Friday, September 4, 2015

It's Tokyo Disney Sea 14th Anniversary!

It's Tokyo Disney Sea 14th Anniversary! Yes, it's already fourteen years that the most beautifully themed theme park in the world opened its gates at Tokyo Disney Resort!

Picture: copyright Disney, Oriental Land Co

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Available Soon for $150, the Amazing BB8 Droid Toy !

Okay, this one will be undoubtedly the best-seller toy this upcoming Christmas, and i'm talking about the new BB8 droid just announced by Sphero, the company who helped to design the original BB8 for the filming of Star Wars : The Force Awakens. Though the toy will be a tenth of the size of the original one it looks like the real thing and they did a pretty good job to make it rolling like you saw it in the SW7 trailers as well as adding plenty of extras.

You'll be able to control BB8 thanks to a special App for your smartphone and can learn much more about all the functions HERE.

Here is the official description which goes with the excellent presentation video embedded below: "BB-8 - the app-enabled Droid that's as authentic as it is advanced. BB-8 has something unlike any other robot - an adaptive personality that changes as you play. Based on your interactions, BB-8 will show a range of expressions and even perk up when you give voice commands. Set it to patrol and watch your Droid explore autonomously, make up your own adventure and guide BB-8 yourself, or create and view holographic recordings.

It’s now possible to explore the galaxy with your own trusty Astromech Droid by your side. BB-8 is more than a toy - it’s your companion."

This BB8 Droid will cost you $150 and is not available for order yet but the availability date should be announced very soon, and you can ask on the website to be alert when available. In the meantime don't miss the impressive video demo below! Also read the excellent Gizmodo review about it HERE.

Now, guess what? I just learned that there is ANOTHER BB8 Droid available, and this one is not done by Sphero but by Thinkway and sold by Disney. It won't be as sophisticated as the one above but it is 4 time bigger and it cost only £29.95! ( $45 ) No remote control here but it's powered by four AA batteries, and this BB-8’s head can turn and its body can roll and spin in any direction. It also lights up, has 20 built-in sound effects (Sphero’s version relies on the app for all of its sounds) and comes with two different play modes. One sends it rolling around the room, while the other puts it into a listening mode awaiting voice commands. Here are the details from the page of the Disney Store UK HERE on which it is on sale:

BB-8 action figure
Head turns and body rolls and spins
Lights up and plays more than 20 sound effects
Two modes: Mode 1. Push button to activate and Mode 2. Voice recognition
Inspired by ''Star Wars: The Force Awakens''
Figure measures H29, W18cm approx
Requires 4x AA batteries, included
Suitable for children aged 3 years+
Warning: not suitable under 36 months due to small parts
Created for Disney Store

Pictures and video: copyright Sphero , Lcasfilm

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Closer Look at Shanghaî Disneyland Treasure Cove Pirates of Caribbean "Battle for the Sunken Treasure"

There we go for more Shanghaî Disneyland greatness and today we'll have a closer look at the highly awaited Pirates of Caribbean "Battle for the Sunken Treasure" ride. Let's start with new artwork of Treasure Cove, the land where guests will find Pirates of Caribbean impressive fortress, and described as "the first pirate-themed land in a Disney park, a place to join the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones. As guests explore this pirate world, they will enter Pirates of the Caribbean – Battle for the Sunken Treasure, an attraction that transforms a boat ride into a journey with cutting-edge innovations in robotics, animation, set design and multimedia. Guests will board a pirate ship, paddle through the scenic cove on Explorer Canoes and dine at Barbossa's Bounty"!

Yes, this is how will look POTC entrance!

New colors renderings of Treasure Cove!

As usual WDI did some CGI pre-visualization model of the land...

Now, here is a picture of the "real" model...

Construction shots of the Pirates of Caribbean fortress!

Now, you'll be pleased to know that there will be a Skull Rock in Treasure Cove! As a matter of fact, by what i can judge from the pictures below there might even be more than one...

Let's get inside the ride now. Those of you who were wondering if there would be a kind of "Blue Lagoon" restaurant at the start of the ride will be happy to hear that the answer is"yes!".

Now, about the ride itself. The official description released last month was saying: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure is a spectacular indoor boat ride that will take guests on a rollicking adventure with Captain Jack Sparrow to steal the priceless treasure of Davy Jones. Seamlessly blending Disney storytelling and state-of-the-art technologies, the attraction features three large media domes, projected effects, lifelike animated figures, theatrical sets and sophisticated lighting to dramatically take guests on, over and even under the sea on a nautical adventure.  With a new, highly controlled ride system, the boats can spin, travel sideways, and even move backwards to create a highly personalized experience. Guests will encounter fearless pirates, mermaids and even a kraken. Disney's patented Audio-Animatronics and recent advancements in robotic technology will bring these pirates to a new level of realistic performance." 

