Wednesday, 4th November 2009

Forget Shanghai, Paris lets slip major projects

As the official Disney Parks Blog posted a remarkably… unremarkable confirmation that the Shanghai Disneyland project is moving ahead, newspaper Le Parisien slipped out a fascinating article all about the future of our resort. Talking to Francis Borezée, Vice President of Resort and Real Estate Development, they summarise the next phase of development in the Val d’Europe district, from the expansion of Disney Village to the long-awaited new Convention Centre.

Most of this won’t shock or stun a keen follower of Disneyland Paris news, but one element certainly might: the addition of dates, the revelation that all this is finally due to be officially announced, very soon indeed. And, whilst a project being led by a huge Convention Centre doesn’t seem immediately exciting, the development and its surrounding expansions will change the landscape of the resort beyond recognition.

Where now, as soon as you reach the lonely IMAX cinema and games arcade, the old beet fields suddenly stretch as far as the eye can see, soon you’ll be at the heart of a whole new, very urban, Disney development, comprising the new hotels and Village expansion it so badly needs.

Here’s the article in full, skip down for the summary:

Disney dévoile ses nouveaux projets

Tourisme d’affaires, logements, extension des zones de loisirs et de commerces, le Val-d’Europe poursuit son développement sous l’impulsion du géant américain.

Qu’on se le dise : le groupe aux grandes oreilles n’a pas fini de laisser son empreinte sur le paysage urbain du Val-d’Europe. Fraîchement nommé à la tête des activités de développement urbain et vités touristique du groupe, Francis Borezée dévoile ses principaux projets pour le développement à venir de l’agglomération.

Des programmes qui dessinent les contours de la phase 4 du développement du Val d’Europe, actuellement en discussion avec les représentants de l’Etat et les élus locaux.

Des réalisations sur quinze ans. Chargé du codéveloppement de l’agglomération en vertu d’une convention signée avec l’Etat en 1987, Euro Disney SCA a rempli au- aujourd’hui plus de la moitié du contrat. « Nous avons d’ores et déjà développé 1 100 ha sur 1 943, ce qui veut dire qu’on a encore quinze ans de développement devant nous », résume Francis Borezée.

Actuellement en cours, l’achèvement des programmes de la phase 3 – finition de la place d’Ariane, du quartier résidentiel des Lacs ou réalisation de bureaux près de la gare RER — va coïncider avec le lance- lancement des nouveaux projets de l’opérateur privé.

Cap vers le tourisme d’affaires. C’est la grande nouveauté annoncée par le directeur général adjoint d’Euro Disney SCA. Un gigantesque centre de congrès devrait voir le jour aux portes des parcs Disneyland, pour un budget d’investissement d’environ 100 millions d’euros. D’ici 2015, une première phase prévoit la construction d’un centre de 20 000 ha sur ce terrain coincé entre le parking Vinci et l’hôtel Newport. Une nouvelle gare TGV dédiée et un hôtel de 750 chambres seront construits sur le site, qui pourra accueillir des groupes de 4 000 personnes.

Parallèlement, les activités touristiques classiques continueront de se développer, avec l’extension prévue du Disney-Village et la construction de nouvelles attractions dans les parcs… qui devraient faire l’objet d’une annonce à la fin de l’année.

De nouveaux logements en perspective. Le développement résidentiel reste une priorité pour Francis Borezée, qui prévoit la construction de « 500 à 600 » nouveaux logements, dont « au moins 20 % de logements sociaux » par an d’ici à 2017. Le centre urbain devrait s’étendre avec de nouveaux logements assortis d’équipements publics, au nord de la nouvelle mairie de Serris ainsi qu’au sud-ouest du centre de secours de Chessy et au nord du boulevard circulaire. Pour améliorer le cadre de vie, un nouveau bassin et des espaces verts devraient également voir le jour (voir carte).

D’autres constructions pourraient également apparaître en périphérie, à Magny-le-Hongre et à Bailly-Ro- Romainvilliers, avec un programme mêlant maisons individuelles et logements collectifs dans le quartier des Courtalins. A terme, Francis Borezée prévoit une croissance de la population « jusqu’à 55 000 ou 60 000 habitants », soit un peu moins que l’Etat, qui envisage jusqu’à 80 000 habitants au Val-d’Europe.

