Sunday, 22nd April 2007

Radiator Springs’ first spinout

You might have noticed Cars Race Rally missing from yesterday’s article updating progress in the general Toon Studio area, for this is a ‘tea cups’-style attraction that simply knows no boundaries. Compare it to its cousins – The Whirlpool at Tokyo DisneySea and Francis’ Ladybug Boogie at Disney’s California Adventure – and you’re spinning out into a totally different world, no – universe, of Imagineering.

After more than 50 years and countless half-hearted attempts ranging from Flying Carpets to TriceraTop Spin it looks like Disney might finally have an update of a 1955 fairground-style classic to really knock the socks off of its Disneyland Park original.

The first positive is attention to detail, growing day by day and with a strong inspiration from the film, such as the ‘Leaning Tower of Tires’ at the Casa Della Tires storefront or the neon signage for ‘Flo’s V8 Café’ next to the boarding area canopy themed to that same gas station from the movie. Both were added at the very end of March, just in time for the invited press and VIPs given a tour of the area after their 1st April morning press conference.

Jump to 7th April and these photos from Kyoto on Disney Magic Interactive forum show how the area has developed further still. The first horizontal pieces and fixings for wires are being added to the telegraph/electicity pylons in the distance, whilst the huge metal frame attached to the Art of Disney Animation building now features a sweeping backdrop of Cadillac Range and the Radiator Cap rock formations, with a warm blue sky. In the second photo, a new corrugated steel shack construction can be seen at the corner of the Race Rally area, appearing on first glance to be an additional shelter for Cast Members watching over the ride.

The backdrop can be seen in full in the photo by Alain Littaye below. Notice that whilst it covers the entire Art of Disney Animation building from view when in front of Cars Race Rally, it does not reach entirely to the ground as the backdrop of Flying Carpets. Either this will be left as a hint to the “backstage” feel of this part of the queue, or even more scenery and/or planting is still to come.

The second photo, dated 14th April 2007 from, shows the clever way the Imagineers have solved problems of the ugly metal frame behind the 2D board, with extra pieces at either end to make it appear a real part of the Art of Disney Animation building. Whilst still unfinished, this section at the rear of the building also confirms that the building will actually retain a small part of its original yellow/cream colour scheme.

Next, the attention to detail continues with our first look at some of the highly-antipicated neon lights of this new attraction, many of which are now installed and already illuminated. Green neons give a glow to the edges of the Flo’s V8 Café Canopy, whilst others stretch up the yellow, tiled tower of the entrance building toward the large ‘Cars’ logo signage, the metal surround of which has been installed in recent days.

These photos taken over the blue construction walls highlight the amount of work still to be done, particularly to the exposed backstage of the queue line, though other areas are looking much more complete. For example, finished wood and wire mesh fences now border the entire area, a nice rustic touch for what used to be a very clean-cut Studio. The supports of the boarding area roof have been fully themed to their engine inspiration (can anyone name that part?), the ride control kiosk has its final colours, automatic boarding gates are in place and the entire ride area – including its pale red “desert” floor – also looks to be nearing completion.

The sheer level of detail here is quite bewildering, with so many props, locations and Route 66 touches from the film all being recreated in real life for the first time, like the spark plug lights of Flo’s V8 Café…

With the film as inspiration, the Imagineers have obviously sought to recreate absolutely as much as possible within their space and budget constraints. This is clearly seen in the line of storefronts that appear like an Imagineering masterclass in how to theme various types of false walls – the yellow tiles and Californian-styled details of Ramone’s, the faded brickwork of the second façade (not visible), the worn and weathered wooden front of Lizzie’s store and finally the Italian style of Luigi’s Casa Della Tires. All of it tied together with the line of telegraph poles and fun little details like the strings of lights from the Leaning Tower of Tires.

Whilst the telegraph poles have already been claimed by several of the resort’s feathered residents (smaller ones than Donald Duck, don’t worry), the Imagineers obviously took note from the ducks of Adventureland and the birds nest atop the Castle‘s highest spire, since, unlike the film, the Leaning Tower of Tires now features various styles of hubcaps to block the holes inside of its tower.

With so many different details to pour over, you almost forget about the ride itself, but it’s certainly there and looks to be one of Disney’s cleverest fairground-style designs yet. Whilst spinning tea cups and “boogying” ladybugs are in a total land of fantasy, there’s something quite real and convincing about seeing these Pixar-designed cars spinning “out of control” on their figure-of-eight course. With less than a month to the official handover to its operators, the very first tests of Studios’ new race rally have begun!

Click here to see the video on

It was also confirmed recently that one of the songs to be used whilst the ride is in motion will be ‘Life is a Highway’ by Rascal Flatts. Nothing has been confirmed yet about other area music, such as if the queue here will use the general Toon Studio loop as Flying Carpets Over Agrabah does.

If the film was all about taking time out from the daily rush to enjoy life and everything that surrounds us, the attraction looks like the perfect place to do just that.

