Announced as part of the Disney’s Fairytale Christmas press release, the Tree Lighting Ceremony will not only move back to Town Square but become an event in its own right once again, after several years spent as merely a background to the Castle’s illumination at Central Plaza.
It looks like we’re not the only ones eagerly anticipating the return either, as the resort’s publicity department have just released this rather lovely new image to advertise the “new” event:
Featuring a young girl with Mickey Mouse, the tree itself is shown glowing in blue as trails of pixie dust surround it, the buildings of Main Street enclosing the cosy scene.
The use of blue might be interesting, since the old tree — which has been spotted backstage and is assumed to be returning — has no lights of the sort. So could the old tree be given a new lighting overlay? After all, with the event now based solely around it, it has to compete with the extravagance of the several hundred-thousand lights over on Sleeping Beauty Castle, which will still be illuminated — separately — as part of the final “Party Time” show of the day.
This slightly too modern, slightly cold blue LED-type display is already used for the 2005 Princess Chandeliers which line Main Street during the season. It would be a shame to see the warm and colourful old tree fall to this apparently fashionable colour for Christmas lights, even if it does need to be given a more impressive light-up programme.
Gushing with confidence, the press release states: “Every evening, guests are invited to a stunning brand-new show around the majestic Christmas Tree in Town Square. Enchanted illumination orchestrated by Mickey and Minnie Mouse in person promises to dazzle young and old alike with loads of magical Christmas surprises.”
Like any wonderfully clichéd Christmas movie, we’ll just have to wait for those days to fall from the calendar…
In fact, it’s looking like a truly nostalgic return to the events of Christmases past, as not only will a brand new Tree Lighting Ceremony be created for Town Square, but the seasonal “Celebration” overlay will finally return to “it’s a small world” after several years’ absence.
The Christmas Tree and the LEDs of the Crystal Castle will now be lit during separate events — the Castle being illuminated as part of a special finale to the last performance of It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends each day, similar to the current Halloween final show. And on Town Square, Mickey and Minnie Mouse will “orchestrate” an “enchanted illumination”.
Here’s the full press release for 2009:
The emotion and the magic of a Fairytale Christmas at Disneyland Paris
– From 8 November 2009 to 6 January 2010 –
Marne-la-Vallée, France – Beginning on 8 November 2009, the magic of Christmas will enchant Disneyland Paris. Winter will cast a snowy spell on each of the two Disney Parks, offering a brand-new, surprise-filled programme full of unforgettable memories for families and friends.
A CHRISTMAS FILLED WITH DISNEY MAGIC
The magical atmosphere of a Fairytale Christmas
When the spirit of Christmas comes to Disneyland Paris, the Sleeping Beauty Castle becomes a sparkling Crystal Palace, Mickey Mouse and his Friends don their best winter costumes and guests eagerly wait to greet Beauty and the Beast in Belle’s Christmas Village… Snowflakes fall by the thousands over Main Street U.S.A.® and blanket the majestic Christmas tree that towers over Town Square. Décor straight out of the most beautiful Fairy Tales plunges guests into a unique atmosphere. Enchantment reigns during this wondrous Disney Christmas, allowing children to drop their wish lists into Santa Claus’ mailbox, located in the heart of the Disneyland Park.
New: Winter magic promises an abundance of lovely surprises, including an unforgettable encounter with Snow White and her Prince Charming at Castle Stage and the Tree Lighting Ceremony orchestrated by Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Town Square.
SANTA CLAUS RETURNS TO DISNEYLAND PARIS
Meet Santa Claus in his village at the Disneyland Park
The Christmas Holiday season is just around the corner. Santa Claus and his elves are busier than ever preparing to distribute thousands of presents. Santa has chosen to set up his workshop in the heart of the Disneyland Park to share all the magic of Christmas with children and to be closer to guests of all ages. With his fluffy white beard, his famous red suit and his bag overflowing with presents, no one can miss Santa Claus this year.
“Santa Claus’ Post Office” in the Disneyland Park
The dream continues all the way to a very special mailbox… Santa Claus’ Christmas mailbox. For this enchanted winter season, he has also set up “Santa Claus’ Post Office” to allow children to “mail” their letters and share their greatest wishes.
Children will also be delighted to receive a letter back from Santa when they return home several weeks following their visit. Wishes really do come true thanks to a Christmas signed by Disney Magic.
