For eleven days from 18th to 28th June, Walt Disney Studios Park will be hosting a mini-festival celebrating Pixar’s greatest stars during Toy Story Play Days.Read More…
It’s Toy Story Playland, but not as we know it. The second land based on the Pixar property and cousin of last year’s Toon Studio expansion is nearing completion all the way out East, at Hong Kong Disneyland, ready for an opening date this November. Part of a three-land expansion of the similarly-underbuilt park, it represents admittedly the least exciting prospect alongside the all-new Mystic Point and Grizzly Trail. All three attractions are present and correct, with Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop and RC Racer towering not over a patchwork backlot but the immaculately-themed Adventureland. Ouch. The land’s layout differs in that the two have effectively switched places and an additional building (pictured on the left of the shot above) provides a more substantial retail space. However, there’s no Barrel of Monkeys — which could have bridged the vast thematic gap into the future Mystic Point next door — nor the towering forest which pleasantly surrounds the Paris land.
The choice between Woody or Buzz at the entrance to the land is going to divide everyone, but we’d have to say that the plastic Buzz Lightyear with his light-up laser seems more fitting for this kind of monument than the ragdoll Sheriff, who looks unnaturally “plastic”. Buzz’s pose in particular encourages far more photos with guests copying his stand to attention (come on, we’ve all got that photo), while his position in the middle of the path gives much more interest to the entrance area.
Where Hong Kong really has Paris beat, though, is in the marketing. Right from the start, the Asian park created far more publicity for the expansion than the European resort it was originally designed for, releasing countless press releases and concepts. The earliest Toy Story Playland concepts clearly show it was designed with Walt Disney Studios Park in mind, but the only artwork we saw until just weeks before its opening last August came via Hong Kong. Now, check out the smart Toy Story Land-liveried shuttle bus below and the TV report with a look inside the land which follows…
With every new Disney attraction, the Imagineers’ work is never quite complete when the ribbon is cut. Once guests start pushing through the turnstiles, filling out the queue lines and fastening their seatbelts, a whole myriad of niggles or opportunities to “plus” the experience often come to light; the designers and engineers having to go back to the drawing board to tweak their creation. At Toy Story Playland, there was something we could have all seen coming: long queue lines. While the basic rides themselves only have a finite capacity, park operations soon jumped on the best idea to maximise that number with the installation of temporary Single Rider lines at RC Racer and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop.
This year, as part of the 2011 improvements programme, those successful trial lines became “official” lines, with queue barriers and signage redesigned to properly accommodate them, and here’s the final piece of the playset: space for Single Rider wait times to actually be displayed at the entrance. At the moment, a single rider can see a regular wait time of 80 minutes at RC Racer but have no clue how long that means they’ll be waiting for a spare seat.
Whilst the entrance marquees for both attractions have been modified today to include a second dot-matrix display, they’re not yet operational. Calculating attraction queue times is usually as easy as pairing the
number of turnstile “clicks” against the hourly throughput (update: see comments) of the ride, but with guests coming in groups of different numbers and empty seats never a given, it’ll be interesting to see exactly how Disney work out the wait time for a single rider to put a seatbelt on it.
Yeah sure, John. During his European publicity tour for Cars 2, which included hosting a special showing of the film for fans in Paris, John Lasseter also dropped into Disneyland Park on Wednesday. Stopping for this photo at around 2pm with the 2011-12 Disneyland Paris Ambassadors Régis Alart and Osvaldo del Mistero, Pixar’s creative chief had the pleasure of seeing Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant nearing the end of its lengthy restoration, complete with newly-returned golden spires.
We also completely missed, in yesterday’s excitement, that this would have been John Lasseter’s first ever visit to Toy Story Playland, a land he had much creative input in. Better to see it here, and when the leaves are on the trees, than as a sore thumb at Hong Kong Disneyland…
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!
Nine years ago today, Disney’s tenth theme park worldwide opened its gates. For such a milestone, the original Walt Disney Studios Park of 16th March 2002 was perhaps not the best representative of the Disneyland ideals. Be it through desperate lack of budget or not, the park drastically missed the mark of what a European audience — or any audience — wants from a theme park. Forget the beautiful landscapes of Tokyo DisneySea, opened a year earlier; here there were almost no outdoor themed areas to speak of at all, just 25 hectares of freshly poured tarmac asphalt and 10 attractions housed in uninspiring “soundstages” of concrete. The bid to pay tribute to European filmmakers was noble but possibly misguided — Florida’s raining Singin’ in the Rain umbrella scene was changed to the barely known Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, for example — and the glitzy warmth of Hollywood was oddly missing. The park suffered from a complete lack of escapism, when what people really wanted was a whole park with the colour and spirit found inside, say, Disney Studio 1.
Because that’s the thing — the park has always had some great attractions. Nine years on, CinéMagique remains beautifully subtle and wonderfully entertaining, one of the best movie-based attractions ever. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith might not be pretty on the outside but the ride inside arguably beats its kitsch Florida cousin, whilst after 9,000 performances it’s easy to take for granted just how impressive the stunts of Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular really are.
