Thursday, July 3, 2014

Will DLP "Lava Lagoon" Water Park That-Never-Was Project Resuscitate at Universal Studios Orlando "Volcano Bay" ?

I don't know if you've read the post on Screamcape today about a Universal Studios Orlando water park project, but you should. Why, you ask? Because this rumor of a Universal Orlando water park might not be a rumor after all as Parkscope discovered that Universal filed a new trademark under the name of "Volcano Bay" and Lance think that, considering the "Volcano Bay" name is intended for use in “Amusement park and water park rides” or “entertainment in the nature of a water park ride” this might fit with "the rumor for a Universal themed waterpark build around a large fake Volcano mountain structure that would give them a reason to add fun chaotic elements of themeing to the park’s slides and attractions. Steam vents, pyro and mist projection screens full of virtual flames”.

That Volcano water park looks like a pretty cool idea, you say? Sure, but where it starts to be interesting is when you remember that Disneyland Paris had a similar "volcano" water park project called "Lava Lagoon", the famous DLP water park project that never was - and never will be, unfortunately. Instead DLP will have the Villages Nature, a much more profitable real estate operation for DLP in which a part of it will be a water park but in no way similar to Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, or.... Lava Lagoon. I've posted an article about Lava Lagoon in 2012 which i repost here, but it will be interesting if this Universal "Volcano Bay" project is confirmed as  a water park to see if there will be similarities with the DLP project. And don't come telling me that i might be the one who gave the idea to Universal by posting the article two years ago as i will remind you that Universal Creative Senior Vice-President and talented wizard Thierry Coup worked previously at DLP Imagineering, and as everyone working at DLPI he didn't need anyone to be aware of the Lava Lagoon concept.

That said, as my previous article was telling you two years ago there will be some reminiscences in the Villages Nature of the Lava Lagoon concept, so have a read first of this article and i'll be back at the end:

In a recent interview to the french news magazine L'Express, Philippe Gas DLP CEO answered to the journalist question about "a water park at DLP ?" : "For this we will have Villages Nature, a holiday destination which will include the biggest water park in Europe. It took us some years to finalize the project with Pierre & Vacances and we asked Joe Rhode, who created Animal Kingdom, to work on the project. The water park will be based on geothermal and you'll be able to bathe all year long in Icelandic geysers! The commercialization will start at the end of 2012 and the opening is scheduled for mid 2015."

That sounds good, isn't it? Now, as you may know, another famous water park project was envisioned for DLP by WDI Imagineers. It was called Lava Lagoon, was supposed to be build on a land more or less in front of the Sequoia Lodge Hotel and for years DLP fans have hoped that Lava Lagoon will be finally built. Unfortunately there won't be any Lava or Volcano rising in front of the Sequoia Lodge as it is now an extinct project. However, as we will see, some of the ideas which were included in Lava Lagoon might find a new life in the Villages Nature water park.

But, as i realized that i never did an article about this Lava Lagoon project, let's begin first by having a look at how it would have been as the concept looked great! Basically, the idea was to have a "two in one" water park, themed around a Hawaian volcano, with one part covered by a giant dome and the other one, open air which would have been open only during the spring and summer season. Originally the water park was supposed to have an access only for DLP hotel guests and Annual passport holder, and this is probably why its capacity would have been of only 1600 people for the "under dome" part with an addition of 1500 more people during the summer days when the open air part and slides would have been open. On the renderings above and below, coming for a big part from the Westcot website, you'll see clearly what would have been the open air part and the one under the giant dome.

At the center of Lava Lagoon, according to the Webcot article written by Grandmath in 2007, the giant volcano would have been called "The Big Kahuna" and all around it WDI Imagineers had planned to recreate a tropical forest, with bamboos, coconut trees, tikis dedicated to hawaian gods, and fake lava flows who would have served as slides. Apparently it would have been also possible to walk through and explore the volcano. Lots of slides, so, as well as exotic paths at the base of the volcano, with a lazy river going all a round the water park going through a bamboo, palm tree and orchids forest and even going through the "Big Kahuna".

What kind of water activities guests would have found at Lava Lagoon? Well, of course the classic wave pool called the "Great Pacific", located on the west base of the volcano and on the volcano itself guests would have climb stairs going up to the top of the Big Kahuna from where they would have found different type of slides called "Pele’s Plumett", or "Lava Loop", "The Spouting Horn", or "The Sizzling Stones"!

However Lava Lagoon guests would also have found other attractions all around the volcano, one called the Kahuku Falls, a kind of rafting slide, or another slide called "Aloha Falls". Another interesting detail: all around the Big Kahuna would have been beaches of dark "black" sand - like the one you can find near real volcanos - with other beaches of white sand in the open air part of the water park.

In this exterior part guests would have found others slides - artwork above - called "Waimea Canyon", "To a Needle", et "Waihia Falls" but also large pools with evocative names: "Hula Hula Bay", "Alakoke Pond", "Hanahuma Bay", "Koko Cove"... all linked to each others then to the others pools located in the "under dome" inside part thanks to a small river.

And where is the link in all this with the Village Nature water park, you ask? Well, what Grandmath didn't said in its 2007 Westcot article - probably because he didn't knew it - was that WDI Imagineers had also envisioned in their concepts for Lava Lagoon an area which would have been inspired by the natural hot pools that you find naturally in countries of the north of Europe, in two words a part which would have been more "geothermal", as you will see on the renderings below, and for a big part in "open air".

So, even if no "Big Kahuna" volcano or tropical forest with bamboos and orchids will be part of the Villages Nature water park, DLP fans will probably be happy to know that some of the ideas developed for this Lava Lagoon that never was will finally become reality in 2015 when the Villages Nature water park will have its opening, confirming the famous Walt Disney Imagineering quote that " At WDI, a good idea never die ".

( End of 2012 article )

Well, sure, a good idea never die at WDI but apparently it may even resuscitate at Disney's biggest competitor, thousands miles from Disneyland Paris. A water park themed around a volcano theme is a great idea, it's just a pity that DLP missed the opportunity to built it, but to be honest they didn't had the funds to do it. And they also probably have never been convinced that, considering the harsh weather in Paris at least six months a year, a water park, even themed by Disney, could be as popular and financially viable as the ones at WDW can be. And i have to admit that they had a good point, here. So, well, i suppose that we might have to go to Orlando to enjoy some "lava slides", right?

Pictures: copyright Disney - All my thanks to the Westcot web site for the pics previously posted on their site in 2007.


Daniel said...

I saw the same article yesterday and almost jumped with excitement. With Universal pushing the boundaries of theme parks (Harry Potter, Transformers, Springfield) I can't wait to see what they do with a Water Park.

I do have a question about the water park.

In you opinion would they start from scratch and build it closer to the hotels? Or would them do a complete renovation of Wet n Wild with the new theme?

If they chose to build it closer to the hotels, I'm guessing they would shut down Wet n Wild?

Thanks for all the great news you post!


Alain Littaye said...

Honestly, Dan, i don't know where Universal intend to build this water park ( if it is one ) so i can't be of any help on this question, sorry.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of whispers from Disney's premier water-park River Country. Why not add the Volcano touch into River country and allow the cooled lava flow to cut the pools off from the dangerous water invasion and keep the Western themeing. Rusty