Wednesday, 13th August 2008

Une autre ‘Aventure Magique’ – updated souvenir book and DVD released!

First, the new souvenir DVD, once again entitled “Une Aventure Magique” sports a new cover made up of a photoshop between Mickey and Minnie in their Tower of Terror grand opening costumes, the Tower of Terror itself and Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.

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Rather a give-away as to the contents, though, is the strap running along the bottom, announcing bonus exclusives for The Hollywood Tower Hotel, Stitch Live! and Toon Studio. Which would lead a cynical Disney fan to assume that their much-prized new, updated DVD is merely the same main film (featuring a boy who loses his camera, only to be taken on a “magical adventure” to find it) with a few extra video clips added.

Nevertheless, it sells for €19.90 and we’ll probably all buy it anyway, right?

Secondly, the new souvenir book is again mostly similar to the previous edition, with a similar updated cover and a few extra pages inside to cover the new attractions.

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As with previous editions, there are two copies available — French/Spanish/Italian and English/Dutch/German. It sells for a reasonable €7.90.

[Pictures: vrogui, DisneyGazette.fr forum]

Tuesday, 12th August 2008

Live music talent finally given its own times guide

Say a big thank you to Nicolas Gobin, the subject of our latest “behind-the-magic” Media Magic Interview. Because, not only has the resort’s Atmosphere Talent Manager brought live music back to the parks in a big way, he’s taken a future item off our Wish List by finally giving them their own proper showtimes guide!

Available now at Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios Park and the Disney Hotels, this brand new flyer presents the latest performance times for the resort’s live music talent.

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Download the original PDF version of the new flyer here (3.5Mb).

The design is colourful, clear and also surprisingly “extravagant” for the resort, using new graphics of musical intruments, new photos and even a proper logo in French and English for each act. Considering we’ve hardly even seen an official logo for Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, this is a job very, very well done.

Now, we can finally be right on-time to enjoy the five musical acts of the two Disney parks!

Click here to read the Media Magic Interview with Nicolas Gobin in full, about his history at Disneyland Resort Paris and how he came to introduce and manage the musical acts you see above »

[Flyer © Disney]

Tuesday, 12th August 2008

Progress slow at new Playhouse Disney

As it happens — and as you’ll no doubt see in the pictures below — not a lot.

But let’s begin with the latest slab of news from the Production Courtyard construction site that suggests something might be happening. Guigui on the French forum Disney Central Plaza has reported that the first new supports are in the process of going up behind the blue fences, news which is backed up — though unfortunately not yet in photos — by another member.

Mr.Freddy says it seems as if the supports could form some kind of arch, and that — somewhat bizarrely — this, the only visible sign of new construction, is quite far from the actual entrance to the attraction — which will be the former ‘Disney Channel CyberSpace’ post-show area, the production stage next to Stitch Live!‘s theatre.

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The photos below from just a few weeks ago show the general state of progress under and around the two sets of blue construction fences.

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One set is connected directly to the English-language queue area for Stitch Live!, and has attracted strong suggestions that this work could in fact be to extend the queue here, rather than add an entrance for Playhouse Disney: Live on Stage. You can see in the following pictures that the decorative metallic plates around the concrete canopy have been removed, as if it is about to be extended.

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Below, the view under the second set of fences at this revealed nothing more than weeds and remnants from the Studios’ past — un-themed CCTV cameras, anyone?

Since Playhouse Disney: Live on Stage is not due to officially open until the start of a new celebration in April 2009, the slow progress doesn’t need to be a worry. And as always, we can only imagine what has happened inside the building, by now…

[Pictures: DLRP Today.com, 16/07/08]

Tuesday, 12th August 2008

200,000,000th guest arrives!

Imagine the scene… it’s just any regular morning at Disneyland Park. You walk through Fantasia Gardens at a brisk pace, deciding where you’re going to head first. You get your park ticket ready for the turnstile and step under Disneyland Hotel to the entrance gates.

