Saturday, December 1, 2012

Disney and more Christmas Wish List

Christmas is in a few weeks from now and here is a selection of different items which will make great Christmas gifts for anyone you love, including you! For each of them you have the Amazon direct link with the best prices available. The list of course include some Disney related items but not only and any item in the list is really as good as described and, again, will make great Christmas gifts. There we go, beginning by a selection of books, and whatever item you will be interested by thanks to use the Amazon links as it will also brings support to Disney and more.


The long awaited Poster Art of the Disney Parks book was released last september, celebrating Disney Parks beloved attraction posters, and you can't be wrong if you offer this one to a Disney fan!


Any Disney fan who don't own yet the great Imagineering book done by WDI Imagineers should have it!


Anyone who owns already the Disneyland Paris book "From Sketch to Reality" will tell you that it will make a gorgeous gift for Christmas. Even if i'm one of the authors of the book i can confirm that they're right, with its 320 pages and 750 pictures including 250 WDI renderings, you won't find a better book about a Disney park to offer this Christmas. No Amazon link for this one as there is a special Christmas offer on it at 85€ + 15€ shipping and you can use the Paypal button below or learn more about the book first HERE. Both English and French edition are still available.

Choose quantity and enjoy additional discount!


Great Disney Classics were released this year for the first time in Blu-Ray with additional special features!

Cinderella Blu Ray Diamond Edition is really a "Diamond"! The new Blu Ray copy is stunning and although we all know this great animated it was Disney animation at its best.


Brave is Pixar's latest animated and as usual they did a pretty good job on this one. All kids saw the movie in theater so you can't be wrong if you choose this Blu Ray edition as a Christmas gift.


Finding Nemo was released in 3D last September and the 3D version was stunning. The new Blu Ray edition is fantastic, and you can't be wrong if you choose this one! And yes, the Blu Ray include both the movie in Blu Ray and Blu Ray 3D.


Lady and the Tramp is another well known animated classic and there is many more great scenes in the movie than the famous Bella Notte spaghetti sequence! And, yes, it's also a Blu Ray "Diamond Edition".


The Avengers has been one of the biggest hit of the year and Joss Whedon did a real good job on this one. You can't disappoint anyone with this great Blu Ray edition.


If you don't own yet these Walt Disney Treasures Disneyland U.S.A and Tomorrowland 2 Disc Dvd sets you really have to. They were released years ago and you still can find them at reasonable price. With plenty of vintage footage both are a definitive must for any Disney theme park fan!




David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia is one of the most beautiful film in cinema history but believe it or not David Lean's master piece has been released in Blu ray edition only last November when this absolutely fantastic 50th Anniversary edition was finally released. The new Blu Ray copy was supervised by Robert Harris who did Lawrence of Arabia restoration 20 years ago and everybody agrees that "Lawrence" not only never look so great but also that it's one of the best copy ever done for a Blu Ray. 
Make sure to order the 50th Anniversary limited collector edition that you see above as it's the only one that include four discs, a special book and great new special features. And it also includes MY Lawrence documentary called "In Love with the Desert" that we filmed twelve years ago on the same locations where the movie was filmed in 1961!


Another David Lean masterpiece is also available in Blu Ray. "A Passage to India" adapted from E.M Forster famous novel is David Lean last movie and it's a wonder from the first to the last minute. Entirely filmed in India near Bangalore it's a great story of two women traveling for the first time in India early last century. A Passage to India is also the best film ever done about the British "Raj" era. The production is gorgeous and all actors are fantastic.


If you've never seen Alexander Korda production and Michael Powell's Thief of Bagdad you're missing one of the most "1001 nights" movie of all time. It's Hollywood golden era production and even the special effects were very good considering the era it has been filmed. And Miklos Rosza music is unforgettable. Note that this one is a Dvd edition as it hasn't been released yet in Blu Ray. Note that the Criterion Collection edition has a different cover image than the one above.


Orson Welles Citizen Kane is regularly at the top of the list as "best movie of all time", but have you ever watch the great "Mr Arkadin", Orson Welles other master piece? If not, you have to, it's an incredible movie and it will also make a great gift for any lover of classic movies. And good news, Criterion has released it in their splendid Criterion Collection.


