Saturday, November 29, 2014

Universal Orlando Harry Potter Hogwarts Express is in Fact a Funicular Railway !

I've learned something today about Universal Orlando Hogwarts Express that i didn't knew. Well, may be you were aware of it or may be it's obvious when you do the ride between Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure... And i learned it thanks to a post from Swiss company named CWA.

So, in fact the Hogwarts Express, although having all the aspects of a real steam train ( locomotive, smoke, whistle, etc... ) is in fact a funicular railway, meaning - if i've understood it well - that the Hogwarts Express doesn't go from USF to IOA like a steam train, thanks to the power of the  locomotive, but pulled by a machinery at both ends of the track on which are attached a system of cables. If you don't know what a funicular is, here is the Wikipedia definition:
"The basic idea of funicular operation is that two cars are always attached to each other by a cable, which runs through a pulley at the top of the slope. Counterbalancing of the two cars, with one going up and one going down, minimizes the energy needed to lift the car going up. Winching is normally done by an electric drive that turns the pulley. Sheave wheels guide the cable to and from the drive mechanism and the slope cars."

Generally a funicular is done when there is a big slope, which is not the case here, but it can be done also when it's not the case, when the track is flat. So, basically the Hogwarts Express locomotives, even you can see the steam and hear the whistle is probably not used to pull the train between the two parks. Again, this is what i've understood from what you'll read below, and if i'm wrong please let me know. That said, the illusion works pretty well, and you need to have a real close look at videos to finally see the cable underneath. Okay, it kills a little bit the magic knowing that it's not totally a "real" steam train but not too much, that's okay.

Update: A kind D&M reader - Simon De Bruijn - sent me these pictures in which you can see the mechanism of cables located under the train. The last picture shows that even some of the steam which seems to come out of the train is in fact coming... from the ground!

Here is more infos about the Hogwarts Express from what CWA has posted recently, and i also have a great video for you right after it:

Swiss expertise is embedded in the all-new Hogwarts Express experience, created for guests of Universal Orlando Resort by Universal's creative team.

From July 8, the Hogwarts Express began transporting guests between Hogsmeade Station at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure to Kings Cross Station and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, in Universal Studios Florida. The two lands are expansive, themed areas that include shops, restaurants and the attractions, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

The four-minute Hogwarts Express journey transports visitors between the two lands, giving them a chance to ride the iconic train.

The various components making up the new funicular railway mostly come from Switzerland, from the companies Garaventa, CWA Constructions S.A. and Frey AG, Stans. The Hogwarts Express, composed of two carriage sets, is a faithful reproduction of the iconic locomotive from the Harry Potter films. The train is made up of a steam locomotive, a coal tender and three passenger carriages, all the product of engineering from Switzerland.

A unique railway project

As general contractor, Garaventa AG entered into new territory in building the Hogwarts Express. Due to the significant weight of the train (overall length around 70 metres) and tight curve radii and high rope tension, a funicular railway in this form had never before been built. Garaventa AG is proud to have mastered the technical aspects and designs needed to create a one-of-a-kind funicular railway that is true to the Harry Potter films and honoured to have been entrusted by Universal Orlando Resort with recreating such a beloved and iconic element of the Harry Potter stories.

Lightweight construction with a venerable appearance

When visitors board the Hogwarts Express, they have Swiss craftsmanship to rely on. To achieve a faithful visual reproduction, Garaventa commissioned CWA Constructions S.A. in Olten, a company specialising in the construction of innovative funicular railway cabins and also part of the Doppelmayr / Garaventa Group. Faithfully reproducing every detail of the Hogwarts Express was a unique challenge for the Swiss cabin builders. The carriage set is constructed to look of solid, heavy iron and wood sections and the interiors of the carriages are accurately lit and equipped with best-in-class entertainment systems to innovatively present the most realistic images, sound and acoustics.

Controls ‘made in Stans’

For the controls behind the funicular railway, general contractor Garaventa commissioned a third Swiss company, Frey AG from Stans in Nidwalden, on the state-of-the-art wiring of 42 train compartments for film and sound installations. Additionally, Frey AG Stans was tasked with outfitting all compartments with industry-standard technical equipment traditionally used in the construction of both aerial funicular systems and funicular railways, enabling a fully automatic railway drive system.

