Friday, 30th December 2011

Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade won’t be suspended for “Magic on Parade” makeover

Here’s a little relief for anyone planning a trip to in the next three months, before the launch of the 20th Anniversary: Disneyland Paris has confirmed to us that the parade route won’t be left empty while the current Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade undergoes its makeover into the new Disney Magic on Parade!. Some may have feared such a transition would require the original 15th Anniversary parade to take a leave of absence before its 1st April 2012 relaunch.

The production will, however, be left without two of its key floats for much of the period — those which have been previously confirmed to see more extensive redesigns. From 9th January until the launch of Disney Magic on Parade! on 1st April, the opening “Dreams of Imagination” unit will be missing as it is transformed into  a new float for Disney’s fairies and sorcerers. The storybook base will remain, but a fairytale castle will replace the iconic smiling Moon and hot air balloon Sun which have hosted Mickey Mouse and the other VIPs since 2007. Mickey and friends will instead be given prime position on the former “Dreams of Romance: Finale” unit, which will be taken out of service from 16th January until the launch of the new parade. The current fairytale hillside and crystal château look will be turned into a Fantasia-esque pink and blue landscape, with golden broomsticks dotting the cliff side, Sorcerer Mickey standing atop the peak and the other characters in similar sorcerer-esque costumes.

It is likely the characters from these two units will continue to feature in the parade but as walking dance units, similar to when floats have been taken out for refurbishment or maintenance.

Concept art for the new units, above, was leaked earlier this month via the Dutch Café Mickey forums.

Princess fans will be reassured that the final unit’s commandeering by Mickey Mouse won’t mean a lack of Disney royalty in the new parade. Instead, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen will permanently join Ariel and Prince Eric on the “Dreams of Romance: Prelude” unit, as will newly-christened royalty Rapunzel and Flynn, from Disney’s Tangled, who replace Aladdin and Jasmine on the unit. Cinderella and Snow White, along with their respective princes, will follow up on stylised horse-drawn carriages.

Additional new characters will also be added for the revised opening float: Tinker Bell, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather (the Three Fairies from Sleeping Beauty), the Fairy Godmother (from Cinderella), the Blue Fairy (from Pinocchio) and Merlin (from The Sword in the Stone). No changes have been announced for the other five floats of the original parade. New costumes and a new soundtrack are expected throughout, although rumours also suggest that the “Dreams of Power” villain unit will be removed from the new parade, possibly returning only for Halloween.

Monday, 19th December 2011

Swiss Family return to Adventureland as La Cabane des Robinson reopens right on schedule

We almost thought we wouldn’t get to climb up into the branches of the Swiss Family Treehouse again this year. But the closure of La Cabane des Robinson, which had been ongoing for months, since the first half of 2011, has now finally come to an end with a successful re-opening this weekend. As the picture above by @InsideDLParis shows, this classic walkthrough can still be quite the guest magnet, especially on a busy peak season Sunday when all the major rides have unforgiving queues.

Despite being closed for the majority of the year, refurbishment work only visibly began on the treehouse as late as October or November. In that time, vast amounts of the wooden stairways and banisters which wrap around the tree have been replaced with fresh materials. The water wheel irrigation system would appear to remain out-of-action, and the attraction could still dearly do with some additional, closer love and care in the new year to bring it fully up to “opening day” grade, now that the basics have been sorted. But hurrah, at last, for the return of the Swiss Family Robinson!

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Tuesday, 29th November 2011

Disney in ice! Disneyland Paris sets the theme for Bruges Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival

First sand, now ice: The weather in north west Europe might still be unseasonally mild outside, at least compared to this time last year when we were being hit by heavy snow, but that hasn’t hampered the efforts of the “Ice Wonderland” Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival in Bruges, Belgium one bit. For the first time, Disneyland Paris has lent itself as the theme of the event, with the artists creating giant sculptures of its landmarks and characters. In a controlled environment of -6 °C, ice sculptors were allowed to work only limited hours due to the cold — but look at the results!

