The studio concept appears to be alive and well at Walt Disney Studios Park, as Disneyland Paris announces a brand new “Studio D” character show to replace “Disney Junior – Live on Stage!” which closed in April.Read More…
As discovered previously, this lengthy refurbishment spanning almost the entire year has not simply brought the façade back to its clean and crisp original state but attempted to “plus” it at the same time, with a wider palette of colours used to emphasise its features.
Is it ready for the catwalk? Not quite, but it’s getting there…
The latest section to be revealed is the round corner piece and its two striking Art Deco fins. Where originally these were painted entirely in the same cold yellow with turquoise accents, now they’ve been given a less sharp main colour with a deeper yellow at each end, in the space where the neon lights sit.
Most noticeable, though — the turquoise has become a warm red, matching the new kiosk next door and hopefully giving this corner a slightly more “1950s” feel. Pleasingly, the red, turquoise and yellow neon lights all remain.
Last time we ended with an “unfortunately…” about the still-missing ‘Walt Disney Television Studios’ sign (which would probably be a finishing touch anyway). This time, it has to be said that it’s a shame such lengths would be gone to for a refurbishment without that damn security camera being concealed a little better.
Yes, you see it, the round thing on the white pole, sticking out the roof of the building. It’s the kind of thing you normally don’t spot — but once you do, you spot it every time. Sorry. Look closely at the Studios and you can also see them hanging from Art of Disney Animation and Flying Carpets Over Agrabah. We never manage to spot them in Disneyland Park, so why force supermarket chic on the Studios?
But no-one’s ever completely happy these days. Blame TV.
• See more new pictures from the resort in the latest Photos Magiques update.
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.
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.
Credit crunch souvenirs
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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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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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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.
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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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.
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)…
And the water channels leading to the drinking fountains beside La Cabane des Robinson.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
The new logo has been completed on the outside…
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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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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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!
Wonderful. Utmost appreciation to whoever made this happen.
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So there you go, DLRP Today returns!
With thanks to www.photosmagiques.com!
Heading to Disneyland Resort Paris with Playhouse Disney fans over the next three weeks? You could be in luck. Member (and Cast Member) guimik at Disney Central Plaza forum has posted the full “soft opening” show schedule, as published internally at the resort.
It goes as follows:
Saturday 21st, Sunday 22nd, Monday 23rd March 2009
French: 11:30, 13:00
Tuesday 24th, Wednesday 25th March 2009
French: 11:15, 12:45
English: 12:00, 14:30
Spanish: 13:30, 15:15
Thursday 26th March 2009
French: 11:30, 13:00, 15:30
English: 12:15, 13:45, 17:00
Spanish: 14:45, 16:15
Saturday 28th, Sunday 29th March;
Wednesday 1st, Thursday 2nd April 2009
French: 10:30, 12:00, 13:30
Friday, 3rd April 2009
French: 10:30, 12:00, 13:30, 15:15, 16:45
English: 11:15, 14:30, 17:30
Spanish: 12:45, 16:00
So, Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage! certainly won’t be the five-performances-a-day attraction expected. If the final soft opening date, 3rd April, just a day before the official opening, is the most likely to show the final schedule, this means we’ll be seeing 10 shows per day on peak dates. Five of those French, three English and two Spanish.
The same source, guimik, also confirms another very interesting detail — the capacity of the new theatre/show room is 480 guests. Next door, the benches of the Stitch Live! theatre welcome 200 guests per performance.
So, even given that guests at Playhouse Disney will sit on the floor close to the puppets’ stage and mostly be quite small-bodied, this new show room in the former Disney Channel CyberSpace post-show area will be quite a bit bigger.
Note: “Soft Opening”, by the way, is a Disney term given to advance previews of a new attraction, when it opens to the public ahead of the advertised date in order to train the Cast Members, test satisfaction and simply make sure everything is ready for the big day. It should be noted that these dates and showtimes can therefore be subject to change or cancellation without notice.
We’ve been used to that tiny corner of Production Coutyard being behind blue construction walls for over a year now, but last week saw a sudden flurry of new fences — and more dramatic activity — in the area.
The walls have been extended to cover a much larger area in front of — and, interestingly, to the left of — the park’s new attraction.
One thing not behind the fences of Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage! is the new show times board, reclaimed from the front of Stitch Live! last month and now finished in its new position with a nicer brick flooring.
But that’s not all — continuing Paris’ love for high-tech video screen tips and times boards, the old poster case has now been fitted with a fancy LCD screen, so that the show times are updated throughout the day and always kept in-sync with the LED electronic displays below the entrance sign.
Next, our friends at Photos Magiques did what fans do best and moved over to the top of the Disney Village parking structure to get a look behind those construction fences…
Above, you can see the new wall constructed along the side of the Television Studios building, where it is expected guests will exit from the attraction. Recently, the backstage doors here were painted the same purple/pink as the Playhouse Disney logo.
