Friday, February 22, 2013

Long Awaited WDI Legendary imagineer Marty Sklar Biography Now Available For Pre-Order !

The long awaited biography of legendary WDI Imagineer Marty Sklar is now available for pre-order at special pre-order price of $14.99 only! I added it on the D&M Amazon store so you can order it directly on Amazon right HERE. I remind you that ordering an item on the D&M Amazon store is just like placing an order in Amazon and you'll pay directly to Amazon. 

It's difficult to find another WDI Imagineer who participated to the grand adventure of Disney theme parks from the start and Marty has obviously tons of inside stories to share, so this book will be one of the most awaited of the year for all Disney theme park fans! When Marty retired some years ago WDI did a fantastic party for him and D&M had the scoop pictures of it. If you've missed this article you can read it HERE.

Here is the book description, from Amazon: 

Marty Sklar was hired by The Walt Disney Company after his junior year at UCLA, and began his Disney career at Disneyland in July 1955, the month before the park opened. He spent his first decade at Disney as “the kid,” the very youngest of the creative team Walt had assembled at WED Enterprises. But despite his youth, his talents propelled him forward into substantial responsibility: he became Walt’s speech writer, penned Walt’s and Roy’s messages in the company’s annual report, composed most of the publicity and marketing materials for Disneyland, conceived presentations for the U.S. government, devised initiatives to obtain sponsors to enable new Disneyland developments, and wrote a twenty-four-minute film expressing Walt’s philosophy for the Walt Disney World project and Epcot. He was Walt’s literary right-hand man.

Over the next forty years, Marty Sklar rose to become president and principal creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering, and he devoted his entire career to creating, enhancing, and expanding Walt’s magical empire. This beautifully written and enlightening book is Marty’s own retelling of his epic Disney journey, a grand adventure that lasted over half a century.

Pictures: copyright Disney

Disneyland Splash Mountain Re-Opens ! High-Def Video

Disneyland Splash Mountain was closed for a long refurbishment and just re-opened this week. The ride looks more spectacular than ever and Dan McNeely filmed an incredibly good HD front seat POV video of the refurbished attraction which has the best low light quality of any video of Splash Mountain I've seen on YouTube. Enjoy!

Picture: copyright Disney

Video: copyright ThemeParkHD - Dan McNeely

WDI Video Shows New Interactive Features at WDW Big Thunder Mountain

As you know WDW Big Thunder Mountain is getting an interactive queue and WDI released a video which takes you on a tour of the interactive features. 

You'll be also interested to know that recently DLP Imagineering envisioned to do enhancements on both Phantom Manor and DLP Big Thunder Mountain. It has been postponed for money reasons probably and the one on Phantom Manor would probably include some of those they did at DL or WDW but for Big Thunder we didn't knew what they ere supposed to add. My guess is that they would probably do the same features that Imagineers are adding at WDW or DL Big Thunder, we'll see what it will be the day DLP will have the money to add them!

Picture and video: copyright DIsney

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Walt Disney's 1965 Walt Disney World Announcement Press Conference

I've found for you a real treasure, something that very probably you've never seen before: rare photos of the legendary Walt Disney's 1965 Walt Disney World announcement press event in Orlando, the day on which everything started for the "Project Florida" that will become Walt Disney World 6 years later. And you better read the article to the end as i have also found the full video of this 1965 press conference, which has never ben available in its entirety as generally only a minute or two were available.

So, everything began on this memorable day with the arrival Walt getting down from his limousine and arriving at the press conference center with Florida governor Haydon Burns.

Here is a few shots of Walt with his brother Roy and governor Haydon Burns sit at the press conference table.

Below, after the announcement, Walt, Roy, governor Haydon Burns and General William E Potter. 

So far, the pictures above shows what you may have seen before. But what you've probably never seen are the coming pictures, showing the cocktail party that happened after the press event, with Walt, Roy, and Governor Burns greeting people.

The funny thing is that you can see that they all wanted to meet Walt and have a photo shoot with him! On the next pics, just like after a wedding (!) everyone comes to salute and congratulate Walt!

On the next picture, Walt, Roy, and Governor Burns and his wife.

