Tuesday, 13th January 2009

France Télécom hangs up on “small world”

Compared to the complexities of attraction sponsorship at other Disney resorts, Disneyland Resort Paris has always been far more reserved. And indeed, though its grand opening saw everything from Le Visionarium to Star Tours coupled with an official corporate partner, this decade in particular has seen many of them change — or disappear altogether.

So, it might come as no surprise to hear to hear that Disneyland Park just lost another attraction sponsor. But then again, this was perhaps the last remaining original sponsor from opening day (if we don’t count the shift of Kodak from Captain EO to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience) — France Télécom at “it’s a small world”.

France Telecom at it's a small world

When the attraction returned from its refurbishment in late November (17th to 28th), all signs of the national French telecommunications company had vanished. The most obvious, of course, being the large flag with the company’s logo in the attraction’s entrance fountain.

This was quickly switched-out for a new purple flag reading “Join the happiest cruise that ever sailed around the world”.

France Telecom at it's a small world
Source: Scrooge, Disney Magic Interactive forum.

As you walk up the hill toward the queue line, the secondary attraction logo has had its “France Télécom” footer removed and replaced with a few musical notes, which appear to be those from the attraction’s famous Sherman Brothers theme song.

France Telecom at it's a small world
Source: Scrooge, Disney Magic Interactive forum.

Though it’s the ‘World Chorus’ post-show with which France Télécom has always been synonymous, the branding of the company was never strongly present, at least in recent years, and so this land of animated video clips will continue to live on.

France Telecom at it's a small world

Now, whilst the France Télécom name may have apparently disappeared for good from the resort, that’s not to say the corporation itself has hung up completely. Besides continuing as a telecoms provider for the resort behind-the-scenes, they’ve got arguably an even more important brand somewhere else — Orange, at Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic.

One of the most easily-missed sponsors it may be (particularly since the Hollywood transformation of the attraction’s entrance), but for France Télécom this is a brand that doesn’t only have significance in France — you’ll find Orange in Belgium, Spain, Switzlerand, Austria and the UK to name a few.

But, for “it’s a small world”, France Télécom have made their call.

• Find more photos of “it’s a small world” at Photos Magiques.

Wednesday, 13th August 2008

Refurbishment finally set for Alice’s Curious Labyrinth!

The noise began way back in the early months of 2008. Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, the walk-through and maze at the back of Fantasyland, entirely unique to the Paris park, had not had a good Winter. Paint was peeling, props were dying, lights were dark and green dirt was growing.

On 20th February, we brought the pictures and calls for a refurbishment from the French Disney Central Plaza forum to an English audience with our Wish List article “Return to Wonderland”.

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The noise continued for several months on magicforum, Disney Central Plaza and beyond, as fans brought home pictures of the labyrinth’s desperate state in a desperate hope that someone at Disneyland Resort Paris would stumble upon the problem. We touched upon it again in our latest Wish List entry, “Priorities of paint”, charting the confusion of seeing unimportant areas repainted before the attraction that needs it most.

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Well, today we’ve got some exciting news via our partners. It appears the calls have been heard. Be it Bob Iger’s recent visit to the resort, the considerable noise from the fan community, a maintenance crew member suddenly discovering the problem, budget finally being made available or it just simply “being time”, the refurbishment is coming!!

To be exact, Alice’s Curious Labyrinth is now scheduled to close in September for ONE MONTH (an entire month!) to allow for a complete refurbishment. The source for this news, magicforum admin Kristof, also confirms that several brand new replacement props are already waiting backstage to be installed.

Forget your unbirthday, now this calls for a tea party!

[Pictures: DCP members]

Thursday, 31st July 2008

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties arrive!

We’ve known the frights of Disney’s Halloween Party for over 10 years now. The special “hard-ticket” event begin in 1997 and has continued to bring a more adult, eerie and frightening evening of entertainment to Disneyland Park every year since on 31st October — occasionally with additional dates.

Now, as Disney’s Halloween Festival enters its second decade of events in Paris, the entertainment directors are planning their biggest shake-up of the after-hours parties yet. You might have already heard the rumours earlier this year, but if not, we’ll announce it for you — Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties are coming to Paris!

This will be a brand new, extra ticketed event for Disneyland Park playing across three Fridays (10th, 17th and 24th) and one Tuesday (28th) in October 2008. Though the name comes directly from our friends over at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida’s Magic Kingdom park, the event in Paris will be entirely different and, at least for its first year, quite a bit more intimate. There will be no Boo-to-You Parade or Hallowishes fireworks, the name is, in fact, the only similarity.

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Official advertisement visual.

Central to the occasion will be Fantasyland, made over with special decorations and illuminations, welcoming you not only to almost all its attractions but exclusive new shows, entertainments and character meets throughout the land.

Here’s the full press release:

NEW: Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

This year, Disneyland Resort Paris will host 4 brand new parties at Disneyland® Park during the month of October 2008 for younger guests who like to dress up and want to celebrate Halloween with Disney Characters.

The Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties welcome families for an evening in Fantasyland® dressed up as Halloween for the occasion. Fantasyland will have a special décor giving an unusual atmosphere with exclusive night time shows, and roguish Disney Characters and Jack Sparrow, new music, and Streetmosphere and many other surprises.

Guests will sing, dance and laugh with Merlin and the four surprising witches: Minnie, Lilo, Daisy and Clarice in the castle courtyard and will enjoy the final Halloween happening at the end of the evening.

Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey, Le Carrousel de Lancelot, Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, ‘it’s a small world’, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Pirates of the Carribean will be open.

The Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties will run from 8.00pm to 11.00pm. (Dates: October, 10 … 17 … 24 … 28, 2008) and the Parties ticket holders can benefit of entering the Park as early as 5.pm.

**Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties tickets will be available at 25€ for adult and children (free for children under 3 years old). Attendance is limited for these events in order to ensure premium experience, we recommend to buy tickets in advance on www.disneylandparis.com or to call + 33 1 60 30 60 53

The idea is to tap into some of those brand new younger guests now visiting Disneyland Resort Paris in greater numbers thanks to the long-running “Kids Under 7 Stay & Play FREE” promotion of the 15th Anniversary years. The target age will therefore be 4 to 7 year olds, with these Fantasyland attractions and friendlier characters chosen to suit. The party also therefore ends a little earlier than that of the 31st October, at 11pm, and stays within Fantasyland for the duration.

However, with the promise of special entertainments created just for these four parties, not to mention new costumes for many of the characters and the chance to enjoy Fantasyland and Pirates of the Caribbean at night — likely under the glow of special illuminations — it should be a welcome new addition to the Disneyland Resort Paris calendar for even the oldest fans.

Tickets are available to book now via your local Disneyland Resort Paris hotline.

[Images © Disney]

Thursday, 19th October 2006

Diving deeper into the lost Mermaid attraction

The Little Mermaid attraction would have utilised a ride system very similar to Peter Pan’s Flight, except rather than flying pirate ships, guests would have travelled in large “clamobiles”, programmed to give the sensation they were being pushed and guided by currents, rather than flight.

The most talked-about feature of the attraction, though, has always been the “dry for wet” technology featured on each clamobile to simulate the clam’s dive underwater. The attraction was to have started off on dry land, at Prince Eric’s castle, and then after a few initial scenes, as Sebastien sings the lyrics from “Under the Sea”, your vehicle would have dived downwards to a lower-level show scene. As this happened, water would have flooded between two panes of glass in your clamobile to simulate the dive. Then, just before the “Kiss the Girl” scene, your clam bobs back up to the surface and floats along, with the water draining from the glass at the same time.

And now, something many Disneyland Resort Paris fans waited countless years to see – extensive concept art from this lost attraction. For the full experience with Imagineer commentary, you should buy the DVD, but in most cases these astonishing concepts speak for themselves…

Thanks again to Kristof for these screencaps!

The first image is actually one of the most interesting, showing an exterior design that never made it past rough sketches, and appearing to resemble some kind of Dumbo-style ride. The later exterior design of Prince Eric’s castle, seen as a concept model in numerous images above, shows how perfectly this undersea attraction would have mixed with Fantasia Gelati and Pizzeria Bella Notte nearby.

Although this attraction is likely lost forever, not least because of the current slew of Nemo attractions filling the void for an “undersea” theme, we can at last – after 15 years – enjoy this full sneak peek and hope that perhaps a couple of the still yet-to-be-realised ideas seen here will be featured in some way at Crush’s Coaster in June 2007.

This is the 100th post on DLRP Today!

Wednesday, 18th October 2006

The long-lost Undersea Adventure

Usually, unless you’re still a toddler, the “Games & Activities” section of Disney DVDs is the weakest of them all, but this time Disney have tried something completely different. They’ve taken the “Virtual Safari” idea from The Lion King’s DVDs and transferred the concept to a real Disney theme park attraction… almost. See, the attraction featured never actually made it off the drawing board, which makes this all the more interesting. Better still, this attraction was supposed to originally find its home in Paris, before then being transferred to other resorts if successful. Alas, like Discovery Mountain, the Indiana Jones Jungle Adventure, Splash Mountain, Toon Town and the Beauty and the Beast animatronic show, this expensive attraction was cancelled as soon as Euro Disney hit financial trouble.

Before this Autumn, the closest look we’ve had at the atraction was a quick glance at concept models during the Euro Disney Grand Opening TV special, the “F-File” articles at DLP.info or the attraction’s showbuilding on Euro Disneyland’s grand opening map (seen above). Luckily, then, Disney have dug through the archives to put together one of their most eagerly anticipated DVD extras – a full, CGI ride-through of “the attraction that never was”, running 4 minutes 15 seconds. But that’s not all – the DVD also includes the option to exprience the ride-through in a split-screen version, with an Imagineer (no less than Euro Disney legend Tony Baxter himself) riding alongside, describing details and showing concept art. Finally, a featurette running 5 minutes 53 seconds features Imagineer interviews and discussion about the attraction.

UltimateDisney.com, the online bible for Disney DVDs, described the features in their review of the DVD:

In design, the ride is not all that different from the very popular Peter Pan’s Flight. It feels very much like a real Disney park ride (complete with English and Spanish announcements after departing the queue area), though there are a few obvious differences: you don’t get to pick what you look at, but it moves slow enough to allow you to appreciate every detail (something that’s definitely not true of most of the brisk Fantasyland attractions). Also, there is no FastPass, but amazingly enough, there is no line whatsoever.
The commentary — another neat, unique touch — is provided by Tony Baxter, senior vice president at Disney Imagineering, who explains the thought that goes into designing a ride like this, from different effects to making sure that guests’ eyes are able to adjust to the dark setting. Concluding this sub-section is “Behind The Ride That Almost Was with Disney Imagineers” (5:53), a featurette which puts it all into context. Here, lots of informed interview subjects explain traits of the ride (which was put on hold in 1992) including the little touches that normally don’t get appreciated after your vehicle comes to a stop.

The “Platinum Edition” DVD will be released in the UK on the 4th November, Netherlands on 18th October and Germany on 2nd November, but is already available in France and the US, where it sold a staggering 4 million copies in its first week.

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