Sunday, 7th January 2007

The Nighttime Christmas Parade – with special guests

Whilst the large lighting rigs along the parade route illumated the procession, several extra lights were added to the classic floats to light up the characters and their decor. Previously, a nighttime version of The Christmas Parade such as this could only be seen on New Year’s Eve, when entertainment times were shifted to compensate for the park’s late 1am closure.

Photos captured 30th December 2006.

The Christmas Parade enjoyed its final performance of the 2006/07 season earlier today, and it remains to be seen whether it will return again in November. With Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade scheduled to run the entire year, either a hushed Christmas makeover will take place, The Christmas Parade will return, or there will be no main Christmas parade.

Whatever happens, enjoy the nighttime Christmas Parade, truly at its best, with two special guests…

The Nighttime Christmas Parade
Uploaded by dlrp-magic

Thursday, 4th January 2007

Katy Harris: Once Upon a Dream director

Katy Harris began her career at Disneyland Resort Paris in 1993, performing in the Beauty and the Beast show at Videopolis Theatre. After then performing in every production at the park, she became an assistant show director and produced various spectacles for small events and business conferences.

In 2001, she became a full show director, and has a good list of credits to her name. Choreographer with Craig Revel Horwood (as seen on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing) on The Legend Of The Lion King, she then conceived and directed the Kids Carnival as well as adapting Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too for the Fantasy Festival Stage. Tasked with conceiving a new Disneyland Park parade for the 15th Anniversary, she eventually presented the parade to Jay Rasulo (head of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts) in America and got the greenlight for the project in January 2006.

Series: Backstage at the park (3/5)

A choreographer for the new parade

To celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Park, the park’s teams at Marne-la-Vallée (Seine et Marne) are assembling themselves ready. This is the next in our series on those who, in the shadows, are preparing the festivities, due to begin 1st April.

You would imagine it like the light-footed style of a dancer, but Katy Harris, choreographer and director at Disney, arrives burdened with stress and pressure. Because this 38-year old English woman, previously director of the Kids Carnival, has accepted a hefty task: to conceive and direct the first strictly French parade, Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, which will be performed each day at the park. She brings together seven dreams: imagination, laughter, friendship, fantasy, power, adventure and romance, played out by the characters of Disney.

“I had lots of pieces of paper with all the most important characters, the films – a true puzzle!” remembers Katy. “Once the choices had been made, we very quickly got the green light from the Americans. Lucky, since one year is very short to create the costumes, lights, music, etc.”

Thirteen Years at Disney

Today, the workshops, mainly situated at Montreuil (Seine-Saint Denis), are putting the finishing touches to the floats. The music has been recorded. The rehearsals are about to begin. “The team comprises 105 performers. For each role, we need four people, to allow for days off. That means creating enough costumes and in every size.” It’s for the this reason mainly, that the physical criterias were established. The princess flowers, who wear dresses covered in yellow and green petals, measure around about the same height. “If not, we could never do it, and it’s also important for harmony with the choreography.”

Educated as a dancer at British theatre schools, Katy Harris has resided at Disney for over 13 years. “In a parade just as much as a musical theatre show, the direction is just as important as the choreography, since the presentation to the spectator is very short, never more than 2 minutes, and the scene continues to move. To create emotion, it’s a lot of hard work.”

Tomorrow’s column will feature Roland Kleve, head of future attraction construction.

Article: Julie Cloris, Translation: DLRP Today

Article scan thanks to Julien-Fantillusion, Disney Central Plaza forum.

Wednesday, 3rd January 2007

Castle characters go Gold for the 15th

The large image next to the article confirms the design, with Daniel Delcourt stood next to the giant head of the Goofy statue itself, fully painted in metallic gold. When the decorations were first unveiled in July, and confirmed with later artworks released in July and October, they were shown as fifteen full-colour statues sitting on top of the castle’s turrets. It appears that either these artworks were produced full-colour for better marketing, or a drastic design change has taken place. Behind Delcourt in the article’s photo below, a new version of the following artwork can be seen, with fifteen shimmering, gold, statues filling the spires of the castle…

The article also confirms that the decorations will be added between the 18th and 30th of March, with Europe’s largest cherry-picked crane arriving to complete the job. This also means a full renovation of the castle is unlikely, with current rumours suggesting a refurbishment after the anniversary, in 2008, is now more likely. However, whilst gold statues could be considered more for a 50th than a 15th, the co-ordination with the castle’s large amount of existing gold elements should make these decorations even more tasteful – there’s certainly not a birthday cake or jester hat in sight!

