The wide resort esplanade in Paris is usually a place of guests rushing hurriedly from hotel-to-park or park-to-park, eager to begin their Disney experience. Last Friday at around 7.00pm, however, they were in for a shock — the gateway to Narnia had sprung open right there, bringing the stars of the film and their medieval extras on a long route all the way from Disneyland Hotel to Disney Village…
In the first car, William Moseley (Peter) and Georgie Henley (Lucy).
Following, Anna Popplewell (Susan) and Skandar Keynes (Edmund) made their way through the gardens, past the train station, to the newly-green (is “Narnia-like” pushing it?) Disney Village.
A large crowd was gathered well in advance of the arrival of the lead actors, thanks to plentiful publicity by the resort and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures — not to mention the many camera crews setting up outside the cinema doors. Each car, in fresh Narnia-like colours, was decorated with themed flags bearing the film’s logo.
The biggest star of the film arrives — Prince Caspian himself, Ben Barnes, joined by director Andrew Adamson.
Prince Caspian will likely be Adamson’s final time directing a Narnia film. For the third, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, due in 2010, British director Michael Apted has already been signed on. Adamson will remain as a producer.
Many fans like those hoping for an autograph and photo here, will be glad to hear that all the principle cast have already been signed onto the third film.
For William Moseley, that means another long line of adoring (and mostly female) fans.
But now, he has competition — Ben Barnes has been thrust head-first into the big time as lead character Prince Caspian, with Disney trumpeting its choice to begin promotion of the film with a single one-sheet poster featuring just this star. / Andrew Adamson asks if the throne (behind) is intended for him
Georgie Henley, William Moseley, Ben Barnes, Anna Popplewell
The young cast with producer Mark Johnson (left) and Vincent Grass (right), who plays Doctor Cornelius
The entire company pose for the bank of photographers and journalists in front of the entrance doors to Gaumont Cinemas in Disney Village, surrounded by actors from the earlier medieval ceremony.
Numerous French celebrities and personalities, such as Emilie Dequenne, Geraldine Pailhas, Jovanka Sopalovic, Clovis Cornillac, Antoine de Maximy, David Halliday, Richard Dacoury, Laura Flessel and Julie Gayet also attended the premiere, posing for photographs and interviews on the throne positioned in front of the giant ‘Prince Caspian’ backdrop.
Since the loud neon lights which protruded into the middle of the Disney Village street disappeared just a few years ago, the streamlined Frank Gehry architecture of the large Eastern building has felt more flat than ever before — save for the odd illuminated balloon or two. Today, this unusual stretch of Disney architecture is well on its way to being “humanised”.
Just over a week ago, construction walls surrounded the entire area of the former Sports Bar and New York Style Sandwiches terrace. This was previously an enclosed, slightly raised area before it met its end when much of the seating moved to the undercover area on the left.
Last weekend, all was revealed — more new trees for the Village! There continues to be a mix of evergreen and deciduous, with the fir tree between Disney Fashion and New York Style Sandwiches joined by these — currently skeletal — new trees.
Somewhat like Walt Disney Imagineering’s ‘placemaking’ works for Walt Disney Studios Park, the works at the Village will turn it from a vast expanse of concrete into a place where trees and planting invite you to explore slightly more hidden corners.
All well and good, but let’s not forget that the 2005 removal of the pylons in the middle of the street — which looked less than beautiful during the day — also caused one of the best things about Gehry’s original design to disappear: the starry sky. Long stretches of lights between the pylons, like a roof to Gehry’s “industrial factory” party space.
Now, many years later, a reasonable replacement has arrived — bright, colour-changing, fibre optic lights, laced along the branches of each tree! The ends of each wire light up throughout the day and change colour continuously. They are being fastened in place to illuminate the branches and should certainly add to the effort to help Disney Village feel a little more like an extension of the parks, rather than an unwelcome distant relative.
And what of those new terraces? At Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon, the mysterious work continues to go on without much word as to what exactly will become of the bar/restaurant’s exterior. It is clear that more “relief” and texture is a likely addition to the flat, un-themed building, which was last year given a border around its roofline to begin the process, but no exact details are known about the redesign.
