Tuesday, 13th October 2009

Paris operations chief named Disneyland president

The coveted position in California opened up after previous president Ed Grier stepped down last week, right on schedule at 3 years into the job.

For newly-promoted Kalogridis, this also ends a three-year reign. George became Chief Operating Officer (COO, or French title, Directeur Général Adjoint: Opérations) for Euro Disney SCA, operating group of Disneyland Paris, back in 2006 after Karl Holz was promoted to Chief Executive Officer.

George Kalogridis

In that time, we’ve seen new parades, new shows and no less than six new attractions — including of course, the formidable Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. We’ve also enjoyed a renewed focus on the resort’s upkeep and details, increasingly wonderful Cast Members, new initiatives like Extra Magic Hours and E-Tickets, and in pure number terms, the most successful years of the resort’s life to date.

Meanwhile, characters have taken over some of the magic of the original park, proper entertainment has been shunned in favour of street dance-alongs, attractions have been forced into reduced operating hours, hotel pools have stayed closed until 3pm, the official website has remained incredibly poor, and progress, generally, at Walt Disney Studios Park has been disappointingly slow and half-hearted. And of course, during his entire run as COO, George Kalogridis would never have seen the front of Disney Studio 1 — it being flanked first by Chicken Little and Cars advertisements, then later a “refurbishment” covering for the past 14 months.

Overseeing such a large programme of expansion should certainly have set him in good step for the continuing billion-dollar expansion and improvements still ahead at Disney’s California Adventure park, if his time overseeing the opening of that park didn’t already — he was their senior vice president of operations first, from 2000 to 2002. Further back, he has history in Paris as one of the original Cast Members on the pre-opening development team in 1988.

The past three years have been spectacularly successful for Disneyland Paris, and we can only hope that the incoming COO is somebody who knows exactly what Disneyland should be — (preferably the Californian or Japanese version, eh?) — and how to achieve that kind of quality more consistently in Paris.

Euro Disney SCA have yet to announce a replacement.

UPDATE (01:46 GMT) — The OC Register “Around Disney” blog has just posted an exclusive Q&A with George Kalogridis, with several interesting comments on the similarities between the California and Paris resorts and some operational tricks learnt in Paris. Here’s an excerpt:

Q. What have you learned from other resorts and your previous stint here that you can bring to the new job?

A. Probably, the one thing that’s most interesting is Disneyland Paris and Disneyland California are the two sites that are the most similar. Both have two theme parks, resort hotels and a retail-entertainment center. Both are in an urban environment. Secondly … in the last three years, I’ve opened a new major attraction each year in my time in Paris. So, I think I also have very recent experience opening a big new attraction. I see the same opportunity here.

Q. What lessons did you learn from the similarities of Disneyland and Disneyland Paris?

A. I think the dynamic of guest visitors and whether or not they choose to cross over to the other park and what makes them choose to do that. It’s an interesting dynamic. There’s no recipe for it. But it’s a big issue as to how you operate. I think we had some learning in Paris. For example, turning the direction of the parade made a big difference in terms of the crush exiting to get to the other park. Again, it’s not that it’s the right thing or the wrong thing here, but it’s learning. … I think the Paris site and this site are the only ones where guests can walk between two parks without a mode of transport.

And some good news for Disneyland Resort fans (and MiceAge columnists) — George states very specifically that “I’m in the parks and hotels more than I’m not. I’m a visible person. […] My goal is to be very visible. And in my time with the company, that’s always proven to be something that’s doable.”

Read the full Q&A here, or the original OC Register news item here.

Monday, 12th October 2009

E-Tickets finally meet Fastpass

If you’ve tried the print-at-home E-Tickets from www.disneylandparis.com already, you’ll know how convenient they are. Sure, you’re left with a boring, printed sheet of A4 paper — hardly something to keep as a souvenir — but they mean you can grab tickets almost instantly, days or even minutes before heading to the parks, skipping that queue at the gate.

But until now, there’s always been a critical downside — how do you collect Fastpass tickets? The short-term answer from Disneyland Paris has before now been to hand out blank or “dummy” collection tickets to E-Ticket holders at the gate, causing some long, slow-moving queues on busy days as the system is explained. The same size as regular park entrance tickets, these simply let you collect Fastpasses from the regular machines.

Now, at long last, a far better solution has been spotted by member LHDN92 on Disney Central Plaza forum:

E-Tickets finally meet Fastpass

Fastpass machines at Big Thunder Mountain have been given brand new ticket readers. The reader on the right is for magnetic strips, allowing you to collect a Fastpass by vertically swiping your regular park entrance ticket or Annual Passport. This is different to the old style machines, which required guests to insert their entire ticket and wait for it to be ejected back, taking a considerably longer amount of time.

Brand new, however, is the reader just to the left. As the simple illustration suggests, it’s an optical barcode reader specifically for print-at-home E-Tickets!

