154 Years in the making, dude!

Wednesday, 9th May 2007 at 20:33

The official 15th Anniversary blog has spilled an ocean of new behind-the-scenes material showing the making of Walt Disney Studio Park's most anticipated new attraction. Since Crush proclaimed he was "hundred and fifty, and still young, dude!" in May 2003's Finding Nemo, the unique attraction has now technically been 154 years in the making! Rock on!,

Launched on 20th February with the official Disneyland15.com, the official anniversary blog has come from modest beginnings to present a series of unique videos and articles delving into the backstage talent of the 15th Anniversary Celebration. Our host, Tristane, has introduced us to the scent creator, costume designer and director of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, and now attention has switched dramatically to Toon Studio, particularly Crush’s Coaster.

The first surprise on the French version of the blog today was the following photo, showing a painter at work on murals inside the key “dark ride” scenes of this unique new spinning roller coaster:

We’ve seen glimpses into the dark ride scenes before, but this more recent image shows some of the final, vibrant colours of the scenes and the talent at work. The scenes are much smaller, the route much thinner, than a usual dark ride, which might seem strange considering the theme of “the big blue”, but the paintwork completed here shows how the Imagineers have designed tricks of the eye to give the effect of real undersea depth. With blurred, faded background coral behind vibrant, crisp detail, a flat wall suddenly becomes a window into the depths of the Great Barrier Reef, with 3D sculpted coral in front adding another depth.

A good news day for Crush’s Coaster, then. But they weren’t done yet – a little later, and suddenly a brand new video has been uploaded to the blog, presenting even more backstage previews. Presented as a simple slide show with just a few seconds of actual footage, the video serves to present a series of never-before-seen images: concept models, detailed, sculpted coral and more…

A look at each and every shot of the video:

(1) Front elevation of Studio 5, shows some interior detail of the boarding area, such as steps over the track to its platform and a studio-style lighting rail above the action.

(2) A fantastic scale model of the entire attraction. The entrance path is chopped in half in the foreground – notice the warnings and wait times sign recently added in reality. The full 3D marquee featuring Crush is seen as a piece white card on guests’ left, a little further into the queue and yet to be modelled here.

(3) A close-up of the model, showing the outside drop and its jagged, diagonal rockwork surround. Notice the steel fences recently added, which here are shown to cut through a large chunk of blue rock, home to Nemo and Squirt amongst a small crop of green plants.

(4) The camera pans right to left, showing the route of the outside drop, its track almost entirely concealed by the rocks and shown to be filled with several plants.

(5) The lowest point of the drop and a close-up of Nemo and Squirt. These figures will be similar to those at the old Finding Nemo photo location, now lost to the Hollywood Boulevard project.

(6) We move onwards to the first scene of the dark ride, seen as if you were above the building looking toward Cars and Art of Disney Animation. The entrance from the outside drop is top-left, the two state-of-the-art digital projection screens lower-right and top-right. The coral is filled with a rainbow of colours.

(7) The next scene, this model shows only the Angler Fish attack, with the previous scene depicted as a flat floorplan. The colour and light has disappeared for a much more uncertain tone.

(8) A zoom-in on this corner of the track. One angler fish faces toward oncoming turtle shells on the corner, whilst another hides around the bend pointing toward shells as they continue past. Like the digital projections before, these are two identical effects doubled-up to ensure guests in both sides of the back-to-back ride vehicles see the same experience.

(9) Another close look at these impressive Audio-Animatronics, also due to be found at Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (California).

(10) An impressive example of coral sculpted for the attraction. Though no commentary is provided with these images, the coral appears to be in a tent backstage at Walt Disney Studios Park. Interesting, since it would be assumed the coral would be sculpted on-site at its final location. Several reference photos and concepts are pinned to a board above the décor.

(11) The lower portion of the coral shows even more variety in the undersea life, matching that seen full-coloured in the concept models above.

(12) A close-up of the coral. Impressive detail, and certainly like nothing else at Walt Disney Studios Park.

(13) Another close-up shows even more variety, all referenced from real coral and reproduced to be entirely accurate to undersea life.

(14) Finally, a noticeboard with the concept model of the attraction next to two real-life reference photos used to design its jagged rockwork façade, similar in design – if not unnatural blue colour – to that over in Adventureland.

After all this work, it might actually seem like 154 years for some of the Imagineers involved!

Video, photo and all video caps Copyright Disney.

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