Friday, 23rd March 2012

Tony Baxter Imagineering Masterclass leads confirmed April 12th events programme

Tony Baxter, 1992 (C) Disney

Planning to celebrate the exact date of Disneyland Paris’ 20th Anniversary, on 12th April 2012? You’re not the only one. We’ve now had it confirmed that Tony Baxter will be present at the park, in person, on the heralded date. Senior Vice President of Creative Development at Walt Disney Imagineering and the original lead creative force behind Disneyland Paris, the legendary Imagineer will answer questions and talk about the history of the park during a special “Imagineering Masterclass” at Videopolis Theatre from 10.45am to 11.45am. Places are open to all but strictly limited to the size of the venue.

Given his legendary status amongst Disneyland Paris fans, having led the overall design of the park and its five key show producers — Eddie Sotto (Main Street, U.S.A.), Jeff Burke (Frontierland), Chris Tietz (Adventureland), Tom Morris (Fantasyland) and Tim Delaney (Discoveryland), it looks set to be an unmissable hour. After the presentation, which will include a Q&A for fans to put their own questions to Tony, video screens inside Videopolis will continue to play archive footage from the resort’s history throughout the day.

Also scheduled for the grand date is a special morning event held by Philippe Gas. The company CEO himself will welcome guests to the park with a personal ceremony on Town Square at 9.30am, to be followed by a much-rumoured — and now officially announced — Cast Member “flashmob”.

The exact details of this moment of music and dance remain a secret, but Cast Members have voluntarily signed up to give their time for the occasion. Park gates will open at 9.00am to allow guests into Town Square, in advance of the ceremony, with the park itself officially opening at 10am. Extra Magic Hours on this date will be held instead at Walt Disney Studios Park — but you’re not going to trade a one-off date in history for a shorter queue at Crush’s Coaster, are you?

Character fans should look out for special one-off happenings and surprises all around the park throughout the day, including appearances from some of the more rarely seen Disney characters. All of these events and times will be listed in a special edition of the park Programme.

For collectors, besides special editions of the free Park Guide leaflets which will only be available on April 12th, there will even be dated merchandise. On sale in strictly limited quantities, a “golden key” pin and both a male and female T-shirt design, pictured above, all with the 12th April 2012 date.

Those who took a gamble and booked trips to coincide with the date, having no guarantee that it would even be commemorated, have certainly been duly rewarded. And for those who hesitated, this surprising programme of events may well be more than enough to encourage a last-minute trip. But given the very late nature of this announcement, it could now be difficult — and perhaps expensive — for those who can’t easily jump on the next RER train to experience the date for themselves at just three weeks’ notice, especially as it falls within the busy Easter holiday period.

Do you plan to be there to mark the date, and experience these events for yourself?

Thursday, 22nd March 2012

2012 or ’92? New Central Plaza in sunshine resets the clock on timeless view

Central Plaza and Sleeping Beauty Castle (C) Nicolas71

Since Monday, guests have been able to walk right across Central Plaza for the first time since 2006. But these photos, taken Tuesday by Nicholas71 on Disney Central Plaza, almost seem to reset the clock even further. Be it the wide, open plaza, the fresh green grass, the newly-restored Sleeping Beauty Castle or the recent tree clearance over on the Fantasyland side of this famous view, it almost looks like we’re stepping into the park for the very first time again. Truly a vast improvement on the closed gates and obstructive stage guests have had to navigate around for too many years.

On Central Plaza itself, benches have returned to the middle of the plaza for the first time in almost six years, making it once again the perfect place for meeting and people watching. Meanwhile, two lampposts on the castle side are now curiously absent, their bases covered by green boxes.

They’re not the only things missing from this view: tree clearance over by the Fantasyland Gate (far-right of the photo) has uncovered the walled kingdom in the distance, while at least two cuboid trees have been completely removed from the right-hand side of the castle. Both changes could either be in preparation for Disney Dreams!, or just part of the habitual “resetting the clock” which Disney does; replanting or removing trees which have grown too big for the fixed scale of the park.

Central Plaza and Sleeping Beauty Castle (C) Nicolas71

Looking back towards Main Street, U.S.A., the new “Parks Landscaping Department” show control building for Disney Dreams! blends seamlessly into the town. The old show control kiosk, on the left of the plaza, remains in place for now. As for the plaza, the improvement speaks for itself.

PHOTOS Nicholas71 (Disney Central Plaza)

Wednesday, 21st March 2012

‘Disney Dreams!’ Second Star to the Right spotted shining brightly for first time

 'Disney Dreams!' Second Star to the Right (C) @Tobiasfl

There have been several reported sightings, but now the all-important Second Star the Right for Disney Dreams! has finally been caught on camera. Late last night, @Tobiasfl observed the ethereal glow from across the fields in Val d’Europe, shining with a spectacular brightness from the top window of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Two Instagram photos below show it first piercing the nighttime sky alone, then joined by the full force of the new nighttime spectacular’s illuminated fountains.

'Disney Dreams!' Second Star to the Right (C) @Tobiasfl'Disney Dreams!' Second Star to the Right (C) @Tobiasfl

While sightings of tests for fireworks, projections, water effects and other elements have been coming thick and fast over recent weeks, the centrepiece star has been notable by its absence. Plans unveiled by Steve Davison at the presentation he gave to the shareholders’ Annual General Meeting revealed it to be not simply a bright light, hidden behind the window, but a three-dimensional star that would actually manoeuvre outwards. According to this plan, the iconic window was due to be replaced with a new variation capable of opening in the centre to allow the star to emerge.

'Disney Dreams!' Second Star to the Right (C) ChroniqueDisney.frSleeping Beauty Castle window (C) Disneyland Paris - Fans Facebook

The window has indeed seen several changes over recent weeks, requiring the temporary removal of its golden ornament, with the latest incarnation above. Previously a real stained-glass window with a protective layer on top, it now appears far flatter but more colourful. A faux stained glass effect, like the windows in the Princess Pavilion, no doubt — but is there an opening there for the star to reveal itself? The mysteries surrounding this mythical object of the nighttime sky continue…

With the star now shining at least, that completes the entire range of effects for Disney Dreams!, all installed and ready for showtime. Posting his most recent project update to Facebook on Saturday, creative director Steve Davison wrote: “Well, I’m almost done with another 6 day, work all night, programming week. The show is coming along great. All the systems are online (the fire system came on tonight) and what we’re seeing on the Castle is very, very exciting! We’re now in the final home stretch! Can’t wait for you all to see the final product.”

PHOTOS 1-2 @Tobiasfl (Twitter), PHOTO 3 Chronique Disney, PHOTO 4 DLP – Fans (Facebook)

Sunday, 11th March 2012

First look: ‘Disney Dreams!’ fountains shoot into the sky, viewed from Disneyland Hotel

'Disney Dreams!' fountain tests seen from Disneyland Hotel [(C) Jérémy, DCP]

Disney Dreams! will have stunning projections, pyrotechnics, fire, a brand new orchestral score — the lot. But there’s no mistaking the most anticipated element of this 20th Anniversary spectacular: the fountains. And so the grand prize goes to Jérémy on Disney Central Plaza forum who, at 24 minutes past midnight, made Disneyland Paris history by posting the first clear photo of those 40-or-so main fountains shooting into the sky around Sleeping Beauty Castle. Taken from Disneyland Hotel, overlooking the park during nighttime testing, it’s the very first preview of what a Steve Davison fountain array looks like surrounding a Disney castle. Something you won’t see anywhere else in the world.

The height of the water erupting from those nondescript jets is incredible, easily as high as the main window at the top of the castle — and these aren’t even the most powerful jets. Twelve further nozzles, six on either side of the moat, will use a compressed air technique to intermittently blast water a good few metres more into the sky, apparently higher than the castle itself. And then we have to add the two enormous water screens on top, to complete the scene’s liquid special effects. The proximity to the castle is unusual and certainly dramatic, raising all kinds of questions — for example, what will happen to performances during high winds?

Lit here simply with a purple glow from below, the fountain array at this moment thankfully gives few spoilers for the actual show. It is simply an awe-inspiring glimpse of what’s to come.

PHOTO Jérémy (Disney Central Plaza)

Saturday, 10th March 2012

St David’s Welsh Festival underway with special day of music, costume and fireworks

Disney doesn’t have a Welsh dragon in its repertoire of characters, but Mushu is only too happy to get his face on the cover of today’s special programme for St David’s Welsh Festival, a three-day event happening at Disneyland Paris this weekend. Though the festival officially runs from the 9th to 11th this year, providing the perfect weekend package for visitors from Wales, the main day of events within Disneyland Park itself is today. The programme itself is similar to previous years, though with Meet Mickey Mouse seeing the end of Fantasy Festival Stage‘s days as an actual theatre, the traditional Welsh folk choir has been displaced to the somewhat less fitting Chaparral Theatre in Frontierland.

In fact, the whole Cottonwood Creek Ranch area has been overrun by green, red and white; now the base for face painting, the Waun Ddyfal Choir and meet ‘n’ greets with Mickey and Minnie in their very exclusive Welsh folk costumes, above; a real rarity for character spotters that you’ll only see here.


At 4.30pm, before the main Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, the traditional Welsh Festival pre-parade saw Mickey and Minnie travel down Main Street, U.S.A. in the bright red fire truck, decked out with Welsh flags, daffodils and leeks. In Disney Village, the avenue is filled with wooden market stalls selling all manner of Welsh crafts and merchandise. Then, as the park closes its gates at 10pm, the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle comes alive with the special firework display to mark the occasion… albeit over a week late — St David’s Day itself always falls on 1st March.

The event is somewhat of an oddity in the annual calendar of the resort; one of only three national holidays recognised by the parks, including St Patrick’s Day and the Bastille Day fireworks, yet nowhere near as globally recognised as either as those. Falling conveniently in early March, however, it no doubt helps to fill a gap in the year, drawing in coach trips and extra custom from Wales, providing something fresh before the new Disney year in Paris traditionally begins each April.

Last year, Disneyland in California held a similar series of events at its comparable Big Thunder Ranch under the Family Fun Weekends name, with some nice branding and design work that Disneyland Paris could do well to be inspired by for its own celebration days.

MORE PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Friday, 9th March 2012

“Do You Believe”, the new 20th Anniversary Celebration Train theme song – listen here!

Do you believe Disneyland Paris could have two brand new theme songs in a single 20th Anniversary year? You should — joining “Magic Everywhere” on the parade route from 1st April 2012 will be “Do You Believe”, a jazzy new chanson for Disney’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Train. After a year as the luminous Disney Dance Express, the old Character Express will return to its roots as a more conventional street cavalcade to transport the Disney characters up to Central Plaza. But alas, “Tous en Train”, the popular former soundtrack adapted from Tokyo Disneyland, which was remixed to breaking point with each consecutive re-theme of the train, is no more.

In its place, “Do You Believe” is a fresh new song by Scott Erickson, the go-to guy for Disney park entertainment songs who previously penned“Mickey’s Magical Party Time” for Disneyland Paris. Scott posted about the new music on his personal website in January, announcing: “I wrote a song with Valerie Vigoda that will be used in a character parade several times each day around the park. I’m always excited to get to work with my good friend, the music director at the park, Vasile Sirli!”

More of a self-contained song than the endlessly looped “Tous en Train”, the tune nevertheless follows all the regular conventions: overwrought “yeahs” and “oooh yeahs” over the opening, references to “it’s a small world after all” and making wishes upon stars. It’s bound to be a sensation.

Listen to the new song below and share your thoughts… Read More…

Friday, 9th March 2012

Listen to two full, high quality versions of “Magic Everywhere”, the new parade anthem

What better way to end the week than with a brand new, feel-good Disney parade anthem? Almost a month ago, we strained our ears to hear “Magic Everywhere” played at Euro Disney SCA’s Annual General Meeting, to nonplussed looks from besuited shareholders. Today, we can share not one but two full, high quality versions of the new Disney Magic on Parade! theme song, that will premiere in the park along with the 20th Anniversary events on 1st April 2012.

One is a four-minute “Parade Version” which, you guessed it, will be used during the parade itself, though whether that’ll be as a looped track or interspersed with other music still isn’t clear.

The other, meanwhile, is a shorter 2 minute 40 second “Song Version” that gives hope for a CD single release or perhaps a whole 20th Anniversary album, so we’ll actually be able to buy this music. The last major music release from Disneyland Paris was a Mickey’s Magical Party album in 2009.

Both versions of “Magic Everywhere” are embedded below… enjoy! Read More…

Friday, 9th March 2012

‘Disney Dreams!’ goes bang in the night for final after-hours pyrotechnic tests

Sleeping Beauty would have had anything but “sweet dreams” last night, as the final after-hours tests for Disney Dreams! firework effects lit up the night sky around the castle. Three dates have apparently been set aside for these pyrotechnic trials, according to the Radio Disney Club website: 8th, 12th and 15th March. Sure enough, guests and Cast Members began reporting that access around Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant was closed off around 6pm yesterday, and after Disneyland Park closed at 8pm the first reports and reactions began appearing.

Above, a photo by Frontierland Cast Member fandlrp on Disney Central Plaza shows an array of colourful fireworks shooting up behind the castle. Sharing impressions from the privileged viewpoint of Disneyland Hotel, Jeremy describes the music as sublime and says the show keeps its promises and anyone worried about the pyrotechnics (their size and number) should be reassured. Meanwhile NeMo saw the tests from Main Street itself and reveals that the pyrotechnics play a part in almost every scene, with many effects apparently brand new to Disneyland Paris.

It’s also rumoured that test launches will be incorporated into the planned displays for St David’s Welsh Festival this Saturday, 10th and St Patrick’s Day on 17th March. Individual elements continue to be tested and perfected almost every night, but full “dress rehearsals” of the entire show are apparently scheduled for the 21st and 23rd March, ahead of the Cast Member premiere on 29th March, private press premiere on 31st March and official public premiere on 1st April.

Various tests have been ongoing for Disney Dreams! long before the recent arrival of director Steve Davison in Paris. In January, @Tobiasfl shared the two live Instagram photos above on Twitter, the first showing a particularly dazzling quartet (or possibly quintet) of coloured shells in blue, green, pink, red and yellow. Though these clearly exploded high in the sky, the majority of pyrotechnic effects in the show are expected to ignite from ground level.

Unlike a pure firework show, where the sky is filled constantly and the explosions make up the entire scene, this 20th Anniversary spectacular will use pyrotechnics as just one of many elements. Like the water or fire, they’ll play a “role” in the scene, acting out a part in the show, representing particular moments in the story rather than telling the whole tale. Speaking of those other elements, Steve Davison posted another teaser on his Facebook fan page the night before last:

“We had all the fountains on tonight in front of the Castle. They are stunning. I am so excited for Disneyland Paris. They will be the first to have a permanent fountain array in their moat. It is so colorful and magical it really is a beautiful enhancement to the Castle.”

Steve is even kind enough to respond directly to fans who write on the page. To a question about exclusive merchandise for the show, he replied “I hope so, there are some really fun things they could play off!” and promised to ask the director of merchandise at a planned meeting next week. The most surprising status update, though, came after DLRP Today summarised Steve’s updates on Tuesday and challenged you to boost the page above 1,000 fans (it now stands at 1,209):

Thanks DLRP Today! You took my fan page over 1000! Merci Beaucoup!!!! And your 20th show DREAMS is coming along magically. The Castle projections are stunning! Can’t wait for you to see it!

Wow, actual Steve Davison posting a message to us! So that’s what a dream come true feels like. Great work, everyone!

VIA Radio Disney Club, Disney Central Plaza, @Tobiasfl (Twitter)

Tuesday, 6th March 2012

Steve Davison arrives in Paris for overnight ‘Disney Dreams!’ testing and programming

If there’s one Facebook page you really need to “Like” as anticipation grows for the 20th Anniversary and Disney Dreams! (besides our own of course), then it’s the Steve Davison Fan Page. Because this isn’t just any page dedicated to the Disneyland entertainment master and producer of Disneyland Paris’ new nighttime spectacular, no. It’s Steve himself who provides the updates, which in the past have included rare glimpses into the production of World of Color as well as Tokyo DisneySea‘s stunningly re-imagined version of the classic Fantasmic!. Over recent months and weeks, Steve has begun dropping tantalising morsels of information about this, his very first original project for Disneyland Paris, culminating in an attention-grabbing status update just over a week ago which simply began “DISNEY DREAMS! DISNEY DREAMS! DISNEY DREAMS!.

This was Steve announcing his final departure to Disneyland Paris, where he’ll presumably be based for the whole month to prepare every element of the new park finale for its grand premiere. “Here I come. Off to program the show for Paris Disneyland. All the pieces look amazing thus far! Now it’s the task of painting them all together into one beautiful, exciting and moving spectacular!”

Since arriving in Marne-la-Vallée, Steve has shared three further updates; first revealing that the Disney Dreams! fountains rose out of the moat for the very first time exactly a week ago, on February 28th: “Just saw a bunch of water rising up from out of the moat! Now that’s a good thing! Fun stuff!” And on 1st March, that the unpredictable Marne-la-Vallée fog was causing problems for the team: “It is one “foggy” programming night here is Paris. Not getting a lot done. We can’t see a thing. I feel like Santa at the end of Rodolph! Except I don’t have a reindeer with a bright red nose to cut through the fog. But the 10K searchlights come close!”

The testing and programming is taking place after park hours and running right through the night, apparently as late at 6am. Steve himself followed up his first update from Paris with the confirmation: “And yes it’s really 3:30am here!” Even a programmer of Dreams deserves a night off, though, as Steve posted Saturday: “We have a night off tonight. It’s crazy working nights.” But that doesn’t mean the team were apart for too long, as he later revealed a trip out to the nearby town of Melun, south-east of Paris: “Oh no. We’re in Melun having Fondue with Team Dreams!”

Currently hovering around 987 likes, let’s see if his new quotient of Disneyland Paris fans from DLRP Today.com can boost numbers on the Steve Davison Fan Page above 1000, shall we?

Sunday, 4th March 2012

Early 20th sparkle for Sleeping Beauty Castle as Peter Andre films new commercial

We all know 1992 as the year that saw Disneyland Paris open its gates, but what other tentative beginnings is that fateful year famous for? Why, the launch of British-born pop singer Peter Andre‘s career, when he released his first single in Australia, of course! Whether this was the smart thinking behind asking him to present what appears to be a new commercial for the 20th Anniversary, or the fact that he has more recently appeared in a string of ITV reality shows, remains to be seen, but Sleeping Beauty Castle was ready to put on an extra sparkle for his arrival yesterday.

The news spread on Twitter with Andre himself tweeting “Back at work today, filming my first ever TV commercial for Disneyland :)) it’s cold cold cold in Paris” in the early afternoon. After darkness fell, he posted the two photos featured here, showing him appearing with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Sulley in front of an illuminated castle, holding a 20th Anniversary-branded microphone. The anniversary logo was also projected onto the façade of the castle as spotlights criss-crossed the sky, creating quite a spectacle from Main Street, U.S.A. for regular guests.

Below, two Instagram photos shared by @pka13 of the filming and the castle, which was lit by the colour-changing embedded LED lights first installed for the Princess Aurora’s Christmas Wish show last year.

Since we’ve already seen numerous versions of the main TV advertising campaign for the anniversary, Peter Andre’s “commercial” filming will presumably be for a special one-off broadcast closer to the 1st April launch date itself, perhaps as part of a promotional segment within a TV show or as a one-of commercial spot. Meanwhile, Pat Sharp is still waiting for his call-back…

VIA @MrPeterAndre, @pka13 (Twitter)

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