Friday, 6th April 2007

(Video) A classic Main Street welcome for guests

Approaching the park through Fantasia Gardens, the rush of guests was already much stronger than the day before, with extra ‘Guest Flow’ Cast Members even positioned out front to direct guests. At the top of the gardens, it immediately became clear Disneyland had been very busy overnight, with the new, recorated, Lumière entrance adding a new touch of gold and blue to the 15-year-old Disneyland Hotel.

The banners seen on the resort hub and around Central Plaza had also now made their way to the gardens, surrounding the Disney Legends statue whose wand pointed upwards to a blue sky… that wouldn’t last (look out for another article with slightly sunnier pictures than 31st March soon!).

New park entrance decoration and banners

The entrance itself is a brilliant overlay of the 1992 original, replacing the old Euro Disney-years’ castle silhouette with a new 3D Lumière and two new oval plaques displaying the 15th Anniversary logo and castle. The plaques appear as if they’ve been on the entrance for fifteen years themselves, the design is so in tune with the entrance. For once, seasonal decorations that won’t make an Imagineer cringe!

The surprises didn’t stop with the new entrance. Stepping through the turnstiles, guests were greeted by one of the rarest sights from the resort’s history – a live dixie brass band performing at the foot of Main Street Station! Fresh from their brief appearance at the earlier Red Carpet Ceremony for the press, they gave a hint of the things to come during this day of new surprises and returning favourites…

Dixie brass band under Main Street Station

Not everything in the park for the anniversary was quite so complimentary to the theme, though at least they were trying. The huge white press platform erected a day earlier was given a new covering of “15” logo symbols, to make clear it was only a temporary feature for the anniversary press event. Lights surrounded the platform, important for the cloudy day, whilst film crews already began to prepare their waterproof camera covers for the afternoon’s launch ceremony.

Press viewing platform takes over Town Square

Lights were also positioned along the length of Main Street, as were large blue and white balloons containing confetti, to be burst during the launch ceremony later. A temporary projection and filming booth on the roof of North-East Main Street provided the location for many of the official press photos to be featured in later articles, as well as the source of the startling projections seen during the night’s special performance of Candleabration.

Lights and balloons prepare for the afternoon’s opening ceremony

Walking further on, right down the middle of Main Street USA, as it happened, and suddenly another lost favourite from the past strolled into view – turn-of-the-century townspeople! Fresh from their appearance in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, they took a stroll back along the street and clearly relished the chance to meet and greet with guests… and the Emporium statues.

Turn-of-the-century townspeople stroll Main Street, including the Mayor

At the end of Main Street, standing to one side from the press cameras and presenters still on the cobbles, the rarely-seen mayor took the chance to chat with guests after the opening ceremony. The entire park opening ceremony and much of the events to follow were all surprisingly traditional and almost entirely in tune with the park and its lands. This anniversary is clearly about the classic magic of Disneyland, rather than giant birthday cakes and ill-fitting Jester hats.

Finally, how to top-off one of the most exciting and bustling early-morning walks down Main Street for years? Can you say… marching band?! Originally a daily feature at the park upon its 1992 opening – much like the original Disneyland – they were lost amongst the financial choas that ensued. The most recent memorable performance of a Disney marching band in the park was perhaps as far back as the 5th Anniversary. But, for one day only, Disneyland Park once again had its very own marching band.

The video below shows a glimpse at their walk around Central Plaza, but their star performance – with an even larger group of muscians – was without doubt during the special pre-parade at 14:45, to be featured shortly.

Video features:
1. Park Entrance
2. Main Street Station Band
3. Mayor of Main Street & Press
4. Marching Band

An exceptional welcome to what would become an exceptional day. Love or loath the press invasion, their power to kick the park into full motion is always appreciated!

Disneyland Park ready to begin its biggest party ever

Friday, 6th April 2007

Red carpet ribbon-cutting welcomes the press

As the press filled the end of Main Street, a bright red carpet stretched off into the distance towards the Central Plaza stage and Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, creating an image like that of the striking print advertising for the anniversary. The ceremony was hosted by the Mayor of Main Street, only seen on the most rare occasions, along with one of the two 2007 Resort Ambassadors – Wendy Courquet, first introduced during The Christmas Parade of 1st January 2007.

The show began with a special marching band, not seen at the park since perhaps as long ago as the 5th Anniversary, who provided music for the equally rarely-seen Victorian townspeople to dance to.

Miley Cyrus joins the Fab 7 on the red carpet

With cameras frantically zooming and photographers clicking away, the stars of the show strolled onto the red carpet – Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and Chip n Dale, joined by 15-year-old Miley Cyrus, star of Disney Channel’s hit show Hannah Montana. The Fab 7 wore their new, blue “Year of a Million Dreams” costumes, as seen in the new nightly Candleabration ceremony show. Following them was a colourful gang of Disney characters old and new, from Lilo & Stitch and Chicken Little to the Three Little Pigs and Genie, helping to recreate the red carpet scene from the resort’s current commericials.

