Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Watergate


First came the Dolphin & Swan, then came the Wand and Hat. Now this.
.

51 comments:

FHW said...

To be fair, they already defiled the Contemporary Resort by plopping that convention center in front with no consideration of similarities architecture.

vortech said...

Hmm, I had been imagining something more of a thin tall tower.

Eric Scales said...

And this picture doesn't look nearly as bad as som I've seen, with the new tower blocking the view of the contemporary.

Anonymous said...

Who in the Disney design team was stupid enough to plop down this monstrosity next to the Contemporary hotel? Who is calling the shots? Where are their design brains?

Anonymous said...

It looks like a parking garage.

teevtee said...

I don't really see the problem here to be honest. The Contemporary is an urban high rise hotel, so is this. They compliment each other and the new structure is not bad looking.

You cannot equate the monstrosities of the hat and wand, which are inside the parks, serve no purpose, destroy landmarks and were touted as temporary additions to this. Not EVERYTHING they do deserves bashing.

This is not really something to be excited about, but niether is it something to complain about.

Anonymous said...

Odd. The drawings I've seen in the past have put the DVC rooms on almost exactly the opposite side of the tower from what's shown here.
I think "vortech" and I saw the same pictures.

Adam said...

Where do I begin?! The fact that guests in the Magic Kingdom will be staring straight at what looks like a common Marriot? The fact that the eye is now drawn away from the appeal of the monorail going through the A-frame? How about the simple fact that the colors don't even match up?! They look like two completely different hotels instead of one harmonious resort. The answer to the question of "How do we add to the Contemporary Resort and make it a DVC property?" is simple: You don't. You want to build a DVC property near the Magic Kingdom? Let's dust off the old Venetian Resort concept, or the Persian, or anything that doesn't resemble an airport Radisson. If you want Disney magic, then you need to make it magical. If you want to cut corners and throw something up to make a fast dollar, then just save us all the time and and trouble and bring in Holiday Inn. The Contemporary already suffers from a overall lack of unifying theme as opposed to its sister WDW resorts. It's main drawing feature is the monorail going right through the A-frame. All this new building does is take away from what is already there. I suppose that the DVC Contemporary guests are going to have to walk across to the A-frame to do anything like eat breakfast or shop for souvenirs? How magical. If there will indeed be full service resteraunts and shops in this new thing, then let's not kid ourselves, we're building two completely separate hotels here. And from what I can see, this new hotel has all the charm and grace of a wet noodle. Did we learn nothing from the Swan and the Dolphin?!

/bsdb said...

Re-Imagineering delivers again. The articles virtually write themselves! Which Rasulo flying monkey is responsible for this latest aesthetics nightmare?

"Don't miss Walt Disney Imagineering: At World's End now playing indefinitely at a Disney Resort near you!

Arthur said...

Why couldn't they have built another identical A Frame tower in line with the first one, or simply extended the current one? Why is Disney building weird plans and weird ideas now-a-days? They can do so much better!

dean said...

LOL! There IS a remarkable similarity to the Watergate complex in DC!!

I really hope that they don't go through with this proposal. It competes for attention with the original Contemporary tower and the application of the same treatment for the facade makes it unremarkable. I've never been a huge fan of the Contemporary Resort, but I can appreciate what they were trying to do with the unique construction techniques and the excitement they created by having the monorail go through it. This building just seems to be driven by marketing studies -- build the maximum amount of units for maximum sales.

I agree that it would be better to maintain the importance of the original tower as a landmark within the property. I even like the comment to lengthen the original building -- it could be very exciting if done imaginatively. Even a lower building that acknowledges and compliments the original building would be preferable.

Anonymous said...

SHHHH- this is another "Best Kept Secret" by the DVC $$$ Goons

Bruce said...

What a boring uninspired design. Yuck. And it looks to me like it will block some of the amazing views of the park The Contempory now enjoys. This is the best Disney designers could come up with? Pretty Pathetic.

Bocabear said...

The real shame here is that it is already to late to stop the madness...the demolition is complete and while there are a million ways to solve this problem creatively and with en eye towards the original aesthetics,I am sure they will not be re-visiting any design plans at this phase. It is just more boneheaded design decisions with no regard to sightlines and the original premise of the park... After this DVC resort is sold out I want to hear another story about how they don't have enough money to build an "E" ticket attraction due to the budget...

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when MFA's with no real experience try to make a name for themselves. They Design for the sake of Design.

Rough and Tumble Boy said...

