Saturday, February 5, 2011

The sum of little effects creates a great ride

When i saw two days ago this video of a new "fake fire" invention, i instantly thought at the upcoming Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction. I'm going to explain you why in a few seconds but, first, i suppose that you know how WDI Imagineers can be expert in creating a fire illusion, the most known fake fire created by WDI wizards is probably the one of the Burning City scene in Pirates of Caribbean - see picture below coming from the excellennt Daveland web site.

As for obvious security reasons it's out of question to have a real fire in dark ride scenes WDI Imagineers found a lot of ways to create a fake fire but this new one created by GlammFire is one of the best i ever seen - if it's just as good in real as it is on the video. If you throw your iPhone into this fire - which looks pretty real - it will never burn because the fire, as i've said, is fake.

Have a look at this short video first and then i will tell you why WDI Imagineers might be interested by it.

Not that bad for a fake fire, isn't it? The fireplace, called Zen Fireplace, is made by GlammFire and creates a fake 3D fire by combining water vapour and LEDs embedded in the ceramic “wood” logs. The fireplace controls the flickering lights and water vapour to create the most realistic fake fireplace possible.

Here is what GlammFire is saying about it on their site: "Featuring an innovative 3D eco-friendly technology, the new ZEN Fireplace by GlammFire ensures a simple and safe use by applying an efficient operability of a water vapour release system.The result achieved is a virtual flame that looks and feels remarkably realistic at any distance. The inner works of this piece combines LEDS embedded in ceramic made, wood logs and water vapor to simulate smoke. The system regulates also the intensity of the lights to the emission of the vapor to deliver a realistic aspect of a real wood fireplace".

So, why did i thought about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction? Well, as you probably saw on the new Fantasyland artwork, the Dwarfs cottage is part of the ride. And, generally this kind of place usually have a fireplace, with a fire in it. As you can see on the artwork at the top there is even smoke coming out of the chimney. And as we know, there is no smoke without fire...

It's not totally clear yet if the house will be only a walkthrough for Magic Kingdom guests or if the coaster train will enter in the cottage but in both cases if WDI Imagineers needs to give a realistic illusion of fire in the seven dwarfs cottage fireplace this new fake fire developped by GlammFire might be exactly what they are looking for. A fake fire in a fireplace is indeed a little effect, but we must not forget that it's the sum of all the little effects which helps to create a great attraction.

Video: copyright GlammFire

Real Adventureland : Not related with Disney, but don't miss this !

I have sometime non-Disney topic for the week-end and, although the video below released this week is not related with Disney, don't miss it as what you will see is extremely rare.

The BBC was invited by Brazilian director of Indians affairs Dept Jose Mereilles to fly over Amazonia to discover and film a tribe which has NEVER been in contact with the rest of the world. In two words, there is still on this planet tribes living in primeval forest which are still unknown, which is pretty remarkable considering the "global world" we're living in.

No physical contact was made with them as it might be extremely dangerous as a simple flu virus may kill all the tribe. Jose Mereilles who is fighting for their protection invited the BBC crew to film them to have a proof that uncontacted tribes still really exist in Amazonia jungle at the border of Peru and Brazil.

This beautiful short video - in english and even french subtitles for my french readers - is narrated by Gillian Anderson and this preserved-from-the-outside-world tribe may remind you the one in "Avatar" as, just like in James Cameron's movie, they try to escape the illegal loggers which invades from the Peru side of the border to destroy the Amazon forest. You can learn more about how to help to protect the Indians HERE or HERE. One last thing: definitely watch the video in full screen mode!

In this next video, filmed previously, another Indian tribe who have been in contact with the "outside world" will tell you the danger and dramatic consequences of "first contact" for these uncontacted tribes. To know more about why they are hiding in the Amazon forest please go HERE.

Video: copyright BBC

Friday, February 4, 2011

Editor's Note: Al Lutz on Miceage reveals today that Disney is preparing a big Shanghaî Disneyland media announcement and official groundbreaking ceremony which will be held on SDL property the first week of April. Great news, as this means that in two months from now we should finally see some of the highly awaited Shanghaî Disneyland artwork!

Cute "Star Wars" TV ad to be unveiled during 2011 Super Bowl

Here is something cute and fun for this Super Bowl week-end. And as we talked about Star Tours 2 this week, it fits perfectly. What? you ask, where is the link between the Star Wars universe and the 2011 Super Bowl where the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers will fight for the ultimate trophy of America's most watch sports event of the year?

