Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Animated Publicity

The set of photos released for the opening of Toon Studio is fairly small compared to the set featuring VIPs and celebrities against backdrops within the land, but the quality and amount of locations featured is far better than the frankly quite disappointing publicty photos of the 15th Anniversary launch.

Overall, the resort’s audio-visual teams have captured rather well the quirky style and impressive new attractions of the area… but what do you think?

Here is the full set of publicity photos, be sure to click on them to see the photos full-size!

General Toon Studio

Image Image
A new angle on the Sorcerer Mickey marquee captures the Peter Pan characters behind,
an incredibly colourful view of the Toon Town gate area with its twisted lamposts.

‘Now in Producion’ sign next to Crush’s Coaster

Cars Quatre Roues Rallye

Image Image
Welcome to Radiator Springs sign, the famous Cars logo, framed by trees.

Image Image
The lovely blues and yellows (with a hint of red) of the Quatre Roues Rallye entrance,
the interior themeing, focusing on the amazing detail of Lizzie’s curios display.

Image Image
A sunny angle on Luigi’s Casa Della Tires (notice the fabric canopy was finally added,
just in time), and a low-down view of the canyon area.

Image Image
Views in the canyon. Notice the Sorcerer Mickey marquee included in the background,
along with – in the first photo – the Disney Cinema Parade passing by. This looks
like a favourite angle already to capture Cars from, with the iconic Studio 1 looming behind.

One of the excellent on-ride captures from the special camera seen being installed
on the front of this vehicle here.

Image Image
Two brand new publicity shots only just added to the collection today.

Some official video footage of Cars has also been released, via the blog:

Crush’s Coaster

Image Image
The rusted and sea-sprayed entrance sign, a busy crowd shot showing the Crush area, but
not very many guests who look impressed.

Image Image
Two views of the turtle shells departing the big blue of Studio 5 – which one wins?

Image Image
The very first official photos from inside the attraction, we’ll probably see these used frequently,
as they show very well the colourful underwater sets and good lighting.

Image Image
An “in-production” shot of Crush undergoing final work from above the track, a final shot
positioning Crush against a big blue backdrop of Studio 5.

So, what do you think? A good selection of photographs and footage to advertise Toon Studio, or could they have done better? Whilst this set of official publicity shots has only just been released, we’ll likely be seeing them for years to come, especially as Walt Disney Studios Park continues to grow in visitors…

All photos © Disney.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Under the spell of darkness

Whilst the extended opening hours of the park to 7pm have given guests more time at the Studios, they still don’t go far enough to allow regular visitors to see the park at what almost everyone agrees is its very best – fully illuminated at night. From the flashing neons of CinéMagique‘s grand entrance to the flames of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster‘s entrance and the searchlights of Disney Studio 1, Walt Disney Studios is more than a match for anything at Disneyland Park once darkness falls.

And the new Toon Studio developments? They look just as good…

Image Image
Toon Studio entrance / Sorcerer Mickey statue

A hidden detail we’ve never spotted before suddenly comes to life on the wand of Mickey Mouse – the star-shaped tip glows and shimmerings in a blue fibre optic effect. The “marquee” itself is also very subtely and lovingly illuminated, with lights positioned inside the several circular bases shining upwards.

Image Image
Sorcerer Mickey marquee / Crush’s Coaster entrance

Notice the purple lighting effects in Animagique in the background, and the rainbow colours of the Flying Carpets Over Agrabah backdrop, appearing to glow from behind when illuminated. The marquee of Crush’s Coaster is illuminated similar to Sorcerer Mickey, with low lighting on the signage itself and a single spotlight on his character figure. Through the lush beach planting behind, notice the well-chosen hanging lamps and even spotlights positioned throughout the sandy planters, illuminating the greenery.

Image Image
Colours of the Toon Town gate / Toon Studio from Flying Carpets lookout

Over at the Toon Town gate, the lighting department of Toon Studio have done an equally fantastic job, illuminating all of the multi-coloured buildings and even several parts of the Toon Town hills. Notice that the “Toon Town” lettering is fully illuminated for a very professional effect, and entire forced perspective design of this “street” seems much more convincing. The icing on the Toons’ cake would have been a few lights inside the security booth…

From the newly-reopened viewing platform by Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, the land’s countless lighting touches can be seen glowing in the distance. There aren’t actually any blazing spotlights here at all – just subtle lighting such as the many customised neons of Cars Quatre Roues Rallye – it’s green tower and red glowing logo standing out in particular.

