Sunday, 8th October 2006

Extra trees for Art of Disney Animation!

The trees are similar in style to those previously lining the fence where Cars Race Rally is now being constructed, with very long, thin branches and a box-like body. They’re similar even, perhaps, to those surrounding Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, and give a very stylised and refined look to the future entrance of Toon Studio, matching the nature of animation itself.

Today’s image by cameraphone.

This area of blue fences was erected back in late August, with the only sign of construction over the past month being a large hole. Now though, we can see the true start of the original Animation Courtyard’s placemaking, as more greenery arrives and the lands of Walt Disney Studios are finally separated.

Update (13:36 GMT): raptor1982 also reports that he believes the same line of trees may have also been added behind the green construction fences, next to Disney Studio 1.

Thursday, 5th October 2006

5 Steps to transform a Studio, by WDI

Step 1: Characters

We reported on Monday that the Toon Studio construction fence is now home to some of Pixar’s finest creations, giving us a tantalising glimpse at the plethora of characters that await beyond. Earlier this year, of course, we already welcomed Mike, Sulley and the CDA to Animation Courtyard at a new character location next to Disney Studio 1, and The Incredibles have been outside Art of Disney Animation for quite some time. Disney park guests are incredibly keen on the characters these days, and Disney knows it. They add colour, life and guaranteed photo opportunities.

The expansion area of Toon Studio is confirmed to feature at least two character locations, shown on concept art as The Incredibles and Mickey Mouse, though this is subject to change. WDS Fans reported last week, however, that another meet ‘n’ greet opportunity will be available over at Cars Race Rally, with European automobiles Luigi and Guido outside their Radiator Springs store.
Step 2: Attractions

You know them by now – Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally, a spinning indoor/outdoor coaster with dark ride scenes and a tea cups-style ride respectively. Whilst the effects of Crush’s towering Studio 5 have been felt for many months already, the lonely queue buildings of Cars Quatre Roues Rallye (the French name of the attraction, which will be the official in-park title) have now progressed quickly, already adding more features and varied architecture styles to the Studios (photo 2).

So far, they look similar to most concept art, with a circular central building and a long, thin, offshoot for the double-back queue. A large canopied building based on Flo’s V8 Café (the gas station in the movie) is also on plans, and should finally rid the Studios of its “warehouseland” critics. In the future “canyon” (photo 1), the foundations for the two pairs of turntables which make up the Cars ride have visibly progressed much further, with thick concrete walls and dividers lining the surprisingly deep pits.

The rockwork of Crush’s Coaster hasn’t noticeably progressed since our last report, however an arched curve of concrete has now been place above its future entrance doors (see paint tests photo below).
Step 3: Colour

It’s amazing what a little colour can do – it can set dark moods, create excitement or let you feel warmth with just the slightest change of tone. It’s the lifeblood of animation, and so it’s ironic that it’s the lack of colour currently adding more magic to the walls of Studio 5. The white basecoat has now covered the entire front of the building (photo 1) and much of the right side, turning the dull, murky concrete into a clean, crisp piece of Imagineering.

Of course, this is only for the time being – soon, the entire building will be a nice shade of sea blue. But which shade? That seems to be the question for the Imagineers right now, as you can see by the various paint tests on the walls next to the building’s entrance (photo 2). From this photo, the colours appear more vibrant than “true” sky blue yet lighter than a full blue – matching, perhaps, the shade of the Sorcerer’s Hat.
Step 4: Detail

“Detail” previously appeared to be some kind of profanity in the exterior design of Animation Courtyard (at least for those pulling the purse strings), yet now a healthy helping of this Disney delight is being spread right across the land. Take a look at the curbs bordering the Cars Race Rally area, for example – not a straight line in sight, entirely customised to the park and the attraction.

