Saturday, April 21, 2012

Editor's Note: The SIRI article has been moved to my Innoventions Blog, and if you've not read it yet and want to know how to install for free SIRI - the famous iPhone 4S vocal assistant - on your Mac AND have her saying Disneyland-like announcements when you've got an alert on your computer, just go HERE.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Michael Eisner Celebration of DLP Imagineers Work, April 1992

Always celebrating Disney and more 5th Anniversary i have another unique document for you today, and this one is thanks to Thorsten, a faithful D&M reader, who is collecting Disney memorabilia. Thorsten acquired some years ago this incredibly rare document which is a limited edition cel released for DLP opening in 1992... but this one is signed by Michael Eisner! And not only it is signed by Eisner but there is a long dedication for Mickey Steinberg who was Disneyland Paris Project Director at Walt Disney Imagineering!

This is for sure a unique piece of DLP memorabilia and because Michael Eisner text is written all around the picture, so not easy to read, here below is the transcript of what Michael has written for Mickey Steinberg as well as pictures of each sides with the text. As you will see Eisner is in heaven and love the park, and i'm sure that DLP Imagineers who built the park will be happy to learn how much Eisner loved the final result. All my thanks to Thorsten for this great document!

Here is the transcript of Michael Eisner text below, if someone think we did a mistake, thanks to let me know!

Mickey –

What an unbelievable team you lead in designing, building and opening EuroDisney !! I really feel that only you guys could pull something like this off !!

Congratulation for keeping American entrepreneurship alive-

I also appreciate all the travel you had to do over the past couple of years – boy was it worth it !

And it opened in time – And it is beautiful – And being perfect is good because people came – 60.707 people came on Easter Sunday – WOW !!

And of course –

Thanks –

Michael Eisner April 20, 1992

If you wish to celebrate too Disneyland Paris beauty i remind you that the Disneyland Paris book is always available in its collector edition and that there is even a special offer on it running all this month! And, good news, we expect to receive the printer shipment and ship all copies anytime soon so you won't have to wait too long before your copy will be shipped! Place your order now for a collector's edition copy while you can get the special offer on this wonderful book! To know how to order and send your payment please go on the DLP book page HERE.

Transformers Ride now in Soft-Opening at Universal Hollywood !

If you're living in South Cal and more specially in the L.A area i have a great news for you as according to Screamscape it seems that soft-openings for the Transformers ride have began at Universal Hollywood! So, you might take your chance to ride this incredible ride before its Grand Opening on May 25th and if you do so i count on you to let us know in the comments how awesome (or not) it was! In the meantime you'll find below a new preview video showing a bit of the making of the ride.

The good guys of Mice Age had a special preview and were the first people on the ride when it opened to guests yesterday. In addition, they were allowed to actually walk the entire length of the track last week, before the ride began employee previews. They have some stunning photos you won't see anywhere else and you can read their report HERE.

And for those of you who can't go to Universal Hollywood, here is the on-ride video. And no need to say that if you intend to go at Universal Studios in a near future or simply want to keep the surprise it's better to don't watch this on-ride video!

Picture and video: copyright Universal Studios

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's Disney and more Fifth Anniversary!...and Let's celebrate it with a Rare Document Showing the Making of Disneyland Paris!

It's Disney and more fifth anniversary! Yes, five years ago, in April 2007 i was posting the D&M first article and since then you are each day almost 4000 people to visit the site, so i wanted to thanks all of you to be so faithful to Disney and more!

And i thought that the best way to do it was with a very unique document filmed at WDI in 1988 during the making of Disneyland Paris by the great Eddie Sotto - who was at that time Disneyland Paris Main Street U.S.A show-producer. And who else than Eddie himself could introduce this great video and explain to you who and what you will see in it? I'm sure you will love this rare document so now, here is Eddie Sotto introduction, right after this never-seen-before picture of Eddie shot before opening day in front of Main Street Motors! Thanks again to all of you for your support during these last five years and all my deepest thanks to Eddie!

Eddie Sotto:

Disney and More has been my favorite source for all things Disney for the last five years. I want to congratulate Alain on a great job and it has been an honor to have been featured from time to time.

This video is very unique in that it is a "home movie" from inside of Imagineering. I shot this back in 1988 as a means of showing the French office what all of us looked like back in the States. I was about to go to Paris for a considerable time and this was a means of building morale and putting faces on those endless conference calls. Two decades later, it is an interesting curiosity, a time capsule of what it was like back then to be an Imagineer. As you watch the video I thought you might like to know who some of the people are and what you are seeing.

The offices shown are on Rodier Drive, not far from WDI main offices on Flower Street in Glendale California. Today that building houses some of Disney's Research and Development department. After DLRP opened, the building was remodeled and Indiana Jones for Disneyland was also designed in that space.