When or if the Studios ever welcomes enough visitors and extra attractions to warrant a late-night opening, the Imagineers have prepared Toon Studio – and the entire park – with more than enough beautiful sights to keep them there until the gates close.

» You can see an excellent video giving a walk around the nighttime illuminated Toon Studio over at our partner site magicblog, along with several extra photographs. Click here.

All photos by Photos Magiques.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Evening entertainment, ‘famous’ faces

Ok, ok, in France they’re probably well-known, but this happens with every single press event at Disneyland Resort Paris. A new show premieres, a new season begins, a new attraction opens… and we’re treated to a huge gallery of publicity photos featuring countless vague ‘celebrities’ from across l’hexagone. Whether we know who they are or not, though, the photos from the Toon Studio Press Event of 16th June are actually some of the better VIP shots of recent years, especially compared to the dark and unexciting red carpet photoshoot of the 15th Anniversary launch.

Image Image
‘Unknown’ VIP guests enter Toon Studio

With a great backdrop of the temporary entrance gate, the Sorcerer Mickey marquee, a newly repainted Animagique and many smiling Cast Members, the stars entered Toon Studio via the long red carpet, which first led across a closer podium before that underneath the gate, giving a good depth to the shots. And although ‘unknown’ outside of France, the guests all appear to be well into the Disney spirit.

Image Image
More ‘unknown’ VIP guests enter Toon Studio

There are many more photos than those featured here, but all in the same style with the same backdrops and locations. Several photos made available to the press feature some VIP guests you might actually recognise the names of…

Image Image
Zinedine Zidane at Crush / with wife at Cars Race Rally

Surely everyone in Europe knows Zinedine Zidane, the famous footballer, now retired?

Image Image
Stade Français Rugby Team / Ricky Martin

You might even remember singer Ricky Martin… Or be familiar with the Stade Français rugby team, seen here lined up outside Crush’s Coaster with a trophy shield (hopefully this won’t become a popular accessory for DLRP visitors). These photos in particular, as you might notice, aren’t from the Press Event night at all – they were taken over the three weeks leading up to the event itself, and now bundled together with all the others for the launch.

In the end, we all know who the real stars are. Walt Disney is always quoted as saying they’re the “greatest asset we have” and to just “get them out there!”, and that’s exactly what they did during the entire evening of events at Toon Studio. Afterall, seeing a footballer or talent show star at Disneyland won’t make guests want to visit as much as the chance to meet one of these real, timeless famous faces will…

Image Image
Mary Poppins / real-life Mike Wazowski

The entertainment department catered for all tastes on the evening, from the not-strictly-Toon Mary Poppins (with Bert and ok-this-one’s-a-toon Penguin waiter) to a full-size, walking, real-life Mike Wazowski! Not since the release of Monsters Inc. around the opening of the park in 2002 has Mike been seen wandering the studio lots, but he made a special return for this event. Notice also that his life-size figure usually found at the Monsters Inc Scream Scene location was removed in preparation.

Image Image
From movie director to chef – Mickey Mouse can do it all!

Catering for all tastes, did we say? Well, if you didn’t like the Director Mickey of the inauguration ceremony, you could wait around a little and see him re-appear later as Chef Mickey! Director Mickey is also a very rare sight at the Studios. Despite being seen on many publicity photos for the park around 2002, Mickey usually decides to wear his more casual and brightly coloured movie star gear for photoshoots. Chef Mickey, on the other hand, is a recent introduction to character meet ‘n’ greets at Café Mickey in Disney Village.

Image Image
Chef Minnie / Chef Chip n Dale

Each of the Fab 5 received special chefs outfits for their appearances at the character dining restaurant, and with the launch of Ratatouille tying into the Toon Studio event, this was their way of welcoming the gourmet rats to the character family.

Image Image
Buzz Lightyear / Jafar

Aladdin, Jasmine and Jafar provided atmosphere around the new Flying Carpets oasis area, which now has its colourful lanterns illuminated each day after months of darkness. Events themed to the attractions on offer were particularly well thought-out at this event. With such a mix of themes and styles in one small area, it must have produced one hell of a brainstorm ideas session for the planning teams…

Image Image
The Radiator Springs Band

For Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, guests could enjoy the music of an authentic American country rock band, performing a variety of road hits and songs from the film itself as ‘The Radiator Springs Band’ in front of Willy’s Butte and Flo’s V8 Café. Notice also the attention to detail around the stage, including several extra props relating to the film and Route 66.

