Saturday, March 23, 2013

How Disneyland attractions inspired parks around the world - Part One : Europa Park's Pirates in Batavia

We all know how Disneyland famous attractions inspired others rides around the world and  today, in the part one of an articles series, we will have a look to how Pirates of Caribbean inspired the "Piraten in Batavia" attraction at Germany's most popular theme park: Europa-Park.

Europa-Park is run by the Mack family which have produced vehicles since 1780, circus wagons since 1880 and rollercoasters since 1921. The park was opened in 1975 to act as a showcase for many of their different ride models - for example, the Wild Mouse roller coaster. Although the park "borrowed" many ideas from Disney parks - beginning by Epcot's Spaceship Earth ball design - Disney is sometime interested by MACK ride systems for a Disney attraction. Recently, Al Weiss, Philippe Gas - DLP chairman - Georges Kalogridis - now at the head of DLR - were at Europa Park for a secret meeting as i told you in previous articles.

At Europa-Park, guests who ride the Piraten in Batavia attraction (Batavia was a city in the Dutch indonesia colony and is known now as Djakarta) can "witness the attack of wild pirates on a southeast Asian Dutch colony in 1619, which has been reproduced to perfection. Already in the entrance area, you are taken to the Far East and put in the mood for the adventures yet to come. You pass by sceneries with Dutchmen who are far away from home, and suddenly – a deafening cannon shot. Here, you won’t have a chance to get bored! Then, you start an adventurous boat trip through the exotic world of the seaport Batavia in the former colony Dutch East India. Become a witness of the pirates’ attack on a peaceful colony!"

Does this synopsis of the ride sounds familiar? Well, although Piraten in Batavia took a lot of its inspiration in Disneyland's attraction - as you will see on the video below - the quality of the audio-animatronics is not as good as the one designed by WDI. But thanks to the lighting and decors, may be the guests don't see the difference...which i doubt.

Picture: copyright and

Youtube video: copyright Alexhardrock whom i thanks a lot

Amazing Pictures of Walt

Here is a selection of "amazing" pictures of Walt for this week-end! The one above is an incredible picture, and i wonder if it's not my Walt favorite picture. He looks like he's "flying high", almost like in a state of "weightlessness". What a shot!

Back to Earth on the next shot with Walt with a sombrero, welcoming a mexican girl, and probably mexican musicians! 

On this rare picture probably shot during the making of 20000 Leagues under the sea Walt is holding a fake giant squid tentacle!

Walt as the driver of the Main Street "Carnation company fresh milk ice cream" car!

Pictures of Walt with children are always great, like this one showing him at Disneyland with children inside the Frontierland stagecoach...

...Or this other one on which he is literally surrounded by children of all ages!

Pictures: copyright Disney

Friday, March 22, 2013

Editor's Note: It had to happen, HKDL didn't raised its park entrance price since two years and it seems that the price of an entrance ticket will be up at least 10% anytime soon, i.e from HK$399 to HK$450 for adults, and from HK$285 to HK$320 for children which might hit particularly the locals more than tourists people. This price change will probably happen when Mystic Manor will open in May. More about this HERE.

Refurbished Grizzly River Run Re-Open at DCA - Video

DCA Grizzly River Run re-opened last week after long weeks of refurbishment. Although no bears audio-animatronics were added - contrary to the rumor which was saying that they will add the AA bears of HKDL Grizzly Gulch coaster - but the ride looks great and Dan McNeely just filmed a great HD video showing off some of the new details and most of all the great lighting the Imagineers put in place. All aboard, choose to watch it in high resolution, and don't worry, you will NOT get wet!

Picture: copyright Disney

Video: copyrightThemeParkHD

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Oz The Great and Powerful - Opening Title Sequence

The animated opening title sequence of Oz The Great and Powerful is absolutely gorgeous. It's a perfect introduction to the b&w "magic" sequence of the opening and Disney had the good idea to put it on line, so here it is, and choose to watch it in 1080p !

Picture and video: copyright Disney

38 Years Ago, Mission To Mars !

On March 21, 1975 Mission to Mars was opening at Disneyland, Anaheim. That was 38 years ago but the attraction, now extinct since November 2, 1992 still remain a beloved one in the memory of Disneyland fans - as well as WDW fans where the attraction closed one year later. The show was originally named Flight to the Moon and as we know it opened in 1955. In 1975, the destination was changed to Mars because man had already been to the moon. During that time, the attraction was considerably updated.

The show was initially sponsored by McDonnell-Douglas. After sponsorship ended, logos referring to the company were removed from the attraction, but the outline of the stylized tail fin in the McDonnell-Douglas logo still remains part of the former building's facade as you can see on this short Youtube video showing Mission to Mars entrance at night.

