Saturday, 11th February 2012

“Retro-Vintage” one of three promising buzzwords for 20th Anniversary merchandise

The ’90s are back, baby! What once was cast aside as garish colour and simplistic design could be set for a renaissance, if reports of Disneyland Paris’ merchandise ranges for the 20th Anniversary prove accurate. Alongside buzzwords “Celebration” and “Signature”, we’ll see a range titled “Retro-Vintage”, reports Cast Member @ulyssecuvelier on Twitter. Though some niche “Euro Disney” throwback pins were released for the 15th Anniversary, this could be the first time Disneyland Paris has truly explored its own past as a “vintage” idea to be resold anew.

However, with modern 2012 trends now looking back particularly favourably on this early 1990s era, what was garish or simplistic is now gradually being seen again as bold or refined instead. We’re all familiar with throwbacks to the 1950s design style of the original Disneyland, epitomised in websites such as Yesterland, with its colourful flags and block lettering. Even Walt Disney World mines its own past with much focus on Spaceship Earth and its original globe logo (examples below).

But what does “retro-vintage” mean to the relatively youthful resort in Paris? Well — take a look back at the first collage above! We’ve collected together just a few fine examples from our own Euro Souvenirland website, showing off the striking design style which saw Disneyland bombastically launch itself into Europe. A world away from the dazzling, multifaceted, but ultimately somewhat hollow, heavily photoshopped brand of 2012, the simple graphical designs of 1992 look ripe for revisiting.

Incredibly evocative of their time, any of these examples would work wonderfully re-applied to bags, T-shirts, keyrings and beyond. Just look at those paper bags and napkins — the illustrations on those are far more attractive than anything you’ll find even on the merchandise itself today!

It remains to be seen whether Disneyland Paris would want to reuse the Euro Disney logo specifically (unlikely), but it wouldn’t be hard to work the current logo back into this style… that’s if the merchandisers have the same idea of “retro-vintage” as us. We await 1st April 2012 to find out, if 12th April 1992 will come around again…

Also reported to be making up the range of birthday merchandise is a special Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary wine by Domaine Bertrand. A revisit of an idea from the 15th Anniversary, it will be available in a commemorative bottle as red, white or rosé.

• In the meantime, explore more “retro-vintage” memorabilia at Euro Souvenirland.com!

VIA @ulyssecuvelier (Twitter)

Wednesday, 16th November 2011

Disneyland Paris welcomes 250 millionth guest – a quarter billion visitors in less than 20 years!

1, 2, 3… 250,000,000! A huge milestone was celebrated at Disneyland Paris yesterday, 15th November 2011, as the resort welcomed its 250 millionth guest into the parks. That’s a quarter of a billion visitors in just 19 years, 7 months and 15 days. Yes, ok, so they’re still not able to turn a consistent net profit, but let the urban myth that Disney’s European resort has been under-attended since 1992 officially be put to rest. In the 2011 financial year, the parks set a new record of 15.6 million visitors, making the outlook for the 20th Anniversary year rosy indeed. With the usual birthday year boom, longer opening hours through the year and the premiere of Dreams, the resort may well hit the magical 16 million.

The guests in question yesterday received the honour of a celebratory ride up Main Street, U.S.A. on the Fire Truck with Disneyland Paris Ambassador Régis Alart and a photocall with Mickey, Minnie and Duffy in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Just like the 100 millionth visitors in 2001 and the 200 millionth visitors in 2008, they were a family of mum and dad with two photogenic young kids, but in a groundbreaking move they were Spanish, not French, and visiting for the fourth time. Euro Disney SCA’s own press release (PDF) notes that families with young children make up 66% of visitors. So, by those odds, maybe we’ll see someone from the other 34% awarded the 300 million honour in a few years?

VIA Ambassadeur Disneyland Paris (Facebook), Disneyland Paris Corporate (PDF)

Tuesday, 12th April 2011

19 Today – Happy Birthday Disneyland Paris!

Happy Birthday Disneyland Paris

Exactly nineteen years ago today, at 9.01am on 12th April 1992, Euro Disney Resort officially opened its gates to the public. Euro Disneyland brought a magic kingdom more beautiful than any other to a whole new continent, bringing home its tales as old as time; allowing a whole new audience to “leave today and enter worlds of history, discovery and ageless fantasy”. Festival Disney was a bold nighttime entertainment district designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, whilst a record number of five Disney resort hotels (the sixth, Sequoia Lodge, would open in May) and nearby Camp Davy Crockett would give the resort an impressive first phase… that revenues just couldn’t match.