Image Image
Australian characters / Clownfish carpet

Crush’s Coaster was equally well served with themed entertainment and ideas. The EPC (entertainment department) created a couple of brand new “Australian” characters for the event, an outback explorer complete with cork hat and a beach surfer dude, complete with sunglasses and flip-flops. What’s that they’re standing on? It’s a Clownfish Carpet of course, a unique Nemo-themed spin on the classic red carpet, leading into the attraction!

The themed ideas continued on to the food, whilst the VIPs were treated to a special meal inside Studio 1’s Liki Tiki area, Animagique became a covered seating and buffet area for a more fun and informal double food option. For Cars, an authentic Texas barbeque along Route 66. For Crush’s Coaster… you’ve guessed it, a seafood barbecue. Didn’t they hear fish are friends, not food?

Photos both by Photos Magiques and © Disney.

Wednesday, 20th June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Inauguration Ceremony

As with all attraction openings, there are two press events. The smaller, low-key public opening ceremony (already featured here) and the far grander, more show-y official inauguration ceremony reserved for press and invited guests. The last ceremony we saw like this at Walt Disney Studios, though, was…. well, 2002 perhaps?

The tendancy of the past five years to push Walt Disney Studios aside in favour of Disneyland Park has well and truly ended. There’s a lot of proud people within those Studio gates these days…

Guests enter via the open studio gates, a very rare sight!

Entering the second gate through its unique grand arch, guests were welcomed by the Ciné Classics band, as seen on regular occasions inside Disney Studio 1 and more recently even as a pre-show for CinéMagique. Notice that the 15th Anniversary banners from Disneyland Park’s entrance have now made their way to the Studios, as it finally joins the celebrations.

Ciné Classics band entertain on Front Lot before High School Musical begins.

Following this musical welcome, a special performance of High School Musical On Tour was presented just outside the entrance of Disney Studio 1 (more on this here), as this new summer show was a key additional feature in all of the resort’s communication and press material for the event, along with Ratatouille.

Red carpet leads through Disney Studio 1.

The red carpet began in Disney Studio 1, leading right up toward the exit doors and to the entrance of Toon Studio, where Disney fans amongst the invited guests were met with an exciting photo opportunity…

5 Years on, Director Mickey finally gets behind a camera.

To the side of the temporary Toon Studio gate installed several days ago, Mickey Mouse sat high on a crane camera with a live director, and even moved from side to side as he “filmed” the action of the grand opening event for his new animation studio. The image of Mickey atop this camera crane might be familiar to anyone who followed the Studios’ grand opening, since a similar photo from Disney-MGM Studios Florida was frequently used as one of those deceptive preview shots – it only took five years for the real moment to arrive!

Ciné Folies stars help to prepare the set.

If you take a look at the video featured later in this article, you’ll probably notice something a little different about Mickey’s voice. No, not that he’s speaking French (the first time in a while – all the 15th events unveiled in April feature an All-American Mickey), but that his voice was apparently performed live! Since he called the make-up artist, special effects crew to the stage and joined the ceremony at various other points from his elevated spot, letting Mickey pre-record his track and sync this with live events might have been a bit risky.

With Mickey behind the camera, we need someone else to step in and fill the role of glamorous host – who better than Minnie Mouse? She donned her glamorous white dress from the 2002 grand opening and waited on-stage for her cue as directors, technicians and make-up crew bustled around the “set”. You might recognise the actors in question from the daily Ciné Folies shows in Disney Studio 1 – some have been with the park for almost its entire five years, so it’s nice to see these talented performers rewarded with a cameo here.

Pixar stars and a huge gathering of Cast Members pour out of the land.

As it is for these “performers” too! Usually Cast Members are relegated to regular operations during a grand opening event – keeping guests to one side, making sure the attraction is ready to open – but here the entire cast of Toon Studio was invited to join the precedings and clap their clapperboards for applause. The arrival of the several hundred Cast and countless famous Disney characters to the “Dreams” Peter Pan theme music was perhaps a little reminiscent of the Disneyland 50th Anniversary launch, starting out with only a few stars on stage before a huge crowd poured out of the land’s attractions.

It’s Disney legends on one side…

You might notice something funny about the way those characters lined up either side of the red carpet… classic Disney stars on one side and new Pixar pals on the other, like a great face-off between the two animation teams! This was also the very first appearance of the Ratatouille main characters Rémy (grey) and Emile (brown) in Paris, arriving just days after their premiere at the US parks.

Notice also the stars on the temporary gate, with ‘Toon Studio’ written inside, which are very similar to the first ‘Toon Studios’ logo we saw way back in September 2005 at the special Videopolis fan event.

