Sunday, 22nd March 2009

Subtler balloons continue to re-market the Party

That shiny new image used to launch the resort’s print advertising campaign for this year’s events was just the first of many, DLRP Today can now reveal.

Floating in a calm blue sky was a silver balloon “reflecting” an image of It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends, the new signature Central Plaza show. It was certainly a different approach to the saturated, really quite garish marketing images we’d seen earlier.

Now, there are three more images in the same style — is Mickey’s Magical Party being magically re-marketed before it even begins?

Mickey's Magical Party advertising

The first image, above, is the original image used in the magazine advertisements, featuring “VIPs” Donald Duck and Goofy alongside Mickey Mouse on the stage, rather than the secondary Timon and Aladdin of the earlier visual.

Below, Minnie’s Party Train gets another Photoshop re-imagining, this time adding more polka dots and plenty more characters to its carriages.

Mickey's Magical Party advertising

Though, as yesterday’s early preview in the park confirmed, the actual final design of the train is still rather different indeed.

Finally, Stitch gets another fairly nondescript visual to advertise It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland, continuing to show it more alike a modern, rock concert atmosphere than the actual scfi-kitsch of the real show.

Mickey's Magical Party advertising

It’s interesting that these visuals are available from Disneyland Resort Paris alongside the earlier poster-style images — they haven’t been replaced, but they certainly look rather less appealing than these new designs above.

Just a shame, perhaps, that these weren’t available sooner, when the original brochures for this year went to press, rather than two weeks before the event begins…

Images © Disney.

Thursday, 19th February 2009

Mickey’s Magical Party website goes live: full tour!

It’s a Disneyland Resort Paris tradition to accompany their newest attractions and events with a flashy, flash-based “mini site” separate from their main website, from the opening of Walt Disney Studios Park right through countless seasons and carnivals to the 15th Anniversary. In fact, they’re really the only Disney Resort which spends such money and effort on these kind of sites.

For Mickey’s Magical Party, we’ve got yet another to explore. Officially launched on Monday, you could arrive at the landing page to find only a few languages available — and not the ones you might expect, either. Denmark, Switzerland and Austria were the first countries officially launched, but with a bit of guesswork you can easily find the actual English-language site for the UK at www.mickeymagicalyear.com/uk/uk.

Currently, the landing page now also features Ireland and Italy, as well as the general “Other Countries” international option.

Mickey's Magical Party website

Though mickeymagicalparty.com redirects here, they apparently weren’t interested in mickeysmagicalparty.com when these domain names were registered last year. In fact, on the UK version of the new website there seems to be a little confusion about the celebration’s name — getting us off to a bad start, the title in your browser will instead read “Mickey’s Magical Year“.

Let’s begin our full commentary and tour here…

Mickey's Magical Party website

Pick your language and a pink balloon flies into view from the bottom of the screen, carrying an envelope. These carrier balloons are also being used extensively in the marketing campaigns for the US parks this year, although the balloons, for some reason, have a completely different design.

Mickey's Magical Party website

Gradually, more balloons float up into view on the screen. Immediately you’ll notice something different about this website compared to those of the past — it fills the entire screen, and resizes itself accordingly.

Mickey's Magical Party website

All the resort’s previous flash mini-sites have been a static size within the middle of a regular page, whereas this new style offers a more involving experience. The introduction continues with the tagline “Celebrate the greatest part of the year” and the Disneyland Resort Paris logo — which curiously has a little miniature balloon graphic floating above it… see it? That probably shouldn’t be there.

Mickey's Magical Party website

The introduction ends with five much larger balloons floating into the sky decorated with images of the five key new events of the celebration. You’ll notice throughout that the website doesn’t use the “daytime”, blue skies style we’ve seen in earlier marketing images or even on the Central Plaza fences. The entire design style appears to have suddenly been changed to a purple twilight sky with foil rather than rubber balloons.

Mickey's Magical Party website

The homepage features an animated backdrop of locations from around the resort, with simply the celebration logo inviting you to “enter”. The style here is obviously meant to be busy and informal, with some of the graphics cut out of photos and others properly drawn. The animated characters of Stitch, Minnie and Mickey seem to clash with the neater style of Tinkerbell and Dumbo floating in the sky — especially the thick-outlined, puppet-like Mickey. In previous websites, we’ve come to expect live-action characters to be superimposed into the flash animation.

