We last reported on the plight of CinéMagique in March, when what began as a simple repaint of the theatre-based attraction’s exterior moved “onto its second reel” with several other alterations around the outside of the building. Though award-winning and still receiving an outstanding “guest satisfaction” score in its 6th year, the Walt Disney Studios Park attraction is apparently failing to fill up its 1,100-capacity theatre quite as much as the operations managers would like.
Indeed, this is almost the anti-Armageddon. That special effects attraction over in Backlot appears to be facing closure due to the negative impact it has on guests’ overall impression of the park. At the other end of the scale, CinéMagique is so highly regarded by those who actually see it that they’d like to make sure as many people as possible do so.
The problem to be overcome is actually quite recent. Let’s call it “Hollywood Boulevard syndrome”. Or, in other words, the Imagineers have just built a wonderful little pocket of pure themeing and escapism across the courtyard, joined with a hugely popular and immersive E-Ticket, that just makes the original Production Courtyard look a little… well… dull.
The first answer: letters! You can’t miss the new ‘CinéMagique’ sign, sitting in the spot where previously a flat artwork-style logo was painted. Though a nice enough throwback to movie posters of old, this mostly featured images which never appeared in the final film, despite appearing around two years after its opening. The new sign appears to jump out from the Studio Theatre façade, perhaps a hint to the things which burst from the silver screen inside.
Below this, a truly huge new show times board constantly scrolls across the façade with an orange glow. Through integrated well into the façade, its usefulness has to be called into question — particularly, as seen above, it shows all the showtimes for the day (sometimes as many as 8 or 9) even at 6pm in the evening.
Against a 10 minute wait displayed for Tower of Terror or the sign next door stating 12 minutes until the next show at Stitch Live!, a better system, indicating the times in this linear way suddenly seems unnecessarily complicated when they’re so keen for guests. Reconfiguring the sign to stay static and simply state “XX Mins to next performance” would likely be far more helpful. The smaller scrolling signs on either side of the entrance could continue to display showtimes for later in the day.
Elsewhere, the rectangles around the canopy of the waiting area have indeed taken on a movie theatre style as predicted by many. In the way a real cinema would display the films “now showing”, these hold words which read “The Magic of the Movies … Comes to Life … Before Your Eyes” on the left and “La Magie du Cinema … Prend Vie … Sous vos Yeux” on the right.
Most impressive, and unexpected, however, is that these are all surrounded by hundreds of small flashing LED lights, giving a real dazzle to the entire canopy. The white backgrounds are also illuminated at nighttime, flashing in sequence.
Indeed, like most of the original park, it’s at nighttime that the revitalised CinéMagique building really comes to life. The new posters installed inside the waiting area are not only bigger, more colourful and much more numerous than their predecessors — they are also lit from behind and link into a clever celluloid filmstrip motif across the wall, using the original lights above and new painted silver squares below.
Nighttime does bring one disappointment, however — those giant ‘CinéMagique’ letters are not illuminated. With the former artwork it didn’t necessarily matter, but now guests see the faint outlines and shadow of the letters without the actual word. Lucky we still rarely get to see the park in the dark, then.
As the curtain falls, are you applauding? It’s true this temporary revamp to increase footfall is a little less than the glitzy, authentic movie palace we all dream of — but, perhaps, it’s a stepping stone to bigger and better things ahead. The ‘Magique’ might still, one day, extend beyond the auditorium.
[Photos: DLRP Today]