Location: Critter Corral – Woody’s Roundup Village – Frontierland –Disneyland Park
Disney’s Once Upon a Christmas Dream Parade
Aboard his bright and colourful sleigh, Santa Claus will be the guest of honour at the Disney’s Once Upon a Christmas Dream Parade! He will close this spectacular parade inviting everyone to dream alongside the Disney Characters.
Escorted by his Wooden Soldiers and Elves, in time to special Christmas music, Santa will spread all the magic of winter and Fairy Tales.
ENCHANTING ENCOUNTERS WITH THE DISNEY PRINCESSES
New: Meet Snow White and Prince Charming
This Christmas is the right time for guests to discover and rediscover Walt Disney’s first masterpiece, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The magic of this delightful tale will come to life on the Castle Stage for an unforgettable encounter with Snow White and her Prince Charming.
And for the perfect last touch on this Disney Christmas, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated feature in Cinema history will be released on high-definition Blue-ray.
Belle’s Christmas Village
During this bright Christmas season, Disneyland Paris guests can enjoy the charm of Belle’s Christmas Village. Between picturesque taverns and traditional chalet stands blanketed in snow, Fantasyland will open its doors to the wonderful world of Disney classics for the Holiday Season. Whisked away by the magic of this tale in an enchanted world, guests can meet Beauty or the Beast while strolling down the streets of this authentic medieval village.
THE ENCHANTMENT OF DISNEY CHRISTMAS ENTERTAINMENT
New: Tree Lighting Ceremony at Town Square
Every evening, guests are invited to a stunning brand-new show around the majestic Christmas Tree in Town Square. Enchanted illumination orchestrated by Mickey and Minnie Mouse in person promises to dazzle young and old alike with loads of magical Christmas surprises.
Sleeping Beauty Castle Lighting SpectacularEach evening the Sleeping Beauty Castle undergoes transformation during an incredible illumination display. Over 400,000 lights transform the Castle into a genuine Crystal Palace before guests’ very eyes.
Disney’s Fantillusion Parade will be at its brightest for this Fairytale Christmas. Every evening, from 8 November 2009 to 6 January 2010, when night falls over Main Street, U.S.A., the dazzling night parade shimmers with the help of thousands of lights. The most beautiful Fairytales include Ariel, Aladdin and Jasmine, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, but also Mickey, Minnie Mouse and their friends who parade by, unveiling a lovely story with its happy ending before guests.
MICKEY AND HIS FRIENDS CELEBRATE AN ENCHANTED CHRISTMAS
It’s Party Time… with Mickey & Friends
To celebrate Mickey’s Magical Party, the Disney Heroes take the new Central Plaza stage by storm and perform their show in 360°. It’s Party Time… with Mickey & Friends! Guests learn the “Mickey Dance”, an easy-to-learn choreography perfect for spreading the party spirit across the globe.
And every day, for the Christmas Holiday season, the Disney Characters put on an exclusive finale signed by the magic of Christmas. Following the day’s last show, the Sleeping Beauty Castle is transformed into a sumptuous Crystal Palace to offer an exceptional shimmering display.
Mickey’s Winter Wonderland
Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, Donald and Chip ‘n’ Dale share the joy of winter sports during this show on ice designed to please the whole family. Through slapstick falls and snowball fights, Mickey’s Winter Wonderland celebrates the spirit and the enchantment of the winter season several times a day.
Location: Chaparral Theater – Frontierland
Meet Goofy Santa
For the Holiday season, Goofy just couldn’t resist putting his Santa suit back on! Perched atop his sleigh, he greets children of all ages in the Disneyland Park for a souvenir photo in Town Square.
Happy New Year!
On 31 December, the Disneyland Park welcomes guests until 1:00 a.m. for an unforgettable New Year’s Eve party. As the clock strikes midnight, a dazzling fireworks display emblazes the sky over the Sleeping Beauty Castle to bring in a bright and shiny new year.
Mickey’s Christmas Dinner
A unique gift to enjoy as a family for all Christmas Holiday buffs wishing to experience a privileged Disney moment.
This fantastic dinner will thrill the palates of both young and old alike. Beloved Disney Characters are impatient to join them in a lively dance party in the Disneyland Park.
Mickey’s Christmas Dinner can be savoured exclusively on 5, 12, and 19 December from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and includes private access to the Pavilion and privileged Meet’n’Greets with lovable Disney Characters. The delicious Christmas buffet sets the stage for a fun, dynamic and interactive celebration.