Some wavy curbs are a drop in the ocean compared to the rockwork of Crush’s Coaster, though, which juts up across the front of the attraction as if the Great Barrier Reef itself is about to explode out into Toon Studio. Now that the construction site has thankfully become much busier, the comparison of a worker to the size of the rockwork gives an incredible view of the true scale of this themeing project compared to the rest of the park. And, that we can already see such pleasant details as these with seven months still to go has to surely be a very good sign.
Step 5: Greenery

Without doubt the pièce de résistance of Kyoto’s latest photos is this excellent shot from on board Flying Carpets Over Agrabah. As you can see, the new “oasis” planting areas in front of the attraction have finally received tall, luscious palm trees, and the impact of these can be seen already. Now, the Flying Carpets are fully hidden away in this corner of the land, existing within their own tropical mini-land and providing something for guests to “discover” as they walk around the park.

It’s no more showbuilding-to-showbuilding – the curved paths (currently covered in protective wooden boards whilst construction work continues) and rounded planting areas will send guests in all directions, finally allowing them to “explore” in Walt Disney Studios Park.

So there you have it – 5 Steps to transform a Studio! And the best part? They’re all actually being followed, right now, in Paris. Excited about June 2007 yet?

Photos by Kyoto on Disney Magic Interactive forum. You can see more here.

Monday, 2nd October 2006

Getting a peek (or a peck?) at the toons

In a similar style to the Little Green Men of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast’s walls, the deep blue expanse in Animation Courtyard has now been filled to bursting with characters, logos, visuals… even concept art! Beginning at Art of Disney Animation, the display first announces “Toon Studio : Ouverture Juin 2007” against a background of spotlights, confirming once and for all that the new name of the land will be “Toon Studio” rather than “Toon Studios”.

Next, Cars Race Rally takes centre stage, right in front of the attraction’s actual construction site. Either side of a new, brighter logo for the attraction are images of roads snaking off into the distance. The first features Lightning McQueen and Fillmore, the second Mater, Sally and Ramone.

After a sign pointing the way to Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, guests are next introduced to Crush’s Coaster, with the logo of the attraction on a large water splash underneath three seagulls perched on the fence (luckily without sound effects). The three sharks, Bruce, Anchor and Chum, follow next, and then a large version of the attraction’s key visual.

At both ends of the fence, the latest concept art to be released is featured, looking down from an aerial perspective to the new area of Toon Studio. Whilst appearing as nothing new for fans, this new supersize version does, at least, give us a better look at the Imagineer’s creation – as it was in the planning stages, at least.

Want to look beyond the fence again? Well, it seems work is progressing well on painting Studio 5 with white primer, whilst a small crane is now in use at the Cars Race Rally site as the Radiator Springs queue buildings progress further – unfortunately at an angle hard to photograph from Animation Courtyard.

Photos from

Friday, 29th September 2006

A splash of blue for the new Studio 5

The small splodge of blue paint is located just to the left of the attraction’s future exit doors, therefore is likely just a quick test coat from the Imagineers before they let the painters get started. To the right of the exit, you can also see some coats of white paint, though that’s as much as a fleeting glance from the Flying Carpets can get you at the moment.

Any paint fans (or DLRP Today readers suffering from strained eyes after trying to spot the paint) shouldn’t be too upset though, since a quick step around the front of the attraction reveals an extra splash of a deeper blue, for the rocks around the front of Studio 5.

Previously a chalky light blue colour, one of the rocks towards the middle of the facade has now been given a much darker painting job, more similar to the dark blue/purple rocks of initial concept arts. Not only does this add a very bold, vibrant colour to the new Toon Studio landscape, it should also sit nicely against the lighter sky blue of Studio 5.

Photos by nicoetsab on Disney Central Plaza forum.

Sunday, 24th September 2006

Number 5 has arrived; Cars races ahead

Using the whimsical “Walt Disney Script” font rather than Animagique’s “Impact”-style typeface, the new number 5 on the Crush’s Coaster showbuilding marks a distinct change in direction for this area of the park. Only time will tell if Studio 3 is to follow the trend with a new Walt Disney Script “3” to fully separate Toon Studio from the rest of the park.

