Wednesday, 8th November 2006

Christmas returns to Main Street

Monday brought a sea of green construction walls, entirely closing off the hubs of Central Plaza and Town Square, along with the first few ribbons and garlands on the lamposts. Town Square’s Gazebo had already been returned to its non-Pumpkin form, and the flower beds had already been given their white winter coats.

Just one day later, the Giant Pumpkin is gone, the Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony stage is being worked on and garlands and ribbons have arrived on many of Main Street’s buildings, including the Gazebo. The trees and lamposts are all given special gold ribbons, and – the biggest change of all – the Christmas Tree has returned! As reported yesterday, though, the tree has returned to its original Town Square location after a two year vacation at Central Plaza. Lining up perfectly with the Castle and the sleek Fairytale Illuminations, the “new” location of the tree already creates a much cosier Christmas atmosphere.

Photos taken yesterday, 7th November 2006:

Wednesday, 8th November 2006

Disney’s Halloween Party Night 2006

The evening began at 8.30pm, with guests asked to enter via Walt Disney Studios’ gate before filing around to Disneyland Park, avoiding the guests still leaving from the park. Once through the gates, the Pink Witches pounced immediately, chanting their spells and shouting their words of witchcraft to the passing guests on Town Square, holding signs proclaiming “Pink Witches – Choose your side!”

In addition to the park’s main attractions being open for guests, the usual series of special entertainment kicked off in Halloweenland (Frontierland) at the FantaStitch Stage. The Halloween Festival show “Goofy and the Magic Pot” was joined by musical performances from “Hot Couture”, the female lead singer of which gave a rousing performance trademarked by more jiggling dance moves than ever seen before inside Disneyland.

Exploring deeper into the beautifully lit park, Adventureland was the place to meet and greet characters of every kind. Whilst Jafar, Ratcliffe, Shan-Yu and more gathered by Restaurant Hakuna Matata, a massive band of Pirates (including Jack Sparrow himself) was on the rampage opposite Captain Hook’s Galley, taunting guests and jumping over and around the beach scenery. If these characters were a little too menacing, a hop over onto Adventure Isle found classic characters such as Peter Pan, Wendy and Mr. Smee, whilst the Galley featured a pirate playing bagpipes and outside Pirates of Caribbean itself a live Pirate band performed throughout the evening.

At select times during the evening, a firey cavalcade made its way through Adventureland’s Bazaar and across the Adventure Isle bridge to Pirates’ Beach, where a haunting ceremony of flames and chanting took place, culminating in a giant blast of fire into the air above the water. Despite their best attempts, Adventureland appeared intact the following morning. Back in Frontierland, more villains such as Gaston and Cruella De Vil were waiting with the Pink Witches, and all manner of strange and mysterious fantasy creatures roamed the park.

At 11.30pm, The Ghost Ship Cavalcade made its way onto the parade route at Town Square. Presented entirely by an outside performance group, the show featured Adventureland’s fire artists and pirates joined by performers in flowing white costumes (surprisingly none of which caught fire). At the end of the cavalcade, the Ghost Ship itself arrived, with acrobats hanging from the masts. The music was unique to the performance, which featured three long stops just on Main Street itself, and was perhaps reminiscent of artistic circus performances such as Cirque du Soleil. Overall, however, the crowds appeared hugely unimpressed with what most agreed was a slow and misplaced performance.

You can see the Photos Magiques video of The Ghost Ship Cavalcade here.

Similarly disappointing, perhaps, were the fireworks. 2005 saw the creation of an impressive “Sound & Light Spectacular” featuring video projections depicting the story of the Pumpkinmen and Pink Witches. This year, the theme of pirates was used to create The Black Pearl Fireworks, a simple and fairly unoriginal performance of fireworks to music from both Pirates of the Caribbean films. An exciting finale for fans of the film, but otherwise an unimpressive end to a Halloween Party that, in terms of its unique live entertainment at least, never really entertained.

You can see the Photos Magiques video of The Black Pearl Fireworks here, and more photos from throughout the evening here.

