Thursday, 4th March 2010

Playland engulfs Tram Tour, Parachute ropes drop

First though, a follow up to the topping-out of RC Racer in our last Playland update. We saw how this new orange halfpipe looked from within the park, from the Disney Village parking structure and from the park entrance, but what about the impact across the way?

As with the construction of Tower of Terror, there’s been much worry about these tall new attractions appearing as unwanted icons on the Thunder Mesa skyline. The main lift hill of Big Thunder Mountain is the highest guest viewpoint in Frontierland, and here’s how it looks:

Toy Story Playland construction

RC Racer is barely noticeable as you speed over the top of the hill, Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop stands out a little but not disastrously so and the Tower continues to dominate from every angle. In fact, it’s the hulk of the (in some places, unpainted!) 2007 showbuilding for Crush’s Coaster that blots the horizon the most. Once those trees have leaves, the newest additions will be even less visible.

And what about from the top deck of the riverboats, passing below here? Imagine the height of this lift hill against the height of the boats, and the Playland attractions should miraculously fall just — and really, just — below the berm there, right? Clearly Thunder Mesa already has planning laws about visual intrusion marked out for all but the biggest E-Tickets, and these attractions have been pushed right up to the limit.

From the main promenade of the Frontier town itself, none of these attractions are visible.

Still, it’d be nice to see this berm at the back of the land given a bit of “thickening up” to hide as much as possible… a few more fir trees wouldn’t go amiss. It’s an odd quirk of the Big Thunder lift hill that it offers such a view to break the spell of the otherwise flawless land. Perhaps the Imagineers of the early nineties just never envisaged plans for “Disney MGM Studios Europe”, as the park was originally going to known, encompassing any rides as tall as the Tower of Terror and co…

Anyway, onto the main news of this welcome midweek update from Walt Disney Studios.

We possibly haven’t mentioned the news on DLRP Today, but as the Closures & Refurbishments calendar over at DLRP Magic! has indicated for a while, Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic is set for a lengthy closure beginning 1st March. And just like that, the blue walls appeared…

Toy Story Playland construction

This is a really wide outbreak of walls, too — swallowing up the whole queue and loading area…

Toy Story Playland construction

…and even the old Fastpass distribution area, which hasn’t been used since 2002…

Toy Story Playland construction

Current schedules on the official website state the attraction is closed for the whole of March and April 2010, but other sources suggest it won’t reopen until as late as 31st May 2010 — a full three-months of downtime.

Details are sketchy about why it needs such a lengthy closure, though you can imagine it’s partly to ease construction of Toy Story Playland, which sits right up against the tour’s route. At the same time, these months will surely be used to do something drastic about Catastrophe Canyon, which has been in a frightening state for years. Completely blackened and lacking its ochre colour, effects often patchy, the truck itself completely washed out. Who knew it used to be red?

Refurbishments and clean-ups are probably all we can hope for besides the ongoing Playland construction, but wouldn’t it be nice if they surprised us somehow? How much would a few new props, a re-dressed Dinotopia set, an improved queue line really cost? Don’t hold your breath.

Toy Story Playland construction

Moving on…

That was no exaggeration to say the construction walls have engulfed the whole area. The path at the back of Art of Disney Animation has, at the same time, been squashed to almost half its size, providing a quite uncomfortably narrow link between Hollywood Boulevard and the back of Toon Studio:

Toy Story Playland construction

Soon enough, the view below will see not only two of the new attractions but the “giant” Buzz Lightyear figure planned to stand at the entrance of the mini-land atop building blocks.

The sandy-coloured floor of the land will also “spill out” slightly, according to concept art, but it’s a shame the path here will eventually reopen to its full size… looking pretty much a same: An unthemed “no mans land”, when there are so many possibilities for Hollywood/Toon transitions…

Toy Story Playland construction

Toy Story Playland construction

The old railings and lights along it, which ended up lasting less than 3 years, appear to be long gone as we take a peek underneath the walls. The rest of the dull old asphalt has yet to be touched. At some point, planting of that tall bamboo “grass” needs to start here and new fences put in place around the future land.

