Thursday, 21st June 2007

‘Stitch Interactive’? Your opinion counts…

We mentioned in the last update on Stitch Encounter that the original name of the Hong Kong import was beginning to be lost in the various press releases and previews given so far, reverting to a temporary “Stitch interactive attraction” tagline, with even the Walt Disney Television Studios name still conserved on the latest park maps.

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With the launch of this new online survey, though, ‘Stitch Encounter‘ appears to be out of the picture entirely, in favour of three brand new name ideas:

– Stitch Interactive
The entire basis of the attraction is the ability to interact in real-time with Stitch, so this name would certainly give first-timers an idea of the attraction’s aim.
– Stitch Live
On the other hand, with the TV-studio theme, this one could be a good way to put across the story of the live satellite link-up to outer space with one snappy four-letter word.
– Stitch
Short and simple – just the little blue alien’s name. This is what most of us will call it in conversation when it opens anyway, but is it too non-descript for an official title?

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The survey opens in a pop-up window, and first asks the visitor what country they’re from, whether they’ve visited Disneyland Resort Paris before and if they have any children, which age groups they fall into.

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Next, you’re introduced to the attraction concept:

“A totally new amazing and interactive attraction for the whole family will open at Disneyland Resort Paris. The Disney Character, Sttich, from the popular film Lilo & Stitch, will play, joke and will even have a conversation with you. This is a first-of-its-kind, real-time animated interaction.

“We have several ideas for the name of this attraction and we should like to have your opinion.”

Each of the three names appears on separate pages, and you’re asked to vote between 1 (do not like it at all) and 10 (like it very much) as to how much you’d like it to become the final name.

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Finally, you’re asked “And if you had to choose only one name for this new attraction, which do you prefer?”, with the options of the three names or, if you’re thoroughly not impressed with their choices – “none of them”.

The survey originally opened last week, before it was promptly closed a few days later with the message “This survey has already closed, thank you for your interest.” However, today the survey is once again open for votes, so if you missed it just before the weekend – you’ve still got time to have your say!

Click here to vote on the official UK website »

Click here to vote on the official French website »

(Click the blue box seen above in the sidebar, featuring Stitch)

This isn’t the first time Disneyland Resort Paris has asked for feedback on the naming of a new attraction. In March-2005, they infamously launched a survey which provided four brand new names for the project then already known as Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast. Those names were, in no particular order: Buzz Lightyear’s Cosmic Adventure, Buzz Lightyear’s Cosmic Blast, Buzz Lightyear’s Intergalactic Adventure, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Adventure.

Needless to say, the names were met with immediate disappointment from fans who much prefered the existing “Laser Blast” name. This survey luckily provided an extra comments box, allowing fans to register their thoughts with more depth and suggest once again the “Laser Blast” title. Although “Space Adventure” was apparently the chosen title, and used on the very first press release for the attraction, the name was suddenly changed just a few months later to… Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.

So, your opinion really can count with this new attraction! The chance to help name a new attraction doesn’t come very often, but what do you think to those names? Let us know in the comments below which you chose, and also – if you’ve got any bright ideas – what other names you could have come up with. You never know what they’ll choose…

Screencaps from © Disney website.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Animated Publicity

The set of photos released for the opening of Toon Studio is fairly small compared to the set featuring VIPs and celebrities against backdrops within the land, but the quality and amount of locations featured is far better than the frankly quite disappointing publicty photos of the 15th Anniversary launch.

Overall, the resort’s audio-visual teams have captured rather well the quirky style and impressive new attractions of the area… but what do you think?

Here is the full set of publicity photos, be sure to click on them to see the photos full-size!

General Toon Studio

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A new angle on the Sorcerer Mickey marquee captures the Peter Pan characters behind,
an incredibly colourful view of the Toon Town gate area with its twisted lamposts.

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‘Now in Producion’ sign next to Crush’s Coaster

Cars Quatre Roues Rallye

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Welcome to Radiator Springs sign, the famous Cars logo, framed by trees.

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The lovely blues and yellows (with a hint of red) of the Quatre Roues Rallye entrance,
the interior themeing, focusing on the amazing detail of Lizzie’s curios display.

