With just days to go until the official launch of its 25th Anniversary on 26th March, Disneyland Paris has released a smart new infographic adding up some of the celebration’s most “sparkling” statistics.
More details have been revealed about two of the lesser discussed new Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary events: The Starlit Princess Waltz and Mickey presents “Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris”. Together, both will bring Royal Castle Stage back to life several times daily. Read More…
Fresh from their “new look” rolled out across the resort just a week ago, Disneyland Paris has just revealed its 25th Anniversary outfits for Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Like the park itself, they’ll be blue, silver and sparkling. Read More…
Less than three days to go before the first ‘Swing into Spring’ season begins at Disneyland Paris, the new decorations on Main Street, U.S.A. and Central Plaza are already taking root to add a burst of fresh colour to Disneyland Park.
Just days after they were officially revealed in final concept art, the first arrivals were the colourful Central Plaza “topiary” displays of favourite Disney animals, interacting with musical notes and instruments. Each one takes the centrepiece of one of the four Central Plaza flower beds, surrounded by a fresh display of much less synthetic blooms.
Bambi, Flower and Thumper, The Aristocats Marie, Berlioz and Toulouse, and The Lion King Simba and Nala are pictured here by @DisneylandBerry, who has been sharing these updates of the growing Spring decorations each morning. Three of the 101 dalmatian puppies are in place, too, completing one of the best Central Plaza overlays in many years.
Meanwhile, down in Town Square the theme is more Mary Poppins. The 1964 film celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and is of course a natural fit for a springtime “Jolly Holiday”.
As the concept art depicted, the two flower beds either side of Main Street’s gazebo have become home to full-size floral topiary figures of Mary, Bert, Jane and Michael.
The Town Square Gazebo itself soon followed, being decorated with colourful garlands of synthetic flowers, musical notes and a large butterfly for its “Balade Printanière”.
Perhaps a simple floral overlay would have been enough and more in-keeping with the time period of Main Street, but at least, thank heavens, the psychedelic multi-coloured music staff of the concept art was changed to a more subdued green.
Penguin waiters are even less in-keeping with Main Street, of course, but they add some fun to the scene and are by far one of the least offensive things ever done to the poor gazebo. And they’re penguin waiters, so it’s impossible to dislike them.
Main Street, U.S.A. is home to almost all the Swing into Spring decorations, the furthest they spread into the park being only Le Théatre du Château. Here, the successful Halloween overlay of recent years has been echoed for Spring with daisies wrapped around the columns and a new green podium stage, ready for the main Disney’s Spring Promenade event which will take place both here and around Central Plaza.
It’s simple and tasteful enough, and again good to see the stage finding a new lease of life after some years of dilapidation and uncertainty. Now to see how it will be used…
Halloween 2011 Preview — Something strange has come over Disneyland Paris. As we approach the launch of Disney’s Halloween Festival this Saturday, you’ll see not a hastily-crafted static Pumpkinman in sight. Instead, the decorations are new, the pumpkins have ears and Castle Stage… has come back to life. At last this season appears to be heading in the right direction. After years trailing around misguided creations such as the Pumpkinmen, Pink Witches and Stitch, Paris — the Disney resort which pioneered the Halloween season in 1997 (before trashing it all with orange paint in 2003) — has now looked to Disneyland in California for inspiration. This year, we’re seeing brand new decorations lifted directly from the Anaheim park’s popular HalloweenTime. High quality, considerately-designed and most importantly more “Disney” in their execution as well as their style, they should go a long way to giving Disneyland Paris guests the Halloween they expect from the park.
For fans, it’s a double surprise. As well as a park plussed rather than spoilt by the season, the majority of those new decorations have so far arrived at Le Théâtre du Château, which will be coming back to life to host the new Mickey’s Halloween Treat in the Street event. Vines wrap their way around the bronze columns, pumpkins top the towers and a giant Mickey-shaped pumpkin head (similar to that on Town Square in California) is the centrepiece. The mini-show will feature the full line-up of Mickey and friends in special costumes and dialogue in both French and English. After highlighting several times this year what a wasted opportunity the stage is, it’s a delight to see it fully decorated and back in use.
Plans for Main Street, U.S.A. seem a little lower spec, with just colour-coordinated flower beds, Mickey-eared pumpkins and a spot of bunting on the concept we’ve seen, but it’s still a step up from last year’s near complete lack of Halloween decoration on the street. Hopefully now that Disneyland Paris has finally found the right path for its Halloween decorations, Main Street will gradually begin to match the warm and vibrant Harvest “Pumpkin Festival” theme seen in California (below).
Meanwhile, one old decision hangs on, for a little while longer at least: Central Plaza Stage. That behemoth will at least be hosting a big new show, titled Disney’s Maleficious Halloween Party, which amongst other surprises is said to see Snow White’s Evil Queen transform into a Witch, courtesy of the stage lifts, and Dr Facilier from The Princess and the Frog return to the park.
Rumour suggests Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade won’t feature its usual Halloween pre-parade this year, although Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas will be making a return for meet ‘n’ greets, despite not being mentioned in any publicity. It remains to be seen if Halloweenland will return to Frontierland in any form. In truth, the land has felt more like a boneyard for discarded decorations rather than a proper overlay for the past few years, anyway. A cleaning out of the junk and a shot in the arm in quality is exactly what the festival needed.
• Next: We preview each of the three Halloween parties in detail!
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.
