Monday, 18th March 2013

Hurricanes Discotheque belatedly white-washed into Disney Village history

Hurricanes Discotheque, Disney Village [© DisneyGazette.fr]

We all have those odd jobs we never quite get round to and you’ll need to be a longtime reader of DLRPToday.com now to remember the demise of Hurricanes Discotheque back in March 2010. So it’s with some relief that, three years on, we report the unmistakably ’90s nightclub spot in Disney Village is at last being white-washed into the history books.

Signage and exterior decorations outside the first-floor unit have laid dormant since the club was unceremoniously and hastily shuttered just shy of its 18th birthday, surely confusing for casual guests and certainly an eyesore on Disney Village’s main avenue.

The latest photo above by DisneyGazette.fr shows the exterior stripped of its colourful fake palm trees and the stairs repainted in plain white — removing the previous Hurricanes Discotheque branding and slogans. Here’s hoping the tacky beach shack and all other remnants will be removed soon, too.

Below, the venue as it was before, pictured in April 2012.

Hurricanes Discotheque, Disney Village

Current consensus seems to be that the location will become a Cast Member restaurant or break space, a slightly disappointing use for a prime space within Disney Village which would itself still benefit from an improved dining offer. Previous rumours, soon after the nightclub’s closure, were for an ESPN Zone, a new Sports Bar or an Italian restaurant.

At the very least, the cleared ground floor area could be a good space for a small café or kiosk and seating area — perhaps Frank Gehry’s minimalist 1992 vision is due a return?

VIA DisneyGazette.fr

Wednesday, 13th February 2013

Free Wi-Fi coming to Disney Hotels, Disney Village and beyond in next year

Disneyland Hotel at Disneyland Paris

Your 2013/2014 holiday to Disneyland Paris might now feel a lot more like a 21st Century experience. Lagging behind for years in internet access offering, Disneyland Paris has made a surprise sudden move towards offering more widespread — and crucially, free — Wi-Fi access across the resort.

Announced late on Monday was that the prestigious Disneyland Hotel now offers free Wi-Fi access. Then, on Tuesday, the official Twitter feed of the resort followed that up by confirming free Wi-Fi would be rolled out gradually within the next year to all other Disney Hotels, along with convention centres, Golf Disneyland and even Disney Village.

Free Wi-Fi is now arguably considered as important as other hotel room fixtures such as a television. From previously offering only patchy and expensive Wi-Fi access in only the four higher tier Disney Hotels, this move will add some much-needed additional value back to those — many say — overpriced “on property” room nights. Guests have in the past been faced with the frankly absurd situation that, for example, the ultra-basic €52 per night Ibis Budget over at Val d’Europe offered free Wi-Fi, but the €459 minimum Disneyland Hotel did not.

The inclusion of Disney Village in these plans is interesting. Could that be a commercial decision, to make the entertainment district more inviting for visitors to “dwell” longer, or could it even be an easier test bed for eventually covering the whole of the resort — and both parks — by free Wi-Fi? Last year, Walt Disney World began offering free Wi-Fi to visitors within its Magic Kingdom park, with plans to roll it out to all four parks and Downtown Disney over there too.

Besides giving guests what they now see as an almost essential home comfort, providing free Wi-Fi will also exponentially increase the number of status updates, photos and videos posted to social media websites during guests’ stays, especially at Disneyland Paris where many guests have had to avoid “roaming” charges for foreign networks, giving the Disney Parks perhaps their most powerful ever marketing tool: us.

VIA @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter)

Wednesday, 28th March 2012

Temporary ‘Meet Mickey Mouse’ location rolls into Cottonwood Creek Ranch

Temporary Meet Mickey Mouse at Cottonwood Creek Ranch (C) @InsideDLParis

It’s no secret that the permanent Meet Mickey Mouse attraction at Fantasy Festival Stage won’t be ready for the 20th Anniversary launch this weekend. However, you needn’t be too disappointed if you miss the opening date in mid-May: Mickey’s temporary Frontierland location is looking like a pleasant attraction of its own. Rather than the 1920s picture house-style theme in Fantasyland’s British quarter, the temporary version has been based around a much more old-fashioned travelling show.

