Wednesday, 29th February 2012

Central Plaza tent encampment falls with no surprises, ground works almost complete

The tents have gone from Central Plaza! Ever since a camp of five tents sprung up on the plaza at the start of February, the expected panic of those with impending visits — who just have to get that photo — has ensued. If that’s you, you’ll be glad to know this isn’t some “Lead Day” anomaly, the tents have served their purpose and been taken down. Insert brilliant current affairs reference to the end of the Occupy London camp here. Structured as one giant tent in the middle of the plaza with four smaller marquees over each of the wings, this crucial weather protection has allowed workers to continue through freezing temperatures as they relay the floor across Central Plaza.

This followed the dismantling of the former stage which dominated the area, having become unpopular with both fans and, apparently, management — especially as removing it frees up more vital viewing space for Disney Dreams!. Despite the effort gone to to protect the construction site, the results don’t appear too dramatic at all. Looking at some photos taken underneath the construction walls today, it appears the pathways have been rebuilt with the same regular pavement concrete as the rest of Main Street, U.S.A. without any major change. Railings and lampposts appear the same, if freshly repainted, though there does appear to be one missing element: the central flower bed.

Of course, removing this frees up even more space, but it does mean this is a Disneyland Park without a Partners Statue nor anything else at its heart. May we suggest a statue of Steve Davison, pointing to the skies above the castle?

PHOTO @cgonier VIA @InsideDLParis

Tuesday, 28th February 2012

Mystery of the ‘Disney Dreams!’ water screen towers, rising from the castle moat

Now you see them, now you… still see them. But soon you won’t. Besides the 50 or so fountains now installed in the moat of Sleeping Beauty Castle for Disney Dreams!, two enormous other water effects have recently made their mark on this fairytale landscape. In the middle of the moat on either side of the bridge, a towering steel construction rises above the heads of passing guests. Camouflaged, for now, into the grey cliffside and stone walls of the castle from a distance, their size is nevertheless impressive. Their use is no mystery at all: these are the two vital water screens to be used throughout the show.

Water will be pumped at high pressure up the large pipe at the rear of the tower, before hitting the curved, semi-circular head of the tower at enough velocity to erupt upwards in a fine, fan-shaped spray, creating a perfect projection screen. Before this happens, however, the pipe will be elevated even further into the air at the start of each show using compressed air and a pneumatic lift inside its main support beam, lifting it to perhaps almost double the height seen here.

Projectors positioned behind each tower, now being squeezed into the rockwork and stone wall of the castle, will project images to accompany those mapped across the castle, expanding and completing the scene. The show will notably open with Peter Pan projected on one screen and Wendy on the other, as the Second Star to the Right shines from the castle’s top window above.

Since the photos here by ThemeParkZone.es were taken on 16th February, the towers have been fully connected up ready for testing and the moat refilled to around half its depth, so their excellent photo update is a great last chance to see all the Disney Dreams! equipment before it was hidden by water.


So, the only mystery here now is how these giant steel towers will be hidden. It was expected before work began that they might rise and sink completely into the water, but the towers are clearly permanently installed at this height. Since they haven’t been painted before installation, it will now be a case of cladding or wrapping them in a themed finish to match the environment. RadioDisneyClub.fr has reported that a company fittingly called Neverland Themepark Decorations could be working on the final design; their website states them to be specialists in themed concrete creations…

VIA ThemeParkZone.es

Monday, 27th February 2012

First 20th Anniversary Extended Hours revealed: 9.30, 10.30, 11pm bedtimes ahead in April!

April is a busy month for Disneyland Paris, but it’s also outside of the main summer high season. For years that has meant, no matter how busy the parks, you’d see no fireworks and certainly stay no later than 10pm — 8 or 9pm on weekdays. The Extended Hours announced for the 20th Anniversary — primarily to make sure Disney Dreams! can be performed under darkness — promised to change that and revolutionise the annual calendar of the resort. Well, here we go.

Park opening hours for the first half of April 2012 have now been published (check them here), giving us our first look at exactly what “Extended Hours” mean. The first two weekends of April now see Disneyland Park open until 10.30pm, giving up to an hour and a half more time than the same period last year (check our archived hours here). On the weekend of the 14th and 15th, that extends further to the magical 11pm; the first 11pm closing time in April for almost two decades. Meanwhile weekdays see a solid 9.30pm closing time, again an increase of up to an hour and a half on last year.

