The first detailed look at part of the multi-year Walt Disney Studios Park expansion has been revealed, as Disneyland Paris tease a new concept image for the Marvel reworking of the park’s existing Backlot.Read More…
Positioned next to Disney Blockbuster Café at the very back of the park, the meet ‘n’ greet experience has been a huge success since opening on 19th April.
Primarily said to be funded as part of Sony Pictures’ European marketing of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it has nevertheless been keenly marketed by Disneyland Paris themselves, including on the front of the Studios’ weekly Programme guide. Disneyland Paris is the first and only Disney resort to feature the character.
Despite the off-route location, queues have been steady and strong to meet the masked Marvel hero. Inside, guests themselves surrounded by giant newspaper pages reporting his victories, before literally stepping into the front page of the Daily Bugle to pose with Spidey themselves. It’s a light but very polished experience which has at last breathed life into Backlot, perhaps the most characterless Disney theme park area in history.
Many had therefore hoped Peter Parker’s alter ego would extend his stay, and several sources report there is now no currently confirmed end date with Spidey definitely sticking around until 31st August.
Besides the current movie release, this integration of Spider-Man into the land chimes perfectly with longstanding rumours for a Marvel makeover of Backlot. Much grander than a simple meet ‘n’ greet room, most rumours point to a complete re-theming of the area’s three attractions to Marvel themes, with street sets and building façades (perhaps depicting New York or similar) finally providing a story between them.
Just last week rumours surfaced of a minor Marvel-themed extension to Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure, Disney’s second Californian park. MiceAge suggests a series of modest walk-through exhibits and meet ‘n’ greet opportunities are in the works, expanding on the current Marvel tie-ins at Disneyland’s Innoventions.
In Paris, the Marvel redevelopment could be rather more ambitious, with three genuine (and already reasonably strong) attractions to work with. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster setting your Spidey senses tingling? Marvel superheroes in the Moteurs Stunt Show arena? Perhaps they just need to sell a few more souvenir character meet ‘n’ greet photos to fund it…
We really hope you like your Disney character rumours, because here’s another. Fellow fansite DlrpExpress.fr reports today that a Spider-Man photo location could be on its way to Backlot in Walt Disney Studios Park, occupying empty space next to Disney Blockbuster Café.
This room was originally an outdoor terrace in 2002, before being enclosed soon after opening in order to add more capacity to the dining venue.
Despite this, it has rarely been regularly used and was most recently turned into a short-lived second Bureau Passport Annuel, Annual Passport sales office. Currently, it sits empty with just a few display cases and lonely High School Musical 3 posters.
Not just a welcome use for this wasted space, a Spider-Man location here in Backlot would be the first step in the long-awaited addition of Marvel characters to Walt Disney Studios Park.
Rumours have grown since Disney’s 2009 acquisition of the comic book company that this corner of the park could see a full superhero makeover. At one point, there was even speculation that Armageddon: Les Effets Speciaux in particular could be rethemed to Spider-Man.
Yet to date, the most the park has seen is the former “High School Musical room” of Disney Blockbuster Café replaced by an “Iron Man room” — a generous way to describe putting a few new posters up, detailed in Photos Magiques’ recent report.
Around the world, only Hong Kong Disneyland has officially announced the first Marvel-themed attraction, a 3D motion simulator dubbed Iron Man Experience. Meanwhile California, as usual, has been at the forefront with the first Marvel characters taking up residence with special exhibits and meet ‘n’ greets for Iron Man, Thor and (soon) Captain America at Innoventions.
Rumour states Disneyland Paris could welcome Spider-Man as soon as mid-March, making it the first Disney park to feature the character in any form. So far, the live “Disney” character version has only appeared very briefly, at last year’s D23 Expo (see video below).
Disneyland Paris has now, for some time, sold a large range of Spider-Man comic book and cartoon merchandise, above other Marvel characters.
While Disney would base its theme park characterisation on Disney XD‘s successful Ultimate Spider-Man animated TV series (pictured top), it’s surely no coincidence that this year also sees Sony Pictures release its second “rebooted” film, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, under its ownership of the movie rights, boosting the attractiveness of such a tie-in.
