Videopolis Theatre in Discoveryland saw a packed house at 10.45am on 12th April 2012, as the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors welcomed legendary Imagineer Tony Baxter to the stage for a one hour discussion of its history, creation and progress “from concept to reality”. From broader points about the challenges his team faced in bringing a Disney park to Europe, he went on to discuss his favourite hidden details in the park, anecdotes of meeting Walt Disney, and even shares his very own version of the contested Phantom Manor storyline…
Couldn’t make it there yourself? We’re proud to present our own, exclusive video of the entire event for you now, above — including the special appearance of all the worldwide Disney Ambassadors from every resort to pose questions to Tony himself.
It was another round of bad publicity for Frontierland‘s biggest attraction on 27th October when one of the trains at Big Thunder Mountain suffered a minor derailment, but luckily this turned out to be a blink-and-you-miss-it blip for the ride. On the evening of Thursday 27th October, a coach near the back of one train derailed before the second lift hill in the middle of the ride, causing it to lift off the rails on a straight piece of track. Travelling at “low speed”, according to reports, there were thankfully no officially recorded injuries and all guests we safely evacuated from the island.
The attraction closed immediately, as pictured in the photo from 28th October above, but ultimately only remained shuttered for three full days. It reopened on Monday 31st October, just in time for the sold-out Disney’s Halloween Party that evening, having been deemed safe to resume service after all the necessary checks and verifications. Visitors such as member sfr31 on Disney Central Plaza have remarked that the ride was nevertheless operating at reduced capacity, with long queue lines and only three trains in operation. Reports of the incident — from its possible causes to the coaches which derailed and even the exact location of the derailment — have been contradictory to say the least, though a photo of the train has now appeared on the website of a South of France news service.
This incident clearly has no connection to that at the ride in April earlier this year, when a piece of fibreglass scenery fell and injured a guest, but no doubt its Cast Members will be hoping the “wildest ride in the wilderness” stays out of the headlines for the foreseeable future.
You won’t be climbing up into the branches of the classic Swiss Family Treehouse in Adventureland again in 2011, we can now say with some certainty. The latest round of Closure and Refurbishment dates to November 2011 confirms that La Cabane des Robinson will be closed for the entire period, right up to 30th November. Internal sources suggest even this new “until” date is conservative, with the closure now certain to continue into 2012.
What’s going on at the Treehouse, the visual icon of Paris’ Adventureland? You tell us. No really, please do. The multi-levelled walkthrough up and around the branches of the giant steel tree just happened to close right after the incident at Big Thunder Mountain on 25th April, when a piece of scenery fell and caused the brief hospitalisation of one guest. As well as immediately shuttering Big Thunder for repairs, adding one week to an already-planned closure, Disneyland Paris reportedly switched off all mechanical effects which come close to ride tracks or are situated above or close to guests.
Let no-one make any ridiculous conclusions that the tree is about to collapse. In fact there’s nothing definite to say these events are actually linked, and this could likely be more a part of the Guest Safety department’s recent generalised jitters around the parks than anything else. The same over-cautious (or depending on your view, perfectly cautious) bearing that saw the benches of Le Theatre du Châteauspaced out far enough to (supposedly) prevent children jumping between them or the long-standing Rocher Qui Bascule (the “rock which rocks”, a wobbling boulder just below the treehouse) made permanently static with a lump of concrete, to give just a couple of examples.
The Swiss Family Treehouse is a Disneyland classic, operating at Magic Kingdom, Florida and Tokyo Disneyland, whilst a refreshed version titled Tarzan’s Treehouse operates at Disneyland, California and Hong Kong Disneyland. The Disneyland Paris version is markedly different than all four, occupying a much higher, more prominent position at the heart of the land. Many of the elements around the tree, such as the shipwreck with a floating bridge passing through it, are directly tied in to the Swiss Family Robinson story, which was made into a 1960 film by Walt Disney.
