Adventureland (along with most of the west of Disneyland) is one of my favorite lands in any Disney park and I’ve always wanted to see what could happen if it was taken to the nth degree. So I’ve been working on a fictional one that has everything I’d like to see in it – as well as any land. There’s a lot of elevation changes happening, and stuff that overlaps, and I love it. I haven’t worked on this as much as I have the Jolly Holiday project, but I do have some overviews, and I’ll copy and paste from a document I made detailing all of what it includes.
Welcome to Adventureland -at least that’s what the locals call it. Rediscovered in the late 1800’s by members of the Society of Adventurers and Explorers on an expedition to find a sacred lost temple, the land has served as their retreat ever since. The explorers were shocked to find the remains of an ancient bazaar situated in the middle of an island in the rainforest where all the world’s rivers come together. While they found no evidence of anyone currently living in the area, (perhaps it was the steaming volcano at the water’s edge that scared them off) it was clear that a variety of settlers and peoples had called the island their home over the centuries – leaving it dotted with a wealth of rich history. The remains of ancient buildings are retrofitted two or three times over with the detritus of all the cultures that have visited or made the place their home over the centuries.
The Society now welcomes tourists to visit the island as they share their love of exploring, adventure, and history with the world. The temple was found: an entrance to a maze of underground caverns and chambers with expeditions continuing on to this day. Of course, certain parts of the village might remain off limits to all but members in good standing – or those that dare explore and find what mysteries might await. Rumors abound about enchanted bird spirits, the ghosts of pirates, and cursed hidden treasures – not to mention the threat of angering the sacred gods said to keep the wrath of Fire Mountain at bay.
No doubt those are just legends. Right?
The entrance to Adventureland is lush and nearly hidden. It’s at the mouth of a dense rainforest and as the path curves away to the left all that is immediately visible are trees and perhaps the silhouette of some structure in them. What looks like the remains of some small pagodas frame the path on either side containing food, beverage, and merchandise stalls in their interior.
As we approach the giant tress in front of us (a species related to Disneyodendron) the outlines of a what can only be called a treehouse can be seen in upper branches. Numerous wooden and metal structures have been created in the branches, linked with a variety of bridges, elevators, moving arms, gears, ropes, and other gadgets. This is where the first members of the first party of explorers made their base, before they were able to cross the river, and it’s just been used and expanded ever since for any purpose one can imagine: checkpoint, lodging, playground, laboratory, lookout, communications, it’s been used for all. The structure is filled with contraptions to use, buttons to push, effects to trigger, scary bridges to climb, elevators to ride, and more. (Think an adventure course with many more elements combined with something along the lines of an in theme park game)
Walking only a little bit further into the land on the opposite side of the path, nestled between the trees and the edge of a small cliff bordering the river stands a tall thatched terraced pagoda. Coming into view behind it, an enormous volcano can be seen steaming in the distance. A monument to the bird spirits of the island said to tame the wrath of the fire God, the birds of the island still make it their home. It’s said that their beautiful singing can makes the interior come alive in festivities and that indeed too much of it causes storms. A beautiful waterfall cascades behind the building, past the pavilion that leads into it, and down into the river below. (A much darker and more special effects driven version of the classic tiki room).
Venturing further into the jungle the vegetation becomes denser and we approach a large stone bridge – built by the society to allow easy access to the island. Below us small steam powered launches can be seen cruising the river and approaching the main dock of the island where tourists wait to sail the mouth of all the world’s rivers in one trip and take in the wildlife. The path makes a sharp right and curves into the bazaar.
5A & 5B
Coming around the bend we enter the bazaar, the heart of the settlement. It is here that explorers and adventurers from all over the world come to share stories, treasures, and wares. It’s busy, chaotic. Buildings jut at odd angles, trees sprout up from the middle of town growing through the canopies that hang overhead. Street vendors line the paths and tiny shops have their merchandise spilling out onto the street. It might be easy to get lost here if one ventured far enough back.
On the left a large canteen has been established inside a covered courtyard, and the hot spot of the more well to do members of the society, The Adventures Club, sits next door.
To the right of the bazaar the path descends to the edge of the river where a large dock sits. Here steam powered launches set off cruising the waterways of the world that surround the island.
