Friday, 28th February 2014

Europe’s largest LEGO Store opens its doors at Disney Village today – in pictures

LEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland Paris

After a long wait, it was with just two days’ notice that fans learned the LEGO Store would finally be opening today, 28th February 2014, at 9am — and open it really did.

Joined by the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors, the Vice President of LEGO Europe and a special walkaround “LEGO mascot” named Tom, the new boutique’s team of brick-building enthusiasts cut the ribbon and invited the first shoppers inside the store.

Using the same modern design scheme of other European shopping mall LEGO Stores, this flagship location can boast being the largest on the continent. That said, it’s not massively bigger — at almost 600m² only roughly the size of Hollywood Pictures that was there before — but with walls piled high with LEGO sets and a minimalist aesthetic it does look like a bigger, much more exciting retail space. And certainly a vast improvement on the tired Hollywood Pictures.

LEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland Paris
LEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris Ambassadors, Antonella and Jonathan met “Tom” the store’s mascot and Ward Van Duffel, Vice President and General Manager of LEGO Europe at the store’s opening this morning and shared a series of photos from inside the new shop.

LEGO’s all-glass shopfront is immediately the most modern in Disney Village, offering a full view inside the colourful store to passing customers. Brick murals of Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland Hotel and Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups are featured centrally on the bright yellow podium along with a textured, LEGO brick logo.

LEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland Paris
LEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland Paris

Where most other LEGO Stores have just a single yellow brick ceiling feature in the middle of the store, this flagship has several, of different sizes, creating more unique areas within the store.

All the LEGO Store favourites are present and correct: the free building table, the build-your-own Minifigure display, and the clever augmented reality scanner that lets you hold a LEGO set up and see the finished creation on screen in 3D.

LEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland Paris
LEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland Paris
LEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland ParisLEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland Paris
LEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland Paris

Here, the popular trademark “Pick-a-Brick wall”, which lets you fill cartons with your choice of loose bricks, isn’t on the back wall of the store as standard, but a larger free-standing wall, with even more LEGO sets behind.

Despite not being as grand as the longstanding LEGO Imagination Center in Orlando or self-contained LEGO Store Anaheim, this new Disneyland Paris example does feature the same special models and customisations.

LEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland Paris
LEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland ParisLEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland Paris
LEGO Store Disney Village Disneyland Paris

A huge, stunning brick mural of Prince Phillip fighting dragon Maleficent sits just inside the door, with murals of The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Star Wars line the walls, which are also criss-crossed by a long green monster.

Other full-scale models featured are Sorcerer Mickey, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, and R2D2.

LEGO Store Disney Village opens 9am to midnight, daily.

PHOTOS Ambassadeurs Disneyland Paris (Facebook)

Wednesday, 26th February 2014

LEGO Store Disney Village opening confirmed for 9am this Friday, 28th February

LEGO Store Disney Village Concept Art

Disneyland Paris has just minutes ago confirmed that the long-awaited and overdue LEGO Store in Disney Village will open this Friday, 28th February, at 9am.

The news was announced on the resort’s official Twitter feed at 5.00pm, following rumours for a few days that this Friday could finally see the retailer of plastic bricks open its doors.

Speaking of what will be Europe’s largest LEGO Store, Disneyland Paris added: “This new development will reinforce the shopping experience at #DisneylandParis, with a new family concept”.

A number of customisations and custom-built models will be featured in the new store, which has faced a number of set-backs and delays to its opening, including a LEGO-brick Sorcerer Mickey statue and murals of popular Disneyland Paris icons.

While several restaurants and attractions are operated within Disney Village by third parties, LEGO will be Disney’s first externally-let retail unit, finally opening up the merchandise offer beyond the standard Disneyland Paris range now perfected by World of Disney.

• See our previous article with a sneaky peek inside the LEGO Store here

VIA @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter)

Tuesday, 25th February 2014

Through the porthole: Disney’s Newport Bay Club renewal continues course

Disney's Newport Bay Club concept art

Disney’s Newport Bay Club continues to plot its course toward a full renovation of its more than 1,000 rooms and three wings. Disneyland Paris spent a day noting the improvements on its Twitter feed this Monday, starting with the publication of the new room concept art above.

