Besides spots of Central Plaza being quietly torn up for thatnighttime spectacular, the impending 20th Anniversary isn’t quite bringing us the fever of construction we might have hoped for in the parks. Nevertheless, there is one new attraction on which construction has been ongoing for a couple of months already: the Magician Mickey meet ‘n’ greet we revealed back in July. To be based at Fantasy Festival Stage, the indoor theatre below the railroad station at the back of Fantasyland, work for the permanent meet ‘n’ greet location has already seen the old seating removed inside. Now, construction walls have surrounded the entire building, including a sizeable area at the front entrance.
With a similarly lavish style of the Princess Pavilion which opened last month, Mickey’s new dedicated home in the park will take much of the inspiration from the “Backstage Magic with Mickey Mouse” meet ‘n’ greet at Town Square Theatre in Magic Kingdom, Florida. One of the big selling points of that location is that, for the first time, guests can pick up a Fastpass time slot to meet the mouse, saving the kind of 120-minute queues normally associated with popular characters. Though the attractions will be closely related, there’s no word on that same service being available in Paris just yet.
For an experience like a character meet ‘n’ greet, couldn’t it even make sense for the whole operation to the Fastpass-based, with everyone required to pick up a ticket? What do you think?
It was another round of bad publicity for Frontierland‘s biggest attraction on 27th October when one of the trains at Big Thunder Mountain suffered a minor derailment, but luckily this turned out to be a blink-and-you-miss-it blip for the ride. On the evening of Thursday 27th October, a coach near the back of one train derailed before the second lift hill in the middle of the ride, causing it to lift off the rails on a straight piece of track. Travelling at “low speed”, according to reports, there were thankfully no officially recorded injuries and all guests we safely evacuated from the island.
The attraction closed immediately, as pictured in the photo from 28th October above, but ultimately only remained shuttered for three full days. It reopened on Monday 31st October, just in time for the sold-out Disney’s Halloween Party that evening, having been deemed safe to resume service after all the necessary checks and verifications. Visitors such as member sfr31 on Disney Central Plaza have remarked that the ride was nevertheless operating at reduced capacity, with long queue lines and only three trains in operation. Reports of the incident — from its possible causes to the coaches which derailed and even the exact location of the derailment — have been contradictory to say the least, though a photo of the train has now appeared on the website of a South of France news service.
This incident clearly has no connection to that at the ride in April earlier this year, when a piece of fibreglass scenery fell and injured a guest, but no doubt its Cast Members will be hoping the “wildest ride in the wilderness” stays out of the headlines for the foreseeable future.
We’ve waited five years for a new attraction at Disneyland Park, the first since the opening of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast in 2006, and here it is: a princess meet ‘n’ greet. Nevertheless, the brand new Princess Pavilion was given proper opening day treatment this Saturday as Régis Alart and Osvaldo del Mistero, Disneyland Paris Ambassadors, joined the Disney Princesses for a special inauguration ceremony. Fresh from their stint as Thunder Mesa town officials for the re-inauguration of Molly Brown earlier this year, the ambassadors proved themselves game once again by donning gold-stitched outfits perfectly befitting the kingdom of Fantasyland — even the tights!
Introduced as ambassadors for the royal court of Fantasyland, the ambassadors led the ceremony entirely in French but eschewed the usual black-suited ribbon cutting by introducing four of the princesses — Snow White, Aurora, Cinderella and Tiana — one by one, to a series of fitting musical cues. All the while, as this medieval pomp was going on, fans were right back in 2011 by tweeting out live pictures, like those from @PhotosMagiques here. Finally, two young princesses selected from the crowd helped to pull the cover from a “Princess Pavilion” sign as the attraction was declared officially open. And, within an hour, attracted a 120 minute wait time.
