Friday, January 21, 2011

An inside look at DCA's Little Mermaid attraction

Disney Parks released yesterday a very interesting video showing WDI Imagineers at work on the highly awaited Little Mermaid attraction opening in four months at Disney's California Adventure. As usual the editing is quite fast as they want to show Disney fans more about the ride but not too much! So, we're going to "stop the time" a little bit and have a closer look at all this in detail with these screen captures - click on each to see them in bigger size.

Imagineer Lisa Girolami takes us behind the curtain (or under the waves) to give us a first look at Ariel's world. It begins at WDI with Imagineers at the drawing board.

The video also disclose never seen before WDI artwork of different scenes of the ride like this one which might show a scene at the very beginning...

...or this one, in fact a closer shot of the "Under the Sea" sequence artwork...

...or this other one, very interesting, as it shows how the guests will have the feeling to be "under the sea" for real, thanks to WDI "dry for wet" special effects.

The video provides also a new shot of the ride's model... well as rare shots of Imagineers at work on the ride's characters...

...and even the first shot of one of the Audio-Animatronics being programmed by WDI programmers.

But of course what we are all waiting for is pictures of the inside decor of the ride that Imagineers have almost finished to build. On this first picture showing a sunken galleon you can clearly see the track for the ride vehicle. But what Lisa Girolami is not telling you in the video is that this scene (if my memory is right) will be the ride's opening, i.e that the ride vehicle will enter and go through this galleon before going down under the sea - if i'm wrong, at least it will be the case for sure in the WDW version.

Always from the video this other scene decor showing, too, the ride track - currently WDI Imagineers are working on it.

These next shots are showing the huge decor for the "Under the Sea" sequence as well as some of the characters, already in place.

As you can see all of this looks pretty exciting and my only hope is that, after DCA and WDW, the Little Mermaid attraction will come soon at DLP. In the meantime as i'm sure you're dying to see the whole video, here it is below.

Pictures and video: copyright Disney

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Steve Jobs expected to stay On Disney Board despite his medical leave from Apple

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has announced a new period of medical leave from Apple. Steve will stay Apple CEO and the big Apple fan that i am of course wish him a fast recovery. I don't have to remind you, Disney fans, that Steve Jobs is also Disney's biggest private share holder and a member of the board. There is little doubt that Steve Jobs have some influence on Disney's strategy and anything happening to Steve might have an effect on Disney - that's why you find this news here, coming from

"Steve Jobs is expected to remain on the board of the Walt Disney Co. (DIS) despite the health issues that prompted him to take a medical leave as chief executive of Apple Inc. (AAPL), according to a person familiar with the matter.

Jobs, who is also retaining his board seat at Apple, became by far the largest shareholder in Disney when the media giant acquired Pixar Animation Studios in 2006. As a result of that deal, he owns about 7% of Disney and is a director at the company.

Jobs's role at one of the world's largest media and entertainment conglomerates has prompted speculation and intrigue as the rise of digital communications has provided an opening for Apple and other tech heavyweights to infiltrate businesses like music and television, challenging traditional media titans like Disney.

Some have attributed Disney's early willingness to embrace certain digital distribution platforms to the influence of Jobs.

Jobs's latest departure from Apple due to health issues marks the third time in the past decade he has been forced to step back from his role at Apple. He took a leave in 2004 when he had surgery to remove a tumor in his pancreas and then again in the first half of 2009 for the liver transplant."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Editor's Note: Lot of big news today! Don't miss the WDW new Fantasyland artwork below but also the major Shanghai Disneyland news right after it revealing that not one but THREE theme parks are envisioned for Shanghai Disneyland!

Final concept of WDW New Fantasyland revealed with new Artwork !

WDW revealed today that the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history is underway, a project that will nearly double the size of Fantasyland and deliver a new home for Ariel, new ways to interact with favorite Disney princesses, an exciting new family coaster, a double dose of Dumbo and more. Honestly, the new concept looks better than the first one announced at D23 with more fun rides and is certainly the counter attack of Disney to the huge success of Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. New WDI artworks were also released and you will find all of them below!

