New Disney Resorts – Outsourced Imagineering

Disney Resorts

Over the last week, I’ve asked my Twitter followers (@365DaysOfDisney), as well as family and friends, a question about the resorts.  “If you were the Imagineer in charge of designing the next Walt Disney World resort, what theme would you go with?”  Over a dozen of you got back to me, and I took your ideas and added some of my own thoughts as well.  In no particular order:

Medieval Castle Resort@hkeller @DadforDisney

hotels - CastleThe main idea I heard from several people about a castle hotel would be that it is definitely NOT a girly-princess castle.  Rooms would have several themes to them, based on which section of the castle guests stay in.  One would be geared more towards a princess in a tower, while another would be for knights getting ready for a joust, etc.  A moat and drawbridge would definitely make this feel like a true castle.

1920s Hollywood / Hollywood Tower Hotel@ElaineMRoss, @HodgePodgePro, @Life_Of_Green, @Minnies_Girl
TowerOfTerror_MGM

Another popular idea for a new Disney resort would be to theme it to 1920s Hollywood, the Hollywood Tower Hotel, or both.  This resort would be placed near to the Hollywood Studios, to help guests immerse themselves in the life of the 1920s.  Imagine bellhops with maroon colored suits and hats, a la Tower of Terror, but helping you to your room in elevators that actually work.  Orchestral music and jazz from the 1920s would be piped into the lobby, and of course there would be flappers and a speakeasy onsite.

Film Noir Hotel@MickeyMutineers
hotels - film noirThis hotel would be similar to the 1920s Hollywood idea, with one twist.  Imagine hearing jazz music, seeing live dancing, going to the opening of a new film and drinking a classic martini, but everything would be in black and white.  Cast member uniforms, paintings, wall paper, decorations… everything in shades of gray.  The only color in the resort would be from the guests’ clothing (and possibly Stacy J Aswad on your television).  You’d truly be stepping back into the films of the 1920s.

Rooms around the World@WickedDreamer, @OzGoofyPrincess
Several people suggested having a hotel that was based on the countries of Epcot, but could also contain extras.  With the Around the World Resort, you would be able to spend time at Epcot, and then stay in the country of your choice that night.  Buildings in the hotel (think All-Star resorts with its multiple buildings onsite) would be themed to Canada, England, France, Morocco, Japan, Germany, Italy, China, Norway and Mexico.  Imagine staying in a room themed to the German Alps, with polka music, staff in lederhosen, and a German restaurant in the lobby.  Or eat sushi and wear a kimono as you relax in your multi-level suite in a Japan themed hotel, with great local items available in the hotel gift shop.

Star Wars Resort@eliskfc, @MicKyaraben, @Minnies_Girl, @smurflufe
Ewok_village
A Star Wars resort has the ability to include incredible amounts of detail from the many lands visited in the current six movies, cartoon series, etc.  It would also have the ability to expand as the next three movies come out in the coming years.  As @smurflufe wrote, imagine rooms, halls, or even entire buildings  themed to Coruscant, Endor, Hoth, Naboo, Tatooine, Dagobah, or even the Death Star.  Arcades, restaurants, quick service dining, and pools would all be themed to the lands of Star Wars (and the Princess Leia slave costume swim suit sold in the gift shop, of course!).   @MicKyaraben thought that Endor would be a great resort in itself, with tree house villas for guests to sleep in, connected by rope bridges (and of course an elevator hidden in a tree for handicapped guests).

La Belle Époque and Art Deco styles@Minnies_Girl, @sarahkbheff
These two styles flow chronologically into each other, as la belle époque was popular from the 1870s until about 1915, and art deco is considered to be from the 1920s to the 1940s.  This resort would include two buildings, one of each style, similar to the decades at Pop Century.  One hotel with bright rich Victorian style, the other with a modern (1920s) technological influence, with great contrasts between the two.  The art deco style, with its sharp lines in black and white accented with pops of color would fit in well with Hollywood Studios theme, and would be placed nearby.

