Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bolt Dvd released next week with new animated short " Super Rhino " !

Bolt Dvd and Blue-Ray Editions will be released next tuesday March 24. That's already good news, but there will be something else - and great - included in both editions.
No, i'm not talking about the usual and always welcome "making-of" but more about the new animated short "Super Rhino", starring of course Rhino - Bolt's funny character.

Well, it seems that someone has already received the Dvd as "Super Rhino" is now uploaded on Youtube...

Picture and Video: copyright Disney

New " UP! " Movie Clip !

Pixar released a new clip from UP! The two characters are always in the South America jungle, and....well, i'm not gonna spoil it to you, have a look at the video below!

Video: copyright Disney-Pixar

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Tribute to Tom Thordarson - a.k.a " THOR " - Artwork - Part One : Tikis and Pirates

Today, I would like to introduce to you a great artist, Tom Thordarson. I will do a series of articles about Tom, former WDI Imagineer now living in Hawaii - lucky man! - and this first article will delight those of you who love Hawaian Tikis, Pirates, and lands of adventure !

Tom Thordarson, or "THOR" as he is best known by both collectors of his work and the growing awareness in the art community, can truly take your imagination on a journey unlike any other. His life as an artist began when he was just old enough to hold a pencil. With his mother being an artist as well, she would hand him paper and pencils to "keep him out of mischief," as she would say. The years spent drawing and painting would soon become a powerful tool to communicate his intense imagination and endless spirit of adventure in his career to be.

Below, a recent picture of "Thor", holding a frosty Mai Tai in his hand.....which is always good for a little inspiration!

In his own words, Thor explains, "Creating my own entertainment and building my own toys was an activity I was highly encouraged to do as a kid. I learned to believe in the real magic and power of my imagination. I believed that if I could draw something with enough passion and thought, then what would stop it from becoming something I could touch or step right into one day?”

"My entire childhood was filled with endless curiosity, drawing and adventure. I loved building tree houses and forts from scrap wood and stuff I could find in my Grandfather's workshop. The experiences that would lead me to what I paint today were inspired by my family's incredibly fun vacations every summer to Hawaii beginning at age 6. I also have two sets of cousins on the Big Island who encouraged me to become a certified diver when I lived with them for many summers growing up as well."

"So, Hawaii is my second home. I love the sea. I spent endless hours on Maui and Hawaii combing the beaches and climbing trees in the nearby jungles pretending I was a pirate or some ingenious castaway living off the land in a high seas adventure."

An honors graduate in Illustration from the prestigious Pasadena Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, Thor was immediately discovered by the entertainment/theme park industry which he remained in for 17 years. His imagination and talents have led him to conceive, illustrate and paint concepts for countless rides and attractions with many major entertainment companies. With strong skills in both team leadership and his art, he served as the Director of Attraction Development at MCA Universal Studios, Hollywood and then as a Disney Imagineer with his role as a Director/Senior Concept Designer.

Among his many assignments at Disney was the task of the concept design for one of the main "E-ticket" rides for Tokyo Disney Sea called "Journey to the Center of the Earth," TDS top rated thrill ride. He was also a key team player in the early design phases of many other attractions for Disney Sea, especially Mysterious Island.

Residing now in both California and Hawaii, Thor has put aside the entertainment design industry to focus on his art inspired by those early days of tropical adventures that shaped his art and imagination. "I am painting the fantasies and stories now that I imagined all those years sitting on the beaches, diving in the sea or building hideaways in the lush island jungles," Thor explains.

At the beginning of the article, i've promised you Tikis, and here is a selection of Tom's Hawaian scenes with Tikis.

Some years ago, Tom did these two gorgeous paintings below for the WDW Polynesian Resort: "I did these two paintings a couple years ago when they were renovating the Polynesian Resort. I was commissioned directly by Wing Chao, Vice Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. He is a fan of my Hawaii and Tiki art and owns some of my work. These paintings are reproduced and framed in all the new suites in the Polynesian today. There are about a half dozen hidden Mickey's in each painting... I also did four large paintings that are behind the main reception desk at the Polynesian when you check in."

