As the newest entry into the Disney Cruise Line fleet prepares to make her on-sea debut, Walt Disney Imagineering provides us this glimpse into providing the final touches on the interior of the ship. The lengthy video gives some great imagery of nearly-finished areas including the awe-inspiring atrium and its incredible LED-lit chandelier.
Via its official vinylmation blog, Disney Design Group also decided to reveal the vinylmation figures that will be exclusive to the Disney Dream when it makes its maiden voyage on January 26. The 9″ figure, designed by Dan Howard, is similar to those previously released for the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. It will retail for $44.95 and is limited to an edition size of just 750 pieces. The two 3″ Admiral Donald figures will come as a boxed set (including a Vinylmation Jr figure) and were designed by Lisa Badeen. The boxed set is limited to just 1,000 pieces and retails for $24.95. Not only available to just those sailing on the maiden voyage, the ability to purchase the Vinylmation figures is restricted to a Random Selection Process (RSP).
To see the vinylmation set’s box, as well as many of the other items available to Disney Dream maiden voyage participants via RSP and auctions, you can check out the official merchandise list here.
I am pleased to announce that I will be participating in the maiden voyage and look forward to bringing you first-hand reports of my experiences from the ship as well as hopefully returning with some of the exclusive merchandise pictured.
JayTV, in association with HGTV, is in pre-production for a brand new series which will feature Orlando-area families who are looking to transform their backyards with potential into the next great Orlando theme park attraction (or reasonable facsimile thereof).
Casting is underway right now, so the producers are inviting interested families in the area to submit an application along with a photo of their family and a wide shot of their existing backyard to be considered as part of the show.
Just how magical the transformation will turn out is anyone’s guess right now, but there has been speculation that both Walt Disney World and Walt Disney Imagineering may be involved in the makeover process. A recent article in the Orlando Business Journal does quote a source confirming that the Walt Disney World Resort is ‘exploring a program concept with HGTV’ but is otherwise non-committal at this time.
For more information on ‘Magical Backyard’ and to apply for a backyard makeover, visit the show’s casting website.
On August 19, the International Board of the TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) selected 40-year attractions industry veteran Rick Rothschild, founder and chief creative officer of FAR OUT! Creative Direction and creative director at Global Immersion, as its next President. Rothschild, best known for his three decades as creative executive with Walt Disney Imagineering, will formally commence his term in November.
“I welcome the opportunity that the International Board of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) has extended in selecting me as President for the upcoming year,” said Rothschild. “For TEA, serving the global community of those who create compelling guest experiences and places, this next year is significant as it leads up to the 20th anniversary of TEA’s founding. I look forward to leading the TEA International Board in its efforts, to building on the legacy of the past two decades, and to helping plan the next 20 years – as we look towards continued growth and improvement of benefits for the members of this important and unique association.”
A former creative executive with and current consultant to Walt Disney Imagineering, Rothschild’s projects include directing the creation of Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and bringing back the Captain EO attraction. Blending a unique set of entertainment skills developed over 40 years of experience in the world of theater, Disney theme parks, media and museums, Rick Rothschild brings a deep technical knowledge together with a strong creative perspective to provide both vision and direction to any project.
Rothschild is also part of Global Immersion’s creative technology team supporting the development of unique planetarium and immersive theater experiences worldwide. Along with the responsibility of creatively directing and producing over 25 separate Disney attractions during a 30-year tenure as a creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, Rick led and participated in a variety of concept development teams that explored new attractions, complete theme parks and other resort, recreation and immersive experience related business lines. His work at Disney also included consulting with a number of prestigious museums and institutions around the United States.
“Rick Rothschild’s background with entertainment and education projects alike, and his understanding of both creative design and tech design enable him to effectively address the needs of museums along with theme parks and to speak to all TEA membership and market sectors,” says sitting TEA president Steven J. Thorburn PE, of Thorburn Associates Inc.. “Rick Rothschild has all the ‘right stuff’ to take the Themed Entertainment Association and the business communities it serves into the new, post-recession global commerce environment: creative dynamism, innovative spirit, leadership quality plus rich experience and a long line of successes at the epicenter of our industry. I look forward to passing Rick the gavel in established TEA tradition this November, when TEA convenes at the IAAPA Attractions Expo.”
Video: NASA Summit Provides Rare Insight into Imagineering; Little Mermaid 3D Model and Kim Possible Expansion?
NASA recently concluded its first Information Technology Summit in National Harbor, Maryland at which Jack Blitch, Vice President and General Manager of Walt Disney Imagineering Florida, delivered an amazing presentation to the attendees full of videos, photos and information rarely available to the eyes and ears of the public. Fortunately for those many of us who couldn’t attend the summit and attend the presentation, C-SPAN did and has made the summit available online, which we now present to you below:
During his twenty-plus years with Imagineering, Blitch served as Project Executive for the construction of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and worked other projects such as Star Tours, Tower of Terror, the new Tomorrowland, Blizzard Beach and Soarin’.
Created in 2006, ‘Come Out & Play’ is a free weekend-long street game festival inviting players from all around the world to engage in real world games and activities — often based on video games — that encourage exploration of the home city.
Walt Disney Imagineering is a partner in this year’s festival which takes place in Brooklyn, NY from June 4 – 6. WDI’s contribution to the festival comes in the form of a real world MMO titled Unwritten Storybook in which up to 50 players will compete and collaborate with each other to accomplish various tasks such as building a castle or herding unicorns. You can learn more about this particular event here.