Series: Backstage at the park (2/5)

Awakening Sleeping Beauty Castle

To celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Park, the park’s teams at Marne-la-Vallée (Seine et Marne) are assembling themselves ready. This is the next in our series on those who, in the shadows, are preparing the festivities, due to begin 1st April.

A series of pink files pile up on top of the desk. The 15th anniversary of Disneyland Paris in figures and forecasts. Aged 44, Daniel Delcourt, responsible for the shows and parades division of Disneyland Paris, directs the teams who are imagineering the festivities. His greatest mission: to redecorate the famous Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.

The spires of each turret will soon be lifted, to allow fifteen statues representing famous members of the Disney family to take their place. Perched on golden crowns, they will each be given a candle which will be lit each evening. Tinkerbell, godmother of the anniversary, will circle around the summet of the castle. In mid-March, the “only cherry picker in Europe” capable of lifting fifteen people up to 45 metres into the air will allow the statues to be positioned on the spires. The operation, at night, will take place incredibly fast: between the celebrations of St Patrick’s Day and the final days of March. “One thing will never change – the opening date. For us, it’s a worry but also a stimulation”, assures Daniel Delcourt as he presents the calendar.

“A straight-forward course”

Behind his desk, a newspaper cutting, framed, attracts the eye: “Disney: Stikers play hide and seek with Mickey.” “During the social movements here in September, no-one in my department followed the action. I’m very proud. You should work to move forwards, regardless of pay.” And it’s without doubt the work which explains that, for eleven years, Daniel Delcourt has taken the role of extinguishing the brooding fires of Disney. Every 18 months on average, he makes the big move between two positions. “I had a traditional start,” admits the Belgian with a smile, with education from hotelier school. “I started my time here as a restaurant manager.” To this date, he can claim to have been head of Disney Hotels. Close to 5,700 rooms, countless employees… “Like most, I arrived in this land not expecting to stay any longer than a few years. But when they find someone who can do well, they really give them a chance,” he explains. Disney nevertheless has one condition: continue to lead the 15th Anniversary to 1st April 2007. “And there’s no question of releasing those documents – they will never be seen!”

Article: Julie Cloris, Translation: DLRP Today

Article scanned by gldsun for Disney Central Plaza forum.

Wednesday, 3rd January 2007

New Year’s Eve 2006/07

Despite attendance counts slightly lower than previous years, mostly due to the weather, some exaggerated wait times could still be seen across the park. Whilst Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast stuck on 80 minutes all day, on the other side of Discoveryland it seemed to be time for Star Tours to enjoy a newfound popularity, as the entire first section of the outside queue filled with eager guests.

Restaurants appeared to cope with the attendance well, with extra Cast Members positioned at most to inform guests before they queued if seats are available and to then seat guests with food, ensuring every table was full.

At 9.30pm, the DJ Party on Central Plaza kicked off with lively disco and pop music, as the lights of the castle and Main Street illuminations “danced” to the beat of the songs. The rain began to pour even heavier at 10pm, but subsided as midnight drew near, leaving just the strong winds to fight with the upcoming fireworks.

Around 25 minutes before midnight, a single firework was launched from the right of the castle, testing the effect of the strong winds. Unfortunately, with wind speeds still too high, the decision was made to cut all ground-based fireworks on the right of the castle from the show, since their shells were blown far too quickly towards Discoveryland. Credit to those involved, however, for still being able to present such a large show in such poor weather conditions.

The music used for the show was carried over from 2005 – “New World” by Toby Mac from “Music Inspired by The Chonicles of Narnia” album. Though a strange choice for such an event (the classical style of the previous Treasure Planet show seemed infinitely more fitting), the countdown beforehand, choreographed to the Illuminations, was perfectly timed and the crowds cheered and applauded after the show before continuing to dance their way into the New Year of 2007.