The show was designed in cooperation with NASA and was basically a revised and updated version of the previous attraction Flight to the Moon. Guests would now be launched on a spacecraft into space and then approach the surface of the red planet Mars.

Guests would first enter a viewing area known as Mission Control, which was modeled after a typical mission control center with chairs and control panels for about ten seated Audio-Animatronic "technicians" whose backs were to the audience as they moved their heads and arms. Facing the audience was the Audio-Animatronic flight director Mr. Johnson. He would then talk and show film clips to explain how man had made numerous advances in space travel and manufacturing in microgravity, and also learned how to deal with the effects of space. The lecture was interrupted once per show by an intruder alarm caused by a large bird crash-landing near the spacecraft launch pad.

After the pre-show, guests would move on and finally board their spacecraft. Inside was a circular theater with stadium-like seating with circular flat screens on the ceiling and floor. During the mission, guests could look at the views from outside the spacecraft from either of these screens. There were also side screens that showed film clips or graphics.

Below the theater room at the time of Flight to the Moon...

And below, for Mission to Mars.

"Third Officer Collins" was the tour guide, and discussed the mission as the spacecraft explored space and Mars. Eventually, the ship was damaged, possibly by a volcanic eruption, and the ship had to quickly head back to Earth. The seats in the attraction would simulate the vibrations and G-forces from "Hyper-space" during take-offs and landings by filling up with compressed air. Finally, the spacecraft landed safely back on Earth and Officer Collins would then urge guests to return and visit again. As he explained, "there's a lot more to see on Mars".

The attraction closed at Disneyland on November 2, 1992, and at the Magic Kingdom on October 4, 1993. It re-opened as the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter as part of the Magic Kingdom's New Tomorrowland on June 20, 1995 but that's another story...

Below two videos of Mission to Mars, the first one shows the pre-show with Mission Control room and the second one the show itself. Please note that the show was quite dark, so...

Another video in which you have the full pr-show and show all in one, this one was shot at Disneyland.

Pictures: copyright Disney

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

DLP Update : St Patrick's Day at Disneyland Paris, POTC Reopens, and more

A short DLP update today. Last week DLP celebrated the Welch St David's day and this week-end it was the turn of St Patrick's day, an important date for all Irish! Max Fan, D&M contributor and Dlrp Welcome webmaster was there and came back with videos of the event.

As usual everything has to be color green for St Patrick's day and Mickey and Minnie were the first ones!

Both of them will be later on a Main Street car during the Irish pre-parade, but also Tinkerbell, also in green clothes...

Here is the Irish pre-parade video.

The same day at DLP, guests could watch the Sarah Clark Academy of Irish Dancing with 
Chip and Dale.

But it's the special fireworks in the evening that everyone was waiting for,  and here is the full video of the 2013 St Patrick's day fireworks at DLP!

Last week-end was also the one of the re-opening of Pirates of Caribbean after two long months of rehab. Good news, It seems that the lighting has been enhanced and some show elements which were not working anymore are now back in place. Among them the famous duelists - that you will find only in the DLP POTC version - are now back, so even if no Jack Sparrow AA were added the ride had a pretty good rehab and, again, the lighting is impressing!

Mouetto, from the DCP forum has put online a video filmed just after the re-opening where you'll see briefly  these two duelists in action.

Many thanks to Max Fan and 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 a $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 and videos: copyright Dlrp Welcome.

POTC Picture: copyright Disney

POTC Video: copyright DCP forum

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Feld Entertainment Announcing a Marvel Superheroes Touring Live Show !

It looks like Feld Entertainment, the company behind the Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus and Disney on Ice, will produce a Marvel superhero live worldwide road show! 

From "Feld Entertainment Inc., which produces the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, along with a host of other live shows such as Disney on Ice, is announcing a partnership Wednesday with Marvel Entertainment to produce a live arena show featuring the Marvel universe of characters.

Exact financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But Kenneth Feld, CEO of Vienna, Va.-based Feld Entertainment, said he expects the show to open in July 2014, and tour arenas domestically and internationally, as the company's other shows do. Production costs will likely exceed $10 million, Feld told The Associated Press in announcing the partnership.

Marvel's chief creative officer, Joe Quesada, said dozens of people have approached Marvel about doing a live show of some sort over the years. The partnership with Feld Entertainment was the first with which he felt comfortable.

"You always have those questions - how are you going to keep it from being goofy, or silly, or unbelievable?" Quesada said. But the level of showmanship in Feld Entertainment's other shows made an impression.