I bet you've never seen Walt with so many women around him!

No jealous, on the next one it's men surrounding Walt and Governor Burns.

Okay, and now on with the show with the rare full video of this 1965 WDW announcement! Please note that the video has no sound until 1.40 min and then the sound begins with the press conference.
Also, you'll see how funny it is to see Walt doing all what he can to avoid to disclose ideas of the WDW project when journalists ask him questions about it. Another not-to-be missed moment is at the very end of the conference. Walt, Roy and the Governor stand up and start to move out of the table but not Walt! He's suddenly intrigued my one of the microphones on the'll see it, it's at the end and there is something truly extraordinary in it, here is why. 

Normally, in each video in which we can see Walt, the show has been staged and Walt is "playing" Walt Disney as the great showman that he was. But, basically, it's a perfect "under control" Walt that we generally see. Now, in this 1965 press conference, and although he looks a bit tired, for most of the time he is the Walt "playing Walt" that we know. But at this very last minute we can see a totally different Walt that we don't see in regular shows. Instead to move out of the table for a picture session, he is suddenly intrigued by this microphone and if you look well - i should say if you "feel" well - for a few seconds his mind is totally "out" of the press event. Any corporate guy would have make sure that the "corporate show" would have had no flaws till the end and would have kept a "corporate" attitude. But not Walt. Suddenly, it's just like if the press event had ended and all his mind is "in" this microphone mystery (apparently it seems to be about a Virginia seal on it, or so ). 

And what i like in this moment is the true simplicity of Walt. There is something very true from him happening at that moment, no ego, nothing, just something very simple, and you understand that it was probably in the same way that he was looking at new ideas, projects, models, etc.. that were presented to him at WED enterprises. His natural enthusiasm was important but you need to have this without-ego-simplicity to have genius, and here is a very rare moment during which we can have a glimpse of it. 

Pictures and video: copyright State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

DLP Book " From Sketch to Reality " Collector's Edition Now Available on eBay and Amazon !

Here is a good news for those of you who prefer to buy on eBay or Amazon as i've put my "Disneyland Paris From Sketch to Reality" book on sale at the links below, in "buy it now" mode . And i confirm that even if you order it on eBay or Amazon and not directly to me all buyers will receive the great surprise gift! :

On eBay in english collector edition HERE and on eBay in french collector edition HERE 
Note that eBay links will change each week.

On in english collector edition HERE  and o
n in french collector edition HERE. 

Those who wish to order it directly to me are of course welcome and will be able too to pay the book with Paypal, just send me an email at:

Ni No Kuni, first video game with animation directed by Hayao Miyazaki Studio Ghibli

If, just like John Lasseter, you consider japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki as a genius you'll be pleased to learn that Ni No Kuni, Wrath of the White Witch, first video game with animation directed by Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli is now released. And, according to reviews, for the first time ever we have the feeling to play "inside" a Miyazaki movie.

Not only because of the quality and the sensitivity of the animation but also because of the themes included in the script, this philosophy with which the hero wants to unify people. The game is available for PS3, and as i didn't try the game personally it's difficult for me to tell you more. So, the best might be to have a look at the trailers below and to reviews like this one on IGN in english or this one in french HERE. And also at the game website HERE.

Videos: copyright Bandai - Studio Ghibli

WDI Patent of a Floating Omnimover Ride Technology

Former Imagineer Mark Hickson and webmaster of the Disney by Mark website has found an interesting WDI patent which is an invention of a "floating omnimover" which has been approved by the U.S patent office... yesterday! Basically it would be a never-ending chain of boats all linked together but contrary to real omnimover they won't have the ability to turn left or right to show scenes. 

It'll be interesting to know on which kind of ride WDI expect to use it. In the meantime, you have one of the patent drawings below and do the jump to Mark's site to see more about this right HERE

Picture: copyright Disney Enterprises

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg Announces the Opening of THREE Theme Parks in Russia !

When Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg decides to announce a new theme park he don't do it half way! Yesterday he announced that Dreamworks will open in 2015 THREE indoor theme parks in Russia, one near Moscow, one near St Petersburg and one near Yekaterinburg! And not only that, Dreamworks is also challenging Universal Studiso for the title of first major theme park operator in Russia - as Universal plans to open their park near Moscow in 2018, and this is just saying how theme-park market is heating up in Russia!

More from The Moscow Times: 

"DreamWorks chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg announced at a Moscow press conference that his company will open parks near Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg in 2015, or more than three years ahead of NBCUniversal's Galactica Park in Moscow.

With the designs for the parks done and two of the sites acquired, "we're ready to go," Katzenberg said in an interview with The Moscow Times. Each site is expected to consist of a year-round theme park, 400-room hotel, concert hall, 4-D movie theater and a mall, and those components will be launched simultaneously at each site.
"They're not being built in stages or in phases," he said of the parks.
Katzenberg, a heavyweight among U.S. studio chiefs, said he has met with city officials, such as representatives from Moscow Mayor's office and with federal officials to promote the DreamWorks plan.

The cost of building all three DreamWorks parks will be roughly $1.5 billion, said Amiran Mutsoyev, a board member of Regions Group, which is DreamWorks' development partner for the ambitious project. The price tag for each park will be about $500 million and will depend on the specifics of the site, he said.
Regions has already acquired the land for the St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg projects, but it hasn't yet bought up the needed parcel for the Moscow region site, Mutsoyev said.

Both Mutsoyev and Katzenberg acknowledge that they are competing with NBCUniversal and the Universal Studios complex that it is planning to open in southern Moscow in 2018.

NBCUniversal announced its plans for Galactica Park in April, saying it was joining hands with U.S. promoter Anschutz Entertainment Group and Russian conglomerate Bin Group to build a 22-hectare complex. It is supposed to include a 150,000-square-meter Universal Studios theme park, which is likely to have rides and adventure zones. There also will be two hotels with a total of 1,100 rooms, two office towers, a sprawling shopping complex, a convention center and an indoor water park.
Like the DreamWorks proposal, Galactica Park is supposed to be an enclosed space that can be used year-round, even during Russian winters.

Mutsoyev said the DreamWorks sites will have a competitive edge over Galactica Park because they are targeted to children and teenagers, segments more profitable than the adult one, according to Regions' own research.

Regions signed a licensing agreement with DreamWorks to build and manage the sites in all three cities, the companies said. On Friday, Katzenberg said both Regions and DreamWorks staffers "have spent countless hours together in Moscow and Los Angeles, side by side," to design the sites. 

Within each theme park section, there will be five to six different zones based on the most popular film franchises at DreamWorks, such as Shrek, the good-hearted green giant with bugle ears, and Kung-Fu Panda, Katzenberg said in the interview.The character zone will have rides, shows and lots of interactions with costumed versions of the characters, he said."

Well, it seems that everybody is rushing to Russia while Disney have no plans to open a park there and that our russian friends will discover soon american themed theme parks! Let's hope that either Dreamworks or Universal will do a good job 
and that the three Dreamworks parks won't be too similar!

You can read the full article on The Moscow Times web site HERE.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Editor's Note: Don't miss my others today's posts and news on Disney and more Facebook page - including the first clip of Oz The Great and Powerful, an official video from Universal Singapore about the new Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase, and more! D&M Facebook page is right HERE

Walt Disney Studios Winter Pictorial Update

I just received yesterday these new pictures from Max Fan, D&M collaborator and Dlrp Welcome webmaster and they fit well after my yesterday's update as some of them are showing the Walt Disney Studios Backlot.  Sure, when Max shot the pictures one week ago it was still snowing and freezing and you can count - literally - how many people were inside the WDS that day, but you'll see WDS Backlot and will probably understand why a really well themed Marvel land would be welcome here.

There we go, starting with the Rock and Roller Coaster facade - picture above - hiding in fact an industrial building with the coaster in it. Right in front of the Blockbuster Cafe - formerly Backlot Express - a New York yellow cab, snow include - but the snow is not coming from New York!

The entrance of Moteurs, Action stunt show. I wonder if there was a show that snowy day, with a ground covered by snow... i wouldn't bet on that.

