Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Haunted Mansion behind the scenes - Artwork and Videos

Undoubtedly one of Disney's Magic Kingdom most favorite attraction, the Haunted Mansion is still one of the best E-Ticket ever made, the one you can ride forever , and it's still magical each time you ride it.

As everybody knows, Marc Davis designed most of the scenes of the Mansion...

...That WDI wizards - below, special effects master Yale Gracey - have recreate in 3D with Audio-Animatronics

But the guests are always wondering how some of the special effects were done.
The first video below is with Walt Disney himself presenting the future attraction surrounded with legendary Imagineers like Marc Davis and others...

The next one is from the Discovery channel and is a short walk-through with legendary Imagineer Tony Baxter. Tony don't reveal a lot of secrets in this one, but it's always a pleasure to see Tony!

This other 10 minutes video will tell you more about the history and the effects of the Mansion. And Tony Baxter, Marty Sklar, Bruce Gordon, sculptor Blaine Gibson, Wayne Jackson, and many other imagineers will show you much more of the "behind the scenes.

But it's this other 10 minutes youtube video that will show you the imagineers at work in the sixties, creating the ghosts of the mansion. This video is coming from Disney's tv show "The Wonderful World of Color" in which the Haunted Mansion made its debut.
The first part of it is with the imagineers and the second part is a ride-through with - guess who? - Kurt Russell and the Osmonds , and, yes, they were young at that time!

You can find much more renderings and the whole story of the making of the attraction in the great Jason Surell book - the best book ever written on the "Haunted Mansion" - a "must have" if you don't have it yet!

Artwork: copyright Disney

Videos: copyright Discovery channel and Disney

All my thanks to freedogshampoo, MegaRob64 and waltdisneyforever for their embedded youtube videos.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel - Artwork, Photos, and Videos !

The Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, like the park, is located on Lantau Island - 20 minutes only from the airport and 40 minutes from Hong Kong island, and what you must not forget is that there has been a huge land filled, as before , where HKD is now standing , everything was under water! as you can see on these two pictures , before and after.

The main reason about the choice of the architecture of the two HKD hotels was that they were so different that one can find in hong kong, and that’s sure as it’s probably hard to find in hong kong a victorian architecture like the HKD hotel.

But, before they built it , as we are in hong kong, the location of the hotel required a “feng shui” master! So, Imagineers of the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel worked with a feng shui master from Hong Kong for positioning the buildings and entrances throughout the resort.
His advice included to make sure that the main entrance faced north to south, oriented to ensure maximum advantage from the Green Dragon Mountain to the east and White Tiger Mountain to the west. Doorways, so, are placed to maximize the flow of positive energy. Water themes also dominate throughout the resort, in restaurants and lounges.

When you arrive at the entrance of the resort, you instantly know that the imagineers did their best: The avenues leading to the hotels have a great tropical lush vegetation theming and , instantly, you know that you’re entering in a “Disney” world.

I stayed at the Hong Kong Disneyland hotel, one of the two hotels of the resort - the other one being the “Hollywood hotel”, and both of them are great , top disney-quality. To give you an idea, i put the Hong Kong Disneyland hotel - who have the same architectural style - between the Disneyland hotel in paris and the Grand Floridian in orlando. It’s bigger than the Disneyland hotel in paris, and smaller than the Grand Floridian.

And it’s a great one! with a beautiful lobby...

Big rooms with balcony...

Luxury suites, with WDI art framed on the walls...

Wonderful indoor-outdoor swimming pool and asian spa...

And even a labyrinth maze in the central garden where you can play to get lost!

Some rooms give you special access to the “kingdom club” , a beautiful victorian private lounge where guests can find free drinks and food all day.

The Imagineers designed three different restaurants, from quick and casual at the "Sorcerer’s Lounge"...

To fine dining at the Crystal Lotus restaurant, featuring fine Asian cuisine themed after the five essentials of life – wood, metal, earth, fire and water .Even the entryway to Crystal Lotus, the hotel’s signature contemporary Chinese restaurant, pours on the Disney magic. Guests pass above the see-through floor of a virtual aquarium. As they step onto the surface, rushing water is heard and ripples spread as the colorful “fish” dart about. The imagineers had fun to put lot of “special effects”. At the bar, the top of the vodka or whisky bottles launch “flames” regularly and the lotus flowers are changing of colours in a fraction of seconds!

