Tuesday, 5th August 2008

Nightmare before Halloween – preview the Jack Skellington and Sally characters

Boys and girls of every age, wouldn’t you like to see something strange?

As confirmed by the official Disney’s Halloween Festival 2008 press release, two special gruesome guests will be awaiting us on Boot Hill next to Phantom Manor this October — the “pumpkin king” Jack Skellington and his stitched-up ragdoll love Sally.

But how will the park turn these classic stop-motion animation characters into real-life, human-sized meet ‘n’ greet characters? For our answer, we need only to look to Hong Kong. Here, last Halloween at the mouse-sized Hong Kong Disneyland, the world got its first regular, daily glimpse of the official Disney character versions of these two nightmarish stars, previously confined to rare “press event-only” status in the US.

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Jack Skellington wears his trademark white-striped suit and giant spider bow-tie, with oversized skeletal hands and a large skull head with blacked-out eye sockets. The head is less round than the stop-motion original, the eye sockets more drawn-out and taller — mostly to allow that real, living human head to fit inside.

If you think this interpretation of Jack Skellington is a success, wait ’till you see Sally — covered from head to toe in a lifeless, limp blue colour, she has electric red hair and stitches patched across her face and limbs.

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Picture: santasock, Flickr

Her dress is like a large patchwork quilt, just like in the film, and the only part of her body that seems alive are her lips — in a brilliant, full red.

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Picture: santasock, Flickr

The two characters will make their Western debut at Disneyland Resort Paris on 4th October 2008, appearing at Boot Hill as well as in the main Halloween pre-parade.

[Pictures: Flickr members; © Disney]

Tuesday, 5th August 2008

Pin Trading August 2008 releases

The only two general releases for the month are as follows:

Saturday, 30th August 2008

Mushu 2008
Reference number 209401008071
Price 6.00 Euros

Walt Disney Series No. 4: Snow White
Reference number 209501008027
Limited Edition x900
Price 11.90 Euros

But the major happening will be the Pin Trading Day on Saturday, 30th August. This not only involves special trading areas and meet-ups organised just for pin traders, but –usually — the giving away of a free pin and display board at the park entrance. Then, you’re free to collect around five or six other pins — each available in a set boutique around the park — to complete the set.

Just arrive at the park on 30th August to take part! But be sure to get there early — the special exclusive pins will only be on sale from 9:00am to 12:00pm.

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Thursday, 31st July 2008

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties arrive!

We’ve known the frights of Disney’s Halloween Party for over 10 years now. The special “hard-ticket” event begin in 1997 and has continued to bring a more adult, eerie and frightening evening of entertainment to Disneyland Park every year since on 31st October — occasionally with additional dates.

Now, as Disney’s Halloween Festival enters its second decade of events in Paris, the entertainment directors are planning their biggest shake-up of the after-hours parties yet. You might have already heard the rumours earlier this year, but if not, we’ll announce it for you — Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties are coming to Paris!

This will be a brand new, extra ticketed event for Disneyland Park playing across three Fridays (10th, 17th and 24th) and one Tuesday (28th) in October 2008. Though the name comes directly from our friends over at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida’s Magic Kingdom park, the event in Paris will be entirely different and, at least for its first year, quite a bit more intimate. There will be no Boo-to-You Parade or Hallowishes fireworks, the name is, in fact, the only similarity.

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Official advertisement visual.

Central to the occasion will be Fantasyland, made over with special decorations and illuminations, welcoming you not only to almost all its attractions but exclusive new shows, entertainments and character meets throughout the land.

Here’s the full press release:

NEW: Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

This year, Disneyland Resort Paris will host 4 brand new parties at Disneyland® Park during the month of October 2008 for younger guests who like to dress up and want to celebrate Halloween with Disney Characters.

The Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties welcome families for an evening in Fantasyland® dressed up as Halloween for the occasion. Fantasyland will have a special décor giving an unusual atmosphere with exclusive night time shows, and roguish Disney Characters and Jack Sparrow, new music, and Streetmosphere and many other surprises.

Guests will sing, dance and laugh with Merlin and the four surprising witches: Minnie, Lilo, Daisy and Clarice in the castle courtyard and will enjoy the final Halloween happening at the end of the evening.

Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey, Le Carrousel de Lancelot, Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, ‘it’s a small world’, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Pirates of the Carribean will be open.

The Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties will run from 8.00pm to 11.00pm. (Dates: October, 10 … 17 … 24 … 28, 2008) and the Parties ticket holders can benefit of entering the Park as early as 5.pm.

**Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties tickets will be available at 25€ for adult and children (free for children under 3 years old). Attendance is limited for these events in order to ensure premium experience, we recommend to buy tickets in advance on www.disneylandparis.com or to call + 33 1 60 30 60 53

The idea is to tap into some of those brand new younger guests now visiting Disneyland Resort Paris in greater numbers thanks to the long-running “Kids Under 7 Stay & Play FREE” promotion of the 15th Anniversary years. The target age will therefore be 4 to 7 year olds, with these Fantasyland attractions and friendlier characters chosen to suit. The party also therefore ends a little earlier than that of the 31st October, at 11pm, and stays within Fantasyland for the duration.

However, with the promise of special entertainments created just for these four parties, not to mention new costumes for many of the characters and the chance to enjoy Fantasyland and Pirates of the Caribbean at night — likely under the glow of special illuminations — it should be a welcome new addition to the Disneyland Resort Paris calendar for even the oldest fans.

Tickets are available to book now via your local Disneyland Resort Paris hotline.

[Images © Disney]

Wednesday, 30th July 2008

Horrors new and old for Halloween 2008

Here it is, the press release in full. We’ll be introducing Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Parties in a separate article, and be sure to read below for a full re-cap of the news and much more information…

Disney’s Halloween Festival at Disneyland Resort Paris

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The logo — for just one more year…

Marne la Vallée, July, 2008, from October 4, 2008 to November 2, 2008, guests are invited to discover the unmissable colourful Halloween season in Disneyland® Park that will be full of surprises.

During the month long celebration, Disneyland Park will offer a range of new Halloween entertainment to make the whole family scream with laughter. The spirit of Halloween is up for grabs for the delight of all, Pumpkin Men and Ladies will lead the fest which takes place on Main Street, U.S.A., Central Plaza and Frontierland®, transformed in Halloweenland for the occasion. And for the first time Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties in Fantasyland and not forgetting the now famous Halloween Party on October 31st.

Halloween invades Main Street, U.S.A.®

Guests, entering Disneyland Park, will discover a ‘˜spook … tacular’ Main Street, U.S.A., covered with blotches of orange paint left behind by the Pumpkin Men and Ladies.

The Disney Villains’ Halloween Showtime presented by Minnie dressed in Halloween fashion line and surrounded by Pumpkin Men and Ladies will take place several times daily on Central Plaza, followed by a giant ‘Meet’N’Greet’ with Disney Villains.

The Halloween Disney Characters’ Express will several times daily go back and forth on Main Street, U.S.A. with beloved Disney Characters on.

The Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade which features famous moments from the most beloved Disney stories ever, will be preceded by a special Halloween pre parade featuring the Disney Villains, Pumpkin Citizens and for the first time, Tim Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas characters Jack Skellington and his friend Sally.

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New advertising graphics.

Halloweenland: the heart of this scary, good humoured celebration

Once through the gateway of Fort Comstock a walk along Halloweenland’s pathway will offer guests loads of surprises.

There will be regular shows on the Trick or Treat stage:

‘¢ Minnie & the Bat Boys will appear with live music and a host of singing classic Disney Villain songs.
‘¢ Goofy and the Magic Pot, an exhilarating and energetic show where children can learn to make pumpkin soup and dance alongside Goofy himself!

At the Phantom Manor boot hill cemetery, guests may meet Jack the skeleton and his friend Sally, from Nightmare before Christmas.

Children will enjoy the traditional Halloween Piñata for the chance to grab some sweet treats several times daily.

Disney’s Halloween Party in Disneyland® Park*

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New image to advertise the Halloween Party.

On the night of Halloween, Disneyland Resort Paris lets all the friendly ghosts in for a special Halloween Party from 8.30pm to 1.00am in Disneyland Park. Night owls in their most spectrrrraaaaacular costumes can enjoy family friendly and ghostly nights filled with fun and laughter.