Why is that so great? Aside from the natural behaviour of a Disneyland Paris fan being to jump with excitement at any minor change — because it might finally return some fairness to the system. Those white dummy tickets, if you’ve never encountered them, basically grant Fastpass-printing privileges for life. They’re like something those bad guys from Pinocchio might taunt you with as you skip innocently down Main Street. Once you’ve got one, it’s hard not to use it unfairly.

Here’s the thing: They still operate with the same delay for your next ticket, but aren’t dated whatsoever. So, if you were given one back in May, you can use it on your next visit alongside your new ticket. And again, and again. Some frequent and local visitors have built up such a collection that they rely on a pocketful of dummy tickets to collect up Fastpass tickets for everything, all at once, snubbing any queue over 20 minutes.

And if you thought those long-standing rumours from every Disney resort of Fastpass becoming a solely paid-for system were only that, you’re… almost wrong. Type “Disneyland Paris Fastpass” into eBay (well, don’t) and you’re confronted by a dizzying list of these tickets, priced anywhere up to, say, £40 (€43).

E-Tickets finally meet Fastpass

They’ve spawned a kind of “black market” that has reaped substantial profits for those hoarding the tickets, at the expense of regular visitors, which the resort appears to have turned a blind eye to. Hardly fair for those who play by the rules with tickets or queue up properly.

So yes, this Fastpass development should be very positive in the long run — the blank dummy tickets will begin to dry up, at least. But the thing is — and we hate to blow the lid on another Fastpass trick — according to members at Disney Central Plaza, old entrance tickets still work.

Yes, if you didn’t know, you can often just insert (or now, swipe) your ticket from your last trip and collect an extra Fastpass, just like that. This isn’t just the case in Paris though, but a flaw of the system at other resorts too, so let’s overlook it for now and instead finish on a spot of praise for the end of dummy tickets and the start of a beautiful new relationship between E-Tickets and Fastpass. It’s about time.

Images: LHDN92, Disney Central Plaza; eBay.co.uk.

Monday, 12th October 2009

Let’s play New Generation spot the difference!

Yes, an odd thing about some of these advertising visuals being posted recently is that they’re sometimes still tinkered-with and altered even after they’ve apparently been finalised and published for travel trade use.

However, this one stands out.

New Generation Festival New Generation Festival
Original / Final Version

Beyond a few finished-up parachutes, someone, somewhere, was obviously worried that Mickey Mouse wasn’t there. “Will Mickey still be in the parks next year?!”, came the imagined cries. “Oh, I hope they don’t get rid of the Mouse!”

How do you solve a problem like Mickey? Pull out a stock image and slap it on there.

Phew, crisis over.

Images © Disney.

Saturday, 10th October 2009

First Tree Lighting Ceremony teaser released!

Announced as part of the Disney’s Fairytale Christmas press release, the Tree Lighting Ceremony will not only move back to Town Square but become an event in its own right once again, after several years spent as merely a background to the Castle’s illumination at Central Plaza.

It looks like we’re not the only ones eagerly anticipating the return either, as the resort’s publicity department have just released this rather lovely new image to advertise the “new” event:

Tree Lighting Ceremony

Featuring a young girl with Mickey Mouse, the tree itself is shown glowing in blue as trails of pixie dust surround it, the buildings of Main Street enclosing the cosy scene.

The use of blue might be interesting, since the old tree — which has been spotted backstage and is assumed to be returning — has no lights of the sort. So could the old tree be given a new lighting overlay? After all, with the event now based solely around it, it has to compete with the extravagance of the several hundred-thousand lights over on Sleeping Beauty Castle, which will still be illuminated — separately — as part of the final “Party Time” show of the day.

This slightly too modern, slightly cold blue LED-type display is already used for the 2005 Princess Chandeliers which line Main Street during the season. It would be a shame to see the warm and colourful old tree fall to this apparently fashionable colour for Christmas lights, even if it does need to be given a more impressive light-up programme.

Gushing with confidence, the press release states: “Every evening, guests are invited to a stunning brand-new show around the majestic Christmas Tree in Town Square. Enchanted illumination orchestrated by Mickey and Minnie Mouse in person promises to dazzle young and old alike with loads of magical Christmas surprises.”

Like any wonderfully clichéd Christmas movie, we’ll just have to wait for those days to fall from the calendar…

Image © Disney.

Friday, 9th October 2009

La Nouvelle Génération goes internationale

Each year and with every new event, Disneyland Paris has to translate and localise every inch of its publicity and marketing like no other theme park on earth. Last year, we saw everything from La Fête Magique de Mickey to El Año de Mickey.

Ready to go on a European tour for 2010?

French: L’Année de la Nouvelle Génération

New Generation Festival New Generation Festival

New Generation Festival

There’s no true translation for the way they’ve used “Festival” in the English name, the closest being “Fête”. Since that was already used last year, they’ve opted for — translated literally — “The Year of the New Generation”.

