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Designing Shanghai Disney's Tomorrowland with VR

Grimshaw Architects | 6:19

Designing Shanghai Disney's Tomorrowland with VR

Peter Smisek

5 December 2017

Video Views

DISNEY’S imagineers have joined architects from British practice Grimshaw to explain how virtual reality (VR) was used to design "Tomorrowland" - one of the main attractions at the new Shanghai Disney Resort - in this great video. 

Tomorrowland is a much-loved fixture of the Disney theme parks worldwide and offers attractions depicting visions of the future.

Above: Britain-based Grimshaw Architects were asked to design the futuristic-looking Tomorrowland at Shanghai Disney Resort (image courtesy of Grimshaw Architects). Below: Tomorrowland's ETFE canopy is interwoven with the TRON rollercoaster (image courtesy of Grimshaw Architects).

In Shanghai, Grimshaw has designed a multi-level route for pedestrians to progress through the themed-zone, partly within a freeform ETFE canopy that integrates with the park’s TRON rollercoaster.

Additionally, the canopy contains integrated LED lights allowing for multi-coloured night-time projections, highlighting the futuristic theme of the park.

Above: Integrated LED lights help create a futuristic atmosphere at night (image courtesy of Grimshaw Architects).

During the design phase, Grimshaw created a detailed digital model that enabled numerous stakeholders to walk through the environment in an immersive virtual space.

Above: Architects constructed a 3D model of their proposal and used it as a base for the VR environment which could mimic a visitor's experience, below (image courtesy of Grimshaw Architects).

“By going into 3D immediately and doing the architecture and the rides in 3D, we were able to work and collaborate in a far more efficient and fruitful way than we could have done in previous times,” says Bob Weis, president of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI).

Above: The use of VR technology enabled design of a complex set of walkways and a free-form canopy (image courtesy of Grimshaw Architects).

The resort - a 961-acre, USD $5.5BN theme park - opened last year in June. 

Information modelling was at the heart of the construction of much of the park, including Disney’s iconic Storybook castle.

Above: Shanghai Disney Resort's Storybook castle was developed in an information modelling environment (image courtesy of Wikimedia).

In Japan, Tokyo Disneyland have just announced a USD $2.7BN expansion, with the park’s operator - 254 Oriental Land Company -  expecting the number of overseas visitors to double by 2020.

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