Saturday, 21st July 2007

New landmarks, new details on Hollywood Blvd

The latest photo update by Photos Magiques provides several views from across the park on the latest construction, which has caused quite a stir as it suddenly injects a whole lot of “Hollywood” into a previously empty area. They chose the “placemaking” term well – when you see Sorcerer Mickey across from Hollywood Boulevard, the separate lands of Walt Disney Studios are finally obvious.

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This “new” version 2 of Paris’ second gate isn’t forgetting its past too quickly though, the first update today actually comes from La Terrasse. Our beacon of hope for a future Tower of Terror since 2002 — now due to live on as a food court, albeit in a rather daring (and very Art Deco) new colour scheme of mint green details and faded yellow edges.

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The first of the new landmarks — Studio Tram Tour‘s future entrance, the ‘Hollywood Hills Tunnel‘ — we spot from the area currently serving as the attraction’s entrance. The frame of the tunnel appears to be shaping up just like the design seen on the current park map, which has turned out to be an excellent and very accurate “placemaking guide” for any curious visitors.

As one new landmark has risen, others are already receiving the smallest of details. A new photo update posted today by G-force on Disney Central Plaza forum shows one week of remarkable progress.

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The “Off the Page” tower now has a sandy-coloured base to its green spire, but the real star of the production is the building on the furthest edge of the development, still beating all others with its fast construction. The steel shell has begun to receive the first faux stone carvings on its façade, with the shape of its main window actually cut out of the thin walls — confirming once and for all that the inspiration here is indeed Disney-MGM Studios’ “Sweet Success” boutique.

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The “stick-on” edging and details show just how fake this Hollywood really is. But, fake it may be, those details speak for themselves. The size of the sets is also impressive, especially when put into perspective with the construction workers seen applying the façades in these pictures.

However, the real “skyscrapers” can be found at the end of the boulevard — another two new landmarks, the First National Bank (on the left) and the Broadway Building apartments (on the right), nestled together either side of the Hollywood Hills Tunnel. The frames match exactly the designs seen on the current park map.

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As Photos Magiques spotted on the construction permit a few weeks ago, the tallest of the sets reaches a surprising 62ft tall, just 4ft short of the Earffel Tower!

You might notice a difference between the tunnel and these two forced-perspective towers compared to the Gone Hollywood storefront in the foreground — they’re all painted a yellow-tinted magnolia, rather than left as bare steel. Which, when you think about it, makes it very likely we’ll continue to see at least part of these frames (likely from behind) once the façades have been applied.

Something else to be watched closely is how the Imagineers are planning to bridge the gap between faux, forced-perspective Hollywood movie sets, such as the First National Bank, and the real, functioning Tower of Terror

Photos by Photos Magiques (more here), and G-force on Disney Central Plaza (more here).
Don’t forget — our new Hollywood Bouelvard guide provides a full layout plan of the entire project!

Saturday, 14th July 2007

The Rooftops of Hollywood, coo what a sight!

They’re the first defining features of this particular row of façades surrounding the Tower of Terror. Whilst the park was previously known by most for its collection of mostly featureless soundstages, Hollywood Boulevard looks set to add a real variety of styles and icons to the park’s landscape – and to its skyline…

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The first rooftop, on the right, is for the building known as the entrance of Off the Page boutique in Disney’s California Adventure, a half-diamond pointed tower which looks exactly like that of the original. Clearly still unfinished, the rooftop has yet to be given its spike or yellow plasterwork below, but there’s no mistaking the inspiration for this set anymore.

Its function in Walt Disney Studios Park will apparently be as the new entrance to La Terrasse, with reports confirming that final concept art for the street features such new detail as a vertical “La Terrasse” sign down the front of this tower. The arched walkway through the middle will then be a direct route to the revitalised foodcourt behind.

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The second rooftop draws clearly from the Tower of Terror itself and its three domes. However, with a pointed top (complete with customary Disney lightning rod) and rusted red colour, this dome also has its own Hollywood style. Interestingly, the building on which this new “bookend” of the row seems to be based, the middle section of this Disney-MGM Studios Hollywood Boulevard building, doesn’t have a dome at all!

Whilst most of these two end buildings are now wrapped in drywall, more visible progress has also been made on the steel frames of the remaining buildings on this row, including thinner and more accurate pieces added to the increasingly dense frameworks.

The top of another building on the boulevard, the First National Bank, can also be seen in background of these photos. The first metal frames for the two tallest façades at the rear of the street were erected at the end of June. We’ll have more photos and updates from the construction when the Photos Magiques team return from 2007’s Summer launch weekend!

