Tuesday, 31st July 2012

World of Disney rises in new time-lapse “making of” video featuring store’s creators

Francis Guerrier, World of Disney project manager

World of Disney is now already a familiar, unique icon for Disneyland Paris. But what went into designing and building this new landmark boutique? Via the Disneyland Paris Generations website, an official video allows some of the creators to speak for themselves, as well as giving us a glimpse at the always fun time-lapse video Disney sets up for most of its major projects.

As it happened, after over 10 years of planning and waiting, this new store rose from the concrete roof of the TGV platforms in just over 18 months. Here it rises in about six seconds.

Video follows… Read More…

Monday, 23rd July 2012

World of Disney officially inaugurated with grand opening ceremony — pictures, video

World of Disney has now completed its first full week of regular opening. The new Disneyland Paris flagship store, at the entrance to Disney Village, was inaugurated on 12th July 2012 with a special ceremony hosted by resort ambassadors Régis Alart and Osvaldo del Mistero.

Just as the colourful globe and Imagineering-designed architecture of the building itself has finally brought a true “Disney” touch to the resort hub, the ceremony saw the rare sight of Mickey, Minnie and Disney pomp in view of the RER and TGV station.

A modest but dedicated crowd of VIPs and visitors awaited the opening ceremony at 3pm, as the ambassadors, joined by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, introduced Joe Schott, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, and Pierre Monzani, Préfet of the local Seine-et-Marne area. The pair of officials, Joe Schott in less fluent but admirable French, then officially inaugurated the new store by cutting the ribbon as Régis and Osvaldo declared “World of Disney is now officially open!”.



As confetti rained down, the heavens opened in perfect Marne-la-Vallée timing, coating the “World of Disney” marquee, statues and globe in a spray of golden dust. DLRP Today.com reader Maarten was there to capture the events — more photos from inside the store will follow.

World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]

Disneyland Paris also released a selection of official photos from both inside and outside the new location, showing off its sumptuous interior and beautiful nighttime illumination. The red marble-effect “World of Disney” signage truly does create a real, unique beauty of a marquee. Quintessentially American but European influenced, as all the best things at Disneyland Paris are.

World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]

Video of the inauguration by sebichou92i (YouTube) follows… Read More…

Wednesday, 11th July 2012

World of Disney soft-opens for Cast Members, Shareholders, Passholders — and the public!

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris [(C) Alex, Disney Central Plaza]

Construction of World of Disney at the entrance to Disney Village really powered through its final months, with Disneyland Paris’ merchandising teams having the new flagship store stocked and ready to open its doors right on schedule for the first time last week. First came the Cast Members, always given the privilege of first previews, on Thursday 5th July, followed by two planned previews for both Shareholders Club members and Annual Passport Dream holders on Friday 6th.

Then, from this Saturday 7th, conveniently the start of the busy summer season when the esplanade in front of the store will be at its busiest with guests walking to and from the parks, the store opened its doors to everyone. This remains a “soft opening” period ahead of the official inauguration this Thursday, 12th July 2012, meaning the store could be closed at any time, but so far it is following its soon-to-be-regular 9am to 1am opening hours.

Inspired by the great department stores of Paris and beyond, World of Disney stocks a full range of Disneyland Paris merchandise. Clockwise from the main entrance, you can discover 20th Anniversary, collectibles, pins, candy, media, Paris, “Oh Mickey!”, adult clothing, kids clothing, costumes, plushes, toys and Disney by Britto ranges. The central domed area, where Mickey, Minnie and Pluto wave from a hot air balloon having enjoyed an evening in Paris, is dedicated to homewares and accessories.

Designed to present a “best of” from the resort’s other boutiques, World of Disney nevertheless still has some of its own exclusive products, indicated by special signs on each display. These include the limited edition T-shirts and lithographs, reproducing the beautiful murals which adorn the shop itself.

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris grand opening cast
World of Disney Grand Opening Cast Members

The entire store is both far better organised and easier to browse than its generically-titled Disney Store predecessor, having wide, clear aisles and a central concourse which loops right around the store connecting the three entrances. In the middle of the store, under the hot air balloon, is not another sales display but a comfy four-sided seat. Unlike other areas of the resort’s merchandising, where shop display rails fall, desperately, out into the pathway in a horribly tacky way, this is a store which draws you in and encourages you to linger. Pinging cash registers will surely follow.

