Sunday, May 27, 2018


Dramatic fire happened last night at Germany Europa Park. The fire started early on Saturday evening in a storage building, and then moved to engulf and destroy the "Pirates of Batavia" boat ride. Authorities have evacuated the Europa-Park amusement park in southwest Germany, after a fire broke out at the theme park. "The park has been completely cleared," a police spokesman said. There were about 25,000 people at the theme park when the fire started, according to police estimates.

It has been confirmed by authorities that the blaze started in a warehouse before spreading to another attraction. From there it spread further, with flames rapidly leaping to numerous other attractions. There were almost 500 operational forces in use overall. They also confirmed there are no injured visitors.

"The fire is still expanding quickly," a local fire department employee said. We still don't have the situation under control." Nobody was hurt in the mass evacuation but seven firefighters were injured while trying to put out the blaze at Europa-Park, in the south western town of Rust.

Some 250 firefighters tackled the blaze, finally managing to extinguish it on Sunday morning. Authorities were battling to prevent the blaze from spreading to other attractions at the park in the small town of Rust, near the French border.

Most of the park has now reopened. However, parts of the Dutch and Scandinavian-themed areas have been extensively damaged and remain closed.

Europa-Park's chief executive Michael Mack said on Twitter that it had been a "sad day" for the park. He thanked emergency services and expressed his relief that none of the park's customers had been injured. Thousands of people escaped from the park safely.

It is not known what caused the fire, and firefighters remain at the park to make sure the fire does not start up again.

If you plan to go to Europa Park in the next weeks expect to have some of the "lands" closed, and this probably for several weeks. The "Pirates of Batavia" ride who was destroyed last night was Europa Park "Pirates of Caribbean", for those of you who never did the ride, here is a 4K video of it.

Walt Disney's Private Plane Location Found at WDW !

Walt Disney's private plane is a legend in itself as it is known to be the one that Walt used to search - and found - the location of the land where will be built Walt Disney World. You'll have more details about the plane story in the video below as well as its current location, but let's have a closer look first at the plane interior with the rendering below and archives pictures.

I asked Imagineer Eddie Sotto who now designed stunning planes interior that you must see HEREHERE or HERE his comment about Walt's plane:

“Interesting how the company used the Gulfstream for promotional purposes as well as practical ones, almost making “the Mouse” a “character” in of itself. I never boarded it, but was able to fly on the more luxurious, jet powered Gulfstream G4 during the Eisner era on research for Disneyland Paris across Europe. Those experiences were drawn upon years later as I was inspired to design jet interiors, but with more of a story. Our SkyRanch design has an “owners seat” that can be customized to their taste, just like Walt had his own special amenities where he sat."

The picture below shows the seat where Walt was sitting in the plane with a direct telephone line to the pilots in the cockpit.

The plane was used all year long for many purposes including travelling of Imagineers - and Walt, of course - and marketing pictures with Disney characters.

Here is the D23 video with interviews of Bob Gurr, Tony Baxter, Marty Sklar, Kathy Ashcraft and Dave Smith, all talking stories about Walt's plane.

Now, what happened to Walt's plane years later? He could be seen by WDW guests during the Disney MGM Studios Tram tour, until that fateful day when the tour was  stopped and all vehicles and props removed...

Since that time Disney fans wondered where has gone Walt's plane and it was just recently that someone, thanks to Google Earth satellite view, finally found the location at WDW where the plane is hidden now. Ben Laurence has posted on Youtube the video below not only showing where the plane currently is but also giving the itinerary to find it. Wisely, he specify that "you may have to go through security", and considering the plane location it's sure that you will encounter WDW security so D&M strongly advise you to think twice before going there... at your own risk, specially in the U.S where security folks have a tendency to shoot first and ask questions after. Anyway, we're happy to learn that Walt's plane has been saved and hopefully we'll see it back on stage someday!

Pictures: copyright Disney

Video: copyright Disney, Ben Laurence

Saturday, May 26, 2018

"Solo" Short Review

So, I just came back to watch "Solo" in theater and i quite liked it a lot. The good thing is that it was EXACTLY how i thought it would be. Not in terms of story because i didn't knew the story, but in terms of quality or "size" of the movie. It doesn't have a "galactic" size like a Star Wars movie, and it don't have either this kind of Shakespearian / Freudian dimension that we can find in the Star Wars trilogies. So, if you don't expect anything like this you shouldn't be disappointed.

