Friday, 2nd March 2012

LEDs ready to light up ‘Disney Dreams!’ fountains as water flows back into castle moat

We’re not the only ones watching every movement in the moat of Sleeping Beauty Castle. As the waterfall in the château’s hillside began thundering again and water flowed back into its basin, DisneyGazette.fr caught even the resident ducks marvelling at the completed fountain installation for Disney Dreams! — now with LED lights. Similar, if not identical, to the illumination of the World of Color fountains in California, sealed metal rings of LED lights are fixed around the spout of each fountain. Twenty-four energy efficient, high power LED beams are split into eight groups of three, with each providing either a red, blue or green colour to give the light a whole spectrum of possibilities. Sitting at the base of the fountain, this beam of coloured light will flow through the water jet to make it come alive with light and colour as it shoots into the air, almost as high as the castle itself.

A completed set of fountains, with hardware and wiring cleaned up and freshly submerged, also allows us to get a better overview of what exactly the water effects comprise. We can count a total of 38 standard fountains, with vertical spouts and LED rings sitting above the water, split between 18 on the left of the castle bridge and 20 on the right. In addition, there are 6 special, angled water jets, again with LED illumination — made up of 3 on either side of the castle. These are angled inwards to the castle bridge and will allow for “arc” effects in the water as specific moments in the show.

Finally, the high-powered jets detailed in a previous update come in at a total of 12. Believed to be boosted by compressed air to launch them higher than the castle, these comprise 6 jets on each side of the moat, housed together within a self-contained unit. This gives Disney Dreams! a grand total of 56 fountains — not including the two enormous water screen towers, which have yet to be disguised. A modest number indeed, compared to the over 1,200 fountains which World of Color solely relies on for its show, but certainly enough as only one element of a wider effects-packed spectacle.

And how did those fountains get finished up with LED lights so fast? The answer from @InsideDLParis, who caught technicians installing the rings even as the moat was filling with water, wearing waders and working even through park operating hours to get the effects ready in time for testing.

Meanwhile, the all-important control centre where they’ll be launched from each night — otherwise known as the ‘Parks Landscaping Department’ — now has two more details with the addition of lamps both under its porch awning and atop a lamppost outside. Let’s hope the inside has been fitted with special duck-monitoring equipment, to prevent any Donald Duck-style mishaps come April…

PHOTOS DisneyGazette.fr, @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Tuesday, 28th February 2012

Mystery of the ‘Disney Dreams!’ water screen towers, rising from the castle moat

Now you see them, now you… still see them. But soon you won’t. Besides the 50 or so fountains now installed in the moat of Sleeping Beauty Castle for Disney Dreams!, two enormous other water effects have recently made their mark on this fairytale landscape. In the middle of the moat on either side of the bridge, a towering steel construction rises above the heads of passing guests. Camouflaged, for now, into the grey cliffside and stone walls of the castle from a distance, their size is nevertheless impressive. Their use is no mystery at all: these are the two vital water screens to be used throughout the show.

Water will be pumped at high pressure up the large pipe at the rear of the tower, before hitting the curved, semi-circular head of the tower at enough velocity to erupt upwards in a fine, fan-shaped spray, creating a perfect projection screen. Before this happens, however, the pipe will be elevated even further into the air at the start of each show using compressed air and a pneumatic lift inside its main support beam, lifting it to perhaps almost double the height seen here.

Projectors positioned behind each tower, now being squeezed into the rockwork and stone wall of the castle, will project images to accompany those mapped across the castle, expanding and completing the scene. The show will notably open with Peter Pan projected on one screen and Wendy on the other, as the Second Star to the Right shines from the castle’s top window above.

Since the photos here by ThemeParkZone.es were taken on 16th February, the towers have been fully connected up ready for testing and the moat refilled to around half its depth, so their excellent photo update is a great last chance to see all the Disney Dreams! equipment before it was hidden by water.


