Saturday, October 27, 2018

All of Presidents - Andy Thomas Paintings

No, it's not an article about the "Hall of Presidents" that you, Disney fans, are thinking about, but one about the great paintings of Andy Thomas. You may have heard recently about this painting showing a selection of famous Republicans Presidents having a drink, and one of them is Donald Trump. The painting - see below - was done by painter Andy Thomas and you may have seen it in the background during an interview of Trump at the White House, but it was not the original painting, Andy Thomas confirmed that the one at the White House is simply a high quality laser print and that he kept the original painting in his workshop.

Andy Thomas started his series of Presidents paintings years ago with famous ones showing Republicans or Democrats Presidents playing Poker or Pool or simply having a drink together, and himself is not in politics - his favorite presidents are Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He says he wanted to do "feel good paintings" and that's what they are indeed. They're also fun because he puts together people who for some never know each other and you can't stop wondering what Abraham Lincoln, sit in front of Trump on Thomas latest painting, would have thought of the Donald - my guess is that he most probably wouldn't have liked him. Most of the time they seem to have fun together and obviously one told a joke which make them all laugh, but you'll never know what the joke was.

Have a look at the pictures below, click on each to see them in big size - i let you find who is who on each painting and i suggest you have a read of these good interviews of Andy Thomas HERE and HERE in which he tells more about and why he's painting them, and you'll also discover others of his paintings about the Old West and even Pirates. Andy is a great “story teller” and collectors compare his paintings favorably to the works of Remington and Russell. Through his paintings, Andy allows the viewer to be a participant in the scene rather than a spectator.

Below, Democrats Presidents playing Poker with Andrew Jackson ( back ).

Republicans Presidents playing Poker with Abraham Lincoln ( back ).

Democrats Presidents playing Pool with Andrew Jackson. ( back )

Republicans Presidents playing Pool with Abraham Lincoln.

Democrats Presidents chatting and having a drink with Andrew Jackson. Franklin D. Roosevelt ( back )

Republicans Presidents chatting and having a drink with Abraham Lincoln ( back ). That's the one with Trump.

If you wonder who are the others Presidents on this painting, here it is. When asked who is the unidentified man coming in the background, Thomas answered "It's the first Republican woman president" - to eventually be elected in the future.


Three more presidents portraits painted by Andy Thomas, of Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.

Andy Thomas also did many paintings of the old American West, like these below, with a true "Frontierland" spirit. In the first one below, titled "Americans Storytellers" on the same principle than the president painting he put together people of different eras and you'll see Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Norman Rockwell. I have the feeling there is two American Presidents listening in the background - Ronald Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt.

Next painting below is titled "Huckleberry Finn" in tribute to Mark Twain young hero.

Next one below is titled "The Rescue".

Next painting below is titled "Leaving Old Mexico"

Next one below is titled "Cowboys ( playing ) Craps".

And this funny one titled "After the Poker Game".

He also did a few "Pirates" painting like this one below titled "...and the band played on".

Those of you interested by order some prints can do it either on HERE or  HERE where you can see many more of his paintings too.

Pictures: copyright Andy Thomas

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Legendary 1969 WDW "Project Florida" Movie Now in Pristine Condition Thanks to Stunning Restoration by Retro WDW - Plus: 1965 WDW Announcement Press Event With Walt Video

The good guys of Retro WDW did a stunning job of restoration on the legendary Walt Disney World presentation movie titled "Project Florida - 1971. Thanks to their awesome work we now have a pristine copy of this long awaited movie, filmed in 1969 to present the WDW project. Here is what Retro WDW has to say about it:

"This is one of the rare films we've all been waiting for...Project Florida. Produced in 1970 the film was presented on NBC's The Wonderful World of Disney, following the conclusion of The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin Part 3 on January 31, 1971. Its primary goal was to educate and excite the public about the construction and soon-to-open Walt Disney World. Since then, aside from a portion of the film released the DVD Magic Kingdom: Imagineering the Magic, the film in its entirety has been oddly absent from any other formal or informal presentation means, sans a screening on May 24, 2011 at D23's Destination D. Other than that, the only viewable footage was a horrible VHS to digital transfer on YouTube, so bad that at times you forget its even in color.

That has all chance we were able to obtain an original 16mm print of the film that was stored properly and was in great shape, but we had a minor problem - all the audio was in Portuguese. After scanning the film frame by frame in HD we implemented filters to stabilize, remove grain/scratches/dirt, crop, sharpen and color correct the film. Then our own How Bowers took the low-quality existing available audio and performed audio restoration, removing the warble and background noise as well as equalizing. The last step was the hardest, matching the frame rate of the Portuguese film (filmed at 24fps) to the timing of the English audio. Put it all together and what you get is the most pristine version you have ever seen of this film. You are truly going to be amazed and will see more detail than you ever have in the past."

And amazed you will be indeed. Not only you'll see plenty of original artworks, the now extinct preview center, WDI Imagineers at work in Glendale, back in 1969, but also the giant model for WDW Magic Kingdom - yes, the big red structure you see below in the background of the model was the one of Marc Davis legendary Western River Expedition attraction that never was...

But also the model of the Asian Hotel with a Thai architecture which was never built...

The first architectural design for the Polynesian Hotel...

The also never built Venitian Hotel...

And the Persian Hotel which also never was.

Go ahead, watch this awesome video which never looks so good and make sur eto visit Retro WDW website HERE.

Project Florida - 1971 from RetroWDW on Vimeo.

