2011 Refurbishments — We use the word “finally” a lot around these parts, probably too much. But in this case, it’s entirely justified. The right-hand side of the Walt Disney Studios Park entrance plaza, which for years now has looked like an extended piece of Armageddon themeing, has just been surrounded by fences ready for repaving to finally begin. About time! Disney Central Plaza posted the above photo on their Facebook page, showing the initial area to be closed off. Hopefully those fences will continue to move about the entrance area to replace all those cracks in the foreground — and out of shot — with the same high-quality paving stones used in the initial phase of the entrance repaving.
This will conclude a repaving project at the entrance to the park that was begun way back in 2007 but never finished, when the original (and it seems, poorly laid) concrete searchlights and stars emitting from the entrance gates were relaid using proper stone paving. This only ever replaced the left-hand side of the entrance, though, leaving the pathway between the two parks (arguably one of the most important in the resort) to crumble away. The ground around the ticket desks meanwhile became a sea of craters — each fragment of eroded concrete another reminder of frivolous early 2000s cost-cutting.
We were promised a repaving project by Paris Imagineering head Peggie Fariss back in March (also the date of the photo above), but it appears we had to wait for the conclusion of several repavingprojects in Fantasyland and not least the end of the busy Summer season for it to finally begin.
If you follow the official Disney Parks Blog you might have already enjoyed the superb “Tilt-Shift” videos of Magic Kingdom and Epcot at Walt Disney World, which turned those grand Disney parks into something resembling a toy train set or stop-motion animated film. Well, great news Disneyland Paris fans — they’ve taken a trip across the Atlantic! A brand new Disneyland Paris tilt-shift video premiered just hours ago today, in honour of the ninth birthday of Walt Disney Studios Park. Take a look above — it’s a seriously beautiful piece of work.
As the Disney Parks Blog explains, “Tilt-shift videos like these use different photo angles, focus settings and color saturation adjustments to make the subject of a photo appear miniature.” And most awe-inspiring, “It took more than seven months and 4,000 photographs to produce this 2:38-minute clip.” The variety of attractions, events and locations captured is truly impressive, far greater than the two earlier single-park videos, successfully making everything from Disney’s Fantillusion to Moteurs… Action! look like a small-scale model magically coming to life. We even get to see the up-scaled Toy Story Playland attractions downscaled again to the size of a toy!
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.
British newspaper the Portsmouth News has reported a distressing incident which took place with a local visitor on the walkway between the main Disneyland Paris parking lot and the Disney Parks. Going back to his car during the day, the 39-year old man was twice pestered by a “ticket tout” for his park tickets, presumably so that they could be sold on by the tout for profit. Upon refusing a second time, returning to the parks, the visitor was apparently punched repeatedly in the face and left needing emergency surgery to remove two teeth and a piece of his jawbone.
Fans will be well-aware that this area and all around the resort’s train station is officially classified as public land, outside the control of Disneyland Paris. It’s through this “loophole” that the area immediately outside Disney Village is almost always filled with unpleasant vendors, selling cheap gifts such as wind-up kittens, plastic models of the Eiffel Tower and even potentially dangerous laser pens. Will this attack on a guest finally convince Disney and the French government that something needs to be worked out with the security and status of this incredibly busy, sensitive spot of land?
According to the article, a Disney spokesperson said: “This incident took place on public land, which Disneyland Paris security is not permitted to police. We continue to work closely with the authorities to ensure an incident like this does not happen again.
Those authorities should be aware that, even on a good day, cheap vendors don’t sell a great image of France to millions of international visitors. Being punched in the face is an altogether different league. It could happen anywhere, but it shouldn’t happen at Disneyland.
This year’s Disney Magical Moments Festival has already manifested itself along the moving walkway to the parks, replacing advertising for the New Generation Festival and Toy Story Playland with an incoming style of thick typefaces, bold colours and glittery backgrounds. From the first general banner above, announcing the French title of Le Festival des Moments Magiques Disney with a big “2011” and the Sorcerer Mickey icon for the year, guests roll upwards along the walkway past six more “moments”.
