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 WDSfans.com.

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 WDSfans.com

Saturday, 7th April 2007

(Video) Disney Characters’ Express press premiere

“Tous en train! All aboard! The Disney Characters’ Express is coming!”

As the infinitely catchy reworked music from Tokyo Disneyland’s 2001 “Party Express” and Hong Kong Disneyland’s “Rainy Day Parade” started up across Central Plaza and the guest flow Cast Members joined in with clapping and *choo choo* actions, the press looked from side to side nervously. Lined up in black with their oversized press badges (someone in the press department must still be laughing), camera tripods and glamorous female presenters along the hub of Central Plaza facing the castle, they were about to be treated to a special premiere performance of Disney Characters’ Express – that would leave the paying guests out in the cold.

The former Dumbo Casey Jr. float rounded the corner of Main Street, pistons pumping and smoke puffing, before coming to a stop right in front of the eager crowd. The characters and dancers continued dancing to the music long after it stopped, as the camera crews stepped right up to the train for some character close-ups. Whilst at this point the characters would normally climb down and run off to their four Lumière photo locations around the hub as normal Main Street music returned, here they were asked to instead continue dancing to practically no noise.

Soon enough, Miley Cyrus (who rode aboard the first carriage all the way from Town Square) was trailed by a desperate band of photographers – and her hefty American agent/minder, before jumping onto each of the following carriages and continuing to run up onto the Central Plaza stage to dance for the cameras. Meanwhile, television presenters from across Europe assembled to film quick reports to camera…

The presenter from TeleMadrid was notable since she looked to be truly enjoying herself, whilst being particularly taken with Pinocchio… and visa-versa…!

As cameras continued to roll for almost 20 minutes, guests continued to try attracting the attention of their favourite characters – many of which infact seemed far more interested with their public rather than the invited press. The dancers onboard the express also deserve credit for continuing the smile and dance for such a long period.

You can see more of the press breathlessly capturing the magic – including footage of Miley Cyrus and François Leroux – in our exclusive video:

With the extended stop over, guest flow shephered the remaining photographers back onto the hub (those who hadn’t trailed after Miley to the Central Plaza stage) and the Disney Characters’ Express returned all the way back down Main Street for a rest. Though that doesn’t mean its crew stopped performing for the public’s cameras…

Luckily, this wasn’t the last the public saw of the streetmosphere parade/meet’n’greet on the 31st – it returned almost every hour right up until the early evening, always with the proper public meet ‘n’ greets included.

Thursday, 5th April 2007

(Video) Final rehearsals for new entertainment

Video features:

1. Disney Characters’ Express rehearsals

2. Spit ‘n’ Polish for Main Street and First Press Filming

3. Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade final rehearsal clips

Wednesday, 4th April 2007

J-1 brings frenzied final touches

The anniversary now begins right as you enter the resort. After a limited number were added the day before, Friday 30th March 2007 finally saw the end of the circa-2002 dark blue Disneyland Resort Paris banners, featuring the Castle and Earffel Tower, now replaced by the familiar 15th Anniversary Lumiere designs. The base of the three new flagpoles, previously just concrete footers and earth, has now been filled with a bright array of yellow and orange flowers, guiding people toward the information sign and bringing some much needed colour to the hub.


New banners and flowers on the hub / Press viewing platform

Not all the last-minute changes were positive for the park, though. To accommodate the press photographers during the following day’s pre-parade ceremony and debut of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, a tiered viewing platform was installed in front of Town Square’s gazebo, covered in white tarp and also featuring an undercover area for the resort’s own cameras (lucky, considering the weather). Notice also the sea of yellow ponchos – now also featuring the 15th Anniversary logo!


