Tuesday, 6th February 2007

Casa Della Tires and more from Radiator Springs

Last week press photos revealed the life-size Luigi soon to be arriving in the Studios, and now we can see how the Imagineers are preparing his beloved House of Tires in Toon Studio. Three decorative tires have appeared atop the Mediterannean-styled building, wrapped in plastic for protection until the basic themeing surround them is complete.

Next to Casa Della Tires, two more facades are in preparation from the world of Radiator Springs. Though they can’t be pinned down exactly yet, the larger central storefront seems to belong to Lizzie’s Radiator Springs Curios, whilst the smaller facade to its right is harder to distinguish – is there a slight resemblance to the Radiator Springs Traffic Court, perhaps?

On the ride itself, progress has been made with the installation of the ride’s main control booth, seen in the final photo below. Nestled between the two boarding areas in the canopy of Flo’s V8 Café, it appears to feature a turquoise and cream colour scheme similar, perhaps, to Flo herself.

Whilst the past few weeks has seen the ride area filled with more scaffolding, both around the V8 Café canopy, on the miniaturised Willy’s Butte rock formation and in the foundations of the turntables themselves, La Rouquine at Disney Central Plaza forum today reports that work has started on installing the technical elements of the ride system in the two pairs of concrete platforms. The metal canopy for Flo’s V8 Café has received the first spots of turquoise paint similar to the control booth below, and, despite appearing to be complete, the rock formation continues to be wrapped in more scaffolding and tarps.

“More than 2000 miles all the way”… the finish line is still a long stretch away!

All construction photos by Photos Magiques. You can see more here.

Monday, 29th January 2007

Turtles, Cars and two fabulous dresses

We begin with Imagineer Beth Clapperton, who poses next to one the turtle shell ride vehicles from Crush’s Coaster in Toon Studio, holding plans to the entire track layout. The turtle shell follows all the usual standards of a Maurer Söhne Xtended SC-2000 car, with four seats back-to-back in rows of two. However, the car has also been extensively customised by the Disney Imagineers, extending the front and sides to perfectly resemble a turtle shell, with an incredible level of detail compared to other Disney ride vehicles.

The photo appears to have been taken on the break-run of the attraction’s “coaster” section, likely sometime in mid-2006 since the building does not appear to be fully enclosed. It also seems restraints and seat backs had yet to be fitted to the first vehicle at this point.

Next up, we move across to Cars Race Rally and into the backstage workshops of Walt Disney Imagineering, where a life-size Luigi is being crafted by hand for the upcoming attraction. Also sporting an exceptional level of detail, Luigi is due to appear at the Casa Della Tires photo location near the attraction’s entrance (see the map here), similar to the Mike Wazowski and CDA figures at the Monsters Inc Scream Scene location.

As you can see from the photo, it luckily seems that the resort have been given the rights to use the badge of this 1959 Fiat 500 on the real-life reproduction itself. Guido, Luigi’s forklift sidekick, is also expected to appear at the finished attraction, marking the first time these characters have been created in life-size 3D form.

Finally, the series of photos take us into the colourful Costuming Workshop at the ImagiNations building, backstage at Walt Disney Studios, for a glimpse at two stunning new dresses created exclusively for Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade. The dresses featured are Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, and the “one that started it all”, Snow White.

Along with rich, glistening fabrics and remarkable attention to detail, the dresses have been peppered with beautiful gold-laced leaves, petals and flowers (roses for Belle), allowing them to match perfectly with the garden-themed “Dreams of Romance” finale float where they will be featured. This is the first time such a high level of customisation has been used to allow the dresses to match their floats.

Sumptuous dresses, detailed props and “turtally” unique ride vehicles, all oozing Disney quality… as if the 15th Anniversary wasn’t an exciting enough prospect already!

All photos © Disney, courtesy of WDSfans.com and PhotosMagiques.com!

Monday, 8th January 2007

Building and illuminating three new attractions

Article 4 is a quick look at the two main construction sites at Walt Disney Studios Park, whilst article 5 is perhaps more interesting – a look at the lighting design of the new attractions, in particular Cars Race Rally. Lighting engineer Tracy Eck confirms the small Radiator Springs reproduction will feature “lots of neons”, just as in the Pixar film.

It should be noted that the Tower of Terror story described in article 4 is incorrect – there is no fire, although the pre-show video does show a family entering the Twilight Zone. You can find the true story here.

Series: Backstage at Disneyland Paris (4/5)

Three new attractions this year

To celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris, the park’s teams at Marne-la-Vallée (Seine et Marne) are assembling themselves ready.