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Look out for our brand new, fully up-to-date guide and map for the
future Hollywood Boulevard over on DLRP Magic! in the next few days!

Latest photos by Ptitmath (Disney Central Plaza) and Disneytheque.com (more at source).

Saturday, 23rd June 2007

Brickwall on the Boulevard, Gone Hollywood gone vertical

Brickwalls & Billboards on the Boulevard

The biggest news is again focused on the square, domed tower on the far left of the development. Last seen as large, bare steel frame, the framework soon took on even more verticle metal pieces, providing a strong and perfectly moulded skeleton to hold the themeing to be added on top.

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Bigger news for the project came mid-week, with the first appearance of something other than a metal frame for the series of façades – a wall! In reality, it’s not a “brickwall” at all, but simply a covering to package up the metal frame and allow the real themeing to be “stuck” on top.

Dingo 06 on DisneyMagicInteractive.com forum photographed the construction workers gradually moving up the left side of the tower and adding large, thin grey pieces to its side:

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Later, Joel photographed work as it reached the top of the tower, with this picture (below left) showing just how thin the wall actually is. With much of the designs of each building already showing in the metal frames, it’s clear now that the covering they receive on top will be purely themeing, and these won’t be buildings in the sense of Studio 5 or Tower of Terror with thick concrete walls. Their construction is therefore very similar to the lowest dome on Tower of Terror (seen top left), which was constructed as a steel frame with the same maze of verticle “ribs”, before quickly having its themeing stuck on top.

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As for the billboards – this popular feature seen particularly in the Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard streets of Disney-MGM Studios is now certain to arrive on our own street. Atop the third floor of the building directly in front of the Tower, the main frame for a traditional Hollywood billboard can already be seen, built into the movie set façade below.

Gone Hollywood gone vertical

More big news came from just across the future Boulevard little over a week ago, as a second section of the street finally went vertical. As mentioned in many previous articles, this has been rumoured to be a reproduction of the ‘Gone Hollywood’ store’s façade from Disney’s Calfifornia Adventure (DCA). Compare the framework to the finished article and there certainly is a resemblance…

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Notice that, should the chosen theme indeed be Gone Hollywood, our façade will be slightly smaller in length than that in California, with only one window on the Disney Bros Plaza side of its ‘Gone Hollywood’ sign and three on the other, compared with three either side at DCA.

With this frame in place, there remains much more still to come – expected to be the Hollywood ‘First National Bank’ and the ‘Broadway Building’ of the real-life Hollywood & Vine junction, along with the Hollywood hills backdrop itself, in front of the Studio Tram Tour station.

La Vieille Terrasse ?

Finally, the unexpected performance of the production from a real old-timer of the Walt Disney Studios – La Terrasse. Repainted completely in white just a few weeks ago, the concrete terrace has just last weekend been transformed with what appears to be a brand new coat of yellow dirt, grime and weathering on top, ageing it into the same timeframe as The Hollywood Tower Hotel behind.

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It already has the ‘HTH’ symbol since its 2002 construction (albeit not recoloured yet), so it seems La Terrasse will still, in some way, be connected to the Hollywood Tower as well as the Hollywood Boulevard developments which have grown up around the deserted hotel. Can we expect it to become some kind of outside seating and garden area of the former hotel – a true “La Terrasse” built for the hotel’s wealthy guests to enjoy sun-drenched cocktails across from the hotel?

Just imagine – on a summers day next year, brand new guests might be able to enjoy a drink on the same spot, with only distant screams from 13 floors above to darken the sunny spirits…

Photos by Photos Magiques, Dingo 06 on DisneyMagicInteractive.com forum and Joel.

Thursday, 31st May 2007

Hollywood Squares

These photos, dated 25th May 2007 by Photos Magiques, show the rapid progress of the façades due to surround La Terrasse by the end of the year. Compared to the view seen in our last update on the project just over ten days ago, we can now see more progress with the large square frame on the left and — the real leap forward — a whole series of metal frameworks in various sizes linking the first two “towers” together.

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The project is still on-track to look almost exactly like the illustration of the new park map. The largest frame on the left matches up particularly with the design features shown there, such as a sing, large window at the front and a dome atop its roof.

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The thinner frames between these two end towers will form two different façades. On the left, a thin pueblo deco building with a balcony, whilst on the right a long façade of a three-floor building, growing taller on its right and jutting out over a small path through to La Terrasse behind. It is this building, sitting behind a small fountain on the corner, that will host the new wait times and tips board in one of its arches.

