Saturday, June 8, 2013

Editor's Note: As i told you previously we have now less than twenty copies of the Disneyland Paris From Sketch to Reality book in its english collector's edition, and if you don't own the book yet, it's now or never! And those of you who like to buy on eBay can find it at the links below, but hurry up as the auctions end in a few hours!
For the english edition it's HERE and for the french edition it's HERE.
OR: send me an email to place your order at :
More infos about the book with plenty of pictures and videos HERE.

Choose between french or english edition -Price include shipping

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bob Iger in China Announces that "Shanghai Disneyland will feature a series of unique attractions"

Bob Iger was at the Thursday's Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu last wednesday and announced that "Shanghai Disneyland will feature a series of unique attractions". Below, the full chinese article, and excerpts of a transcript of his talk after it:

"Contrary to the belief in some quarters that the Shanghai park will be like others elsewhere in the world, it will be a "China Disneyland - authentically Disney and distinctively Chinese", Robert Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Co said during a visit to Beijing.
There will be a castle and other attractions that are new or different to attractions elsewhere but which have some similarities, Iger said.

He took office in 2005 and has been personally involved with the Shanghai project since 1998, taking part in negotiations that took 11 years. He said it is important for the Shanghai park to incorporate sufficient elements that people in China not only feel culturally relevant but culturally unique. "There will be entertainment and show elements that will be very Chinese in nature, performed by Chinese, and designed, directed and created by artists from China," he said. 

The Shanghai park is scheduled to open by the end of 2015, a decade after the launch of the Disney resort in Hong Kong. Iger is optimistic about market potential for the two parks in China, the only country in the world outside of the United States to have two Disney parks. "Because of the vastness of China and the size of the population, we believe that for many years China can sustain more than one park," he said.

Iger added that the mobility of Chinese people and the popularity of the country as a destination for visitors from around the world meant there was plenty of scope for two parks.About 40 percent of visitors to Hong Kong Disneyland are from the Chinese mainland.

"By the time it opens, Shanghai will be more ready than ever before," Iger said, adding that in Hong Kong the company has learned a lot and will bring some of this experience to the park in Shanghai.
It has continued to invest in Hong Kong Disneyland, expanding in three new areas. The park reported a net profit of HK$109 million ($14 million) in 2012, the first annual profit since it opened in 2005.

Though Iger did not rule out opening parks elsewhere in China in the future, he said the priority today is to build a "great park" in Shanghai for visitors from all over the world.

In 2012, Disney posted record revenue, net income and earnings per share, thanks to the box-office success of the movie Iron Man 3, parks, cruise ships and new investment in Hong Kong, California and Florida. Localization is the key to the Disney strategy. "When it comes to culture, the world is not flat," Iger said. "Disney cannot take our culture and export it to China." (End of article) also posted a long transcript of Iger talk and here is the part of it related to Shanghaî Disneyland. Iger also talked about Iron Man 3 and movies and you can read the full transcript HERE:

"...It’s very, very important that while we bring Disney to a market we make sure that in that market it feels like, for instance, China’s Disney. It can’t just be the Disney that exists in carbon copy form somewhere else in the world.
Where we’re most in tune with this is the development and the design and the construction of Shanghai Disneyland. We spent 11 years negotiating for the ability to bring Disneyland. Disney has had four parks around the world, two in the United States and California, and in Orlando, one in Paris and one in Tokyo. Tokyo opened 30 years ago. And some time in the ’90s started looking further a field in Asia for other markets. Hong Kong was an obvious one. But, even back in the ’90s China was starting to show signs of emerging. And it’s amazing when you think about what’s happened since then, of course, because it doesn’t look anything like it did then.
And the company made a decision that Hong Kong should come first, that Shanghai, and we looked at other places in China, but it was clear that Shanghai was the number one choice, that Shanghai should come second. So we negotiated a deal to put Disneyland in Hong Kong, started the negotiation in Shanghai, and that lasted 11 years, 11 years. I was involved since 1999, and dealt with multiple entities, all with a desire on the Chinese side to bring Disney here. But, there were some very, very large complications on so many levels, financial and creative and logistical, and you name it.
But, finally we were able to close a deal, break ground in 2011 and the castle is going up as we speak. There will be soon some 14,000 workers living and working on the property, constructing Disneyland Shanghai in Pudong, actually, to open some time late in 2015. Now that can’t be the Disneyland that Walt built in 1955 for all kinds of reasons. But, it can’t be the Disneyland that Walt built in California, because this is China. It has to look, feel, resemble China’s Disneyland. And that has taken a lot of thought, a lot of work. Now, there will be things about it that will look very familiar. It has a castle. And there will be things about it that will not exist, or that don’t exist in any of the parks that we have.
You never know 100 percent [about local sensitivities] until you open it. You listen to a lot of voices and a diversity of opinion about it. And one of the first things that we discovered is that the initial people that we were dealing with were of one generation, had certain ideas, but there were whole other generations, and there were other geographies in China that had different ideas. So we essentially collected a multitude of opinion, and ultimately when you’re creating something you can use all the research in the world that tells you what you’re supposed to make. In the end it comes down to the gut feel of the creator to make what they really felt would they want to make, but what they feel is right, what the audience wants. In the end this will really be our decision, but based on a lot of time spent in the market and a lot of collaboration, a lot of listening, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that we’ve done it right and chances are there will be things about it that won’t be perfect, and we’ll learn and adapt quickly.
By the way, one of the interesting learnings, I don’t mean to belabor this, but one of the things that we discovered in Hong Kong, which is very different than anywhere else in the world, is that the people who visit Hong Kong Disneyland like to spend twice as much time eating than they do in Florida, or California, or even Paris and Tokyo. We couldn’t figure that out. So when people take twice as long to eat you’re turning tables over in a restaurant basically at a much lower speed. And we didn’t have enough. We just didn’t build enough eating capacity. Now, we quickly adjusted, but that’s something all the research in the world I don’t believe would have taught us. By the way we made sure the menu was right. But, we didn’t get it quite right in terms of how long it would take them to eat the food that we were making." 

Knowing what i know about ShanghaI Disneyland attractions i can tell you that Iger is right when he says that "there will be a castle and other attractions that are new or different to attractions elsewhere but which have some similarities". Some rides of SDL will indeed be brand new, others will be new versions of Disney classic attractions ( like the Pirates of Caribbean ride ) but most of the "distinctively Chinese" will be find more in SDL shows than rides. That said, yes, Shanghaî Disneyland will be a new kind of Magic Kingdom and i'm sure that everybody will enjoy it a lot!

Picture: copyright Disney

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Highly Talented Artist Eric Heschong Passed Away At 62

I have a very sad news for you today as highly talented artist Eric Heschong, who did gorgeous artworks for WDI and many others companies passed away at 62 years old last Tuesday of a lung cancer. Very very sad news indeed. Eric paintings have been an inspiration for many artists who admired his work - like Greg Pro, also creating artwork for WDI - and personally i 've always been a huge fan of Eric's artwork since i discovered ten years ago his artwork for Walt Disney Imagineering, and it was the fantastic Tomorrowland '98 paintings that you can see above and below.

Among other paintings that Eric did for WDI there is this beautiful painting of the Mark Twain Riverboat. Actually, this one was not an order from WDI, Eric did this painting for himself!

Tokyo Disneyland fans will be highly interested by Eric's next artwork as it is an artwork that Eric did for a TDL project that never was. This "Fantasia" art-deco style building looks gorgeous don't you think? This "Fantasia" store was a project of Imagineer Eddie Sotto and was anchored by a huge animated sorcerers apprentice fountain inside, a miniature golf course on the roof and a restaurant. Unfortunately the project was shot down at the last minute and the "Bon Voyage" shop was built instead.

