Saturday, 24th March 2007

Disney’s Once Upon a Dream is HERE!

And now, the very first photos of the brand new parade! Don’t worry if you’re visiting next weekend – we won’t post any here until the official premiere! But, for your first sneak peak, check out the new gallery at Photos Magiques:

Wednesday, 21st March 2007

Character Castle Makeover – complete!

At our last update on the Character Castle Makeover, eight characters had already scaled the spires and turrets of Sleeping Beauty Castle: Donald, Daisy, Jiminy Crickett, Goofy, Pluto, Chip n Dale, Pinocchio & Figaro and Dumbo & Timothy. Just one day later (14th March 2007), Buzz Lightyear and Lumière joined the cast on their central turret locations.

On 15th March 2007, Cheshire Cat appeared on the hillside rocks next to the Castle and Tinkerbell herself appeared atop the highest turret, her wings and spiralling pixie dust trail laced with LED lights ready for Candleabration. Next up, on 17th March 2007, the tricky trio of Hewey, Dewey and Lewey, Donald’s newphews, who took up their spot on a smaller turret, as explained last time.

Finally, only one week after the first characters arrived, the Seven Dwarfs and Mickey & Minnie took up their spots on the castle. The Dwarfs of Snow White have already raised eyebrows due to their unusual design, with Dopey lying in the middle and three of the characters cut in half to appear to be resting on the balcony – though, from the viewing distance of a guest without a DLRP fan’s high-zoom camera, the curious design isn’t noticable.

Completing the entire makeover, the giant centrepiece “15” emblem appeared on the morning of 20th March 2007, tying all of the characters together. More LED lights also appear here, dotted around the rim and across the blue background of the golden numbers. After capturing these latest photos, Joel goes on to photograph The Wonderful World Of Disney Parade passing by – photos that, in just a few days time – will be quite unique and very precious as the parade bids its final farewell to the park, never to be seen again before this 15th Anniversary overlay. You can see these here.

You might have also spotted that Mickey & Minnie appear different to designs seen earlier, since they appear to be based more on retro designs from the Disney Studios – noticable due to their huge pupils and Minnie’s old-fashioned dress. Looking at the entire makeover, it’s the retro, classic and almost “hand-made” style of these decorations which make them special. No glossy Walt Disney World golden characters or plastic cakes, but instead delicate and slightly whimsical designs perfectly befitting the whimsical and delicate style of Le Château herself.

All photos from Joel’s Photo Hunt. You can see more here.

Friday, 16th March 2007

Dates confirmed on the Studios’ 5th

Is this an anniversary “just like we dreamed it” ? Surely, it has to be even better! Not only are four new attractions due to open in the next 12 months, but half of the park is currently being transformed with new themeing to form Toon Studio and Hollywood Studio. And if that wasn’t enough, perhaps the one remaining disappointing corner of the park has finally received the final nail in its coffin…

Just last week, our partner site reported that the final closure date for Walt Disney Television Studios (the Television Production Tour) has now been confirmed to Cast Members. The attraction, which was never a great success (and became a source of both humour and embarrassment for fans), will officially close for good on 16th April 2007 to allow preparations for Stitch Encounter to begin. Farewell Julie… may your glorious singing and unforgettable hairstyles bring great joy to all in Yester-WDS!

For months now, the opening date of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally has been thrown around all over, from an originally confirmed 10th June opening to the more recent rumours of a 17th June opening, as Disneyland Resort Paris sat quietly in the corner and laughed… But perhaps there was a reason – since today, on the 5th birthday of the park, they have finally broken the wall of silence and announced a final, confirmed opening date… 9th June 2007!

The announcement comes from the official anniversary website,, though it appears the previously confirmed press event of 16th/17th June 2007 will still go ahead. The reason for this week delay is perhaps the grand opening of TGV Est on 10th June 2007, a new high-speed line to Eastern France that will open up many new destinations to both Paris and the resort itself. To ensure maximum possible coverage for these two incredibly important new attractions, then, the press will have to wait a week longer than guests for their grand premiere.

So – birthday popcorn all-round! This production is finally coming together, and with all the style and grace you’d expect from a tribute to the magic of the movies.

