Friday, 27th October 2006

A Journey From Time To Time

Let’s begin our adventure beyond the berms 33km East of Paris, sometime between 12th April 1992 and 5th September 2004. Once inside the gates of Euro Disneyland, Disneyland Paris or Disneyland Park, we’re rushing straight for Discoveryland. At the entrance, the a circling, futuristic sundial and the impressive Reinstella draw us into Le Visionarium, the attraction proclaimed by Michael Eisner himself as his “favourite” in the entire park. When the magic begins, we’re treated to a journey through time and space, taking in great landmarks of Europe and great discoveries of the past, present and future.

The key location in the film “From Time To Time” is the towering pavillion of the 1900 Paris Expo, the “Conference sur le Future”. It was here that 9-Eye met Mr. Verne and H.G. Wells, where Verne clung onto 9-Eye to follow her through time and space, and where 9-Eye bashfully accepts a flower from the visionary master, with the location seen both in its 1900 heydey and 1990s pop-culture present.

Whilst the film and the attraction may have now been erased around the world, fans of the Timekeeper’s legendary voyage suffering from over 2 years of withdrawal should set their sights on only one place: Vienna. Here, just outside the city centre, Schloß Schönbrunn is home not only to its historic palace and zoo, but to a creation like something out of Disneyland itself. It may be a palm house, but this has now become a true piece of Disney history…

Jumping off the number 58 tram, you head into the gardens of Schönbrunn palace with an air of anticipation. Like a visit to Disneyland itself, you’re about to see something from a fictional legend come to life before your eyes, and, just as you see Space Mountain from the Eurostar or the Earful Tower from the autoroute, the Palmenhaus suddenly appears above the bushes and flowers.

Whilst the exterior of the Palmenhaus has become familiar with countless viewings of Le Visionarium, to then step inside the “Paris Expo” building is quite unique.

From the official website:

The Palm House is located on the site of the former Dutch Garden and was erected in 1881/2 to designs by Franz Xaver Segenschmid. One hundred and thirteen metres long, the Palm House consists of a 28-metre high central pavilion and two lateral pavilions which are three metres lower. Linked by tunnel-like passages, the pavilions contain different climatic zones: a ‘cold’ house to the north, a temperate zone in the central pavilion and a tropical climate in the south pavilion. The necessary temperatures are achieved by means of a steam heating system which means that rare specimens from all over the world can be grown here.

Besides the numerous stars and extras seen in the film, it’s clear that a large amount of set dressing was done to prepare the building, such as the addition of a raised entrance, clocks, banners… and French flags, of course.

This impressive iron construction used the most modern technology of its time, with the materials determining its form. The proportions of the convex and concave lines of the central and lateral pavilions are perfectly balanced and endow the iron structure with a perceptible lightness despite its massive dimensions. Inserted into the framework of the external iron construction, the glazing clings to the curved iron girders like a skin. The Schönbrunn Palm House was the last of its type to be constructed in continental Europe.

The beauty of the building speaks for itself and seeing it for real is something truly special. Bringing back memories of Le Visionarium and reminders of Discovery Arcade in Main Street, it’s always a wonderful feeling to find a little piece of magic so far from the magic kingdom itself. Almost as if they expect crazed Disneyland Resort Paris fans to visit, even the modern tickets have been produced with a design right out of the late 19th Century.

So if you’re looking for a holiday besides a visit to Disneyland itself, or need a little dose of Le Visionarium memories after 2 years of absence, why not consider Vienna. Not for museums, Mozart or the beautiful architecture, but for a special piece of magic from the history of Euro Disney.

Click here for a quick reminder of Le Visionarium.

Thursday, 26th October 2006

When Main Street moves to Orange County

Four years later, and their “Main Street: Orange County” decorations weren’t even meant to appear, until a last-minute decision just days before the festival began.

Never before have seasonal decorations caused such a stir as when the Pumpkinmen made their debut in 2003. They formed the central part of a revamped Halloween festival, which also saw the introduction of the Disney Villain Parade and the launch of a new theme song, It’s Halloween-Lo-Ween.

Only during Halloween could an Imagineering creation like Main Street USA, such a key part of Disneyland’s history, be plastered with orange paint splashes and overrun by plastic Pumpkinmen figures “frozen in time” by a Witch crashing into the Gazebo. Whilst the fans revolted, the public seemed to embrace the new characters, making the most of the new photo oppertunities and enjoying the live streetmosphere, which – horror of horrors – included Pumpkinmen painting over Main Street’s shop windows with real orange paint!