Here is one movie you probably never heard about and it's such a wonder that Martin Scorcese and Francis Ford Coppola almost fell off their chair when they discovered the movie in a film festival 20 years ago. The movie filmed in glorious black and white was released in 1962 and was blocked since then by the cuban nomenklatura who didn't liked it when it was presented at Cuba's premiere. When the movie was finally released after Russia's Perestroika everyone considered it as one of the most beautiful movie ever done.
It tells the story of Cuba just before Castro revolution, and no, it's not a propaganda movie. All its beauty is in the way it has been filmed, all in sequence shots which means that there is no "cut" except when they had to change the roll each twenty minutes or so. Everyone will tell you how difficult it is to film a movie this way. But it's even more unique to film it this way and to do a masterpiece. It's a gorgeous movie, really!


Released last September the SONY DSC RX100 was instantly acclaimed as "the best compact camera ever made" - including by the New York Times. And you know what? It's true! I bought it last month as i was looking for a smaller camera than my Nikon D7000 and the pictures you shot with it are stunning. Why? Because the RX 100 has the larger sensor of its category, more or less two and a half bigger than others compact, and it's also a 20 M pixels camera. The colorimetry is fantastic as well as the black and white mode, not to mention Sony unique features like the "Hand Held Twilight" mode and the Panoramic mode.   
And, yes, you can shoot pictures in RAW format and HD videos in 1920 x 1080. And it has a beautiful metal body no bigger than a cigarette pack. Fantastic camera, really, you will be stunned by the pictures quality. The Amazon link below include a 32 Gb memory card.


I know, you don't need me to know that the iPad Mini has been released, but did you get one in your hand already? If not, go at an Apple Store near you and you'll be amazed not only by the usual Apple quality but also how light the iPad Mini is. Unbelievably light. And this changes everything as it means that you can have a great tablet device with you all day long without extra weight. And of course your kids won't have to buy new apps for it as you'll be able to install the one you already have on your iPhone. 


Whatever your choice will be in the items listed above you can be sure any of them will make a great Christmas gift! Happy Christmas for everyone!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Meet Barnabas T.Bullion, WDW Big Thunder Mountain Gold Magnate

You may have read this news early this week on other websites and i'm a little bit late on this one but i wouldn't have missed for anything to post this great portrait of legendary WDI Imagineer Tony Baxter as Barnabas T.Bullion. Who is Barnabas T.Bullion, you ask? Well, WDI Imagineers have imagined a new back story for WDW Magic Kingdom Big Thunder Mountain and here is the official enhanced storyline:

"Barnabas T. Bullion is the founder and president of the Big Thunder Mining Company. The longtime mining magnate comes from a powerful East Coast family and considers gold to be his very birthright by virtue of his oddly appropriate name; in fact, he considers the ultimate gold strike to be his destiny. And that is why he is having so much trouble with Big Thunder Mountain. According to superstitious locals, Big Thunder Mountain is very protective of the gold it holds within, and the unfortunate soul who attempts to mine its riches is destined to fail. And so far that prophecy is coming to pass. The mine has been plagued by mysterious forces and natural disasters ever since. And yet the Big Thunder Mining Co. is still in operation. In fact, Bullion is discovering new veins of gold and digging new shafts every day, offering a closer look at the Big Thunder mining operation than ever before. But a word to the wise for anyone attempting to visit the mountain: watch out for runaway trains."

I like the portrait very much, i think they did a very good job. There is also a new painting showing Big thunder Mountain and apparently both of them will be displayed in the new interactive queue currently being built at WDW MK.

And, as we're talking about Tony i thought you might be interested by this video interview done last August by the WDW Radio website in which Tony Baxter talks about his beginning at WDI.

Pictures: copyright Disney

Disneyland Paris Frontierland Video

David Goebel just posted a short but great video on Youtube showing DLP Frontierland. Those of you who've never been at Disneyland Paris will discover the "spirit" of Frontierland and Thunder Mesa. What i like in the video is not only the filming but also the editing which makes you feel the life on the Rivers of the Far West just like if you were in the real West. The part on Phantom Manor is still missing footage of the ride itself but it's a work in progress which will be edited in the near future and David of course plans to add shots of the ride.

And by the way, talking about Frontierland you'll find above this great aerial shot done by aerial pictures master Yann Arthus Bertrand. You have it in giant size in my Disneyland Paris "From Sketch to Reality book" on a spectacular double page! I remind you that there is a special Christmas offer on the book right now at 85€ for a collector copy instead of 120€, don't miss it!

Video: copyright David Goebel

Picture: copyright Yann Arthus Bertrand - Altitude
More infos about the Disneyland Paris book on the book website HERE , including a video showing you the whole book!