The terrace area, which often became nothing more than empty wooden pen during Winter months, has seen some destruction to provide a home for another new tree and planter. Some sources on the usual Disney Central Plaza forum have suggested a proper cover for the terrace could be a possibility.
At Café Mickey, meanwhile, it looks like a covered terrace is a reality. As the photo above shows, a new curved steel framework is going up around the edge of the building, where previously an uninviting tarmac terrace was bordered by temporary potted plants.
Whilst the look and style of Disney Village has been evolving through a series of enhancement projects in recent years (the latest being the new planters), one thing has remained pretty much stagnant since the opening of King Ludwig’s Castle in 2003 — the choice and availability of dining.
However, amongst all the renewed interest in the Village thanks to the latest enhancements, strong rumours now suggest two small new food locations will almost certainly open within the next year. Information from several members on the French message board Disney Central Plaza suggests that these will be two new, separate buildings — not small stands or kiosks, nor large buildings for the new street next to the IMAX cinema. Instead, they will be slotted into the existing Disney Village area to increase the district’s range of food and capacity.
The current area and carousel, very much unloved by fans
So, which two companies could be involved in these new eateries? Whilst the insiders originally held the information close, it has now emerged that none other than Starbucks could be involved, with rumours even strong enough to suggest that the new location would be behind Rainforest Café, on the site of the current “rainforest carousel” (pictured above).
This would provide enough space for a kitchen and serving area with some, rather limited, seating. It would also make this Starbucks visible from all around the Lake Disney area, perhaps one of the most lucrative locations they’ve ever won in their ongoing world domination.
Example Starbucks franchise
It is expected the design would be overseen by DLP-I, the Paris branch of Imagineering who work on Disney Village projects and most recently completed the PanoraMagique and IMAX developments with a noticeably more discreet and Parisian style than other areas of the Village. With Starbucks‘ branding being much subtler than other chains, the two could fit together well for a welcome lake-side coffee shop.
But what for that second new eatery? The admin of Disney Central Plaza, Grandmath, promised that at least one of the two was already operating at Walt Disney World. Since there are no Starbucks franchises on Disney’s Florida property, the second location must surely be the Orlando import.
Indeed, current rumours, again very strong and from reliable sources, point to an Earl of Sandwich opening at Disney Village. Think of this as a more exclusive, slightly upmarket version of high street-favourite Subway. No location for the second building has been rumoured, and no tentative dates for construction of either have yet been given.
With the new planters, a sandwich shop and a coffee shop, Disney Village could well morph from its metallic, hung-over past to a pleasant, leafy place to spend a lazy afternoon. We’ll have a Strawberries & Cream Frappuccino and a Tuna Melt, please.
The planters might still be largely plant-less, but they’ve already had an impact on the look and feel of Disney Village, adding curves and hidden corners to the previously flat and square street. Curiously, they’ve been used to enclose many of the concrete footers of the old pylons, with no signs of these being removed.
Either the square bases will be expensive or difficult to remove, due to electrics and cabling inside, or they have been kept for some other reason, perhaps seasonal decorations or events.
Further down the street, near New York Style Sandwiches and Disney Fashion, the planters circle outwards from the supports of the undercover areas. There are around seven new planters in total, ranging from a small circle next to Annette’s Diner to the large expanse now covered under Planet Hollywood‘s staircase.
At the entrance to the Village, where wooden-bordered planters first appeared before the full concrete edges arrived, nothing has yet to fill the extra gap, as the concrete pieces are still slotted into place. The planters here create large circular seating areas from the empty area previously used by attractions such as the mechanical bull.
The planters aren’t the only additions to Disney Village in the 2008 slate of improvements. Behind the wall of blue fences to the left of the entrance, another new stand is currently under construction. Its metal structure can just be seen above the fence. This follows the recent addition of a proper stand for Marriott’s holiday village sales next to the Planet Hollywood boutique (see the first photo on this page).
