Wednesday, 9th May 2007

154 Years in the making, dude!

Launched on 20th February with the official, the official anniversary blog has come from modest beginnings to present a series of unique videos and articles delving into the backstage talent of the 15th Anniversary Celebration. Our host, Tristane, has introduced us to the scent creator, costume designer and director of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, and now attention has switched dramatically to Toon Studio, particularly Crush’s Coaster.

The first surprise on the French version of the blog today was the following photo, showing a painter at work on murals inside the key “dark ride” scenes of this unique new spinning roller coaster:

We’ve seen glimpses into the dark ride scenes before, but this more recent image shows some of the final, vibrant colours of the scenes and the talent at work. The scenes are much smaller, the route much thinner, than a usual dark ride, which might seem strange considering the theme of “the big blue”, but the paintwork completed here shows how the Imagineers have designed tricks of the eye to give the effect of real undersea depth. With blurred, faded background coral behind vibrant, crisp detail, a flat wall suddenly becomes a window into the depths of the Great Barrier Reef, with 3D sculpted coral in front adding another depth.

A good news day for Crush’s Coaster, then. But they weren’t done yet – a little later, and suddenly a brand new video has been uploaded to the blog, presenting even more backstage previews. Presented as a simple slide show with just a few seconds of actual footage, the video serves to present a series of never-before-seen images: concept models, detailed, sculpted coral and more…

A look at each and every shot of the video:

(1) Front elevation of Studio 5, shows some interior detail of the boarding area, such as steps over the track to its platform and a studio-style lighting rail above the action.

(2) A fantastic scale model of the entire attraction. The entrance path is chopped in half in the foreground – notice the warnings and wait times sign recently added in reality. The full 3D marquee featuring Crush is seen as a piece white card on guests’ left, a little further into the queue and yet to be modelled here.

(3) A close-up of the model, showing the outside drop and its jagged, diagonal rockwork surround. Notice the steel fences recently added, which here are shown to cut through a large chunk of blue rock, home to Nemo and Squirt amongst a small crop of green plants.

(4) The camera pans right to left, showing the route of the outside drop, its track almost entirely concealed by the rocks and shown to be filled with several plants.

(5) The lowest point of the drop and a close-up of Nemo and Squirt. These figures will be similar to those at the old Finding Nemo photo location, now lost to the Hollywood Boulevard project.

(6) We move onwards to the first scene of the dark ride, seen as if you were above the building looking toward Cars and Art of Disney Animation. The entrance from the outside drop is top-left, the two state-of-the-art digital projection screens lower-right and top-right. The coral is filled with a rainbow of colours.

(7) The next scene, this model shows only the Angler Fish attack, with the previous scene depicted as a flat floorplan. The colour and light has disappeared for a much more uncertain tone.

(8) A zoom-in on this corner of the track. One angler fish faces toward oncoming turtle shells on the corner, whilst another hides around the bend pointing toward shells as they continue past. Like the digital projections before, these are two identical effects doubled-up to ensure guests in both sides of the back-to-back ride vehicles see the same experience.

(9) Another close look at these impressive Audio-Animatronics, also due to be found at Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (California).

(10) An impressive example of coral sculpted for the attraction. Though no commentary is provided with these images, the coral appears to be in a tent backstage at Walt Disney Studios Park. Interesting, since it would be assumed the coral would be sculpted on-site at its final location. Several reference photos and concepts are pinned to a board above the décor.

(11) The lower portion of the coral shows even more variety in the undersea life, matching that seen full-coloured in the concept models above.

(12) A close-up of the coral. Impressive detail, and certainly like nothing else at Walt Disney Studios Park.

(13) Another close-up shows even more variety, all referenced from real coral and reproduced to be entirely accurate to undersea life.

(14) Finally, a noticeboard with the concept model of the attraction next to two real-life reference photos used to design its jagged rockwork façade, similar in design – if not unnatural blue colour – to that over in Adventureland.

After all this work, it might actually seem like 154 years for some of the Imagineers involved!

Video, photo and all video caps Copyright Disney.