With now less than one year to go before the 20th Anniversary, let’s not overlook how much the resort has managed to grow since that over-ambitious opening. A second park, Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Toon Studio, endless shows, parades and seasons, numerous Disney Village additions, the busiest high speed rail station in France, seven more nearby partner hotels — even a whole town centre! — and so much more. Whilst we might be in a lull between new attractions, the next year will see the biggest slate of refurbishments in the resort’s history, polishing and embellishing this astonishing achievement of Walt Disney Imagineering’s own golden age. And further into this decade, we’ll see World of Disney transform the hub, the vast Villages Nature holiday complex and water park, a groundbreaking dark ride, hotel expansions, major Disney Village expansions and even, with luck and money, that second park becoming what we can call “a whole second park”.

Here’s to the ever-outstanding cast and crew, and here’s to the future!

Thursday, 31st December 2009

Confirmed: No ‘EO’ return for Disneyland Paris

Regaining interest since the death of its lead earlier this year, the short film will return to its original home in Disneyland, California, for a “limited engagement” from February 2010.

Since this rumour first appeared, and especially since these plans were confirmed, fans of the other international resorts have obviously been questioning whether ‘EO’ could also, even temporarily, replace ‘HISTA’ in their home park.

Now, Disneyland Paris have given their answer. As confirmed by the press department in Le Journal and reported by Photos Magiques on Twitter, Captain EO will not be returning to Marne-la-Vallée.

Confirmed: No 'EO' return for Disneyland Paris
Original CinéMagique: Captain EO entrance.

The 3-D special effects attraction originally played in Paris from opening day on 12th April 1992 up to 17th August 1998, when it closed to become Honey, I Shrunk the Audience (HISTA). On this date, Disneyland Paris was the last park in the world you could see the film — it having closed elsewhere over a year earlier and at Epcot over 4 years earlier.

Starring Michael Jackson in a film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, executive produced by George Lucas and featuring music by James Horder, it was one of the flagships of Michael Eisner’s arrival at the company when it premiered in the US parks in 1986. In Paris, the attraction was actually named CinéMagique, a variation on the “Magic Eye Theater” of California, making the resort perhaps the only one to have had two completely different yet identically-named attractions in its history.

With Honey, I Shrunk the Audience hardly doing a roaring trade over the back of Discoveryland, opening such limited hours as 11am to 6pm during the Summer high season, it remains to be seen what all-new replacement will eventually come about for the tired 3-D film. Rumours on MiceAge.com have suggested the limited-time showing of ‘EO’ in California could be followed by the arrival of Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, a living character show (think Stitch Live!) from Florida’s Magic Kingdom. Could this be rolled out to ourselves and Tokyo? That’d still leave the problem of Epcot’s theatre.

In any case, Paris will likely have to wait for the other resorts to make their move in replacing HISTA first. It doesn’t appear to be much of a priority and, with the Californians now buying time with a nostalgia trip, this firm “non, merci” to EO‘s return means Wayne Szalinski will likely be winning Inventor of the Year a good few more times yet — even if there’s hardly any Audience left to shrink.

Images © Disney.

Monday, 7th December 2009

Frontierland Depot loses last remaining ‘Euro’

Taking advantage of the refurbishment penned in for the “grand circle tour” from 16th to 26th November, the resort’s maintenance team finally got the chance to correct a bit of history still in place at Frontierland Depot.

Spotted by Mouetto on Disney Central Plaza, the water tower at the station was fully refurbished — its “Euro Disneyland Railroad” lettering repainted in the process as simply “Disneyland Railroad”.

Frontierland Depot loses last remaining 'Euro'

Well, it only took 15 years!

But in fact, many fans will no doubt feel a hint of sadness to see the old “Euro” lost forever. These little details from the past — like the “EDLRR” letters at Main Street Station or the “DM” (Discovery Mountain) letters still hidden around what became Space Mountain — add to the history of the park, provide fun little secrets for us all to discover as the magic becomes an obsession.

