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A Closer Look: Big Time Animation in Theme Parks

In the last few years, animation has played a thrilling role in bringingmany theme park attraction 'visions' to life. Take for example the popularTerminator 2 3D ride at Universal Studios, or the new Spiderman attractioncompleted by Kleiser-Walczak Construction Company. One player in the gameof theme park animation is Iwerks Entertainment, a huge ridefilm companywhose clients include Universal Studios, Disney, and the IMAX Corporation.Exactly 2 years ago they announced they would team up with visual effectsanimation studio Will Vinton Studios. The pair would prove to be asuccessful duo working on IMAX theaters, and Iwerks went on in thefollowing two years to recover from some huge financial losses.

Once again we see that Iwerks is expanding. Last week the company announcedthat they are opening a new office in London, England to provide CheshireOaks Warner Village Cinemas in the north of England with an Iwerks ExtremeScreen, and to complete more projects and installations in various placesthroughout the UK and Europe. Strangely enough, Disney is following suitewith yet more Disneyland expansions. With the proven popularity ofDisneyland Paris the Walt Disney Company have teamed up with the Hong KongGovernment to build a new Hong Kong Disneyland. This development iscurrently in a conceptual phase, and if everything goes as planned, thepark should open in 2005. Two theme park giants announcing expansionoverseas in the same week...coincidence? We think not. It seems theme parksreally do export well.

Joe Szadkowski wrote about the Spider-Man ride in "Watch Out Disney! Spider-Man is Coming to Orlando," in the May 1999 issue of Animation World Magazine.

Animation World Magazine's December 1998 issue features two articles onDisney amusement parks. One discusses Walt's dreams to create his first"park," while the other describes Disney's newest park, Animal Kingdom.

In "Disneyland: From Dream to Reality," Katie Mason relates Disneyland's history from Walt's dream to an attraction which has drawn over 400 million visitors since its opening day, July 17, 1955.

In "The Mouse's Wild Side: Disney's New Animal Kingdom," JosephSzadkowski reports on this new destination which combines adventure,education and fun.

In our November 1996 issue, Bob Swain interviewed director Jim Cameron'sreworking of Terminator 2 for Universal Studios theme park in Orlando,Terminator 2 3D.

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