Monday, March 2, 2015

Proposed Gotham City theme park at Universal Studios Florida and Batman Ride that never was!

Clipped from Season Pass Podcast: Before Island of Adventure, or Marvel Superhero Island, there was project...Gotham City Batman theme park at Universal Studios Florida.

1989’s Batman was the biggest hit of the year.  With star power, visionary director Tim Burton, musical hit artist’s Prince’s, and comic book history all this led to one of the year’s biggest money maker and a tent-pole franchise.  This led Universal into considering Batman as the next IP to use for their new theme park in Orlando. Under the great code name Project X, Unverisal Stuidos Creavtive designers went to work on bringing DC comics charaters into their theme park by basing them under the hit films of the time Batman (circa 80’s & 90’s).  The name they were using was “Gotham City” for this theme park.  This pictures above show’s concept design of the parks whole land and entrance.  The picture with the big Batman statue servers as the door way into Gotham City theme park and the first look at the Batcar. This was a interactive dark ride using the Batmobile as the ride system where you zoom around the preimeter of Gotham City and though Axis Chemcials factory where the Joker has control.  Many of these area’s resemble most of the plot from the 89 movie.   

Bat Signal: Using some of the tech from Disney "Fantasmic," the would have the Bat Signal show up at night in a very viable way.

Gotham City Hall: will house a big queue, but something more important.  Almost all the buildings like City Hall would be built as real buildings.  Unlike the facades of other theme parks, where they use the buildings as sets and fake material to hide big brown sound stages, everything was going to be made REAL. Yep, the idea here was to make you fell  immerse in the world of Batman. The cars that were park in front of City Hall, the status showing the villains, the factory were going to be build as real-world buildings. This was all to make it feel that this was a real city, and you were not visiting a movie set.

The Gotham Opera House:  would be the stage for a 4-D live action film attraction. This concpet for the film and show would have Batman and Robin battle the Joker with help from Superman.  This would bring more of the DC characters into the theme park. This show is really something, so hang in there as there more to this film show attraction later in the post.

The Joker's Diner:  a fast food service restaurant done up in a fun-filled circus atmosphere interlaced with the Joker's perverse sense of humor. Menus pop out of menacing Jack-in-the-boxes and each food item is served in a Joker take home container.

Penguin Pizza: a dive located near the waterfront with pool tables and a menu that offers hot and delicious pizza. The waiters are dressed in tuxedos and the Penguin himself makes appearances to dine with his most valued friends. He gives new meaning to the term "table hopping" as he moves about the parlor.

Lex Luthor's Villains Club:  the finest restaurant in town. Inside there are deep booths and mysterious corners. The walls are adorned with caricatures of some of Gotham's finest -- not celebrities -- but villains. Yes, you're about to dine in Lex Luthor's tribute to the criminal elite of Gotham City. Here in the shadows is where the most vile villains in the world meet to sup and plan their next caper. As your reservation is checked and you're escorted to your table you might find yourself dining right next to some of the most famous comic book Nemesis (is that the proper word? I'll have to consult the Mystery Men) in the world. The Joker, Catwoman, The Penguin, Brainiac, The Riddler and Two-Face are just some of the characters that eat here on a daily basis. It's an experience you won't soon forget where you'll dine on 4-star dishes as right next to you the Clown Prince of Crime plots his next battle with the Caped Crusader!

The Metro and The Krypton Club:  that would incorporate Krypton-green series of chambers as the deco would bring many of the Superman villains and heroes into the theme park. Lois Lane's Metropolis Diner, Daily Planet Press Club, Smallville Soda Shop, are just a few of the ideas that would have been restaurants for the theme park. 

Batcave Night Club:  would give you access to the Batlab or the computer center. Also, Catwoman’s Lair would also be at this club as part of it’s store. Selling fur (of course), glow sticks, bag’s, and many other etc stuff.  But here is the leak official document that tells all about this night club and Catwomen Lair.

The Bat Lab:  a Sharper Image clone that sells high end electronic gadgets

The Fiddler's Sing-A-Long:  where you can record your own tape of a top-40 song

The Justice League Gallery: a DC Universe store with original art, collectibles and other limited-edition items for serious collectors

The Flash Messenger Service:  a place to buy custom postcards and posters of guests as superheroes that can be mailed directly from the store itself!

