Thursday, April 28, 2011

Seaing Fantasmic...

Sea-nsational debut...



Fantastic Seaside Show...

Well, we've now gotten our first look at the Japanese version of Disney's "Fantasmic!" water show...

And as can be expected, it's a pretty impressive show. It seems to melt much of the original show with projection elements from World of Color. Here it is in two parts: One and Two and alternate versions Here and catch the entire thing in one shot with Joe In Japan's version Here.

It's not an exact duplicate of the original or a cheap copy like Walt Disney World has. It's a beast of a different nature and I like that. If there was one complaint, it would be that at times it feels uneven with the transitions. But this was it's first show and I'm sure there will be fine tuning over the coming months.

Also, some of the rehearsals had dancing metallic birds made of metal that sort of did a ballet duel - not here. It didn't make the cut. Overall, a grand and beautiful show.

Now, on with the rest of the celebration...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The DisneySEA Decade...

The great blue sea opens up to beachgoers tomorrow...





Tomorrow, Tokyo DisneySEA reopens its beautiful gates...

With the tragic situation of the earthquake/tsunami we have rightfully been concerned about other, more important things. But with each passing day the nation of Japan pulls itself out of this unfortunate event. Each day life becomes more and more normal, if that is really possible. Economic experts think it will take at least five years before the Japanese are back to a where they were. The Tokyo Disney Resort was not damaged very badly. In fact, very little was done to the actual parks. The majority of the damage was in the parking lots, which resulted in a condition called "liquefaction." The main problem with opening the parks has been power. It has been inconsistent throughout the last few weeks and waiting for an acceptable level has been time consuming.

The Tokyo Disneyland park opened last week and thankfully, Tokyo DisneySEA will finally join her sister tomorrow. And if that weren't enough, the Japanese version of "Fantasmic!" will premiere tomorrow as well. So with the opening of my second favorite park, I think it's time we focused on the fact that it a celebration. Not just one of opening, but one of having been open for a noteworthy amount of time. It's hard to believe that it has been a decade since this park opened.

Ten Years.

Ten years since WDI showed Disney Suits what could happen if they took the shackles off. If they let them dream to dream. And some of the people in Burbank have been trying to live it down every since. There were those agreements that were put in place to make it so that the Oriental Land Company's Tokyo Disney Resort couldn't advertise outside the country. That was supposed to prevent most from seeing what this place was like. That way there would be no comparisons to the other parks. But those agreements were right as the Internet was taking off. No one could realize back then that the Web would be the gateway for those that didn't know about this place. The Net would be the key to this place and no agreement could stop it.

The secret was out.

Although the official anniversary isn't till September 4, 2011, the Resort will be taking a year long celebration of the park, the start date has been postponed. A revised schedule will likely be announce as we get closer to summer. While DCA's celebration of a decade came with little fanfare, it's not going to be the case with Tokyo's Second Gate. It's going to be lovely and spectacular. It will be not only a celebration of Disney, of exploration and adventure, but of perseverance of the Japanese people and life itself.

And that's something fantasmic, uh, I mean fantastic to realize...

Monday, April 25, 2011

An Avenging Start...

Avengers Assemble...







So Joss Whedon yelled action for the first time on a super-hero film today...

Marvel Studios' "The Avengers" began principle photography this morning. The culmination of years of planning and hundreds of millions of dollars will roll into theaters on May 4, 2012. It's the biggest gamble the formerly independent studio that is now a self running entity of the Mouse. I would say that if Whedon was given the clearance to do with these characters what he did on Astonishing X-Men, then we're in for a treat and the cost of this film is a safe bet.

Marvel has issued an official press release:

Production has commenced today in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Marvel Studios' highly anticipated movie "Marvel's The Avengers," directed by Joss Whedon ("Serenity") from a screenplay by Whedon. The film will continue principal photography in Cleveland, Ohio and New York City. Robert Downey, Jr. ("Iron Man," "Iron Man 2") returns as the iconic Tony Stark/Iron Man along with Chris Hemsworth ("Thor") as Thor, Chris Evans ("Captain America: The First Avenger") as Captain America, Jeremy Renner ("Thor," "The Hurt Locker") as Hawkeye, Mark Ruffalo ("The Kids Are Alright") as Hulk, Scarlett Johansson ("Iron Man 2") as Black Widow, Clark Gregg ("Iron Man," "Thor") as Agent Phil Coulson, and Samuel L. Jackson ("Iron Man," "Iron Man 2") as Nick Fury. Set for release in the US on May 4, 2012, "Marvel's The Avengers" is the first feature to be fully owned, marketed and distributed by Disney, which acquired Marvel in 2009.

