Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Potential WoL Resurrection Ideas, part 7

Welcome back, readers, and after a few glimpses on the external and visibility aspects of the Wonders of Life pavilion in this hypothesis-centered series, here are a few past articles in case you would like more information, or have just missed it:
  1. The Interior (Design, Structure at a Glance)
  2. Music Playlist
  3. Floorplan, Attraction Categories
  4. Colour and Design Schemes
  5. Sponsorship and Character Involvement
  6. Advertising, Promotion and Visibility
Which brings us to the next section in the series, which will definitely go beyond the design and aesthetics aspects of the series, and through to the functional...

Theme and Attraction Focus

a. Overall Pavilion Theme

With regards to the previous posts, especially with the design of the interior and some changes in colour scheme, it might be time to look at the bigger picture and consider the overall themes of the attractions and the pavilion as a whole. Given that handfuls of visitors come to the parks for the experience, it would be of great importance to ensure the theme remains not just consistent, but appropriate in three ways - the attraction's purpose, the pavilion purpose, and its part in its residential area. That is, if you look closely at Wonders of Life with intent to revive it, putting together an overall pavilion theme would have to consider the following:
  • The theme would have to reflect on the pavilion's overall purpose, and its purpose was to educate yet entertain and involve guests into picking up healthy habits...
  • The theme would also have to either blend in or intertwine and unite the other pavilion's exhibits and attractions, or at least capture their niche within the pavilion.
  • The theme would also have to reflect on its place in Future World. Obviously in the past and with regards to theme, the pavilion was not exactly up to par with regards to design for the future. The bright colors and confetti-like pattern schemes severely rooted the pavilion aesthetics into the early 90s.
For instance, if you look back on photos of the pavilion, including the visitor accessible areas and even the upstairs lounge areas, you'll notice back in the early 90s that the pavilion was given a carnival theme, which in earlier posts, forced Wonders into being the sore thumb of Future World (but not in a negative sense since Journey into Imagination tended to use bright colours to draw in crowds young and old). Strictly, if you considered Future World's initial theme (if you took into account of how other pavilions - Communicore, World of Motion, The Living Seas, even Horizons), you'll notice that they are ambiently designed as if you were visiting the future in the flesh. For Wonders, given the colour schemes and patterning areas, it appears that the pavilion was only designed for the now rather than as time eventually progressed.
With regards to suggestions for themes that would not only fulfil the above three points, let's figure out a few solutions that could do Wonders of Life a possible reviving service. Taking aesthetics and design out of the picture, let's leave aside the 'carnival' theme and consider the following...
The Futureport/Terminal Theme
Aptly named, the Futureport theme owes its influence from Horizons (RIP), and how the pavilion will be placed together will be in the form of a large airport terminal, with various portals leading to the attractions.
It would be an interesting starting point in regards to presenting any upcoming attraction times as scheduled (for instance, for an innerspace ride, it's not just "one mission every 15 minutes", it would display its exploration locations, as well as the exact disembark time, and calculating the wait time to catch the desired location, the estimated 'queue by' time). The environment it would likely emulate would be an airport terminal (sans the luggage carousel and everything else), but let's leave it as minimal, so it won't interfere with the theme assigned to each attraction.
Attractions that would benefit from the theme module
Body Wars (or similar), Cranium Command
The Interactive Science Fair Theme
This would prove engaging and attractive with regards to the kinesetic aspects of the pavilion attractions and exhibits (such as Fitness Fairgrounds and Sensory Center), and even any interactive aspects per attraction (if any). Of course, in the case of attraction queues, perhaps information plaques, and even demonstrative displays providing information to the guests while waiting in line might probably carry on a piece of the theme.
Attractions that would benefit from the theme
Sensory Funhouse, Fitness Fairgrounds, niche incarnation for Habit Heroes (or similar)
The Interactive Medical Showroom
This theme could work well in some areas, such as the Medical Innovations sections and especially the Innerspace aspects of the pavilion (see Floorplan, Attraction Categories for more information), and this theme would best reflect the futuristic aspect of (obviously) Future World.  Environments that would be emulated to a referential extent would include the laboratory and hospital wards. However, keep in mind that not everyone might consider a hospital visit their idea of a vacation (aside from some triggers that some guests might find sensitive, so toning down to the demonstrative minimum would be made do.)
Attractions that would benefit from the theme
Body Wars (or similar), Frontiers in Medicine (or similar)
Of course, while these are just a fragment of potential ambience ideas, it is important to note that some ideas for such themes may not always agree with one or more attractions or sections within the pavilion, so careful planning is needed. Or probably, as indicated, there are times that more than one theme may as well combine into some much more innovative results. However, there are much more ideas out there somewhere. Readers, you are invited to send in which idea would work well for a possible all-over theme for the pavilion, and if it might work well, this could end up as part of this article.

