Sunday, 1st January 2012

Several Magical Moments to end early January, others “extended” into 20th Anniversary

It’s 2012 (Happy New Year!) and time for a fresh start. For Disneyland Paris, that appears to mean several key elements of the current Disney Magical Moments Festival, marketed to run until 4th March 2012, will be cleared out early. Rumours long suggested the main Mickey’s Magical Celebration show on Central Plaza would face an early finish, due to the much detested Central Plaza Stage finally being ripped out, opening up the hub of the park ready for Dreams.

Now, here’s the confirmation: no performances from 9th January onwards! In truth, the show has had a lukewarm reception ever since last April. Notably lacking the grander spectacle of the previous Disney Showtime Spectacular, it wasn’t quite the kind of production to justify such a monolithic stage to take over the heart of the park. Initially it seemed the four large satellite “arms” of the stage might be lopped off, but now the whole stage is said to be for the chop. For stage shows, this means any future open-air productions will (quite rightly) be on the Théâtre du Château where they belong. For new nighttime spectacular Dreams, the rumour mill is still pumping: Will the removal of the stage open up the area purely for more standing room again, or could the hub become part of the show? One particularly fun (if purely fabricated) rumour is for a “magic” dancing fountain to take the place of the former flower bed. To be honest, even being able to walk across and use the plaza as a “hub”, rather than an impermeable roundabout, seems an exciting prospect at this point.

Surprisingly, this show isn’t the only “Magical Moment” preparing for early retirement. It will be joined on 9th January by Disney Dance Express, the garishly-coloured dance show which reused the old Dumbo Casey Jr. parade float. Could this, the float’s fifth iteration since its launch as part of The Wonderful World of Disney Parade, be its last? Meanwhile, the Green Army Men Meet & Play event over in Toy Story Playland will also end on the same date and, as reported earlier, the first float will be removed from Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade for its “Magic on Parade!” makeover.

Making it all the way to the 4th March end date, but not continuing beyond that date, will be the “interactive” show stops of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, the temporary Tangled meet ‘n’ greet location for Rapunzel and, surprisingly, the small Following the Leader with Peter Pan show in Adventureland. That event was perhaps the most appreciated of all the new “moments” in 2011. For Rapunzel, we must presume she will simply join the other princesses in the new Princess Pavilion.

Finally, continuing into the 20th Anniversary are the many photo locations which popped up around the parks: Wall•E and Eve in Discoveryland, Alice in Wonderland near the Labyrinth, Aladdin near Adventureland Bazaar, Ratatouille near Restaurant des Stars and Monsters, Inc. in Toon Studio (which, added in 2006, was never “new” for 2011 to begin with, but never mind). Lighting McQueen will remain in his Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular cameo and the new Adventureland Rhythms of the Jungle location next to Restaurant Hakuna Matata will remain the home of the popular Tam Tam.

PHOTOS VIA Photos Magiques

Friday, 30th December 2011

Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade won’t be suspended for “Magic on Parade” makeover

Here’s a little relief for anyone planning a trip to in the next three months, before the launch of the 20th Anniversary: Disneyland Paris has confirmed to us that the parade route won’t be left empty while the current Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade undergoes its makeover into the new Disney Magic on Parade!. Some may have feared such a transition would require the original 15th Anniversary parade to take a leave of absence before its 1st April 2012 relaunch.

The production will, however, be left without two of its key floats for much of the period — those which have been previously confirmed to see more extensive redesigns. From 9th January until the launch of Disney Magic on Parade! on 1st April, the opening “Dreams of Imagination” unit will be missing as it is transformed into  a new float for Disney’s fairies and sorcerers. The storybook base will remain, but a fairytale castle will replace the iconic smiling Moon and hot air balloon Sun which have hosted Mickey Mouse and the other VIPs since 2007. Mickey and friends will instead be given prime position on the former “Dreams of Romance: Finale” unit, which will be taken out of service from 16th January until the launch of the new parade. The current fairytale hillside and crystal château look will be turned into a Fantasia-esque pink and blue landscape, with golden broomsticks dotting the cliff side, Sorcerer Mickey standing atop the peak and the other characters in similar sorcerer-esque costumes.

