Monthly Archives: August, 2013

From Trees to Webs: Uprooting Knowledge through Visualization (the scottbot irregular)

NOTE: More evening trolling of blogs related to data visualization. I came across a blog by Scott Weingart called the scottbot irregular. In particular, I liked his research on Trees and Webs. So today, I am showcasing portions of his blog on this topic.

Enjoy!

Michael

Scott Weingart is a self-proclaimed juggler, an academic, and a nice guy. He feels pretty clueless about a lot of things, and his blog is his attempt to become less so.

Mr. Weingart has recently been working on journal submissions and a new book in the works, but he figured his readers would be interested in one of those forthcoming publications. This is an article [preprint]  that Scott will be presenting at the Universal Decimal Classification Seminar in The Hague this October, on the history of how we’ve illustrated the interconnections of knowledge and scholarly domains. It’s basically two stories: one of how we shifted from understanding the world hierarchically to understanding it as a flat web of interconnected parts, and the other of how the thing itself and knowledge of that thing became separated.

Porphyrian Tree: tree of Aristotle's categories from the 6th century. [via]

Porphyrian Tree: tree of Aristotle’s categories originally dating from the 6th century. [via some random website about trees]

A few caveats worth noting: first, because Scott didn’t want to deal with the copyright issues, there are no actual illustrations in the paper. For the presentation, he is going to compile a PowerPoint with all the necessary attributions and post it alongside this paper so you can all see the relevant pretty pictures. For your viewing pleasure, though, he did include some of the illustrations on his blog.

An interpretation of the classification of knowledge from Hobbes' Leviathan. [via e-ducation]

An interpretation of the classification of knowledge from Hobbes’ Leviathan. [via e-ducation]

Second, because this is a presentation directed at information scientists, the paper is organized linearly and with a sense of inevitability; or, as my fellow historians would say, it’s very whiggish. Scott did not have the space to explore the nuances of the historical narrative, as it would distract from the point and context of his presentation. he plans on writing a more thorough article to submit to a history journal at a later date, hopefully fitting more squarely in the historiographic rhetorical tradition.

H.G. Wells' idea of how students should be taught. [via H.G. Wells, 1938. World Brain. Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc]

H.G. Wells’ idea of how students should be taught. [via H.G. Wells, 1938. World Brain. Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc]

In the meantime, if you’re interested in reading Mr. Weingart’s pre-print draft, click here.

Recent map of science by Kevin Boyack, Dick Klavans, W. Bradford Paley, and Katy Börner. [via SEED magazine]

Recent map of science by Kevin Boyack, Dick Klavans, W. Bradford Paley, and Katy Börner. [via SEED magazine]

What is a Data Scientist? (Illustrated)

Data Scientist vs_ Engineer

NOTE: In my regular evening trolling of blogs related to data visualization, I came across a blog by Jalil Farid called [physics. mathematics. sports. technology. fun]. In particular, I liked his thoughts on what he perceived a data scientist to be. So today, I am showcasing portions of his blog on this topic.

Enjoy!

Michael

Jalil drew the above image for his boss sometime in mid-January of this year. He was trying to explain how the term “Data Scientist” is used for a bunch of industry roles that have varying skill-sets, and he tried to organize what he had seen and based on his knowledge of mathematics, he wanted to organize his findings. The image above is what Jalil created to explain some of what he had seen in the short time he had spent exploring the field of Data Scientist.

The most striking thing he noticed was the comparibility to physics. Except the beginnings of physics had large amounts of mathematics, and no connection to data. Data science appears to be a large amount of data, but we’re just starting to connect it to mathematics. Now physics seems happily divided between two sets of thought processes. These separations are two distinct scientific “directions” on the same road that culminate to bring us the awesome science we see today. Experimentalists are the people who design/engineer experiments that produce quality data. He talked about physicists that make a living coding in Fortran, who may occasionally build electronic components from scratch, can quickly set up a numerical solution to a PDE if its bounded, and who are notoriously connected with quality data with lots of floating point precision (they have to know what floating point precision is). But then there are some physicists who know what a Lebesgue integral is, who work with functions that are defined at every point, yet are differentiable nowhere. These guys are great at group theory, and seek to find and enjoy calculus of variations and solving Green’s functions.

