News / It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland

Tuesday, 6th October 2009

Halloween 2009 events roundup, party surprises

Just like that, the nights are dark and the leaves are falling. And since the Saturday just gone, 4th October, Disneyland Paris is back in the Halloween spirit for — with great coincidence — its 13th season.

Disneyland Paris Halloween 2009

Disneyland Paris Halloween 2009

So what’s new? For the past two years the festival had to coincide with the eternal 15th Anniversary celebrations. This year, it has to battle Mickey’s Magical Party for airtime. In this great big roundup of all things Halloween, we’ve quotes from DLRP Magic!.com‘s interview with festival director Emmanuel Lenormand and some fresh videos pulled from YouTube along the way.

This is Halloween – let’s hope we’ve no need to scream.

Jack Skellington & Sally move to Cottonwood Creek

The Nightmare Before Christmas pair were so popular during their inaugural season in 2008 that they’ve had to be given a wider area than Phantom Manor‘s Boot Hill. This year, they’re over by Cowboy Cookout Barbeque instead…

Halloween Opening Parade

…but do again appear in the rather dull-titled “Halloween Opening Parade”. The pre-parade to Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade this year features lots of Pumpkin Men (or Pumpkinfolk), a horse and cart carrying the couple and the old Carollers/Snow White/Seasonal float carrying Cruella, Gaston, Stitch and other “Villains”, all set to the music of Florida’s HalloWishes fireworks “This Is Halloween”/”Grim Grinning Ghosts” remix.

Here’s the pre-parade moving past (40 seconds in):

And a show stop on Town Square:

Anything to add? Oh yes, definitely don’t look at Hong Kong’s Halloween parade.

It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends… and the Disney Villains

…and a Ridiculously Long Name. This is only one performance mind — the first three shows of “It’s Party Time…” each day run as normal, with only the final show (currently at 7pm) being given a light Halloween touch.

Emmanuel Lenormand wasn’t being modest when he described it as “only a camera” in his recent backstage interview. Just as the show is wrapping up, thunder claps and the usual Halloween sound effects herald the arrival of Maleficent via the stage lift usually reserved only for Mickey.

(jump 5 minutes 35 seconds in)

Apparently the witch is there because she’s upset not to be invited to Mickey’s Magical Party (clearly she hasn’t had to stand through “It’s Dance Time…” like the rest of us). The purpose of her arrival will be lost on a vast majority of guests, however, since she speaks only French. Yes, it’s Goofy’s Summer Camp all over again. Not all that long ago, Entertainment would have ensured a mixture of languages and then possibly a repetition of what’s happening from each language.

But huh, who cares. Soon enough, rather than doing something, er, “villainy” as you might expect, the now collection of baddies suddenly begin to take part in yet another rendition of the so-called “Mickey Dance”. You can’t deny it’s funny to see the Old Hag from Snow White bopping away to the rock-pop theme song, but for the past few years the festival was been built around a centrepiece show here on Central Plaza. Now that focal point is just a silly dance.

A touch which feels more special, though, is the addition of pyrotechnics to the stage as Mickey disappears towards the end (which can be seen at 10 minutes 15 seconds in the video above). They produce a whole lot of smoke but make for a great finale. Apparently they were meant to be there for every show, since April.

It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland

Though not marked on the Programme as being part of Halloween, Emmanuel Lenormand does comment: “There will also be a similar cameo at the end of It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland.”. Naturally, we’re all expecting Gaston and Cruella De Vil going wild to the show’s quintessentially Disney number “Shake Your Booty”, and nothing less.

If you’ve seen the real “cameo”, do comment below.

Minnie’s Halloween Party Train

Now on version number 2,561 of this meet ‘n’ greet train, the park has redecorated the carriages with thorny vines and pumpkins, adding Halloween sound effects over the already saturated soundtrack. The bigger change, though, is that the train now only makes it as far as Town Square, doing a loop around the Gazebo before stopping for the characters to step down.

There’s a bit of a blunder with the introduction, however, as the train is announced as the old “Disney Characters Express”, yet later, Minnie’s ear-piercing voice of 2009 continues to play, so guess away at how that mix-up happened. D’oh! And to think Minnie’s Party Train so nearly got away with guests thinking it was a “brand new” event!

Disney Witches Dancing Spells Party

The difficult name might not exactly inspire, but from Emmanuel’s words this new show on the temporary Trick or Treat Stage near Cowboy Cookout Barbeque sounds like it might be the hit of the season. The stage has been redressed, given a proper set — even special effects. Maleficent and the Old Hag from Snow White battle it out with the help of placed audience members.

“In this show, Maleficent and the Old Hag from Snow White arrive in a cemetery during the night to have fun with their cauldrons and spells to invent new potions. Four children/dancers passing by are going to be choreographically transformed according to the Hag’s and Maleficent’s potion ingredients.

“For that show, Jérôme Picoche came up with some superb scenes, with the transformation of the tombs into cauldrons, with effects everywhere, and a cool ambiance!”

Unfortunately nothing appears to have made its way online yet, so we’ll keep you posted.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties

This year, the extra-ticketed events take place on 9th, 16th, 23rd and 27th October and have thankfully been extended beyond Fantasyland to also include Frontierland and Pirates of the Caribbean. Last year, everyone was kept inside Fantasyland for the duration.

Emmanuel elaborates: “It was such a success last year that we decided to fully open Central Plaza and Frontierland for the occasion. There will be a brand new show in front of the Castle with Disney Characters, in which each good character with confront his or her evil counterpart! And again, there will be lots of candy and sweets handed out.”

“There will also be a Disco Party in Frontierland. The whole place will be filled with dance and fun everywhere! With all of our dancers and Disney Characters, it’s going to be terrific!”