It is likely the characters from these two units will continue to feature in the parade but as walking dance units, similar to when floats have been taken out for refurbishment or maintenance.

Concept art for the new units, above, was leaked earlier this month via the Dutch Café Mickey forums.

Princess fans will be reassured that the final unit’s commandeering by Mickey Mouse won’t mean a lack of Disney royalty in the new parade. Instead, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen will permanently join Ariel and Prince Eric on the “Dreams of Romance: Prelude” unit, as will newly-christened royalty Rapunzel and Flynn, from Disney’s Tangled, who replace Aladdin and Jasmine on the unit. Cinderella and Snow White, along with their respective princes, will follow up on stylised horse-drawn carriages.

Additional new characters will also be added for the revised opening float: Tinker Bell, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather (the Three Fairies from Sleeping Beauty), the Fairy Godmother (from Cinderella), the Blue Fairy (from Pinocchio) and Merlin (from The Sword in the Stone). No changes have been announced for the other five floats of the original parade. New costumes and a new soundtrack are expected throughout, although rumours also suggest that the “Dreams of Power” villain unit will be removed from the new parade, possibly returning only for Halloween.

Saturday, 26th November 2011

Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars officially drops stage production stop for full run of the parade route

They’re going the wrong way! It seems like the set-up for a classic something-goes-wrong Disney attraction, but the diversion of Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars at Walt Disney Studios Park you see above is actually entirely planned. Since May this year, in fact, the plan has been for the part-parade, part-show event to become a simple linear cavalcade, passing on its original Production Number show stop at Place des Stars. From Friday, the “logistical issues” which had delayed the change were finally overcome when Donald and Daisy led the parade down Rue George Méliès toward Backlot for the very first time.

Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars now follows the park’s original parade route, entering in Toon Studio between Flying Carpets Over Agrabah and Animagique, passing past Disney Bros. Plaza and exiting between Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith and Disney Blockbuster Café, without stopping. This is the first time the whole parade route has been used since Disney Cinema Parade ended its run way back in March 2008. Though guests no longer get to see the fun 10-minute musical production starring the cast of characters and their drivers, running the parade right through the park immediately allows almost twice as many people to catch a front-row glimpse of the stars.

We noted at the event’s arrival in 2009 how the small, low-level Place des Stars stage wasn’t really suitable for a “main event” like this, allowing so few people to get a good view, which must had led to many poor guest experiences. The only downside of this extended parade run is that the twelve cars appear exactly as before, only with Donald and Daisy taking the lead while Mickey and Minnie provide the finale behind 2010’s added Ratatouille car. Without any dancers or action in-between the vehicles, or a stage show to provide a raison-d’être, does the cavalcade stand up as a parade on its own?

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Wednesday, 16th November 2011

Disneyland Paris welcomes 250 millionth guest – a quarter billion visitors in less than 20 years!

1, 2, 3… 250,000,000! A huge milestone was celebrated at Disneyland Paris yesterday, 15th November 2011, as the resort welcomed its 250 millionth guest into the parks. That’s a quarter of a billion visitors in just 19 years, 7 months and 15 days. Yes, ok, so they’re still not able to turn a consistent net profit, but let the urban myth that Disney’s European resort has been under-attended since 1992 officially be put to rest. In the 2011 financial year, the parks set a new record of 15.6 million visitors, making the outlook for the 20th Anniversary year rosy indeed. With the usual birthday year boom, longer opening hours through the year and the premiere of Dreams, the resort may well hit the magical 16 million.

