Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hong Kong Disneyland Celebrates the Year of the Dragon !

The Year of the Dragon is beginning today and as each year the chinese new year is the biggest event of the year in whole Asia! From January 13 till February 5th Hong Kong Disneyland is celebrating the Year of the Dragon and of course they do it with Mushu the little dragon from the Mulan animated movie. Lot of decors have been added in Main Street U.S.A and Central Plaza, and twice a day HKDL guests can watch the Dragon Procession in Main Street U.S.A as well as new "year of the dragon" merchandise products in Main Street shops.

If you can't come to HKDL for the Year of the Dragon celebration at hKDL, here is a video of the Dragon Procession!

Let's begin this Year of the Dragon with new infos about HKDL future: in my last HKDL update i told you that the park would like to open new hotels at HKDL and asked Hong Kong government its agreement. This was announced by The Standard, a generally reliable media, but i've learned from my own source that they did a mistake as what Andrew Kam told in fact in the press interview is that HKDL had planned to have 4 hotels in phase 1, including the two existing hotels, the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and the Hollywood Hotel. Which means that they are planning to build two more hotels and not four. As you can see on the picture below there is a land between the HKDL Hotel and the Hollywood Hotel which apparently is big enough to build two more hotels, while Hollywood Hotel can also be expanded. The Hong Kong Government seems to support HKDL for these new hotels, also probably because of the lack of hotels in the HK city. Talking about hotels, HKDL is now refurbishing the rooms of the Hollywood hotel and Hong Kong Disneyland hotel, and 20 new princess-themed rooms will open soon. And the "Bibbidi Bobbidi boutique" which has been renamed "My Little Princess" will be expanded too.

You might remember that in the HKDL project was also planned to build a kind of "Downtown Disney", and the last news that i had is that this Downtown Disney will be determined later, probably around 2015 as HKDL is in fact waiting to know how many visitors will be brought by the new bridge linking Lantau Island to Macau. This is a huge bridge project that would link two of the major destinations in Asia. It involves both a 29km bridge and submerged tunnel section and artificial islands. There is no doubt that this monumental bridge will bring new guests to HKDL when it will be build, if it is for real.

AND, talking about HKDL future here is the latest video update from michael20183 which will show you that Grizzly Gulch is well on its way for an opening later this year as well as the works on Mystic Point Manor, opening in 2013. Also, i told you in my previous update that Star Tours 2 should come to Tomorrowland, and here is a bit more about an opening date: 2015 will be HKDL 10th anniversary celebration but they will leave 2015 to the entertainment division. So if Star Tours 2 cannot open in 2014, then it should be in 2016... or eventually for the finale of the 10th anniversary.

See you soon for a new HKDL update and in the meantime, don't miss my HKDL Wallpapers Application, you'll find it on the iTunes Appstore! See article here
Direct iTunes link HERE!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Video of the Full Disneyland Paris Book and Update on the Book Production

As you know we are planning to reprint the great Disneyland Paris book "From Sketch to Reality", and the reprint will happen in march. We currently have around 170 pre-orders and we need more or less 100 more pre-orders to have the needed amount to pay the book printing. Considering that we already have 170 pre-orders in less than a month and that the pre-order period is still running until late february we are totally confident now that we will have enough pre-orders to print the book.

But for those of you who haven't pre-order the book yet it's the right time to do it as placing a pre-order also give you a 20% discount on the book final price! You can pay either by Paypal or bank wire transfer if you're living in a foreign country or by bank check, Paypal or bank wire transfer if you're living in France. To place a pre-order send me an email at: with your shipping address and please also tell me what will be your kind of payment. The book price is 110 Euros including shipping if you're living in France and 115 Euros including shipping for all others countries. Paypal payments must be send in euros currency and at my Paypal account: and you can find more infos on the book HERE in english or HERE in french.

Now, although you've probably heard about this magnificent book, many of you may have never seen a copy of it. So we've done a video presentation of the full book which will show you each of the 320 pages of the book! The book includes 750 pictures of the park, including 250 gorgeous renderings of Walt Disney Imagineering and stunning pictures of the park seen from above. The book is so big that it took us seven and a half minutes to show you the full book, and that's without stopping turning each pages! So, if you want to have a closer look at a page don't hesitate to stop the video. Finally, because we didn't had any more a collector edition copy the video is showing the regular edition of the book, not the collector's edition that you will receive if you place your order, but the inside pages are exactly the same.

