Imagineering a Disney Mountain Resort

Heppenheimer

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For some reason lately, mainly because the weather is about to change where I live into the winter ski season, I've been wondering, if Disney ever decided to revisit the idea of opening a ski resort, what would it look like? What unique features would offer? And I say "revisit" because Disney once seriously considered building such a property in the Mineral King valley, which is now a part of Sequoia National Park in California. Here's the complete story, with concept art:

https://www.kcet.org/shows/lost-la/disneys-lost-plans-to-build-a-ski-resort-in-sequoia-national-park

To summarize, the National Forest Service sought proposals to build a ski resort here, and Disney's submission was chosen. As the project expanded in scope, environmental groups sued to stop it, and eventually Disney relented. The location was later annexed by Sequoia National Park, which killed any possibility of the project ever being resurrected. The only portion that was ever realized became the Country Bear Jamboree, which was shifted to the existing theme parks.

So, as I get the time here and there, I will share my ideas for a new Disney owned and designed ski resort, including possible locations, the general outline and some specific features. I'm mostly going to pull and fuse ideas from existing ski resorts in North America and Europe. The aim will be to make it a four season resort, with special emphasis on a wide variety winter sports activities but also providing activities for non-enthusiasts. To remain economically viable with all the bells and whistles that Disney usually provides, it will also offer summer and fall activities.

Note: All the images I've included I found on the internet, unless I indicate that I personally took the picture. Nothing you see in any of my posts is actually a design that I created.
 
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Heppenheimer

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To begin, the general concept is an Olympic village modeled after Mt. Tremblant resort near Montreal:

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Not for the specific architectural design styles (more on that later) but for the general layout. Mt. Tremblant is a completely self-contained resort. The hotels are ski-in, ski-out, and the main pistes end directly in a pedestrian-only shopping, dining and entertainment village. Once you park your car, you can reach everything on foot, ski or (gasp!) gondola.

More to come....
 

Miru

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Would this place have its own Skyliner? Perhaps have a gondola-based show/ride ala Primeval World could be done?
 

Heppenheimer

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Original Poster
Would this place have its own Skyliner? Perhaps have a gondola-based show/ride ala Primeval World could be done?
It would definately have at least one gondola line to the top of the mountain, the rest would be chair lifts. At large resorts, the most prominent lift up the mountain is either a cable car or gondola line.

I hadn't thought about scenic dioramas on the lifts, but that's definately an idea. When I describe the actual slopes, I'll try to work something like that in.

Scenic
 

Heppenheimer

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Next, although I like the general layout of the Mt. Tremblant resort, the goal here is to not to replicate it exactly. As you can see, the architectural styles used there already look somewhat Disney-fied, but I want something a little more fantastical for this theoretical resort.

Overall, the style of the resort, particularly the pedestrian shopping and dining area, will be based on an idealized European Alpine village, with perhaps some whimsical touches here and there. I want to avoid hamfisted IP-insertion, but this being Disney, the design elements will contain references to some of their properties, where appropriate.

The general look is inspired by the chalet-based architecture of the Alps (Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, Austria) and some of the towns motifs in southern Bavaria and Austria. Some examples:

Mürren, Switzerland:

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Kitzbühel, Austria:
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Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany:

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Füssen, Germany:
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Mittenwald, Germany:
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Oberammergau, Germany:
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Besides being really pretty, I figure the Alps look is a good fit for Disney because this style of architecture heavily influenced Disney's own fairy tale appearance in both movies and theme parks. So in a sense, it's just an adaptation of Disney own existing "house style" of design.

However, despite the predominant European Alpine style, I would like each of the on-site hotels to represent different areas of the world, specifically regions with well-established winter sport traditions. Sort of like a World Showcase of ski lodges. I'm thinking perhaps making the flagship hotel fit with the Alps theme, but also build hotels based on Scandinavia, eastern North America, western North America and northeastern Asia. More on these later.
 
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Heppenheimer

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Many of these chalet-style buildings throughout the Alps feature very colorful murals:422453422454

Perhaps these types of murals would provide an opportunity to add some Disney characters, while still respecting the general style.
 
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Miru

Well-Known Member
Many of these chalet-style buildings throughout the Alps feature very colorful murals:View attachment 422453View attachment 422454

Perhaps these types of murals would provide an opportunity to add some Disney characters, while still respecting the general style.
Can I come up with ideas for the murals?

