Wednesday, 15th June 2011

Disneyland Paris landmarks and characters go on show at Sand Sculpture Festival

Disneyland Paris Sand Sculpture Festival 2011

Forget faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust. It took 20,000 tons of sand, eight weeks and a team of skilled artists from around the world to move the most famous landmarks and characters of Disneyland Paris to the Belgian coast for one long summer. From Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Space Mountain, all the favourites have been recreated out of nothing more than sand and water. A world-first tie-in to promote the Magical Moments Festival, they’re now on show taking over the whole Sand Sculpture Festival in Blankenberge until 12th September.

Some of the most impressive sculptures are housed inside a giant temporary marquee, such as City Hall, Walt’s restaurant and Main Street Motors; all stunningly detailed recreations that you can walk right up to. The jail scene from Pirates of Caribbean is recreated with a wonderful likeness for the key-carrying canine — and even an early appearance from Jack Sparrow!

Disneyland Paris Sand Sculpture Festival 2011 Disneyland Paris Sand Sculpture Festival 2011

Disneyland Paris Sand Sculpture Festival 2011

Beyond the resort landmarks, there are numerous lifelike character sculptures from Snow White to Tangled and almost every film in-between, with a special section for Pixar characters. A short “making of” film on the festival’s website gives a look at the work that went into the project. Our friends at Photos Magiques donated more than 400 Disneyland Paris pictures to help the sculptors refine their works. Head over to their Facebook page to see the full gallery of the finished exhibition from Friday’s special launch event… and don’t make any sudden movements!

VIA Photos Magiques (Facebook)

Saturday, 7th May 2011

Jack Sparrow audio animatronics to finally join Pirates of the Caribbean for 20th Anniversary!

Drink up me hearties: Captain Jack Sparrow is coming to Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris in 2012! The European version of the attraction will finally end a 5-year stint as the only edition not to reference to the blockbuster movies, adding the exact same Audio Animatronics and special effects which “plussed” the Anaheim and Orlando rides in 2006 and Tokyo’s version in 2007. That includes three animatronic figures of Jack Sparrow himself, looking remarkably like the Johnny Depp character — one amongst the mayor/auctioneer scene, one hiding in a barrel and one drinking up in the final treasure caverns. In addition, the captain of the ship in the “attack” scene at the bottom of the first drop will likely be replaced by Barbossa, and the Imagineers will hopefully find somewhere to position the mist screen projection of Blackbeard, which was just announced to replace the original Davy Jones projection at Anaheim and Orlando yesterday. In the three broadly similar versions of the attraction already updated this comes at the start of the ride as a forewarning, but with the Paris edition having a different story layout its exact position is currently unclear.

The update has been confirmed internally for a while now, though so far hasn’t been officially announced and isn’t likely to be for a few months at least. But there we have it, our first known 20th Anniversary addition! Funnily enough four years ago we were talking about this exact update for the 15th Anniversary, but that’s Disneyland Paris. It seems like every year since then the rumour has resurfaced again, as those behind the magic tried to push it through the budgeteers, whilst money was spent instead on theme year after theme year. Most recently it looked like a dead cert for this year, what with the much-anticipated fourth film due out this very month (and enjoying a huge world premiere event at Disneyland in California today). As Captain Jack would have said several times over by now, “If you were waiting for the opportune moment …that was it.” But next year will do just fine, providing a solid Imagineering addition in what’s otherwise looking like a very Entertainment-based anniversary.

So, enjoy “On Stranger Tides” in stereoscopic digital 3D and then set course for Paris this time next year, to see Sparrow come alive in three real dimensions. And he only took 6 years to cross the Atlantic!

Friday, 21st January 2011

Disney’s Tangled brings a brand new Rapunzel tower to Storybookland Canal Boats

A great surprise was awaiting fans in Storybook Land at the back of Fantasyland in late December, and not just that Le Pays des Contes de Fées, the Storybookland Canal Boats, was open in the middle of Winter. No, the attraction has finally got Tangled up in a 21st Century Disney tale — both the studio’s first computer-animated and 3D fairytale, which finally hits cinemas in the UK exactly a week from now after already proving a big hit in both the US and France (where at Disneyland Paris guests have been able to meet the live characters since November).

