Tuesday, 17th January 2012

Disney Magic on Parade! concept art for floats and costumes officially paraded out

We’ve already had a glimpse at the concept art for Disney Magic on Parade! thanks to some leaked images late last year, but now here they are in all their high definition, officially-endorsed glory! The 20th Anniversary preview video released by Disneyland Paris on Friday teased fans with an immediate challenge to “screencap” all the new details, and we’re only happy to oblige. As confirmed previously, only the opening and closing floats of the parade will see major cosmetic changes, but for the old “Dreams of Imagination” the difference is dramatic enough.

Gone are the sun and moon, with a pink fairytale castle, magical mirror and pumpkin carriage in their place. Though Tinker Bell will apparently be featured as an actual live character in the reworked parade, that didn’t stop entertainment slipping in a golden ‘Tink at the top of the castle. (Well, at least it’s not the castle…) The float also looks to continue the idea of embedded LED lights, introduced with the original Once Upon a Dream Parade, to give some extra sparkle even in daytime.

Princesses Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White and Belle being knocked off their former “Dreams of Romance” finale float will be reconciled with the addition of two new smaller units. Both Cinderella and Aurora will be pulled along on whimsical carriages by carousel-style horses. LED lights are again hidden amongst the flowers at the rear, while the Sleeping Beauty unit features sculptures of birds, a squirrel and even the owl, to tie it into the story.


Taking the 20th Anniversary‘s theme of “colour, lights and magic” to its absolute pinnacle will be the new finale float. Gone is that calmly-coloured green hillside. In its place, a psychedelic mix of blue, indigo and violet, forming a landscape for the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Not content with two statues celebrating the moment over at Walt Disney Studios Park, Mickey will perform his thrusting of the magic wand into the skies for real.


The costumes of all the characters here will be brand new and designed especially for the new parade. Artwork below shows Minnie, Chip, Dale, Donald, Daisy and Goofy all receiving their own, brightly-coloured “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” outfits, covered in shimmering gold thread details.

Finally, “Magic Everywhere!” was revealed just this morning by @InsideDLParis on Twitter to be the title of the new song to accompany the parade and other 20th Anniversary events. But is all this enough to convince you the old parade will be given enough “magic” to make it feel new again?

Friday, 13th January 2012

Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary preview video reveals “Disney Dreams!” – and more surprises

“We’re gonna bring the Second Star to the Right and ignite it above the castle…” It’s not a sentence you hear every day but, in this exciting new preview video for the 20th Anniversary released by Disneyland Paris today, Steve Davison casually drops it in amongst a plethora of other surprises. Walt Disney Imagineering’s Creative Director of Entertainment, famed for his work on Fantasmic! and World of Color, joins a number of backstage artists to tease us on the new additions for the anniversary. Show director Katy Harris tells us about the new Mickey Mouse meet ‘n’ greet, while Emmanuel Lenormand shows off detailed concept art for Disney Magic on Parade! and its new costumes.

But it’s the section on Disney Dreams! which is the most surprising — even breathtaking. Real previews are shown of the new castle projection effects, which have been in testing for some time, along with confirmation that the show will feature not just projections, not just fountains, but lasers, pyrotechnics, fire, an original musical score, and perhaps most importantly: a story! When the Second Star to the Right ignites above the castle, the “Disney Dreams” pour out and come to life in “new ways”.

Watch the exciting new preview video below!

Senior technical director Chuck Davis reveals the Imagineers at Creative Entertainment have mapped the whole castle with “pixel accurate video” so it can “do all kinds of great tricks”, while Dave Bossert confirms that water screens will be installed in front of the castle, creaing a huge new canvas for the show to take place on. Particularly interesting to note: Dave is the director of Special Projects at Walt Disney Feature Animation, showing the breadth of Disney talent being combined for this new show.

It’s a rare but incredibly welcome step for Disneyland Paris to let the talent behind its magic tell the stories of new projects like these for once. Similar videos are consistently produced for other resorts, notably California, and always serve to provide both a more exciting teaser for what’s next and a more inspiring insight into the work required to achieve it.

“So that at the end of your day, you can walk away and go: wow, that was cool!”

VIA Disneyland Paris (YouTube)

Thursday, 12th January 2012

Ratatouille dark ride is GO! Construction permit appears for “Toon Studio D” attraction

It turns out, a construction permit really can be this exciting to see. A mere two days after The Walt Disney Company agreed to loan Euro Disney S.C.A. funding of €150m for park expansion, a fresh “permis de construire” has appeared at the rear of Walt Disney Studios Park for a project ostensibly titled “Toon Studio D”. This can only mean one thing: the Ratatouille dark ride is ready to go!

