Wednesday, 14th March 2007

15th Fever: Merchandise explosion

It all began with a photo frame… and then the onslaught began! With less than 18 days to go until the 15th officially gets underway, they aren’t taking any chances in the merchandise department. You want pens, postcards, placemats, playing cards? They’re all covered. And you forgot to bring enough clothes for your anniversary dream? Don’t worry – you can practically get a whole new, 15th Anniversary wardrobe.

It’s no secret that Disney anniversary merchandise is a guaranteed sell – products from the 5th Anniversary were some of the best selling in the resort’s history, and even the limited items for the 10th flew off the shelves before the year was out. For the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland celebrations in California, fans waited in line hours for first-pick at exclusive merchandise. After being on an offensive to increase guest spending in the last two years, Disneyland Resort Paris is going for the big one. Soon, you might be able to live entirely off of products emblazoned with the number “15” – the merchandise line is truly that big.

Whilst Walt Disney Studios is still reported to be fairly dry, Disneyland Park has been met with a tidal wave of new products in recent days, many of which Scrooge from captured on camera…

Left-right/top-bottom: Photo frame, mouse ears hat, cola sweets, cake/sweets tin, mug and cup, photo album, table placemat, A3 poster, adult t-shirt, girls’ top, kids’ sweatshirt, white kids’ t-shirt, blue kids’ t-shirt, pen, autograph and scrapbook, notebook and pen.

And just a couple of days later, Scrooge adds even more to the collection:

Left-right/top-bottom: Postcard, bookmark, keychain, wallet, magnet, colouring book and pens, packaging close-up, playing cards, mobile accessory, tin, shoulder bag, baseball caps, light-up necklace, photo frame magnet, mini snowglobes, colouring pencils, plastic folder.

It’s true that many of the items here are lower-value products, and so far there appears to be little for the dedicated fan. As the countdown continues, though, more and more products appear. Aside from the limited editions of the Pin Trading line, there have even been rumours of such top-line merchandise as snowglobes based on the floats of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade.

The boutiques themselves are also gearing up the big launch, hoping that, at this very moment in just 18 days’ time, all these items will be flying off the shelves faster than they can say “just like we dreamed it!”.

As usual, it’s the old-fashioned stores of Main Street USA that are first to receive their new anniversary overlay. After a sweeping series of refurbishments and remodelling to almost all of the street’s boutiques in recent years, the stores are more ready than ever for an extra influx of merchandise hunters.

Special decorations and point-of-sale locations starring Lumière have already arrived at The Storybook Store and elsewhere, whilst the last-chance Plaza East & West Boutiques were first to receive their 15th Anniversary-themeing for clothing rails, shelves and more. All the branding is in a more enchanting and less modern style to the general 15th marketing – one that fits more than comfortably with that of the land itself, which bodes well for the similarly-styled banners and decorations due to arrive in the street itself soon.

Photos from Joel’s latest Photo Hunt show that the Emporium is now home to countless miniature banners amongst the old banknote-carrying system in the ceiling, hung on special, ornate gold frames and each decorated with a small golden tassel. But it’s not only the big Main Street stores ready for the April anniversary guests – the merchandise line has now reached smaller boutiques such as La Girafe Curieuse, seen above, where it is all on prominent display outside the store.

Merchandise photos by Scrooge on the forum of
Final two photos by Joel.

Thursday, 1st March 2007

Disney Characters jump aboard the celebration

And so, for one year only, every character will receive a special medal to commemorate fifteen years of Disney magic in Paris. Or, for the Disney Princesses, an ornate blue and gold brooch. This covers yet another key area of the resort in vital 15th Anniversary emblems, and yet again adds to the special “VIP” celebration feeling guests are expected to receive throughout the year.

And what of the “new Character locations created for this very special year” we were first promised back in June 2006? Well, according the final concept art below, four new “Character Experience” locations will be popping up at the four corners of Central Plaza, providing a kind of character “hub” around the redecorated Central Plaza stage and Castle. It’s also possible, perhaps, that the locations will be tied into the lands they border.

As for characters in Walt Disney Studios Park, the opening of Toon Studio in June will bring new character locations here, with latest rumours suggesting Ratatouille will be one of the new locations, giving a location for Rémy and Emile to meet guests. Walk-about characters from Meet the Robinsons are also expected.

The major Disney character event, though, will take place early each day on Main Street USA, as Disney’s Character Express steams into the park following a similar route and set-up to last Halloween’s Stitch Cavalcade. Taking place four times each day with a cast of around 14 Disney characters, the cavalcade will use the retired Dumbo float from The Wonderful World Of Disney Parade (seen above in its original concept art and in the park).