Basically, "Solo" is a "heist" movie in a galaxy far far away. Alden Ehrenreich is very good in my opinion. He don't play Han Solo like Harrison Ford which would have been something impossible to do, and actually he look sometime closer to a young Jack Nicholson than a young Harrison Ford. If Jack Nicholson was a character he would be perfect to play him young ( without the craziness of Jack ). The rest of the cast - Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton and Paul Bettany - yes, the same Paul Bettany who plays "Vision" in The Avengers movies - are all doing a great job, with may be a special mention to Donald Glover who plays a sympathetic - and from what i've read "pansexual " - Lando Calrissian. And yes, you'll have Storm Troopers, Tie Fighters and even a Star Destroyer but, again, don't expect epic battles like in Star Wars movies as it's not the place here. 

Something else, though, surprised me, and it's the choice of photography: in 80% of the scenes, the actors are filmed at counterlight. You can see them, even if sometime it's "limit" or you see their silhouette, but it's a very odd choice of photography, specially for an American movie as usually, as a good friend of mine who is one of the best editor in France once told me, "Americans light everything" on a set.

At the end, this "Solo" movie - in which you'll also learn how Han met Chewbacca and why his name is "Solo" - should be a good surprise as i think most of you don't expect something awesome of it. And i think that Disney don't expect a huge hit either, that's probably the reason why they've been soft on the marketing and didn't spent a huge amount of money in publicity. The movie will certainly not make $1Billion at the box office but i wouldn't be surprised if it reach the $500M mark eventually as the "mouth to ear" reports are generally good and i even suspect Disney to bet on this to bring people in theaters who wouldn't have gone necessarily to watch it. And if you need another good reason to go watch "Solo", let's say that there is a famous Star Wars villain which appears in it - and i won't tell you which one! - which leaves a big open door at the end for a sequel to "Solo" if they wish to do one, and personally i'll be happy if there is one.

Pictures: copyright Disney - Lucasfilm

Friday, May 25, 2018

Charming New Trailer and Poster for Disney's Live-Action Winnie The Pooh Movie "Christopher Robin"

A charming new trailer and poster for Disney's live-action Winnie The Pooh movie "Christopher Robin" has been released and gives us a glimpse of Christopher Robin's past as a child with his friends in the 100 Acre Wood and also offers more insight into the story that will follow him as an adult.

 The story is set in the year is 1949, and Christopher Robin, who is played by Ewan McGregor, who is "an efficiency manager at a luggage company, tasked with finding the resources to prevent many of his workers from being laid off. That will mean missing the vacation he has planned with his wife, Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), and young daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). They’re heading to the Hundred Acre Wood while he’s stuck in London with work, when he gets a visit from his old friend Pooh. But he’s not the same person Pooh remembers.


Picture and video: copyright Disney

Official: New "Oaken" Coaster Added to HKDL Frozen Land, Opening in 2021!

Well, finally, it seems that the new HKDL Frozen land rendering which was leaked some weeks ago was the right one, meaning that a coaster like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has been added to the Frozen land, with the train now designed like a train sleds - see picture below - and, as written in the new official description below, guests "will enjoy an exciting family thrill ride that traverses the natural landscape, built by Wandering Oaken for this special occasion". At WDW the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train enter the Dwarfs mine and, here, for this newly themed Frozen version a closer look at the rendering seems to indicate that the train is also coming out of a cave - with snow on the top -  but whatever will be seen inside it remain to be known.

“In this time of happily-ever-after, peace and prosperity have returned to the kingdom of Arendelle. Queen Elsa has now embraced her magical ice powers, and she and Princess Anna have created a Summer Snow Day for the merriment of the kingdom. Guests are invited to take part in this joyous occasion and celebrate the day that Anna saved Elsa with an act of true love. Guests can join a musical journey to Elsa’s Ice Palace and also venture across the bridge to explore the neighboring forest. They will enjoy an exciting family thrill ride that traverses the natural landscape, built by Wandering Oaken for this special occasion. Whatever discoveries and experiences guests enjoy, they will find that Arendelle offers countless opportunities for surprise and delight during this kingdom-wide celebration.”

There is more differences with the first rendering released last November and among them we can note that the fountain - bottom of the rendering below - is now being a "frozen" one - frozen by Elsa, for sure. Also added, a new mountain peak - the one that you can see below on the left to Elsa Ice Castle - though it'll be interesting to see if this one will be really built or is there just for the artwork.