"They're already doing feats that are superhuman to begin with," Quesada said of the performers that Feld Entertainment recruits for its circus and other shows.

Feld said his company's long-standing partnership with Burbank, Calif.-based The Walt Disney Co., which acquired Marvel in 2009, helped establish a level of trust between Feld and the Marvel executives.

The show is in the early stages of development in a new training center that Feld runs in Ellenton, Fla. Feld and Marvel said there is close collaboration to ensure the characters act in ways consistent with fans' understanding. Quesada said the director - veteran choreographer Shanda Sawyer, who has directed various iterations of the Ringling circus and won Emmy awards for her television work, took a deep dive into Marvel mythology that took him aback.

"We had to pull her back," Quesada said. "I told her, `I think you're even geeking me out.'" Trying to bring superhuman characters to life in a live show can be daunting and even dangerous, as evidence by the difficulties suffered in launching the Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." Several performers suffered injuries ranging from concussions to fractured skulls in what became the most expensive show in Broadway history. The $75 million show has since become one of Broadway's top earners.

"What they tried to do was new for them, but it's the stuff we do all the time in a lot of our businesses," Feld said.

The Marvel universe has thousands of characters - some household names and others known only to the most devoted fans. Feld said a live show provides an opportunity to present a wide variety of Marvel characters in a way that will appeal to even casual fans.

"There's so much mythology and lore with all of these characters - it's like going into this treasure chest of unbelievable gems," Feld said. "There are almost unlimited stories and shows we can create off these properties and characters."

While details of the show remain either under wraps or under development, Feld said the basic plotline is a no-brainer: "The world will be in jeopardy, and the Marvel superheroes will save the world."

Picture: copyright Marvel

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Star Wars Land for Disney Hollywood Studios ?

We already know that a Star Wars land is in project for Disneyland Paris Discoveryland but according to Lance from Screamscape another one might be built at Disney Hollywood Studios. For now, there is a lot of "IF" but Lance has learned that the park’s big parade will close and that there is also a rumor "that the Parade Float building may also be removed to make room for a new future project". We're talking here about the Parade Float building located backstage behind the Backlot Express restaurant which is close to Star Tours. 

So far, there is no signs that the Backlot Express will be removed too, but as Lance explains if they remove it, then the DHS will have "a fairly large space where they could possibly build a new Star Wars themed mini-land that could include the often rumored Star Wars Cantina restaurant project proposed for Paris". 

You've understood that we are here totally in the rumor section as Disney might have others plans for the "new project" they would put where the Parade Float building is currently. But, as Lance also says, considering that Disney can't build a Marvel land at WDW - because of the Universal exclusivity deal "east of the Mississippi" - there is no doubt that Disney will want to build instead a Star Wars land at one of its WDW property. And, considering that the DHS already have Star Tours and the Star Wars weekends each year the logic would be to build a Star Wars land there. 

As we know the DHS don't have a lot of room available around Star Tours and they can't really expand the park behind it as there is one of WDW Blvd right behind. So, as Lance think, they might find some room if they remove the Parade float building and the Backlot Express and i've did for you a Google Earth view - see the circled orange space below ( click to enlarge the picture ) of the space that Lance is talking about.

But, if Disney really needs a biiiig land to build a Star Wars land which wouldn't be only a mini-land but a real big land at the height of the fans expectations, why don't they take it on the parking lot nearby - the space circled in orange below - and then expand the parking lot in the back where nothing stop them to do it - the space circled in blue on the same picture? There might be of course plenty of reasons that i don't know which would make the operation more difficult that it seems, but technically it looks possible, doesn't it?

Anyway, which park - DLP or DHS - will be the first to inaugurate its Star Wars land, the future will tell!

Picture: copyright Lucasfilm, Google Earth

Sunday, March 17, 2013

All About Hong Kong Disneyland Mystic Manor, Opening in May !

It's now official, Mystic Point and the highly awaited Mystic Manor attraction will open at HKDL in May, in two months from now! This will be the newest WDI "haunted" manor - the last one designed by WDI Imagineers was DLP Phantom Manor in 1992. So, how will be Mystic Manor? What is the ride storyline? In this great article you will find all the answers with WDI original artwork, and the good news is that the ride will be almost identical as it was unveiled at D23 Expo some years ago.

Mystic Point will be the last of the three new lands to open at HKDL and when Mystic Manor will open it will be an "instant classic" attraction. Before i go further i want to warn you that there will be major spoilers all along the article. If you don't want to know anything about the storyline, this is definitely not the right article! Also, click on each pictures to see them in big and explore details. For real pictures of the manor itself - the outside - please go HERE.

