Phew. Last March, when DLRP Today was invited by Disneyland Paris to preview the year-long programme of refurbishments planned ahead of the 20th Anniversary, this much-anticipated year seemed so far away. Now, after twelve months of constant, unrelenting work and investment across the entire resort, it’s almost ready for its close-up again. The final projects are wrapping, construction walls coming down and everything being made “neat ‘n’ pretty” for the year ahead. So for one final hurrah, let’s round up these final pre-20th refurbishments with help from @InsideDLParis… Read More…
It’s going to be easy to forget soon with the premiere of Disney Dreams! but, until this year, Disneyland Paris has never had a true nighttime spectacular. Fireworks from the original Fantasia in the Sky to the later Enchanted Fireworks have always been a feature, but Disneyland Park has never seen a nightly, year-round evening show to finish the day. It’s a big step-change for the daily operation of the park and even the landscape is reflecting that.
On the left side of Central Plaza, the new control centre building arrived with a big change the previously wooded landscape near Frontierland, opening up more vistas. Now, on the other side of the plaza, a final adjustment has seen the pathway widened near Plaza Gardens Restaurant, creating more space for guests to hop around the crowds on the hub, or leave the park swiftly after the show.
One final change which may not be so popular, however, is the conversion of several gas lamps along this pathway to electric. Though this kind of “progress” in Main Street, U.S.A. is never welcomed, the installation of electric light bulbs is probably a necessary change to ensure the path is well-lit before and after the show, allowing the rush of guests to arrive and leave safely. Besides, the side street nearest this spot, leading to Discoveryland, just happens to be fittingly titled “Edison Avenue”…
Ever since we stepped off the near-complete, beautifully restored Molly Brownexactly a year ago and the Mark Twain pulled up in her place to continue regular service, this grand old riverboat has sadly looked more than a little worse for wear by comparison. Need for restoration isn’t quite so drastic, though, that his chimney stacks fell off, of course — the Mark Twain is merely preparing himself to bed down inside Frontierland’s new, covered drydock which we reported last week.
Mark Twain’s refurbishment is due to be just as thorough — and lengthy — as Molly Brown’s epic year-long rebuild. Damage and decay to the boat, though nowhere near as bad as his sister ship endured, is clear in the photo above. Though the ship, a reproduction of the original Mark Twain Riverboat at Disneyland in California, has seen numerous refurbishments over its lifespan, this will be the first full-scale restoration in its 20 year life so far.
On Central Plaza itself, benches have returned to the middle of the plaza for the first time in almost six years, making it once again the perfect place for meeting and people watching. Meanwhile, two lampposts on the castle side are now curiously absent, their bases covered by green boxes.
They’re not the only things missing from this view: tree clearance over by the Fantasyland Gate (far-right of the photo) has uncovered the walled kingdom in the distance, while at least two cuboid trees have been completely removed from the right-hand side of the castle. Both changes could either be in preparation for Disney Dreams!, or just part of the habitual “resetting the clock” which Disney does; replanting or removing trees which have grown too big for the fixed scale of the park.
Looking back towards Main Street, U.S.A., the new “Parks Landscaping Department” show control building for Disney Dreams! blends seamlessly into the town. The old show control kiosk, on the left of the plaza, remains in place for now. As for the plaza, the improvement speaks for itself.
Sorry to spoil any illusions you may have bought into at Les Mystères du Nautilus but, as every visitor to Discoveryland can clearly see at the moment, Disneyland Park only really has half of this famous submarine within its Discoveryland Lagoon. That’s perhaps a lucky thing for the project team who have just embarked on a last-minute refurbishment of Captain Nemo’s vessel and its surrounding lagoon, the final major restoration project before the launch of the 20th Anniversary. With the water drained, they’ve only the jagged spine of the submarine to repaint in fresh metallic tones — but even that is impressive enough when you see the unusual sight of a person standing right next to it.