The soundstages of Walt Disney Studios are now as follows:

Studio 1 – Disney Studio 1
Studio 2 – CinéMagique
Studio 3 – Animagique
Studio 4 – Unknown
Studio 5 – Crush’s Coaster
Studio 6 – Unknown
Studio 7 – Armageddon: Special Effects
Studio 8 – Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Studio 9 – Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

Cast your eyes down from the 60ft+ high number 5, and you can spot more changes below. The craggy blue rockwork surrounding the outside drop has grown further, with detailing to suggest an underwater, coral-like theme. Various sections of the wire mesh are now covered in plastic sheets, perhaps suggesting the next areas to be profiled, whilst the rocks already completed in front of the track appear to hide a number of inlets and hidden spaces, probably for technical equipment and lighting.

One attraction already benefitting from the Toon Studio project is surely Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, since a quick flight through the Genie’s film set gives the only clear view of the far side of the expansion land, where the queue buildings for Cars Race Rally have recently risen at racecar speed.

Taking their designs from various memorable Radiator Springs establishments, the buildings will also apparently be soaked in a plethora of neon lights as they lead through to the race area in the “canyon”, 1 metre below ground level. The ride itself remains a series of concrete foundations, but the ride and its vehicles are confirmed to be under construction in Italy as we speak. The attraction will therefore be different to Francis’ Lady Bug Boogie at Disney’s California Adventure, which is currently experiencing some serious technical problems. In addition to featuring twice as many vehicles, Cars Race Rally will also apparently be twice as fast as the Californian attraction.

Though not featuring Lightning McQueen, Doc Hudson or any of the other key Cars characters, the vehicles will certainly feature everything to suggest they are from the Cars universe (such as eyes, mouths, and so on). The use of more “generic” vehicles is likely to ensure they are all equal, with no need for guests to fight over their favourite characters. This also allows Lightning McQueen and Mater to instead be featured at the side of the Race Rally, cheering on guests and “posing” for pictures. European characters Guido and Luigi will also be featured near the attraction, posing for pictures at a meet ‘n’ greet location outside their shop.

Photos by Olivier for For more, click here.

Sunday, 24th September 2006

Making waves across the Atlantic

The Living Seas pavillion at Walt Disney World’s Epcot is due to reopen in late October as “The Seas with Nemo and Friends”, turning its old Omnimover ride system (which travels through aquarium tunnels) into a full Finding Nemo adventure with the use of state-of-the-art digital video projection. Digital video projection that will then also be put to use in at least two special scenes of the dark-ride portion of Crush’s Coaster. Infact, the technology will also be used a third time, and much more expansively, in the new Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland in California, though this isn’t due until Summer 2007. So, months before the new Walt Disney Studios attraction opens, we can get a sneak peek at how successful this much-boasted technology is.

Already, theme park news website Screamscape has posted a few words of encouragement:

Nemo’s Undersea Adventure / The Seas with Nemo & Friends – (9/22/06) Screamscape has heard a little info about the insides of the new Nemo attraction, and so far the word is good. I’m going go try to not give anything away that might spoil it, but if you don’t want to know anything at all, stop right here.
Apparently the queue is quite large for this new ride and has been given a beach theme. As you move forward though the queue area, you will be given the impression that you are moving closer to the water and eventually walking under the water, which will be reinforced by a view of the bottom of a boat attached to the ceiling. This is all before you’ve even boarded the Clammobiles. From here I’ll leave out any details other than to say that the scenery work is apparently really great and the projections from Pixar are also said to be top notch work. The EAC effect is also said to be quite convincing and if there is one downside people could comment on, it’s that the real marine life just are not as impressive looking as their new Pixar counterparts.

We know already that the queue of Crush’s Coaster will be largely outdoors, themed to a dried-up fishing pier with the pier itself providing shelter above, so the statement here that Epcot’s attraction features a “beach” themed queue with “the bottom of a boat attached to the ceiling” suggests more could be crossing over than simply the projections, with the “EAC effect” being another likely candidate for the Paris attraction.

Despite these cross-overs, though, Crush’s Coaster can still be classed as a “turtally” unique attraction for Paris, with a ride system not yet used by Disney and a layout and design arguably like nothing they’ve ever Imagineered before.

