Tuesday, 2nd June 2015

Frozen Summer Fun starts here: complete opening weekend guide & review

Frozen Summer Fun at Disneyland Paris

Do what frozen things do in summer. If your name’s Anna, Elsa, Olaf or Kristoff, that means a long summer holiday at Disneyland Paris, starting now. Frozen Summer Fun officially launched this week at Disneyland Park, bringing a modest but very welcome and well-executed selection of Frozen-themed treats from 1st June to 13th September 2015.

This is your complete guide to all the new events, combining the first photos and videos, tweets from the preview weekend and a little commentary analysis… Read More…

Thursday, 12th March 2015

Frozen Summer Fun is coming to Disneyland Paris: everything you need to know

Frozen Summer Fun at Disneyland Paris - Frozen Sing-Along

On the day Walt Disney Animation Studios announces that Frozen 2 is really happening, Disneyland Paris has revealed more details of its upcoming Frozen Summer Fun season in a particularly informative press release.

Due to ice-over Disneyland Park just as soon as Swing into Spring comes to a close, the season from 1st June to 13th September 2015 is the first time the resort has truly “celebrated” summer, albeit in an unusually cold way. Read More…

Friday, 15th March 2013

St Patrick’s Day 2013 programme: Irish music and dance takes over Disneyland Paris

St Patrick's Day at Disneyland Paris

This Sunday, Disneyland Paris celebrates St Patrick’s Day for one day only with music, dance, fireworks and special character appearances. The full programme of events was released today, confirming the annual Irish celebrations will again be hosted largely in the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area of Frontierland, a tradition begun last year and continued with the St David’s Welsh Festival just last weekend.

On 17th March 2013, guests can expect special appearances from Disney characters in costumes inspired by the Emerald Isle, along with free face painting, a pipe band, Irish musicians and dance shows from the Sarah Clark Academy with special guests Chip ‘n’ Dale. A special fireworks display ends the day as a precursor to Disney Dreams! and the fun continues into the night at Disney Village.

All the times and details are in the programme attached below… Read More…

Wednesday, 16th May 2012

Everything neat ‘n’ pretty for Meet Mickey Mouse grand opening in Fantasyland – today!

Meet Mickey Mouse in Fantasyland

Today at 12.30pm, the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors are scheduled to officially inaugurate the new Meet Mickey Mouse meet and greet attraction in Fantasyland, with a special ceremony in the presence of the mouse himself. It will be preceded by three sessions of Passeport Annuel Dream previews. Then, from 1.00pm, the first chance for guests to step inside the redesigned former Fantasy Festival Stage to meet Mickey and investigate the changes within.

How does it look? Well, we were lucky enough to get an exclusive sneak peek inside the new attraction along with fellow fansite authors on 1st April. Greeted by Imagineer Laurent Cayuela at the door, wonderfully animated himself, we were led on a tour (no photos allowed) through the work-in-progress interior that has undergone considerable change since its days as a real show theatre. Where in 1992 guests sat on wooden benches in the half-open space to watch “C’est Magique”, in 2012 they’ll be stepping inside a gorgeous, plush interior reminiscent of great opera houses of the early 1900s.

The basic set-up of the theatre and its stage remains, already perfect for the premise of this attraction. On your way to meet Mickey Mouse in his dressing room behind the stage, you first step into a small lobby area in the right-hand wing of the theatre, adorned with the posters of “Mickey the Magnificent” already seen in Frontierland and the similar, existing meet and greet in Florida’s Magic Kingdom.

Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse

False walls in the same off-white as the exterior have been erected down each side of the former seating area inside, enclosing the theatre stage area itself and giving the previously rather “barebones” pavilion a grander theatrical feel. The entire space has been given soft new, red carpeting with a gold pattern, lending the theatre a truly luxurious feel.

Stepping into the auditorium, you join a back-and-forth queue line which cleverly gives the impression of theatre seating aisles, sloping downwards to the completely redressed stage itself. And wow, that stage: now framed extravagantly in beautiful wood panelling and completed with two new “box seats” sticking out above the audience in either side.

It’s still a real stage, just as before, and Laurent even mentioned that they could use it as such (we imagine for small live music acts or special events, perhaps), but the regular pre-show will be a selection of classic Mickey Mouse cartoons, projected onto a screen behind the curtains as guests queue. Note the plural on curtains: there are no less than three different curtains now permanently installed on the stage — Venetian, Grecian and Italian — which all lift up and open in different ways, presumably between cartoons.

Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey MouseMeet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse

Gleaming gold railings wrap around the queue line with subtle lighting in the edges at ground level. The real feature lighting is above: a series of fabulously ornate pendant lamps produced especially for the attraction by a specialist company with several generations’ experience. The whole queue line has enough space for a 45 minute wait — as we’ve hinted before, a hint of Disney magic later on which we won’t otherwise spoil could help this flow up to three times faster than otherwise.