Hold onto your hats and glasses: Big Thunder Mountain has re-opened! Disneyland Paris made the surprise announcement on Friday via Twitter, revealing that the Frontierland roller coaster would re-open to guests just a day later, on this past Saturday, a week earlier than expected. This follows its planned three-week refurbishment and, of course, that incident back at the end of April — which saw a decorative fibreglass rock above the track fall and injure five guests.
As it happens, the closure this forced upon the ride, one week before the planned closure, seems to have brought forward the whole refurbishment and finished it a week ahead of schedule. At least you can’t criticise Disneyland Paris for wasting time, even if the circumstances were less than desirable. The refurbishment has primarily seen the whole mountain regain its full ochre lustre, which had been fading following the previous 2006 repaint (and this time they even promised to remember the Rainbow Arch) as well as restoring various small effects. On-board, a magicforum member suggests that, while you can’t see anything visibly missing in the fateful final lift tunnel, none of the faux-rocks overhead (supposed to simulate an earthquake caused by miners’ dynamite explosions) were moving.
Here’s the latest on Big Thunder Mountain following the incident on Monday which saw four guests injured and one taken to hospital. It now appears to be confirmed that the attraction won’t reopen before 27th May 2011 — that is, before the end of the already-planned refurbishment which had been pencilled in some time ago for 9th to 27th May 2011. This lengthy closure will primarily see the entire mountain (and this time, also the Rainbow Arch) repainted in its rich ochre colour, a task last completedalmost five years ago in October 2006. This seems like an obvious and sensible outcome, to roll the closures into one, and the park is perhaps “lucky” with the timing of the incident (if you can use those words) that this is possible. Rumours circulating that the ride will be “closed for three months” should be disregarded at this point. The photo above, taken today by InsideDLParis on Twitter, shows green refurbishment walls now positioned in front of the entrance.
As for the incident itself, latest word is that the faux rock made of fibreglass didn’t fall directly onto a trainload of passengers but onto the track. It was then hit by the train as it passed, launching the debris which injured five of the 25 riders. As noted on Monday, four of those guests, from outside of France, returned to the park after being treated on the scene. The condition of a 38-year old Frenchman who was taken to hospital was clearly stated to not be life-threatening. Le Parisien reports his wife and two children were being accommodated again by Disneyland Paris on Tuesday night. A prosecution against Euro Disney Associés SCA has been opened for the man’s temporary incapacity for work following the injuries, and the Chessy police service continue to investigate. A spokesperson for the company has stated this is the first incident of its kind since the resort opened in 1992.
Big Thunder Mountain in Disneyland Park has been temporarily closed following an incident at around 2.50pm earlier today. An element of decorative rockwork is reported to have come loose, striking guests riding the Frontierland mine train roller coaster. Five injuries are now confirmed, including one guest “seriously” injured — a 38-year old man who was apparently struck on the head by the faux boulder, made of fibreglass and wood, and has been taken to Beaujon hospital in Clichy-sur-Seine (Hauts-de-Seine) with a head injury. Initial reports had suggested this was merely a precautionary measure and a spokesperson later appeared to downplay the seriousness of the injury in a statement given to the AFP, clearly stating it was not life-threatening. According to Le Parisien, his family will be accommodated and looked after by Disneyland Paris tonight and for any duration he may remain in hospital. The four other guests, with only minor injuries, were treated on the spot and returned to the park.
The prop rock is said to have fallen in the final lift hill scene (“Lift C”), where the train climbs amid a simulated rumbling earthquake as the faux rockwork creaks and moves overhead. As is procedure, the attraction remains closed until further notice pending a full investigation.
Disney_ParisEN: Incident at BigThunderMountain: our thoughts are with the family of the guest injured while waiting further information about his condition. (9:05AM) The safety of our guests and cast members being our top priority, BTM remains closed until further notice as we investigate the incident. (9:06AM)
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!
The first extra-ticket night of 2009 took place last Friday, 9th October, with three more Not-So-Scary parties still to come on the 16th, 23rd and 27th. The nights give guests special access to Disneyland Park from 8pm to 11pm for exclusive entertainment, character meet ‘n’ greets and far more attractions than in 2008.