For the 15th Anniversary, there are three names to remember. Cars, Nemo and Tower of Terror. The three names of the new attractions of Disney. Confirmed in 2004 as the gifts of a relaunch of the resort, the first two will be unveiled in June with the final following in late 2007 or early 2008. Construction is in progress, and, with Roland Kleve as our guide, we have exceptionally been able to visit two. For more than a year, this tall 43-year old Dutch man has coordinated the works, which requires knowing scores of companies inside and out.

“TOT” as the specialists on the project say (the attraction already exists in the US and Japan), promises some truly strong sensations. “In 1939, this grand hotel was hit by a lightning bolt” recounts Roland, whilst climbing the steps of the 57m high tower. “There was a fire on the 13th floor and a family remains trapped.” Guests are invited to step into one of three elevators. Possessed elevators. “In the US, we built it in metal, but in France this is not allowed” assures Roland. “A blow, since to pour the concrete structure, we had to keep going for 45 days without stopping” he bellows, himself amazed.

Several metres away, behind tall construction walls, a self-contained world is in the process of being made inside the Studios, the second park opened by Mickey for his tenth anniversary in France. Here we find a first, developed especially for France. Crush’s Coaster, from the world of Finding Nemo. Developed with Pixar Animation Studios thanks to a computer generated simulation, it promises to match the love for Space Mountain. “It’s a small roller coaster which hides countless surprises” announces Roland with his particular style. Seated in the shell of a turtle, we pass by coral before diving into the blackness of the ocean, where familiar fish lead you to places where undersea monters lie in wait amongst the wrecks. At the half-way point, the shell begins to spin on itself when, right ahead… drop! This is the key to the ride, and won’t be revealed!

Article: Julie Cloris, Translation: DLRP Today, Scan: Narindra, DCP forum
Series: Backstage at Disneyland Paris (5/5)

She illuminates the world of Mickey

For the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris, which will be celebrated from 1st April 2007, today we conclude our series of profiles on those who, in the shadows, are preparing the festivities.

If there was a department happy with the thick cloud that regularly covers the sky over the theme park resort, this has to be the one. Tracy Eck is responsible for lighting design at Disneyland Paris, in particular one of those who will “theatricalise” the three new attractions inaugerated this year: Crush’s Coaster, Tower of Terror (see the previous article), and Cars. Unlike the themeing, which can be hidden by a grey blanket, thick fogs can be the accomplice of a lighting designer. “They define the lights” smiles the 45-year old American, educated at the Théâtre national de Strasbourg. “In fog, an illuminated neon produces an immediate effect. The only thing which annoys me is when it reveals a beam of light we tried to hide.”

“The most effective and economical lighting possible”

Being a lighting engineer at Disneyland Paris is equivalent almost to being a magician. To have the result without revealing the illusion. Of the 2,500 points of lighting being installed, two thirds will be invisible. For Crush’s Coaster, spotlights, bulbs and filters will go to recreate bubbles and swirls. The auto racecourse of Cars presents the difficulty of being entirely outside. Drawn from the success of the eponymous Pixar Studios, it is in the process of being constructed amongst rocks coloured with hot, ochre tones. “Cars is a gift to light,” exlaims Tracy. “We have specially conceived two large lights, and there will be lots of neons. Radiator Springs has all the charm of the time when Route 66 made dreams. It was the first time you could go from Chicago, my home town, to the West coast of the United States.”

To create this atmosphere, as well as the Art Deco walls lights and chandliers which decorate the interior of the Tower of Terror, Tracy spent nine months in California. “The majority of our materials are European, but some products are coming from the United States. We exchange a huge amount of information, and our data bank is communal for all the Disney parks. We work on the main design, making sure it fits with the time period, and then we study the lighting which will be the most effective yet the most economical.” With 300,000 lighting points, of which 100,000 for parades, they can’t have the bulbs burning out every two months!

Article: Julie Cloris, Translation: DLRP Today, Scan: Narindra, DCP forum

Tuesday, 2nd January 2007

Opening dates and extra greenery

The first conifer next to Willy’s Butte rock formation confirms the realistic Mid-West North American desert theme of the movie-based attraction, and marks a drastic departure from the tropical palms shared by Crush’s Coaster and Flying Carpets. A second tree in front of Crush’s Coaster is waiting to be planted, though it has to be asked how these full-size trees will affect the miniturised scale and forced perspective of Willy’s Butte.

The bright, blue rockwork of Crush, recently uncovered from its scaffolding wrapping, still invites the attention of guests from as far away as Walt Disney Television Studios. As you near the rockwork (or zoom in with a camera), however, the true detail really appears, with authentic coral formations and shapes hidden throughout the faux frontage.