So, the only mystery here now is how these giant steel towers will be hidden. It was expected before work began that they might rise and sink completely into the water, but the towers are clearly permanently installed at this height. Since they haven’t been painted before installation, it will now be a case of cladding or wrapping them in a themed finish to match the environment. RadioDisneyClub.fr has reported that a company fittingly called Neverland Themepark Decorations could be working on the final design; their website states them to be specialists in themed concrete creations…

VIA ThemeParkZone.es

Monday, 27th February 2012

First 20th Anniversary Extended Hours revealed: 9.30, 10.30, 11pm bedtimes ahead in April!

April is a busy month for Disneyland Paris, but it’s also outside of the main summer high season. For years that has meant, no matter how busy the parks, you’d see no fireworks and certainly stay no later than 10pm — 8 or 9pm on weekdays. The Extended Hours announced for the 20th Anniversary — primarily to make sure Disney Dreams! can be performed under darkness — promised to change that and revolutionise the annual calendar of the resort. Well, here we go.

Park opening hours for the first half of April 2012 have now been published (check them here), giving us our first look at exactly what “Extended Hours” mean. The first two weekends of April now see Disneyland Park open until 10.30pm, giving up to an hour and a half more time than the same period last year (check our archived hours here). On the weekend of the 14th and 15th, that extends further to the magical 11pm; the first 11pm closing time in April for almost two decades. Meanwhile weekdays see a solid 9.30pm closing time, again an increase of up to an hour and a half on last year.

It’s important to note that these Extended Hours are really just regular park opening hours… extended. Merely a way to promote the longer hours required to see darkness fall over Sleeping Beauty Castle — and all those Disney Dreams! effects come to life. The unconnected Extra Magic Hours, which are available in the morning, continue for Disney Hotel guests and Annual Passport Dream holders.

These new hours not only add a great deal more value to park tickets (and particularly resort hotel stays), they herald the moment where Disneyland Paris is ready to grow up, to start acting like a real Disney park. Previously weighted far too heavily towards the two summer months of July and August, the resort’s old calendar saw pretty much the entire rest of the year besides Christmas relegated to “off season”. If you wanted the “full Disney experience” of later hours, darkness falling over Main Street and nighttime entertainment, you had to wait until summer — and stump up the prices to match. Now, that full Disney experience will be available every day and every night of the year.

• Flashback: See the very first Euro Disneyland opening times from 1992 here!

Friday, 24th February 2012

New ‘Disney Dreams!’ promo photos, press release promise “explosion of lights and colours”

The buzz for Disney Dreams! has finally hit the Disneyland Paris press website, with both a complete press release for the new nighttime show and several publicity photos from recent after-hours tests. Showing simply a multi-coloured test projection on Sleeping Beauty Castle and a burst of pyrotechnics radiating outwards from behind the château, they’re hardly the most revealing sneak peeks, but at least confirm the surprisingly important presence of fireworks in the show. Disneyland Paris has long had problems with the noise and cost of fireworks, limiting them to just two summer months and special events. Since we all really thought the fountains, projections and other effects would be there to make up for a move away from pyrotechnics, avoiding those perceived problems, it’s exciting to see that they will truly be an important element of the new, nightly and year-round spectacular.

A third image was also released alongside these two, and has been published elsewhere online. However, a quick look at the flowery projections on the castle — and more tellingly the photo’s EXIF data — reveals it was taken at 23:05 on 13th July 2011, in other words during The Enchanted Fireworks, so probably doesn’t offer a glimpse at Disney Dreams! at all.

What does come packed with information about this 20th Anniversary spectacular, though, is a new press release dedicated to the show. Detailing the music, the story and all the “elements” it’s a revealing read — but only in French. Lucky then we’ve translated it all into English!