Included in the nearly one hundred Pumpkin touches around the land, we’ve got Pumpkinmen sat on false, paint-splattered benches, Pumpkinmen hanging from buildings in giant paint pots and odd Pumpkin signposts – all of which surely receiving thousands of “What the?!” remarks from guests every day. The most noticable change for 2006 is likely the addition of Stitch the Main Street Station sign, which has been rather ruthlessly cut into to show a black silhouette of Stitch. A nice effect here, though, is that smoke slowly floats out of the sign, as if Stitch has only just jumped through it.

Originally, the “frozen” Pumpkinmen figures were also designed to help blend the old Lights of Winter into the festival. Installed early to save time and money, the towering, snow flake-styled light arches were given several small orange stickers and a few Pumpkinmen to help hide the fact they were installed a month early.

Even in 2006, signs of Christmas have made their way into Halloween again, with half of the Enchanted Fairytale Illumination chandeliers installed at the Central Plaza end of Main Street: Orange County.

The illustrations here were drawn by Jérome Picoche for the 2003/04 seasons, showing the original vision for the Pumpkinmen invasion and the crash landing of Gruzella. In 2005, Gruzella was redesigned as the leader of the Pink Witches, who also now frequent Main Street at various times of the day to cause trouble with their fight against the Pumpkinmen.

Below, you can see just a small selection of the concept sketches created when Disneyland Resort Paris Creative Entertainment introduced the Pumpkinmen. The team, led by entertainment head Kat de Blois, designed each scene from scratch to suit various locations all around Main Street. Love them or loath them, it can’t be said that Pumpkinmen invasion wasn’t crafted with a lot of attention to detail.

When Main Street moves to Orange County, it might do it in a surprisingly un-mouse-house style, but it certainly does it with all the extravagance and detail we know and love as Disney, don’t you think?

You can see more photos of this Halloween on Main Street at Photos Magiques.

Wednesday, 25th October 2006

Mapping out The Twilight Zone

Despite the size and importance of this project, Euro Disney SCA remains silent – no hype, no press releases. So whilst at the moment we can happily see the Tower progress day-by-day with more details, more concrete primer and more false windows, the resort is preferring to keep quiet, likely for fear that the attraction will steal the spotlight from the Toon Studio attractions and new parade premiering before it. The small billboard in front of the construction site doesn’t even mention the name of the attraction.

Recently, however, a special flyer was handed out backstage to Cast Members giving a preview of the new attraction, including a run-through of its legendary story and some precise details about the design. According to the flyer, the height of the tower from its base to the top of the highest dome will be 55.17 metres, or 181 feet. The maximum vertical speed of the elevator shaft cars is an astonishing 31.6 metres per second, with ride cycles lasting around 4 minutes. If this wasn’t enough of a preview, a never-before-seen (at least in this detail) concept plan of the entire building was featured, now uploaded by WDSFans.com to its growing Walt Disney Studios Concept Art database:

The biggest mystery of all about the project, and one that still hasn’t been solved, is the opening date of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Announced in January 2005 for an unspecific “2008” opening, rumours later spread that an earlier opening of October 2007 could be on the cards, pushed by Euro Disney SCA’s commenting that the attraction will open in “Financial Year” 2008 – ie. anytime from late October 2007 onwards.

This month rumours have changed again, this time pointing back towards 2008 and a more specific January opening, allowing the opening to be separated from the popular Christmas and Halloween seasons. Is there any proof of this? Well, it seems there could be – the 15th Anniversary preview trailer released a few days ago features an interesting disclaimer when Tower of Terror appears on-screen: “Ouverture début 2008” – Opening Early 2008. But now a new mystery – is that the year 2008, as in January, or the financial year 2008? Considering the video is destined for travel agents, cast member previews and other non-business or financial areas of the resort’s workings, it looks like this could be the first step to finally mapping out an official date for The Twilight Zone’s arrival.

You can see a large scan of the building plan at WDSFans.com »

Tuesday, 24th October 2006

Are we still dreaming?

These two new visuals were likely intended to make their debut with the official 15th Anniversary brochure, but, as Disneyland Resort Paris have learnt all too much recently, no secrets are safe with the internet.

