Archive for the ‘Imagineering’ Category

Mysic Manor Courtesy of DAPSMAGIC.com

The future is here and it is unrestricted. Since the dawn of the dark ride and amusement park history the thrill of a ride has always been restricted to a metal rail, the ageless relative of the railroad track, that has long served as the backbone of both the ancient and modern thrill ride. Those days may be over…and it may be the single best thing that has ever happened to the themed entertainment industry.

Recall for a moment your favorite theme park attraction, how it felt to experience it for the first time, the thrill, the uniqueness, the sheer excitement of turning that corner out of the load station for the first time…

Now, imagine that same experience without any restrictions, no guidance rail that spoils the direction you’re headed, nothing binding you to the center of a track enabling completely free movement through a space. Now that’s easily said, but take a moment and really think about what that means…the Haunted Mansion with wood floors, simulated staircases, actual hills you descend down in the graveyard, no glaringly obvious track, no fixed viewing points and the ability to visit completely different areas of the house than you did before. Now take this and multiply it by every dark ride you have experienced and you begin to see the scope of this advancement. Now obviously, this is just an example, but the possibilities are breathtaking. The technology improves every aspect of the experience from immersion to reliability now that there is no track to be bound to and by extension no wheels and train components to have to replace/repair. Reduced down time, exponentially more ride experience variations, interactivity between vehicles, scenes that use the floor as a thrill point/scene itself, we really are only seeing the birthing stage of the trackless ride system and while current examples still bear many of the design restrictions of a standard track system, you can indeed see that Imagineers and ride designers are starting to realize the possibilities.

Point-in-case, Hong Kong Disneyland’s brand new ride Mystic Manor, a trackless first for the Walt Disney Company that clearly is the best example of what this technology can do. No on-board attractions host is needed and the ride floats effortlessly around corners and through the doorways of Mystic Manor, following the misadventure of the mischievous monkey Albert as he opens an ancient music box that brings inanimate objects to life throughout the antiquity-filled mansion. This ride has two tracks and is a seamless 360 ride experience, meaning no blank walls, no restricted viewing, nothing to ruin the illusion. In fact, the ride path even crosses over itself in the whirlwind finale that has to be seen to be believed, something that never would have been possible with track systems. Don’t believe it? See it in action for yourself.

Sea World’s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins is another excellent example of how the ride can work. Sea World took a better approach when thinking of the ride track and

Antarctica, Courtesy of Attractions Magazine

really played with the mechanics of no longer have fixed cars, weaving the cars in and out of each other’s paths, facing other pods as they enter and exit spaces, using the exposure to the other riders as an enhancement rather than distraction, etc. Sea World’s ride itself may have a few issues with quality and general story, but the execution of technology is the true star in this attraction and it really seems Sea World wanted to show off the new system as the centerpiece of the entire experience and indeed, it is almost more entertaining to watch the other cars move and glide than it is to pay attention to the actual show (which is a huge problem in actuality, but hey, we’re having fun here.)

The story revolves around a penguin who you meet in the queue as an infant and follows his story as he learns about life for the penguins as well as his beautiful and dangerous home, Antarctica. Seals chase you under the sea, you emerge into luminescent caverns of glacial ice, sea water flows and falls around you as you glide through the caverns with your trusted friend on his journey, culminating in an unbelievable (to the point where it has already caused problems) finale where you are face to face with the penguins themselves, all while freezing at an authentic 0 to 1 degrees Celsius throughout the experience.

We are not there yet with this technology, we have only begun to tap the surface of trackless ride systems and the innovative possibilities they hold that are just waiting for the taking. It will take an entire paradigm shift, a completely new way of thinking and creating to use this technology to its fullest. The dark ride rule book is about to be rewritten and I will be on board for the ride, will you?


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BioShock is the propety of 2K Games.

Hello intrepid thrill-seekers! Part II of my conceptualization for the new ride proposal BIOSHOCK: RETURN TO RAPTURE is available in the IMAGINEERING section! PART II features a brand new set of storyboards that illustrate the first 30 secs to 60 secs of the ride itself along with some of the script written into the captions! Go check it out and leave me a comment telling me what you think!: BIOSHOCK: RETURN TO RAPTURE

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BioShock is the property of 2K Marin

I’ve just posted the first two of MANY images (hopefully significantly improving as I advance) of my concept for BioShock: Return to Rapture, a ride proposal for Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando. Overall, the concept is that this will be the start of a new undetermined land that could possible replace Marvel Superhero Island (seeing as Universal no longer owns the rights to the Marvel Franchise once their contract expires). These aren’t great, but I hope you guys enjoy them! More importantly, pay attention to the description before the photos as to what will be occurring during this part of the Queue! That, for me, is the truly cool part (and not something I can really render effectively on paper…I’m just not that good yet with idea translation. I do believe, though, that my concepts are groundbreaking…hey, you got to know your strengths and weaknesses, right?)

I hope you enjoy and leave me some comments telling me what your thoughts are!

Go to the Imagineering page to check it out: BioShock: Return to Rapture

UPDATE : I have posted the successful Fontaine Futuristics queue house rendering. Let me know what you think!