Disney’s Halloween Party (31st October 2009)

And on the big night itself… there’ll be not a bang in the sky. The big talking point for 2009 is what amounts to the cancellation of the usual Halloween Soirée fireworks show. Over the years, they’ve been good and they’ve been underwhelming, changing almost every year. But this year, there’ll be nothing at all after midnight.

Instead, Emmanuel has been helping to prepare a brand new “Light and Sound Show”. Getting that sinking feeling? Don’t judge too soon — as Emmanuel revealed, “we’re going to revisit the elements that made last year’s show such a success — projections, dancers, etc — but enhanced a million times! You’ll have up to 60 artists, projections, pyrotechnic effects and the Castle transformed into a stage itself!”

Last year’s finale show, in case you didn’t catch it online or in the park, was one of the most impressive to date, using the old Central Plaza stage for dancers and a very rare appearance by Sorcerer Mickey — who even did his special pyrotechnic trick usually reserved for Fantasmic! in the States.

Beyond possible noise or cost issues, there’s one good reason to scrap fireworks in the unwelcome early closures it brings to the whole back half of the park. “The idea is to have Mickey confronting the forces of evil with lots and lots of surprises: black light effects and lots of projections.”

“In fact, we’ve got a new projection system which is really effective, so you’ll be able to see giant characters and news ways to animate the walls and the windows of the Castle. It’ll look really different.” All things considered, maybe this kind of imaginative, one-off show is actually better than the same old low-level squibs we’d see otherwise.

And finally…

The Decorations

Oh, Halloween at Disneyland Paris. It’s love/hate. You’ll mostly see the same old things around the park this year — that means Main Street trashed by orange paint and Frontierland turned to Halloweenland with a hodgepodge of items from across the years. At worst, these creations still unfortunately treat Disneyland like a lifeless canvas, rather than actually complementing its themes and bringing extra life to the lands.

However — the poorly-judged (or quite simply poor) Pink Witches are entirely gone, as are most of their most awful remnants (the astonishingly bad “Travel Agency” desk, for example). Jack and Sally have begun to be represented in several places, most notably on the former “Pink Witches Academy” arch, and several other assorted new pieces have popped up that are really rather pleasing. Some of the older items, like the crypt arch, have been repainted in nicer new designs, finally incorporating purple into the colour scheme.

It seems like they finally know the direction to take Halloween in, but the issue yet again is money. For such a key season, now one of, if not the most important season for markets like the UK, Halloween in Paris is sorely under-funded when it comes to decorations. Everything is rehashed over and again. Hopefully sometime next decade they’ll finally be given the cash to invest in proper, comprehensive overlays in the more sensitive style of those seen in California.

And what about Halloween at Walt Disney Studios Park? After all, even Tokyo DisneySea launched a “rival” Halloween event to its next-door neighbour this year with great success. Well, Emmanuel is posed that very question — but isn’t exactly forthcoming.

• Read the full interview with Emmanuel Lenormand here!

• Buy your tickets for the Halloween Party Nights at www.disneylandparis.com!

Monday, 7th September 2009

Time to Party – new CD album, new music!

This new Mickey’s Magical Party CD album was first confirmed in DLRP Magic.com‘s exclusive interview with Director of Music Vasile Sirli back in July, with an expected release for August.

Well, they certainly kept us anticipating — the new album, in a shiny foil cardboard sleeve, began appearing in the resort’s stores in the very last week of the month. Here it is…

Mickey's Magical Party CD

On the disc you’ll find pretty much the full original score of the centrepiece show It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends, plus two new versions of the ‘Mickey’s Magical Party Time’ theme song by Scott Erickson and the ‘He’s a Pirate’ (a track from the original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl soundtrack) remix heard at the start of It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland.

Rounding out the collection are a few oddities. We’ve got a track by The Hill Billy Trio (‘How Many Biscuits Can You Eat’) and another by The African Tam-Tam. Considering these two were both previously available on Frontierland en Musique and Disneyland Resort Paris en Musique releases respectively, are they there to provide a pause from the very modern, pop-tempo Magical Party tracks, or do they smell like filler? Let’s leave that to you…

Mickey's Magical Party CD

Finally, a more surprising deviation is the full, 13-minute soundtrack of the Once Upon a Time Sleeping Beauty “happening” from Fantasyland’s Castle Courtyard. Again, this has little relation to the theme year celebrated by the album, but the music plays well on CD, almost sounding better than it does through the speakers in that area of the park. Very unusually for a Disneyland Paris CD, the full introduction spiel is included. (Unusual and rather annoying, since we’ve yet to ever see anything this complete for far more worthy events like Fantillusion, don’t you think?)

Can’t get to the park just yet? Wondering how all these new tracks sound? Ahh, let DLRP Today.com bring the Storybook Store listening post to you! Here’s an exclusive collection of excerpts from the CD…

The full tracklisting is as follows:

1. Mickey’s Magical Party Time – Instrumental (04:08) *
2. Following the Leader (01:50) *
3. The Bare Necessities (01:53) *
4. Tigger Medley (01:32) *
5. Hakuna Matata (01:44)
6. Peter Pan Medley (01:50) *
7. Mickey – Finale (01:00) *
8. La Fête Magique de Mickey (03:46) (French version by Georges Costa) *
9. Mickey’s Magical Party Time (01:45) (Main Street, U.S.A. version) *
10. Mickey’s Magical Party Time (06:10) (Remix)
11. He’s a Pirate (05:38) (Remix) *
12. The Hill Billy Trio – How Many Biscuits (03:33) *
13. The African Tam Tam (05:00) *
14. Il était une fois, la Belle au Bois Dormant (12:50) *

Total time: (53:48)

Tracks marked with an asterisk (*) are included in the preview above.

With a running time of just over 50 minutes and over 20 of those taken up by the final filler tracks, it’s still notable what this CD celebration of the year’s events fails to include — besides the Mickey’s Magical Party Time song itself, which you’ll have to buy on the separate CD single.

