Tuesday, 17th April 2007

And voilà  – here we are!

Your Red Carpet to the 15th Anniversary…


Special Exclusive 15th Anniversary Wallpaper 1280×960

And don’t forget – these articles aren’t going anywhere! They’re to be featured on our full 15th Anniversary guide and they’ll always be here, just a click away…

NB: Links in this article will no longer work. Click here to see the full archive.

» http://www.dlptoday.com/labels/15th-launch.html

The Red Carpet in full:

29th March 2007

18:00PanoraMagique flies the 15
PanoraMagique flies the anniversary emblem.

20:30Souvenirs prêt à vendre
New souvenirs appear at Hotels & Disney Village.

30th March 2007

10:00J-1 brings frenzied final touches
Hub banners, press platform, Frontierland flags, Mickey statue’s new wand,
Character medals, more cleanup, Plaza Gardens fountain temporary plants.

16:00(Video) Final rehearsals for new entertainment
Video clips from the final rehearsals for Disney Characters’ Express and
Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, mixed with a glimpse at the first press
filming and some final spit and polish on Main Street just before the rainy
parade.

31st March 2007

10:00Red Carpet ribbon-cutting welcomes the press
First on the press agenda – a red carpet welcome and ribbon-cutting ceremony
featuring Miley Cyrus, the Fab 7, a dixie band, Victorian dancers and more
Disney characters.

10:15(Video) A classic Main Street welcome for guests
Guests were welcomed into Disneyland Park on the 15th Anniversary launch day not
only by a stunning new Lumière-themed entrance, but also by a Main Street full
of classic hustle and bustle.

10:30Just Like We Dreamed It – the CD Single
The CD Single of ‘Just Like We Dreamed It’ appears on the shelves of The
Storybook Store and Emporium for the first time!

11:00(Video) Disney Characters’ Express press premiere
The official press premiere of Disney Characters’ Express starring Miley Cyrus
(Hannah Montana) was met by a line of frenzied camera crews and reporters.

14:45(Video) 15th Anniversary Pre-Parade
A marching band! A special anniversary float! A sea of blue and yellow-dressed
volunteers! The pre-parade before the official premiere of Disney’s Once Upon a
Dream Parade created a buzz not felt for years.

15:0015th Anniversary Launch Ceremony with Andie MacDowell
The 15th Anniversary and Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade was launched with a
bang, as balloons and confetti filled the air, a marching band jazzed up the
rainy day and Mickey invited some very special guests to introduce the “Once
upon a dream”.

15:05(Video) Once upon a dream/nightmare premiere
Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade officially premiered to much fanfare following
the official anniversary launch ceremony. But they say there are two sides to
every story, and this storybook premiere is no different.

16:10A VIP day out at Disneyland Park
Continuing the trend for the 15th Anniversary to outdo all that has come before,
a bumper motley crew of press and “celebrities” descended on the resort come
March 31st.

20:50(Video) 15th Launch Night: Daniel Powter
First on the spectacular evening line-up: Daniel Powter, performing two live
songs on Central Plaza.

21:10(Video) 15th Launch Night: Candleabration Fireworks
The VIPs have mingled, the fans have waited, Daniel Powter has performed –
there’s only one thing left for guests: an extra-special Candleabration, and an
incredible, breathtaking fireworks display. Also included here is a photo tour
of the new, illuminated 15th Anniversary Main Street.

21:3015th Launch Night: Red Carpet press event
Details of the exclusive VIP event and dinner in Frontierland and Adventureland
after park closure.

1st April 2007

09:55Park Maps join the party, reveal secrets
Park Guide maps for both parks receive a new anniversary style, and the Walt
Disney Studios map travels forward in time to 2008!

10:00Press Release & Concepts: 15th grows with new attractions
The press are introduced to ‘Phase 2’ of the 15th, with press releases and
concept art for the upcoming attractions and entertainment at WDS.

11:30Castle Makeover up-close and across the park
A detailed look at the Character Castle Makeover – both up-close and from around
the five lands of Disneyland Park.

12:00‘MORE’ Disney Characters
A look at the increased character presence during “The Year to Live Your Dream”.

12:45(Video) Disney Characters’ Express
Full photo and video report of the new character parade and meet ‘n’ greet.

14:00(Video) Flying Carpets over Toon Studio
Take a quick break from the party and head over to Walt Disney Studios Park for
a quick check-up on progress with the second phase of events – at Toon Studio.
Featuring a ride on Flying Carpets over the new land and a walk-around tour of
the current land.

16:00(Video) Dreams of Power takes control
It’s the official first day performance of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade!
With the press departed and the sun shining, nothing can possibly go wrong… or
can it?

2nd April 2007

11:15(Video) Alpha Bet You Are
A detailed look at the unique new Alpha Bet You Are streetmosphere show,
including photos, a full video and lots of information about the ideas behind
these new characters.

