Thursday, 4th March 2010

Refurb roundup: Town Square Photography shies away

As you enter Disneyland Park right now, the view along Main Street USA is a scene of change — the banners and castle decorations of Mickey’s Magical Party finally in their last days after a year of ruining photos, and there on the right, two buildings enjoying a full refurbishment.

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

The first to be wrapped in scaffolding was Disney Clothiers, Ltd. back in mid-February. Since then, the white tarpaulin covering has been given a very smart dressing-up to resemble the hidden façade itself, on all three sides.

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

This has become a trend for all Main Street refurbishments in recent years and is a real sign of Disney-quality operations alive and well. The covered Disney Clothiers has even had its entrance widened to full width and false windows put in either side of the scaffolding!

Disneyland Paris refurbishments Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Backing up a little, the big news on the street is Town Square Photography being given the exact same treatment. The famous Kodak-sponsored photography store is currently hidden behind a refurbishment covering for much of its exterior — only the blue “photographic studio” section next to Discovery Arcade on the left remains uncovered.

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

This is noticeably more ramshackle in appearance than the slick refurb covering next door, but it’s likely we’ll soon be seeing a similar fake Town Square Photography façade unravelled soon enough.

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

With no flowers yet in bloom, there are still plenty of changes yet to come for Main Street before the “New Generation” lands… as always, March is going to be a busy month.

Over at Peter Pan’s Flight, the work has been and gone. The ride re-opened from a regular refurbishment in the first week of February:

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Changes outside don’t appear to have stretched above ground level this time, though the refurbishment did see all the queue line walls and barriers repainted in their original light green. Inside, all effects and lighting were fully freshened-up.

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Over in Adventureland, a project begun last year has finally restarted — replacing the rough jungle terrain in numerous parts of the land. In recent years, the concrete paths have become almost as perilous as tackling the suspension bridge with a gang of schoolchildren, littered with holes and cracks…

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Last year large areas of Discoveryland’s floor were replaced, including around Star Tours and entire area between Space Mountain and Orbitron. Some work was done here in Adventureland, near the Frontierland border, and it appears an even larger job is now ongoing, resurfacing the area front of Restaurant Hakuna Matata and therefore closing this important thoroughfare to Adventureland Bazaar.

Hopefully the area you see above, outside the fences, along with countless other places around the resort will be given the same treatment — this needs to be a rolling project given the state of many pathways.

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Since the entire path here is closed, so too is Restaurant Hakuna Matata itself (not a rare event, in truth), with signs pointing across to Au Chalet de la Marionnette in Fantasyland — although you might just be better doing a u-turn and going to Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost, unless that’s also closed…

And finally, the date many people have been waiting for: Friday, 19th March 2010. That’s the date when the Castle bridge refurbishment is scheduled to end, finally reopening the main route into the front of the Castle after a major two-month project to partly rebuild and rewire it. It’ll miss St Patrick’s Day, but still — only two weeks to go…

Now an annual tradition in this era of theme years, March is when everything changes.

Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP

Tuesday, 16th February 2010

Refurb roundup: Disney Clothiers wrapped up

Starting on Main Street, U.S.A., Photos Magiques were keen-eyed enough to spot the disappearance of the balcony railing around the top of Disney Clothiers, Ltd. in their latest update:

Disneyland Park Refurbishments

Just a week later, and the building is fully encased in scaffolding and tarpaulin wraps for a complete exterior refurbishment:

Disneyland Park Refurbishments

Disneyland Park Refurbishments

Disneyland Park Refurbishments

Access to the boutique is still available through gaps in the construction walls below and from Main Street Motors and Boardwalk Candy Palace either side.

At the end of Main Street, the big project of the moment is hard to miss:

Disneyland Park Refurbishments

While the stone (or rather, concrete) bridge across to Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant continues its extensive reconstruction, the giant waterfall (Fungus Falls) and the waterways surrounding it have been turned off and, on the left of the moat area, had their perimeter dug up.