Still we’ve no ‘Tous en Train’ theme song from Minnie’s Party Train and Disney Characters’ Express, nor any music from the new attractions over at Walt Disney Studios Park. Playhouse Disney is excusable since the rights are held elsewhere, but a ‘Roll out the Red Carpet’ mix from Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars could have been a good inclusion, perhaps the ‘Showbiz Suite’ version previously released for the parade at Walt Disney World.

Goofy’s Summer Camp has also provided another remix of the main theme song played before the show begins in a laid-back country style, which may well have been cut too late to make the master.

Mickey's Magical Party CD

But, who cares? Have you listened to those preview clips above yet, or seen the ‘Party Time’ show in the park itself? The score of this show, particularly the opening and finale, is a sensational piece of work from Vasile Sirli. Incorporating musical styles and instruments from across Europe to give the classic Disney themes a fresh and vibrant new feel, not to mention a glorious, rich orchestral version of the theme song, it’s one of the best Disney entertainment scores of the decade. And now, we can own it.

The CD is priced at €15.00, and now available for sure at The Storybook Store and The Emporium, though may well have found its way to more locations. Grab it quick, though — we’re nearly half way through the year already and in its first days on sale (particularly over the final weekend of August), the small displays at these stores were being emptied each day.

• If you’ve already got the CD, now is the perfect time to discover Jeremie Noyer’s interview with Vasile Sirli all about the main show score itself. Learn the inspirations, the instruments, the ideas and more as you listen… (Click here)

• You can also order the CD via the resort’s official mail order service. Email dlp.mail.order@disney.com for more details.

Pictures: DLRP Today.com; Music: © Disney.

Friday, 31st July 2009

Did we miss anything..?

Well yes, quite a lot obviously. Just shows you shouldn’t go wandering into the Adventure Isle caves just before park closing… it’s been four long months!

If you’ve been similarly deprived of Disneyland Resort Paris news, given up trying to translate what they’re saying on the French forums, sit back and enjoy a quick and concise round-up of all the big stories of recent months — here we go!

SLEEPING BEAUTY’S BLING

Was it coincidence that updates here ended just about the time that Sleeping Beauty Castle succumbed to its most horrific, misguided meddling-with to date?

The birthday cake, the jester’s hat, the Epcot wand, the MGM hat… you’ve met your match. There truly aren’t enough negative adjectives in the dictionary.

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MAGICAL PARTY LAUNCHES WITH MEGA-PARTY

‘You’re invited!’ …but not to this. Press and media types were schmoozed in spectacular fashion as new theme year Mickey’s Magical Party kicked off with fireworks, projections, lights and so many characters they couldn’t even all fit on the damn stage.

Did it generate headlines, articles, media coverage? No.

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ACTUAL PARTY GROWS ON FANS

Frustratingly-titled new Central Plaza show ‘It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends’ initially looked rather like a drab flop on an overbearing and unnecessary new stage, but it has grown on most fans. The score by Vasile Sirli is actually plain fantastic (especially considering the lacklustre music in the year’s other new shows) and it provides a fresh, colourful heart for the year.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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ShoulderKids – this year’s must-have accessory

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LIGHT MAGIC GIVEN FORMAL APOLOGY

Over in Discoveryland, the other show with an annoying name — ‘It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland’ — brought delights such as large, primary-coloured circles on the floor of a retro-futuristic land, and the expertly-chosen hits of Block Party Bash.

Despite the show being considered terrible on every level by most who’ve seen it, the performers put so much effort and energy into their routine they each almost deserve a window on Main Street.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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PLAYHOUSE DISNEY QUIETLY OPENS

Beyond the forced MMP hoopla over the other side of the esplanade, Walt Disney Studios Park gained a brand new attraction — its fifth addition since opening — in ‘Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!’. Jolly good fun it is too — wonderfully staged, very charming. The Paris version even has a “1 Up” on the two earlier versions with a big new pre-show studio.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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Credit crunch souvenirs

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RESTAURANT GENERIQUE

Changing its name to ‘Restaurant des Stars’, the far too interestingly-named ‘Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant’ gained a new logo, some new colours and a new entrance canopy.

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DUDE LOOKS LIKE A FIRE!

In a quite bizarre coincidence, just days after fans launched an online April Fool suggesting Aerosmith would be succeeded by French rocker Johnny Hallyday as musical guests at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, a fire began in the roof of the showbuilding.

Luckily the damage was minor — though it did allow for these dramatic photos (below) as the inspection crews ripped off the cladding, checked and replaced it. The attraction reopened just the next day.

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SMEE GIVEN SURGERY

Captain Hook’s bumbling first mate was given a random makeover by the worldwide Disney Parks character team and, unlike most famous faces, he returned from the cosmetic surgery with a face more expressive than before. Remarkable.

Hopefully they’ll tackle some of the clearly worse-looking characters next, like the dead-eyed Woody, Jessie and Buzz…

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HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL PARTY!

Now back for a third year, the Studios’ High School Musical show this year gained musical numbers from the third film but stopped short of going for the full ‘HSM3’ show the other resorts put on. ‘I Want it all’ is the standout number, but one that certainly won’t win over any new fans.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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THEMED SMOKING

The ‘Smoking Areas’ inside the parks had been extended little beyond their miniature park map icons, so it’s reassuring to see that each area now has its own themed sign, tied into the location. Give it a few years and the public might actually use them.

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STUDIO STORE OPENS UP

Behind construction walls last time we saw it, the Walt Disney Studios Store has now been completed, with three new doors and payment desks in front of new, large windows.

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

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STORYBOOK ENDING

Main Street has always had the best-kept exteriors of the entire park, always popping with a fresh bit of paint here or there. A new development in recent years are the nice tarpaulin coverings given images of the building hiding behind. Even for tiny spots like this one on the end of The Storybook Store, the hidden façade is still presented on top.