Last year confined to Fantasyland, the party has spread in 2009 to include Frontierland, as far as Big Thunder Mountain and Phantom Manor, plus Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland. Main Street, U.S.A. and Central Plaza also now play a role, whilst the tally of attractions open in Fantasyland now stands at seven — including Peter Pan’s Flight and “it’s a small world”.
If reports from the first party are anything to go by, the queues — particularly outside of Fantasyland — are definitely on the light side. Kaleo on Disney Central Plaza forum, for example, notes a wait of just 5 minutes posted at Big Thunder for the entire party, although these events do grow in attendance as we get closer to Halloween itself.
So far as attractions, it’s looking good for your €25 entrance. But what of the special entertainment? Our thanks to DCP member fandlrpstyle for sharing the full programme online:
Last year’s Merlin and the Witch Academy show returns at the Castle Courtyard for three performances at 20:30, 21:30 and 22:30, whilst Fantasy Festival Stage hosts regular performances of its Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too show, just the same as the daytime version.
The real highlight of the entire event, however, happens out on Central Plaza, where the new stage has been put to fantastic use for the huge new show “Le Spectacle Pas-Si-Trouille d’Halloween” — Disney’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Show, as announced by show director Emmanuel Lenormand. Here’s a full video by Vidimouse:
This lengthy 20-minute spectacle has a pleasingly large (for Paris) cast of dancers and characters, as Mickey arrives in his purple Halloween suit to enjoy a “Not-so-scary” night amongst his Disney friends.
From Snow White to Belle, to a surprising (but very welcome and fitting) focus on The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the first half of the show sees a medley of relatively peaceful song and dance numbers. But, you’ve guessed what’s coming — Maleficent. Bursting up through the stage, just like her appearance in It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends during the day, she speaks live — and in English!! — to tell Mickey that Halloween should be scary. And then, we see the show again — from the Villains’ point of view, with the relevant villain theme songs and characters for each of the films just presented.
Happening twice each night during the events, at 9pm and 10pm, the show makes great use of a number of investments made around the area in recent years — the high-powered spotlights either side of the Castle, the new stage lifts and the on-stage pyrotechnic effects installed just this month. Though the numbers involved might restrict such a wish, this is probably the kind of thing we should have had every night during Halloween, rather than the small “cameo” within the regular Central Plaza show.
Closing the Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties is a cavalcade, just like last year. Except this time, it’s not the Disney Characters’ Express travelling down the Disneyland Park parade route but… Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars! Here’s another full video with thanks to Vidimouse:
Aside from the music, taken from Walt Disney World’s Disney Villains Mix and Mingle event, and a few extra characters, there’s little done to put a Halloween stamp on the regular Walt Disney Studios Park parade. It’s a unique chance to see the cars filing down Main Street, but probably not “special” enough for a special party night.
However, being given a few more free packets of Haribo — now the official “treats” of Halloween in Disneyland Paris, and handed out after each event during the party — when the cavalcade stops on Town Square, probably sweetens (sorry) the deal, right? Well, it helps.
For only their second year, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties have really grown up.
If you’ve tried the print-at-home E-Tickets from www.disneylandparis.com already, you’ll know how convenient they are. Sure, you’re left with a boring, printed sheet of A4 paper — hardly something to keep as a souvenir — but they mean you can grab tickets almost instantly, days or even minutes before heading to the parks, skipping that queue at the gate.
But until now, there’s always been a critical downside — how do you collect Fastpass tickets? The short-term answer from Disneyland Paris has before now been to hand out blank or “dummy” collection tickets to E-Ticket holders at the gate, causing some long, slow-moving queues on busy days as the system is explained. The same size as regular park entrance tickets, these simply let you collect Fastpasses from the regular machines.
Fastpass machines at Big Thunder Mountain have been given brand new ticket readers. The reader on the right is for magnetic strips, allowing you to collect a Fastpass by vertically swiping your regular park entrance ticket or Annual Passport. This is different to the old style machines, which required guests to insert their entire ticket and wait for it to be ejected back, taking a considerably longer amount of time.