Most of the answers that Disney fans had about this brand new POTC version of the ride are in this description: yes, the rumor which was saying they will use projection effects was right - i still think that the Jack Sparrow indoor show at WDW Disney's Hollywood Studios was a rehearsal for the techniques that will be used here at SDL. Ye,s there will be Audio-Animatronics though probably less than in the original ride, and yes, the ride will use a new boat system and the boats will be able to spin as shown in a WDI patent found some years ago, and even will be able to go backwards! Mermaids will be part of the ride and even the giant kraken, most probably thanks to a huge projection on one of the giant domes.

But the important words in this description are in fact these ones: "theatrical sets and sophisticated lighting to dramatically take guests on, over and even under the sea on a nautical adventure". Which words, you ask? UNDER the sea. Yes, part of the ride will happen "under water level" - not real water don't worry as SDL Imagineers will use dry-for-wet lighting effects, like they did for instance in the Little Mermaid ride, but here with a more haunted feeling. Yes, you'll have to go under the sea to discover the "sunken treasure".

But SDL POTC will indeed have giant sets like this one with two full size pirate ships for a memorable naval battle in which guests will be caught in crossfire when their boat will move right in the middle...

SDL Imagineers did a CGI pre-visualization too for that scene... well as models...

But the real thing is quite impressive...

If you've missed the D23 presentation of the animatique of this sequence, here is the video of it, and i think we have here a scene staged with greatness, using real sets, chinese shadows projections on the sails to show pirates fighting up on the ships and a great lighting which should stun SDL guests.

As you've read the ride will have Audio-Animatronics - good news indeed as it is difficult to imagine a POTC ride without Audio-Animatronics even if the ride will be based on the POTC Jack Sparrow movies rather than the original storyline. And at D23 a video was showing one of the AAs, the frightening "Hammerhead" character. If you don't remember him that's how he looked in the movie..

Here is a WDI rendering for the ride scene...

...and CGI pre-visualization model.

Sculpting the character...

Programming the Audio-Animatronic...

Final sculpting and staging...

...before more dressing and further programming.

I'm sure you're dying to see how this AA works in real so here is the video of it.

There is more Treasure Cove awesomeness to come in D&M next article so make sure to don't miss it. But before you go make sure to watch the video below from where are coming these enhanced screen captures. It was shown at D23 and filmed by Mouse Steps whom we can't thanks enough to have filmed it.

Pictures: copyright Disney - Shendi

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Shanghai Disney Resort Reveal the Design of the 2015 Shanghai Tourism Festival Opening Parade SDL Float

Shanghai Disney Resort today reveals the design of its “Igniting the Dream” float to make its debut at the opening parade of the 2015 Shanghai Tourism Festival on September 12. It will feature a giant Chinese lantern at the front and take the form of the resort’s Enchanted Storybook Castle.

The float blends Chinese elements and authentic Disney storytelling to create a “magical experience” that guests will be able to see in the future resort, Disney said.

It is the second time that the resort will participate in the annual tourism festival.

Six other floats will join the main one to showcase the six-themed lands in Shanghai Disneyland, the theme park at Shanghai Disney Resort.

The tourism festival begins on September 12.

Picture: copyright Disney - Shendi

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Closer Look to Shanghaî Disneyland Mickey Avenue

Thanks to a new video from the D23 Shanghaî Disneyland presentation area we have a close look at SDL Mickey Avenue, the "entrance street" of Shanghaî Disneyland as there won't be any Main Sttreet U.S.A as we find it generally in Disney's Magic Kingdoms. "Mickey Avenue will be the first main entry at a Disney park inspired by the colorful personalities of Mickey Mouse and his pals. Mickey Avenue is the hometown of imagination, a welcoming, whimsical neighborhood filled with lively shops and restaurants. Stepping into this cheerful land sets the tone for a visit to Shanghai Disneyland, where guests will leave their worlds behind and enter lands of adventure, fantasy and the future."

We've seen before some views of Mickey Avenue as seen from above thanks to the model shown during Shanghaî presentation last July...

...but this CGI Pre-Visualization model show it from a different angle as seen "from the ground". If you want to know the size and length of Mickay Avenue think about the size of Town Square plus half of Main Street and that's basically how long will be this Mickey Avenue which will end with a Carthay Theater on its left, standing right in front of SDL castle.

Mickey Avenue will also include plenty of shops and restaurants in tribute to Disney animated classics as you'll see in the video below filmed by Mouse Steps at D23, from which i did the above enhanced screen captures.

