Arriving on Hollywood Boulevard in their most glamorous outfits, the pair walked arm-in-arm toward the recently reopened Hollywood Tower Hotel, ready to check in. Nothing to worry about, it’s been getting some great reviews! Mickey was ever the gentleman, carrying their suitcase as they posed for the photographers…
Not even the hotel’s gaping hole into The Twilight Zone could dampen their smiles. Minnie’s bow even survived the faulty service elevator!
This series of photos have just been released by Disneyland Resort Paris ready for the upcoming explosion of press and publicity surrounding the new attraction, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, in a couple of months. It’s unusual and certainly fun to see the two starring characters dressed up for a new attraction in fitting costumes, even posing around the rest of the Hollywood Boulevard area with their suitcase prop…
It almost seems like something Tokyo Disney Resort would do.
Hopefully, the fickle people of Hollywood will be kind to Minnie for wearing her favourite white dress again — after all, she did first wear it to the opening of the park itself back in 2002, so it seems fitting. Photoshop aficionados should also try to forgive the colour enhancing in the photos, taken earlier this month — the Mouse has achieved a lot in Paris, but consistent blue skies are still a “grey” area in particular.
Dancing in front of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, they probably mirror many managers backstage at the resort right now. The happy couple might have just spotted one of the only “Hidden Mickeys” in the new area, carried across from other versions of the Hollywood Tower Hotel — the little girl in the pre-show video carries a Mickey Mouse doll into the elevator.
Expect to see these fun photos many more times throughout this year — and well into the future. The 2009 calendar, perhaps?
Since “The Hollywood Tower Hotel” sign was finally completed back in early October, the thin, double strips of neon surrounding each letter were turned on mid-way through the month — all except for the second “o” in “Hollywood”, which is of course never illuminated (though it certainly has the ability).
Later in the month and, next to the spooky glow of a crescent moon, the “W” of “Tower” begins to flicker and fade every few seconds, completing the look of this neon signage broken by the lightning impact on that fateful Halloween night in 1939.
Our friends at Photos Magiques/WDSfans.com captured a video of the sign undergoing tests a couple of weeks ago, long after regular park hours:
Now, where’s the “spectacular light show” promised? Are these later photos, by Disneytheque.com, spectacular enough for you? In addition to the flickering neon letters, the entire upper section of the hotel is illuminated in purple light with aqua blue effects rippling and swirling across its front, bursting upwards from the front of the hotel as if the Twilight Zone has just been thrust open within the hotel.
Along with these brilliant, bright colours for the upper tower, the lower floors of the hotel will be lit in more subtle yellow light (in all similar, but not identical to Disney’s California Adventure), creating a — you guessed it — spectacular contrast between the two.
At 183-ft tall, the Tower is a rather unique new landmark for the surrounding area, now regularly bathed in purples, blues and yellows as the illumination tests and adjustments continue.
Back in 1999, when the ‘Disney Studios Paris’ project was first finalised and announced, you could say they left something rather important out of those original plans. When the average European thinks of a movie studio, they think of Hollywood. When they think of Hollywood, they imagine tall palm trees, towering into the sky…
Yet, once past the smaller and more hardy Chinese ‘Trachycarpus’ palms (thanks, Wikipedia!) found throughout Front Lot, ignoring the two or three palms of similar species next to Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, the main body of the park lacked the lush exoticism usually associated with the world of moviemaking.
Yesterday, the central, most important area of Walt Disney Studios Park finally took its climate beyond the bounds of Marne-la-Vallée, France. Along the left hand-side of Hollywood Boulevard, four giant palm trees now reach high into the sky as tall, almost, as the placemaking buildings they surround, seen here in photos by member Silver at Disney Central Plaza forum.
Immediately, if you can ignore the grey Marne-la-Vallée skies, the new developments are transported to an exotic, sun-kissed Hollywood setting. Finally, the heart of ‘Disney Studios Paris’ has the power to make us believe, for a second, that we might not be in Paris. And all acheived with four fake palm trees?
Yes, they’re fake. But not only because species such as these (they appear most similar to Washingtonia robusta, found in both Southern California and Florida) would never grow in Paris.
