Friday, October 14, 2011

D&M Archives : A Grand Tribute to Carousel of Progress

I will give today a tribute to one of WED most legendary attraction, the Carousel of Progress, with great pictures and videos, and Walt himself describing this beloved attraction!

Created by both Walt Disney and the Imagineers of WED Enterprises as the prime feature of the General Electric Pavilion for the 1964 New York World's Fair, the attraction was moved to Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, remaining there from 1967 until 1973. As we know, it was replaced in Disneyland by America Sings in 1974, and reopened in 1975 at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Steeped in both nostalgia and futurism, the attraction's premise is an exploration of the joys of living through the advent of electricity and other technological advances during the 20th century via a "typical" American family. To keep it up with the times, the attraction has been updated five times (in 1967, 1975, 1981, 1985, and 1994) and has had two different theme songs, both written by the Sherman Brothers.

Various sources say Walt Disney himself proclaimed that the Carousel of Progress was his favorite attraction and that it should never cease operation. This can be somewhat supported by Imagineers, family and friends, who knew of his constant work on the attraction. Of all the attractions he presented at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, Disney seemed especially devoted to the Carousel of Progress.

General Electric approached Walt Disney to develop a show for the company's pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. Walt leaped at the chance to rekindle his relationship with GE, who would fund the project and the new technology necessary to bring it to life. Reaching back to Edison Square, Walt Disney again pitched the idea of an electrical progress show to General Electric executives and they loved it.
The show opened at the Fair as Progressland and was one of the most-visited pavilions at the Fair. The Carousel of Progress then opened at Disneyland Park on July 2, 1967, as part of the New Tomorrowland. Due to the success of the attractions Disney created for the Fair, General Electric agreed to sponsor the Carousel of Progress at Disneyland.

Walt Disney asked Disney songwriters Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman to create a song that could serve as a bridge between the "acts" in the show. Walt explained to the brothers what the show was about, and they wrote a song with his enthusiasm in mind. The song was titled "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow". The Shermans later stated that they believe that the song was Walt's "theme song," because he was so optimistic and excited about the future and technology itself.

In the first video below, right after the Leonard Matlin intro, Walt is with the Sherman brothers rehearsing the song. And he stands near the model of the attraction which was going to open at the New York's world fair, General Electric pavilion.

During the planning phase, Disney's Imagineers perfected the Audio-Animatronics technology necessary to operate the "performers" in the show. They were not the most advanced, but it was enough to get the show running. The technology used in Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room and another attraction designed by Disney at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, made the Carousel of Progress possible. Besides the AAs, the Imagineers (led by Disney Legends Roger E. Broggie and Bob Gurr) also devised a "carousel theater", so that the audience rode around a stationary set of stages instead of walking from stage to stage.

In this next video, Walt introduces the Audio-Animatronics to the audience.

The basic plot of the Carousel of Progress show has essentially remained unchanged since it debuted at the 1964 New York World's Fair. It is divided into six scenes, with the audience seats rotating between each scene around the stage mechanically within the outer part of the theater building.

The first and the last scenes are basically identical and involve the loading and unloading of guests. The other four scenes, or "acts", depict an Audio-Animatronic family, narrated by the father, interacting with the latest technology and innovations during a particular era. Not much is known about the family: we do not know their last name, where they live (aside from being somewhere in the United States), or if they ever change location. The family does not (nor are they meant to) age 100 years. They age 3–5 years as the show progresses, to demonstrate how slightly older individuals can better enjoy new technology. Each of the four scenes is set during a different season of the year, just for variety. Also, each of the scenes features a male dog, who once, or twice, barks or growls, causing the father to firmly command their canine to stop interrupting his talk. Let's see some pictures of the attraction, if possible in chronological order, as there is a chronology.

The first act takes place during Valentine's Day around the 1900s and features the family using the new innovations for that era, including gas lamps, a kitchen pump, a hand-cranked washing machine, and a gramophone. A mention of the St. Louis World's Fair dates the scene to 1904.

The second act features devices such as radio, a sewing machine, and a homemade cooling device during the 4th of July in the 1920s (the Charles Lindbergh reference makes the most likely year 1927).

The third act, set around Halloween in the 1940s, has the family interacting with technologies such as an automatic dishwasher, television, and a homemade paint mixing system.

The final scene is set around Christmas and depicts the family interacting with the technology of the present day. As such, it is the act that has received the most changes since the show debuted in 1964. While the original final act featured the family's home in the 1960s, the current finale, which was introduced in 1994, shows the home in the 2000s with high-definition television, virtual reality games, voice activated appliances, and other recent innovations.

