Sunday, 20th July 2008

Studio 1: Returned to glory, by a billboard?

In our last report on the iconic entrance building’s plight, we discovered scaffolding climbing up its façade again. Not for a new billboard, we believed, but for a long-awaited refurbishment. Correct! What we would not have expected, for a building treated so badly by Euro Disney SCA over the past five years, would be a brand new –temporary — covering for the building.

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A huge fabric/tarpaulin covering, hiding the scaffolding completely, decorated with a huge image of the building itself. See it from a distance, and you can’t even tell it’s there — Disney Studio 1 looks as if it’s back to its glory days already!

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As you get closer to the park, the effect of removing the second ‘Cars’ billboard truly becomes apparent. For the first time in years, we see beautiful reflections in the glass at the front of the building and the entire Place des Frères Lumière finally once again feels like the extravagant, beautiful, sunny entrance plaza to a true Disney theme park it should be.

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But wait — it gets better. Around the back of the building, we can spy a match-up we’ve been waiting years to see. The façade of Disney Studio 1… and a “Wet Paint” sign!

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The turquoise/green doors and ‘Studio 1’ signs were repainted here last week. There’s currently no word whether the huge wall of scaffolding might also move around here to repaint the arguably much worse-looking walls above, but let’s hope so.

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To decorate the giant soundstage — at the time of construction, the largest in Europe — with a huge temporary façade during its refurbishment obviously shows that this first image guests receive as they step through the turnstiles is indeed very important. The same way Fantasia Gardens is a beautiful and inviting entrance to Disneyland Park, designed by the Imagineers because of their realisation that Europeans liked to be enchanted a little before parting with their money, Front Lot should be a glossy and relatively commercial-free area.

So, let’s keep it this way, please. No more billboards!

[Photos: DLRP Today]

Saturday, 5th July 2008

Studio 1: Scaffolding climbs…

Step into Walt Disney Studios Park today and you won’t see 2/3 of Disney Studio 1 covered by a billboard. No, instead you’ll see almost the entire façade covered with scaffolding.

Progress? Actually, yes!

As far as most reliable sources have indicated, the scaffolding has actually repositioned itself and grown to allow not for a new billboard — at least, not yet — but for a full refurbishment of the soundstage façade — it’s first since opening in 2002!

The following two photos, taken yesterday by dlrp team on Disney Central Plaza, show how scaffolding has been removed from the green windows and instead begun to climb either side of the area previously covered by the billboard:

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The columns either side of the entrance doors remain visible and scaffolding has yet to reach as high as the number ‘1’ plaque atop the building, which does have some visible dirt.

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At the end of yesterday, Friday 4th July, scaffolding was also clearly ready to begin climbing the left side of the building, just visible in this photo from mouetto on the same French forum:

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To begin such a large-scale refurbishment now, just as one of the resort’s two busiest seasons is beginning, seems an odd planning move to say the least. For all the months of advertising The Celebration Continues’ and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, those guests who booked earlier this year won’t get the ideal introduction to the new, improved Walt Disney Studios Park.

The removal of the billboard, surprising in itself after all this time, also brought another surprise — the façade actually isn’t looking too bad at all. At least not compared to the awful state of the façade on the opposite end of the soundstage, or that of Studio 3 (Animagique) facing onto Front Lot.

Though perhaps badly timed, this is hopefully just the first step in one of the greatest outpourings of yellow paint witnessed since 2002.

[Photos: dlrp team, mouetto, Disney Central Plaza forum]

Tuesday, 1st July 2008

Studio 1: The Billboard is GONE!

We’ve moaned, we’ve groaned, we’ve complained. We even wrote a sarcastic birthday message when it turned one year old and a hugely popular (count: over 3,000 hits) Wish List article pleading for it to be removed.

Now, the advertisement billboard that has plagued Disney Studio 1 for almost three — count them, THREE — years is finally in the process of being removed as you read this.

The proof came out of the blue, from Disney Central Plaza forum member mouetto last night:

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The cameraphone image, taken close to 11pm last night, shows that the giant poster advertising Pixar’s 2006 release Cars had already, finally been removed for good. The poster was a giant matte PVC-type construction, wrapped around a tower of temporary scaffolding behind.

This morning, the sight is even more beautiful — helped by the bright blue skies over Marne-la-Vallée today. Grandmath continues the coverage with these two photos:

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There, isn’t that better? Like the wand being removed from Epcot’s Spaceship Earth, this Disney park landmark can now be seen in a whole new light. Actually, it can now simply be seen.

From the photos above, the billboard also appears to have had minimal damage to the building itself. Though much of it still requires extensive refurbishment and repainting — particularly on the park-side facing Hollywood Boulevard, where the sun hits it spot-on, from a distance the area covered by the billboard does not appear as dirty or as dark (compared to the rest of the façade) as was expected.

Is this the end of the story? Unfortunately, as much as DLRP Today hates to be the bearer of bad news, probably not. The strong rumours of a 15th Anniversary follow-up year based around Mickey Mouse continue — key amongst them, decorations which include a brand new proposal for this space. IE: Another tacky billboard.

We can, however, reveal that only one of three main proposals calls for an obstruction as overpowering as the previous Cars billboard. Two others would slot neatly into the building’s glass area, more alike the Ratatouille, Enchanted and Prince Caspian posters that have been featured on the other end of the soundstage.

For more about the history of the billboard and why protecting the image of Disney Studio 1 matters more than you might think, click here.

Tuesday, 8th August 2006

Birthday wishes, Bill!

It began with scaffolding, building and building, higher and higher… Was it a refurbishment? Was it a set of gallows for Michael Eisner? No and no – it was a record-breaking new attraction for the Studios! One of the biggest billboards in all of France!

Originally celebrating the release of Chicken Little, by 3rd April 2006 the little Billboard had grown in size further and changed his affections to Pixar’s Cars. Still towering over Front Lot after 12 months, the future of the billboard seems uncertain.

With no major animted Walt Disney Pictures release for many months, what are we to expect? ‘Cars’ could stay until the DVD release of the movie. It could even stay until June 2007, when the ‘Cars Race Rally’ attraction actually opens at the park.

Whatever the future holds in store, happy birthday, Billboard! You’ve brought us more respect than ever before for the elegance and beauty of Front Lot!

xxxxx

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