Thursday, 22nd March 2012

2012 or ’92? New Central Plaza in sunshine resets the clock on timeless view

Central Plaza and Sleeping Beauty Castle (C) Nicolas71

Since Monday, guests have been able to walk right across Central Plaza for the first time since 2006. But these photos, taken Tuesday by Nicholas71 on Disney Central Plaza, almost seem to reset the clock even further. Be it the wide, open plaza, the fresh green grass, the newly-restored Sleeping Beauty Castle or the recent tree clearance over on the Fantasyland side of this famous view, it almost looks like we’re stepping into the park for the very first time again. Truly a vast improvement on the closed gates and obstructive stage guests have had to navigate around for too many years.

On Central Plaza itself, benches have returned to the middle of the plaza for the first time in almost six years, making it once again the perfect place for meeting and people watching. Meanwhile, two lampposts on the castle side are now curiously absent, their bases covered by green boxes.

They’re not the only things missing from this view: tree clearance over by the Fantasyland Gate (far-right of the photo) has uncovered the walled kingdom in the distance, while at least two cuboid trees have been completely removed from the right-hand side of the castle. Both changes could either be in preparation for Disney Dreams!, or just part of the habitual “resetting the clock” which Disney does; replanting or removing trees which have grown too big for the fixed scale of the park.

Central Plaza and Sleeping Beauty Castle (C) Nicolas71

Looking back towards Main Street, U.S.A., the new “Parks Landscaping Department” show control building for Disney Dreams! blends seamlessly into the town. The old show control kiosk, on the left of the plaza, remains in place for now. As for the plaza, the improvement speaks for itself.

PHOTOS Nicholas71 (Disney Central Plaza)

Wednesday, 21st March 2012

Main Street Station’s golden 20th Anniversary overlay introduces new entrance marquee

Main Street Station celebrates (C) RadioDisneyClub

How many guests stepping inside Disneyland Park today noticed this change, then? As the ongoing Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! overlay of the eponymous street continues with daily progress, golden bunting now covering the majority of the street, here’s something to stop you in your tracks: a new sign on Main Street Station. In the place of the original, maroon sign this morning was this cream-coloured marquee. A temporary change while the regular signage is refurbished or altered, or a brand new addition? The rate things are changing, perhaps we should wait until tomorrow to see.

The new marquee’s all-over cream design takes some getting used-to compared to the more fanciful, bolder original sign. And then there’s the nomenclature: for now, just “Disneyland Paris”. Guests have already just walked under a “Disneyland Park” marquee on the other side of Disneyland Hotel, so by this point they should really be heading into Main Street, U.S.A., not reminded of the resort’s title. The regular sign had the compromise of “Main Street, U.S.A. – Disneyland Paris”, in place since 1994.

Main Street Station celebrates (C) RadioDisneyClubOriginal Main Street Station marquee

Also an oddity is the illustration of the castle which replaces the “EDLRR” symbol on the bib at the top of the sign. Pretty enough, surrounded by a burst of stars but, as you can see in the close-up provided by RadioDisneyClub here, it has been mirrored to face the wrong way round — though this certainly isn’t the first time in its life it has been altered to appear as such.

Main Street Station celebrates (C) RadioDisneyClubMain Street Station celebrates (C) RadioDisneyClub

The controversial repainting itself took a major step forward yesterday when guests arrived to find the four centre columns at the front of the station painted in alarming yellow undercoat. Today, the columns had already received a coat of gold paint on top, though the tone is much darker, closer to red or orange, than the gold used elsewhere in the street’s overlay. One whole series of five iron brackets underneath the station’s concourse have now received their golden paintwork, in a much more pleasing tone similar to the existing gold elements of the “EDLRR” symbols.

Golden bunting continues to manifest itself all around the street, including here on Main Street Station. Meanwhile a rather different — rather intriguing — form of bunting was spotted by @InsideDLParis running along the railings at the front of the station…

Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! (C) @InsideDLParisMain Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! (C) @InsideDLParis
Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! (C) @InsideDLParis

This metal cable-run, painted the same green as the railings, is expected to be used for the finishing touch of the station’s overlay: a glittering display of golden lights!

