Friday, September 7, 2007

Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion leaks

No, not water leaks. But some cast members (and a few lucky guests) have been allowed to ride through the Haunted Mansion while WDI puts on the final touches. This is what I've heard so far:

  • Guests will encounter the first changes with a new covered queue and a cemetery that has received some care.
  • The stretching room has been significantly improved. The candelabra Gargoyles now turn their heads and there is a cool 'flying bat' effect when the lights good out. Think the Indiana Jones Adventure darts. This should really freak out many of the attractions fans, young and old.
  • New effects involving wind, thunder, and lightning have gone into the portrait hall.
  • Madame Leota's crystal ball is now the same floating effect as Disneyland.
  • Also like Disneyland is the new storyline added into the attic scene. The bride is now more obviously a serial murderess and the objects of her affairs are strewn about.
  • Finally, the whole mansion has received a once over updating everything to near original glory. This includes the Omnimover audio, which had been getting very bad in parks.
What I haven't heard is any mention of the new "Hogwarts" stairs scene where the spiders were? Budget cuts?

The Haunted Mansion is scheduled to re-open to the public on the 12th or 13th of September.

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Rumor Report

Here's a bunch of stuff I heard about over the last week or so. Please continue to send rumors and reports of changes to disneygossip@gmail.com.

Magic Kingdom
After sitting in storage last holiday season it sounds like The Country Bear Jamboree Christmas Show will be returning this year. I sincerely hope so, but so far, there is no official confirmation.

Monsters Inc Laugh Floor cast members are in rehearsals for an upgrade to the video and audio portions of the attraction. Apparently we've only been seeing about half of what can be done here. Let's hope they give it some repeatability too.

Spectromagic is in the middle of some upgrades over at the Magic Kingdom. The Spectromen have lost their freaky light up masks and now have Cirque de Soliel-esque face-paint and light-up wigs. Many of the floats are getting some much needed TLC. There are rumors of even more changes coming too.

Disney-MGM Studios
The Great Movie Ride is losing the Aliens section (which is fine by me, too scary for a family attraction) and the Bank explosion (apparently too expensive). Also there are some script changes happening including removing all the classic references in the Tarzan section. Aliens will be replaced with... you guessed it, Pirates of The Caribbean movie scenes (or perhaps Narnia, although Lord Of The Rings was being talked about too).

Epcot
There are reports that Epcot has been testing some new fireworks recently, this probably confirms rumors that a new firework show is being developed for Epcot. There have also been persistent rumors that Epcot will be getting another parade soon, perhaps with a parade route that leads from the front of the park to the World Showplace.

Leave it to the Imagineers to test whenever or where every they can. Reports place WDI operating on the Body Wars simulators in Epcot's old Wonders of Life pavilion. The testing is supposedly for Star Tours 2.0 that is going to Tokyo Disneyland for sure, and rumored to be going to Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland.

Disney's Hollywood Studios
High School Musical 2 street show at Disney-MGM Studios is supposed to roll out soon with scenes and songs from the HSM2 movie. It's possible that the theater for the old Hunchback of Notre Dame show would reopened and a High School Musical show installed there permanently. Right now all of the Osborne Lights are stored in the location, so they'd have to find somewhere else to store those. This seems like a great long term solution for Disney to capitalize on the HSM craze at its theme parks.

Disney's Animal Kingdom
A new parade called "Rivers of Light" is in planning at DAK. I don't know if it is valid rumor or confusion about this being turned into a water show. "The Wonderful World of Color" water show going into Disney's California Adventure may be getting ported to DAK in 2009. I don't see Joe Rhode allowing this to happen.

Disneyland Resort
Pixar PlayPals Parade, is the name of the new parade for Disney's California Adventure. It will roll out in the Spring season next year. The current parade Block Party is on its way to Disney-MGM Studios.

Tony Baxter's Little Mermaid attraction for originally planned Disneyland Paris may instead now be headed for DCA. If you want a preview check out the special features on last year's release of the Little Mermaid DVD. It features a virtual ride through of the attraction.

Disney Movies & TV
Not only is Disney going to remake Witch Mountain, but the've cast Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in it.

Disney also has their eyes set on landing George Lucas' Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, and hopefully the live action series that will follow. This is key to developing a relationship that would allow Disney and Lucas to develop many more theme park properties.

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Cast Member Confessions

Every once and a while you find a real gem of a post out there in cyberland. This is a recently hired Disney-MGM Studios College Program Cast Member posting on their blog. Sounds like she works in the photo area of Twilight Zone Tower of Terror quite a bit.

