Saturday, November 7, 2009

Editor's Note: If you've not read yet my "Michael Jackson's Peter Pan's Neverland theme park that never was" article, don't miss it, as this Michael Jackson's secret project will really amaze you! You will find it below, right after the "Prep and Landing" article or HERE.

It's a Small World Ad video celebrate children of all nations

Disney Parks has released a really nice advertising video for the Christmas season of It's a Small World. Frankly, it's done with tenderness and it reproduces perfectly the childhood spirit of the attraction. This reminds me that "It's a Small World Celebration", a kind of Christmas version of IASW will begin at DLP November 21st!

Last wednesday you saw my article on the Neverland theme park project, but as you will see this Ad also have some Peter Pan spirit. Enjoy!

Picture and video: copyright Disney

New Pixar short animated " Dug's Special Mission "

"Dug's special mission" is the new Pixar short animated that you will find in the UP! DVD and Blu-Ray editions. The DVD was released last week in the U.S but in Europe or Asia, we'll have to wait at least three more months before its release.

The action of this new and funny short animated takes place in the movie, just before Carl and Russel meet Dug for the first time.

Internet being what it is, some people have already uploaded it on a kind of Youtube-from-another-planet and here is the link below. "Dug's special mission" is not my favorite Pixar short, but there is some fun parts in it, beginning of course by Dug himself. Have a look by yourself, you can watch it HERE.

Picture: copyright Disney-Pixar

Michael Jackson " This is It " documentary pays tribute to the Haunted Mansion !

I saw tonight in Paris the Michael Jackson doumentary "This is it". And it's great, really. You should go see it for two reasons: First, the editing is perfectly done and it's almost like a concert. You don't see Michael's death, they stop the movie before. Michael is in good physical condition - he was almost 50 so he don't have the same energy he had at 35, but you definitely don't have the feeling that he was at "the doors of death".

But there is also one very good reason for you, Disneyland super-fans, to go see it and it's this one: They've filmed for this concert-that-never-was a new video for the "Thriller" sequence which was supposed to be projected on stage, and guess what? a big part of it is totally inspired by the Haunted Mansion! No doubt that it is due to Michael's love of Disneyland.

For instance, do you remember the key-keeper Audio-Animatronic that we see in the attraction shaking at the doors of the cemetary? Of course you do. Well, he is in this video as one of the ghosts. Just like the other ghosts which are sit on the chandelier hanging from the ceiling of the Haunted Mansion ball room! And guess what? They had envisioned to have people holding ghosts walking in the walkways during the concert, and the ghosts look just like the one flying in the cemetery of the HM!

For all these reasons, beginning by the fact that it is a great documentary and almost a concert, go see it while it is in theatres, i promise you'll enjoy it!

Disney Parks launch interactive "storybook" Youtube videos

Disney Parks launched this week a series of interactive Youtube videos. They're all about Christmas season and there is 11 different nice little videos, all looking like a Christmas storybook.

What do you have to do? It can't be more simple: just watch the first short video below and at the end they will ask you to make a choice between three options. Click on the one you wish, and a new video will appear. At the end of this new one do another choice, etc...until you've seen them all. Simple but good idea although it was may be not that simple to create, technically speaking. Note that your first choice will send you to Youtube where you'll see the next videos. Don't forget to come back on Disney and more after you've seen them all!


Picture and video: copyright Disney

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Behind the scenes look to " Prep and Landing "

Last August i've let you know about this Walt Disney Animation new animated called "Prep and Landing", directed by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers. Well, it will be released on ABC next month December 1st, and the ABC website released some interesting videos about it, among them a trailer and a behind the scenes videos.

But first, here is the synopsis of this lovely Christmas tale: "After working tirelessly on Prep and Landing for 227 years, an Elf named Wayne is upset when he doesn't receive an expected promotion to be the "director of naughty list intelligence".
Instead Magee the North Pole Christmas Eve command center coordinator partners Wayne with Lanny, an idealistic rookie who has an undying unthusiasm for Christmas. during their Christmas Eve mission, Wayne and Larry encounter unexpected challenges that push them to their limits.
Will the elves be able to guide Dasher, Dancer and the rest of the reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh through a raging snowstorm to ensure a Merry Christmas for all?"

