Wednesday, 3rd January 2007

Steve Sidwell to orchestrate the Dream

Now we have a name, what’s the next step? Google it, of course! In an instant we have www.stevesidwell.com, which not only reveals his good portfolio of past credits but adds an extra bit of information about the parade, that it is the “Disneyland Paris Parade for 2007-2010” – confirming the parade will run beyond the anniversary year… though perhaps not for as long as previous productions.

And back to the generously-sized article in Le Parisien, what details can be pulled from the text? The music will be performed by the 100-strong Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, and will be a “little bit jazzy” in its style. Estelle Champeau, longtime Cast Member at the resort’s recording studio, is even quoted in the article as saying the music team enjoyed Steve’s work for Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, and overall it seems the same flambouyant, modernised style will be applied to the classic Disney anthems for the upcoming parade…

Disneyland Paris: 15 Years in 2007!
Anniversary. To celebrate the opening of the park fifteen years ago, Disney is putting the final touches to festivities that will span the whole of 2007 at Marne-la-Vallée. Including: the creation of a new parade, three brand new attractions and the arrival of TGV Est. This week, our column goes in discovery of those behind Disney. First, musician Steve Sidwell.

Series: Backstage at the park (1/5)

Disneyland Paris prepares its 15th Anniversary

The countdown begins. In three months, the 1st April 2007, a rain of stars will fall on Marne-la-Vallée (Seine et Marne) as Disneyland Paris celebrates its fifteenth anniversary. To commemorate the event, the teams at Disney are concocting wonderful surprises: Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, a new decoration of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, two brand new attractions, namely Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, and finally, late 2007 or early 2008, the long-awaited opening of the iconic Tower of Terror…

Being previewed this week, through profiles of those who have created the new additions, our column reveals the details and specifics of the year-long celebration which will capture the attention of the largest number of visitors ever seen from across Europe. Today, Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade takes the spotlight. For the first time, the musical parade has been designed entirely by teams in France itself. Each afternoon, at around 4pm, eight extravagant floats will make their way along the grand avenues of Disneyland towards Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. Six have already been built, and will soon arrive at the workshops of Disney to be equipped with motors and decor. Then it remains for dancers and characters to learn the choreography, set to the music specially arranged by Steve Sidwell.

Article: Julie Cloris, Translation: DLRP Today

The Musician to make the parade’s music

At 45 years old, Steve Sidwell can boast of having worked with Robbie Williams, Tom Jones, Sting and Elton John, or even of having contributed to the soundtrack of the film “Moulin Rouge”. For its fifteenth anniversary, Disneyland Paris undoubtedly wanted a “size” to the music, whilst still giving a touch of youth to the parade. The mission of this Englishman: to compose the music of the various intruments for each section which will accompany the floats as they pass, carrying the “heros” of the enchanted world of Disney.

“A slightly jazzy style”

“The daytime parade is the highpoint of a day at the park, and its musical accompanyment is essential,” assures the father of a family, who has left London for several days to visit the recording studio of Disneyland Paris. “I love this magical place, and more than anything the level of excellent with which it is associated,” he continues. “I’ve had the chance to experience it before, working on the sequal to 101 Dalmatians and on Finding Nemo.”

Steve Sidwell presents a commerical smile without hesitation at the press photo sessions. He claims to like “everything” about Disney, regularly taking his two 10 and 11-year old children to the parks in France and the US, and admits to having a soft spot for Tigger, the gentle tiger from Winnie the Pooh. With his most classical education at the Royal College of Music and Guildhall School of Music, added to an upbringing of pop and jazz, he is a sure talent and a perfect student for Disney, who didn’t hesistate long before settling on him. “We are fans of his style – jazzy, classical and brilliantly modern at the same time, all that made Moulin Rouge such a success” explains Estelle (Champeau), who works in the recording studio.

Evidently, the “legendary” melodies of “Peter Pan”, “Mary Poppins” and “Cinderella” played as the floats pass will still be in place. But they will not be engraved in stone, it will be Steve Sidwell’s job to give them his personal touch, his tempo. Over eight days, baton in hand, he will perform as chief orchestrator during the recording of the new composition by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London – a big band, some soloists, and not forgetting… an accordion player. Because Steve Sidwell, with his very British style, hasn’t forgotten that the anniversary will take place in Paris

Article: Marie Linton, Translation: DLRP Today

Article scans by wency77 on Disney Cental Plaza forum.