As always guests will be able to experience a wide variety of Halloween entertainment:

‘¢ The Disney®’s Fantillusion Parade, where the world of darkness meets the enchanted world in a fantastic twilight spectacular
‘¢ A Special Fireworks display with the fangtangulous backdrop of Sleeping Beauty Castle
‘¢ Spooktackular Stage Shows on the Trick or Treat Stage (Halloweenland) and The Disney Villains’ Halloween Showtime in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle
‘¢ A Spooky DJ Party on Main Street, U.S.A

*Disney’s Halloween Party ticket will be available at 29€ .On October 31, 2008 attendance is limited in order to ensure premium experience, we recommend to buy tickets in advance on www.disneylandparis.com or to call +33 1 60 30 60 53. The Party ticket holders can benefit of entering the Park as early as 5.pm. The Party can be modified, or cancelled without prior notice, notably for inclement weather.

This is Halloween, this is Halloween! Let’s begin with the most interesting announcement of it all — real, live meet ‘n’ greet versions of Jack Skellington and Sally will be arriving on Boot Hill next to Phantom Manor for the duration of the festival! These characters have never before been featured in Paris, and only officially debuted for the first time at Hong Kong Disneyland last year.

The ongoing, if not elevating, popularity of Tim Burton’s stop-motion classic can be seen at the resort even today by the amount of merchandise both being sold, bought and worn around the parks.

Phantom Manor will not be getting an overlay in the style of the ‘Haunted Mansion Holiday’ from California and Tokyo, but the Nightmare Before Christmas theme will certainly become a strong part of the Halloween Festival, as the couple pop up again in the pre-parade of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade. The new daytime parade will again not be made-over for the festival as the park’s old parade was, as the entertainment directors stick to a short cavalcade to precede the event and keep the popular parade intact.

One element of the 15th Anniversary that WILL be given a makeover this year, however, is Disney Characters’ Express, now to be known as the Halloween Disney Characters’ Express with special decorations and rather more villainous characters on-board.

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Stitch leaves, new villains arrive, Minnie gets a new outfit.

Last year’s popular new Disney Villains’ Halloween Showtime event on the Central Plaza Stage will also be expanded with a couple of new villains — Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas and Shan-Yu from Mulan.

Besides this, the festival looks remarkably similar to last year. Minnie and the Bat Boys and Goofy and the Magic Cauldron return to the Trick or Treat Stage next to Cowboy Cookout Barbeque, as does the long-running Halloween Pinata. Even Disney’s Halloween Party on 31st October sounds like it might, for once, remain quite similar to the previous year.

As for decorations, on reading the press release you’d be forgiven even those will be the same — Main Street again overrun by orange “Pumpkin Men” and Frontierland turned into Halloweenland. But here’s the big news: This year, those Pumpkin Men will arriving on their own. The Pink Witches, including their live character forms and all decorations (such as those unpopular cauldrons near Fuente del Oro Restaurante) are GONE.

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Goodbye, good riddance…

In addition, Stitch’s very short-lived invasion of the event is now well and truly over, as the resort seeks to refine his presence to the new Stitch Live! attraction over at Walt Disney Studios Park. In place of these two, for 2008 we will instead be welcoming the Pumpkin Men in much greater numbers — and, as you read above, Pumpkin Ladies too.

Reports suggest that brand new decorations will be created, in a much more “Disney” style. Both Mickey and Minnie will also apparently wear brand new costumes, in rich deep purple, orange and green colours. Finally, everything will again be focused on Disneyland Park — no expansion whatsoever of the festival into Walt Disney Studios Park is planned.

The directors are taking the entire concept back to a more focused, classical approach — and continuing to develop the “Disney” presence in the festival at the same time.

[Pictures & Images: © Disney, by DLRP Magic.com and Photos Magiques]

— Disney’s Halloween Festival kicks off on 4th October and continues until 2nd November 2008. Keep your devilish stare and scrawny face pointed right here on DLRP Today.com for more news…

Wednesday, 30th July 2008

FASTPASS and Crush, unworkable or inevitable?

Some called “Hurrah”, others called “Horror”. For Disneyland Resort Paris, this is just about the debate of the last twelve months — should Crush’s Coaster offer FASTPASS?

First, the arguments. If you’re a pro-FASTPASS visitor, you might be shocked at just how strongly some people feel against the system. Here is a way to let people spend the time they would be standing in a line enjoying themselves elsewhere in the park. You get your ticket, return at the time, and are guaranteed a shorter wait. Sounds pretty great all-round.

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Capacity issues

The big issue, that anyone against the system will tell you, is this: FASTPASS does not add capacity. It sounds obvious, but many — particularly those “everyday” guests in the parks — assume that if an attraction has FASTPASS it can, somehow, automatically accept a much greater number of people through its turnstiles every hour. Of course, not true.

