5 Steps to transform a Studio, by WDI

Thursday, 5th October 2006 at 16:21

There are magical things happening at Walt Disney Studios right now... Attractions are being added, colours being painted and characters invading. After five years of guests accepting the park has potential, that potential is now being realised and this Studio is finally coming of age. Management have done one of the best turnarounds in Disney history, accepting the park's opening faults and allowing drastic steps to put things right. And so, with the help of some new photos by Kyoto from Disney Magic Interactive forum, here are the 5 steps of Walt Disney Imagineering's studio transformation...,

Step 1: Characters

We reported on Monday that the Toon Studio construction fence is now home to some of Pixar’s finest creations, giving us a tantalising glimpse at the plethora of characters that await beyond. Earlier this year, of course, we already welcomed Mike, Sulley and the CDA to Animation Courtyard at a new character location next to Disney Studio 1, and The Incredibles have been outside Art of Disney Animation for quite some time. Disney park guests are incredibly keen on the characters these days, and Disney knows it. They add colour, life and guaranteed photo opportunities.

The expansion area of Toon Studio is confirmed to feature at least two character locations, shown on concept art as The Incredibles and Mickey Mouse, though this is subject to change. WDS Fans reported last week, however, that another meet ‘n’ greet opportunity will be available over at Cars Race Rally, with European automobiles Luigi and Guido outside their Radiator Springs store.
Step 2: Attractions

You know them by now – Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally, a spinning indoor/outdoor coaster with dark ride scenes and a tea cups-style ride respectively. Whilst the effects of Crush’s towering Studio 5 have been felt for many months already, the lonely queue buildings of Cars Quatre Roues Rallye (the French name of the attraction, which will be the official in-park title) have now progressed quickly, already adding more features and varied architecture styles to the Studios (photo 2).

So far, they look similar to most concept art, with a circular central building and a long, thin, offshoot for the double-back queue. A large canopied building based on Flo’s V8 Café (the gas station in the movie) is also on plans, and should finally rid the Studios of its “warehouseland” critics. In the future “canyon” (photo 1), the foundations for the two pairs of turntables which make up the Cars ride have visibly progressed much further, with thick concrete walls and dividers lining the surprisingly deep pits.

The rockwork of Crush’s Coaster hasn’t noticeably progressed since our last report, however an arched curve of concrete has now been place above its future entrance doors (see paint tests photo below).
Step 3: Colour

It’s amazing what a little colour can do – it can set dark moods, create excitement or let you feel warmth with just the slightest change of tone. It’s the lifeblood of animation, and so it’s ironic that it’s the lack of colour currently adding more magic to the walls of Studio 5. The white basecoat has now covered the entire front of the building (photo 1) and much of the right side, turning the dull, murky concrete into a clean, crisp piece of Imagineering.

Of course, this is only for the time being – soon, the entire building will be a nice shade of sea blue. But which shade? That seems to be the question for the Imagineers right now, as you can see by the various paint tests on the walls next to the building’s entrance (photo 2). From this photo, the colours appear more vibrant than “true” sky blue yet lighter than a full blue – matching, perhaps, the shade of the Sorcerer’s Hat.
Step 4: Detail

“Detail” previously appeared to be some kind of profanity in the exterior design of Animation Courtyard (at least for those pulling the purse strings), yet now a healthy helping of this Disney delight is being spread right across the land. Take a look at the curbs bordering the Cars Race Rally area, for example – not a straight line in sight, entirely customised to the park and the attraction.

Some wavy curbs are a drop in the ocean compared to the rockwork of Crush’s Coaster, though, which juts up across the front of the attraction as if the Great Barrier Reef itself is about to explode out into Toon Studio. Now that the construction site has thankfully become much busier, the comparison of a worker to the size of the rockwork gives an incredible view of the true scale of this themeing project compared to the rest of the park. And, that we can already see such pleasant details as these with seven months still to go has to surely be a very good sign.
Step 5: Greenery

Without doubt the pièce de résistance of Kyoto’s latest photos is this excellent shot from on board Flying Carpets Over Agrabah. As you can see, the new “oasis” planting areas in front of the attraction have finally received tall, luscious palm trees, and the impact of these can be seen already. Now, the Flying Carpets are fully hidden away in this corner of the land, existing within their own tropical mini-land and providing something for guests to “discover” as they walk around the park.

It’s no more showbuilding-to-showbuilding – the curved paths (currently covered in protective wooden boards whilst construction work continues) and rounded planting areas will send guests in all directions, finally allowing them to “explore” in Walt Disney Studios Park.

So there you have it – 5 Steps to transform a Studio! And the best part? They’re all actually being followed, right now, in Paris. Excited about June 2007 yet?

Photos by Kyoto on Disney Magic Interactive forum. You can see more here.

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