Tuesday, 27th March 2012

Final Central Plaza alterations completed ahead of Disney Dreams! premiere

Central Plaza alterations (C) @InsideDLParis

It’s going to be easy to forget soon with the premiere of Disney Dreams! but, until this year, Disneyland Paris has never had a true nighttime spectacular. Fireworks from the original Fantasia in the Sky to the later Enchanted Fireworks have always been a feature, but Disneyland Park has never seen a nightly, year-round evening show to finish the day. It’s a big step-change for the daily operation of the park and even the landscape is reflecting that.

On the left side of Central Plaza, the new control centre building arrived with a big change the previously wooded landscape near Frontierland, opening up more vistas. Now, on the other side of the plaza, a final adjustment has seen the pathway widened near Plaza Gardens Restaurant, creating more space for guests to hop around the crowds on the hub, or leave the park swiftly after the show.

Central Plaza alterations (C) @InsideDLParisCentral Plaza alterations (C) @InsideDLParis

This follows similar adjustments to pathways on both sides of the hub in 2009, when the route through to Frontierland was widened and a new set of stairs were added to ease guest flow around Plaza Gardens. At the time, these were largely to offset the problems caused by dropping a whopping great stage in the middle of the park, but this year they’ll come into their own as smart preparations for Central Plaza’s new role as viewing space for a real nighttime spectacular.

One final change which may not be so popular, however, is the conversion of several gas lamps along this pathway to electric. Though this kind of “progress” in Main Street, U.S.A. is never welcomed, the installation of electric light bulbs is probably a necessary change to ensure the path is well-lit before and after the show, allowing the rush of guests to arrive and leave safely. Besides, the side street nearest this spot, leading to Discoveryland, just happens to be fittingly titled “Edison Avenue”…

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis

Sunday, 25th March 2012

Giant ’20’ completes Main Street Station transformation as lights twinkle to life

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay

Tinker Bell — and a very bold ’20’ — have arrived at Main Street Station to complete its 20th Anniversary look for the Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! overlay. And with Tink’s added pixie dust, the whole thing has suddenly sparkled to life. Looking good!

The three special golden arches were installed at the front of the station late last week, featuring a swirling pattern and more embedded LED lights. The original “EDLRR” arches, with a rather more convincing late 19th Century look, thankfully remain beyond, simply repainted gold. Standalone stars, also embedded with LEDs, have been delicately scattered across the façade and railings above. The paint job of the entire façade appears fresh and clean in these photos by @InsideDLParis.

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlayMain Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay

For added effect, the castle silhouette on the four golden plaques is illuminated from behind to create a glow around the icon itself. Less successful, if we can pass one criticism, are the well-integrated but rather dull golden swirls which have replaced the four “EDLRR” roundels on the railings. Were they really necessary to complete the look? An overlay should be exactly that: it should never remove nice details, not unless the replacement can match the quality.

As for the gold paintwork, the wall extending out from the two furthest pillars (pictured in the first photo at the top) appears to be missing gold paint on top, creating an odd mix. Nevertheless, with the original “test pillar” over on the far left of the station now back to its original stone colour, the golden repaint has probably not turned out as dramatic as some expected (or feared).

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay

Only needed now to complete the transformation is the sparkling glow of Tinker Bell’s pixie dust trail, which circles around the giant ’20’. Small dots can be seen all along its length, which will presumably be lit to give an effect similar to that used for the 15th Anniversary‘s Tinker Bell statue atop Sleeping Beauty Castle. Hopefully this one won’t outstay its welcome quite the same.

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Saturday, 24th March 2012

Main Street Paris imports California’s new music loop featuring “Up”, “Hello Dolly”

Main Street, U.S.A.

Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Paris won’t just look a little different for its 20th Anniversary year, it’ll sound different too. A new background music loop is now playing during daytime, swiftly imported from Disneyland in California. Introduced at Walt’s original kingdom on 9th January this year, the new loop was noted not just for its fresh new recordings of many Main Street ragtime “classics”, but the addition of brand new music, including a suite of music from Disney-Pixar’s Up. All were newly recorded especially for the park by Dean Mora and his Orchestra.