Due to the order of words needing to be flipped around, the blocks for “L’Année” are forced to appear at the top of the logo, whilst the entire name has had to be squeezed incredibly tightly to fit above the main Disneyland Paris logo in the third incarnation.

German: New Stars Festival

New Generation Festival New Generation Festival

New Generation Festival

No, Disneyland Paris hasn’t lost its German dictionary. The name here will be the same as the English, save for the less-understood “Generation” being switched out for “Stars”, commonly used to describe celebrities in Germany. “Festival” is in the German language, too, and most will understand the English spelling of “New”.

Unconfirmed, but it’s quite likely this version of the name will also serve the Benelux countries.

Spanish: El Festival de la Nueva Generación

New Generation Festival New Generation Festival

New Generation Festival

The particularities of the language force another inversion of the word order, placing “El Festival” on top of “Neuva” for the Spanish edition.

Italian: Festival della Nuova Generazione

New Generation Festival New Generation Festival

New Generation Festival

…With the same happening for Italian.

On the whole, the name translates well into each language. However, wouldn’t you agree it’s immediately clear that the English logo was designed first, with little thought of how it might be reconfigured for each international market? The choice of fonts, size of type, colours and layout — none of these versions look as balanced as the original.

Compared to the smartly laid-out English version — with the giant “New” underlined by a wider “Generation” and underlined by the blocks — many of these international versions look shoe-horned into place and, with the “de la” and “della” having to be added, rather clumsy.

The Toy Story-style blocks simply don’t look right hovering at the top of the logo, it’s clear it wasn’t designed that way originally. That the key visual of a parachuting Buzz Lightyear was released first in English and has yet to be localised seems to confirm the theory.

Still, if you’re reading this English blog well enough, you probably won’t have to see too much of these. The only one we’ll be seeing frequently might be the French “L’Année de la Nouvelle Génération” on any banners or decorations that might appear, similar to how “Mickey’s Magical Party” currently alternates with the French version around the parks.

Logos © Disney.

Thursday, 8th October 2009

Nostalgic return to Christmas past ahead

In fact, it’s looking like a truly nostalgic return to the events of Christmases past, as not only will a brand new Tree Lighting Ceremony be created for Town Square, but the seasonal “Celebration” overlay will finally return to “it’s a small world” after several years’ absence.

The Christmas Tree and the LEDs of the Crystal Castle will now be lit during separate events — the Castle being illuminated as part of a special finale to the last performance of It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends each day, similar to the current Halloween final show. And on Town Square, Mickey and Minnie Mouse will “orchestrate” an “enchanted illumination”.

Here’s the full press release for 2009:

The emotion and the magic of a Fairytale Christmas at Disneyland Paris

– From 8 November 2009 to 6 January 2010 –

Marne-la-Vallée, France – Beginning on 8 November 2009, the magic of Christmas will enchant Disneyland Paris. Winter will cast a snowy spell on each of the two Disney Parks, offering a brand-new, surprise-filled programme full of unforgettable memories for families and friends.

Nostalgic return to Christmas past ahead

A CHRISTMAS FILLED WITH DISNEY MAGIC

The magical atmosphere of a Fairytale Christmas

When the spirit of Christmas comes to Disneyland Paris, the Sleeping Beauty Castle becomes a sparkling Crystal Palace, Mickey Mouse and his Friends don their best winter costumes and guests eagerly wait to greet Beauty and the Beast in Belle’s Christmas Village… Snowflakes fall by the thousands over Main Street U.S.A.® and blanket the majestic Christmas tree that towers over Town Square. Décor straight out of the most beautiful Fairy Tales plunges guests into a unique atmosphere. Enchantment reigns during this wondrous Disney Christmas, allowing children to drop their wish lists into Santa Claus’ mailbox, located in the heart of the Disneyland Park.

New: Winter magic promises an abundance of lovely surprises, including an unforgettable encounter with Snow White and her Prince Charming at Castle Stage and the Tree Lighting Ceremony orchestrated by Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Town Square.

SANTA CLAUS RETURNS TO DISNEYLAND PARIS

Meet Santa Claus in his village at the Disneyland Park

The Christmas Holiday season is just around the corner. Santa Claus and his elves are busier than ever preparing to distribute thousands of presents. Santa has chosen to set up his workshop in the heart of the Disneyland Park to share all the magic of Christmas with children and to be closer to guests of all ages. With his fluffy white beard, his famous red suit and his bag overflowing with presents, no one can miss Santa Claus this year.

“Santa Claus’ Post Office” in the Disneyland Park

The dream continues all the way to a very special mailbox… Santa Claus’ Christmas mailbox. For this enchanted winter season, he has also set up “Santa Claus’ Post Office” to allow children to “mail” their letters and share their greatest wishes.

Children will also be delighted to receive a letter back from Santa when they return home several weeks following their visit. Wishes really do come true thanks to a Christmas signed by Disney Magic.