So Mr. Farid posed the question of whether data science will go the same way? Will a distinction form between people who can communicate to serious engineers to monetize applications and keep the field going, and people who can communicate with mathematicians who can continue to develop new ideas? Will there be more interest in stochastic modeling and mathematically proving why this model simulates data nicely? Will there be continued growth in technologies that achieve high performance computing requirements for the big data problems of today?

Time will tell…

Jalil’s blog is http://www.jalilfarid.com/

Map of Named Colors (Click on Image) – From Visual.ly

Map of Named Colors

Infographic: Mapping an outbreak with DNA (Chicago Tribune)

DNA

Electoral college reform: What the U.S. map would look like if each state had the same population

The New United States

Neil Freeman posted an interesting question on his blog, Fake is the New Real:  What would the United States look like if each state were equal in population?

Freeman, an artist and urban planner, has redrawn the map of the United States to show what it would look like if the same number of people occupied each state. Freeman’s “United States redrawn as Fifty States with Equal Population” takes a radically simple stab at Electoral College reform, preserving its structure and function while simultaneously ending the overrepresentation of small states and underrepresentation of large states in presidential voting by eliminating small and large states altogether.

Using data from the 2010 U.S. Census, Freeman says his map’s redrawn boundaries “more closely follow economic patterns, since many states are more centered on one or two metro areas.” It also would end varying representation by population in the U.S. House.

“Currently, the population of House districts ranges from 528,000 to 924,000,” Freeman writes. “After this reform, every House seat would represent districts of the same size.”

Each state in Freeman’s redrawn America has a population of roughly 6,175,000.

Many state capitals were maintained in Freeman’s configuration; otherwise, large or central cities were chosen. Suggested names of the new states, he adds, were taken mainly from geographical features, including mountain ranges (Adirondack, Blue Ridge, Ozark), peaks (Mammoth), rivers (Susquehanna), lakes (Salt Lake), plants (Yerba Buena) and even caves (Shiprock).

For those interested in Freeman’s methodology, he explains:

The map began with an algorithm that grouped counties based on proximity, urban area, and commuting patterns. The algorithm was seeded with the fifty largest cities. After that, manual changes took into account compact shapes, equal populations, metro areas divided by state lines, and drainage basins. In certain areas, divisions are based on census tract lines. The District of Columbia is included into the state of Washington, with the Mall, major monuments and Federal buildings set off as the seat of the federal government.

The map, published in 2012, has received renewed interest in the wake of northern Colorado’s upcoming vote to secede from the rest of the state. “Keep in mind that this is an art project, not a serious proposal,” Freeman added. “So take it easy with the emails about the sacred soil of Texas.”

Advantages of this proposal

  • Preserves the historic structure and function of the Electoral College.
  • Ends the over-representation of small states and under-representation of large states in presidential voting and in the US Senate by eliminating small and large states.
  • Political boundaries more closely follow economic patterns, since many states are more centered on one or two metro areas.
  • Ends varying representation in the House. Currently, the population of House districts ranges from 528,000 to 924,000. After this reform, every House seat would represent districts of the same size. (Since the current size of the House isn’t divisible by 50, the numbers of seats should be increased to 450 or 500.)
  • States could be redistricted after each census – just like House seats are distributed now.

Disadvantages

  • Some county names are duplicated in new states.
  • Some local governments would experience a shift in state laws and procedures.

Steve Wexler, Data Revelations, Tableau, and How Best to Visualize Likert Scale Data

Steve WexlerSteve Wexler

Steve Wexler publishes the blog Data Revelations ( http://www.datarevelations.com ). He is a Certified Tableau Trainer who has developed thousands of interactive data visualizations.  As Director of Research and Emerging Technologies for The eLearning Guild, Steve designed, developed, and managed the world’s largest e-Learning data collection and analysis laboratory.  As Director of Research Systems for i4cp, Steve applied data visualization and advanced quantitative research expertise to transition the company from a static survey publication model to an online interactive model.

