Monday, 19th December 2011
We almost thought we wouldn’t get to climb up into the branches of the Swiss Family Treehouse again this year. But the closure of La Cabane des Robinson, which had been ongoing for months, since the first half of 2011, has now finally come to an end with a successful re-opening this weekend. As the picture above by @InsideDLParis shows, this classic walkthrough can still be quite the guest magnet, especially on a busy peak season Sunday when all the major rides have unforgiving queues.
Despite being closed for the majority of the year, refurbishment work only visibly began on the treehouse as late as October or November. In that time, vast amounts of the wooden stairways and banisters which wrap around the tree have been replaced with fresh materials. The water wheel irrigation system would appear to remain out-of-action, and the attraction could still dearly do with some additional, closer love and care in the new year to bring it fully up to “opening day” grade, now that the basics have been sorted. But hurrah, at last, for the return of the Swiss Family Robinson!
Thursday, 24th November 2011
Great news, treehouse fans: The Swiss Family Robinson have finally begun their restoration work at La Cabane des Robinson. Closed for much of the year, the Adventureland walkthrough became a hot topic as fans debated the reason for its closure. With these recent photos by DisneyGazette showing scaffolding amongst its branches and a large amount of new bamboo wooden railings winding their way up around the trunk, it appears the tree simply required the same restoration work as many other areas of the park this year. In particular, much of the wood in the area of Thunder Mesa at the entrance to Frontierland was completely replaced back in September. Here, Disney will be ensuring the tree’s elevated walkways remain safe to explore, as well as fresh and lived-in.
With a lack of funds and the climate being frequently cold and damp, Disneyland Paris hasn’t kept up as well as it should with treating and replacing these more natural elements of the park. Hopefully the large financial investment in the park’s “assets” this year will be the start of a new era.
One thing we would dearly love to see for the Swiss Family Treehouse is a full replacement of its artificial vinyl leaves. Where it should be thick and green with 300,000 leaves, the branches now instead look somewhat wintry and windswept as leaves have gradually fallen off over the past 20 years. How Disney could go about re-attaching them is anyone’s guess, as they were originally stuck in place to the branches at ground level (see this fascinating video). It’d surely be an arduous and expensive process, but would certainly make guests appreciate all the more this not-so-hidden gem. (As would a long-dreamed-of reinstatement of the tree’s ingenious fresh water plumbing system.)
So while it may not be as luscious as it could on top, La Cabane will at least look a far fresher home for the Robinsons on the inside when it officially reopens on 17th December.
Tuesday, 22nd November 2011
The nations of “it’s a small world” are celebrating their end-of-year festivities again: “it’s a small world” Celebration has returned to the Fantasyland for its third year in a row. Revived with much thought and effort in 2009 after several years’ absence, the seasonal overlay brings back all its now-traditional “extras” to the classic ride. Redesigned signage, seasonal music, extra lights, special props and a vast wardrobe of unique “celebration” costumes — one for practically every animated doll in the ride — continue to make this one of the most unmissable experiences of the whole year at Disneyland Paris. Read More…
Tuesday, 8th November 2011
It was another round of bad publicity for Frontierland‘s biggest attraction on 27th October when one of the trains at Big Thunder Mountain suffered a minor derailment, but luckily this turned out to be a blink-and-you-miss-it blip for the ride. On the evening of Thursday 27th October, a coach near the back of one train derailed before the second lift hill in the middle of the ride, causing it to lift off the rails on a straight piece of track. Travelling at “low speed”, according to reports, there were thankfully no officially recorded injuries and all guests we safely evacuated from the island.
The attraction closed immediately, as pictured in the photo from 28th October above, but ultimately only remained shuttered for three full days. It reopened on Monday 31st October, just in time for the sold-out Disney’s Halloween Party that evening, having been deemed safe to resume service after all the necessary checks and verifications. Visitors such as member sfr31 on Disney Central Plaza have remarked that the ride was nevertheless operating at reduced capacity, with long queue lines and only three trains in operation. Reports of the incident — from its possible causes to the coaches which derailed and even the exact location of the derailment — have been contradictory to say the least, though a photo of the train has now appeared on the website of a South of France news service.
This incident clearly has no connection to that at the ride in April earlier this year, when a piece of fibreglass scenery fell and injured a guest, but no doubt its Cast Members will be hoping the “wildest ride in the wilderness” stays out of the headlines for the foreseeable future.