Choose quantity and enjoy additional discount!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Editor's Note: Ooops, it seems that i did a mistake yesterday in the copy and paste of the second video code with Walt talking about the Riverfront Square project. I just put back the right embed code, so normally you should be able now to see the two different videos in the article below. However i noticed that, strangely, even if i've embedded two different codes sometime two similar videos appear. If this is the case you can see the first one HERE and the second one HERE.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Riverfront Square, The Walt Disney Theme Park Project You Probably Never Have Heard About

After Disneyland opening Walt, with his teams of WED Imagineers, worked on many others projects. You know some of them even if they were never built like the Mineral King Ski Resort, but did you ever heard before about the Riverfront Square theme park project? And how close Walt Disney came to building an impressive five-story theme park in downtown St Louis just north of Busch Stadium in 1963?

Riverfront Square was planned to be built in St Louis, Missouri. Why the hell in Missouri, you ask? Well, it's time to remind you that Walt Disney spent a big part of his childhood in Marcelline, Missouri, and although i'm not here to play the psychoanalyst those who are will tell you that the first years of childhood will determine the future of any human being. That said, Disney had a deep affection for the state and St. Louis in particular. "Missouri typifies good, common sense Americanism," Disney wrote at the time. "Whether your roots are in the farm or in the streets of its bustling cities, I guess you can gather from this that I still have a fine warm spot for the old home state." So, i suppose that all this may have been a good reason why he choose the state of Missouri as a place to build his second theme park.

But, and although that after the construction of Disneyland Walt Disney publicly stated that he had no intentions of opening parks elsewhere, something happened. According to the "Walt Disney's Missouri" book, in advance of the St. Louis bicentennial celebration (planned for 1964), St Louis city leaders approached Disney about producing a film about the city. Forget about a movie, Disney countered, why not build a massive park based on Mark Twain, westward expansion, and the Mississippi River? So, in March 1963, Disney met with the mayor of St. Louis to discuss plans for the construction of a new theme park in the riverfront area of St. Louis, which was undergoing a major redevelopment for the city's bicentennial.

In addition to his Missouri roots, Disney was impressed with the new plans for the St Louis downtown area in the early 1960's, which included a new Busch Stadium and a nearly complete Arch and the theme park would have stood in the two city blocks north of Busch Stadium, which was being renovated at the same time. And of course Walt had his Imagineers draw up plans and design new attractions for this new park. Good news, i found back for you these rare plans thanks to two videos posted recently by the KSDK news channel. As usual, click on each to see them in larger size.

Riverfront Square was to be for the most indoors, contained within a five-story building, allowing for year-round operation. An atrium would stretch to the ceiling, where artificial lighting would simulate weather and time-of-day. The costs for the park were projected at $40 million, with a targeted attendance of 25,000 visitors per day.

The entrance to the park would have been similar to Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A, with one side of the street based on Old St. Louis, and the other based on Old New Orleans. Disney planned to utilize the Audio-Animatronic technology that had recently been developed by WED for the New York World's Fair. The top floor of the park would have housed a banquet hall, restaurant, lounge, and bar, overlooking the Mississippi river, in addition to having concession stands and shops throughout the park. 

Several classic Disneyland and Disney World attractions were apparently originally conceived for the St. Louis park, including what would later become Pirates of Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion , and a "Western Riverboat" ride. not to mention the idea of a New Orleans Square. In addition, the concept of an indoor Disney theme park would be returned several decades later with... the Disney Quest concept.

Other planned attractions included:

- Lewis & Clark Adventure, a ride based on the travels of Lewis & Clark expeditions.
- A ride based on folk legend Mike Fink
- A ride based on folk legend Davy Crocket
- An attraction based on the Meramec Caverns of Missouri
- Two Circarama theaters, with at least one of which would show a film about St. Louis
- A bird room 
- An explorable pirate ship
- An Opera House
- A wishing well

Below, the part of the plan showing the Opera House, New Orleans Stret and New Orleans Plaza.

The next one shows the plan for one of the Circarama Theaters.

A larger view of the part with the Circarama and what seems to be a big theater.

The "Lewis and Clark Adventure" and "Meramec Caverns" rides never materialized - although a ride based on Lewis and Clark expeditions was also envisioned for the Disney's America project (which also never was) - but the plans reflect Disney's deep affection for the State of Missouri. 

Below, a rare rendering done for the Riverfront Square project, supposedly showing the Lewis and Clark ride entrance.