As founder and president of WexTech Systems, Inc., Steve was a pioneer in the development and use of single source publishing software and embedded help systems.  Steve also helped create AnswerWorks, a natural language search engine embedded in scores of commercial products that are used by millions of people every day.  Steve was also chief architect for Microsoft Windows 95 Starts Here, the official learning companion to Microsoft Windows 95.

Steve has consulted to and developed systems for major corporations including Microsoft, The Department of Defense, Chase, American Express, and Citigroup Global Markets Holdings.  Steve has also written several best-selling computer books and is a top presenter at trade shows and conferences.

Steve attended Princeton University and was awarded a fellowship from the University of Miami.

Monthly Makeover

Steve recently posted on his blog a makeover of Utah State Univeristy’s recently published Survey of Student Engagement. Utah State is one of many collegiate institutions that have participated in NSSE’s national survey of student engagement (see http://nsse.iub.edu/ and http://nsse.iub.edu/html/about.cfm).

The Good

Utah State University should be lauded for making its survey results available in an interactive format.  This is a great way to foster engagement from students, faculty, administration, and other interested parties.

The Bad and The Ugly

It’s almost impossible to glean anything useful from the published results.

The “Before” Picture

Here’s a screenshot of the analysis of the first set of questions in the survey (see http://usu.edu/aaa/nsse_paged.cfm?pg=1)

Five of the ten questions in the group -- this requires lots of scrolling and makes it impossible to compare results across questions

Five of the ten questions in the group — this requires lots of scrolling and makes it impossible to compare results across questions

Note that there are a total of ten Likert scale questions in this set and they are presented in the same order that they appeared in the survey.

Steve decided on a few questions he wanted answered from the graph above. Here is a list of things that he wanted to know, but could not glean from the visualizations:

  • Which activities were done most often and which were done least often?
  • Are there any significant differences when you compare results by gender?
  • Are there any significant differences when you compare results by ethnicity?

The “After” Picture

Steve has written extensively on the best ways to visualize Likert Scale data (see http://www.datarevelations.com/likert-scales-the-final-word.html and http://www.datarevelations.com/mostly-monthly-makeover-masies-mobile-pulse-survey.html).

Here’s what happens if we apply this approach to the Utah State University NNSE data.

Divergent stacked bars showing all responses

Divergent stacked bars showing all responses

And if we apply a parameter setting to only show extremes (e.g., “very often/often” vs. “sometimes/never”) the results are even easier to sort and grok.

Divergent stacked bars combining responses

Divergent stacked bars combining responses

This approach also allows us to break the data down by gender and see if there are any questions where there are major differences (and there are major differences).

Comparing results by gender

Comparing results by gender

We can likewise distinguish major differences from Caucasian / non-Caucasian respondents when we look at the results from Question 14.

Comparing results by ethnicity

Comparing results by ethnicity

Seven-Point Likert Scale Examples

Here’s another set of results for questions where the students could provide seven possible responses.

Impossible-to-compare seven-point LIkert scale questions

Impossible-to-compare seven-point LIkert scale questions

We can’t make any sense of the data when it’s presented as a bunch of bars, but when we use divergent stacked bars it becomes very easy to compare and sort the results.

Combined values for seven-point Likert scale questions

Combined values for seven-point Likert scale questions

Recommendations Steve had for Utah State University

  1. Continue to make these results public, but make the results usable.  You can do this by…
  2. Reshaping the data to make it much easier to manage in Tableau (see http://www.datarevelations.com/using-tableau-to-visualize-survey-data-part-1.html).
  3. Using divergent stacked bar charts to display Likert scale data.

Steve has published on his blog site four sets of questions from the survey as Tableau Public interactive dashboards.

 Here is a screenshot of what the dashboard looks like. Click on the screenshot to be re-directed to Steve’s site to see the dashboard in action.Steve Wexler Utah State

Infographic: Failure by Design: Famous Architectural Mistakes

It’s sometimes easy to take for granted the calculated, enormous complexity of the everyday things in the world that make our lives easier and more convenient. For most of us, traffic is a minor (or possibly major, depending on where you are) inconvenience that we have to deal with day in and day out. In terms of human achievement, though, it took an incredible amount of ingenuity and technological breakthroughs just to make modern cars, not to mention the massive highway systems that so many of us use. Speaking of our carefully crafted roads and freeway structures, the huge buildings, monuments, and skyscrapers that we see as commonplace also take a mind-boggling amount of preparation and planning, and for good reason.

