Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Grand Tribute to Tim Delaney - Part One

You may have read on other websites that Imagineers Tim Delaney and Valerie Edwards are leaving Walt Disney Imagineering. They're not the only Imagineers to leave WDI, and, to say it kindly, it's not by their own accord.

Although i have not met with Tim Delaney since almost ten years, i knew him well during the making of my Disneyland Paris book, "From Sketch to Reality", as Tim was the show-producer for DLP's Discoveryland. Starting today, i will do a four-part grand tribute to hIm as Tim was really an Imagineer extraordinaire and one of WDI most brilliant show designer.

The first time i've met Tim was back in 1994 some days before the opening of "Les Mystères du Nautilus" at DLP. At that time i was journalist and i had the pleasure of a private visit of Nemo's legendary submarine alone with Tim - that you can see on the picture below, sit on the Nautilus, before the lagoon was filled. Of course it was great and the giant squid show dazzled me. At that time the show was longer and lasted almost five minutes, and before the giant squid appeared you could see one of his giant tentacle hitting the hull of the Nautilus.

Then, i met Tim again two days later at WDI in Glendale for a great photographic report for a french magazine to celebrate the park's 5th anniversary. Hopefully, i'll find back the pictures we shoot during these two days and post them on Disney and more.

One of Tim's first major work as a WDI Imagineer is undoubtedly his work on Epcot's Living Seas as you will see below. Tim's next masterpiece is of course Discoveryland at DLP where he succeed to design a timeless "Tomorrowland", but before - and it's less known - Tim worked on a new version of Disneyland's Tomorrowland in which the Star Wars universe would have been introduced more deeply in the land. The great french comic book artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud - that Georges Lucas consider as one his biggest inspiration for the Star Wars universe - even worked with Tim on the concept. The whole Tomorrowland would not have become a "Star Wars land" but, for instance, one of the project that Tim suggested was a transformation of the Carousel of Progress in a kind of Broadway show with aliens. The project was known years later under the name of Plectu's Galactic Revue but it was a different version of the first designed version which, strictly between you and me, was much better!

To come back to DLP's Discoveryland, Tim did a superb job in the design of the land, undoubtedly one of DLP's guests favorite thanks too to its unique Space Mountain version. In the part two of this tribute, we'll have a closer look to it.

Tim did such a great job at DLP that WDI choose him to be Hong Kong Disneyland's Tomorrowland show-producer. There, too, and specially considering the limited space he had for this land Tim did a wonderful job - i consider the HKDL Autopia "out of this world" version as the best ever built thanks to sci-fi sounds in the cars and a vegetation which seems to come from another planet! It's definitely my favourite Autopia version.

More recently, Tim designed the fantastic Pirates of Caribbean land for Hong kong Disneyland. More or less officially Hong kong officials didn't like it but it seems that the real one who didn't like it was Jay Rasulo's - probably for cost reasons as it's hard to imagine how someone can't like the design of such a great project!

Recent articles on Blue Sky Disney or on Progress City U.S.A tried to determine the effect of Tim and Valerie's departure from WDI and what such a decision from WDI executives could mean for the future. Although it'll be hard to find a WDI Imagineer who won't tell you that "it's a sad day for Imagineering" - and it IS a very sad day indeed when "living treasures" like Tim or Valérie are leaving a company as i've written some months ago in a previous article - from what i've been told it seems that it don't necessarily means that WDI management has chosen for the future the poor quality option.

Apparently, lay-off are happening all over Hollywood and not only at Disney, due to the economy crisis. But about WDI, it seems that the choice which is done is to work more with sub-contractors outside of the company - and this may include former WDI Imagineers that were lay-off some months ago. If Disney is trying to reduce the salary cost may be it's not necessarily to "kill" WDI but eventually to save it. When the cost of a company division becomes too high, if nothing is done, the corporation eventually will try to kill the division. Here, and may be i'm wrong, but we can't say that it's the case. Probably they're only trying to reduce the costs - and until now there is no signs too of a lower quality for future attractions. Whether it's the Little Mermaid, Cars Land, the new Fantasyland at WDW Magic Kingdom, HKDL expansion or the upcoming Star Tours 2 all of them should be real WDI E-Ticket, not to forget the awaited Shanghaî Disneyland which very probably will have a great design - and with a bit of luck Tim's Pirates of Caribbean land will be include in it. Still, i think it's an incredible mistake to do these changes at WDI and to loose the talent - and the irreplaceable experience! - of such great Imagineers like Tim and Valérie. As a friend Imagineer told me about Tim: "I was surprised because he was someone who could actually not only do a great design but also build things and get them made. Who will teach the new ones?".

In this first part of the Tim Delaney tribute we will have a look at his work on Epcot's Living Seas. Most of the artwork below - which was previously posted on D&M last year - is from Tim Delaney and i'm sure you will recognize Tim's unique style.

I've tried to present the renderings in the "chronological order" of the scenes. As always, click on each picture to see them in big size.

The first rendering below show the pavilion's entrance.

Here is a first concept for the attraction which looks great!

And here is another one preliminary concept , just as great!

This is the artwork for the preshow queue decor

And for some pre-show decor painting

This next artwork show the inside of the famous "Hydrolator"

Here is a great one showing the sea cabs

This artwork show the guests riding in the sea cabs

Guests are now unloading the sea cabs

...And arriving to Sea Base Alpha !

Here is a view from "outside" . I don't think the divers ever dress as futuristic as they look here - not to mention the submarine vehicle...

Here is another version of that scene

And a close shot on the diver

Let's come back in Sea Base Alpha

...and his hydrolators well as the divers show

This one show the Pacific coastal ecosystem area

And this one the robot Jason

Here is one involving sharks

This is the artwotk for the "scuba tube" scene

And a close shot on the "diver"

Here is a different version for that scene

It seems that a "show" was envisioned with king Neptune

A close shot on Neptune's face

Let's not forget the great coral reef restaurant

And the final one will take you in the VIP lounge!

In part two of this Tim Delaney tribute, coming soon, we will have a look at the Discovery Mountain project for DLP!

Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this article on D&M english forum on Mice Chat

All artwork: copyright Disney Enterprises


Robert/Cologne said...

Great pics made me wonder when is your next book ?its neally Christmas and I need to buy byself a gift ;-)
Livin seas brought back great memories (I had the table next to the tanks last yearand had a diver come down with a message for our table)

RandySavage said...

Fantastic visual tribute to Tim.

A lot of that artwork is completely new to me (and I've seen a lot of WDI art). Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Another sad day for Walt's Imagineering and the people who made it your "Greatest Experience".

Brian said...

Great article. So sad that two of the best imagineers had to go, again Disney loses a little fragment of its magic.
Think the biggest compliment for your blog and you is that Disney has made its own blog now, almost exactly the same, only of course with more money in it. Great compliment, Alain!

Talking about all the new rides to expect around the world, how about Paris. Have you got a clue when the moment will be that they'll officially announce Toy Story Playland, Alain? And what about the rumours around a new ride for DLP's 20th birthday? Splash Mountain still possible?

Michael said...

Lovely artwork!

Alain Littaye said...

To Brian: yes, Disney created its own blog, but Disney and more is better, isn't it!

about DLP: If they don't announce Toy Story playland in November when they publish the annual result, it will be most likely next february during the annual stockholder meeting.
As for the 20th anniversary attraction, no news yet , non-officially it's still always Ratatouille.