Tuesday, 25th September 2007

Stitch Encounter’s chosen name goes “live”

The online poll, which ran for several weeks in the middle of June this year, asked visitors to the official Disneyland Resort Paris website to decide on a final name for Stitch Encounter, a “living character” attraction already open at Hong Kong Disneyland. The original name of Stitch Encounter was never an option, however, no doubt cast aside due to language understanding and similaries to Stitch’s Great Escape at Walt Disney World (which, confusingly for some, replaced the attraction Alien Encounter).

The three nominees in its place were, in no particular order — ‘Stitch’, ‘Stitch Live’ or ‘Stitch Interactive’.

And we can reveal the winner is…. ‘Stitch Live‘!

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Visual from Hong Kong to be used for Paris promotions.

The announcement comes from the latest Thomas Cook UK holiday brochure for Disneyland Resort Paris, covering the Spring 2008 season, with thanks to The Butlin Boy on magicforum for confirmation. The name is written here simply as “Stitch Live”, with no extra punctuation such as “Stitch: Live” or “Stitch Live!”.

The attraction replaces the TV Production Tour at Walt Disney Television Studios, using the same queue and pre-show room with the actual performance theatre and giant screen housed in the central production stage, formerly featuring an ‘Art Attack’ theme. The interactive post-show of Disney Channel-themed games is expected to return. Hinted in the official 2008 holiday brochure, it is now confirmed that the “story” of the attraction will indeed see guests enter Disney Channel Studios to interview Stitch via a live satellite link-up with outer space.

Whilst the original ‘Early 2008’ opening date was changed to ‘January 2008’ in June this year, newer park maps and marketing materials have since returned the attraction to an unspecific ‘Early 2008’.

This latest Thomas Cook brochure, which uses information provided directly by Disney, confirms an official opening date of March 2008. However, as with other “living character” attractions, a long “soft opening” period before an official inauguration takes place is likely, allowing the Cast Members and Stitch voice artists to refine their important roles.

Monday, 24th September 2007

Boulevard builds further, full panorama uncovered

Our recent Take a tour of Hollywood Boulevard article began with the following photo, the view which has become familiar to guests exiting Disney Studio 1 during the construction of Hollywood Boulevard.

These themed movie sets in all shapes and sizes lay hidden beyond a screen of trees surrounding the Partners Statue of Disney Bros Plaza, no doubt giving the area an extra sense of exploration, but not quite right for the panoramic view a classic boulevard requires…

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Disney Bros. Plaza in late August

And so, Walt Disney Studios Park proudly presents… an unobstructed boulevard.

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Photo: Grandmath, Disney Central Plaza forum

Just three trees have been removed from the plaza, two either side of the statue and one to the left of the hub, but in doing so the Imagineers have opened up a full panorama beyond the movie can-styled planter to show the full length of Hollywood Boulevard and its forced perspective horizon.

Whilst the newly-opened view is an impressive, more detailed sequal to that seen inside Disney Studio 1, several remnants from the original 2002 infrastructure remain oddly in-focus to possibly detract from the progress — most notably the two large blue lamposts and the silver “lighting rig” parade route pole. Seeing the lamposts and parade route accessories planned out on the latest concept art for the project, there’s no doubt Disney Bros Plaza would benefit greatly from an extension of these.

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Photo: Grandmath, Disney Central Plaza forum

Replacing the three trees temporarily are a series of medium-sized shrubs, likely taken from the resort hub, sitting on wooden panels to cover the metal grilles where the trees were rooted. More permanent planting of some kind should take their place before the boulevard’s completion.

Beyond Disney Bros Plaza it’s the right-hand side of the street which has seen the most advances in recent days, with the department store/apartment block’s backdrop set climbing to completion in a matter of days. Despite being modelled on an almost entirely two-dimensional steel frame, the Imagineers’ famed forced perspective has worked its magic for a quite believable effect.

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Photo: DisneyActu blog

Captured perfectly by the French DisneyActu blog, above, the boulevard is really beginning to provide an impressive panorama to guests entering the park now, adding an important feel of a closed environment in a way the smaller Studio Tram Tour billboard failed. With the white steel framework where the billboard once stood now built to its new height, the next major step should see the Hollywood Hills towering, distantly, between the El Capitan and Broadway Building at the end.