L’extension du centre commercial Val-d’Europe. Satisfait du succès du pôle marchand, qui « résiste mieux à la crise » que la moyenne des centres commerciaux, le développeur prévoit son extension, avec une « nouvelle ouverture inter- intermédiaire » de la galerie. Sans oublier l’inauguration, en mars 2010, d’un immense magasin Castorama consacré à la décoration d’intérieur, assorti de 600 à 700 nouvelles places créées sur un niveau intermédiaire dans le parking du centre commercial.

La poursuite du développement. Les entreprises ne seront pas oubliées par l’opérateur d’aménagement privé, qui table sur l’extension du parc d’entreprise Goodman, à Bailly-Romainvilliers. Sans oublier de « constituer une nouvelle offre de bureaux prêts à l’emploi près de la gare, dans le centre urbain du Val-d’Europe. » En effet, les bureaux déjà réalisés dans ce secteur sont déjà occupés «à près de 95%».

The reason none of these grand proposals come as a surprise? Because plans showing exactly these developments have been public for probably over a year now, showing the urban streets of Val d’Europe connecting up with the resort centre.

Forget Shanghai, Paris lets slip major projects

Francis Borezée notes that, after having developed 1,100 hectares of 1,943 ha available since 1987, the resort still has 15 years of development ahead of it. He confirms that Phase 4 of the Val d’Europe development is now in discussions with the state and local town councillors, and that the completion of various Phase 3 projects (housing and office developments, the town squares) will coincide with the launch of plans for the next phase of their private, resort expansion projects.

So here’s where it gets interesting: The Convention Centre, having waited to be green-lit for over ten years now, will see its first phase developed and built between now and 2015. For an investment of €100 million Euros, the “gigantestque” centre totalling 20,000 ha of floorspace will take shape on the land between the existing Vinci (Disney Village) parking lot and Newport Bay Club.

The article confirms a 750-room hotel will be included in this phase, stating “on the site”. As can be seen in the plans released, there are in fact plots for two new Disney Hotels nearby. It remains to be seen whether they’d choose the hotel next to the Convention Centre or the one across the road, joined onto the Disney Village expansion, to build first.

It also then confirms the new TGV Station, but — especially when you look at the plan they’ve drawn up themselves — seems to have the impression that this will be a whole new station. Technically, it won’t. Similarly stuck on the drawing board for a decade, this will merely be an additional entrance and exit to the platforms of the existing Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy station.

Slotted in right next to the Disney Village multi-story parking, it’ll provide a new booking hall and facilities on the South side of the resort hub, allowing convention-goers and Val d’Europe residents far easier access to the platforms, without having to cross the resort hub.

Next, something we all want to hear — “Parallel to this, the resort’s traditional tourism activity will continue to be developed, with the expected expansion of Disney Village and the construction of new attractions in the theme parks… which will be the object of an announcement at the end of the year”.

Continuing on, the report discusses new housing at Val d’Europe, the creation of parks and lakes as seen in the plans, plus developments to the Shopping Centre, which is apparently beating the economic crisis more than most similar malls. Join the news recently that Val d’Europe will become home to a brand new swimming pool Aquatics Centre, and the rumours of the French Open, and things are looking good.

Forget Shanghai, Paris lets slip major projects

But you’ve probably stopped reading now, right? Knowing that a completion date has finally been set for all those expansions, and the promise of imminent announcements for Disney Village and new park attractions later this year…

Forget Shanghai, that’s the Parisian Surprise we needed.

Plans © Disney.

Monday, 2nd November 2009

EMH + WDS = Confirmed!

We reported last week that, for three weekends in late November and early December, both parks would be opening at 9am rather than 10am, as has been custom since the introduction of those two Extra Magic Hours (EMH) at Disneyland Park.

Better than that, there were hints of those extra hours making their way to Walt Disney Studios Park for the first time. Hints that are now… confirmed! From the official Disneyland Paris website:

NEW
Walt Disney Studios will be exceptionnally opened from 8am to 9am for Extra Magic Hours on November 28th and 29th, and on December 5th, 6th, 12th and 13th, 2009.

So, if you’re visiting on those six dates (and qualify for EMH), you’ll get to enjoy a world-premiere: one hour of exclusive ride time in the Studios, from 8am to 9am, before other guests.