For Walt Disney Studios Park, having such a name on its books would be an incredible coup, massively elevating the park’s credentials. Certainly more so than its previous movie tie-in catalogue of Armageddon, Reign of Fire and Dinotopia, don’t you agree?
Video of Spider-Man’s D23 Disney character appearance follows… Read More…
Pick up a Park Programme under Main Street Station or inside Disney Studio 1 between tomorrow and next Friday and you’ll now get a little more than just the latest show and parade times. This week’s guide has gone full-colour with a New Generation Festival theme and extended in size to feature a new discount voucher, offering a 20% discount at selected restaurants. Valid before 12pm and between 2.30pm and 6pm each day, the special discount can be used at Cowboy Cookout Barbecue, Fuente del Oro Restaurante, Restaurant Hakuna Matata, Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost, Café Hyperion, Au Chalet de la Marionnette, Toad Hall Restaurant and Plaza Gardens Restaurant in Disneyland Park, whilst your choice in Walt Disney Studios Park is between Disney Blockbuster Café and Restaurant des Stars.
Disneyland Paris park guides have always contained a little tip that guests should try to dine during these “off peak” hours for shorter queues, but this is the first time Disney has offered such a tempting bonus for doing so. The savings could be big, especially if you’re with a family. Four people taking the €23.70 Buffet menu at Plaza Gardens Restaurant, for example, would pay €75.84 rather than €94.80 — a considerable saving of €18.96, especially if you’re having to use the still rather unforgiving Pound/Euro exchange rate. And if you’re going to take advantage, did you know DLRP Magic.com now has fully up-to-date complete menus for all those restaurants listed above? Take a look!
This “Paiements sans Contact” initiative was first announced back in July and began right on schedule on 3rd October.
How does it work? Unfortunately, it won’t work at all for most of us yet. Although most of us have seen the waterslide advert for Barclaycard’s system, the technology now at Disneyland Paris is currently only open to users who have a (French) bank account with CIC or Crédit Mutuel (who just recently actually became a new official partner of the resort), and have already signed up to a trial of those banks’ early contactless payment schemes.
If you’re lucky enough to qualify for all of that, your new credit card contains a special chip that can be read without contact when lightly touched or flashed across one of the new devices, first caught on camera by Scrooge at Disney Magic Interactive in Walt Disney Studios Store:
This allows users to pay for their Disney shopping — or even better, food — in a second. No fumbling with Euro cent coins, no waiting behind someone as they try every combination of four digits possible. Contactless cards allow instant payments up to a certain, safe amount. Just imagine the effect that could have within a few years on those ugly counter service queues.
You’ll find the trial machines now at the following locations:
• Casey’s Corner (Disneyland Park)
• Café Hyperion (Disneyland Park)
• Chalet de la Marionette (Disneyland Park)
• Disney Blockbuster Café (Walt Disney Studios Park)
• Club House Grill (Golf Disneyland)
• Walt Disney Studios Store (Walt Disney Studios Park)
• Goofy’s Pro Shop (Golf Disneyland)
Not that such an innovation needs a carrot to quash any possible stick, but Disneyland Paris are also offering trial users of the scheme an incredibly generous 25% discount at boutiques and 20% discount at restaurants!
Oh, but one more condition of the test — you need an Annual Passport, too.
Phew, we don’t see the man on the waterslide going through all this… but it’s definitely something to watch for the future. Find out all the official information (in French) right here.
In reality, the former Backlot Express has been open for all but a couple of weeks as it has been re-dressed to become Disney Blockbuster Café these past months, with only the Pirates section closed for its more major changeover.
The result gives a mostly bare, mostly bland restaurant filled with High School Musical banners and posters… with a surprisingly ambitious Pirates of the Caribbean room tacked onto one side.
Early reviews are in, and they’re calling it’s the “coolest” place to eat:
Well, at least the correction printed in the current Programme for the Park Guide (which still lists Backlot Express until November) says so.
