Is this an anniversary “just like we dreamed it” ? Surely, it has to be even better! Not only are four new attractions due to open in the next 12 months, but half of the park is currently being transformed with new themeing to form Toon Studio and Hollywood Studio. And if that wasn’t enough, perhaps the one remaining disappointing corner of the park has finally received the final nail in its coffin…
Just last week, our partner site WDSFans.com reported that the final closure date for Walt Disney Television Studios (the Television Production Tour) has now been confirmed to Cast Members. The attraction, which was never a great success (and became a source of both humour and embarrassment for fans), will officially close for good on 16th April 2007 to allow preparations for Stitch Encounter to begin. Farewell Julie… may your glorious singing and unforgettable hairstyles bring great joy to all in Yester-WDS!
For months now, the opening date of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally has been thrown around all over, from an originally confirmed 10th June opening to the more recent rumours of a 17th June opening, as Disneyland Resort Paris sat quietly in the corner and laughed… But perhaps there was a reason – since today, on the 5th birthday of the park, they have finally broken the wall of silence and announced a final, confirmed opening date… 9th June 2007!
The announcement comes from the official anniversary website, Disneyland15.com, though it appears the previously confirmed press event of 16th/17th June 2007 will still go ahead. The reason for this week delay is perhaps the grand opening of TGV Est on 10th June 2007, a new high-speed line to Eastern France that will open up many new destinations to both Paris and the resort itself. To ensure maximum possible coverage for these two incredibly important new attractions, then, the press will have to wait a week longer than guests for their grand premiere.
So – birthday popcorn all-round! This production is finally coming together, and with all the style and grace you’d expect from a tribute to the magic of the movies.
Beginning with the familiar view over Cars Race Rally, something here will catch your eye as interesting progress. The whole area has suddenly become surrounded by large wooden poles and posts of various sizes, most surrounding the ochre desert rocks. Though we can’t be sure if they’ll remain this size, they appear to be ready to act as path barriers and to help restrain the extra greenery due to arrive in this area, eventually forming a large natural sheild around the canyon from the courtyard outside Animagique.
However, a series of far larger poles could have a different story. Roughly bordering the future Route 66 leading from the Crush’s Coaster entrance to the far edge of the Cars area, their height gives the impression of large telegraph poles, a common sight along Route 66. Though perhaps currently, at least, their vast height is too large even for this when compared to the miniaturised canyon below. We’ll definitely keep you posted on this one. (oh yes!)
The poles even appear to tower above the Toon Town backdrop, seen above, which has now added a few more metal frames to its collection. These will eventually be the supports for various buildings in the faux environs of Toon Studio.
A few short steps and there’s even more progress to see, this time with paint and primer. Paint, for the side wall of the Crush’s Coaster dark-ride building. After the installation of the stunning “fresque” early last month, the wall to its left has finally received colour, leaving only the longer section of the building, to its right, without its ocean blue finish.
The primer is, of course, for Disney Studio 3. After several months of “will they”/”won’t they”, the front wall of the Animagique theatre was finally wrapped in scaffolding late last month and has already lost its classic yellow to a fresh coat of white primer. The building will almost certainly be repainted in the same blue as Art of Disney Animation and Disney Studio 5, completely tying the land together in a single, different colour scheme. No signs of work on the rear wall facing Front Lot have yet been reported, and, since blue here would throw off the entire park entrance, it’s safe to say this will remain yellow.
Now, whilst not an incredible step in the transformation of the land, it’s nice to see that the new planter in front of Art of Disney Animation (added last October) has now received some extra plants amongst its tall, stylised trees. No signs of a barrier around the planter yet, though this will perhaps be added along with the Sorcerer Mickey statue and his arch of stardust.