The inside is practically unrecognisable from its time as the post-show room at the exit of “it’s a small world”. Stone walls, ornate carved columns and cornicing, eight beautiful backlit stained glass windows and eight crystal artefacts representing each princess line the queue. The lighting is subtle yet certainly high-tech: the torches on the walls (perhaps new LEDs?) dance in a realistic flicker, the artefacts are lit by fibre optics and change colour. Particularly stunning is the flower for Rapunzel, who rightly won the eighth spot over Mulan, which bursts into golden light from within just as in the film. A long wait it may have, but at least guests are now warm, inside and surrounded by top-quality Disney design work.
If this is how Disneyland Park does a meet ‘n’ greet, we can’t wait until it gets a real new attraction.
Video of the grand opening and a walk through the queue line follows…Read More…
Is Disneyland Paris beginning to wind down its Captain EO encore? A quick look at the latest Closure & Refurbishment dates for the parks now shows the Discoveryland attraction marked as closed on weekdays for the first three weeks of October: 3rd to 7th, 10th to 14th and 17th to 21st. Those infamous yellow 3-D glasses were also kept out of guests’ hands last week, when EO closed from Monday 19th to Friday 23rd September, suggesting that — rather than simple refurbishment as first expected — a new “peak days only” operating programme could be coming into force.
Michael Jackson and George Lucas fans have already had to contend with some very limited hours for the 3-D theatre show this year, with the first performance of the day held back until 11am and a closing time set far short of the rest of the park at around 5 or 6pm. The return has always been on an indefinite run, but if you’re a particular fan of this “rag-tag band lead by the infamous Captain EO”, you might want to catch an encore next time you can, just in case.
Captain EO returned to all its original locations at Disneyland in California, Epcot in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Park in Paris last year. Though originally confirmed as “not returning” in the Backstage magazine for Cast Members, it ended up reopening in Paris a month ahead of the other international parks on 12th June 2010. This was still some way behind the February opening of the “Tribute” show in California, and though the relaunch garnered some initial publicity it is clear there has been only muted excitement for Jackson’s return to Disneyland Paris among regular guests. With no replacement yet in sight for the other parks, Discoveryland faces having a high-capacity theatre shuttered for much of the time — all the while, right next door to an out-of-date Star Tours.
Halloween 2011 Preview — Something strange has come over Disneyland Paris. As we approach the launch of Disney’s Halloween Festival this Saturday, you’ll see not a hastily-crafted static Pumpkinman in sight. Instead, the decorations are new, the pumpkins have ears and Castle Stage… has come back to life. At last this season appears to be heading in the right direction. After years trailing around misguided creations such as the Pumpkinmen, Pink Witches and Stitch, Paris — the Disney resort which pioneered the Halloween season in 1997 (before trashing it all with orange paint in 2003) — has now looked to Disneyland in California for inspiration. This year, we’re seeing brand new decorations lifted directly from the Anaheim park’s popular HalloweenTime. High quality, considerately-designed and most importantly more “Disney” in their execution as well as their style, they should go a long way to giving Disneyland Paris guests the Halloween they expect from the park.
For fans, it’s a double surprise. As well as a park plussed rather than spoilt by the season, the majority of those new decorations have so far arrived at Le Théâtre du Château, which will be coming back to life to host the new Mickey’s Halloween Treat in the Street event. Vines wrap their way around the bronze columns, pumpkins top the towers and a giant Mickey-shaped pumpkin head (similar to that on Town Square in California) is the centrepiece. The mini-show will feature the full line-up of Mickey and friends in special costumes and dialogue in both French and English. After highlighting several times this year what a wasted opportunity the stage is, it’s a delight to see it fully decorated and back in use.
Plans for Main Street, U.S.A. seem a little lower spec, with just colour-coordinated flower beds, Mickey-eared pumpkins and a spot of bunting on the concept we’ve seen, but it’s still a step up from last year’s near complete lack of Halloween decoration on the street. Hopefully now that Disneyland Paris has finally found the right path for its Halloween decorations, Main Street will gradually begin to match the warm and vibrant Harvest “Pumpkin Festival” theme seen in California (below).