Today’s infographic from Popular Science reminds us exactly why there is so much work and care put into the large structures we build, since a few careless miscalculations can spell disaster for the building’s surrounding population. For example, the Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas is one of many buildings in that famous city to have a unique shape or style, which isn’t an issue on its own. Unfortunately, the building’s curvature and reflective glass windows, when combined with the blistering Las Vegas sun, create spots of heat directly on the pool area hot enough to leave people with burns and melt objects. The lesson here: architects must think of any and every possible issue a building may come across in its environment in order to ensure safety.

For more info on architectural missteps throughout history, have a look at the graphic below. [Source]

architecture-fails

Disney D23 Expo Highlights – Part 4

Disney Legends Awards Ceremony

Source: Micechat.com

The D23 Arena also hosted the 2013 Disney Legends Awards on Saturday.

The ceremony kicked off with a presentation honoring Disney Legends that passed away over the last year including Annette Funicello, Robert Sherman, Ginny Tyler and others.

America’s Funniest Home Videos host Tom Bergeron and Disney CEO Bob Iger hosted the awards ceremony which began by honoring Imagineer Tony Baxter. Bob Iger introduced Baxter by mentioning he was the creator of EPCOT Center’s Dreamfinder and Figment characters, noting that Disney “learned the hard way” just how loved the characters are by fans.

Baxter accepted his award by asking “When are we getting Dreamfinder back?” which got big applause from the audience.

Baxter’s acceptance speech centered on a discussion about his keys to success, recapping his early fascination with Disneyland, to his pursuit of a career with the company and how he achieved the things he did over his very rich history with Disney.

Awards also went out to those who have passed away including actor Ed Wynn, Imagineer Colin Campbell, and television icon Dick Clark.

Awards also went out to “Monsters University” stars John Goodman and Billy Crystal.

Retired Disney animator Glen Keane was also honored at the event.

As well as the late Steve Jobs, who was largely responsible for Pixar Animation Studios being alive today. Pixar head John Lasseter, a close friend of Steve Jobs, accepted the award on his behalf with a very emotional speech.

Richard M. Sherman and Alan Menken: The Disney Songbook

The D23 Arena ended Saturday with a spectacular concert with Disney Legends Alan Menken and Richard M. Sherman who are responsible for countless songs in Disney animation and theme parks.

Host Tim O’ Day welcomed Richard Sherman and Alan Menken to the stage

Richard Sherman took to the piano first, sharing stories behind his classic Disney songs and performing a variety of hits from “Winnie the Pooh” to “Mary Poppins” to Disneyland’s “Enchanted Tiki Room” and beyond.

Alan Menken performed songs spanning his incredible career with Disney, from “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” to “Newsies” and “Tangled.”

The concert ended with an amazing duet of “It’s a Small World.”

Undiscovered Disneyland

On Friday, Disney Imagineer (and new Legend) Tony Baxter joined Imagineer Josh Shipley with an amazing presentation of rare color footage of Disneyland from its early years. Unfortunately, I missed this presentation but our friends at Disneyland Live have video that every Disneyland fan should see of Tony Baxter and Josh Shipley showing rare video of Disneyland’s Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland.

The presentation also included an announcement from Disney Parks head Tom Staggs that Disney will honor Tony Baxter with a window on Disneyland’s Main Street. Baxter later spoke with the LA Times’ Hero Complex blog about his career working at Imagineering.

The Art and Artistry of Aulani

Friday afternoon, Imagineers Joe Rohde and Jeanette Lomboy led a discussion on The Art and Artistry of Aulani, Disney’s new resort in Hawaii.