Continuing the epic big-screen adventures started in "Iron Man," "The Incredible Hulk," "Iron Man 2," "Thor," and "Captain America: The First Avenger," "Marvel's The Avengers" is the super hero team up of a lifetime. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster.

Based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series, first published in 1963, "Marvel's The Avengers" brings together the mightiest super hero characters as they all assemble together on screen for the first time. The star studded cast of super heroes will be joined by Cobie Smulders ("How I Met Your Mother) as Agent Maria Hill of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as Tom Hiddleston ("Wallander") and Stellan Skarsgård ("Angels & Demons," "Mamma Mia!") who will both reprise their respective roles as Loki and Professor Erik Selvig from the upcoming Marvel Studios' feature "Thor."

"Marvel's The Avengers" is being produced by Marvel Studios' President, Kevin Feige, and executive produced by Alan Fine, Stan Lee, Louis D'Esposito, Patty Whitcher, and Jon Favreau. Marvel Studios' Jeremy Latcham and Victoria Alonso will co-produce.

The creative production team also includes Oscar nominated director of photography Seamus McGarvey ("Atonement"), production designer James Chinlund ("25th Hour"), Oscar winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne ("Elizabeth: The Golden Age"), Oscar winning visual effects supervisor Janek Sirrs ("Iron Man 2," "The Matrix"), visual effects producer Susan Pickett ("Iron Man," "Iron Man 2"), stunt coordinator R.A. Rondell ("Superman Returns"), and four-time Oscar nominated special effects supervisor Dan Sudick ("Iron Man," "War of the Worlds"). The editors include Oscar nominated Paul Rubell ("Collateral") and Jeffrey Ford ("Crazy Heart").

Marvel Studios most recently produced "Iron Man 2" which was released in theatres on May 7, 2010. The sequel to "Iron Man," starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow as well as Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson and Mickey Rourke, took the number one spot its first weekend with a domestic box office gross of $128.1 million. To date the film has earned over $620 million in worldwide box office receipts.

In the summer of 2008, Marvel produced the summer blockbuster movies, "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk." "Iron Man," in which Robert Downey, Jr. originally dons the super hero's powerful armor alongside co-stars Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow, was released May 2, 2008 and was an immediate box office success. Garnering the number one position for two weeks in a row, the film brought in over $100 million its opening weekend and grossed over $571 million worldwide. On June 13, 2008, Marvel released "The Incredible Hulk" marking its second number one opener of that summer. The spectacular revival of the iconic green goliath grossed over $250 million in worldwide box office receipts.


Now if they can just get that S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off out the door by 2013/14...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Good News From The Grid...

Number Three could possibly be...





It appears that you Programs got some great news this week...

The Blu-Ray/DVD for "Tron Legacy" was a big winner. The sales were good enough to make Disney Suits take notice. Now of course, they're going to have to continue to be good, but so far it's impressive.

The sequel to "Tron" was number one, but it was so with a huge 68% of sales and outsold the DVD two-to-one. The third film in the series hasn't been green lit no matter what anyone has told you, but business like this makes it more likely. If you haven't yet got a copy and plan on it, may I suggest you depart with some green. It may make the difference between a two and a three.

As in TR3N...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Marvelous World...

Excelsior...



Earlier in the week Kevin Feige let slip his desires for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe...

In an article between the pages of the newest issue of D23 he gave a few nuggets as to where he hoped to go:


"We hope that holds true for the characters appearing in that film — Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the spy organization, S.H.I.E.L.D. — all of whom are more than worthy and capable of carrying their own films."


This along with the other projects in development (Dr. Strange, Runaways, ect.) mean that as the young upstart studio moves further into the decade, we can look forward to a wider and greater expanded collection of stories. This also helps buttress some of the reports that I was getting concerning a desire to develop a S.H.I.E.L.D. franchise sans the men-in-tights. I'm still trying to find out if that proposed animated series has gotten any further along the line than just a broad concept. An animated S.H.I.E.L.D. series on Disney XD featuring the right cast of characters could/would be awesome.

I know that a "Dr. Strange" film would be quite interesting, but the person best suited to direct it is too busy at this time. Guillermo del Toro you need to offer yourself up for a cloning experiment. Hopefully they can get him to at least write the screenplay with his writing partner like he's doing for "Haunted Mansion."