But, when you put your ticket into the machine and step through, you’re surrounded by confetti, cheering, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Disney officials and a giant placard proclaiming you as the 200,000,000th (200 millionth) guests!

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Today, Tuesday 12th August 2008, exactly that happened. The Yernaux family from Salon de Provence in France were given the momentous accolade of being our European Disney resort’s 200 millionth guests!

After a festive welcome and photos with Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Euro Disney Vice President François Banon, they enjoyed an unforgettable day at the park littered with special exclusives and VIP experiences. This evening, they will enjoy a special dinner at Walt’s – An American Restaurant in Main Street, U.S.A. and have been upgraded to a suite in the brand new Empire State Club at Disney’s Hotel New York.

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With more than 14.5 million guests last year, fans with a calculator and a list of previous attendance records could well see that this occasion would soon arrive — as of 31st March 2008, overall attendance at the resort’s two parks totalled 194.1 million. And, as the Disney Hotels can now boast an occupancy rate of 89.3%, it all serves to confirm, 16 years on, that Disneyland Resort Paris is far and away the leading tourist destination in Europe.

The last attendance milestone, the 100 millionth guest, happened just 7 years ago in January 2001.

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Today’s 200 million barrier also gives us an update on attendance so far this year. With first half (from October 2007) attendance of 7 million, we can now add 5.9 million — so far — for the second half. This gives us 12.9 million guests through the gates in financial year 2008 so far and therefore only 1.6 million more needed between now and the end of the year on 30th September to keep a steady 14.5 million, last year’s attendance record.

By comparison, last year’s second half brought us an incredible 8.4 million visitors, the highest in the resort’s history. A successful final month-and-a-half could well allow the resort to beat last year’s record. Beating the elusive 15 million mark, however — the annual figure Disney originally wanted after the opening of Walt Disney Studios Park — remains as challenging as ever.

[Pictures © Disney]

Friday, 8th August 2008

Enchanted Fireworks’ not-so-happy ending

Because, though The Enchanted Fireworks began on 5th July this year with a flurry of brand new firework styles and some truly impressive “bangs” for a daily Disneyland Resort Paris fireworks show, the residents of this small town by the Marne river have done the Disneyland equivalent of politely banging on the wall by asking the pyrotechnic directors to hone-in the spectacular finale a little.

So, after one month of the original show, we’ve got a re-write. The result: A ‘Happy Ending’ that now consists more of an “encore” of styles seen earlier in the show, rather than those (for a daily show here) huge, plentiful bangs filling the sky.

The latest available video of the show clearly shows the changes (skip to 8mins):

Compare this with our video of the original finale (skip to 6:30mins):

The change is clear enough when you’ve seen the original, but otherwise probably doesn’t detract from the overall show. Many additional fireworks of a quieter style, bursting upwards from the ground rather than “banging” in the sky, have been added by the directors to ease the vibrations on Chessy’s eardrums.

Though you’d never know it visiting Disneyland Resort Paris by literally any means of transport (unless you were a hopeless navigator), the small town of Chessy nestles almost right behind Disneyland Park with its neighbour Montévrain, down a gradient toward the river, and has been vocal since the resort’s opening on the use of loud fireworks.

For fans of the show, and the resort, it’s refreshing to know that sixteen years later Disney are obviously still trying to gently nudge the limits of what they can do — even if they are pushed back again.

[Videos: remkove, DLRP Magic! Video; Lead picture: PhotosMagiques.com]

Thursday, 7th August 2008

WALL-E advertising and the words of WALL-E

What WALL-E lacks in his limited speech of synthetic sounds, beeps and whistles, he more than makes up for with a powerful message of caring for our planet. It’s not quite as overstated as a 90-minute power lecture from Al Gore, but it’s definitely there.

So, when you visit Backlot Express restaurant in Walt Disney Studios Park this Summer, you’re bound to feel more than a little guilty as you take your tray.

