Tuesday, 27th March 2007

Flying the flag for detail (Part 1)

In the past, each of these little updates might have been given its very own news update, but these days they’re lost amongst construction, parades, and endless preparations for the grand Disney party of the 15th Anniversary. So instead, they’ve all been collected up here in one bumper collection, each with its own headline-that-could-have-been in trademark DLRP Today style… ;-)

Flying the flags

Let’s begin with those flags – both old and new! The resort now has a new centrepiece decoration on its hub – three giant, white flagpoles displaying the European and French flags with a special one for Disneyland15 in the middle. The flagpoles, right behind the main resort information board, present quite a statement about the resort – it’s European, it’s French, and it’s proud of it! They’re also in a much more sedate and stylish design than much of the resort area, blending well with the new signage and detail installed since the opening of the new hub area in late 2005.

Flag fans – don’t desert us yet! The best is yet to come! Not only does the always-rather-bleak-looking Fantasyland entrance gate now have some colourful new flags adoring it, but Main Street‘s full collection of USA flags have been returned after years of absence. The only flag to be found previously was atop The Emporium’s middle, but now almost every key building in the street is once again flying a period-correct 45-starred flag, paying tribute to the patriotism of America.

Casting a spell

Missing for endless years, a new detail was welcomed back with much delight at Le Confiserie des Trois Fées (the three fairies’ sweet shop) in Fantasyland. Hovering above the stove of their fairytale confectionary store, the three faries from Sleeping Beauty – Flora, Fauna and Merryweather – can once again be seen thanks to the return of this nifty projection effect, similar to those in the post-show of “it’s a small world”. Photos Magiques even captured a video of it, which can be seen here.

Rebuilding fairytale defences

Elsewhere in Fantasyland, the ramparts of the fairytale buildings have regained some old details, such as the metal torches along Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains and the defence spikes of the castle.

More Frontier fix-ups at Fuente del Oro

Fuente del Oro Restaurante in Frontierland has had some incredible luck lately. Not only has it been fully repainted, repaired and refurbished, but new murals and details have appeared all over – either new or returning, they’re a great example of why Disney is king of detail…

Plaza Gardens Palissades & Fresh Paint on Main Street

Les Palissades – the construction fences! For years they’ve been enveloping different sections of Main Street for much-needed refurbishments, but Plaza Gardens Restaurant has always sat on the edge, unloved. Now, much like the story of how Main Street grew out from the railroad station, the refurbishments have finally reached the Plaza inn and a full exeterior refurb is underway. Back at Town Square, the Riverboat Excursions mural has finished its repaint and is certainly looking much cleaner and brighter.

The flames of Adventure

Since Autumn 2006 burning flames have finally returned full-time to the torches of Adventureland Bazaar and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril. From time to time, they can also be spotted once again atop a look-out tower next to Pirates of the Caribbean. Now, they’ve even returned to a spot where their absence perhaps wasn’t even noted, just outside Le Girafe Curieuse boutique.

Meet the Robinsons!

The new details aren’t just confined to Disneyland Park. Though much of the enhancement work at the Studios is on-track for the June opening of Toon Studio, there are still touch-ups to the sets and backlots. In true Disney-synergy style, for example, Meet the Robinsons are now presented on new posters at both Art of Disney Animation and Backlot Express. Fairly quiet until late last year, Disney has suddenly had a surge of pride with their 2nd Disney-only CGI film, and is doing a great job with advertising. See it in 3D if you can, or return to the Studios very soon to meet two stars from the film in real 3D!

Spiffing-up the first Sorcerer Mickey

Soon to be outdone by an even grander Sorcerer Mickey statue at the entrance to Toon Studio, Front Lot‘s bronze statue has just reacted with a much-needed touch-up to its rocky plinth, returning a mellow brown colour the heavily worn rocks.

Armageddon: Plus d’Effets Speciaux

A nice effect has either returned after a long absence or been introduced outside the exit of Armageddon: Special Effects. Next to the motion-activated special effects wind machine, this grate in the ground now emits steam throughout the day. A nice, industrial way to bring more life to Backlot.

What am I queueing for again?

Just incase guests heading into Art of Disney Animation have a sudden spot of amnesia, a new sign has been added right above the entrance doors to the “Art of Animation” pre-show room. Using a pink background matching the repainted brickwork and a nice illustration of Mickey at an animator’s desk, the sign should actually be very useful to place the name and intention of this attraction in guests’ mind. This is a park, afterall, where guests are often heard to comment “Wow, number 8 was amazing!” or “Have you been on number 3 yet?”, referring to the Studio and park map numbers…

Phew! …and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of new and returned details, not the mention the endless refurbishments and new constructions across the two parks. Look out for part 2 very soon, to get right up-to-date with all the latest changes, including brand new photos from Photos Magiques.

