Tuesday, 12th February 2013

The Aristocats to appear for “Be my Valentine!” day at Disneyland Paris

"Be my Valentine!" day at Disneyland Paris [Photo: Loren Javier (Flickr)]

Disneyland Paris certainly knows how to win over the hearts of its character fans. Along with the usual special meet ‘n’ greets for Valentine’s Day on 14th February, this Thursday will also see a special mini event on the parade route featuring “The Aristocats” characters. Programmed for three performances in the afternoon — at 14:35, 15:35 and 16:30 — it will be a very rare chance to see the Parisian characters in their home park.

In fact, only Marie (pictured above) is known to us to make regular appearances at Disney Parks, so will she be the lone Aristocat in the cavalcade?

According to Disneyland Paris – Fans on Facebook, the 2013 date will also give the chance to meet Disney “couples” together such as Mickey & Minnie, Donald & Daisy, Woody & Jessie, Stitch & Angel and Peter Pan & Wendy, along with rarer characters Phoebus & Esmeralda from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and Bernard & Bianca from “The Rescuers”.

"Be my Valentine!" day at Disneyland Paris

A limited edition (ex. 600) pin featuring Lady & the Tramp was already released last Saturday, 9th February 2013, for the occasion.

Update: @InsideDLParis reports on Twitter that Marie will be joined by fellow kittens Berlioz and Toulouse, making for their first ever character appearance in any Disney Park.

VIA Disneyland Paris Programme, PHOTO Loren Javier (Flickr)

Tuesday, 12th February 2013

Disney Light’Ears: It’s “glow with the show” for Disney Dreams! first anniversary

Disney Light'Ears: Glow with the Show ears coming to Disneyland Paris

There will be more than just two new scenes to light up Disney Dreams! on its first anniversary this year: you too can “glow with the show” as the illuminated Mickey Mouse ears first introduced for World of Color at Disney California Adventure will come to Disneyland Paris, the resort has confirmed.

Named “Glow with the Show Ears” in California, they’ll be known instead by a new name in Europe: Disney Light’Ears. Once activated and placed on your head (or anywhere!) within the spectacle’s viewing area, they light up and change colour in sync with the show itself.

This is an optional, paid add-on, of course — in California the ears were priced at $25 for launch and, though no price has been publicly announced, reports from research questionnaires carried out in Paris suggest they could be looking at a €25 price point to own a pair over here. For added value, California later activated the ears for use during Fantasmic! at its own Disneyland Park, as well as controlling them to light up in certain areas such as inside the new Cars Land.

Battery powered, the hats are controlled by infra red signals from emitters placed around the audience area. For World of Color, this comprises around 40 “zones” which can each be sent a different command to illuminate and change the colour of the ears.

Unlike in Disney’s home state, Mickey ear hats have never particularly taken off at Disneyland Paris — you’re more likely to see a sorcerer’s apprentice, a Goofy or at most a Minnie Mouse bow. Could Disney Light’Ears be the spark to finally bring popularity to this classic park merchandise item in Paris? Would you pay to own a pair yourself, and do you think they’ll really add to the experience of Disney Dreams! or just be a distraction from the show itself?

Disney Light'Ears: Glow with the Show ears coming to Disneyland Paris Disney Light'Ears: Glow with the Show ears coming to Disneyland Paris

It’s fair to say at least that, for such a high-rating signature attraction, Disney Dreams! needs more supporting merchandise, so this can only be a positive step in that direction. The ears were also only debuted in California last August, so the stated “Summer 2013” makes for an unusually speedy rollout to Paris — now only the second Disney resort in the world to have them.

Now watch “Glow with the Show” in action at Disneyland Resort, California… Read More…

Monday, 11th February 2013

New “Brave”, “The Lion King” scenes confirmed for Disney Dreams! from April 2013

Stills from Brave, The Lion King (Pixar, Disney)

Hurry, you’ve not got long left to see Disney Dreams! — the original show that is. Disneyland Paris has now confirmed that the show will be updated for its first anniversary with two brand new scenes based on the Pixar film “Brave” and classic Disney animation “The Lion King”. The new segments are believed to be replacing the original “Mary Poppins” and “The Jungle Book” numbers respectively, so you’ve only until around the end of March to sing along with “Step In Time” and “I Wan’na Be Like You” in person as fountains and projections fill the air. However the rest of the scenes — certainly the Peter Pan-themed “bookends” which tie together the various segments — are expected to remain the same.

Further information came to light today when it was revealed that the song featured from The Lion King will be “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King”, certainly an ideal choice to replace the similar earlier Jungle Book hit. Six young finalists from the Dutch TV talent show The Voice Kids were given the chance to record it exclusively for the show at Abbey Road Studios in London (pictured below), where this time last year the entire Disney Dreams! soundtrack was recorded by Joel McNeely.

'The Voice Kids' finalists at Abbey Road Studios, London

Meanwhile the Brave segment will be the first for a single film that isn’t a musical. A short Ratatouille scene was included in the original show, but is really little more than a transition.

Steve Davison, who masterminded the show, was at Disneyland Paris along with Chuck Davis, Senior Technical Director, during the heavy snowfall last month, making it a strong possibility they were working on the new scenes.

Premiering on 31st March 2012 to worldwide acclaim, Disney Dreams! has scored an impressive 93% guest satisfaction rating and is now confirmed to be continuing daily at Disneyland Park until at least the end of September 2013, when the extended 20th Anniversary celebrations close.

Update: InsideDLParis reports The Lion King scene will come first in the show and be made up of three songs — “Circle of Life”, “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and “Hakuna Matata” — while the Brave scene will utilise two parts of the film’s score by Patrick Doyle — “Remember to Smile” and “Fate and Destiny” — along with “Touch the Sky”, the original song by Julie Fowlis. It’s likely the scenes will officially premiere on 1st April 2013 but may be introduced shortly before then as a “soft opening.”

Watch our 4 different complete videos of the original Disney Dreams! here

• Watch the scenes rumoured to be replaced: “Mary Poppins” and “I Wanna Be Like You”

VIA Disneyland Paris Press, @HyperionPilot, @DisneylandNL, @Jorienvh_

Tuesday, 10th July 2012

Bastille Day 14th July fireworks confirmed as added extra after ‘Disney Dreams!’

"Out There" from The Hunchback of Notre Dame in Disney Dreams! at Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris has confirmed that a special Bastille Day fireworks will take place this Saturday, 14th July, beginning just five minutes after the end of the regularly scheduled performance of its new Disney Dreams! nighttime spectacular at Disneyland Park.

The French National Day, more commonly known simply as le quatorze juillet in France, falls on a Saturday this 20th Anniversary year, meaning the resort can no doubt expect bumper crowds for the occasion. Unlike previous years, where the regular fireworks event such as The Enchanted Fireworks has taken a one-night break with a special show in its place, this separate fireworks show will provide two nighttime spectaculars in one night, not to mention the seasonal return of Disney’s Fantillusion.

If the 22-minute Disney Dreams! remains scheduled at its regular time of 11pm, required due to the late sunset at this time of year, that means the special Bastille Day fireworks won’t begin until almost 11.30pm. It remains to be seen if the one-off show will be as grand as previous years or a cut-down pyrotechnic “encore” in light of the preceding spectacular. Could the newly-installed fountains, water screens and projectors around the castle be utilised? No word yet.

Though the related World of Color show in California has been given special scenes for holidays and film releases, the show’s creator Steve Davison was clear to state during our Q&A event earlier this year that Disney usually prefers to leave such shows for at least a year before adding new segments, to allow everyone to see the original show. Today’s tweet from Disneyland Paris seems to state the 14th July fireworks are a separate event and not a modification or even encore to the show.

Nevertheless ‘Disney Dreams!’ itself is already very patriotic towards France, with its Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (pictured above) and Ratatouille scenes coming in quick succession all with French lyrics, settings and characters. This Saturday night at Disneyland Paris looks set to be more “patriotique” than ever!

VIA @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter)

Monday, 9th July 2012

Disney’s Fantillusion, The Tarzan Encounter return for two months of Summer Time

This past Saturday 7th July, the night was “turned to light” at Disneyland Park. Not just by the spectacular, state-of-the-art effects of Disney Dreams! but now also by the more traditional twinkling bulbs of Disney’s Fantillusion, returning for its tenth summer season at Disneyland Paris. Scheduled for 22:15 each night, with Disney Dreams! at park closing time (23:00), Disney’s Fantillusion appears to have retained the same format and floats as its previous summer and winter 2012 seasons, with the only noted changes being some refreshed costumes.

However, as now seems to be customary before each season, there’s some doubt about its future. According to RadioDisneyClub.fr, the parade will not return as usual for the upcoming Disney’s Enchanted Christmas season. So far Disneyland Paris has confirmed only the dates for this Christmas — 9th November 2012 to 6th January 2013 — and none of the events contained within.

Earlier this year, before its current season to 2nd September 2012 was confirmed, it was rumoured separately both that the parade would precede Disney Dreams! every single night, all year, and that it had been cancelled completely.

The Tarzan Encounter cast and crew [(C) Disney_ParisEN]

Meanwhile, the essential live Disney stage show has also returned to the park with The Tarzan Encounter, beginning an eleventh season at The Chaparral Theater in Frontierland back on 9th June. Resident at the theatre since 2000, with a two year hiatus in 2009 and 2010, the musical acrobatics show continues to be a guest favourite after its 2011 resurrection, performing five times daily at 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 16:45 and 17:45 to strong crowds.

While it seems ungrateful to say it when we have something as beautiful and big as Disney Dreams!, it is still true that both parks — and particularly Walt Disney Studios Park, with its slightly lacklustre Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars parade — lack these daytime entertainments, shows and streetmosphere which add life to the lands throughout the day, not just for 20 minutes before park closing time.

At least for the next two months now, Disneyland Park offers the full line-up: stage show, daytime parade, electrical parade and nighttime spectacular. That’s a day only Disneyland can give you.

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter), @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter) RadioDisneyClub.fr

Thursday, 17th May 2012

Meet Mickey Mouse opens to guests after one day delay — first official photos!

Meet Mickey Mouse - Rencontre avec Mickey

Everything looked neat ‘n’ pretty, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite “on with the show” for the planned opening ceremony of Meet Mickey Mouse at Disneyland Paris yesterday, 16th May 2012. An unconnected — and now resolved — walk-out by the character performers division saw the cancellation of most character events across the parks for the entire day.

Oddly this means that the date we consign to history as the public opening date of this new attraction is the one confirmed months ago: 17th May 2012. And here are the first official photos!

Meet Mickey Mouse - Rencontre avec MickeyMeet Mickey Mouse - Rencontre avec Mickey
Meet Mickey Mouse - Rencontre avec Mickey

These snaps show only the Mickey Mouse meet and greet room itself, behind the stage in the completely redesigned former Fantasy Festival Stage, where guests encounter the mouse preparing for his magic show in a dressing room overflowing with props and hidden details. Many of the details will be familiar to those who already know the attraction’s Town Square Theatre cousin in Florida, though here — as described in our walk-through yesterday — the set-up is entirely faithful to that of the real, pre-existing theatre, giving a much more faithful and enjoyable narrative to the whole experience.

Guests queue in the aisles of the old theatre area, completely redressed with plush carpets, pendant lights and wood panelling, with Mickey Mouse projections playing out on a projection screen on the stage. Then, they climb the stairs into the real backstage area for their “Rencontre avec Mickey”.

You can already spot many of the fun nods in these photos. The giant padded suitcase containing Mickey’s magician outfit and magic wands, an advertisement for a “Band Concert” in the park (referencing the 1935 short film), travel stickers referencing other Disney resorts (and a Colonel Hathi travel company), and even a custom-made striped wallpaper that uses only the colours black, red, yellow and white. This might just be one of the most charming attractions in the park.

Read our full report from the guided “hard hat” tour with an Imagineer here!

Wednesday, 16th May 2012

Everything neat ‘n’ pretty for Meet Mickey Mouse grand opening in Fantasyland – today!

Meet Mickey Mouse in Fantasyland

Today at 12.30pm, the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors are scheduled to officially inaugurate the new Meet Mickey Mouse meet and greet attraction in Fantasyland, with a special ceremony in the presence of the mouse himself. It will be preceded by three sessions of Passeport Annuel Dream previews. Then, from 1.00pm, the first chance for guests to step inside the redesigned former Fantasy Festival Stage to meet Mickey and investigate the changes within.

How does it look? Well, we were lucky enough to get an exclusive sneak peek inside the new attraction along with fellow fansite authors on 1st April. Greeted by Imagineer Laurent Cayuela at the door, wonderfully animated himself, we were led on a tour (no photos allowed) through the work-in-progress interior that has undergone considerable change since its days as a real show theatre. Where in 1992 guests sat on wooden benches in the half-open space to watch “C’est Magique”, in 2012 they’ll be stepping inside a gorgeous, plush interior reminiscent of great opera houses of the early 1900s.

The basic set-up of the theatre and its stage remains, already perfect for the premise of this attraction. On your way to meet Mickey Mouse in his dressing room behind the stage, you first step into a small lobby area in the right-hand wing of the theatre, adorned with the posters of “Mickey the Magnificent” already seen in Frontierland and the similar, existing meet and greet in Florida’s Magic Kingdom.

Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse

False walls in the same off-white as the exterior have been erected down each side of the former seating area inside, enclosing the theatre stage area itself and giving the previously rather “barebones” pavilion a grander theatrical feel. The entire space has been given soft new, red carpeting with a gold pattern, lending the theatre a truly luxurious feel.

Stepping into the auditorium, you join a back-and-forth queue line which cleverly gives the impression of theatre seating aisles, sloping downwards to the completely redressed stage itself. And wow, that stage: now framed extravagantly in beautiful wood panelling and completed with two new “box seats” sticking out above the audience in either side.

It’s still a real stage, just as before, and Laurent even mentioned that they could use it as such (we imagine for small live music acts or special events, perhaps), but the regular pre-show will be a selection of classic Mickey Mouse cartoons, projected onto a screen behind the curtains as guests queue. Note the plural on curtains: there are no less than three different curtains now permanently installed on the stage — Venetian, Grecian and Italian — which all lift up and open in different ways, presumably between cartoons.

Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey MouseMeet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse

Gleaming gold railings wrap around the queue line with subtle lighting in the edges at ground level. The real feature lighting is above: a series of fabulously ornate pendant lamps produced especially for the attraction by a specialist company with several generations’ experience. The whole queue line has enough space for a 45 minute wait — as we’ve hinted before, a hint of Disney magic later on which we won’t otherwise spoil could help this flow up to three times faster than otherwise.

Staying true to the theatre building, guests really do step “backstage” when they go to meet Mickey in his dressing room. Climbing a small set of stairs at the side of the stage (a ramp for access is also provided), the elaborate decoration suddenly falls away to reveal bare brick-clad walls and a stage manager’s lectern in a small corridor. Here, a Cast Member will personally escort guests to Mickey’s dressing room through another corridor. It’s this dressing room which packs more in-jokes and clever nods than some Disney attractions do in their entire length.

Books, notices, props and suitcases litter the room from floor to ceiling. “Good luck” notes from Minnie, a “missing” notice for the kidnapped Aristocats, a children’s drawing featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Even a prop to reference the Pixar short film Presto. It’s funny, too. All to often these days Disney can forget these details are called “in-jokes“. Designing everything in the shape of Mickey’s head does not make for clever hidden detail. But having a bag on the sideboard labelled with “Tuppence” really does raise that little smile a classic Disney “gag” gives you.

Meet Mickey MouseMeet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse himself (not present during our preview tour) poses in front of a red curtain, opposite the illuminated dressing room mirror and next to the giant seven-foot suitcase containing his props and costume, which also helps to divide the room. Imagineers never talk money, but the whole space with its hyper-custom props has the feel of serious investment and certainly worthy of the company’s trademark character.

Out the other side of the dressing room, guests are free to pose with some of the magician’s props stored at the side of the side — including a giant saw and a “Tank of Terror” escapology trick. Again, there’s a very welcome humour here.

Exit is then via the left-hand side of the auditorium, behind the false walls, to a ticket booth-style area which serves as the souvenir photo sales desk. Once again, lavishly designed — but with practicalities in mind, too: one window of the desk is lowered on both the guest and Cast Member sides, allowing not just a guest in a wheelchair to purchase their photo with ease, but a Cast Member in a wheelchair to serve them, too. Laurent was particularly proud of such forward-thinking.

Meet Mickey Mouse
Meet Mickey Mouse

A pause for questions left our group rather speechless, perhaps so taken aback by the transformation. On background music, Laurent stated that the short loop we heard during the tour (the same track which has been playing at the temporary Frontierland location) would likely be replaced simply by the sounds of the cartoons in the pre-show, audible throughout the venue.

The thought of an attraction based solely around meeting a character won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the execution of this particular concept really has been completed to the utmost Disney quality. Blessed with the gift of a real, pre-existing theatre, unlike the earlier Florida version, Walt Disney Imagineering have been able to play out the narrative far more truthfully and successfully.

One single quibble would come back to something we raised when the marquee went up, that perhaps it doesn’t play the “British” location within Fantasyland to its full advantage. The theatre could feel British if you wanted it to, but it doesn’t particularly overstate this anywhere.

Meet Mickey Mouse

Perhaps that’s the idea, to make it as international as the mouse himself; but sandwiched between the unquestionably, quintessentially English trio of Peter Pan’s Flight, Toad Hall Restaurant and Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, it’s a particular shame they found reason to place the letters “Rencontre avec Mickey” on the main marquee, when the French subtitle on the smaller wait time indicator at the entrance (not to mention on park maps and programmes) would have sufficed. Luckily this is the only aspect to work against the British setting; the rest of the attraction, if not exactly working with the locality, fits wonderfully well alongside it (even if some dislike the “Main Street” marquee lights).

Furthermore, an abundance of genuinely humorous in-jokes gives it a classic feel that’s close to the character it celebrates without a single lazy, mouse-shaped detail. As the sole contribution of Imagineering to the 20th Anniversary, and despite being “just” a meet ‘n’ greet, it feels genuine and worthwhile. And most likely set to be one of Fantasyland’s most popular attractions.

Watch our HD video of the Meet Mickey Mouse exterior below… Read More…

Monday, 7th May 2012

‘Making the Magic’ TV show reveals backstage preparations for Dreams, Magic on Parade

Neatly timed to coincide with the celebrations of 12th April 2012, Channel 5 in the UK broadcast a special behind-the-scenes “documentary” on Sunday, 15th April giving a unique look at the preparations for the 20th Anniversary. Titled Making the Magic: Disneyland Paris – 20th Anniversary, it will be available to watch on the online Demand 5 player until March 2013, but only within the UK.

Not wanting to let such a great promotional piece for the resort go unseen for everyone else, we managed to record the whole show from a DVR box. Quality isn’t perfect (no need for 720p), but hopefully it’s good enough to enjoy. (And yes, Walt Disney built his first park in 1955, not 1957!)

The show naturally focuses mainly on Disney Dreams!, with exclusive input from Steve Davison, Katy Harris and technical director Chuck Davis, but Disney Magic on Parade! is also featured with Kat de Blois and two British parade Cast Members preparing for the parade’s changeover. We get to see “Team Dreams” making last minute preparations on the same day Steve, Katy and Kat took time out to attend a Q&A session with fan sites, making us even more grateful for that opportunity. Added drama comes as Steve drops into the Dreams control room to announce: “There’s a big blue square which appears in the middle of Jungle Book, which I’ve never seen..!”

Knowing the promotional tie-up between Channel 5 and Disneyland Paris before the launch of the 20th Anniversary, this show is clearly more of a glossy promotional piece than a true “documentary” — but it’s also 22 minutes of the best British TV promotion seen for the resort in years. No CGI, no greenscreen, just letting the magic — and the people behind the magic — speak for themselves.

Meanwhile, across the Channel, French viewers recently got to enjoy the far less glossy but rather more revealing “Disneyland et ses Secrets” feature-length documentary on France 3, which can also be found in full on YouTube.

Sunday, 15th April 2012

[VIDEO] 12th April 2012 Opening Ceremony & Cast Member Flashmob

Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary Launch Weekend

Disneyland Paris president Philippe Gas, the Disney Characters, two thousand Cast Members and even the French Air Force stunt display team came together at 9.45am on Thursday, 12th April 2012 to celebrate exactly 20 years to the day that Disneyland Park — then Euro Disneyland — opened its gates to the public. Experience the whole event, including the welcome speech, the spectacular flashmob dance to “Magic Everywhere!” and the truly epic walk along the purple carpet, cheered along by Cast Members from every department, as if you were there with our exclusive original video.

• More videos, reports surprises from 12th April 2012 to come, including Tony Baxter’s ‘Disneyland Paris: From Concept to Reality’ discussion at Videopolis!

Sunday, 15th April 2012

[VIDEO] 12th April 2012 Opening Ceremony & Cast Member Flashmob

Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary Launch Weekend

Disneyland Paris president Philippe Gas, the Disney Characters, two thousand Cast Members and even the French Air Force stunt display team came together at 9.45am on Thursday, 12th April 2012 to celebrate exactly 20 years to the day that Disneyland Park — then Euro Disneyland — opened its gates to the public. Experience the whole event, including the welcome speech, the spectacular flashmob dance to “Magic Everywhere!” and the truly epic walk along the purple carpet, cheered along by Cast Members from every department, as if you were there with our exclusive original video.

• More videos, reports surprises from 12th April 2012 to come, including Tony Baxter’s ‘Disneyland Paris: From Concept to Reality’ discussion at Videopolis!

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