Monday, 22nd March 2010

Banners & marquees lead New Generation preparation

Another year, another set of sky blue banners? Spot on. For the fourth year running, we’re welcomed onto the resort hub — and again and again through Fantasia Gardens and Front Lot — by banners featuring the year’s theme logo and the word “Welcome” in a variety of languages:

New Generation Festival preparation

The almost identical in design Mickey’s Magical Party banners have been switched out for these new canvas banners on every lamppost in sight, alternating between the French and English logos.

New Generation Festival preparation

New Generation Festival preparation

New Generation Festival preparation

Are these just unoriginal, or is blue just a nice, neutral colour that works for both parks?

Either way, there’s one plus for this year’s batch of near-identical banners — they’re slightly less identical. In Front Lot, there are several designs featuring just the New Generation characters, such as Mike Wazowski, Buzz Lightyear and that ten-year-old alien who won’t ever take a break, Stitch.

New Generation Festival preparation New Generation Festival preparation

New Generation Festival preparation

Different designs or not, it’s quite an overwhelming invasion…

New Generation Festival preparation

What is this festival called again?!

Back at Front Lot, we’re seeing the Walt Disney Studios Store entrance being “toyed” with again, as the first temporary marquee in over a year has appeared to tempt more people inside the boutique. It’s the first New Generation Festival store decoration so far, coming just days after the old Magical Party marquee disappeared from The Emporium.

New Generation Festival preparation

Though the Little Green Men and Stitch are flat 2D designs, Slinky Dog is partially in 3D, his springy body wrapping around the entrance. Inside, you can of course pick up your very own Slinky toy.

New Generation Festival preparation

New Generation Festival preparation

Inside the park, the Monsters Inc. Scream Scene near the entrance of Toon Studio has been closed for several weeks to allow preparations for its starring role in the year ahead. The ‘Scream Monitors’ signage has been taken away and returned for refurbishment, and the fun yellow floor markings have been completely repainted.

New Generation Festival preparation

In fact, though the corner is being included in the “new” features for the year, it has been in place for so long (since 2006) that the “Child Detection Agency – Scream Scene” paint had completely worn away.

New Generation Festival preparation

As we reported at the end of January, the ‘Monsters Inc. Scream Academy’ listed in brochures and press releases was originally meant to be a brand new show that was cancelled just days before auditions. We’ve since leant that the show, which would have featured a live host inviting guests to dance and scream with the Monsters, was actually set to happen not in this tight corner but on a separate travelling stage, similar to the High School Musical shows.

Though the ‘Monsters Inc. Scream Academy’ hasn’t been removed from advertising, we now have to assume that’s the new name for the photo location, the preview videos have been made incredibly vague and all mentions are very careful never to mention the word “new”…

New Generation Festival preparation

At least with Sully (the only live Monsters character we’ve seen at Disneyland Paris since 2002), expected to be rejoined by Mike and — for the first time — Boo (dressed up in her Monster disguise) for the Disney Showtime Spectacular over at Disneyland Park, these extra characters could hop over in between to provide something “new” here after all.

Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.com

Saturday, 20th March 2010

Refurb roundup: Ears gone, banners gone, trees gone?!

Was it all just a bad dream?

The big news of course is that Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, our beautiful castle, has finally lost its Mickey’s Magical Party overlay. Once again we can enjoy its golden spires and centrepiece window with not a single set of Mickey ears on its magnificent medieval façade.

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

It’s not a complete return to glory, however — look closer and the iconic building is close to worn-out. Its stone features covered in spots of dirt, roof tiles uneven and out of place and two large holes now visible either side of the main window, where the Magical Party centrepiece was fixed in place.

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Above that, the roof has some light patches, like its paintwork has been scuffed or scratched by something.

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

The balcony to the left still has too few plants draped over it, and let’s not even check elsewhere. Stand on the rear balcony of La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant next time you visit and take a look upwards — this castle needs attention soon. We’ve been saying “before the 15th…”, “before MMP…”, “before the New Generation Festival…” every year now. So… before the 20th Anniversary?

There is also one omission from this decorations cull — Tinkerbell, and her spiralling trail which circles the tallest tower. Originally part of the 15th Anniversary overlay, she held on for Mickey’s Magical Party, continuing to provide confetti blasts from her wand for certain events. Now the lone remnant of these celebrations, she towers over the huge structure like a dainty fairy really ought not to, the confetti pipe looking like some poorly-integrated plumbing for Sleeping Beauty’s new ensuite bathroom.

With the Mickey ears now consigned to history for more than a week, the chances of the same installation crew coming back to pick up this one decoration is beginning to seem unlikely. We’ve heard that even departments within Disneyland Paris don’t know what’s going on with her. Can’t someone step in and scrap the fairy once and for all?