Finally, Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop has just celebrated its own version of the classic Disney park “rope drop”. Yesterday, three of the six drop arms received their parachute cables — two each, dropping from the tower — soon to hoist the large six-seater parachutes into the air:

Toy Story Playland construction

Toy Story Playland construction

Toy Story Playland construction

The cables are currently just dropping to the floor — there’s a lot of work still to be done before we see any movement and “test missions” from the Green Army Men here.

As an added “finally”, since so many people are asking… The vague official word from Disneyland Paris is that Toy Story Playland will open “late Summer 2010”. This is a slight rewording from the simple “Summer 2010” stated in brochures, the reason being that latest internal dates state an August 2010 grand opening — and no, still no exact date.

Perhaps a little disappointing given that it should be a big feature of the New Generation Festival year, and Toy Story 3 (released here in July) will already be old news in European cinemas by then. There will be a lot of people who haven’t checked the details arriving at the park from April to still find a construction site. All the more reason to visit again …or not?

Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.com

Tuesday, 2nd March 2010

Two more New Gen TV spots and the ‘Making Of’

As reported with the exclusive posting of the full 40 second TV spot yesterday, there are five different formats for the New Generation Festival television campaign in the UK — including two 30 second adverts and three 10 second spots.

First, we’ll share the 10 second ‘Announcement’ spot that has been played the most heavily so far and actually features the little-seen Incredibles, simply announcing that the New Generation Festival is landing at Disneyland Paris from 2nd April, without a single special offer or call to action at the end:

The idea here is to build interest in the campaign without giving everything away.

Next, Version B of the 30 second spot is worth noting because it’s the only UK advert that features the Lightning McQueen/Cinderella pair-up we saw in the stills posted last week:

Perhaps, now that “cheapquels” like Cinderella 3 have been put to bed, we’ll be seeing Disney branching out with unexpected crossover movies, beginning with the long-awaited “McCindy” (as the gossip rags are calling the couple) romantic comedy. No?

The other 30 second version of the commercial uses the shots of Toy Story Playland where this Lightning McQueen scene is, whilst the two additional 10 second adverts focus on the Kids Under 7 and Save 40% offers respectively, none featuring any real additional or alternate footage.

At the weekend, Disneyland Paris released some ‘Making Of’ photographs from the production of the commercials. Motion Theory, based in California, naturally took to the sun-kissed lands of the original Disneyland Resort in Anaheim to film the outdoor scenes — or rather its second gate, California Adventure.

Here we see the camera set-up to capture the leading float of the park’s Pixar Play Parade (which would have actually been perfect for Paris this year) being paraded through Hollywood Pictures Backlot:

New Generation Festival TV Spot

This photo of the clapperboard confirms Mathew Cullen and Christopher Leone to be the directors:

New Generation Festival TV Spot

Mathew Cullen co-directed the Black Eyed Peas’ recent Grammy award winner for Best Music Video, whilst Christopher Leone tweeted a link to our video of the TV spot yesterday saying “Looks like the UK version of our Disneyland Paris commercial is already on YouTube”. Well, we don’t waste any time!

New Generation Festival TV Spot

Did you spot Nemo falling from the sky? That fishbowl wasn’t animated, it was hung by wire in front of a chroma key bluescreen, with Nemo animated inside to get as realistic a look as possible!

New Generation Festival TV Spot

Finally, the RC Racer scene where Donald Duck rides this new halfpipe attraction required the construction of a giant mock-up of the final vehicle, RC himself. The actors screamed as the camera rose and fell towards them, bluescreen behind, ready for Donald to be animated into the empty seat.

New Generation Festival TV Spot

The ride vehicle of the finished attraction will probably be slightly different in appearance, and will definitely have far more (though still relatively few) seats — 20 compared to the 6 here.

• You can find all the commercials on our YouTube channel. Favourite and share them with friends!