Technical details

Year of construction: 2014
Length: 676 metres
Speed: 3.4 m/s
Number of trains: 2
Diameter of haul rope: 46 mm
Diameter of counter rope: 46 mm
Diameter of line sheaves: 400 mm
Track gauge: 1800 mm
Weight of locomotive: 13 tonnes
Weight of tender: 15 tonnes
Weight of carriages: 27 tonnes

North station drive
Required rated performance: 215kW
Required peak performance: 636kW

Companies involved in the project

General contractor for railway engineering:
Garaventa AG

Compartment construction:
CWA Constructions S.A., Olten

Funicular railway controls:
Frey AG, Stans

We'll end with this pretty interesting video of a trip between Kings Cross Station and Hogsmeade Station and the reason why is because not only he filmed the stations up to the exit, which allow you to have a better view of how all this is for those who haven't been to Universal Orlando yet, and the ether reason is because how they've resolved the problem of a family boarding the train with a large twin stroller - the wall of the last compartment of the wagon is literally "opening" to let the twin stroller go inside it!

Video: copyright Temporary Tourist

Friday, November 28, 2014

Gift of the Day : Star Wars 7 Millenium Falcon Scene Imax Version

The gift of the day celebrates the return of the Millenium Falcon in Star Wars : The Force Awakens with this picture in large size and 300 dpi in the IMAX version, so with a much bigger frame than the widescreen version!

Picture: copyright Lucasfilm

Star Wars : Episode VII - The Force Awakens Official Teaser Trailer !

All-right, enough Star Wars 7 fake trailers,  this time it's the real one, the Star Wars : The Force Awakens teaser trailer you're all waiting for - and with bonus screen captures!

Pictures and video: copyright LucasFilm

Gift of the Day : Walt Disney and the Original Epcot Map

Gift of the day: the famous picture of Walt Disney in front of the original Epcot map - as envisioned when Walt was alive. Click on it to get it in large size!

Picture: copyright Disney

Thursday, November 27, 2014



C'est le "Black Friday" et d'aujourd'hui Vendredi 28 Novembre à Dimanche soir minuit 30 Novembre il y a une promotion "Black Friday" qui vous permet d'acheter le livre "Disneyland Paris, De L'esquisse à la Création" en version française COLLECTOR DEDICACEE  au prix de 65€ ( au lieu de 100€ ) + 15€ de frais d'envois en colissimo recommandé.

Vous pouvez régler par Paypal, chèque ou carte bancaire. Pour un règlement par Paypal, connectez vous directement à votre compte Paypal et envoyez directement les 80€ à:

Pour un règlement par chèque ou carte bancaire envoyez moi un email à: et je vous donnerais les infos nécessaires pour le règlement.

Et, dans tous les cas de figure, envoyez moi un email à : avec votre adresse d'expédition AINSI que le prénom de la personne à laquelle vous souhaitez que le livre soit dédicacé.

Cette promotion "Black Friday" uniquement valable sur l'édition collecter dédicacée prend fin Dimanche soir à minuit, heure de Paris.


It's "Black Friday" today and from today Friday, November 28 to Sunday November 30 midnight, Paris time, there is a "Black Friday" promotion which allows you to purchase the book "Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to creation" book in the FRENCH COLLECTOR SIGNED Edition for 65 € ( instead of 100 € ) + 15 € shipping.

You can pay by Paypal or credit card. For a payment by Paypal, connect directly to your Paypal account and send directly the € 80 to :

For a payment by credit card please send me an email to: and I will give you the needed informations to proceed to the payment with your credit card.

And, send me an email at: with your shipping address AND the first name of the person you want the book to be autographed.

This "Black Friday" promotion is only valid on the FRENCH COLLECTOR SIGNED Edition and ends Sunday night at midnight, Paris time. For the ENGLISH edition of the book please see on the top of the right column where you have a great Christmas special offer for the english updated edition.

Universal Studios Japan Space Fantasy Ride, Winner of 2012 THEA Award for "Outstanding Achievement Attraction"

As i told you last week the 2014 winner of the prestigious THEA Award for "Outstanding Achievement Attraction" is Universal Studios Diagon Alley's Escape from Gringotts", an award that it fully deserves. And in 2013 the winner was HKDL Mystic Manor, which was also fully deserved. But who won the award in 2012? It was Universal studios Japan Space Fantasy a roller coaster ride which might loos a lot like Space Mountain - guests are sent across the universe and travel through galaxies but with such technical improvements that it is a kind of Space Mountain "on steroids".