EMH + WDS = Confirmed!
Coming soon to a Studios near us?

The attractions to be opened for the trial haven’t been publicly announced anywhere, but it appears generally agreed upon that they’ll be the most prominent ride-based favourites: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah and of course, Crush’s Coaster.

Riding the EAC may no longer take an hour or more of queueing, but it remains to be seen what effect this has on regular, non-EMH-qualifying guests. Since it became the norm to run straight to Crush as soon as the park opens, how will these regular visitors feel if they arrive only to find the Crush’s Coaster queue already populated by more privileged ride fans?

Finally, park hours for the rest of December have now been published. Though they’re not as generous as these three weekends, we do see the opening time at Disneyland Park giving way slightly to regular guests — now set at 9.30am, rather than 10am, making EMH a still-respectable hour and half window. This is the first time in almost 10 years we’ve seen park hours go into half-hours, and the flexibility is very welcome indeed.

• Check the December 2009 park hours
• Find out more about Extra Magic Hours

Monday, 26th October 2009

A 24 ton Christmas Tree & more festive fun facts

Disneyland Paris has published a great new collection of famous Disney “fun facts”, all about the upcoming 2009/10 Christmas season.

Amongst the fascinating figures of the festive period, it also reveals a little about the refreshed “Dreams of Christmas” unit to again follow at the end of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade from November 8th…

The Christmas Tree

• Towering 24 meters high (from the grass to the star on the top) and weighs more than 24 tons.

• Near to 500 light bulbs illuminate the tree tinsel.

• 590 Christmas baubles (390 round ones and 200 byzantine shaped ones) decorate the tree.

• 240 various decorations (figures, candy canes, toy soldiers, drums, red bows…) hang on the branches.

• The assembling of the tree takes place over one night

• 23 persons (of all different types of professions) are required to help install and completely set up the tree.

The Christmas Illuminations

• From Town Square, all the way up Main Street and right up to Sleeping Beauty, more than 1 million lights twinkle at night fall.

• Around 7 km of fairy lights are used to decorate the Main Street, U.S.A. lampposts.

• Between 300 000 and 400 000 leds are needed to transform Sleeping Beauty’s Castle into a Cristal Castle.

• The final lighting concept has been completed this year with the light overlay of the castle giving a maximal sparkling effect.

• 3 full nights of work are necessary to lay the led lighting curtains (entertainment technical term) on the castle towers, roofs and turrets

• 15 nights are planned to install all the other Christmas light overlays in the trees and firs of Critter Corral for the transformation process of the area into the Santa Claus Village

• 6 nights are necessary for the dismantling of the Halloween season decorations and overlay to transform Main Street U.S.A. for our Christmas Season

“Dreams of Christmas” Santa Claus Float

• The new Santa Claus float weighs around 6 tons.

• The new float was built in the Paris region and represents Santa’s Sleigh, filled with presents and pulled by the reindeer, floating above clouds…

• This Parade unit is composed of 12 Toy soldiers, 18 Elves, 1 nutcracker

The Santa Claus float Elves

• 70 sets of costumes and 45 hats have been made for the elves accompanying the Santa Claus Float.

• The costumes were made in three different sizes to cater for the different body shapes of the performing artists.

• Nearly 400 meters of different material was necessary to make these costumes

• Various accessories were sew on the costumes: 90 bobbles, 500 sleigh bells, 700 golden buttons

• A total of 180 pairs of shoes were necessary to shoe all the performers

• 6 different types of Elves are performing in the Parade

Look out for an exclusive series of interviews with the artists and directors behind Disney’s Fairytale Christmas over on DLRP Magic!.com very soon, beginning with season director Christophe Leclercq as he reveals all about the new Tree Lighting Ceremony and more!

Monday, 19th October 2009

Parks open from 9am, Extra Hours at the Studios?

Bringing Extra Magic Hours (EMH) over to Disneyland Paris was a great bonus for a lot of guests and almost all fans of the resort, able to enjoy an extra two hours in Disneyland Park each morning thanks to their Disney Hotel or Annual Passport Dream.

However, those two extra hours, starting at 8am, caused the park’s regular opening time to be pushed back to 10am. Any guests not able to use EMH therefore actually lost an hour of time in the park. In fact, make that plural — despite not offering the bonus, the chance was also taken to save a little money by keeping the attractions at Walt Disney Studios Park closed till 10am, too.