Any Tink supporters should perhaps remember that she’s already present and correct — and much more pleasantly sized — atop the Disneyland Hotel:

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

But for now, back to the positives — and another big one is Main Street also returning (almost) to normal. The refurbishments of the Disney Clothiers, Ltd. and Town Square Photography façades continue, but now there’s something — or several things — missing from the view…

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

No giant lampposts! Without those towering white columns and their enormous, identical banners, Main Street has been opened up. The buildings aren’t hidden away but clear to see and yes, correctly sized. Welcome back to the turn of the 20th Century!

It’d be interesting, in fact, to see if footfall in the various shops might increase with the removal of the banners, which were overpowering enough to just funnel guests straight down the street as quickly as possible, without looking left or right, all building façades hidden until you were stood right up in front of them. Now, that visual interest in every millimetre of the street is visible again, ready to pull guests to one side… and get them to open their wallets.

Another disappearing act has been pulled by the illuminated Mickey’s Magical Party decoration which sat above the side doorway of The Emporium. Before that, we had Lumière bursting out of the building for the 15th Anniversary… so how long until Buzz Lightyear or Slinky Dog shows up for the New Generation?

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Here again, the removal unfortunately shows up some less-than-perfect paintwork behind.

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

And the removals continue, back into Town Square! Let’s compare this photo, from last Summer:

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

With this view from earlier this week:

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Besides the elevation, weather and other seasonal changes, can you spot the difference? Yes, the trees on Town Square have magically shrunk! Previously reaching well above the rooftops of The Emporium and Town Square Photography (even from that elevated viewpoint on the railroad station), they now suddenly stand only just as high.

This is about as “Disneyland” an idea as you can get — when the trees get too big for the forced perspective of the buildings around them, replace them! The old maturing trees were removed last week (replanted elsewhere in the resort), leaving Town Square with an odd few days of just temporary grass coverings, to be gradually replaced with these younger, smaller trees.

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

If you’ve followed Disneyland Paris news for many years, you might remember the same happening to all the trees along Main Street itself in the first half of the last decade, when they were again replaced with smaller trees more in line with their quaint (and we have to remember, at the turn of the 20th Century — recently built) surroundings.

At the same time, the first flowers of Spring have arrived!

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Elsewhere, Pirates of the Caribbean has been closed for the past two weeks for a scheduled refurbishment:

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Disneyland Paris refurbishments

As always, this also required a closure of the Blue Lagoon Restaurant, but we’re happy to report both attraction and restaurant reopened earlier today.

Finally, ignoring that Castle bridge scaffolding (which should also have come to a close earlier today – check back for updates), we end on a beautiful sight indeed…

Disneyland Paris refurbishments Disneyland Paris refurbishments

Here’s hoping we see the castle back in the “refurb roundup” before too long.

Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.com

Sunday, 7th March 2010

St David ends the Magical Party with a bang

What’s been occuring at Disneyland Paris this weekend? The St David’s Welsh Festival, a now-annual event spread over three days, this year from 5th to 7th March, to celebrate the feast day of the patron saint of Wales (which is actually held on 1st March) — and no doubt tempt a few proud compatriots over to Disneyland Paris in the process.

As the schedule reveals, this is a rare chance to see Merlin calling up guests to pull Fantasyland’s sword from its stone, a location now used more frequently for the Sleeping Beauty “happening”.

St David's Day

It’s also the only time in any Disney park in the world you can see Mickey and Minnie dressed in traditional Welsh costume, be it at their special meet ‘n’ greets or riding the Main Street fire truck as a special pre-parade. Where the upcoming St Patrick’s Day has shamrocks all over, St David’s is all daffodils and leeks…

St David's Da

Between the “dathliad” (is that right?) of Wales came the eventual, anticipated end of Mickey’s Magical Party, the “theme year” which began way back on 4th April 2009 and brought us It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland, Minnie’s Party Train and of course, It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends, which saw its final official performances on Central Plaza under a cold grey sky this weekend:

St David's Day Mickey's Magical Party

St David's Day Mickey's Magical Party

St David's Day Mickey's Magical Party

St David's Day Mickey's Magical Party

The pyrotechnics were a late addition last year.

What was that about spoiling pictures? Oh yes, the decorations. Though (if you can believe it) not as bad as they could have been, this was certainly a year to point your camera… elsewhere. Try a new angle rather than that generic castle shot.

Mickey's Magical Party

But, for one last bang before the year is locked away in the pages of Euro Souvenirland, our Mickey Moused medieval castle celebrated St David’s with the traditional fireworks display…

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

How do you say “what a relief”, “good riddance” in Welsh?

Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.com

Friday, 31st July 2009

Did we miss anything..?

Well yes, quite a lot obviously. Just shows you shouldn’t go wandering into the Adventure Isle caves just before park closing… it’s been four long months!

If you’ve been similarly deprived of Disneyland Resort Paris news, given up trying to translate what they’re saying on the French forums, sit back and enjoy a quick and concise round-up of all the big stories of recent months — here we go!

SLEEPING BEAUTY’S BLING

Was it coincidence that updates here ended just about the time that Sleeping Beauty Castle succumbed to its most horrific, misguided meddling-with to date?

