Monday, 20th February 2012

Main Street, U.S.A. celebrates early as golden bunting begins to adorn the town

Like gold? Like bunting? Then this 20th Anniversary year Main Street, U.S.A. will be your kinda’ town! Despite the countdown clock still standing at more than a month before festivities begin, the town has already begun to receive its commemorative overlay. From tentative beginnings on the awning of Casey’s Corner, semi-circular gold and white bunting has begun to line the entire town. Coming in a large and small size depending on the location, these shimmering fans of fabric can already be spotted hanging from The Emporium, Walt’s – An American Restaurant, Lilly’s Boutique, Disney & Co., Boardwalk Candy Palace, Cable Car Bake Shop and Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlour.

This follows months of complete restorations to buildings including Walt’s and Gibson Girl, plus numerous ongoing clean-ups and repaints right across the street.


Bunting is the traditional way for the other Main Streets around the world to celebrate the seasons and events of the park, fitting naturally within the turn-of-the-century streetscape. While this particular style of flashy gold might require a small leap of period theme, it’s certainly favourable to the oversized banners of the 15th Anniversary — or pretty much any overlay to have come before it. Along with the culling of the Pumpkin Men from Halloween and unsympathetic decorations from Sleeping Beauty Castle, it continues a reaffirmed desire to respect the park’s original landscapes and stories when decorating for seasonal occasions; refreshing the environments more subtly — and effectively.

These decorations form part of the Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! event. Marketed as a “unique celebration of magic, lights and colours with even more twinkles and memorable glowings-on than ever before,” it sounds like this spot of bunting might just be the first of the street’s surprises…

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Thursday, 16th February 2012

‘Disney Dreams!’ fountains fill castle moat as installation project fights winter freeze

The Disney Dreams! are well on their way, and the most anticipated element of this all-new nighttime spectacular surely has to be: the fountains. A show made of jumping water in the castle moat once seemed a thing of fantasy but, as these latest photos from DisneyGazette.fr confirm, it’s fast becoming a reality. Technical equipment low litters the entire moat of Sleeping Beauty Castle, dotting its length with mysterious brown boxes and running a ring of water jets around its perimeter.

Even as rainwater has frozen solid on the drained bed, work hurries ahead to install the piece of this 20th Anniversary spectacular. So what exactly are we looking at? As expected, it’s a more modest array of wet effects than the enormous (and almost entirely water-based) World of Color, and the fountains installed so far can roughly be grouped into three types of kit…

First up: those long, rectangular boxes, with a bronze spout poking out one end, will be the show’s main fountains. Creating a vertical wall of water running across the width of Central Plaza, extending all the way from the entrance to La Tanière du Dragon to the wishing well and Le Théâtre du Château, they will likely be illuminated from below using a ring of colour-changing LED lights fixed around the spout. There’s a chance some of these 40-or-so fountains will have different capabilities, perhaps the ability to move, as their set-up seems to slightly differ in one or two places.

Meanwhile the moat, usually a protective ring around its neighbouring fortress itself, has been encircled by curious and very long rods of smaller spouts. Connected via a single pipe and tube, there are three of these installations with two on the left side of the drawbridge (either side of the Dragon’s bridge) and one larger array on the right (seen in the first photo above).

Likely to be much lower powered, these spouts will probably be used to add “bulk” to the base of the water display, either as jets of water or more likely a mist effect. Rather than a line of solitary fountains shooting up from the castle moat, this should create a more magical haze of water coming to life in the moat, which can itself be illuminated to add dramatic effect.

Finally, two huge brown boxes at the far ends, either side of the display, are easiest to decipher. These high-powered jets come in two sets of six fountains, their workings specially enclosed as one complete unit. Apparently capable of shooting at least as high as the castle itself (!) we’re guessing thanks to compressed air, another technique brought in from World of Color, they are arranged as five fountains around a central, tallest jet. These incredible fountains were highlight in pink on the show scene model, below, revealed in the recent promo video.

Again, rather than having the castle stand solitary, these tall jets matching its height will help to “bulk out” the spectacle, making it a far more impressive and immersive experience.

A major point of difference with World of Color is that all these fountains have been fixed directly to the concrete bed of the moat. In California, the vast expanse of fountains is laid out across two platforms capable of being lifted out of the water for maintenance, rather than having to drain the entire Paradise Bay lagoon. In Paris, luckily, draining a smaller, shallower fairytale moat is much less daunting task.