Parks open from 9am, Extra Hours at the Studios?

Thank the record weekend attendance of last Christmas, then, because this December will finally see both parks return to full 9am opening times on Saturdays and Sundays. Park hours for the first two weeks of the month were published today, confirming the change. Last year, weekends in early December saw major traffic on roads leading to the resort and its main parking lot, with the amount of guests visiting to enjoy the special seasonal events even forcing the closure of Disneyland Park’s gates for several hours at the busiest point of the day.

But what does this earlier opening mean for those two extra hours? Well, they’ll be downsized to just one hour at Disneyland Park… but if wishes come true, they could become two again. Reports (posted by Mouetto, moderator on Disney Central Plaza) suggest that these days could also see Walt Disney Studios Park opened to EMH guests from 8am.

So far, however, the official website’s EMH page remains geared toward only Disneyland Park. If extra time is to be granted over at the Studios, the resort will have to work hard to reword their print and promote such a bonus.

• Check the latest park opening times at our new-look Calendar.

Sunday, 18th October 2009

Contactless payments trial now at resort locations

This “Paiements sans Contact” initiative was first announced back in July and began right on schedule on 3rd October.

How does it work? Unfortunately, it won’t work at all for most of us yet. Although most of us have seen the waterslide advert for Barclaycard’s system, the technology now at Disneyland Paris is currently only open to users who have a (French) bank account with CIC or Crédit Mutuel (who just recently actually became a new official partner of the resort), and have already signed up to a trial of those banks’ early contactless payment schemes.

If you’re lucky enough to qualify for all of that, your new credit card contains a special chip that can be read without contact when lightly touched or flashed across one of the new devices, first caught on camera by Scrooge at Disney Magic Interactive in Walt Disney Studios Store:

Contactless payments trial now at resort locations

This allows users to pay for their Disney shopping — or even better, food — in a second. No fumbling with Euro cent coins, no waiting behind someone as they try every combination of four digits possible. Contactless cards allow instant payments up to a certain, safe amount. Just imagine the effect that could have within a few years on those ugly counter service queues.

You’ll find the trial machines now at the following locations:

Casey’s Corner (Disneyland Park)
Café Hyperion (Disneyland Park)
Chalet de la Marionette (Disneyland Park)
Disney Blockbuster Café (Walt Disney Studios Park)
Club House Grill (Golf Disneyland)

Walt Disney Studios Store (Walt Disney Studios Park)
Goofy’s Pro Shop (Golf Disneyland)

Not that such an innovation needs a carrot to quash any possible stick, but Disneyland Paris are also offering trial users of the scheme an incredibly generous 25% discount at boutiques and 20% discount at restaurants!

Oh, but one more condition of the test — you need an Annual Passport, too.

Phew, we don’t see the man on the waterslide going through all this… but it’s definitely something to watch for the future. Find out all the official information (in French) right here.

Photo: Scrooge.

Sunday, 18th October 2009

Rockefeller rink at Hotel New York goes synthetic

Such a proposal — to replace the real ice rink we’ve become used to with a synthetic version — might have seemed like the perfect opportunity for any jaded Disney nuts to blast forth about how the company has “lost it”. Luckily, there’s no example set here.

Check out the classic, real version:

Rockefeller rink at Hotel New York goes synthetic

Then this first photo of the new rink, taken by Chris44 from Disney Magic Interactive:

Rockefeller rink at Hotel New York goes synthetic

And it looks… fine, actually. Don’t you think?

Look closely and you can see the joins, but considering that this new artificial surface is cheaper, easier to maintain and better for the environment, it’s a decision well made and at first glimpse, well executed. The finish appears much better than the patio slab-style rink feared. From the thoughts of those who tried it, the quality of the old surface wasn’t much to shout about anyway.

The big possibility this new rink opens up is that of year-round operation. It’s a popular feature of the months from November to April, so why not extend that? Have a perpetual Rockefeller Plaza ice rink outside Hotel New York; surely that’d be vastly better than the truly hideous kids’ go-kart driving circuit that has plagued the space for so many Summers now.

