Saturday, September 25, 2010

How to create your own " Disney Planets " !

Let's begin the week with something great! In this article you will learn how to create "Disney Planets" from any panoramic pictures you may have shot during your last visit at your favorite Disney theme park! And not only it's fun but also VERY easy to do!

You will find below the full tutorial but basically all what you need is: 1) a panoramic shot - whether it's a "one shot" panoramic done with the panoramic feature of your digital camera or a panoramic created through Photoshop with several shots put together - and 2) any Photoshop version - and you don't need the latest CS5 version, the first Photoshop CS will work perfectly. Before i show you some examples keep in mind that each of them were done in less than five minutes - and i mean really not more than five minutes including the time to launch the Photoshop program!

There we go. For each "planet" you'll see first the panoramic shot i've used to create them. The first "planet" above was done from this official DLP panoramic picture.

But this next one below was created from my own panoramic picture shot at DLP Fantasyland.

This next one was created from this Town Square panoramic shot...

...and this one from a panoramic of the Disney Village entrance.

Of course you can try with panoramic pictures from any Disney theme park and the next pictures were not shot by me but by Bernie webmaster of the excellent web site where you will find great panoramic shots as well as many desktop pictures. The first one below was done from a panoramic of Disneyland Central Plaza.

Always from Bernie's pictures here is two "planets" created from two Toon Town panoramic shots.

But you can also have great results with night panoramics, as you can see with this night picture of Disneyland's Main Street...

...or this official night shot of Paradise Pier.

As i'm sure you must be curious to know how works the "transformation" here is the tutorial and if it's not enough clear go on this link HERE where this tutorial is coming from:

1) Choose a panoramic picture, any one but if possible one which have on the top part of the image only "sky" - with no trees or decor "touching" the top of the image. Once you've found one, it's going to be very easy.

2) Open the picture with Photoshop (any Photoshop version from the first "CS") and resize the image to a square width size (for example: from 2000 x 650 to 2000 x 2000). To do this, go in the top menu to the "Image" menu then to "Image size".

3) Your original panoramic shot is now a square. Now, always in the "Image" menu, rotate the picture: choose "Rotate 180 degrees".

4) Step 4 is "Polaring": use the polar coordinates filter. Go to the "Filter" menu, then choose "Distort" then "Polar Coordinates", and select "Rectangular to polar".

If you're french: allez au menu "filtre" puis choisir "déformation" puis "coordonnées polaires".

That's it, you've created a Disney Planet!

As i've told you the best is to have a panoramic with sky only all along the top of the image. If you don't you may have some strange effects at the end but sometime it can be "artistically" interesting. Examples with these three shots below. In this case it don't looks anymore like planets but the result is still fun. The first one is from a DLP Frontierland's shooting gallery panoramic.

This next one was done from a panoramic of Alice's Curious Labyrinth...

...and this last one from a panoramic of Main Street Liberty Arcade.

If you want to try by yourself and don't have any panoramic shot you can use some of mine previously posted HERE. Also, you can send to me - at: - the "planets" you will create and in the future i will do a special article with the creations of my D&M readers!

Pictures: copyright Alain Littaye, Rocket9, or Disney - All my thanks to Bernie of the web site for his great Disneyland panoramic pictures.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

You will never believe the real origin of Phantom Canyon's inhabitants !

All of you, Disneyland Paris fans, who ride Phantom Manor again and again might think - thanks to excellent "Phantom Manor" websites - that you know all about this DLP beloved attraction. But, today, you will learn amazing secrets you've never heard before.

In Phantom Manor "Phantom Canyon" is the last scene of the ride, after the doom buggy went through the graveyard and skeletons section. In a way, it's the grand finale of the ride. It's a totally different finale than the one you generally experience in the others Haunted Mansions. In Phantom Manor WDI Imagineers designed a surreal ghost town, and this ghost town have some rather unique Audio-Animatronics inhabitants. It is their story that I will tell you now.