And then there’s the design: Art Deco, 1920s/30s/40s inspired, nods to True-Life Adventures and even rare globe-trotting animations such as Saludos Amigos (find Pedro the plane!). The ten “21st Century Art Deco” murals designed exclusively for the space by Mike Kungl are a true asset to the store and the resort. Cast Members wear special period costumes, not generic off-the-hanger shirts, the entire interior and sales displays custom designed just for this space.

Outside, the public realm thankfully shrugs off, even completely ignores, the inhuman concrete warehouse architecture of Disney Village for something decidedly more “real” and town-like. High quality paving, steps, handrails and planters surround the exterior with its fun bas-relief panels featuring Disney characters restyled in Art Deco. Like the pleasing Earl of Sandwich, bookending the other end of Disney Village, this is hopefully the vision for further future development.

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris [(C) Alex, Disney Central Plaza]
Photos: Alex, Disney Central Plaza

True, the striking, slowly turning landmark glass dome with its recycled castle Tinker Bell looks somewhat less delicately ornate than may have been desired after the addition of its colourful globe motif, which in strong sunlight gives the effect of flat stuck-on transfers rather than a real opaque stained-glass effect; but see it at nighttime, when illuminated from within, for best effect.

Even the slightly odd-looking, off-model Mickey and Minnie statues, borrowed from the former World of Disney store in New York City, can be forgiven when you cast your eyes on the simply gorgeous “World of Disney” marquee signage itself, styled with a luxurious blue and red marble-effect. Earlier concepts showed the “o” of “World” styled as a Mickey Mouse shape; thankfully, this was styled back to a much classier plain “o”, avoiding the “Mickey fatigue” which can plague projects like this.

Though significantly more “petite” than its American cousins, this World of Disney makes up for its comparably quaint size with its bespoke design. There’s no other store like it, at Disneyland Paris or beyond; the Imagineers have successfully created a store that’s a destination all of its own and gives the previously colourless resort hub area a much-needed feel of “place”.

World of Disney will be officially inaugurated tomorrow, Thursday 12th July 2012, with a special ceremony at 3pm (for 3.30pm) in the presence of Philippe Gas, CEO

Preview photo round-up and interior videos follow… Read More…

Tuesday, 10th July 2012

Bastille Day 14th July fireworks confirmed as added extra after ‘Disney Dreams!’

"Out There" from The Hunchback of Notre Dame in Disney Dreams! at Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris has confirmed that a special Bastille Day fireworks will take place this Saturday, 14th July, beginning just five minutes after the end of the regularly scheduled performance of its new Disney Dreams! nighttime spectacular at Disneyland Park.

The French National Day, more commonly known simply as le quatorze juillet in France, falls on a Saturday this 20th Anniversary year, meaning the resort can no doubt expect bumper crowds for the occasion. Unlike previous years, where the regular fireworks event such as The Enchanted Fireworks has taken a one-night break with a special show in its place, this separate fireworks show will provide two nighttime spectaculars in one night, not to mention the seasonal return of Disney’s Fantillusion.

If the 22-minute Disney Dreams! remains scheduled at its regular time of 11pm, required due to the late sunset at this time of year, that means the special Bastille Day fireworks won’t begin until almost 11.30pm. It remains to be seen if the one-off show will be as grand as previous years or a cut-down pyrotechnic “encore” in light of the preceding spectacular. Could the newly-installed fountains, water screens and projectors around the castle be utilised? No word yet.

Though the related World of Color show in California has been given special scenes for holidays and film releases, the show’s creator Steve Davison was clear to state during our Q&A event earlier this year that Disney usually prefers to leave such shows for at least a year before adding new segments, to allow everyone to see the original show. Today’s tweet from Disneyland Paris seems to state the 14th July fireworks are a separate event and not a modification or even encore to the show.

Nevertheless ‘Disney Dreams!’ itself is already very patriotic towards France, with its Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (pictured above) and Ratatouille scenes coming in quick succession all with French lyrics, settings and characters. This Saturday night at Disneyland Paris looks set to be more “patriotique” than ever!

VIA @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter)

Tuesday, 10th July 2012

World of Disney pre-opening preview: flagship store previewed in concepts, facts, video

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

Go to Disney Village today and you can already shop inside World of Disney, but the new flagship store isn’t officially open until this Thursday, 12th July, so there’s just time to take a more detailed look at its design, construction and final fitting out. Disneyland Paris hosted a preview of the store and its merchandising last month, teasing fans with the first views of its beautiful Art Deco interior, sales displays and product ranges. The full 26-slide presentation is feature here and continues below.