Time for the most major part of our update today – a unique look at the rapid progress made on Cars Race Rally recently. Specifically, the queue line buildings and boarding area. The photo above shows the circular entrance building with the pistachio-green Flo’s V8 Café canopy on the far right. Concrete flooring and queue line barriers can already be seen, and some very traditional Route 66 tiles have already been applied to the bare concrete of the circular building.
Finally, two photos exclusive to DLRP Today from Photos Magiques! Over the temporary fence next to Art of Disney Animation, the zoom lens focuses in further on the queue and boarding area, giving a very first look at the more industrial, “backstage” area of this Pixar “film set”. To familiarise yourself with the layout of the attraction, take a look at the map here.
In the first photo, one of the two boarding areas and the ride’s main control booth can be seen. The boarding areas will be used to group the correct number of guests ready for the two pairs of turntables, and the gas station themeing of Flo’s V8 Café can already be clearly seen. Rounded concrete footers and gas pump-themed supports will enclose guests, whilst the booth is themed somewhat like the pay kiosk of a Route 66 filling station. Buttons and control equipment can already be seen inside.
The second photo turns the lens as far to the left as possible, with the attraction entrance and Radiator Springs storefronts directly ahead. Upon entering the queue, guests will walk through several indoor corridors inside these “film set” buildings, before then stepping outside to this “backstage” canopy-covered area. The bare concrete form of the paths can be seen, and many of the queue line railings are already in place.
All three of these photos also show the height difference very clearly – once out of the higher entrance building, the paths lead down a small gradient into the Flo’s V8 Café boarding area seen above. This adds not only to the effect of the “canyon” ride area but to the general immersiveness of the entire Toon Studio area.
So much progress from every angle! And all in a park named after the champion of progress, Mr Disney himself. The themeing seems on an entirely different level to the rest of the current park, taking you into different, foreign lands, and they’re still not done! The next few weeks should see even more construction walls descend on the land, as the tarmac flooring is replaced with a more “Disney” alternative and Flying Carpets Over Agrabah receives a long-awaited, three week refurbishment.
And so, to end, a photo dug up from the WDSFans.com archives, taken little over one year ago, that truly shows the power of progress…
Before that, though, there’s another treat – footage of one of the spinning turtle shells in action, swooping from one side of the giant showbuilding to the other. The footage was likely captured at the same time as the preview photo seen a few weeks ago, since it features Imagineer Beth Clapperton and the walls of the showbuilding are clearly incomplete, meaning the ride system has been in testing for far longer than most would have suspected!
After one of the turtle shells completes a gliding drop and turn, Beth can be seen testing the spinning mechanism of one of the vehicles, giving us another look at this custom design Maurer SÃ¶hne vehicle in action. Then, the true amazement can begin – the very first look at one of the hotly discussed dark ride scenes, the left turn into the lift hill, disguised with the rusty body of Bruce’s sunken submarine.
The size, colouring and detail are certainly imposing – this truly looks like the real deal, a proper piece of Disney dark ride themeing with a rustic sea style strangely reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean. The attraction already appears to have a stronger theme than cousins Space Mountain: Mission 2 and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, though we’ll have to wait until June to decide if it can join them as a classic and popular Disney attraction.
Right now, let us rejoice that Walt Disney Studios Park will no longer be the only Disney Park “sans” dark ride (even if it is part of a roller coaster), and imagine seeing the same scene for real in just over three months, with music, lighting, and all that extra Imagineering magic still to be added…
The exciting unveiling today, captured by thebatman_1 in these photos posted on MagicForum, completes another piece of the puzzle for this new attraction, “turtally unique” to Paris.
The fresque is quite unlike anything used on a Disney attraction before, comparable only to the Hollywood backdrop on the Hyperion Theater at Disney’s California Adventure, or the billboard-style entrances of our own Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Studio Tram Tour.
It already appears a good attempt to solve the problem of how to theme a studio soundstage whilst still remaining within a “real working studio” theme, and with none of the vast expanses of bare walls seen elsewhere in the park upon its opening.