Complete translated press release follows… Read More…

Friday, 17th February 2012

‘Disney Dreams!’ story scenes revealed: From the Second Star to a shadow on the loose

We know that Disney Dreams! means fountains, fire, projections, lasers and much more, but what story will all these elements be telling? This morning’s Euro Disney S.C.A. Annual General Meeting naturally put Disneyland Paris’ 20th Anniversary and its new nighttime show in the spotlight, revealing some key plot points along the way. Fans tweeting live from the event shared details of the five key “acts” making up the show as they were announced, all appearing to relate back to the storyline of Peter Pan and his shadow. While the show will combine many of the best elements of other Disney nighttime spectaculars (and then some), it could be this narrative, threading the entire thing together, that sets it apart.

An opening act titled The Magic of the Second Star will surely be the grand moment when the “second star to the right” of Peter Pan fame ignites at the top of Sleeping Beauty Castle, causing pixie dust to pour out across the castle’s façade and open up the Disney Dreams.


Pixie dust pours out from the yet-to-shine Second Star

We actually got a glimpse of this in the earlier promo video, where projection tests (pictured above) showed pixie dust apparently pouring out from the tallest tower and engulfing the castle. In the final show, that top window will be glowing with the bright light of the “second star” itself: the effect was installed behind its stained glass star just a few weeks ago. What exactly this “effect” consists of is currently unknown — spotlights, ultra-bright LEDs? — but it has become a key theme of all the 20th Anniversary imagery. Showing a desire to make sure the castle is part of the show, rather than just a flat projection surface, the idea is clever: since the castle has always had a star on its uppermost window, why not make that the “second star to the right” for this show? When it does come to life, it’ll be like it has been hiding there all along, for the past 20 years, just waiting to be ignited…

Scene 2, The Shadow at Play, hints at the importance of Peter Pan’s shadow to the plot. Could he be engaged in a George (CinéMagique) or Donald Duck (Philharmagic)-style trail across Disney classics to retrieve his missing darker side? Perhaps pursued by Captain Hook along the way? Scene 3, Free to Dream, and scene 4, Shadow Battle, hint at what could be lighter and darker elements of the show. The “battle” in particular would be a good call for those fire effects. However, films including Ratatouille, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Jungle Book have all been confirmed to be part of the show, showing a wide spread of stories and characters beyond the usual princesses and villains.

Finally, the finale: Dreams Can Take Us Anywhere. And yet, even with these titles and everything we know so far, we still don’t know quite where they’ll take us. Let the anticipation continue…

VIA @DisneyGazetteFr (Twitter)

Thursday, 16th February 2012

‘Disney Dreams!’ fountains fill castle moat as installation project fights winter freeze

The Disney Dreams! are well on their way, and the most anticipated element of this all-new nighttime spectacular surely has to be: the fountains. A show made of jumping water in the castle moat once seemed a thing of fantasy but, as these latest photos from DisneyGazette.fr confirm, it’s fast becoming a reality. Technical equipment low litters the entire moat of Sleeping Beauty Castle, dotting its length with mysterious brown boxes and running a ring of water jets around its perimeter.

Even as rainwater has frozen solid on the drained bed, work hurries ahead to install the piece of this 20th Anniversary spectacular. So what exactly are we looking at? As expected, it’s a more modest array of wet effects than the enormous (and almost entirely water-based) World of Color, and the fountains installed so far can roughly be grouped into three types of kit…

First up: those long, rectangular boxes, with a bronze spout poking out one end, will be the show’s main fountains. Creating a vertical wall of water running across the width of Central Plaza, extending all the way from the entrance to La Tanière du Dragon to the wishing well and Le Théâtre du Château, they will likely be illuminated from below using a ring of colour-changing LED lights fixed around the spout. There’s a chance some of these 40-or-so fountains will have different capabilities, perhaps the ability to move, as their set-up seems to slightly differ in one or two places.

