Thursday, November 22, 2012

Shanghaî Disneyland Update : Is Disney Hollywood Studios "The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow" a WDI Rehearsal for SDL Pirates of Caribbean Version ?

If you're a faithful Disney and more reader you probably remember that i've told you in previous posts that Shanghaî Disneyland Pirates of Caribbean attraction would be probably a very different version than the usual POTC rides. As i've also told you about a year ago i learned from one of my sources that the ride would not have a lot of audio-animatronics and mainly will use projection effects. And just like you i thought " a POTC ride without audio-animatronics, c'mon...?!?". 

And then came Screamscape discover a new WDI patent called " “Amusement Park Ride With Underwater-Controlled Boats” which would allow WDI Imagineers to create “a boat ride with precise speed and orientation control”. Lance, from Screamscape, explained better than i could do the patent in his 5/21/12 post and said that with this new boat ride technology "not only the boats will be able to move forward and back, but the back of the boat will be on a second “track”, allowing for the back to speed up faster than the front, thus spinning the boat AROUND. Even better… the patent exposes another interesting use for this technology on the 4th page where it shows the boat turning sideways to rotate around a central “show scene” like the hands on a clock". 

In two words, instead to have a POTC boat and guests always moving and looking forward, the boat will be able to turn at 90 degrees or more allowing multiple boats to look all together to a scene while they are slowly moving or eventually being stopped momentarily (see patent picture below).

Also interesting, the patent describes something that could be a kind of "simulation" system located under the boat which might allow the boat to move or shake suddenly depending of what's happening (see patent picture below).  For instance, if we look at a scene where a ship in front of us is firing its cannons the boats could be shaken just like if they've been hit by the cannonball in addition to water explosion effects. 

Now, here is another important piece of the puzzle: as i've also told you before, one of the reason why this new POTC version would be themed around the film series and will not use concepts and scenes from the original ride is because the Chinese culture probably don't have the same romanticism of Pirates from Caribbean islands as we, occidental people, do. As a matter of fact most of the Chinese probably don't even know what happened in the Caribbean during the pirates years. They surely have a pirate culture, but it's of pirates of the China sea and not the Caribbean. That said, in terms of Disney pirates Chinese are aware of the feature film series which were distributed in China. I'm pretty sure that WDI Imagineers realized all this and thought that the best way to bring a POTC ride at Shanghaî Disneyland would be to themed the ride around the film series and i must say that it sounds logical, doesn't it? And because the ride storyline will be different this also explain why i was told that projection effects would be used more than the usual POTC audio-animatronics. As Lance, from Screamscape said: "after all, why spend the money to make a Captain Jack animatronic figure try to lip sync to a soundtrack when you can just film Johnny Depp himself performing as Captain Jack?"

All this sounds good but until recently we were still missing a part of the puzzle to be sure that a POTC ride using projections effects instead than Audio-Animatronics could "work". And then, last week-end, "The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow" opened at Disney Hollywood Studios and one of my reader posted yesterday one of the most brilliant comment i've ever read, saying: "Looks like WDW paid for an installation of play test elements. It appears to be a show created from effects planned for Pirates of the Caribbean Shanghai. I presume mixing these video effects with the current attraction will give a good hint of what to expect in Shanghai. Video projections along with a boat that can turn in 360 degrees. I expect this is a cost cutting measure to reduce audio animatronic maintenance and to please Johnny Depp who has creative brand control over the Jack Sparrow character."

When i read his comment i thought "He's bloody right! How didn't thought about it before!". Of course he's right, and suddenly everything makes sense and all the pieces of the puzzle come together. Now, if you've seen already the posted videos of this new "Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow", you've seen that the show include different scenes - a skeleton scene, a mermaid scene, a Kraken scene and a final with captain Jack Sparrow itself. 

The show itself without the pre-show last around nine minutes, but if you take each of these scenes individually they last around two minutes each. Which mean that if they were used in a ride it would request not only to have the boats being "stopped" momentarily to look at the scenes but also to "face" the scene. Obviously, considering the one or two minutes length, it wouldn't be possible to do it for each boat one by one. And it's there that the new WDI patent brings the last piece of the puzzle with the ability not only to have the boats turning to face a scene instead than looking forward but also to have multiple boats looking TOGETHER at the same scene, as you can see on the patent drawing above. Do you get it? Do you see how all the pieces of the puzzle come together? Sure, the "Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow" looks like a "C" ticket because you just stand in front of it and are not sit in a boat moving in real decors, but use the same high-tech projection technology with the same dazzling projection effects, put them in a boat ride with a boat moving in caverns or any kind of other decors, and add to the ride special effects (explosion, fire, water effects, etc...) and then you have something that will be a stunning "E" ticket ride. I know, some of you will miss the "all Audio-Animatronics version" but, c'mon, there is already four POTC versions in the world using the original Audio-Animatronics so may be it's time to have something different, isn't it?  I will end by saying that the irony in all this is that we are all waiting for Shanghaî Disneyland opening day to discover what this new POTC version using projections effects will look like when in fact we probably have it already in front of our own eyes at Disney Hollywood Studios without knowing it!

We're not totally done yet with Shanghai Disneyland as Luke from "Luke and the Temple of Fun" web site posted yesterday a leaked plan of what will be SDL night time entertainment and shopping area, a kind of "Downtown Disney" or DLP "Disney Village". You'll see the plan on Luke website but in the above official rendering released when SDL was officially announced, it's the area which is at the left of the entrance of the park, i.e the one below.