After watching the videos below, i'm totally positive that Prep and Landing will be a great animated movie, now it's your turn to discover them!

In this next behind the scenes video John Lasseter and Prep and Landing animators tell us more on the making of this great animated movie.

As i've said, Prep and Landing is released December 1st on ABC, so if where you are living you're able to watch it, don't miss it! In the meantime you can watch more short videos on the ABC web site HERE.

Pictures and videos: copyright Disney

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

D&M Exclusive: The Michael Jackson's Peter Pan's Neverland Theme Park that never was

Unless you live on another planet, you probably know that last week was another "Michael Jackson week". The "This Is it" documentary and CD album were released and a major Michael Jackson exhibition opened last Tuesday in London. I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce to you one of Michael's most secret - and really fantastic - projects: the Peter Pan's Neverland theme park that never was.

Let's first go back in time to 1997, when Michael Jackson and Prince Al-Waleed - Disneyland Paris' biggest private stock-holder - created a company called Kingdom Entertainment and purchased 50% of Landmark Entertainment, giving the company a huge infusion of cash. Prince Al-Waleed had 45% and Michael had 5% of the shares. I remind you that Landmark is the famous company directed by Gary Goddard which created the Spider-Man ride at IOA and the Jurassic Park and Terminator 3D attractions at Universal Studios.

Above: Michael Jackson and Prince Al Waleed during the press conference announcing the creation of Kingdom Entertainment Co. I've aded the video of this press conference at the end of the article.

So, what had to happen happened, Michael asked Landmark if they could design a theme park, a real one, not only for him but a park where anybody could go, just like Disneyland. And this theme park would have been named Peter Pan's Neverland! Here is a bird's eye view of the park - please double-click on the image below to see it in big size.

This first concept is amazing, isn't it? Fully inspired from Peter Pan's story, the park would have started with a grand London entrance, as you can see on the artwork below.

A replica of Kensington Gardens, where anyone can see the famous Peter Pan statue, as well as Big Ben and the House of Parliaments in the background, not to mention horse guards at the entrance, all of which would have set a stunning replica of the Victorian city.

Here is another artwork showing this entrance by Greg Pro.

From that point guests were supposed to go to Neverland Island, and Landmark designers had designed two different way to go there, both of which were attractions. The first one, which would definitely have been an E-Ticket attraction, was... to fly to Neverland! As you can see on the artwork below, the take-of was over London, with a fly over Big Ben and other famous London landmarks like the Tower Bridge (note that on the artwork Big Ben and the Tower Bridge are close together but two miles separate them in reality) and then, lead by Tinkerbell, they would fly all over Neverland, the Mermaid Lagoon and Skull Rock and finally land near the Lost Boys home and woods.

And how would Landmark have achieved this wonder, you ask? First, no, the ride was not designed like Soarin' over California - which, by the way, was not built at that time. Instead, guests would have sat on a platform which would have turned down on a 50 degrees angle, a bit less than on the "flying" coasters, and the movie would have been projected on a huge Omnimax dome located under the platform, giving to the guests the illusion of flying over London and Neverland! What a great ride it would have been!

The other way to reach Neverland would have been by boat. During this short boat ride the boat would have go through mysterious caves before arriving to Neverland Island with its lush vegetation and waterfalls.

Once at Neverland, guests would have had the choice of six different areas:

"Lost Boys area" would have been a fun play area for young kids with slides, jumping fountains, a tree house but also a great roller-coaster with tracks going all over the land.

In "Mermaid Lagoon" guests would have had the choice between a boat ride going through Neverland Island caves or to enjoy a meal at a beautiful restaurant located underground with a huge window looking towards the lagoon where a Mermaid show was envisioned. Close to Mermaid Lagoon, the "Indian Village" would have been another area of Neverland where a raft ride was envisioned.

On the other side of the huge Neverland rock, guests would have find "Pixie Kingdom", a great area for young children with giant mushrooms playground and re-themed carnival rides.