Watch an exclusive video of the event:

Video will return soon.

Wednesday, 3rd January 2007

Steve Sidwell to orchestrate the Dream

Now we have a name, what’s the next step? Google it, of course! In an instant we have, which not only reveals his good portfolio of past credits but adds an extra bit of information about the parade, that it is the “Disneyland Paris Parade for 2007-2010” – confirming the parade will run beyond the anniversary year… though perhaps not for as long as previous productions.

And back to the generously-sized article in Le Parisien, what details can be pulled from the text? The music will be performed by the 100-strong Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, and will be a “little bit jazzy” in its style. Estelle Champeau, longtime Cast Member at the resort’s recording studio, is even quoted in the article as saying the music team enjoyed Steve’s work for Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, and overall it seems the same flambouyant, modernised style will be applied to the classic Disney anthems for the upcoming parade…

Disneyland Paris: 15 Years in 2007!
Anniversary. To celebrate the opening of the park fifteen years ago, Disney is putting the final touches to festivities that will span the whole of 2007 at Marne-la-Vallée. Including: the creation of a new parade, three brand new attractions and the arrival of TGV Est. This week, our column goes in discovery of those behind Disney. First, musician Steve Sidwell.

Series: Backstage at the park (1/5)

Disneyland Paris prepares its 15th Anniversary

The countdown begins. In three months, the 1st April 2007, a rain of stars will fall on Marne-la-Vallée (Seine et Marne) as Disneyland Paris celebrates its fifteenth anniversary. To commemorate the event, the teams at Disney are concocting wonderful surprises: Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, a new decoration of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, two brand new attractions, namely Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, and finally, late 2007 or early 2008, the long-awaited opening of the iconic Tower of Terror…

Being previewed this week, through profiles of those who have created the new additions, our column reveals the details and specifics of the year-long celebration which will capture the attention of the largest number of visitors ever seen from across Europe. Today, Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade takes the spotlight. For the first time, the musical parade has been designed entirely by teams in France itself. Each afternoon, at around 4pm, eight extravagant floats will make their way along the grand avenues of Disneyland towards Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. Six have already been built, and will soon arrive at the workshops of Disney to be equipped with motors and decor. Then it remains for dancers and characters to learn the choreography, set to the music specially arranged by Steve Sidwell.

Article: Julie Cloris, Translation: DLRP Today

The Musician to make the parade’s music

At 45 years old, Steve Sidwell can boast of having worked with Robbie Williams, Tom Jones, Sting and Elton John, or even of having contributed to the soundtrack of the film “Moulin Rouge”. For its fifteenth anniversary, Disneyland Paris undoubtedly wanted a “size” to the music, whilst still giving a touch of youth to the parade. The mission of this Englishman: to compose the music of the various intruments for each section which will accompany the floats as they pass, carrying the “heros” of the enchanted world of Disney.

“A slightly jazzy style”

“The daytime parade is the highpoint of a day at the park, and its musical accompanyment is essential,” assures the father of a family, who has left London for several days to visit the recording studio of Disneyland Paris. “I love this magical place, and more than anything the level of excellent with which it is associated,” he continues. “I’ve had the chance to experience it before, working on the sequal to 101 Dalmatians and on Finding Nemo.”

Steve Sidwell presents a commerical smile without hesitation at the press photo sessions. He claims to like “everything” about Disney, regularly taking his two 10 and 11-year old children to the parks in France and the US, and admits to having a soft spot for Tigger, the gentle tiger from Winnie the Pooh. With his most classical education at the Royal College of Music and Guildhall School of Music, added to an upbringing of pop and jazz, he is a sure talent and a perfect student for Disney, who didn’t hesistate long before settling on him. “We are fans of his style – jazzy, classical and brilliantly modern at the same time, all that made Moulin Rouge such a success” explains Estelle (Champeau), who works in the recording studio.

