Thursday, 28th December 2006

Merlin l’Enchanteur breaks the spell

Beginning on 23rd December, as the park switched to its high-season operating schedule, the new show remains entirely faithful to the 1992-2001 original, presented in the Castle Courtyard around the mythical Sword in the Stone itself.

Merlin the wizard arrives in the courtyard and tells the tale of the sword, before one-by-one children from the gathered audience step up to try their power pulling the sword from its stone. After several failed attempts, Merlin will finally inevitably find the right child, who will pull the sword (at least part of the way) from its resting place and take the crown. The child then gets to wear the royal robe and their coronation is duly celebrated. As the show comes to an end, the lucky child will receive a certificate proclaiming their victorious triumph.

Fans and guests appear more than pleased that the streetmosphere show has finally made a return to the park, with the performance of Merlin himself noted as particularly good by members of Disney Central Plaza forum. Returning such a sorely missed show to the park is certainly the crowning acheivement of a year of refurbishments, additions and renewed magic across the resort.

The show is currently being performed every day (except 24th-27th Dec) at 11h00, 12h00, 13h00, 15h30 and 16h30. According to reports it is only scheduled to run until the end of 2006, though its return surely gives hope for a fullscale Merlin revival during the 15th Anniversary next year.

All photos by Characters_dlrp. You can see more here.

Thursday, 28th December 2006

Animation placemaking still drawn-out

Rumours have been circulating for a few weeks now about the huge delays with the placemaking project, with what was supposedly a one or two month job now due to be drawn out (excuse the pun) well into 2007. Some cite the new flooring as the problem, being insufficent to withstand time and weather when laid down to cover the current asphalt.

Whatever the reasons, the fences next to Art of Disney have been removed as a temporary measure over the park’s busy Christmas season, and should be returned to their places early next year to (hopefully) allow work to continue. For now, we can get a sneak preview at the initial impact of the project, separating the land from the rest of the park and joining it together with a clear, noticable theme.

Strangely, although the Art of Disney Animation section features no barrier to stop guests walking over the dirt, fences have been added around the palm tree islands of the Flying Carpets Oasis. Though their design is hard to make out from the speedy aerial view of the Flying Carpets themselves, they do not initially appear to have an Arabian theme like the lamps installed above.

Today, ‘rocknroller’ on the French Disney Central Plaza forum reports the Oasis area has been opened to the public, comprising three “islands” of palm trees and extra planting. Photos will be available soon.

All photos by Grandmath, Disney Central Plaza forum.

Wednesday, 20th December 2006

Deck the Tower!

First, scaffolding and the metal supports around the left-hand outcrop of the Tower were removed, revealing its colours and an interesting metal panel. Like the right-hand outcrop, this is yet to be finished underneath, with a final finish and false art deco supports still to come.

Art deco panelling has also spread further across the front of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, some of it with paint and some of it adding fine art deco details such as the small decorations on the panels of the tallest dome tower. With the main shell of the Tower complete, the final of the two towering cranes has now been removed.

The most interesting development recently has been the start of weathering and ageing on the back of Tower. Whilst it was believed this would begin with the final coat of paint or plaster, the first details of dirt and grime have appeared with the Tower still in its pale yellow state, a long way from California’s (Disney Studio 1-style) deep yellow. Whether this could be the final colour, or it is simply the first step in a long colouring process is still unknown.

More major progress slid into view earlier this week when, for the first time, elevator doors were spotted on the openings of the Tower. Disguised by themeing in the final design, these modern elevator doors slide open to reveal the vista into the 5th Dimension to riders of the attraction, before they plummet a second time into the Twilight Zone.

Some openings have thick wooden supports blocking the hole, whilst others are open to the elements and showing off the new doors. With almost exactly one year to go until the grand opening, this marks the very first visible “operational” part of the Tower’s many ride effects and systems, though the doors won’t begin full automatic operation for some time yet. In a similar way to fans watching the launch of repainted rocket trains before Space Mountain: Mission 2 blasted off, fans in California followed every second of the elevator doors’ movement as the attraction entered testing. So prepare to watch this space in 2007…

Photos 1-2 & 6 by Kyoto at DMI, photos 3-5 by thebatman_1 at MagicForum

Monday, 18th December 2006

It’s beginning to look a lot like the EAC

From the aerial vantage point of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, the full ensemble of palm trees can be seen in a single glance. Spreading from the Flying Carpets entrance across the three new ‘oasis’ islands and now right around the queue line of Crush’s Coaster, it looks like the fan plea for more palms has finally been answered. The trees divide up the paths into smaller, cosier, more Disney-style routes, and finally add a sense of adventure and discovery to the Studios’ otherwise simplistic layout.