In the early 1990's, while WDI Imagineers were building Phantom Manor's structure the Audio-Animatronics figures were made in WDI workshop, at Walt Disney World. At that time, Jeff Burke, DLP Frontierland's show producer, had to choose the "faces and bodies" of Phantom Canyon's future inhabitants. For the skeletons that guests meet in the previous scene, WDI purchased plastic skeletons from a company that normally supplies these "bony creations" to medical schools and colleges. For the "underworld" of Phantom Manor the skeletons were purchased in bulk and in different dimensions - larger for the men "crypt characters", smaller for the women.

And the largest skeleton acquired, used for the infamous Phantom character, was 6' 3" tall.

But for the "human" characters of Phantom Canyon it was a totally different challenge.
It's not well known but sometime - to avoid the expense of sculpting new heads and bodies for new kind of Audio-Animatronics characters - Imagineers can do a selection from masks and molds designed for AA characters of previous attractions. Then, with the magic of WDI designers and new costumes a whole new cast appear. For instance,some of the ghosts of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion previously showed up in Pirates of the Caribbean. Not only it's easier and less expensive, but the budget savings can be used to enhance lighting, special effects and other production values of the attraction.

Now, let's get back to Jeff Burke, WDW workshop, and the folks of Phantom Canyon. If you did the ride at DLP, you probably remember the bank robber and his donkey. Well, his face and body are from a mask and mold previously used for a character of EPCOT's World of Motion... as well as the donkey!

And the face and body of the scared sheriff hiding behind the lampost, is also featured as a skinny pirate in the auction scene of WDW Pirates of the Caribbean.

Mind you, Jeff's first choice was to used the terrified groundskeeper standing at the cemetary gates in Haunted Mansion's final scene. By the way, from that same scene, a howling dog among the tombstones has been turned into a snarling "hound from hell" lunging toward your doom buggy when you exit the Bride's bedroom.

Edited 10/1: Richard, a faithful D&M reader sent to me the pictures below of the DL Haunted Mansion organist. As i mention in my text that the scared sheriff's head was used previously for a Pirates of Caribbean character, Richard thought that it might be instead the head used for the organist in the Haunted Mansion, and looking at these pictures i must admit that the scared sheriff and the organist faces looks very similar.

The best was to ask my good friend Jeff Burke who was DLP's Frontierland show-producer and Jeff answered to me that "the AA head used for the organist and the scared sheriff in Phantom Manor is indeed from the same sculpture with some distinctive makeup variations. However, he was not sculpted originally with Phantom Manor in mind but rather was fashioned as one of the extra figures for "Pirates of the Caribbean"."

In two words, the same sculpted head was sculpted first for a Disneyland POTC character first, then used for the HM organist at Disneyland and then for the scared sheriff at DLP's Phantom Manor! Amazing, isn't it?

Other Phantom Canyon inhabitants includes the piano player...

...the bartender, the saloon girl...

...and the druggist. All of them began their AA "career" in various scenes of the now extinct World of Motion attraction.

But the biggest surprise probably comes from the Mayor character who welcomes us to Phantom Canyon. He's the one who greets you not only by removing his hat, but his head as well! You're not going to believe who he is really or should i say who "he" was in a previous "life": Believe it or not, but the mayor of Phantom Canyon is DREAMFINDER, the main character from the beloved Journey into Imagination attraction!

Quite frankly, I've ride Phantom Manor dozens of time and never noticed it before but indeed Phantom Canyon's mayor is/was the Dreamfinder character of EPCOT's Journey into Imagination! And the voice of this macabre mayor wishing you a "Welcome, foolish mortals..." is none less than the talented Paul Frees, who is the voice of the "Ghost Host" in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.

So, next time you will ride through Phantom Manor and when your doom buggy will go down to enter Phantom Canyon, don't forget to say a warm "Hello!" to the "Dreamfinder" mayor and all the other characters who are versatile enough to scare you at DLP after they entertained guests in a previous "life" at others Disney theme parks.