Mickey's Magical Party website

Click “enter” and you’re actually taken across to the “Toonificator”, but we’ll head there later. Instead, we’ve clicked “Calender” (yes, rather than the correct spelling of “Calendar”) to find not so much a list of dates but five simple, floating balloons displaying the five new events.

Mickey's Magical Party website

Click an event and you’re given a very (very!) brief description lifted straight from that slightly baffling marketing text, along with the event’s poster artwork.

Mickey's Magical Party website

The next option along displays the three key special offers they’re running to launch Mickey’s Magical Party — the seemingly eternal Kids Under 7 Stay, Play & Travel FREE, a continuation of the 15% discount on tickets booked in advance, and another extension of that huge package discount that has been running since late last year. With both the economic problems of the moment and the awful GBP/Euro exchange rate, British guests are now being enticed with a huge 40% off their package booking, with the offer now extended to arrival dates right up to September!

Mickey's Magical Party website

And now, we reach the main section of the website — Disney’s Toonificator. This seems to be inspired both by the cartoon-style images offered by instant messaging providers such as Yahoo and Windows Live and, probably more so, by a feature on The Simpsons Movie website which swept the internet a couple of years ago, allowing users to create themselves as a Simpson character.

Mickey's Magical Party website

For this Disney version, you’ve got a seemingly endless range of hairstyles, face types and colours to Toonify yourself with, along with several special Disney costumes and accessories. Such a range, in fact, that you can create some rather bizarre Toons indeed (see above). You can also upload a photo and have it “Toonify” yourself automatically.

Mickey's Magical Party website

We settled for something a little more ordinary, and we’re now in the “virtual” Mickey’s Magical Party, a globe-type horizon filled with more cut-out landmarks and locations, which you explore by using the left and right arrow keys.

Mickey's Magical Party website

You’ll immediately notice that it’s not only the Mickey’s Magical Party events featured here — you’ll wander across landscapes representing both parks, with most of the resort’s recent attractions featured, such as Crush’s Coaster.

Mickey's Magical Party website

It’s good to see Disneyland Resort Paris realising many people might not yet have experienced these brand new attractions for themselves, with pop-up boxes providing brief descriptions and photos.

Mickey's Magical Party website

For the actual Magical Party events, however, you’ll find something a little more — a special game for each one. Here, we’ve arrived at Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!.

Mickey's Magical Party website

Luckily for us, all the games are incredibly simple and easy to complete. For Playhouse Disney, you need to simply remember a very short series of colours. This, perhaps, confirms the far younger age group Disneyland Resort Paris appears to be marketing itself towards lately…

Mickey's Magical Party website

We pass by a bizarre landscape of Toon Studio lampposts, Stitch Live! and… giant mushrooms?

Mickey's Magical Party website

Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, some large fireworks and a strange machine decorated with shapes.

Mickey's Magical Party website

Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars finally rolls around.

Mickey's Magical Party website

Here you’re shown a lineup of five of the cars and have to click on the one which is illuminated for it to beep its horn, as simple as that.

Mickey's Magical Party website

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, CinéMagique, and the Studio Tram Tour billboard entrance we’ve not seen for over 18 months.

Mickey's Magical Party website

Discoveryland is represented fairly well, with airships and plently of ironwork…

Mickey's Magical Party website

…Only disturbed by the Dance Time going on at its centre. This game actually gives a very accurate preview of the real event, with visitors having to use arrow keys to step their feet on the segments of the coloured floor mat in sync with the counter at the bottom of the screen.

Mickey's Magical Party website

Disneyland Park seems a little barren from here, though Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade does make a welcome appearance.

Mickey's Magical Party website

Several of the background graphics also animate when you click on them. Here, Mickey Mouse pops out of a giant cuckoo clock as fireworks explore behind. Because, that makes you want to visit the resort, right?

