Friday, 23rd March 2012

Woody’s Roundup no more as Meet Mickey makes temporary Cottonwood Creek home

Mickey Mouse’s new home at Fantasy Festival Stage won’t be finished quite in time for the 20th Anniversary launch, we know that much for sure. But until the vague Spring 2012 opening date of his new magician-themed meet ‘n’ greet (or 17th May 2012 if you believe the rumours), the mouse will still find himself a temporary Meet Mickey Mouse location over in Frontierland.

Work has now started at the former Woody’s Roundup Village in the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area of the land, most recently used for the St David’s Day and St Patrick’s Day celebrations, to create an intermediate version of the attraction. Although, that “work” so far mainly consists of cordoning off the entrances to the old Critter Corral area with what @InsideDLParis rightly captions these photos as “red and white caution tape that should never be used in a Disney Park”. Beautiful!

The original “Woody’s Roundup” signage and photo locations have now been entirely removed from the area (most taken away before Halloween/Christmas), to make it a more generic character spot, perhaps a rare example of Pixar characters being removed from a land.

Heavier construction work continues in Fantasyland, meanwhile, with latest visible progress from outside the theatre showing walls going up around each of the bay windows. These were previously spaces at the back of the theatre’s seating which could be opened up in warmer summer weather. Now, the window on the right will form the attraction’s entrance while that on the left will be used as the exit and part of the photo sales counter.

Meet Mickey Mouse construction (C) @InsideDLParis

More rich red gloss paint has also been applied to the façade, which has lost its Fantasy Festival Stage signage. As for the inside, we can reveal that the layout will largely stay true to its theatre origins. Guests will queue back and forth roughly along the former rows of seating, with the centrepiece being the stage itself, where a projection screen will be installed.

Following the queue line up into the theatre’s real backstage area, they will enter a vestibule area before finally encountering Magician Mickey Mouse himself, in his backstage dressing room, littered with props similar to those seen in his Florida meet ‘n’ greet. Exit will be via the left-hand side of the theatre, past the souvenir photo wall and sales area in the left bay. Numerous other details, accessories and “animated posters” will complete the attraction.

We can also confirm that “Magician” Mickey here really will employ some special magic tricks, allowing him to shorten the queue time by as much as two or three times, depending on attendance…

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Friday, 17th February 2012

Disneyland Paris launches official 20th Anniversary website, no Flash required

If you follow @DLRPToday on Twitter, you might have got an early look when the site briefly went live on Wednesday, but now it’s here to stay: Disneyland Paris has launched its official 20th Anniversary web pages! This new mini-site, designed as a separate section of the main website, is notably more compact than previous efforts, but that has only to be applauded: if Disneyland Paris are going to put effort and money into their online activity, it needs to be put into the inadequate main website itself. There are no useless mini-games, no disjointed attempts at “social” interaction, just the main 20th Anniversary events laid out in simple and appealing pages. Check them out here.

Pages for Disney Dreams!, Disney Magic on Parade! and Meet Mickey Mouse feature video clips spliced from the full-length promo video already available on YouTube, while Disney’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Train and the 20th Anniversary Extended Hours are also featured. The final page, “Videos & Live Posts”, simply features a YouTube video and a Facebook plugin. Simple and effective.

Surprisingly, after several years moving away from the increasingly unpopular format (last year’s Magical Moments Festival mini-site appeared to make a point of being entirely non-Flash based), these new pages still arrive fairly heavy in Flash animations, at least for desktop users. But switch to an iPad or iPhone, which notably snub the processor-hogging medium, and there’s a second surprise: the pages still work! Yes, a static version of the main menu has also been produced, for web browsers without Flash to fall back to. Even the videos have been encoded in iOS-friendly formats.


The extent of the Disneyland Paris website on an Apple iOS device; sales totalling 250 million+

All of which makes it even more absurd that, if you jump back to the main Disneyland Paris homepage — or indeed, any page on the rest of the website — you’ll be simply provided with a “Flash Plugin Required” message, and no back-up page at all. No links are even provided for the resort’s separate ticket or package booking systems, which don’t require Flash, potentially losing “armchair” visitors who would like to browse the site or book without firing up their PC.

• Look out for DLRP Magic!‘s own complete guide to the 20th Anniversary, launching soon!

Thursday, 9th February 2012

‘Meet Mickey Mouse’ unveils new colours, but won’t meet 20th Anniversary launch date

“Everything neat and pretty?” Well, not quite. Although some of the wraps came down from Fantasy Festival Stage last week, revealing the former show venue’s new colour palette, it is emerging that its new purpose as a permanent Mickey Mouse meet ‘n’ greet won’t begin right at the launch of the 20th Anniversary as expected. Instead, according to @InsideDLParis, Mickey will don his magician’s cape ready for an opening on 17th May 2012. This is unconfirmed, publicly, by Disneyland Paris.

However, murmurs that the new “attraction” might be delayed were compounded by the curious, vague “Opening Spring 2012” notation added to the recent 20th Anniversary promo video. A mid-May opening places it, conveniently, right in the middle of that timeframe (and puts the pressure on Disney Dreams!, more than ever, to impress on April 1st). And what for the Mouse in the meantime? A “provisional” version of the meet ‘n’ greet could take place at Woody’s Roundup Village, reports admin Mouetto of Disney Central Plaza. This would be similar — but surely better — than the cheap temporary tent which was the Princess Pavilion, in all but name, for six months of the Magical Moments Festival.

