Drafting Disney Park Buildings: A Thread

Hello everyone, we hope you all are staying safe and healthy. As we continue on during these strange quarantining times, Andrew and Michaela are back to argue about things that in the end, don’t really matter.

Visiting any Disney theme park will have you seeing some awe-inspiring things: mountains, talking animals, and even a spaceship or two. But, have you ever thought about the ordinary 4-walled buildings that make up most of the parks? Today Andrew and Michaela are going to dive into another draft, this time drafting their favorite buildings within the Disney Parks.

Harambe building night Christmas AK

Michaela: This probably needs a little bit of explanation so you all know what we are defining a ‘building’ as before we get into this. First of all, we are only looking at the buildings in the American parks, because even though Andrew is cultured and has been to the Tokyo parks I, alas, have not.

For the purposes of this draft, buildings are going to be defined as structures that actually look like buildings. For example, the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom is technically a building because it houses an attraction, but it doesn’t look like a building, it looks like a tree. Thus it would not qualify in this draft. The structure needs to have walls, doors, windows, a building that perhaps could be built outside of a Disney park and not be completely out of place. We also stayed away from the castles because it was too obvious.

It can be an attraction building, a shop, or a restaurant! But what matters is not what lies within, but the design of the exterior of the structure. Any questions Andrew?

With that out of the way, I think it’s time for us to start!

Michaela (Pick 1): Toad Hall

My first pick is a facade that holds a classic attraction, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. While all of the buildings in Fantasyland are gorgeous, to me Toad Hall stands out. The coloring of the brick work is much more muted than the rest of the land it’s in, and portrays a look of elegance that is the complete opposite of the attraction it holds. I love the irony.

The facade also has a layered look, with rooftops and chimneys behind the main building, making it look much deeper than it really is. Another aspect of Toad Hall that I think sets it apart from other buildings in the Disney Parks is the attention to detail.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride outside of building DL

Toad Hall has many statues and plaques that adorn its outer walls, with this full figure statue of Toad you can see above along with what I assume is Toad’s family crest. Along the back wall, which you pass by in the queue, are sculptures of the four main characters in the story of Mr. Toad – Ratty, Mole, Badger, and Toad himself.

This building may not be jaw dropping or larger than life like many Disney Parks structures are, but I don’t think it can be beat when it comes to the detail and highly enjoyable irony.

Andrew: Hello everyone, thank you for reading this insane draft while we are all going a little insane staying inside. After this post goes viral we’ll be sure to move on to favorite doors, lamps and bathrooms! I don’t think I have any questions, just a few possibly controversial picks. Toad Hall is beautiful and a great choice, understated yet instantly recognizable. I’m going with a something a little more grand with my choice.

Andrew (Pick 1): Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion is one of the most beautiful buildings that the parks have ever seen. As we talked about in our recent New Orleans Square podcast, the building sat for over 5 years before the attraction was open to the public. Obviously the actual ride is incredible, but the facade alone is well worth your attention.

Haunted Mansion

From the beautiful gates enclosing the building to the commanding pillars on the porch, Haunted Mansion is a perfect attraction facade. I love the way the Mansion’s presence commands the whole street, both ominous and beautiful. Having that southern mansion down the road from New Orleans Square keeps the story in the area going while being a perfect Disney building.

I think we’re both happy with our first picks, despite them being fairly opposite ends of the spectrum. Where are you going next, Michaela?

Michaela: Fantastic pick Andrew, one that I would have chosen but am glad it’s on our list, even though it’s under your name. I would argue that my next pick is even more imposing than yours.

Michaela (Pick 2): The Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror

I would argue that this behemoth of a ride (and structure) is the most ominous building in the Disney Parks. The Hollywood Tower Hotel looms over Sunset Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and tells the story of the attraction inside just by looking at it. The scorched facade alludes to the lightning strike that dooms its riders.

ToT day DHS

I love the way the facade is not only beautiful and haunting, but practical to the attraction. The way the elevator doors open at the tower’s ‘windows’ and let riders see the entire park is such an original detail. It also helps the ambience of the building to hear the screams of riders as you wait in the queue or walk down the street.