But first, the construction. At 1,500 m² of retail space the new store is some way short of its cousins in Florida and California (at 5,000 m² and 3,700 m² respectively) but still more than double the 700 m² floorspace of the former Disney Store nearby. A further 1,000 m² backstage and on the first floor is reserved for offices and stockrooms.

Adding a unique challenge to its construction, it actually sits right on top of the concrete box housing the high speed rail lines and platforms of Marne-la-Vallée Chessy TGV station, which was built before the opening of the resort. A large ventilation shaft for the platforms had to be incorporated into its design, visible during earlier construction but now unnoticeable within the floorspace.

World of Disney at Disneyland ParisWorld of Disney at Disneyland Paris

But that’s not the half of it: out went any idea of traditional building foundations and instead the entire store sits on a steel frame, able to expand and contract slightly as the temperature of the concrete box below changes.

All 8,000 tons of the finished store are spread evenly across its surface. This “floating foundation” also required the entire store to be built raised slightly above the rest of the surrounding area, requiring steps and ramps to meet its entrances. More a bonus than a problem, this also helps to give the store a more prestigious feel and keeps its entrances more accessible at times when crowds arriving or departing the parks reach crush level.

Of the ten pillars which encircle the domed centre of the store, only five are structural with the other five for decoration — yet they’re not purely decorative. Hidden grids allow them to become part of a complex heating and cooling system which has been designed right into the bones of the building for maximum efficiency. As a further enviromentally-friendly measure, 6 m² of solar panels have been hidden on the roof to heat water for backstage operations and break rooms, while LED lighting is utilised throughout the store to minimise energy use.

World of Disney at Disneyland ParisWorld of Disney at Disneyland Paris
World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

Departing for new destinations after an evening in Paris are Mickey, Minnie and Pluto, riding a hot air balloon within the starry-sky dome at the heart of the store. Below them, a cloud-shaped seat invites guests to sit and admire the spectacular space.

Ten spectacular Art Deco panoramas line the perimeter, designed exclusively for the space by American painter of Disney Fine Art and graphic designer Mike Kungl. Termed “21st Century Art Deco” by Kungl, the moderne-style artworks at World of Disney see groups of Disney characters traversing the four corners of the Disney world. A selection of large limited edition lithographs are available to purchase from the opening of the store, costing €99 framed or €69 unframed.

World of Disney at Disneyland ParisWorld of Disney at Disneyland Paris
World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

Kungl, who has previously created similar pieces of Disney Fine Art, was also responsible for the eight bas-relief artworks which have been visible around the store’s exterior for several months. These were originally sculpted to a finer scale before being scanned and cast in “reconstituted” stone which, with its warmer tone, actually makes up the bulk of the exterior cladding, rather than the solid granite used nearer ground level.

The signature globe roof dome, meanwhile, actually spins on its axis throughout the day. Turning at a rate of 2 km/h, it takes roughly 1 minute for a full revolution, during which time you’ll see stars marking out the location of the other Disney resorts — even including Shanghai, due to open December 2015.

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris
World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

But this is a shop first and foremost, and within the sliding entrance doors you’ll find no less than fifteen well-defined product areas, with 32 cash registers waiting to complete your purchase — 27 permanent, plus 5 more standalone and mobile stations. During the grand opening, you’ve the chance to pick up products not just exclusive to World of Disney but actually branded for the shops inauguration: a pin and two T-shirts mark the occasion.

More slides, floorplan of the store and video follows… Read More…

Monday, 9th July 2012

Pin Trading July 2012 releases

Pin Trading July 2012 releases

This month’s Pin Trading releases include Disney-Pixar’s Brave, Bastille Day and the inauguration of World of Disney. Already in the resort’s boutiques are two new character “bag” pins for Minnie and Angel, two more wagons for the 20th Anniversary train series featuring Pluto and Chip ‘n’ Dale and the “14 Juillet” Bastille Day pin, released early no doubt to capitalise on advance sales before the date itself. A limited edition from the upcoming Phantom Manor Pin Event has also been sold in limited numbers at select stores.

Coming this Thursday 12th, the special World of Disney inauguration pin featuring the new flagship store’s iconic globe and that darling of Pin Trading, Tinker Bell. The pin was already made available to Shareholders and Annual Passholders at the store’s Friday preview event, who were given a single ticket at the entrance in order to purchase the pin. Clearly lessons have been learnt from the 12th April 2012 pin debacle.

