Friday, November 2, 2012

Let's Talk About Star Wars Rides Concepts...

In my previous article we had a look at the land available in Disney theme parks all around the world for a future Star Wars Land. Now, what about having a look at Star Wars attractions concepts which, until now, never become real - because there have been a few since the last thirty years, and as you will see they had brilliant designs.

 One of the most spectacular concept was indeed the one below that Tim Delaney did for Disneyland Paris. As you can see the Space Mountain dome looked like the Death Star (well, a "half" Death Star, in this case) and on the right you can also see Han Solo's Millennium Falcon. A big part of the land would have had a Star Wars design. Now, as you know there is a Star Wars land project for DLP, but don't worry Space Mountain will keep its dome like it is right now and there is no chance that this expected mini-land will look like Tim rendering. That said, if WDI Imagineers design a SW land in the future they might take some inspiration from this great concept-art.

Another artwork from Tim Delaney, always for Disneyland Paris, is showing a different Star Wars vehicle standing at the entrance of Star Tours, instead of the X-Wing fighter!

Another great concept was the Plectu's Galactic Revue. "Plectu's Fantastic Galactic Revue" was part of a new attraction/show announced in 1990's famous "Disney decade" project. Supposed to replace the Carousel of Progress at WDW, it was, a see know, never built. The renderings of this "Plectu's" project are extremely rare, but here is one showing how the exterior would have looked. Let's thanks Mark Taft from the excellent Insight and Sounds blog who had the good idea to take the picture of the artwork in 1990 at Disneyland. In one of his famous "Why for?" articles published in 2004, Jim Hill described the building exterior theming as "Like someone had brought the Mothership from "Close Encounters of a Third Kind" in for a three-point landing in the heart of Tomorrowland".

It was one of the first project that Imagineer Eddie Sotto did at WDI and what is less known is that it has been also envisioned for DLP. On the picture below you can see the model of it, done by WDI Imagineer Bob Baranick from Eddie's drawings ( the artwork above is not from Eddie and was done a bit alter ). According to Eddie the concept was that a spaceship had landed with a travelling alien show inside - with audio-animatronics of course - and it was supposed to be part of a Georges Lucas inspired Tomorrowland. 

None of these concepts were realized but others will be in the future for an inevitable Star Wars land - inevitable because it's pure logic - and just like you i can't wait to see the renderings! Talking about renderings, an artist who might be great for doing them could be Albert Yu, who worked as freelancer for Lucas Arts and also for WDI during eight years. Albert did some artwork for Test Track, Honey... and Rock and Roller Coaster. Below you'll see three artwork from him - as far as i know not designed for a Star Wars attraction - but the look is quite close to the Star Wars universe. You can see more artwork from Albert Yu on his web site HERE.

To come back to Star Wars rides concepts, a few months ago i found something pretty incredible, and it was a design of a Star Wars roller coaster called "warring coaster", which was NOT designed by WDI! 

I found it thanks to wdidreamer, a member of forum, who posted the pictures above and below from a U.S. patent supposedly filed by WDI last year. The title of his thread was "After Star this what's next?" and almost instantly members of WDWMagic forum were amazed by what looks like an incredible Star Wars dueling roller coaster concept.

There was just a little problem: as i told you, this patent filed in 2010 is NOT a WDI patent! So, if this amazing concept was not designed by WDI Imagineers, who did it? A closer look at the patent reveals that it was filed by someone named Jonathan Gordon. And, yes, if you call WDI switch board they will confirm that there is no Jonathan Gordon working at Imagineering, so it's definitely not a WDI patent. I really wanted to know more about this mysterious and exciting Star Wars concept and I finally found the web site of Jonathan Gordon – – a company that "offers new and innovative amusement rides and attractions for customers that demand the latest and greatest". Their rides are based on proprietary designs that they develop in-house. They work "with the finest engineering and manufacturing firms in the amusement industry to ensure the creation of a product that is second to none".

