A great surprise was awaiting fans in Storybook Land at the back of Fantasyland in late December, and not just that Le Pays des Contes de Fées, the Storybookland Canal Boats, was open in the middle of Winter. No, the attraction has finally got Tangled up in a 21st Century Disney tale — both the studio’s first computer-animated and 3D fairytale, which finally hits cinemas in the UK exactly a week from now after already proving a big hit in both the US and France (where at Disneyland Paris guests have been able to meet the live characters since November).
The canal has always had a Rapzunel tower, but now the old landmark has been completely replaced with a brand new model, faithful to the Disney animator’s final design from the new film. The new tower stands much taller on the miniaturised cliffside than the original, which had a more whimsically home-made look, bringing in a vibrant indigo roof and more intricate, colourful detailing. The smaller-scaled tangle of Rapunzel’s hair hanging down from the tower even has a tiny model of hero Flynn Rider climbing up to save the damsel. Tangled is now by far the most recent Disney film featured in the attraction and, in fact, the whole land, its closest contender being 1992’s Aladdin.
Could one of the main attractions advertised for this year’s Magical Moments Festival not actually see its doors open until the 20th Anniversary? Reports originating on Disney Central Plaza forum suggest that Disney Princesses: A Royal Invitation is now due to open in 2012, rather than April of this year. The “attraction” replaces the former World Chorus post-show of “it’s a small world”, which closed last August to prepare for this invasion of tiaras and dresses. A small walk-through area, originally part of France Télécom’s sponsorship, it featured national landmarks with small animations playing in their windows, depicting children around the world uniting through technology.
While it will be sad to lose that delightful Paris exclusive, the new attraction doesn’t sound all bad. As Kristof on magicforum shared, it’s designed by Walt Disney Imagineering — rather than the park’s own Entertainment department — “and the area will be open even when there are no Princesses inside, since there will be interactive elements all over the place.” In fact, the concept seems to share much similarity with an attraction announced just today for Walt Disney World’s New Fantasyland project.
To quote the press release, “In Princess Fairytale Hall, Aurora, Cinderella and other Disney princesses, such as Tiana and Rapunzel, will greet guests in their new home, an elegant royal court.” This new addition in Florida will have a much bigger footprint, as it takes over the current Snow White’s Scary Adventures dark ride, and arrives in place of the several separate princess encounters originally announced, but is due to open in late 2012. A connection, or just coincidence?
Time stands still in Never Land, and for a good few years the same applied to our dear Château. But as a major refurbishment project approaches, the oversized golden Tinkerbell, which has sat atop the castle’s highest tower since the launch of the 15th Anniversary in April 2007, has finally flown away for good! Originally part of a collection of golden characters, holding between them 15 flickering LED candles, Tinkerbell was kept on after the two anniversary years as part of the unpopular Mickey’s Magical Party overlay. Even as we rejoiced that the castle returned to some normality last year, she hung on; the park still utilising her confetti effect for various shows and events.
It was actually before the 15th Anniversary that many fans began to hope for a refurbishment of the castle. Though the opportunity of that landmark (and each successive festival) passed, it’s now confirmed that this will be the year for a reawakening. Dates were provisionally set for works from October 2010 to July this year, but that has now been pushed back to a March 2011 start with an end sometime in September. No word yet on just how disruptive this refurbishment will be for views of the icon — a scaffolding rig (with a themed overlay) will be likely at some point, but whether it would cover just a potion of the castle at once or the whole thing is unknown.
From afar the castle certainly looks clean and pretty enough, but up close turrets can be seen dirty, roofs discoloured, paint peeling… and many fans wish for a return to its original paintwork, which had an earthier, more historic look, with more shading and a more organic pink colour.
Disneyland Paris promotes it as “double the fun”, but extensive paving works around the Pizzeria Bella Notte area in Fantasyland until late March actually mean a revised route and a few missing floats for Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade over the next few months. While the route up towards “it’s a small world” is closed, the parade will enter the park via the gate next to Discovery Arcade on Main Street, U.S.A. and navigate around Town Square up to Central Plaza, completing a full loop before travelling back down Main Street and out via the same gate.
