Monday, 31st March 2008

Tower’s TV, radio ad winners announced

Last month we introduced the immersive new official Disneyland Resort Paris website for the Tower of Terror, which, amongst its thirteen floors of games and previews, presented a unique competition allowing visitors to produce and upload their own amateur commercials for the new attraction.

The competition launched on 21st February with TV promotions across MTV channels in the UK leading people to the official website. Then, between 8th and 12th March, visitors had the chance to choose from the editors’ pick of the best submissions in both the television and radio category. The eventual winners would win a VIP trip to Disneyland Resort Paris to ride the attraction itself and see their advertisement remade by professionals — the eventual production then appearing on TV and radio networks as the final commercial for the all-important thrill attraction.

Competition at

So, with votes counted and winners announced, who — or rather, what — will be helping to launch the resort’s € 180 million investment in the UK?

In the UK, the winning TV advert is entitled “The Long Walk“. It’s a suspenseful, dark clip remaining faithful to the attraction’s storyline and location, following the footsteps of an elegant young woman. The camera follows her heels toward the hotel, then panning upwards to show the Hollywood Tower itself as she checks in. Upon boarding the elevator, naturally it drops, and we then see a feather from the woman’s hat floating gently down the elevator shaft as the attraction logo appears. You can watch the amateur version here.

The winning TV advert concept

For radio, the winner was “I Wouldn’t Mind a Drop…“, just beating a clip starring Mickey and Goofy. The script follows a young man entering the lift of The Hollywood Tower Hotel on a hot day, making the mistake of accepting the bellhop’s offer of a drink with “Yes, I wouldn’t mind a drop…”. The author of the clip recently posted several messages on magicforum. You can listed to the clip here.

The final, professional clips will be made available on the website from 5th April and should be seen across MTV channels and heard across The One Network local radio stations from next week.

Virginie Efira awaits the results of the French competition

In France, famous star of the M6 television network Virginie Efira helped to launch a similar competition for the public to create a commercial, the winner to be announced this Friday, 4th April 2008.

Tuesday, 4th March 2008

Rescue lost souls in new online dimension

They were first seen in 1994, in the legendary pre-show video for Walt Disney World’s Tower of Terror. Now, the five souls lost to the fifth dimension have made the same mistake in Paris. All hope is not lost, however, as the final sections of the attraction’s official website have opened to reveal a unique challenge to pluck them from The Twilight Zone. The prize: entry to a prize draw for park hopper tickets.

As revealed in our tour of the new website last week, several new rooms make use of some clever web-Imagineering to bring to life the rest of The Hollywood Tower Hotel. The parts of the hotel you’ve imagined or seen mentioned on the guides next to the elevators, but never seen for real. The five new areas are all found in the upper “floors” of the website, beginning with the Presidential Suite…


Beginning your adventure, a newspaper appears with the rules of the game and your objective. First: find the lost actress. The photos of the five missing souls can be seen in the top-left of the screen. They’re all played by new actors, not those in the attraction’s pre-show video or ghostly corridor scene, but great care has been taken to ensure they match those seen wandering the Walt Disney Studios Park hotel itself.


The bellhop makes an appearance in each new location. In the Presidential Suite, dressed in luxurious fabrics with a large bed and atmospheric lighting, he appears just briefly before lightning shoots through the windows and the room is thrown into darkness…


You’re left alone with the bellhop and a candle, which you then have to wave around the darkened room to find the translucent missing Actress.


Find her, and another newspaper pops up as her photograph comes to life in colour, the actress smiling at having been pulled from the fifth dimension. Click “next” on the newspaper and you’re taken straight to the next new location…


The “Makeover Room”, where the bellhop appears to spend much of his spare time. Well, how would he get those muscles pushing elevator buttons? You’re looking for the dashing Actor amongst the antique beauty equipment and exercise bikes here.


The next location is perhaps the most surprising. Who knew an underground railway ran right under The Hollywood Tower Hotel, with its own service elevator access? The ‘Basement‘, strangely located on the 8th floor, is where you’ll find the Housekeeper.


Look out for the passing trains, their designs in-keeping with the period, and the advertisements for the hotel along the platform. It’s worth noting that you get only 30 seconds — and one appearance — to click on each ghost and retrieve them from The Twilight Zone. Miss your chance, and the bellhop suffers. At the underground station, he’s taken up into a bright white light.


