Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Perfect Movie

I am a bit late on this one, mainly because i didn't watched it before my Hong Kong trip, but i saw tonight Joe Johnston's Captain America. And, boy, it's incredible how good this movie is. A perfect movie, really. You won't find in it even two minutes you wish it would have been deleted.

Not only the casting is perfect - whether it's the first roles or the secondary one - but they had the intelligence to choose for Captain America an actor who is not the typical "square jaws avenger". Chris Evans plays a Captain America who is indeed a patriotic super-hero but who is more intelligent first. Hugo Weaving is a perfect Red Skull and, again, each actor is perfect beginning by the great Tommy Lee Jones playing a U.S army colonel.

The other good idea is to have chosen Joe Johnston as director. Joe Johnston is the one who directed twenty years ago the famous Rocketeer movie and there is no doubt that the 1940's era is perfect for him. The 1940's historical reconstruction is fantastic - don't miss the scene during the 1940's World Expo at the beginning of the movie - and to say the least the whole production of the movie is brilliant, really.

Honor Hunter of Blue Sky Disney told you two weeks ago to "go see Captain America" and i totally agree with Honor. I'm not at all a fan of "war super-heroes" and i was not even a fan of Captain America but this movie is so good - just as good as a good Indiana Jones - that, frankly, don't miss it!

And if you stay until the very end you will even see - after the credits - the first trailer for "The Avengers" movie that will be released summer 2012, and in which Captain America will be one of the Avengers. For the Marvel fans: yes, Stan Lee also appears for a two seconds cameo as a military dignitary at a press conference!

Picture: copyright Paramount Studios

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hong Kong Disneyland Update - Part One

As i've told you, i was at Hong Kong Disneyland last week, and i have plenty of pictures for you showing the park at "present" time. But in this first update i will talk about HKDL future and thanks to a great video of michael20183 you will even see how the works are going on on the three awaited attractions.

But before i tell you the latest news, here are some pictures shot inside the "Magic Continues Preview Gallery". Note that it's pretty dark in there and not so easy to shoot good pictures without a tripod, but i did my best... The first picture above show the Opera House building in which are The Art of Animation and the Preview Gallery. Below, the model of the three new areas, which was shown previously at the former D23 Expo.

The two next pictures show renderings for the Grizzly Mountain coaster in Grizzly Gulch, but on the second picture, the last rendering on the bottom right was not shown at D23 (if i'm right).

Another picture showing interesting renderings for Grizzly Gulch.

One of the other new areas will be Mystic Point but the first to open will be Toy Story Land, and the next two pictures show the model of TSL and renderings. These are interesting as they show decor elements that were not in the first Toy Story Land which opened at the WDS last year. Which mean that, although the three main rides will be identical, not everything will be the same between the HKDL version and the WDS one.

In Fantasyland, near Adventureland entrance, HKDL guests can't miss this Toy Story Land announcement located where will be the future access to Toy Story Land.

So, "the toys are coming" for sure but when exactly will be Toy Story Land opening, you ask? Well, from what i've been told Toy Story Land is almost ready to open, the testing of rides are now in progress and hopefully TSL will be on schedule. Apparently HKDL wants to join Christmas event with the grand opening of Toy Story Land, making the "toys" the christmas gift to HKDL. A bit like what they did with the celebration of HKDL 5th anniversary and Chinese New Year events together early this year.

The "Sparkling Christmas" will kick off on November 17 and the official opening of TSL might be at that time although i won't be surprised if there was some soft openings before that date. Talking about Christmas, as the floats of Disney on Parade are retired a new not-full-length Christmas parade will be performed on Main Street this year.

Grizzly Gulch will be the next to open next year (with Mystic Point opening in 2013), and the news i have is that the opening date would be in the first half of 2012. More details about this soon.

Other news about HKDL with the upcoming Halloween season, always one of the best Halloween theming in a Disney Park. This year, in "Haunted Halloween", HKDL will have a new host, or we might call him "intruder": the dark knight Headless Horseman. A new haunted house featuring the Headless Horseman will replace Demon Jungle in Adventureland. The backstory of this new haunted maze is about an entrepreneur and his world-travelling circus who came to a village of Adventurers. To boost the attendance, the entrepreneur claims he found the head of the world famous Headless horseman, causing the revenge of the real dark knight. The story takes place in a circus, so guests will go through the backstage like dressing room, the stage and of course, the forest. This haunted maze will also pay tribute to Haunted Mansion's Madame Leota with projecting heads inside crystal balls. The Headless Horseman and his horse will also join the Pre-Parade of Glow in HKDL Halloween Parade this year. Finally, the Haunted Hotel and Space Mountain "Ghost Galaxy" will also stay in the new Halloween season. Haunted Halloween should begin September 15 but it may be postpone a week depending because of the works on the new haunted house. The last news i had seems to confirm that Haunted Halloween will begin on September 22.

And now, here is the promised video showing the works on the three new areas, filmed by michael20183 who is always doing a great job! Many thanks to him!

See you soon for a new HKDL pictorial update!

Pictures: copyright Disney and more

Video: copyright michael20183

Artwork: copyright Disney

Click HERE for direct access to the TDS Wallpapers HD iTunes page
or READ my article first HERE.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Editor's Note: It's all about Imagineering today. Below, the latest news about Shanghaî Disneyland, and don't miss a great WDI video on my Innoventions Blog showing how WDI Imagineers are using the latest technologies to build WDW New Fantasyland - and yes, they all use the Apple iPad!