What happens is that, whilst the flow of people through the FASTPASS queue is regulated and steady in accordance with the attraction’s actual capacity per hour (or throughput) thanks to the timeslots, the people deciding to join the regular queue can end up waiting longer.

“But it’s not our problem, they could have got a ticket too” you could say. True, they could — but not everyone can. Usually it’s only between 40 and 50% of all the guests going through an attraction each day. There will, always, be a vast majority who have to grin and bear the queue if they’re to get on-board.

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“Well then, why not make the attraction FASTPASS-only, so that everyone needs a ticket?”. Sure, that would guarantee you a ride with a guaranteed shorter wait, but here you threaten to destroy completely the logistics and operation of an entire Disney theme park.

Disneyland in California learnt this to its peril in the early 2000s, when the much-maligned old management seemingly added it to everything in sight, answering the call of unknowing guests and hoping for significant increases in food and merchandise sales as people waited.

How much is too much?

In fact, those increases failed to materialise, because when you get a FASTPASS ticket you rarely think “right, now let’s go spend some money whilst waiting” — usually, you still want to actually ride an attraction.

Case in point — during the tests at Crush’s Coaster, the normally-sedate Flying Carpets Over Agrabah suddenly began to accumulate queues of between 75 and 90 minutes every day (equalling the Coaster itself), as guests grabbed a ticket and then went straight to the first nearby attraction.

With FASTPASS tickets in everyone’s hands, the walkways become crowded to the extent where the park capacity actually decreases, things become worn before time and complaints actually rise.

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Surprisingly, it seems it is in Disney’s interest to keep you IN the queues, so that more people can get into the park and more people have a good time. In the end, the new management in California removed FASTPASS from “it’s a small world”, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Tours and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh — and it still remains at no less than 8 attractions there.

It’s not all bad — the system can work great on attractions that are designed with it in mind, or built with a big enough capacity that they can easily cope with both ticket holders and regular queuers. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, with its two huge loading floors, is a good example. Similarly, Space Mountain: Mission 2‘s two platforms mean that trains can be “prepared” in advance so that the throughput of trains stays steady and right up to the maximum capacity.

And now we arrive here — Crush’s Coaster. The E-Ticket that isn’t.

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Joining the Crush

For all intents and purposes, this attraction IS considered by guests to be as important as Big Thunder Mountain or The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It’s a classic Disney “weenie” as you step toward Toon Studio, it’s a roller coaster, it’s based on the most successful animated movie ever made and it’s a LOT of fun. But it also has a capacity of just 960 people per hour, and that’s with turtle shells filled right up with 4 people departing regular as clockwork every 15 seconds.

Crush’s Coaster was never meant to be such an important attraction in the fabric of the park. But, whilst Toon Studio waits for its real high-capacity E-Ticket, it is always going to be. On this one, Imagineering simply struck gold with an idea and didn’t realise before it was too late.

The comparisons to Peter Pan’s Flight across the way are spot on — a popular film, a great concept, with a low capacity and ‘E-Ticket’ status that wasn’t intended. Part of this, interestingly, seems to come from the conclusion of guests that FASTPASS equals a must-see attraction.

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The only way to truly solve the Crush at Crush would be to build a second track for the coaster — which won’t happen. Or perhaps to build a second loading platform inside, to make sure its’ throughput stays steady — which won’t happen. Short of demolishing it (which again, won’t happen), FASTPASS begins to look like a good option. And that’s what the regular park guests think, too.

Questions and answers

If you’re reading this between the hours of 10am and 7pm, we can guarantee unquestionably that right now, in Walt Disney Studios Park, a Cast Member will be being asked “does Crush’s Coaster have FASTPASS?” or “why doesn’t Crush’s Coaster have FASTPASS?”. Maybe someone will even be making a complaint at Studio Services.

So now we find the real reason for these tests — they’re never going to make 100% of people happy with the situation at Crush’s Coaster, but if they can make 40% of people happy — and then tell the rest that “yes, we do offer FASTPASS, but they’ve all gone, it’s very popular, sorry”, then that seems to show, to these people, that Disneyland Resort Paris are trying to handle the situation.

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In that sense, it almost seems inevitable. Hand out around 3,000 FASTPASS tickets each morning, and that’s 3,000 happy guests that otherwise would have faced a grumpy 90-minute wait. Cast Members finally have the ability to say the system IS offered, but all gone for the day.

