Fantasyland Expansion: Through the Years   Leave a comment

New Fantasyland officially opens on December 6th! That’s tomorrow! It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since Bob Iger got up on stage at the D23 Expo and announced the Expansion. I recall fist hearing about the leaked blueprints and shrugging them off. “Too extreme,” I though. But boy was I wrong!

Let’s take a look back at construction. My first pictures start in  Fall 2009 and run through November 24th, 2012  (do note that some of these events may be a little out of order. That’s just how I had these older images archived).

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Posted December 5, 2012 by Imagineer2017 in Opinions, Parks

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WDW Trip Report: November 24-25   2 comments

A POST TURKEY DAY ADVENTURE TO NEW FANTASYLAND AND TEST TRACK

Say, what’s that Castle up there?

Mysterious stairs to nowhere!

Looks like The Beast is going to let me in!

Very chatty suits of armor.
I loved when whenever one would sneeze and the others would all say ‘bless you’

Sign reminding you not to let your kids order wine. The Beast doesn’t like drunk kiddies.

So ornate! So pretty! So much snow!

Shiny!

So ornate! So eerie! So dark!
(my room of choice for lunch)

So ornate! So….eh. The Rose Gallery is bland. The Music Box is pretty though!

As are the rose mosaic floors

The meal was phenomenal! Well worth that 20 minute wait in line. I ordered the Croque Monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich). Crispy, warm, cheesy!  Best sandwich I’ve had on property. And that’s exactly what the Magic Kingdom needed: really good quick service food.
And for as long as the lines were, there were still dozens of available tables. Food came quickly; about 2-3 minutes after I had sat down. Speak of which, food brought to the table? Classy. I think this is how all quick services should be.

WATER! I love the water in this land! As well as the height. The castle bridge is very high up! It’s crazy.

No one gets a line like Gaston!
And even though he had a large queue, he decided to move into the shade. Because he can. He’s Gaston.

Mermaid! The Castle looks a thousand times better in the day than it does at night. Deep Blue just does not work on the facade. Not with that rock work.

I cannot stress WATER enough. It’s so great. And helps keep the queue cool!

Mine Train is coming along. Here, you can see the rock work beginning to take shape.

I’m curious to see what that building will be themed to- Mermaid or Snow White?

Walkway into Circus is open. A large temporary gate is in place to allow construction vehicle an entrance into Mine Train.

Over in Circus, a new railroad bumper has been added over the fake rails. Because a fence wasn’t enough to stop a train from falling off the edge.

Epcot:

New food kiosk isn’t as intrusive or large as I thought. But it’s still a poor addition. #CommuniCutter

Test Track isn’t yet open, but everything is in place. Cast Members have been previewing, WDI has been tweaking, and Reedy Creek is set to make their safety check walk through on Monday (Nov. 26). Once the safety checks are complete, and WDI is done, Soft Openings can begin.

Even during the day it sparkles!

Up close. I think that the Blue Blob is supposed to look like a car, a plane, a boat, a hovercraft, etc. Basically, it’s meant to be whatever kind of transportation you want! Just like how you can make your car anything you want.

World of Motion logo on the wait time signage!
Here’s the normal queue…

…and the Single Rider/Fastpass side. Take a look at that typeface; it’s World Bold (old school Epcot font)!

Here’s a little sneak inside the queue! The white and black thing looks like it may be the EVN, a 2-passenger Chevy concept vehicle. Epcyclopedia first suggested that we may wee the ENV make an appearance in the new queue, and it appears he was right!

My impressions: it’s sleek. Super sleek. The new color scheme is wonderful on that building; it’s the exact colors that it needed. The new music sounds cool, but I’d like to hear it in context of the queue. The Blue Blob is huge. Up close, I can start to see it’s resemblance of a car. Oh, and it’s extremely shiny. I was standing behind the tree in World Showcase Promenade and I could still see it shining.  It will blind you. The giant T which I claimed was tacky looks very good. You don’t really see it until you pass the monorail beam, so it’s well hidden. But when you do see it, it blends right in. After having seen the concept art of the queue, it appears that this T-shape is used as an archway all over the queue, so the one outside works right in with that.

ALSO:

Let’s make one quick stop at the Contemporary, where the giant Mickey Wreath awaits hanging. It’s big!