…Pixar pals on the other!

Press photographers were situated on the tiered viewing platform for the ceremony, whilst the invited guests filled Disney Bros. Plaza and could watch the action on the large video screen installed the day earlier. With the smaller spaces of Walt Disney Studios and the Hollywood Boulevard construction taking up much of this area, they still managed to devise a layout that would ensure a picture-perfect view of the action. After all, these events are entirely for the cameras – not least when they’re at a film Studio!

The ceremonies are about to begin…

Sunday, 17th June 2007

Toon Studio: Opening day

For some of the guests at the official opening, there might have been a sense of déjà vu about the whole event – just one week earlier, they’d rushed into the park to be amongst the first to preview Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally as Annual Passholders. The events were a big success, as shown by the long queues to enter the area (below), despite a Fastpass-style timeslot system being implimented to give each passholder a 2-hour slot in which to preview the rides.

Despite the queues, some technical problems at Crush late in the day and general overcrowding for refreshments at Salon Mickey and the mezzanine of Disney Studio 1, the Toon Studio Preview Event was a big success for all.

Image Image
(2nd June) Long queues for Annual Passholder previews.

Image Image
(2nd June) Imagineer Beth Clapperton interviewed for blog.

The same weekend also saw the first low-key invasion of the press, albeit Disney’s own. The Photos Magiques camera spotted Beth Clapperton, Imagineer for Crush’s Coaster and already seen in many behind-the-scenes glimpses at the attraction, giving an interview in front of the attraction itself. Look out for this on the official blog at some point.

One week later, with previews complete and everything finally neat and pretty, it was time for the grand opening. The general smaller scale of Walt Disney Studios might have given a slightly quieter impression than the anniversary launch events of April, just two months ago, but the crowds were just as eager. To a mix of music ranging from Disney’s animated movie scores to the Peter Pan “flying” theme and “Just Like We Dreamed It”, the ceremony commenced as Arnauld Gayet, one of the two 2007 Disneyland Resort Paris Ambassadors, climed onto a small podium next to the Sorcerer Mickey marquee.

Image Image
(9th June) Toon Studio grand opening ceremony.

With an impressive mix of French and English, Arnaud welcomed guests and introduced the special event, as the first Toon characters began to arrive behind him via the cadillacs of Good Morning Walt Disney Studios. Wendy Courquet, the second 2007 Ambassador, soon joined Arnaud from the empty Toon Studio behind, raving and exclaiming about each of the five attractions in the “new” land as Arnauld introduced them. Interestingly, despite the massive campaign on the esplanade, the ceremony served to inaugurate Toon Studio as en entire land, rather than to give special attention to its two brand new attractions.

With the introductions complete, several more characters welcomed (including The Incredibles) and the crowd appearing a little impatient, the guest of honour arrived to open his brand new studio – Mickey Mouse! It’s lucky that Hollywood glamour appears to never go out of style, since the dazzling white outfits worn by Mickey and Minnie might be recognised from the grand opening of the park itself, back in 2002. Mickey joined Wendy to cut the double ribbon of blue and gold, as Arnauld officially declared the new Toon Studio… “open!” with guests rushing to their chosen attraction.

The opening hasn’t been covered quite as heavily online as the huge 15th Anniversary opening events, but fans can always be relied on for capturing the magic as it happens. The following video is by Concombre2k7 on Dailymotion – ignore the apology for “poor quality”, this is just like being there:

Wait times for Crush and Cars remained impressive the entire day, with Cars Quatre Roues Rallye resting at around 50 minutes and Crush’s Coaster enjoying an everage queue of 1 hour 30 minutes, despite Cast Members warning guests the wait would be 3 hours from its entrance.

Across the park, attractions such as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Studio Tram Tour apparently rarely had wait times above 15 minutes. Kinoo on our partner website magicforum reported that total attendance at the Studios was 14,000 for the day, with around 5,000 guests heading straight towards the new attractions upon opening.

With a simple “tea cups” like Cars (albeit a brand new one) gaining a 50 minute wait that guests were reportedly quite happy to endure, the fall-out from Toon Studio will, it appears, be to now try and coax guests out of this immediately popular area and to the rest of the park.

Photos by Photos Magiques (2/06/2007) and (9/06/2007); Video by Concombre2k7.
With thanks to the opening reports from members on Disney Central Plaza and magicforum.

