Friday, June 1, 2007


Tomorrow the first soft opening of the Walt Disney Studios awaited Toon Studio will begin, but here are the first full video report on all of it!
In two words, let's say that Crush coaster is a "D" ticket, and , although Cars race rally is a small ride , normally a "B" ticket - i give him a "C+" ticket for the high quality of all the theming.
The first video below shows the pre-show and loading room of Crush coaster. As it is too dark to film inside, this is the only part of it that you will see, so no spoilers on the ride itself ( if you really want to see more there is a video on the Dlrp website showing - but it's pretty dark - the inside of the ride at:
The second video below shows the outside facades and all the queue line decor of the Cars race rally attraction, and the whole theming is wonderful.
The third one is filmed on ride, in the Cars vehicle. At this moment, few people were in the vehicles.
The fourth shows the ride full of guests this time, on a different angle.
The fifth is another on-ride video, with all vehicles full of guests.
The sixth is filmed from the ride exit on another angle.
And the last one is a travelling showing the whole area of the Toon Studio.
On some videos a you tube message " Image coming soon" may appear. Just ignore it, click on the video, it will works.
Enjoy all of them!

For a complete photo tour of both attractions with comments, please see my articles about them on miceage at :
The first article about Crush coaster is already on line , and the second one about cars will be on line June 5th.

All photos and videos: Disney and more

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Universal officially announce " The Wizarding world of Harry Potter " land at Islands of Adventure !

That's it! Universal Studios officially announced today the opening in late 2009 of the awaited Harry Potter land at Orlando's Islands of adventure !
And here are the three renderings released by Universal showing this future land.

WOW! It looks great, doesn'it? Here is more about it with the press release:

Universal and Warner Studios are partnering to "create the world’s first fully immersive Harry Potter themed environment envisioned as a theme park within a theme park, based on the best-selling books by J.K. Rowling"
Barry Meyer, the chairman of Warner Bros Entertainment said "Working with Universal Orlando Resort, we are confident that we’ll be able to provide Harry Potter fans with an incredible experience that upholds the richness of J.K. Rowling’s books and delivers on the authentic detail portrayed in our films.”
Ron Meyer, Universal Studios president and COO declared: "We will rely on our company’s rich movie heritage and expertise in transforming film concepts into theme park entertainment experiences. The Harry Potter stories are among the most compelling of our time. The millions of people who have read the books and seen the movies will now be able to experience the world of Harry Potter in person.”
Guests will be able to visit some of the most iconic locations found in the books and the films including the village of Hogsmeade, the mysterious Forbidden Forest, and Hogwarts castle itself.
"The plans I've seen look incredibly exciting, and I don't think fans of the books or films will be disappointed," said J.K. Rowling . The "Wizarding world of Harry Potter" as the project is called will include immersive rides and interactive attractions, as well as experiential shops and restaurants that will enable guests to sample fare from the wizarding world’s best known establishments.
Universal said " we're planning a collection of rides and attractions specifically designed to bring the magic and adventures of Harry Potter to life in an exciting way that guests have never experienced before. That will include a new state-of-the-art attraction"
Stuart Craig , Potter's Movies production designer will collaborate with Universal creative's team in designing the park and J.K.Rowling hopes this will provide fans with another way to experience the world beyond the books and films.
The "Wizarding world of Harry Potter" fully immersive experience will be located at Islands of adventure, a portion of what is currently the Lost Continent will be devoted to the new environment, as well as an undeveloped area that is currently not in use. The new environment will be comparable in size to other islands within Islands of Adventure and will open late 2009 or early 2010. An here is the best: although Universal didn't mention any budget for this new land , the cost is supposed to be of 1 BILLION dollars!
The BIG question, now, is how is going to react Disney at this major announcement. This is where it becomes interesting, as this billion dollars Harry Potter land will be a major danger for WDW when it will open in 2009. No doubt that everybody coming to Orlando will rush to IOA to see it. So, my feeling is that we can expect in a while some major announcement from WDW. Hmmm...what about a "Narnia" land in Animal Kingdom where WDI was supposed to built the Beastly-kingdom-that- never-was? Or a real - at last - Star Wars land?

Here is some additionnal infos from the Orlando Sentinel article:

"Universal plans a 20-acre "Wizarding World," a little bigger than the average size of its themed "islands" at Islands of Adventure. Part would be carved away from what is now "The Lost Continent" island, and the rest would be land now used for employee parking and park support, outside the back fence.

The new, "seventh island" would feature reconstructed and rethemed attractions, and all-new ones, Scott Trowbridge, vice president of Universal's Creative Studios, said in an interview. The Hogwarts castle and locations from Rowling's Forbidden Forest and Hogsmeade village will be created as backdrops to attractions, shops and restaurants.