"I am hoping that everyone finds these enchanted places, intriguing contraptions or playful characters I am painting now as much fun to look at, as they are for me to paint. Please feel free to step into them. Come by and share some Aloha spirit with me and I will tell you a few magical tales. The tiki torches are all lit and fluttering in the trade winds.... I will see you on the lanai!"

Tom also creates incredible paintings, not using ink, but rum! That's right, the same and famous Pirates rum! it looks great, as you will see with the four "rum paintings" below.

Now, if you want to see Tom in "action", don't miss this video below, where you'll see Tom at home in Hawaii - filmed by his teenage daughter - experimenting with a fun series of sketches created with flaming rum and a paint brush!

Tom is also painting a great "Tiki Idols" series where he take a person that is tied to the Hawaii pop culture and paint them as a Tiki: "I had a lot of requests for me to do an I cranked one out last week before the weekend show. This "Obama Tiki Idol" is the latest add to my Hawaiian Tiki Idol series, and it sold instantly!

Tom Thordarson have his own web site and a gallery in Hawaii - more precisely on the Island of Oahu - where you'll be able to find his beautiful artwork, including these Tiki idols series. Some of them are on sale, and whether it is the originals or very affordable prints, any Tiki lover will find his happiness! Also, if you're a fan of Tom's artwork and want to contact him, feel free to do it through his MySpace page.

In the next article we will talk about a great attraction concept that Tom did for Landmark Entertainment. I think we can describe it as a "Jungle Cruise with Dinosaurs" ride and believe me, you will love it!

Artwork: copyright Tom Thordarson

Polynesian Resort paintings: copyright The Walt Disney Company

All my thanks to Tom Thordarson for all his beautiful artwork!

UP! will have its World Premiere at Cannes Film Festival Grand opening

Major news today for Pixar's UP! as the Cannes Film Festival organisation announced that UP! will be THE movie that will open the 62nd Cannes Film festival on May 13. This will also be UP! World Premiere, and UP! will be shown in 3D to the 2000+ guests of the Grand Opening evening!

This is the first time that an animated film - and in 3D! - will be the "opening film" of the most famous and glamourous film festival in the world. We don't know yet if UP! will also be part of the film festival competition or not, but i'll let you know.

More about this great news on the Hollywood Reporter web site.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Will the Little Mermaid attraction be Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary E-Ticket ?

A looong time ago, i.e at the opening of Disneyland Paris, back in 1992, when one bought a map of the park, you could see a Little Mermaid attraction in the Fantasyland area with these words "future attraction". Well, this "future" attraction never opened but we know now that it will open at DCA in 2011.

One year later, in 2012, it will be Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary and there is little doubt that the park will build a major attraction - like they did with the Tower of Terror for the 15th anniversary.
The big question that all DLP fans try to answer on all forums is: which one? Indiana Jones Adventure and Splash Mountain are of course long time favorites, but personally, i rather will put all my bets on the long awaited Little Mermaid attraction.

Why? First, it will be a new E-Ticket for Fantasyland, and at DLP Fantasyland have until now only one real E-Ticket : It's a Small World. A new one in this land often very crowded will be totally welcome, specially considering that it will be a high capacity per hour attraction.

Two, as i've said in previous articles the Little Mermaid is not only a "family attraction" but also a perfect ride for young girls. And it has been a long time since DLP opened an attraction perfectly designed for young girls.

Three, strong rumors keep saying that the Fantasyland Festival Stage destruction should begin at the end of this year. And we know almost for sure that imagineers should build the Little Mermaid behind Fantasyland Train Station where there is plenty of room available - and probably not in front of the Pizzeria Bella Notte where it was envisioned back in 1992. I re-post below this Google Earth view where you can see all the room available behind the train station.

Four, and for DLP management it should be the most important point: scale economy. If DLP build the Little Mermaid ride almost at the same time than the one at DCA they can expect important scale economies and lot of money can be save.