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PLAZA GARDENS GLEAMS

After a major refurbishment of the interior, including bringing the central fountain back to daily life, the whole Plaza Gardens Restaurant building was wrapped in themed tarps for an expensive top-to-bottom refurbishment and repaint. It didn’t stand out as being particularly bad before, there are other areas needing paint sooner, but it does look fantastic.

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STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES

Over the hub, it’s surprising to see that the refurbishment of Disney Studio 1 continues, the huge centrepiece building of the park still wrapped up in scaffolding. Must be a bigger job than originally thought, right?

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FLOORS OF ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY

Tripped up in Disneyland Park recently? No wonder, some of the concrete pathways are literally falling to pieces. Thankfully, the first resurfacing works seen for many years have been taking place, with areas of Adventure Isle and vast swathes of Discoveryland closed off and given new flooring, the effect — especially just in front of Space Mountain — very noticeably making the whole land look brand new.

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TENNIS, MICE, MAIN STREET

Some of the resort’s press and advertising efforts have been surprisingly inventive this year, like this — turning the top of Main Street into a full-size tennis court and inviting Gaël Monfils and Stanislas Wawrinka to play with Mickey Mouse.

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Just a few days later, Serena Williams visited the park and was met in front of the Castle by Minnie Mouse, wearing a special tennis player costume.

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JUST ‘PARIS’

Effectively the biggest change of the past few months, the news in April and subsequent official changeover in May that has seen ‘Disneyland Resort Paris’ — the resort’s name since the 2002 opening of Walt Disney Studios Park — change back to just plain ‘Disneyland Paris’.

It certainly makes sense — the extra word was always unpopular, confusing to non-English speakers and now, with every park from Alton Towers to your local fairground claiming itself as a “Resort”, it simply doesn’t have any value. “Disneyland Resort Paris” is cumbersome and never spoken, “Disneyland Paris” is short and very strong. Whilst things like the official website have changed over, don’t expect this to be an overnight transition — the new (or rather, old) logo will reappear just as and when things need replacing.

Unfortunately, this decision — made by new CEO Philippe Gas himself — came in April, just weeks after the resort had launched a whole new brand campaign for the theme year. These traditionally start in April, and everything from Cast Member name tags to park tickets and guidemaps had already been printed up with the full “Disneyland Resort Paris” name. Smart name reversal, silly timing.

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There’s also a whole myriad of logo variations now available (above). Which should be used, when? The standard logo is being presented as two-colour, with the “Paris” in a gold gradient that already looks rather dated.

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BURNING FIRES, FLOWING WATERS

Tasked with bringing back old and forgotten effects, a new “taskforce” within the resort’s maintenance department has been one of the most positive steps in recent months. We already appear to have seen some brilliant reawakened touches, such as the torches on Fort Comstock at the entrance to Frontierland (lit from nightfall)…

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And the water channels leading to the drinking fountains beside La Cabane des Robinson.

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Whilst a long way short of having the full irrigation system working again (water should be hoisted right up to the top of the tree by the water wheel, before being poured out and running through the channels back to ground level), it’s great to think someone took the time to figure this out.

Elsewhere, these moving fairground balloons inside Boardwalk Candy Palace have been back working again, for the first time in years.

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CAFE DE LA BROUSSE

Mostly sitting closed, Café de la Brousse has never the less just had a large-scale refurbishment completed, bringing colour back to the “bush café” buildings. Dole is presented heavily as the host, but still no one thinks of bringing the legendary Dole Whip to Paris!

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DISNEY VILLAGE NOW ‘COOL’

So. It took a Starbucks to make Disney Village “hip” again.

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Yes, it meant losing the wonderful Buffalo Trading Co. and inviting a quite equally despised/appreciated corporation into a Disney-branded area, but the coffeehouse itself was built using genuinely eco-friendly ideas and looks really quite trendy inside, with a wonderfully modern exterior — industrial elements clashing beautifully with earthy materials.

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ROSES PAINTED RED, FINALLY!

The on-off refurbishment of Alice’s Curious Labyrinth — with little areas regaining sparkle each month or so — has continued, the Paris-exclusive attraction even seeing… new paint! The red edgings of the entire labyrinth have finally been repainted, a year after similar edgings on the Fantasyland-Discoveryland path received paint before them, and scenes like the Caterpillar suddenly “pop” like they should again:

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ROBINSONS RETURN TO LA CABANE

Also brought back to life this Summer is La Cabane des Robinson, previously the only other “blackspot” alongside the Labyrinth. For too long the treehouse has been bleak and worn. Props missing, effects broken, no colour. It was as if the Robinsons had long ago moved on from their treetop abode. Not any more — refreshed woodwork, new props and a complete clean-up really make it “pop”. Effects like the self-playing organ are still missing.

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Even the water fountains were revisited and given an extra spruce-up:

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WOODCARVER’S WORKSHOP RE-OPENS

Not entirely the amazing news that might suggest, but nevertheless the long-abandoned Woodcarver’s Workshop over in Cottonwood Creek Ranch, next to what is now Woody’s Roundup, has finally been brought back into service — selling drinks and souvenir photos from the character meet ‘n’ greets inside.

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A long way from the actual woodcarvers who used to create personalised souvenirs here, but good to see it alive and well in some form, eh?

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ENCHANTED FIREWORKS DAMPENED AGAIN

The Enchanted Fireworks have returned for their second year — dampened again in similar style to the later shows last year, when the nearby town of Chessy apparently banged on the wall and issued a loud “shhh”. Fans, and even apparently some regular guests, aren’t too impressed with the “new” show.