18:00(Video) Candleabration daytime
Experience the epic spectacle of Candleabration as if you were there, with our
video of the day’s early evening performance.

20:00Extra Magic Hours are go!
The first night of Extra Magic Hours. Includes a scan of the guide leaflet and
some special nighttime photos to bring the series to a close.
And now… the Red Carpet is yours! The party is waiting, the only one missing is YOU!

Congratulations to both the creators of these dreams and to all those Cast Members involved in the spectacular 15th Anniversary launch, and finally… Happy Birthday Disneyland Resort Paris!!

Tuesday, 17th April 2007

Extra Magic Hours are go!

To enjoy the evening Extra Magic Hours, you just need to head to Main Street Station anytime after 5pm, show your ‘Disney Hotel EasyPass’ (formerly known as ‘Resort ID’) or Annual Passport Dream and then grab a flourescent wristband from the guest flow Cast Members. For the first night of Extra Magic Hours on 2nd April 2007, a whole army of guest flow positioned themselves underneath Main Street Station, forming a well-organised system which saw guests funneled down the disused walkways of lockers to pick up their wristband and exit quickly.

In the days before, a new flyer had appeared across all reception desks of Disney Hotels, providing an excellent and well-designed guide to the exact times and dates as well as which attractions and restaurants will be operating:

For morning Extra Magic Hours, guests just need to show their Disney Hotel EasyPass or Annual Passport Dream to enter the park early, then show it again at the entrance to Fantasyland or Discoveryland – where all the early-morning Extra Magic Hours attractions are based.

The first nighttime ‘Heures de Magie en Plus’ was bustling compared to the deserted trial runs of April 2006, showing the resort has advertised and introduced the scheme well, but still quiet enough to enjoy an “exclusive” extra two hours in Disneyland Park after dark. Disneyland Resort Paris is the only Disney Resort besides Walt Disney World Resort in Florida (where the scheme originates from) to offer this privilage on such a scale, hoping that the temptation of 2 extra hours in Disneyland Park will win higher occupancy at its seven Disney Hotels – and more satisfied guests.

After all, what’s more magical than Disneyland by night?

Tuesday, 17th April 2007

(Video) Candleabration daytime

But wait – to say this show is “grand” might conjure up the wrong kind of image. There’s no lavish sets, expensive props or pyrotechnics here. Step back and look at the action – what do we have? Performers, flags, hats, characters and one very special castle. It hardly seems like the makings of an epic, show-stopping Broadway musical, yet the moment the brass fanfare begins and those flags are waved in beat to the “Flying” theme… you’re part of something truly special. There’s talent at work here, and a whole lot of magic.

It’s spectacularly grand yet astoundingly simple. Unique and original yet completely inspired by The Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony. Brilliantly French and European yet filled with American Disney characters.

The strangest thing about Candleabration, though, (as almost any guest will notice) is its general performance time of 6pm. Performed under the spell of darkness at 9pm, as during last week’s busy Easter holidays, it’s a mesmerising show of dazzling lights and energy. Performed as the sun is preparing to set at 6pm, it’s a grand – yet slightly mellow – salute to fifteen magical years, with the ‘Bougillumination‘ restricted to the sparkle of ultra-bright LEDs across the castle.

But perhaps this is the real magic – if you’ve seen it once, you’ve still not nearly experienced the whole show. Rather like Disneyland itself.

Sunday, 15th April 2007

(Video) Alpha Bet You Are

The Pumpkin Men, the Pink Witches and many more inbetween – creating new, original characters has been a tradition of Disneyland Resort Paris which sets it apart from other Disney resorts for years. But how about characters without eyes, without heads, and without arms? This unique streetmosphere creation by show director Emmanuel Lenormand, filing out onto Main Street USA to a playful soundtrack four times each morning, is a daring departure for Disney, and certainly something you would never see in Florida or California.

So just where did it come from? According to Emmanuel’s interview on the ‘Media Magic’ blog… merchandise. It seems that, upon seeing the interesting 2007-brand merchandise in the Emporium one day last October, he thought the same as DLRP Today – could these become real characters? Emmanuel had just been charged with creating a new morning show in Main Street for the anniversary year using the new talents of the varied Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade performers, and the character-themed numbers of “2007” (featuring Goofy as “2”, Mickey as “7”, and so on) sparked his imagination. The letters soon became ten, however – spelling out “Disneyland” – a perfect welcome for guests entering the park for the first time.

As Emmanuel describes, “These are enormous, magical letters, and we have worked on a choreography with lots of humour. My original idea was that, at the start, you wouldn’t understand what was going on – you see lots of huge forms, then you realise that the letters progressively form the word ‘Disneyland’ in the street – in giant form, since certain letters measure 2.8 metres high!”.