Videos and photos © Disney, © Disney/Pixar.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2010

Main Street’s Springtime windows span generations

Following last year’s rustic, Spring countryside theme, the refreshed shop windows for Spring 2010 explore knowledge and culture from across the generations, with a heavy foothold in French history.

From Donald and Daisy at a Versailles masquerade ball alongside Princess Tiana to Remy exploring haute cuisine and Mickey and Minnie playing at La Princess et le Troubador, the windows mix new generation characters like Mike Wazowski and The Incredibles into historic themes of Renaissance to show that things are constantly evolving, even on the frozen-in-time cobbles of Main Street USA…

Main Street shop windows Main Street shop windows

Main Street shop windows Main Street shop windows

Main Street shop windows Main Street shop windows

Main Street shop windows

Main Street shop windows

Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.

Monday, 1st March 2010

RC Racer adds purple, orange splash to the Studios

One week to build a single curve of orange Hot Wheels track would normally be a bit slow, but when you’re dealing with the new 25-metre steel halfpipe of Walt Disney Studios Park, this is certainly not bad going.

Looking sleeker and more playful than the slightly utilitarian structure of the Parachute Drop, RC Racer grew from purple/pink steel supports in the third week of February to its full orange height just last week.

Member mehdi5 on magicforum captured some great shots of the new ride being pieced together:

RC Racer in Toy Story Playland RC Racer in Toy Story Playland

Whilst this weekend, Dlrpteam took to the park and assessed the impact for us:

RC Racer in Toy Story Playland

Compared to the still very modest size of the Studios’ current floorspace, Toy Story Playland occupies quite a sizeable extension; this halfpipe positioned right at the back of the area up against the new curve in the repositioned Studio Tram Tour route. As such, it has a less dominating impact on the park at present.

RC Racer in Toy Story Playland

RC Racer in Toy Story Playland RC Racer in Toy Story Playland

Sitting between the other recent Toon Studio additions, the new attractions do appear to complete a very colourful palette of attractions — pink and orange for RC, green for Toy Soldiers, yellow and red for Cars and blue for Crush’s Coaster. But this attraction is what it is — a large steel halfpipe, similar to those produced for “regular” amusement parks by coaster manufacturer Intamin, with only minimal customisation above ground.

RC Racer in Toy Story Playland

RC Racer in Toy Story Playland

RC Racer in Toy Story Playland

That customisation has actually yet to appear — if you thought the ribcage design of the track is a little strange, that’s because flat orange pieces will sit between those steel protrusions, to give the look of a flat Hot Wheels-style track. In fact, the 20-seater vehicle will really be running on this very Intamin-like triangular track hidden in the middle.

Heading around the park, the more slender track and distant placement of RC Racer gives it much less impact than the Parachute Drop. The wide base, where the covered station loading area will span the track, nevertheless plays a few perspective tricks, making the ride looks wide and expansive from Backlot (and particularly the raised entrance area of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster):

RC Racer in Toy Story Playland

Yet rather more slim and subtle from Vine Street, which runs diagonally past The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror entrance:

RC Racer in Toy Story Playland

From outside the main body of the park, Studio 1 completely blocks all visual intrusion from Toy Story Playland whilst in Front Lot. You’ve got to back up to the higher level of the main resort hub to catch a glimpse of the new attractions between Studios 1 and 3:

RC Racer in Toy Story Playland

Finally, let’s climb the Disney Village parking structure to see how the two towering new rides slot into the wider park. Zoomed in, it’s still the plump tower of Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop which has the impact from this angle. Currently unlit, RC Racer has less presence all the way in the distance there:

RC Racer in Toy Story Playland

And looking at the complete picture, the new land is completely dwarfed by Tower of Terror. As expected, the two attractions, both around 25 metres high, just about reach the top of the Tower’s front showbuilding, and no higher:

RC Racer in Toy Story Playland

Nevertheless, the ride presents a dilemma for the morals of Disney Imagineering fans. On the one hand, it’s a steel halfpipe that now towers over much of the park. On the other, the clever Hot Wheels concept might well allow it to justify itself — at least far more easily than past WDI creations such as Mulholland Madness (California), Primeval Whirl (Florida) or even mini coasters like Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster (Tokyo) and Gadget’s Go Coaster (Tokyo/California), all of which feature bare steel track and supports with little grace.

