Saturday, December 26, 2009

Plectu's Fantastic Galactic Revue, the "Disney decade" project that never was

"Plectu's Fantastic Galactic Revue" was part of the new attraction/show announced in 1990's famous "Disney decade" project. Supposed to replace the Carousel of Progress at WDW, it was, unfortunately, never built. The renderings of this "Plectu's" project are extremely rare, but here is one showing how the exterior would have looked. Let's thanks Mark Taft from the excellent Insight and Sounds blog who had the good idea to take the picture of the artwork in 1990 at Disneyland.

In one of his famous "Why for?" articles published in 2004, Jim Hill described the building exterior theming as "Like someone had brought the Mothership from "Close Encounters of a Third Kind" in for a three-point landing in the heart of Tomorrowland", and when we look at the artwork, the least we can say is that Jim's description was right!

To know more how this "singing audio-animatronics aliens" and their "outer-space musical-variety revue" would have been - if WDI succeed to have the green light from Michael Eisner - which they never had, i suggest you to have a look at Jim's article HERE

Artwork: copyright Walt Disney Enterprises

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Editor's Note: It's December 24th, so wherever you are i want to wish to all of you a Merry Christmas ! Today's article will take you back to the 1964 World's Fair with the full video of the 1960's TV Special with Walt himself!

Disney and more Time machine - Back in time to 1964 : Walt Disney and the New York World Fair attractions

The 1964 World Fair gave a lot of work to WED Enterprises - now " Walt Disney Imagineering " - as the Imagineers were designing four different attractions for it. But thanks to them, the future of Disney theme parks will be changed forever.

One of them is known now as "Great moments with Mr Lincoln" , and here is Walt with WDI sculptor Blaine Gibson and Lincoln's head sculpture.

The second one was a flume ride full of little audio-animatronics - " It's a small world " - and here is Walt standing with Mary Blair.

Here is a video of Walt presenting the model with Mary Blair.

This next picture was shot inside the World's fair pavillion and is coming from a special report issued in the National Geographic magazine.

The third one was the great " Carousel of Progress " , who stunned at that time the audience with its great audio-animatronics figures and i will comeback on this one later.

Of course, the AA of Mr Lincoln and Carousel of Progress were opening the door for the future Pirates audio-animatronics, but Walt was so happy with the small world boat system that this last attraction lead to the development of a Pirates of Caribbean flume ride - instead of a "walk-through" as it was envisioned at the beginning.

And, of course, there was the Magic Skyway attraction that WED created for the Ford pavillion using Ford cars to move the audience through scenes featuring life-sized audio-animatronic dinosaurs and cavemen. The dinosaurs scenes that the visitors watched in their trip back in time are now part of the primeval world at Disneyland - and then were recreated at Epcot's Universe of Energy .

But the vehicle system - at the world's fair guests were seated in Ford vehicles lead to another transportation system well known by Disneyland and WDW guests : the People mover.

Let's have a closer look to it, now, with this Youtube video, a clever editing of pictures of the Magic Skyway attraction at the world's fair, with the original audio commentary by Walt himself.

Always at the 1964 world fair, visitors could ride another amazing attraction, but the General Motors "Futurama 2" was not designed by WED enterprises. Ironically, Disney had earlier been asked by General Motors to produce their exhibit, but he declined.
Futurama 2 depicted life 60 years into the future, this time 2024. Scenes showed a lunar base of operation, an Antarctic "Weather Central" climate forecasting center, underseas exploration and "Hotel Atlantis" for underseas vacationing, desert irrigation, and land reclamation, building roads in the jungle and a City of the Future. Visitors rode through the dioramas in 3-abreast chairs on a ride train. The Futurama exhibit was sponsored by General Motors and proved to be, too, one of the most popular exhibit at the World's Fair with more than 26 million persons attending the show in the two 6-month seasons the Fair was open.

Here is a General Motors promotional film following a young boy as he rides the Futurama 2 ride.

Let's end with this great eight-parts videos showing the whole Walt Disney goes to the World's Fair TV Special!

Photos: copyright Disney and National Geographic
Videos: copyright Disney for the two first videos

All my thanks to the different people for the youtube links and specially to Disneylandtourguide2 for the Walt Disney at the World's Fair videos.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Disney's California Adventure that never was !

Today, i found in my Disney "archives" a press kit that was sent to me in 1996 by the Disneyland press office. It's a presentation of the "future" Disneyland Resort and what was going to be, some years later, Disney's California Adventure.

Everything is there, the Entrance, the Animation building, Soarin', the Grizzly raft ride, the Grand Californian hotel, etc...but if we have a close look to the renderings, nothing look like what we know. It's a Disney's California Adventure that never was!

Let's have a look first at the rendering on the cover of this six-pages brochure. It is supposed to be the entrance of the park. The monorail is still passing through, but no Golden Gate, etc...And this giant golden spire was supposed to be the icon of the park, just like Sleeping Beauty castle can be for Disneyland.

Now, if this giant spire looks familiar to you, dear readers, it's normal. You just saw it four days ago in my Westcot article - see the Westcot rendering below - and this spire was probably one of the rare reminiscence of the Westcot project in this early DCA concept-art.

But all is not lost in this "entrance" rendering. If we have a look at this picture of the model of DCA future new entrance, we can see that, here too, there is some reminiscence of this first DCA entrance concept-art. But the giant spire has disappeared forever.

The next page of the brochure was introducing the new Disneyland Resort, and i suggest you to double-click on the image to read the text.

As we're going to see, the next page is very interesting, too...

The Art of animation building looks totally different than the one we know...

And it's the same for the Soarin building, very different, too.

Even more interesting are these two renderings. Not only the Grizzly rafts don't look like the one show here, but we are still waiting for an "abc" attraction!