The performers inside aren’t actually true character performers but largely puppeteers (such as those of Animagique or the new Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade), who have a better ability to judge movement and balance – and to control the movements of the costumes from inside. Each letter has its own moving element, and each one (aside from the two letter “D”‘s) its own character theme.

The large and small letter ‘D’ are, describes Emmanuel, “like the overture and finale of the act”, both letters featuring a plain theme with the 15th Anniversary emblem and a wobbling hand on springs. Letter ‘I’ is Goofy, with a dot above itself that can spin 360 degrees and suspenders that can fall off and lift back up. ‘S’ is Daisy, dressed in glittery pink with a white petticoat and a large, moveable bow. Since letter ‘N’ is featured twice in the word, this role goes to Chip ‘n’ Dale, who are depicted with soft brown fur and red and black noses – which can move up and down the entire length of the letter!

Letter ‘E’ can’t be mistaken – the familar colours and clothing of Donald Duck, with a tail of feathers, sailor stripes and even a beret than can be raised to courtesy. Leader of the club, it’s Mickey Mouse – letter ‘Y’, with his famous red shorts, yellow buttons and flapping mouse ears. Following right behind, letter ‘L’, his love Minnie Mouse. Decorated completely with polka dots and her famous ribbon, Minnie’s ears also flap slightly as she kneels to courtesy for guests. Finally, following the Mouse couple, their faithful pal Pluto – letter ‘A’. Brown fur and long, black, wiggling ears give him away, not least his dog-like characteristics as he runs and sits on a whim… though he hasn’t quite mastered “roll over” yet.

An important part of this early-morning party is its music. Mixing classic Disney songs such as “Zip-a-Dee-Dah”, “Following the Leader”, “I Wanna Be Like You” and “Mickey Mouse Club March” with new lyrics recorded by choir children from the Seine-et-Marne region, the music is a lively and quirky addition to a morning on Main Street. Musical director Vasile Sirli was behind the brand new music, using the Budapest Pop Orchestra, familiar with the resort since their work on The Wonderful World Of Disney Parade and Disney’s ImagiNations Parade, to record the eclectic instrumental backing, which features a new instrumental theme also heard in Candleabration.

Video

“We’re following the letters, the letters! Sing with us – D-I-S-N-E-Y-L-A-N-D!”

The streetmosphere performance is currently scheduled at 10h15, 11h15, 12h15 and 13h15, entering Main Street from Plaza Gardens/Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor and making its way to the centre of the street to spell “Disneyland” and meet guests before dispersing again and gradually exiting through Town Square/Discovery Arcade.

With thanks to Media Magic Blog for their interview with Emmanuel Lenormand.

Saturday, 14th April 2007

(Video) Dreams of Power takes control

The official “first day” performance of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade. The sun was shining, crowds were eager and characters putting on their very best performance. “Once upon a dream”, it truly was…

But then, they arrived. The park forever warns during Disney’s Halloween Festival not to trust a Disney Villain, and, now that Disney’s most vicious cast of characters have their very own float year-round for the first time, it seems we need to keep a watchful eye on this motley gang…

As the final burst of the parade’s show stop music came to an end and Ursula cackled her final “Just Like We Dreamed It!”, each of the floats’ individual scores started up again. Maleficent scowled at the audience… but failed to move. As worried glances spread across the parade control Cast Members and the characters continued on with their performances, the parade – from float 5: Dreams of Power onwards at least – remained at a stand still. Memories of a performance during the previous week’s rehearsal runs – when the float ceased movement for a short time at the exact same spot – will have sprung to mind for everyone involved.

A good five to ten minutes on and music is suddenly cut from the float, with extra crew rushing in along the parade route to check on the troubled float. Watching from the sidelines, coincidentally, was the Fairy Godmother. No, she didn’t cast a spell to end the villains’ nightmare, she was attempting to take a break from her role at L’Auberge du Cendrillon‘s new princess dining, before getting caught up in the chaos and having to “shoo” away Ursula’s slimy green sea creatures.

Whilst the Evil Queen from Snow White (a character almost never seen at Disneyland Resort Paris before this parade) looked entirely unimpressed with her problematic float, the undefeated Maleficent continued to whirl and whip her hugely acclaimed new firey costume for the entire time.

The audience watching at Royal Castle Stage, where the incident occured, were surprisingly patient considering the long wait and warm sun above, with very few deciding to move on to other attractions. Either the audience had a lot of faith in Disney’s showmanship, or the tantalising glimpse at the colours of Dreams of Adventure just around the corner kept them hooked.

Just as parade control decided to switch performers in front of each float, to give the audience some variety to what they were watching, a sudden flurry of radio messages and a reappearance of technical crew from behind the float saw it spring back into action, met with a round of applause from everyone watching. But, alas, this wasn’t the end of the parade’s problems, with the final Dreams of Romance (Part 2) float performing in complete silence – without any music – for the entire run.