Monday, 7th May 2007

Everything points to Toons

The idea Walt Disney Imagineering calls “Area Development” has gone to play in every corner of Toon Studio. Whilst Disneyland Park has been the king of area development for over 15 years – everywhere from Boot Hill to Discovery Lagoon – Walt Disney Studios Park is finally beginning to join in with its three Toon Studio filmsets and the wacky studio entrance gate at the back of the land. Today, it’s all about signs – and they’re all pointing to the Toons.

The long-awaited ‘Cars’ neon was installed a couple of weeks ago atop the Ramone’s House of Body Art-inspired queue entrance. With a shiny red finish and a sleek metallic surround, it looks like a perfect slice of Route 66 Americana. Elsewhere, the neons and studio lighting glow throughout the day, ready to draw people in, whilst more trees have been added just in front of the Cadillac Range backdrop. Because – unlike the rest of the Studios and its loud billboards – this area likes to keep things a bit more hidden, give guests something to discover as they turn each corner…

Turning the corner towards Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, they will be confronted with a billboard – but smaller, more colourful and a key part of the area development. The ‘Welcome to Radiator Springs’ sign looks like it was copied and pasted right out of Pixar’s computers. In the distance, you can see the entrance sign for the attraction has also been installed, reading ‘Cars Quatre Roues Rallye’ in customised, bright blue neons.

As for the electricity pylons, theyve now been littered with studio lighting also pointing towards a Toon – the giant undersea backdrop of Crush’s filmset, so perhaps those electricity wires are almost real?

Sticking with Cars, and the photo below – from – again shows another new sign, but maybe not what we expected. With its dark, rotting wooden facade, the middle storefront always seemed to be a sure location for Lizzie’s Radiator Springs Curios. As the lopsided sign shows, though, Tow Mater has taken this spot! The photo also shows the large collection of new conifer trees in the area behind the land, as well as a brand new gate between Route 66 and the Studio Tram Tour route.

Crush’s Coaster has been receiving a last minute touch-up to its paintwork this week, helping the dark blue rockwork blend better with the brighter side wall thanks to an air-blown gradient.

Here too there are new signs pointing to the Toons. The all-important entrance sign was installed last week, with a small logo and wait time indicator at the top then two pairs of warnings signs below, one in French, the other in English. The information board clearly uses the same style as those at Epcot’s ‘The Seas with Nemo & Friends’.

It’s a small sign for the towering Studio 5 behind, but sources including La Rouquine on Disney Central Plaza forum have confirmed that the much larger marquee featuring Crush himself will still appear, positioned along the queue line just before guests step under the canopy at the side of the studio.

The previously pale yellow building of Animagique doesn’t have any new signage but it does have a blinding new blue colour scheme to point guests toward itself – now with an extra touch of purple to replace the dull red bricks around the top of its waiting area roof. Later photos on show the pillars either side of the entrance (here being painted with a white primer) have actually been repainted in the very same blue as before, where a more contrasting colour might have been expected.

Also strange to note – the Fantasia hippos previously positioned in the flower beds on the right of the building, toward the Monsters Inc photo location, have now been moved to the lawn behind Art of Disney Animation, along the Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic route. The move doesn’t look temporary, so it remains to be seen if they will be returned to Animation Courtyard once the flooring has been completed, let alone what remains of their former flower beds…

But whilst the hippos are gone, something else returns. The look-out tower next to Flying Carpets Over Agrabah – which was recently repainted purple from dark blue – has now regained its fabric canopy and walls.

Finally, we end with the biggest pointer to the Toons of them all – the land’s brand new Sorcerer Mickey statue. We first saw a glimpse of the statue being sculpted in February, and now that the latest issue of Tales from the Laughing Place has shipped, we can get a closer look at the Studios’ fourth Mickey statue.

The Imagineer at work is Valerie Edwards, and the statue should finally appear in its full, golden form later this month, along with a spark of magic flying across the parade route and the host of other golden Disney characters on the Sorcerer’s Hat. So if it looks like everything’s pointing to the Toons right now, just wait ’till June!

Photos 5 & 6 by; Photos 7 & 8 by Kyoto, Disney Magic Interactive; Photo 12 taken from Tales from the Laughing Place; All other photos by Photos Magiques.