Thursday, 6th October 2011
Is Disney Village seeing the first effects of Disney recently taking back control of some restaurants previously run by an outside company? The small New York Style Sandwiches shop, positioned between the Sports Bar and The Disney Gallery, closed on Monday 3rd for a refurbishment that will last until Friday 21st October. The windows have been completely covered over during the works. It’s currently unclear how big the changes will be: whether this is simply a freshen-up to get things back to Disney standards, or if changes could be on the way to the rather tired venue, previously operated by Groupe Flo along with Café Mickey, The Steakhouse and Annette’s Diner.
Opened in 1992 as Carnegie’s Deli with full table service, it was renamed after just a few years. In May this year, it gained some hefty competition from the new-build Earl of Sandwich just across the way and subsequently altered the focus of its menu away from sandwiches to pizza slices and other Italian-American snacks. Curiously, the signage notifying of the current closure (captured here by Mouetto on Disney Central Plaza) uses the New York Style Sandwiches logo but in its text calls the location by a new name: “New York Deli”. With the Earl now having the Village’s hot sandwich market wrapped up, will Disney further reposition the shop to offer greater variety?
This follows a major refurbishment of the Disney Fashion store nearby in June, which saw the formerly dull outlet gain a more quirky “boutique” feel. Of the retail units in Disney Village — notably Disney Store, Hollywood Pictures and World of Toys — that store was the least likely to effectively be made redundant by the opening of World of Disney next year, perhaps calling for an even bigger rethink of the offer along this side of the street, which has long been somewhat uninspiring.
Wednesday, 28th September 2011
Is Disneyland Paris beginning to wind down its Captain EO encore? A quick look at the latest Closure & Refurbishment dates for the parks now shows the Discoveryland attraction marked as closed on weekdays for the first three weeks of October: 3rd to 7th, 10th to 14th and 17th to 21st. Those infamous yellow 3-D glasses were also kept out of guests’ hands last week, when EO closed from Monday 19th to Friday 23rd September, suggesting that — rather than simple refurbishment as first expected — a new “peak days only” operating programme could be coming into force.
Michael Jackson and George Lucas fans have already had to contend with some very limited hours for the 3-D theatre show this year, with the first performance of the day held back until 11am and a closing time set far short of the rest of the park at around 5 or 6pm. The return has always been on an indefinite run, but if you’re a particular fan of this “rag-tag band lead by the infamous Captain EO”, you might want to catch an encore next time you can, just in case.
Captain EO returned to all its original locations at Disneyland in California, Epcot in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Park in Paris last year. Though originally confirmed as “not returning” in the Backstage magazine for Cast Members, it ended up reopening in Paris a month ahead of the other international parks on 12th June 2010. This was still some way behind the February opening of the “Tribute” show in California, and though the relaunch garnered some initial publicity it is clear there has been only muted excitement for Jackson’s return to Disneyland Paris among regular guests. With no replacement yet in sight for the other parks, Discoveryland faces having a high-capacity theatre shuttered for much of the time — all the while, right next door to an out-of-date Star Tours.
Friday, 23rd September 2011
The new “light show” at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith has gone live with state-of-the-art equipment, but it’s actually light shows — plural — that we get to experience on the Backlot attraction: five of them, one for each “SoundTracker” train. Now, brought to our attention by Alan, another has hit YouTube courtesy of Deanrell and is even more impressive to behold than the multicoloured affair we previously saw for SoundTracker 3’s “Love in an Elevator” and “Walk this Way”. This show, for SoundTracker 1’s soundtrack of “Back in the Saddle” and “Dude Looks Like a Lady”, uses a blue and green theme and adds a particularly cool new effect, pictured above.
Now we know what the Imagineers meant when they told us to look out for “surprises” on the trusses the ride swoops around: When SoundTracker 1 nears the huge circular truss, a circle of 12 manoeuvrable lights form a ring like a camera shutter which “opens” just in time for the train to fly through! All through the ride, from start to finish, the lights are blinding, disorientating… and seriously rocking. It’s the rock comeback we’ve all been waiting for.