The changeover suffered a flaky start on Wednesday, when the new music reportedly played through until 4pm followed by a long silence, returned for five minutes, then faded out for the regular afternoon loop. Disneyland Paris will thankfully retain its unique feature over the other parks of having two background music loops on Main Street, a lively “AM” loop played from opening to 4pm, and a gentler, more sentimental “PM” loop played from 4pm to park closing. This new loop replaces the former “AM” loop only, and is perhaps somewhat calmer than that frenzied mix. As well as the new suite of “Married Life” from Up by Michael Giacchino, it introduces “Put on Your Sunday Clothes”, that famous “Hello Dolly!” song memorably used in Disney-Pixar’s WALL-E, to Paris’ Main Street loop.

Upon announcing the new loop for California, the Disney Parks Blog noted that this was the first time the famous street’s music had changed in 20 years — the last time being when, shortly after the opening of Disneyland Paris, new recordings made for our park were brought over to Anaheim to update their soundtrack. It seems fitting, then, that in the 20th Anniversary year, a new music loop should cross back over the Atlantic; a birthday gift from one Magic Kingdom to another.

Listen to a live recording of the loop and find a full tracklisting below… Read More…

Friday, 23rd March 2012

Tony Baxter Imagineering Masterclass leads confirmed April 12th events programme

Tony Baxter, 1992 (C) Disney

Planning to celebrate the exact date of Disneyland Paris’ 20th Anniversary, on 12th April 2012? You’re not the only one. We’ve now had it confirmed that Tony Baxter will be present at the park, in person, on the heralded date. Senior Vice President of Creative Development at Walt Disney Imagineering and the original lead creative force behind Disneyland Paris, the legendary Imagineer will answer questions and talk about the history of the park during a special “Imagineering Masterclass” at Videopolis Theatre from 10.45am to 11.45am. Places are open to all but strictly limited to the size of the venue.

Given his legendary status amongst Disneyland Paris fans, having led the overall design of the park and its five key show producers — Eddie Sotto (Main Street, U.S.A.), Jeff Burke (Frontierland), Chris Tietz (Adventureland), Tom Morris (Fantasyland) and Tim Delaney (Discoveryland), it looks set to be an unmissable hour. After the presentation, which will include a Q&A for fans to put their own questions to Tony, video screens inside Videopolis will continue to play archive footage from the resort’s history throughout the day.

Also scheduled for the grand date is a special morning event held by Philippe Gas. The company CEO himself will welcome guests to the park with a personal ceremony on Town Square at 9.30am, to be followed by a much-rumoured — and now officially announced — Cast Member “flashmob”.

The exact details of this moment of music and dance remain a secret, but Cast Members have voluntarily signed up to give their time for the occasion. Park gates will open at 9.00am to allow guests into Town Square, in advance of the ceremony, with the park itself officially opening at 10am. Extra Magic Hours on this date will be held instead at Walt Disney Studios Park — but you’re not going to trade a one-off date in history for a shorter queue at Crush’s Coaster, are you?

Character fans should look out for special one-off happenings and surprises all around the park throughout the day, including appearances from some of the more rarely seen Disney characters. All of these events and times will be listed in a special edition of the park Programme.

For collectors, besides special editions of the free Park Guide leaflets which will only be available on April 12th, there will even be dated merchandise. On sale in strictly limited quantities, a “golden key” pin and both a male and female T-shirt design, pictured above, all with the 12th April 2012 date.

Those who took a gamble and booked trips to coincide with the date, having no guarantee that it would even be commemorated, have certainly been duly rewarded. And for those who hesitated, this surprising programme of events may well be more than enough to encourage a last-minute trip. But given the very late nature of this announcement, it could now be difficult — and perhaps expensive — for those who can’t easily jump on the next RER train to experience the date for themselves at just three weeks’ notice, especially as it falls within the busy Easter holiday period.

Do you plan to be there to mark the date, and experience these events for yourself?

