Tuesday, 23rd September 2008

Jack Skellington and Sally arrive in Paris!

In preparation for their daily meet ‘n’ greets amongst the fitting tombstones of Boot Hill throughout the Halloween season, Disneyland Resort Paris have released some special publicity photos showing the ghoulish couple awaiting their first European fans.

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The costumes appear almost identical to those premiered at Hong Kong Disneyland last year. Jack Skellington stands tall and thin in a strong pin-striped tailcoat and trousers, the spiked edges of his jacket flared upwards in a similar style to his black-spider bow-tie.

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Though the character wears a mask, his jaw is exposed and given some wonderful make-up to allow the character to actually speak to his fans. This does give his head a somewhat less-rounded appearance than the well-known Tim Burton stop-motion original, but the overall look of the character is near flawless.

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As for Sally, she appears even more startling than her skeletal partner. Her skin appears blue from top to toe, either from coloured tights, gloves or make-up, and everything from the stitched-together dress to the sheer red hair and contrasting red lipstick put her up amongst some of the most realistic and impressive creations from the character entertainment department.

The pair will make their Parisian debut on 4th October, meeting fans at this exact spot next to Phantom Manor, and will also make a daily appearance in the new Halloween Pre-Parade, riding atop a horse-drawn cart.

— Photos © Disney.

Tuesday, 23rd September 2008

Halloween’s 2008 orange invasion begins

That’d be because, as we reported along with the ‘Disney’s Spooktacular Halloween’ 2008 press release, the Pink Witches characters which invaded the past three festivals have been entirely removed from all marketing, decorations and live appearances. They’ll be replaced by a greater presence from the park’s now-recognisable Pumpkin Men, showing off several new incarnations and costumes.

Since 2005, the Pink Witches were introduced as Halloween “rivals” to the orange paint-spreading Pumpkin Men, with guests asked to “choose your side” in a battle for Halloween victory. Though the live characters themselves received a good reception, the uninspiring decorations around Cowboy Cookout Barbeque in Frontierland did not. Adding to the festival’s perceived problems was the additional introduction of Stitch, now removed entirely since he was given his own attraction at Walt Disney Studios Park.

In 2008, then, what can we expect? Remnants of the old Pink Witches decorations certainly live on. The first picture from these very first photos of the 2008 decorations, by our partners Photos Magiques, sums up the changes perfectly — an old Queen of the Pink Witches statue given a Pumpkin head and paint pots over its broomsticks.

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Colours throughout the decorations have been quite noticeably muted to more rustic and conventional orange, earthy tones. Frontierland now appears to host the majority of the old Pumpkin Men characters which previously populated the streets, rooftops and balconies of Main Street U.S.A., making the transformation of the land feel immediately more impressive, whatever your feelings on these now-six-year old mannequins.

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The so-called ‘Téléfreak’ device, which once linked the mainland with Big Thunder Mountain via a complicated overhead cableway (to transfer orange paint, so said the legends), is now all but gone after two years as a cable-less tower. Frontierland fans will be pleased to now see no orange steel tower, just the slightly more fitting oversized paint pot.

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Heading toward the ‘Pink Witches Academy’ area from recent years, where unpopular moulded plastic figures showed witches of various nationalities cooking up their local specialties, we’re pleased to find that these decorations have yet to materialise. The old entrance archway to the area has reappeared, but with a new orange and brown colour scheme and green vines running across its length, far more agreeable in its setting.

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The ‘Trick or Treat Stage’ has now entirely lost its garish blue and pink colours in favour of, again, a more muted brown overlay to its coffins, boxes and supports. This will allow the two main shows — Goofy and the Magic Cauldron and Minnie and the Bat Boys stand out much more themselves, rather than the stage.

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Finally, over in Cottonwood Creek Ranch, we find the only area not to have seen much change when compared to recent seasons past. Traditionally the area where Pumpkin Men grow on the vines of a giant pumpkin plant, the plant, scarecrows and plethora of real pumpkins have returned to provide a familiar corner of Halloween magic.

