Monday, 12th September 2011

A right royal beauty: Concept art for Fantasyland’s new Princess Pavilion released!

Princess Pavilion planning concept

Concept art released? Forgive the error — more like rooted out, scavenged. We tweeted the official @DisneylandParis just after exterior construction began on the Princess Pavilion to say how good it would be to see the concept art for this new meet ‘n’ greet attraction released, to actually promote a nice addition to the park. After all, it’s hardly a strong time for tangible new attractions at the resort. So where does this new concept art come from? The Chessy town planning office, via the royalty of the online fan community Disney Central Plaza, of course! So much for slick corporate marketing.

But here it is: a real look at exactly what to expect from the Princesses’ new rural abode. Being a planning document, the first concept above is intended more to show how the development fits into the existing Fantasyland landscape. The whimsically-curved roof, pink walls and tower are all exactly as we’re seeing them go up in reality, while the two existing archways of the former “it’s a small world” exit pathways are shown with heavy wooden doors like those elsewhere in the land. A warm yellow glow beckons us inside and the golden signage atop the roof reads, simply and sharply, “Princess Pavilion”.

Princess Pavilion layout concept

Above, the new interior layout of the space, as we tried to explain in a previous update. Now with a proper visual aid, you can see how the former ramp around the perimeter of the building (in green) now acts as a curved queue line, up towards the two Princess meeting places (in red) in the raised and enclosed centre of the building. The exit then leads via the red arrows, with a photo sales point on your right. Notice that the archway on the right, which used to be a quick exit route from “it’s a small world” bypassing the post-show area, will become dead space.

It’s the detail, though, that begins to set this apart from what you might expect of a simple meet ‘n’ greet. Those eight spaces dotted around the queue line’s perimeter? Those will be ornate stone arches, each dedicated to a different princess with a stained glass-effect view of the heroine’s castle and a memento of her plight — a glass slipper for Cinderella, a red rose for Belle.

Not any old slipper or rose — these pieces, displayed under glass cloches, will be fashioned in crystal and illuminated by fibre optics. Snow White, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Ariel, Tiana and Jasmine will all have their own arch, with Mulan and Rapunzel said to be vying for the eighth (we’re backing Rapunzel).

When we walked through this passageway back in March, all we saw were breeze blocks. The final finish will give the impression of intricately carved stone columns and bricks, dressed with luxurious embroidered curtains and textiles. With a capacity of 308 people, the inside queue will even have its own specially-created background music loop.

Princess Pavilion concept art Princess Pavilion concept art

Reaching the two meeting places, guests will have a choice of which princess to visit. Two grand balcony windows will be dressed with more embroidered curtains and decorative stonework, each featuring a backdrop based on the princess in residence. Above, we see concepts for Aurora, with a rolling green landscape looking back towards the castle (a neat touch, since we’re meant to be in the countryside here, away from the Château), and Tiana, surrounded by a nighttime bayou scene. During times of low attendance, only one princess might be in attendance and during these periods, guests will skip out the portion of the queue marked in yellow on the layout plan and go straight through to the photo locations.

You’ll be free to use your own camera for photos of course, but the official photographers in residence here will also have cameras equipped with Wi-Fi, sending your snaps immediately over to the photo desk, which you’ll likely be given paper tickets in order to check out and buy.

The official inaurugation is now rumoured to be Saturday 8th October 2011. Tiaras at the ready!

VIA Disney Central Plaza

Tuesday, 6th September 2011

Armageddon averted! Repaving work finally begins at Walt Disney Studios Park entrance

Walt Disney Studios Park entrance repaving

2011 Refurbishments — We use the word “finally” a lot around these parts, probably too much. But in this case, it’s entirely justified. The right-hand side of the Walt Disney Studios Park entrance plaza, which for years now has looked like an extended piece of Armageddon themeing, has just been surrounded by fences ready for repaving to finally begin. About time! Disney Central Plaza posted the above photo on their Facebook page, showing the initial area to be closed off. Hopefully those fences will continue to move about the entrance area to replace all those cracks in the foreground — and out of shot — with the same high-quality paving stones used in the initial phase of the entrance repaving.

