Friday, 21 May 2010

Be Magical!

Details of Tokyo DisneySea’s 10th Anniversary have been released:
Tokyo DisneySea 10th Anniversary Event

“Be Magical!”
April 23, 2011 through March 19, 2012
URAYASU, CHIBA—Tokyo DisneySea® Park will hold the “Be Magical!” special event to celebrate the Park’s 10th anniversary next year.  Tokyo DisneySea, which had its grand opening on September 4, 2001, will celebrate this milestone anniversary for almost a whole year from April 23, 2011 through March 19, 2012, divided into five different periods.  Mickey Mouse will cast his magic over Tokyo DisneySea, with Disney favorites like Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto joining in the fun all dressed as sorcerers.  Among the many magical programs to be offered are the new nighttime spectacular, “Fantasmic!” featuring Mickey as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice; and the new attraction, Jasmine’s Flying Carpets.

The celebrations will kick off with the new nighttime spectacular, “Fantasmic!”  Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice will create a world of fantasy and imagination on the waters of Mediterranean Harbor every night.  The days will also be filled with magic, including character greetings in Mediterranean Harbor featuring the Disney friends dressed in their 10th anniversary costumes, and other special programs.

Summer will see the launch of the new attraction, Jasmine’s Flying Carpets. Guests will be able to take a ride on these magical carpets and fly above Arabian Coast.

Including the opening programs, the celebrations will take place over five different periods, with cooling programs in summer, Halloween events in autumn, Christmas celebrations in winter, and the New Year bringing special programs for a grand finale. Throughout the Tokyo DisneySea 10th anniversary year, guests will fall under Mickey’s magical spell, and experience a world of Disney dreams and fantasy as never before.  The 10th anniversary year is certain to “Be Magical!” at Tokyo DisneySea!

Image ©Disney Source: OLC Publicity

Monday, 26 April 2010


Press Release:

Tokyo Disneyland Park will welcome the return of Captain EO after a hiatus of about 14 years.  This theater-type attraction features a 3-D film starring Michael Jackson as Captain EO, who leads his crew on an outer space adventure. Original music and unforgettable dance performances are made all the more impressive through 3-D imaging and special effects. This special return of the attraction will be presented from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. 

Note: Due to the opening of Captain EO, the current attraction MicroAdventure! will be on an extended hiatus starting May 10, 2010. Disney’s FASTPASS® will be available for Captain EOCaptain EO will be presented by JCB.

Theater Capacity: 369 seats
Previous Run: March 20, 1987 – September 1, 1996

OLC Publicity Dept - 26th April 2010

Friday, 2 April 2010

Happy Easter... from Thumper!

Thumper - Easter Display at Disneyland Paris 2004

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Tales Untold: Today and the Trouble with Tomorrow

When I was first proposing ideas for the “creative approach” of Tales from the Laughing Place I had worked up an article based on a feature that had appeared on Laughing Place about the issues that continually face Tomorrowland.

Although it never became a finished article I always liked this as a piece - and quite a few other designs that are associated with the article.

The subject has been touched on in further articles that have appeared - notably about Hong Kong Disneyland (in Issue 4) and Epcot (in Issue 11), though hopefully one day it will be appear as a full piece as I think the Tomorrowland story is fascinating.

Original photograph - Entrance to Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom May 2002

Jasmine spins into Arabian Coast

Click image for larger picture - Art is ©Disney.

Press Release:

Jasmine’s Flying Carpets - Tokyo DisneySea New Attraction
Themed to the Disney film Aladdin, Jasmine’s Flying Carpets is a ride attraction where guests can soar over Jasmine’s garden on a flying carpet.  Guests will be able to maneuver their vehicle up and down to a height of 5 meters, and tilt the vehicle forward and backward, as if flying their own magical carpet. This uplifting ride can be enjoyed by all, from young children to adults. Guests can also watch their friends and family on their flying carpet from an elevated viewing deck.

Opening date (tentative): Summer 2011
Location: Arabian Coast (next to Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage)
Seating: 4 persons (2 persons in 2 rows) per vehicle
with a total of 16 vehicles
Total capital invested: Approximately 2 billion yen ($22 million)

Information supplied by the OLC.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Alice in... Waterland

The premiere of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, London February 
25th 2010 - In aid of The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts, Odeon Leicester Square
I hate it when the weather reports are right. Even the reports for England (in February I might add) have always held a shadow of doubt and that was what I clinging onto as I saw a flood of blue remain firmly over the map of London for the early evening period on the TV weather news.

The crowds were already numerous in force when I arrived some two hours before the arrivals on the green carpet - it’s called simply the “Depp Effect” I believe and the volume of squeals that greeted “The Mad Hatter” were sure to bring about a noise abatement order.

