Disneyland Paris has been named a three-star tourist attraction by the famous Michelin Green Guides, the highest distinction from the travel publisher. The accolade was accepted by ambassadors Jonathan and Antonella, dedicating it to the Cast Members who “offer daily hospitality and quality service to our visitors”.
Listed separately as Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios, the two Disney parks are now both marked as “Highly Recommended” three-star attractions on Michelin’s Paris travel guide. Looking at the competition, Parc Astérix to the north of Paris has only a two-star “Recommended” rating, though the mouse shouldn’t be too complacent — Disney Village is marked out by only a single star.
Many will of course remember the excellent series of classic Green Guides or “Guides Vert” and fold-out maps produced by Michelin in the early years of the resort. Providing concise and clear overviews of the resort — and now, a fascinating glimpse into its history — they’re well worth hunting down on places like Amazon Marketplace.
Ratatouille: The Ridewill open, that’s about as close as we can get to an official opening date right now. But today Belgian tabloid newspaper SudPresse appeared to break ranks by publishing an article (above, and in full below thanks to DlrpExpress.fr) which states quite clearly and confidently that the date will be 15th July 2014.
Upon closer inspection (or even from a great distance), it seems quite likely that this article hasn’t been anywhere near the Disneyland Paris press department for authorisation — besides the author logging on to transcribe their latest press release.
The concepts of a “Ratmobile”, unearthed as part of the ride’s planning application, have only ever been published publicly by the Disney Central Plaza forum, whose watermark can still be seen on the image. When it came to show the Ratmobiles during last month’s shareholders meeting, Tom Fitzgerland had much more final, official-looking renders.
And finally, the photo of the tunnel with a bust of Chef Gusteau comes, uncredited, directly from fansite DLP.info, circa 2010, who weren’t so lucky with their watermark — covered over by the newspapers own caption! There is no way Disneyland Paris would sign off the use of any of these images, so why would they give this publication an exclusive with a date?
What remains odd is that the paper plumped for Tuesday, 15th July 2014, when the most widely circulated rumour so far has been the 14th July — France’s national “Bastille” day.
Bastille Day looks great on paper, of course: opening an attraction based on French love letter Ratatouille, plus an adjoining restaurant, with endorsement from Chef Paul Bocuse, at Disneyland Paris, on the French national day itself; the concept of such a thing is so French the whole of France might just implode.
But is one of the busiest days of the year really the best time to open such a desperately awaited new attraction? And would the French press (not to mention all the extra technical and support staff required for a press event) really want to leave their families and traditional celebrations to cover an event happening on 14th July itself? Besides, Disneyland Paris press events usually onlytake place over a Friday, Saturday, Sunday weekend.
Elsewhere, one quite credible rumour has been that Cast Members could be given a preview of the attraction on Monday, 23rd June, followed by “Soft Opening” beginning on Saturday, 28th June. Soft Opening is the period of a few weeks where Disney opens new attractions for guests as a kind of “dress rehearsal”, giving a chance to tweak the experience and spot problems without the attraction officially being “open”.
Meanwhile June’s park opening hours were published yesterday, with a couple of clues that something might be afoot at the Studios, as reported on DLRPMagic.com. Notably, Saturday 21st June sees the park close at 6pm, rather than the usual 7pm. Indeed, this the first and only Saturday of the year so far that the park will close at this earlier time on a Saturday.
Disneyland Paris wouldn’t cut opening hours on a busy weekend lightly, so this must suggest some kind of private event — for Cast Members, for the press, for someone else? It’s usually good manners to give Cast Members first preview of an attraction, so if this were to be a press event date for the opening of the ride, it might put that 23rd June date in doubt.
Late June would make a far more sensible date to assemble the press for a showy grand opening, though: before the French summer holidays (and abandonment of Paris) begin, and giving enough time for them to draft their footage, reports and articles in time for a big media push on… 14th July? This could be particularly successful outside of France where, rather than the usual samey Eiffel Tower footage, news reports could show the implosion of French-ness on La Place de Rémy as a perfect populist tie-in to the national date.
That would leave Bastille Day itself as more a simple ribbon-cutting date for the public; indeed, the date on paper — the date that goes down as the day Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy finally, officially opened its doors. It’d be perfect. Even though, as is always the way with Disney attraction openings, it wouldn’t necessarily be true.
At this point, it’s really a shame Disneyland Paris won’t just do the sensible thing and make an announcement, if only so that us fans can stop obsessing over a date, book our summer trips with confidence and start focusing instead on what a seriously cool and spectacularly unique new addition this is shaping up to be — perhaps the best thing to come to Disneyland Paris since the hallowed date of 12th April 1992 …or should that be 11th April?
