Tuesday, 4th December 2007

Letters complete retro look for ‘Stitch Live!’

From having one incredibly weak attraction dedicated to the television side of Disney entertainment, Walt Disney Studios Park will very soon have two incredibly strong attractions based around the medium, both with their own retro style.

Whilst the Tower of Terror sees guests entering Hollywood in the 1950s to film an episode of The Twilight Zone in an abandoned 1930s hotel — an episode which will never make it to air, ‘Stitch Live!‘ across the courtyard appears to be taking on a far more kitschy, geometric style than the boulevard. The kind of style which took over in the late 1950s and 1960s, that the original Disneyland was very much a part of.

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The letters spelling out “Stitch Live!” arrived this past weekend, ‘Stitch’ in red with a blue outline and “Live!” simply in bold blue, caught on camera here by the Characters Photos Blog as the alien himself passed by. Whilst ‘Stitch’ uses the typeface familiar from the film, as guessed from the white outline seen earlier, the typeface for “Live!” surprises with a continuation of the kitsch red/black surround, rather than the modern and almost Diet Coke-esque style seen in the promotional logo.

Disney-MGM Studios’ 50s Prime Time Café and Sci-Fi Dine In Theater could be seen as close Imagineering relations of this new creation for Walt Disney Studios Park. What remains to be seen here, however, is whether the retro styles will be continued inside the attraction — this would be the perfect place for an homage to Walt Disney’s overlooked work in television during the era, after all. Unfortunately, the modern Disney Channel logo on the signage would point to the flogging of Hannah Montana than the celebrating of television history.

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Disneytheque.com provides photos capturing the entire complex, including its recent satellite dish addition. Another add-on has also now appeared under the signage itself — thin, horizontal metal casing, with best guesses pointing to this being an illuminated show times display.

However, Disneytheque also guesses that the removal of a tree in front of the attraction could point to a stand-alone show times board, as depicted in the original concept art.

— Photos by Characters Photos Blog and Disneytheque.com

Tuesday, 4th December 2007

Pin Trading December 2007 releases

This month sees the conclusion of Stitch’s Walt Disney Studios invasion, with #12 celebrating Cars Quatre Roues Rallye and #13, very cleverly, depicting The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

Elsewhere on the Tower of Terror front, two open edition pins released next weekend are particularly worth looking out for — the first styled like a key for a room in The Hollywood Tower Hotel, the second — the attraction’s main pin — making use of an elevation drawing from the Tower’s original building plans. Both pins are available only from the Tower Hotel Gifts boutique at the exit of the attraction, which will therefore be ready and waiting for Annual Passport Dream holders after they’ve experienced the attraction itself!

Saturday, 1st December 2007

Jessica Bubble Fun pin
Reference number 209401008005
Price 6.00 Euros

Saturday, 8th December 2007

Minnie 2008 pin
Reference number 209401007140
Price 6.00 Euros

Tower of Terror Key pin — *PIN DELAYED* — Release Date TBA
Only available from Tower Hotel Gifts
Reference number 209401008000
Price 6.00 Euros

Cars Piston Cup pin — *PIN DELAYED* — Release Date TBA
Reference number 209401008008
Price 8.90 Euros

Tower of Terror pin — *PIN DELAYED* — Release Date TBA
Only available from Tower Hotel Gifts
Reference number 209401008012
Price 6.00 Euros

Stitch WDS Invasion 12: Cars Quatre Roues Rallye pin LE
Reference number 209501007055
Limited Edition 900 ex.
Price 10.50 Euros

Saturday, 15th December 2007

Once a Upon a Dream Parade 9 pin LE
Reference number 209501007019
Limited Edition 900 ex.
Price 10.90 Euros

Mickey Minnie Winter Season 07 pin LE
Reference number 209501008007
Limited Edition 900 ex.
Price 10.50 Euros

Friday, 21st December 2007

Pin Trading Night
at Disney’s Sequoia Lodge
from 6.00pm to 9.00pm

Saturday, 22nd December 2007

Dro’Pin Event – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Evening pin event at Walt Disney Studios Park, extra ticket required (SOLD OUT)
from 8.30pm onwards

Pre-release pins to be sold during the event:

Merry Christmas LE Plus pin

15th Anniversary Christmas 5-pin set

Happy New Year 2008 LE pin

Mickey Gang Tower of Terror Mirror LE pin

Stitch WDS Invasion #13: Tower of Terror LE pin

15th Anniversary Retrospective display card

Stitch WDS Invasion display card

Sunday 23rd December 2007

Remaining stock of pre-released pins sold:

Merry Christmas LE Plus pin
Reference number 209501008005
Limited Edition 900 ex.
Price 14.90 Euros

15 Anniversary Christmas LE 5-pin set
Reference number 209501008006
Limited Edition 400 ex.
Price 45.00 Euros

Happy New Year 2008 LE pin
Reference number 209501008048
Limited Edition 900 ex.
Price 10.50 Euros

Mickey Gang Tower of Terror Mirror LE pin
Reference number 209501007059
Limited Edition 900 ex.
Price 10.50 Euros

Stitch WDS Invasion #13: Tower of Terror LE pin
Reference number 209501007058
Limited Edition 900 ex.
Price 10.50 Euros

15th Anniversary Retrospective display card LE
Reference number 209411007009
Limited Edition 500 ex.
Price 4.90 Euros

Stitch WDS Invasion display card LE
Reference number 209411007008
Limited Edition 500 ex.
Price 4.90 Euros

December releases

Friday, 30th November 2007

Hollywood Tower lobby: in Paris, in pictures!

Here it is! The lobby of The Hollywood Tower Hotel, untouched since 1939, reopening in the early 1950s. Covered with spider webs and dust, it reveals suitcases left at reception, newspapers dropped and toys left behind… the abandonment of this icon was very quick indeed…

Soak it all in — the details, the furnishings, the ambiance…

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…and don’t forget, this photo was taken at the heart of Walt Disney Studios, in Paris, just seconds from our old friends like CinéMagique and Art of Disney Animation. Breathtaking, don’t you think?

Wall carvings, rugs, dead plants, statues, old chairs, the reception desk, stained glass windows, wall lights, hanging roof lights, an ornate wooden ceiling and beautiful floor tiles combine to create the view that will soon be taking the breath of every guest to enter the new attraction. Even with the highest price tag of any single theme park attraction ever to open in the whole of Europe, that’s money well spent.

These official Disney photographs were clearly taken recently, on a bright Winter day, with light pouring into the lobby area and lighting up the cobwebs stretching across almost everything in sight, from beautiful desk lamps, period handbags and magazines (also left in the hurry to leave), to the iconic reception bell itself.

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The reception is lit by a diamon-shaped light hanging from above, decorated with orange and yellow stained glass and an intricately designed casing. Two lamps also sit on the desk itself — complete with ‘HTH’ lampshades. The pigeon holes behind are filled with letters and keys, whilst a hat and coat sit on reception, left behind on that fateful night.

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Some details have yet to be finished with an appropriate aging, and indeed even more spider webs should be present by the time this haunting hotel officially opens its doors once again.

Beyond the lobby, along the passageway to the right and behind reception, through the library rooms where the pre-show video introduces the story, guests encounter the boiler room — the location of the service elevator which takes you high into the Tower above.

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Upon the opening of this version of the attraction in California, the boiler room areas were highly praised for being arguably even more detailed than the lobby before — filled with tools, curios and left-over possessions from the workmen, to create a very informal and “lived-in” space, packed full of atmosphere and history.

The photos released from this area show an eclectic collection of clocks and dials (above left) and some of the rusted and oily dials on the boiler machinery itself (above right). What the photos don’t show is the spectacular show lighting, which we saw very briefly with the Filmparade TV special several weeks ago.

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A workman’s locker in one corner completes the story, with hanging overalls and a pair of shoes. Unwanted decorations from the hotel are stored above, whilst period bottles and cabinets fill every corner of the room, pushed up against the crumbling plaster of the walls (above right).

At Disney’s California Adventure park, the Imagineers proudly revealed how many props and accessories — such as stopwatches — hinted directly to specific episodes of The Twilight Zone TV series. Whilst the new photos above might reveal many of the incredible details in the early portions of the Tower, no doubt many more are still to be found, the closer we get…

In related news: Look out for a brand new Tower of Terror section on DLRP Magic! soon, featuring everything from a tour of the hotel to videos, Imagineering secrets, histories, concept art and much more. Work is just beginning, so these photos couldn’t have come at a better time — thanks, DLRP!

— All photos © Disney.

Friday, 30th November 2007

Annual Passport previews announced with only days to go

Would you book an entire trip to Disneyland Resort Paris to enjoy the big new attraction, knowing that the dates you’ve chosen are based entirely on rumour, unpublished dates? Anyone who has already booked to take advantage of the special December previews of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror for Passeport Annuel Dream holders will have certainly done just that.

Because, with just 7 days (or 14 days, for the second round of previews) to go, the Annual Passport service has finally got round to that rather important task… sending out the invites. The first ones have now been received by French fans, which should leave only around one month to wait for anyone in another country. Regard, in all its splendour, the AP service’s constant belief that no-one — not a single fan — outside of Ile-de-France owns an Annual Passport Dream, and may not have to plan a visit in advance.