Venturing towards the back of the bazaar, the trees start to grow in thick again as we enter a bamboo forest. It is here that the temple that started it all awaits. It is a modest structure, barely twenty feet tall and with a doorway barely wide enough for two people to stand in side by side. The trees dwarf it and it could easily be missed were it not for the steady stream of people heading inside. Excavation equipment lies around outside – the hum of gas generators can be heard as the work lights flicker. Inside, the still ongoing archeology project is a marvel to behold. Caverns and chambers encompass the entire underground of the island, maybe more, as more are found all the time. It’s so large jeep transports are used to get around. Just beware not to disturb any of the treasures.
Back at the edge of the bazaar the facade of a large abandoned fort looms on the other side of the river. A bridge leads directly towards it. The bowels of the fort are flooded and some explorers have taken it upon themselves to cruise the catacombs and dungeons searching for the souls of the pirates that used to roam the waters nearby. For the less adventurous, a beautiful meal prepared by the club’s executive chef can be had inside the less disturbing parts of the fort, watching the boats go by.
Exiting the bazaar, we cross another bridge across the widest point of the river, again looking at the steamboats cruise beneath us. From the bridge the enormity of the Volcano can finally be realized. It casts a shadow over the river and the heat of the slowly bubbling lava at its summit can be felt every time a little burst escapes upward into the sky. The wind whistling through it’s many openings carrys the screams of the tourists who dare ride the speeding, now otherwise purposeless, boring machines designed to build the tunnels that capture the geothermal steam that powers the island. Each ride tempts fate as it gets dangerously close to boiling pools of lava in the depths of the volcano and risks an eruption by testing the patience of the rumored fire god that watches over.
As we venture further towards fire mountain, the main path keeps a safe distance away. Numerous signs warn us to keep away, that the area is for designated explorers only. Small paths descend and twist sharply off the main trail down the ragged burnt orange rocks into to the tunnels below. Its an adventure that can only be taken at your own risk.
Throughout Adventureland, small paths dart off from the main thoroughfares. Some lead to nice views of the beautiful natural landscape, others might take you someplace you never expected to end up – perhaps a shortcut to fire mountain, a rope bridge over the river, or maybe a bioluminescent underground lake. The land is yours to explore and discover all the amazing sights that might await you. In the future, maybe one of those paths even leads to a whole new attraction. You’ll just have to keep exploring.
The idea of this version of Adventureland centers around it being constructed on and around an island. The river of the jungle cruise surrounds this island, with this central area (the “bazaar”) as a hub leading to all the attractions in the area. The land is intended to be a hodgepodge of cultures and aesthetics ranging from around the world reflecting the idea that it exists in a place that is connected to all other places. Potential inspirations include Cairo, Morocco, Colonial Spanish, Istanbul, as well as Aztec and Mayan influences. Overlaying this are elements of the early industrial revolution as members of the Society of Adventures and Explorers have laid claim and made it their own. Elements of iron work, steam power, ropes, pulleys, burgeoning use of electricity, etc.
The land is heavily rooted in a backstory of mysticism – substantially more so than any adventureland built previously. The entire island is filled with supernatural energy, conflicts between good and evil spirits, ghosts, nature sprites, all just barely hidden and waiting to pop out. The atmosphere tingles. The volcano steams and oozes, the caverns are cold and filled with mist and colors, in the tiki room a full hurricane envelopes the room with wind and water as one of the earth goddesses materializes to squelch the wrath of the fire god. It’s a land as mythical as it is adventurous. Although, as the society is comprised of top inventors, scientists, and historians they would never indulge such notions. Or would they? There’s always that wink in their eye; maybe they know a bit more about this than they wish to admit.
The structure of the land itself is extremely dense and intimate. The jungle cruise surrounds the majority of the walkable portion of the land. A hidden service road cuts over an indoor temple portion of the cruise and provides backstage access to the complex. The island itself is built on two levels. The top level being street level – providing access to the shops, restaurants, and the temple ride with the lower level being made up mostly of additional space for the temple show building, perhaps a few areas for the exploration paths, and some small amounts of service space (kitchens, breakrooms, storage). The dock of the jungle cruise is also on the lower level, the path descends down to it with no second level present in that area.
On the other side of the river are two of the four major attractions: Pirates and Fire Mountain. Access to these is provided by bridges that go over the river, and an additional, somewhat smaller and out of the way path that connects the two together preventing a dead end at pirates. A dead end is somewhat alleviated at the temple ride by placing the exit further forward on a different street and exiting into the bazaar.
