Hold onto your hats and glasses: Big Thunder Mountain has re-opened! Disneyland Paris made the surprise announcement on Friday via Twitter, revealing that the Frontierland roller coaster would re-open to guests just a day later, on this past Saturday, a week earlier than expected. This follows its planned three-week refurbishment and, of course, that incident back at the end of April — which saw a decorative fibreglass rock above the track fall and injure five guests.
As it happens, the closure this forced upon the ride, one week before the planned closure, seems to have brought forward the whole refurbishment and finished it a week ahead of schedule. At least you can’t criticise Disneyland Paris for wasting time, even if the circumstances were less than desirable. The refurbishment has primarily seen the whole mountain regain its full ochre lustre, which had been fading following the previous 2006 repaint (and this time they even promised to remember the Rainbow Arch) as well as restoring various small effects. On-board, a magicforum member suggests that, while you can’t see anything visibly missing in the fateful final lift tunnel, none of the faux-rocks overhead (supposed to simulate an earthquake caused by miners’ dynamite explosions) were moving.
For all the worry over Sleeping Beauty Castle being covered by scaffolding for its complete restoration, it all seems to have been over in a moment. Visitors have watched over the past couple of weeks as first the decorative scrim was taken down then, after a short delay, all of the scaffolding covering the front of the castle came down. While the scaffolding at the back, in the Castle Courtyard, has risen to new heights, the section covering the north easterly wing of le château, on its right-hand side, is now almost all gone. So, what does all this disappearing refurbishment detritus reveal? Well, a Disney park landmark still in transition… almost returned to its full beauty.
Whilst the five new shades of pink have now become very clear, the brickwork a crisp new palette of pastels and clean ivory white, there are many remnants of the previous 1998 repaint remaining. The rooftop above the main window still has its grimy yellow gradient effect, the two golden spires have yet to return with their renewed shimmer and work continues on giving the previously blue/green turret roofs a stronger blue colour. Previously, we’d seen the rooftops painted in a solid, dark blue. This has now been softened with two additional shades on top, to give the same scattered pattern as before, although it’s still clear to see which rooftops have been given the new look against those which haven’t.
Progress has continued this week with the removal of all the scaffolding on the castle’s north easterly wing, revealing a truly gleaming façade behind. On Twitter, @InsideDLParis has been charting the work and captured the photo below which really shows what a fresh coat of paint does for details:
Following a much-needed clean and repaint, the waterfall on the other side of the castle was also been turned back on yesterday. There’s still much to do before the restoration is finally completed this August, but this will mostly consist of smaller-scale works and final touches done using moveable cranes and lifts. Rooftops to be completed at night and paint colours to be finished up in the daytime. And then, at long last, this Sleeping Beauty won’t be dormant any longer.
Drink up me hearties: Captain Jack Sparrow is coming to Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris in 2012! The European version of the attraction will finally end a 5-year stint as the only edition not to reference to the blockbuster movies, adding the exact same Audio Animatronics and special effects which “plussed” the Anaheim and Orlando rides in 2006 and Tokyo’s version in 2007. That includes three animatronic figures of Jack Sparrow himself, looking remarkably like the Johnny Depp character — one amongst the mayor/auctioneer scene, one hiding in a barrel and one drinking up in the final treasure caverns. In addition, the captain of the ship in the “attack” scene at the bottom of the first drop will likely be replaced by Barbossa, and the Imagineers will hopefully find somewhere to position the mist screen projection of Blackbeard, which was just announced to replace the original Davy Jones projection at Anaheim and Orlando yesterday. In the three broadly similar versions of the attraction already updated this comes at the start of the ride as a forewarning, but with the Paris edition having a different story layout its exact position is currently unclear.
The update has been confirmed internally for a while now, though so far hasn’t been officially announced and isn’t likely to be for a few months at least. But there we have it, our first known 20th Anniversary addition! Funnily enough four years ago we were talking about this exact update for the 15th Anniversary, but that’s Disneyland Paris. It seems like every year since then the rumour has resurfaced again, as those behind the magic tried to push it through the budgeteers, whilst money was spent instead on theme year after theme year. Most recently it looked like a dead cert for this year, what with the much-anticipated fourth film due out this very month (and enjoying a huge world premiere event at Disneyland in California today). As Captain Jack would have said several times over by now, “If you were waiting for the opportune moment …that was it.” But next year will do just fine, providing a solid Imagineering addition in what’s otherwise looking like a very Entertainment-based anniversary.