Eric also did great artworks for Landmark Entertainment, but first let me tell you more about Eric's career. Eric Heschong learned to paint at the now defunct Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Studios. Later, he worked doing tight architectural illustration. And then for Landmark Entertainment, a company specialised in attraction, theme parks and resorts or casinos design. If you don't know Landmark, it's them for instance who designed the Terminator 3D attraction for Universal Studios and the amazing Spiderman ride at Islands of Adventure. At Landmark, back at the end of the 1990's Eric worked with Chuck Cancillier who was the designer. Chuck would do pencil layouts and then hand them off to Eric for paint. Every so often, he'd be asked to do the layouts.

"Working for Landmark was a fun time for me" told me Eric. "I enjoyed the work and tried to please. I used my portfolio from Landmark to get work at Universal Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering. Most of the work I did at Walt Disney Imagineering was for Tony Baxter."

We will now have a look at his paintings for Landmark, some of them are from his early work, but no need to say they were all gorgeous.

The first one above, is a painting of "Emerald City" which was done for a Wizard of Oz park that was supposed to go in somewhere in Kansas. Landmark didn't mind that Eric's Emerald City looked nothing like the one in the movie.

This next painting with the purple rocket was for a Paramount Pictures park. A Willie Wonka attraction (on the right) and a Godfather's restaurant (on the left) were to be featured.

The two next paintings were done of course for a Star Trek attraction. I don't think these scenes/decors were realised but Landmark is the company who also did the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas.

The next concept with this copper colored space station was actually built in South Korea.

This next painting of Bluto Bay decor was done by Eric for the Toon Lagoon Popeye area at Universal Islands of Adventure.

Eric also did this concept-art for a James Bond "Licence to thrill" attraction. First, i thought he did it for a previous concept of the Walt Disney Studios "Motors, Action!" stunt show, as i knew WDI envisioned to do the stunt show on a James Bond theme. Then it was cancelled and i always thought it was for a rights/license problem, that the Bond license was too expensive, etc... In fact not, it's probably because Paramount Parks got the rights to do this "License to thrill" attraction. The attraction existed for real from 1998 in three or four diferent Paramount parks.

Landmark also designed Hotels and Casinos, and Eric also did paintings for these, like this 1999 ”Muwi Kingdom Hotel” concept for Inchon, South Korea.

This next bird's eye view was to be a casino/hotel called The Desert Kingdom for Las Vegas to replace the Desert Inn. But the Desert Inn was sold to Steve Wynn who built the Wynn Hotel instead.

Eric's painting of the interior lobby was incredibly spectacular - i should say dazzling. That's the one below, with the griffins.

This next concept-art with the movie theaters and trolley car was done for a Navy Pier concept in Chicago.

This one too was done for the Chicago Navy Pier concept.

This Eric' 1998 acrylic painting shows a land called "Cartoon Ville" part of a proposal for a "Shanghai Movie Park" in China.

The two next paintings called "Metropolis Metro Entertainment Center" were done by Eric for a Shanghai Metro Entertainment Center.

The concept-art below show a "Nautical Sports Dome" for a Niagra Theme Park.

"U.S.O. with Bob Hope" is the name of the Cell Vinyl on illustration board concept below.

Eric next painting was for a "Rhythm and Blues Area" in a Grammy Exposition.

As i told you Landmark did lot of concepts for casinos. Here are some paintings that Eric did for casinos. Let's begin with the Las Vegas Caesar's Palace and this concept-art for a 1995 "Caesar's Exterior Expansion".

The next one shows a new inside decor proposal for the Caesar's palace...

And this one, always at the Caesar's, was called "Casino of the Gods".

This next 1999 painting from Eric was named "Secondary Gaming-Train Station", a proposed expansion of the Barona Casino in San Diego.

”Rooftop Casino” is the name of the scene below - obviously inspired by the rooftop of Paris Opera (where by the way i walked upon for real some years ago for a photo shooting!).