The covering to be used for the bare concerete walls still surrounding the main fresque on the front section of the building has yet to be confirmed.
But before that, a quick look at how general construction on the new attraction is going. More scaffolding has just appeared around the exit of the ride, between the metal roof of the queue and the rockwork covering which guests will walk through to re-enter the park. Towards the back of the new area, the wall surrounding “Toon Studio” can be seen, now looking ready for paint after being moulded and given texture. The actual “Toon Town” backdrop will be constructed behind.
Inside the queue itself, the huge amount of new planting is certainly giving no favours to anyone wanting a sneaky preview from Flying Carpets Over Agrabah. It appears, though, that the first railings have just been put in place, and work on the sculpted plaster on the wall of showbuilding continues. Eventually, the area will look like the basin of a dried-up fishing pier, with moulded concrete floors to look like wooden decking and the outer wall of the building themed to a large pier wall.
Backstage, usually a no-go area for pictures of any kind, a very recognisable prop for the sunken submarine-themed lift hill was caught on camera by EricLovesTZToT…
We reported back in October that Bruce would be 4 metres long, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint! At the time the photo was taken, he appears to be a simple shell, with workers fitting him out ready for installation.
And finally, here it is – the very first glimpse of a Crush’s Coaster turtle shell in action, sweeping down the curved outside drop, caught by Jeremy06b on the French Coastersworld forum. It passes by the workers watching from behind the fences before dropping into the sudden dip in the track and off-camera…
It seems recent days have seen an increase in the number of tests taking place, and since Disney attractions are always tested rigorously for around six months before their official opening, this probably won’t be the last we see of Crush’s turtle testing.
Bruce shark photo by EricLovesTZTOT, Ameworld forum. Testing photos and video by Jeremy06b, Coastersworld. Latest construction photos by Photos Magiques – more here.
We begin with Imagineer Beth Clapperton, who poses next to one the turtle shell ride vehicles from Crush’s Coaster in Toon Studio, holding plans to the entire track layout. The turtle shell follows all the usual standards of a Maurer SÃ¶hne Xtended SC-2000 car, with four seats back-to-back in rows of two. However, the car has also been extensively customised by the Disney Imagineers, extending the front and sides to perfectly resemble a turtle shell, with an incredible level of detail compared to other Disney ride vehicles.
The photo appears to have been taken on the break-run of the attraction’s “coaster” section, likely sometime in mid-2006 since the building does not appear to be fully enclosed. It also seems restraints and seat backs had yet to be fitted to the first vehicle at this point.
Next up, we move across to Cars Race Rally and into the backstage workshops of Walt Disney Imagineering, where a life-size Luigi is being crafted by hand for the upcoming attraction. Also sporting an exceptional level of detail, Luigi is due to appear at the Casa Della Tires photo location near the attraction’s entrance (see the map here), similar to the Mike Wazowski and CDA figures at the Monsters Inc Scream Scene location.
As you can see from the photo, it luckily seems that the resort have been given the rights to use the badge of this 1959 Fiat 500 on the real-life reproduction itself. Guido, Luigi’s forklift sidekick, is also expected to appear at the finished attraction, marking the first time these characters have been created in life-size 3D form.
Finally, the series of photos take us into the colourful Costuming Workshop at the ImagiNations building, backstage at Walt Disney Studios, for a glimpse at two stunning new dresses created exclusively for Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade. The dresses featured are Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, and the “one that started it all”, Snow White.
Along with rich, glistening fabrics and remarkable attention to detail, the dresses have been peppered with beautiful gold-laced leaves, petals and flowers (roses for Belle), allowing them to match perfectly with the garden-themed “Dreams of Romance” finale float where they will be featured. This is the first time such a high level of customisation has been used to allow the dresses to match their floats.
Sumptuous dresses, detailed props and “turtally” unique ride vehicles, all oozing Disney quality… as if the 15th Anniversary wasn’t an exciting enough prospect already!