The new plan reveal that the total area will be 90550 sqm with 45315 sqm for the shopping and dining buildings and 31830 sam of ground floor area. Buildings will be high as 16.75 m or 23.85 m. More interesting, you can see on the map a big building reserved for "entertainment" which seems to indicate that there will be a show outside the park. Also, it seems that the park exits will lead directly to this shopping and dining area which for sure is a good idea on a business point of view. However, considering that people will be able to access the area without going in the park - like Disneyland guests can do with Downtown Disney - there is no doubt that this shopping and dining area will already have plenty of people who will come to share a bit of Disney magic without paying to get in the park. So, i hope that the streets of the area will be large enough as the fact that the park exits will force SDL guests to move inside this shopping and dining area will bring dozens of thousands guests from the park inside an area that might be already crowded...we'll see. 

Also interesting, you'll see on the plan on Luke web site that the dining buildings are close to the park exit ( not bad when you want to move temporarily outside the park to have dinner ) and might allow people having dinner to see the firework in the park without being in the park itself. Finally, in the shopping buildings located on the bottom part of the plan you'll see one at the bottom which might be a World of Disney store as its size and the rounded shape at one corner might indicate a rotunda roof. You can check all this and the leaked plan on Luke web site HERE.

Okay, that's all for today about Shanghai Disneyland, let me know your thought about all this in the comments, and many thanks to the "anonymous" reader for his precious comment that gave me the needed insight for this article!

Pictures: copyright Disney, Disney Enterprises Inc, Inside the Magic. 
You can see more pictures as well as the Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow show video on the Inside the Magic web site HERE


Luke said...

Hi Alain.
I am impressed by this discovery!
It is sounding really feasible.
We Chinese indeed don't have a background about the pirates in the Caribbean.

As for the a ride using mostly projection, I would still doubt its presentation and immersive effects. The projection in the video looks certainly very impressive. However, that is based on the fact that guests are standing still and all the shadows and perspectives can be constructed based on that. I am not sure how this will look when it is integrated into a ride.
As for the immersive effect, I want to share my personal experience. In the video, I loved all the sequences expect the Kragen. When the Kragen stretches its body, the screen is clearly not large enough for the image. As a result, it looks odd. As commented on Youtube, some viewers feel that it would be better with a ceiling screen as well. But still the perspective will be altered.
And also there is TRANSFORMERS. To be honest I do not like it as much as Spiderman, because there is just less to look at. There are very few details that you can pick up in the scene since everything is on the screen.

But indeed Disney can be very creative in creating immersive experiences, and I believe the ride, accompanied by enough special effects, will be great.

One final question, I have heard people saying that Disney may be using AAs less often or even stop using it due to the high maintenance fee. Do you think it is true?

Alain Littaye said...

Luke, Yes, the executives ( not WDI Imagineers ) are generally reluctant to have too many animatronics not only because of their cost but also because of the maintenance cost. That may be one of the reason why there is less AAs attractions than at the end of last century, for instance.
In the case of the SDL POTC version it might be one of the reason they want to use project effects but i have the feeling that, also, WDI Imagineers are interested by trying something different instead to do again the same ride. There will be probably some audio-animatronis though in the SDL POTC version, at least some of Jonny Depp / Jack Sparrow as i have the feeling he will have a central role in the storyline, but i'm not expecting at all a full AA version like the others versions currently existing.

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

That's an excellent detective work Alain, thanks for sharing!

Regarding the ride, I think that the "omnimover" boat with simulator motion is a great idea, and I think that building a new version of the ride in a new park is much better than building the same ride again; BUT I HATE to see a POTC ride with mostly projection effects.

For me nothing can beat AA's and real decor, and if Disney stops using them I won't be as interested to often visit their parks. These projection shows are not much better IMO than watching a 4D movie in a São Paulo shopping mall. AA's and real decor are what makes Theme Parks, especially the Disney ones, something unique and original, is what makes me want to catch a plane and spend a lot of money to visit them.

Let's hope that they at least put some AA's in this ride...

Anonymous said...

Alain . . . You're welcome.

The latest is that they have performers practicing for some proposed show for Shanghai that utilizes a sky diving simulator. (Sort of like this link without the enclosure - It is loud but unique. And the performers are using streamers and getting great heights as they practice.

danielz6 said...

I think its a bit premature of Disney to build so quickly in Shanghai. Hong Kong Disneylands first park isn't even complete yet and has only been mildly successful.Ya I get it that Chinese market is booming but that doesn't mean they will embrace Disney culture the way Japan and America has for decades. I think it would have been smarter to finish Hong Kong and even build its second gate and dump some of that money into Paris and Florida where its needed. I hope I'm wrong as I wish Disney success in its endeavors but I will say that until I'm proven wrong.
Also I must say I'm jealous that Shanghai's pirates will be in a completely immersive Caribbean land...I think that's awesome. I think a singularly themed land like that is superior to the other adventurelands that are more of a mish mash of themes ranging from Asia, Africa, Arabia to Polynesia. Looks like a great ride I hope other Parks will get a similar, non pirate themed ride as that's been done already.

Anonymous said...

Curious if and how much of this technology will be used in Pandora, considering the leaked plans included a portion of a boat ride.