Photos by mehdi5, Dlrpteam.

Monday, 1st March 2010

Watch the full New Generation Festival TV spot!

If those stills from the epic new Disneyland Paris TV spot whet your appetite and you’ve yet to catch the ad on any of the major broadcasters in the UK, we’ve got a treat.

The full, 40 second commercial for the New Generation Festival. Enjoy:

Produced by Motion Theory — whose past credits include Honda, McCain, Nintendo and music videos such as Adele’s Chasing Pavements — for the resort’s agency EuroRSCG, this spectacular advert combines live action footage filmed in California with all-new animation of Disney and Pixar stars.

You’ll be seeing it for the next month across all the major TV networks. As well as this full 40 second version, you’ll see two 30 second versions and three 10 second spots, which we’ll be sharing soon!

In the UK, the commercials are trailing a new ‘Save up to 40% plus Kids under 7 stay and play Free’ offer, a quite unexpected return to such heavy discounting — the validity period even running right up to 8th November. Pushed with such a professional and genuinely exciting TV spot, Disneyland Paris looks set to be making quite a big impression in the UK over the next few months, as it attempts to win back the visitors lost through the credit crisis and poor exchange rates.

TV spots and advertising should launch outside the UK from next week, 8th March.

Video © Disney, Disney/Pixar.

Friday, 26th February 2010

Remy’s ‘Ratatouille roadster’ for Stars ‘n’ Cars revealed

The twelfth car in the Stars ‘n’ Cars fleet will arrive in Walt Disney Studios Park from 2nd April. Featuring Remy and Emile from Pixar’s 2007 film Ratatouille, the design of this all-new motor vehicle is available to see for the first time in a video on the newly-launched website!

We get to see the car being drawn up in 3D computer design:

Ratatouille car for Disney's Stars 'n' Cars

Ratatouille car for Disney's Stars 'n' Cars

And then in the first stages of construction:

Ratatouille car for Disney's Stars 'n' Cars

This isn’t a brand new vehicle, though — as expected, it bears more than a slight resemblance to one of the cars of Florida’s original Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade which didn’t make it into the Parisian studios park. Even with its rear jet engines removed, the car is recognisable as the old Star Wars car, with its unique front radiator grill.

Gone is the cream and maroon colour scheme, too, in favour of a bright red. After the cars of Mulan and Monsters, Inc. this is the parade’s third red car, a little lacking in variety — but perhaps they wanted to give a nod to something like the classic French Citroen 2CV?

The decoration of the car is very different to that seen in the preliminary advertising visual; far more outlandish and overstated. Piled up behind the two rats will be a giant stack of pots and pans, kitchen knives, a spatula, a funnel and a ladle. Not forgetting the all-important bottle of wine.

Ratatouille car for Disney's Stars 'n' Cars

Ratatouille car for Disney's Stars 'n' Cars

The video shows the pieces of this tower being constructed in workshops, and tested out for size on the car itself. The bonnet of the vehicle appears to show the fruits of all that hard work and pile of washing up behind — a finished table setting with plate and giant rat-sized glass.

Ratatouille car for Disney's Stars 'n' Cars

Ratatouille car for Disney's Stars 'n' Cars

Here’s the full 3D model, note that the entire thing is scattered with those beautiful vintage posters for “Le Ratatouille” and “Gusteau’s”, created by Pixar to advertise the film and in some cases currently used in the park already at Restaurant des Stars. The sign for “Le Ratatouille”, the restaurant owned by Linguini at the end of the film, acts as a flag atop the cavalcade:

Ratatouille car for Disney's Stars 'n' Cars

Ratatouille car for Disney's Stars 'n' Cars

But a new car in the line-up isn’t the only kick Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars is getting in its second year. Show director Emmanuel Lenormand also mentions in the video a new and very Parisian can-can-style routine starring Rémy and Emile that will presumably be incorporated into the musical production number that takes place on the Place des Stars Stage when all the motor cars park up.

