Progress continues at Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant from every angle and we can begin to see even more “before and after” views of this extensive and much-needed restoration. The stone wall above, for example, has regained its rich colour tones, whilst the lighter pink beginning to appear across the tallest tower shows how the whole Castle will soon look — if not yet giving away the final “after”. It’s impressive that all of this work to the upper towers, and much elsewhere, is being undertaken overnight. Walt Disney Imagineering will need to return to those freshly painted walls later to add special paint effects such as weathering to make sure Aurora’s château looks believably, timelessly old, not like it was poured out of concrete just twenty years ago.
If you follow the official Disney Parks Blog you might have already enjoyed the superb “Tilt-Shift” videos of Magic Kingdom and Epcot at Walt Disney World, which turned those grand Disney parks into something resembling a toy train set or stop-motion animated film. Well, great news Disneyland Paris fans — they’ve taken a trip across the Atlantic! A brand new Disneyland Paris tilt-shift video premiered just hours ago today, in honour of the ninth birthday of Walt Disney Studios Park. Take a look above — it’s a seriously beautiful piece of work.
As the Disney Parks Blog explains, “Tilt-shift videos like these use different photo angles, focus settings and color saturation adjustments to make the subject of a photo appear miniature.” And most awe-inspiring, “It took more than seven months and 4,000 photographs to produce this 2:38-minute clip.” The variety of attractions, events and locations captured is truly impressive, far greater than the two earlier single-park videos, successfully making everything from Disney’s Fantillusion to Moteurs… Action! look like a small-scale model magically coming to life. We even get to see the up-scaled Toy Story Playland attractions downscaled again to the size of a toy!
Fancy staying up late in Disneyland Park? Normally you’d have to visit in October for a special after-hours party at either of the Halloween theme events, but that’s set to change this June. For 2011, a brand new party will mix two themes in one night: Mickey’s Princesses & Pirates Party. Both Adventureland and Fantasyland will reopen to ticket holders at 8pm with eight attractions, a huge selection of characters and a variety of special entertainments to keep you entertained right up to 11pm. Four parties are scheduled, for Monday 1st and Fridays 10th, 17th and 24th June. Tickets cost €25 or £22 and are available to buy now online, from your local booking hotline or at the parks. You can find the full programme of events and all the information over on DLRP Magic.com, here.
Although certainly the inspiration, this event shouldn’t be confused with Mickey’s Pirate and Princess Party at Walt Disney World, which kept the whole of Magic Kingdom open and concluded with an exclusive fireworks show. Disneyland Paris previously looked at bringing this event over in 2009, when it was tentatively scheduled for February. Launching in the balmier evenings of June seems like a much more enticing proposition for budding rogues or royalty.
The new scrim, hiding the lower middle section of scaffolding which was previously covered by a plain white tarp for some time, features the three good fairies Flora, Fauna and Merryweather hovering above the drawbridge and a stylised impression of the Sleeping Beauty Castle façade. A similar idea was used the last time the landmark of Disneyland Park underwent a complete renovation, in 1998, although then the fairies were pasted on a plain white background. Today’s new cover doesn’t yet hide the upper portion of scaffolding, around the feature window, nor the additional scaffolding which has grown around the Castle’s right-hand extension over the past week. This has caused the walkway next to the wishing well from Le Théâtre du Château to be closed, which joined with the ongoing repaving works past Pizzeria Bella Notte has severely limited access into Fantasyland. Nevertheless, as you can see this morning, the Castle itself remains completely accessible to guests.
This isn’t the only portion of the Castle being worked on, however. Nighttime works have brought the first fresh paint to the top of the highest tower, which has had its many holes and war wounds (from Anniversary decorations past) filled in. Look closely and you might just see the difference — Le Château is starting to shimmer again, already. In fact, as the fast pace of works so far might suggest, it’s looking hopeful that the refurbishment could be done well before the earlier September end date. Guest Communications are apparently now advising the work will “continue until June” — all done by July, ready for the Summer season!
That’s it — it’s the end of an era, for now at least. All the benches of Le Théâtre du Château, the open air theatre at the heart of Disneyland Park, have now been completely removed as expected, save for those few back rows said to be retained as general seating. Member tarf on Disney Central Plaza captured the first photo of the bare amphitheatre above and in fact, it’s not an entirely negative change. Having row after row of empty, disused seating here throughout the day (save for a little excitement around parades) did always look rather depressing after all. Had the park been more sure of the theatre’s criminal disuse, it probably should have happened years ago, just to put it out of its misery.
The next step is anyone’s guess. Repaving? Redevelopment? Are the stone benches being kept somewhere in case the stage ever has some Sleeping Beauty-like reawakening? Do drop us a note if you happen to know more…
As far as Disney park “firsts” go, it’s maybe not quite as exciting as a first ride on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or a first walk through a whole new area like Toy Story Playland, but the new block stone paving around the back of Le Théâtre du Château, winding from the Fantasyland Gate to Discoveryland, does look pretty damn good. The first patch to be uncovered shows the square blocks actually have three distinct pastel tones of yellow, red and blue, which just happen to match nicely with the stone walls of the Castle. Compared to the old coloured concrete sections, the colour of the paving is certainly less saturated, but it has immediately given the area a much cleaner, well-presented look.
Unlike the concrete, which crumbles and cracks around its edges over time and especially during frosty spells, the stone paving will also be much more robust and can now be easily replaced in small patches when necessary, not like when we’ve seen concrete relaying close off whole walkways in Adventureland and Discoveryland recently. As those replacements showed, this is an isolated switch to stone paving — a block-paved walkway through the desert of Frontierland wouldn’t be ideal.