Brand new, however, is the reader just to the left. As the simple illustration suggests, it’s an optical barcode reader specifically for print-at-home E-Tickets!
Why is that so great? Aside from the natural behaviour of a Disneyland Paris fan being to jump with excitement at any minor change — because it might finally return some fairness to the system. Those white dummy tickets, if you’ve never encountered them, basically grant Fastpass-printing privileges for life. They’re like something those bad guys from Pinocchio might taunt you with as you skip innocently down Main Street. Once you’ve got one, it’s hard not to use it unfairly.
Here’s the thing: They still operate with the same delay for your next ticket, but aren’t dated whatsoever. So, if you were given one back in May, you can use it on your next visit alongside your new ticket. And again, and again. Some frequent and local visitors have built up such a collection that they rely on a pocketful of dummy tickets to collect up Fastpass tickets for everything, all at once, snubbing any queue over 20 minutes.
And if you thought those long-standing rumours from every Disney resort of Fastpass becoming a solely paid-for system were only that, you’re… almost wrong. Type “Disneyland Paris Fastpass” into eBay (well, don’t) and you’re confronted by a dizzying list of these tickets, priced anywhere up to, say, £40 (€43).
They’ve spawned a kind of “black market” that has reaped substantial profits for those hoarding the tickets, at the expense of regular visitors, which the resort appears to have turned a blind eye to. Hardly fair for those who play by the rules with tickets or queue up properly.
So yes, this Fastpass development should be very positive in the long run — the blank dummy tickets will begin to dry up, at least. But the thing is — and we hate to blow the lid on another Fastpass trick — according to members at Disney Central Plaza, old entrance tickets still work.
Yes, if you didn’t know, you can often just insert (or now, swipe) your ticket from your last trip and collect an extra Fastpass, just like that. This isn’t just the case in Paris though, but a flaw of the system at other resorts too, so let’s overlook it for now and instead finish on a spot of praise for the end of dummy tickets and the start of a beautiful new relationship between E-Tickets and Fastpass. It’s about time.
Reopening day itself, Saturday 14th October, was reportedly an eventful one. Scrooge at Disney Magic Interactive forum reported that just seconds after opening the whole of Frontierland was closed, before reopening a few minutes later. Big Thunder Mountain itself didn’t open until after midday, and suffered several technical problems throughout the day.
As for the refurbishment, which began on 21st August, whilst Big Thunder itself was cleaned and repainted in sections before the closure and during its early stages, impressive changes have taken place at the attraction’s loading station recently. The most noticable of these to mine train riders is the addition of new safety gates on each platform, similar to those installed in 2005 at Space Mountain: Mission 2. Unlike the gates at other attractions, though, these have been themed to fit perfectly with the attraction, with the seams of the metal bars made clearly visable to give an old-fashioned, Western style.
Outside of the station building itself, the difference between old and new is remarkable. The classic red tint on the wood has been restored to its full glory after becoming practically invisible due to years of weathering and neglect.
The ochre rockwork around the station has been cleaned just as spectacularly as the mountain itself, and the Southern sides of the queue building have had their vibrant yellow tint restored, completing the ride’s iconic Western colour scheme of brown, red, yellow and green (the wagons). Meanwhile, a new height indicator is just one of the many minor tweaks and modifications to the attraction.
The only way to truly experience the superb changes here, though, is to take a ride on “the wildest ride in the wilderness” itself. Whilst every turn presents new areas of rockwork painstakingly cleaned and repainted, one of the key scenes with a lot of new vibrancy is just after the first lift hill, where all manner of spiky cacti grow in the middle of a u-turn in the track, seen below. Finally, the moss and dirt have been removed to return the arid, desert feel to this incredible landscape.
Adjustments have, of course, been made to the more major elements of the ride, such as the roller coaster’s track (in particular the first lift hill), animatronics and special effects. Whilst some effects were reportedly not functioning this weekend, it is expected they will all return eventually.
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