Thursday, November 20, 2014

Charming B&W Trailer For Big Hero 6 Release in Japan

To promote the release of Disney's Big Hero 6 in Japan, Walt Disney Animation studio has released a beautiful hand-drawn B&W animated trailer done in a japanese style. It focuses on the relationship between Hiro, his brother, and Baymax. 

Picture and video: copyright Disney

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

DLP WDS Wins 2014 THEA Award for "Best Themed Restaurant"... but Universal Wins "Best Attraction" Award for Escape From Gringotts

That's it, the 2014 THEA Awards ( the equivalent for theme parks and museums of Hollywood Academy Awards ) have been announced at Orlando IAAPA Expo and Disneyland Paris got the "best themed restaurant  award" for the Ratatouille "Chez Rémy" restaurant, which it fully deserves. However DLP WDS didn't get the "best attraction award" for the Ratatouille ride, which is going to Universal for the Escape From Gringotts ride, which as you'll probably agree was a tough competitor. Disney also got the "Classic award" for It's a Small World.

Below, the full list of awards, in each category.

THE BUZZ PRICE THEA AWARD – Recognizing a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements
Ron Miziker, Miziker Entertainment Group

"it's a small world," Disneyland (Anaheim, Calif. USA)


Paragon Award : Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Florida (Orlando)  (especially Diagon Alley, Hogwarts Express, and shops and restaurants)

Attraction : Harry Potter & The Escape from Gringotts, Universal Studios Florida (Orlando)

Technical Excellence : Interactive Wands – Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Florida

Attraction Rehab on a Limited Budget : The Time Machine, Parc du Futuroscope (Poitiers, France)

Theme Park : Chimelong Ocean Kingdom (Zhuhai, China)

New Park Land, Limited Budget : Gratassland “The Land of the Little Grey Tractor,” Kongeparken (Norway)

Attraction, Limited Budget : Wilderness Explorers, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World (Orlando)

Themed Restaurant : Bistrot Chez Remy, Walt Disney Studios Park (Disneyland Paris)

Extraordinary Cultural Achievement : National September 11 Memorial Museum (New York City, USA)

Museum Exhibit : Wonder Rooms at Gemeentemuseum (The Hague)

Museum Exhibition, Limited Budget : Nature Lab, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Event Spectacular : The Legend of Lady White Snake (Zhenjiang, China)

Live Show, Limited Budget : The Grand Hall Experience at Saint Louis Union Station (Saint Louis, USA)

Event Spectacular : Wings of Time (Sentosa Island, Singapore)

Corporate Brand-Land : The StoryGarden at The Amorepacific Beauty Campus (Gyeonggi-do, South Korea)

Picture: copyright Disney and more

First Trailer For Live Action Cinderella Movie !

The first trailer for the live action Cinderella movie has been released, as well as the new poster above and a series of production stills that you can see on the D&M Facebook page HERE. Cinderella is directed by the great Shakespearian actor and director Kenneth Branagh, the also greats Cate Blanchett is playing the evil step mother and Helena Bonham Carter the fairy godmother and here is the synopsis:

The story of Cinderella follows the fortunes of young Ella (Lily James) whose merchant father remarries following the death of her mother. Eager to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her daughters Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera) into the family home. But, when Ella's father unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother's dying words and to "have courage and be kind." She will not give in to despair nor despise those who mistreat her. And then there is the dashing stranger she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an apprentice at the Palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul. It appears her fortunes may be about to change when the Palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, raising Ella's hopes of once again encountering the charming Kit (Richard Madden). Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and callously rips apart her dress. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand, and a kindly beggar woman (Helena Bonham-Carter) steps forward and -- armed with a pumpkin and a few mice -- changes Cinderella's life forever.

