Saturday, 24th February 2007

Buzz Lightyear makes the final 15

Yes, the 1990s icon himself, Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear will soon be touching down in Disneyland Park for a second time, almost exactly one year after his own attraction, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, was inaugurated. But don’t fear – this time, Buzz won’t be replacing anything!

When we first saw the anniversary castle visuals back in July 2006 and realised decorations were being prepared, a quick count up of the character groups gave exactly fifteen – but with Mickey and Minnie counted separately. Now, it looks like the happy Mouse couple have joined together to allow a new fifteenth star to join, and Mr. Lightyear is apparently the “chosen one” to represent Pixar’s Disney classics.

2006 Visuals showing Winnie the Pooh / Pinocchio

This isn’t the first time we’ve noticed a change in the characters featured on the castle. In October 2006, all of the resort’s travel marketing visuals were updated overnight to suddenly replace Winnie the Pooh with Pinocchio and Figaro.

But, since the turret Buzz Lightyear will occupy was left free on all of those advertising visuals, it’s likely that he has been a planned character since the start – removed from visuals only to avoid the constant “inspired by Disney/Pixar’s…” disclaimer currently being slapped on everything to do with Crush and Cars.

New concept art shown at shareholder AGM

The new concept art first shows all fifteen characters (or groups of characters) floating in silver bubbles, before showing the final design of the highly anticipated Character Castle Makeover.

Disneyland Resort Paris have confirmed that the decorations will begin to arrive after St. Patrick’s Day, 17th March 2007, and will be added one-by-one overnight so avoid ruining the guest experience during the day. The redecorated castle will be “unveiled” (or rather “inaugurated”) on 31st March 2007 during the huge press events before the first “official” day of the anniversary year, 1st April 2007.

The addition of a Pixar character might cause some annoyance for those against the recent surge of park influence from the studio, but their effect on Disney and the world of animation shouldn’t be forgotten. For a ’90s child like Euro Disneyland, Buzz Lightyear seems the perfect icon to make up the fifteen and help take the anniversary “To infinity and beyond!”.

You didn’t think I’d get through the whole article without saying that, did you?

Concept art © Disney, captured by Mouetto on Disney Central Plaza forum.

Wednesday, 10th January 2007

Cast Member rendez-vous of dreams

Almost all the information in this article and those to follow was reported by La Rouquine on the French Disney Central Plaza forum, giving the fan community an excellent service with not a moment wasted in reporting the exciting confirmations!

The Cast Member event first confirmed the general anniversary events, such as the character castle decorations to definitely be a bronze/gold colour. The “Bougillumination” (Candle Illumination) ceremony will take place every evening during the celebration (1st April 2007 to 31st March 2008) on a special stage in the middle of Central Plaza, featuring Mickey and the other classic characters. The ceremony show is more and more appearing to be a birthday version of The Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony, with different illuminations and minus the Disney Princesses. It will be accompanied by the song from the parade interaction stops of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, more on that later…

The previously rumoured “Character Train” cavalcade was also confirmed, to parade around Main Street USA at several times early each day using popular characters and the Dumbo Casey Jr float from The Wonderful World Of Disney Parade – reportedly to be repainted gold, silver and blue for the occasion. This event uses a similar idea to the classic Good Morning Main Street mini-parade from many years ago, or perhaps the Cavalcade de Stitch from 2006’s Halloween.

As for the rest of the current and recent parade floats, many of them 15 years old themselves, La Rouquine reports none will be kept except those of Snow White (often converted for other uses) and Cinderella. It remains to be seen, then, what will happen for the Halloween and Christmas parades this year.

Still on the subject of parades, more secrets from Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade have surfaced whilst others have been confirmed. There will be two sections to the music. The first, individual float scores, will be based on themes from the animated films presented, reorchestrated for the parade (by Steve Sidwell – see our report from last week). The second will be a new theme song, written especially for the anniversary events and used during the parade’s interaction stops.

Whilst La Rouquine reports the new song is sung in English by a couple (and reviews it favourably), we can add that its full title is “Just Like We Dreamed It”. The parade will apparently stop on average four times during its course, therefore amounting to a single parade stop for those watching. The stops will allow the Disney characters to interact with the audience.

The idea of scents used during the parade is confirmed once again, with examples being the smell of sweets from the first float (Dream of Imagination, with Mickey and friends) and the smell of flowers from the Princesses’ garden float, Dream of Romance. The specialised artists replacing the dancers have been discussed for quite some time, and now several interesting examples are given. Jugglers with (false) fire for the villains’ Dream of Power float, bungee rope acrobats for Pinocchio’s Dream of Laughter and Fun, stilt walkers with puppets also for Pinocchio and finally flag throwers for Peter Pan’s Dream of Fantasy.

