Thursday, 29th March 2012

The Music of ‘Disney Dreams!’: Joel McNeely records “beyond epic” score at Abbey Road

'Disney Dreams!' score recorded at London's Abbey Road Studios

What do you get if you combine film composer Joel McNeely, a 96-piece orchestra, a children’s choir, an adult choir and Irish folk singer Cara Dillon at the famous Abbey Road Studios in London? A soundtrack to Disney Dreams!, that’s what. The show’s score was recorded in January this year, with Steve Davison flying into London to oversee the project. While Steve has visited Abbey Road previously to record the music for his spectacular Tokyo DisneySea version of Fantasmic!, Joel has used the North London studio, made famous by The Beatles, to record soundtracks for several of Disney’s recent Tinker Bell movies.

For a new nighttime spectacular, based around Peter Pan losing his shadow, they couldn’t have picked a better team. Steve Davison wrote on Facebook, 13th January: “In London this week recording Dreams for DLP at Abbey Roads Studios. Today we’re in the famous Beatles Studio2 recording percussion. The score for Dreams is really amazing. Can’t wait for all of you to hear it!!!”

By 17th January his work in London had finished, with the confident conclusion that the score we’re all waiting to hear is, simply put, “beyond epic”: “We just wrapped the recording sessions for dreams. It’s an amazing score. One of the best we have done in years. It’s beyond epic!”

Wrapping up the many featured songs from Disney classics, ranging from Beauty and the Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame to Tangled and The Princess and the Frog, the score will of course also be heavily based around new arrangements of “The Second Star to the Right”.

Amongst numerous Disney projects, Joel McNeely also notably scored the Return to Neverland “sequel” to Peter Pan in 2002. The scale of his score for Disney Dreams! appears impressive: a 96-piece orchestra, plus both children’s and adult choirs. Confirming the project, his official website writes: “Joel has just completed the score to a new outdoor spectacular show for the 20th anniversary of Disneyland Paris. The show is entitled Disney Dreams. Joel recorded at Abbey Road in London with a 90 piece orchestra, children’s choir and adult choir.”

Cara Dillon
Cara Dillon

And there’s one more surprise: “It will also feature a song written by Joel for Cara Dillon.”

Cara Dillon may also be known to anyone familiar with the popular Tinker Bell movies. For the third film, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, she was invited by Joel to sing the opening song, titled “Summer’s Just Begun”. This led to the Irish folk singer, from Dungiven in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, to sing a second song over the credits and even read the opening narration.

Her website notes: “Cara and Sam were thrilled to have been invited to record a brand new song to form part of a new spectacular show to mark the 20th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris. They went to the legendary Abbey Road Studios back in January to record the song with a 96 piece orchestra and to listen to the rest of the music being recorded for the show. Joel McNeely, who composed the music for Tinkerbell 3, wrote the beautiful new song and conducted the orchestral sessions.”

This new song will certainly be a world away from the hyperactive “Magic Everywhere” and “Do You Believe” of the daytime events. If the beautiful projections or extraordinary fountains and fireworks don’t bring a tear to your eye, it could just be Cara’s beautiful, delicate voice that does it.

Below, watch a delightful video of Cara Dillon on stage, humbly explaining how she came to work for Disney on the Tinker Bell movie and her first experiences of Abbey Road, followed by a beautiful performance of her second Tinker Bell song, “Come Fly With Me”… Read More…

Wednesday, 28th March 2012

‘Disney Dreams!’ world premiere to broadcast live on Disneyland Paris YouTube channel

Disney Dreams! world premiere live on YouTube

What are you doing at 10.30pm this Saturday, 31st March? Cancel it. Instead, prepare a drink, warm some popcorn and settle down to watch the world premiere of Disney Dreams! — broadcast “live” to your computer screen on the Disneyland Paris YouTube channel.

We’ve already seen promotions for a live streaming event in collaboration with French broadcaster TF1, but now Disneyland Paris are apparently opening this up to the world via their official YouTube channel. Those eager to see the grand premiere of the new nighttime spectacular, created by Steve Davison, will be able to log onto the channel this Saturday evening where a special, re-themed page will guide you to the live stream. There, you’ll see the whole event unfold in realtime, joining the invited press in the park to be the very first members of the public to see the show.

