Tuesday, 27th March 2012

Final Central Plaza alterations completed ahead of Disney Dreams! premiere

Central Plaza alterations (C) @InsideDLParis

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

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

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

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

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

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis

Tuesday, 27th March 2012

New floats, changes, additions revealed during Disney Magic on Parade! soft openings

Disney Magic on Parade! (C) NewsDLRP.com

As previously announced, this is “soft opening” week for Disney Magic on Parade!, when the “new” daily parade arrives in the park for public dress rehearsals — revealing its many changes and additions. Yesterday saw the first performance of the revamped parade, and the first play of new theme song “Magic Everywhere” (which we previewed here) in the park. It certainly won’t be the last — unlike under its former guise as Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, there’s no score throughout the parade, just the song played on a loop.

But what we’ve all been clamouring to see are the new floats, starting with the reworking of the original Dreams of Imagation opening float as Making Magic. Its sun, moon and hot air balloon for Mickey and Minnie were icons of the old parade, and they’ve been completely cleared off the storybook float to make way for a pink castle and three characters: the Fairy Godmother, the Blue Fairy and Merlin.

Opening the parade are the Three Good Fairies, who appear to move magically across the parade route using some kind of hands-free segway system. It’s a clever “floating” effect which, along with the nice mix of rarer characters here, might just about make up for the disappointing opening float itself, completely lacking the presence, quality and imagination of Dreams of Imagination.

Disney Magic on Parade! (C) NewsDLRP.com

Far more successful are the gorgeous, whimsical Princess Carriages, each uniquely decorated for their corresponding royalty. Though the three carriages for Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella pass by close together, it still affords a far better chance to glimpse the princesses than the previous, rather overcrowded finale float.

Following these is the smaller, renamed Magic of Romance unit, now comprising three couples: Ariel and Prince Eric, Tiana and Prince Naveen, plus new additions Rapzunel and Flynn. For the first time since they arrived in park parades, the royalty of Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast are missing.

Disney Magic on Parade! (C) NewsDLRP.comDisney Magic on Parade! (C) NewsDLRP.com

From here, the parade consists of four relatively unchanged original floats, now renamed as Magic of Laughter & Fun, Magic of Friendship, Magic of Adventure and Magic of Fantasy. Within these we see the arrival of the White Rabbit, new puppet dancers alongside Pinocchio and Gepetto, bumblebees following Winnie the Pooh, colourful birds flying either side of Adventure and purple-clad pearly kings and queens following Mary Poppins. Each float has a hidden ’20’.

The grand finale is preceded by more dancers, floating on segways, dressed in pink, purple and orange. Repainted in similarly bright shades, Magic Everywhere is the new name for the former Dreams of Romance: Finale unit, now home to Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, Chip ‘n’ Dale, Goofy and — yes — Duffy. Mickey Mouse, in a new variation of his classic sorcerer’s outfit, ends the parade atop the blue Fantasia-inspired hillside, dotted with anthropomorphised mops holding buckets.

Disney Magic on Parade! (C) NewsDLRP.com
Disney Magic on Parade! (C) NewsDLRP.com

Hidden in the back of the float yesterday was Tinker Bell, but today her place was apparently taken by Donald Duck. More changes could continue tomorrow and Thursday. On Friday 30th, however, the parade apparently reverts back to being Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade for a special farewell performance, including the last appearance (for now) of the spectacular Dreams of Power villain float, which will be sorely missed in the new parade.

It won’t be until Saturday, 31st March that we see Disney Magic on Parade! officially premiere at the special time of 3pm. On 1st April, the first advertised performance date, this reverts to 5pm for the rest of the 20th Anniversary year. DLRP Today will be there to cover both dates, so look out for more reports and our new HD videos next week. But for now, what are your first impressions?

MORE PHOTOS NewsDLRP.com

Tuesday, 27th March 2012

Disney’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Train bursts onto parade route for soft openings

Have your sunglasses at the ready, folks! No, not for the glorious weather we’re enjoying in this corner of Europe, but for the first “soft opening” arrivals of Disney’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Train, which began at 11.30am today and continue all week. And there it is — in all its day-glo splendour. If you can believe it, it’s even brighter than the publicity image. The whole train has been resprayed from pistons to chimney in a complete rainbow of colours. This was not a moment of artistic restraint.

On-board, the characters wear their new 20th Anniversary costumes, inspired by Mickey’s classic Sorcerer’s Apprentice guise but coloured with more wild, day-glo shades. Chip, Dale and their female friend Clarice led the first wagon, followed by Minnie, Donald and Daisy in the middle, then Goofy and Pluto bringing up the rear. New additions to the design of the train include a ’20” on each wagon and Tinker Bell atop the chimney, guiding the train.