Indeed after some of our recent comments on Twitter, this article could well be titled “Disneyland Paris publishes concept art shocker”, but no — there are exciting, big changes going on at Newport Bay Club, the largest of the Disney Hotels, and which in truth always felt just that bit too big and a bit wishy-washy with its style. As well as updated décor, furniture and facilities, this complete renovation should bring more Disney warmth and character to its hallways.

In the rooms, the fresh but faded original colour scheme of stark whites is being completely renewed with rich blues, nautical bronze and warm walnut wood. It’s like a touch of Disney Cruise Line elegance at Disneyland Paris.

Disney's Newport Bay Club new rooms

Fans got a first look at one of the trial rooms, pictured, in September last year. The 524 rooms of the East Wing officially closed on 1st November 2013 until further notice, with the works planned in three phases, including the Central and West wings, to minimise disruption.

It’s not just Mickey ears on the bedposts. Just like the recent renovations of Disney’s Sequoia Lodge and Disney’s Santa Fe, a new character-filled border lines the room; here with fun classic Disney characters in watery porthole scenes.

Disney's Newport Bay Club new rooms
Disney's Newport Bay Club new roomsDisney's Newport Bay Club new rooms

Most furniture has been completely replaced, with a less monolithic television cabinet and drawers, and a vastly improved, far more useful corner dressing table and plush chairs. Carpet is richer and more ornate, as is the crisper new curtain pattern.

Neat, custom-designed throw cushions are modern, as are the clean white sheets and matching runner (not quite ready at the time of the room preview above).

Bedside lights are warmer and still nautical, yet in a rather more natural way.

Compare the new rooms with the (current) old design, below.

Disney's Newport Bay Club old rooms
Disney's Newport Bay Club old rooms

That’s an incredible improvement all-round; adding only faint Disney character touches, removing tired examples of 1990s taste and implementing a far more timeless aesthetic.

It’s not just the rooms seeing refurbishment works, either. Photos Magiques reported that the New England theme hotel will see work to its exterior wood panelling and lighting, while the lobby and reception desks will see changes to improve guest flow.

Disneyland Paris also shared the picture below, showing works to the hotel’s popular pool area where scaffolding took one month to install. As well as “filtration systems and maintenance being changed and adapted to new standards”, the pool area will see some “acoustic comfort” improvements, we’re guessing to reduce echoes from its ceiling.

Disney's Newport Bay Club pool refurbishment

After the works, it will also be possible to access the outdoor pool directly from the inside, something which apparently hasn’t been possible for years due to safety reasons.

Note that along with the pool and health club closure pencilled in until roughly October, the Yacht Club Restaurant is closed until 31st July 2014 and Cape Cod restaurant will be closed 3rd March to 31st July, during which time breakfast will be provided in the hotel’s adjoining convention centre.

Disney's Newport Bay Club

What with free wi-fi already on-board, the horizon looks bright for Disney’s Newport Bay Club and what must be the most impressive and well-judged of the resort’s hotel makeovers to date, with modest character additions and much-needed improvements.

Up next in the coming years will be Disney’s Hotel New York, the “art deco” hotel which desperately needs some fresh sparkle to bring it out of the ’90s and up to modern grade for its price bracket. Can’t they work just that little bit faster…?

• On Photos Magiques: More photos of the new roomsLook back at the current rooms

PHOTOS @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter), Photos Magiques

Tuesday, 25th February 2014

Daisy & Goofy join the drawing board at Art of Disney’s Animation Academy

Art of Disney Animation, Animation Academy, Disneyland Paris

Two new character illustrations have been added to the Animation Academy drawing classes at Art of Disney Animation in Walt Disney Studios Park.

Along with old favourites such as Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, guests will now be able to draw Daisy Duck and Goofy throughout the day at the Toon Studio attraction.

Disneyland Paris announced the additions on its official Twitter account, which it says are thanks to a collaboration between the artists and Walt Disney Imagineering creatives.

Art of Disney Animation, Animation Academy, Disneyland Paris

It’s a minor plussing, but we’re glad of anything which sees the Studios freshened up outside of La Place de Rémy. In fact, Disney — why not see if the rat himself can be added, too?

VIA @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter)

Tuesday, 25th February 2014

Daisy & Goofy join the drawing board at Art of Disney’s Animation Academy

Art of Disney Animation, Animation Academy, Disneyland Paris

Two new character illustrations have been added to the Animation Academy drawing classes at Art of Disney Animation in Walt Disney Studios Park.

Along with old favourites such as Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, guests will now be able to draw Daisy Duck and Goofy throughout the day at the Toon Studio attraction.