Five, it will be not only a real E-Ticket - if DLP get the same version than DCA - but a fantastic dark ride, full of great theming, special effects and audio-animatronics. The kind of attraction that guests will ride forever. Not to mention all the great songs that we all know by heart.

For all these reasons, i put my bets on the Little Memaid ride as DLP 20th anniversary attraction. Of course, if DLP attendance dramatically fall this year because of the world economy crisis things could change, but if everything goes well we all should be "under the sea" in three years from now.

In the meantime i suggest we have a look back at the original concept. Legendary Imagineer Tony Baxter designed the Little Mermaid attraction as a dark ride, and i should say: a GREAT dark ride.

At the origin the vehicles were designed like a shell and hold by the top , just like those of Peter Pan's flight. We know now that it is an omni-mover system which is finally chosen for the DCA version - no doubt that it will be the same for DLP.

Two , the ride will bring you under water AND over the water, and back again, thanks to the incredible "dry for wet" WDI technology, a mix of lighting, lasers and smoke effects which will give you the feeling you're under water, even if you're not really.

In DLP's original plans the great design was beginning with the outside decor - the Little Mermaid "castle", a wonderful theming. It would have been a great addition for DLP's Fantasyland in front of the Pizzeria Bella notte restaurant. DCA's version will have a building with a totally different architecture. May be they will keep the original concept for DLP, who knows?

The first scene of the original concept was over the water with the Little Mermaid meeting Eric for the first time.

Then, as you hear the Sebastian character singing "under the sea" the vehicle was "diving" under water for a great "under the sea" concert scene. You can expect plenty of audio-animatronics in that scene, so magical that guests will remember it forever .

Always in the original concept, we then meet Ariel in her grotto, before entering Ursula's threatening cave , the famous scene where she try to steal Ariel's voice. In the final version that is currently build at DCA, expect a little bit frightening atmosphere in that scene with the "unfortunate souls" welcoming you at the entrance of Ursula's cavern or rising from a bubbling cauldron thanks to WDI wizards special effects...

The next sequence of the original concept was the "kiss the girl" scene. Although it looks peaceful, Ursula's marine eels were there to remember us that something dramatic is on its way to happen, as the creatures will try to stop the first kiss between Ariel and Eric...
And, as the vehicle was supposed to come "out" of the water again, guests would have discover that the surface of the sea was now under a frightening storm. The "giant" Ursula was there, soon to be defeated, just like in the movie. A really powerful scene in terms of sound and lighting effects...

The last scene shows Ariel and Eric living happily, a typical fairy-tale ending.

It looks like a great dark ride, doesn't it? The final DCA version will have nine main "scenes" and most of what was envisioned in the original concept should be there.

Now, those of you who bought the Platinum edition of the Little Mermaid dvd may have seen the special feature about the original attraction project - the images you've seen on this article are screen capture done by the former web site. In that special feature it was possible to see a video of a "virtual creation" of the ride, and now it's time to have a better look to this original Little Mermaid attraction concept. You won't get closer to this highly awaited ride until its opening at Disney's California Adventure and, hopefully, at Disneyland Paris in 2012.

Photos and video: copyright Disney.

Screen capture by

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Editor's Note: Don't miss Al Lutz new update on Mice Age, it's all about the new Disney D23 and it will help you to have a better understanding of the situation.
The major Disney news today is unfortunately not a good news as you will read below. Let's hope that all is not lost about Hong Kong Disneyland's future...

Will the Disney decision to put Hong Kong Disneyland expansion on hold have an effect on the Shanghaî Disneyland project ?

I knew about it since one week, but I was waiting for a more "official" confirmation, and here it is: Disney is putting Hong Kong Disneyland expansion on hold. Why? Well, according to the Reuters article - and confirmed by the company today - it's because they failed "to find an agreement with the city's government on a cash infusion".