The birthday cake, the jester’s hat, the Epcot wand, the MGM hat… you’ve met your match. There truly aren’t enough negative adjectives in the dictionary.

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MAGICAL PARTY LAUNCHES WITH MEGA-PARTY

‘You’re invited!’ …but not to this. Press and media types were schmoozed in spectacular fashion as new theme year Mickey’s Magical Party kicked off with fireworks, projections, lights and so many characters they couldn’t even all fit on the damn stage.

Did it generate headlines, articles, media coverage? No.

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ACTUAL PARTY GROWS ON FANS

Frustratingly-titled new Central Plaza show ‘It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends’ initially looked rather like a drab flop on an overbearing and unnecessary new stage, but it has grown on most fans. The score by Vasile Sirli is actually plain fantastic (especially considering the lacklustre music in the year’s other new shows) and it provides a fresh, colourful heart for the year.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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ShoulderKids – this year’s must-have accessory

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LIGHT MAGIC GIVEN FORMAL APOLOGY

Over in Discoveryland, the other show with an annoying name — ‘It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland’ — brought delights such as large, primary-coloured circles on the floor of a retro-futuristic land, and the expertly-chosen hits of Block Party Bash.

Despite the show being considered terrible on every level by most who’ve seen it, the performers put so much effort and energy into their routine they each almost deserve a window on Main Street.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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PLAYHOUSE DISNEY QUIETLY OPENS

Beyond the forced MMP hoopla over the other side of the esplanade, Walt Disney Studios Park gained a brand new attraction — its fifth addition since opening — in ‘Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!’. Jolly good fun it is too — wonderfully staged, very charming. The Paris version even has a “1 Up” on the two earlier versions with a big new pre-show studio.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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Credit crunch souvenirs

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RESTAURANT GENERIQUE

Changing its name to ‘Restaurant des Stars’, the far too interestingly-named ‘Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant’ gained a new logo, some new colours and a new entrance canopy.

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DUDE LOOKS LIKE A FIRE!

In a quite bizarre coincidence, just days after fans launched an online April Fool suggesting Aerosmith would be succeeded by French rocker Johnny Hallyday as musical guests at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, a fire began in the roof of the showbuilding.

Luckily the damage was minor — though it did allow for these dramatic photos (below) as the inspection crews ripped off the cladding, checked and replaced it. The attraction reopened just the next day.

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SMEE GIVEN SURGERY

Captain Hook’s bumbling first mate was given a random makeover by the worldwide Disney Parks character team and, unlike most famous faces, he returned from the cosmetic surgery with a face more expressive than before. Remarkable.

Hopefully they’ll tackle some of the clearly worse-looking characters next, like the dead-eyed Woody, Jessie and Buzz…

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HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL PARTY!

Now back for a third year, the Studios’ High School Musical show this year gained musical numbers from the third film but stopped short of going for the full ‘HSM3’ show the other resorts put on. ‘I Want it all’ is the standout number, but one that certainly won’t win over any new fans.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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THEMED SMOKING

The ‘Smoking Areas’ inside the parks had been extended little beyond their miniature park map icons, so it’s reassuring to see that each area now has its own themed sign, tied into the location. Give it a few years and the public might actually use them.

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STUDIO STORE OPENS UP

Behind construction walls last time we saw it, the Walt Disney Studios Store has now been completed, with three new doors and payment desks in front of new, large windows.

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

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STORYBOOK ENDING

Main Street has always had the best-kept exteriors of the entire park, always popping with a fresh bit of paint here or there. A new development in recent years are the nice tarpaulin coverings given images of the building hiding behind. Even for tiny spots like this one on the end of The Storybook Store, the hidden façade is still presented on top.

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PLAZA GARDENS GLEAMS

After a major refurbishment of the interior, including bringing the central fountain back to daily life, the whole Plaza Gardens Restaurant building was wrapped in themed tarps for an expensive top-to-bottom refurbishment and repaint. It didn’t stand out as being particularly bad before, there are other areas needing paint sooner, but it does look fantastic.

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STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES

Over the hub, it’s surprising to see that the refurbishment of Disney Studio 1 continues, the huge centrepiece building of the park still wrapped up in scaffolding. Must be a bigger job than originally thought, right?

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— — —

FLOORS OF ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY

Tripped up in Disneyland Park recently? No wonder, some of the concrete pathways are literally falling to pieces. Thankfully, the first resurfacing works seen for many years have been taking place, with areas of Adventure Isle and vast swathes of Discoveryland closed off and given new flooring, the effect — especially just in front of Space Mountain — very noticeably making the whole land look brand new.

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— — —

TENNIS, MICE, MAIN STREET

Some of the resort’s press and advertising efforts have been surprisingly inventive this year, like this — turning the top of Main Street into a full-size tennis court and inviting Gaël Monfils and Stanislas Wawrinka to play with Mickey Mouse.

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Just a few days later, Serena Williams visited the park and was met in front of the Castle by Minnie Mouse, wearing a special tennis player costume.