Disneyland Park Refurbishments

Disneyland Park Refurbishments

Taking a peek through the construction walls, the following photo appears to show the first section of the bridge’s walls have now been completely removed, matching reports that the bridge would be partly rebuilt. Previously, they lined up perfectly with the end of the green railings, curving up to the bridge itself. Now, nothing but a gap…

Disneyland Park Refurbishments

Since postings on various forums suggest some visitors have been told the Castle is “closed” it’s worth stating again that it most certainly isn’t. Following the smart “By Royal Decree” signs on the construction walls, you can still access the inside of Sleeping Beauty Castle, its two boutiques and first-floor gallery.

Disneyland Park Refurbishments Disneyland Park Refurbishments

A great (and equally spectacular) way to enter the Castle during the work its via the Dragon’s lair to the left of the bridge — spot the path leading to it in the very first photo above.

Heading across to the Studios, it’s been some time since the repaint of the Walt Disney Television Studios building finally finished up, massively improving the building’s look…

Walt Disney Studios Park Refurbishments

Though all this time later, the ‘Walt Disney Television Studios’ lettering which used to span the front canopy has yet to reappear. And who can fail to notice, the colourful Art Deco/Streamline Moderne satellite dish mural on the building’s corner was hastily painted right over with a solid teal…

Walt Disney Studios Park Refurbishments

Unfortunately the same impulsive attitude hasn’t yet been applied to Disney Studio 1, which remains covered by scaffolding around 583 days since the refurbishment covering was put up and approximately 1656 days since that first Chicken Little billboard rose up in 2005.

Pictures by Dlrpteam, Photos Magiques (more) and DLRP Today.

Sunday, 31st January 2010

Refurb roundup: From Peter Pan to Castle Bridge

First, a scheduled refurbishment for Peter Pan’s Flight, which began on Monday.

Refurb Roundup: From Castle Bridge to Peter Pan

Refurb Roundup: From Castle Bridge to Peter Pan

With major modifications in recent years such as the “air gates” in the loading area, the work this year is focusing on pure refurbishment. On the outside, general repainting and restoring details in the queue area.

Refurb Roundup: From Castle Bridge to Peter Pan

Refurb Roundup: From Castle Bridge to Peter Pan

The attraction reopens, all freshened up next Saturday, 6th February.

Retracing our steps through Fantasyland, we stumble upon the big one: the Castle Bridge. A couple of weeks ago we reported the sudden, unannounced closure of the bridge, which was swiftly wrapped in scaffolding and tarpaulin covers on all sides.

Refurb Roundup: From Castle Bridge to Peter Pan

Refurb Roundup: From Castle Bridge to Peter Pan

While the front of the bridge has a pleasing Sleeping Beauty theme, the sides are as wrapped up as could possibly be — we’ll likely see no sign of changes or improvements at all until they come down.

And when will that be? Still no date, sorry. But we do have a few new details since the last report. Though not being completely replaced as some rumours suggested, the bridge will see indeed a part of its structure replaced, along with extensive works to rewire and upgrade its lighting.

Refurb Roundup: From Castle Bridge to Peter Pan

Refurb Roundup: From Castle Bridge to Peter Pan

So, it could well be another month or more. And when the scaffolding comes down, it’ll look fresh and new but not any different — the original plans are being strictly stuck to.

Until then, as mentioned previously, there are still many places for that classic photo in front of the Castle, such as the Adventureland and Royal Castle Stage areas. Or stand a little further back up Main Street, U.S.A. and you won’t see it at all (although you might need to use someone’s head to block out the persistent Mickey’s Magical Party decorations).

Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.

Saturday, 30th January 2010

More Princess Tiana – plus a talk with her creator

For many of us, in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, this is the week. In just a few short days, we get to see a brand new, traditionally-animated Disney musical on the big screen. At one time, that would have been unthinkable. It’s almost too much to bear.