Our exclusive video clips from the unfortunate first-day performance of the park’s new parade begin toward the end of the problems, including the re-start of the float itself.

With each float having it’s own computer to control music and the exact position of the show stops, it seems that whilst the dreams themselves may be full of magic, talent and wonderful artistry… technology may not always be on their side. Not least when a Disney Villain is involved.

Saturday, 14th April 2007

(Video) Flying Carpets over Toon Studio

The life of a Disneyland Resort Paris fan. For the past year, one attraction has become a firm favourite, a must-ride, an unmissable part of every visit – Flying Carpets Over Agrabah!! With the end in sight on the entire Toon Studio project (Walt Disney Imagineering must officially hand over the new attractions to Euro Disney SCA from mid-May), the end could also be in sight for this attraction’s newfound popularity with fans. When you can walk right up to Cars Race Rally, there’s not much need to crane your neck and desperately click away on your camera’s shutter, as your flying carpet swirls around and you begin to regret that ‘Magic Cheeseburger’ from Restaurant En Coulisse.

Heading toward Flying Carpets, there are new things to see and changes to be noticed even before you reach the Genie’s green room, such as the new checkerboard flooring (which still doesn’t seem quite right)…

Or maybe the new lights targeted toward Crush’s outdoor set. Far smaller than the huge lighting rigs on original concepts, these sleek, dark green lights will help illuminate the fresque at night with an undersea glow. Across the courtyard, Animagique is still getting some desperately-needed care and – of course – a new blue colour scheme.

And now, here we are – Flying Carpets Over Agrabah! Ready to go “on set”? We’re not the actors today, we’re the cameramen! Lens focused, shutter finger ready, ready to get your Carpet up high as fast as possible? Here we go…

Full height and our first photo. With just weeks to go, it’s a relief to see work has progressed with incredible speed. Over at Cars Race Rally, you can see the metal frame of the new Flying Carpets-style backdrop, new filmset lights lined up along the turquoise boarding canopy, the “Leaning Tower of Tires” at Luigi’s Casa Della Tires, the Flo’s V8 Café sign awaiting its neons and the dark and dirty wooden storefront of Lizzie’s Radiator Springs Curios. The thick oasis of palm trees block much of the Crush’s Coaster area now, but you can at least see the second tall, green lighting rig and silver queue line railings matching those in front of Flying Carpets.

The general Toon Studio area of course has its recognisable blue twisted lampposts along with new planters marked out, a yellow wall, a grand entrance gate (on the right) and a growing Toon Town backdrop.

On the next swirl of the flying carpet, we look instead to the old Animation Courtyard area and its huge collection of fences. In front of Animagique, a change in the checkerboard pattern can be noticed, creating a zig-zag “sunburst” effect radiating out of the circular edge of the Studio 3 waiting area. It remains to be seen if new planters will be added here, as in several of the early concepts.

Since the canopy and fabric walls of the Arabian viewing platoform have yet to be replaced after the frame was painted purple, a view across to the new attractions is actually a little easier than before. On a close zoom below, you can see not only part of the completed Casa Della Tires storefront but also new lighting attached to the dark wooden poles in front of Crush’s Coaster. Similar, but smaller, blue lights can be seen on metal poles near Cars.

And with that, the Genie has his scene and the ride is over! But now, you can experience the “making of” so many construction updates in the past year with what is perhaps the first video construction update from onboard the Carpets – with all the frantic zooming and twisting to desperately capture a few clear shots. Flying Carpets Over Agrabah will never be the same come June 9th…


Flying Carpets over Toon Studio + Walkaround Tour
Presented in Widescreen Fan-o-Vision
Video by DLRP Today

The video also includes a walk-around tour of Animation Courtyard on 1st April 2007, showing the exact progress of the new and remade land on the first official day of the Anniversary festivities that will launch its new attractions come June.

Listen out in the background, too – hear something different? Yes, that’s the new Toon Studio area loop! A mix of more jazzy music with some laidback piano and lounge, the loop also finally features a selection from Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 along with favourites such as The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast and The Aristocats. More diverse music choices in the mix include The Rescuers and a jazz version of Walt Disney World’s Spectromagic theme! Unlike the old loop, the film scores aren’t always taken directly from their original soundtracks, either – many of the songs are alternate, instrumental versions in a slightly quirky “lounge” style. Some, such as The Aristocats, even appear to be taken from old entertainment productions such as ‘Disney Classics: The Music and the Magic’. The loop first appeared around 30th March, replacing the old, more orchestral loop which was ported over directly from Disney-MGM Studios Florida’s Animation Courtyard. If you’d like to hear more, though, it looks (or sounds) like you’ll have to wait until June – member Kinoo on MagicForum reports the loop has reverted back to the original after these first trials.