The ultimate in Disney character dining can be found in the conservatory-like setting of the lamp-lit Enchanted Garden Restaurant, offering exquisite buffet-style meals.

But there is one other good reason to stay at the HKD hotel: it’s the fantastic view on the Hong Kong bay at night,. After a whole day in HKD magic kingdom, having right in front of you, the dazzling sky line of hong kong at night, it is really magical!

And now it's time to discover it through two perfectly filmed youtube videos by barrybillionaire. You will see everything i mention above, including WDI special effects in the Crystal Lotus restaurant!

Artwork: copyright Disney - Photos: copyright Disney and Alain Littaye

Youtube videos by barrybillionaire

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Disneyland Paris 14 of july "national day" firework was great !

The national day in France is the 14th of July , and on that special day, there is a special firework at Disneyland Paris.
I mean "special" , because on regular summer days, the evening firework is "Wishes".

But the one that guests have seen july 14th, was bigger and , although there was no projected images on the castle, better.

So, if anyone of you is coming in Paris next year on this july 14 day, don't miss it!

In the meantime, you can watch a video of it on the very good dlrp web site

Photos: copyright Disney

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

If anyone ask you when was the first Disney released of Cinderella, what would you say ?

Probably 1950 - which is actually the date of the first released of the animated "Cinderella" that we all know - right?

Well, i am sorry to say that you will be the real date of Disney's first released of an animated version of Cinderella is...1922!

That's right: 1922, and it was released as a Laugh-O-Gram, some of Disney's first black and white animated. Okay, as you will see, it don't looks really like the 1950's version, but the truth is that it really is the first Disney adaptation of the famous fairy tale.

Now, nothing is better than to watch the real thing, so, here it is below on this youtube video. Enjoy the discovery, for those of you who will see it for the first time.

By the way, this old photo of Walt above is a great picture. Click on it to enjoy it in big size.

Photos and video: copyright Disney.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How to give your own home a great Adventureland theming !

Today’s article will give you great ideas about how to give your own home a great Adventureland theming.
Yes, what about the idea to create your own adventureland? That sounds a pretty good idea, doesn’it? Probably, you may have think about it, and very probably too, you've stopped thinking about it immediately, for one main reason: unaffordable, too expensive, impossible......don’t even think about it!
Well, knowing the price of even the most modest of Disney attractions, I would have said not too long ago that your conclusion might be spot on. However, we may be entering an era where it won’t be totally impossible to bring a little of the magic home, and it might even be affordable. Let’s be clear , i am not going to tell you that in the near future each of you could recreate your own jungle cruise for 2000$, because obviously it will never be the case, but if we take other examples, like, let’s say, to recreate a “ tiki room” environment, there, it may be different...

So, we all love the tiki room and jungle cruise, don’t we? Well, here is a great web site that you’re going to love instantly:

Created by two WDI imagineers, Paul Torrigino ( who designed attractions for Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disney sea ) and Richard Guttierez ( who was the field art-director for tokyo disney sea ‘s little mermaid lagoon ) , this is the place for beautifully hand-crafted tiki signs , as they say on the opening page. Well, it’s more than that : the tiki signs that Pariarts will design for you - personnalized or “custom” - are more than great, expertly hand crafted on solid redwood and there is plenty of retro designs to choose . Needless to say that most of them have a “disneyland” spirit-like that will be a delight for any disneyland lover.And , yes, if you’re a Disneyland’s Tiki room addict, they are doing a “tiki room” sign. Have a look to some examples of what can be done below, and then, jump to their web site and “click” on any link of the menu, as everything is incredibly great to look at!

Don’t miss the “tikiland” section, with lot of photos of a home created with a totally adventureland theming, may be you’ll find some interesting decorative ideas there.

Oh, i forgot: not only the tiki signs are beautiful, but the sizes are great and the prices , particularly for specially custom "one-of-a-kind" products are really reasonable ( from 375$ for a custom 23” tiki sign ).

Once you have the entrance tiki sign, you’ll need what? well, the tikis, and the birds of course! For the birds, don’t forget that disney direct was selling a wonderful reproduction of the “Barker bird” , and this one is part of their disneyland 50 th anniversary collectibles designed by Kevin Kidney and Jody Dailey released last year. You probably can find it on ebay, now.

You’re gonna tell me that, although the bird replica is perfect it’s still not an audio-animatronic as there is no mechanism inside. That’s true, but the good news is that it’s possible to install inside a mechanism, as they used the original molds, which means that there is empty space inside the bird, and all the room needed to do it...