Well, the link is this new Volkswagen TV Ad which will be aired Sunday in the CowBoy Stadium, Arlington, Texas to promote the new 2012 Volkswagen Passat. It's cute and well done, and because you're on Disney and more you won't have to wait until Sunday to discover it, so go ahead, click below!

Video: copyright Volkswagen

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Discover the Space Center, fantastic indoor theme park in Bremen, Germany

Today, this article will let you know everything about a great indoor theme park - the Space Center Bremen in Germany. A theme park with fantastic theming, that you would have loved instantly. Why “would” ? Because, nine months after its opening, the Space Center closed its doors....and, very unfortunately, will never re-open. I will explain why below, but let’s begin first by the beginning.

So, in 2004, exactly four years ago, a new European theme park opened in Bremen, a town on the north Germany (where some of Europe's space industry is located). Called "Space Center Bremen", this brand new attraction was Europe's largest indoor theme park - 70,000 square feet!

And guess who was the show-producer of Space Center Bremen? Bill Gorgensen. And who is Bill Gorgensen?, you ask. Well, Bill - photo below - worked for many years for the Walt Disney Company in their Imagineering division. Gorgensen was associate show producer with Chris Tietz on the Adventureland section of the Disneyland Paris theme park. He supervised the creation of DLP's "Pirates of Caribbean." And - outside the theme park - Bill helped to create the resort's Disney village area - the "Downtown Disney" of Disneyland Paris. Bill Gorgensen is a man who is well known in themed entertainment circles for delivering a top quality product.

"So what's the back story on Space Center Bremen?" you query. Well, the original idea for the park came from a German nuclear physician, Dr Wilke - photo below. Which is perhaps why the entrance area of the theme park is played very straight. With a 200 foot high mock-up of the Ariane rocket towering overhead and replicas of Spoutnik on display nearby.
But don't let those displays of old spacesuits fool you. Space Center Bremen was a real theme park. One that's loaded with thrill rides, a 4D movie, simulators, an interactive dark ride as well as a brand new roller coaster featuring state-of-the-art technology! Plus licensed attractions like "Star Trek: Borg Encounter" and "Star Gate SG 3000."

At first glance, the exterior of the Space Center Bremen building looked like a fairly standard structure. Until you notice that the shape of the building's walls look very much like the exterior of a spaceship.

This seemingly insignificant detail actually has some importance. For it's all part of Space Center Bremen's "inside story." In fact, the "back story" of SCB is that the building that the theme park is housed in was actually supposed to be this giant space ship in which "windows" are open to various different time periods: For example, the "Star Gate" window was supposed to allow you to "enter" the year 3000, the "Star Trek" window allows you access to 2400, etc.

Getting back to the theme park's entrance: As soon as you saw this, you just knew that Space Center Bremen was going to be great. Giant boosters welcomed you with light and sound to the Futuristic Corridor - a kind of "Main Street U.S.A." - which leads to the Quantum Turbine and the giant Cosmosphere, the icon of Space Center Bremen.

The Quantum Turbine was a place where images from the conquest of space that have taken place over the past few centuries could be seen. This was the section of the theme park that supposedly "transports" guests into the space time continuum of the Cosmosphere.

All along the Futuristic Corridor, the theming, music and lightning was all "Disney quality-like" and the use of this interior space was wonderful.

Here is a first movie which is a long travelling from the entrance to the Quantum Turbine, and going through the "Mission control" area till the central hub. Please note that all videos were shot by me in 2004 with a non-HD camera so the quality is more low-res than high-res. Still, it's the only way to discover this now extinct wonderful theme park. Don't hesitate, too, to click on each picture to see them in high-res size!

This part of Space Center Bremen, leading up to the park's giant hub and the Cosmosphere was so well done, it would have easily fit in Epcot. Each half hour, the space ship's giant computer presented an elaborate and dazzling laser light and sound show. This whole part of the theme park was a real E Ticket. Here is a rendering of it...

...two photos of the central sphere show...

And a movie of the whole show !

Also along the Futuristic Corridor, was the entrance to "Mission Control," a place where you could have watch - live - the launch of the next Ariane rocket or locate the exact position of the International Space station (which is orbiting high above the Earth).

From here, guests entered the theme park's IMAX theatre. Where you could watch an edited down version of the recent IMAX film that was shot on the space station - narrated by Tom Cruise. This film - which was shot in 3D - features some wonderful effects as well as some just plain amazing views of the Earth.