The outside queue line’s unpromising metallic canopy has been swarmed by more palm trees, filling gaps which lead through to the outside world or the Genie’s Flying Carpets set. It appears paths are now in the process of being laid, whilst a reinforced, vertical concrete block (which has been in place for several weeks) hints at more still to come. Curiously, work on painting the sides of the lower ‘dark ride’ building has not yet begun.

According to the only concept sketch available, the metallic roof will remain unthemed, with the only detail being lights similar to those outside Armageddon: Special Effects. Instead, in true movie-set style, the theme will only be found around the ‘stars’ (guests) themselves, with supports, signage and build-ups of sand suggesting a dried-up fishing pier.

Aside from the palm trees and setting-out of pathways in the area, a major change making the attraction begin to look a lot like complete is the removal of scaffolding on the rockwork. Now not only does the blue look a whole lot brighter, but the layering and detail of the rockwork becomes more clear. Photo 4 above shows that the highest points of the rocks are actually separate from the building, with the gap likely making the addition of the building’s giant poster mural much easier to accomplish.

The design softens the traditional hard-edged soundstage design seen elsewhere in the Studios, as well as very cleverly sheilding almost all of the ride’s track from view.

The rockwork features three holes – the first, on the right, is the attraction’s exit. Next, where the turtle shell vehicles will dive out of the showbuilding, and finally the third where they will re-enter after the small outside drop, heading into the dark-ride scenes of the ride.

It’s becoming clearer by the day that Crush’s Coaster – and infact the whole of Toon Studio – is a wildly imaginative piece of Imagineering, vastly different to anything else in the park, at Disney’s other studio park in Florida or even at any Disney park worldwide. Not only will Crush’s Coaster introduce European theme park favourite Maurer Söhne to Disney theme parks, but it marks a massive shift in style for Disney attraction design. With this project, imagination really has run riot.

Photos 1-4 by Disneytheque.com, photo 5 by Dlrp.fr

Monday, 18th December 2006

Rocking around the Race Rally

Centre of events has been the giant, teetering canyon rock. Direct from the McQueen and Doc Hudson race scenes in the Disney-Pixar Cars film, the rock has been converted from CGI to reality, becoming a new icon for the future Toon Studio.

Beginning as little more than an unpromising steel and concrete frame on 29th November 2006, by 10th December 2006 the theme element had gained a thin wire mesh frame and a more detailed plaster shell.

The first colour arrived on 13th December, and just four days later on 17th December the main portion of the rock’s themeing was complete. Since the rock is part of a massive, wind-eroded canyon in the film, shrinking the icon down to Toon Studio size obviously took some planning. According to Dlrp.fr, the sculpting was completed by Atelier Artistique du Béton, whose past credits at Disneyland Resort Paris include Catastrophe Canyon and Le Pays de Contes de Fées. This new creation effectively mixes the two together, giving an authentic canyon look with miniturised detail.

Like some elements of Le Pays de Contes de Fées, the rock has been given an ultra-detailed sculpt to suggest it is much larger than it actually is. The small fallen “boulders” near the bottom and the incredible eroded detail of the tallest outcrop will create an optical illusion from the ride area suggesting the rock is larger and more distant from guests than they realise.

From the main entry courtyard of Toon Studio, the current Animation Courtyard, the rock will clearly also provide the classic Imagineering “weenie” effect, pulling guests towards the area and adding interest and colour to this part of the land. Interestingly, the multicoloured backdrop of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah matches the new themeing perfectly, with its purple edge next to the blue rockwork of Crush’s Coaster, it’s orange centre opposite the ochreous rocks of Cars and the final yellow edge next to its own oasis-themed entrance.

Photos by Dlrp.fr and Disneytheque.com

Tuesday, 12th December 2006

Evacuating the set

Again from Poppy The Monkey, these photos cover the dramatic evacuation of Walt Disney Studios Park as guests were hurried out of Disney Studio 1, through the backstage gate, past CastmemberLand and across to the more sheltered Disneyland Park.

Click here for the photos »

Monday, 11th December 2006

WDS’ Disaster Movie shoot wraps up

Poppy The Monkey presented these photos from Saturday on the MagicForum, showing both the initial damage to temporary items at Walt Disney Studios and the clean-up effort that was just beginning. Despite the storms of the day before, the park actually had queues of guests waiting to get inside…

Whilst the majority of the Christmas tree light coverings on Front Lot’s lampposts appear to have survived, the illuminated garland on the Studio Arch was hanging from its fastening, with the area cordoned off to prevent any accidents.