Another major area - not so far from Pixie Kingdom - would have been the Pirates village with Skull Rock nearby as well as Captain Hook's ship.

It's there where guests could have watch a great live action show, including a flying Peter Pan fighting his eternal ennemy, Captain Hook. And of course the Crocodile was part of the show.

You may also have noticed that in this first concept three hotels were envisioned: a London hotel, a "Pirate's Cove" hotel and a "Lost Boys Tree top" Hotel. As we will see now, the project had significant changes in its final version.

This next document below is another map of the Peter Pan's Neverland park, actually it's the conceptual master plan. Drawn May 24, 1999 at a scale of 1" = 60' it shows a more advanced project with new attractions and also backstage facilities. Let's have a look again at the whole park to see the differences with the first concept.

First, the three hotels are gone, instead we have one big hotel facing the lake of the London Town area. Located near the entrance, a bit like the Disneyland Paris Hotel it would have allowed the hotel guests to have a unique view on the Neverland park.

In the London Town area, always located at the entrance, Big Ben is still there, but a replica of London's famous Tower Bridge was added. Also, a bigger Kensington Gardens at the entrance and a music hall dinner show in one of the main building on the right.
Inside the House of Parliament replica, a new show: "Salute to J.M Barrie", the creator of Peter Pan. Right on the other side of the Tower Bridge an indoor coaster as well as a 3D simulator theater were also envisioned.

In Pirate's Cove a Pirates Dinner show, another indoor roller coaster and a Pirates stunt show in front of Skull Rock were added. Also envisioned, a lagoon show, probably in the evening.

In Pixie Kingdom, the main difference with the first concept is a big building for a Pixie World dark ride. On the top of the picture below, what seems to be a inverted roller coaster would have had its entrance in a new land "Future Zone".

Lost Boys area always have its roller coaster running all over the land and even inside Neverland mountain, and as you can see below, Future Zone was located at the top with not only the inverted roller coaster but also a smaller coaster and a simulator ride.

In Mermaid's Lagoon, an underwater simulator was added to the first concept and a new area - Kid's Creek - was designed for young children with playground and water fun including small boats.

Peter Pan's Neverland was not designed to be as big as Disneyland, but it certainly would have been a great theme park where all the "Peter Pans" living on this planet would have rush!

So what happened? Why this Peter Pan's Neverland theme park was never built? Well, some years later, Michael Jackson and Prince Al-Waleed ended their association, and considering the cost of a concept like this one, it was very unfortunately the end of the Peter Pan's Neverland project. Although Michael lived in his Neverland Ranch, he never got to walk in this "real" Neverland. However, years later, Landmark designed for Michael a great statue showing Michael as Peter Pan!

Does this mean that we will never see this great park concept become real one day? Who knows, with all the different Michael Jackson celebrations that will happen in years to come - not to mention that Neverland Ranch could become for Michael Jackson's fans what Graceland is to Presley's fans - maybe somebody who has enough money will find, just like we do, that it would be great to build this Peter Pan's Neverland for real? And, hey, there is plenty of land available inside Neverland Ranch. Who could imagine a better place to build Michael's dearest dream?

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

Artwork: copyright Landmark Entertainment Group, and Gary Goddard

Please do NOT post these artworks on other web sites or forums without asking permission, thanks.

Many thanks to Gary Goddard for the park's description and to Eric Wong for the pictures. Thanks to Nate Walz for the editing of this article.

Also, I've already let you know about it in a previous article, but i would like to remind you that most of the Landmark Entertainment old artwork is actually put on sale on two sites - but NOT the Neverland park artwork you saw in this article. The first site is the Landmark Selections site and the other one is on where they have their own Landmark artwork store.

Edited Nov 7: Here is a rare video of the 1996 press conference where Michael Jackson and Prince Al Waleed announced the creation of their Kingdom Entertainment Co.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bob Iger announces that Shanghaî Disneyland has been officially approved by Beijing Central Government !

The day we were waiting for has come! Yes, it's now official, Beijing Central government has officially approved the Shanghaî Disneyland project!