Of course, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah isn’t the only angle for Toon Studio updates. As the two attractions have grown above the construction fences, their presence in the land – and across the park – is unmissable, particularly the bright turquoise roof of Flo’s V8 Café, or the round, tiled entrance to the ride itself, seen below receiving some extra touch-ups to its impressive detail and weathering. It’s obvious that, with the June opening of the new area, Walt Disney Studios will suddenly have a huge amount of new icons and detail – not to mention some real themed areas to escape into.

Another angle available thanks to the current construction fence set-up is to try to look as inconspicuous as possible, place your camera on the floor and quickly snap the shutter. From here, we can see some new blue railings around the Cars Race Rally area next to Art of Disney Animation, not to mention a better look at the work going into themeing the canopy of Flo’s V8 Café beyond. In the second photo, paintwork, railings and even posters can be seen in the queue area – a full-zoom revealing the poster advertises Ramone’s House of Body Art, upon which the circular entrance building is based.

Whether you’re a fan or a casual visitor, the impact of Toon Studio on the park – its buildings, its themeing, its icons – is finally starting to be seen from all angles.

Saturday, 14th April 2007

(Video) Disney Characters’ Express

Mixing the music and movement of a normal parade with dedicated, up-close character meet ‘n’ greets, Disney Characters’ Express presents quite a unique event. Taking place several times in the morning and early afternoon, the event seems to be most inspired by the popular Walt Disney Studios Park mini-parade Good Morning Walt Disney Studios, which sees characters “arrive on set for filming” aboard luxurious Hollywood cadillacs. As this mini-parade reaches Place des Stars stage, the characters climb out and mingle with the guests. For Disney Characters’ Express, the concept has been taken further, with dedicated spots around Central Plaza for the characters to meet guests.

After the opening announcement, the redesigned Casey Jr enters the park from next to Discovery Arcade at Town Square, “steams” all the way up Main Street USA, “En route au coeur du magie!” (On-route for the heart of the magic), and comes to a halt directly in front of the castle…

The dancers/minders help their characters to climb down from the wagons, before they escort them through the frantic crowds to their specific locations around the hub, which help to give guests a better chance to meet the stars. Four è locations have been added at each corner, featuring the inescapable French candlestick host from Beauty and the Beast against a giant “15” backdrop featuring the Disneyland Resort Paris logo – perhaps to remind guests where their holiday photos were taken?

Characters usually head to the corner of the resort which most suits their theme, for example Pinocchio will head to the left of the Castle, Buzz Lightyear to the Discoveryland entrance and Chip ‘n’ Dale to the Frontierland corner. This just leaves Casey Jr, and his engine driver, to take a well-deserved rest…

Video

Featuring footage from two separate performances, our full video of Disney Characters’ Express therefore features two different train-loads of Disney passengers – can you spot the difference?

The characters usually change with each journey of “le petit train”, though some of the key characters (such as Chip ‘n’ Dale) are almost always present. This not only encourages guests to catch the event more than once in their day, but also opens up the possibility for some rarer characters to be featured throughout the year.

Friday, 13th April 2007

‘MORE’ Disney Characters!

Where better to begin than the fairytale worlds of Fantasyland. Guests on 1st April certainly weren’t disappointed – passing by L’Arbre Enchanté opposite Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, a motley line-up of some of Disney’s storybook stars were ready and waiting, all wearing their special 15th Anniversary medals.

Featuring Lumière next to a giant “15” with the Disneyland Resort Paris logos on one side and a plain reverse, the medals are featured on a blue lanyard with the word “Welcome!” covering the design in many different languages, similar to the banners and posters all over the resort. They can currently be seen on meet ‘n’ greet characters as well as during Disney Characters’ Express.

In Fantasyland, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum were more than happy to pose for photographs and sign autographs…

Though with some of the more lively characters, it takes a bit of patience…

Even a Penguin from Mary Poppins was up bright and early to meet the crowds!

Over in Frontierland, guests are treated to a picture-perfect meet ‘n’ greet spot opposite Big Thunder Mountain, with the Disney VIPs ready and waiting in their customised Frontier costumes – now also adorned with 15th Anniversary medals.

There always comes that point in scheduled character meet ‘n’ greets when the character in question has to run off for a quick break. Whilst it often produces cries of “No, Goofy! Come back!” from the stressed parents in line, some guests at the front of the queue during switch-over can be treated to, say, four of the Fab 7 all to themselves!

But if you thought meet ‘n’ greets were the only way to get up-close with Disney characters this year, think again. There is, of course, Disney Characters’ Express, which gives its stars around 15-20 minutes to run off to four Lumière-themed photo points around Central Plaza and meet guests.

