Saturday, 11th November 2006

The Christmas Parade 2006

Highlighting the popularity of this production in previous years, the 2006 parade remains almost entirely unchanged from last year, except perhaps for a few float decoration and music alterations that only a Christmas Parade pro would notice. The current parade cast make it a must-see production yet again, though, with excellent character performances and lively dancers, all with beaming smiles in their beautiful white costumes. 10 Minutes before the parade is due to begin, Mickey Mouse himself makes his way up the parade route on his car, before heading back to the end of the route in time for the start of the performance.

Compared to this very first performance of the season, the performance today (Saturday) on the first official day of Disney’s Christmas Season will have seen the addition of Father Christmas on his sleigh, only just arrived from the North Pole!

Enough with the words – onto the pictures!

Video will return soon!

Wednesday, 8th November 2006

Christmas returns to Main Street

Monday brought a sea of green construction walls, entirely closing off the hubs of Central Plaza and Town Square, along with the first few ribbons and garlands on the lamposts. Town Square’s Gazebo had already been returned to its non-Pumpkin form, and the flower beds had already been given their white winter coats.

Just one day later, the Giant Pumpkin is gone, the Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony stage is being worked on and garlands and ribbons have arrived on many of Main Street’s buildings, including the Gazebo. The trees and lamposts are all given special gold ribbons, and – the biggest change of all – the Christmas Tree has returned! As reported yesterday, though, the tree has returned to its original Town Square location after a two year vacation at Central Plaza. Lining up perfectly with the Castle and the sleek Fairytale Illuminations, the “new” location of the tree already creates a much cosier Christmas atmosphere.

Photos taken yesterday, 7th November 2006:

Wednesday, 8th November 2006

Disney’s Halloween Party Night 2006

The evening began at 8.30pm, with guests asked to enter via Walt Disney Studios’ gate before filing around to Disneyland Park, avoiding the guests still leaving from the park. Once through the gates, the Pink Witches pounced immediately, chanting their spells and shouting their words of witchcraft to the passing guests on Town Square, holding signs proclaiming “Pink Witches – Choose your side!”

In addition to the park’s main attractions being open for guests, the usual series of special entertainment kicked off in Halloweenland (Frontierland) at the FantaStitch Stage. The Halloween Festival show “Goofy and the Magic Pot” was joined by musical performances from “Hot Couture”, the female lead singer of which gave a rousing performance trademarked by more jiggling dance moves than ever seen before inside Disneyland.

Exploring deeper into the beautifully lit park, Adventureland was the place to meet and greet characters of every kind. Whilst Jafar, Ratcliffe, Shan-Yu and more gathered by Restaurant Hakuna Matata, a massive band of Pirates (including Jack Sparrow himself) was on the rampage opposite Captain Hook’s Galley, taunting guests and jumping over and around the beach scenery. If these characters were a little too menacing, a hop over onto Adventure Isle found classic characters such as Peter Pan, Wendy and Mr. Smee, whilst the Galley featured a pirate playing bagpipes and outside Pirates of Caribbean itself a live Pirate band performed throughout the evening.

At select times during the evening, a firey cavalcade made its way through Adventureland’s Bazaar and across the Adventure Isle bridge to Pirates’ Beach, where a haunting ceremony of flames and chanting took place, culminating in a giant blast of fire into the air above the water. Despite their best attempts, Adventureland appeared intact the following morning. Back in Frontierland, more villains such as Gaston and Cruella De Vil were waiting with the Pink Witches, and all manner of strange and mysterious fantasy creatures roamed the park.

At 11.30pm, The Ghost Ship Cavalcade made its way onto the parade route at Town Square. Presented entirely by an outside performance group, the show featured Adventureland’s fire artists and pirates joined by performers in flowing white costumes (surprisingly none of which caught fire). At the end of the cavalcade, the Ghost Ship itself arrived, with acrobats hanging from the masts. The music was unique to the performance, which featured three long stops just on Main Street itself, and was perhaps reminiscent of artistic circus performances such as Cirque du Soleil. Overall, however, the crowds appeared hugely unimpressed with what most agreed was a slow and misplaced performance.

You can see the Photos Magiques video of The Ghost Ship Cavalcade here.

