Wednesday, September 23, 2009
This concept art shows the expanded area from the POV of above Cinderella Castle. In the front left you see the ‘castle walls’ from which you will travel through into the various Princess Realms. Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel all have their own castles (aka meet and greet areas). The Beauty and the Beast realm will also have a new dinner show.
Ariel’s castle will contain the Little Mermaid attraction that’s also being installed at California Adventure.
At this point the Fantasyland Expansion concept art differs a bit from the blue prints we saw. Tinker Bell and the fairies still get their Pixie Hollow (which will be phase two of the expansion), but the Dumbo attraction is moved to the other side where Goofy’s Barstormer and Donald’s boat is now. There is also a coaster in the back that is not on the blue prints. I’ll be curious to see how this all turns out in the final version.
The new Dumbo attraction will have two spinners and, apparently, more of a circus theme. The blue prints specify an ‘interactive queue’ which, based on this art, would appear to be more living character initiative animatronics. Think Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story Midway Mania queue.
All this, Jay says, will be open in 2012. A year late for the 40th Anniversay of the MK. But not too shabby a schedule. I would like to have seen another solid ‘ride’ type attraction, something aimed at the whole family instead of another meet and greet/mini-show. But the dinner show and the themeing look pretty outstanding.
Follow below the jump for the full press release related to all of Jay’s park announcements:
Re-Imagined “Star Tours” Coming to California and Florida in 2011 and Major Fantasyland Expansion at Walt Disney World Scheduled for 2013
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo detailed plans for future lands, attractions and adventures that will be delighting Disney guests for years to come, at the first D23 Expo. Most notable among the announcements were the confirmation of an all-new Star Tours attraction and the largest expansion in the history of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
“Storytelling is the DNA of Disney dreams and we’re always exploring new ways to tell new stories in new places,” Rasulo told a crowd at the Anaheim Convention Center in California before taking them on a “behind-the-magic” tour of their favorite Disney destinations.
Rasulo announced that a new 3-D version of the tremendously-popular “Star Tours” attraction will debut at the Disneyland Resort and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2011. Based on the iconic Lucasfilm “Star Wars” films, the attraction will include immersive new elements that will take guests to many familiar places in the Star Wars galaxy.
For Walt Disney World in Florida, Rasulo outlined plans for the largest expansion in the history of the Magic Kingdom, vastly increasing the size of Fantasyland by 2013. Guests will soon be able to:
* Visit their favorite Disney Princess in her castle, cottage, or chateau to share a dance with Cinderella; celebrate Sleeping Beauty’s birthday with the Good Fairies; or join Belle in an enchanting story performance in the Beast’s castle library.
* Be Our Guest and dine in one of three enchanted rooms inside the Beast’s castle.
* Fly with Dumbo high above brand new circus grounds, twice the size of the existing attraction with a new interactive, three-ring circus tent.
* Journey under the sea with Ariel, The Little Mermaid, in her very own attraction – also opening at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim in 2011.
* Meet Tinker Bell and her friends in the magical world of Pixie Hollow.
Rasulo provided updates on the multi-year expansion of Disney’s California Adventure including the new “World of Color” attraction slated to open in the spring of 2010 and the addition of the 12-acre Cars Land scheduled to open in 2012 where guests will literally step into the town of Radiator Springs and its six acres of hand-carved rockwork.
Rasulo noted the progress of several other recently-announced projects including the three new lands coming to Hong Kong Disneyland by 2014; the Disney Dream, the new ship being built by Disney Cruise Line; the many diverse itineraries being offered by Adventures by Disney that take guests on 19 unique, once-in-a-lifetime guided vacation experiences; and Disney’s first family destination resort on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
Rasulo’s keynote presentation was only part of the D23 EXPO experience. Guests were able to discover:
* Never-before-seen models of upcoming Disney attractions.
* Up close and personal visits with Lucky the Dinosaur and Wall-E.
* A preview of the most advanced Audio-Animatronics figures ever created by Walt Disney Imagineering.
* Displays showcasing cutting-edge effects technologies that are being developed for Disney attractions, shows and venues.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The Walt Disney Co. is punching its way into the universe of superheroes and their male fans with a deal announced Monday to acquire . for $4 billion, bringing characters such as Iron Man and Spider-Man into the family of Mickey Mouse and "Toy Story."