Another change that i didn't noticed, so thanks to This is Mr B for this, is the change to the buildings in the front row near Arendelle lake - see pictures below, the new design is on the left, the old one on the right. It will help to don't have them hiding the houses on the row behind and to give more depth with a better tri-dimensional perspective.

You may also remember that, when HKDL did the expansion announcement another attraction with sleighs - artwork below - titled the "Oaken Magic Sleigh" ride was include in the Frozen land. No need to say that this one which apparently would have used the same technique than the Luigi's Rollicking Roadster ride at DCA Cars Land is probably cancelled.

HKDL Frozen land will open in 2021, a few years before another Frozen land open at Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studios. Will the WDS Frozen land have the same "Oaken sleds" coaster? Mmmh... could be, not sure at 100% for now, though.

More HKDL News will come soon, so stay tuned on D&M!

Pictures: copyright Disney

Thursday, May 24, 2018

HKDL Update: "Moana: A Homecoming Celebration" Premiere at Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland, New Visual For Ant-Man and the Wasp Attraction

"Moana: A Homecoming Celebration" Premiered today at Hong Kong Disneyland Adventureland. Hong Kong Main Street Gazette was there and filmed the whole show in 4K and you can watch the video below. It's a small show, much smaller than it looked like on the first released artwork but may be it's better like this. The show is located at Jungle Junction, close to Adventureland entrance, between Adventureland Jungle Cruise and the Tahitian Terrace restaurant.

“Moana: A Homecoming Celebration” – is now open for guests! This atmosphere stage show combines visual storytelling, dancing, puppetry and music to recount the adventures of Moana after she returns to her home village of Motunui.

Set in an all-new outdoor, open space venue in Adventureland, “Moana: A Homecoming Celebration” invites guests to interact with the performers as they share Moana’s travels with the demigod, Maui, to restore the heart of Te Fiti. This is the first show at any Disney park to feature the beloved and brave heroine.

The show features dozens of tailor-made props, specially created costumes and handcrafted decorations, all based on the animated film, “Moana”, and traditional Polynesian culture. The costumes themselves are more than a year in the making, inspired by styles traditionally worn in parts of the Pacific Islands including Fiji, Samoa and Tahiti.

In addition, guests can now meet Moana herself in Adventureland, with more offerings themed to the heroine coming to the resort later this summer.

Okay, here is the video, enjoy the show!

The next attraction to open at HKDL will be the Ant-Man and The Wasp ride next year and a new rendering has been released! The new HKDL attraction will be the second Marvel ride-through attraction experience guests can only have at Hong Kong Disneyland. In the new attraction, guests will team up with Ant-Man and The Wasp to fight Arnim Zola and his army of Hydra swarm bots in a thrilling new adventure!

As for the new Castle - which now will be finished in 2020 instead than 2019 -it will have 13 new turrets and the latest rendering is apparently the one below, after different versions with different colors released previously.

Pictures: copyright Disney

Video: copyright Hong Kong Main Street Gazette

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Is Universal Studios Planning a Star Trek Land For Universal Orlando 4th theme Park ?

We're back today at Universal Orlando for a new rumor, and this time it's about a Star Trek land that it seems Universal Creatives are thinking to include in the upcoming - but not announced yet - 4th Theme Park.

Lance Hart from Screamscape talked about Star Trek last month, but as a new show that would come eventually in the now extinct Terminator 2 3D building, and i asked my source if there was any truth in it. The reply was "Lance is correct that a live stage show is getting shuffled between the Bourne Identity or Star Trek, and a Star Trek Sci-Fi area is being highly considered to hit back WDW DHS Star Wars land. If Universal do a Star Trek Sci-Fi area, it will be very Sci-Fi city like and not too alien planet like most would think... and with an anchor attraction. And may be something very similar to the recently announced Sci-Fi "Transformers" area going to Universal Beijing"

Apparently Universal don’t want to make just a generic themed area like Tomorrowland. According to my source, "the days of random themed areas with 5 IPs around each other are gone and they are going to transition each area nicely". By the way, talking about the T2 3D building, my source added that "the Shrek attraction is safe until they come up with whatever will take over the old Terminator building".

So, apparently it seems that so far it'll be either a Bourne Identity or a Star Trek attraction that will come in the T2 3D building. OR they'll keep Star Trek as the "Tomorrowland" land for the 4th theme park, which in my opinion will be a much better idea.

The problem with the Star Trek universe is that there is ennemies but not necessarily a lot of iconic planet locations, visually speaking. I don't mean that there is no memorable planets in the Star Trek series, i mean that, except for the Trekkies, they are less known by a wide audience than the Star Wars planets. Anyway, you see  what i mean...