The master plan on the next page may look familiar...

But if you have a close look to the DCA section, you will notice that big changes were done in the final version, beginning by the water canals...

Next page is interesting, too. The buildings on the rendering with the monorail were never built, and even the Grand Californian hotel had a different architecture.

The last page who show the redesign of Walnut Street and Katella Blvd is may be the most accurate with the final result, though...

We know the rest of the story, and how DCA finally had a totally different look, but i thought it was interesting to share with you this first vision of the park. We are now all waiting for the third "vision", and hopefully, this time, it will be the right one!

Artwork and brochure: copyright Disney

Disneyland Paris Best Wishes e-card introduces DLP 2010 season

Disneyland Paris press office did a cute Christmas e-card to send their best wishes for 2010, and you can see it HERE. Another good reason to have a look at it: it's in relation with the upcoming 2010 season at DLP!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Great Moments with Mr Lincoln re-open at Disneyland !

The awaited new show of Great moments with Mr Lincoln opened at Disneyland and the new Audio Animatronic seems to be pretty spectacular as you will see on the videos below. Everything, from the pre-show area to the show itself has been done very elegantly and there is no doubt that this is a not-to-be-missed show at Disneyland!

The first video below - coming from the O.C Register - will show you more - and with a close shot on Abe's face to have a perfect look to this part of the AA which is revolutionary.

Mouse Planet did a very good video of the Abe Lincoln speech, the best i've seen so far. Mouse Planet also have great pictures of the theatre and pre-show area. And on Mice Age the great Andy Castro did a great article with lot of pictures too!

Also, Mouse info shot a video of the whole show. You won't see Lincoln face as close as on the other video, but the video is okay. No need to say that if you intend to see the show anytime soon it's better to don't look at these videos, as good as they can be...

It seems that most of the guests who have seen the new show are extremely pleased. If you're one of them, thanks to let us know what you think!

Picture: copyright Disney

Videos: copyright Mouse Planet OC Register, Mouse info

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Disney's America theme park project

Today i invite you to have a look to a Disney theme park which, very unfortunately was never built, the famous Disney's America project. Announced in 1993,it was supposed to occupy 1200 acres of a 3000 acre property in Prince William County, Virginia.

Bob Weis - who was at the head of the creative development for the park - defined it as "an ideal complement to visiting Washington's museums, monuments and national treasures" was supposed to be a park " that will be a venue for people of all ages, especially the young, to debate and discuss the future of our nation and to learn more about its past by living it". A place where guests "will be able to have rides, shows and interactive experiences that are both about the history of America, about America today and also give you a sense of America in the future. And he added: "In some ways the park is a timeline, we start in the mid-1860s and go backward or forward in time".

Yes, but what kind of rides and shows guests would have enjoy at Disney's America? Well, once they entered the park, guests would have found themselves in a detailed Civil War era village, the hub of "Disney's America.

From that point, guests could discover either "Native America" and explore the life of America's first inhabitants - including an accurate Native American village reflecting the tribes that were known in this part of the country. And also enjoy interactive experiences, exhibits and arts and crafts, as well as an exciting white water river raft ride that would have gone all around the area, based on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Guests, then, would discover Presidents' Square, a celebration of the birth of democracy and those who fought to preserve it. The "Hall of presidents" of Walt Disney World would have moved to Disney's America.

A Civil War Fort would have plunge guests into a more turbulent time of American history, and adjacent to it, a big battlefield, where Civil War re-enactments and water battles between the Monitor and the Merrimac would have once again be fought.

Moving in the 20th century, a replica of Ellis Island building where many immigrants came through, guests would have live the "immigrant experience" through music, ethnic foods and a great live show presentation.

Enterprise, a factory town, would have highlights American ingenuity and guests could have ride a major roller coaster attraction called the "Industrial Revolution" , traveling through a 19th century landscape with heavy industry and blast furnaces. And, on either side of the coaster, exhibits of famous American technology that have defined the american industry in the past, as new developments that will define industries in the future.

On Victory Field guests would have experience what America's soldiers faced in the defense of freedom during the world wars. It would have look like an airport area with a series of hangars containing attractions based on America's military fight using virtual reality technology. The airport would have serve also as an exhibit area of planes from different periods, as well as a place for major flying exhibitions.

Another area, the State Fair, was going to show how - even during the big Depression of the '30s - Americans knew how to entertain themselves. With folk art exhibits and a live show on baseball, guests could have enjoy, too, classic wooden thrill rides in memory of Coney Island.

Finally, in Family Farm, WDI imagineers would have recreate an authentic farm where guests could have the opportunity to see different types of farm industries related to food production in addition to some hands-on experiences like milking cows and learning what homemade ice cream tastes like.

Mind you, all was not lost in this Disney's America project, as some of the concepts were finally used in Disney's California Adventure. Jim Hill wrote an article about it, and you can read it HERE.

After the big battle between Disney, and almost everybody who lived in Virginia - okay, i'm exagerating a bit - the project was cancelled. However, in 1995 Disney envisioned to build it - guess where? - at Knott's Berry farm that the Knotts family, tired to run their theme park, wanted to sale. Jim Hill, again, wrote another great article describing all what happened, and you can read it HERE

I know, this Disney's America project look great and we will all miss it forever, but there is one last good news: Bob Weis, the imagineer that was in charge of the project's creative development is now back at WDI, and is now supervising the new placemaking of Disney's California Adventure. And, believe me, all imagineers welcomed him back like the messiah!

All photos: copyright Disney Enterprises Inc

All my thanks to Jim Hill for some of the infos included in this article.

Many many thanks to Michael of the excellent Progress City web site.

Those of you who want to find more infos on the Disney's America battle can find good links HERE