Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Harry Potter Phase 2 at Universal Orlando : How they might do it

Universal Studios Hollywood held a press conference yesterday to confirm that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is coming to Universal Studios Hollywood. Hogwarts Castle and the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride will be built but Universal didn't announced yet an opening date, just saying "“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be as impressive as what has been created in Orlando – and is expected to transform tourism in Los Angeles for decades to come. It will be a fully immersive environment for the entire family that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life and is faithful to the visual landscape of the films, including a majestic Hogwarts castle to serve as the centerpiece of the themed environment. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be created with the same commitment to authenticity and the same level of talent and resources as its Orlando counterpart”.

When Screamscape released the news last monday that Harry Potter Wizarding World phase two might be built at Universal Orlando instead than Islands of Adventure it was a shock for theme parks and Harry Potter fans as for the first time in theme park history a land might be divided between two theme parks. As you know Lance revealed that the Jaws area at Universal Orlando - which will be closed early January - could be transformed in Harry Potter Wizarding World phase two. And as you can see on the video above Universal also confirmed yesterday that "the Orlando Wizarding World would also be expanded, with details about that promised to come sometime in the future".

Lance said that "they did not confirm if the Phase 2 expansion was coming to replace Jaws but his sources keep saying that the Potter expansion will take the place of Jaws and Amity areas". So, if Lance sources are right this Potter phase two at Universal Studios Orlando will be the "London" part of Harry Potter stories and guests will board the famous Hogwarts Express which will transport them from Universal Studios ( London ) to Islands of Adventure ( Hogwarts ). The idea as i've written early this week might look half-genius half-insane but if this is confirmed - which i hope, personally - how could they do it? Let's have a look at that thanks to Google Earth.

On the Google Earth screen capture above - click on it to enlarge the picture - you will see that Harry Potter land in IOA and the Jaws area at Universal are not specially close. We can even say that the Jaws area is at the other end of Universal Studios. Also, you'll note that they don't have a lot of room available in IOA behind the Potter phase one, and this could explain the incredible idea of Universal. Below, another shot of Wizarding World from above coming from the excellent Theme Park Guy website.

Now, considering the distance between the two areas, how could they do it? On the next Google Earth screen capture below i've tried to imagine how they could resolve the problem. On the right you'll see the space that might become Potter phase two, formerly the Jaws and Amity areas. As you see its a pretty big space and, because guests are supposed to board the Hogwarts Express to go to Potter phase one at IOA they'll also need to create the train station which could be located in the back as i've put it on the picture. Why in the back? Because the train will need to go from there to IOA and in my opinion the best way is to go around the park through what is basically now parking lots, with a track which would be parallel to the avenues outside the parks. It will be also simple to create 3D projection tunnels like the one Universal created recently for King Kong 3D at Universal Hollywood. They could use the same technology to create amazing projection effects during the ride aboard the Hogwarts Express, and most of all they would have the space to do these tunnels along this road.

Now, they will also need an arrival train station at IOA and i think they have the space available to build it in the location i've put on the picture above. They still will have to create a link from the IOA station to the Potter phase one entrance, but that's the easy part.

However in my plan there is some element that might be a problem for a railroad track going the way i've put it. If you look at the picture you'll note that there is at least two backstage cars entrance and obviously they will need, in this case, to have the cars and trucks going under the railroad track. Anyway, they don't have a lot of choice as the others choices would mean to have the railroad track going through the Studios which would be more difficult.

One last thought: if you remember well the Potter movies, Harry Potter and all other young sorcerers embark the Hogwarts Express on the 9 3/4 platform which is a hidden one. And they access it by going through - literally - a column of the train station. Universal won't probably reproduce this effect for the guests but i thought "how will i do it if i have to?". I think that the best way to do it would be to recreate part of the station, including the train station columns, and on one of these columns - which are mostly square columns - to have three of the sides really built in "hard". And the side which would face the guests could be a projection on a mist screen giving the illusion that it is as hard as the other sides of the column. You need to have a lighting quite dark to hide the trick but it might long as there is no technical problems with the mist screen which would have to work fine all day long, and that's not easy. But if it works, you then could ask the guests - by group of one, two or more depending how many they are in each group - to run towards the column and "go through" to access this 9 3/4 platform!