An excellent New York Times article will give you more details about it, but first, the WDC official press release:


BURBANK, Calif. – November 3, 2009 – The Walt Disney Company today announced that the Project Application Report (PAR) for a Disney theme park in the Pudong district of Shanghai has received approval from the relevant authorities of the central government of China.

"China is one of the most dynamic, exciting and important countries in the world, and this approval marks a very significant milestone for The Walt Disney Company in mainland China," said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

The PAR approval will enable Disney and its Shanghai partners to move forward toward a final agreement to build and operate the park and begin preliminary development work. Upon completion of the final agreement, the project's initial phase would include a Magic Kingdom-style theme park with characteristics tailored to the Shanghai region and other amenities consistent with Disney's destination resorts worldwide.

About The Walt Disney Company China

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a diversified international family entertainment enterprise with five business segments and is a Dow 30 company with revenues of nearly $38 billion in its most recently reported fiscal year. Our first animation screened in China in the 1930s and today our long association continues with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou with over 600 employees."

And today, the Shanghai municipal government confirmed that the Chinese government officially approved the Shanghai Disneyland Project, so it is now confirmed from both sides.

Now, i'm not sure we can expect the first Shanghaî Disneyland artwork tomorrow as it seems that the park concept still may have some changes, but the NYT article confirms some points i have been told like the fact that Shanghaî Disneyland Magic Kingdom will of course have WDI classic rides but also new rides that will "incorporate Chinese stories and history".

Always from the NYT: "The initial resort, with a mix of shopping areas, hotels and a Magic Kingdom-style theme park, will sprawl across 1,000 acres of the city’s Pudong district — with the theme park occupying about 100 of those acres. It would be a little bigger than Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., and on par with the parks in Paris and Tokyo. It is expected to open in five or six years".

A park as big as the one we have in Paris or in Tokyo, that's what i call a real theme park, and obviously WDI Imagineers will have plenty of land to create a park that will amaze the guests. All we have to do now is to be a little bit more patient for the details which hopefully will be revealed soon.

And what Hong Kong Disneyland think about all this today? As you'll see, the announcement was received with mixed feelings:

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Managing Director Andrew Kam said the announcement marked "another significant step for Disney" in China, an important and dynamic market.
"We at Hong Kong Disneyland are focused on getting our exciting project underway as soon as possible," he said, referring to an expansion project on Hong Kong Disneyland.

Margaret Fong, commissioner for tourism, said she was confident that the Hong Kong Disneyland will remain attractive and competitive, adding that the Hong Kong park attracts visitors from not only mainland but also southeast Asia and other places.
Local business people and visitors said they expected the desire for the Chinese mainland visitors to visit Hong Kong Disneyland to be reduced but the Hong Kong park, with some unique attractions, should remain attractive to visitors from nearby."

BUT "News that Shanghai is to have its own Disneyland theme park was greeted Wednesday with mixed feelings in Hong Kong. Tourism chiefs felt the Shanghai park would not adversely affect Hong Kong Disneyland while others felt it was bad news for the park, which has been dogged by controversy since it opened in September 2005.

However, Democratic Party vice chairwoman Emily Lau said the Shanghai park was bad news for Hong Kong. Speaking on government radio RTHK, Lau said: "This will deal a very devastating blow to the Hong Kong theme park. I have said so in Legco [the Legislative Council] for some time".

"The original decision to put the theme park here was a big mistake,' she added. 'We have committed tens of billions of dollars, and now I just don't know how we will recoup that money". The Hong Kong government has encountered strong criticism for shouldering most of the cost of the park.

China's huge market is capable of supporting two Disneyland theme parks, Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Rita Lau says, adding Disneyland theme parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai could cooperate for mutual benefits. In response to Walt Disney's plan to build a theme park in Shanghai, Mrs Lau today said the theme parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong could complement each other, creating more benefits for the two cities.