Article 4 is a quick look at the two main construction sites at Walt Disney Studios Park, whilst article 5 is perhaps more interesting – a look at the lighting design of the new attractions, in particular Cars Race Rally. Lighting engineer Tracy Eck confirms the small Radiator Springs reproduction will feature “lots of neons”, just as in the Pixar film.
It should be noted that the Tower of Terror story described in article 4 is incorrect – there is no fire, although the pre-show video does show a family entering the Twilight Zone. You can find the true story here.
Series: Backstage at Disneyland Paris (4/5)
Three new attractions this year
To celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris, the park’s teams at Marne-la-Vallée (Seine et Marne) are assembling themselves ready.
For the 15th Anniversary, there are three names to remember. Cars, Nemo and Tower of Terror. The three names of the new attractions of Disney. Confirmed in 2004 as the gifts of a relaunch of the resort, the first two will be unveiled in June with the final following in late 2007 or early 2008. Construction is in progress, and, with Roland Kleve as our guide, we have exceptionally been able to visit two. For more than a year, this tall 43-year old Dutch man has coordinated the works, which requires knowing scores of companies inside and out.
“TOT” as the specialists on the project say (the attraction already exists in the US and Japan), promises some truly strong sensations. “In 1939, this grand hotel was hit by a lightning bolt” recounts Roland, whilst climbing the steps of the 57m high tower. “There was a fire on the 13th floor and a family remains trapped.” Guests are invited to step into one of three elevators. Possessed elevators. “In the US, we built it in metal, but in France this is not allowed” assures Roland. “A blow, since to pour the concrete structure, we had to keep going for 45 days without stopping” he bellows, himself amazed.
Several metres away, behind tall construction walls, a self-contained world is in the process of being made inside the Studios, the second park opened by Mickey for his tenth anniversary in France. Here we find a first, developed especially for France. Crush’s Coaster, from the world of Finding Nemo. Developed with Pixar Animation Studios thanks to a computer generated simulation, it promises to match the love for Space Mountain. “It’s a small roller coaster which hides countless surprises” announces Roland with his particular style. Seated in the shell of a turtle, we pass by coral before diving into the blackness of the ocean, where familiar fish lead you to places where undersea monters lie in wait amongst the wrecks. At the half-way point, the shell begins to spin on itself when, right ahead… drop! This is the key to the ride, and won’t be revealed!
Article: Julie Cloris, Translation: DLRP Today, Scan: Narindra, DCP forum
Series: Backstage at Disneyland Paris (5/5)
She illuminates the world of Mickey
For the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris, which will be celebrated from 1st April 2007, today we conclude our series of profiles on those who, in the shadows, are preparing the festivities.
If there was a department happy with the thick cloud that regularly covers the sky over the theme park resort, this has to be the one. Tracy Eck is responsible for lighting design at Disneyland Paris, in particular one of those who will “theatricalise” the three new attractions inaugerated this year: Crush’s Coaster, Tower of Terror (see the previous article), and Cars. Unlike the themeing, which can be hidden by a grey blanket, thick fogs can be the accomplice of a lighting designer. “They define the lights” smiles the 45-year old American, educated at the Théâtre national de Strasbourg. “In fog, an illuminated neon produces an immediate effect. The only thing which annoys me is when it reveals a beam of light we tried to hide.”
“The most effective and economical lighting possible”
Being a lighting engineer at Disneyland Paris is equivalent almost to being a magician. To have the result without revealing the illusion. Of the 2,500 points of lighting being installed, two thirds will be invisible. For Crush’s Coaster, spotlights, bulbs and filters will go to recreate bubbles and swirls. The auto racecourse of Cars presents the difficulty of being entirely outside. Drawn from the success of the eponymous Pixar Studios, it is in the process of being constructed amongst rocks coloured with hot, ochre tones. “Cars is a gift to light,” exlaims Tracy. “We have specially conceived two large lights, and there will be lots of neons. Radiator Springs has all the charm of the time when Route 66 made dreams. It was the first time you could go from Chicago, my home town, to the West coast of the United States.”
