themed entertainment design

Hello Kitty Theme Park” 2011

Sanrio’s delightfully adorable feline friend, Hello Kitty, is an international kawaii icon who has been part of their character lineup since 1974. She is a multi-billion dollar brand, so, a theme park presence was a no-brainer. In addition to appearing at both Japan’s Sanrio Puroland and Sanrio Harmonyland, Hello Kitty now has her very own theme park in China. Shown here is a concept for the entrance plaza done by The Hettema Group. Although never built as such, the colorful art captures the fun, lovable style that has made Hello Kitty the cutest cat in town.

Art ©️ The Hettema Group

Main Street Hotel” Dorothea Redmond, 1968

Early on in development of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Imagineers were exploring the idea of having an in-park hotel for guests to stay at. The Main Street Hotel was planned to be a luxury Victorian hotel where guests could stay overnight at rooms above the shops of Main Street U.S.A. Considering that so much after-hours maintenance, cleaning, and more occurs every night, the logistical complexities proved too much to allow this concept to come to fruition. However, when Tokyo DisneySea was built in 2001, it featured Disney’s first, (and as of 2017, only) in-park hotel, which borders the entry land of Mediterranean Harbor.

Art ©️ Disney

Roaring Mountain

To finish off our Disney Mountains chapter, we end with a bonus post about Disney’s latest mountain at its newest resort.

We’ve previously taken a peek at the beastly Q’aráq, but today we profile Roaring Mountain, its mysterious home! Acting as the visual anchor of Adventure Isle, Shanghai Disneyland’s Roaring Mountain is home to both Roaring Rapids, a rapids attraction that takes guests on a journey to unravel the mystery of the mountain, and Camp Discovery, an exciting adventure trail where guests can take on rope courses, hike past waterfalls and unearth ancient relics. This beautiful peak continues the Disney tradition of combining stunning rockwork, storytelling and state-of-the-art attractions to create a can’t miss sight that will stick with guests long after they leave the park.

Art ©️ Disney

Map of Fortress Explorations”

Traditionally when the word “attraction” is thrown around, the assumption is that something is a ride. However, the term is equally applicable to other sights in a typical theme park, from walkthroughs and exhibits, to in-park adventures. Displayed here is a map of Tokyo DisneySea’s Fortress Explorations, an immersive, multi-level interactive exploration area on the coast of the park’s Mysterious Island land. Guests can go at their own pace, traversing turrets and towers and interacting with flying machines and navigation devices. Like Tom Sawyer Island, these kinds of spaces provide a different, but still-fulfilling themed experience for guests to take part in.

Art ©️ Disney

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad” Dan Goozee, 1978

Originally developed as part of the Thunder Mesa Walt Disney World project, the now-iconic Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction faced a surprisingly uphill climb before it could take guests on “the wildest ride in the wilderness!” Canceled with Thunder Mesa, shelved due to Space Mountain, redesigned for the west coast, the Big Thunder project finally opened nearly eight years after conception in Disneyland’s Frontierland. This runaway mine train coaster speeds through stalagmite-ridden caverns, past scenes inspired by the classic Disneyland attraction, Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland, through the western town of Rainbow Ridge, past buttes and spires, and through “active” mining sites. This beloved wild ride can found at the Disney resorts Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo.

Art ©️ Disney

Dragon Gliders

Although the colorful characters of the DreamWorks Animation canon are typically found in Universal Parks and Resorts worldwide, this winter brought these characters their own dedicated space in the newly-opened Motiongate Dubai theme park from Dubai Parks and Resorts. The all-indoors DreamWorks zone of the park features four distinct areas each based on the Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon franchises. When the Dragon area debuts later this winter, it will feature a suspended rollercoaster that sends guests on an exhilarating high-flying adventure through the Forbidden Islands alongside unlikely hero Hiccup and his dragon pal Toothless.

Art ©️ Entertainment Design Corporation & Dubai Parks and Resorts

Grizzly Peak

Upon opening in 2001, the second gate to Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure was lacking, to say the least, but one its biggest hits was the exciting Grizzly River Run rapids attraction. Winding through the 110-foot-tall Grizzly Peak mountain, the attraction anchors what is now the same-named Grizzly Peak land and sends guests on a rollicking white-water rafting adventure featuring drops, waterfalls and scenic views of a classic redwood forest setting.

Art ©️ Disney

Expedition Everest” Dan Goozee, 2002

While we’ve previously profiled the formidable, breakdown-prone Yeti of Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest, today we take a look at the attraction as a whole. Early on in development of this E-ticket thrill ride, there was hesitation to use the Everest theme. Unlike Disneyland’s Matterhorn or even Space Mountain, which was inspired by the aesthetics of Japan’s Mount Fuji, Imagineers questioned whether the profile of Mount Everest was distinctive enough to wow audiences. To solve this concern, Imagineer Joe Rohde suggested putting the mountain range itself in the background rather than making it the focal point. The foreground would be dressed with more enticing visual images, while the peaks would tower mysteriously beyond. What resulted was a stunning and layered landscape that draws curious and thrill-seeking guests to this Forbidden Mountain daily.

Art ©️ Disney