This reworked route also means a reworked parade, with three of the eight floats missing: Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio‘s “Dreams of Laughter & Fun”, The Lion King and The Jungle Book‘s “Dreams of Adventure” and one of two “Dreams of Romance” units — originally for the first, smaller “Prelude” unit featuring The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, but now the much larger “Finale” unit. It was decided that this unit made fitting the full parade around Central Plaza at once too tight, and so all the Princes and Princesses of the finale now dance in front of the Prelude float.
With five different floats squeezed around Central Plaza for the turn-back it was also deemed that keeping each float’s unique music loop wasn’t practical, meaning the parade rolls out with the single “Just Like We Dreamed It” theme usually reserved for the show stops, which have also been cut, on a loop.
The diversion began on 7th January, and according to current schedules will continue right through until 1st April 2011. A map of the revised route is featured on the cover of the current daily programmes.
Fret over getting that perfect picture in front of Le Château no more — the bridge has reopened after a major two month rebuilding project, looking cleaned to fairytale perfection:
So clean, so crisp, in fact, that the castle behind looks even grubbier than it did before.
The project apparently included the complete rewiring of all the lights along the bridge, and as the scaffolding disappeared a couple of weeks ago now, the main window of the castle even had a nice surprise for us.
As if just being able to see it again after three years wasn’t good enough, the light behind its stained-glass design appears to have been tweaked to give a brighter, more even illumination, bringing out the beautiful colours right throughout the day. A big improvement on the patchy single spotlight before.
Back in Main Street U.S.A., Town Square Photography now has its decorative refurbishment overlay in place:
We’re already a month into this work, and there’s still a long time to go. The refurbishment of Town Square Photography is set to be completed on 2nd July, whilst the smaller Disney Clothiers, Ltd. restoration just along the street, which had almost a month head start, will be done by 18th June 2010.
Over in Fantasyland, this could be bad timing to catch those visitors whose interest has been reawakened by Tim Burton’s 3-D adaptation, but Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups is currently closed from 6th to 23rd April for a much-needed full refurbishment.
Work should include repainting or resurfacing the turntable, which has been lacking its original bright colours for years, as well as cleaning the roof, repainting and replacing the lights and lanterns, along with other maintenance. The work was originally announced by Disneyland Paris to end on 2nd April, so this appears to have been pushed back.
Not strictly a refurbishment, since this is potentially something we’ll never seen returned — the Rainforest Cafe signage on the side of the building, next to where the brand new Earl of Sandwich counter service restaurant is due to be built, has disappeared:
After the concept art was published last year, temporary construction walls surrounded this railing a couple of months ago for a few days — only to suddenly disappear again. When construction does finally begin, there will need to be some serious infilling of this area of the lagoon, along with deconstruction of some of the rockwork seen above.
And finally… A real delight that has returned, after a lengthy absence, the Main Street Station organ:
Not only does it look all freshly-polished, the organ (via recorded sound effects) once again greets each arriving Disneyland Railroad train as it steams through the station, bringing back a missing piece of the Main Street’s original turn-of-the-century atmosphere.
Photos by Photos Magiques (more), Dlrpteam as credited.
These days it only happens at Halloween and Christmas, but there was a point in the recent past, around the time of The Lion King Carnival and similar events, when it seemed Main Street Station was never without decorations.
But, those seasonal logos have made a comeback. As spotted in a behind-the-scenes video, concepts prepared by the Entertainment department called for a return to Main Street Station decorations — although we couldn’t quite get a good look at them. Last week, they began to appear.
First with a new idea, at least for seasonal decorations at Disneyland Paris: Ruffled semi-circular fabric bunting in red and yellow, a common way Main Street is decorated for Halloween in the overseas parks — where there’s no orange paint in sight — and a welcome idea for Paris.
And then, the old tradition: A large logo plaque and sculpted character models.
Models that are, it’s been noted… a little off-model. The tacked-on Mickey is oversized compared to his new friends, and we’d better be careful what we say about that Woody and his eyes… there must be something in the s’mores at Cowboy Camp!
So far (perhaps there’s more to come?) there are only additional characters to the left of the main logo, with Tiana and Frog standing in front of one window and Remy in front of the other.
As we saw in the concept art, the Baroque style of the logo frame is continued through the new Main Street lamppost decorations, although the colour scheme seems to have become darker and less symmetrical.
The final colours of the ribbons under each frame are blue, yellow, red, green and purple, rather than the fresher pattern of purple, white, yellow, green, yellow, white and pink promised…
Still, we can probably all agree this is how Main Street should be decorated. A big, big improvement on the mess last year; at last a reasonably subtle way to extend the year’s theme and bring the current advertising campaign into the parks.