New signage, installed at the former Woody’s Roundup Village photolocation, is perfectly integrated with the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area. Below the Meet Mickey Mouse marquee, adorned with decorative lights, a banner reads: “Open house today — Your chance to meet the stars of Mickey’s famous traveling show”. Red-painted fences of the farm paddocks are dotted with posters imported from Florida, for imaginary acts such as “Dingofort the Mighty” and “Madame Minn”, which already appear in the refurbished Disney & Co boutique on Main Street.

Temporary Meet Mickey Mouse at Cottonwood Creek Ranch (C) @InsideDLParis

Nearby, the old Woodcarver’s Workshop has been turned into Meet Mickey Mouse Photographic Souvenirs, an official photo sales desk. Given Mickey’s farmyard beginnings, the temporary ranch setting feels perfectly apt, before he moves into the bright lights of the theatre.

Mickey Mouse himself made his first appearance at the location today, moving from his old meet ‘n’ greet spot at the Boarding House in Town Square, which will now be the sole preserve of Duffy the Disney Bear. The temporary location here is only expected to be in use for around 6-7 weeks so, for just a month and a half of meet ‘n’ greets, this well-executed overlay is a great surprise.

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Wednesday, 28th March 2012

Year-long Disneyland Paris refurbishments programme wraps ahead of 20th Anniversary

Nautilus lagoon refurbishment (C) @InsideDLParis

Phew. Last March, when DLRP Today was invited by Disneyland Paris to preview the year-long programme of refurbishments planned ahead of the 20th Anniversary, this much-anticipated year seemed so far away. Now, after twelve months of constant, unrelenting work and investment across the entire resort, it’s almost ready for its close-up again. The final projects are wrapping, construction walls coming down and everything being made “neat ‘n’ pretty” for the year ahead. So for one final hurrah, let’s round up these final pre-20th refurbishments with help from @InsideDLParisRead More…

Tuesday, 27th March 2012

Final Central Plaza alterations completed ahead of Disney Dreams! premiere

Central Plaza alterations (C) @InsideDLParis

It’s going to be easy to forget soon with the premiere of Disney Dreams! but, until this year, Disneyland Paris has never had a true nighttime spectacular. Fireworks from the original Fantasia in the Sky to the later Enchanted Fireworks have always been a feature, but Disneyland Park has never seen a nightly, year-round evening show to finish the day. It’s a big step-change for the daily operation of the park and even the landscape is reflecting that.

On the left side of Central Plaza, the new control centre building arrived with a big change the previously wooded landscape near Frontierland, opening up more vistas. Now, on the other side of the plaza, a final adjustment has seen the pathway widened near Plaza Gardens Restaurant, creating more space for guests to hop around the crowds on the hub, or leave the park swiftly after the show.

Central Plaza alterations (C) @InsideDLParisCentral Plaza alterations (C) @InsideDLParis

This follows similar adjustments to pathways on both sides of the hub in 2009, when the route through to Frontierland was widened and a new set of stairs were added to ease guest flow around Plaza Gardens. At the time, these were largely to offset the problems caused by dropping a whopping great stage in the middle of the park, but this year they’ll come into their own as smart preparations for Central Plaza’s new role as viewing space for a real nighttime spectacular.

One final change which may not be so popular, however, is the conversion of several gas lamps along this pathway to electric. Though this kind of “progress” in Main Street, U.S.A. is never welcomed, the installation of electric light bulbs is probably a necessary change to ensure the path is well-lit before and after the show, allowing the rush of guests to arrive and leave safely. Besides, the side street nearest this spot, leading to Discoveryland, just happens to be fittingly titled “Edison Avenue”…

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis

Friday, 23rd March 2012

Woody’s Roundup no more as Meet Mickey makes temporary Cottonwood Creek home

Mickey Mouse’s new home at Fantasy Festival Stage won’t be finished quite in time for the 20th Anniversary launch, we know that much for sure. But until the vague Spring 2012 opening date of his new magician-themed meet ‘n’ greet (or 17th May 2012 if you believe the rumours), the mouse will still find himself a temporary Meet Mickey Mouse location over in Frontierland.