The guests in question yesterday received the honour of a celebratory ride up Main Street, U.S.A. on the Fire Truck with Disneyland Paris Ambassador Régis Alart and a photocall with Mickey, Minnie and Duffy in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Just like the 100 millionth visitors in 2001 and the 200 millionth visitors in 2008, they were a family of mum and dad with two photogenic young kids, but in a groundbreaking move they were Spanish, not French, and visiting for the fourth time. Euro Disney SCA’s own press release (PDF) notes that families with young children make up 66% of visitors. So, by those odds, maybe we’ll see someone from the other 34% awarded the 300 million honour in a few years?

VIA Ambassadeur Disneyland Paris (Facebook), Disneyland Paris Corporate (PDF)

Sunday, 25th September 2011

Princess Pavilion officially opening 8th October, soft openings from next weekend

It’s official: the Disney Princesses’ new home in Fantasyland will open its doors to guests on Saturday 8th October 2011. The date will be marked with a special inauguration by Disneyland Paris Ambassadors Régis Alart and Osvaldo del Mistero, with the Princess Pavilion open to the public from 10.30am. If you’re visiting before then and still want to get a look, you might be in luck: several sources suggest Soft Openings will be held from next weekend, specifically from Friday 30th September. These unscheduled openings in the run up to the official inauguration will be used to fully test all aspects of the new permanent meet ‘n’ greet location. As with all Soft Openings, the attraction could close at any time and may not be open every day. If in doubt, ask a Cast Member nearby or at City Hall.

Construction progress has continued apace at the new meet ‘n’ greet attraction. Two new lamps were installed either side of the building’s new “brooche” signage to complete the entrance marquee, and more surprising details have been spotted all over. From crowns moulded into the cornicing to gold leaf being applied to the static metal flags atop its roof…


Above, DJROM36 from Disney Central Plaza forum even captured a glimpse inside the attraction’s exit area, showing some quite extravagant wooden panel decoration for the new souvenir photo desk. The counter appears to be split into two arches, with even the photo preview screen given a decorative wooden surround. It’s questionable how well this medieval style fits in here, as it leads guests directly out into the international World’s Fair area of “it’s a small world”, but the new pavilion certainly feels right up to the same high quality of the original land so far.

PHOTOS 1-2 @InsideDLParis (Twitter), PHOTOS 3-5 DJROM36 (Disney Central Plaza)

Thursday, 15th September 2011

Princess Pavilion crowned with official name as entrance and exit near completion

Another big week for Fantasyland’s new Princess Pavilion has come to an end with the detail we’ve been waiting for: a name. The marketeers may have spoken of the nauseating “Disney Princesses: A Royal Invitation” as part of the Magical Moments Festival but luckily the Imagineers (and good sense) prevailed, with the final name being exactly the short and sharp bit of classic Disney park alliteration we’ve known the project by all along: Princess Pavilion! The main piece of the new attraction marquee was installed late this afternoon — just like the concept art, a gently bevelled oval with customary swirly font, surrounded by metallic gold detailing and topped with a whimsical crown motif. Two extra pieces of the ornate frame are still to be added either side of the oval nameplate.

Though some very pretty new lights have been installed between the doors, the sign appears to be backlit from within. This is similar to the signage at Fantasy Festival Stage and the land’s Disneyland Railroad Station, especially with the identical shapes, but seemingly at odds with the rest of Fantasyland, where most signage is lit by external spotlights for a greater degree of “olde-worlde” charm. Might this new marquee, intended to look like an enlarged brooch, be just a little too “blingy”?

Workers have made more progress with the addition of five golden flags atop the newly-finished blue rooftops. Perhaps this flourish will help the rather castle-like new pavilion to blend more with the “it’s a small world” area it impinges on, which features similar golden details on all its lampposts and right along its façade of famous landmarks. As noted by reader DGR in a previous comment, the roof tiles are somewhat irregularly-placed to perhaps fit with this being near the “rural” area of the land.

Finally, it’s not just the entrance seeing work: with no mountains to divide them, a new railing has been installed (or rather abruptly bolted into the ground) to separate the meet ‘n’ greet’s way out from that of “it’s a small world”; these two attractions now firmly close neighbours.