Featured for the celebration, beginning 6th April 2011, are Lighting McQueen, for his new cameo in Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular, the new Alice in Wonderland event, the Jungle Book and Lion King meet ‘n’ greet events, the Peter Pan happening, Mickey Mouse, presumably for the new Central Plaza show, and the Disney Princesses for their advertised new meet ‘n’ greet experience in the former post-show “World Chorus” of “it’s a small world”. You can see the full collection here.
Another year, another set of sky blue banners? Spot on. For the fourth year running, we’re welcomed onto the resort hub — and again and again through Fantasia Gardens and Front Lot — by banners featuring the year’s theme logo and the word “Welcome” in a variety of languages:
The almost identical in design Mickey’s Magical Party banners have been switched out for these new canvas banners on every lamppost in sight, alternating between the French and English logos.
Are these just unoriginal, or is blue just a nice, neutral colour that works for both parks?
Either way, there’s one plus for this year’s batch of near-identical banners — they’re slightly less identical. In Front Lot, there are several designs featuring just the New Generation characters, such as Mike Wazowski, Buzz Lightyear and that ten-year-old alien who won’t ever take a break, Stitch.
Different designs or not, it’s quite an overwhelming invasion…
What is this festival called again?!
Back at Front Lot, we’re seeing the Walt Disney Studios Store entrance being “toyed” with again, as the first temporary marquee in over a year has appeared to tempt more people inside the boutique. It’s the first New Generation Festival store decoration so far, coming just days after the old Magical Party marquee disappeared from The Emporium.
Though the Little Green Men and Stitch are flat 2D designs, Slinky Dog is partially in 3D, his springy body wrapping around the entrance. Inside, you can of course pick up your very own Slinky toy.
Inside the park, the Monsters Inc. Scream Scene near the entrance of Toon Studio has been closed for several weeks to allow preparations for its starring role in the year ahead. The ‘Scream Monitors’ signage has been taken away and returned for refurbishment, and the fun yellow floor markings have been completely repainted.
In fact, though the corner is being included in the “new” features for the year, it has been in place for so long (since 2006) that the “Child Detection Agency – Scream Scene” paint had completely worn away.
As we reported at the end of January, the ‘Monsters Inc. Scream Academy’ listed in brochures and press releases was originally meant to be a brand new show that was cancelled just days before auditions. We’ve since leant that the show, which would have featured a live host inviting guests to dance and scream with the Monsters, was actually set to happen not in this tight corner but on a separate travelling stage, similar to the High School Musical shows.
Though the ‘Monsters Inc. Scream Academy’ hasn’t been removed from advertising, we now have to assume that’s the new name for the photo location, the preview videos have been made incredibly vague and all mentions are very careful never to mention the word “new”…
At least with Sully (the only live Monsters character we’ve seen at Disneyland Paris since 2002), expected to be rejoined by Mike and — for the first time — Boo (dressed up in her Monster disguise) for the Disney Showtime Spectacular over at Disneyland Park, these extra characters could hop over in between to provide something “new” here after all.
One week to build a single curve of orange Hot Wheels track would normally be a bit slow, but when you’re dealing with the new 25-metre steel halfpipe of Walt Disney Studios Park, this is certainly not bad going.
Looking sleeker and more playful than the slightly utilitarian structure of the Parachute Drop, RC Racer grew from purple/pink steel supports in the third week of February to its full orange height just last week.
Whilst this weekend, Dlrpteam took to the park and assessed the impact for us:
Compared to the still very modest size of the Studios’ current floorspace, Toy Story Playland occupies quite a sizeable extension; this halfpipe positioned right at the back of the area up against the new curve in the repositioned Studio Tram Tour route. As such, it has a less dominating impact on the park at present.
Sitting between the other recent Toon Studio additions, the new attractions do appear to complete a very colourful palette of attractions — pink and orange for RC, green for Toy Soldiers, yellow and red for Cars and blue for Crush’s Coaster. But this attraction is what it is — a large steel halfpipe, similar to those produced for “regular” amusement parks by coaster manufacturer Intamin, with only minimal customisation above ground.