What? Not dramatic enough for you? Well, take a look at this…!
Just as they were blasting a hole in the wall of Walt Disney Studios Store, the construction crew were finally given chance to let loose and remove that abandoned character trailer!
As we only very recently wrote in a special Wish List column about the decaying caravan, it had long ago ceased to serve its purpose. Since this expansion slot is unlikely to see construction of Soarin’ or another new attraction anytime soon, we concluded it’d be a wise investment to build up a higher berm (a boundary hill) and some thick trees here, to finally block the outside world.
Well, they’ve been ruthless enough to finally remove the dirty temporary fences along this stretch and fill in the area where the trailer used to be, to make sure it all looks clean and tidy for the launch of Playhouse Disney. But, this is still the Disneyland Resort Paris we know and love…
…Not so ruthless after all.
Traditionally, Disneyland Resort Paris has sought to make its entertainment productions as independent from language as possible, with stories kept very visual and a sometimes baffling compromise between speech in French or English.
In 2004, The Legend of the Lion King broke the trend by having separate English and French shows. Last year, Stitch Live! followed Simba with separate shows. And now, as we’ve been expecting, Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage! will use the same idea… but with a difference.
As announced by creative director Kat de Blois in her Media Magic Interview on DLRP Today, the new puppet stage show will be performed in French, English AND Spanish. This would make it the first ever entertainment production at the resort to be presented “en Español”.
Kat de Blois revealed: “It’s show that comes from the US, yet here, we’re going to present it in three languages, for the first time in the world: English, French and Spanish according to the audience.” The main European markets of the Playhouse Disney channel itself are UK & Ireland, France and Spain, so this decision certainly makes sense — especially since the audience will be much younger and less able to understand different languages than for other shows.
You might remember though that, during the opening phase of Stitch Live!, there were reports that the “ticket booth” Cast Member shelter features a button alongside “Français” and “English” reading “Español”, suggesting its electronic signs had been built ready for a third language. However, no Spanish shows have ever been presented at the attraction, despite guest numbers from the country continuing to rise massively — if you’ve been a long-time visitor to the resort, you’ll certainly have noticed much more “Español” around the parks in the past two years.
Now, it appears Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage! will be the first to truly acknowledge the Mouse’s newfound fans with their own translated performance.
Our thanks to Google translator for the (possibly incorrect) headline.
It seems like this final week in February has become an annual time to see the latest marketing campaigns and TV commercials of Disneyland Resort Paris being premiered. Exactly one year ago today, we saw The Celebration Continues… Big Time! unwrapped on our TV screens, whilst two years ago, the ever-beautiful advertisements for the 15th Anniversary itself unravelled.
This year, the TV spot is… floating onto our screens, naturally filled with hundreds upon hundreds of colourful balloons to advertise Mickey’s Magical Party.
The lively spot begins with a stunning shot of balloons flying above the clouds, mountains in the background, with a strong yellow tint. As the second shot appears, of balloons flying around the side of a bushy, clearly sun-drenched hill toward a noticeably distant city from most of North West Europe, it looks like those balloons have reached further than any of us could have predicted…
Indeed, to film this new commercial, production was taken all the way to… South Africa! According to admin Kristof on magicforum, even the It’s Dance Time DJ podium and a replica of one corner of the new Central Plaza stage were taken, along with all the characters and costumes you see, to then only be filmed in front of green-screen with the real Disneyland Resort Paris backdrops inserted later!
This practice isn’t uncommon though, as member experiment627 adds, “a lot of commercials are being shot in South Africa, for there are landscapes that resemble Europe quite a bit and you pretty much got sun and blue skies most of the year.”
As the balloons reach the city streets, one bumps right into a young boy running home from school.
He grabs hold of it, pulls the invitation from its string…
And opens up the envelope to reveal a Mickey shape and the Mickey’s Magical Party logo.
Miraculously, he’s then transported immediately to Disneyland Resort Paris!
The voiceover of the TV spot is different again to previous years, with a clearer and more placid voice beginning “This year, it’s Mickey’s Magical Party, and Disneyland is expecting an extraordinary hero… you!”.
“Discover DJ Stitch’s first fantastic show,” he continues, as shots of the new Dance Time podium and its blue and pink-dressed cast in front of Space Mountain play, with several other guests dancing on the multi-coloured dance mats.
“…The new attraction, Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!,” continues the announcer, with shots of the Playhouse Disney puppets…
…the young boy laughing along, and a full depication of the stage (though likely not the real thing), as if set up for the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse scene…
The advert reaches its conclusion as another balloon sweeps across the screen to reveal a lively Mickey Mouse running across the new Central Plaza stage — another green-screen creation.
The voiceover adds “…and Mickey and friends’ exciting new show, and many more surprises”.
Here we see Mickey and Goofy dancing on a recreation of the stage, with brightly-dressed dancers behind, mostly in white and red colours, with the men wearing orange shirts.