Photos 3 & 4 by Kyoto on Disney Magic Interactive forum; Photos 5, 7 & 8 by Alain Littaye’s ‘Disney & More’ blog; Photos 6, 9 & 10 by More can be found at all of these sources. Videocaps from video by

Saturday, 14th April 2007

(Video) Flying Carpets over Toon Studio

The life of a Disneyland Resort Paris fan. For the past year, one attraction has become a firm favourite, a must-ride, an unmissable part of every visit – Flying Carpets Over Agrabah!! With the end in sight on the entire Toon Studio project (Walt Disney Imagineering must officially hand over the new attractions to Euro Disney SCA from mid-May), the end could also be in sight for this attraction’s newfound popularity with fans. When you can walk right up to Cars Race Rally, there’s not much need to crane your neck and desperately click away on your camera’s shutter, as your flying carpet swirls around and you begin to regret that ‘Magic Cheeseburger’ from Restaurant En Coulisse.

Heading toward Flying Carpets, there are new things to see and changes to be noticed even before you reach the Genie’s green room, such as the new checkerboard flooring (which still doesn’t seem quite right)…

Or maybe the new lights targeted toward Crush’s outdoor set. Far smaller than the huge lighting rigs on original concepts, these sleek, dark green lights will help illuminate the fresque at night with an undersea glow. Across the courtyard, Animagique is still getting some desperately-needed care and – of course – a new blue colour scheme.

And now, here we are – Flying Carpets Over Agrabah! Ready to go “on set”? We’re not the actors today, we’re the cameramen! Lens focused, shutter finger ready, ready to get your Carpet up high as fast as possible? Here we go…

Full height and our first photo. With just weeks to go, it’s a relief to see work has progressed with incredible speed. Over at Cars Race Rally, you can see the metal frame of the new Flying Carpets-style backdrop, new filmset lights lined up along the turquoise boarding canopy, the “Leaning Tower of Tires” at Luigi’s Casa Della Tires, the Flo’s V8 Café sign awaiting its neons and the dark and dirty wooden storefront of Lizzie’s Radiator Springs Curios. The thick oasis of palm trees block much of the Crush’s Coaster area now, but you can at least see the second tall, green lighting rig and silver queue line railings matching those in front of Flying Carpets.

The general Toon Studio area of course has its recognisable blue twisted lampposts along with new planters marked out, a yellow wall, a grand entrance gate (on the right) and a growing Toon Town backdrop.

On the next swirl of the flying carpet, we look instead to the old Animation Courtyard area and its huge collection of fences. In front of Animagique, a change in the checkerboard pattern can be noticed, creating a zig-zag “sunburst” effect radiating out of the circular edge of the Studio 3 waiting area. It remains to be seen if new planters will be added here, as in several of the early concepts.

Since the canopy and fabric walls of the Arabian viewing platoform have yet to be replaced after the frame was painted purple, a view across to the new attractions is actually a little easier than before. On a close zoom below, you can see not only part of the completed Casa Della Tires storefront but also new lighting attached to the dark wooden poles in front of Crush’s Coaster. Similar, but smaller, blue lights can be seen on metal poles near Cars.

And with that, the Genie has his scene and the ride is over! But now, you can experience the “making of” so many construction updates in the past year with what is perhaps the first video construction update from onboard the Carpets – with all the frantic zooming and twisting to desperately capture a few clear shots. Flying Carpets Over Agrabah will never be the same come June 9th…

Flying Carpets over Toon Studio + Walkaround Tour
Presented in Widescreen Fan-o-Vision
Video by DLRP Today

The video also includes a walk-around tour of Animation Courtyard on 1st April 2007, showing the exact progress of the new and remade land on the first official day of the Anniversary festivities that will launch its new attractions come June.

Listen out in the background, too – hear something different? Yes, that’s the new Toon Studio area loop! A mix of more jazzy music with some laidback piano and lounge, the loop also finally features a selection from Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 along with favourites such as The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast and The Aristocats. More diverse music choices in the mix include The Rescuers and a jazz version of Walt Disney World’s Spectromagic theme! Unlike the old loop, the film scores aren’t always taken directly from their original soundtracks, either – many of the songs are alternate, instrumental versions in a slightly quirky “lounge” style. Some, such as The Aristocats, even appear to be taken from old entertainment productions such as ‘Disney Classics: The Music and the Magic’. The loop first appeared around 30th March, replacing the old, more orchestral loop which was ported over directly from Disney-MGM Studios Florida’s Animation Courtyard. If you’d like to hear more, though, it looks (or sounds) like you’ll have to wait until June – member Kinoo on MagicForum reports the loop has reverted back to the original after these first trials.

Of course, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah isn’t the only angle for Toon Studio updates. As the two attractions have grown above the construction fences, their presence in the land – and across the park – is unmissable, particularly the bright turquoise roof of Flo’s V8 Café, or the round, tiled entrance to the ride itself, seen below receiving some extra touch-ups to its impressive detail and weathering. It’s obvious that, with the June opening of the new area, Walt Disney Studios will suddenly have a huge amount of new icons and detail – not to mention some real themed areas to escape into.