Friday, 22nd September 2006

New for 2006: Construction Courtyard

As if the Tower of Terror, Crush’s Coaster, Cars Race Rally, Walt Disney Studios Store and Art of Disney Animation fences weren’t enough, there’s now even more to discover! The large flower bed between Disney Studio 1 and the Monsters Inc. character location has just been cordoned off, to allow for new paving, the alteration and expansion of the planting area and the installation of the land’s new Sorcerer Mickey welcome statue.

Unlike the newer blue fences installed around Art of Disney Animation at the end of August, this new fence-based attraction comes in the classic shade of green. Both fences, however, aren’t totally devoid of magic. Between the classic “Pardon our pixie dust” Walt Disney Imagineering signs, they feature a variety of signs pointing the way to Animagique, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, Art of Disney Animation and even the Monsters Inc. location.

These fences bring the “fence-coverage” score of the land to an all-time high, with this area, the new Toon Studio area, the Art of Disney entrance and the entire area in front of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah adding up to a less than magical (though quite immersive) theme park experience. Luckily, project schedules have this latest section due for completion as early as November, so the first major benefits of this massive overhaul project should be seen sooner rather than later.

Thanks to Poppy the Monkey at magicforum for all the photos featured here.

Friday, 22nd September 2006

A little touch of Studio style

Curves are everywhere in Walt Disney Studios – from the arched entrance gate to the curving walls of Front Lot’s Fantasia Fountain, from the hub of Disney Bros. Plaza to the giant Sorcerer’s Hat. The trademark feature of Disney Studios 1, 2 and 3, setting them apart from the rough, industrial buildings of Backlot, is the arched roof and prominent soundstage number, and it’s this tiny little touch of style that has now made its way to the Crush’s Coaster construction site.

With the side walls at their full height and the roof in place, this week finally saw the front wall rise further with the raised placard feature similar to Disney Studio 1. Unlike Disney Studio 1, however, an identical raised section will not be found at the rear end of Studio 5. The smaller square building at the front will be integrated into the park with a large seascape backdrop and the blue rockwork currently under construction.

The final section of curved wall features a square centrepiece to house the large number “5” in the near future, and has taken what was previously a long, thin but very tall (and therefore rather unbalanced) showbuilding a step closer to being a real Disney Theme Park landmark. One small step for the builders… one giant leap for Walt Disney Studios!

Photos by Res at Disney Central Plaza forum.

Thursday, 21st September 2006

Visualising the Toons

So far only released in a small resolution on the official travel marketing tools website Extraordinet, the visuals mainly use elements of the movie posters for Finding Nemo and Cars, with the Cars Race Rally image appearing as little more than a slightly photoshopped version of its one-sheet.

The Crush’s Coaster image, on the other hand, is more original but perhaps confusing to those unfamiliar with the new family spinning coaster and dark ride. The visual shows a winding U-shaped track similar to that of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, rather than the flatter design of the actual Maurer Söhne track. The corkscrew nature of the track, covered in quickly duplicated images of characters from the film, could also hint at inversions and a higher thrill level than the actual attraction. Despite this, the visual is fresh and colourful and, along with its Cars Race Rally friend, will likely do good work for the resort in advertising these two exciting attractions.

Both visuals feature the classic Disneyland Resort Paris logo (rather than the new 15th Anniversary version) on signposts themed to a harbour sign and billboard respectively. Strangely, they also both feature the castle, Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, rather than the Earful Tower landmark of Walt Disney Studios.

The large black space in the Cars Race Rally visual hints at either a lack of creativity or a pre-designated space for the attraction logo. Indeed, after quickly adding logos to the two visuals they immediately become far more balanced and rather attention-grabbing…

Fans of Dory, the legendary Blue Regal Tang from Finding Nemo, should perhaps not smile too soon, though. After a total non-appearance in every single piece of concept art for the attraction, she has also failed to appear in this visual. Her popularity is so strong that, if she is featured in the attraction, you’d think they’d use her heavily on the advertisement too, right?

Sunday, 10th September 2006

First rocks and a second logo

Also, more news about the attraction’s construction comes from the park itself…

Work on the attraction’s exterior continues as the first rocks have been shaped and received a first layer of paint!Photos Magiques has the latest construction photos here.

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