If only the same could be said for the challenge now: correctly wiring up and testing each of these new fountains, in time for April 1st!

MORE PHOTOS DisneyGazette.fr

Monday, 13th February 2012

‘Disney Dreams!’ makes magic already with new Central Plaza show control booth

We’re dedicating this week on DLRP Today to Disney Dreams!, the main event of the 20th Anniversary that is set to transform the end of your day in the parks from 1st April 2012. But this hotly-anticipated new nighttime spectacular, from master of the artform Steve Davison, has already created a surprise or two in Disneyland Park. Following several months of mysterious ground works, leading a trail across Central Plaza, trees were completely cleared from a wooded area on the Frontierland side of Main Street, U.S.A. in mid September last year. By December, all was revealed: or was it?

On Wednesday 7th, a sharp, square building suddenly appeared on the plot, in a not-too-fetching shade of green to match the construction walls around it. “Quelle horreur!” we wailed — but only for 24 hours. In a spark of pre-fabricated Imagineering magic, the building — a grand new show control centre for Disney Dreams! — had taken on a whole new look the very next day. Just compare the two photos below by @InsideDLParis:

Now wood-panelled in green with crisp burgundy details, it certainly stands out but looks perfectly at home here on the fringes of Main Street. Capturing all the classic motifs of the street’s turn-of-the-20th-Century architecture, it has the elaborately-framed windows, porch awning and a curved copper roof, complete with spiky ironwork and bulbous flairs cut into its carpentry.


Though perfectly functional — check out that bank of seven huge windows on the front, giving an unparalleled view over the Disney Dreams! “arena” — this beauty has more than enough details to make it a decorative addition to the plaza, too. The circular window nestled in the roof is a delicate finishing touch, and the cabin could look even better in the warmer months ahead if softened up with flowers or more greenery. It’s certainly a huge upgrade in the former show control booth for Central Plaza Stage (pictured below), which has been blocking the pavement for several years. Removing this uninspired obstruction will free up even more space to watch the new show.

But how does it fit into the “story”? With its wooden trellis arch and location right in the middle of Main Street’s Central Plaza park, perhaps we could imagine it’s the gardener’s lodge — rather than a high-tech show control booth soon to be sending fountains, fireworks and lasers soaring.

It has already had the chance to test some elements of Disney Dreams!, at least. The still below, from last month’s promo video, shows a technician lining up the numerous projectors which will map HD video onto the towers and turrets of Sleeping Beauty Castle using the state-of-the-art “Hippotizer” system.

Come April 1st, the tension inside will surely belie the gentile appearance, as it will all rest on this unsuspecting little park lodge to launch Disney Dreams! off without hitch…

MORE PHOTOS Disney Dreams! Control Booth (Photos Magiques)

Friday, 10th February 2012

Disneyland Paris launches first 20th Anniversary TV spot in Spain, with animated Disney “sueños”

That’s “Disney Dreams!” to you and me. Spain got a first look at the new 20th Anniversary commercials this week, with a 30-second TV spot featuring Mickey Mouse guiding a family from the streets around the Eiffel Tower to Disneyland Paris. Where, with Sleeping Beauty Castle illuminated and characters flying through the skies, they’re duly treated to an “eyeful” of the park’s new nighttime spectacular.

With much artistic licence, we see Captain Hook duelling with Peter Pan around the castle’s spire, then Crush and a group of Finding Nemo sea turtles “swimming” across the sky. The new “Second Star to the Right” effect, shining brightly from the top window of the castle, is featured throughout. Like most adverts in recent years, the park scenes appear to have been shot on a Main Street looking suspiciously like that of California or Hong Kong. But here, the lights of the buildings appear to glow that bit brighter — perhaps a clue to the enigmatic Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates event advertised in brochures?




If your español is patchy, or you’d just like to see this on your own television screen, we can confirm that the resort’s 20th Anniversary TV campaign will begin in the UK around 24th February and continue right through to 24th June. Initially, this will be in the form of 10-second “tactical” adverts, designed to create word of mouth. With Mickey seen in this advert near the Eiffel Tower, there’s some suggestion the Disney characters could be pictured at landmarks across Europe, “gathering up” guests for the impending anniversary, to give the continent-spanning campaign a true sense of its own scale.