But years before the Project Florida movie was shot, in 1965, Walt Disney's with his brother Roy did the famous 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. make sure to read the article till the end as i have for you the full video of this 1965 press conference, which has never been 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,

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

More About an Indiana Jones Land Coming To Disney's Hollywood Studios

In its yesterday's article HERE Orlando Weekly talked about the long rumored Indiana Jones land which may finally "find a home at Disney's Hollywood Studios". Some months ago, another rumor was saying that Animal Kingdom Dinoland and the Dinosaurs attraction could be transformed also in an Indiana Jones land, but according to Orlando Weekly chances are that it will happen finally at DHS which is certainly the most logical choice for a land based on an iconic movie hero.

If it happens it will be in the area where the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular currently is, and according to OW the land could eventually "include the area where Star Tours is currently located, as well as most other aspects of the Echo Lake section of the park. Replacing not only the stunt show but also the area around it, the new Indiana Jones mini-land would be roughly 8 acres in size or about half the size of the Animal Kingdom proposal."

Orlando Weekly goes on saying that "Multiple attractions would be featured in the new land, likely including a signature E-ticket style attraction... ...the signature attraction for the Indy mini-land will be an indoor family attraction of some type that will use a previously realized ride system in a new way. Few details on the specifics of this ride have been shared by insiders, but it’s thought that this ride will compete with the two Star Wars rides as one of the park’s flagship attractions. As with Animal Kingdom’s plan, the DHS one does seem to include an outdoor roller coaster attraction. Both Disneyland Paris and Tokyo DisneySea have Intamin versions of the Pinfari TL-59 looping coasters."

Well, well, all this sounds good and, as i wanted to have a look at how big an Indy land like this would be, i've been on Google Earth checking this and here is two versions, the first one below include Star Tours ( which would be removed or deleted ) and this version will make an area of 41100 square meters ( 10 acres ), including some buildings currently backstage but leaving a bit of space for the needed backstage road going around the park. Click on the picture to see it in larger size.

The other version below does not include Star Tours and in both versions i've kept Echo Lake as i think they will keep it or at least a big part of it as they need to keep some water area in a park which don't have that many. And i also kept the building on the other side of Echo Lake. With this second version it makes an area of 26300 square meters ( 6.5 acres ).

In both versions they'll definitely have room enough to build an Indy land with a big Indiana Jones E-Ticket ride, and if they build Indiana Jones Adventure they will need room for the big IJA show building so let's see how big is the one at Disneyland Anaheim. As you can see below, according to Google Earth it makes ( ride show building only, not counting the long queue decor leading to it ) around 7680 SQM ( 1.89 acres ).

Now, if at DHS they build the ride show building backstage near the parking lot ( like they did at Disneyland, by the way ) as i'm pretty sure they will do, let's see how many square meters it would be. And as you can see it would make roughly 8170 sqm ( 2 acres ). So, it could works perfectly and they still would have an in-park area of 33000 sqm or 18000 sqm - depending if they delete Star Tours or not - to build the Indy roller coaster and a restaurant and shop.

Talking about an Indiana Jones coaster similar to DLP Temple du Péril or TDS Raging Spirits, Orlando Weekly says "If it does make its way to Orlando, the coaster will likely feature dual sides, similar to Animal Kingdom’s Primeval Whirl spinning coaster and Magic Kingdom’s Dumbo spinner." And this reminded me that, in fact, Disneyland Paris Adventureland Temple du Péril originally designed by WDI Imagineers Tom Morris and Chris Tietz was supposed to include TWO different coasters running on two different tracks, and for budget reasons only one was built at DLP - though shortly after the Temple du Péril opening the attraction was so successful that DLP wanted to add the second coaster and never had the budget to do it. I even saw at WDI at the end of the 1990's the model of this second coaster and it would have been a great addition for DLP. And if you want to know how it would have looked - and how it could look if they build this two coasters at Disney's Hollywood Studios, i even have the rendering - as it is in my Disneyland Paris book. On the WDI artwork below, the existing Temple du Péril coaster is on the left and the one which was never built is in the background on the right. Note that the second coaster was not supposed to have a looping, it was a very different track, which made the whole concept very interesting.

At Disneyland Paris the Temple du Péril makes around 2754 sqm ( not counting all the queue area ). If they have to double the temples at DHS that should make around 6000 sqm and let's add 1500 sqm of queue decor, which would make a total of around 7500 sqm, more or less. Considering, as i've said above that they still have between 18000 and 33000 sqm available it means that building the Indy coaster will be possible and this with TWO different tracks running on two different temples - something which would be definitely needed at WDW to have enough hour capacity.

In two words, they have enough room at Disney's Hollywood Studios to build a 8000 sqm Indiana Jones Aventure ride - or equivalent E-Ticket - plus the Indy roller coaster in its original two coasters versions, plus an Indy restaurant and shop and they'll still have room for plenty of lush tropical vegetation.

And by the way, if they build the Indiana Jones coasters what would be a great idea would be to include some great decor scenes they didn't built at DLP, like the one below.

Now, the question is: will they build an Indiana Jones land? Considering the upcoming Indiana Jones 5 movie and the usual taste of Disney for synergy, the answer is: most probably. And will it be at Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios? I put my bets on Disney's Hollywood Studios because it's the place where it makes the more sense to create an Indy land - it's still supposed to be a park about movies, after all, and even with the Star Wars Galaxy Edge addition the park will still need more rides - and also because the stunt show is one of the last remaining attractions from the old era of the Disney's MGM Studios. I like it a lot but after more than 25 years of existence i think it will get the axe.  We'll see which park will be the lucky winner of an Indiana Jones land, in the meantime let us know what you think in the comments section below!

Pictures: copyright Disney, Google Earth