And, with the first guests seated in the new area, Kayshaman for DLRP Times provides the first photos:
There’s the tilted mast — the large platform and sail above it helping to give this area a much more intimate feel from the bare warehouse before. The lights have also been changed, to a flickering candle effect, and the props appear to include — hold onto your seat — something related to the films themselves: the circular map from At World’s End, the third film?
The idea behind the restaurant appears to be similar to Planet Hollywood, dining amongst movie memorabilia and themes, yet with only look-a-like items and reprinted High School Musical posters for the memorabilia. At least, we have to assume so — if any of these items are real props, they’ve made the same mistake as before: not labelling them.
In case you’re not familiar with the building, here’s a plan to show the new layout:
As you can see, there’s a whole lot of High School Musical in there. That’s not surprising, considering it’s been so easy to give a feel of that film’s perfect, whitewashed school in this empty warehouse, but could turn out more than a little disappointing if the rumoured continual updates of new films and themes don’t materialise.
According to the original rumours, after all, the restaurant would see changing themes every year or so, allowing a place for the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures arm of Disney to promote their latest films without covering Disney Studio 1 with, say, a giant billboard.
There’s your preview. Look out for our full, scurrilous review with both pictures and video in a couple of weeks. Until then, give your verdict (from 1 to 5 stars) in our Question of the Week to the right of this article.
Pictures: Kayshaman for DLRP Times.
The modern, silver Ford Focus parked outside, its windows covered in High School Musical 3 stickers, has miraculously disappeared from beside the yellow taxi.
Though vehicles are a feature elsewhere in Backlot, this car looked entirely out of place. So, with a removal, Disney Blockbuster Café actually scores new points.
And inside, those points have begun to mount up considerably when you take a look at the progressing theme in the Pirates of the Caribbean room. The sails, wooden banisters, wheel, yellow stained windows and ship’s stern have been joined by at least two huge ships’ masts jutting up from the floor at angles.
One has a torn piece of wood angled across it halfway up, whilst the other, seen in the picture above, appears to have a crow’s nest. Notice also that the large garage windows have been given a blue-tinted covering, perhaps to simulate moonlight!
Walking back around looking at the reverse of this area, through the door next to Restaurant des Stars, we can see that the storage cage next to the serving area has been dressed up with a full set of nautical accessories and props, from chests and barrels to bottles, nets and a wheel.
All looking very good — atmospheric, well-dressed. The only problem still? A distinct lack of Disney’s pirates. However, perhaps that’s where those display cases will come into play. A couple more, in fact, have popped up in the room on the far side of the restaurant.
This additional room was actually originally just a raised outdoor terrace, but was soon enclosed for the park’s first Winter. It remains very cold, however, heated only by electric coil heaters, and the basic High School Musical posters installed to replace the torn-out props don’t help.
Here we can see the other half of the game — whilst the Pirates area is very well-themed but lacking in relationship to the Disney franchise, the ‘HSM’ area is, honestly, largely unthemed but playing very, very close to the franchise — almost like a walk through the film’s publicity department, in fact.
Pictures: Photos Magiques (see more in the latest update here!)
After the changes seen in our four month news round-up, now come more new additions. The Pirates of the Caribbean room, situated to the left of the serving area, with large windows looking out across to Armageddon: Les Effets Speciaux, continues to impress rather more than its High School Musical partner.
Now, in addition to the ship’s wheel and wooden bannisters — not to mention the ceiling filled with torn “sails” — a large ship’s stern, with three lanterns and yellow stained glass windows has appeared, just behind the wheel —
If you’d have asked any fan what the inside of Backlot Express needed — beyond a more interesting menu — they’d have probably said more atmosphere, a more enclosed environment. So, on first glance, this area of the re-do seems to have the right intentions.
Whilst the generic props warehouse of Backlot Express was interesting enough, it was generally too bright and too barren for an Aladdin’s cave — too cheaply-built, to put it bluntly. Will these changes solve that? Banners and posters based on High School Musical and decorations merely similar to Pirates of the Caribbean? This ship’s wheel, stern and torn bedsheets look nice and all, but what relevance do they have to this Disney franchise?
