Monday, 2nd July 2007

Official 2008 15th Anniversary Brochure Preview

If you’re in the UK, the new brochure is available right now. If not, you’ve probably got a little bit longer to wait, so here’s you’re first look at the Autumn/Winter 2007/2008 15th Anniversary Brochure. Before we look inside, why not look back at the first anniversary brochure, so you can spot the change?

And what a change this is. Once again, a new brochure brings another brand new design both inside and out for the official brochure, which has now ditched the minimal, stylish cover used for the past 3 seasons in favour of a much lounder and more attention-grabbing design…

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Front Cover

The recognisable red carpet of classic characters from the advertising campaigns throughout the year has been reworked with a new Autumnal backdrop. There’s no mistake this is a Disneyland brochure — something that was maybe a bit harder to realise with the first 15th brochure and its golden “15” centrepiece.

The general page layout remains similar to the past two brochures – a fold-out first page, price guides within the book and two double-page spreads for each park. However, the actual design has been totally renewed throughout, and is generally more professional, simple and modern yet again, going back to the clean and clear 2006 versions rather than the flashier (and slightly messier, in retrospect) Spring/Summer 2007 edition. The message throughout is that time is running out, the celebration will only last until March 2008.

How better to make that message clear than with the White Rabbit?

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First Page, Closed

Fold the page out, and you’ll find the four birthday gifts they’re proudest of – Kids Under 7 Stay & Play Free, A New Parade, More Characters and — here’s the big one — Four New Attractions. How many of us could have ever imagined to see an advertisement like that in an official Disneyland Resort Paris brochure?

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First Page, Folded Out

This is also the very first introduction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. They’re making no attempt to hide the size and impact of the attraction, the dazzling key visual we revealed one month ago is clearly the biggest on the page. After all, this really is “it” now — the culmination of their huge investment programme, the biggest single new attraction since Space Mountain. They really can’t mess this one up. The logo used is the one we’re all familiar with, but Disneyland Resort Paris have altered it slightly from California with a darker yellow colour and some Photoshop bevel & emboss.

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Contents / Experiences

Into the brochure itself, the Contents page is now as simple and clear as can be. Only six sections are listed, on a red page bordered with gold — a theme then carried through all the introduction pages in the brochure. Opposite, a fantastic photo of the main anniversary characters around a giant “15” symbol. You might have already seen this on those “interactive” billboards in Paris, now also a great way to open the brochure.

The next double page (for the resort’s various “Experiences”) introduces the standard page design of the brochure, quite different to the first 15th Anniversary edition. Lots of “whitespace” and simple, small text bordered by colourful photos. They’re even branching into new territory here with a greater focus on adults and seniors in the photos and a large paragraph titled “Just for grown-ups”, something many fans have suggested for years. You’ll see more additions like this through the rest of the pages…

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Parks Introduction

The parks introduction page again uses the Castle and Earful Tower together, that most favourite of mistakes for fans, but certainly looks much more inviting than the previous edition.

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Disneyland Park

Disneyland Park already unveiled all of its 15th Anniversary events back in April, but they’ve stuck with the illustrations and visuals to advertise them, placing Dreams of Imagination and Dreams of Fantasy on a red carpet. Even Disney Characters’ Express has made its way into a prominent place on the page, listed alongside Candleabration to hint that — since this brochure is valid from now until March — both of these features will indeed continue right through Halloween and Christmas. The second double-page is more standard, still with Buzz Lightyear in the spotlight and all the usual classic attractions.

Walt Disney Studios Park is the real star of this brochure, finally coming across as the kind of qualified second gate that will make guests decide to stay an extra night. Apparently, there’s some new attractions opening at the park, too…

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Walt Disney Studios Park (1)

One page, four new attractions. Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally are still featuring using their same old key visuals and Stitch Encounter (or rather ‘Stitch Interactive Attraction’ for now) is hidden away in there, but the star of this production is undoubtedly The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. A full page is dedicated to its fantastic key visual and reworked logo.

Remember when no-one thought Disneyland Resort Paris would use ‘The Twilight Zone’ aspect of its storyline at all? Well, now that the first piece of advertising is shouting out at us, it looks like they couldn’t be more proud of it. As with Crush and Cars, however, that recognisable brand comes at a price — they’re now required to print “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is inspired by The Twilight Zone, a registered trademark of CBS, Inc.” (CBS being the US television network which originally aired the series) on every page featuring the attraction.

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Walt Disney Studios Park (2)

Another thing they couldn’t be more proud of is the actual theme of Tower of Terror. Whilst Space Mountain: Mission 2 was marketed for its thrill alone, they’re already hyping the unique atmosphere and theming of The Hollywood Tower Hotel. The second key visual included is therefore… a bellhop. This brand new image, never before used for the Florida or California Towers, looks set to become very familiar over the next six months. Despite this renewed interest in good theming versus basic thrills, however, there’s no mention anywhere of either Toon Studio or the Hollywood Boulevard projects, which is a shame considering the effort (and money) put into them.