More worrying, Disney said "it would fire about 30 Hong Kong-based employees dubbed "Imagineers" that had helped conceptualize and plan the expansion". "Some jobs might also go at Disney's home-turf of Burbank, California, as a result of the work stoppage" a source familiar with the situation told Reuters. The anonymous Reuters source added "Disney had already been funding creative efforts -- designing and envisioning the look of rides -- but decided to pull financing when it became clear that a deal with the government on expanding Disneyland was not imminent". Disney also said in a statement: "The uncertainty of the outcome requires us to immediately suspend all creative and design work on the project".

It's obviously a very hard move in direction of the Hong Kong city government - who expressed "grave concern" about Disney decision . You see, these negociations between Disney and the HK government didn't began some weeks ago. In fact, Disney is trying to have a new financial deal with them since years, i would say at least two or three years. And, considering how tough can be negociations - specially financial negociations - with Chinese officials, i think that Disney has probably reached the "that's enough" point.

Business negociations with Chinese can be incredibly difficult and the outcome of this arm wrestling is really uncertain, which is of course a very bad news for everybody: the HKDL fans, the Imagineers who worked on the expansion projects, and of course Disney and the HK government as the park desperately need this expansion to be more successful.

Now, we have to remember that Hong Kong is part of China AND that Disney has a much more important deal waiting for the Shanghaî Disneyland park. Although Hong Kong have a special status inside China, it is still under control of Beijing Central government.....who must give his final agreement to the Shanghaî project.

What Beijing central government will think of Disney's HKDL decision and what effect it will have on their approval of the Disney Shanghaî project, that's all the question. In two words the chess game is still going on and we just have to pray that both projects won't be stormed by this power struggle.

In the meantime, you can have a look to the Reuters article HERE and to the Business Week article HERE.

Photo: copyright Disney

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy 7th Birthday , Walt Disney Studios !

Seven years ago, the Walt Disney Studios, DLP's second park, was opening its gates. The park beginning was a bit difficult, but since then five new attractions were added, and more will open in the next years.

Let's remember how the WDS looked seven years ago with these high-res pictures released by DLP's press office at the opening of the park. Please note that DLP marketing office shoot these pictures a few weeks before the opening day. Also, and that's the gift for this WDS 7th birthday, all the pictures are "wallpaper" size!

Let's begin by the Front Lot and the Studio 1

Next is the Animation courtyard, now called Toon Studio. With Crush's Coaster, the Cars attraction and the upcoming Toy Story Playland, there is many more attractions, but at the opening guests could only enjoy the Art of Animation...

The Aladdin's flying carpet ride...

...And the Animagique show.

At Production courtyard, no Tower of Terror or Hollywood Blvd n 2002, but the Tram Tour was there from opening day... well as Cinemagique - one of my favorite WDS attraction...

...and the Disney Channel Zapping Zone. Listed as an "attraction", Zapping Zone was not really one and is now the first WDS extinct attraction. Stitch Live! and soon Playhouse Disney live on stage! are the new shows inside the Disney Channel building.

On the Backlot, guests could find the Armaggedon attraction...

If you've never been at the WDS, don't think that Armageddon look like the computer rendering above, one of the very rare example of a WDI rendering (generally always accurate) which don't look like the real thing.

The Rock and Roller coaster is also located in the Backlot and has a different theming than the DHS version. Personally i prefer the DHS version, but i must admit that the imagineers did a real good job on the light show.

The Motors Action stunt show that DHS guests can enjoy was first created for the WDS. Don't miss the jet ski shot below as this part of the show was cancelled a few weeks after the park's opening.

The WDS have three restaurants, including the art-deco "Rendez-vous des Stars"...

...but in terms of theming, the winner is definitely the Backlot Express, decorated inside like a Props warehouse.

There is absolutely no doubt that the park's management will continue to expand the WDS with new attractions - Toy Story Playland in 2010, probably the Ratatouille dark ride in 2011 or 2012, and new decors. So the future looks bright for the Walt Disney Studios if what will be build is not done in a cheap way. Hopefully they will have learn from their previous mistakes!

All pictures: copyright Disney - Disneyland Resort Paris