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Tony Baxter....on Westcot


Imagineer Dave Durham works on a model of Spacestation Earth....From the book Imagineering


Contained below is the transcript of Tony Baxter's discussion of Westcot originally posted by Ross Plesset [RPlesset@webtv.net] in the Usenet newsgroups.



At an early 1994 NFFC convention Tony Baxter described the plans for WestCOT. Here are some excerpts:
..I'm going to explain a little bit about this. [The] two major changes in this park [are] different from anything Disney's ever done: one is that you're actually going to be able to spend the night in a Disney park. Walt had always talked about EPCOT in Florida being a place where you could live a life you couldn't find anywhere else. Now it's never been feasable for us to do that in a long term way but when we started WesCOT we said to ourselves "Could we find a way where [guests] are not just looking at he France Pavilion or the Japanese Pavilion but actually saying "That's where I want to stay" and having that be your headquarters for your whole visit to Disneyland. That's half of [WesCOT]. The other half is the Future World pavilions, where we're actually creating a role where the guests will be able to step on stage into a role in tomorrow and it's going to be a lot more participatory, a lot more theatrical. So you won't have those big pavilions that we have in Florida but once you step inside our theater and walk from the audience side onto the stages of Land, Living and Science, we'll ask a little bit more of you. It's sort of like what we did in Toon Town with fun but in WestCOT we're going to do it with some powerful thinking. . . Pardon me if I'm a little parched today. I just came back from a company thing that was in Aspen and there's no humidity there. It's also gorgeous and I now know why Micheal [Eisner] talks about the "Montana Future" when he tells us how are we going to redo Tomorrowland. We've been struggling with that as you all know. Maybe we can talk about [that] when we get done with this [presentation].

. . I'm going to show you some of the slides that made up [the] presentation. They're different from anything I've shown you in the past in that most of the things I show you we are probably going to build it exactly as you see it, but this is so far out that things are probably going to change again and again. . . . So with that in mind I''ll just go through this slide show that I've put together here.

[Slide #1] This is the first glamor shot. . . . Generally, you can get the lay-out. This area here, a center court area, is shared by both Disneyland and WestCOT. You will either approach it from Harbor Boulevard on a shuttle system from the parking garages or you will come from L.A. and park over in the strawberry field and come on a shuttle to this area. You won't believe how much work it was to get people to start thinking of the strawberry field as a parking lot instead of a second gate. The parking lot at Disneyland is absolutely the most spectacular piece of property in the center of Anaheim with the hotels, the convention center and so forth all around. We had to use that for the park.
We put America here at the beginning of the experience because it's linked to Disneyland with the train station and Main Street being Walt's symbolic gesture to the heart of America. The entrance [to America] would be similar to the Centenniel Fair in Philedelphia (sp?) a hundred and so years ago. The grand promenade and interior space woud be the gateway to the Americas with South America and Mexico on this side and Canada over to the left and America itself with the American Adventure show in the middle. And then we go on to Europe and Africa and then Future World sits across the lake and looks out across to the Greek amplitheater that faces straight on.