Mickey's Magical Party website

Minnie’s Party Train steams into view…

Mickey's Magical Party website

…with an interesting party game which seems to invite you to connect up a webcam and then move around to guide the train into position. Or, you can just use your mouse to trace the figure-of-eight path.

Mickey's Magical Party website

Finally, we arrive in front of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant where It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends is happening. Take a close look at the Castle — see anything different?

Mickey's Magical Party website

For the new Central Plaza show, you’ve simply got to stop balloons floating into the air.

And there we have it, a little journey across the resort’s newest attractions with a few ultra-simlistic “party games” thrown in. The audience here is obviously intended to be very young, whilst the overall design style leaves a little to be desired — especially since just last year we were wowing over that spectacular and spectacularly well-built Tower of Terror website.

The Toonifyer game has obviously been given the majority of the effort put into this website, but the result is made slightly pointless since your created character only serves to walk left and right through the virtual world. You can enter an email address and save the character, but there seems to be no option to save an image of the character to use as a forum or instant messenger icon/avatar, for example.

Ultimately, this website also includes little to no real information about the new events of Mickey’s Magical Party — some of which, especially those at Walt Disney Studios Park, are actually probably well worth visiting for.

In fact, upon arriving at the website, visitors will surely be confused as to the overal purpose or theme of the event, since it jumps straight to the point of the Toonifyer game and the events, without a real introduction. A 15th Anniversary speaks for itself, but what’s the point of this celebration? What’s the reason for visiting? We fear guests won’t find the answers here…

• Take a look for yourself here and leave your own comments below!

Thursday, 5th February 2009

Mickey’s Magical Party preview video… with music!

The special video sees Mickey Mouse rushing from corner to corner all over the resort, meeting up with other characters who are shown to be preparing their entertainments for the upcoming Magical Party.

Several of the scenes were obviously filmed at the same time as some of the still photo shoots we’ve been seeing this past week, but — along with giving a first look at the Stars ‘n’ Cars vehicles as they’ll appear in Paris — there is one huge, enormous spoiler in here… the music!

We posted the lyrics just yesterday and only introduced the concept of this new song — “It’s Mickey’s Magical Party Time” — just last week, but already, here it is! Well, almost… as you might guess from the synthesised opening, this is actually a special remix of the song. Far more “dance” flavoured than the true number, and in fact likely to be the version heard during It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland.

Here’s the video:

And a series of stills:

Mickey's Magical Party preview video
Mickey rises bright and early to begin another day of hard work…

Mickey's Magical Party preview video
Another close-up of the Minnie’s Party Train concepts — note that the third carriage will be different again from both the first and second.

Mickey's Magical Party preview video
Mickey arrives in the Stars ‘n’ Cars garage to surprise Goofy

Mickey's Magical Party preview video
Mushu steals the show in Mulan’s car

Mickey's Magical Party preview video
Characters polish up their cars

Mickey's Magical Party preview video
Mickey peers through a curtain to see Playhouse Disney — via greenscreen!

Mickey's Magical Party preview video
In the Radio Disney studios, Stitch prepares his beats to some wild camera work

Mickey's Magical Party preview video
The characters rehearse their moves for “It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends” backstage — with the show’s additional stars from The Jungle Book and The Lion King

Mickey's Magical Party preview video
Mickey emerges from the baloons…

Mickey's Magical Party preview video
That’s Mickey’s Magical Party!

As for the “It’s Party Time!” song, hearing a slightly wacky dance remix before the real thing maybe isn’t the best way to be introduced to the new theme music of the year, but what do you think so far? Is this another Disneyland Resort Paris song destined to stay with you almost every hour of the day?

Wednesday, 4th February 2009

Lyrics of new “Party Time” theme song revealed

The song, of course, is for Mickey’s Magical Party and will therefore unsurprisingly be titled “It’s Party Time!”, with the actual chorus proclaiming “It’s Mickey’s Magical Time!”.

Beginning with a lone chorus singing out “It’s Mickey’s Magical Time… Everybody’s ready it’s time to play”, the song builds through a quick jazzy brass intro before launching into the first verse with drums, heavy guitars and some very pacey vocals from both a male and female lead. The brass element returns several times, but the overall feel is very much a progression of the modern pop/rock touched upon with Just Like We Dreamed It“.