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In terms of really, truly “new” decorations, however, we’re currently still waiting…

Disney’s Halloween Festival officially begins on 4th October 2008 and runs until 6th November. The full DLRP Magic! guide to the season will be launched very soon, but before then you can check out the 2007 guide here.

— See the full Photos Magiques gallery for Halloween 2008 here.

Saturday, 13th September 2008

Tunnel services to Disneyland back on track

Eurostar, which acts only as a “customer” to the Eurotunnel tracks and tunnels, has this morning released an official statement regarding services this weekend, for the first time mentioning the daily direct service to Disneyland Resort Paris:

EUROSTAR PRESS STATEMENT – RESTRICTED SERVICES ON SATURDAY 13 SEPTEMBER AND SUNDAY 14 SEPTEMBER

Eurostar is operating a restricted, temporary timetable through the Channel Tunnel, using the single tunnel that is unaffected by fire. Travellers should check in as normal for the train times given on their tickets, and we will seek to carry them on the first available train.

However, travellers should expect significant delays before boarding their trains, and crowded departure lounges. Journey times will also be longer than normal.

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Tomorrow (Sun 14 September) Eurostar expects to run up to 10 trains each way on London-Paris, up to five trains each way on London-Brussels, and the daily service each way between London and Disneyland Resort Paris. Trains will also call at Ashford International, Ebbsfleet International, Lille and Calais.

Travellers holding tickets for travel between 13 and 16 September who have non-essential journeys are able to exchange their tickets for a later date, or get a full refund.

There will be continuing alterations to the timetable, as Eurostar adjusts its services to manage high levels of demand and the reduced tunnel capacity. In the meantime, Eurostar thanks travellers for their continuing patience and understanding.

The morning (~8.53am) outbound service to Disneyland Resort Paris and the evening (~19.37pm) return service to London will therefore resume from tomorrow, Sunday 14th September 2008. In total, only two outbound trains and three return trains to the resort have been cancelled as a result of the serious fire in the South Running Tunnel.

The daily service from London to Marne-la-Vallée is one of Eurostar’s most popular trains. Over Summer 2008, the rail operator trialled a new, later departure and earlier return service to allow visitors from beyond the London region to use the daily route.

Friday, 12th September 2008

Channel Tunnel fire closes major route to Disney

It was at 14:55 BST today that the alarm was raised as a Eurotunnel shuttle service travelling between Coquelles near Calais, France and Folkestone in Kent, England was forced to make an emergency stop inside the 50.5 kilometre tunnel due to a fire on-board, 11 kilometres from the French opening.

It is believed the fire, which took hold on a lorry carrying the chemical “phenol”, began when a brake on the truck overheated, causing a tire to explode. In total, is it reported that 32 were on board the train and all were led to safety through one of the many access points into the middle “Service” tunnel. Of those involved, 14 are being treated in hospital for injuries including smoke inhalation.

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The fire has closed the tunnel completely in both directions, cancelling countless Eurostar passenger services and Eurotunnel motor vehicle shuttles. Though the fire is now contained, the latest reports state that it is still burning, having spread to other lorries on the shuttle. The tunnel’s freight services use large drive-on wagons, open on all sides but covered by a large metal roof cage to prevent trucks from tipping. Drivers ride in a separate passenger carriage at the front of the train.

The Channel Tunnel is actually three separate tunnels, two Running Tunnels with high speed rail lines, and a third, smaller Service Tunnel between them which has two in-built guide rails for the tunnel’s custom built firefighting, medical and security vehicles to reach the scene of any incident quickly. In today’s incident, it is reported that 70 firefighters from both sides of the Channel helped to tackle the blaze.

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So, with vehicle shuttle services closed and Eurostar services between London, Paris, Brussels – and Disneyland Resort Paris – cancelled, one of North West Europe’s most vital transportation links has been brought to a standstill. News reports state thousands are stranded at stations on both sides of the channel. Whilst Eurostar passengers will have to wait it out or travel to airports to complete their journeys, Eurotunnel travellers are being given vouchers and directions for the Dover-Calais ferry.