The invite for “La Tour de la Terreur: Un Saut dans la Quatrième Dimension”:

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Sarcasm aside, those who have already taken a chance on rumours and booked or can do so within the next 7 to 14 days will be able to enjoy some generously lengthy preview slots — the people deciding those, at least, know that the Tower of Terror is a really big deal…

Saturday 8th December — 10.00am to 6.00pm

Sunday 9th December — 10.00am to 7.00pm

Saturday 15th December — 11.00am to 3.00pm

Sunday 16th December — 12.00pm to 7.00pm

Annual Passport Dream holders need only turn up at Walt Disney Studios Park on those dates and show their pass at the attraction entrance to enjoy the ride. Each holder can invite one friend (with a valid park entrance ticket) to join them on the new attraction.

Previews for Shareholders are currently rumoured for January, with the official public opening now sure to be 22nd December 2007, following neatly the weekend after the second of these AP Dream preview weekends.

The preview times have also been added to the DLRP Magic! Calendar schedules for these days >>

— With thanks to Scrooge on Disney Magic Interactive forum for the invite scan.

Friday, 30th November 2007

Walls down, Tower of Terror gardens revealed

Time is ticking away quickly now to the opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror… in fact, judging by what lies beyond those immortal yellow fences, time has been ticking away for this abandoned Hollywood hotel for quite some time. Yesterday, 29th November 2007, the first section of construction walls were finally removed after almost three years of service!

Scrooge, moderator of Disney Magic Interactive forum, has shared the first photos, with the Tower shrouded in a spectacular covering Winter mist 183 feet up…

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Guests inside Walt Disney Studios Park now have a direct view across the hotel’s East gardens to the building itself, with no obstructions. The gardens are large and lushious, far larger and arguably giving much more impact than those around the Tower’s Californian cousin.

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Prior to construction of the Tower, fans might remember most of this area as a small grass lawn — the entirety now turned to brown dirt/bark and filled completely with coniferous trees, small bushes and thorny, spiny evergreens.

Very noticeable absentees here are palm trees — in California, the Tower is flanked by a row of giant, towering palms which spread an air of exoticism across its square frontage. Not so in Paris, at least not yet — the climate is hardly suited to such large palms in Summer, let alone the middle of Winter. So far, the option of fake trees like those spectacularly realistic-looking ones lining Hollywood Boulevard has also not been taken.

However, this side of the hotel is not entirely devoid of palm trees — as DynastyGo on Disney Central Plaza forum picked up on camera, some far smaller varieties can be found hidden within the area, forming a circle around some forgotten stone garden furniture…

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Running from right to left within the gardens here is a path toward the Tower Hotel Gifts boutique and the Toilets of Terror, currently closed by barriers and walls at either end. The queue line is then even further within, having its very own overgrown gardens, surrounded by a beautiful metal fence taken over with shrubs and odd trees with split branches, as if hit by lightning…!

One surprise here is a small circular patio hidden in the middle of the gardens next to the path, a new place to relax on a bench amongst lush green surroundings, whilst those braver enjoy a highly themed E-ticket… yes, this is still Walt Disney Studios, honestly! The gardens around the patio are filled with old ornaments, statues and stone fountains, which have all seen better days. Identical curios can be seen scattered in slightly different positions through the much smaller gardens in California.

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Notice also the blue awnings on the windows of Tower Hotel Gifts, and the newly-aged Toilets of Terror, now with additional turquoise details and rusty dirt to match the Tower.

No confirmed date is known for the removal of the remaining fences, either around only the Tower or even the whole Hollywood area. Most, if not all, will obviously be down by the 22nd, and it could be wise to assume they could be gone as early as the first Annual Passport previews in just over a week…

— Photos by Scrooge on Disney Magic Interactive forum and DynastyGo on Disney Central Plaza forum

Thursday, 29th November 2007

Back to the ’50s for new Stitch Live! entrance

First a new satellite dish atop its mast and later the removal of the old, circular Disney Channel sign — changes to the exterior of Walt Disney Television Studios are coming surprisingly early for the March 2008 opening of Stitch Live.

Today, the most major change began to take place — the installation of a brand new entrance sign for the interactive CGI show. Not exactly a small or discreet piece of signage either, as the previous design, but a loud and colourful cartoon burst with an illustrated Stitch waving from his space station, remarkably similar to the design seen in the original concept art.

