Eighteen months into his role as chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Tom Staggs has announced a big reorganisation for the department that appears to bring Disneyland Paris more tightly under Disney’s managerial wing. The former President of Worldwide Operations position has been eliminated following the retirement of Al Weiss; in its place a new expanded role for Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton, pictured above, who will now not only oversee the resort and four parks in Florida but serve in a new position as President of Operations in the US and France. Reporting to Meg will be George Kalogridis of Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California (and previously chief operating officer in Paris) and our own Philippe Gas of Euro Disney SCA, the group which operates Disneyland Paris. Meanwhile, previous Euro Disney CEO Karl Holz will add Disney Vacation Club to his current role overseeing Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney.
In a memo sent on Tuesday Tom Staggs writes,
“Meg’s strong leadership abilities and broad experience make her the perfect person to lead resort operations in our established markets in the United States and Europe. Meg will report directly to me and become a member of my executive committee, allowing us to continue the great work of sharing best practices and leveraging our operational expertise across our properties. Meg understands and respects the unique heritage and characteristics of each of our theme park resort locations, which gives me great confidence in her ability to fulfill this role while preserving and enhancing what makes each of our properties so special in their own right.”
Whilst crossovers between Disneyland Paris and the American resorts have been noticeably increasing in recent years (the UK even had a joint Paris/Florida TV campaign earlier this year), this appears to be the firmest move yet in bringing their trans-Atlantic management closer. In fact, the Orlando Sentinel reports that it is all part of an initiative known as “One Disney”, which has been seeking to merge functions and responsibilities between resorts. What do you think — Is it a good thing for Disneyland Paris to be brought closer to the American resorts? And is Meg the right person to do it?
See anything unusual in the skies over Disneyland Paris last weekend? Not a flying elephant or a projectile to the moon, but the Patrouille de France — the French air force display team — who performed a spectacular fly-by of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant for the very first time, filling the sky over Main Street, U.S.A. with the blue, white and red of the Tricolore. The stunning sight was all part of a charitable event known as “Journées Soif de Vivre”, literally “Thirst for life days”, which saw 160 children with serious or rare illnesses invited to Disneyland Paris for three days of unforgettable experiences and surprises. From balloon rides to Mickey Mouse meet ‘n’ greets, a special performance of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and an exclusive preview screening of Cars 2, the children had three days of pure escapism. You can find out more about the event on the resort’s corporate website (PDF) or see a quick video of the flyover here.
Some of the most impressive sculptures are housed inside a giant temporary marquee, such as City Hall, Walt’s restaurant and Main Street Motors; all stunningly detailed recreations that you can walk right up to. The jail scene from Pirates of Caribbean is recreated with a wonderful likeness for the key-carrying canine — and even an early appearance from Jack Sparrow!
Beyond the resort landmarks, there are numerous lifelike character sculptures from Snow White to Tangled and almost every film in-between, with a special section for Pixar characters. A short “making of” film on the festival’s website gives a look at the work that went into the project. Our friends at Photos Magiques donated more than 400 Disneyland Paris pictures to help the sculptors refine their works. Head over to their Facebook page to see the full gallery of the finished exhibition from Friday’s special launch event… and don’t make any sudden movements!
Disneyland is moving to Belgium! Well, almost. It was officially announced today that the 2011 Blankenberge International Sand Sculpture Festival will, for the very first time, feature unique recreations of Disney characters and Disneyland Paris landmarks made — you guessed it — out of sand! According to the festival’s website, visitors to the West Flanders seaside resort between 10th June and 12th September this year will get to see “a selection of well-known attractions and unforgettable moments” sculpted out of 3,000 square metres of sand. The result of many months of planning by the Benelux office of The Walt Disney Company, the Magical Moments Festival tie-in promises to be unmissable for those familiar with Disneyland Paris and great promotion for those who aren’t. Will you be able to visit Blankenberge to check out this limited-time Disneysand Paris exhibition?
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.
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.
So Disneyland Paris did sell enough tickets to justify these four after-hours parties? That’s what their official statement sent to ticketholders suggests, with the official reason actually being that the “prolonged refurbishments” throughout the park wouldn’t have allowed the parties to go ahead to the standard of quality Disney originally wanted. With Sleeping Beauty Castle half-covered in scrims, areas closed for repaving and of course the icon of the park’s pirating land, Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship, also soon set to undergo a complete rebuild, that’s probably true — they couldn’t have picked a worse time in the history of Fantasyland and Adventureland to promote a Princesses and Pirates event. Whilst some refurbishment dates have slipped, the final schedules were surely known some time ago now.
An official statement (translated from French) reads:
Mickey’s Princesses & Pirates Party due to take place on 1st, 10th, 17th and 24th June in Fantasyland and Adventureland have been cancelled due to prolonged refurbishments underway in some parts of Disneyland. We are aware of your disappointment regarding the cancellation of these events, however this decision was taken because the current conditions would not permit the event to meet the Disney standard of quality. Disneyland Paris apologise for the inconvenience and thank visitors for their loyalty.