One mural depicts the events of both Frozen movies, plus nods to the literary expanded universe. Another one is an ode to the Matterhorn and Expedition Everest, the duality of the Yeti.
 

Heppenheimer

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Original Poster
Next, the actual ski slopes.

The experience here won't be substantially different from other major ski resorts. Although there will be small Imagineering touches here and there, because skiing is a fundamentally risky activity, the visual distractions on the pistes would need to be kept to a minimum.

At least one gondola line will serve as the main lift up to the top of the mountain, with accessory chair lifts to reach other portions of the mountain. Again, nothing substantially different in this matter except perhaps making the individual gondolas decorative, like the Skyliner. Perhaps the main, flag ship hotel of the resort will have it's own chair or gondola lift, kind of like the Grand Californian in Disneyland has its own entrance to California Adventure.

Most major resorts have at least one large restaurant/lounge/observation building on or near the summit of the mountain. For our Disney resort, this could also serve as the focal point of the mountain, much like the castles in the parks (what Walt called a "weanie", for some reason). Building a fairy tale castle on a mountain probably isn't practical, but here's a related idea. Walt was inspired by Ludwig II of Bavaria's famous Schloss Neuschwanstein in the design of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. The "weanie" of our resort could be modeled on another of Ludwig II's residences, the very-hard-to-reach mountain chalet of Königshaus am Schachen, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen:
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Unlike its real-world counterpart, which can only be reached via a long uphill hike, our chalet will be easily accessible via gondola and assorted chair lifts.
 
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Heppenheimer

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As noted, the slopes would be standard ski slopes, with perhaps offering slightly more beginner and intermediate pistes for the families that would likely visit here. Because one of the goals of the resort would be to host Olympic-level competitions, though, there should be at least one piste suitable for the Alpine down hill event, and others suitable for all the slalom events. There would also be a terrain park. In the interest of minimizing visual distractions, the pistes would only have scenic Disney elements in areas where you want to draw the skiers' attention, like where the piste has a sharp turn. Maybe cartoonish little buildings like the alligator's house at Blizzard Beach.422592
 

Heppenheimer

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Much like the theme parks, there would be appropriate music playing in the background on the slopes.

But one of the real differences would occur at night. The resort would, of course, offer some night skiing, but it would incorporate a feature I've only seen at one other resort, Åre in Sweden. Illumination with colored and moving lights:
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Heppenheimer

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Original Poster
Can I come up with ideas for the murals?

One mural depicts the events of both Frozen movies, plus nods to the literary expanded universe. Another one is an ode to the Matterhorn and Expedition Everest, the duality of the Yeti.
Sure. In my mind, though, the Disney themes on the murals are more subtle and in the background. And the murals are decorated in the regional venacular style, including the Disney elements. So, say for example, we wanted to include a reference to Frozen at the before-mentioned Scandinavian hotel. We might base the style on the carving style from a Norwegian stave church:
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Or, something more modern, like the Nordic mythology carvings on Oslo city hall:

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Or maybe even go Nordic modern, like the style you see at Ikea.422619

But this is an open forum to dream up an imaginary ski resort, so all submissions are welcome.
 

Heppenheimer

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Original Poster
Would this place have its own Skyliner? Perhaps have a gondola-based show/ride ala Primeval World could be done?
I was thinking how you could incorporate some kind of diorama on a gondola whose main purpose is to provide a lift to the top of the mountain... and I think I came up with an idea, based on my memory of the Grindelwald to Männlichen Bergbahn in Grindelwald, Switzerland (no, the town is not named after the villain of the Fantastic Creatures films!).

Anyway, about halfway up the mountain, the gondolas enter a midway station that serves two purposes. One, it allows the riders to exit at a lower altitude, and two, it serves to turn the line about 30 degrees so it can continue to the top. Here's the pictures I could find of it on the internet, none of which alone really shows the thoroughfare nature of the station:
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On second glance, that last picture actually shows the summit station. But there's the basic concept anyway. Particularly if Disney wanted to hide some ugly pieces of infrastructure, they could use a building like this to provide a little scenic display. Perhaps somebody else can come with an idea of what the display would entail.
 