That sounds good, so I decided to give them a call hoping to talk with Jonathan. Luck was with me, as it was Jonathan himself who answered my call. Jonathan kindly accepted an interview and provided me with precious details about his Star Wars roller coaster concept. As you can see on the pictures above and below, the concept looks like a dueling coaster but in fact it's more than that, it is a "warring coaster" which Jonathan on his web site describes like this: "The Warring Coaster concept takes an armed conflict from a film or a story and allows riders to live it. Through the use of multiple trains on multiple tracks, giant themed arenas, animatronics, interactive laser gun systems, and much, much more, the Battle of the Death Star* from Star Wars* roars to life! This is the ultimate in themed rides and roller coasters combined."

Well, it certainly looks like the "ultimate ride" and on the patent drawing above you'll see that the coaster can have up to six different tracks with six vehicles moving simultaneously. The launch would be done by linear induction or linear synchronis system and the vehicles would reach 50 miles per hour in a few seconds. And because this warring coaster is designed with a Star Wars theme, the vehicles - I mean, the fight - will be between X-Wing fighters and Tie Fighters! Each vehicle will have six seats, and each guest will be able to use a mounted laser gun to shoot at the "enemy". Each hit will be counted and will appear on the fighter’s screen, and in addition to the usual lap bar there will a grab bar which will be helpful to guests if they need to steady themselves while they are shooting.

One of the questions I asked Jonathan was about the size of the X-Wings and Tie fighters. When you look at the drawings of the X-Wing fighter above and the Tie Fighter below, the vehicles look huge and I wondered if it was possible to have such big vehicles on a coaster track. According to Jonathan it would not be a problem as long as the vehicles are light enough. If we take the X-Wing fighter, for instance, the wings would be made of fiber glass over an aluminum frame with minimal steel reinforcement, and of course the important "middle" part of the vehicle frame and structure will be in steel.

Still, when we look at the drawing with its incredible tracks and considering the large size of the vehicles I couldn't stop thinking that this indoor project will require a huge facility and Jonathan confirmed that his concept indeed requires a huge building. But the best is yet to come, as this building would be fully themed so that the epic battle between X-Wings and Tie Fighters would take place over the surface of the Death Star and inside the famous Death Star trenches - yes, the same trenches in which the final battle happened at the end of the first Star Wars movie (Episode 4) or also in Star Tours 1! You can see in the drawing above where it is written "Main Trench". You'll note also the words "Millenium Falcon" which indicates that Han Solo’s fighter should be included in the decor.

Another great idea - a genius idea I must say - is the one related to the queue. As there will be two "teams" riding at the same time, guests will be divided – they will either join the "rebels" and board an X-Wing fighter or they will join the "Empire" and board a Tie Fighter - they will be directed down two different paths and in each of them they will have access to Death Star or Rebel Fleet ship turrets - as such, the queue decor will be "inside" the Death Star or a Rebel Fleet ship. Each turret will be equipped with laser guns AND using these laser guns guests in the queue will be able to "fire" at the roller coaster vehicles as they enter the Death Star trenches! On the drawing below the numbers 406, 410 and 416 represents the locations of some of the turrets guns.

Each hit from the turret guns to the vehicles would tally additional points which would be counted in the final count. At the end of each ride, depending who is the winner (based on the number of points), either the Death Star will "explode" - with the use of lighting and pyrotechnic effects - or, if the Empire wins it will be the rebel planet base which will "explode" thanks to projection effects.