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Photo: Disneytheque.com

Like the First National Bank and El Capitan, the Broadway Building (from the juntion of Hollywood & Vine in the real Hollywood) can also boast more of a “2.5-D” façade, completed with separate windows to the flat backdrop itself and an overhanging roofline with extra support details underneath.

Just in front, the Gone Hollywood storefront has been covered in scaffolding as work continues with drywall and preparations for the art deco details and neon lights still to come.

Monday, 24th September 2007

Father Christmas Village officially confirmed

Disneyland Resort Paris always announces its new developments in the most understated of ways. Whether its a paragraph at the end of a financial report or a nondescript mention on a webpage, the resort certainly knows how to keep its fans on their toes.

Today, official confirmation for the ‘Father Christmas Village‘ finally comes from an online newsletter sent out to all UK guests introducing both the Halloween and Christmas seasons, together. Once the email has arrived in their inbox, subscribers can click a link to visit a special webpage on disneylandparis.co.uk providing a preview of the upcoming season under the tagline “This year, Christmas will be 15 times more MARVELLOUS!”

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One sentence, hidden toward the end of the text, reads as follows:

“…And take advantage of this exceptional day to visit the new Father Christmas Village.”

There it is, the first phase of Woody’s Roundup Village is finally official and public!

The email newsletter itself mentions guests being able to “spend some magical moments with the Disney Characters who await you in their special Christmas finery beside Father Christmas in person”, suggesting the village will mix well with the perpetually popular Mickey’s Winter Wonderland within the ranch area, providing a ‘Disney Character’ alternative to the ‘Disney Princess’ theme of Belle’s Christmas Village, returning to Fantasyland from 17th November 2007.

Woody’s Roundup Village itself will then likely take over the ranch in the new year, providing Disneyland Resort Paris with its only attraction to be “made-over” annually for seasonal events.

The newsletter also confirms the English name of Candleabration‘s festive guise – Enchanted Candleabration.

Sunday, 23rd September 2007

Red carpet rolls into new Christmas promotions

The red carpet of the 15th Anniversary was first rolled out to the public way back in February 2007, bursting onto the screen with that exciting website teaser and eventually the full Disneyland15.com itself, before making it onto the screens of millions across Europe with the resort’s largest television advertising campaign yet back in March.

For the grand launch events of the anniversary, we saw it rolled out in real life for Miley Cyrus and various VIP guests, whilst stunning print advertisements filled magazine pages, billboards and even tour buses. The whole idea was a huge success, a far cry from the poorly conceived campaigns of Walt Disney Studios Park and The Legend Of The Lion King in years gone by.

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Since the launch, the red carpet has continued to roll through each and every 15th Anniversary campaign, big and small, giving the treat of some cleverly themed carpets for Cars, Crush’s Coaster and more recently, Halloween.

Where will it end? The elevator doors of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror might be a natural fit…

However, we shoudn’t get ahead of ourselves. As announced last week, Disney’s Christmas Season is most certainly back for a fifteenth season this November, joining together the best of Christmas past and the best of the anniversary, plus some extra presents (eg. the Roundup) thrown in.

Despite Christmas seasons rarely being given the gift of expensive advertisements or clever promotions in the past (case in point: last year’s ‘key visual’), this newfound confidence in the power of the 15th campaigns thus far brings an exciting new textile-floor-covering-based chapter for us to stare wondrously upon…

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Click to enlarge (724×1024).

Without gushing too much, it’s certainly another great addition to the collection, don’t you think?

The two new promotional posters, a portrait and landscape version of the same design, see the red carpet stretching upwards into Sleeping Beauty Castle decorated both with its glittering ice palace Christmas lights and the character candles of the 15th Anniversary. The characters peering out from Christmas trees along the carpet could be the most interesting detail here, however…

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Click to enlarge (1024×768).

Beyond Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale in their Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony (now Bougillumination Enchantée) costumes, aside from the classic Toy Soldiers making an unusual advertising appearance and ignoring Goofy in his popular Goofy Claus outfit… do you see them?