I had some stupid guests who couldn't decide what size photo they wanted, and then they couldn't decide if they wanted a frame or what frame to get...OMG YOU DON'T NEED A FREAKIN' FRAME!!!! YOU'RE JUST GOING TO KICK YOURSELF FOR BUYING A STUPID $20 PICTURE FROM A RIDE AND AN EVEN STUPIDER FRAME FOR $25!!!! AAAAHHHH!!!!!!
She then goes on to discuss what happens back in the "photo editing" booth where inappropriate images are weeded out before being shown to guest
Photo edit is soooooo my happy place... And, I actually had to edit photos today. I had multiple rude hand gestures, a boy flashing (our "to be deleted" sheet says remove flashing...it's not gender specific, and you could tell the kid was trying to be an ass, so I took a great deal of pleasure in deleting him :D), a woman's shirt coming open and showing her bra, and someone pretending to choke someone else. And the best part of photo editing...when people ask the people at photo why their picture isn't showing up...Honestly, it's not that hard to just sit in the ride car and be appropriate. You can pose if you want, but if you're going to be an ass and do something stupid, or you're an idiot and wear a top that can come undone/fall down/is WAAAAAY too loose in the boob area, don't be surprised when we delete it.
I'm leaving the best story for last. You'll want to click through and read the whole post. But here is how it starts:
Today, Stacy was attending at MGM (please remember, MGM, where the big sorceror hat is the park icon), and while out attending, she and another attendant received a very interesting question... The girl she was working with is from (I think) South America, but is American and speaks English very well with a slight accent. A guest came up to them and asked the girl "What time does the castle appear?"
It only gets better from there folks.

Sadly, I don't think this is an anonymous blog. So go read it now before it gets deleted or she gets fired.

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Tomorrowland E-Ticket Rumor

Last year there was a rumor that Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain would get a major makeover, perhaps a new track, and certainly new special effects. That hasn't happened, although the rumor persists. As part of that makeover, the old Tomorrowland Skyway station would have been converted into a sit-down restaurant with a futuristic eco-green theme.

Now, I'm hearing a rumor of a new E-ticket that might pop up nearby in Tomorrowland. It's being reported that the Galaxy Palace Theater and the old Tomorrowland Skyway building may be demolished to build a new big budget, and hopefully high capacity, attraction.

I'm not sure how much faith I put in this rumor. First, I don't think it's logistically possible without crossing over the train tracks. The footprint of the Skyway station is actually quite small and backs right up against the railroad. Second the Galaxy Palace Theater is not that big of a space and most of it juts out into the already valuable backstage parking and work area. Third, the Carousel of Progress sits in the middle of those two buildings.

Now, I would love to see it happen anyway. It would be possible to send the queue or an Omnimover or roller coaster track over or under the train tracks. The Galaxy Palace Theater could be converted into a show building. But if you're going to cross the train tracks, why not just place the show building over there. There is plenty of room between the pond and Space Mountain.

Here's one reason why I think something might be happening -- sight lines. With the construction of the new DVC tower (come on everyone knows its DVC) at the Contemporary, a big Watergate hotel looking building will suddenly be very visible from inside Tomorrowland. Putting a big ol' themed show building outside the berm/railroad tracks will go a long way to hide the new tower.

Let's think... what attraction is already in WDI's arsenal, but has no stateside equivalent. How about Journey To The Center Of The Earth from Tokyo DisneySea? What would you like to see there?

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Spaceship Earth Rumors

With Epcot purists happy now that the wand is gone, thoughts are turning to what is going on inside the geodesic sphere. The attraction signs are down from the entrance with new LED lit signs on order; and all signs point toward serious work under way inside Spaceship Earth too.

The attraction vehicles are being fitted with their new TV screens. When all are installed, there will be some sort of interactive element with the attraction. The Disney Blog had a photo of the new screens back in early August.

A few permits have been filed to modify some of the special effects in the attraction. There has also been some work on the lighting system throughout the attraction. This doesn't surprise me since the new sponsor manufactures light bulbs and would want them used in the attraction where ever possible.

Patrick Stewart (X-men, Star Trek) is rumored to be the new narrator. Bruce Broughton has been asked to compose the score. Broughton's work for Disney includes Ellen's Energy Adventure and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. I'm also hearing a new recording of "Tomorrow's Child" will be featured in the attraction.

More news and rumors as I get them. If you have any you'd like to share you can email me at disneygossip@gmail.com.

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Resort Expansion

Lots of news in the resort expansion front this week. Starting on the west coast, there has been lots of speculation about Disney building two hotels over at the Anaheim Garden Walk property. This is something I saw coming as soon as the AGW property was announced. However, it seems that concept art, architect drawings, and other more serious signs are showing up in the usual places. These properties would be targeted not at the usual family visitor, but rather at the young and hip and those looking for more of a spa/nightclub experience.

If these two new hotels are built they will be in addition to the new hotel that is planned for the property to the west of Disneyland Hotel right now. Expect a fourth hotel as part of the Disney Vacation Club too.

Speaking of the DVC, I wrote about the Oahu Hawaii possibility last week. Now two international destinations have been added to the list. Japan at Tokyo Disneyland and Spain on the Costa Del Sol (check out the August newsletter at this link), are being talked about as possible Urban Entertainment Centers (UEC) locations. This would be a combination of Hotel/DVC/Water Park with possible other attraction elements involved.

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