Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has announced extensive plans to convert the old Discovery Island in Bay Lake to a new Lost-themed attraction. Lost Island is set to receive guests by the Summer of 2011, a year after the show concludes its six-year run on ABC.
“We strong believe that the show will live on in popularity after its conclusion. This type of show can be successful in syndication for decades and with the advent of DVD—sales of which have been very high for this series—there is clear evidence that Lost will remain popular well after next Spring's series finale," said Celandine Coda, vice chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
The immersive experience will bring guests to the islands in disparate ways, providing two distinct experiences per each trip to the island. The attraction is also unique as the exploration of the island in its entirety forms one complete experience, however each area of the island works as an individual attraction.
“We have this great experience for the Swan station which guests get to tour as if they were the survivors first discovering the infamous 'hatch'. But suddenly things go wrong and this station tour becomes a ride! It’s an extension of the Imagineering used in rides such as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Star Tours taken to the next level!", explained Coda.
Imagineers will use similar technology to give the infamous smoke-monster a presence on the island, much like it was displayed in the first season. "There were some obvious issues with depicting the monster the way it's been portrayed in recent seasons so we took a page from those initial episodes and cast the monster into the trees," detailed Coda.
“In some ways, the island of Lost has always been like a twisted open-air haunted house, with dark mysteries waiting around the corners in the most unlikely places. When developing this, we knew right away that there wasn’t much we could do with traditional ride technologies as the whole point of the show was this wandering band of castaways. We wanted the guests to experience the world instead of pass through a non-interactive collage." explained Imagineer Lila R. Chiseavie.
That said, there is one ride vehicle that will be making its way to the island. The Dharma Volkswagen Van will take some guests from their arrival on the island to the barracks. Along the way, they will contend with hostiles and other surprises that the imagineers wish to keep secret.
Further, the island and the water surrounding will be enhanced with videos and auto-animatronics of the cast of the popular TV show. Guests arriving on the island will pass Michael’s raft and throughout the jungle of the island, will pass through popular moments from the television show.
Guests passing Michael's raft on the way to the Lost Island.
The Imagineers chose to plant the guests into the experience of the show after the survivors had established a presence on the island so as to more easily access the mythology of the show, which picked up significantly in the second season. As such, Dharma stations and the Others are an integral part of the storyline of the attraction.
Lost co-creator/executive producter Damon Lindelof and executive producer Carlton Cuse had a hand in helping the Imagineers pare down the show’s dense mythology and its presence on an island much larger than the old Discovery Island. “We had to take some obvious liberties with the geography of the island on the show since they cover a much larger distance. As such, we limited the amount of stations and other landmarks but tried to keep to the general area near the initial Oceanic 815 crash site. Carlton and Damon were extremely helpful in assisting our imagineers with mapping out the island in a way that stays faithful to the show but also creates a new experience," said Coda.
Concept art of boat leaving island and encountering Kate and Sawyer audio-animatronics.
The attraction will center mostly on the area of the original encampment, the Swan and Pearl stations, and the barracks. (Though there is discussion about adding the Orchid station at a later date.) The Statue of Taweret, the iconic four-toed statue that has come to epitomize the deep mythology of the show, will act as the island’s landmark icon, which will be seen from many vantage points around Bay Lake, including the Contemporary Resort and Wilderness Lodge.
“We wanted to focus on the iconic landmarks of the show which were all in relative proximity to each other in the show. Some landmarks such as the Hydra station and the Looking Glass were economically and logistically prohibitive but we connect to them in a clever way. The Orchid is essential in our future plans and we think that aspect of the experience will blow guests away," explained Chiseavie, who says that the Orchid station is unlikely to become part of the experience until 2013 or 2014.
The old River Country area will also be cleaned up and utilized as a launch to the island and will also be themed appropriately for the attraction. Imagineers are trying to keep some of the specific story points a mystery in an effort to capture the spirit of the television show. Much like the television show's viral marketing campaigns, Disney plans on incorporating clues into attractions and architecture at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot's Future World. Also in Summer 2010, a preview center will be open at Disney's Contemporary Resort.
Discovery Island, an 11.5 acre island located in Bay Lake at Walt Disney World, was open from 1974 to 1999. The wildlife preserve contained swans, lemurs, tortoises and other animals and was a viable destination in Walt Disney World’s early days before its expansion into other theme parks. However, with the opening of Animal Kingdom in 1998, the island was rendered moo and ceased operations.