From the first rumours back in 2008 to the first planning application in 2009, apparent special effects testing in 2010, then final confirmation from Disney, concept art and planning permission and a visit from John Lasseter in 2011, this has been one long project. With today’s new permit signalling that construction is imminent at the Studios, it could be around another two years until the attraction opens, such is the average construction period for a large Disney attraction. All hopes are now set on 2014 for a grand opening, providing the perfect pick-up from what might be expected to be a two-year 20th Anniversary celebration, as the previous 15th, to maximise the “anniversary” draw.

Ratatouille dark ride
Ratatouille dark ride

The permit also reveals that the new showbuilding will stand 17.8 m tall with the surface area of construction totalling 5719 m2. For comparison, RC Racer reaches a height of 24.8 m, while the vast “it’s a small world” showbuilding covers around 4000m2. The date of 13th April 2011 coincides well with the publication of concept art and planning documents last May (above), which gave a very detailed look at the exterior of this new “Parisian quarter” but very little clues as to the attraction which will lie inside its walls. Rumours continue to point to a primarily projection-based experience, likely in 3D, likely utilising a “trackless” ride system first used at Pooh’s Hunny Hunt in Tokyo in 2000 and conveniently due to be used for Hong Kong Disneyland’s new Mystic Manor dark ride, due to open late 2013.

Almost more important than the dark ride, for a park so starved of facilities as Walt Disney Studios, will be the restaurant incorporated into the showbuilding itself. As we’ve hinted in the past, this probably won’t be the stuffy Gusteau’s dining experience you might have expected, but a rather more informal and fun “rat-sized” restaurant as imagined at the end of the film itself. Despite much investment in attractions, a short-sighted lack of dining provision is one of the key reasons why the Studios’ opening hours remain cut short even in peak seasons.

Euro Disney S.C.A.’s first quarter revenues announcement on 7th February could be a good moment for the company to confirm the project. Though given past experience, don’t expect anything more than a black and white footnote to trumpet what may well be the most exciting development for the Studios in all its beleaguered ten years. Something unique to the park, technologically advanced, classically Disney and inclusive to all ages. Come on Rémy, surprise us!

VIA Disney Central Plaza

Wednesday, 11th January 2012

‘Meet Mickey Mouse’ construction continues with new colours at Fantasy Festival Stage

And for his first trick, Mickey will transform Fantasy Festival Stage with a whole new colour scheme! Work continues at the former Fantasyland theatre for this new, permanent, 20th Anniversary meet ‘n’ greet location, with the previously dark green corners of the exterior given a bold new red (photo above by @InsideDLParis). Could we see the theatre given a palette to match the Mouse himself?

This character location is one of the key additions for the upcoming anniversary, making use of the theatre space below Fantasyland Railroad Station that has only seen infrequent use in recent years, for the Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too show. Early rumours that the experience would be very much like the recent Mickey meet ‘n’ greet added to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom appear to have rung entirely true, with pre-publicity visuals showing Mickey preparing his magician’s costume backstage.

The interior layout is still unknown, but we could expect the former auditorium area to become a queuing area while the stage serves as the “backstage” photo location. Given that this really was once a theatre and that it sits in the fitting British area of the land, the setting will be particularly apt. If the quality matches that of the Florida attraction, with its clever and lavish set-dressing throughout the waiting line, there’s no doubt it will do justice to Disney’s biggest star.

One particularly smart detail in the Magic Kingdom version, besides the boxes labelled for “Marne-la-Vallée”, is a poster for Mickey’s fictional magic show performances, with a note added: “We need Mickey’s Paris dates to determine this”. Mark April 1st, 2012 as taken!

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Tuesday, 10th January 2012

Walt Disney Company gifts €150m to Disneyland Paris for multi-year Studios Park expansion

The Walt Disney Company has begun 2012 with a €150 million boost for Disneyland Paris’ investment funds. Providing the loan agreement as an “additional standby revolving credit facility” to Euro Disney S.C.A., the operator of the resort which is 39.8% owned by Disney, it comes on top of an existing credit facility worth €100 million, giving a neat €250 million for future investments.

Just right for a modest expansion of Walt Disney Studios Park, you’re thinking? Right! The press release published this morning specifically states:

“These investments correspond to the annual recurring investment budget for fiscal year 2012 and a multi-year expansion of the Walt Disney Studios Park, which includes a new attraction.”

That “new attraction” would almost certainly be the Ratatouille dark ride for which we eventually saw concept art and detailed plans last year. With its rumoured trackless ride system, 3D projection effects and adjoining restaurant, this grand-scale E-Ticket would certainly eat a large chunk out of 250 million Euros. However, the precise wording of a “multi-year expansion” suggests that the park could see expansion or improvements beyond this single corner of Toon Studio. In recent “round table” discussions with shareholders, Philippe Gas, CEO has placed the expansion of Walt Disney Studios Park into a “complete destination for a whole days’ visit” as a top priority. With this very happy New Year investment from the Mouse, that long-held priority takes a big step closer to reality.

