Tuesday, 1st April 2014

Video: Show Director Christophe Leclercq introduces ‘Swing into Spring’ (at last)

Swing into Spring Disneyland Paris season festival concept art

You’ve less than four days to get to Disneyland Paris for the opening of ‘Swing into Spring’, the almost mythical Spring Festival which now at last has been given its official English title, dates and some welcome publicity by the resort.

Released today is a new video featuring Show Director Christophe Leclercq, introducing the season of springtime decorations and entertainment. If not revealing any new details of the much-speculated festival, Christophe confirms again some important details, such as the main event featuring no less than 90 dancers, 22 musicians and a quite startling 33 characters, taking place “in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle”.

The video includes an additional piece of concept art for the Central Plaza “topiary” displays (above) which feature characters from Bambi, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Aristocats and The Lion King interacting with musical notes and instruments.

This is also the first time (besides a lone Belgian press release) that Disneyland Paris has confirmed the season will run from 5th April to 22nd June 2014.

In French, the season will be known as La Balade Printanière, or “Springtime Stroll”.

An earlier version of the video mistakenly subtitled Town Square as Times Square.

VIA Disneyland Paris (YouTube)

Tuesday, 13th January 2009

Did Walt Disney Studios win the New Year fireworks?

It was a night of firsts, that’s for sure. For the first time ever, Walt Disney Studios Park stayed open for regular guests beyond 9pm. For the first time ever, it let guests see in the New Year within its gates. And, for the first time ever, it hosted fireworks for those same, regular guests.

But, in the process, did it surprise us all and come out on top, with the most dazzling, sky-filling show of the two? Let’s compare…

New Year’s Eve 2008/09 – Walt Disney Studios Park

Video by Kayshaman.

New Year’s Eve 2008/09 – Disneyland Park (Part 1)
New Year’s Eve 2008/09 – Disneyland Park (Part 2)

Videos by Daviddu59.

For a start, there’s one obvious downside to the Studios’ celebrations — the lack of an icon or “weenie” at the foot of the fireworks. When the New Year’s Eve celebrations were confirmed, many expected The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror to be the focal point, or Hollywood Boulevard.

However, as the clock edged toward midnight, guests were instead asked to make their way to Backlot and Place des Stars, along the “Rue Georges Méliès” of the park, with the fireworks themselves launched from the convenient base of Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular.

This downside could also have been the park’s advantage, though — not only does the lack of a large icon make the fireworks seem bigger and more impressive in the sky, but the location may have allowed the resort a little more freedom with the bigger shells and rockets, should restrictions still be imposed on New Year’s Eve.

What’s your verdict?

Thursday, 25th February 2010

WALL-E buys a ticket for the All Stars Express!

Show director Christophe Leclercq stands in front of previously unseen concept art for the 2010 redressing of Minnie’s Party Train (née Disney Characters’ Express) in the video on the official event page, revealing a redecorated Casey Jr. train. Before we dive into the screenshots, watch it back:

Previously, we’d been led to believe that the train would remain largely unchanged from its 2009/10 form, as the only piece of imagery published so far showed it retaining Minnie’s polka dots.

However, the concept art revealed here shows the wagon supports and roofs redressed with bright, toy-like multicolours — red, yellow, green and blue — and given New Generation Festival logos, with the engine itself a bright white, its ribbon bearing “All Stars Express” lettering.

Take a look at these large-format stills (click for even larger versions):

Disney All Stars Express

Above, the multicolours and some new flags atop the carriages, carrying the logos of Monsters, Inc., The Incredibles and other ‘New Generation’ films.

The most interesting moment of the video, though, is when Christophe mentions the characters who we’ll find on board the train. Speaking in French, he quite clearly first mentions — yes, WALL-E! The robot from Pixar’s 2008 film of the same name.

So, take another look at the Disney All Stars Express concept art…

Disney All Stars Express

There he is, sitting atop the coal in the engine’s tender!