Miley with Mickey & Minnie / Cutting the ribbon with Wendy Courquet

After posing for the cameras, Mickey stepped forward with Miley and ambassador Wendy. Making a short speech in English, Miley said “I am very excited to be celebrating this day of dreams with you. I would love to wish a very happy fifteenth anniversary to Disneyland Resort Paris, especially since this year is my fifteenth birthday too,” before the Mayor of Main Street proclaimed “C’est Magique! Miley, Mickey, Wendy, it’s time to – cut the ribbon!”

The drums of the marching band swelled to a climax as Miley cut the ribbon and the anniversary celebrations officially began, with all of the characters, Victorian dancers and stars joining together to dance to a live brass band rendition of Mary Poppins’ classic “Spoonful of Sugar”.

Press overrun Main Street / Rolling up the red carpet

With the ceremony over, guests could finally move forward to enter the park or get a glimpse at the red carpet being rolled up, as film crews continued to capture the events and find suitable backdrops for their presenters. Amongst the well-known faces watching over events amongst the crowds – Vasile Sirli, the resort’s Musical Director, and Karl Holz, CEO of Euro Disney SCA.

Photos 1-3 © Disney.

Thursday, 5th April 2007

(Video) Final rehearsals for new entertainment

Video features:

1. Disney Characters’ Express rehearsals

2. Spit ‘n’ Polish for Main Street and First Press Filming

3. Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade final rehearsal clips

Wednesday, 4th April 2007

J-1 brings frenzied final touches

The anniversary now begins right as you enter the resort. After a limited number were added the day before, Friday 30th March 2007 finally saw the end of the circa-2002 dark blue Disneyland Resort Paris banners, featuring the Castle and Earffel Tower, now replaced by the familiar 15th Anniversary Lumiere designs. The base of the three new flagpoles, previously just concrete footers and earth, has now been filled with a bright array of yellow and orange flowers, guiding people toward the information sign and bringing some much needed colour to the hub.

New banners and flowers on the hub / Press viewing platform

Not all the last-minute changes were positive for the park, though. To accommodate the press photographers during the following day’s pre-parade ceremony and debut of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, a tiered viewing platform was installed in front of Town Square’s gazebo, covered in white tarp and also featuring an undercover area for the resort’s own cameras (lucky, considering the weather). Notice also the sea of yellow ponchos – now also featuring the 15th Anniversary logo!

New banners and flowers on the hub / Press viewing platform

More strange additions could be found in Frontierland, ready for the nighttime event following the 31st March fireworks. Whilst unnoticed by most normal guests rushing to Big Thunder Mountain and Phantom Manor, the restaurants, boutiques and Thunder Mesa themeing were all covered end-to-end in anniversary flags featuring yellow lanterns. And the guests rushing to Big Thunder? They might have been disappointed – the attraction remained closed for several hours, perhaps also due to press event preparations.

Flags and lanterns cover everything in sight at Frontierland

Amongst all the new additions for the 15th Anniversary Press Event, there were also a few final changes to the already-familiar events and decorations. After losing his bouquet of flowers for several days, the Character Castle Makeover statue of Mickey now instead picked up his magic wand…

Original Mickey with flowers (Photo by Joel) / Mickey now with magic wand

Whilst Disney Characters’ Express began its rehearsal performances. Steaming up Main Street through the rain, its characters then ran off to their four Lumiere locations around Central Plaza, without their candles seen in the previous weekend’s trade preview but instead with their new 15th Anniversary medals…

Characters receive their 15th medals / Disneyland Hotel roof cleaning, afternoon

Of course, there were also the expected clean-ups and repainting around the park. Best of all, the cleaning of Disneyland Hotel’s roof – from almost-black to its warm original shade of red.

With the Plaza Gardens Restaurant refurbishment completed a few days earlier, repainting continued (weather permitting) of the railings between its entrance doors and Central Plaza. The drained centrepiece fountain, still being returned to its former glory, was filled with temporary plants over the weekend to make sure not a single hint of the magic was broken for the press visitors.

Central Plaza railings repaint / Plaza Gardens fountain given temporary plants

The park was quiet for the most of the day, Walt Disney Studios Park even more so, definitely giving the impression of a “calm before the storm” (almost literally). And as the light faded, guests slowly left the park at 6pm, leaving it to get a long night of rest before its big, premature birthday bash the next day… Though, no doubt, its workers continued on long into the night.

A good night’s sleep before the big day tomorrow…

Wednesday, 4th April 2007

Souvenirs prêt à  vendre

The lower section of Disney Store at Disney Village has been transformed almost into a dedicated 15th Anniversary boutique, both with its standard Lumière banners, wall decorations and floor stickers and with its new golden yellow colour scheme outside. Like almost every boutique across the resort, Hollywood Pictures has a special area reserved for the general merchandise line of the 15th, complete with 3D Lumière decorations and banners.

Disney Store decorations / Hollywood Pictures sale display

The same selection is available almost everywhere, and much of it is currently aimed at children, with colouring books, clothing and stationary completing the standard range of merchandise. More variety has just arrived though, such as a new clothing line with a more “adult” anniversary logo – featuring the date of 2007 and “15 Magical Years”. Strange, since the Anniversary continues into 2008, but with several different t-shirts and sweatshirts already available this provides welcome variety to the offering.