This second double page excitedly lists almost all the attractions at Walt Disney Studios Park — quite an impressive list these days — and also features a glimpse at the very first (and very understated) advertising for Stitch, an image from Hong Kong. What’s more interesting is the small sentence next to its listing in the attractions guide — “Stitch Interactive Attraction — the chance to interview Stitch live”, confirming that the story of the attraction will be a live interview with Stitch in outer space, and that the television studio theme is definitely staying.

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Seasons & Events

The Seasons & Events page doesn’t have much to reveal this year, as Halloween and Christmas take a backseat for the anniversary. Next to a nice new image of Stitch to advertise Halloween, we learn only that this October will bring “special shows and events” and “special make-up and hair ‘boo’-tiques”. Christmas is equally vague, but the prominent use of a photo featuring the Enchanted Fairytale “Chandeliers” raises the question if they can be used at the same time as Lumiere’s banners, and if indeed they will return this November…

St David’s Welsh Festival and St Patrick’s Day are also confirmed to return in 2008, following huge success earlier this year.

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Disney Village

‘Fun Beyond the Parks’ brings us four double-page spreads showcasing Disney Village, dining, recreation and the Paris region, the introduction page featuring a rather nice new photo of Disney Village itself. The next page, ‘Taste the magic’, features options such as character meals, Half Board, Christmas meals and the restaurant reservations hotline. The new Disney Princes & Princesses meals at Auberge du Cendrillon are given a strong push here.

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Spa, Sports & Relaxation

Following on that trend of more adult-orientated features, a new double-page now lists leisure and recreation across the resort with some modern and fresh photos — one in particular not what guests might expect from Disney. The new ‘Celestia Spa’ at Disneyland Hotel seems to be the focus here.

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Disney Hotels Introduction / Disney Hotels pages sample

The Disney Hotels pages are another big improvement over the previous edition of the official brochure, with a nicer introduction page and massively improved pages for each hotel. The design is now far more modern and fresh, with new photos, better information and more emphasis on the features only available at Disney Hotels, such as Extra Magic Hours. Continuing their new love of good theming, the first large bullet point on the “why stay at a Disney hotel?” page is now… “Disney theming”.

Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch gets its own double-page, before the pages shift suddenly into the slightly dull pages entitled “Other Accommodation” for the partner hotels.

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2008 Resort Map & Official Partners

The 2008 Resort Map will be a bit of a disappointment to perfectionists. Even though they’d finally managed a correct illustration of the esplanade and hub area for the 15 years development plan revealed in February, the map to be used for 2008 is the same as that for 2007, with Tower of Terror simply replacing Reign of Fire.

More interesting, though, are the “official partners” now featured in the corner of this page — the regulars are joined by Ford and Unilever, Nestlé has now completely gone and right in the middle… IBM. They’re still hanging on!

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Special Offers / Price Guide pages sample

The special offers page is also new and improved, the calendar of offers shown via a red carpet wrapping across the top of the page. The usual ‘Kids Free’ offer in the early months of each year is now known by the snappy title of ‘Kids Under 12 Stay, Play & Travel for Free’.

Price guide pages use better photos and are generally simplified yet again. New features include more emphasis on the special benefits at Disney Hotels and the various offers and options available with each booking — “Add Half Board Plus for £16”, for example, similar to the new booking system of the official website.

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Eurostar / Mickey’s Holiday Dinner Show

This being the UK brochure, there’s a lot of extra space devoted to travel and transport, in particular the direct Eurostar which moves to St Pancras International from 14th November and will then enjoy journey times of less than 3 hours from the heart of London to the gates of Disneyland. There’s also photos and details on the new entertainments and privileges introduced to make the direct Eurostar a little more “Disney”, such as a jazz band at London and better activity packs for kids.

Finally, amongst the three double pages of “magical options”, one change stands out — it appears that the Christmas dinner show at Disney’s Newport Bay Club, formerly titled The Magical World of Tinker Bell, will change its name this year to ‘Mickey’s Holiday Dinner Show’. The vague description mentions “music and dance” with “Disney friends”, hinting perhaps that the only change may be the name.

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Back Cover

And there we have it, the second and final Official 15th Anniversary Brochure!

The world outside the gates of Disneyland now knows that Tower of Terror is on its way to Paris in just six months, that ‘Stitch Interactive Attraction’ will bring the new attraction total at Walt Disney Studios to four, and that — quite simply — this is one year at Disneyland nobody should miss.

All images scanned by DLRP Today, brochure © Disney.

Sunday, 1st July 2007

Disney Wish Lounge opens for easier dreams

The ‘Disney Wish Lounge’ concept was first introduced at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom earlier this year, inaugurated on 26th January 2007 during the resort’s annual “What’s New, What’s Next” press conference event and located between the park’s Baby Care Centre and Casey’s Corner.

At Disneyland Resort Paris, the concept remains much the same, with the Disney Wish Lounge of Marne-la-Vallée positioned between Discovery Arcade and Plaza Gardens Restaurant, next to the park’s Baby Care Centre and First Aid services. Whilst the journey back to your hotel in Paris is nowhere near the epic journey that can be found at Walt Disney World, the lounge will be a convenient, warmly welcomed place to rest and relax for thousands of children on the Disney Wish Program, a symbol of the resort’s dedication to their most special of dreamers.