The following design image even flashes up on screen for a brief moment, with the words “pose reference only” suggesting that Disneyland Paris have been forwarded three-dimensional character models by Pixar in order to build the full-size figure:

Disney All Stars Express

But it gets complicated, at least for us English-speakers. On the UK website, the subtitles provided for Christophe’s French script strangely replace the very clear “WALL-E” with “Sulley”, take a look:

Disney All Stars Express

We’ve mentioned in the past that the gang of ‘New Generation characters’ to be featured heavily this year has been set for some time, and certainly doesn’t include WALL-E anywhere. Could this be a late cover-up of a cancelled plan?

Hopefully not — the familiar character train needs something beyond a few new colours to keep it fresh for yet another guise. This Pixar robot atop the tender would be just the ticket. Ha ha! Just the ticket! ……

Images © Disney.

Monday, 9th November 2009

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

For the first time since 2002, the Christmas Tree is given its very own illumination ceremony. As reported previously it’s a similar format to the classic shows, as Mickey Mouse lights up the giant tree with the help of a young child from the audience.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

Forming the stage, a parade float you’ll certainly recognise — it’s the same one which served the event back in the early years of this decade, and has since returned every Halloween and Christmas in a variety of temporary seasonal guises.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

It’s not an entirely nostalgic show, though. The music isn’t the wonderful old soundtrack but the newer illumination music previously (and in fact, still) used for the shows on Central Plaza. And as its director Christophe Leclercq explains, the story behind the show is also different.

When the parade float pulls into Town Square and stops in front of the tree, the much larger group of characters dance to a medley of songs before the show’s live host, in French and English, explains that the tree can only be illuminated by opening the magic book in front of them — which itself can only be opened by the hands of a child.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

With the chosen child on the podium, the book opens in a sparkling glitter-ball effect, throwing beads of light all around Town Square as the tree gradually lights up.

With the final blast of the music, the Princess Chandeliers lining Main Street illuminate all at once, leading guests towards the yet-to-be-lit Castle at the end.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

That event has now been slotted into the final performance of It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends, which, taking place in full darkness, has been tweaked with new, warmer costumes for the dancers and a series of new projections and lighting effects on and around the Castle.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

Notice the musical notes for Baloo, and the yellow animal patterns for Timon.

After Peter Pan’s final game and before the last “Mickey Dance”, the Castle is quickly illuminated to the same “Lumina” music of recent years — practically the same music just heard earlier during the Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

Then, before you’ve chance to gasp in wonder or soak up the atmosphere, — boom! — it’s back to the party. And “La Mickey Danse” continues on…

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

But never mind, Sleeping Beauty Castle lit for Christmas is still a sight to behold — once that damn dance remix of “Mickey’s Magical Party Time” has faded out, at least.

The Princesses are nowhere to be seen, remembering that even the past two years they were featured heavily in the Enchanted Candleabration illuminations show. Perhaps this provoked the pushing of Snow White’s new “happening” as a Christmas season event, because if they’re still going for a “Fairytale Christmas” (and judging by all the press releases, they are), keeping the disco Party Time finale so intact makes it all feel slightly off the mark.

UPDATE 10/11/2009 — Disneyland Paris released a few extra photos yesterday after this article was published. Taken during Saturday’s press events (note the empty park and hundreds of press badges), they feature the view up toward the Castle as snow blows across the rooftops of Main Street:

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

The same view in the opposite direction, towards the Christmas Tree:

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

And a wonderful view over the whole of Town Square, showing the set-up of the returning Tree Lighting Ceremony, with the float/stage parked in front of the tree for the ceremony.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

• Read the full interview with Christophe Leclercq, director of the season, here!

Pictures © Disney.

Sunday, 8th November 2009

Santa’s (almost) new sleigh pulls into Disneyland

Yes, the old Santa Claus Sleigh float, which saw the resort through two financial restructurings and seventeen Christmas seasons is no more, relegated to Christmas Past. But wipe away that tear: the Dreams of Christmas unit at the end of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade now has a brand new sleigh, with some more reliable reindeer out front…

Santa's (almost) new sleigh pulls into Disneyland

As the resort’s own family of reindeer sadly saw their numbers dwindle and retirement ages creep on them, the old float simply wasn’t really suitable any more — it being set up and designed to look as if being pulled by the real reindeer in front. It saw its last season in 2008/09, as a lone sleigh magically travelling along with no reindeer.