Unusually, the full lyrics are already out!

It’s Party Time

It’s Mickey’s Magical Party Time,
Everybody’s ready it’s time plaaayyyyy……

(Its time to party, come have a party, ohh yea, you know its party time)

Verse 1:
Welcome everybody, let the fun being
(Oh oh it’s party time)

A Disney celebration with all of our friends!
(You know its party time)

Young, Brand New – we’re so glad that you’re here!
(Oh oh it’s party time)

It’s a magical invitation to the party of the year
(You know its party time)

With Disney magic excitement grows, Grab a balloon – come on lets go……

Chorus:
It’s Mickey’s Magical Party Time,
Everybody’s ready it’s time to play…

At Mickey’s Magical Party Time, yea yea
The party of the year, and it’s happening here!

It’s Mickey’s Magical Party Time,
We’ll let the music out load – dancing with the crowd!

At Mickey’s Magical Party Time, hey hey!

(Its party time, its party time, if you wanna party, you know its party time!)

Verse 2:
Kiddies, right we’re coming, it’s getting a little wild!
(Oh oh it’s party time)

Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and every child.
(You know its party time)

Lint, then needles with ribbons and bows!
(Oh oh it’s party time)

Lets decorate to celebrate with everyone we know
(You know its party time)

With Disney magic excitement grows….
Everybody Grab a balloon – come on lets go……!!!

Chorus:
It’s Mickey’s Magical Party Time,
Everybody’s ready it’s time to play…

At Mickey’s Magical Party Time, yea yea
The party of the year, and it’s happening here!

It’s Mickey’s Magical Party Time,
We’ll let the music out loud – dancing with the crowd!

At Mickey’s Magical Party Time, hey hey!

Verse 3:
We’re dancing in the street to a party-time beat –
lets shoot for the stars that’s what you will do…

We’re dancing in the street to party-time beat – everybody let loose!

People from all around the world – have come from far and near!

Everybody clap, everybody cheer – the party of the year and it’s happening here!!

Chorus:
It’s Mickey’s Magical Party Time,
Everybody’s ready it’s time to play…

At Mickey’s Magical Party Time, yea yea
The party of the year, and it’s happening here!

It’s Mickey’s Magical Party Time,
We’ll let the music out loud – dancing with the crowd!

At Mickey’s Magical Party Time, hey hey!
We’ll let the music out loud – dancing with the crowd!

Mickey’s Magical Party Time, yea yea
The party of the year, and it’s happening here!

At Mickey’s Magical Party Time, hey hey!
Everybody’s let loose

(Party time, oh yea, its Mickey’s magical party, yea, party time, yea yea)

ITS PARTY TIME!!

Though very much a generic “event” tune, the lyrics do make reference to several of the key Mickey’s Magical Party emblems, such as “Grab a balloon — come on let’s go…”. The full details of where and when during the celebration it’ll actually appear has yet to be confirmed, but we can certainly count on it being used for It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends and It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland, if not Minnie’s Party Train too.

As mentioned previously, the song is produced by Scott Erickson, who worked on a variety of direct-to-video releases such as Mickey-Donald-Goofy in The Three Musketeers, Bambi II and Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch.

Finally — yes, the song will be catchy. Very catchy. In fact, from April 4th, be very prepared to have nothing but “It’s Mickey’s magical party time” ringing through your head, until May at the earliest…

With many thanks to Poppy the Monkey for the lyrics.

Friday, 30th January 2009

Minnie’s Party Train concept art arrives on time

One of the undoubted hits of the 15th Anniversary years, providing both plentiful meet ‘n’ greets and a mini-parade in one, it might have been enough just to keep running Disney Characters’ Express with its ’15’ plaques removed. Not for Mickey’s Magical Party!

Instead, entire control of this former Dumbo/Casey Jr. Wonderful World of Disney Parade float has been handed to Minnie Mouse. She’ll be leading the way on board Minnie’s Party Train each day and, crucially, giving the train a rather radical cosmetic update. Blue and gold are out… red polka dots are in!

