Saturday, January 25, 2014

Disney Legend Bob Gurr on the Creation of Disneyland Monorail

The Disney Parks blog reposted a great video with Disney legend and Imagineer Bob Gurr filmed some years ago. Great video in which Bob Gurr talks about the Disneyland Monorail, its creation, what Walt wanted, and more...

There is plenty of interesting shots or rare documents in this video so i did for you screen shots of the most interesting ones. The video starts by pictures of Walt and rare sketches of the Monorail...

Then, we have a few shots of the Disneyland Viewliner, the predecessor of the Monorail, with Walt driving the Viewliner...

...followed by great shots of the Mark I Monorail.

We also can see color footage of the 1959 inauguration with Vice-President Richard Nixon...

And their short video ends with great shots of the latest version of the DL Monorail!

Next time you'll go at Disneyland don't miss the Monorail dedication plaque!

Okay, it's time to have a look at the real thing, so here is the video with Disney Legend Bob Gurr talking about the creation of the Monorail!

Pictures and video: copyright Disney

Cool Star Wars Watches

Here is some real cool design of five Star Wars watches. I'm not specially a watch addict but i think they did a good job... They're sold $200 each which sounds a bit expensive to me, but if you want to get one you can do it on Think Geek HERE.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Shanghaî Disneyland Update !

What a week, folks, with news and updates about almost every park and we will end the week with the latest news about Shanghaî Disneyland - news, not rumors!

It is officially announced by SDL press office: the first of the two Disney-themed hotels in Shanghaî Disney Resort topped out on Wednesday: "The first topping out of a front of house building at Shanghai Disney Resort was celebrated today at the resort build site, marking a new milestone in the project’s development. The moment was commemorated when concrete was poured into the last section of the roof structure for a key building in the resort’s retail, dining and entertainment area. The hotel will feature 800 rooms over seven floors and will offer Guests stunning views of Shanghai Disneyland, the retail, dining and entertainment district and the resort’s central lake.

SDL press office don't mention the name of the SDL hotel but i think they're talking about the 5 stars Shanghaî Disneyland hotel located near the lake which will indeed have 7 floors and face SDL Castle, you have the plan below.

By the way, talking about hotels, the chinese press also talk about the announcement of an Atlantis Hotel which will be built nearby SDL, in this case a "non -Disney" hotel: "Local media have reported that a 7-star Atlantis hotel could also be developed outside but near the resort. Chinese developer Fosun International has said it plans to build a new ultra-luxury water-based resort near the attraction in Shanghai's Pudong district". 

The hotel topping out was preceded by the installation last week of the first vertical steel for Shanghai Disneyland’s “mountain”, marking the official start of vertical construction for another remarkable attraction at the resort’s Magic Kingdom-style theme park. The mountain will be located in a key area of the theme park and will be the second highest structure at Shanghai Disney Resort after the Enchanted Storybook Castle. On completion it will also stand as the highest “mountain” in Shanghai’s Pudong New District. 

Although there is no indication about the land and the attraction for which they're building this "mountain", i suspect that it will be the one on Roaring Rapids, the raft ride supposedly with Audio-Animatronics dinosaurs, the one you can see on the bottom right of the rendering below. There won't be anyway dozens of "mountains" at Shanghaî Disneyland. There will be a smaller one for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but this one is too small to be "the second-highest structure at Shanghai Disney Resort after the Enchanted Storybook Castle" that's why i place my bets on the one for Roaring Rapids.

More news, this time about the transportation to Shanghaî Disneyland! It was announced officially yesterday that Shanghai will not have a special Disney Line like Hong Kong but some Metro trains running from Luoshan Road to Shanghai Disneyland will feature Disney elements.

"Three trains on Line 11 will be painted with popular Disney characters inside and outside the carriages, Zhang Jianbin, the chief planner of the Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, the city's subway operator, told legislators at the annual session of the Shanghai People's Congress. "Line 11 will not become a special Disney Line like in Hong Kong because it will mainly serve regular commuters," Zhang said. To serve the theme park, Line 11 will have an extension from Luoshan Road Station to Disneyland with stops at Kangqiao Road E., Hengxin Road and Disneyland. Passengers will be able to change at Luoshan Road Station for a ride on one of the three theme-park painted trains, he said".

"The 9.2-kilometer Metro line extension will include 7.7 kilometers above ground but the final stretch will be underground. Passengers will enter the park through an underground passageway. The under-construction Disneyland Metro station will feature a blue color scheme with fantasy elements. The Disneyland station will be partially underground but will allow in natural light indoors. According to officials it will be surrounded by an artificial lake, trees and shrubs."

That's all for today about Shanghaî Disneyland!

Pictures: copyright Disney - Shendi

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Editor's Note: Please note that i did a brand new version of the Harry Potter Diagon Alley article which is now updated with 15 new high-res pics - including a great one showing a scene of the  Gringotts ride - and the 9 min video of the Live Preview presentation! If you've already read it yesterday you might want to have a look at it again!

