Friday, April 27, 2012

WDW Announces New Fantasyland Opening Dates, Updated Test Track Details, and more

Walt Disney World Imagineers unveiled in a presentation the opening dates of Magic Kingdom New Fantasyland as well as new artwork and details about the updated Test Track attraction. Let's start with New Fantasyland. The second part of Storybook Circus which will include the second half of the Dumbo attraction and Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station is scheduled to open in July 2012. And Journey of The Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Be Our Guest Restaurant, Gaston’s Tavern, and Ariel’s Grotto apparently will be open "to celebrate this holiday season", i.e around Christmas 2012. And what about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, you ask? Well, for this one you'll have to wait until 2014.

Also part of the same presentation, new digital concept-arts for the updated Test Track at Epcot which will have Chevrolet as sponsor of the ride. And if the new futuristic theming that you can see on the artwork below reminds you TRON, it's may be because the updated ride will place guests inside the computer world of digital design.

Also new, an interactive queue with touch screens and displays which, according to insidethemagic who was at the presentation "will allow guests to design their own vehicles based on 4 properties: capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power. These selections will be saved onto a card that guests will be handed, carrying with them onto the ride itself. Ultimately guests will be scored on how well their design holds up to the test track inside".

The ride itself will be the same "but all of the show scenes are being completely overhauled to represent the digital computer space in which guests will ride through. The ride will still feature a “warehouse” feel rather than individually-confined show scenes."

I have to tell you that i never liked a lot Test Track. May be i am from the old school who like animatronics and theatrical rides but when i ride it the first time i was instantly nostalgic of World of Motion. I admired the technology used in Test Track but all these vehicles tests never thrilled me a lot... BUT, if they plan to change the theming and if this one have a non-official TRON inspiration then you can count me in! Now i'm really curious to see how will look this new Test Track! Are you?

Pictures: copyright Disney

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Shanghai Disneyland Update : New Artwork, Latest News, and more

Here is a new Shanghaî Disneyland update and those who are desperately waiting for new SDL artwork are going to be happy today as i've found new SDL artwork for you! This artwork was shown in a special tribute to Bob Iger organized by the National Committee of U.S - China relations and the video was posted on Youtube last October. Although these images are six months old - it means that it happened after the D23 Expo where Disney didn't show a lot about the SDL project - my guess is that the artwork shown in the video presented to the committee is the good one - i mean that Shanghaî Disneyland will probably look like this.

I did my best to enhance the screen captures, but the images are still not perfectly sharp due to the low definition in the original video. That said, on the first artwork above, a new bird-eye view of the park, we can see a bit more clearly and you'll notice instantly the Skull Rock on the right, in Adventureland. It seems - but not 100% sure - that a boat is falling from it, which in this case would confirm that the Pirates of Caribbean version envisioned for HKDL by Imagineers Tim Delaney and Tom Morris would be built at SDL. On the left, the huge futuristic building in Tomorrowland is supposed to be the one for the TRON motor-bike coaster attraction that we've talked about previously, and even if Fantasyland located behind SDL castle is not sharp enough to see clearly what-is-what you'll note on the right of the castle the expected maze.

One of the most interesting thing is SDL entrance which will have a spectacular architecture and apparently the part between the entrance and SDL "central plaza" will be totally indoor. By the way, the big dome on the top of it reminds me the one on the top of Paris Grand Palais where you have also a very famous stained glass dome. it seems there is some reminiscences of art nouveau style, too, but again, it's hard to be sure because of the medium-res of the rendering.

That said, when SDL guests will exit they will arrive on SDL "central plaza" as i've said (even if it might be called differently) and in front of the castle. On this next rendering we can see on the left and the right of the indoor building exit different kind of building architectures, perhaps paying tribute to different countries architectures from all over the world - it looks like. In the garden we find back the expected Dumbo ride, Carousels and small chinese pavilions, but you'll note also that the water parts should probably allow SDL to have a fountain show in the future if they wish - at least they have more water in front of the castle than we have at DLP!

Strangely the artwork below related to the WDS Ratatouille attraction was also shown in the video. Would it mean that the Ratatouille ride will come at SDL - or may be only a "Gusteau" restaurant? We'll have to wait to know the answer!