Then you arrived at Space Center Bremen's "Hub," where the theme park's guests had the choice of visiting four different time periods. Let's start with the first one on the right, "Moon Base One." After entering a replica of the Space Station corridor, you arrived on the moon base where there were four attractions to choose from.

"Moon Base One's" main attraction was "Galaxy Express," an indoor roller coaster that features new technology. On this unique virtual reality adventure, guests could take a high-speed ride along a track that travels through the entire Space Center. As they journey through this attraction, guests - as they were well seated in their train - wear a kind of helmet..

Which allows them to see CGI movie that visually propels the guest through the infinite vastness of the universe. This clever combination of real coaster movement synchronized to computer generated imagery really plays tricks on your body and your mind. It makes regular roller-coaster speed seem like the speed of light, every curve becomes a desperate, last minute, planet-evasion maneuver. "Galaxy Express" may be a bit short in length, but it was a great new coaster experience.

On "Moon Base One," younger members of the family could experienced what it was like to be space travelers by visiting the "Moon Playground" for kids. At the "Destination Moon" attraction, you were able to see what the Earth looks like from the Moon through a beautiful and emotional 6-minute-long film.

Have a look to the two next movies, and discover the "Destination Moon" movie, and the "Moon Base One"

On the interactive "Robot Rescue" ride, guests travelled in lunar vehicles through a deuterium-3 mine. Your mission was to reboot all the robots that you saw in the mine (which have been stricken with a mysterious virus) by firing at them with your laser beam. It was cute, but fun.

Space Center Bremen's next "land" .... Oops! I mean next "stop" was "Planet Quest". This was a dark ride that was loaded with 3D screens. Its storyline supposedly recreates a trip into an unknown world. What I liked best about this ride is that it had a kind-of "Adventure through Inner Space" feeling, that old beloved Disneyland attraction.
Not that "Planet Quest" looks or feels "old," mind you. Far from it. Here you have a ride that was supposed to be this pseudo-serious scientific exploration of extra-terrestrial worlds, similar to "JTIS"'s somewhat serious trip through inner space. But here you had perfect 3D effects that "follow" the movement of your vehicle (Similar to what happens when you're riding through "The Amazing Spiderman" attraction at Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure). Admittedly, the show's story was a bit jumbled and somewhat hard to understand. But - what with "Planet Quest"'s excellent 3D sequences as well as the ride's great post-show were - this Space Center Bremen area was well worth a look see.

You can discover the whole Planet Quest ride on this video below - sorry, the 3D glasses are not provided!

Okay, now it's time to talk about the theme park's two licensed attractions. First up was "Star Gate SG 3000." Making its world premiere here at the Space Center Bremen park, "Stargate SG-3000" was inspired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios' TV-series, "Stargate SG-1." After a pre-show in a room which features the famous "Star Gate", guests then walked in one of the three high-tech simulators. 35 guests at a time experienced what happens when a gateway opens to various different dimensions.

The realization of this attraction was not based merely on various visual themes. But - rather - the visitors were completely immersed in the world of "Stargate SG-1." So, Space Center Bremen visitors were caught up in a race to get the Stargate key from the low-down Satra, a character specially created for the "Stargate SG-3000" experience.

Need to sit down and grab a quick snack before your next out-of-this-world adventure. Then you could eat at Bistro 3000, a wonderfully themed restaurant that seats over 450 and featured various show kitchens. A variety of good and not-very-expensive fare was offered there - everything from hamburgers to pasta to oriental food. The futuristic theming decor of Bistro 3000 was really great. And - given that this restaurant was right next door to the Cosmosphere - you often got a laser light show (featuring "liquid architecture" and changing light projections) while you dine.

Have a closer look to the Space Center restaurant area on the video below!

Next up was the "Star Trek: Borg Encounter" attraction. This one was Space Station Bremen's real good E-ticket. Your journey started aboard the U.S.S. Voyager (a pretty impressive pre-show unto itself). The next thing you knew, the starship that you were on was under attack by the Borg. So it was time to board one of Voyager's large shuttle craft in an effort to escape.

This 250 seat theatre was absolutely wonderfully designed. And - because you were supposed to be inside a shuttle - some of the members of Voyager's crew actually participated in the show.

This "4D" movie was absolutely great for any "Star Trek" lover. The attraction's 3D effects worked well and the in-theatre special effects (mainly in your seat) were just as good as any you find at a Disney or Universal theme park. (FYI: Space Center Bremen's "Star Trek: Borg Encounter" film is being produced by Paramount Pictures. This attraction is an exact copy of the ride film that is now at the Las Vegas Hilton. It was designed by Herman Zimmerman, the well-known production designer for "Star Trek".)