Sunday, 17th June 2007

Toon Studio: Countdown continues every day

For the first time ever, the entire esplanade and resort hub have been decorated with posters, banners and billboards advertising new attractions at one of the two Disney Parks – specifically, the two new attractions of Toon StudioCars Race Rally and Crush’s Coaster. The trail of dual advertisements leads all the way from the parking lot to the entrance of Walt Disney Studios Park, counting down the distance in metres to the location of these two new Pixar-based rides, from 870m at the Disneyland Hotel access bridge to just over 300m at the security checks.

Billboards being installed early on 9th June 2007.

The visuals used are similar to the original “Key Visual” for each attraction, though now each has been edited to photoshop several real elements of each attraction into the picture. Crush’s Coaster therefore features real guests aboard one of the real turtle shell vehicles, and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye features the real 3D models of Lightning, Mater, Luigi and Guido with guests riding in one of the rea, spinning vehicles. It’s also interesting to note that the Crush’s Coaster poster is now darker than the original, and its countdown arrow is cleverly formed with a school of yellow fish.

Image Image
Billboards under the Disneyland Hotel access bridge.

The advertisements fill the start and end of each canopy over the moving walkways, along with the signs here previously pointing the way to each park and Disney Village. The large billboards under the Disneyland Hotel bridge feature large posters, lamposts around the hub hold banners and poster displays at Disney Village and even the RER station continue the push.

Upon reaching the resort hub and seeing the banners continue toward the security booths, even across the Vinci Parking fences and spaces usually reserved for Disney Village advertisements, the real idea behind this bold new campaign becomes clear. For over six months Disneyland Resort Paris has been using its key visuals showing Sleeping Beauty Castle and proclaiming the new attractions are located simply at “Disneyland Paris”. Now, as guests approach the two parks, these advertisements announce once and for all that the attractions are located at Walt Disney Studios Park, hopefully avoiding anyone enterting Disneyland Park and then asking where to find Crush…

Image Image
Banners on the resort hub appear to replace Lumière in several spots.

It’s a strong campaign, and a real morale boost for Walt Disney Studios. For the first time, could we be seeing a higher number of guests heading into the Studios rather than Disneyland Park on a morning? Is a balance is finally being approached? The second park really becoming a viable alternative to the original? It’s hard to think that guests heading past almost 50 advertisements for attractions based on such massive hit films as Cars and Finding Nemo won’t be tempted to change their plans and head to the second gate instead…

Photos by Kyoto on DMI and WDS Fans, 9-10/06/2007.

Wednesday, 30th May 2007

No hurlin’ on the shell, dude! Just installed it!

First we saw a marquee for ‘Crush’s Turtle Twister’ formed from a collection of undersea plants. Next, we had to imagine the same but with the name replaced by ‘Crush’s Coaster’. Then came a new concept of wooden beach posts sunken into the sand. Then came the opening of the land, and nothing more than a small logo on the wait time indicator. Now, Crush has officially arrived in Paris, and he’s brought a little gift from the Australian coast…

Image Image

Here it is, the final entrance signage for Crush’s Coaster! Weathered, faded and sunken into Toon Studio’s new beach, three large wooden posts (used to anchor boats to, perhaps?) hold the attraction’s welcome to guests. The attraction logo sign itself is large and loud, themed to a kind of beach warning sign and identical to the logo seen on the new Cast Member uniforms and on temporary signage seen around the new area recently. The logo features silhouettes of Crush and Squirt, with the graphics repeated above and below on the unusual diamond-shaped entrance sign. Compared to other entrance signage around the resort, this one is certainly quite unique.

And, as if the tide has suddenly vanished and left him balancing, Crush himself rests atop the tallest post in perfectly-sculpted 3D form, the latest in a sudden burst of character figures into the land following Luigi, Guido, Lightning McQueen, Mater, Mike Wazowski, the CDA and of course Sorcerer Mickey. The unusual pose depicts Crush resting on his lower shell, exposing his underside – perhaps guarding his shell from riders nearby, or pesky seagulls above?

Image Image

An extra little metal plaque holds the expected Disney-Pixar disclaimer. Despite their buyout of the Emeryville, California animation studio, Disney still appears required to feature this at every mention of the attraction. This one features a slight “spin” on the usual style, however, proclaiming “An awesome adventure from Disney and Pixar” rather than the usual “Inspired by Pixar’s…”.

Concepts for this signage pictured it with not only metal caps atop each of the three wooden posts but also some lighting for the main logo and a large undersea plant behind Crush, blending him into the location a little more. The lack of lighting for the attraction logo at least is quite apparent right now.

