Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Look at Disneyland Paris Future

On July 25, the D-Log website posted an article called "Future Developments at Disneyland Paris in danger?". The article made the effect of a thunder clap in DLP fans community and since then i've received dozens of messages asking me "Did you read this? Is it true?". Well, yes, of course, i've read the D-Log article and, because it is a quite complex case, i'm going to explain to you what i think is going on and where is the truth in all this.

But first, what exactly D-Log said? Here is an excerpt of the article and you can read the full article HERE:

"News has reached us that The Walt Disney Company has stopped investments for future projects after Ratatouille, taking effect immediately..."  "...In essence the news that has reached us of The Walt Disney Company ordering to shut down all future investments means all rumours on future plans for attractions, shows and entertainment will be put on hold for now. Rumours such as Star Tours 2, a complete mini-land with Star Wars theme, a successor to Captain EO, the addition of Captain Jack Sparrow to Pirates of the Caribbean, the extension of Hollywood Boulevard at the Walt Disney Studios Park, introducing Marvel characters at the Walt Disney Studios Park, Soarin’ Over The World, The Little Mermaid dark-ride at Fantasyland, etc. Countless rumours which have been circling the Internet for a number of years, but which have a notion of truth for some".

As you can see if what D-Log is saying is true it's certainly no good news indeed. So, is it true or not? Well, basically, D-Log is at the same time right, and not.  What IS true is that the WDC has decided to put on hold any new investment for new DLP rides after Ratatouille. And what is NOT true is that the WDC will not make any new investment in DLP anymore. In fact, a Star Wars land and a Marvel land for DLP are already scheduled by Disney Parks and Resorts, but, as you will see below, Disneyland Paris fans might have to wait a looong time. 

So, what is happening exactly? Well, you might know that Disney Parks is doing regularly - each year or so - some "ten years plan" in which they plan all major new rides and shows for each Disney theme park in the world for the next ten years. They're doing it for obvious reasons - mainly financial reasons - as they need to plan the different budgets that the company will have to spend in the years to come. 

And, in the latest "ten years plan" which was submit for approval to all Disney parks last May, the future projects listed for Disneyland Paris include of course the WDS Ratatouille ride - always scheduled for an opening mid 2014. And then, the next major attractions for DLP are scheduled for - are you sit? because you really need to be:

2022: Disneyland Paris Park: Star Wars Land + D Ticket attraction
2023: DLP Walt Disney Studios: Marvel Land and placemaking of the WDS

And from what i've been told, between 2014 and 2022 - and if we except new sequences in the Disney Dreams show - no other new ride is planned for DLP in this ten years plan, even for DLP 25th Anniversary in 2017. Waiting until 2022 looks for sure a long time to wait but before each DLP fan goes into "panic mode" you need to know something important. Disney Parks is doing regularly these "10 years plan" and sometime it happens that what is scheduled one year can be changed, for several reasons, 2 or 3 years later. That said, Disney Parks don't do these "ten years plans" just by throwing dices and, considering the old principle that there is a logic in life behind everything, this ten years plan and the chosen dates means necessarily something, specially on the plan of Disney economy reality, and this is what we're going to talk about now. 

The first thing that i think is wrong to think is that the WDC "don't care anymore about Disneyland Paris". May i remind you that last year, on Sept 18, the WDC did a loan of 1,332 Billion Euros to DLP so the park could pay off its debt to the banks? And not to mention others 200M Euros thanks to which DLP can build the Ratatouille ride at the WDS. So, frankly, i don't think that there is any company in the world that give to another one - in which they are the biggest stockholder - 1.5 Billion Euros if they don't care about it. But even for the Walt Disney Company there is limits, specially when you count in billions, and the WDC might think that DLP is like a "Danaids barrel" in which whatever you pour is not enough and seems to never end. And it's true that DLP financial problems are here since a loooong time even - and here is the paradox - if DLP is always the most visited place not only in France but also in Europe!

The other thing that you must keep in mind is that the WDC have others theme parks to care about, starting by the ones in the U.S. Bob Iger did a real good job to resolve the problems of HKDL and DCA - and that was not that easy to do - but the WDC is also aware of the upcoming projects of Universal Studios which are no jokes. Disney know that the Harry Potter land coming at Universal Hollywood as well as the Wizarding World phase two opening next year at Universal Orlando - not to mention the rumored two new rides at IOA in 2015 - are serious threats and that the company will need to counter-attack with new lands and attractions at both DL and WDW resorts. Thanks God, the U.S parks are doing pretty well, and Disney definitely want to make sure that they will continue to do well in the years to come.