Worst hit were the movie posters on the metal lighting rigs throughout the park. Added in September 2005 as part of a park enhancement programme, they were made with thousands of holes in each design to allow strong wind to flow through, but apparently this was no match for Friday’s weather. The posters were attached to their frames with glue and velcro, but whilst the securly fastened frames remain, many of the posters are gone altogether. The Finding Nemo poster in front of Crush’s Coaster still has one jagged corner remaining.

The construction fences of Tower of Terror, blown over by the winds, have now been repositioned, closing off the Armadillo prop in the process. With their hasty replacement, though, the colours no longer match. At Disney Studio 1, the starlight effect on the windows has been removed completely after almost falling on guests running inside to take shelter on Friday. You can see a photo of the lights falling at DLP.info here.

Fences at the Toon Studio construction sites were also blown over. It’s not all bad news, though – at the entrance to the work-in-progress land, the fences next to Studio 1 have yet to be replaced, giving a clear view of the new “forest” of trees planted here a few months ago…

It is currently unknown whether the Studio 1 starlight effect or the many movie posters will be replaced in coming days or weeks. Overall, however, the Studios stood up well to its first weather crisis.

Storm photos by Poppy The Monkey, other photos by DLRP Today and Photos Magiques.

Friday, 8th December 2006

Troubles of the wind

First reports appeared on DLP.info, who wrote:

“Early Friday December 8, 2006, winds up to 120 km/h were measured and resulted in closures of the Main Street, U.S.A. , it’s a small world promenade (the wide walkway in front of it’s a small world) and all open air attractions, such as Dumbo, Orbitron, Alice’s Curious Labyrinth. Guests were guided around the closed areas respectively through the arcades on the sides of the Main Street.”

However, with a 183-foot tower under construction and hundreds of temporary construction walls, Walt Disney Studios Park was undoubtedly the first concern as the storm whipped into Marne-la-Vallée. Despite each wall section being held in place with breeze blocks and sand bags, construction walls for the Tower of Terror near Studio Tram Tour were first reported to have been blown from their fixings.

At our partner site the MagicForum, member Poppy The Monkey now gives a full run-through of damage to Walt Disney Studios Park from today’s events:

– Nearly all the movie posters on the lighting rigs have gone.
– The starry light effect on Studio 1 has blown away.
– Most of the hanging decorations at the entrance to the WDS have blown down.
– Cars poster is loose on Studio 1.
– Most of the TOT construction fences were blown down along with some in Animation Courtyard.
– The tarps on the TOT were blown loose too.

Poppy The Monkey also gives more details on the safety precedures put in place for guests, reporting “Guests were kept in all attractions for 1 hour from 1pm, and not allowed to leave. Resulting in 2 showings of Animagique and Cinemagique for the same audience or all you could ride RNRC.” Any guests outside of the Studios’ many soundstages were quickly ushered inside Disney Studio 1 and told to remain inside, with multiple performances from CinéFolies and the Edelweiss band entertaining the hostages of the storm. Finally, Poppy The Monkey confirms “Guests were evacuated from the park at 2pm through the backstage areas taking them directly to the Disneyland Park via the cast members entrances.”

At Disneyland Park, the berms and landscaping played their part in protecting the park, though guests were still kept inside as much as possible. MagicForum member thebatman_1 reports Liberty Arcade and Discovery Arcade became the main shelters for windswept visitors, whilst characters huddled outside City Hall amongst the sea of blown-over trash cans.

Whilst the move to close an entire park seems monumental, the presence of heavy construction walls throughout the entire park could have led to far more serious problems in such strong winds. As it was, the damages that were incurred appear to be mostly minor, with many likely due to be fixed within just a couple of weeks.

At this moment, the winds have reportedly subsided and so fears of a repeat of December 1999’s freak storm can be put aside. On 27th December 1999, an intense gale ripped through the resort, causing damage to the roof of Sequoia Lodge and destroying the glass statue of Mickey Mouse created for the Christmas and Millennium celebrations. Worst hit was Davy Crockett Ranch, with one particular incident injuring six guests when a tree fell on their log cabin.

Member EDM at Disney Central Plaza forum reports a special event at the Studios booked by Air France still went ahead this evening, and, should the troubles of the wind not have a 2 day ticket, the parks will open again as normal tomorrow morning.

