Monday, 9th April 2007

Press Release & Concepts: 15th grows with new attractions

Gathered in the Hotel New York convention centre, the press were told that “the celebration doesn’t end here!” as the resort proudly announced it’s ‘Phase 2’ of the 15th Anniversary, leading from the June debut of Toon Studio right up to Stitch Encounter in early 2008.

On the proud occasion for this new, more confident Disney resort, a special press release was prepared, detailing the new attractions and providing new insight and comment from Walt Disney Imagineers working the various projects. The release is presented exclusively in full here:

Disneyland Resort Paris 15th Anniversary Celebration Grows
As Walt Disney Studios Park Adds Attractions, Entertainment

MARNE-LA-VALLÉE, France (April 1, 2007) – Disneyland Resort Paris continues the 15th Anniversary Celebration with the announcement of even more attractions debuting at Walt Disney Studios Park in the coming year, marking the largest expansion in the last five years for Europe’s No. 1 holiday destination.

“Walt Disney once said ‘Disneyland will always be building and growing and adding new things.’ And in that spirit, we continue to take his mission to heart by designing, developing and creating new experiences that will make our Resort unique, memorable and, most important of all magical,” said Karl L. Holz, chairman and chief executive officer of Euro Disney S.A.S. “We’ve come a long way, and we haven’t finished yet.”

Among projects that are part of the yearlong celebration:

Walt Disney Studios Park Expands
With Toon Studio, 3 New Attractions

Walt Disney Studios Park grows with the June debut of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally as part of the new Toon Studio. This colorful area transforms the Park’s Animation Courtyard into a lively “studio backlot” that playfully pays tribute to the art of animation.

Crush’s Coaster is the first coaster-based attraction inspired by the Disney-Pixar film “Finding Nemo”. Guests climbs aboard a turtle shell and plunge into the thrilling world of Nemo and his turtle friend Crush, with sophisticated show lighting, sound effects and imaging technology creating a whimsical whirl through the East Australian current.

“Disney has always been known for creative storytelling, and Crush’s Coaster takes immersive storytelling to the next level,” said Tom Fitzgerald, executive vice president and senior creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering. “Imagineers are pushing the boundaries of technology to bring the worlds and characters of ‘Finding Nemo’ to life in incredible, three-dimensional ways.”

Also premiering in June is Cars Race Rally, the first Disney Park attraction based on the Disney-Pixar film “Cars”. Guests of all ages climb aboard for a zany spinning ride on the famous Route 66, created with dimensional movie sets. At each corner of the track, famous faces from the film are waiting to cheer on drivers. As the rocky desert landscape whizzes past and the canyon walls spiral around, your car crosses the finish line.

A third attraction debuts in early 2008 on the Park’s new Hollywood Boulevard — the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, towering 183 feet. Thr thrill ride will dare guests to board a hotel freight elevator — with a faster-than-the-speed-of-gravity drop through 13 floors. Tower of Terror, already a hit at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland, is one of Disney’s most popular attractions worldwide.

“Hollywood Boulevard is a great example of infusing our story into the physical space through a 1950s Hollywood neighbourhood with dimensional movie sets, color and lighting,” said Fitzgerald.

More Interactive Fun — ‘High School Musical On Tour,’
‘Meet The Robinsons,’ ‘Ratatouille’ Meet ‘n’ Greets

The hottest dance moves and the biggest hit songs from one of the Disney Channel’s most popular entainment phenomenon come to life in “High School Musical On Tour,” a new immersive show for the whole family at Walt Disney Studios Park.

Debuting on a rolling outdoor stage June 16 and performing through Aug. 26, a multi-talented team of entertainers brings the students of East High to France for summer vacation, re-creating the world of East High, a place where best friends break into elaborate musical numbers like magic. Theme Park guests may even find themselves shooting basketball or joining in as the whole street turns into a party while great songs fill the air.

Performed in several languages, it’s a showcase of sing-a-long fun that will invite all ages to be part of a new kind of live entertainment inspired by the highest-rates TV movie in Disney history.

Also this summer at Walt Disney Studios Park, guests can meet the characters from the newest animated Disney-Pixar film. Beginning June 16 in Toon Studio, meet the starts of Disney-Pixar’s upcoming animated feature “Ratatouille”: Rémy, an adorable rat who dreams of becoming a great French chef, and Emile, his roguish friend. And this fall in Toon Studio, meet 12-year-old boy genius Lewis Robinson and the mysterious boy named Wilbur Robinson who whisks him away to the future in the comedic “Meet the Robinsons.”