But there is also another parameter: in 2015 Shanghaî Disneyland will open and it's a $4.4 Billion project. Even if Disney won't have to pay this amount in its entirety SDL will cost to the WDC probably at least $2 Billion, which is quite a lot of money indeed. It is well known that for Bob Iger Shanghaî Disneyland is a very important project as it will be its legacy when he will leave as CEO in June 2016, so the budget for SDL is definitely a "priority". And there is also the three others "big" projects, i.e the Avatar, Star Wars, and Marvel lands. These also will be part of Bob Iger legacy as they will exist thanks to the three major acquisitions that the WDC did since Iger became CEO, i.e Lucasfilm, Marvel, and the theme parks rights for Avatar. The fourth major acquisition was of course Pixar. All these acquisitions had the huge cost that we know - $4.24 B for Marvel and $4.05 B for Lucasfilm - and there is no doubt that, for understandable reasons of return on investment, the WDC consider the Avatar, Star Wars, and Marvel lands also as a priority. But it's a priority which has also a cost, and you probably can count between $1,5B and $2B for all three lands, if not more, specially considering that some will be built on both coasts at DL and WDW. And i don't mention other costs of upcoming projects like the new Star Tours movie(s) in 2015, the new Soarin' movie(s) in 2016, the Monsters Inc mini land at DCA, Disneyland 60th Anniversary and its Fantasyland dark rides updates, Disney Springs at WDW Downtown Disney, etc, etc...  

So, what is happening is that Parks and Resorts probably has fixed its financial priorities and, for all the reasons listed above, it is Shanghaî Disneyland and the U.S Disney theme parks, not DLP. Which explain why in the Disney Parks plan the new Star Wars and Marvel lands for DLP are scheduled not before the next decade. But again, it's not that the WDC don't care about DLP, it's probably just a question of money. Disney has already spent $8B to own Marvel and Lucasfilm, and then gave 1.5 B€ to DLP and now the company must spent for SDL and the U.S parks probably at least four or five more billion dollars between now and 2020. And the problem is that Disney CAN'T avoid to build SDL and these lands at DL and WDW. Add to this that the WDC probably consider - and i'm afraid they're right - that it will take some years for the economy in Europe to get better - and that any big investment won't change anything to this - and you'll understand why new investments in DLP from the WDC have been put on hold for many years. 

That said, even Disney U.S fans will have to wait before getting something big at DL and WDW. Sure, they won't have to wait as long as DLP fans and there will be some cool things coming in the meantime but the Avatar, Star Wars and Marvel lands are scheduled to open one after the other between 2017 and 2020, which is not exactly tomorrow. As for DLP the WDS Ratatouille ride will open mid 2014 and the ride will be so good that DLP probably can hold with it without new others attractions during the next two and a half years, until the end of 2016, which also will be the year of the opening of Villages Nature - if there is no changes - which will include a water park. In 2017 it will be DLP 25th anniversary, with so far no new attractions scheduled but probably new shows, parades and new sequences for the acclaimed Disney Dreams! show. And as usual DLP will extend the 25th anniversary celebrations until Sept 2018. 

So, even with no new rides after the opening of Ratatouille DLP should do fine at least until fall 2018. But it's after 2018 - if there is no changes in the "ten years plan" - that things might become difficult for Disneyland Paris. The best that we can hope is not a miracle - although a donation from an Arab prince would be welcome! - but some exceptional results for the WDC that could set up a new deal for DLP. And guess what, may be all is not lost as 2015 should be a "bingo" year for Disney. That year, Star Wars Episode 7, Avengers 2, Pirates of Caribbean 5 and Pixar's Finding Dory and Inside Out will be released in theaters and each of them are so awaited that they will probably make millions if not billions at the box office, not counting the merchandise sales. So, who knows, if it happens that the WDC has suddenly more money than expected they might give a bit of it to DLP? 

