Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Redesigning 'Finding Nemo - The Musical' By Lauren Salisbury

By Lauren Salisbury
Marlin the clownfish is a safety enthusiast. After losing nearly all his family to a vicious barracuda, the overprotective dad does his best to keep his remaining son safe from the ocean’s dangers in 2003’s Academy Award-winning film “Finding Nemo.”
After an epic journey through the “big blue world” to rescue Nemo, Marlin learns the best way to protect your loved ones is by giving them the tools and education to stay safe.
At “Finding Nemo – The Musical,” a Broadway-style stage show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Cast Members have taken Marlin’s philosophy to heart. With an ergonomic redesign of the show and an infusion of best practices, the team has been able to reduce incidents by 70 percent in one year.
Marlin’s safety attitude has rubbed off on the Cast of “Finding Nemo – The Musical” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
Nemo and friends were brought to life for the park show in 2007 by Michael Curry Design, a veteran puppetry firm whose portfolio includes “Disney’s The Lion King” on Broadway and ”Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular” at Disney California Adventure Park. Advancements in ergonomics united the puppet builders and a group of Walt Disney World safety experts to reexamine the creative production.
To make the characters’ eyes and mouth move, puppeteers squeeze a handle resembling a brake lever on a bicycle, a movement repeated thousands of times each show by performers in the principal roles of Marlin, Dory and Nemo. When first designed, the handle’s distance was beyond a comfortable range for most performers.
After examining hand measurement data, the team installed new levers with a decreased handle width. The result is a more comfortable and safe experience, and fewer hand injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Bill Sheppard presents a lighter, ergonomically friendly Nemo puppet.
Because male and female performers typically have different body measurements, puppets were adjusted to reflect those differences. Dory primarily is played by a female performer, so the puppet’s top lever and handle were redesigned to better fit a woman’s grip. The handle also was extended to rest comfortably in the performer’s hand without much effort.
For the comfort and safety of all performers, most puppets also were redesigned to be lighter.
“When you hold something for [the length of the show], even just a pound in reduction makes a huge difference,” said Susan Shultz, an Entertainment technician who has been part of the production since opening day. “It’s been amazing to see the work that has been done on the puppets. We tested every puppet for improvements.”

Susan Shultz compares the new Dory handle, left, to the old version.
In addition to modifying the colorful puppets, the team also applied ergonomics to the show’s choreography. The Safety team made suggestions on moments where performers could incorporate better practices such as using two hands instead of one, and Safety in Motion techniques.
In the past, turning puppets caused stress on performers’ wrists.
By adjusting the show’s choreography, puppeteers’ wrists now stay in the green zone.
A key principle of ergonomics is to avoid repetitive motions to reduce the risk of injury. Now, each of the show’s 18 performers and 15 technicians is cross-trained on four to five roles to vary the muscles used.  
“This has been a big success,” said Bill Sheppard, area manager. “Having multiple roles is very helpful for our performers and technicians so they aren’t using the same muscles every day. This also keeps people mentally in the game,” he added.
The safety success at “Finding Nemo –The Musical” will contribute to future designs in the puppetry industry, according to Sharon.
 “Nothing like this had ever been done,” she said. “These are unique puppet designs and they are going to help with other productions outside the company.”

The Haunted Mansion Tour

Before I get started, I want to let you know that I am writing this out of excitement and not out of professionalism, so forgive me for all the grammar mistakes I might have due to the awesomeness! Its a crime of passion you could say.

            My day started at 5am because I couldn’t stay asleep, I was way too excited. I had to be on my way there be 6am anyways so I wasn’t to bad.  It’s always a great day when you get to wonder through the Utilidoors, and nothing can beat an introduction like opening up a random door into a completely empty Liberty Square and rounding the corner to see the Mansion staring you down with its hovering eeriness.
            Our tour began in front of the mansion, where our guide, Lauren(a Butler for 13 years) greeted us and took us inside. After a short introduction while standing on the motionless walkway at load, we began to head into the scenes. We came upon the portrait hallway, where we were aloud to touch the paintings and get a better understanding of how the lightening and picture change synced with each other. Next we headed into the library, stocked with priceless first editions of course. It’s dark on the ride, but look closely by the table right before the scene ends. You’ll notice not one, but two Jack Skellingtons. One of his face on the bindings of a book on the table, then a full body on the front of one on the floor.

            Our next hidden gem is in the next room. There were a lot of fun little things to look at. I was extremely interested in looking at the sheet music on the piano. The words were written in a different language so that even made it more interesting! If you look closely there is an official and unofficial hidden Mickey in the design of the music stand.