For a Disney theme park restaurant — especially one with “Disney” in the name — it all feels slightly distant from the mouse. Imagineering appear to be only very loosely involved — if involved at all. The ‘HSM’ theme was likely a popular choice because a few posters and banners are enough to support it.
The pleasing canyon mural by the payment desks has been replaced by a giant poster for High School Musical 3. The room is now a branding assault on the eyes, not a themed environment.
Rumours promised us actual props from the Pirates trilogy, to arrive “at the last minute”. Since the restaurant was also rumoured for completion in July, but continues to tip-toe ahead with only slight changes each week, that “last minute” doesn’t appear to have come yet. In fact, no-one truly seems to know how this project will turn out.
Previously, guests could admire an array of items in this props warehouse ranging from the rather famous (real Armageddon miniature sets, a real Speeder Bike from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) to the not-so-famous (hundreds of bric-a-brac items).
Whether the redecorated venue sinks or swims rests on this. If the new restaurant doesn’t feature real props from its two chosen franchises, what will have been the point?
The worst thing about Backlot Express was and is its ugly, unwelcoming exterior, second its menu and third its interior. Like every other change across the Studios — the change to ‘Restaurant des Stars‘, the tiny ice cream kiosk, the plethora of entrances now leading into Walt Disney Studios Store — this could end up just another cover-up job. None of the issues have really been addressed, there just appears to be a hope here that in-your-face branding based on distant franchises will suffice.
But still — we must watch the horizon with hope. Since Jack Sparrow came back from the dead (sorry — spoiler), anything is still possible. Isn’t it?
Pictures: VDR, Main Street Gazette forum; Photos Magiques; DLRP Today.
Well yes, quite a lot obviously. Just shows you shouldn’t go wandering into the Adventure Isle caves just before park closing… it’s been four long months!
If you’ve been similarly deprived of Disneyland Resort Paris news, given up trying to translate what they’re saying on the French forums, sit back and enjoy a quick and concise round-up of all the big stories of recent months — here we go!
SLEEPING BEAUTY’S BLING
Was it coincidence that updates here ended just about the time that Sleeping Beauty Castle succumbed to its most horrific, misguided meddling-with to date?
The birthday cake, the jester’s hat, the Epcot wand, the MGM hat… you’ve met your match. There truly aren’t enough negative adjectives in the dictionary.
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MAGICAL PARTY LAUNCHES WITH MEGA-PARTY
‘You’re invited!’ …but not to this. Press and media types were schmoozed in spectacular fashion as new theme year Mickey’s Magical Party kicked off with fireworks, projections, lights and so many characters they couldn’t even all fit on the damn stage.
Did it generate headlines, articles, media coverage? No.
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ACTUAL PARTY GROWS ON FANS
Frustratingly-titled new Central Plaza show ‘It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends’ initially looked rather like a drab flop on an overbearing and unnecessary new stage, but it has grown on most fans. The score by Vasile Sirli is actually plain fantastic (especially considering the lacklustre music in the year’s other new shows) and it provides a fresh, colourful heart for the year.
Watch the full show in HD here.
ShoulderKids – this year’s must-have accessory
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LIGHT MAGIC GIVEN FORMAL APOLOGY
Over in Discoveryland, the other show with an annoying name — ‘It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland’ — brought delights such as large, primary-coloured circles on the floor of a retro-futuristic land, and the expertly-chosen hits of Block Party Bash.
Despite the show being considered terrible on every level by most who’ve seen it, the performers put so much effort and energy into their routine they each almost deserve a window on Main Street.
Watch the full show in HD here.
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PLAYHOUSE DISNEY QUIETLY OPENS
Beyond the forced MMP hoopla over the other side of the esplanade, Walt Disney Studios Park gained a brand new attraction — its fifth addition since opening — in ‘Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!’. Jolly good fun it is too — wonderfully staged, very charming. The Paris version even has a “1 Up” on the two earlier versions with a big new pre-show studio.