Look a little closer and it becomes clear the trees have actually been “designed” to shrink in both their height and size as they go further along the boulevard, helping the forced perspective of the background sets at the far end of the street. The tree nearest to Disney Bros Plaza is much larger than those which follow, also providing a perfect silhouette against the façade of Tower of Terror to immediately evoke a more exotic climate when guests step into the park.
A matching series of faux palms should frame the right-hand side of the boulevard once construction on the ‘Gone Hollywood‘ storefront moves forward a little more. Not satisfied with fake palms? The developments will also include several new or redeveloped planters around the area, filled with real palms in the same variety of those surrounding Crush’s Coaster — a couple are already planted, behind the fences.
It might finally be time to say goodbye to our old, deciduous Studios and welcome a park which will have the glamour and greenery of Hollywood, all year round…
It can be said a thousand times more — stepping out of Disney Studio 1 to see the Hollywood placemaking couldn’t be a more different view to the lone Studio Tram Tour billboard if they tried…
Last October, fans were well prepared for a Tower of Terrorsans area development, standing alone at the heart of the park. Luckily, someone stood up and dared to suggest — “shouldn’t we try to squeeze a little more budget?”, and as if by magic, less than one year later, the Hollywood hills have arrived…
The first piece of the boulevard’s “backdrop” stands on the exact location of the old Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic entrance, using a design identical to the ‘Cadillac Range’ backdrop at Cars Quatre Roues Rallye to hold its vision of lush green vegetation, two palm trees standing either side of the tunnel below.
The tunnel, even, has turned out to be rather a surprise. Not at all in the two-dimensional style expected by most, it’s a fully-sculpted 3D entrance with details at its centre matching those of the new Hollywood buildings enclosing La Terrasse.
The more two-dimensional developments also have their details, above the three separate signs placed on what can now be considered a hotel, department store and apartments building. As mentioned previously, Los Feliz was the location of the very first Disney Bros Studio, whilst Larchmont and Ivar have no clear connection to Disney but are certainly well-known Hollywood names.
The above photos from 6th October 2007, jump forward to this weekend just passed — Sunday 14th October to be precise — and the Hollywood hills are looking very much complete:
Photo: Kyoto, Disneymagicinteractive.com
The hills appear very true to their real-life form, relatively flat on top with a small collection of trees to the left of the Hollywood sign. The hills, combined with the forced perspective of the buildings, certainly have a distant, towering effect on the development, bridging the gap between both sides of the street and closing off the rear of the park. From its hub, the park now immediately feels far more enclosed.
Photo: Kyoto, Disneymagicinteractive.com
Looking closer at the hills, your eyes may take some time to decide whether the four/five elements here are indeed flat backdrops or actually real. Without the fake blue skies of the backdrops seen at Disney’s California Adventure, or the hand-painted style of many Disney-MGM Studios backdrops, the Hollywood hills appear more photo-realistic, again matching the qualities of the Cars background.
Photo: EricLovesTZTOT, Disneycentralplaza.com
Stepping to the far side of the street starts to break the illusion the series of elaborate sets gives. The photo above is the first to show the hills together with the tunnel entrance, this portion of the boulevard appearing to thankfully have just the right balance between three dimensions and two. Notice also the forced-perspective awning of the Los Feliz Hotel, which extends into the street a little.
Now, what’s going on elsewhere on the boulevard?
Well, Paris’ version of DCA’s “Off the Page” store entrance has a completed facade and work now starting on its inner archway. The completely redesigned new version of MGM’s “Sweet Success” facade appears the same as our previous update (at least above the fences), with no signage yet. Progress can, however, be seen at that old favourite — La Terrasse — where, finally, a colour scheme appears to have been settled upon, grey with brighter turqoise/green details.
Photo: Kyoto, Disneymagicinteractive.com
The facade of “Gone Hollywood” should become a popular new icon and photo location for the park, realised in full 3D and now moving ahead fast with turquoise art deco details and brown window framings. The park’s new version of DCA’s “La Brea Carpets” set is currently covered in scaffolding and tarp, like much of “Gone Hollywood”, making progress checks a little hard at this point.