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Because, not only will you be picking up food in plastic wrapping and a drink from a plastic bottle you’ll likely throw away in a few minutes, the people in charge of the Buena Vista-Disneyland crossovers (yes, the same movie distribution/park crossovers that brought us the famous Disney Studio 1 billboard) have thoughtfully lined your tray with a large sheet of crisp white A3 paper.

On it, you’ll find an advertisement for WALL-E — featuring the robot presenting a windmill to his love, Eve — and a message to visit the Shutterbugs photo studio inside Disney Studio 1. Here, you can pose against the green-screen backdrop to be transplanted into the world of WALL-E for a souvenir photo.

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So first Buena Vista International ruined Studio 1, are they now going for the Earth?

It’s inevitable that a film with the agenda of WALL-E will come under fire for not practising what it preaches amongst the mountains of merchandise and marketing materials that need to be produced, but using literally tens of thousands of sheets of un-recycled paper to advertise it is rather an unfortunate decision. Luckily, Disneyland Resort Paris does claim to sort and recycle the vast majority of its waste, and has a very good record for doing so, but in this case did that waste need to exist in the first place?

On the opposite end of the AXIOM, the advertising for WALL-E in the park began with just three or four single posters outside Backlot Express, together seen by more people than these thousands of paper sheets put together. Even the guys at Walt Disney Records have given the film’s underlying message some thought — your soundtrack CD won’t arrive in a plastic case but with a cardboard wallet and paper booklet produced from 100% recycled materials.

Rather a more Earth-friendly way to do things, wouldn’t you have thought?

[Pictures: DLRP Today.com; WDSfans.com]

Thursday, 7th August 2008

Towers still exchanged on 2009 Calendar

The brand new souvenir calendar for 2009 is now available in the shops and boutiques of Disneyland Resort Paris! Every year, regular as clockwork, we get another one to add to our collection. From 2002, they featured the Earful Tower and Walt Disney Studios Park for the first time. Then, in 2008 — all change! The water tower landmark of the Studios replaced by its towering Hollywood Tower Hotel neighbour.

In 2009, the change remains in place, albeit with a more colourful new illustration:

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After all, you’re more likely to buy something with that fabulously-themed, thrilling, star attraction on it, than something with a simple water tower, right? Earful fans, have no fear, he’s still around as the “true” park icon, on tickets, maps, logos and so on, but there’s no arguing The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror‘s immediate status as an icon of Disneyland Resort Paris.

Inside, things remain almost equally unchanged. Many of the pictures are exactly the same as 2008, whilst some have simply switched around (compare July and August with your 2008 calendar, for example).

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Some of the more generic photos on the 2008 edition are replaced by new images for things like Stitch Live! and Toon Studio, whilst Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast is now represented by a visual from the Florida attraction (notice the stuck-down guns) rather than the old image of Buzz actually outside the Paris attraction.

It’s available now for €6.90, at least rather more economical to collect than pins, eh?

[Pictures: PhotosMagiques.com]

Thursday, 7th August 2008

Café Cafés – blending art deco and contemporary?

Café Cafés, the oddly-titled new coffee shop fashioned out of the enclosed former terrace of Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant, is just about ready to open its doors!

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Well, it would if it had any. With construction fences now removed, we can see for ourselves what the designers and Nescafé sponsors have managed to create out of this relatively small semi-circular edge of the building.

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Indeed, there are no doors, rather a large opening cut perfectly into the old glass-brick wall, leading into a covered area with a large serving counter. Decorated with (likely faux) mahogany panels and given a metallic trim, the counter already houses a display case for pastries and cakes, with several menu boards ready and waiting up above. If you were a new park visitor, you’d probably assume it was here all along.

The counter itself appears curiously similar to the on-ride photo desk at the exit of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. Nevertheless, there has always been a slight cross-over between the neons of Discoveryland and the neon Art Deco of Production Courtyard, allowing the same circular, ringed edges to feel at home here.