And, for those lucky enough to follow that up with a trip to Disneyland Paris from April onwards, they’ll also get to see the film’s modern-thinking heroine in person. To tease us for that event, another new photo has been released of the star peering from the Castle balcony, just as she does in the film…

Princess Tiana

This follows the first photo, featuring Prince Naveen, released a couple of weeks ago.

To get yourself even more hyped up for the film, what better way than hopping over to DLRP, where our interviews host Jérémie Noyer has taken a diversion from Disneyland Paris to the Walt Disney Animation Studios in California, to talk with Mark Henn, supervising animator of Princess Tiana herself!

In this fascinating insight — which, don’t worry, is spoiler-free — Mark talks about the challenge of animating Disney’s first princess to progress on-screen from a little girl to a grown up adult… not to mention a small green frog. He also discusses the very modern personality flaws of both Tiana and Naveen, how Lady and Tramp served as inspiration for the film’s “look” and what role he’s already preparing to take for Disney’s next traditionally-animated feature, Winnie the Pooh.

This is the perfect lead-in for the film — Enjoy! ›

Image © Disney.

Saturday, 16th January 2010

Castle bridge under wraps as frost thaws

All that snow was a wonderful thing for desktop wallpapers, but what does it do to our delicate Disney theme parks? Could the fact that the bridge leading over to Sleeping Beauty Castle has suddenly just been prepared for refurbishment be linked to the icy conditions?

The scaffolding grew from around 5th January onwards and the bridge is now completely closed, as shown in these pictures from our new photo reporter, dlrpteam:

Castle bridge under wraps as frost thaws

It’s interesting to note that this refurbishment has not been announced in advance via the resort’s usual internal refurbishments calendar, which provides a much more detailed overlay of maintenance works than that provided by Disneyland Paris to visitors.

Despite that, the walls at the front of the bridge have now been covered by a very nicely-designed series of Sleeping Beauty graphics, which must suggest at least some forward planning:

Castle bridge under wraps as frost thaws

They include one of the Castle itself, reminiscent of the old Euro Disney branding:

Castle bridge under wraps as frost thaws

Long-time readers will know that we’ve been here before. In February 2008, the bridge was given a scaffolding overlay for several weeks before being uncovered looking fresh and good-as-new.

Back then, rumour was rife that the work could be due to freeze-rot in the concrete of the structure — a process where water fills existing cracks, freezes and expands, gradually making the cracks bigger. If this process was left untreated, causing considerable damage, it could get to a point where the bridge needed much more than simple repair work.

Whilst this theory is again only speculation, the sudden renovation project — with those enormous walls — does look to be on rather an imposing scale indeed. Its absence from the internal refurbishment schedules also means no end date can currently be confirmed.

Pictures: Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.

Wednesday, 13th January 2010

Let it snow! Beautiful wintry pictures of Disneyland Paris

When our landscapes are given a white blanket like this, the whole world suddenly feels like a theme park. Paths don’t end where they normally do, the roads extend right up to the hedgerows, the fields and hills seem boundary-less.

If it seems unnatural having this much snowfall in our normal towns and villages, take a look at Disneyland Paris. The resort’s press department have been smart enough to brave the sub-zero temperatures to capture some beautiful views of the park with its current layer of strange white icing — from the “tropical” islands of Adventureland to the peaks of the Wild West!

As well as clicking the images to open up the normal, larger versions, we’re also sharing full size 1600px versions perfect for your desktop — just click the “Wallpaper” link below each.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

A medieval fantasy, frozen in time.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

The spindly, creeping gardens of Phantom Manor halted by snow…

Disneyland Paris in the snow

No better time to pop inside Bonaza Outfitters and wrap yourself up in some warm Western gear!