But hey, dude – pretty awesome already, right?

All photos by Photos Magiques.

Wednesday, 23rd May 2007

Toon Studio: Crush makes a splash

Once again, it’s the grand construction gallery of Photos Magiques that provides the photos for this update. Joining the photos is a commentary on the land – including some things seen from a brand new angle and some things we’ve never seen before.

The dusty desert of Cars leads to the Australian seashore of Crush

First, something from a brand new angle.

The pairing-up of Finding Nemo and Cars right across the path from each was hailed by some as lunacy and others as brilliance. The finished effect should hopefully convince the remaining few that an idea like this can work in studio backlot theme. Although we never managed to spot it from Flying Carpets, Route 66 has indeed made it to reality! The crumbling road here leads from the dusty desert setting of Cars to the underwater theme of Crush’s Coaster, with an Australian beach seeming to be the bridge between the two.

Crush from a brand new angle – with a added slice of Toon

The front of Studio 5 is tall and grand, though with the fun and friendly Toon Studio details in front still has a welcoming feel for anyone feeling nerves from their first day on-set. Silver railings – covered in a rusty and grimy seaside weathering by the Imagineers – surround the attraction and do take some getting used to after months of watching the bare rockwork grow with nothing but bare ground in front.

Up-close from right in front of the rockwork

From a spot along the railings (already appearing a favourite spot for bag-holders and too-short-to-ride children as well as excited fans), the mass of blue rocks towers overhead and you lose sight of the Studio 5 façade. Compare this area and the opportunity for those not riding to actually get a glimpse at the action to the layered 2D billboard of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and its clear who comes out on top. At Disneyland Park guests can stand by and enjoy themselves as the Columbiad blasts people into space, the Temple of Peril goes out-of-control and the riverboats ply the Rivers of the Far West. Walt Disney Studios now finally has its own alternatives.

All those information boards and still no minimum height

Walking back towards the entrance to the new area – still surrounded on either side by blue construction walls, giving the area a strange ‘backstage’ look – we find the series of information and warning notices for the attraction. To the left is the attraction’s exit through a tunnel in the rockwork, to the right the entrance itself. The signage matches the style of that at Cars Quatres Roues Rallye across the way, in a real-life style with the attraction logo first and wait times displayed digitally below. With all of the Studios’ wait times displayed with similar computerised systems, we can perhaps hope for an automated Tips Board (with TFT screens similar to that at Disneyland Park) when this becomes a part of the Hollywood Boulevard sets early next year.

The circle and diamond provide a description of the attraction in French and English respectively, whilst the boards below then give tips and warnings. On the wooden join below, large warnings for no food or drink and no smoking are given – much larger than an any other attraction. Does Disneyland Resort Paris want to keep its new attraction clean and tidy, or is this another beach-inspired detail?

“To The Sea” – No word yet if such details as ice lolly sticks and
cigarette butts are included in the impressive detail of the beach

It’s interesting to note that the signs simply state guests should “meet the minimum height restrictions”, which no figure given. Currently, the attraction is apparently operating a series of tests each day to determine what the exact requirement should be. Similer roller coasters at other parks have a height requirement of 1.20m, but Disney will obviously want to lower this as much as possible to finally provide a family roller coaster match for the 1.02m-limited Big Thunder Mountain next door. Their main worry though, it seems, is “fright” rather than safety. Will kids find the spinning twists and turns of the EAC too scary for a low 1.04m or 1.07m limit? Families are being selected and surveyed each day to find the right limit, with the final decision hopefully due to be made before 9th June 2007. It remains to be seen if the signage will then be updated to reflect that choice.

Blue rockwork pokes up through the sand, Jellyfish infested waters!

The first portion of the queue line holds some nice unexpected details, such as the jellyfish warning sign and the blue rocks sticking up through the sand – a fun continuation of the rockwork to the left. In the distance, you can see a new set of steps from the Cast Member shelter. This queue is actually below the level of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah next door, and a path with steps has been provided to allow Cast Members easier access between the two – and to the backstage – with less time walking between “productions” on-stage. In addition to the “canyon” of Cars, this provides another much-needed change of level for the flat Studio lot.

Beach hut for Cast Members at the turnstiles of the Pelican reserve

The beach theme is extended with the sandy-coloured flooring, different to the rest of Toon Studio, whilst the green metal lamps hang on dark wood that resembles driftwood. Opposite the jellyfish warning, guests are now informed of a pelican reserve ahead – a nod to the film’s pelican character Nigel, who is instrumental in finding Nemo but didn’t make it to any of the attractions. Everything in the area – including the fading brown beach hut with green shutters – has been overlayed with a film of rust and grime from the sea. This kind of rustic, real-life themeing is quite different to anything else in the well-presented Walt Disney Studios.