Disneyland Paris announced the additions on its official Twitter account, which it says are thanks to a collaboration between the artists and Walt Disney Imagineering creatives.

Art of Disney Animation, Animation Academy, Disneyland Paris

It’s a minor plussing, but we’re glad of anything which sees the Studios freshened up outside of La Place de Rémy. In fact, Disney — why not see if the rat himself can be added, too?

VIA @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter)

Monday, 24th February 2014

Spider-Man photo location rumoured for Backlot in Walt Disney Studios Park

Marvel Ultimate Spider-Man

We really hope you like your Disney character rumours, because here’s another. Fellow fansite DlrpExpress.fr reports today that a Spider-Man photo location could be on its way to Backlot in Walt Disney Studios Park, occupying empty space next to Disney Blockbuster Café.

According to the rumour, the Marvel-themed “photo location” would take up space at one side of the counter service restaurant, in the corner of Backlot opposite Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

Disney Blockbuster Café

This room was originally an outdoor terrace in 2002, before being enclosed soon after opening in order to add more capacity to the dining venue.

Despite this, it has rarely been regularly used and was most recently turned into a short-lived second Bureau Passport Annuel, Annual Passport sales office. Currently, it sits empty with just a few display cases and lonely High School Musical 3 posters.

Marvel Spider-Man Disney Blockbuster Cafe

Not just a welcome use for this wasted space, a Spider-Man location here in Backlot would be the first step in the long-awaited addition of Marvel characters to Walt Disney Studios Park.

Rumours have grown since Disney’s 2009 acquisition of the comic book company that this corner of the park could see a full superhero makeover. At one point, there was even speculation that Armageddon: Les Effets Speciaux  in particular could be rethemed to Spider-Man.

Yet to date, the most the park has seen is the former “High School Musical room” of Disney Blockbuster Café replaced by an “Iron Man room” — a generous way to describe putting a few new posters up, detailed in Photos Magiques’ recent report.

Iron Man room at Disney Blockbuster Cafe

Around the world, only Hong Kong Disneyland has officially announced the first Marvel-themed attraction, a 3D motion simulator dubbed Iron Man Experience. Meanwhile California, as usual, has been at the forefront with the first Marvel characters taking up residence with special exhibits and meet ‘n’ greets for Iron Man, Thor and (soon) Captain America at Innoventions.

Rumour states Disneyland Paris could welcome Spider-Man as soon as mid-March, making it the first Disney park to feature the character in any form. So far, the live “Disney” character version has only appeared very briefly, at last year’s D23 Expo (see video below).

Disneyland Paris has now, for some time, sold a large range of Spider-Man comic book and cartoon merchandise, above other Marvel characters.

While Disney would base its theme park characterisation on Disney XD‘s successful Ultimate Spider-Man animated TV series (pictured top), it’s surely no coincidence that this year also sees Sony Pictures release its second “rebooted” film, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, under its ownership of the movie rights, boosting the attractiveness of such a tie-in.

For Walt Disney Studios Park, having such a name on its books would be an incredible coup, massively elevating the park’s credentials. Certainly more so than its previous movie tie-in catalogue of Armageddon, Reign of Fire and Dinotopia, don’t you agree?

Video of Spider-Man’s D23 Disney character appearance follows… Read More…

Friday, 21st February 2014

Crush’s Coaster in line for permanent Single Rider, more queue improvements

Crush's Coaster - Walt Disney Studios Park - Disneyland Paris

Remember when Crush’s Coaster opened in 2007 and immediately couldn’t cope with demand? Well dudes, almost seven years later something permanent is finally going to be done about the capacity-starved Toon Studio coaster’s popularity.

During its four week closure from 17th March to 11th April, Crush’s Coaster will reportedly see the addition of a permanent Single Rider line, as well as an expansion of the regular queue line itself, something fans including ourselves have requested since opening.

Cast Member sources Pretty Wyatt, AnonyMouse and DynastyGo on Disney Central Plaza forum report that two options were presented to improve the standard queue line: making permanent the temporary ropes which wind their way in front of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, and/or a genuine enlargement of the exterior queue area into what is currently “backstage”.

Thankfully, the second option has apparently been green-lit, leaving the installation of more permanent barriers around the Flying Carpets “oasis” area as an added possibility.