Anyway, this amazing Universal idea has yet to be confirmed and may be they will simply put the Transformers ride where the Jaws attraction is now and the dream will be over!

Pictures: copyright Theme Park Guy, Google Earth

Twelve Years Old Boy Paralysed After Riding Tower of Terror at DLP WDS

Reliable french newspaper Libération revealed this morning that a twelve years old boy from Argentina who have ride Tower of Terror on November 23 is now in extremely bad condition at Paris Necker Hospital, the two legs and arms paralyzed.

He was with his mother and father - who is a doctor - at DLP Walt Disney Studios that Nov 23 when, after riding the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, he began to don't feel well after a few steps out of the elevator. His father sent him instantly to WDS infirmary and DLP doctor, after a few minutes, decided to call the SAMU (french urgency ambulance) to transport the child at Necker hospital in Paris.

When they arrived at Necker neurology department the doctors noticed that his arms are paralyzed. Since then, everything got worse as his legs also became paralyzed, he began to had difficulties to breathe, even did a respiratory stop, and since then was transferred in reanimation unit. Hopes that he recover seems to be extremely low. Radiological exams revealed "a bone and medullary contusion" and, according to Libération article, the doctors are almost sure that there is a link with the TOT ride.

Before this happened the young boy, named Bautista, was according to his family in very good health and in his country playing rugby, basket and even martial arts. DLP confirmed that the young boy came at the park infirmary and was sent to Necker Hospital. Although it's hard to understand how someone can become paralyzed after a ride at Tower of Terror, it seems that young children still growing up might be more fragile as their bones and nerves are not as strong as when you're an adult.

Update: According to a comment from a D&M reader from Argentina it seems that the young boy went to Crush Coaster after the TOT ride, and also went to the infirmary walking. It is also said that the boy might have had a previous and unnoticed bad condition that got worse with the ride(s). Which, i must say, could be possible, specially if this 12 years old boy is regularly playing rugby or martial arts... (end of update)

This is the third serious incident that happened at DLP this year - after the two BTM accidents - and this one obviously can't involve a maintenance problem. It is truly dramatic as a twelve years old child who was dreaming to go at Disneyland saw his dream becoming a nightmare and all my thoughts are with his family, hoping that he will finally recover and find back the use of his arms and legs.

Below, the full Libération article, in french, for my french readers, or anyone reading french.

Un enfant en réanimation : malaise à Eurodisney


«On ne nous a rien signalé», répète-t-on à la préfecture de Seine-et-Marne. Aux Hôpitaux de Paris : «Aucun commentaire». A Eurodisney, jusqu'à ce matin, c'était le même étonnement : «Non, on n'est au courant de rien.» Et presque menaçant : «Si la préfecture n'a eu aucune notification d'incident, vous devriez faire attention avant d'écrire quelque chose.»

Il a donc fallu qu'hier la mère du jeune Bautista Riera, 12 ans et argentin, parle à la presse de son pays pour qu'enfin la chape de plomb sur l'histoire de son garçon soit levée.

Allées et venues de l'ascenseur

Après une attraction à Eurodisney, le 23 novembre, cet enfant a bien été transféré à l'hôpital Necker, à Paris. Contusion médullaire très forte, a dit l'IRM. Depuis, il est en réanimation, paralysé des quatre membres, sous respirateur, avec des espoirs de rétablissement limité. «Les parcs d'attraction peuvent ne pas être anodins», lâche, très diplomatiquement, un médecin de Necker. Mais il refuse d'en dire plus.

C'était donc le 23 novembre. Bautista, qui vit avec sa mère et ses deux frères en Argentine, voyage à Paris avec son père, qui est médecin. Et la famille rêve d'aller à Eurodisney. Ce qu'ils font ce jour-là.