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Arnaud Gayet / Karl L. Holz / Wendy Courquet cuts the ribbon

Like its Orlando counterpart, the lounge’s interior decoration is based on Disney’s Aladdin, including a real magic lamp! Comfortable seating, a large television, refreshments and Guest Services Cast Members are all on hand for visiting guests throughout the day.

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15th Anniversary band plays as ribbons fly / Official inauguration photo

Euro Disney Associés SCA has published several press releases about the lounge and their charity commitments:

Disneyland Resort Paris confirms its commitment to the ‘Disney Wish Program’ with the inauguration of the new ‘Disney Wish Lounge’

Marne-la-Vallée, June 16, 2007 … Accompanied by many guests, Karl L. Holz, Chairman and C.E.O. of Euro Disney S.A.S. inaugurated today the ‘Disney Wish Lounge’. Located in the heart of Disneyland Resort Paris, the ‘Disney Wish Lounge’ is open to children participating in the ‘Disney Wish Program’ and their families, so that they can rest and relax without having to go back to their hotel.

Disney Supports 15 Charitable Organisations in Europe with Surprise Donation of €600,000

Marne-la-Vallée, June 23, 2007 … The Walt Disney Company surprised 15 European charities yesterday with donations totalling €600,000. The gift was presented to charitable organisations that have participated in the Disney Wish Programme from its outset, and make dreams come true for children with life-threatening diseases.

As part of Disneyland Resort Paris’ 15th anniversary celebration, representatives of the 15 organisations will meet with 15 young adults who were granted wishes when they were children.

The 15 associations honoured are:
France: Petits Princes, Rêves, Make-A-Wish France, L’Envol
UK: Make-A-Wish UK, Round Table Children’s Wish Foundation, Christian Lewis Trust
Ireland: Make-A-Wish Ireland
Belgium: Make-A-Wish Belgium Flanders, Make-A-Wish Belgium South
Spain: Ilusiones
Italy: Make-A-Wish Italy
Germany: Herzenswunsche, Kindertraüme
Netherlands: Make-A-Wish Holland

The Disney Wish Programme

Created in 1992, the Wish Programme continues Walt Disney’s tradition of supporting children’s programmes. Every year, Disneyland Resort Paris’ Community Relations department collaborates with 60 charitable organisations to grant wishes to children with life-threatening conditions between the ages of 3 and 18. Since its launch, the programme has made more than 7,000 dreams come true at Disneyland Resort Paris.

Unparalleled storytelling, colourful Disney Characters, unforgettable parades and shows … the world of Disney is built around dreams, which make it their favourite place for many children. One third of children participating in wish programmes have the same dream: to visit Disneyland.

When wishes are granted, children and their families are given star treatment at the park: an all-inclusive stay at a Disney Hotel, free park tickets, VIP access to all attractions, gifts, priviledged meetings with Disney Characters. Children and their families leave with a treasure trove of shared memories of joy and hope.

Inauguration photos by Photos Magiques, with one © Disney.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Animated Publicity

The set of photos released for the opening of Toon Studio is fairly small compared to the set featuring VIPs and celebrities against backdrops within the land, but the quality and amount of locations featured is far better than the frankly quite disappointing publicty photos of the 15th Anniversary launch.

Overall, the resort’s audio-visual teams have captured rather well the quirky style and impressive new attractions of the area… but what do you think?

Here is the full set of publicity photos, be sure to click on them to see the photos full-size!

General Toon Studio

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A new angle on the Sorcerer Mickey marquee captures the Peter Pan characters behind,
an incredibly colourful view of the Toon Town gate area with its twisted lamposts.

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‘Now in Producion’ sign next to Crush’s Coaster

Cars Quatre Roues Rallye

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Welcome to Radiator Springs sign, the famous Cars logo, framed by trees.

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The lovely blues and yellows (with a hint of red) of the Quatre Roues Rallye entrance,
the interior themeing, focusing on the amazing detail of Lizzie’s curios display.

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A sunny angle on Luigi’s Casa Della Tires (notice the fabric canopy was finally added,
just in time), and a low-down view of the canyon area.

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Views in the canyon. Notice the Sorcerer Mickey marquee included in the background,
along with – in the first photo – the Disney Cinema Parade passing by. This looks
like a favourite angle already to capture Cars from, with the iconic Studio 1 looming behind.

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One of the excellent on-ride captures from the special camera seen being installed
on the front of this vehicle here.

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Two brand new publicity shots only just added to the collection today.

Some official video footage of Cars has also been released, via the Disneyland15.com blog:

Crush’s Coaster

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The rusted and sea-sprayed entrance sign, a busy crowd shot showing the Crush area, but
not very many guests who look impressed.

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Two views of the turtle shells departing the big blue of Studio 5 – which one wins?

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The very first official photos from inside the attraction, we’ll probably see these used frequently,
as they show very well the colourful underwater sets and good lighting.

