Monday, 2nd May 2011

Stars ‘n’ Cars to lose its “petite surprise” stage number as parade stops refreshed

Disney's Stars 'n' Cars

They say no ideas at Disney ever go to waste and for Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars, the daily parade-come-show at Walt Disney Studios Park, that means a refreshed format reported to begin this summer will be a lot like a look at “what could have been”. Matthew Burggraeve (aka @InsideDLParis) tweeted on Friday that the parade would lose its “petite surprise” stage number and instead become a “parade with a meet ‘n’ greet showstop”. Before its Parisian debut in April 2009, the parade was due to become exactly that, before that idea was overtaken by one to pile all those individual show stops into one “mega show stop” on the arguably inadequate Place des Stars stage in Production Courtyard. This has often led to guests needing to arrive over half an hour (and perhaps up to one hour) in advance to find a spot on the front row for this performance, with the vast majority of guests behind them getting a poor view of the action in the cramped and untiered viewing space. If the event becomes a more standard parade, the amount of visitors able to feel part of the action will almost double as the route up through Backlot is brought back to life, for the first time since 2009’s High School Musical Party! show departed.

Meanwhile, Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade will reportedly see even more tweaks after the “interactive” show stops introduced for the Magical Moments Festival don’t appear to have been received too well. Changes apparently due early this month include “more dancing, less interaction and new music”, which might upset those hoping to hear the return of the “Just Like We Dreamed It” theme song written specifically for the parade in its show stops. In this case, you could have said way back in March: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Sunday, 1st May 2011

Turrets go blue, towers go missing, scrim comes down and falls loose their fungus – a Royal update!

Sleeping Beauty Castle restoration

Friday might have been a big day for royalty in the United Kingdom, but across the channel it’s been a big week for the royal palace of Marne-la-Vallée. The complete refurbishment of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant rolls on at impressive pace, now seeing the first bold blue turrets unveiled following brief spells capped in white primer “snow”. When Peggie Fariss told us during last month’s refurbishments presentation (which we will conclude writing up this week!) that the previously blue-green turrets would see their blue “brought out much more”, that wasn’t an understatement. The photo above by Chouket on Disney Central Plaza gives a good overview of the change, with a half-done blue turret up front contrasted with several older, greener rooftops behind. This proves that whilst it was an easy way to headline the new colour scheme as “returning to the 1992 look”, that’s not the full story. The colours of 2011 will certainly be much closer to 1992 than the second 1998 era now being concluded, but they are really a completely new scheme, a brave new third era for the landmark.

While some turrets have gone blue, two have gone completely missing. They didn’t hop on Eurotunnel for the Royal Wedding — they’re the two thinnest towers (decorated with snails) which are due to regain their original gold leaf colouring, and the easiest way to do that is to simply pop them off and do it at ground level somewhere backstage. At the same time, this very Saturday saw the unveiling of the castle’s tallest rooftop, looking simply stunning in its new solid blue with gold accents:

Sleeping Beauty Castle restoration Sleeping Beauty Castle restoration

The first photo above was tweeted by @InsideDLParis just last Wednesday 27th April, whilst the second is from Saturday 30th, showing the remarkable speed that the castle is being given its new colours. From a white primer base coat, the roof now already has its final solid blue and another two rooftops to the right have swiftly turned white to continue the transformation overnight. No doubt you notice another big change, too — the removal of the decorative scrim! The whole tarp covering the front of the castle was removed this week to reveal what looks to be a practically complete façade behind. Edges and details are now a crisper ivory white, whilst the stonework has a bluer palette, richer again than the drab grey it had become and contrasting perfectly with the castle’s five new shades of pink.

Whilst the tarp has been removed, the scaffolding stays in place for now. We were told at the presentation that finishing touches to paint colours would require work in clear daylight, to ensure the right look is achieved, as well as that scaffolding would begin to disappear “by June”. Perhaps this front section will be taken down imminently before that date, but it’s not a given.