A huge thanks to the following for photos included here: Joel, Scrooge, Photos Magiques.

Tuesday, 27th March 2007

Yo ho, yo ho, anywhere-but-Paris for me!

2006 saw the introduction of new effects and animatronics at the two US versions of the attraction – the original, at Disneyland in California, and the much-criticised duplicate at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Planned to perfectly coincide with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest on 7th July, this week’s announcement from Tokyo Disneyland appears to come right behind the debut of the trailer for the third film, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Yahoo! Movies Japan reports:

Jack Sparrow Comes to Tokyo Disneyland Pirates of Caribbean Attraction on July 20, 2007
Oriental Land Co., Ltd. announced on March 23, 2007 that the characters from the Disney movie “Pirates of Caribbean” would appear at the renewed “Pirates of Caribbean” attraction of Tokyo Disneyland on July 20. Due to refurbishment, the attraction will be closed May 7 through July 19. Upon reopening, Jack Sparrow, Davy Jones (from the 2nd movie “Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”) and Captain Barbossa (who revived surprisingly at the end of the movie), will also appear in the attraction.

This therefore leaves the fourth version of the attraction, at Disneyland Resort Paris, as the only one without any influence from the unstoppable film franchise – unless you count the merchandise haven of Le Coffre du Capitaine, of course. Whilst the American resorts milk the newfound Pirates popularity for all its worth, including after-hours “Pirates and Princess Parties” at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort Paris has, beyond merchandise, only gone so far as to introduce a Jack Sparrow walkaround character in front of the attraction (seen above). Though incredibly popular upon appearance, Captain Jack makes unusually understated appearances with none of the “Pirate Tutorial” streetmosphere games of the US resorts.

So where does this leave Paris? Disney fans from overseas have long been fascinated by this version of the attraction – introducing a revised layout, new exterior and extra animatronics, it is considered by many to be “the best”. Now, as the only one without the still-controversial addition of Sparrow and co, it has another unique selling point. But for how long?

It seems strange that, whilst Imagineers at Disneyland in Anaheim, California are desperately struggling to shoehorn a pirate theme onto its Mid-West Tom Sawyer Island, the already-existing Adventure Isle at Disneyland Park in Paris remains untouched. Here lies a series of islands already complete with rope bridges, caves and hidden treasure… yet without a hint of the hugely popular and marketable films in sight. One of the cave networks has been named Davy Jones’ Locker since 1992, and let’s not forget La Cabane des Robinson – which, whilst an astonishing structure, has always been somewhat held back by its not-so-popular tie-in to the 1960 movie and original Swiss novel.

Rumours some time ago suggested a full makeover could be on the cards here, turning the treehouse into Jack Sparrow’s quirky hideout, with more hints to the films hidden in the caves and passageways of the islands. Last Summer, very strong rumours spread that the new animatronic characters could make their way to the Paris attraction for the 15th Anniversary. But, for some time now, all has been silent. Once the resort goes looking for something to fill the gap after the 15th though, this now seems like an almost inevitable choice.

So what now, Jack Sparrow? Are we to be two immortals locked in an epic battle until Judgment Day and trumpets sound?

Jack Sparrow: Or you could surrender.

Monday, 26th March 2007

Grand farewell for the Wonderful World

Performed as Disney Princess Parade since July 2006 (and for a spell in 2003 and 2004), the parade began way back on 30th March 1998 as the centrepiece of the resort’s “Year of Disney Classics”. These were the days of Tinkerbell’s Fantasy in the Sky, Disney Classics: The Music and the Magic and Pocahontas: le Spectacle, to name but a few. It was the year after the 5th Anniversary’s “Year to Be Here”, and the park desperately needed a new sensation to sustain the crowds. Luckily, they succeeded.

Drawing floats from the popular Disney Classics Parade of 1992-1998 and several mini-parades created for the release of Walt Disney films in the 90s, the parade added 5 new floats, a giant cast of dancers, interactive show stops and one final special ingredient… A Catchy Rhythm. The rest, as they say, is history. The Wonderful World of Disney Parade became a Disneyland icon, the quintessential mix of everything which makes a Disney parade so wonderful. And, although it faced many changes along the way, its spirit was never lost due to its undying popularity with the public.