Thursday, 22nd March 2012

Main Street Station 20th transformation continues as leaked concept reveals final plan

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay (C) DisneyGazette.fr

Main Street Station‘s new marquee, which appeared yesterday, really is the final product and will be in place for a least a year, through the whole 20th Anniversary celebrations. But it’s also only the start of the station façade’s transformation into a glittering, golden entrance to the park. Today, the changes continued at pace with the addition of golden plaques on each of the freshly-painted golden columns and static golden bunting across the top of its windows.

The bunting is fixed in place by buttons decorated with stars, and the whole lot will sparkle with LED lights thanks to those wires currently tied up at each side.

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay (C) @InsideDLParis

Featuring the original 1992 silhouette of Sleeping Beauty Castle, which was once a part of the Euro Disney logo and branding, the plaques on the columns down below are a nice throwback to the park’s history. But they have a modern twist: more embedded LED lights!

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay (C) @InsideDLParisMain Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay (C) @InsideDLParis

Less technically advanced is the method for making the trees inside Main Street, U.S.A. itself sparkle: circular hanging mirror discs, strewn across their branches. Currently looking a little cheap, they’ll hopefully work better when leaves begin to grow and they catch the glint of the springtime sun.

Back on the station, and as well as these additions there are also quite a few things missing. Besides the original red marquee, four of the “EDLRR” roundels have been taken away and, as of today, the three iron arches at the front of the concourse. It appears that simply repainting these gold won’t be enough: the arches here will be replaced by a whole new design, incorporating a swirling star pattern. The station’s final appearance after all these changes was revealed in a leaked concept art today:

Main Street Station 20th Anniversary overlay concept art

In the context of that giant “20”, the plain “Disneyland Paris” on the main marquee (rather than any reference to Main Street) perhaps makes a little more sense, simplifying the introduction. The star designs replacing the “ELDRR” symbols are disappointing, however, and the swirly arches, replacing the refined originals, give a nightmarish vision of what if Disney dropped immersive, relatable worlds like Main Street in its parks and instead covered everything with generic pixie dust patterns.

But the enormous, three-dimensional “20” makes a grand welcome and the entire vision is far and away the best transformation of Main Street Station we’ve ever seen. That’s not much of a compliment, given some of the travesties it has seen in its 20 years, so let’s say instead that, for a temporary overlay, it looks really quite delightful indeed.

PHOTO 1 DisneyGazette, PHOTOS 2-4 @InsideDLParis (Twitter), CONCEPT RadioDisneyClub

Thursday, 22nd March 2012

2012 or ’92? New Central Plaza in sunshine resets the clock on timeless view

Central Plaza and Sleeping Beauty Castle (C) Nicolas71

Since Monday, guests have been able to walk right across Central Plaza for the first time since 2006. But these photos, taken Tuesday by Nicholas71 on Disney Central Plaza, almost seem to reset the clock even further. Be it the wide, open plaza, the fresh green grass, the newly-restored Sleeping Beauty Castle or the recent tree clearance over on the Fantasyland side of this famous view, it almost looks like we’re stepping into the park for the very first time again. Truly a vast improvement on the closed gates and obstructive stage guests have had to navigate around for too many years.

On Central Plaza itself, benches have returned to the middle of the plaza for the first time in almost six years, making it once again the perfect place for meeting and people watching. Meanwhile, two lampposts on the castle side are now curiously absent, their bases covered by green boxes.

They’re not the only things missing from this view: tree clearance over by the Fantasyland Gate (far-right of the photo) has uncovered the walled kingdom in the distance, while at least two cuboid trees have been completely removed from the right-hand side of the castle. Both changes could either be in preparation for Disney Dreams!, or just part of the habitual “resetting the clock” which Disney does; replanting or removing trees which have grown too big for the fixed scale of the park.

Central Plaza and Sleeping Beauty Castle (C) Nicolas71

Looking back towards Main Street, U.S.A., the new “Parks Landscaping Department” show control building for Disney Dreams! blends seamlessly into the town. The old show control kiosk, on the left of the plaza, remains in place for now. As for the plaza, the improvement speaks for itself.

