Friday, February 7, 2020

BREAKING: Coronavirus Outbreak: Hong Kong Lawmakers calls on Hong Kong Government to Look at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotels as Quarantine Centres

Coronavirus outbreak: Hong Kong Tourism lawmaker calls on Hong Kong government to look at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort hotels as quarantine centres as community outbreak is declared in Hong Kong. Hong Kong government decided a mandatory 14-day quarantine in hotels and other facilities for mainland Chinese entering the city as part of its escalated response to the contagion, and ministers are scrambling to find quarantine sites as confirmed infections increased.

Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, a leading microbiologist and infectious-diseases expert at the University of Hong Kong, said many of the 21 patients found to be infected in Hong Kong had not visited the mainland recently. He added it was certain a local outbreak had started and human-to-human transmission was taking place within the city. Yuen warned every measure must be taken to minimise the spread, including further border closures. Six people in the city have been diagnosed with the coronavirus over the past two days, five of whom had not left the city recently. Of the 21 cases in total, eight were believed to have no travel history relevant to the coronavirus.

First, let's say that Disney who already had to close both parks in Hong Kong and Shanghaî because of the coronavirus outbreak is gonna get crazy if the Hong Kong government force them to have HKDL hotels used as quarantine centres. The simple idea of having Hong Kong Disneyland hotels used as quarantine centers with hundred of people potentially infected and all the logistic which will go with it, like decontamination of the hotels after, etc... that is something that Disney is not going to like at all.

Second, yes, it's for good reasons, and there is a humanitarian urgency so Disney should accept and, yes, if the Hong Kong government which owns a majority of HKDL shares decide a requisition of the hotels - which are probably pretty empty by now considering that the park is closed - it will be difficult for Disney to oppose the decision.

Third, if we're totally objective there is some sense to use the resort’s remote accommodations for isolation. Hong Kong Disneyland resort is located in a secluded area of Lantau Island and that would be helpful to avoid contamination. This is probably why calls grew on Wednesday to use Hong Kong Disneyland Resort hotels as quarantine centres as the city tackled the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

More from the South China Morning Post article HERE : "Former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen added his voice to calls from lawmakers and urged the government to look at isolating those caught in the outbreak at the theme’s park and vacant land next to the theme park could be considered as well. Separately, the city’s leader Carrie Lam said she would invoke the chief executive’s special powers under the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance and require all travellers entering from the mainland, including Hong Kong residents, to go into quarantine. Lam said officials were actively seeking proposals to add more quarantine facilities in the city, which currently only had three centres. “We have asked the Development Bureau to study into the vacant lands to see if we can add such facilities there through some sort of methods,” she said at a press conference.

“[The government] can consider using places remote from residential areas, for example, the hotels at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort as quarantine facilities,” tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing wrote in a letter to the commerce minister. Yiu said in an interview on Wednesday that Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah had told him he would look at the suggestion. Yiu said Disneyland’s three hotels, with a total of 1,750 rooms, were away from residential areas, as well as each other. “We suggested it in view of the current situation and think everyone has a social responsibility,” he said, adding he had not talked to the theme park yet.

He said Disneyland would have its own considerations, including the impact on its branding and how to reassure guests their facilities were safe once they eventually reopened to the public. On Monday, Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai and lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan made a similar proposal. “We have noticed the places the government wants to turn into quarantine facilities are near residential areas. As it hasn’t consulted district councils, residents have concerns,” Wong said. “Since Disneyland is still closed, maybe the number of guests at its hotels will be small.” Wu and Wong also suggested building quarantine facilities on the 60-hectare site reserved for Disneyland’s second-phase development."