I’ll do a whole ‘nother report just on the pretty decoration next time around. Until then, see ya!

Posted November 26, 2012 by Imagineer2017 in Attractions, News

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Trip Report and My New Fantasyland Review   Leave a comment

Hey there everyone! I’m back from an exciting 3 day trip to WDW. Not only did I get chance to stay in the CarsLand-lite wing of Art of Animation (which I may discuss next time), I also got chance to experience New Fantasyland during an open dress rehearsal! I’ll start with the news, and then wrap up with my review of the new area.

At Epcot:

Work is underway in the Innoventions Plaza. I’ve heard rumours of them removing the tarps, adding additional seating for Electric Umbrella, and even installing a centralized Fastpass location.

Character Spot has been temporarily relocated to the old Epcot 25th Display area while a new home is constructed for them near the park entrance. The room has been emptied of all it’s displays, but has retained the large opening-day ticket mural for use as a backdrop.

Quick look at Test Track progress. The Disney Parks Blog posted images of what the new signage will look like (In a word, tacky).

Over at Norway, the waterfall was turned off again. Even odder, the sword I mentioned last time has been removed. It lasted a whole three weeks.

At Studios:

Don’t blink! I found this Weeping Angel in Tower of Terror’s queue! Now the ride is even more frightening….

The Jack Sparrow Experience’s paint has spread over to the side of the building near One Man’s Dream.

And now, Magic Kingdom:

New Mermaid effect in Pirates is really cool! Catches you off guard. I still find the pacing weird, and the Mermaids’ Song is wrong for that area of the ride.

“Hi Jack!”

Here’s a look at what’s going on at the old Skyway plot. Rockwork, thatched roofs,  no meet and greet stuff,  some work on Small World (possibly to better tie it into the new area), and Yankee Trader work.

Pete’s Silly Sideshow is open. The calliope still isn’t playing, and Pete is still static. This is a real shame, as that is a real working colliope they pulled from Disneyland Paris.

A new sign bids farewell to all those who experienced Storybook Circus at the Tomorrowland walkway. The Tomorrowland end, on the other hand, is as uninviting and off-limits looking as ever.

Now, moving into New Fantasyland….Here’s this month’s castle wall panorama:

Are we open!? No…Cast Member previews are going on during the day. Here’s a look at Mine Train.

But what about at night? Ah, there’s when we can get in!
I figured there would be previews during the night hours of the park, as they had been opening it to Mickey’s Not So Scary party guests each night. Low and behold, it was opened up after Wishes performed.

Beauty and the Beast Realm:

The wait time for Enchanted Tales hovered around an hour during my time there, so I had to skip it.
The Beast’s castle off in the distance was very strange to me. We saw it go up all those months ago (gee, guess it’s been about a year, hasn’t it?!), and know it’s real size, yet, when you see it from the cottage with it’s windows all glowing gold, it looks huge! The forced perspective works crazy well! Speaking of the castle, Be Our Guest is beautiful! I especially love the mural of Beast and Belle off to the side. I was very impressed with the snow effect- very convincing!. One of my concerns with the restaurant was that the Ballroom looked a little small. Fortunately  the room looks much bigger in person than it does in videos! Gaston’s Tavern looked pretty nice! I didn’t get chance to explore most of it because it was packed. I did get to try out a LeFou’s Brew, though. It was surprisingly tasty. The apple works very well, but the foam topping was kinda nasty. I think this concoction would benfit from a name change. Something with ‘Cider’ in the name.
Bonjour Village Gifts was….small. I walked in, hit the back wall and expected to find another side room. It’s small, but nice. I guess it doesn’t need to be big, seeing as it’s only purpose it to stock Beauty and the Beast themed goods (and house the weird Phil Holmes portrat!).