Meanwhile, one old decision hangs on, for a little while longer at least: Central Plaza Stage. That behemoth will at least be hosting a big new show, titled Disney’s Maleficious Halloween Party, which amongst other surprises is said to see Snow White’s Evil Queen transform into a Witch, courtesy of the stage lifts, and Dr Facilier from The Princess and the Frog return to the park.
Rumour suggests Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade won’t feature its usual Halloween pre-parade this year, although Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas will be making a return for meet ‘n’ greets, despite not being mentioned in any publicity. It remains to be seen if Halloweenland will return to Frontierland in any form. In truth, the land has felt more like a boneyard for discarded decorations rather than a proper overlay for the past few years, anyway. A cleaning out of the junk and a shot in the arm in quality is exactly what the festival needed.
It’s official: the Disney Princesses’ new home in Fantasyland will open its doors to guests on Saturday 8th October 2011. The date will be marked with a special inauguration by Disneyland Paris Ambassadors Régis Alart and Osvaldo del Mistero, with the Princess Pavilion open to the public from 10.30am. If you’re visiting before then and still want to get a look, you might be in luck: several sources suggest Soft Openings will be held from next weekend, specifically from Friday 30th September. These unscheduled openings in the run up to the official inauguration will be used to fully test all aspects of the new permanent meet ‘n’ greet location. As with all Soft Openings, the attraction could close at any time and may not be open every day. If in doubt, ask a Cast Member nearby or at City Hall.
Construction progress has continued apace at the new meet ‘n’ greet attraction. Two new lamps were installed either side of the building’s new “brooche” signage to complete the entrance marquee, and more surprising details have been spotted all over. From crowns moulded into the cornicing to gold leaf being applied to the static metal flags atop its roof…
Above, DJROM36 from Disney Central Plaza forum even captured a glimpse inside the attraction’s exit area, showing some quite extravagant wooden panel decoration for the new souvenir photo desk. The counter appears to be split into two arches, with even the photo preview screen given a decorative wooden surround. It’s questionable how well this medieval style fits in here, as it leads guests directly out into the international World’s Fair area of “it’s a small world”, but the new pavilion certainly feels right up to the same high quality of the original land so far.
Never trust a pirate, eh. For months it has seemed a sure-fire certainty: Jack Sparrow audio animatronics to finally join Pirates of the Caribbean for 20th Anniversary! But now it looks like the big Pirates of the Caribbean refurbishment planned for early next year has been curtailed and the addition of Jack Sparrow animatronics cancelled — at least for 2012. According to several sources on the French Disney Central Plaza forum, including La Rouquine, the originally planned closure of 3 months early next year to account for the changes has now been cut back to just 2 weeks. Moderator Dash adds that he learnt last week the new additions were cancelled again due to budgetary reasons.
The movie overlay, which was given to the US versions as long ago as 2006, was never publicly announced by Disneyland Paris, only confirmed internally, so we should note that for us the resort is not technically “cancelling” anything. It was first strongly rumoured for the Paris version of the attraction during the 15th Anniversary, before again appearing to be on the cards for the New Generation Festival in 2010, and then again for the current Magical Moments Festival to tie in with the fourth film, “On Stranger Tides”. This year’s 20th Anniversary plans were the closest the make-over — which could include up to three Jack Sparrow audio-animatronics, Barbossa as captain of the marauding ship, a Davy Jones mist-screen projection and other technical upgrades — ever got to reality.
While Pirates purists might raise a bottle of rum to the news that the Disneyland Paris version of the attraction will remain (for at least a little while longer) in its own world, untouched by the movies’ characters, consider what you’re drinking up to, me ‘hearties. Is the cancellation of a three-month spruce-up for this 20-year old masterpiece really a good thing? Couldn’t it stand to benefit from new technology, from improved lighting, effects and music? A robotic Johnny Depp might be a price to pay for that, but it’s probably the only (marketable) way such an upgrade would happen right now.