The two visuals feature a couple of Disney-ised reindeer, standing on their “rear” legs and looking ready to meet and greet their festive park guests. What should we expect of them, new guests for the ‘Dreams of Christmas’ float? Extra characters for Frontierland‘s new Christmas Village? Or perhaps, simply stand-in extras for this promotion, drafted in from the North Pole?

So, if you’re planning on actually visiting the resort this Christmas rather than drooling over the standout effort from the resort’s marketing department above… don’t forget a carrot or two, just in case.

All promotional images © Disney.

Sunday, 23rd September 2007

El Capitan and the golden age in colour

At the foot of the boulevard, a new coffee-flavoured delicacy has been uncovered for all passing guests to see. Ahead since the first weeks of construction, the ‘Sweet Success’ building now stands fully painted and with its scaffolding surround removed, a sudden leap from the uncoloured construction featured just a few weeks ago.

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With the colours of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror faded and worn, the building has certainly given a contrast to the styles of this new mini-Hollywood. The same pale yellow of the Tower can be seen toward the top and in edging and detail, but the stronger orange central colour and darker chocolate stucco at the top and above its ground-floor windows are a real change from the single colour seen on its real-life counterpart and Disney-MGM Studios predecessor.

Can we expect the same radical changes to the rest of the sets inspired by previous Disney recreations? Perhaps — although the façade next door, named ‘Argyle Building’ in Disney’s California Adventure (DCA), is currently receiving prefabricated details practicall identical to those of the original.

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Roof details, windows and faux details such as wooden panels and rendering are in place and ready to be given their first colours. Further back on the top of the development sits a vertical extension to the roof, perhaps a chimney stack, replacing the billboard on this spot at DCA.

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The two-dimensional backdrop sets at the back of the boulevard have also advanced at an exciting pace, including the more idustrial, redbrick ‘Broadway Building’ which has now all but filled its white steel framework with a bewildering pattern of forced-perspective windows.

The headline news in recent weeks has, of course, been the addition of a second landmark behind Hollywood Boulevard’s ‘First National Bank’ building. The completed white tower of the bank was expected to stand alone against the Hollywood Hills, but it appears the Imagineers were mulling over a few overseas Disney properties as they planned out the project, adding a reasonably faithful El Capitan theatre to the horizon. The real El Capitan theatre can be found on the real Hollywood Boulevard, restored to its former glory in 1991 by Disney and now operating as their very own movie theatre, home to almost every film and DVD premiere for Walt Disney Pictures. You can find out more on the official website.

Completed first with a dark green vertical sign holding the “El Capitan” letters in their recognisable yellow typeface, the forced-perspective segment was soon embellished further with another unexpected addition — a neon radio tower featuring the theatre’s name. Like the recently-opened Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, Hollywood Boulevard is expected to be glowing with neons at nightfall upon completion.

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Opposite these developments, progress worth noting is finally beginning to take place at the location of the ‘Gone Hollywood’ storefront, a sand-coloured façade with pale turquoise details bearing all the trademarks of art deco design — some of which are now arriving on-site. Atop the building will be a small art deco clock, the base for which is already clear, whilst drywall has finally begun to cover the steel framework.

But, as ‘Gone Hollywood’ just gets started, the construction crew have been and gone elsewhere — fitting window frames and glass to the centrepiece window of ‘Sweet Success’, for example. With real construction details like this now joining the prefab façades, the illusion that these developments are real, functional buildings takes a step forward.

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Behind the entire development, preparations for the two-tier Hollywood Hills have begun on the steel billboard frame of Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic, extending the vertical supports beyond their original height to form the gentle curve of the upcoming backdrop.

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Finally, DCA’s ‘Off the Page’ (centre) has taken on a strong orange and yellow colours to its prefab-mould front, including a delicate entrance archway in far lighter tones. It appears likely this building will share a colour scheme remarkably similar to ‘Sweet Success’ at the opposite side of the row. Next door, the three-storey ‘La Brea Carpets’ has freshly-finished plasterwork across its front and the beginnings of balconies. The almost endless line of windows now have frames ready and waiting for more glass.

More Hollywood Boulevard updates still to come!

All photos by Photos Magiques dated 15/09. You can see the full construction update here »

Monday, 17th September 2007

Woody’s Roundup grows with rootin’ tootin’ roofs!