[Slide #2] This gives you an idea of the other portions of the project. You can see the parking garages here and over here and then the shuttle system will take you up to the center court. The ticketing will be exactly perpendicular to the way it is now. So won't face Disneyland the way you do now. You'll come in from the side and choose whether you want to go to WestCOT or to Disneyland. . . . When we first put the two park entrances together they didn't fit and so we said "Wait a minute, let's make one continuum from the hub at Disneyland down through town square, the rail road station the monorail, that will become part of this and then the gateway to WesCOT and then the lake looking directly out to the icons. So the castle an the icons are all in one continuum. I would ge that most people would combine tickets here. In Florida it's not as prevelant because to get from one park to another it's about a 2-hour experience but here literally the distance between Pirates of the Caribbean and Alfredo's Italian restaurant is closer than if you were in EPCOT standing at the Seas Pavilion and walking down to the Italian restaurant. So we think that people will probably see this all as one. So it puts a lot more emphasis on town square and what we do out in front--you can see some new buildings in here--and the exploration of where would the turn styles be. Would they be where they are now or would we put them in town square so we could get some double use out of this activity? I think we're leaning toward leaving them where they are but the ticket booths will be moved, so there's 4 elements depending on where you come in from. But this would be kind of a free space with souvenirs and some food that would be open to both groups of people going to either Disneyland or WestCOT. The morning start up entertainment could also be shared by both groups.
. . These are the other resort hotels that stretch all the way down to Katella. Those themes have not been settled on yet but the Disneyland Hotel will be one of them, there'll be a new luxury hotel at the front and a more moderately priced hotel down by The Emerald (I think that's what they're calling it now).
We're going to talk primarily today about the park. . . . First off, West Street will become Disneyland Drive. If you were driving down or strolling down you will not see these parking garages, those will be hidden from your view. But what you will see are facades that line the street. This will be a European facade with a port a cachere (sp?) and a drive where you would come in (if you were staying there), drop of your luggage and then park your car here. The hotel rooms for Europe stretch all the way out to Canada, which is in The Americas and on down to Greece and Rome on the opposite side.
Next is the entrance to Asia. It's an Indian-like palace that stretches up into China and Japan on one side and out to SE Asia on the other end. Next--it probably won't make it for openning day--is a grand Egyptian palace-- stretching over into the Middle East. We're probably only going to open with a boat ride and some middle African attractions in this aea. Future World is the large structure here and South America and Mexico have the largest show buildings without hotels in them because we have a population that we feel we ought to do something quite dramatic for.
. . Now we're going to go into the Americas.

[slide #3] This is the promenade inside the grand hall at front of The Americas, so you've just stepped in from the common space between Disneyland and WestCOT. This would be a place where we could recap all the souvenirs that would be found throughout the realms that you're going to visit, so it's sort of like an emporium. It's also the gateway and entrance to the American Adventure show, which is similar to the one in Florida but will be updated because we are not talking about openning this tomorrow, we're talking about 7 or 8 years from now.
Directly beyond the opening at the far end is the gateway to the lake area and across the lake you'll see the spiral with the earth in it which is the gateway to Future World.

[Slide #4] This is looking back at the area we just came out of. It's sort of a melting pot of America: it looks much like New York might have looked a hundred years ago when you arrived from a foreign country. We wanted to symbolize this melting pot area; our country is made up of all the differences and diversities of all the other cultures around the world. On one side is Canada. We're going to have a Native American show that will probably be done similar to the Spirit Lodge that was done up in Vancouver [since this presentation was made the Spirit Lodge was relocated to Knott's Berry Farm]. It was done by Bob Rogers Productions, which has worked very closely with Disney on a lot of projects. On the other side is Mexico and South America. We're going to do an indoor Blue Bayou-like space where there will be a feista going on all the time. There will be several rides for children, a dark ride and what would normally be outdoor thrill rides but they'll be indoors to keep this feeling of a night time fiesta going on day in and day out. There will be restaurant facilities in there too and then at night we'll be doing a [??????] fiesta in this area

[slide #5]. In Florida it's just a restaurant with a placid lake so we're going to dramatically bring that to life. In the other area is the Aztec and Incan cultures in South America and Mexico and we'll have a very mystic show about the spirits and legends of South America and Mexico. There will also be native dancing on the outside in front of that space.

[Slide #6] Now the promo film for WestCOT talked about World Cruise. It's the longest ride we've ever done: it's 45 minutes long, it has 5 stops and in between that there's like 9 minute stretches of ride. So that's about as long the Jungle Cruise curently is. You'll be touring all the outdoor sites of the Four Corners of the World as well as going into show boxes where we'll tell the stories about the different areas youre coming to or leaving. For instance, if you were leaving Asia and going into Europe, you would go into a space and--very much like Spaceship Earth--you would see the forming of ancient Greece and Rome and the burning of Rome and then the resurgence and the rennaissance. After Michaelangelo paints the Sisteine Chappel as he does in Spaceship Earth, we would emerge out of that building and be in Rennaissance Italy and you're invited to step out in that experience: amid all the entertainment, shops and restaurants. One of the things that we found out when we analyzed EPCOT is that many elements are out of context. For instance, the Sisteine Chappel is in Spaceship Earth, the Mona Lisa is being painted in the World of Motion but the Italian and German pavilions are way out on the other side of park. So we've tried to index all of that so on the World Cruise you'll get all of those story points that encompass the dawn of the earth's history up through modern times and then at 5 key points you'll be invited to step out if you wish or continue on with the story. They all had to be designed as 9 minute shows because we have no guarantee where you're going to get on. So each story is complete and sets up the next stage.