Video of the first 30-second commercial follows below… Read More…

Thursday, 2nd February 2012

Central Plaza swaps unpopular stage for temporary tents as remodel hits sub-zero weather

If you’re reading this in Europe, no doubt you’ve felt a very seasonal but very sharp chill in the air this past week as winter has belatedly made its mark. Disney Parks, magical as they are, aren’t exempt from wild fluctuations of temperature either, which can lead to such surprising measures as this: covering the whole of Central Plaza in a series of temporary tents to make sure its remodel meets the deadline. With the over-dominating stage now consigned to history, the plaza has been left open and levelled for the first time since 2006. Disneyland Paris now faces the daunting prospect of ensuring it is completely rebuilt ready for the premiere of Disney Dreams! in less than two months.

The encampment grew from a single, open-sided tent on Tuesday to three tents on Wednesday (below right) and eventually five, fully-enclosed tents today (bottom). Surprisingly, the whole area had been completely flattened, with all existing concrete dug up and railings taken down.


But is this a simple case of repaving? Conspiracy theories abound: forums and Twitter have been buzzing with the belief that Disney must be hiding something inside these structures. Rumours from last year of a new fountain on Central Plaza, that could function normally during the day but burst into multi-coloured life as part of the new nighttime show, were immediately resurrected. However, plans for the programming of the “fountain package” featured in the 20th Anniversary preview video didn’t appear to show any such addition; the middle of the plaza was left entirely empty.

Temperatures in Marne-la-Vallée for the next week are forecast for highs of 0°C and crippling lows of -8°C tonight, so the tents themselves are surely just sensible precautions to ensure the work is completed on time. As for the remodel itself, one thing we’d particularly like to see would be the lampposts around the middle of the plaza replaced with lower, shoulder-height lamps just like those in the specially-built World of Color viewing area in California, for example. For 20 years, guests have had their views of castle shows and fireworks impeded by those poorly-placed bulbs.

With the inner circle of lampposts — and much of the plaza — now hidden inside these mysterious tents, how will the heart of the park look when they come down…?

PHOTOS VIA @InsideDLParis

Saturday, 21st January 2012

Disney Characters All Star Party Express to return… as 20th Anniversary Celebration Train


Time for lemonade and Cracker Jacks, Casey Junior’s back, Casey Junior’s back!” — You didn’t think he’d miss the 20th Anniversary, did you? Yes, the endlessly reincarnated train, last seen as the Disney Dance Express, will return again from April 2012!

At least this time, for the first time since his return as the Disney Characters’ Express five years ago, Disneyland Paris decided against giving him “new attraction” billing in the brochure. Too busy ramping the colour saturation up to “maximum”, perhaps.

Your thoughts?

Friday, 13th January 2012

Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary preview video reveals “Disney Dreams!” – and more surprises

“We’re gonna bring the Second Star to the Right and ignite it above the castle…” It’s not a sentence you hear every day but, in this exciting new preview video for the 20th Anniversary released by Disneyland Paris today, Steve Davison casually drops it in amongst a plethora of other surprises. Walt Disney Imagineering’s Creative Director of Entertainment, famed for his work on Fantasmic! and World of Color, joins a number of backstage artists to tease us on the new additions for the anniversary. Show director Katy Harris tells us about the new Mickey Mouse meet ‘n’ greet, while Emmanuel Lenormand shows off detailed concept art for Disney Magic on Parade! and its new costumes.

But it’s the section on Disney Dreams! which is the most surprising — even breathtaking. Real previews are shown of the new castle projection effects, which have been in testing for some time, along with confirmation that the show will feature not just projections, not just fountains, but lasers, pyrotechnics, fire, an original musical score, and perhaps most importantly: a story! When the Second Star to the Right ignites above the castle, the “Disney Dreams” pour out and come to life in “new ways”.

Watch the exciting new preview video below!

Senior technical director Chuck Davis reveals the Imagineers at Creative Entertainment have mapped the whole castle with “pixel accurate video” so it can “do all kinds of great tricks”, while Dave Bossert confirms that water screens will be installed in front of the castle, creaing a huge new canvas for the show to take place on. Particularly interesting to note: Dave is the director of Special Projects at Walt Disney Feature Animation, showing the breadth of Disney talent being combined for this new show.

It’s a rare but incredibly welcome step for Disneyland Paris to let the talent behind its magic tell the stories of new projects like these for once. Similar videos are consistently produced for other resorts, notably California, and always serve to provide both a more exciting teaser for what’s next and a more inspiring insight into the work required to achieve it.