Then there’s ‘Character Dining’. Already popular at The Lucky Nugget Saloon, Inventions and more, the concept has now been extended to L’Auberge du Cendrillon in Fantasyland, where guests can meet and dine amongst fairytale stars from Suzy and Perla the mice, to princes and princesses and even the fairy godmother! Seen here attempting to cross the parade route from the backstage entrance to Cinderella’s inn, she soon found an alternative route when the Dreams of Power float in front of her (which she continued to hiss and “boo” at) broke down…

But what’s that, you’re bored of these same old Disney characters? Well, stick around in Main Street each morning and you’ll be treated to a very original spectacle indeed…

The ten fluffy letters of Alpha Bet You Are, dancing along the street to themes of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “Following the Letters” (rather than “Following the Leader”), they’re free to be hugged and stroked before forming their famous ten-letter word at the foot of Main Street.

But you’d rather something less fluffy? Don’t worry – they have this covered too. For a more “mature” meet ‘n’ greet experience, you could head to Front Lot every morning at 10:30am for the ‘Red Carpet’ meeting, which sees not only classic Disney characters invade La Place des Frères Lumière but also stars from Disney Studio 1’s Ciné Folies shows, such as Dracula…

Alternatively, you might find the treasure of Adventureland and encounter Jack Sparrow himself in front of Pirates of the Caribbean, signing autographs and carousing with the ladies in perfect pirate style. But one tip – should Jack depart on one of his long-winded jaunts through the caves and across the rope bridges of Adventure Isle, it might be best to give up the chase. This pirate has a fantastic ability to completely lose his merry trail of adoring fans in an instant.

As you can see, not all of the Disney characters wear those special anniversary medals. At a mega meet ‘n’ greet session outside Cowboy Cookout Barbeque, guests could spot Brer Bear, Cowboy Goofy, the Country Bears, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Chip ‘n’ Dale. But, strangely, none were wearing their special anniversary apparel.

There we go, “More” Disney Characters indeed! Whatever the year brings, whatever the weather, whatever the time, it seems we can be sure one place will always be ready and waiting to transport us all to our own personal Wonderland…

If you enjoy Disney character photos, you might want to check out the now fully-updated Character albums of our partner site Photos Magiques, now featuring over 100 autographs and over 560 photos! Click here to go there.

Friday, 13th April 2007

Castle Makeover up-close and across the park

Like all of the 15th Anniversary events, we’ve followed this overlay of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant right from the first hint to the final result. First discovered on a marketing visual in July 2006, the makeover quickly became a real, confirmed plan for the anniversary. In October 2006, we learnt that Pinocchio would take the former place of Winnie the Pooh, whilst January 2007 brought news that the character statues would infact be golden/bronze rather than full colour. In February, we discovered Buzz Lightyear would hold the fifteenth candle.

The makeover officially began on 12th March 2007, exactly one month before the official date of the resort’s birthday, with the entire project completed just nine days later on 21st March 2007. And now, we’re proud to present our very own look at the completed makeover. Already praised amongst fan groups for its “subtle and stylish” overlay, the decorations are far from the ‘Festival of Fools’ design of the 5th Anniversary or the birthday cake covering of the 1st Anniversary…

Character Castle Makeover: Up-Close

Entering the park on 1st April 2007 with blue skies overhead, we take a walk around Central Plaza to look closer at the Castle and its’ new golden jewellery, glistening in the sun. Looking closer at the statues reveals their whimsical and quaint designs – the “models” of the characters are not always perfect, but this almost seems to be intentional. Rather than plastic-perfect scale models, the statues – described as “delicate” by Disney themselves – have been designed to compliment the very stylised and ornate design of the Castle itself.

Another unique feature of the statues, beyond their fully wired-up electric candles, are the spots of paint dotted across their design – whites and pupils for eyes, recognisable colours for clothes tinted into the golden statues gives a soft and varied look to the many characters.

Of course, an up-close look at the Castle also reveals a few unpleasant surprises across its tired and dirty turrets. Some were quickly cleaned as the statues were added, but many won’t look as fresh as 1992 until a full refurbishment – currently scheduled for 2008, when the party comes to a close. A full zoom also reveals other secrets, such as a parade control camera next to Goofy, or wires and technical equipment across the highest turret.

The new characters seem to have encouraged the birds formerly residing in the highest spire to move on – leaving Tinkerbell to rule the roost and spray a burst of golden confetti at rare intervals. The “Peter Pan” fairy is also loaded with fibre optic and LED effects, producing a dazzling white “sparkle” from her wand and glowing blue wings, once illuminated by Candleabration.

Character Castle Makeover: From Across the Park

The new decorations don’t just give a new surprise on Main Street and Central Plaza – as the icon of the entire Disneyland Park, Sleeping Beauty Castle has many faces and countless photo opportunities, now with a unique 15th Anniversary touch.

Be it through the flowers of Central Plaza, the glass of the Bureau Passeport Annuel

The rooftops of Fantasyland, or the blossom of “it’s a small world”… Le Château is new again.