However, continuing the annual almost-but-not-quite game, DynastyGo reports the refurbishment is not cancelled but simply postponed, to the next financial year. But what do you think — has Disneyland Paris already missed its “opportune moment” to capitalise on the success of Captain Jack?
Fantasia Gelati is the latest to be added to the long list of 2011 refurbishments. The Carte D’Or ice cream location in Fantasyland has already had its three cone-shaped roofs cleaned and repainted this month; now scaffolding has risen around its gently leaning tower for a much, much needed refurbishment.
Though some work was done to the façade’s front walls during a closure in February, the rooftops on this corner of Fantasyland’s Italian area have been a pretty disgusting maintenance blackspot for several years, as seen in the photos from 2010 below. Located opposite “it’s a small world” and facing away from the sun for much of the day, sightlines aren’t always naturally drawn to this pastel-coloured gelateria. You never know, the return to a more appetising condition might even sell more ice cream.
So maybe we will get to live like the Swiss Family Robinson again this year after all. Disneyland Paris sent out a tweet from its official Twitter accounts yesterday stating that the mysterious treehouse closure is merely a “refurbishment” and that they expect it to reopen in December. The message read:
“To answer many of you, La Cabane des Robinson is actually closed for refurbishment. We expect it to be reopened in december.”
Household scenes throughout the tree were repaired and redressed in 2009 with fresh props and a concerted effort has been maintained since to keep things looking tidy, but the attraction has long required a more dramatic overhaul to bring it back to the full glory of its intended design. Beyond replacing roof thatching and repairing the wooden walkways, there are the hundreds of faux vinyl leaves which have fallen to the ground over the years, leaving gaps and removing colour from what should be a luscious, vibrant “Disneyodendron semperflorens grandis”. And then there’s that fascinating irrigation system: a network of channels, pulleys and buckets which is supposed to lift water out of the bubbling brook on which the tree has grown and up into its branches for the shipwrecked inhabitants. Needless to say, it hasn’t for many years. No wonder some people don’t see the wonder in this tree.
The treehouse has felt deserted by maintenance budgets for years. It’s about time the Swiss Family Robinson were given the money to move back in.
Another big week for Fantasyland’s new Princess Pavilion has come to an end with the detail we’ve been waiting for: a name. The marketeers may have spoken of the nauseating “Disney Princesses: A Royal Invitation” as part of the Magical Moments Festival but luckily the Imagineers (and good sense) prevailed, with the final name being exactly the short and sharp bit of classic Disney park alliteration we’ve known the project by all along: Princess Pavilion! The main piece of the new attraction marquee was installed late this afternoon — just like the concept art, a gently bevelled oval with customary swirly font, surrounded by metallic gold detailing and topped with a whimsical crown motif. Two extra pieces of the ornate frame are still to be added either side of the oval nameplate.
Though some very pretty new lights have been installed between the doors, the sign appears to be backlit from within. This is similar to the signage at Fantasy Festival Stage and the land’s Disneyland Railroad Station, especially with the identical shapes, but seemingly at odds with the rest of Fantasyland, where most signage is lit by external spotlights for a greater degree of “olde-worlde” charm. Might this new marquee, intended to look like an enlarged brooch, be just a little too “blingy”?
Workers have made more progress with the addition of five golden flags atop the newly-finished blue rooftops. Perhaps this flourish will help the rather castle-like new pavilion to blend more with the “it’s a small world” area it impinges on, which features similar golden details on all its lampposts and right along its façade of famous landmarks. As noted by reader DGR in a previous comment, the roof tiles are somewhat irregularly-placed to perhaps fit with this being near the “rural” area of the land.
Finally, it’s not just the entrance seeing work: with no mountains to divide them, a new railing has been installed (or rather abruptly bolted into the ground) to separate the meet ‘n’ greet’s way out from that of “it’s a small world”; these two attractions now firmly close neighbours.
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