Friday, 1st December 2006

Bid claim faces regulator and more scepticism

The business world doesn’t hold much room for humour, so a story like this must come a real treat. A totally unknown company (Center-Tainment) with a current market capitalisation (number of shares multiplied by value) of €35m announcing a vague and boisterous intent to launch a hostile takeover of a vast company (Euro Disney) holding €272m – a company which also comes saddled with over €1.6bn of debt and an incomprehensible management structure intertwined with that of The Walt Disney Company?

Regulator AMF has now requested Center-Tainment to either make a formal bid by this Monday, December 4th, or refrain from any attempt to take over the company for at least six months.

The story has spread further over the past 24 hours, usually teamed with a headline based around a “mickey mouse bid” (such as the original Reuters article we featured yesterday), and has also finally made it to the business pages of UK newspapers. The Guardian‘s report can be found online here, whilst a look at The Daily Telegraph sees it awarded with the Business section front page and a large photo of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.

The brief report gives an interesting write-up of Center-Tainment’s intentions, explaining: “Mr Werner said Center-Tainment had been formed expressly to buy at least 50pc of Euro Disney shares. After reaching that level, it would replace the theme park’s management, terminate the operating contract with Disney and run the park itself, he said. However he refused to reveal his proposed management team or his financial backers.”

It seems that, should their planned bid miraculously be accepted by all the required parties, Center-Tainment would seek to run the resort with a structure similar to that of Tokyo Disney Resort‘s Oriental Land Company parent. Euro Disney would become almost entirely separated from The Walt Disney Company, paying only for the license to use Disney’s characters, brands and services (such as Imagineering, technical support), with greater independance (and profit) then likely expected by Center-Tainment.

After inaugerating Tokyo Disney Resort with it’s Oriental Land Company parent, The Walt Disney Company became unhappy with subsequently being left out of its huge financial profits and success, and therefore designed the Euro Disney SCA structure to (it hoped at the time) benefit its finances as much as French law would allow.

Ultimately, The Walt Disney Company would have a final say in any takeover bid, and, with watchdog AMF now closely watching proceedings, should the mysterious Center-Tainment step up to the podium and actually make a bid, they’re sure to hit more than a fair few stumbling blocks before they could take the throne of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Thursday, 30th November 2006

Euro Disney bid: Mickey Mouse or for real?

Despite this, more details and comment from the firm are now available, including a statement from the CEO that “the aim of the bid was to gain management control and renegotiate the operating licence agreement with Walt Disney Co.”

PARIS, Nov 30 (Reuters) – An obscure Swiss firm with no operations failed to tell baffled Parisian journalists, investors and regulators on Thursday if it is serious about trying to take control of Disneyland Paris.

Center-Tainment AG, which sent tremors through the Magic Kingdom by announcing plans to buy debt-laden operator Euro Disney on Wednesday, called a news conference to launch a bid worth 11 euro cents a share and then drew back.

“Unfortunately our chief legal counsel is sick so we have had to postpone the action for a few days. The official offer will come in the next days,” said Kurt Andreesen, who identified himself as an independent investment banker for the company.

Shares in Euro Disney traded at nine cents, unchanged, after rising sharply on Wednesday on word of an offer.

The purported bid for the loss-making operator of Disneyland Paris, a European cousin of the U.S. Disney theme parks, started with a statement in broken English on Wednesday.

Center-Tainment CEO Ulf Werner, 60, told reporters the aim of the bid was to gain management control and renegotiate the operating licence agreement with Walt Disney Co.

[…]

It was unclear how Center-Tainment intended to overcome the legal hurdles that protect Euro Disney’s management, which is currently delegated to a 100 percent-subsidiary of Walt Disney.

Under Euro Disney’s statutes, the Walt Disney subsidiary has the exclusive right to nominate any new manager should the current arrangements change for whatever reason.

Center-Tainment insisted it could get around these rules if it achieved its goal of obtaining 50.01 percent of the company.

Andreesen said Center-Tainment would be in a position to manage the park “without Walt Disney”, if necessary, although Werner said this was not the company’s intention.

[…]

There was no immediate comment from Walt Disney.

Euro Disney said it had been unable to find out anything about its suitor. “Despite our attempts to obtain information from them, we have been unable to secure material information on this company,” a statement said.

An official at French regulator AMF, who declined to be quoted by name, said earlier the regulator had not been contacted by Center-Tainment.

German regulator BaFin said it had no background knowledge about Center-Tainment, although a bid by a Swiss company for a French one would not fall under its jurisdiction.

