Continuing on to day two of D23’s “Destination D 2016: Amazing Adventures,” historians Keven Neary and Susan Neary spoke briefly on their new book, curated by Imagineer Vanessa Hunt, “Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai.”
(No photography or recording was permitted during the presentations. All photos thereof are courtesy of D23.)
From the early maps of Disneyland in 1955 to the international parks of the current day, their book displays all the creative artwork and history of Disney park maps.
Subsequently, attendees got a look behind the development of some of the recent Disney World entertainment additions in “New Walt Disney World Adventures.”
Entertainment Show Director Tom Vazzana started us off with a look at the new holiday nighttime show at Disney Hollywood Studios, “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!”
Through a high-energy walkthrough, Vazzana talked about the different segments of the show and the technical challenges of integrating high-definition projections, lasers, fireworks, and snow.
Imagineer Wyatt Winter then took the stage to talk about the development of the new Frozen Ever After attraction that’s taken the place of Maelstrom in the EPCOT Norway pavilion.
–Some of the same animators that worked on the movie “Frozen,” worked on the attraction to give life and consistency of movement and expression to the ride figures.
–This is the first time an attraction is using all electric figures, as opposed to hydraulic.
–The newly designed area of the pavilion is intended to travel across Norway, much like the area of Liberty Square and Frontierland travels geographically across America.
–Runestones placed around the area can be recognized as homages to Maelstrom.
After the morning break, Imagineers Jason Grandt and Alex Wright returned to Destination D with “Magic Journeys: 45 Years of Walt Disney World Adventures.”
With the use of historical photos and video, the two gave everyone a quick and hilarious look at some of their favorite adventurous memories from Walt Disney World.
From a walkthrough of the departed (at least from WDW) Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to an exploration of all the different activities that used to be found at Fort Wilderness…
…to Discovery Island, to the Seven Seas Lagoon wave machines, to If You Had Wings, they covered the gamut of wacky to wonderful past WDW entertainment.
A look at “Pandora–The World of AVATAR” was then hosted by “AVATAR” creators James Cameron, Jon Landau (as Alpha Centauri Expeditions Founder Marshall Lamm,) and Imagineer Joe Rohde.
Enthusiastically discussing the many voyages they’ve taken to the planet Pandora, the group shared new concept art and insights.
–Tourists will visit Pandora at a time far in the future from the events of “Avatar,” after the Resources Development Administration (RDA) war is over.
–One reason for bringing tourists to the valley of the floating mountains is the variety of habitats that can be found there. Shade and water runoff result in rainforests at the bases and underneath.
–The mountains float because Unobtanium, a naturally occurring superconductor, occurs there in large concentrations. Magnetic fields, called flux vortices, can lift the Unobtanium out of the ground, force pinning it into the air.
–A large part of Alpha Centauri Expeditions’ mission is conservation. Tourists will see an environment that has been disturbed by humans but which is being ecologically rehabilitated by nature and the indigenous population.
–The Banshees, a cross between a raptor and a pterodactyl that evolved from fish, are able to bond with Na’vi who use them for riding and hunting.
–The Pandora Conservation Initiative (PCI) found abandoned RDA avatar facilities in the jungle, which allow them to offer tourists the experience of a flying initiation ceremony.
–Nature follows the same rules and reflects parallels between Earth and Pandora.
–Na’vi do not use metal in construction.
–Windtraders are a Na’vi clan that unites the cultures and maintains a common language through trading. The main shop in Pandora is named after them.
–“Pongu Pongu,” the repurposed Quonset hut that is the canteen means “party party.”
–Nighttime on Pandora is transformed through reactive bio-luminescence.
–A boat ride through the bio-luminescent grotto shows tourists a Na’vi Shaman performing a ceremony of song.
–The Na’vi are connected through the “Eywa” or “biological internet” whose purpose is to protect the Great Balance.
–The message of Pandora is to live in balance with the environment and with each other.
After lunch, the afternoon continued with Imagineer and Senior Production Designer Chris Merritt discussing “The Art and Adventures of Marc Davis.”
