Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Characters in Flight Return

It is widely being reported that the Characters in Flight attraction located at Downtown Disney will be returning as scheduled in the coming weeks as it appears the new balloon is being installed and should be ready to go soon. This comes as a surprise to many (myself included) considering the accident that transpired with one of Aerophile balloons which led to the closing of this attraction and the recall and replacement of the tethered balloon.

This is proof that Disney does have faith in the monetary value of this attraction and their belief that guests will not be discouraged from returning to the attraction, or giving it a go. Only time will tell how popular this attraction becomes after its return, as many have questioned its popularity beforehand, with the $18.99 per person price tag. Stay tuned for more info on this and other news.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Alcohol at Be Our Guest?

It has been widely reported, and confirmed that for the first time in the history of Walt Disney World alcohol will be served within the confines of the Magic Kingdom Park. This decision was made regarding the newly created Be Our Guest Restaurant, which is soft-opening in New Fantasyland on November 19. This upscale restaurant is the first to offer any alcoholic beverages in the parks forty-one year history. This decision, confirmed by menu releases, has sparked much criticism and controversies throughout the community.

The critics have argued that Walt wanted Magic Kingdom to stay alcohol-free, or dry as they say, rather than be pressured into offering alcohol. This has always been the appeal for the park, and the thought of beer carts on Main Street have many people upset and angered. The other side of the coin questions whether or not Walt would still be for a dry Magic Kingdom with the amount of money that is in these sales. The truth is, there is no right or wrong answer. It is necessary to change with the times, but does it mean to escape from something that the company once held near and dear. The alcohol-free Magic Kingdom has always had support all over the world, as Disneyland Park continues to be a dry park. The counter to that is Club 33, a private club within the Disneyland Park, that does serve alcohol. This is an exclusive club and should be treated as such.

The question and debate continues on, and it seems the battle lines have been drawn in the sand. Rumors have abounded that guests cancelled reservations when this was announced, but there has been no confirmation that such action has occurred.

Not to delve into my own personal opinion, but what must be considered is the shear lack of a signature dining experience in the Magic Kingdom. Sure Cinderella's Royal Table is considered such, but this establishment is geared toward the family and has character dining. Be Our Guest will be the first "real" signature dining experience, so this must be considered as well.

We will keep the news flowing, no pun intended, as they develop to the upcoming soft-opening November 19th, and the official December 6th opening.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Expansion: We Now Have a youtube Channel

One of the expansion ideas I have had was to create a channel on youtube. This coupled with twitter and facebook have made the blog completely socially networked. If anyone would like to view the videos I have posted from within Walt Disney world resort just visit the channel below.

Tomorrowland Gazette youtube Channel

Monday, September 10, 2012

Disney That Never Was: Baby Herman's Runaway Baby Buggy

With the news of a massive shakeup possibly changing the landscape and footprint of Disney's Hollywood Studios, it seems necessary to look at part of the first real expansion that was planned for the then Disney/MGM Studios.

As one of the major components of the Disney Decade, Michael Eisner used his connections within the movie industry to expand on a EPCOT pavilion concept: the movie pavilion. By expanding this idea, MGM Studios was born, and through that creation, so did a completely different direction for the Walt Disney Company in Florida. Eisner's idea was a full year ahead of rival Universal's own park opening, which in turn gave Disney the edge.

Disney/MGM Studios was originally conceived to be a half-day park, as many executives did not think that there would be enough attractions and shows to keep guests within the park fr an entire day. Fortunately for them, they were wrong. The park became an immediate success, and calls for more were demanded by park goers. This led to the addition of such things as MuppetVision 3D, and the entire Sunset Boulevard area to the park. With all that the park has now and added over the years it is a wonder that there were many concepts left on the drawing table, and ones that simply were shelved during development. One of these projects was Baby Herman's Runaway Baby Buggy.

In an attempt to capitalize on the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Imagineers came up with a concept for a new area to encompass the MGM Studios. This area would mimic the sets of the film, and become heavily influenced by the popular film with a slew of new attractions, including a Toontown Trolley and a Benny the Cab Ride. (which eventually became known as Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin in Disneyland and Tokyo) The Baby Herman attraction would take guests right into the middle of a Roger Rabbit/Baby Herman cartoon, notably the Tummy Trouble short as guests loaded into dark ride style baby carriages. It was described by one Imagineer as being a ride that, ” … guests zoom through the cartoon sets of Toontown Hospital, fly down stairs, crash through doors and bound over beds.” Though the concept had promise, and would have added a completely new dimension to the park, it never made it past the concept stage.

There have been rumors abound for why this attraction as well as the rest of Roger Rabbit's Hollywood never came to fruition. Some point the finger at Eisner and Frank Wells being a bit too bold during the Disney Decade, and others blame the character's fleeting popularity for its eventual cancellation, but the truth seems to lie somewhere in the middle. One major issue that seemed to be a sticking point was the ownership of the character and Disney's disagreement with Amblin Entertainment (Steven Spielberg's production agency) led to multiple delays. Being that both Touchstone (Disney's live-action production company) and Amblin were responsible for the creation of the film, disagreements arose over the profits, the usage and the design of the land and attractions. Considering Spielberg's affiliation with Universal, it is a wonder that this became a major issue moving forward. The other problem that arose was the rising costs of EuroDisney, and the eventual losses that the Disney Company took once it finally opened. As the disagreements finally seemed to be ending with Amblin, Disney found that it had a capital issue which led to much of the plans from the Disney Decade to be shelved. Once this capital issue was resolved however, it seemed that the Roger Rabbit character had lost its luster and popularity, so the company went in a different direction as they eventually decided on a project that eventually became Sunset Boulevard and the Tower of Terror which opened in July 1994.