Management Control

[…]

Center-Tainment said 45 shareholders, led by an unidentified German company, owned 99 percent of the stock and that the remaining one percent was traded in the market.

Sceptical journalists pressed Werner and his entourage for details on their backers and their own backgrounds, but received vague answers. The company said its executives had decades of experience in the leisure industry, including indoor soccer.

Center-Tainment has a market capitalisation of 70 million euros after more than halving on Thursday, compared with Euro Disney’s 312 million euros. Any purchaser would face an immediate headache over Euro Disney’s debt of 1.6 billion euros.

[…]

Officials said they had bought Orca purely as a shell company for the purpose of mounting a Euro Disney bid.

Andreesen said the company had a plan B in case Euro Disney investors rejected its planned share offer. “Maybe there will be a cash offer, as a next step, if our share offer doesn’t work.”

Article sourced from Reuters.

Thursday, 30th November 2006

Center-Tainment confirms plan, Euro Disney knows nothing

Center-Tainment chairman confirms Euro Disney bid plan
11.30.2006, 06:43 AM
PARIS (AFX) – Ulf Werner, chairman of Swiss leisure group Center-Tainment AG, confirmed that his company plans to launch a takeover bid for loss-making theme park operator Euro Disney SCA ‘in coming days’.

He will notify Paris bourse regulator AMF today of his intentions, Werner said at a news conference here.

The proposal will be an all-share offer for Euro Disney’s free floating stock, aimed at giving Center-Tainment a 50.01 pct stake, Werner said.

The ratio will be Center-Tainment shares worth 11 euro cents for every Euro Disney share, the company said.

At 12.10 m, Euro Disney shares were steady at 0.09 eur, giving the owner of the Disneyland Paris resort a market value of 350.8 mln eur.

Euro Disney is 39.8 pct owned by The Walt Disney Co, and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia has a 10 pct stake.

Centre-Tainment, which is based in Zug, Switzerland and is listed in Frankfurt was formed ‘with the sole aim of creating a company able to initiate a share swap offer for Euro Disney’s floating capital,’ it said in a statement yesterday.

The company said it is led by ‘very experienced managers’ who are ‘influential in the leisure industry’.

Last night Euro Disney said it had not been able to obtain any details of the supposedly forthcoming takeover bid, despite requests to the company following press reports about the intended offer.

A report from MarketWatch gives details about what a takeover plan could actually mean for the company:

Center-Tainment AG to make bid for EuroDisney – report
11:58 AM ET Nov 29, 2006
PARIS (MarketWatch) — […] A press release purporting to come from Center-Tainment, and received by Dow Jones Newswires, said the company was created with the sole purpose of launching a takeover bid for EuroDisney.

The release, inviting journalists to Thursday’s press conference, said Center-Tainment is being advised by “very experienced and influential managers of the leisure industry,” but didn’t elaborate.

No-one was answering the German phone number given in the invitation, and only an e-mail return of address was given.

The release said that Center-Tainment “expects very hard resistance” from

EuroDisney’s management and from its main shareholder; the company pledged to put its own management team in charge of EuroDisney if the bid is successful.

The release also said Center-Tainment is engaged in negotiations with other potential, though smaller targets in the European leisure business.

To be successful, a takeover bid for EuroDisney would have to be approved by U.S. Walt Disney Co. because of EuroDisney’s legal status as a partnership by shares.

And here is the Euro Disney SCA statement in full, which was also forwarded to all members of the Shareholders Club early this morning:

Euro Disney SCA Statement

(Marne-la-Vallée, le 29 novembre 2006) Euro Disney S.C.A.’s Management is aware that a company recently listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and based in Zug, Switzerland, has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow to announce its intention to launch an ‘unfriendly takeover offer for Euro Disney’. Despite our attempts to obtain information from them, we have been unable to secure material information on this company.

The Management of Euro Disney remains focused on its daily operations as well as its long-term growth strategy and is committed to building on the progress achieved this past year.

And finally, from Reuters, confirmation that the stock market regulators also know nothing about the bid:

Regulators have no news of a Euro Disney bid
Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:03am ET
PARIS, Nov 30 (Reuters) – Stock market regulators were unable to shed light on Thursday on plans by a little-known Swiss-registered company to bid for theme park operator Euro Disney.

Frankfurt-listed Center-Tainment assembled journalists in Paris on Thursday to announce what it said in a media invitation would be “an unfriendly takeover offer for Euro Disney,” which expressed bemusement over its surprise suitor.