The “Casey Jr”-styled float, which consists of several articulated sections, will be completely repainted and redesigned, with a bold colour scheme of blue, white and gold and additional decorations on each carriage. The final carriage, previously closed, will be redesigned to allow more characters to hop onboard.

Characters seen on the concept art include Chip n Dale, Mr Smee, Captain Hook, Woody, Jessie, Buzz, Goofy, Donald, Eeyore and Tigger. Mickey and Minnie won’t be featured, their “top VIP” status obviously restricting them to Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade only. As it makes its way up Main Street and around Central Plaza, the Character Express will stop four times to allow the characters to disembark and interact with guests… which sounds like a joy for the Guest Flow teams!

How these events will affect the usual Halloween and Christmas seasons is still uncertain, though forgetting the long-awaited new attractions and even-longer-awaited new parade, the 15th Anniversary looks to be a fantastic year for park entertainment. With extra Disney characters, a morning cavalcade and an evening castle show apparently performed every day, this is the scale of entertainment usually restricted to a one month season extended to cover an entire year.

Concept art © Disney, captured by Mouetto on Disney Central Plaza forum.

Saturday, 24th February 2007

Candles, characters, decorations… and letters?

Candlabration / Bougillumination

In true Disney fashion, every element of this vast celebration gets its own piece of concept art. First, Candlabration – the evening ceremony show which will see Mickey and friends light up the fifteen candles on the castle in a twilight show similar to the hugely popular Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony of Disney’s Christmas Season. The concept art confirms that the Christmas stage will stay, but shows it with a beautiful, golden overlay and “15” emblems in place of the current “Once upon a time” motif.

Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and Chip ‘n’ Dale are all present, wearing pastel and royal blue outfits which might be more than a little familiar to anyone who follows the US resorts. These “Year of a Million Dreams” costumes are due to be carried over to Paris for both this show and for general meet ‘n’ greets.

In Walt Disney World’s “Dream Along With Mickey” show (video here), the characters even have “articulated” talking heads, a concept which was premiered back in 2004 with Timon in our very own The Legend Of The Lion King. Since the costumes are the same and the show is featured in a similar location, we have to ask – will our Fab 7 be talking for the 15th?

Even if they don’t, it certainly looks like they’ll be providing us with some music. Take a look at what they’re all holding – each character has their own musical instrument!

Finally, the candles themselves also present a question – just how bright will they be? Both here and in the new TV spot they’re shown as bright, shining beacons of light, rather than the small flickering flames we might have expected.

Lumière Banners

With the park located in Paris and much of the focus being on those candles, it seems almost too good to be true that Disney have the perfect showman and mascot for the celebrations – Lumière! And if his golden statue right at the centre of the Castle wasn’t enough of an ego boost, he’s soon to appear on brand new banners lining Main Street.

Recent visitors to the park will likely have wondered why the Enchanted Fairytale Illuminations “Chandeliers” are still in place – and here’s your answer! Come 1st April, though, they’ll be barely recognisable. The chandelier crown itself will be completely removed and replaced with a golden cap and horizontal frame for the banner, whilst other gold elements will be painted onto other sections of the giant, ornate lampposts.

Whilst it hasn’t been confirmed if the poles themselves will still be able to illuminate, it has been mentioned that the banners will be lit in some way by modern LED lights. Two of the banners were on display at the shareholders meeting, and perhaps give a typically “Disney” solution – LED lights fitted inside the banners themselves, lighting up the bright white dots peppered across the design? We’ll have to wait and see…

D-i-s-n-e-y-l-a-n-d Letters

And finally… something no-one could have expected. After the Pumpkinmen and Pink Witches, the entertainment teams of Disneyland Resort Paris have been off designing their own park characters again. This time, you’ll be able to meet one of the ten letters spelling out “Disneyland”. No, honestly!

It doesn’t seem to be confirmed yet whether these will be statues, walk-around characters or maybe even giant puppets (like those at WDW’s Finding Nemo The Musical), but an early name being given to them is “Alpha Bet You Are”.

There hasn’t even been confirmation if all ten will appear at once, so perhaps we’ll have to hunt them down, throughout the park? It could be massive for autograph book sales, with ten separate single-letter autographs to collect… Or am I the one getting carried away now?

Concept art © Disney, captured by Mouetto on Disney Central Plaza forum.
Additional photos by Joel.

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