Perhaps, then, it simply fell to Main Street Station to be this year’s sacrificial piece of Disneyland Park for the less successful decorations, now that the castle is finally off-limits. At least, better to have Woody frightening children there than from somewhere on our dear château!
The big news of course is that Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, our beautiful castle, has finally lost itsMickey’s Magical Party overlay. Once again we can enjoy its golden spires and centrepiece window with not a single set of Mickey ears on its magnificent medieval façade.
It’s not a complete return to glory, however — look closer and the iconic building is close to worn-out. Its stone features covered in spots of dirt, roof tiles uneven and out of place and two large holes now visible either side of the main window, where the Magical Party centrepiece was fixed in place.
Above that, the roof has some light patches, like its paintwork has been scuffed or scratched by something.
The balcony to the left still has too few plants draped over it, and let’s not even check elsewhere. Stand on the rear balcony of La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant next time you visit and take a look upwards — this castle needs attention soon. We’ve been saying “before the 15th…”, “before MMP…”, “before the New Generation Festival…” every year now. So… before the 20th Anniversary?
There is also one omission from this decorations cull — Tinkerbell, and her spiralling trail which circles the tallest tower. Originally part of the 15th Anniversary overlay, she held on for Mickey’s Magical Party, continuing to provide confetti blasts from her wand for certain events. Now the lone remnant of these celebrations, she towers over the huge structure like a dainty fairy really ought not to, the confetti pipe looking like some poorly-integrated plumbing for Sleeping Beauty’s new ensuite bathroom.
With the Mickey ears now consigned to history for more than a week, the chances of the same installation crew coming back to pick up this one decoration is beginning to seem unlikely. We’ve heard that even departments within Disneyland Paris don’t know what’s going on with her. Can’t someone step in and scrap the fairy once and for all?
Any Tink supporters should perhaps remember that she’s already present and correct — and much more pleasantly sized — atop the Disneyland Hotel:
But for now, back to the positives — and another big one is Main Street also returning (almost) to normal. The refurbishments of the Disney Clothiers, Ltd. and Town Square Photography façades continue, but now there’s something — or several things — missing from the view…
No giant lampposts! Without those towering white columns and their enormous, identical banners, Main Street has been opened up. The buildings aren’t hidden away but clear to see and yes, correctly sized. Welcome back to the turn of the 20th Century!
It’d be interesting, in fact, to see if footfall in the various shops might increase with the removal of the banners, which were overpowering enough to just funnel guests straight down the street as quickly as possible, without looking left or right, all building façades hidden until you were stood right up in front of them. Now, that visual interest in every millimetre of the street is visible again, ready to pull guests to one side… and get them to open their wallets.
Another disappearing act has been pulled by the illuminated Mickey’s Magical Party decoration which sat above the side doorway of The Emporium. Before that, we had Lumière bursting out of the building for the 15th Anniversary… so how long until Buzz Lightyear or Slinky Dog shows up for the New Generation?
Here again, the removal unfortunately shows up some less-than-perfect paintwork behind.
And the removals continue, back into Town Square! Let’s compare this photo, from last Summer:
With this view from earlier this week:
Besides the elevation, weather and other seasonal changes, can you spot the difference? Yes, the trees on Town Square have magically shrunk! Previously reaching well above the rooftops of The Emporium and Town Square Photography (even from that elevated viewpoint on the railroad station), they now suddenly stand only just as high.
This is about as “Disneyland” an idea as you can get — when the trees get too big for the forced perspective of the buildings around them, replace them! The old maturing trees were removed last week (replanted elsewhere in the resort), leaving Town Square with an odd few days of just temporary grass coverings, to be gradually replaced with these younger, smaller trees.
If you’ve followed Disneyland Paris news for many years, you might remember the same happening to all the trees along Main Street itself in the first half of the last decade, when they were again replaced with smaller trees more in line with their quaint (and we have to remember, at the turn of the 20th Century — recently built) surroundings.
At the same time, the first flowers of Spring have arrived!
Ireland’s local Disney resort has made it an annual tradition to celebrate this annual tradition every 17th March, beginning a few years ago alongside the St David’s Day events.