One more thing: The Carousel of Progress holds the record as the longest-running stage show, with the most performances, in the history of American theater!

And now, for those of you who miss the attraction - but we all miss it, don't we? - here is a great video of the whole show by ru42.

But some of you may remember the OTHER version of Carousel of Progress, with a different song "Now is the time". Personally, this one was my favorite theme, and here is, in two parts, videos of this version, thanks to "magicalthemeparks"

Discuss Carousel of Progress with us on MiceChat - Is NOW the best time of our lives, or is there still room for PROGRESS in Tomorrowland?

For more facts about the attraction, have a look HERE

Photos and making-of videos: copyright Disney Enterprises Inc.

ru42 video: copyright ru42

Last videos copyright magicalthemeparks

Many thanks to ru42, magicalthemeparks, freedogshampoo and mfiles2000 for the youtube videos and to Wikipedia for part of the text.

A Treasure of Asia : The Shwedagon Pagoda

You know that i'm designing applications for the Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and today i invite you to discover a new one called Asia Treasures - Shwedagon Pagoda, which is now available on the AppStore. .

Asia treasures is a new series of applications for Apple iDevices which suggests you to discover some of the most beautiful historical sites in South-East Asia. This App is just perfect to prepare a trip in Asia, for art lovers, or for anyone who wants to discover places of amazing beauty through hundreds of HD pictures.

Asia’s Treasures - Shwedagon Pagoda is all about one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Southeast Asia: the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon, Myanmar. The Shwedagon Pagoda, located at the top of Singuttara hill in the heart of Rangoon, Burma’s capital, is a 98 meters high Stupa covered by thousands of gold leafs and surrounded by 68 stunningly beautiful temples. The beauty of the Shwedagon Pagoda is not only coming from its shining stupa or the magnificent temples all around it, but also because the place is full of devoted Burmeses praying all over the site day and night. The Shwedagon Pagoda is definitely one of the most holy of places in Asia and definitely a not-to-be-missed site if you travel in Burma.

This Asia Treasures - Shwedagon Pagoda app includes four chapters:

- Shwedagon Pagoda
- Governor’s Residence
- Yangon – Rangoon
- Old Maps

App Features:

- Hundreds of HD pictures and text in English or French

- Wikipedia links for each picture for more infos on each chapter

- Menu for instant access to each chapter

- Image gallery to select pictures of a chapter

- Maps of Burma and Yangon (Rangoon)

- Selection of favorite pictures

- A special "How to go?" section with travel infos and a selection of best hotels

- Slide show mode

Below, some pictures to introduce Asia Treasures - Shwedagon Pagoda. Please note that the pictures of the App - others than the Introduction pictures below - have no text written on them.

The Asia Treasures - Shwedagon Pagoda is available on the Appstore HERE for 1.59€ or $1.99 only. Don't miss it, you'll love it!

Don't miss too my previous app about Burma: Asia Treasures - Bagan, a pure Adventureland dream, a lost city with 2000 temples!. Preview article of the Bagan App is HERE.

All pictures: copyright Park Lane Editions

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why the future Paramount Park in Murcia, Spain, is not good news for Disneyland Paris

Some days ago, Brady Mc Donald posted a real good article about the upcoming Paramount Park which will open in Murcia, Spain, in 2015. Works should begin next year and this new theme park will be build "on a 100-acre theme park set around a central lake that will combine the themed lands of Disneyland with the movie backlots of Universal Studios"? It will include exciting attractions based on Mission Impossible, Spielberg's War of the World, Titanic, Star Trek, Sleepy Hollow, Rango, etc... and even a kind of "wizarding world"! You can read Brady article HERE and see the park's entrance artwork above and excerpts of the PFD presentation file below. Click on each to see them in larger size.

I've also embedded below a presentation video where you will see many more artwork of the future park. With the Warner Studios park and Port Aventura this new one will bring a third major theme park to Spain and the question could be: what kind of attendance impact will it have on Disneyland Paris? The first reaction could be to say that "Murcia is so far from Paris that it shouldn't be a problem". Not wrong, but as we will see it's a bit more complicated than that. Why? simply because the Paramount park will be not so far from Madrid or Barcelona and that we can count on Paramount to do a huge marketing campaign in 2015 to let anyone living in Spain that a new theme park is about to open. And what will you do if you were living in Spain? Would you spend your money to come back again at DLP or would you be excited to discover a new theme park at two-three hours from your home, built by a major Hollywood studio? You will go see the new park, of course, and this means that starting 2015 DLP should have less spaniards visiting the resort.

