The final chapter of this fairytale was that striking new azure roof above the main picture window, both a striking contrast from the previous faded yellow gradient and the more understated (you might say authentic) colouring of opening day in 1992, which this new colour scheme otherwise more closely replicates. Whilst in 1992 the Imagineers were keen to give the illusion the castle had been sitting there for hundreds of years just like every other château in France, the look that will see in the 20th Anniversary is one more of bright, youthful vigour.
Now if the vines on that balcony could just get their flowers back, to close this book for good…
What’s the best thing to do in Paris during Summer? Why, visit the beach of course! That’s Paris Plages, now an annual Summer tradition as familiar as being stuck in a sweaty Métro carriage with someone blasting accordion music over a cassette player. For one month, stretches of the River Seine in the heart of the city are transformed into artificial beaches for everyone to enjoy, with sporting events, sun loungers and more. This year, even Disneyland Paris has got involved, bringing along a mighty bucket and spade to build a giant sand sculpture of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant! The unique “sand castle” was inaugurated with a special ceremony starring Mickey and Minnie Mouse themselves, dressed in colourful Hawaiian designs, to the music of the old Lilo & Stitch Catch the Wave Party show.
The 16-foot sculpture, which took 300 hours to build using 60 tons of natural sand, will be on display until 21st August. You’ll find it right at the heart of Paris Plages, next to the Pont Notre-Dame just off Voie Georges Pompidou and only a short walk from Châtelet-les-Halles station, which is on the RER A line from Disneyland (Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy) itself.
This is our second giant sand castle of the year, after the one at the huge Sand Sculpture Festival at Blankenberge in Belgium. Both sand-related events have made it onto the Disney Parks Blog, which we gladly notice has recently started to share more news from Paris. In their article about the superior Blankenberge event, they linked to a fantastic online virtual tour set up by the organisers, which lets you explore the entire exhibition of Disney sand sculptures without ever leaving your house. Which, considering the “Summer” weather a lot of us have had so far, is very welcome indeed.
2011 Refurbishments — How do you say “stunning” in French? The restoration of Sleeping Beauty Castle still has a month or so to go yet, but this is already a glorious summer for the Disneyland Park landmark. Having been lifted off to be restored and re-covered in gold leaf backstage, the morning of Tuesday, 12th July saw the first, lower, golden tower spotted back in place with the second following just 24 hours later. For the first time since the refurbishment of 1998 took away their full shimmer in favour of a dull blue gradient, these two unique, slender towers are making Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant shine in the Summer sun.
There’s been huge progress since our last full update on the project, with all scaffolding around the castle now completely removed just in time for the busy Summer season. That means completion of the moat, castle walls, the walkways to the right of the drawbridge and the two wings which wrap around the Castle Courtyard, connecting onto the two boutiques either side. Even the wishing well and its bridge have reopened, after months of closure. Almost all the rooftops have their new blue palette, meaning the most visible change yet to happen is the rooftop above the main window, still retaining its tired yellow gradient. As shown in the concepts for the restoration, this will eventually match the roof of the tallest tower, returning to its original blue colour, with gold reserved only for the edging.
Another big piece of the project was completed just a week ago, when scaffolding came down from the rear balcony and roof of the Gallerie walkthrough on the mezzanine level within the castle. You can compare the minor changes here with an older photo, but the main difference is simply a much cleaner, fresher appearance with crisp paint colours and a renewed copper-coloured rooftop. Fans of the beautiful stained glass windows and tapestries within will be pleased to know the balcony walkthrough itself has at last re-opened as a result.
At night, as in day, it really pops. It glistens like we’re back in 1992 all over again, so striking it makes your heart leap. It’s easy to forget how long we waited and wished for this to happen — for the grubby paintwork, patchy towers and faded walls to be brought back to their medieval splendor. The Summer of 2011: when this Sleeping Beauty, the most beautiful Disney castle in the world, woke up.
Yeah sure, John. During his European publicity tour for Cars 2, which included hosting a special showing of the film for fans in Paris, John Lasseter also dropped into Disneyland Park on Wednesday. Stopping for this photo at around 2pm with the 2011-12 Disneyland Paris Ambassadors Régis Alart and Osvaldo del Mistero, Pixar’s creative chief had the pleasure of seeing Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant nearing the end of its lengthy restoration, complete with newly-returned golden spires.