So, enjoy “On Stranger Tides” in stereoscopic digital 3D and then set course for Paris this time next year, to see Sparrow come alive in three real dimensions. And he only took 6 years to cross the Atlantic!
Here’s a word: unprecedented. We always hoped there would be a big effort to get the parks and resort “neat and pretty” for the 20th Anniversary, but no-one expected the refurbishments to come so early and so all-encompassing. Seeing each of the projects announced during the 2011 refurbishments presentation starting one by one is very exciting indeed, especially when they’re finally beginning to fix “black spots” such as the Newport Bay Club lighthouse. This prominent beacon on the all-to-often windswept Lake Disney has had its wood panelling literally hanging off for the past few months. Things weren’t so drastic at The Old Mill in Fantasyland, captured by @InsideDLParis with its sails removed for work to begin, but expect similar repairs to the panelling and roof.
And over in Adventureland, perhaps the largest project of all these — the complete restoration of the Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost exterior. Unlike The Old Mill, this walk-in counter service restaurant remains open, with scaffolding and tarp currently surrounding the entire first two floors.
Friday might have been a big day for royalty in the United Kingdom, but across the channel it’s been a big week for the royal palace of Marne-la-Vallée. The complete refurbishment of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant rolls on at impressive pace, now seeing the first bold blue turrets unveiled following brief spells capped in white primer “snow”. When Peggie Fariss told us during last month’s refurbishments presentation (which we will conclude writing up this week!) that the previously blue-green turrets would see their blue “brought out much more”, that wasn’t an understatement. The photo above by Chouket on Disney Central Plaza gives a good overview of the change, with a half-done blue turret up front contrasted with several older, greener rooftops behind. This proves that whilst it was an easy way to headline the new colour scheme as “returning to the 1992 look”, that’s not the full story. The colours of 2011 will certainly be much closer to 1992 than the second 1998 era now being concluded, but they are really a completely new scheme, a brave new third era for the landmark.
While some turrets have gone blue, two have gone completely missing. They didn’t hop on Eurotunnel for the Royal Wedding — they’re the two thinnest towers (decorated with snails) which are due to regain their original gold leaf colouring, and the easiest way to do that is to simply pop them off and do it at ground level somewhere backstage. At the same time, this very Saturday saw the unveiling of the castle’s tallest rooftop, looking simply stunning in its new solid blue with gold accents:
The first photo above was tweeted by @InsideDLParis just last Wednesday 27th April, whilst the second is from Saturday 30th, showing the remarkable speed that the castle is being given its new colours. From a white primer base coat, the roof now already has its final solid blue and another two rooftops to the right have swiftly turned white to continue the transformation overnight. No doubt you notice another big change, too — the removal of the decorative scrim! The whole tarp covering the front of the castle was removed this week to reveal what looks to be a practically complete façade behind. Edges and details are now a crisper ivory white, whilst the stonework has a bluer palette, richer again than the drab grey it had become and contrasting perfectly with the castle’s five new shades of pink.
Whilst the tarp has been removed, the scaffolding stays in place for now. We were told at the presentation that finishing touches to paint colours would require work in clear daylight, to ensure the right look is achieved, as well as that scaffolding would begin to disappear “by June”. Perhaps this front section will be taken down imminently before that date, but it’s not a given.
Meanwhile, don’t think this restoration is all about turrets and towers — one popular landmark has just been given a much-deserved makeover. Nicknamed “Fungus Falls” for far too long, there’s not a spot of green dirt in sight at the castle’s thundering waterfall now, turned off and completely cleaned up with fresh paint! Take a particularly close look at those three stone columns between the railings in the foreground — the one nearest the camera hasn’t been repainted yet on one side, giving a good idea of this dramatic “before and after”. The entire project is set to be complete by the end of August.