Walt Disney Studios Park entrance repaving

This will conclude a repaving project at the entrance to the park that was begun way back in 2007 but never finished, when the original (and it seems, poorly laid) concrete searchlights and stars emitting from the entrance gates were relaid using proper stone paving. This only ever replaced the left-hand side of the entrance, though, leaving the pathway between the two parks (arguably one of the most important in the resort) to crumble away. The ground around the ticket desks meanwhile became a sea of craters — each fragment of eroded concrete another reminder of frivolous early 2000s cost-cutting.

We were promised a repaving project by Paris Imagineering head Peggie Fariss back in March (also the date of the photo above), but it appears we had to wait for the conclusion of several repaving projects in Fantasyland and not least the end of the busy Summer season for it to finally begin.

Well, they say first impressions mean everything…

VIA Disney Central Plaza (Facebook)

Monday, 5th September 2011

Tiles complete on Fantasyland’s newest tower as Princess Pavilion marches ahead

Remarkably untouched since its opening in 1992, Fantasyland at Disneyland Paris is suddenly welcoming a brand new addition to its fairytale landscape with day after day of marching progress. By Saturday, all the tiles on the delayed Princess Pavilion photo location’s new tower were already in place, just days after the tower itself rose from the ground. Not counting the miniature turrets of Storybook Land, opened 1994, this marks the first new tower in Fantasyland’s kingdom since opening!

Meanwhile, the latest photo by @InsideDLParis just three hours ago shows the wooden struts now in place on the main roof of the façade, ready for tiling to continue. Despite being located in the “rural” countryside section of the land, with the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups and Old Mill, the new façade uses a more stately chateau style. Perhaps this is a new garden pavilion of Sleeping Beauty Castle?

Princess Pavilion photolocation construction

With an opening now apparently due in as little as a month, we also have to wonder where this addition will fit into the resort’s marketing. Since the April launch of the Disney Magical Moments Festival, the originally advertised Disney Princesses: A Royal Invitation has lead guests to a cheap temporary tent situated just opposite this construction site. Will the finally-realised Princess Pavilion just open as a late “Magical Moments” addition, or could it be held over by marketing until 2012, to serve as a second new permanent Fantasyland meet ‘n’ greet location for the 20th Anniversary?

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Thursday, 28th July 2011

Colonel Hathi’s refurbishment wraps, revealing a no-longer-forgotten Pizza Outpost

2011 Refurbishments — There are so many refurbishment projects across Disneyland Park this year that here’s one finishing we never even reported as starting. Scaffolding is now coming down on Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost to revealed a completely repaired and refreshed façade, from top to bottom. The restaurant’s exterior has had lacklustre maintenance for a number of years (see photos below from last year), perhaps being cleaned up here and there but never getting a full-scale fix-up until now.

Aside from a mundane pizza offering taking the place of the original Explorers Club table service, it’s another location where they’ve hit the reset button to take us back to 1992. Amongst the jungles of Adventureland, where an almost entirely green palette takes over, the bright white wood panelling and red rooftop of this colonial estate will once again contrast, and complement, nature. As with all these refurbishment projects, the big challenge now that that reset button has been hit will be continuing to keep them looking “as good as opening day” beyond 2012…

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Sunday, 24th July 2011

Castle’s newly golden spires make glistening return as scaffolding disappears

2011 Refurbishments — How do you say “stunning” in French? The restoration of Sleeping Beauty Castle still has a month or so to go yet, but this is already a glorious summer for the Disneyland Park landmark. Having been lifted off to be restored and re-covered in gold leaf backstage, the morning of Tuesday, 12th July saw the first, lower, golden tower spotted back in place with the second following just 24 hours later. For the first time since the refurbishment of 1998 took away their full shimmer in favour of a dull blue gradient, these two unique, slender towers are making Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant shine in the Summer sun.