Meanwhile the moat, usually a protective ring around its neighbouring fortress itself, has been encircled by curious and very long rods of smaller spouts. Connected via a single pipe and tube, there are three of these installations with two on the left side of the drawbridge (either side of the Dragon’s bridge) and one larger array on the right (seen in the first photo above).

Likely to be much lower powered, these spouts will probably be used to add “bulk” to the base of the water display, either as jets of water or more likely a mist effect. Rather than a line of solitary fountains shooting up from the castle moat, this should create a more magical haze of water coming to life in the moat, which can itself be illuminated to add dramatic effect.

Finally, two huge brown boxes at the far ends, either side of the display, are easiest to decipher. These high-powered jets come in two sets of six fountains, their workings specially enclosed as one complete unit. Apparently capable of shooting at least as high as the castle itself (!) we’re guessing thanks to compressed air, another technique brought in from World of Color, they are arranged as five fountains around a central, tallest jet. These incredible fountains were highlight in pink on the show scene model, below, revealed in the recent promo video.

Again, rather than having the castle stand solitary, these tall jets matching its height will help to “bulk out” the spectacle, making it a far more impressive and immersive experience.

A major point of difference with World of Color is that all these fountains have been fixed directly to the concrete bed of the moat. In California, the vast expanse of fountains is laid out across two platforms capable of being lifted out of the water for maintenance, rather than having to drain the entire Paradise Bay lagoon. In Paris, luckily, draining a smaller, shallower fairytale moat is much less daunting task.

If only the same could be said for the challenge now: correctly wiring up and testing each of these new fountains, in time for April 1st!

MORE PHOTOS DisneyGazette.fr

Thursday, 9th February 2012

‘Meet Mickey Mouse’ unveils new colours, but won’t meet 20th Anniversary launch date

“Everything neat and pretty?” Well, not quite. Although some of the wraps came down from Fantasy Festival Stage last week, revealing the former show venue’s new colour palette, it is emerging that its new purpose as a permanent Mickey Mouse meet ‘n’ greet won’t begin right at the launch of the 20th Anniversary as expected. Instead, according to @InsideDLParis, Mickey will don his magician’s cape ready for an opening on 17th May 2012. This is unconfirmed, publicly, by Disneyland Paris.

However, murmurs that the new “attraction” might be delayed were compounded by the curious, vague “Opening Spring 2012” notation added to the recent 20th Anniversary promo video. A mid-May opening places it, conveniently, right in the middle of that timeframe (and puts the pressure on Disney Dreams!, more than ever, to impress on April 1st). And what for the Mouse in the meantime? A “provisional” version of the meet ‘n’ greet could take place at Woody’s Roundup Village, reports admin Mouetto of Disney Central Plaza. This would be similar — but surely better — than the cheap temporary tent which was the Princess Pavilion, in all but name, for six months of the Magical Moments Festival.

The exterior transformation of the stage hasn’t been too dramatic thus far, with just the old “Fantasy Festival Stage” signage removed and new colours on the awnings notable in this photo by Max Fan (see how it used to look here). A bold “Mickey Mouse” red has replaced the green around the sides, while an interesting pastel shade has been used on the old show control booth in the middle.

VIA Max Fan (DCP), @InsideDLParis (Twitter), Mouetto (DCP)

Friday, 13th January 2012

Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary preview video reveals “Disney Dreams!” – and more surprises

“We’re gonna bring the Second Star to the Right and ignite it above the castle…” It’s not a sentence you hear every day but, in this exciting new preview video for the 20th Anniversary released by Disneyland Paris today, Steve Davison casually drops it in amongst a plethora of other surprises. Walt Disney Imagineering’s Creative Director of Entertainment, famed for his work on Fantasmic! and World of Color, joins a number of backstage artists to tease us on the new additions for the anniversary. Show director Katy Harris tells us about the new Mickey Mouse meet ‘n’ greet, while Emmanuel Lenormand shows off detailed concept art for Disney Magic on Parade! and its new costumes.