Center-Tainment said in its notice that its share bid for 50.01 percent of the stock would value Euro Disney at 11 euro cents a share, about one third above its current trading level.

The undated note, issued ahead of a news conference, did not say how the bid value was calculated.

An official at French regulator AMF, who declined to be quoted by name, said the regulator had not been contacted by Center-Tainment.

German stock market regulator BaFin said it had no background knowledge about Center-Tainment, although it said a bid by a Swiss company for a French company would not fall under its jurisdiction.

Euro Disney said late on Wednesday it had been unable to find out anything about the purported bid. “Despite our attempts to obtain information from them, we have been unable to secure material information on this company,” Euro Disney said.

Euro Disney shares traded one cent lower at eight euro cents ahead of the news conference on Thursday. Center-Tainment shares were also lower, although in very light volume.

Shares in both companies have risen sharply since Center-Tainment listed in Germany in September. Center-Tainment has a market capitalisation of 140 million euros compared with Euro Disney’s 312 million euros. Euro Disney’s net debt stands at 1.6 billion euros.

Center-Tainment appeared for the first time in the Swiss business registry on May 19, 2006, when it changed its name from Orca and changed its purpose to that of a broad-purpose financial-services and real estate holding company.

The company said on Wednesday it was a holding company for activities in the leisure industry like indoor playgrounds, indoor soccer and leisure parks.

The press conference by Center-Tainment was scheduled to begin at 11am Paris time today. You can find their very basic website here.

Wednesday, 29th November 2006

Euro Disney targeted for hostile takeover?

French daily Le Monde said that Euro Disney officials have not been contacted by Center-Tainment, but acknowledged that the group is aware of the email sent to the newspaper, apparently in error, reporting the launch of a bid tomorrow.

PARIS, Nov 29 (Reuters) – French theme park operator Euro Disney is aware of a report that it was about to receive a hostile takeover bid but said it had not been approached, amid reports of a pending offer by a little-known Swiss firm.
“We are aware of the rumour that this company is organising a press conference in Paris tomorrow to present a bid, but we can’t say more. We have not been approached,” said a spokesman for Euro Disney on Wednesday .

He was responding to an article in Le Monde newspaper which said Zug, Switzerland-based and Frankfurt-listed Center-Tainment AG was poised to make a bid for the operator of Disneyland Paris.

Center-Tainment said last week it would hold a news conference on Nov. 30 to announce an unspecified takeover. Center-Tainment did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on Wednesday.

Heavily indebted Euro Disney is 39.8 percent owned by Walt Disney Co. via its 100 percent subsidiary EDL Holding, and 10 percent indirectly owned by Saudi prince Alwaleed. The loss-making company’s banks have a large say in its future, however, through conditions they have set in return for providing the firm with debt financing.

Euro Disney has a market capitalisation of 272.84 million euros, with its net debt of 1.67 billion euros at Sept. 30 giving an enterprise value close to 2 billion euros. Its shares trade at 7 euro cents after a 36 percent decline this year and a 54 percent fall over 2005.

Center-Tainment chairman Ulf Werner said in a statement last week that the target company was itself listed and therefore resistance by management and some shareholders could be expected. Werner said that movements in the Center-Tainment share price gave rise to suspicion that some parties had taken short positions to make a Center-Tainment bid less attractive.

“The target company has, as is proper procedure, already been informed about Center-Tainment’s strategy,” the firm said, adding the target firm’s investment bank had contacted the company and was preparing a defence.

Center-Tainment said that it expected a risk-free gain in double-digit millions if its five-year plan for the target firm was executed and it said it was confident it could finalise the acquisition in 2006. Center-Tainment is a holding company of family entertainment firms that are active in outdoor and indoor activities. Its Web site lists Jack Kaeser and Hermann Wattenhofer as other executives.

At the start of November, Euro Disney said a new Buzz Lightyear ride helped it boost visitor numbers and trim its fiscal 2006 year loss and it was confident it could keep afloat in 2007. The company, which has to meet certain financial targets to stop banks from calling in its debts, said its net loss narrowed to 73.1 million euros from a comparable loss of 92 million euros in 2005.

The operating loss excluding debt-servicing costs narrowed to 2.4 million euros from 31.9 million as revenues grew faster than costs. It said it planned a series of special events around its 15th anniversary and new additions to its Walt Disney Studios Park.