Following this Summer’s popular Sand Sculpture Festival on the coast at Blankenberge, the focus here is more on Disney characters than the parks’ lands and attractions. There’s the famous Partners Statue created entirely out of ice and a whole parade of stars from WALL-E to Toy Story, The Jungle Book to Beauty and the Beast and beyond. The event is being held in the Stationsplein at Bruges (Brugge) until 15th January 2012. You can find out more at ijssculptuur.be and, for a whole photo tour of the sculptures, be sure to check out Brakesection.be’s report from the event!

VIA Brakesection.be

Saturday, 26th November 2011

Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars officially drops stage production stop for full run of the parade route

They’re going the wrong way! It seems like the set-up for a classic something-goes-wrong Disney attraction, but the diversion of Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars at Walt Disney Studios Park you see above is actually entirely planned. Since May this year, in fact, the plan has been for the part-parade, part-show event to become a simple linear cavalcade, passing on its original Production Number show stop at Place des Stars. From Friday, the “logistical issues” which had delayed the change were finally overcome when Donald and Daisy led the parade down Rue George Méliès toward Backlot for the very first time.

Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars now follows the park’s original parade route, entering in Toon Studio between Flying Carpets Over Agrabah and Animagique, passing past Disney Bros. Plaza and exiting between Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith and Disney Blockbuster Café, without stopping. This is the first time the whole parade route has been used since Disney Cinema Parade ended its run way back in March 2008. Though guests no longer get to see the fun 10-minute musical production starring the cast of characters and their drivers, running the parade right through the park immediately allows almost twice as many people to catch a front-row glimpse of the stars.

We noted at the event’s arrival in 2009 how the small, low-level Place des Stars stage wasn’t really suitable for a “main event” like this, allowing so few people to get a good view, which must had led to many poor guest experiences. The only downside of this extended parade run is that the twelve cars appear exactly as before, only with Donald and Daisy taking the lead while Mickey and Minnie provide the finale behind 2010’s added Ratatouille car. Without any dancers or action in-between the vehicles, or a stage show to provide a raison-d’être, does the cavalcade stand up as a parade on its own?

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Thursday, 24th November 2011

Fan Survey: Disneyland Paris asks its fans “How are we doing?” in exclusive online questionnaire

In a unique first, Disneyland Paris is launching an official online survey, right at this moment, seeking only the feedback of one particular group of visitors: the fans! The questionnaire aims to not only build more of an understanding about why we become fans and what we appreciate the most about Disneyland, but what we expect from our relationship with the resort.

Don’t expect any questions asking you whether you’d rather see Splash Mountain or Indiana Jones Adventure as the next E-Ticket, but do be prepared for some very intriguing questions about where Disneyland Paris may take its relationship with fans next. Suggestions throughout the survey include an official blog, perhaps similar to the existing Disney Parks Blog, or even an official discussion forum. The possibility of “fan events”, which could mean anything from simple gatherings to special events such as those for D23 in the U.S., is mooted several times.

On the subject of what would be most likely to draw us back to the magic, we’re given several options: from “New Attraction” right at the top (we’ll all click that one, right?) to more minor occasions such as a new character meet ‘n’ greet or even a new piece of merchandise.

You’ll also have a chance to share feedback on the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts for Disneyland Paris, which were only launched in early 2010. Do you think those accounts do a good enough job of communicating with visitors, sharing the magic of the resort and the latest news?

One particular section of the survey (above) asks whether you currently visit any websites related to Disneyland — and if so, which ones. There’s a “Dlrp Today” box on there which, once clicked, grants you our eternal gratitude. For extra bonus points — but of course only if you use the websites — you could add “DLRP Magic” or our friends “Photos Magiques” to the “Other” box at the bottom.