PHOTOS 1-2, 4-5 RadioDisneyClub, 6-8 @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Wednesday, 21st March 2012

‘Disney Dreams!’ Second Star to the Right spotted shining brightly for first time

 'Disney Dreams!' Second Star to the Right (C) @Tobiasfl

There have been several reported sightings, but now the all-important Second Star the Right for Disney Dreams! has finally been caught on camera. Late last night, @Tobiasfl observed the ethereal glow from across the fields in Val d’Europe, shining with a spectacular brightness from the top window of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Two Instagram photos below show it first piercing the nighttime sky alone, then joined by the full force of the new nighttime spectacular’s illuminated fountains.

'Disney Dreams!' Second Star to the Right (C) @Tobiasfl'Disney Dreams!' Second Star to the Right (C) @Tobiasfl

While sightings of tests for fireworks, projections, water effects and other elements have been coming thick and fast over recent weeks, the centrepiece star has been notable by its absence. Plans unveiled by Steve Davison at the presentation he gave to the shareholders’ Annual General Meeting revealed it to be not simply a bright light, hidden behind the window, but a three-dimensional star that would actually manoeuvre outwards. According to this plan, the iconic window was due to be replaced with a new variation capable of opening in the centre to allow the star to emerge.

'Disney Dreams!' Second Star to the Right (C) ChroniqueDisney.frSleeping Beauty Castle window (C) Disneyland Paris - Fans Facebook

The window has indeed seen several changes over recent weeks, requiring the temporary removal of its golden ornament, with the latest incarnation above. Previously a real stained-glass window with a protective layer on top, it now appears far flatter but more colourful. A faux stained glass effect, like the windows in the Princess Pavilion, no doubt — but is there an opening there for the star to reveal itself? The mysteries surrounding this mythical object of the nighttime sky continue…

With the star now shining at least, that completes the entire range of effects for Disney Dreams!, all installed and ready for showtime. Posting his most recent project update to Facebook on Saturday, creative director Steve Davison wrote: “Well, I’m almost done with another 6 day, work all night, programming week. The show is coming along great. All the systems are online (the fire system came on tonight) and what we’re seeing on the Castle is very, very exciting! We’re now in the final home stretch! Can’t wait for you all to see the final product.”

PHOTOS 1-2 @Tobiasfl (Twitter), PHOTO 3 Chronique Disney, PHOTO 4 DLP – Fans (Facebook)

Monday, 19th March 2012

Nautilus submarine lagoon dries up for final major refurbishment project before 20th

Sorry to spoil any illusions you may have bought into at Les Mystères du Nautilus but, as every visitor to Discoveryland can clearly see at the moment, Disneyland Park only really has half of this famous submarine within its Discoveryland Lagoon. That’s perhaps a lucky thing for the project team who have just embarked on a last-minute refurbishment of Captain Nemo’s vessel and its surrounding lagoon, the final major restoration project before the launch of the 20th Anniversary. With the water drained, they’ve only the jagged spine of the submarine to repaint in fresh metallic tones — but even that is impressive enough when you see the unusual sight of a person standing right next to it.

These latest photos from DisneyGazette.fr show how guests are being treated to a full view of the hard work that goes into maintaining the “magic”. A temporary staircase, allowing workers to climb over the railings and down into the lagoon, has been hidden behind hoardings but the rest of the area remains completely open. As well as the Nautilus itself, the stone walls of the lagoon are being repainted to return them to their intended rusty glow. The walkthrough itself remains open throughout — just to further spoil the magic, did you know that it’s actually located in a building on the other side of the path, behind Autopia?

Throughout the vast slate of 20th Anniversary refurbishments the hard metal and stone landscape of Discoveryland has required relatively little work, other than a complete dismantling and refurbishment of Orbitron – Machines Volantes which was completed last year.

MORE PHOTOS DisneyGazette.fr

Monday, 19th March 2012

Steve Davison shares first photos of completed, wall-free, stage-free Central Plaza!

