Thursday, July 26, 2007

Steampunk: Nemo's Nautilus

In previous posts I've mentioned that I like the Jules Verne antiquated future style that is permeating Tomorrowland. But not as "Tomorrowland."

The current, half Jules Verne half Futurism, mix in Tomorrowland leaves it feeling more like "Dichotomy-land." Having covered the idea of making Tomorrowland truly futuristic, the topic of the Jules Verne-esque theme remains. This retro-future idea has been more appropriately and successfully implemented as its own land in other Disney Parks i.e. Mysterious Island-Tokyo and Discoveryland-Paris.

There was a proposal by WED in the 70's called "Discovery Bay," it was to be added to the The Rivers of America and Frontierland area. Part of that proposal included an area entitled "Island at the Top of the World." It was a grandiose fictitious future with airships and whimsical inventions. I think this was the genesis of what we have seen shoehorned into Tomorrowland of late. But WED had it right the first time, it is a better fit in Frontierland.

There is some prime real estate back where the Big Thunder Ranch and Frontierland Stage are, hopefully a "Discovery Bay" type land or annex will be added to Frontierland. Creating a new, more fitting home for this style.

Disney may have been too far ahead of itself in realizing the potential of this new 1890's alternate future theme back in the 70's. But today, Disneyland ironically finds itself not only confused as to the location of such a theme, but also behind the curve of its emerging popularity. Disney, unknowingly I think, has hit the tip of an ice berg with this theme. Today there is a popular surge in what has been dubbed the Steampunk "pop-genre."

Wikipedia defines Steampunk as: a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction.... which denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used...usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian England...but with prominent elements of fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.

The Steampunk genre is gaining popularity. There are several upcoming films utilizing this style, most notably "The Golden Compass," and to some extent "Stardust." I've also heard rumors of Disney doing a remake of 20,000 Leagues. There is a large online community of artists, model makers, comic books, and even fashion designers that are pushing this style in some interesting and more edgy directions.

I think there is great potential for this edgy/urban side of Steampunk to be included with the established elements and style of a "Discovery Bay" type addition. Although I think it begs its own high budget ride (more of my own ideas for that, as well as Steampunk in general, to be covered later) assuming this type of land or annex is ever realized in Frontierland. For now, small steps can be taken to slowly usher in this new land:

Imagine if every half hour or so, in the lagoon across from Thunder Mountain, huge bubbles started boiling to the surface! Loud bursts of steam started shooting out of the water, scaring the quack out of the ducks. Whistles and cranks clatter noisily as the Nautilus ominously emerges from under the surface, drawing the attention of everyone walking by.

Capt. Nemo's Nautilus has become sort of an icon for this misplaced futuristic style around the Disney parks. But 20,000 Thousand Leagues was set in the late 1800's. If you remember the films opening it looked a lot like Frontierland! In an effort to get this alternate-future theme underway, and out of Tomorrowland, I say we start by bringing Captain Nemo's Nautilus back to it's original home- Disneyland.


linklewtt said...

Interesting ideas. I agree with you that this Steampunk is becoming more and more popular, and it's that style that drew me to films like The Golden Compass, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and even Disney's update of Around the World in 80 Days, which featured a small amount.

The genre is big enough to afford a land unto itself in a Disney park, and since the style does mesh well with Frontierland's time period. I think the vision I am imagining, and perhaps you too, is somewhere along the lines of Doc Brown in the old west in Back to the Future Part 3, where he had his strange, futuristic inventions including his flying train time machine. Anyways, Discovery Bay is without a doubt a concept that should be revived and placed into Big Thunder Ranch.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid a friend of mine had a map of Disneyland that also included future attractions and lands. Off of Main Street there was suppose to be a Liberty Square. Complete with a Boston Tea Party Ship! See if you can find any thing about that!