These latest photos from DisneyGazette.fr show how guests are being treated to a full view of the hard work that goes into maintaining the “magic”. A temporary staircase, allowing workers to climb over the railings and down into the lagoon, has been hidden behind hoardings but the rest of the area remains completely open. As well as the Nautilus itself, the stone walls of the lagoon are being repainted to return them to their intended rusty glow. The walkthrough itself remains open throughout — just to further spoil the magic, did you know that it’s actually located in a building on the other side of the path, behind Autopia?
Poor Old Joe: so engrossed there on his ramshackle pier, waiting for the catch of the day, that he’s failed to notice the towering extension put up by his Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing neighbours next door. In preparation for a sorely-needed complete rebuild of the Mark Twain, following that enjoyed by companion on the rivers Molly Brown last year, the entire drydock at the back of the Rivers of the Far West is in the process of being enclosed in a temporary hangar-like structure.
Apparently being built by the firm De Boer, specialist in such constructions, the enclosure is being covered by a themed scrim created by a graphic designer working for Disney. With fake timber walls and large loading bay doors, this “trompe-l’œil” boathouse deceives the eye as a wharf for cargo loading. Details in the design, though hard to see clearly from the opposite riverbank, include “Deliveries” written across the false door and a surprisingly detailed “Notice” of some kind. The large number “2” above the door is reminiscent of the engine shed for Big Thunder Mountain nearby.
By comparison, the year-long Molly Brown refurbishment saw the far from ideal situation that the boat was fully stripped down and rebuilt in full view of passing guests, with only a scant covering of scaffolding and tarpaulin for cover. It’s also possible that, by shrouding the entire drydock with a roof, refurbishment work could be carried out in all weather, with fewer delays.
Both boats are still parked up here at the back of the river, out of service, but Molly Brown will return to operation from 24th March when the attraction finally re-opens, having been closed for the whole of 2012 thus far. Besides the work ongoing here, the deck of the riverboat landing itself has been completely rebuilt with fresh wood. Once allowed back on-board for a cruise around the waters, we’ll be able to get a closer look at the detail of the new wharf.
Reports from those close to the project suggest that the “hangar” will stay in place for at least two years, so Old Joe had better get used to his temporary — but not so temporary — new neighbour.
What’s that we spy on the horizon?! It’s the wraps finally coming down on the epic restoration of Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship in Adventureland! This landmark of Adventure Isle has been hidden behind a themed scrim and a mass of scaffolding for 10 months of solid work, seeing the ship stripped right back to its shell and rebuilt with fresh materials — and colours. One of the biggest projects announced at the special 20th Anniversary Refurbishments event we attended back in March 2011, the refurbishment faced several delays but now looks set to be ready for the big anniversary date as @InsideDLParis shares these photos of the scaffolding beginning to be taken down today.
In the process of its restoration, Imagineers at Walt Disney Imagineering Paris have given the ship a whole new colour scheme. Just like Sleeping Beauty Castle it takes the attraction back, closer to its original 1992 look, but comes with enough fresh touches and design choices to stand separately. A previous refurbishment of the ship had taken away some of the “fantasy” look of this Peter Pan legend, giving it a rather dreary appearance with darker exposed wood and black suddenly outweighing the brighter red. The ship no longer offered such a powerful bridge between Adventureland and the colourful, nearby Fantasyland that its more whimsical original colours provided.
Thankfully, Captain Hook’s new look takes the ship right back to those fantasy roots, and then some. The balance has shifted back to a crisp, bright red with black taking a smaller role. The skull and crossbones at the back of the ship has again been picked out in a crisp ivory white and the entire stern repainted in a vibrant red, contrasting beautifully with the luscious green palms of the tropical island.
White masts were an interesting feature of the 1992 scheme that haven’t been recreated, with the Imagineers opting instead for a dark brown that no doubt fares better in Marne-la-Vallée’s not-so-tropical climate. Instead, the big pièce de résistance of this restoration is, naturally, the gold. Peggie Fariss, head of WDI Paris, explained at last year’s presentation that they really wanted to emphasise the generous riches plundered by these pirates during their travels.