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A sunny angle on Luigi’s Casa Della Tires (notice the fabric canopy was finally added,
just in time), and a low-down view of the canyon area.

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Views in the canyon. Notice the Sorcerer Mickey marquee included in the background,
along with – in the first photo – the Disney Cinema Parade passing by. This looks
like a favourite angle already to capture Cars from, with the iconic Studio 1 looming behind.

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One of the excellent on-ride captures from the special camera seen being installed
on the front of this vehicle here.

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Two brand new publicity shots only just added to the collection today.

Some official video footage of Cars has also been released, via the Disneyland15.com blog:

Crush’s Coaster

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The rusted and sea-sprayed entrance sign, a busy crowd shot showing the Crush area, but
not very many guests who look impressed.

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Two views of the turtle shells departing the big blue of Studio 5 – which one wins?

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The very first official photos from inside the attraction, we’ll probably see these used frequently,
as they show very well the colourful underwater sets and good lighting.

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An “in-production” shot of Crush undergoing final work from above the track, a final shot
positioning Crush against a big blue backdrop of Studio 5.

So, what do you think? A good selection of photographs and footage to advertise Toon Studio, or could they have done better? Whilst this set of official publicity shots has only just been released, we’ll likely be seeing them for years to come, especially as Walt Disney Studios Park continues to grow in visitors…

All photos © Disney.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Under the spell of darkness

Whilst the extended opening hours of the park to 7pm have given guests more time at the Studios, they still don’t go far enough to allow regular visitors to see the park at what almost everyone agrees is its very best – fully illuminated at night. From the flashing neons of CinéMagique‘s grand entrance to the flames of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster‘s entrance and the searchlights of Disney Studio 1, Walt Disney Studios is more than a match for anything at Disneyland Park once darkness falls.

And the new Toon Studio developments? They look just as good…

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Toon Studio entrance / Sorcerer Mickey statue

A hidden detail we’ve never spotted before suddenly comes to life on the wand of Mickey Mouse – the star-shaped tip glows and shimmerings in a blue fibre optic effect. The “marquee” itself is also very subtely and lovingly illuminated, with lights positioned inside the several circular bases shining upwards.

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Sorcerer Mickey marquee / Crush’s Coaster entrance

Notice the purple lighting effects in Animagique in the background, and the rainbow colours of the Flying Carpets Over Agrabah backdrop, appearing to glow from behind when illuminated. The marquee of Crush’s Coaster is illuminated similar to Sorcerer Mickey, with low lighting on the signage itself and a single spotlight on his character figure. Through the lush beach planting behind, notice the well-chosen hanging lamps and even spotlights positioned throughout the sandy planters, illuminating the greenery.

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Colours of the Toon Town gate / Toon Studio from Flying Carpets lookout

Over at the Toon Town gate, the lighting department of Toon Studio have done an equally fantastic job, illuminating all of the multi-coloured buildings and even several parts of the Toon Town hills. Notice that the “Toon Town” lettering is fully illuminated for a very professional effect, and entire forced perspective design of this “street” seems much more convincing. The icing on the Toons’ cake would have been a few lights inside the security booth…

From the newly-reopened viewing platform by Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, the land’s countless lighting touches can be seen glowing in the distance. There aren’t actually any blazing spotlights here at all – just subtle lighting such as the many customised neons of Cars Quatre Roues Rallye – it’s green tower and red glowing logo standing out in particular.

When or if the Studios ever welcomes enough visitors and extra attractions to warrant a late-night opening, the Imagineers have prepared Toon Studio – and the entire park – with more than enough beautiful sights to keep them there until the gates close.

» You can see an excellent video giving a walk around the nighttime illuminated Toon Studio over at our partner site magicblog, along with several extra photographs. Click here.

All photos by Photos Magiques.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Ratatouille characters preview

It’s a rare and special event in the world of Disney parks, when a brand new pair of characters joins the meet ‘n’ greet schedule for the release of a new Walt Disney animated feature. The last time we saw such an event was way back in late 2005 with the release of Disney’s own Chicken Little. All cogs in the great synergy and marketing machine of The Walt Disney Company, for sure, but nobody is going to turn down the chance to meet a new Disney star, especially a Pixar creation – even when they’re rats!