Disney's 20th Anniversary Celebration Train (C) @InsideDLParisDisney's 20th Anniversary Celebration Train (C) @InsideDLParis

The train was quickly described as “garish” on forums, and that could be perfectly accurate. But you know what — and perhaps not setting the bar high here — it might actually be the best revision of this event to date, since the original Disney Characters’ Express. While that started out with a fairly classy blue, white and gold train, it was modified here and there in subsequent years to become a real mish-mash of a design with little artistic direction nor anything that really tied it together.

At least this year the train has been stripped back and completely resprayed, giving a uniform look to the whole event. This is helped by restricting the invite list to only the “VIP” characters, wearing new costumes which actually match the colours of the train, rather than their clashing everyday gear. And, rather than continuing to remix “Tous en Train” to infinity, we’ve got a whole new song in “Do You Believe” (which you can listen to here). The whole vision is such a spectacularly jarring contrast with the quaint cobblestones of Main Street, U.S.A. that maybe it just works.

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Sunday, 25th March 2012

Giant ’20’ completes Main Street Station transformation as lights twinkle to life

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay

Tinker Bell — and a very bold ’20’ — have arrived at Main Street Station to complete its 20th Anniversary look for the Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! overlay. And with Tink’s added pixie dust, the whole thing has suddenly sparkled to life. Looking good!

The three special golden arches were installed at the front of the station late last week, featuring a swirling pattern and more embedded LED lights. The original “EDLRR” arches, with a rather more convincing late 19th Century look, thankfully remain beyond, simply repainted gold. Standalone stars, also embedded with LEDs, have been delicately scattered across the façade and railings above. The paint job of the entire façade appears fresh and clean in these photos by @InsideDLParis.

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlayMain Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay

For added effect, the castle silhouette on the four golden plaques is illuminated from behind to create a glow around the icon itself. Less successful, if we can pass one criticism, are the well-integrated but rather dull golden swirls which have replaced the four “EDLRR” roundels on the railings. Were they really necessary to complete the look? An overlay should be exactly that: it should never remove nice details, not unless the replacement can match the quality.

As for the gold paintwork, the wall extending out from the two furthest pillars (pictured in the first photo at the top) appears to be missing gold paint on top, creating an odd mix. Nevertheless, with the original “test pillar” over on the far left of the station now back to its original stone colour, the golden repaint has probably not turned out as dramatic as some expected (or feared).

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay

Only needed now to complete the transformation is the sparkling glow of Tinker Bell’s pixie dust trail, which circles around the giant ’20’. Small dots can be seen all along its length, which will presumably be lit to give an effect similar to that used for the 15th Anniversary‘s Tinker Bell statue atop Sleeping Beauty Castle. Hopefully this one won’t outstay its welcome quite the same.

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Saturday, 24th March 2012

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

'Disney Dreams!' official promo photo

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

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

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

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

PHOTO VIA Le Figaro

Saturday, 24th March 2012

Main Street Paris imports California’s new music loop featuring “Up”, “Hello Dolly”

Main Street, U.S.A.

Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Paris won’t just look a little different for its 20th Anniversary year, it’ll sound different too. A new background music loop is now playing during daytime, swiftly imported from Disneyland in California. Introduced at Walt’s original kingdom on 9th January this year, the new loop was noted not just for its fresh new recordings of many Main Street ragtime “classics”, but the addition of brand new music, including a suite of music from Disney-Pixar’s Up. All were newly recorded especially for the park by Dean Mora and his Orchestra.

The changeover suffered a flaky start on Wednesday, when the new music reportedly played through until 4pm followed by a long silence, returned for five minutes, then faded out for the regular afternoon loop. Disneyland Paris will thankfully retain its unique feature over the other parks of having two background music loops on Main Street, a lively “AM” loop played from opening to 4pm, and a gentler, more sentimental “PM” loop played from 4pm to park closing. This new loop replaces the former “AM” loop only, and is perhaps somewhat calmer than that frenzied mix. As well as the new suite of “Married Life” from Up by Michael Giacchino, it introduces “Put on Your Sunday Clothes”, that famous “Hello Dolly!” song memorably used in Disney-Pixar’s WALL-E, to Paris’ Main Street loop.

