This past Saturday 7th July, the night was “turned to light” at Disneyland Park. Not just by the spectacular, state-of-the-art effects of Disney Dreams! but now also by the more traditional twinkling bulbs of Disney’s Fantillusion, returning for its tenth summer season at Disneyland Paris. Scheduled for 22:15 each night, with Disney Dreams! at park closing time (23:00), Disney’s Fantillusion appears to have retained the same format and floats as its previous summer and winter 2012 seasons, with the only noted changes being some refreshed costumes.
However, as now seems to be customary before each season, there’s some doubt about its future. According to RadioDisneyClub.fr, the parade will not return as usual for the upcoming Disney’s Enchanted Christmas season. So far Disneyland Paris has confirmed only the dates for this Christmas — 9th November 2012 to 6th January 2013 — and none of the events contained within.
Earlier this year, before its current season to 2nd September 2012 was confirmed, it was rumoured separately both that the parade would precede Disney Dreams! every single night, all year, and that it had been cancelled completely.
Meanwhile, the essential live Disney stage show has also returned to the park with The Tarzan Encounter, beginning an eleventh season at The Chaparral Theater in Frontierland back on 9th June. Resident at the theatre since 2000, with a two year hiatus in 2009 and 2010, the musical acrobatics show continues to be a guest favourite after its 2011 resurrection, performing five times daily at 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 16:45 and 17:45 to strong crowds.
While it seems ungrateful to say it when we have something as beautiful and big as Disney Dreams!, it is still true that both parks — and particularly Walt Disney Studios Park, with its slightly lacklustre Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars parade — lack these daytime entertainments, shows and streetmosphere which add life to the lands throughout the day, not just for 20 minutes before park closing time.
At least for the next two months now, Disneyland Park offers the full line-up: stage show, daytime parade, electrical parade and nighttime spectacular. That’s a day only Disneyland can give you.
Fluctuating weather from blazing sun to torrential downpours might confuse you as to what time of year it really is, but make no mistake this is the build up to summer — a 20th Anniversary summer at that! Read More…
Can you believe it, Disney Dreams! is almost two months old already! The thrilling new nighttime spectacular has taken Disneyland Paris by storm, giving the resort one of its highest ever “guest satisfaction” scores for a single attraction and redefining the experience of a day at the park. Read More…
World of Disney, the new flagship store at the hub of Disneyland Paris and entrance to Disney Village, has finally had its opening date set in stone: 12th July 2012! An unusual Thursday opening, then; perhaps a nod to the 12th April, or a chance for the newly-opened store to prepare itself ahead of summer weekend crowds? At least this puts an end to confusion over the date, which has been moving back and forth between June and September for the past few months. Work is suddenly flying ahead on the exterior, which will eventually end up looking like the visual above.
This new concept art, first included in the ‘Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams’ book, shows the final design of the Hollywood Art Deco-inspired exterior and its signature globe dome. You might remember from earlier concept art that the original idea was for a second half of the globe to continue inside the store itself, visible through the windows to create the effect of a floating Earth. Now, just the dome on top is part of the final design, with the double-height atrium inside to be decorated with stars; its centrepiece a hot air balloon carrying the Disney characters to destinations around the world, which will be featured in different areas of the store’s interior design.
The new design also clearly depicts how the boutique is raised slightly from the hub itself, with a small set of stairs around the front and sides to offer some protection from the surge of visitors at park closing. Naturally, a ramp is also provided on the right-hand side.
There, we also see the beginnings of an intriguing new perimeter gate. Rumours have suggested that the opening of World of Disney could see changes to the operation of the resort hub and its security barriers, perhaps allowing guests to go between the parks and Disney Village without leaving the security-controlled zone, though exact details of this are unconfirmed.
Along with the opening date announcement, Disneyland Paris has also shared photos of two important arrivals, all the way from New York City: Mickey and Minnie Mouse!
These two statues, which now sit either side of the main World of Disney entrance in Paris, were salvaged from the marquee of the former World of Disney store on Fifth Avenue in New York, which closed on 31st December 2009.
Disney moved to a new retail space in Times Square in late 2010, branded as a general Disney store, leaving only the two — and very soon to be three — theme park locations. Of which, Paris certainly has the most beautiful, unique exterior. But isn’t that always the case?