The exterior transformation of the stage hasn’t been too dramatic thus far, with just the old “Fantasy Festival Stage” signage removed and new colours on the awnings notable in this photo by Max Fan (see how it used to look here). A bold “Mickey Mouse” red has replaced the green around the sides, while an interesting pastel shade has been used on the old show control booth in the middle.

VIA Max Fan (DCP), @InsideDLParis (Twitter), Mouetto (DCP)

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)

Wednesday, 11th January 2012

‘Meet Mickey Mouse’ construction continues with new colours at Fantasy Festival Stage

And for his first trick, Mickey will transform Fantasy Festival Stage with a whole new colour scheme! Work continues at the former Fantasyland theatre for this new, permanent, 20th Anniversary meet ‘n’ greet location, with the previously dark green corners of the exterior given a bold new red (photo above by @InsideDLParis). Could we see the theatre given a palette to match the Mouse himself?

This character location is one of the key additions for the upcoming anniversary, making use of the theatre space below Fantasyland Railroad Station that has only seen infrequent use in recent years, for the Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too show. Early rumours that the experience would be very much like the recent Mickey meet ‘n’ greet added to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom appear to have rung entirely true, with pre-publicity visuals showing Mickey preparing his magician’s costume backstage.

The interior layout is still unknown, but we could expect the former auditorium area to become a queuing area while the stage serves as the “backstage” photo location. Given that this really was once a theatre and that it sits in the fitting British area of the land, the setting will be particularly apt. If the quality matches that of the Florida attraction, with its clever and lavish set-dressing throughout the waiting line, there’s no doubt it will do justice to Disney’s biggest star.

One particularly smart detail in the Magic Kingdom version, besides the boxes labelled for “Marne-la-Vallée”, is a poster for Mickey’s fictional magic show performances, with a note added: “We need Mickey’s Paris dates to determine this”. Mark April 1st, 2012 as taken!

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

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, 8th November 2011

Construction begins for Magician Mickey meet ‘n’ greet at Fantasy Festival Stage

Besides spots of Central Plaza being quietly torn up for that nighttime spectacular, the impending 20th Anniversary isn’t quite bringing us the fever of construction we might have hoped for in the parks. Nevertheless, there is one new attraction on which construction has been ongoing for a couple of months already: the Magician Mickey meet ‘n’ greet we revealed back in July. To be based at Fantasy Festival Stage, the indoor theatre below the railroad station at the back of Fantasyland, work for the permanent meet ‘n’ greet location has already seen the old seating removed inside. Now, construction walls have surrounded the entire building, including a sizeable area at the front entrance.

With a similarly lavish style of the Princess Pavilion which opened last month, Mickey’s new dedicated home in the park will take much of the inspiration from the “Backstage Magic with Mickey Mouse” meet ‘n’ greet at Town Square Theatre in Magic Kingdom, Florida. One of the big selling points of that location is that, for the first time, guests can pick up a Fastpass time slot to meet the mouse, saving the kind of 120-minute queues normally associated with popular characters. Though the attractions will be closely related, there’s no word on that same service being available in Paris just yet.

For an experience like a character meet ‘n’ greet, couldn’t it even make sense for the whole operation to the Fastpass-based, with everyone required to pick up a ticket? What do you think?

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Tuesday, 26th July 2011

Mickey Mouse to conjure up permanent meet ‘n’ greet at Fantasy Festival Stage

And then, as if by magic, there we three. So far we know that the 20th Anniversary next year will bring Jack Sparrow to Pirates of the Caribbean and a new, world-exclusive nighttime show likely featuring fountains and fireworks at Sleeping Beauty Castle. But how about a brand new addition for the mouse that started it all? Yes, from next year Mickey Mouse himself is set to get his own permanent meet ‘n’ greet location within Fantasy Festival Stage!

The theatre has sat at the back of Fantasyland, connected to the Railroad Station, with only very limited use for more than a decade now. Whilst it began life in 1992 as a key venue hosting the classic C’est Magique musical revue, since 2006 only occasional seasonal performances of the show Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Too have occupied the small stage. Taking over this under-utilised space, which is never going to be good for grand stage shows, whilst giving the mouse his own dedicated spot actually sounds like a logical and wise proposition. Why the magic puns? Because if you’re a follower of Disney Parks worldwide, you’ll know all about the new “Backstage Magic with Mickey Mouse” meet ‘n’ greet that recently opened on Main Street at Florida’s Magic Kingdom (photos via Disney Parks Blog).

Backstage Magic with Mickey Mouse
Backstage Magic with Mickey Mouse

This new attraction, which even comes with its own Fastpass service, leads visitors through a fabulously-themed queue space littered with props and in-jokes — even a crate marked “Marne-la-Vallée – Paris” — with the storyline that you’re meeting Mickey Mouse, now a magician, backstage…

While the idea is somewhat tenuously planted into Main Street (and was unpopular with some, at least before its debut revealed the great detail), you couldn’t have a more perfect set-up for the location in Paris. Not just a real theatre, not just in the very fitting British quarter of the land, but in Fantasyland, where the characters truly belong. There’s little clue yet whether the European version will have such an extravagant set-up, or its own Fastpass tickets, but the two projects are certainly related and we should look forward to this new, more “magical” backstage encounter with the Mouse from next year.

In fact, it may well be our fourth new addition for the 20th and our second new permanent meet ‘n’ greet, as we mustn’t forget the Princess Pavilion that slowly continues its delayed construction across the land, in the former post-show area of “it’s a small world”. More news on that one soon…

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