And so, the final farewell performance of a real Disney classic. With no “Farewell Season” in the style of Main Street Electrical Parade, it all came down to Friday’s big goodbye to see the show off in style. For one day only, every parade Cast Member available joined the parade filling any role possible – the cast was so large and so spectacular that even the long-gone sailor dance unit returned in front of the parade’s most memorable original float, Steamboat Willie. As a tribute to the floats of the past, characters were also present from all the films of 1998’s “Disney timeline”, including Pinocchio, The Jungle Book and Hercules.

Photos by disneylandresortparis at PBase. More here.

Once the parade reached its end at Town Square, the entire special cast of over 110 performers created a jubilant and unforgettable atmosphere as they waited for the final float – none other than Steamboat Willie, before waving goodbye and allowing the doors to close on the parade for one final time. Of course, this isn’t the first time the parade has been waved goodbye – it first ended in late 1999 to make way for the millennium’s Disney’s ImagiNations Parade. Such was the popularity of the Wonderful World, however, ImagiNations could last little more than a year on the parade route. Could the same happen once again? It’d be very, very unlikely. The parade has unfortunately, truly, finally… ended.

But, as we move ahead to a new, exciting age in the history of Disneyland Resort Paris and welcome the launch of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, it’s obvious already that the parade will never truly be gone. Both for its catchy rhythm and trademark groups of energetic dancers, the Wonderful World will always be here as a wonderful memory.

To all those Cast Members who danced a catchy rhythm day after day for all these years – congratulations, and thank you. We were always guaranteed a Disney kinda’ day when we saw your smiling faces, as you passed along the way…

For more from the parade, visit our Grand Farewell guide. Discover a photo tour of the 17 floats which played a part in its life, along with the music, history and making of the Wonderful World.

Saturday, 24th March 2007

Disney’s Once Upon a Dream is HERE!

And now, the very first photos of the brand new parade! Don’t worry if you’re visiting next weekend – we won’t post any here until the official premiere! But, for your first sneak peak, check out the new gallery at Photos Magiques:


Thursday, 15th March 2007

St Patrick’s Day 2007 programme

Irish music and dancing plus a special fireworks show are all on the programme for this Saturday, with the Disney VIPs dusting off their emerald green costumes from last year to once again give a special Disney touch to the precedings. Whilst 2006 saw a special stage erected at the front of Central Plaza, the events this year take place mainly around the now-Winnie the Pooh-less refurbished Royal Castle Stage.

St Patrick’s Day
17th March 2007

Irish Parade
Parade Route – 15h30
The pre-parade of the Princess Parade goes green for a very special Irish day! Mickey will be there, and Minnie too! They’ve dressed for the occasion and so have their pals, to dance along to traditional Irish music.

The Pride of Murray Pipe Band
Royal Castle Stage – 12h40, 13h40, 17h40, 18h40

The Lee-Byrne Academy Dancers with Chip n Dale
Royal Castle Stage – 12h, 13h, 17h, 18h
A group of highly-skilled Irish dancers will astound you with their intricate and co-ordinated choreography. Even Chip n Dale will dance for you!

Free Face Painting All Day
Strolling near Royal Castle Stage – 10h to 18h

Over Sleeping Beauty Castle – 21h55

The addition of St Patrick’s Day to the resort’s list of seasonal events was an important step in a new direction, with the park now celebrating popular European national holidays rather than creating new events such as the Kids Carnival. The endless success of New Year’s Eve and Bastille Day (14 Juillet), when guests decide to visit Disneyland to celebrate these special days, brought up the possiblity of commemorating other large events, with the hope that guests from across Europe will soon see the park as a great place to visit for these holidays.

Just two weeks ago, the St David’s Welsh Festival was promoted to Disneyland Park after a quiet Disney Village launch in 2006, this year with a special pre-parade and themed costumes for the Fab 5, similar to the Irish events of this weekend.

Both highlighting the resort’s feel as a hub of Europe and attracting thousands of extra visitors from across the continent’s varied countries, these profitable and unique new events look set to become a major part of the annual calendar.

You can see photos from last year’s events here, or a video of the fireworks here.

Wednesday, 14th March 2007

Castle characters scale the first spires!

For several weeks, preparations have been underway to welcome the fifteen new golden creations to the spires of Le Château, including the much-noticed early removal of one of its spires (see photo). The first characters arrived on Monday – Donald, Daisy and Jiminy Crickett, followed by five more yesterday – Goofy, Pluto, Chip n Dale, Pinocchio & Figaro and Dumbo & Timothy. The statues are small and understated yet perfectly detailed, each one holding an intricate candle and standing on a jeweled, “15”-encrusted crown.

