Saturday, November 13, 2010

Editor's Note: Have a look in the future! I've posted a new article on my Innoventions blog which will show you some new incredible displays developped by Samsung. Also, you and I might never go in outer space but an amazing video will show you that your IPhone can!

D&M Exclusive: The Michael Jackson's Peter Pan's Neverland Theme Park that never was

Unless you live on another planet, you probably know that last week was another "Michael Jackson week". The "This Is it" documentary and CD album were released and a major Michael Jackson exhibition opened last Tuesday in London. I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce to you one of Michael's most secret - and really fantastic - projects: the Peter Pan's Neverland theme park that never was.

Let's first go back in time to 1997, when Michael Jackson and Prince Al-Waleed - Disneyland Paris' biggest private stock-holder - created a company called Kingdom Entertainment and purchased 50% of Landmark Entertainment, giving the company a huge infusion of cash. Prince Al-Waleed had 45% and Michael had 5% of the shares. I remind you that Landmark is the famous company directed by Gary Goddard which created the Spider-Man ride at IOA and the Jurassic Park and Terminator 3D attractions at Universal Studios.

Above and video below: Michael Jackson and Prince Al Waleed during the 1996 press conference announcing the creation of Kingdom Entertainment Co.

So, what had to happen happened, Michael asked Landmark if they could design a theme park, a real one, not only for him but a park where anybody could go, just like Disneyland. And this theme park would have been named Peter Pan's Neverland! Here is a bird's eye view of the park - please double-click on the image below to see it in big size.

This first concept is amazing, isn't it? Fully inspired from Peter Pan's story, the park would have started with a grand London entrance, as you can see on the artwork below.

A replica of Kensington Gardens, where anyone can see the famous Peter Pan statue, as well as Big Ben and the House of Parliaments in the background, not to mention horse guards at the entrance, all of which would have set a stunning replica of the Victorian city.

Here is another artwork showing this entrance by Greg Pro.

From that point guests were supposed to go to Neverland Island, and Landmark designers had designed two different way to go there, both of which were attractions. The first one, which would definitely have been an E-Ticket attraction, was... to fly to Neverland! As you can see on the artwork below, the take-of was over London, with a fly over Big Ben and other famous London landmarks like the Tower Bridge (note that on the artwork Big Ben and the Tower Bridge are close together but two miles separate them in reality) and then, lead by Tinkerbell, they would fly all over Neverland, the Mermaid Lagoon and Skull Rock and finally land near the Lost Boys home and woods.

And how would Landmark have achieved this wonder, you ask? First, no, the ride was not designed like Soarin' over California - which, by the way, was not built at that time. Instead, guests would have sat on a platform which would have turned down on a 50 degrees angle, a bit less than on the "flying" coasters, and the movie would have been projected on a huge Omnimax dome located under the platform, giving to the guests the illusion of flying over London and Neverland! What a great ride it would have been!

The other way to reach Neverland would have been by boat. During this short boat ride the boat would have go through mysterious caves before arriving to Neverland Island with its lush vegetation and waterfalls.

Once at Neverland, guests would have had the choice of six different areas:

"Lost Boys area" would have been a fun play area for young kids with slides, jumping fountains, a tree house but also a great roller-coaster with tracks going all over the land.

In "Mermaid Lagoon" guests would have had the choice between a boat ride going through Neverland Island caves or to enjoy a meal at a beautiful restaurant located underground with a huge window looking towards the lagoon where a Mermaid show was envisioned. Close to Mermaid Lagoon, the "Indian Village" would have been another area of Neverland where a raft ride was envisioned.

On the other side of the huge Neverland rock, guests would have find "Pixie Kingdom", a great area for young children with giant mushrooms playground and re-themed carnival rides.

Another major area - not so far from Pixie Kingdom - would have been the Pirates village with Skull Rock nearby as well as Captain Hook's ship.

It's there where guests could have watch a great live action show, including a flying Peter Pan fighting his eternal ennemy, Captain Hook. And of course the Crocodile was part of the show.

You may also have noticed that in this first concept three hotels were envisioned: a London hotel, a "Pirate's Cove" hotel and a "Lost Boys Tree top" Hotel. As we will see now, the project had significant changes in its final version.

This next document below is another map of the Peter Pan's Neverland park, actually it's the conceptual master plan. Drawn May 24, 1999 at a scale of 1" = 60' it shows a more advanced project with new attractions and also backstage facilities. Let's have a look again at the whole park to see the differences with the first concept.

First, the three hotels are gone, instead we have one big hotel facing the lake of the London Town area. Located near the entrance, a bit like the Disneyland Paris Hotel it would have allowed the hotel guests to have a unique view on the Neverland park.

In the London Town area, always located at the entrance, Big Ben is still there, but a replica of London's famous Tower Bridge was added. Also, a bigger Kensington Gardens at the entrance and a music hall dinner show in one of the main building on the right.
Inside the House of Parliament replica, a new show: "Salute to J.M Barrie", the creator of Peter Pan. Right on the other side of the Tower Bridge an indoor coaster as well as a 3D simulator theater were also envisioned.