Don’t forget, though — that’s 10.30pm Central European Summer Time. In the UK (BST), you’ll need to be online for 9.30pm, whereas Disney fans over in Steve Davison’s home state of California, for example, will see Disney Dreams! as a matinée performance at 1.30pm. And as with all Disneyland events, it may be sensible to arrive a little earlier…

This is a daring proposition by Disneyland Paris: having spent millions (at a guess) on a huge new nighttime show, they’re now going to allow people to watch the whole thing, online without even leaving their homes. The audience may only be made up of more committed, regular visitors, but it must show some confidence in the show itself — not just that it’s a worthy spectacular, but that viewers will be so taken by it they’ll still consider it worthwhile to book a trip and see it for themselves.

Final programming of the show was completed just last night, ahead of the private Cast Member premiere tomorrow. Posting on his Facebook fan page, Steve Davison wrote:

“Tonight we completed the final programming of DISNEY DREAMS! It was a lot of work and I can never thank the production team enough for all their efforts. This was a very diffucult show to create/produce, but everyone stuck with it and gave it their all! Thanks Team Dreams! Whew! We’re all very exicted to premeire the show.

“There’s lots of activity in the park tonight as they prepare for the 20th! For me, I think I’m going to call it an early night.”

On Saturday, the world awaits. Then, Disney Dreams! officially opens for all park guests with two performances at 9.30pm and 10.30pm on Sunday 1st April.

Tuesday, 27th March 2012

Final Central Plaza alterations completed ahead of Disney Dreams! premiere

Central Plaza alterations (C) @InsideDLParis

It’s going to be easy to forget soon with the premiere of Disney Dreams! but, until this year, Disneyland Paris has never had a true nighttime spectacular. Fireworks from the original Fantasia in the Sky to the later Enchanted Fireworks have always been a feature, but Disneyland Park has never seen a nightly, year-round evening show to finish the day. It’s a big step-change for the daily operation of the park and even the landscape is reflecting that.

On the left side of Central Plaza, the new control centre building arrived with a big change the previously wooded landscape near Frontierland, opening up more vistas. Now, on the other side of the plaza, a final adjustment has seen the pathway widened near Plaza Gardens Restaurant, creating more space for guests to hop around the crowds on the hub, or leave the park swiftly after the show.

Central Plaza alterations (C) @InsideDLParisCentral Plaza alterations (C) @InsideDLParis

This follows similar adjustments to pathways on both sides of the hub in 2009, when the route through to Frontierland was widened and a new set of stairs were added to ease guest flow around Plaza Gardens. At the time, these were largely to offset the problems caused by dropping a whopping great stage in the middle of the park, but this year they’ll come into their own as smart preparations for Central Plaza’s new role as viewing space for a real nighttime spectacular.

One final change which may not be so popular, however, is the conversion of several gas lamps along this pathway to electric. Though this kind of “progress” in Main Street, U.S.A. is never welcomed, the installation of electric light bulbs is probably a necessary change to ensure the path is well-lit before and after the show, allowing the rush of guests to arrive and leave safely. Besides, the side street nearest this spot, leading to Discoveryland, just happens to be fittingly titled “Edison Avenue”…

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis

Saturday, 24th March 2012

First look: Disney Dreams! revealed in first official photo of new nighttime spectacular

'Disney Dreams!' official promo photo

This is our very first, official look at the completed Disney Dreams! — projections, multi-coloured lasers, illuminated fountains — wow! Just a handful of the effects on show and only one of its many “Dreams” pictured — turning Sleeping Beauty Castle into a collection of rocket fireworks for the Aladdin “Friend Like Me” sequence, but a thrilling first “official” glimpse at what’s ahead, right?

Exactly one week from now, the show will premiere to the world’s press at 10.30pm, Saturday 31st March. Creative director Steve Davison is certainly feeling the anticipation, posting on Thursday: “Great rehearsal tonight of the show with a lot of bells and whistles. It is really starting to come together. So much fun!!! Almost time to unveil this magical show!”

We can also now confirm that on the official opening day of the show, 1st April 2012, it will be presented twice in one evening: at 9.30pm and 10.30pm. Yes, if late park hours all year and a nightly nighttime spectacular weren’t surprising enough for Disneyland Paris, they’re now running double performances. There are rumours this could continue for the whole 20th Anniversary year, but no further showtimes have been announced as yet.

If you can’t make it to the resort so soon, stay with us as we’ll be there to capture the whole thing, reporting back with photos, videos and more from the first week of April onwards to give you the whole story on the 20th Anniversary launch. Be the first to see our 1080p HD videos of the show, and other 20th Anniversary events, by subscribing to our YouTube channel!