But while we’re enjoying the first days of this new paving, could these be the last for Le Théâtre du Château itself ? A huge patch of the 800-capacity amphitheatre was completely cleared of its seating last week, leaving a wide empty space. At first this seemed like preparation for further repaving works, but according to member HTH2004 on Disney Central Plaza forum, the benches won’t be returning. The theatre hasn’t been used for a regular daily show since Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too moved over to Fantasy Festival Stage in 2006, and this has apparently led to one more problem than it just becoming a white elephant: health and safety. HTH2004 suggests that children jumping between the benches had injured themselves so frequently that the park has decided “enough’s enough” and the benches are going — along with them, all chance of the theatre coming back to life any time soon.
By this Friday, the whole two sections at the front had been completely removed (seen in the photo by CharactersPhotos above) and HTH2004 believes all the others will follow, leaving only four rows of benches along the back the theatre (those under the trees) with the entire space to be repaved between April and May. It might not even stop there — HTH2004 suggests that in the mid term (2 to 4 years) the whole theatre could be completely removed or replaced. This June, the area will host some of the Mickey’s Princesses & Pirates Party after-hours events, but otherwise the schedule is empty.
After Le Livre Magique de Mickey ended its run in 1994, the stage has struggled to be given the attention it deserves. In fact, it probably peaked on the grand opening night of the park itself, 11th April 1992, when it played host to various musical acts — and Angela Lansbury miming to “Beauty and the Beast” — with a beautiful lighting set-up and that glorious view of the Castle behind. There’s no chance of a show here in the immediate future, so this all might not look like a great loss, but it seems incongruous to have Central Plaza overrun by the monstrous Disney Showtime Spectacular stage, completely disrupting that elegantly designed space, when the park has this fantastic theatre at its disposal — a real asset (no other Magic Kingdom has a similar space right at its heart) and a great bit of planning by the original Imagineers, but perhaps now destined to be nothing more than a missed opportunity.
Here’s the view guests saw this weekend as they stepped into Disneyland Park. New Disney fan blog Mickey Land has the latest photos of the Sleeping Beauty Castle refurbishment, showing the scaffolding which we last saw surrounding the landmark’s lower walls has now spread right up to its iconic stained glass picture window. The first step towards hiding the less than magical works has also taken place, with an initial white tarpaulin stretched over the majority of the scaffolding, as is normal with Disney refurbishments. Rumours are suggesting that the second covering, featuring a photo-realistic image of the castle behind, could appear within the next week.
Meanwhile, Disneyland Paris continues to invest elsewhere in Fantasyland with the new stone paving going in along the walkway behind Le Théâtre du Château. The red-hued stones stopped with a circular finish at the Fantasyland Gate, leaving fans wondering if the rest of the route could be relaid with coloured concrete as before.
But, as you can see, the stones look set to continue into the land — albeit with the pattern set at a different angle, the circular design helping to make more of a feature of the gate, which will itself surely be fully repainted sometime this year as part of the Castle refurbishment.
Just a couple of days ago we were excited to see the first fresh paint being tested on the grey walls of Sleeping Beauty Castle, with just a modest construction of scaffolding on the walkway beneath the fairytale landmark’s drawbridge. Fast forward a few days and the photo above sent in to DLRP Today by Caryl, shows rapid progress with preparation for the full-scale refurbishment ahead as scaffolding begins to climb around the castle walls on both sides of the bridge (which was fully refurbished last year).
Think that shows big things are ahead? Well just take a look a the latest progress yesterday, with scaffolding decks now wrapped right across the front of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, covering the majority of its stone walls…
Now we have to wait and see how this breach on the fairytale kingdom is to be covered up. A huge “bache” tarpaulin covering with a photo-realistic image of the castle printed onto it seems the most likely option, having been used for recent castle refurbishments at the other Disney parks (notably Magic Kingdom), as well as at Disney Studio 1 and on less important structures at Disneyland Paris. Though the refurbishment was apparently due to begin late last year or early in January, it was most recently stated to last from March to September, so seeing this amount of scaffolding this soon is quite a surprise.
Once upon a time… And so, the tale has already begun. Postponed from late 2010 and expected to run from March to September this year, the first visible signs of refurbishment at Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant are now clear to see a month in advance of that date. A scaffolding base has been constructed on the lower walkway underneath the drawbridge, which leads into La Tanière du Dragon, and the first fresh patches of paint can even be seen on the Castle’s stonework. The photo above posted today by Melroy of DisneyGazette.fr shows the difference between the upper stones, faded to almost an identical grey, and the repainted patchwork of pastel colours below.
There is currently still debate as to whether the interior of Sleeping Beauty Castle will be accessible once full-scale work begins to restore its exterior. Some suggest the drawbridge, both boutiques and the upper gallery floor will remain open throughout, whilst the Castle Courtyard behind (home to the Excalibur sword) may be closed off to provide a base for the work. In any case, we may not see such steps happen until the nearby Fantasyland repaving project, closing off the other main entrance to the land, is completed later in March.
Still, we do have one surprising upgrade — the first block of repaving to be completed so far hasn’t just used the same coloured concrete as before. Oh no. Instead, the area outside the Annual Passport office has been repaved with more expensive individual paving stones, likely to fare better on this heavily-trafficked route and in Paris’ harsh winters.
It remains to be seen if the entire stretch up to “it’s a small world” will be given the same treatment, or if there might just be enough stones left over to finally finish repaving the rapidly disappearing entrance to Walt Disney Studios Park…
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