On the subject of Planet Hollywood itself, there’s reason for a real celebration. Because, whilst the rest of the Village might be “going green”, the iconic globe of this restaurant has finally lost its years of green moss and dirt to return to a bright blue, thanks to a long-awaited refurbishment…
The globe had already been given a substantial clean-up in recent weeks, before the arrival of stakeholder Sylvester Stallone, but the two photos below do give a good impression of the improvement to this location which, for many, is their first impression of Disney Village. The repainting is still ongoing, with the lowest section of the globe still awaiting paint and new white cloud patterns still to be applied on top.
There’s a return to form elsewhere in the Village, too, and quite an unexpected one. Just a few years after closing in favour of the new NEX Arcade underneath the IMAX cinema on the Village’s future new street, the games arcade in the former Central Stage area has reopened!
The area has remained empty and untouched since the arcade “moved”, but has now reopened with a dark and simply interior design and simple, rather amateurish signage outside. This must raise questions about the popularity of the NEX arcade, and their feelings about being made practically redundant with the reopening of this location. The games at NEX might be better, and it might offer miniature 10-pin “fun” bowling, but will any guests now walk so far out of the way for it?
Finally, with all these additions, it might be hard to overlook one of the most dramatic and surprising losses from Disney Village in recent weeks — the iconic Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon sign.
As shown in the photo inset, the sign has survived all previous refurbishments and improvement programmes at the Village, but lost at the final hurdle. It follows the removal of the Billy Bob’s signage, awning and many painted decorations from the building in recent weeks. There has been no word of the Country Western Saloon theme disappearing, and so we can only assume this refurbishment will simply be much, much more ruthless than any in the past…
The changes began back in December of 2007, when, as if preparing for its New Year resolutions, new planters suddenly appeared at the esplanade entrance to Disney Village. Contained within simple wooden borders like you can find at any garden centre, the new trees, shrubs and plants were a shock to the system, wrapped around either side of the entrance and behind the staircase into Planet Hollywood. It was a very good start — not great, the Disney “finish” was lacking, but certainly a major plus for the once barren, concrete areas.
Late December 2007 [Fabawan, DisneyGazette.fr forum]
Whilst the fans on magicforum whiled away the first month of the year dreaming of concrete borders Ã la the American Downtown Disney areas (and the esplanade leading to the Disney Village parking lot, in fact), little did we all know what would suddenly appear at the end of the month… Yes, concrete borders. Disney’s standard issue for planters in the resort area, and one of the first true, permanent “Disney” touches the multi-year makeover of the Village has seen so far.
7th-8th February 2008 [Photos Magiques]
Before we knew it, walls were popping up here, there and everywhere — brand new trees climbing into the sky behind them, housed in new footers being dug into the concrete flooring.
21st February 2008 [Disneytheque.com]
Next to Annette’s, between Planet Hollywood and King Ludwig’s, between Sports Bar and Disney Fashion and between Disney Fashion and the Hollywood Pictures store they arrived…
29th February 2008 [Mousy.be]
The entire lot reaches its crescendo at Café Mickey, where the uninspiring black tarmac terrace, bordered only by temporary potted plants for years, is finally being ripped up and replaced by a brand new pavement terrace, like the great cafés of Paris itself.
6th February 2008 [Fabawan, DisneyGazette.fr forum]
After the balloons and garish repainting works, Disney Village finally looks to be on the right track. With its harsh architecture softened by greenery and “through-passage” feel broken by all the extra seating on the concrete borders, wrapping and curving their way along the street, the area is finally beginning to appear like a real extension of the parks themselves.
Well, it at least now, finally, has that aspiration.
— Look out for another update following this soon, with the latest progress from the project.
As we’ve watched the Village change its colours over the past couple of years, removing pillars and the “starry sky”, adding garish colours and poorly designed signs, there’s no doubt the thought that has always been at the back of our minds – “It’s ok. It’s only temporary. Once Tower of Terror is complete, Disney Village will be next on the agenda.”