The three floors will, of course, make use of that old Imagineer-favourite: forced perspective. But that’s not to say these façades aren’t a sizable addition to the park. The photos below by Joel (dated 29th May 2007) show the huge effect these towers are having on the central area of Walt Disney Studios, providing a focal point from the entrance of Toon Studio and a lot of visual interest from the route to Backlot already. The façades joining the two towers have also grown further still, beginning to resemble the final design seen on the park plan with their unusual sloped roof.

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As with any major construction at Disneyland Resort Paris, Euro Disneyland Imagineering (EDLI) needs the relevant planning permission and signage close to the construction site detailing the work. Since this work is right in the middle of a Disney theme park, Marne-la-Vallée planning have positioned the signs at the back of Walt Disney Studios, toward Val d’Europe. Thanks to the efforts of Photos Magiques, we can discover a very interesting detail about the project…

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In the bottom left of the construction permit dated February 2007 is a maximum height for the finished construction — listed here as 19 metres! That’s 62 feet, or just 4 ft short of the Earful Tower! The frames already in place cover almost the entire lower portion of the Tower of Terror from Disney Bros Plaza, but don’t quite appear to reach this height — just over one third the height of the Tower itself.

So here come the guessing games — there are still three major sets and a backdrop to begin construction, so this impressive project still has means to make itself even more impressive — but with which set? Well, thanks to admin Grandmath on Disney Central Plaza forum, it looks like the game might be over already. Should the final project continue to match the new park map, it looks like we can expect the towering façade of Hollywood Boulevard’s First National Bank on the left and a façade similar to the Hollywood Broadway Building at the corner of Hollywood & Vine on the left.

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In the early days of rumours for this project (well, by “early days” just a few months ago!) one of the key points of the design mentioned by those who attended the Cast Member showcase was a “crossroads” at the heart of the placemaking. And of course there seems no greater Hollywood crossroads than Hollywood Boulevard & Vine Street.

These two façades are therefore due to reach the dizzy heights mentioned on the construction permit, whilst a third set — Gone Hollywood from Disney’s California Adventure — which has yet to begin construction will complete our row of squares outside Art of Disney Animation.

Photos by Photos Magiques and Joel; Hollywood buildings montage by Grandmath.

Saturday, 19th May 2007

Hollywood setbuilding continues

Whilst little more than 2D façades with empty behinds were – and are – generally expected for this development, as the corner points of the building row forming a huge physical barrier between The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the park entrance, these two at least will be fully-formed, 3D sets.

We reported the first metal framework beginning construction last week, and since then this interesting square tower has begun to match even more exactly the expected finished design – a reproduction of the ‘Off the Page’ store entrance from Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disney’s Calfifornia Adventure. Also depicted on the new Walt Disney Studios Park map, this building features a square, pointed spire on its roof, and the latest photos below show that construction of its skeleton has almost reached this point.

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Adding to the development now is a second tower, much larger in floorspace than the first and equally impressive in height, already adding quite a landmark to the previously barren corner by the Place des Stars stage. Now imagine this with a few more façades inbetween the two and fully decorated in warm Pueblo Deco colours – as a new “heart” for Walt Disney Studios Park, this should really get things beating in a more true Disney style.

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The exact design of the building can be seen on the new park map below, with a large square body and a round dome similar to those on The Hollywood Tower Hotel behind. It doesn’t appear to match exactly with a building on either of Disney’s other two Hollywood developments – at Disney-MGM Studios and California Adventure – and considering its size could easily be put to use as something more than an empty façade.

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It’s already clear that these buildings on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard won’t just be a much-needed boost of glamour and style for the middle of the park. As the map shows, they form a major barrier between the current hub at Disney Bros Plaza and the entrance of Tower of Terror, forcing guests to walk towards Studio Tram Tour or around Production Courtyard to reach the attraction, perhaps a response to concerns in earlier years that this location was too close to the park’s entrance for such a popular attraction.

The impressive size of the frames already exaggerate the forced perspective design of the 183-ft Tower behind, making it appear taller and more distant, as if this 1950s Hollywood development gradully built-up around its decaying exterior in the decade since that fateful night…

Map © Disney; All photos by Photos Magiques.

Wednesday, 9th May 2007

The Boulevard of Dreams begins

2007 has been a whirlwind year for Walt Disney Studios Park, and although the four months between the announcement of Hollywood Boulevard and this first building structure may have brought noisy construction with a silence of news, the magic has been quietly building all this time. Can you imagine knowing 12 months ago a whole boulevard of street sets was to be green-lit and begin construction? It was top of the Walt Disney Studios “wishlist” for every fan throughout the first five years of the park, and now it’s becoming a reality.