            The never ending staircases were great to see, because this is the first time you see up close the candles that very realistically move like a real flame.. If you remember before the update a few years back, spiders and cobwebs occupied this room and some of the corner around to the endless hallway. They decided to change the scene because even though the ride is build to spook you a bit, some guests were genuinely displeased because of a huge fear of spiders. I strongly feel this was a fitting change. The effect to create the moving wallpaper eyes is actually quite brilliant, and it works seamlessly blending into the wall itself.

            As we came around the to the Endless Hallway, this is where it hit me. You know when you’re excited about something, and you are there absorbing everything but the idea comes into your head that this tour is only just beginning!! That soon we would be in the ballroom, yeah, this is where that moment hit me… So we step up into the hallway and one of the many things I love about the queue is the velvety walls, well they have those same touchable walls in there, only in a red and black pattern. The hallway goes nearly 20 feet back until you get to the floating candelabra, and then who know how far after that, it’s endless!

            We then entered the Conservatory, and may I add this room is simple and brilliant. There is so much detail in this little scene that you can only take in so much before you move on. It is dark but if you notice the coffin, it has designs of mournful faces and bones for the handles. All of the flowers around the coffin is there for more than just showing respect for the dead, in that time they didn’t have the proper ways to keep the bodies as nice, so the flowers would mask the smell. You also encounter the raven for the first time! Lots of great speculation surrounding the bird, I’ll keep my story of the Haunted Mansion to myself for now. This isn’t the last time you’ll see the raven. As you continue through the Corridor of Doors, checkout the pictures, some depicting the screamers that you see later in the graveyard. But one stands out among the rest, and that is the infamous Hat Box Ghost! I’m hoping that If Del Toro’s film in the upcoming years is successful that they will revive him! We wondered into the Séance Room, which has the most security out of all the areas in the Mansion. No there aren’t any lasers that will cut your face off if you jump out, but if you do decide to leave your doombuggy, you can be sure that the ride will stop immediately and Madame Leota will float up to the ceiling and stay there until it is once again safe to come down. Also there is about a 5 foot jump to get to her platform and the only thing stopping you from falling about 10ft. to the floor is a little cage, want to risk it? Well, people do daily, and they get hurt. Not always do they make the jump, but they set off the sensor mats placed in the flooring. Most attractions have things like this that notifies CMs right away, so keep that in mind if you ever choose to hop out.

            We quickly walked through the upstairs ballroom hallway because we would get to that in just a bit. Next up is the attic! This room has been on my mind for years, there is so much detail in there and you pass by so quickly! With each little setup there is a wedding dress, portrait, and even a marriage license! It is very small, but there is also little brides and grooms for each section, the groom always with his head broken off. It is also set each with an empty birdcage to symbolize that she has “flown the coop!” clever right? Except for one husband, this is because he was a hunter and wouldn’t be believable to have a live bird in his home. Take notice of the last husband, George, does he look familiar? He should, it is Imagineer Joe Rohde!

            We then headed down into the graveyard to meet the Caretaker of his faithful dog. If you are wondering, yes, I got to pet him, and it was AMAZING. The graveyard was quite nostalgic to walk through. I really took time to look at all the detail they added into the Hitchhiking Ghosts. I just wish they could have done that when we see them in our buggy. To me they seem very flat, innovative technology yes! But I loved knowing there was an animatronic actually there and not just a screen.

I was already freaking out, but it was at this moment when I started to get that feeling. The feeling of going from that excited little kid, to the legs going numb feeling because we’re about to go where I’ve dreamt of going my whole life, little kid. Which was inside the Ballroom. Anyone who knows anything in the slightest about the Haunted Mansion can picture this room. It’s where the ghosts are first introduced to you, the Pepper’s Ghost effect that has shocked guests here and in Disneyland for over 40 years! And here I was, about to walk the very floors I have only seen from up high.
            When I first walked into the room, it was like I muted out the world. I didn’t care what anyone was saying or doing, it was just the room and I. It was amazing just how thin and tall the room looked from on the floor and yet how much room there was to walk around. All of the webs that you see in this room ar the original webs spun up by the Imagineers, done with special string and not the glue the use to create them throughout the rest of the ride. We got to feel them, and yes, I was even excited to touch a spider web…  Just seeing the ghosts on the other side of the glass was amazing. Knowing that I’ve never actually seen them in real life until now, because technically we’ve all only seen their reflections. Next time you go, imagine me running around like a child on Christmas and hyperventilating. Even as we all left the scene, I stayed behind just so I could be in the room alone for a quick second…and oh was it was a beautiful second. Every little bit of detail that went into this attraction is sheer brilliance, and most of it goes over looked because it is either too dark to see with the naked eye, or you just haven’t caught it yet.