Scheduled to open in phases beginning in late 2012, the new Fantasyland will immerse guests in Disney stories as never before.  Among the highlights planned:

Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, a major, all-new attraction during which guests will travel with Ariel and her friends through their exciting adventures above and below the waves – all against a musical backdrop of songs from the classic film.

The castle of the Beast, standing majestically upon a hill just across an old stone bridge from Ariel’s new home. The Be Our Guest Restaurant will feature a lavish dining experience in the elegant ballroom, gallery, and mysterious “West Wing” of the castle.  With seating for 550, this magnificent facility will offer “great food fast” service by day and full table service dining in the evening. Nearby in Belle's Village, guests will find the rousing Gaston’s Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts.

Just outside the village is Belle’s cottage and Enchanted Tales with Belle. The adventure begins in Maurice’s workshop, where a magical mirror is the doorway to a captivating new kind of storytelling experience: Guests are transported to the Beast’s library to meet Belle and Lumiere, and share in a lively, interactive, re-telling of the “tale as old as time.”

But that’s just the beginning of what guests will discover when the multi-phase project is completed.  Here’s more of what’s in store:
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will take guests on a rollicking, musical ride into the mine “where a million diamonds shine.”  The coaster will feature a first-of-its kind ride system with a train of ride vehicles that swing back and forth, responding to every twist and turn of the track.  The journey will be accompanied by music from the classic Disney film and animated figures of Snow White and the Dwarfs.

Here is a detail of the big Fantasyland artwork at the top of this article (which i will put online in high-res early next week) showing the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride - and the Little Mermaid attraction in the background. It's interesting to note that the train goes in and out of the "mine" several times with big parts of the ride outside. In fact it reminds me the Grizzly Trail coaster currently build at HKDL (which have also a "mine" story) and i won't be surprised if WDI did a "Snow White" adaptation of the HKDL concept.....which is itself an adaptation of the Expedition Everest track, more or less. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride could very well be a solid "D" ticket attraction.

In Princess Fairytale Hall, Aurora, Cinderella and other Disney princesses, such as Tiana and Rapunzel, will greet guests in their new home, an elegant royal court on the site where Snow White’s Scary Adventures stands today.

The sound of the calliope will lead guests to the brand new Storybook Circus and not one but two circling carousels of airborne pachyderms on Dumbo the Flying Elephant.  

Before taking to the skies on this Fantasyland favorite, guests can experience an array of fun-filled family games and interactive wonders for kids of all ages inside the Big Top.

Next door in Storybook Circus, the classic Barnstormer gets a bright new look as well, featuring Goofy as The Great Goofini.  It’s a twisting, turning roller coaster “flight” high above the circus fun.

All of this looks not bad at all, isn't it? I like particularly the new Dwarfs Mine Coaster, they can do something really good on that concept...we'll see!

Artwork and press release: copyright Disney

Breaking News : Shanghai city officials disclosed that Shanghai Disneyland will include three theme parks

Major news about Shanghai Disneyland today, and apparently coming "from the horse's mouth" i.e Shanghai officials who revealed that three theme parks are envisioned for Shanghai Disneyland. In the future, of course, not all three opening in 2015. The two others are supposed to be an Epcot and an Animal Kingdom! An Epcot in Shanghai? Considering how chineses love new technologies that may happen...and Shanghai temperatures may also allow to build an Animal Kingdom park... Also, SDL will also have a special Metro line! More about all this in the Shanghai Daily article below:

"It's all aboard the Disneyland express, after the city announced that a special Metro line will take visitors to the theme park when it opens in 2015.

The route of the 9.2-kilometer line was published online by Shanghai's environmental authorities yesterday to solicit public opinion on environment issues. Work on the dedicated Metro line, which is expected to cost 3.992 billion yuan (US$606.3 million), is set to begin in September. Trains will start running in July 2015.