Having dug itself a hole by ploughing too much (or, you could say, not enough) money into an unpopular park, it took Euro Disney SCA far longer than it should have done to begin expanding the second gate. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror should really have opened in 2005 (or earlier), rather than begun construction that year, whilst the Toon Studio expansion of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye should have been there from the start, not five years after opening. No-one should have ever green-lit the Television Production Tour, now occupied instead by Stitch Live! since 2008 and Playhouse Disney Live on Stage! since 2009.
The modest Hollywood Boulevard turned out to be a great surprise and even Toy Story Playland, maligned by some corners of the fan community, is a marked step above any other themed areas in the park. To get the Ratatouille dark ride built in the years ahead would be an amazing feat: the first new dark ride at Disneyland Paris (ignoring Buzz) in all its 20 years and possibly the first real implementation of Audio Animatronics in the whole Studios park. But let’s just hope it doesn’t end there, that we see the park continue like its last four years rather than the first five. May the park continue to improve and expand, to revisit Theater District and fix the original areas, to add places to eat and places to buy things, and maybe, one day, rename Production Courtyard. We can but dream… Here’s to the future!
If you’re no longer an avid viewer of 50-year-old BBC children’s television show Blue Peter, this one might have passed you by as well. But late last year, presenter Joel Defries took a trip over to Disneyland Paris to experience first-hand the new Toy Story Playland, its attractions and what went into making them. As well as riding RC Racer and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, he met with Tom Fitzgerland, Walt Disney Imagineering Executive Vice President and Senior Creative Executive, and senior show producer Chrissie Allen, who gave some insight into the two year process of designing and building the new land which officially opened on 17th August 2010.
Bestowed with a good few minutes of Imagineering know-how, Joel is then tasked with dreaming up his own blue sky idea and goes out to explore Walt Disney Studios Park for inspiration (!). Before long, he concludes: “There’s no water here! I want to do something with water!” Good thinking, Joel.
Yes, it was probably pitched something like that.
But first, a nice compilation from behind-the-scenes at yesterday’s press events, as a Disneyland Paris video camera follows the press around the new shows and events to give a feeling of these busy press days in the parks:
Now that’s got you warmed up, onto the main show!
Titled “The New Gen Show”, the opening ceremony and dedication of the New Generation Festival has all the usual ingredients of these one-off Disney grand opening spectaculars — a ridiculously large cast, jazzy projections and an “interesting” mélange of music.
On the one hand we have Buzz Lightyear reliving his French disco days, on the other Nemo coaxing Dory (right?) into the arena in something out of an arty theatrical show. All wrapped up with music from… Pixar Play Parade at Disney’s California Adventure.
Yes, it’s an eclectic, enormous and show-stopping opening ceremony for the year ahead. Might they have actually outdone all past efforts? Perhaps — in numbers and scale — even the opening of the resort itself!
It’s a shame, of course, that these kind of lavish events are reserved only for “VIPs” who probably couldn’t give a hoot about seeing a show like this. We have to wonder how much of the footage and how many of the images shot this weekend will really make an impact, or be featured in the media. It’s a tradition now that Disneyland Paris puts on one show for the visitors and one superficial blow-out to look good for the cameras. It’s something for the archives, for them to pull out and say “remember 2010?”.
Although given that they used the stunt arena this year, which has 3000 seats, this would have been a good chance to say, give away a few extra tickets in a prize draw to Annual Passport Dream holders… if only to see the show, to spread word of mouth, and not to enjoy the free food.
Videos © Disney
It’s certainly a merchandiser’s dream come true — free reign of the most popular Pixar characters and plenty of toy tie-ins for Toy Story Playland (even there’s still debate as to whether the land itself will have a single retail location).
Whilst the 15th Anniversary and Mickey’s Magical Party souvenirs largely featured the same design splashed over everything, the New Generation Festival already has a much more varied and modern selection of items. From simple logo T-shirts:
To fun character mugs and bowls:
It’s the huge expanded range of Toy Story items which take pride of place this year, however — especially with Toy Story 3 arriving in July. We’ve got cute plush toys of Bullseye, Rex and other Pixar characters:
Alongside the expected action figures and plastic toys:
Bored of the usual Sorcerer Mickey hats? Try out a funny triangular Buzz Lightyear hat for size:
Or any one of the endless spin-off toys and souvenirs:
And, to tie in perfectly with the parachute-themed ad campaign, there are these special Disneyland Paris-branded “Parachute Sky Diver” figures of Buzz and Woody:
Several other new merchandise lines have been added recently, including this range of “attractions” souvenirs featuring images and logos of Indy, Space, Tower and Pirates against a red graphic backdrop of other attraction logos such as Phantom Manor, Stitch Live and Studio Tram Tour:
The “I Heart Mickey” range of merchandise has also been expanded, with fancy new cups:
And some new mugs which state more elaborately, “I Am Madly In Love With MK.”:
Indeed, you’re never short of ideas for your next coffee mug at Disneyland Paris:
But be careful — too much caffeine (and shopping) can send you Plane Crazy…
Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.com