Time stands still in Never Land, and for a good few years the same applied to our dear Château. But as a major refurbishment project approaches, the oversized golden Tinkerbell, which has sat atop the castle’s highest tower since the launch of the 15th Anniversary in April 2007, has finally flown away for good! Originally part of a collection of golden characters, holding between them 15 flickering LED candles, Tinkerbell was kept on after the two anniversary years as part of the unpopular Mickey’s Magical Party overlay. Even as we rejoiced that the castle returned to some normality last year, she hung on; the park still utilising her confetti effect for various shows and events.
It was actually before the 15th Anniversary that many fans began to hope for a refurbishment of the castle. Though the opportunity of that landmark (and each successive festival) passed, it’s now confirmed that this will be the year for a reawakening. Dates were provisionally set for works from October 2010 to July this year, but that has now been pushed back to a March 2011 start with an end sometime in September. No word yet on just how disruptive this refurbishment will be for views of the icon — a scaffolding rig (with a themed overlay) will be likely at some point, but whether it would cover just a potion of the castle at once or the whole thing is unknown.
From afar the castle certainly looks clean and pretty enough, but up close turrets can be seen dirty, roofs discoloured, paint peeling… and many fans wish for a return to its original paintwork, which had an earthier, more historic look, with more shading and a more organic pink colour.
Fret over getting that perfect picture in front of Le Château no more — the bridge has reopened after a major two month rebuilding project, looking cleaned to fairytale perfection:
So clean, so crisp, in fact, that the castle behind looks even grubbier than it did before.
The project apparently included the complete rewiring of all the lights along the bridge, and as the scaffolding disappeared a couple of weeks ago now, the main window of the castle even had a nice surprise for us.
As if just being able to see it again after three years wasn’t good enough, the light behind its stained-glass design appears to have been tweaked to give a brighter, more even illumination, bringing out the beautiful colours right throughout the day. A big improvement on the patchy single spotlight before.
Back in Main Street U.S.A., Town Square Photography now has its decorative refurbishment overlay in place:
We’re already a month into this work, and there’s still a long time to go. The refurbishment of Town Square Photography is set to be completed on 2nd July, whilst the smaller Disney Clothiers, Ltd. restoration just along the street, which had almost a month head start, will be done by 18th June 2010.
Over in Fantasyland, this could be bad timing to catch those visitors whose interest has been reawakened by Tim Burton’s 3-D adaptation, but Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups is currently closed from 6th to 23rd April for a much-needed full refurbishment.
Work should include repainting or resurfacing the turntable, which has been lacking its original bright colours for years, as well as cleaning the roof, repainting and replacing the lights and lanterns, along with other maintenance. The work was originally announced by Disneyland Paris to end on 2nd April, so this appears to have been pushed back.
Not strictly a refurbishment, since this is potentially something we’ll never seen returned — the Rainforest Cafe signage on the side of the building, next to where the brand new Earl of Sandwich counter service restaurant is due to be built, has disappeared:
After the concept art was published last year, temporary construction walls surrounded this railing a couple of months ago for a few days — only to suddenly disappear again. When construction does finally begin, there will need to be some serious infilling of this area of the lagoon, along with deconstruction of some of the rockwork seen above.
And finally… A real delight that has returned, after a lengthy absence, the Main Street Station organ:
Not only does it look all freshly-polished, the organ (via recorded sound effects) once again greets each arriving Disneyland Railroad train as it steams through the station, bringing back a missing piece of the Main Street’s original turn-of-the-century atmosphere.
Photos by Photos Magiques (more), Dlrpteam as credited.
These days it only happens at Halloween and Christmas, but there was a point in the recent past, around the time of The Lion King Carnival and similar events, when it seemed Main Street Station was never without decorations.
But, those seasonal logos have made a comeback. As spotted in a behind-the-scenes video, concepts prepared by the Entertainment department called for a return to Main Street Station decorations — although we couldn’t quite get a good look at them. Last week, they began to appear.
First with a new idea, at least for seasonal decorations at Disneyland Paris: Ruffled semi-circular fabric bunting in red and yellow, a common way Main Street is decorated for Halloween in the overseas parks — where there’s no orange paint in sight — and a welcome idea for Paris.
And then, the old tradition: A large logo plaque and sculpted character models.
Models that are, it’s been noted… a little off-model. The tacked-on Mickey is oversized compared to his new friends, and we’d better be careful what we say about that Woody and his eyes… there must be something in the s’mores at Cowboy Camp!
So far (perhaps there’s more to come?) there are only additional characters to the left of the main logo, with Tiana and Frog standing in front of one window and Remy in front of the other.