The video opens in my messy office. I was the designer responsible for Main Street USA in Paris and on my desk were the concept sketches for Town Square East. Lots of failed ideas on wads of paper! Above my drawing board is a rendering of a Spacecraft. That was the first rendering I had done at WDI, a George Lucas inspired rendition of Disneyland's Carousel Theater. We had several ideas for a travelling show with Aliens, etc. But the design was eventually shot down when Tomorrowland and Lucas parted ways. A model of the show building appears later in the video.

Outside my office you will see a cast of characters from both the Main Street team and Operations.The chap hiding behind a Newspaper was the watchdog project manager Chris Dick. He was part of a British firm we all resented at times that oversaw the project. Juan Delgado (Hawaiian Shirt) and Sandy Mullally (light hair and a bit older) were our Senior Interiors designers. So talented. Sandy worked in film prior and dressed sets for "Paint your Wagon" in the 60's. Juan brought his cuban flair to the Cable Car Bake shop color scheme. Wild stripes and San Francisco styling. The blond woman is Joan Kuba, who helped in selecting props and dressings. We had to add the props to the blueprints and find antique furniture, so that was quite a task. Sam Hutchins, (the man with the glasses at my door) was the head of Park Merchandise. We would negotiate the size and design of the retail stores around the conference table. This was typical in the development of a park. Both parties meet and negotiate and review the design. The gent at the drafting board with the giant Pine Cone was Peter Kelly, a Set Designer from the film industry. He worked on films by my hero John De Cuir, like Hello Dolly! and Ghostbusters. He was working on the City Hall for Main Street at that time. You can see some of the elaborate swatches of wall covering and trims on the walls. I tried to get as many Hollywood Set Designers as I could on the architecture team.

Others in the background were French hires coordinating the engineering, and Imagineers like Richard Wood organizing the drawings. Not a fancy office by any means but it was where it all happened.

The model shop is the next stop and you can see many models that were used later in the guidance of those who built the real figures and sets. Some were for presentation and massing purposes, others as a means to build the final show. Pirates had quite an exterior model. We even show the interior arcades for scale. The Big Thunder Model for instance was covered with tin foil squares, each representing an amount of plaster and cement. The estimators would count the squares to figure out how much all the rocks would cost! You will recognize all the lands and some are more advanced than others. Main Street never got as good a model as the other lands because it was considered to be copied from WDW. We showed them! You will notice Tim Delaney, Designer of Discoveryland, and the joking Bob Baranick working on Phantom Manor. Bob has been a friend prior to Disney, built the Lucas Spaceship model for me, and is best known for his work of Tarzan's Treehouse and a redo of Pirates back at Disneyland, where he was an Art Director. I could go on. So many talented people in the video! But that's the real story. It takes lots of great people bringing their talent to the table to build a great park! Hope you enjoyed a trip to WDI circa 1988.

Video and Eddie Sotto photo: copyright Eddie Sotto, whom i thanks a lot!

Pictures: copyright Disney

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The True Story of the Amazing Star Trek Attraction That Almost Was

The Goddard Group, a company directed by Gary Goddard, has launched a new blog which you're gonna like! Gary Goddard is the man who created for Universal when he was running the Landmark company the Jurassic Park ride and Terminator 3D among others famous rides and one of the latest post of this new blog is definitely not to be missed as Gary describes the incredible story of the Star Trek attraction that "almost came to life" in Las Vegas, back in 1992.

In one of my previous articles three years ago i've shown you this amazing concept of a real-size Enterprise, thanks to fantastic artwork like the one above - click to enlarge the pictures. This amazing project unfortunately not realised have a story. Years ago the Las Vegas Down Town hotels association, aware that the new Strip's hotels were getting most of the visitors, wanted to create a unique attraction to be located in down town Las Vegas. Different companies created concepts, including Landmark with this amazing Star Trek concept, but, although EVERYBODY loved this Star Trek idea their final choice went to the now famous Fremont Street Experience.

This real size Enterprise would have stand in the Las Vegas strip and would have been as long as Paris Eiffel Tower is high. That means unbelievably big. And of course guests would have found inside themed Star Trek attractions. The whole project had an estimated cost around $200 M (back in 1992) which was reasonable - specially considering the size.

Now, why such an unbelievably great project was never built, specially when EVERYONE was okay to do it? Well, as you will read in Gary's article ONE person was not okay, and because of this person all the project was cancelled. So, jump to the Goddard Group Blog HERE to read this truly amazing story!

Artwork: copyright Landmark, Landmark entertainment, Star Trek is copyright: Paramount Pictures

Monday, April 16, 2012

Charming Tokyo Disneyland Animated Ad

We already knew that Tokyo Disney Resort have some of the best and even unique rides, that TDR maintenance is the best of all Disney theme parks, and so on...but now they also create unique TV Ad like the one below, a 30sec short animated, charming, in a total japanese "manga" style. Have a look!