The most familiar view is the Central Corridor, which the camera quickly moves along, passing several bellhops and luggage trolleys along the way, as you search for the Little Girl.


Finally, the Games Room is similar to the hotel’s lobby, with ghosts appearing and reappearing at their tables to check their bingo numbers against those called by the bellhop. You can spot the five missing souls here…


…and even see the Housekeeper win a game!


Miss your chance to click on the final missing soul, the Former Bellboy, though, and the entire room — the entire website — collapses on one side, lights leaning to the left and furniture sliding to the side of the room! You’re then taken back to the Lobby, where you can revisit the room for another chance to complete the game.

Once you’re done, submit your details for a chance to win some free park tickets.

Taking visitors deeper into the environment than any Disney website beforehand, the completed site for Paris’ Twilight Zone Tower of Terror not only effectively advertises the thrills, atmosphere and themeing of the new attraction, but builds upon its world. Whilst there’s an obvious limit to how much can — and needs to — be constructed within the ride itself, taking the fictional hotel online has allowed Disneyland Resort Paris to take the concept further than ever before. Now, when guests step inside the real hotel at Walt Disney Studios, they’ll be remembering all of these locations — hidden away, high up in the Tower.

This is Imagineering for the 21st Century.

Sunday, 24th February 2008

Drop in, if you dare – online!

Visitors can access the official website of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror through several different addresses, such as,, or, which all redirect through to the site’s actual location —

The website opens with an aged, 1939 newspaper front page as the language select screen. Versions are already available for France, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain, quite an array compared to past website launches. Named the “Tribune of Terror”, the newspaper’s clever strapline reads “However scary the story, we never let it drop”.


Choose your country and the text on the newspaper immediately changes to the relevant language, with a headline reading “5 People mysteriously vanish from the Hollywood Tower”. Either side, you can see more analysis such as “A new theory on the mystery” along with a story about the premiere of The Wizard of Oz, also in 1939.

The newspaper then morphs into a modern-day 2008 edition, with “The Hollywood Tower Hotel re-opens for business” as its headline. In the masthead, spot an advertisement for “Hotel management school” and a picture of the first Tower of Terror, at Walt Disney World, with the words “Introduction to free fall”. Other headlines on the front page continue their coverage — “Relatives of those who vanished are reunited”, “Retrospective: exhibition of furniture and objects”, “Interview with Burt Umble [spot the pun?], the new owner”.


The animation doesn’t give you too long to read these headlines, however. The page zooms into the lead image — a bleak view of the hotel through twisted gates, taking you through the overgrown gardens and through the entrance doors as lightning cracks overhead. Inside the Lobby, the camera rests on the homepage of the entire site, with the first appearance by our friendly bellhop:


The website is introduced by the bellhop, with various items around the lobby now leading to different floors. Leave the page to run, however, and you’ll see several more clever special effects. Lightning hitting the mirror, the chalkboard turning into a view from the dropping elevator cars, or maybe a ghostly bellhop…

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He’s not the only translucent habitant within the website. A little later, you’ll see a happy couple remarkably similar to that in the attraction’s actual pre-show video, shot more than 14 years ago. The elevator doors in the distance glow green as shrieks and screams echo through the halls from a falling elevator. Finally, the child movie star and her mother — also from the pre-show video — appear to check-in. The girl even still has hold of her doll!

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Let’s hop into the elevator and ride to our first location. As you travel, scenes blur past the screen. Look closely and you might even spot a few false teeth lost in the Twilight Zone!


The second floor is home to the Library (since the website doesn’t follow the “real” layout of the hotel exactly), where a very polished preview video clip appears on screen via the old-fashioned television.


Click ‘Switch Off’, and you see the full library, lit by elegant Tiffany lamps, with the bellhop picking a book up from the floor.


Despite this area being described as “Discover the Tower of Terror”, there isn’t a great deal of information given, or much of an introduction of what actually happens during the ride. Instead, you’re offered just a few pages from the bellhop’s book to build your own thoughts about the Tower. It even features two pieces of real Walt Disney Imagineering concept art, which we’ve featured in the past.


Up on the third floor, a scene from the attraction’s boiler room is used to promote some Jaw-dropping offers.


The offers pop up with a background of the Tower and Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. The font/typeface used throughout the website is particularly well tied with the theme.