Another angle available thanks to the current construction fence set-up is to try to look as inconspicuous as possible, place your camera on the floor and quickly snap the shutter. From here, we can see some new blue railings around the Cars Race Rally area next to Art of Disney Animation, not to mention a better look at the work going into themeing the canopy of Flo’s V8 Café beyond. In the second photo, paintwork, railings and even posters can be seen in the queue area – a full-zoom revealing the poster advertises Ramone’s House of Body Art, upon which the circular entrance building is based.

Whether you’re a fan or a casual visitor, the impact of Toon Studio on the park – its buildings, its themeing, its icons – is finally starting to be seen from all angles.

Monday, 9th April 2007

Press Release & Concepts: 15th grows with new attractions

Gathered in the Hotel New York convention centre, the press were told that “the celebration doesn’t end here!” as the resort proudly announced it’s ‘Phase 2’ of the 15th Anniversary, leading from the June debut of Toon Studio right up to Stitch Encounter in early 2008.

On the proud occasion for this new, more confident Disney resort, a special press release was prepared, detailing the new attractions and providing new insight and comment from Walt Disney Imagineers working the various projects. The release is presented exclusively in full here:

Disneyland Resort Paris 15th Anniversary Celebration Grows
As Walt Disney Studios Park Adds Attractions, Entertainment

MARNE-LA-VALLÉE, France (April 1, 2007) – Disneyland Resort Paris continues the 15th Anniversary Celebration with the announcement of even more attractions debuting at Walt Disney Studios Park in the coming year, marking the largest expansion in the last five years for Europe’s No. 1 holiday destination.

“Walt Disney once said ‘Disneyland will always be building and growing and adding new things.’ And in that spirit, we continue to take his mission to heart by designing, developing and creating new experiences that will make our Resort unique, memorable and, most important of all magical,” said Karl L. Holz, chairman and chief executive officer of Euro Disney S.A.S. “We’ve come a long way, and we haven’t finished yet.”

Among projects that are part of the yearlong celebration:

Walt Disney Studios Park Expands
With Toon Studio, 3 New Attractions

Walt Disney Studios Park grows with the June debut of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally as part of the new Toon Studio. This colorful area transforms the Park’s Animation Courtyard into a lively “studio backlot” that playfully pays tribute to the art of animation.

Crush’s Coaster is the first coaster-based attraction inspired by the Disney-Pixar film “Finding Nemo”. Guests climbs aboard a turtle shell and plunge into the thrilling world of Nemo and his turtle friend Crush, with sophisticated show lighting, sound effects and imaging technology creating a whimsical whirl through the East Australian current.

“Disney has always been known for creative storytelling, and Crush’s Coaster takes immersive storytelling to the next level,” said Tom Fitzgerald, executive vice president and senior creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering. “Imagineers are pushing the boundaries of technology to bring the worlds and characters of ‘Finding Nemo’ to life in incredible, three-dimensional ways.”

Also premiering in June is Cars Race Rally, the first Disney Park attraction based on the Disney-Pixar film “Cars”. Guests of all ages climb aboard for a zany spinning ride on the famous Route 66, created with dimensional movie sets. At each corner of the track, famous faces from the film are waiting to cheer on drivers. As the rocky desert landscape whizzes past and the canyon walls spiral around, your car crosses the finish line.

A third attraction debuts in early 2008 on the Park’s new Hollywood Boulevard — the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, towering 183 feet. Thr thrill ride will dare guests to board a hotel freight elevator — with a faster-than-the-speed-of-gravity drop through 13 floors. Tower of Terror, already a hit at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland, is one of Disney’s most popular attractions worldwide.

“Hollywood Boulevard is a great example of infusing our story into the physical space through a 1950s Hollywood neighbourhood with dimensional movie sets, color and lighting,” said Fitzgerald.

More Interactive Fun — ‘High School Musical On Tour,’
‘Meet The Robinsons,’ ‘Ratatouille’ Meet ‘n’ Greets

The hottest dance moves and the biggest hit songs from one of the Disney Channel’s most popular entainment phenomenon come to life in “High School Musical On Tour,” a new immersive show for the whole family at Walt Disney Studios Park.

Debuting on a rolling outdoor stage June 16 and performing through Aug. 26, a multi-talented team of entertainers brings the students of East High to France for summer vacation, re-creating the world of East High, a place where best friends break into elaborate musical numbers like magic. Theme Park guests may even find themselves shooting basketball or joining in as the whole street turns into a party while great songs fill the air.

Performed in several languages, it’s a showcase of sing-a-long fun that will invite all ages to be part of a new kind of live entertainment inspired by the highest-rates TV movie in Disney history.

Also this summer at Walt Disney Studios Park, guests can meet the characters from the newest animated Disney-Pixar film. Beginning June 16 in Toon Studio, meet the starts of Disney-Pixar’s upcoming animated feature “Ratatouille”: Rémy, an adorable rat who dreams of becoming a great French chef, and Emile, his roguish friend. And this fall in Toon Studio, meet 12-year-old boy genius Lewis Robinson and the mysterious boy named Wilbur Robinson who whisks him away to the future in the comedic “Meet the Robinsons.”