News from Reuters.
What a takeover from this group would mean for Euro Disney is uncertain. Forbes reports shareholders would be offered Center-Tainment shares, but quite how a takeover of a company so heavily in debt and so dispersed (there are more separate operating and holding companies within the group than you could ever imagine) could happen hasn’t yet been answered. The changes would, we can presume, be on the business and ownership side of things only.

The Swiss group has apparently organised a press conference in Paris, whilst Euro Disney are still in the dark, out at Marne-la-Vallée. It seems we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if truth lies within this story.

Wednesday, 29th November 2006

Magical Christmas nights

This one, though, you’ll already be familiar with. With Disneyland Park remaining open until 10pm over the main Christmas holidays, the longest opening hours ever operated during this season, the entertainment department is getting ready to balance out the day’s entertainment. Just as the 11pm closure in the Summer season causes times to be shifted later in the day, the park’s new Christmas hours are pushing back the times of The Legend Of The Lion King, The Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony, Disney’s Fanillusion and even Disney Cinema Parade.

Most interesting of all, The Christmas Parade has been pushed back to 5.30pm, nightfall in Paris during this season, actually turning the parade into a daily “nighttime” event for the first time ever. Only on New Year’s Eve in past years has the parade been performed under the glow of the park’s lighting rigs.

The Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony will then follow at 7pm, with Disney’s Fantillusion at 8.30pm, adding up to many magical nights of exclusive Christmas entertainment for the Paris resort.

You can see the latest times in full here: Entertainment Performance Times

Unfortunately, the Christmas version of Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too advertised by the resort’s official website to begin on 16th December has yet to appear on any schedules. Has Pooh Bear made a last minute cancellation to his festive tea party, or are they for whatever reason hiding this show in the same way as the hushed relaunch of the Summer version?

Monday, 27th November 2006

Refurbishment Roundup

Beginning, like most guests, as the entrance to Disneyland Park, let’s take a moment to marvel as the fully completed refurbishment of Disneyland Hotel. With its original, warm, pink colour returned, the hotel is glowing with magic once again. The next job for the crew will be to replace the scores of blown bulbs across the rooftops, but aside from that, the envy of every other Disney Resort has never looked more stunning.

Deep inside the park at Fantasyland, those fences just won’t budge from the Wishing Well. Work has been going on here for at least two months, and, as you can see, there hasn’t been much of a rush to get it finished. Also in Fantasyland, Le Pays des Contes de Fées and Casey Jr. are closed during the low season, with walls in place whilst the usual Winter refurbishment goes on.

Over in Frontierland, it seems they’re having trouble ridding the park of the Pumpkinmen, with a gathering of green fences still to be found around the site of the Pumpkin Paint Tower. With a quick change of parks, the refurbishment of Front Lot’s buildings continues, with Studio Photo revealing its newly refreshed colours and Studio Services getting the white basecoat treatment. Once repainted, the refurbishment project should finally be complete, unless they plan on starting on Disney Studio 1…

And finally… the atmosphere in Disney Village feels a bit deflated recently. Can you find a reason why? Those balloons were less than a month old – it should only be a few more days now before the (rather sleek) new red ribbon decorations on the second entrance drop off aswell.

For more of the latest photos, check Photos Magiques »

Monday, 27th November 2006

Getting in gear for the Race Rally

Whilst the lonely 1-disc DVD may be a disappointment for Pixar fans, the paper inserts are definitely a surprise for us. Going against their history of missed opportunities with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and others, Disneyland Resort Paris have, for once, got in gear and made sure Cars Race Rally is revved up and ready to go.

The text is as vague as ever about what the attraction actually entails, but featuring the 15th Anniversary branding and a reminder of the Kids Free offer is enough to make this a step – or should that be a drive? – in the right direction.

Whilst we have of course already seen advertisements for the attraction both in the 15th Anniversary Brochure and on the Official Website, this marks the very first 15th Anniversary advertisement outside of the world of Disneyland Resort Paris. It’s good to see they’ve taken advice from the film, and seem just as invested in the road to the 15th as the anniversary itself. With Cars due to be one of the biggest DVDs this Christmas, the Race Rally is certainly off to a rip-roaring start.


Click here for more on the DVD.

Thursday, 23rd November 2006

Topping-out the Tower of Terror!

The event took place earlier today, with the dome lifted from the backstage area behind Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic to the top of the tower and fastened in place to several vertical metal fixings which have been visible for several months. The dome is actually only the first of three to be used in the design of the Pueblo Deco Hollywood Tower Hotel (the design used by California and Paris). The second is located on the front-left of the large showbuilding whilst a third sits atop the Art Deco tower at the front of the construction (which is currently still a black metal framework).