Upon announcing the new loop for California, the Disney Parks Blog noted that this was the first time the famous street’s music had changed in 20 years — the last time being when, shortly after the opening of Disneyland Paris, new recordings made for our park were brought over to Anaheim to update their soundtrack. It seems fitting, then, that in the 20th Anniversary year, a new music loop should cross back over the Atlantic; a birthday gift from one Magic Kingdom to another.

Listen to a live recording of the loop and find a full tracklisting below… Read More…

Friday, 23rd March 2012

Tony Baxter Imagineering Masterclass leads confirmed April 12th events programme

Tony Baxter, 1992 (C) Disney

Planning to celebrate the exact date of Disneyland Paris’ 20th Anniversary, on 12th April 2012? You’re not the only one. We’ve now had it confirmed that Tony Baxter will be present at the park, in person, on the heralded date. Senior Vice President of Creative Development at Walt Disney Imagineering and the original lead creative force behind Disneyland Paris, the legendary Imagineer will answer questions and talk about the history of the park during a special “Imagineering Masterclass” at Videopolis Theatre from 10.45am to 11.45am. Places are open to all but strictly limited to the size of the venue.

Given his legendary status amongst Disneyland Paris fans, having led the overall design of the park and its five key show producers — Eddie Sotto (Main Street, U.S.A.), Jeff Burke (Frontierland), Chris Tietz (Adventureland), Tom Morris (Fantasyland) and Tim Delaney (Discoveryland), it looks set to be an unmissable hour. After the presentation, which will include a Q&A for fans to put their own questions to Tony, video screens inside Videopolis will continue to play archive footage from the resort’s history throughout the day.

Also scheduled for the grand date is a special morning event held by Philippe Gas. The company CEO himself will welcome guests to the park with a personal ceremony on Town Square at 9.30am, to be followed by a much-rumoured — and now officially announced — Cast Member “flashmob”.

The exact details of this moment of music and dance remain a secret, but Cast Members have voluntarily signed up to give their time for the occasion. Park gates will open at 9.00am to allow guests into Town Square, in advance of the ceremony, with the park itself officially opening at 10am. Extra Magic Hours on this date will be held instead at Walt Disney Studios Park — but you’re not going to trade a one-off date in history for a shorter queue at Crush’s Coaster, are you?

Character fans should look out for special one-off happenings and surprises all around the park throughout the day, including appearances from some of the more rarely seen Disney characters. All of these events and times will be listed in a special edition of the park Programme.

For collectors, besides special editions of the free Park Guide leaflets which will only be available on April 12th, there will even be dated merchandise. On sale in strictly limited quantities, a “golden key” pin and both a male and female T-shirt design, pictured above, all with the 12th April 2012 date.

Those who took a gamble and booked trips to coincide with the date, having no guarantee that it would even be commemorated, have certainly been duly rewarded. And for those who hesitated, this surprising programme of events may well be more than enough to encourage a last-minute trip. But given the very late nature of this announcement, it could now be difficult — and perhaps expensive — for those who can’t easily jump on the next RER train to experience the date for themselves at just three weeks’ notice, especially as it falls within the busy Easter holiday period.

Do you plan to be there to mark the date, and experience these events for yourself?

Friday, 23rd March 2012

Woody’s Roundup no more as Meet Mickey makes temporary Cottonwood Creek home

Mickey Mouse’s new home at Fantasy Festival Stage won’t be finished quite in time for the 20th Anniversary launch, we know that much for sure. But until the vague Spring 2012 opening date of his new magician-themed meet ‘n’ greet (or 17th May 2012 if you believe the rumours), the mouse will still find himself a temporary Meet Mickey Mouse location over in Frontierland.

Work has now started at the former Woody’s Roundup Village in the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area of the land, most recently used for the St David’s Day and St Patrick’s Day celebrations, to create an intermediate version of the attraction. Although, that “work” so far mainly consists of cordoning off the entrances to the old Critter Corral area with what @InsideDLParis rightly captions these photos as “red and white caution tape that should never be used in a Disney Park”. Beautiful!

The original “Woody’s Roundup” signage and photo locations have now been entirely removed from the area (most taken away before Halloween/Christmas), to make it a more generic character spot, perhaps a rare example of Pixar characters being removed from a land.

Heavier construction work continues in Fantasyland, meanwhile, with latest visible progress from outside the theatre showing walls going up around each of the bay windows. These were previously spaces at the back of the theatre’s seating which could be opened up in warmer summer weather. Now, the window on the right will form the attraction’s entrance while that on the left will be used as the exit and part of the photo sales counter.