More about Shanghaî Disneyland Fantasyland + Tom Staggs discloses SDL operation mode

There is more news about Shanghaî Disneyland! First, Shanghaî Daily posted this morning these two new renderings of the Shanghaî Disneyland castle which show the outside and the interior of the planned Shanghai Disney Resort's Storybook Castle. An ornate archway (rendering on the right) will provide a grand entrance to the castle and in the heart of "Enchanted Storybook Castle" will be a magnificent winding staircase (rendering on the left) that will lead guests on a "Once Upon a Time Adventure" featuring Disney princesses.

More interesting is that Shanghaî Daily also confirmed that SDL visitors "will be able to take a 10-minute ferry boat trip from the ground floor of the castle around other scenic spots in the resort". On this last info Shanghaî Daily is right and wrong at the same time. I can confirm that there will be a long slow flume ride (slow like Story Book Land is) but it will go all around Fantasyland and not all around the park. And, yes, this flume ride will go from SDL castle ground floor but before going out all over Fantasyland the boats will also move under the castle, which will be a premiere in a Disney theme park. Finally, i'm not sure that the word "ferry" used about the boats in the Shanghaî Daily article is the right one as i will be surprised if the boats going around Fantasyland look like "ferry boats", we'll know more about this in the future...

And what about the Fantasyland rides, you ask? Well, considering that the Dumbo and Carousel rides will be placed on the other side of the castle in the big garden area right in front of it what kind of Fantasyland dark rides can we expect? Apparently, only the Peter Pan's Flight and the Winnie the pooh rides will find place at Shanghaî Disneyland Fantasyland. So, no Snow White or Pinnochio dark rides BUT the Seven Dwarf Mine Coaster which will open at WDW new Fantasyland should be include in SDL Fantasyland (as long as they don't change their plans, of course).

There is no doubt that there will be more rides in SDL Fantasyland and very probably they will be based on Chinese legends, it will be the right place for that, but no details yet about these. Apparently you can also expect a big maze, may be themed on Alice in Wonderland but also no confirmation about the theme yet.

Little by little details about Shanghaî Disneyland emerged and we might know much more about it in a few days at the D23 Convention. For those of you planning to be there it will be interesting to have a close look at the Disney Parks "Carousel of Projects" section as i've heard that there should be a Shanghaî Disneyland area in it!

Edited: Last Minute SDL News! The China People's Daily online just released an article saying that "In an interview with the International Finance News yesterday, Tom Staggs, President of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, released information about the latest progress and specific details of the project.

Staggs said the project is in full swing since it broke ground four months ago. The land leveling is underway the blueprint-based design work is also coming to an end.

As for the details, Staggs revealed that some special design elements will be applied to Shanghai Disneyland. First, the landmark for this theme park is the world's largest, highest and most interactive castle. Second, the castle will be named "Fantastic Fairytale Castle," which is different from the other castles that are named after princesses.

The "Shanghai Mode" is also applied to other fields. With a unique management method, Walt Disneyland and the Chinese party will jointly participate in investment, construction and administrative management of the future amusement park Disneyland Shanghai and other facilities. These all create a precedent in Disney's overseas theme park project management. In this regard, Staggs made more detailed disclosures..

"Disney and Shendi Group established two joint companies: One runs the resort, in which Disney holds most of the shares. The other, as the operator of the resort project, owns and invests in the resort and the theme park, in which Shendi Group holds most of the shares," he said.

He said profits will be distributed to partners on both sides, which is also the precondition for the cooperation. Yet, the specific profit distribution proportion cannot be disclosed."

BUT, according to another China Daily article: "Disney and Shendi Group established two joint companies: "A source close to the deal disclosed that 70 percent of the shares of the management company in charge of the operation of the Disney theme park is controlled by Walt Disney and 30 percent held by Shendi. The properties of the park and its facilities will be controlled by Shendi holding 57 percent of the shares and Walt Disney holding 43 percent.

"To put it in a simple way, Shendi provides funding and land, while Walt Disney offers funding and intellectual property. The two sides share the profits according to the shares they hold," the source said.

All pictures: copyright Disney

Click HERE for direct access to the TDS Wallpapers HD iTunes page
or READ my article first HERE.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back from HKDL

Editor's Note: I was at Hong Kong and Macau last week and of course at Hong Kong Disneyland. The park looked great and I came back with lots of pictures that you will see very soon in my next updates. I was lucky with the weather which was fantastic, sunny with almost no clouds but as usual when it's sunny in this season it was hot! So, i came back pretty exhausted by the heat and as the Disney news will be low until D23 Convention D&M will be mostly in replay mode this week with interesting previous articles that you may have missed. Today's article, to celebrate the re-opening of WDW Tiki Room, is all about Disneyland's original Tiki Room version.

Also, Disneyland Paris, TDR and the WDC announced their latest financial results. In two words, Disneyland Paris is doing quite well and its revenues for the third quarter grew 6.7% over last year but no announcement of awaited new attractions was done, whether it will be the Ratatouille dark ride or Star Tours 2.

Behind the Scenes of The Enchanted Tiki Room

Undoubtedly the very first attraction with audio-animatronic at Disneyland, the Tiki Room have Enchanted millions of guests since its opening.

Today we'll have a look behind the scenes , but first of all some images. As we know the Tiki Room is located at the entrance of Adventureland.

The attraction poster is now famous.

The video embedded two years ago in which Walt Disney introduces you to the Tiki Room secrets is now available only on Youtube but you can watch it HERE.

Here is another b&w version of this famous picture of Walt inside the attraction.

And for those of you living outside the U.S or Japan who never had the luck to see it, here is a video of the whole show by ru42

Always with a Polynesian theming, the Tahitian terrace was close to the Tiki room during many years and even share another poster with the Tiki room and the Plaza pavillion.

Finally, let's not forget the two great replicas of the Tiki bird and the Tiki drummer designed by Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily for Disney, no longer available on the site but you can find them on ebay very probably.

Photos and First video : copyright Disney

Second video by ru42 : Filming copyright ru42