Location: Critter Corral – Woody’s Roundup Village – Frontierland –Disneyland Park

Disney’s Once Upon a Christmas Dream Parade

Aboard his bright and colourful sleigh, Santa Claus will be the guest of honour at the Disney’s Once Upon a Christmas Dream Parade! He will close this spectacular parade inviting everyone to dream alongside the Disney Characters.

Escorted by his Wooden Soldiers and Elves, in time to special Christmas music, Santa will spread all the magic of winter and Fairy Tales.

Nostalgic return to Christmas past ahead

ENCHANTING ENCOUNTERS WITH THE DISNEY PRINCESSES

New: Meet Snow White and Prince Charming

This Christmas is the right time for guests to discover and rediscover Walt Disney’s first masterpiece, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The magic of this delightful tale will come to life on the Castle Stage for an unforgettable encounter with Snow White and her Prince Charming.

And for the perfect last touch on this Disney Christmas, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated feature in Cinema history will be released on high-definition Blue-ray.

Belle’s Christmas Village

During this bright Christmas season, Disneyland Paris guests can enjoy the charm of Belle’s Christmas Village. Between picturesque taverns and traditional chalet stands blanketed in snow, Fantasyland will open its doors to the wonderful world of Disney classics for the Holiday Season. Whisked away by the magic of this tale in an enchanted world, guests can meet Beauty or the Beast while strolling down the streets of this authentic medieval village.

THE ENCHANTMENT OF DISNEY CHRISTMAS ENTERTAINMENT

New: Tree Lighting Ceremony at Town Square

Every evening, guests are invited to a stunning brand-new show around the majestic Christmas Tree in Town Square. Enchanted illumination orchestrated by Mickey and Minnie Mouse in person promises to dazzle young and old alike with loads of magical Christmas surprises.

Sleeping Beauty Castle Lighting SpectacularEach evening the Sleeping Beauty Castle undergoes transformation during an incredible illumination display. Over 400,000 lights transform the Castle into a genuine Crystal Palace before guests’ very eyes.

Disney’s Fantillusion

Disney’s Fantillusion Parade will be at its brightest for this Fairytale Christmas. Every evening, from 8 November 2009 to 6 January 2010, when night falls over Main Street, U.S.A., the dazzling night parade shimmers with the help of thousands of lights. The most beautiful Fairytales include Ariel, Aladdin and Jasmine, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, but also Mickey, Minnie Mouse and their friends who parade by, unveiling a lovely story with its happy ending before guests.

MICKEY AND HIS FRIENDS CELEBRATE AN ENCHANTED CHRISTMAS

It’s Party Time… with Mickey & Friends

To celebrate Mickey’s Magical Party, the Disney Heroes take the new Central Plaza stage by storm and perform their show in 360°. It’s Party Time… with Mickey & Friends! Guests learn the “Mickey Dance”, an easy-to-learn choreography perfect for spreading the party spirit across the globe.

And every day, for the Christmas Holiday season, the Disney Characters put on an exclusive finale signed by the magic of Christmas. Following the day’s last show, the Sleeping Beauty Castle is transformed into a sumptuous Crystal Palace to offer an exceptional shimmering display.

Mickey’s Winter Wonderland

Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, Donald and Chip ‘n’ Dale share the joy of winter sports during this show on ice designed to please the whole family. Through slapstick falls and snowball fights, Mickey’s Winter Wonderland celebrates the spirit and the enchantment of the winter season several times a day.

Location: Chaparral Theater – Frontierland

Meet Goofy Santa

For the Holiday season, Goofy just couldn’t resist putting his Santa suit back on! Perched atop his sleigh, he greets children of all ages in the Disneyland Park for a souvenir photo in Town Square.

Happy New Year!

On 31 December, the Disneyland Park welcomes guests until 1:00 a.m. for an unforgettable New Year’s Eve party. As the clock strikes midnight, a dazzling fireworks display emblazes the sky over the Sleeping Beauty Castle to bring in a bright and shiny new year.

Mickey’s Christmas Dinner

A unique gift to enjoy as a family for all Christmas Holiday buffs wishing to experience a privileged Disney moment.

This fantastic dinner will thrill the palates of both young and old alike. Beloved Disney Characters are impatient to join them in a lively dance party in the Disneyland Park.

Mickey’s Christmas Dinner can be savoured exclusively on 5, 12, and 19 December from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and includes private access to the Pavilion and privileged Meet’n’Greets with lovable Disney Characters. The delicious Christmas buffet sets the stage for a fun, dynamic and interactive celebration.

Missing above but featured in the French press release is “it’s a small world” Celebration, the resort’s one and only seasonal attraction overlay. It disappeared a few years ago, but they’ve seen sense and the nations of Small World will once again be celebrating New Year’s Eve in their own way from 21st November, with the attraction closed the two weeks beforehand for preparations and a general refurbishment.