Yes, Woody’s Roundup!

The rootinest, tootinest, shootinest, hootinest cowboy around is finally due to make a Frontierland appearance over 12 years since the original Toy Story film. The ‘Woody’s Roundup’ name chosen for this redevelopment coming from the 1999 film Toy Story 2 and the fictional 1950s television series which Woody discovers he originated from. The name has also been suggested to be ‘Woody’s Roundup Village’ — a partner for Pocahontas Indian Village nearby, perhaps?

The new development is expected to be used for meet ‘n’ greets with the ‘Roundup Gang’, with other activities aimed at a younger audience also likely, encouraging these visitors to spend longer in a land with little specifically for children.

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Riding through Frontierland on the Disneyland Railroad, the two new buildings are now unmissable in the grassy glade of the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area. Square pitched roofs have been added to both, including a decorative centre square raised above the main roof. Further progress has been made with what appears to be a new wooden structure joining these two buildings, a much more strongly-pitched roof bridging the gap to provide a very large new covered space.

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Now, this kind of plywood isn’t particularly inspiring or suitable for a Western ranch post-1880. Lucky then, we can spot a second major construction step already – weathered roof tiles are already laid on the roof opposite The Chaparral Theater. Upon completion, we could imagine the buildings the appear similar obviously to those retained from Critter Corral, but also to the Disneyland Railroad Frontierland Depot itself. Woody may be from an animated film, but there appears nothing “cartoonish” whatsoever about his real-life ranch home.

The Christmas press release and information released last week also confirmed Father Christmas’ usual Town Square location is now being taken by Goofy, suggesting this development will be ready for its Christmas Village function this year. Woody’s Roundup itself, for the rest of the year, will then likely follow in 2008.

All photos by Photos Magiques. You can see the full construction gallery here.

Sunday, 16th September 2007

The Twilight Zone means business, plus a new commercial

The Business Solutions (www.drpbusiness.com) department of Disneyland Resort Paris has long been a huge success for the resort, using its unique locations and high capacity venues to host countless themed events for internationally reknowned companies such as Ford and Microsoft.

Their best ideas (and no doubt the ones most fans wish they could experience) come in the form of special ‘Themed Evenings’, giving attendees entertainment, dining and attractions in select corners of the two Disney parks. Everything from ‘Captain Jack’s Treasure Hunt’ and ‘Witches of the Wild West’ to ‘Australian Crush Party’ and ‘Party on Sunset Boulevard’ can be organised.

So, it’s no surprise that the theme and story-rich Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is their latest (and from the sound of it, greatest) offer for a themed evening, now advertised across their website…

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Clicking on the special advertisements, all featuring the bellhop who has proven so popular already with the French marketing department, takes you to a page in the latest Business Solutions e-newsletter, given a full Hollywood Tower Hotel theme and featuring a run-through of what the evening offers, against the backdrop of the full attraction Key Visual…

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The text itself reads as follows:

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Dare to take the plunge… and reap the results!

The Hollywood Tower Hotel, which opens its doors in Walt Disney Studios® Park early in 2008, is no ordinary hotel. Don’t even think about spending a night here … you might be propelled into the Fourth Dimension, after plunging from the 13th floor!

When this magnificent Art Deco establishment was in its heyday it hosted the top society receptions and attracted the rich and famous … then, one stormy night, it was the scene of a mysterious accident, in which five people took an elevator ride and disappeared for ever…

Your guests will be invited to experience this journey for themselves in our new themed evening based on the latest attraction: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

They will be welcomed by a rather eerie lift attendant who will lead them to the elevator of this historic establishment and then, from the heights of the 13th floor, they will be plunged into the void and total darkness at astonishing speed … for a totally unforgettable experience!

To recover from their terrifying fall, guests will gather afterwards for a gala dinner accompanied by musicians playing jazz and film music from Hollywood’s golden age.
Calm returns, and the diners are diverted by a medium’s supernatural revelations, special effects and original entertainment.

But what’s that noise … there’s the rumble of another storm brewing … and maybe the lost victims of the Hollywood Tower Hotel are about make an appearance?

Are you ready to take the plunge?

