As I’m sure you know, Zootopia recently won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. It also recently had its first anniversary. Because of this, I thought I would feature a piece of concept art from the film in today’s Masterpiece Monday.This concept art was created by Zootopia‘s Art Director of Environments, Matthias Lechner. It features a location that was deleted from the film, an amusement park called “Wild Times” that was owned and operated by Nick Wilde. This concept art not only brings attention to a very interesting discarded early plot for the film, but also shows just how much attention was put into the details of the unique locations within the city of Zootopia.
The “Wild Times” theme park played a significant role in an earlier version of the film in which Nick, not Judy was the main character. In this version, Zootopia was a more dystopian city with a very blatant prejudice against predators. Prey animals ran the city and feared predators so much that they forced them to wear shock collars meant to tame primal urges like excitement and anger. Nick created this amusement park to allow the predators to enjoy their more primitive urges and be free of their collars. The entrance was a fake medical clinic that contained a tunnel that lead to the park. Once they arrived, Clawhouser, who in this version was one of Nick’a friends, would remove the animals’ collars and allow them to enjoy the park free from the fear of being shocked. Although the park made Nick a lot of money, it was also illegal, and eventually Nick would have been arrested, which is where Judy came into the story. This version of the film was discarded for being too cynical and depressing, no one wanted to root for Zootopia to become a better, more accepting place because from Nick’s point of view, it was already horrible. Instead, the optimistic and naive Judy became the main character so that the audience could better see the good in Zootopia.
What I like most about this piece of concept art is how it showcases one of the best aspects of Zootopia, the clever ways its environments are designed. Zootopia is a city built by animals for animals, and so the design of all the buildings had to reflect that both practically and stylistically. “Wild Times” is located in the Rain forest District of the city, and so it’s design reflects it’s location with its use of trees, both real ones and ones made of neon lights. The film’s crew studied a wide range of real cities for inspiration for Zootopia, and as a result it became a unique hodgepodge of many different styles of architecture. The design of “Wild Times” was very clearly inspired by the bright lights of Las Vegas casinos. The inside of the building was also designed to reflect the fact that predator animals would spend their time there.The park’s main attraction was the “Roar-a-Coaster” which went both inside and outside the building. There were also games to test animal’s bite strength, a whack-a-mole, a cat-apult, and even a ball of yarn pit. A huge amount of detail went into designing “Wild Times” to look like an environment that real anthropomorphized predators would go to for thrills.
It’s a shame that this wonderfully detailed and clever environment was never used to its full potential, but if you look closely you can see the theme park in the background during some parts of the film. In the end, the story worked better with out it, and it was not the only incredibly cleverly designed location within the film. Still I hope you appreciated this look at this gorgeous concept art for the deleted “Wild Times” theme park in Zootopia.