Saturday, July 14, 2007

SPIRITS OF LONDON - Discover two major attractions from the Victorian city

Today, i take you to London for a review about two London attractions that i liked, and that you, theme park lovers, should like too when you will go to this great Victorian city.

The first one is inside the Madame Tussauds museum, located near the Baker street underground station. Baker street, by the way, is a famous street as it was there that Sherlock Holmes was “supposed” to have his home in Conan Doyle’s novels. For those of you who are fan of the great detective, there is even a museum on this place that you can visit.

Anyway, to come back to Madame Tussauds museum, it’s probably one of the best - if not the best - wax museum in the world. Why? Because of the quality of the wax sculptures, due, of course to the great talent of Tussaud’s sculptors. In two words like in one, the all-stars recreated there looks more real than real!

And, as you can get close to the figures, don’t forget your digital camera, just to bring back home a picture of your girl friend giving a kiss to Tom Cruise , Steven Spielberg or Prince Edward, among others...

Talking about Steven Spielberg, there is a whole room dedicated to blockbusters movies, from Jurassic Park to Indiana Jones, and super heroes like Spiderman and a giant Hulk, two other great “photo locations”

There is always the famous “chamber of horrors”, more scary, where you’ll see scenes of famous murderers and french revolution guillotine sequences.

AND, here it comes, you will find, too, a dark ride ! And a good little one. Called “the Spirit of London”, it tells the story of London from the 15th century til’ present time. To give you a better idea, just think to Epcot’s space ship earth attraction where you see scenes of different period of time, and it’s as close as you can to imagine the “london spirit ride” .
Of course, it’s less longer than space ship earth, but the decor - where there is audio animatronics, too - are really good , nearly as good as a WDI attraction.

The Queue line and boarding room decor is good, a kind of library where you board the people mover vehicles design with the look of the top of the famous London taxis...The vehicles turn left or right , just like in the “Haunted Mansion” to show you the different scenes.

The first scene shows Elizabeth the 1st, who reigns centuries ago, and there it goes with scenes of the great london fire, the london pleague, the building of st paul’s cathedral, the battles victories against Napoleon, the victorian era and the beginning of the great industries, the london “blitz”, etc...

...including the swinging sixties, to the finale with funfair carousels, a kind of extravaganza about the “london spirit”.

Next to the dark ride, there is a planetarium with a 12 minutes show, include in the price of the ticket, so, if you’re there, why not having a look! The good point about the dark ride is that you can ride it again if you wish. To be honest, you’re not supposed to, but if you want, you can do it easily.

The next attraction i’d like to let you know is one of my favorite, and is called “The London Dungeon” and it is some other kind of “spirits” that await you here. Those of the dark ages of england, the medieval wars where city were destroyed and their people tortured (!), the times of the great pleagues or the victorian killings of Jack the Ripper.....The London Dungeon is a kind of Gothic place, built in what was formely caves under the London Bridge station, and, although the themes don’t look fun, the theming and the atmosphere gives a one-of-a-kind experience which don’t exist anywhere else.

To tell the truth, the “Dungeon” is highly popular in London. Don’t expect to go there and to don’t find any queue line to enter it ( same with Madame Tussaud’s museum, by the way) . The English have always loved these “dark” stories - just think to their haunted castles - and there is at least three different companies who organize each day tours in the whitechapel district on the locations where Jack the Ripper did his dreadful murders...( click on the photo below to see the London Dungeon map in bigger size )

The facade of the London Dungeon say it all: gothic statues and this warning “enter at your peril”. Good theming, so, and disguised “gothic” actors will escort you from one part to another, as the London Dungeon experience is divided in six parts. The first one is “under siege” where you’ll see scenes of what was happening to the people of a defeated city of the old ages...

The next one is the new addition since 2005, and it’s called “the labyrinth of the lost”. Before you enter one woman of the cast - who looks like a witch - will warn you that every soul who have entered the labyrinth never came out of it and that, from time to time, it’s possible to hear their voice howling ... and then, as the gates open, it’s your turn to enter it. Basically, the labyrinth of the lost is the most easiest attraction i saw, as it is simply a mirror labyrinth! That’s right: a mirror labyrinth! but everything here is in the way it has been designed, i.e in a gothic style , it looks like an ancient crypt with a ceiling not high, and , as soon as you get in it, because of the mirror reflections, it lseems to never ends. Where it become really fun is after three or four minutes, when you begin to understand that there is REALLY no issue!! And, because of the special atmosphere of the London Dungeon you share before, you really begin to think that you will wander in it forever! Okay, of course, you’ll get out of it, but i won’t tell you how, as, when you’ll be in it, you won’t find any issue and come back again and again where you were 30 seconds before. So, it’s fun, and a little bit scary, too.