It seems like a good solution, but there’s bound to be a negative somewhere… The 5,500 other guests who can ride the attraction each day, perhaps? Not only are they now waiting for slightly longer than before (since people pick up a FASTPASS who might not have otherwised bothered to ride at all), but they’re in a queue with fewer people and having to watch 30-or-so giddy FASTPASS riders walk right by every few minutes. So, for the “other 60%”, it begins to look less appetising.

And of course, we shouldn’t forget that for the recent tests Crush’s Coaster effectively commandeered the FASTPASS machines of its neighbour, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah. Not only does this throw off a little the themed environments Disney usually promotes, now the Cast Members at the actual entrance have to just replace their “there’s no FASTPASS, sorry” with “yes, FASTPASS is right over there”.

Workable or manageable

If the system is ever offered permanetly at the attraction, surely a more workable solution for the tickets would be needed? Unfortunately, the area around the attraction has been limited terribly by the original design. The entrance is often a bottleneck that could give even the area in front of Big Thunder Mountain a run for its money.

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The area is so cramped, that the regular queue line practically never fits within its original boundary, running away around the palm trees in front of Flying Carpets, or even extending across Toon Studio in the mornings. The queue line itself isn’t anywhere near big enough, with the look and appeal of a sandy cattlepen. Many would agree it could do with having a touch more in common with the colourful, interesting, palm-filled entrance of the attraction.

Perhaps, rather than making guests’ wait for the attraction more enjoyable by giving them a return FASTPASS ticket, the answer could be to make their wait more enjoyable in the actual queue line?

[Pictures: DLRP Today.com]

Note: Several pictures were taken on a day in August 2007 when it was announced in advance that the attraction would be closed for maintenance, used here since the lack of guests gives a better look at the true amount of space around the attraction.

Tuesday, 29th July 2008

FASTPASS tests Crush’s Coaster, for one week only

It’s the morning after Bastille Day, the date: 15th July 2008. As guests made their way into Walt Disney Studios Park, rushing off toward Crush’s Coaster as quickly as possible, they were met with a sudden, unexpected dilemma — queue up, as normal… or get a FASTPASS ticket.

Overnight, the overwhelmingly popular spinning roller coaster in Toon Studio became the proud owner of its very own FASTPASS system — courtesy of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah.

Had over a year of complaints and requests from guests, not to mention the short-lived tests earlier this year, finally caused operations to cave in and add the advance timeslot system to the low-capacity attraction? Not quite.

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From the outset, these tests had a specific start and end date — 15th to 21st July, one week only. For the set-up, new, flat signage was placed above the Flying Carpets Over Agrabah FASTPASS return times, reading “Crush’s Coaster Fastpass Tickets Distribution” in the colours and style of the attraction. To the left, the Flying Carpets Over Agrabah logo itself was covered over by an arrow pointing specifically to this attraction’s slightly displaced entrance.

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Original sign (15th July) / Altered sign (16th July onwards)

Join the queue, and you’d discover the machines looked exactly the same as always. Look upwards, and the changes begin. No longer were the times ticking very slowly by as they would with the old Flying Carpets tickets — now, you’d see the timeslots cycling through up to every 30 SECONDS, right before your eyes.

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The morning “crush” at Crush’s Coaster was effectively split in two for the week, with guests rushing out of Disney Studio 1 to join either the regular line or the FASTPASS distribution. Eventually, the two rather awkwardly met right in the middle of Toon Studio, and trailed back further, side-by-side!

We’ve got a videoclip of the two queues meeting, which we’ve set to some music from Finding Nemo itself for some added amusement… is there a FASTPASS for the FASTPASS distribution yet??

Finally get to the front, and you’ll become the proud owner of the closest thing to Disney gold-dust — a real, printed Crush’s Coaster fastpass ticket!

Unlike the tests earlier this year, this week-long trial attempted to test the system as fully as possible, so the tickets were authentic and customised to the attraction.

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And when you returned to the attraction at your set time, how was that experience?

The entrance, fresh from other recent changes, was roped off into two distinct lines — one headed by a Cast Member checking FASTPASS tickets and allowing guests through (though only every few minutes, not constantly), the other, as usual, stretching off to the right right around the palm tree ‘Oasis’ area.

The themed sign seen earlier this year, pointing out the two lines, had returned for the occasion.