‘Living Characters’ Debut with Stitch Attraction

Utilizing the latest real-life computer graphics animation technology created by Walt Disney Imagineering, a new interactive Stitch Attraction opens in spring 2008 at Walt Disney Studios Park. The attraction lets guests talk, listen, joke and play with the fuzzy, lovable alien first introduced to audiences in Walt Disney Pictures’ hit comedy, “Lilo & Sttich.”

Because of the interactivity and immersion of this new experience, the guests are the ‘stars’ of the production along with Stitch himself,” said Tom Fitzgerald, executive vice president and senior creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering.

As Guests enter the theater, a Space Traffic Controller scans a galactic communications screen for “active” alien traffic. Stitch is quickly summoned to talk, joke and even flirt, engaging the audience in spontaneous conversation. The show is never the same twice — whether Stitch plays his guitar, dances around the bridge of the spaceship or takes digital photographs of audience members. And no matter where guests are seated, Stitch sees and engages them in non-stop banter.

“It’s the latest milestone in Walt Disney Imagineering’s legacy of bringing Disney characters to life,” said Fitzgerald.

All-New Live Entertainment in Disneyland Park

In Disneyland Park, Mickey Mouse and dozens of Disney characters star in the all-new Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, featuring famous dream moments from Disney stories, and for the first time ever, the floats have fragrances that fill the air, matching the themes of each float. Also for the first time, most of the floats have two themes, one on the front and one on the back.

Music is orchestrated and conducted by noted musician Steve Sidwell, who also wrote the music for films including “Moulin Rouge,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “Finding Nemo,” and was recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.

There are even more opportunities to meet classic Disney characters, including the new Disney Characters’ Express, a specially-designed train that carries the stars down Main Street U.S.A. several times daily. Their musical adventure includes time to meet and greet with guests in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and at special locations added just for the celebration.

And each evening, the park will come to life during Candleabration on the forecourt stage, featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and friends in a lively song-and-dance finale with the backdrop of Sleeping Beauty Castle, artfully adorned with delicate sculptures of 15 favorite Disney Characters with shining birthday candles decorating the turrets.

—– End Release —–

The new additions weren’t just previewed with words. Press were treated not only to a special preview performance of the new ‘High School Musical On Tour‘ show, but also to a glimpse at two brand new pieces of concept art, captured and presented to the ‘outside world’ for the first time by our partner site

The first is a key concept for the new ‘Hollywood Boulevard’ project, showing our own Twilight Zone Tower of Terror surrounded by 1950s Hollywood city buildings, littered with neons, billboards and seating and towering high above the streets below.

Anyone following the project from its first preview at the January Cast Member rendez-vous event may recognise that this is actually one of two concepts designed for the area. As we heard from the Cast Member event, this ‘Bank of Hollywood’ street set development was not the chosen design – the design will instead be more “pueblo deco” and “mediterranean” as the Tower itself, as seen on the new park map.

The new Hollywood Hills tunnel entrance to Studio Tram Tour is also missing, though the concept does certainly give an exciting and atmospheric look at the theme and surprising size of the project – and of course, finally, our first real look at a dedicated concept art created just for this project.

It’s interesting to note also that Imagineers are describing this as a “1950s Hollywood Boulevard”, meaning that, at the time this fictional “film shoot” is set, The Hollywood Tower Hotel would already have been closed for over 10 years (since 1939).

Finally, another concept art – and again, the first one we’ve seen for this particular project. Showing Stitch’s invasion of the current Walt Disney Television Studios building, this concept for Stitch Encounter shows the building decorated with a new, more blue and purple, colour scheme, along with a huge entrance sign featuring the loveable alien himself. A satellite dish is featured atop the current tower, looking like something straight out of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.

A new, circular information board is also featured in front of the attraction, displaying times listings for both French and English performances and matching the Art Deco design of the building itself. The Imagineers working on the new transformation must be relieved that the slight whimsy and futuristic look of the Art Deco building already lends it quite an “outer space” style.

Interestingly, the Disney Channel branding appears to have remained – both on the huge projection screen embedded into the building and atop the new times board. Also of note is that whilst the concept shows a ‘Stitch Encounter’ entrance sign similar to the original attraction in Hong Kong Disneyland, the press release simply states ‘Stitch Attraction’, suggesting the final name has yet to be decided.

With all this announced and released just one day after the launch events and premieres for the 15th Anniversary, it all adds up to a huge range of new additions – bigger, perhaps, than the 50th Anniversary of dear old Disneyland USA itself.

Karl Holz said it perfectly – “We’ve come a long way, and we haven’t finished yet.”

Concept art © Disney; Captured exclusively by

Monday, 9th April 2007

Park Maps join the party, reveal secrets

Guests stepping into one of two Disney Parks at Disneyland Resort Paris on 1st April 2007 were met with a nice early-morning surprise. No, not just the surprise that the previous day’s cloudy, rainy weather had changed quite magically to a beautiful blue sky the moment the press premieres ended…

…But also, a new design for the Park Guide maps and entertainment programmes! Gone is Jiminy Cricket’s guiding presence on the cover and in comes the golden “15” surrounded by characters and their candles, the first redesign of the new-style park maps and programmes since their launch on 7th October 2006.