In Pirate's Cove a Pirates Dinner show, another indoor roller coaster and a Pirates stunt show in front of Skull Rock were added. Also envisioned, a lagoon show, probably in the evening.

In Pixie Kingdom, the main difference with the first concept is a big building for a Pixie World dark ride. On the top of the picture below, what seems to be a inverted roller coaster would have had its entrance in a new land "Future Zone".

Lost Boys area always have its roller coaster running all over the land and even inside Neverland mountain, and as you can see below, Future Zone was located at the top with not only the inverted roller coaster but also a smaller coaster and a simulator ride.

In Mermaid's Lagoon, an underwater simulator was added to the first concept and a new area - Kid's Creek - was designed for young children with playground and water fun including small boats.

Peter Pan's Neverland was not designed to be as big as Disneyland, but it certainly would have been a great theme park where all the "Peter Pans" living on this planet would have rush!

So what happened? Why this Peter Pan's Neverland theme park was never built? Well, some years later, Michael Jackson and Prince Al-Waleed ended their association, and considering the cost of a concept like this one, it was very unfortunately the end of the Peter Pan's Neverland project. Although Michael lived in his Neverland Ranch, he never got to walk in this "real" Neverland. However, years later, Landmark designed for Michael a great statue showing Michael as Peter Pan!

Does this mean that we will never see this great park concept become real one day? Who knows, with all the different Michael Jackson celebrations that will happen in years to come - not to mention that Neverland Ranch could become for Michael Jackson's fans what Graceland is to Presley's fans - maybe somebody who has enough money will find, just like we do, that it would be great to build this Peter Pan's Neverland for real? And, hey, there is plenty of land available inside Neverland Ranch. Who could imagine a better place to build Michael's dearest dream?

Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this article on D&M english forum on Mice Chat

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Winnie the Pooh Movie - First Trailer

Disney released the first trailer for the new Winnie the Pooh movie which will be released in July 2011. I'm among the one who LOVED the first Winnie the Pooh movie. I remember being amazed by the "childhood purity" - and of course the beautiful animation - of the first movie and from what i can see in this new trailer the new Winnie the Pooh movie should succeed to keep this charming childhood spirit.

Directed by Stephen Anderson and Don Hall and under the close supervision of John Lasseter who just like me loved the original movie this new "Winnie the pooh" inspired by five stories from A.A. Milne’s books is realised in Disney's classic hand-drawn 2D animation, just like in the good old days. All Winnie's friends Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Kanga, Roo and Eeyore, who has lost his tail, are back and of course in their original design. Okay, it's time to have a look at this first trailer, isn't it?

Pictures and videos: copyrght Disney

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Disney MGM Studios celebration - Part Four - The Dick Tracy Crime Stoppers attraction that never was - Original Artwork

Hello, as promised, here is the part four of this Disney MGM Studios article series, and this time it will be about an attraction that never was - or almost was: Dick Tracy Crime Stoppers.

Remember this Warren Beatty movie adaptation of the famous Dick Tracy comic strip in 1990 ? The stylised movie where Al Pacino and all vilains had masks to have their faces looking like in the comic strip.

Yes, the one with Madonna playing in it - she was dating with Warren at that time!

Well, everybody at the WDC was so much convinced it will be a big hit that Walt Disney Imagineering designed a fantastic Dick Tracy attraction, a whole park area in fact.
An attraction where "Dick Tracy will recruit guests to shoot it out with gangsters bad guys"...

The 1990's press release was saying that " Guests will literally get "into the act" in this new high-tech action-adventure featuring the very latest in Audio-Animatronics, simulation, sound and special effects." And also: "Guests will join America's favorite comic-strip detective in a high-speed chase with his gangster adversaries." And in what kind of decor this high-speed chase would have take place? Well, this kind of decor - a really great great one.

Just below, two close shots of this artwork to have a better view how detailed it was.

As for the high-speed chase itself, this rendering below will give you a perfect feeling of it.

Here also, two close shots of the artwork.

It looked great, doesn't it? And not only the Dick Tracy Crime Stoppers attraction was envisioned for the Disney MGM Studios, but also for Disneyland, Anaheim for a whole new land: "Hollywoodland". And if you ask any imagineer who worked at WDI at that time and who had the luck to see the model, they will all tell you how great the attraction would have been.

Yes, but...the problem was that the box office of the movie didn't reached the WDC expectations, and, well, you know what kind of things happen when a "eagerly anticipated summer hit" finally is not that successful, don't you? That's right, all the plans were cancelled, and we're all still waiting for this Dick Tracy attraction...although...when i looked again to that cinemascope rendering of the decor, the right part of it reminds me something that i saw in the best themed park on earth: the streets under the elevated tramway at the American Waterfront of Tokyo Disney Sea.

Hmmmm, i'm wondering if something from Dick Tracy Crime Stoppers finally survived? Your thoughts?