Is the problem that the design is too vertical? In other words, would it have helped to have the floors step back at each level like the Contemporary? Just my opinion, but if it had been designed to be a bit more pyramid-like, it would have tied in better with the Contemporary. And the fact that it's round links it to Space Mountain, in a way. It might have fit in quitely nicely, like an entire tomorrow-istic city, made of three related but different buildings.

Just a thought anyway. I don't know enough about design to be an expert, that's for sure.

dean said...

Those are some good thoughts Rough& Tumble. The fact is that many people have an eye for aesthetics, and some of the principles of design are not all that abstract. Going by one's gut instinct is usually fairly reliable.

The Contemporary Hotel was deigned as a landmark, built at a strategic location between the lake and the lagoon. It is a carefully placed "weenie" that has become a symbol of WDW for over 35 years now.

In this proposed design, it looks like the new tower is going to be built at the same height as the original and in fairly close proximity. What this means is that the importance of the original tower is going to be diminished. The dramatic look of a single, angular, modern building is going to be watered down by a similar-looking, rounded building built right next to it. As a loose example, it would be like building a gothic Tower of Terror next to Cinderella Castle.

There are numerous ways that this addition to the resort can be handled properly which is why I'm puzzled over why they would even consider this scheme.

jrags said...

I do not hate this, it looks like 1972 - Watergate or WDW opening day. I won't be purchasing the "making of " coffee table book of it though and I hope it does not infringe on the initial view from the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.

Is there any love here for Meet the Robinsons? I enjoyed it and thought some of the city design could be incorporated into something. My initial thought was to bulldoze DinoLand, but now I think they could have done something from MTR into that hotel that would have tied Contemporary with Space Mountain. I dunno.

It could be worse, they could have opened a Dollar General like they did at my turn at home. Sigh

teevtee said...

Like it or hate it lets clarify a few issues just to keep the facts straight;

This new tower will nto block views of the park, it is set back and to the side enough that this is not an issue. Secondly, and this is less important but just to clarify, I am fairly certain that WDI has nothng to do with this. If you are going to be mad WDI is nto "guilty" in this case. Lastly, if you look at an aireal view you see the building is round and very intentionally designed as a contrast to the exisiting building. Again, you may not like ti but it is not random or done without thought by any means.

Here is a link of an overhead shot:

http://www.screamscape.com/html/wdw_-_contempdvc_10.htm

You can see that the new tower is on the lake side, not the park side so it does not block views. i think it is clear that they are going for a "city of the future" look here. I actually think they may be better off adding even another toer of a unique design so it starts to get thet urban feel.

the fact is that as much as we may love the original tower it is a dated design that hs been a problem for Disney for a long time. By mixing in newer designs (such as the convention center and now this) the hotel starts to actually look like a real city with a mixture of designs. I think this is a good thing.

I hate to find myself defending this because I must agree that there are MANY approaches that could be taken and many would be more exiciting. But at the end of the day I think that MANY things could be worse and that this should work overall. It is certainly better than the dreadful "garden wings" is is replacing and it adds some much needed life to a rapidly dated resort. the site lines will be no more of, and probably less than the current tower has to deal with. Meaning you may catch portions of it from spots in tomorrowland and it will fit in there just fine.

Cobi said...

"Mom, is that really our hotel; where the monorail goes right through?"
"No, honey, we're staying in the parking garage to it's right."
"....Oh...."

Honestly, I'm surprised Disney would do something like this when they have other plans that could be enacted, like the persian design. Personally, I would love to see something like that. It would be a great cultural addition to Disney. However, I can understand that it might be at least a little controversial in the sense of terrorism.

They could at least be more creative. I could've sworn when I looked at it that it was a parking garage; it looks exactly like what I would drive into at the airport in Tampa.

Doesn't this detract from the view of guests in the Contemporary? I'm sure that'd be romantic. To be out on your balcony with the beautiful castle in the background, fireworks going off to music you can faintly hear and..... a big parking garage to the side. Lovely.

Bocabear said...

There are so many ways to solve these problems...My biggest question is why. Why do they have to coninually water down the beautiful iconic landmarks with inconsequential design. Could this new DVC tower not have been built in the other cleared hotel location between the TTC and the Contemporary? then it could have it's own Monorail station and not compete with the sitelines from the park. What is next? A "Hampton Inn" style building next to the Polynesian for the DVC?

Scott said...

