Saturday, May 20, 2006

Shamu and Soarin'
See the rest of the pictures at my photo album!

Wednesday I headed down to Orlando fairly early for me, mainly to see the special presentation for he new Shamu Show, Believe, at SeaWorld for annual pass holders. I arrived about 1 and registered and instead of the lame wristband I was told we would get, we got a pretty nice lanyard with a really nice card on it promoting the show- the type that show movement when you tip them to each side a bit- what is that called?
[Just in from Tony West, producer of the must see movie on DVD, Dream on Silly Dreamer, "Those pictures you mentioned are called "lenticular" Ibelieve."]
The show was MC'd by the President of Entertainment or something for SeaWorld- in any case, the big man behind the whole thing as far as creating this new show goes, and he got a big ovation and was very excited about presenting this new show. then about 40 minutes of videos showing the development of the new show and some commercial spots and the new intro video for the show with a couple of animated penguins complaining about Shamu getting all the attention when clearly they were superior- and I do enjoy watching the penguins- and then into the show. There are basically two main things that form the foundation of the new show: first is the new stage set, which aside form being architecturally striking, also features four 10 x 20 foot digital LCD screens that not only show a great image, but also move around and rotate to create varying formations of screens from 40 x 20 to 10 x 80 or even four completely separated screens. Then there is the idea of a story line behind the whole presentation. Much to my delight, the story starts on the screen, and begins with a young boy whittling a whale’s tail! The idea is to believe in your dreams and go for it, and this boy becomes one of the trainers at SeaWorld (not sure if that is true or not) and the whole idea is played out to music and movement with the whales actually working in time to the beautiful orchestration. There are 30 new "behaviors" in the show, including one where Shamu comes up on the front platform, which he has done in every show, but this time, he actually goes way up and spins around on his belly! Oh! And the move where two whales with trainers on their noses, head right toward each other and rise up together! That is totally awesome! The overall show is much like what has happened at PhilharMagic: the "technology" has been proven, now what can be done with it! This is what can be done with it for the Shamu show! This is one of those attractions that can justify a visit all on its own.

Wednesday night I headed over to DownTown Disney to catch a movie, saw Mission Impossible III, and it was very good, though hardly resembling the concept of the TV show anymore. Then hung around the area for a bit. I browsed the Virgin Mega Store and checked out the titles they had on sale. To my great surprise, they had an old sci-fi classic on DVD, Colossus: The Forbin Project! Great movie! Or rather, kinda lame movie, but really neat! Bogus acting and writing etc, but still really neat! I guess a really interesting "B" movie. Watched it a couple of times after I wrote that, and it is actually the lighting and camera angles that make this movie look cheap. The acting, writing and timing is actually pretty good. It just looks a bit off.

Thursday I headed over to Epcot for my day at Disney, having finally decided that given one day and no park hopping, that Epcot had to be my choice. Okay, so I'm getting old! It basically came down to three factors. First, there was a beautiful carving in Germany that I wanted to get a good shot of with my new since I have been there camera; second, I find Epcot the most enjoyable park environmentally if one is just hanging out and not particularly looking to race around doing as many rides as possible; and third, Illuminations- just wouldn’t' be right to leave WDW without closing out the night with Illuminations!

Oh! And it was also the annual Flower and Garden Festival!

A couple of highlights in an otherwise fairly typical day at Epcot. First, I did head over to Germany to get that shot, and on the way stopped by Africa to visit the woodcarver there who I covered in a section in my book on woodcarving. He wasn’t there, but his grandson was, and I showed him the book and the part where his grandfather appears. He was very excited about it, and we traded contact information. I learned that his grandfather, David, had gone home to Kenya for a visit. But I also discovered that I had David's name wrong! So have corrected that for the new edition: Masaku, not Masuka! And I found out a bit more about him. Seems he traveled Europe for 20+ years carving and selling! Quite an adventurer! He never mentioned it, but it is now on a blurb for his new business card. Has a bit of history- seems all the men in his tribe are woodcarvers and he learned from his father who learned... and he has passed it on to his son and now to his grandson!

Later, I did do a couple of rides, Mission: Space, (didn't die), and Test Trak, and discovered that my camera will take long movie clips, not just ten seconds as the former one did, and much later discovered that the sound has to be turned on separately… Oh well. Then, just for the heck of it, I did Soarin’, having done it before, and not being particularly impressed, and certainly not enough for a long line wait, which was there, so I grabbed a fast pass and returned later; but instead of riding my ECV in, I walked in, despite it being a long walk, cause in the ECV you always end up in row three, and I wanted to try row one, the row that goes to the top of the screen. As I was planning on hitting the van for a nap after this ride anyway, I endured the strain on my legs and hips to get this shot at it. I had to wait a bit for my seat selection, but I am very happy to say oh my god was it worth it! Totally different experience from the top! I ended up doing it two more times that day (with naps after each long journey!) and had the top each time. I talked with another fellow who went through the same thing, and he thought it was such a different experience that they should simply remove the bottom row. It is that different! Frankly, the bottom row experience is a good fun movie, but motion wise, the effect is lost as you clearly have the bottom of the screen in your view, which just kills the illusion: at the top, you can even lean forward and not loose the illusion. Now having done that, I can see why some people have become addicted to this ride!

I also saw The Tokens perform at the Flower Power concert series- they did The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Enjoyable show, but nothing outstanding. Also saw the English Invasion perform in England, always good, and again, have a long vid clip of four mop tops silently moving their mouths and running their hands over their guitars… and got a shot with them, Mary Poppins and Alice!

Ended the night with Illuminations and went home happy.



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