As we know Disney always had plans for a "Haunted Mansion" even before the original Disneyland opened in California in 1955. But the Haunted Mansion concept was apparently refined in the St. Louis plans, which included a stretch room elevator down to the illusions below,' exactly the way the ride was built years later in several Disney parks," according to the "Walt Disney's Missouri" book.

As for Pirates of the Caribbean? "The St. Louis park was to feature a 'Caribbean Pirate's Lair' and a 'Blue Bayou' boat ride...the Lair and Blue Bayou boat rides later evolved into the Pirates of the Caribbean ride". below, the part of the plan showing the Blue Bayou ride area.

When Disney touted the plans for the St. Louis park in 1963, he was very enthusiastic about his new technology using "audio-animatronic" robots. The plans for "Riverfront Square" called for animatronic robots portraying Missouri legends like Lewis and Clark, Mark Twain, and even Napoleon. And on the first video below - right after a 15 seconds Ad - you'll see Disney during a St. Louis visit taken from the KSDK film vault, speaking about the Audio-Animatronics technology.

Note: I've noticed that, strangely, even if i've embedded two different embed codes sometime two similar videos appear. If this is the case you can see the first video HERE and the second video posted below HERE.

So why didn't it happen? The most popular version of the story holds that Disney knocked heads with August "Gussie" Busch, Jr. from Anheuser Busch over - guess what? - beer. Disney was firmly opposed to serving beer inside "Riverfront Square". It's an issue that KSDK asked Disney about during his visits to St. Louis in 1963 and they found back the tape.

Reporter: "Then it's your idea Mr. Disney that none of these places in this development will serve liquor?"

Disney: "Not within this complex, no. I mean there can be things outside if people want to go there, I mean tied in. But not within the same area. At Disneyland we don't even serve beer at Disneyland. At the hotel yes."

Reporter: "Is it a personal feeling with you about liquor?"

Disney: "Oh, no! I'll have a drink with anybody. Thing is, a lot of people don't believe in drinking and I respect their wishes."

Here is the video with Walt talking about the beer issue.

But the beer issue may not have been the only thing preventing "Riverfront Square" from happening. Differences over who would pay for the construction and an offer of cheap land in central Florida may also have heavily influenced Disney's decision to build in Orlando instead, according to "Walt Disney's Missouri". By July 1965, Disney announced that plans for the park would not move forward, because of a dispute over the financing and ownership of the park, and Disney's desire to focus his attentions on Florida for what would become the construction of Walt Disney World. 

So, even though St. Louis didn't get a Disney theme park, the plans for "Riverfront Square" live on in some of the most famous Magic Kingdom attractions in Orlando, Disneyland and others Disney theme parks around the world.

Pictures and videos: copyright Disney - KSDK

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Imagineering Behind the Scenes Video of DHS "Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow" Attraction

Walt Disney Imagineering released an interesting "behind the scenes" video that will show you a bit more of the making of the new "Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow" attraction that opened recently at Disney Hollywood Studios.  First, for those of you who still wondered if it was the real Johnny Depp who is playing Jack Sparrow in the show, and of course it's him. But the non-believers have now a proof with these video shots while he was playing...

...or at the end of the filming when Johnny is standing for a souvenir photo with the Imagineers involved in the making of the show.

There is also another interesting shot in the video showing the WDI model which was done for this new walk-through attraction. Imagineers Jason Surrell, Laura mitchell, Charita Carter and Jason Roberts will also tell you more about its making in the video below!

Finally, for those of you who were out of home for Thanksgiving last week and might have missed my previous article explaining why this new DHS show might be also a kind of technical rehearsal for the projection techniques that WDI is supposed to use in the new POTC version at Shanghaî Disneyland, don't miss it you will find it HERE.

Pictures and video: copyright Disney

Don't Miss the New "Disney Castles" Exhibit at Disneyland Disney Gallery !

There is a new exhibit at the Disney Gallery at Disneyland, Anaheim! The new exhibit is all about Disney Castles and you will see dozens of WDI artwork related to the different Disney castles they've built around the world. And i mean all kind of castles, not only the Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella castles but also others like the Beauty and the Beast castle recently built at WDW new Fantasyland or the Little Mermaid castle at Tokyo Disney Sea, etc..

In addition to all these great artworks you'll be able to see the model of Disneyland Paris castle! And it's not that easy to see it. Those of you who have never been to DLP will be able to "turn around" the castle, look at every detail of it...and understand why it's the most beautiful fairy tale castle WDI Imagineers have ever built.