“it’s a small world” Celebration

L’attraction “it’s a small world” célèbre elle-aussi les fêtes de fin d’année avec des costumes, musiques et décors dédiés. La plus joyeuse traversée en bateau de Disneyland Paris rend hommage aux traditions de tous les pays qu’elle représente, de la Scandinavie à l’Amérique du Sud, de l’Afrique à la Chine… Si les différentes nations ont leurs propres manières de fêter le nouvel an, “it’s a small world” Celebration honore l’esprit des fêtes adorées par les enfants du monde entier !

A partir du 21 novembre 2009.

Also new this year is the Snow White event on the Castle Stage we reported in August, confirmed above, whilst everything from Santa Claus’ Village and Post Office to Mickey’s Winter Wonderland, Belle’s Christmas Village to the special Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade finale all return. The season continues to grow in every respect.

However, it’s the return of the Tree Lighting Ceremony which will no doubt be the highlight of the season this year. Not that there was anything technically wrong with the Central Plaza-based illuminations shows we’ve seen since 2003, but they never managed to get that tear of emotion in your eye, as anyone who saw the old ceremony will tell you.

Now based back around the tree at Town Square, hopefully the new 2009 ceremony will recapture some of that cosy, old-fashioned magic the previous events shunned for Princesses.

Images © Disney.

Tuesday, 6th October 2009

Halloween 2009 events roundup, party surprises

Just like that, the nights are dark and the leaves are falling. And since the Saturday just gone, 4th October, Disneyland Paris is back in the Halloween spirit for — with great coincidence — its 13th season.

Disneyland Paris Halloween 2009

Disneyland Paris Halloween 2009

So what’s new? For the past two years the festival had to coincide with the eternal 15th Anniversary celebrations. This year, it has to battle Mickey’s Magical Party for airtime. In this great big roundup of all things Halloween, we’ve quotes from DLRP Magic!.com‘s interview with festival director Emmanuel Lenormand and some fresh videos pulled from YouTube along the way.

This is Halloween – let’s hope we’ve no need to scream.

Jack Skellington & Sally move to Cottonwood Creek

The Nightmare Before Christmas pair were so popular during their inaugural season in 2008 that they’ve had to be given a wider area than Phantom Manor‘s Boot Hill. This year, they’re over by Cowboy Cookout Barbeque instead…

Halloween Opening Parade

…but do again appear in the rather dull-titled “Halloween Opening Parade”. The pre-parade to Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade this year features lots of Pumpkin Men (or Pumpkinfolk), a horse and cart carrying the couple and the old Carollers/Snow White/Seasonal float carrying Cruella, Gaston, Stitch and other “Villains”, all set to the music of Florida’s HalloWishes fireworks “This Is Halloween”/”Grim Grinning Ghosts” remix.

Here’s the pre-parade moving past (40 seconds in):

And a show stop on Town Square:

Anything to add? Oh yes, definitely don’t look at Hong Kong’s Halloween parade.

It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends… and the Disney Villains

…and a Ridiculously Long Name. This is only one performance mind — the first three shows of “It’s Party Time…” each day run as normal, with only the final show (currently at 7pm) being given a light Halloween touch.

Emmanuel Lenormand wasn’t being modest when he described it as “only a camera” in his recent backstage interview. Just as the show is wrapping up, thunder claps and the usual Halloween sound effects herald the arrival of Maleficent via the stage lift usually reserved only for Mickey.

(jump 5 minutes 35 seconds in)

Apparently the witch is there because she’s upset not to be invited to Mickey’s Magical Party (clearly she hasn’t had to stand through “It’s Dance Time…” like the rest of us). The purpose of her arrival will be lost on a vast majority of guests, however, since she speaks only French. Yes, it’s Goofy’s Summer Camp all over again. Not all that long ago, Entertainment would have ensured a mixture of languages and then possibly a repetition of what’s happening from each language.

But huh, who cares. Soon enough, rather than doing something, er, “villainy” as you might expect, the now collection of baddies suddenly begin to take part in yet another rendition of the so-called “Mickey Dance”. You can’t deny it’s funny to see the Old Hag from Snow White bopping away to the rock-pop theme song, but for the past few years the festival was been built around a centrepiece show here on Central Plaza. Now that focal point is just a silly dance.

A touch which feels more special, though, is the addition of pyrotechnics to the stage as Mickey disappears towards the end (which can be seen at 10 minutes 15 seconds in the video above). They produce a whole lot of smoke but make for a great finale. Apparently they were meant to be there for every show, since April.

It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland

Though not marked on the Programme as being part of Halloween, Emmanuel Lenormand does comment: “There will also be a similar cameo at the end of It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland.”. Naturally, we’re all expecting Gaston and Cruella De Vil going wild to the show’s quintessentially Disney number “Shake Your Booty”, and nothing less.

If you’ve seen the real “cameo”, do comment below.

Minnie’s Halloween Party Train

Now on version number 2,561 of this meet ‘n’ greet train, the park has redecorated the carriages with thorny vines and pumpkins, adding Halloween sound effects over the already saturated soundtrack. The bigger change, though, is that the train now only makes it as far as Town Square, doing a loop around the Gazebo before stopping for the characters to step down.

