Tuesday, 27th March 2012

Disney’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Train bursts onto parade route for soft openings

Have your sunglasses at the ready, folks! No, not for the glorious weather we’re enjoying in this corner of Europe, but for the first “soft opening” arrivals of Disney’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Train, which began at 11.30am today and continue all week. And there it is — in all its day-glo splendour. If you can believe it, it’s even brighter than the publicity image. The whole train has been resprayed from pistons to chimney in a complete rainbow of colours. This was not a moment of artistic restraint.

On-board, the characters wear their new 20th Anniversary costumes, inspired by Mickey’s classic Sorcerer’s Apprentice guise but coloured with more wild, day-glo shades. Chip, Dale and their female friend Clarice led the first wagon, followed by Minnie, Donald and Daisy in the middle, then Goofy and Pluto bringing up the rear. New additions to the design of the train include a ’20” on each wagon and Tinker Bell atop the chimney, guiding the train.

Disney's 20th Anniversary Celebration Train (C) @InsideDLParisDisney's 20th Anniversary Celebration Train (C) @InsideDLParis

The train was quickly described as “garish” on forums, and that could be perfectly accurate. But you know what — and perhaps not setting the bar high here — it might actually be the best revision of this event to date, since the original Disney Characters’ Express. While that started out with a fairly classy blue, white and gold train, it was modified here and there in subsequent years to become a real mish-mash of a design with little artistic direction nor anything that really tied it together.

At least this year the train has been stripped back and completely resprayed, giving a uniform look to the whole event. This is helped by restricting the invite list to only the “VIP” characters, wearing new costumes which actually match the colours of the train, rather than their clashing everyday gear. And, rather than continuing to remix “Tous en Train” to infinity, we’ve got a whole new song in “Do You Believe” (which you can listen to here). The whole vision is such a spectacularly jarring contrast with the quaint cobblestones of Main Street, U.S.A. that maybe it just works.

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Saturday, 21st January 2012

Disney Characters All Star Party Express to return… as 20th Anniversary Celebration Train


Time for lemonade and Cracker Jacks, Casey Junior’s back, Casey Junior’s back!” — You didn’t think he’d miss the 20th Anniversary, did you? Yes, the endlessly reincarnated train, last seen as the Disney Dance Express, will return again from April 2012!

At least this time, for the first time since his return as the Disney Characters’ Express five years ago, Disneyland Paris decided against giving him “new attraction” billing in the brochure. Too busy ramping the colour saturation up to “maximum”, perhaps.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, 1st January 2012

Several Magical Moments to end early January, others “extended” into 20th Anniversary

It’s 2012 (Happy New Year!) and time for a fresh start. For Disneyland Paris, that appears to mean several key elements of the current Disney Magical Moments Festival, marketed to run until 4th March 2012, will be cleared out early. Rumours long suggested the main Mickey’s Magical Celebration show on Central Plaza would face an early finish, due to the much detested Central Plaza Stage finally being ripped out, opening up the hub of the park ready for Dreams.

Now, here’s the confirmation: no performances from 9th January onwards! In truth, the show has had a lukewarm reception ever since last April. Notably lacking the grander spectacle of the previous Disney Showtime Spectacular, it wasn’t quite the kind of production to justify such a monolithic stage to take over the heart of the park. Initially it seemed the four large satellite “arms” of the stage might be lopped off, but now the whole stage is said to be for the chop. For stage shows, this means any future open-air productions will (quite rightly) be on the Théâtre du Château where they belong. For new nighttime spectacular Dreams, the rumour mill is still pumping: Will the removal of the stage open up the area purely for more standing room again, or could the hub become part of the show? One particularly fun (if purely fabricated) rumour is for a “magic” dancing fountain to take the place of the former flower bed. To be honest, even being able to walk across and use the plaza as a “hub”, rather than an impermeable roundabout, seems an exciting prospect at this point.

Surprisingly, this show isn’t the only “Magical Moment” preparing for early retirement. It will be joined on 9th January by Disney Dance Express, the garishly-coloured dance show which reused the old Dumbo Casey Jr. parade float. Could this, the float’s fifth iteration since its launch as part of The Wonderful World of Disney Parade, be its last? Meanwhile, the Green Army Men Meet & Play event over in Toy Story Playland will also end on the same date and, as reported earlier, the first float will be removed from Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade for its “Magic on Parade!” makeover.