The survey only takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete, depending on how much you write, but it’s open from now until 12th December 2011, so there’s no need to rush to fill it in if it’s not convenient right now. No personal details are required, but you can optionally give your email address to be informed of any future surveys. As an exclusive survey just for fans it won’t be communicated via the more “mainstream” channels such as the resort’s Facebook page (with its 1.3m+ fans), so we should all make sure to seize this unique opportunity to give feedback and tips direct to Disneyland Paris, which may lead to a better experience for us and even greater success for the resort we love.

Update: Some Firefox users have reported problems completing the survey. Use Internet Explorer, Safari or Google Chrome instead, if you can!

Thursday, 24th November 2011

La Cabane des Robinson restoration underway ahead of 17th December reopening

Great news, treehouse fans: The Swiss Family Robinson have finally begun their restoration work at La Cabane des Robinson. Closed for much of the year, the Adventureland walkthrough became a hot topic as fans debated the reason for its closure. With these recent photos by DisneyGazette showing scaffolding amongst its branches and a large amount of new bamboo wooden railings winding their way up around the trunk, it appears the tree simply required the same restoration work as many other areas of the park this year. In particular, much of the wood in the area of Thunder Mesa at the entrance to Frontierland was completely replaced back in September. Here, Disney will be ensuring the tree’s elevated walkways remain safe to explore, as well as fresh and lived-in.

With a lack of funds and the climate being frequently cold and damp, Disneyland Paris hasn’t kept up as well as it should with treating and replacing these more natural elements of the park. Hopefully the large financial investment in the park’s “assets” this year will be the start of a new era.

One thing we would dearly love to see for the Swiss Family Treehouse is a full replacement of its artificial vinyl leaves. Where it should be thick and green with 300,000 leaves, the branches now instead look somewhat wintry and windswept as leaves have gradually fallen off over the past 20 years. How Disney could go about re-attaching them is anyone’s guess, as they were originally stuck in place to the branches at ground level (see this fascinating video). It’d surely be an arduous and expensive process, but would certainly make guests appreciate all the more this not-so-hidden gem. (As would a long-dreamed-of reinstatement of the tree’s ingenious fresh water plumbing system.)

So while it may not be as luscious as it could on top, La Cabane will at least look a far fresher home for the Robinsons on the inside when it officially reopens on 17th December.

VIA DisneyGazette

Wednesday, 23rd November 2011

Mark Stead replaces Greg Richart as Chief Financial Officer for Disneyland Paris

There’s a change at the top for Disneyland Paris today, in the form of a new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Euro Disney S.C.A., the company behind the European resort, announced late yesterday that Mark Stead has replaced Greg Richart in the role. Mark joined Disneyland Paris in 2006 and has held the position of Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer since 2009. He previously worked with international media conglomerate Vivendi in Paris and studied at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Appointed to CFO, he faces the unenviable challenge of helping the resort to continue working out of annual losses towards profitability in the midst of a “Eurozone crisis”, while the company fights to maintain annual investment levels — or agree one-off expenses.

Greg Richart has been appointed to The Walt Disney Company as Senior Vice President, Operations, Planning and Analysis. He had held the role of CFO since 2009, having also been promoted from Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer. He originally joined The Walt Disney Company in 2003 and moved from Burbank to Paris in 2007.

“Mark’s knowledge of Euro Disney and his remarkable contribution over the last 5 years, with his strong leadership and strategic thinking make him a natural choice for his new role” said Philippe Gas, CEO of Euro Disney S.A.S., the “gérant” or management company which leads Euro Disney S.C.A. and which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Greg for his significant contributions to the growth and progress of Disneyland Paris’ business despite the current challenging economic environment.”

You can read the full press release here (PDF) or, if you feel like inducing a severe headache, why not check out the perplexing corporate structure behind our favourite holiday destination?