Picture and video: copyright Disney

Planet J , Asia’s First Live Action Role-Play Theme Park Will Open Summer 2015 at Macau’s Sands Cotai

Asia’s first live action role-play theme park, Planet J, is expected to launch at Macau’s Sands Cotai Central in summer 2015 - Macau Cotai strip is the equivalent of the Las Vegas strip - and it sounds to me like a kind of Disney Quest which would use the newest technologies. The park will cover an area of over 9,290m2 at the Sands Cotai resort complex and will be the first permanent theme park in the district. Its new concept will allow park attenders to physically act out the actions of fantasy characters in role-play games, pursue goals, and interact with other adventurers within an out of this world setting referred to as the Magic Stone Kingdom.

Each guest – or player – will be supplied with a ‘magic book’ – a personalized mobile equipment that connects with over 200 games in the theme park, fusing technology and experimental storytelling. Players will then proceed through a number of themed game-areas, completing challenges that test their “wits, stamina and speedy reactions.” Planet J will record each player’s game progress and history on its general system. When a player returns to the park, all their information can be reactivated, allowing them to attempt higher level and more difficult games.

Jumpin Gym Digital Entertainment, the parent company of Planet J, said that the project was in development for over eight years, and they expect the park will attract over three million visitors from around the world : “We are absolutely thrilled to be presenting Planet J to the world,” said Damon Chan, chairman of Jumpin Gym Digital Entertainment, who was also behind work on several Universal Studios and Disneyland attractions.

“Planet J is a truly new revolutionary model – breaking out from entertainment offered by conventional theme parks. We have the vision for Planet J to become a leading global chain of interactive themed destinations.” This indoor interactive theme park is expected to cost over MOP $1 billion (US $125.2 million).

Pictures: copyright Planet J

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Orlando Skyplex’s Skyscraper Roller Coaster Will Be a Hell of a Coaster !

The official presentation of International Drive's $250 million, 495,000-square-foot Skyplex entertainment complex to open in 2017 happened recently and Mango's Tropical Cafe and US Thrill Rides  unveiled at the IAAPA Expo the first ride-along video of the centerpiece attraction, a stunning 570-foot-tall Skyscraper polercoaster. The top of the coaster will also have an observation deck accessible by elevators.

"With the addition of The Skyscraper and the amazing Skyplex, Orlando will once again cement its reputation as the attractions capital of the world and the No. 1 vacation/convention destination," said Joshua Wallack, managing principal of Skyplex and COO of Mango's Tropical Café, in a prepared statement. "We're certain this thrilling new iconic coaster and facility will attract countless more attraction enthusiasts and visitors to the area."

This amazing coaster will execute loops, dives, spirals and inversions all on the exterior of the tower, during a full four-minute ride, and it was designed by Orlando-based architectural firm HHCP and will be built by Euforria LLC, a division of Winter Park Construction.

They've released a perfect CGl preview video of this Skyplex’s Skyscraper roller coaster  and, boy, this one will be impressive... and scary! It'll be for sure a hell of a coaster, but which one of you will dare to ride it! Watch the video full screen and in the higher definition!

Pictures and video: copyright Mango's Tropical Cafe and US Thrill Rides 

Christmas Everywhere !

Christmas season has started in all Disney theme parks and let's have a look around the world in videos! let's start by WDW where “A Frozen Holiday Wish” started a few days ago on the Castle Forecourt Stage at WDW Magic Kingdom with Anna, Elsa, Olaf, etc... and of course this year, guess who is the one who froze the castle? A little bit obvious, but very well done!

At Disneyland, Jingle Cruise - the Christmas version of Disneyland Jungle Cruise - is back and, because DL guests found it a bit disappointing last year DL Imagineers have decided to improve it this year. And, boy, not only they did it -  much more Christmas decorations everywhere - but may be they've been a bit too far! Anyway, this new Jingle Cruise is now pretty funny, if not hilarious, although sometime limit with ridiculous, but i like it, i think it's fun. Have a look at the video below coming from SoCal Attractions 360 !

Always at Disneyland, the Disneyland Christmas Fantasy parade with Frozen Anna Elsa...

... and Olaf and of course the Nightmare Before Christmas at Haunted Mansion.