Video: copyright Alain Littaye 2012

The Disneyland Paris Frontierland Stunt Show that never was

Quite a while ago i found on the excellent Mark Taft Insights and Sounds web site the above rendering. It's labelled "EDL - for Euro Disneyland which means that this concept-art was done in the early 90's when the park was still called by this name. And it shows the facade of a stunt show arena envisioned for DLP's Frontierland - a "western" stunt show, of course.

In his article Mark was wondering "How seriously was a stunt show for Frontierland considered?" and hoped that i may have the answer as i am the one who wrote the book about the park.

But, i as i didn't had the answer, i asked Jeff Burke who was Frontierland's show-producer if he ever heard about this project. And here is his answer:

"I don't recognize this specific illustration, but there were discussions, after the Park had opened in 1992, to build a stunt show arena where the Chapparal Stage now stands. The discussions of Frontierland's own stunt showplace ended when operations said it would be too much of a repetition of the "Buffalo Bill Wild West Show" in Downtown Disney."

Another former imagineer friend sent to me these additionnal infos: "There were a number of discussions concerning a live western show in Frontierland, including a small rodeo which was not done due to the strict animal protection laws in France. This is why the animals in the original petting zoo were moved behind a fence after opening so that the guests could only pet an animal when it approached the guest on its own.

As to the stunt show, this was developed under the Entertainment department on their own rather than Imagineering which was probably why it was not well known. An outside consultant was brought in and I seem to remember a model might also have been done. It was essentially a comic gun fight with exploding buildings and such but, as Jeff said, it was cancelled because of the clash with the Buffalo Bill show.

After that, the Chaparral stage came into existence to house any number of live entertainment shows."

So, there we have the answer about this mysterious rendering. The park DID envisioned a stunt show in Frontierland, but they finally cancelled it because of the Disney Village dinner show - translate: if we have a stunt show in Frontierland, people won't come - and pay - for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show.

Although i must admit there is a kind of logic in their decision, i think it's a pity that a "western" stunt show don't exist in Frontierland instead of the Chapparal Stage. A western stunt show is a classic in theme parks - think about the Universal's Wild Wild West stunt show - and it probably would have give additional life in the back of Frontierland...

And you, what do you think about this Frontierland stunt show that never was?

Artwork: copyright Disney

Many thanks to Mark Taft for this interesting rendering. I strongly suggest you to have a look on Mark's site Insights and Sounds, it's always interesting with rare pictures or renderings and Mark is posting new articles almost every day!

Don't forget to pre-order a collector's copy of the Disneyland Paris book, on its way for reprinting. Anyone pre-ordering the book has a 20% discount on what will be the final price when the book will be released, so it's better to place your order now. The book is absolutely gorgeous, Just go HERE to learn more about the book and how to place your order.

Pictures: copyright Disney

Barack Obama Speech at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

President Barack Obama was at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom last thursday and he did a speech in front of Cinderella Castle.

As the Disney Parks blog reports "Tourism was the topic of this official visit, and the President said the natural place to discuss efforts to make it easier for more international guests to visit the United States was Walt Disney World Resort. While the President’s remarks were for an invited audience and necessitated closing a portion of Main Street, U.S.A., for a few hours, guests at Magic Kingdom Park enjoyed a unique day of their own, with special entertainment throughout the park to keep things magical... A capacity crowd of guests who wanted to hear the President’s speech even watched a live broadcast of his remarks in the most appropriate of settings – The Hall of Presidents attraction in Liberty Square".

Picture and video: copyright Disney - White

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guess Where Bangkok Dream World Stunt Show Found Part of its Inspiration ?

If you're looking for a theme park during a visit in Thailand, chances are that you will end at Dream World, near Bangkok. It's the most popular one, of course not as sophisticated as Disneyland is, but not that bad, specially in their new attractions. There is also so many "tributes" to Disneyland (to say it elegantly) that you will feel almost at home. After all, they have a Space Mountain, a Haunted Mansion (real names of their rides), a castle, a seven dwarfs cottage, a Cinderella carriage, etc...