[Slide #7] Going on now to Europe, because of the size restriction here, we weren't able to have each individual country the way they do in Florida. That would take up the whole parking lot alone without any Future World but by pooling [continents] together like Germany, Italy, England and France, you'll feel more like you're in a land than you do in Florida, where you barely get in and that's the end of the pavilion. You keep being reminded that you're along that lake. Here you'll be able to really get lost back in the bi-ways and when you look up it won't be a fake set in the window it will be somebody living up in that space [hotel guests]. So I think it's going to be a much more environmentally complete space.
We have an attraction, Tivoli Gardens, in the front here. We've tried to integrate children's rides throughout the park because another problem we have at EPCOT is it's mostly films and travel information and shopping, which children don't find that attractive. So w've got something at each stop which we hope will be appealing to all age groups. There's a CircleVision show in France that we did for Euro-Disney, "From Time to Time," It's with audio-animatronics...Hidden under the acropolis here is the show space where guests will see the dawn of Europe and the blossoming of the rennaissance.

[Slide #8] This is back in the courtyards going from Germany onto Italy and these canals are the areas where the World Cruise will travel...The larger buildings in the back can be acheived because we have 5 and 6 stories to work with in the hotels, that they don't have to work with in Florida. Another reason for that is that in the 30-something years that Disneyland's been open the outside surround has gotten a lot more developed and grown up and we can't hide that anymore with new trees. So having 6 story buildings in the back is going to give us the block that we need. And then on top of the hotels we'll put set pieces like St. Basil's from Russia.
We were very hot on doing a Russian pavillion and we were very close to doing it in Florida and then the whole economy changed over there. We have a completed show that was read to go and maybe it will come to life here in WesCOT.

[Slide #9] Going on to Asia, this [building] combines the Indian palace in the back, which is a hotel stretching over into China and Japan. In the foreground is SE Asia and there's a carousel of mythic Asian animals primarily for the children as well ethnic foods along the lake. There's a Japanese show in the main pavilion over here and Ride the Dragon, which is a Chinese festive dragon that travels up and down over the Dragon's Teeth Mountains. When it gets up to the higher altitudes, so you won't see the Emerald Hotel, we have silks that come down over the side of the coaster and enclose the guests in a festive dragon. . . . The silks will be in the up position when you load and then when it gets going really fast we'll bring them down and it will be like in a worm hole from a Star Trek movie. That'll keep you from seeing things that you shouldn't see too. . . . It will be a striking piece to see both from Disneyland Drive on the outside as well as providing a rather effective backdrop inside the park. . . . A lot of these ideas were lifted from the original EPCOT concept so we'll bring back The Temple of Heaven for China.

[Slide #10] This is a sample of how we would do an Indian hotel. We cheated a little bit because India obviously isn't exactly in Asia but it is one historic architecture that already looks a lot like a hotel. The stretch of doing this was easier than taking a Chinese or Japanese form and trying to adapt it to a liveable experience.

[New slide] There was a concept for Africa and the Middle East that we're kind of sorry we didn't get to do. Micheal Eisner is always trying to stretch everybody to do things that are very difficult. One of the shows we had in here was The Three Great Religions of the World. He said "I want you to do a show that everyone will enjoy and will find perfectly in concert with their particular religion." (laughter) So we had settled on depicting the 7 days of creation and avoiding all of the problems between the Muslim and the Jewish and Christian versions of that. And we were getting very excited because we were starting to deal with 7 of the great artists of the world and trying to have them depict each of the single days that they had been given. Maybe that will happen later. The Three Religions would be a little olive garden piece and you would step into the pre-show and go into the main area.