Captain Hook may be blundering, but he has certainly had his fair share of treasure bounties while sailing the seas, and that wealth should be expressed much more vividly in the ship itself. And so, rather than the plain, light exposed wood of the 1992 scheme, the 2012 version comes with a shimmering, golden finish to its edges and sides. Even the mermaid figurehead has turned gold!
This Pirate Ship is an important landmark not just in our Adventureland but in the history of Disney parks. In 1955, Walt Disney opened Disneyland with the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship based on Peter Pan, but this popular icon was removed in 1982 to make way for an expansion of Fantasyland. Spotting their perfect opportunity with a new park, Adventureland show producer Chris Tietz and the other Imagineers of Euro Disneyland recreated the almost-forgotten ship for Paris, ten years later, and it remains the only life-size Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship in any Disney park in the world.
After this momentary blip, may it remain sea-worthy and splendid for ever more.
Now, walk the plank and see how the ship looked before restoration… (not for the faint of heart!)Read More…
With attractions such as Autopia and Captain EO recently closed midweek in low season, a lengthy closure for Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing this winter might have looked like more cost saving — or we should say, “demand-based” operation. In fact, it’s a renovation of the landing pier itself to cause for these two months of downtime (confirmed so far) from 1st January to 29th February. The exposed wooden deck has been completely taken up, likely to be replaced with fresh materials as has happened to wooden elements across the park, following some years of neglect.
After the complete rebuild of the Molly Brown last year, this famous riverboat landing will look fresher still — perhaps time to refocus efforts on the river itself? Even the most beautiful boat can’t distract from broken geysers or those poorly-hidden escape rafts moored at the back of the river.
Despite the 2011 refurbishments programme being announced almost a year ago, Disneyland Paris continues to work harder than ever before on the renewal and restoration of its original attractions. A quick look at the Closures & Refurbishments schedule shows a packed list ranging from Moteurs… Action! and RC Racer to Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Mountain, all scheduled over the next three months. Some visitors have parodied the resort’s current booking promotions by branding it “Three Irresistible Months… of closures”. Nevertheless it will be safe to say that, by the time the 20th Anniversary rolls around, barely a single corner of the parks will have been left untouched in the past year. A grand new beginning for the grandest Magic Kingdom of them all.
If 2011 was the year Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant regained its glory, 2012 might be the year La Tanière du Dragon regains its growl. The almost 20-year old dragon beneath Sleeping Beauty Castle, still a show-stopping exclusive of Disneyland Paris, recently awoke from a lengthy two month refurbishment in its snarliest mood since 1992. Not only has the lighting in the castle’s dungeon been renewed to cast a scene as dramatic as ever, the movements of the huge Audio-Animatronic itself have been noticeably “tightened up”. Now the dragon lifts its neck and growls with a renewed conviction; a tighter, snappier, more powerful series of movements that give a new realism to the dozing beast, which many say they haven’t seen looking this good since opening day. Our Photos Magiques friends braved the lair last week to update to capture some stunning new pictures and video.
Meanwhile, over on magicforum, DGRavenswood shares a lesser-known but apparently official version of the dragon’s backstory. This isn’t Maleficent, as so many deduce, but a dragon found in an egg by Merlin one morning and restrained here below his magic shop for safekeeping.
We almost thought we wouldn’t get to climb up into the branches of the Swiss Family Treehouse again this year. But the closure of La Cabane des Robinson, which had been ongoing for months, since the first half of 2011, has now finally come to an end with a successful re-opening this weekend. As the picture above by @InsideDLParis shows, this classic walkthrough can still be quite the guest magnet, especially on a busy peak season Sunday when all the major rides have unforgiving queues.
Despite being closed for the majority of the year, refurbishment work only visibly began on the treehouse as late as October or November. In that time, vast amounts of the wooden stairways and banisters which wrap around the tree have been replaced with fresh materials. The water wheel irrigation system would appear to remain out-of-action, and the attraction could still dearly do with some additional, closer love and care in the new year to bring it fully up to “opening day” grade, now that the basics have been sorted. But hurrah, at last, for the return of the Swiss Family Robinson!
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