VIA Euro Disney S.C.A. (PDF)

Tuesday, 22nd November 2011

“it’s a small world” Celebration adds new music, costumes and lights to returning festivities

The nations of “it’s a small world” are celebrating their end-of-year festivities again: “it’s a small world” Celebration has returned to the Fantasyland for its third year in a row. Revived with much thought and effort in 2009 after several years’ absence, the seasonal overlay brings back all its now-traditional “extras” to the classic ride. Redesigned signage, seasonal music, extra lights, special props and a vast wardrobe of unique “celebration” costumes — one for practically every animated doll in the ride — continue to make this one of the most unmissable experiences of the whole year at Disneyland Paris. Read More…

Sunday, 20th November 2011

Reductions across the board for park ticket prices — if you’re paying in pound sterling

We’ve no doubt become acclimatised to the biannual Disneyland Paris ticket price rises in April and November each year — a pound here, a Euro there — but this season holds a pleasant surprise for visitors from the United Kingdom, at least. Rather than ticket prices jumping up again, as they did with a big increase for the price of longer stays in April, almost all of the Adult ticket prices and even a few Child prices have actually been reduced by a pound or more.

This means that a 1 Day/1 Park Ticket will now cost you a rounded £50 bought in advance from the UK, rather than the £51 before 8th November. Likewise, a 1 Day/2 Park Ticket has been rounded down to a neat £60. And, perhaps realising they stepped too far up earlier this year, the top 5 Day/2 Park Ticket has been reduced by a whole £8 to £169 (although with the Extra Day Free offer, the real price is £152 — and even then you’d be mad not to just buy an Annual Passport).

Here’s the full round-up of price changes for both Pound Sterling and Euros:

Ticket Type — Adult/Child (3-11yrs)

  • 1 Day 1 Park
    £51/£45 to £50/£45 (-£1/+-£0) — €57/€51 to €59/€53 (+€2/+€2)
  • 1 Day 2 Parks
    £61/£55 to £60/£54 (-£1/-£1) — €69/€62 to €71/€64 (+€2/+€2)
  • 2 Days 2 Parks
    £108/£97 to £104/£94 (-£4/-£3) — €122/€109 to €123/€111 (+€1/+€2)
  • 3 Days 2 Parks
    £134/£115 to £129/£117 (-£5/+£2) — €151/€130 to €153/€138 (+€2/+€8)
  • 4 Days 2 Parks
    £159/£134 to £152/£137 (-£7/+£3) — €179/€151 to €180/€162 (+€1/+€11)
  • 5 Days 2 Parks
    £177/£141 to £169/£152 (-£8/+£11) — €200/€180

You can find a complete guide to Disneyland Paris Park Tickets here.

Saturday, 19th November 2011

Disneyland Hotel brings the Grand Floridian Christmas gingerbread house tradition to Paris

Disneyland Hotel is infamous for the signature fragrance that wafts through its hallways, but this Christmas you might spot a new scent in the lobby: gingerbread. And if you can’t smell it, you’ll certain see it — the huge new Christmas gingerbread house! Constructed on-site and piece-by-piece using real gingerbread pieces baked by the chefs of the hotel’s California Grill table service restaurant, the house is a first for Disneyland Paris, adopting a long tradition from Walt Disney World in Florida. Requiring 350 hours of work, it stands next to the hotel’s Duffy-decorated Christmas tree with a Duffy bear of its own perched atop the chimney. See below for a time-lapse video of its construction.

Over at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Florida, the house measures an enormous 16 ft high and comes complete with three floors, windows and balconies in a Victorian manor style. Since the Grand Floridian and Disneyland Hotel in Paris are often considered cousins, designed in a similar period style, it’s fitting that the tradition now be shared between the two hotels. The Floridian notably served as a stand-in for its Parisian cousin during much of the pre-opening publicity for Euro Disney.

We noted at the return of “it’s a small world” Celebration in 2009 how welcome it was to see Disneyland Paris adopting more annual traditions similar to those at the American resorts. These kinds of smaller events keep the resort fresh and visitors returning throughout the year. Now, we can hopefully add the Disneyland Hotel gingerbread house to our young resort’s annual calendar!

Time-lapse video of the Gingerbread House construction follows… Read More…

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