But what then? Sure, we might finally get a brand new ‘World of Disney’ Store, but in the old part of town, will all this work be replaced again? They’ll have another go, but with a bigger budget? When you stop to think about it, the future for the current street — unless they do something seriously drastic when they start to expand — doesn’t look that good after all. Nor does the present…
DLRP Today is a happy place, let’s not forget that. We’ve had complaints, we’ve had moans, we’ve had could-have-been-done-betters, but, of 300+ articles, very few contain anything remotely negative about Disneyland Resort Paris. In that spirit, let’s start with a few kind words before the real disappointment begins…
Now, it’s quite unfair to entirely blame the current team on the state of Disney Village. The blame really has to go back to the original lead architect – Frank Gehry – or better still the person who comissioned the entire project – Michael Eisner. It’s no secret Eisner wanted Disney to become reknowned for world-class modern architecture as well as world-class theme park design. Whilst he may have given us the most stunning Magic Kingdom, he also gave us the most stunning mess right outside its gates.
Frank Gehry’s minimalist, geometric styles are all well and good – but at Disneyland? Even upon opening, the effect of this rather clever, giant “outdoor warehouse” with its pillars and “roof” of lights was ruined by the necessary signage for Disney’s stores and restaurants. Minimalism needs to be minimalism, not minimalism-with-a-giant-‘STEAKHOUSE’-sign-stuck-on-top. It’s simply impossible for a place like Disneyland to use this type of architecture.
Recently, they’ve added even more to the blank, uninspiring buildings in an attempt to “soften” the atmosphere, such as the rather nice stencil lettering and blocks of colour across the front of Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon. Already one of the better-looking locations in the Village, the bar/restaurant and its adjoining Steakhouse have now been de-minimalised further with large boards wrapped around the top of their facades, finally giving them the look of real buildings, rather than overstated portakabins.
With the boards also wrapping around the top of The Steakhouse, which still has a fairly empty front, could a final stage in the makeover see some extra decorations here?
The first refurbishments to the work carried out back in 2005 are also happening, such as the much-needed repainting of the dark red pillar bases.
Even from a distance, the new, completed facade of the Disney Store is colourful, attention-grabbing and unmistakably “Disney”. With the balloons applied on top, the Village can now look colourful and welcoming even during the day… That said, whoever thought a red and white tape to cordon off the platform on the left would be OK needs to remember this is meant to be Disneyland, and not some war-torn country.
Hurricanes has some rather nifty new projections across itself, and another new kiosk has popped up over by Disney’s Hotel New York to advertise the Marriot Ile-de-France vacation club. Simple, stylish and with an understated Disney touch – we need more like this, please!
Ironically, it’s placed next to possibly the worst, ugliest, tackiest, (etc), feature in the entire resort – that New York “driving school” which continues to ruin the grounds of Hotel New York. Would the resort really not survive without this feature, would they have to close because they need the profit so much? No. So why, oh why, is it there?
We’re definitely onto “the bad” now. You know, in almost an entire year of DLRP Today being online, we’ve rarely added any opinion or comment to our news reports about Disneyland Resort Paris. But when you see things like the “new” Disney Store facade, you just feel like screaming.
First and last impressions are always the ones people remember. With its location right at the heart of the resort, Disney Village is both the first location guests explore upon arriving and the last place they visit before leaving. Oh dear… Sure, there’s the excuse that all of the resort’s money is being pumped into the two parks right now, but that’s no excuse for awful design, especially when they clearly do have money to spend on Disney Village, and have in fact spent it on the following…
The odd, 2D signage, apparently in the style of a child’s colouring book, looks even more bizarre when you take a closer look at the characters. It’s almost as if you’re hallucinating.
I’m sorry, you’re not.
And it gets worse. On the entrance of the Disney Store facing the Sports Bar, the cute “Mount Disney Store” decoration, featuring the heads of Donald, Mickey and Goofy rather than George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, has just been given an extra-special coat of paint…
So what was once a fun salute to one of America’s greatest landmarks now becomes something that makes you feel like you just stepped through the gates of that fake Disneyland in Beijing. They could have taken this “American landmarks” theme and ran with it – Minnie Mouse as the Statue of Liberty, Daisy Duck in Hollywood… but no, that might be too boring. That wouldn’t look anywhere near enough like a rip-off market stall at all, it’d never work.