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First broke by Lance at Screamscape… Disney Parks, as part of their ultra-top secret “Nex-Gen” initiative (a plan from Walt Disney Imagineering to completely reinvent the theme park experience), has been testing a talking Mickey Mouse walking character.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a real, live, TALKING Mickey Mouse is now wandering around Disneyland.

According to reports from within Disney Parks itself, the character is capable of interacting directly with guests, right down to saying their name and using completely improvised, unique material with each guest (think Turtle Talk with Crush only with a standing, breathing Mickey). The technology, if deemed succesful and ultimately accepted by the populous, could eventually be adapted in all of the suited characters in Disney Parks worldwide.

At first glance the effect is a bit unnerving, but I attribute this to the conditioning of the masses (like myself) who are used to the static characters already present in theme parks around the world. Once you experience it for a bit, the effect becomes natural and in all seriousness, completely changes the interaction for the better. To say it anthropomorphizes Mickey would be an understatement, it takes the much loved character/symbol to a new level of awesomeness unseen anywhere until Disney premiered the technology.

If this is the first step in the cloak & dagger-esque “Nex-Gen” initiative, then fans and Imagineers the world over should be very, VERY excited and Disney’s competitors very, VERY scared.

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It is just a little less than two months until Universal Orlando unveils the drooled over and dreamed about Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Now, I have been following this attraction literally since day one, long before an official announcement was ever made and my excitement grew to such a dorkishly palpable level that for this Christmas I asked for money to go the grand opening (No, not an iPod, blu-ray player or  TV, I asked for Harry Potter world…I apologize for nothing…). So far, the progress has been incredible. Hogwarts? In-FREAKING-credible.  Hogsmeade? HOLY CRAP. Aesthetics? WORLD CLASS (considering that one of the main designers was Production Designer Stuart Craig, the original production designer on the films, I am not surprised). What could possibly be wrong then? In short: A LOT.

Now, (I seem to like that word today) I should note that this information is not confirmed and I am completely speculating with what I am about to rip to shreds,  and dear God, please, please let me be wrong…but if the footage released by Universal today is in fact the on-ride footage fromHarry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, then Universal needs to take a heaping dose of Veritaserum, because the truth is that what they have created looks like a cheap DVD menu…NOT a multi-million dollar world class attraction.

Don’t believe me? See it for yourself:

Okay, so let’s state the obvious: A) I have not experienced the attraction (as far as I know no one has beyond Universal/Warner Brothers Executives, creative teams, etc.) B) The footage pictured may be purely promotional and have nothing to do with the ride itself C) The footage may not have yet been finished D) The appearance of the film could be changed drastically by atmosphere and special effects.  I must concede these points for the sake of being fair. Plus, I should give credit where it is deserved and very, very rarely has Universal sunk so much money into a project only to have it fail (although the Hollywood Rockit! is still pretty much a disaster).

However, I still have an Ellen Ripley-esque bad feeling about the Forbidden Journey, for the rest of the Wizarding World I am almost 100% confident of  “Magic” being created, but if my gut is right and Universal somehow manages to screw up the flagship ride of the island it could prove catastrophic for Universal’s reputation and bottom line. For a park, Islands of Adventure, that has not added a new attraction almost since its opening in 1999, this is an attraction that could finally solidify Universal Orlando as the ultimate competitor to the Walt Disney World Resort behemoth just 20 mins. away, but as it stands now, if the footage we are seeing IS indeed from the Forbidden Journey, then Universal may be headed to a “Whomping Willow” of trouble.

Let us pray “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”, doesn’t become “The-ride-that-must-not-be-named”.

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© Andrew A. Vest

“Hey, not so fast Y’all, I likes eatin’ people…’specially y’all…”

-Family Guy

Ok, so I must take a moment out of my normally very relevant soubriquet to highlight what might just be the worst and most embarrassing animatronic on the face of the earth. I refuse to be politically correct, but I simply do not want the fight of having to deal with the company, or the fans of the place which owns this lovely display in robotic debauchery. Therefore, I will not tell you where or how to experience this vulgar display, but shall rather tease you with my titillation’s concerning just how much of a good time I had making fun of it. Suffice to say I still laugh when I think about it.  Let’s begin, shall we?

Ok, so take a fruit bat and make it have sex with Joan Rivers, now, take the carnivorous, mutant love-child that results (You know its true), starve it, let it die, stretch it until it is 9ft. tall, scold it with boiling water, then ram an all too obvious pipe up its butt, glue some discount felt on as wings, make it wear a nasty pink boa and then pretend like it is supposed to be menacing. Sound ridiculous? It is, but I am not exaggerating. Honestly, I think a kitten would walk up to this thing, look at it, then after five seconds be like “Let’s go…”.

Truly though, I could not take this thing seriously. I had to survive the queue by pretending that it was the creepy cat man from Family Guy and that this tragic bat-thing really just wanted some company in his oddly brothel-like, pink flame crypt.  Come on, honestly, what was this theme park thinking? Oh don’t get me wrong, it is creepy, just for all the wrong reasons.

Oh my…

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