Princess Pavilion construction

• More: See the concept art and get a full walk-through of this new attraction here!

PHOTOS VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Monday, 12th September 2011

A right royal beauty: Concept art for Fantasyland’s new Princess Pavilion released!

Princess Pavilion planning concept

Concept art released? Forgive the error — more like rooted out, scavenged. We tweeted the official @DisneylandParis just after exterior construction began on the Princess Pavilion to say how good it would be to see the concept art for this new meet ‘n’ greet attraction released, to actually promote a nice addition to the park. After all, it’s hardly a strong time for tangible new attractions at the resort. So where does this new concept art come from? The Chessy town planning office, via the royalty of the online fan community Disney Central Plaza, of course! So much for slick corporate marketing.

But here it is: a real look at exactly what to expect from the Princesses’ new rural abode. Being a planning document, the first concept above is intended more to show how the development fits into the existing Fantasyland landscape. The whimsically-curved roof, pink walls and tower are all exactly as we’re seeing them go up in reality, while the two existing archways of the former “it’s a small world” exit pathways are shown with heavy wooden doors like those elsewhere in the land. A warm yellow glow beckons us inside and the golden signage atop the roof reads, simply and sharply, “Princess Pavilion”.

Princess Pavilion layout concept

Above, the new interior layout of the space, as we tried to explain in a previous update. Now with a proper visual aid, you can see how the former ramp around the perimeter of the building (in green) now acts as a curved queue line, up towards the two Princess meeting places (in red) in the raised and enclosed centre of the building. The exit then leads via the red arrows, with a photo sales point on your right. Notice that the archway on the right, which used to be a quick exit route from “it’s a small world” bypassing the post-show area, will become dead space.

It’s the detail, though, that begins to set this apart from what you might expect of a simple meet ‘n’ greet. Those eight spaces dotted around the queue line’s perimeter? Those will be ornate stone arches, each dedicated to a different princess with a stained glass-effect view of the heroine’s castle and a memento of her plight — a glass slipper for Cinderella, a red rose for Belle.

Not any old slipper or rose — these pieces, displayed under glass cloches, will be fashioned in crystal and illuminated by fibre optics. Snow White, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Ariel, Tiana and Jasmine will all have their own arch, with Mulan and Rapunzel said to be vying for the eighth (we’re backing Rapunzel).

When we walked through this passageway back in March, all we saw were breeze blocks. The final finish will give the impression of intricately carved stone columns and bricks, dressed with luxurious embroidered curtains and textiles. With a capacity of 308 people, the inside queue will even have its own specially-created background music loop.

Princess Pavilion concept art Princess Pavilion concept art

Reaching the two meeting places, guests will have a choice of which princess to visit. Two grand balcony windows will be dressed with more embroidered curtains and decorative stonework, each featuring a backdrop based on the princess in residence. Above, we see concepts for Aurora, with a rolling green landscape looking back towards the castle (a neat touch, since we’re meant to be in the countryside here, away from the Château), and Tiana, surrounded by a nighttime bayou scene. During times of low attendance, only one princess might be in attendance and during these periods, guests will skip out the portion of the queue marked in yellow on the layout plan and go straight through to the photo locations.

You’ll be free to use your own camera for photos of course, but the official photographers in residence here will also have cameras equipped with Wi-Fi, sending your snaps immediately over to the photo desk, which you’ll likely be given paper tickets in order to check out and buy.

The official inaurugation is now rumoured to be Saturday 8th October 2011. Tiaras at the ready!

VIA Disney Central Plaza

Monday, 5th September 2011

Tiles complete on Fantasyland’s newest tower as Princess Pavilion marches ahead

Remarkably untouched since its opening in 1992, Fantasyland at Disneyland Paris is suddenly welcoming a brand new addition to its fairytale landscape with day after day of marching progress. By Saturday, all the tiles on the delayed Princess Pavilion photo location’s new tower were already in place, just days after the tower itself rose from the ground. Not counting the miniature turrets of Storybook Land, opened 1994, this marks the first new tower in Fantasyland’s kingdom since opening!