Whilst a January article in newspaper Le Parisien revealed the statues would be gold rather than full-colour, the characters are infact all tinted with particular colours each, such as pink for Daisy’s dress or blue for Donald’s sailor hat. Their eyes, noses and mouths (see Chip n Dale in particular) have also been picked out in full-colour paint, creating a unique decoration and a more “awake” cast of characters.

The “scuffle” comes from exactly those you’d expect it. We found out last October that Winnie the Pooh had been replaced by Pinocchio & Figaro, and just late last month that Buzz Lightyear had joined the makeover, but now it seems Chip n Dale have beaten Hewey, Dewey & Lewey to a more prominent spot the Castle’s lower-right spire, when compared to the original visuals.

The change was, however, included in the latest concept art we saw last month, with Hewey, Dewey & Lewey now resting precariously on the spire to the right of the main balcony.

The work is taking place overnight, using the same means (a huge crane) as the installation of the Christmas Enchanted Fairytale lights – most of which have, infact, also made an early return to the park. These thousands of small LED lights, wrapped on cages which sit atop the spires, likely provide the electrical supply for the fifteen new candle illuminations themselves.

The candles, to be lit during Candleabration, appear to be opaque glass bulbs sprayed lightly with gold paint, though we’ve no indication yet what kind of lighting effect they will give. It is unlikely the Enchanted Fairytale lights will be used during the ceremony (until Christmas), though it has been suggested the “pixiedust” effect (created by the larger, white lights dotted across the turrets) will be used during Candleabration.

The spiraling trail of pixie dust around the top of the Castle is already in place for Tinker Bell, who is due to join the Seven Dwarfs, Buzz Lightyear, Lumière, Hewey, Dewey & Lewey, Cheshire Cat, Mickey & Minnie and the giant “15” window to complete the makeover shortly.

Thanks to Mateo for all photos above, posted on Disney Central Plaza forum.

Wednesday, 14th March 2007

15th Fever: Merchandise explosion

It all began with a photo frame… and then the onslaught began! With less than 18 days to go until the 15th officially gets underway, they aren’t taking any chances in the merchandise department. You want pens, postcards, placemats, playing cards? They’re all covered. And you forgot to bring enough clothes for your anniversary dream? Don’t worry – you can practically get a whole new, 15th Anniversary wardrobe.

It’s no secret that Disney anniversary merchandise is a guaranteed sell – products from the 5th Anniversary were some of the best selling in the resort’s history, and even the limited items for the 10th flew off the shelves before the year was out. For the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland celebrations in California, fans waited in line hours for first-pick at exclusive merchandise. After being on an offensive to increase guest spending in the last two years, Disneyland Resort Paris is going for the big one. Soon, you might be able to live entirely off of products emblazoned with the number “15” – the merchandise line is truly that big.

Whilst Walt Disney Studios is still reported to be fairly dry, Disneyland Park has been met with a tidal wave of new products in recent days, many of which Scrooge from DisneyMagicInteractive.com captured on camera…

Left-right/top-bottom: Photo frame, mouse ears hat, cola sweets, cake/sweets tin, mug and cup, photo album, table placemat, A3 poster, adult t-shirt, girls’ top, kids’ sweatshirt, white kids’ t-shirt, blue kids’ t-shirt, pen, autograph and scrapbook, notebook and pen.

And just a couple of days later, Scrooge adds even more to the collection:

Left-right/top-bottom: Postcard, bookmark, keychain, wallet, magnet, colouring book and pens, packaging close-up, playing cards, mobile accessory, tin, shoulder bag, baseball caps, light-up necklace, photo frame magnet, mini snowglobes, colouring pencils, plastic folder.

It’s true that many of the items here are lower-value products, and so far there appears to be little for the dedicated fan. As the countdown continues, though, more and more products appear. Aside from the limited editions of the Pin Trading line, there have even been rumours of such top-line merchandise as snowglobes based on the floats of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade.

The boutiques themselves are also gearing up the big launch, hoping that, at this very moment in just 18 days’ time, all these items will be flying off the shelves faster than they can say “just like we dreamed it!”.

As usual, it’s the old-fashioned stores of Main Street USA that are first to receive their new anniversary overlay. After a sweeping series of refurbishments and remodelling to almost all of the street’s boutiques in recent years, the stores are more ready than ever for an extra influx of merchandise hunters.