PHOTO VIA Le Figaro

Thursday, 22nd March 2012

2012 or ’92? New Central Plaza in sunshine resets the clock on timeless view

Central Plaza and Sleeping Beauty Castle (C) Nicolas71

Since Monday, guests have been able to walk right across Central Plaza for the first time since 2006. But these photos, taken Tuesday by Nicholas71 on Disney Central Plaza, almost seem to reset the clock even further. Be it the wide, open plaza, the fresh green grass, the newly-restored Sleeping Beauty Castle or the recent tree clearance over on the Fantasyland side of this famous view, it almost looks like we’re stepping into the park for the very first time again. Truly a vast improvement on the closed gates and obstructive stage guests have had to navigate around for too many years.

On Central Plaza itself, benches have returned to the middle of the plaza for the first time in almost six years, making it once again the perfect place for meeting and people watching. Meanwhile, two lampposts on the castle side are now curiously absent, their bases covered by green boxes.

They’re not the only things missing from this view: tree clearance over by the Fantasyland Gate (far-right of the photo) has uncovered the walled kingdom in the distance, while at least two cuboid trees have been completely removed from the right-hand side of the castle. Both changes could either be in preparation for Disney Dreams!, or just part of the habitual “resetting the clock” which Disney does; replanting or removing trees which have grown too big for the fixed scale of the park.

Central Plaza and Sleeping Beauty Castle (C) Nicolas71

Looking back towards Main Street, U.S.A., the new “Parks Landscaping Department” show control building for Disney Dreams! blends seamlessly into the town. The old show control kiosk, on the left of the plaza, remains in place for now. As for the plaza, the improvement speaks for itself.

PHOTOS Nicholas71 (Disney Central Plaza)

Wednesday, 21st March 2012

‘Disney Dreams!’ Second Star to the Right spotted shining brightly for first time

 'Disney Dreams!' Second Star to the Right (C) @Tobiasfl

There have been several reported sightings, but now the all-important Second Star the Right for Disney Dreams! has finally been caught on camera. Late last night, @Tobiasfl observed the ethereal glow from across the fields in Val d’Europe, shining with a spectacular brightness from the top window of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Two Instagram photos below show it first piercing the nighttime sky alone, then joined by the full force of the new nighttime spectacular’s illuminated fountains.

'Disney Dreams!' Second Star to the Right (C) @Tobiasfl'Disney Dreams!' Second Star to the Right (C) @Tobiasfl

While sightings of tests for fireworks, projections, water effects and other elements have been coming thick and fast over recent weeks, the centrepiece star has been notable by its absence. Plans unveiled by Steve Davison at the presentation he gave to the shareholders’ Annual General Meeting revealed it to be not simply a bright light, hidden behind the window, but a three-dimensional star that would actually manoeuvre outwards. According to this plan, the iconic window was due to be replaced with a new variation capable of opening in the centre to allow the star to emerge.

'Disney Dreams!' Second Star to the Right (C) ChroniqueDisney.frSleeping Beauty Castle window (C) Disneyland Paris - Fans Facebook

The window has indeed seen several changes over recent weeks, requiring the temporary removal of its golden ornament, with the latest incarnation above. Previously a real stained-glass window with a protective layer on top, it now appears far flatter but more colourful. A faux stained glass effect, like the windows in the Princess Pavilion, no doubt — but is there an opening there for the star to reveal itself? The mysteries surrounding this mythical object of the nighttime sky continue…

With the star now shining at least, that completes the entire range of effects for Disney Dreams!, all installed and ready for showtime. Posting his most recent project update to Facebook on Saturday, creative director Steve Davison wrote: “Well, I’m almost done with another 6 day, work all night, programming week. The show is coming along great. All the systems are online (the fire system came on tonight) and what we’re seeing on the Castle is very, very exciting! We’re now in the final home stretch! Can’t wait for you all to see the final product.”

PHOTOS 1-2 @Tobiasfl (Twitter), PHOTO 3 Chronique Disney, PHOTO 4 DLP – Fans (Facebook)

Monday, 19th March 2012

Steve Davison shares first photos of completed, wall-free, stage-free Central Plaza!

It’s the dawn of a new day. Construction walls have finally come down in Central Plaza, revealing the finished repaving project across the hub of the park following the much-celebrated removal of the overbearing stage which had resided here since 2009. After seven weeks of work through freezing conditions into the milder days of early spring, the completed Central Plaza is now a vast expanse of smoothly-finished concrete pavement — no obstacles, no obstructions, just a perfect view of Sleeping Beauty Castle and of course, the impending Disney Dreams! nighttime spectacular.