b. Attraction Theme, i

With regards to the themes arranged and nominated for Wonder's attractions, it would be of assistance to look over the nominated themes for each attraction, and figure out what would be needed to improve, or even fix them for overall ambient results. Despite the themes working for the attractions in their prime, it seems that there are cases where the theme wasn't working for the attraction, let alone reflect accurately certain aspects of the attraction. We shall look at some of the attraction ambience cases below, using two of the most successful attractions for now
Body Wars
How it was designed
At a glance, from the queue corridors through to the boarding areas (as stated in the thumbnails below), Body Wars was designed to echo a state-of-the-art, futuristic medical academy, with a more tourist-oriented exploration empowerment mixed in. As seen in walkthrough videos, photos and many others, the Body Wars attraction ambience apparently radiated the most futuristic to warrant Wonders of Life's incorporation of Future World (and hence it was heavily marketed towards tourists during the height of the early 90s.)
How it worked/didn't work
With regards to effectiveness and portrayal, apart from the video screens placed above the queue, there was not a lot of explanations to why you were here.There was nothing particularly engaging, such as the use of informational posters and queue elements - in fact, as crowd numbers dwindled whenever walk-on ride sessions happened in the 2005 and 2006 seasonals respectively, guests found the area creepy and eerie (haunted, perhaps?), cold and uninviting.
While video screens were helpful in showing guests how things went around MET Biotech, it would be then that few guests may pay attention to the screens (especially those who could not be bothered tilting their heads to peek at them), and not to mention the fact that there are those who would rather be given something to read in the queue (written text on plaques)
What would have improved the queue
Taking into account the Soarin over California (Disney's California Adventure, that is) queue area, you may recall (that or not) that there was archival and historical information pertaining to flight and aviation, and for this reason, the goal of Body Wars (or for a similar pro-thrill replacement ride or system) would be to inform guests about the possible destinations they might be taken through.
Apart from the introductory set of photos, perhaps the illustration below for a reference would be a spectacular opportunity to showcase stunning medical shots (okay, not the kind that turns guests off their food, but microscopic, medically-generated photos.)
There would be some plaques placed serving as a supplementary transcript to the videos, or perhaps hall-of-fame gallery introducing the doctors and crew behind the experience, or the history of the body probes used, or also diagrams and processes. However, the guest may let it all slide by, but that would be excellent brain-food for geeks interested in the details.
This is just one thought pertaining to how the queue would have been designed in some parts of the Body Wars queue

Cranium Command
How it was designed
In a stark contrast to Body Wars' more science-fictional ambience, Cranium Command had a more patriotic, military feel, and even then, with a Toontown kind of flair evident (especially with the mid 1990s sign change). Given that the attraction was developed when bright colours were favored well within the crowd through fashion circles, it is not uncommon to find such use preserved through the photos as evidence.
How it worked/didn't work
While Cranium Command as a sole attraction was lucky-successful, the ambience areas with regards to giving off a good first impression may have needed a lot of improvement. For instance,
Secondly, despite the recruitment mood being evident within the queue, there's no straight-to-the-point reasons given without some supplementary information. It's a case of "Sure, we are being recruited... for what reason exactly?"
Thirdly, the use of the wall paper colour schemes does not accurately reflect the military nature of the attraction, and hence may as well throw off the guest. So with those reasons, I can probably assume it's a case of 'wrong impression' or 'lack of information' that formed the Achilles heel for this top-brain attraction. Because of this, there were recorded instances of guests in very few numbers investigating the attraction from the queue, and on confusion, they left.
What would have improved
To the problems above, while some aspects of the queue were fascinating in its own way, the queue would have possibly benefited from a change in colour scheme (away from the fluro-80s but a little into a more Future World vein), as this will help raise the attraction a step higher into the Future World attraction area.
Sketch pertaining to attraction entrance (had it not been turned into a Festival Stage earlier). Perhaps an alternate area might be in question... hmmm?
Sketch pertaining to a few posters, some thumbnailed medallions and infographic posters, and yes, some Buzzy-ness.
Also, to subtract insult from injury, while this may be a little bit too much by attraction standards, perhaps the placement of the following to set the attraction scene and story might help. For instance, as cited from the above sketches:
- An obligatory WELCOME plaque, an About Us/What We Do plaque
- Some more scholarly information on the brain (some infographics posted in the 'receptionist part' of the queue), but in this case, in an artistic and whimsy take on the brain-body functions (this could be a monumental promotional piece!), paying homage to the original attraction.
- Of course, the recruitment posters can be kept, as a historical key item (think recruitment through the years of the organisation), and also the brainteasers (interactive/changing) and Hall of Brains gallery (the brains idea is excellent, but this might need a brief informational plaque for novices) can be kept there as an excellent and fascinating reminder.
- Plus, the medallions do serve a military reference, but it can help with regards to facing issues and performing outstanding notable feats (expand the range with some information, as I think three just isn't enough to tell the whole story.)
While all this is didactic at parts, perhaps at least the guest will get an idea on what goes on in the organisation (and heck this could form a backstory towards some characters!)
These only cover two of the most profound attractions in Wonders of Life's history, and they serve as possibly some examples on what could be improved upon the certain aspects of the entrance and exit aspects of the attractions. Of course, by today's standards, while both entrances may be inoperable to work on, let alone access now, remember that these are only hypotheses on what the updated queues and entrances would have looked like by now.
And that is my two cents on how the ambience would be overhauled to cover the aspects of Future World as its primary residence. If you have any enquiries, or just have some suggestions pertaining to this article, feel free to leave a comment. Operators are standing by, ready for your reply.

Until next time, readers!

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