Friday, 4th May 2007

Avant-première(s) for Crush and Cars

…And this time, it really is being rolled out to us. Not only will the press come in smaller numbers (700 compared to 1700 for 31st March) and one week after the opening (16th June), but the organisers of the resort’s Shareholders Club and Annual Passport Dream privileges have finally mailed invites and organised events to celebrate the 15th.

First, the Shareholders Club. Announced via email, on the official website and now through a mailed invite (below), shareholders of Euro Disney SCA have the exclusive opportunity to ride Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally as many times as they wish between 12pm and 3pm on 2nd June 2007.

Places at the event are strictly limited to a first-come first-served basis, and you must apply online no later than 25th May 2007. Your Shareholders Club card must also have been valid at 1st May 2007.

Shareholders will be able to receive up to 2 free Passe-Partout park hopper tickets for the day and up to 4 wristbands to gain access to the attractions – meaning up to 3 friends or family can join you for the rush to Crush! In addition to Salon Mickey, the mezzanine of Restaurant En Coulisse will offer a similar service of complimentary refreshments from 9:30am to 11:30am.

More details can be seen in the flyer above, and don’t forget to register now if you’d like to attend!

Not a shareholder? Well, grab your Passeport Annuel Dream and you too can join the rush – a few hours earlier than those Shareholders, infact! By simply showing up at Walt Disney Studios Park and presenting your Annual Passport Dream, you can get exclusive access to the two new attractions at the following times:

Saturday 2nd June 2007 – 9am to 12pm
Sunday 3rd June 2007 – 4pm to 7pm
Wednesday 6th June 2007 – 10am to 12pm

Dream passholders can also invite one friend (with a valid park passport) to join them in the rush. As with the Shareholders event, the attractions can be closed at any time during these final test runs, to troubleshoot or tweak at the Imagineers’ discretion.

It’s important to note that, whilst all of these events are being labelled as “Avant-Première” previews, guests will by no means be the “first” to ride the two new attractions. Like all new Disney attractions, they will be opened to the public for select periods in the fortnight before their official opening to test the systems, train the Cast Members and respond to the guest reaction. These events simply help loyal guests get an extended preview before the “rush” truly begins.

The “Soft Openings” themselves are scheduled to run most days from the end of May to the 9th June grand opening, so Shareholder, Dream passholder or regular guest – the avant-premières will continue for some time, and the “red carpet” finally available for all.

Finally, impressive proof that the Red Carpet has returned after his success in early April. Making a dazzling comeback last night on French TV network M6 (think E4 if you’re in the UK), he flew through the sky once again before diving down into the depths of the ocean and spiralling around to help launch the first piece of advertising directly aimed at Crush’s Coaster and a competition to win your own avant-première visit.

You can download the brief TV spot (around 18 seconds) here, uploaded by Mouetto on Disney Central Plaza forum.

Sunday, 29th April 2007

Crush in motion, first look at boarding area

Remember the backstage tour given to the press after their 1st April press conference for the new attractions? Well, here are the fruits – a report on TV network France3 showing not only a glimpse at the 15th Anniversary festivities but also a unique look inside the boarding area of Crush’s Coaster. The backstage tours, hosted by Imagineers from Beth Clapperton (who you might remember from that first photo of the turtle shells back in January) to Tom Fitzgerald (Executive Vice President and Senior Creative Executive of Walt Disney Imagineering no less), have paid off with some excellent footage of the new attraction for this belated birthday report, shown just over a week ago.

In these brief shots from inside the attraction, the turtle shell vehicles are cycling through the ride on test runs, whilst the boarding area is illuminated with all manner of lighting and projections.

