Friday, 20th November 2009

Studio 1 repaint hits… “technical difficulties”

Yes, the company which brought us Audio-Animatronics and countless other innovations is clearly having a few issues with this project.

From an advertisement billboard to a larger advertisement billboard, to the current refurbishment tarpaulin, it feels like this will never end. The last official line said the refurbishment had already begun and would be finished by December. It never began.

We now appear to know for sure that the front of Disney Studio 1 won’t see the light of day again this decade. If you should happen to write or email asking what on earth has been going on, the new standard reply seems to be more about buying time than giving dates and details, as the previous response.

Here it is:

Thank you for your email concerning Disneyland® Paris.

To begin with, I would like to thank you for your loyalty in Disneyland Paris. Indeed, it is truly heartening to learn that you have visited the Resort on so many occasions.

Further to your query, I regret to inform you that due to unforeseen technical difficulties with the refurbishment work taking place on Studio 1, the work has been exceptionally delayed. Therefore, we are unable to confirm when the scaffolding will be removed.

Now 15 months and counting since the refurbishment scaffolding was put in place and 4 months since we were told the refurbishment had just begun, this appears to be a pretty exceptional delay. The shell of a building was probably built in less time back in 2000/2001.

What can you say? Well, you can email… and please do.

And if anyone happens to actually know what these “technical difficulties” are, get in touch. The magicforum members have been coming up with a few good possibilities, let’s see what you make of these…

• They lost the ladder so that they can climb onto the scaffolding to start work. Any donations of a ladder greatly received by Disney.

• The contractors are scared of the dark, so couldn’t go under the fake Studio 1 frontage.

• The contractors don’t have hopper tickets and are stuck in Disneyland Park trying to dig a tunnel into the Studios.

• The weather is not good enough – they are waiting for snow.

• They ordered orange and green paint, but red and white came, so they painted the Character Express horrible colours instead.

• Someone stole their hardhats and replaced them with Mickey ears.

• They are on strike – holding out for Castle Club rooms rather than the Empire State Club.

• They are stuck on Wilderness Island without a canoe.

• The materials are coming via Royal Mail.

• They are waiting for the railroad train to stop at Adventureland.

Or maybe…

• They decided to have a quick ride on Crush’s Coaster before starting last year and still haven’t reached the loading dock.

Feel free to add your own suggestion below, we’ve plenty of time…

Friday, 20th November 2009

Magic Circus renovation done, conference pavilion to come

It was the second time the Austrian group had taken over management of one of the resort’s Selected Hotels just beyond Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe on the other side of the Boulevard Circulaire. But unlike the Dream Castle Hotel, which had been developed and managed with care from the start by Mövenpick, InterContinental’s Holiday Inn always seemed something of a missed opportunity.

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Given a grand stature, bold interior design and a fun theme when developed in collaboration with DLP-I (Disneyland Paris Imagineering) and the Val d’Europe design team, the subsequent management left a little to be desired, with little focus on the themed touches and just average service. Its lobby, notably, filled with enough coin-operated machines to keep a small school happy.

The first phase of investment in the hotel from the partnership of Warimpex, UBM and Vienna International has now been completed, celebrated with a special event at the hotel last night. In total, €4 million has been spent enlarging and improving the restaurant, improving the bar and lobby, refurbishing guest rooms, completely rebuilding the pool and wellness area, rebranding everything to the new image and enhancing the existing circus themes.

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

“It is our aim to further strengthen the position as a family hotel at the destination and to attract new guests,” argues Rudolf Tucek, CEO of Vienna International Hotelmanagement AG. “Especially in the last twelve months, the destination of Disneyland Paris has shown that people continue to invest in a family holiday despite the economically challenging times.

However, Tucek points out a strong change in their source markets: “This year up to 320 per cent more guests came from Austria, an additional 80 per cent from the Czech Republic, 75 per cent from France and 60 per cent from Switzerland. By comparison, we saw a decline of up to 50 per cent from the UK, which could be offset thanks to the growth from the other countries.”

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

And how is the hotel performing financially? UBM CEO Karl Bier stated: “Both the Magic Circus as well as the neighbouring Dream Castle Hotel, which began operations in 2003, are outstanding investments. Even during the economic crisis, the two hotels have been in the black.