Similarly disappointing, perhaps, were the fireworks. 2005 saw the creation of an impressive “Sound & Light Spectacular” featuring video projections depicting the story of the Pumpkinmen and Pink Witches. This year, the theme of pirates was used to create The Black Pearl Fireworks, a simple and fairly unoriginal performance of fireworks to music from both Pirates of the Caribbean films. An exciting finale for fans of the film, but otherwise an unimpressive end to a Halloween Party that, in terms of its unique live entertainment at least, never really entertained.

You can see the Photos Magiques video of The Black Pearl Fireworks here, and more photos from throughout the evening here.

Tuesday, 7th November 2006

Christmas Tree back on Town Square!

The reason why the tree has returned to its traditional location isn’t clear yet, but one reason could be the spreading of the crowds during the Tree Lightning Ceremony.

Be sure to keep an eye out on this article as Anthony will return this evening with photos.

Thursday, 26th October 2006

When Main Street moves to Orange County

Four years later, and their “Main Street: Orange County” decorations weren’t even meant to appear, until a last-minute decision just days before the festival began.

Never before have seasonal decorations caused such a stir as when the Pumpkinmen made their debut in 2003. They formed the central part of a revamped Halloween festival, which also saw the introduction of the Disney Villain Parade and the launch of a new theme song, It’s Halloween-Lo-Ween.

Only during Halloween could an Imagineering creation like Main Street USA, such a key part of Disneyland’s history, be plastered with orange paint splashes and overrun by plastic Pumpkinmen figures “frozen in time” by a Witch crashing into the Gazebo. Whilst the fans revolted, the public seemed to embrace the new characters, making the most of the new photo oppertunities and enjoying the live streetmosphere, which – horror of horrors – included Pumpkinmen painting over Main Street’s shop windows with real orange paint!

Included in the nearly one hundred Pumpkin touches around the land, we’ve got Pumpkinmen sat on false, paint-splattered benches, Pumpkinmen hanging from buildings in giant paint pots and odd Pumpkin signposts – all of which surely receiving thousands of “What the?!” remarks from guests every day. The most noticable change for 2006 is likely the addition of Stitch the Main Street Station sign, which has been rather ruthlessly cut into to show a black silhouette of Stitch. A nice effect here, though, is that smoke slowly floats out of the sign, as if Stitch has only just jumped through it.

Originally, the “frozen” Pumpkinmen figures were also designed to help blend the old Lights of Winter into the festival. Installed early to save time and money, the towering, snow flake-styled light arches were given several small orange stickers and a few Pumpkinmen to help hide the fact they were installed a month early.

Even in 2006, signs of Christmas have made their way into Halloween again, with half of the Enchanted Fairytale Illumination chandeliers installed at the Central Plaza end of Main Street: Orange County.

The illustrations here were drawn by Jérome Picoche for the 2003/04 seasons, showing the original vision for the Pumpkinmen invasion and the crash landing of Gruzella. In 2005, Gruzella was redesigned as the leader of the Pink Witches, who also now frequent Main Street at various times of the day to cause trouble with their fight against the Pumpkinmen.

Below, you can see just a small selection of the concept sketches created when Disneyland Resort Paris Creative Entertainment introduced the Pumpkinmen. The team, led by entertainment head Kat de Blois, designed each scene from scratch to suit various locations all around Main Street. Love them or loath them, it can’t be said that Pumpkinmen invasion wasn’t crafted with a lot of attention to detail.

When Main Street moves to Orange County, it might do it in a surprisingly un-mouse-house style, but it certainly does it with all the extravagance and detail we know and love as Disney, don’t you think?

You can see more photos of this Halloween on Main Street at Photos Magiques.

Tuesday, 10th October 2006

Ghoulish figures start to wake!

The changes begin even before the parade itself, as the Pink Witches (added to the festival last year as a rival to the Orange Pumpkinmen) step onto the parade route at Town Square and make their way to Fantasyland, leaving a trail of mischief behind them. This new “pre-parade” uses the wacky “Boo To You” soundtrack from Walt Disney World’s Halloween celebrations, and shows a return to a more “complete” parade experience for the resort’s entertainment teams.

Once the parade begins, with the Pink Witches lined up at the opening gate, the changes continue throughout. The huge inflatable orange ball, which rolled along thanks to a walking parade performer inside, has obviously succumbed to the claws of Stitch. The Pumpkinmen’s orange paint well float from 2005 (also used as the Snow White float in Disney Princess Parade) is now a general orange paint float for the “fab 7”, with Mickey and Minnie no longer using their rustic horse-drawn wagon to begin the parade. Along with this, the scarecrow dance section has also been lost. The updated orange paint float features Stitch wearing a pumpkin mask in a paint pot at the centre, whilst the Pumpkinmen themselves are relegated to a dance section at the start of the parade.