Evidently, the “legendary” melodies of “Peter Pan”, “Mary Poppins” and “Cinderella” played as the floats pass will still be in place. But they will not be engraved in stone, it will be Steve Sidwell’s job to give them his personal touch, his tempo. Over eight days, baton in hand, he will perform as chief orchestrator during the recording of the new composition by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London – a big band, some soloists, and not forgetting… an accordion player. Because Steve Sidwell, with his very British style, hasn’t forgotten that the anniversary will take place in Paris

Article: Marie Linton, Translation: DLRP Today

Article scans by wency77 on Disney Cental Plaza forum.

Thursday, 28th December 2006

Merlin l’Enchanteur breaks the spell

Beginning on 23rd December, as the park switched to its high-season operating schedule, the new show remains entirely faithful to the 1992-2001 original, presented in the Castle Courtyard around the mythical Sword in the Stone itself.

Merlin the wizard arrives in the courtyard and tells the tale of the sword, before one-by-one children from the gathered audience step up to try their power pulling the sword from its stone. After several failed attempts, Merlin will finally inevitably find the right child, who will pull the sword (at least part of the way) from its resting place and take the crown. The child then gets to wear the royal robe and their coronation is duly celebrated. As the show comes to an end, the lucky child will receive a certificate proclaiming their victorious triumph.

Fans and guests appear more than pleased that the streetmosphere show has finally made a return to the park, with the performance of Merlin himself noted as particularly good by members of Disney Central Plaza forum. Returning such a sorely missed show to the park is certainly the crowning acheivement of a year of refurbishments, additions and renewed magic across the resort.

The show is currently being performed every day (except 24th-27th Dec) at 11h00, 12h00, 13h00, 15h30 and 16h30. According to reports it is only scheduled to run until the end of 2006, though its return surely gives hope for a fullscale Merlin revival during the 15th Anniversary next year.

All photos by Characters_dlrp. You can see more here.

Friday, 8th December 2006

Troubles of the wind

First reports appeared on, who wrote:

“Early Friday December 8, 2006, winds up to 120 km/h were measured and resulted in closures of the Main Street, U.S.A. , it’s a small world promenade (the wide walkway in front of it’s a small world) and all open air attractions, such as Dumbo, Orbitron, Alice’s Curious Labyrinth. Guests were guided around the closed areas respectively through the arcades on the sides of the Main Street.”

However, with a 183-foot tower under construction and hundreds of temporary construction walls, Walt Disney Studios Park was undoubtedly the first concern as the storm whipped into Marne-la-Vallée. Despite each wall section being held in place with breeze blocks and sand bags, construction walls for the Tower of Terror near Studio Tram Tour were first reported to have been blown from their fixings.

At our partner site the MagicForum, member Poppy The Monkey now gives a full run-through of damage to Walt Disney Studios Park from today’s events:

– Nearly all the movie posters on the lighting rigs have gone.
– The starry light effect on Studio 1 has blown away.
– Most of the hanging decorations at the entrance to the WDS have blown down.
– Cars poster is loose on Studio 1.
– Most of the TOT construction fences were blown down along with some in Animation Courtyard.
– The tarps on the TOT were blown loose too.

Poppy The Monkey also gives more details on the safety precedures put in place for guests, reporting “Guests were kept in all attractions for 1 hour from 1pm, and not allowed to leave. Resulting in 2 showings of Animagique and Cinemagique for the same audience or all you could ride RNRC.” Any guests outside of the Studios’ many soundstages were quickly ushered inside Disney Studio 1 and told to remain inside, with multiple performances from CinéFolies and the Edelweiss band entertaining the hostages of the storm. Finally, Poppy The Monkey confirms “Guests were evacuated from the park at 2pm through the backstage areas taking them directly to the Disneyland Park via the cast members entrances.”

At Disneyland Park, the berms and landscaping played their part in protecting the park, though guests were still kept inside as much as possible. MagicForum member thebatman_1 reports Liberty Arcade and Discovery Arcade became the main shelters for windswept visitors, whilst characters huddled outside City Hall amongst the sea of blown-over trash cans.

Whilst the move to close an entire park seems monumental, the presence of heavy construction walls throughout the entire park could have led to far more serious problems in such strong winds. As it was, the damages that were incurred appear to be mostly minor, with many likely due to be fixed within just a couple of weeks.