The real icon of the series is the Enterprise - everybody knows the ship, even non Trekkies - and each Star Trek fan is dreaming to be on board of the Enterprise. So, what they should do if Universal Creatives have the guts - and the money! - to do it is to build a giant real size Enterprise like the one that was planned for Las Vegas years ago, and unfortunately cancelled. And then to have the attractions inside it. Here is the rendering of the Las Vegas project which was designed at that time by Landmark Entertainment, the previous company of Gary Goddard.

Okay, it's huge, i agree, but, hey, it's the size of the ENTERPRISE! The other good point in the idea of building a real size Enterprise for a Star Trek land is the spaceship crew. You can make the spaceship "alive" with dozens of cast-members / actors / extras who would each play their role and will contribute to create an immersive and reliable Star Trek experience. They did it in a smaller scale at the now extinct Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas and it worked pretty well ( see video below).

Talking about Star Trek Experience, let's have a look back at it with a previous D&M article with originals artworks - painted by the great Eric Heschong who unfortunately passed away - as it might help you to visualize what i mean, how great the theming could be and why Universal should build a Star Trek land in the future 4th theme park.

Previous Disney and more article: 

I will begin by what was probably the most incredible idea for a Star Trek theme park/attraction concept with the rendering above. As you can see this incredible concept envisioned a REAL SIZE Enterprise, and we all know how huge is supposed to be the Enterprise! Inside, guests would have found themed Star Trek attractions. Please double-click on the image to see the artwork in high-resolution as it is a big WOW!

This amazing project unfortunately not realised has a story. Years ago, the Las Vegas Down Town hotels association, aware that the new Strip's hotels were getting most of the visitors, wanted to create a unique attraction to be located down town Las Vegas. Different companies created concepts, including Landmark with this amazing Star Trek concept, but, although they loved Landmark's idea their final choice went to the Fremont Street Experience.

When i saw that incredible rendering i thought that the biggest problem may have been the architecture engineering - after all the Enterprise is design for outerspace, not for Earth gravity. The front dome and the wings may have been an engineering problem, but it seems that, no, that was not the problem. An estimated cost around $200 M (at that time) was reasonable - specially considering the size, and all we can wish to this amazing project is to exist one day as it will be the "ultimate" Trekkie dream, finally existing for real.

The next rendering below shows a "night" scene of the same concept.

Now, as we know, another Star Trek attraction was finally built in Las Vegas. Unfortunately closed recently, the Star Trek Experience was incredibly successful at its opening - it was another Trekkie-wet-dream-come-true and i have many renderings of it for you today.

The Las Vegas Star Trek Experience attraction opened in January 1998 at the Las Vegas Hilton and closed in September 2008. When it opened the main attraction was a simulator ride called The Klingon Encounter. The pavilion underwent one major renovation in 2004 which added the Borg Invasion 4-D attraction, which used state-of-the-art amusement technology where guests experienced an encounter with the Borg. The artwork below released for the press before the opening in 1998 focus only on the first version of Star Trek Experience.

Above and below two beautiful renderings showing the entrance of Las Vegas Star Trek Experience.

After purchasing a ticket, which allowed the guest to board the attractions an unlimited amount of times that day, one walked through a museum that included numerous items from Star Trek history - top of the rendering below. It also featured several video display devices and a timeline of Star Trek events. Later, there were displays for each of the major alien races, which included the Borg, Klingons, and Ferengi. The last section of the museum was a hallway that served as the attraction queues. The left side was for the Borg Invasion 4-D, and the right side was for Klingon Encounter. Because the Borg ride held about twice as many people, that line moved more quickly (each show lasted about 18 minutes). The Klingon Encounter held 27 people while the Borg Invasion 4-D held 48 people. Each show was constructed so that those "in the back" for the first part of the show would, in turn, likely end up in the front for the second half of either show.

After the attraction guests could enjoyed the merchandise shop and especially the Quark's Bar that you can see on the rendering below.

The Klingon encounter attraction was the one at the opening. Initially, the visitors entered first a small room with a depiction of "outer space". A small television in the upper right corner of the room displayed scenes from several Star Trek movies.