I did an article about it four years ago but i found recently an excellent video filmed by Theme Park Review that you really must see, and that's why i'm coming back talking about this ride that most of you, not living in japan, may not know well. Below, what i was saying in my previous article to introduce the ride, but first the full ride POV video.

Space Fantasy is not a simple roller-coaster as it is a "spinning" roller coaster! Designed if i'm right by MACK each part of the train - in which guests sit back to back - is spinning during the ride, but not during all the ride. Described by Universal Studios as "a new ride to experience the Universe" guests are "departing from the Earth with the mission to save the Sun". According to the press release aboard the "solar shuttles" "You will have a close-up view of the stars and exploring through the asteroids, and experiencing the changing speed which varies along with the story. At the climax of the ride, you will encounter and go into the Sun!" So, it's a space themed roller coaster and just like at DL Space Moutain the ride is full of galaxy projection effects or even huge meteorites like at DLP.

Screamscape who was the first to talk about it some months ago had a better description of the ride: “Once the guests departs from Earth, they will see the big beautiful planet Earth in all its glory, and once slowly moving further away from Earth into deep space, passes by Nebulas, and a Milky way like Star field that looks like a Water Fall, called, the Star Fall. Once they pass thru the Star Fall, they will go around the ring of Saturn, and through the shooting star showers, and other small planets, until nearing the Mercury, pass by Mercury, the guests close in to the SUN.”

There is also some characters that guests discover during the queue-pre-show of the ride - including a talking communications satellite named “G-Bot”, and a Solar Princess born in a supernova called Kosumia: “Kosumia knowing that the sun is losing energy, was holding a crisis. To save the sun, (she) realize that he (the sun) needed the human energy we have, that puts toward the sun appeal to guests.” So, on a certain point of view it's a Space Mountain with a Japanese story-line, but that's not the problem.

The other technical innovation - which is also great - happen during the ride (and also during the queue) and is interactive. Designed by GestureTek this revolutionary 3D camera tracking and multi-touch systems takes visitors into the future of entertainment as "the ride is equipped with 3D cameras and projection systems. This lets visitors control the content on the screens around them by simple hand gestures, enabling them to collect “Stardust Clouds” from the LED displays in a 98-foot, in-ride tunnel"!

More about this amazing in-ride innovation from GestureTek press release: "Using 3D cameras that scan the surrounding environment and detect movement, GestureTek created an innovative and exciting way for guests to interact in free space with dynamic multi-media imagery in the pre-ride area. On the actual ride, GestureTek's touch-free multi-touch interface adds a collaborative element to the rider experience, so that guests can interact together with on-screen elements while working towards a common goal."

In the Pre-ride area "Space Entities Engage with Passers-By, Reacting to Users' Movements and Gestures. Visitors line up next to 85 feet of motion-driven 'Harmony Walls' designed to provide a unique and engaging interactive experience. Using an array of 22 integrated 3D depth cameras, 13 projection systems, a custom-designed tracker and 16 rack-mounted quad-core computers, GestureTek created an intelligent, vision-equipped environment where the heads of up to 66 guests and 132 hands can be tracked. The system's tracking capabilities track an entire audience and their specific gestures, providing visitors with the ultimate interactive experience."

"GestureTek managed the creation of fun custom content featuring animated intergalactic ‘sun fairies’ that tumble, fly, lead visitors and scatter in reaction to visitors' movements and gestures. "Our 3D tracking system can be configured to respond to a broad range of one-handed or two-handed gestures, including swipes, circular motions, pokes, waves and more," said Francis MacDougall, GestureTek's Chief Technology Offer. "The Space Fantasy attraction primarily utilizes intuitive pointing gestures, to guarantee easy and immediate user interaction, with no learning curve."

During the ride: "Riders Collect ‘Star Dust’ To Save the Sun". As part of the ride, GestureTek's multi-touch software and custom-designed camera array powers an interactive experience where, for the first time ever, riders can control content on the screens around them, simply by gesturing with their arms. The premise of the Space Fantasy ride is the impending death of the sun. As guests travel by cart up a 98 foot in-ride climbing tunnel lined with Barco LED display tiles, they can collect energy from the ‘Stardust Clouds’, that will be used to re-energize the sun."

"The tunnel ride is the first ‘in-ride’ device-free interaction that we have seen," said MacDougall. "GestureTek is one of a very few organizations possessing the in-depth knowledge of cameras, infrared and multi-touch required to isolate multiple hand movements while ride cars are in motion."