And i've got "One More Thing" for you, not about Mickey Avenue but about the new Peter Pan's Flight vehicle system thanks to which "guests will soar as never before into this action-packed story of the boy who encourages imaginations to fly."You'll see SDL Imagineers testing the new ride vehicle system on a short test track, and the video also shows some animation tests which apparently should be include somewhere during the ride.

Pictures and videos: copyright Disney - Shendi

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Shanghai Disneyland Tomorrowland : From Blue Sky to Reality - Part Two

As promised here is the part two of the Shanghai Disneyland Tomorrowland article and, after we had a look at the artworks in the first article, it's now time for the real thing! If you've missed the part one you'll find it HERE.

Above, SDL Tomorrowland during its construction, and below the Tomorrowland sign - which most probably will be placed at the entrance of the land - during its making.

We'll start by the first ride that SDL guets will see when they will enter the land, and it's the Jet Pack ride! Below, SDL Imagineers testing the ride in WDI "virtual room".

A picture showing Tomorrowland construction site, with the Jet Packs ride in the foreground. 

Below, a close shot on the giant sphere at the center of the ride. On Jet Packs, "guests will become sky pilots, taking off on transportation of the future. Strapped into individual Jet Packs and with legs dangling, pilots will enjoy the thrill and wonder of flying. At the center of the attraction, the energy sphere will spin faster and faster as the ride progresses. Guests will be able to control how high their Jet Pack goes and, the higher they go, the more the vehicles will pitch forward. From their sky-high vantage point, pilots will have a breathtaking view of Tomorrowland and the rest of Shanghai Disneyland."

SDL Tomorrowland will have a Buzz Lightyear ride, titled "Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue" and it will be one with a totally different storyline, in which SDL guests will fight Zurg robot, and enter in "Emperor Zurg Lair". Here is the official description of the ride:
Guests will join a mission to help save the day on Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, an interactive adventure inspired by the DisneyžPixar Toy Story films. The immersive, new storyline combined with a new, interactive targeting system will make this one of the most engaging attractions at a Disney park.  The attraction features cosmic visuals, animated targets, LED screens and real-time feedback from the targeting system. As the story goes, the Evil Emperor Zurg is threatening to destroy the home planet of the Aliens. Buzz Lightyear calls out for more Space Rangers and park guests become his newest Star Command recruits, boarding their own spaceships and shooting on-board blasters with individualized colors. For every target hit, guests rise higher in the ranks of Buzz Lightyear’s elite squadron.

We have some new visuals for it, the first one below being again a virtual experience of the ride for SDL Imagineers.

This next shot shows most probably Zurg'Lair. Watch the element in the foreground...

As in real it will be the giant prop below which may be Zurg deadly weapon to destroy planets...

On the next pictures, all the show team of SDL Imagineers and workers who worked on the ride all together for a souvenir picture inside Zurg Lair decor on completion day, July 2015.

Let's move to TRON Lightcycles Power Run as we have fantastic pics of its construction!

Interesting picture of the Tron coaster track not yet surrounded by the walls and ceiling of the show building.

The ride team all together for a souvenir picture, surrounding "the last piece of track".

Another show team souvenir picture in front of the outdoor part of the track before the "Tron Cover" was built.

The giant dome officially called "Tron Cover" must have been a hell to build!

Two more souvenir pictures of the show team in front of "Tron Cover".

Creating and checking a Tron Lightcycles decor element...

May be one which will be placed in this part of the ride which looks like the boarding room...

...or may be it will be for this sequence...

Some shots from the virtual film...

And a picture of SDL Imagineers testing the ride "virtually"...

Another picture of the show team this time surrounding a Tron Lightcycles train!

We're not done yet as there is more to see about the Star Wars Launch Bay and Marvel Universe which have been added to Tomorrowland.

In Star Wars Launch Bay, "guests will meet heroes and villains of the saga, visit iconic intergalactic set-pieces, view props and memorabilia from the most recent Episode, and be immersed in the Skywalker story through a state-of-the-art cinematic experience."

Marvel Universe will be located near the entry to Tomorrowland, and guests "will have an exciting opportunity to encounter some of the popular Marvel heroes and their super-powered tech. Guests will attend a multimedia mission briefing on the thrilling world of Marvel, get up-close with some of their favorite Marvel heroes and learn to draw some of the characters, just like a real comic book artist".

And it's with this shot showing the Marvel Universe shop that will end this SDL Tomorrowland article. All the pictures you've seen in this two parts article are enhanced screen captures from a movie which was shown at D23 and filmed by Mouse Steps whom i can't thanks enough. Here is the full video which i'm sure you will enjoy a lot!

Pictures and video: copyright Disney - Shendi