It’s the dawn of a new day. Construction walls have finally come down in Central Plaza, revealing the finished repaving project across the hub of the park following the much-celebrated removal of the overbearing stage which had resided here since 2009. After seven weeks of work through freezing conditions into the milder days of early spring, the completed Central Plaza is now a vast expanse of smoothly-finished concrete pavement — no obstacles, no obstructions, just a perfect view of Sleeping Beauty Castle and of course, the impending Disney Dreams! nighttime spectacular.

In fact it was Steve Davison, the director of Disney Dreams!, who grabbed these very first photos of the plaza without construction walls at 6am this morning. Though we don’t entirely envy Team Dreams with their nocturnal work shifts, seeing dawn break over a wide, open Central Plaza is one well-deserved reward. Steve shared the first photo above with the comment: “WOW! What a wonderful view! No Wall! No Stage. Just a beautiful view of the Castle. Enjoy!” He followed this up with further praise for our castle and a clearer critique of the poorly-integrated stage: “It’s so much better without the stage. It blocked this amazing piece of architecture. WOW! What a castle!”

That certainly suggests we’re not the only ones happy to see that back of the enormous stage, which presented three consecutive shows of varying popularity. Beginning with It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends in 2009, it then saw the far superior Disney Showtime Spectacular in 2010, before whimpering to a close with Mickey’s Magical Celebration last year. Even before those shows, the plaza was taken up by a smaller stage for the 15th Anniversary Candleabration show in 2007 and 2008, and for the castle lighting show of the previous Christmas, meaning the plaza hasn’t been open for guests since as long ago as 2006.

Deciding not the reinstate the small circular flower bed in the middle of the hub was probably a wise idea for crowd control during Disney Dreams!, but does such an entirely bare Central Plaza make an ideal heart for the park? Couldn’t they have done something more interesting with the floor, or is it best to just let the castle take all the presence here? Whatever your opinion, you’ll no doubt at least agree with Steve Davison that the view opened up is “Simply beautiful!”. We have a lot to thank Team Dreams for. Longer park hours, a real, nightly nighttime spectacular, and now a Central Plaza back to how it should be. No stage, just a beautiful view of the castle.

VIA Steve Davison Fan Page (Facebook)

Tuesday, 13th March 2012

Reports: Captain EO to close definitively at Disneyland Paris on 2nd April 2012

This officially stands as unconfirmed information, but several sources, including one speaking directly to DLRP Today, have reported this evening that Captain EO will close once and for all at Disneyland Paris on 2nd April 2012. The final day of operation for the reborn Discoveryland 3-D cinema attraction will reportedly be Sunday, 1st April 2012 — ironically also the first day of the 20th Anniversary celebrations. News of the closure was apparently revealed to Cast Members at the attraction today, with no announcement of an imminent replacement.

Captain EO, a 1986 3-D film with special effects starring Michael Jackson, re-opened in its original locations at Epcot, Disneyland, Disneyland Park in Paris and Tokyo Disneyland throughout 2010 as a “tribute” to the musical star himself. It also provided a welcome stop-gap to replace the ageing Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, but its reopening was greeted more enthusiastically in some parts of the globe than others. Returning to Disneyland Paris on 12th June 2010, it enjoyed a welcome reception from a minority of fans but perhaps failed to ignite the interest of regular guests here as strongly as the American parks, where it had become much more a thing of pop culture legend.

A somewhat out-of-the-way location and a similarly dated neighbour in the original Star Tours, which remains in operation at Disneyland Paris, can’t have helped its success.

We noted last September that the attraction, already operating limited daily opening hours, was even beginning to remain closed completely on some quieter off-season days, as attendance clearly failed to meet requirements. Another potential factor in a closure could be the problems faced by its sponsor, Kodak, with Eastman Kodak Company having filed for bankruptcy in January, though the company remains an official partner and is ever-present at various other locations.