So, in the story line that WDI Imagineers imagined, the Manor owner is an explorer called Lord Henry Mystic, a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. If you remember well, Harrison Hightower III, the owner of the Hightower building at Tokyo Disney Sea - i.e the Tower of Terror - was also part of the same society. At HKDL action is supposed to be in 1908 and Lord Mystic is still alive and exploring the world. He is inviting us to this remote outpost in the Jungle. Mystic has a friendly companion, a monkey called Albert.

In the first scene above Henry Mystic will appear and warn us that a new artifact - a box - that he just bring back from one of his expeditions is supposedly enchanted and must be open very carefully.

We will then enter the loading room and board in the attraction vehicles which, let's remember it, are not omnimovers like in the Haunted Mansion and will be able to move in any directions or even spin.

Albert the monkey is intrigued by the box and will try to open it. And when he does, just like the box of "Pandora", the forces inside the box will be unleashed. A mysterious smoke will get out of it and will start to take over the different rooms. All the artifacts that guests will see in all the rooms will suddenly and magically come to life.

Inside the next room - the Music room - music instruments will start to come to life. I won't be surprised if we find in this room some Haunted Mansion effects - remember the piano who play by itself in the doors corridor?

The Greco-Roman Mediterranean room will be the next one, and statues or paintings will suddenly be alive. Here too, Imagineers can use improved Haunted Mansion effects, and we should probably have audio-animatronics for the "live" statues.

In the next room, the "Nordic Chamber" , expect a cold temperature when the Vikings will come alive!

Scene seven, "The Armory", should be more frightening with suits of armors coming alive - hi again to another Haunted Mansion effect - arms trying to chop towards us and even canons will blast at us, allowing the Imagineers to take advantage of the spin motion of the ride vehicle that will spin away like if we've been hit for real. When i look at the blast effect in the rendering it reminds me the "ring of smoke" effect used in the Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull attraction at Tokyo Disney Sea, and i won't be surprised if they use the same effect for the canon blast.

Egyptian Mummy lovers should be delight with the next room - the Egyptian room - where we can expect mummies coming alive and interesting special effects on the Egyptians bas-reliefs.

The next scene is called "The Tribal Room" and there is two renderings for it. The first one below is not only a dramatic scene with the "lava" statue but is also interesting on other points. If you look at the left of the artwork you will see a Tiki room tribute with not only Tikis masks but also a Tiki drummer , exactly the same one that we can see in the Disneyland beloved attraction. If you look at the right part of the artwork you'll see other tribal masks who obviously are throwing darts. i bet you that Imagineers will use the same effect used in Indiana Jones Adventure when you go through the "dart" room, just before the scene with the huge rolling ball.

The second rendering seems to confirm what i've just said - but Albert the monkey have more difficulties to escape the darts and arrows...

In scene 10 - the Chinese room - a monkey king statue which stands in its center will come alive and create a turbulent vortex, like a tornado. Four vehicles will join together and, due to the tornado wind effect, will begin to spin in an amazing choreography. At this point Albert the monkey understand that if he doesn't stop all this hell he will be in trouble forever...

In the final scene Albert will try desperately to close the enchanted box. Of course, at the last second he will succeed and bring everything back down to normal. Right after that, Lord Henry Mystic will pop up and say "Hi everybody, i hope you enjoyed your trip, i'm sure there was no problem with any of the artifacts and that everything is fine. Please come back and visit again when you're in the neighborhood!".

Looks like an instant classic attraction, doesn't it? Personally, i can't wait for its opening which unfortunately seems to be schedule for 2013.

Let's have a look at other Mystic Manor artwork and model pictures beginning by the ride vehicle design researchs.

Let's end with two more pictures with the "big" model of Mystic Manor.

The story line of the attraction as described above is coming from an Imagineer video interview that you can see on Youtube HERE. The technical aspects are my own speculations.

For those of you who love WDI artwork i remind you that the Disneyland Paris "From Sketch to Reality book" which will tell you all about the creation of DLP include 250 WDI Artwork (!) and 500 pictures of the park on 320 pages. Have a look at the video below which will show you the whole book!

The book is still available either in its english or french edition and you can still enjoy a 20% discount special offer and the book is now available with an immediate shipping! Reviews from all those who have already received the book are "over the top" so, place your order now for a gorgeous collector's edition copy while the special offer on this wonderful book is still available! To know more about the book and how to order and send your payment please go HERE or use the Paypal one-click purchase button below.

Pictures: copyright Andy Castro

All artwork: copyright Disney - Disney Enterprises.