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ATTRACTION OPEN 12:00 – 12:05

The same limited opening schedule of attractions put in place last Summer has returned again this year, with visitors taking much more notice. Some say it’s fair enough that they have to close attractions early, since most people have headed to Main Street to watch Fantillusion, whilst others leave annoyed that the park’s advertised opening time of 10am to 11pm isn’t strictly true.

Most agree that the whole situation would be better if the limited openings schedule was at least published somewhere other than only at the attraction entrances themselves — on the tips board, in the Programme leaflet, for example.

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GOOGLE EARTH 3D: WORTH THE WAIT

The much-publicised and subsequently much-delayed official 3D recreation of Disneyland Paris in Google Earth finally launched in mid-May and proved to be well worth the wait, offering a truly spectacular metre-by-metre recreation of every inch of the parks and resort. Visit www.disneylandparis.com/googleearth3d and lose a few hours.

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A few days later, Google Street View was also added for small stretches of each park:

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BROCHURE TESTS THE LIMITS

Have you seen the brochures and advertising for Walt Disney World? How grand and high-class it all looks. For Paris, however, the brochures in particular seem to be getting ever more garish and in-your-face with each publication. The latest, current brochure for Autumn/Winter 2009/10 features some truly frightening images of blurred children flying above the parks, with so much photoshopping and saturated colour you can barely see the resort they’re trying to advertise.

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The actual, printed version also comes with a bizarre claim on the cover of “First ever interactive brochure”. Beyond the cut-out on the cover (Mickey is actually on the page behind), the only evidence of this is a French (+33) mobile number you can text to get a video trailer of the new theme year. Several weeks later, nothing received here.

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VAT REDUCTION? VAT CHANCE

The French government has officially lowered the VAT rate for cafés and restaurants from 19.6% to just 5.5% in order to keep the industry afloat, and, while you’ll certainly find many notifications of this within the resort, you’ll be much harder pressed to actually find reductions.

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Whilst some things, especially the Half Board vouchers, have come down in price, most scenarios have just seen the prices stay the same and Disneyland Paris pocketing the difference in order to prop up the large drop in food and beverage sales this year — mostly on account of the prices being too high during a recession. Good thinking.

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ICE CREAM ARRIVES ON-SET

Walt Disney Studios Park must have been the only theme park in the world without a proper ice cream location until the latest change in its food & beverages offering. The Franklin Department Store façade (similar to the exterior of Gone Hollywood at DCA, international fans) gave up its wonderful 1950s-themed period window to become a new kiosk serving actual, real Ben & Jerry’s by the scoop.

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

The lost window was more interesting than the one remaining, featuring a mannequin woman sitting with a 1950s travel magazine, retro television and monster/sci-fi movie poster. The Tower of Terror across the way has such a minimal build-up in Paris that small period-setting details like this really mattered — the Imagineers would have put an ice cream kiosk in there from the start otherwise.

Couldn’t such a vital theme park component as ice cream have commanded its own building somewhere? Rather than expanding, the park almost seems to be imploding, with under-sized kiosks popping up all over where real, full-size boutiques and restaurants should be. More than anything, one single serving window for this in such a prominent position is madness.

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BLOCKBUSTERS IN THE BACKLOT

Over in Backlot, the big news has been the complete gutting of Backlot Express, the “props warehouse” counter service restaurant, in favour of the more brand-friendly idea of themed rooms dedicated to the Pirates of the Caribbean and High School Musical franchises. The changeover began with the arrival of a plain Ford Focus outside the restaurant, plastered with “HSM3” stickers…

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The new logo has been completed on the outside…

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And as for the inside? Well, real props from these two trilogies have yet to appear, with the High School Musical area causing much fan hair-tearing already with its “themeing” of bland posters, banners and mini basketballs (taken from merchandise). The “East High” theme does sit well within the building, but this isn’t anything someone with a good printer could set up themselves. Are there not even any costumes from the film lying around over in Burbank?

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Beyond the “torn bedsheets” (as described by magicforum members) hanging from the ceiling, the ‘Pirates’ area has defied the odds and just presented the first real surprise of this project — the removal of the metal railings of the raised “garage” area to be replaced with pirate ship-styled wooden banisters and a full ship’s wheel.

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TELEVISION STUDIOS GOES ’50s

…Or is that wishful thinking? With a long-overdue repaint of the Walt Disney Television Studios building (home to Playhouse and Stitch Live) finally beginning back in April and only just making real progress, have the maintenance teams really taken a step back and reconsidered the building, rather than just bursting ahead with the same ugly yellows the original designers chose in 2002?

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Yes, it seems so! The architecture was already within the period, but the colours didn’t quite fit. Now, a deep red has replaced the turquoise on the “fins” atop the building, with the yellow turning a much more earthy, peachy shade, in whole much closer to a 1950s Hollywood look and more pleasing next to the subdued tones of the Hollywood Tower Hotel just opposite.

— — —

ANIMAGIQUE KIOSK MARK II

The bland merchandise kiosk which appeared outside Animagique in 2007 now has a partner. Filling in dead space on the right of the same TV Studios building, this little location opened just this week, using the new colour scheme and dressed up in a pleasingly similar style of fins and neons.

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Photo: Sean Hamilton

In any other Disney park, such a location would be given a name or some kind of personality (think Crossroads of the World at Disney’s Hollywood Studios). It offers the usual generic collection of character merchandise.

— — —

ROCKEFELLER PLAZA REBORN

Could this be the start of a new era for the environs of Disney’s Hotel New York? The Rockefeller Plaza building, a dull games arcade for far too long, has finally reopened as a lovely café refreshments location for the Summer.

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— — —

MICKEY SWINGS INTO — AND ONTO — BUFFALO BILL’S

It was the controversy of the year — nay, the decade — and now it looks like Mickey Mouse has made home. The not-so-great poster previously stuck on the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show entrance has just been replaced by a large model of Mickey Mouse abseiling down over the building.