The group then entered a smaller, dimly lit waiting area of a traditional simulator ride. Visitors lined up in rows in front of doors, as hosts direct their attention to the screens above for a safety demo for the shuttlecraft simulator ride. A few moments into the film, the televisions flickered, malfunctioned, and the lights went out. A variety of loud noises accompanied by hundreds of small light flashes that visually simulate the "transporter effect," along with the transporter sound effect and a rush of cold air (which, according to backstage tour guides, was an unintentional but appreciated effect caused by a false room being raised into the ceiling). When the lights returned, the walls and floor and ceiling have apparently disappeared and you were on a transporter pad (a room much larger than you were previously standing, without the doors you were ready to walk through!). You are now aboard the USS Enterprise-D, transporter room as seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

On the transporter pad, a uniformed Starfleet officer asked for the leaders of the group and directed them away for instruction. It was explained that the visitors were beamed aboard the Starship Enterprise to "what you would call the future" and the group is then led to the bridge.

The group stood on the rear between the science stations and the tactical station. There were various busy crewmembers on the bridge, and they contact Commander Riker, who promptly appears on the main viewscreen. Riker explained that Captain Picard disappeared the moment the group beamed aboard the Enterprise and thus one member of the group must be Picard's ancestor. A nefarious rogue Klingon Commander named Korath used a hidden time-rift to abduct Picard's ancestor and erase him from the timeline. Starfleet intelligence, having learned of the plan, dispatched the Enterprise to intercept the Klingon's transporter beam and rescue the entire group. Riker directs the group to board a shuttlecraft to go escape the temporal rift, and return all guests to their original time.

While the group was in the turbolift, the Klingons attack the Enterprise and the turbolift enters a free fall. There are several jolts on the turbolift during the attack. Finally, the group arrives in the Grand Corridor and at the shuttle bay deck.
Below, a rendering of the Grand Corridor.

The group boarded the shuttlecraft. The shuttle ride began with a battle between the Enterprise and a few Klingon vessels...

Then, the shuttle went into warp and was then instructed to find and destroy a cloaking generator on the planet's surface. There were several dogfights and visual effects during this time.

The shuttle then returned through the temporal rift to present-day Las Vegas (although filmed almost 10 years ago, things as the Sands Hotel tower, a sign promoting Siegfried & Roy, might lead one to believe the shuttle returned prior to their abduction). Unfortunately a Klingon ship followed, however Enterprise saved the shuttle at the last minute. The 'real' shuttle landed at the Las Vegas Hilton right next to the "motion simulators" shuttles the visitors were originally waiting to enter when they were "beamed off" at the start of the story. Before the crew of the Enterprise leaves, Captain Picard thanks the crew for "restoring his existence." He says, "While only one of you is my ancestor, each of you hold that same opportunity for the future. Guard it well."

Typically a custodian led the group to an elevator and then out to the Deep Space Nine Promenade and Quark's Bar.

A new attraction - Borg Encounter - was added in 2004, and you'll find more details about it on the Wikipedia page from where most of the description text of this article is coming from.

Another great idea of Star Trek Experience was the theming of the casino - we're in Las Vegas, let's not forget it...It was originally themed as if it was an outer space casino and through the window bays one could see views of outer space supposed to give the feeling that the casino was a kind of space station. Unfortunately after some years they canceled these rear-projections effect and when i visited the attraction five years ago it was not there any more.

I remember that I loved this Star Trek Experience, the teleportation room, the Enterprise bridge, the grand corridor, all this was wonderfully done, and i was sad to hear its closure in September 2008...

End of previous D&M article

And now here is a video showing the full Las Vegas Star Trek Experience with both the Klingon Encounter and the Borg Invasion. After the "live action" parts,  guests of the Klingon Encounter embark for a simulator ride and the Borg Invasion was a 4D experience, but the most important here is the acting part and the theming of the decors to show the potential that a Star Trek land can have to make the experience both immersive and enjoyable for Universal guests. That said, may be Universal won't do a Star Trek land in the new park but only an attraction in the T2 3D show building and that will be all what we'll get...

One more thing: the Star Trek license may look less solid than the Star Wars one and years ago, before the new movies, we could hear that "the Star Trek license was dead", but the truth is that it's not dead at all with the new TV series Star Trek : Discovery which started last year and two new movies in preparation, including one rumored to be directed by  ...Quentin Tarantino! And most of all Star Trek is not only about battles with Klingon or Borgs but also about a positive vision of the future and hope between intergalactic races and, boy, do we need a bright vision of the future, don't we? So, go ahead Universal and build a Star Trek land, do it right with plenty of live action and extras and it will be a success from day one!

Artwork: copyright Landmark, Landmark entertainment, Star Trek is copyright Paramount Pictures and CBS