You might notice right away that the colours are exaggerated and the studio lighting in the ceiling above clearly visible – this is, after all, meant to be a real working film set. Smaller lights and lanterns are positioned throughout the area, which looks almost identical to the scale model we saw in January. Naturally for a Disney dark ride, the Sydney fishing pier scene is set at night, with the corrugated walls filled with reflections from the “water” and purple hues to reflect the time. However, this being an indoor soundstage, the magic of movies can (and is certainly planned to) do interesting things – like turn night to day in just a few seconds, similar to Disney Studio 1

The camera next turns to face the control booth, themed to a hut on the pier, and therefore naturally populated with a rowdy duo of seagulls. These popular birds, first seen at Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends last year, might just have the unexpected claim to the title of the very first Audio-Animatronics to be featured at Walt Disney Studios Park! Quite a claim to fame, and no doubt there’ll be a familiar fight over who gets the trophy – “Mine!” “Mine!”.

Beyond the gulls, the report takes us to an interesting angle on the ride we probably won’t see when it finally opens in just over 1 month – one of the turtle shell vehicles cresting the first lift hill and plunging outside the attraction through the blue rockwork of the façade.

Even from this angle, the supports and footers of the track – which were previously fully visible during construction – have actually been completely hidden and surrounded by the rockwork. Only the track itself pokes through, and this concealed from a normal guests’ point of view by the rockwork surround.

And now, in motion…

Reportages 15 ans France 3
Uploaded by DynGo

Many thanks to the fans of Disney Central Plaza forum for capturing these stills and uploading the video for all fans outside of France to see.

But now, with the 15th launch complete, fans aren’t the only people getting a little more than slightly excited for this new attraction. The official 15th Anniversary Blog has been treated with constant and regular updates lately, giving lots of glimpses into the creation of the anniversary events. Along with a short video interview with Imagineer Beth Clapperton, they presented two high-quality pieces of concept art showing the finalised turtle shells:

Even better than all that, they wrote a piece of text that could have been posted right here on DLRP Today – such is the total bias toward Disneyland Resort Paris…

“This was long, painstaking work that kept the Disney teams busy for months (they took their time, but in the end, you all know the story about the hare and the tortoise and who wins the race…). And winning the race is exactly what these tortoiseshells are waiting to do at this world exclusive at Disneyland! Especially for us Europeans!

“Of course, you already know about The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Florida, but this was only a show with video projections, a stroll through a giant aquarium. And there was Turtle Talk with Crush in Florida and in California (an interactive film in which the tortoise speaks directly to the children). And these are great, but the real ride is reserved just for us… And we deserve it!

It’s not everyday you see a Disney resort openly slating the attractions of its partners, but then it’s not everyday Paris completely and utterly trumps the other resorts in its offering. (See the bias there?!)

Like kids in a playground, Paris has all the newest toys this year, and the world is starting to notice. The magazine of – Tales from the Laughing Place – finally shipped its latest issue recently, featuring four pages dedicated to Toon Studio and two more recent pieces of concept art (below).

The article confirms that the musical score of the attraction will be orchestrated by Ed Kalnins under the direction of Thomas Newman (who wrote the original film’s score). This will be Ed’s third Nemo attraction soundtrack, following his work on translating the Oscar-nominated and Annie award-winning score for The Seas with Nemo & Friends and Disneyland’s Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.

The second concept above, originally posted by our partner, shows an updated version of the key concept featured on the Toon Studio construction walls. Along with new turtle shell vehicles and a more accurate Disney Studio 5, the entrance sign of the attraction is depicted as first envisaged. If word from the park today is any indication, though, this design actually didn’t make it from sketch to reality.

So there we go – a fun and well-themed dark ride station, a concealed coaster track, a brand new attraction score and the park’s very first animatronics, all in just a single article. No wonder DLRP are boasting about this one.

Saturday, 21st April 2007

The Toon Effect – More colour, more character

So what exactly does a second gate need? Let’s say… immersive themeing, its own character, attractions to rival those next door and enough to keep you busy for at least a day. Step into Animation Courtyard right now, and the Toon Studio project fills the entire area as if ticking these boxes piece-by-piece around the land.

The entire park is suddenly receiving a huge amount of interest from Walt Disney Imagineering, arguably more than any other Disney Park in the world. When you consider the four new attractions and two completely transformed theme areas they’re working on, it’s good to know that finally, after five years, Walt Disney Studios Park is getting more spells from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice wand than anywhere else.