Tuesday, 7th November 2006

Christmas Tree back on Town Square!

The reason why the tree has returned to its traditional location isn’t clear yet, but one reason could be the spreading of the crowds during the Tree Lightning Ceremony.

Be sure to keep an eye out on this article as Anthony will return this evening with photos.

Sunday, 29th October 2006

Extra decoration, extra Cool

The new Cool Station snack kiosk opened back in July opposite Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, taking the concept of the recent “Coolpost” kiosk in Adventureland and applying a retro-futuristic design. Now, in a similar style to its Jungle-themed equivalent, extra Coca-Cola branded details have popped up around the location. A shiny silver coke bottle has been added to the Cool Station sign, whilst tall tables with small, futuristic canopies have been added nearby. A series of metallic crates has also appeared, showing the Coca-Cola logo in an alien language, similar to the (fake) foreign logos at the Coolpost.

Outside the park, at Disney Village, those love-them-or-loath-them balloons have spread a little further, with a cluster now decorating the Village’s second front entrance near Gaumont Cinemas. With text such as “Shopping Discoveries”, “Family Fun” and “Unique Restaurants” added to the balloons in a fairly unflattering typeface, it remains to be seen how long these will last once true Disney Village expansion and refreshment begins in a couple of years’ time.

At the old location of the Central Stage a more positive change has taken place, with the repainted buildings and cleaned-up space being brightened up further with new red and yellow banners, fairly similar to the decorations seen in 2004 and 2005 during the Chinese New Year events. These, however, seem permanent – unlike those beautiful Halloween stickers on the old column base…

More photos can be found at Joel’s Photo Hunt.

Friday, 27th October 2006

A Journey From Time To Time

Let’s begin our adventure beyond the berms 33km East of Paris, sometime between 12th April 1992 and 5th September 2004. Once inside the gates of Euro Disneyland, Disneyland Paris or Disneyland Park, we’re rushing straight for Discoveryland. At the entrance, the a circling, futuristic sundial and the impressive Reinstella draw us into Le Visionarium, the attraction proclaimed by Michael Eisner himself as his “favourite” in the entire park. When the magic begins, we’re treated to a journey through time and space, taking in great landmarks of Europe and great discoveries of the past, present and future.

The key location in the film “From Time To Time” is the towering pavillion of the 1900 Paris Expo, the “Conference sur le Future”. It was here that 9-Eye met Mr. Verne and H.G. Wells, where Verne clung onto 9-Eye to follow her through time and space, and where 9-Eye bashfully accepts a flower from the visionary master, with the location seen both in its 1900 heydey and 1990s pop-culture present.

Whilst the film and the attraction may have now been erased around the world, fans of the Timekeeper’s legendary voyage suffering from over 2 years of withdrawal should set their sights on only one place: Vienna. Here, just outside the city centre, Schloß Schönbrunn is home not only to its historic palace and zoo, but to a creation like something out of Disneyland itself. It may be a palm house, but this has now become a true piece of Disney history…

Jumping off the number 58 tram, you head into the gardens of Schönbrunn palace with an air of anticipation. Like a visit to Disneyland itself, you’re about to see something from a fictional legend come to life before your eyes, and, just as you see Space Mountain from the Eurostar or the Earful Tower from the autoroute, the Palmenhaus suddenly appears above the bushes and flowers.

Whilst the exterior of the Palmenhaus has become familiar with countless viewings of Le Visionarium, to then step inside the “Paris Expo” building is quite unique.

From the official website:

The Palm House is located on the site of the former Dutch Garden and was erected in 1881/2 to designs by Franz Xaver Segenschmid. One hundred and thirteen metres long, the Palm House consists of a 28-metre high central pavilion and two lateral pavilions which are three metres lower. Linked by tunnel-like passages, the pavilions contain different climatic zones: a ‘cold’ house to the north, a temperate zone in the central pavilion and a tropical climate in the south pavilion. The necessary temperatures are achieved by means of a steam heating system which means that rare specimens from all over the world can be grown here.

