Sunday, 1st January 2012

Several Magical Moments to end early January, others “extended” into 20th Anniversary

It’s 2012 (Happy New Year!) and time for a fresh start. For Disneyland Paris, that appears to mean several key elements of the current Disney Magical Moments Festival, marketed to run until 4th March 2012, will be cleared out early. Rumours long suggested the main Mickey’s Magical Celebration show on Central Plaza would face an early finish, due to the much detested Central Plaza Stage finally being ripped out, opening up the hub of the park ready for Dreams.

Now, here’s the confirmation: no performances from 9th January onwards! In truth, the show has had a lukewarm reception ever since last April. Notably lacking the grander spectacle of the previous Disney Showtime Spectacular, it wasn’t quite the kind of production to justify such a monolithic stage to take over the heart of the park. Initially it seemed the four large satellite “arms” of the stage might be lopped off, but now the whole stage is said to be for the chop. For stage shows, this means any future open-air productions will (quite rightly) be on the Théâtre du Château where they belong. For new nighttime spectacular Dreams, the rumour mill is still pumping: Will the removal of the stage open up the area purely for more standing room again, or could the hub become part of the show? One particularly fun (if purely fabricated) rumour is for a “magic” dancing fountain to take the place of the former flower bed. To be honest, even being able to walk across and use the plaza as a “hub”, rather than an impermeable roundabout, seems an exciting prospect at this point.

Surprisingly, this show isn’t the only “Magical Moment” preparing for early retirement. It will be joined on 9th January by Disney Dance Express, the garishly-coloured dance show which reused the old Dumbo Casey Jr. parade float. Could this, the float’s fifth iteration since its launch as part of The Wonderful World of Disney Parade, be its last? Meanwhile, the Green Army Men Meet & Play event over in Toy Story Playland will also end on the same date and, as reported earlier, the first float will be removed from Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade for its “Magic on Parade!” makeover.

Making it all the way to the 4th March end date, but not continuing beyond that date, will be the “interactive” show stops of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, the temporary Tangled meet ‘n’ greet location for Rapunzel and, surprisingly, the small Following the Leader with Peter Pan show in Adventureland. That event was perhaps the most appreciated of all the new “moments” in 2011. For Rapunzel, we must presume she will simply join the other princesses in the new Princess Pavilion.

Finally, continuing into the 20th Anniversary are the many photo locations which popped up around the parks: Wall•E and Eve in Discoveryland, Alice in Wonderland near the Labyrinth, Aladdin near Adventureland Bazaar, Ratatouille near Restaurant des Stars and Monsters, Inc. in Toon Studio (which, added in 2006, was never “new” for 2011 to begin with, but never mind). Lighting McQueen will remain in his Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular cameo and the new Adventureland Rhythms of the Jungle location next to Restaurant Hakuna Matata will remain the home of the popular Tam Tam.

PHOTOS VIA Photos Magiques

Tuesday, 22nd November 2011

“it’s a small world” Celebration adds new music, costumes and lights to returning festivities

The nations of “it’s a small world” are celebrating their end-of-year festivities again: “it’s a small world” Celebration has returned to the Fantasyland for its third year in a row. Revived with much thought and effort in 2009 after several years’ absence, the seasonal overlay brings back all its now-traditional “extras” to the classic ride. Redesigned signage, seasonal music, extra lights, special props and a vast wardrobe of unique “celebration” costumes — one for practically every animated doll in the ride — continue to make this one of the most unmissable experiences of the whole year at Disneyland Paris. Read More…

Tuesday, 8th November 2011

Construction begins for Magician Mickey meet ‘n’ greet at Fantasy Festival Stage

Besides spots of Central Plaza being quietly torn up for that nighttime spectacular, the impending 20th Anniversary isn’t quite bringing us the fever of construction we might have hoped for in the parks. Nevertheless, there is one new attraction on which construction has been ongoing for a couple of months already: the Magician Mickey meet ‘n’ greet we revealed back in July. To be based at Fantasy Festival Stage, the indoor theatre below the railroad station at the back of Fantasyland, work for the permanent meet ‘n’ greet location has already seen the old seating removed inside. Now, construction walls have surrounded the entire building, including a sizeable area at the front entrance.

With a similarly lavish style of the Princess Pavilion which opened last month, Mickey’s new dedicated home in the park will take much of the inspiration from the “Backstage Magic with Mickey Mouse” meet ‘n’ greet at Town Square Theatre in Magic Kingdom, Florida. One of the big selling points of that location is that, for the first time, guests can pick up a Fastpass time slot to meet the mouse, saving the kind of 120-minute queues normally associated with popular characters. Though the attractions will be closely related, there’s no word on that same service being available in Paris just yet.