Missing above but featured in the French press release is “it’s a small world” Celebration, the resort’s one and only seasonal attraction overlay. It disappeared a few years ago, but they’ve seen sense and the nations of Small World will once again be celebrating New Year’s Eve in their own way from 21st November, with the attraction closed the two weeks beforehand for preparations and a general refurbishment.
“it’s a small world” Celebration
L’attraction “it’s a small world” célèbre elle-aussi les fêtes de fin d’année avec des costumes, musiques et décors dédiés. La plus joyeuse traversée en bateau de Disneyland Paris rend hommage aux traditions de tous les pays qu’elle représente, de la Scandinavie à l’Amérique du Sud, de l’Afrique à la Chine… Si les différentes nations ont leurs propres manières de fêter le nouvel an, “it’s a small world” Celebration honore l’esprit des fêtes adorées par les enfants du monde entier !
A partir du 21 novembre 2009.
Also new this year is the Snow White event on the Castle Stage we reported in August, confirmed above, whilst everything from Santa Claus’ Village and Post Office to Mickey’s Winter Wonderland, Belle’s Christmas Village to the special Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade finale all return. The season continues to grow in every respect.
However, it’s the return of the Tree Lighting Ceremony which will no doubt be the highlight of the season this year. Not that there was anything technically wrong with the Central Plaza-based illuminations shows we’ve seen since 2003, but they never managed to get that tear of emotion in your eye, as anyone who saw the old ceremony will tell you.
Now based back around the tree at Town Square, hopefully the new 2009 ceremony will recapture some of that cosy, old-fashioned magic the previous events shunned for Princesses.
And since the resort is receiving a whole new themed land with three new attractions, is there need to pad out the “nouveautés” by renaming and re-advertising the same event again?
The answer: Yes.
Here’s the brand new publicity visual released today:
Disney All Stars Express (2010)
As you can see, it re-uses the template of the original Disney Characters’ Express image above, but shows the train in its 2009 Minnie’s Party Train guise — recoloured slightly to appear pinker.
On board, the real-life characters are replaced by another collection of generic stock images, showing the “new generation” who’ll lead the event. Well — Stitch, Toy Story and Ratatouille. Despite the year aiming to celebrate the “Ne w Generation”, these stars are already becoming a little repetitive — and there’s no sign of the newest characters, from Bolt and UP, anywhere.
The new name? As given away in the headline, it’s: Disney All Stars Express. Which certainly allows any classic characters to keep their place come April 2010.
If all this repetition’s getting a little dull, take a look at this final new visual:
Showing a plethora of characters parachuting into the park (with Sully for some reason peering up from a trapdoor instead), it’s a pleasant surprise after the earlier images. Nemo’s chances once he reaches the ground surely don’t look good, but the image overall… does.
Rather than just re-using an existing image, chopping it to pieces and hastily copying and pasting some Disney stock characters in, it appears to also have some actual design work in there, with the parachutes given proper perspective and depth as they fade away into the painterly sky.
Yet still, there’s an apathy for the park it’s meant to be selling: why else would you paste fake Mickey Mouse stickers over the beautiful windows of Sleeping Beauty Castle? Sigh…
For the first time in years, Disneyland Park didn’t make its Summer season a clean sweep of 11pm closures right through from July to August. For the week of 24th – 30th August 2009, guests would hear the park closing announcements at 10pm, instead.
The real turn of events were hardly dissimilar to every other week of the season, however, as anyone who has following the resort’s hugely unpopular “limited attraction hours” programme this Summer will know. Several of the smaller attractions still opened late and closed early, at the same hours. And, rather than performing at 22:25, Disney’s Fantillusion rolled out just 25 minutes earlier, bang on the advertised closing time of 10pm, with The Enchanted Fireworks following soon after at around 22:35.
But perhaps sensing that these slightly earlier showtimes would give visitors less time to browse the park’s boutiques beforehand, a popular old trick was pulled out again — late night store openings.
As advertised at each and every entrance turnstile, and at many of the shops in question, the stores of Main Street, U.S.A. along with Constellations and Thunder Mesa Mercantile Building, near the entrances of Discoveryland and Frontierland respectively, kept their doors open until gone 11pm. Such a tactic has been used many times before, such as during busy Halloween and Christmas periods when the park’s high attendance contrasts with shorter hours.