Visitors who have reserved tickets for the evenings can get a refund by contacting our reservation center at 01 60 30 30 30 or their tour operator.
For those who are still visiting the resort on the scheduled dates, in addition to a full refund of the ticket price, we invite you to join us in the space of Hurricane’s Disney Village between 5pm and 8pm on the day of the event originally planned, to spend a moment with our Disney Princesses and Pirates with a refreshing drink.* (*Details to be confirmed upon refunding of ticket)
See anything missing in the photo above? Yes, they’re going to be serving up mushroom soup for months at Rainforest Cafe! Two of the Disney Village restaurant’s three giant toadstools have just been completely demolished to free up space outside the new Earl of Sandwich restaurant. Even more dramatic, another of Frank Gehry’s 36 industrial pillars has been toppled at the same location — the seventh to be removed overall, leaving just 29 remaining.
The view above from the PanoraMagique balloon was captured by “manuchao” on Disney Central Plaza forum and posted with a “before” view by “Festival Disney” on magicforum. Meanwhile Disney Gazette just shared the new, opened-up area as seen from ground level, below.
You’d think opening up this view of the bare white building would mean there are impending plans to do something with it, but who knows. Rainforest Cafe currently only occupies the ground floor (hence why the themeing only extended this high) with the upper floor vacant since Hurricanes Discotheque closed for good over a year ago, signs and theming for which still haven’t been removed. The only rumours for replacement so far have been an Italian restaurant or an extension of the Sports Bar. Hopefully this signals some major changes are coming, either way.
As for Earl of Sandwich, the opening date is set: 1st June 2011. Recruitment ads are now up and a website launched, both featuring a new, finalised version of the concept art for the new eatery:
Large “Earl of Sandwich” lettering is now featured in the middle of the glazing on either side of the building, with the letters due to be curved around the circular tower removed. The bronze band around the building, between the ground floor and mezzanine, now has the company slogans and “Since 1762” imprinted into it and there’s a greater use of red and brown. Rather than a grey wall, the roof is now surrounded by an open railing. We can also see the huge historic map of Europe centring on Great Britain which will fill one whole wall, from floor to ceiling, inside.
Today’s the day — another year, another new festival begins at Disneyland Paris. And this year, it’s the Disney Magical Moments Festival, bringing a big (yet at the same time, rather modest) selection of new character “moments” and entertainments to the parks. Needless to say, there was nothing modest about the anticipated media launch event, which took place over last weekend and included the usual blow-out grand opening show and fireworks to round things off. Over 1,000 media types (plus for the first time ever, and at long last you could say, fan websites like DLRP Today and Photos Magiques) were officially invited along to see Mickey kick things off. Read More…
Friday, 25th March 2011 — what a wonderful day! Not just because the sun was shining brightly over Marne-la-Vallée, nor because temperatures hit a delightful 20 degrees Celsius. No, this was the day a unique gathering of Disneyland Paris blog authors, fan website creators and forum moderators were invited to an exclusive presentation about all the current and upcoming developments in 2011 at the European magic kingdom. As the guy behind both this website and DLRP Magic.com, I was lucky enough to be invited along — the only attendee from the United Kingdom!
Peggie Fariss, the new head of Walt Disney Imagineering Paris led a fascinating meeting with contributions from several more key figures in the upkeep of the parks and resort, unveiling perhaps the most expansive programme of refurbishments and renewals ever seen at Disneyland Paris. With two presentations revealing umpteen pages of news and surprises, a tour of the projects and of course the re-dedication of the Molly Brown riverboat in a fantastic ceremony at Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing, there was a lot to take in and a whole lot to be excited about. So this week, DLRP Today.com will tell you what’s new and what’s next… direct from Disneyland Paris!
If you follow the official Disney Parks Blog you might have already enjoyed the superb “Tilt-Shift” videos of Magic Kingdom and Epcot at Walt Disney World, which turned those grand Disney parks into something resembling a toy train set or stop-motion animated film. Well, great news Disneyland Paris fans — they’ve taken a trip across the Atlantic! A brand new Disneyland Paris tilt-shift video premiered just hours ago today, in honour of the ninth birthday of Walt Disney Studios Park. Take a look above — it’s a seriously beautiful piece of work.
As the Disney Parks Blog explains, “Tilt-shift videos like these use different photo angles, focus settings and color saturation adjustments to make the subject of a photo appear miniature.” And most awe-inspiring, “It took more than seven months and 4,000 photographs to produce this 2:38-minute clip.” The variety of attractions, events and locations captured is truly impressive, far greater than the two earlier single-park videos, successfully making everything from Disney’s Fantillusion to Moteurs… Action! look like a small-scale model magically coming to life. We even get to see the up-scaled Toy Story Playland attractions downscaled again to the size of a toy!
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