuasiveness to get things accomplished. I had been a fan since watching the Disneyland TV show, visiting Disneyland in 1956, watching the Mickey Mouse Club, and enjoying his many movies. So, here I was in LA at the site of his first home (he moved in with an uncle after he moved west from Kansas City) and three blocks down the street was the first storefront studio that he and his brother Roy opened - Disney Bros. Studio. I walked those three blocks twice seeing houses that Walt saw, wondering what his imagination was thinking while he made that walk every day.
In Griffith Park, I saw the carousel where Walt sat and watched his daughters ride in the early 1950s. It was amazing to be in the same spot, almost unchanged, where he was inspired to create Disneyland. I drove the route he probably took from his home to the park.
Below: The studio during Mickey, Alice, and Snow White:
Above: 1955 and 2009. Below: 1956 and Overlay of 1955 and 2005 maps. More maps.