Tuesday, 10th May 2011

Tinker Bell presents the Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary logos, with lashings of pixie dust

Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary logo

A 20/20/20 vision: The official logos for the 20th Anniversary are here! Who cares there’s eleven months still to wait and that so far we only know one addition. Tinker Bell couldn’t wait any longer to prove that, when she’s not churning out direct-to-home video movies, there’s nothing she likes better than to jazz up a few anniversary logos with some pixie dust sparkle. This trio of three differently-formatted logos are the first pieces of the resort’s promotional materials for the big events of 2012 to be released, revealing a shiny, pretty, colourful logo that looks, well, exactly as you’d expect. Glossy lettering? Check! Pink castle? Check! Tinker Bell? Check! It looks a definite step up from the 15th Anniversary logo, however, with a much bolder and more modern design style that includes a nice multi-coloured pixie dust trail from Tink (reminiscent of Tokyo’s 25th designs)and giant sans-serif numbers. Even the Castle looks perfectly pretty, with no humiliating Mickey Mouse symbols plastered over its windows, something that had become worryingly trendy over recent years.

Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary logo Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary logo

One of the secondary logos simply features the Disneyland Paris logo with “20” to one side, similar to the classy alternative 15th Anniversary logo which became increasingly popular through that event. The semi-circular design of the main logo, meanwhile, looks like practically every Disneyland Paris logo of the late ’90s. It’s hard to know whether the recurring themes of the castle, Tinker Bell, fireworks, pixie dust and circular shapes show a lack of a imagination or a fun nod to the past. At least this time, the Peter Pan reference might tie into an actual anniversary event.

Past Disneyland Paris logos

What do you think? Let’s have scores out of 20!

Saturday, 7th May 2011

Jack Sparrow audio animatronics to finally join Pirates of the Caribbean for 20th Anniversary!

Drink up me hearties: Captain Jack Sparrow is coming to Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris in 2012! The European version of the attraction will finally end a 5-year stint as the only edition not to reference to the blockbuster movies, adding the exact same Audio Animatronics and special effects which “plussed” the Anaheim and Orlando rides in 2006 and Tokyo’s version in 2007. That includes three animatronic figures of Jack Sparrow himself, looking remarkably like the Johnny Depp character — one amongst the mayor/auctioneer scene, one hiding in a barrel and one drinking up in the final treasure caverns. In addition, the captain of the ship in the “attack” scene at the bottom of the first drop will likely be replaced by Barbossa, and the Imagineers will hopefully find somewhere to position the mist screen projection of Blackbeard, which was just announced to replace the original Davy Jones projection at Anaheim and Orlando yesterday. In the three broadly similar versions of the attraction already updated this comes at the start of the ride as a forewarning, but with the Paris edition having a different story layout its exact position is currently unclear.

The update has been confirmed internally for a while now, though so far hasn’t been officially announced and isn’t likely to be for a few months at least. But there we have it, our first known 20th Anniversary addition! Funnily enough four years ago we were talking about this exact update for the 15th Anniversary, but that’s Disneyland Paris. It seems like every year since then the rumour has resurfaced again, as those behind the magic tried to push it through the budgeteers, whilst money was spent instead on theme year after theme year. Most recently it looked like a dead cert for this year, what with the much-anticipated fourth film due out this very month (and enjoying a huge world premiere event at Disneyland in California today). As Captain Jack would have said several times over by now, “If you were waiting for the opportune moment …that was it.” But next year will do just fine, providing a solid Imagineering addition in what’s otherwise looking like a very Entertainment-based anniversary.

So, enjoy “On Stranger Tides” in stereoscopic digital 3D and then set course for Paris this time next year, to see Sparrow come alive in three real dimensions. And he only took 6 years to cross the Atlantic!

Monday, 18th April 2011

Fountain tests in Sleeping Beauty Castle moat hint at big splash for 20th Anniversary

20th Anniversary fountain tests

It may just look like a few pipes in the waters around Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, but this is the photo everybody’s talking about. Because those aren’t just pipes, they’re fountains. Tested for a short time last week in the water behind Castle Stage, exactly one year before the date of the resort’s 20th Anniversary, it’s our first hint that something big is in preparation for next year’s anticipated celebration. We may not be talking World of Color given the space, but we could certainly be talking about at least un petit morceau of that experience as part of a big nightly event.

There may be a whole year to go, but these tests have still come relatively out of the blue for the park. World of Color has been mentioned as an aspiration for Walt Disney Studios Park in the past, but given the huge costs of installing the show (not to mention building a lake for it to actually perform on) it’s exciting to see that the technology at least might find a way to arrive in Paris much sooner than expected. And with that, anticipation for the 20th just rocketed. Less than 360 days to go, folks!

Update 19/04 — Our photo reporter Dlrpteam has sent over photos of more temporary installations around the area, being used as part of the current effects testing. It’s likely they’re “testing the waters” so to speak, to see just what can be achieved here before working on more in-depth plans:

20th Anniversary fountain tests

20th Anniversary fountain tests

20th Anniversary fountain tests

VIA Dlrpteam, Characters Photos Blog (Facebook)

Friday, 22nd January 2010

Two-tier Ratatouille with a side of shopping, please

Since the footprint of the Imagineers’ proposed addition to the Studios was published via the “mairie” of Chessy, the town just behind Disneyland Paris, we can finally just about picture what this ride could look like if it gets the green light within the next few months.

