BOTCON  AT  DISNEY
(griffin's 2010 BotCon report)


DISNEY - DAY 1


TUESDAY 22 JUNE

Simon and I left at 9.30am for the front of the hotel where the busses leave for the different Disney parks.
After a few minutes, we realised that we had to go to the lake at the back of the hotel, for the ferry to the Hollywood Studios. It was only about a 20 minute ferry ride, but after all the running around and waiting, we were at the Studios by 10.30.

First thing we did was go on one of the small internal tours (inside a replica of the Chinese Theatre at Hollywood).  It had buggies that seated about 20 people, and drove around themed sets - Classic Movies, Old Chicago, Western, Alien, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Tarzan, Casablanca, Fantasia and Wizard of Oz. It ended with a clip show, featuring some of the most memorable movie moments in History..


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Next was an Indiana Jones Stunt show at 11.30.  It was only just past 11am, and fortunately Simon was persistant in being there early, as it filled up really fast (there were only 3 shows a day)  On the way there, we passed by a building where they do American Idol auditions.

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And some weird boat thing in a pond.

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Inside the amphitheatre, the set was made to look like the openening scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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Complete with golden idol, and...

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Giant boulder...

The show started with a performer playing the role of Indiana, and he played out the opening scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Except, in this version, he gets rolled over by the giant boulder.
The 'director' comes out and says 'cut' and the styrofoam boulder is rolled back into position.  Indiana is introduced to the audiance, and then the giant set is broken up into 3 parts and wheeled away to reveal 'Act 2'.

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The market scene which Marian in the Movie is kidnapped and presumed killed.

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It even had a truck that flips and explodes (although, this photo shows the truck after the fire was put out by those people holding extinguishers).

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Those sets also roll away to reveal Act 3 - the escape scene in the Movie.

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Complete with explosions and fake gunfire.

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That took about half an hour, so next thing we went to was the Star Wars ride.
Outside the ride, made to look like Endor.

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There was virtually no line at this one, which was unlike just about every other ride/exhibit there that day.
Inside we are greeted by R2D2.

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And C3PO, and some of Admiral Akbar's troops.

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These are not the droids you're looking for...

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The ride itself was just a 'strap-in and get tossed around in front of a giant viewscreen' type thing.  It basically had us on a passenger transport on the way to somewhere, but the droid pilot is a bit hungry for action, so takes a detour past the Deathstar while the Rebels are attacking.  It looked like we were flying amongst all the fighters, and even did an 'attack run' on the trenches of the Death Star.
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In the Gift Shop, they had heaps of exclusive Star Wars toy items, including some Disney related ones. Plus, they even had some Star Wars Transformers, but fortunately nothing new enough for me to pay their hefty prices.

We made our way to the Car Stunt show at about half past midday. On the way I saw three of the FunPub staff (Karl, Rick, Pete) obviously enjoying the last chance of a holiday before the chore of the convention started.
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One of the street scenes.
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And some Disney characters doing a performance and then driving off...

...the latest incarnation of the Power Rangers franchise, perhaps.
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With only 2 shows a day, we made sure we got into this one early enought to get a good seat, close to center.

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Looking left...

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...and looking right.

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Even Dispensor got a good seat...

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We were there for for about half an hour before it started at about 1.15pm.  The show went for about 40 minutes, showing us different vehicle stunts used in movies.
The first was precision driving, called 'Ballet Chase', which have the cars weaving around and between each other.

The red car was the one being chased by four black cars.
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Then we had a jump stunt, with a ramp up the middle of the left trailer, for the car to land on the top of the truck in the middle, and then continue driving off onto some inflatable bags behind the fruit stand.

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After that, we had a Herbie VW come out for a bit, and then split in half and keep driving around the set.

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A stunt to show a car being driven around without a driver (made to look like it was remote controled).
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But the driver was just outside of the vehicle...

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Next was a motorcycle chase stunt.

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Which included some 2 wheeled action from the cars as well...

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Motorcycles can't have all the 2-wheeled fun.

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This also led to a short jetski chase as well, with everyone shooting (blanks) at each other.

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Hmmm, a ramp is being set up next to a building.  I wonder what could be happeneing there...