The two visuals focus on two different floats in the new parade. The first, which looks to be part of a larger advertisement design, features the parade’s first float: Dream of Imagination. We released a profile-angle concept art of this float back in July, but now we can get an even better glimpse at how the float will look as it makes its way down the Parade Route in 2007. The sun-shaped hot air balloon is now revealed to have a beaming face at the front, whilst the balloon features a “15” plaque and the heavily stylized moon brings memories of the slightly abstract designs of Disney Cinema Parade.

The second visual is much larger and features a view of float 4, Dream of Fantasy, as if you’re watching it approach from the curb with Pluto. The float features Captain Hook’s pirate ship at the front, followed by Wendy’s house (with Peter Pan on the roof), Big Ben and the London skyline, and finally Mary Poppins’ carousel at the rear. Mr Smee and the pirates follow the float along, whilst silhouettes of float 6, Dream of Adventure, and float 8, Dream of Romance, can be seen the background.

Antoine, who published the DLRP.fr article featuring the visuals, also gives some extra details about the parade. Float 2 – Dream of Fun and Laughter, features a giant Alice stuck in a Wonderland house, and it appears her head will measure no less than 2.5 metres high, giving some sense of the grand scale of this parade. Several puppets will indeed be featured throughout the parade, controlled by artists inside the floats, whilst an odd new rumour is that each float will be joined by special aromas and scents as it passes along the Parade Route, a first for a Disney parade.

Are we dreaming here, or is this really happening?

Sunday, 22nd October 2006

You’re invited to dream…

The trailer has now appeared on DailyMotion, likely imported from a press CD given at the event or through other means, but should certainly not be viewed as a final 15th Anniversary commercial – it is simply a preview for press and travel companies only. Whilst the beautiful greyscale shots and modern blue text sections are all brand new, the character, attraction and parade shots inbetween have all been dug out from the resort’s archives.

The video:

This trailer has been distributed to travel agents and resort parters for use in a similar way to the “Where?” trailer seen a few years ago – simply to present and give a “feel” for the products on offer. A better-flowing and longer English version has also been distributed, featuring vastly improved mixing, more greyscale shots and speech in various European languages from the people featured.

The text in the French version reads:

“You’re invited to dream… like never before”
“In 2007, get ready…”
“For the biggest celebration in our history”
“With new attractions”
“A new parade”
“Even more characters”
“All year long”
“So that the magic is more affordable than ever”
“It’s our 15th Anniversary…”

Sunday, 22nd October 2006

Selling the Celebration: #2

The “Groups” brochure is traditionally produced a few months before it’s “Official Holiday Guide” cousin, since the market it is created for generally needs more time to book and plan their visit. The seasonal editions are far thinner than the public brochure and don’t always give exact pricing details (these are featured in a separate supplement), but instead give information and photos to sell the resort’s general experience. With the 15th Anniversary brochure, then, can you guess what they’re trying to sell?


Front Cover / Introduction Pages

First impressions are extraordinary – a stunning, shiny “15” with all the characters bursting out of it grabs your attention immediately. It looks whimsical, fun and very special. If the public brochure uses a design like this, we can be sure they’ll be flying off travel agents’ shelves.

Opening up the brochure, and the magic continues. The nighttime castle visual has been extended across two pages, with a huge 15th Anniversary logo and lots of excitable information about the events. “It’s our biggest celebration ever!” reads the brochure, “More than ever, the Disney Characters will be waiting to greet your group. Come and laugh, sing and dance with them, in locations created especially for the festivities.” It then goes on to describe the special pricing offers during the year, as well as the introduction of Extra Magic Hours (the rather clumsy “Des Heures de Magie en Plus” in French) which will be featured throughout the year. “Your members and groups absolutely cannot miss this occasion!”


15th Anniversary double spread

The brilliant design continues to the next double spread, for the 15th Anniversary itself. They’ve separated Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios very well, giving each their own page with the biggest new feature getting a large image in the centre. It’s not too crowded, uses lots of good images and features all the events in good bullet point sections at the bottom. Some of the “nouveau” fonts are a little strange, but the excellence of the rest of the design makes up for this.


Seasons & Events and Why Book in 2007 / Back Cover

Finally, we have a Seasons & Events page and a “Why to book with Disneyland Resort Paris now” page. The Seasons & Events page is simple enough, with the usual information and even the actual dates for 2007’s seasons, which before now had not been confirmed. Halloween: 6th October to 4th November 2007, Christmas: 10th November 2007 to 6th January 2008.