List of Attractions:
An interactive game combined with an adventure course that features many physical special effects, moving walkways, etc. Requires a moderate level of physical exertion and is not appropriate for all guests. A version of the game takes place on ground level (perhaps on one of the exploration paths instead) for guests needing special assistance.
Enchanted Tiki Room
An animatronic/special effects show featuring the birds and nature sprites of the island. All the core elements (earth, wind, air, and fire) make appearances. There is music, and the classic song, but there the similarities end diverging into a spectacular ceremony harnessing and celebrating the forces of nature. The room completely comes alive using every trick in the book – plants move and grow, the totems talk, projection mapping is used extensively in tandem with physical moving pieces. Characters appear from the least expected of places. Even the very walls of the building breath.The birds take a backseat, functioning more as hosts, as full animatronic versions of several nature spirits make an appearance with the climax of the show featuring a brief appearance of the fire god (perhaps he comes from above and sets the thatched building ablaze – including of course a brief appearance of actual fire either above or around) before a fierce thunderstorm is summoned that envelopes the audience with strong wind, water, and sound effects in addition to some clever use of moving scenery, scrims, projection, and such to make it look as if the room is literally being torn apart. Finally all comes to a rest and perhaps the birds sing again joyously, “Farewell and Aloha to you”. Two separate theaters to improve capacity – the first theater being located in the facade and the other directly behind it with central entrances and exits.
Untitled Temple/Jeep/ EMV Ride
More or less the Indiana Jones adventure – with a focus on cursed treasure (not unlike a Cave of Wonders scenario). A jeep takes you on a wild expedition through the temple – the more special effects the better, though this experience is really mostly about the thrills of the jeep EMV, close calls, tight spaces, and scale of the environment more than anything.
The classic jungle cruise, albeit with touch more mystical flair. Expect some water cannons, and ideally a ride system that could allow the boat to have a harrowing encounter with a whirlpool, but mostly a jungle cruise that would be familiar to anyone – complete with corny jokes. The one key difference with this version of the cruise is how much of it takes place not in the wilds, but around the banks of the settlement, under bridges, etc.
Canteen (or Adventurers Club)
Quick service restaurant attached to a tapas lounge. I’d personally advocate for keeping it like that with the rooms themselves having various quirky or interactive features. However, knowing how popular the original Adventurers Club was perhaps a more faithful revival of it complete with various members of the society for adventurers and explorers might be appropriate.
Ghost Pirate Adventure (working title)
A mix of old and new. Best conceived as what if the entirety of Pirates of the Caribbean took place in the caves and dungeons underneath an abandoned fort. As you move further into it’s bowels the ghosts bring the memories of their glory days alive. A mostly gentle boat ride with a ride system that allows slightly more freedom of movement (think boats moving sideways, not always taking the exact same path, being able to float side by side). In this version of Pirates, it is the ghosts of pirates past we’re experiencing – the tone is more ethereal, the palate more blue, and instead of just a normal pirate ship battle scene – this time it can be a literal ghost ship. It also features a combination of tableau style scenes familiar to anyone who’s ridden the classic attraction along with more modern, highly choreographed in your face scenes (the climatic battle being one of those).
A restaurant is also present in the fort, and provides a great view of the boats traveling by before they enter the catacombs.
A high thrill, high speed, indoor/outdoor ride on a tunnel boring machine through the lava tubes of the Volcano known by the locals as Fire Mountain. Small high speed portions of the ride take place on various ledges and cavern openings on the sides of the structure though the majority of it takes place in a show building hidden from view. What starts out as some fun adrenaline seeking quickly takes a turn for the worst as the fire god is angered. At the climax the vehicle narrowly avoids falling into the center of the volcano after a tsunami of lava is set upon it, escaping only by erupting out the top.
Throughout the land several narrow trails wind around, through, underneath, and above the surrounding scenery – usually wedged in the small foliaged spaces between different attractions, making ample use of elevation changes. These are unmarked trails visitors are encouraged to take at their own pace and discover on their own. They might encounter great photo opportunities of the lush landscape, get to walk over the river on a rickety rope bridge, find shortcuts from one location to another, or even discover an underground lake fed directly by waterfall (located in a bit of show building space remaining between the Enchanted Tiki Room and Fire Mountain and given an unlimited budget accessed via a cavern that runs underneath the river and loading area of the jungle cruise. An alternative version would place the lake on the lower level of the island complex, with possible views of the temple attraction vehicles speeding by the opposite shore.