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Oh look, its a car coming out of the second storey window.

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And with some pyro-technics, we have our thrilling conclusion to the chase.

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Thankyou thankyou, you've been a great audience...

It was about 2pm by now, so Simon suggested lunch.
We headed over to a place that had burgers (of course), which took us past...

...some Disney themed buildings...
(with queue waiting times of up to 90 minutes)

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And this nicely done garden, inspired by Fantasia.

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Looming overhead was the Hollywoode Tower Hotel ride.  But more on that later.
First, it was burger time...

It was about 3pm when we made our way back to the Backlot tour start.
There was a heavy focus on Michael Bay and Pearl Harbor with the first part of the Backlot tour.

Inside the holding yard, there were displays and models from Pearl Harbor, plus video clips from behind the scenes and comments from Bay himself.

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The first part of the tour was a demonstration on how some aquatic special affects are done (for movies like Pearl Harbour).

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The wave making device.  When a scene is filmed inside a ship, the water rushes down the spillway in through the windows/portals, simulating a stormy voyage.

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Again, Michael Bay wants to tell us more about his work...

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Finally, some action.

A bombardment of shells and bullets from the planes above.
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Plus torpedos in the water, setting off explostions as well.

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Then we're led through a props room, full of random stuff.

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Onto the busses, we started the actual tour.
Another Mickey hedge.

Our host told us that the Studios park at Disneyworld was built in 1988 to work in conjunction with their actual Hollywood studios (to have two favourable weather sites for filming), which was built at Burbank, California way back in 1939.  They also said that the actual Disneyworld site in Florida was first scouted in 1971, and then huge parcels of land was bought up, and progressively built into what is now known as Disneyworld over those 40 years.
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Driving past the costumes workshop.

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And the Props workshop.

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Then past a few movie vehicle props.

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The Herbie VW used in the Stunt show, showing how it is basically two cars that can join together.

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As the main climactic feature of the tour, we had a fuel truck stranded in a canyon...

Looks pretty ordinary and harmless...
I wonder why they told us that there was a chance we could get wet on this tour.  We haven't been anywhere near water...

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Uh, okay...

That didn't last long.
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But now the truck is on fire...

All that flamable material...
This can't end well.

Ah, but we have a flood of water to help put the fire out.


And that was supposed to have us worried - that the flood of water would continue to rush down towards us. But fortunately, it flowed down into a cavern before it reached us.

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Heading back to the start, we passed by yet another Mickey shaped hedge, and also a water tower with ears.

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Some last movie props before the end.
(the ship from the Flight of the Navigator)

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Vaguely familiar...

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Can't quite put my finger on this one either...

The Beatles come to mind with this one.

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Awww, and poor Herbie... must be one of the original ones, left out to rust.

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Off the bus, we went inside a building that held exhibits for the American Film Institute, for the last part of the tour. It had some small exhibits and a gift shop.

What is with all the Star Wars stuff here at Disney?  I didn't think that they had anything to do with the franchise, and yet we have a ride, we have vehicle props, costume props and official/exclusive Disney Merchandise in the Star Wars theme.  Very odd.
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More for the Star Wars enthusiasts (for those who can't read the sign above - it talks about George Lucas using war footage of planes dogfighting in the skies as a reference for his space battle scenes.
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Aint he a handsome fella...

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Something from the recent Prince Caspian Movie.

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More costumes.

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And apparently, a costume prop used for the first Alien movie (probably more as a stand-in prop, but still just as gruesome).

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The evolution of film cameras and film over the last 100 years.
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Oustide now, it was about quarter to four, and Simon was about done with the Studios park and was thinking about checking out one of the others while it was still early.
I on the other hand wanted to check out one last thing (the Hollywood Tower Hotel ride) and then head back to the hotel, as the day was hot and I was getting tired. After all, this was my third day in the mid-30 degree, humid Orlando heat, so I was looking forward to having a rest in the cool of the hotel room (and get online to check up on our messageboard).
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Speaking of heat...

Short shorts seemed to be the dress code of the tourists.
Who likes short shorts?  I like short shorts...
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After that distraction, we made our way back towards the middle of the park, for Simon to go back out the entrance, and I to go onto the Hollywood Tower Hotel that was on the other side from the Backlot tour.
On the way we passed by the Muppets courtyard, with a giant Buzz Lightyear looking over.