"The Runaways" could work as an interesting piece that moves toward a lower demographic, age-wise, I mean. It's got a very healthy cult following and with the right script, cast and director, would be an interesting departure for the Marvel universe.

As for "Black Widow," I will admit that she's a character I don't know as much about or really follow. Scripting chores should not go out to the people that gave us "Electra." "Hawkeye?" I'm game for anything with Jeremy Renner(Uncharted, anyone?).

Hopefully this expanded universe will continue expanding and expanding and expanding...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The 13th Gate...

Lucky number...




Lucky gate...
A couple weeks ago the Mouse will let out the first, minimalist details about the coming Magic Kingdom-styled theme park that it plans to open in Shanghai in 2015/16...

But what I want to know is what will come after it?


I mean, we know that Shanghai Disneyland is going to be modeled after a Magic Kingdom styled park. Of course there will be variation, with no Main Street involved, but it's still going to follow the basic principles of the hub/4-5 lands concept that Walt Disney pioneered back in the Fifties. But what will the park after that one be? We know that Shanghai will be Iger's first chance to put the stamp of his taste on a Disney park. But it's going to be something that already has guidelines to adhere to. So it won't tell us how far, or how daring the Walt Disney Company via Iger wil go. The park after SDL will be a much bigger and far more interesting test.

First off, examine the parks that the Mouse already has:




* In California it has two (2) with the original Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.




* In Florida it has four (4) with the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, not to mention a host of other properties including a couple of water parks.




* In Japan it has two (2), although they're not technically owned by them, but franchises that royalties are derived from.




* In France it hast two (2) with Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Paris.



* In China it has one (1) for now (Hong Kong Disneyland), and one (1) that is supposed to be done after the middle of the decade (Shanghai Disneyland).

Twelve parks, 12 gates. So, what's next?

California -

Well, let's narrow down the possibilities for each of these first. Starting with the original, what are the chances we'll have a third gate for Anaheim in the next few years? Sadly, not likely at all. There are blue sky projects all over WDI, but nothing so big is being planned for a third theme park right now. The majority of the resources are going toward making the Second work and then the focus will likely shift to the Disneyland park in 2011/12 for some tlc for a few years. This along with a small possible/probable second expansion will likely fill out most of this decade for the Disneyland Resort.

If a third gate comes, it'll be later in the decade, no sooner than 2017/18 at the earliest. And likely, that would probably be the announcement of, not the building of any third park. For now, we have to be content with improving the parks and resort. This isn't bad news as with each addition the parks/hotels/shops become closer to being a true resort as was promised almost a decade ago. It will arrive late, but starting in 2012 we'll get what was deserved all the way back into 2001. A third gate will be a blessed surprise and a welcome addition, but not an expected one.

Florida -

Then perhaps a fifth gate for Florida? Again, not much planning going ahead for a massive new gate like the other four. As of now you shouldn't expect a park along the size and scope of the last three gates. Right now, that "Boutique" park planned for night time guests is still in the works, but with the economy the way it is the announcement of that is in doubt. So, until the international outlook becomes better, I don't think number five will be alive. Which, really is fine with me.

WDW has four parks right now that need attention directed by WDI (as the current Fantasyland expansion shows) and hopefully the park managers and Suits will be able to work on improving the experience for guest. I don't expect to see any announcement during this decade. If the economy booms and attendance surges, anything is possible, but the build out of the parks is pretty full. About the best we can hope is a furthered improvement of the current parks and the current experience.

Europe -

Now, then you have Paris with its two gates. There perhaps? No. Let me restate that: NO. Not a snowballs chance in Hades. If there is any resort that has absolutely no chance of getting another gate, it's Paris. I know that EuroDisney recently came out with plans that included announcements of a possible park, but these are projections over decades, not years. With the financial situation in Europe the way it is, any dream of announcing a third park will be just that: a dream. But with the 20th anniversary coming up you can look forward to some updates/rethemes and additional E-Tickets at both parks.

I'd suggest going over to Alain's excellent Disney and More blog if you wish to have some more knowledge as to what could be coming down the line for the parks. It's great to see that they're still expanding the two parks, even if there is no plan/news for a third gate. Now, if they'd just build a better front entrance to Walt Disney Studios Paris, like what is happening to California Adventure. Well, I guess you can't have everything.