Almost as much of a tradition, the “programme” notice board becomes ever more impossible to read…
We can, however, decipher that the Lee-Byrne Academy Dancers have returned to the park for another year, now one of the few entertainment spectacles you can enjoy on Royal Castle Stage:
This event is also unique in its inclusion of Disney characters — namely Chip and Dale — who rarely join visiting groups, for example during the Disney Magic Music Days events at Fantasy Festival Stage.
The Pride of Murray Pipe Band were this year given free reign of Main Street, U.S.A., parading the length of the street with traditional Celtic bagpipes and drums.
At 8.30pm, they even helped to close the day with a final, nighttime performance on Central Plaza, leading right into the St Patrick’s Day fireworks at 9pm.
Elsewhere, the Main Street Fire Truck rolled out again with shamrocks replacing its earlier Welsh daffodils and leeks for the pre-parade and Mickey and Minnie donned their green and yellow outfits to meet guests at Town Square and Casey’s Corner.
And the real shocker is, they’re not for the lampposts you might be thinking of.
Yes, unbelievably, these stills from a backstage video looking at the New Generation Festival, beginning 2nd April, show small character placards attached to the regular, human-sized Main Street gas lanterns.
Both classic and ‘New Generation’ characters are shown within an ornate frame, integrated into the lamppost with a colourful ribbon, in yellow, green, pink and purple, leading down to a gold ring.
This style of decoration, actually integrating things into the original park rather than throwing them on top, is often used at the American and Japanese Disney resorts. Disneyland in California and Florida’s Magic Kingdom in particular have recently had several different styles of gas lantern decorations for their continuous Dreams/Celebrate campaigns.
The only bad thing, perhaps, is that the concept images laid out on the table here also show a rather large New Generation Festival covering on Main Street Station. Well, old habits die hard.
For the past 3 years, we’ve never seen Main Street without those oversized white lampposts which held giant 15th Anniversary banners. Originally designed as LED-lit “chandeliers” for the Christmas season, they were modified for the birthday events in 2007 and have stuck on ever since.
Since Main Street is designed using forced perspective tricks, where successive storeys of buildings are sized smaller, these oversized banner poles look completely out of place with the quaint world around them, reaching as high as the street’s (fake) third story with the banners bigger than doorways.
After all 26 towering poles were given identical Mickey’s Magical Party banners in March last year, there was suddenly an overnight cull as all but 8 were removed, opening up Main Street. If the rather more subtle decorations in these screenshots make it to the final cut, the giant white lampposts should be gone for good, if they aren’t already…
There’s been no time wasted in removing the decorations from Sleeping Beauty Castle this week as Mickey’s Magical Party came to an end. Twitter and magicforum user ElenaSearle posted two pictures a lot of people have waited months (or perhaps, with the 15th decorations, years) to see. The first, posted yesterday, shows the main ‘MMP’ emblem removed:
Whilst the second shows the remainder of the twisted Mickey-shaped spires removed and replaced with the gold leaf originals:
If there’s one good thing to come of this, it’s that we’re reminded all over again just how beautiful this castle really is. Now all that remains is for oversized Tinkerbell fly, fly away, as well…
What’s been occuring at Disneyland Paris this weekend? The St David’s Welsh Festival, a now-annual event spread over three days, this year from 5th to 7th March, to celebrate the feast day of the patron saint of Wales (which is actually held on 1st March) — and no doubt tempt a few proud compatriots over to Disneyland Paris in the process.
As the schedule reveals, this is a rare chance to see Merlin calling up guests to pull Fantasyland’s sword from its stone, a location now used more frequently for the Sleeping Beauty “happening”.
It’s also the only time in any Disney park in the world you can see Mickey and Minnie dressed in traditional Welsh costume, be it at their special meet ‘n’ greets or riding the Main Street fire truck as a special pre-parade. Where the upcoming St Patrick’s Day has shamrocks all over, St David’s is all daffodils and leeks…
What was that about spoiling pictures? Oh yes, the decorations. Though (if you can believe it) not as bad as they could have been, this was certainly a year to point your camera… elsewhere. Try a new angle rather than that generic castle shot.
But, for one last bang before the year is locked away in the pages of Euro Souvenirland, our Mickey Moused medieval castle celebrated St David’s with the traditional fireworks display…
How do you say “what a relief”, “good riddance” in Welsh?
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