In fact it was Steve Davison, the director of Disney Dreams!, who grabbed these very first photos of the plaza without construction walls at 6am this morning. Though we don’t entirely envy Team Dreams with their nocturnal work shifts, seeing dawn break over a wide, open Central Plaza is one well-deserved reward. Steve shared the first photo above with the comment: “WOW! What a wonderful view! No Wall! No Stage. Just a beautiful view of the Castle. Enjoy!” He followed this up with further praise for our castle and a clearer critique of the poorly-integrated stage: “It’s so much better without the stage. It blocked this amazing piece of architecture. WOW! What a castle!”

That certainly suggests we’re not the only ones happy to see that back of the enormous stage, which presented three consecutive shows of varying popularity. Beginning with It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends in 2009, it then saw the far superior Disney Showtime Spectacular in 2010, before whimpering to a close with Mickey’s Magical Celebration last year. Even before those shows, the plaza was taken up by a smaller stage for the 15th Anniversary Candleabration show in 2007 and 2008, and for the castle lighting show of the previous Christmas, meaning the plaza hasn’t been open for guests since as long ago as 2006.

Deciding not the reinstate the small circular flower bed in the middle of the hub was probably a wise idea for crowd control during Disney Dreams!, but does such an entirely bare Central Plaza make an ideal heart for the park? Couldn’t they have done something more interesting with the floor, or is it best to just let the castle take all the presence here? Whatever your opinion, you’ll no doubt at least agree with Steve Davison that the view opened up is “Simply beautiful!”. We have a lot to thank Team Dreams for. Longer park hours, a real, nightly nighttime spectacular, and now a Central Plaza back to how it should be. No stage, just a beautiful view of the castle.

VIA Steve Davison Fan Page (Facebook)

Tuesday, 13th March 2012

Second Star’s multi-coloured ‘Disney Dreams!’ galaxy revealed as projection tests continue

Is it just by chance that a number of Disneyland Paris fans appear to have booked into Disneyland Hotel this month, or has the flagship hotel at the gates of Disneyland Park suddenly seen a last-minute flurry of reservations, as fans stake out its park-view balconies with a hope of being the first to catch a glimpse of Disney Dreams! preparations? After the first look at the spectacular fountains over the weekend, the latest previews come from a Facebook page titled Disney WorldGlobe, which posted a short video taken from the hotel showing projection tests taking place on Sleeping Beauty Castle.

While the majority of this video simply shows a golden Mickey Mouse silhouette shape with pixie dust trailing around it, something remarkable does happen at about four seconds in, as the castle suddenly cycles through a number of different projection effects. The first and most stunning is captured in the screenshot above: what a appears to be a gorgeous, multi-coloured series of galaxies swirling across the castle, which has light emanating out from its top window, where the Second Star to the Right will ultimately appear, glittering, in physical form.

A few other fun effects appearing to involve that all-important star can also be glimpsed in the few seconds during which the projections switch over. Below left, it appears to cast a blue glow across the castle from above, highlighting its rooftops and casting other walls into shadow. Below right, an ethereal blue and green strobe radiates outwards from the top window.


Another, perhaps quite startling, effect appears to show the main window and archway of the castle engulfed by flames, above left. While a final effect, above right, creates a feeling of something rather more “Maleficent”, as the castle takes on the blue body, pink mouth and snarling yellow nostrils of a certain ferocious, animated dragon… perhaps?

Meanwhile, the multi-coloured prism theme of Disney Dreams! will be extended even to its laser effects, which are truly state-of-the-art, according to the latest update from Steve Davison himself:

“Lasers! Lasers! Everywhere. I love full color lasers! Now Paris Disneyland has the most current, brightest show lasers in the world! They are the newest generation. Look at all tha[t] color! Simply amazing. Plus, we have the world’s best programmer who also worked on WOC [World of Color]!”

So all eyes on April, to see “what the World of Color team did next…”

VIDEO STILLS Disney WorldGlobe

Sunday, 11th March 2012

First look: ‘Disney Dreams!’ fountains shoot into the sky, viewed from Disneyland Hotel

'Disney Dreams!' fountain tests seen from Disneyland Hotel [(C) Jérémy, DCP]

Disney Dreams! will have stunning projections, pyrotechnics, fire, a brand new orchestral score — the lot. But there’s no mistaking the most anticipated element of this 20th Anniversary spectacular: the fountains. And so the grand prize goes to Jérémy on Disney Central Plaza forum who, at 24 minutes past midnight, made Disneyland Paris history by posting the first clear photo of those 40-or-so main fountains shooting into the sky around Sleeping Beauty Castle. Taken from Disneyland Hotel, overlooking the park during nighttime testing, it’s the very first preview of what a Steve Davison fountain array looks like surrounding a Disney castle. Something you won’t see anywhere else in the world.