Ratatouille car for Disney's Stars 'n' Cars

Since that small show currently focuses mostly on characters such as Aladdin and Snow White, it’d be good to also see some of the characters left out — notably ‘New Gen’ heavyweights Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. — joining in this year, if that doesn’t produce too much overlap with Disney Showtime Spectacular over on Central Plaza.

Meanwhile, let’s hope this is just an appetiser for Remy, and that the main course is yet to come…

• Watch HD videos of the original Stars ‘n’ Cars parade and show here.

Images © Disney, Disney/Pixar.

Thursday, 25th February 2010

WALL-E buys a ticket for the All Stars Express!

Show director Christophe Leclercq stands in front of previously unseen concept art for the 2010 redressing of Minnie’s Party Train (née Disney Characters’ Express) in the video on the official event page, revealing a redecorated Casey Jr. train. Before we dive into the screenshots, watch it back:

Previously, we’d been led to believe that the train would remain largely unchanged from its 2009/10 form, as the only piece of imagery published so far showed it retaining Minnie’s polka dots.

However, the concept art revealed here shows the wagon supports and roofs redressed with bright, toy-like multicolours — red, yellow, green and blue — and given New Generation Festival logos, with the engine itself a bright white, its ribbon bearing “All Stars Express” lettering.

Take a look at these large-format stills (click for even larger versions):

Disney All Stars Express

Above, the multicolours and some new flags atop the carriages, carrying the logos of Monsters, Inc., The Incredibles and other ‘New Generation’ films.

The most interesting moment of the video, though, is when Christophe mentions the characters who we’ll find on board the train. Speaking in French, he quite clearly first mentions — yes, WALL-E! The robot from Pixar’s 2008 film of the same name.

So, take another look at the Disney All Stars Express concept art…

Disney All Stars Express

There he is, sitting atop the coal in the engine’s tender!

The following design image even flashes up on screen for a brief moment, with the words “pose reference only” suggesting that Disneyland Paris have been forwarded three-dimensional character models by Pixar in order to build the full-size figure:

Disney All Stars Express

But it gets complicated, at least for us English-speakers. On the UK website, the subtitles provided for Christophe’s French script strangely replace the very clear “WALL-E” with “Sulley”, take a look:

Disney All Stars Express

We’ve mentioned in the past that the gang of ‘New Generation characters’ to be featured heavily this year has been set for some time, and certainly doesn’t include WALL-E anywhere. Could this be a late cover-up of a cancelled plan?

Hopefully not — the familiar character train needs something beyond a few new colours to keep it fresh for yet another guise. This Pixar robot atop the tender would be just the ticket. Ha ha! Just the ticket! ……

Images © Disney.

Thursday, 25th February 2010

New Gen website connects you to the festival stars

At last, it has landed! The official website of the New Generation Festival has belatedly opened this evening, two days later than originally promised. We were posting progress updates on Twitter over the past few days and it seems that this new website is very in tune with the latest social media, too.

But first, the main page:

Disney New Generation Festival website

As we revealed, the first “plus” of this new website is that it’s actually integrated within the regular Disneyland Paris website, not standing alone as a Flash minisite (that’ll inevitably get forgotten about) like the Mickey’s Magical Party or 15th Anniversary efforts. And there’s another big plus: the use of Flash animations is kept to a minimum, mainly just used within the page for videos.

The design is indeed quite similar to the new Casting website launched a year ago, with a clean white background and three columns for information. Graphics are crisp and colourful; it’s a definite step up.

Disney New Generation Festival website

Each “new show” has its own page, with a large image at the top and a snippet of information below. The website pushes the “book” button on each page very heavily — far more heavily than we’re used to from Disneyland Paris — with the whole of the main image (above, Sulley and Mike) linking to the official site’s Hotels page.