New banners and flowers on the hub / Press viewing platform

More strange additions could be found in Frontierland, ready for the nighttime event following the 31st March fireworks. Whilst unnoticed by most normal guests rushing to Big Thunder Mountain and Phantom Manor, the restaurants, boutiques and Thunder Mesa themeing were all covered end-to-end in anniversary flags featuring yellow lanterns. And the guests rushing to Big Thunder? They might have been disappointed – the attraction remained closed for several hours, perhaps also due to press event preparations.


Flags and lanterns cover everything in sight at Frontierland

Amongst all the new additions for the 15th Anniversary Press Event, there were also a few final changes to the already-familiar events and decorations. After losing his bouquet of flowers for several days, the Character Castle Makeover statue of Mickey now instead picked up his magic wand…


Original Mickey with flowers (Photo by Joel) / Mickey now with magic wand

Whilst Disney Characters’ Express began its rehearsal performances. Steaming up Main Street through the rain, its characters then ran off to their four Lumiere locations around Central Plaza, without their candles seen in the previous weekend’s trade preview but instead with their new 15th Anniversary medals…


Characters receive their 15th medals / Disneyland Hotel roof cleaning, afternoon

Of course, there were also the expected clean-ups and repainting around the park. Best of all, the cleaning of Disneyland Hotel’s roof – from almost-black to its warm original shade of red.

With the Plaza Gardens Restaurant refurbishment completed a few days earlier, repainting continued (weather permitting) of the railings between its entrance doors and Central Plaza. The drained centrepiece fountain, still being returned to its former glory, was filled with temporary plants over the weekend to make sure not a single hint of the magic was broken for the press visitors.


Central Plaza railings repaint / Plaza Gardens fountain given temporary plants

The park was quiet for the most of the day, Walt Disney Studios Park even more so, definitely giving the impression of a “calm before the storm” (almost literally). And as the light faded, guests slowly left the park at 6pm, leaving it to get a long night of rest before its big, premature birthday bash the next day… Though, no doubt, its workers continued on long into the night.


A good night’s sleep before the big day tomorrow…

Wednesday, 28th March 2007

Disney Characters’ Express exclusive preview!

That’s right, the classic parade song Dancin’ (A Catchy Rhythm) has not returned for this new morning parade, as was expected by many beforehand. Nor has the popular All Around the World from Disney’s ImagiNations Parade. Not even Just Like We Dreamed It, the new anniversary song…

The music is… new! To Paris, at least – taken from “Disney’s Party Express” at Tokyo Disneyland, a similar parade featuring a steam train filled with characters, the music has been reworked by Vasile Sirli and the Disneyland Resort Paris team with totally new lyrics, including French and several “choo choos” throughout its fast-paced Casey Jr-style tempo. The music begins with a new announcement declaring “Attention! Attention!” “The Disney Character Express is coming!”.

But what of the parade? Casey Jr has been lucky enough to survive the chop after The Wonderful World of Disney Parade‘s demise, and now his 8 month absence from the parade route can really be understood. Sporting a slick and shiny new coat of white, gold and blue paint as seen in the recent concept art, the try-as-he-might steam engine from Dumbo has suddenly found a whole heap of new confidence…

Large 3D “15” plaques adorn each of the carriages and the engine, whilst Casey himself wears a special blue sash that appears to be blowing over his face, adding a frenzied touch of “can he see where he’s going?” to the “express” parade. The coal in his tender has been painted blue, with large silver stars dusted all over.

The most impressive change of all, though, is with the carriages. After almost nine years of knowing the old design, Casey Jr suddenly looks as good as new – better than new. It’s hard to believe they were able to reconfigure the carriages to include the ornate, swirling gold edges and fully-open design (the final wagon of the previous design, remember, was totally enclosed) seen here, especially on the budget the resort has to work with. Elements such as the old Lion Cage can still be spotted, but the final wagon is almost totally new – with its support columns decorated with a spiral white design similar to the wax of the characters’ candles…

The parade featured 13 characters: King Louie, Baloo, Captain Hook, Mr Smee, Goofy, Pinocchio, Gepetto, two mice from Cinderella, Chip n Dale, Woody and Jessie. As you might have noticed, they’ve also tied it all in nicely to the resort’s marketing campaign for the 15th, with each of the Disney characters holding their giant golden candles as seen in all the promotional art.