The final change is the addition of some unlikely new faces to the parade’s character lineup. Not wicked Disney witches or gruesome bad guys, but instead a collection of some of Disney’s most innocent classic characters. With characters such as Peter Pan and Pinocchio, it seems clear the parade is now attempting to cater for more guests than simply those supporting the Villain’s devilish ways.

You can now find a full guide to this year’s parade at DLRP Magic!, or a full photo gallery direct from the magic at Photos Magiques.

Update 17:28 GMT: Photos Magiques have now uploaded a full video of this year’s Disney Villain Parade to YouTube, which can be found in 3 parts:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Friday, 22nd September 2006

It’s Halloween-lo-ween already?

With over 2 weeks to go until the season begins (and over 6 weeks until Halloween itself), two of the most major Halloween props have already arrived. First, the Giant Pumpkin on Central Plaza was completed just a few days ago. The huge temporary structure is home to the festival’s face painting workshops and has been a key icon of the season since 2003.

Over in Frontierland (or should that be “Halloweenland” already?), there’s an unexpected return for a controversial landmark – the huge paint mining tower. Despite being strongly rumoured not to return due to the Big Thunder Mountain refurbishment and supposed dislike from the new management, the towering metal structure is already in place, though not complete. Introduced in 2004, the “Téléfreak” (a pun on the french work for chairlift/cableway, téléphérique) is a large prop consisting of a moving cableway between the steel tower and the “Pumpkin Paint Mine” of Big Thunder Mountain. A large paint pot also connects to the tower with a pipe, to supposedly collect the orange paint being mined.

Many suggest it is unlikely the full system will return, since the large scale refurbishment at Big Thunder would make the cableway hard to install. It therefore seems likely that simply the mining tower and giant paint pot will return for 2006.

Thanks to Poppy the Monkey at magicforum for the 2006 installation photo.

Thursday, 21st September 2006

Disney unveils its MagicHalloween.com

The overall presentation of the website, with its Flash animations and introductions, perhaps gives us a glipse at what to expect from Stitch’s involvement in the season. The opening of the website involves Stitch climbing across Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, whilst the mini-game sees him throw paint, tomatoes and toilet rolls across some of Disneyland Park’s memorable icons (transferred spectacularly well to the Flash animation). With Stitch popping up throughout the interrupt your browsing experience with paint splashes and ripping of the screen, does this tell us to prepare for an invasion similar to that recently seen at Tokyo Disneyland?

At the Tokyo park, Stitch took over with graffiti and mess across the park whilst the Cinderella Castle was being refurbishmed, whilst a similar stunt at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom saw him throw toilet roll across the Floridian castle for the opening of the Stitch’s Great Escape attraction. Only three details of Stitch’s Parisian invasion are currently known: his general meet ‘n’ greet presence throughout the park, his “CharacteriStitch Halloween Party” (similar to the 2006 Kids Carnival events) and his float in the Disney Villain Parade (the previous Pumpkinmen and current Snow White float).

The website gives away much more detail on the pages describing the Halloween Soirée event on 31st October, with the new Pirates theme being used as much as possible to feed of the success of Dead Man’s Chest. Jack Sparrow is confirmed to appear throughout the evening, and the special Halloween Night Fireworks will feature a soundtrack taken from the films. The website also introduces something new – a nighttime mini-parade in Adventureland. “The wizards and sorcerers, trolls, pirates, acrobats, dancers and percussionists stroll along in a ghost ship atmosphere”, it describes. The site also confirms the attractions scheduled to open during the event, which are:
(8.30pm to 1am) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, Phantom Manor, Disneyland Railroad, Space Mountain: Mission 2, Orbitron, Star Tours, Honey I Shrunk the Audience;
(8.30pm to 12am) Sleeping Beauty Castle, Le Carrousel de Lancelot, Blanche Neige et les Sept Nains, Les Voyages de Pinocchio, Peter Pan’s Flight, “it’s a small world”, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups.

If you want to be a part of the Halloween frights already, click onto the “Funny Face Contest”, which lets you upload your best worst photo (does that make sense?) with the aim of inflicting terror upon countless unwitting web surfers. You can flick through Stitch’s photo album to see everyone who has enterted so far, and there’s a rather zippy search function too. If this is the future of the resort’s online presence, we’ve got a lot to look forward to.

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