For more information on the festival and for directions on participating in specific events (advanced in-person registration on a first come, first serve basis is required), check out the official ‘Come Out & Play’ website.
As a follow up to a recent press event at Walt Disney Imagineering, previewing some of the new tech-driven entertainment features to be offered on the Disney Dream, Disney Cruise Line has just released the following video demonstrating some of the new and exciting items.
Included in the video demo are the interactive magic play floor, the Finding Nemo experience at the Animator’s Palate, the inside staterooms’ virtual porthole (featuring the house from UP and Peach from Finding Nemo) and the enchanted art which plays home to the detective adventure game as well as other innovative interactive experiences.
Pages of banter and speculation have arisen from the photo of the model of the new Fantasyland Fantasy Forest expansion at the Magic Kingdom ever since we first brought it to you (incidentally, you can see a close-up of the model’s Sleeping Beauty cottage in the spring 2010 issue of D23 magazine). Much of which has to do with the plans for Pixie Hollow, for which the model shows an attraction similar to a new one coming to Disney’s California Adventure, but some say said plans have since been scrapped in favor of a ‘next generation,’ interactive meet & greet with the Disney fairies.
Fuel for this speculation can also be found in this Inside Walt Disney Imagineering video released by Disney Parks back in August. You’ll find the element in question in the 2:16 – 2:22 range in which Tink herself makes an appearance.
So what is it? Thanks to newly granted US patent #7652824, we may just have been provided the answer.
The patent, titled System and/or method for combining images, looks at ways to ‘plus’ a very aged but still convincing theatrical effect known as Pepper’s ghost, which is often used in existing Disney attractions, most notably the Haunted Mansion. However, the patented system takes Pepper’s ghost well into the 21st century making use of computers to dynamically generate the interactive images and backgrounds that can be superimposed onto the reflective surface the guest is viewing, which also undoubtedly builds on existing technology used for Stitch and Crush interactive interactions already in the parks.
Essentionally this means that the next time you see Tinker Bell, she may literally appear right before your eyes. Allowing the physical elements to be dynamically moved, Tink can appear to be flying next to you or even in front and behind you. And that’s just the tip of the virtual iceberg.
Not only will you be able to vocally interact with Tink, but sophisticated sensors and technology will allow Tink to be able to dynamically determine how many guests are in the room with you, focus on various physical aspects of yours and follow your movements. She’ll literally be able to look you (or another member in your group) in the eye. She’ll be able to appear to touch you, interact in different ways such as visually appearing to place virtual Mouse Ears on your head (if you aren’t wearing them already) and more. She can even grow or shrink dynamically to be more suitable to your own (automatically determined) height. She may also be able to dynamically interact with physical objects such as laser pointers or bluetooth enabled devices.
Of course this is just one possible implementation of the patent. It can easily be adapted to shows or attractions, so there’s no telling where this technology may dynamically appear.
No, this isn’t one of those reports talking about the online petition going around to coerce Disney Parks into transforming Tom Sawyer’s Island into a LOST attraction. This is a report on a report from Movie|Line which claims to have a source that reveals that there is in fact an attraction based on the popular ABC series in the works at Walt Disney Imagineering. Along with the disclaimer that everything is subject to change, the report goes as far as to say that Imagineering ‘insiders’ had been caught talking about the project at the International Associations of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAPPA) show in Las Vegas.
The article then goes on to explain that the attraction is set to use the same KUKA robotic arm that’s being used by fellow Disney attraction ‘The Sum of All Thrills’ in Epcot’s Innoventions and will be also used by Universal Studios Orlando.
You can read the report here.
After Harriet Burns — the first female Walt Disney Imagineer — passed away in July 2008, daughter Pam Burns-Clair received such an outpouring of love complete with colorful stories of her mother from family and friends, both personal and professional, that she decided to create a tribute book. Together with co-author Don Peri, they solicited and received many more stories about Harriet and they all are gathered in Walt Disney’s First Lady of Imagineering, Harriet Burns along with many photos of Harriet not yet seen by the public.
Through this limited edition hard cover, coffee-table style book, you will discover the range and depth of Harriet’s impact on those lives she touched whether as a mother, grandmother, relative, mentor, co-worker or friend. The stories will bring a smile or a tear (or more likely both) and will contribute to an understanding and appreciation of this tiny woman with a heart as big as her native Texas.
Hosted by Imagineer Diego Parras, the documentary uses historical and rare film footage to show the story of the transformation of swampland in central Florida to the most visited theme park in the world today through the stories and direct recollections of respected Imagineers such as Tom Fitzgerald, Tony Baxter, Kathy Rogers, Eric Jacobson, Kevin Rafferty and — of course — Marty Sklar, the only individual to open all 11 Disney parks.
“Our Imagineering the Magic: Disneyland DVD has been one of most successful park DVDs,” commented Betsy Singer, Product Developer for Disney Theme Park Merchandise. “Our guests enjoy the behind the magic stories and inspiration that the Imagineers bring to these videos and we hope they will enjoy Imagineering the Magic: Magic Kingdom as much as they have our first DVD.”
Imagineering the Magic: MagicKingdom has a suggested retail price of $29.95 and is currently available at both the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts as well as through WDW Merchandising at 407-363-6200.
The Imagineering the Magic series was created by Richard Skillman and co-produced by Richard with Cameron Roberts ,Greg Jones and Mark Rhodes of D7, a Disney production partner.