At Disneyland Paris, the Christmas press event this week-end with the usual gang of invited VIPs that you'll see on the video below. DLP also released a cool short video presenting the "Enchanted" Christmas season!

And of course there is the fantastic Disney Dreams of Christmas! projection show on Sleeping Beauty castle. If you've not seen it yet, here it is again.

At Hong Kong Disneyland too, it's Christmas and even a "sparkling Christmas"!

They even have a puppet show in Fantasyland ( yes, a puppet show like in the good ol' days ) with Olaf from Frozen searching for summer!

We'll end by Tokyo Disneyland where the Christmas season will run until December 25th...

...and during which you can see the great Disney's Santa Village Parade!

Video: copyright Disney, SoCal Attractions 360, Appetite for Japan, inside the Magic, In The Loop

Monday, November 17, 2014

Why You Shouldn't Get Too Much Excited About Shanghaî Disneyland

Last Thursday, Shanghaî Disneyland released new artworks, not showing the park but mostly SDL hotels and Disney Town. But thanks to a bird eye view rendering of the resort we were able to see a bit more about this new and highly awaited Disney theme park on China main land. Now, and although the park will have some attractions that you've never seen anywhere else, i suggest that you don't get too excited about it - or only "reasonably" excited - to avoid any disappointment. Don't get me wrong, Shanghaî Disneyland  Imagineers are doing their absolute best to create a great theme park, and one which will be very different than all others Magic kingdoms we know, with many rides that will be unique, but having too high expectations might be the wrong thing to do, and here is why.

First, there is the number of lands. If you listen to the official statement Shanghaî Disneyland will have 6 or 7 "lands" ans this don't include the addition of Toy Story Land which was not visible on the bird eye view artwork. It doesn't mean they won't put it as i suspect them to want to add it either later or shortly after park opening to keep in the sleeve the announcement of "something new that will bring more capacity to the park"... when in fact we know that the three rides of TSL have a limited capacity. And by the way, it won't even be three rides but two only as the Parachute Drop ride is not envisioned for SDL. Probably the idea of having a U.S military camp theming on China main land was not that good after all. Or may be it was a question of visual intrusion of the high towers of Parachute Drop...

So, let's have a look at each lands and, although SDL won't be small at all, you'll see that the park might be not as big as you may think. First, right after the entrance you'll find Mickey Avenue. Yes, there won't be a Main Street U.S.A at SDL and Mickey Avenue is what is replacing it. But if you look at the artwork you'll see that this Mickey Avenue won't be as long as Main Street. I don't know how long really it will be but my guess is that it should be half the length or so of a regular Main Street U.S.A. Still, it's counted as a "land" - and it is on a certain point of view if we consider that what makes a land is also a special theming. And Mickey Avenue will have indeed a unique theming that you won't find anywhere else at SDL with building of different architecture from different countries. But saying that it's a "land" sounds to me a bit too much, or if we have to, then we must also consider DLP WDS Studio 1 as a land...

Anyway, let's move to SDL Central Plaza - ooops, sort of, as at SDL it won't be called Central Plaza  but "Garden of the Twelve Friends" in reference to Chinese mythology. Yes, it will be also a garden with floral elements, as well as water and two "B"ticket rides, the Dumbo ride - identical to the one you know - and Fantasia Carousel - a revisited version of the Carousel with Disney characters where you have wooden horses on the original one. Here is the first "new" attraction that you can put in the count. Still, if someone was telling you that Central Plaza at WDW MK or TDL - where they have the biggest ones - was a land you'll probably answer "are you kidding me?" and you would be right. But at SDL, thanks to the garden elements and the Dumbo and Carousel rides they DO consider it as a land, and so do we have to... even if it sounds like a bad joke. By the way the re-named of this "land" previously called "Gardens of Imagination" and now "Garden of the Twelve Friends" will also help to legitimate the "distinctly Chinese" of Bob Iger's famous quote about how SDL will be ( "Shanghaî Disneyland will be authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese" ).