Wednesday, 14th March 2007

Castle characters scale the first spires!

For several weeks, preparations have been underway to welcome the fifteen new golden creations to the spires of Le Château, including the much-noticed early removal of one of its spires (see photo). The first characters arrived on Monday – Donald, Daisy and Jiminy Crickett, followed by five more yesterday – Goofy, Pluto, Chip n Dale, Pinocchio & Figaro and Dumbo & Timothy. The statues are small and understated yet perfectly detailed, each one holding an intricate candle and standing on a jeweled, “15”-encrusted crown.

Whilst a January article in newspaper Le Parisien revealed the statues would be gold rather than full-colour, the characters are infact all tinted with particular colours each, such as pink for Daisy’s dress or blue for Donald’s sailor hat. Their eyes, noses and mouths (see Chip n Dale in particular) have also been picked out in full-colour paint, creating a unique decoration and a more “awake” cast of characters.

The “scuffle” comes from exactly those you’d expect it. We found out last October that Winnie the Pooh had been replaced by Pinocchio & Figaro, and just late last month that Buzz Lightyear had joined the makeover, but now it seems Chip n Dale have beaten Hewey, Dewey & Lewey to a more prominent spot the Castle’s lower-right spire, when compared to the original visuals.

The change was, however, included in the latest concept art we saw last month, with Hewey, Dewey & Lewey now resting precariously on the spire to the right of the main balcony.

The work is taking place overnight, using the same means (a huge crane) as the installation of the Christmas Enchanted Fairytale lights – most of which have, infact, also made an early return to the park. These thousands of small LED lights, wrapped on cages which sit atop the spires, likely provide the electrical supply for the fifteen new candle illuminations themselves.

The candles, to be lit during Candleabration, appear to be opaque glass bulbs sprayed lightly with gold paint, though we’ve no indication yet what kind of lighting effect they will give. It is unlikely the Enchanted Fairytale lights will be used during the ceremony (until Christmas), though it has been suggested the “pixiedust” effect (created by the larger, white lights dotted across the turrets) will be used during Candleabration.

The spiraling trail of pixie dust around the top of the Castle is already in place for Tinker Bell, who is due to join the Seven Dwarfs, Buzz Lightyear, Lumière, Hewey, Dewey & Lewey, Cheshire Cat, Mickey & Minnie and the giant “15” window to complete the makeover shortly.

Thanks to Mateo for all photos above, posted on Disney Central Plaza forum.

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.

Monday, 12th March 2007

15th Fever: Online

The large and much thought-out and the recent relaunch of prove that Disneyland Resort Paris certainly know the power of online advertising, but a website is no good without a bit of publicity to get it started, and it’s here that these Flash banner advertisements come into play.

Using the now-familiar red carpet and Disney characters motif, the banners and buttons all mention the “Kids Under 7 Stay and Play Free” offer and direct internet users to the special offer page of, where the option to book a stay is clear for all to see.

An unfortunate aspect of online advertising, however, is the limitations it puts on graphic design and photography. For a company such as Disneyland, which very much relies on colourful, bold and crisp visuals to sell its magical product, the limits of Flash and GIF advertisements give an end result far less pleasing than print advertising, as seen with the blurry and bad quality character photos above. Be it a software limitation or a design flaw, we have to hope it won’t affect the number of people who click-through to discover the anniversary events.

The advertisements have now been released for all of Disneyland Resort Paris’ TradeDoubler territories, and should also be appearing (along with other specially-created online competitions and promotions) on several high-profile websites such as MSN as the campaign gets further underway.

Monday, 12th March 2007

15th Fever: In print

In the UK, the eye-catching red carpet scene leads with the tagline “You’re Invited”, calling out to the audience and attempting to highlight that this is a truly special, VIP event. The text at the bottom reads “Dream like you’ve never dreamt before, with all the characters, a new parade and new attractions”, whilst the “hook” of the advertisement is – as with all the 15th promotion so far – the fairly substantial “Kids Under 7 Stay and Play Free” offer.