Still despite the weather the crowds remained enthusiastic for the stars of the film and other invited celebrities - for this premiere would be in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, so everyone was turned out in their finest attire. Not me of course - It would have been a clear case of “Off with his head” had I been attending the film after standing in the rain for three hours with the rest of the photographers...

A very wet - and still to get a lot wetter Leicester Square - several hours before the premiere

Working on the green carpet and film logo at the entrance to the Odeon

Johnny Depp - The Mad Hatter

Mia Wasikowska - Alice Kingsleigh

Helena Bonham Carter - The Red Queen

Matt Lucas - Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Anne Hathaway - The White Queen

Alan Rickman - The Caterpillar

Michael Sheen - The White Rabbit

Barbara Windsor - The Dormouse

Paul Whitehouse - The March Hare

Timothy Spall - Bayard the Bloodhound

Jemma Powell - Margaret Kingsleigh

Geraldine James - Lady Ascot

Crispin Glover - The Knave of Hearts

Avril Lavigne

Danny Elfman - Composer

Tim Burton

The Producers - Joe Roth and Richard D. Zanuck

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Lion King in South Africa - by Lee MacDonald

It is a wonder that I ever loved The Lion King.

Back in the early nineties I worked a few shifts a week in my local Disney Store through college. In those salad days of the concept (that is prior to the over-saturation of the chain when north of 700 stores existed) it was a way for Disney fans to feel closer to the magic – and it worked. Being surrounded by Mickey Mouse boxed mugs, basic tees and the signature plush mountain was a welcome immersion into the Disney magic. However there was one part of the job that could be excruciatingly painful – like pulling teeth. And it wasn’t having to stand on greeter duty saying “hi” and “welcome!” for an hour every shift. It was the constantly recycling video footage. The loop ran for thirty minutes so you saw every segment at least eight times per shift. However there was one sequence that always affected me deep to my emotion core despite seeing it hundreds of times prior to my first theatrical visit to see the movie – and that was the opening Circle of Life number from Disney’s The Lion King. The second that the sun rose over the Savannah and the Zulu warbling of Carmen Twillie filled the store with the Nants’ ingonyama chant goose bumps prickled up and my attention was immediately drawn to the procession of animals to Pride Rock. Without exception it got me every time. Over and over again.

That has never changed. People talk about the Second Golden Age of Animation commencing with The Little Mermaid which may be true but it reached its zenith with The Lion King. The movie spawned a host of other critically acclaimed and commercially successful product such as Disneyland’s incomparable The Lion King Celebration parade (arguably the greatest cavalcade to ever roll down Main Street) and of course the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. The latter has grossed over $3 billion worldwide which to put into context to the original movie is four times its worldwide box office receipts. The show continues to play in a host of cities around the world including Las Vegas, New York, London, Paris, Hamburg and Tokyo.

Back in Issue 13 of Tales from the Laughing Place Magazine I had the privilege to talk to founding cast member Ron Kunene about the South African heritage that profoundly influenced the Broadway musical. Ron talked extensively about the rhythmic call and response technique that is used by Rafiki and the visual imagery used through the show that are allegories for South African culture. Director Julie Taymor strove to immerse her vision of the movie in the local narrative which is a reason why the show has been so successful – it isn’t just a book report of the film. After years of negotiation Disney were finally able to take The Lion King musical home in 2007.

South African impresario Pieter Toerien partnered with composer Lebo M (who had worked extensively on the original Broadway version) to bring The Lion King to a brand-new venue built specifically for the musical, the Montecasino Teatro, located in the Fourways suburb of Johannesburg. The Lion King played to packed audiences for 36 weeks, making South African history when it broke all box office records in South Africa, with over 550,000 people watching the show. This Disney musical is the longest-running and most successful show in South African theatre history. The show also received the distinction of being awarded the Best Production of a Musical category in the 2007 Naledi Awards.

The cast was almost entirely sourced from the local area and the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra provided the musical accompaniment. In addition Disney’s recording partner EMI decided to release the cast recording on CD to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the stage production. The unique difference to this version compared to other OCRs is that it was recorded live at the Montecasino Teatro which adds a grandness and richness to the album that sanitized studio recordings lack. It is a wonder to hear South African performers reclaim the Zulu chanting, the Khosian “clicking” and Lebo’s intricate poly-rhythms. In addition the CD includes a bonus track of Lebo M’s One by One (that opens Act II). Lebo has produced a new remix called Umhlaba Wabantu (which translates as “world of the people” in Zulu) which has a very different vibe due to the addition of new music to the track. It is a real treat for any The Lion King fan. The full track listing can be found here:

The juggernaut that is The Lion King rumbles on. Although the sun has set on Simba’s time in South Africa a host of new cities are lining up including Madrid and the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore this September. These new productions combined with the existing resident shows and the touring versions will ensure that the musical continues to build on its tremendous success that has resulted in more than 50 million people having seen the majesty of the Pridelands on stage.