The biggest change at first glance is without doubt to the Disneyland Park guide, which now sports a flashy gold colour rather than its usual pink, interesting since the anniversary is “only” a fifteenth, rather than, say, a fiftieth.

Both guides have also been scattered with confetti and streamers inside and out, though as you can see here Disneyland Park currently has a far larger ’15’ on its cover than Walt Disney Studios Park – you know, just incase you missed the anniversary number on the banners, Castle, parades, Central Plaza stage, Panoramagique balloon and throughout all of the boutiques! The size could also be symbolise that, right now during the “first phase” of the anniversary celebrations, Disneyland Park has the majority – if not all – of the events.

Inside, the old ‘Wishes’ illustration of Jiminy has been replaced by a 15th Anniversary version, but he still most certainly gives his guiding tips for a good day out. As for the maps themselves, Disneyland Park now features a special 15th Anniversary corner box listing the main events, with ‘A’ and ‘B’ symbols on the map showing locations.

For Walt Disney Studios Park… watch out!! That’s the moment we walk slam into the Partners Statue whilst staring, shocked, at the map… which seems more than a little familiar. Yes, it seems the “work-in-progress” edition we picked apart in great detail (albeit in lower quality) wasn’t quite so work-in-progress afterall – at least for now. As an exciting teaser of what’s still to come during the anniversary year, the map design has switched to an early design of the 2008 park – featuring Crush’s Coaster, Cars Race Rally and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, along with the additions of the Toon and Hollywood projects.

The three major new attractions (Stitch Encounter not included, since Walt Disney Television Studios is still currently operating) are even marked on the key for their respective lands, with opening dates listed as “June 2007” and “Early 2008” respectively. Whilst Crush’s Coaster is already listed as having height and physical restrictions (though exact height isn’t given), the restrictions for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are not currently listed at all.

The map clearly is still a “work-in-progress”, the new Studio Tram Tour backdrop not correctly aligned and the street sets in front of it not featuring their final, expected design. Animation Courtyard and Production Courtyard are also missing all of their planters, giving the impression, bizarrely for a park map, of a far bleaker landscape than in reality.

But, for now, it provides a surprise glimpse into the future for all those thousands – if not millions – of guests who will wander across to the Studios after tiring of the party at Disneyland Park. It will also likely help as an apology and reasoning for any guests shocked at the current state of the park, filled with construction walls. Though now until June at least, Cast Members will be answering, on a daily basis, “how do I get to Crush’s Coaster?!”.

It’s worth also pointing out that even though the map still lists ‘Animation Courtyard’, the new Sorcerer Mickey statue clearly has the words ‘Toon Studio’ beneath, and that the map is valid only until 31st May 2007. From 1st June 2007, then, the land should officially be renamed.

Finally, the Programme guides, formerly known as the ‘Entertainment Programme’, have also been updated with the new 15th Anniversary branding – along with the first times and details for all the anniversary events currently bringing the parks to life.

Photos/scans by DLRP Today – maps © Disney.

Wednesday, 28th March 2007

Radiator Springs becomes reality

One of the most unmissable new sights from Animation Courtyard for many weeks now has been the bright, turquoise gas station canopy of Flo’s V8 Café. Now with a full roof and a clean, modern finish, the canopy has, since our last update, also received some new decor on top, matching exactly that of both the film and the concept art. The spark plugs are mounted on enlarged bolts since, like the film, certain elements of the sets are based on the parts of a car.

The bolts have been given a weathered paint job transitioning from steel grey to a dirty brown, whilst wires can be seen in place all over the spark plugs. Just like the CGI film, neon lights will zig-zag up each spark plug before forming a zig-zag star burst around the top of the plug.

Next door, the part of the building where guests will enter the queue, roughly based on Ramone’s House of Body Art (which is itself based on the U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas), has now taken its final colour and a similar amount of the Imagineer’s trademark weathing treatment. An incredible reproduction, at least from the angle visible so far, of both the location in the film and the real-life inspiration, the accuracy will no doubt help greatly to make sure guests feel as if they’re on a real movie set for the CGI film.

But what do all good movie sets need? A backdrop! Be it a sandy Agrabah or a colourful Toon Town, the Imagineers of Toon Studio already realise how a good backdrop can create an enveloping themed area in a relatively tiny space. Next on the list – Cars Race Rally! Already to be seen rising in the first photo above is the impressive steel frame for this huge new backdrop, due to rise far higher than the buildings themselves to truly reinforce both the grand feeling of Route 66’s scenery and the canyon theme of the ride platform area.

Hiding in the background of various pieces of concept art since the ride’s announcement, the backdrop will be inspired by the film’s Cadillac Range, a series of jagged rocks atop a canyon wall.