Let's move to SDL Enchanted Storybook Castle and Fantasyland. Okay, here we should have a land which will be as big as real land. So far the huge SDL castle is not counted as a land itself but i wouldn't bet that they won't do it. And in Fantasyland, what will await SDL guests? Peter Pan's Flight, Winnie the Pooh, an Alice in Wonderland maze - probably close to the one at Disneyland Paris, Hunny Pot Spin, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Journey to the Crystal Grotto. And i don't count as a ride Sword in the Stone and Once Upon a Time Adventure inside the castle because they won't be rides - as far as i know - as well as the Castle Stage Spectacular which will be a show. From what i've been told the Winnie the Pooh ride will be the DL version - and not unfortunately the trackless TDL version - and the Peter Pan ride should be identical to the upcoming upgraded version at DL, may be a bit bigger. Hunny Pot Spin will be a B Ticket and we all know what is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Which, if there is no new additions in a near future, leave SDL Fantasyland with ONE truly new ride, the Journey to the Crystal Grotto boat ride. I won't get here in the debate about the castle that some find too big, i just hope that there will be enough space between Mickey Avenue and the castle to don't have the feeling to have the castle "on the nose", as we say in french. But SDL Fantasyland is a real "land" in size and that's the first one that we can count as having authentically all what is needed to make an authentic Disney park "land", i.e not only a unique theming but also the size.

Let's move to Adventureland. Well, actually there won't be a land called "Adventureland" at SDL but "Adventure Isle" and "Treasure Cove". And yes, each one is counted as a land when in fact it's only together that they'll have a size equivalent to what is normally an Adventureland, like the one at DLP for instance. Nevertheless, in Adventure Isle you'll find a Camp Discovery, Roaring Rapids and Soaring over the Horizon, and an Adventure Isle Stage. Camp Discovery will be most probably an Adventure Isle version of the kids playground area with suspended bridge, etc... that you could find at the former DL Tom Sawyer Island or DLP Adventure Isle, and Soaring over the Horizon is the new Soarin' version that will come six months after SDL opening at DCA and Epcot - or even eventually at the same time if SDL opening is delayed until mid 2016. That leaves us with the Roaring Rapids raft ride, the one supposed to include Audio-Animatronic dinosaurs. And don't ask me how many dinos will be in the ride as not too long ago i've heard that Disney did a cut in the budget, so many of the AA dinosaurs envisioned had to be delete. But as Bob Iger announced recently  that $800M will be added to make things better may be a part of this money will help to have the deleted dinos back in Roaring Rapids... let's hope so. You'll note also the huge rock wall surrounding Roaring Rapids which reminds me the kind of  big rock work they did for DCA Cars Land Radiator Springs Racer, but here of course it will be sculpted with a different style.

Then, right next door you'll find Treasure Cove with a brand new version of the POTC ride "Pirates of Caribbean: "Battle for the Sunken Treasure", a Pirates stunt show, Explorer Canoes,  El Teatro Fandango, and - but don't count them as rides but mostly as walk-through  playgrounds - Barbossa's Bounty and Shipwreck Shore. The POTC attraction will be really a brand new version of the beloved ride and if you need only one reason to come to Shanghaî Disneyland "Battle for the Sunken Treasure" will be a good one. I know most of the story line of it and there is really some genius ideas,  but don't ask me as i won't tell you ( just think at the unthinkable and you'll be close ). The pirates stunt show will be a premiere too - although one was envisioned for DLP years ago... and canceled as usual - and the Explorer Canoes will be a SDL version of the Indian Canoes we all know. The canoes will help too to bring some kinetic element in Adventureland. In any others Disney theme park Adventure Isle and Treasure Cove would have been included together in one land - which would have been called "Adventureland" - but at SDL they will be counted as "two" lands which in fact will have the size of one real land. So, so far we have two "real" lands - in terms of size which are Fantasyland and Adventure Isle and Treasure Cove together. Keep this in mind, you'll see why.