For an experience like a character meet ‘n’ greet, couldn’t it even make sense for the whole operation to the Fastpass-based, with everyone required to pick up a ticket? What do you think?

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Sunday, 9th October 2011

Princess Pavilion officially opens with royal ceremony …and 120 minute wait time

We’ve waited five years for a new attraction at Disneyland Park, the first since the opening of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast in 2006, and here it is: a princess meet ‘n’ greet. Nevertheless, the brand new Princess Pavilion was given proper opening day treatment this Saturday as Régis Alart and Osvaldo del Mistero, Disneyland Paris Ambassadors, joined the Disney Princesses for a special inauguration ceremony. Fresh from their stint as Thunder Mesa town officials for the re-inauguration of Molly Brown earlier this year, the ambassadors proved themselves game once again by donning gold-stitched outfits perfectly befitting the kingdom of Fantasyland — even the tights!

Introduced as ambassadors for the royal court of Fantasyland, the ambassadors led the ceremony entirely in French but eschewed the usual black-suited ribbon cutting by introducing four of the princesses — Snow White, Aurora, Cinderella and Tiana  — one by one, to a series of fitting musical cues. All the while, as this medieval pomp was going on, fans were right back in 2011 by tweeting out live pictures, like those from @PhotosMagiques here. Finally, two young princesses selected from the crowd helped to pull the cover from a “Princess Pavilion” sign as the attraction was declared officially open. And, within an hour, attracted a 120 minute wait time.

The inside is practically unrecognisable from its time as the post-show room at the exit of “it’s a small world”. Stone walls, ornate carved columns and cornicing, eight beautiful backlit stained glass windows and eight crystal artefacts representing each princess line the queue. The lighting is subtle yet certainly high-tech: the torches on the walls (perhaps new LEDs?) dance in a realistic flicker, the artefacts are lit by fibre optics and change colour. Particularly stunning is the flower for Rapunzel, who rightly won the eighth spot over Mulan, which bursts into golden light from within just as in the film. A long wait it may have, but at least guests are now warm, inside and surrounded by top-quality Disney design work.

If this is how Disneyland Park does a meet ‘n’ greet, we can’t wait until it gets a real new attraction.

Video of the grand opening and a walk through the queue line follows… Read More…

Tuesday, 27th September 2011

Halloween: New decorations, new shows, no pumpkinmen for a more “Disney” HalloweenTime

Halloween 2011 Preview — Something strange has come over Disneyland Paris. As we approach the launch of Disney’s Halloween Festival this Saturday, you’ll see not a hastily-crafted static Pumpkinman in sight. Instead, the decorations are new, the pumpkins have ears and Castle Stage… has come back to life. At last this season appears to be heading in the right direction. After years trailing around misguided creations such as the Pumpkinmen, Pink Witches and Stitch, Paris — the Disney resort which pioneered the Halloween season in 1997 (before trashing it all with orange paint in 2003) — has now looked to Disneyland in California for inspiration. This year, we’re seeing brand new decorations lifted directly from the Anaheim park’s popular HalloweenTime. High quality, considerately-designed and most importantly more “Disney” in their execution as well as their style, they should go a long way to giving Disneyland Paris guests the Halloween they expect from the park.

For fans, it’s a double surprise. As well as a park plussed rather than spoilt by the season, the majority of those new decorations have so far arrived at Le Théâtre du Château, which will be coming back to life to host the new Mickey’s Halloween Treat in the Street event. Vines wrap their way around the bronze columns, pumpkins top the towers and a giant Mickey-shaped pumpkin head (similar to that on Town Square in California) is the centrepiece. The mini-show will feature the full line-up of Mickey and friends in special costumes and dialogue in both French and English. After highlighting several times this year what a wasted opportunity the stage is, it’s a delight to see it fully decorated and back in use.

Plans for Main Street, U.S.A. seem a little lower spec, with just colour-coordinated flower beds, Mickey-eared pumpkins and a spot of bunting on the concept we’ve seen, but it’s still a step up from last year’s near complete lack of Halloween decoration on the street. Hopefully now that Disneyland Paris has finally found the right path for its Halloween decorations, Main Street will gradually begin to match the warm and vibrant Harvest “Pumpkin Festival” theme seen in California (below).

Meanwhile, one old decision hangs on, for a little while longer at least: Central Plaza Stage. That behemoth will at least be hosting a big new show, titled Disney’s Maleficious Halloween Party, which amongst other surprises is said to see Snow White’s Evil Queen transform into a Witch, courtesy of the stage lifts, and Dr Facilier from The Princess and the Frog return to the park.