Noting Hong Kong Disneyland's expansion plan has been finalised, she said the work will start by the end of the year and the new theme areas will come on stream in phases in the next few years. The secretary said Hong Kong will continue to develop new tourist attractions, citing the Hong Kong National Geopark as an example. Mrs Lau said Hong Kong's geographic location allows it to cooperate with other places to develop more diversified tourism products, including cruise tourism services and multi-destination itineraries. The Government will work on this with concerned parties.

In the meantime, let me know what you think of this awaited announcement in the comments or on the D&M english forum on Mice Chat

Picture: copyright Disney
Editor's Note: Two great topics today with the third part of my tribute to Tim Delaney and all the pictures of tonight "A Christmas Carol" world premiere in London!
Important Note: Remember this "scoop" article i was supposed to post last week? Well, i finally received the pictures i was waiting for and - except if there is a Shanghaî announcement tomorrow morning - i will post it tomorrow wednesday!
I keep the surprise but i can tell you that what i will tell and show you is never seen before.....and no, it's not a Disney project!...although the theme is somewhat closely related with the Disney universe... Enough talk for now, see you tomorrow!

" A Christmas Carol " World Premiere in London

Tonight, the World Premiere of A Christmas Carol happened in London. As a matter of fact, at the time i'm writing this article the Premiere is still going on, but D&M have already all the pictures for you - and they're all in high-res size!

The event was located at the Odeon Leicester square, London's legendary theatre and it loks like London's Leicester Square was back to the Victorian era. Children and performers of all ages were dressed in victorian costumes...

As you can see the Victorian "theming" of the evening was great. On stage, carol singers performed along with Andrea Bocelli, the famous blind singer.

On the red carpet, the cast of A Christmas Carol was there: Jim Carrey, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Director Robert Zemeckis - all with their lovely wives - and Disney CEO Bob Iger was there, too!

Well, it looks that it was a nice evening, wasn't it?

Tomorrow, you'll see why, we will be back in London!

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

All pictures: copyright Getty Images

A Grand Tribute to Tim Delaney - Part Three: HKDL Tomorrowland - Exclusive Interview

Today, here is the third part of my tribute to Tim Delaney. In this exclusive interview Tim talks about the design of Hong Kong Disneyland's Tomorrowland as Tim was the show producer of this land. As we know, Tim Delaney was previously the show producer of Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris and for Paradise Pier at California Adventure. Please note that this interview was done for the opening of HKDL, before the opening of Autopia and Stitch encounter.

Alain Littaye: Tim, as we know, you were the show producer of Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris. At DLP the theme of Discoveryland was supposed to be the land of visionaries, and here in Hong Kong the theme is probably different. So, what is the story line of Hong Kong Disneyland’s Tomorrowland ?

Tim Delaney: Well, we wanted to create here something totally different, our biggest challenge was how to create something that is not only tomorrow, but also something that is timeless. So, we took the theme in this particular case of a “spaceport”. All of our attractions relate to space travels: we have Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, the Orbitron - this last one with a totally different style than the one at DLP.

The picture below showsa previous sketch for a Tomorrowland concept finally not chosen.

T.D : So we took the idea of a space port ,we have different style of’s a kind of space encampment, a space port where you go when you journey to other planets. We have two very large restaurants, the big restaurant called “starliner diner” have a rocket ship in the front and it’s a place where you go before you go in outer space: there is big posters of space travel inside, we have rockets, etc...this is a place where you go to have lunch and food before you go up to your journey into space mountain and buzz light year...It’s also one of the largest restaurant we ever built in a Tomorrowland with an incredible design

T.D: Throughout the land we’re using these motifs of these planets and an alien landscape to make you feel that you are in another world...You have to see the style of the buildings to see how it looks like. It’s not mean to look like in the fifties, like disneyland was in 1955, it has much more of an organic field to it. We are also using a lot of colours in the land, and the reason for that is that most of the time Hong Kong have grey skies and humid, so we wanted these colours to bring a kind of more of a familiar quality to our Tomorrowland. Secondly, about landscaping, we have a lot of landscaping in covered areas, so we create a sense of the future and tomorrow with more human kind of space.

A.L: I’m pretty sure the design with all these planets is probably beautiful at night...