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— — —

JUST ‘PARIS’

Effectively the biggest change of the past few months, the news in April and subsequent official changeover in May that has seen ‘Disneyland Resort Paris’ — the resort’s name since the 2002 opening of Walt Disney Studios Park — change back to just plain ‘Disneyland Paris’.

It certainly makes sense — the extra word was always unpopular, confusing to non-English speakers and now, with every park from Alton Towers to your local fairground claiming itself as a “Resort”, it simply doesn’t have any value. “Disneyland Resort Paris” is cumbersome and never spoken, “Disneyland Paris” is short and very strong. Whilst things like the official website have changed over, don’t expect this to be an overnight transition — the new (or rather, old) logo will reappear just as and when things need replacing.

Unfortunately, this decision — made by new CEO Philippe Gas himself — came in April, just weeks after the resort had launched a whole new brand campaign for the theme year. These traditionally start in April, and everything from Cast Member name tags to park tickets and guidemaps had already been printed up with the full “Disneyland Resort Paris” name. Smart name reversal, silly timing.

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There’s also a whole myriad of logo variations now available (above). Which should be used, when? The standard logo is being presented as two-colour, with the “Paris” in a gold gradient that already looks rather dated.

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BURNING FIRES, FLOWING WATERS

Tasked with bringing back old and forgotten effects, a new “taskforce” within the resort’s maintenance department has been one of the most positive steps in recent months. We already appear to have seen some brilliant reawakened touches, such as the torches on Fort Comstock at the entrance to Frontierland (lit from nightfall)…

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And the water channels leading to the drinking fountains beside La Cabane des Robinson.

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Whilst a long way short of having the full irrigation system working again (water should be hoisted right up to the top of the tree by the water wheel, before being poured out and running through the channels back to ground level), it’s great to think someone took the time to figure this out.

Elsewhere, these moving fairground balloons inside Boardwalk Candy Palace have been back working again, for the first time in years.

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CAFE DE LA BROUSSE

Mostly sitting closed, Café de la Brousse has never the less just had a large-scale refurbishment completed, bringing colour back to the “bush café” buildings. Dole is presented heavily as the host, but still no one thinks of bringing the legendary Dole Whip to Paris!

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DISNEY VILLAGE NOW ‘COOL’

So. It took a Starbucks to make Disney Village “hip” again.

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Yes, it meant losing the wonderful Buffalo Trading Co. and inviting a quite equally despised/appreciated corporation into a Disney-branded area, but the coffeehouse itself was built using genuinely eco-friendly ideas and looks really quite trendy inside, with a wonderfully modern exterior — industrial elements clashing beautifully with earthy materials.

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ROSES PAINTED RED, FINALLY!

The on-off refurbishment of Alice’s Curious Labyrinth — with little areas regaining sparkle each month or so — has continued, the Paris-exclusive attraction even seeing… new paint! The red edgings of the entire labyrinth have finally been repainted, a year after similar edgings on the Fantasyland-Discoveryland path received paint before them, and scenes like the Caterpillar suddenly “pop” like they should again:

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ROBINSONS RETURN TO LA CABANE

Also brought back to life this Summer is La Cabane des Robinson, previously the only other “blackspot” alongside the Labyrinth. For too long the treehouse has been bleak and worn. Props missing, effects broken, no colour. It was as if the Robinsons had long ago moved on from their treetop abode. Not any more — refreshed woodwork, new props and a complete clean-up really make it “pop”. Effects like the self-playing organ are still missing.

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Even the water fountains were revisited and given an extra spruce-up:

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— — —

WOODCARVER’S WORKSHOP RE-OPENS

Not entirely the amazing news that might suggest, but nevertheless the long-abandoned Woodcarver’s Workshop over in Cottonwood Creek Ranch, next to what is now Woody’s Roundup, has finally been brought back into service — selling drinks and souvenir photos from the character meet ‘n’ greets inside.

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A long way from the actual woodcarvers who used to create personalised souvenirs here, but good to see it alive and well in some form, eh?

— — —

ENCHANTED FIREWORKS DAMPENED AGAIN

The Enchanted Fireworks have returned for their second year — dampened again in similar style to the later shows last year, when the nearby town of Chessy apparently banged on the wall and issued a loud “shhh”. Fans, and even apparently some regular guests, aren’t too impressed with the “new” show.

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ATTRACTION OPEN 12:00 – 12:05

The same limited opening schedule of attractions put in place last Summer has returned again this year, with visitors taking much more notice. Some say it’s fair enough that they have to close attractions early, since most people have headed to Main Street to watch Fantillusion, whilst others leave annoyed that the park’s advertised opening time of 10am to 11pm isn’t strictly true.

Most agree that the whole situation would be better if the limited openings schedule was at least published somewhere other than only at the attraction entrances themselves — on the tips board, in the Programme leaflet, for example.