Finally, an important new detail which sprang up relatively unnoticed — the new home of the park’s tips board! It’s due to be a wooden/concrete canopy with tiled roof almost identical to the tips board shelter at Disney-MGM Studios. The basic framework and roof is already in place, as seen above. The park’s recently-updated art deco tips board will simply be moved across to sit underneath this new Californian-styled structure.
These themed movie sets in all shapes and sizes lay hidden beyond a screen of trees surrounding the Partners Statue of Disney Bros Plaza, no doubt giving the area an extra sense of exploration, but not quite right for the panoramic view a classic boulevard requires…
Just three trees have been removed from the plaza, two either side of the statue and one to the left of the hub, but in doing so the Imagineers have opened up a full panorama beyond the movie can-styled planter to show the full length of Hollywood Boulevard and its forced perspective horizon.
Whilst the newly-opened view is an impressive, more detailed sequal to that seen inside Disney Studio 1, several remnants from the original 2002 infrastructure remain oddly in-focus to possibly detract from the progress — most notably the two large blue lamposts and the silver “lighting rig” parade route pole. Seeing the lamposts and parade route accessories planned out on the latest concept art for the project, there’s no doubt Disney Bros Plaza would benefit greatly from an extension of these.
Replacing the three trees temporarily are a series of medium-sized shrubs, likely taken from the resort hub, sitting on wooden panels to cover the metal grilles where the trees were rooted. More permanent planting of some kind should take their place before the boulevard’s completion.
Beyond Disney Bros Plaza it’s the right-hand side of the street which has seen the most advances in recent days, with the department store/apartment block’s backdrop set climbing to completion in a matter of days. Despite being modelled on an almost entirely two-dimensional steel frame, the Imagineers’ famed forced perspective has worked its magic for a quite believable effect.
Captured perfectly by the French DisneyActu blog, above, the boulevard is really beginning to provide an impressive panorama to guests entering the park now, adding an important feel of a closed environment in a way the smaller Studio Tram Tour billboard failed. With the white steel framework where the billboard once stood now built to its new height, the next major step should see the Hollywood Hills towering, distantly, between the El Capitan and Broadway Building at the end.
Like the First National Bank and El Capitan, the Broadway Building (from the juntion of Hollywood & Vine in the real Hollywood) can also boast more of a “2.5-D” façade, completed with separate windows to the flat backdrop itself and an overhanging roofline with extra support details underneath.
Just in front, the Gone Hollywood storefront has been covered in scaffolding as work continues with drywall and preparations for the art deco details and neon lights still to come.
At the foot of the boulevard, a new coffee-flavoured delicacy has been uncovered for all passing guests to see. Ahead since the first weeks of construction, the ‘Sweet Success’ building now stands fully painted and with its scaffolding surround removed, a sudden leap from the uncoloured construction featured just a few weeks ago.
With the colours of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror faded and worn, the building has certainly given a contrast to the styles of this new mini-Hollywood. The same pale yellow of the Tower can be seen toward the top and in edging and detail, but the stronger orange central colour and darker chocolate stucco at the top and above its ground-floor windows are a real change from the single colour seen on its real-life counterpart and Disney-MGM Studios predecessor.
Can we expect the same radical changes to the rest of the sets inspired by previous Disney recreations? Perhaps — although the façade next door, named ‘Argyle Building’ in Disney’s California Adventure (DCA), is currently receiving prefabricated details practicall identical to those of the original.
Roof details, windows and faux details such as wooden panels and rendering are in place and ready to be given their first colours. Further back on the top of the development sits a vertical extension to the roof, perhaps a chimney stack, replacing the billboard on this spot at DCA.
The two-dimensional backdrop sets at the back of the boulevard have also advanced at an exciting pace, including the more idustrial, redbrick ‘Broadway Building’ which has now all but filled its white steel framework with a bewildering pattern of forced-perspective windows.
The headline news in recent weeks has, of course, been the addition of a second landmark behind Hollywood Boulevard’s ‘First National Bank’ building. The completed white tower of the bank was expected to stand alone against the Hollywood Hills, but it appears the Imagineers were mulling over a few overseas Disney properties as they planned out the project, adding a reasonably faithful El Capitan theatre to the horizon. The real El Capitan theatre can be found on the real Hollywood Boulevard, restored to its former glory in 1991 by Disney and now operating as their very own movie theatre, home to almost every film and DVD premiere for Walt Disney Pictures. You can find out more on the official website.