Making it all the way to the 4th March end date, but not continuing beyond that date, will be the “interactive” show stops of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, the temporary Tangled meet ‘n’ greet location for Rapunzel and, surprisingly, the small Following the Leader with Peter Pan show in Adventureland. That event was perhaps the most appreciated of all the new “moments” in 2011. For Rapunzel, we must presume she will simply join the other princesses in the new Princess Pavilion.

Finally, continuing into the 20th Anniversary are the many photo locations which popped up around the parks: Wall•E and Eve in Discoveryland, Alice in Wonderland near the Labyrinth, Aladdin near Adventureland Bazaar, Ratatouille near Restaurant des Stars and Monsters, Inc. in Toon Studio (which, added in 2006, was never “new” for 2011 to begin with, but never mind). Lighting McQueen will remain in his Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular cameo and the new Adventureland Rhythms of the Jungle location next to Restaurant Hakuna Matata will remain the home of the popular Tam Tam.

PHOTOS VIA Photos Magiques

Wednesday, 6th July 2011

Castle Stage reopens following complete refurb, “still represents an opportunity”

Le Theatre du Château - Castle Stage

2011 Refurbishments — As we approach the summer at full speed, the fruits of the busiest refurbishment period in the history of Disneyland Paris are gradually being revealed. One of the biggest is Le Theatre du Château, which was the subject of much interest earlier in the year as its sea of stone benches gradually disappeared and the whole area went behind walls. Now reopened to guests and parade traffic, the stage area looks as good as new, completely repaved with top quality stones and given back a scattering of its benches. The walls of the raised stage itself, with the same palette as Sleeping Beauty Castle, have been completely repainted to match the fresher colours of Le Château just across the moat. As seen in the photo above by Disney Gazette, extra spaces have even been reserved for new trees to provide more shade for the benches (now indeed safely spaced out to prevent kids jumping between them, an apparent health and safety issue we barely believed back in February).

During the 2011 Refurbishments presentation given back in March, we got the chance to walk behind the walls with Peggie Fariss and catch a final “before” glimpse of the cleared stage area. Compared to the old, circular-patterned paving and concrete areas between, the new block paving adds a much warmer feel to the space and is designed less around the placement of the benches.

Le Theatre du Château - Castle Stage

Peggie also gave us a hint at the future prospects for the stage — or at least confirmed it won’t be going anywhere — stating clearly that, from the viewpoint of Walt Disney Imagineering, it “still represents an opportunity” and as such should be safeguarded. That word — opportunity — was exactly the one we had used to describe the space a month earlier. There seems to be some disconnect between Imagineering and Entertainment as to just how good a prospect it represents, though, so it might be some time yet before we ever see this as anything but an opportunity wasted.

Le Theatre du Château - Castle Stage

That’s not to say you can’t watch a show here, though. If this year’s Disney Dance Express is your thing (and particularly if it’s not), you’ll be glad to know that the rolling street show now stops at its intended spot right here for its main performance, skipping past the busy Central Plaza location it had been forced to clog up since April. Characters Photos Blog posted a video of the relocated show stop on Facebook, showing the Dance Express performing on the parade route right in front of the stage behind them. There’s likely something psychological about a “stage” show as opposed to a street show like this, meaning the audience expects much more — story, sets, costumes. Even the Central Plaza shows such as Mickey’s Magical Celebration get around these extra expenses by using the castle as a backdrop.

Perhaps someday the money will be there again to take a step up onto this stage; or the desire to move away from that disruptive monolith blocking Central Plaza. Purpose-built, perfectly positioned and now recently refurbished. The opportunity is, and always has been, there.

PHOTOS VIA Disney Gazette

Thursday, 7th April 2011

Magical Moments Launch: Disney Dance Express brings a technicolour new show to Central Plaza

Disney Dance Express

The fourth repurposing of Disneyland Park’s resident character express train in five years has officially premiered in its new guise: Disney Dance Express. This isn’t a straightforward redecoration or just another chance to meet and greet Disney characters, either — it’s a whole new show happening three times per day at the end of Main Street, U.S.A. and featuring a mix of modernised Disney tunes with well-known pop songs. A cast of 14 dancers is led by a live host, with Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale joining in to coax the notoriously composed European audience to dance in the street. And one thing’s for sure: fluorescent is definitely in for 2011.