The architecture of the building was themed after multiple hotels in southern California, to fit in with the overall theme of the land where it’s located. I wouldn’t say that buildings in California are scary, but this one certainly makes me think so. There’s no daunting music as you walk down Sunset Boulevard towards it, but even on the brightest of sunny days I still feel nervous walking towards the Tower. The building was scary enough to make 8-year-old Michaela decide not to ride.

Alright Andrew, I’m ready for your next pick!

Andrew: A very good pick, although I’m happy with my slightly more beautiful ominous pick. I do think you picked the second best option. My second pick is going a little off the beaten path.

Andrew (Pick 2): Hall of Prayer for Good Fortune – China Pavilion, Epcot

China Pavilion ground night Epcot

Instead of going iconic like I did in my first pick, I simply went with what I found to be one of the most beautiful buildings in a Disney Park. The China Pavilion’s centerpiece combines interesting architecture with beautiful colors and painting. This hall (or temple) is modeled closely after Beijing’s Temple of Heaven.

The imperial red, along with a host of blues and whites set beautifully above the gardens in the China Pavilion. Along with that, I’m a sucker for round buildings as that design with no edges really draws my eye. While there are more iconic buildings, I’m not sure that there are any as beautiful in a Disney Park.

Where are you going next, Michaela?

Michaela: My next pick is a building that is usually pretty good at making me emotional. Your last pick was a good one, I have a feeling that if we thought a lot about World Showcase then the majority of our picks would come from there.

Michaela (Pick 3): Main Street Train Station – Disneyland Park

The Main Street Train Station is the first building that welcomes you as you walk up to Disneyland’s front gates. It’s an iconic structure that has been the face of Disneyland since its opening.

Main Street Train Station DL night

I love the simple brick architecture and the large clock faces on both sides, and the splendor of it only gets more grand when a train comes through the station. While this building has been recreated multiple times for other Disney castle theme parks, you can’t do better than the original.

This pick is definitely more simple than the choices prior, but much like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, the memories I have in and around the building are what make it so special to me. I love sitting on one of the benches in front of the station facing Main Street and watching people enter and leave the park. I also love going into the building and checking out the map that depicts where the trains currently are in the park. (If you haven’t checked that out before, definitely do so on your next visit!)

Most people spend their time staring down Main Street towards the Castle when they enter the park, and then spend their time looking back at the park icon while leaving. To me the Castle isn’t what I yearn to look at as I leave Disneyland, it’s the quaint little station at the front.

What is your next pick Andrew?

Andrew: A gorgeous building and I think we’re all beginning to get a sense of what you like in your architecture. In order to keep my team (I don’t know if that’s what this is?) well balanced, I’m going to go with something that looks nothing like I’ve already picked.

Andrew (Pick 3): Imagination Pavilion – Epcot

Does the attraction inside of the building merit a pick? Absolutely not! But the Imagination Pavilion’s facade is one of the most recognizable and beautiful buildings in any Disney Park. The glass pyramid silhouetted across the Epcot skyline somehow still outshines many of the recognizable features of World Showcase.

Imagination sunset Epcot

Future World leaves plenty to be desired at this point, both substance wise and architecturally. Still, the Imagination Pavilion somehow fits in both with a future aesthetic and the retro-future. I guess that’s what timeless is?

Depending on where you are in the park, the sun can set nearly directly behind this beautiful building. All of the glass then reflects some of those colors and it becomes one of the most picturesque spots Disney has ever created. While the area might be less crowded, again because of the uninteresting attractions in the pavilion, just seeing the building up close is worth the short walk alone.

Michaela: Another great choice Andrew. Thank goodness this is a draft on architecture, because there are so many negative things I could say about the attraction within that beautiful pavilion, but that is not a topic for today!

Michaela (Pick 4): Pirates Of The Caribbean – Disneyland

I am making this pick in appreciation of all of the amazing architecture that exists in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square. The Pirates Of The Caribbean facade is beautiful, but I don’t think it gets the credit it deserves. The bridge that connects Adventureland and New Orleans Square blocks much of this building, as you enter the queue for Pirates underneath the bridge. Thus, I think it needs to be talked about.

