Skyscraper as theme park: Architect re-imagines thrill rides on a vertical scale

Can you imagine a theme park in the middle of Manhattan? Finding the capital to acquire the land and raise the buildings on it to create the necessary open space would be nearly impossible.

But what if that theme park could be built vertically, as a theme park skyscraper?

Skyscraper theme parkThat’s the idea behind architect Ju-Hyun Kim’s vertical theme park prototypes. Kim says in order to be eco-friendly and save the world from more sprawl, the theme parks of tomorrow need to be built in the middle of cities:

Instead of sprawling parks with giant footprints, stack the park into a skyscraper. The altitude will only add to the speed and excitement of rides, and the view of the surrounding dense urban environment will be incredible. There’ll be so much more to see from the top of the carousel and roller coaster on the perimeter. Best of all, it will be easily reached by public transportation, and the environmental impact will be minimal. Now is the time to build the joyful destination for families’ perfect day out at the center of cities.

Kim’s vertical theme park would be broken into five sections:

  • Vertigo World, which would include a carousel and observation deck at the top of the theme park skyscraper
  • Fast Land, including a flume ride and a rollercoaster
  • 360 World, with a Ferris Wheel and sky promenade
  • Abyss City, a bungee jumping platform
  • Elsewhere Universe, a geodesic dome with a gravity-free zone

Though very different from Kim’s vision, theme-park pioneer Walt Disney also considered building a vertical theme park in a city’s downtown. Fifty years ago, Disney was planning a River Front Square on the banks of the Mississippi in St. Louis. The five-story indoor attraction’s plans are said to have included a walk-through pirate ship, audio-animatronic exhibits and a haunted house.

But the St. Louis plans for a metropolitan Disney theme park were scrapped, and the second Disney theme park — the Magic Kingdom — was built outdoors, horizontally, on part of a sprawling 40-square-mile swampy area now known as Walt Disney World.

You can see all the prototypes from Kim’s vertical theme park proposal at ArchDaily.

Chilean miners are going to Walt Disney World

Chilean miners are going to Disney World

“Esteban Rojas, you’ve just survived 69 days trapped 2,300 feet underground. What are you going to do next?”

“I’m going to Disney Worldl!

OK, so maybe that’s not quite the way it happened, but the 33 Chilean miners who survived underground after a mine collapse this year are being treated to a Walt Disney World vacation in 2011.

Disney has confirmed that the miners and their immediate families will be traveling to Orlando Jan. 27 through Feb. 2, 2011. In a nice added touch, rescue workers who helped save the men will get a vacation, too.

“The amazing story of these miners captured the attention of the world for demonstrating the true power and resilience of the human spirit,” said Disney President and CEO Bob Iger. “We are proud to welcome these courageous men and their families to the Walt Disney World Resort.”

A welcome dinner that includes Disney characters, dancing and Chilean cuisine prepared by Disney chefs will greet the Chilean families.

Over the course of their six-night vacation, the miners, rescuers and their families will visit all four Disney theme parks in Florida and serve as grand marshals of a parade at the Magic Kingdom.

Mickey Mouse is picking up the tab for the trip, and giving each family a $500 Disney gift card.

[Image credit: Flickr user Rescate Mineros]

Disney goes luxe: Company plans pricey new vacation homes

Taking a hint from other luxury hotels and condo complexes, Walt Disney Co. plans to unveil a pricey vacation-home development in Florida’s Walt Disney World.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Disney will offer homes ranging in price from $1.5 million to $8 million. According to the report, the proposed 980-acre Golden Oak development in Orlando is expected to hold 450 homes and a 445-room Four Seasons hotel. The development will include two renovated golf courses, a clubhouse, parks and pedestrian walkways, with wetlands and other conservation areas. Lots will be offered in various sizes, up to three-quarters of an acre. The first homes are expected to be finished in 2011.

The WSJ says Disney estimates Golden Oak could take eight to 10 years to complete, but interested buyers can get in on the action now. Lots can be reserved with a deposit of $25,000.

Readers: What do you think? Is this a good move for Disney, or will a luxury development have an adverse effect on the theme park?

InterContinental opens new hotel at Walt Disney World

Families, couples, school groups and friends of all ages will have another hotel option for the next Walt Disney World vacation in Orlando, Florida. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) opened a new 14-storey, 323-room Holiday Inn in Orlando.

The hotel is located on Hotel Plaza Boulevard in the Walt Disney World Resort grounds and offers free transportation to theme parks, access to area golf courses and advance reservations at restaurants. All rooms are equipped with 32-inch televisions, complimentary wireless Internet access and an electronic safe.

This new Disney hotel is part of IHG’s global $1 billion rebranding of its hotels. More than 1,800 hotels have been relaunched around the world during IHG’s revamp of the Holiday Inn brand.

Disney offers free park admission to volunteers

Volunteer one day of your time next year, and you could receive a free day of admission at a Walt Disney theme park in return. The Disney company has announced that one million people who volunteer with the HandsOn Network can get into any Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, or into Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, for free in 2010 through the “Give a Day, Get a Disney” promotion.

The HandsOn Network works with 70,000 agencies across the country, including Habitat for Humanity and local food banks and churches. After volunteers gets their service verified with the agency, they get a voucher for free admission. The work must be done in 2010 and the voucher needs to be used by December 15 of that year. Volunteers must be 18 or older to sign up, but kids ages 6-17 who complete volunteer work with their parents can also get into the park free.

Those who have multi-day annual passes can use their free-day voucher for up to six FASTPASS tickets that will get them to the front of the line for certain rides. Only residents of the US, Canada and Puerto Rico are eligible to redeem the free admission vouchers.

This isn’t the only deal Disney has offered recently. All of the US Disney parks offered visitors free admission on their birthday this year, and many Disney resorts offered “stay two nights, get a third free” promotions as well.