High Quality (900Kb) Download

The double-page magazine advertisement has already been spotted in this week’s Radio Times, a very widely circulated tv listings guide, along with several of the Sunday newspaper magazines. Single page versions have already even been seen in such obscure publications as the Cineworld/UGC free film preview magazine, “Unlimited”.

In France, the advertisement leads with “C’est l’année de tous les rêves” (roughly “It’s the year of every dream”), with a longer piece of text at the bottom describing package prices and room rates. The “Séjour gratuit pour les moins de 7 ans” text is also silver, and more “sparkly”, compared to its British cousin.

Photo by mickey3101, DCP forum.

It’s this same key advertising visual that will soon be appearing not just in magazine advertisements but all over Paris and beyond. Disneyland Resort Paris plan to fill the billboards of Paris with over 6000 of these posters, including one in particular which will allow a child’s photo to be uploaded to it, appearing for a select period of time with a phrase such as “Charlotte dreams of becoming Cinderella”. A unique “first” and a great bit of fun for the children lucky enough to receive their 15 minutes of fame.

Other “red carpet” billboards will interact with their surroundings, showing the red carpet continue beyond the poster to wrap itself around the entire building. There will also be advertisements on 22 buses, and in particular 4 completely decorated Paris sightseeing coaches, plus special, full “red carpet” makeovers of selected Métro stations.

The size and scope of this campaign and the entire year has exploded beyond anything that could have been expected one year, or even six months, ago. After such a successful and widespread launch, it all looks good for the effect of that sparkling red carpet on the resort’s most important year.

Monday, 12th March 2007

15th Fever: On TV

We saw previews of the very professional TV advertising campaign from the February Shareholders’ AGM, but seeing these exciting TV spots in your own home is quite an event! The magicforum topic for the celebration has logged several pages of sightings and discussion, with fans in almost all of the key European markets of the resort spotting the commercials already.

With the commercials now in the public domain, we can get a better look at some of the beautiful visuals, created in California to Disneyland Resort Paris’ specifications… (see Lumière hiding in the back there?)

The commercials are shown in several formats and differ slightly depending on the country they’re being shown. Both 40 second and 20 second versions have been created, with the latter skipping over the shots of Cars Race Rally and Crush’s Coaster to instead focus on the events available from April 2007.

And now, if you’ve not been able to catch one of the commercials yet, or if you’re in a territory which doesn’t receive Disneyland Resort Paris advertising, here it is!

English Version (40s)

The commercials form the key part of the resort’s massive 15th Anniversary advertising campaign, without doubt the largest and most ambitious ever.

In France, the campaign was launched with specially-created break-bumpers (quick clips played before a channel goes to commercials) on TF1, showing the red carpet flying through the sky with the TF1 logo and “Pub” (Adverts) text, wrapping the entire channel in some beautiful CGI advertising visuals for the 15th Anniversary.

A special series of short programmes are also scheduled for the channel over the next fifteen days, as revealed on the official French Anniversary Blog. Entitled “On a tous nos rêves” (We all have our dreams), the series of featurettes presents fifteen French celebrities discussing their own childhood dreams in honour of the anniversary, though it’s unlikely many of the names will be familiar outside of France: Yannick Noah, Christine Scott-Thomas, Axelle Red, José Garcia, Laurent Voulzy, Marc Lavoine, Karl Lagerfeld, Ornella Muti, Grégory Coupet, Emilie Dequenne, Laeticia Hallyday, Hélène Ségara, Mimie Mathy, Virginie Ledoyen et Isabella Rossellini. The programmes run every night on TF1 for fifteen days from today.

The commericals themselves are scheduled to continue showing right through March across Europe, and have already created quite a stir amongst the general public. Crucially, they are getting across the message that this is an important year, a year with many special events, and that it’s all happening “Là où les rêves deviennent réalité” – in Paris.

Thursday, 8th March 2007

Toast the 15th, taste the magic!

In 1992 Euro Disneyland raised eyebrows by being the very first Disneyland to allow alcohol to be served inside its gates, though only at its six/seven table service restaurants. Other Disney parks have since followed, and alcohol can now be ordered with table-service meals at Tokyo DisneySea, Disney’s California Adventure and three of Walt Disney World’s parks.

