If you’re familiar with the exit of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast in Discoveryland, the photo above will probably bring a smirk to your face — at least, until you next try to leave the attraction and are one of those to be funnelled through gift shop Constellationsinstead. The 2006 attraction originally gave visitors a choice of whether to enter the store (to the left of this photo) similar to other “exit boutiques” at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith and Star Tours, where the shop is located off to one side of the exit to prevent a bottle-neck. Now, the exit area has now been blocked off with some quite hefty barriers, as Star Command force everyone to exit via the gift shop.
Previously, this open covered area often had its own portable cash desk and merchandise stalls. Past attempts to encourage more guests into the store itself can be seen above with the not-so-subtle arrows across the floor. The resort’s newest attraction/shop combo, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, already requires everyone to leave via Tower Hotel Gifts.
More gates for the second gate! This new pair of turnstiles at the entrance to Walt Disney Studios Park which began construction way back at the end of October finally came into service at the weekend, to help ease queues at the entrance. No, really — if you’re not a frequent Disneyland Paris visitor, it’s actually more common to have to queue to enter the Studios than Disneyland Park next door. Though admittedly, yes, mostly because the Studios was originally only built with a modest 12 turnstiles, compared to more than double that number next door. Guest flow in the area also suffers because the park doesn’t have the two wider periphery exit gates on either side as at Disneyland Park, meaning its regular entrance gates have to gradually switch over to exit gates through the day.
Anyway, it may have taken over four months but the results are rather pleasing to the eye. Two new columns, exactly matching those of the Studios’ original entrance arches, have been built to support a new turquoise/green-painted wooden canopy, which gives the new turnstile cover without detracting from the main archway.
These two new turnstiles actually bring the total to 16 (perhaps a lucky number for the park..?), since back in 2007 an additional two were added on the other side of the plaza, next to Walt Disney Studios Store. Only given a cheap fabric canopy at the time, that gate has now been swiftly surrounded by the same construction walls used for the new turnstile, surely hinting that it’s about to be given a more substantial, matching canopy to give some symmetry to the whole entrance plaza.
Here’s the view guests saw this weekend as they stepped into Disneyland Park. New Disney fan blog Mickey Land has the latest photos of the Sleeping Beauty Castle refurbishment, showing the scaffolding which we last saw surrounding the landmark’s lower walls has now spread right up to its iconic stained glass picture window. The first step towards hiding the less than magical works has also taken place, with an initial white tarpaulin stretched over the majority of the scaffolding, as is normal with Disney refurbishments. Rumours are suggesting that the second covering, featuring a photo-realistic image of the castle behind, could appear within the next week.
Meanwhile, Disneyland Paris continues to invest elsewhere in Fantasyland with the new stone paving going in along the walkway behind Le Théâtre du Château. The red-hued stones stopped with a circular finish at the Fantasyland Gate, leaving fans wondering if the rest of the route could be relaid with coloured concrete as before.
But, as you can see, the stones look set to continue into the land — albeit with the pattern set at a different angle, the circular design helping to make more of a feature of the gate, which will itself surely be fully repainted sometime this year as part of the Castle refurbishment.
Just a couple of days ago we were excited to see the first fresh paint being tested on the grey walls of Sleeping Beauty Castle, with just a modest construction of scaffolding on the walkway beneath the fairytale landmark’s drawbridge. Fast forward a few days and the photo above sent in to DLRP Today by Caryl, shows rapid progress with preparation for the full-scale refurbishment ahead as scaffolding begins to climb around the castle walls on both sides of the bridge (which was fully refurbished last year).
Think that shows big things are ahead? Well just take a look a the latest progress yesterday, with scaffolding decks now wrapped right across the front of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, covering the majority of its stone walls…
Now we have to wait and see how this breach on the fairytale kingdom is to be covered up. A huge “bache” tarpaulin covering with a photo-realistic image of the castle printed onto it seems the most likely option, having been used for recent castle refurbishments at the other Disney parks (notably Magic Kingdom), as well as at Disney Studio 1 and on less important structures at Disneyland Paris. Though the refurbishment was apparently due to begin late last year or early in January, it was most recently stated to last from March to September, so seeing this amount of scaffolding this soon is quite a surprise.
Once upon a time… And so, the tale has already begun. Postponed from late 2010 and expected to run from March to September this year, the first visible signs of refurbishment at Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant are now clear to see a month in advance of that date. A scaffolding base has been constructed on the lower walkway underneath the drawbridge, which leads into La Tanière du Dragon, and the first fresh patches of paint can even be seen on the Castle’s stonework. The photo above posted today by Melroy of DisneyGazette.fr shows the difference between the upper stones, faded to almost an identical grey, and the repainted patchwork of pastel colours below.
There is currently still debate as to whether the interior of Sleeping Beauty Castle will be accessible once full-scale work begins to restore its exterior. Some suggest the drawbridge, both boutiques and the upper gallery floor will remain open throughout, whilst the Castle Courtyard behind (home to the Excalibur sword) may be closed off to provide a base for the work. In any case, we may not see such steps happen until the nearby Fantasyland repaving project, closing off the other main entrance to the land, is completed later in March.
Still, we do have one surprising upgrade — the first block of repaving to be completed so far hasn’t just used the same coloured concrete as before. Oh no. Instead, the area outside the Annual Passport office has been repaved with more expensive individual paving stones, likely to fare better on this heavily-trafficked route and in Paris’ harsh winters.