“Welcome to the DLRP Magic.com twitter page!” we said on 9th May 2008, way before it became fashionable. Almost exactly four years later, we’re celebrating an amazing milestone of 4,000 followers for our main @DLRPMagic Twitter account. Read More…
Oddly this means that the date we consign to history as the public opening date of this new attraction is the one confirmed months ago: 17th May 2012. And here are the first official photos!
These snaps show only the Mickey Mouse meet and greet room itself, behind the stage in the completely redesigned former Fantasy Festival Stage, where guests encounter the mouse preparing for his magic show in a dressing room overflowing with props and hidden details. Many of the details will be familiar to those who already know the attraction’s Town Square Theatre cousin in Florida, though here — as described in our walk-through yesterday — the set-up is entirely faithful to that of the real, pre-existing theatre, giving a much more faithful and enjoyable narrative to the whole experience.
Guests queue in the aisles of the old theatre area, completely redressed with plush carpets, pendant lights and wood panelling, with Mickey Mouse projections playing out on a projection screen on the stage. Then, they climb the stairs into the real backstage area for their “Rencontre avec Mickey”.
You can already spot many of the fun nods in these photos. The giant padded suitcase containing Mickey’s magician outfit and magic wands, an advertisement for a “Band Concert” in the park (referencing the 1935 short film), travel stickers referencing other Disney resorts (and a Colonel Hathi travel company), and even a custom-made striped wallpaper that uses only the colours black, red, yellow and white. This might just be one of the most charming attractions in the park.
Today at 12.30pm, the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors are scheduled to officially inaugurate the new Meet Mickey Mouse meet and greet attraction in Fantasyland, with a special ceremony in the presence of the mouse himself. It will be preceded by three sessions of Passeport Annuel Dream previews. Then, from 1.00pm, the first chance for guests to step inside the redesigned former Fantasy Festival Stage to meet Mickey and investigate the changes within.
How does it look? Well, we were lucky enough to get an exclusive sneak peek inside the new attraction along with fellow fansite authors on 1st April. Greeted by Imagineer Laurent Cayuela at the door, wonderfully animated himself, we were led on a tour (no photos allowed) through the work-in-progress interior that has undergone considerable change since its days as a real show theatre. Where in 1992 guests sat on wooden benches in the half-open space to watch “C’est Magique”, in 2012 they’ll be stepping inside a gorgeous, plush interior reminiscent of great opera houses of the early 1900s.
The basic set-up of the theatre and its stage remains, already perfect for the premise of this attraction. On your way to meet Mickey Mouse in his dressing room behind the stage, you first step into a small lobby area in the right-hand wing of the theatre, adorned with the posters of “Mickey the Magnificent” already seen in Frontierland and the similar, existing meet and greet in Florida’s Magic Kingdom.
False walls in the same off-white as the exterior have been erected down each side of the former seating area inside, enclosing the theatre stage area itself and giving the previously rather “barebones” pavilion a grander theatrical feel. The entire space has been given soft new, red carpeting with a gold pattern, lending the theatre a truly luxurious feel.
Stepping into the auditorium, you join a back-and-forth queue line which cleverly gives the impression of theatre seating aisles, sloping downwards to the completely redressed stage itself. And wow, that stage: now framed extravagantly in beautiful wood panelling and completed with two new “box seats” sticking out above the audience in either side.
It’s still a real stage, just as before, and Laurent even mentioned that they could use it as such (we imagine for small live music acts or special events, perhaps), but the regular pre-show will be a selection of classic Mickey Mouse cartoons, projected onto a screen behind the curtains as guests queue. Note the plural on curtains: there are no less than three different curtains now permanently installed on the stage — Venetian, Grecian and Italian — which all lift up and open in different ways, presumably between cartoons.
Gleaming gold railings wrap around the queue line with subtle lighting in the edges at ground level. The real feature lighting is above: a series of fabulously ornate pendant lamps produced especially for the attraction by a specialist company with several generations’ experience. The whole queue line has enough space for a 45 minute wait — as we’ve hinted before, a hint of Disney magic later on which we won’t otherwise spoil could help this flow up to three times faster than otherwise.
Staying true to the theatre building, guests really do step “backstage” when they go to meet Mickey in his dressing room. Climbing a small set of stairs at the side of the stage (a ramp for access is also provided), the elaborate decoration suddenly falls away to reveal bare brick-clad walls and a stage manager’s lectern in a small corridor. Here, a Cast Member will personally escort guests to Mickey’s dressing room through another corridor. It’s this dressing room which packs more in-jokes and clever nods than some Disney attractions do in their entire length.