This is the first major example of Walt Disney Imagineering’s “placemaking” initiative, and last week Disneytheque.com snapped exciting photos of the very first framework for a piece of the future ‘Boulevard of Dreams’… well, “exciting” if you scroll down a little further to see what it’ll become…

It’s a little less than dream-like, hey? But since every guest now visits the park equipped with their own construction-tracker (in the form of the recently updated park map), they can spot exactly which piece of the boulevard has begun construction…

In this case, it’s one of the “Pueblo Deco tower” buildings confirmed from the Cast Member Rendez-Vous event in January, and a closer look at the construction-tracker guide map reveals this is already a familiar Disney icon – one of the most popular pieces of Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disney’s California Adventure park. The main tower of the ‘Off the Page’ storefront will be reconstructed without its signage – or interior.

The exact details of what will be featured inside the buildings has yet to be confirmed. Some, such as the ‘Gone Hollywood’ storefront across the street (also from California Adventure), will be nothing more than facades, but with the more three-dimensional buildings such as ‘Off the Page’, possibilites arise for actual uses. It has been confirmed already that one of the building arches to the left of this tower will shelter a brand new Tips Board (waiting times indicator) for the park.

The metal frame itself still has some way to grow – it currently reaches only to around the top of the Disney characters on the ‘Off the Page’ sign. With a line of impressive Pueblo Deco facades in front of the Tower and a second boulevard behind (stretching from Studio Tram Tour to Production Courtyard), The Hollywood Tower Hotel will be given a true boulevard setting and enclosed within its own Hollywood land, the buildings also helping to increase its height through forced perspective.

And in just over seven months, the Boulevard of Dreams will be complete. Now that is the magic of the movies!

Latest photos by Disneytheque.com, Off the Page photo by Jeff Keller.

Saturday, 5th May 2007

Hollywood’s fractured façade

The damage and wounds of that fateful night in 1939 are finally beginning to appear all over The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, as construction suddenly hits a lightning pace to depict in full detail the blast of that fatal lightning strike. With the surrounding Hollywood Boulevard street set development set in the timeframe of the 1950s, the Tower also has over ten years of decay and dirt to cover its sandy exterior.

Early April saw the removal of the white tarp covering the front body of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, revealing the progress so far on the concrete behind. Well over half of the Tower, nearing around 80-90%, has now received full paintwork of pale yellow colours, with weathering and dirt on some sections finally turning this to the murky yellow we know from Disney’s California Adventure.

As for those fractures, they’re becoming clearer by the day. The separate right-hand tower is the first to receive cracks and breaks in its faux plaster, all filled with dirt seeping down across the previously clean paintwork. Below this, and at each of the metallic elevator door openings, steel frames have been added similar to those used in the sculpting of the Crush’s Coaster rockwork. These will be covered over with broken and ripped plaster to give the effect that a whole wing of the hotel collapsed into rubble when the lightning hit, leaving the elevator doors to open right onto a 13-storey drop towards the ground.

On the front body of the tower, above the indoor show scenes below, bricks have been built up to give the effect of the crumbled tower, bashed and knocked into pieces to give a real impression of the “blast” of lightning. Eventually, these will be further enhanced with more paintwork and weathering – plus a heavy dose of black and purple soot and dirt. Notice also that the extended room below the brickwork now has a fully finished pueblo tiled roof!

Elsewhere, other parts of the Tower continue to grow. The front tower, with the lowest dome, is finally beginning to grow with a full steel frame and the first additions of final plaster and concrete, whilst the sides of the main tower are now being given their balconies. You couldn’t ask for a better view – though currently the floorless balconies wouldn’t give you much time to appreciate it…

Not everything is dark and scary though, the Studio Tram Tour side of the lobby building is still being given its first coat of yellow paint and, with all of its classic 1930s windows, still looks like a fairly respectible Hollywood location. Even La Terrasse is getting a Hollywood touch-up, finally receiving a fresh coast of white paint (on the right) to prepare it for its supporting role in the new Hollywood Boulevard project.

Finally, two more photos from just this week kindly sent in by Kevin, the same reader who provided us with a look at Lightning McQueen yesterday. As the unseasonal hot, sunny weather gives the perfect climate for our Californian hotel, more progress can be spotted across the building – particulatly with the separate, small tower at the front, which now has a full concrete/plaster shell over one side of its steel frame.