Magic Kingdom Lands@mellowmickey et al
As you can guess by the name, this resort would have sections from each of the Magic Kingdom’s lands – Fantasy, Adventure, Tomorrow, Frontier, and even Main Street.  Restaurants and quick-service dining venues would be similar to those already available in the Kingdom.
ToonTown Hotel@ModernMouseJosh
As a part of the Magic Kingdom, this hotel would feature all of the classic characters from old movies and cartoons, and some more current ones as well.  Everything would be larger than life, cartoony, and as you stay at the hotel, cast members would even help you create your own cartoons with you as the star.
Tomorrowland Hotel
@MCHutsell3
This hotel would feature the future from the point of view of the 50s, 60s and 1970s.  50-70 years ago, great prospects of the future existed: flying cars, hovercrafts, skyscrapers a mile tall, people living in space or underwater, etc.
Small World Hotel@WickedDreamer
Similar to the Epcot Around the World Hotel, this one would include tributes to cultures all around the world… creepy dolls and catchy music for an extra price.

Marvel Hotel  – @MCHutsell3, @eliskfc
The name explains it all.  This resort features the Marvel superheroes, and, as you can guess, everything is “plussed”: huge water slides at the resort pools, a theater that plays all of the Marvel movies, a gift shop selling the basic needs, clothing and comic books, etc.  Spiderman, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, and other heroes would be on hand to greet you, and may even ride the resort’s rollercoaster with you!

Fab Five Resort@OzGoofyPrincess

hotels - fab fiveA classic tribute to the most important Disney stars: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, etc.  They get love at the parks, but who wouldn’t want to leave the parks for the night but still feel immersed in the theme as they stay in their resort at night.  There would be a large restaurant in the center of the resort that has Meals With Mickey.  Not just breakfast but also lunch and dinner.  The new feature- midnight snacks with special friends.  You’ve had a great day at the Magic Kingdom, and you can now head back to your resort to have an ice cream sundae with Chip & Dale, a slice of pizza with Goofy, or nachos or popcorn with the three cabelleros.

Mary Blair Hotel@socaldork
Mary Blair is very well known for her designs of simple shapes and bright colors.  This hotel would feature large open areas with mobiles hanging from the ceiling that are inspired by her works.  Walls covered in blown up representations of her works would lead guests to the Blair gallery in the atrium with prints of Mary’s works available.

Farm country@mattersley
Many of the guests who come to Walt Disney World are not from areas of the states or the world that are too agricultural.  The farm theme would include suites that immerse guests in country home living, with woods, knick knacks, dry-brushed furniture, etc.  A petting zoo would bring children in to see cows, goats, pigs, ducks and other farm animals.

A Runner’s Hotel
Disney is becoming popular for its many different RunDisney events… marathons, halfs, 10Ks, 10 milers, etc.  So why not a hotel that is made with runners in mind.  This hotel would have a sports theming to it, similar to All-Star sports (but we’d class it up a notch), but would have tracks around it, multiple running paths with various distances, and timers, chips, and other goodies available.  At the end of each trail or track would be a basket with bottles of water, packets of Gu and energy supplements, and other running needs (with sponsorship by various athletic companies)

Villains Hotel@singleriderline
hotels - Villains

The Villains Resort would use dark colors, blue, purple, black, green.  It would be made out of cold materials, and while open and spacious, would have a gloomy mood with dimly lit chandeliers and a stain glass window featuring villains from various Disney movies.  Sections of the hotel would be from different periods and areas of the world, such an elephant graveyard for the Lion King’s Scar, an old castle dungeon for Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent and Snow White’s Queen Grimhilde, or the Jolly Roger for Peter Pan’s Captain Hook.

Venetian Resort@eliskfc, @singleriderline
hotels - Venetian

This resort was an actual resort that was going to be built by Disney Imagineers, alone with an Asian and a Persian resort.  Situated on the Seven Seas Lagoon between the Ticket and Transportation Center and the Contemporary, it would have had gondola rides, motorboats to take guests to the Magic Kingdom, and, of course, the red tile roofs typical of Venice.