First, meet Rémy. He’s the star of Ratatouille, the budding chef who isn’t content with eating garbage like his sewer system family. He has dreams and aspirations… and, after being caught by a untalented kitchen hand Linguini, cooking up a soup which goes on to be served to a delighted food critic, he must share his knowledge to create the greatest chef in all of Paris – without anyone even knowing of his work.

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Rémy / Emile in their Pixar CG designs

The second character to be taken from CGI to reality is Emile, Rémy’s best friend and familiar from the film’s teaser trailers as the tubby brown rat who doesn’t particularly care what he eats, so long as it fills him up. No doubt when the film is released (initial US release due 29th June), we’ll find out even more about these two new furry faces.

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Rémy & Emile debut at the inauguration ceremony / Fun and games at the Toon Town gate

Since opening in 2002, all of the new Disney characters have immediately arrived in Walt Disney Studios Park, from Monsters Inc and Treasure Planet to Narnia and Chicken Little. Rémy and Emile were given their first step into the spotlight during the inauguration ceremony earlier during the press event, before arriving on-stage at the Toon Town gate later, and fighting between themselves for the waiting cameras.

The plaza around the Toon Town gate of course features two dedicated photo locations for character meets, but guests attending the press event who’d already visited the park would have been surprised to see two brand new backdrops installed just for this event. Mickey’s Toon Town House, on the right of the gate, was replaced by a Toon Studio production stage setting, whilst especially for the arrival of Rémy and Emile, The Incredibles’ rather plain logo backdrop was replaced with a stunning view over Pixar’s glowing CGI recreation of Paris.

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Emile poses in front of Pixar’s grand Paris backdrop / Up-close with Rémy, in perfect rat pose

The following day, however, guests would need to jump on the RER for 40 minutes to experience a view like this. Both backdrops had been reverted to their original designs, with no sight of Rémy or Emile making appearances, despite the heavy Ratatouille advertising introduced around the park. If you like the look of this rodent pair, however, don’t be too worried – the film isn’t due out in France for over a month, so it’s likely Rémy and Emile will be fully introduced at the next meet ‘n’ greet schedule shake-up in a couple of weeks.

The quick change of the photo location backdrops is also exciting to see for regular guests, showing that these two locations will now become frequently updated as each new Disney film hits cinemas. Perhaps, if Walt Disney Studios ever joins its neighbour in full seasonal events, we’ll see even more special backdrops created in the future.

Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille is due for release on 1st August 2007 in France, the Netherlands and Belgium, 2nd August 2007 in Austria and 3rd August 2007 in Spain. Then, later in the year, 3rd October 2007 in Germany, 5th October 2007 in the UK and 19th October 2007 in Italy. This creates quite a spread of dates across the key markets of Disneyland Resort Paris – one which is mirrored almost in reverse by Disney’s recent CG hit ‘Meet the Robinsons’.

Already released in March to the UK and most European markets, the film won’t reach the Netherlands until 10th October 2007 and France and Belgium until as late as 17th October 2007. Three characters from this film – Lewis, Wilbur and Bowler Hat Guy are due to begin appearances at Walt Disney Studios Park in the Autumn, following a preview during the press conference of 1st April 2007. Luckily, this will then tie into the DVD release in the earlier markets.

All photos by Photos Magiques; Ratatouille character visuals © Disney-Pixar.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Evening entertainment, ‘famous’ faces

Ok, ok, in France they’re probably well-known, but this happens with every single press event at Disneyland Resort Paris. A new show premieres, a new season begins, a new attraction opens… and we’re treated to a huge gallery of publicity photos featuring countless vague ‘celebrities’ from across l’hexagone. Whether we know who they are or not, though, the photos from the Toon Studio Press Event of 16th June are actually some of the better VIP shots of recent years, especially compared to the dark and unexciting red carpet photoshoot of the 15th Anniversary launch.