Of course, much of the improvement (including the recently installed Toon Town backdrop) is still behind fences…

…But no-one can argue now that there’s a definite “buzz” about this second gate – especially not if you’re enjoying the Studios at the same time as countless construction workers…

This video features footage of the hills for the new Toon Town backdrop being lowered into place, with the briefly-presented new area music loop we mentioned in the previous Toon Studio update in the background – first a piano waltz of ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’, then an instrumental track from ‘The Rescuers’. The backdrop serves to not only place Toon Studio within its Toon Town location and cover the ImagiNations Costuming building behind, but also provide new locations for character meet ‘n’ greets along its bordering wall.

So that’s good, that’s it, the area is done. No, not by half – the old Walt Disney Studios Park might have stopped with a wall, but this Studio – for perhaps the first time – has a real trick up its sleeve…

This exciting brand new concept art was first posted by La Rouquine on Disney Central Plaza forum, and shows the expected Toon Town backdrop with its wall and studio entrance gate. A surprise addition, though, is the studio security booth. It was featured on the new map unveiled on 1st April, but with the area still under construction its presence in the final design was questionable – especially with this park’s history.

The wall, gate and archway are all distinctly more “toon” inspired than originally expected from earlier concepts, adding a huge boost of “character” to the Studios. It’s also fun to see that an idea from the very first Toon Studio concept has reappeared (and made it to reality) just in time – the “shooting schedule” board, which appears to give the times for character meets as well as details of the other productions (Crush’s Coaster, Cars, etc) currently filming.

Add it all together with details like the wavy yellow line along the middle of the street, the twisted blue toon lampposts and lots of new planting around this entrance square… and the Toon-y reality of this project is a stunning sight…

Simply a million miles from anything else at Walt Disney Studios Park, the area already exudes a fun, colourful atmosphere in these photos by Alain Littaye. Large planters hide pathways, details are everywhere and – in what could be a groundbreaking first for Imagineering – the reality actually looks more impressive than their original concepts. With Crush’s Coaster, Cars Race Rally and the new Toon Studio entrance area, this is three detail-rich areas in one relatively small space. Yet, thanks to the magic of the movies, it works.

Strangely, the “Toon Studio” lettering on the entrance arch currently faces inward, whilst on the concept – and according to logic – it should face outside of the studio, to the street where Goofy can be seen driving into the distance. An original idea here was for a food retail cart themed to “Goofy’s Catering Co.”, with the back end of the vehicle smashed into the wall. According to the latest word – and indeed to the new park map illustration, this theme is no longer planned.

Some details are still on their way, though, such as the 3D “Toon Town” lettering itself and several lights to fill the holes in the wall, like those seen on the concept above. Beyond this, the area will of course feature some brand new character locations. Mickey Mouse and The Incredibles have been shown in all recent concepts, but Ratatouille is the only confirmed taker for a spot in the new area, due to arrive in-person (or rather in-rodent-form) from 16th June 2007.

The photo above, by Scrooge on Disney Magic Interactive forum, shows the placement of the backdrop and security booth in relation to the rest of the new area, nestled in the corner next to Crush’s Coaster. The large bushes in front of this square, hiding it from guests passing by on “Route 66” outside Cars, can also be clearly spotted.

More hidden “weenies”, as they’re called in Imagineering terminology (like weenies in the distance drawing guests toward them) can be found a little closer to the current Animation Courtyard area. MagicMouse on Disney Central Plaza forum snapped the following photo over the fences a few weeks ago, giving an amazing angle on the new Studio 5. Picture Walt Disney Studios as you remember it, then take a look at this – the “Toon Effect” at its best…

The photo also shows details such as the green metal lamps attached to the dark wooden poles in the area, the blue fence surrounding the Animation Courtyard side of Cars and the light wooden supports for the future Crush’s Coaster entrance sign, which was recently revealed by in an updated piece of concept art.

The effects of the project haven’t just been felt in the new area either. Finally, some major changes to the existing Animation Courtyard have been completed, such as Animagique‘s new blue colour scheme and the new flooring pattern. Interestingly, the flooring directly in front of and surrounding Animagique has yet to be completed, despite this area being re-opened to the public. Concepts and even the new park map have shown new planters and flowers here on the unused overflow queue area, so this could indeed be a possibility for the future.