Now, do you notice anything missing? Yes, ‘that’ entrance marquee. Seen in various guises over the last couple of years, the large entrance sign featuring Crush and due to appear in this exact spot is currently nowhere to be seen. The attraction is left with simply the small signage above its wait time indicator. So is this all? Well, whilst we can’t predict last-minute cuts and changes, it would be surprising if the sign didn’t appear soon – especially remembering that Cars Race Rally, a considerably smaller attraction, has both its wait time sign and the ‘Quatre Roues Rallye’ neons above the entrance and the iconic ‘Cars’ emblem atop its roof. We can therefore hopefully expect a 3D Crush marquee to take up residence near the turnstiles before 9th June.

The track is simple and undistracting, the themeing pure Disney quality

Of course, also quite different is the ride itself. Bursting out of the rockwork at regular intervals, falling into a dip in the “waves” and re-entering on the opposite side, the discreet black track is surrounded by blue rockwork, gravel and sand dunes. Whilst the rockwork appears similar to that of Big Thunder Mountain or Adventure Isle from afar, up close you’ll spot various different shapes and styles in the formation, familiar to us from the film’s backdrops and countless underwater documentaries.

Turtle shells burst out of the big blue every few seconds

With characters meeting and greeting, carpets flying, cars spinning out of control and turtles making a splash, Toon Studio will have quite a buzz when it opens for real. And about that “splash” – although there’s no real water involved with Crush’s Coaster, the turtle shells do indeed make a splash when they swoop out of the soundstage…

Bruce got them already

Each exiting shell is met with sound effects of water crashing on the rocks amidst the general area sounds of seagulls and roaring waves. It’s the equivalent of Space Mountain‘s Columbiad “boom”, and definitely helps to make you feel as if beside the sea, just metres from Route 66…

All photos by Photos Magiques; Video by Photos Magiques/

Monday, 21st May 2007

Toon Studio: Almost ready

Being a Saturday, many local fans were already at the park, and got a first-hand look at the soft-opening previews. Like magic, the blue fences were pushed aside with rows of new Toon Studio Cast Members waiting to greet guests – and inform them of no photography, no filming, merci! The invited guests were all families and workers of Imagineering, construction and vendors – though later hours did see a few regular guests allowed entry.

A view to the new Toon Studio, no Flying Carpet required! 

The day also marked the first official use of the new Toon Studio costumes, seen above, made up of khaki trousers, a red jumper underneath a white shirt decorated with sketches of Disney characters, a red baseball cap and finally the all-important Toon Studio jacket – blue in colour, with the new Toon Studio logo loud and clear. Underneath, logos for Crush’s Coaster, Cars Quatre Roues Rallye and Flying Carpets Over Agrabah. The Crush logo appears like that at the attraction itself – a blue and green warning sign – whilst the Flying Carpets logo is also brand new.

Surrounding the area are several signs indicating that the previews are for invited guests only. got a high-quality capture of one, so we can see the land’s new logo up-close…

New logo revealed 

‘Official opening 9th June 2007’ of course, but tha’s not the case for the Toon Studio themed area itself – which has infact just opened to the public TODAY, 21st May 2007, for the very first time. Not only does this give guests a better preview of the new area before its two major attractions open, but it’s now an important route through to Studio Tram Tour.

New path gives a true ‘backstage’ experience

Grandmath on Disney Central Plaza forum captured this photo from next to the Tram Tour last week, showing current progress on the new path which will take visitors from the back of Toon Studio to Studio Tram Tour’s temporary entrance. This now allows work to fully begin on the second – and far larger – placemaking project: Hollywood Boulevard. Tomorrow really is becoming today!

Opening photo by nos77 on DCP; Logos captured by; New path photo by Grandmath.

Friday, 18th May 2007

Ink & Paint for Animation Courtyard

Those lines in question would be the new flooring. A distracting checkerboard of black tarmac and grey tiles, the idea seems to have been to break the vast expanse of tarmac in the old land, highlight routes between the attractions and generally give a more campus/courtyard feel. Like the Ink of “Ink & Paint”, it’s all dark colours so far and appears to be staying that way – the same design has now reached right across from Flying Carpets Over Agrabah to Disney Bros. Plaza.