The canal has always had a Rapzunel tower, but now the old landmark has been completely replaced with a brand new model, faithful to the Disney animator’s final design from the new film. The new tower stands much taller on the miniaturised cliffside than the original, which had a more whimsically home-made look, bringing in a vibrant indigo roof and more intricate, colourful detailing. The smaller-scaled tangle of Rapunzel’s hair hanging down from the tower even has a tiny model of hero Flynn Rider climbing up to save the damsel. Tangled is now by far the most recent Disney film featured in the attraction and, in fact, the whole land, its closest contender being 1992’s Aladdin.

VIA rirififi74 (Disney Central Plaza)Photos Magiques

Thursday, 25th February 2010

WALL-E buys a ticket for the All Stars Express!

Show director Christophe Leclercq stands in front of previously unseen concept art for the 2010 redressing of Minnie’s Party Train (née Disney Characters’ Express) in the video on the official event page, revealing a redecorated Casey Jr. train. Before we dive into the screenshots, watch it back:

Previously, we’d been led to believe that the train would remain largely unchanged from its 2009/10 form, as the only piece of imagery published so far showed it retaining Minnie’s polka dots.

However, the concept art revealed here shows the wagon supports and roofs redressed with bright, toy-like multicolours — red, yellow, green and blue — and given New Generation Festival logos, with the engine itself a bright white, its ribbon bearing “All Stars Express” lettering.

Take a look at these large-format stills (click for even larger versions):

Disney All Stars Express

Above, the multicolours and some new flags atop the carriages, carrying the logos of Monsters, Inc., The Incredibles and other ‘New Generation’ films.

The most interesting moment of the video, though, is when Christophe mentions the characters who we’ll find on board the train. Speaking in French, he quite clearly first mentions — yes, WALL-E! The robot from Pixar’s 2008 film of the same name.

So, take another look at the Disney All Stars Express concept art…

Disney All Stars Express

There he is, sitting atop the coal in the engine’s tender!

The following design image even flashes up on screen for a brief moment, with the words “pose reference only” suggesting that Disneyland Paris have been forwarded three-dimensional character models by Pixar in order to build the full-size figure:

Disney All Stars Express

But it gets complicated, at least for us English-speakers. On the UK website, the subtitles provided for Christophe’s French script strangely replace the very clear “WALL-E” with “Sulley”, take a look:

Disney All Stars Express

We’ve mentioned in the past that the gang of ‘New Generation characters’ to be featured heavily this year has been set for some time, and certainly doesn’t include WALL-E anywhere. Could this be a late cover-up of a cancelled plan?

Hopefully not — the familiar character train needs something beyond a few new colours to keep it fresh for yet another guise. This Pixar robot atop the tender would be just the ticket. Ha ha! Just the ticket! ……

Images © Disney.

Saturday, 30th January 2010

More Princess Tiana – plus a talk with her creator

For many of us, in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, this is the week. In just a few short days, we get to see a brand new, traditionally-animated Disney musical on the big screen. At one time, that would have been unthinkable. It’s almost too much to bear.

And, for those lucky enough to follow that up with a trip to Disneyland Paris from April onwards, they’ll also get to see the film’s modern-thinking heroine in person. To tease us for that event, another new photo has been released of the star peering from the Castle balcony, just as she does in the film…

Princess Tiana

This follows the first photo, featuring Prince Naveen, released a couple of weeks ago.

To get yourself even more hyped up for the film, what better way than hopping over to DLRP, where our interviews host Jérémie Noyer has taken a diversion from Disneyland Paris to the Walt Disney Animation Studios in California, to talk with Mark Henn, supervising animator of Princess Tiana herself!

In this fascinating insight — which, don’t worry, is spoiler-free — Mark talks about the challenge of animating Disney’s first princess to progress on-screen from a little girl to a grown up adult… not to mention a small green frog. He also discusses the very modern personality flaws of both Tiana and Naveen, how Lady and Tramp served as inspiration for the film’s “look” and what role he’s already preparing to take for Disney’s next traditionally-animated feature, Winnie the Pooh.