To create this atmosphere, as well as the Art Deco walls lights and chandliers which decorate the interior of the Tower of Terror, Tracy spent nine months in California. “The majority of our materials are European, but some products are coming from the United States. We exchange a huge amount of information, and our data bank is communal for all the Disney parks. We work on the main design, making sure it fits with the time period, and then we study the lighting which will be the most effective yet the most economical.” With 300,000 lighting points, of which 100,000 for parades, they can’t have the bulbs burning out every two months!
Article: Julie Cloris, Translation: DLRP Today, Scan: Narindra, DCP forum
The presentation and quick inputs from Imagineers during the brief segment simply introduce the characters and describe the ride. Far more interesting, as always with these wonderful little Filmparade shows, are the visuals – here, we’re treated to our very first glimpses at scale models of the boarding area, dark ride scenes and roller coaster, amongst copious construction shots. Later, we even get to see – for the first time – one of those already infamous Turtle Shell ride vehicles…!
After an introduction to the project and some quick shots of construction, the featurette gets right into the good stuff – a bright, colourful, detailed scale model of those mysterious dark ride scenes! The first image features one of the digital projections of Nemo, also featured in Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends and Disneyland’s Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.
The scenes resemble those of a classic dark ride, with the actual area between track and wall being remarkable small – depth in the scenes is instead created through design and lighting. The colours and detail clearly show the scenes as more similar to those of Disneyland’s new Submarine Voyage – with the water drained out, of course!
We’ve heard tales and legends of the Sydney harbour fishing pier-themed boarding area, and now here’s the proof. Looking a little like the theme of Pirates of the Caribbean mixed with the industrial design of Rock n Roller Coaster, the area already looks colourful, detailed and very impressive.
The first image shows the turn after the station, leading to the first lift hill, with the operating booth in the blue building in the middle. The second shows the platform itself, with steps leading down from the queue line bridge, turnstiles and… seagulls, on the roof of the operating booth. These will be almost identical to those outside the Epcot attraction.
In the next shot, the camera gives a guest’s perspective on the area as you exit the ride, showing the incredible theme and detail – and this is only a maquette! Lots of signs and details can already be seen, with lighting, props and – can you believe it? – animatronics all serving to create a truly themed scene.
Next, the camera pulls away from the front of the showbuilding to give an overview of the ride, useful for those still new to the project.
The next three shots show the scale model of the spinning roller coaster section itself. Whilst the design is basically a standard Maurer-Sohne layout, this gives a first look at the way lighting and scenery will be integrated into the ride. Besides the enclosed lift hill, one section of the track in particular is enclosed by a ring of lighting effects similar to the red vortex of Space Mountain: Mission 2.
After a few final camera shots attempting to show what an on-ride view will be like, here comes the big surprise – the Turtle Shell ride vehicle! Though not mounted on the track, the vehicle has been invaded by a few Imagineers, as they check out what it’ll be like for guests once they’re on-board the ride and inside the coaster.
The vehicle itself certainly appears to be one of the final fleet, clearly following the standard Maurer-Sohne design yet with all the turtle shell trimmings as expected. Maurer’s vehicles have been themed well in the past, but once again Disney appear to have taken it to a new level of customisation.
The segment was recorded and uploaded by www.dlrpmagic.eu (not associated with us!) and should still be available for download over there if you’d like to see the pictures in motion.
The first conifer next to Willy’s Butte rock formation confirms the realistic Mid-West North American desert theme of the movie-based attraction, and marks a drastic departure from the tropical palms shared by Crush’s Coaster and Flying Carpets. A second tree in front of Crush’s Coaster is waiting to be planted, though it has to be asked how these full-size trees will affect the miniturised scale and forced perspective of Willy’s Butte.