The fourth floor is home to the Terror Movie Theatre, one of the website’s most important features. Here, you’ll see MTV presenter Ricky Haywood-Williams in the UK version and famous M6 presenter Virginie Efira for the French version. Following the presenter’s introduction, a movie reel is projected on the screen continuing their explanation of this unique competition, allowing the public to dream up their own commercial for the attraction. (Look out for more on this soon!)


The bellhop won’t take us any higher at the moment, so we take a sudden drop into the Basement, where the second key feature of the website is located. In a boarding hall similar to that in the real attraction, a door opens to invite us to step aboard and experience what’s known as “The Tower of Terror Effect”. What’s that? It’s different for everyone, apparently. It’s whatever happens to you when you take that gravity-defying plunge and momentarily slip into the Twilight Zone.


For the website at least, though, it’s just a fun picture manipulation game, introduced with a special logo across the elevator doors…


When the doors open onto the darkness of the elevator shaft, you’re invited to upload a photo of yourself… or at least someone you’re familiar with. Let’s choose this one…


Position the photo and pick your chosen manipulation effect. Enter a headline and some text, and your friend will soon receive, via email, a customised Tribune of Terror with your frightening “Tower of Terror Efffect” photograph splashed across the front page…


Using the latest Flash technology, not to mention a great deal of care and attention toward the attraction’s theme and story, the website builds once more on the successes of past mini-sites such as Space Mountain: Mountain 2 and the 15th Anniversary, put together by the same external firm.

With their ideas such as video characters interacting with environments now perfected, here is the most impressive website for a Disney attraction anywhere in the world.

But, as you’ll no doubt notice, the online Tower of Terror world is far from complete yet. A noticeboard in the lobby advertises a Guided Tour with such future thrills as a Games Room, Makeover Room and Presidential Suite. Originally advertised for 25th February, the launch date has now changed to 3rd March 2008. With equally beautiful, brand new “sets” and locations built especially for the website, these new areas will add a whole new dimension to The Hollywood Tower Hotel, it’s history and legend.

Tuesday, 11th September 2007

Halloween festival launches to the power of 15

When Stitch joined the Halloween festivities in 2006, it marked a turn towards a more “Disney” and “childish” theme for the festival, with fewer of Disneyland Park‘s unique Pumpkin Men and more classic Disney characters dressed up for trick or treating. This was joined with a shift back to the older Mickey Mouse pumpkin logo for the event rather than the darker, and less “Disney”, 2005 version.

This year, as Halloween goes “to the power of 15”, the logo is very familiar. The Disneyland15 logo has simply been given three simple silhouettes of bats, and for Christmas season the same simple idea will follow. Certainly, one thing the old season logos always missed were the words “Disneyland” and “Paris”


You might have already noticed the logo on the new online advertising banners which officially launched today for Disneyland Resort Paris’ affiliate network…

Halloween banner

Or, failing that, a visit to the official Disneyland Resort Paris website in the past few days will not have allowed you to miss the strong Halloween promotions now going on. In addition to links in the “What’s New?” section and on the sidebar, the actual main logo of the website has been completely altered to take on a Halloween theme. All this, to lead visitors to the brand new Halloween mini-site, now launched at the annual address.

Let’s take a look…

The website is open to an unusual mixture of countries, including Switzerland and Ireland now with
their own sections — Ireland in particular has seen a small surge to the magic recently.

Choosing your country sends Stitch flying towards the Castle, before you find
yourself in a haunted house with Stitch at the door — “trick or treat?”

Opening the front door to the masked creature (is this a good message for children?) sends him
spinning monstrously into the room, before leading you to the Halloween events at Disneyland…

A welcome screen introduces the Halloween events effectively.

The main screen is set in Frontierland, with Stitch climbing into a mine cart. With Main Street filled
with Lumiere’s 15th events, will the Far West become the true Halloween homeland again?

“Create your own scary face” lets you do just that, with a nice silhouette of Big Thunder in the
background. The build of the website is very similar in style to the main 15th Anniversary website, an
equally, if not even more, professional.

The “Halloween Festival” tab leads to general information and photos for the season. Nothing
particularly new is mentioned other than that featured in the recent press release.

The 31st October Halloween Party (which requires an extra ticket) gets a much more prominent section this year, equal in size to the main festival information and with much to tempt a visit.
Particularly — absolutely no mention of a “Ghost Ship Cavalcade.”

Main Street is used at the backdrop of the Halloween party. The website also features wallpapers
and a screensaver, information about Kids Under 7 Free and an online game to become the
“Halloween Champion”, though apparently no mention of the actual prize.