Video by Deanrell on YouTube follows… Read More…
Friday, 23rd September 2011
It’s Love on a Roller Coaster all over again. One of the best surprises when Disneyland Paris unveiled its 2011 Refurbishments Programme to us in March this year was the announcement of a brand new light show for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. Ever since, the Backlot coaster’s many passionate fans have followed the progress of lights disappearing and reappearing, not to mention the tribulations of the legendary smoke effect, more fervently than ever. Now, as you can see from the excellent on-ride video attached below, the first of the brighter lights have officially gone “live”!
Smoke fans will notice the soundstage still has a fog-free outlook at this point, but this is still said to be a “work in progress” for the next few weeks. We were promised two “ultra-efficient” and “eco-friendly” new fog machines, pumping out “a special type of fog” to be installed as part of the improvements. All the work is being carried out after-hours — a progressive replacement of lights and effects throughout the ride, with no closure — and “new technologies in moving lighting design” were also promised, including some surprises with the truss lighting that riders fly past at all angles. Utilising LED technology, the new show is promised to be far more reliable — and energy efficient — than the 2002 version. Walt Disney Imagineering Paris modelled the new light shows in 3D using a CGI model of the ride before installation and programming began. There are five different light shows and five different Aerosmith rock soundtracks, one for each of the SoundTracker trains.
Unlike its Florida cousin which sends riders flying past 2D cut-outs of Hollywood landmarks, the Walt Disney Studios Park version of the thrill ride relies on a genuine synchronised stage lighting system to give life to the black void inside studios 8 and 9. In May this year, Gibson Guitar Corporation of Nashville, Tennessee officially put its name to the attraction in becoming its official sponsor; a more fitting “presented by” than most, giving additional, genuine rock cred to the ride.
On-ride HD video by Gilleke12 on YouTube follows… Read More…
Thursday, 22nd September 2011
Never trust a pirate, eh. For months it has seemed a sure-fire certainty: Jack Sparrow audio animatronics to finally join Pirates of the Caribbean for 20th Anniversary! But now it looks like the big Pirates of the Caribbean refurbishment planned for early next year has been curtailed and the addition of Jack Sparrow animatronics cancelled — at least for 2012. According to several sources on the French Disney Central Plaza forum, including La Rouquine, the originally planned closure of 3 months early next year to account for the changes has now been cut back to just 2 weeks. Moderator Dash adds that he learnt last week the new additions were cancelled again due to budgetary reasons.
The movie overlay, which was given to the US versions as long ago as 2006, was never publicly announced by Disneyland Paris, only confirmed internally, so we should note that for us the resort is not technically “cancelling” anything. It was first strongly rumoured for the Paris version of the attraction during the 15th Anniversary, before again appearing to be on the cards for the New Generation Festival in 2010, and then again for the current Magical Moments Festival to tie in with the fourth film, “On Stranger Tides”. This year’s 20th Anniversary plans were the closest the make-over — which could include up to three Jack Sparrow audio-animatronics, Barbossa as captain of the marauding ship, a Davy Jones mist-screen projection and other technical upgrades — ever got to reality.
While Pirates purists might raise a bottle of rum to the news that the Disneyland Paris version of the attraction will remain (for at least a little while longer) in its own world, untouched by the movies’ characters, consider what you’re drinking up to, me ‘hearties. Is the cancellation of a three-month spruce-up for this 20-year old masterpiece really a good thing? Couldn’t it stand to benefit from new technology, from improved lighting, effects and music? A robotic Johnny Depp might be a price to pay for that, but it’s probably the only (marketable) way such an upgrade would happen right now.
However, continuing the annual almost-but-not-quite game, DynastyGo reports the refurbishment is not cancelled but simply postponed, to the next financial year. But what do you think — has Disneyland Paris already missed its “opportune moment” to capitalise on the success of Captain Jack?
Wednesday, 21st September 2011
Fantasia Gelati is the latest to be added to the long list of 2011 refurbishments. The Carte D’Or ice cream location in Fantasyland has already had its three cone-shaped roofs cleaned and repainted this month; now scaffolding has risen around its gently leaning tower for a much, much needed refurbishment.
Though some work was done to the façade’s front walls during a closure in February, the rooftops on this corner of Fantasyland’s Italian area have been a pretty disgusting maintenance blackspot for several years, as seen in the photos from 2010 below. Located opposite “it’s a small world” and facing away from the sun for much of the day, sightlines aren’t always naturally drawn to this pastel-coloured gelateria. You never know, the return to a more appetising condition might even sell more ice cream.