[New slide] This is the portion that we will be building intitially. It has the Zambezee River Cruise, the Story Teller Tree, where we'll have stories of African history told beneath the tree with a live narrator and the Tishman African Art Exhibit, the world's largest African art exhibit that is=A0currently running at the Bower's Museum and this will be the permanent home for that show.

[New slide] The Egyptians did not build hotels, obviously, so we're cheating a little bit here but it could be a very fun and elegant place to build.

[New slide] Across from the lake is Future World and like I mentioned it's like going on stage. We only have one icon so instead of all the different pavillions competing architecturaly, we only have one space. You'll walk under the cascading waterfall into the lobby and there'll be gangways leading to the stages. Inside those stages we have 3 wonder areas, in combination with the Four Wonders of the World, will give us The Seven Wonders of WestCOT. That will be a catch phrase at WestCOT.
Nature is quite large because it not only contains some new things that we don't have in Florida but it has the growing areas as you have seen them in Walt Disney World and the Seas Pavilion as part of Nature. This building alone will is the same size as Walt Disney World's Seas Pavilion. I used to say to everyone: "Think of a Price Club and taking out all of the stuff and making it about 20' higher than that." (laughter) It's on 2 levels. . . . The [Nature] area will have everything from a fozen environment, which will actually be cold and refrigerated so you can actually play with the ice and snow to an arrid desert and a humid jungle area. This is all new. This is going to be an area that you can actually go into as well as going the under the water in the Seas pavilion, pretty much as you know it at EPCOT. . . .The growing areas in the Seas and the Land will be open as a more major attraction. In Florida you have to reserve a trip to go through there and here we'll make it more of a standard event.
Living combines Wonders of Living from EPCOT [Cranium Comand, The Making of Me] and Journey into Imagination, also from Walt Disney World [which will feature unused concepts from the Figment/Dreamfinder ride differentiate it from EPCOT] . Science is a whole new area. We've got a big show called Cosmic Journeys [a combination of film, simulation and 3-D similar in theme to Adventures Thru Inner Space and the reverse: a powers of 10 view of the universe] and a tremendous amount of interactive things that involve kids and learning about future roles they might have in the world we live in. One of the things we tried to analyze is what is it that turns kids off and causes them riot today as opposed to being excited about getting a job. One of the things we realized is that people today are doing jobs that many people don't understand. If you are living in L.A. looking at people coming into those glass towers and sitting in front of computers all day, it doesn't makes the sense of hundred years ago when people watched their family plant food in a garden or making furniture and all these trades that made growing up not such a mystery. So one of the real key thing that we want to do in here is create hands-on activities where kids would understand everything from something that would be fun to do like animation to something that would be technically boggling like designing computer parts for automobiles. We hope that when you come away from those experiences you will have less fear and apprehension about becoming a part of that world.

[New slide] It's almost like a mall with activities on 2 different levels. The expansion areas here are all areas that we will grow into as hopefully things take off.

[New slide] The icon, which we still don't have a name for yet has changed a dozen times. We had the 300' golden ball and then we looked at how that would look from Main Street and it looked terrible, so it's evolving. We want something that symbolizes hope and is attractive in that it lures you toward it. That's the gateway there--with all the mist and fountains--for all of the attractions, so everyone goes in one way.=A0It's all theatrically lit so you don't go outside--except for maybe in a few of these nature biomes. . . . It's an environment that we wanted to make almost like Tom Sawyer Island but along the trails, instead of slides and tree houses you'll find adventures that tell you about a certain part of nature's eco system.

. . All of [Future World] will be indoors so it will be very theatrical. I think making it a stage set rather than reality out in the sunshine let's it be a little bit more dream-like and futuristic than if you're stuck dealing with stucco that gets chipped a lot and starts staining and looking old. This way we can change it a lot because it's all set up much like on a studio soundstage. As a new element comes in we change it out.
The World Cruise comes into here and the 9 minute experience that would begin here and go through Future World tells the story of the formulation of the earth: the land, the sea and then man's development of his intellect. Other portions tell the stories of the urban development of the land as we know it.

That concludes the presentation.