Staying true to the theatre building, guests really do step “backstage” when they go to meet Mickey in his dressing room. Climbing a small set of stairs at the side of the stage (a ramp for access is also provided), the elaborate decoration suddenly falls away to reveal bare brick-clad walls and a stage manager’s lectern in a small corridor. Here, a Cast Member will personally escort guests to Mickey’s dressing room through another corridor. It’s this dressing room which packs more in-jokes and clever nods than some Disney attractions do in their entire length.

Books, notices, props and suitcases litter the room from floor to ceiling. “Good luck” notes from Minnie, a “missing” notice for the kidnapped Aristocats, a children’s drawing featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Even a prop to reference the Pixar short film Presto. It’s funny, too. All to often these days Disney can forget these details are called “in-jokes“. Designing everything in the shape of Mickey’s head does not make for clever hidden detail. But having a bag on the sideboard labelled with “Tuppence” really does raise that little smile a classic Disney “gag” gives you.

Meet Mickey MouseMeet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse himself (not present during our preview tour) poses in front of a red curtain, opposite the illuminated dressing room mirror and next to the giant seven-foot suitcase containing his props and costume, which also helps to divide the room. Imagineers never talk money, but the whole space with its hyper-custom props has the feel of serious investment and certainly worthy of the company’s trademark character.

Out the other side of the dressing room, guests are free to pose with some of the magician’s props stored at the side of the side — including a giant saw and a “Tank of Terror” escapology trick. Again, there’s a very welcome humour here.

Exit is then via the left-hand side of the auditorium, behind the false walls, to a ticket booth-style area which serves as the souvenir photo sales desk. Once again, lavishly designed — but with practicalities in mind, too: one window of the desk is lowered on both the guest and Cast Member sides, allowing not just a guest in a wheelchair to purchase their photo with ease, but a Cast Member in a wheelchair to serve them, too. Laurent was particularly proud of such forward-thinking.

Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse

A pause for questions left our group rather speechless, perhaps so taken aback by the transformation. On background music, Laurent stated that the short loop we heard during the tour (the same track which has been playing at the temporary Frontierland location) would likely be replaced simply by the sounds of the cartoons in the pre-show, audible throughout the venue.

The thought of an attraction based solely around meeting a character won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the execution of this particular concept really has been completed to the utmost Disney quality. Blessed with the gift of a real, pre-existing theatre, unlike the earlier Florida version, Walt Disney Imagineering have been able to play out the narrative far more truthfully and successfully.

One single quibble would come back to something we raised when the marquee went up, that perhaps it doesn’t play the “British” location within Fantasyland to its full advantage. The theatre could feel British if you wanted it to, but it doesn’t particularly overstate this anywhere.

Meet Mickey Mouse

Perhaps that’s the idea, to make it as international as the mouse himself; but sandwiched between the unquestionably, quintessentially English trio of Peter Pan’s Flight, Toad Hall Restaurant and Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, it’s a particular shame they found reason to place the letters “Rencontre avec Mickey” on the main marquee, when the French subtitle on the smaller wait time indicator at the entrance (not to mention on park maps and programmes) would have sufficed. Luckily this is the only aspect to work against the British setting; the rest of the attraction, if not exactly working with the locality, fits wonderfully well alongside it (even if some dislike the “Main Street” marquee lights).

Furthermore, an abundance of genuinely humorous in-jokes gives it a classic feel that’s close to the character it celebrates without a single lazy, mouse-shaped detail. As the sole contribution of Imagineering to the 20th Anniversary, and despite being “just” a meet ‘n’ greet, it feels genuine and worthwhile. And most likely set to be one of Fantasyland’s most popular attractions.

Watch our HD video of the Meet Mickey Mouse exterior below… Read More…

Wednesday, 28th March 2012

Temporary ‘Meet Mickey Mouse’ location rolls into Cottonwood Creek Ranch

Temporary Meet Mickey Mouse at Cottonwood Creek Ranch (C) @InsideDLParis

It’s no secret that the permanent Meet Mickey Mouse attraction at Fantasy Festival Stage won’t be ready for the 20th Anniversary launch this weekend. However, you needn’t be too disappointed if you miss the opening date in mid-May: Mickey’s temporary Frontierland location is looking like a pleasant attraction of its own. Rather than the 1920s picture house-style theme in Fantasyland’s British quarter, the temporary version has been based around a much more old-fashioned travelling show.

New signage, installed at the former Woody’s Roundup Village photolocation, is perfectly integrated with the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area. Below the Meet Mickey Mouse marquee, adorned with decorative lights, a banner reads: “Open house today — Your chance to meet the stars of Mickey’s famous traveling show”. Red-painted fences of the farm paddocks are dotted with posters imported from Florida, for imaginary acts such as “Dingofort the Mighty” and “Madame Minn”, which already appear in the refurbished Disney & Co boutique on Main Street.