Work has now started at the former Woody’s Roundup Village in the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area of the land, most recently used for the St David’s Day and St Patrick’s Day celebrations, to create an intermediate version of the attraction. Although, that “work” so far mainly consists of cordoning off the entrances to the old Critter Corral area with what @InsideDLParis rightly captions these photos as “red and white caution tape that should never be used in a Disney Park”. Beautiful!

The original “Woody’s Roundup” signage and photo locations have now been entirely removed from the area (most taken away before Halloween/Christmas), to make it a more generic character spot, perhaps a rare example of Pixar characters being removed from a land.

Heavier construction work continues in Fantasyland, meanwhile, with latest visible progress from outside the theatre showing walls going up around each of the bay windows. These were previously spaces at the back of the theatre’s seating which could be opened up in warmer summer weather. Now, the window on the right will form the attraction’s entrance while that on the left will be used as the exit and part of the photo sales counter.

Meet Mickey Mouse construction (C) @InsideDLParis

More rich red gloss paint has also been applied to the façade, which has lost its Fantasy Festival Stage signage. As for the inside, we can reveal that the layout will largely stay true to its theatre origins. Guests will queue back and forth roughly along the former rows of seating, with the centrepiece being the stage itself, where a projection screen will be installed.

Following the queue line up into the theatre’s real backstage area, they will enter a vestibule area before finally encountering Magician Mickey Mouse himself, in his backstage dressing room, littered with props similar to those seen in his Florida meet ‘n’ greet. Exit will be via the left-hand side of the theatre, past the souvenir photo wall and sales area in the left bay. Numerous other details, accessories and “animated posters” will complete the attraction.

We can also confirm that “Magician” Mickey here really will employ some special magic tricks, allowing him to shorten the queue time by as much as two or three times, depending on attendance…

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Friday, 23rd March 2012

Mark Twain Riverboat sans chimney stacks, ready and waiting for refurbishment

Mark Twain Riverboat refurbishment (C) @InsideDLParis

Ever since we stepped off the near-complete, beautifully restored Molly Brown exactly a year ago and the Mark Twain pulled up in her place to continue regular service, this grand old riverboat has sadly looked more than a little worse for wear by comparison. Need for restoration isn’t quite so drastic, though, that his chimney stacks fell off, of course — the Mark Twain is merely preparing himself to bed down inside Frontierland’s new, covered drydock which we reported last week.

The roof of that hangar-like wharf, while imposing enough next to Old Joe’s fishing pier, is certainly not high enough to accommodate the Mark Twain with his famous twin funnels intact. From here, he reversed around the Rivers of the Far West and back into the refurbishment dock. Molly Brown will resume service from this Saturday 24th March, the first to enjoy the freshly-relaid landing pier and fully repainted Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing itself.

Mark Twain’s refurbishment is due to be just as thorough — and lengthy — as Molly Brown’s epic year-long rebuild. Damage and decay to the boat, though nowhere near as bad as his sister ship endured, is clear in the photo above. Though the ship, a reproduction of the original Mark Twain Riverboat at Disneyland in California, has seen numerous refurbishments over its lifespan, this will be the first full-scale restoration in its 20 year life so far.

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Thursday, 22nd March 2012

2012 or ’92? New Central Plaza in sunshine resets the clock on timeless view

Central Plaza and Sleeping Beauty Castle (C) Nicolas71

Since Monday, guests have been able to walk right across Central Plaza for the first time since 2006. But these photos, taken Tuesday by Nicholas71 on Disney Central Plaza, almost seem to reset the clock even further. Be it the wide, open plaza, the fresh green grass, the newly-restored Sleeping Beauty Castle or the recent tree clearance over on the Fantasyland side of this famous view, it almost looks like we’re stepping into the park for the very first time again. Truly a vast improvement on the closed gates and obstructive stage guests have had to navigate around for too many years.

On Central Plaza itself, benches have returned to the middle of the plaza for the first time in almost six years, making it once again the perfect place for meeting and people watching. Meanwhile, two lampposts on the castle side are now curiously absent, their bases covered by green boxes.