Santa's (almost) new sleigh pulls into Disneyland

Cue a bit of that traditional Disneyland Paris make-do and mend resourcefulness, and problem solved — take the old Cinderella coach float (from The Wonderful World of Disney Parade and before that, Disney Classics Parade — circa 1992!) and transform it into a brand new sleigh, floating above clouds, with the horsed redecorated as reindeer and Cinderella’s coach removed and transformed beyond recognition into this very sweet — and surprisingly original — galleon-style sleigh.

Santa's (almost) new sleigh pulls into Disneyland Santa's (almost) new sleigh pulls into Disneyland

It’s traditional for DLP Entertainment to get Christmas mostly “right” compared to other seasons and events, but this new sleigh is a very pleasant surprise, very nicely finished. Note the pine cone detail of Santa Claus’ seat, for example.

Santa's (almost) new sleigh pulls into Disneyland

Surrounding the float are a band of elves, who also appear to have undergone some changes with better costumes incorporating more metallic materials and lots of different, individual props. The only thing apparently missing, at least from today’s previews, are the Toy Soldiers who usually finish up the parade. Perhaps they were still polishing their uniforms?

Reindeer on white sticks might look like an invention of Thierry Marx — it certainly seems outdated next to the clever float designs elsewhere in the more modern 2007 floats, which precede the unit — but this smart transformation is a great start to the season, don’t you think?

• See how the float used to look here, here and here!

• Read our brand new interview with Christophe Leclercq, director of the season, here!

Pictures © Disney.

Monday, 26th October 2009

A 24 ton Christmas Tree & more festive fun facts

Disneyland Paris has published a great new collection of famous Disney “fun facts”, all about the upcoming 2009/10 Christmas season.

Amongst the fascinating figures of the festive period, it also reveals a little about the refreshed “Dreams of Christmas” unit to again follow at the end of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade from November 8th…

The Christmas Tree

• Towering 24 meters high (from the grass to the star on the top) and weighs more than 24 tons.

• Near to 500 light bulbs illuminate the tree tinsel.

• 590 Christmas baubles (390 round ones and 200 byzantine shaped ones) decorate the tree.

• 240 various decorations (figures, candy canes, toy soldiers, drums, red bows…) hang on the branches.

• The assembling of the tree takes place over one night

• 23 persons (of all different types of professions) are required to help install and completely set up the tree.

The Christmas Illuminations

• From Town Square, all the way up Main Street and right up to Sleeping Beauty, more than 1 million lights twinkle at night fall.

• Around 7 km of fairy lights are used to decorate the Main Street, U.S.A. lampposts.

• Between 300 000 and 400 000 leds are needed to transform Sleeping Beauty’s Castle into a Cristal Castle.

• The final lighting concept has been completed this year with the light overlay of the castle giving a maximal sparkling effect.

• 3 full nights of work are necessary to lay the led lighting curtains (entertainment technical term) on the castle towers, roofs and turrets

• 15 nights are planned to install all the other Christmas light overlays in the trees and firs of Critter Corral for the transformation process of the area into the Santa Claus Village

• 6 nights are necessary for the dismantling of the Halloween season decorations and overlay to transform Main Street U.S.A. for our Christmas Season

“Dreams of Christmas” Santa Claus Float

• The new Santa Claus float weighs around 6 tons.

• The new float was built in the Paris region and represents Santa’s Sleigh, filled with presents and pulled by the reindeer, floating above clouds…

• This Parade unit is composed of 12 Toy soldiers, 18 Elves, 1 nutcracker

The Santa Claus float Elves

• 70 sets of costumes and 45 hats have been made for the elves accompanying the Santa Claus Float.

• The costumes were made in three different sizes to cater for the different body shapes of the performing artists.

• Nearly 400 meters of different material was necessary to make these costumes

• Various accessories were sew on the costumes: 90 bobbles, 500 sleigh bells, 700 golden buttons

• A total of 180 pairs of shoes were necessary to shoe all the performers

• 6 different types of Elves are performing in the Parade

Look out for an exclusive series of interviews with the artists and directors behind Disney’s Fairytale Christmas over on DLRP Magic!.com very soon, beginning with season director Christophe Leclercq as he reveals all about the new Tree Lighting Ceremony and more!

