Friday, February 18, 2011

First Shanghaî Disneyland concept-art - and why Disney don't want you to see too clearly this awaited theme park

Yesterday, Tom Staggs did his presentation on the future of Disney parks and resorts at the Walt Disney company's 2011 investor's conference and the first Shanghaî Disneyland concept-art was shown to the attendees. Since then, the whole Disney fans blogosphere is buzzing about it, trying to see more clearly in the vain as this Shanghaî Disneyland bird's eye view is almost "undecipherable" if you're not a WDI Imagineer!

Still, we're going to try to guess what is what in this first artwork, but it's true that it's the first time that i see a WDI project bird's eye view so difficult to understand. If we take, for instance, the one released for Animal Kingdom - picture below - at least it was possible to see clearly the different lands, where was the entrance, the different buildings, etc... In this SDL concept-art it's not the case and there is a good reason why Disney don't want us to see too clearly the SDL project and i will tell you why in a few seconds.

But first, let's try to see more clearly in the artwork - just for the pleasure to guess as there is big chances that i might be wrong! The picture on the top and below has been enlarged by me - so click to see them in big size - and although the original definition was not sharp enough here is what we can see: on the bottom right i think we have an avenue leading to the park's entrance where SDL guests should find a fountain before entering the park. Always on the bottom right, right before this avenue we can see what looks like giant flowers/mushrooms... Could it be a kind of SDL "Downtown Disney" or like DLP's Disney Village?

Let's come back to the park where a Mickey's face silhouette seems to be located at the entrance... The SDL castle, although not clearly visible, is on the artwork, right under - as usual - the fireworks. Obviously there is a lot of water in this park - which is good - and on the land on the right we can see a kind of mountain with what seems to be a big drop. Did they put in SDL the new Pirates of Caribbean version designed by Tim Delaney which was first envisioned for HKDL? Also, no train track seems to be visible on the artwork. Would it mean that SDL will not have a train going around the park?

Many questions remains to be answered and the best is probably to don't try to find in this artwork the usual iconic attractions like Space Mountain, Big Thunder, etc...which doesn't mean they are not include in the project but from what we know WDI Imagineers designed a park really different than what we've ever seen before. For instance, as it was revealed by an Imagineer during the D23 members private visit of WDI last December "there will be no Main Street" in this park. So, don't waste your time to try to find it on the artwork.

Let's talk now about the reason why Disney don't want us to see too clearly how will look this awaited theme park. Well, you see, it's not to YOU, Disney fan, that Disney wants to hide details of Shanghaî Disneyland, it's to some other people. From what i've been told what Disney REALLY wants to avoid by all means is to see SDL original concepts copied in others chineses theme parks before SDL opening. The truth is that Disney's biggest fear is to see cheap copy of SDL great ideas being built in cheap chinese theme parks. This is why you can't see clearly the castle on the artwork, and i'm curious to see if they will show it more clearly during the official presentation expected early April...not sure, though.

And you know what? I think they're right to be afraid of that. Considering how important in China the SDL project is, there is no doubt that some might want to use some of SDL concepts to make money out of it before SDL opening. As a matter of fact it happened in Tokyo when a park inspired by Disney concepts opened one year before Tokyo Disneyland opening - not sure that this park is still existing now...

Although i have the greater respect for chinese civilisation we all know how they can be good to copy almost anything and how nothing stops chineses to copy a concept when there is a lot of money to make out of it. And sometime they do very good copies! In this case i doubt that anyone will put the amount of money that Disney will put in SDL concepts but even a cheap version of them would be very destructive for the whole SDL project.

For all these reasons i'm afraid we might have to wait a bit more before Disney releases more detailed Shanghaî Disneyland artwork. Until then, the little game of what-is-what on this SDL concept-art will continue for all Disney fans!

All artwork: copyright Disney

Monday, February 14, 2011

When Indiana Jones Adventure will be build at Disneyland Paris ?

This is THE attraction that everybody is waiting for at DLP Magic Kingdom: Indiana Jones Adventure and the temple of the Forbidden Eye. Any DLP fans knows that the land to built the attraction is kept in Adventureland but they are waiting for the attraction since so many years that the hope to see it built some day is vanishing...

As you will see on the document below, WDI imagineers not only envisioned to build IJA at DLP, but they also did blueprints. Although this blueprint was probably done many years ago, when the park will finally decide to built the attraction - translate: when they will have the money to build it - you can be sure that WDI imagineers will be happy to bring this beloved attraction at DLP.