Thursday, 28th December 2006

Merlin l’Enchanteur breaks the spell

Beginning on 23rd December, as the park switched to its high-season operating schedule, the new show remains entirely faithful to the 1992-2001 original, presented in the Castle Courtyard around the mythical Sword in the Stone itself.

Merlin the wizard arrives in the courtyard and tells the tale of the sword, before one-by-one children from the gathered audience step up to try their power pulling the sword from its stone. After several failed attempts, Merlin will finally inevitably find the right child, who will pull the sword (at least part of the way) from its resting place and take the crown. The child then gets to wear the royal robe and their coronation is duly celebrated. As the show comes to an end, the lucky child will receive a certificate proclaiming their victorious triumph.

Fans and guests appear more than pleased that the streetmosphere show has finally made a return to the park, with the performance of Merlin himself noted as particularly good by members of Disney Central Plaza forum. Returning such a sorely missed show to the park is certainly the crowning acheivement of a year of refurbishments, additions and renewed magic across the resort.

The show is currently being performed every day (except 24th-27th Dec) at 11h00, 12h00, 13h00, 15h30 and 16h30. According to reports it is only scheduled to run until the end of 2006, though its return surely gives hope for a fullscale Merlin revival during the 15th Anniversary next year.

All photos by Characters_dlrp. You can see more here.

Wednesday, 29th November 2006

Magical Christmas nights

This one, though, you’ll already be familiar with. With Disneyland Park remaining open until 10pm over the main Christmas holidays, the longest opening hours ever operated during this season, the entertainment department is getting ready to balance out the day’s entertainment. Just as the 11pm closure in the Summer season causes times to be shifted later in the day, the park’s new Christmas hours are pushing back the times of The Legend Of The Lion King, The Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony, Disney’s Fanillusion and even Disney Cinema Parade.

Most interesting of all, The Christmas Parade has been pushed back to 5.30pm, nightfall in Paris during this season, actually turning the parade into a daily “nighttime” event for the first time ever. Only on New Year’s Eve in past years has the parade been performed under the glow of the park’s lighting rigs.

The Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony will then follow at 7pm, with Disney’s Fantillusion at 8.30pm, adding up to many magical nights of exclusive Christmas entertainment for the Paris resort.

You can see the latest times in full here: Entertainment Performance Times

Unfortunately, the Christmas version of Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too advertised by the resort’s official website to begin on 16th December has yet to appear on any schedules. Has Pooh Bear made a last minute cancellation to his festive tea party, or are they for whatever reason hiding this show in the same way as the hushed relaunch of the Summer version?

Saturday, 11th November 2006

The Christmas Parade 2006

Highlighting the popularity of this production in previous years, the 2006 parade remains almost entirely unchanged from last year, except perhaps for a few float decoration and music alterations that only a Christmas Parade pro would notice. The current parade cast make it a must-see production yet again, though, with excellent character performances and lively dancers, all with beaming smiles in their beautiful white costumes. 10 Minutes before the parade is due to begin, Mickey Mouse himself makes his way up the parade route on his car, before heading back to the end of the route in time for the start of the performance.

Compared to this very first performance of the season, the performance today (Saturday) on the first official day of Disney’s Christmas Season will have seen the addition of Father Christmas on his sleigh, only just arrived from the North Pole!

Enough with the words – onto the pictures!

Video will return soon!

Thursday, 9th November 2006

Disney’s Bonfire Spectacular 2006

Actually, it’s more of a full-on fizzle, crackle and BANG! The giant production over Lake Disney uses the largest amount of fireworks for any show all year at Disneyland Resort Paris, combined with fountains and the bonfire itself to create an epic 19-minute experience.

Before the show, the crowds are kept buzzing with British music favourites from past and present, showcasing bands from Queen to Keane – a pleasant break from the usual Disney Village DJ. With such a massive show area, the final announcement before the unique show states only that the spectacle will begin “shortly”, before lights around the lakeside (including PanoraMagique) are gradually turned off. Luckily so far featuring none of the 2 hour delays of 2005, the 2006 season of this overlooked event appears incredibly successful.

And, in typical British fashion, not a single person in the audience can resist saying “right, that’s it, we can go home now” after the first, single, lone firework explodes.

The show is performed over Lake Disney and is totally free to watch, the best views being from anywhere between Newport Bay Club and Hotel New York, near Sequoia Lodge. 2006 performance dates are the 6th, 8th and 10th November, whilst next year the show will return on 5th, 7th and 9th November. If you can’t make it to see the final show of 2006 on Friday, don’t worry – we’ve got an exclusive video of Disney’s Bonfire Spectacular 2006:


Disney's Bonfire Spectacular 2006
Video by DLRP Magic!