Watch the full show in HD here.
Credit crunch souvenirs
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Changing its name to ‘Restaurant des Stars’, the far too interestingly-named ‘Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant’ gained a new logo, some new colours and a new entrance canopy.
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DUDE LOOKS LIKE A FIRE!
In a quite bizarre coincidence, just days after fans launched an online April Fool suggesting Aerosmith would be succeeded by French rocker Johnny Hallyday as musical guests at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, a fire began in the roof of the showbuilding.
Luckily the damage was minor — though it did allow for these dramatic photos (below) as the inspection crews ripped off the cladding, checked and replaced it. The attraction reopened just the next day.
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SMEE GIVEN SURGERY
Captain Hook’s bumbling first mate was given a random makeover by the worldwide Disney Parks character team and, unlike most famous faces, he returned from the cosmetic surgery with a face more expressive than before. Remarkable.
Hopefully they’ll tackle some of the clearly worse-looking characters next, like the dead-eyed Woody, Jessie and Buzz…
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HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL PARTY!
Now back for a third year, the Studios’ High School Musical show this year gained musical numbers from the third film but stopped short of going for the full ‘HSM3’ show the other resorts put on. ‘I Want it all’ is the standout number, but one that certainly won’t win over any new fans.
Watch the full show in HD here.
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The ‘Smoking Areas’ inside the parks had been extended little beyond their miniature park map icons, so it’s reassuring to see that each area now has its own themed sign, tied into the location. Give it a few years and the public might actually use them.
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STUDIO STORE OPENS UP
Behind construction walls last time we saw it, the Walt Disney Studios Store has now been completed, with three new doors and payment desks in front of new, large windows.
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Main Street has always had the best-kept exteriors of the entire park, always popping with a fresh bit of paint here or there. A new development in recent years are the nice tarpaulin coverings given images of the building hiding behind. Even for tiny spots like this one on the end of The Storybook Store, the hidden façade is still presented on top.
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PLAZA GARDENS GLEAMS
After a major refurbishment of the interior, including bringing the central fountain back to daily life, the whole Plaza Gardens Restaurant building was wrapped in themed tarps for an expensive top-to-bottom refurbishment and repaint. It didn’t stand out as being particularly bad before, there are other areas needing paint sooner, but it does look fantastic.
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STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES
Over the hub, it’s surprising to see that the refurbishment of Disney Studio 1 continues, the huge centrepiece building of the park still wrapped up in scaffolding. Must be a bigger job than originally thought, right?
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FLOORS OF ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY
Tripped up in Disneyland Park recently? No wonder, some of the concrete pathways are literally falling to pieces. Thankfully, the first resurfacing works seen for many years have been taking place, with areas of Adventure Isle and vast swathes of Discoveryland closed off and given new flooring, the effect — especially just in front of Space Mountain — very noticeably making the whole land look brand new.
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TENNIS, MICE, MAIN STREET
Some of the resort’s press and advertising efforts have been surprisingly inventive this year, like this — turning the top of Main Street into a full-size tennis court and inviting Gaël Monfils and Stanislas Wawrinka to play with Mickey Mouse.
Just a few days later, Serena Williams visited the park and was met in front of the Castle by Minnie Mouse, wearing a special tennis player costume.
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Effectively the biggest change of the past few months, the news in April and subsequent official changeover in May that has seen ‘Disneyland Resort Paris’ — the resort’s name since the 2002 opening of Walt Disney Studios Park — change back to just plain ‘Disneyland Paris’.
It certainly makes sense — the extra word was always unpopular, confusing to non-English speakers and now, with every park from Alton Towers to your local fairground claiming itself as a “Resort”, it simply doesn’t have any value. “Disneyland Resort Paris” is cumbersome and never spoken, “Disneyland Paris” is short and very strong. Whilst things like the official website have changed over, don’t expect this to be an overnight transition — the new (or rather, old) logo will reappear just as and when things need replacing.