As we saw in the concept art, the Baroque style of the logo frame is continued through the new Main Street lamppost decorations, although the colour scheme seems to have become darker and less symmetrical.
The final colours of the ribbons under each frame are blue, yellow, red, green and purple, rather than the fresher pattern of purple, white, yellow, green, yellow, white and pink promised…
Still, we can probably all agree this is how Main Street should be decorated. A big, big improvement on the mess last year; at last a reasonably subtle way to extend the year’s theme and bring the current advertising campaign into the parks.
Perhaps, then, it simply fell to Main Street Station to be this year’s sacrificial piece of Disneyland Park for the less successful decorations, now that the castle is finally off-limits. At least, better to have Woody frightening children there than from somewhere on our dear château!
The big news of course is that Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, our beautiful castle, has finally lost itsMickey’s Magical Party overlay. Once again we can enjoy its golden spires and centrepiece window with not a single set of Mickey ears on its magnificent medieval façade.
It’s not a complete return to glory, however — look closer and the iconic building is close to worn-out. Its stone features covered in spots of dirt, roof tiles uneven and out of place and two large holes now visible either side of the main window, where the Magical Party centrepiece was fixed in place.
Above that, the roof has some light patches, like its paintwork has been scuffed or scratched by something.
The balcony to the left still has too few plants draped over it, and let’s not even check elsewhere. Stand on the rear balcony of La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant next time you visit and take a look upwards — this castle needs attention soon. We’ve been saying “before the 15th…”, “before MMP…”, “before the New Generation Festival…” every year now. So… before the 20th Anniversary?
There is also one omission from this decorations cull — Tinkerbell, and her spiralling trail which circles the tallest tower. Originally part of the 15th Anniversary overlay, she held on for Mickey’s Magical Party, continuing to provide confetti blasts from her wand for certain events. Now the lone remnant of these celebrations, she towers over the huge structure like a dainty fairy really ought not to, the confetti pipe looking like some poorly-integrated plumbing for Sleeping Beauty’s new ensuite bathroom.
With the Mickey ears now consigned to history for more than a week, the chances of the same installation crew coming back to pick up this one decoration is beginning to seem unlikely. We’ve heard that even departments within Disneyland Paris don’t know what’s going on with her. Can’t someone step in and scrap the fairy once and for all?
Any Tink supporters should perhaps remember that she’s already present and correct — and much more pleasantly sized — atop the Disneyland Hotel:
But for now, back to the positives — and another big one is Main Street also returning (almost) to normal. The refurbishments of the Disney Clothiers, Ltd. and Town Square Photography façades continue, but now there’s something — or several things — missing from the view…
No giant lampposts! Without those towering white columns and their enormous, identical banners, Main Street has been opened up. The buildings aren’t hidden away but clear to see and yes, correctly sized. Welcome back to the turn of the 20th Century!
It’d be interesting, in fact, to see if footfall in the various shops might increase with the removal of the banners, which were overpowering enough to just funnel guests straight down the street as quickly as possible, without looking left or right, all building façades hidden until you were stood right up in front of them. Now, that visual interest in every millimetre of the street is visible again, ready to pull guests to one side… and get them to open their wallets.
Another disappearing act has been pulled by the illuminated Mickey’s Magical Party decoration which sat above the side doorway of The Emporium. Before that, we had Lumière bursting out of the building for the 15th Anniversary… so how long until Buzz Lightyear or Slinky Dog shows up for the New Generation?
Here again, the removal unfortunately shows up some less-than-perfect paintwork behind.
And the removals continue, back into Town Square! Let’s compare this photo, from last Summer:
With this view from earlier this week:
Besides the elevation, weather and other seasonal changes, can you spot the difference? Yes, the trees on Town Square have magically shrunk! Previously reaching well above the rooftops of The Emporium and Town Square Photography (even from that elevated viewpoint on the railroad station), they now suddenly stand only just as high.
This is about as “Disneyland” an idea as you can get — when the trees get too big for the forced perspective of the buildings around them, replace them! The old maturing trees were removed last week (replanted elsewhere in the resort), leaving Town Square with an odd few days of just temporary grass coverings, to be gradually replaced with these younger, smaller trees.
If you’ve followed Disneyland Paris news for many years, you might remember the same happening to all the trees along Main Street itself in the first half of the last decade, when they were again replaced with smaller trees more in line with their quaint (and we have to remember, at the turn of the 20th Century — recently built) surroundings.
At the same time, the first flowers of Spring have arrived!
And the real shocker is, they’re not for the lampposts you might be thinking of.
Yes, unbelievably, these stills from a backstage video looking at the New Generation Festival, beginning 2nd April, show small character placards attached to the regular, human-sized Main Street gas lanterns.