From €110 per person excl. VAT, for groups of 150 to 320.

How does a night of exclusive Tower of Terror rides, jazz music and a gala dinner in Disney Studio 1 sound? Pretty unique, don’t you think? It seems all these new attractions and placemaking have benefits reaching far further than what the average guest notices as they wander the park.

The Business Solutions team must be quite taken with the Twilight Zone package — the page not only offers a themed background and enthusiastic text, but also a video commercial for the new attraction in both French and English. Whilst all of the footage will be instantly familiar to anyone who has ever seen the advertisements for the Florida and California versions, these videos both feature new voiceovers and new closing logos. The use of a more British accent, for example, might suggest that these videos — certainly their narration — could be used beyond the confines of the DLRP Business website.

English Version – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Find this on Dailymotion | on YouTube

French Version – La Tour de la Terrur, Un Saut dans la Quatrieme Dimension

Find this on Dailymotion | on YouTube

This second version of the commercial also features one of the first glimpses at the full French logo of the attraction. The in-park name, as already seen on the current tips board, will remain The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, with this lengthy French title used only for marketing, similar to Buzz L’Éclair Bataille Laser and Cars Race Rally, which were never used in-park.

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Hopefully Disneyland Resort Paris will really mean business when they come to advertise the new attraction direct to the public, whether they use these exact adverts or not — but until then, who’s up for sharing these new commercials on YouTube and Dailymotion with a few friends, on blogs or on forums?

There’s nothing like word of mouth to start the thunder rolling…

All marketing materials, text and video © Disney.

Sunday, 16th September 2007

Rendez-Vous des… Rats?

Imagine if we’d have been told a year ago that Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant would relaunch with a buffet themed to rats — complete with themed costumes, new posters, plush toy decorations and descriptions of each dish with a picture of the key rat himself!

Well, that Pixar magic can do funny things to the public. Now, the unexpected addition of a light Ratatouille flavour to the park’s first all-you-can-eat buffet seems like a wonderful idea — not least considering the film’s huge success in France.

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The changes took place literally overnight, with all the previous cafeteria menus being covered with Ratatouille-themed advertisements for the new buffet and various views from inside the kitchen of Gusteau’s, the restaurant featured in the film.

For the launch of the new buffet, Cast Members were given costumes a little similar to those seen at the Disneyland California pre-parade and the Ratatouille Big Cheese Tour, both promotional events in the US. It’s unknown whether this new buffet is part of a deal with Buena Vista International, Disney’s film distrubution arm, similar to the Cars and Ratatouille billboards and posters covering Disney Studio 1.

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Have you tried the new buffet already? Take a moment to share your thoughts at our new partner site, DLRP Review, where in just a few clicks you can be given the magic wand to rate and review everything at Disneyland Resort Paris. Click here to rate the new buffet >>

Ratatouille is due for release in the UK (and several other European countries treated with slow service) in October, and is already being given a big marketing push by Rémy’s more mousy rodent friends.

All photos featured by Photos Magiques. See more here.

Thursday, 13th September 2007

Bougillumination Enchantée and Dreams of Christmas

The new press release answers a lot of questions and confirms the Christmas overlays of Candleabration and Once Upon a Dream, but before we begin — take a look at this brand new visual:

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Should this be next to the word “extravagance” in the dictionary?

Any questions about whether the chandeliers would return or whether they will replace the 15th Anniversary banners can be cast aside… Two spectacular, popular Main Street and Castle overlays will join together for the first time — glowing, icy chandeliers and sparkling Lumière banners, flickering character candles and glittering ice palace lights, presented together for two months only.

Quite a jawdropping spectacle in itself, don’t you think?

– – – – – – Press Release, Translated – – – – – –

Christmas more spectacular than ever
for the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Resort Paris

Christmas at Disneyland is a time for all the family —
this year, kids under 7 can stay and play for FREE.

MARNE LA VALLÉE, France 11 Septembre 2007 … The Christmas celebrations begin 10th November at Disneyland Resort Paris. Amongst the high points of the season, the new ‘Dreams of Christmas’ float for Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, the musical show Mickey’s Winter Wonderland and the unforgettable illumination of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant in her 15th Anniversary makeover.