On Saturday 14th, Pixar fans can pick up a series of pins for Brave, due for release in Europe soon, with the choice of a booster set of four pins, a single Merida logo pin or a very limited 400-edition pin. Saturday 21st sees new pins for the 20th Anniversary pin board game on sale, before the month in Pin Trading comes to end with two new Cinderella and Snow White pins on Saturday 28th July.

Do you plan to pick up any of this months releases? Let us know!

Monday, 9th July 2012

Disney’s Fantillusion, The Tarzan Encounter return for two months of Summer Time

This past Saturday 7th July, the night was “turned to light” at Disneyland Park. Not just by the spectacular, state-of-the-art effects of Disney Dreams! but now also by the more traditional twinkling bulbs of Disney’s Fantillusion, returning for its tenth summer season at Disneyland Paris. Scheduled for 22:15 each night, with Disney Dreams! at park closing time (23:00), Disney’s Fantillusion appears to have retained the same format and floats as its previous summer and winter 2012 seasons, with the only noted changes being some refreshed costumes.

However, as now seems to be customary before each season, there’s some doubt about its future. According to RadioDisneyClub.fr, the parade will not return as usual for the upcoming Disney’s Enchanted Christmas season. So far Disneyland Paris has confirmed only the dates for this Christmas — 9th November 2012 to 6th January 2013 — and none of the events contained within.

Earlier this year, before its current season to 2nd September 2012 was confirmed, it was rumoured separately both that the parade would precede Disney Dreams! every single night, all year, and that it had been cancelled completely.

The Tarzan Encounter cast and crew [(C) Disney_ParisEN]

Meanwhile, the essential live Disney stage show has also returned to the park with The Tarzan Encounter, beginning an eleventh season at The Chaparral Theater in Frontierland back on 9th June. Resident at the theatre since 2000, with a two year hiatus in 2009 and 2010, the musical acrobatics show continues to be a guest favourite after its 2011 resurrection, performing five times daily at 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 16:45 and 17:45 to strong crowds.

While it seems ungrateful to say it when we have something as beautiful and big as Disney Dreams!, it is still true that both parks — and particularly Walt Disney Studios Park, with its slightly lacklustre Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars parade — lack these daytime entertainments, shows and streetmosphere which add life to the lands throughout the day, not just for 20 minutes before park closing time.

At least for the next two months now, Disneyland Park offers the full line-up: stage show, daytime parade, electrical parade and nighttime spectacular. That’s a day only Disneyland can give you.

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter), @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter) RadioDisneyClub.fr

Monday, 21st May 2012

World of Disney store to officially open 12th July 2012 — new concept art, press release

World of Disney, Disney Village, Disneyland Paris

World of Disney, the new flagship store at the hub of Disneyland Paris and entrance to Disney Village, has finally had its opening date set in stone: 12th July 2012! An unusual Thursday opening, then; perhaps a nod to the 12th April, or a chance for the newly-opened store to prepare itself ahead of summer weekend crowds? At least this puts an end to confusion over the date, which has been moving back and forth between June and September for the past few months. Work is suddenly flying ahead on the exterior, which will eventually end up looking like the visual above.

This new concept art, first included in the ‘Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams’ book, shows the final design of the Hollywood Art Deco-inspired exterior and its signature globe dome. You might remember from earlier concept art that the original idea was for a second half of the globe to continue inside the store itself, visible through the windows to create the effect of a floating Earth. Now, just the dome on top is part of the final design, with the double-height atrium inside to be decorated with stars; its centrepiece a hot air balloon carrying the Disney characters to destinations around the world, which will be featured in different areas of the store’s interior design.

The new design also clearly depicts how the boutique is raised slightly from the hub itself, with a small set of stairs around the front and sides to offer some protection from the surge of visitors at park closing. Naturally, a ramp is also provided on the right-hand side.

There, we also see the beginnings of an intriguing new perimeter gate. Rumours have suggested that the opening of World of Disney could see changes to the operation of the resort hub and its security barriers, perhaps allowing guests to go between the parks and Disney Village without leaving the security-controlled zone, though exact details of this are unconfirmed.

Along with the opening date announcement, Disneyland Paris has also shared photos of two important arrivals, all the way from New York City: Mickey and Minnie Mouse!

World of Disney, Disney Village, Disneyland ParisWorld of Disney, Disney Village, Disneyland Paris

These two statues, which now sit either side of the main World of Disney entrance in Paris, were salvaged from the marquee of the former World of Disney store on Fifth Avenue in New York, which closed on 31st December 2009.