One thing that’s certain – blue is without doubt still the “in” colour for Toon design. Even the wall bordering this part of the land is ready to receive a coat, just like the extended wall leading up to Crush’s Coaster has. One notable absence of blue, though, is on the new railings surrounding the trees added way back in October. Not only has the railing taken over six months to arrive, but it features exactly the same pale green colour and style as the others around Disney Bros. Plaza – hardly giving an exciting entrance to the wonders of the “Toon Effect” that lie beyond…

And so here we are – less than one month to go until Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally are officially handed over from Walt Disney Imagineering to Euro Disney SCA for final operations tests. With the entire area expected to be complete by 9th June, this leaves exactly seven weeks for the Toons (and their Imagineers) to complete the transformation. They’ve come a long way already, but with an entrance statue to install, a Sorcerer Hat to decorate, flooring to finish and a whole new area to polish off, Mickey had better get working that magic wand…

Latest photos with thanks to Alain Littaye’s ‘Disney & More’ blog, Scrooge on Disney Magic Interactive forum, and Photos Magiques.

Saturday, 14th April 2007

(Video) Flying Carpets over Toon Studio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 9th April 2007

Press Release & Concepts: 15th grows with new attractions

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

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

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

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

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

Among projects that are part of the yearlong celebration:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Living Characters’ Debut with Stitch Attraction

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

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

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

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

All-New Live Entertainment in Disneyland Park

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

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

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

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

—– End Release —–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concept art © Disney; Captured exclusively by

Monday, 9th April 2007

Park Maps join the party, reveal secrets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos/scans by DLRP Today – maps © Disney.

Wednesday, 21st March 2007

Building the beautiful Big Blue

Our very first glimpse at one of the dark ride scenes inside the second portion of Crush’s Coaster (after the initial outside drop and before the spinning coaster section) comes from the French weekly weekend magazine VSD, which presents a special article dedicated to the backstage happenings of the Paris resort in commemoration of its upcoming anniversary.

Like the Dutch newspaper supplement we saw just last week, it seems Disneyland Resort Paris have been generous with the press images they supplied, giving a glimpse at attraction refurbishments, a parade waiting backstage and – of course – this first look at progress inside Crush’s Coaster.

As one of the concept creators checks plans for the colourful dark ride scene, another worker sprays paint on the detailed coral decor behind. The colour scheme is generally blue, with particular undersea plants highlighted in vibrant, saturated pinks, yellows and greens. The scene is very much reminsicent of that recently installed underwater in the Submarine Voyage lagoon of Disneyland Resort in California, though its use in a traditional dark ride design can clearly be seen.

The painted wall at the rear shows the minimal depth of the actual scenes – using advanced lighting and show design the Imagineers have been able to create very shallow scenes which, when correctly lit, appear to have the depth of the real Big Blue, allowing more space for a longer dark ride section on a comparatively small location.

The second image isn’t quite so beautiful, but is certainly a very exciting glimpse into the coaster building of the ride. With full work lights on, you can see the completed track we last saw disappear behind the concrete walls in July 2006. The large first drop can be seen middle-right, whilst turtle shell ride vehicles appear to be sitting on the brake run bottom-right, covered in protective plastic. Gantries, ladders and netting fill the roofspace, with some blue lights visible at the far end of the building.

Finally, a huge black diagonal tube can be seen on the left of the photo, enclosing the lift hill and providing the walls of the sunken submarine themeing inside. Bruce the shark, seen on-site just last month, can even be seen in position outside the submarine, waiting for the first guests to pounce on.

These photos are the latest in a growing series of unprecedented backstage previews from the resort, covering the breadth of its new 15th Anniversary attractions. Covering both sides of this unique attraction, they appear to prove that not only do we have a pretty thrilling coaster to look forward to, but that it has a beautiful Big Blue dark ride introduction to go with it.

Many thanks to abu on Disney Central Plaza forum for photographing these images.

Saturday, 17th March 2007

Work-in-progress Walt Disney Studios

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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