Putting a 183-ft Tower at the heart of the park covered in such high detail was a clever move on the Imagineers’ part – as guests wander around Walt Disney Studios now, they can’t help but almost constantly gaze upwards to the 13th floor. An exciting bit of distraction, until the rest of the park catches up…

And don’t forget, you can see even more of the Tower — including a full archive of over 240 photos from the first blow of the shovel to today — at Photos Magiques!

Monday, 9th April 2007

Press Release & Concepts: 15th grows with new attractions

Gathered in the Hotel New York convention centre, the press were told that “the celebration doesn’t end here!” as the resort proudly announced it’s ‘Phase 2’ of the 15th Anniversary, leading from the June debut of Toon Studio right up to Stitch Encounter in early 2008.

On the proud occasion for this new, more confident Disney resort, a special press release was prepared, detailing the new attractions and providing new insight and comment from Walt Disney Imagineers working the various projects. The release is presented exclusively in full here:

Disneyland Resort Paris 15th Anniversary Celebration Grows
As Walt Disney Studios Park Adds Attractions, Entertainment

MARNE-LA-VALLÉE, France (April 1, 2007) – Disneyland Resort Paris continues the 15th Anniversary Celebration with the announcement of even more attractions debuting at Walt Disney Studios Park in the coming year, marking the largest expansion in the last five years for Europe’s No. 1 holiday destination.

“Walt Disney once said ‘Disneyland will always be building and growing and adding new things.’ And in that spirit, we continue to take his mission to heart by designing, developing and creating new experiences that will make our Resort unique, memorable and, most important of all magical,” said Karl L. Holz, chairman and chief executive officer of Euro Disney S.A.S. “We’ve come a long way, and we haven’t finished yet.”

Among projects that are part of the yearlong celebration:

Walt Disney Studios Park Expands
With Toon Studio, 3 New Attractions

Walt Disney Studios Park grows with the June debut of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally as part of the new Toon Studio. This colorful area transforms the Park’s Animation Courtyard into a lively “studio backlot” that playfully pays tribute to the art of animation.

Crush’s Coaster is the first coaster-based attraction inspired by the Disney-Pixar film “Finding Nemo”. Guests climbs aboard a turtle shell and plunge into the thrilling world of Nemo and his turtle friend Crush, with sophisticated show lighting, sound effects and imaging technology creating a whimsical whirl through the East Australian current.

“Disney has always been known for creative storytelling, and Crush’s Coaster takes immersive storytelling to the next level,” said Tom Fitzgerald, executive vice president and senior creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering. “Imagineers are pushing the boundaries of technology to bring the worlds and characters of ‘Finding Nemo’ to life in incredible, three-dimensional ways.”

Also premiering in June is Cars Race Rally, the first Disney Park attraction based on the Disney-Pixar film “Cars”. Guests of all ages climb aboard for a zany spinning ride on the famous Route 66, created with dimensional movie sets. At each corner of the track, famous faces from the film are waiting to cheer on drivers. As the rocky desert landscape whizzes past and the canyon walls spiral around, your car crosses the finish line.

A third attraction debuts in early 2008 on the Park’s new Hollywood Boulevard — the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, towering 183 feet. Thr thrill ride will dare guests to board a hotel freight elevator — with a faster-than-the-speed-of-gravity drop through 13 floors. Tower of Terror, already a hit at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland, is one of Disney’s most popular attractions worldwide.

“Hollywood Boulevard is a great example of infusing our story into the physical space through a 1950s Hollywood neighbourhood with dimensional movie sets, color and lighting,” said Fitzgerald.

More Interactive Fun — ‘High School Musical On Tour,’
‘Meet The Robinsons,’ ‘Ratatouille’ Meet ‘n’ Greets

The hottest dance moves and the biggest hit songs from one of the Disney Channel’s most popular entainment phenomenon come to life in “High School Musical On Tour,” a new immersive show for the whole family at Walt Disney Studios Park.

Debuting on a rolling outdoor stage June 16 and performing through Aug. 26, a multi-talented team of entertainers brings the students of East High to France for summer vacation, re-creating the world of East High, a place where best friends break into elaborate musical numbers like magic. Theme Park guests may even find themselves shooting basketball or joining in as the whole street turns into a party while great songs fill the air.

Performed in several languages, it’s a showcase of sing-a-long fun that will invite all ages to be part of a new kind of live entertainment inspired by the highest-rates TV movie in Disney history.

Also this summer at Walt Disney Studios Park, guests can meet the characters from the newest animated Disney-Pixar film. Beginning June 16 in Toon Studio, meet the starts of Disney-Pixar’s upcoming animated feature “Ratatouille”: Rémy, an adorable rat who dreams of becoming a great French chef, and Emile, his roguish friend. And this fall in Toon Studio, meet 12-year-old boy genius Lewis Robinson and the mysterious boy named Wilbur Robinson who whisks him away to the future in the comedic “Meet the Robinsons.”