Notice also that the Castle has been touched-up with its recently-revealed overlay of new decorations. Here, though, the “Mickey & Friends” plaque covering the main window appears to match its oval shape, rather than the uncomfortable circle seen in the concept.
Mickey shows us some moves, then we suddenly cut to the generic Disney Parks endboard…
As with the commercials of the previous two years, it seems Disneyland Resort Paris are required to use this generic branding to end their TV advertisements, featuring a bizarre mélange of all the Disney castles but now with added ballons.
The endboard is clear and the colours do work well with the red of Mickey’s Magical Party, but the overall effect is probably slightly jarring to the viewer, being so different to the footage just seen — and featuring a Castle that, as anyone knows, doesn’t exist anywhere — especially not Disneyland Resort Paris.
Please, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, can’t we have the real Castle for each resort?
It’s a lively, colourful, sunny and very well-produced TV spot, though, and it’s certainly brilliant to see real Disneyland Resort Paris locations used for once, if only via green-screen. You’ll probably notice two large elements of the party are entirely absent, however. Well, one major element and one not-so-major: Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars and Minnie’s Party Train.
To skip the Party Train is obviously no surprise, but many fans would agree they’d have expected to see something of the Studios’ large new parade event in the TV spot. Looks like the resort’s old fear, of mentioning the existance of Walt Disney Studios Park in a TV commercial, lives on…!
The TV spot is playing now in the UK, international versions will appear from next month.
Screencaps © Disney.
The new antenna and entrance signage for Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage! finally arrived at Walt Disney Studios Park just a couple of weeks ago. As things continue to progress, time for a closer look at the park’s fifth new attraction…
As can be seen, both the main logo and the four smaller signs all have depth to them, likely to be lit from inside similar to the Stitch Live! signage. The “Live on Stage!” portion of the logo sits on top of the Playhouse Disney Mickey Mouse ears.
Since the attraction will be known simply as “Playhouse Disney – Live!” to most non-English speaking markets, it’s interesting the Imagineers insisted on the full title for the entrance signage, probably to differentiate this stage-based puppet show from the video screen-based living character show next door.
The zoom-ins, courtesy of DisneyGazette.fr, continue with a view from the parking structure of Disney Village, which lies just behind the empty expansion slot in Production Courtyard. From here, it’s now possible to see the completed waiting area barriers, turnstiles and ticket booth-style Cast Member shelter, all similar to Stitch Live! next door.
There are four turnstiles, as for Stitch, but here they all lead into a single waiting area. As mentioned in a previous update, it is expected the show will be performed around five times a day, similar to Animagique, and likely with separate performances for French and English.
Whilst those electronic displays built into the roof canopy above will display the remaining seats for the next show, the full show schedule, it seems, will also be posted outside the attraction — on the grey noticeboard which Photos Magiques recently reported had been removed from outside Stitch Live!.
As NewsDLRP spots, the board has now reappeared outside Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!, likely because Stitch’s 15-minute show schedules didn’t really require a full guide to be posted outside.
Photos as credited.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!.
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…
Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, some large fireworks and a strange machine decorated with shapes.
Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars finally rolls around.
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.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, CinéMagique, and the Studio Tram Tour billboard entrance we’ve not seen for over 18 months.
Discoveryland is represented fairly well, with airships and plently of ironwork…
…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.
Disneyland Park seems a little barren from here, though Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade does make a welcome appearance.
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?
Minnie’s Party Train steams into view…
…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.
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?
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!
The roof canopy we saw being constructed so faithfully to the design of the Walt Disney Television Studios it joins onto was only the beginning. The third new attraction in Production Courtyard has finally unveiled its entrance — and the look is every bit in-keeping with the location.
Photo: Mathieu, Disney Central Plaza forum
Well, admittedly the bright yellow Mickey Mouse shape and its colourful text is a slight departure, but the pink border actually matches the circa-2002 column of Stitch Live! next door, as does the new Playhouse Disney column itself…
Photo: Mathieu, Disney Central Plaza forum
Though, with that pre-designed pink border in place, and to give a bit of variety compared to Stitch, the Imagineers have instead gone with a classic deep red column for the alien’s new TV partner. And, rather than a satellite dish, a fancifully-designed, smaller antenna.
The Playhouse sign and column also sit slightly to the left of the show times indicator below, rather than at its middle. This provides an end point to the extended canopy and allows both signs to be seen easily between the trees of the courtyard.
But they weren’t done there… It’s worth remembering that Playhouse Disney doesn’t have the same widespread recognition it does across the USA, with some Europeans perhaps never encountering it before either through lack of a premium TV subscription or its plain lack of availability in their country.
So, to give a little idea of the characters to be found inside, four new images of the four groups of characters popping out from colourful TV screens has been added next to the main logo, as seen above.
The attraction has also been announced as officially opening on 4th April 2009 in the ‘Backstage’ Cast Member magazine, though so-called “soft opening” previews/open rehearsals are expected during the week or fortnight before then.
Photos as credited.