A number of people have talked about how this new building is a boring, uninspired design...my question back is: What was so inspired about the Contemporary tower in the first place? Whenever I see it, it just screams "tacky 70s a-frame". Stepping back from the emotions involved, it really seems that the only reason so many are so attached to it is because it's sat there for 36 years.

Yeah, sure, there are probably cooler things that they could have done (including not build the DVC rooms at all)--maybe find a way to wrap it around the monorail track also, or have something "hovering" over the lagoon. But rough & tumble's "futuristic cityscape" concept really doesn't sound that bad to me.

Anonymous said...

The answer is simple to all of disney's current problems. Disney used to be in the business of creating magic to make money. Now disney is simply in the business of creating product to make money. They are lazy. The design is awful. Disney shouldn't keep demolishing or tarnishing the things that people love about them. People return to disney year after year because they enjoy returning to their beloved memories. yes new attractions are nice but I can't wait to one day take my children to the Haunted Mansion, or Space Mountain, or the Polynesian. Why? Because each of those moments is a type of tradition for me and I want to show those things to future generations. Anyone get what I'm saying?

Anonymous said...

At least it *might* maintain the general horizon of Tommorrowland. If you've never noticed, the Contemporary coincidentally makes a backdrop for the land - just like the Polynesian makes a backdrop for Adventureland. Get high enough and you'll see it, say from the top of Splash.

/bsdb said...

Get high enough and you'll see it...

Somebody's gettin' high, all right. But they're not seeing it.

This DVC addition is yet another example of the "good enough" mindset that took control of P&R/WDI after DLP opened. Sure, the new structure "is not bad looking" as teevtee put it. But it isn't great, either. And therein lies the problem.

This is Disney, fer cryin' out loud! I didn't get hooked on the Disney because they were "good enough." Disney never would have become the leader in animation or theme park/resort destinations with "good enough." No one would give a damn about the Disney Legends and the fabulous design work they pioneered had "good enough" been the order of the day. Disney would not be this mega-entertainment earnings giant had Walt and his creatives settled for "good enough" in the beginning.

So why must the Disney executives and creative leadership of today settle for "good enough" now? What's their ultimate goal? How do they plan to sustain the legacy? Milk Walt's cow until she's bone dry then sell her in the marketplace for some magic beans?

Yeah, they're gettin' high. Maybe too high.

Anonymous said...

Like the Conteporary Resort I believe the current management at Di$ney have had their brains built at an offsite factory. When the brains are finished they are shipped to the executives body and slid in like drawers in a dresser.

Anonymous said...

Like the Contemporary Resort I believe the current management at Di$ney have had their brains built at an offsite factory. When the brains are finished they are shipped to the executives body and slid in like drawers in a dresser.

SirNim said...

Wouldn't it have been cool if the original "30-story Cosmopolitan Hotel and Convention Center" conceptualized as the architectural centerpiece of Walt's old vision of EPCOT had been scaled down, given a little treatment to match the exterior of the currrent A-frame Contemporary Resort, and built instead?

http://www.waltopia.com/images/hotel.gif

Rather than... lol... the Watergate?! Right on, I hadn't seen the connection but yeah, the rendering looks like it's straight out of a DC scandal!

h1 said...

I wouldn't compare this to the swan and dolphin, where it completely destroys the background of the France pavilion. This will still look well behind tomorrowland. Sure, it takes away from the original building, but it makes it seem more futuristic by making the resot feel like a city. Maybe this is only a phase one. If they build a similar building where the other garden wing is, then the round towers would offset each other and make a frame: highlighting the original building.

Mooch said...

I also think if they're going to build a second building that it should look more like the first.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess I am in the minority here, but I like it! From Tomorrowland thru the new futuristic DVC and on to the Comtemporary, you have the start of a little futuristic city. Perhaps the Contemporary South will also be demolished for another futuristic hotel in the future. Is anyone familiar with a development going in in Las Vegas called Project City Center? Do a google search for it and look at the picture. It is a series of about 6 hotels... all different yet all linked by their futuristic appearance and they are ALL on the same site. Something like what Disney has going here. Also, in a letter sent in by someone else who suggested a DVD be built in the area between the TTC and the Contemporary, a little research on his part would show him that Disney has indeed tried techniques to build the Venetian Resort in that area, but it is too swampy to support a building. Disney sunk pylons into the earth there and they kinda "sunk in" to the earth--no structural support with today's technology. I get so tired of the constant lambasting of anything Disney does these days. What if, JUST WHAT IF, they build it and it really looks nice and meets with public approval and is successful--would that be so shocking?