If the attraction’s Cast Members were hoping for a boost in attendance, they’ll now surely get it on the weekend of 1st April, when fans and Annual Passholders will descend on the resort for the premiere of Disney Dreams! and a grand, final farewell to Captain EO…

PHOTO Photos Magiques

Tuesday, 13th March 2012

Riverboat-boathouse springs up on Rivers of the Far West, ready for Mark Twain refit

Poor Old Joe: so engrossed there on his ramshackle pier, waiting for the catch of the day, that he’s failed to notice the towering extension put up by his Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing neighbours next door. In preparation for a sorely-needed complete rebuild of the Mark Twain, following that enjoyed by companion on the rivers Molly Brown last year, the entire drydock at the back of the Rivers of the Far West is in the process of being enclosed in a temporary hangar-like structure.

Apparently being built by the firm De Boer, specialist in such constructions, the enclosure is being covered by a themed scrim created by a graphic designer working for Disney. With fake timber walls and large loading bay doors, this “trompe-l’œil” boathouse deceives the eye as a wharf for cargo loading. Details in the design, though hard to see clearly from the opposite riverbank, include “Deliveries” written across the false door and a surprisingly detailed “Notice” of some kind. The large number “2” above the door is reminiscent of the engine shed for Big Thunder Mountain nearby.

By comparison, the year-long Molly Brown refurbishment saw the far from ideal situation that the boat was fully stripped down and rebuilt in full view of passing guests, with only a scant covering of scaffolding and tarpaulin for cover. It’s also possible that, by shrouding the entire drydock with a roof, refurbishment work could be carried out in all weather, with fewer delays.

Both boats are still parked up here at the back of the river, out of service, but Molly Brown will return to operation from 24th March when the attraction finally re-opens, having been closed for the whole of 2012 thus far. Besides the work ongoing here, the deck of the riverboat landing itself has been completely rebuilt with fresh wood. Once allowed back on-board for a cruise around the waters, we’ll be able to get a closer look at the detail of the new wharf.

Reports from those close to the project suggest that the “hangar” will stay in place for at least two years, so Old Joe had better get used to his temporary — but not so temporary — new neighbour.

PHOTO 1 @InsideDLParis (Twitter), PHOTOS 2-3 RadioDisneyClub

Tuesday, 13th March 2012

Second Star’s multi-coloured ‘Disney Dreams!’ galaxy revealed as projection tests continue

Is it just by chance that a number of Disneyland Paris fans appear to have booked into Disneyland Hotel this month, or has the flagship hotel at the gates of Disneyland Park suddenly seen a last-minute flurry of reservations, as fans stake out its park-view balconies with a hope of being the first to catch a glimpse of Disney Dreams! preparations? After the first look at the spectacular fountains over the weekend, the latest previews come from a Facebook page titled Disney WorldGlobe, which posted a short video taken from the hotel showing projection tests taking place on Sleeping Beauty Castle.

While the majority of this video simply shows a golden Mickey Mouse silhouette shape with pixie dust trailing around it, something remarkable does happen at about four seconds in, as the castle suddenly cycles through a number of different projection effects. The first and most stunning is captured in the screenshot above: what a appears to be a gorgeous, multi-coloured series of galaxies swirling across the castle, which has light emanating out from its top window, where the Second Star to the Right will ultimately appear, glittering, in physical form.

A few other fun effects appearing to involve that all-important star can also be glimpsed in the few seconds during which the projections switch over. Below left, it appears to cast a blue glow across the castle from above, highlighting its rooftops and casting other walls into shadow. Below right, an ethereal blue and green strobe radiates outwards from the top window.


Another, perhaps quite startling, effect appears to show the main window and archway of the castle engulfed by flames, above left. While a final effect, above right, creates a feeling of something rather more “Maleficent”, as the castle takes on the blue body, pink mouth and snarling yellow nostrils of a certain ferocious, animated dragon… perhaps?

Meanwhile, the multi-coloured prism theme of Disney Dreams! will be extended even to its laser effects, which are truly state-of-the-art, according to the latest update from Steve Davison himself:

“Lasers! Lasers! Everywhere. I love full color lasers! Now Paris Disneyland has the most current, brightest show lasers in the world! They are the newest generation. Look at all tha[t] color! Simply amazing. Plus, we have the world’s best programmer who also worked on WOC [World of Color]!”