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Pass the Cast Member, and you’d be walking down the first part of the line, divided in two, until you reach the turnstiles and beach hut. Here, your FASTPASS would be taken by a second Cast Member and you’d turn immediately left to join the queue at the entrance to Studio 5 — as the hoard of waiting guests in the regular queue area stared intently. Rather than being mixed naturally, their queue was completely halted as a new group of FASTPASS guests were allowed entry every few minutes.

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Photo: Chris500, Disney Central Plaza forum

From here, you’d have a wait of around 15-20 minutes before you’re on-board a turtle shell and speeding around the EAC.

Back outside, and would you be thinking of getting another ticket? You’d have had to think again — all tickets were completely gone on every day of the test before even 12:30pm, such the demand and limited number made available. With a poor hourly capacity of around 900 to 1,000 guests, 40% of this was reportedly made available as FASTPASS tickets — that’s just 30 tickets per each specific timeslot.

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Maybe you’d have wanted to queue up in the regular line to enjoy the attraction again? Would the wait really be as horrific as you’d expect when 40% of the capacity is eaten up by the FASTPASS system? Not quite — the queue time indicator appeared to stay relatively steady at 75 to 90 minutes throughout the week. With the ticketing system in place, you were basically waiting the same length of time with fewer people in the queue.

Several members on the French forum Disney Central Plaza have also reported that the operations team intended to test several changes to the system throughout the week, such as increasing or decreasing the amount of tickets given out or even staggering their distribution throughout the day — an initial load at 10am and another at 2pm, for example.

Now that the tests are over, the signage put back to normal and the extra queue line gone, however, there is no word about when or even if the system will return. Was this a test that ran its course and gave the operations and Imagineers the research they needed, or is it something that could be rolled out whenever park capacity reaches a peak?

As always… watch this space.

Or, if you’d like to be a little more involved, vote in our Question of the Week — simply asking “Should FASTPASS return permanently to Crush’s Coaster?”. If you can’t make your mind up, don’t worry — remain seated with your hands, arms, feet and legs inside the website, because we’ve got a full analysis of all the pros and cons of FASTPASS at Crush coming right up…

Update: You can now read the follow-up analysis to this article here.

[Pictures & Video: DLRP Today.com]

Tuesday, 29th July 2008

Goofy new bellhop joins the ranks at Tower

If you’ve had a chance to look through the merchandise at Tower Hotel Gifts yet, you’ll know that Disney characters dressed up in the recognisable maroon uniforms of the Hollywood Tower Hotel bellhops are more than just slightly popular. But so far, we’ve never been able to meet… a life-size one.

Step up to the elevator doors, Goofy! Disney’s infamous disaster zone is undoubtedly the perfect fit for the accident-prone hotel, now arriving every day this Summer next to the dried-up fountain for photos and autographs with his fans — in the full Tower of Terror costume.

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“Aw gawwsh, which way is the hotel again?!”

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Pins, plushes, T-shirts and more have all been dedicated to Disney characters dressed as bellhops over the years at the other two Hollywood Tower Hotels in California and Florida. Never before though, has one worn the costume for real. Another “petit exclu” for Walt Disney Studios Park!

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Though times are not published in advance, you should be able to find Bellhop Goofy to the left of the attraction entrance every afternoon at the Studios, with appearances often right up until the park closing time of 7pm.

[Pictures: DLRP Today.com]

Tuesday, 29th July 2008

Molly Brown growing greens again

On a sunny day in the height of Summer, crowds bustling around the walkways, a calm breeze in the air, there’s no better place to be at Disneyland Resort Paris than aboard one of the riverboats.

However, fans will know all too well that the stories surrounding one of these two majestic ships could compete even with those of her namesake — Molly Brown. We learnt in March 2005 that this unsinkable grand dame was not immune to an engine overheating, and, as she sat paralysed in the middle of the river for well over six months, we learnt she was also at the mercy of the legendary Marne-la-Vallée weather.

Jump forward to June 2007, however, and we were heralding her return with a triumphant comeback article speaking of the lengthy refurbishment and bright new coat of paint all over. Now, in Summer 2008, how is she looking?

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Generally, quite good. But look closer, and you see the cracks beginning to show again — or rather, things growing in them.

Because, whilst Molly Brown still looks bright and clean enough from her refurbishment in 2007, a steady collection of weeds growing out of her inner side could suggest it’s time for another quick refresh.

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Whilst paint needs repainting, weeds just need pulling. The majority of them grow from the cover around her side-wheel paddle, but also from the edge of her lower deck, on the side which faces toward Big Thunder Mountain, away from Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing — but too far for a maintenance crew to reach? Apparently so.