Asia -

J a p a n
Surely Tokyo would have something coming up? After that earthquake/tsunami it's going to take some time for the Oriental Land Company to get back up to speed and that could take a few years. Any talks of a third gate are really off the table. But it doesn't mean there haven't been projects that the Walt Disney Company and their Japanese partners haven't tried. Remember how they were going to have that Urban Entertainment Center, a couple of years ago? This was a product of those wonderful Jay Rasulo daze, uhm, I mean days, that are now behind us. But the Japanese owners of the Disney's only franchise couldn't make the numbers work for the OLC and it was scrapped. Even if it were to have been built, it wouldn't have been on the Tokyo Disney Resort or even in Tokyo for that matter. Several other cities were being looked at for this expansion of Disney's only franchise partner.

As for the resort, any expansion would more than likely require more landfill and that is a very pricey expenditure, even for the Oriental Land Company. So unless plans for parking structures go through so as to free up some of those parking lots, any plan for a third gate in the land of the rising sun won't rise. Then again, with the liquefaction of the parking lot from the natural disaster, perhaps this could be feasible? There is a model in the Imagineers secretive model room of a project for the TDR, but it waits, unwanted. That doesn't mean that all construction is dormant of course. You could see a great deal of expansion of the current parks. Tokyo DisneySEA in particular has continually added attractions over the past few years that will culminate this year in the tenth anniversary of that amazing park. Events and planning for the fifteenth anniversary are already starting to be talked about and you can imagine a few surprises to be announcEd as that date comes closer.

C h i n a
So, that leaves only Hong Kong. What could be happening there? Well, we know what's going on there up until 2013 with the current Extreme Expansion. Notice that date? It's a year sooner than originally announced and that is by design. They want to get as far out in front of Shanghai as possible. In fact, if the plans go well for the Extreme Expansion and attendance goes up to expectations then plans are for another, slightly smaller expansion to be completed by the opening of China's second Disneyland. Now, as for the Hong Kong Disney Resort; is a second park in the cards for the future?

No. Not anytime soon. There is still a couple of years before the actual expiration date on the original deal. The most likely thing to happen is that the Walt Disney Company will get a waver or extension for at least into the next decade. By the beginning of the next decade we can probably expect Hong Kong to get another park, but like DCA, HKDL is in need of tender love and care.

As for Shanhai Disney Resort, there are plans to build out to at least two, but possibly three theme parks when completed. But that plan is over a decades expected roll out. And we won't see a second park for this park until well into the next decade.

So will all this in mind it brings into perspective what this decade is. From 2011-2020 is a recovery decade, a hangover decade. A span of time that will mostly be used to buttress or fix up existing parks and resorts. This decade will be a chance for the Mouse to refresh and strengthen the places and experiences to be found in a Disney kingdom.

The next decade will be the one where the unexpected will come...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Believing In Elves...

Thirteen is a lucky number...





There is a lot of talk going on about what comes after "Reboot Ralph" next year...

Specifically, a good deal of talk about Chris Williams' "King of the Elves." I've received several e-mails asking me about the status of this project. A few have asked if it has been canceled.

I can say that as of a couple weeks ago, the project was right on schedule. So if it's been put into turnaround, then it has happened in the last week or so. I personally doubt it. From those Bothans that I've talked to, the project was moving steadily forward and was having no more story problems than any other project of its type. It has been doing so well in fact, that it was/is being considered for the Christmas holiday release for 2013.

Now, all that could change if Lasseter and Catmull find that story problems will make it impossible to have ready for that release date. As far as I know all is moving forward and Chris Williams' next effort should/could be out a year and a half after Ralph winds up rebooting.

Developing...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In A Hole, In The Ground, There Lived A Hobbit...

And in that hole he made a lot of money...











The first behind the scene video of the production of "The Hobbit" has been posted online...

Peter Jackson is an amazing film maker. He also seems to get what it is about selling a film and marketing it to a 21st century audience. He understands what Guillermo del Toro calls "Transmedia." This is one of four or five films that I eagerly await next year. I look forward to each new video that lets you inside this world of magical opportunities.

I hope you do as well...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Name Recognition...

Remember, only Paul Pressler can start a theme park disaster...









Many have noticed that the sign for DCA's Hollywood Pictures Backlot was taken down earlier in the week...

Yes, before long the branding of the area will move over to its new name, Hollywood Land. Signage and the Red Car Line will be the majority of the changes for next couple of years. We'll have to wait for a few years before the rest of the area steps back into the Golden Age of Film (40's).