Mermaid Realm:

Mermaid is absolutely gorgeous. The amount of water and the scale of the rockwork is beautiful! I’m not crazy about the lighting package, or really it at night at all, but the size and scope is huge!
The queue was lots of fun. The interactive element with the crabs was pretty nifty. People didn’t seem to understand it, and would just look at the crabs. Sadly, this causes a massive clog-up. People stopped at each crab station and wait for the crabs to reappear. Once the crab section was passed, there was no wait. Unfortunately  this means that people just walked past the awesome Animatronic Scuttle in the queue without really noticing him.
The ride itself was an unexpected surprise. I had seen videos of the California version dozens of times, so I knew what to expect. But it was nothing like I expected. I think what wowed me the most wasn’t the animatronics or effects or any of that, but the intimatcy of each scene. You seem close enough to reach out and touch the characters at some points! The Ariel animatronics were much smaller than I expected, as well. She seemed short and child-sized. That’s perfect for this ride though. The smallness of the ride’s scenes- and even clamobiles- shows that this is an attraction for kids; it’s scaled to them.
There are still quite a number of kinks to be worked out though. The main issue is lighting. At multiple points in the ride, bare walls and AC ducts are noticeable (notably the Flotsam and Jetsam scene) because there is too much light. The other issue are the animatronics and figures. Flotsam and Jetsam haven’t worked since soft openings began.
Overall, this is one great D-Ticket Darkride.

Ride through with me!

One of the things I got of the new area was size. I felt conflicted. While I understand that this expansion plot is huge, and much of it is still behind a wall, I felt like the space was used well. That made it feel small for some reason. When I walked through the Mermaid queue, I felt like I had hit the back of the park pretty quickly. Yet, I still knew how much space that was. I don’t know how to explain it.

My overall impression of these new areas: Wonderful. The amount of theming I could see (keep in mind there’s minimal lighting at night) was unlike anything else in the Magic Kingdom. The elevations and waterways were so drastically unlike anything else in just about any of the parks. The amount of water and foliage was exactly what the park needed. This expansion will only get ten times better when Mine Train is covered with green. And then even better than that once it opens.

That’s what I’ve got to say on New Fantasyland. Hope you enjoyed! Remember to follow me on Twitter and Facebook!

Update for October 20th, 2012   1 comment

Here’s a News Round-Up, And Some Food For Thought

Mermaids Ahoy!

This past Friday, Mermaids were finally added to Pirates of the Caribbean at WDW. The new scene is placed directly after the waterfall, and spills over into the following beach scene as well. As the boats pass the waterfall, the mermaids’ song begins to play, and a mermaid swims past. A mermaid skeleton now lies on the beach. Take a look:


Video Via Attractions Magazine

I think the effect looks really cool, and that’s just based on videos. I’m excited to see it in person. Sadly, though, I feel that the addition of the mermaids in that location seems a little odd. Yes, it is the most logical place to add them. But they don’t exactly work right there. Not because they don’t fit, but because it throws the pacing of the opening scene off. The opening scene shouldn’t have dialogue other than “Dead Men Tell No Tales”. Placement is my issue, but not because they don’t belong right there. Placement is the issue because there is so much other stuff going on in that spot. You travel through the caverns. Suddenly, you have Blackbeard shoved into your face (literally!). As soon as you get out of the waterfall, there go the mermaids. As soon as they swim off, there’s the beach. I just feel there should be more spacing and breathing room. The opening scene should be slowly paced, quiet, empty, and foreboding. It shouldn’t be filled with mermaid songs and constant action.The mermaids are a welcome addition, but it feels like there’s little breathing room in what should be a spaced out, slow, quiet, and eerie set of scenes.
I think that I would like this new addition even more if the waterfall projection was removed, and the Mermaids’ Song wasn’t being played. Like I said to@ThemeparkZach and @EPCOTExplorer, I’d like it if the caves became progressively darker, and the mermaids’ voices slowly become louder. Remove the signing, and replace it with the mermaids’ eerie siren wails and shrieks.

A Country Hoedown!

This past Wednesday, The Country Bear Jamboree re-opened after a scheduled refurbishment. Fans were worried that the show would be bowdlerized, cut down, made ‘politically correct’, and that Big Al would be removed. As the doors reopened,  fans were treated to a refreshed show complete with newly dressed/skinned/costumed bears. But much to their chagrin, about five minutes of the show was cut. Two songs were removed, and a few lines of dialogue were cut. Curiously though, the more questionable songs remained in the show. Many fans claimed that with the removal of some dialogue the show seems choppy. To me, the show always seemed choppy, and the dialogue all over the place. On the plus side, The New York Times reports that during the refurb, the ride control was changed, allowing Disney to easily install holiday shows again.
Personally, I am not a Country Bears fan. I like the history, the Animatronics, and the concept of an Animatronic show, but I can’t stand the music. So I’m not really torn up over this. Didn’t like the show then, don’t like it now.
Regardless, while it is unfortunate to lose showtime, the Imagineers working on the project put out a lot of great work. I find it very neat that they went back to the original Marc Davis sketches to use as reference when redressing the bears. That’s something aimed right at fans. So it is slightly upsetting that when WDI did go out of their way to do something we would appreciate and refurbed a classic attraction- just like we’ve been wanting- they get nothing but negative remarks. But in the upset fans’ defence, Disney’s video of the behind-the-scenes work claiming how important the classics are to them was a little inappropriate. Disney had just cut the show down, and many of the Imagineers in the video did not act as though the attraction meant much to them.