Cast Members will wear the badge of the anniversary with special commemorative name tags featuring the 15th Anniversary logo and generic “Where dreams come true” slogan of Disney Parks, as seen below:


But how to get the word out outside of the resort? They’ve got that covered too – will soon be host to a dedicated website for all the anniversary events! It was announced at the rendez-vous that the design is already completed, but the website won’t be launched just yet. (Last year, the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast website launched in early February, with the attraction also opening early April.)

Member tom_swiss on the same forum adds information about other elements of the advertising campaign on display at the event, which runs several days to allow all Cast Members to visit, in particular the decoration of several RER or Métro stations. The stations will be entirely dedicated to the anniversary, with stars and a red carpet on the floor and Disney characters on the walls in a very impressive advertising campaign.

One of the key desires with the 15th Anniversary campaign is to attract more families with younger children, since research has shown this to be an underdeveloped area of custom as parents generally wait until their children are older before visiting. And so, in addition to improved advertising, the popular “Kids Free” campaign from the early months of each year will be transferred to the entire celebration, but only for children under 7. La Rouquine reports that if it the idea is successful it could be extended beyond the anniversary year.

Finally, La Rouquine adds that special entrance tickets will be produced for the anniversary year, giving the biggest design change since the opening of Walt Disney Studios Park in 2002. 1-Day/1-Park tickets will be given a purple colour, whilst Passe-Partout (Park Hopper) tickets will be gold. Each will feature one of the fifteen characters holding a candle (though not all the character graphics will be used), with a total of around 8 different ticket designs for each option – and a surefire hit for Disney collectors? This follows the introduction of special 15th Anniversary-styled Annual Passports in November 2006.

Overall, Karl Holz clearly stated his desire to concentrate all resources and use all means to continue to raise the level of the quality of service at the resort. With all that listed above, he certainly knows how to motivate the cast!

Wednesday, 3rd January 2007

Castle characters go Gold for the 15th

The large image next to the article confirms the design, with Daniel Delcourt stood next to the giant head of the Goofy statue itself, fully painted in metallic gold. When the decorations were first unveiled in July, and confirmed with later artworks released in July and October, they were shown as fifteen full-colour statues sitting on top of the castle’s turrets. It appears that either these artworks were produced full-colour for better marketing, or a drastic design change has taken place. Behind Delcourt in the article’s photo below, a new version of the following artwork can be seen, with fifteen shimmering, gold, statues filling the spires of the castle…

The article also confirms that the decorations will be added between the 18th and 30th of March, with Europe’s largest cherry-picked crane arriving to complete the job. This also means a full renovation of the castle is unlikely, with current rumours suggesting a refurbishment after the anniversary, in 2008, is now more likely. However, whilst gold statues could be considered more for a 50th than a 15th, the co-ordination with the castle’s large amount of existing gold elements should make these decorations even more tasteful – there’s certainly not a birthday cake or jester hat in sight!

Series: Backstage at the park (2/5)

Awakening Sleeping Beauty Castle

To celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Park, the park’s teams at Marne-la-Vallée (Seine et Marne) are assembling themselves ready. This is the next in our series on those who, in the shadows, are preparing the festivities, due to begin 1st April.

A series of pink files pile up on top of the desk. The 15th anniversary of Disneyland Paris in figures and forecasts. Aged 44, Daniel Delcourt, responsible for the shows and parades division of Disneyland Paris, directs the teams who are imagineering the festivities. His greatest mission: to redecorate the famous Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.

The spires of each turret will soon be lifted, to allow fifteen statues representing famous members of the Disney family to take their place. Perched on golden crowns, they will each be given a candle which will be lit each evening. Tinkerbell, godmother of the anniversary, will circle around the summet of the castle. In mid-March, the “only cherry picker in Europe” capable of lifting fifteen people up to 45 metres into the air will allow the statues to be positioned on the spires. The operation, at night, will take place incredibly fast: between the celebrations of St Patrick’s Day and the final days of March. “One thing will never change – the opening date. For us, it’s a worry but also a stimulation”, assures Daniel Delcourt as he presents the calendar.

“A straight-forward course”

Behind his desk, a newspaper cutting, framed, attracts the eye: “Disney: Stikers play hide and seek with Mickey.” “During the social movements here in September, no-one in my department followed the action. I’m very proud. You should work to move forwards, regardless of pay.” And it’s without doubt the work which explains that, for eleven years, Daniel Delcourt has taken the role of extinguishing the brooding fires of Disney. Every 18 months on average, he makes the big move between two positions. “I had a traditional start,” admits the Belgian with a smile, with education from hotelier school. “I started my time here as a restaurant manager.” To this date, he can claim to have been head of Disney Hotels. Close to 5,700 rooms, countless employees… “Like most, I arrived in this land not expecting to stay any longer than a few years. But when they find someone who can do well, they really give them a chance,” he explains. Disney nevertheless has one condition: continue to lead the 15th Anniversary to 1st April 2007. “And there’s no question of releasing those documents – they will never be seen!”