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An “in-production” shot of Crush undergoing final work from above the track, a final shot
positioning Crush against a big blue backdrop of Studio 5.

So, what do you think? A good selection of photographs and footage to advertise Toon Studio, or could they have done better? Whilst this set of official publicity shots has only just been released, we’ll likely be seeing them for years to come, especially as Walt Disney Studios Park continues to grow in visitors…

All photos © Disney.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Under the spell of darkness

Whilst the extended opening hours of the park to 7pm have given guests more time at the Studios, they still don’t go far enough to allow regular visitors to see the park at what almost everyone agrees is its very best – fully illuminated at night. From the flashing neons of CinéMagique‘s grand entrance to the flames of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster‘s entrance and the searchlights of Disney Studio 1, Walt Disney Studios is more than a match for anything at Disneyland Park once darkness falls.

And the new Toon Studio developments? They look just as good…

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Toon Studio entrance / Sorcerer Mickey statue

A hidden detail we’ve never spotted before suddenly comes to life on the wand of Mickey Mouse – the star-shaped tip glows and shimmerings in a blue fibre optic effect. The “marquee” itself is also very subtely and lovingly illuminated, with lights positioned inside the several circular bases shining upwards.

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Sorcerer Mickey marquee / Crush’s Coaster entrance

Notice the purple lighting effects in Animagique in the background, and the rainbow colours of the Flying Carpets Over Agrabah backdrop, appearing to glow from behind when illuminated. The marquee of Crush’s Coaster is illuminated similar to Sorcerer Mickey, with low lighting on the signage itself and a single spotlight on his character figure. Through the lush beach planting behind, notice the well-chosen hanging lamps and even spotlights positioned throughout the sandy planters, illuminating the greenery.

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Colours of the Toon Town gate / Toon Studio from Flying Carpets lookout

Over at the Toon Town gate, the lighting department of Toon Studio have done an equally fantastic job, illuminating all of the multi-coloured buildings and even several parts of the Toon Town hills. Notice that the “Toon Town” lettering is fully illuminated for a very professional effect, and entire forced perspective design of this “street” seems much more convincing. The icing on the Toons’ cake would have been a few lights inside the security booth…

From the newly-reopened viewing platform by Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, the land’s countless lighting touches can be seen glowing in the distance. There aren’t actually any blazing spotlights here at all – just subtle lighting such as the many customised neons of Cars Quatre Roues Rallye – it’s green tower and red glowing logo standing out in particular.

When or if the Studios ever welcomes enough visitors and extra attractions to warrant a late-night opening, the Imagineers have prepared Toon Studio – and the entire park – with more than enough beautiful sights to keep them there until the gates close.

» You can see an excellent video giving a walk around the nighttime illuminated Toon Studio over at our partner site magicblog, along with several extra photographs. Click here.

All photos by Photos Magiques.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Ratatouille characters preview

It’s a rare and special event in the world of Disney parks, when a brand new pair of characters joins the meet ‘n’ greet schedule for the release of a new Walt Disney animated feature. The last time we saw such an event was way back in late 2005 with the release of Disney’s own Chicken Little. All cogs in the great synergy and marketing machine of The Walt Disney Company, for sure, but nobody is going to turn down the chance to meet a new Disney star, especially a Pixar creation – even when they’re rats!

First, meet Rémy. He’s the star of Ratatouille, the budding chef who isn’t content with eating garbage like his sewer system family. He has dreams and aspirations… and, after being caught by a untalented kitchen hand Linguini, cooking up a soup which goes on to be served to a delighted food critic, he must share his knowledge to create the greatest chef in all of Paris – without anyone even knowing of his work.

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Rémy / Emile in their Pixar CG designs

The second character to be taken from CGI to reality is Emile, Rémy’s best friend and familiar from the film’s teaser trailers as the tubby brown rat who doesn’t particularly care what he eats, so long as it fills him up. No doubt when the film is released (initial US release due 29th June), we’ll find out even more about these two new furry faces.

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Rémy & Emile debut at the inauguration ceremony / Fun and games at the Toon Town gate

Since opening in 2002, all of the new Disney characters have immediately arrived in Walt Disney Studios Park, from Monsters Inc and Treasure Planet to Narnia and Chicken Little. Rémy and Emile were given their first step into the spotlight during the inauguration ceremony earlier during the press event, before arriving on-stage at the Toon Town gate later, and fighting between themselves for the waiting cameras.

The plaza around the Toon Town gate of course features two dedicated photo locations for character meets, but guests attending the press event who’d already visited the park would have been surprised to see two brand new backdrops installed just for this event. Mickey’s Toon Town House, on the right of the gate, was replaced by a Toon Studio production stage setting, whilst especially for the arrival of Rémy and Emile, The Incredibles’ rather plain logo backdrop was replaced with a stunning view over Pixar’s glowing CGI recreation of Paris.

