Hold onto your hats and glasses: Big Thunder Mountain has re-opened! Disneyland Paris made the surprise announcement on Friday via Twitter, revealing that the Frontierland roller coaster would re-open to guests just a day later, on this past Saturday, a week earlier than expected. This follows its planned three-week refurbishment and, of course, that incident back at the end of April — which saw a decorative fibreglass rock above the track fall and injure five guests.
As it happens, the closure this forced upon the ride, one week before the planned closure, seems to have brought forward the whole refurbishment and finished it a week ahead of schedule. At least you can’t criticise Disneyland Paris for wasting time, even if the circumstances were less than desirable. The refurbishment has primarily seen the whole mountain regain its full ochre lustre, which had been fading following the previous 2006 repaint (and this time they even promised to remember the Rainbow Arch) as well as restoring various small effects. On-board, a magicforum member suggests that, while you can’t see anything visibly missing in the fateful final lift tunnel, none of the faux-rocks overhead (supposed to simulate an earthquake caused by miners’ dynamite explosions) were moving.
For all the worry over Sleeping Beauty Castle being covered by scaffolding for its complete restoration, it all seems to have been over in a moment. Visitors have watched over the past couple of weeks as first the decorative scrim was taken down then, after a short delay, all of the scaffolding covering the front of the castle came down. While the scaffolding at the back, in the Castle Courtyard, has risen to new heights, the section covering the north easterly wing of le château, on its right-hand side, is now almost all gone. So, what does all this disappearing refurbishment detritus reveal? Well, a Disney park landmark still in transition… almost returned to its full beauty.
Whilst the five new shades of pink have now become very clear, the brickwork a crisp new palette of pastels and clean ivory white, there are many remnants of the previous 1998 repaint remaining. The rooftop above the main window still has its grimy yellow gradient effect, the two golden spires have yet to return with their renewed shimmer and work continues on giving the previously blue/green turret roofs a stronger blue colour. Previously, we’d seen the rooftops painted in a solid, dark blue. This has now been softened with two additional shades on top, to give the same scattered pattern as before, although it’s still clear to see which rooftops have been given the new look against those which haven’t.
Progress has continued this week with the removal of all the scaffolding on the castle’s north easterly wing, revealing a truly gleaming façade behind. On Twitter, @InsideDLParis has been charting the work and captured the photo below which really shows what a fresh coat of paint does for details:
Following a much-needed clean and repaint, the waterfall on the other side of the castle was also been turned back on yesterday. There’s still much to do before the restoration is finally completed this August, but this will mostly consist of smaller-scale works and final touches done using moveable cranes and lifts. Rooftops to be completed at night and paint colours to be finished up in the daytime. And then, at long last, this Sleeping Beauty won’t be dormant any longer.
A 20/20/20 vision: The official logos for the 20th Anniversary are here! Who cares there’s eleven months still to wait and that so far we only know one addition. Tinker Bell couldn’t wait any longer to prove that, when she’s not churning out direct-to-home video movies, there’s nothing she likes better than to jazz up a few anniversary logos with some pixie dust sparkle. This trio of three differently-formatted logos are the first pieces of the resort’s promotional materials for the big events of 2012 to be released, revealing a shiny, pretty, colourful logo that looks, well, exactly as you’d expect. Glossy lettering? Check! Pink castle? Check! Tinker Bell? Check! It looks a definite step up from the 15th Anniversary logo, however, with a much bolder and more modern design style that includes a nice multi-coloured pixie dust trail from Tink (reminiscent of Tokyo’s 25th designs)and giant sans-serif numbers. Even the Castle looks perfectly pretty, with no humiliating Mickey Mouse symbols plastered over its windows, something that had become worryingly trendy over recent years.
One of the secondary logos simply features the Disneyland Paris logo with “20” to one side, similar to the classy alternative 15th Anniversary logo which became increasingly popular through that event. The semi-circular design of the main logo, meanwhile, looks like practically every Disneyland Paris logo of the late ’90s. It’s hard to know whether the recurring themes of the castle, Tinker Bell, fireworks, pixie dust and circular shapes show a lack of a imagination or a fun nod to the past. At least this time, the Peter Pan reference might tie into an actual anniversary event.
Drink up me hearties: Captain Jack Sparrow is coming to Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris in 2012! The European version of the attraction will finally end a 5-year stint as the only edition not to reference to the blockbuster movies, adding the exact same Audio Animatronics and special effects which “plussed” the Anaheim and Orlando rides in 2006 and Tokyo’s version in 2007. That includes three animatronic figures of Jack Sparrow himself, looking remarkably like the Johnny Depp character — one amongst the mayor/auctioneer scene, one hiding in a barrel and one drinking up in the final treasure caverns. In addition, the captain of the ship in the “attack” scene at the bottom of the first drop will likely be replaced by Barbossa, and the Imagineers will hopefully find somewhere to position the mist screen projection of Blackbeard, which was just announced to replace the original Davy Jones projection at Anaheim and Orlando yesterday. In the three broadly similar versions of the attraction already updated this comes at the start of the ride as a forewarning, but with the Paris edition having a different story layout its exact position is currently unclear.
The update has been confirmed internally for a while now, though so far hasn’t been officially announced and isn’t likely to be for a few months at least. But there we have it, our first known 20th Anniversary addition! Funnily enough four years ago we were talking about this exact update for the 15th Anniversary, but that’s Disneyland Paris. It seems like every year since then the rumour has resurfaced again, as those behind the magic tried to push it through the budgeteers, whilst money was spent instead on theme year after theme year. Most recently it looked like a dead cert for this year, what with the much-anticipated fourth film due out this very month (and enjoying a huge world premiere event at Disneyland in California today). As Captain Jack would have said several times over by now, “If you were waiting for the opportune moment …that was it.” But next year will do just fine, providing a solid Imagineering addition in what’s otherwise looking like a very Entertainment-based anniversary.
So, enjoy “On Stranger Tides” in stereoscopic digital 3D and then set course for Paris this time next year, to see Sparrow come alive in three real dimensions. And he only took 6 years to cross the Atlantic!
Here’s a word: unprecedented. We always hoped there would be a big effort to get the parks and resort “neat and pretty” for the 20th Anniversary, but no-one expected the refurbishments to come so early and so all-encompassing. Seeing each of the projects announced during the 2011 refurbishments presentation starting one by one is very exciting indeed, especially when they’re finally beginning to fix “black spots” such as the Newport Bay Club lighthouse. This prominent beacon on the all-to-often windswept Lake Disney has had its wood panelling literally hanging off for the past few months. Things weren’t so drastic at The Old Mill in Fantasyland, captured by @InsideDLParis with its sails removed for work to begin, but expect similar repairs to the panelling and roof.
And over in Adventureland, perhaps the largest project of all these — the complete restoration of the Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost exterior. Unlike The Old Mill, this walk-in counter service restaurant remains open, with scaffolding and tarp currently surrounding the entire first two floors.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 completedalmost 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.
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.
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)
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).
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