Wednesday, 8th November 2006

Christmas returns to Main Street

Monday brought a sea of green construction walls, entirely closing off the hubs of Central Plaza and Town Square, along with the first few ribbons and garlands on the lamposts. Town Square’s Gazebo had already been returned to its non-Pumpkin form, and the flower beds had already been given their white winter coats.

Just one day later, the Giant Pumpkin is gone, the Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony stage is being worked on and garlands and ribbons have arrived on many of Main Street’s buildings, including the Gazebo. The trees and lamposts are all given special gold ribbons, and – the biggest change of all – the Christmas Tree has returned! As reported yesterday, though, the tree has returned to its original Town Square location after a two year vacation at Central Plaza. Lining up perfectly with the Castle and the sleek Fairytale Illuminations, the “new” location of the tree already creates a much cosier Christmas atmosphere.

Photos taken yesterday, 7th November 2006:

Wednesday, 8th November 2006

Disney’s Halloween Party Night 2006

The evening began at 8.30pm, with guests asked to enter via Walt Disney Studios’ gate before filing around to Disneyland Park, avoiding the guests still leaving from the park. Once through the gates, the Pink Witches pounced immediately, chanting their spells and shouting their words of witchcraft to the passing guests on Town Square, holding signs proclaiming “Pink Witches – Choose your side!”

In addition to the park’s main attractions being open for guests, the usual series of special entertainment kicked off in Halloweenland (Frontierland) at the FantaStitch Stage. The Halloween Festival show “Goofy and the Magic Pot” was joined by musical performances from “Hot Couture”, the female lead singer of which gave a rousing performance trademarked by more jiggling dance moves than ever seen before inside Disneyland.

Exploring deeper into the beautifully lit park, Adventureland was the place to meet and greet characters of every kind. Whilst Jafar, Ratcliffe, Shan-Yu and more gathered by Restaurant Hakuna Matata, a massive band of Pirates (including Jack Sparrow himself) was on the rampage opposite Captain Hook’s Galley, taunting guests and jumping over and around the beach scenery. If these characters were a little too menacing, a hop over onto Adventure Isle found classic characters such as Peter Pan, Wendy and Mr. Smee, whilst the Galley featured a pirate playing bagpipes and outside Pirates of Caribbean itself a live Pirate band performed throughout the evening.

At select times during the evening, a firey cavalcade made its way through Adventureland’s Bazaar and across the Adventure Isle bridge to Pirates’ Beach, where a haunting ceremony of flames and chanting took place, culminating in a giant blast of fire into the air above the water. Despite their best attempts, Adventureland appeared intact the following morning. Back in Frontierland, more villains such as Gaston and Cruella De Vil were waiting with the Pink Witches, and all manner of strange and mysterious fantasy creatures roamed the park.

At 11.30pm, The Ghost Ship Cavalcade made its way onto the parade route at Town Square. Presented entirely by an outside performance group, the show featured Adventureland’s fire artists and pirates joined by performers in flowing white costumes (surprisingly none of which caught fire). At the end of the cavalcade, the Ghost Ship itself arrived, with acrobats hanging from the masts. The music was unique to the performance, which featured three long stops just on Main Street itself, and was perhaps reminiscent of artistic circus performances such as Cirque du Soleil. Overall, however, the crowds appeared hugely unimpressed with what most agreed was a slow and misplaced performance.

You can see the Photos Magiques video of The Ghost Ship Cavalcade here.

Similarly disappointing, perhaps, were the fireworks. 2005 saw the creation of an impressive “Sound & Light Spectacular” featuring video projections depicting the story of the Pumpkinmen and Pink Witches. This year, the theme of pirates was used to create The Black Pearl Fireworks, a simple and fairly unoriginal performance of fireworks to music from both Pirates of the Caribbean films. An exciting finale for fans of the film, but otherwise an unimpressive end to a Halloween Party that, in terms of its unique live entertainment at least, never really entertained.

You can see the Photos Magiques video of The Black Pearl Fireworks here, and more photos from throughout the evening here.

Friday, 13th October 2006

Being Goofy needs to stop somewhere

The video was filmed last Christmas in the backstage area of Hotel New York, as the Cast Members waited to go “on stage” to perform as their respective characters. It was reported by two different daily national newspapers in the UK. First by The Sun, who sexed up the story with well-captured stills and sensationalised descriptive words in bold type. Later, the Daily Mail also caught on to the video, describing it as “smutty” and harking back to Walt Disney’s original vision for his characters, in the good old days.