Whilst most of the photos used throughout the website are taken from previous Halloween events (largely the 2006 season), a couple of new photos have been produced already this year, seeming to give an impression of the Disney Villains’ Halloween Showtime

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However, the true event is expected to take place in daytime, finally bringing the Central Plaza stage to life without having to wait for darkness to fall. The villains are expected to make way completely for Candleabration (and Disney Characters’ Express, it would appear) to continue as normal throughout the festival.

Overall, a very promising launch campaign for this years Halloween festivities, don’t you think?

Whilst the emphasis on the 15th Anniversary might have left the traditional Halloween events by the wayside, they seem to be planning an event stronger than any year before — that’s the power of 15.

Saturday, 23rd June 2007

Crush’s Coaster – The Official Ride Video

This special official footage has been prepared by the resort for posting on their Official Anniversary Blog. An article featuring the video was originally posted last week, though disappeared soon after following technical problems with the video. The video has now “resurfaced” and gives a (you guessed it) turtally unique view of the very first thrill ride based on any Pixar movie, anywhere – Crush’s Coaster. This will also be the footage we’ll see for years to come, whenever the attraction is featured in motion…


The footage is presented fairly “raw” – simply the resort’s new official footage of the new Walt Disney Studios Park attraction with some sound clips from the Toon Studio press kit over the top. The music is therefore rights-free, created for any press use on television, and not the music heard at the attraction itself – which is based on the film’s original score.

For anyone who hasn’t had the chance to take a dive on Crush’s Coaster yet, the video gives an excellent view of how the Walt Disney Imagineering-developed digital projection technology blends seamlessly with the coral reef and rocks surrounding the two identical projections – Nemo and Squirt appear completely believable, floating in the water-less undersea dark ride. The dazzling jellyfish are also shown, however the video footage available so far fails to feature either the Angler Fish or any of Bruce’s submarine attack.

As you will have noticed, the footage of the ‘EAC’ roller coaster segment is not taken directly from the ride itself, but created using one of the real ride vehicles against greenscreen – with some humorous faces from the actors on-board as they attempt to act out the ride. This version of the footage made available to the public doesn’t show the spinning effect, nor the true intensity of the ride, but allows us to see a very professional piece of promotional footage that will no-doubt be well-used long into the future with added voice-overs, etc in places such as the resort’s Disney Hotels information tv channel.

For fans, there’s no doubt it brings back fond memories of the 1995 Space Mountain footage, where the Disneyland Park roller coaster’s trains were shown flying through a virtual space, rather than the true ride.

Video footage © Disney.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

‘Stitch Interactive’? Your opinion counts…

We mentioned in the last update on Stitch Encounter that the original name of the Hong Kong import was beginning to be lost in the various press releases and previews given so far, reverting to a temporary “Stitch interactive attraction” tagline, with even the Walt Disney Television Studios name still conserved on the latest park maps.

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With the launch of this new online survey, though, ‘Stitch Encounter‘ appears to be out of the picture entirely, in favour of three brand new name ideas:

– Stitch Interactive
The entire basis of the attraction is the ability to interact in real-time with Stitch, so this name would certainly give first-timers an idea of the attraction’s aim.
– Stitch Live
On the other hand, with the TV-studio theme, this one could be a good way to put across the story of the live satellite link-up to outer space with one snappy four-letter word.
– Stitch
Short and simple – just the little blue alien’s name. This is what most of us will call it in conversation when it opens anyway, but is it too non-descript for an official title?


The survey opens in a pop-up window, and first asks the visitor what country they’re from, whether they’ve visited Disneyland Resort Paris before and if they have any children, which age groups they fall into.


Next, you’re introduced to the attraction concept:

“A totally new amazing and interactive attraction for the whole family will open at Disneyland Resort Paris. The Disney Character, Sttich, from the popular film Lilo & Stitch, will play, joke and will even have a conversation with you. This is a first-of-its-kind, real-time animated interaction.

“We have several ideas for the name of this attraction and we should like to have your opinion.”

Each of the three names appears on separate pages, and you’re asked to vote between 1 (do not like it at all) and 10 (like it very much) as to how much you’d like it to become the final name.


Finally, you’re asked “And if you had to choose only one name for this new attraction, which do you prefer?”, with the options of the three names or, if you’re thoroughly not impressed with their choices – “none of them”.