Until 6th January 2006, the most enchanting season of the entire year will be even more magical. And to make the celebration sparkle, hotel stays and access to the Disney Parks is completely free for children under 7 years of age!

Disneyland Park

More than one million lights will transform Disneyland Park into a Christmas wonderland. Snow will fall on a Main Street lined with grand chandeliers dedicated to the Disney Princesses and happy snowmen. A majestic Christmas Tree and Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant glow in thousands of lights, specially decorated for the 15th Anniversary.

Father Christmas and his reindeer take their place on the ‘Dreams of Christmas’ float in Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade every afternoon. This sparkling parade was created especially for the 15th Anniversary to bring to life the most beautiful Disney Classics, helped along by a grand collection of Disney characters wearing their most beautiful party clothes.

Even more surprises await vistors with Mickey’s Winter Wonderland, a colourful ice-skating spectacle presented several times a day with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and their friends in a wondrous Winter landscape. The fantasy presents the charms and delights of the coldest season through memorable music. Naturally, Chip and Dale make a surprise appearance!

At the heart of Fantasyland from the 17th November, guests can explore the winding streets of Belle’s Christmas Village. The heroine and her beast themselves can be encountered at the entrance of this picturesque seasonal market. Over at the Fantasy Festival Stage, Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too enchants guests of all ages in a special Christmas-themed show from 15th December to 6th January.

The Disney characters are at the celebration and waiting for guests at the foot of the Castle. In the elegant Christmas Tree Forest of Town Square, Goofy Claus is ready and waiting for photos. And, as every day since the start of the 15th Anniversary celebrations, Disney Characters’ Express circles Main Street, U.S.A. several times a day, redecorated with a special Christmas theme!

Every evening, Mickey and his friends join together for the joyous finale of Bougillumination Enchantée (Enchanted Candleabration, Christmas Candleabration) in dance and song, before Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant — its fifteen candles lit by Mickey Mouse himself! Enchanting Disney princesses dance under the moonlight whilst, behind them, the Castle is transformed into a spectacular, crystal ice palace of lights. The crowning moment comes as a shower of glittering, golden pixie dust rains from the magic wand of Tinkerbell atop the highest spire, which illuminates, one by one, the giant chandeliers and banners lining Main Street all the way to the towering Christmas Tree itself, on Town Square.

Finally, the nighttime fantasy of Disney’s Fantillusion* reunites the heros of Disneyland in an extravagant parade making use of the most sophisticated sound and light effects, to close the day in a glittering shower of lights and unforgettable music.

*From 10th to 30th November 2007 — Disney’s Fantillusion will be presented only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. From 1st December 2007 to 6th January 2008, Disney’s Fantillusion performances are daily, weather permitting.

Walt Disney Studios Park

Christmas with the sparkle of Hollywood.

Visitors can again step in front of the camera and play their part in the hilarious live Christmas Ciné Folies shows of Disney Studio 1, transformed with an irresistible festive atmosphere.

Across the Resort

Disneyland Resort Paris sparkles with Christmas decorations all over. Each Disney Hotel is given an extra festive touch with Christmas trees, illuminations and specially-organised activities for the Christmas season.

Finally, Disney Village celebrates Christmas from 21st December 2007 to 6th January 2008, including the famous Marché de Noël and a meet ‘n’ greet location for Father Christmas and his snowmen friends.

– – – – – – End Release – – – – – –

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Let’s recap all that news:

Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade will indeed see Father Christmas on his own ‘Dreams of Christmas’ float (likely the old sleigh float from previous years). Candleabration’s Christmas overlay will be known beautifully in French as ‘Bougillumination Enchantée’ — we’ll have to wait for the English name, but something similar to Enchanted Candleabration or Christmas Candleabration is likely. The Christmas Tree will return again to Town Square, following its success there last year.

Mickey’s Winter Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh and Belle’s Christmas Village return. Disney’s Fantillusion is to run only 3 days a week during November. Walt Disney Studios Park will again have only Christmas Ciné Folies to celebrate the season. Disney Characters’ Express will continue to run and even get a special Christmas overlay.