–Merritt is currently co-authoring a new book, “Marc Davis Goes to WED,” on Marc Davis with Pete Docter and Vanessa Hunt–two volumes, due out in 2018.
–In the 1960’s Davis was moved by Walt from animation to WED to work on Disneyland.
–Some of the legendary attractions he worked on were Jungle Cruise, The Enchanted Tiki Room, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
–Davis originally proposed and designed an omnimover ride for the America Pavilion at EPCOT, as opposed to the show that was eventually developed.
–One of his last projects before he retired was a proposed addition/replacement of a Kachina doll diorama to the Grand Canyon Diorama on the Disneyland Railroad.
In “The Imagineering Adventure,” Steven Vagnini brought back Disney Legend Tony Baxter and Shanghai Disneyland Portfolio Creative Director Luc Mayrand to look at some of Disney’s more adventurous creations.
–Baxter spoke on the three basic rationales used for getting the company to spend money on a new attraction: Timing, need, and technology.
–Big Thunder Mountain Railroad came about with the derailment of the Western River Expansion project. It both preserved part of the planned attraction and filled a vacant area for DL.
–In an attempt to preserve the threatened Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, Baxter used the promotional budget for “Tarzan,” that would normally have been used for a parade, etc., and rethemed it to Tarzan’s Treehouse.
–Splash Mountain came about as a result of the availability of AA figures from the retired America Sings attraction and Dick Nunis’ fondness for flume rides.
–“Fear – Death = Thrill” –Eddie Sotto’s formula for the appeal of adventurous rides, such as Indiana Jones and the Eye of Mara.
–Mayrand then took the audience through some of the research behind the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Shanghai and showed us clips of some of the scenes.
–The original pirates attraction there was eventually split into two–a ride and a stunt show.
–Boats are driven by silent magnetic motors.
–The ride has been blessed with water from all the Pirates of the Caribbean attractions around the world.
Afterwards, Director, Animal and Science Operations Dr. Scott Terrell spoke briefly about some of the preparations that to be made to adapt the animals at Animal Kingdom to the new nighttime experiences there, in “Guiding Animals Through Change.”
–Animal Kingdom scientists constructed welfare studies that developed parameters to measure change in the animals in response to changes in their environment.
–Structures in some of the habitats are completely soundproofed, so that animals can have the option of a quiet space.
–Beaker, a black vulture, was introduced to the audience, as well as Willie the aardvark.
–Vultures are currently being poisoned by the millions by poachers to avoid detection while they illegally kill animals.
Finally, to close out the weekend, Joe Rohde returned to talk about “Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Evolving A New Species of Theme Park.”
–Prior to AK, the idea of theme parks was based upon the Magic Kingdom: An isolated, perfected, familar storybook land that stays timeless.
–Animals do not fit in this idealized situation.
–The three core values of AK: Intrinsic value of Nature; adventure; and personal story.
–The environment must then look overcome by Nature and poorly maintained, as if adventure could happen to you differently every time.
–The berm in AK is perforated to the outside world through conservation and research.
–Various research trips involved a plethora of dangers, such as snakes, erupting volcanoes, and temple ceremonies.
–RE his earrings: “It was out of emulation and respect for indigenous peoples of the world who now all wear Gap.”
–A huge amount of the animal carvings in AK are from a Balinese family.
–Whole temples in AK around Everest are designed and built in Nepal by professional craftspeople there.
–While you do not have to go to Africa for an adventure, you must be able to step out of the frame of the common everyday experience.
–On building Pandora, they realized that there was insufficient imagery in “Avatar” of the environment to create an actual place.
–Elements of Pandora then, are filled in with elements of the real world that act on the same principles–bio-luminescence, for example.
–“You cannot make this stuff up. The World has more detail than you can imagine.”
–Pandora will have the same level of realism that the rest of AK has, because it is constructed with the same integrity.
–The Pandora area was originally going to be based on Eastern European mythological animals. Now it is about modern-day mythology: The things we need to think about and do in relation to our relationship to our planet.
–The Tree of Life will come to life at night and express the beauty of animals and the surrounding world.
–The park is a promise that you will have an adventure that is as if you did it for real.