“So that at the end of your day, you can walk away and go: wow, that was cool!”

VIA Disneyland Paris (YouTube)

Thursday, 17th November 2011

20th Anniversary Disneyland Paris brochure now available, events line-up confirmed

Here it is: the 20th Anniversary Disneyland Paris brochure! The multicoloured edition has been spotted out in the wild at travel agents in the UK since its limited launch a couple of weeks ago, but now it’s available online for all to see. Check it out here. Of course, there are new prices, new options and yet another new design for all the pages, but it’s the 20th Anniversary events and images we want to see. The final line-up to make the brochure cut is modest but promising. Star of the show in 2012 will no doubt be Dreams – the “magical, immersive” nighttime spectacular that’s due to take over the Castle, Central Plaza and even Main Street with projections, special effects and — yes — at least a few fountains, as it plunges guests inside a journey through classic Disney dreams.

Also given top billing is Disney Magic on Parade!, actually a reworking of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade that will see the 15th Anniversary‘s showstopper (certainly the best parade ever to be seen in Paris) given new costumes, music and characters. The current Dreams of Romance Finale float will be turned into a mountain ledge for Sorcerer Mickey, with the gang expected to appear in their spangly multi-coloured outfits seen throughout the brochure, while the original opening float will become home to the fairies, wizards and sorcerers of the Disney world. Oddly, that appears to oust the Princesses from the parade almost entirely, although Rapunzel and Flynn are said to be taking over from Aladdin and Jasmine on the smaller Romance Prelude float to freshen up that aspect.

The new magician-themed permanent meet ‘n’ greet for Mickey is advertised simply as Meet Mickey Mouse, while the fourth and final 20th Anniversary event is the mysterious Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates. The brochure blurb is suitably blurry but its references to “twinkles” and “glowings-on” are spot on with our sources, suggesting a gold theme for the street and certainly a lot of lights…

As we revealed in September, longer opening hours for Disneyland Park are due to be one of the big bonuses of the year. Advertised as 20th Anniversary Extended Hours, they’re confirmed to be in operation from 1st April to 30th September 2012, although there’s no mention of just how many extra hours we can expect beyond the usual closing time. Presumably, just as many as it takes for the park to see nightfall, providing a suitable canvas for Dreams.

Whilst the 20th Anniversary doesn’t coincide with any major attraction investments, the chance to stay in the park until nightfall every day of the year represents a big gear-change for Disneyland Paris. Add to that a real, signature finale to each day with Dreams — produced by Disneyland California entertainment legend Steve Davison and the team behind World of Color, did we forget to mention? — and the culmination of a huge investment in refurbishments. Looks like an E-Ticket year here.

VIA Disneyland Paris 2012 Brochure

Tuesday, 27th September 2011

Halloween: New decorations, new shows, no pumpkinmen for a more “Disney” HalloweenTime

Halloween 2011 Preview — Something strange has come over Disneyland Paris. As we approach the launch of Disney’s Halloween Festival this Saturday, you’ll see not a hastily-crafted static Pumpkinman in sight. Instead, the decorations are new, the pumpkins have ears and Castle Stage… has come back to life. At last this season appears to be heading in the right direction. After years trailing around misguided creations such as the Pumpkinmen, Pink Witches and Stitch, Paris — the Disney resort which pioneered the Halloween season in 1997 (before trashing it all with orange paint in 2003) — has now looked to Disneyland in California for inspiration. This year, we’re seeing brand new decorations lifted directly from the Anaheim park’s popular HalloweenTime. High quality, considerately-designed and most importantly more “Disney” in their execution as well as their style, they should go a long way to giving Disneyland Paris guests the Halloween they expect from the park.

For fans, it’s a double surprise. As well as a park plussed rather than spoilt by the season, the majority of those new decorations have so far arrived at Le Théâtre du Château, which will be coming back to life to host the new Mickey’s Halloween Treat in the Street event. Vines wrap their way around the bronze columns, pumpkins top the towers and a giant Mickey-shaped pumpkin head (similar to that on Town Square in California) is the centrepiece. The mini-show will feature the full line-up of Mickey and friends in special costumes and dialogue in both French and English. After highlighting several times this year what a wasted opportunity the stage is, it’s a delight to see it fully decorated and back in use.