On the Imagineering video below WDI Imagineer Kim Irvine, concept and show design director will tell you more about this new exhibit which should last six months.

Picture and video: copyright Disney

Sunday, November 25, 2012

DLP Update: Disneyland Paris Like You've Never Seen it Before ! Plus : Update Ratatouille Dark Ride !

I have a new Disneyland Paris update for you today, and we will also have a look on the construction of the Ratatouille dark ride at the WDS as the works are going pretty fast!
So, let's go to the park with new pictures from Max, D&M contributor and Dlrp Welcome webmaster. And you're going to see DLP and the WDS like you've never seen them before, i.e totally empty, with almost NOBODY in the parks! What happened, you ask? Well, nothing, except that Max wake up very early and entered the Disneyland Paris park at 8 a.m thanks to the "magic hours" and then went to the WDS at 8.30 a.m when it was also not opened yet to regular guests.

You have to know that between 8 to 9 a.m there is always almost no one in the parks. Then, generally, at 9 a.m, hotels guest are arriving and then the park open at 10 a.m. Max shot the pictures yesterday saturday and because it was the weekend the park opening time was 9 a.m instead of 10, but between 8 And 9 a.m the two parks looked like a ghost town! And yes, two Disney parks with almost no one inside feel strange, as you will see.

There we go and we begin by the Disneyland Hotel entrance to the park, in the early hours of the morning, and absolutely nobody waiting at the ticket counters or to enter the park.

Let's move to Main Street U.S.A. Nobody there, except two guests on the right.

A closer look at the Christmas tree and garland while we're there. And not more than fifteen people in all Main Street!

Arriving on Central Plaza - with not more than ten people...

Looking toward Main Street from the castle. Really not a lot of people on Central Plaza...

...except the snow men characters who are also waiting for the guests.

Let's move to Fantasyland through the castle. It's gonna be easy, there is no one in the castle too!

Is there anymore people in Fantasyland? Nope, just a family who could enjoy the whole land for them alone!

Peter Pan's Flight refurbishment is over and the ride is now open again! That's the first good news, and the second one is that there was nobody waiting in line when Max shot the picture - and when you know that Peter Pan's Flight always have long lines all day long in any Disney theme park you know that this IS a real good news.

Around 8.30, Max went to the Walt Disney Studios, may be hoping to see more people. Bad luck, almost no one too at the WDS!

From Front Lot to Production Courtyard to Toon Studios, nobody or almost!

A little bit of refurbishment on this facade wouldn't hurt. No big drama, though.

Now, if some of you are becoming anxious that DLP is now a ghost town, here is another picture shot by Max at 11.30 am, three hours later, of Town Square. And as you can see, everything was back to normal, with hundred of guests walking towards Main Street.

Let's go back to the WDS now to have a look at the works on the Ratatouille dark ride, scheduled to open in 2014. But first - you'll see why it's important - let's have a look back at the WDI artwork showing how this small land will look when it will open. Keep the artwork in mind when you will look at the pictures below so you'll know what will be what.

Here are the latest pictures shot this saturday by Max.

On the picture below, the left part should be the walls for the restaurant - as there will be a "Ratatouille" restaurant.

And on this next one the walls should be the one of what will be the ride entrance.

As you can see below they're finishing to put the walls on the show building and started to theme the top of the facade.

We're not totally done yet as Max also shot some pics of the new World of Disney store which has now Christmas decorations at its entrance. And, good news, the globe on the top is now turning again.

Hope that you enjoyed this new update. I remind you that from now until Dec 25 you can order a collector copy of the Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to Reality book at the special Christmas price of 85€ (instead of 120€) +15€ shipping. And let me tell you that "From Sketch to Reality" will definitely make a GREAT Christmas present to anyone you love, including you! As usual you can pay directly with Paypal or bank wire transfer. You can either use the Paypal button below or send me an email at:
Two important notes: first, we're running low of english copies so the sooner you'll place your order the better it will be as we're pretty sure that it will be out of stock by the end of this year. And, two, if you're living out of France the shipping can take quite a while, so to make sure you receive the book on time for Christmas - and avoid to have to pay extra "urgent shipping" cost the best is to place your order as soon as possible.
More infos about the book on the book website HERE , including a video showing you the whole book!

Choose quantity and enjoy additional discount!

Pictures and Videos: copyright Disney and more - DLRP Welcome, Disney Pictures: copyright Max Fan