Today was also the day for fresh - and good - news from Shanghaî Disneyland as works on the SDL site are apparently "speeding ahead". A SDL press conference apparently just happened and you'll have more details below coming from as well as a video. Also, Bob Weis, SDL Main show producer revealed on his site that Bob Iger was in China very recently - apparently in the last days - to meet chinese officials. You can see Iger on a video HERE discussing with a chinese official whom i don't know the name, but apparently an important one if i can judge by the attitude of Iger towards the official , and the reception room was pure classic chinese nomenklatura decor! As i don't understand chinese i can't tell you what they were talking about (but if one of my reader do please let us know) or why Iger was there but obviously it seems that it was for something important.

O-Kay, here are the latest news about SDL from the press conference:

"Builders will soon start constructing the infrastructure of the much-anticipated Shanghai Disney Resort, after preparations on the ground formation work were completed, attendees of a ceremony held at the site on Thursday were told.

Bill Ernest, president and managing director of Disney Parks and Resort Asia, praised the ground work by the project's Chinese partner -- Shanghai Shendi Group -- and the support from the Shanghai municipal government, at the build site hand-over event.

"We are incredibly excited to begin building the resort and to develop a world-class family vacation destination in Shanghai," he said.

Ernest promised construction of hotels will start later this year, with developers studying Chinese culture in order to add local elements to Disney's latest attraction.

"We are talking a lot about 'authentic Disney, unique Chinese.' We are really working hard to incorporate it in the overall design story," he said.

The Disney chief disclosed that Shanghai Disneyland is likely to celebrate local events like Mid-Autumn Festival. Visitors will also see food, snacks and souvenirs with local elements in the park.

Intended to open at the end of 2015, the resort will initially be comprised of Shanghai Disneyland, a Magic-Kingdom-style park as well as two themed hotels, a large retail, dining and entertainment venue, recreational facilities, a lake and parking and transportation hubs.

Covering an area of 1.16 square km, the theme park inside the 3.9-sq-km Shanghai Disney Resort will be the world's sixth Disney amusement park and the first on the Chinese mainland. It will also be the third of its kind in Asia, after the company's theme parks in Tokyo and Hong Kong.

During preparation work over the past year, the Shendi Group adopted cutting-edge vacuum preloading technology to level and consolidate the ground formation to prevent from it subsiding in the coastal site.

Howard Brown, senior vice president overseeing development of the Shanghai Disney Resort, said the soil formation project is the largest ever undertaken anywhere.

Builders are now working on road network construction, as well as the site's central lake and perimeter canal.

The ground-breaking of the Shanghai Disney Resort project started on April 8 last year. Robert Iger, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, has promised the park's signature castle will be the biggest and tallest of all those in the world's Disney theme parks.

The resort is a joint venture between the Walt Disney Co. and Shanghai Shendi Group, with Shendi holding 57 percent of the shares and Disney the remaining 43 percent."

And, as there is nothing better than the real thing, here is the video of this SDL press conference, part in english, part in chinese. If the video don't appear below please go on the new Theme Park Guy board HERE.

Picture: copyright Disney

SDL News Text: copyright

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Star Wars land Coming to Disneyland Paris Discoveryland in 2015 ?

Since two months DLP fans forums are talking about something pretty exciting: a "Star Wars land" is supposed to come to DLP Discoveryland in 2015! Disney Central Plaza forum detailed what we might expect in this Star Wars land and so far it is listed on DCP as a "rumor". Of course, i tried to know what is true in all this and, yes, from what i've been told it seems that DLP Imagineering is indeed working on a Star Wars Land project for Discoveryland. I will explain you in details why this Star Wars land is very probably going to be build, but before let's have a look to what is supposed to be planned.

The plan is not only to bring Star Tours 2 at DLP Discoveryland but also to transform what is now the Captain EO theatre, the Star Traders shop as well as the Pizza Planet restaurant to create a "Star Wars land" and as you will see on the Google Earth screen capture below they not only have plenty of room backstage to do it but probably will even have enough room in the future to add new rides if necessary. The back of Discoveryland already don't have the same architecture than the front, so this Star Wars land shouldn't be a problem, esthetically speaking.

What you must NOT expect: I found back a Tim Delaney rendering - which is reproduced in my DLP book among 250 others WDI artwork and that you can find HERE - and in this artwork Tim had envisioned, a long time ago, a kind of Star Wars land with a full scale Millennium Falcon and a Space Mountain dome designed as the Death Star. This will certainly not happen, so don't even think about it as Space Mountain will definitely keep his beautiful dome as it is right now.