— — —

GOOGLE EARTH 3D: WORTH THE WAIT

The much-publicised and subsequently much-delayed official 3D recreation of Disneyland Paris in Google Earth finally launched in mid-May and proved to be well worth the wait, offering a truly spectacular metre-by-metre recreation of every inch of the parks and resort. Visit www.disneylandparis.com/googleearth3d and lose a few hours.

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A few days later, Google Street View was also added for small stretches of each park:

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BROCHURE TESTS THE LIMITS

Have you seen the brochures and advertising for Walt Disney World? How grand and high-class it all looks. For Paris, however, the brochures in particular seem to be getting ever more garish and in-your-face with each publication. The latest, current brochure for Autumn/Winter 2009/10 features some truly frightening images of blurred children flying above the parks, with so much photoshopping and saturated colour you can barely see the resort they’re trying to advertise.

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The actual, printed version also comes with a bizarre claim on the cover of “First ever interactive brochure”. Beyond the cut-out on the cover (Mickey is actually on the page behind), the only evidence of this is a French (+33) mobile number you can text to get a video trailer of the new theme year. Several weeks later, nothing received here.

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VAT REDUCTION? VAT CHANCE

The French government has officially lowered the VAT rate for cafés and restaurants from 19.6% to just 5.5% in order to keep the industry afloat, and, while you’ll certainly find many notifications of this within the resort, you’ll be much harder pressed to actually find reductions.

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Whilst some things, especially the Half Board vouchers, have come down in price, most scenarios have just seen the prices stay the same and Disneyland Paris pocketing the difference in order to prop up the large drop in food and beverage sales this year — mostly on account of the prices being too high during a recession. Good thinking.

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ICE CREAM ARRIVES ON-SET

Walt Disney Studios Park must have been the only theme park in the world without a proper ice cream location until the latest change in its food & beverages offering. The Franklin Department Store façade (similar to the exterior of Gone Hollywood at DCA, international fans) gave up its wonderful 1950s-themed period window to become a new kiosk serving actual, real Ben & Jerry’s by the scoop.

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

The lost window was more interesting than the one remaining, featuring a mannequin woman sitting with a 1950s travel magazine, retro television and monster/sci-fi movie poster. The Tower of Terror across the way has such a minimal build-up in Paris that small period-setting details like this really mattered — the Imagineers would have put an ice cream kiosk in there from the start otherwise.

Couldn’t such a vital theme park component as ice cream have commanded its own building somewhere? Rather than expanding, the park almost seems to be imploding, with under-sized kiosks popping up all over where real, full-size boutiques and restaurants should be. More than anything, one single serving window for this in such a prominent position is madness.

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BLOCKBUSTERS IN THE BACKLOT

Over in Backlot, the big news has been the complete gutting of Backlot Express, the “props warehouse” counter service restaurant, in favour of the more brand-friendly idea of themed rooms dedicated to the Pirates of the Caribbean and High School Musical franchises. The changeover began with the arrival of a plain Ford Focus outside the restaurant, plastered with “HSM3” stickers…

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The new logo has been completed on the outside…

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And as for the inside? Well, real props from these two trilogies have yet to appear, with the High School Musical area causing much fan hair-tearing already with its “themeing” of bland posters, banners and mini basketballs (taken from merchandise). The “East High” theme does sit well within the building, but this isn’t anything someone with a good printer could set up themselves. Are there not even any costumes from the film lying around over in Burbank?

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Beyond the “torn bedsheets” (as described by magicforum members) hanging from the ceiling, the ‘Pirates’ area has defied the odds and just presented the first real surprise of this project — the removal of the metal railings of the raised “garage” area to be replaced with pirate ship-styled wooden banisters and a full ship’s wheel.

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TELEVISION STUDIOS GOES ’50s

…Or is that wishful thinking? With a long-overdue repaint of the Walt Disney Television Studios building (home to Playhouse and Stitch Live) finally beginning back in April and only just making real progress, have the maintenance teams really taken a step back and reconsidered the building, rather than just bursting ahead with the same ugly yellows the original designers chose in 2002?

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Yes, it seems so! The architecture was already within the period, but the colours didn’t quite fit. Now, a deep red has replaced the turquoise on the “fins” atop the building, with the yellow turning a much more earthy, peachy shade, in whole much closer to a 1950s Hollywood look and more pleasing next to the subdued tones of the Hollywood Tower Hotel just opposite.

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ANIMAGIQUE KIOSK MARK II

The bland merchandise kiosk which appeared outside Animagique in 2007 now has a partner. Filling in dead space on the right of the same TV Studios building, this little location opened just this week, using the new colour scheme and dressed up in a pleasingly similar style of fins and neons.

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Photo: Sean Hamilton

In any other Disney park, such a location would be given a name or some kind of personality (think Crossroads of the World at Disney’s Hollywood Studios). It offers the usual generic collection of character merchandise.

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ROCKEFELLER PLAZA REBORN

Could this be the start of a new era for the environs of Disney’s Hotel New York? The Rockefeller Plaza building, a dull games arcade for far too long, has finally reopened as a lovely café refreshments location for the Summer.

