Sunday, 18th January 2009

Bolt premiere brings stars both familiar and furry

For some time it would be second nature for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in France to ignore the huge, we’d say wonderful, slice of the Disney empire right on their doorstep, instead premiereing all the latest Disney releases in Paris itself. Since The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, however, we’ve seen a pleasant change of direction — the stars are coming back to Disneyland.

Yesterday evening, it was the turn of Disney’s latest CGI feature. Bolt, an acting dog who plays the lead character in a hit spy TV series, thinks the “action” is all entirely real. In setting out to continue fighting crime after the director calls “cut”, he loses his owner and goes on a wild pan-American trip home with the help of an unwilling cat, , and one of his biggest fans — the scene-stealing Rhino the hamster.

As with most Disney animations, the characters have a whole new cast of voices in France — no John Travolta, Miley Cyrus or — ehm — Mark Walton (the story artist who ended up playing Rhino) heard here. In Lightning/Flash McQueen fashion, the film itself even has a different, though very similar title — Bolt becomes ‘Volt, Star Malgre Lui’.

However, there is still much for those of us not from France to get excited about — both directors of the film, Bryon Howard and Chris Williams, are at Disneyland Resort Paris this weekend to celebrate the premiere, along with modern Disney/Pixar icon John Lasseter himself.

The official photos are out already, let’s take a look:

Bolt 3D premiere
John Lasseter with the new character Bolt — yes, his tag has kept the English name

Bolt 3D premiere Bolt 3D premiere
Left: Mittens the cat joins John Lasseter and Bolt
Right: Richard Anconina, the French voice of Bolt (France’s John Travolta..?)

Bolt 3D premiere Bolt 3D premiere
Left: Gilles Lellouche, French voice of Rhino the hamster, joins Richard Anconica
Right: Omar Sy and Fred Testot, who both play pigeons in the French-language version of the film, with Fred also playing the older cat who appears and — in an interesting change from the original film — Omar playing Mittens the cat, who in the original is voiced by Curb Your Enthusiasm comedian Susie Essman

Bolt 3D premiere Bolt 3D premiere
Left: The directors, Bryon Howard and Chris William
Right: The full cast and crew in attendance, from left to right: directors Bryon Howard and Chris William, voice artists Omar Sy, Fred Testot and Richard Anconica, executive producer John Lasseter, story artist and original voice of Rhino Mark Walton, voice artist Gilles Lellouche and producer Clark Spencer

Bolt 3D premiere
Original Walt Disney Animation Studios crew behind the film: directors Bryon Howard and Chris William, executive producer John Lasseter, story artist and original voice of Rhino Mark Walton and producer Clark Spencer

Bolt, Disney’s 48th animated feature, opens in Germany 22nd January, France on 4th February, United Kingdom on 6th February and Netherlands and Belgium on 11th February. Be sure to catch it in spectacular Disney Digital 3D if you can!

Thursday, 15th January 2009

More than 85,000 pictures to make the magic in 3D

How many pictures do you take on a trip to Disneyland Resort Paris? A few hundred? A couple of thousand? Well, your collection may have just been trumped.

In anticipation of the official launch of the complete 3D recreation of Disneyland Resort Paris on Google Earth, the resort has released some surprising facts and figures behind its creation. More than 85,000 pictures were taken over 20 days to create a complete virtual representation of the resort.

Disneyland Resort Paris Google Earth 3D

Impressive? Sure. But know also that no less than 2,221 of those were for Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant alone! From the pictures, the creators picked out 20,651 different textures to map onto a total of 1,587 three-dimensional models of the resort.

And it won’t just cover the main attractions — you’ll be able to explore all of Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park, featuring more than 50 attractions, plus the 7 Disney Hotels and Disney Village!

Here’s the official text:

For the first time ever, you can Google Disneyland® Paris… in 3D!

Live on Google Earth as of 28 March 2009

“Imagineer” a visit to Disneyland® Resort Paris on Google Earth!

Imagine a Disneyland where dreams come true. A place where you can fly like Peter Pan over Sleeping Beauty Castle, zoom down to Main Street, U.S.A.®, or board Captain Hook’s Pirate ship.

From the imagination of Disney and Google comes a 3D experience like no other. Disneyland® Resort Paris. From the sky. From the ground. From anywhere you want. It’s as big as imagination itself. All at the click of a mouse!