There’s a bit of a blunder with the introduction, however, as the train is announced as the old “Disney Characters Express”, yet later, Minnie’s ear-piercing voice of 2009 continues to play, so guess away at how that mix-up happened. D’oh! And to think Minnie’s Party Train so nearly got away with guests thinking it was a “brand new” event!

Disney Witches Dancing Spells Party

The difficult name might not exactly inspire, but from Emmanuel’s words this new show on the temporary Trick or Treat Stage near Cowboy Cookout Barbeque sounds like it might be the hit of the season. The stage has been redressed, given a proper set — even special effects. Maleficent and the Old Hag from Snow White battle it out with the help of placed audience members.

“In this show, Maleficent and the Old Hag from Snow White arrive in a cemetery during the night to have fun with their cauldrons and spells to invent new potions. Four children/dancers passing by are going to be choreographically transformed according to the Hag’s and Maleficent’s potion ingredients.

“For that show, Jérôme Picoche came up with some superb scenes, with the transformation of the tombs into cauldrons, with effects everywhere, and a cool ambiance!”

Unfortunately nothing appears to have made its way online yet, so we’ll keep you posted.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties

This year, the extra-ticketed events take place on 9th, 16th, 23rd and 27th October and have thankfully been extended beyond Fantasyland to also include Frontierland and Pirates of the Caribbean. Last year, everyone was kept inside Fantasyland for the duration.

Emmanuel elaborates: “It was such a success last year that we decided to fully open Central Plaza and Frontierland for the occasion. There will be a brand new show in front of the Castle with Disney Characters, in which each good character with confront his or her evil counterpart! And again, there will be lots of candy and sweets handed out.”

“There will also be a Disco Party in Frontierland. The whole place will be filled with dance and fun everywhere! With all of our dancers and Disney Characters, it’s going to be terrific!”

Disney’s Halloween Party (31st October 2009)

And on the big night itself… there’ll be not a bang in the sky. The big talking point for 2009 is what amounts to the cancellation of the usual Halloween Soirée fireworks show. Over the years, they’ve been good and they’ve been underwhelming, changing almost every year. But this year, there’ll be nothing at all after midnight.

Instead, Emmanuel has been helping to prepare a brand new “Light and Sound Show”. Getting that sinking feeling? Don’t judge too soon — as Emmanuel revealed, “we’re going to revisit the elements that made last year’s show such a success — projections, dancers, etc — but enhanced a million times! You’ll have up to 60 artists, projections, pyrotechnic effects and the Castle transformed into a stage itself!”

Last year’s finale show, in case you didn’t catch it online or in the park, was one of the most impressive to date, using the old Central Plaza stage for dancers and a very rare appearance by Sorcerer Mickey — who even did his special pyrotechnic trick usually reserved for Fantasmic! in the States.

Beyond possible noise or cost issues, there’s one good reason to scrap fireworks in the unwelcome early closures it brings to the whole back half of the park. “The idea is to have Mickey confronting the forces of evil with lots and lots of surprises: black light effects and lots of projections.”

“In fact, we’ve got a new projection system which is really effective, so you’ll be able to see giant characters and news ways to animate the walls and the windows of the Castle. It’ll look really different.” All things considered, maybe this kind of imaginative, one-off show is actually better than the same old low-level squibs we’d see otherwise.

And finally…

The Decorations

Oh, Halloween at Disneyland Paris. It’s love/hate. You’ll mostly see the same old things around the park this year — that means Main Street trashed by orange paint and Frontierland turned to Halloweenland with a hodgepodge of items from across the years. At worst, these creations still unfortunately treat Disneyland like a lifeless canvas, rather than actually complementing its themes and bringing extra life to the lands.

However — the poorly-judged (or quite simply poor) Pink Witches are entirely gone, as are most of their most awful remnants (the astonishingly bad “Travel Agency” desk, for example). Jack and Sally have begun to be represented in several places, most notably on the former “Pink Witches Academy” arch, and several other assorted new pieces have popped up that are really rather pleasing. Some of the older items, like the crypt arch, have been repainted in nicer new designs, finally incorporating purple into the colour scheme.

It seems like they finally know the direction to take Halloween in, but the issue yet again is money. For such a key season, now one of, if not the most important season for markets like the UK, Halloween in Paris is sorely under-funded when it comes to decorations. Everything is rehashed over and again. Hopefully sometime next decade they’ll finally be given the cash to invest in proper, comprehensive overlays in the more sensitive style of those seen in California.

And what about Halloween at Walt Disney Studios Park? After all, even Tokyo DisneySea launched a “rival” Halloween event to its next-door neighbour this year with great success. Well, Emmanuel is posed that very question — but isn’t exactly forthcoming.

• Read the full interview with Emmanuel Lenormand here!

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

Tuesday, 6th October 2009

Another week, another new Programme

It seems like only a few weeks ago we were adjusting to a new layout for the all-important Programme. Probably because it was just a few weeks ago.