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

Not many takers for the outdoor seats today, with Cowboy Cookout Barbeque offering a roasting hot fire and live country music inside.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

Pirates of the… Arctic Circle? Adventureland is a bizarre landscape of tropical snow.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

Steaming through the winter landscape, nothing stops the Disneyland Railroad‘s grand circle tour.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

As night falls, a warm Fantasyland tea party to celebrate your Unbirthday seems very inviting indeed.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

Sun fading, there’ll be no wedding today.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

A magical landscape lighting up the night, ready to brave it again tomorrow…

No Disney resort feels the full effects of the four seasons quite like Disneyland Paris. When you’re next gritting your driveway, imagine clearing and preparing every stretch of the two theme parks for guests each morning. If you’ve had trouble starting your car to get into work, imagine “firing up” the Disneyland Railroad engines on a bitterly cold morning and keeping them steaming around the park ’til sundown. Not to mention making sure the runaway trains of Big Thunder Mountain never get held up, and that Dumbo can can keep on flying.

In weather like this, the whole designed environment, the whole operation, is that bit more exceptional. And as you can see, exceptionally beautiful at the same time.

Pictures © Disney.

Thursday, 7th January 2010

Princess Tiana’s first Disneyland Paris photo shoot

Like the transformation from frog to prince, no more will we have to refer to that terrible photoshopping of her character model onto the Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade float, as the press department have published this new — real — photo just a few minutes ago:

Princess Tiana's first Disneyland Paris photo shoot

And they both look stunning, don’t you think?

Despite the film already showing at cinemas/theaters in several European countries, and due to have finished its release schedule here by mid February, it looks increasingly likely that we really will have to wait right up until 2nd April 2010 — the launch date of the New Generation Festival — for this much-anticipated Disney couple from New Orleans to begin official duties at Disneyland Paris, which will include starring on the Dreams of Romance parade float.

Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee, a live song and dance show on the Mark Twain riverboat, has been incredibly popular at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World Florida, but was cut from early proposals for the New Generation Festival line up likely due to costs and logistics of such a complicated performance. As the show comes to the end of its initial run in Florida, some reports have suggested the costumes could be headed for Paris, but rumours also point to the contrary — that they’d stay put for the show to continue in Florida — and Disneyland Paris appear to have no plans for the show as yet.

Photo © Disney.

Tuesday, 22nd December 2009

Small World’s grand scale Celebration, in video

Just across the hub from that lifeless market and lacking tree, Disneyland Paris got something oh-so right. For the first time since 2003, possibly earlier, classic boat ride “it’s a small world” was completely redecorated to celebrate holidays around the world.

The fact that we can’t quite place exactly the year when this overlay stopped happening is a bit embarrassing. Perhaps as fans we should have missed it a bit more loudly, or perhaps in 2002/2003 we were worried about other things (like the serious financial difficulties, lack of future attractions for the Studios).

Nevertheless, it’s back — and wow, is it back. If the stupendous colours, music and movement of “it’s a small world” weren’t enough to leave you on a dizzy high for days normally, now the whole, dazzling show is just simply alive

The reason for this success is simple: respect. All the cultural celebrations, the festive music and hundreds of new costumes have been integrated with absolute perfection into the existing show. It’s a complete labour of love toward the Imagineers’ original creation. Where decorations like the Mickey’s Magical Party emblem on Sleeping Beauty Castle treat the park like a dead canvas, this overlay is something that brings it to life.

From the Candlelight Processional to the Star Wars Weekends and many more, one of the first things to notice about the American resorts for a Disneyland Paris fan is the sheer number of annual events which happen like clockwork each and every year. At the young age of 17, and probably no thanks to the countless changes (management and otherwise) it has seen over that short time, Disneyland Paris just hasn’t built up as many of these traditions.

Hopefully, the return of “it’s a small world” Celebration every November can now be one of them.

— And the good news is, if you’ve yet to book, had your trip interrupted thanks to Eurostar or otherwise, because this Celebration recognises everything from Sinterklaas to Chinese New Year, the overlay stays in place right up to 15th February 2010.

Sunday, 6th December 2009

Snow White’s Happily Ever After gets new hag-hurdle

From this weekend, the 8-minute show has been extended slightly with a new scene adding yet another character — the event is already a very unique chance to see Snow White, her Prince and all seven Dwarfs together at once in Paris.