Even better, if you’d happened to do a little shopping earlier in the evening, a brand new ploy would be handed right to you — a voucher for 15% off your next purchase totalling €30 euros or more that same night, after 9.30pm. The ticket was printed automatically along with all receipts.
This is the very first time that Disneyland Paris have offered such merchandise discounts to the general public, coming after tests earlier this year saw the resort’s new tills (now identical at every single payment location) printing out vouchers for free hot drinks at various counter service locations.
Popping up out of nowhere, and only so far on the German press website, these few images are a rare delight worth sharing. Apparently someone, somewhere, realised that there’s a luscious, extraordinary Disney park behind whatever theme year is currently being peddled.
Looking through the latest official brochure (PDF), you could be forgiven for thinking the park was yet to open its gates with the airbrushed, photoshopped and hazy imagery filling page after page. Between the huge, fake images of the Mickey’s Magical Party events being previewed, guests are given little to no real glimpse at the parks themselves.
Well, flying cowboys! Is this really Disneyland Paris?
Of course, there is reason for this — since the start of the 15th Anniversary, the resort has been on a new drive to promote limited-timed offers and calls to action.
People were found to wait until their children were older before visiting, whilst Disneyland wanted their custom now. But how are these potential guests to know that this place really is so beautiful, so much better than any other theme park on the continent, and worth the high prices listed on later pages?
Images like these might help…
Several of the photos focus on Frontierland, with an eerie mist rolling around Phantom Manor and the Molly Brown standing proudly in the dock.
Even classic E-Tickets, like Phantom Manor itself, rarely seem to be given much attention these days. The opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was criminally glossed-over in favour of the extended 15th, the consensus simply being that this €180-million attraction wouldn’t be enough for the bookings to roll in — people would conclude that, unlike the anniversary events, “it’ll still be there in a few years” and postpone their trip.
As recently as 2001 and 2002, however, each land would be given its own lavish, themed page in the brochures, filled with photos of the environments, attractions and entertainment. After all, it’s these legendary attractions and the landscape of the park — the things designed and built by the Imagineers — that we visit time and time again for… isn’t it?
Say, the Disneyland Railroad majestically skirting its way around the greenery of the berm…
Or the spires, towers, walls, windows, tapestries and pure beauty of the Castle…
No wonder some people think we’re mad to be in love with Disneyland at our age, considering the “kids’ crèche” style of recent advertising, completely shunning any images like this gorgeous new view past the Walt’s restaurant sign…
You can click any of these new official images above for a large 1600px version. We’ll probably never see them make the brochures or advertising, so go on — stick them on your desktop and show people what Disneyland Paris is really like.
Halloween? Must be August! The regular location of the season’s flash mini-site — www.magichalloween.com — has been updated for the upcoming 2009 season beginning this October 3rd. Generally, the look is the same — save for one noticeable new ingredient: balloons, of course — orange ones!
New official website
And so, this annual season, which has been meandering between different themes for several years since the arrival of the Pumpkin Men in 2003 and the thankfully short-lived focus on Stitch later, finally appears to have been set on a steady course.
Things are much more family-friendly than the early years of the festival, whilst much more “Disney” than the first seasons featuring the Pumpkin Men. Overall, the events are moving closer in style to their praised Tokyo and Hong Kong cousins. Mickey and Minnie will return in their perfect purple, orange and green costumes, whilst Jack Skellington and Sally return with greater prominence since their hugely successful 2008 debut.
Jack & Sally joined the Paris season in 2008
Orange paint still features, however. Whilst this year the orange Main Street is explicitly mentioned in the press release, for the two previous years the decorations have actually been cancelled — only to return to the street at the last minute. It seems Entertainment simply didn’t have the money for a replacement.
Interesting to note, for example, that the “Mickey’s Magical Party Time!” theme song began life as a new Halloween theme song, but Entertainment — to quote composer Scott Erickson in our interview — “didn’t have the budget last year to update the parade and change the Halloween song”. What with the new characters, costumes and major new nighttime hard ticket event in Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party introduced last year, it’s easy to understand why.
Mickey’s new 2008 costume set the festival on the right track
So, we come to 2009. And, with the events of Mickey’s Magical Party continuing through the Halloween Festival, it’ll be looking slightly different again from its previous 15th Anniversary-tinted years…
Disney’s Halloween Festival… something BIG is brewing in October!