The surprise cash-and-stock deal sent Spidey senses tingling in the comic book world. It could lead to new rides, movies, action figures and other outlets for Marvel's 5,000 characters, although Marvel already was aggressively licensing its properties for such uses.
The deal won't have benefits right away, and Disney stock sank on the news. Disney expects a short-term profit hit, and Marvel characters from X-Men to Daredevil are locked up in deals with other movie studios and . But Disney's CEO, Robert Iger, promised an action-packed future.
"`Sparks will fly' is the expression that comes to mind," Iger told analysts.
, the 86-year-old co-creator of "Spider-Man" and many more of Marvel's most famous characters, said he was thrilled to be informed of the marriage Monday morning.
"I love both companies," he said. "From every point of view, this is a great match."
The deal is expected to close by the end of the year and marks Disney's biggest acquisition since it purchased Pixar Animation Studios Inc., the maker of "Up" and "Cars," for $7.4 billion in stock in 2006.
Marvel would follow another storied comic book publisher into the arms of a media conglomerate. DC Comics, the home of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, was bought by Warner Bros. — now part of Time Warner Inc. — in 1969.
Buying Marvel is meant to improve Disney's following among men and boys. Disney acknowledges it lost some of its footing with guys as it poured resources into female favorites such as "Hannah Montana" and the Jonas Brothers.
"Disney will have something guys grew up with and can experience with their kids, especially their sons," said Gareb Shamus, whose company Wizard Entertainment Group runs several of the Comic-Con conventions around the nation.
Marvel TV shows already account for 20 hours per week of programming on Disney's recently rebranded, boy-focused cable network, Disney XD, and that looks likely to increase, Iger said. The shows are "right in the wheelhouse for boys," he said.
There will be some lag before Marvel's trove of characters are fully developed at Disney, because of licensing deals Marvel has with other studios.
For example, Sony Corp.'s Columbia Pictures is developing the next three "Spider-Man" sequels, starting with "Spider-Man 4" set for a May 2011 release. News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox has the long-term movie rights to the "X-Men," "Fantastic Four," "Silver Surfer" and "Daredevil" franchises.
Both studios maintain those rights in perpetuity unless they fail to make more movies.
Separately, Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures has a five-picture for Marvel-made movies, the first of which will be " ," set for release next May. Paramount said it expects to continue working with Marvel and Disney.
General Electric Co.'s Universal Studios has an attraction called Marvel Super Hero Island in Orlando, Fla., that will stay in existence as long as Universal wants to keep it there and follows the contract terms, Universal said.
Disney said it will honor and re-examine Marvel's licensing deals upon expiration and may extend the profitable ones. Iger noted that when it bought Pixar, that company also had third-party licensing agreements that eventually expired, allowing the companies to move forward together.
Despite beginning to make its own movies, starting with "" last year, licensing remained a key driver of Marvel's $206 million in profit and $676 million in revenue last year. Iger said Disney could give Marvel broader global distribution and better relationships with retailers to sell Marvel products.
However, analyst David Joyce of Miller Tabak & Co. noted that the $4 billion offer was at "full price."
Marvel shareholders will receive $30 per share in cash, plus 0.745 Disney shares for every Marvel share they own. That values each Marvel share at $50, a 29 percent premium over Friday's closing stock price. The final ratio of cash and stock will be adjusted to ensure Disney stock makes up at least 40 percent of the final offer.
Marvel shares shot up $9.72, or 25 percent, to close at $48.37 on Monday. Disney shares fell 80 cents, or 3 percent, to $26.04.
Disney investors were probably unhappy that the deal will reduce earnings per share in the short term and might not turn positive until the company's 2012 fiscal year. Disney's earnings per share will drop partly because the company will issue 59 million new shares, and partly because Marvel plans to release two costly blockbusters, "Thor" and "The First Avenger: Captain America" in 2011. DVD sales of those films likely won't roll in until fiscal 2012.
Disney said the boards of both companies have approved the transaction, but it will require an antitrust review and the approval of Marvel shareholders.
If it works out, Marvel's chief executive, Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter, 66, will pocket a hefty payday. He snatched Marvel assets out of bankruptcy in 1998, in a deal that valued the company at around $450 million including debt, outmaneuvering investors Carl Icahn and Ronald Perelman. His 37 percent stake in Marvel is now worth about $1.5 billion.