Bocabear said...

I think even the futuristic cityscape idea would be great...if thgis building really looked like a futuristic building. I live in South Florida, and this looks like every condo building built in the last 10 years...It is not spectacular, not special, and not a landmark piece of architecture.
That said, I DO always hope that when Disney builds something new, that is is successful and people love it....This just does not look special enough...
Maybe is the developers of the project DID go to WDI for some ideas, we might end up with something that is jaw-dropping and unique...the kind of quality that Disney was always known for.

Joe said...

I have my own crazy plan for DVC at Contemporary. I think it's a great idea, but to build a Miami Beach type condo is just the wrong way. Here's my design:

http://www.dubnetwork.com/images/mycrazyplan.jpg

Instead of building a huge new building they should just add buildings that are similar to the current Garden Wings. This time around the buildings will have an extra floor or two and they will be bigger to accomodate DVC room sizes. On the NE of the Tower there will be a DVC hub with check in, concierge, and additional rooms. My thinking is having Grand Villas with an MK view here. I should also point out that this hub will be an atrium 4 floors high with a connection to the main tower. Also added on the north of the complex is a new DVC pool. They can have fun with it and give it a cool spacey modern theme, something to compete with Stromalong Bay. I think staying true to the original concept of the resort would be a nice touch. Both visually and spiritually. :)

Anonymous said...

The probablity of the South Garden Wing being demolished to be replaced by a similar tower is close to nill. The footprint of the SGW is so close to the canal that connects Bay Lake with Seven Seas Lagoon is such that the ground would never be able to support a structure that large. If I recall correctly, even with just the SGW there, the ground stays pretty much damp.

Anonymous said...

to be fair, i believe the image is poor orchestrated. the time of day that the photograph of the contemporary was taken leaves it in shadows that the new building doesn't seem susceptible to in photoshop. i don't like it, but i think when it comes to fruition it won't be as bad as this picture makes it out to be.

Prydonian said...

"Disney used to be in the business of creating magic to make money."

Sigh... no, it didn't. The old "business is business and that's okay" attitude should never apply here.

Disney used to be in the "business" of making magic. Period.

teevtee said...

It is ridiculously niave to think that Disney was EVER in the business of making "magic". They were and are in business to make money. One may argue that Walt himself had loftier golas but certainly at the time the opriginal Contemporary was erected Disney was a corporation motivated (as all corporations are) to make money. The difference is that they used to make money by looking at the big picture and understanding that giving up short term profits leads to larger long term and sustainable profits. As fans we had the side benefit that this approach gave us superior experiences... but Disney then and now is a business... period.

Geoffrey said...

Wow no care given to the conformation to the lines of the contemporary resort or any of the other buildings in that area...


Though if the building were to be placed in another area near a monorail track curve I can see how that design would fit, but as anonymous said "it looks like a parking garage." and plopped right next to the contemporary I can see the resemblence between the two designs...

Anonymous said...

Being a Disney Design pursist and following the design school of John Hench and Bill Martin, I'd say that the new design doesn't look as bad as I was imagining--infact, had the WDW Tomorrowland not been 20's/30's retrofied..those two strcutures would have really made a nice background to the look of Tomorrowland.....almsot like a full city!-Mike (DC88SPACELINER)

Xander said...

"I never called my work an 'art' It's part of show business, the business of building entertainment."

"You reach a point where you don't work for money. "

Two quotes from Walt that seem to indicate that he worked for money at some point, and that he understood the need for Disney to be a business, no matter how much we would like to romanticize it to make it look like the money was all incidental.

That said, money was also clearly not Walt's driving influence. He cared deeply for quality, and would risk going broke to do something right, rather than put out a product he considered to be sub-standard. (And standard for Walt was pretty exceptional)

But let's not frame the Disney of old as making money incidentally.

Also, the corporate realities of the difference between a privately owned company and one with shareholders cannot be ignored. As soon as you are responsible to someone other than yourself, there is pressure to play it safe, which, unfortunately, interferes with taking risks.

Anonymous said...

That patch of land where they cleared the north garden wing is looking very circular in shape.

Anonymous said...

Whats the deal here ? WDI had a MAJOR overhaul on Tuesday. New management, new leadership, new direstion. Not a word here, not a comment. I thought you guy's were all about "Re-Imagineering". It happened right under your nose and no one makes a comment.

Hello ? hello ? anybody out there ?