To tell the truth, all the WDI Imagineers that i've met agree on the fact that bringing Indiana Jones Adventure at DLP will be not only one of the best choice that DLP management could make, but also that it will be an instant hit among DLP visitors.
Yes, but...there is two problems: the first one is the price: Indiana Jones Adventure is a VERY expensive attraction to build, and the second problem is the maintenance cost of the attraction which is very high, too. And, as maintenance costs at DLP are already very high DLP execs are of course trying to avoid to increase them.

How much is the cost of Indiana Jones Adventure, you ask? Frankly, i don't know the real numbers, but not less than 150 millions of dollars, and probably more now. As i think that DLP is paying at WDI the new attractions in dollars, and although the change rate between the dollar and the euro changed the last two years, it's still a pretty good deal for the park's management to order at WDI an Indiana Jones Adventure. Of course, even with the favorable change IJA is still a very expensive ride but it would be so popular...

Anyway, let's come back to the document below where you will see that the facility envisioned for Indiana Jones Adventure at DLP's Adventureland will take a big part of the land still available, with its back wall close to the Pirates of Caribbean building. It seems, too, that the entrance will be through another small temple located in front of the "Temple du péril".

To give you a better idea, here is a satellite view of the park with the blueprint upon it. It's more easy to locate exactly where will be what, if some day the park build Indiana Jones Adventure.

Let's talk a bit now about the maintenance problem and, as you will see, it might give us an idea of when the attraction could be build. One the main maintenance problem have always been the IJA vehicles. Whether it's at Disneyland or at Disney Sea (where, i think, the cars are electric) they always had problems with them. I mean, real problems almost every day. Which means lot of (expensive) maintenance.

So, where is the solution? Well, you see, when Cars Land will open next year at DCA not only Radiator Springs Racer will be a major E-Ticket ride but the ride vehicle system invented by WDI will be a brand new one. AND, from what i've been told, IF this new ride system proves to be more reliable - and with less maintenance than IJA vehicles - THEN it will be envisioned again to bring Indiana Jones Adventure to DLP - and even to HKDL.

Knowing that Cars Land will open in 2012 and that they will need more or less one year to be sure that the new ride system is more reliable it would mean that no decision to "import" IJA at DLP will happen before 2013. Considering that WDI Imagineers needs two years to build Indiana Jones Adventure you'll understand that you better don't expect an Indiana Jones Adventure opening at DLP before 2015 - and this if DLP management takes his decision in 2013, which is not guaranteed.

I agree that there is a lot of "IF" in all this, but i wanted to explain to you in detail where is the problem - and where is the hope - so you won't waste your time waiting at DLP for this beautiful attraction before 2015 at the earliest.

Photos and document : copyright Disney

Tokyo Disney Sea Attraction Posters - Part Two

In this part two of Tokyo Disney Sea's Attraction Posters we will have a closer look to the visuals related to TDS Tower of Terror and above is the TOT attraction poster - sorry for the inevitable reflection in the glass. Also, part one of this TDS attraction posters article is HERE.

As you know, the TDS TOT version, located on the American Waterfront, has a different storyline not inspired by the Twilight Zone series as the TV series are not known or as popular in Japan as they are in the U.S and Europe. Instead, WDI Imagineers imagined a fictitious character named Harrison Hightower, adventurer, explorer, who bring back hundred of antiques from all around the world - and owner of the Hightower hotel. In the storyline Hightower disappeared a fateful night victim of the curse from the African statue Shiriki Utundu, stolen by him in Africa. By the way, you're probably aware of this already but i remind you that the face of Harrison Hightower is inspired by the one of WDI Imagineer Joe Rhode.

To help TDS guests to believe this amazing story many visuals elements are displayed by the "NYC Preservation Society" both inside and outside of the Tower of Terror. Outside, guests cas see fake old newspaper articles talking about Hightower expeditions, like this one below. Enlarge the picture to have a closer look at it.

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Another different one, shot at sunset.

Less known are these great fictitious pictures that guests can see inside the Hightower Hotel, always related to his "adventures". The one below refers to how Hightower learned the art of charming snakes in Bombay, in 1884!