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Plus a rotating fountain with Muppets characters.

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And the Muppets exhibit, with about a half hour wait time to it, which was okay since we weren't too fussed about going into any more exhibits today.
Besides, after going around two of the other Disney parks that week, this is a place I would want to come back to for at least a week, to have the time to go through everything.
Anyone wanna come with me?

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Ah, the Jedi Training Academy...
This was something that caught my eye on the scheduled events listing, but couldn't work out where it was supposed to be when we were at the Star Wars ride earlier in the day.  Fortunately, when we walked past it at about 4pm on our way back to the entrance of the park, a new class was just beginning.
As much as I was grateful for Simon urging us to get to the Indiana show half an hour early, he was just as grateful for me for urging us to stick around to watch this, despite being out in the open heat of the day. Because this was indeed a show for all, despite it being designed as an activity for the kiddies. (yes, I wanted to be ten again to join in...)
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It started out with a Jedi Master and his apprentice coming out and asking for about a dozen volunteers under the age of 10-12.

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Each kid was loaned a robe and the Jedi introduced us/them the the Jedi Academy.

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The young padawans were all brought out (in front of their parents) and allocated spots on the stage.

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Each was then given a lightsaber...

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...and shown a few Jedi moves.

But before they could complete their training...
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... a couple of Storm troopers showed up, directing all the students off to one side.  Hmm, just a couple of Stormtroopers... shouldn't be any trouble for a Jedi Master...

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Uh oh...

Now we're in trouble...
The Dark Lord of the Sith has just arrived to turn these new Jedi students to the Dark Side of the Force.

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Impressive, most mpressive...
(even had the Jame Earl Jones/Star Wars voice too - who ever it was in the costume, they did a good job of the voice)

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But onto business.  There are Jedi to recruit as Sith...

Not if I can help it, says the Jedi Master.
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Time for the students to become the master, and complete their training...

Each was brought up before Darth Vader, and directed to attack with 4 or 5 set moves.
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As each had their turn to take on the Dark Lord, Vader walked around taunting the audience and the other students.
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He's not so tough - even a girl can take him on...

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After having no luck with recruiting any of the Jedi trainees, Vader decides to take out his frustration on the parents, kinda...

(so many lines from Spaceballs comes to mind here...)
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With all the newly graduated Jedi Knights to contend with, Vader decides that maybe retreat is a wise option.

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So back into the Imperial Bunker he goes. Maybe at the next class, there will be an apprentice for him to train and rule the galaxy together with.

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Um, boss... what about us?

That's it, we're outa here.
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That was worth 20 minutes of middle-of-the-day heat.
As Simon and I parted ways for the day, I was back at the central stage, shaped as a giant Fantasia hat.

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It was about 4.30 when I got to the Tower Hotel ride, and there was only about 10-15 minute wait.
This was one thing I really wanted to do, no matter how much of a fear of heights I have (I get anxious in a lift inside a building more than 10 storeys - so having a freefall 'lift' was not something I was that keen on, but one must face one's fears).

Looking up at this giant structure, it amazed me to think that this entire building that can be seen for miles away (it's pretty flat out here) only has one purpose for the general public - a free-fall ride (two actually - but the entire structure around is just for show).
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Inside the waiting area, is the lobby. The story is that the hotel was struck by lightning that demolished part of it almost a century ago, and it has been abandoned ever since, as it is haunted by the people who died in the disaster...

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The ride itself is a platform of about 20 seats, which you have to be strapped in to, and make sure you have nothing loose on your or in open pockets. The lift/platform then goes up about 5-odd storeys and the doors open just as it free-falls back to ground floor, with only the seat belt holding you down.
(those opennings in the photo below are where lift-doors open and close as the ride-platform goes up and down)
After 4 or 5 cycles of up and down, the platform returns to the basement, and we get out.

It was now about 5pm, and I headed back to the ferry, which I was lucky to not have to wait long for as it was just arriving when I got there (because I was tired, hot and sweaty).
Back at the hotel room about half an hour later, to clean up, eat and do some internet stuff.

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griffin @ otca.com.au

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