The first portion of the ride to be enclosed in scaffolding was the water splash drop, with scaffolding appearing on the first day of closure and growing to a full covering five days later. Work here seems to currently be focused on the iconic “Big Thunder Mining Company” hut, whilst a large floating raft with work equipment has been moored at several locations around the island to clean and repair rockwork lower down.
The section of elevated track before the water splash has also been covered in scaffolding, as has the mountain entrance just before the third lift hill. The walkways around the loading station have become home to all manner of work equipment, paints cleaning items, the major problem for those working on this epic project of course being how to transport these efficiently across the Rivers of the Far West to the island itself. Big Thunder Mountain in Paris is, of course, the only one of Disney’s four to be located on an island completely cut-off from mainland by water.
Further progress was reported by Disneytheque.com two days ago, when most of the huge loading station was also covered in scaffolding. It’s unsure what the scale of the work going on here will be, but the tired queue of the attraction has long been a point of disappointment for many guests. One change, however, is known. DLRP Today contributor Kristof (aka Raptor1982 at Photos Magiques) reports from a reliable source at the attraction that new air gates will be installed at the attraction’s two boarding stations. These loading gates will be similar to those installed last year at Space Mountain: Mission 2 and Peter Pan’s Flight, to stop guests stepping onto the track if a train isn’t in the station.
To warn guests of the closure, the park has not only posted notices outside the park gates and on each entry turnstile under Disneyland Hotel, but on the construction walls around the attraction has also added a superbly themed closure sign, complete with pickaxes and a goldpanning dish.
Featured photos by: Disneytheque.com, Dlrp.fr, Photos Magiques.
The Cast Members have been given support from their union CFDT, and DLP.info also reports:
“The Photographers have taken place in front of the gates with flags and signs and are informing the incoming guests on the situation.”
This certinaly isn’t the first strike to take place at Disneyland Resort Paris. The resort has a long history of protests from Cast Members, usually regarding pay or work conditions, particularly in the early EuroDisney years. Guests may not notice the absence of a Cast Member to photograph them with Sulley or Winnie the Pooh at one of the increasing number of character locations at the parks, but they will certainly notice a line of Cast Members protesting at the park gates. It’s currently unknown what the resort are doing to solve this problem, but since it’s taking place in the busy Summer season the strike will not only give guests a poor first impression but will also be losing the parks countless Euros every day in photo profits. An agreement will surely be met soon enough.
The second piece of “bad news” comes, once again, from CFDT, but would seem to have a solution already in place. The image featured above was posted online showing the current state of Frontierland’s Molly Brown riverboat, a classic side-wheeler riverboat that is unique to the Paris park but was unfortunately damaged last year when the engine badly overheated. For months afterwards the boat lay covered in tarpaulin at the back of the Rivers of the Far West, before being moved into the service dock once Mark Twain’s already-in-progress long refurbishment was completed. Since then, the boat has been untouched as the resort waits for a budget to be available for the costly repairs, and, as you can see, the unsinkable Molly Brown hasn’t enjoyed her last few months one bit.
The CFDT is calling for immediate action to save the boat before it has to be scrapped, but, after a quick look at the latest refurbishment schedules for the park (released some weeks ago), it seems their wish has already been granted. The latest information available states Molly Brown will finally begin her huge refurbishment project on the 4th September, with the project not being completed until 27th April 2007. Then, on the 30th April 2007, Mark Twain will return to the service dock for another two month refurbishment, further confirming that the resort are infact still well-aware of the importance of this classic attraction and its two faithful ships.
The refurbishment of Disneyland Hotel began a few months ago now, but has only just reached the front façade of the building. Here the difference between the two shades of pink is unmissable.
The new, cleaner, brighter coat of paint (chosen, like the Castle colours, to add warmth to grey cloudy days) appears to be exactly the same as the original 1992 colour, which shows just how much the harsh Parisian weather has affected the façade. It seems likely Disneyland Resort Paris are saving further work at the front of the hotel until the less busy seasons, since the view is so iconic to the park, with refurbishment schedules stating that work should be completed by 9th November 2006.
Already this year, massive refurbishment projects have been successfully completed for Disney’s Sequoia Lodge and Disney’s Newport Bay Club hotels.
Beginning in just a few weeks, the Big Thunder Mountain refurbishment will be the longest in the attraction’s history, running from 21st August to 13th October. Two other icons of Frontierland are also set to get their share of paint and polish – first up, the “unsinkable” Molly Brown, who suffered major smoke damage in 2005 after the main engine overheated, will finally be given a full refurbishment over the Winter. Beginning 4th October, she will return to service in late April 2007. As she does, the Mark Twain will return to the dock for another two month refurbishment.
Every single major attraction in Disneyland Park is scheduled in for at least a two week refurbishment, with the programme so expansive that even La Tanière du Dragon and Liberty Arcade are due for 2 and 3 week refurbishments respectively. Over at Walt Disney Studios Park, the 5-year-old attractions will also finally be getting a greater share of care. CinéMagique and Animagique will both have 1-week closures, whilst Studio Tram Tour will be given an mysteriously epic 3-week closure in November this year. The most interesting addition to the calendar, however, is surely Flying Carpets Over Agrabah. Closed from 5th to 23rd March 2007, it seems almost certain this will be to allow major work on the attraction to further integrate it into the new Toon Studio area, which is due to be completed June 2007.
You can see all the scheduled closures listed by month here.
On the 28th March 2006, the tarp surrounding the upper section of the boutique’s exterior was covered in a specially-created full-length rendering of the normal exterior so that, from a distance, everything looked normal. This was especially important during the press events of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast in early April 2006, and the design featured extra trees with balloons and birds to lighten the mood further. The slow deconstruction of the tarp and scaffolding began on the final days of June 2006, as PATMAGIC reports here.
This marks the end of another major refurbishment at Disneyland Park, which has been blessed with countless improvements and updates since new CEO Karl Holz (who was previously president and chief operating officer of Euro Disney S.A.S.) and his new management team moved in in May 2005.
It should be noted, however, that Disneyland Resort Paris do not make decisions like this lightly – a two month closure for the park’s most popular attraction is a brave step to take. But, with the 15th Anniversary looming on the horizon, it seems the new park management is willing to take more drastic steps to make sure the park looks better than ever for its biggest ever celebration. You’d like proof? Just take a look at this latest photo from Joel’s Photo Hunt, and compare the colouring of the main body of the mountain to that of its peaks. Notice the difference? It seems the park maintenance crews have started work already, painstakingly cleaning sections of the mountain after park closure each night.
Whilst we wait for the start of the full-on refurbishment project and even more improvements to the Frontierland landscape, why not check out the attraction’s main fansite – ThunderRide.com – which features a huge range of material about the ride’s design, construction, story and much more.
Some items copyright Disney. This website is independent of and not supported, endorsed by or connected to Disneyland® Paris, The Walt Disney Company, Euro Disney Associés S.C.A., Disney Enterprises, Inc. or their subsidiaries and affiliates.