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)

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

Sunday, 1st January 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

PHOTOS VIA Photos Magiques

Wednesday, 6th April 2011

Magical Moments Launch: Grand opening dedication show in photos and video

Disney Magical Moments Festival launch

Today’s the day — another year, another new festival begins at Disneyland Paris. And this year, it’s the Disney Magical Moments Festival, bringing a big (yet at the same time, rather modest) selection of new character “moments” and entertainments to the parks. Needless to say, there was nothing modest about the anticipated media launch event, which took place over last weekend and included the usual blow-out grand opening show and fireworks to round things off. Over 1,000 media types (plus for the first time ever, and at long last you could say, fan websites like DLRP Today and Photos Magiques) were officially invited along to see Mickey kick things off. Read More…

Tuesday, 8th March 2011

Kachow! Meet the new Lightning McQueen car joining ‘Moteurs… Action!’ from April

Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular will be welcoming a new cameo star from a certain automobile-based Pixar film this year, and he just made his grand entrance. At the Euro Disney SCA annual general meeting last Friday, the Cars-Moteurs tie-in was presented on the big screen and followed by Lightning McQueen himself then driving right out into the auditorium, Hotel New York’s convention centre, as seen in the video above. The Disney Magical Moments Festival preview show also featured some of the cast of new Central Plaza show Mickey’s Magical Celebration and gave us those finite dates for The Tarzan Encounter‘s heralded return.

This new car is a full-size, drivable replica of Lightning McQueen, the “rookie race car” in the 2006 Pixar film which conveniently sees its sequel, Cars 2, released this Summer. Similar cars have been featured at Disney California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios parks since the original film’s release, whilst Walt Disney Studios Park has had a static model at Cars Quatre Roues Rallye since 2007. The role awaiting Lightning (known in France as “Flash” McQueen) in the Backlot stunt show so far isn’t clear. It’s likely he won’t replace the main “hero” car and will instead make more of a cameo appearance — but does that mean he will replace the show’s existing cameo, 1960s motor star Herbie?

VIA mouetto (YouTube)

Friday, 21st January 2011

First character details for Magical Moments Festival events leak out

Our third “theme year” in a row doesn’t actually have any definable theme like the current New Generation, but Disney Magical Moments Festival beginning 6th April will bring to the parks a new trend of character “happenings”, as they’re awkwardly translated. According to Character Central Blog, even Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade won’t be free from a little Magical Moments “plussing”, with six new costumes including a swarm of bees behind the Winnie the Pooh unit and a new interactive show stop which will invite children to step up and don small costumes to dance with the characters (or for Toy Story, run around with stick horses resembling Bullseye) — a similar idea to that which greeted the launch of The Wonderful World of Disney Parade in 1998.

Replacing the rather good Disney Showtime Spectacular on Central Plaza Stage will be another creation of the random Disney show name generator, Mickey’s Magical Celebration, this year said to feature a more classic range of characters such as Merlin, the Fairy Godmother, the Three Good Fairies and Mickey in two different costumes (surely including that Sorcerer outfit, rarely seen in Paris), with just one performance daily each evening. Interestingly the Genie will apparently appear as a real “face” character, something only seen before at the Disney California Adventure stage musical. More conventional will be the fourth (yes, really) reworking of the park’s Casey Jr. parade train, to this year be known as Disney Dance Express and exclusively feature the VIP team of Mickey, Minnie and friends. Rather than stopping for meet ‘n’ greets, however, the train is this year said to be stopping for a live show in the middle of Main Street akin to Magic Kingdom’s “Move It! Shake It!! Celebrate It!!! Street Party” — with fewer exclamation marks but still a live human host, dancers and possibly imported music.

On the subject of those “happenings”, Character Central has no word on the Peter Pan event but does report that a Jungle Book event will feature the park’s long-running African Tam Tams group alongside King Louie and Baloo. This is apparently in addition to new static figurines of these characters, similar to those of WALL-E and EVE which arrived in Discoveryland late last year. A new, live meet ‘n’ greet for Aladdin is also said to arrive near the back of Adventureland Bazaar, while Rapunzel and Flynn from Disney’s Tangled could be given a more permanent home near The Old Mill.

VIA Character Central Blog

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