Come to think of it, Mount Rushmore is pretty boring isn’t it? It’s just a load of pale, grey rock. They really ought to follow the lead of Disney Village and get painting some bright primary colours across the faces of those dull presidents.
If they’re so intent on refurbishing Disney Village to a tight budget, a good place to start tightening the purse strings might have been shrinking the size of Donald and Mickey’s pupils, don’t you think?
Disney Village… will you ever be a worthy hub for Disneyland Resort Paris?
The new event will see martial arts teams, clubs and organisations descend on the resort from 26th to 28th September 2008, competing in special tournaments inside the Disney’s Hotel New York convention centre and joining in streetmosphere at Disney Village that will include entertainers, market stalls, themed restaurants, demonstrations, lion dance and live video feeds from the ongoing tournaments.
The Disney Village and Lake Disney area of Disneyland Resort Paris has built quite a name for itself over the years hosting seasonal and sporting events,which have ranged from the recent “Tropical Festival” and annual “Country Western Festival” to major sporting occasions such as an X-Games tournament and the annual Xtra Jet jet ski competition. Announced well over one year in advance, this upcoming event shows the amount of time and planning which goes into each of these seasonal events, always a good boost for the resort – and particularly its hotels.
One of the organisers of the event has kindly contacted us with information and a brochure (aimed at clubs who might wish to take part), which can be seen below. Long-time fans might notice the recycling of various graphics and photos from Disneyland Park‘s old Mulan – The Legend show, as well as the Disney VillageChinese New Year events – could some of the props from these events also reappear?
The Times Square ballroom of Disney’s Hotel New York will host the main tournaments, “transformed into a warriors’ arena with fully matted competition, seminar areas and tiered spectator seating”. Competitions will culimate in a grand final at the Disney Village Dome. The event claims it will welcome everyone “no matter what age or level you’re at”, and allow competitors in a wide range of areas, such as Karate, Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, Judo, BJJ, Kickboxing or Capoeira.
With promises that the organisers will be “turning Disney Village into an oriental-themed festival”, it seems that – for those of us without a black belt – this future event will also offer more than just sporting matches.
The lower section of Disney Store at Disney Village has been transformed almost into a dedicated 15th Anniversary boutique, both with its standard Lumière banners, wall decorations and floor stickers and with its new golden yellow colour scheme outside. Like almost every boutique across the resort, Hollywood Pictures has a special area reserved for the general merchandise line of the 15th, complete with 3D Lumière decorations and banners.
Disney Store decorations / Hollywood Pictures sale display
The same selection is available almost everywhere, and much of it is currently aimed at children, with colouring books, clothing and stationary completing the standard range of merchandise. More variety has just arrived though, such as a new clothing line with a more “adult” anniversary logo – featuring the date of 2007 and “15 Magical Years”. Strange, since the Anniversary continues into 2008, but with several different t-shirts and sweatshirts already available this provides welcome variety to the offering.
Generic 15th merchandise / New 15th clothing line
A little more exclusive and exceptional Anniversary merchandise has also just appeared, such as the 15th Anniversary wine revealed a few weeks ago, now available from Disney’s Newport Bay Club, Disney’s Sequoia Lodge and Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne. The first wine with the Disney stamp on it, this has yet to actually be spotted inside the Disney Parks, perhaps suggesting it’ll be a resort-hotel-only offering, to keep the more traditional Disney execs happy.
15th wine at Sequoia Lodge / Pair of 15th glasses at Harrington’s
But how to drink the wine in perfect Anniversary style? Head to one of the more exclusive stores, such as the glass workshop section of Harrington’s Fine China & Porcelains in Main Street USA, and you’ll find these beautiful pairs of glasses with the 15th Anniversary logo etched into the glass, supported by none other than Mickey and Minnie Mouse themselves.