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Emile poses in front of Pixar’s grand Paris backdrop / Up-close with Rémy, in perfect rat pose

The following day, however, guests would need to jump on the RER for 40 minutes to experience a view like this. Both backdrops had been reverted to their original designs, with no sight of Rémy or Emile making appearances, despite the heavy Ratatouille advertising introduced around the park. If you like the look of this rodent pair, however, don’t be too worried – the film isn’t due out in France for over a month, so it’s likely Rémy and Emile will be fully introduced at the next meet ‘n’ greet schedule shake-up in a couple of weeks.

The quick change of the photo location backdrops is also exciting to see for regular guests, showing that these two locations will now become frequently updated as each new Disney film hits cinemas. Perhaps, if Walt Disney Studios ever joins its neighbour in full seasonal events, we’ll see even more special backdrops created in the future.

Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille is due for release on 1st August 2007 in France, the Netherlands and Belgium, 2nd August 2007 in Austria and 3rd August 2007 in Spain. Then, later in the year, 3rd October 2007 in Germany, 5th October 2007 in the UK and 19th October 2007 in Italy. This creates quite a spread of dates across the key markets of Disneyland Resort Paris – one which is mirrored almost in reverse by Disney’s recent CG hit ‘Meet the Robinsons’.

Already released in March to the UK and most European markets, the film won’t reach the Netherlands until 10th October 2007 and France and Belgium until as late as 17th October 2007. Three characters from this film – Lewis, Wilbur and Bowler Hat Guy are due to begin appearances at Walt Disney Studios Park in the Autumn, following a preview during the press conference of 1st April 2007. Luckily, this will then tie into the DVD release in the earlier markets.

All photos by Photos Magiques; Ratatouille character visuals © Disney-Pixar.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Evening entertainment, ‘famous’ faces

Ok, ok, in France they’re probably well-known, but this happens with every single press event at Disneyland Resort Paris. A new show premieres, a new season begins, a new attraction opens… and we’re treated to a huge gallery of publicity photos featuring countless vague ‘celebrities’ from across l’hexagone. Whether we know who they are or not, though, the photos from the Toon Studio Press Event of 16th June are actually some of the better VIP shots of recent years, especially compared to the dark and unexciting red carpet photoshoot of the 15th Anniversary launch.

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‘Unknown’ VIP guests enter Toon Studio

With a great backdrop of the temporary entrance gate, the Sorcerer Mickey marquee, a newly repainted Animagique and many smiling Cast Members, the stars entered Toon Studio via the long red carpet, which first led across a closer podium before that underneath the gate, giving a good depth to the shots. And although ‘unknown’ outside of France, the guests all appear to be well into the Disney spirit.

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More ‘unknown’ VIP guests enter Toon Studio

There are many more photos than those featured here, but all in the same style with the same backdrops and locations. Several photos made available to the press feature some VIP guests you might actually recognise the names of…

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Zinedine Zidane at Crush / with wife at Cars Race Rally

Surely everyone in Europe knows Zinedine Zidane, the famous footballer, now retired?

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Stade Français Rugby Team / Ricky Martin

You might even remember singer Ricky Martin… Or be familiar with the Stade Français rugby team, seen here lined up outside Crush’s Coaster with a trophy shield (hopefully this won’t become a popular accessory for DLRP visitors). These photos in particular, as you might notice, aren’t from the Press Event night at all – they were taken over the three weeks leading up to the event itself, and now bundled together with all the others for the launch.

In the end, we all know who the real stars are. Walt Disney is always quoted as saying they’re the “greatest asset we have” and to just “get them out there!”, and that’s exactly what they did during the entire evening of events at Toon Studio. Afterall, seeing a footballer or talent show star at Disneyland won’t make guests want to visit as much as the chance to meet one of these real, timeless famous faces will…

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Mary Poppins / real-life Mike Wazowski

The entertainment department catered for all tastes on the evening, from the not-strictly-Toon Mary Poppins (with Bert and ok-this-one’s-a-toon Penguin waiter) to a full-size, walking, real-life Mike Wazowski! Not since the release of Monsters Inc. around the opening of the park in 2002 has Mike been seen wandering the studio lots, but he made a special return for this event. Notice also that his life-size figure usually found at the Monsters Inc Scream Scene location was removed in preparation.

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From movie director to chef – Mickey Mouse can do it all!

Catering for all tastes, did we say? Well, if you didn’t like the Director Mickey of the inauguration ceremony, you could wait around a little and see him re-appear later as Chef Mickey! Director Mickey is also a very rare sight at the Studios. Despite being seen on many publicity photos for the park around 2002, Mickey usually decides to wear his more casual and brightly coloured movie star gear for photoshoots. Chef Mickey, on the other hand, is a recent introduction to character meet ‘n’ greets at Café Mickey in Disney Village.

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Chef Minnie / Chef Chip n Dale

Each of the Fab 5 received special chefs outfits for their appearances at the character dining restaurant, and with the launch of Ratatouille tying into the Toon Studio event, this was their way of welcoming the gourmet rats to the character family.