Three-time Academy Award-winning production designer Stuart Craig, who designed sets for all the Harry Potter movies, leads the "Wizarding World" design team.

Much of "The Lost Continent" island, including Universal's award-winning Mythos Restaurant, will be retained as a separate themed area, just smaller. The island is to remain open during construction as well.

Some current "Lost Continent" attractions such as The Dueling Dragons roller coasters and The Flying Unicorn coaster ride likely would be adapted to fit the Harry Potter story. Trowbridge would not discuss specific attractions, but did say that Universal intended to "leverage some existing infrastructure." He said that would have to include far more than a new paint job and a new sign, because too much is at stake.

"We do have a responsibility to all the fans that are out there in the world that have followed the Harry Potter saga through the films and the books," Davis said. "We're taking that very, very seriously. We're going to be true to the books and the films, and make sure that when people come here they're going to be very, very happy with what they see."

Artwork: copyright Universal Studios.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The second life of the Jungle Cruise Gorilla

A looong time ago - more precisely 32 years ago - guests who ride the Disneyland Jungle Cruise could watch this not-so-threatening but massive audio-animatronic gorilla standing on the banks of the "rivers of Africa".

And then, one day, the gorilla disappeared, vanished! Though, that was not without any reason. For the Imagineers, back in 1977-78, it was time for a major refurbishment of the attraction and legendary imagineer Mark Davis worked on the upgrading of this Disneyland Jungle Cruise - that was after WDW had opened with their improved show. Part of Mark's new show for Disneyland included the Gorilla Camp with the tents, overturned jeep and the family of gorillas unpacking and turning the camp inside out. That's when this older previous tenant Gorilla vacated the Disneyland Jungle Cruise.

But as they say at WDI, "good ideas never die", and as we will see, audio-animatronics too. Reemploying animation figures is common at Walt Disney imagineering, some of the AA from Natures Wonderland are now part of Big Thunder, and almost all America Sings audio-animatronics are in Splash Mountain.

Approximately at the same time, in 1978, the imagineers were also working on another major refurbishment of another Disneyland attraction: the Matterhorn Bobsleds. The Matterhorn was coming down to be reinforced with steel, as it was a wood framed structure since its opening. The new Bobsleds were being added along with new track, and better brakes too for the splash down. It was also decided to put some show in the interior mostly for the Skyway buckets that passed through the Matterhorn more slowly. The Bobsleds of course at speed could see the new icy interiors and crystals as well as what is now a very famous Disneyland figure: the abominable snowman.

Steve Kirk, imagineer extraordinaire who will be later the show producer in chief for Tokyo Disney Sea worked on the design of it - i should say them as there is three "abominable snowmen" in the ride. The design of these Snow Men was based on Steve's artwork - the one above - which was a composite of several different contemporary depictions and his own warped imagination.

Sculptor Blaine Gibson will then create the snowman mask, and the imagineers team with Legend and Matterhorn creator Fred Joerger added the interior with the new Ice Crystals. Now, and as i suppose you've already guessed the end of the story, yes, the old Jungle Cruise audio-animatronic gorilla put on a new suit in 1978, and is now living a second life in the role of the Matterhorn's abominable snowman!

Transforming ex gorillas into Snow Men had to have been purely for economic reasons and probably dictated the proportions of the final generation of the simian snow men.

As there is three snow men figures in the ride, i couldn't tell you which one exactly was the former Jungle Cruise gorilla, but next time you will ride the Matterhorn bobsleds and see the abominable snow man, have a little thought for this old Jungle Cruise gorilla who was one of the first Disneyland audio-animatronics. I'm sure he will be sensitive to this attention.

Many thanks to Davelandweb for the Jungle Cruise gorilla picture. Dave have an unbelievably good web site about the Jungle Cruise, with more pictures you can ever dreamed of. Be sure to have a look at it, it's HERE.

Steve Kirk's artwork and abominable snowman pictures: copyright Disney.

Disneyland's Pirates Lair theming and stunt show Videos

Hello! Disney and more is back, and the new topic today is about the Pirates Lair at Disneyland.
As by now, you have probably seen a lot of pictures on other sites - there is a lot of good one on the micechat at - here is two good youtube videos by Disneylandtourdotcom and Indy265. The first one will show you the whole new theming, and the second one the Pirates stunt show itself.
Here , too, two renderings , one of the stunt show - that Disney and more was the first to put on line some weeks ago - and one of the Pirates Lair map.
If the video below don't appear, you can find both of them here:

Artwork: copyright Disney