“For the real estate market, the worst should be over by now and we are looking optimistically towards the future: the economic research institutes forecast a recovery of the economy, the banks are providing sufficient liquidity, and investment pressure can be recognised once more among institutional investors. These are all signs that we have passed the low point.”

Even better, the group intend to invest another €4 million next year with the construction of a brand new conference pavilion at the hotel, the foundations and structural requirements of which have already been put in place during the current works. The hotel is being taken slightly upmarket, properly fulfilling in “feel” its 4-star status, with the new focus now firmly on families and conferences, perhaps then putting it in competition with Disney’s Newport Bay Club.

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Images © Vienna International.

Thursday, 19th November 2009

Eurostar cuts back direct Disneyland Paris services

From 5th January 2010, the direct morning service from London St Pancras International and Ashford International will no longer run on Tuesdays or Saturdays except during school holidays, industry journal Travel Weekly has reported.

Eurostar blames the impending cut-back on the need to cut costs due to the recession.

Eurostar cuts back direct Disneyland Paris services

“It’s a reflection of the prevailing economic conditions and particularly a reflection of demand from the UK,” said Eurostar spokeswoman Lesley Retallack. “The exchange rate doesn’t help, and families are having to look at their budgets. Eurostar has to ensure it uses its capacity efficiently and if it can make savings it will. This is very much about being sensible and practising good housekeeping.”

Eurostar added that the services could be reinstated if demand increased again. According to the report, a spokesperson for Disneyland Paris declined to comment on the basis that the cut-backs were decided by Eurostar. Nevertheless, senior vice-president sales and distribution Norbert Stiekema said: “It is due to lack of demand from the UK market, which prefers to use the Friday service.”

All this is a contrast to Summer just last year, when Eurostar actually ran a second direct train to the resort during the Summer months. However, it was only several years ago that the trains went from running certain days only to a full daily operation.

The demand may not be there currently, but hopefully Eurostar will be ready to react as soon as the market changes. With the continuing Euro/Sterling currency problems, there are enough barriers already for guests looking to book from the UK. Other (later) trains are of course available, with a change at Lille, but this swift 2 hour 30 minute service has become a key selling point for the European resort.

Image © Eurostar/Disney.

Friday, 13th November 2009

Euro Disney reports €63m loss, flat attendance

This was never going to be a fairytale ending. Coming out of the hugely successful two-year 15th Anniversary, being hit by the worst economic crisis, some say, in memory and having no new attractions after a recent period of heavy investment.

However, with attendance up by 100,000 guests and swift cost reductions put in place, Euro Disney SCA appears to have weathered the storm. The damage is this: a net loss of €63m, 3.6% sliced off hotel occupancy and overall revenues down by 7%.

Near-constant discounting by as much as 40% off package prices clearly has taken a toll, as expected, with Hotel and Disney Village revenues being sliced by 8% — that’s a huge €40.9m. Equally, the wake-up call of the economic crisis has clearly made guests reassess their spending, down 5% to €44.22. A €2 dip per person might not seem a lot, but for every person passing through the gates, it contributes heavily towards another €27.6m negative.

The main points of the results are therefore:

• Attendance of 15.4 million with an 87% hotel occupancy rate
• Revenues decreased 7% to € 1,231 million, driven by a decline in guest spending
• Net loss of € 63 million, as lower revenues were partially offset by a 2% reduction in costs and expenses
• Generated Free Cash Flow, ending the year with € 340 million in cash and cash equivalents
• Opening of Toy Story Playland at the Walt Disney Studios® Park in 2010

Yes, you read that right — Toy Story Playland, being officially announced by Euro Disney SCA! So now we can be wholly sure this isn’t the “most committed disinformation campaign ever”. But, as attraction announcements go, it’s a whispered admittance indeed, being detailed later only under the New Generation Festival heading of “update on recent and coming events”:

New Generation Festival

In April 2010, Disneyland® Paris will launch the New Generation Festival, a celebration welcoming the most recent Disney characters into the Parks. Remy from Ratatouille, Princess Tiana from the upcoming Disney animated feature The Princess and the Frog and many more characters arrive at Disneyland Paris. These new characters will be showcased in the Once Upon a Dream Parade, Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars and on the Disney all stars express.

During the celebration in summer 2010, the Walt Disney Studios® Park will welcome three new family attractions in Toy Story Playland, inspired by the animated Disney-Pixar feature Toy Story. With oversized decor, guests will have the impression that they’ve been reduced to the size of Andy’s toys as they come to life in Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin and RC Racer.