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Whilst it looks much smarter now, it has fans worried that the mouse may well be there to stay. On the subject of the show itself, the current Summer park programme leaflets are now advertising Adult tickets for the price of Child tickets. In high season? Maybe adding a mouse wasn’t the best way to sell the scale of this truly epic dinner show.

— — —

FASTPASS FOR MONEY

This one must be the second-biggest controversy of the year, then. In itself not a huge thing by any means, this could however be the first step of a huge shift in how Fastpass works. From 18th July to 4th August, guests staying at Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Hotel New York and, it seems, Disney’s Newport Bay Club, can buy a special “Premium FASTPASS” for €80 per person per day.

The ticket is effectively a VIP FASTPASS, the unlimited-access ticket previously given only to guests in Club rooms and Suites, allowing you to use the FASTPASS queues for attractions as and when you want, as many times as you want to.

— — —

STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES

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— — —

GOOFY’S SUMMER CAMP

Somewhere you won’t find Mickey this year is the new show at The Chaparral Theater in Frontierland. Yes, since we last updated the topic, The Tarzan Encounter was cancelled again — for good.

This new show is somewhat like the Summer cousin to the brilliant Mickey’s Winter Wonderland, only scuppered by a desperation for audience interaction, with too few scenes between. However, with a live country band as the big “plus” to replace the Winter ice rink, a great stage and some nice musical numbers, it’s winning more fans than certain other shows this year, and much more fitting for its location than Tarzan ever was.

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— — —

MAIN STREET COMES ALIVE WITH MARCHING BAND

Last seen making brief appearances last Summer on the old Central Plaza Stage, the brass band has returned! Now performing a brilliant set of Disney music (even including Hans Zimmer’s Pirates score!) on Town Square, this is the kind of classic Disneyland entertainment we rarely see in Paris, so enjoy! The only problem — no one, not the makers of the park programme, nor the Cast Members inside City Hall, appear to have been given their performance schedule.

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— — —

CARL’S HOUSE FLIES OVER FRANCE

The real-life version of the balloon-lifted house from Pixar’s next — and 10th — major hit, “Up”, travelled over to France recently and, amongst appearing in some truly spectacular hot air balloon festivals, paid a visit to Disneyland Paris early one morning.

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— — —

AND FINALLY…

Who’d have known — the Sleeping Beauty fountain inside the Castle gallery was actually meant to trickle down into the waterfall below, beside the staircase, as one, complete water system! Now, after truly years of being turned off and ignored, it’s fixed and running. The “crystal” at the bottom of the falls glows, too!

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Photo: pussinboots

Wonderful. Utmost appreciation to whoever made this happen.

— — —

So there you go, DLRP Today returns!

With thanks to www.photosmagiques.com!

Sunday, 22nd March 2009

Subtler balloons continue to re-market the Party

That shiny new image used to launch the resort’s print advertising campaign for this year’s events was just the first of many, DLRP Today can now reveal.

Floating in a calm blue sky was a silver balloon “reflecting” an image of It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends, the new signature Central Plaza show. It was certainly a different approach to the saturated, really quite garish marketing images we’d seen earlier.

Now, there are three more images in the same style — is Mickey’s Magical Party being magically re-marketed before it even begins?

Mickey's Magical Party advertising

The first image, above, is the original image used in the magazine advertisements, featuring “VIPs” Donald Duck and Goofy alongside Mickey Mouse on the stage, rather than the secondary Timon and Aladdin of the earlier visual.

Below, Minnie’s Party Train gets another Photoshop re-imagining, this time adding more polka dots and plenty more characters to its carriages.

Mickey's Magical Party advertising

Though, as yesterday’s early preview in the park confirmed, the actual final design of the train is still rather different indeed.

Finally, Stitch gets another fairly nondescript visual to advertise It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland, continuing to show it more alike a modern, rock concert atmosphere than the actual scfi-kitsch of the real show.

Mickey's Magical Party advertising

It’s interesting that these visuals are available from Disneyland Resort Paris alongside the earlier poster-style images — they haven’t been replaced, but they certainly look rather less appealing than these new designs above.

Just a shame, perhaps, that these weren’t available sooner, when the original brochures for this year went to press, rather than two weeks before the event begins…

Images © Disney.

Thursday, 5th March 2009

Prepare your moves: First Dance Time preview video

Travel trade partners visiting Disneyland Resort Paris earlier this week for an “educational” trip were also given a special surprise as part of that product education — an exclusive first look at the key events of Mickey’s Magical Party. Since these are the people who’ll be trying to sell the resort and its new celebration over the next year, the organisers pulled out all the stops for an in-depth event-by-event preview.

First up, after the revelation of Mickey’s flashy new costume for It’s Party Time, the first presentation: It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland.

Lights dimmed and Stitch suddenly appeared as a silhouette at the far end of the stage, rushing up toward the real DJ’s decks only to be intercepted by the event’s master of ceremonies and the upcoming show’s director, Emmanuel Lenormand

As the crowd were whipped up in anticipation, the music began and those pink and blue-dressed sci-fi-like dancers we’ve seen before came parading onto the stage with a hugely energetic routine. Each section of the show introduced new dance steps for the audience to retrace.

The music, as anyone familiar with the California or Florida resorts will instantly recognise, comes straight from Block Party Bash, including the Motown classic “Dancing in the Streets” and… “YMCA”. Whilst the dancers’ costumes suggested the show might be tailored a little more to its Discoveryland location than we first expected, the soundtrack — at least for this preview — doesn’t quite fulfil that hope.

Toward the end of the 11-minute performance, the live host encouraged the crowd in the convention hall to repeat a chant back to the cast. Stitch, wearing an orange baseball cap, remained silent for the whole presentation. It’s expected — but not confirmed — that he will speak in the show, whereas no thought before now was given to the possibility of a live human host.