Let's end with two more videos which were included in the previous article.

Pictures and videos: copyright Universal Studios Japan

If you enjoy Disney and more, thanks for your support!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to All D&M American Readers !

It's Thanksgiving today in the U.S, and i wish a happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers wherever you are! What, the same "Mickey Thanksgiving" image than last year? Yes, but because it's Thanksgiving, this time this one is in "poster" size, much larger format and in 300 dpi!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Picture: copyright Disney - Inspired by Norman Rockwell

Partnership Between Disney and Turner Classic Movies for Disney Hollywood Studios Great Movie Ride to be Announced Tomorrow !

Great news for Disney Hollywood Studios Great Movie Ride attraction as the New York Times reveal that tomorrow will be announced a partnership between Disney and Turner Classic Movies, which include enhancement of the queue and more. It's even a double good news as it also mean that Disney will not tear down the iconic Chinese Theater replica when the big hat will disappear:

From the New York Times: "The Turner Classic Movies cable channel is joining with two divisions of the Walt Disney Company for an agreement, to be announced on Wednesday, that underlines how media giants are increasingly collaborating on content-marketing efforts.

TCM will help the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts division make changes to the Great Movie Ride, a long-running attraction at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios section of Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

In return, TCM will receive “Presented by” credits at the attraction on posters, banners, display windows, marquees and the like, which will also display the TCM logo.

In the other part of the deal, another Disney division, Walt Disney Studios, will provide TCM with vintage movies, cartoons, documentaries and episodes of TV series like “Disneyland” and “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” for a periodic programming block on the channel under the banner of “Treasures From the Disney Vault.”

The block will be offered by TCM “roughly four to five times a year,” said Charlie Tabesh, senior vice president for programming and production of TCM.

“Disney films and other programming have been seen a little bit on TCM, but not much,” he added. “It will be exciting to dig into the vault and see classic Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, ‘The Wonderful World of Disney,’ ” he said.

The initial block of Disney programming by TCM is to run from 8 p.m., Eastern time, on Dec. 21 through 5:15 a.m. on Dec. 22. “It’s a Sunday night,” Mr. Tabesh said, “a perfect family night and getting close to Christmas.”

Among the nine scheduled items from the Disney archives are “Santa’s Workshop,” a 1932 cartoon; “The Disneyland Story,” in which Walt Disney himself describes in 1954 plans for the park named Disneyland that he opened in Anaheim, Calif., the next year; “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier,” edited from episodes of a “Disneyland” serial about the frontiersman; and “The Vanishing Prairie,” a nature documentary.

The changes for the Disney World ride are scheduled to be introduced in the first quarter of 2015, perhaps in the early spring. What visitors see as they wait for the ride and watch as part of the finale will receive a reboot under the aegis of TCM, playing on its reputation as an expert in classic film.

Among the new elements will be a video featuring Robert Osborne, the host who has been the face of TCM since the channel began operations in 1994; he will identify himself as “from Turner Classic Movies.”

The idea is to “inject TCM brand authority” into the ride, said Pola Changnon, vice president for brand creative and on-air promotions at TCM, and “pique the curiosity” of visitors, encouraging them to explore the world of classic film once they are home.

Full article on the New York Times website HERE.

Picture: copyright Keane Arase

Gift of the Day : Two 1950's Aerial Shots of Disneyland

Gift of the day: two aerial shots of Disneyland in big size, one shot before 1959, probably 1956 - the Matterhorn, the Monorail and Submarine Voyage are not built yet - and the other post 1959,  New orleans Square and POTC are under construction... Click on each to get them in large size.

Pictures: copyright Disney

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

First Trailer of New Peter Pan Movie, "Pan" !

I have one more great trailer for you today with the first trailer of the new Peter Pan movie called "Pan"! I remind you that it is a prequel and Hugh Jackman is playing Blackbeard and not Captain Hook who is played by Garrett Hedlund.

"Offering a new take on the origin of the classic characters created by J.M. Barrie, the action adventure follows the story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny—to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan."

Picture and video: copyright Warner Pictures

Jurassic World Full Trailer Released !

Two days earlier than what was scheduled the full first trailer of Jurassic World is online and it looks awesome! I remind you that action is supposed to happen 20 years after the first movie and a real Jurassic Park is now open on Isla Nublar! here is the trailer and more below with HD giant screen captures!