Photos and two videos of the show here! Read More…

Wednesday, 6th April 2011

Magical Moments Launch: Grand opening dedication show in photos and video

Disney Magical Moments Festival launch

Today’s the day — another year, another new festival begins at Disneyland Paris. And this year, it’s the Disney Magical Moments Festival, bringing a big (yet at the same time, rather modest) selection of new character “moments” and entertainments to the parks. Needless to say, there was nothing modest about the anticipated media launch event, which took place over last weekend and included the usual blow-out grand opening show and fireworks to round things off. Over 1,000 media types (plus for the first time ever, and at long last you could say, fan websites like DLRP Today and Photos Magiques) were officially invited along to see Mickey kick things off. Read More…

Friday, 25th February 2011

Disney All Stars Express departs this weekend for Magical Moments ‘Dance’ makeover

Disney All Stars Express

You’ve only just over two weeks to enjoy the Disney New Generation Festival that began way back on 2nd April 2010 at Disneyland Paris, but if the one draw for you is Disney All Stars Express, better get to the park extra quick. The new park programme published today (PDF) confirms the colourful character train will be departing a little early — it’s final roll up Main Street will be this Sunday, 27th February — presumably to allow for its transformation into Disney Dance Express — the, er, “new” event due to begin on 6th April for Disney Magical Moments Festival. In all likelihood, if you’ve wanted to see this mini character meet ‘n’ greet parade you’ll have done so already. This is now the fourth time we’ve seen the extended parade float depart for a new look, from its origins as a Wonderful World of Disney Parade float to the Disney Characters’ Express, Minnie’s Party Train and this current Disney All Stars Express.

However, if rumours are to be believed, Disney Dance Express could be a slightly different event to what we’ve become accustomed. Music is rumoured to be taken from Walt Disney World’s “Move It! Shake It!! Celebrate It!!! Street Party” — not we presume yet another remix of “Tous en train” — and those meet ‘n’ greet scrums could be a thing of the past as the train turns into more of a moving show stage, with a live host. So, it’s “goodbye” but definitely “à bientôt!” again.

In the meantime, the gap left in the timetable will be filled this week by a cavalcade of characters titled “Good Morning, Disney New Generation” at 11.15am, 12.15pm and 1.15pm.

Friday, 21st January 2011

First character details for Magical Moments Festival events leak out

Our third “theme year” in a row doesn’t actually have any definable theme like the current New Generation, but Disney Magical Moments Festival beginning 6th April will bring to the parks a new trend of character “happenings”, as they’re awkwardly translated. According to Character Central Blog, even Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade won’t be free from a little Magical Moments “plussing”, with six new costumes including a swarm of bees behind the Winnie the Pooh unit and a new interactive show stop which will invite children to step up and don small costumes to dance with the characters (or for Toy Story, run around with stick horses resembling Bullseye) — a similar idea to that which greeted the launch of The Wonderful World of Disney Parade in 1998.

Replacing the rather good Disney Showtime Spectacular on Central Plaza Stage will be another creation of the random Disney show name generator, Mickey’s Magical Celebration, this year said to feature a more classic range of characters such as Merlin, the Fairy Godmother, the Three Good Fairies and Mickey in two different costumes (surely including that Sorcerer outfit, rarely seen in Paris), with just one performance daily each evening. Interestingly the Genie will apparently appear as a real “face” character, something only seen before at the Disney California Adventure stage musical. More conventional will be the fourth (yes, really) reworking of the park’s Casey Jr. parade train, to this year be known as Disney Dance Express and exclusively feature the VIP team of Mickey, Minnie and friends. Rather than stopping for meet ‘n’ greets, however, the train is this year said to be stopping for a live show in the middle of Main Street akin to Magic Kingdom’s “Move It! Shake It!! Celebrate It!!! Street Party” — with fewer exclamation marks but still a live human host, dancers and possibly imported music.

On the subject of those “happenings”, Character Central has no word on the Peter Pan event but does report that a Jungle Book event will feature the park’s long-running African Tam Tams group alongside King Louie and Baloo. This is apparently in addition to new static figurines of these characters, similar to those of WALL-E and EVE which arrived in Discoveryland late last year. A new, live meet ‘n’ greet for Aladdin is also said to arrive near the back of Adventureland Bazaar, while Rapunzel and Flynn from Disney’s Tangled could be given a more permanent home near The Old Mill.

VIA Character Central Blog

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