“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.
Can you swing through the trees like an ape? Are you a talented gymnast with a passing resemblance to Jane Porter? Disneyland Paris is giving you another chance to make your big break — and for thousands of new park visitors to watch in amazement — as it confirms: The Tarzan Encounter will return again!
Official casting notices (PDF) have just gone out for the high-flying acr0batic stage show, with contracts running from late April to early September. Last year, the show performed from 11th June to 4th September with contracts beginning early May, so it looks like the show’s 2012 return to The Chaparral Theater will follow broadly similar dates, perhaps beginning a week or two earlier.
Auditions were launched this same week last year and the show returned to positive acclaim in June, ending a two year hiatus and finally giving the production, which began in 2000, a long-awaited tenth season. In 2009 the Frontierland stage presented the less popular Goofy’s Summer Camp, while in 2010, despite efforts to bring Tarzan back, it remained empty through the summer. Its 2011 return was therefore hailed by Disneyland Paris as quite the event, even boasting a special video trailer at the annual shareholders meeting and listing it as one of the key “highlights” at the end of the year.
We’ve already had a glimpse at the concept art for Disney Magic on Parade! thanks to some leaked images late last year, but now here they are in all their high definition, officially-endorsed glory! The 20th Anniversary preview video released by Disneyland Paris on Friday teased fans with an immediate challenge to “screencap” all the new details, and we’re only happy to oblige. As confirmed previously, only the opening and closing floats of the parade will see major cosmetic changes, but for the old “Dreams of Imagination” the difference is dramatic enough.
Gone are the sun and moon, with a pink fairytale castle, magical mirror and pumpkin carriage in their place. Though Tinker Bell will apparently be featured as an actual live character in the reworked parade, that didn’t stop entertainment slipping in a golden ‘Tink at the top of the castle. (Well, at least it’s not the castle…) The float also looks to continue the idea of embedded LED lights, introduced with the original Once Upon a Dream Parade, to give some extra sparkle even in daytime.
Princesses Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White and Belle being knocked off their former “Dreams of Romance” finale float will be reconciled with the addition of two new smaller units. Both Cinderella and Aurora will be pulled along on whimsical carriages by carousel-style horses. LED lights are again hidden amongst the flowers at the rear, while the Sleeping Beauty unit features sculptures of birds, a squirrel and even the owl, to tie it into the story.
Taking the 20th Anniversary‘s theme of “colour, lights and magic” to its absolute pinnacle will be the new finale float. Gone is that calmly-coloured green hillside. In its place, a psychedelic mix of blue, indigo and violet, forming a landscape for the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Not content with two statues celebrating the moment over at Walt Disney Studios Park, Mickey will perform his thrusting of the magic wand into the skies for real.
The costumes of all the characters here will be brand new and designed especially for the new parade. Artwork below shows Minnie, Chip, Dale, Donald, Daisy and Goofy all receiving their own, brightly-coloured “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” outfits, covered in shimmering gold thread details.
Finally, “Magic Everywhere!” was revealed just this morning by @InsideDLParis on Twitter to be the title of the new song to accompany the parade and other 20th Anniversary events. But is all this enough to convince you the old parade will be given enough “magic” to make it feel new again?
“We’re gonna bring the Second Star to the Right and ignite it above the castle…” It’s not a sentence you hear every day but, in this exciting new preview video for the 20th Anniversary released by Disneyland Paris today, Steve Davison casually drops it in amongst a plethora of other surprises. Walt Disney Imagineering’s Creative Director of Entertainment, famed for his work on Fantasmic! and World of Color, joins a number of backstage artists to tease us on the new additions for the anniversary. Show director Katy Harris tells us about the new Mickey Mouse meet ‘n’ greet, while Emmanuel Lenormand shows off detailed concept art for Disney Magic on Parade! and its new costumes.
But it’s the section on Disney Dreams! which is the most surprising — even breathtaking. Real previews are shown of the new castle projection effects, which have been in testing for some time, along with confirmation that the show will feature not just projections, not just fountains, but lasers, pyrotechnics, fire, an original musical score, and perhaps most importantly: a story! When the Second Star to the Right ignites above the castle, the “Disney Dreams” pour out and come to life in “new ways”.
Watch the exciting new preview video below!
Senior technical director Chuck Davis reveals the Imagineers at Creative Entertainment have mapped the whole castle with “pixel accurate video” so it can “do all kinds of great tricks”, while Dave Bossert confirms that water screens will be installed in front of the castle, creaing a huge new canvas for the show to take place on. Particularly interesting to note: Dave is the director of Special Projects at Walt Disney Feature Animation, showing the breadth of Disney talent being combined for this new show.
It’s a rare but incredibly welcome step for Disneyland Paris to let the talent behind its magic tell the stories of new projects like these for once. Similar videos are consistently produced for other resorts, notably California, and always serve to provide both a more exciting teaser for what’s next and a more inspiring insight into the work required to achieve it.
“So that at the end of your day, you can walk away and go: wow, that was cool!”
It’s 2012 (Happy New Year!) and time for a fresh start. For Disneyland Paris, that appears to mean several key elements of the current Disney Magical Moments Festival, marketed to run until 4th March 2012, will be cleared out early. Rumours long suggested the main Mickey’s Magical Celebration show on Central Plaza would face an early finish, due to the much detested Central Plaza Stage finally being ripped out, opening up the hub of the park ready for Dreams.
Now, here’s the confirmation: no performances from 9th January onwards! In truth, the show has had a lukewarm reception ever since last April. Notably lacking the grander spectacle of the previous Disney Showtime Spectacular, it wasn’t quite the kind of production to justify such a monolithic stage to take over the heart of the park. Initially it seemed the four large satellite “arms” of the stage might be lopped off, but now the whole stage is said to be for the chop. For stage shows, this means any future open-air productions will (quite rightly) be on the Théâtre du Château where they belong. For new nighttime spectacular Dreams, the rumour mill is still pumping: Will the removal of the stage open up the area purely for more standing room again, or could the hub become part of the show? One particularly fun (if purely fabricated) rumour is for a “magic” dancing fountain to take the place of the former flower bed. To be honest, even being able to walk across and use the plaza as a “hub”, rather than an impermeable roundabout, seems an exciting prospect at this point.
Making it all the way to the 4th March end date, but not continuing beyond that date, will be the “interactive” show stops of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, the temporary Tangled meet ‘n’ greet location for Rapunzel and, surprisingly, the small Following the Leader with Peter Pan show in Adventureland. That event was perhaps the most appreciated of all the new “moments” in 2011. For Rapunzel, we must presume she will simply join the other princesses in the new Princess Pavilion.
Here’s a little relief for anyone planning a trip to in the next three months, before the launch of the 20th Anniversary: Disneyland Paris has confirmed to us that the parade route won’t be left empty while the current Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade undergoes its makeover into the new Disney Magic on Parade!. Some may have feared such a transition would require the original 15th Anniversary parade to take a leave of absence before its 1st April 2012 relaunch.
The production will, however, be left without two of its key floats for much of the period — those which have been previously confirmed to see more extensive redesigns. From 9th January until the launch of Disney Magic on Parade! on 1st April, the opening “Dreams of Imagination” unit will be missing as it is transformed into a new float for Disney’s fairies and sorcerers. The storybook base will remain, but a fairytale castle will replace the iconic smiling Moon and hot air balloon Sun which have hosted Mickey Mouse and the other VIPs since 2007. Mickey and friends will instead be given prime position on the former “Dreams of Romance: Finale” unit, which will be taken out of service from 16th January until the launch of the new parade. The current fairytale hillside and crystal château look will be turned into a Fantasia-esque pink and blue landscape, with golden broomsticks dotting the cliff side, Sorcerer Mickey standing atop the peak and the other characters in similar sorcerer-esque costumes.
It is likely the characters from these two units will continue to feature in the parade but as walking dance units, similar to when floats have been taken out for refurbishment or maintenance.
Concept art for the new units, above, was leaked earlier this month via the Dutch Café Mickey forums.
Princess fans will be reassured that the final unit’s commandeering by Mickey Mouse won’t mean a lack of Disney royalty in the new parade. Instead, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen will permanently join Ariel and Prince Eric on the “Dreams of Romance: Prelude” unit, as will newly-christened royalty Rapunzel and Flynn, from Disney’s Tangled, who replace Aladdin and Jasmine on the unit. Cinderella and Snow White, along with their respective princes, will follow up on stylised horse-drawn carriages.
Additional new characters will also be added for the revised opening float: Tinker Bell, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather (the Three Fairies from Sleeping Beauty), the Fairy Godmother (from Cinderella), the Blue Fairy (from Pinocchio) and Merlin (from The Sword in the Stone). No changes have been announced for the other five floats of the original parade. New costumes and a new soundtrack are expected throughout, although rumours also suggest that the “Dreams of Power” villain unit will be removed from the new parade, possibly returning only for Halloween.
Halloween 2011 Preview — Something strange has come over Disneyland Paris. As we approach the launch of Disney’s Halloween Festival this Saturday, you’ll see not a hastily-crafted static Pumpkinman in sight. Instead, the decorations are new, the pumpkins have ears and Castle Stage… has come back to life. At last this season appears to be heading in the right direction. After years trailing around misguided creations such as the Pumpkinmen, Pink Witches and Stitch, Paris — the Disney resort which pioneered the Halloween season in 1997 (before trashing it all with orange paint in 2003) — has now looked to Disneyland in California for inspiration. This year, we’re seeing brand new decorations lifted directly from the Anaheim park’s popular HalloweenTime. High quality, considerately-designed and most importantly more “Disney” in their execution as well as their style, they should go a long way to giving Disneyland Paris guests the Halloween they expect from the park.
For fans, it’s a double surprise. As well as a park plussed rather than spoilt by the season, the majority of those new decorations have so far arrived at Le Théâtre du Château, which will be coming back to life to host the new Mickey’s Halloween Treat in the Street event. Vines wrap their way around the bronze columns, pumpkins top the towers and a giant Mickey-shaped pumpkin head (similar to that on Town Square in California) is the centrepiece. The mini-show will feature the full line-up of Mickey and friends in special costumes and dialogue in both French and English. After highlighting several times this year what a wasted opportunity the stage is, it’s a delight to see it fully decorated and back in use.
Plans for Main Street, U.S.A. seem a little lower spec, with just colour-coordinated flower beds, Mickey-eared pumpkins and a spot of bunting on the concept we’ve seen, but it’s still a step up from last year’s near complete lack of Halloween decoration on the street. Hopefully now that Disneyland Paris has finally found the right path for its Halloween decorations, Main Street will gradually begin to match the warm and vibrant Harvest “Pumpkin Festival” theme seen in California (below).
Meanwhile, one old decision hangs on, for a little while longer at least: Central Plaza Stage. That behemoth will at least be hosting a big new show, titled Disney’s Maleficious Halloween Party, which amongst other surprises is said to see Snow White’s Evil Queen transform into a Witch, courtesy of the stage lifts, and Dr Facilier from The Princess and the Frog return to the park.
Rumour suggests Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade won’t feature its usual Halloween pre-parade this year, although Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas will be making a return for meet ‘n’ greets, despite not being mentioned in any publicity. It remains to be seen if Halloweenland will return to Frontierland in any form. In truth, the land has felt more like a boneyard for discarded decorations rather than a proper overlay for the past few years, anyway. A cleaning out of the junk and a shot in the arm in quality is exactly what the festival needed.
The theatre has sat at the back of Fantasyland, connected to the Railroad Station, with only very limited use for more than a decade now. Whilst it began life in 1992 as a key venue hosting the classic C’est Magique musical revue, since 2006 only occasional seasonal performances of the show Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too have occupied the small stage. Taking over this under-utilised space, which is never going to be good for grand stage shows, whilst giving the mouse his own dedicated spot actually sounds like a logical and wise proposition. Why the magic puns? Because if you’re a follower of Disney Parks worldwide, you’ll know all about the new “Backstage Magic with Mickey Mouse” meet ‘n’ greet that recently opened on Main Street at Florida’s Magic Kingdom (photos via Disney Parks Blog).
This new attraction, which even comes with its own Fastpass service, leads visitors through a fabulously-themed queue space littered with props and in-jokes — even a crate marked “Marne-la-Vallée – Paris” — with the storyline that you’re meeting Mickey Mouse, now a magician, backstage…
While the idea is somewhat tenuously planted into Main Street (and was unpopular with some, at least before its debut revealed the great detail), you couldn’t have a more perfect set-up for the location in Paris. Not just a real theatre, not just in the very fitting British quarter of the land, but in Fantasyland, where the characters truly belong. There’s little clue yet whether the European version will have such an extravagant set-up, or its own Fastpass tickets, but the two projects are certainly related and we should look forward to this new, more “magical” backstage encounter with the Mouse from next year.
In fact, it may well be our fourth new addition for the 20th and our second new permanent meet ‘n’ greet, as we mustn’t forget the Princess Pavilion that slowly continues its delayed construction across the land, in the former post-show area of “it’s a small world”. More news on that one soon…
Try not to feel too much like the child who gets an action figure of Jar Jar Binks instead of Han Solo for Christmas here — Star Wars has made an official return to Discoveryland! Yes, Disneyland Park just welcomed the official return of Star Wars characters Darth Vader and Chewbacca, who are now even listed on the daily park Programme times guide (PDF) appearing near Star Tours. Last year, the pair were spotted on the odd occasion near the 1987 classic but their presence was never given a definite time or location. For fans of the saga, the pair’s return will be especially appreciated, coming just in time for the Blu-Ray re-release of the films, and it really helps to give the parks’ character offering that much more variety and widespread appeal than the usual animated stars.
We’d have preferred the updated, multi-destination, 3-D Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, that just opened in May and June at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland respectively (just FYI, Euro Disney SCA), but maybe this at least gives us “A New Hope” that Disneyland Paris still knows the George Lucas universe is a hot property to have within its gates.
See Chewie and Darth most days (currently at 11:30, 12:30, 13:30 and 15:45) this Summer!
This time, it wasn’t cancelled! Long-running favourite The Tarzan Encounter leapt back into The Chaparral Theater exactly as promised from 11th June. Despite the two-year hiatus, during which an entirely different Summer show was presented at the venue (the poorly-received Goofy’s Summer Camp), the show has returned looking entirely familiar. Thankfully, this includes the blackout curtains around the sides of the open-air theatre, allowing for much more impressive lighting of the more dramatic scenes, as seen in the photo from Bert Snyers’ excellent Flickr set, above.
It isn’t known if the show will return for another unexpected encore season in 2012, so make sure to enjoy the acrobatics, dance and multilingual Phil Collins music all over again while you can. Let’s show Disneyland Paris how much we prefer a good show in a proper theatre! Currently showing at 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 16:15 and 17:15, Tarzan and friends will be Trashin’ the Camp until 4th September.
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