Friday, 6th March 2009

It’s Party Time: Cast of 40, live host (preview video)

Continuing on from the reveal of Mickey’s signature costume for the show and a preview of Discoveryland’s addition to the celebrations, the time came for the MC to introduce the main event of Mickey’s Magical Party.

But, surprisingly, it wasn’t Mickey who began the show, but Sébastien — a live speaking host. In fact, Mickey Mouse didn’t appear until around 10 minutes into this 15-minute performance, which the MC described as “an exact take out of the show”…

The video begins with a quick interview with the show’s director, Christophe Leclercq, during which the host announces a quite startling fact about It’s Party Time…with Mickey and Friends: a cast of 40 people on-stage! And absolutely correct that is — as Poppy the Monkey on magicforum confirms, there will be about 30 dancers alone, many brought to the resort from Disneyland in California, with the remaining cast members being the Disney characters on each of the five areas of the new stage.

Compared to the meagre casts of Candleabration, which dwindled from a large cast of flag bearers and dancers to just the seven VIP characters and eventually just Mickey and Minnie, this represents a show on an unprecedented scale for the resort in recent years — performing five times a day, too.

Also confirmed by Poppy the Monkey is more of the show’s running order. There will indeed be a live speaking host, and the dancers (in orange and white) will open the show, joined by the Disney Characters who will appear together via the new under-stage lift. Mickey Mouse, wearing that “luminous” new costume, will appear even later in the show, via the same lift.

As for the show itself, the preview above shows most of the final characters who will appear: Mickey, Pluto, Baloo, Timon, Tigger, Donald and Peter Pan. Wendy and Goofy will complete the final line-up. The actual premise seems a little hard to pin down, and the heavy emphasis on guest interaction and learning dance moves seems to overlap somewhat with It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland.

One of the most promising aspects of the preview above is the addition of various international, European dance styles — such as Spanish salsa and Irish dance — whilst the modern, jazz-orientated instrumental soundtrack appears to be brand new just for this show.

Video by Photos Magiques.

Wednesday, 28th January 2009

Candleabration’s final balcony swan song

Careful how you read that — it really will be a sad day when the 15th officially comes to a close and Candleabration is no more, but wow — this show has been through quite a few changes, hasn’t it?

Now, you could argue that’s not surprising when a show runs for almost two entire years in the most prominent spot in the park, but with the candle illumination ceremony now notching up its seventh tweaked instalment (can you list them all?), that’s unheard-of for the park.

This time, however, there’s a very good reason indeed. Simply put, the stage is gone:

Central Plaza Stage works

Yes, to prepare for the new Mickey’s Magical Party show, ‘It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends’, the entire hub of Central Plaza has been barricaded by green construction fences and, behind those, the old stage already completely removed. You can read more here.

So what about Candleabration? This should be its’ big finale, its’ sparkling Disneyland swan song! Don’t worry, the show directors have certainly pulled quite a special trick out the bag for these next few months… the balcony of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant!

Final Candleabration Final Candleabration
Final Candleabration Final Candleabration
Final Candleabration Final Candleabration
Images from gochaton‘s YouTube video, below.

In a true “first”, both Mickey and Minnie now present the show direct from the front balcony of the Castle every night. In addition, the show has been tinkered with — quite literally — to add an extra “wow” to its finale: As the candles finish lighting, Mickey calls out to Tinker Bell, who then transforms the Château into its frosty Ice Palace overlay, something only ever seen during the park’s Christmas Season before now.

Then, as the 15th Anniversary theme “Just Like We Dreamed It” plays out, a whole mob of various Disney Characters burst out from the Castle’s gate and run down to meet and dance with the gathered crowds.

The entertainment directors’ plans to try to get Mickey and Minnie onto the balcony was first revealed here on DLRP Today in our exclusive interview with Christophe Leclercq about The Enchanted Fireworks last Summer. Though the couple couldn’t make it for Summer, obviously the people “behind the magic” have tried and tried again to make it happen: You might notice a small safety rail now appears along the balcony, each night.

Something which may surprise is the sense of scale the two characters give to the park’s icon when they’re stood right on it. With the golden 15th statues appearing like miniature toys atop its spires, seeing these real, human-sized characters up there makes clear just how big and grand Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant truly is.