Unfortunately, this decision — made by new CEO Philippe Gas himself — came in April, just weeks after the resort had launched a whole new brand campaign for the theme year. These traditionally start in April, and everything from Cast Member name tags to park tickets and guidemaps had already been printed up with the full “Disneyland Resort Paris” name. Smart name reversal, silly timing.
There’s also a whole myriad of logo variations now available (above). Which should be used, when? The standard logo is being presented as two-colour, with the “Paris” in a gold gradient that already looks rather dated.
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BURNING FIRES, FLOWING WATERS
Tasked with bringing back old and forgotten effects, a new “taskforce” within the resort’s maintenance department has been one of the most positive steps in recent months. We already appear to have seen some brilliant reawakened touches, such as the torches on Fort Comstock at the entrance to Frontierland (lit from nightfall)…
And the water channels leading to the drinking fountains beside La Cabane des Robinson.
Whilst a long way short of having the full irrigation system working again (water should be hoisted right up to the top of the tree by the water wheel, before being poured out and running through the channels back to ground level), it’s great to think someone took the time to figure this out.
Elsewhere, these moving fairground balloons inside Boardwalk Candy Palace have been back working again, for the first time in years.
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CAFE DE LA BROUSSE
Mostly sitting closed, Café de la Brousse has never the less just had a large-scale refurbishment completed, bringing colour back to the “bush café” buildings. Dole is presented heavily as the host, but still no one thinks of bringing the legendary Dole Whip to Paris!
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DISNEY VILLAGE NOW ‘COOL’
So. It took a Starbucks to make Disney Village “hip” again.
Yes, it meant losing the wonderful Buffalo Trading Co. and inviting a quite equally despised/appreciated corporation into a Disney-branded area, but the coffeehouse itself was built using genuinely eco-friendly ideas and looks really quite trendy inside, with a wonderfully modern exterior — industrial elements clashing beautifully with earthy materials.
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ROSES PAINTED RED, FINALLY!
The on-off refurbishment of Alice’s Curious Labyrinth — with little areas regaining sparkle each month or so — has continued, the Paris-exclusive attraction even seeing… new paint! The red edgings of the entire labyrinth have finally been repainted, a year after similar edgings on the Fantasyland-Discoveryland path received paint before them, and scenes like the Caterpillar suddenly “pop” like they should again:
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ROBINSONS RETURN TO LA CABANE
Also brought back to life this Summer is La Cabane des Robinson, previously the only other “blackspot” alongside the Labyrinth. For too long the treehouse has been bleak and worn. Props missing, effects broken, no colour. It was as if the Robinsons had long ago moved on from their treetop abode. Not any more — refreshed woodwork, new props and a complete clean-up really make it “pop”. Effects like the self-playing organ are still missing.
Even the water fountains were revisited and given an extra spruce-up:
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WOODCARVER’S WORKSHOP RE-OPENS
Not entirely the amazing news that might suggest, but nevertheless the long-abandoned Woodcarver’s Workshop over in Cottonwood Creek Ranch, next to what is now Woody’s Roundup, has finally been brought back into service — selling drinks and souvenir photos from the character meet ‘n’ greets inside.
A long way from the actual woodcarvers who used to create personalised souvenirs here, but good to see it alive and well in some form, eh?
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ENCHANTED FIREWORKS DAMPENED AGAIN
The Enchanted Fireworks have returned for their second year — dampened again in similar style to the later shows last year, when the nearby town of Chessy apparently banged on the wall and issued a loud “shhh”. Fans, and even apparently some regular guests, aren’t too impressed with the “new” show.
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ATTRACTION OPEN 12:00 – 12:05
The same limited opening schedule of attractions put in place last Summer has returned again this year, with visitors taking much more notice. Some say it’s fair enough that they have to close attractions early, since most people have headed to Main Street to watch Fantillusion, whilst others leave annoyed that the park’s advertised opening time of 10am to 11pm isn’t strictly true.
Most agree that the whole situation would be better if the limited openings schedule was at least published somewhere other than only at the attraction entrances themselves — on the tips board, in the Programme leaflet, for example.