Every inch of Disneyland® Resort Paris

Disneyland Paris in 3D is enorMouse: 2 Disney Parks with more than 50 attractions, 7 Disney Hotels and Disney Village. Now you can explore every inch of the resort in superb Disney details! And you’ll be one of the first to get a sneak peek of Mickey’s Magical Party, starting 4 April 2009.

With the publication of the latest issue of annual passport magazine Envie de+, which we featured in our first article on this new venture, a web address on the official Disneyland Resort Paris website was given for more information. Though it has been reported and written on most fansites and forums that the link is not yet functional, it appears we’ve actually been typing the URL provided a little too perfectly.

The magazine quotes http://www.disneylandparis.fr/googleearth3d, which brings up a page error.

However, the actual address, as confirmed in the footer of the official text we’ve got hold of, should be /googleearth3D, with a capital ‘D’ in 3D. You can therefore already view the page in French here or English here.

Disneyland Resort Paris Google Earth 3D

The page currently provides a countdown to the official launch date, 28th March 2009.

Update (22:14 GMT):

Since we posted this article, the page URLs on the official website were magically updated! That means we’re back to ‘3D’ with a lower-case ‘d’ and therefore the French page can be found here, with the English page here.

Tuesday, 13th January 2009

First images of Google Earth 3D resort released

What’s all this? Google Earth? 3D recreation? Let’s explain…

Google Earth, we’ll begin back here, is a like a super-duper version of the flat aerial views you might have used in Google Maps. It lets you type in a location anywhere on Earth and fly there, instantly, getting an amazingly clear aerial view of the landscape. It lets you plan routes, see your house from space or just go for a virtual fly around our planet.

In the newer versions of this free software download, though, the concept becomes almost hyper-real. In specific locations, you can now pan and tilt the viewpoint and fly right down to the ground to see computer generated images of selected landscapes and buildings. By moving the camera around, you can visit places and fly through them, seeing exactly what it’s like to actually be there.

May 2008 brought the announcement that Disney had struck a deal for Walt Disney World Resort in Florida to get its very own complete Google Earth 3D recreation. At the same time, we got a tiny snippet in most news articles simply stating: “Plans call for similar tours of Disneyland Paris to be produced”.

Google Earth 3D

Even if you’ve never been to the Orlando resort, with the Walt Disney World recreation you can explore all of its’ parks as if you were there, with the Cinderella Castle, Tree of Life and almost every inch of the Imagineered landscape “popping out” of the flat Google Earth aerials.

What’s more, if you hover around one of the attractions and click a special icon, you get a special Disney-created pop-up with an excerpt from the attraction’s page on the official Walt Disney World website.

Google Earth 3D

And the Disneyland Resort Paris version? We’re in luck — the latest issue of annual passport magazine Envie de+ has confirmed an official launch date: 28th March 2009!

But that’s not all. You can see how Walt Disney World looks right now by downloading Google Earth, but how would the parks and lands of Disneyland Resort Paris be imagined in Google’s 3D software? Space Mountain with the giant Columbiad cannon… Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant in all its extravagance… Crush’s Coaster, Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril, Adventureland Bazaar and other unusual sights?

Fancy a preview? Envie de+ obliges, with a beautiful cover too…

Google Earth 3D

A double-page introduces these 3D recreations:

Google Earth 3D

And here are those preview images up-close!

Google Earth 3D

Here we see what Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, Crush’s Coaster and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror will look like in the software when you’ve flown right down to the ground and tilted the camera upwards at these famous Disney landmarks. Pretty amazing, right?

Join us on 28th March 2009 to discover the rest of the magic!

Tuesday, 13th January 2009

Pin Trading January 2009 releases

First — the pin releases:

Saturday, 17th January 2009

Stitch European Invasion: Greece
Limited Edition x900
€10.90

2009 Lanyard
€7.90

High School Musical 3
€6.00

Saturday, 24th January 2009

Fab 4 Spinner 2009
€8.90

Mickey & Minnie 2009
€6.00

Mickey 2009
€8.90

Angry Donald Duck
€6.00

Saturday, 31st January 2009

Walt Disney Series: Mousketeers
Limited Edition x900
€11.90

St Valentine’s Day 2009
Limited Edition x900
€12.90

Pin Trading January 2009

Next — this month’s Pin Trading Night:

Friday, 23rd January 2009

Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe
in La Cantina/Rio Grande Bar
from 6.00pm onwards

Finally — engrave this date in your calendar. More information will be “dug out soon”…

Phantom Manor Pin Event

Tuesday, 13th January 2009

Did Walt Disney Studios win the New Year fireworks?