Meanwhile, the latest photo by @InsideDLParis just three hours ago shows the wooden struts now in place on the main roof of the façade, ready for tiling to continue. Despite being located in the “rural” countryside section of the land, with the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups and Old Mill, the new façade uses a more stately chateau style. Perhaps this is a new garden pavilion of Sleeping Beauty Castle?

Princess Pavilion photolocation construction

With an opening now apparently due in as little as a month, we also have to wonder where this addition will fit into the resort’s marketing. Since the April launch of the Disney Magical Moments Festival, the originally advertised Disney Princesses: A Royal Invitation has lead guests to a cheap temporary tent situated just opposite this construction site. Will the finally-realised Princess Pavilion just open as a late “Magical Moments” addition, or could it be held over by marketing until 2012, to serve as a second new permanent Fantasyland meet ‘n’ greet location for the 20th Anniversary?

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Friday, 2nd September 2011

Princess Pavilion construction steps up with new tower at former Small World post-show

Princess Pavilion construction

Forgot this new Disney Princess meet ‘n’ greet was even happening, did you? You’re forgiven. It’s been exactly a year now since the old “it’s a small world” post-show with its cute animations of children using technology to interact across the globe closed forever, and signs of the ongoing construction (or rather destruction) within haven’t been easy to spot. However, a sudden Summer rush has seen the old exit of the classic boat ride begin to take shape as the new entrance of this permanent Princesses encounter. The walls and two existing arches have been given a more stately pavilion look and even a brand new tower has sprung up to one side! Progress just this week has been considerable — compare the photo from today, above, to one from yesterday, below, both by @InsideDLParis.

We got an in-depth look at this new addition to Fantasyland — and even an exclusive walk inside its under-construction walls, with strictly no photos allowed — during the mythical refurbishments presentation back in March. Stepping through the green construction walls, our motley crew of Disneyland Paris fansite authors walked past the few last remnants of the old “small world” post-show, including the old exit sign partly ripped off the wall. Once inside, the old circular layout was still evident but, rather than being lower than the rest of the room, the centre is now raised up and walled-in as the main meet ‘n’ greet area.

From the old exit, pictured above, the queue for Princess encounters will climb up the gentle spiral ramp within, leading guests to one of two photo spots. On our visit, the bare breeze block walls were dotted with plans showing the new layout and several art boards showing (still unreleased) concept art for both the exterior and the beautiful interior, including “mood boards” and real examples of materials Walt Disney Imagineering have designed and chosen for the project. Stained glass windows, detailed carvings and rich fabrics inside promise to ensure this new addition to the kingdom looks like it truly belongs alongside all the land’s original tales-as-old-as-time. The extravagant signage due to be installed on those two prongs jutting out of the new pavilion roof will hopefully arrive with the clear and simple “Princess Pavilion” nomenclature that we saw in that concept art, rather than the obnoxiously over-branded “Disney Princesses: A Royal Invitation” name given to the temporary Magical Moments Festival tent, which has been filling the place of this (possibly delayed, possibly not) permanent photo location.

For all those still lamenting the loss of the colourful (and unique-to-Paris) Small World post-show, there’s one final detail that seals the deal, at least from an economic standpoint: the Princess Pavilion will have its very own photo purchase desk. So, rather than being given a ticket to check their photo at a boutique halfway across the park, Princess fans will see themselves posing with their favourite fairytale belle right at the exit, Big Thunder Mountain style, and be able to hand over their Euros right away. All progressing well, that could apparently be as soon as next month!

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Monday, 1st August 2011

Giant Sleeping Beauty sand castle sculpted along banks of the Seine for Paris Plages

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.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Paris Plages

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.

Video follows… Read More…

Subscribe to the Magic!

Ad: Disneyland Paris up to 20% off all meals!

Tags & Archives

Twitter Updates

Ad: Disneyland Paris 30th Anniversary bookings now open!