And speaking of the Golden Age, HPB isn't the only place getting a name change. Maybe it's better if I say Golden State instead of Age. Because when the Second Gate is rebranded, the GRR and surrounding area won't be known as GS anymore. The new name will be "Grizzly Peak National Park" for anyone entering the area from Condor Flats to right before you step into the Pier.

As we've mentioned before, the area around the Grizzly River Run is going through a gradual transformation that will evolve over the next few years. The mistakes of the park were less dramatic here and the need to have a large scale project is also unnecessary as well. We have known that the wooden area of the park was going to slowly remove the modern elements in return for a 50's national park atmosphere, most didn't realize the name would become part of that as well. Slowly, the second park becomes a destination, not a delusion.

And that is a good thing...

Openings & Opportunities...


We've all been wondering exactly when the Tokyo Disney Resort would be reopening...

Well, today the Oriental Land Company released this:

Reopening Date: April 15, 2011
Operating Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Ticket Prices: Regular prices

- For each guest admitted to the Park through May 14, 2011, 300 yen will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society toward the relief and recovery of the disaster-affected areas.

Other: The operating conditions of the Park may change without prior notice depending on the situation of the power supply at the time. Also, some facilities may be temporarily closed for regular inspections or for minor earthquake-related repairs.
Power-Saving Efforts
A number of efforts are being made to conserve electricity in the Disney theme park operations, as follows:

Shortened Park Operating Hours:
Usually at this period of the year, the Parks are open until 10:00 p.m. However, in an effort to save power, Tokyo Disneyland will close at 6:00 p.m. for the time being.

Reducing the Use of Park Equipment:
Indoor and outdoor lighting in the Park will be reduced, but without compromising the safety of our guests. Also, the use of escalators and water fountains will be restricted, the temperature of air conditioning units will be adjusted, and electric hand dryers in the restrooms will be turned off.
Conservation Efforts in the Offices:
Efforts are being made in the back offices to conserve energy, such as reducing lighting in the
offices, lobbies and corridors; adjusting the temperature of air conditioning units; suspending the use of electric hand dryers in the restrooms; limiting the use of elevators, etc.
Implementation of generators is currently being studied as one measure to cover possible power shortages.

Other Facilities in Tokyo Disney Resort
Tokyo DisneySea Park
The Park is ready to welcome guests, and is aiming for reopening at the earliest possible date.

Disney Hotels

Disney Ambassador® Hotel and Tokyo Disneyland® Hotel will reopen on April 15. With the
reopening, both hotels will donate 1,000 yen per room per night of stay through May 14 to the
Japanese Red Cross Society for the relief and recovery of the disaster-affected areas. Tokyo
DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta® is scheduled to reopen at the same time as Tokyo DisneySea Park.

Ikspiari®

Ikspiari has been open since March 28 with shortened operating hours.
Cirque du Soleil® Theatre Tokyo Shows will begin again on April 23.

Disney Resort Line

The monorail has been in operation since April 2 under a reduced operating schedule.

Note: Tokyo Disney Resort recommends that guests use public transportation to come to the Resort.


Slowly, this great destination will rise from the tragedy of last month...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Kneel Before Zod...

Kneel before me, son of Jor-El...


Well it appears that the new Superman film has an official title and a villain...

The film will be called, wait for it: "Man of Steel." For sometime people have wondered what it would be known as and some have referred to it as "Superman: Man of Steel." Personally, I love the title and am glad they didn't put Supes name in front of it. I mean, would they really have needed "Batman: The Dark Knight" to make sure everyone knew what that particular film was about?

Of course, the other news is that the villain will be General Zod himself and he will be played by Michael Shannon. A great addition to the cast. So far, it appears that this film is going to be filled with some fine acting talent. I can't wait to see the first shot of the new Superman suit. I hope that Goyer has put together a great script, because as much as I love Snyder's films, he's a man of visuals and needs a firm foundation in script form. Sucker Punch clearly proved that. I'm just wondering if I were to get a copy of the script would I read it. That's a tough one.

Hmmmmm...

Here is the official press release:

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures announced today that Michael Shannon will star in the role of General Zod in director Zack Snyder’s new Superman film, titled “Man of Steel.”

Snyder stated, “Zod is not only one of Superman’s most formidable enemies, but one of the most significant because he has insights into Superman that others don’t. Michael is a powerful actor who can project both the intelligence and the malice of the character, making him perfect for the role.”