The “Why book now” page, on the other hand, is a far stronger “sell” than we usually see from the resort. Obviously concerned that in 2007 they need lots of bookings “or else”, they’ve taken to bullet-pointing reasons why 2007 is the year to visit. It recaps all the 15th events, ticket offers, Extra Magic Hours, and on so on to build up a very good case for booking with the resort. It’s unlikely we’ll see something this strong in the public brochure, but for a Groups brochure is works very well, especially when surrounded by more nice characters from the official visuals.

If this is the quality of an 8-page groups brochure, imagine the quality of the final Official Holiday Guide! This really could be a year of total turnaround for the resort.

Celebration Score: 9/10

You can see the brochure in Disney’s e-brochure format here, or download it as a PDF here.

Saturday, 21st October 2006

Encore plus de bleu!

Studio 5 is where it’s at for those blue paint freaks. Two thirds of the Flying Carpets wall has now been painted in a second, more vibrant coat. The joins in the concrete sections are still very visable, but the building is beginning to come close to a Disney-quality finish. The front wall on the other hand, which has been primed and treated for many weeks now to make it as smooth as possible, now has a generous smothering of blue paint for itself. Currently, the paint appears slightly darker than the side wall, hinting a second coat may also be on its way here.

Last month we reported that one section of the rockwork at the front of the attraction had been given a new, much deeper shade of blue. Now, the same shade has been added to all of the rocks either side, showing just how vibrant and bright this new Toon addition will look when finished.

It’s also interesting to note that a thin strip of blue paint has even appeared around the top of the Crush’s Coaster dark ride building, probably to allow the Imagineers to assess how it looks against the (incresingly) grey Marne-la-Vallée skies. The sides of the building not visible to guests in the park (except those on Studio Tram Tour) have yet to receive any paint..

The blue explosion doesn’t stop at Studio 5, though, as seen by these new photos above showing Art of Disney Animation’s brand new coat of paint. The curved rear section and large toilets entrance wall of the building were painted in a very light sky blue colour last week, showing the first step from the Imagineers to integrate this building better into the “new” Toon Studio. It’s likely this is as much blue paint the building will see, however, since any more would clash with the blue Sorcerer’s Hat at the front. Currently, this sky blue gives a colourful and very “Disney” colour palette next to the other yellow and purple sections.

Photos by: Kyoto at Disney Magic Interactive forum; DLRP.fr

Thursday, 19th October 2006

New website for Disneyland Resort Paris Intl

Thanks to Jakub from the Czech Republic for notifying us that a brand new version of the resort’s International web pages has just been launched!

This isn’t just a few extra pages for guests outside of the resort’s six main countries. No, this is a brand new, full, complete website featuring everything from Disney Studio 1 to Paris sightseeing trips. This is biggest change to Disneyland Resort Paris’ online presence in over six years, and at first glance appears to tick all the boxes on most visitors’ wishlists.

The design could perhaps be cleaned up in a few areas (it’s true that some areas of the design are lacking slightly compared to its US cousins), but the content is infinately better than the website we’ve become used to. A new “choose your experience” option similar to the US websites, vastly improved practical information and pages for every single attraction across the resort, with countless photos, panoramas.. and… videos!

The website also introduces the concept of “myDisneyland” to the Paris resort, allowing you to save newsletters, ebrochures and website pages and organise itineraries with a few clicks. The booking system has not been updated for this new design, but a very slick new Hotel search system is already in place, making it easier to find a hotel to suit your dreams.

Is this the new website promised by Karl Holz earlier this year? We can’t be sure. But, whether or not this design will be transferred without change to the resort’s six main language sites, we’ve finally got the big website update we waited countless years to see…

http://international.disneylandparis.com/index.xhtml

Or, you can access the website by choosing one of the resort’s International territories from the main language select screen, such as the Czech Republic: http://www.disneylandparis.com

Feel free to leave a comment or two about any interesting details… or funny mistakes! #1: The Star Tours page uses a photo from CyberSpace Mountain, complete with over-the-shoulder restraints!