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But my favorites are probably the visuals telated to the "Rajah's Pool", supposedly built inside the Hightower Hotel. The Rajah's Pool poster, below, looks great, doesn't it?

Same for this "old" 1895 Rajah's Pool picture which has a lot of charm.

Hope you enjoyed these Tokyo Disney Sea attraction posters articles, next week we'll be back to Tokyo Disney Resort on a different angle.

All pictures by Daniel Rous. Attraction Posters: copyright Disney Enterprises - Oriental Land Co.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tokyo Disney Sea Attractions Posters - Part One

Today's article will be all about Tokyo Disney Sea's attraction posters thanks to TDS pictures that my friend Daniel bring back from Japan. The attraction posters are always difficult to shoot as most of them are displayed behind a window glass and it's sometime difficult to avoid reflection but as usual i did my best to enhance the pictures and, most of all, all of them are in high-res!

Let's begin with Mysterious Island. Above is the 20000 Leagues attraction poster and below the one for Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Next one is the one for the Molly Brown, one of the boats from TDS Cape Cod.

The attraction poster below is the one for the Sindbad attraction in Arabian Coast.

Always at Arabian Coast, here is the poster for the Magic Lamp attraction.

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In Lost River Delta, the attraction poster of Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull.

In Port Discovery, the attraction poster for the Storm Rider attraction (sorry for the big reflection).

Inside the S.S Columbia TDS guests can now experience a "Turtle Talk with Crush" at the "Undersea Observatory".

There is more, as in the next part which is now online HERE you'll find great visuals from Tokyo Disney Sea's Tower of Terror!

All pictures by Daniel Rous. Attraction Posters: copyright Disney Enterprises - Oriental Land Co.

VERY BAD NEWS : The Disneyland Paris " From Sketch to Reality " book is now officially out of stock - Read below how to get one of the very last copy

This time, this is it, the DLP book is now officially out of stock everywhere whether it is at Disneyland Paris or at the publisher. The park informed me that they have no more copies in stock of the book whether it is the french or the english edition and the publisher, who also don't have any more copies, is not planning any reprint of the book, too.

The very last copies available are the last one i have and personally i still have only FOUR copies of the book in english version with NO dust jacket. The cover of the book itself is not in bad conditions, corners, for instance are okay, but they have some minor marks on the flat part of the cover. All the pages inside are in very good condition. These are the very last english copies available and the price for each copy is: 87 € + 15€ of flat shipping. Your copy will be sign by me, of course, as i am the author as you know.

EDITED: The four english copies without dust jacket are SOLD! Please scroll down to read about the last "perfect" copies.

If you want perfect copies, scroll down to the paragraph about french copies.

Here are pictures and more details about these english edition copies without dust jacket. All have marks whether it's on the front or on the back and i tell you where is what for each of them. Please enlarge each picture to see them well. If you are interested by one of them please let me know which copy "number" you want.

Copy No 1: COPY SOLD

Copy No 2: COPY SOLD.

Copy No 3: COPY SOLD - Another copy in not-so-bad condition: the front is okay, except a scratch on the very left and the back is in good condition with no marks or scratches. Corners are in good condition. Inside pages are in perfect condition.

Copy No 4: COPY SOLD

Now, If you want a totally perfect copy, I have also 4 copies of the first FRENCH edition (2002, and with the dust jacket, of course) even more valuable as it is the first french edition: price per copy is 250 euros, plus 35 euros of registered air mail shipping and packing. And i should be able to send you a Word file of the english text, if you can't read french. Of course the copy will be sign for you, as i always do.

I also have two copies of the french COLLECTOR'S edition (printed on a luxury paper, gold printing on the cover, including four WDS artwork lithographs, and limited and numbered edition of 2000). The copies i have are extremely good "numbers" as they are among the "20" or "30" / 2000 and the price for a signed collector copy is 500 euros plus 30 euros of registered air mail shipping.

The prices above may seems high, i agree, but have a look at the prices of other people selling the book on Amazon, and you'll see that i still am the cheapest one as they sell the book as much as 599€ for a normal edition and 1990€ (!)a collector edition! Have a look HERE to check this on and HERE for

If you want to order one of my copies and if you have a Paypal account the best is to proceed to the payment by paypal - the paypal payment must be sent to the email adress:

Important: Please note that the prices are in Euros, not in $, so you have to choose the "euro" currency when you will do the paypal payment.