Yes, check into your expensive, “4 star” Disney hotel, look out of your window and see… this:

Rockefeller rink at Hotel New York goes synthetic

Ouch. Not very “New York chic”. A permanent ice rink, provided it’s well-maintained, would finally remove this from the resort’s black spot list (Studio 1 billboard, etc, remain).

Of course, we’d all probably still much rather see a return of the wonderful, giant map of Manhattan which is still hidden under there and used to be opened up into a giant water feature, but you can’t have everything.

To add a bit of history from our soon-to-open Euro Souvenirland.com (the Memorabilia section of DLRP Magic! is becoming its own website, plug plug), you can see here how the whole of Rockefeller Plaza used to be full of atmosphere…

Rockefeller Plaza at Hotel New York

…especially come nighttime, when they’d serve a romantic dinner under trees filled with glittering lights, as music from the hotel’s now long-gone Manhattan Jazz Club echoed through the air.

With one of the plaza’s forgotten outbuildings re-opened briefly as a café location this Summer and now a re-think of the ice rink with the possibility of extended operation, perhaps things are finally changing for the better on this side of Lake Disney?

Photos: © Disney; Chris44; Nicolai.

Sunday, 18th October 2009

Meet the New Generation of brochures

We actually saw the first of these images in September, featuring Sulley peeping out of a trapdoor as Buzz Lightyear, Princess Tiana and a host of other characters parachuted down in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. This new set of images, provided for travel companies to use as their Summer 2010 brochure covers, follow the same template.

The first is a real surprise. RC in the spotlight? A minimal character really only in the first Toy Story, who can’t even talk? Well, it’s a refreshing change from the usual Mickey, and he does have that still as-yet-unannounced attraction at Walt Disney Studios Park coming up next year. (Come on Euro Disney SCA, the game is up!)

Meet the New Generation of brochures

Next up, another star from Toy Story PlaylandSlinky Dog. Underneath him, Buzz peers out of a trapdoor in Main Street (you know, that trapdoor on Main Street), held up by Toy Soldiers, alongside four Little Green Men.

Meet the New Generation of brochures

In the background of this one, spot Emile from Ratatouille, Jessie with a suitably cow-themed parachute and, er, Nemo. In some of the images he’s been shown floating down in a kind of water bubble… not this time. You also have to wonder about the fate of racing car Lightning McQueen as he smashes to earth, but maybe we’re over-thinking the concept.

Sulley and Buzz Lightyer feature most heavily in the next option for those travel companies. This one we’ve already seen:

Meet the New Generation of brochures

Oh, well look at that! Lightning McQueen made it down safely!

Here we also spot a couple of new poses — yes, the folks at Pixar were nice enough to send over several different stock images of their characters — so we see Woody holding his cowboy hat as he parachutes and Buzz folding his arms. All in a day’s work for a toy who can fly!

Meet the New Generation of brochures

One nice feature of the parachutes concept, at least, is that most of them are becoming “themed” to their respective character. So we see Emile with a cheese-patterned parachute, Woody with one to match his shirt, etc. In case you still don’t “get it”, it seems like the “Big Idea!” on the giant boardroom paper pad for 2010 is to show these “new” characters “parachuting” into the parks to visualise their arrival and new-ness. Got it?

Plus, in these images, compared to the main New Generation Festival image (which will probably be the official Summer 2010 brochure cover) the characters floating down in the background have even actually been scaled and faded properly, so the image — however much still constructed like a series of stuck-on fridge magnets — does have a bit of depth.

Finishing up, we’ve got Rémy and Emile from Ratatouille.

Meet the New Generation of brochures

There you go. Expect to see those on a travel company brochure near you in just a few months. Now, if you were sitting in the offices of one of those companies, which would you choose? Strangely, the RC version looks the most appealing from here.

It’s worth repeating the slight moan from the article featuring the first of these images last month: what’s the need to mess with Sleeping Beauty Castle? Does sticking little Mickey silhouettes over its ornate stained-glass windows really achieve anything? If certain people had their way, would it not be a fantastical medieval palace but a monument to Mickey Mouse, with Mickey shapes on every spire and a hideous character decoration stuck on it’s fron… oh, wait.