Completed first with a dark green vertical sign holding the “El Capitan” letters in their recognisable yellow typeface, the forced-perspective segment was soon embellished further with another unexpected addition — a neon radio tower featuring the theatre’s name. Like the recently-opened Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, Hollywood Boulevard is expected to be glowing with neons at nightfall upon completion.
Opposite these developments, progress worth noting is finally beginning to take place at the location of the ‘Gone Hollywood’ storefront, a sand-coloured façade with pale turquoise details bearing all the trademarks of art deco design — some of which are now arriving on-site. Atop the building will be a small art deco clock, the base for which is already clear, whilst drywall has finally begun to cover the steel framework.
But, as ‘Gone Hollywood’ just gets started, the construction crew have been and gone elsewhere — fitting window frames and glass to the centrepiece window of ‘Sweet Success’, for example. With real construction details like this now joining the prefab façades, the illusion that these developments are real, functional buildings takes a step forward.
Behind the entire development, preparations for the two-tier Hollywood Hills have begun on the steel billboard frame of Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic, extending the vertical supports beyond their original height to form the gentle curve of the upcoming backdrop.
Finally, DCA’s ‘Off the Page’ (centre) has taken on a strong orange and yellow colours to its prefab-mould front, including a delicate entrance archway in far lighter tones. It appears likely this building will share a colour scheme remarkably similar to ‘Sweet Success’ at the opposite side of the row. Next door, the three-storey ‘La Brea Carpets’ has freshly-finished plasterwork across its front and the beginnings of balconies. The almost endless line of windows now have frames ready and waiting for more glass.
Whilst the original concept featured a large ‘Bank of Hollywood’, a reproduction of the Wiltern Theatre and a road leading directly to the front gate of The Hollywood Tower Hotel, it was already confirmed that La Terrasse would remain, Gone Hollywood would be on the place of the Wiltern and several more “pueblo deco”-style buildings would surround the Tower itself.
And now, at long last, we can see the true Imagineers’ vision of what awaits…
The concept art both confirms many of the expectations of the boulevard, built up through rumours over past months, and reveals new secrets of the under-construction project. The immediate impression when compared to the original concept is that the chosen plan features a larger spread and variety of buildings, a horizon/backdrop which is much more dimensional and layered and, most noticably, a greater amount of detail concerning the street-level “accessories” of the development. Certainly an impressive vision, the concept as seen here does not even appear to be the complete panorama, however, missing the far-left “Sweet Success” building and the far-right “Gone Hollywood” storefront.
Beginning on the far right, the Argyle Building(No.1) appears almost identical to its Disney’s California Adventure (DCA) original, though no sign of the “Ben Hair” barbershop gag in its window. Next, the long, three-story La Brea Carpets façade (No.2) has clearly had some alterations, the two arched patio doors on its right replaced with a closed square window and the two doors on its left now without doors, appearing to lead straight into La Terrasse behind. DCA’s tigerprint awnings above the doors have thankfully been replaced with ornate windows, similar to those on the park entrance gate. The signage (No.4) on the building appears identical to DCA, but we’re promised at least one of the two will now read “La Terrasse”.
The park’s Tips Board (No.3) makes a move to Hollywood as expected, positioned underneath a new pueblo deco canopy which bears more than a slight resemblance to that at Disney-MGM Studios. Towards the Hollywood Hills, we can now see that the expected First National Bank and Broadway Building aren’t the only sets to sit either side of the Hollywood Hills. A forced perspective of the Disney-owned El Capitan is featured (No.5) along with at least two other locations on the opposite side (No.7). The Broadway Building even features a new neon billboard atop its roof.
A major change when compared to the previous concept comes with the Hollywood Hills (No.6). Obviously wiser from their experience with Hollywood Pictures Backlot at DCA, the backdrop features no sky whatsoever — only the hills themselves are featured, similar in style to the recent (and successful) Toon Town Hills backdrop at Toon Studio. The tunnel is also featured, and the hills themselves appear to be split into two separate layers.