Article: Julie Cloris, Translation: DLRP Today

Article scanned by gldsun for Disney Central Plaza forum.

Thursday, 12th October 2006

Pinocchio replaces Pooh for 15th castle!

On the visuals released by Disneyland Resort Paris in early July, the third spire of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant was occupied by Winnie the Pooh, who was assumed to have floated to this position using the large purple balloon in his right hand. As a character to which Disney only own a license and not the full copyright, Winnie was never featured as one of the “spotlight” characters in these visuals, which are to be used by travel companies and the press next year as brochure covers and marketing material. Pinocchio however, despite not actually being featured on the castle itself, did receive two visuals, the daytime version of which can be seen below.

Now, over three months since we first presented the original visuals, there’s been a quick design change and update the Character Castle Makeover, with A.A. Milne’s “outsider” Winnie character being replaced by the “in-house” Pinocchio and Figaro. Every time Disney uses a character or creation from the world of the Hundred Acre Wood, they must credit the author at the same time, which would surely make presenting the original visuals much more complicated. And so, either as an easy option or for his newfound popularity with the resort (Pinochio is currently starring in both Halloween parades for the first time) Pinocchio and Figaro have pushed Winnie from the castle. Well, at least the Silly Old Bear had a balloon to float him gently back down to earth!

The new visuals also present another change, this time for every single character. Whilst in the original visuals the characters held fifteen bare wax candles, these new visuals show an extra dip into the 15th money pot, with new, stylised candles for each of the Disney classics. Whilst the wax now features a curling fringe all the way up to the flame, the biggest change is the addition of a shiny gold candle holder at the base, with a spiked end.

The updates also include the addition of spotlight visuals for the Disney VIPs, with Donald, Goofy, Minnie and Pluto now receiving their own, personalised images, giving us a closer look at the designs for their castle statues.

Whilst these visuals are, of course, simply for promotional purposes, the quick change of these two elements without doubt suggests a change for the decorations themselves, as designs are finalised for our spectacular 15th Anniversary year. A glance at these visuals gives an immediate feeling of quality and style for the celebrations. There’s no giant birthday cake or bright jester hats, for once Disney have produced castle decorations that are subtle, elegant and more than welcome.

You can find out more about the 15th Anniversary here, or see the full collection of original visuals here.

All visuals © Disney.

Monday, 10th July 2006

A spectacular character candles collection

Each group or character will hold a candle that counts towards the 15 years being celebrated, and some brand new official visuals (for use as Travel Operator brochure covers) have just been released featuring these impressive character designs.

Aladdin: DayNight
Baloo: DayNight
Cheshire Cat: DayNight
Chip & Dale: Day (unavailable) – Night
Dumbo: DayNight
Dwarfs: DayNight
Hewey Dewy and Lewey: DayNight
Jiminy Cricket: DayNight
Lumiere: Day (unavailable) – Night
Pinocchio: DayNight

Disneyland Resort Paris promises “A celebratory atmosphere, with castle & park specially decorated for the 15th anniversary year”. More information has also now surfaced about the functionality of these decorations. Official documents describe how guests will be able to “Enjoy the beauty of a captivating one-of-a-kind anniversary ceremony every night at Sleeping Beauty’s Castle”.

Since the characters are holding candles, some kind of birthday blowing-out-the-candles ceremony seems very likely, along the same lines as The Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony’s castle and tree light-up at Christmas.

Wednesday, 5th July 2006

Another new 15th Anniversary key visual!

The characters featured in the visual are, from the base upwards: Mickey & Minnie, the Cheshire Cat, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Hewy Dewy & Lewy, Lumiere, Goofy, Jiminy Cricket, Chip & Dale, the Seven Dwarves, Pluto, Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo and Tinkerbell. This creates 14 character groups – we can only presume that Mickey & Minnie will be counted seperately, to give 15 characters and candles!You can join the discussion about this image and the entire 15th Anniversary Celebration right now at the Photos Magiques forum »

Tuesday, 4th July 2006

New 15th Anniversary key visual

The image shows the castle covered in Disney characters, each holding candles, with a giant “15” replacing the centrepiece stained glass window. A makeover for the castle is currently unconfirmed, but this new key visual certainly suggests the castle will receive new decorations for the year of celebrations.

A discussion about this image is currently taking place on the Photos Magiques forum »

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