Clicking the “Enlarge” link doesn’t enlarge the image but actually opens a short 30 second video about each new feature in a pop-up within the page:

Disney New Generation Festival website

The “new attractions” section doesn’t have much to share yet, except for stating slightly more specifically that Toy Story Playland is due to open “late Summer”. There’s no mainpage for Toy Story Playland itself, each of the three new attractions are simply listed in the menu with separate pages:

Disney New Generation Festival website

The next area is where all that newfangled Twitter and Facebook stuff comes out to play. We’ve long been confused, baffled and dismayed the Disneyland Paris hasn’t set up its own account on these social networking services, or even on something like YouTube. Walt Disney World and Disneyland have hundreds of thousands of “fans” or followers (Disneyland over 1.2 million) on these services, whom they can address directly with news, photos and offers.

Whilst this new website embraces that idea, it doesn’t appear to be putting it to much good cause. The ‘Characters’ section gives you unique pages for each of the ‘New Generation characters’…

Disney New Generation Festival website

The pages mimic Facebook to present a profile for each of the stars, complete with live Twitter status updates. So far, only a few of the characters have updates posted — below, Mike Wazowski says “You won’t believe your eye!”…

Disney New Generation Festival website

This networking game is probably the “hook” of the website that would, in the past, have been filled with a Flash-based minigame, designed to get people to visit more than just the once.

You can also choose to see “all the Characters” for a wider (and quite random) selection of stars…

Disney New Generation Festival website

The people behind the website have been busy setting up accounts for each of the characters involved. Here’s an example of Lighting McQueen (listed by his French name, Flash McQueen, on the UK site) on Facebook and Twitter.

All good fun, and a good way to build some affinity with the “star” characters of the coming year, but with such a large number of characters it remains to be seen if these accounts will all be updated right throughout the year — not to mention how they’ll manage the difficulty of serving different languages.

One section that may well become a great source of more worthwhile updates is the “latest news” area. Not since the 15th Anniversary blog has the resort had a space like this to share official news updates with the general public. This is very welcome indeed.

Disney New Generation Festival website

It’s all pleasantly Flash-free and comes with a good selection of backstage videos — more on those soon.

The final section strays back into the hit-and-miss land of social media. Click the “register” button at the top of the site and you’ll then have the chance to “create your profile”, including uploading a photo and setting information like your “favourite place at Disneyland Paris” and whether you have an Annual Passport.

Disney New Generation Festival website

Near the end of this form you can choose to make your profile public. Doing so seems to make it viewable as part of the “Fan Community” pages… are they trying to take over from magicforum?

Disney New Generation Festival website

In fact, this again currently seems to be lacking reason. At the time of writing no “fans” appear to have added their profile to the directory, and the “search for a special offer” function is confusing — what are we searching for? It’s hard to see what all this is meant to achieve that official Disneyland Paris pages on Facebook couldn’t, much more successfully.

Visit the New Generation Festival website here.

Images © Disney.

Wednesday, 24th February 2010

New Generation Festival TV spot in pictures

Launching on 1st March (next Monday) in the UK and around the rest of Europe soon after, the TV commercial opens as the New Generation characters and stars begin falling from the sky (from a Dinoco helicoper!), descending over the classic fairytale worlds of Disneyland Park…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

The advert is a mix of live action backgrounds with both computer and hand-drawn animation. Some of the characters have a less than perfect landing — Sulley falls straight through the thatched roof of the dwarves’ cottage…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

Giving Snow White and guests, not to mention the monster himself, a sudden surprise…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

Lightning McQueen, meanwhile, lands on the parade route, just missing Cinderella’s carriage.

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

The princess seems to take it all in her stride…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

And watches on as Princess Tiana joins her exclusive circle of friends…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

And then, what will be the most pored-over image of the whole commercial — a rather “playful” representation of Toy Story Playland. Donald Duck rides a (very oversized!) RC Racer up into the sky with Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop in the background, as Buzz Lightyear flies overhead…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

The final shot shows the new and old joining together in a grand parade…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

Whilst Goofy is pictured riding atop the opening float from Pixar Play Parade at Disney’s California Adventure (the parade that has been suggested may come to our Studios at some point), there’s little mention of the actual New Generation Festival events mentioned in brochures and press releases, such as Disney Showtime Spectacular on Central Plaza Stage.