From aboard Flying Carpets, the huge amount of palms surrounding the queue and exit paths has begun to restrict views much more. Through the leafy greenery, however, you can spot progress on the paths around the area and a new protective covering over the soil of the planters. The path around the front of the rockwork will actually be separated from the rockwork itself, meaning guests will not be able to lean or climb on the scenery – or see the track of the spinning rollercoaster just several centimetres lower.

At Cars Race Rally, window frames in the entrance building have appeared. A full colour layout plan of the upcoming attraction was recently added to the DLRP Magic preview.

And finally, a perfect New Year gift – confirmation of the opening and soft opening dates of the two new attractions (and therefore the area as a whole). Revealed first by Walt Disney Studios tribute website WDSFans.com, previews of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally will take place from 31st May to 8th June 2007. It is not yet clear whether these are full Soft Openings for all guests or restricted previews only for Annual Passholders and Shareholders. Soft openings are a Disney Park tradition, fully opening new attractions to all guests for testing and feedback. Whilst guests visiting during these dates should be lucky enough to experience the new attractions, testing is still ongoing and the rides can be closed for tweaking and maintenance at any time.

And the Grand Opening itself? Latest schedules say Sunday 10th June 2007, leaving the 9th June free for press and VIP previews.

Monday, 18th December 2006

Rocking around the Race Rally

Centre of events has been the giant, teetering canyon rock. Direct from the McQueen and Doc Hudson race scenes in the Disney-Pixar Cars film, the rock has been converted from CGI to reality, becoming a new icon for the future Toon Studio.

Beginning as little more than an unpromising steel and concrete frame on 29th November 2006, by 10th December 2006 the theme element had gained a thin wire mesh frame and a more detailed plaster shell.

The first colour arrived on 13th December, and just four days later on 17th December the main portion of the rock’s themeing was complete. Since the rock is part of a massive, wind-eroded canyon in the film, shrinking the icon down to Toon Studio size obviously took some planning. According to Dlrp.fr, the sculpting was completed by Atelier Artistique du Béton, whose past credits at Disneyland Resort Paris include Catastrophe Canyon and Le Pays de Contes de Fées. This new creation effectively mixes the two together, giving an authentic canyon look with miniturised detail.

Like some elements of Le Pays de Contes de Fées, the rock has been given an ultra-detailed sculpt to suggest it is much larger than it actually is. The small fallen “boulders” near the bottom and the incredible eroded detail of the tallest outcrop will create an optical illusion from the ride area suggesting the rock is larger and more distant from guests than they realise.

From the main entry courtyard of Toon Studio, the current Animation Courtyard, the rock will clearly also provide the classic Imagineering “weenie” effect, pulling guests towards the area and adding interest and colour to this part of the land. Interestingly, the multicoloured backdrop of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah matches the new themeing perfectly, with its purple edge next to the blue rockwork of Crush’s Coaster, it’s orange centre opposite the ochreous rocks of Cars and the final yellow edge next to its own oasis-themed entrance.

Photos by Dlrp.fr and Disneytheque.com

Monday, 27th November 2006

Getting in gear for the Race Rally

Whilst the lonely 1-disc DVD may be a disappointment for Pixar fans, the paper inserts are definitely a surprise for us. Going against their history of missed opportunities with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and others, Disneyland Resort Paris have, for once, got in gear and made sure Cars Race Rally is revved up and ready to go.

The text is as vague as ever about what the attraction actually entails, but featuring the 15th Anniversary branding and a reminder of the Kids Free offer is enough to make this a step – or should that be a drive? – in the right direction.

Whilst we have of course already seen advertisements for the attraction both in the 15th Anniversary Brochure and on the Official Website, this marks the very first 15th Anniversary advertisement outside of the world of Disneyland Resort Paris. It’s good to see they’ve taken advice from the film, and seem just as invested in the road to the 15th as the anniversary itself. With Cars due to be one of the biggest DVDs this Christmas, the Race Rally is certainly off to a rip-roaring start.

Click here for more on the DVD.

Sunday, 19th November 2006

The desert before the Cars & Crush takes shelter

Dude! This Parisian climate is like totally cool, but totally not in a good way for my shell!

As Winter sets in, some welcome shelter has been given to the quickly progressing outside queue for Crush’s Coaster. Much like Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, opened at Disneyland Park earlier this year, Crush will be given an extended outdoor queue in addition to a smaller, highly themed indoor queue space. Unlike Laser Blast, however, this one will thankfully be almost fully covered.