That’s How You Know it’s summer! Since 2008 summer nights at Disneyland Park have ended with the popular finale of The Enchanted Fireworks, a modestly Disneyland Paris-sized firework show set to Alan Menken’s score for the Amy Adams fairytale blockbuster. But, when the final “bang” echoes over the fields of Marne-la-Vallée at the end of this (newly extended) summer on 4th September… that really is “The End” for this chapter in the park’s nighttime entertainment history. It has been confirmed that this is the final season for the spectacular, with not just a new fireworks show but a “new concept”, a big new concept, coming next year — we think you know the one.
So, as the sun sets and the day cools down, enjoy True Love’s Kiss and the Enchanted Suite coming to life in the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle for one last time. The show returned on Saturday and, as you can see at the end of the video, is determined to see its final year out with an extra bang!
2011 Refurbishments — As we approach the summer at full speed, the fruits of the busiest refurbishment period in the history of Disneyland Paris are gradually being revealed. One of the biggest is Le Theatre du Château, which was the subject of much interest earlier in the year as its sea of stone benches gradually disappeared and the whole area went behind walls. Now reopened to guests and parade traffic, the stage area looks as good as new, completely repaved with top quality stones and given back a scattering of its benches. The walls of the raised stage itself, with the same palette as Sleeping Beauty Castle, have been completely repainted to match the fresher colours of Le Château just across the moat. As seen in the photo above by Disney Gazette, extra spaces have even been reserved for new trees to provide more shade for the benches (now indeed safely spaced out to prevent kids jumping between them, an apparent health and safety issue we barely believed back in February).
During the 2011 Refurbishments presentation given back in March, we got the chance to walk behind the walls with Peggie Fariss and catch a final “before” glimpse of the cleared stage area. Compared to the old, circular-patterned paving and concrete areas between, the new block paving adds a much warmer feel to the space and is designed less around the placement of the benches.
Peggie also gave us a hint at the future prospects for the stage — or at least confirmed it won’t be going anywhere — stating clearly that, from the viewpoint of Walt Disney Imagineering, it “still represents an opportunity” and as such should be safeguarded. That word — opportunity — was exactly the one we had used to describe the space a month earlier. There seems to be some disconnect between Imagineering and Entertainment as to just how good a prospect it represents, though, so it might be some time yet before we ever see this as anything but an opportunity wasted.
That’s not to say you can’t watch a show here, though. If this year’s Disney Dance Express is your thing (and particularly if it’s not), you’ll be glad to know that the rolling street show now stops at its intended spot right here for its main performance, skipping past the busy Central Plaza location it had been forced to clog up since April. Characters Photos Blog posted a video of the relocated show stop on Facebook, showing the Dance Express performing on the parade route right in front of the stage behind them. There’s likely something psychological about a “stage” show as opposed to a street show like this, meaning the audience expects much more — story, sets, costumes. Even the Central Plaza shows such as Mickey’s Magical Celebration get around these extra expenses by using the castle as a backdrop.
Perhaps someday the money will be there again to take a step up onto this stage; or the desire to move away from that disruptive monolith blocking Central Plaza. Purpose-built, perfectly positioned and now recently refurbished. The opportunity is, and always has been, there.
See anything unusual in the skies over Disneyland Paris last weekend? Not a flying elephant or a projectile to the moon, but the Patrouille de France — the French air force display team — who performed a spectacular fly-by of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant for the very first time, filling the sky over Main Street, U.S.A. with the blue, white and red of the Tricolore. The stunning sight was all part of a charitable event known as “Journées Soif de Vivre”, literally “Thirst for life days”, which saw 160 children with serious or rare illnesses invited to Disneyland Paris for three days of unforgettable experiences and surprises. From balloon rides to Mickey Mouse meet ‘n’ greets, a special performance of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and an exclusive preview screening of Cars 2, the children had three days of pure escapism. You can find out more about the event on the resort’s corporate website (PDF) or see a quick video of the flyover here.
Some of the most impressive sculptures are housed inside a giant temporary marquee, such as City Hall, Walt’s restaurant and Main Street Motors; all stunningly detailed recreations that you can walk right up to. The jail scene from Pirates of Caribbean is recreated with a wonderful likeness for the key-carrying canine — and even an early appearance from Jack Sparrow!
Beyond the resort landmarks, there are numerous lifelike character sculptures from Snow White to Tangled and almost every film in-between, with a special section for Pixar characters. A short “making of” film on the festival’s website gives a look at the work that went into the project. Our friends at Photos Magiques donated more than 400 Disneyland Paris pictures to help the sculptors refine their works. Head over to their Facebook page to see the full gallery of the finished exhibition from Friday’s special launch event… and don’t make any sudden movements!