If you're looking for a great gift to offer to anyone you love - including yourself - the "Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to Reality" book with its 320 pages and 750 pictures - including 250 renderings from Walt Disney Imagineering - would be a GREAT gift for any Disney fan! I still have some copies of this hard to find book and, as i am one of the two authors of the book, each copy will be sign specially for you or anyone you wish. Of course, don't forget to tell me the name to whom you wish he dedicates the book.

Price for one copy of the english updated edition (with the text in english) is 87 Euros + 15 euros shipping to any country. Payment can be done with Paypal.

You can see some inside pages of the book on this D&M page HERE and to order the book please email me at:

Paypal payment can be sent to:

Attraction poster: copyright Disney Enterprises Inc

Photos: Alain Littaye

Tinker Bell gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Something pretty surrealistic happened yesterday as Tinker Bell got her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And so what, you ask? Well, precisely, the simple fact that we're not anymore surprised that a fictitious character gets his own star on a "walk of fame" created to celebrate the memory of real actors/directors, etc... is revealing how fiction and reality are mixed together in the world we're living.

Personally i don't see any problem with this - after all, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Snow White, Winnie the Pooh and many more fictitious characters already have their own star on the Walk of Fame. And as i've always believed that Hindus are right when they say that "everything is illusion" so, what is really real and what is not?...and why not a star for Tinker Bell on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

Anyway, enough philosophy, here are some shots of the event, with a cute "real" Tinker Bell!

Pictures: copyright Disney

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Goodbye DLP Epcot , Hello Super-Heroes City ?

DLP announcement last week of an upcoming third theme park did a tremendous effect in fans community but it is DLP CEO Philippe Gas quote that the 3rd park might be a Marvel Super-Heroes park who keep the fans discussing if it's a good idea or not. Personally i've already told you my feeling: although there is enough material in Marvel's mythology to build attractions for an entire park i still think they should do no more than a land with it, even a big one, but not a full park. But that's just my vision...

However, this announcement had other consequencies and one of them is to let us know that previous DLP third park projects are now dead. What do i mean? Well, if you would ask almost anybody working at DLP if the addition of a monorail or an Epcot theme park has ever been planned for the resort they would probably tell you that, no, never.
Hmmm...may be, except, that ONE rendering exist, a very rare one, in fact the only one i ever saw showing both a monorail AND an Epcot "Spaceship Earth" icon.

If you look well at the artwork, you will see the facade of the Newport Bay Hotel, and in the background the one of the Disneyland Paris Hotel. But the silver silhouette of the Epcot icon is located exactly in that piece of land reserved for the third park. I remind you that the land for this third theme park - well kept since 18 years - is in front of the Newport Bay and Sequoia Lodge Hotels. DLP announcement of a Marvel Super-Heroes theme park certainly means that DLP will never have its own Epcot and even more certainly no monorail, but one thing is sure: somebody at WDI, many years ago, though about building it.

I've also read on the DCP forum that a Marvel theme park could be a good idea as the three parks would have a different "target", i.e DLP Magic Kingdom for families and children up to 12 years old, the Walt Disney Studios for teens between 13 and 20, and the Marvel park for people over 20. On the "paper" it may look like a brilliant marketing argument but the problem is that reality doesn't work like that...

When they opened the WDS back in 2002 DLP marketing office already used the same kind of argument: the WDS was a park for teenagers or people loving "strong" thrill rides. And guess what happened? That's right, families with young kids came at the WDS just like they go to DLP Magic Kingdom. The result? When DLP executives understood that reality was stronger than anything including intellectual fantasy they knew that all they had to do was to create as quick as possible a whole WDS area for children under 10. And that's what they're doing since then with Toon Studios, Toy Story Playland this year and the Ratatouille ride in 2012-13.