Grandmath at Disney Central Plaza forum has just posted the latest construction photo, showing the new corrugated metal roof. Sure, it doesn’t look glamorous yet, but this is a Hollywood attraction – all the beauty will be on the outside… well, sort of. Preliminary concept sketches showed a queue themed to a dried-up Australian fishing pier (you can see an image of this at WDSFans.com), but, as you can see the concept, the corrugated look is destined to still be there in the final design. Either this will be a way of explaining the attraction is only a filmset, or the fishing pier will be more industrial – the lights drawn on the roof appear similar to those at Armageddon: Special Effects.

The flooring of the queue has also progressed this week, with the outline of the path and some turquoise pieces now visible in the concrete foundations.

There has been a remarkable touch of progress at Cars Race Rally this week. Despite the ride system, vehicles and general attraction area still being a long way from ready, the first real signs of desert themeing have already arrived.

The brick wall WDSFans.com reported being built back in October was later given an extra layer of wire mesh and themed to a sandy desert rockface in a similar way to the rocks at Crush’s Coaster. Now, before the ride itself or any real infrastructure (paths, etc.) arrives, the sandy canyon-side has been given a quick blast of warm ochre red paint.

Grandmath again presents the first photos, which show not only how this red colour scheme bounces well off the blue of Crush, but also a large new block of formed concrete next to the attraction. The purpose of this is currently unknown and it does not appear on any plans. Therefore, it is likely to also be a part of the themeing work, perhaps as the base foundation for the further, much higher, canyon hills to be placed on this spot.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that the recently installed arabian-style lampposts around the new Flying Carpets Over Agrabah oasis have been packaged up in a protective plastic coat, suggesting that the construction fences around this area won’t be receding anytime soon.

News originally posted by WDSFans.com, all photos by Grandmath.

Thursday, 9th November 2006

One week at Toon Studio (Part 2)

Sunday, 5th November 2006

A well-timed end to Disneyland Park’s Halloween season, the fog lasted all day on Sunday and gave some interesting views of Toon Studio, especially with Tower of Terror fading into the distance. In the first photo you can see two openings in the rockwork – one for the coaster and one for the attraction’s exit.

Monday, 6th November 2006

After a slow week during French holidays, Monday saw the fog lift and the first few pieces of scaffolding on the Studio 5 façade disappear as construction picked up at full speed again. The new colour scheme of Art of Disney Animation certainly separates the area from the rest of the park, and with the slightly whimsical design of Studio 5 next to the Sorcerer Hat – finally a true Disney feel.

Tuesday, 7th November 2006

Yesterday’s action was only a prelude to today, it seems. All the scaffolding on the front of Studio 5 was gone at park opening, giving us a glimpse at the final “look” of the attraction and a better view at the detail of our new soundstage.

Notice the shadow under the rim and plaque of Studio 5 above? It adds some good depth and distinction to the building’s features, and it’s actually just an Imagineering trick. The first one of the project so far? Hopefully the first of many.

On board the Carpets, the wise placement of Cars Race Rally stands out again now that the foundations and boarding canopy are complete. The attraction faces directly to Flying Carpets, whilst a tall canyon-themed berm around the back will shelter the entire area from the 2002 Animation Courtyard area.

And what of that 2002 Animation Courtyard area? The area that is supposed to currently be enjoying a full placemaking enhancement project? Nothing much to report, i’m afraid. Whilst a gap in the fences at Disney Studio 1 reveals the large amount of new trees are infact already planted, a look over and under the two sets of fences shows there’s still a lot of work to be done. During the week, the only changes here were a few plastic tubes being layed around the trees and moved around.

Whilst what appears to be a new maintenance ladder was lowered into place during the afternoon, the construction workers seemed to be enjoying their job – climbing up, over and around the rockwork, some of which (the finished section near the front) has now been covered in protective tarps.

And so there you have it – one week at Toon Studio, from all across the park and through sun, fog and darkness. There are still seven months to go until the official opening, but already the new studio is making its mark and a huge impact on the park. As every other guest stops to look at the concept art on the construction walls, we can only hope they’ll return to experience it for real… only 30 weeks to go!

Thursday, 9th November 2006

One week at Toon Studio (Part 1)

Bright blue skies one day, fog the next. Thousands of local French guests one day, scores of Brits the next. At Toon Studio, you see painting here, painting there, and endless games of scaffolding moving around all over the place. With more time, you can also appreciate more how the new construction fits into the park, such as from the arena of Moteurs Action or the backlot route of Studio Tram Tour…

Wednesday, 1st November 2006

Where else to begin than with that obligatory shot over the Art of Disney Animation fence? We have a lot to thank emergency exits for. Three trees have already been planted next to the dark ride building of Crush’s Coaster, and you can see even the metal surround waiting to be added.

Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, on the other hand, has an added advantage to its short waiting times compared to Dumbo next door – a great view over the construction site. Last week, the metal framework of the attraction’s outdoor queue canopy was added, which will eventually be themed to a fishing pier, with guests queueing underneath on the dried-up seabed.

Looking across to Art of Disney, you can see not only the new Arabian lamposts (similar but certainly not identical to Adventureland’s) but also the queue buildings and boarding area canopy of Cars Race Rally, which faces directly towards the Flying Carpets to create a reassuringly designed space.

Thursday, 2nd November 2006

No changes today, but a funny look towards Toon Studio from Disney Bros. Plaza to celebrate the Art of Disney Construction Fences. The time change earlier in the week also allows us to finally get a good view of Toon Studio in the dark.

Friday, 3rd November 2006

Before you even enter the park, the new construction is very noticable. And I don’t mean Tower of Terror – Studio 5’s height and vibrant blue colour really attracts your attention from the resort hub.

Inside the park, finishing touches were being made to the paintwork on Studio 5’s façade, whilst the deserted (no pun intended) Flying Carpets, hidden behind the sea of construction walls, are probably hoping more popular times are ahead.

The changing colours of Art of Disney Animation will be featured in an article all of its own, but for now this new unifying Toon colour scheme is already working well. From the top of the Moteurs… Action! arena, Studio 5 is a new icon on the surprisingly impressive Walt Disney Studios skyline.

Jumping onboard Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic, fans can now ignore Jeremy Iron’s increasingly frigid commentary and instead enjoy panoramic views from the lesser-seen side of Toon Studio. The left-hand side wall of Studio 5 was being painted last week and is now complete, leaving only the back wall of the coaster building without paint.

After enjoying Jeremy Irons in a jester outfit, the tram pulls out of costuming to give guests a great view of the new queue buildings for Cars. The curved façade is likely Luigi and Guido’s store, whilst the circular building is the entrance to Doc Hudson’s new driving school, with the large metal pole eventually holding a huge 3D neon version of the Cars logo high into the air – another new icon for the park. Back at the fan-favourite view, and some of the scaffolding and tarp on the rockwork has been removed to reveal over half is now painted in the final, deep blue colour.

Monday, 16th October 2006

Ever more Toon Studio updates

First, an up-close look at the new queue buildings for Cars Race Rally. Disney Central Plaza forum moderator Grandmath posted new photos today showing the current status of Toon Studio, including one shot from Art of Disney Animation towards the future Cars attraction that gives a good close-up view of progress here (photo 2).

The section of this series of buildings seen above is the circular main entrance and the long, thin, double-back section. You can see the circular centre of the entrance above, as well as the tall metal structure already in place to hold the large “Cars” logo seen on concept art. The thin rectangular building extending from this into the distance will also feature a “storefront” with Guido and Luigi, likely where the curved section of concrete can be seen extending from the building.

The thin metal supports in the foreground of the picture are for the queue section just before the boarding pens, which will be themed to Flo’s V8 Café.

Over at Crush’s Coaster, the side wall of the coaster building is now totally blue, whilst the dark ride section has been given a tester strip of blue paint along its rim. Blue paint has also recently spread to Art of Disney Animation. La Rouquine on Disney Central Plaza forum reported a few days ago that the section of this large building nearest Studio Tram Tour, including the tall toilets building at the rear, has been given a new coat of paint to welcome it into the new Toon Studio. It remains to be seen where else in the existing land will be given a spot of blue paint, such as Animagique or the remaining sections of Art of Disney.

Finally, WDS Fans confirmed some interesting new details about Crush’s Coaster yesterday. It appears that although the coaster section of the ride is an “off-the-shelf” design by its manufacturer Maurer Söhne, the track has been tweaked at almost every turn by the Imagineers and designers, to make sure it perfectly fulfills the requirements of their design. Whilst most of the changes to this section won’t be noticed by guests, one major change has been confirmed. Unlike normal models of this roller coaster, which feature the “spinning unlock” section (a track section which unlocks the vehicle’s free-spinning design) after the first drop, Crush’s Coaster will feature this section before the drop, giving extra “spin time” as well as a more exciting experience as guests spin whilst swooping down the 40ft drop.

WDS Fans also confirms that the submarine spanning the length of the lift hill will indeed be present, with the Bruce animatronic measuring 4 metres from head to tail!

Photos by Grandmath, Disney Central Plaza. Other images copyright Disney and Maurer Söhne.

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