Minnie's Party Train

The full visual above cheats the eye a little with its seemingly never-ending line of carriages, but it’s a smart photo edit of the current train to convey the idea. Whereas the 15th Anniversary version was plainer and more generic, the new Mickey’s Magical Party events will be entirely character-led and as bright as possible.

Minnie has also prepared for her home audience, with an alternate French title and logo — Le Train en Fête de Minnie:

Minnie's Party Train

And, just yesterday, she officially revealed her final concept art for the brand new Party Train at Art of Disney Animation in Walt Disney Studios Park, watched over by Mickey Mouse!

Minnie's Party Train

Sketching with an oversized pencil and cutting pieces of polka dot fabic with oversized scissors, Minnie gives us a very first look at exactly what will be changing to turn the Express into the Party Train. At first glance, it certainly seems that the advertising visual above was a very conservative depiction of the final result…

Minnie's Party Train

For the most part, the blue of Characters Express has turned to red and white polka-dots, but the entire train is now also covered in multi-coloured streamers, with bows atop the flagpoles and a ‘Minnie’s Party Train’ logo inside a blue Mickey Mouse silhouette on every carriage.

Also note the carriages themselves — in the image we’ve zoomed into above, you can see that the middle wagon will be given an entirely different design, almost completely golden, with more whimsical safety rails, perhaps closer to its Casey Jr. circus train origins…

— Find a new preview guide all about Minnie’s Party Train here.

All logos, visuals, photos © Disney.

Monday, 26th January 2009

Introducing… Mickey’s Magical Party from April 2009!

Partly a commemoration of the mouse himself hitting 80 years old, partly another excuse to decorate the park and introduce some brand new entertainment, Mickey’s Magical Party will be a brand new year-long event taking over both parks and introducing new decorations, new shows, a new parade-event and a whole new attraction.

The theme is bright — balloons, characters and colour — and fully intended to feel as fresh and new as possible after the two, more nostalgic, years celebrating the 15th Anniversary.

The Logo

So let’s begin, with the logo:

Mickey's Magical Party logo

The balloon theme will never be far away this year, at least in the resort’s advertising, with the colour of red seeming to be a obvious replacement for the copious amounts of blue we’ve seen during the 15th.

A second logo has also been produced, featuring Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Pluto bursting out from a circular Castle background:

Mickey's Magical Party logo

The logos themselves are quite deceptive, however — the “Candy Script” font chosen is inspired by South America — brush-like and quite classical — unlike the proposed events themselves…

The Events

Surprisingly, it’s Walt Disney Studios Park that will once again steal the show, enjoying the launch of both a new attraction and a new parade/event (which you’ll know by now) — whilst, over the esplanade, Disneyland Park has to make up its own party games:

Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars
The renamed and reworked Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade from Florida finally opens in Paris as part of the event. As we’ve reported previously, it likely won’t run as a parade but as a series of drive-in meet ‘n’ greets and photo shoots. (More news…)

Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!
Currently being fitted out right next to Stitch Live! in the Walt Disney Television Studios building and classed as a full new attraction, this will be a live puppet show for the younger audience, featuring Handy Manny, Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and My Friends Tigger & Pooh. (More news…)

It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends
Here we come to the key event of the party, a daytime show on a rebuilt Central Plaza Stage that aims to get the entire audience dancing along with characters from The Jungle Book and Aladdin in particular. (More news…)

Minnie’s Party Train
You might recognise this one, just a little. It’s the Disney Characters’ Express in a new polka-dot guise, still travelling between Main Street and Central Plaza with its trainload of Disney characters. (More news…)

It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland
Jules Verne won’t know what hit him — Stitch is due to roll into Discoveryland atop a moving podium of DJ decks, “pumping out tunes” and encouraging everyone to dance along using special coloured dance mats. (More news…)

Look out for much more in-depth news and features about all these events — and the party itself — on DLRP Today every day from now until the official launch.

The Launch Date

Speaking of which — when does Mickey’s Magical Party really launch? The UK brochure states Friday, 3rd April 2009, whilst other official publications state the Saturday — 4th April. Those are the official launch dates, then there’s the actual launch, the press preview, when these events really begin rolling into the parks — which seems to be set on Saturday, 28th March 2009.

Watch this space…

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