The Atom: a miniature store with dollhouse collectibles, Matchbox vehicles, and hand-painted tin soldiers.

Paradise Island: custom-made jewelry and accessories for men and women.

Hawkworld: a store devoted to flying that sells model airplanes, aviation books and anything else related to soaring through the skies.

Mr. Miracle's Magic Shop: a place that sells what else...magic trick.

Toy Master's Toy Store: your purveyor of unique toys from around the world.

Swamp Things: sells gifts from nature, fossils, nature books, world maps and educational toys.

Joker's House of Mirrors: this would have been a walk-thought attraction base around a local carnival. People would walk though the house of mirrors trying to find a way out, but as you go though the mirrors the Joker himself would appear in the mirrors. As you traverse in this maze of mirrors a wrong turn would lead to blast from the floor and ceiling by air jets. 

Superhero Training Camp: this area would be a obstacles and climbing course. Mainly theme from the DC universe and mostly likely for kids.  Much like Disneys DCA Redwood Creek Challenge area it does have one strange thing about it. It’s location would be in a area called “Adventure Island” which could have been a prelude to “Island of Adventure” land.

Big Top Ride: this was your basic centrifuge spinning ride base around a circus tent.

Jokers Merry-go-around: this was a strange and weird spin of the Merry-go-around ride. I don’t know if this was meant for kids, but it’s concept is really scary. So, here go’s, you get strapped into these distorted and grotesque animals. As the rides get going around and around the whole carousal would rise up and the animals you are strapped too would begin to rise about 4 stories high before pulling back.  Still, this sounded so cool is wish somebody would take a chance to do this mix up in the carousal design.

The Jokers Fun-house: this would be a typical ride base around the “wild mouse ride system”.  For those who don’t the Wild Mouse ride system is a roller coaster track system where the cars make hairpin turns.  This fun house would be theme to Jokers sick and twisted ideas. Fog, dark light and other ticks would be used as you travel though the house. But the one thing interesting here was the the basis of Jokers fun-house traps.  If you a comic book fan or know the story, this fun-house would be incorporate the traps and settings from the famous Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's masterpiece story called “Batman: “The Killing Joke”.   This story line had Commissioner Gordon go though Joker’s Fun-house much like the comic it’s base on.  Here’s a scene from the comic “Batman: The Killing Joke”.

Superhero Stadium: this area would house the "Justice League Games."  Areas based around Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, and the Justice League Hall of Justice would have you seen trophies and ice sculptures which would have been house in a ice castle.  The whole theme would show you of Superman exploits and lead to games center around the Justice League characters. Green Arrow's Archery Range  - Shooting arrows of course. Batman's Batcuff Toss - nuff said. Flash's Light Game - a hitting of partners of light game. Wonder Woman's Golden Lasso Game - this game is very vague but seems to be one of those climbing ropes and tossing rings type of games mostly like what you see at carnivals or state fairs. Green Lantern's Power Ring Beam - Much like those balloon shooting water gun games. You have to put on the power ring and aim it at a target where light would shoot out making something reach a moon and whoever first wins the prize. The Outlaw Kid's Quick Draw - This is something from the 90’s era of gaming. Basically a quick draw game, but with DC characters. One thing here, the character is suppose to be Jonah Hex not Outlaw Kid. Aquaman's Undersea Adventure - Another Wacko-mole- game just hitting sharks.Robin's Skee Ball Alley - Hey who does’nt like skee ball. Zatanna's Magic Booth - A fortune telling booth only with the sexy magician herself telling your fortune. Not a bad thing to do considering how many fortune telling readings ending up trying to get a date with her. Plastic Man's Pop A Shot - A basketball game shoot out only with Plastic Man as the ball. Ah, Gross!!!