The full extent of the finished makeover was revealed this past Tuesday, when 9-month old fences were finally removed from the area between Disney Studio 1 and the Monsters Inc Scream Scene.

Image Image

The removal of the fences must have been a breath of fresh air for the park – finally a little room to breathe and the first step of the final touches for Toon Studio. The next steps were all made clear behind the fences, such as the Sorcerer Mickey entrance statue due in the new planter above. The portion which will house the statue is actually separate to the existing section, allowing another small route through to the current Animation Courtyard without stepping under Mickey’s spark of golden pixie dust. Either the Imagineers are planning for people with superstitions, or they realised the entrance could become totally blocked in the lead-up to parades!

Image Image

With the Fantasia hippos now residing along the Studio Tram Tour route, what’s to be found at their old home? Currently, not a lot. But the colourful planting does mix well with the sea of blue, whilst cleverly following the checkerboard pattern of the flooring around it.

As for Animagique, the Studio 3 theatre of the backlight show is still in post production, with fences covering the edges of its waiting area roof as more areas are repainted in the Toon Studio colours of blue, navy blue, pink and purple. No other improvements have been spotted yet, but the fences do encroach quite a way onto the path – more than might be necessary if they’re simply repainting. Can we hope beyond hope those flower beds from the concept art make it to reality, rather than going the way of the quickly-forgotten fountain?

Image Image

The clean-up animation department has also been at work recently, adding a few extra touches to a project everyone assumed was complete. Whilst every concept showed the huge billboard façade of Crush’s Coaster with straight, cropped edges, the deep and light blue tones have now been extended across its bordering walls, allowing them to fade out. Unlike animation, the Imagineers could make this change very quickly, and the mural now appears better integrated than before.

Image Image

All of this is essentially the work of background artists, with the placemaking creating a better environment for guests to experience the attractions themselves. The background work is clearer nowhere more than at the Toon Studio entrance gate – the one to be used only by Toons of course – which continues to receive more details such as two photolocations, various props for the security booth and finally the “Toon Town” letters in the hills beyond. Unlike the papier-mâché 3D versions at Disneyland in California, their flat 2D design recessed into the “hillside” is also illuminated throughout the day.

Two basic photo backdrops have appeared either side of the gate – The Incredibles on the left (similar to the old podium but with simply a red backdrop) and Mickey’s Toon Town house on the right. A strange backdrop choice for sure, but in Imagineering legend the only “real” Toon Town is that in California. For this reason the Floridian version is “Mickey’s Toon Town Fair” and our (invisible) Parisian version wouldn’t feature his real house. So when Mickey is in Paris and needs the house for a spot of filming, this is his answer. It saves on airplane fuel at least…

So with all this background work almost complete, the Imagineers next need to start laying on the character animation cells for the final frame-by-frame production. Preparing for the characters of Disney Cinema Parade, the land’s conserved parade route path has now been outlined with small metal studs. Not as noticable as the previous filmstrip or the real sidewalks of Disneyland Park, Guest Flow are going to have fun here when the parade is finally re-routed back to its original path…

Image Image Image

And finally, more characters are soon to arrive. Maybe a cheap way of fulfilling the resort’s pledge of “More Disney characters than ever before”, the lighting rigs along the parade route are about to have their posters returned following the storms late last year. A Cast Member sent a photo into our partner site taken from the other side of the parade access gate, showing the first poster to be fixed in place, facing away from the park.

Does it look familiar? Yes, the esplanade posters of Hong Kong Disneyland have made it almost half-way around the world to Paris, albeit in a slightly cropped format to fit the lighting rigs. Expect all of the on-stage rigs to be given their own characters – from Bambi to Mowgli, Lilo & Stitch to… Lumière! Well, when there’s a banner at Disneyland Resort Paris, you can be sure that candlestick won’t be far away! You can see the full set of Hong Kong banners at here.

The only thing left to do soon will be to run the reel, and for this Walt Disney Studios has another small trick up its Sorcerer’s Apprentice sleeve. As confirmed by Kinoo on magicforum, a “Toon Train” will arrive on the Toon Studio lot each morning, with rumours also of special musicians on a small float as the animation stars arrive at work!

Lighting rig photo by P.T.; Hong Kong Disneyland photo by;
All other photos by Photos Magiques – you can see even more here.

Subscribe to the Magic!

Ad: Disneyland Paris 30th Anniversary Offers and Deals

Tags & Archives

Twitter Updates

Ad: Disneyland Paris 30th Anniversary Offers and Deals