For all the worry over Sleeping Beauty Castle being covered by scaffolding for its complete restoration, it all seems to have been over in a moment. Visitors have watched over the past couple of weeks as first the decorative scrim was taken down then, after a short delay, all of the scaffolding covering the front of the castle came down. While the scaffolding at the back, in the Castle Courtyard, has risen to new heights, the section covering the north easterly wing of le château, on its right-hand side, is now almost all gone. So, what does all this disappearing refurbishment detritus reveal? Well, a Disney park landmark still in transition… almost returned to its full beauty.
Whilst the five new shades of pink have now become very clear, the brickwork a crisp new palette of pastels and clean ivory white, there are many remnants of the previous 1998 repaint remaining. The rooftop above the main window still has its grimy yellow gradient effect, the two golden spires have yet to return with their renewed shimmer and work continues on giving the previously blue/green turret roofs a stronger blue colour. Previously, we’d seen the rooftops painted in a solid, dark blue. This has now been softened with two additional shades on top, to give the same scattered pattern as before, although it’s still clear to see which rooftops have been given the new look against those which haven’t.
Progress has continued this week with the removal of all the scaffolding on the castle’s north easterly wing, revealing a truly gleaming façade behind. On Twitter, @InsideDLParis has been charting the work and captured the photo below which really shows what a fresh coat of paint does for details:
Following a much-needed clean and repaint, the waterfall on the other side of the castle was also been turned back on yesterday. There’s still much to do before the restoration is finally completed this August, but this will mostly consist of smaller-scale works and final touches done using moveable cranes and lifts. Rooftops to be completed at night and paint colours to be finished up in the daytime. And then, at long last, this Sleeping Beauty won’t be dormant any longer.
Friday might have been a big day for royalty in the United Kingdom, but across the channel it’s been a big week for the royal palace of Marne-la-Vallée. The complete refurbishment of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant rolls on at impressive pace, now seeing the first bold blue turrets unveiled following brief spells capped in white primer “snow”. When Peggie Fariss told us during last month’s refurbishments presentation (which we will conclude writing up this week!) that the previously blue-green turrets would see their blue “brought out much more”, that wasn’t an understatement. The photo above by Chouket on Disney Central Plaza gives a good overview of the change, with a half-done blue turret up front contrasted with several older, greener rooftops behind. This proves that whilst it was an easy way to headline the new colour scheme as “returning to the 1992 look”, that’s not the full story. The colours of 2011 will certainly be much closer to 1992 than the second 1998 era now being concluded, but they are really a completely new scheme, a brave new third era for the landmark.
While some turrets have gone blue, two have gone completely missing. They didn’t hop on Eurotunnel for the Royal Wedding — they’re the two thinnest towers (decorated with snails) which are due to regain their original gold leaf colouring, and the easiest way to do that is to simply pop them off and do it at ground level somewhere backstage. At the same time, this very Saturday saw the unveiling of the castle’s tallest rooftop, looking simply stunning in its new solid blue with gold accents:
The first photo above was tweeted by @InsideDLParis just last Wednesday 27th April, whilst the second is from Saturday 30th, showing the remarkable speed that the castle is being given its new colours. From a white primer base coat, the roof now already has its final solid blue and another two rooftops to the right have swiftly turned white to continue the transformation overnight. No doubt you notice another big change, too — the removal of the decorative scrim! The whole tarp covering the front of the castle was removed this week to reveal what looks to be a practically complete façade behind. Edges and details are now a crisper ivory white, whilst the stonework has a bluer palette, richer again than the drab grey it had become and contrasting perfectly with the castle’s five new shades of pink.
Whilst the tarp has been removed, the scaffolding stays in place for now. We were told at the presentation that finishing touches to paint colours would require work in clear daylight, to ensure the right look is achieved, as well as that scaffolding would begin to disappear “by June”. Perhaps this front section will be taken down imminently before that date, but it’s not a given.
Meanwhile, don’t think this restoration is all about turrets and towers — one popular landmark has just been given a much-deserved makeover. Nicknamed “Fungus Falls” for far too long, there’s not a spot of green dirt in sight at the castle’s thundering waterfall now, turned off and completely cleaned up with fresh paint! Take a particularly close look at those three stone columns between the railings in the foreground — the one nearest the camera hasn’t been repainted yet on one side, giving a good idea of this dramatic “before and after”. The entire project is set to be complete by the end of August.
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