‘Living Characters’ Debut with Stitch Attraction

Utilizing the latest real-life computer graphics animation technology created by Walt Disney Imagineering, a new interactive Stitch Attraction opens in spring 2008 at Walt Disney Studios Park. The attraction lets guests talk, listen, joke and play with the fuzzy, lovable alien first introduced to audiences in Walt Disney Pictures’ hit comedy, “Lilo & Sttich.”

Because of the interactivity and immersion of this new experience, the guests are the ‘stars’ of the production along with Stitch himself,” said Tom Fitzgerald, executive vice president and senior creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering.

As Guests enter the theater, a Space Traffic Controller scans a galactic communications screen for “active” alien traffic. Stitch is quickly summoned to talk, joke and even flirt, engaging the audience in spontaneous conversation. The show is never the same twice — whether Stitch plays his guitar, dances around the bridge of the spaceship or takes digital photographs of audience members. And no matter where guests are seated, Stitch sees and engages them in non-stop banter.

“It’s the latest milestone in Walt Disney Imagineering’s legacy of bringing Disney characters to life,” said Fitzgerald.

All-New Live Entertainment in Disneyland Park

In Disneyland Park, Mickey Mouse and dozens of Disney characters star in the all-new Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, featuring famous dream moments from Disney stories, and for the first time ever, the floats have fragrances that fill the air, matching the themes of each float. Also for the first time, most of the floats have two themes, one on the front and one on the back.

Music is orchestrated and conducted by noted musician Steve Sidwell, who also wrote the music for films including “Moulin Rouge,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “Finding Nemo,” and was recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.

There are even more opportunities to meet classic Disney characters, including the new Disney Characters’ Express, a specially-designed train that carries the stars down Main Street U.S.A. several times daily. Their musical adventure includes time to meet and greet with guests in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and at special locations added just for the celebration.

And each evening, the park will come to life during Candleabration on the forecourt stage, featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and friends in a lively song-and-dance finale with the backdrop of Sleeping Beauty Castle, artfully adorned with delicate sculptures of 15 favorite Disney Characters with shining birthday candles decorating the turrets.

—– End Release —–

The new additions weren’t just previewed with words. Press were treated not only to a special preview performance of the new ‘High School Musical On Tour‘ show, but also to a glimpse at two brand new pieces of concept art, captured and presented to the ‘outside world’ for the first time by our partner site WDSfans.com.

The first is a key concept for the new ‘Hollywood Boulevard’ project, showing our own Twilight Zone Tower of Terror surrounded by 1950s Hollywood city buildings, littered with neons, billboards and seating and towering high above the streets below.

Anyone following the project from its first preview at the January Cast Member rendez-vous event may recognise that this is actually one of two concepts designed for the area. As we heard from the Cast Member event, this ‘Bank of Hollywood’ street set development was not the chosen design – the design will instead be more “pueblo deco” and “mediterranean” as the Tower itself, as seen on the new park map.

The new Hollywood Hills tunnel entrance to Studio Tram Tour is also missing, though the concept does certainly give an exciting and atmospheric look at the theme and surprising size of the project – and of course, finally, our first real look at a dedicated concept art created just for this project.

It’s interesting to note also that Imagineers are describing this as a “1950s Hollywood Boulevard”, meaning that, at the time this fictional “film shoot” is set, The Hollywood Tower Hotel would already have been closed for over 10 years (since 1939).

Finally, another concept art – and again, the first one we’ve seen for this particular project. Showing Stitch’s invasion of the current Walt Disney Television Studios building, this concept for Stitch Encounter shows the building decorated with a new, more blue and purple, colour scheme, along with a huge entrance sign featuring the loveable alien himself. A satellite dish is featured atop the current tower, looking like something straight out of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.

A new, circular information board is also featured in front of the attraction, displaying times listings for both French and English performances and matching the Art Deco design of the building itself. The Imagineers working on the new transformation must be relieved that the slight whimsy and futuristic look of the Art Deco building already lends it quite an “outer space” style.

Interestingly, the Disney Channel branding appears to have remained – both on the huge projection screen embedded into the building and atop the new times board. Also of note is that whilst the concept shows a ‘Stitch Encounter’ entrance sign similar to the original attraction in Hong Kong Disneyland, the press release simply states ‘Stitch Attraction’, suggesting the final name has yet to be decided.

