The Villa Tempus

One thing I would love to see in the future of theme parks is multiple rides or attractions that you move through in succession in order to experience one story.  You wait in line once but have an adventure that lasts two hours instead of two minutes.  Of course this might be a logistical nightmare but I have been mulling it over for I think it could work. Of course this might mean higher ticket prices and you might have to reserve your place in advance.

Anyway...I took a retail branding class last quarter here at PC (the Portfolio Center) where the challenge was to design our own retail space down to a scale model.  Of course, me being who I am, I wanted to design a theme park ride/retail space.  I thought this would be a good chance to have my concept center around the above idea of multiple attractions to tell one story.  Thus the Villa Tempus was born.
One of the first sketches I did of the exterior
The final design built in Google Sketchup

The Time Traveler done with Corel Painter
The story is based on the Time Machine by H.G. Wells and goes something like this. You have been invited to an old Victorian villa that sits on the mouth of a river. Once there you meet the Time Traveler (a live actor who is with your party through the whole experience) who welcomes you to his home, the Villa Tempus.  It is here that the Time Traveler has discovered the secrets to moving through time and space.  He had invited you to his house for dinner in order to unveil his latest invention but now realizes that he can, in fact, take you anywhere in time and space to have dinner.  And so you are off. The first portion of the attraction takes you on a madcap journey back through time in classic dark ride style and is filled with massive sets and countless animatronics. Your ride vehicle then drops you off in one of four different dining rooms each themed to, and serving fare from, a different historical period.  The dinning room that your party arrives at is pre-determined by questions asked during the reservation process.  After dinner you re-board the time machine for the journey back to the mansion but, thanks to the malfunctioning machine, you find yourself trapped in a dismal future version of the mansion that is dilapidated and overrun by the monstrous Morlocks (a la the Wells novel). Your group must now split up and head off through the mansion on an interactive adventure collecting the pieces to build a new time machine while avoiding the monsters. In the end all is set right,  you are sent back to the present and you exit through the gift shop.

Paper model mock up to see how it would come together
The finished model after my final critique
 An ambitious project to be sure. All I had time to do last quarter is design the logo, do a couple of concept illustrations, and build the model of the exterior (which lights up and has a working water wheel). We have a great photographer and teacher at our school named Peter Hobbes who takes photos of a lot of the students' work.  I didn't have the money to pay for him to take professional pictures of my model so, in exchange,  I have been teaching his kids drawing lessons.

Me and the Hobbes kids during our lesson

Peter's photo that we are still in the process of Photoshopping to clean it up

All in all I have had so much fun working on this project and I hope I have the chance to flesh the whole thing out in future quarters. Here is a little process video put together using i movie. I used After Effects to animate the Time Traveler and the logo at the end.

The Villa Tempus from Michael Schwalm on Vimeo.



  1. Mike that's totally awesome, I'd expect nothing else from you and hope and pray that you are successful in your dreams. I'm sure you will be. Hugs & God Bless!

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