The "Chromaluma Circuit" was developed for the Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations competition with a team of 3 other graduate students at CalArts.
Briana Pattillo - Lighting Designer // story, research, illustrations
Shay Willard- Video Designer // story, research, writing, video
Travis Moelter- Scenic Artist // story, research, illustrations
Ursula Andreeff- Scenic Designer // story, research, illustrations, character design
This is a 4-day, 3 night Railroad Excursion hosted by “Amka,” the Yupik explorer and guide. Traveling around the Alaskan White Mountains north of Fairbanks, this journey celebrates different legends and myths of Worldwide Cultures and their relationship with The Northern Lights, while giving guests a chance to enjoy natural Alaskan splendor and the real Aurora Borealis. Each meal is presented on the train, and each night is spent in an expanded room formed when the railcar docks into a larger station - allowing guests to have lodgings larger than a normal sleeper car, without having to move their luggage at each stop. As the train moves from one “country” to another, guests will witness as the interior of the conveyance transforms to a new cultural aesthetic.
Day 1 – Upon leaving the Inuit themed station in Fox, Alaska guests travel north to Livengood for an afternoon of Russian activities. That evening they will stay in Beaver for a Chinese nighttime spectacular.
Day 2 – After morning opportunities for exploration of the Alaskan wilderness, the train will bring guests to Fort Yukon for a Swedish Fishing Trip. That evening in the town of Circle, guests will rest beneath the Finnish sky for another nighttime spectacular.
Day 3 – Guests are encouraged to explore the neighboring hot springs before heading to Medicine Lake for a Norse themed afternoon. The final, climactic evening is spent at Boreal Hollow – featuring either the real or simulated Aurora Borealis, dependent on weather and time of year – in the sunny summer months, the spectacular will happen inside the Hollow.
Day 4 –In the morning, guests are given one last chance to explore the Hollow. By noon, the excursion has returned to Fox, Alaska.
As a child, Amka always felt pulled to the Alaskan Wild near her homelands. An explorer of the Yupik Tribe, she would stand under the stars staring into the Northern Lights - a dancing kaleidoscope beneath the night sky – and hear a distant howl calling her name. When she was 13 years old, the streaks of prismatic glow descended to the snow, coalescing into the form of a fox. The small creature confidently approached her and introduced itself as Aquilo – the Luminous Spirit of the Alaskan White Mountains.
Aquilo told the girl of the true nature of her homeland – the Yupik Wilderness was the resting place for all Luminous Spirits, where the Northern Lights themselves would return after dawn to calm and ready themselves for the next night’s dance. The two explorers spent many years wandering and meeting other animal spirits from across the globe.
A few years ago, Aquilo and the other Lights made a request of Amka – asking only that she bring other humans to meet them! Amka immediately set out with the help of her village, to build The Chromaluma Circuit. This 360 mile railroad around the White Mountains visits five of the Luminous Spirits’ homes, finishing the trip at Boreal Hollow: a brand new sanctuary built by Amka and her people for all the Luminous Spirits. Here, the glowing animals gather and dance together – creating new colorful tapestries across the sky inside and out. Today, Amka welcomes new friends to join her on the first trip around the White Mountains. Amka knows there is more to discover about the Northern Lights – and her relationship to them. She hopes to uncover these mysteries together with her guests and her best friend, Aquilo.
Guests arrive at Fox, Alaska and prepare to depart at noon. The Yupik Crew brings guests’ luggage to their room, which will serve as their home for the next four days. After a brief show to signal their departure, the train begins its tour around the Alaskan White Mountains. While aboard the train, guests enjoy accommodations similar to those found on a cruise ship – food aplenty, splendorous views, and relaxation.
On the first day, guests are given an item called the “Traveler’s Jar.” Throughout the experience, guests can gather Luminous Spirits inside the jar, allowing guests to create their own private aurora that can be carried and brought home. Children’s activities are available in one of the central cars, hosted by Aquilo the Fox and the other Luminous Spirits guests will meet in the wilderness. All meals are served onboard, and menus match the culture currently featured on the tour. At the 6 stops, a multitude of activities are provided for guests’ enjoyment, such as ice skating and dog sledding in addition to natural excursions like hiking and fishing trips. Activities are intended to celebrate the varied myths and traditions of the six featured cultures surrounding the Northern Lights.
When the train approaches an overnight destination, the entire line docks within a larger building – the outer walls swing open and guests’ quarters are expanded. Each night can be spent in more comfortable rooms without the hassle of transporting luggage.
At Boreal Hollow, the final stop, guests are given opportunities to revisit the different spirits and traditions, gathering and cultivating an aurora they like best. This aurora transforms into a custom Animal Spirit, unique to the specific guest. This can be purchased and brought home as a talisman.
Amka and Aquilo have prepared a journal to send to their guests before they embark on the ChromaLuma Circuit.