Since these presentations aim to just give a “feel” for the events and lack the actual stages and performance cues of the real shows, we’ll have to wait and see come 4th April just how much of this preview is true to fact.

Video by PhotosMagiques.com.

Thursday, 5th March 2009

Dance Time next to Star Tours, only ’till November

First — the location! We thought we had it pinned down when the construction walls went up between Star Tours and Star Traders

It's Dance Time... in Discoveryland
Photo: PhotosMagiques.com

But then they came down to reveal a fresh floor (and not much else), and the TV spot threw a mixtape into the decks (or something hip like that) by showing DJ Stitch in front of Space Mountain

It's Dance Time... in Discoveryland
Photo: Disneytheque.com

Now, thanks to creative director Kat de Blois, we’ve got the confirmation: It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland will be performed right next to Star Traders, at the back of the land.

From our interview with Kat de Blois:

All day long, at certain magical times, special events will happen in both parks. For instance, if you’re passing by Star Traders in Discoveryland, you’ll be able to see Stitch jumping in with his ship and his Star-Trek-like dancers to invite you to the dance. The party will be everywhere!

Everywhere the Party may be, but it will still have its limits. In fact, as the latest official texts released by Disneyland Resort Paris announce, this new dance-along show will only be performed from 4th April to 8th November 2009.

“A new entertainment experience, It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland (Disneyland Park) will be held 5 days a week several times, from April 4th till November 8th 2009…”

After Sunday, 8th November 2009, the cold weather will likely make the prospect of Dance Time, outside in Discoveryland, less attractive, and the extra entertainments of Christmas season will command more of the Entertainment budget. The quote above raises another query about the show, though — will it be five days a week, or seven?

It was recently clarified that the recent “cancellation” of The Tarzan Encounter (the show will now return for July and August only) was apparently actually down to a plain budget cut, rather than extra resources being required for these Mickey’s Magical Party shows, with the promotion of It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland to 7-days-a-week performances then merely filling a gap in the show schedules.

The press release quoted above stating “5-days-a-week” was published just this week, but could itself be out-of-date with this development in the time taken to pass through the resort’s departments. Watch this space…

• Read the full Mickey’s Magical Party interview with Kat de Blois here!
• Discover our updated guide to the new attraction here.

Photos as credited.

Saturday, 28th February 2009

Breakdance battle of Mickey Mouse, aged 80

Despite his disadvantages, Mickey Mouse stormed to victory when a guest challenged him to a breakdance battle in Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Resort Paris recently. Don’t believe us? The evidence is online for all to see!

Take a look:

Amazing skills for an 80-year old mouse in smart dress, right?

Now, it goes without saying this kind of thing doesn’t happen every day at Disneyland Park. In fact, it’s probably the first time Mickey Mouse has ever danced like this in his long life — but it’s all for a good cause. The video isn’t shot by chance by an amateur, and the battle wasn’t started by accident.

This bizarre display you’ve just seen is actually a viral video produced by (or for) Disneyland Resort Paris themselves, a video created with the intention of it causing a stir on websites like YouTube and ultimately providing the resort with inadvertent advertising and word of mouth without people feeling like they’re watching a marketing creation.

So far, it seems to be a big success — the video has already had over 20,000 hits in just two days! As a concept it is also far stronger than the resort’s previous attempt at viral marketing, which saw a dog elongated by stepping into The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, since it links in well with the strong theme of dance throughout the Mickey’s Magical Party events.

Just don’t expect to see the Mouse giving this kind of display on your next visit…

Wednesday, 25th February 2009

Mickey’s Magical Party TV spot premieres!

It seems like this final week in February has become an annual time to see the latest marketing campaigns and TV commercials of Disneyland Resort Paris being premiered. Exactly one year ago today, we saw The Celebration Continues… Big Time! unwrapped on our TV screens, whilst two years ago, the ever-beautiful advertisements for the 15th Anniversary itself unravelled.

This year, the TV spot is… floating onto our screens, naturally filled with hundreds upon hundreds of colourful balloons to advertise Mickey’s Magical Party.

The lively spot begins with a stunning shot of balloons flying above the clouds, mountains in the background, with a strong yellow tint. As the second shot appears, of balloons flying around the side of a bushy, clearly sun-drenched hill toward a noticeably distant city from most of North West Europe, it looks like those balloons have reached further than any of us could have predicted…

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

Indeed, to film this new commercial, production was taken all the way to… South Africa! According to admin Kristof on magicforum, even the It’s Dance Time DJ podium and a replica of one corner of the new Central Plaza stage were taken, along with all the characters and costumes you see, to then only be filmed in front of green-screen with the real Disneyland Resort Paris backdrops inserted later!

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

This practice isn’t uncommon though, as member experiment627 adds, “a lot of commercials are being shot in South Africa, for there are landscapes that resemble Europe quite a bit and you pretty much got sun and blue skies most of the year.”

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

As the balloons reach the city streets, one bumps right into a young boy running home from school.

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

He grabs hold of it, pulls the invitation from its string…

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

And opens up the envelope to reveal a Mickey shape and the Mickey’s Magical Party logo.

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

Miraculously, he’s then transported immediately to Disneyland Resort Paris!

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

The voiceover of the TV spot is different again to previous years, with a clearer and more placid voice beginning “This year, it’s Mickey’s Magical Party, and Disneyland is expecting an extraordinary hero… you!”.

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

“Discover DJ Stitch’s first fantastic show,” he continues, as shots of the new Dance Time podium and its blue and pink-dressed cast in front of Space Mountain play, with several other guests dancing on the multi-coloured dance mats.

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

“…The new attraction, Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!,” continues the announcer, with shots of the Playhouse Disney puppets…

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

…the young boy laughing along, and a full depication of the stage (though likely not the real thing), as if set up for the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse scene…

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

The advert reaches its conclusion as another balloon sweeps across the screen to reveal a lively Mickey Mouse running across the new Central Plaza stage — another green-screen creation.