Besides the numerous stars and extras seen in the film, it’s clear that a large amount of set dressing was done to prepare the building, such as the addition of a raised entrance, clocks, banners… and French flags, of course.

This impressive iron construction used the most modern technology of its time, with the materials determining its form. The proportions of the convex and concave lines of the central and lateral pavilions are perfectly balanced and endow the iron structure with a perceptible lightness despite its massive dimensions. Inserted into the framework of the external iron construction, the glazing clings to the curved iron girders like a skin. The Schönbrunn Palm House was the last of its type to be constructed in continental Europe.

The beauty of the building speaks for itself and seeing it for real is something truly special. Bringing back memories of Le Visionarium and reminders of Discovery Arcade in Main Street, it’s always a wonderful feeling to find a little piece of magic so far from the magic kingdom itself. Almost as if they expect crazed Disneyland Resort Paris fans to visit, even the modern tickets have been produced with a design right out of the late 19th Century.

So if you’re looking for a holiday besides a visit to Disneyland itself, or need a little dose of Le Visionarium memories after 2 years of absence, why not consider Vienna. Not for museums, Mozart or the beautiful architecture, but for a special piece of magic from the history of Euro Disney.

Click here for a quick reminder of Le Visionarium.

Thursday, 26th October 2006

When Main Street moves to Orange County

Four years later, and their “Main Street: Orange County” decorations weren’t even meant to appear, until a last-minute decision just days before the festival began.

Never before have seasonal decorations caused such a stir as when the Pumpkinmen made their debut in 2003. They formed the central part of a revamped Halloween festival, which also saw the introduction of the Disney Villain Parade and the launch of a new theme song, It’s Halloween-Lo-Ween.

Only during Halloween could an Imagineering creation like Main Street USA, such a key part of Disneyland’s history, be plastered with orange paint splashes and overrun by plastic Pumpkinmen figures “frozen in time” by a Witch crashing into the Gazebo. Whilst the fans revolted, the public seemed to embrace the new characters, making the most of the new photo oppertunities and enjoying the live streetmosphere, which – horror of horrors – included Pumpkinmen painting over Main Street’s shop windows with real orange paint!

Included in the nearly one hundred Pumpkin touches around the land, we’ve got Pumpkinmen sat on false, paint-splattered benches, Pumpkinmen hanging from buildings in giant paint pots and odd Pumpkin signposts – all of which surely receiving thousands of “What the?!” remarks from guests every day. The most noticable change for 2006 is likely the addition of Stitch the Main Street Station sign, which has been rather ruthlessly cut into to show a black silhouette of Stitch. A nice effect here, though, is that smoke slowly floats out of the sign, as if Stitch has only just jumped through it.

Originally, the “frozen” Pumpkinmen figures were also designed to help blend the old Lights of Winter into the festival. Installed early to save time and money, the towering, snow flake-styled light arches were given several small orange stickers and a few Pumpkinmen to help hide the fact they were installed a month early.

Even in 2006, signs of Christmas have made their way into Halloween again, with half of the Enchanted Fairytale Illumination chandeliers installed at the Central Plaza end of Main Street: Orange County.

The illustrations here were drawn by Jérome Picoche for the 2003/04 seasons, showing the original vision for the Pumpkinmen invasion and the crash landing of Gruzella. In 2005, Gruzella was redesigned as the leader of the Pink Witches, who also now frequent Main Street at various times of the day to cause trouble with their fight against the Pumpkinmen.

Below, you can see just a small selection of the concept sketches created when Disneyland Resort Paris Creative Entertainment introduced the Pumpkinmen. The team, led by entertainment head Kat de Blois, designed each scene from scratch to suit various locations all around Main Street. Love them or loath them, it can’t be said that Pumpkinmen invasion wasn’t crafted with a lot of attention to detail.

When Main Street moves to Orange County, it might do it in a surprisingly un-mouse-house style, but it certainly does it with all the extravagance and detail we know and love as Disney, don’t you think?

You can see more photos of this Halloween on Main Street at Photos Magiques.

Tuesday, 24th October 2006

Are we still dreaming?