I think this segways very well  into my point of discussion…..

Classic Keep Up

As much as fans whine and complain about how Disney doesn’t care and/or keep up the classic attractions, it isn’t true. This year alone saw a new queue and effects to The Haunted Mansion. In just this week, Country Bears re-opened from a refurb with lots of new costumes and Pirates received a new showscene. And let’s not forget the return of the original Tiki Room last year.
While the work may not always be what we had in mind, you can’t say that Disney doesn’t touch the original attractions.

What do you think? Do you think Disney still doesn’t care about the classics? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!

WDW Report: EPCOT30 Weekend   1 comment

Hey there everyone! I’m back from an exciting trip to WDW for Epcot’s 30th Anniversary  While I was there, I also stopped at Magic Kingdom and Studios for some news. So, let’s jump right in:

New Sign! Yay!
I’ve  been very eager for this sign. I’m very happy to see it.

I was there for Big Top Souvenir’s opening day, too!
Take a tour through the new shop with me!

The rear entrance has posters featuring Lambert the sheepish Lion, the Seal (from Mickey and the Seal), Humphrey Bear, and Hyacinth Hippo.

Two new food carts outside serve circus-like foods such as Hot Dogs and Pretzels. Yum!

The Yellow one is number 34. I don’t know for certain what this is a reference to. While the other carts seem to be the Disney Parks’ opening years, this one isn’t. The only things I think it could be for would be 1) Donald’s debut year or 2) the year Mickey got an elephant or 3) the year the sequel to The Three Little Pigs debuted.

If you don’t know what this one is a reference is to….

Pete’s Silly Sideshow isn’t open yet, but it looks really cool!

Finally, the Yellow tent.

The Yellow Tent is home to Barnstormer and Dumbo fastpass distribution and a small seating area.

Rust!? But it just opened this morning!
Oh, wait, it isn’t real. Great theming!

A look at Mermaid’s grassy knolls. Quite impressive!

Second floor of Village Haus is under tarps. This seating area has been roped off since Dumbo closed. Could this be the official end to 2nd floor seating!?

Castle Walls are beautiful!

Close-up of the first drop ride track for Mine Train.

Work on the old Skyway plot. Not much new.

Shrunken Ned’s mini RC boats was removed a few weeks ago. Rumors suggest this may become a new route for an expanded Jungle Cruise.

In a move of redundancy, the Express Monorail has a new wait time sign. I don’t get it. It’s called Express!

AT STUDIOS:

The Tales-of-Captain-Jack-Sparrow-not-the-song-experience thing at Studios is being painted to look like the map to the Fountain of Youth.

I didn’t know they grew pretzels! Neat! I want a pretzel bush or tree or whatever it is they grow on plant!
Also, Osbourne Lights.

AND NOW, EPCOT30:
(Disclaimer: I didn’t get chance to go to any events. So I have no pictures from them. Sorry)

Here’s a look at the events being offered that day. They sounded really cool, and got nothing but positive feedback.

At Test Track, we can see them working on the attraction’s new entrance.

Looks like it will curve outward. Interesting.

I think this may be the hole my parents said they saw last trip. The ramp doesn’t enter/exit the building right there, so I have no idea what this could be.

The Cool Wash has been painted to reflect the new color scheme and car desigm.

It’s so cool that it steam comes off it!

I love how the new TesTrack logo will be used on the car.

Here are the fancy commemorative maps and buttons they gave out.

The maps included a fold-out with some of the old school EPCOT maps.

I couldn’t pass up on the special commemorative Ear Hats they were selling!