And as the sun sets, the unmissable form of Disney’s European fairytale creation takes on a brand new silhouette, dotted with delicate hints to Disney’s most famous faces from across the years…

As daylight faded on 1st April 2007 (and following days), however, the candles were all blown out shortly after the evening’s daylight performance of Candleabration. It remains to be seen whether this is a trend for the entire year, or if those fifteen characters will soon be practiced enough to keep their fifteen candles alight long into the night…

For photos of the Character Castle Makeover illuminated at night, see our previous article here.

Monday, 9th April 2007

Press Release & Concepts: 15th grows with new attractions

Gathered in the Hotel New York convention centre, the press were told that “the celebration doesn’t end here!” as the resort proudly announced it’s ‘Phase 2’ of the 15th Anniversary, leading from the June debut of Toon Studio right up to Stitch Encounter in early 2008.

On the proud occasion for this new, more confident Disney resort, a special press release was prepared, detailing the new attractions and providing new insight and comment from Walt Disney Imagineers working the various projects. The release is presented exclusively in full here:

Disneyland Resort Paris 15th Anniversary Celebration Grows
As Walt Disney Studios Park Adds Attractions, Entertainment

MARNE-LA-VALLÉE, France (April 1, 2007) – Disneyland Resort Paris continues the 15th Anniversary Celebration with the announcement of even more attractions debuting at Walt Disney Studios Park in the coming year, marking the largest expansion in the last five years for Europe’s No. 1 holiday destination.

“Walt Disney once said ‘Disneyland will always be building and growing and adding new things.’ And in that spirit, we continue to take his mission to heart by designing, developing and creating new experiences that will make our Resort unique, memorable and, most important of all magical,” said Karl L. Holz, chairman and chief executive officer of Euro Disney S.A.S. “We’ve come a long way, and we haven’t finished yet.”

Among projects that are part of the yearlong celebration:

Walt Disney Studios Park Expands
With Toon Studio, 3 New Attractions

Walt Disney Studios Park grows with the June debut of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally as part of the new Toon Studio. This colorful area transforms the Park’s Animation Courtyard into a lively “studio backlot” that playfully pays tribute to the art of animation.

Crush’s Coaster is the first coaster-based attraction inspired by the Disney-Pixar film “Finding Nemo”. Guests climbs aboard a turtle shell and plunge into the thrilling world of Nemo and his turtle friend Crush, with sophisticated show lighting, sound effects and imaging technology creating a whimsical whirl through the East Australian current.

“Disney has always been known for creative storytelling, and Crush’s Coaster takes immersive storytelling to the next level,” said Tom Fitzgerald, executive vice president and senior creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering. “Imagineers are pushing the boundaries of technology to bring the worlds and characters of ‘Finding Nemo’ to life in incredible, three-dimensional ways.”

Also premiering in June is Cars Race Rally, the first Disney Park attraction based on the Disney-Pixar film “Cars”. Guests of all ages climb aboard for a zany spinning ride on the famous Route 66, created with dimensional movie sets. At each corner of the track, famous faces from the film are waiting to cheer on drivers. As the rocky desert landscape whizzes past and the canyon walls spiral around, your car crosses the finish line.

A third attraction debuts in early 2008 on the Park’s new Hollywood Boulevard — the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, towering 183 feet. Thr thrill ride will dare guests to board a hotel freight elevator — with a faster-than-the-speed-of-gravity drop through 13 floors. Tower of Terror, already a hit at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland, is one of Disney’s most popular attractions worldwide.

“Hollywood Boulevard is a great example of infusing our story into the physical space through a 1950s Hollywood neighbourhood with dimensional movie sets, color and lighting,” said Fitzgerald.

More Interactive Fun — ‘High School Musical On Tour,’
‘Meet The Robinsons,’ ‘Ratatouille’ Meet ‘n’ Greets

The hottest dance moves and the biggest hit songs from one of the Disney Channel’s most popular entainment phenomenon come to life in “High School Musical On Tour,” a new immersive show for the whole family at Walt Disney Studios Park.

Debuting on a rolling outdoor stage June 16 and performing through Aug. 26, a multi-talented team of entertainers brings the students of East High to France for summer vacation, re-creating the world of East High, a place where best friends break into elaborate musical numbers like magic. Theme Park guests may even find themselves shooting basketball or joining in as the whole street turns into a party while great songs fill the air.

Performed in several languages, it’s a showcase of sing-a-long fun that will invite all ages to be part of a new kind of live entertainment inspired by the highest-rates TV movie in Disney history.

Also this summer at Walt Disney Studios Park, guests can meet the characters from the newest animated Disney-Pixar film. Beginning June 16 in Toon Studio, meet the starts of Disney-Pixar’s upcoming animated feature “Ratatouille”: Rémy, an adorable rat who dreams of becoming a great French chef, and Emile, his roguish friend. And this fall in Toon Studio, meet 12-year-old boy genius Lewis Robinson and the mysterious boy named Wilbur Robinson who whisks him away to the future in the comedic “Meet the Robinsons.”