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Buzz Lightyear / Jafar

Aladdin, Jasmine and Jafar provided atmosphere around the new Flying Carpets oasis area, which now has its colourful lanterns illuminated each day after months of darkness. Events themed to the attractions on offer were particularly well thought-out at this event. With such a mix of themes and styles in one small area, it must have produced one hell of a brainstorm ideas session for the planning teams…

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The Radiator Springs Band

For Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, guests could enjoy the music of an authentic American country rock band, performing a variety of road hits and songs from the film itself as ‘The Radiator Springs Band’ in front of Willy’s Butte and Flo’s V8 Café. Notice also the attention to detail around the stage, including several extra props relating to the film and Route 66.

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Australian characters / Clownfish carpet

Crush’s Coaster was equally well served with themed entertainment and ideas. The EPC (entertainment department) created a couple of brand new “Australian” characters for the event, an outback explorer complete with cork hat and a beach surfer dude, complete with sunglasses and flip-flops. What’s that they’re standing on? It’s a Clownfish Carpet of course, a unique Nemo-themed spin on the classic red carpet, leading into the attraction!

The themed ideas continued on to the food, whilst the VIPs were treated to a special meal inside Studio 1’s Liki Tiki area, Animagique became a covered seating and buffet area for a more fun and informal double food option. For Cars, an authentic Texas barbeque along Route 66. For Crush’s Coaster… you’ve guessed it, a seafood barbecue. Didn’t they hear fish are friends, not food?

Photos both by Photos Magiques and © Disney.

Wednesday, 20th June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Inauguration Ceremony

As with all attraction openings, there are two press events. The smaller, low-key public opening ceremony (already featured here) and the far grander, more show-y official inauguration ceremony reserved for press and invited guests. The last ceremony we saw like this at Walt Disney Studios, though, was…. well, 2002 perhaps?

The tendancy of the past five years to push Walt Disney Studios aside in favour of Disneyland Park has well and truly ended. There’s a lot of proud people within those Studio gates these days…

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Guests enter via the open studio gates, a very rare sight!

Entering the second gate through its unique grand arch, guests were welcomed by the Ciné Classics band, as seen on regular occasions inside Disney Studio 1 and more recently even as a pre-show for CinéMagique. Notice that the 15th Anniversary banners from Disneyland Park’s entrance have now made their way to the Studios, as it finally joins the celebrations.

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Ciné Classics band entertain on Front Lot before High School Musical begins.

Following this musical welcome, a special performance of High School Musical On Tour was presented just outside the entrance of Disney Studio 1 (more on this here), as this new summer show was a key additional feature in all of the resort’s communication and press material for the event, along with Ratatouille.

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Red carpet leads through Disney Studio 1.

The red carpet began in Disney Studio 1, leading right up toward the exit doors and to the entrance of Toon Studio, where Disney fans amongst the invited guests were met with an exciting photo opportunity…

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5 Years on, Director Mickey finally gets behind a camera.

To the side of the temporary Toon Studio gate installed several days ago, Mickey Mouse sat high on a crane camera with a live director, and even moved from side to side as he “filmed” the action of the grand opening event for his new animation studio. The image of Mickey atop this camera crane might be familiar to anyone who followed the Studios’ grand opening, since a similar photo from Disney-MGM Studios Florida was frequently used as one of those deceptive preview shots – it only took five years for the real moment to arrive!

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Ciné Folies stars help to prepare the set.

If you take a look at the video featured later in this article, you’ll probably notice something a little different about Mickey’s voice. No, not that he’s speaking French (the first time in a while – all the 15th events unveiled in April feature an All-American Mickey), but that his voice was apparently performed live! Since he called the make-up artist, special effects crew to the stage and joined the ceremony at various other points from his elevated spot, letting Mickey pre-record his track and sync this with live events might have been a bit risky.

With Mickey behind the camera, we need someone else to step in and fill the role of glamorous host – who better than Minnie Mouse? She donned her glamorous white dress from the 2002 grand opening and waited on-stage for her cue as directors, technicians and make-up crew bustled around the “set”. You might recognise the actors in question from the daily Ciné Folies shows in Disney Studio 1 – some have been with the park for almost its entire five years, so it’s nice to see these talented performers rewarded with a cameo here.

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Pixar stars and a huge gathering of Cast Members pour out of the land.

As it is for these “performers” too! Usually Cast Members are relegated to regular operations during a grand opening event – keeping guests to one side, making sure the attraction is ready to open – but here the entire cast of Toon Studio was invited to join the precedings and clap their clapperboards for applause. The arrival of the several hundred Cast and countless famous Disney characters to the “Dreams” Peter Pan theme music was perhaps a little reminiscent of the Disneyland 50th Anniversary launch, starting out with only a few stars on stage before a huge crowd poured out of the land’s attractions.

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It’s Disney legends on one side…

You might notice something funny about the way those characters lined up either side of the red carpet… classic Disney stars on one side and new Pixar pals on the other, like a great face-off between the two animation teams! This was also the very first appearance of the Ratatouille main characters Rémy (grey) and Emile (brown) in Paris, arriving just days after their premiere at the US parks.