Perhaps most interesting — Father Christmas’ usual meet ‘n’ greet location of Town Square is now confirmed to be taken over by Goofy in his Santa Claus costume previously seen only at Walt Disney Studios Park. Now, where could Santa have gone? A temporary inhabitant of the future Woody’s Roundup Village in Frontierland, perhaps?

The 15th Anniversary with the added enchantment of Christmas is beginning to sound a lot like something rather special. Alors, chantec’est presque Noël !

Wednesday, 12th September 2007

Secrets of Hollywood revealed in new concept art

Sure, there was that original concept art revealed at the 1st April 2007 press presentation and posted exclusively online by our partner WDSfans.com, but, as we knew at the time, this was just one vision out of two for the Hollywood placemaking project — and it wasn’t chosen.

Whilst the original concept featured a large ‘Bank of Hollywood’, a reproduction of the Wiltern Theatre and a road leading directly to the front gate of The Hollywood Tower Hotel, it was already confirmed that La Terrasse would remain, Gone Hollywood would be on the place of the Wiltern and several more “pueblo deco”-style buildings would surround the Tower itself.

And now, at long last, we can see the true Imagineers’ vision of what awaits…

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Click to see full-size without number key

The concept art was revealed just days after our ‘Take a tour of Hollywood Boulevard’ article was compiled, sent to Grandmath, admin of the Disney Central Plaza forum, but apparently available to see backstage for Cast Members for around one month already!

The concept art both confirms many of the expectations of the boulevard, built up through rumours over past months, and reveals new secrets of the under-construction project. The immediate impression when compared to the original concept is that the chosen plan features a larger spread and variety of buildings, a horizon/backdrop which is much more dimensional and layered and, most noticably, a greater amount of detail concerning the street-level “accessories” of the development. Certainly an impressive vision, the concept as seen here does not even appear to be the complete panorama, however, missing the far-left “Sweet Success” building and the far-right “Gone Hollywood” storefront.

Beginning on the far right, the Argyle Building (No.1) appears almost identical to its Disney’s California Adventure (DCA) original, though no sign of the “Ben Hair” barbershop gag in its window. Next, the long, three-story La Brea Carpets façade (No.2) has clearly had some alterations, the two arched patio doors on its right replaced with a closed square window and the two doors on its left now without doors, appearing to lead straight into La Terrasse behind. DCA’s tigerprint awnings above the doors have thankfully been replaced with ornate windows, similar to those on the park entrance gate. The signage (No.4) on the building appears identical to DCA, but we’re promised at least one of the two will now read “La Terrasse”.

The park’s Tips Board (No.3) makes a move to Hollywood as expected, positioned underneath a new pueblo deco canopy which bears more than a slight resemblance to that at Disney-MGM Studios. Towards the Hollywood Hills, we can now see that the expected First National Bank and Broadway Building aren’t the only sets to sit either side of the Hollywood Hills. A forced perspective of the Disney-owned El Capitan is featured (No.5) along with at least two other locations on the opposite side (No.7). The Broadway Building even features a new neon billboard atop its roof.

A major change when compared to the previous concept comes with the Hollywood Hills (No.6). Obviously wiser from their experience with Hollywood Pictures Backlot at DCA, the backdrop features no sky whatsoever — only the hills themselves are featured, similar in style to the recent (and successful) Toon Town Hills backdrop at Toon Studio. The tunnel is also featured, and the hills themselves appear to be split into two separate layers.

Those street-level details also improve greatly upon the past concept, from towering palm trees (No.8) lining the street to lamposts (No.10) matching those around Tower of Terror and, most surprising, a complete replacement for the old silver “lighting rig” parade poles (No.11). The first of the controversial towers to be replaced, they now look scheduled to become more ornate green pylons carring more refined speakers and lighting similar to Central Plaza in Disneyland Park.

Finally, continuing the park’s run of bad luck when it comes to fountains, the raised corner of the street now seems to be for a simple planter (No.9), rather than a much-needed splash of water. However, one final pleasing detail which can’t go overlooked is… Curbs! Sidewalks! At least the La Terrasse area now appears to be raised above ground level, practically a first in the entire park and an important step in continuing to remove the “built in a field of flat asphalt” feel the 2002 park occasionally had.

The Hollywood that only existed in our thoughts is now finally there, for all to see.

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