That’s it — it’s the end of an era, for now at least. All the benches of Le Théâtre du Château, the open air theatre at the heart of Disneyland Park, have now been completely removed as expected, save for those few back rows said to be retained as general seating. Member tarf on Disney Central Plaza captured the first photo of the bare amphitheatre above and in fact, it’s not an entirely negative change. Having row after row of empty, disused seating here throughout the day (save for a little excitement around parades) did always look rather depressing after all. Had the park been more sure of the theatre’s criminal disuse, it probably should have happened years ago, just to put it out of its misery.
The next step is anyone’s guess. Repaving? Redevelopment? Are the stone benches being kept somewhere in case the stage ever has some Sleeping Beauty-like reawakening? Do drop us a note if you happen to know more…
As far as Disney park “firsts” go, it’s maybe not quite as exciting as a first ride on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or a first walk through a whole new area like Toy Story Playland, but the new block stone paving around the back of Le Théâtre du Château, winding from the Fantasyland Gate to Discoveryland, does look pretty damn good. The first patch to be uncovered shows the square blocks actually have three distinct pastel tones of yellow, red and blue, which just happen to match nicely with the stone walls of the Castle. Compared to the old coloured concrete sections, the colour of the paving is certainly less saturated, but it has immediately given the area a much cleaner, well-presented look.
Unlike the concrete, which crumbles and cracks around its edges over time and especially during frosty spells, the stone paving will also be much more robust and can now be easily replaced in small patches when necessary, not like when we’ve seen concrete relaying close off whole walkways in Adventureland and Discoveryland recently. As those replacements showed, this is an isolated switch to stone paving — a block-paved walkway through the desert of Frontierland wouldn’t be ideal.
But while we’re enjoying the first days of this new paving, could these be the last for Le Théâtre du Château itself ? A huge patch of the 800-capacity amphitheatre was completely cleared of its seating last week, leaving a wide empty space. At first this seemed like preparation for further repaving works, but according to member HTH2004 on Disney Central Plaza forum, the benches won’t be returning. The theatre hasn’t been used for a regular daily show since Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too moved over to Fantasy Festival Stage in 2006, and this has apparently led to one more problem than it just becoming a white elephant: health and safety. HTH2004 suggests that children jumping between the benches had injured themselves so frequently that the park has decided “enough’s enough” and the benches are going — along with them, all chance of the theatre coming back to life any time soon.
By this Friday, the whole two sections at the front had been completely removed (seen in the photo by CharactersPhotos above) and HTH2004 believes all the others will follow, leaving only four rows of benches along the back the theatre (those under the trees) with the entire space to be repaved between April and May. It might not even stop there — HTH2004 suggests that in the mid term (2 to 4 years) the whole theatre could be completely removed or replaced. This June, the area will host some of the Mickey’s Princesses & Pirates Party after-hours events, but otherwise the schedule is empty.
After Le Livre Magique de Mickey ended its run in 1994, the stage has struggled to be given the attention it deserves. In fact, it probably peaked on the grand opening night of the park itself, 11th April 1992, when it played host to various musical acts — and Angela Lansbury miming to “Beauty and the Beast” — with a beautiful lighting set-up and that glorious view of the Castle behind. There’s no chance of a show here in the immediate future, so this all might not look like a great loss, but it seems incongruous to have Central Plaza overrun by the monstrous Disney Showtime Spectacular stage, completely disrupting that elegantly designed space, when the park has this fantastic theatre at its disposal — a real asset (no other Magic Kingdom has a similar space right at its heart) and a great bit of planning by the original Imagineers, but perhaps now destined to be nothing more than a missed opportunity.
Here’s the view guests saw this weekend as they stepped into Disneyland Park. New Disney fan blog Mickey Land has the latest photos of the Sleeping Beauty Castle refurbishment, showing the scaffolding which we last saw surrounding the landmark’s lower walls has now spread right up to its iconic stained glass picture window. The first step towards hiding the less than magical works has also taken place, with an initial white tarpaulin stretched over the majority of the scaffolding, as is normal with Disney refurbishments. Rumours are suggesting that the second covering, featuring a photo-realistic image of the castle behind, could appear within the next week.
Meanwhile, Disneyland Paris continues to invest elsewhere in Fantasyland with the new stone paving going in along the walkway behind Le Théâtre du Château. The red-hued stones stopped with a circular finish at the Fantasyland Gate, leaving fans wondering if the rest of the route could be relaid with coloured concrete as before.
But, as you can see, the stones look set to continue into the land — albeit with the pattern set at a different angle, the circular design helping to make more of a feature of the gate, which will itself surely be fully repainted sometime this year as part of the Castle refurbishment.
Those Disneyland Park repaving works causing Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade to loop back on itself down Main Street are now in full swing and hard to miss. An entire swathe of the park up through the Fantasyland gate towards “it’s a small world” has been closed to guests as the old, crumbling concrete is torn up ready for a much-needed fresh new floor. Seeing such substantial work going on in this area will be tough for all those fans teased by progress on The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure over at Disney California Adventure right now. That colourful new dark ride was actually born back in the early 1990s for this exact spot, to sit opposite Pizzeria Bella Notte, which has been temporarily closed by these works.
Still, we do have one surprising upgrade — the first block of repaving to be completed so far hasn’t just used the same coloured concrete as before. Oh no. Instead, the area outside the Annual Passport office has been repaved with more expensive individual paving stones, likely to fare better on this heavily-trafficked route and in Paris’ harsh winters.
It remains to be seen if the entire stretch up to “it’s a small world” will be given the same treatment, or if there might just be enough stones left over to finally finish repaving the rapidly disappearing entrance to Walt Disney Studios Park…