Any other Disney resort would have accompanied this release with concept art or splashy press releases filled with quotes from Imagineers about how this land will redefine the universe. Perhaps we should be glad Euro Disney SCA take such a solemn attitude to new attractions? At least CEO Philippe Gas is excited, and pleased about the group’s performance in the challenging times, as he commented:

“During the fiscal year, we were faced with the most challenging economic environment in our history, which drove certain fundamental changes in consumer behavior. These changes included booking significantly closer to their visits, searching for promotional offers and travelling closer to their homes. As a result, we adapted our offers to address our guests’ changing needs. This decision delivered record park attendance of 15.4 million and an 87% hotel occupancy rate, down from last year but high by industry standards.

We saw our guest mix change, as attendance was driven by French and Belgian markets, offsetting significant weakness from Spain and the United Kingdom. These changes also impacted guest spending and hotel occupancy, lowering our revenues. Throughout the year we also balanced our promise of a high-quality Disney entertainment experience for our guests while managing costs.

The strength of the Disney brand and the attractiveness of our Resort as Europe’s number one tourist destination position us well when the recovery of the economies of our key markets and the leisure and tourism industry occur. We continue to invest in the long-term growth of our Company and we look forward to opening Toy Story Playland, inspired by the popular Disney-Pixar Toy Story characters and films, at the Walt Disney Studios Park in summer 2010.”

The resort was certainly lucky, in fact, to have been hit by this recession just as it was coming out of its most successful years to date. Had this crisis happened any earlier, the result could have been disastrous. As it stands, it’s interesting to look at the figures from this year and those quoted in the report from 2007. It’s not a full-scale slip-up by any means. Damage has been done, but should things begin to improve over the next year it may only lead to a set-back of plans and profits by a few years.

Throwing the €25m of royalty payments to The Walt Disney Company and €15.1m of loan interest onto their debt pile, Euro Disney SCA still paid off their planned debt repayments for the year and plan to pay back a healthy €89.9m more of existing debt in the 2010 financial year.

A taste of what the situation could be if things truly don’t get better comes further into the report, where it is stated:

For fiscal year 2010, if compliance with financial performance covenants cannot be achieved, the Group will have to appropriately reduce operating costs, curtail a portion of planned capital expenditures and/or seek assistance from TWDC or other parties as permitted under the debt agreements.

So, let’s hope that’s not the case. Further reductions in operating costs could almost certainly push the resort to breaking point, losing guests due to poor quality service and experience. On that subject, it’s nice at least to see that this year’s cost reductions added up: Thanks to all those shortened attraction hours, cancelled quality entertainment and other drops in Disney quality, the group managed to cut spending by 2%.

Euro Disney also seem confident of their ability to survive any continued losses in future:

Although no assurance can be given, management believes the Group has adequate cash and liquidity for the foreseeable future based on existing cash positions, liquidity from the € 100.0 million line of credit available from TWDC, and use of the conditional deferrals.

Indeed, that free cash in the group’s pocket now amounts to a not-too-shabby €340.3 million. Whilst it’s certainly good to see the resort has that much of a “buffer” for itself, things could soon get shakey should the group start spending €100 million on a Convention Centre here, or tens of millions on an expensive new attraction there. Just look what happened with the failed opening of Walt Disney Studios Park.

Everything considered, we probably shouldn’t be too disappointed that the dull announcement of Toy Story Playland was the only thing keeping us fans happy (or not, as may be the case for some) in this release. With a date of 2015 set for those new resort developments to near completion, there’s still plenty of time and Euro Disney SCA will likely want to wait a little longer to sign those dotted lines.

Better safe than sorry.

• Read the full 2009 Annual Results here (PDF).
• Read the Walt Disney Company 2009 Annual Report here (PDF).

Thursday, 12th November 2009

Analysts predict plunge into red for Euro Disney

It was all looking so good. The 15th Anniversary extended, record attendance figures pushing above 15 million, three years of new attractions, hotel occupancy reaching saturation point and, this time last year, the resort’s first profit in almost 10 years.

Back then, they just about crawled towards €2 million in the black. All things considered, today will most certainly see the resort slip painfully back into the red.