Now, the fun is interrupted by the Evil Queen in her Old Hag disguise, who skulks on-stage to tempt Snow White with a gleaming red apple. And — oh, she never learns — the white-as-snow damsel takes a bite and falls onto a new white plinth, handily positioned nearby.

The “Happily Ever After” then becomes a more emotive finale than before, as the Prince is able to wake his future Princess from her deathly sleep and lead her in a jovial waltz to the finish.

Characters Photos News has provided the first video via YouTube:

It’s an interesting move since, as the show’s director Katy Harris points out in our interview just published earlier today, the show is really meant to be nothing more than a brief medley of the show’s key scenes, rather than a full stage-show story.

Though the event is obviously still small, this scene takes it closer to exactly that.

Perhaps, one day soon, the Entertainment team will once again be allowed to create a fuller, longer show in that classic Disney tradition for this — or any — of the park’s stages.

• Read our full interview with show director Katy Harris here!

Sunday, 22nd November 2009

It’s a Small World – Celebration all-round!

Alongside a full refurbishment of the ride, the two weeks of closure from 9th to 20th November saw 200 dolls redressed in brand new costumes, the addition of 150 special props and accessories and, for the first time ever, the addition of the special Christmas soundtrack, never before heard in Paris.

The Celebrations begin outside, where the whole attraction signage has been switched out for a new design of flags in red and green, dotted with snow flakes, sitting on golden yellow flagpoles.

It's a Small World - Celebration all-round!

It's a Small World - Celebration all-round!

Captured by Scrooge on Disney Magic Interactive, the exterior decoration also features dressing on the boat, a “Celebration” caption on the secondary entrance sign and an additional notice explaining that throughout our cruise we’ll see “the traditional celebrations which bring all the children together”.

And inside? First we direct you to a special interview with costuming production senior manager Hélène Hanquez on DLRP, all about the returning overlay. Not only will you find some exclusive photographs, like that below, but it’s full of interesting details behind the overlay.

It's a Small World - Celebration all-round!

It appears it was none other than George Kalogridis, our departing operations chief, who suggested the return, with the entire project — including repairing or entirely replacing many of the old costumes — completed in just 4 months. The results, even from the few photos seen so far, are beautiful.

“There are some absolutely splendid costumes, sequinned, satiny, with an enormous amount of feathers and fabric more radiant than ever before…” — Hélène Hanquez

Though no doubt, the most exciting revelation from Hélène is the inclusion of seasonal music in the overlay for the first time. Coming from the American parks, the Small World Christmas mix features the classic Sherman Brothers theme interspersed with festive songs such as Jingle Bells — naturally, sung in several languages. A 15-minute compilation was released on the Musical History of Disneyland CD box set, and a festive mix is reportedly being played even outside the attraction, replacing the regular area loop!

It's a Small World - Celebration all-round!

All this is quite a pleasant surprise from a resort usually timid to attempt seasonal overlays of its attractions. An interesting post from a member named “RiverRogue” on magicforum might explain some of the background to the project — which appears to be distant from the Entertainment department, who usually reign over Christmas:

Well suspected; from what I’ve gathered seasonal entertainment didn’t have much to do with this year’s “Celebration”. Its project manager comes from a business-related department and was a long-time operational cast member. When he proposed the project he was given a very tight budget and in my opinion made the most of it, not least because he’s very hands-on and did a lot of things himself.

As for the graphics and music, he enlisted a friend of his (also a former operator) in the merchandise division to do the graphic design and audio mixing. The signage was then physically produced in the resort’s Central Shops while Imagineering and the audio maintenance crew installed the new music.

Lights, projections, sequins, feathers, shimmering costumes and sparkly music… This might just be the Celebration to top all others. Bravo and all our greatest thanks to those who pushed for its return and worked so hard to complete it to this standard.

Though the oceans are wide and the mountains divide, you want to see Christmas in Disneyland Paris more than ever now, right?

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