And now – the video!

The new morning parade will officially premiere on Saturday, steaming up Main Street four times a day for the entire 15th Anniversary celebration. All aboard!

All photos by Photos Magiques. You can see even more right here!

Monday, 12th March 2007

15th Fever: On TV

We saw previews of the very professional TV advertising campaign from the February Shareholders’ AGM, but seeing these exciting TV spots in your own home is quite an event! The magicforum topic for the celebration has logged several pages of sightings and discussion, with fans in almost all of the key European markets of the resort spotting the commercials already.

With the commercials now in the public domain, we can get a better look at some of the beautiful visuals, created in California to Disneyland Resort Paris’ specifications… (see Lumière hiding in the back there?)

The commercials are shown in several formats and differ slightly depending on the country they’re being shown. Both 40 second and 20 second versions have been created, with the latter skipping over the shots of Cars Race Rally and Crush’s Coaster to instead focus on the events available from April 2007.

And now, if you’ve not been able to catch one of the commercials yet, or if you’re in a territory which doesn’t receive Disneyland Resort Paris advertising, here it is!

English Version (40s)

The commercials form the key part of the resort’s massive 15th Anniversary advertising campaign, without doubt the largest and most ambitious ever.

In France, the campaign was launched with specially-created break-bumpers (quick clips played before a channel goes to commercials) on TF1, showing the red carpet flying through the sky with the TF1 logo and “Pub” (Adverts) text, wrapping the entire channel in some beautiful CGI advertising visuals for the 15th Anniversary.

A special series of short programmes are also scheduled for the channel over the next fifteen days, as revealed on the official French Anniversary Blog. Entitled “On a tous nos rêves” (We all have our dreams), the series of featurettes presents fifteen French celebrities discussing their own childhood dreams in honour of the anniversary, though it’s unlikely many of the names will be familiar outside of France: Yannick Noah, Christine Scott-Thomas, Axelle Red, José Garcia, Laurent Voulzy, Marc Lavoine, Karl Lagerfeld, Ornella Muti, Grégory Coupet, Emilie Dequenne, Laeticia Hallyday, Hélène Ségara, Mimie Mathy, Virginie Ledoyen et Isabella Rossellini. The programmes run every night on TF1 for fifteen days from today.

The commericals themselves are scheduled to continue showing right through March across Europe, and have already created quite a stir amongst the general public. Crucially, they are getting across the message that this is an important year, a year with many special events, and that it’s all happening “Là où les rêves deviennent réalité” – in Paris.

Thursday, 1st March 2007

Disney Characters jump aboard the celebration

And so, for one year only, every character will receive a special medal to commemorate fifteen years of Disney magic in Paris. Or, for the Disney Princesses, an ornate blue and gold brooch. This covers yet another key area of the resort in vital 15th Anniversary emblems, and yet again adds to the special “VIP” celebration feeling guests are expected to receive throughout the year.

And what of the “new Character locations created for this very special year” we were first promised back in June 2006? Well, according the final concept art below, four new “Character Experience” locations will be popping up at the four corners of Central Plaza, providing a kind of character “hub” around the redecorated Central Plaza stage and Castle. It’s also possible, perhaps, that the locations will be tied into the lands they border.

As for characters in Walt Disney Studios Park, the opening of Toon Studio in June will bring new character locations here, with latest rumours suggesting Ratatouille will be one of the new locations, giving a location for Rémy and Emile to meet guests. Walk-about characters from Meet the Robinsons are also expected.

The major Disney character event, though, will take place early each day on Main Street USA, as Disney’s Character Express steams into the park following a similar route and set-up to last Halloween’s Stitch Cavalcade. Taking place four times each day with a cast of around 14 Disney characters, the cavalcade will use the retired Dumbo float from The Wonderful World Of Disney Parade (seen above in its original concept art and in the park).