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‘Unknown’ VIP guests enter Toon Studio

With a great backdrop of the temporary entrance gate, the Sorcerer Mickey marquee, a newly repainted Animagique and many smiling Cast Members, the stars entered Toon Studio via the long red carpet, which first led across a closer podium before that underneath the gate, giving a good depth to the shots. And although ‘unknown’ outside of France, the guests all appear to be well into the Disney spirit.

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More ‘unknown’ VIP guests enter Toon Studio

There are many more photos than those featured here, but all in the same style with the same backdrops and locations. Several photos made available to the press feature some VIP guests you might actually recognise the names of…

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Zinedine Zidane at Crush / with wife at Cars Race Rally

Surely everyone in Europe knows Zinedine Zidane, the famous footballer, now retired?

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Stade Français Rugby Team / Ricky Martin

You might even remember singer Ricky Martin… Or be familiar with the Stade Français rugby team, seen here lined up outside Crush’s Coaster with a trophy shield (hopefully this won’t become a popular accessory for DLRP visitors). These photos in particular, as you might notice, aren’t from the Press Event night at all – they were taken over the three weeks leading up to the event itself, and now bundled together with all the others for the launch.

In the end, we all know who the real stars are. Walt Disney is always quoted as saying they’re the “greatest asset we have” and to just “get them out there!”, and that’s exactly what they did during the entire evening of events at Toon Studio. Afterall, seeing a footballer or talent show star at Disneyland won’t make guests want to visit as much as the chance to meet one of these real, timeless famous faces will…

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Mary Poppins / real-life Mike Wazowski

The entertainment department catered for all tastes on the evening, from the not-strictly-Toon Mary Poppins (with Bert and ok-this-one’s-a-toon Penguin waiter) to a full-size, walking, real-life Mike Wazowski! Not since the release of Monsters Inc. around the opening of the park in 2002 has Mike been seen wandering the studio lots, but he made a special return for this event. Notice also that his life-size figure usually found at the Monsters Inc Scream Scene location was removed in preparation.

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From movie director to chef – Mickey Mouse can do it all!

Catering for all tastes, did we say? Well, if you didn’t like the Director Mickey of the inauguration ceremony, you could wait around a little and see him re-appear later as Chef Mickey! Director Mickey is also a very rare sight at the Studios. Despite being seen on many publicity photos for the park around 2002, Mickey usually decides to wear his more casual and brightly coloured movie star gear for photoshoots. Chef Mickey, on the other hand, is a recent introduction to character meet ‘n’ greets at Café Mickey in Disney Village.

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Chef Minnie / Chef Chip n Dale

Each of the Fab 5 received special chefs outfits for their appearances at the character dining restaurant, and with the launch of Ratatouille tying into the Toon Studio event, this was their way of welcoming the gourmet rats to the character family.

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Buzz Lightyear / Jafar

Aladdin, Jasmine and Jafar provided atmosphere around the new Flying Carpets oasis area, which now has its colourful lanterns illuminated each day after months of darkness. Events themed to the attractions on offer were particularly well thought-out at this event. With such a mix of themes and styles in one small area, it must have produced one hell of a brainstorm ideas session for the planning teams…

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The Radiator Springs Band

For Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, guests could enjoy the music of an authentic American country rock band, performing a variety of road hits and songs from the film itself as ‘The Radiator Springs Band’ in front of Willy’s Butte and Flo’s V8 Café. Notice also the attention to detail around the stage, including several extra props relating to the film and Route 66.

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Australian characters / Clownfish carpet

Crush’s Coaster was equally well served with themed entertainment and ideas. The EPC (entertainment department) created a couple of brand new “Australian” characters for the event, an outback explorer complete with cork hat and a beach surfer dude, complete with sunglasses and flip-flops. What’s that they’re standing on? It’s a Clownfish Carpet of course, a unique Nemo-themed spin on the classic red carpet, leading into the attraction!

The themed ideas continued on to the food, whilst the VIPs were treated to a special meal inside Studio 1’s Liki Tiki area, Animagique became a covered seating and buffet area for a more fun and informal double food option. For Cars, an authentic Texas barbeque along Route 66. For Crush’s Coaster… you’ve guessed it, a seafood barbecue. Didn’t they hear fish are friends, not food?

