Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Tribute to Tom Thordarson - a.k.a " THOR " - Artwork - Part Two : Dinosaurs Ride Concepts

Here is the awaited part two article of my Tom "Thor" Thordarson artwork tribute.

At the end of the 90's, Tom also worked for Landmark Entertainment on an incredible ride project. I think the best way to describe it is like a "Jungle Cruise with Dinosaurs" project. The attraction , very unfortunately, was never built, but i have Tom's great renderings to show you! Tom was asked by Landmark to take a shot at key scenes that would depict a boat ride similar to Disney's Jungle Cruise but crossed with Dinosaurs as in "Dinotopia".

There was not really an order in the scenes you will see below, but Tom's concepts are incredibly exciting. Who wouldn't love to ride a "Jungle Cruise" like this? A ride where you can see giant Brachiosaurus (picture above)...

Or fighting Velociraptors...

A ride where you can have a dreadful encounter not with one but THREE life-size T-Rex...

A ride where your boat would be attacked by a bunch of Pterodactyls...

Let's Tom tell us more about it: "I created situations where there was a lot of natural overhead coverings like fallen trees and large dinosaur rib masses overgrown with foliage. This gave areas to create interesting effects with mist and lighting and all the streams of light that would patch areas of activity..."

"It's part of creating mystery and drama in a ride. A show designer is always thinking of changing the feel and atmosphere as much as possible as a ride moves through. Things like creating a tight, close tunnel like area just before opening to a larger, epic scene makes that epic scene seem all the more amazing and grand in contrast. A classic example of this is in Disneyland. In Pirates of the Caribbean, we enter the big ship and fortress battle scene right after the close quartered cavern scenes. It makes that room seem all that higher and grander! Kind of like taking a swig of lemonade just before eating a candy cane. It makes that old candy cane EXPLODE with sweetness in contrast!!! The psyche in ride show design is like that too."

"I also describe some of the animation like in the frame with the Brachiosaurus descending into the lagoon near the boat and spraying the riders. Fun stuff..a little scary too! Add scary to fun and you get thrill!"

"All in all, these frames gave a feel for the attraction in VERY early concept. I really didn't follow where it all went from here. I was on other projects also at the time and like many concepts I touched, I would offer my ideas and move on to the next very rapidly."

Tom was also very involved working with MCA Universal on the early development of the Jurassic park ride in Hollywood. He did an overall birds eye view and a lot of story boards like this one below.

But there is another dinosaur attraction project on which Tom worked and helped to design. And just like the "Jungle Cruise Dinosaurs" ride, it's an attraction that never was. It was a roller coaster ride called "The Excavator" and it would have been located near the boneyard of Dinoland U.S.A at Disney's Animal Kingdom! The train would have gone through a dinosaur excavation site, with dinosaurs audio-animatronics along the ride!

WDI imagineers envisioned to add a roller coaster in this AK land, and because they had all these dinosaurs sculpture molds done for the "Countdown to Extinction" attraction, they thought it could be a good idea to use them and have audio-animatronics in an outdoor roller coaster. It sure was a great idea! Of course, there is always the weather problem when you put Audio-animatronics outside, but it's always possible to find a themed solution to shelter them...

As you can see the Carnosaurus - the star of "Countdown to Extinction" was back in this coaster concept. And i wonder if this is not one of the reason why the concept was never build. After all, in "Countdown to Extinction" we are supposed to meet the Carnosaurus when we are sent back in time, so why would we meet him again in our era? Although it could have been possible to imagine (in the attraction story line) that "we" brought him back inadvertently instead of the other dinosaur that we're supposed to save from the "extinction".

Mind you, Tom didn't do only dinosaurs design for Animal Kingdom, he also did some great concepts for the now famous Beastly Kingdom, like this mythical creature below when WDI asked him to come up with some ideas for this land that never was.