These two new visuals were likely intended to make their debut with the official 15th Anniversary brochure, but, as Disneyland Resort Paris have learnt all too much recently, no secrets are safe with the internet.

The two visuals focus on two different floats in the new parade. The first, which looks to be part of a larger advertisement design, features the parade’s first float: Dream of Imagination. We released a profile-angle concept art of this float back in July, but now we can get an even better glimpse at how the float will look as it makes its way down the Parade Route in 2007. The sun-shaped hot air balloon is now revealed to have a beaming face at the front, whilst the balloon features a “15” plaque and the heavily stylized moon brings memories of the slightly abstract designs of Disney Cinema Parade.

The second visual is much larger and features a view of float 4, Dream of Fantasy, as if you’re watching it approach from the curb with Pluto. The float features Captain Hook’s pirate ship at the front, followed by Wendy’s house (with Peter Pan on the roof), Big Ben and the London skyline, and finally Mary Poppins’ carousel at the rear. Mr Smee and the pirates follow the float along, whilst silhouettes of float 6, Dream of Adventure, and float 8, Dream of Romance, can be seen the background.

Antoine, who published the article featuring the visuals, also gives some extra details about the parade. Float 2 – Dream of Fun and Laughter, features a giant Alice stuck in a Wonderland house, and it appears her head will measure no less than 2.5 metres high, giving some sense of the grand scale of this parade. Several puppets will indeed be featured throughout the parade, controlled by artists inside the floats, whilst an odd new rumour is that each float will be joined by special aromas and scents as it passes along the Parade Route, a first for a Disney parade.

Are we dreaming here, or is this really happening?

Thursday, 19th October 2006

Diving deeper into the lost Mermaid attraction

The Little Mermaid attraction would have utilised a ride system very similar to Peter Pan’s Flight, except rather than flying pirate ships, guests would have travelled in large “clamobiles”, programmed to give the sensation they were being pushed and guided by currents, rather than flight.

The most talked-about feature of the attraction, though, has always been the “dry for wet” technology featured on each clamobile to simulate the clam’s dive underwater. The attraction was to have started off on dry land, at Prince Eric’s castle, and then after a few initial scenes, as Sebastien sings the lyrics from “Under the Sea”, your vehicle would have dived downwards to a lower-level show scene. As this happened, water would have flooded between two panes of glass in your clamobile to simulate the dive. Then, just before the “Kiss the Girl” scene, your clam bobs back up to the surface and floats along, with the water draining from the glass at the same time.

And now, something many Disneyland Resort Paris fans waited countless years to see – extensive concept art from this lost attraction. For the full experience with Imagineer commentary, you should buy the DVD, but in most cases these astonishing concepts speak for themselves…

Thanks again to Kristof for these screencaps!

The first image is actually one of the most interesting, showing an exterior design that never made it past rough sketches, and appearing to resemble some kind of Dumbo-style ride. The later exterior design of Prince Eric’s castle, seen as a concept model in numerous images above, shows how perfectly this undersea attraction would have mixed with Fantasia Gelati and Pizzeria Bella Notte nearby.

Although this attraction is likely lost forever, not least because of the current slew of Nemo attractions filling the void for an “undersea” theme, we can at last – after 15 years – enjoy this full sneak peek and hope that perhaps a couple of the still yet-to-be-realised ideas seen here will be featured in some way at Crush’s Coaster in June 2007.

This is the 100th post on DLRP Today!

Wednesday, 18th October 2006

The long-lost Undersea Adventure

Usually, unless you’re still a toddler, the “Games & Activities” section of Disney DVDs is the weakest of them all, but this time Disney have tried something completely different. They’ve taken the “Virtual Safari” idea from The Lion King’s DVDs and transferred the concept to a real Disney theme park attraction… almost. See, the attraction featured never actually made it off the drawing board, which makes this all the more interesting. Better still, this attraction was supposed to originally find its home in Paris, before then being transferred to other resorts if successful. Alas, like Discovery Mountain, the Indiana Jones Jungle Adventure, Splash Mountain, Toon Town and the Beauty and the Beast animatronic show, this expensive attraction was cancelled as soon as Euro Disney hit financial trouble.