– From 3 October to 1 November 2009 –
Marne-la-Vallée, France, July 2009 – From 3 October 2009 through to 1 November 2009, Mickey’s Magical Party adds even more fun to a marvelous month of mischief and mayhem. It’s the perfect month to make family and friends scream with delight. Join Mickey as he welcomes the Disney Villains, Pumpkin Men and Pumpkin Ladies and the star of the season, Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas to celebrate Mickey’s Magical Party for a frighteningly fun Halloween surprises!
Welcome to the Disney Halloweenmosphere
A full month of thrills, spills and chills galore at Disneyland Park, as Halloween invades Frontierland and Main Street, U.S.A.® with decorations, eerie events and hair-raising shows, face painting and oodles of tricks and treats. Family and friends, young and old, everyone is sure to have a ghostly good time with…
… the stars of Nightmare Before Christmas
Jack Skellington and his friend Sally, the stars of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, are back to captivate Disney’s Halloween Festival with their bewitching world.
… mischievous Pumpkin tricksters
When Disneyland Paris goes orange, you know the Pumpkin Men and Pumpkin Ladies can’t be far away. They are just itching to splash the road and shop fronts of Main Street, U.S.A. with their bright orange paint. Masters of the most devious decoration, mischievous jokes and pranks, Pumpkin Citizens take Frontierland by storm as they transform it into Halloweenland for a howling good time! No one can escape the antics of those uncontrollable Pumpkins we just can’t help but love!
… Disney Villains and Characters
Children of all ages are going to love staring down the infamous Disney Villains and becoming accomplices to their demonic deeds. Cruella De Vil, Captain Hook, Jafar and the wicked witch from Snow White take vile pleasure in posing with young guests and giving them a wonderful souvenir of the year’s biggest monster mash. Mickey and Friends have also spread the word to give guests a memorable welcome decked out in their finest Halloween costumes.
… Mickey’s Magical Party takes on the colors of Halloween
More enchanting than ever in her delightful witch costume, Minnie leads the dance in Town Square. Disney Characters take advantage of this scare-a-licious month to don their mischievous pumpkin masks as they ride Minnie’s Party Train in all its Halloween splendor.
Meanwhile, the Disney Villains have spent all day preparing to invade the stage during the final show It’s Party Time… with Mickey & Friends. Captain Hook, Gaston, Jafar, Frollo, Cruella De Vil, Maleficent the witch from Sleeping Beauty and other fiendish folk are going to perform a devilish rendition of the “Mickey Dance” on the new Central Plaza Stage. It feels so good to be bad, and they’ll do whatever it takes to ensure we never forget!
… Disney Once Upon a Dream Parade to a Halloween tune
The Disney Once Upon a Dream Parade will kick-off with a special Halloween theme, as the Pumpkin Men and Ladies join in the abominably bewitching parade, along with Jack and Sally from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas and the Disney Villains, of course!
The spectrrrrraaaaaaaacular month of Halloween is also your last chance to get down to an intergalactic beat with DJ Stitch and the “It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland” show. Hurry, his space mission ends on 8 November 2009.
And for that fiendish final touch, Disney’s Halloween Festival continues with parties you won’t want to miss to enjoy Halloween to the max!
Disney’s Halloween Party: 31 October is Ghoul’s Night Out!
Guaranteed to be a scream! Get ready for the most magical night of the year at Disneyland Paris! The now-famous Disney’s Halloween Party* will take place on 31 October 2009 in Disneyland Park. A one-of-a-kind experience to enjoy with family and friends from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
By the light of the moon, Disneyland Park will reopen its doors to a most terrifying atmosphere featuring a wide variety of events, surprises and boo-groovy music until the late-night hours:
Spooktacular street entertainment and stage shows throughout the evening
The Disney’s Fantillusion Parade led by the vicious Disney Villains, where the world of darkness meets the enchanted world in a fantastic twilight spectacular.
A special Halloween Sound and Light show with the fangtangulous backdrop of Sleeping Beauty Castle.
And oodles of other dreadfully delectable surprises!
*Paid event: €32 for adults and children, free for children under 3.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Want to celebrate Halloween in pure Disney style that’s fun without being scary? Then Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Party is the place to be!** Four dream opportunities for family fun with Mickey and Friends in their most boo-tiful Halloween costumes on 9, 16, 23 and 27 October 2009 from 8 to 11 p.m. with tricks and treats galore! Places are limited to this one-of-a-kind event for children of all ages who just can’t wait to get dressed up. Disney Characters and Villains will be there to create an exclusive and interactive experience of exciting and truly unforgettable moments.