The survey originally opened last week, before it was promptly closed a few days later with the message “This survey has already closed, thank you for your interest.” However, today the survey is once again open for votes, so if you missed it just before the weekend – you’ve still got time to have your say!

Click here to vote on the official UK website »

Click here to vote on the official French website »

(Click the blue box seen above in the sidebar, featuring Stitch)

This isn’t the first time Disneyland Resort Paris has asked for feedback on the naming of a new attraction. In March-2005, they infamously launched a survey which provided four brand new names for the project then already known as Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast. Those names were, in no particular order: Buzz Lightyear’s Cosmic Adventure, Buzz Lightyear’s Cosmic Blast, Buzz Lightyear’s Intergalactic Adventure, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Adventure.

Needless to say, the names were met with immediate disappointment from fans who much prefered the existing “Laser Blast” name. This survey luckily provided an extra comments box, allowing fans to register their thoughts with more depth and suggest once again the “Laser Blast” title. Although “Space Adventure” was apparently the chosen title, and used on the very first press release for the attraction, the name was suddenly changed just a few months later to… Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.

So, your opinion really can count with this new attraction! The chance to help name a new attraction doesn’t come very often, but what do you think to those names? Let us know in the comments below which you chose, and also – if you’ve got any bright ideas – what other names you could have come up with. You never know what they’ll choose…

Screencaps from © Disney website.

Saturday, 16th June 2007

Autumn-Winter brochure says “there’s still time!”

The new brochure appears to break from the tradition of the past three, which since Spring/Summer 2006 have featured simple, bright covers with a single image at the centre. Perhaps as a final kick to the 15th Anniversary Celebration, this new Autumn/Winter brochure for the second half of the Anniversary features a crowded cover of Disney characters surrounding a re-designed version of the Anniversary Castle visual. It’s an image that has become familiar from the resort’s impressive advertising campaign, however, so should work well as a recognisable Disneyland Paris image for prospective guests.


At the foot of the red carpet, you can read “There’s still time to join the party!”, with an inside page proclaiming “The time is now, the magic is here!”. If the original 15th Anniversary brochure was all about pouring out their long list of new features, this second brochure is all about trying to capture as many people as possible before the celebration concludes.

What can we expect inside the brochure? Along with the usual information about Halloween and Christmas, there should be fairly big push for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, likely using that key visual we presented a couple of weeks ago. If you’re outside the UK and have to wait a little longer for the next official brochure to arrive across your borders, don’t worry – as soon as it arrives at DLRP Today we’ll be giving you a good look inside at all the best bits!

» Click Here to order your Autumn/Winter brochure today! (UK)

Saturday, 19th May 2007

Graphic design, show writing and kicks on ’66

This new video features two Imagineers working on the project talking about the ride experience and describing their intentions with its design and construction. Behind them, you might spot one or two props soon to appear at the attraction itself in Paris, such as a stop light, cans of motor oil, a poster for Fillmore’s organic fuel and newspaper cut-outs describing the triumphs of the Famous Hudson Hornet, Doc Hudson!

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Michael Sprout (Senior Show Writer) / Debbie Hofman (Graphic Designer)

First, Senior Show Writer Michael Sprout, confirms that the queue buildings are set up like a “visitor centre” for Radiator Springs, showcasing each of the stores and locales owned by the motor vehicle inhabitants. He also mentions “wild race music” and that Lightning and Mater will be positioned at the edge of the race area (rather than outside the entrance as expected before) shouting encouragements to guests on the spinning ride.

“The guest experience for the Cars attraction is that first you’re going to visit the town, see the sights, go through the visitor centre, and then you’re going to go out to the race course. Lightning and Mater are there to welcome you to the race. You go out to your new rookie car, get in the car and at a signal, your car starts up, doing this wild spinning race through the desert.

“As you race, Lightning and Mater are off to the side of the racetrack shouting encouragement to you. There’s this wild race music that will get your blood going and you spin around in this crazy figure-eight spinning course for about a minute and half, which is quite a bit of time in those conditions!”

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Circular entrance lobby, featuring various advertisements and the famous Piston Cup!

The second half of the video features graphic designer Debbie Hofman speaking briefly about how the Imagineers attempted to capture the feel of Route 66 for Europeans and “show what it means for Americans”, whilst a camera pans across a never-before-seen concept model depicting the full visitor centre complex from behind (imagine yourself stood on the spot of Art of Disney Animation looking towards Crush), the walls decorated in large posters featuring local brands such as Lightning McQueen’s Rust-Eze medicated bumper ointment and Tow Mater’s pick-up service.