Now, the idea of using the empty land kept for HKDL second park - that you can see on the picture above - is probably something that would be more easy to accept for Disney. After all China just built two hospitals in ten days out of nowhere so Hong Kong could eventually do the same on that land, which would be seen as a good will gesture from Disney. But then again you could have people crossing over to the entrance area of Hong Kong Disneyland, and then Disney will have a potential contamination issue of the entrance area. But we're talking here about a humanitarian emergency with the total of cases now close to 30000 worldwide and more than 560 deaths, most of them in China, so it might be hard for Disney to refuse if the Hong Kong government finally ask them,

Pictures: copyright Disney

Reservations for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser – WDW Star Wars Hotel – Will Open Later this Year

Disney Parks and Resorts just announced that reservations for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser – WDW Star Wars Hotel two-day and two-night vacation all-immersive experience that will take you to a galaxy far, far away – will open later this year, the hotel itself opening in 2021.

In a new video Ann Morrow Johnson, executive producer for Walt Disney Imagineering  explain: “You’re going to live onboard a star cruiser…and you can get wrapped up in the larger Star Wars story.”
New artworks, including for the rooms design, have been released but check first the video and i'll see you right after it as there is more to say about it.

Now, here are screen captures done from the video, and the two first ones show the outdoor entrance of the hotel, when you'll arrive by car, or taxi, bus, or whatever. So far it doesn't look much different from a regular hotel.

Then, after you took the shuttle which will blast guests to the Galactic Starcruiser...'ll arrive in the Galactic Starcruiser lobby...

...before going to your room. And here we have a problem, and may be a BIG problem. The original artwork for the rooms was the first one below, showing a room which had a design that could look like a room in the Starcruiser, allowing to believe that you're really in .a Star Wars ship.

Now, the next artwork below shows the new design of the rooms, and probably the final one. And as you can see it now looks much more like a regular hotel room with a bit of Star Wars theming, but not that much, which i'm sorry to say is a very different deal.

Don't go away as there is more changes. Remember the big window in the room allowing guests to see what will be supposed to happen in outer space? The original rendering was this one below, and make sure to remember the size of the window and its proportions with the guests.

And now is the new rendering showing a room and its much much smaller window on outer space. See the difference of size and proportions?

If not, check this closer shot. As you'll see the real window on the outside is even smaller. Which means what? It means that what was looking great, immersive and an illusion that you could believe in - as it look in the first rendering - is now broken. And not to mention that a smaller window will also reinforce the feeling of claustrophobia as guests won't be able to see anything of the real outside during all their stay.

Of course the question is: why did they changed a concept which looked perfect for a design no longer exceptional and even worse, which break the magic? I think there is several reasons for that, the first one being that guests will pay a high price to spend two days in the Starcruiser and Disney may have thought that the comfort of the rooms as shown in the first rendering was may be a bit too much spartan, and that guests won't be happy to don't have a room more comfortable for the price they paid.

A more simple explanation could be that it was simply much cheaper to take a regular design of a hotel room, add a Star Wars theming on it, and that'll do it. As for the size of the window - the biggest mistake in my opinion - it's probably either a technical issue or more surely a question of money. As we know guests will have the illusion to look at outer space when in fact they will be looking at screens. Now, is there screens available as large as the window size in the first concept-art? Of course there is, but it's much more expensive than, let's say, a 65" screen, and i suspect that it might be the reason why the size of the windows have shrunk.

Disney will probably find a perfect alibi to justify that by saying that it's the normal size of windows on a Galactic Starcruiser - which by the way would be probably right if a Starcruiser was really existing - but this is missing the most important point: all the Star Wars hotel concept is to make guests believe that they've been transported high in the sky above Earth, and if the illusion doesn't work then it will wreck the experience. Okay, let's give them the benefit of the doubt until we see the real thing when it opens next year, but there is big doubts now.

The video also include a few more renderings showing activities that guests will be able to enjoy in the Starcruiser, here they are.

The Star Wars Hotel being built right behind Disney's Hollywood Studios, guests will be able to take an exclusive transport to go down to Batuu to visit Black Spire Outpost and enjoy the rides. A concept-art in the video was showing the transport shuttle ...which in fact will be a regular bus themed for the experience.

Pictures: copyright Disney

Thursday, February 6, 2020

D&M Tribute : Hollywood Legend Kirk Douglas Dies at 103

Kirk Douglas, one of the last Hollywood Legend, passed away at 103, his son Michael Dougles announced today.  He was famous for his magnificent roles in countless movie, and of course Spartacus, but Disney fans will remember him forever for his role as Ned Land in 20000 Leagues Under the Sea.