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Studios’ fourth new attraction sign in one year! — Guigui, DCP

It may certainly be that, upon first look, the sign is a complete surprise. Neither refined like Art of Disney Animation nor glitzy and traditional as CinéMagique, closer inspection actually reveals the Imagineers have taken more than a few hints from the kitsch, happy, consumerist styles of the 1950s.

The red burst has a ’roundness’ as if right out of a cheap ’50s cartoon show, the illustration of Stitch rounded and colour shaded like the most classic advertisements of the time, and the black oval with small white stars inspired by many a ’50s neon diner sign.

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Classic 1950s advertisements — Plan59.com

The only detail which breaks the surprisingly specific timestamp of the sign is the addition of a small, modern Disney Channel logo in the bottom-left of the Stitch illustration, as planned from the first concept. Clearly, the Disney Channel still wants to keep its branding here — and, with any luck, they’ll continue to use that same logo for a long time to come.

The lettering has yet to be installed, but from the white outline it’s clear to see that ‘Stitch’ will use the same font as the original logo of ‘Lilo & Stitch’, whilst ‘Live’ is a much bolder, blockier style — perhaps similar to the bold text of an “On Air” light? Note also the addition of an exclamation mark, missing in resort publications, but now making the official in-park title “Stitch Live!”.

The 1940s/50s style might be familiar to fans, either from the Coca-Cola advertisements near Café des Cascadeurs or larger details such as the “Treat yourself like a star!” Hertz billboard inside Disney Studio 1

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Similar styled billboard in Disney Studio 1

It’s particularly interesting here, however, because the original concept, though similar, called for a far more modern design of colours and protruding, square neons.

Positioned as it is at the heart of what is strongly rumoured to become a ‘Theater District’ expansion of the current Hollywood Boulevard placemaking, a place where film and television technologies are put on show, clearly the design has been taken back in time… to prepare for future plans.

— Images by Guigui, Plan59.com and dlrptoday.co.uk

Thursday, 29th November 2007

Celebration or Discovery? Tickets get new names… and prices

Since April of this year and the start of the 15th Anniversary festivities, the resort has been using two generous online special offers to help boost general ticket sales for the two parks — 15% off on the shortest ticket and extra days on the longer park hoppers. The latest official brochure now introduces new names for the two ticket offers, the first new ticket naming (for guests outside of France) since the opening of Walt Disney Studios Park.

The special offer tickets are now officially named “Discovery” and “Celebration“, making the offers easier to market and no doubt a little more attractive to guests than the offers which previously seemed a little unplanned.

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The “Discovery ticket” offer, giving 15% off a 1-Day/2-Parks hopper ticket, is now advertised as “Ideal for enjoying some of the treats of our celebration, while visiting Paris”. Meanwhile, the top-class “Celebration ticket” offer, giving a whole extra day on your ticket for 3 and 4 day tickets (therefore becoming 4 and 5 day tickets respectively), is promoted as “Ideal if you want to fully enjoy the celebration in two Disney Parks!”. You can find out more about the offers on the official website.

Following the annual report earlier this month, it’s a new financial year for the resort and so time for the ticket prices to be updated for 2008. As has become tradition, prices have generally changed by only a Euro or two, the highest increases for Child 2-Day and 3-Day hoppers.

2008 Ticket Price Changes (Adult/Child)

1-Day/1-Park — 2007 : €46 / €38 — 2008 : €47 / €39 — (+€1/+€1)

1-Day Park Hopper — 2007 : €56 / €48 — 2008 : €57 / €49 — (+€1/+€1)

2-Day Park Hopper — 2007 : €103 / €84 — 2008 : €105 / €89 — (+€2/+€5)

3-Day Park Hopper — 2007 : €128 / €105 — 2008 : €131 / €111 — (+€3/+€6)

Special offer tickets for UK advanced sale:

“Discovery” 1-Day Park Hopper — Until 4/04/08 : £33 / £29 — Then : £35 / £31 — (+£2/+£2)

“Celebration” 4-Day Park Hopper — Until 4/04/08 : £89 / £76 — Then : £93 / £79 — (+£4/+£3)

“Celebration” 5-Day Park Hopper — Until 4/04/08 : £104 / £88 — Then : £109 / £93 — (+£5/+£5)

Remarkably, and quite unbelievably, prices for the full range of Annual Passports remain the same, now several years on from their last price increase!

— Head over to the official Disneyland Resort Paris website for full ticket details and sales.

Tuesday, 27th November 2007

Extra Magic Hours abandon late nights

Amongst the decorations, the refurbishments, the new parade and the Characters’ Express, it’s easy to overlook one addition for the 15th Anniversary which has changed a visit to Disneyland Park just as much — Extra Magic Hours, the extra time allowed in the park primarily for Disney Hotel guests since 1st April 2007.