Sleeping Beauty Castle restoration

Meanwhile, don’t think this restoration is all about turrets and towers — one popular landmark has just been given a much-deserved makeover. Nicknamed “Fungus Falls” for far too long, there’s not a spot of green dirt in sight at the castle’s thundering waterfall now, turned off and completely cleaned up with fresh paint! Take a particularly close look at those three stone columns between the railings in the foreground — the one nearest the camera hasn’t been repainted yet on one side, giving a good idea of this dramatic “before and after”. The entire project is set to be complete by the end of August.

VIA Chouket (DCP), @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Wednesday, 27th April 2011

Big Thunder Mountain won’t reopen until after planned May refurbishment, more incident detail

Big Thunder Mountain closed

Here’s the latest on Big Thunder Mountain following the incident on Monday which saw four guests injured and one taken to hospital. It now appears to be confirmed that the attraction won’t reopen before 27th May 2011 — that is, before the end of the already-planned refurbishment which had been pencilled in some time ago for 9th to 27th May 2011. This lengthy closure will primarily see the entire mountain (and this time, also the Rainbow Arch) repainted in its rich ochre colour, a task last completed almost five years ago in October 2006. This seems like an obvious and sensible outcome, to roll the closures into one, and the park is perhaps “lucky” with the timing of the incident (if you can use those words) that this is possible. Rumours circulating that the ride will be “closed for three months” should be disregarded at this point. The photo above, taken today by InsideDLParis on Twitter, shows green refurbishment walls now positioned in front of the entrance.

As for the incident itself, latest word is that the faux rock made of fibreglass didn’t fall directly onto a trainload of passengers but onto the track. It was then hit by the train as it passed, launching the debris which injured five of the 25 riders. As noted on Monday, four of those guests, from outside of France, returned to the park after being treated on the scene. The condition of a 38-year old Frenchman who was taken to hospital was clearly stated to not be life-threatening. Le Parisien reports his wife and two children were being accommodated again by Disneyland Paris on Tuesday night. A prosecution against Euro Disney Associés SCA has been opened for the man’s temporary incapacity for work following the injuries, and the Chessy police service continue to investigate. A spokesperson for the company has stated this is the first incident of its kind since the resort opened in 1992.

VIA @PhotosMagiques, @InsideDLParis (Twitter), Le Parisien

Monday, 25th April 2011

Incident: Decorative rock element falls on guests riding Big Thunder Mountain, injuries reported

Big Thunder Mountain incident

Big Thunder Mountain in Disneyland Park has been temporarily closed following an incident at around 2.50pm earlier today. An element of decorative rockwork is reported to have come loose, striking guests riding the Frontierland mine train roller coaster. Five injuries are now confirmed, including one guest “seriously” injured — a 38-year old man who was apparently struck on the head by the faux boulder, made of fibreglass and wood, and has been taken to Beaujon hospital in Clichy-sur-Seine (Hauts-de-Seine) with a head injury. Initial reports had suggested this was merely a precautionary measure and a spokesperson later appeared to downplay the seriousness of the injury in a statement given to the AFP, clearly stating it was not life-threatening. According to Le Parisien, his family will be accommodated and looked after by Disneyland Paris tonight and for any duration he may remain in hospital. The four other guests, with only minor injuries, were treated on the spot and returned to the park.

The prop rock is said to have fallen in the final lift hill scene (“Lift C”), where the train climbs amid a simulated rumbling earthquake as the faux rockwork creaks and moves overhead. As is procedure, the attraction remains closed until further notice pending a full investigation.

Update 26/04: Disneyland Paris has posted two official statements on Twitter, as follows:

Disney_ParisEN: Incident at BigThunderMountain: our thoughts are with the family of the guest injured while waiting further information about his condition. (9:05AM) The safety of our guests and cast members being our top priority, BTM remains closed until further notice as we investigate the incident. (9:06AM)

VIA TF1, Le Parisien, AFP

Saturday, 23rd April 2011

Italian firm Segafredo Zanetti replaces Nescafé as official Disneyland Paris coffee partner

Disneyland Paris Official Partners

Turn over the latest Guide to the Parks leaflet, updated for the Magical Moments Festival, and there’s a surprise to be found amongst the resort’s Official Partners: Nescafé is no longer the coffee brand of choice for Disneyland Paris! The instant coffee brand owned by Nestlé has been superseded by Italian brand Segafredo Zanetti. Part of the Bologna-based Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group, which sells 120,000 tons of coffee worldwide annually, the Segafredo brand claims to be the Italian market leader and the leading espresso company worldwide. Disney has been criticised in the past for the perceived poor quality of its Nescafé coffee by fans and frequent visitors, who will now be hoping the dropping of this Nestlé brand brings a better-tasting cup to the parks. No changes to the coffee being served have been reported yet, but if your next café tastes more like a real caffè, do let us know!