There’s a chance that the use of Nemo and Lighting McQueen could make even several year-old attractions like Crush’s Coaster (which wasn’t all that heavily advertised upon opening) seem a part of the “new generation” offerings, for less frequent visitors.

The commercial was produced in California and features original animation of the characters involved. After the uninspiring balloons of Mickey’s Magical Party, the presence of a real narrative here, of the characters landing in the parks amongst classic set pieces, appears to be one of the best-executed campaigns from Disneyland Paris for some time, even in stills.

Keep your eyes peeled on major terrestrial and digital channels in the UK from Monday, with the “heavyweight” campaign running in several time lengths and formats right up to 4th April.

Images © Disney, Disney/Pixar.

Tuesday, 16th February 2010

Parachute Drop adds more pieces to the skyline

Our previous construction update on the Parachute Drop of future Toy Story Playland provoked an unprecedented response. In one corner of the playroom, those apparently disgusted by the appearance of this steel pylon in a Disney theme park. In the other, those who are just pleased to see some new rides finding their way into the Studios.

A couple of weeks later, construction has progressed quite a bit more and our photo reporter Dlrpteam has captured some new angles showing how the tower fits into the existing park.

Stepping out of Disney Studio 1 into our mini Hollywood Boulevard

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

…no Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop here. Even as you continue up the short stretch of street already in place, the façades built in 2007 are thankfully towering enough to completely block out any visual intrusion from a certain structure behind Art of Disney Animation on the right.

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

In fact, you only see the camouflage-patterned tower once you reach the junction with ‘Vine Street’, the route which crosses diagonally in front of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Here it looms large ahead, yet to be joined by the 25-metre orange halfpipe of RC Racer.

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

Although, at least in the first photo above, the view could be completely hidden simply by adding another piece to the right of that flat cut-out backdrop.

Since the last update, all six of the winch mechanism platforms are now fixed in place atop of the tower, giving it a far more solid look — if not exactly “toy-like” at present.

They’re painted in a similar green to the camouflage spots on the tower itself and will hold the cables of each parachute, feeding them down the tower itself into the ride machinery which “bounces” the parachutes up and down. Note also in the other photos here that the steel framework of the Slinky Dog and Toy Soldiers queue buildings have been painted a similar dark green.

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

Speaking of those parachutes, WDSfans finally got confirmation of the actual ride capacity, which we’ve been unsure of for a while. While the main Toy Story Playland concept art showed parachutes with three seats back-to-back (total 6), other concepts and models showed a set-up more alike Jumpin’ Jellyfish at Disney’s California Adventure, with only 2 seats per parachute. Luckily, that original concept art was accurate — there will be SIX seats per parachute, in rows of three back-to-back, adding up to a grand total of 36 riders per cycle.

This means that with just one (unsightly?) tower, the ride will have a capacity much larger than the 24 riders held by two towers in California, which has to be a good thing. The ride cycle itself will run for exactly 1 minute in Paris, compared with 1 minute 30 seconds for Jumpin’ Jellyfish, increasing throughput and further shortening queue times, which had been a big concern for many.

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

With capacity perhaps not such an issue after all, that (for now) just leaves the looks and height of the tower to be questioned. Whilst the Parachute Drop is quite neatly hidden and almost unnoticable through the thick gardens of Tower of Terror (above and below)…

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

…The least flattering angle looks to be the view from the side of Tower of Terror, across the always-unappealing tarmac of the Studio Tram Tour loading area, as pictured below:

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

But what about when Hollywood Boulevard finally expands? Of course, that’s probably years away, but with a boulevard slicing through here bringing towering new buildings either side, the Parachute Drop would be easily hidden from this angle and many others. Think about it.

Just like the Toy Soldiers, Walt Disney Imagineering surely have their mission all planned out, right?

Pictures by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.com

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