Next is the 1665 plague epidemic sequence where your group will discover the effects of the pleague as shown by one woman from the cast in a medical laboratory of the 17th century, perfectly themed.
Believe it or not, but they succeed to built a small flume ride in the caves, but before you acess it, you’ll enter the torture chamber where one of you will be chosen to experiment what were the old tortures ( don’t worry, you won’t be really tortured!)

So, then, it’s time for the “Judgment day” part. First you enter a re-creation of a 17th century law room where judges - all in genuine costume - will judge the group and sentenced all of you to death!

This is where you’ll board the boats and, passing through “traitor’s gate” - the famous gate on the Thames river through which the prisoners were entering the “tower of london” the medieval prison - will begin a spine tingling voyage into the depths of the dungeon where darkness surrounds you, lights flicker and your heart begin to pound...’til the final backward drop! ( below, a photo of the real “traitor’s gate” at the tower of london which is reproduced in the flume ride decor )

When you’ll get out of the boat, it will be to enter the 1888 victorian streets full of “smog” of the “Jack the ripper experience” . An actor of the “dungeon” will excort you from one scene to another and tell you the story of the probably first “serial killer” in history. There, too, perfect theming, and some “gore” elements with the wax bodies of the murdered women...

The last scene is about the “great fire of london” which destroy all the old wood London city centuries ago. It’s a small part in the dungeon experience but false fire effects - although primitive - and decor of the wood houses of the old london is pleasant...

Finally, this year, the latest addition to the London Dungeon is called "Extremis: Drop ride to doom!" ( nothing less than that! ) and is a 20 feet drop simulating a hanging after - again! - your trial. The press release give a better description:
"You have been judged and sentenced and now must accept the consequences of your crimes and experience the brand new Extremis: Drop Ride to Doom! Your heart pounds with fear as the hooded hangman gleefully guides you into position and your end draws near. Muster all the courage you possess as you step over the trapdoor and prepare for your own hanging!
There is no time to scream as you feel the floor give way, your heart leap into your throat and you plummet sharply into the darkness below...!"

Of course, at the end of the visit, you have a theme café, shop, and even themed rest rooms(!)where you’ll be able to buy any macabre merchandise you wish...

The London Dungeon for adult people or teen agers is scary and fun, because of its unique gothic experience, but i will not recommand you to enter it with children under 10 years old!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What about some news from the Indiana Jones 4 filming ? Photos and lot of videos from the set !

That's the movie we are all waiting for: the "Indy 4", schedule to be released on May 22, 2008. Although it's not a typical theme park news, as there is currently four Indiana Jones attraction in Disney theme parks around the world ( yes, four, as the Tokyo Disney sea version of Indiana Jones adventure have different scenes than the one in Anaheim )i thought that news about this highly awaited sequel could find its place in Disney and more.

And of course, we want to see images right now, don't we? And we mean "moving" images!
So, the good news is that you will see lot of videos all along this article, thanks to the youtube directors who were there during the filming in New Haven, Connecticut.

But before, what do we do know, right now on this very secret filming?
About the cast, that the young Shia La Beouf will play Indiana's son, that Kate Blanchett and John Hurt are starring in it, as well as Jim Broadbent and Ray Winstone. And we know also , that the great Sean Connery was asked to reprise his role as Henry Jones, Sr. from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But Connery turned it down because he did not want to come out of retirement, very unfortunately for all of us...Don't worry, Sean, we still love you!

About the "time" of the movie, we know for sure that it is set in the early 1950's. But about the story line, it is still a big secret , although, as we will see below, some rumours may tell us more about it.

But there is always a "day one" when you're filming a movie, and here is a video with these good old Steven ( Spielberg ) and Georges ( Lucas ), alive, and well, precisely on the first day of shooting.

And, by the way, "where is the man with the hat", this other good old fellow, Indy?
Ah, good, here he is, on this short video released, like the previous one, by the production. ( Photo above from Indiana )

As i told you the young Shia La Beouf - currently playing in Transformers - will play Indiana Jones son. But what does he really think about his "father" ?