What you CAN expect: Of course, Star Tours 2 will replace the original version and the pre-show will have the same changes than in the U.S versions, but according to the DCP forum - and for a big part confirmed to me - the plans apparently are to do big changes in the Star Tours post-show, which will be welcome as since IBM is not anymore the attraction sponsor the great games which were there on DLP opening day have been replaced by arcade games. I don't know yet exactly the DLPI plans but a Star Tours shop will very probably take place in this quite large area, hopefully with great theming. Close to the exit the Star Traders shop might become a Star Wars photo location and what kid wouldn't be happy to have his picture with his favorite Jedi?

Young kids will also probably be happy with the plans for what is now the Captain EO theatre as apparently DLP is planning to replace it with the Star Wars Jedi Academy like the popular one at Disney Hollywood Studios. Sure, if you're 8 years old its more enjoyable to become a young padawan - a Jedi apprentice - but i think it will be a cute and fun addition even if DLP Jedi Academy may not be located outside as it is at DHS for obvious weather reasons. All of you have heard about the DHS Jedi Academy but some may have never seen it in real so i post below a video showing the full DHS show.

The next transformation is an exciting one as the idea seems to be to transform the Pizza Planet restaurant - located a bit backstage behind Space Mountain - by Star Wars famous Mos Eisley Cantina which appeared for the first time in the Episode 4, i.e the first Star Wars movie to have been released. Not only it's for sure the most famous Star Wars "restaurant", the one that everyone remember from the movies, but it shouldn't be too difficult too to recreate it. From the outside it looks like this - below a picture of a diorama model by Stefan Weber:

And here is the same model but showing the inside.

Here are two pictures, the first one is the original model for the movie, and the next one is another model, non-official.

I remind you that in the movie the Cantina is located on Tatooine, in a desert environment, which mean that DLPI would probably have to recreate a bit of desert landscape all around it, which is not the most difficult thing to do. And they have the space to do it. Some additional creatures like the one you saw on the diorama and a land speeder waiting at the entrance would be welcome, too.

To be perfectly honest, this "Cantina" addition is the one on which i didn't had confirmation yet but it'll make sense to build it and if this Cantina project is finalized you can be sure that Lucas Film will keep an eye on the theming to make sure that the restaurant will be faithful to the original one. This next picture will give you an idea of where is what in La Cantina.

Now, we all remember that the Cantina is full of aliens from all over the galaxy. In this case it's probably DLP guests who will be the aliens (!) but it would be nice if the cast members who will work inside the Cantina could be a little bit "themed" - if french regulations allows it, which remains to be proven...

And what about the Cantina musicians, by the way? They have to be there, right? DLP have the choice of real musicians wearing masks or audio-animatronics musicians. My guess is that DLP might prefer "real" one for financial reasons but WDI AAs would be welcome..

For those of you who don't remember the Cantina scene from Star Wars Episode 4, here is the video.

Is this Star Wars land going to be build at DLP? Very probably, yes, and here is why: One year ago, during a press event, a dinner was organized with a selection of web masters and Philippe Gas, DLP CEO. I was part of the dinner but it's another web master who asked him if DLP was planning to replace Star Tours 1 by Star Tours 2. To what Philippe Gas answered that they will be very happy to do so but unfortunately the attraction have a cost - read: an important cost - and for the same cost DLP could have a brand new attraction. One of the problem is that DLP had bad experiences with previous upgraded attractions. They did Space Mountain Mission Two and expected it to be a success as big as they had in 1995 when Space Mountain opened, and it hasn't been the case. And Captain Eo just brought in more guests than HISTA during one week or so. So, we can understand why DLP execs can a bit dubious with upgraded rides even if in this case i think they're wrong as everyone will agree that Star Tours 2 is considerably better than the first version.

