Friday, August 26, 2011

A closer look to Shanghaî Disneyland model - Pictures by Andy Castro

A Shanghaî Disneyland model was displayed at D23 Carousel of Projects last week. For sure, it was a small model but most of all it was a wonder of non-information!

In case you're still wondering if it was a WDI mistake i can guarantee you that it was not. Though it was not to Disney fans that WDI didn't wanted to provide any information about Shanghaî Disneyland, it was to Disney's chinese competitors. Right now there is several theme parks project which are planned to be build in China, and what Disney wants to avoid at any price is to see some of WDI brilliant ideas for Shanghaî Disneyland copied by these competitors. And even worth, to see bad copies opening before SDL opening in 2015. And in "any price" is include to don't show anything to anyone not involved in the project, even Disney fans.

But, considering that SDL was one of the company's major announcement of the year it was difficult to avoid showing really anything about it at this D23 Carousel of Projects, that's why D23 attendees had "only" this tiny SDL model which delivered virtually no information at all about SDL rides. However Disney released some precious information and new artwork about SDL castle, including the confirmation of an info previously posted on different web sites about the Fantasyland flume ride which will begin under SDL castle.

No more infos on other rides, so, but Screamscape and Blue Sky Disney posted recently new updates revealing what might be some of Shanghaî Disneyland rides. I say "might" as the project is still in "blue sky" mode and the rides concepts are not all finally approved by Disney chinese partners, which means that it's still time to have some changes. In two years from now, in 2013, at next D23 Expo - if there is a new one -we will probably know more about SDL rides.

So let's have a closer look at this non-informative model (!) thanks to some pictures shot by Andy Castro last week-end, and please click on each to enlarge the pictures. Above, two pics showing the full SDL model.

This next close shot shows the entrance, with on its right what might be a night entertainment and shopping and dining area, and of course the SDL castle.

We don't know a lot about shanghaî Disneyland but at least we know that there will be a Fantasyland, an Adventureland and a Tomorrowland and no Main Street and no Frontierland. One of the Imagineers that were close to the model at D23 was asked if it was true that SDL will have "only" three lands and he answered that it was wrong - without mentioning the real number of lands. Except if there is some hidden lands i'm curious to see where will be the others. I suspect them to eventually count the huge garden - with the Dumbo and Carousel rides - in front of the castle and the castle itself as a land...although a closer look at both the artwork released in April and this model seems to indicate that some parts of the park are not include in this model. We'll see... anyway, it's not the number of lands that count but the size of the park and the quality of its theming and attractions.

So, next picture is a close-up on what is supposed to be SDL Adventureland. Will we see in it the new Pirates of Caribbean version once envisioned for HKDL? All i can say is that i hope so!

Next picture is a close-up on what should be Fantasyland. SDL castle is almost in the center, Fantasyland is on its left and Adventureland in the top right corner.

Next shot is a close-up on SDL Tomorrowland and the only thing we can say about it is that everybody seems to agree that there will be no Space Mountain at SDL. Well, when i say "everybody" i don't include the imagineer that was at D23 who said to Andy - before Andy asked him anything - "I can't tell you anything about the rides in the park or I'll have to kill you!". Both laughed and agreed that may be the timing was not the right one to talk about SDL rides, but the Imagineer quote is a good example to show how well briefed these Imagineers have been, and obviously Shanghaî Disneyland rides are for Disney a secret as important as the atomic bomb! That said, here is the picture, and Tomorrowland is on the left side of the castle.

A last picture for the road, shot from behind with Fantasyland on the center left, Adventureland in the back on the top right and Tomorrowland on the center right or so.

All pictures: copyright Andy Castro

Thank you so much, Steve

Except if you are living on another planet you probably know by now that Steve Jobs is no longer Apple CEO. Sure, Steve will stay ay Apple as chairman of the board but Tim Cook will be new Apple CEO and obviously if Steve did this change it's because his strengths are not anymore what they were before. Of course it will also help to have a soft transition which shouldn't have big effects on the stock market, but more than this it means something more sad: Steve is going to die.

Of course i hope that he will stay with us as long as possible, but considering that his own vision and the Apple products who came out of it had a tremendous effect on my life i would like to take a minute or two to send him all my thanks, and more. Actually, Disney and more probably wouldn't exist if i didn't had the good idea to buy an Apple iMac as my first computer twelve years ago. Even if the new iMacs are now incredibly superior everything was so easy and intuitive on my first iMac that i found in love with it! And that's one of the reason i like Apple computers: not only the Mac OS X operating system is stellar, but you can feel so much that everything was designed thinking about the user experience before anything else - and, yes, even before making money out of the products - that your Mac is not only a fantastic tool, but also beautiful and you cherish it like the technological treasure that it is.