There is still so much more I can rave about, but then this already extremely long write-up would be…well, lets just say if you’ve read this far, you must be a great fan of The Haunted Mansion like me, and for that, thank you. Let me know through anyway of contacting me if you liked this and would like me to go into even more detail about the amazingness that is the Mansion!

To see all the pictures from my ride through, with flash, head to my Flickr HERE!

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Sunday, April 24, 2011


In honor of TRON: Legacy coming out last year, Disney created a nightly promotional event called ElecTRONica. Taking you from the real world, through the portal, and onto the Grid. They literally transformed Hollywood Pictures Backlot at California Adventure into a whole new land! It was so popular that despite it supposing to end months ago, they have extended its running though Labor Day 2011.

There they have everything from a full functioning Flynn's Arcade, including Flynn Tokens and the most popular arcade games from the 80's, to grabbing a favorite tasty beverage from the End of Line club! Not only that but they have entertainment everywhere. Identity Disk jugglers, to TRON Dancers fill the streets, along with your favorite techno music pumping through the air. My favorite of all the entertainment, is Laser Man. There really isn't a way of describing his act, you just have to see it to get the full effect. Everything can be seen in the video link HERE. YouTube will have none of my video, so I've resorted to Vimeo. Its an overview of ElecTRONica as a whole, then the second half is Laser Man. Enjoy...

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Entertainment Designer Forum 2011

         Let me just start off by saying I could listen to these creative minds talk for hours. The stories they shared were extremely entertaining. There were two panels of speakers, one at 6:30 and the other at 9. They were connected by an auction of assorted props from HHN, Howl-O-Scream, and some Harry Potter goodies. Both last year and this years event was held at the Mad Cow Theater in Downtown Orlando.

          Literally everything about this event was great, because not only did it give a chance for people like me to meet big names in the theme park industry, but it was also for an amazing cause. Every single bit of profit made there went to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, and it was in memory of Stephanie Girard, a college and friend of most all the speakers. They said last year they raised roughly $6,000 which is simply amazing, every bit counts. I don't know yet how much was made this year, but I can only hope it topped last year.

          Both sessions were hosted by Universal Show Director Michael Aiello and went as followed; all of the speakers introduced themselves and told a bit of what they do in their respected fields, then opened up the floor for any questions. I love question and answer sessions because they often lead to very interesting topics and discussions.

          If I talked about everything that was brought up throughout the night I'd have a small book, and a better memory then I've got, so I'll talk about a few favorites. It was great talking to T.J. Manarino about his work on Double Dare, and Legends of the Hidden Temple. Being a 90's baby those shows are very close to heart, and seeing as though TV in general is lacking quite a bit these days it was nice to talk about the good ol' days. I also loved watching James Keaton talk about his first experiences playing Jack the Clown. I could see and hear a little bit of Jack in him...or was it the other way around? Listening to the countless hours and detail Eric Baker put into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is very impressive. When asked he mentioned that although there was no official count, there were thousands of props used though out the land.

          It seems that with every passing year this event will get even more popular, and I have nothing but great things to say about it. I cannot wait to attend 2012!

6:30 Session:
From left to right: Michael Aiello, Patrick Braillard, TJ Mannarino, James Keaton, Mary Nesler, Eric Baker, and Rick Spencer.

9:00 Session:
From left to right: Kim Gromoll, Doug Sauls, Robbi Lepre, Ray Kiem, Cindy White, and David Hughes.
 A few of the items auctioned off:

If you or anyone you know would like to donate to Universal's Donation Team for American Cancer Society Relay for Life, head here to do so: ACF Universal Relay Rangers, it is greatly appreciated:)

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Walt Disney World Value Resorts

          There is no better feeling then finally checking in to your favorite Disney resort after a long day of travel, and even after all that hard work, you're still to excited to sleep knowing that just next day, you will head to the place where dreams come true! Well just recently, I had the opportunity to wonder around some of the value resorts to broaden my outlook on the hotels.
          Many people feel that they are on the lower end, but in my opinion, they are to an extent, but the giant characters around every turn make up for it! Our stop this time was to the All-Star Movies!