That said, DLP is not waiting and DLP CEO and all Disneyland Paris staff are doing their very best to improve the parks results. From what i've been told they also try to save each year as much money as possible for future projects. What could be smart, while waiting for the Star Wars and Marvel lands, would be - even if they can't find 150M€ for a E-Ticket ride - to build in the meantime small things which, even if it won't bring a lot of additional guests in the parks will at least bring something new before the next decade. Let's take the example of the Jack Sparrow Audio-Animatronics in POTC. The cost for the four new Audio-Animatronics, plus new decors and special effects is supposed to be around 10M€. The new POTC movie coming in 2015 could be the right time to finally introduce the Jack Sparrow AAs, whether it would be in 2015 or 2016. Sure, it'll be hard for DLP marketing department to "sell" a POTC update as a new attraction, but it would make something new for the 25th Anniversary, and - if i can say - at low cost. The rumored Phantom Manor and Big Thunder Mountain updates could also be done for limited budgets. Mice Age also revealed recently that a Star Wars 4D movie should come in 2015 at Disneyland Tomorrowland in Captain Eo theater. With a bit of luck - and money - this Star Wars 4D might come to DLP Discoveryland years before the opening of a Star Wars land.

So, i really wish that DLP will be able to save enough money in the upcoming years to introduce in the parks small but nice things which will help Disneyland Paris fans to wait until the opening of the big "promised" lands.

Edited: Don't miss the Part Two of this article right HERE.

Photo: copyright Walter Elias Teddy

Friday, September 6, 2013

News From Hayao Miyazaki Press Conference About His Retirement From Animated Movies

As you've read a few days ago Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki has announced that The Wind Rises will be his last movie. As expected a press conference happened this morning in Japan - picture below - and D&M have more explanations about his decision.

First, it was in fact Koji Hoshino, the director of production who announced it at Venise Film Festival as Miyazaki couldn't attend the event. But unfortunately this changes nothing as Miyazaki confirmed during the press conference that "this time it's true, i said it to the producer".

But, Miyazaki also said "I would like to work 10 more years but i think that doing long animated movies is not my work anymore".  Although Miyazaki said many times in the past that he was going to stop, mainly because of the huge work that request an animated movie, this time seems to be the good one even if he wants to continue to work freely during the next ten years: "I'm going to be free. That said, as long as i will be able to take my car to go working at Studio Ghibli, i will go, and what i want to do i will do it" without giving more details.

"Kaze Tachinu - The Wind Rises - took me five years to achieve.  If i was thinking doing a new movie it will take me six or seven years to do it. I will be soon 73 and and it means that i will be 80 at the end" added Miyazaki who consider that he has to dedicate these years of his life to something different.

So, here is the truth from the master's mouth. May be we will have the luck to see short animated movies from Miyazaki but don't count seeing a new long animated movie after the release of The Wind Rises, which will be distributed by Disney as Disney confirmed recently, without giving any specific dates.

Top picture : copyright Missinglink71

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Two new major attractions coming to Universal Islands of Adventure in 2015 ?

According to the always well informed and reliable Screamcape web site not less than TWO major attractions will open at Universal Islands of Adventures in 2015! One of the two would be a long awaited new Jurassic Park ride. As Lance says "There have been too many JP themed ride rumors lately to say for sure what this one will be..." ...but we still can hope that the JP Jeep ride envisioned a long time ago could make its come back, although i wouldn't bet a lot on it... but we can dream, can't we?

The other ride to open in 2015 will be an unexpected one to be built at IOA Dr Seuss Landing. Always according to Lance some project called Project 301 "was just given the green light, with an aggressive plan to get it up and open in time for the Christmas 2015 holiday season. All I know so far is that this will be a new 3D ride experience themed to The Lorax, and that they will build a new large structure behind One Fish, Two Fish for it". 

So, just one year after what will be a major opening with Wizarding World of Harry Potter part two Universal will open two new attractions this time at IOA. At WDW,  after the 2014 opening of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train guests will have to wait until 2016 with the new Soarin' over the World movie - and 2017 with Avatar Land at Animal Kingdom - and obviously Universal is decided to use as much as they can their "momentum" and their ability to built new rides extremely quickly. Recently it was announced that Comcast - who owns Universal Studios - will add $500M more to build new rides, and now we know where they will be spent!

In the meantime don't forget to check regularly Screamscape updates for more news coming soon about these two projects!

Pictures: copyright Universal Studios

New Shows Coming at Tokyo Disneyland in 2014 and Tokyo DisneySea in 2015

Oriental Land announced that new entertainment will be introduced at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea in 2014 and 2015! TDL will have its own castle show version and it will be called “Once Upon a Time”. Just like Disney Dreams at DLP it will use projection mapping technology and will premiere at Tokyo Disneyland in 2014. And at Tokyo DisneySea, a new musical production themed to Disney’s The Little Mermaid will open in 2015 at Mermaid Lagoon Theater. Note that the musical show  “Under the Sea,” currently presented at Mermaid Lagoon Theater, will close permanently on April 6, 2014. Below, Oriental Land official press release.