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MICKEY SWINGS INTO — AND ONTO — BUFFALO BILL’S

It was the controversy of the year — nay, the decade — and now it looks like Mickey Mouse has made home. The not-so-great poster previously stuck on the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show entrance has just been replaced by a large model of Mickey Mouse abseiling down over the building.

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Whilst it looks much smarter now, it has fans worried that the mouse may well be there to stay. On the subject of the show itself, the current Summer park programme leaflets are now advertising Adult tickets for the price of Child tickets. In high season? Maybe adding a mouse wasn’t the best way to sell the scale of this truly epic dinner show.

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FASTPASS FOR MONEY

This one must be the second-biggest controversy of the year, then. In itself not a huge thing by any means, this could however be the first step of a huge shift in how Fastpass works. From 18th July to 4th August, guests staying at Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Hotel New York and, it seems, Disney’s Newport Bay Club, can buy a special “Premium FASTPASS” for €80 per person per day.

The ticket is effectively a VIP FASTPASS, the unlimited-access ticket previously given only to guests in Club rooms and Suites, allowing you to use the FASTPASS queues for attractions as and when you want, as many times as you want to.

— — —

STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES

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GOOFY’S SUMMER CAMP

Somewhere you won’t find Mickey this year is the new show at The Chaparral Theater in Frontierland. Yes, since we last updated the topic, The Tarzan Encounter was cancelled again — for good.

This new show is somewhat like the Summer cousin to the brilliant Mickey’s Winter Wonderland, only scuppered by a desperation for audience interaction, with too few scenes between. However, with a live country band as the big “plus” to replace the Winter ice rink, a great stage and some nice musical numbers, it’s winning more fans than certain other shows this year, and much more fitting for its location than Tarzan ever was.

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MAIN STREET COMES ALIVE WITH MARCHING BAND

Last seen making brief appearances last Summer on the old Central Plaza Stage, the brass band has returned! Now performing a brilliant set of Disney music (even including Hans Zimmer’s Pirates score!) on Town Square, this is the kind of classic Disneyland entertainment we rarely see in Paris, so enjoy! The only problem — no one, not the makers of the park programme, nor the Cast Members inside City Hall, appear to have been given their performance schedule.

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CARL’S HOUSE FLIES OVER FRANCE

The real-life version of the balloon-lifted house from Pixar’s next — and 10th — major hit, “Up”, travelled over to France recently and, amongst appearing in some truly spectacular hot air balloon festivals, paid a visit to Disneyland Paris early one morning.

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— — —

AND FINALLY…

Who’d have known — the Sleeping Beauty fountain inside the Castle gallery was actually meant to trickle down into the waterfall below, beside the staircase, as one, complete water system! Now, after truly years of being turned off and ignored, it’s fixed and running. The “crystal” at the bottom of the falls glows, too!

Image
Photo: pussinboots

Wonderful. Utmost appreciation to whoever made this happen.

— — —

So there you go, DLRP Today returns!

With thanks to www.photosmagiques.com!

Sunday, 22nd March 2009

New Central Plaza Stage complete!

With the colourful construction walls down, we get our first look at the “new” Central Plaza that’ll be with us for at least the next year. So far: no flowers, fewer trees and one giant show space you simply can’t miss.

Central Plaza Stage
Photo: Scrooge, Disney Magic Interactive.

The gates of the old plaza stage have been moved outwards and supplemented with new additional, matching railings and concrete columns. Seen from this view, the slightly lower satellite platforms of the new stage fills your entire line of sight from left to right, each given decorative edging and sympathetic red and yellow tops to sit well in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Central Plaza Stage Central Plaza Stage
Photos: Fabawan, Main Street Gazette.

Even the four sets of stairs up to the new Central Plaza Stage have been decorated rather well, with low walls and matching end columns. Despite what we’ve seen of the construction revealing it to have quite a hollow and temporary build, from every angle now that it’s complete, the stage looks as good as permanent.

Central Plaza Stage
Photo: Fabawan, Main Street Gazette.

With this vast a performance space, at least, we can begin to understand why the signature It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends show will have a cast of 40 — of which around 30 alone will be dancers.

Central Plaza Stage

So far, the stage is surrounded only by flat grass. Considering the wonders worked by the resort’s gardening team to celebrate the 15th Anniversary, it’s still hoped that the reworked hub will see a colourful flower or two to break up the slightly desolate feel at the moment, and soften the very imposing walls of the stage itself.

Central Plaza Stage

Speaking of those walls — the satellite stage nearest the Castle looks as if it holds a secret or two. Like the stages before it, a removable panel has been built into the side to allow projection equipment for events like The Enchanted Fireworks to continue to be run from here.

Central Plaza Stage

But these satellites aren’t universally popular. Though they’re certainly a fair bit lower than the main stage itself, fans have been quick to realise that, if you arrived early and stood right in front of one of the platforms, it’s just that little bit too high to allow you to also see the main stage itself. Which would, to be honest, be quite a shame, since that’s where Mickey and many of the characters will be “bursting” out from, thanks to a hidden vertical stage lift we’ve mentioned previously.