The sole remaining arm of Nestlé on the list of Official Partners is now Nestlé Waters, suppliers of Vittel and Perrier branded water to the parks. The Swiss corporation was originally one of the most important partners at the opening of the resort. It was largely replaced by Unilever in 2007, the British-Dutch multinational which brought popular brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Miko ice creams to the resort.

In other beverage-related news, the standard prices for drinks at counter and quick service restaurants increased slightly last month to €2.60 for soft drinks (previously €2.50), €2.20 for hot drinks (previously €2.00) and €2.75 for hot drinks with cream (previously €2.50).

Friday, 22nd April 2011

“Prolonged refurbishments” official reason for Princesses & Pirates Party cancellation

Mickey's Princesses & Pirates Party

So Disneyland Paris did sell enough tickets to justify these four after-hours parties? That’s what their official statement sent to ticketholders suggests, with the official reason actually being that the “prolonged refurbishments” throughout the park wouldn’t have allowed the parties to go ahead to the standard of quality Disney originally wanted. With Sleeping Beauty Castle half-covered in scrims, areas closed for repaving and of course the icon of the park’s pirating land, Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship, also soon set to undergo a complete rebuild, that’s probably true — they couldn’t have picked a worse time in the history of Fantasyland and Adventureland to promote a Princesses and Pirates event. Whilst some refurbishment dates have slipped, the final schedules were surely known some time ago now.

An official statement (translated from French) reads:

Mickey’s Princesses & Pirates Party due to take place on 1st, 10th, 17th and 24th June in Fantasyland and Adventureland have been cancelled due to prolonged refurbishments underway in some parts of Disneyland. We are aware of your disappointment regarding the cancellation of these events, however this decision was taken because the current conditions would not permit the event to meet the Disney standard of quality. Disneyland Paris apologise for the inconvenience and thank visitors for their loyalty.

Visitors who have reserved tickets for the evenings can get a refund by contacting our reservation center at 01 60 30 30 30 or their tour operator.

For those who are still visiting the resort on the scheduled dates, in addition to a full refund of the ticket price, we invite you to join us in the space of Hurricane’s Disney Village between 5pm and 8pm on the day of the event originally planned, to spend a moment with our Disney Princesses and Pirates with a refreshing drink.* (*Details to be confirmed upon refunding of ticket)

See that? Along with a refund, ticketholders will get the chance of a drink and meeting with “Disney Princesses and Pirates” at… Hurricane’s Discotheque in Disney Village! The venue closed since March last year and still awaiting replacement. So, if you bought a ticket for Mickey’s Princesses & Pirates Party, you’ve actually just won a free ticket for what might be an exclusive last step inside that classic discotheque above Rainforest Cafe! (And sorry, no — tickets are no longer available to purchase…)

VIA Grandmath (Disney Central Plaza)

Thursday, 21st April 2011

Mickey’s Princesses & Pirates Party: Cancelled!

Mickey's Princesses & Pirates Party

It was confirmed today that all four Mickey’s Princesses & Pirates Party events, due to take place in June, have been officially cancelled. Originally scheduled for the 1st, 10th, 17th and 24th June, the new after-hours parties promised exclusive events and character encounters, with attractions open in Adventureland and Fantasyland, for €25 or £22. Anyone who has already bought tickets will be contacted directly by Disneyland Paris with an official statement.