On the left, the outcrop with angled sides matches perfectly with the corner of Gusteau’s restaurant as seen in the film Ratatouille itself. Just behind, the walls of the proposed building jut inwards to create a small square courtyard — surely the back alley and entrance to the kitchens, where we saw Linguini park his scooter and Rémy’s friends come scavenging for food.

Ratatouille dark ride
Plan (thanks to Mouetto) compared to Tokyo’s existing trackless ride.

An even more exciting match-up can be found with the shape of the rectangular building behind. Since the rumours have persisted almost since the outset that this ride could use the trackless (or “GPS”) technology of Pooh’s Hunny Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland, it’s incredibly satisfying to see that the showbuildings of both this existing ride — and the possible future ride for Paris… are the exact same dimensions.

We don’t know that this plan submitted for approval by the local town hall will be the final design — after all, the plan of Toy Story Playland to come from the Chessy mairie showed two RC Racer halfpipes, side by side — but we can now see for certain that Walt Disney Imagineering have really, truly been using Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, that roaring success of a dark ride, as the template for a ride at our humble Walt Disney Studios Paris.

And so, those new details to spill: In responding to questions about the plan on the Disney Central Plaza message board, member La Rouquine confirmed several suspicions — and raised expectations higher.

Ratatouille dark ride
Artwork from Ratatouille.

Positioned right up against the existing costuming (ImagiNations) building, the planned attraction wouldn’t extend properly into the adjoining space but the costuming workshop itself, as previously seen from Studio Tram Tour, is intended to be moved. This freed-up space would then make true a rumour heard many months ago — that the building could house a Ratatouille boutique.

The workshop is the perfect size for a connecting store, and would finally bring the building at least partially within park use. As the main building for Cast Members, providing their costumes among other services, the building is ideally placed right between the two parks. Though it presents a difficult barrier for future Toon Studio expansion, there are apparently no plans for the rest of the space to be absorbed into the park for a long time to come, it only being opened back in 2001.

So, point number two — the size of the new building. Though the rectangular showbuilding at the rear matches perfectly with Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, the total floorspace appears much lower. How could this new development really fit in everything that’s rumoured — the dark ride, the shop, the restaurant – perhaps toilets? By going up.

Ratatouille dark ride
Ratatouille: Going up?

Oh yes, it appears WDI really do want to give this “parking lot theme park” of flat, single-level attractions the depth (or perhaps height) it needs by building Ratatouille on “several” floors — explaining its modest size in the plan seen. Think of the stretch room in Phantom Manor; the multi levels of Pirates of the Caribbean. This kind of design adds a lot to the experience.

Though, this isn’t to say that your trackless ride vehicle could also climb to a second storey — more likely, that the queue line or restaurant (if it really hasn’t been cancelled) could be located above one another. Perhaps imagine queueing through the elevated rat restaurant seen at the end of the film as real-life diners enjoy a meal in Linguini’s real restaurant below.

What now?

Rumour has it, John Lassetter has been involved in the planning, and a model of the proposed attraction already exists. Many people are now getting twitchy — if this is to be the main 20th Anniversary addition, doesn’t construction need to start soon? Two years is about as quickly as a ride like this can be developed, after all.

In fact, we’ve heard that the attraction plans have now been signed off by Imagineering and the powers that be. It’s a go! — well, almost. Those plans are now lying in the hands of the resort’s financial backers, waiting nervously for that green light to be lit.

Let’s hope they do just that, since the cost-to-benefit ratio of this addition must be off the scale. A dark ride in any sense — even the quaint Snow White/Pinocchio style — would transform perceptions of the Studios. A trackless dark ride would blow visitors away.

Then there’s the theme. Not only was Ratatouille a smash success in France, it’s oh-so-French style would be perfect for the resort’s international visitors, allowing them to experience the feeling of Paris during their trip without stepping a foot out of the resort. For the locals, it would finally put a bit of France back into the parks, an influence that has been noticeably missing since Le Visionarium and its subtle showcasing of the country closed up in 2004. What better way to celebrate the 20th Anniversary in 2010 than with an expansion truly celebrating the country’s great capital city.

Ratatouille dark ride
The moment of realisation.

It almost goes without saying: the ride would be a must-do for every age, it’s trackless technology setting up a kitchen chase that could be moderately thrilling yet family friendly. The overwhelming success of the Japanese cousin is there to see. No other ride in the entire park would have such a wide age spectrum of satisfaction.

Clever use of projections in place of expensive sets and only more simple Animatronic figures, as at Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, would help bring the overall costs down. Since the technology is already developed and is currently being used for the Mystic Point addition to Hong Kong Disneyland, further cost savings are there for the taking. Having the construction crews “retreat” and start work on this site as soon as Toy Story Playland nears completion makes further sense. The resort already has a permit to remove the trees currently covering the site.

But now, we must wait. Not even able to watch through the kitchen doors. Just cross our fingers and hope beyond hope that they too have a fork-hitting-the-floor moment — where it all makes sense that this absolutely, positively, has to happen.

Images: Via Mouetto, DCP; Disney/Pixar; Google Earth.

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