Rumour suggests Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade won’t feature its usual Halloween pre-parade this year, although Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas will be making a return for meet ‘n’ greets, despite not being mentioned in any publicity. It remains to be seen if Halloweenland will return to Frontierland in any form. In truth, the land has felt more like a boneyard for discarded decorations rather than a proper overlay for the past few years, anyway. A cleaning out of the junk and a shot in the arm in quality is exactly what the festival needed.

• More: Disney’s Halloween Festival preview guide on DLRP Magic.com

• Next: We preview each of the three Halloween parties in detail!

PHOTO 1 @InsideDLParis (Twitter), PHOTOS 2-3 Dateline Disneyland (MiceChat)

Sunday, 25th September 2011

Princess Pavilion officially opening 8th October, soft openings from next weekend

It’s official: the Disney Princesses’ new home in Fantasyland will open its doors to guests on Saturday 8th October 2011. The date will be marked with a special inauguration by Disneyland Paris Ambassadors Régis Alart and Osvaldo del Mistero, with the Princess Pavilion open to the public from 10.30am. If you’re visiting before then and still want to get a look, you might be in luck: several sources suggest Soft Openings will be held from next weekend, specifically from Friday 30th September. These unscheduled openings in the run up to the official inauguration will be used to fully test all aspects of the new permanent meet ‘n’ greet location. As with all Soft Openings, the attraction could close at any time and may not be open every day. If in doubt, ask a Cast Member nearby or at City Hall.

Construction progress has continued apace at the new meet ‘n’ greet attraction. Two new lamps were installed either side of the building’s new “brooche” signage to complete the entrance marquee, and more surprising details have been spotted all over. From crowns moulded into the cornicing to gold leaf being applied to the static metal flags atop its roof…


Above, DJROM36 from Disney Central Plaza forum even captured a glimpse inside the attraction’s exit area, showing some quite extravagant wooden panel decoration for the new souvenir photo desk. The counter appears to be split into two arches, with even the photo preview screen given a decorative wooden surround. It’s questionable how well this medieval style fits in here, as it leads guests directly out into the international World’s Fair area of “it’s a small world”, but the new pavilion certainly feels right up to the same high quality of the original land so far.

PHOTOS 1-2 @InsideDLParis (Twitter), PHOTOS 3-5 DJROM36 (Disney Central Plaza)

Wednesday, 21st September 2011

Fantasia Gelati’s rooftops get a fresh lick of paint, another blackspot ticked off the list

Fantasia Gelati is the latest to be added to the long list of 2011 refurbishments. The Carte D’Or ice cream location in Fantasyland has already had its three cone-shaped roofs cleaned and repainted this month; now scaffolding has risen around its gently leaning tower for a much, much needed refurbishment.

Though some work was done to the façade’s front walls during a closure in February, the rooftops on this corner of Fantasyland’s Italian area have been a pretty disgusting maintenance blackspot for several years, as seen in the photos from 2010 below. Located opposite “it’s a small world” and facing away from the sun for much of the day, sightlines aren’t always naturally drawn to this pastel-coloured gelateria. You never know, the return to a more appetising condition might even sell more ice cream.

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Thursday, 15th September 2011

Princess Pavilion crowned with official name as entrance and exit near completion

Another big week for Fantasyland’s new Princess Pavilion has come to an end with the detail we’ve been waiting for: a name. The marketeers may have spoken of the nauseating “Disney Princesses: A Royal Invitation” as part of the Magical Moments Festival but luckily the Imagineers (and good sense) prevailed, with the final name being exactly the short and sharp bit of classic Disney park alliteration we’ve known the project by all along: Princess Pavilion! The main piece of the new attraction marquee was installed late this afternoon — just like the concept art, a gently bevelled oval with customary swirly font, surrounded by metallic gold detailing and topped with a whimsical crown motif. Two extra pieces of the ornate frame are still to be added either side of the oval nameplate.

Though some very pretty new lights have been installed between the doors, the sign appears to be backlit from within. This is similar to the signage at Fantasy Festival Stage and the land’s Disneyland Railroad Station, especially with the identical shapes, but seemingly at odds with the rest of Fantasyland, where most signage is lit by external spotlights for a greater degree of “olde-worlde” charm. Might this new marquee, intended to look like an enlarged brooch, be just a little too “blingy”?

Workers have made more progress with the addition of five golden flags atop the newly-finished blue rooftops. Perhaps this flourish will help the rather castle-like new pavilion to blend more with the “it’s a small world” area it impinges on, which features similar golden details on all its lampposts and right along its façade of famous landmarks. As noted by reader DGR in a previous comment, the roof tiles are somewhat irregularly-placed to perhaps fit with this being near the “rural” area of the land.