Batcar/Boat Interactive Adventure Dark Ride/Coaster Combination: The car ride would follow the plot of the 1989’s Batman where you leave the Batcave and end up stopping the Joker at the chemical plant. The boat ride would have you assist Batman in shoot traps that Joker had laid around Gotham City. Much like Men in Black: Alien Attack ride it would go around the theme park with you having to rack up a high score in order for you to save the city.
Race with the Joker Motion Simulator Ride: motion simulator where you board a Batman-themed ride vehicle (Batmobile or the Batjet) would be your vehicles and Batman would set coordinates onto the Joker's

Joker’s Wild Ride: would come from a trim down version of  the “Race with the Joker” ride only a bit more realistic. Riders would pilot a Batman vehicle on a adventure of a lifetime.
The guest would have to enter Wayne Manor which would serve as the ride queue. The queue would have Alfred greek guest and guide them though a secret passage to the Batcave where you would load on to the ride vehicle. Once on the ride Batman would pop up on display telling you that he needs help locating the Joker. You would blast out of the Batcave and find the Joker in a taxi cab. But the Joker isn’t without his tricks and guns would pop out of the taxi cab and start shooting at you. When your vehicle is damage from the gun shoot’s you reach the end of the road which is a bridge, but Batman manage to transform you vehicle into the Batjet. Did I mention that all of this is real, not a motion simulator.
As you fly in the skies of Gotham City you engage in aerial dogfight with the Joker. You follow him into the Chemical plant. You enter though pipes that might feel something out of the Darth Star scene from “Return of the Jedi”. You fight Joker in the chemical plant who would show up, but the Penguin.  He would shoot at you causing your Batjet to crash out of the chemical plant which lead to a head on collision with the Joker, but Batman saves the day by grabing the Joker from his ride and the riders ending back at the Batcave.

Another concept for the “Joker Wild” ride as a roller coaster based on the design of Six Flag’s Ninja.  Here something that is different then what Six Flag’s does, because they would use the whole theme park area as your layout of the ride.  As people dine and shop, riders of “Joker Wild” would ride above until Jokers shoots some gas and you find yourself in a place called “Welcome to Jokerland”.  This would be a upside down version of the theme park. This is the dark ride part called “Welcome to Jokerland”
Justice League Mindwarp - Enter the world of Virtual Reality: this attraction was suppose to be a sort of VR experience into acting out in the world of super heroes using the VR helmet tech and other VR technology. This concept was so highly involved that they called on a neurosurgeon into show to stimulate certain false assumption in the brain.

The Batjet Adventure Hanging Coaster Dark Ride

Superman Simulator - Ride the skies with the Man of Steel

The Batman & Robin Action Adventure Spectacular!:  The way they wanted this show to be seen in having 3,000 guest for multiple showing could have reach that lofty goal of 10,000 to 20,000. Seated in the amphitheater around the Gotham City Theme Park was the stage for this show. Across the lagoon you would see the skyscraper's and buildings that house the many attractions and shows, but the key to this was the building were real, not fake. That was what made this show important in the setting of the action. Remember, this whole park was build as real buildings. No sound stage or fake facades. So, most of the show is in water. A lot of boats where use and theirs explosion, fireworks, and gunfire galore.
It’s starts off at the Axis Chemical Plant, where Gotham city patrol boats are in the area. Then a very BIG TV pops up with Commissioner Gordon warning the citizen of Gotham to stay indoors. The Joker has been threatening Gotham with insane demands, which unless meant could spell doom for Gotham City.  Suddenly a big boat appears with a trap cover over it. When the Joker laughter is heard the trap is removed to revealed a gunship boat. It starts attacking the chemical plant and patrol boats. When all this mayhem is occurring, the Bat signal lights up. Behold Batman shows up to  stop Joker and what happens is a lot of shooting and chasing in the Batmobile. After some good car chasing and action, Joker gets away.  But later Robin joins in on the action and both head back to the Batcave where they get a surprise transmission from the Joker and his friends The Penguin and Catwoman.  They tell Batman and Robin that they have manage to hijacking a warhead missile.  Unless Gotham is turn over to them the warfare will be fired right into the heart of Gotham city.  Here’s some more concept artwork from this event. The action is spilt with Robin on a motorcycle and Batman on his Batboat taking on the villains. Among the action set pieces was the appearance of Penguin island. The action really heats up when Joker starts lunching the missile.  By then, Batman and Robin is in a race against time and quite a few villains.  Catwoman and Penguin keeps the dynamic duo busy while Joker activities his defense system. Both Batman and Robin use their vehicles to stop all the villains with mass action in a grand action opus.  Here’s a little more concept artwork from the show. Now comes the end of the show.  Joker fires the missile and Batman must stop it by hooking on to the missile while in launching. This reminds be of The Batman and Robin movie from 1997 which had this scene at the beginning of the of movie. Anyway, Batman battle Joker and mange to stop the missile which ends with a big water explosion. Joker is being shown to be seen back at Arkham Asylum after the final battle and the crowd goes while in a show that put’s Waterwold to shame.

