Saturday, August 9, 2008

It's summer, let's go on the beach .... at DLP !

Guests coming at Disney Parks have sometime strange behavior, but these two german tourists obviously decided that a beach is a beach, wherever it is........even if this is the one of Adventure Isle at DLP's Adventureland!

On this incredible-but-real picture below, shoot in June 1992 - two months after Disneyland Paris opening, obviously these two people were not aware of the park rules. It was hot, lot of sun , all they needed was a beach. And obviously they thought that Adventure Isle ( very ) private beach - at 10 meters from Pirates of Caribbean entrance - will be fine!

But as we know, all good things have an end, even at DLP, and 15 minutes later, a cast member came to remember them that it was not really allowed to step or lay down on Adventure Isle beach...!

Soon after this, back in 1992, SQS - the imagineering section at DLP - added driftwood piles on the beach to prevent any one to lay down on the beach again. in fact, this was not the only place where they had this kind a problem. at the entrance of Adventureland, they also added small fences , as young kids were going on the sand and play in the "dunes"!

More recently, at the WDS Toon Studio, a similar problem happenned with Luigi's Cars - the young kids who love the characters were climbing on them while their parents took a picture. SQS first put wood fences with "hot set" writing on it, but kids were going through and it didn't changed anything. So, they've built real metallic 50cm high fences are still going through! Their love for the Cars characters is so strong that nothing stop them to transgress!

Photo shoot in June 1992 by Daniel Rous

Friday, August 8, 2008

Special movie preview : Some news from James

It's one of the most awaited movie of next year - if not THE most. It will be also the big return of the director who did the most successful movie of all time. And it will also be a technological feat.

James Cameron's "Avatar" will be release in 3D - and a "special" 3D, developed by Cameron and his team. As a matter of fact, there will be more than one technological innovations as revealed

As for the story, here is the synopsis:
In a distant future, humanity discovers the planet 'Alpha Centauri B-4', and for those scientists and astronauts who've traversed the gulf between neighboring suns and arrived on its alien soil know it as 'Pandora'. A world filled with an incredible diversity of beautiful and deadly ammonia-breathing lifeforms. Its also a world that harbors treasures and resources almost beyond price. But just as the original Pandora's Box wrought devastation on those who would use it for their own gain, so too this world may destroy not just the Pandorans home, but ours as well.

Avatar is the story of a wounded ex-marine, thrust unwillingly into an effort to settle and exploit an exotic planet rich in bio-diversity, who eventually crosses over to lead the indigenous race in a battle for survival.

Below, here is a concept sketch for one of the alien creatures of Avatar

Avatar will use so many innovations and had a such long development - not to mention that its release date has moved from May to December 2009 - that we can be sure that James is not going to fail his comeback in SF movies..."It is the most challenging film I've ever made," Cameron said, and for sure we believe him. D&M will keep an eye on it and let you know more as soon as news will be available!

Artwork: copyright James Cameron

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How Marc Davis legendary " Western River Expedition " attraction was almost built at Disneyland Paris

If you're a true Disney theme park fan, you've certainly heard before about this Marc Davis legendary attraction project "Western River Expedition". What you don't know is how this attraction was almost built in early 1990's at Disneyland Paris Frontierland. I will explain to you in details why and how, but first, for those of you who don't know Marc's original project, here is a short description of it, and if you want to know more about this concept, you will find a full information HERE and also in the excellent Jim Hill ten parts article HERE.

The Western River Adventure attraction was a Marc Davis project originally designed for Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom. Marc designed the attraction and characters in the form of drawings and models over a five-year period. Although the attraction had a significant cost, Disney executives such as Dick Irvine and Roy Disney both liked the idea when presented with Davis' concepts.

Originally, this flume ride attraction was located both inside, outside, and around an architectural feature in Frontierland known as Thunder Mesa mountain. Guests would have enter a cave marked "Western River Shipping & Navigation Co" which led to a canyon in perpetual "twilight" lighting. After boarding in a boat - similar to the boats of Pirates of Caribbean although with a different theming, of course - the boat would have glided softly in the canyon where was located the different scenes. The ride's narrator, Hoot Gibson (an audio-animatronic owl) would have explained first the ride's safety instructions.

Western River Expedition was an Audio-Animatronic delight with dozens of new AA figures, and certainly as many as in Pirates of Caribbean. Just like in POTC Marc Davis designed scenes where humour was always present. Potential scenes included:

A stage coach robbery

Banditos where even their horses had bandanas across their faces!

An Indian (Native American) rain dance that causes it to rain

Other gag scenes with desert animals, cactus, buffaloes, bear...

A western town called Dry Gulch with scenes showing a cowboy on horseback on the roof of the town's saloon - and 10 characters, including a bartender ( who is trying to shoot the cowboy and his mount off the roof ), saloon girls, and other cowboys hooting and hollering, and more...

...And a waterfall-drop finale.

If built, it would have been one of the most complex and expensive Disney attractions of its time, housed in one of the largest show buildings (a large warehouse that stores the interior of the attraction) ever created by the WDI. Its projected expense is one reason it was never built. The attraction, would have also shared the show building with a "runaway" mine train themed roller coaster. Other features of the pavilion-style WRE would have included hiking trails atop the mesa, a Pueblo Indian village, and a pack mule attraction.