Lee MacDonald, Publisher, Tales from the Laughing Place Magazine

Bye-Bye BraviSEAmo! - Hello Fantasmic!

Tokyo DisneySea’s night-time spectacular BraviSEAmo! will perform for the final time on November 13th 2010 to make way for Fantasmic! in April 2011. Here is the official release:

URAYASU, CHIBATokyo DisneySea Park has announced that a new nighttime entertainment spectacular titled “Fantasmic!” will premiere in April 2011 to kickoff the yearlong celebration of the Tokyo DisneySea 10th Anniversary, which is September 4. 

Taking place at night in Mediterranean Harbor, this spectacular features Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice who creates a breathtaking world of wonder and imagination. The show features fantastic scenes from many familiar Disney films such as Aladdin, Cinderella and Finding Nemo, as well as a thrilling sequence of Mickey fighting a gigantic dragon. Filled with special effects using water and fire on the waters of Mediterranean Harbor, this dramatic show promises a night of unforgettable fantasy and excitement for all. 

Performances of “Fantasmic!” will continue to be presented after the Tokyo DisneySea 10th Anniversary celebration ends. 

Monday, 25 January 2010

Tales from the Laughing Place Issue 15 - Out Now

The Little Mermaid - Ariel - opens the new issue of Tales from the Laughing Place magazine as an introduction to the first (of many) looks at the proposed expansion of the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland. The article looks at the story and designs of the worldwide Fantasyland’s including Disneyland’s New Fantasyland of 1983 through to Disneyland Paris and the emphasis of the storybook approach which is now heading to Florida - albeit on a far far grander scale.

Other tales in the issue:
• we tell the story behind the long-gone introduction to animation film Back to Neverland with director Jerry Rees;
• the development of PhilharMagic with the Senior Show Writer (and saying a fond farewell to The Mickey Mouse Revue in the process);
• an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at ZED - Cirque Du Soleil’s show that performs only at the Tokyo Disney Resort;
• we talk to Imagineering about the interactive games: Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure and Leonardo Challenge (at Tokyo DisneySea) and
• an exclusive interview about the development of The American Idol Experience

Further details about these tales - and others featured in the issue can be found here

Monday, 18 January 2010

Most egg-cellant news! Tokyo Disney Resort celebrates Easter

From April 1 – June 30, 2010 Tokyo Disneyland will host “Disney’s Easter Wonderland” 

The official Oriental Land Company release:
The first Easter-themed special event, filled with wonder and surprise, comes to Tokyo Disneyland this spring. A parade-type entertainment program will be offered with Mickey Mouse and his Disney pals appearing along with popular characters from the Disney film Alice in Wonderland.  

Time to “hop” over to Tokyo perhaps?

Eye-Spy Changes to Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek!

Oriental Land Company has announced changes are coming to Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek! Here is the official press release:

URAYASU, CHIBA— Tokyo Disneyland® Park’s popular attraction, Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek!, will re-open on May 1, 2010 with enhancements to the hide-and-go-seek aspect of this ride. 

The new Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek! will be even more full of surprises and fun. With this renewal, new monsters will be hiding throughout the attraction. Moreover, when guests shine their flashlights on the hiding monsters, the helmets worn by the monsters will light up as they come out and reveal themselves. There are also additional appearances by Boo – the human girl who prompted the discovery of the power of laughter.  Throughout the ride, Boo’s laughter will now create a ―power surge, causing the lights to spark. 
 This enhancement will provide everyone with a great opportunity to enjoy anew the fun and wonderful world of the lovable monsters. This attraction will be closed for the renovations from March 23 to April 30, 2010

“Eye-Spy Kaiju” looks at how the Tokyo Disney Resort celebrated Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek! throughout 2009 in Issue 15 of Tales from the Laughing Place magazine

Friday, 15 January 2010

From the Archive: Is it Time to Remember...?

Apologies for making the title a question - and using Is it instead of It Is - but I have never been sure just how divisive the Magic Kingdom’s/WDW’s 25th Castle decoration is.

Among the hordes of cameras I have hauled around the parks over the last 16 years one of my favourites was a freebie 35mm “panoramic”. For the two weeks I spent at the resort in late September early October 1996 (those days are so long gone) I predominately shot in black and white with a few transparency films thrown in. The panoramic acted as a colour reference or reminder and although the image quality is not great I do love the soft focus towards the edge of the shots - something which reminds me of the Holga camera I use today. I have included a couple of the black and whites and also a group shot of the Castle being decorated. Click the photographs to enjoy or not enjoy them - only you can decide if it is time to remember...

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

From the Archive: A Little Bit of Wonder

December 31st 2005 was the last time I visited Epcot’s Wonders of Life pavilion. Both Body Wars and Cranium Command were open so I took a final turn on them. I also spent some time taking photographs - a few of which I have posted here. Further images can be seen in our Epcot set on Flickr.