Journalist Christian Sylt shared an article with DLRP Today published in The Telegraph newspaper last week, reporting on analyst predictions of a sharp decline in revenue.

It doesn’t make for fun reading.

Theme park operator Euro Disney is expected to post a sharp decline in revenue, plunging it from net profit into loss, when it announces its results on Thursday.

The company, which runs the Disneyland Paris resort on the outskirts of the French capital, has been battered by the downturn as more holidaymakers have stayed at home and the pound has reached record lows against the euro.

In 2008 Euro Disney posted a €1.7m net profit, its first in more than five years, as revenue rose 9pc to €1.3bn on the back of record attendance of 15.3m people. The recession looks to have put paid to this being repeated.

“I think the attendance could be flat,” said one Paris-based analyst. “The big issue for me is the prices.”

As Christian goes on to report, Euro Disney SCA’s operating loss in just the first six months of 2009 was €85.4m, nearly double its deficit from the same period the previous year.

Flat attendance would certainly be troubling, given the almost continuous 20%, 30% and even 40% discounts the resort has been running this year, desperately trying to keep up the momentum gained in previous years. But naturally, slicing 40% off the income from a package holiday presents a disastrous outlook for the resort’s revenue.

Toy Soldiers Revenue Drop

All this puts into question whether Euro Disney really could accompany the report with an announcement of new attractions, or as heard most recently, that new Convention Centre and resort development.

If the money’s there, it’s certainly more positive to be reporting losses alongside announcements of investments which should build future growth. The Convention Centre would tap in properly to the business market, a new hotel would allow the resort to capture more guests at peak periods, the signature World of Disney store might help the parks’ traditionally low guest spending and new attractions could stop attendance slipping backwards — since clearly unimaginative filler like Mickey’s Magical Party has failed to inspire during the global recession.

Of course, whatever happens, there’ll be one bit of good news when the sun rises over Disneyland Paris later: Toy Story Playland will finally be officially announced by Euro Disney SCA. Er, won’t it? Well, better late than never.

Brace yourselves, people.

• Read the rest of the article, including a background of the resort’s finances, here.

Image © Disney.

Wednesday, 11th November 2009

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey’s Christmas invite list

Press events at Disneyland Paris are usually frequented only by those famous exclusively in France, so it was a surprise to see actual real American Shannen Doherty make an appearance at the Christmas launch events on Saturday.

Judging by the amount of photos released featuring the actress, of Beverley Hills 90210 and more recently just 90210 fame, Mickey and Minnie were pleased to see someone they just about recognised, too…

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

Shannen was even special guest at the first Tree Lighting Ceremony on Town Square.

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

But it wasn’t all about the Charmed actress. Also in attendance were Virginie Ledoyen, Sliimy, Marie Gillain, Bob Sinclar, Hafsia Herzi, Frédérique Bel, Christophe Barratier, Laurence Ferrari, Claire Barsacq, Bruce Toussaint, Alessandra Sublet, Sandrine Quétier, Nikos Aliagas, Frederic Taddei, Fanny Valette and the Chef Thierry Marx.

You know, her…

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

And him…

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

And that guy…

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

And for the Brits reading: Former glamour model Melinda Messenger, who currently presents the frighteningly bad Live from Studio Five.

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

We’ll probably never find out what happened during the actual nighttime press party, such is the astonishing lack of publicity these schmooze-fests traditionally generate. However, from these pictures we can at least garner that there was a large mannequin Father Christmas locked inside a giant snowglobe.

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

However, costumes and characters from the park’s two parades were used in the following three pictures, which are very pretty indeed:

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

Note the clever covering-up of the Mickey’s Magical Party decoration on the Castle. We’re not the only ones who’ve tried to do that this year, then.

Back to the celebrities, French DJ and house music producer David Guetta has been featured amongst the Christmas photos, but apparently actually visited earlier in the week, seen here riding Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast with his wife, Cathy:

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

Anyway, from celebs to zelebs, we all know who the real stars are…

Shannen Doherty tops Mickey's celebrity Christmas list

Very cute. That’s their Christmas card sorted!

Pictures © Disney.

Tuesday, 10th November 2009

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Unless you’re about to visit the resort and pick up some of these for real (for €7 at any of the parks’ Christmas market villages), you’ll have to make do with some photos.