The facade of the Armageddon attraction, if we can call it a facade. That's the one i'm betting it's doomed if a Marvel land is built.

Except if you love freezing temperatures and to be alone in a theme park, there was not really one good reason to be at the WDS that day.

Yes, it looks cold and, boy, looking at the guests you can feel how cold it was that day.

That said, Cinemagique lighting looks nice in this winter atmosphere.

Never seen Hollywood Boulevard under snow? Well, here it is.

Walt statue with Mickey at the exit of Studio 1. With this kind of weather and wearing this kind of suit Walt would probably be frozen if he was not in bronze.

The entrance of the park which probably did closed early that day...

Sunset time, time to go back home, and drink something hot!

Let's end on a good news as since these pictures were shot the temperatures are rising and the snow disappeared!

See you soon with a new DLP update and in the meantime those of you who are interested by the great Disneyland Paris From Sketch to Reality book might have a look at the presentation article on the book web site HERE. And you can order it with $45 / 35€ special discount by using the Paypal button below!

Important Note: We're running low of the ENGLISH collector's edition copies of the book and we know that soon the english collector's edition will be sold out. If you don't own the book yet and wish to order a copy please do it as soon as possible!

Order your copy of the acclaimed Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to Reality book while there is still copies available! You'll find all infos to order an ENGLISH edition HERE and for the FRENCH edition it's HERE. Watch below the video showing the whole book!

Choose quantity and enjoy additional discount!

Pictures: copyright Max Fan

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Disneyland Paris Update

"Disneyland Paris and Lucasfilm have already worked together on attractions involving Captain EO, Star Tours and Indiana Jones. These are countless opportunities for both teams to work together in the future and we hope that this will continue. It is actually something that we are looking into, but there is nothing concrete right now."  With these sibylline words Philippe Gas during a round table meeting with DLP stockholders last week, probably involuntarily, has transformed what was until now the "Star Wars Land rumor" in a true project for Disneyland Paris. So, it's now official, DLP Imagineering is indeed working on a Star Wars Land for the back of Discoveryland and from what i've been told DLPI even envision two phases, and the phase 1 as i told you in a previous article some months ago will see the update to Star Tours 2, a Jedi Academy inside what is now Captain EO theater, a Starcade, and the arrival of the Cantina bar/restaurant, probably located where is now the Pizza Planet restaurant behind Space Mountain. I think they will probably keep the big space available on the left of Star Tours, between Star Tours and It's a Small World where is currently the VIP Tent used during DLP special events for the Phase Two of the project, but that's just my thoughts.

However, you'll note that Philippe Gas, during this event didn't mentioned a date but it doesn't mean that this Star Wars Land won't happen. For many reasons i still place my bets on this project, first because they know they can't stay with the original version of Star Tours forever, two, because they don't know what to do with the Captain EO theater, and three, because the Star Wars episode 7 is announced for 2015, not to mention the spin-off movies also announced by Bob Iger last week, based on Star Wars characters. There is no one good reason that DLP won't built this Star Wars land except of course the money reason but don't worry, they will find the money. 

And if you want to know why, here is why and it's pretty simple: as you know the WDC announced last september that they will do a loan of 1.3 billion to Disneyland Paris to help DLP refinance its debt. In two words, now instead to owe this huge amount of money to the banks DLP owes it to the WDC. Also, the WDC acquired recently LucasFilm for 4 billion dollars. And you don't need to be a genius to understand that Bob Iger surely wants to have a return both on the LucasFilm investment and get back the money of the loan that the WDC did to DLP. And guess what? the both are linked. Iger surely wants some Star Wars lands in Disney theme parks and DLP precisely need one to boost the park attendance to be able to give back the money that they owe to the WDC. Eventually, if DLP results are not good enough to finance Star Wars land the WDC probably will need to "give" them the money to do it but as i've said, don't worry, they'll find it.