Central Plaza Stage

So, ever planning their next magical trip to the resort, the fans of magicforum have already sussed out the best place to stand for the new show. Definitely not in front of one of the satellites, but just slightly to the left or right. Better still, facing the Castle — where the two arrows above are, and as shown in the picture below.

Central Plaza Stage
Photo: Tef, Disney Central Plaza.

Though, even here, you’ll face the perils of bright lights from the opposite side of the stage in your eyes, or parade poles, trees or even lampposts (which still, strangely, remain around the inner Plaza). Let the sussing-out continue…!

Photos as credited.

Saturday, 21st March 2009

Banners everywhere, lampposts toned-down!

Of all the elements of Mickey’s Magical Party to cause more than a little concern on fan communities such as our own magicforum, there’s no doubt that the loud and colourful refit of the Main Street, U.S.A. seasonal lampposts, spotted in preparation backstage, was one of the worst offenders.

Well, it comes with great delight to see that the “Quelle horreur!” most fans were preparing can now be replaced by a more positive “Quelle surprise!”. Pourquoi? Because the overlay of multi-coloured “streamers”, Mickey Mouse shapes and blue Mickey’s Magical Party logos that had been in planning for over six months has been cancelled!

On Wednesday evening, member Mouetto of Disney Central Plaza forum spotted the first four lampposts in place, looking very familiar indeed.

Mickey's Magical Party decorations

In fact, the only thing to have changed is the banners themselves — now replaced by light blue designs showing the image of Mickey, Goofy, Donald and Pluto peeking out of a Mickey Mouse-shape, surrounded by “Welcome!” written in different languages.

The new resort logo is featured below (no park-personalisation here), and the designs alternate between the French and English logos for the yearLa Fête Magique de Mickey on one side, Mickey’s Magical Party the other.

So, why the sudden and rather large change in direction? Did they read the fans’ reaction? Did they realise themselves the design wasn’t exactly in-keeping with the turn-of-the-century street? Perhaps, but there’s also the fact that this design will be far, far cheaper…

Today, Saturday 21st March, the entire street of seasonal lampposts is complete:

Mickey's Magical Party decorations

And so, the Walt Disney World-style colourful streamers which were meant to wrap themselves physically around the lampposts have been restrained to sit as a graphic on the banner and Main Street looks little different — banner design aside — to how it has for the past two years.

It should be noted these new banners don’t feature any LED lights embedded in them, though anyone who’s visited the resort since late last year can tell you that this magical effect had actually long been defunct (since many were broken and not repaired) and replaced by simply shining light on the banners instead.

Mickey's Magical Party decorations

Judging by Mouetto‘s latest photos, above, there also appear to be only 24 lampposts — 12 on each side — rather than the full set of 26. Could this be a realisation that the final pair, nearest Central Plaza, served only to block views of fireworks?

Twenty-four banners not enough for you? Well, you’re in luck. Take a stroll out through Fantasia Gardens and the resort hub and you’ll find them swamped with smaller versions of the decorations, replacing all the old 15th Anniversary banners. They’ve even made their way to the Disney Hotels.

Mickey's Magical Party decorations Mickey's Magical Party decorations

We all expected Mickey’s Magical Party to repeat the successful elements of the 15th, but perhaps not quite so closely. One area where Mickey won’t be attempting to implant party decorations appears to be the Disneyland Park entrance itself, which has just been returned to normal after two years of some very sympathetic “15” plaques replacing its castle design.

Mickey's Magical Party decorations

Sometimes, having a little restraint can be good for Disneyland.

Photos: Mouetto, Disney Central Plaza forum.

Saturday, 21st March 2009

Le Château returns… but not for long

Without the “15” plaque covering the main window, without the greying statues of Donald Duck, Buzz Lightyear and more, without a giant Tinkerbell dwarfing its highest tower… for just over a week, fans and guests have had a small window of opportunity not seen for over two years — and not about to be seen again for another year.

To see Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant as the Imagineers intended it…

Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant
11th March 2009

Well, almost. With most of the statues replaced by the original spires, coated in gold leaf, and some remaining, it was clear just how badly the 15th Anniversary decorations had lost their shine during their extended two-year stay.

Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant
14th March 2009

The entire lot were eventually removed late last week, though Tinkerbell — and her golden trail which wrapped around the top of the Castle — had already disappeared sometime before. Looking closer, it was clear that the supports for these elements were retained.

Dashing many fans’ brief hopes for a “regular” Castle and, just as the concept image for the Mickey’s Magical Party castle decorations promised, the crane reappeared over Sleeping Beauty Castle last night to re-install a cleaned-up and repainted Tink…

Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant
21st March 2009

The golden trail has also returned, circling up the tallest tower, and Tink’s wand has been connected back into the small pipe which fed confetti up to burst out during Candleabration. It’s unknown if this effect will be reused for any element of Mickey’s Magical Party.