Before i leave you, i'd like to comeback one minute on the great Landmark "Jungle Cruise Dinosaurs" renderings as you can find some of them on sale on ebay - and yes, it's the originals, not prints and at very affordable price. They're part of the Landmark Selection sale i told you before, and if you're interested to have a look, just go HERE. I want to add that the Landmark sale prices on ebay are NOT the normal prices for Tom's paintings.

I would like also to remember you that Tom Thordarson have his own web site and a gallery in Hawaii - more precisely on the Island of Oahu - where you'll be able to find his beautiful Tiki and Hawaian artwork, including the Tiki idols series. Some of them are on sale, and whether it is the originals or very affordable prints, any Tiki lover will find his happiness! Also, if you're a fan of Tom's artwork and want to contact him, feel free to do it through his MySpace page.
Please have a look to the previous article to discover Tom Thordarson Tiki and Pirates artwork.

I would like to thanks once again Tom Thordarson for his great help in the making of this article, and his beautiful artwork!

Artwork: copyright Landmark, Universal, and Disney & WED Enterprises for the last three pictures.

New UP! " Discovering a new world " featurette

A new UP! featurette was released by Pixar, and this is one is very interesting as it shows Pixar animators on their trip to South america - on the REAL location that inspired the South american scenes in the movie - where they did sketches and find inspiration to recreate this jungle and "table mountains" universe in UP!

Have a look below - there is plenty of new shots from the movie - and enjoy it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Of course it was an April fools joke !

Hi everybody. Wow, never had so many comments for a D&M article! So, yes, of course this "Rock and Roller Coaster with Johnny Halliday" article was an April fool joke, and i hope you enjoyed it.

We did it with the talented folks of the Disney Central Plaza forum who did a brilliant job with the video, renderings and everything. They asked me to be part of the plan - as well as the wdsfans web site - and if i could do an article on Disney and more, which i did. Personally, i think the video is very funny...

So, all of this article is not true - and sorry, the "three years expansion plan" doesn't exist, too - but i put in the article ONE info that is right. Can you guess which one? Just go back to the article, try to find what is the right info and let me know in the "comments". The first one who find it will win some interesting Disney stuff. Please do not sign your answer in the comments as "anonymous", many people do it this way and it will be impossible for me if you're the winner to know who you are. Just sign your comment with your name or a "nickname", okay?
UPDATE: No need to search any more as Shane McDonnell found the right answer (see the comments) and is the one (and only) winner!

Now, to come back to the RARC, something incredible - but true this time and less funny - happened today: the Rock and Roller coaster building - the same one i talked about in my April fools article - was on fire this morning! Nobody was hurt, but the attraction will be closed for three weeks they said.

What is really strange in all this is that Johnny Hallyday's most famous song is called "Allumez le feu" ("Light the fire"). So , here is this article about a new RARC re-themed with Johnny Hallyday as an april fools joke, and the same day the real RARC building is on fire! Of course i can swear that i have nothing to do with the fire itself!

Allright, see you soon for the last part of the Mickey's Magical Party event!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Walt Disney Studios Rock and Roller Coaster: Good Bye Aerosmith , Hello Johnny ! - New re-themed attraction will open Spring 2010

Rumours were strong last week-end, but it's now officially announced by Disneyland Paris: The Rock and Roller Coaster attraction at the Walt disney studios will close this fall and re-open in Spring 2010 with a brand new theme. The new name of the attraction will be "Rock and roller Coaster with Johnny Hallyday".

Now, for those of you in America who may not be familiar with this name i have to tell you that Johnny Hallyday is a HUGE rock and roll star all over Europe since 40 years, and specially in France, Benelux and Switzerland. How huge? Probably as huge as Elvis Presley was when he was still alive. No Kidding. Just make a Google search for his name or go on You tube and you'll be amazed to see the results. It's important to know this to have a better understanding of DLP's decision.

The new re-themed attraction will open in spring 2010 and, so, will be one of the new attractions for the Walt Disney studios along with the Toy Story Playland scheduled to open in June 2010. New special effects and state-of-the-art projection system as well as a brand new attraction facade decor are on the program of this new version.