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Inside — yes, there will be an “inside”! — the floor has been replaced with a continuation of the more durable patio stones from outside.  Tables and chairs similar to those in the new Café Mickey terrace have already arrived and the walls and ceiling have been painted a colourful lilac. Unfortunately, it’s here that signs of the modern-day world begin to creep in rather more noticeably than if this were a true Imagineering project.

The hanging smoked-glass lights blend contemporary with Art Deco well, but a second type of lighting — a large coffee bean-styled piece of smoked glass embedded with halogen lights — seems like it could be taking the balance a little too far in the wrong direction.

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Very visible speakers, identical to those which still plague La Terrasse, are also here, along with a long horizontal heater for those many cold days in this very open-to-the-elements area. The general layout seems to put the new location in the same category as Victoria’s Home-Style Restaurant, only with a less “home-style” environment. It’s “functional”, rather than “immersive” or “themed”, and certainly less than we’ve become used to from sponsors such as Coca-Cola and Perrier recently.

When you’re sipping your flavoured coffee, gazing out across the courtyard, will you care? Well, the experience likely won’t be quite as memorable as a coffee at Disneyland Park’s Cable Car Bake Shop, but it will finally give Walt Disney Studios Park a fifth indoor eatery.

Only the fifth, and only just “indoor”…? Make that a black coffee.

[Pictures: WDSfans.com]

Wednesday, 6th August 2008

End of 15th Anniversary set for 7th March 2009

It began 493 days ago. The 15th Anniversary Celebration of Disneyland Resort Paris has certainly rolled on for longer than we all expected — being extended for another year as it was with ‘The Celebration Continues’ — but, as the final end date has now been announced, it’s a worrying concept.

No more Disney Characters’ Express, no more Candleabration. No more Lumière banners at every turn or ’15s’ on everything in sight. We are now really, truly in the home straight on this epic — and, we have to say, wonderful — celebration.

The date it all ends, as confirmed by the latest Autumn/Winter 2008/09 official brochure: 7th March 2009.

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What will happen in the parks that day? Nothing is announced yet. It’s the days after, those three lonely weeks before the start of a new season in April 2009, that will be the most interesting.

Disneyland Resort Paris certainly feels to have settled nicely into its 15th Anniversary overlay, and so removing every tiny mention of the celebration — from merchandise through to advertising and all those napkins, cups and decorations between — will be a big task.

What won’t be removed? Well, unsurprisingly the expensive and incredibly popular Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade is here to stay. And don’t expect the Casey Jr. train and character meet ‘n’ greets of Disney Characters’ Express to go far. The concept of a main show on Central Plaza is also ready and waiting to be used again.

But, for the 15th Anniversary Celebration as we’ve known and loved it for so long, that we watched grow from those first logos and concepts through to the incredible launch night fireworks, time is running out.

You’ve got just 7 months exactly to “live your dream”, one last time…

[Images © Disney]

Tuesday, 5th August 2008

FASTPASS and Crush, the (inevitable) return!

We reported the introduction of a second crush at Crush’s Coaster in Walt Disney Studios Park with the testing of FASTPASS tickets for one week in July. Then, we gave it an analysis so thorough that even Jaque’s Boat Cleaners would be proud. Ultimately, we accepted that the introduction of some kind of FASTPASS system at the popular yet capacity-starved attraction might just be inevitable — if only to stop the tide of complaints and questions from confused, queueing guests.

And the operations managers of Disneyland Resort Paris? They’re not quite so sure. Which is why, from 18th to 24th August 2008, the full FASTPASS tests will return again!

This information comes from member Chti Greg on Disney Central Plaza forum, who provided the original forewarning of the July tests — and just happens to work as a cast member on the attraction itself.

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So, if you’re headed to Marne-la-Vallée’s little piece of the Australian reef this month, you might just be able to test the timeslot system for yourself. Yes, that’s important — test it.

Operations are apparently just as hesitant about adding FASTPASS full-time as the fans who complain it will cripple the attraction’s regular queue. So, they’ll have another chance to test it fully again and perhaps, just perhaps, convince themselves once and for all that it will or won’t work full-time.

[Pictures: DLRP Today]

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