According to the concept, we should also be seeing the spire tops replaced again by similar-looking golden ornaments in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head, along with a new oval-shaped golden ring around the main window with Mickey, Goofy, Donald and Pluto peering out. Only time will tell if the original, gleaming spires were returned for good, or simply as temporary place-holders…

Photos 1-2: BOLT, Photo 3: djbass, Photo 4: julien59, Disney Central Plaza forum.

Thursday, 19th February 2009

New Sleeping Beauty Castle decorations revealed!

Amongst the resort’s marketing of the five key events of Mickey’s Magical Party, one aspect that comes packaged along with this kind of year-long celebration has been all but overlooked: the decorations.

We’ve already spied the lampposts backstage. Now for another overlay — the new decorations for Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant — which you might have already spotted in a grainy image in the background of the event’s website.

Luckily, magicforum exclusively revealed the full concept image earlier today!

Over the past months we’ve heard every angle that the Entertainment department could approach this with — from keeping the entire 15th Anniversary overlay (minus the “15”), to covering the towers and turrets with multicoloured streamers like those on the new Main Street, U.S.A. lampposts. Now, finally, the decision has been made — and here it is…

Mickey's Magical Party Castle decorations
Click image to enlarge

Give Sleeping Beauty Castle a quick glance from afar this year and you might not even notice any difference. Though the characters and their fifteen candles are almost all gone — only Tinkerbell, her sparkling wand and special confetti spray remain — in their place, subtle rings and hoops made up of golden “streamers” form the iconic three circles of Mickey Mouse on top of each turret.

In the middle, where the “15” emblem has stood for two years, a new centrepiece forms another Mickey Mouse shape out of two golden ears and a sparkling blue circle from which Donald, Mickey, Goofy and Pluto peer out. This design appears to be the same as already seen on the lampposts and in the larger versions of the Magical Party logo.

Compared against the current 15th Anniversary overlay, it’s certainly not the revolution some fans may have feared (and was actually originally proposed) but a far more respectful evolution of the same “hand-crafted” style the designers sought to achieve back in 2007.

15th Anniversary Castle decorations
Current 15th Anniversary overlay

However, while the oval “15” emblem was very sympathetic to the Imagineering creation behind it, the design and placement of the circular Mickey & Friends centrepiece placed in front of the oval/elliptical main window of the Castle for this new design has already been met with negativity from fans just in the brief time this concept has been online.

…As, in fact, has the whole idea of a Castle overlay for Mickey’s Magical Party itself. The feeling is summed up well by Kristof on magicforum, who concludes “Castle decorations should only be used in my opinion for truly remarkable occasions, like (and perhaps only) for the park’s anniversary.”

What’s your opinion of the new Mickey’s Magical Party overlay?

Visual © Disney, photo © DLRP Magic!.

Thursday, 19th February 2009

Lampposts of Main Street prepare to Party

Will Disneyland Park be decorated for Mickey’s Magical Party? You bet it will. Though perhaps not as strongly as for the 15th Anniversary, you can expect to spot the year-long celebration even when none of its three Disneyland Park events are happening.

The first item on the (small, it should be said) list of decorations is a new look for Main Street’s “seasonal” giant white lampposts. “Seasonal” because they were first introduced as the Princess chandeliers for Christmas 2005, before being converted to hold the large, blue, LED-encrusted Lumière banners we’ve enjoyed for two whole years of the 15th Anniversary

Main Street USA decorations

…And the resort’s Entertainment department doesn’t plan on retiring them any time soon.

From late next month, expect to see Main Street, U.S.A. lined by lampposts transformed into a whole new style, covered with bright, multi-coloured streamers (similar to those seen at the American parks), topped with yellow “Mickey Mouse” shapes and holding blue circles showing an image of not only Mickey, but Donald, Goofy and Pluto too.

Retlaw on Disney Central Plaza forum managed to capture the first photo of the first “test” lamppost to be converted, hiding behind a backstage hedge:

Main Street USA decorations

The design is… eclectic, shall we say, and certainly far more modern than the classically-styled 15th Anniversary banners. The bright mixture of colours and the overall design of the streamers wrapped around the white poles closely resembles designs seen at the entrances of Disneyland in California and Magic Kingdom in Florida for their various celebrations over recent years, a sign that perhaps Paris has been swayed into following suit (by a “suit”) — or that our resort’s Entertainment team merely saw and liked the design.

As DLRP Times blog reported in January, the old 15th Anniversary banners have already all but disappeared:

Main Street USA decorations

If you’d been planning to join the advertised “finale” of the 15th Anniversary this Winter, you’d miss both the regular Candleabration and the beautiful illuminated decorations.

With all the lampposts now backstage being prepared for the Party, it’s a chance to enjoy a brief spell of Main Street, U.S.A. as it was originally designed by the Imagineers (remember them?). Expect the bright colours of the party to begin arriving in the second half of March, ready for the 28th March 2009 press events.

Photos as credited.

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