It’s not quite a 3D trackless dark ride, but it’s still impressive: the famous Belgian Sand Sculpture Festival, which it has been announced will return to a Disneyland Paris theme again this year with an event titled “Disneyland Paris Sand Magic”.
Due to be held in Ostend (Oostende) from 28th June to 31st August 2014, the exhibition’s new flyer even hints at a well-timed Ratatouille theme.
Touting 30 artists of 12 nationalities, creating 150 statues between 2 and 12 metres high, the official website also reveals 3,000 tons of sand will be used to recreate the Disney scenes.
Part of a joint promotional commitment between Disney in Benelux and the organisers of the event, it’s also been confirmed already that next year’s festival will see the theme of Pixar’s upcoming The Good Dinosaur, while 2016 will feature Finding Dory.
Picturing Rémy, the lead rat in the Brad Bird-directed 2007 Pixar animation, jumping forward holding a cork, it depicts a rounded, flattened, rat-shaped ride vehicle capable of transporting six guests. Behind, the fiery chef Skinner looms over with a rolling pin — no doubt an example of the huge video projection effects expected to be demonstrated within the vast new showbuilding at the back of the park’s Toon Studio, next to the existing Toy Story Playland, to be augmented with larger-than-life physical props.
As for that long-winded title, don’t despair — it may yet prove to be a moniker only seen in French promotions, or right at the entrance of the attraction. Disneyland Paris has past form with the rambling “La Tour de la Terreur: Un Saut dans la Quatrième Diménsion” (The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror) and even the nearby tongue twister Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, which was always promoted to English-speaking markets as “Cars Race Rally”.
One final piece of information: 2014. That’s still as specific as Disney will be with the projected opening date — though many would expect it not to be early in the year, despite the rapidly-materialising Parisian street scene, given the technical complexity of the world-exclusive ride experience within.
Titled ‘Designers of Dreams’, the one-off event took place on Saturday 23rd March for the 20th Anniversary Extended press launch. But luckily, if you’d like to see this unusual meeting of Disney characters and catwalk fashions for yourself, you can watch it here in full!
As well as exclusive outfits by fashion houses such as Lanvin, Sister by Sibling, Philip Treacy and Supertrash, the show featured a performance by Laura Van Kaam, winner of The Voice Kids Nederlands.
Disneyland Paris will launch its extended 20th Anniversary celebrations this weekend, with a one-off catwalk fashion show to showcase brand new Disney character costumes made by some of Europe’s most prestigious fashion houses.
This is our very first, official look at the completed Disney Dreams! — projections, multi-coloured lasers, illuminated fountains — wow! Just a handful of the effects on show and only one of its many “Dreams” pictured — turning Sleeping Beauty Castle into a collection of rocket fireworks for the Aladdin “Friend Like Me” sequence, but a thrilling first “official” glimpse at what’s ahead, right?
Exactly one week from now, the show will premiere to the world’s press at 10.30pm, Saturday 31st March. Creative director Steve Davison is certainly feeling the anticipation, posting on Thursday: “Great rehearsal tonight of the show with a lot of bells and whistles. It is really starting to come together. So much fun!!! Almost time to unveil this magical show!”
We can also now confirm that on the official opening day of the show, 1st April 2012, it will be presented twice in one evening: at 9.30pm and 10.30pm. Yes, if late park hours all year and a nightly nighttime spectacular weren’t surprising enough for Disneyland Paris, they’re now running double performances. There are rumours this could continue for the whole 20th Anniversary year, but no further showtimes have been announced as yet.
If you can’t make it to the resort so soon, stay with us as we’ll be there to capture the whole thing, reporting back with photos, videos and more from the first week of April onwards to give you the whole story on the 20th Anniversary launch. Be the first to see our 1080p HD videos of the show, and other 20th Anniversary events, by subscribing to our YouTube channel!
Asked as a final question “What will you do to avoid the park reaching saturation?”, he comments:
Knowing that a customer is satisfied when they can see at least six attractions in a day, we estimate our maximum capacity to be 17 million visitors annually. So we still have room for improvement, but we must grow. In January, our banks have given us 150 million euros in new funding to build two new attractions, which should open in 2014 in our second park, Walt Disney Studios. In 2010, we also obtained the agreement of the State to build a third park. We are looking at it very seriously, even if the decision won’t be made until 2020. We will also build new hotels, restaurants and shops.
Now, presuming Mr Gas doesn’t count the adjoining restaurant or those desperately needed new toilets which should be installed next to Ratatouille, this gives us an odd surplus in the new attraction count for 2014. So what are the possibilities? Again, this could depend on how you define a new attraction, but let’s throw Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic right out there straight away.