Rohde and Lomboy discussed in-depth the design choices made for the new resort, which all go back to celebrating the people and culture of Hawaii. The Imagineering team went to great lengths to get the Hawaiian people involved with the development of the hotel, ranging from calling on local Hawaiians to create art for the property, to having local musicians create the background music for the resort, to having native Hawaiian spiritual guides help with the planning of the resort.

The end result is a resort that has earned the respect of the Hawaiian people and is the only hotel on the island of Oa’hu that celebrates the living culture of the Hawaiian people.

Broadcasts from Buena Vista Street

On Saturday, voice actors that make up the cast of the radio programs you can overhear on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure joined together and performed one of the programs you can listen to in its entirety live for the audience. It was a remarkably entertaining experience and afterward the cast talked about their careers and experiences working on Disney projects.

Sounds Delightful! An Illustrated Audio Adventure

On Sunday, Disney artist and historian Stacia Martin led a fantastic discussion on early Disney records, which included audio samples from rare recordings including early songs recorded about Mickey Mouse, to records from Mickey Mouse Club star Annette Funicello.

Stacia talked about her life-long love of Disney music and record collecting

Stacia also treated the audience to demo recordings made for Walt Disney of songs from the never-completed “Rainbow Road to Oz” film. Stacia played demos of the songs that were made for the film and walked the audience through the movie’s story, explaining where the songs would have fit in. The songs had never been heard by the general public until this presentation.

Walt Disney Imagineering 60th: Craft of Creativity

Walt Disney Imagineering celebrated its 60th Anniversary with a series of panel discussions on Sunday, including “The Craft of Creativity” with Disney Imagineers

The Imagineers talked about their history with the company (Kathy Mangum started out as a store clerk at the Adventureland Bazaar) and sharing their thoughts on what makes a good Imagineer (Joe Rohde: “To be an Imagineer, “you have to be the kind of person who wants to share.”)

Walt Disney Imagineering 60th: Leading a Legacy

Sunday also included a discussion between Imagineers Marty Sklar (former head of Walt Disney Imagineering) and Bruce Vaughn (current head of Imagineering) on leading Walt Disney Imagineering.

Collectors Forum

Back on the Show Floor, the Collectors Forum hosted various fan sites, fine artists, and collectibles booths that fans could browse, meet Disney celebrities, or find treasures in.

The MiceChat booth was once again host to an amazing lineup of Disney celebrities including frequent visits from Disney Legend Bob Gurr.

Bob Gurr talking to Doug Barnes from the Season Pass Podcast and the MiceChat Podcast

Susan Egan

MiceChat’s Keith Gluck interviewing Bob Gurr at the Walt Disney Family Museum booth

…and Bob Gurr surprising Pat Carroll, the voice of Ursula, at the Gifts by Small Fry booth.

Thoughts on D23 Expo 2013

The 2013 D23 Expo has come and gone and proved to be a big success for Disney, with Friday and Saturday both selling out. The success of this year’s event prompted CEO Bob Iger to announce Saturday that the next Expo will take place in 2015.

Despite its success, not everyone in attendance was wowed by what Disney had to offer at this year’s event, with the main issue being the lack of big announcements and breaking news. It’s true that each Expo continues to grow in size and success for Disney, but how long can that success be sustained if Disney continues to pull back on its major announcements? The first Expo in 2009 set a precedent for the D23 Expo to be a major platform for Disney to showcase its future with unexpected announcements and in-depth previews of what was new and what was next. This year, however, Disney seemingly threw all of that out. Instead, major movie studio presentations mostly just expanded on projects that everybody was aware of, keeping the lid on things that would keep fans and the media talking for weeks. No new theme park announcements, no major movie announcements and hardly a peep on the recently acquired Lucasfilm or upcoming Star Wars sequel.

