Wednesday, November 4, 2009

D&M Exclusive: The Michael Jackson's Peter Pan's Neverland Theme Park that never was



Unless you live on another planet, you probably know that last week was another "Michael Jackson week". The "This Is it" documentary and CD album were released and a major Michael Jackson exhibition opened last Tuesday in London. I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce to you one of Michael's most secret - and really fantastic - projects: the Peter Pan's Neverland theme park that never was.

Let's first go back in time to 1997, when Michael Jackson and Prince Al-Waleed - Disneyland Paris' biggest private stock-holder - created a company called Kingdom Entertainment and purchased 50% of Landmark Entertainment, giving the company a huge infusion of cash. Prince Al-Waleed had 45% and Michael had 5% of the shares. I remind you that Landmark is the famous company directed by Gary Goddard which created the Spider-Man ride at IOA and the Jurassic Park and Terminator 3D attractions at Universal Studios.



Above: Michael Jackson and Prince Al Waleed during the press conference announcing the creation of Kingdom Entertainment Co. I've aded the video of this press conference at the end of the article.

So, what had to happen happened, Michael asked Landmark if they could design a theme park, a real one, not only for him but a park where anybody could go, just like Disneyland. And this theme park would have been named Peter Pan's Neverland! Here is a bird's eye view of the park - please double-click on the image below to see it in big size.



This first concept is amazing, isn't it? Fully inspired from Peter Pan's story, the park would have started with a grand London entrance, as you can see on the artwork below.



A replica of Kensington Gardens, where anyone can see the famous Peter Pan statue, as well as Big Ben and the House of Parliaments in the background, not to mention horse guards at the entrance, all of which would have set a stunning replica of the Victorian city.



Here is another artwork showing this entrance by Greg Pro.



From that point guests were supposed to go to Neverland Island, and Landmark designers had designed two different way to go there, both of which were attractions. The first one, which would definitely have been an E-Ticket attraction, was... to fly to Neverland! As you can see on the artwork below, the take-of was over London, with a fly over Big Ben and other famous London landmarks like the Tower Bridge (note that on the artwork Big Ben and the Tower Bridge are close together but two miles separate them in reality) and then, lead by Tinkerbell, they would fly all over Neverland, the Mermaid Lagoon and Skull Rock and finally land near the Lost Boys home and woods.



And how would Landmark have achieved this wonder, you ask? First, no, the ride was not designed like Soarin' over California - which, by the way, was not built at that time. Instead, guests would have sat on a platform which would have turned down on a 50 degrees angle, a bit less than on the "flying" coasters, and the movie would have been projected on a huge Omnimax dome located under the platform, giving to the guests the illusion of flying over London and Neverland! What a great ride it would have been!

The other way to reach Neverland would have been by boat. During this short boat ride the boat would have go through mysterious caves before arriving to Neverland Island with its lush vegetation and waterfalls.

Once at Neverland, guests would have had the choice of six different areas:

"Lost Boys area" would have been a fun play area for young kids with slides, jumping fountains, a tree house but also a great roller-coaster with tracks going all over the land.



In "Mermaid Lagoon" guests would have had the choice between a boat ride going through Neverland Island caves or to enjoy a meal at a beautiful restaurant located underground with a huge window looking towards the lagoon where a Mermaid show was envisioned. Close to Mermaid Lagoon, the "Indian Village" would have been another area of Neverland where a raft ride was envisioned.



On the other side of the huge Neverland rock, guests would have find "Pixie Kingdom", a great area for young children with giant mushrooms playground and re-themed carnival rides.



Another major area - not so far from Pixie Kingdom - would have been the Pirates village with Skull Rock nearby as well as Captain Hook's ship.



It's there where guests could have watch a great live action show, including a flying Peter Pan fighting his eternal ennemy, Captain Hook. And of course the Crocodile was part of the show.



You may also have noticed that in this first concept three hotels were envisioned: a London hotel, a "Pirate's Cove" hotel and a "Lost Boys Tree top" Hotel. As we will see now, the project had significant changes in its final version.