But, at the time of this dinner we didn't knew the real price of Star Tours 2, and it was hard to understand why Philippe Gas thought that ST2 cost was high. Thanks to Oriental Land company who always reveal the cost when they bring a new ride at TDL or TDS we know now that TDL will invest 7 billion Yen to bring Star Tours 2 - $84 Million which makes around 63.5 M euros. Even if the costs are always a bit higher in Japan because of anti-sismic regulations, the price for DLP is certainly not under 50M euros, and probably closer to 55M. I can understand now why Philippe Gas thought that it's quite a lot of money to upgrade a ride, as popular as it can be. Not to mention that it's also harder for DLP marketing to advertise an upgraded ride than a brand new one.

But DLP have two problems: the first one is that Star Tours 2 will be introduced to all the others parks next year except at DLP, and the pressure by DLP fans would surely grow in the next years. And also, to put it more simply, the original ride is really getting old, so sooner or later DLP couldn't escape to upgrade it. The second problem is located next door to Star Tours. As i told you Captain EO is not tremendously successful and obviously they can't keep it for years and years. Captain EO closed on April 2 but the main problem for DLP is: what can they put in instead of EO? WDI don't do anymore 3D movies considering - and they're right - that because a new 3D movie is released almost each week in normal theatres it's better to use 3D technology in rides - like in Toy Story Mania or in the upcoming Ratatouille ride at WDS.

And it's at that point that someone probably came with this brilliant idea: what about having a Star Wars land in the back of Discoveryland? And this concept change everything as DLP marketing will be able to "sell" or advertise not only an upgraded ride but a whole new land, and a new land dedicated to one of the most popular movie mythology in the world! And God knows that there is a lot of Star Wars fans in Europe. Not to mention that, as i told you, there is still plenty of land backstage to eventually add a new Star Wars attraction in the future if needed. Honestly, if they do it for real i think it's a very smart move from Philippe Gas and DLP Imagineering as this Star Wars land is probably the best way to resolve both the ST1 and Captain EO problems at the same time.

For sure, this Star Wars land will cost more to DLP than a simple upgrade of the ride but the benefit on many points will be greater. For instance, once DLP will have this Star Wars land why wouldn't they organize Star Wars week-ends like they do at WDW? It's very popular, and for sure it would bring fans from all over Europe in the park...and in DLP hotel rooms, right? So, for all these reasons, i'm quite sure that a Star Wars land will come to DLP, and from what is said on the DCP forum it won't be before Ratatouille opening which is scheduled for 2014. But 2015 might be the year that both Jedis and Empire forces will land again at DLP Discoveryland!

Pictures: copyright Disney, Lucas Film, Mark Dermul

Cantina Video: copyright Lucas Film

Cantina pictures from

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Final Brave Trailer !

Pixar has released a new Brave trailer and it's probably the best! Have a look, the movie is released in the U.S June 22!

Picture and video: copyright Disney - Pixar

Major Tim Burton Exhibit at Paris French Cinemathèque

If you're planning to come to Paris for a visit at Disneyland Paris in the next months AND if you are a Tim Burton fan - and who is not? - you might be interested to know that a major Tim Burton exhibit is now open at Paris French Cinémathèque. The exhibit which will last until August 5 takes lot of elements that were shown in 2009 New York MoMa with of course plenty of new ones shown for the first time at Paris exhibit. Tim Burton also did specially for the exhibit a short animated and here it is.

Exposition Tim Burton à la Cinémathèque... by lacinematheque

Of course visitors will see plenty of Tim great artwork and renderings done for his movies but the most impressing pieces are his creatures/sculptures created for his films or especially for this exhibit. From his first models to the sophisticated characters visitors will be able to follow the evolution of the famous macabre characters, helped by his artistic director and art director Rick Heinrichs.

Here is a special interview of Tim Burton who, as you will see below, was of course there for the exhibit opening.

Entretien exclusif avec Tim Burton by lacinematheque

French newspaper Libération also had a special preview of the exhibit and you can see their video below!

It's not over! There is more, as Tim also did a master class which was watched bu hudred of french Burton fans, some of them even came in Mad Hatter costume like the one you'll see on the picture. Right below the picture the video of the full Burton master class, in english. If you want to watch it dubbed in french please go HERE. The exhibit official page is HERE.

One more thing, and a bit of trivia as the building in which the French Cinemathèque is was designed by world famous architect and Pritzker price winner Frank Gehry. Yes, the same Frank Gehry who created the Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A and the original Disney Village architecture at Disneyland Paris!

Pictures: copyright Tim Burton, Cinémathèque Française

Videos: copyright Libération, Tim Burton