So all eyes on April, to see “what the World of Color team did next…”

VIDEO STILLS Disney WorldGlobe

Sunday, 11th March 2012

First look: ‘Disney Dreams!’ fountains shoot into the sky, viewed from Disneyland Hotel

'Disney Dreams!' fountain tests seen from Disneyland Hotel [(C) Jérémy, DCP]

Disney Dreams! will have stunning projections, pyrotechnics, fire, a brand new orchestral score — the lot. But there’s no mistaking the most anticipated element of this 20th Anniversary spectacular: the fountains. And so the grand prize goes to Jérémy on Disney Central Plaza forum who, at 24 minutes past midnight, made Disneyland Paris history by posting the first clear photo of those 40-or-so main fountains shooting into the sky around Sleeping Beauty Castle. Taken from Disneyland Hotel, overlooking the park during nighttime testing, it’s the very first preview of what a Steve Davison fountain array looks like surrounding a Disney castle. Something you won’t see anywhere else in the world.

The height of the water erupting from those nondescript jets is incredible, easily as high as the main window at the top of the castle — and these aren’t even the most powerful jets. Twelve further nozzles, six on either side of the moat, will use a compressed air technique to intermittently blast water a good few metres more into the sky, apparently higher than the castle itself. And then we have to add the two enormous water screens on top, to complete the scene’s liquid special effects. The proximity to the castle is unusual and certainly dramatic, raising all kinds of questions — for example, what will happen to performances during high winds?

Lit here simply with a purple glow from below, the fountain array at this moment thankfully gives few spoilers for the actual show. It is simply an awe-inspiring glimpse of what’s to come.

PHOTO Jérémy (Disney Central Plaza)

Saturday, 10th March 2012

St David’s Welsh Festival underway with special day of music, costume and fireworks

Disney doesn’t have a Welsh dragon in its repertoire of characters, but Mushu is only too happy to get his face on the cover of today’s special programme for St David’s Welsh Festival, a three-day event happening at Disneyland Paris this weekend. Though the festival officially runs from the 9th to 11th this year, providing the perfect weekend package for visitors from Wales, the main day of events within Disneyland Park itself is today. The programme itself is similar to previous years, though with Meet Mickey Mouse seeing the end of Fantasy Festival Stage‘s days as an actual theatre, the traditional Welsh folk choir has been displaced to the somewhat less fitting Chaparral Theatre in Frontierland.

In fact, the whole Cottonwood Creek Ranch area has been overrun by green, red and white; now the base for face painting, the Waun Ddyfal Choir and meet ‘n’ greets with Mickey and Minnie in their very exclusive Welsh folk costumes, above; a real rarity for character spotters that you’ll only see here.


At 4.30pm, before the main Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, the traditional Welsh Festival pre-parade saw Mickey and Minnie travel down Main Street, U.S.A. in the bright red fire truck, decked out with Welsh flags, daffodils and leeks. In Disney Village, the avenue is filled with wooden market stalls selling all manner of Welsh crafts and merchandise. Then, as the park closes its gates at 10pm, the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle comes alive with the special firework display to mark the occasion… albeit over a week late — St David’s Day itself always falls on 1st March.

The event is somewhat of an oddity in the annual calendar of the resort; one of only three national holidays recognised by the parks, including St Patrick’s Day and the Bastille Day fireworks, yet nowhere near as globally recognised as either as those. Falling conveniently in early March, however, it no doubt helps to fill a gap in the year, drawing in coach trips and extra custom from Wales, providing something fresh before the new Disney year in Paris traditionally begins each April.

Last year, Disneyland in California held a similar series of events at its comparable Big Thunder Ranch under the Family Fun Weekends name, with some nice branding and design work that Disneyland Paris could do well to be inspired by for its own celebration days.

MORE PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Subscribe to the Magic!

Ad: Disneyland Paris up to 20% off all meals!

Tags & Archives

Twitter Updates

Ad: Disneyland Paris 30th Anniversary bookings now open!