Thursday, July 29, 2010
Disneyland Paris had the good idea to organize for webmasters fans sites a special preview last monday of Toy Story Playland at the Walt Disney Studios. We couldn't shoot pictures during the visit inside the land so you still have to wait two more weeks for a full pictorial report, but i succeed to find on DLP forums pics posted by forum members to illustrate this article, not to mention videos filmed from outside the land.
Soooo, how is this new Toy Story Playland? Honestly, it's good, and it's even better than i expected, really. WDI Imagineers did, i think, a great job and those of you who were disappointed by TSP renderings or model pictures - specially the one for HKDL displayed during the D23 Expo - should have a good surprise when this new land will finally open on August 17th. By the way, it's also a good news for HKDL fans which will have their own Toy Story Land next year. My message to them is this one: don't worry, you will like it!
Why is it good? First, because it's bigger than we thought. And not only the land itself, but also the ride structures. Whether it's "Parachute Drop" or "RC Racer" DLP fans will be amazed by the size of these brilliantly themed carnival rides. Two, it brings a lot of vegetation in a park which desperately need some. Three, the theming of the whole land is very intelligently done and definitely give to WDS guests the feeling that they are reduced at the size of a toy.
The visit of the land was done by Imagineer Dominique Hammond but, first, Dominique shows us the giant TSP model which is currently backstage. Here is some pictures of it which were NOT shot during monday's presentation (as well as the other model pictures you will see below). As always the quality of WDI models is very impressive and i always have a lot of respect for the people doing these models as i know it's exactly the kind of thing i would not be able to achieve myself!
Then, we've been with Dominique Hammond - in two separate groups - inside the land itself and as i've told you previously a giant Buzz Lightyear stands at the entrance of the land. This four meter high Buzz will talk to the guests - but no Audio Animatronic face here. Buzz transparent dome will light up as well as the laser beam on his right arm, and a lot of different phrases were recorded so don't expect Buzz to say twice the same thing! In the storyline, Toy Story Playland is supposed to be Andy's backyard, where he put his toys, and Buzz will welcome WDS guests to enter it...while Andy is not there. That's why you'll find giant shoeprints in the ground - these are Andy "shoeprints".
Also at the entrance and all along the land guests will see these wooden structure like the one below - inspired by the famous Tinker Toys - as well as multi colored festive lights which should give an interesting lighting at night during the winter months when night falls at 5PM.
The first attraction on the left is Parachute Drop. The 80 feet high tower is really impressive and green toy soldiers are everywhere: inside the cockpit of the plane at the entrance of the ride - on which is painted the attraction name - near a giant talkie walkie, up inside an observation tower, and of course inside the army "Emery Camp" - a tribute to Emeryville where are located Pixar Animation Studios. Also at the left of the entrance a nice photo-location with a huge sky backdrop and a parachute.
There is six parachutes, in each one six WDS guests will be able to sit, which means 36 guests for each ride and in fact WDI have pushed the limits - technically speaking - as this kind of carnival ride usually takes "only" 18 guests. So, 36 guests at the same time for this kind of ride is a premiere.
Here is two high-res videos that i've filmed last monday from outside the land, on two different angles. These are high-def videos so definitely watch them in full screen mode. And all the sounds that you'll hear are from the attraction with the toy soldier yelling "Go, go, go!" as well as the sound of a plane passing by.
The next attraction, this time on the right, is Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin. Imagineers used big Lincoln Logs to theme the entrance of the attraction and a giant Slinky Dog toy box on which all paintings are nothing less than hand made paintings, beautifully done. Here too, everything looks bigger than expected and it's also at that point that the road which goes all along TSP have a gentle slope. Which means that the third and last ride - RC Racer - is on a slightly lower level than the two first one. This gives an interesting perspective when you look back and, again, reinforce the feeling that everything looks big - and you, small! Also close to this ride, a giant rubber ball, originally seen in Pixar's first short animated movie "Luxo Jr".
All this lead us to the last ride "RC Racer" which also have the tallest structure - and i mean really tall! RC Racer is a 80 feet tall half-pipe coaster with only one vehicle - a greatly themed RC Racer - in which 20 guests will load. The car will go up and down thanks to a magnetic field and, frankly, i'm sure that it will be very impressive when the car will reach the top of the track!
The queue line has been calculated for a 90-120 minutes queue - DLP Imagineers surely have learned from Crush's Coaster long queue line which is usually so long that it goes outside of the attraction. The floor of it is designed like a Skalextric race track and guests will also find in the decor a Dinoco gas station and inside the load/unload building elements like the one you find inside a model box.
There is no doubt that RC Racer is Toy Story Playland "thrill" attraction and we can expect long line on this one. Above and below, some pics of the track shot from the Tram Tour Station, and also one where you'll see the vehicle in test mode - thanks to Vrogui from Disney Gazette forum. Note that the top elements of RC Racer track themed like a Hot Wheel track will be added as soon as the tests will be over, probably next week.
The RC Racer area is also the place with a lot of vegetation as Imagineers used huge trees which are part of a hundred years old forest. Also, Toy Story Playland is surrounded by giant bamboos and as i've said, all this vegetation is very welcome. Outside RC Racer, and near the second exit, a giant Rex awaits WDS guests. Rex is supposed to have half-size of a real TRex and he is also talking and for sure will be a favorite photo-location. Guests will then exit TSP walking through a blue monkey barrel - in fact the monkeys are hanged outside the barrel. The top of the barrel is located nearby and inside guests will find a merchandise shop as well as cool drinks .
I've kept for the end these great aerial pics shot last week by Jolly Roger - a DLP fan who have his own plane!..
...and two videos shot from the Tram Tour where you'll see a bit of TSP through the bamboos as well as the RC Racer vehicle in test mode. The first one is in high-def.
One more thing (as Steve will say): we've also seen the "Paris street" located on the right of TSP. It's perfectly themed like a Parisian street with lampost, benches, cobblestones in the ground, etc...and there is definitely no doubt at all now that the Ratatouille dark ride is coming soon to the WDS. Not only the face of Chef Gusteau is engraved on the arch located at the other end of the blue monkey barrel but Remy's face is also everywhere on the benchs, etc... Dominique Hammond kindly refused to confirmed or even talk about the Ratatouille ride but the 20+ webmasters who were there last monday knew exactly what to think of all these not-hidden-at-all Ratatouille signs. See you in two years for this one.
So, i think this Toy Story Playland is very good news for the Walt Disney Studios and i'm pretty sure it will be instantly popular. My only concern is about the lenght of each ride. I think we can expect at least 45 minutes wait for each ride and the length of the new attractions will be one minute and a half for Parachute Drop and Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin and one minute only for the RC Racer thrill attraction. I know that you will think it's too short but, honestly, there was no other way for the Imagineers to have longer rides.
See you in two weeks with lot of pics of the land and in the meantime don't forget to check my special offer below on the great Disneyland Paris book!
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Pictures: copyright Alain Littaye - Disney and more, Vrogui, Jolly Roger, Disney.
Videos: copyright Alain Littaye, lowiic9