This next document below is another map of the Peter Pan's Neverland park, actually it's the conceptual master plan. Drawn May 24, 1999 at a scale of 1" = 60' it shows a more advanced project with new attractions and also backstage facilities. Let's have a look again at the whole park to see the differences with the first concept.



First, the three hotels are gone, instead we have one big hotel facing the lake of the London Town area. Located near the entrance, a bit like the Disneyland Paris Hotel it would have allowed the hotel guests to have a unique view on the Neverland park.

In the London Town area, always located at the entrance, Big Ben is still there, but a replica of London's famous Tower Bridge was added. Also, a bigger Kensington Gardens at the entrance and a music hall dinner show in one of the main building on the right.
Inside the House of Parliament replica, a new show: "Salute to J.M Barrie", the creator of Peter Pan. Right on the other side of the Tower Bridge an indoor coaster as well as a 3D simulator theater were also envisioned.



In Pirate's Cove a Pirates Dinner show, another indoor roller coaster and a Pirates stunt show in front of Skull Rock were added. Also envisioned, a lagoon show, probably in the evening.



In Pixie Kingdom, the main difference with the first concept is a big building for a Pixie World dark ride. On the top of the picture below, what seems to be a inverted roller coaster would have had its entrance in a new land "Future Zone".



Lost Boys area always have its roller coaster running all over the land and even inside Neverland mountain, and as you can see below, Future Zone was located at the top with not only the inverted roller coaster but also a smaller coaster and a simulator ride.



In Mermaid's Lagoon, an underwater simulator was added to the first concept and a new area - Kid's Creek - was designed for young children with playground and water fun including small boats.



Peter Pan's Neverland was not designed to be as big as Disneyland, but it certainly would have been a great theme park where all the "Peter Pans" living on this planet would have rush!

So what happened? Why this Peter Pan's Neverland theme park was never built? Well, some years later, Michael Jackson and Prince Al-Waleed ended their association, and considering the cost of a concept like this one, it was very unfortunately the end of the Peter Pan's Neverland project. Although Michael lived in his Neverland Ranch, he never got to walk in this "real" Neverland. However, years later, Landmark designed for Michael a great statue showing Michael as Peter Pan!

Does this mean that we will never see this great park concept become real one day? Who knows, with all the different Michael Jackson celebrations that will happen in years to come - not to mention that Neverland Ranch could become for Michael Jackson's fans what Graceland is to Presley's fans - maybe somebody who has enough money will find, just like we do, that it would be great to build this Peter Pan's Neverland for real? And, hey, there is plenty of land available inside Neverland Ranch. Who could imagine a better place to build Michael's dearest dream?


Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this article on D&M english forum on Mice Chat


Artwork: copyright Landmark Entertainment Group, and Gary Goddard

Please do NOT post these artworks on other web sites or forums without asking permission, thanks.

Many thanks to Gary Goddard for the park's description and to Eric Wong for the pictures. Thanks to Nate Walz for the editing of this article.

Also, I've already let you know about it in a previous article, but i would like to remind you that most of the Landmark Entertainment old artwork is actually put on sale on two sites - but NOT the Neverland park artwork you saw in this article. The first site is the Landmark Selections site and the other one is on EBay.com where they have their own Landmark artwork store.


Edited Nov 7: Here is a rare video of the 1996 press conference where Michael Jackson and Prince Al Waleed announced the creation of their Kingdom Entertainment Co.

28 comments:

Robert/Cologne said...

OMG This is amazing and just has to be built and seeing that one of the main shareholders own the firm who built Spidermann and terminator 3D,two of the best atractions in the world,its a wonder thatnothing similar would be built at DLP.
Build Neverland as the 3rd gate for DLP and you would have an instant hit.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Alain!

@ Robert: Yes, I would love to see this concept as DLRP's 3rd gate, but since we already have a Peter Pan darkride, Skull Island and Captain Hook's ship, I don't think we can expect this in Paris or any other Disney resort with Peter Pan rides in it.

Love the concept arts, though. Realy nice. I can only hope that Paris will call upon these great Imagineers to envision our next gate.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that Michael Jackson's favorite place in the park to hang out would have been the Lost Boys area?

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm a frequent (and silent) reader, but in this occasion I must say congrats, it's a great report!