Limited edition Swarovski pendant
And finally, for the most exclusive of all Anniversary merchandise and souvenirs so far, splash out on a limited edition Swarovski Crystal pendant featuring Tinker Bell, created exclusively for the resort and its 15th Anniversary! The price tag? Probably larger than the pendant itself…!
A new resort logo, you ask? “Again?” It’s a strong possibility. The new “Disneyland 15” logo, which was featured on all press material and advertising for the 15th Anniversary launch, has begun to appear without the giant 15 and instead as a new, standalone logo, replacing the circa-2002 logo which put the “Resort” firmly in the spotlight.
Guests of non-English language don’t particularly understand the “resort” tag, yet the concept of two theme parks has infact truly caught on, meaning the word has become quite redundant as the use of simply “Disneyland Paris” increases everywhere. Whilst early visuals for this new PanoraMagique overlay used the old logo then, the final design brings in the new – and flies it high above the entire resort.
Workers scale the balloon to attach its new livery, 27th March 2007.
The banner was fitted in several pieces and matches almost perfectly with the existing design of the balloon, which opened in April 2005 and is infact operated by its creators, company Aérophile, on a seven year contract. The balloon has fast become a unique icon for the resort, not found in any other Disney park and with a Victorian style mixing well between its Parisian location and American-themed surrounding Disney Hotels.
The completed overlay.
Like all of the recent Disney Village enhancements, its original livery – and this overlay – was completed by DLP-I, Disneyland Paris Imagineering, responsible for all of the more minor projects at the resort. Decorating it with a 15th Anniversary overlay helps to spread the anniversary festivities outside of Disneyland Park, whilst also bringing new interest to the 2-year old creation.
Imagine the scene… on the night of 12th April 2007, all of the resort’s attractions and famous locations join together for one amazing 15th Anniversary party. As Big Thunder Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean look as fresh as ever and Le Château shows off its new bling, the young upstarts of Walt Disney Studios (Aerosmith and Julie from the TV Tour?) really show how to get a party started. The Disney Hotels play the sleeping aunts and uncles in the corner, whilst those strange new neighbours from Val de France cause more than a few frowns from the Disney classics. Meanwhile, spare a thought for Disney Village – sobbing in the street. Those fifteen years haven’t been kind to everyone. Time for drastic measures? Well, only as far as the budget will stretch…
In truth, the Village seems to have been preparing for this dreaded event for quite some time. A series of refurbishments, repaints and redecorations began way back in 2005, and has since come in sudden surges every few months. Usually met by howls and scowls from fans (who disliked the original design yet appear to hate the new one even more), the refresh has sought to bring more colour, life and Disney atmosphere to the Village – whilst systematically moving every possible hint of the ’90s.
Short of demolishing the entire Frank Gehry-conceived distict, though, there’s only so far this can go. Recently, it means removing the tired old facades and replacing them with fresh paint and simple signs, such as the Team Mickey makeover. Last on the tick-list: Disney Store, which began its renewal around two weeks ago.
The original pastel-coloured Union Station and Grand Central Station façades have been removed and the building patched-up ready for repainting. Since the “Mount Disney Store” side (opposite Sports Bar) was repainted over a year ago now, this will remain in place.
It doesn’t seem certain that the Disney Store’s new façade will feature a similar American theme, though the design of the boutique has always been quite mismatched. Originally, the “Space” theme from inside continued into the street, with Mickey riding a spaceship atop a giant steel pillar stretching across the street.
Rumours spread several months ago, when the World of Toys and Hollywood Pictures received their new paint, that the buildings could be decorated in large murals of Disney characters. Since these have yet to appear, it would be nice to think Disney Store could be their host. But, as ever, we’ll have to wait and see. The surgery seems to have at least restored some confidence in the Village, which has finally joined the 15th with special window decorations throughout all of its stores (photo 4 above).
So, anyone planning a ’90s revival in Disney Village over the next two weeks had better think again. Put away your flourescent clothing, your Power Rangers dolls and your Cher cassette and enjoy a Disney Village that’s as hip and modern as it ever was. Just don’t mention the 90s are fashionable again.
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