The height of the water erupting from those nondescript jets is incredible, easily as high as the main window at the top of the castle — and these aren’t even the most powerful jets. Twelve further nozzles, six on either side of the moat, will use a compressed air technique to intermittently blast water a good few metres more into the sky, apparently higher than the castle itself. And then we have to add the two enormous water screens on top, to complete the scene’s liquid special effects. The proximity to the castle is unusual and certainly dramatic, raising all kinds of questions — for example, what will happen to performances during high winds?

Lit here simply with a purple glow from below, the fountain array at this moment thankfully gives few spoilers for the actual show. It is simply an awe-inspiring glimpse of what’s to come.

PHOTO Jérémy (Disney Central Plaza)

Friday, 9th March 2012

‘Disney Dreams!’ goes bang in the night for final after-hours pyrotechnic tests

Sleeping Beauty would have had anything but “sweet dreams” last night, as the final after-hours tests for Disney Dreams! firework effects lit up the night sky around the castle. Three dates have apparently been set aside for these pyrotechnic trials, according to the Radio Disney Club website: 8th, 12th and 15th March. Sure enough, guests and Cast Members began reporting that access around Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant was closed off around 6pm yesterday, and after Disneyland Park closed at 8pm the first reports and reactions began appearing.

Above, a photo by Frontierland Cast Member fandlrp on Disney Central Plaza shows an array of colourful fireworks shooting up behind the castle. Sharing impressions from the privileged viewpoint of Disneyland Hotel, Jeremy describes the music as sublime and says the show keeps its promises and anyone worried about the pyrotechnics (their size and number) should be reassured. Meanwhile NeMo saw the tests from Main Street itself and reveals that the pyrotechnics play a part in almost every scene, with many effects apparently brand new to Disneyland Paris.

It’s also rumoured that test launches will be incorporated into the planned displays for St David’s Welsh Festival this Saturday, 10th and St Patrick’s Day on 17th March. Individual elements continue to be tested and perfected almost every night, but full “dress rehearsals” of the entire show are apparently scheduled for the 21st and 23rd March, ahead of the Cast Member premiere on 29th March, private press premiere on 31st March and official public premiere on 1st April.

Various tests have been ongoing for Disney Dreams! long before the recent arrival of director Steve Davison in Paris. In January, @Tobiasfl shared the two live Instagram photos above on Twitter, the first showing a particularly dazzling quartet (or possibly quintet) of coloured shells in blue, green, pink, red and yellow. Though these clearly exploded high in the sky, the majority of pyrotechnic effects in the show are expected to ignite from ground level.

Unlike a pure firework show, where the sky is filled constantly and the explosions make up the entire scene, this 20th Anniversary spectacular will use pyrotechnics as just one of many elements. Like the water or fire, they’ll play a “role” in the scene, acting out a part in the show, representing particular moments in the story rather than telling the whole tale. Speaking of those other elements, Steve Davison posted another teaser on his Facebook fan page the night before last:

“We had all the fountains on tonight in front of the Castle. They are stunning. I am so excited for Disneyland Paris. They will be the first to have a permanent fountain array in their moat. It is so colorful and magical it really is a beautiful enhancement to the Castle.”

Steve is even kind enough to respond directly to fans who write on the page. To a question about exclusive merchandise for the show, he replied “I hope so, there are some really fun things they could play off!” and promised to ask the director of merchandise at a planned meeting next week. The most surprising status update, though, came after DLRP Today summarised Steve’s updates on Tuesday and challenged you to boost the page above 1,000 fans (it now stands at 1,209):

Thanks DLRP Today! You took my fan page over 1000! Merci Beaucoup!!!! And your 20th show DREAMS is coming along magically. The Castle projections are stunning! Can’t wait for you to see it!

Wow, actual Steve Davison posting a message to us! So that’s what a dream come true feels like. Great work, everyone!

VIA Radio Disney Club, Disney Central Plaza, @Tobiasfl (Twitter)

Subscribe to the Magic!

Ad: Disneyland Paris up to 20% off all meals!

Tags & Archives

Twitter Updates

Ad: Disneyland Paris 30th Anniversary bookings now open!