Here’s a fun fact – did you know, this is also based on a real-life Route 66 location? No, not an impressive canyon, but instead a piece of public art called Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, where passers-by can see a series of cadillacs cut in half, jutting out of the arid desert landscape. The owners even invite visitors to graffiti the vehicles, meaning their appearance has changed quite a few times in their life. Hopefully guests at Walt Disney Studios won’t be invited to do the same…

From reality, to CGI, to reality – only Disney-Pixar do it this way!

Photos 1-3 by Photos Magiques. You can see even more here.
Photo 4 from Route 66 News blog.

Saturday, 17th March 2007

Work-in-progress Walt Disney Studios

Today’s edition of the newspaper included a special supplement dedicated to the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Resort Paris. A clever publicity stunt from the resort’s Dutch sales office, it includes details of the aniversary events, articles on the history of the resort, an interview with Imagineers and countless travel offers and promotions for trips during the anniversary year. The entire supplement has thankfully been photographed by the members of, including an entirely unprecedented special inclusion on page 9.

To show the impact of its new attractions on the park, a work-in-progress version of the 2007/08 Walt Disney Studios park map has been printed. As with most new attraction additions, the rough plan has been available to the international sales offices of Disneyland Resort Paris for some time. Almost never before though, has a plan such as this been released to the public. It’s a daring move from the Dutch team, and another bold attempt to really make an impression on the public as the anniversary year approaches.

Disney theme park maps always have to power to allow fans to stare away at them for hours, so a map which gives us a look 12 months into the future? Well, there’s a lot to take in…

(Nr.1) Extra plants between Disney Bros Plaza and Toon Studio, with the first appearance of the Sorcerer Mickey entrance statue! Strangely, Mickey is shown as a gold statue as in the latest concept art we’ve seen, rather than the full-colour statue generally expected. The plinth he stands on also appears to match that in the latest concept, mirroring the blue and stars of the Sorcerer Hat.

(Nr.2) The Sorcerer Hat now features golden stars, stripes and moon with its upcoming golden Disney characters also featured. Dumbo in particular can be spotted below the word “Disney”.

(Nr.3) New planting areas in front of Animagique! These were shown in an old piece of concept art which was uncovered recently (see image on, but their inclusion in the final plans for the land still isn’t confirmed.

(Nr.4) The new, extended “oasis” area in front of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah.

(Nr.5) The colours of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah’s backdrop have been updated and the reverse is now purple.

(Nr.6) Crush’s Coaster. With pink rockwork, a hazy queue line (the pink path leading to nowhere) and a different design to Studio 5, this isn’t the most accurate view of the attraction but should be adequate. The logo is featured above the building to match the rest of the attractions on the map.

(Nr.7) The Toon Town backdrop and new Toon Studio area. The Toon Town hills backdrop features only limited buildings, in the exact design of the steel frames recently erected on-site, and the smiley-faced Sun from the 2007 Resort Map and early concept art doesn’t appear. Two planters are featured, and, though hard to make out, there appears to be a yellow, faux Toon Studio security booth at the “entrance gates” to the backlot – a great touch, if it becomes a reality!

(Nr.8) The ImagiNations costuming workshop is no longer featured at all on the plan, with the corner of a plain building just peeping out from behind the Toon Town backdrop. Curiously, there doesn’t appear to be a clear path between Studio Tram Tour and Toon Studio here.

(Nr.9) Cars Race Rally. The large neon “Cars” sign atop the circular entrance building is used as the main symbol of the attraction, with Flo’s V8 Café next door. The area isn’t particularly detailed – only two turntables are shown, as previously seen in the 2007 Resort Map. We’ll have to wait and see if the final version of the map brings further updates.

(Nr.10) Now we’re onto Hollywood Boulevard/Studio – probably the most interesting part of this early plan. As a sign of its work-in-progress nature, two skyscraper buildings appear to have been grafted in from Disney-MGM’s New York street sets, coloured dark red here to likely show they’re only placeholders for a custom design on the final plan.

(Nr.11) The new Studio Tram Tour tunnel entrance and Hollywood Hills backdrop is shown, but hasn’t been matched up to the rest of the plan yet (the old entrance can still be seen behind). The tunnel appears almost identical to that seen on the fresque inside Disney Studio 1.

(Nr.12) The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror itself. The design appears to have been copied over exactly from the Disney’s California Adventure plan.

(Nr.13) A new street now runs diagonally from Place des Stars to Studio Tram Tour, right past The Hollywood Tower Hotel. The Hotel therefore looks likely to have more of an on-street inner-town feel like Tower of Terror at Tokyo DisneySea, rather than the abandoned hillside location of the Florida version. The iconic fountain has retained its position from California, therefore appearing to make the Production Courtyard side the main entrance to the new attraction.

(Nr.14) And finally, most fascinating of all – their current plans for La Terrasse. It appears there will only be a minimal path through to the Tower from Hollywood Boulevard, with the entire current La Terrasse building now surrounded by the new Mediterranean/Pueblo Deco building described previously, creating a new area surrounded by trees and what appears to be a fountain. An outdoor terrace seating area appears to be featured behind the sets, looking across the street to Tower of Terror. Across the boulevard, the Gone Hollywood storefront can be seen.