And here’s one extra criticism not from DLRP Today. Member MagicStar on magicforum was keen-eyed enough to notice the odd situation to the left of the Castle, where one of the famous square trees has been… squashed! Clearly, that pesky castle wall the Imagineers designed was getting in the way of the character clip-art, so it had to be shrunk down… taking the tree with it! Even more oddly, there’s a spot of branch — or something — still there on the right, sticking up into the air. Good to see important images like these are checked thoroughly.

Even better — no, surely worse — something else has now cropped up on the left of these images, which isn’t there on the original one. Take a look just to the bottom-left of Tiana’s dress in the final image. Looks like the castle hill — almost — got the chop, but a dirty trail of Photoshop remnants was left behind.

Disneyland Paris marketing, we know your secrets.

Images © Disney.

Friday, 16th October 2009

Thierry Marx reinvents outdoor vending treats

Popcorn, the cookie and the toffee/caramel apple. Three of the kings of outdoor vending in Disneyland Paris, a resort with, in fact, very little variety in its snacks and treats from street kiosks.

The flavoured popcorn of Tokyo Disney Resort has yet to hit the parks over here, whilst the famous churros of Disneyland Resort have yet to oust the tasteless, pre-packaged “trio of doughnuts” from its unwelcome place on so many menu boards.

Is all that about to change? For a couple of months at least, yes. Famous French chef Thierry Marx has agreed to reinvent three of the parks’ staples using modern cooking techniques and some of his “molecular” tricks — a style of cooking where the science behind the process is as important as everything else. Perhaps he’s the French equivalent of Heston Blumenthal in the UK, only tackling popcorn and cookies rather than animal parts.

A press release and a series of photographs have been released today.

Thierry Marx réinvente l’art des friandises « street food » à Disneyland Paris

Le célèbre Chef a imaginé une nouvelle façon de savourer le pop corn, la pomme d’amour et le cookie pour un Noël gourmand et innovant à Disneyland Paris

Après le succès de la Pâtisserie Ephémère en l’honneur des bûches « haute couture » de Chantal Thomass, ORA ITO et Vanessa Bruno réalisées par Sébastien Gaudard, Disneyland Paris régale à nouveau les papilles avec une toute nouvelle expérience préparée par Thierry Marx, Chef emblématique de la cuisine moléculaire.

A l’occasion des fêtes de Noël, Thierry Marx présente trois créations inédites dans l’art de la gourmandise et de l’innovation. Le pop corn, la pomme d’amour et le cookie : trois plaisirs sucrés transformés grâce à une nouvelle interprétation qui promet de réveiller tous nos sens. A savourer uniquement dans les allées de Disneyland Paris.

From the classics:

Thierry Marx reinvents outdoor vending sweet treats Thierry Marx reinvents outdoor vending sweet treats Thierry Marx reinvents outdoor vending sweet treats

To the reinvention:

Thierry Marx reinvents outdoor vending sweet treats Thierry Marx reinvents outdoor vending sweet treats Thierry Marx reinvents outdoor vending sweet treats

Les “recettes magiques” d’un Noël tendance et gourmand dans les Parcs Disney

La pomme d’amour : « Souvent trop dure, j’ai voulu redonner à la pomme d’amour une certaine douceur en créant une pulpe de pomme verte, enrobée d’un sucre léger beaucoup plus diététique ».

Le pop corn : « Avec cette nouvelle interprétation, le pop corn est caramélisé en différentes cuissons avant d’être floqué d’une savoureuse couche de chocolat ».

Le cookie : « Ce dessert très enfantin préparé par les mamans, j’ai souhaité le transformer d’un biscuit dur en un biscuit moelleux grâce à de la crème de cookie ».

Passionné de « street food », le Chef étoilé réputé pour ses jeux de texture et de température a tout naturellement souhaité présenter ses trois créations sur un bâton, à l’instar de sucettes à croquer.

Thierry’s new Toffee Apple, Pomme d’Amour, tries to address the usual too-hard-to-bite snack by mashing and pulping the apple and then coating it in a lighter sugar, making it a little healthier.

The new Popcorn treats are caramelised using various techniques and then coated in a tasty layer of chocolate, resulting in an extra-large clump of chewy, chocolately goodness.

Finally, the humble Cookie has been reinvented with a softer, chewier bite than a regular biscuit thanks to extra cream and rich dough, all dipped in cookie crumbs.