Universal Orlando Harry Potter Diagon Alley Event ! Now Updated With New High-Res Pictures and Live Event Presentation Video !

Universal Orlando did the awaited Live Event about Harry Potter Diagon Alley this morning and released plenty of new renderings, the ones you were waiting for! And this article is now updated with 15 new high-res pics and the 9 min video of the Live Preview presentation!

So, never before has a theme park created a guest experience like this: you will climb aboard the Hogwarts Express in Hogsmeade and moments later arrive at King’s Cross Station – where the wonders of London and Diagon Alley will unfold before you.  And it will be all real.

When guests will arrive in front of the impressive London facade they might recognize  some of them: King’s Cross Station, Charing Cross Road, Grimmauld Place, Leicester Square Station, Wyndham’s Theatre...

...and the famous Eros Fountain from Piccadilly Circus. The purple Knight Bus will be there too with an interactive inside including a taking schrunken head with a Caribbean accent!

The event was introduced by Mark Woodburry, President of Universal Creative, along with actors from the Harry potter movies. Mark was talking from the Gringotts bank vaults, and my guess is that it was filmed in one of the decor of the ride pre-show walk-through.

Then, Thierry Coup, Senior Vice-President Studio Creative told us more about the Hogwarts Express. After arriving at King’s Cross Station aboard the Hogwarts Express, guests will pass through London and the iconic brick wall archway from the films into Diagon Alley – a bustling, wizarding hub within a Muggle city. There will be shops, dining experiences, and the new ride called "Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts" – a multi-sensory, multi-dimensional journey that will take theme park attractions to a new level: 

Guests will board the Hogwarts Express and journey between London’s King’s Cross Station ( picture above ) which will be a replica of the real one in London with the famous 9 3/4 track - and Hogsmeade Station in Universal’s Islands of Adventure ( picture below ). The journey will be filled with virtual views of London and the British countryside – as well as a few surprises. Park-to-park admission will be required. 

Actually, Thierry Coup was filmed inside one of the wagon of the Hogwarts Express, the same one in which guests will make the trip to Hogsmeade Station!

He was joined in the wagon by Evanna Lynch, who portrays Luna Lovegood in the movies.

But if instead to go to Hogsmeade guests choose to stay in Diagon Alley they will enter through a special pathway looking like the parting of bricks that you've sen in the films when Hagrid let Harry potter get inside the area. And, yes, apparently the dragon will stand at the top of Gringoots bank!

Here are others shots of Diagon Alley, from the virtual movie shown during the presentation.

Then, guests will rush to experience a groundbreaking new, multi-dimensional thrill ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, which will place riders in the middle of an incredible adventure as they navigate their way through the perils of the Gringotts vaults! 

Universal didn't said a lot today about the ride itself, keeping surprises for later, but here are two renderings, the first one - now in high-res, below, showing what could be the departure scene of the ride...

I'm sure you want to have a closer look at the ride vehicle...

And also this one, showing an amazing scene during the ride which sure will be a BIG E-Ticket ride!

There will be much more to see in Diagon Alley, where guests will find plenty of shops and eateries:

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, a vibrant shop featuring novelty items, magical jokes, and toys inspired by the books and films that will amaze the mischievous child in everyone

Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC, one of the wizarding world’s premier wand shops. An expanded version of the one at Hogsmeade village in which guests can witness the magical experience of a wand choosing a wizard.

A closer look at the shop...

Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, where guests can grab wizarding essentials such as telescopes, binoculars, armillary spheres, compasses, magnifying glasses and hourglasses.

Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour for frozen treats in a variety of tantalizing and unique flavors such as strawberry-and-peanut-butter ice-cream and many others.

But also: Leaky Cauldron - Serving traditional British fare such as fish and chips and bangers and mash.

Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, where guests will find a variety of wizardwear from Hogwarts school uniform ties, scarves and jumpers, to authentic wizard’s robes and character costumes

Magical Menagerie, which features a collection of plush animals, such as owls and Hippogriffs

Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, where guests can grab wizarding essentials such as telescopes, binoculars, armillary spheres, compasses, magnifying glasses and hourglasses

Quality Quidditch Supplies, offering a wide assortment of apparel and equipment including Quidditch sweaters, brooms, Golden Snitches, Bludgers, Bludger bats, Quaffles and more

Scribbulus, featuring authentic writing implements and products such as feather quills, ink and inkwells, bookmarks, journals, parchment paper, seals, stationery sets and postcards

And, finally, Discover the darker side of magic in Knockturn Alley, the darkest of dark places that features Borgin and Burkes – a shop specializing in the Dark Arts that will offer a wide variety of Dark objects, such as Death Eater masks, skulls, and other sinister items!

Now, here is the full 9 min presentation of yesterday with even more infos about Diagon Alley!

For sure this new Diagon Alley will be awesome and just like you i can't wait for its opening this summer!

Pictures: copyright Universal Studios