Selon la famille de Bautista, ils vont dans «la maison de la terreur», une attraction qui repose sur les allées et venues d'un ascenseur qui monte et freine très vite aux différents étages. En sortant de l'attraction, l'enfant est ravi, mais après quelques pas, il se sent mal. Le père le conduit aussitôt à l'infirmerie. Le médecin de garde, peu après, appelle le Samu pour le transporter à Necker.

Pronostic «très incertain»

Tout cela est confirmé par Eurodisney. «Après ? C'est une question de secret médical, nous n'avons pas à nous immisser», insiste Eurodisney. Certes, mais ce responsable de la communication ajoute : «Nous avons vérifié tout le déroulé des attractions ce jour-là. Il n'y a aucun incident.»

En tous cas, quand l'enfant arrive à Necker, en neurologie, les médecins notent une paralysie des membre supérieurs. Puis la situation clinique s'aggrave, la paralysie devient générale, l'enfant a du mal à respirer, fait même un arrêt respiratoire, il est transféré en réanimation.

Un examen radiologique a noté très clairement une contusion médullaire et osseuse. Et pour Necker, s'il n'y a pas de certitude, le lien avec l'attraction est l'hypothèse la plus claire. D'autant que l'enfant, aux dires de sa famille, était en pleine forme : «Bautista es un garçon très sain, en très bonne santé, il joue au rugby, au basket, et pratique même à un sport de combat», raconte son oncle.

Le pronostic ? «Très incertain», selon des spécialistes interrogés. Il semblerait qu'un léger mieux ait été perceptible, ce matin, toujours selon l'oncle de l'enfant, interrogé par la presse argentine.

Aux hôpitaux de Paris, on ne fait toujours aucun commentaire. A la préfecture, on se dit surpris de ne pas avoir été tenu au courant. «Mais les prévenir de quoi, explique ce responsable d'Eurodisney. Nous n'avons, depuis, aucune information.»

Text: copyright Libération

Picture: copyright Disneyland Paris

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

WDW New Fantasyland : Beauty and the Beast Statue seen in DHS Backlot : Mystery Resolved

Some days ago, WDWNewsToday posted a picture shot during the backlot tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The picture was showing what they called a "Massive Beauty and the Beast Statue" and they were wondering if it will go in the Beauty and the Beast area in Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland.

Well, I don't want to be disappointing but, as you can see on the picture above, this Beauty and the Beast statue is in fact coming from the same mold that was used to create the B&B statue that already exist at Hong Kong Disneyland Fantasyland Royal Banquet Hall Restaurant since 2005. It's exactly the same statue, and it's not "massive" as it is about three feet and a half high, approximately. And, yes, there is big chances that the statue will find its place in the Beauty and the Beast restaurant next year.

I've shot the picture last August and it's part of the 200 beautiful HKDL wallpapers pictures of the park that you can find in my HKDL Wallpapers HD application for iPhone - iPad that you can download on the iTunes AppStore HERE.

Picture: copyright Park Lane Editions

Universal Singapore : Transformers Ride Full On-Ride Video

It took a little while to have someone uploading on Youtube a full on-ride video of Universal Singapore Transformers ride - probably because USS cast members were asked to make sure that no one get out of the ride with a video of it - but here it is, the first full ride video of the most awaited ride of the year.

But, before, here is another video filmed for Screamscape by my good friend Stefan "The Theme Park Guy" Zwanzger which is a walk-through inside the Transformers pre-show. So, if you see this one first and then the on-ride video you'll get an idea of the whole thing.

As you'll see there is many pre-show movies and Dejiki has filmed some of them that you can see below.

And now here is the on-ride video. Two words about it: considering that the ride vehicle is moving the filming is not that bad - except that one scene is dark because one of the screens had a problem - but i remind you that all ride projections are in 3D, and that's why you won't have an image as sharp as it it was in 2D. Eventually if you have 3D glasses like the one they use in Honey I Schrunk the Audience you can try watching the video with them, but i can't guarantee you'll have the 3D effects. And no need to say that if you intend to go at Universal Singapore in a near future or simply want to keep the surprise it's better to don't watch this on-ride video!