The bright, blue rockwork of Crush, recently uncovered from its scaffolding wrapping, still invites the attention of guests from as far away as Walt Disney Television Studios. As you near the rockwork (or zoom in with a camera), however, the true detail really appears, with authentic coral formations and shapes hidden throughout the faux frontage.
From aboard Flying Carpets, the huge amount of palms surrounding the queue and exit paths has begun to restrict views much more. Through the leafy greenery, however, you can spot progress on the paths around the area and a new protective covering over the soil of the planters. The path around the front of the rockwork will actually be separated from the rockwork itself, meaning guests will not be able to lean or climb on the scenery – or see the track of the spinning rollercoaster just several centimetres lower.
At Cars Race Rally, window frames in the entrance building have appeared. A full colour layout plan of the upcoming attraction was recently added to the DLRP Magic preview.
And finally, a perfect New Year gift – confirmation of the opening and soft opening dates of the two new attractions (and therefore the area as a whole). Revealed first by Walt Disney Studios tribute website WDSFans.com, previews of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally will take place from 31st May to 8th June 2007. It is not yet clear whether these are full Soft Openings for all guests or restricted previews only for Annual Passholders and Shareholders. Soft openings are a Disney Park tradition, fully opening new attractions to all guests for testing and feedback. Whilst guests visiting during these dates should be lucky enough to experience the new attractions, testing is still ongoing and the rides can be closed for tweaking and maintenance at any time.
And the Grand Opening itself? Latest schedules say Sunday 10th June 2007, leaving the 9th June free for press and VIP previews.
From the aerial vantage point of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, the full ensemble of palm trees can be seen in a single glance. Spreading from the Flying Carpets entrance across the three new ‘oasis’ islands and now right around the queue line of Crush’s Coaster, it looks like the fan plea for more palms has finally been answered. The trees divide up the paths into smaller, cosier, more Disney-style routes, and finally add a sense of adventure and discovery to the Studios’ otherwise simplistic layout.
The outside queue line’s unpromising metallic canopy has been swarmed by more palm trees, filling gaps which lead through to the outside world or the Genie’s Flying Carpets set. It appears paths are now in the process of being laid, whilst a reinforced, vertical concrete block (which has been in place for several weeks) hints at more still to come. Curiously, work on painting the sides of the lower ‘dark ride’ building has not yet begun.
According to the only concept sketch available, the metallic roof will remain unthemed, with the only detail being lights similar to those outside Armageddon: Special Effects. Instead, in true movie-set style, the theme will only be found around the ‘stars’ (guests) themselves, with supports, signage and build-ups of sand suggesting a dried-up fishing pier.
Aside from the palm trees and setting-out of pathways in the area, a major change making the attraction begin to look a lot like complete is the removal of scaffolding on the rockwork. Now not only does the blue look a whole lot brighter, but the layering and detail of the rockwork becomes more clear. Photo 4 above shows that the highest points of the rocks are actually separate from the building, with the gap likely making the addition of the building’s giant poster mural much easier to accomplish.
The design softens the traditional hard-edged soundstage design seen elsewhere in the Studios, as well as very cleverly sheilding almost all of the ride’s track from view.
The rockwork features three holes – the first, on the right, is the attraction’s exit. Next, where the turtle shell vehicles will dive out of the showbuilding, and finally the third where they will re-enter after the small outside drop, heading into the dark-ride scenes of the ride.
It’s becoming clearer by the day that Crush’s Coaster – and infact the whole of Toon Studio – is a wildly imaginative piece of Imagineering, vastly different to anything else in the park, at Disney’s other studio park in Florida or even at any Disney park worldwide. Not only will Crush’s Coaster introduce European theme park favourite Maurer SÃ¶hne to Disney theme parks, but it marks a massive shift in style for Disney attraction design. With this project, imagination really has run riot.
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