‘Living Characters’ Debut with Stitch Attraction

Utilizing the latest real-life computer graphics animation technology created by Walt Disney Imagineering, a new interactive Stitch Attraction opens in spring 2008 at Walt Disney Studios Park. The attraction lets guests talk, listen, joke and play with the fuzzy, lovable alien first introduced to audiences in Walt Disney Pictures’ hit comedy, “Lilo & Sttich.”

Because of the interactivity and immersion of this new experience, the guests are the ‘stars’ of the production along with Stitch himself,” said Tom Fitzgerald, executive vice president and senior creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering.

As Guests enter the theater, a Space Traffic Controller scans a galactic communications screen for “active” alien traffic. Stitch is quickly summoned to talk, joke and even flirt, engaging the audience in spontaneous conversation. The show is never the same twice — whether Stitch plays his guitar, dances around the bridge of the spaceship or takes digital photographs of audience members. And no matter where guests are seated, Stitch sees and engages them in non-stop banter.

“It’s the latest milestone in Walt Disney Imagineering’s legacy of bringing Disney characters to life,” said Fitzgerald.

All-New Live Entertainment in Disneyland Park

In Disneyland Park, Mickey Mouse and dozens of Disney characters star in the all-new Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, featuring famous dream moments from Disney stories, and for the first time ever, the floats have fragrances that fill the air, matching the themes of each float. Also for the first time, most of the floats have two themes, one on the front and one on the back.

Music is orchestrated and conducted by noted musician Steve Sidwell, who also wrote the music for films including “Moulin Rouge,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “Finding Nemo,” and was recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.

There are even more opportunities to meet classic Disney characters, including the new Disney Characters’ Express, a specially-designed train that carries the stars down Main Street U.S.A. several times daily. Their musical adventure includes time to meet and greet with guests in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and at special locations added just for the celebration.

And each evening, the park will come to life during Candleabration on the forecourt stage, featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and friends in a lively song-and-dance finale with the backdrop of Sleeping Beauty Castle, artfully adorned with delicate sculptures of 15 favorite Disney Characters with shining birthday candles decorating the turrets.

—– End Release —–

The new additions weren’t just previewed with words. Press were treated not only to a special preview performance of the new ‘High School Musical On Tour‘ show, but also to a glimpse at two brand new pieces of concept art, captured and presented to the ‘outside world’ for the first time by our partner site WDSfans.com.

The first is a key concept for the new ‘Hollywood Boulevard’ project, showing our own Twilight Zone Tower of Terror surrounded by 1950s Hollywood city buildings, littered with neons, billboards and seating and towering high above the streets below.

Anyone following the project from its first preview at the January Cast Member rendez-vous event may recognise that this is actually one of two concepts designed for the area. As we heard from the Cast Member event, this ‘Bank of Hollywood’ street set development was not the chosen design – the design will instead be more “pueblo deco” and “mediterranean” as the Tower itself, as seen on the new park map.

The new Hollywood Hills tunnel entrance to Studio Tram Tour is also missing, though the concept does certainly give an exciting and atmospheric look at the theme and surprising size of the project – and of course, finally, our first real look at a dedicated concept art created just for this project.

It’s interesting to note also that Imagineers are describing this as a “1950s Hollywood Boulevard”, meaning that, at the time this fictional “film shoot” is set, The Hollywood Tower Hotel would already have been closed for over 10 years (since 1939).

Finally, another concept art – and again, the first one we’ve seen for this particular project. Showing Stitch’s invasion of the current Walt Disney Television Studios building, this concept for Stitch Encounter shows the building decorated with a new, more blue and purple, colour scheme, along with a huge entrance sign featuring the loveable alien himself. A satellite dish is featured atop the current tower, looking like something straight out of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.

A new, circular information board is also featured in front of the attraction, displaying times listings for both French and English performances and matching the Art Deco design of the building itself. The Imagineers working on the new transformation must be relieved that the slight whimsy and futuristic look of the Art Deco building already lends it quite an “outer space” style.

Interestingly, the Disney Channel branding appears to have remained – both on the huge projection screen embedded into the building and atop the new times board. Also of note is that whilst the concept shows a ‘Stitch Encounter’ entrance sign similar to the original attraction in Hong Kong Disneyland, the press release simply states ‘Stitch Attraction’, suggesting the final name has yet to be decided.

With all this announced and released just one day after the launch events and premieres for the 15th Anniversary, it all adds up to a huge range of new additions – bigger, perhaps, than the 50th Anniversary of dear old Disneyland USA itself.

Karl Holz said it perfectly – “We’ve come a long way, and we haven’t finished yet.”

Concept art © Disney; Captured exclusively by WDSfans.com

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