This hotel opened periodically throughout 1999, the first time on January 15 with the Mighty Ducks and 101 Dalmatians, then on March 1st opened Fantasia and the Love Bug buildings, then finally completing the hotel on April 15th with the Toy Story buildings! Construction began late 1992, that’s 7 years in the making! It is located in the Animal Kingdom resort area.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how nice the lobby and gift show area was, there were movie set spotlights shining around the shop and the surrounding theme of early Hollywood.

Next up was the World Premiere Food Court, which I loved! There were five different stands you could get various foods from, sort of like the food pods in the Star Light Cafe in the Magic Kingdom. They were named the Majestic, the Lyric, the Grand, Roxy, and the Rialto. All named after different types of famous theaters serving all kinds of different food.(Pasta, BBQ, Deli exc.) The Grand was great for a quick snack, or to grab something prepackaged to take up to the room for later. 

I came across this amazing Tie-Dye Cheese Cake, I'll be honest, I never got a chance to try it, but the fact that it was rainbow food makes it awesome in my book!

This is sort of straying away from the review, but it's not to often to see the forgotten Disney movie Atlantis. I don't want to put it down because I haven't fully seen it, but it must not of done as well as they had hoped.

Now heading out into the courtyard you immediately see why these hotels are so famous, the giant figurers! This section was Fantasia, and you can see the book is opening and letting out all the characters to tell their story.

You can tell this soldier has definitely served his time.

Now we come to the 101 Dalmatians section of the hotel. Every little kid, and the kids at heart, can't help but run around falling over things because their eyes are fix up in the air. Pongo standing at 30 feet and Perdita at 25 tower over you. One night here and you’ll be seeing spots for days!

Next stop is my personal favorite, Toy Story. I love this area because of how it’s laid out. To enter you have to walk into Andy’s room, his “Keep Out” sign didn’t work on me!

To your right you immediately see a 30 foot tall Woody doll slouched over against a bookshelf. I think this is an extremely cool concept, because now you are the one that’s toy sized.

Upon looking at the books closer I noticed titles like “Tin Toy” and “The Adventures of Andre and Wally B.” which are some of the names of Pixar’s very first animated shorts.

In front of Woody are Rex and Bo Peep!

Across the way standing tall at roughly 45 feet tall, is Buzz Lightyear!

I plan on staying here the first chance I get, definitely brought the 90’s nerd out in me, and oh do I miss the 90’s! I can’t speak for the rooms just yet, but once I spend a night I’ll be sure to follow up!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Orlando Flash Mob at Collaborate 11

          Today, April 12th, at precisely 12pm, the unsuspecting people at Collaborate 11' were entertained by Orlando's newest Flash Mob! Randy Ross and Orange County's former Commissioner Linda Stewart, along with many talented others put together this fun dance!(video below) The crowd loved it with huge applause, most all of the Flashers left right away but I lagged behind to overhear what the onlookers were saying. All I heard was positive feedback. I can't help but think the few people in the back of the center that couldn't leave their booth were left wondering what had just happened. I mean, fun loud music, and people rushing an area in synchronized dance can do that.

For the full video in HD click HERE

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Celebrating 500 Followers!

          I can't thank you all enough for making these past few years a ton of fun, it's been great bringing you on all of my adventures with me! Also networking and finally meeting some of you in person over the past months of being down here in Orlando has been a pleasure, and I hope to meet many more of you in the future! Well, now that I've taken care of the thanks, lets get to the contest!

          In honor of hitting 500 followers on my twitter(@DisneyMagicMan) I'll be hosting a give-away April 10th - Wednesday April 20th! The contest will end midnight on Wednesday, don't worry about the time change, I understand we're all over the map;) The Winner will be chosen at random out of the valid submissions and announced on Thursday April 21st!

What the winner will be bringing home:

In celebrating 500 followers I'll be giving away this currently SOLD OUT Epcot Pin Set that can now only be found on sale at Walt Disney World Resort!

and this Jack Skellington Vinylmation!

How to Enter: Head over to my Facebook page (here), don't forget to like it;) And in a short paragraph tell me one guilty Disney pleasure! It doesn't have to be park related, it can be related to anything Disney! For example mine is grabbing some Casey's Corner Corndog Nuggets or a delicious dolewhip and camping out to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade! Have some fun with it!

For a second chance to win you can tweet this:
( Enter to win "Celebrating 500 Followers" Contest by @DisneyMagicMan - )

Looking forward to reading all your guilty pleasures!

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