As General Zod, Shannon will go toe-to-toe with Henry Cavill, who plays the new Clark Kent/Superman in the film. The main cast also includes Amy Adams as Lois Lane, and Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as Martha and Jonathan Kent.

Michael Shannon was honored with an Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Sam Mendes’ “Revolutionary Road,” with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Shannon was most recently seen in the award-winning HBO drama series “Boardwalk Empire,” from executive producer Martin Scorsese. He will next be seen in Sony Pictures Classics’, “Take Shelter,” from director/writer Jeff Nichols.

Charles Roven, Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Deborah Snyder are the producers of the film. The screenplay is being written by David S. Goyer based on a story by Goyer and Nolan. Thomas Tull and Lloyd Phillips are serving as executive producers.

“Man of Steel” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Shanghai Spectical...


Slowly over the next few months, many more details will emerge...

As for now, there is very little to see as the Mouse has kept its cards close to the vest in regards to the Shanghai Disney Resort. But for those of you that want to see a more detailed version of the opening ceremony, here it is. Along with an interview with Bob Iger.

I'm sure the Magic will slowly roll out over the next few years...

Hat Tip to Disney and More.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Vintage Cars...

Vrrrrrm, vrrrrrrm, vrrrrrrm...






I love how Pixar puts out posters that enhance the atmosphere of the world their films are in...




Here are three new vintage-style posters for the new "Cars 2" film. The marketing of this film is moving forward with an every increasing force and it's good to know that there is an artsy side to this. Posters are a great reflection on a film in and of itself. Just like the "Ratatouille" posters or the one sheet marketing campaign of "Toy Story 3," the designs for this further adventure into a world of mechanical hearts is clever. But it's the Lamp, right?

Let's hope the film itself is just as entertaining...

Hat Tip to Cinematical for the pics.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Phased Too...

It won't be Golden Master for a decade...





As the Extreme Makeover picks up speed and noticeable improvement become more evident, it's time to softly unpack the future...

Ok, once again Blue Sky is here to add a little perspective laying out the (possible) terrain ahead. We're around a year and a half from the completion of Phase One of the EM and I thought we'd examine where some of the possible projects could/would be and when they could/would get done. As usual, this is a general outline, not something set in stone. Time tables can change and project status as well as choice of those projects may be altered. But this will hopefully reveal the topography of the broadening, bright future for Anaheim's Second Gate.

When the fall of 2012 comes to the Disneyland Resort, the park and resort will be dramatically different than they looked a decade ago. Like I've said before, the resort will actually be a resort. Certainly not near as big as Walt Disney World, but at least it will be the beginnings of a full resort and the "Spare Park" as some derogatorily call it, will finally be a Disney Park.

With the elaborately detailed and richly themed Buena Vista Street entrance welcoming guest through the turnstiles, it will be a much different experience for someone stepping foot in the park come the end of summer next year. That said, there will still be several areas that will/could provide ample opportunity for expansion or retheming. Translation: there is still work to be done, just not nearly as much and not necessarily as extreme!

There are four major areas for address:

1 - The majority of Hollywood Land (the former Hollywood Back Lot) will still be awaiting the majority of its transformation to a Forties (40's) makeover. While the Red Car Line will be working and the Disney Theater will reflect the coming atmosphere, the retheming of several areas along the walkways as well as the side and proposed enclosed entrance of the Hyperion Theater have yet to reflect the new period look. Also there are two stage areas ripe for expansion of attractions and a desire to update the current Muppets building. Should you see the new film featuring the characters become a hit, it will most likely stay within what was the opening theme, but likely updated to reflect the latest addition of this franchise.

2 - The area between Cars Land and transitioning from the Tower of Terror is available for the expansion of Hollywood Land or the increasing of valuable real estate in Radiator Springs. No decision has been made as to what will be put there or which combination of attractions will result. The exposed power lines on that side of the Cadillac Mountain Range offers the opportunity for more rock work to alter that skyline and reduce the remaining bad show. While the other side could offer viewpoints that better transition from the Tinsel Town facades (My own suggestion: Hollywood hills with the historic sign on one side/desert clifts that blend in to the mountainous rage on the other side.).

3 - The Golden State will start to occupy and transform the small Condor Flats area of the park over the coming years. With the opening of Cars Land, there really is no need for two desert themed area. This location, like the Grizzly River Run section, will receive a gradual makeover as elements are transitioned toward the early Fifties (50's) period that the Imagineers want the national park to project. The Red Creek Challenge Trail will likely receive retheming inspired by the Pixar film "Up" as the trail will be recast to reflect Russell's Wilderness Explorers.