Space Center Bremen sounds pretty impressive so far, doesn't it? Well, wait. I'm not finished yet. There's still one attraction that you had to experience at this theme park. One that's actually located outside of this highly themed indoor attraction. Yes, I know. Space Center Bremen was supposed to be an indoor theme park. But this last ride was just too big to fit inside the building!

Close - just 5 meters away - from the giant Ariane rocket near the building's entrance, the "Space Shot" ride catapulted theme park guests 65 meters straight up, exposing them to a force of four G's. Then -- suddenly - "Space Shot" stopped. Which was when the guests experience free fall. Weightlessness for just under two seconds. Then your "space capsule" glides safely back down back to Earth.

"And how much did this amazing indoor theme park cost?" you ask. $250 Millions. No kidding. Of which at least $120 million was spent in the building itself.
All in all, Space Center Bremen was a great way to spend a day...and it was successful! 500.000 visitors enjoyed it during the 9 months when it was opened. Including legendary imagineer Tony Baxter and some of Disneyland Paris imagineers who came to discover this new indoor theme park. In fact, Tony was even impressed by the quality of the theming.

So, what happened, why this wonderful indoor theme park closed just nine months after its opening? Well, that happened for various reasons. First, a shopping center was attached to it, but no shops opened. Two, there was a misunderstanding in the area as to what it was. Most thought it was a Science Center, so there was little local support. Three, the state and banks wanted 1.5 million visitors in the first year and, when there wasn't, because of the shopping center, there was a disappointment factor. Four, it had more castmembers than needed so the overheads were larger than necessary.
Five, there was next to no awareness in the surrounding cities that Space Center existed. And, six, Some say it was just in the wrong place. All this finally killed the Space Center, and there is no chance at all, now, that it may re-open again.
It’s really a pity, because all of you would have loved it. Some of the attractions could have been improved, but the whole park was great. It’s a sad story, i know, but sometime this can happen. So, if you didn’t looked to the videos above yet, do it now, because they are your last chance to have a glimpse at this wonderful Space Center Bremen!

Photos: copyright Space Center Bremen and Alain Littaye

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Star Tours 2 : C3PO meets Georges Lucas in Starspeeder 1000

Although a previous picture of C3PO was released some months ago this new one shot at Disneyland give us a better idea of his dimensions, where as the new Starspeeder 1000 pilot he will sit, and all this with his creator standing next to him - Georges Lucas himself!

Talking about Star Tours 2, do you know that Disneyland Paris didn't announced yet any plans to "upgrade" Discoveryland's Star Tours to Star Tours 2? And it is DLP 20th Anniversary next year! To be honest, considering that WDI Imagineers need 9 months only to transform the attraction DLP executives still have some time to make their final choice and to give the green light to begin the works. We'll see...

Picture: copyright Disney
Editor's Note: Did you ever dreamed to transform your home in a "Nautilus"?
Well, legendary Nautilus specialist and WDI Imagineer Tom Scherman did it in the 1960's and we found back his one-of-a-kind scrap book describing the different steps with great pictures! An extremely rare document, don't miss it, right after the new Disneyland visual!

New Cool Disneyland Visual

There is a new Disneyland visual which has been released and i think it's a pretty cool one. The visual includes the most famous attractions and characters and even the vehicle of an attraction which is not open yet, i.e the Little Mermaid ride. It reminds me - probably because of the colors, specially the "blue" - the visual style of the 1950-60's.

Here it is in big resolution and if you want to see the cool merchandise products that DL will produce with it, have a look at the Disney Parks blog HERE.

Picture: copyright Disney

Tom Scherman's Submarine Apartment

Thanks to Rowland Scherman and Dave Scherman - Tom's brothers - you will discover today a very rare document, Tom's scrap book that he did when he created a Nautilus decor in his Los Angeles apartment in 1966. Only one copy of this book exists, the one that Tom did to keep pictures of the whole transformation from the renderings to the final result.

From the cover to the last page of this fantastic document, each page of Tom's book is here. And I also did scans of each page most interesting pictures. You must click on each picture to see them in big size as Tom himself details each step of this amazing creation.

Pictures: copyright Tom Scherman & Rowland Scherman. No reproduction of these pictures is allowed and they can't be posted on other web sites without prior authorization.