Notice also the stars on the temporary gate, with ‘Toon Studio’ written inside, which are very similar to the first ‘Toon Studios’ logo we saw way back in September 2005 at the special Videopolis fan event.

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…Pixar pals on the other!

Press photographers were situated on the tiered viewing platform for the ceremony, whilst the invited guests filled Disney Bros. Plaza and could watch the action on the large video screen installed the day earlier. With the smaller spaces of Walt Disney Studios and the Hollywood Boulevard construction taking up much of this area, they still managed to devise a layout that would ensure a picture-perfect view of the action. After all, these events are entirely for the cameras – not least when they’re at a film Studio!

The ceremonies are about to begin…

Tuesday, 19th June 2007

High School Musical On Tour arrives at the Studios

Originally confirmed by WDSFans.com back in January, the new streetmosphere show does indeed replace Starring Cruella De Vil and feature a unique travelling stage, replicating almost entirely the ‘High School Musical Pep Rally’ shows of Disney-MGM Studios and Disney’s California Adventure, as expected. Following a rehearsal day on Friday and five regular performances throughout the day on Saturday, the cast returned for a special inaugral launch presentation that evening, kicking off the Toon Studio Press Event as invited guests stepped onto Front Lot.

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The show uses an almost identical format to the successful US versions, featuring a cast of athletic basketball players and cheerleaders joined by five regular students in various different clothing styles. Whilst the cheerleaders provide dance and the Wildcats a unique variety of “sports choreography” with their basketballs, the students provide additional live vocals to a pre-recorded backing track. Rather than a ‘Pep Rally’ of support for the Wildcats team, however, the story in the Paris ‘On Tour’ version of the show is that the students of East High have travelled to France for a summer vacation of special musical performances.

Guest interaction is a key part of the performance, allowing guests to join the basketball games and dance routines. Surprisingly, for the normally quite reserved DLRP audience, the interaction has proved a success and flows far less awkwardly than most other shows (such as Starring Cruella De Vil) – Disneyland Resort Paris clearly made a good choice with the popular High School Musical franchise.

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Whilst the press were given a unique preview of the show on Front Lot (the first time a streetmosphere show has ever been performed here), the regular shows begin in Backlot – bringing regular streetmosphere back to this production zone for the first time since Rythmo Technico departed for Place des Stars in 2003. But, as the show comes to a conclusion with streamers (an item DLRP appear to have bought a lifetime’s supply of this year), guests will be surprised that the production then heads right towards them, travelling down Rue Georges Méliès past Armageddon for a second 11-minute performance in front of Tower of Terror, the previous performance space of Cruella.

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This unique 22-minute mix of two 11-minute shows is a first for Disneyland Resort Paris, but already it’s clear through guest reaction that the show can support a double performance – many guests follow the production and watch for an “encore” showing, whilst others can hope to get a better view of the action for its second performance. The “join” between the two shows is seamless, with the cast marching along the road to a continuing soundtrack of High School Musical themes.

Whether you’re a High School Musical fan or not, their “summer vacation” in Paris looks set to be a shining success. With Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye only just opened and returning favourites Lilo & Stitch Catch the Wave Party and Good Morning Walt Disney Studios adding even more to see, the Studios looks set to have a record Summer season.

» You can see a full gallery of ‘High School Musical On Tour’ photos here.

All photos by Photos Magiques.

Monday, 18th June 2007

Toon Studio: Ratatouille arrives, Press Event preparations

The first “buzz” of anticipation comes at the Place des Freres Lumieres on Front Lot, with the park’s attraction posters on either side of Disney Studio 1 now replaced complete by giant posters advertising this year’s original comedy from Pixar Animation Studios, Ratatouille. Following the Chicken Little and Cars “billboards” which have adorned the front wall of Disney Studio 1 upon their films’ release, this marks the third time Buena Vista International (Disney’s film distribution) have taken over Disney Studio 1 with advertising for an upcoming film.

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Rémy and Emile star in the posters for Pixar’s Ratatouille.

The Cars billboard in question is still very much in place, now likely seen by guests as a huge advertisement for Cars Race Rally rather than the year-old film itself. Not content with only space for two modest rotating posters, then, Buena Vista have now taken to the back wall of the soundstage, slotting a slightly more pleasant banner than the Cars billboard into the area above its entrance doors. Posters on the Toon Studio wall of Disney Studio 1, previously featuring The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, have now also been changed to Ratatouille, completing the wrap-around.

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Advertising now takes over the rear wall.

The film isn’t due for release in France until 1st August 2007, and as for the new faces of Rémy and Emile themselves, they didn’t appear until the press event itself began, after park closure. As guests enjoyed the park one week on from the opening of its first new attractions, preparations for the evening’s grand opening events couldn’t be missed:

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A huge temporary entrance gate for Toon Studio was constructed several days earlier beside the Sorcerer Mickey marquee, with a blue viewing platform directly opposite beside the Hollywood Boulevard construction walls, providing a picture-perfect view through the archway to Sorcerer Mickey and the land beyond. To the left of this platform – considerably smaller than that used for the 15th Anniversary launch – a large video screen was prepared for the event, showing 15th Anniversary and Tower of Terror trailers during the normal park hours.