It was a night of firsts, that’s for sure. For the first time ever, Walt Disney Studios Park stayed open for regular guests beyond 9pm. For the first time ever, it let guests see in the New Year within its gates. And, for the first time ever, it hosted fireworks for those same, regular guests.

But, in the process, did it surprise us all and come out on top, with the most dazzling, sky-filling show of the two? Let’s compare…

New Year’s Eve 2008/09 – Walt Disney Studios Park

Video by Kayshaman.

New Year’s Eve 2008/09 – Disneyland Park (Part 1)
New Year’s Eve 2008/09 – Disneyland Park (Part 2)

Videos by Daviddu59.

For a start, there’s one obvious downside to the Studios’ celebrations — the lack of an icon or “weenie” at the foot of the fireworks. When the New Year’s Eve celebrations were confirmed, many expected The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror to be the focal point, or Hollywood Boulevard.

However, as the clock edged toward midnight, guests were instead asked to make their way to Backlot and Place des Stars, along the “Rue Georges Méliès” of the park, with the fireworks themselves launched from the convenient base of Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular.

This downside could also have been the park’s advantage, though — not only does the lack of a large icon make the fireworks seem bigger and more impressive in the sky, but the location may have allowed the resort a little more freedom with the bigger shells and rockets, should restrictions still be imposed on New Year’s Eve.

What’s your verdict?

Tuesday, 13th January 2009

France Télécom hangs up on “small world”

Compared to the complexities of attraction sponsorship at other Disney resorts, Disneyland Resort Paris has always been far more reserved. And indeed, though its grand opening saw everything from Le Visionarium to Star Tours coupled with an official corporate partner, this decade in particular has seen many of them change — or disappear altogether.

So, it might come as no surprise to hear to hear that Disneyland Park just lost another attraction sponsor. But then again, this was perhaps the last remaining original sponsor from opening day (if we don’t count the shift of Kodak from Captain EO to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience) — France Télécom at “it’s a small world”.

France Telecom at it's a small world

When the attraction returned from its refurbishment in late November (17th to 28th), all signs of the national French telecommunications company had vanished. The most obvious, of course, being the large flag with the company’s logo in the attraction’s entrance fountain.

This was quickly switched-out for a new purple flag reading “Join the happiest cruise that ever sailed around the world”.

France Telecom at it's a small world
Source: Scrooge, Disney Magic Interactive forum.

As you walk up the hill toward the queue line, the secondary attraction logo has had its “France Télécom” footer removed and replaced with a few musical notes, which appear to be those from the attraction’s famous Sherman Brothers theme song.

France Telecom at it's a small world
Source: Scrooge, Disney Magic Interactive forum.

Though it’s the ‘World Chorus’ post-show with which France Télécom has always been synonymous, the branding of the company was never strongly present, at least in recent years, and so this land of animated video clips will continue to live on.

France Telecom at it's a small world

Now, whilst the France Télécom name may have apparently disappeared for good from the resort, that’s not to say the corporation itself has hung up completely. Besides continuing as a telecoms provider for the resort behind-the-scenes, they’ve got arguably an even more important brand somewhere else — Orange, at Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic.

One of the most easily-missed sponsors it may be (particularly since the Hollywood transformation of the attraction’s entrance), but for France Télécom this is a brand that doesn’t only have significance in France — you’ll find Orange in Belgium, Spain, Switzlerand, Austria and the UK to name a few.

But, for “it’s a small world”, France Télécom have made their call.

• Find more photos of “it’s a small world” at Photos Magiques.

Thursday, 8th January 2009

Baz Lurhmann goes from Australia to Disneyland

With no Disneyland down under, the famous Australian film director and his family chose the Paris resort for a day of Disney magic, joining Mickey Mouse for a special photo shoot beside Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, with a thick layer of snow all around.

Baz Luhrmann Baz Luhrmann

His latest picture stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in an epic romance set against the plight of North Australia in World World II. Despite mixed reviews, it has already opened at number one in the box office charts in France, Germany and Spain and number 3 in the UK, and setting a new opening weekend record in Australia.

Baz Luhrmann Baz Luhrmann

Now, can anyone tell us the earlier connection between Luhrmann and Disneyland Resort Paris?

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