Isn't it an amazing concept? It surely is, but, as with each concept, there are also some difficulties which would need to be resolved. For example, how the guests would board each vehicle, especially the X-Wing fighter. Jonathan imagined a system where the upper wings could be moved down to make the boarding easier, as shown on the first drawing on items 516 and 526. Technically, Jonathan is pretty sure that everything he designed in this ride can be done. Of course the biggest problem would be the cost of the ride. To give you an idea, at WDI this kind of ride would cost probably around $150M - at least. The huge facility would cost a lot, too. The ride hour capacity could be also a problem, especially considering the inevitable tremendous success of this Star Wars ride concept. Even with six tracks, considering that each of the six vehicles will embark six guests that makes 36 guests only for each ride, and considering that it would be probably a 3 minutes ride that makes an hour capacity of 720 guests which is indeed not enough. However, the patent notes that a proper block-section design could allow for multiple vehicles to run on each track at the same time, which would resolved this hour capacity problem. Last but not least, considering the size of the vehicles the ride would need a huge show building. To give you an idea how big can look a X-Wing fighter - in its real size - have a look t this picture showing Imagineers at work in a WDI facility on the X-Wing fighter now in place at DLP Star Tours entrance.

Regardless, it is a fantastic Star Wars attraction concept, and probably just like you, I wish to see it becoming real. Jonathan unfortunately can't propose his concept directly to WDI as Imagineering generally doesn’t accept concepts coming from the outside but who knows, now that Disney bought Lucasfilm, if it happens that a WDI imagineer read this article and love Jonathan's ride idea then we might ride this Star Wars roller coaster in the future!

Finally, and always about future Star Wars rides, i don't know if you've noticed but almost all Star Wars vehicles are "flying" vehicles. There is almost no "cars" vehicles, and when there is cars the cars are also flying - like in SW Episode 2. That will not help WDI Imagineers when they will design new Star Wars rides. And considering that there is already a Star Wars ride using a simulator - Star Tours - AND that they're also apparently going to use another kind of high-tech simulator for the upcoming Avatar ride, the best would be that they create something totally different, right?  But they also can't use the Test Track technology like they did in Cars Land, as there is no cars! So, how will they do? Come back on monday, as i've found something that for sure is going to interest you...

See you on monday and in the meantime please note that some of the artwork above can be find in my DLP book. Those of you who are interested by this great book might have a look at the presentation article on the book web site HERE

Important Note: We're running low of the ENGLISH edition copies of the book and we know that by the end of the year the english collector's edition will be sold out. If you don't own the book yet and wish to order a copy please do it as soon as possible!

Order your copy of the acclaimed Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to Reality book while there is still copies available! You'll find all infos to order an ENGLISH edition HERE and for the FRENCH edition it's HERE. Watch below the video showing the whole book!

Choose quantity and enjoy an additional discount !

Article Pictures: copyright Disney

Warring Coaster pictures and patent drawings: copyright GordonRides, LLC 2009 - all rights reserved

* Death Star, Star Wars are trademarks of their respective owners who do not endorse GordonRides LLC, nor are they in any way connected with GordonRides. Concepts presented in The Warring Coaster are the subject of several pending patent applications owned by Jonathan Gordon, the principal of GordonRides.


Anonymous said...

WOW!!!! What an incredible post.

The Star Wars Roller Coaster "The Battle of the Death Star" is awesome. I think that making some improvemnts and changes it would be real. It would be a hit.
What else could the Imagineers do with SW theme? Let's our imagination flies!

Ivan Jimenez

Robert /Cologne said...

What with Universal leading the way with new and innovative attractions this would be the perfect way for Disney to go

Anonymous said...

"Plectu's Fantastic Galactic Revue" was actually designed first for Disneyland's Tomorrowland, not WDW. Take a look at both the rendering and the model - they both reflect the 2 story Carousel buidling in Tomorrowland at Disneyland. And in the case of the model - you can see the people mover and that is exactly how the track enters the second floor for what used to be the Speed Tunnel/Tron portion of the ride. The People mover at WDW does not enter the Carousel of Progress building at all and the Carousel of Progress building at WDW is only one story.

Hayden Hartley said...

There is no need for this where would the tta go plus Star Wars galaxys edge is being built so there is no need for Disney to ruin Walt’s dream any more than it already is.