Here is the full press release as well as not-yet-officially released renderings for this upcoming attraction (i did the translation myself from the french press release, so sorry if it's not perfect).

EURO DISNEY ASSOCIATES S.C.A announces a future new attraction : Rock and Roller Coaster with Johnny Hallyday will open at Walt Disney Studios, Spring 2010

Euro Disney S.C.A announced today a brand new version of one of the Resort's most popular attraction. famous Rock and roller Coaster, a high-speed rock and roll roller coaster will welcome super star singer Johnny Hallyday.

"The most successful french singer is as known by our European audience. It was a logical choice for us, and i'm sure that our guests will be delight by this new version of this favorite attraction. Rock and Roller Coaster with Johnny Hallyday will be an immersive attraction in the world of johnny like never before" declared John Fitzgerald, Walt Disney Imagineering Vice-President in charge of WDS future attractions.

Guests will literally surf on the music of Johnny Hallyday's biggest hits. They will discover new special effects, as well as projection system unique in Europe and a new exterior decor which will give tribute to the superstar. "With johnny, we can't do things at half. We were extremely lucky to get his approval and his ideas at each step of the project" declared Charlie evans, director of musical Projects at Universal Music Mobile. in addition, the fans will be happy to learn that a selection of rare Johnny Hallyday collectibles will be available, including a photos selection with a one-of-a-kind Johnny's statue. Walt Disney Imagineering had a special consulting with some of the many Johnny Halliday's fans, and many of their expectations will be include in the attraction.

Rock and Roller Coaster with Johnny Hallyday will open Spring 2010 and is part of an ambitious investment plan for the next three years that will be officially announce during the current fiscal year. (end of the press release)

I've never be a huge fan of Hallyday myself but i must admit that he was an incredible showman. He will do his very last concerts this year, and considering this, i think that the idea of a new version of the RARC with him is quite brilliant. For the hundred of thousands of Johnny's fans, the RARC will be soon the last place on Earth to experience Johnny's magic almost as if he was on stage for real, thanks to the new projection effects.

The Travel Channel (who did brilliant documentaries about Disney parks attraction) was there last friday and did interviews with DLP imagineers working on the project. Here it is below.

A new pre-show movie will replace the one with the Aerosmith band. On the next picture Johnny is rehearsing with his long time friend (and superstar, too) Eddy Mitchell.

The big bus located in front of the entrance will also be re-designed, here is a first concept below (Personal note: i really hope that this is not the final design as in my opinion they can do much better than that).

Finally, as announced in the press release new merchandise products will be designed and sold in the RARC shop at the exit of the attraction.

For the millions of Johnny Hallyday's fans i suppose that this announcement will put them in heaven, but for me i'm more interested by the words of the press release about this "three years expansion plan" that should be announced later this year. Count on me to let you know as soon as i know more about it!

All pictures: copyright Disney-WED Enterprises

Monday, March 30, 2009

DLP Mickey's Magical Party Opening event - Part Two: Discoveryland Stitch Show

Here is the part two of the Mickey's Magical Party event, and this time we will have a look to what's new at the Disneyland Park, always with lot of pictures and videos.
I should also have confirmation later today of a major change coming soon at the Walt Disney Studios and i'll let you know.

In Main Street U.S.A the 15th Anniversary decorations are now replaced with a new Mickey's Magical Party theming. By the way, as you will see, the weather was always "stormy".

On Central Plaza the new stages for the main show are now ready. Note the "walls" of the stages which match quite well with the Castle's walls.

On the Castle itelf a new element appears with Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Pluto.

Inside Videopolis guests can watch now old Mickey cartoons, on three screens.

But what's really new in Discoveryland is the new Stitch show in front of the Star Traders shop. Basically, it's a dance show with Stitch arriving in what is supposed to be his space ship. After a few minutes, Stitch appear and will be the "D.J" of this dance show. On the ground, circle with four colours were painted and this was done for the guests to help them during some special dance movements. When i was there, only children were "dancing" but may be grown-ups will join them this summer - it's still a bit cold in Paris right now, you're not really in the mood for outdoor dancing...