The Paradise Pier area will need to be completed in the second phase of construction during the remaining decade. This is the largest area that will need to be rethemed. It will also be the most noticeable of all projects, as it takes up a much larger footprint than the other areas due for alteration. These projects will have the most visible footprint to the current expansion, so expect it to come in phases as construction would be approved.

4 - The temporary garden that has replaced the Maliboomer is a place holdover project for a 3-5 year time frame. The current and very embryonic thinking is that this area will be turned into the entrance for another E or D+ Ticket, which will most likely be built behind the Screamin' roller coaster which is currently occupied by the parade building.

The Goofy's Sky School coaster, for all the planning, is still a long term place holder project as well, although a much longer one than the Maliboomer area. Expect this area to remain for at least a decade+ as the company decides on what type of E Ticket to place here. Naturally, the theming is planned to match the surrounding areas reflecting a vibrant and roaring part of the early 20th Century.

The stores along the boardwalk are also scheduled to go under the knife around this same time for retheming to the Twenties (20's) period as well as several other elements (removal of those golden fans, retheming of lamp lighting and various, other theming). The Carousel could be expected to be transformed during this period to match the Victorian building of Midway Mania. Hopefully it will look similar to the classic structure that was presented on the model in the Blue Sky Cellar a year ago. The Screamin' queue building, line as well as the attraction itself are in need of a more focused retheming also. The transition of the queue building to something along the lines of the proposed fun house will likely be one of several options. And it's not the only location in need of some redressing along the boardwalk. The queue line for the Fun Wheel will hopefully get some variation of the beautiful covered structure that was abandoned during the design phase (my own hope's here) to replace the cheap tarps that were put back in place after the transformation from Sun to Fun.

The area featuring Ariel's Grotto is supposedly scheduled to be transformed into a Princess Palace (that name is not confirmed as the final choice, btw) and the stores are supposed to get a Neo-Victorian appearance as well to match the buildings across the pier on both sides (Mania and Mermaid).

Let me be clear that none of these areas have received an official green light, but that it is thought that these areas would be the focus of any expansion over the next decade. There are several proposals that WDI has available, but nothing is in an advanced state of planning for these areas right now until the first part of construction is finished. Once done, if the attendance levels that Iger and the Burbank/Anaheim Suits are expecting reach acceptable targets; Imagineers are hopeful that an expansion could start by 2013 or 2014 at the earliest.

Until the end of next year we will have to wait and see as the company examines the fruit of its labor in DCA's reimagining. Should attendance/merchandise/hotel bookings reflect well from all this planning, you can expect a second phase to move forward at a much faster pace.

Time will tell...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Key To The Kingdom...


Tomorrow we'll finally get a better look at what will become the sixth kingdom in the Mouse's empire...

While I've had a little information about this park, it has for the most park gone on with most of us in the dark. The Suits have done a remarkable job of keeping the Bothans in line on this. Being as this is Iger's first stab at a park, much less "Magic-Kingdom" style park, it'll be interesting where his taste and business are on this. For the most part for the last five years, he's played janitor to Eisner's messes. I don't know exactly how much info will be laid out for us, but we should certainly get a better idea of what the resort/park will look like and exactly when it'll be open. An exciting and nervous time as we await the announcement.

Developing...

UPDATE: The Disney Parks Blog has been updated from the announcement with a post by Tom Staggs and three pieces of concept art.

UPDATE 2: Here is a video of the start of the groundbreaking.

UPDATE 3: The parks website has gone live.

A bit more info for you -

The castle will be the largest of all six Magic Kingdom styled parks and will be known as "Storybook Castle."

As we mentioned quite a while ago, there will be no Main Street, but instead an 11 acre collection of lavish parks that feature various meet-and-greet spots with classic Disney characters.

Several attractions related to Chinese culture and myth will be woven into and around classic Disney attractions.

Many Disney properties will be featured throughout the resort that are current in the companies film catalog: Think branding, like "Pirates of the Caribbean," ect.

The Adventureland/Frontierland area has a very DisneySEA feel to it with lush theming and extravagant design.

The park has a very international atmosphere about it with several EPCOT type inspirations.

References to Disney history are integrated into everything to introduce Chines audiences to Disney since the majority of Chinese are unfamiliar with most of what the park/resort has had to offer due to the isolation of Chinese people and the protectionist attitudes of the local, provincial and state Chinese governments.

