DLP Today had the privilege of being there to experience the ceremonies first-hand and now, as Disneyland Paris prepares to open the area to the public this Thursday 10th July, we take you there. In pictures, video and lots of words in between, this is our complete retelling of the grand opening of Ratatouille: The Adventure at Walt Disney Studios Park. Read More…
Happy birthday, Walt Disney Studios Park! The second park at Disneyland Paris has celebrated its 10th anniversary today in a characteristically somewhat muted day of special events. That wasn’t going to stop the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors giving it their all, though. Following their stint as Frontiersmen for the rededication of the Molly Brown and gentlemen of the royal court for the inauguration of the Princess Pavilion, Osvaldo del Mistero and Régis Alart raided the costuming workshop once again with an eye on Hollywood glitz.
The result looks superb for such an intimate event: dancers, singers, boom mics and rolling cameras — not to mention Osvaldo, Régis and Mickey Mouse all looking like they’ve just stepped out of the Oscar-winning best picture The Artist. A special clapperboard has been decorated with “Walt Disney Studios 10 ans” — the “10” made out out of a celluloid film reel. It’s a welcome throwback to the kind of Hollywood-that-never-was glamour which the still sorely-missed CinéFolies streetsmosphere shows in this same Disney Studio 1 used to provide.
Nevertheless with its very first dark ride finally on the way in 2014, in the form of the world-exclusive and by all accounts state-of-the-art Ratatouille Kitchen Calamity! (rumoured working title), the whispers of further change continue to echo around these fictional soundstages. By the end of this decade, as it’s twentieth birthday nears, the second park might just be nearing a more complete park…
In the meantime, the park’s Cast Members gathered for a souvenir photo.
Last week, the scaffolding and tarpaulin covering finally expanded to cover the large number “1” at the top of the façade, as the first workers since July 2008 were spotted up high:
Photo: Jake Sully, Disney Gazette forum
This weekend just gone, the first results — all the dirt and grime gone from the top of the number plaque, newly repainted at last:
No photoshop, no joke — real progress at last! Congratulations, Disneyland Paris!
It’s been a long journey. After a master-stroke of corporate thinking between Euro Disney SCA and what was then Buena Vista International (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group) in 2005, the film distribution arm of Disney apparently paid its theme park operator cousin a nominal fee to use the front of Disney Studio 1 as a huge advertising billboard for new movie Chicken Little.
Eight months later, in April 2006, they continued their “sponsorship” with a new billboard, extending even further up the building, for Pixar’s Cars. Twenty-seven months — over two years — later, it was still there. With fans becoming exasperated, hope came in August 2008 when Studio 1 finally returned to its natural state… well, almost.
Cars on an official photo (2007), Chicken Little concept (2005),
Refurbishment cover (2008), Original façade (2004)
• 16th March 2002 – 8th August 2005: Original, uncovered façade (41 months)
• 8th August 2005 – 4th April 2006: Chicken Little advertisement (8 months)
• 4th April 2006 – 1st July 2008: Cars advertisement (27 months)
• 11th July – Today: Refurbishment covering (20 months)
Total time covered by billboards/scaffolding: 55 months
And so we waited, until now, when it looks like our park landmark might finally be in preparation for its first close-up since July 2005. Only opened in 2002, we’ve known this tribute to Walt Disney’s Hyperion Studios for longer with scaffolding attached than without.
It’s time to put that right.
Photos 1-2: as credited; Other Photos: DLRP Today.com/Disney
Thanks to mouetto, DCP for exact billboard dates.
Press events are both loved and loathed by Disneyland Paris fans, particularly those frequent French visitors who might have the chance to visit almost every weekend.
On the one hand, it’s a break from the norm — the chance to see special photo set-ups and even catch sight of some VIPs. On the other, it means disruption throughout the parks, areas closed off and prime parade and show viewing points cordoned off from paying guests, while badge holders are often given free reign to skip queues on the most popular attractions. Maybe they’re a necessary evil.
Surprisingly, performances of the stunt show itself weren’t interrupted by the press event, although numerous preparations for the spectacular nighttime launch ahead were visible inside the arena — such as this large lighting rig running along the roof span:
Projectors, cameras and other equipment were not-so-inconspicuously hidden under black sheets in various areas of the stadium seating:
Back outside, Backlot had welcomed a fun retro trailer to serve as an outside broadcast unit for “LFM”:
Celebrities and VIPs from various nations could be spotted all over the parks throughout the day, with film crews, reporters and cameras trailing them to the various picture-perfect locations like the Toon Town backdrop:
Meanwhile, Buzz Lightyear made a quick move from meeting the guests in Toon Studio (left) to meeting the VIPs and film crews in the temporary Backlot photo studio (right):
The fully-refurbished Monsters Inc. location in Toon Studio had a special lighting set-up for the celebrity shots taken here with Sully:
And then, the roping-off began:
A huge area around the Place des Stars Stage was cordoned off for press only, leaving regular, paying guests struggling to see the single performance of Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars, the park’s only outdoor entertainment spectacle:
At least, it was well-patronised come show time:
The president of Disneyland Paris, Euro Disney CEO, Philippe Gas was also in attendance to see Rémy and Emile join the production:
Despite his no doubt hectic schedule, he even took time to make a surprise appearance at a unique meeting of Disneyland Paris fans which was organised for the day — you can read a report here.