This is great news for visitors joining the queue and the area as a whole. The temporary ropes constantly clog up what is already a cramped portion of the land, especially now guests are also heading through to Toy Story Playland and soon to La Place de Rémy. Making the outside queue area at the side of Studio 5 bigger would be a long-overdue decision.

Crush's Coaster queue - Walt Disney Studios Park - Disneyland Paris

Single Rider is also absolutely the right choice to maximise capacity of the ride. We reported in-depth on the Crush’s Coaster Fastpass tests in 2008, quickly proven unworkable for a ride with such low capacity. Fastpass can obviously never add capacity to a finite ride, whereas Single Rider can at least maximise capacity to as close to 100% as possible, filling every empty seat in groups of odd numbers. Both Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop and RC Racer now work successful, permanent Single Rider lines, and one is planned for Ratatouille right from the start.

In fact, it’s probably Rémy we have to thank for this long-awaited improvement. With all the new guests expected to flock to Walt Disney Studios Park for the E-Ticket dark ride, some will inevitably also help to make the Crush’s Coaster queue longer. Leaving things as they are, with even longer queues spilling out into the street, would not present a good image.

Flying Carpets Over Agrabah - Walt Disney Studios Park - Disneyland Paris

In similar fashion, we’ve suddenly seen the front of Animagique get some paint work (if not enough work). And, from 14th April right through the whole of May at least, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah will be closed for a thorough top-to-bottom refurbishment that will reportedly see the aerial carousel completely dismantled and rebuilt, just as its cousin Orbitron – Machines Volantes has enjoyed at least twice in recent memory.

That’s a lot of very welcome spit and polish ahead of the land’s newest ride opening. (Let’s just pretend the un-themed pathway behind Art of Disney Animation doesn’t exist, shall we?)

Thursday, 20th February 2014

New “Spring Festival” season set to fill April – June months at Disneyland Paris

Spring at Disneyland Paris

Remember the “Festival of Flowers” (Festival des Fleurs) of 1997 and 1998? Park icons covered in colourful spring flowers, topiaries of Disney characters all around, beautiful displays decorating the flower beds? It was a beautiful way to see in season of “printemps”.

Well, those will remain memories… but it’s this classic event that has apparently served as inspiration for a new season rumoured to begin at Disneyland Paris this April: the Spring Festival, or “Swing Into Spring” if you want the latest reported title.

Disneyland Paris in its usual self-aggrandising style has announced nothing, but information and speculation has been trickling out for almost two months now from various sources.

The speculated season looks set to revolve around a central street event, which will reuse three of the cars from Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars. The Monsters Inc and Snow White vehicles were removed from the Walt Disney Studios Park parade on Wednesday, 19th February, and are expected to be redecorated for the new cavalcade “happening”.

Joining them for the Disneyland Park event will be the Mary Poppins car, apparently leaving the Studios without a parade for the duration of the season — characters will simply perform a meet ‘n’ greet in the second park, instead. Update: @InsideDLParis informs that despite missing these three cars, Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars is planned to continue as a parade during the season.

Mary Poppins car in Disney's Stars 'n' CarsDisney's 20th Anniversary Celebration Train

Other rumours suggest the long-running Casey Jr train (Disney Characters Express, Minnie’s Party Train, Disney All Stars Express, Disney Dance Express, Disney’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Train) returning in some form with a similar colourful, floral, spring overlay.

Only the Disneyland Paris Casting website has confirmed plans for special spring events, with a casting notice (below) advertising for an impressive 102 dancers. Even taking into account days off, reducing the numbers in each actual performance, that’s a healthy figure.

Disneyland Paris Casting Spring Festival Dancers

Meanwhile, the fresh festival could also introduce some new floral decorations and street animations or meet ‘n’ greet opportunities. Concept art suggesting these was leaked by a blogger in early January and swiftly removed at the request of Disneyland Paris, stating the internal documents were not meant for public release.

More recently, a Mary Poppins “Jolly Holiday” theme has been mooted, which would be a good choice given the film’s fiftieth anniversary and renewed popularity thanks to Saving Mr Banks. This could be confirmed by the appearance of chalk paintings being tested on the pavement outside City Hall on Wednesday, photographed by @DisneylandPfans.

Spring Festival chalk painting test © DisneylandPfans

Created by an artist using just chalk, water and masking tape, it’s not known how these colourful paintings, like those mastered by Bert in the 1964 film, could be put to use as part of a season (or avoid the footsteps of idle visitors).

