For eleven days from 18th to 28th June, Walt Disney Studios Park will be hosting a mini-festival celebrating Pixar’s greatest stars during Toy Story Play Days.Read More…
Remember when Crush’s Coaster opened in 2007 and immediately couldn’t cope with demand? Well dudes, almost seven years later something permanent is finally going to be done about the capacity-starved Toon Studio coaster’s popularity.
During its four week closure from 17th March to 11th April, Crush’s Coaster will reportedly see the addition of a permanent Single Rider line, as well as an expansion of the regular queue line itself, something fans including ourselves have requested since opening.
Cast Member sources Pretty Wyatt, AnonyMouse and DynastyGo on Disney Central Plaza forum report that two options were presented to improve the standard queue line: making permanent the temporary ropes which wind their way in front of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, and/or a genuine enlargement of the exterior queue area into what is currently “backstage”.
Thankfully, the second option has apparently been green-lit, leaving the installation of more permanent barriers around the Flying Carpets “oasis” area as an added possibility.
This is great news for visitors joining the queue and the area as a whole. The temporary ropes constantly clog up what is already a cramped portion of the land, especially now guests are also heading through to Toy Story Playland and soon to La Place de Rémy. Making the outside queue area at the side of Studio 5 bigger would be a long-overdue decision.
Single Rider is also absolutely the right choice to maximise capacity of the ride. We reported in-depth on the Crush’s Coaster Fastpass tests in 2008, quickly proven unworkable for a ride with such low capacity. Fastpass can obviously never add capacity to a finite ride, whereas Single Rider can at least maximise capacity to as close to 100% as possible, filling every empty seat in groups of odd numbers. Both Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop and RC Racer now work successful, permanent Single Rider lines, and one is planned for Ratatouille right from the start.
In fact, it’s probably Rémy we have to thank for this long-awaited improvement. With all the new guests expected to flock to Walt Disney Studios Park for the E-Ticket dark ride, some will inevitably also help to make the Crush’s Coaster queue longer. Leaving things as they are, with even longer queues spilling out into the street, would not present a good image.
In similar fashion, we’ve suddenly seen the front of Animagique get some paint work (if not enough work). And, from 14th April right through the whole of May at least, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah will be closed for a thorough top-to-bottom refurbishment that will reportedly see the aerial carousel completely dismantled and rebuilt, just as its cousin Orbitron – Machines Volantes has enjoyed at least twice in recent memory.
That’s a lot of very welcome spit and polish ahead of the land’s newest ride opening. (Let’s just pretend the un-themed pathway behind Art of Disney Animation doesn’t exist, shall we?)
It’s Toy Story Playland, but not as we know it. The second land based on the Pixar property and cousin of last year’s Toon Studio expansion is nearing completion all the way out East, at Hong Kong Disneyland, ready for an opening date this November. Part of a three-land expansion of the similarly-underbuilt park, it represents admittedly the least exciting prospect alongside the all-new Mystic Point and Grizzly Trail. All three attractions are present and correct, with Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop and RC Racer towering not over a patchwork backlot but the immaculately-themed Adventureland. Ouch. The land’s layout differs in that the two have effectively switched places and an additional building (pictured on the left of the shot above) provides a more substantial retail space. However, there’s no Barrel of Monkeys — which could have bridged the vast thematic gap into the future Mystic Point next door — nor the towering forest which pleasantly surrounds the Paris land.
The choice between Woody or Buzz at the entrance to the land is going to divide everyone, but we’d have to say that the plastic Buzz Lightyear with his light-up laser seems more fitting for this kind of monument than the ragdoll Sheriff, who looks unnaturally “plastic”. Buzz’s pose in particular encourages far more photos with guests copying his stand to attention (come on, we’ve all got that photo), while his position in the middle of the path gives much more interest to the entrance area.
Where Hong Kong really has Paris beat, though, is in the marketing. Right from the start, the Asian park created far more publicity for the expansion than the European resort it was originally designed for, releasing countless press releases and concepts. The earliest Toy Story Playland concepts clearly show it was designed with Walt Disney Studios Park in mind, but the only artwork we saw until just weeks before its opening last August came via Hong Kong. Now, check out the smart Toy Story Land-liveried shuttle bus below and the TV report with a look inside the land which follows…
With every new Disney attraction, the Imagineers’ work is never quite complete when the ribbon is cut. Once guests start pushing through the turnstiles, filling out the queue lines and fastening their seatbelts, a whole myriad of niggles or opportunities to “plus” the experience often come to light; the designers and engineers having to go back to the drawing board to tweak their creation. At Toy Story Playland, there was something we could have all seen coming: long queue lines. While the basic rides themselves only have a finite capacity, park operations soon jumped on the best idea to maximise that number with the installation of temporary Single Rider lines at RC Racer and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop.
This year, as part of the 2011 improvements programme, those successful trial lines became “official” lines, with queue barriers and signage redesigned to properly accommodate them, and here’s the final piece of the playset: space for Single Rider wait times to actually be displayed at the entrance. At the moment, a single rider can see a regular wait time of 80 minutes at RC Racer but have no clue how long that means they’ll be waiting for a spare seat.
Whilst the entrance marquees for both attractions have been modified today to include a second dot-matrix display, they’re not yet operational. Calculating attraction queue times is usually as easy as pairing the
number of turnstile “clicks” against the hourly throughput (update: see comments) of the ride, but with guests coming in groups of different numbers and empty seats never a given, it’ll be interesting to see exactly how Disney work out the wait time for a single rider to put a seatbelt on it.
Yeah sure, John. During his European publicity tour for Cars 2, which included hosting a special showing of the film for fans in Paris, John Lasseter also dropped into Disneyland Park on Wednesday. Stopping for this photo at around 2pm with the 2011-12 Disneyland Paris Ambassadors Régis Alart and Osvaldo del Mistero, Pixar’s creative chief had the pleasure of seeing Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant nearing the end of its lengthy restoration, complete with newly-returned golden spires.