It’s important to note that these Extended Hours are really just regular park opening hours… extended. Merely a way to promote the longer hours required to see darkness fall over Sleeping Beauty Castle — and all those Disney Dreams! effects come to life. The unconnected Extra Magic Hours, which are available in the morning, continue for Disney Hotel guests and Annual Passport Dream holders.

These new hours not only add a great deal more value to park tickets (and particularly resort hotel stays), they herald the moment where Disneyland Paris is ready to grow up, to start acting like a real Disney park. Previously weighted far too heavily towards the two summer months of July and August, the resort’s old calendar saw pretty much the entire rest of the year besides Christmas relegated to “off season”. If you wanted the “full Disney experience” of later hours, darkness falling over Main Street and nighttime entertainment, you had to wait until summer — and stump up the prices to match. Now, that full Disney experience will be available every day and every night of the year.

• Flashback: See the very first Euro Disneyland opening times from 1992 here!

Friday, 24th February 2012

New ‘Disney Dreams!’ promo photos, press release promise “explosion of lights and colours”

The buzz for Disney Dreams! has finally hit the Disneyland Paris press website, with both a complete press release for the new nighttime show and several publicity photos from recent after-hours tests. Showing simply a multi-coloured test projection on Sleeping Beauty Castle and a burst of pyrotechnics radiating outwards from behind the château, they’re hardly the most revealing sneak peeks, but at least confirm the surprisingly important presence of fireworks in the show. Disneyland Paris has long had problems with the noise and cost of fireworks, limiting them to just two summer months and special events. Since we all really thought the fountains, projections and other effects would be there to make up for a move away from pyrotechnics, avoiding those perceived problems, it’s exciting to see that they will truly be an important element of the new, nightly and year-round spectacular.

A third image was also released alongside these two, and has been published elsewhere online. However, a quick look at the flowery projections on the castle — and more tellingly the photo’s EXIF data — reveals it was taken at 23:05 on 13th July 2011, in other words during The Enchanted Fireworks, so probably doesn’t offer a glimpse at Disney Dreams! at all.

What does come packed with information about this 20th Anniversary spectacular, though, is a new press release dedicated to the show. Detailing the music, the story and all the “elements” it’s a revealing read — but only in French. Lucky then we’ve translated it all into English!

Complete translated press release follows… Read More…

Saturday, 18th February 2012

Sing along to “Magic Everywhere!” – Disneyland Paris’ new 20th Anniversary parade anthem

That awkward moment when… your shareholders’ Annual General Meeting is interrupted by a gang of 14 Disney characters and 10 dancers, jumping along to the latest high-energy parade number. Well, it has almost become an annual tradition! And so it was the shareholders, attending Friday’s meeting at the Disney’s Newport Bay Club Convention Centre, who got the very first listen to “Magic Everywhere!” — the new theme song for Disney Magic on Parade! and the 20th Anniversary as a whole.

Beginning “Yeah yeah yeah, celebrate the magic!”, the song, produced by Disneyland Paris music impresario Vasile Sirli, combines all the essential elements of a perfect Disney parade anthem. Rhyming couplets, references to storybooks, twinkly “pixie dust” sounds, it’s all there. The song also makes specific reference to “celebrating 20 years of joy and laughter”. Luckily for those unable to attend the meeting, the first play was captured on video (embedded below). What are your first impressions?

Accompanying the song, the small show also gave the audience a first look at the new “sorcerer”-themed costumes for Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Chip, Dale, Goofy and Pluto, as well as the new Blue Fairy who will help open the refreshed parade.

Video featuring “Magic Everywhere!” and full lyrics follow… Read More…

Friday, 17th February 2012

‘Disney Dreams!’ story scenes revealed: From the Second Star to a shadow on the loose

We know that Disney Dreams! means fountains, fire, projections, lasers and much more, but what story will all these elements be telling? This morning’s Euro Disney S.C.A. Annual General Meeting naturally put Disneyland Paris’ 20th Anniversary and its new nighttime show in the spotlight, revealing some key plot points along the way. Fans tweeting live from the event shared details of the five key “acts” making up the show as they were announced, all appearing to relate back to the storyline of Peter Pan and his shadow. While the show will combine many of the best elements of other Disney nighttime spectaculars (and then some), it could be this narrative, threading the entire thing together, that sets it apart.

An opening act titled The Magic of the Second Star will surely be the grand moment when the “second star to the right” of Peter Pan fame ignites at the top of Sleeping Beauty Castle, causing pixie dust to pour out across the castle’s façade and open up the Disney Dreams.


Pixie dust pours out from the yet-to-shine Second Star

We actually got a glimpse of this in the earlier promo video, where projection tests (pictured above) showed pixie dust apparently pouring out from the tallest tower and engulfing the castle. In the final show, that top window will be glowing with the bright light of the “second star” itself: the effect was installed behind its stained glass star just a few weeks ago. What exactly this “effect” consists of is currently unknown — spotlights, ultra-bright LEDs? — but it has become a key theme of all the 20th Anniversary imagery. Showing a desire to make sure the castle is part of the show, rather than just a flat projection surface, the idea is clever: since the castle has always had a star on its uppermost window, why not make that the “second star to the right” for this show? When it does come to life, it’ll be like it has been hiding there all along, for the past 20 years, just waiting to be ignited…

Scene 2, The Shadow at Play, hints at the importance of Peter Pan’s shadow to the plot. Could he be engaged in a George (CinéMagique) or Donald Duck (Philharmagic)-style trail across Disney classics to retrieve his missing darker side? Perhaps pursued by Captain Hook along the way? Scene 3, Free to Dream, and scene 4, Shadow Battle, hint at what could be lighter and darker elements of the show. The “battle” in particular would be a good call for those fire effects. However, films including Ratatouille, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Jungle Book have all been confirmed to be part of the show, showing a wide spread of stories and characters beyond the usual princesses and villains.

Finally, the finale: Dreams Can Take Us Anywhere. And yet, even with these titles and everything we know so far, we still don’t know quite where they’ll take us. Let the anticipation continue…

VIA @DisneyGazetteFr (Twitter)

Thursday, 16th February 2012

‘Disney Dreams!’ fountains fill castle moat as installation project fights winter freeze

The Disney Dreams! are well on their way, and the most anticipated element of this all-new nighttime spectacular surely has to be: the fountains. A show made of jumping water in the castle moat once seemed a thing of fantasy but, as these latest photos from DisneyGazette.fr confirm, it’s fast becoming a reality. Technical equipment low litters the entire moat of Sleeping Beauty Castle, dotting its length with mysterious brown boxes and running a ring of water jets around its perimeter.

Even as rainwater has frozen solid on the drained bed, work hurries ahead to install the piece of this 20th Anniversary spectacular. So what exactly are we looking at? As expected, it’s a more modest array of wet effects than the enormous (and almost entirely water-based) World of Color, and the fountains installed so far can roughly be grouped into three types of kit…

First up: those long, rectangular boxes, with a bronze spout poking out one end, will be the show’s main fountains. Creating a vertical wall of water running across the width of Central Plaza, extending all the way from the entrance to La Tanière du Dragon to the wishing well and Le Théâtre du Château, they will likely be illuminated from below using a ring of colour-changing LED lights fixed around the spout. There’s a chance some of these 40-or-so fountains will have different capabilities, perhaps the ability to move, as their set-up seems to slightly differ in one or two places.

Meanwhile the moat, usually a protective ring around its neighbouring fortress itself, has been encircled by curious and very long rods of smaller spouts. Connected via a single pipe and tube, there are three of these installations with two on the left side of the drawbridge (either side of the Dragon’s bridge) and one larger array on the right (seen in the first photo above).

Likely to be much lower powered, these spouts will probably be used to add “bulk” to the base of the water display, either as jets of water or more likely a mist effect. Rather than a line of solitary fountains shooting up from the castle moat, this should create a more magical haze of water coming to life in the moat, which can itself be illuminated to add dramatic effect.

Finally, two huge brown boxes at the far ends, either side of the display, are easiest to decipher. These high-powered jets come in two sets of six fountains, their workings specially enclosed as one complete unit. Apparently capable of shooting at least as high as the castle itself (!) we’re guessing thanks to compressed air, another technique brought in from World of Color, they are arranged as five fountains around a central, tallest jet. These incredible fountains were highlight in pink on the show scene model, below, revealed in the recent promo video.

Again, rather than having the castle stand solitary, these tall jets matching its height will help to “bulk out” the spectacle, making it a far more impressive and immersive experience.