The “Casey Jr”-styled float, which consists of several articulated sections, will be completely repainted and redesigned, with a bold colour scheme of blue, white and gold and additional decorations on each carriage. The final carriage, previously closed, will be redesigned to allow more characters to hop onboard.

Characters seen on the concept art include Chip n Dale, Mr Smee, Captain Hook, Woody, Jessie, Buzz, Goofy, Donald, Eeyore and Tigger. Mickey and Minnie won’t be featured, their “top VIP” status obviously restricting them to Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade only. As it makes its way up Main Street and around Central Plaza, the Character Express will stop four times to allow the characters to disembark and interact with guests… which sounds like a joy for the Guest Flow teams!

How these events will affect the usual Halloween and Christmas seasons is still uncertain, though forgetting the long-awaited new attractions and even-longer-awaited new parade, the 15th Anniversary looks to be a fantastic year for park entertainment. With extra Disney characters, a morning cavalcade and an evening castle show apparently performed every day, this is the scale of entertainment usually restricted to a one month season extended to cover an entire year.

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

Saturday, 24th February 2007

Candles, characters, decorations… and letters?

Candlabration / Bougillumination

In true Disney fashion, every element of this vast celebration gets its own piece of concept art. First, Candlabration – the evening ceremony show which will see Mickey and friends light up the fifteen candles on the castle in a twilight show similar to the hugely popular Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony of Disney’s Christmas Season. The concept art confirms that the Christmas stage will stay, but shows it with a beautiful, golden overlay and “15” emblems in place of the current “Once upon a time” motif.

Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and Chip ‘n’ Dale are all present, wearing pastel and royal blue outfits which might be more than a little familiar to anyone who follows the US resorts. These “Year of a Million Dreams” costumes are due to be carried over to Paris for both this show and for general meet ‘n’ greets.

In Walt Disney World’s “Dream Along With Mickey” show (video here), the characters even have “articulated” talking heads, a concept which was premiered back in 2004 with Timon in our very own The Legend Of The Lion King. Since the costumes are the same and the show is featured in a similar location, we have to ask – will our Fab 7 be talking for the 15th?

Even if they don’t, it certainly looks like they’ll be providing us with some music. Take a look at what they’re all holding – each character has their own musical instrument!

Finally, the candles themselves also present a question – just how bright will they be? Both here and in the new TV spot they’re shown as bright, shining beacons of light, rather than the small flickering flames we might have expected.

Lumière Banners

With the park located in Paris and much of the focus being on those candles, it seems almost too good to be true that Disney have the perfect showman and mascot for the celebrations – Lumière! And if his golden statue right at the centre of the Castle wasn’t enough of an ego boost, he’s soon to appear on brand new banners lining Main Street.

Recent visitors to the park will likely have wondered why the Enchanted Fairytale Illuminations “Chandeliers” are still in place – and here’s your answer! Come 1st April, though, they’ll be barely recognisable. The chandelier crown itself will be completely removed and replaced with a golden cap and horizontal frame for the banner, whilst other gold elements will be painted onto other sections of the giant, ornate lampposts.


Whilst it hasn’t been confirmed if the poles themselves will still be able to illuminate, it has been mentioned that the banners will be lit in some way by modern LED lights. Two of the banners were on display at the shareholders meeting, and perhaps give a typically “Disney” solution – LED lights fitted inside the banners themselves, lighting up the bright white dots peppered across the design? We’ll have to wait and see…

D-i-s-n-e-y-l-a-n-d Letters

And finally… something no-one could have expected. After the Pumpkinmen and Pink Witches, the entertainment teams of Disneyland Resort Paris have been off designing their own park characters again. This time, you’ll be able to meet one of the ten letters spelling out “Disneyland”. No, honestly!