I thought it would be appropriate to end this report with a look at the EPCOT Center logo Marty Sklar so loves. Happy 30th Epcot!

Don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Posted October 2, 2012 by Imagineer2017 in News

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Icon Art for Epcot30   Leave a comment

As we come ever closer to Epcot’s 30th Anniversary, it’s time to put out (more) of my Epcot designs.
I began work way back in April, starting with Imagination. I liked what I did so much that I decided to create more. Each work features the pavilion’s name and logo on a zoomed background, as well as a few details that would match each pavilion. Imagination has clouds, Horizons stars, The Living Seas is reminiscent of  looking at the skies from the below waves, The Land is on an organic wooden background, and a road leads into World of Motion’s design.
Each of these designs are scaled for iPhone 3GS-4S (if demand is high enough, I may go back and create one for the 5). Enjoy!

Follow me on Twitter as I tweet live from #Epcot30 on Monday. As well, follow me on Flickr if you like my work!

Posted September 29, 2012 by Imagineer2017 in Art

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Epcot Expedition: September 15, 2012   1 comment

Welcome everyone! Our quick little trip to Epcot yesterday has brought us some new photos and updates!

Today we’ll be starting with exciting news from The Land. This past week, they cleared out many of the trees that once created a forest in front of the pavilion.  The removal of these trees is fantastic, as it now allows you to see the beautiful architecture. Much like the architecture of the other pavilions, the volcano-like glass atrium has always been The Land’s weenie. But during the 2005 overhaul, the simple and sparse landscaping was removed and replaced with a forest of trees. While the new landscaping looked nice and fit the pavilion, it blocked the atrium. Over time, it began to look cluttered and overwhelming. With many of these trees now gone, you can yet again get a great view of the wonderful atrium.

And for comparison:

Quite a transformation, don’t you think?

Over at the Seas, the new shade cover wave thing is up and shading and covering things. It’s been up since last month, but I haven’t had chance to cover it yet. I really don’t like it. Much like the trees did to The Land, this wave cover covers the entire facade! The Seas’ weenie was the mural (and the rocks, but the mural leads you in). From nearly every angle, this new structure doesn’t let you see the mural. Shame, really.
This new cover, by the way, was built to hold wait and fastpass return times once The Seas gets Fastpass/Fastpass+ implemented.

Mission Space is looking worse every day. The fading and possible rusting is now visible from the Innoventions breezeways.

I think we’ve put up with this poor upkeep of pavilions for long enough. Imagination is dark and dirty. Space has been fading for over a year. It’s not just poor show, it’s really nasty to look at. It wouldn’t matter of this was Disney World or New York, buildings need to stay cleaned. Windows need to be washed. Facades need to stay painted.

And now, Test Track updates.

Not very much to see from the ground. Smelled like paint, but that’s about it.
My parents rode the monorail that day, and told me that they saw a portion of the exterior track removed.

Meanwhile, in World Showcase:

Food and Wine Booths are already in place, including the country of Cheese. I’m not certain where Cheese is located, but I think it’s an island between Ham and Lettuce in the Sandwich Islands.

The France pavilion is being expanded! Sadly, it’s for a Meet and Greet. This, to me, is a poor move. The France pavilion already does MnGs on the Lagoon waterfront, in front of the Morris column, and now even between the column and construction wall. There was no need for another dedicated space for them.

Over in Norway, work has finished up on the waterfall area. There is now a sword attached to the rock work. Assumingly, this sword is for the Agent P World Showcase Adventure. It looks a little strange to see a sword just randomly placed in a cut-out of the rock work, so hopefully there will be another waterfall to cover it up.

Leaving the park, we see that nearly half of the turnstiles are closed.

Why are they closed? Remember earlier this year when they tried out the RFID entrance? As RFID becomes more prevalent through the parks (many hotel doors have been converted to RFID, some cash registers now have RFID scanners, Annual Passes have RFID built into them, Fastpass+ about to start another testing phase), it was only a matter of time before Epcot converted.

As we head out into the parking lot, we see that they still love using the flower logo. #Epcot30

That does it for this week. Don’t forget that you can follow me on Twitter and on Facebook. If you want to check out more artsy non-news pictures, you can go check out my Flickr page.
Until next time, so long!

Posted September 16, 2012 by Imagineer2017 in News, Parks

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