Thierry Marx reinvents outdoor vending sweet treats Thierry Marx reinvents outdoor vending sweet treats Thierry Marx reinvents outdoor vending sweet treats

As you can see, the three special snacks exclusive to Disneyland Paris are presented on sticks as special tasters and will be available alongside the regular versions, as a seasonal special, during the Christmas events at Disneyland Park from 8th November 2009 to 5th January 2010. No specific locations have been stated.

And the price? An online article published just in advance of the press release states… €7. Seven Euros! For one stick? For two or three? It’s not clear.

Looking at these photos, we’d better have a diet plan and a lottery ticket ready for New Year…

Photos © Disney.

Wednesday, 14th October 2009

Mickey’s first Not-So-Scary night of ’09 in video

The first extra-ticket night of 2009 took place last Friday, 9th October, with three more Not-So-Scary parties still to come on the 16th, 23rd and 27th. The nights give guests special access to Disneyland Park from 8pm to 11pm for exclusive entertainment, character meet ‘n’ greets and far more attractions than in 2008.

Last year confined to Fantasyland, the party has spread in 2009 to include Frontierland, as far as Big Thunder Mountain and Phantom Manor, plus Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland. Main Street, U.S.A. and Central Plaza also now play a role, whilst the tally of attractions open in Fantasyland now stands at seven — including Peter Pan’s Flight and “it’s a small world”.

If reports from the first party are anything to go by, the queues — particularly outside of Fantasyland — are definitely on the light side. Kaleo on Disney Central Plaza forum, for example, notes a wait of just 5 minutes posted at Big Thunder for the entire party, although these events do grow in attendance as we get closer to Halloween itself.

So far as attractions, it’s looking good for your €25 entrance. But what of the special entertainment? Our thanks to DCP member fandlrpstyle for sharing the full programme online:

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties

Last year’s Merlin and the Witch Academy show returns at the Castle Courtyard for three performances at 20:30, 21:30 and 22:30, whilst Fantasy Festival Stage hosts regular performances of its Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too show, just the same as the daytime version.

The real highlight of the entire event, however, happens out on Central Plaza, where the new stage has been put to fantastic use for the huge new show “Le Spectacle Pas-Si-Trouille d’Halloween”Disney’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Show, as announced by show director Emmanuel Lenormand. Here’s a full video by Vidimouse:

This lengthy 20-minute spectacle has a pleasingly large (for Paris) cast of dancers and characters, as Mickey arrives in his purple Halloween suit to enjoy a “Not-so-scary” night amongst his Disney friends.

From Snow White to Belle, to a surprising (but very welcome and fitting) focus on The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the first half of the show sees a medley of relatively peaceful song and dance numbers. But, you’ve guessed what’s coming — Maleficent. Bursting up through the stage, just like her appearance in It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends during the day, she speaks live — and in English!! — to tell Mickey that Halloween should be scary. And then, we see the show again — from the Villains’ point of view, with the relevant villain theme songs and characters for each of the films just presented.

Happening twice each night during the events, at 9pm and 10pm, the show makes great use of a number of investments made around the area in recent years — the high-powered spotlights either side of the Castle, the new stage lifts and the on-stage pyrotechnic effects installed just this month. Though the numbers involved might restrict such a wish, this is probably the kind of thing we should have had every night during Halloween, rather than the small “cameo” within the regular Central Plaza show.

It at least gives us much more hope for the now-firework-free finale of the separate Disney’s Halloween Party on 31st October.

Closing the Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties is a cavalcade, just like last year. Except this time, it’s not the Disney Characters’ Express travelling down the Disneyland Park parade route but… Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars! Here’s another full video with thanks to Vidimouse:

Aside from the music, taken from Walt Disney World’s Disney Villains Mix and Mingle event, and a few extra characters, there’s little done to put a Halloween stamp on the regular Walt Disney Studios Park parade. It’s a unique chance to see the cars filing down Main Street, but probably not “special” enough for a special party night.

However, being given a few more free packets of Haribo — now the official “treats” of Halloween in Disneyland Paris, and handed out after each event during the party — when the cavalcade stops on Town Square, probably sweetens (sorry) the deal, right? Well, it helps.

For only their second year, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties have really grown up.

• Buy your tickets for the Halloween Party Nights at www.disneylandparis.com!