T.D: It is magnificent, spectacular at night !

A.L: The Orbitron have a totally different look than the one built in Paris or Anaheim , and you have flying saucers instead of rocket jets ...

T.D: That’s right, we wanted to create an Orbitron in the center of the land that has more a kind of space-beacon look to it ...there is a very large eight meter diameter globe at the bottom, it has a starfield with fiber optics in it and the flying saucers fly around, and we still have a kind of planet kynetics, which are flying up above, and these flying saucers flying among all about. It is a very visual thing, a very powerful looking thing, and the colours are all different here. We took a whole different colour scheme because we wanted to make the colours much brighter, much "cooler" colours because it is so warming here most of the time.

T.D:...By the way , the 8 meter diameter globe also rotate and due to the painting technique, the whole land reflects in it and, with the fiber optics, it’s a map of the universe! That’s what it is, in fact. The kind of painting used for the globe is call Chromaship, it’s a special painting and what happens is that when the globe rotate the colour goes from a warm blue to a purple blue...

A.L: Talking about flying saucers, it reminds me the Eddie Sotto project for Tokyo Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. It was supposed to be called ”Sci-fi City” , and one of the attraction was supposed to be small flying saucers flying around a huge flying saucer.
So, are the flying saucers in your Orbitron a reminiscence of this previous project?

T.D: No, not really...i just start it all over again from scratch.

A.L: Anyway, it is a good idea to have change the usual rockets for these new flying saucers. About Space Mountain, does this new version have a particular storyline?

T.D: Our Space Mountain continue the overall theme that is your amazing adventure in outer space. We have new effects, new images, the ride system is smooth and fast, and, as you know they’ve re-done space mountain in paris and the one at disneyland, too. And every time we do this we have new effects, new projectors, new imaging devices,etc... And, here in hong kong, we have the latest one, and they’re brilliant. We don’t really have an overall strong story, but we do have a very strong theme and it’s a really great effects show. And the reaction of the guests here is fantastic.
In fact, talking about effects, there is one effect that you have in paris, and that we have, here: it’s the explosion of a super-nova. But in a completely different format.

A.L: What about Buzz Lightyear? I supposed it’s the same ride that we can find in Anaheim or WDW?

T.D: It’s very similar to the one in Disneyland. But we have a totally different entrance for the attraction: we have a 12 foot monumental, kind of “heroic” Buzz Lightyear standing up in the front, and it’s a great photo location... and the ride is as great as in the U.S, of course. It’s amazing how people love this ride, really. And i've heard they’re going to add some internet competition, so people on internet can compete with people on the ride.

A.L: Do you have a kind of big theater like we have in Paris with “Videopolis”?

T.D: We have two large theater in the park, one in Adventureland, and one in Fantasyland, but not in tomorrowland this time!

A.L: Are you going to add more attractions in the “phase two” of the park?

T.D: We are currently designing and actually we are under construction for one more major attraction and two more minor attractions that will open in july of next year. We’ll have a totally unique and different Autopia than the one you have in Paris. We’ll have electric cars, with lighting effects on the cars, a different kind of unique on-board audio-system, and the landscape that you will go through is much more like an alien landscape, another planet kind of landscape... It will really be a fun drive, and actually we’ll also have one of the roadways who comes into the land , because most of the Autopia will be beyond the railroad, so part of the road will come into the land on an elevated highway and returns back down to the location of the attraction, so it really showcases the ride to the people in the land. And people will be able to walk underneath this elevated roadway that you see the cars are going by.

A.L: Do you think you will have later an attraction themed on the pixar movie “the incredibles”?

T.D: No, right now we’re not doing anything on the “Incredibles” theme for Hong Kong.
Before we leave, i’d like to tell you that the whole resort here is impressive, the location is great, the hotels are beautiful, the “Disney promenade” from the hotels to the park is charming, and these hills in the background behind the castle...i really think it really is the best location we ever had for a Magic Kingdom!

I have added below two youtube videos, one of Tomorrowland at night, and one of the Autopia ride!

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

Photos: copyright Disney and, for some of Autopia, Alain Littaye