At least, that’s what’s happening if you believed our… April fool! …

Any fans checking out the PanoraMagique website last Monday would have been given the shock of seeing the balloon crashed to the ground, losing air and surrounded by people. No worry, a quick look at the homepage revealed the Disney Village attraction to be “closed for maintenance”.

We captured stills as the original 2005 balloon breathed out its last gasp of helium…

PanoraMagique balloon

PanoraMagique balloon

PanoraMagique balloon

So, where’s it gone?

At five years old, and no longer having its original, bright red and yellow colour, it appears to be time for a brand new balloon. The lifespan of these unique flying systems is more limited than your average Disney ride, since they were originally only intended as temporary observation attractions. When PanoraMagique opened in 2005, the operators signed a 7-year contract with Disneyland Paris. But, with the same company now also operating Characters in Flight at Walt Disney World, this is likely to have been extended.

So far, rumours have suggested that the new balloon on its way to Paris might have a slight innovation upon its predecessor — being lit from inside, possibly using LEDs, so that it can “glow” at night without the need for fierce spotlights from below.

However, we can reveal this isn’t the only change on the way to PanoraMagique — the whole look of the balloon is set to be refreshed with a brand new livery. These brand new, exclusive concepts below show the new, more colourful design for the helium bubble that will be setting the trend for the next five years:

PanoraMagique balloon

Yes, you guessed it — there’s Mickey Mouse. The balloon itself looks set to become a yellow and pink colour, with a blue band, whilst oversized character faces will smile down from each side.

As the detailed concepts for the ticket booth above show, the balloon also appears to be receiving a new name, or at least a sub-title, becoming “PanoraMagique… with Mickey & Friends!” on official nomenclature to signify the change. Only limited modifications will be made to the booth itself, with images of the balloon updated and new 3-D (or “2.5-D” relief) characters added either side of the signage, similar to those recently added to Walt Disney Studios Store.

PanoraMagique balloon

The basket itself, which doesn’t require replacement, looks to be keeping the same design.

Don’t think that this is a drive to increase patronage of PanoraMagique, though — as the second balloon in Florida shows, it has been a big success since its launch in 2005, attracting balloonists even on the cloudiest of days. Such a success, in fact, that it has become a real “icon” for the whole of Disneyland Paris, visible for miles around and from within both parks.

So, in effect, the resort wishes to capitalise on the balloon’s success — by using it to draw more guests into the quiet Lake Disney and Disney Hotels area. The hope is that, by placing giant character faces on the balloon, more families with young children will be tempted to go for a stroll around the lake area and visit other hotels, whereas now they are proven to turn back after Café Mickey.

The launch of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show… with Mickey & Friends! last April — and its subsequent success in turning around the fortunes of the flagging 17-year-old show — may well have set a precedent. As too may have the Mickey’s Magical Party decorations which, though unpopular amongst fans, apparently produced positive feedback from guests who appreciated seeing the characters on Sleeping Beauty Castle as they walked up Main Street.

Now, these familiar faces will be visible day and night, from everywhere in Disneyland Paris.

• Never been on PanoraMagique? Watch our HD video of a flight here!

Webcam photos © PanoraMagique/Aérophile, Concepts © Disney.

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