Photos both by Photos Magiques and © Disney.

Wednesday, 20th June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Inauguration Ceremony

As with all attraction openings, there are two press events. The smaller, low-key public opening ceremony (already featured here) and the far grander, more show-y official inauguration ceremony reserved for press and invited guests. The last ceremony we saw like this at Walt Disney Studios, though, was…. well, 2002 perhaps?

The tendancy of the past five years to push Walt Disney Studios aside in favour of Disneyland Park has well and truly ended. There’s a lot of proud people within those Studio gates these days…

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Guests enter via the open studio gates, a very rare sight!

Entering the second gate through its unique grand arch, guests were welcomed by the Ciné Classics band, as seen on regular occasions inside Disney Studio 1 and more recently even as a pre-show for CinéMagique. Notice that the 15th Anniversary banners from Disneyland Park’s entrance have now made their way to the Studios, as it finally joins the celebrations.

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Ciné Classics band entertain on Front Lot before High School Musical begins.

Following this musical welcome, a special performance of High School Musical On Tour was presented just outside the entrance of Disney Studio 1 (more on this here), as this new summer show was a key additional feature in all of the resort’s communication and press material for the event, along with Ratatouille.

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Red carpet leads through Disney Studio 1.

The red carpet began in Disney Studio 1, leading right up toward the exit doors and to the entrance of Toon Studio, where Disney fans amongst the invited guests were met with an exciting photo opportunity…

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5 Years on, Director Mickey finally gets behind a camera.

To the side of the temporary Toon Studio gate installed several days ago, Mickey Mouse sat high on a crane camera with a live director, and even moved from side to side as he “filmed” the action of the grand opening event for his new animation studio. The image of Mickey atop this camera crane might be familiar to anyone who followed the Studios’ grand opening, since a similar photo from Disney-MGM Studios Florida was frequently used as one of those deceptive preview shots – it only took five years for the real moment to arrive!

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Ciné Folies stars help to prepare the set.

If you take a look at the video featured later in this article, you’ll probably notice something a little different about Mickey’s voice. No, not that he’s speaking French (the first time in a while – all the 15th events unveiled in April feature an All-American Mickey), but that his voice was apparently performed live! Since he called the make-up artist, special effects crew to the stage and joined the ceremony at various other points from his elevated spot, letting Mickey pre-record his track and sync this with live events might have been a bit risky.

With Mickey behind the camera, we need someone else to step in and fill the role of glamorous host – who better than Minnie Mouse? She donned her glamorous white dress from the 2002 grand opening and waited on-stage for her cue as directors, technicians and make-up crew bustled around the “set”. You might recognise the actors in question from the daily Ciné Folies shows in Disney Studio 1 – some have been with the park for almost its entire five years, so it’s nice to see these talented performers rewarded with a cameo here.

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Pixar stars and a huge gathering of Cast Members pour out of the land.

As it is for these “performers” too! Usually Cast Members are relegated to regular operations during a grand opening event – keeping guests to one side, making sure the attraction is ready to open – but here the entire cast of Toon Studio was invited to join the precedings and clap their clapperboards for applause. The arrival of the several hundred Cast and countless famous Disney characters to the “Dreams” Peter Pan theme music was perhaps a little reminiscent of the Disneyland 50th Anniversary launch, starting out with only a few stars on stage before a huge crowd poured out of the land’s attractions.

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It’s Disney legends on one side…

You might notice something funny about the way those characters lined up either side of the red carpet… classic Disney stars on one side and new Pixar pals on the other, like a great face-off between the two animation teams! This was also the very first appearance of the Ratatouille main characters Rémy (grey) and Emile (brown) in Paris, arriving just days after their premiere at the US parks.

Notice also the stars on the temporary gate, with ‘Toon Studio’ written inside, which are very similar to the first ‘Toon Studios’ logo we saw way back in September 2005 at the special Videopolis fan event.

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…Pixar pals on the other!