At this moment, the winds have reportedly subsided and so fears of a repeat of December 1999’s freak storm can be put aside. On 27th December 1999, an intense gale ripped through the resort, causing damage to the roof of Sequoia Lodge and destroying the glass statue of Mickey Mouse created for the Christmas and Millennium celebrations. Worst hit was Davy Crockett Ranch, with one particular incident injuring six guests when a tree fell on their log cabin.

Member EDM at Disney Central Plaza forum reports a special event at the Studios booked by Air France still went ahead this evening, and, should the troubles of the wind not have a 2 day ticket, the parks will open again as normal tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, 29th November 2006

Magical Christmas nights

This one, though, you’ll already be familiar with. With Disneyland Park remaining open until 10pm over the main Christmas holidays, the longest opening hours ever operated during this season, the entertainment department is getting ready to balance out the day’s entertainment. Just as the 11pm closure in the Summer season causes times to be shifted later in the day, the park’s new Christmas hours are pushing back the times of The Legend Of The Lion King, The Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony, Disney’s Fanillusion and even Disney Cinema Parade.

Most interesting of all, The Christmas Parade has been pushed back to 5.30pm, nightfall in Paris during this season, actually turning the parade into a daily “nighttime” event for the first time ever. Only on New Year’s Eve in past years has the parade been performed under the glow of the park’s lighting rigs.

The Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony will then follow at 7pm, with Disney’s Fantillusion at 8.30pm, adding up to many magical nights of exclusive Christmas entertainment for the Paris resort.

You can see the latest times in full here: Entertainment Performance Times

Unfortunately, the Christmas version of Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too advertised by the resort’s official website to begin on 16th December has yet to appear on any schedules. Has Pooh Bear made a last minute cancellation to his festive tea party, or are they for whatever reason hiding this show in the same way as the hushed relaunch of the Summer version?

Monday, 27th November 2006

Refurbishment Roundup

Beginning, like most guests, as the entrance to Disneyland Park, let’s take a moment to marvel as the fully completed refurbishment of Disneyland Hotel. With its original, warm, pink colour returned, the hotel is glowing with magic once again. The next job for the crew will be to replace the scores of blown bulbs across the rooftops, but aside from that, the envy of every other Disney Resort has never looked more stunning.

Deep inside the park at Fantasyland, those fences just won’t budge from the Wishing Well. Work has been going on here for at least two months, and, as you can see, there hasn’t been much of a rush to get it finished. Also in Fantasyland, Le Pays des Contes de Fées and Casey Jr. are closed during the low season, with walls in place whilst the usual Winter refurbishment goes on.

Over in Frontierland, it seems they’re having trouble ridding the park of the Pumpkinmen, with a gathering of green fences still to be found around the site of the Pumpkin Paint Tower. With a quick change of parks, the refurbishment of Front Lot’s buildings continues, with Studio Photo revealing its newly refreshed colours and Studio Services getting the white basecoat treatment. Once repainted, the refurbishment project should finally be complete, unless they plan on starting on Disney Studio 1…

And finally… the atmosphere in Disney Village feels a bit deflated recently. Can you find a reason why? Those balloons were less than a month old – it should only be a few more days now before the (rather sleek) new red ribbon decorations on the second entrance drop off aswell.

For more of the latest photos, check Photos Magiques »

Saturday, 11th November 2006

The Christmas Parade 2006

Highlighting the popularity of this production in previous years, the 2006 parade remains almost entirely unchanged from last year, except perhaps for a few float decoration and music alterations that only a Christmas Parade pro would notice. The current parade cast make it a must-see production yet again, though, with excellent character performances and lively dancers, all with beaming smiles in their beautiful white costumes. 10 Minutes before the parade is due to begin, Mickey Mouse himself makes his way up the parade route on his car, before heading back to the end of the route in time for the start of the performance.

Compared to this very first performance of the season, the performance today (Saturday) on the first official day of Disney’s Christmas Season will have seen the addition of Father Christmas on his sleigh, only just arrived from the North Pole!

Enough with the words – onto the pictures!

Video will return soon!

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