New Entertainment at Tokyo Disneyland in 2014 and Tokyo DisneySea in 2015

At Tokyo Disneyland
“Once Upon a Time”

A fantastic and heartwarming nighttime entertainment, “Once Upon a Time” richly using projection mapping technology. Projection mapping makes it possible to project images in a way that fits the contours of buildings and other structures to produce a three-dimensional effect. This is the first time for this technology to be used in an entertainment program at Tokyo Disney Resort®.

Many of the inspiring stories from the Disney films, including Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland will be vividly projected in 3D on the exterior of Cinderella Castle, the symbol of Tokyo Disneyland. This show will also include popular musical pieces from these films and special effects, such as on-stage pyrotechnics.

Show Facts
  • Duration: About 15 minutes
  • Venue: Cinderella Castle
  • Opening Date: Spring or summer 2014 (tentative)
  • Investment Amount: About 2 billion yen (tentative)

At Tokyo DisneySea
New production at Mermaid Lagoon Theater

The attraction, Mermaid Lagoon Theater, will be revamped, and a new musical production themed to Disney’s The Little Mermaid will be presented.

Mermaid Lagoon Theater will be renovated with upgraded stage and lighting technology, as well as new display screens to be installed at the rear of the audience seating area. As King Triton hosts a musical concert, familiar Disney characters, such as Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian, will present a mesmerizing world under the sea, just as in the movie, with lively music, songs and dynamic performances.

Show Facts
  • Duration: About 15 minutes
  • Opening Date: Spring 2015 (tentative)
  • Investment Amount: Undecided
Please note that the musical production “Under the Sea,” currently presented at Mermaid Lagoon Theater, will close permanently on April 6, 2014. Mermaid Lagoon Theater will be closed from April 7, 2014 to spring of 2015.

Picture: copyright Disney - Oriental Land

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Paramount Park project in Alhama de Murcia, Spain, may be not dead after all

Guess what? Finally it seems that the Paramount Park project in Alhama de Murcia, Spain, is may be not dead after all! In the latest news the president of the region, Ramon Luis Valcarcel, announced that Paramount had entered in the shareholding of the project. This may provide greater credibility and confidence to the project, which would also attract new shareholders who so far doubted of the veracity of the Paramount Park project. Let's hope that Paramount now among the shareholders - even with a minimum percentage - and their commitment to quality in the future park will add trust and believe in the project.

More news translated as well as i could from Spanish articles: 

"The Paramount chief executive revealed during the traditional summer briefing with regional media that the project is going well  "If the project would be born in another era, the kids would be  (already) playing on the rides. But as he was born in 2010, in times of economy crisis, the circumstances are different" he said.

The first announcement about the park project was done three years ago, in February 2010 , when was announced the deal with Paramount to create a theme park set in Murcia based on the Paramount movies. At that time nobody gave him credibility as it seemed to be another political project with no real background but however the project has been progressing slowly but surely and now we know the project plan,  as well as informations on the different lands of the park.

Also, in recent weeks, others news have appeared indicating that the project is ongoing with more support than ever and could soon start the works :

A news from newspaper La Verdad on July 27 said that the city of Alhama expects to grant the first license between October and November, after returning to a plenary session on Special Development Plan. However, despite Premursa intend to start work in September, the municipal corporation believe it might not be possible because of the time took by bureaucracy.  Minister of Tourism, Pedro Alberto Cruz, also requested speed in the schedule so they can start the works in September.

Moreover, Jesus Samper ( Premursa promoter ) and Michael Bartok ( Paramount Licensing Executive Vice President ) visited the Region of Murcia and met with officials in the region to talk about the status of the project. 

In the news published on August 2 , the Minister of Tourism , Pedro Alberto Cruz, ensures that the project will go forward without interruption until his inauguration, thanks to the financial structure own by Premursa.

On the other hand, it was also announced that the model of the project ( picture on top ) will be presented in the Archaeological Museum of Murcia from September, to bring the project to the people of the region.

Let's end by a new video presenting the project with new renderings! Interesting part starts at 1.45 min.

Picture: copyright Paramount Park

Monday, September 2, 2013

WDS Ratatouille Ride Update

We will start the week with a short DLP update and the latest pictures of the works on the Ratatouille ride at the Walt Disney Studios. As usual we all thanks Max Fan , D&M contributor and DLRP Welcome webmaster for his pictures!