Okay, enough pictures, here is the video of the show! (in three parts). Please note that during the filming i was located near the loudspeakers, so the sound is a bit saturated. The best is that you put the sound a bit down on your computer, it will be more pleasant for your ears.

In part three of this special MMP event report, i will talk about the evening itself, with the awaited "Mickey and Friends" show on Central Plaza!

Disney pictures: copyright Disney

other pictures: copyright Disney and more - Alain Littaye

Sunday, March 29, 2009

DLP Mickey's Magical Party Opening event - Part One : WDS Stars and Cars Parade and Playhouse Disney Live on Stage

It was the opening Event of DLP's Mickey's Magical Party yesterday and here is the full report in three parts. Plenty of pictures - a mix of my pictures and Disney's official pictures, and lot of videos too! In this first part we'll see what's new at the Walt Disney Studios, beginning with the new Stars 'n' Cars parade.

The cars of this Stars 'n' Cars parade were previously at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and it seems that the music is also the same. Honestly, i liked it, i think the cars are nicely themed, good music, characters were fine, so i think it wioll be a enjoyable parade for the WDS. The cars arrive by the backstage door located on the right of Aladdin's Flying Carpet and go to the "Place des Stars" where they stop.
Now, yesterday, the worst thing that can happen during a press event happened, i.e a huge storm with tons of rains and ice! Unbelievable. Some pictures below will give you an idea how this storm was powerful.

The characters then go down and there is a small show in front of the stage with a Hollywood backdrop.

Then they met the audience and sign some autographs...

Before getting back in the cars (always under the rain) which goes back by the same road and exit the park using the same door they went in (sun was coming back).

From where i was located i could film the arrival of the cars but not the show, this is why you won't see it on the video below. Please note also that the vertical rays that appear sometime in the video are reflection of the lights in front on me in the camera lens.

At the Art of Animation guests of this opening event could see a "Mickey's Ears exhibit". The park asked a lot of celebrities to design Mickey's ears and all of them were displayed in the attraction's post show. The design of each of these Mickey's ears are supposed to have the "personality" of the V.I.P. It was also the place for T.V inteviews of some of these V.I.P like famous rugby man Sebastien Chabal or musician Phil Collins.

It was time to have a look at the only new attraction that open this year, the Playhouse Disney live on stage, located in the former Disney Channel studios. It's obviously an attraction for very young kids nut the park didn't had one, so it's welcome.

Good news as soon as you enter as the pre-show room is really nice. Guests can sitdown and watch some videos while they wait for the show itself or meet and greet with characters of the show.

The show is presented in three different languages - french, english and spanish - at different hours each day. If you wonder why "spanish" instead og german or italian, it's because the Playhouse Disnet TV show is tremendously popular on Spain. And there is a good reason as the Disney Channel is free in Spain ( in France you have to pay and it's a cable-channel) and so many more people are watching it!

The show iself is fine. As i've said, it's for really young kids, and there is no seats - the audience is sitting on the floor. Four parts in the show with the different characters of the TV show- Mickey and friens, Little Einstein, Winnie and Tiger and another one i don't remember. Some special effects too, like bubbles falling from the ceiling,etc happen during the show which is the same that one can see at DCA.
The audience yesterday enjoyed the show and i think that the show should be popular, specially with families with young children.

Below, some pictures of the show as well as many short videos for each part. I could not attend the english version so the show you'll see below is in english language.

At the exit, the outside wall is also decorated with the show's characters and families use them as photo locations to take pictures with their children.

In the part two coming soon, we'll have a look to what happened at the Disneyland park!

A report like this is always a lot of work - no kidding. So if you liked the report and if you can do it, a little Paypal donation will be welcome!

Disney Pictures: copyright Disney

Other pictures and videos: copyright Disney and more and Alain Littaye