But there is worse. Where the Paramount park will be build - near Murcia - is an area where literally hundred of thousands of people from all over europe, including germans, british, belgium, french, etc... are coming each summer as they're sure to find there a hot sun, plenty of fun, and more. Instead to do a stop at DLP on their way to Spain they might be tempted to save their money to visit the new Paramount park because you can also count on Paramount to let the rest of Europe know about their brand new park as soon as it will be open! Some might argue that this could make only 4 or 5 % less people for DLP but these 5% are vital for Disneyland Paris, and if things happen like i said it will be bad news for DLP.

However, in all this, DLP still have some luck. What i mean is that instead to build this new park in Spain Paramount could have made the choice to build it near Paris! I don't know why all these major Hollywood studios are choosing Spain - okay, the weather is sunny and much better than in Paris all year long, but in terms of attendance they will never make the same numbers that they will do if they were near Paris. I remember this Universal Studios project in the mid 90's supposed to be build near Meaux at 30km from DLP. Finally, due to DLP financial problems Universal execs changed their mind and instead did an investment in Port Aventura - only to resell their shares some years later.

So, the big luck of DLP is to don't have any major competitor at 20 miles from the resort, like Disney have in Florida. Can you imagine the hell it would be for DLP if at 20 miles from the WDS will exist a Universal Studios with a selection of Universal best rides and a Wizarding World of Harry Potter? But, at the same time, it's also a real bad luck for DLP that a Universal Studios don't exist near Paris. Why? Because if there was one it will boost DLP to develop new rides, enhance the parks, etc... A bit like what's happening at WDW right now. The Harry Potter land is such a success that DIsney had to counter attack with the upcoming Avatar land. I'm pretty sure that DLP execs are aware of this new Paramount Park and may be it will urge the WDC to give the money for a big placemaking at the WDS. Rumors, as i told you last tuesday, seems to indicate that this will be the case and we'll see what happen.

In the meantime, don't miss the Paramount Park presentation video below!

Picture and video: copyright Paramount

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

First Avengers Trailer

The first Avengers trailer was released two days ago and you can watch it below.
I don't know why but i'm still not totally convinced by this Avengers movie... It probably will be fun and i'm sure that super-heroes fans will be pleased to have six of them in one movie instead of one, still i'm not sure that "more" is necessarily "better"...we'll see. But the choice of Samuel Jackson to play Nick Fury is definitely perfect.

I'm also curious to see if WDI have plans for an Avengers attraction in a Disney theme park...they probably have one and i guess that a ride using the same technology than the IOA Spiderman ride will be great for an Avengers attraction, but when and where an Avengers attraction will appear remains a secret so far!

Picture and video: copyright Marvel - Paramount Studios

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Disneyland Paris Update

What's new about Disneyland Paris future? DLP fans are desperately waiting for an official announcement of the Ratatouille dark ride, Star tours 2, and more. Next year will be DLP 20th Anniversary and chances are that no new attraction will open in 2012. Of course the park have scheduled to celebrate the 20th and you can count on different events including a new show which is supposed to have dazzling never-seen-before visual effects but in terms of rides i will not bet on anyone, except if DLP execs change their mind very soon about Star tours 2 and finally decide to bring the ST 2 at DLP Discoveryland.

However, recently, two interesting rumors appeared on the web. The first one is basically saying that the banks - the famous banks who accept or not to deliver to DLP the needed amount of money to build new attractions - decided that they won't give anymore money and that it was time for the WDC to bring some cash to DLP. DLP fans discussed this rumor on forums and one of the reason - if this rumor is true as i remind you it's still only a rumor - might be because of the bank crisis. It's true that European banks, and specially French banks, are going through pretty difficult times right now so this might be a good reason, although they could also take this "bank crisis" as alibi to don't deliver new cash to DLP...

Anyway, here comes the second rumor and this one as you will see is more interesting. Apparently a Mice Chat member discussed about DLP - and specially WDS future - with a WDI Imagineer at the D23 Expo and here is what he's saying:

"I finally got SOME news on France after coercing (ok, waterboarding ) the right Imagineer. Turns out the situation is eerily similar to ours. You have a great park (DL) in some level of disrepair which is being plussed up at the approach of its birthday and you’ve got a second gate (WDSP instead of DCA) which has been under-performing and although it has received a few new ride (like ToT, we did too) and some smaller ones (the whole Toy Story playplace like we got Monster’s Inc) which triggered some ‘place-making’, it’s still not ‘winning’ like Charlie Sheen would say…

… so what do you do?