Press photographers were situated on the tiered viewing platform for the ceremony, whilst the invited guests filled Disney Bros. Plaza and could watch the action on the large video screen installed the day earlier. With the smaller spaces of Walt Disney Studios and the Hollywood Boulevard construction taking up much of this area, they still managed to devise a layout that would ensure a picture-perfect view of the action. After all, these events are entirely for the cameras – not least when they’re at a film Studio!

The ceremonies are about to begin…

Tuesday, 19th June 2007

High School Musical On Tour arrives at the Studios

Originally confirmed by WDSFans.com back in January, the new streetmosphere show does indeed replace Starring Cruella De Vil and feature a unique travelling stage, replicating almost entirely the ‘High School Musical Pep Rally’ shows of Disney-MGM Studios and Disney’s California Adventure, as expected. Following a rehearsal day on Friday and five regular performances throughout the day on Saturday, the cast returned for a special inaugral launch presentation that evening, kicking off the Toon Studio Press Event as invited guests stepped onto Front Lot.

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The show uses an almost identical format to the successful US versions, featuring a cast of athletic basketball players and cheerleaders joined by five regular students in various different clothing styles. Whilst the cheerleaders provide dance and the Wildcats a unique variety of “sports choreography” with their basketballs, the students provide additional live vocals to a pre-recorded backing track. Rather than a ‘Pep Rally’ of support for the Wildcats team, however, the story in the Paris ‘On Tour’ version of the show is that the students of East High have travelled to France for a summer vacation of special musical performances.

Guest interaction is a key part of the performance, allowing guests to join the basketball games and dance routines. Surprisingly, for the normally quite reserved DLRP audience, the interaction has proved a success and flows far less awkwardly than most other shows (such as Starring Cruella De Vil) – Disneyland Resort Paris clearly made a good choice with the popular High School Musical franchise.

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Whilst the press were given a unique preview of the show on Front Lot (the first time a streetmosphere show has ever been performed here), the regular shows begin in Backlot – bringing regular streetmosphere back to this production zone for the first time since Rythmo Technico departed for Place des Stars in 2003. But, as the show comes to a conclusion with streamers (an item DLRP appear to have bought a lifetime’s supply of this year), guests will be surprised that the production then heads right towards them, travelling down Rue Georges Méliès past Armageddon for a second 11-minute performance in front of Tower of Terror, the previous performance space of Cruella.

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This unique 22-minute mix of two 11-minute shows is a first for Disneyland Resort Paris, but already it’s clear through guest reaction that the show can support a double performance – many guests follow the production and watch for an “encore” showing, whilst others can hope to get a better view of the action for its second performance. The “join” between the two shows is seamless, with the cast marching along the road to a continuing soundtrack of High School Musical themes.

Whether you’re a High School Musical fan or not, their “summer vacation” in Paris looks set to be a shining success. With Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye only just opened and returning favourites Lilo & Stitch Catch the Wave Party and Good Morning Walt Disney Studios adding even more to see, the Studios looks set to have a record Summer season.

» You can see a full gallery of ‘High School Musical On Tour’ photos here.

All photos by Photos Magiques.

Monday, 18th June 2007

Toon Studio: Ratatouille arrives, Press Event preparations

The first “buzz” of anticipation comes at the Place des Freres Lumieres on Front Lot, with the park’s attraction posters on either side of Disney Studio 1 now replaced complete by giant posters advertising this year’s original comedy from Pixar Animation Studios, Ratatouille. Following the Chicken Little and Cars “billboards” which have adorned the front wall of Disney Studio 1 upon their films’ release, this marks the third time Buena Vista International (Disney’s film distribution) have taken over Disney Studio 1 with advertising for an upcoming film.

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Rémy and Emile star in the posters for Pixar’s Ratatouille.

The Cars billboard in question is still very much in place, now likely seen by guests as a huge advertisement for Cars Race Rally rather than the year-old film itself. Not content with only space for two modest rotating posters, then, Buena Vista have now taken to the back wall of the soundstage, slotting a slightly more pleasant banner than the Cars billboard into the area above its entrance doors. Posters on the Toon Studio wall of Disney Studio 1, previously featuring The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, have now also been changed to Ratatouille, completing the wrap-around.

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Advertising now takes over the rear wall.

