Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Tribute to Tom Thordarson - a.k.a " THOR " - Artwork - Part Two : Dinosaurs Ride Concepts

Here is the awaited part two article of my Tom "Thor" Thordarson artwork tribute.

At the end of the 90's, Tom also worked for Landmark Entertainment on an incredible ride project. I think the best way to describe it is like a "Jungle Cruise with Dinosaurs" project. The attraction , very unfortunately, was never built, but i have Tom's great renderings to show you! Tom was asked by Landmark to take a shot at key scenes that would depict a boat ride similar to Disney's Jungle Cruise but crossed with Dinosaurs as in "Dinotopia".

There was not really an order in the scenes you will see below, but Tom's concepts are incredibly exciting. Who wouldn't love to ride a "Jungle Cruise" like this? A ride where you can see giant Brachiosaurus (picture above)...

Or fighting Velociraptors...

A ride where you can have a dreadful encounter not with one but THREE life-size T-Rex...

A ride where your boat would be attacked by a bunch of Pterodactyls...

Let's Tom tell us more about it: "I created situations where there was a lot of natural overhead coverings like fallen trees and large dinosaur rib masses overgrown with foliage. This gave areas to create interesting effects with mist and lighting and all the streams of light that would patch areas of activity..."

"It's part of creating mystery and drama in a ride. A show designer is always thinking of changing the feel and atmosphere as much as possible as a ride moves through. Things like creating a tight, close tunnel like area just before opening to a larger, epic scene makes that epic scene seem all the more amazing and grand in contrast. A classic example of this is in Disneyland. In Pirates of the Caribbean, we enter the big ship and fortress battle scene right after the close quartered cavern scenes. It makes that room seem all that higher and grander! Kind of like taking a swig of lemonade just before eating a candy cane. It makes that old candy cane EXPLODE with sweetness in contrast!!! The psyche in ride show design is like that too."

"I also describe some of the animation like in the frame with the Brachiosaurus descending into the lagoon near the boat and spraying the riders. Fun stuff..a little scary too! Add scary to fun and you get thrill!"

"All in all, these frames gave a feel for the attraction in VERY early concept. I really didn't follow where it all went from here. I was on other projects also at the time and like many concepts I touched, I would offer my ideas and move on to the next very rapidly."

Tom was also very involved working with MCA Universal on the early development of the Jurassic park ride in Hollywood. He did an overall birds eye view and a lot of story boards like this one below.

But there is another dinosaur attraction project on which Tom worked and helped to design. And just like the "Jungle Cruise Dinosaurs" ride, it's an attraction that never was. It was a roller coaster ride called "The Excavator" and it would have been located near the boneyard of Dinoland U.S.A at Disney's Animal Kingdom! The train would have gone through a dinosaur excavation site, with dinosaurs audio-animatronics along the ride!

WDI imagineers envisioned to add a roller coaster in this AK land, and because they had all these dinosaurs sculpture molds done for the "Countdown to Extinction" attraction, they thought it could be a good idea to use them and have audio-animatronics in an outdoor roller coaster. It sure was a great idea! Of course, there is always the weather problem when you put Audio-animatronics outside, but it's always possible to find a themed solution to shelter them...

As you can see the Carnosaurus - the star of "Countdown to Extinction" was back in this coaster concept. And i wonder if this is not one of the reason why the concept was never build. After all, in "Countdown to Extinction" we are supposed to meet the Carnosaurus when we are sent back in time, so why would we meet him again in our era? Although it could have been possible to imagine (in the attraction story line) that "we" brought him back inadvertently instead of the other dinosaur that we're supposed to save from the "extinction".

Mind you, Tom didn't do only dinosaurs design for Animal Kingdom, he also did some great concepts for the now famous Beastly Kingdom, like this mythical creature below when WDI asked him to come up with some ideas for this land that never was.

Before i leave you, i'd like to comeback one minute on the great Landmark "Jungle Cruise Dinosaurs" renderings as you can find some of them on sale on ebay - and yes, it's the originals, not prints and at very affordable price. They're part of the Landmark Selection sale i told you before, and if you're interested to have a look, just go HERE. I want to add that the Landmark sale prices on ebay are NOT the normal prices for Tom's paintings.

I would like also to remember you that Tom Thordarson have his own web site and a gallery in Hawaii - more precisely on the Island of Oahu - where you'll be able to find his beautiful Tiki and Hawaian artwork, including the Tiki idols series. Some of them are on sale, and whether it is the originals or very affordable prints, any Tiki lover will find his happiness! Also, if you're a fan of Tom's artwork and want to contact him, feel free to do it through his MySpace page.
Please have a look to the previous article to discover Tom Thordarson Tiki and Pirates artwork.

I would like to thanks once again Tom Thordarson for his great help in the making of this article, and his beautiful artwork!

Artwork: copyright Landmark, Universal, and Disney & WED Enterprises for the last three pictures.


RandySavage said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Disneyandmore is the best theme park-oriented website in the world... by a mile. Even the others that are much bigger (laughingplace), more famous (miceage), or more commercial (screamscape), don't come close to providing the same kind of original visual content (like this posting) on such a regular basis.

Thor's work is fantastic... Mark Taft once said that the dinosaur rollercoaster (with the carnotaurus) may have been slated to go into HKDL's Adventureland (before it was scaled back).

The painting of the rollercoaster train entering the skeleton's mouth is one of the most exciting pieces of concept art I've seen in years... also looks like its first appearance online.

Thor's Dino Jungle Cruise is great, as well... and another never-before-seen piece of Beastly Kingdomme concept art... yep, this is the best post ever!

Alain, I understand how much work you put into this site, and I don't it makes you any money, but you can be proud of the fact that you've built something fantastic. In internet media, "content is king", and with respect to theme-park design and artwork Disneyandmore is king!

Alain Littaye said...

Thank you, Randy, thank you so much, it's very kind from you and i really appreciate your compliments.

Mark Taft said...

^^^ I agree on all points, Randy! Thanks, Alain, for giving us a bigger view of Disney dino concept #2. The image I have - the one I posted- is much smaller. What is the image behind it (on the lower right hand corner)?


Alain Littaye said...

Mark, i don't know. I think it's probably another painting from Tom.

Tangaroa said...

I'll agree on all the compliments. In all my years on the internet I've never seen more previously-unseen attraction artwork than I have on this site.

And I am curious about the Carnotaurus rendering - I had also seen Mark mention that it was meant for HKDL. Is it really a rendering for the Excavator? Because that would seem weirdly out of place amongst the bones...

Anyway, fantastic post (per usual!)