With the show over, the Ratatouille car left Place des Stars last…
And then veered left to turn into the cordoned-off Hollywood Boulevard…
Pulling up alongside the Toy Story car to provide a backdrop for more photos and VIP interviews:
Classic photo spots, such as the castle hill, were also in use:
But finally, back at the studios, the doors closed for the general public:
As Disney Studio 1 become a self-contained press holding area, regular guests had to leave the park via the backstage gates between Production Courtyard and Front Lot — views of off-limits areas hidden by a row of temporary planters:
Starting on Main Street, U.S.A., Photos Magiques were keen-eyed enough to spot the disappearance of the balcony railing around the top of Disney Clothiers, Ltd. in their latest update:
Just a week later, and the building is fully encased in scaffolding and tarpaulin wraps for a complete exterior refurbishment:
Access to the boutique is still available through gaps in the construction walls below and from Main Street Motors and Boardwalk Candy Palace either side.
At the end of Main Street, the big project of the moment is hard to miss:
While the stone (or rather, concrete) bridge across to Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant continues its extensive reconstruction, the giant waterfall (Fungus Falls) and the waterways surrounding it have been turned off and, on the left of the moat area, had their perimeter dug up.
Taking a peek through the construction walls, the following photo appears to show the first section of the bridge’s walls have now been completely removed, matching reports that the bridge would be partly rebuilt. Previously, they lined up perfectly with the end of the green railings, curving up to the bridge itself. Now, nothing but a gap…
Since postings on various forums suggest some visitors have been told the Castle is “closed” it’s worth stating again that it most certainly isn’t. Following the smart “By Royal Decree” signs on the construction walls, you can still access the inside of Sleeping Beauty Castle, its two boutiques and first-floor gallery.
A great (and equally spectacular) way to enter the Castle during the work its via the Dragon’s lair to the left of the bridge — spot the path leading to it in the very first photo above.
Though all this time later, the ‘Walt Disney Television Studios’ lettering which used to span the front canopy has yet to reappear. And who can fail to notice, the colourful Art Deco/Streamline Moderne satellite dish mural on the building’s corner was hastily painted right over with a solid teal…
Unfortunately the same impulsive attitude hasn’t yet been applied to Disney Studio 1, which remains covered by scaffolding around 583 days since the refurbishment covering was put up and approximately 1656 days since that first Chicken Little billboard rose up in 2005.
Pictures by Dlrpteam, Photos Magiques (more) and DLRP Today.
In the video, Disneyland Resort’s Manager of Resort Enhancement, Dave Caranci, explains in just a few minutes how “you too” can easily have a Disney-themed Christmas tree. Well, forget posting these tips on the DisneyParks blog, how about sharing them with Disneyland Paris? Judging by what’s happened in the Studios this year, they need some serious help:
No, really, this is the tree.
It appears to be the same one as last year, only with the reasonable blue and silver decorations of film canisters and celluloid reels replaced by deathly dull stars and positively melancholy wreaths. It’s about as far from an all-singing, all-dancing, technicolor, Hollywood Christmas as you could imagine.
Fans have also pointed out that the location isn’t perfect — that it might be better sited within the Hollywood Boulevard area as more of a focal point — but see, there’s a method to their madness. Here at the corner of Production Courtyard, it anchors the all-important Christmas Market.
Dubbed “Christmas Lane” for its 2009 appearance, the encampment of old stalls, recycled from Disney Village, has also seen a Parisian “plussing” after its first, “test” appearance in the park last year. Compare and contrast:
2008 Christmas Market / 2009 Christmas Lane
Whilst the old wooden sheds were hardly going to win Miss Hollywood, there’s something to be said for how they were able to disappear into the background a little. Slapped up with lashings of white paint, it’s a confusing scene indeed. Where are we meant to be? It seems more reminiscent of your local garden centre or DIY store than a Disney theme park.
For all the work and money poured into improving the park with fantastic, top-quality additions like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, this takes us right back to the starting block. Yet again a Disney park in Paris is being treated like an empty canvas, as if they’ve got nothing to work with. As numerous elements of the Christmas festivities across the way prove — most recently “it’s a small world” — it’s a whole let better when you complement the park rather than pretend it’s not there. And Walt Disney Studios does still need a lot of complementing.
Luckily, the wonderful overlay inside Disney Studio 1 has returned as usual, so all is not lost. The lights, tinsel and glorious jazzy music in there almost make up for the barren park, decorations-wise, beyond. But not quite.