… well, that’s kinda why John Lasseter was visiting your WDS recently. He made the same argument about the lack of cohesive theming, the lack of character and the necessity for a large place-making project. In fact, the Imagineers already have an overall re-design similar to what they have for DCA. Yep, a big big deal

However, between the economic situation in Europe and the non finished work in the US (includiing the two major expansions on both coast), it is a matter of spreading themselves too thin. At the same time, the argument is being made for it being almost the best time for such an investment.

Bottom line: keep your fingers crossed for a major announcement from Tom Staggs closer to the end of the year, as the overall 20th of DLP gets on the way.

Or not .

But it is there RIGHT NOW, just laying on ice for a little while longer…"

If the story is right it will be indeed a good news, and if it's not that's exactly what the WDC should do as soon as possible, i.e a huge placemaking at the WDS just like they did one at DCA. In fact, i don't think there is any other solution, the WDS desperately need a kind of "Marshall Plan" to resolve the problem once and for all. Right now the WDC must pay for DCA placemaking as well as WDW New Fantasyland, not to mention Shanghaî Disneyland and the Avatar project so may be DLP fans will have to wait a bit more but next year DCA and WDW NF will be almost finished and in 2013 the WDC might have some fresh cash available for DLRP.

There is another good argument in favor of this placemaking rumor and it's the now official departure of Bob Iger in 2015 ( even if Iger will stay at the Disney board until 2016 ). My guess is that Iger will be pleased to resolve all the problems due the end of Eisner era before leaving the company. In two words, Eisner has been the one who almost destroyed the company and Iger the one who would have saved it. My feeling is that this rumor is true and that sometime next year Tom Staggs and DLP CEO Philippe Gas might announce this WDS placemaking, but considering the hard times for the world economy as long as it is not announced officially it's better to consider it as "one more rumor".

Now, do i have some news more reliable than rumors? Yes, i do, and the latest news i've got about Ratatouille is that a final announcement - read: decision - is awaited before the end of this year. Note that it doesn't mean that the decision will be necessarily the one expected by DLP fans, it means that a decision will be taken and announced and you better cross your fingers that it will be positive. However, even if Ratatouille was confirmed officially in two months don't expect an opening in 2012 and not even in 2013 as it was previously envisioned. DLP Imagineers need two years to build the whole Ratatouille area - and test the new ride - and this will put the Ratatouille opening in 2014 or late 2013 with a bit of luck.

About the WDS placemaking, now. Yes, the project indeed exist as well as a rendering showing the vision of WDI Imagineers ( don't ask me, i don't have it ) and apparently it looks great. All what the park needs now is money - as usual. About Star Tours 2, it's a bit more complicated. As i've told you in a previous update DLP execs are a bit reluctant to bring it right now at DLP, mainly because of the cost of ST2 ( estimated around $50 M ) as for the same price they can have a brand new dark ride. They're also afraid that the investment don't bring more visitors to the park, like it happened with Space Mountain Mission 2 or the comeback of Captain EO which has been for them a not-so-good experience on a business point of view.

All this is perfectly understandable and unfortunately a news that i had recently might reinforce DLP execs in their fear about the ST2 investment. Apparently - and although Star Tours 2 is acclaimed by DL and WDW visitors - the attraction update didn't bring more guests inside the parks. At least not enough to be considered as a major increase in parks attendance. If this is true - and it has yet to be confirmed - that's not only a bad news for DL and WDW but also for DLP as Philippe Gas might be more reluctant than ever to spend the needed amount for ST2. However, Tokyo Disneyland has apparently decided to update their own Star Tours so DLP will not escape to ST2 sooner or later, hopefully as soon as possible, and of course i will keep you updated. In the meantime, just pray that this WDS placemaking becomes a reality!

Pictures: copyright Disney

Monday, October 10, 2011

Editor's Note: There has been a lot of tributes to Steve Jobs since Steve passed away last week, but this one is probably one of the most poetic...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Editor's Note: The D&M Archives of this week-end is the great Pat Burke interview, the longest ever posted on Disney and more - and probably on any Disney fan web site! But today it's not a simple "repost" as the article has been totally updated with 17 never-seen-before pictures from Pat Burke collection - including rare pictures of the Jungle Cruise or the River Country model - and plenty of new stories related to these new pics. Don't miss this update!