So, a "real" Jurassic Park is now open on Isla Nublar, and guests reach it by boat...

A monorail take the guests inside the park, through the gates of Jurassic World...

Here is our first view of inside Jurassic World...

...where guests can meet dinosaurs either by safari truck - a bit like the one at DAK Kilimandjaro Safaris... 

...or explore Isla Nublar rivers to encounter Apatosaurs and Stegosaurs...

...or board in a "Gyrosphere"...

...for a close encounter with giant Diplodocus.

The park also has a huge arena where guests can attend something similar to a Sea World show...

...except that here it's a huge shark which is scarified to be eaten by a giant marine dinosaur.

Of course, something will go terribly wrong when the new giant genetically created dinosaur will be unleashed...

And, yes, velociraptors are back and chasing Chris Pratt!

I remind you that the movie will be released iN 3D and for once, the 3D should be welcome! Jurassic World will be released in theaters next June!

Pictures and video: copyright Universal Pictures

Tokyo Disney Sea Mysterious Island Artwork

Gift of the day: Tokyo Disney Sea Mysterious Island artwork in large size. Not perfectly totally sharp the but the best i could get from the original file i had!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Will They Build at Disneyland Paris the New Peter Pan's Flight Stand By Queue Decor ?

This week-end, without any announcement, a great new addition opened at WDW Magic Kingdom Peter Pan's Flight. Now, WDW guests who are in the stand-by queue enter the Darling house and move through the kids room, a hallway, etc.. before embarking for the ride. It's a fantastic addition to one of the most beloved ride in Disney Parks history, and i let you first have a look at this Youtube slide show video below with pictures done by the Temporarytourist website who did a great pictorial article about it.

Looks great, isn't it? Now, my question - and yours, probably - is: will they built it at Disneyland Paris where, knowing that there is almost always a 45 min wait, it would be very welcome as it'll help to wait indoor instead than in the cold or rain which can happen quite often at DLP. But first let's have a look to see if they CAN do it, if they have the needed space to do it. Here is an official picture of DLP Peter Pan's Flight facade...

Now, if they build this new indoor termed queue decor it will be on the right of the building, so let's zoom...

Apparently it looks they should have the needed room but to make sure that we're right let's have a look from above thanks to this Google Earth 3D view...

If you click to enlarge the picture you'll see that they very probably DO have the room to add it, on the right of the entrance in the zone where you see the red and white umbrella ( circled in white ). And eventually they can take a bit on the space located on the right of it where there is outdoor tables and chairs for the Mr Toad restaurant ( circled in orange ) where there is rarely a lot of people. It's a bit up, not really on the same ground level, but that's no big of a deal for DLP Imagineers.

So, my guess is that, yes, they have the room to build it. Now, the other question is: will they DO it? It's always difficult to answer this kind of question with DLP as projects can change so quickly but if i remember it well i think i've heard recently that they're planning some attractions upgrades for DLP 25th Anniversary. And, knowing that Disneyland Anaheim will also have soon a Peter Pan's Flight upgrade with plenty of new projection effects my guess - and it' just my intuition - is that they WILL do it for DLP 25th Anniversary.

Another reason is because Peter Pan's Flight is one of DLP guests favorite ride, so always packed with most of the guests having to wait outside. And considering the long winter and freezing temperatures that can happen easily, more than any other Disney Park in the world DLP Peter Pan's Flight really need this addition. So, let's hope they'll be smart enough to do it!

Pictures: copyright Disney, Google Earth, Temporary Tourist Blog

Teaser Trailer For Jurassic World !

Universal Pictures released a short teaser for the full Jurassic World trailer coming on Thursday, November 27th. It's a short teaser but you'll see the very first footage from the awaited sequel to the Jurassic Park movies, in which will play Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins and of course plenty of dinosaurs.

"Steven Spielberg returns to executive produce the long-awaited next installment of his groundbreaking Jurassic Park series, Jurassic World. Colin Trevorrow directs the epic action-adventure from a screenplay he wrote with Derek Connolly. Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley join the team as fellow producers. Jurassic World is set 22 years after the terrifying and tragic events of the original Jurassic Park. It will be released on June 12th, 2015."

Among the interesting shots from the teaser two showing the guests visiting what has became a true theme park.

And the introduction of two of the main actors: Chris Pratt ( Owen ) ...

and Bryce Dallas Howard ( Claire ) .

Here is the teaser!

Pictures and video: copyright Universal Pictures