"It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103," he wrote on his verified Instagram account. "To the world he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to. But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine, a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband."

Michael Douglas added that his father's life "was well lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come, and a history as a renowned philanthropist who worked to aid the public and bring peace to the planet."

More about Kirk's life and career with excerpts from his Wikipedia page

Kirk Douglas- who was born Issur Danielovitch on December 9, 1916, was an actor, producer, director, philanthropist and author. After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters, he made his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s, known for serious dramas, including westerns and war films. During his career, he appeared in more than 90 films. Douglas was known for his explosive acting style, which he displayed as a criminal defense attorney in Town Without Pity (1961).

Below, Kirk Douglas stars as trapeze artist Pierre Narval in the MGM film 'The Story of Three Loves', 1953.

Douglas became an international star through positive reception for his leading role as an unscrupulous boxing hero in Champion (1949), which brought him his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. His other early films include Young Man with a Horn (1950), playing opposite Lauren Bacall and Doris Day, Ace in the Hole opposite Jan Sterling (1951), and Detective Story (1951), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor in a Drama. He received a second Oscar nomination for his dramatic role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), opposite Lana Turner, and his third nomination for portraying Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956), which landed him a second Golden Globe nomination.

In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Douglas showed that in addition to serious, driven characters, he was adept at roles requiring a lighter, comic touch. In this adaptation of the Jules Verne novel, he played a happy-go-lucky sailor who was the opposite in every way to the brooding Captain Nemo (James Mason). The film was one of Walt Disney's most successful live-action movies and a major box-office hit.

Listen to Kirk Douglas singing "A Whale of a Tale" in the famous 20000 Leagues under the Sea sequence.

In 1955, he established Bryna Productions, which began producing films as varied as Paths of Glory (1957) and Spartacus (1960). In those two films he collaborated with the then-relatively-unknown director Stanley Kubrick, taking lead roles in both films. Douglas has been praised for helping to break the Hollywood blacklist by having Dalton Trumbo write Spartacus with an official on-screen credit.

He produced and starred in Lonely Are the Brave (1962), considered a classic, and Seven Days in May (1964), opposite Burt Lancaster, with whom he made seven films. In 1963, he starred in the Broadway play One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a story that he purchased and later gave to his son Michael Douglas, who turned it into an Oscar-winning film.

As an actor and philanthropist, Douglas received three Academy Award nominations, an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As an author, he wrote ten novels and memoirs. He is No. 17 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male screen legends of classic Hollywood cinema, the highest-ranked living person on the list until his death. After barely surviving a helicopter crash in 1991 and then suffering a stroke in 1996, he focused on renewing his spiritual and religious life. He lived with his second wife (of 65 years), Anne Buydens, a producer, until his death today on February 5, 2020, at age 103. A centenarian, he was one of the last surviving stars of the film industry's Golden Age.

I have more pictures of Kirk Douglas with Walt for you, starting by the one below with Walt on studio lot, or with Walt holding the first Nautilus model done by Harper Goff who designed the submarine, and with Peter Lorre and Walt during the filming of 20000 Leagues under the Sea.

This next picture with Walt and Kirk was probably shot on location in the Bahamas.

Believe it or not, but Kirk Douglas children were probably the two first boys who ever ride in one of Disneyland's Autopia car as the picture was shot in 1954 - with Kirk wearing his famous t-shirt from his role as Ned Land in 20000 Leagues Under the Sea - a year before Disneyland open!

Kirk Douglas was immensely popular during his carreer, and although married with his wife Anne Buydens, Douglas was a seducer who had affairs with other women including several Hollywood starlets, though he never hid his infidelities from his wife who was accepting of them and explained, "as a European, I understood it was unrealistic to expect total fidelity in a marriage." On the picture below he sign an autograph on the belly of a fan at the beach and lift two other ones.

Last not least, don't miss this great 1971 interview of Kirk Douglas by Dick Cavett!