That customisation has actually yet to appear — if you thought the ribcage design of the track is a little strange, that’s because flat orange pieces will sit between those steel protrusions, to give the look of a flat Hot Wheels-style track. In fact, the 20-seater vehicle will really be running on this very Intamin-like triangular track hidden in the middle.
Heading around the park, the more slender track and distant placement of RC Racer gives it much less impact than the Parachute Drop. The wide base, where the covered station loading area will span the track, nevertheless plays a few perspective tricks, making the ride looks wide and expansive from Backlot (and particularly the raised entrance area of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster):
From outside the main body of the park, Studio 1 completely blocks all visual intrusion from Toy Story Playland whilst in Front Lot. You’ve got to back up to the higher level of the main resort hub to catch a glimpse of the new attractions between Studios 1 and 3:
Finally, let’s climb the Disney Village parking structure to see how the two towering new rides slot into the wider park. Zoomed in, it’s still the plump tower of Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop which has the impact from this angle. Currently unlit, RC Racer has less presence all the way in the distance there:
And looking at the complete picture, the new land is completely dwarfed by Tower of Terror. As expected, the two attractions, both around 25 metres high, just about reach the top of the Tower’s front showbuilding, and no higher:
Nevertheless, the ride presents a dilemma for the morals of Disney Imagineering fans. On the one hand, it’s a steel halfpipe that now towers over much of the park. On the other, the clever Hot Wheels concept might well allow it to justify itself — at least far more easily than past WDI creations such as Mulholland Madness (California), Primeval Whirl (Florida) or even mini coasters like Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster (Tokyo) and Gadget’s Go Coaster (Tokyo/California), all of which feature bare steel track and supports with little grace.
In the great Disney tradition, the overhead boards, posters and billboards all along the route of the moving walkways from the resort’s parking lot to Disney Village are now promoting the next grand theme year at the resort.
These advertisements replace those for Mickey’s Magical Party, which had been in place for almost a full year and were becoming worn-out.
Above the moving walkways, which are unique to Disneyland Paris, the signage originally pointed directions to the two parks and Disney Village. However, since these are all obviously “straight ahead”, in 2007 the boards began to be used for advertising these new and upcoming attractions.
There are suggestions that Euro Disney SCA, operating group of Disneyland Paris, could be about to sign a landmark agreement with French energy partner EDF.
Currently, as visitors arrive at the resort by car or coach, they’re greeted by a pleasant — but exceptionally large — parking space. A huge expanse of tarmac poured nonchalantly over the former fields of Marne-la-Vallée, this has perhaps never been the best of first impressions for the French to become enamoured with Disney’s controversial arrival.
An unfortunate necessity becomes a publicity coup?
Creating electricity which can then be used on-site or sold back into the grid, the futuristic canopies also collect rainwater to reduce piped water usage as well as protecting people — and their cars — from the elements, be they a rainstorm or a scorching hot day.
Rather than your car burning up in the full heat of the Summer sun, that energy would be transformed into real power — possibly even to power your ride on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Phantom Manor!
The idea is not entirely new, already being in use at locations such as the E-Leclerc shopping centre near Montpellier seen in these photos. These canopies are manufactured by French company SunVie. Should the enormous parking surface at Disneyland Paris be covered by “solar panels” like these, it would apparently become the largest such energy plant in France and almost certainly one of the largest in Europe.
Naturally, after the initial excitement at such a prospect, thoughts are now turning to the visual impact of the “Ombrières” which, whilst actually functionally good-looking, would probably contrast a bit too much with the more whimsical structures already dotted around the parking lot, such as the canopies of the moving walkways.
To redesign them with a little more Disney spark certainly wouldn’t be hard, but multiplied over several hundred rows could amount to a restrictively large rise in construction costs.