While the existing credit facility is available until 30th September 2014, this additional facility is available until 2018. With construction taking around two years, the opening of a major new attraction at the Studios from 2014 onwards would be a good promotion tool after the end of the 20th Anniversary. The previous multi-year expansion from 2006 to 2008 overlapped with the 15th Anniversary, leaving a gap in investments from 2009 onwards which the resort has been forced to fill with entertainment “theme years”. Since an anniversary will always attract visits, it should work in the resort’s favour to hold off more permanent investments for the years in-between.

MORE Euro Disney S.C.A. Press Release (PDF)

Monday, 2nd January 2012

La Tanière du Dragon’s beast given revitalised “snap”, renewed effects for 20th birthday

If 2011 was the year Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant regained its glory, 2012 might be the year La Tanière du Dragon regains its growl. The almost 20-year old dragon beneath Sleeping Beauty Castle, still a show-stopping exclusive of Disneyland Paris, recently awoke from a lengthy two month refurbishment in its snarliest mood since 1992. Not only has the lighting in the castle’s dungeon been renewed to cast a scene as dramatic as ever, the movements of the huge Audio-Animatronic itself have been noticeably “tightened up”. Now the dragon lifts its neck and growls with a renewed conviction; a tighter, snappier, more powerful series of movements that give a new realism to the dozing beast, which many say they haven’t seen looking this good since opening day. Our Photos Magiques friends braved the lair last week to update to capture some stunning new pictures and video.

Meanwhile, over on magicforum, DGRavenswood shares a lesser-known but apparently official version of the dragon’s backstory. This isn’t Maleficent, as so many deduce, but a dragon found in an egg by Merlin one morning and restrained here below his magic shop for safekeeping.

Video by Photos Magiques follows… Read More…

Sunday, 1st January 2012

Several Magical Moments to end early January, others “extended” into 20th Anniversary

It’s 2012 (Happy New Year!) and time for a fresh start. For Disneyland Paris, that appears to mean several key elements of the current Disney Magical Moments Festival, marketed to run until 4th March 2012, will be cleared out early. Rumours long suggested the main Mickey’s Magical Celebration show on Central Plaza would face an early finish, due to the much detested Central Plaza Stage finally being ripped out, opening up the hub of the park ready for Dreams.

Now, here’s the confirmation: no performances from 9th January onwards! In truth, the show has had a lukewarm reception ever since last April. Notably lacking the grander spectacle of the previous Disney Showtime Spectacular, it wasn’t quite the kind of production to justify such a monolithic stage to take over the heart of the park. Initially it seemed the four large satellite “arms” of the stage might be lopped off, but now the whole stage is said to be for the chop. For stage shows, this means any future open-air productions will (quite rightly) be on the Théâtre du Château where they belong. For new nighttime spectacular Dreams, the rumour mill is still pumping: Will the removal of the stage open up the area purely for more standing room again, or could the hub become part of the show? One particularly fun (if purely fabricated) rumour is for a “magic” dancing fountain to take the place of the former flower bed. To be honest, even being able to walk across and use the plaza as a “hub”, rather than an impermeable roundabout, seems an exciting prospect at this point.

Surprisingly, this show isn’t the only “Magical Moment” preparing for early retirement. It will be joined on 9th January by Disney Dance Express, the garishly-coloured dance show which reused the old Dumbo Casey Jr. parade float. Could this, the float’s fifth iteration since its launch as part of The Wonderful World of Disney Parade, be its last? Meanwhile, the Green Army Men Meet & Play event over in Toy Story Playland will also end on the same date and, as reported earlier, the first float will be removed from Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade for its “Magic on Parade!” makeover.

Making it all the way to the 4th March end date, but not continuing beyond that date, will be the “interactive” show stops of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, the temporary Tangled meet ‘n’ greet location for Rapunzel and, surprisingly, the small Following the Leader with Peter Pan show in Adventureland. That event was perhaps the most appreciated of all the new “moments” in 2011. For Rapunzel, we must presume she will simply join the other princesses in the new Princess Pavilion.

Finally, continuing into the 20th Anniversary are the many photo locations which popped up around the parks: Wall•E and Eve in Discoveryland, Alice in Wonderland near the Labyrinth, Aladdin near Adventureland Bazaar, Ratatouille near Restaurant des Stars and Monsters, Inc. in Toon Studio (which, added in 2006, was never “new” for 2011 to begin with, but never mind). Lighting McQueen will remain in his Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular cameo and the new Adventureland Rhythms of the Jungle location next to Restaurant Hakuna Matata will remain the home of the popular Tam Tam.

PHOTOS VIA Photos Magiques

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