Plans for Main Street, U.S.A. seem a little lower spec, with just colour-coordinated flower beds, Mickey-eared pumpkins and a spot of bunting on the concept we’ve seen, but it’s still a step up from last year’s near complete lack of Halloween decoration on the street. Hopefully now that Disneyland Paris has finally found the right path for its Halloween decorations, Main Street will gradually begin to match the warm and vibrant Harvest “Pumpkin Festival” theme seen in California (below).

Meanwhile, one old decision hangs on, for a little while longer at least: Central Plaza Stage. That behemoth will at least be hosting a big new show, titled Disney’s Maleficious Halloween Party, which amongst other surprises is said to see Snow White’s Evil Queen transform into a Witch, courtesy of the stage lifts, and Dr Facilier from The Princess and the Frog return to the park.

Rumour suggests Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade won’t feature its usual Halloween pre-parade this year, although Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas will be making a return for meet ‘n’ greets, despite not being mentioned in any publicity. It remains to be seen if Halloweenland will return to Frontierland in any form. In truth, the land has felt more like a boneyard for discarded decorations rather than a proper overlay for the past few years, anyway. A cleaning out of the junk and a shot in the arm in quality is exactly what the festival needed.

• More: Disney’s Halloween Festival preview guide on DLRP Magic.com

• Next: We preview each of the three Halloween parties in detail!

PHOTO 1 @InsideDLParis (Twitter), PHOTOS 2-3 Dateline Disneyland (MiceChat)

Monday, 12th September 2011

Central Plaza tree clearance leads a trail to Castle moat… and 20th Anniversary dreams?

Central Plaza tree felling

When Disneyland Paris opened on 12th April 1992, the greenery of this luscious Disney park had been given less than five years to bed in on this previously rather barren expanse of Marne-la-Vallée. Now, after almost 20 years, it looks like it actually requires a little pruning. At least, that could be the first thought when fences went up around a block of greenery just off Central Plaza on 29th August. All the trees in this patch next to the terrace of Casey’s Corner had been marked for removal and, sure enough, just two days later a whole new vista was opened up…

Central Plaza tree felling

Trees are frequently replanted in Disney parks when they outgrow their surroundings, to maintain the correct scale with the forced-perspective buildings around them. But is that the entire story here? Along with the foliage updates, @InsideDLParis on Twitter has been charting a number of other interesting works going on around the hub of Disneyland Park. In particular, bright yellow ramps covering up works to the floor, seen below.

Central Plaza electrical wire installation Central Plaza electrical wire installation

What’s interesting here is that, from left to right, the work leads a trail all the way from this freshly-pruned patch across the entrances of Frontierland and Adventureland, seemingly leading all the way to the Castle moat. And today, more holes have appeared (photo) on the other side of the plaza, on the pavement nearest to Plaza Gardens Restaurant, seemingly leading into the planter behind the Central Plaza Stage’s show control booth.

We’ve marked all the works on the map below, showing the felled area in red and the trail of temporary ground works in yellow. What do you think — are plans already going into action for next year’s rumoured new nighttime spectacular?

Rough overview of 2011 Central Plaza work

It seems like a good moment to get up-to-date on those plans, anyway. Launching as the main event of the 20th Anniversary next April, we’re expecting a big and bold new evening show to take over this entire area. A real signature event for the park, combining water with projections, lighting effects and pyrotechnics. Possibly even live “show” elements on or around the central stage.

With noisy old-fashioned fireworks causing problems with local villages and no money for a vast Fantasmic-style arena, Disneyland Paris has always been a bit of a party pooper with its nighttime entertainment. Now, after 20 years, it looks like Disneyland Paris management at last want to give a day in their park a real grand finale. That is, after all, one of the key draws of every other Disney park.

This wouldn’t be a nighttime event that simply runs along the parade route or launches a few fizzles into the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle. It would, for all intents and purposes, be our World of Color: Those “fountains” we saw testing are likely to actually be the same kind of huge water screens used in that Disney California Adventure show-stopper, throwing plumes of water up from the moat with projections of Disney characters. This will be something that attempts to envelop this whole area of the park in a colourful, dazzling, immersive experience. Something you can only truly see for yourself, in reality, not filmed on YouTube.

Finally, a big finale is all well and good, but not if it has to happen during daylight (remember the not-so- “illuminating” Candleabration of the 15th Anniversary?) So here’s a real show-stopping rumour: longer park opening hours, throughout the year.

Disneyland Paris has been a beauty of a Disney park for 20 years. In 2012, it will start acting like one.

PHOTOS VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

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