A major point of difference with World of Color is that all these fountains have been fixed directly to the concrete bed of the moat. In California, the vast expanse of fountains is laid out across two platforms capable of being lifted out of the water for maintenance, rather than having to drain the entire Paradise Bay lagoon. In Paris, luckily, draining a smaller, shallower fairytale moat is much less daunting task.

If only the same could be said for the challenge now: correctly wiring up and testing each of these new fountains, in time for April 1st!

MORE PHOTOS DisneyGazette.fr

Saturday, 11th February 2012

‘Disney Magic on Parade!’ soft opening from 26th March; more music, float details

Want to get an early look at the reborn Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, due to officially premiere 1st April 2012? Those brave enough to visit in the late March transition period will be duly rewarded: the new Disney Magic on Parade! is reportedly scheduled to begin performances from Monday, 26th March. This is, of course, unconfirmed by Disneyland Paris, but similar events in recent years have also had a “soft opening” or bedding-in period in the week prior to their launch. Radically redesigned opening and closing floats will be seen for the first time, while the new theme song will make its park debut.

Titled “Magic Everywhere!”, the tune is around four minutes long and was apparently put together by a team who have previously worked on several Disney Channel hits. Along with the brighter floats and costumes, this certainly suggests the revitalised parade will be aiming for a punchier style than the more refined Once Upon a Dream Parade, which originally launched for the 15th Anniversary in 2007.

Meanwhile, though concept art revealed in a promo video showed two of the new princess carriages being designed to carry Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Snow White, it has now been confirmed that modern favourite Belle, of Beauty and the Beast, will join them on a carriage of her own. Quite right, too! Less popular will be the decision to cut the current “Dreams of Power” villain unit completely, its last performance being 25th March. There is suggestion it could be added back as a Halloween extra but, as one of the most impressive floats of the original parade, it will be sorely missed.

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Thursday, 2nd February 2012

Central Plaza swaps unpopular stage for temporary tents as remodel hits sub-zero weather

If you’re reading this in Europe, no doubt you’ve felt a very seasonal but very sharp chill in the air this past week as winter has belatedly made its mark. Disney Parks, magical as they are, aren’t exempt from wild fluctuations of temperature either, which can lead to such surprising measures as this: covering the whole of Central Plaza in a series of temporary tents to make sure its remodel meets the deadline. With the over-dominating stage now consigned to history, the plaza has been left open and levelled for the first time since 2006. Disneyland Paris now faces the daunting prospect of ensuring it is completely rebuilt ready for the premiere of Disney Dreams! in less than two months.

The encampment grew from a single, open-sided tent on Tuesday to three tents on Wednesday (below right) and eventually five, fully-enclosed tents today (bottom). Surprisingly, the whole area had been completely flattened, with all existing concrete dug up and railings taken down.


But is this a simple case of repaving? Conspiracy theories abound: forums and Twitter have been buzzing with the belief that Disney must be hiding something inside these structures. Rumours from last year of a new fountain on Central Plaza, that could function normally during the day but burst into multi-coloured life as part of the new nighttime show, were immediately resurrected. However, plans for the programming of the “fountain package” featured in the 20th Anniversary preview video didn’t appear to show any such addition; the middle of the plaza was left entirely empty.

Temperatures in Marne-la-Vallée for the next week are forecast for highs of 0°C and crippling lows of -8°C tonight, so the tents themselves are surely just sensible precautions to ensure the work is completed on time. As for the remodel itself, one thing we’d particularly like to see would be the lampposts around the middle of the plaza replaced with lower, shoulder-height lamps just like those in the specially-built World of Color viewing area in California, for example. For 20 years, guests have had their views of castle shows and fireworks impeded by those poorly-placed bulbs.

With the inner circle of lampposts — and much of the plaza — now hidden inside these mysterious tents, how will the heart of the park look when they come down…?

PHOTOS VIA @InsideDLParis

Saturday, 21st January 2012

Disney Characters All Star Party Express to return… as 20th Anniversary Celebration Train


Time for lemonade and Cracker Jacks, Casey Junior’s back, Casey Junior’s back!” — You didn’t think he’d miss the 20th Anniversary, did you? Yes, the endlessly reincarnated train, last seen as the Disney Dance Express, will return again from April 2012!

At least this time, for the first time since his return as the Disney Characters’ Express five years ago, Disneyland Paris decided against giving him “new attraction” billing in the brochure. Too busy ramping the colour saturation up to “maximum”, perhaps.

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