Wednesday, 14th October 2009

Studio 1’s 15 months of non-refurbishment

But this didn’t involve hidden cameras, silly disguises or breaking into Euro Disney SCA’s offices, oh no. Much tougher than that. DLRP Today had to assume the identity of… a regular guest. The kind of visitor who sees Main Street, U.S.A. as just “the entrance”; the kind of visitor who stops to photograph Disney characters rather than litter bins.

The kind of occasional, annual visitor who, visiting again for the second year in a row, might begin to wonder why that big — huge — building at the entrance of Walt Disney Studios Park still appears to be under refurbishment.

Disney Studio 1
Studio 1 in late August 2009 — you almost can’t see the join. Almost.

It was July 2008 that we were excitedly reporting the imminent refurbishment of Disney Studio 1. Why so enthusiastic? Because, if you’ve missed out, the story is much longer than that. The façade of the soundstage was first covered-over back in July of 2005, with a huge Chicken Little advertisement paid by Buena Vista International (now Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures).

This was swiftly followed up by a far larger, less sympathetic, billboard advertisement for Pixar’s Cars in April 2006. And here the story stagnates. This unpopular billboard stayed in place right through the 15th Anniversary, in total for no less than 2 years and 3 months, before finally being pulled down for the current “refurbishment” covering 15 months ago.

Disney Studio 1 Disney Studio 1
Past mistakes: Chicken Little (2005-06) and Cars (2006-2008)

So, if a casual guest were to email the resort’s Guest Communications department, casually wondering what was happening to the building, casually hoping for a finish date, as casually as possible… what would they say? Here’s what:

Dear Mr X,

Thank you for your correspondence concerning your recent visit to Disneyland® Paris.

I was pleased to learn that you were recently able to visit the Resort. Disneyland Paris strives to entrance its visitors by the dreams and magic with which they have come to associate the Disney name, and I sincerely hope that your stay provided you with some magical memories.

Upon receipt of your email I contacted the Quality Manager of Walt Disney Studios® Park in order to obtain his feedback on your query. He has advised that Studio 1 is currently undergoing refurbishment and that this work has just started and will continue for approximately 6 months.

Disneyland® Paris hopes to soon have the opportunity to welcome you once more to the resort.

Yours sincerely,

Wonderful! So, the refurbishment has finally just started! Six months is an awfully long time for a repaint, but come April 2010 the park’s indoor Hollywood street should finally be billboard-free and sparkling again!

Except… we got this reply back in July. A full three months ago.

Disney Studio 1
August 2008: We were naively excited to see Front Lot “return”.

So halfway into this refurbishment that as “just started”, what’s the latest? Anyone who has visited the park in that time can tell you — there hasn’t been a single worker there. Look up through the scaffolding and it’s empty, the building itself looking no different behind there. Unless Studio 1 is being stealthily repainted after park hours, the Quality Manager of Walt Disney Studios Park must have hit some problem just after that reply was sent.

Maybe we should bear in mind that the similarly-styled Walt Disney Television Studios building (now home to Stitch Live! and Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!) has also been undergoing a refurbishment since as far back as April this year. There, at least, we’ve seen visible progress — the building’s Art Deco accents repainted in red rather than turquoise — but still, it remains wrapped in scaffolding after six months.

Could the crews have been planned to move over to Studio 1 after this project finished, and they’ve since hit delays, or are we being far too generous? Six months is a long time to wait for that refurbishment to finish — but fifteen months to wait for one to start is even worse.

As the counter in our sidebar tells us: it’s Day 1528. The balance has swung. Under scaffolding for more than four years, Disney Studio 1 has now been covered over for far longer than the three years we got to see it as originally intended. In fact, at Disneyland Paris from 2006 to 2009, our former COO would never seen the front of the building in his entire time at the resort.

Disney Studio 1
One area of the Studios that looked better in 2002. Simply beautiful.

If Disney Studio 1 isn’t prominent enough, it’s also based on Walt Disney’s original Hyperion Studio soundstage. Having it covered first by two horrid advertisements, then scaffolding for an non-started refurbishment should be entirely shameful for Euro Disney SCA.

The EPCOT wand has met its match. Congratulations Paris, you did it. Now enough already. Can our incoming operations manager end this embarrassment once and for all?

Photos 1-4 DLRP Today.com; Photo 5 © Disney.

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