Though this attraction was never officially green lit, and therefore never has been created, much of the technology that this attraction was conceived to feature has found itself in other attractions, notably the Winnie-the-Pooh attraction in Magic Kingdom with its "bouncing" and "floating" honeypots. It is also important to note that Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin eventually was created in Disneyland in January 1993 and in Tokyo in April 1996.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Is Avatarland off the drawing board? CarsLand and big changes to DHS?

Rumors are abounding that the future of Avatarland in Animal Kingdom has been decided. That decision has been to possibly scratch the whole entire project. There have been many thoughts as to why this might have happened. One of the major reasons this seems to have been scraped is the fact that James Cameron wanted 100% creative control, and Disney generally does not allow such things. This seems like good business as it allows them to hold some control on what gets produced within their parks. Apparently this may not be working for a big-time director like James Cameron, and the popular belief is that coupled with the seemingly negative fanboy response to the projects creation has caused the company to cease the forward movement of the concept.

With this news comes even more rumors of a possible overhaul to the Hollywood Studios Park. There have been many rumors about the future of the parks streets and areas, as well as some things that might make many fans happy and possibly worried. Here are the rumors, in order of how possible they seem to be:

1. The Hollywood Hills Amphitheater to add 1000 seats. This has been all but confirmed, this makes us wonder about either a World of Color update to the show or an integration of World of Color effects to the already popular Fantasmic show.

2. CarsLand could be on its way to Hollywood Studios. Rumor has it that the Backlot tour will be put out of its misery to make way for the land to be placed within the confines of Pixar Place.

3. The eventual closing of the Backlot Express to be re-imagined as the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars fame. This rumor has been around for a while, but appears to be finally ready to happen.

4. The re-imagining of the Grauman's Chinese Theater as the Carthay Circle Theater. This would allow Disney to end the litigation of the usage of the facade, and allow them to take down the Sorcerer's Hat and use the Carthay as the official park icon.

5. The closing of possibly both Mama' Melrose's and Pizza Planet to make way for two Muppet inspired eateries. (look back at the History of WDW look at Gonzo's Pandemonium Pizza Parlor as a guide to what may be going here)

6.  Ending the madness of Sound's Dangerous and making the space an official Jedi Training Academy. This would allow for a better experience for guests as well as a more "Force" inspired experience.

7. The Monster's Inc. Coaster. This has been on again off again and then back on again rumor for the past five years. Personally it is still a long shot but if an expansion to Pixar Place is in the works this may become a part of it.

As runors it is absolutely possible that these things do not happen, but it appears that Hollywood Studios is now the park on tap to be refurbished. This will continue to be observed and reported as actual news comes out, but there are many outlets reporting these ideas. This is just more of a grouping of the all of the major rumors.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Magic, The Memories and You To Become Re-Imagined

It has been announced the the Pre-Wishes event "The Magic, The Memories and You" will end its run as soon as today in preparation for the new pre-show entitled, "Celebrate the Magic" which will debut in November. It is rumored to feature much of the designs and effects that its predecessor implemented including the castle effects, but it appears as though the concept of photographs during the day of guests will be removed.

This seems like a logical move forward for this technology, as it originally was implemented with the pictures because apparently Disney brass was worried that the simple effects would not draw crowds. Now that those fears have been squashed, and the show's popularity is revolved around the Castle effects, it appears as the progression would be to eliminate the memory portion of the show, and eventually implement the technology into the firework show, which may eventually call for the either updating or replacing of the Wishes Fireworks show. What do people think about the idea that Wishes' days may may be numbered?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

History of WDW: Back to Neverland

In looking back on videos from my childhood, I came across a video from the Magic of Disney Animation at the previously titled Disney MGM Studios. This video, reminded me alot of my childhood, which outlined the way Disney makes their animated films. It starred Walter Cronkite and Robing Williams, and was titled Back to Neverland. Many times this video was played, and it was one that all of the guests felt drawn to. Maybe it was the way Walter Cronkite in some way reminded us of Walt Disney (considering their friendship and Cronkite's status as the other "Uncle Walt") Maybe it was the goofiness of Robin Williams.

As we have seen the degeneration of the Magic of Disney Animation, this was the first in a line of changes that caused it to become a shell of its former self. This film was viewed while the animators were still working on the studio, and when the studio was still producing television shows and effects. It introduced us to the real magic of animating a Disney film, long before the entrance of Pixar and the CGI animation.

The show featured Walter Cronkite choosing a random member of the crowd (conveniently Robin Williams) and gave him the opportunity to become an animated character. Through his trip there were goofs and gags, notably an animated Robing mimicking Walter's mannerisms. It also featured Robin as a lost boy in Neverland, fighting Captain Hook. As the show went on, Robing was drawn, inked and set. the process was comedically placed and was factual and accurate. The beauty was the on air camaraderie and respect both Williams and Cronkite had for one another. The show became a must see which caused the attraction repeatability.

The attraction has since been redesigned with a Mulan inspired film, and the loss of the animators has made this attraction less popular and less traveled. The "Back to Neverland" film added to the Robin Williams Disney Legend status, as his performance was one of the factors that led to him being cast in Aladdin. (note the similarities of his attire and that of Genie at the end of the film) This film had a large impact on the early Disney/MGM Studios, and the future of Disney animation.