First Extra Magic Hours guide

The 2006 trials saw generous extra hours to enjoy the park under darkness after regular opening hours, whilst the first months of the 2007 season gave guests a scattering of evening dates almost equal to the number of morning dates giving two additional hours before park opening.

However, as noted by many fans in recent months, whilst the overall number of Extra Magic Hours has been increasing, the number of evening Extra Magic Hours has been steadily declining. Now, Disneyland Resort Paris has updated the texts on its website and in brochures to state not that the offer gives simply “two extra hours” but “two hours before regular park opening”. Evening Extra Magic Hours are officially no more!

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Excerpt from new Winter/Summer 2007/08 brochure

Getting out of bed two hours earlier doesn’t quite have the same magic as enjoying two extra hours in the park at night, so why the change? From the operational side of things, there’s quite simply not a single argument in favour of the evening hours.

Whilst morning hours require only a few additional cast members to check Dream passports and hotel EasyPass cards, evening hours required the coordination of a huge guest flow operation to hand out coloured wristbands each afternoon. Cleaning and maintenance crews had to extend their day and put off their work by two hours. Guests not staying at a Disney Hotel could easily stay in the park longer than allowed, whilst — although this probably wasn’t a factor — with morning hours they’d be forced to stand in line and watch as those paying extra for the hotels breezed straight into the park.

In short, it just makes much more sense to open the park earlier rather keep it open later, and the amount of Extra Magic Hours has benefited as a result — the latest dates for January, February, March and April 2008 now see Extra Magic Hours on almost every single day of the month.

— Check the latest Extra Magic Hours on the new DLRP Magic! Calendar >>

Sunday, 25th November 2007

Terror with a view – premiere on-ride video

Now, DLRP Today usually tries to keep up the illusion, stay away from spoilers, … But when you spy a video which not only reveals the long-awaited first-hearing of The Hollywood Tower Hotel’s French narration but a truly spectacular nighttime view over the resort from the top of said hotel… Well, who can resist that?

Can you?

Leave this page now if you don’t want to take an early drop into The Twilight Zone…!

Just released to the world less than 2 hours ago via video website Dailymotion, the video is labeled as “Tower of Terror Avant-Premiere”. The resort generally tries to stop video capture or picture taking during its Cast Member and various other attraction previews, but, in this new video sharing world, one inevitably slipped through the net – from the Imagineer family preview this weekend. It reveals enough to seriously excite, but not nearly enough to spoil the massive, immersive experience of an entire, real ride on the attraction, starting as it does just as the elevator “pushes away” and ending during the final drop.

The French commentary follows exactly that of the original English version with no room given for improvisation. “Your destination… unknown” becomes simply “Votre destination… inconnue”. Impressively, even this relatively low-quality still camera video picks up the sublime show lighting throughout the Tower’s scenes, along with one other major feature…

That view!! What can you say? If the Paris Tower wins in one field, it’s having the most spectacular, jaw-dropping Twilight Zone panorama of them all.

Your thoughts…?

— Video by Mustaleski on dailymotion.

Sunday, 25th November 2007

Half Board goes premium

The first announcement comes in the new UK brochure for Winter/Summer 2007/08, which adds to Half Board Standard and Half Board Plus with Half Board Premium. Whilst the system was originally introduced to provide guests with a more affordable way to experience more than the plain burgers and plastic salads of the resort’s counter service restaurants, the new tier now gives complete freedom at all the top-class restaurants, for a… premium.

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Plan details and pricing in GBP£

Next to the affordable £13 per night for Half Board Standard and just £17 for the extended Half Board Plus (including restaurants up to the level of Walt’s), the new Premium offering comes in at a heavy £31 per adult per night.

However, with these vouchers valid in all table service and buffet restaurants, not to mention for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show (saving around £3 for adults or an amazing £16 for children) and character meals, they could prove a bargain for some. Child prices at a standard £10 per night are certainly reasonable. Clearly, though, you would have to be eating at a top-class eatery every night of your stay to make the most of the £31.

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Full-page for “where you can eat”

For the first time, the brochure actually includes a full listing of the restaurants allowed for each level of the Half Board Meal Plans system. Note the first inclusion of Agrabah Café Restaurant (and the strange double-wording in the official title there) in an official publication.

The “magic” of Half Board is that whilst guests mostly do get a very good deal on their meals, buying into one of the meal plans with their booking guarantees the resort that those guests will be eating — and paying for — table service-level restaurants each night of their stay. Many visitors might otherwise have saved a table service meal for just one “special” night of their trip.

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