Saturday, 2nd December 2006

Pin Trading December 2006 releases

Saturday December 2nd 2006

Mystery Pack 1
Reference number 209411007045
Price 12.50 Euros

Mystery Pack 2
Reference number 209411007046
Price 12.50 Euros

Saturday December 09th 2006

Stitch Invasion WDS3 Armageddon Special Effects
Reference number 209401007049
Limited Edition 900 ex.
Price 10.50 Euros
» Click for Image

Tinkerbell Winter 06 LE Pin
Reference number 209401007050
Limited Edition 1200 ex.
Price 10.50 Euros
» Click for Image

Saturday December 16th 2006

Bambi Christmas scene LE Pin
Reference number 209401007053
Limited Edition 900 ex.
Price 10.50 Euros
» Click for Image

Tinkerbell Rose Givrée LE Pin
Reference number 209401007070
Limited Edition 1200 ex.
Price 10.50 Euros
» Click for Image

Stitch Nightmare JUMBO LE Pin
Reference number 209401007023
Limited Edition 600 ex.
Price 45.00 Euros
» Click for Image

Set of 4 pins Cutes
Reference number 209401007008
Price 18.00 Euros
» Click for Image

Set of 4 Tinkerbell pins
Reference number 209401007011
Price 18.00 Euros
» Click for Image

Set of 4 VIP Characters pins
Reference number 209401007009
Price 18.00 Euros
» Click for Image

Pin Winnie Family
Reference number 209401007022
Price 6.00 Euros
» Click for Image

Pin Mickey VIP Family
Reference number 209401007021
Price 6.00 Euros
» Click for Image

Pin Mickey Gala
Reference number 209401007019
Price 6.00 Euros
» Click for Image

Pin Minnie Gala
Reference number 209401007020
Price 6.00 Euros
» Click for Image

Pin Sorcerer Mickey 2007
Reference number 209401007060
Price 6.00 Euros

Saturday December 23rd 2006

Starter kit CHRISTMAS BAMBI
Reference number 209411007002
Price 19.90 Euros
» Click for Image

Christmas Pin 2006 LE Pin
Reference number 209401007051
Limited Edition 900 ex.
Price 10.50 Euros
» Click for Image

Happy New Year Chip and Dale LE Pin
Reference number 209401007069
Limited Edition 900 ex.
Price 10.50 Euros
» Click for Image

And don’t forget – the next Pin Trading Night is on Friday, 15th December 2006, at Disney’s Hotel New York. From 6pm to 9pm. Free entry.

Friday, 1st December 2006

Crush hangs loose at Toon Studio

Kyoto on Disney Magic Interactive forum brings us the latest photos of Toon Studio, showing off more progress with curbs and paths throughout the new area, plus more new paint for Art of Disney Animation.

The concrete curbs around the paths at the entrance to the new area of Toon Studio curve and wrap around the three key attractions in this area, giving us clues as to where more landscaping and trees are due to arrive. Scaffolding has receded further on the unique rockwork of Studio 5, revealing a clearer look at its detail, with the small tunnel for the attraction’s exit path now becoming more obvious.

Art of Disney Animation has also progressed further into the next phase of its recolouring, with pale blue paint spreading across much of the wall facing Cars Race Rally and a small strip of deeper paint, matching the final coat on the Disney Bros. Plaza side, also visible.

At Cars Race Rally, the most noticable progress is still with the desert landscaping being added to the ride’s exit slope and ride area, with more wire mesh and framework added to the teetering centrepiece canyon rock, which has also now been surrounded by scaffolding and tarp on one side.

Finally dude, the news we’ve been waiting for! Kyoto managed to catch on camera the first tests for the large billboard/mural covering that will eventually fill the entire front portion of what is widely dubbed the “dark ride showbuilding”, above and around the bright blue rockwork.

Since this is without doubt the first time the Disney Imagineers have themed a showbuilding in this way, they need to make sure they get it right, with the mural matching the colours and shape of the rockwork, piecing together correctly and passing the test of time in the Parisian climate.

A worker can be seen checking on the hanging banner from the roof of the lower showbuilding, giving a surprising sense of scale to what usually looks like a relatively average-sized project (at least compared to the Tower of Terror nearby). The final mural is likely still some way from its due date, especially given that the rockwork has yet to be finished and the bare concrete prepared. But until then dude, this is a totally awesome first preview!

All photos by Kyoto – you can see more by clicking here!

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