World of Disney, New York Fifth Avenue [(C) cre8or]
Photo: cre8or (Flickr)

Disney moved to a new retail space in Times Square in late 2010, branded as a general Disney store, leaving only the two — and very soon to be three — theme park locations. Of which, Paris certainly has the most beautiful, unique exterior. But isn’t that always the case?

Press release follows… Read More…

Thursday, 17th May 2012

Meet Mickey Mouse opens to guests after one day delay — first official photos!

Meet Mickey Mouse - Rencontre avec Mickey

Everything looked neat ‘n’ pretty, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite “on with the show” for the planned opening ceremony of Meet Mickey Mouse at Disneyland Paris yesterday, 16th May 2012. An unconnected — and now resolved — walk-out by the character performers division saw the cancellation of most character events across the parks for the entire day.

Oddly this means that the date we consign to history as the public opening date of this new attraction is the one confirmed months ago: 17th May 2012. And here are the first official photos!

Meet Mickey Mouse - Rencontre avec MickeyMeet Mickey Mouse - Rencontre avec Mickey
Meet Mickey Mouse - Rencontre avec Mickey

These snaps show only the Mickey Mouse meet and greet room itself, behind the stage in the completely redesigned former Fantasy Festival Stage, where guests encounter the mouse preparing for his magic show in a dressing room overflowing with props and hidden details. Many of the details will be familiar to those who already know the attraction’s Town Square Theatre cousin in Florida, though here — as described in our walk-through yesterday — the set-up is entirely faithful to that of the real, pre-existing theatre, giving a much more faithful and enjoyable narrative to the whole experience.

Guests queue in the aisles of the old theatre area, completely redressed with plush carpets, pendant lights and wood panelling, with Mickey Mouse projections playing out on a projection screen on the stage. Then, they climb the stairs into the real backstage area for their “Rencontre avec Mickey”.

You can already spot many of the fun nods in these photos. The giant padded suitcase containing Mickey’s magician outfit and magic wands, an advertisement for a “Band Concert” in the park (referencing the 1935 short film), travel stickers referencing other Disney resorts (and a Colonel Hathi travel company), and even a custom-made striped wallpaper that uses only the colours black, red, yellow and white. This might just be one of the most charming attractions in the park.

Read our full report from the guided “hard hat” tour with an Imagineer here!

Wednesday, 16th May 2012

Everything neat ‘n’ pretty for Meet Mickey Mouse grand opening in Fantasyland – today!

Meet Mickey Mouse in Fantasyland

Today at 12.30pm, the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors are scheduled to officially inaugurate the new Meet Mickey Mouse meet and greet attraction in Fantasyland, with a special ceremony in the presence of the mouse himself. It will be preceded by three sessions of Passeport Annuel Dream previews. Then, from 1.00pm, the first chance for guests to step inside the redesigned former Fantasy Festival Stage to meet Mickey and investigate the changes within.

How does it look? Well, we were lucky enough to get an exclusive sneak peek inside the new attraction along with fellow fansite authors on 1st April. Greeted by Imagineer Laurent Cayuela at the door, wonderfully animated himself, we were led on a tour (no photos allowed) through the work-in-progress interior that has undergone considerable change since its days as a real show theatre. Where in 1992 guests sat on wooden benches in the half-open space to watch “C’est Magique”, in 2012 they’ll be stepping inside a gorgeous, plush interior reminiscent of great opera houses of the early 1900s.

The basic set-up of the theatre and its stage remains, already perfect for the premise of this attraction. On your way to meet Mickey Mouse in his dressing room behind the stage, you first step into a small lobby area in the right-hand wing of the theatre, adorned with the posters of “Mickey the Magnificent” already seen in Frontierland and the similar, existing meet and greet in Florida’s Magic Kingdom.

Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse

False walls in the same off-white as the exterior have been erected down each side of the former seating area inside, enclosing the theatre stage area itself and giving the previously rather “barebones” pavilion a grander theatrical feel. The entire space has been given soft new, red carpeting with a gold pattern, lending the theatre a truly luxurious feel.

Stepping into the auditorium, you join a back-and-forth queue line which cleverly gives the impression of theatre seating aisles, sloping downwards to the completely redressed stage itself. And wow, that stage: now framed extravagantly in beautiful wood panelling and completed with two new “box seats” sticking out above the audience in either side.