Well, they’ve been at it again! Take a look:

Another week, another new Programme

Another week, another new Programme

The new format spreads itself much more freely over three pages, with one side for each park.

Rather than having both times grids together in the middle, they’re now positioned horizontally on each park’s page, surrounded by additional images and graphics. On the front, the “featured” events remain from the previous design, giving extra prominence to the key events of the day.

For the Disneyland Park programme, the entire side has been given a very smart Halloween dressing, far better than we’ve become used to in recent years. The Halloween events themselves are picked out with an orange background, courtesy of the new full-colour printing method.

Will it be all-change again once Halloween is over? Hopefully not — the Programme could look fantastic with a full-colour Christmas overlay, although whether such “extravagance” would continue into the quieter Winter months is debatable. This format is surely somewhat more expensive than the previous, greyscale on lower grade paper, but does help make the Halloween Festival seem that little bit more special.

Tuesday, 22nd September 2009

Official text confirms more New Generation details

In the last 2010 update, we learnt the final name for next year’s Disney Characters Party Train Express rehash — Disney All Stars Express. This time, we find out the final names of the reworked Central Plaza show and the four year-old Monsters Inc. corner, plus a few other exclusive snippets.

New Generation Festival

This “official text” will be what you’ll see in holiday brochures and other publications in a few months. Here we go with the first section:

Disney new generation festival

A new generation of Disney stars and stories are landing for one year only at Disneyland® Paris from April 2010.

Join the festival-fun at the all-new generation shows and parades – where new Princess Tiana jazzes up the Once Upon a Dream Parade, and gourmet chef Remy* drives you wild with excitement in Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars. Or choo-choo-choose which star to meet first on the Disney all stars express and at Monsters Inc. Scream Academy* –shriek n’ greet like no other!

And, starting from Summer, shrink to the size of a toy in Toy Story Playland* for the BIGGEST new family attractions: Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog(1) Zig Zag Spin and RC Racer(2).

Finally, gather in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle for a true Disney showstopper finale – an all-singing, all-dancing, all-together perfect end to the perfect day.

The Disney new generation festival might only last a year but your all-new memories will last a lifetime.

*Inspired by Disney•Pixar films Ratatouille, Monsters, Inc., Toy Story
(1) Slinky®Dog is a registered trademark of Poof-Slinky, Inc. All rights reserved.
(2) Hot Wheels® is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. Hot Wheels® Trademark and Track Used With Permission © 2009 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

So there we go, all the events officially confirmed. You can notice already the huge amount of legal baggage that has come with the real-life toy themes of Toy Story Playland, with the owner of each element having to be credited on every single piece of promotional material.

Note also that the new Central Plaza show is now definitely set to be a single finale to the day, rather than the current schedule of four shows throughout the afternoon.

New Generation Festival

The second page continues with more on those events being provided by the resort’s Entertainment department:

Shows & Parades

Welcome Princess Tiana to the Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade
Princess Tiana from Walt Disney Pictures’ “The Princess and the Frog” brings a little jazz, snazz and pizzazz in the Once Upon a Dream Parade. She is joining the Disney Princesses in their Dreams of Romance. Hop along with your little ones to twist and twirl to the romantic music from each of their worlds and give a warm welcome to this new Princess.

Ratatouille(1) starring in Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars
Drive your little ones wild with excitement as Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars presents the all-new Ratatouille roadster. It’s a party on wheels that goes into a spin when Remy pulls up alongside you! Get a taste of his cooking capers and the other crazy cars and characters. It’s the perfect recipe for a fun-filled motorcade.

Disney all star express
Get on track with the festivities on the Disney all stars express. This is your ticket to choo-choo-se which of your favourite Disney new generation Characters you want to meet n’ greet first. Will it be Buzz(3) ? A rendez-vous with Remy(3) ? Shootin’ the breeze with Woody(3) ? All aboard! It’s Minnie and her all stars express!

Disney showtime spectacular
It’s Showtime! It’s time to shine. It’s time to gather in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle on Central Plaza stage for an explosion of music from maestro Mickey. Together with an all-new A-list of guest stars it promises to be an all-singing, all-dancing all-new showstopper finale!

Monsters Inc.(2) Scream Academy
All screams are welcome at Disneyland® Paris. Thrill-filled shrieks, surprised yelps and screams of delight! At Monsters Inc. Scream Academy we welcome screams to break the decibel meter! Join in the tonsil-tingling fun as you shriek n’ greet Sulley and scream as loud as monster-possible – it’s ear-popping fun for all the family.

(1)Inspired by Disney•Pixar’s Ratatouille
(2)Inspired by Disney•Pixar’s Monsters, Inc.
(3)Inspired by Disney•Pixar’s movies Toy Story, Ratatouille

Confirmed here are the names of the new Central Plaza show — Disney showtime spectacular — and the Monsters Inc. corner in Toon Studio — Monsters Inc. Scream Academy.