The film isn’t due for release in France until 1st August 2007, and as for the new faces of Rémy and Emile themselves, they didn’t appear until the press event itself began, after park closure. As guests enjoyed the park one week on from the opening of its first new attractions, preparations for the evening’s grand opening events couldn’t be missed:

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A huge temporary entrance gate for Toon Studio was constructed several days earlier beside the Sorcerer Mickey marquee, with a blue viewing platform directly opposite beside the Hollywood Boulevard construction walls, providing a picture-perfect view through the archway to Sorcerer Mickey and the land beyond. To the left of this platform – considerably smaller than that used for the 15th Anniversary launch – a large video screen was prepared for the event, showing 15th Anniversary and Tower of Terror trailers during the normal park hours.

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Next to the canyon of Cars Race Rally, lighting rigs and signage was in place ready for one of the evening’s star entertainment attractions – The Radiator Springs Band, an authentic American rock band who would later perform road classics and motoring hits from the film itself. Over at the attraction, filming equipment was fitted to the front of one red vehicle, allowing the resort’s own Audio-Visual teams to capture photos and video of guests and VIPs enjoying the attraction later.

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Toon Studio itself closed at 4pm to allow final preparations for the event to get well underway. This closure was announced every half hour across the park, whilst the closure of Disney Studio 1 at 5pm was noted on special signs at its entrance.

With “only” 700 invited press and VIPs for the Toon Studio Press Event, it was classed by Disneyland Resort Paris as only a “minor” launch, especially compared to the huge 1700-strong crowd invited to the main 15th Anniversary launch back at the end of March. With such a commitment to the event, however, and some truly fun and entertaining ideas (as we’ll see in following articles), this “minor” event gives great hope for what we might expect of a “major” attraction launch, such as a certain Tower in just over six months…

All photos by Photos Magiques.

Sunday, 17th June 2007

Toon Studio: Opening day

For some of the guests at the official opening, there might have been a sense of déjà vu about the whole event – just one week earlier, they’d rushed into the park to be amongst the first to preview Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally as Annual Passholders. The events were a big success, as shown by the long queues to enter the area (below), despite a Fastpass-style timeslot system being implimented to give each passholder a 2-hour slot in which to preview the rides.

Despite the queues, some technical problems at Crush late in the day and general overcrowding for refreshments at Salon Mickey and the mezzanine of Disney Studio 1, the Toon Studio Preview Event was a big success for all.

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(2nd June) Long queues for Annual Passholder previews.

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(2nd June) Imagineer Beth Clapperton interviewed for Disneyland15.com blog.

The same weekend also saw the first low-key invasion of the press, albeit Disney’s own. The Photos Magiques camera spotted Beth Clapperton, Imagineer for Crush’s Coaster and already seen in many behind-the-scenes glimpses at the attraction, giving an interview in front of the attraction itself. Look out for this on the official Disneyland15.com blog at some point.

One week later, with previews complete and everything finally neat and pretty, it was time for the grand opening. The general smaller scale of Walt Disney Studios might have given a slightly quieter impression than the anniversary launch events of April, just two months ago, but the crowds were just as eager. To a mix of music ranging from Disney’s animated movie scores to the Peter Pan “flying” theme and “Just Like We Dreamed It”, the ceremony commenced as Arnauld Gayet, one of the two 2007 Disneyland Resort Paris Ambassadors, climed onto a small podium next to the Sorcerer Mickey marquee.

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(9th June) Toon Studio grand opening ceremony.

With an impressive mix of French and English, Arnaud welcomed guests and introduced the special event, as the first Toon characters began to arrive behind him via the cadillacs of Good Morning Walt Disney Studios. Wendy Courquet, the second 2007 Ambassador, soon joined Arnaud from the empty Toon Studio behind, raving and exclaiming about each of the five attractions in the “new” land as Arnauld introduced them. Interestingly, despite the massive campaign on the esplanade, the ceremony served to inaugurate Toon Studio as en entire land, rather than to give special attention to its two brand new attractions.