There is unfortunately no doubt that, from now, this book is going to be extremely difficult to find and prices will also go very high in the next months, i'm afraid.

For those of you who don't know the book, here is a description of the book. See below some pictures of the book pages - click on each of them to see the mosaic pictures in big size.

The book is a gorgeous "coffee table book" with 320 pages and 750 pictures - of which 500 are park and attractions photos and 250 are Walt Disney Imagineering renderings!

The size is 9 x 12 inches, all pages are in color and it's hardbound with a glossy dust jacket. The text (by Disney historian Didier Ghez), was written after more than 75 interviews he conducted with all the Imagineers who created the park. He goes into just about everything you wanted to know about this unique place that many describe as the best "Magic Kingdom" ever created by WDI.

It took five years to create the book, but it was worth all the time we spent on it, and the book looks just as good as we had hoped for at the beginning - in fact Imagineer Bruce Gordon told us that it was "probably the best book ever done on a Disney theme park". Coming from Bruce who did with David Mumford the great "Disneyland, The Nickel Tour" book, it was more than a compliment.

The first chapter about Main Street has 52 pages and introduces the reader to the "legend" of Main Street, USA. You'll learn all about the Disneyland Paris Railroad, the unique "Discovery" and "Liberty" Arcades; find out about the architecture, the restaurants (like "Walt's," a tribute to Walt Disney, but also inspired by Club 33 in Anaheim) and the shops; with dozens of photos, renderings, models, and reproduced for the first time here, all the "cities of the future" posters located in "Discovery Arcade."

The second chapter on Frontierland discusses the park's western side with extensive sections about its major attractions, "Big Thunder Mountain" and "Phantom Manor." In fact the book has the longest sections ever put together in a book on all the major attractions. The Pirates of Caribbean section in the Adventureland chapter is 26 pages, Phantom Manor has 16 pages devoted to it, as does Space Mountain, it's a small world, etc. The photo material was so great that we kept adding more pages to the book, which was supposed to have only 240 pages when we started... we ended up with 320 upon completion!

The Frontierland chapter also covers the Mark Twain, the River Rogue Keelboats, Fort Comstock, all the restaurants, the shops and Cottonwood Creek Ranch.and featuring stunning photos of Disneyland Paris from the air by Yann Arthus Bertrand, author of The Earth from Above that make spectacular "double-pages," and allow the reader to discover the park from a whole different angle.

The Adventureland chapter is even more interesting, as many elements of the land exist only in Paris - such as the Bazaar and Aladdin to Africa and the ex-"Explorer's Club." Plus there's a long section about "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril," "Adventure Isle" and "The Swiss Robinson Treehouse" and, of course, "Pirates of Caribbean" the land's major attraction and featuring its amazing Audio-Animatronics! All in all there are 56 full pages about Adventureland, and as in the previous chapters, there are dozens of photos, lots of concept art, and many shots of Imagineers at work. There's even a great bonus here, with the Marc Davis artwork for "Pirates" also included.

56 full pages are also dedicated to Fantasyland. There's an extensive look at Sleeping Beauty Castle, sections on all the dark rides (Snow White, Peter Pan and Pinocchio), as well as a look at "Alice's Curious Labyrinth," the "Mad Hatter's Tea Cups," "Storybookland," and "Casey Jr." There are even 14 pages about "it's a small world" with stunning photos of nearly all the scenes in it. Here the reader can discover a new attraction that exists only at Disneyland Paris, with a great view from above of Alice's Labyrinth.

Discoveryland also gets 52 pages of special treatment, with sections on the Visionarium, the Nautilus, Star Tours, Space Mountain, and everything you wanted to know about the other attractions in this land – Autopia and Orbitron. In fact the Nautilus chapter takes you on a visit with photos of every room of this detailed walk-through and two double page photo spreads, one which makes you feel you're inside Captain Nemo's grand salon, and the other showing you a unique view of Discoveyland featuring the Nautilus and Space Mountain in a kind of "CinemaScope" view.

When the book was released in early 2002, the Walt Disney Studios didn't exist, so you won't see them in the book. But there's still one last chapter about the hotels of the park, and Disney Village too, with the great Buffalo Bill Wild West show that entertains hundreds each evening.

And because every day in a Magic Kingdom should end with a parade and fireworks, we have the Main Street Electrical Parade that close the book, with an Herb Ryman gorgeous painting!

Pictures: copyright Disney