When people talk about Walt Disney they generally salute him as a visionary genius - and for sure he was one. Personally i consider Steve Jobs being at the same "altitude" than Walt in his vision capacity, although both were not working in the same category - movie and entertainment for Walt and technology for Steve. What do you need to be a genius, by the way? Well, first, a genius is someone who has an incredibly free spirit. Two, he is someone who is "naturally" visionary. There is no genius without vision, it's just impossible. And when i talk about vision, i mean "inside vision", or if you prefer another word: insight. Three, a genius has the constant ability to do the synthesis, i.e to be able to think about all the different plans of the reality at the same time and do the synthesis of them. And for sure, that's what Steve Jobs did from the start.

There is a famous David Lynch movie title which was "Fire walk with me". And i think this would fit perfectly to define Steve. He is a man with so much "fire" and the qualities - or defaults - associated to the "fire energy" as ancient chinese defines it, i.e high idealism, sense of beauty, capacity of vision and synthesis, tenacity, but also sometime a bit dictatorial with "olympian angers". For Steve, the goal, obviously, has always been to have the perfect ideal device becoming real and no matter how long it will take. But behind all this, there is another idea in the mind of Steve: to create products that makes life worth living. If we spend time on this planet it's not to create crap but to bring and share with the rest of the world a certain level of quality, and if possible the highest level of quality. In his case, products that will help people in their life and give them the ability to create as easily as possible what they wish.

Is there anything that i don't like at Apple or in Steve Jobs? Sure, there is. I'm not a big fan of the "control freak" side, but i understand why Steve has to be like this. Because of his knowledge of reality - and in this case i'm talking about "human beings" reality - he knows that someone, somewhere, is waiting to screw everything. It's a law of life: there is no constructive energy without a destructive one. It happened at Apple when Steve was ousted in the 1985 and when John Sculley, Apple's CEO at that time almost destroyed Apple before Steve comeback in 1996. Since then, with the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad Apple has revolutionized our reality and makes things so much more simple that it's hard to don't thanks him for that - does anyone remember how dumbs were the mobile phones operating system before the iPhone? And of course, let's not forget Pixar and its tremendous contribution to the world of animation!

So, yes, thank you so much Steve, mission is almost accomplished - i say "almost" because the perfectionist that you are is intelligent enough to know that absolute perfection is not of this world, which doesn't mean that we don't have to try to get close to it. And that's what you did, wonderfully.

Picture: copyright apple Inc

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Editor's Note: After two days without any internet connection, apparently the connection is back at last and a new article is online now with a great walk-through video of the legendary Western River Expedition ride. Also, don't miss the Carousel of Projects article now updated with plenty of new photos by Andy Castro and lots of new videos!

D23 Expo: Western River Expedition Virtual Ride-Through Video

Last Sunday at D23 Expo Walt Disney Imagineers Tony Baxter and Josh Shipley lead a fascinating presentation of rare footage from 1950s and 1960s-era Disneyland for D23 Expo attendees. As part of the presentation, Tony and Josh took guests aboard a complete ride-through of the legendary and never-built Western River Expedition attraction, designed for the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Though never built, numerous conceptual renderings as well as a complete model of the attraction were built and have been preserved by Walt Disney Imagineering. This video shot by Andy Castro is a ride-through of the attraction as guests would have experienced it, recreated with concept art and photos of the attraction model. Live commentary is provided by Tony Baxter and Josh Shipley. You can also see plenty of WRE artwork in one of my previous articles HERE.

Video: copyright Andy Castro for Mice Chat - Don't miss Andy's photographic reports each monday on Mice Age!

Monday, August 22, 2011

D23 Expo : New Shanghaî Disneyland Artwork ! Pictures by Andy Castro

Artwork showing Shanghaî Disneyland are so rare than any new rendering is a blessing. This one, showing a night view of Shanghaî Disneyland Enchanted Storybook Castle was not released officially but was shown yesterday at D23 during Bob Weis presentation about SDL. I found it on a video that you i've added in the Tom Staggs article below, did a screen shot and enhanced a bit the picture, and here it is. Click on it to see it in larger scale.

Edited: Thanks to Andy who took pictures during Tom Staggs presentation, we have a better shot of the new SDL rendering and the good pic is the one above. Now that we see more details it's interesting to note that WDI added on the painting a lot of "little lights" upon the buildings in front of the castle to prevent their architecture to be too easily identified by other chinese theme parks projects competitors.

Also, another shot from Andy is showing the recently released rendering but also enlarged, here it is.

During Bob Weis presentation of SDL was shown an animation. Basically, it began by the castle at the center of the land available and the castle is the first to appear at the center and suddenly all the future others buildings of the park appeared one by one until we arrive to the official rendering that we know. Although you still don't really see what will be what it's interesting to see this and the best is that you enlarge each of the five pictures below.

Artwork: copyright Disney

Pictures by Andy Castro

Sunday, August 21, 2011

D23 Expo : DCA Buena Vista Street WDI Imagineers preview panel - Full Video

WDI Imagineers did a fantastic preview of DCA Buena Vista Street and Carthay Theater at D23 Expo and provided tons of exciting infos about what will be DCA new entrance street next year. You'll see the full video of this preview panel but here is what they've announced.