There’s been huge progress since our last full update on the project, with all scaffolding around the castle now completely removed just in time for the busy Summer season. That means completion of the moat, castle walls, the walkways to the right of the drawbridge and the two wings which wrap around the Castle Courtyard, connecting onto the two boutiques either side. Even the wishing well and its bridge have reopened, after months of closure. Almost all the rooftops have their new blue palette, meaning the most visible change yet to happen is the rooftop above the main window, still retaining its tired yellow gradient. As shown in the concepts for the restoration, this will eventually match the roof of the tallest tower, returning to its original blue colour, with gold reserved only for the edging.

Another big piece of the project was completed just a week ago, when scaffolding came down from the rear balcony and roof of the Gallerie walkthrough on the mezzanine level within the castle. You can compare the minor changes here with an older photo, but the main difference is simply a much cleaner, fresher appearance with crisp paint colours and a renewed copper-coloured rooftop. Fans of the beautiful stained glass windows and tapestries within will be pleased to know the balcony walkthrough itself has at last re-opened as a result.

At night, as in day, it really pops. It glistens like we’re back in 1992 all over again, so striking it makes your heart leap. It’s easy to forget how long we waited and wished for this to happen — for the grubby paintwork, patchy towers and faded walls to be brought back to their medieval splendor. The Summer of 2011: when this Sleeping Beauty, the most beautiful Disney castle in the world, woke up.

Stupéfiant!

PHOTOS VIA Photos Magiques

Saturday, 23rd July 2011

Adventureland Bazaar regains its Middle Eastern warmth with much-needed repaint

2011 Refurbishments — For a land that’s meant to transport you to the dusty Middle East of One Thousand and One Nights, the entrance of Adventureland Bazaar had been looking far too wet and weathered for several years, losing its warm sandy glow and becoming discoloured as the Marne-la-Vallée weather rained down upon it. That was until eagle-eyed news-gatherers such as @InsideDLParis spotted the walls had been cleaned overnight last month — and then early in July noticed that it wasn’t just a clean-up but a full re-paint — the final results you can see via Photos Magiques, above!

Looking back, the Adventureland entrance was marked in red on the map of refurbishments due to happen this season, although it originally got overlooked amongst bigger headline projects. Nevertheless, a quick look back at a “before” photo (below, from 2009) shows you just what a transformation not one thousand and one, but a mere ten nights, can achieve…

PHOTO VIA Photos Magiques

Thursday, 7th July 2011

Fantasyland’s third repaving project near Fantasy Festival Stage almost ready for showtime

Fantasyland repaving

2011 Refurbishments — From one expanse of freshly-laid paving stones to another. After the parade route near Pizzeria Bella Notte and Le Theatre du Château, it looks like the walls are almost ready to come down at Fantasyland’s third patch of new block paving. The area between Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Fantasy Festival Stage and Alice’s Curious Labyrinth — or, for short, the “British quarter” — has been undergoing work since the end of April. A small patch of the new paving, which here has a smart redbrick colour and circular pattern, reopened to guests on the Toad Hall Restaurant side of the walkway at the end of May and work shifted across to complete the project.

Much of the area in front of the theatre actually already had stone paving, rather than the imprinted concrete replaced elsewhere, but this latest photo taken yesterday by @InsideDLParis shows the path looking much cleaner and subtler compared to that slightly messy old worn paving (see here).

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Wednesday, 6th July 2011

Castle Stage reopens following complete refurb, “still represents an opportunity”

Le Theatre du Château - Castle Stage

2011 Refurbishments — As we approach the summer at full speed, the fruits of the busiest refurbishment period in the history of Disneyland Paris are gradually being revealed. One of the biggest is Le Theatre du Château, which was the subject of much interest earlier in the year as its sea of stone benches gradually disappeared and the whole area went behind walls. Now reopened to guests and parade traffic, the stage area looks as good as new, completely repaved with top quality stones and given back a scattering of its benches. The walls of the raised stage itself, with the same palette as Sleeping Beauty Castle, have been completely repainted to match the fresher colours of Le Château just across the moat. As seen in the photo above by Disney Gazette, extra spaces have even been reserved for new trees to provide more shade for the benches (now indeed safely spaced out to prevent kids jumping between them, an apparent health and safety issue we barely believed back in February).