The trains themselves lost their original “Euro Disneyland Railroad” paint details in early 2002, when the railroad’s entire rolling stock was gradually repainted.

Frontierland Depot loses last remaining 'Euro'
Spot the ‘Euro’ — it had almost faded away on its own in recent years

For any nostalgics, though — don’t worry. We can never say for sure, but it’d seem like this is the last “Euro” we’ll see the place lose — financial terms not included. The details all over Main Street Station in particular would be extortionately expensive to replace.

And, for the refurbishment of a Disneyland Railroad icon, one Euro is a pretty good deal.

Pictures: Mouetto, DLRP Today.

Friday, 27th October 2006

A Journey From Time To Time

Let’s begin our adventure beyond the berms 33km East of Paris, sometime between 12th April 1992 and 5th September 2004. Once inside the gates of Euro Disneyland, Disneyland Paris or Disneyland Park, we’re rushing straight for Discoveryland. At the entrance, the a circling, futuristic sundial and the impressive Reinstella draw us into Le Visionarium, the attraction proclaimed by Michael Eisner himself as his “favourite” in the entire park. When the magic begins, we’re treated to a journey through time and space, taking in great landmarks of Europe and great discoveries of the past, present and future.

The key location in the film “From Time To Time” is the towering pavillion of the 1900 Paris Expo, the “Conference sur le Future”. It was here that 9-Eye met Mr. Verne and H.G. Wells, where Verne clung onto 9-Eye to follow her through time and space, and where 9-Eye bashfully accepts a flower from the visionary master, with the location seen both in its 1900 heydey and 1990s pop-culture present.

Whilst the film and the attraction may have now been erased around the world, fans of the Timekeeper’s legendary voyage suffering from over 2 years of withdrawal should set their sights on only one place: Vienna. Here, just outside the city centre, Schloß Schönbrunn is home not only to its historic palace and zoo, but to a creation like something out of Disneyland itself. It may be a palm house, but this has now become a true piece of Disney history…

Jumping off the number 58 tram, you head into the gardens of Schönbrunn palace with an air of anticipation. Like a visit to Disneyland itself, you’re about to see something from a fictional legend come to life before your eyes, and, just as you see Space Mountain from the Eurostar or the Earful Tower from the autoroute, the Palmenhaus suddenly appears above the bushes and flowers.

Whilst the exterior of the Palmenhaus has become familiar with countless viewings of Le Visionarium, to then step inside the “Paris Expo” building is quite unique.

From the official website:

The Palm House is located on the site of the former Dutch Garden and was erected in 1881/2 to designs by Franz Xaver Segenschmid. One hundred and thirteen metres long, the Palm House consists of a 28-metre high central pavilion and two lateral pavilions which are three metres lower. Linked by tunnel-like passages, the pavilions contain different climatic zones: a ‘cold’ house to the north, a temperate zone in the central pavilion and a tropical climate in the south pavilion. The necessary temperatures are achieved by means of a steam heating system which means that rare specimens from all over the world can be grown here.

Besides the numerous stars and extras seen in the film, it’s clear that a large amount of set dressing was done to prepare the building, such as the addition of a raised entrance, clocks, banners… and French flags, of course.

This impressive iron construction used the most modern technology of its time, with the materials determining its form. The proportions of the convex and concave lines of the central and lateral pavilions are perfectly balanced and endow the iron structure with a perceptible lightness despite its massive dimensions. Inserted into the framework of the external iron construction, the glazing clings to the curved iron girders like a skin. The Schönbrunn Palm House was the last of its type to be constructed in continental Europe.

The beauty of the building speaks for itself and seeing it for real is something truly special. Bringing back memories of Le Visionarium and reminders of Discovery Arcade in Main Street, it’s always a wonderful feeling to find a little piece of magic so far from the magic kingdom itself. Almost as if they expect crazed Disneyland Resort Paris fans to visit, even the modern tickets have been produced with a design right out of the late 19th Century.

So if you’re looking for a holiday besides a visit to Disneyland itself, or need a little dose of Le Visionarium memories after 2 years of absence, why not consider Vienna. Not for museums, Mozart or the beautiful architecture, but for a special piece of magic from the history of Euro Disney.

Click here for a quick reminder of Le Visionarium.

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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