Now, what else did Philippe Gas talked about during this stockholder event. In the "attraction section" he revealed that Walt Disney Studios next ride - after Ratatouille - won't be a Pixar ride. It's an interesting news as last year Gas mentioned that another ride based on Toy Story characters was envisioned for the WDS. Everybody understood that he was probably talking about Toy Story Mania, so we know now that TSM will not be the next WDS ride, although it might come later. Talking about Ratatouille Philippe Gas also said that the ride will be exceptional with big capacity per hour and that a shop will also be built - in addition to the restaurant - next to the ride. He also added that the ride should make the guests hungry, and it's probably  in relation with the fact that a big part of the ride is supposed to happen inside Gusteau's kitchen.

What else for the Walt Disney Studios? Oh, something big, but this one was not mentioned by Philippe Gas so we still have to consider it as a rumor: apparently DLPI have the project to transform WDS Backlot in a Marvel land. Considering that this part of the park is probably the one which needs the most a big placemaking i think you can also put your bets on this Marvel Land project. Which by the way is not called like this inside DLP but under the ( code? ) name of "Marvel Experiences". What kind of "experiences", you ask? I'm sorry to say that i have no more infos on this one, except that there is a rumor that Spiderman might be part of it, but no info if Spidey will come as a ride or anything else ( but of course it won't be the IOA ride which is Universal property ). Anyway, i have some thought about these Marvel Experiences but what is coming next is pure personal prospective. 

My feeling is that, partly for money reasons, they might do a mix of new rides with a re-theming of existing rides. For instance, if this Marvel Land is built i think that the Armaggedon attraction is probably doomed and would be replaced by a new ride - why not the Avengers ride on which WDI Imagineers are supposed to be working on for Disneyland's Tomorrowland - if it's not moved to an Anaheim third gate? As for the Rock and Roller Coaster they could also remove it and put a brand new ride but i wouldn't be surprised if instead DLP Imagineers would imagine a brand new theming, with a new storyline, etc...and keep the coaster. No need to say that the former Backlot Express restaurant in front of it would get a Marvel theming, too. For the Lights, Motors, Action stunt show it's different. This one is a real big one, taking a lot of space and although they could create a totally different story and change the Meditterranean facades of the decor for new ones inspired by the Marvel universe, i'm not 100% sure they will choose to do it. Considering the huge space, they could be tempted to use it for something new but the cost might be also too high and may be they will simply re-theme the show and create new stunts which probably will cost less. Again, these are just my thoughts, i'm probably wrong and i don't doubt that DLP Imagineers have totally different plans - and better ones - for these "Marvel Experiences". But as long as these won't be Marvel photo locations only, i'll be okay with them.

Philippe Gas also announced others interesting things and about the Disney Village area he apparently said that the World of Disney store was just the first step of what will be a big placemaking of the Disney Village which will continue to change and expand. The Villages Nature project is another big one that DLP is doing with real estate co Pierre et Vacances as well as water parks co Center Parks. I will come back later this week on this one with a big update and you'll be surprised to see how big the project is for DLP even if it won't be a theme park. 

DLP also envision to bring the controversial Magic+ Magic Band at DLP and also to extend the Christmas season as they realized that the russian Christmas is happening later in January - yes, more and more Russians are traveling to France and go to DLP! 
Finally, Philippe Gas said that the re-financing of the company ( thanks to the WDC, see above ) is a big opportunity for DLP and we certainly do agree with him, don't we?

O-Kay, that's all for today , see you soon with a big update about the Villages Nature project and in the meantime those of you who are interested by the great Disneyland Paris From Sketch to Reality book might have a look at the presentation article on the book web site HERE. And you can order it with $45 / 35€ special discount by using the Paypal button below!

Important Note: We're running low of the ENGLISH collector's edition copies of the book and we know that soon the english collector's edition will be sold out. If you don't own the book yet and wish to order a copy please do it as soon as possible!

Order your copy of the acclaimed Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to Reality book while there is still copies available! You'll find all infos to order an ENGLISH edition HERE and for the FRENCH edition it's HERE. Watch below the video showing the whole book!

Choose quantity and enjoy additional discount!

Pictures: copyright Disney or Disney and more

Monsters University : A Message From The Dean Ad

Pixar released a second Monsters University "ad" , i.e that the video is done like if it was a real TV Ad for a real university. Not only it's well done and hilarious but may be it's even better than the trailer itself!

Picture and video: copyright Disney - Pixar