Special decorations and point-of-sale locations starring Lumière have already arrived at The Storybook Store and elsewhere, whilst the last-chance Plaza East & West Boutiques were first to receive their 15th Anniversary-themeing for clothing rails, shelves and more. All the branding is in a more enchanting and less modern style to the general 15th marketing – one that fits more than comfortably with that of the land itself, which bodes well for the similarly-styled banners and decorations due to arrive in the street itself soon.

Photos from Joel’s latest Photo Hunt show that the Emporium is now home to countless miniature banners amongst the old banknote-carrying system in the ceiling, hung on special, ornate gold frames and each decorated with a small golden tassel. But it’s not only the big Main Street stores ready for the April anniversary guests – the merchandise line has now reached smaller boutiques such as La Girafe Curieuse, seen above, where it is all on prominent display outside the store.

Merchandise photos by Scrooge on the forum of DisneyMagicInteractive.com
Final two photos by Joel.

Monday, 5th March 2007

(Re-) Making an entrance

It has always been a point of both positive and negative that Front Lot is by far the most beautiful of all the Walt Disney Studios Park lands. Fantastic that the second gate gives such a good first impression, a disappointment that the rest of the park doesn’t follow the same level. Of course, there’s a reason beyond the strict budget… movie studios have traditionally always had extravagant, glossy facades at their entrance and administration area, before quickly becoming simple soundstage complexes beyond.

And so, for this latest, large-scale refurbishment, only the best will do! It’s out with the asphalt and in with hundreds, thousands of coloured bricks. The work isn’t due to be fully completed until late May or June, and now we can see why. The flooring will keep a pattern (though not necessarily identical to the original), but the patchy and worn-out asphalt is now high quality bricks similar to those used on the new central esplanade in December 2005.

The new path meets up perfectly with the existing compass design of the esplanade’s hub, and begins with larger bricks around the security check area. Around half of the bricks have currently been laid, with the work breaking in half to allow guest glow before beginning again right at the Studio gates – this time with far smaller and different coloured bricks.

Similar work is expected to begin this week inside the park itself, as the black tarmac of Toon Studio is finally replaced with a lighter colour, reportedly actual paving and large flagstone tiles.

As we’ve been seeing for several weeks, the amount of construction walls throughout the resort is truly at an all time high. Most noticable of all are probably those surrounding the Disneyland Park entrance, Fantasia Gardens. Work here is centering on replacement of lamps, tidying of gardens and the refurbishment and repainting of the several tired gazebos.

The work isn’t necessarily as major as that in front of Walt Disney Studios, but the prominent location and design of the gardens gives it much more of an impact on guests. Luckily, the resort are well on top of their game – almost every construction fence (and that goes for those inside both parks, too) is now sporting a special sign proclaiming “More magic is being prepared for the 15th Anniversary” and to “Join us from 1st April 2007”.

Most (if not all) of the work around Fantasia Gardens is due to be complete by late this month, just in time for the anniversary launch, though it remains to be seen if the iconic Disneyland Hotel and busy esplanade area will get any hint of the anniversary. We’ve seen the number “15” pop up in almost every corner of the resort lately, yet the esplanade is still, for now, left out of the party.

All photos by Photos Magiques. You can see much more here.

Thursday, 1st March 2007

More ‘Once Upon a Dream’ making-of

The new parade is once again introduced by the now-familiar face of François Leroux, Vice President of Entertainment at the resort, before we get to see a couple more of the people “behind the Dream” as they proudly present their work.

Below, an artist proudly holds up the full concept art for the Dreams of Fantasy float, showing the extra pirate flag artists and “Jolly Holiday” penguins which, as with the extra performers for every float, were removed from the concept art shown at the recent Shareholders’ AGM. Beyond the large concept art, the tower of Big Ben can be spotted, part of the float’s concept model, whilst the huge drawing board features plans for the float design. Surrounding the artist’s area are stills and artwork from Peter Pan, showing the level of detail and accuracy the designers are striving for in their representations of these classic films.

When designing a parade, much moreso than when designing a theatre show, the directors must work in 3D to ensure the scene works with the perspective of the floats to their audience. A key part of the process, seen previously with The Wonderful World of Disney Parade and Disney Cinema Parade, is therefore to create scale models or maquettes of the floats. The next image above shows a sculpter at work on the maquette for Dreams of Laughter and Fun, in particular the giant Alice stuck inside a thatched cottage.