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GOOGLE EARTH 3D: WORTH THE WAIT
The much-publicised and subsequently much-delayed official 3D recreation of Disneyland Paris in Google Earth finally launched in mid-May and proved to be well worth the wait, offering a truly spectacular metre-by-metre recreation of every inch of the parks and resort. Visit www.disneylandparis.com/googleearth3d and lose a few hours.
A few days later, Google Street View was also added for small stretches of each park:
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BROCHURE TESTS THE LIMITS
Have you seen the brochures and advertising for Walt Disney World? How grand and high-class it all looks. For Paris, however, the brochures in particular seem to be getting ever more garish and in-your-face with each publication. The latest, current brochure for Autumn/Winter 2009/10 features some truly frightening images of blurred children flying above the parks, with so much photoshopping and saturated colour you can barely see the resort they’re trying to advertise.
The actual, printed version also comes with a bizarre claim on the cover of “First ever interactive brochure”. Beyond the cut-out on the cover (Mickey is actually on the page behind), the only evidence of this is a French (+33) mobile number you can text to get a video trailer of the new theme year. Several weeks later, nothing received here.
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VAT REDUCTION? VAT CHANCE
The French government has officially lowered the VAT rate for cafés and restaurants from 19.6% to just 5.5% in order to keep the industry afloat, and, while you’ll certainly find many notifications of this within the resort, you’ll be much harder pressed to actually find reductions.
Whilst some things, especially the Half Board vouchers, have come down in price, most scenarios have just seen the prices stay the same and Disneyland Paris pocketing the difference in order to prop up the large drop in food and beverage sales this year — mostly on account of the prices being too high during a recession. Good thinking.
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ICE CREAM ARRIVES ON-SET
Walt Disney Studios Park must have been the only theme park in the world without a proper ice cream location until the latest change in its food & beverages offering. The Franklin Department Store façade (similar to the exterior of Gone Hollywood at DCA, international fans) gave up its wonderful 1950s-themed period window to become a new kiosk serving actual, real Ben & Jerry’s by the scoop.
The lost window was more interesting than the one remaining, featuring a mannequin woman sitting with a 1950s travel magazine, retro television and monster/sci-fi movie poster. The Tower of Terror across the way has such a minimal build-up in Paris that small period-setting details like this really mattered — the Imagineers would have put an ice cream kiosk in there from the start otherwise.
Couldn’t such a vital theme park component as ice cream have commanded its own building somewhere? Rather than expanding, the park almost seems to be imploding, with under-sized kiosks popping up all over where real, full-size boutiques and restaurants should be. More than anything, one single serving window for this in such a prominent position is madness.
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BLOCKBUSTERS IN THE BACKLOT
Over in Backlot, the big news has been the complete gutting of Backlot Express, the “props warehouse” counter service restaurant, in favour of the more brand-friendly idea of themed rooms dedicated to the Pirates of the Caribbean and High School Musical franchises. The changeover began with the arrival of a plain Ford Focus outside the restaurant, plastered with “HSM3” stickers…
The new logo has been completed on the outside…
And as for the inside? Well, real props from these two trilogies have yet to appear, with the High School Musical area causing much fan hair-tearing already with its “themeing” of bland posters, banners and mini basketballs (taken from merchandise). The “East High” theme does sit well within the building, but this isn’t anything someone with a good printer could set up themselves. Are there not even any costumes from the film lying around over in Burbank?
Beyond the “torn bedsheets” (as described by magicforum members) hanging from the ceiling, the ‘Pirates’ area has defied the odds and just presented the first real surprise of this project — the removal of the metal railings of the raised “garage” area to be replaced with pirate ship-styled wooden banisters and a full ship’s wheel.
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TELEVISION STUDIOS GOES ’50s
…Or is that wishful thinking? With a long-overdue repaint of the Walt Disney Television Studios building (home to Playhouse and Stitch Live) finally beginning back in April and only just making real progress, have the maintenance teams really taken a step back and reconsidered the building, rather than just bursting ahead with the same ugly yellows the original designers chose in 2002?