In addition to exclusive events and shows, guests will enjoy access to a number of attractions in Disneyland Park open especially for the grand occasion: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey, Lancelot’s Carousel, Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, “It’s a small world”, Sleeping Beauty Castle in Fantasyland and Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland. And the fearsome Phantom Manor and the legendary Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland.
**Paid event: €25 for adults and children, free for children under 3.
All the fun and fantastical ingredients are there to make Disney’s Halloween Festival the most monstrously magical month of the year at Disneyland Paris, from 3 October to 1 November 2009.
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Did you get all that? Let’s have a quick recap of what’s new…
Disney Villains invade It’s Party Time with Mickey and Friends — this is instead of the standalone Disney Villains’ Halloween Showtime which used the previous stage during daytimes in 2007 and 2008.
Minnie’s Party Train also takes on a Halloween theme with decorations — no wonder poor old Casey Jr. huffs and puffs with all the extra layers on top of him these days.
Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade slated to “kick off” with a Halloween theme — suggesting it’ll be similar to last year’s pre-parade, a few special floats running separately to the main parade, rather than a full overlay — which had actually been rumoured to happen for Christmas and/or Halloween this year.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties return for a second year on 9th, 16th, 23rd and 27th October, with the big plus being that the event has broken out of its Fantasyland-only confines of the first year and now allows access to Adventureland and Frontierland. It will be interesting to see, now, how they go about properly differentiating it from the 31st October Disney’s Halloween Party, other than just being a cut-down version…
And as for the Halloween Soirée itself, this press release lists only a “light and sound show” — rather than the usual fireworks. We’ll have to wait and see…
Of course, Halloween often has other events beyond these widely-communicated ones above. There’s the temporary Trick or Treat Stage in Frontierland, for example, usually home to small shows like Goofy and the Magic Cauldron.
Good news here — we’ve heard that plans have been moving ahead for Jack Skellington and Sally to take on stronger roles than just meet ‘n’ greet characters, by taking part in their own show on this special Halloween stage next to Cowboy Cookout Barbeque.
As with all creations starring these characters, the event has even been approved by Tim Burton himself. However, with the official website listing only a “brand new, devilish show to the sound of your favourite Disney hits” starring “the witches”, has another new Halloween plan already been scuppered?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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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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.
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)…
And the water channels leading to the drinking fountains beside La Cabane des Robinson.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
The new logo has been completed on the outside…
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?
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?
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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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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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!
Wonderful. Utmost appreciation to whoever made this happen.
Unsure what to expect, we reported in February with the slightly cheeky title, ‘Widening the Party escape routes‘, that the famous pathways around the foot of Central Plaza were undergoing some of their first modifications since the opening of Disneyland Park back in 1992.
The park is “famous” for these kind of pathways because they’re so different to almost every other Magic Kingdom-style park, snaking through the greenery of the plaza and providing perfect, quick escape routes after a nighttime parade or fireworks. Would the modifications open them up too much, ruin the clever layout?
Luckily, not at all! The two affected areas are the pathway from Crockett Road (left of Main Street) to Frontierland, which has been widened, and the patio seating areas of Plaza Gardens, one of which has been opened up with with an extra set of stairs.
How does it look in real life? Well, admin Scrooge of Disney Magic Interactive forum has posted up and excellent series of before and after views — let’s take a look…
Crockett Road before:
The entire path has been widened quite significantly, but more noticeable from Main Street is that the entrance has been opened up with a much bigger curve, pushing the plants right back as far as the gas lantern. The new path will make this alternative route much clearer, allowing guests to bypass Central Plaza completely (when it’s taken over by It’s Party Time, several times a day).
Notice, though, that another famous detail of the park has still been implemented back into the path — the change between the lands. Suddenly, the clean stone curbs of Main Street become a rocky stone border as you set off en route for the Far West!
Plaza Gardens before:
This change is a little more daring for the people re-Imagineering the hub. These terrace areas were previously very hidden amongst the gardens, accessible only by a single pathway. Now, as you walk toward Plaza Gardens Restaurant from the hub, they’ve connected up the area on your right with the pathway which leads from the Tips Board to Discovery Arcade.
There’s now therefore the possibility of an additional route between Main Street and the eastern side of Central Plaza, for Discoveryland and Fantasyland, plus the benefit that more people might discover these often-overlooked seating areas.