It’s still a real stage, just as before, and Laurent even mentioned that they could use it as such (we imagine for small live music acts or special events, perhaps), but the regular pre-show will be a selection of classic Mickey Mouse cartoons, projected onto a screen behind the curtains as guests queue. Note the plural on curtains: there are no less than three different curtains now permanently installed on the stage — Venetian, Grecian and Italian — which all lift up and open in different ways, presumably between cartoons.

Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey MouseMeet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse

Gleaming gold railings wrap around the queue line with subtle lighting in the edges at ground level. The real feature lighting is above: a series of fabulously ornate pendant lamps produced especially for the attraction by a specialist company with several generations’ experience. The whole queue line has enough space for a 45 minute wait — as we’ve hinted before, a hint of Disney magic later on which we won’t otherwise spoil could help this flow up to three times faster than otherwise.

Staying true to the theatre building, guests really do step “backstage” when they go to meet Mickey in his dressing room. Climbing a small set of stairs at the side of the stage (a ramp for access is also provided), the elaborate decoration suddenly falls away to reveal bare brick-clad walls and a stage manager’s lectern in a small corridor. Here, a Cast Member will personally escort guests to Mickey’s dressing room through another corridor. It’s this dressing room which packs more in-jokes and clever nods than some Disney attractions do in their entire length.

Books, notices, props and suitcases litter the room from floor to ceiling. “Good luck” notes from Minnie, a “missing” notice for the kidnapped Aristocats, a children’s drawing featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Even a prop to reference the Pixar short film Presto. It’s funny, too. All to often these days Disney can forget these details are called “in-jokes“. Designing everything in the shape of Mickey’s head does not make for clever hidden detail. But having a bag on the sideboard labelled with “Tuppence” really does raise that little smile a classic Disney “gag” gives you.

Meet Mickey MouseMeet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse himself (not present during our preview tour) poses in front of a red curtain, opposite the illuminated dressing room mirror and next to the giant seven-foot suitcase containing his props and costume, which also helps to divide the room. Imagineers never talk money, but the whole space with its hyper-custom props has the feel of serious investment and certainly worthy of the company’s trademark character.

Out the other side of the dressing room, guests are free to pose with some of the magician’s props stored at the side of the side — including a giant saw and a “Tank of Terror” escapology trick. Again, there’s a very welcome humour here.

Exit is then via the left-hand side of the auditorium, behind the false walls, to a ticket booth-style area which serves as the souvenir photo sales desk. Once again, lavishly designed — but with practicalities in mind, too: one window of the desk is lowered on both the guest and Cast Member sides, allowing not just a guest in a wheelchair to purchase their photo with ease, but a Cast Member in a wheelchair to serve them, too. Laurent was particularly proud of such forward-thinking.

Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse

A pause for questions left our group rather speechless, perhaps so taken aback by the transformation. On background music, Laurent stated that the short loop we heard during the tour (the same track which has been playing at the temporary Frontierland location) would likely be replaced simply by the sounds of the cartoons in the pre-show, audible throughout the venue.

The thought of an attraction based solely around meeting a character won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the execution of this particular concept really has been completed to the utmost Disney quality. Blessed with the gift of a real, pre-existing theatre, unlike the earlier Florida version, Walt Disney Imagineering have been able to play out the narrative far more truthfully and successfully.

One single quibble would come back to something we raised when the marquee went up, that perhaps it doesn’t play the “British” location within Fantasyland to its full advantage. The theatre could feel British if you wanted it to, but it doesn’t particularly overstate this anywhere.

Meet Mickey Mouse

Perhaps that’s the idea, to make it as international as the mouse himself; but sandwiched between the unquestionably, quintessentially English trio of Peter Pan’s Flight, Toad Hall Restaurant and Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, it’s a particular shame they found reason to place the letters “Rencontre avec Mickey” on the main marquee, when the French subtitle on the smaller wait time indicator at the entrance (not to mention on park maps and programmes) would have sufficed. Luckily this is the only aspect to work against the British setting; the rest of the attraction, if not exactly working with the locality, fits wonderfully well alongside it (even if some dislike the “Main Street” marquee lights).

Furthermore, an abundance of genuinely humorous in-jokes gives it a classic feel that’s close to the character it celebrates without a single lazy, mouse-shaped detail. As the sole contribution of Imagineering to the 20th Anniversary, and despite being “just” a meet ‘n’ greet, it feels genuine and worthwhile. And most likely set to be one of Fantasyland’s most popular attractions.

Watch our HD video of the Meet Mickey Mouse exterior below… Read More…

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