Artwork: copyright Disney Enterprises Inc.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Editor's Note: I'm back with my regular Ad about my Disneyland Paris book but this time i have a special message for those of you who wish to order it for a Christmas gift. Make sure to read it, you'll find it after the Disney MGM Studios articles below.
Also, don't miss Disneyland and DCA latest news in Al Lutz new update on Mice age HERE.

A Disney MGM Studios celebration - Part Three - The Great Movie Ride original artwork and behind the scenes pictures

Hello, here is part three of this Disney MGM Studios series, and, as promised, the article is about the Great Movie ride with original artwork and great behind the scenes photos of imagineers at work.

Above is the artwork for something that was probably a mural painting, and below a rendering of the Chinese Theatre area.

Another one of the Hollywood Boulevard with the Chinese Theatre in the background.

Here is a rare rendering for the Singing in the rain scene.

And of course, this one is for the John Wayne scene.

Below is the artwork for the gangsters scene. Imagineer Pat Burke remember: I was with another Imagineer named Malcolm when we were looking for the Gangster shoot out cars and found them. Malcolm needed some vintage gangster cars for the shootout scene. I took him to our big 12 mile walking Pomona auto meet. There we found a restored Chevy which the owner was so proud of with its new paint and mow hair interior like original. When he found out it would be in a Disney show in Florida he was so excited. He said he would bring his family down to see and visit it in its new home. He didn't know we would have to shoot it with many bullet holes for the scene. We trailered it out to the Highway Patrol to register it and mentioned the needed bullet holes. They said if we moved it out back to their firing range they would shoot it up with an old Tommy gun they had. We did so, and they shot it up as promised. I don't know if the previous owner ever went to WDW to see it?

And this is the rendering for the final Wizard of Oz scene.

Before we have a look to some behind the scenes pictures, here is a great story told to me by a friend imagineer about the "Casablanca" scene of the ride, and more specifically about the real plane one can see in the decor:
"The Casablanca scene has the real Casablanca Lockheed Electra plane used in the movie - and the tail section is in the WDW Jungle Cruise. The plane was located by Malcolm Cobb of WDI/ California, in Texas. Malcolm got the Lockheed registry of all the planes and their history and present owners and set out looking. On this Texas plane, no one had any idea it was the real plane until they ran its serial numbers and found it had been registered to the movie studio that made the film at that time. This was done after the purchase was completed. When Malcolm found it, it had been sitting for some time and not running. Another owner nearby owned three of these planes and wanted much more money for his as they were flyable. Malcolm didnt need one that flew and bought the cheapest one, being the real on. When the man who owned the three planes found out what he had missed, he was pretty upset at himself, as it had been right next to his backyard."

The first behind the scenes picture below shows an imagineer at work on the Busby Berkeley opening scene.

When we think about an Indiana Jones attraction, we generally think about Indiana Jones Adventure, or the Epic stunt spectacular, or the Temple du péril but we often forget that there is a great Indy scene in the Great Movie ride! Here, one imagineer is at work on one of the giant Anubis statues.

Other imagineers at work in the same room.

Final touch to the Ark of the Covenant scene.

Inside WDI workhouse, an imagineer measuring the beautiful Ark of the Covenant replica.

Putting in place the Egyptian mummies...

Final touch on the same mummies...

Almost cheek to cheek between a beautiful imagineer and a quite well done mummy...

No, it's not Tarzan and Jane, but two imagineers at work on the vegetation of the Tarzan scene.

And for those of you living outside the U.S who never had the luck to ride the Great Movie Ride, here is the video of the full ride, in two parts.

All artwork and photos: copyright Disney Enterprises Inc.

Youtube video: copyright

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Disney MGM Studios celebration - Part Two - Sunset Boulevard and Tower of Terror original artwork

Hello, here is the part two of this Disney MGM Studios series and we will have a look today on the original artwork for the Sunset Boulevard and Tower of Terror. Part ONE of this article is HERE if you've missed it.

Let's begin first by a series of renderings for the Sunset Blvd facades, and note that the one above on the top show a building that was never built.

And, yes, the next one is the Carthay Circle Theater, which was replicated at Disney-Mgm and who will be, too, one of the icon of the new DCA placemaking, hosting the "Walt Disney story".

Here is another one, showing the Tower of terror in the background, and the Carthay Circle Theater on the right.

This next one is a beautiful night view, and the Carthay Circle Theater is now on the left!

And this rendering seems to indicate that a "Disney film festival" was envisioned by the imagineers in the Carthay Circle Theater. Just like on the rendering above, note the red tramway on the right. Never built, we will finally get it in the new DCA placemaking.

On this next rendering, have a close look the "orange grove" area on the top left, finally never done.

Let's have a look now to the Tower of terror renderings, beginning by these two early concepts. As you can see , the building had a totally different look.

Here is another TOT concept art, pretty rare, too.

The next renderings are others concept, closer to the final version, and a picture of the model.

This one is really interesting as it shows how the ride was previously envisioned, and as you can see, the Twilight Zone room was supposed to be in the basement and not at the top.

Let's end with a picture of the model that we all know, but always beautiful.

All artwork and photos: copyright Disney Enterprises Inc.