Further progress elsewhere on the Tower has also been made in recent days. Surprisingly, scaffolding has now been fully removed from the right-hand balcony section at the top of the tower. Whilst this section is now sporting pale yellow paintwork and a darker trim on the faux pueblo tiling, it still requires much more work before completion. The base of the section, which juts out from the tower’s tallest point, is clearly unfinished, and the entire section is still in need of weathering and ageing to give it a colour and effect similar to the darker, more sinister finished design.

The advancement of primer and early paintwork across the entire left side of the building has continued, with a large portion now under the wrapping of white sheets, suggesting more intense work is now starting on the detail and finish of the walls.

With the dome in place, colour arriving and details still being added, the Parisian tower is beginning to resemble the finished design quite spectacularly.

All photos above from www.lesamisduvaldeurope.com via TheOneWhoKnew at Disney Central Plaza forum.

UPDATE 26/11/2006 23:14GMT:

The domes didn’t stop there! Over the following 24 hours, the final two domes were lifted and fixed into position on the future Tower of Terror, completing the trio.

Remarkably, the small art deco tower at the front of the building which supports the third dome has yet to become any more than a simple metal framework!

Also since the last update, some news which I’ll quote from WDS Fans:

La Terrasse: That’s a Wrap?

The concept of a small number of false Hollywood facades in the space between Disney Bros. Plaza and Studio Tram Tour has been rumoured for some time, but now new plans are also calling for the demolition of La Terrasse, to make way for a true Hollywood entrance for the Tower of Terror.

La Terrasse is the partially covered seating area in front of the Tower of Terror construction site and is located right at the heart of the park, open from Day 1 as an outdoor dining area and a teaser of things to come. If green-lit, these new plans, confirmed by Kinou on the WDS Fans magicforum, would transform this area with a small series of “movie set” Hollywood façades similar to those seen in Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disney’s California Adventure park.

Latest photos from thebatman_1 on MagicForum.

Wednesday, 22nd November 2006

Selling the Celebration: The Official Brochure

Close your eyes, make a wish, and see it come true in our birthday year – this is a party where everyone’s invited! The party treats are all wrapped up and ready, so what are you waiting for? Don’t miss this magical chance to share in Disney’s past, enjoy the “presents” and celebrate the future.

This is the 15th Birthday Official Brochure 2006/2007


Front Cover

The front cover is truly stunning. They’ve taken the centred, circular design from the previous two brochures and applied a shiny, glossy, Disney-character-filled 15 logo. The choice of colour is brilliant – not a “true” gold (which would have clashed with Disneyland’s 50th), it fades from a yellow-orange to yellow. And, unlike all previous brochures, the front and back covers are both glossed and very shiny.


Fold-Out Welcome Page

Again, this is stunning. We haven’t had fold-out pages at the front of a brochure for a few years, but they’ve used it exceptionally well here, giving a nice “reveal” to all the 15th Anniversary magic. The fully-extended page is truly a work of Disney (marketing) art!


Contents / Experiences

The contents page is filled with even more characters and is, as usual, very well-designed. The page also intoduces the 15 icon, which you’ll spot throughout the entire brochure wherever there’s something new or special for the anniversary year.

The whole brochure uses an embossed effect in the design that gives a very bright, glossy look to all the pages that looks both magical and modern. After looking at this brochure for a while, the rest of the world suddenly looks much gloomier.


Disney Parks

Donald makes an appearance to introduce the Disney Parks. This is probably the only disappointing page in the brochure, using a bad photoshop image of the Castle and Earful Tower – there’s no character decorations and apparently CinéMagique is now located beneath the walls of Sleeping Beauty’s kingdom.


Disneyland Park

Disneyland Park opens with a bang, using the full Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade visual to fill the entire page, almost as if they designed it solely for this brochure. Also mentioned is the “Daily Party Ceremony” and more Disney characters, whilst the second double page lists the key attractions, beginning with 2006’s Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.


Walt Disney Studios Park

Kicks of with a very eye-catching double page dedicated entirely to Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally. The good use of the Crush visual makes it clear this is the key attraction here, whilst the second page puts Moteurs… Action! in the spotlight.


Seasons

Despite this brochure only covering the Summer and Halloween seasons, there’s still something fun to see on the Seasons page – a new, updated version of the Stitch Halloween visual. Unlike the original, which can be seen here, this one features a more 3D Stitch clutching to the top spire and swiping at the Pink Witches with his claws… King Kong, anyone?