It would be one thing if Disney had never used the D23 Expo as a platform for major announcements, but the first two Expos were just that – the place for Disney to proudly show off its new toys and get people excited with big announcements on major new productions. Despite Disney announcing before the Expo that no new announcements would be made, the lack of information still stung fans and burned the blogosphere. Entertainment magazines and film blogs aren’t being shy about openly discussing the disappointment of Saturday’s live action presentation; Variety opens an article on the subject with “The disappointment was palpable at D23 Expo as Walt Disney Studios promoted 11 movies that it will release through the end of 2015.” Obviously, the biggest letdown from the studio was the lack of Star Wars announcements but that disappointment bleeds through to just about every other major division of Disney, including Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Are fans asking for too much? If Disney wants to host its own version of Comic Con then it needs to deliver something. You can’t buy up Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar and run the world’s premier vacation destinations without fans expecting you to make new announcements at your huge, biennial conventions. Aside from cosplaying and surprise celebrity appearances, major announcements are what conventions like this are known for. Instead, the 2013 D23 Expo just spent three days sharing information that had mostly been released already and celebrating the company’s history, rather than previewing the future. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating the company’s history, and D23 (a product of the Walt Disney Archives) does quite well at producing events that do just that. Still, those events are much smaller than the Expo and cater to a niche market. There’s certainly a place for Disney history at the Expo, but can the Expo really support company history as its primary draw? It’s a question that Disney is now going to have to weigh when they start planning the next Expo. It isn’t just the vocal Disney fan community voicing disappointment anymore – with Disney now owning Lucasfilm and Marvel, there’s more at stake than ever. Hopefully Disney will plan accordingly for the 2015 D23 Expo and bring their best game like they did in 2009 with major new announcements.

Despite the lack of breaking news or exciting new announcements, the D23 Expo improved greatly in other areas from the last convention in 2011. The most impressive improvements were increased capacity and better handling of crowds. Disney obviously listened to complaints and concerns from 2011 where attendees waited for hours to get into popular panel discussions only to be told there was no space left. Both Stage 23 and Stage 28 were significantly expanded with bigger seating and viewing areas and I had no issues getting into any of the presentations that I attended. Similarly, the D23 Arena included an overflow viewing area with screens for those who were unable to make it into the huge arena.

The new D23 Expo StagePass service was also a success, allowing attendees to secure seats for popular presentations in Stage 23 and Stage 28. I heard some frustrations from Expo attendees about waiting in long lines for StagePass, but I think it would be foolish to expect a first-year service like this to not have some kinks to work out. Hopefully StagePass returns in 2015 with improvements to the system, but its debut year seems to have been successful. I heard numerous attendees talking about how it allowed them to see more than they otherwise would have been able to, which is great.

Also worth noting is the continued growth of the D23 Expo’s show floor offerings. The trend here points toward bigger pavilions with more varied offerings and that’s great to see. The show floor in 2009 had a lot of potential for growth and it’s great to see Disney taking note of this and growing the show floor. There was always something happening – whether it be live performances, celebrity appearances, signings, demonstrations or giveaways. It’ll be interesting to see how the show floor continues to grow in the coming years.

So what the D23 Expo lacked in content this year, it made up for in production value, crowd management and event planning. From what I could tell, this was the easiest Expo to date for attendees thanks to smart scheduling, great planning and efficient crowd control. Congrats to the D23 Expo team for a successful event. Here’s to 2015!

Disney D23 Expo Highlights – Part 3

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Source: Micechat.com

Speaking of priceless originals, upstairs at the Anaheim Convention Center, the Walt Disney Archives put together another display of props, costumes and artifacts from Disney’s rich history.

Unfortunately, the exhibit wasn’t as large or as strong as the display put together for the 2011 D23 Expo. What was great was planned overflow queue and smart handling of crowds lining up for the exhibit. Inexplicably, however, crowds coming to see the impressive displays of Disney history were greeted with a series of designer gowns based on Disney princesses.

The princess gowns were then followed up by costumes from the Disney Channel’s new “Teen Beach Movie”

“Teen Beach Movie” might be getting a good reception from Disney Channel fans, isn’t a bit early to call these costumes “treasures”?

The next room featured a collection of props and costumes from the hit ABC series “Once Upon a Time”

The exhibit picked up steam with its extensive display on Disney’s varied Oz efforts over the years. A great collection of art and artifacts from the canceled “Rainbow Road to Oz” production that Walt Disney worked on was on display.

A model of Rock Candy Mountain, a proposed expansion for Disneyland’s Storybook Land was on display which was very cool to see.