During the 2011 Refurbishments presentation given back in March, we got the chance to walk behind the walls with Peggie Fariss and catch a final “before” glimpse of the cleared stage area. Compared to the old, circular-patterned paving and concrete areas between, the new block paving adds a much warmer feel to the space and is designed less around the placement of the benches.

Le Theatre du Château - Castle Stage

Peggie also gave us a hint at the future prospects for the stage — or at least confirmed it won’t be going anywhere — stating clearly that, from the viewpoint of Walt Disney Imagineering, it “still represents an opportunity” and as such should be safeguarded. That word — opportunity — was exactly the one we had used to describe the space a month earlier. There seems to be some disconnect between Imagineering and Entertainment as to just how good a prospect it represents, though, so it might be some time yet before we ever see this as anything but an opportunity wasted.

Le Theatre du Château - Castle Stage

That’s not to say you can’t watch a show here, though. If this year’s Disney Dance Express is your thing (and particularly if it’s not), you’ll be glad to know that the rolling street show now stops at its intended spot right here for its main performance, skipping past the busy Central Plaza location it had been forced to clog up since April. Characters Photos Blog posted a video of the relocated show stop on Facebook, showing the Dance Express performing on the parade route right in front of the stage behind them. There’s likely something psychological about a “stage” show as opposed to a street show like this, meaning the audience expects much more — story, sets, costumes. Even the Central Plaza shows such as Mickey’s Magical Celebration get around these extra expenses by using the castle as a backdrop.

Perhaps someday the money will be there again to take a step up onto this stage; or the desire to move away from that disruptive monolith blocking Central Plaza. Purpose-built, perfectly positioned and now recently refurbished. The opportunity is, and always has been, there.

PHOTOS VIA Disney Gazette

Thursday, 14th April 2011

Refurb Roundup Day: The Movie – Concepts and events captured on official video

As promised, here’s the official video of the Molly Brown rededication ceremony and the refurbishment presentation events of 25th March, when we were invited to see first-hand the ongoing and upcoming projects taking place across the resort in the lead-up to the 20th Anniversary next year. The Molly Brown’s full-time return to the rivers this weekend finally brought the video online, which also features a good look at some of the concepts and details we were shown during the presentation that morning. A map of Disneyland Park shows the areas to be refurbished in red, whilst photos show the original 1990s model of Sleeping Beauty Castle being re-touched with its new colours that “soar into the sky”.

Special credit to Kristof of magicforum and Photos Magiques for not only stepping up to the mic but slipping in that fun little tribute to the Molly Brown’s original “Queen of the River” title!

Disneyland Paris refurbishments
Map showing planned refurbishments in Disneyland Park for 2011 (annotated by DLRP Today)

Disneyland Paris refurbishments Disneyland Paris refurbishments
Katy Olsen applies the new colour scheme to the original castle model

Disneyland Paris refurbishments
Thomas Bardenat explains the logistics of the castle restoration

Disneyland Paris refurbishments Disneyland Paris refurbishments

VIA Disneyland Paris (YouTube)

Monday, 4th April 2011

Refurb Roundup Day: First look at Fantasyland’s new parade route paving

Fantasyland floor refurbishment

Alright, so, as we’ve said before in previous updates about the big Fantasyland floor replacement works ongoing for the past two months, a new bit of paving is not quite as exciting as a new dark ride or parade. But DLRP Today is not alone in its excitement for this vast stretch of new paving stones, oh no — as Peggie Fariss herself said to us, “sometimes there’s nothing better than a freshly-laid floor” in a Disney park. Couldn’t agree more! We were even taken for a quick “site tour” up to the Fantasyland Gate, where we got to exclusively step through the construction walls for a first look at the almost-finished paving project, switching dirty and crumbling poured concrete for real interlocking pavers.

Even better, we can now take a look at the finished product, too — as the whole parade route up towards “it’s a small world” re-opened right on schedule this weekend! Read More…

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