This is the perfect lead-in for the film — Enjoy! ›

Image © Disney.

Friday, 18th December 2009

Princess and the Frog previews for AP & Shareholders

Registration pages for both programmes are now open, with Annual Passholders able to enjoy the film on either 9th or 16th January 2010 and Shareholders invited to their own screening on 23rd January 2010.

The film will be screened inside CinéMagique, presumably using its digital projection technology. For Shareholders, the film begins at 8.45pm, whilst for Annual Passholders it’s an 8.30pm start. All screenings are in French only.

Princess and the Frog previews for APs & Shareholders

Prior registration is required, which can be completed here for Annual Passholders and here for Shareholders. A hotel offer will also be available for Shareholders.

The Princess and the Frog, directed by the unbeatable duo of Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin) sees the Walt Disney Animation Studios finally return to traditional animation for the first time since the studio’s hand drawn output was virtually shut down for good in 2004, following belief that it was the medium, nothing else, too blame for falling box office.

Despite its release in the USA last week generating much positive press and word of mouth around it world, it does not open in France until 27th January 2010, and not in the UK, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal or Belgium until the start of February. Germany has been unusually lucky, able to see it since 10th December — technically a day before most US audiences.

Even so, this still leaves a gap of several months before Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen themselves are due to officially arrive at Disneyland Paris as part of the New Generation Festival, which begins on 2nd April 2010.

Wednesday, 16th December 2009

Roy E. Disney, saviour of the mouse, has died aged 79

Roy E. Disney, twice saviour of the mouse, has died
Roy E. Disney 1930 – 2009

Over a 56-year period with The Walt Disney Company, Roy E. Disney twice played a key role in saving it from creative ruin, overseeing a new golden age of animation that included Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, pushing with all his energy the need to preserve Disney’s historic legacy whilst looking to the future, embracing new technology to revitalise Disney tradition.

D23, the official community for Disney fans, just published a look back at his life and his legacy.

Roy’s resignation from the Disney board of directors in 1984, following his unhappiness with the company’s lack of direction, triggered a series of developments which saw the arrival of Michael Eisner and Frank Wells to revitalise the company and — of course — put together the most lavish magic kingdom the world has ever seen. A shining example of Roy’s constant push to maintain Disney values. A place that would have even blown his Uncle Walt away.

For keeping tradition; For looking ahead. Thank you, Roy.

Tuesday, 8th September 2009

Park boutiques given extra G-Force

Yes, ever keen to extend their worthy history of Armageddon, Gone in Sixty Seconds and, err, Kangaroo Jack, Jerry Bruckheimer Films have turned to those most daring of squeaky animals — guinea pigs! — for a new action/adventure family film released earlier this Summer.

And here’s the obligatory news story about the new movie merchandise in the parks: A full display at the entrance of Legends of Hollywood inside Disney Studio 1 has been given over to the Digital 3-D rodents of G-Force, complete with spy glasses, action figures and of course, plush toys.

G-Force Merchandise G-Force Merchandise

The same collection can also be found at Sir Mickey’s Boutique in Fantasyland and at Disney Store and Hollywood Pictures in Disney Village.

Pictures: DLRP

Sunday, 18th January 2009

Bolt premiere brings stars both familiar and furry

For some time it would be second nature for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in France to ignore the huge, we’d say wonderful, slice of the Disney empire right on their doorstep, instead premiereing all the latest Disney releases in Paris itself. Since The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, however, we’ve seen a pleasant change of direction — the stars are coming back to Disneyland.

Yesterday evening, it was the turn of Disney’s latest CGI feature. Bolt, an acting dog who plays the lead character in a hit spy TV series, thinks the “action” is all entirely real. In setting out to continue fighting crime after the director calls “cut”, he loses his owner and goes on a wild pan-American trip home with the help of an unwilling cat, , and one of his biggest fans — the scene-stealing Rhino the hamster.