So, on July 5, 2007 the cast and crew of Indiana Jones IV traveled to Essex, Connecticut to shoot a scene or two for the upcoming movie. Filming in Connecticut took place between June 28th and July 6th, mainly in New Haven and Yale university.
And one thing is sure: the property master had a really lot of work transforming some of the city's streets so they look like a 1950's street. All the shops, windows, were changed, and here is a video by Marty Weiss who will give you a glance at how it looks. ( photos above by Madogvelkor )

That's not all: the cars also were different, and a major chase scene needed to have a LOT of 1950's cars everywhere! Let's have a look with pictures and a slide-show video about them.( photo above by Tom Tomorrow )

The New Haven Register has find out more on where filming did take place: "There have been classroom shots, exterior shots and the prerequisite chase scene that includes the Old Campus, Phelps Gate and Yale's library,".

Did they talked about a "chase" scene? Yes! a looong chase scene with Indy and his son on a motorbike - Indy's son is driving - being chased by cars. And here is a short video of it. Note that it's hard to say if it is the actors that we can see on the motorbike or stunt men. Probably the stunt men.

Always in New Haven, as we"ve said above, they've filmed on day 3 some scenes at the Yale University Campus. Here is a slide-show video that let you see more of it, as well as the Chapel street 50's theming where dozens of extra walked around all dressed with 50's clothes. ( photo above by MattKP )

And here is a short video of the filming of a Yale scene.

On July 5, the crew moved to film an Essex Steam Train Scene, and here is another video with a slide show of images shoot on the location.

As you've understood, lot of people - not part of the movie - were close to the set.
But it seems that Spielberg took this not too badly, as this video below show us.

Then, after Connecticut, the main unit moved on to the final location shoot in Hawaii. Steven Spielberg, cast and crew arrived in Eastern Hawaii this past weekend and they’re currently already shooting. After a couple of weeks in Hawaii, they’ll be returning to the Los Angeles area for sound stage work before rushing headlong into post-production.

But what about the story itself? Well first, there is an interesting point in the name of the character play by John Hurt: Abner Ravenwood. Does this name tell you something? It should, as Abner Ravenwood is supposedly the father of Marion Ravenwood, the character played by qKaren Allen in the first movie "Raiders of the lost ark". Yes, he was the one searching for the Ark before Indy arrive and find it in Egypt, as we know. But he was also supposed to be DEAD...well, may be he is still alive, after all...
But if the man who supposedly had spent a big part of his life searching about the Ark of the Covenant is alive, what does THAT mean? It's here where i must leave Quint from the Aintitcool web site tell you more about what he think about the plot:

"...The rumors I have been getting say that the big object being searched for is not Atlantis. It is not the Spear of Destiny. It is not a shard of Noah's Ark. This time Indiana has to go back to square one. There is nothing he can possess that can not be taken away.

What I hear is that he is searching, once more, for the Ark of the Covenant.

The rumor is that the warehouse we see at the end of Raiders is in Groom Lake (aka Area 51) and the Russians are trying to find it in order to one-up the American military might.

That would explain Abner being involved in the story. That would further my theory that INDY 4 will act as a bookend to the series, RAIDERS on one side and INDY 4 on the other."

Mmmmh...what do you think about that? The Ark of the Covenant mixed with the Area 51? Doesn't it looks really a little bit too much? I must add that Quint is also saying that all of this is still a rumour...on the other hand the aintitcool web site is often well informed...

There is also another strong rumour, this time revealed by the IGN web site:
" There are new hints about a possible wedding scene that may appear in the film. Could Indy be tying the knot after all of these years? We don't know, but filming for the rumored on-screen nuptials is taking place outside the First Congregational Church. A New Haven Public Works employee told the Register, "It's my understanding there is supposed to be some kind of wedding inside the church." The actual wedding scene, whoever it includes, will reportedly be shot in Hollywood."

We will probably know more about the real storyline later, but in the meanwhile, if the Ark of the Covenant makes its come back, remember: don't look inside the Ark when it will be open!

Photo above from Just Jared

Many thanks to all the youtube directors for the videos embedded. Watch more videos from them on youtube!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hong Kong Disneyland spectacular wallpaper pictures

Hello. In addition to the Hong Kong Disneyland article - you will find the Tim Delaney interview below - here are some great wallpaper pictures of Tomorrowland. These pictures are also in the interview article below, but they are here in high-res. As always, i have not chosen the worst photos...most of them are night pictures because HKD Tomorrowland lighting is really spectacular and beautiful!

Click on each picture to get them in bigger size.

As always, i remember you as it is written on the "terms of use" page that, in the event you download any material from The Disney and more blog, the download of the material, including any files or images must be for your personal, noncommercial home use only. You may not and cannot sell, print or reproduce in any way any material downloaded from The Disney and more blog, and specifically any material copyright Disney , Walt Disney company or any other companies.

All Photos: copyright Disney