When we developed the queue for the attraction we wanted to start with the outside as you’re walking in and the exteriors are featuring Route 66 and the kind of architecture you would see. And then walking into it, we really wanted to bring in that world of Route 66, some of the businesses you’d find, the cars, and really get that feel for the guests. Especially being in Europe, we wanted to really capture Route 66 for them and what that is for Americans.

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‘Backstage’ area of the queue under outdoor canopy, featuring more local advertisements.


The work of Debbie Hofman and the graphic design team has now made it to the attraction itself in Paris. We got a glimpse at a poster advertising Ramone’s House of Body Art back in April, and now a much more noticable banner has filled one side of the entrance lobby building.

Graphic design work completed and in place in Paris!

The large blue banner appears to proclaim “Welcome Travellers!” in typically Route 66-style – a part of America famed for its hospitality – with the route logo of the famous road also featured. As they head toward the checkered flag, representing what Route 66 means to Americans as well as recreating the Pixar impression, they’re certainly getting a kick out of it. And speaking of checkered flags, latest rumours are that Cast Members will come equipped with special race accessories – each and every Race Rally spinout will be finished with a wave of the famous race flag!

Concept images © Disney; Latest photo by Photos Magiques.

Wednesday, 9th May 2007

154 Years in the making, dude!

Launched on 20th February with the official, the official anniversary blog has come from modest beginnings to present a series of unique videos and articles delving into the backstage talent of the 15th Anniversary Celebration. Our host, Tristane, has introduced us to the scent creator, costume designer and director of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, and now attention has switched dramatically to Toon Studio, particularly Crush’s Coaster.

The first surprise on the French version of the blog today was the following photo, showing a painter at work on murals inside the key “dark ride” scenes of this unique new spinning roller coaster:

We’ve seen glimpses into the dark ride scenes before, but this more recent image shows some of the final, vibrant colours of the scenes and the talent at work. The scenes are much smaller, the route much thinner, than a usual dark ride, which might seem strange considering the theme of “the big blue”, but the paintwork completed here shows how the Imagineers have designed tricks of the eye to give the effect of real undersea depth. With blurred, faded background coral behind vibrant, crisp detail, a flat wall suddenly becomes a window into the depths of the Great Barrier Reef, with 3D sculpted coral in front adding another depth.

A good news day for Crush’s Coaster, then. But they weren’t done yet – a little later, and suddenly a brand new video has been uploaded to the blog, presenting even more backstage previews. Presented as a simple slide show with just a few seconds of actual footage, the video serves to present a series of never-before-seen images: concept models, detailed, sculpted coral and more…

A look at each and every shot of the video:

(1) Front elevation of Studio 5, shows some interior detail of the boarding area, such as steps over the track to its platform and a studio-style lighting rail above the action.

(2) A fantastic scale model of the entire attraction. The entrance path is chopped in half in the foreground – notice the warnings and wait times sign recently added in reality. The full 3D marquee featuring Crush is seen as a piece white card on guests’ left, a little further into the queue and yet to be modelled here.

(3) A close-up of the model, showing the outside drop and its jagged, diagonal rockwork surround. Notice the steel fences recently added, which here are shown to cut through a large chunk of blue rock, home to Nemo and Squirt amongst a small crop of green plants.

(4) The camera pans right to left, showing the route of the outside drop, its track almost entirely concealed by the rocks and shown to be filled with several plants.

(5) The lowest point of the drop and a close-up of Nemo and Squirt. These figures will be similar to those at the old Finding Nemo photo location, now lost to the Hollywood Boulevard project.

(6) We move onwards to the first scene of the dark ride, seen as if you were above the building looking toward Cars and Art of Disney Animation. The entrance from the outside drop is top-left, the two state-of-the-art digital projection screens lower-right and top-right. The coral is filled with a rainbow of colours.

(7) The next scene, this model shows only the Angler Fish attack, with the previous scene depicted as a flat floorplan. The colour and light has disappeared for a much more uncertain tone.

(8) A zoom-in on this corner of the track. One angler fish faces toward oncoming turtle shells on the corner, whilst another hides around the bend pointing toward shells as they continue past. Like the digital projections before, these are two identical effects doubled-up to ensure guests in both sides of the back-to-back ride vehicles see the same experience.