Next, a close-up on a finished maquette for Dreams of Friendship. Lead by the Toy Story characters in a familiar Andy’s Room environment, the first section of the float features many of the key characters from the first film along with Bullseye from the sequal. Unlike the other floats, the two scenes here are clearly divided, with a page of the storybook also providing a backdrop to the scene.

For the first time, Winnie the Pooh will get his own parade float – albeit shared. The scene – a tea party in the Hundred Acre Wood – is remarkably similar to the former set of his “Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too” show, during its time at Royal Castle Stage between 1998 and 2005. Pooh’s oak tree home is featured, with colourful lanterns surrounding the wooded grove.

The next image below is definitely worth a click, both for its revealing look at the design of Dreams of Power and its highlighting of the intricacy and artistry involving in crafting the floats. The designer’s drawing boared is filled with a huge diagram of the float’s exact final design, whilst the maquette itself gives us a clearer look at the villain-infested float after the promising concept art seen last weekend.

Finally, a split-second close-up is given of a full coloured maquette, showing Ursula at the back of the float. It isn’t clear yet which of these larger characters will move, or how they will be controlled. Characters such as Pumbaa, for example, could be controlled from inside the float using a puppetry system similar to that used at The Legend Of The Lion King or even California’s Parade of Dreams.

Given the similarities in the style of this parade to California’s 50th anniversary debuted parade, character puppetry could well be added to the line-up of performers giving life to the floats. The list already features stilt walkers, dancers, jugglers, flag artists, bungee acrobats… and elephants! (Taken from Katy Harris’ previous project, the Kids Carnival).

Poppy The Monkey confirmed on MagicForum last week that rehearsals have now begun, taking place at night after Disneyland Park closes its gates. These will continue most nights up until the “soft-opening” premiere on 31st March.

From rumours, to sketches, to maquettes, to construction, to rehearsals – the time and effort required to create a new daytime Disney parade is unsurpassed by anyone else. And now we’re less than 30 days away from the final step… seeing it for real !

Concepts and video stills © Disney, published by arn0 on his blog.

Thursday, 1st March 2007

Disney Characters jump aboard the celebration

And so, for one year only, every character will receive a special medal to commemorate fifteen years of Disney magic in Paris. Or, for the Disney Princesses, an ornate blue and gold brooch. This covers yet another key area of the resort in vital 15th Anniversary emblems, and yet again adds to the special “VIP” celebration feeling guests are expected to receive throughout the year.

And what of the “new Character locations created for this very special year” we were first promised back in June 2006? Well, according the final concept art below, four new “Character Experience” locations will be popping up at the four corners of Central Plaza, providing a kind of character “hub” around the redecorated Central Plaza stage and Castle. It’s also possible, perhaps, that the locations will be tied into the lands they border.

As for characters in Walt Disney Studios Park, the opening of Toon Studio in June will bring new character locations here, with latest rumours suggesting Ratatouille will be one of the new locations, giving a location for Rémy and Emile to meet guests. Walk-about characters from Meet the Robinsons are also expected.

The major Disney character event, though, will take place early each day on Main Street USA, as Disney’s Character Express steams into the park following a similar route and set-up to last Halloween’s Stitch Cavalcade. Taking place four times each day with a cast of around 14 Disney characters, the cavalcade will use the retired Dumbo float from The Wonderful World Of Disney Parade (seen above in its original concept art and in the park).

The “Casey Jr”-styled float, which consists of several articulated sections, will be completely repainted and redesigned, with a bold colour scheme of blue, white and gold and additional decorations on each carriage. The final carriage, previously closed, will be redesigned to allow more characters to hop onboard.

Characters seen on the concept art include Chip n Dale, Mr Smee, Captain Hook, Woody, Jessie, Buzz, Goofy, Donald, Eeyore and Tigger. Mickey and Minnie won’t be featured, their “top VIP” status obviously restricting them to Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade only. As it makes its way up Main Street and around Central Plaza, the Character Express will stop four times to allow the characters to disembark and interact with guests… which sounds like a joy for the Guest Flow teams!

How these events will affect the usual Halloween and Christmas seasons is still uncertain, though forgetting the long-awaited new attractions and even-longer-awaited new parade, the 15th Anniversary looks to be a fantastic year for park entertainment. With extra Disney characters, a morning cavalcade and an evening castle show apparently performed every day, this is the scale of entertainment usually restricted to a one month season extended to cover an entire year.

Concept art © Disney, captured by Mouetto on Disney Central Plaza forum.

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