The Western River Expedition was supposed to be Walt Disney World's answer to Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean. When plans were being made for the Magic Kingdom, Imagineers had no plans to replicate "Pirates" for the Magic Kingdom. It was believed by many Imagineers at the time that Florida residents were too accustomed to pirates, as pirates are a part Florida's local legend and lore. Disney management thought that cowboys and Indians would be more surprising and exciting to Florida residents.

However, when the Magic Kingdom opened, the most common complaint from guests were "Where are the Pirates?" Disney hastily built a second Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom, thus scrapping plans for the Western River Expedition because much of the budget planned to build the Western River Expedition was used in building Pirates of the Caribbean for the Magic Kingdom. Years later, there was the possibility that the Western River Expedition would be built, however various problems plagued the attractions development, and instead, over the course of many years, two complex attractions- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain - each both using elements and inspiration from the Western River Expedition, now occupy the land originally placed aside for the Western River Expedition.

Western River Expedition is something of a legend among Disney Imagineers, especially to those who admire the work of Disney legend Marc Davis and parts of the ride was slipped into other attractions like Epcot's World of Motion.

Let's come back now to Disneyland Paris. Soon after the park opening in 1992, new attractions to increase the park capacity were needed, and as quick as possible. Each land show producer and their team were asked to propose new projects, and here is where the Western River Expedition attraction project makes its comeback.

For Jeff Burke, show producer of DLP's Frontierland, the unique landscape theming of the land was perfect to introduce WRE. You see, at DLP, Frontierland don't have all this greenery you can find in the U.S parks with a Tom Sawyer island at the center of the river. In Paris, we have instead Big Thunder Mountain island in the middle of the Rivers of the far west, and a vegetation coming more from the desert - cactus, etc...than from the banks of the Mississipi river. In two words, Paris Frontierland has a more "dry" vegetation. And when you'll know that Marc Davis WRE had a kind of red "canyon" exterior theming, you will understand why DLP's Frontierland would have been ( and still is ) the perfect Frontierland to build Marc's attraction.

So, back in 1993, the imagineers bring out again Marc's artwork and WRE models and thought that the best place to build the attraction in Frontierland would have been in the land available behind the train station - exactly where rumors since the last 10 years keep saying that the park-is-going-to-build-here-Splash Mountain-anytime-soon. Although it's true that a Splash Mountain attraction was also envisioned by the imagineers at this same location, the first one who almost did it was definitely Western River Expedition.

The location would have been perfect, and the imagineers really thought that this time , that was it: Marc Davis legenday project was finally going to be build!

So, what happenned? Well, what happened is that somebody called Michael Eisner - remember this man who was the CEO of the Walt Disney Company before he became anchorman of his own show on a cable network? - Michael Eisner, so, came and had a look to all the different projects. And once again, the "cost" curse of Western River Expedition burried the project... Eisner asked for the cost of it - and it's true that WRE is really an expensive attraction, let's say probably not less than 150 M $ - and that was really too much for Michael.

Goodbye Western River Expedition, and welcome......nothing, as in Frontierland no attractions were built back in 1993 at the exception of the Fort scenes. Instead, Indiana Jones and the temple of peril, Casey Jr, Story Book Land, Les Mystères du Nautilus and Space Mountain were built, all successful attractions, i must add.

Do we have a chance to see a Western River Expedition in the future at DLP's Frontierland? Mmmmh, although the land is still available, i would not bet too much on it. It's a pity, because every guest will love it, but, hey, if you are an Arab Prince who have 150 M $ and don't know what to do with them, please call DLP executives and tell them you're ready to fund a WRE project. Marc Davis - from where he is now, will bless you till the end of your life!

Artwork: copyright Disney Enterprises

Thanks to Wikipedia for the description text.
Editor's note : Once you will have read the "UP!" article below, don't miss the new Al Lutz update on ! As always, Al have a lot of insider infos , beginning by the soon opening DCA preview center!

Also, for all of you who are interested to see more about the TDL Hotel, there is a great photo report from TDL Fan with dozens of pictures on Mice Chat!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More about " UP ! "

Something really fun is happening with the upcoming Pixar movie " UP ! ": the more we know about it, the less we understand what it is really talking about!

However, the lucky guys who were at the San Diego Comic Con recently had the pleasure to watch some footage. Among them, the folks from who give us a kind of "pitch" . Here is their transcript, and i added some pictures shoot during this Pete Docter's presentation to illustrate it - including the teaser video which fits perfectly with a scene they describe :

"We were shown footage of Carl, the old man voiced by Ed Asner, about to leave his home to go to a retirement community.

Carl is a former balloon salesman who will use his remaining balloons to lift his house up to the sky.

The house lazily begins floating into the air and away from the city.

Carl intends to travel to Venezuela to see the remote plateaus and rainforests. He intends to fulfill a promise he made to his deceased wife to go there one day. Just as Carl settles into his living room in the floating house... there's a knock at the door. The director revealed that it was a Boy Scout (of sorts) named Russell. He's missing just one badge - the one for aiding the elderly.

So the young man joins Carl on his quest to travel to Venezuela to the Tepui table top Mountains.

We were shown some test footage of their interaction which was pretty funny and featured them carrying the house tied to themselves like a balloon through the rainforest."

And that's all we know for now!

You can read more in the article where they also talk about the "Bolt" preview that same day, at the Comic Con.

Pictures: copyright Disney-Pixar