This next 1997 painting ”Monex New York Casino” was another kind of "rooftop" view for the Century City Monex.

"Starlight Restaurant Interior” is the title of Eric's artwork below, designed for Phantom Phantasy Casino.

These two 1993 acrylic paintings were Eric's concepts for the Harrahs Hotel/CasinoLaughlin in Las Vegas. The first one is called "Harrahs Laughlin" and the next one "Plaza Scene"

Always for the Harrahs in Las Vegas, this last artwork from Eric was called "Mardi Gras".

I want to thanks Eric Heschong and Landmark Entertainment who provided me the pictures files and authorisation to post them when this article was posted some years ago. We will miss Eric and his amazing paintings and today is really a sad day. Very very sad one.

Artwork: copyright Landmark - Eric Heschong - Disney Enterprises

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Disneyland Paris Update : Big Thunder Mountain Trains Rumor, and more

Here is the part two of my Disneyland Paris update and this time we will have a look at DLP Magic kingdom thanks to pictures from Max Fan, D&M contributor and Dlrp Welcome webmaster.

As we can see in these first pictures, and although the day Max shot the pictures was a bit cloudy,  spring and flowers finally arrived at DLP!

Let's move in Main Street towards Discoveryland...

...where rocks of the entrance are really not in good condition...

...and need some restoration, but for now they are just hidden by a wall of plants.

We're now in the back of Discoveryland and here are the three locations that shouldn't look the same in two or three years when the expected Star Wars land will be built... once the park will have found the money!

The Captain EO Theater will be transformed - in a Jedi Academy?...

...and the Pizza Planet will disappear and instead the famous Star Wars Cantina restaurant will be build, probably at the same location.

Let's move to Fantasyland and Casey Jr where after several months with the two Casey Jr trains missing their last wagon, only one train still miss it.



In Adventureland, the Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost is currently closed for refurbishment...

Right in front of it, though, the works are almost over on the "cool post" and the ATM location.

In Frontierland, Big Thunder Mountain is on maintenance until June 14, in addition to the new disabled guests access currently built. That, if i can say, is for the GOOD news, as there might be a real bad one: a quite strong rumor is saying that DLP might take out the locomotives currently at the front of each BTM trains to replace them by a single wagon, like the trains have, for instance, at HKDL Grizzly Mountain ride where trains don't have locomotives in the front. First, yes, the rumor is true and they really thought about doing this but the good news is that the idea has apparently been cancelled and BTM trains will keep their locomotives, thanks God!

But why would they do this theming sacrilege, you ask? Well, the first thing that we can think of is that having a new wagon would add 6 more people for each train, and so increase the ride capacity... but in fact DLP was not thinking to do it to increase trains capacity but to keep capacity almost the same with fewer trains. There are so many breakdowns caused by slow loading or unloading that they want to increase the distance between trains. So, in this case there’d be a maximum of 4 instead of 5 trains on the track. Right now they are studying some different proposals to increase each train’s capacity while keeping the engine at the front, and we'll see if any changes happen.

And that's all for today's DLP update! 

As i told you previously we have now less than twenty copies of the Disneyland Paris From Sketch to Reality book in its english collector's edition, and if you don't own the book yet, it's now or never! Don't miss the $45 Discount on the Disneyland Paris book! Order in one click with the Paypal button below ! 

Don't miss the Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to Reality book, in which you have the whole park in 320 pages with 750 photos including 250 WDI renderings. Last english collector's edition copies, french collector signed copies are also always available. And we do a special price right now on it with a $45 / 40€ discount on the normal price, so order your collector copy while we still have copies available as we're really running low on the english copies. You'll find below a one click Paypal button as well as a video showing the whole book. And you can have more infos about this gorgeous 320 pages book HERE.

Choose between french or english edition -Price include shipping

Pictures: copyright Max Fan - Dlrp Welcome