Monday, December 2, 2019

Discover LucasPort, the Other Disneyland "Star Wars Land" Project That You've Never Heard About !

In three days from now Galaxy's Edge Rise of the Resistance, the most awaited ride of the year, will open at WDW Disney's Hollywood Studios, bringing a final grand opening to this Star Wars land. But what you most probably don't know is that more than 30 years ago WDI Imagineers envisioned another kind of "Star Wars land". It would have been called "LucasPort" - of course in tribute to Georges Lucas - and D&M unveil the project and tell you all about it thanks to great artworks which will be on sale on Dec 7 in the Van Eaton Galleries auction, see the auction catalog HERE.

This “LucasPort” project was a project that WDI Imagineer Tony Baxter and his team of Imagineers were developing for Disneyland's Tomorrowland. This was before WDI hit upon using a simulator for Star Tours. The LucasPort project was designed as a Tomorrowland update or replacement, and there was a lot of discussion on the name LucasPort vs the more generic “VenturePort.

Above and below: Disneyland LucasPort crystal shape building. Disneyland People Mover and Monorail would have gone through or around it.

The crystal centerpiece you can see on the rendering would have replaced Disneyland's Carousel of Progress / Innoventions building. Inside LucasPort guests would have chosen different paths leading to the attractions.

Among the attractions to be included in this LucasPort were an amazing Star Wars roller coaster - more about it in a minute - but also Alien Encounter, which was originally designed for Disneyland! Alien Encounter was created for this LucasPort project, and the lead designer was Imagineer Gill Kepler. Disneyland Rocket Jets would be relocated inside the crystal LucasPort building.

Disneyland guests would have met their favorite Star Wars characters.

Two blueprints of LucasPort. The crystal building is at the center, and note behind it and on the right the show buildings circled in yellow, red and blue that would have host the attractions.

A cross section view of LucasPort crystal show building, with its different levels.

The model of LucasPort, with LucasPort show building on the top center, Space Mountain on the right, Tomorrowland entrance on the bottom and Autopia and the Submarine rides on the left.

Others model pictures shows that a new and more futuristic load building would have been built for Disneyland's Submarine ride. Also note the Monorail coming in and out of the main show building.

Two more pictures of the model showing the crystal shape show building. Note the “VenturePort” sign at the entrance.

LucasPort would also include an incredible Star Wars themed roller coaster, which was the big attraction... but too big! The design of the coaster included a launch from Dagobah in a scene featuring Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi. The coaster train was dispatched from a huge "swamp like” room that was in fact an elevator - like Haunted Mansion ) and Yoda and the complete Dagobah swamp set was lowered to make it appear that "the force was strong" with the guests as the rocket sled appeared to levitate high above the swamp.

The coaster had 3 guests choice points where you could choose to dog fight or flee ( a coaster ride with loops or a smooth flight ). Below, the rocket of the LucasPort Star Wars coaster ready to be launched in a galaxy far far away.

During their ride in the Star Wars roller coaster rocket, guests would have gone through Dagobah, encounter Stormtroopers, circled AT&T Walkers, face a fight between Darth Vader and a Jedi ( or may be the Emperor ), go though meteorites, get close to the Death Star and even escape its explosion!

Unfortunately this branching ride ate up tons of space and the project proved impractical when WDI Imagineers saw how big a structure would be needed to house 6 track segments that went their separate ways, then had to reconverge. Also, the decision points required too much guest interface time and immediate computation had to be safe and practical, a difficult problem to solve back in that time. Star Tours solved that dilemma and fit nicely into the former Adventure Through Inner Space building.

When the concept grew beyond the scope of Tomorrowland, it was proposed as part of a large second gate project using the more generic “VenturePort” theme. Lucas projects would become a land of VenturePort along with a Figment and Dreamfinder Imagination land, a Jules Verne area, Indiana Jones Adventures and a Future Technology area. VenturePort was a theme park with the crystal VenturePort structure being the portal to the various lands, including the Star Wars area. Imagineers John Stone and Sam McKim worked on many of those concept paintings. The unique aspects of the Ventureport concept was that the attractions were accessed via the large crystal centerpiece, like an airport. The attractions might have been behind a berm or actually on land blocks away, with a transport system used to get there.

The LucasPort concept was not ever a part of the WESTCOT project. It was a part of the VenturePort theme park concept, which was a different one that we may talk about someday. WESTCOT was like EPCOT with highly themed living experiences added to each of “The Four Corners of the World” so you could live a life you couldn't find anywhere else per Walt's original EPCOT wishes.

VenturePort and WESTCOT were two different projects. Although the name “VenturePort" was such a great word that Imagineers considered naming WESTCOT Future World attraction building "Ventureport” - but that had nothing to do with the other theme park concept titled Ventureport. ( VenturePort did become the name of the center area in Disney Quest ).

Pictures: copyright Disney


SWW said...

This project is all new to me. Nice to learn about this early proposal for DL. Thanks!!

Pierre Peeters said...

Very interesting! The building reminds me of Futuroscope, is that a coincidence?

Alain Littaye said...

Yes, it is as the Futuroscope was not yet open when it was designed. But crystals theme was popular in the 80's during the "new age" era.