PHOTOS Nicholas71 (Disney Central Plaza)

Wednesday, 21st March 2012

Main Street Station’s golden 20th Anniversary overlay introduces new entrance marquee

Main Street Station celebrates (C) RadioDisneyClub

How many guests stepping inside Disneyland Park today noticed this change, then? As the ongoing Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! overlay of the eponymous street continues with daily progress, golden bunting now covering the majority of the street, here’s something to stop you in your tracks: a new sign on Main Street Station. In the place of the original, maroon sign this morning was this cream-coloured marquee. A temporary change while the regular signage is refurbished or altered, or a brand new addition? The rate things are changing, perhaps we should wait until tomorrow to see.

The new marquee’s all-over cream design takes some getting used-to compared to the more fanciful, bolder original sign. And then there’s the nomenclature: for now, just “Disneyland Paris”. Guests have already just walked under a “Disneyland Park” marquee on the other side of Disneyland Hotel, so by this point they should really be heading into Main Street, U.S.A., not reminded of the resort’s title. The regular sign had the compromise of “Main Street, U.S.A. – Disneyland Paris”, in place since 1994.

Main Street Station celebrates (C) RadioDisneyClubOriginal Main Street Station marquee

Also an oddity is the illustration of the castle which replaces the “EDLRR” symbol on the bib at the top of the sign. Pretty enough, surrounded by a burst of stars but, as you can see in the close-up provided by RadioDisneyClub here, it has been mirrored to face the wrong way round — though this certainly isn’t the first time in its life it has been altered to appear as such.

Main Street Station celebrates (C) RadioDisneyClubMain Street Station celebrates (C) RadioDisneyClub

The controversial repainting itself took a major step forward yesterday when guests arrived to find the four centre columns at the front of the station painted in alarming yellow undercoat. Today, the columns had already received a coat of gold paint on top, though the tone is much darker, closer to red or orange, than the gold used elsewhere in the street’s overlay. One whole series of five iron brackets underneath the station’s concourse have now received their golden paintwork, in a much more pleasing tone similar to the existing gold elements of the “EDLRR” symbols.

Golden bunting continues to manifest itself all around the street, including here on Main Street Station. Meanwhile a rather different — rather intriguing — form of bunting was spotted by @InsideDLParis running along the railings at the front of the station…

Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! (C) @InsideDLParisMain Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! (C) @InsideDLParis
Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! (C) @InsideDLParis

This metal cable-run, painted the same green as the railings, is expected to be used for the finishing touch of the station’s overlay: a glittering display of golden lights!

PHOTOS 1-2, 4-5 RadioDisneyClub, 6-8 @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Monday, 19th March 2012

Steve Davison shares first photos of completed, wall-free, stage-free Central Plaza!

It’s the dawn of a new day. Construction walls have finally come down in Central Plaza, revealing the finished repaving project across the hub of the park following the much-celebrated removal of the overbearing stage which had resided here since 2009. After seven weeks of work through freezing conditions into the milder days of early spring, the completed Central Plaza is now a vast expanse of smoothly-finished concrete pavement — no obstacles, no obstructions, just a perfect view of Sleeping Beauty Castle and of course, the impending Disney Dreams! nighttime spectacular.

In fact it was Steve Davison, the director of Disney Dreams!, who grabbed these very first photos of the plaza without construction walls at 6am this morning. Though we don’t entirely envy Team Dreams with their nocturnal work shifts, seeing dawn break over a wide, open Central Plaza is one well-deserved reward. Steve shared the first photo above with the comment: “WOW! What a wonderful view! No Wall! No Stage. Just a beautiful view of the Castle. Enjoy!” He followed this up with further praise for our castle and a clearer critique of the poorly-integrated stage: “It’s so much better without the stage. It blocked this amazing piece of architecture. WOW! What a castle!”