As with most Disney animations, the characters have a whole new cast of voices in France — no John Travolta, Miley Cyrus or — ehm — Mark Walton (the story artist who ended up playing Rhino) heard here. In Lightning/Flash McQueen fashion, the film itself even has a different, though very similar title — Bolt becomes ‘Volt, Star Malgre Lui’.

However, there is still much for those of us not from France to get excited about — both directors of the film, Bryon Howard and Chris Williams, are at Disneyland Resort Paris this weekend to celebrate the premiere, along with modern Disney/Pixar icon John Lasseter himself.

The official photos are out already, let’s take a look:

Bolt 3D premiere
John Lasseter with the new character Bolt — yes, his tag has kept the English name

Bolt 3D premiere Bolt 3D premiere
Left: Mittens the cat joins John Lasseter and Bolt
Right: Richard Anconina, the French voice of Bolt (France’s John Travolta..?)

Bolt 3D premiere Bolt 3D premiere
Left: Gilles Lellouche, French voice of Rhino the hamster, joins Richard Anconica
Right: Omar Sy and Fred Testot, who both play pigeons in the French-language version of the film, with Fred also playing the older cat who appears and — in an interesting change from the original film — Omar playing Mittens the cat, who in the original is voiced by Curb Your Enthusiasm comedian Susie Essman

Bolt 3D premiere Bolt 3D premiere
Left: The directors, Bryon Howard and Chris William
Right: The full cast and crew in attendance, from left to right: directors Bryon Howard and Chris William, voice artists Omar Sy, Fred Testot and Richard Anconica, executive producer John Lasseter, story artist and original voice of Rhino Mark Walton, voice artist Gilles Lellouche and producer Clark Spencer

Bolt 3D premiere
Original Walt Disney Animation Studios crew behind the film: directors Bryon Howard and Chris William, executive producer John Lasseter, story artist and original voice of Rhino Mark Walton and producer Clark Spencer

Bolt, Disney’s 48th animated feature, opens in Germany 22nd January, France on 4th February, United Kingdom on 6th February and Netherlands and Belgium on 11th February. Be sure to catch it in spectacular Disney Digital 3D if you can!

Thursday, 7th August 2008

WALL-E advertising and the words of WALL-E

What WALL-E lacks in his limited speech of synthetic sounds, beeps and whistles, he more than makes up for with a powerful message of caring for our planet. It’s not quite as overstated as a 90-minute power lecture from Al Gore, but it’s definitely there.

So, when you visit Backlot Express restaurant in Walt Disney Studios Park this Summer, you’re bound to feel more than a little guilty as you take your tray.


Because, not only will you be picking up food in plastic wrapping and a drink from a plastic bottle you’ll likely throw away in a few minutes, the people in charge of the Buena Vista-Disneyland crossovers (yes, the same movie distribution/park crossovers that brought us the famous Disney Studio 1 billboard) have thoughtfully lined your tray with a large sheet of crisp white A3 paper.

On it, you’ll find an advertisement for WALL-E — featuring the robot presenting a windmill to his love, Eve — and a message to visit the Shutterbugs photo studio inside Disney Studio 1. Here, you can pose against the green-screen backdrop to be transplanted into the world of WALL-E for a souvenir photo.


So first Buena Vista International ruined Studio 1, are they now going for the Earth?

It’s inevitable that a film with the agenda of WALL-E will come under fire for not practising what it preaches amongst the mountains of merchandise and marketing materials that need to be produced, but using literally tens of thousands of sheets of un-recycled paper to advertise it is rather an unfortunate decision. Luckily, Disneyland Resort Paris does claim to sort and recycle the vast majority of its waste, and has a very good record for doing so, but in this case did that waste need to exist in the first place?

On the opposite end of the AXIOM, the advertising for WALL-E in the park began with just three or four single posters outside Backlot Express, together seen by more people than these thousands of paper sheets put together. Even the guys at Walt Disney Records have given the film’s underlying message some thought — your soundtrack CD won’t arrive in a plastic case but with a cardboard wallet and paper booklet produced from 100% recycled materials.

Rather a more Earth-friendly way to do things, wouldn’t you have thought?

[Pictures: DLRP;]

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