With all this announced and released just one day after the launch events and premieres for the 15th Anniversary, it all adds up to a huge range of new additions – bigger, perhaps, than the 50th Anniversary of dear old Disneyland USA itself.

Karl Holz said it perfectly – “We’ve come a long way, and we haven’t finished yet.”

Concept art © Disney; Captured exclusively by WDSfans.com

Monday, 9th April 2007

Park Maps join the party, reveal secrets

Guests stepping into one of two Disney Parks at Disneyland Resort Paris on 1st April 2007 were met with a nice early-morning surprise. No, not just the surprise that the previous day’s cloudy, rainy weather had changed quite magically to a beautiful blue sky the moment the press premieres ended…

…But also, a new design for the Park Guide maps and entertainment programmes! Gone is Jiminy Cricket’s guiding presence on the cover and in comes the golden “15” surrounded by characters and their candles, the first redesign of the new-style park maps and programmes since their launch on 7th October 2006.

The biggest change at first glance is without doubt to the Disneyland Park guide, which now sports a flashy gold colour rather than its usual pink, interesting since the anniversary is “only” a fifteenth, rather than, say, a fiftieth.

Both guides have also been scattered with confetti and streamers inside and out, though as you can see here Disneyland Park currently has a far larger ’15’ on its cover than Walt Disney Studios Park – you know, just incase you missed the anniversary number on the banners, Castle, parades, Central Plaza stage, Panoramagique balloon and throughout all of the boutiques! The size could also be symbolise that, right now during the “first phase” of the anniversary celebrations, Disneyland Park has the majority – if not all – of the events.

Inside, the old ‘Wishes’ illustration of Jiminy has been replaced by a 15th Anniversary version, but he still most certainly gives his guiding tips for a good day out. As for the maps themselves, Disneyland Park now features a special 15th Anniversary corner box listing the main events, with ‘A’ and ‘B’ symbols on the map showing locations.

For Walt Disney Studios Park… watch out!! That’s the moment we walk slam into the Partners Statue whilst staring, shocked, at the map… which seems more than a little familiar. Yes, it seems the “work-in-progress” edition we picked apart in great detail (albeit in lower quality) wasn’t quite so work-in-progress afterall – at least for now. As an exciting teaser of what’s still to come during the anniversary year, the map design has switched to an early design of the 2008 park – featuring Crush’s Coaster, Cars Race Rally and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, along with the additions of the Toon and Hollywood projects.

The three major new attractions (Stitch Encounter not included, since Walt Disney Television Studios is still currently operating) are even marked on the key for their respective lands, with opening dates listed as “June 2007” and “Early 2008” respectively. Whilst Crush’s Coaster is already listed as having height and physical restrictions (though exact height isn’t given), the restrictions for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are not currently listed at all.

The map clearly is still a “work-in-progress”, the new Studio Tram Tour backdrop not correctly aligned and the street sets in front of it not featuring their final, expected design. Animation Courtyard and Production Courtyard are also missing all of their planters, giving the impression, bizarrely for a park map, of a far bleaker landscape than in reality.

But, for now, it provides a surprise glimpse into the future for all those thousands – if not millions – of guests who will wander across to the Studios after tiring of the party at Disneyland Park. It will also likely help as an apology and reasoning for any guests shocked at the current state of the park, filled with construction walls. Though now until June at least, Cast Members will be answering, on a daily basis, “how do I get to Crush’s Coaster?!”.

It’s worth also pointing out that even though the map still lists ‘Animation Courtyard’, the new Sorcerer Mickey statue clearly has the words ‘Toon Studio’ beneath, and that the map is valid only until 31st May 2007. From 1st June 2007, then, the land should officially be renamed.

Finally, the Programme guides, formerly known as the ‘Entertainment Programme’, have also been updated with the new 15th Anniversary branding – along with the first times and details for all the anniversary events currently bringing the parks to life.

Photos/scans by DLRP Today – maps © Disney.

Saturday, 17th March 2007

Work-in-progress Walt Disney Studios

Today’s edition of the newspaper included a special supplement dedicated to the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Resort Paris. A clever publicity stunt from the resort’s Dutch sales office, it includes details of the aniversary events, articles on the history of the resort, an interview with Imagineers and countless travel offers and promotions for trips during the anniversary year. The entire supplement has thankfully been photographed by the members of Themepark.nl, including an entirely unprecedented special inclusion on page 9.

To show the impact of its new attractions on the park, a work-in-progress version of the 2007/08 Walt Disney Studios park map has been printed. As with most new attraction additions, the rough plan has been available to the international sales offices of Disneyland Resort Paris for some time. Almost never before though, has a plan such as this been released to the public. It’s a daring move from the Dutch team, and another bold attempt to really make an impression on the public as the anniversary year approaches.