And, since you’ll likely just be drooling and/or ordering a larger pair of jeans whilst feasting your eyes on these, we’ll let the pictures — and Thierry Marx — do the talking…

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

His presentation on Main Street explained the concept and the manufacturing process to the press, but where did it all begin? With a little inspiration — from the tried and true sweet traditions already at Disneyland Park

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Then, it was into the kitchen!

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

What attracted you to this new project?

Thierry Marx: “Those childhood memories, that have resurfaced in me, with much pleasure and wonder. For me, arriving at Disneyland Paris, it’s held completely in its own space and time. It’s a break from the daily grind, a real journey for the senses, without any interruption. Anything is possible, everyone can descend into their thoughts and dreams, something very precious.”

Is Disneyland a different world for you?

Thierry Marx: “On the contrary, this experience matched my philosophy. Like Disney, I do not like seeing conflict between tradition and innovation. The establishment can continue to do things. The pleasure of my work lies in the possibility of being at the forefront of innovation, while preserving the French culinary heritage.”

What most inspired you in the world of Disneyland Paris?

Thierry Marx: “The magic, the indulgent pleasure of just enjoying being together in a different world. I’ve always remembered the opening day of Disneyland Paris well. It represents for me the perfect place to recharge your inner childhood batteries. All the worlds intersect… Space Mountain in Discoveryland makes me dream of what I read in the stories of Jules Verne but Disneyland is also fairy tales, Mickey and your earliest childhood.”

How is this experience a reflection of your gastronomic practice?

Thierry Marx: “I want to make the dream. Everyone can share a real culinary experience with this outdoor vending “street food”, even if it is not obvious today. There is a real chance to share in dreams from the kitchen and instigate interaction between people. Best of all: it’s an international principle, there’s no language barrier.”

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Towards the end, Mickey Mouse showed up in his full chefs’ gear, taking all the glory with the final dipping and dusting-off of the finished foods.

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Job done!

Pictures © Disney.

Monday, 9th November 2009

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

For the first time since 2002, the Christmas Tree is given its very own illumination ceremony. As reported previously it’s a similar format to the classic shows, as Mickey Mouse lights up the giant tree with the help of a young child from the audience.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

Forming the stage, a parade float you’ll certainly recognise — it’s the same one which served the event back in the early years of this decade, and has since returned every Halloween and Christmas in a variety of temporary seasonal guises.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

It’s not an entirely nostalgic show, though. The music isn’t the wonderful old soundtrack but the newer illumination music previously (and in fact, still) used for the shows on Central Plaza. And as its director Christophe Leclercq explains, the story behind the show is also different.

When the parade float pulls into Town Square and stops in front of the tree, the much larger group of characters dance to a medley of songs before the show’s live host, in French and English, explains that the tree can only be illuminated by opening the magic book in front of them — which itself can only be opened by the hands of a child.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

With the chosen child on the podium, the book opens in a sparkling glitter-ball effect, throwing beads of light all around Town Square as the tree gradually lights up.

With the final blast of the music, the Princess Chandeliers lining Main Street illuminate all at once, leading guests towards the yet-to-be-lit Castle at the end.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

That event has now been slotted into the final performance of It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends, which, taking place in full darkness, has been tweaked with new, warmer costumes for the dancers and a series of new projections and lighting effects on and around the Castle.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

Notice the musical notes for Baloo, and the yellow animal patterns for Timon.

After Peter Pan’s final game and before the last “Mickey Dance”, the Castle is quickly illuminated to the same “Lumina” music of recent years — practically the same music just heard earlier during the Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

Then, before you’ve chance to gasp in wonder or soak up the atmosphere, — boom! — it’s back to the party. And “La Mickey Danse” continues on…

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

But never mind, Sleeping Beauty Castle lit for Christmas is still a sight to behold — once that damn dance remix of “Mickey’s Magical Party Time” has faded out, at least.

The Princesses are nowhere to be seen, remembering that even the past two years they were featured heavily in the Enchanted Candleabration illuminations show. Perhaps this provoked the pushing of Snow White’s new “happening” as a Christmas season event, because if they’re still going for a “Fairytale Christmas” (and judging by all the press releases, they are), keeping the disco Party Time finale so intact makes it all feel slightly off the mark.