First, Buena Vista Street will be divided into sections representing Los Angeles districts and towns, including Atwater village, Los Feliz area, etc and the Carthay Circle Theater is offset so you could be at new fountain and not see the Disneyland train station from DCA hub. Buena Vista Street is designed to tell the story of Walt. Believe it or not, but researches are showing more and more that people don't realize Walt Disney was a real person, they think it's just a corporate identity! WDI Imagineers believe that it's important to have people know Walt was a real person - you bet they're right!

Guest comfort will be a big issue in Buena Vista Street design and lots of new shade trees are going in. Landscape architects are designing what curbs look like, which kinds of trees will be present, where they'll be placed, etc and Imagineer Ray Spencer said that the largest oak tree that he has ever seen is being imported to Carthay Circle hub area.

Buena Vista Street is an idealized version of Los Angeles that never existed, except for the Carthay Theater and Pan Pacific. The two Red Cars will have different paint jobs. One Red Car will represent the 1915 style and the other will feature the later paint style. The Red Cars are modeled after real Red Cars. The Red Car Trolley wires will make a "visual cap" that keeps your eyes within the confines of the street, preventing you from looking outside of the area and to help create a completely immersive experience.

Five architects are involved in BVS architecture/facade design. The use of different architects on the project is to help create a look that the street was built by different people at different times. The quality level, detailing has to be on-par with Main Streets found in other Disney parks. Thousands and thousands of hours of work have gone into BVS planning and design work to the achieve authenticity, detail, accuracy needed to make the space believable. Buena Vista Street is an amalgam of Los Angeles stores and buildings, but except for the Pan Pacific Auditorium and the Carthay Circle Theater - which will be "home of high-end restaurant and lounge" - none of Buena Vista Street will be a recreation of anything specific found in Los Angeles, unlike the Hollywood Pictures Backlot facades. Tile and glasswork will be authentic to 1920's Los Angeles.

BVS interiors will be fully finished. All shops will be accessible via an interior "aisle"/corridor that will run through the shops, parallel to Buena Vista Street. This will be similar to how the shops are connected on Main Street, USA. Imagineers are working to create a lot of "transparency" for the shops. You'll be able to see through the shop windows into the stores, creating a greater sense of continuity from outside on Buena Vista Street to inside its shops and restaurants.

Elias and Co. is flagship store on BVS, similar to Disneyland's Emporium. Elias and Co's facade is inspired by early Los Angeles department stores, but not any one in particular. Big Rock Candy Mountain model will be on display at Trolley Treats. The model is based on attraction designed for an early Fantasyland attraction at Disneyland that would have been built where Storybook Land is now. Rock candy mountain will serve as a "metaphor" ... The model is not an exact replica of the Disneyland attraction concept. The model in Trolley Treats will feature some working trolleys on it.

Also, Guests won't be bombarded with characters on Buena Vista Street, but the names of iconic Disney characters from Walt's early career will be present as shop and restaurant names. The character-inspired names work as tribute and nod to Walt Disney's past, but also work as a story element, suggesting that Walt Disney may have been inspired by the places he saw and went to in Los Angeles when creating his characters for his animated films. Many of the characters won't necessarily be visible/present because many weren't created yet when Walt arrived in Los Angeles.

The Walt and Mickey statue - picture above - will have Walt and Mickey with suitcases, as though they've just arrived. Mickey is represented as Walt's muse. The new statue will be on ground with guests, not on a pedestal like at Disneyland. The reason it will be placed on the ground is because the story for Buena Vista Street is that Walt is coming to California to fulfil his dreams just like the rest of us. He's just one of us in 1920s Los Angeles, and anything is possible. Blaine Gibson's protégé of 30 years is responsible for sculpting the new Walt and Mickey statue. Blaine Gibson was the Imagineer who created Disneyland's "Partners" statue.

Finally, Department of Water and Power fountain in Pasadena served as inspiration for new hub fountain. Guests won't see fountain when the area opens for traffic between Condor Flats and Hollywood Pictures Backlot. The fountain will remain behind walls and won't be unveiled until the Buena Vista Street opening day ceremony in 2012.

And now, here is videos showing the BVS Imagineers preview panel, filmed by thebugger2000.

Picture: copyright Disney

Videos: copyright thebugger2000 whom i thanks a lot!

D23 Expo : Disney Legends Ceremony - Full Video

The Disney Legends ceremony happened yesterday at D23 and thebugger2000 filmed it entirely. Many real Disney Legends were honored and received their DL awards, others like Guy Williams and Jim Henson unfortunately passed away many years ago but their family were there to receive their awards. It was a great ceremony which ended with a fantastic sequence with the Muppets for the Jm Henson tribute, don't miss it!

All Videos: copyright thebugger2000 whom i thanks and congratulate a lot!