We announced the details just last month and you can see the full list of events-that-weren’t-to-be on a guide page here. No reason for the cancellation has yet been given, although the obvious assumption would be poor ticket sales. The combination of Pirates, Princesses and exclusive after-hours rides might have seemed a winning formula, but for events costing €25 and beginning at 8pm, when most children are already tired or worn out from a day in the parks, they were perhaps pinpointed at a much too young demographic. Beyond the rides, the promised entertainment offered little for all but the most obsessive character fans, and even the attraction count was a meagre eight with Pirates of the Caribbean the biggest thrill. Similar events in the US have given access to the whole park and often a fireworks show, enticing adult visitors. Hopefully this won’t put off any future attempts for new nighttime parties at Disneyland Paris — but next time, perhaps some better audience research could be involved.

VIA Kristof (magicforum)

Thursday, 21st April 2011

Park ticket prices rise for Summer season, big increases on longer stays

Magical Moments Festival entrance

If you’re looking to visit Disneyland Paris this summer on a regular park ticket and on a limited budget, you might be forced to keep those Magical Moments briefer than you’d like. The start of the new season on 6th April saw the prices of Park Tickets updated and another inevitable rise, although this year seems to have hit longer stay tickets particularly hard. So much so that it’s official: a regular 5 Days 2 Parks ticket now costs more than a Dream annual pass! That’s the top tier Passeport Annuel, offering 365 days access and big discounts on dining and shopping.

With many of us taking price of those fairly reasonably-priced annual passports, we should probably keep quiet — but it’s still worthwhile to note the prices Disneyland Paris is charging for the vast majority of visitors. The biggest rise comes on the 4 Days 2 Parks ticket, which has increased by £13 for Brits or a huge €16 at the gate compared to the previous prices. For British visitors, the increase comes on top of a continually poor exchange rate, pushing the longest 5 Day ticket to a whopping £177, equivalent to €200.87 or €1 more than that €199 Dream pass.

Of course, there are several official special offers for tickets which run practically year-round — a cheaper 1 Day 2 Parks ticket and “one day free” offers for 3 and 4 day tickets — but the resort seems to be pushing its prices across the board in the hope of increased revenues as it pushes to break even. Already this year we’ve seen far less generous offers for hotel bookings, with last year’s almost frivolous 40% Off matched with only a 20% package discount this year — upped to 25% only as the deadline neared. The resort almost seemed to be selling itself cheap — having high prices but cutting them almost in half, which can look tacky to the consumer — but is it now selling itself too high? Read More…

Monday, 18th April 2011

Fountain tests in Sleeping Beauty Castle moat hint at big splash for 20th Anniversary

20th Anniversary fountain tests

It may just look like a few pipes in the waters around Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, but this is the photo everybody’s talking about. Because those aren’t just pipes, they’re fountains. Tested for a short time last week in the water behind Castle Stage, exactly one year before the date of the resort’s 20th Anniversary, it’s our first hint that something big is in preparation for next year’s anticipated celebration. We may not be talking World of Color given the space, but we could certainly be talking about at least un petit morceau of that experience as part of a big nightly event.

There may be a whole year to go, but these tests have still come relatively out of the blue for the park. World of Color has been mentioned as an aspiration for Walt Disney Studios Park in the past, but given the huge costs of installing the show (not to mention building a lake for it to actually perform on) it’s exciting to see that the technology at least might find a way to arrive in Paris much sooner than expected. And with that, anticipation for the 20th just rocketed. Less than 360 days to go, folks!

Update 19/04 — Our photo reporter Dlrpteam has sent over photos of more temporary installations around the area, being used as part of the current effects testing. It’s likely they’re “testing the waters” so to speak, to see just what can be achieved here before working on more in-depth plans:

20th Anniversary fountain tests

20th Anniversary fountain tests

20th Anniversary fountain tests

VIA Dlrpteam, Characters Photos Blog (Facebook)

Monday, 18th April 2011

Constellations boutique barrier removed, guests free to disobey Star Command

Constellations boutique

It was an unsubtle way to funnel more guests exiting Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast into the adjoining Constellations shop, but perhaps the metal barrier constructed a few months ago didn’t quite provide the bump in sales hoped for. Today the metal gates have all been removed, leaving only the support beams wrapped in red and white tape. Oddly, the themed Buzz Lightyear vinyls previously stuck to the floor attempting to point guests into the shop have also been pulled up, so perhaps this is only a temporary chance to disobey Star Command’s orders?

PHOTO VIA Mark Stothard

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