Tuesday, 3rd April 2012

We’re back! All the magic of Disneyland Paris’ 20th Anniversary launch weekend is coming!

Wow, what a weekend! From Friday through to Monday, DLRP Today was at Disneyland Paris for the 20th Anniversary launch weekend, collecting over 2,000 photos and several hours of high definition videos (using a brand new camera bought just for the occasion). Amongst the sights, sounds and surprises we’ve got lined up to share with you: no less than THREE high definition videos of Disney Dreams!, including the real World Premiere on Saturday evening and a spectacular up-close view of the very first public performance on Sunday with a fantastic crowd.

We also had the honour of being present for both the morning and evening inauguration ceremonies, featuring the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors, Philippe Gas, Salma Hayek, Zinedine Zidane and Fabienne Bergmans, winner of the Dutch version of The Voice Kids, who sang the new parade theme “Magic Everywhere!” live. Speaking of which, two videos of Disney Magic on Parade! are also on their way: both the premiere performance on Saturday and the opening day performance the following day. We’ve also taken video and photo tours of the beautiful Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! decorations and the temporary Meet Mickey Mouse in Frontierland.

Mickey Mouse during Disney's 20th Anniversary Celebration TrainMeet Mickey Mouse

Speaking of which, we were lucky enough to be given a “hard hat” tour of the real Meet Mickey Mouse, in Fantasyland, by Imagineer Laurent Cayuela. No photos or videos were allowed there, as it still technically a construction site, but we were all impressed by the new interior for this meet ‘n’ greet experience — we’ll tell you all about it in vivid detail soon!

Finally, we had the privilege of joining a special presentation at Plaza Gardens Restaurant given by Kat de Blois, Katy Harris and none other than Steve Davison himself! Even better, we recorded the full 45-minute question and answer session on video, so you can see it too — including the official reaction to the question: “When did you decide to remove Central Plaza Stage?” It’s coming…

This week, we take YOU to the 20th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris!

Monday, 27th February 2012

First 20th Anniversary Extended Hours revealed: 9.30, 10.30, 11pm bedtimes ahead in April!

April is a busy month for Disneyland Paris, but it’s also outside of the main summer high season. For years that has meant, no matter how busy the parks, you’d see no fireworks and certainly stay no later than 10pm — 8 or 9pm on weekdays. The Extended Hours announced for the 20th Anniversary — primarily to make sure Disney Dreams! can be performed under darkness — promised to change that and revolutionise the annual calendar of the resort. Well, here we go.

Park opening hours for the first half of April 2012 have now been published (check them here), giving us our first look at exactly what “Extended Hours” mean. The first two weekends of April now see Disneyland Park open until 10.30pm, giving up to an hour and a half more time than the same period last year (check our archived hours here). On the weekend of the 14th and 15th, that extends further to the magical 11pm; the first 11pm closing time in April for almost two decades. Meanwhile weekdays see a solid 9.30pm closing time, again an increase of up to an hour and a half on last year.

It’s important to note that these Extended Hours are really just regular park opening hours… extended. Merely a way to promote the longer hours required to see darkness fall over Sleeping Beauty Castle — and all those Disney Dreams! effects come to life. The unconnected Extra Magic Hours, which are available in the morning, continue for Disney Hotel guests and Annual Passport Dream holders.

These new hours not only add a great deal more value to park tickets (and particularly resort hotel stays), they herald the moment where Disneyland Paris is ready to grow up, to start acting like a real Disney park. Previously weighted far too heavily towards the two summer months of July and August, the resort’s old calendar saw pretty much the entire rest of the year besides Christmas relegated to “off season”. If you wanted the “full Disney experience” of later hours, darkness falling over Main Street and nighttime entertainment, you had to wait until summer — and stump up the prices to match. Now, that full Disney experience will be available every day and every night of the year.

• Flashback: See the very first Euro Disneyland opening times from 1992 here!

Friday, 17th February 2012

Disneyland Paris launches official 20th Anniversary website, no Flash required

If you follow @DLRPToday on Twitter, you might have got an early look when the site briefly went live on Wednesday, but now it’s here to stay: Disneyland Paris has launched its official 20th Anniversary web pages! This new mini-site, designed as a separate section of the main website, is notably more compact than previous efforts, but that has only to be applauded: if Disneyland Paris are going to put effort and money into their online activity, it needs to be put into the inadequate main website itself. There are no useless mini-games, no disjointed attempts at “social” interaction, just the main 20th Anniversary events laid out in simple and appealing pages. Check them out here.

Pages for Disney Dreams!, Disney Magic on Parade! and Meet Mickey Mouse feature video clips spliced from the full-length promo video already available on YouTube, while Disney’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Train and the 20th Anniversary Extended Hours are also featured. The final page, “Videos & Live Posts”, simply features a YouTube video and a Facebook plugin. Simple and effective.

Surprisingly, after several years moving away from the increasingly unpopular format (last year’s Magical Moments Festival mini-site appeared to make a point of being entirely non-Flash based), these new pages still arrive fairly heavy in Flash animations, at least for desktop users. But switch to an iPad or iPhone, which notably snub the processor-hogging medium, and there’s a second surprise: the pages still work! Yes, a static version of the main menu has also been produced, for web browsers without Flash to fall back to. Even the videos have been encoded in iOS-friendly formats.