If you want to read Stefan review and what he think of the ride please jump on Screamscape USS page HERE or on The Theme Park Guy site HERE.

Transformers had its official opening last saturday and on friday evening a opening event happened at Universal Singapore with Michael Bay.

If you're interested by watching a video of the ceremony, here it is.

There was also a press conference with Michael Bay talking about the Ride, as well as Universal's Creatives Thierry Coup on the right, and John Hallenbeck on the left.

Video: copyright Stefan Zwanzger / Screamscape, Patricklove, video2908 and themeparkinsider

Pictures: TRANSFORMERS and its logo and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro and are used with permission. © 2011 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved. © 2011 DreamWorks L.L.C. and Paramount Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Universal Studios Singapore ® & © Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Harry Potter Land Phase Two Build at Universal Orlando instead than IOA : Genius Idea or Pure Insanity ?

If Screamscape sources are right something between totally amazing and pure insanity seems to be about to happen at Universal Studios Orlando. Basically, they will build the phase two of the extremely successful Harry Potter Wizarding World at.....Universal Studios instead than Islands of Adventure where the land is now. It's a bit like if you create half of a land at Disneyland and the other half at DCA. But Universal idea is even more complicated than that as the Potter phase two which will be build at Universal will be the "London" part of Harry Potter stories and guests will board the famous Hogwarts Express which will transport them from Universal Studios ( London ) to Islands of Adventure ( Hogwarts ).

Of course this will mean that Harry Potter fans who will want to live the full Harry Potter experience will need to buy a two parks ticket! It may sound like a brilliant or cynical business idea from Universal - and it is both indeed - but for Walt Disney World this might be a truly diabolical idea. Right now, considering how popular Harry Potter is, more and more visitors coming to WDW are spending at least one day at Islands of Adventure. But if Potter land phase two is built at Universal Studios you can count on Universal to sell not only two parks tickets but also "two days two parks ticket" as it will be hard for the guests to see all of both parks in one day.

The goal obviously is to keep the guests at Universal Orlando for two days instead of one, which also mean one less day - in fact two less days at WDW! And Universal is working at full speed on the project for an opening scheduled in 2014, i.e one year or two before the opening of the Avatar land at Animal Kingdom! If what Screamscape reports is confirmed WDW execs are really going to get mad! But once again this could also be good news for WDW fans as Disney will obviously have no other choice to counter-attack again with more new rides at WDW...or never-seen-before ride technologies in the Avatar land.

Jump to the Screamscape report to read full details about all this and let us know in the comments what you think about this "genius or insane" idea!

Picture: copyright Universal Studios

HKDL Toy Story Land : The "Perfect" Shots

We're back at HKDL Toy Story Land today with a new series of official pictures recently released, and if i call them "the perfect shots" it's because some of them are not only beautiful pictures of the new land but also were shot on amazing angles that only HKDL can do, like having a camera at the top of R.C Racer half pipe coaster. Those shot with a wide angle lens are also pretty useful to locate where is what at TSL.

Pictures are listed below in order of appearance of each thing/ride when you enter the land. Don't hesitate to click on each to see them in larger size, and enjoy the tour!

Don't miss the new HKDL Wallpapers HD App for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch!
Direct iTunes link HERE!

Toy Story Land Pictures: copyright Disney - HKDL

Sunday, December 4, 2011

D&M Archives : Rare Marc Davis Pirates of Caribbean Artwork

What can be better than to discover rare artwork of Disneyland beloved attraction? Today, here is a collection of rare Marc Davis renderings created for Pirates of Caribbean. And, below, a picture of Marc at work in the 1960's.

You may know some of the renderings below, but a lot of them are pretty rare and the main reason why is because they show scenes ideas that were not used in the attraction. So, enjoy them and as usual double click to enlarge each picture!

This next rendering is probably from Colin Campbell...

...and this gray pencil sketch of the boat going up into the fortress was done by the great Herb Ryman.

All Artwork: copyright Disney Enterprises Inc