‘Living Characters’ Debut with Stitch Attraction

Utilizing the latest real-life computer graphics animation technology created by Walt Disney Imagineering, a new interactive Stitch Attraction opens in spring 2008 at Walt Disney Studios Park. The attraction lets guests talk, listen, joke and play with the fuzzy, lovable alien first introduced to audiences in Walt Disney Pictures’ hit comedy, “Lilo & Sttich.”

Because of the interactivity and immersion of this new experience, the guests are the ‘stars’ of the production along with Stitch himself,” said Tom Fitzgerald, executive vice president and senior creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering.

As Guests enter the theater, a Space Traffic Controller scans a galactic communications screen for “active” alien traffic. Stitch is quickly summoned to talk, joke and even flirt, engaging the audience in spontaneous conversation. The show is never the same twice — whether Stitch plays his guitar, dances around the bridge of the spaceship or takes digital photographs of audience members. And no matter where guests are seated, Stitch sees and engages them in non-stop banter.

“It’s the latest milestone in Walt Disney Imagineering’s legacy of bringing Disney characters to life,” said Fitzgerald.

All-New Live Entertainment in Disneyland Park

In Disneyland Park, Mickey Mouse and dozens of Disney characters star in the all-new Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, featuring famous dream moments from Disney stories, and for the first time ever, the floats have fragrances that fill the air, matching the themes of each float. Also for the first time, most of the floats have two themes, one on the front and one on the back.

Music is orchestrated and conducted by noted musician Steve Sidwell, who also wrote the music for films including “Moulin Rouge,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “Finding Nemo,” and was recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.

There are even more opportunities to meet classic Disney characters, including the new Disney Characters’ Express, a specially-designed train that carries the stars down Main Street U.S.A. several times daily. Their musical adventure includes time to meet and greet with guests in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and at special locations added just for the celebration.

And each evening, the park will come to life during Candleabration on the forecourt stage, featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and friends in a lively song-and-dance finale with the backdrop of Sleeping Beauty Castle, artfully adorned with delicate sculptures of 15 favorite Disney Characters with shining birthday candles decorating the turrets.

—– End Release —–

The new additions weren’t just previewed with words. Press were treated not only to a special preview performance of the new ‘High School Musical On Tour‘ show, but also to a glimpse at two brand new pieces of concept art, captured and presented to the ‘outside world’ for the first time by our partner site WDSfans.com.

The first is a key concept for the new ‘Hollywood Boulevard’ project, showing our own Twilight Zone Tower of Terror surrounded by 1950s Hollywood city buildings, littered with neons, billboards and seating and towering high above the streets below.

Anyone following the project from its first preview at the January Cast Member rendez-vous event may recognise that this is actually one of two concepts designed for the area. As we heard from the Cast Member event, this ‘Bank of Hollywood’ street set development was not the chosen design – the design will instead be more “pueblo deco” and “mediterranean” as the Tower itself, as seen on the new park map.

The new Hollywood Hills tunnel entrance to Studio Tram Tour is also missing, though the concept does certainly give an exciting and atmospheric look at the theme and surprising size of the project – and of course, finally, our first real look at a dedicated concept art created just for this project.

It’s interesting to note also that Imagineers are describing this as a “1950s Hollywood Boulevard”, meaning that, at the time this fictional “film shoot” is set, The Hollywood Tower Hotel would already have been closed for over 10 years (since 1939).

Finally, another concept art – and again, the first one we’ve seen for this particular project. Showing Stitch’s invasion of the current Walt Disney Television Studios building, this concept for Stitch Encounter shows the building decorated with a new, more blue and purple, colour scheme, along with a huge entrance sign featuring the loveable alien himself. A satellite dish is featured atop the current tower, looking like something straight out of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.

A new, circular information board is also featured in front of the attraction, displaying times listings for both French and English performances and matching the Art Deco design of the building itself. The Imagineers working on the new transformation must be relieved that the slight whimsy and futuristic look of the Art Deco building already lends it quite an “outer space” style.

Interestingly, the Disney Channel branding appears to have remained – both on the huge projection screen embedded into the building and atop the new times board. Also of note is that whilst the concept shows a ‘Stitch Encounter’ entrance sign similar to the original attraction in Hong Kong Disneyland, the press release simply states ‘Stitch Attraction’, suggesting the final name has yet to be decided.

With all this announced and released just one day after the launch events and premieres for the 15th Anniversary, it all adds up to a huge range of new additions – bigger, perhaps, than the 50th Anniversary of dear old Disneyland USA itself.