/bsdb said...

Hello ? hello ? anybody out there?

I believe they're currently keeping to themselves, so as not to incur the rath of the pink slip gods.

Several folks I've spoken with over the past two days have made similar observations, about the crickets chirping. And I must admit, the silence is stunning.

That being said...

It's gonna be one heckuva summer for both WDI and DL!

"Git-r-done!"

pariartspaul said...

Yes yes! I'm kind of out of the loop up here but from what I've heard so far the news is great! A new direction and new leadership!

I’ll comment without revealing names…
The first has been there for years and years and he's always struck me as a "we can do anything, don't stand in our way" kind of old-fashioned Disney guy, who knows exactly what WDI product and quality is all about. I think this is a really good thing!
Don't know much about how the creative side will pan out, but I do think the other is definitely a guy who 'gets it' and that's SO important.

Don't faint or anything you all, but from my perspective there is finally something really good happening at WDI! Congratulations to both of them! Yay!

Anonymous said...

As just a distant observer (and fan) of most things related to the Disney parks, I'm obviously not as "in the know" as most of you. Have there been any official announcements? When might the public get a glimpse of these changes and the much hoped for progress that they might bring?

Joe Shelby said...

Well, not sure if this is what's being built, but the ground is definitely being dug up and infrastructure put in place for something at that location. I just got a look at it last week (while going parasailing in Bay Lake ;-) ).

But yes, the convention center that stole the home of the old topiary characters in front of the hotel is atrocious in every way, but most especially in that it totally doesn't match any other architecture around.

Justin said...

Hi All,
I am new to posting to this board, but a long time reader/lurker and even longer time fan of Imagineering and things Disney.

My thought on the new DVC property at the Contemporary is not so much the architecture of the building, it is really not that bad in my opinion, but the size of the structure and the number of additional rooms it brings to this resort.

Each hotel has a certain capacity as far as transportation is concerned. So many bus stops. So many buses, boats or monorails. Not to forget parking spaces too!

With the Contemporary being on the monorail and there are other hotels along the line that feed MK and the Epcot line. My question to all of you is how will this massive addition affect Disney Transport, in particular monorail service, to and from this resort?

My initial thoughts are that the monorail may become unuseable. Here is an example, the morning loading of Epcot. Trains feeding Epcot line via the TTC, first stop at the Poly and the GF before the Contemporary. There is also additional traffic from Guests visiting the Contemporary for breakfast then heading to MK. Despite being so close to MK, who really walks to MK from the Contemporary (me...but not always).

Curious to read others answers to this question.

Justin

Rick9719 said...

The monorails though the A frame always made me think of the pyramids and the X-wings at the end of Star Wars Ep IV. IF they are going to expand the Contemporary Resort I wish they would build on the High Tech transport though the building theme somehow. Reminds you of the old hidden city in the Buck Rodgers serials too.

Anonymous said...

This Contemporary Resort mayhem reminds me of the many rumors being shot around that WDW will be replacing the current monorail trains with the new Mark VIIs within the next few years. Frankly, I do not see any sense in the park doing both. The whole Contemporary addition ruins the hotel's overall image and yes, I do agree that it would block some views of the scenery. If WDW indeed ends up running amuck the monorails, that alone would be too costly and full of nonsense. Besides, the Mark VIIs would look totally awful at WDW (b/c of the color scheme) and would further tarnish the park's image. Where do they get such ridiculous ideas from these days?

Anonymous said...

I have read alot about Tony Baxter and I know Joe Rohde created Animal Kingdom. But Joe Lanzisero's name is new to me. Would someone please name some of the projects he's been involved in?

Thank you

Anonymous said...

It's an excellent choice in an excellent location. Its curves compliment the edges of the Contemporary while mimicking the austere overall feeling of the Contemporary. (Admit it--cool and futuristic as it was when it was built, warm 'n' fuzzy it ain't.)
It appears the lines of sight from within MK will be about the same as they are now: only visible from Tomorrowland, as the Imagineers had intended.
Guests will get another quality resort and DVC members will finally get something close to MK.

Look, not everything that's happened since Walt left sucks, even though that seems to be the general drift around here. I am delighted Eisner finally got the boot and that Iger and Pixar are here to stay...but were it not for Eisner's overall expansion when he first came on board we'd all be talking about everything Disney in the past tense, period.
It is not now, nor was it ever Walt's intention to make it a tiny secret place for a select few.
So get over yourselves. This is an excellent addition to WDW.