UPDATE 10/11/2009 — Disneyland Paris released a few extra photos yesterday after this article was published. Taken during Saturday’s press events (note the empty park and hundreds of press badges), they feature the view up toward the Castle as snow blows across the rooftops of Main Street:

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

The same view in the opposite direction, towards the Christmas Tree:

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

And a wonderful view over the whole of Town Square, showing the set-up of the returning Tree Lighting Ceremony, with the float/stage parked in front of the tree for the ceremony.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Ice Palace in pictures

• Read the full interview with Christophe Leclercq, director of the season, here!

Pictures © Disney.

Sunday, 8th November 2009

Snow White gives Castle Stage kiss of life

Here are the very first photos of the show we originally reported in August, showing the modestly-decorated stage populated by stage characters for the first time in, oooh, five years? It’s great to have it back…

First photos of new Snow White Castle Stage event

It’s also rare to see all seven dwarfs together in Paris, and they’ve been given wheelbarrows filled with colourful diamonds for the musical numbers on Le Théâtre du Château.

First photos of new Snow White Castle Stage event

Eventually, Snow White’s prince appears to complete the scene of “romance éternelle”.

First photos of new Snow White Castle Stage event

Lasting around 8 minutes with about 15 minutes of meet ‘n’ greet time afterwards, in an identical mould to the Mary Poppins: Step in Time and Sleeping Beauty: Once Upon a Time events, the show has a soundtrack of mostly recycled musical numbers, which member EVE on Disney Central Plaza forum has done a good job of recounting already.

First photos of new Snow White Castle Stage event

Spanning several languages, they include “Heigh Ho” in English, from the stage’s original Le Livre Magique de Mickey show, “Whistle While You Work” in French, “The Silly Song” in German (yes, German, apparently!) and an old recording of “Someday My Prince will Come”, which has already been recycled this year for Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars. Also apparently included is some of the music from the Snow White float of Fantillusion‘s Happy Ending…

The show has been directed by Katy Harris, who will be the second in our special series of Christmas interviews, revealing more about the show later this week.

UPDATE 10/11/2009 — The latest park Programme confirms the show’s official English title is Snow White: Happily Ever After, with performances three times daily at 11:45, 12:45 and 13:45.

Pictures © Disney.

Sunday, 8th November 2009

Santa’s (almost) new sleigh pulls into Disneyland

Yes, the old Santa Claus Sleigh float, which saw the resort through two financial restructurings and seventeen Christmas seasons is no more, relegated to Christmas Past. But wipe away that tear: the Dreams of Christmas unit at the end of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade now has a brand new sleigh, with some more reliable reindeer out front…

Santa's (almost) new sleigh pulls into Disneyland

As the resort’s own family of reindeer sadly saw their numbers dwindle and retirement ages creep on them, the old float simply wasn’t really suitable any more — it being set up and designed to look as if being pulled by the real reindeer in front. It saw its last season in 2008/09, as a lone sleigh magically travelling along with no reindeer.

Santa's (almost) new sleigh pulls into Disneyland

Cue a bit of that traditional Disneyland Paris make-do and mend resourcefulness, and problem solved — take the old Cinderella coach float (from The Wonderful World of Disney Parade and before that, Disney Classics Parade — circa 1992!) and transform it into a brand new sleigh, floating above clouds, with the horsed redecorated as reindeer and Cinderella’s coach removed and transformed beyond recognition into this very sweet — and surprisingly original — galleon-style sleigh.

Santa's (almost) new sleigh pulls into Disneyland Santa's (almost) new sleigh pulls into Disneyland

It’s traditional for DLP Entertainment to get Christmas mostly “right” compared to other seasons and events, but this new sleigh is a very pleasant surprise, very nicely finished. Note the pine cone detail of Santa Claus’ seat, for example.

Santa's (almost) new sleigh pulls into Disneyland

Surrounding the float are a band of elves, who also appear to have undergone some changes with better costumes incorporating more metallic materials and lots of different, individual props. The only thing apparently missing, at least from today’s previews, are the Toy Soldiers who usually finish up the parade. Perhaps they were still polishing their uniforms?

Reindeer on white sticks might look like an invention of Thierry Marx — it certainly seems outdated next to the clever float designs elsewhere in the more modern 2007 floats, which precede the unit — but this smart transformation is a great start to the season, don’t you think?

• See how the float used to look here, here and here!

• Read our brand new interview with Christophe Leclercq, director of the season, here!

Pictures © Disney.

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