Books, notices, props and suitcases litter the room from floor to ceiling. “Good luck” notes from Minnie, a “missing” notice for the kidnapped Aristocats, a children’s drawing featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Even a prop to reference the Pixar short film Presto. It’s funny, too. All to often these days Disney can forget these details are called “in-jokes“. Designing everything in the shape of Mickey’s head does not make for clever hidden detail. But having a bag on the sideboard labelled with “Tuppence” really does raise that little smile a classic Disney “gag” gives you.
Mickey Mouse himself (not present during our preview tour) poses in front of a red curtain, opposite the illuminated dressing room mirror and next to the giant seven-foot suitcase containing his props and costume, which also helps to divide the room. Imagineers never talk money, but the whole space with its hyper-custom props has the feel of serious investment and certainly worthy of the company’s trademark character.
Out the other side of the dressing room, guests are free to pose with some of the magician’s props stored at the side of the side — including a giant saw and a “Tank of Terror” escapology trick. Again, there’s a very welcome humour here.
Exit is then via the left-hand side of the auditorium, behind the false walls, to a ticket booth-style area which serves as the souvenir photo sales desk. Once again, lavishly designed — but with practicalities in mind, too: one window of the desk is lowered on both the guest and Cast Member sides, allowing not just a guest in a wheelchair to purchase their photo with ease, but a Cast Member in a wheelchair to serve them, too. Laurent was particularly proud of such forward-thinking.
A pause for questions left our group rather speechless, perhaps so taken aback by the transformation. On background music, Laurent stated that the short loop we heard during the tour (the same track which has been playing at the temporary Frontierland location) would likely be replaced simply by the sounds of the cartoons in the pre-show, audible throughout the venue.
The thought of an attraction based solely around meeting a character won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the execution of this particular concept really has been completed to the utmost Disney quality. Blessed with the gift of a real, pre-existing theatre, unlike the earlier Florida version, Walt Disney Imagineering have been able to play out the narrative far more truthfully and successfully.
One single quibble would come back to something we raised when the marquee went up, that perhaps it doesn’t play the “British” location within Fantasyland to its full advantage. The theatre could feel British if you wanted it to, but it doesn’t particularly overstate this anywhere.
Perhaps that’s the idea, to make it as international as the mouse himself; but sandwiched between the unquestionably, quintessentially English trio of Peter Pan’s Flight, Toad Hall Restaurant and Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, it’s a particular shame they found reason to place the letters “Rencontre avec Mickey” on the main marquee, when the French subtitle on the smaller wait time indicator at the entrance (not to mention on park maps and programmes) would have sufficed. Luckily this is the only aspect to work against the British setting; the rest of the attraction, if not exactly working with the locality, fits wonderfully well alongside it (even if some dislike the “Main Street” marquee lights).
Furthermore, an abundance of genuinely humorous in-jokes gives it a classic feel that’s close to the character it celebrates without a single lazy, mouse-shaped detail. As the sole contribution of Imagineering to the 20th Anniversary, and despite being “just” a meet ‘n’ greet, it feels genuine and worthwhile. And most likely set to be one of Fantasyland’s most popular attractions.
Watch our HD video of the Meet Mickey Mouse exterior below…Read More…
This week, the future Ratatouille dark ride made another highly visible step forward as a second tower crane began to rise above the Toon Studio construction site. The first, of course, made its mark on 11th April — a valiant effort by the second gate to steal the thunder of its partner a day before the 20th Anniversary events on 12th April 2012. Whether this date was chosen by chance or by reason, it was a fitting way to end one chapter with the beginnings of the next.
So what does a Disneyland Paris fan do, upon arriving at the resort after a long train journey on a blustery, rainy evening like that? Rush straight over to Walt Disney Studios Park, just 15 minutes before the gates closed, and photograph our exciting new landmark from every angle, of course. And then, a month later, actually find the time to post the pictures online.
But here we go, crane fans: over 40 photos and six minutes of video featuring “La Grue Ratatouille” — from Val d’Europe, Toon Studio, Backlot, Frontierland and beyond. This first crane alone was imposing enough on the skyline: this ride may be all about rats, but it won’t be small by any standard.
Some items copyright Disney. This website is independent of and not supported, endorsed by or connected to Disneyland® Paris, The Walt Disney Company, Euro Disney Associés S.C.A., Disney Enterprises, Inc. or their subsidiaries and affiliates.