I will come back soon on the whole park in another article but today i invite you to have a look at Dream World stunt show called "Hollywood Action". The story line to put it simply is the story of special forces fighting terrorists, but that's not the point. What is the point is how this stunt show took part of its inspiration from the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular stunt show at Disney Hollywood Studios. You like the start of the Indy show with the spikes and the giant rolling ball? You'll find them here. And that's just two elements in this stunt show that were "borrowed" to the Indy show. Others elements are present, a little bit less obvious, but i'm sure that the plane which appear in the final sequence will remind you something.

Of course the Indy stunt show is better, there is no doubt about that, but you can see the full "Hollywood Action" show in the videos below, so have a look and let me know what you think in the comments!

Pictures and videos: copyright Disney and more

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You will never believe the real origin of Phantom Canyon's inhabitants !

All of you, Disneyland Paris fans, who ride Phantom Manor again and again might think - thanks to excellent "Phantom Manor" websites - that you know all about this DLP beloved attraction. But, today, you will learn amazing secrets you've never heard before.

In Phantom Manor "Phantom Canyon" is the last scene of the ride, after the doom buggy went through the graveyard and skeletons section. In a way, it's the grand finale of the ride. It's a totally different finale than the one you generally experience in the others Haunted Mansions. In Phantom Manor WDI Imagineers designed a surreal ghost town, and this ghost town have some rather unique Audio-Animatronics inhabitants. It is their story that I will tell you now.

In the early 1990's, while WDI Imagineers were building Phantom Manor's structure the Audio-Animatronics figures were made in WDI workshop, at Walt Disney World. At that time, Jeff Burke, DLP Frontierland's show producer, had to choose the "faces and bodies" of Phantom Canyon's future inhabitants. For the skeletons that guests meet in the previous scene, WDI purchased plastic skeletons from a company that normally supplies these "bony creations" to medical schools and colleges. For the "underworld" of Phantom Manor the skeletons were purchased in bulk and in different dimensions - larger for the men "crypt characters", smaller for the women.

And the largest skeleton acquired, used for the infamous Phantom character, was 6' 3" tall.

But for the "human" characters of Phantom Canyon it was a totally different challenge.
It's not well known but sometime - to avoid the expense of sculpting new heads and bodies for new kind of Audio-Animatronics characters - Imagineers can do a selection from masks and molds designed for AA characters of previous attractions. Then, with the magic of WDI designers and new costumes a whole new cast appear. For instance,some of the ghosts of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion previously showed up in Pirates of the Caribbean. Not only it's easier and less expensive, but the budget savings can be used to enhance lighting, special effects and other production values of the attraction.

Now, let's get back to Jeff Burke, WDW workshop, and the folks of Phantom Canyon. If you did the ride at DLP, you probably remember the bank robber and his donkey. Well, his face and body are from a mask and mold previously used for a character of EPCOT's World of Motion... as well as the donkey!

And the face and body of the scared sheriff hiding behind the lampost, is also featured as a skinny pirate in the auction scene of WDW Pirates of the Caribbean.

Mind you, Jeff's first choice was to used the terrified groundskeeper standing at the cemetary gates in Haunted Mansion's final scene. By the way, from that same scene, a howling dog among the tombstones has been turned into a snarling "hound from hell" lunging toward your doom buggy when you exit the Bride's bedroom.

Edited : Richard, a faithful D&M reader sent to me the pictures below of the DL Haunted Mansion organist. As i mention in my text that the scared sheriff's head was used previously for a Pirates of Caribbean character, Richard thought that it might be instead the head used for the organist in the Haunted Mansion, and looking at these pictures i must admit that the scared sheriff and the organist faces looks very similar.

The best was to ask my good friend Jeff Burke who was DLP's Frontierland show-producer and Jeff answered to me that "the AA head used for the organist and the scared sheriff in Phantom Manor is indeed from the same sculpture with some distinctive makeup variations. However, he was not sculpted originally with Phantom Manor in mind but rather was fashioned as one of the extra figures for "Pirates of the Caribbean"."