With the introductions complete, several more characters welcomed (including The Incredibles) and the crowd appearing a little impatient, the guest of honour arrived to open his brand new studio – Mickey Mouse! It’s lucky that Hollywood glamour appears to never go out of style, since the dazzling white outfits worn by Mickey and Minnie might be recognised from the grand opening of the park itself, back in 2002. Mickey joined Wendy to cut the double ribbon of blue and gold, as Arnauld officially declared the new Toon Studio… “open!” with guests rushing to their chosen attraction.

The opening hasn’t been covered quite as heavily online as the huge 15th Anniversary opening events, but fans can always be relied on for capturing the magic as it happens. The following video is by Concombre2k7 on Dailymotion – ignore the apology for “poor quality”, this is just like being there:

Wait times for Crush and Cars remained impressive the entire day, with Cars Quatre Roues Rallye resting at around 50 minutes and Crush’s Coaster enjoying an everage queue of 1 hour 30 minutes, despite Cast Members warning guests the wait would be 3 hours from its entrance.

Across the park, attractions such as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Studio Tram Tour apparently rarely had wait times above 15 minutes. Kinoo on our partner website magicforum reported that total attendance at the Studios was 14,000 for the day, with around 5,000 guests heading straight towards the new attractions upon opening.

With a simple “tea cups” like Cars (albeit a brand new one) gaining a 50 minute wait that guests were reportedly quite happy to endure, the fall-out from Toon Studio will, it appears, be to now try and coax guests out of this immediately popular area and to the rest of the park.

Photos by Photos Magiques (2/06/2007) and Aaronline.nl (9/06/2007); Video by Concombre2k7.
With thanks to the opening reports from members on Disney Central Plaza and magicforum.

Sunday, 17th June 2007

Toon Studio: Countdown continues every day

For the first time ever, the entire esplanade and resort hub have been decorated with posters, banners and billboards advertising new attractions at one of the two Disney Parks – specifically, the two new attractions of Toon StudioCars Race Rally and Crush’s Coaster. The trail of dual advertisements leads all the way from the parking lot to the entrance of Walt Disney Studios Park, counting down the distance in metres to the location of these two new Pixar-based rides, from 870m at the Disneyland Hotel access bridge to just over 300m at the security checks.

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Billboards being installed early on 9th June 2007.

The visuals used are similar to the original “Key Visual” for each attraction, though now each has been edited to photoshop several real elements of each attraction into the picture. Crush’s Coaster therefore features real guests aboard one of the real turtle shell vehicles, and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye features the real 3D models of Lightning, Mater, Luigi and Guido with guests riding in one of the rea, spinning vehicles. It’s also interesting to note that the Crush’s Coaster poster is now darker than the original, and its countdown arrow is cleverly formed with a school of yellow fish.

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Billboards under the Disneyland Hotel access bridge.

The advertisements fill the start and end of each canopy over the moving walkways, along with the signs here previously pointing the way to each park and Disney Village. The large billboards under the Disneyland Hotel bridge feature large posters, lamposts around the hub hold banners and poster displays at Disney Village and even the RER station continue the push.

Upon reaching the resort hub and seeing the banners continue toward the security booths, even across the Vinci Parking fences and spaces usually reserved for Disney Village advertisements, the real idea behind this bold new campaign becomes clear. For over six months Disneyland Resort Paris has been using its key visuals showing Sleeping Beauty Castle and proclaiming the new attractions are located simply at “Disneyland Paris”. Now, as guests approach the two parks, these advertisements announce once and for all that the attractions are located at Walt Disney Studios Park, hopefully avoiding anyone enterting Disneyland Park and then asking where to find Crush…

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Banners on the resort hub appear to replace Lumière in several spots.

It’s a strong campaign, and a real morale boost for Walt Disney Studios. For the first time, could we be seeing a higher number of guests heading into the Studios rather than Disneyland Park on a morning? Is a balance is finally being approached? The second park really becoming a viable alternative to the original? It’s hard to think that guests heading past almost 50 advertisements for attractions based on such massive hit films as Cars and Finding Nemo won’t be tempted to change their plans and head to the second gate instead…

Photos by Kyoto on DMI and WDS Fans, 9-10/06/2007.

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