Indeed, details so far are rather sketchy as to how such a project would be managed between Euro Disney and EDF — who would pay for the set-up, who would get the power generated? Nevertheless, this would be a sure-fire publicity winner for the resort, and hopefully more than just blue sky (solar) thinking…
That patch of land jutting out between the IMAX building and its Gaumont Cinemas entrance has been waiting an awfully long time, after all. For almost a decade now, the spot has been earmarked for a large, signature store to anchor this busy corner of the resort centre, using the ‘World of Disney’ branding from the Florida, California and New York locations.
These huge department stores are rather like your ultimate, dream version of a regular Disney Store. Operated instead by the merchandise department of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, they attempt to offer the biggest selection of Disney products available, in a sumptuously-themed interior.
Whilst the New York store fits within its leased 5th Avenue location, the stores in the Downtown Disney areas of Disneyland and Walt Disney World share a somewhat similar style. Will the Paris equivalent continue the theme? Not at all…
Photo: Alexandre Rosa via Disney and More
Even the first models and concepts from years ago depicted a very different style of architecture, one that appeared to almost be trying to fit in too hard with its Planet Hollywood and Gaumont neighbours, offering them a blue globe elevated above its entrance and similarly-curved canopies above the entrances.
And then all fell silent. Until, that is, earlier this year — when member MykeY on DCP forum supplied not only fresh hope that the project could be moving ahead but a brand new concept image. This time, depicting something altogether more fantastical:
Inspired by the grand style of the greatest Parisian department stores, this World of Disney store seems to take its cues more from the Galleries Lafayette than any Floridian retail outlet. Beyond the large, open windows spanning its façade, the store sits below a giant central dome — with others above each entrance. You can never have enough domes in Paris, after all.
Mickey Mouse details are present and correct, worked into the side of the building, but with the monolithic “World of Disney” letters worked into the larger of the two entrances, which we have to assume will sit right on the corner of the site, the exterior is more Art Nouveau than Art of Disney.
The original poster added that the cost was estimated at around €14m, a substantial amount for a new store, however important. See, the location right here on the corner is practically — no, entirely — perfect. Guests leaving the park currently often skip right past the offerings of Disney Village, eager to get their sore feet into their car or hotel as quickly as possible.
Bringing a signature store right out here, addressing and opening out onto the hub itself, is about as guaranteed a way as possible to get those cash registers ringing. And, if you’ve been in the incredibly tired Disney Store just after park closing, the extra space alone will be more than welcome.
But just how much space will there be? From the looks of the imposing profile of our Galleries Disney, a second floor must be a possibility — or how about a grand atrium under that huge dome? The latest information, posted by RiverRogue on magicforum, doesn’t quite promise exactly what we’re wishing for, suggesting the upper floor (or indeed, “floors” plural) will just be for storage:
The design has slightly changed after the retirement of Wing Chao from WDI [link], but the project is still going ahead and construction ought to start relatively soon.
The retail surface will cover most of the ground floor, with upper floors used for storage. Judging from what I’ve seen and heard it’ll be the smallest of the World of Disney stores, but still rather big compared to other stores in the resort.
Nevertheless, using any space on upper floors for storage should mean more space saved for retail on the ground floor. With the comment here that construction should begin “relatively soon” and estimation from the original DCP poster that the total cost is no less than €14m, it seems when this project finally does get done, it’ll be done right.
Think about it — the generic Disney Store surely can’t outlive the opening of a World of Disney too long, and even Earl of Sandwich encroaches more than a little on the market of Disney’s own New York Style Sandwiches (formerly Carnegie’s Deli). Then there are the other boutiques — with a World of Disney selling the biggest collection of merchandise on property, will there be much need for the arguably quite bland selection of Disney Gallery, Disney Fashion, Hollywood Pictures and World of Toys? With most of that block made redundant, this could be a real chance to turn it around into something a whole lot better.
Given a look at the some of the wonderfully diverse offerings from Disney itself at the American Downtown Disney districts — from Disney Vault 28 to the new D-Street and several more — we can’t but hope this potential domino effect leads to nothing short of a full-scale revolution in the Village.
Yes, they show us the World yet we’re still thinking of more. Bring on 2010…!
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