Matt Hunter Ross said...

Holy moly, this is amazing, Alain! I definitely like the initial concept rather than the revised version, but still, what a proposal!

nojarama said...

Three words: Fab-U-Lous!

Timekeeper said...

Oh, pute borgne !

Anonymous said...

Where is it possible to contact you to request the authorization to use the artwork on a website ? I don't find any contact info ;-)

Thanks in advance !

Alain Littaye said...

Send me a private messsge through Micechat, the link to Micechat forum is at the end of the article.
You probably will have to register on Micechat. My user name on Micechat is loaloa55

RandySavage said...

Alain,

This is phenomenal. Disney&more continues to be the best place to come for original theme park content.

Thanks!

wojtek said...

hi guys, michael wanted to build that park in warsaw/poland, he visited warsaw in may 1997 and even signed some docs with the mayor of warsaw if you want to see a reportage from the visit just copy nad paste in you tube
Michael Jackson - Warsaw '97 - The Second Visit you cansee there michael signing the docs and all the stuff, greetings from poland

Mark Taft said...

Stunning, Alain, just incredible!
Mark
www.InsightsandSounds.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing work.
May I translate it into french for MJ's community in France ?

Thanks a lot for sharing,

Regards,

mjackson.fr

Alain Littaye said...

A mjackson.fr : Vous avez une adresse email ou je puisse vous répondre en détails parce qu'il n'y a pas de "contact" disponible (ou je ne l'ai pas trouvé!) sur mjackson.fr

Un prénom serait aussi le bienvenu...

Diana said...

Wow! Simply amazing. I would of loved to gone there. We miss you Michael Jackson!

Anonymous said...

Bonjour,

Vous auriez pu contacter un modérateur ou administrateur en cliquant sur le profil de celui-ci. ;)

Voici mon adresse : benzo1000@hotmail.fr

Merci à vous !

Salutation,

mjackson.fr

Captain EO said...

Wow - I'm a HUGE MJJ & Disney fan & whilst I'm not surprised that Michael would be incredibly interested in pioneering something such as this I AM surprised that artwork, plans, details were quite so thought through.

I think his involvement with Disney following Captain EO would have conjured up something else if it wasn't for the original scandal but due to obvious reasons, Disney didn't want further association. I can't help but think MJJ would have LOVED to have gotten involved with a movie score along the lines of Elton John, Phil Collins, etc & when once queuing for the Tower of Terror in Florida not long after it opened, I heard a CM discussing the ride saying that a new attraction was planned in conjunction with Michael Jackson but the idea collapsed due to his image problems.

GREAT article & long live the legacy of the King of Pop, Gone too Soon

London Hotel said...

Very nice article, I liked it. I was in this park with my kids, We were in vacation thorough ECT. It was fantastic vacation. We spent much time together.

bunnieroe said...

Wonderful article. Such a shame this didn't happen. Still interested in the concept of Neverland to pay homage to Michael Jackson and his legacy.

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Anonymous said...

Bill Stout has an interesting story about his working on gatework artwork and other stories:

http://www.williamstout.com/news/journal/?p=97

Landmark still re-use a lot of this artwork to sell to the Chinese for different parks of other or similar themes. Michael used to call and ask for work, artwork or concepts to be made for him on a whim. Landmark would then hire a bunch of contract workers to do concept artwork, they'd get the artists bill who'd relinquish the rights to the artwork (work for hire) and then a bill was sent most likely to Mike or the other investor, client and so on. Jermaine would sometimes come in to see the work being done and progress and so on, stories related to me.

Anyway, its interesting how Michael so wealthy and wanting to create something like this and the companies ready to charge them for stuff that may have been too much to actually build. Maybe very expensive. Landmark also did concept work on the Rolling Stones Voodoo tour stage and a Stones theme park at one time.

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Greg Pro said...

That was a fascinating time with Landmark and Michael Jackson. I remember we had our Christmas party at Neverland Ranch. What a great project to be a part of.

Anonymous said...

Being a fan of Michael Jackson and theme parks, I think it would have been absolutely fantastic. Thanks for the nice article!
Anca

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