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Unfortunately, they aren’t even unique to the side of this riverboat which faces away from the mainland. Look at the photo below left, and the first plant life on her other side is also beginning to grow.

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Climb aboard Molly Brown and you’ll probably never notice, we know, we know. Although it does seem even her on-board commentary now needs a little refresh too — Old Joe’s dog disappeared from his fishing pier many months ago, and now it seems Old Joe is missing too, though his fishing line remains!

It’s just a shame for riverboat fans that, in this case, that old “if it’s broken: don’t fix it, remove it” motto that plagued the resort in the early part of this decade doesn’t apply to simply pulling a few weeds. Don’t miss the boat again, Disney — nip it in the bud.

[Photos: DLRP Today.com]

Tuesday, 29th July 2008

Have a one-on-one with Chef Rémy, the living character from Ratatouille

Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant may well still be the highest class restaurant at Walt Disney Studios Park, and only a buffet restaurant at that, but this Summer it gained one significant selling-point that is sure to win over even the most stubborn critic — a new chef.

The Stitch Phone, Lucky the Dinosaur, Turtle Talk with Crush, Muppet Mobile Lab, Stitch Encounter and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor… It’s funny to think that Walt Disney Imagineer’s latest creation has arrived exclusively at this humble Production Courtyard eatery, just a few metres from their last installation — Stitch Live!.

Now, since the Imagineers have stayed true to the film, Chef Rémy doesn’t talk directly to you — he merely squeaks. But, as this cute little Audio-Animatronic sways from side-to-side to the tune of “La Vie en Rose” (also note the Pixar connection to WALL-E) or even jabs his pointed nose left and right to a modern disco song, your heart will melt…

Rémy is not only the exact, perfect size he should be, the Imagineers have clearly used the actual computer models from Pixar incredibly well.

Look closely at his face, the drawn-out body and particularly his eyes, and this is almost as good as stepping inside their computers alongside the real thing.

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Only Disney and Pixar could create a turn of events that has them pushing a rat on a trolley around the tables in a restaurant, to smiles of delight from guests…

Could it be a test for the rumoured future Ratatouille attraction in Toon Studio? Perhaps. What it does prove is that Walt Disney Imagineering can create incredibly small, life-like animatronics that hold up remarkably well to close viewing.

We aren’t zooming by this one on a mad-dash dark ride or splashing by on a boat with plenty else to distract us. Chef Rémy is there, on the platter in front of us, with kids getting as close as possible, right up to his face, and he still seems real.

Real and incredibly cute.

[Pictures & Video: DLRP Today.com]

— The video above is also available to download via the DLRP Magic! Video Podcast.

Monday, 28th July 2008

Spot Cruella de Vil on Hollywood Blvd!

Since Monday 14th July, fans visiting Walt Disney Studios Park have been in for a big surprise. Imagine seeing the distant glisten of a classic motorcar passing by Beverley Court, turning the corner at Deluxe Travel Agency and parking up at the Franklin Department Store.

Before you’ve even had time to pick your jaw up off the ground, out steps a snarling Cruella De Vil… perhaps a spot of shopping in Hollywood will cheer her up? Blast! She’s been attacked by the park-guest-paparazzi already!

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The black Cadillac has been decorated all over with white spots — why, because a white car would clash terribly with Miss De Vil’s own outfit! She steps out to sign autographs and pose for pictures for around 20 minutes before driving off up the boulevard and turning left along Vine Street, in front of The Hollywood Tower Hotel. The car then leaves the park to the left of CinéMagique.

Whilst many guests clamour and rush for a picture with Cruella, an equal amount take a step back to admire the car itself — and the sudden extra touch of life it adds to Hollywood Boulevard.

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There’s even a little Hidden Mickey on there…

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We’ve also compiled a video with a few clips of Cruella meeting guests, but mostly — that snazzy car driving around the Boulevard…

Cruella de Vil is scheduled to appear on Hollywood Boulevard on most days this Summer (until 31st August). Though times aren’t posted in advance anywhere, look out for her at around 10.30am, 11.30am or 12.30pm — and ask nicely for that photograph!

Several magicforum members have already met the immaculately-dressed villain. Upon seeing the fur coat of MinniesBestPal, Cruella was suddenly appauled to find out… it wasn’t real!

[Pictures & Video: DLRP Today.com]

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