We also completely missed, in yesterday’s excitement, that this would have been John Lasseter’s first ever visit to Toy Story Playland, a land he had much creative input in. Better to see it here, and when the leaves are on the trees, than as a sore thumb at Hong Kong Disneyland…
If you follow the official Disney Parks Blog you might have already enjoyed the superb “Tilt-Shift” videos of Magic Kingdom and Epcot at Walt Disney World, which turned those grand Disney parks into something resembling a toy train set or stop-motion animated film. Well, great news Disneyland Paris fans — they’ve taken a trip across the Atlantic! A brand new Disneyland Paris tilt-shift video premiered just hours ago today, in honour of the ninth birthday of Walt Disney Studios Park. Take a look above — it’s a seriously beautiful piece of work.
As the Disney Parks Blog explains, “Tilt-shift videos like these use different photo angles, focus settings and color saturation adjustments to make the subject of a photo appear miniature.” And most awe-inspiring, “It took more than seven months and 4,000 photographs to produce this 2:38-minute clip.” The variety of attractions, events and locations captured is truly impressive, far greater than the two earlier single-park videos, successfully making everything from Disney’s Fantillusion to Moteurs… Action! look like a small-scale model magically coming to life. We even get to see the up-scaled Toy Story Playland attractions downscaled again to the size of a toy!
Nine years ago today, Disney’s tenth theme park worldwide opened its gates. For such a milestone, the original Walt Disney Studios Park of 16th March 2002 was perhaps not the best representative of the Disneyland ideals. Be it through desperate lack of budget or not, the park drastically missed the mark of what a European audience — or any audience — wants from a theme park. Forget the beautiful landscapes of Tokyo DisneySea, opened a year earlier; here there were almost no outdoor themed areas to speak of at all, just 25 hectares of freshly poured tarmac asphalt and 10 attractions housed in uninspiring “soundstages” of concrete. The bid to pay tribute to European filmmakers was noble but possibly misguided — Florida’s raining Singin’ in the Rain umbrella scene was changed to the barely known Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, for example — and the glitzy warmth of Hollywood was oddly missing. The park suffered from a complete lack of escapism, when what people really wanted was a whole park with the colour and spirit found inside, say, Disney Studio 1.
Because that’s the thing — the park has always had some great attractions. Nine years on, CinéMagique remains beautifully subtle and wonderfully entertaining, one of the best movie-based attractions ever. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith might not be pretty on the outside but the ride inside arguably beats its kitsch Florida cousin, whilst after 9,000 performances it’s easy to take for granted just how impressive the stunts of Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular really are.
Having dug itself a hole by ploughing too much (or, you could say, not enough) money into an unpopular park, it took Euro Disney SCA far longer than it should have done to begin expanding the second gate. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror should really have opened in 2005 (or earlier), rather than begun construction that year, whilst the Toon Studio expansion of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye should have been there from the start, not five years after opening. No-one should have ever green-lit the Television Production Tour, now occupied instead by Stitch Live! since 2008 and Playhouse Disney Live on Stage! since 2009.
The modest Hollywood Boulevard turned out to be a great surprise and even Toy Story Playland, maligned by some corners of the fan community, is a marked step above any other themed areas in the park. To get the Ratatouille dark ride built in the years ahead would be an amazing feat: the first new dark ride at Disneyland Paris (ignoring Buzz) in all its 20 years and possibly the first real implementation of Audio Animatronics in the whole Studios park. But let’s just hope it doesn’t end there, that we see the park continue like its last four years rather than the first five. May the park continue to improve and expand, to revisit Theater District and fix the original areas, to add places to eat and places to buy things, and maybe, one day, rename Production Courtyard. We can but dream… Here’s to the future!
The orange halfpipe of RC Racer was always unmistakably inspired by the classic Mattel car series, but now it’s official. Several Hot Wheels logos have just appeared around the attraction, including one on the base of the travel carry bag at the entrance and another stuck on top of the one of the 2D illustrations on the side of the “plastic” station building. In all advertising for Toy Story Playland featuring the trademark orange track, Disneyland Paris has been obliged to print a disclaimer stating the Hot Wheels inspiration, but this is the first in-park nod to the brand.
Interestingly, it comes just after the nod to a rival toy brand — Hasbro — was removed from the giant blue Barrel of Monkeys. A stamp inside the barrel originally read “© Hasbro 2010” but was painted over last month. It’s unknown whether this was removed due to a conflict of commercial interests or a desire not to date this still “new” land now we’re in 2011. Hasbro is counted as one of the resort’s official partners, having replaced Mattel (who originally sponsored Autopia) around 10 years ago.
Now, how long before Mattel see the opportunity for a lucrative merchandise tie-in and let us pick up a more portable version of this unique Hot Wheels playset?
If you’re no longer an avid viewer of 50-year-old BBC children’s television show Blue Peter, this one might have passed you by as well. But late last year, presenter Joel Defries took a trip over to Disneyland Paris to experience first-hand the new Toy Story Playland, its attractions and what went into making them. As well as riding RC Racer and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, he met with Tom Fitzgerland, Walt Disney Imagineering Executive Vice President and Senior Creative Executive, and senior show producer Chrissie Allen, who gave some insight into the two year process of designing and building the new land which officially opened on 17th August 2010.
Bestowed with a good few minutes of Imagineering know-how, Joel is then tasked with dreaming up his own blue sky idea and goes out to explore Walt Disney Studios Park for inspiration (!). Before long, he concludes: “There’s no water here! I want to do something with water!” Good thinking, Joel.