Beyond the Parks

Beyond the Parks begins with a very magical page featuring lovely colours and a nicely contrasting Dumbo visual. Disney Village is the same as ever, whilst the resort shows its new, hip side with the options for “Chillin'”. It’s ok, that photo of Notre Dame is nice enough for them to be forgiven for sounding like an embarassing parent.


Hotels & Resort Map

The Disney Hotel pages are a vast improvement over those of the earlier Autumn/Winter brochure, with each hotel now getting a full page to itself and the design simplified and beautified with better photos, more colour and some nice graphics. The Other Accommodation pages have only changed very slightly, the most major change being Hotel L’Élysée (a Euro Disney SCA Hotel) given its own page.

The Resort Map has also been updated. Not only with a beautiful new starry background, but in its actual design, since the detail of the two Disney Parks has been increased massively and the biggest surprise – Toon Studio is now featured! You can find a full article about this here.


Booking

The characters continue to dominate on the Booking pages, which go on to feature details of Half Board, Extra Magic Hours, etc. in the same design format as the parks and attractions pages earlier.


Price Guide / New Eurostar Page / Magical Options

The well-designed Price Guide from the Autumn/Winter brochure has been retained and has (like most pages) been sprinkled with references to the anniversary. A new, colourful page has been introduced to advertise the direct Eurostar service to the resort, which was recently made more magical thanks to a live band, character appearances and a greater Disney presence at London Waterloo International.


2007 Calendar / Contact Details

The calendar is no longer as full as it used to be in years gone by – these days the resort prefers to simplify to seasons only, to save re-prints if show and parade details change. The final page, featuring contact details, is nice and up-to-date, already featuring a screenshot of the new official website.


Back Cover

The back cover borrows from last year’s Happiest Celebration On Earth, with the final slogan – The only one missing is you! – in a modern and fun design.

So there we have it – the Official 15th Anniversary Brochure. If they’re producing something this good for their 15th, imagine what we’ll get for the 25th!

Celebration Score: 10/10

The best print advert for Disneyland Resort Paris ever created. Fun, well-designed, full of Disney characters and previewing two new attractions, a brand new parade and so much more. It’s everything we’ve wanted for the past 5 years.

I guess that proves dreams really can come true.

You can order the new brochure by clicking here. International versions may vary in design, and should also start becoming available to order between now and January.

Wednesday, 22nd November 2006

New Resort Map adds more to the parks

With a dazzling, blue, starry background and all the elegance of the new 15th Anniversary brochure (which will be previewed in full very soon!), the new resort map is a stunning improvement on an already-popular design. Not least when you look at the two Disney Parks.

Whilst earlier versions saw the parks feature a jumble of their most iconic attractions, the updated map has added far more detail to this area, presenting the parks almost to their true layout and adding several new attractions to the mix. At Disneyland Park, you can now see Pirates of the Caribbean, Adventureland Bazaar, Phantom Manor, Disneyland Railroad and the Geysers of Frontierland. The existing attractions – Le Château, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, “it’s a small world” and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril – have all been updated with new, more detailed designs.

However, the biggest changes can be seen over at Walt Disney Studios Park – not only in real life but also on the map. The layout of the park is now clearly defined, with the entrance, Earful Tower and first three Disney Studios now featured, whilst Moteurs… Action! has been shrunk to make way for the guitar of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith.

Even details such as the Place des Stars Stage and sign are now featured, and the Reign of Fire scene from Studio Tram Tour has been hastily affixed from the main park map… dare we say a placeholder for the Tower of Terror next year?

Of course, the one location which your eyes will have been immediately drawn to is… Toon Studio! Featured on an official map for the very first time, and looking very much like the most recent official concepts. Flying Carpets Over Agrabah now has more detail and a deep purple backdrop, but the big additions are Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally.

Crush’s Coaster features some details which appear different in the real design – for example, the map shows a grey building and purple rockwork, much like the concept art. Cars Race Rally is perhaps more accurate, featuring brightly coloured cars skidding around the canyon with the Cars showroom entrance (and it’s massive illuminated “Cars” sign) in the background.

The new magic doesn’t end there – even the Toon Town backdrop has been added! This version features the wall, hills and buildings of the latest concepts along with the smiling face of the sun, shining down from above the Toon Town hills!

And, as a final touch of mystery about the not-so-distant future of Toon Studio – the stars and moon of the Sorcerer’s Hat have now been painted gold.

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