Do you want to know why DLP Magic Kingdom didn't had a new E-Ticket since 15 years - since Space Mountain opened? This original mistake is, for a big part, the reason why. Simply because the park must fix this pathetic mistake and spend all its funds in the creation of a land for kids at the WDS. You will understand better now why i hope they're not going to do the same mistake twice. Although a park entitled "Marvel Super-Heroes" means more obviously that we're not talking here about fairy tales it will not stop families with young kids to come, at least to see how will look the new park. And of course they will come back very frustrated - if not angry - if there is no attractions for kids.

Also, this 3rd park is not supposed to open anytime soon and may be in ten years from now super-heroes movies will be less popular than now for teens, who knows? And if they're still popular in 2020 - when this Marvel park is supposed to open - DLP executives should pray that they still will be popular for, at least, 15 more years, i.e until 2035 (!) to make sure the investment will be successful... Using Marvel Super-Heroes in a theme park is not stupid, they're is a lot of great rides that can be created out of the heroes mythology but they should built it as soon as possible, let's say in 3 or 4 years from now while the super-heroes hype still exist.

Your thoughts?

If you're looking for a great gift to offer to anyone you love - including yourself - the "Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to Reality" book with its 320 pages and 750 pictures - including 250 renderings from Walt Disney Imagineering - would be a GREAT gift for any Disney fan! I still have some copies of this hard to find book and, as i am one of the two authors of the book, each copy will be sign specially for you or anyone you wish. Of course, don't forget to tell me the name to whom you wish he dedicates the book.

Price for one copy of the english updated edition (with the text in english) is 87 Euros + 15 euros shipping to any country. Payment can be done with Paypal.

You can see some inside pages of the book on this D&M page HERE and to order the book please email me at:

Paypal payment can be sent to:

Artwork: copyright Disney Enterprises Inc

All my thanks to the excellent Webcot web site who kindly provided me the artwork.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Tribute to Eric Heschong Artwork - Part Two

Last year i did a first article in tribute to Eric Heschong artwork. I love Eric's style and i think he is a fantastic painter, really. In this part two we will have a look to some of his work for Disney, beginning by these two paintings realised for the 1998 "New Tomorrowland" at Disneyland. Tony Baxter loved DLP Discoveryland style and this new DL Tomorrowland design was based on the retro-futurist concepts that Disneyland Paris's Discoveryland featured. As you remember, the entire new Tomorrowland was painted in bronzes, golds, and dark browns, with occasional green highlights and you'll find these colors in Eric's paintings above and below. Please note that these two artworks are new high-res "perfect" scans, so don't hesitate to click on them to watch them in larger scale.

Edited 9/21: After seeing my scans, Eric notified me that his original Tomorrowland overview artwork - the one you can see below - has been extensively reworked by an unkown artist. Eric's original artwork - without these additions - was printed up as a fine art print some years ago and if you own one of these prints please let me know as i am looking for a picture of Eric's "true original" painting. Thanks!

Among other works related to Disney theme parks that Eric did, there is this beautiful painting of the Mark Twain Riverboat. Actually, this one was not an order from WDI, Eric did this painting for himself!

D&M Asian readers, specially Tokyo Disneyland fans should be highly interested by the next artwork as it shows a TDL project that never was. This "Fantasia" art-deco style building looks gorgeous don't you think?
Edited: I succeeded to had more details about this "Fantasia" project, and it was a project from Imagineer Eddie Sotto. This Fantasia store was anchored by a huge animated sorcerers apprentice fountain inside, a miniature golf course on the roof and a restaurant! Unfortunately the project was shot down at the last minute and the "Bon Voyage" shop was built instead.

Although you can see in the background - on the bottom left - the silhouette of the TDS Columbia ship my feeling is that it was envisioned for the TDL shopping and entertainment area outside the parks. May be this Fantasia building would have been built where the "Bon Voyage" shop is now, but unfortunately i don't have a lot of infos about it. If someone knows what TDL guests would have found inside - whether it would have been a super store or a restaurant, or even both - thanks to let us know!

All pictures: copyright Disney - Eric Heschong