We had assumed that €150 million would only just cover Ratatouille itself, so a second attraction would likely be a smaller, less expensive project. We’re not expecting a Soarin’ here just yet. So presuming CinéMagique is safe and Aerosmith still have a few years left in them yet, the only likely replacements for existing attractions are Armageddon: Les Effets Speciaux and Animagique.
Armageddon suffers with its poor throughput and even poorer pre-show; having been the focus of a previous replacement proposal, to build a Chronicles of Narnia-based attraction in its place, could its time finally be up? Recent rumours have suggested that the licence to the 1998 Jerry Bruckheimer film itself could soon run out, further fuelling the desire for a replacement. With the more neutral Backlot location, this could be the perfect opportunity to introduce Disney’s recently-acquired Marvel characters to the parks, although the building’s small size would certainly be restrictive. It might not be the easiest way to add capacity to the park, as Philippe Gas desires.
Meanwhile, the live Animagique blacklight puppetry show in Toon Studio will be approaching its twelfth birthday in 2014. Popular though it is, that’s a long time for a live show, and considering the huge 1,100-seat capacity of Studio 3, the show provides the park with relatively little capacity. Finally going ahead with a long-mooted replacement by a certain 3-D film such as, ooh, Mickey’s Philharmagic would boost capacity in this part of the park enormously — and that’s precisely what Philippe Gas seems concerned about here, making it a very strong possibility.
Due to the live puppeteers involved, Animagique stages only around five shows per day in the vast auditorium, whereas a 12-minute projected film show such as Philharmagic is able to play continuously from park opening right to closing time; cycling through audiences every 20 minutes or so, and with lower operational costs to boot. The pair are practically cousins, conceived around the same time and both seeing Donald Duck getting lost in a series of classic musical scenes. But with 3-D films becoming passé again and Philharmagic due to be nearing 11 years old in 2014, could it still be viable as a new attraction? A belated opening at Tokyo Disneyland just last year suggests it certainly is.
As you can see, while two new attractions in one year may be a surplus, there’s still no shortage of possibilities in Walt Disney Studios Park to use that valuable credit on. Watch this space…
We all know 1992 as the year that saw Disneyland Paris open its gates, but what other tentative beginnings is that fateful year famous for? Why, the launch of British-born pop singer Peter Andre‘s career, when he released his first single in Australia, of course! Whether this was the smart thinking behind asking him to present what appears to be a new commercial for the 20th Anniversary, or the fact that he has more recently appeared in a string of ITV reality shows, remains to be seen, but Sleeping Beauty Castle was ready to put on an extra sparkle for his arrival yesterday.
The news spread on Twitter with Andre himself tweeting “Back at work today, filming my first ever TV commercial for Disneyland :)) it’s cold cold cold in Paris” in the early afternoon. After darkness fell, he posted the two photos featured here, showing him appearing with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Sulley in front of an illuminated castle, holding a 20th Anniversary-branded microphone. The anniversary logo was also projected onto the façade of the castle as spotlights criss-crossed the sky, creating quite a spectacle from Main Street, U.S.A. for regular guests.
Below, two Instagram photos shared by @pka13 of the filming and the castle, which was lit by the colour-changing embedded LED lights first installed for the Princess Aurora’s Christmas Wish show last year.
Since we’ve already seennumerous versions of the main TV advertising campaign for the anniversary, Peter Andre’s “commercial” filming will presumably be for a special one-off broadcast closer to the 1st April launch date itself, perhaps as part of a promotional segment within a TV show or as a one-of commercial spot. Meanwhile, Pat Sharp is still waiting for his call-back…
First sand, now ice: The weather in north west Europe might still be unseasonally mild outside, at least compared to this time last year when we were being hit by heavy snow, but that hasn’t hampered the efforts of the “Ice Wonderland” Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival in Bruges, Belgium one bit. For the first time, Disneyland Paris has lent itself as the theme of the event, with the artists creating giant sculptures of its landmarks and characters. In a controlled environment of -6 °C, ice sculptors were allowed to work only limited hours due to the cold — but look at the results!
Following this Summer’s popular Sand Sculpture Festival on the coast at Blankenberge, the focus here is more on Disney characters than the parks’ lands and attractions. There’s the famous Partners Statue created entirely out of ice and a whole parade of stars from WALL-E to Toy Story, The Jungle Book to Beauty and the Beast and beyond. The event is being held in the Stationsplein at Bruges (Brugge) until 15th January 2012. You can find out more at ijssculptuur.be and, for a whole photo tour of the sculptures, be sure to check out Brakesection.be’s report from the event!
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