The Walt Disney Television Studios and Rendez-Vous des Stars/Backlot Express buildings have also been shrunk compared to the current map, and extra plants and details have yet to be added to Production Courtyard and Toon Studio.

And there we have it. Disney theme park maps are never the most accurate of plans, but this certainly gives a fascinating look at the bare minimum of additions and improvements currently being worked on.

Imagine… in just 12 months’ time this won’t be work-in-progress, this will be Walt Disney Studios Park. Now, that really is a Studio of dreams…

Many thanks to Pantagor and the members of for sharing this plan!

Friday, 16th March 2007

Dates confirmed on the Studios’ 5th

Is this an anniversary “just like we dreamed it” ? Surely, it has to be even better! Not only are four new attractions due to open in the next 12 months, but half of the park is currently being transformed with new themeing to form Toon Studio and Hollywood Studio. And if that wasn’t enough, perhaps the one remaining disappointing corner of the park has finally received the final nail in its coffin…

Just last week, our partner site reported that the final closure date for Walt Disney Television Studios (the Television Production Tour) has now been confirmed to Cast Members. The attraction, which was never a great success (and became a source of both humour and embarrassment for fans), will officially close for good on 16th April 2007 to allow preparations for Stitch Encounter to begin. Farewell Julie… may your glorious singing and unforgettable hairstyles bring great joy to all in Yester-WDS!

For months now, the opening date of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally has been thrown around all over, from an originally confirmed 10th June opening to the more recent rumours of a 17th June opening, as Disneyland Resort Paris sat quietly in the corner and laughed… But perhaps there was a reason – since today, on the 5th birthday of the park, they have finally broken the wall of silence and announced a final, confirmed opening date… 9th June 2007!

The announcement comes from the official anniversary website,, though it appears the previously confirmed press event of 16th/17th June 2007 will still go ahead. The reason for this week delay is perhaps the grand opening of TGV Est on 10th June 2007, a new high-speed line to Eastern France that will open up many new destinations to both Paris and the resort itself. To ensure maximum possible coverage for these two incredibly important new attractions, then, the press will have to wait a week longer than guests for their grand premiere.

So – birthday popcorn all-round! This production is finally coming together, and with all the style and grace you’d expect from a tribute to the magic of the movies.

Tuesday, 6th March 2007

Progress in pictures at Toon Studio

Beginning with the familiar view over Cars Race Rally, something here will catch your eye as interesting progress. The whole area has suddenly become surrounded by large wooden poles and posts of various sizes, most surrounding the ochre desert rocks. Though we can’t be sure if they’ll remain this size, they appear to be ready to act as path barriers and to help restrain the extra greenery due to arrive in this area, eventually forming a large natural sheild around the canyon from the courtyard outside Animagique.

However, a series of far larger poles could have a different story. Roughly bordering the future Route 66 leading from the Crush’s Coaster entrance to the far edge of the Cars area, their height gives the impression of large telegraph poles, a common sight along Route 66. Though perhaps currently, at least, their vast height is too large even for this when compared to the miniaturised canyon below. We’ll definitely keep you posted on this one. (oh yes!)

The poles even appear to tower above the Toon Town backdrop, seen above, which has now added a few more metal frames to its collection. These will eventually be the supports for various buildings in the faux environs of Toon Studio.

A few short steps and there’s even more progress to see, this time with paint and primer. Paint, for the side wall of the Crush’s Coaster dark-ride building. After the installation of the stunning “fresque” early last month, the wall to its left has finally received colour, leaving only the longer section of the building, to its right, without its ocean blue finish.

The primer is, of course, for Disney Studio 3. After several months of “will they”/”won’t they”, the front wall of the Animagique theatre was finally wrapped in scaffolding late last month and has already lost its classic yellow to a fresh coat of white primer. The building will almost certainly be repainted in the same blue as Art of Disney Animation and Disney Studio 5, completely tying the land together in a single, different colour scheme. No signs of work on the rear wall facing Front Lot have yet been reported, and, since blue here would throw off the entire park entrance, it’s safe to say this will remain yellow.

Now, whilst not an incredible step in the transformation of the land, it’s nice to see that the new planter in front of Art of Disney Animation (added last October) has now received some extra plants amongst its tall, stylised trees. No signs of a barrier around the planter yet, though this will perhaps be added along with the Sorcerer Mickey statue and his arch of stardust.

Time for the most major part of our update today – a unique look at the rapid progress made on Cars Race Rally recently. Specifically, the queue line buildings and boarding area. The photo above shows the circular entrance building with the pistachio-green Flo’s V8 Café canopy on the far right. Concrete flooring and queue line barriers can already be seen, and some very traditional Route 66 tiles have already been applied to the bare concrete of the circular building.

Finally, two photos exclusive to DLRP Today from Photos Magiques! Over the temporary fence next to Art of Disney Animation, the zoom lens focuses in further on the queue and boarding area, giving a very first look at the more industrial, “backstage” area of this Pixar “film set”. To familiarise yourself with the layout of the attraction, take a look at the map here.