The first pictures below shows the new metallic structures for the upcoming fake facades where will be the future shop of the new mini land. This was how it looked just a few days ago...

and this is how it looks now, two days later...

Of course the works are still going on in the rest of the Ratatouille area and i think we can have good hopes to see the scaffoldings being removed later this fall.

In the meantime in Frontierland the new Big Thunder Mountain disabled guest access is now open and  a new rock was unveiled. Unfortunately it seems that the rock sculpture is not as "inspired" as the one that were done on the BTM area by the 1992 rock sculptors. It's always a dangerous decision to attempt to recreate a distinctive style of rockwork unless you have someone who worked on the project originally or a veteran rockwork sculptor who can carve in the same style as the pre-existing rocks. Unfortunately, here neither was the case, so rockwork should have been avoided and a water tank or any appropriate prop or architectural structure would have been a better choice than this rock work, at least from what we can see of it in the photos below...

Thats all for today about DLP present, we'll talk soon about its future!

I remind you that in my Disneyland Paris book you have the whole park in 320 pages with 750 photos including 250 WDI renderings! Copies of the book are still available but unfortunately there is now less than TEN copies of the Disneyland Paris From Sketch to Reality book available in its ENGLISH collector's edition - the FRENCH edition is also available - so if you don't own the book yet, it's really now or never! 

And there is a special price right now with a $45 / 40€ discount on the normal price, so order your collector copy while there is still copies available as it's really the last english collector copies. You'll find below a one click Paypal button as well as a video showing the whole book. Also, you can have more infos about this gorgeous 320 pages book HERE.

Disneyland Paris From Sketch to Reality - Include shipping

Click on the image below to jump to the book presentation.

Photos: copyright Max Fan - DLRP Welcome

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Breaking News : Genius Japanese Director Hayao Miyazaki Announces That He Will Not Direct Anymore Animated Movies

This is a major news, and unfortunately a very sad one: Hayao Miyazaki the genius Japanese director has announced today that "the Wind Rises" will be his last animated movie and that he will stop directing animated movies.

Hayao Miyazaki, acclaimed all over the world not only by his long time fans and audience but also by all animators from wherever they are including at Disney and Pixar, "God" of John Lasseter, 2003 best animated movie Academy Award winner is undeniably one of the greatest director of animated movies of all time.

His last movie "Kaze Tachinu" - "The Wind Rises" in english - is currently in competition at Venise Film Festival where the movie was acclaimed after the screening. Miyazaki, 72, couldn't attend Venise film festival but he announced that a press conference will be organized soon in Japan where "The Wind Rises" is already released and a huge success.

"The Wind Rises" told the story of a plane engineer who really existed - Jiro Horikoshi - who designed the famous war plane Mitsubishi "Zero" who was used by Japan air army during WW II. When he was a child Jiro dreamed to fly and to design planes inspired by those of italian plane engineer Italo Caproni. Because he couldn't be a pilot due to his myopia he ended in 1927 in the engineer division and became one of the most brilliant plane designer in the world. He then fall in love with Nahoko, a young woman whom he previously met when he saved her life when he was a teen.

Hayao Miyazaki who was inspired by a novel of Japanese writer Tatsuo Hori recall in the two hours movie a big part of 20th century Japan history: the 1923 earthquake at Kanto, the big depression era, the deadly tuberculosis epidemic and the entrance of Japan in World War II.

"The Wind Rises" will be released in Europe and in the U.S in 2014 and appears to be an epic animated movie. I may be wrong but i have the feeling that Miyazaki did here something close to David Lean's epic and romantic movies set in historic events like, for instance, "Doctor Zhivago". As a huge fan of Miyazaki myself i can't wait to see "The Wing Rises" and below you'll find the trailer.

If you've never watched any of Miyazaki animated movies you MUST see them. All of them are masterpieces and my favorites are "Spirited Away" - for which he received the Berlin Film Festival Golden Lion and the 2003 best animated movie Academy Award - or "Princess Mononoke" among many others of his animated features. To have a genius of this altitude announcing that he will not direct anymore is a great loss - it's just like if Stanley Kubrick was still alive and announces that he will not direct anymore.... Hopefully, his Studio Ghibli will probably continue to produce animated movies but no one can replace a genius director like Miyazaki was.

Pictures and video: copyright Studio Ghibli