Motorists are warned, however, that tailbacks of lorries and other vehicles outside each terminal are causing severe disruption to traffic, especially on the M20 in the UK.

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Tonight’s 18.27 Eurostar service from Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy (the station at the gates of Disneyland) to Ashford International, Ebbsfleet International and London St Pancras International was cancelled, and the same service will also not be running tomorrow evening.

In addition, tomorrow morning’s direct train to the resort from London will be cancelled along with all trains between London and Lille, now a popular destination for Disney travellers to change to TGV services, allowing for more convenient departure times than the once-daily direct services.

It is currently unknown when the Channel Tunnel will be ready to open for regular service. If you’re due to use Eurostar or Eurotunnel to visit Disneyland Resort Paris from the UK, we advise you keep up with the latest news via Sky News, BBC News and the official Eurostar website.

— News details sourced via Sky News and BBC News. Neither Eurostar or Disneyland Resort Paris have yet mentioned or made a statement about the effect of the train cancellations on passengers using Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy station.

Saturday, 16th August 2008

Motor Cars Parade becomes Stars ‘n’ Cars Event

The thing is — the anticipation surrounding this parade, that, after years of rumours, was finally retired from Disney’s Hollywood Studios park in Florida earlier this year and brought to Paris, is not just anticipation to see it in Paris. It’s an anticipation to see what Paris do with it.

Famously slow on the eyes despite its pleasing cavalcade of themed motor cars and a wide variety of stars, the news of the parade’s move to Paris was met with some hesitation from fans who’d seen it right from the word go.

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“Green Army Man in Surgery Shock”

Considering Disneyland Park right next door now has a parade — Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade — with so many characters, dancers, static props and moving puppets that it literally bombards your senses as it passes, would something as mellow as a Hollywood-style cavalcade of film stars in cars be enough for the second gate, just metres away?

And here, apparently, is the answer: no, not quite.

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The Studios’ wish comes true — a real Disney Princess on its parade route!

So, what will the Entertainment department of Disneyland Resort Paris do with those highly-themed motor cars, now sitting backstage since April this year? For an answer to that, you have to look to what inspired this parade’s move to Paris in the first place — the original version of a popular Walt Disney Studios Park character event — Good Morning Walt Disney Studios.

Because, though this cavalcade of regular classic cars carrying Disney stars was hardly a dazzling show-stopper as it passed by you on the parade route, it was always one of the most memorable events of the day. As the cars hit Production Courtyard, they took a turn and parked up, letting the stars step out of the cars for a 20-minute meeting with their fans.

In that same vein, let us not announce Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade for 2009, but instead: Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars Event.

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Two Genies at once in Toon Studio! Nescafé would call that Genie Genies.

No longer a parade, now an event! And those earlier rumours from several months ago were entirely true — it WILL be split into three distinct, different events, happening throughout the day, in three set locations of Walt Disney Studios Park. Imagine it like three unique Good Morning Walt Disney Studios-es happening at the same time, in different lands, several times each day.

Let’s also confirm the full list of cars that have arrived safely in Paris from Florida: Mickey and Minnie, Aladdin, Lilo & Stitch, Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid, Snow White, Villains, The Muppets, Toy Story, Playhouse Disney, Monsters Inc and Star Wars.

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Star Wars gives Walt Disney Studios Park the fffo…fforc..franchise!

Star Wars in Paris? Yes! Though rumours suggest that Luke and Princess Leia will infact be replaced by Darth Vader, with C3PO running alongside (though latest reports say he has yet to arrive…).

The Muppets in Paris? No! We can reveal that the plan is to turn this green and wooden car into a kind of automobile-ship for none other than Captain Jack Sparrow! This would be the Pirates of the Caribbean stars’ first ever daily Disney parade appearance — albeit as part of an “event”, not a “parade”, we must remember…

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Muppets no more — welcome Jack Sparrow to the Studios!