What Did Happen: While none of the 80’s and 90’s movie version of Batman made it to the US parks. By this time Six Flags had adopted the comics book version of the character.  Only the Six Flags stunt shows featuring Batman had elements of the 80’s Batman films, except in the foreign parks. Batman Adventure the ride was the only thing to come out from those late 80’s and 90’s movie version of Batman.  Warner Brothers Movie World theme park in Germany and Australia had commission a ride based on those Batman movies from the 80’s.  This was a motion simulator ride by the McFadden System, inc which had similarities to Star Tours. The ride would be revamp in 2001 and called Batman Adventure the Ride 2. While new pre-show and voices were changed much of the ride remind the same according to Wiki.

Clipped from Theme Park University: After Universal Studios Florida opened in 1990 and became a worthy contender to compete in the theme park capital of the world, a small task force was put together to expand the property. The plan was to build a second gate along with hotels and a central shopping and dining complex. As early as 1991, Rank Entertainment, who owned a major share in Universal’s parks, started exploring concepts that could be used to not only compliment USF, but could offer stiff competition and unique intellectual properties in Orlando.

“Project X” was originally going to exclusively use cartoon characters in its original design. The idea was to combine established characters used in cartoon shorts, children’s books and comics to bring the park to life. Several years before Marvel eventually signed on the dotted line with Universal, ideas were pitched to DC Comics to see if they were interested in expanding their theme park footprint. Literally a year before Gotham’s best known crime fighter started showing up in Six Flags parks, Universal was interested in creating a Batman themed ride of its own. The Bat Wing was to be the premier roller coaster in Universal’s new Orlando theme park, if not the world. It would feature the first steel dueling track coaster that would wind and weave through three massive show buildings. At this time Batman Returns, starring Danny DeVito as The Penguin, was in production with Warner Brothers Studios and would be released right around the time these concepts were being developed. Universal was clearly trying to license a very popular property that was a smash hit with the original Batman movie starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson that was released in 1989. 

Before entering the queue, guests would choose which side they wanted to represent: either Batman or the Penguin. Each queue would have been completely unique and lead down to one of two separate loading areas far beneath the streets of Gotham. If your choice was to represent the Dark Knight, that queue would open up to the Batcave where riders would board a flying Batmobile or “BatWing.” Roller coaster aficionados will be quick to notice that the design is a suspended one and not an inverted track (where rider’s feet dangle). This is because at the time of the pitch, an inverted coaster had not yet debuted. However, it was being designed by B&M for Six Flags. If guests chose to represent evil, they found themselves in the sewers of Gotham City in the Penguin’s lair. Notice the guns perched on either side of the front of the “PenGwing Fighter”. The idea was riders were going to soar through Gotham and literally do battle with one another while perched inside these unique ride vehicles. Once the coasters left the load area they would find themselves both inside and outside of massive show buildings. The tracks would be designed where the coasters would swing right at each other, resulting in several near misses throughout the ride. Is any of this starting to sound familiar yet? At certain points in the attraction, riders could actually “fire” their weapons at various elements located in the show scenes. The Riddler’s Warehouse, seen above, would have been in all black light. As the guns fired to destroy the warehouse, giant question marks would fall down towards the coaster cars in several near miss moments in the ride.

Unfortunately, DC Comics never inked a deal with Universal and the deal was never sealed, thus The Bat Wing roller coaster never made it off the drawing board. Perhaps this was because they weren’t certain how well the second Batman movie would do at the box office. Or perhaps it was because Six Flags made them a better deal at the time. Most likely, Warner Brothers wasn’t interested in a theme park deal that involved a rival movie studio (yet).

Batman The Ride: Meanwhile in 1992, Batman: The Ride opened at Six Flags Great America just outside of Chicago as the world’s first inverted roller coaster built by B&M. It has been cloned several times throughout the Six Flags chain and is considered to be one of the greatest achievements in the steel roller coaster industry.

No comments: