In the quite remarkably lavish online, interactive 2010 annual report, Euro Disney CEO Philippe Gas explained his vision for the upcoming 2011 season; about getting back to the core values of a Disney park, the feeling that experience should give you. At the same time, this new official promotional clip above for Disney Magical Moments Festival puts that feeling into motion. OK, it’s mostly footage we’ve been seeing for the best part of 6 or 7 years (or more, with the mid-90s Carnival Parade!), but it’s a beautiful series of scenes from across the parks that really shows just how special Disneyland Paris is.
Special, that is, for children. As almost all the resort’s recent promo video footage (and all the advertising for this festival) focuses solely on camera-friendly kids, if you’re over the age of 11, and not a parent, maybe you’re feeling a little left out of all these magical moments?
However, if rumours are to be believed, Disney Dance Express could be a slightly different event to what we’ve become accustomed. Music is rumoured to be taken from Walt Disney World’s “Move It! Shake It!! Celebrate It!!! Street Party” — not we presume yet another remix of “Tous en train” — and those meet ‘n’ greet scrums could be a thing of the past as the train turns into more of a moving show stage, with a live host. So, it’s “goodbye” but definitely “à bientôt!” again.
In the meantime, the gap left in the timetable will be filled this week by a cavalcade of characters titled “Good Morning, Disney New Generation” at 11.15am, 12.15pm and 1.15pm.
It already has permanent shows based at Walt Disney World Resort and Tokyo Disney Resort — now, could Cirque du Soleil, the world-famous avant-garde circus, be looking to Paris? Founder of the company Guy Laliberté has suggested for the first time that a show based at Disneyland Paris could be a real possibility. When interviewed by Christian Sylt for a piece in The Independent, we can reveal that on the subject Laliberté commented: “We are having discussions with Disneyland Paris. It could be good but we have to be careful because this is an environment where it doesn’t have the same kind of traffic as in Orlando.”
According to brief details given, any Cirque du Soleil show at the Paris resort would most likely be seasonal, with performances only during one of the busier periods for the resort, similar to the Wintuk show held from November to January in New York’s Madison Square Garden — which just finished its final run last month. The location at Disneyland Paris would possibly be the site of the existing Crescend’O “dome” in Disney Village, though probably not the existing tent, which was built for the smaller aquatic circus show in 1999 and has since been used mainly for business events. Both the La Nouba show in Florida and Zed show in Tokyo are in permanent residence at custom-built theatres.
Our third “theme year” in a row doesn’t actually have any definable theme like the current New Generation, but Disney Magical Moments Festival beginning 6th April will bring to the parks a new trend of character “happenings”, as they’re awkwardly translated. According to Character Central Blog, even Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade won’t be free from a little Magical Moments “plussing”, with six new costumes including a swarm of bees behind the Winnie the Pooh unit and a new interactive show stop which will invite children to step up and don small costumes to dance with the characters (or for Toy Story, run around with stick horses resembling Bullseye) — a similar idea to that which greeted the launch of The Wonderful World of Disney Parade in 1998.
Replacing the rather good Disney Showtime Spectacular on Central Plaza Stage will be another creation of the random Disney show name generator, Mickey’s Magical Celebration, this year said to feature a more classic range of characters such as Merlin, the Fairy Godmother, the Three Good Fairies and Mickey in two different costumes (surely including that Sorcerer outfit, rarely seen in Paris), with just one performance daily each evening. Interestingly the Genie will apparently appear as a real “face” character, something only seen before at the Disney California Adventure stage musical. More conventional will be the fourth (yes, really) reworking of the park’s Casey Jr. parade train, to this year be known as Disney Dance Express and exclusively feature the VIP team of Mickey, Minnie and friends. Rather than stopping for meet ‘n’ greets, however, the train is this year said to be stopping for a live show in the middle of Main Street akin to Magic Kingdom’s “Move It! Shake It!! Celebrate It!!! Street Party” — with fewer exclamation marks but still a live human host, dancers and possibly imported music.
On the subject of those “happenings”, Character Central has no word on the Peter Pan event but does report that a Jungle Book event will feature the park’s long-running African Tam Tams group alongside King Louie and Baloo. This is apparently in addition to new static figurines of these characters, similar to those of WALL-E and EVE which arrived in Discoveryland late last year. A new, live meet ‘n’ greet for Aladdin is also said to arrive near the back of Adventureland Bazaar, while Rapunzel and Flynn from Disney’s Tangled could be given a more permanent home near The Old Mill.
Disneyland Paris promotes it as “double the fun”, but extensive paving works around the Pizzeria Bella Notte area in Fantasyland until late March actually mean a revised route and a few missing floats for Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade over the next few months. While the route up towards “it’s a small world” is closed, the parade will enter the park via the gate next to Discovery Arcade on Main Street, U.S.A. and navigate around Town Square up to Central Plaza, completing a full loop before travelling back down Main Street and out via the same gate.
This reworked route also means a reworked parade, with three of the eight floats missing: Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio‘s “Dreams of Laughter & Fun”, The Lion King and The Jungle Book‘s “Dreams of Adventure” and one of two “Dreams of Romance” units — originally for the first, smaller “Prelude” unit featuring The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, but now the much larger “Finale” unit. It was decided that this unit made fitting the full parade around Central Plaza at once too tight, and so all the Princes and Princesses of the finale now dance in front of the Prelude float.
With five different floats squeezed around Central Plaza for the turn-back it was also deemed that keeping each float’s unique music loop wasn’t practical, meaning the parade rolls out with the single “Just Like We Dreamed It” theme usually reserved for the show stops, which have also been cut, on a loop.
The diversion began on 7th January, and according to current schedules will continue right through until 1st April 2011. A map of the revised route is featured on the cover of the current daily programmes.
Those oddly-matched “Two Worlds” of Tarzan and Frontierland‘s Old West will be colliding again. That’s right, The Tarzan Encounter will be making a surprise comeback from June this year! The confirmation comes via an audition announcement on the Disneyland Paris Casting website. Featuring dance and acrobatics set to the music of the film, it originally ran over Summer seasons at The Chaparral Theater from April 2000 to September 2008.
The show was previously cancelled in February 2009 during a period of major decline in live entertainment at Disneyland Park which also saw The Legend of the Lion King come to a close at Videopolis Theatre just a month before. A fortnight after the cancellation, rumour suddenly surfaced that the show would, in fact, return for at least July and August, but it wasn’t to be. Frontierland’s theatre venue, the largest in the park, ultimately paid host to a brand new show, Goofy’s Summer Camp, which failed to win many fans and failed to return in 2010, leaving the theatre empty over the Summer for the first time in its history.
Looking for gymnasts and aerial acrobats as well as lead actors for Tarzan and Jane themselves, the casting call notes a contract from early May, although the actual premiere date is later due to time needed for rehearsals and the show will run from 11th June to 4th September.
Bringing The Tarzan Encounter back to the stage after two years will be a popular move for visitors lamenting the park’s often empty theatres. However, having to revert back to an 11 year old show like this may just be further evidence of the way the once highly-regarded stage show offering at Disneyland Paris has faded. Energy and budgets in recent years have shifted to the Central Plaza “spectaculars”, which guests are forced to watch over each others’ shoulders, standing up and outside in all weather.
In fact, it may be that the new Mickey’s Magical Celebration show from this April is currently scheduled to be a single, evening-only daily performance which has prompted this return for 2011.
These days it only happens at Halloween and Christmas, but there was a point in the recent past, around the time of The Lion King Carnival and similar events, when it seemed Main Street Station was never without decorations.
But, those seasonal logos have made a comeback. As spotted in a behind-the-scenes video, concepts prepared by the Entertainment department called for a return to Main Street Station decorations — although we couldn’t quite get a good look at them. Last week, they began to appear.
First with a new idea, at least for seasonal decorations at Disneyland Paris: Ruffled semi-circular fabric bunting in red and yellow, a common way Main Street is decorated for Halloween in the overseas parks — where there’s no orange paint in sight — and a welcome idea for Paris.
And then, the old tradition: A large logo plaque and sculpted character models.
Models that are, it’s been noted… a little off-model. The tacked-on Mickey is oversized compared to his new friends, and we’d better be careful what we say about that Woody and his eyes… there must be something in the s’mores at Cowboy Camp!
So far (perhaps there’s more to come?) there are only additional characters to the left of the main logo, with Tiana and Frog standing in front of one window and Remy in front of the other.
As we saw in the concept art, the Baroque style of the logo frame is continued through the new Main Street lamppost decorations, although the colour scheme seems to have become darker and less symmetrical.
The final colours of the ribbons under each frame are blue, yellow, red, green and purple, rather than the fresher pattern of purple, white, yellow, green, yellow, white and pink promised…
Still, we can probably all agree this is how Main Street should be decorated. A big, big improvement on the mess last year; at last a reasonably subtle way to extend the year’s theme and bring the current advertising campaign into the parks.
Perhaps, then, it simply fell to Main Street Station to be this year’s sacrificial piece of Disneyland Park for the less successful decorations, now that the castle is finally off-limits. At least, better to have Woody frightening children there than from somewhere on our dear château!
Press events are both loved and loathed by Disneyland Paris fans, particularly those frequent French visitors who might have the chance to visit almost every weekend.
On the one hand, it’s a break from the norm — the chance to see special photo set-ups and even catch sight of some VIPs. On the other, it means disruption throughout the parks, areas closed off and prime parade and show viewing points cordoned off from paying guests, while badge holders are often given free reign to skip queues on the most popular attractions. Maybe they’re a necessary evil.
Surprisingly, performances of the stunt show itself weren’t interrupted by the press event, although numerous preparations for the spectacular nighttime launch ahead were visible inside the arena — such as this large lighting rig running along the roof span:
Projectors, cameras and other equipment were not-so-inconspicuously hidden under black sheets in various areas of the stadium seating:
Back outside, Backlot had welcomed a fun retro trailer to serve as an outside broadcast unit for “LFM”:
Celebrities and VIPs from various nations could be spotted all over the parks throughout the day, with film crews, reporters and cameras trailing them to the various picture-perfect locations like the Toon Town backdrop:
Meanwhile, Buzz Lightyear made a quick move from meeting the guests in Toon Studio (left) to meeting the VIPs and film crews in the temporary Backlot photo studio (right):
The fully-refurbished Monsters Inc. location in Toon Studio had a special lighting set-up for the celebrity shots taken here with Sully:
And then, the roping-off began:
A huge area around the Place des Stars Stage was cordoned off for press only, leaving regular, paying guests struggling to see the single performance of Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars, the park’s only outdoor entertainment spectacle:
At least, it was well-patronised come show time:
The president of Disneyland Paris, Euro Disney CEO, Philippe Gas was also in attendance to see Rémy and Emile join the production:
Despite his no doubt hectic schedule, he even took time to make a surprise appearance at a unique meeting of Disneyland Paris fans which was organised for the day — you can read a report here.
With the show over, the Ratatouille car left Place des Stars last…
And then veered left to turn into the cordoned-off Hollywood Boulevard…
Pulling up alongside the Toy Story car to provide a backdrop for more photos and VIP interviews:
Classic photo spots, such as the castle hill, were also in use:
But finally, back at the studios, the doors closed for the general public:
As Disney Studio 1 become a self-contained press holding area, regular guests had to leave the park via the backstage gates between Production Courtyard and Front Lot — views of off-limits areas hidden by a row of temporary planters:
Easy to criticise as just another rehash of the previous character trains, but at least more visually appealing than last year’s Minnie’s Party Train. And don’t forget WALL-E — this is the first time this masterpiece of a character has been integrated into a Disney parade or park event anywhere in the world.
Already earning rave reviews from returning visitors and winning over many who weren’t too keen on last year’s hub show, Disney Showtime Spectacular makes the clever move of dressing Mickey and the gang up for each musical number, with their Incredibles superhero outfits in particular being very unique in the Disney park world and sure to be remembered.
Imagine the royal scraps backstage! Even with its two articulated floats, the finale of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade is now having to accommodate no less than five couples.
For Belle, previously leading the float with a profusion of red roses and the beastly incarnation of her love, it means moving further back (or perhaps, being “promoted” to stand alongside Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty) and seeing her Beast transformed back into a human prince, allowing him to move more easily.
And so the roses of 2007…
…become the wild, yellow flowers of the bayou for Tiana and Naveen!
The podium has also been modified with a new raised platform and safety railing, decorated with more yellow flowers, to give guests a better view of the couple. This is their first appearance on a permanent Disney parade float anywhere in the world.
The Princess and the Frog has been welcomed into the parade with a new section of music added to the float’s medley: a new recording of Ma Belle Evangeline, with Tiana speaking over the top about — you guessed it — dreams.
The second half of the video above features the new musical meet ‘n’ greet on Town Square, which does appear to have so far replaced the previous Mary Poppins show. As you can see in the video, there’s a new (and nicely designed) noticeboard nearby to advertise the meeting times.
With no performance numbers like the Mary Poppins show, this new character event sees Tiana and Naveen meet guests in the gazebo, for a perfect photo with the Main Street backdrop, as one of the park’s live bands play dixieland jazz renditions of songs from the film (heard but not seen in the video).
Tout suite! Are you “goin’ down the bayou” to meet Tiana?
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