(9) Another close look at these impressive Audio-Animatronics, also due to be found at Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (California).

(10) An impressive example of coral sculpted for the attraction. Though no commentary is provided with these images, the coral appears to be in a tent backstage at Walt Disney Studios Park. Interesting, since it would be assumed the coral would be sculpted on-site at its final location. Several reference photos and concepts are pinned to a board above the décor.

(11) The lower portion of the coral shows even more variety in the undersea life, matching that seen full-coloured in the concept models above.

(12) A close-up of the coral. Impressive detail, and certainly like nothing else at Walt Disney Studios Park.

(13) Another close-up shows even more variety, all referenced from real coral and reproduced to be entirely accurate to undersea life.

(14) Finally, a noticeboard with the concept model of the attraction next to two real-life reference photos used to design its jagged rockwork façade, similar in design – if not unnatural blue colour – to that over in Adventureland.

After all this work, it might actually seem like 154 years for some of the Imagineers involved!

Video, photo and all video caps Copyright Disney.

Saturday, 5th May 2007

Book your dream – like never before

Dating from as far back as 1999 and 2000, the old booking system was a simple yet not particularly user-friendly interface. Consisting of simple drop-down menus and selection boxes, it never gave a particularly dazzling first impression for people on their way to Disneyland. Not only that, but it stubbornly refused to work in several browsers such as Mozilla Firefox – not good for a resort which welcomes over 12 million visitors each year.

And so, finally, another piece of the circa-2000 website fades away. Visitors clicking the “Book Packages” option on the homepage of the official website are now redirected first to the resort’s new Hotels pages, where they can find the perfect hotel to suit their needs. Then all it takes is a click of “Book Now!” and they’re off to the brand new booking system…

The system appears in a similar design to the main website but removes all menus and Flash, giving a more friendly way to book your package. The first pages requires you to choose an arrival date and length of stay, with various options along the sidebar informing you of deals such as Half Board Meal Plans.

Once you’ve selected the number of people going with you to the magic, the screen clears and connects you to the resort’s booking system, with Tinkerbell floating around the screen and a message highlighting the special events for the 15th Anniversary.

System searched, the page next moves to the next step of the booking process and displays your ideal package offer along with two alternatives – a new feature for this sytem. The page displays all the features of each package in a good layout, allowing you to compare each offer or search again for a better deal. From this page you can also add options such as Half Board or change your room type with a single click – the options box opens within the same window and prices are updated automatically so you can continue to compare the packages.

The most major update with this new system, one which visitors from the UK in particular will be glad to see, is the option to finally book transport with your hotel, online. So far the system allows you to find flights with Air France (the resort’s airline partner) from a large number of airports and Eurostar from London, though at the time of writing the system was having trouble connecting to Eurostar’s booking option.

The pricing details here could be a little clearer, but the options now available give the system a major advantage over its predecessor and hopefully much more incentive for guests to book quickly and book everything together, a major plus for the resort’s all-important sales.

And if at any time during the process you need to check what you’ve selected so far, it’s just a click away. “Review my selection” brings up a useful window on the same page you’re looking at, displaying the details of your package so far without you having to reach the end of the booking process or hit “back” and check your selections. Another clever new feature is the ability to save “travel wishes”, so you can come back later to complete the booking.

Then, once you do reach the end, everything is displayed again in a modern and easy-to-read layout. Here you can even add requests to your booking, select insurance and see useful tips for your hotel and transport. The total cost is displayed clearly in bold at the top – as with most other websites and sales these days, they hope the clearer and simpler they make it, the more likely they are to get a booking.

Ready to book? Well, here we are – time to get entering all your details. With the new transport options, you’ll also need to select the ID you’ll use to pick up boarding cards and a number from the ID chosen. Finally, the price is once again displayed large and clear next to the credit card form – which comes with the resort’s partner “Visa” selected as standard, of course. A box provides a reminder that the website is SSL secured, and the entire process certainly does feel much more modern, substantial and secure than the basic former system.

The ticket purchasing system has yet to be updated, running on a separate website to the packages system, but this major step forward for the online sales of Disneyland Resort Paris is a sign that they’re still continuing to build their online presence, one of the key points Karl Holz announced when he became CEO exactly two years ago, back in May 2005.

Want to see the new system for real? Follow the link, choose your dream and select “Book Now!”. But maybe best to keep your credit card at arms length – you know how impulsive that Disney magic can make its fans.

Thanks to Jakub for the news!

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