Meet Mickey Mouse construction (C) @InsideDLParis

More rich red gloss paint has also been applied to the façade, which has lost its Fantasy Festival Stage signage. As for the inside, we can reveal that the layout will largely stay true to its theatre origins. Guests will queue back and forth roughly along the former rows of seating, with the centrepiece being the stage itself, where a projection screen will be installed.

Following the queue line up into the theatre’s real backstage area, they will enter a vestibule area before finally encountering Magician Mickey Mouse himself, in his backstage dressing room, littered with props similar to those seen in his Florida meet ‘n’ greet. Exit will be via the left-hand side of the theatre, past the souvenir photo wall and sales area in the left bay. Numerous other details, accessories and “animated posters” will complete the attraction.

We can also confirm that “Magician” Mickey here really will employ some special magic tricks, allowing him to shorten the queue time by as much as two or three times, depending on attendance…

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Friday, 23rd March 2012

Mark Twain Riverboat sans chimney stacks, ready and waiting for refurbishment

Mark Twain Riverboat refurbishment (C) @InsideDLParis

Ever since we stepped off the near-complete, beautifully restored Molly Brown exactly a year ago and the Mark Twain pulled up in her place to continue regular service, this grand old riverboat has sadly looked more than a little worse for wear by comparison. Need for restoration isn’t quite so drastic, though, that his chimney stacks fell off, of course — the Mark Twain is merely preparing himself to bed down inside Frontierland’s new, covered drydock which we reported last week.

The roof of that hangar-like wharf, while imposing enough next to Old Joe’s fishing pier, is certainly not high enough to accommodate the Mark Twain with his famous twin funnels intact. From here, he reversed around the Rivers of the Far West and back into the refurbishment dock. Molly Brown will resume service from this Saturday 24th March, the first to enjoy the freshly-relaid landing pier and fully repainted Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing itself.

Mark Twain’s refurbishment is due to be just as thorough — and lengthy — as Molly Brown’s epic year-long rebuild. Damage and decay to the boat, though nowhere near as bad as his sister ship endured, is clear in the photo above. Though the ship, a reproduction of the original Mark Twain Riverboat at Disneyland in California, has seen numerous refurbishments over its lifespan, this will be the first full-scale restoration in its 20 year life so far.

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Thursday, 22nd March 2012

Main Street Station 20th transformation continues as leaked concept reveals final plan

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay (C) DisneyGazette.fr

Main Street Station‘s new marquee, which appeared yesterday, really is the final product and will be in place for a least a year, through the whole 20th Anniversary celebrations. But it’s also only the start of the station façade’s transformation into a glittering, golden entrance to the park. Today, the changes continued at pace with the addition of golden plaques on each of the freshly-painted golden columns and static golden bunting across the top of its windows.

The bunting is fixed in place by buttons decorated with stars, and the whole lot will sparkle with LED lights thanks to those wires currently tied up at each side.

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay (C) @InsideDLParis

Featuring the original 1992 silhouette of Sleeping Beauty Castle, which was once a part of the Euro Disney logo and branding, the plaques on the columns down below are a nice throwback to the park’s history. But they have a modern twist: more embedded LED lights!

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay (C) @InsideDLParisMain Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay (C) @InsideDLParis

Less technically advanced is the method for making the trees inside Main Street, U.S.A. itself sparkle: circular hanging mirror discs, strewn across their branches. Currently looking a little cheap, they’ll hopefully work better when leaves begin to grow and they catch the glint of the springtime sun.

Back on the station, and as well as these additions there are also quite a few things missing. Besides the original red marquee, four of the “EDLRR” roundels have been taken away and, as of today, the three iron arches at the front of the concourse. It appears that simply repainting these gold won’t be enough: the arches here will be replaced by a whole new design, incorporating a swirling star pattern. The station’s final appearance after all these changes was revealed in a leaked concept art today:

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay concept art

In the context of that giant “20”, the plain “Disneyland Paris” on the main marquee (rather than any reference to Main Street) perhaps makes a little more sense, simplifying the introduction. The star designs replacing the “ELDRR” symbols are disappointing, however, and the swirly arches, replacing the refined originals, give a nightmarish vision of what if Disney dropped immersive, relatable worlds like Main Street in its parks and instead covered everything with generic pixie dust patterns.

But the enormous, three-dimensional “20” makes a grand welcome and the entire vision is far and away the best transformation of Main Street Station we’ve ever seen. That’s not much of a compliment, given some of the travesties it has seen in its 20 years, so let’s say instead that, for a temporary overlay, it looks really quite delightful indeed.

PHOTO 1 DisneyGazette, PHOTOS 2-4 @InsideDLParis (Twitter), CONCEPT RadioDisneyClub

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