One of the things I love most about this building is that there is a ton going on.

PotC night DL

Underneath is a courtyard with an elegant fountain and two large trees that do a fantastic job of framing the entire scene. Then, the entrance greets you with three sets of lovely blue french doors and large light fixtures. Then, there is another level above that with pink walls and rod iron detailing, with a door to what I presume is 21 Royal.

I would argue that there are no other buildings in Disneyland with so much attention to detail than those in New Orleans Square. The fun color palette and unique design of this building is what made it fall into my number four pick.

Andrew: Another gorgeous building. New Orleans Square’s color palette is one of my favorites throughout any Disney Park and the Pirates building really showcases that.

Andrew (Pick 4): Hall of Presidents – Magic Kingdom

I’ll go with a building that might fit your lineup a little more than mine. Magic Kingdom’s Hall of Presidents is reminiscent of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. It is the centerpiece of Magic Kingdom’s immersive land, taking guests back to the colonial era with beautiful brickwork and strong pillars.

Muppets Sam the Eagle

The blue sign (I’m very surprised signs haven’t come up more in this thread) on the building adds a pop of color without it distracting from the building. That mixed with the muted red bricks and white pillars and roof make for a facade that looks grand and centuries old.

My favorite aspect of the building is the steeple/bell tower that resides at the very top of the building. It adds a focal point to the whole land that is easy to spot from anywhere in Liberty Square, Tom Sawyer Island, or Frontierland. It adds a unique shape to an otherwise block-y (making up words over here!) area.

Last pick! Here we go…

Michaela: Oh boy, last pick. That means it should be surprising and jaw dropping. A fitting end to what I’m sure was a riveting draft to read. Here goes nothing!

Michaela (Pick 5): Soarin’ Over the World – Disney California Adventure

This is a pick that I know Andrew will disagree with, but I’m going for it. The show building that houses DCA’s Soarin’ is built to look like an air hanger, and it succeeds in every way. Many rides have small facades, with the show building hidden by trees and other themeing, but Soarin’ takes the breadth of the ride inside and showcases it.

Soarin tower

The hanger is painted a forest green, and matches wonderfully with the Californian woods themeing that surrounds it. It’s size is impressive, but there are varied textures on the face of the building that makes it interesting to look at. While it may not be complicated in the ways of architecture, I actually prefer the simplicity because it matches the feeling the area portrays.

I am now prepared to be out-shown by my competitor who I am sure has the perfect building to end this draft. Take it away Andrew!

Andrew: While I’m not a huge fan of the building, that is my favorite area in all of California Adventure and that forest green hangar certainly plays a role. Now for my last pick:

Andrew (pick 5): Crystal Palace – Magic Kingdom

I was tempted by a number of options, including a few Animal Kingdom ones that really bent the rules (Editor’s Note: By bending the rules he means blowing them out of the water). Instead I ended up on Main Street, adding Victorian themeing to my array of designs. The beautiful white facade with glass throughout the design is a striking building and a fitting end to Main Street.

The domed ceiling is a personal favorite touch, if you couldn’t have already guessed by my other answers. Along with that, I love how one side of the building is completely Victorian, fitting in with the rest of Main Street, while the other side is engulfed by plants as the road transitions to Adventureland. While we are strictly talking about these buildings from the outside, this one would gain points for the views from inside of it.

Goofy fountain MK night

That does it for our picks! Are you happy with your team of buildings, Michaela?

Michaela: I certainly ended up with a mishmash of buildings, and I don’t know if they’re as strong as your ‘team’ of picks as you call them, but I am incredibly content in my choices and am OK lying in them.

Thank you Andrew for once again joining me in drafting, something we do that causes more arguments between us than pretty much anything else we do in real life! (Only thing worse is charades).

Who do you think won the draft? What are your favorite park buildings? Let us know in the comments below! If you’re planning a trip to a Disney Resort, check out our planning guides to help you out along the way. Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney! Please subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email and like our Social Media pages, both of which you can find on the right side of this page. Have a great day!

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