By the way, talking about kinetic elements, because SDL won't have a Main Street or Frontierland, it means no steam boats, no vintage cars, no double decker trams, and no railroad going around the park too, as well as no monorail. This lack of kinetic elements - something more important than you can think as these are moving elements entering in your vision field even if don't ride them - has been counter balanced by having rides with moving elements that can be seen from the outside. Like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland and may be the boats of Journey to the Crystal Grotto, the Tron motorbike coaster trains - more about this one in a minute - as well as the Dumbo and Fantasia Carousel rides in front of the castle. Imagineers didn't had the choice, a theme park needs kinetic elements to bring visually some "life".

There is just one more land to look at and it's Tomorrowland which will include Tron Lightcycles Power Run motorbike coaster, Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, Stitch Encounter and Jet Packs. A Tomorrowland Stage is also include for some entertainment. Let's have a closer look at the rides. Jet Packs will be - at the land entrance and probably with a new design - the usual "jets" B-ticket ride that we find in each Tomorrowland. So far, no surprise. The Stitch Encounter will be similar to Stitch Live at DLP WDS or at HKDL Tomorrowland, using the same technology than Turtle Talk with Crush. Something for young kids, so. The Buzz Lightyear ride is rumored to be a brand new one and it could be a kind of Toy Story Mania re-themed on the world of Buzz. I'm not 100% sure on this one so take this with a pinch of salt. And then there will be the awaited Tron Lightcycles Power Run motorbike coaster which apparently will start with a catapult launch and a huge outside loop - under a structure called "Tron Cover" - before having the track getting inside the show building. Everyone have big expectations about this ride, not only because it'll be the first Tron E-Ticket ride - and WDI can do something great with a motorbike coaster which will fit perfectly with the theme of Tron - but also because it will be the main Tomorrowland E-Ticket replacing Space Mountain which won't be built at SDL. Personally, from the pictures i've seen of the construction site, the show building looks a bit small to me and i would have seen a longer one to have the needed depth to bring the illusion of the world of Tron. But a bigger show-building - basically, a bigger "box" - would have been more expensive too and, as i've said, the fact to have a part of the track going outside will also bring some kinetic element in Tomorrowland.

SDL Tomorrowland - at least on the map - don't look that huge to me, and certainly smaller than DLP Magic Kingdom. But they still have room for future additions, and DLP Discoveryland was not that big too at opening day, so let's say that we will count SDL Tomorrowland as a "real" land. So, if we make the count we have so far three "real" lands - in terms of size - Fantasyland, a big Adventureland which include Adventure Isle and Treasure Cove and a not too big Tomorrowland. Then you'll have the short Mickey Avenue and the huge "Central Plaza / Garden of the Twelve Friends" which, to be kind, we  will count as one land together, and that's all. Which makes four lands where SDL counts them for six, probably for marketing reasons as it helps to give the feeling that the park is bigger than it is, or simply because they count a "land" depending of the theming and not the size. But the good news is that Shanghaî Disneyland has plenty of room available backstage for future expansions, and hopefully it'll be a real big "Magic Kingdom" in the future. For Disney fans the park won't have too many new attractions too and if we do the count we have mainly Fantasia Carousel, Journey to the Crystal Grotto, Roaring Rapids, Pirates of Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure, the Pirates stunt show, Tron Lightcycles Power Run and eventually Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, which makes six or seven new attractions only, but they include four new E-Tickets.

In conclusion, so far, just think about Shanghaî Disneyland as it is and not as SDL marketing dept will try to "sell" it to you, remember also that WDI Imagineers are doing their best, and if you don't put your expectations too high you should not be disappointed.

Editing:  Considering some of the comments to which i've answered, i would like to avoid any misunderstanding.  Basically, what i'm saying is: don't trust the number of lands to determine the size of Shanghaî Disneyland. SDL will be big, probably not as big as DLP at opening day - because it will lack a land ( Frontierland ) and the opening street won't be as big as Main Street U.S.A - though certainly much bigger than HKDL, but not as big as SDL marketing dept will "sell" it to you. But it's going to be such a different kind of Magic Kingdom that i , personally, can't wait to visit it.

Artworks : copyright Disney