Two hotels featuring over 1220 rooms. One will be a deluxe hotel similar to the Disneyland Paris Hotel, most likely known as the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and the other will be a value hotel, like the Paradise Pier Hotel only with much better theming.

A large lagoon with watercraft on a classic harbor destination. The resort will be surrounded by a man-made river and the park itself will feature several more acres of ponds, streams, fountains as the importance of water to the Chinese will be played up compared to previous resorts.

A Downtown Disney type entertainment/dining/shopping concept that hasn't been named... yet.

This first phase of the resort (3.9 square kilometers or 963 acres), costing an estimated $3.7 billion dollars for the park/$700 million for hotels, will open in late 2015/early 2016. A great deal more information is available on the resort's fact sheet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

OpTRONs...

Can't tell a play without a program...







So today is a day all you programs have waited for...



There is still no green light for the sequel, but plans are cautiously moving forward. If you know anything about Hollywood then you'll understand that this is not a ringing signal that the project is a go. But if you want to help tip the scales then today is the day to do that.



While the film will finish with over $400 million dollars at the box office, it doesn't mean we'll see TR3N anytime soon. But Suits are going to be watching the sales figures from the release of DVD's/Blu-Ray's and the various film incarnations that are available as of today.



From what I'm hearing, a definite go for the threequel will only come if financial figures from the film's home release are high enough to justify the cost of a third film. So if you want it to happen it's partially within your power. Buy one, buy two and give it to a friend.



Press play and watch what will happen...






Deposit another quarter please...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Reboot Bumped Up...

Not just a reboot of ralph...


Well, it looks like 2012 isn't going to be as bleak for Walt Disney Animation Studios as we thought...

I'm sure you've seen the news, about the Lamp's schedule change? The sequel/prequel to "Monsters' Inc." now given a name: "Monster University," will get delayed and pushed into the next year.

It will now come out on June 21st 2013. Which may sound like sad news, but the good news is that WDAS's "Reboot Ralph" is ahead of its March 22nd, 2013 scheduled opening, and the Mouse has decided to move it up to fill the hole. So 2012 will not actually be the blank space for the Hat Building that we were expecting.

This could present the possibility of a 2013 release of Chris Williams' "King of the Elves" if the stars align...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Agreement...

To all who come...










Fifty-seven years ago today, Walt Disney Productions and the American Broadcasting Company make it official...

They sign agreement for Walt Disney to build his dream project that will become known as the theme park. In exchange for this, Walt gets an advancement of funding and guarantee of loans, while the new network gets a weekly television show, part ownership in the risky venture and all concessions sold at the park for the first decade.

As usual, the world is skeptical of Disney's gamble...

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Planting Of The Tree...


Thirty-five years ago today, the seed that became Apple Inc. was born...

Started famously, in a small garage by two Steves, Wozniak and Jobs, it grew from a small business that turned a computer into something anyone could use, to a revolutionary computer named after an apple, to a fading niche player, to the phoenix-like rebirth with the return of Jobs. It's hard to believe that it's now the second most valued company in the world and that it's revenue will come close to IBM's this year, and possibly Hewlett-Parkard's next; moving toward being a $200 billion dollar a year company by the end of next year. Wow. A lot has happened since the time those programmers in Palo Alto showed Steve that little hobby they were working on called a GUI.

Disney's largest shareholder helped create a little fruit company with a very big shadow...

The Fading Of A Star, The Rising Of A Lamp...

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!





I feared this would happen, but thought that the success of "Tangled" would have prevented it...

Apparently not.

Due to the continuing contraction of the economy and the Walt Disney Company's desire to restrain spending, cost cutting has finally entered the fabled heart of all that is Disney: Animation. The Hat Building is going to be closing. Pixar Animation Studios will be renamed Disney Animation Studios as the Burbank branch is closed and all animated features will be done from Northern California in Emeryville...

Slowly, over the next year the brand will be called Disney Pixar Animation Studious while the transition goes through and withing 36 months the naming will be known as Disney Animation Studios. In a statement released to the public, Iger mentioned that: "the resulting consolidation will inevitably result in layoffs, but the exact figure has yet to be determined. We hope to make the transition of all animation duties to our Emeryville campus as painless as possible, and will work to help those employees affected by the restructuring." A full break down of the entire plan would be forthcoming in the next few weeks, as the company transitioned into this current cost cutting phase before the ending of the final 2011 quarter.

I don't know what to say about this, I've never really thought that something like this would ever happen. The only think I can think to console anyone is...


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