But it’s the section on Disney Dreams! which is the most surprising — even breathtaking. Real previews are shown of the new castle projection effects, which have been in testing for some time, along with confirmation that the show will feature not just projections, not just fountains, but lasers, pyrotechnics, fire, an original musical score, and perhaps most importantly: a story! When the Second Star to the Right ignites above the castle, the “Disney Dreams” pour out and come to life in “new ways”.

Watch the exciting new preview video below!

Senior technical director Chuck Davis reveals the Imagineers at Creative Entertainment have mapped the whole castle with “pixel accurate video” so it can “do all kinds of great tricks”, while Dave Bossert confirms that water screens will be installed in front of the castle, creaing a huge new canvas for the show to take place on. Particularly interesting to note: Dave is the director of Special Projects at Walt Disney Feature Animation, showing the breadth of Disney talent being combined for this new show.

It’s a rare but incredibly welcome step for Disneyland Paris to let the talent behind its magic tell the stories of new projects like these for once. Similar videos are consistently produced for other resorts, notably California, and always serve to provide both a more exciting teaser for what’s next and a more inspiring insight into the work required to achieve it.

“So that at the end of your day, you can walk away and go: wow, that was cool!”

VIA Disneyland Paris (YouTube)

Wednesday, 11th January 2012

‘Meet Mickey Mouse’ construction continues with new colours at Fantasy Festival Stage

And for his first trick, Mickey will transform Fantasy Festival Stage with a whole new colour scheme! Work continues at the former Fantasyland theatre for this new, permanent, 20th Anniversary meet ‘n’ greet location, with the previously dark green corners of the exterior given a bold new red (photo above by @InsideDLParis). Could we see the theatre given a palette to match the Mouse himself?

This character location is one of the key additions for the upcoming anniversary, making use of the theatre space below Fantasyland Railroad Station that has only seen infrequent use in recent years, for the Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too show. Early rumours that the experience would be very much like the recent Mickey meet ‘n’ greet added to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom appear to have rung entirely true, with pre-publicity visuals showing Mickey preparing his magician’s costume backstage.

The interior layout is still unknown, but we could expect the former auditorium area to become a queuing area while the stage serves as the “backstage” photo location. Given that this really was once a theatre and that it sits in the fitting British area of the land, the setting will be particularly apt. If the quality matches that of the Florida attraction, with its clever and lavish set-dressing throughout the waiting line, there’s no doubt it will do justice to Disney’s biggest star.

One particularly smart detail in the Magic Kingdom version, besides the boxes labelled for “Marne-la-Vallée”, is a poster for Mickey’s fictional magic show performances, with a note added: “We need Mickey’s Paris dates to determine this”. Mark April 1st, 2012 as taken!

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Monday, 2nd January 2012

La Tanière du Dragon’s beast given revitalised “snap”, renewed effects for 20th birthday

If 2011 was the year Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant regained its glory, 2012 might be the year La Tanière du Dragon regains its growl. The almost 20-year old dragon beneath Sleeping Beauty Castle, still a show-stopping exclusive of Disneyland Paris, recently awoke from a lengthy two month refurbishment in its snarliest mood since 1992. Not only has the lighting in the castle’s dungeon been renewed to cast a scene as dramatic as ever, the movements of the huge Audio-Animatronic itself have been noticeably “tightened up”. Now the dragon lifts its neck and growls with a renewed conviction; a tighter, snappier, more powerful series of movements that give a new realism to the dozing beast, which many say they haven’t seen looking this good since opening day. Our Photos Magiques friends braved the lair last week to update to capture some stunning new pictures and video.

Meanwhile, over on magicforum, DGRavenswood shares a lesser-known but apparently official version of the dragon’s backstory. This isn’t Maleficent, as so many deduce, but a dragon found in an egg by Merlin one morning and restrained here below his magic shop for safekeeping.

Video by Photos Magiques follows… Read More…

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