Before this Autumn, the closest look we’ve had at the atraction was a quick glance at concept models during the Euro Disney Grand Opening TV special, the “F-File” articles at or the attraction’s showbuilding on Euro Disneyland’s grand opening map (seen above). Luckily, then, Disney have dug through the archives to put together one of their most eagerly anticipated DVD extras – a full, CGI ride-through of “the attraction that never was”, running 4 minutes 15 seconds. But that’s not all – the DVD also includes the option to exprience the ride-through in a split-screen version, with an Imagineer (no less than Euro Disney legend Tony Baxter himself) riding alongside, describing details and showing concept art. Finally, a featurette running 5 minutes 53 seconds features Imagineer interviews and discussion about the attraction., the online bible for Disney DVDs, described the features in their review of the DVD:

In design, the ride is not all that different from the very popular Peter Pan’s Flight. It feels very much like a real Disney park ride (complete with English and Spanish announcements after departing the queue area), though there are a few obvious differences: you don’t get to pick what you look at, but it moves slow enough to allow you to appreciate every detail (something that’s definitely not true of most of the brisk Fantasyland attractions). Also, there is no FastPass, but amazingly enough, there is no line whatsoever.
The commentary — another neat, unique touch — is provided by Tony Baxter, senior vice president at Disney Imagineering, who explains the thought that goes into designing a ride like this, from different effects to making sure that guests’ eyes are able to adjust to the dark setting. Concluding this sub-section is “Behind The Ride That Almost Was with Disney Imagineers” (5:53), a featurette which puts it all into context. Here, lots of informed interview subjects explain traits of the ride (which was put on hold in 1992) including the little touches that normally don’t get appreciated after your vehicle comes to a stop.

The “Platinum Edition” DVD will be released in the UK on the 4th November, Netherlands on 18th October and Germany on 2nd November, but is already available in France and the US, where it sold a staggering 4 million copies in its first week.

Monday, 16th October 2006

Big Thunder’s big re-opening

Reopening day itself, Saturday 14th October, was reportedly an eventful one. Scrooge at Disney Magic Interactive forum reported that just seconds after opening the whole of Frontierland was closed, before reopening a few minutes later. Big Thunder Mountain itself didn’t open until after midday, and suffered several technical problems throughout the day.

As for the refurbishment, which began on 21st August, whilst Big Thunder itself was cleaned and repainted in sections before the closure and during its early stages, impressive changes have taken place at the attraction’s loading station recently. The most noticable of these to mine train riders is the addition of new safety gates on each platform, similar to those installed in 2005 at Space Mountain: Mission 2. Unlike the gates at other attractions, though, these have been themed to fit perfectly with the attraction, with the seams of the metal bars made clearly visable to give an old-fashioned, Western style.

Outside of the station building itself, the difference between old and new is remarkable. The classic red tint on the wood has been restored to its full glory after becoming practically invisible due to years of weathering and neglect.

The ochre rockwork around the station has been cleaned just as spectacularly as the mountain itself, and the Southern sides of the queue building have had their vibrant yellow tint restored, completing the ride’s iconic Western colour scheme of brown, red, yellow and green (the wagons). Meanwhile, a new height indicator is just one of the many minor tweaks and modifications to the attraction.

The only way to truly experience the superb changes here, though, is to take a ride on “the wildest ride in the wilderness” itself. Whilst every turn presents new areas of rockwork painstakingly cleaned and repainted, one of the key scenes with a lot of new vibrancy is just after the first lift hill, where all manner of spiky cacti grow in the middle of a u-turn in the track, seen below. Finally, the moss and dirt have been removed to return the arid, desert feel to this incredible landscape.

Adjustments have, of course, been made to the more major elements of the ride, such as the roller coaster’s track (in particular the first lift hill), animatronics and special effects. Whilst some effects were reportedly not functioning this weekend, it is expected they will all return eventually.

Photos by DLRP Today, Photos Magiques, and Scrooge (Disney Magic Interactive forum).

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