Enjoy the full show, in video (begins around 1 minute 50 seconds in):

Two years and over 650 performances on, seeing Mickey and Minnie atop the Castle itself makes for a must-see farewell to this 15th Anniversary classic indeed.

— Video with thanks to gochaton on YouTube.

Wednesday, 3rd December 2008

Place des… Marchés de Noël

Though traditionally put aside whilst its neighbour celebrates seasonal events in lavish and brilliant style, the newfound importance of Walt Disney Studios Park since the opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was arguably ignored in the planning of this year’s Christmas season. And so, the increasing visitor numbers at the second gate found nothing more than a small ‘Merry Christmas Walt Disney Studios’ morning welcome and ‘Toons en Scène pour les Fêtes’ meet ‘n’ greet events to make the season special in the Studios.

Image Image

These entertainments are down even on last year, when the popular Ciné Folies cast delighted with their regular Christmas movie-making farces inside Disney Studio 1. Since the re-invented version of this show on the outdoor Place des Stars Stage‘Shooting Live’ — was duly cancelled at the end of September, there is no sign of a return. Last year’s late December return of the musical ‘Goofy presents Swing Along Santas’ on the same stage also does not appear to be scheduled for 2008.

So… what to fill that gap with? Rumours surfaced recently that a small Christmas market could appear on the space between CinéMagique and Stitch Live!, and they were almost right — the market has, in fact, appeared within the park, on Place des Stars itself. Quite literally filling a wide gap in the park, alongside the currently disused parade route.

Image Image

The pine wood huts are decorated with white roofs and green garlands, with a neat patch of snow-dusted fir trees between the two rows. They join the new Studios Christmas tree which appeared late in last year’s season, adorned with movie-making props and accessories for decorations.

Though they appear to be stalls used in the Disney Village market of years gone by, they sell primarily Disney merchandise, such as Christmas gifts and Princess toys, alongside hot drinks and snacks. There is no link made to the cinema/studio setting.

It was revealed in our recent exclusive Media Magic interview with entertainment director Christophe Leclercq that Walt Disney Studios Park will host its own New Year’s Eve celebrations for the first time, using “identical” fireworks and music to the show at Disneyland Park.

[Images © J°o°eL and Disneytheque.com]

Monday, 21st July 2008

Bastille Day ’08 fireworks in pictures and video

Skies were blue, flowers in bloom, attractions running well and crowds relatively light… it was a perfect day to celebrate the host country of our European Disney resort.

Bastille Day 2008 once again saw Disneyland Resort Paris pull out its regular music for a spectacular “feux d’artifice” over Le Château de Belle au Bois Dormant, but, as the show director Christophe Leclercq had promised, things were a little different this year. The resort’s new fireworks partner brought in new designs, new styles and new bursts to light up the sky.


Image Image

There were certainly hints of the regular Enchanted Fireworks in there, but also rare sights at Disneyland Resort Paris such as “shape” fireworks — giant red hearts bursting into the sky.

Image Image

Image Image

Before the fireworks began, fans would smile at the fact that even Disney sometimes make a little mistake. As the crowds milled around after Fantillusion, an announcement proclaimed “You will soon have the pleasure of discovering Candleabration followed by The Enchanted Fireworks”. Several minutes later, the announcement was swiftly repeated with the correct “followed by a special 14th July fireworks” line.


Image Image

Candleabration itself would also present a little surprise. Whilst the show was still effectively cut-down considerably in line with its other performances this Summer, serving only as a lead-in to the fireworks, this night saw a second new version with an added finale of ‘Just Like We Dreamed It’ (itself abridged) as just Mickey and Minnie danced on-stage.

Candleabration (Bastille Day 2008 Edition)

Luckily, the earlier announcement mix-up did not extend to the fireworks themselves, which went ahead swiftly and without a single fault. Compared to the incredibly muddled recent attempts for New Year’s Eve (using unknown and out-of-place rock songs from the Narnia “inspired by” soundtrack, for example), Bastille Day once again proved to be the resort’s best night for a truly spectacular fireworks display…

Bastille Day Fireworks 2008

You can find more photos of the show at Photos Magiques here.

[Pictures: Photos Magiques; Video: DLRP Today.com/DLRP Magic! Video]

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