So, Disneyland Paris, our most treasured place, we plead you: It’s time to stop messing around. Priority Number 1 for Christmas 2010 must absolutely be to fix the Studios’ offering. Buy a new tree. Buy some lights. Decorate the buildings. Consider alternatives to the garden shed market. But above all: Sit down and think about the potential here. The amazing theme and time period you’ve got to work with. Take us back to an overblown, primary-coloured, Santa Claus, American “department store” Christmas of the 1950s.
Make this truly “the most wonderful time of the year”, for both parks.
Yes, the company which brought us Audio-Animatronics and countless other innovations is clearly having a few issues with this project.
From an advertisement billboard to a larger advertisement billboard, to the current refurbishment tarpaulin, it feels like this will never end. The last official line said the refurbishment had already begun and would be finished by December. It never began.
We now appear to know for sure that the front of Disney Studio 1 won’t see the light of day again this decade. If you should happen to write or email asking what on earth has been going on, the new standard reply seems to be more about buying time than giving dates and details, as the previous response.
Here it is:
Thank you for your email concerning Disneyland® Paris.
To begin with, I would like to thank you for your loyalty in Disneyland Paris. Indeed, it is truly heartening to learn that you have visited the Resort on so many occasions.
Further to your query, I regret to inform you that due to unforeseen technical difficulties with the refurbishment work taking place on Studio 1, the work has been exceptionally delayed. Therefore, we are unable to confirm when the scaffolding will be removed.
Now 15 months and counting since the refurbishment scaffolding was put in place and 4 months since we were told the refurbishment had just begun, this appears to be a pretty exceptional delay. The shell of a building was probably built in less time back in 2000/2001.
But this didn’t involve hidden cameras, silly disguises or breaking into Euro Disney SCA’s offices, oh no. Much tougher than that. DLRP Today had to assume the identity of… a regular guest. The kind of visitor who sees Main Street, U.S.A. as just “the entrance”; the kind of visitor who stops to photograph Disney characters rather than litter bins.
The kind of occasional, annual visitor who, visiting again for the second year in a row, might begin to wonder why that big — huge — building at the entrance of Walt Disney Studios Parkstill appears to be under refurbishment.
Studio 1 in late August 2009 — you almost can’t see the join. Almost.
This was swiftly followed up by a far larger, less sympathetic, billboard advertisement for Pixar’s Cars in April 2006. And here the story stagnates. This unpopular billboard stayed in place right through the 15th Anniversary, in total for no less than 2 years and 3 months, before finally being pulled down for the current “refurbishment” covering 15 months ago.
Past mistakes: Chicken Little (2005-06) and Cars (2006-2008)
So, if a casual guest were to email the resort’s Guest Communications department, casually wondering what was happening to the building, casually hoping for a finish date, as casually as possible… what would they say? Here’s what:
Dear Mr X,
Thank you for your correspondence concerning your recent visit to Disneyland® Paris.
I was pleased to learn that you were recently able to visit the Resort. Disneyland Paris strives to entrance its visitors by the dreams and magic with which they have come to associate the Disney name, and I sincerely hope that your stay provided you with some magical memories.
Upon receipt of your email I contacted the Quality Manager of Walt Disney Studios® Park in order to obtain his feedback on your query. He has advised that Studio 1 is currently undergoing refurbishment and that this work has just started and will continue for approximately 6 months.
Disneyland® Paris hopes to soon have the opportunity to welcome you once more to the resort.
Wonderful! So, the refurbishment has finally just started! Six months is an awfully long time for a repaint, but come April 2010 the park’s indoor Hollywood street should finally be billboard-free and sparkling again!
Except… we got this reply back in July. A full three months ago.
August 2008: We were naively excited to see Front Lot “return”.
So halfway into this refurbishment that as “just started”, what’s the latest? Anyone who has visited the park in that time can tell you — there hasn’t been a single worker there. Look up through the scaffolding and it’s empty, the building itself looking no different behind there. Unless Studio 1 is being stealthily repainted after park hours, the Quality Manager of Walt Disney Studios Park must have hit some problem just after that reply was sent.
Could the crews have been planned to move over to Studio 1 after this project finished, and they’ve since hit delays, or are we being far too generous? Six months is a long time to wait for that refurbishment to finish — but fifteen months to wait for one to start is even worse.
As the counter in our sidebar tells us: it’s Day 1528. The balance has swung. Under scaffolding for more than four years, Disney Studio 1 has now been covered over for far longer than the three years we got to see it as originally intended. In fact, at Disneyland Paris from 2006 to 2009, our former COO would never seen the front of the building in his entire time at the resort.
One area of the Studios that looked better in 2002. Simply beautiful.
If Disney Studio 1 isn’t prominent enough, it’s also based on Walt Disney’s original Hyperion Studio soundstage. Having it covered first by two horrid advertisements, then scaffolding for an non-started refurbishment should be entirely shameful for Euro Disney SCA.
The EPCOT wand has met its match. Congratulations Paris, you did it. Now enough already. Can our incoming operations manager end this embarrassment once and for all?
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.
The same collection can also be found at Sir Mickey’s Boutique in Fantasyland and at Disney Store and Hollywood Pictures in Disney Village.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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