Disney theme park maps always have to power to allow fans to stare away at them for hours, so a map which gives us a look 12 months into the future? Well, there’s a lot to take in…

(Nr.1) Extra plants between Disney Bros Plaza and Toon Studio, with the first appearance of the Sorcerer Mickey entrance statue! Strangely, Mickey is shown as a gold statue as in the latest concept art we’ve seen, rather than the full-colour statue generally expected. The plinth he stands on also appears to match that in the latest concept, mirroring the blue and stars of the Sorcerer Hat.

(Nr.2) The Sorcerer Hat now features golden stars, stripes and moon with its upcoming golden Disney characters also featured. Dumbo in particular can be spotted below the word “Disney”.

(Nr.3) New planting areas in front of Animagique! These were shown in an old piece of concept art which was uncovered recently (see image on WDSfans.com), but their inclusion in the final plans for the land still isn’t confirmed.

(Nr.4) The new, extended “oasis” area in front of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah.

(Nr.5) The colours of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah’s backdrop have been updated and the reverse is now purple.

(Nr.6) Crush’s Coaster. With pink rockwork, a hazy queue line (the pink path leading to nowhere) and a different design to Studio 5, this isn’t the most accurate view of the attraction but should be adequate. The logo is featured above the building to match the rest of the attractions on the map.

(Nr.7) The Toon Town backdrop and new Toon Studio area. The Toon Town hills backdrop features only limited buildings, in the exact design of the steel frames recently erected on-site, and the smiley-faced Sun from the 2007 Resort Map and early concept art doesn’t appear. Two planters are featured, and, though hard to make out, there appears to be a yellow, faux Toon Studio security booth at the “entrance gates” to the backlot – a great touch, if it becomes a reality!

(Nr.8) The ImagiNations costuming workshop is no longer featured at all on the plan, with the corner of a plain building just peeping out from behind the Toon Town backdrop. Curiously, there doesn’t appear to be a clear path between Studio Tram Tour and Toon Studio here.

(Nr.9) Cars Race Rally. The large neon “Cars” sign atop the circular entrance building is used as the main symbol of the attraction, with Flo’s V8 Café next door. The area isn’t particularly detailed – only two turntables are shown, as previously seen in the 2007 Resort Map. We’ll have to wait and see if the final version of the map brings further updates.

(Nr.10) Now we’re onto Hollywood Boulevard/Studio – probably the most interesting part of this early plan. As a sign of its work-in-progress nature, two skyscraper buildings appear to have been grafted in from Disney-MGM’s New York street sets, coloured dark red here to likely show they’re only placeholders for a custom design on the final plan.

(Nr.11) The new Studio Tram Tour tunnel entrance and Hollywood Hills backdrop is shown, but hasn’t been matched up to the rest of the plan yet (the old entrance can still be seen behind). The tunnel appears almost identical to that seen on the fresque inside Disney Studio 1.

(Nr.12) The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror itself. The design appears to have been copied over exactly from the Disney’s California Adventure plan.

(Nr.13) A new street now runs diagonally from Place des Stars to Studio Tram Tour, right past The Hollywood Tower Hotel. The Hotel therefore looks likely to have more of an on-street inner-town feel like Tower of Terror at Tokyo DisneySea, rather than the abandoned hillside location of the Florida version. The iconic fountain has retained its position from California, therefore appearing to make the Production Courtyard side the main entrance to the new attraction.

(Nr.14) And finally, most fascinating of all – their current plans for La Terrasse. It appears there will only be a minimal path through to the Tower from Hollywood Boulevard, with the entire current La Terrasse building now surrounded by the new Mediterranean/Pueblo Deco building described previously, creating a new area surrounded by trees and what appears to be a fountain. An outdoor terrace seating area appears to be featured behind the sets, looking across the street to Tower of Terror. Across the boulevard, the Gone Hollywood storefront can be seen.

The Walt Disney Television Studios and Rendez-Vous des Stars/Backlot Express buildings have also been shrunk compared to the current map, and extra plants and details have yet to be added to Production Courtyard and Toon Studio.

And there we have it. Disney theme park maps are never the most accurate of plans, but this certainly gives a fascinating look at the bare minimum of additions and improvements currently being worked on.

Imagine… in just 12 months’ time this won’t be work-in-progress, this will be Walt Disney Studios Park. Now, that really is a Studio of dreams…

Many thanks to Pantagor and the members of Themepark.nl for sharing this plan!

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