Picture and video: copyright Tokyo Disneyland

Why Radiator Springs Racer vs Transformers Ride Will be the E-Ticket Match of the Year

Something pretty unique is about to happen in a few weeks from now in South Cal. For the first time two major E-Ticket rides will open almost simultaneously and both rides are so good that i should even talk about them as "E+ Tickets"! The Transformers ride will have its Grand Opening on May 25th at Universal Hollywood while Cars Land Radiator Springs Racer will start on June 15. I had the luck to do recently the Transformers ride in its first version at USS - and in a few seconds i'll let you know all the good i think about it - and although i've never ride Radiator Springs Racer - nobody did except John Lasseter, Bob Iger and WDI Imagineers - i know almost all about it so i think i can also have an opinion or at least some feeling on this highly-awaited ride. And let me tell you that it's gonna be extremely interesting to watch what will happen in two months when both rides will be open as it surely will be "the E-Ticket match of the year".

Soooo, on my left we have the "heavy weight" Radiator Springs Racer, one of the most awaited ride in Disney theme park history, part of Cars Land, a brand new land including two others rides, the creation of a town, and the biggest rock work that WDI Imagineers ever built. And RSC is even two rides in one with an indoor dark ride part and an outside part using more or less the Test Track technology. One of the big asset of Radiator Springs Racer on the Transformers ride will be that your Cars vehicle will move not only in real decor, but inside a world totally recreated. No 3D projections here, all is "real", and WDI Imagineers even created "automatronics" that should make the ride memorable and exhilarating for each fan of the Cars movies - and even those who are not.

You've seen pictures of the huge Radiator Springs mountains and even videos of the vehicles in test mode but you don't know a lot about the dark ride part of the ride. I won't spoil any of its scenes but what i can tell you is that the whole ride is essentially inspired by the first Cars movie and almost all of the characters from it will be in the ride. There is so many clever imagineering ideas in how they create the scenes that you'll be amazed, really. And also, your ride will not be necessarily exactly the same each time you'll ride RSR. And don't ask me why! There is absolutely no doubt that Radiator Springs Racer will be an instant success, and no doubt too that the ride is definitely a E+ Ticket ride, one of these major rides that we see in Disney theme parks only each ten years, or more.

Now, on my right we have the "challenger", the Universal Hollywood Transformers ride. First, let me tell you that i'm not a big fan AT ALL of the Transformers movie. And also, i don't believe one second in any "Transformers mythology". For me these robots are just toys, and that's what they were at the start, and the whole thing for me is just a huge license operation. Which means that when i entered the Transformers ride in its USS version the Transformers mythology which is present in the pre-show didn't had any appeal to me. But the pre-show is so well done this top secret NEST military bunker with plenty of video screens explaining the ride's back story was designed so intelligently that i couldn't stop thinking that those who do care about Transformers are really going to love it. Note that you can see today pictures of the USH version pre-show in Mice Age preview report HERE.

And then it was time to get aboard EVAC, the ride vehicle, supposedly an Autobot transformer robot. As you know the Transformers ride use the same amazing technology that Universal used on the Spiderman ride, but improved. And - oh my God - "improved" is not a word strong enough to describe how amazingly good this ride is. Not only they indeed improved the 3D projections and the screens are even bigger too but you can feel that it was done with intelligence and that they were really decided to get the best from the technology. Wait until Optimus Prime tell you these simple words "Follow me!" and how you'll be amazed to watch your vehicle moving at high speed inside the city to escape the Decepticons. Of course it's all an optical illusion and your vehicle don't really move, but it's so well done that you'll really think that you're inside the screen, inside the city. Same when you'll be sucked into a whirling vortex generated by Devastator, another Decepticon created by several robots. Or when a F-15 fighter jet Decepticon will fling EVAC through the air, sending your vehicle crashing into a building - amazing, really! And i could go on and on as almost each scene of the ride - which includes not only 3D projections but also real decors and special effects - was done with intelligence - i mean, you can feel the intelligence behind it. And, good news, as Screamscape revealed last friday the Universal Hollywood Transformers version "will use Dolby 3D, the same incredible 3D system we first saw used on Star Tours last year, and which Universal also just put to use on the upgraded Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure last month". In two words, the ride will be even better than the version which opened at USS last fall. Lucky Angelinos!

Considering that Radiator Springs Racer will be part of a whole new land and not a ride "only" as Transformers will be the match may seem unequal and that's may be the reason why the smart guys at Universal are opening Transformers three weeks before Cars Land opening - well, actually it might be even a month and a half before as it seems that soft-opening might start at USH at the end of April. Obviously Universal wants to create the buzz on their ride and count on all South Cal theme parks fans word of mouth to make a success out of Transformers. Honestly, as i've said, the ride is so good that people who will do the ride will probably, just like i did, have only one desire when they'll go out: to go back and ride Transformers again. And the same will happen for Radiator Springs Racer ! So, who will "win" this E-Ticket match of the year? Personally i think there will be no winner, the two rides are so good and so different that both will be a different and tremendously enjoyable experience. Depending of the kind of "world" you prefer you may prefer one or another, but one thing is sure: i strongly recommend you to ride both of them, as both will worth the price of admission!

Pictures: copyright Disney, Universal Studios