Karl Holz said it perfectly – “We’ve come a long way, and we haven’t finished yet.”

Concept art © Disney; Captured exclusively by WDSfans.com

Sunday, 8th April 2007

(Video) 15th Launch Night: Candleabration Fireworks

Throughout the day, and especially in the hours before the spectacular launch night event, fans filled the park, put up with being pushed aside to accommodate the press, and soaking up the magic, the buzz and the atmosphere of the night. It wasn’t hard to a spot a fan on the 31st – either by their endless filming and photographing or proud display of circa-1992 Euro Disney clothing and accessories, the celebration truly began with the fans.

Over six months of following the preparations online or in the parks, and of course 15 magical years themselves, had all been leading to this moment. In just a few minutes, the celebration would officially begin, and with it one of the biggest and most important years in the resort’s history.

With Daniel Powter’s well-received performance of two songs finished, he quickly ran of stage to allow a team of crew members to remove the sleek white piano and audio equipment, ready for Candleabration. Along Main Street, the air was filled with the opening synth notes of “Just Like We Dreamed It” for around 10 minutes, with a strange, faint murouring of deep-toned speech on top, only adding to the sense of anticipation.

Finally, with the stage set, lights across the park suddenly dimmed and the fibre-optic “15” plaque glowed and sparkled, the christmas lights on the Castle joining in with their own strobe flashes and sparkles. Trumpets blasted out, heralding the start of Candleabration, before the music faded into the popular Peter Pan “Dreams” theme and the crowds gasped in delight.

As the entrance of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant was illuminated from inside and smoke poured out, returning an image from the 1992 Grand Opening, the team of flag artists and dancers ran up onto the stage and began their routine, cutting through the air with their blue 15th Anniversary flags to the beats of the music.

The music reached its climax, and suddenly a surprise diversion from the usual Candleabration routine began. Arriving on stage first was not Mickey, but instead Lumière – a very special host just for this evening, and a character not seen in-person at Disneyland Resort Paris perhaps since the end of Videopolis’ Beauty and the Beast stage show. Lumière began “Bonsoir Paris! Et Bienvenue!” before joining the shimmering blue-and-white dancers – now with their white top hats for a majestic dance routine set to swirling strings and powerful trumpets, a moment usually enjoyed by Mickey in the regular show.

Behind them, the Castle turrets sparkled and projection patterns sweeped across its towers, before the music reached a dramatic climax and Lumière raised his candles into the sky with the dancers and their hats.

Passing the reigns over to the one that started it all, Lumière announced in French “Ladies and gentlement, please give a warm welcome to our incomparable host, acommpanied by some children full of dreams!,” and welcomed Mickey Mouse onto the stage – “Bonsoir monsieur!”. Mickey replied “Bonsoir Lumière!” before turning to the crowd – “Good evening everybody! Hey, say folks, do you believe in dreams? You do?! Awww, that’s swell!”

As a line of around fifteen children filed onto the stage, in front of the dance team, Mickey continued “You see, I’ve invited some very special friends to be here tonight! And, they’re going to share their dreams with us!”. In the background, the faint opening notes of the score for the resort’s 15th Anniversary teaser trailer played throughout. With the children ready, dressed in their blue outfits and yellow scarfs from the pre-parade earlier, Mickey turned to them – “Hiya kids! Tonight, I’ve got a very special – magical – gift for every one of you!”.

Pointing to the stars the children were holding, he announced “These magical stars have the power to make your dreams come true! So just lift your star, as high as you can, up towards the sky! Now, close your eyes, and make a wish!”. Sleeping Beauty Castle turned a dreamy shade of blue, dotted with stars, as the familiar voice of the Blue Fairy from the park’s Wishes Nighttime Spectacular filled the air and translated for Mickey in French. The children then held their glowing, multicoloured stars, as high as they could, and proclaimed “By the power of this magic star, make our dreams come true”.

“Remember children, never stop believing in your dreams, for they are the real magic in the world” the Blue Fairy concluded. “So, listen to your heart, and watch…” “Alors, ecoutez votre coeur, et regardez..!”

Lights faded, the children turned and music swelled to its full rhythm, as Mickey clasped his hand and threw the dreams of the children across the face of Le Château. One by one, fantastical, colourful digital projections of children encountering Disney characters across the resort filled the towers, turrets and spires of the Castle as the rhythm of the music provided a perfect time for the audience to look back on the past fifteen years – and gasp in wonder.