Here’s the latest on Big Thunder Mountain following the incident on Monday which saw four guests injured and one taken to hospital. It now appears to be confirmed that the attraction won’t reopen before 27th May 2011 — that is, before the end of the already-planned refurbishment which had been pencilled in some time ago for 9th to 27th May 2011. This lengthy closure will primarily see the entire mountain (and this time, also the Rainbow Arch) repainted in its rich ochre colour, a task last completedalmost five years ago in October 2006. This seems like an obvious and sensible outcome, to roll the closures into one, and the park is perhaps “lucky” with the timing of the incident (if you can use those words) that this is possible. Rumours circulating that the ride will be “closed for three months” should be disregarded at this point. The photo above, taken today by InsideDLParis on Twitter, shows green refurbishment walls now positioned in front of the entrance.
As for the incident itself, latest word is that the faux rock made of fibreglass didn’t fall directly onto a trainload of passengers but onto the track. It was then hit by the train as it passed, launching the debris which injured five of the 25 riders. As noted on Monday, four of those guests, from outside of France, returned to the park after being treated on the scene. The condition of a 38-year old Frenchman who was taken to hospital was clearly stated to not be life-threatening. Le Parisien reports his wife and two children were being accommodated again by Disneyland Paris on Tuesday night. A prosecution against Euro Disney Associés SCA has been opened for the man’s temporary incapacity for work following the injuries, and the Chessy police service continue to investigate. A spokesperson for the company has stated this is the first incident of its kind since the resort opened in 1992.
Just a couple of weeks ago Rainforest Cafe in Disney Village lost two of its toadstools along with another of the original Festival Disney columns, exposing the bare white walls above its ground floor themeing. We wondered what was planned for the building, and now we have an answer: a “blue sky” idea, but perhaps not the “big thinking” type. Yes, the white wall started turning blue last week, pictured above on Thursday by @InsideDLParis. Initially looking like a gradient effect similar to the Crush’s Coaster façade, a look at the completed paintjob on Saturday by PanoraMagique frequent flyer “manuchao” below shows it to be more of a solid block blue, perhaps designed just to fade into the background.
Another “temporary” fix-up is the last thing Disney Village needs, though this is at least unlikely to provoke such a negative reaction as the coloured “balloons” which sprung up over the Village’s towers and buildings in 2005. Any improvements to this block will be complicated by the fact that Rainforest Cafe only occupies the ground floor, meaning that ideas to retheme the whole height as temple walls, similar to the Downtown Disney Anaheim location, are probably out of the question. Following the announcement of its use as a “consolation” venue for the cancelled Princesses & Pirates Parties, we now also know that no work on a Hurricane’s Discotheque replacement will begin before July at the earliest.
It was an unsubtle way to funnel more guests exiting Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast into the adjoining Constellations shop, but perhaps the metal barrier constructed a few months ago didn’t quite provide the bump in sales hoped for. Today the metal gates have all been removed, leaving only the support beams wrapped in red and white tape. Oddly, the themed Buzz Lightyear vinyls previously stuck to the floor attempting to point guests into the shop have also been pulled up, so perhaps this is only a temporary chance to disobey Star Command’s orders?
As promised, here’s the official video of the Molly Brown rededication ceremony and the refurbishment presentation events of 25th March, when we were invited to see first-hand the ongoing and upcoming projects taking place across the resort in the lead-up to the 20th Anniversary next year. The Molly Brown’s full-time return to the rivers this weekend finally brought the video online, which also features a good look at some of the concepts and details we were shown during the presentation that morning. A map of Disneyland Park shows the areas to be refurbished in red, whilst photos show the original 1990s model of Sleeping Beauty Castle being re-touched with its new colours that “soar into the sky”.
Special credit to Kristof of magicforum and Photos Magiques for not only stepping up to the mic but slipping in that fun little tribute to the Molly Brown’s original “Queen of the River” title!
Map showing planned refurbishments in Disneyland Park for 2011 (annotated by DLRP Today)
Katy Olsen applies the new colour scheme to the original castle model
Thomas Bardenat explains the logistics of the castle restoration
That rededication ceremony and inaugural voyage two weeks ago on Friday 25th March was a premature outing for Frontierland’s practically all-new vessel, as she immediately sailed straight back into the dock at the back of the Rivers for “final touch-ups”. But now — cue Big Country theme music — the Molly Brown has officially returned! The Western River Line’s new full-time service from Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing began this past weekend with the first guests welcomed back on-board the ship to enjoy her new colours, new spiels and new, more specifically Western, story.
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