Dates: the “Spring Festival” is rumoured to run from 5th April to 22nd June, possibly with a “soft opening” day on 4th April, nicely filling the void in the resort’s calendar left by the “summer” opening of Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy. Again, no part of this speculated festival has been officially announced or confirmed by Disneyland Paris.

Gradually turning “Spring” into its own annual season makes perfect sense, and though this year looks like being more a trial of the concept (hence the lack of a big announcement too far in advance?), with continued investment it could conceivably become a third pillar season as important as Halloween and Christmas, driving repeat visitors without the need for those increasingly desperate, largely irrelevant year-long “festivals”.

Bonus: “Festival of Flowers” 1997 programme Read More…

Thursday, 20th February 2014

Plans to transfer Disney Hotel characters into Extra Magic Hours confirmed

Mickey Mouse at Disney's Hotel Cheyenne © Photos Magiques

As reported on Tuesday, Disneyland Paris does indeed plan to cancel the long-running Disney character meet ‘n’ greet locations at its Disney Hotels, in favour of having these characters appear during Extra Magic Hours instead.

Mouetto, admin of the top French forum Disney Central Plaza, has been able to confirm the rumours as a genuine “project” with Disneyland Paris, providing the following points of confirmation:

  • Disney characters will indeed disappear from the Disney Hotels in late November 2014 and will be reinstated in Disneyland Park during Extra Magic Hours, with several opportunities to meet and take photos while they prepare the opening of the park.
  • Characters will remain at the Inventions buffet restaurant in Disneyland Hotel and at Café Mickey.
  • There will be a new experience with Disney characters during breakfast at the Castle Club in Disneyland Hotel.
  • Guest satisfaction surveys have indicated the desire to meet and interact with more and more characters, but not necessarily in hotels. The presence of characters only came eighth in the main expectations of a Disney Hotel.

Currently there is no word of any changes to the character appearances at the Empire State Club of Disney’s Hotel New York and Golden Forest Club of Disney’s Sequoia Lodge, where the Disney stars appear during breakfast.

Besides the easier logistics of characters not having to travel to each hotel, the logic can make sense too. Whereas currently guests have the chance to meet just one or two characters in their hotel lobby, if all these characters are pooled together into the park it means much greater variety — and much better photo backdrops, too.

Offering them instead during Extra Magic Hours might not be favourable with late risers, but it’s a good way to ensure the extra characters remain a genuine benefit of Disney Hotel guests (and Annual Passport Dream holders). What will be missed we’re sure, though, are those fun character costumes, unique to each hotel.

VIA Mouetto (Disney Central Plaza), PHOTO Photos Magiques

Wednesday, 19th February 2014

Linguini face character coming to Disneyland Paris for Ratatouille ride opening?

Linguini, Ratatouille © Disney

Could Alfredo Linguini, Rémy’s human accomplice, be on his way to La Place de Rémy this year, too? Disneyland Paris recently posted an audition notice (below) on its official Casting website calling for actors to interpret the Ratatouille role “as part of a new project”.

Auditionees are required to have a “strong artistic presence” and “lots of energy”, as well as measuring a precise 1.73m to 1.85m tall. A good level of English is required as well as French, plus a definite ability to improvise in the role, son of the late Auguste Gusteau.

Disneyland Paris Ratatouille Linguini face character casting notice

Applications were to be received by 16th February, but the casting notice doesn’t give any other dates. Often these notices will give a rough idea of employment dates for the roles being cast. So, as well as not giving any clues as to the attraction‘s definite opening, this can’t tell us whether the role of a live Linguini could be a regular feature around the new attraction or perhaps just a one-off for the grand opening ceremonies.

Nevertheless, a Linguini “face character” would be another first for Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park in the world of Disney parks. Up until now, only Rémy and Emile have become park characters, being regular favourites of Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars in particular.

Meanwhile, in other online Ratatouille: The Ride news, the first mention of the attraction recently slipped onto the official Disneyland Paris website, on the main Walt Disney Studios Park page:

Disneyland Paris website - Ratatouille: L'Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy

Helpfully, the small feature box states: “The exact opening date is not confirmed. Please contact us.” It also surprisingly lists the name of the attraction as its full L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy moniker, no doubt infuriating for those Disney marketeers who probably spent fifty board meetings deciding on just calling it “The Ride” for all English advertising.

• Catch up on all our Ratatouille ride news and rumours here!

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