Thursday, 19th October 2006

Diving deeper into the lost Mermaid attraction

The Little Mermaid attraction would have utilised a ride system very similar to Peter Pan’s Flight, except rather than flying pirate ships, guests would have travelled in large “clamobiles”, programmed to give the sensation they were being pushed and guided by currents, rather than flight.

The most talked-about feature of the attraction, though, has always been the “dry for wet” technology featured on each clamobile to simulate the clam’s dive underwater. The attraction was to have started off on dry land, at Prince Eric’s castle, and then after a few initial scenes, as Sebastien sings the lyrics from “Under the Sea”, your vehicle would have dived downwards to a lower-level show scene. As this happened, water would have flooded between two panes of glass in your clamobile to simulate the dive. Then, just before the “Kiss the Girl” scene, your clam bobs back up to the surface and floats along, with the water draining from the glass at the same time.

And now, something many Disneyland Resort Paris fans waited countless years to see – extensive concept art from this lost attraction. For the full experience with Imagineer commentary, you should buy the DVD, but in most cases these astonishing concepts speak for themselves…

Thanks again to Kristof for these screencaps!

The first image is actually one of the most interesting, showing an exterior design that never made it past rough sketches, and appearing to resemble some kind of Dumbo-style ride. The later exterior design of Prince Eric’s castle, seen as a concept model in numerous images above, shows how perfectly this undersea attraction would have mixed with Fantasia Gelati and Pizzeria Bella Notte nearby.

Although this attraction is likely lost forever, not least because of the current slew of Nemo attractions filling the void for an “undersea” theme, we can at last – after 15 years – enjoy this full sneak peek and hope that perhaps a couple of the still yet-to-be-realised ideas seen here will be featured in some way at Crush’s Coaster in June 2007.

This is the 100th post on DLRP Today!

Wednesday, 18th October 2006

The long-lost Undersea Adventure

Usually, unless you’re still a toddler, the “Games & Activities” section of Disney DVDs is the weakest of them all, but this time Disney have tried something completely different. They’ve taken the “Virtual Safari” idea from The Lion King’s DVDs and transferred the concept to a real Disney theme park attraction… almost. See, the attraction featured never actually made it off the drawing board, which makes this all the more interesting. Better still, this attraction was supposed to originally find its home in Paris, before then being transferred to other resorts if successful. Alas, like Discovery Mountain, the Indiana Jones Jungle Adventure, Splash Mountain, Toon Town and the Beauty and the Beast animatronic show, this expensive attraction was cancelled as soon as Euro Disney hit financial trouble.

Before this Autumn, the closest look we’ve had at the atraction was a quick glance at concept models during the Euro Disney Grand Opening TV special, the “F-File” articles at DLP.info or the attraction’s showbuilding on Euro Disneyland’s grand opening map (seen above). Luckily, then, Disney have dug through the archives to put together one of their most eagerly anticipated DVD extras – a full, CGI ride-through of “the attraction that never was”, running 4 minutes 15 seconds. But that’s not all – the DVD also includes the option to exprience the ride-through in a split-screen version, with an Imagineer (no less than Euro Disney legend Tony Baxter himself) riding alongside, describing details and showing concept art. Finally, a featurette running 5 minutes 53 seconds features Imagineer interviews and discussion about the attraction.

UltimateDisney.com, the online bible for Disney DVDs, described the features in their review of the DVD:

In design, the ride is not all that different from the very popular Peter Pan’s Flight. It feels very much like a real Disney park ride (complete with English and Spanish announcements after departing the queue area), though there are a few obvious differences: you don’t get to pick what you look at, but it moves slow enough to allow you to appreciate every detail (something that’s definitely not true of most of the brisk Fantasyland attractions). Also, there is no FastPass, but amazingly enough, there is no line whatsoever.
The commentary — another neat, unique touch — is provided by Tony Baxter, senior vice president at Disney Imagineering, who explains the thought that goes into designing a ride like this, from different effects to making sure that guests’ eyes are able to adjust to the dark setting. Concluding this sub-section is “Behind The Ride That Almost Was with Disney Imagineers” (5:53), a featurette which puts it all into context. Here, lots of informed interview subjects explain traits of the ride (which was put on hold in 1992) including the little touches that normally don’t get appreciated after your vehicle comes to a stop.

The “Platinum Edition” DVD will be released in the UK on the 4th November, Netherlands on 18th October and Germany on 2nd November, but is already available in France and the US, where it sold a staggering 4 million copies in its first week.

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