When the dreams faded away, the echoing choir and chords of the “dreams” theme music faded in, joined by a moving projection of a huge red carpet across the Castle, bouncing from side to side and wrapping itself around the turrets. Mickey rejoined his usual Candleabration speech, announcing “You know folks, today is a very special day! 15 Years of dreams and magic, and – fifteen candles! So keep your eyes open, ’cause this is going to be one of the most magical moments ever!”

Music climbed to another deafening climax, the spires shimmered and sparkled with hundreds of lights and Mickey reached out with both hands, stretching out to the audience before turning and pointing his magic toward the Character Castle Makeover.

Then, one by one, timed exactly to the beats of the Peter Pan “dreams” music, each of the fifteen candles burst to life with a flickering, orange glow and an extra “ping” in the music. The audience watching from Main Street shouted the numbers – “eleven!” “twelve!” – and then, the “bougillumination” was complete. Lights flickered across the spires and sweeped up Tinkerbell’s trail of pixie dust, culminating in a burst of gold confetti from her wand, perfectly illuminated and met with a perfect “ooooh!” from the crowd below.

But the party was only just beginning. Minnie stepped on stage and proclaimed “Oh Mickey, c’est magnifique!”, followed by Pluto, Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Chip n Dale – “And now, it’s time to celebrate our fifteen magical years!”, Mickey announced, as the characters prepared their instruments and “Just Like We Dreamed It” began… with a spectacular burst of fireworks.

To the full, extended version of the theme music, the characters danced and played their instruments whilst a huge, colourful, choreographed fireworks display filled the sky behind them.

Each burst of music, each note, was met in synchronisation with a score of fireworks in every shape, size and colour. From sparkling “wishes” rockets for the “Magically…” chorus end, to giant, pounding, bursts to the drum beats of the third chorus, the display began with simple red rockets and progressed to giant, airbourne, golden bursts like nothing seen at the resort for years.

Whilst budgets and local area laws usually restrict displays, for this night – and this night only – Disneyland Resort Paris threw everything it had at the performance – and into the sky. Even when the display ended with Mickey and Minnie wishing the park “Joyeux Anniversaire!” and a final shimmer of fireworks burning out, the party wasn’t over. “Just Like We Dreamed It” kick-started again for a special encore, as close to 50 huge golden shells exploded above the Castle, filling the sky, as smaller bursts of gold shot upwards below.

The characters danced off stage as the music came to a final climax, Mickey and Minnie dancing a celebratory waltz, before another – final – series of fireworks shot into the sky. If the 15th Anniversary is their big chance to finally turn around the background finances of the resort, they’re not taking any chances. Live music, castle illuminations, character shows, decorations, and extraordinary fireworks – Disneyland Resort Paris has a second childhood, and it knows how to party.

And now… the video!

With the ceremony complete, the press departed for their exclusive Red Carpet party, the 15th Anniversary finally here and now, this simply left fans and guests to enjoy the magic of a fifteen-year-old Main Street USA in Paris shimmering with magic more than ever before…

…Before guests finally said goodnight and an early “Joyeux Anniversaire!” to Disneyland Park, overwhelmed and spirits on high that The Year to Live Your Dream had already come true.

Photos by Photos Magiques and DLRP Today, some © Disney.

Saturday, 24th February 2007

Candles, characters, decorations… and letters?

Candlabration / Bougillumination

In true Disney fashion, every element of this vast celebration gets its own piece of concept art. First, Candlabration – the evening ceremony show which will see Mickey and friends light up the fifteen candles on the castle in a twilight show similar to the hugely popular Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony of Disney’s Christmas Season. The concept art confirms that the Christmas stage will stay, but shows it with a beautiful, golden overlay and “15” emblems in place of the current “Once upon a time” motif.

Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and Chip ‘n’ Dale are all present, wearing pastel and royal blue outfits which might be more than a little familiar to anyone who follows the US resorts. These “Year of a Million Dreams” costumes are due to be carried over to Paris for both this show and for general meet ‘n’ greets.

In Walt Disney World’s “Dream Along With Mickey” show (video here), the characters even have “articulated” talking heads, a concept which was premiered back in 2004 with Timon in our very own The Legend Of The Lion King. Since the costumes are the same and the show is featured in a similar location, we have to ask – will our Fab 7 be talking for the 15th?

Even if they don’t, it certainly looks like they’ll be providing us with some music. Take a look at what they’re all holding – each character has their own musical instrument!

Finally, the candles themselves also present a question – just how bright will they be? Both here and in the new TV spot they’re shown as bright, shining beacons of light, rather than the small flickering flames we might have expected.