In two words, the same sculpted head was sculpted first for a Disneyland POTC character first, then used for the HM organist at Disneyland and then for the scared sheriff at DLP's Phantom Manor! Amazing, isn't it?

Other Phantom Canyon inhabitants includes the piano player...

...the bartender, the saloon girl...

...and the druggist. All of them began their AA "career" in various scenes of the now extinct World of Motion attraction.

But the biggest surprise probably comes from the Mayor character who welcomes us to Phantom Canyon. He's the one who greets you not only by removing his hat, but his head as well! You're not going to believe who he is really or should i say who "he" was in a previous "life": Believe it or not, but the mayor of Phantom Canyon is DREAMFINDER, the main character from the beloved Journey into Imagination attraction!

Quite frankly, I've ride Phantom Manor dozens of time and never noticed it before but indeed Phantom Canyon's mayor is/was the Dreamfinder character of EPCOT's Journey into Imagination! And the voice of this macabre mayor wishing you a "Welcome, foolish mortals..." is none less than the talented Paul Frees, who is the voice of the "Ghost Host" in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.

So, next time you will ride through Phantom Manor and when your doom buggy will go down to enter Phantom Canyon, don't forget to say a warm "Hello!" to the "Dreamfinder" mayor and all the other characters who are versatile enough to scare you at DLP after they entertained guests in a previous "life" at others Disney theme parks.

Note: Progress City USA has posted today an interesting article about Dreamfinder and you can read it HERE !

Don't forget to pre-order a collector's copy of the Disneyland Paris book, on its way for reprinting. Anyone pre-ordering the book has a 20% discount on what will be the final price when the book will be released, so it's better to place your order now. The book is absolutely gorgeous, Just go HERE to learn more about the book and how to place your order. And if you have never seen the book here is a brand new video that we did, and which will show you EACH page of the book!

Pictures: copyright Alain Littaye or Disney

Monday, January 16, 2012

DLP 20th Anniversary Preview Video Introduces New Parade and Disney Dreams show !

Disneyland Paris has released an interesting 20th Anniversary preview video which shows more of the awaited Disney Dreams show as well as the new floats in the Disney Magic on Parade!. Let's have a closer look at it.

The new "Disney Magic on Parade!" will cast Disney Characters "in a fantastic new carnival especially for our 20th anniversary. Flying out from their unforgettable stories trailing light, colour, music and magic, they glide through the park’s party atmosphere, before Mickey and friends shine in a spectacular finale". Below, you'll see renderings of the new floats as well as the one for the final scene and the new Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty horse carriages.

Then the video talk about the Disney Dreams! show and Steven Davison and others WDI Imagineers are introducing the show. One of the interesting part as you will see on the video below is the 3D renderings showing where the fountains - on which will be projected animated sequences - will be installed around the castle.

You'll see also some short animated scenes, including what should be Disney Dreams! beginning with Peter Pan shadow supposedly starting the show.

We can also see a selection of the lighting - projection effects on Sleeping Beauty Castle, including fire effects and all this sounds very promising.

My feeling is that Steven Davison and his team once again have designed a fantastic show which will be played each day during DLP 20th Anniversary and, good news, which is also here to stay in the future! As i suppose that by now you're dying to watch the video, here it is, and see you soon for more news about the Disney Dreams! show!

Don't forget to pre-order a collector's copy of the Disneyland Paris book, on its way for reprinting. The book is absolutely gorgeous, Just go HERE to learn more about the book and how to place your order.

Pictures and video: copyright Disney

Tangled Ever After "The Ring" and "The Pursuit" Clips

Beauty and the Beast 3D, released last friday in the U.S, did $18,490,000 in three days and there is little doubts that it will be a successful new release. In addition, the audience can discover a new short from Disney Animation Studios which is the wedding sequence that supposedly happen where the story ends in the long animated feature.

There is a real fun idea in the script, and you'll see what happen when you ask the horse Maximus to keep the wedding rings. Have a look at the two clips below!

Picture and videos: copyright Disney