Props and costumes from Disney’s 1985 film, “Return to Oz”…

…as well as props and costumes from this year’s “Oz The Great and Powerful”

The big success of the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit was the huge “Mary Poppins” display. With the film approaching its 50th anniversary and the upcoming release of “Saving Mr. Banks,” the exhibit was a fitting tribute to the legacy of Walt Disney’s classic film.

The recently re-acquired carpet bag from the film was on display.

Lots of vintage memorabilia and collectibles

Iconic costumes from the film

As well as costumes from the upcoming “Saving Mr. Banks” film.

Art and Imagination: Animation at the Walt Disney Studios

On Friday, the D23 Arena hosted its big presentation on Disney Animation, giving the audience a look inside what the teams at Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios and DisneyToon Studios are working on. The audience was introduced to new characters and some of the voice actors made special appearances including Judy Greer, Bill Hader and Lucas Neff from “The Good Dinosaur” (2014) as well as Bill Hader (again) and Phyllis Smith from Pixar’s 2015 release, “Inside Out.” Pixar also teased the upcoming “Finding Dory” movie.

Walt Disney Animation Studios gave an in-depth look at “Frozen,” which will hit theaters this winter. Actor Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf the snowman, made an appearance and talked about his character and working with Disney.

Broadway star Idina Menzel made a surprise appearance with her performance of “Let It Go,” a song from “Frozen.”

Disney also treated guests to a screening of the new animated Mickey Mouse cartoon, “Get A Horse!” The new short will debut for the general public in front of “Frozen” this winter. The new short is unique in many ways, but perhaps most notably because it features Walt Disney’s voice as Mickey Mouse using audio pulled and stitched together from Walt Disney’s previous performances of Mickey. The effect is seamless and it’s really special to hear Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse again in a new cartoon.

Also teased were Disney’s upcoming film “Zootopia” (2016) which takes us into a world of anthropomorphic animals without humans as well as the Marvel-inspired animated film “Big Hero 6″

Let the Adventures Begin: Live Action at the Walt Disney Studios

One of the biggest events at the Expo was the big Disney live action presentation in the D23 Arena. Fans had high expectations for the show, many with the hopes that Disney would make a big announcement for the upcoming Star Wars sequel. Despite fan hopes, Disney stayed true to their promise that no Star Wars news would come out of the Expo but fans were treated to presentations from Disney’s live action studio as well as Marvel Entertainment which featured sneak peeks, celebrity appearances and more.

Marvel brought out stars from Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy

Disney also showcased its own slate of upcoming films including “Muppets Most Wanted” starring Ty Burrell, Ricky Gervais, and Tina Fey

“Maleficent” (2014) starring Angelina Jolie

As well as the upcoming “Saving Mr. Banks”

…and the upcoming “Tomorrowland” movie.

Tomorrow: Part 4

Disney D23 Expo Highlights – Part 2

Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Pavillon Journey Into Imagineering

Source: micechat.com

The big draw on the show floor was, of course, the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Pavilion. By entering through a facade evoking the Imagineering headquarters in Glendale, California; guests of the pavilion, put together by Walt Disney Imagineering, took a “Journey Into Imagineering.”

Guests entered the doors to 1401 Flower Street into the preshow room for the pavilion.

A large wall display of the Imagineering “lobby” transformed into a giant video screen for the pre show…

Upon entering into the main showroom, guests were greeted with a large throwback to the oil lamp that was part of the post-show at Disneyland’s classic Adventure Thru Innerspace.

As the sign above the door stated, “Journey Into Imagineering” was largely an “open house” for Walt Disney Imagineering and the main point of the pavilion this year was the ability for guests to be able to talk with Imagineers and learn more about what each of them do. The first room allowed guests to meet with Imagineers working on new projects at Walt Disney World, from the Disney Springs project (a major overhaul of Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney) to the Avatar project that is still being planned for Disney’s Animal Kingdom as well as a hint at new Star Wars attractions for Walt Disney World.

The big Disney Springs scale model let visitors get an idea of what the Downtown Disney transformation will end up looking like.