It remains to be seen if the entire stretch up to “it’s a small world” will be given the same treatment, or if there might just be enough stones left over to finally finish repaving the rapidly disappearing entrance to Walt Disney Studios Park…
It’s a big year for renewals at Disneyland Paris, as the resort heads towards its 20th Anniversary and the time comes to start refreshing some of those original developments — particularly the hotels. Undergoing a huge renovation project of its 1,011 rooms is Disney’s Sequoia Lodge, where the changes go a little further than just new flatscreen, digital TVs to replace the positively ancient old tube boxes. The sedate, Antoine Grumbach-designed hotel is being “Disneyfied” with a lightly-spread new theme: Bambi. The 1942 Disney classic can now be seen in the wallpaper border and animation art on the walls, perfectly complementing the existing light fittings with their deer motifs.
These photos posted on the official Disneyland Paris Twitter feed show the makeover to be a warm and inviting refresh, with crisp white bedspreads and “Disney” additions that are inoffensive to the American national parks theme, in the same restrained style as the Disney touches over at Disneyland Hotel. The new television cabinets have been specially designed for the hotel while green and gold tones bring a more earthy, organic look compared to the old rooms.
With Pixar Animation Studios’ Cars continuing to be featured in similar touches at Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe next door, where will the “Disneyfication” of the Disney Hotels be seen next? Back in 1992, then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner was keen for the six main hotels to be seen as architectural statements as much as magical, “Disney” places to stay. Now, 20 years on, the resort is seeing the need to add characters here and there and — probably more crucially — update the décor and room services to compete with partner hotels and help to justify the leap in price up to a more “Disney” Disney Hotel.
A great surprise was awaiting fans in Storybook Land at the back of Fantasyland in late December, and not just that Le Pays des Contes de Fées, the Storybookland Canal Boats, was open in the middle of Winter. No, the attraction has finally got Tangled up in a 21st Century Disney tale — both the studio’s first computer-animated and 3D fairytale, which finally hits cinemas in the UK exactly a week from now after already proving a big hit in both the US and France (where at Disneyland Paris guests have been able to meet the live characters since November).
The canal has always had a Rapzunel tower, but now the old landmark has been completely replaced with a brand new model, faithful to the Disney animator’s final design from the new film. The new tower stands much taller on the miniaturised cliffside than the original, which had a more whimsically home-made look, bringing in a vibrant indigo roof and more intricate, colourful detailing. The smaller-scaled tangle of Rapunzel’s hair hanging down from the tower even has a tiny model of hero Flynn Rider climbing up to save the damsel. Tangled is now by far the most recent Disney film featured in the attraction and, in fact, the whole land, its closest contender being 1992’s Aladdin.
Time stands still in Never Land, and for a good few years the same applied to our dear Château. But as a major refurbishment project approaches, the oversized golden Tinkerbell, which has sat atop the castle’s highest tower since the launch of the 15th Anniversary in April 2007, has finally flown away for good! Originally part of a collection of golden characters, holding between them 15 flickering LED candles, Tinkerbell was kept on after the two anniversary years as part of the unpopular Mickey’s Magical Party overlay. Even as we rejoiced that the castle returned to some normality last year, she hung on; the park still utilising her confetti effect for various shows and events.
It was actually before the 15th Anniversary that many fans began to hope for a refurbishment of the castle. Though the opportunity of that landmark (and each successive festival) passed, it’s now confirmed that this will be the year for a reawakening. Dates were provisionally set for works from October 2010 to July this year, but that has now been pushed back to a March 2011 start with an end sometime in September. No word yet on just how disruptive this refurbishment will be for views of the icon — a scaffolding rig (with a themed overlay) will be likely at some point, but whether it would cover just a potion of the castle at once or the whole thing is unknown.
From afar the castle certainly looks clean and pretty enough, but up close turrets can be seen dirty, roofs discoloured, paint peeling… and many fans wish for a return to its original paintwork, which had an earthier, more historic look, with more shading and a more organic pink colour.
Disneyland Paris promotes it as “double the fun”, but extensive paving works around the Pizzeria Bella Notte area in Fantasyland until late March actually mean a revised route and a few missing floats for Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade over the next few months. While the route up towards “it’s a small world” is closed, the parade will enter the park via the gate next to Discovery Arcade on Main Street, U.S.A. and navigate around Town Square up to Central Plaza, completing a full loop before travelling back down Main Street and out via the same gate.
This reworked route also means a reworked parade, with three of the eight floats missing: Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio‘s “Dreams of Laughter & Fun”, The Lion King and The Jungle Book‘s “Dreams of Adventure” and one of two “Dreams of Romance” units — originally for the first, smaller “Prelude” unit featuring The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, but now the much larger “Finale” unit. It was decided that this unit made fitting the full parade around Central Plaza at once too tight, and so all the Princes and Princesses of the finale now dance in front of the Prelude float.
With five different floats squeezed around Central Plaza for the turn-back it was also deemed that keeping each float’s unique music loop wasn’t practical, meaning the parade rolls out with the single “Just Like We Dreamed It” theme usually reserved for the show stops, which have also been cut, on a loop.
The diversion began on 7th January, and according to current schedules will continue right through until 1st April 2011. A map of the revised route is featured on the cover of the current daily programmes.
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