Miru

Well-Known Member
Sure. In my mind, though, the Disney themes on the murals are more subtle and in the background. And the murals are decorated in the regional venacular style, including the Disney elements. So, say for example, we wanted to include a reference to Frozen at the before-mentioned Scandinavian hotel. We might base the style on the carving style from a Norwegian stave church:
View attachment 422615

Or, something more modern, like the Nordic mythology carvings on Oslo city hall:

View attachment 422618

Or maybe even go Nordic modern, like the style you see at Ikea.View attachment 422619

But this is an open forum to dream up an imaginary ski resort, so all submissions are welcome.
Those styles are what I was going for. Norwegian stave church-style carvings would be the best route, especially for Frozen. There might be some more modern styles mixed in as well, but nothing too un-Disney.

I was thinking how you could incorporate some kind of diorama on a gondola whose main purpose is to provide a lift to the top of the mountain... and I think I came up with an idea, based on my memory of the Grindelwald to Männlichen Bergbahn in Grindelwald, Switzerland (no, the town is not named after the villain of the Fantastic Creatures films!).

Anyway, about halfway up the mountain, the gondolas enter a midway station that serves two purposes. One, it allows the riders to exit at a lower altitude, and two, it serves to turn the line about 30 degrees so it can continue to the top. Here's the pictures I could find of it on the internet, none of which alone really shows the thoroughfare nature of the station:
View attachment 422621View attachment 422622View attachment 422623View attachment 422624

On second glance, that last picture actually shows the summit station. But there's the basic concept anyway. Particularly if Disney wanted to hide some ugly pieces of infrastructure, they could use a building like this to provide a little scenic display. Perhaps somebody else can come with an idea of what the display would entail.
Maybe we could have different ones on the way up and the way down? Would that be practical?
 

Heppenheimer

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Original Poster
Maybe we could have different ones on the way up and the way down? Would that be practical?
Could, although because the majority of the people riding the gondola up would ski or snowboard down the mountain, few would see the scenes developed for the downward trip of the gondola.
 

Heppenheimer

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Original Poster
Next big feature, one that wouldn't be unique to our Disney ski resort, but far less common for most winter resorts. A mostly indoor waterpark. The goal here is to provide a solid days' activity for people who don't partake in the more athletic endevours that the resort offers. Also, because this could operate year-round, it could provide extra income during the shoulder seasons when the main outdoor activities are not possible.

I'm guessing that most on this website are familiar with Great Wolf Lodge, but I'm taking inspiration more from three other specific examples. The first is the giant Therme Erding resort outside of Munich.
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This place is simply the ultimate water park for cooler climates. The waterpark for our Disney resort need not be so large or elaborate, but there's more than a few features I would want to replicate. Some of the areas have a retractable glass roof, which could be opened in warmer weather. I also like that many of the heated pools have outdoor sections... provided the water is kept warm enough, this is actually really pleasent in cold weather.422708

Finally, Therme Erding is also well known for it's highly themed sauna area. North Americans are probably far less into this than Europeans, but having a few saunas would be a nice addition (but I doubt the mixed gender, no clothes allowed custom in Germany would fly over here!). I've found saunas are a great way to recharge your muscles after a vigourous day of skiing.
 
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Heppenheimer

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Original Poster
The next influence on the water park is Tropical Islands Resort near Berlin.422709422710422711

I just love the immersive, indoor tropical theme of this resort.
 

Heppenheimer

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Original Poster
Third influence is an existing water park at Jay Peak ski resort in Vermont, known as "The Pumphouse".
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The theme here is subtle and you probably can't appreciate it from these pictures. There's an almost make-shift steam punk look to the place, which hints at the idea of trying to keep an indoor water park warm in an otherwise rather cold environment.
 
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Heppenheimer

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Original Poster
So, a fusion of all three would influence our Disney indoor waterpark. I think an interesting theme would be a sort of playful inversion of Blizzard Beach. Instead of a melting ski resort in a tropical environment, how about a tropical beach transported to a cold mountan environment? Maybe suggest a back story of a pirate curse shifting a tropical island to the polar regions. Try to replicate some of the huge scope of Therme Erding, the immersive theme of Tropical Islands Resort, and a DIY effort by the residents of the tropical beach to keep their home from freezing, like the Pump House. You could include references to the machinery of Swiss Family Treehouse:422717

Or the overall rustic water park feel of River Country:
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Heppenheimer

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Original Poster
Oh, and how could I forget this? Tying into other Disney resorts, for our indoor barely-remaining-thawed-tropical beach-waterpark, include references to classic Adventureland favorites, like the Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise (there must be an "Albert Falls" waterslide), Trader Sams, Pirates of the Caribbean, Skipper's Canteen and the Society of Explorers. The background music should be from the DBC, hosted by Albert Awol.
 
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