Now, to honour the 15th Anniversary of the Parisian resort “dans une manière très française”, another daring initiative is being launched, this time as a key merchandise or gift item in the rapidly-growing collection of 15th Anniversary souvenirs. Presented in a beautiful, dark glass bottle with silver seal and white etched logos, the first branded wine from Disneyland Resort Paris comes in a presentation package and displays a lot of “taste” before you’ve even managed to pop the cork.

Following a premiere at the January Cast Member Rendez-Vous event, it will be launched imminently as a red Merlot and a white Sauvignon, available for 15 Euros from both table-service restaurants and boutiques.

An excerpt from the latest Backstage magazine, previewing the wine:

Have a wine time

Wine is synonymous with all sorts of celebrations. And because this year we’re enjoying our biggest birthday bash ever, we’re also launching our first branded wine.

Disneyland Resort Paris’ first ever bottle of branded wine is launched in boutiques and table-service restaurants throughout the Resort from early March. The wine, available as red Merlot and a white Sauvignon, actually premiered Backstage at last January’s Rendez-Vous des Cast Members event.

From the bottle to the contents, every inch of this product is something special. The front of each celebratory bottle is beautifully etched with the 15th Anniversary Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. “We wanted the bottle to be very modern, and a lot like a bottle for olive oil – another great French delicacy,” explains Nathalie Scialom, Food & Beverage Communication Manager.

The responsibity of selecting the wines went to a group of experts that included Bacchus-qualified Food & Beverage Cast Members. The group of wine experts, trained by our Company to understand and speak about wine, met for a tasting sesssion and made their selection.

The wine retails at 15 Euros (in restaurants and boutiques) and comes in a presentation package. It is therefore the ideal gift for any celebration.

– – – – –

If the two varieties of branded wine are a success, who knows where this new merchandise line could go… Pirates of the Caribbean-branded rum?

Monday, 5th March 2007

(Re-) Making an entrance

It has always been a point of both positive and negative that Front Lot is by far the most beautiful of all the Walt Disney Studios Park lands. Fantastic that the second gate gives such a good first impression, a disappointment that the rest of the park doesn’t follow the same level. Of course, there’s a reason beyond the strict budget… movie studios have traditionally always had extravagant, glossy facades at their entrance and administration area, before quickly becoming simple soundstage complexes beyond.

And so, for this latest, large-scale refurbishment, only the best will do! It’s out with the asphalt and in with hundreds, thousands of coloured bricks. The work isn’t due to be fully completed until late May or June, and now we can see why. The flooring will keep a pattern (though not necessarily identical to the original), but the patchy and worn-out asphalt is now high quality bricks similar to those used on the new central esplanade in December 2005.

The new path meets up perfectly with the existing compass design of the esplanade’s hub, and begins with larger bricks around the security check area. Around half of the bricks have currently been laid, with the work breaking in half to allow guest glow before beginning again right at the Studio gates – this time with far smaller and different coloured bricks.

Similar work is expected to begin this week inside the park itself, as the black tarmac of Toon Studio is finally replaced with a lighter colour, reportedly actual paving and large flagstone tiles.

As we’ve been seeing for several weeks, the amount of construction walls throughout the resort is truly at an all time high. Most noticable of all are probably those surrounding the Disneyland Park entrance, Fantasia Gardens. Work here is centering on replacement of lamps, tidying of gardens and the refurbishment and repainting of the several tired gazebos.

The work isn’t necessarily as major as that in front of Walt Disney Studios, but the prominent location and design of the gardens gives it much more of an impact on guests. Luckily, the resort are well on top of their game – almost every construction fence (and that goes for those inside both parks, too) is now sporting a special sign proclaiming “More magic is being prepared for the 15th Anniversary” and to “Join us from 1st April 2007”.

Most (if not all) of the work around Fantasia Gardens is due to be complete by late this month, just in time for the anniversary launch, though it remains to be seen if the iconic Disneyland Hotel and busy esplanade area will get any hint of the anniversary. We’ve seen the number “15” pop up in almost every corner of the resort lately, yet the esplanade is still, for now, left out of the party.

All photos by Photos Magiques. You can see much more here.

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