Yes, it seems so! The architecture was already within the period, but the colours didn’t quite fit. Now, a deep red has replaced the turquoise on the “fins” atop the building, with the yellow turning a much more earthy, peachy shade, in whole much closer to a 1950s Hollywood look and more pleasing next to the subdued tones of the Hollywood Tower Hotel just opposite.
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ANIMAGIQUE KIOSK MARK II
The bland merchandise kiosk which appeared outside Animagique in 2007 now has a partner. Filling in dead space on the right of the same TV Studios building, this little location opened just this week, using the new colour scheme and dressed up in a pleasingly similar style of fins and neons.
Photo: Sean Hamilton
In any other Disney park, such a location would be given a name or some kind of personality (think Crossroads of the World at Disney’s Hollywood Studios). It offers the usual generic collection of character merchandise.
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ROCKEFELLER PLAZA REBORN
Could this be the start of a new era for the environs of Disney’s Hotel New York? The Rockefeller Plaza building, a dull games arcade for far too long, has finally reopened as a lovely café refreshments location for the Summer.
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MICKEY SWINGS INTO — AND ONTO — BUFFALO BILL’S
It was the controversy of the year — nay, the decade — and now it looks like Mickey Mouse has made home. The not-so-great poster previously stuck on the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show entrance has just been replaced by a large model of Mickey Mouse abseiling down over the building.
Whilst it looks much smarter now, it has fans worried that the mouse may well be there to stay. On the subject of the show itself, the current Summer park programme leaflets are now advertising Adult tickets for the price of Child tickets. In high season? Maybe adding a mouse wasn’t the best way to sell the scale of this truly epic dinner show.
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FASTPASS FOR MONEY
This one must be the second-biggest controversy of the year, then. In itself not a huge thing by any means, this could however be the first step of a huge shift in how Fastpass works. From 18th July to 4th August, guests staying at Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Hotel New York and, it seems, Disney’s Newport Bay Club, can buy a special “Premium FASTPASS” for €80 per person per day.
The ticket is effectively a VIP FASTPASS, the unlimited-access ticket previously given only to guests in Club rooms and Suites, allowing you to use the FASTPASS queues for attractions as and when you want, as many times as you want to.
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STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES
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GOOFY’S SUMMER CAMP
Somewhere you won’t find Mickey this year is the new show at The Chaparral Theater in Frontierland. Yes, since we last updated the topic, The Tarzan Encounter was cancelled again — for good.
This new show is somewhat like the Summer cousin to the brilliant Mickey’s Winter Wonderland, only scuppered by a desperation for audience interaction, with too few scenes between. However, with a live country band as the big “plus” to replace the Winter ice rink, a great stage and some nice musical numbers, it’s winning more fans than certain other shows this year, and much more fitting for its location than Tarzan ever was.
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MAIN STREET COMES ALIVE WITH MARCHING BAND
Last seen making brief appearances last Summer on the old Central Plaza Stage, the brass band has returned! Now performing a brilliant set of Disney music (even including Hans Zimmer’s Pirates score!) on Town Square, this is the kind of classic Disneyland entertainment we rarely see in Paris, so enjoy! The only problem — no one, not the makers of the park programme, nor the Cast Members inside City Hall, appear to have been given their performance schedule.
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CARL’S HOUSE FLIES OVER FRANCE
The real-life version of the balloon-lifted house from Pixar’s next — and 10th — major hit, “Up”, travelled over to France recently and, amongst appearing in some truly spectacular hot air balloon festivals, paid a visit to Disneyland Paris early one morning.
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Who’d have known — the Sleeping Beauty fountain inside the Castle gallery was actually meant to trickle down into the waterfall below, beside the staircase, as one, complete water system! Now, after truly years of being turned off and ignored, it’s fixed and running. The “crystal” at the bottom of the falls glows, too!
Wonderful. Utmost appreciation to whoever made this happen.
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So there you go, DLRP Today returns!
With thanks to www.photosmagiques.com!