All in all, some fairly minimal changes to ease flow through the Plaza during shows, completed to a very high standard indeed. Only a fan would know the paths weren’t always like this.
In fact, only fans like us would care! Happy exploring…
Two years ago, when this old Dumbo parade float, originally created for The Wonderful World of Disney Parade in 1998, was converted into Disney Characters’ Express for the 15th Anniversary, it was perhaps the hit of the season. In one event, it brought frequent life to Main Street, U.S.A. and fulfilled many guests’ wishes for more — and more easily accessible — character meet ‘n’ greets.
And yesterday, Saturday 21st March, guests were given their very first look at the newly-redecorated engine and carriages, as a certain mouse climbed on-board Minnie’s Party Train for a special trial run, captured in these photos by julien59 on Disney Central Plaza forum…
On the whole, any blue of the old Disney Characters’ Express has simply been replaced with red polka dots for this new overlay, though there are a few exceptions — the roofs inside the carriages for example, previously white, are now red polka dots, too.
The concept art and latest marketing visual were ultimately fairly accurate, with the concept art’s colourful streamers at least making it to final design here, even if they didn’t for the lampposts of Main Street. The blue flags atop the old train are replaced by those famous Minnie Mouse bows.
However, the Mickey Mouse shapes on the top of each carriage don’t carry the logo of either the celebration or the new Party Trainas proposed, given (arguably nicer) polka dot backgrounds instead.
And of course, as the introduction described, the redecorated train certainly looks a little more blushing than its predecessor. Though all previous concepts and images showed the face remaining white with the eyes given red rather than blue outlines, the final design has kept the blue outlines — with the red instead applied to the entire face!
Fans of the previous event need not be too worried by Minnie’s commandeering, however, since the ridiculously-popular soundtrack song Tous en Train has remained — now with frequent interruptions from the new hostess.
Suddenly, the more regal, minimal Disney Characters’ Express seems very dour indeed compared to this colourful new design. Though we do hope his nasty illness clears up, before the grand premiere on 4th April…
Well, it comes with great delight to see that the “Quelle horreur!” most fans were preparing can now be replaced by a more positive “Quelle surprise!”. Pourquoi? Because the overlay of multi-coloured “streamers”, Mickey Mouse shapes and blue Mickey’s Magical Party logos that had been in planning for over six months has been cancelled!
On Wednesday evening, member Mouetto of Disney Central Plaza forum spotted the first four lampposts in place, looking very familiar indeed.
In fact, the only thing to have changed is the banners themselves — now replaced by light blue designs showing the image of Mickey, Goofy, Donald and Pluto peeking out of a Mickey Mouse-shape, surrounded by “Welcome!” written in different languages.
The new resort logo is featured below (no park-personalisation here), and the designs alternate between the French and English logos for the year — La Fête Magique de Mickey on one side, Mickey’s Magical Party the other.
So, why the sudden and rather large change in direction? Did they read the fans’ reaction? Did they realise themselves the design wasn’t exactly in-keeping with the turn-of-the-century street? Perhaps, but there’s also the fact that this design will be far, far cheaper…
Today, Saturday 21st March, the entire street of seasonal lampposts is complete:
And so, the Walt Disney World-style colourful streamers which were meant to wrap themselves physically around the lampposts have been restrained to sit as a graphic on the banner and Main Street looks little different — banner design aside — to how it has for the past two years.
It should be noted these new banners don’t feature any LED lights embedded in them, though anyone who’s visited the resort since late last year can tell you that this magical effect had actually long been defunct (since many were broken and not repaired) and replaced by simply shining light on the banners instead.
Judging by Mouetto‘s latest photos, above, there also appear to be only 24 lampposts — 12 on each side — rather than the full set of 26. Could this be a realisation that the final pair, nearest Central Plaza, served only to block views of fireworks?
Twenty-four banners not enough for you? Well, you’re in luck. Take a stroll out through Fantasia Gardens and the resort hub and you’ll find them swamped with smaller versions of the decorations, replacing all the old 15th Anniversary banners. They’ve even made their way to the Disney Hotels.
We all expected Mickey’s Magical Party to repeat the successful elements of the 15th, but perhaps not quite so closely. One area where Mickey won’t be attempting to implant party decorations appears to be the Disneyland Park entrance itself, which has just been returned to normal after two years of some very sympathetic “15” plaques replacing its castle design.
Sometimes, having a little restraint can be good for Disneyland.
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