Both classic and ‘New Generation’ characters are shown within an ornate frame, integrated into the lamppost with a colourful ribbon, in yellow, green, pink and purple, leading down to a gold ring.
This style of decoration, actually integrating things into the original park rather than throwing them on top, is often used at the American and Japanese Disney resorts. Disneyland in California and Florida’s Magic Kingdom in particular have recently had several different styles of gas lantern decorations for their continuous Dreams/Celebrate campaigns.
The only bad thing, perhaps, is that the concept images laid out on the table here also show a rather large New Generation Festival covering on Main Street Station. Well, old habits die hard.
For the past 3 years, we’ve never seen Main Street without those oversized white lampposts which held giant 15th Anniversary banners. Originally designed as LED-lit “chandeliers” for the Christmas season, they were modified for the birthday events in 2007 and have stuck on ever since.
Since Main Street is designed using forced perspective tricks, where successive storeys of buildings are sized smaller, these oversized banner poles look completely out of place with the quaint world around them, reaching as high as the street’s (fake) third story with the banners bigger than doorways.
After all 26 towering poles were given identical Mickey’s Magical Party banners in March last year, there was suddenly an overnight cull as all but 8 were removed, opening up Main Street. If the rather more subtle decorations in these screenshots make it to the final cut, the giant white lampposts should be gone for good, if they aren’t already…
There’s been no time wasted in removing the decorations from Sleeping Beauty Castle this week as Mickey’s Magical Party came to an end. Twitter and magicforum user ElenaSearle posted two pictures a lot of people have waited months (or perhaps, with the 15th decorations, years) to see. The first, posted yesterday, shows the main ‘MMP’ emblem removed:
Whilst the second shows the remainder of the twisted Mickey-shaped spires removed and replaced with the gold leaf originals:
If there’s one good thing to come of this, it’s that we’re reminded all over again just how beautiful this castle really is. Now all that remains is for oversized Tinkerbell fly, fly away, as well…
As you enter Disneyland Park right now, the view along Main Street USA is a scene of change — the banners and castle decorations of Mickey’s Magical Party finally in their last days after a year of ruining photos, and there on the right, two buildings enjoying a full refurbishment.
The first to be wrapped in scaffolding was Disney Clothiers, Ltd.back in mid-February. Since then, the white tarpaulin covering has been given a very smart dressing-up to resemble the hidden façade itself, on all three sides.
This has become a trend for all Main Street refurbishments in recent years and is a real sign of Disney-quality operations alive and well. The covered Disney Clothiers has even had its entrance widened to full width and false windows put in either side of the scaffolding!
Backing up a little, the big news on the street is Town Square Photography being given the exact same treatment. The famous Kodak-sponsored photography store is currently hidden behind a refurbishment covering for much of its exterior — only the blue “photographic studio” section next to Discovery Arcade on the left remains uncovered.
This is noticeably more ramshackle in appearance than the slick refurb covering next door, but it’s likely we’ll soon be seeing a similar fake Town Square Photography façade unravelled soon enough.
With no flowers yet in bloom, there are still plenty of changes yet to come for Main Street before the “New Generation” lands… as always, March is going to be a busy month.
Changes outside don’t appear to have stretched above ground level this time, though the refurbishment did see all the queue line walls and barriers repainted in their original light green. Inside, all effects and lighting were fully freshened-up.
Over in Adventureland, a project begun last year has finally restarted — replacing the rough jungle terrain in numerous parts of the land. In recent years, the concrete paths have become almost as perilous as tackling the suspension bridge with a gang of schoolchildren, littered with holes and cracks…
Last year large areas of Discoveryland’s floor were replaced, including around Star Tours and entire area between Space Mountain and Orbitron. Some work was done here in Adventureland, near the Frontierland border, and it appears an even larger job is now ongoing, resurfacing the area front of Restaurant Hakuna Matata and therefore closing this important thoroughfare to Adventureland Bazaar.
Hopefully the area you see above, outside the fences, along with countless other places around the resort will be given the same treatment — this needs to be a rolling project given the state of many pathways.
Since the entire path here is closed, so too is Restaurant Hakuna Matata itself (not a rare event, in truth), with signs pointing across to Au Chalet de la Marionnette in Fantasyland — although you might just be better doing a u-turn and going to Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost, unless that’s also closed…
And finally, the date many people have been waiting for: Friday, 19th March 2010. That’s the date when the Castle bridge refurbishment is scheduled to end, finally reopening the main route into the front of the Castle after a major two-month project to partly rebuild and rewire it. It’ll miss St Patrick’s Day, but still — only two weeks to go…
Now an annual tradition in this era of theme years, March is when everything changes.