Those street-level details also improve greatly upon the past concept, from towering palm trees (No.8) lining the street to lamposts (No.10) matching those around Tower of Terror and, most surprising, a complete replacement for the old silver “lighting rig” parade poles (No.11). The first of the controversial towers to be replaced, they now look scheduled to become more ornate green pylons carring more refined speakers and lighting similar to Central Plaza in Disneyland Park.
Finally, continuing the park’s run of bad luck when it comes to fountains, the raised corner of the street now seems to be for a simple planter (No.9), rather than a much-needed splash of water. However, one final pleasing detail which can’t go overlooked is… Curbs! Sidewalks! At least the La Terrasse area now appears to be raised above ground level, practically a first in the entire park and an important step in continuing to remove the “built in a field of flat asphalt” feel the 2002 park occasionally had.
The Hollywood that only existed in our thoughts is now finally there, for all to see.
Photos compiled late August 2007, click to enlarge.
This article could begin with a line such as “When you step outside the doors of Disney Studio 1, the full effect the Tower of Terror and its associated placemaking gives an instant ‘wow’ for the size of this project.”
In fact, when you step outside the doors of Disney Studio 1 during Summer months, a ‘wow’ is still there, but the plentiful green trees block out much of the new scenery, hiding the new locations and giving The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror an even more towering presence.
Where once Disney Bros. Plaza provided the uninspiring panorama of an empty space, Studio Tram Tour billboard and yellow Art of Disney Animation, the glorious little courtyard is now surrounded by the details of the placemaking and the colour of Toon Studio. With his back to Hollywood, Walt points to Disney Studio 1, inspired by his own Hyperion Studio, as if to say to Mickey “look what we acheived here.”
Through the early morning fog, the Tower nestles comfortably behind the La Brea Carpets façade, lost and forgotten in the backstreets of Hollywood. When 2007 began, most expected the only development between the plaza and the Tower to be the old La Terrasse. The Tower would have sat alone as a lonely beacon of theme and story…
The view along this miniaturised Hollywood Boulevard is certainly still reminiscent of the early-2000s era of Imagineering — the picture-postcard entrance of Disney’s California Adventure, and the Hollywood Pictures Backlot of that same park. However, with real, three-dimensional sets in the foreground, the chance for a little “exploration” is still there.
But who said the sets and buildings closer to the backdrop weren’t 3D? Whilst the brilliant colour and forced perspective effects on the First National Bank (above) make it hard to tell at this point what’s dimensional and what’s a flat backdrop, the teal tower and octagonal corners are certainly real. The windows are also recessed into the building and fitted with reflective plastic.
Details elsewhere are also far from fake. On the new version of California Adventure’s three-story La Brea Carpets façade, you’ll find window frames and even a wooden balcony door…
With its location right at the heart of Walt Disney Studios Park, the placemaking is also having an effect on various other views across the Studio landscape. We’ve spoken many times before on DLRP Today about how the Tower’s location at the centre of the park certainly takes some weight of thematic criticisms off the less exceptional buildings in the park, and with Hollywood Boulevard even more visual interest has been added, filling a vast void at the heart of the park.
And the development hasn’t just added to the park, either. Some of the original 2002 elements which never captured any fans are now gone for good. Case in point — the billboard of Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic, now pulled apart to a single rectangular length of white metal, waiting for its new life in the Hollywood Hills…
From Studio Tram Tour itself, the Hollywood sets have an impressive height, filling the gap between Disney Studio 1 and Tower of Terror.
From behind, the steel skeletons can still be seen clearly by those entering the temporary Studio Tram Tour queue. The steel was painted white after construction, unlike the rest of the developments where it remained a natural colour, suggesting that it may remain visible from somewhere within the park.
Also here is the framework for the tunnel which will fill the problematic “horizon point” of the forced perspective film set (see Hollywood Pictures Backlot, DCA) — check the video on Page 4 for a look at the framework.
The set of the fictional Gone Hollywood boutique may give some hope to those who would rather not see steel frames, since the rear of this building has now been covered in dry wall similar to that given to the buildings surrounding La Terrasse, enclosing its inner framework.