Lumière Banners

With the park located in Paris and much of the focus being on those candles, it seems almost too good to be true that Disney have the perfect showman and mascot for the celebrations – Lumière! And if his golden statue right at the centre of the Castle wasn’t enough of an ego boost, he’s soon to appear on brand new banners lining Main Street.

Recent visitors to the park will likely have wondered why the Enchanted Fairytale Illuminations “Chandeliers” are still in place – and here’s your answer! Come 1st April, though, they’ll be barely recognisable. The chandelier crown itself will be completely removed and replaced with a golden cap and horizontal frame for the banner, whilst other gold elements will be painted onto other sections of the giant, ornate lampposts.


Whilst it hasn’t been confirmed if the poles themselves will still be able to illuminate, it has been mentioned that the banners will be lit in some way by modern LED lights. Two of the banners were on display at the shareholders meeting, and perhaps give a typically “Disney” solution – LED lights fitted inside the banners themselves, lighting up the bright white dots peppered across the design? We’ll have to wait and see…

D-i-s-n-e-y-l-a-n-d Letters

And finally… something no-one could have expected. After the Pumpkinmen and Pink Witches, the entertainment teams of Disneyland Resort Paris have been off designing their own park characters again. This time, you’ll be able to meet one of the ten letters spelling out “Disneyland”. No, honestly!

It doesn’t seem to be confirmed yet whether these will be statues, walk-around characters or maybe even giant puppets (like those at WDW’s Finding Nemo The Musical), but an early name being given to them is “Alpha Bet You Are”.

There hasn’t even been confirmation if all ten will appear at once, so perhaps we’ll have to hunt them down, throughout the park? It could be massive for autograph book sales, with ten separate single-letter autographs to collect… Or am I the one getting carried away now?

Concept art © Disney, captured by Mouetto on Disney Central Plaza forum.
Additional photos by Joel.

Friday, 26th January 2007

High School Musical to bop into the Studios

The introduction of a High School Musical streetmosphere show has been rumoured for several weeks, and now confirmation has been given. The show will run from 16th June to 26th August 2007, adding yet another new addition to the hefty lineup of events for the 15th Anniversary year.

It will likely be based on the “High School Musical Pep Rally” shows from Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World in Florida, the latter of which just moved to Disney-MGM Studios itself after a brief spell at the Magic Kingdom. The shows feature most of the songs from the hit TV movie weaved into a storyline which sees the performers rallying support for the stars of the movie with all the cheerleading and basketball stereotypes of an American High School. If the show is to be performed at the same location as Starring Cruella De Vil, it will be featured directly opposite the Disney Channel studios themselves.

Rumours suggest that the three trailer sets of Starring Cruella De Vil could even be reused for the new show, with the decors replaced. Many will be sad not to see the previous show return, which built up a surprising fan base over its two Summer seasons thanks mainly to the exceptional performances of Cruella herself. You can still find a full guide to old show here, or a video by Photos Magiques here.

As for High School Musical, LaughingPlace.com has a photo guide to the Disney’s California Adventure version, which could give us some idea of what to expect from this all-American high school show.

News from WDSfans.com; Lead photo by LaughingPlace.com

Thursday, 28th December 2006

Merlin l’Enchanteur breaks the spell

Beginning on 23rd December, as the park switched to its high-season operating schedule, the new show remains entirely faithful to the 1992-2001 original, presented in the Castle Courtyard around the mythical Sword in the Stone itself.

Merlin the wizard arrives in the courtyard and tells the tale of the sword, before one-by-one children from the gathered audience step up to try their power pulling the sword from its stone. After several failed attempts, Merlin will finally inevitably find the right child, who will pull the sword (at least part of the way) from its resting place and take the crown. The child then gets to wear the royal robe and their coronation is duly celebrated. As the show comes to an end, the lucky child will receive a certificate proclaiming their victorious triumph.

Fans and guests appear more than pleased that the streetmosphere show has finally made a return to the park, with the performance of Merlin himself noted as particularly good by members of Disney Central Plaza forum. Returning such a sorely missed show to the park is certainly the crowning acheivement of a year of refurbishments, additions and renewed magic across the resort.

The show is currently being performed every day (except 24th-27th Dec) at 11h00, 12h00, 13h00, 15h30 and 16h30. According to reports it is only scheduled to run until the end of 2006, though its return surely gives hope for a fullscale Merlin revival during the 15th Anniversary next year.

All photos by Characters_dlrp. You can see more here.

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