Starting on Main Street, U.S.A., Photos Magiques were keen-eyed enough to spot the disappearance of the balcony railing around the top of Disney Clothiers, Ltd. in their latest update:
Just a week later, and the building is fully encased in scaffolding and tarpaulin wraps for a complete exterior refurbishment:
Access to the boutique is still available through gaps in the construction walls below and from Main Street Motors and Boardwalk Candy Palace either side.
At the end of Main Street, the big project of the moment is hard to miss:
While the stone (or rather, concrete) bridge across to Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant continues its extensive reconstruction, the giant waterfall (Fungus Falls) and the waterways surrounding it have been turned off and, on the left of the moat area, had their perimeter dug up.
Taking a peek through the construction walls, the following photo appears to show the first section of the bridge’s walls have now been completely removed, matching reports that the bridge would be partly rebuilt. Previously, they lined up perfectly with the end of the green railings, curving up to the bridge itself. Now, nothing but a gap…
Since postings on various forums suggest some visitors have been told the Castle is “closed” it’s worth stating again that it most certainly isn’t. Following the smart “By Royal Decree” signs on the construction walls, you can still access the inside of Sleeping Beauty Castle, its two boutiques and first-floor gallery.
A great (and equally spectacular) way to enter the Castle during the work its via the Dragon’s lair to the left of the bridge — spot the path leading to it in the very first photo above.
Though all this time later, the ‘Walt Disney Television Studios’ lettering which used to span the front canopy has yet to reappear. And who can fail to notice, the colourful Art Deco/Streamline Moderne satellite dish mural on the building’s corner was hastily painted right over with a solid teal…
Unfortunately the same impulsive attitude hasn’t yet been applied to Disney Studio 1, which remains covered by scaffolding around 583 days since the refurbishment covering was put up and approximately 1656 days since that first Chicken Little billboard rose up in 2005.
Pictures by Dlrpteam, Photos Magiques (more) and DLRP Today.
With major modifications in recent years such as the “air gates” in the loading area, the work this year is focusing on pure refurbishment. On the outside, general repainting and restoring details in the queue area.
The attraction reopens, all freshened up next Saturday, 6th February.
And when will that be? Still no date, sorry. But we do have a few new details since the last report. Though not being completely replaced as some rumours suggested, the bridge will see indeed a part of its structure replaced, along with extensive works to rewire and upgrade its lighting.
So, it could well be another month or more. And when the scaffolding comes down, it’ll look fresh and new but not any different — the original plans are being strictly stuck to.
For many of us, in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, this is the week. In just a few short days, we get to see a brand new, traditionally-animated Disney musical on the big screen. At one time, that would have been unthinkable. It’s almost too much to bear.
And, for those lucky enough to follow that up with a trip to Disneyland Paris from April onwards, they’ll also get to see the film’s modern-thinking heroine in person. To tease us for that event, another new photo has been released of the star peering from the Castle balcony, just as she does in the film…
In this fascinating insight — which, don’t worry, is spoiler-free — Mark talks about the challenge of animating Disney’s first princess to progress on-screen from a little girl to a grown up adult… not to mention a small green frog. He also discusses the very modern personality flaws of both Tiana and Naveen, how Lady and Tramp served as inspiration for the film’s “look” and what role he’s already preparing to take for Disney’s next traditionally-animated feature, Winnie the Pooh.
This is the perfect lead-in for the film — Enjoy! ›
All that snow was a wonderful thing for desktop wallpapers, but what does it do to our delicate Disney theme parks? Could the fact that the bridge leading over to Sleeping Beauty Castle has suddenly just been prepared for refurbishment be linked to the icy conditions?
The scaffolding grew from around 5th January onwards and the bridge is now completely closed, as shown in these pictures from our new photo reporter, dlrpteam:
It’s interesting to note that this refurbishment has not been announced in advance via the resort’s usual internal refurbishments calendar, which provides a much more detailed overlay of maintenance works than that provided by Disneyland Paris to visitors.
Despite that, the walls at the front of the bridge have now been covered by a very nicely-designed series of Sleeping Beauty graphics, which must suggest at least some forward planning:
Back then, rumour was rife that the work could be due to freeze-rot in the concrete of the structure — a process where water fills existing cracks, freezes and expands, gradually making the cracks bigger. If this process was left untreated, causing considerable damage, it could get to a point where the bridge needed much more than simple repair work.
Whilst this theory is again only speculation, the sudden renovation project — with those enormous walls — does look to be on rather an imposing scale indeed. Its absence from the internal refurbishment schedules also means no end date can currently be confirmed.
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