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So… if YOU could design the next Walt Disney World Resort, what theme would you go with? Leave your thoughts in a comment below!

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The Tusker House

Today marks my first blog post about a restaurant at Walt Disney World.  And to start it off, I picked my favorite buffet, the Tusker House, from Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  My family and I have been to a number of buffets at the Walt Disney World parks and resorts, but this one is probably my favorite.

tusker-house-restaurant-gallery16

The Tusker House, located in Harambe Village, on the left side as you walk in from Discovery Island, just past the Dawa Bar on your way to the new Festival of the Lion King location.  The entrance is actually in the back, which can be a bit hard to find if you’ve never been before.  It is open for breakfast (8:00am-10:55am), lunch (11:00am-3:30pm) and dinner (4:30pm-7:00pm), and is not only a buffet, but also includes character dining, with Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy.  tusker-house-restaurant-gallery04

 

 

(Yeah, Disney’s picture looks nicer than mine below…)

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The interior of Tusker House is made to look like you are in an open area marketplace, with high ceilings, colorful banners, a general African feel to the building, both inside and out.  I have only eaten there for lunches, so I have not personally tried some of the dinner foods, but I love the offering at lunch.

Tusker food 3 Tusker food 2 Tusker food 4 Tusker food 1

(The above four pics come from Disney’s website.  Really, do you think I could take those?)

Appetizers include tabbouleh, hummus and baba ganoush, Tunisian couscous salad, curried rice salad, and ‘normal’ foods, like apple walnut salad, mixed greens, cucumber salad, lunch meats cheeses and fresh fruit.  There is a vegetarian table that, even though I love meat, has some delicious foods: several varieties of couscous, samosas, tandoori and jollaf rice.  For the main dishes: seafood stew, orzo pasta, varved sirloin and pork loin, Cape Malay curry chicken, basmati rice with almonds in it, salmon filet, and root veggies, potato wedges, and mashed potatoes.  As for desserts, they have banana cinnamon bread pudding with vanilla sauce, fruit cobblers, and traditional assorted pastries and cookies.  The price is about $30 dollars a person, and for me (a 6’10” guy with a big appetite) it’s great! My wife doesn’t eat as much as I do, but she loves the atmosphere, the corn dog nuggets from the kids menu, and thinks the characters are fun.  

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Have you been to the Tusker House?  What did you think?  I’ve heard from people that absolutely love it, and some that think the food variety is not so great, and the service is a bit slow.  Leave a comment below!

Unexpected Friends

Today, I want to share just a little bit about what makes Disney so special to me.  If you’ve read my “about me”, you’ll see that I live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  I’m quite a ways from any parks… 1,321 miles from the Disneyland Castle, 1,338 from Walt Disney World.  (amazing, actually, that both distances are within 20 miles distance)  As far as I know, there are no Mouse Meets, Disney blog conventions, or anything of that sort in my state, or too close to me.  That being said, I made a friend because of Mickey Mouse yesterday.

At the elementary school I work at, I bring a Walt Disney World Resort mug with me, and fill it with water throughout the day.  Yesterday, as I was leaving, I stopped at the school office to ask the secretary a question.  And what did I see on her desk, half full of coffee?  A mug!!!  I smiled at her, and asked “2006, 2007”, pointing at her mug.  She had a huge grin on her face, and said yeah, and then pointed at mine and guessed the year as well.  

It turns out, she not only loves Disney, she was a Cast Member back in the day (she wouldn’t tell me exactly when, but it couldn’t have been too long ago), and worked in the parking lot at the TTC, and then later at EPCOT.  She goes as often as she can with her family, and has been a few times to reunite with other CMs she worked with.

Before I left, she said to me ‘It’s so nice to meet someone else who I can chat with about Disney.  Most people will listen along for a few minutes, but after about five, everyone wants to change the conversation’.  (I didn’t even tell her about my Twitter account, Facebook page, blog, etc…)

Have you made any unexpected friends outside of a trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World?  Let us know in a comment!