Let’s not forget the great “tiki drummers” of the Tiki room, as they are now available in a perfect real size reproduction at disney direct, too ( 25 “ high, 175$ ). And a light inside the drum makes great lighting on their face! And here, too, it’s possible to put a mechanism to have the arms moving!

And if you want to open the door to your guests just dressed as were the original 1963 host , it’s possible too, with these “host shirt and hostess dress “ also released on disney direct !

Now, about the Tikis. It’s a little bit more complicated, but i have a great adress for you: Oceanic arts. Oceanic Arts is a company founded 50 years ago by Bob Van Oosting and Leroy Schmaltz...who both love Tikis. (Bob handles the business, and LeRoy the carving and production.) More than that, it's the world's leading supplier of tropical and Polynesian decor.
For restaurants, hotels, Disney theme parks or others, film productions, exhibit, ...and, that the point that interest us: tropical style home and landscaping! If you need any kind of adventureland decor or props , Oceanic arts have it for you, and i mean : anything ! I remember the day, three years ago when i receive their catalogue, i almost fell out of my chair when i saw all the great items it was possible to order to them.
Need some great specially-sculpted-tikis - from 3 feet high to 20 feet high ? they have it! need some polynesian thatch, tiki rail posts, polynesian figures, hardwood natives shields or masks? they have it! some polynesian lamps, canoe wall decors, fiberglass parrot or crocodile, tiki torches, or even better: south seas natives canoes? you’ll find it there, too! You need some more nautical props for a kind of pirates of carribean atmosphere like these old crates or redwood barrels? they have it, too! Oceanic arts is doing nearly everything you need to create a home adventureland decor. Now, they do have a web site , which is mainly a front page, i.e you won’t see any photos of their products on it. But, i more than strongly recommand you to order them their catalogue which cost only 10$, and which is, as i’ve said an incredible mine of everything-you-need to theme your own home or garden with a Polynesian style. Here below are some pictures from the Oceanic Arts catalogue.

By the way, don’t miss while it’s still available the best book about tikis “the book of tiki” , published by taschen. This book is a mine of infos and photos of everything about tikis since the 1950’s - you’ll even see some photos of Leroy Schmaltz, Oceanic arts owner already sculpting tikis in the 1960’s! The book is beautiful , have 288 pages, and available at amazon for only 19,99$, and that’s a bargain!

Now, talking about jungle cruise , You can also add in your now-new adventureland decor some little collectible elements like this wonderful jungle cruise boat replica ,available before on disney direct ( now look on ebay ) , a perfect reproduction of the original one . Some are still available, and they worth the price, really!

Well, i can hear you say: all this is fine, but we will never find some audio animatronics animals at 200$.....well, may be not...... or may be yes! this is the time to introduce you - if you don't know it yet - to the Wowwee company. Wowwee created the now famous “robosapien” robot - a huge success , 2 millions of it were sold world wide. and the new one the “robosapien, V2 “ is more than impressing. Taller - 24” high - nicer, have 14 different motors and articulations he has the capacity to recognise colours, and, of course, can walk, dance, track moving objects, and even bring you a can of your favorite beer! the movements of this robot are so smooth that it could be at innoventions in epcot !The man who created them is Mark Tilden, an ex-Nasa scientist, currently working on the “V3”, the next robosapien generation to be released next year. The V3 will be one foot taller than the V2 , and will be able to “hear” with a voice recognition system. And we’re talking here about a 250$ robot , not a 500.000 $ AA. So let’s be clear, as good and incredible are the wowwee V2 robots , they are not as sophisticated as the WDI Audio-animatronics and won’t move as smoothly as the pirates of carribean auctioneer figure, but, for the price, they’re already unbelievably good......
Now, let’s come back to the animals. Always “pushing” the challenge higher, Wowwee just released their first “life-like” robotic animal, a chimpanzee bust. And this one looks great, too. As a matter of fact, this life-size animatronic replication and realistic behavorial sounds and motions was made possible through the “magic” of realistic hollywood special effects, beginning by the lifelike hair and skin. The chimpanzee have four different moods : curious, fearful, happy, or angry, and look as they say “so real, he’s unreal!” You’ll find all infos and can watch little clips of the robots at :

Hope all these links will give you some decorative ideas and help you to transform your own home with a great “Adventureland” touch at affordable price!

Photos: copyright Disney,, Oceanic Arts, and Wowwee.