Pictures, copyright Disney

Monday, February 3, 2020

Disney Cruise Line Unveil the Eleuthera Island Lighthouse Point Project in the Bahamas

Disney Cruise Line wants to create a new experience in the Bahamas at Eleuthera Island Lighthouse Point, and Disney launched a new website HERE to explain in details what they intend to do. Good news, they asked Imagineer Joe Rhode to take care of the project, and Joe tells you more in the video below.

Disney Cruise Line is creating a new experience in Eleuthera at Lighthouse Point. The destination will create sustainable economic opportunities for Bahamians, protect and sustain the natural beauty of the site, celebrate culture, and help strengthen the community in Eleuthera. It will complement Castaway Cay, a Disney destination located in the Abaco chain of The Bahamas, giving families the opportunity to enjoy the site’s beautiful beaches and explore nature, as well as enjoy the broader tourism offerings in Eleuthera.

Disney has long been committed to protecting the environment in The Bahamas, donating millions of dollars from the Disney Conservation Fund to important conservation projects. Several experts from Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment team have been engaged in significant conservation work in The Bahamas in partnership with local organizations and scientists for more than a decade. This includes leading an initiative to rehabilitate coral reefs in The Bahamas that has been underway since 2007. Other examples include using solar power on Castaway Cay, as well as operating an animal care facility there, and a partnership to convert offloaded cooking oil into biodiesel, among other initiatives.

Previous development proposals for Lighthouse Point, which was privately owned for decades before Disney’s purchase, included plans for hundreds of homes, condominiums, villas, a hotel and a 140-slip marina constructed through the salt ponds. What Disney Cruise Line plans to do is much different and is designed to have as little impact as possible on the natural environment. In fact, the plan includes developing less than 20% of the property, much of it for low-density uses like the placement of beach chairs, umbrellas and small support structures. Disney is also donating more than 190 acres, including the site’s southernmost point and a significant amount of beachfront property, to the government and people of The Bahamas.

For the areas Disney does intend to develop, the company is focusing on sustainable design and building practices. For example, the construction of an innovative, open-trestle pier that extends to deep water will prevent the dredging of a ship channel, and a proposed elevated design for many walkways and structures will reduce impacts to the natural environment. Disney also has committed to meeting at least 30% of the energy demand for the project from renewable energy and has already established environmental monitoring programs that will continue through construction and into operation. Additionally, Disney Cruise Line has committed to developing a multi-faceted program to educate employees, vendors and guests about the role they play in protecting the site, something Disney has been able to effectively do with Disney projects around the world.

Disney Cruise Line has long said it will only move forward with a project at Lighthouse Point if it is able to do so in an environmentally responsible manner. Along with its own Animals, Science and Environment team, Disney assembled a team of highly qualified and experienced scientists and other professionals who worked on a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for two years. The EIA is based on extensive field work, robust data collection and analysis, direct engagement with those who have studied the site and the species observed there and an exhaustive review of available literature. Disney looks forward to engaging in public consultation as it moves through this process at the direction of the government of The Bahamas. Construction will begin on the site after the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Plan are accepted by Government, public consultation has occurred and all other necessary Government permits and approvals have been granted.

Disney is committed to ensuring a world where wildlife thrives and nature is treasured and protected by saving wildlife, inspiring action and protecting the planet. For more than 60 years, animals have been a part of Disney storytelling, and these stories continue today alongside immersive experiences that connect children and families around the world with the magic of nature. Since 1995, the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) has directed more than $86 million to save wildlife and protect the planet, inspiring millions of people to take action for nature in their communities.

The design for Lighthouse Point will be inspired by the natural environment and celebrate the culture and spirit of The Bahamas.

Over the past year, Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde, whose work includes the design of Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park in Orlando and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii, has spent extensive time with local artists and cultural experts in The Bahamas. Together, they have explored arts and cultural sites across New Providence and Eleuthera, from Junkanoo shacks to noted art galleries. Kevin Cooper, a master artist from Eleuthera and Antonius Roberts, a master artist from Nassau, are anchoring Disney’s efforts to work with the local creative community.

Pictures and video: copyright Disney