Temporary Meet Mickey Mouse at Cottonwood Creek Ranch (C) @InsideDLParis

Nearby, the old Woodcarver’s Workshop has been turned into Meet Mickey Mouse Photographic Souvenirs, an official photo sales desk. Given Mickey’s farmyard beginnings, the temporary ranch setting feels perfectly apt, before he moves into the bright lights of the theatre.

Mickey Mouse himself made his first appearance at the location today, moving from his old meet ‘n’ greet spot at the Boarding House in Town Square, which will now be the sole preserve of Duffy the Disney Bear. The temporary location here is only expected to be in use for around 6-7 weeks so, for just a month and a half of meet ‘n’ greets, this well-executed overlay is a great surprise.

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Tuesday, 27th March 2012

New ‘Meet Mickey Mouse’ marquee brings Fantasyland into electric age

Meet Mickey Mouse (C) @TBardenat

The sun rose on a new age in Fantasyland‘s British quarter this morning, with the new marquee for Meet Mickey Mouse now installed atop the former Fantasy Festival Stage. Clean lettering and bright, theatrical, electric lights evoke a slightly later time period for the land than seen before. Perhaps stepping from the Edwardian era towards the 1920s, when Mickey Mouse himself came into being, it takes this ornate pavilion into an electric age where theatres and music halls became picture houses.

This set-up will be continued inside where, as we revealed in a descriptive walk-through of the new attraction, the old theatre stage will now house a projection screen, allowing guests queueing along the aisles of the theatre to enjoy classic Mickey Mouse cartoons. This sort of “modern” innovation contrasts well with the Disneyland Railroad Station behind, which already blends two periods of British history: a Tudor-style cottage with exposed beams and the Victorian station building, platforms and clock tower of the railway. Looking at the way buildings in Great Britain were so often chopped and changed for the latest trends through the ages, the eclectic mixture here seems wonderfully British.

What doesn’t seem wonderfully British? The words “Rencontre avec Mickey”, hastily stuck underneath the illuminated letters. For a start, we have to wonder if French visitors could really be so confused by “Meet Mickey Mouse” that they need a translation. But more importantly, this disrespects an unwritten rule of Disneyland Paris regarding the languages of attraction marquees.

You might have noticed that you eat at Auberge de Cendrillon, to reference the French Charles Perrault, but ride Peter Pan’s Flight, to fit the English setting and author J.M. Barrie. Similarly, the whole of the American Main Street, U.S.A. and Frontierland are named in English, while elements of Adventureland and Discoveryland use French where more appropriate.

PHOTO @TBardenat

Friday, 23rd March 2012

Woody’s Roundup no more as Meet Mickey makes temporary Cottonwood Creek home

Mickey Mouse’s new home at Fantasy Festival Stage won’t be finished quite in time for the 20th Anniversary launch, we know that much for sure. But until the vague Spring 2012 opening date of his new magician-themed meet ‘n’ greet (or 17th May 2012 if you believe the rumours), the mouse will still find himself a temporary Meet Mickey Mouse location over in Frontierland.

Work has now started at the former Woody’s Roundup Village in the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area of the land, most recently used for the St David’s Day and St Patrick’s Day celebrations, to create an intermediate version of the attraction. Although, that “work” so far mainly consists of cordoning off the entrances to the old Critter Corral area with what @InsideDLParis rightly captions these photos as “red and white caution tape that should never be used in a Disney Park”. Beautiful!

The original “Woody’s Roundup” signage and photo locations have now been entirely removed from the area (most taken away before Halloween/Christmas), to make it a more generic character spot, perhaps a rare example of Pixar characters being removed from a land.

Heavier construction work continues in Fantasyland, meanwhile, with latest visible progress from outside the theatre showing walls going up around each of the bay windows. These were previously spaces at the back of the theatre’s seating which could be opened up in warmer summer weather. Now, the window on the right will form the attraction’s entrance while that on the left will be used as the exit and part of the photo sales counter.

Meet Mickey Mouse construction (C) @InsideDLParis

More rich red gloss paint has also been applied to the façade, which has lost its Fantasy Festival Stage signage. As for the inside, we can reveal that the layout will largely stay true to its theatre origins. Guests will queue back and forth roughly along the former rows of seating, with the centrepiece being the stage itself, where a projection screen will be installed.

Following the queue line up into the theatre’s real backstage area, they will enter a vestibule area before finally encountering Magician Mickey Mouse himself, in his backstage dressing room, littered with props similar to those seen in his Florida meet ‘n’ greet. Exit will be via the left-hand side of the theatre, past the souvenir photo wall and sales area in the left bay. Numerous other details, accessories and “animated posters” will complete the attraction.

We can also confirm that “Magician” Mickey here really will employ some special magic tricks, allowing him to shorten the queue time by as much as two or three times, depending on attendance…

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

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