Introductions to the varying styles of British tabloid journalism aside, even Reuters picked up the story later in the day, adding:

“The behavior shown on the video is unacceptable and inexcusable,” Disney said in a statement.
“The video was taken in the backstage area not accessible to guests. Appropriate action has been taken to deal with the cast members involved.”

As irresponsible as the behaviour was, whilst repesenting such iconic and respected characters, the fact that the event took place behind closed doors perhaps leaves only the cameraman as truly irresponsible. Admittedly, performers “larking around” backstage probably happens every day at Disney parks around the world, yet before now no one has found the need to film it and share it online.
Perhaps a better question here then is why, after already knowing about the video for several days, Disney has yet to use its legal muscle to have it removed. That’s what I call being Goofy.

Tuesday, 10th October 2006

Ghoulish figures start to wake!

The changes begin even before the parade itself, as the Pink Witches (added to the festival last year as a rival to the Orange Pumpkinmen) step onto the parade route at Town Square and make their way to Fantasyland, leaving a trail of mischief behind them. This new “pre-parade” uses the wacky “Boo To You” soundtrack from Walt Disney World’s Halloween celebrations, and shows a return to a more “complete” parade experience for the resort’s entertainment teams.

Once the parade begins, with the Pink Witches lined up at the opening gate, the changes continue throughout. The huge inflatable orange ball, which rolled along thanks to a walking parade performer inside, has obviously succumbed to the claws of Stitch. The Pumpkinmen’s orange paint well float from 2005 (also used as the Snow White float in Disney Princess Parade) is now a general orange paint float for the “fab 7”, with Mickey and Minnie no longer using their rustic horse-drawn wagon to begin the parade. Along with this, the scarecrow dance section has also been lost. The updated orange paint float features Stitch wearing a pumpkin mask in a paint pot at the centre, whilst the Pumpkinmen themselves are relegated to a dance section at the start of the parade.

The final change is the addition of some unlikely new faces to the parade’s character lineup. Not wicked Disney witches or gruesome bad guys, but instead a collection of some of Disney’s most innocent classic characters. With characters such as Peter Pan and Pinocchio, it seems clear the parade is now attempting to cater for more guests than simply those supporting the Villain’s devilish ways.

You can now find a full guide to this year’s parade at DLRP Magic!, or a full photo gallery direct from the magic at Photos Magiques.

Update 17:28 GMT: Photos Magiques have now uploaded a full video of this year’s Disney Villain Parade to YouTube, which can be found in 3 parts:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Thursday, 28th September 2006

Once upon a dream job?

After casting sessions earlier this month at Lyon and Montpellier in France, casting moved to the UK last week and is headed for Poland next. The sessions have also given us some more clues and details about the final parade…

Poppy the Monkey posted the following information on our magicforum yesterday:

They are casting in the UK this week also for the new parade. Glasgow was on Sunday, Leeds was yesterday and they are at London today.

After talking earlier to Daniel (Parade Casting), he said they have no idea about dancers for the new parade, and most the anniversary celebrations are still in early planning, as final budgets have only recently been allocated. But they have been been told to recruit more people then normal – as next year the character presence over the whole resort will be “raised considerably”.

The floats will arrive in Paris in January, and rehersals will begin early February. Musically the parade will feature an upbeat, but classical sounding track, with character voices for each float. There will be musical variations for each float too.

And today, on TheDisneyFamily.com forum, more information was given, again from Poppy the Monkey:

I was in Leeds on Tuesday, and was able to sit in on the audition with the panel. They recruited 4 people that day (2 boys and 2 girls) with 10 on a waiting list ready to be called up.

The man who plays the Bouncy Carnival Seagul was on-hand, to trial juggling, stilt walking, flag throwing and Puppeteering. All the people trialed were complete novices, but all 14 new employees are to be trained in these skills over this winter, in preperation for the new parade.

They also found an amazing new Jasmine at the Leeds auditions, look out for her next month – she looks fantastic! The auditions move to Poland next week!

You can also see an official UK casting announcement here.

It seems that, in addition to featuring a huge range of performers (from puppeteers to stilt walkers and many more), Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade will feature a huge mix of performers from right across Western and Central Europe, bringing the continent together to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of its own Magic Kingdom.

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