It doesn’t seem to be confirmed yet whether these will be statues, walk-around characters or maybe even giant puppets (like those at WDW’s Finding Nemo The Musical), but an early name being given to them is “Alpha Bet You Are”.

There hasn’t even been confirmation if all ten will appear at once, so perhaps we’ll have to hunt them down, throughout the park? It could be massive for autograph book sales, with ten separate single-letter autographs to collect… Or am I the one getting carried away now?

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

Monday, 29th January 2007

Turtles, Cars and two fabulous dresses

We begin with Imagineer Beth Clapperton, who poses next to one the turtle shell ride vehicles from Crush’s Coaster in Toon Studio, holding plans to the entire track layout. The turtle shell follows all the usual standards of a Maurer Söhne Xtended SC-2000 car, with four seats back-to-back in rows of two. However, the car has also been extensively customised by the Disney Imagineers, extending the front and sides to perfectly resemble a turtle shell, with an incredible level of detail compared to other Disney ride vehicles.

The photo appears to have been taken on the break-run of the attraction’s “coaster” section, likely sometime in mid-2006 since the building does not appear to be fully enclosed. It also seems restraints and seat backs had yet to be fitted to the first vehicle at this point.

Next up, we move across to Cars Race Rally and into the backstage workshops of Walt Disney Imagineering, where a life-size Luigi is being crafted by hand for the upcoming attraction. Also sporting an exceptional level of detail, Luigi is due to appear at the Casa Della Tires photo location near the attraction’s entrance (see the map here), similar to the Mike Wazowski and CDA figures at the Monsters Inc Scream Scene location.

As you can see from the photo, it luckily seems that the resort have been given the rights to use the badge of this 1959 Fiat 500 on the real-life reproduction itself. Guido, Luigi’s forklift sidekick, is also expected to appear at the finished attraction, marking the first time these characters have been created in life-size 3D form.

Finally, the series of photos take us into the colourful Costuming Workshop at the ImagiNations building, backstage at Walt Disney Studios, for a glimpse at two stunning new dresses created exclusively for Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade. The dresses featured are Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, and the “one that started it all”, Snow White.

Along with rich, glistening fabrics and remarkable attention to detail, the dresses have been peppered with beautiful gold-laced leaves, petals and flowers (roses for Belle), allowing them to match perfectly with the garden-themed “Dreams of Romance” finale float where they will be featured. This is the first time such a high level of customisation has been used to allow the dresses to match their floats.

Sumptuous dresses, detailed props and “turtally” unique ride vehicles, all oozing Disney quality… as if the 15th Anniversary wasn’t an exciting enough prospect already!

All photos © Disney, courtesy of WDSfans.com and PhotosMagiques.com!

Friday, 13th October 2006

Being Goofy needs to stop somewhere

The video was filmed last Christmas in the backstage area of Hotel New York, as the Cast Members waited to go “on stage” to perform as their respective characters. It was reported by two different daily national newspapers in the UK. First by The Sun, who sexed up the story with well-captured stills and sensationalised descriptive words in bold type. Later, the Daily Mail also caught on to the video, describing it as “smutty” and harking back to Walt Disney’s original vision for his characters, in the good old days.

Introductions to the varying styles of British tabloid journalism aside, even Reuters picked up the story later in the day, adding:

“The behavior shown on the video is unacceptable and inexcusable,” Disney said in a statement.
“The video was taken in the backstage area not accessible to guests. Appropriate action has been taken to deal with the cast members involved.”

As irresponsible as the behaviour was, whilst repesenting such iconic and respected characters, the fact that the event took place behind closed doors perhaps leaves only the cameraman as truly irresponsible. Admittedly, performers “larking around” backstage probably happens every day at Disney parks around the world, yet before now no one has found the need to film it and share it online.
Perhaps a better question here then is why, after already knowing about the video for several days, Disney has yet to use its legal muscle to have it removed. That’s what I call being Goofy.

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