In the first photo, one of the two boarding areas and the ride’s main control booth can be seen. The boarding areas will be used to group the correct number of guests ready for the two pairs of turntables, and the gas station themeing of Flo’s V8 Café can already be clearly seen. Rounded concrete footers and gas pump-themed supports will enclose guests, whilst the booth is themed somewhat like the pay kiosk of a Route 66 filling station. Buttons and control equipment can already be seen inside.

The second photo turns the lens as far to the left as possible, with the attraction entrance and Radiator Springs storefronts directly ahead. Upon entering the queue, guests will walk through several indoor corridors inside these “film set” buildings, before then stepping outside to this “backstage” canopy-covered area. The bare concrete form of the paths can be seen, and many of the queue line railings are already in place.

All three of these photos also show the height difference very clearly – once out of the higher entrance building, the paths lead down a small gradient into the Flo’s V8 Café boarding area seen above. This adds not only to the effect of the “canyon” ride area but to the general immersiveness of the entire Toon Studio area.

So much progress from every angle! And all in a park named after the champion of progress, Mr Disney himself. The themeing seems on an entirely different level to the rest of the current park, taking you into different, foreign lands, and they’re still not done! The next few weeks should see even more construction walls descend on the land, as the tarmac flooring is replaced with a more “Disney” alternative and Flying Carpets Over Agrabah receives a long-awaited, three week refurbishment.

And so, to end, a photo dug up from the archives, taken little over one year ago, that truly shows the power of progress…

Click Here and remember what we’ve left behind!

All photos by Photos Magiques. You can see the full collection here.

Thursday, 1st March 2007

That new car smell !

It was confirmed back in 2006 that, unlike the designs shown on much of the attraction’s concept art, the vehicles would not be characters from the film. Instead, to give the “Race Rally” its own story and identity, they would be new, unique vehicles, yet cars which could certainly be from the “Cars” universe. Aside from that, nobody quite knew what to expect – until these first photos were posted by Frank on MagicForum and the e-pinions began speeding in.

The new introductions to the Cars world certainly have a unique look. Beyond the familiar hood/bonnet-noses, windscreen eyes and grill moustaches, the cars have a very stylized raised back, dotted with red break lights. The rear wheels are either missing or hidden, and the cars feature many nods to those which may have populated Route 66 in its heydey – such as metallic fins, chevrons and raised headlights. Whilst the characters in the film were designed as ultra-realistic real-life car models, the more abstract and cheeky design of these little vehicles gives the currently very well-mannered Toon Studio one its first truly “toonish” icons.

The cars work wonders for the forced perspective of their Route 66 desert surroundings, too. The miniaturized Willy’s Butte rock formation suddenly appears to tower over the entire area, thanks to the ride platform being 1 metre below ground level, whilst the earthy, deep colours mix with the turquoise of Flo’s V8 Café canopy and the brown rockwork to give a real sense of place like nothing else at the Studios.

Like Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups at Disneyland Park, the spinning cars only come in a select palette of colours – red, blue and teal. They feature two seating rows but, from these photos, it is hard to confirm how many guests will be able to fit into each. It could certainly be possible that only one adult will fit in each row, though two handrails are featured for both.

The boarding area, themed to Flo’s V8 Café, has also progressed a great deal from our last update on the attraction. The full, turqoise roof is now in place and themeing has begun on the brown supports, the location (in the film, at least) of the gas pumps. With new planting added to the area, the cars installed and themeing begun, the photo above right already bears a good resemblance to the key concept art featured on the construction walls.

Finally, a look at the current state of the general Toon Studio expansion area – in particular the wall at the back of the land, which has now been fully constructed and prepared for painting. At the gateway on the far right, several steel frameworks are now in place for the buildings of the Toon Town backdrop which will enclose this area of the land, placing the backlot of Toon Studio within its own theme world.

Thanks to Frank on MagicForum for all photos featured. You can see more here.

Tuesday, 20th February 2007

Backstage at the Race Rally

After some footage from the scene in the Pixar film itself which inspired the attraction, the video quickly switches to a shot of a four-angle elevation for a yellow car, which surely must be the life-size Luigi we saw a few weeks ago.

The camera then pans upwards to show a 3D sculpt of the new ride vehicles, certainly in the style of the cars from Cars, but not without their own unique charm. The tall rear spoiler in particular is a very stylised addition that will make these vehicles stand out from the others in their very realistic landscape, and certainly give the attraction a much more “Toony” style.

Next we see work on a larger scale model of one of the vehicles, which will total 12 and have infact just been installed on-site this week.

Finally, an interesting view over the Toon Studio area from above the loading area of Cars Race Rally, before the video presents several pieces of concept art, of which only the piece shown above has never been seen before. It shows a neon sign with the “V8” logo, as well as the storefronts to the right of the attraction entrance. A backdrop to the attraction is provided by one of the film’s iconic rock formations, but it remains to be seen how much of this will make it off the drawing board.

Whilst some may fear the trouble Disneyland Resort Paris might be causing itself by marketing a “simple” tea-cups-style attraction so heavily, there still seems no doubting the excellent care and attention this relatively minor addition is thankfully receiving.

Stills taken from video on

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