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Next to the canyon of Cars Race Rally, lighting rigs and signage was in place ready for one of the evening’s star entertainment attractions – The Radiator Springs Band, an authentic American rock band who would later perform road classics and motoring hits from the film itself. Over at the attraction, filming equipment was fitted to the front of one red vehicle, allowing the resort’s own Audio-Visual teams to capture photos and video of guests and VIPs enjoying the attraction later.

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Toon Studio itself closed at 4pm to allow final preparations for the event to get well underway. This closure was announced every half hour across the park, whilst the closure of Disney Studio 1 at 5pm was noted on special signs at its entrance.

With “only” 700 invited press and VIPs for the Toon Studio Press Event, it was classed by Disneyland Resort Paris as only a “minor” launch, especially compared to the huge 1700-strong crowd invited to the main 15th Anniversary launch back at the end of March. With such a commitment to the event, however, and some truly fun and entertaining ideas (as we’ll see in following articles), this “minor” event gives great hope for what we might expect of a “major” attraction launch, such as a certain Tower in just over six months…

All photos by Photos Magiques.

Sunday, 17th June 2007

Toon Studio: Opening day

For some of the guests at the official opening, there might have been a sense of déjà vu about the whole event – just one week earlier, they’d rushed into the park to be amongst the first to preview Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally as Annual Passholders. The events were a big success, as shown by the long queues to enter the area (below), despite a Fastpass-style timeslot system being implimented to give each passholder a 2-hour slot in which to preview the rides.

Despite the queues, some technical problems at Crush late in the day and general overcrowding for refreshments at Salon Mickey and the mezzanine of Disney Studio 1, the Toon Studio Preview Event was a big success for all.

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(2nd June) Long queues for Annual Passholder previews.

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(2nd June) Imagineer Beth Clapperton interviewed for Disneyland15.com blog.

The same weekend also saw the first low-key invasion of the press, albeit Disney’s own. The Photos Magiques camera spotted Beth Clapperton, Imagineer for Crush’s Coaster and already seen in many behind-the-scenes glimpses at the attraction, giving an interview in front of the attraction itself. Look out for this on the official Disneyland15.com blog at some point.

One week later, with previews complete and everything finally neat and pretty, it was time for the grand opening. The general smaller scale of Walt Disney Studios might have given a slightly quieter impression than the anniversary launch events of April, just two months ago, but the crowds were just as eager. To a mix of music ranging from Disney’s animated movie scores to the Peter Pan “flying” theme and “Just Like We Dreamed It”, the ceremony commenced as Arnauld Gayet, one of the two 2007 Disneyland Resort Paris Ambassadors, climed onto a small podium next to the Sorcerer Mickey marquee.

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(9th June) Toon Studio grand opening ceremony.

With an impressive mix of French and English, Arnaud welcomed guests and introduced the special event, as the first Toon characters began to arrive behind him via the cadillacs of Good Morning Walt Disney Studios. Wendy Courquet, the second 2007 Ambassador, soon joined Arnaud from the empty Toon Studio behind, raving and exclaiming about each of the five attractions in the “new” land as Arnauld introduced them. Interestingly, despite the massive campaign on the esplanade, the ceremony served to inaugurate Toon Studio as en entire land, rather than to give special attention to its two brand new attractions.

With the introductions complete, several more characters welcomed (including The Incredibles) and the crowd appearing a little impatient, the guest of honour arrived to open his brand new studio – Mickey Mouse! It’s lucky that Hollywood glamour appears to never go out of style, since the dazzling white outfits worn by Mickey and Minnie might be recognised from the grand opening of the park itself, back in 2002. Mickey joined Wendy to cut the double ribbon of blue and gold, as Arnauld officially declared the new Toon Studio… “open!” with guests rushing to their chosen attraction.

The opening hasn’t been covered quite as heavily online as the huge 15th Anniversary opening events, but fans can always be relied on for capturing the magic as it happens. The following video is by Concombre2k7 on Dailymotion – ignore the apology for “poor quality”, this is just like being there:

Wait times for Crush and Cars remained impressive the entire day, with Cars Quatre Roues Rallye resting at around 50 minutes and Crush’s Coaster enjoying an everage queue of 1 hour 30 minutes, despite Cast Members warning guests the wait would be 3 hours from its entrance.

Across the park, attractions such as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Studio Tram Tour apparently rarely had wait times above 15 minutes. Kinoo on our partner website magicforum reported that total attendance at the Studios was 14,000 for the day, with around 5,000 guests heading straight towards the new attractions upon opening.

With a simple “tea cups” like Cars (albeit a brand new one) gaining a 50 minute wait that guests were reportedly quite happy to endure, the fall-out from Toon Studio will, it appears, be to now try and coax guests out of this immediately popular area and to the rest of the park.

Photos by Photos Magiques (2/06/2007) and Aaronline.nl (9/06/2007); Video by Concombre2k7.
With thanks to the opening reports from members on Disney Central Plaza and magicforum.

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