The extent of the Disneyland Paris website on an Apple iOS device; sales totalling 250 million+

All of which makes it even more absurd that, if you jump back to the main Disneyland Paris homepage — or indeed, any page on the rest of the website — you’ll be simply provided with a “Flash Plugin Required” message, and no back-up page at all. No links are even provided for the resort’s separate ticket or package booking systems, which don’t require Flash, potentially losing “armchair” visitors who would like to browse the site or book without firing up their PC.

• Look out for DLRP Magic!‘s own complete guide to the 20th Anniversary, launching soon!

Friday, 13th January 2012

Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary preview video reveals “Disney Dreams!” – and more surprises

“We’re gonna bring the Second Star to the Right and ignite it above the castle…” It’s not a sentence you hear every day but, in this exciting new preview video for the 20th Anniversary released by Disneyland Paris today, Steve Davison casually drops it in amongst a plethora of other surprises. Walt Disney Imagineering’s Creative Director of Entertainment, famed for his work on Fantasmic! and World of Color, joins a number of backstage artists to tease us on the new additions for the anniversary. Show director Katy Harris tells us about the new Mickey Mouse meet ‘n’ greet, while Emmanuel Lenormand shows off detailed concept art for Disney Magic on Parade! and its new costumes.

But it’s the section on Disney Dreams! which is the most surprising — even breathtaking. Real previews are shown of the new castle projection effects, which have been in testing for some time, along with confirmation that the show will feature not just projections, not just fountains, but lasers, pyrotechnics, fire, an original musical score, and perhaps most importantly: a story! When the Second Star to the Right ignites above the castle, the “Disney Dreams” pour out and come to life in “new ways”.

Watch the exciting new preview video below!

Senior technical director Chuck Davis reveals the Imagineers at Creative Entertainment have mapped the whole castle with “pixel accurate video” so it can “do all kinds of great tricks”, while Dave Bossert confirms that water screens will be installed in front of the castle, creaing a huge new canvas for the show to take place on. Particularly interesting to note: Dave is the director of Special Projects at Walt Disney Feature Animation, showing the breadth of Disney talent being combined for this new show.

It’s a rare but incredibly welcome step for Disneyland Paris to let the talent behind its magic tell the stories of new projects like these for once. Similar videos are consistently produced for other resorts, notably California, and always serve to provide both a more exciting teaser for what’s next and a more inspiring insight into the work required to achieve it.

“So that at the end of your day, you can walk away and go: wow, that was cool!”

VIA Disneyland Paris (YouTube)

Thursday, 17th November 2011

20th Anniversary Disneyland Paris brochure now available, events line-up confirmed

Here it is: the 20th Anniversary Disneyland Paris brochure! The multicoloured edition has been spotted out in the wild at travel agents in the UK since its limited launch a couple of weeks ago, but now it’s available online for all to see. Check it out here. Of course, there are new prices, new options and yet another new design for all the pages, but it’s the 20th Anniversary events and images we want to see. The final line-up to make the brochure cut is modest but promising. Star of the show in 2012 will no doubt be Dreams – the “magical, immersive” nighttime spectacular that’s due to take over the Castle, Central Plaza and even Main Street with projections, special effects and — yes — at least a few fountains, as it plunges guests inside a journey through classic Disney dreams.

Also given top billing is Disney Magic on Parade!, actually a reworking of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade that will see the 15th Anniversary‘s showstopper (certainly the best parade ever to be seen in Paris) given new costumes, music and characters. The current Dreams of Romance Finale float will be turned into a mountain ledge for Sorcerer Mickey, with the gang expected to appear in their spangly multi-coloured outfits seen throughout the brochure, while the original opening float will become home to the fairies, wizards and sorcerers of the Disney world. Oddly, that appears to oust the Princesses from the parade almost entirely, although Rapunzel and Flynn are said to be taking over from Aladdin and Jasmine on the smaller Romance Prelude float to freshen up that aspect.

The new magician-themed permanent meet ‘n’ greet for Mickey is advertised simply as Meet Mickey Mouse, while the fourth and final 20th Anniversary event is the mysterious Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates. The brochure blurb is suitably blurry but its references to “twinkles” and “glowings-on” are spot on with our sources, suggesting a gold theme for the street and certainly a lot of lights…

As we revealed in September, longer opening hours for Disneyland Park are due to be one of the big bonuses of the year. Advertised as 20th Anniversary Extended Hours, they’re confirmed to be in operation from 1st April to 30th September 2012, although there’s no mention of just how many extra hours we can expect beyond the usual closing time. Presumably, just as many as it takes for the park to see nightfall, providing a suitable canvas for Dreams.

Whilst the 20th Anniversary doesn’t coincide with any major attraction investments, the chance to stay in the park until nightfall every day of the year represents a big gear-change for Disneyland Paris. Add to that a real, signature finale to each day with Dreams — produced by Disneyland California entertainment legend Steve Davison and the team behind World of Color, did we forget to mention? — and the culmination of a huge investment in refurbishments. Looks like an E-Ticket year here.

VIA Disneyland Paris 2012 Brochure

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