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

The voiceover adds “…and Mickey and friends’ exciting new show, and many more surprises”.

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

Here we see Mickey and Goofy dancing on a recreation of the stage, with brightly-dressed dancers behind, mostly in white and red colours, with the men wearing orange shirts.

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

Notice also that the Castle has been touched-up with its recently-revealed overlay of new decorations. Here, though, the “Mickey & Friends” plaque covering the main window appears to match its oval shape, rather than the uncomfortable circle seen in the concept.

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

Mickey shows us some moves, then we suddenly cut to the generic Disney Parks endboard…

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

As with the commercials of the previous two years, it seems Disneyland Resort Paris are required to use this generic branding to end their TV advertisements, featuring a bizarre mélange of all the Disney castles but now with added ballons.

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

The endboard is clear and the colours do work well with the red of Mickey’s Magical Party, but the overall effect is probably slightly jarring to the viewer, being so different to the footage just seen — and featuring a Castle that, as anyone knows, doesn’t exist anywhere — especially not Disneyland Resort Paris.

Mickey's Magical Party TV advert commercial

Please, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, can’t we have the real Castle for each resort?

Click here to watch the full advert.

It’s a lively, colourful, sunny and very well-produced TV spot, though, and it’s certainly brilliant to see real Disneyland Resort Paris locations used for once, if only via green-screen. You’ll probably notice two large elements of the party are entirely absent, however. Well, one major element and one not-so-major: Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars and Minnie’s Party Train.

To skip the Party Train is obviously no surprise, but many fans would agree they’d have expected to see something of the Studios’ large new parade event in the TV spot. Looks like the resort’s old fear, of mentioning the existance of Walt Disney Studios Park in a TV commercial, lives on…!

The TV spot is playing now in the UK, international versions will appear from next month.

Screencaps © Disney.

Wednesday, 25th February 2009

Stitch’s DJ podium revealed, but where will it roll out?

What’s more surprising — that, for once, a Disneyland Resort Paris television commercial features the actual locations and landmarks of the Parisian park, not Florida or California’s, or that, to achieve such a visual, the production crew apparently headed all the way to South Africa, taking those kitsch costumes and Stitch’s brand new DJ podium with them?

It's Dance Time... in Discoveryland

Still, with a spot of green-screen special effects, you’d never know, and the sun is almost guaranteed… unlike Paris. And so, here it is — the large, colourful, apparently jet-powered podium which will roll into Discoveryland for the new show It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland, Stitch standing atop scratching up the dance tracks on a set of mixing decks.

It's Dance Time... in Discoveryland

The podium is like a small parade float in its construction, expected not to remain in Discoveryland all day long but to only roll into the land specifically for each show time, similar to the High School Musical shows at Walt Disney Studios Park.

You’ll notice those circular shapes with different coloured quarters all over it, too — as mentioned in several previous articles, guests will be invited to step onto the circular dance mats shown above and follow the colour-coded dance steps. Quite how these will be announced to a multi-lingual audience remains to be seen, but the bright primary colours certainly won’t be easily missed amongst the bronze and turquoise tones of Discoveryland.

So, has the new advert revealed the location of the show, too? Almost certainly not — well, not unless the Entertainment department are planning to bring complete chaos to the land by blocking a main thoroughfare and the entrance to Space Mountain: Mission 2. It’s likely this location was simply chosen because it looks so good on camera.

Will it go over by Star Tours as rumoured then? Don’t be too sure of that either — the fences were taken down just this weekend to reveal…

It's Dance Time... in Discoveryland

…a relayed floor. Brighter, no longer full of holes — yes. But no clues whatsoever that this is where the show will be presented. Keep watching this space (and preparing your dance moves), Stitch fans…

Screencaps © Disney; Photo © Disneytheque.com.

Sunday, 22nd February 2009

Stitch meets kitsch in Discoveryland film shoot

Is this an advance preview of what we can expect when It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland premieres on 4th April 2009? This week, several fans spotted a film shoot taking place just outside Videopolis in the land, looking very likely to be a TV spot or trailer for Mickey’s Magical Party.

Featuring Stitch, two children and a group of dancers, the filming last Tuesday, 17th February saw the group dancing to the cameras as a crowd of regular park guests watched, caught on camera by DisneyGazette:

Stitch film shoot

Stitch film shoot

Stitch wore an orange baseball cap, whilst the dancers appeared in some wonderfully kitsch new pink and blue costumes we’ve not yet seen before — the final costumes for ‘It’s Dance Time’, perhaps? Well, space-age chic is certainly more fitting for the location than the hip-hop street style we might have expected…

Stitch film shoot

Stitch film shoot

That this filming in Paris will become the final TV advertisement can’t be guaranteed yet, however — the two commercials for the 15th Anniversary and The Celebration Continues were both filmed in the USA and produced by the same team as Walt Disney World’s TV spots. Filming did take place in Paris just over a year ago, but only became the rather poor “Happy Day” trailer we saw on a few Disney DVDs.

Even more interesting, though, is the review of events on the Mousekingdom Blog, which actually does link in well with this being a TV spot for the new celebration — and its theme of invitations arriving by balloon.

Stitch film shoot
Photo: Mousekingdom Blog

“In a first scene one can see the children, a young girl and boy, attached with ropes on a metal pole,” Mousekingdom writes. “Two crew members would lift the pole up, leaving the two children hoovering above the street. Once the word “action” came from the director the crew moves forward putting the children down, back on their feet.”

So, can we expect that, rather than the animated red carpet knocking on children’s doors to invite them to Disneyland, the children will this year be flying directly into the park using those colourful balloons we’ve seen everywhere, landing perfectly at each of the new events?

Well, that’s one way to enjoy “Kids Go Free”.

Photos as credited.

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