In addition, a rumour we left out of our previous article might now have a little more truth, considering the new resident we’re spotting on Hollywood Boulevard each day. One of the cars in the parade will feature Cruella De Vil — which one? Most likely Florida’s original Villains car transformed, though some rumours did suggest the car from outside Studio Tram Tour could be brought into working order… She will get her way and arrive as part of the ‘Event’, either way.

So, the only cars not to appear in Paris are the Power Rangers and Grand Marshall (a car for guests to appear on) units. But will we see ALL the cars that have arrived out in the park next year? Maybe not… we’ll have to wait and see.

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Watch out Hades — Cruella is coming…

Added to the mix and redecorated, if early plans go ahead, would be the old Cinema Parade Van, now running as part of this year’s cut-down Good Morning Walt Disney Studios, and the Toon Car, currently running in the pre-parade of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade. Only four cars for each of the three spots were marked out in the original plans.

The three spots envisaged for the Stars ‘n’ Cars to arrive and stop for the meet ‘n’ greets are: Backlot (outside Moteurs… Action!), Hollywood Boulevard (where Cruella currently stops in her regular Cadillac) and Toon Studio (the area between Animagique and Cars).

Now, 760 words and plenty of revelations later — how’s that new name settling in? Don’t worry, we’ve still got many more months to get used to it before April 2009…

[Pictures: reidmix and Wyscan, Flickr]

Friday, 15th August 2008

Santa Claus, Mickey Mouse prepare for a Fairytale Christmas

This year, we’ll be enjoying Disney’s Fairytale Christmas from 8th November 2008 to 6th January 2009. A time for snow falling on Main Street, Santa Claus in his Frontierland workshop, Princesses dancing beside the castle, transformed into an ice palace, and much, much more…

But do take note of that name — it’s not Disney’s Christmas Season any more, at least not in any of the promotions. Disneyland Resort Paris are focusing all of their efforts on Disneyland Park to give it the biggest seasonal makeover we’ve ever seen. And of course, for one more year, it’ll have an extra 15th Anniversary flavour…

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Here’s the press release in full:

Disney’s Fairytale Christmas 2008/09

Meet Santa this Christmas at Disneyland Resort Paris

– BRAND NEW for 2008, Santa Claus Village and Mickey’s Magical Christmas Dinner –

London, 24th July 2008 — Where better to kick off the Christmas season than at magical Disneyland Resort Paris! The spirit of Christmas comes alive this year from 8th November, 2008 to 6th January, 2009. Celebrate the most joyous time of year with your family in the company of the Disney Characters in their Christmas costumes.

Santa Claus’ Village comes to Disneyland Resort Paris for the very first time in 2008. Children are invited to enter Santa’s winter wonderland to meet the man himself and pose for a memorable photo. What’s more, in the heart of the village children can find the Santa Claus Post Office where they can post their Christmas wish-lists in time for a Christmas Eve delivery. And with the help of a little Disney magic, the children will receive Santa’s response sent directly to their homes!

Also new for 2008, Disneyland Resort Paris will host Mickey’s Magical Christmas Dinner*, a unique new dining experience where guests can join the Disney Characters for a huge Christmas buffet feast, complete with sparkling lights and sing-along music that will make hearts warm and spirits soar! (Ticket only event).

And for a guaranteed white Christmas, snowflakes will fall from the sky on Main Street U.S.A giving everyone the special Christmas memory they have always dreamed of!

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Christmas season festivities include:

‘¢ Enchanted Candleabration — Mickey and his friends invite guests to Central Plaza for an unforgettable evening ceremony held in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, which transforms into a glistening ice palace
‘¢ Disney’s Fantillusion — Princes, Princesses and other Disney characters emerge on Main Street, U.S.A. at nightfall to host a magnificent parade where Disney’s best-loved fairytales are retold
‘¢ Santa Claus, VIP guest of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade — Santa Claus appears at the end of this magical procession to wish everyone a Merry Christmas
‘¢ Minnie’s Jolly Holidays Show — Minnie Mouse, along with her Chorus Boys and Girls, invites guests to join her in the celebration of Christmas as she hosts a fantastic show with many jolly surprises
‘¢ Meet Goofy Santa — Lovable Goofy dressed as Santa Claus in his sleigh will welcome children for a souvenir photo
‘¢ Belle’s Christmas Village — With picturesque taverns and snow-covered stalls, Fantasyland transforms into an authentic medieval village at Christmastime
‘¢ Mickey’s Winter Wonderland — Mickey and his pals put on their ice skates for a winter spectacular the whole family will love
‘¢ Christmas at Disney Village — Disney Village will be the home of a traditional Christmas Market this year

The Celebration continues… big time with a ‘Kids Under 7 Stay and Play’ free offer until 7th March 2009. The package is valid for up to three children per one paying adult per room booked, and includes a stay in a Disney Hotel and entrance to both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park.

* Mickey’s Magical Christmas Dinner will take place on 6th, 13th and 20th December from 7-9pm. Tickets will be available in advance at £39 for adults and £14 for children (3 to 11 incl.)

And that’s the jolly, jolly, jolly holidays that lie ahead!

So, what’s new? According to the press release, ‘Santa Claus’ Village’! But wait… didn’t we all see Father Christmas Village last year, that makeover of the then-brand-new Woody’s Roundup Village at the former Critter Corral, Frontierland?

The addition of a new Santa Claus Post Office could at least hint that the makeover will see substantial improvements or changes for its second year. This brand new feature will make use of the second new building in the village, which sat empty last Christmas, allowing children for the first time ever at Disneyland Resort Paris to post a letter to Santa Claus and then receive a real reply to their home in time for Christmas Eve.

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The popular late addition to the 2007/08 season — Minnie’s Jolly Holidays, a musical revue which brought life to Central Plaza Stage throughout the daytime — successfully returns for a second season, now promoted in advance for the first time — though it is currently unknown if it will run for the entire season, rather than just the final, busiest few weeks.

The biggest addition to the season, and another sign that it takes in even more of the British/American Christmas traditions is Mickey’s Magical Christmas Dinner. To be hosted at the Pavillion conventions tent behind Discoveryland, usually used by the resort’s profitable Business Solutions department, this will not be a dinner show like that previously held at Disney’s Newport Bay Club but a kind of large-scale character meal.

Plans include several brand new, unique photo locations for a variety of popular Disney characters, to be set out around the edge of the giant ballroom, with appearances throughout the meal. Imagine it a little like spending your Christmas Dinner with Mickey Mouse and many other Disney characters, with chances to pose for photos and dance to music between the courses.

Be sure to stay with DLRP Today.com for much more news about Disney’s Fairytale Christmas in the lead-up to the season. (Until then, enjoy the Summer while it lasts!)

— Discover last year’s season in great detail and countless photos at our dedicated guide.

[Pictures/Logos © Disney]

Thursday, 14th August 2008

Eat ‘express’ in 40mins for 19 euros!

This so-called “40-Minute Lunch Menu” was first introduced at Walt’s – An American Restaurant in Main Street U.S.A. last month and has now been extended already to two other table service restaurants at Disneyland Park.

At Silver Spur Steakhouse in Frontierland, you can hop on the “Pony Express” set menu for €19.90 to choose from three main courses — including both steaks and salads — with a “gourmet coffee”, all served in 40 minutes.

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Meanwhile, Blue Lagoon Restaurant in Adventureland offers the option to sail by the winds of the “Alizé Express” set menu for the same price, with another pick from three different main courses, and again a gourmet coffee to finish.

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This new €19.90 set menu seeks to fill up and maximise the capacity of these three table service restaurants in the middle of the day during Summer, when lines at fast food outlets are longest and many people are still in too much of a hurry to stop for a longer lunch.

By allowing guests to pay less and giving the tables a quicker turnover, it seems to give both sides a good deal.

— Tried the new menus? Why not post a quick opinion on DLRP Review…

[Pictures: Mousy.be]

Thursday, 14th August 2008

Pillars appear – for Playhouse Disney entrance?