Generic 15th merchandise / New 15th clothing line

A little more exclusive and exceptional Anniversary merchandise has also just appeared, such as the 15th Anniversary wine revealed a few weeks ago, now available from Disney’s Newport Bay Club, Disney’s Sequoia Lodge and Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne. The first wine with the Disney stamp on it, this has yet to actually be spotted inside the Disney Parks, perhaps suggesting it’ll be a resort-hotel-only offering, to keep the more traditional Disney execs happy.

15th wine at Sequoia Lodge / Pair of 15th glasses at Harrington’s

But how to drink the wine in perfect Anniversary style? Head to one of the more exclusive stores, such as the glass workshop section of Harrington’s Fine China & Porcelains in Main Street USA, and you’ll find these beautiful pairs of glasses with the 15th Anniversary logo etched into the glass, supported by none other than Mickey and Minnie Mouse themselves.

Limited edition Swarovski pendant

And finally, for the most exclusive of all Anniversary merchandise and souvenirs so far, splash out on a limited edition Swarovski Crystal pendant featuring Tinker Bell, created exclusively for the resort and its 15th Anniversary! The price tag? Probably larger than the pendant itself…!

Wednesday, 4th April 2007

PanoraMagique flies the 15

A new resort logo, you ask? “Again?” It’s a strong possibility. The new “Disneyland 15” logo, which was featured on all press material and advertising for the 15th Anniversary launch, has begun to appear without the giant 15 and instead as a new, standalone logo, replacing the circa-2002 logo which put the “Resort” firmly in the spotlight.

Guests of non-English language don’t particularly understand the “resort” tag, yet the concept of two theme parks has infact truly caught on, meaning the word has become quite redundant as the use of simply “Disneyland Paris” increases everywhere. Whilst early visuals for this new PanoraMagique overlay used the old logo then, the final design brings in the new – and flies it high above the entire resort.

Workers scale the balloon to attach its new livery, 27th March 2007.

The banner was fitted in several pieces and matches almost perfectly with the existing design of the balloon, which opened in April 2005 and is infact operated by its creators, company Aérophile, on a seven year contract. The balloon has fast become a unique icon for the resort, not found in any other Disney park and with a Victorian style mixing well between its Parisian location and American-themed surrounding Disney Hotels.

The completed overlay.

Like all of the recent Disney Village enhancements, its original livery – and this overlay – was completed by DLP-I, Disneyland Paris Imagineering, responsible for all of the more minor projects at the resort. Decorating it with a 15th Anniversary overlay helps to spread the anniversary festivities outside of Disneyland Park, whilst also bringing new interest to the 2-year old creation.

Photos 1-3 by Photos Magiques.

Wednesday, 4th April 2007

The red carpet begins here!

Expect photos, expect videos, and expect a complete guide to the entire long weekend of premieres, magic and press at the resort, truly one of the biggest, most impressive and most important since its inauguration 15 years ago.

There’s a lot of magic to fit in, a lot of dreams-come-true to share, and it’s going to take a lot of work. The red carpet begins now, as we recap it all in chronological order, as if you were really there.

Couldn’t make the invite? Step onto our own red carpet, and experience the dream…

Tuesday, 2nd January 2007

Opening dates and extra greenery

The first conifer next to Willy’s Butte rock formation confirms the realistic Mid-West North American desert theme of the movie-based attraction, and marks a drastic departure from the tropical palms shared by Crush’s Coaster and Flying Carpets. A second tree in front of Crush’s Coaster is waiting to be planted, though it has to be asked how these full-size trees will affect the miniturised scale and forced perspective of Willy’s Butte.

The bright, blue rockwork of Crush, recently uncovered from its scaffolding wrapping, still invites the attention of guests from as far away as Walt Disney Television Studios. As you near the rockwork (or zoom in with a camera), however, the true detail really appears, with authentic coral formations and shapes hidden throughout the faux frontage.

From aboard Flying Carpets, the huge amount of palms surrounding the queue and exit paths has begun to restrict views much more. Through the leafy greenery, however, you can spot progress on the paths around the area and a new protective covering over the soil of the planters. The path around the front of the rockwork will actually be separated from the rockwork itself, meaning guests will not be able to lean or climb on the scenery – or see the track of the spinning rollercoaster just several centimetres lower.

At Cars Race Rally, window frames in the entrance building have appeared. A full colour layout plan of the upcoming attraction was recently added to the DLRP Magic preview.

And finally, a perfect New Year gift – confirmation of the opening and soft opening dates of the two new attractions (and therefore the area as a whole). Revealed first by Walt Disney Studios tribute website, previews of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally will take place from 31st May to 8th June 2007. It is not yet clear whether these are full Soft Openings for all guests or restricted previews only for Annual Passholders and Shareholders. Soft openings are a Disney Park tradition, fully opening new attractions to all guests for testing and feedback. Whilst guests visiting during these dates should be lucky enough to experience the new attractions, testing is still ongoing and the rides can be closed for tweaking and maintenance at any time.

And the Grand Opening itself? Latest schedules say Sunday 10th June 2007, leaving the 9th June free for press and VIP previews.

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