That certainly suggests we’re not the only ones happy to see that back of the enormous stage, which presented three consecutive shows of varying popularity. Beginning with It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends in 2009, it then saw the far superior Disney Showtime Spectacular in 2010, before whimpering to a close with Mickey’s Magical Celebration last year. Even before those shows, the plaza was taken up by a smaller stage for the 15th Anniversary Candleabration show in 2007 and 2008, and for the castle lighting show of the previous Christmas, meaning the plaza hasn’t been open for guests since as long ago as 2006.

Deciding not the reinstate the small circular flower bed in the middle of the hub was probably a wise idea for crowd control during Disney Dreams!, but does such an entirely bare Central Plaza make an ideal heart for the park? Couldn’t they have done something more interesting with the floor, or is it best to just let the castle take all the presence here? Whatever your opinion, you’ll no doubt at least agree with Steve Davison that the view opened up is “Simply beautiful!”. We have a lot to thank Team Dreams for. Longer park hours, a real, nightly nighttime spectacular, and now a Central Plaza back to how it should be. No stage, just a beautiful view of the castle.

VIA Steve Davison Fan Page (Facebook)

Sunday, 11th March 2012

First look: ‘Disney Dreams!’ fountains shoot into the sky, viewed from Disneyland Hotel

'Disney Dreams!' fountain tests seen from Disneyland Hotel [(C) Jérémy, DCP]

Disney Dreams! will have stunning projections, pyrotechnics, fire, a brand new orchestral score — the lot. But there’s no mistaking the most anticipated element of this 20th Anniversary spectacular: the fountains. And so the grand prize goes to Jérémy on Disney Central Plaza forum who, at 24 minutes past midnight, made Disneyland Paris history by posting the first clear photo of those 40-or-so main fountains shooting into the sky around Sleeping Beauty Castle. Taken from Disneyland Hotel, overlooking the park during nighttime testing, it’s the very first preview of what a Steve Davison fountain array looks like surrounding a Disney castle. Something you won’t see anywhere else in the world.

The height of the water erupting from those nondescript jets is incredible, easily as high as the main window at the top of the castle — and these aren’t even the most powerful jets. Twelve further nozzles, six on either side of the moat, will use a compressed air technique to intermittently blast water a good few metres more into the sky, apparently higher than the castle itself. And then we have to add the two enormous water screens on top, to complete the scene’s liquid special effects. The proximity to the castle is unusual and certainly dramatic, raising all kinds of questions — for example, what will happen to performances during high winds?

Lit here simply with a purple glow from below, the fountain array at this moment thankfully gives few spoilers for the actual show. It is simply an awe-inspiring glimpse of what’s to come.

PHOTO Jérémy (Disney Central Plaza)

Friday, 9th March 2012

“Do You Believe”, the new 20th Anniversary Celebration Train theme song – listen here!

Do you believe Disneyland Paris could have two brand new theme songs in a single 20th Anniversary year? You should — joining “Magic Everywhere” on the parade route from 1st April 2012 will be “Do You Believe”, a jazzy new chanson for Disney’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Train. After a year as the luminous Disney Dance Express, the old Character Express will return to its roots as a more conventional street cavalcade to transport the Disney characters up to Central Plaza. But alas, “Tous en Train”, the popular former soundtrack adapted from Tokyo Disneyland, which was remixed to breaking point with each consecutive re-theme of the train, is no more.

In its place, “Do You Believe” is a fresh new song by Scott Erickson, the go-to guy for Disney park entertainment songs who previously penned“Mickey’s Magical Party Time” for Disneyland Paris. Scott posted about the new music on his personal website in January, announcing: “I wrote a song with Valerie Vigoda that will be used in a character parade several times each day around the park. I’m always excited to get to work with my good friend, the music director at the park, Vasile Sirli!”

More of a self-contained song than the endlessly looped “Tous en Train”, the tune nevertheless follows all the regular conventions: overwrought “yeahs” and “oooh yeahs” over the opening, references to “it’s a small world after all” and making wishes upon stars. It’s bound to be a sensation.

Listen to the new song below and share your thoughts… Read More…

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