But wait, didn’t the newly-named Monsters Inc. Scream Academy, with its light-up “scream monitor” canisters, already open way back in April 2006? Obviously the wording is clever here — there’s no statement that this is a “new” attraction (because it certainly isn’t), but the inclusion alongside other new events certainly gives that impression.

Will it offer anything more than the scream canisters and Sulley meet ‘n’ greet it’s been hosting for almost four years? Possibly a little something new, at least: A comment by “zanderstarz” on our first article about the festival states it has been confirmed internally that little girl Boo will also make appearances — a character never seen in Paris before.

And now, this could prove to be nothing, but did somebody forget to hold down the Shift key, or press Caps Lock? There’s a huge “FINAL VERSION” stamp across the top of this PDF, but right throughout the entire text the festival is referred to not as “New Generation Festival”, in that boring, grammatically-correct style, but as “Disney new generation festival“. The renamed character train is not “Disney All Stars Express” but “Disney all stars express“, and the bravely-titled Showtime Spectacular is, in fact, typed up as “Disney showtime spectacular“.

It’s not like whoever typed this “final version” doesn’t understand capital letters — they’re used perfectly on every other name. And add this to the mystery — the category for the 2010 events on the official trade website changed on Monday from “New Generation Festival” to the entirely lower case “new generation festival“, something which would surely have to be done manually.

We’re still waiting for confirmation if these lower-case names are for real. Who knows, maybe they’ll release a “txt spk” version in SMS shorthand, to truly capture the new generation!

New Generation Festival

And finally, the part of the celebration we care about the most:

Toy Story Playland

Opening Summer 2010 at Disneyland® Paris

Toy Story Playland has the BIGGEST new family attractions. They’re GIANT – when you’re shrunk to the size of a toy! Join the toys for playtime in Andy’s backyard where everyone can explore this oversized world with its three larger-than-life rides – Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin and RC Racer. Andy’s away and the toys are ready to play!

Toy Story Playland is inspired by Disney•Pixar film Toy Story

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop
Attention! Your mission – join Andy’s troops for a high flying adventure – Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop. When Sarge yells “Go! Go! Go!” , hold on tight as you fall from way up high in a simulated parachute drop. Over and out!!

Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin
Everyone’s tongues and tails are wagging about the all-new “zigzag-a-coaster” Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin. Family pups of all sizes will howl with laughter as they join Slinky in a rollicking spin to catch his own tail. It’s barking mad fun in Toy Story Playland.

Slinky®Dog is a registered trademark of Poof-Slinky, Inc. All rights reserved.

RC Racer
Andy’s speediest toy car is sure to get you and your family’s adrenaline pumping. RC Racer is the most thrilling new ride in Toy Story Playland. Race along a 25 metre-high half-pipe coaster, as RC zooms you around at full speed…it’s a real gas.

Hot Wheels® is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. Hot Wheels® Trademark and Track Used With Permission © 2009 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Along with plenty of spin about these being the “BIGGEST” new family attractions, we do actually get a long-awaited confirmation of just how big: The RC Racer halfpipe will be 25 metres tall! That’s less than half the size of Tower of Terror and just a touch taller than Disney Studio 1 or the Sorcerer’s Hat.

We also get a date — Summer 2010, which confirms again that all those “new” entertainment events are actually going to be much-needed for the first few months (events begin in April), when this celebration’s centrepiece will still be a building site.

Thursday, 17th September 2009

X-Ray checks at the Disneyland park gate

Chances are you’ve had your baggage, err — examined — when entering either park at Disneyland Paris. A quick look inside, a hesitant squeeze from underneath and a blank nod to let you through.

…As if they couldn’t tell already from the Donald Duck baseball cap, Walt Disney Studios jacket and array of cameras that the only ones who need be worried about you are the other people running straight to the Big Thunder Mountain Fastpass line…

Next time, though, things might go a bit differently. Spotted at the gates of Disneyland Park on the final Wednesday of August (still catching up a bit on news here), was a full airport-style X-ray machine and metal detector, housed in a special green tent next to the regular bag checks.

X-Ray checks at the Disneyland park gate

X-Ray checks at the Disneyland park gate

Guests entering the gate with suitcases (say, heading to the Guest Storage or to Disneyland Hotel) were asked to move across and join the extra line, as were a random selection of other guests waiting in the queues to enter. The check was treated just as another line, and in fact appeared to be gone (or out of use) just a few days later.

These security measures appear to be a new addition to the park gate, though they have been spotted at the park entrance by the side of Disneyland Hotel in the past. The machinery here was hidden well behind the tent and no doubt made things much easier for people with large luggage, worried about having to open up and display their worldly possessions to everyone else in line.

Over at Walt Disney Studios Park, the security check remained a quick look inside your bag. And of course, once inside, you can hop between both parks. Probably for good reason, it all remains more about deterrents than an exhaustive process.

Pictures: DLRP Today.com

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