The two pillars appeared at the weekend behind the first set of fences, connected onto the English queue of Stitch Live!, in the space between the Walt Disney Television Studios roof and a tree to the left of the building. One tree from this spot has already been removed.

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Writing on the pillars confirms they’re moulded concrete. Whilst some initial reports suggested they could be connected to form an arch, their height and size matches quite neatly with the supports for the existing queue canopy.

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This canopy, which actually curves slightly outward from the building in line with the circular Place des Stars, could actually be being extended using the pillars to provide an entrance to Playhouse Disney.

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White dots are the pillars — could the canopy be extended similar to the red space?

Placing the entrance to Playhouse Disney: Live on Stage here, further out from the building, would also help to “fill in” this corner of the courtyard that now looks unlikely to receive the long-proposed addition of Soarin’ any time soon.

The only barrier for Handy Manny still to overcome — how do guests queueing on the left to see Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and friends bypass those guests exiting from Stitch Live on the right? Stay tuned…

— Consult our previous articles for more diagrams showing the placement of this new show, due to officially open in March/April 2009.

[Pictures: Mousy.be]

Wednesday, 13th August 2008

Nescafé’s new Café Cafés pours its first cup

We’ve been used to slightly more interesting cups of coffee in the parks for some time now, since The Coffee Grinder in Main Street, U.S.A. and others began offering a squirt of cream on top of your cup. Rather a long way from the creations of a regular city coffee shop, sure, but the new Café Cafés looks to be taking it another step closer…

Top of the menu for this new semi-covered eatery in the corner of Production Courtyard is the option to “Personnalisez votre café en 3 étapes” — or, as the English translation less eloquently says, “Do your own coffee in 3 steps”.

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What does that mean? First, (1) you choose your coffee — such as Latte, Cappuccino and others — then, (2) your recipe — add flavoured syrups — finally, (3) your topping — chocolate powder, cinnamon, etc.

After the “themed” smoothies and faux cocktails of Hollywood & Lime at La Terrasse Perrier, the Studios are again trying something new for the parks.

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The location also sells sweets such as the standard brownies and cookies, which you can enjoy on seating inside (either side of the counter) or outside. The tables are identical to those at La Terrasse and the new Café Mickey extension, only with new designs on top, whilst the chairs actually appear to be recycled from the original La Terrasse.

Overall, the installation appears to be a great success in turning a dead area of the park and an underused portion of Rendez-Vous des Stars into a busy miniature coffee shop.

[Pictures: Mousy.be’s latest photo trip report]

Wednesday, 13th August 2008

Refurbishment finally set for Alice’s Curious Labyrinth!

The noise began way back in the early months of 2008. Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, the walk-through and maze at the back of Fantasyland, entirely unique to the Paris park, had not had a good Winter. Paint was peeling, props were dying, lights were dark and green dirt was growing.

On 20th February, we brought the pictures and calls for a refurbishment from the French Disney Central Plaza forum to an English audience with our Wish List article “Return to Wonderland”.

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The noise continued for several months on magicforum, Disney Central Plaza and beyond, as fans brought home pictures of the labyrinth’s desperate state in a desperate hope that someone at Disneyland Resort Paris would stumble upon the problem. We touched upon it again in our latest Wish List entry, “Priorities of paint”, charting the confusion of seeing unimportant areas repainted before the attraction that needs it most.

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Well, today we’ve got some exciting news via our partners. It appears the calls have been heard. Be it Bob Iger’s recent visit to the resort, the considerable noise from the fan community, a maintenance crew member suddenly discovering the problem, budget finally being made available or it just simply “being time”, the refurbishment is coming!!

To be exact, Alice’s Curious Labyrinth is now scheduled to close in September for ONE MONTH (an entire month!) to allow for a complete refurbishment. The source for this news, magicforum admin Kristof, also confirms that several brand new replacement props are already waiting backstage to be installed.

Forget your unbirthday, now this calls for a tea party!

[Pictures: DCP members]

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