The square structure which extends above the height of the storefront will eventually be home to a brightly-coloured art deco clock, previously missing from the main section of the park.
Continued on Page 2, as we stroll back around to Production Courtyard…
Member Lucky on Disney Central Plaza forum snapped the following photo from Disney Village‘s parking, showing the formerly empty area at the heart of the park now populated by the Hollywood sets in all shapes and styles. (Notice also the extra conifer trees recently added to the empty corner of Production Courtyard)
In a two-dimensional form with a heavy forced perspective, the building luckily still appears to sit well next to the all-important Hollywood Tower Hotel, sharing similar windows and vertical Art Deco lines in its architecture. No doubt the Imagineers saw this connection between the two buildings whilst on the search for new icons on the Studios’ boulevard. The windows of the tower appear to feature an extra layer of reflective plastic, although this could simply be some clever 2-D design work.
The make-up and layout of the boulevard forms this picture-postcard view from Disney Bros. Plaza, before fragmenting into its separate two-dimensional sets and their forced perspective playing tricks on the mind when — eventually — guests can walk along it toward the new Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic entrance…
The entrance really will be brand new — the old 2002 “billboard” entrance featuring spotlights, a dragon and a Catastrophe Canyon oil tanker is officially no more. In perhaps the most ruthless transformation effort yet seen at the Studios (Toon Studio saw only additions, rather than destruction, for example), the signage has been dismantled leaving only the bare white frame behind.
At the foot of the boulevard, Paris’ versions of ‘Off the Page‘ and ‘Gone Hollywood‘ are still in almost the same state they’ve been for weeks, only Gone Hollywood appears to have received a few more vertical steel pieces to its busy frame. As we begin to see the changes and enhancements to the prefab version of Sweet Success further below, who knows what changes await for these façades…
The word “prefab” usually has ever so slightly negative connotations. But, after seeing the Imagineers work their magic with the process, maybe we should think again. From a bare steel frame to a bare steel frame covered in cardboard-thin dry wall, the tower on the far left of the development has suddenly started to become a real, historic Hollywood landmark.
Begun by the pale brown dome, to contrast with the deep turquoise domes of the Tower behind, the movie set is fast become a building, piece-by-piece. Each section of detailed sculpting, window edging and brickwork has been slotted into place and nailed into position like an insanely elaborate IKEA flatpack. Let’s not even begin to imagine the size of that instruction manual…
Currenly going in are undulating borders around the very top of the building, and the immensely detailed coat of arms sculptings along the top of its facade are now making their way onto the side walls. With its zig-zag edging and luxurious prefab detail, it looks as if the Imagineers were helping themselves to a fine French gateux when they re-Imagineered their 1989 original with extra frosting.
The two buildings are certainly very similar, with the same sculptings and windows, but now that the Parisian version has taken another leap forward, the real difference in design is apparent. The detailing around the top of Paris’ version is only used above the shop windows of Disney-MGM’s candy store, the wavy edging is nowhere to be seen, the Dome replaces a dull square roof and further differences can just be seen in the way the “stonework” either side of the main window is coming along.
Just as those who expected a carbon copy of California’s Tower of Terror to arrive in Paris have been partially hushed, anyone presuming photocopies of landmarks from Disney’s Californian and Floridian Hollywood Boulevards will also be surprised at the change. Walt Disney Studios Park may be expanding on a strict budget, but those Imagineers can still work in a bit of extra magic.
Finally, Maarten – who we must thank again for another great photo update – has captured two photos from an angle which doesn’t appear to have been posted online yet. These two pictures are from between Disney Studio 1 and CinéMagique, close to the parade route, looking straight along the row of buildings which will soon become icons of the whole park.
The proximity to the parade route of the Sweet Success building is surprising, and the height of the developments continues to deceive the eye from certain angles. One look at a construction worker atop the third floor of Disney’s California Adventure’s ‘La Brea Carpets‘ reminds us that these may be fictional, false facades, but their vast size is very real.
The way these sets should enclose guests within a themed environment is exciting to see for the Studios, and of course this leaves us to end with a pun you all saw coming – Hollywood Boulevard should be a Sweet Success indeed.
Latest photos provided by Maarten. Sweet Success photo from DisneyPix.com.
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