They’re not the only things missing from this view: tree clearance over by the Fantasyland Gate (far-right of the photo) has uncovered the walled kingdom in the distance, while at least two cuboid trees have been completely removed from the right-hand side of the castle. Both changes could either be in preparation for Disney Dreams!, or just part of the habitual “resetting the clock” which Disney does; replanting or removing trees which have grown too big for the fixed scale of the park.

Central Plaza and Sleeping Beauty Castle (C) Nicolas71

Looking back towards Main Street, U.S.A., the new “Parks Landscaping Department” show control building for Disney Dreams! blends seamlessly into the town. The old show control kiosk, on the left of the plaza, remains in place for now. As for the plaza, the improvement speaks for itself.

PHOTOS Nicholas71 (Disney Central Plaza)

Wednesday, 21st March 2012

Main Street Station’s golden 20th Anniversary overlay introduces new entrance marquee

Main Street Station celebrates (C) RadioDisneyClub

How many guests stepping inside Disneyland Park today noticed this change, then? As the ongoing Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! overlay of the eponymous street continues with daily progress, golden bunting now covering the majority of the street, here’s something to stop you in your tracks: a new sign on Main Street Station. In the place of the original, maroon sign this morning was this cream-coloured marquee. A temporary change while the regular signage is refurbished or altered, or a brand new addition? The rate things are changing, perhaps we should wait until tomorrow to see.

The new marquee’s all-over cream design takes some getting used-to compared to the more fanciful, bolder original sign. And then there’s the nomenclature: for now, just “Disneyland Paris”. Guests have already just walked under a “Disneyland Park” marquee on the other side of Disneyland Hotel, so by this point they should really be heading into Main Street, U.S.A., not reminded of the resort’s title. The regular sign had the compromise of “Main Street, U.S.A. – Disneyland Paris”, in place since 1994.

Main Street Station celebrates (C) RadioDisneyClubOriginal Main Street Station marquee

Also an oddity is the illustration of the castle which replaces the “EDLRR” symbol on the bib at the top of the sign. Pretty enough, surrounded by a burst of stars but, as you can see in the close-up provided by RadioDisneyClub here, it has been mirrored to face the wrong way round — though this certainly isn’t the first time in its life it has been altered to appear as such.

Main Street Station celebrates (C) RadioDisneyClubMain Street Station celebrates (C) RadioDisneyClub

The controversial repainting itself took a major step forward yesterday when guests arrived to find the four centre columns at the front of the station painted in alarming yellow undercoat. Today, the columns had already received a coat of gold paint on top, though the tone is much darker, closer to red or orange, than the gold used elsewhere in the street’s overlay. One whole series of five iron brackets underneath the station’s concourse have now received their golden paintwork, in a much more pleasing tone similar to the existing gold elements of the “EDLRR” symbols.

Golden bunting continues to manifest itself all around the street, including here on Main Street Station. Meanwhile a rather different — rather intriguing — form of bunting was spotted by @InsideDLParis running along the railings at the front of the station…

Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! (C) @InsideDLParisMain Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! (C) @InsideDLParis
Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates! (C) @InsideDLParis

This metal cable-run, painted the same green as the railings, is expected to be used for the finishing touch of the station’s overlay: a glittering display of golden lights!

PHOTOS 1-2, 4-5 RadioDisneyClub, 6-8 @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Tuesday, 20th March 2012

Disney Village icon Annette’s Diner closed for refurbishment until 6th April

For almost 20 years, Annette’s Diner has been inviting all of Europe into that most quintessential of dining experiences from across the Atlantic: the American diner. Now, just shy of its own 20th birthday, Annette has hung up her rollerskates for a well-earned rest — and refurbishment. The iconic diner at the entrance to Disney Village closed on 13th March for a refurbishment that will last through until 6th April 2012. In the meantime, hungry burger hunters are pointed to La Grange at Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon or The Steakhouse, where a special €19.99 beef burger menu is available.

A temporary closure of this popular restaurant has been expected since last July, when Disney took back full control of Annette’s and a few other Disney Village restaurants whose operation had previously been outsourced to a company named Groupe Flo. Back in October, New York Style Sandwiches closed for a similar three-week refurbishment. While the move back to in-house operation is expected to lead to efficiencies and cost savings for Disney, it will be interesting to see if it also leads to genuine improvements in quality and service.

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter), DisneyGazette (Facebook)

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