The line will connect to Metro Line 11 at Luoshan Road Station, providing passengers from downtown Xujiahui area and suburban Jiading District with subway access to the much-anticipated park in Pudong. Its final stop - Disneyland station itself - will connect with the Metro Line 2 via shuttle bus lines.

The Disneyland metro line has three new stations: the elevated Kangqiao Road E. station, Hengxin Road station, and Disneyland station, which will be underground. The route will pass Zhoukang area before reaching Chuansha town.

Meanwhile, city officials disclosed that Shanghai Disneyland, the first Disneyland on China's mainland, will include three theme parks.

Details had been made public of one of the parks, "Magic Kingdom." The possible choices for the other two theme parks are "Epcot" and "Animal Kingdom," delegates at Shanghai People's Congress were told yesterday.

Dai Haibo, deputy director of Pudong New Area government and a congress deputy, said he was deeply impressed by the Orlando Disneyland which includes four theme parks, including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios. He promised that Shanghai Disneyland will provide entertainment for both adults and children.

Large-scale construction on phase 1 of the project is expected to get under way in May. There is no start date for the other parts."

But that's not all about SDL as some people are beginning to complain that Shanghai City should get bigger Disney cash share:

"To make Shanghai Disneyland profitable for the city, local government must ensure that Walt Disney Co gives it a bigger share of the income, a member of the city's top political advisory body proposed yesterday.

"Shanghai should try to negotiate with the Walt Disney Co to earn more sources of income from the project rather than just ticket sales," said Tu Haiming, a member of the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

"It's the biggest lesson Shanghai should learn from Hong Kong, which hardly makes any profit from the Disneyland project, so far."

According to Tu, the Hong Kong government only takes home part of the proceeds from ticket sales.

Other more profitable sources of income, such as sales of Disney products, accommodation in its hotels, TV channels and English teaching projects, all belong to the Walt Disney Co.

Although the Hong Kong government paid more than 90 percent of total investment, it has gained little from the project, said Tu."

Pixar release new pictures of Cars 2

Pixar Animation just released two new pictures of the awaited Cars 2, and the first one shows Mater, Lighting Mc Queen and secret agent Finn Mc Missile in Tokyo.

The other one shows Mater and Finn Mc Missile with spy-in-training Holley Shiftwell, apparently inside a plane. I wouldn't be surprised if the espionage part of the story was not only fun but also hilarious. Can't wait for the movie release!

Pictures: copyright Disney - Pixar

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Guy Williams Tribute : When LIFE Magazine meets ZORRO at Disneyland in 1958

Guy Williams was born January 14, 1924 and here is a tribute to the best "Zorro" of all time thanks to this 1958 LIFE Magazine special report by LIFE photographer Allan Grant at Disneyland, Anaheim. Let's have a look at these rare pictures and remember how great Guy Williams was!

Here he is arriving in Frontierland for the Zorro show.

Guy Williams as Zorro leaping from a roof during the show. This remembers me that we had a Zorro show at Disneyland Paris at the opening of the park, unfortunately canceled since then.

We must remember how good swashbuckler Guy Williams was. I think the other guy is the actor who played the Monasterio character in the first season, isn't it?

After the show, Guy Williams signed autographs for his (young) fans at Disneyland.

Now, LIFE photographers shoot Guy Williams also on the ZORRO TV series set! Here are some pictures, beginning by the one at the top of this article. Below, Guy Williams on the set of the TV series, on a white horse - not "Tornado" who had a black colour, if i remember well...

Actor Guy Williams practicing swordplay on the set for his role as Zorro.

Guy Williams acting in the TV show, against Sgt Garcia and another soldier.

Always on the set, with a lovely waitress.

This last picture doesn't show Williams and was not shoot at Disneyland, but it's a very rare picture of Zorro's creator, author Johston McCulley, helping neighborhood fans to imitate their hero!

All pictures: copyright LIFE Magazine