An Imagineering office cubicle was on display, filled with props, sketches and items related to the upcoming Avatar project in the works for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

With Disney not quite ready to announce details for the upcoming Avatar Land expansion, Imagineers working this booth managed keep straight faces when talking about taking a research trip to the fictional planet of Pandora to learn as much as they could about the Na’vi and the planet so they could properly recreate Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

A Na’vi-sized backpack.

Plenty to look at here but not really much to see.

Nearby, a stack of crates with various Star Wars references hinted at an upcoming Star Wars-themed project for Walt Disney World. Much like at the Avatar display, Imagineers here were tight-lipped and stuck to their script which said these crates were delivered to Imagineering but wouldn’t be able to find out what’s inside until they them get back to Glendale.

Also represented in the pavilion was the new MyMagic+ program coming to Walt Disney World. The RFID-based technology is expected to transform the guest experience at Walt Disney World and Disney says it will make vacations easier for guests. The display showcased a lot of MyMagic+ wristbands and hardware in a very clean, contemporary space.

Aside from these three previews at what’s new and what’s next, the rest of the pavilion largely focused on the history and legacy of Walt Disney Imagineering. Historical displays of attraction art and models and displays showing various departments of Imagineering allowed guests to learn more about the folks creating Disney’s theme parks and delve into the history of Disney theme parks. Below, a portion of the scale model for Walt Disney World’s never-built Western River Expedition:

This would have been an incredible ride.

A concept model for EPCOT’s Space Pavilion.

A gorgeous model of the never-built International Street for Disneyland was on display. Shame this didn’t get built – it looks like it would have been wonderful.

My personal highlight of the Parks and Resorts pavilion was the Imagineering Art Library walk-through experience. The walk-through showcased several pieces of iconic Disneyland artwork, including the original pencil drawing of Disneyland by Herb Ryman that Walt Disney took to the bankers to get funding for Disneyland. Also on display was the original black light painting of Disneyland by Peter Ellenshaw that Walt Disney showed off on television when announcing Disneyland to the public. I got chills when the black lights were turned on and Peter Ellenshaw’s nighttime vision of the park came alive. It was a truly incredible experience to see this art in person and a big thanks goes out to the folks in the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library for putting this together. Unfortunately (but understandably), no video or photography was allowed.

The stunning original model for the Tony Baxter-designed Land Pavilion for EPCOT Center was on display as well. It was an absolute treat to see in person.

The original concept for the Land’s main attraction was a hot air balloon-themed ride through incredible show scenes, which you could see represented in the model.

Also on display was an early model for EPCOT Center’s Spaceship Earth. Really amazing stuff.

Much of the pavilion was divided into pseudo-workspaces for Imagineers where you could see what various Imagineering departments do and how they work.

Show Production featured a lot of paint, with Imagineers painting elevation renderings in person as well as live-painting a portion of a character wall over the course of the Expo.

The Illusioneering Lab paid tribute to master Disney special effects artist Yale Gracey.

Architecture and Engineering focused on Imagineering’s recent hit attraction, Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland

Research and Development let guests preview new interactive Animatronics including Fortuno and the returning Destini

El Fortuno, the latest interactive Audio-Animatronic from Imagineering.

Destini, interactive Audio-Animatronic.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises and most popular features of the pavilion was the Hat Box Ghost on display in the Show Animation department.

Imagineers wouldn’t say if the Hat Box Ghost would return to the Haunted Mansion anytime soon, but were quick to note that the figure was built specifically for the D23 Expo using a model of Audio Animatronic that Disneyland fans might normally know as the Auctioneer in Pirates of the Caribbean or President Lincoln in “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.”

The Imagineering pavilion also gave guests the opportunity to meet Marvel’s Captain America, who will be appearing in a new meet-and-greet and interactive kids show called “Avengers Academy” aboard the Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic ship.

The Dimensional Design booth let guests see some original macquettes and sculpture work from Imagineering.

Imagineers sculpted live while talking to guests.

The original marble Snow White Grotto statues that were sculpted in Italy under the supervision of Leonida Parma and given to Walt Disney in 1958 were on display. The originals were removed from Disneyland in 1982 and replaced with replicas.

Tomorrow – Part 3

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