Finally, it’s not just the entrance seeing work: with no mountains to divide them, a new railing has been installed (or rather abruptly bolted into the ground) to separate the meet ‘n’ greet’s way out from that of “it’s a small world”; these two attractions now firmly close neighbours.

Princess Pavilion construction

• More: See the concept art and get a full walk-through of this new attraction here!

PHOTOS VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Wednesday, 14th September 2011

Sleeping Beauty Castle restoration comes to a fairytale ending with final golds and blues

Sleeping Beauty Castle restoration

2011 Refurbishments — It’s been a long journey, but look at her now. From the first fresh paint on the walls way back in February to scaffolding going up and coming down, roofs going blue and towers going gold. The complete exterior restoration of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant wrapped right on schedule for the first weeks of September, at last giving us a completed look at her new colour tones which DisneyGazette.fr have captured with some fabulous photos in their latest update.

The final chapter of this fairytale was that striking new azure roof above the main picture window, both a striking contrast from the previous faded yellow gradient and the more understated (you might say authentic) colouring of opening day in 1992, which this new colour scheme otherwise more closely replicates. Whilst in 1992 the Imagineers were keen to give the illusion the castle had been sitting there for hundreds of years just like every other château in France, the look that will see in the 20th Anniversary is one more of bright, youthful vigour.

Now if the vines on that balcony could just get their flowers back, to close this book for good…

VIA DisneyGazette.fr

Monday, 12th September 2011

A right royal beauty: Concept art for Fantasyland’s new Princess Pavilion released!

Princess Pavilion planning concept

Concept art released? Forgive the error — more like rooted out, scavenged. We tweeted the official @DisneylandParis just after exterior construction began on the Princess Pavilion to say how good it would be to see the concept art for this new meet ‘n’ greet attraction released, to actually promote a nice addition to the park. After all, it’s hardly a strong time for tangible new attractions at the resort. So where does this new concept art come from? The Chessy town planning office, via the royalty of the online fan community Disney Central Plaza, of course! So much for slick corporate marketing.

But here it is: a real look at exactly what to expect from the Princesses’ new rural abode. Being a planning document, the first concept above is intended more to show how the development fits into the existing Fantasyland landscape. The whimsically-curved roof, pink walls and tower are all exactly as we’re seeing them go up in reality, while the two existing archways of the former “it’s a small world” exit pathways are shown with heavy wooden doors like those elsewhere in the land. A warm yellow glow beckons us inside and the golden signage atop the roof reads, simply and sharply, “Princess Pavilion”.

Princess Pavilion layout concept

Above, the new interior layout of the space, as we tried to explain in a previous update. Now with a proper visual aid, you can see how the former ramp around the perimeter of the building (in green) now acts as a curved queue line, up towards the two Princess meeting places (in red) in the raised and enclosed centre of the building. The exit then leads via the red arrows, with a photo sales point on your right. Notice that the archway on the right, which used to be a quick exit route from “it’s a small world” bypassing the post-show area, will become dead space.

It’s the detail, though, that begins to set this apart from what you might expect of a simple meet ‘n’ greet. Those eight spaces dotted around the queue line’s perimeter? Those will be ornate stone arches, each dedicated to a different princess with a stained glass-effect view of the heroine’s castle and a memento of her plight — a glass slipper for Cinderella, a red rose for Belle.

Not any old slipper or rose — these pieces, displayed under glass cloches, will be fashioned in crystal and illuminated by fibre optics. Snow White, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Ariel, Tiana and Jasmine will all have their own arch, with Mulan and Rapunzel said to be vying for the eighth (we’re backing Rapunzel).

When we walked through this passageway back in March, all we saw were breeze blocks. The final finish will give the impression of intricately carved stone columns and bricks, dressed with luxurious embroidered curtains and textiles. With a capacity of 308 people, the inside queue will even have its own specially-created background music loop.

Princess Pavilion concept art Princess Pavilion concept art

Reaching the two meeting places, guests will have a choice of which princess to visit. Two grand balcony windows will be dressed with more embroidered curtains and decorative stonework, each featuring a backdrop based on the princess in residence. Above, we see concepts for Aurora, with a rolling green landscape looking back towards the castle (a neat touch, since we’re meant to be in the countryside here, away from the Château), and Tiana, surrounded by a nighttime bayou scene. During times of low attendance, only one princess might be in attendance and during these periods, guests will skip out the portion of the queue marked in yellow on the layout plan and go straight through to the photo locations.

You’ll be free to use your own camera for photos of course, but the official photographers in residence here will also have cameras equipped with Wi-Fi, sending your snaps immediately over to the photo desk, which you’ll likely be given paper tickets in order to check out and buy.

The official inaurugation is now rumoured to be Saturday 8th October 2011. Tiaras at the ready!

VIA Disney Central Plaza

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