Friday, 4th February 2011

Roof over the Earl, discounts for Golden Arches and Starbucks Siren

Earl of Sandwich construction

Just a couple of weeks ago we were celebrating the concrete core of Disney Village’s new Earl of Sandwich restaurant reaching its full height, and now the roof is already on! From high above on PanoraMagique, fan “manuchao” snapped this shot showing the simple rectangular steel structure already in place on site, showing the full dimensions of the future counter service deli. Curved pieces of steel for the circular corner section are also in place, as is the floor of the indoor mezzanine level, which will cover only a portion of the floorspace to leave a more open and airy entrance.

In other fast food news at the Village, admin Mouetto on Disney Central Plaza forum shares that a 10% discount is now offered for Annual Passport holders at both Starbucks Coffee and McDonald’s — although hardly advertised, as Disney naturally fear it will impact on their own business. Apparently, the same reduction has also been possible for a while at outside-run King Ludwig’s Castle and Rainforest Cafe. Saving euro cents on your Big Mac and Frappuccino — another AP perk! Now, will the Earl offer the same on a toasted Full Montagu?

VIA manuchao, Mouetto (DCP)

Friday, 11th September 2009

How much does a Disney Village Starbucks cost?

The multinational chain is already known for its high prices, so that combined with the strong Euro and prominent Disney location risked an inflated price rather too high for many regular guests — though you wouldn’t know it from the queues stretching back to the door for most of the day, particularly after park closing.

Starbucks Coffee

Still wondering? We snapped a quick photo just for you:

Starbucks Coffee
(click and zoom in to check out most of the prices)

Your Grande Latte or Cappuccino costs €3.90, whilst the simpler Americano is priced down at €2.80. Frappuccinos are up at €4.50 and above, Viennese hot chocolates priced from €3.60.

How are those prices for you? For comparison, a regular 40cl Nescafé in the parks will cost you €2.60, with a new 60cl option available for €3.00. Depending on your view of coffee, 90 cents or so might actually be a small premium to pay for a rather more “real” cup…

Pictures: DLRP Today.com

Saturday, 8th August 2009

Buffalo Trading Company lives on… in Hollywood

Yes, the Hollywood Pictures store just across the street! As arno-hh on magicforum just spotted this week, if you walk through to the back of this movie-themed shop, you’ll stumble upon a very familiar display unit…

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Now suitably forming part of the Pixar ‘Cars’ merchandise display, the trunk end of the red motor car — a Cadillac Eldorado, perhaps? — has been given over to plush toys from the popular film.

It used to be one of the most memorable features inside the old store, with the front end actually sitting above it, hanging off the wall…

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So, even though the trendy new Starbucks Coffee might have been initiated into the resort’s photo library and nomenclature, the past hasn’t been completely forgotten.

What happened to the “hood” of the car? Well, perhaps it just became a very substantial conversation-starter in an Imagineer’s home? Keep your eyes peeled for more old props, anyway…

Pictures: arno-hh, Photos Magiques (more).

Thursday, 6th August 2009

Starbucks Coffee added to official photo library

With its huge, framed windows and earthy, warehouse feel, the mermaid-topped coffeehouse has become a beacon for what could be a “new” Disney Village.

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Sure, with the long-delayed planters and trees finally spread throughout the entertainment centre since Spring 2008, it’s been looking very, very different for over a year already.

But this is the first actual step in putting some of that feeling into the buildings themselves, the first major addition to the Village since those trees set it on a new path last year. It might have taken a slightly controversial icon of globalisation to achieve it, but the result is incredibly good for the place.

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It was all designed jointly by Starbucks and the former Disney Construction Company (DCC, who were behind Val d’Europe), which is now part of DLP-I — the Paris branch of Imagineering, in charge of smaller projects, and especially non-park work (thanks Kristof, magicforum). Between the many Disney-owned and several tired-looking venues in the Village, a Starbucks as swanky as this really gives the street the feel of a “happening” place.

Even better, it’s genuinely eco-friendly, too. Starbucks gushed about the new store on their blog back in June, and included two previously unseen pieces of concept art:

Starbucks at Disney Village Paris

Have you heard the buzz about the new Starbucks store in France?  On June 20th, we opened a new store in the Disney Village Paris that is truly in a class of its own. It is the first international store to be built using our new design concept that connects our stores to our coffee heritage.  This store is also the 50th Starbucks store in France and marks the 5th anniversary of this important market.

So, what’s so special about this new store?  Inspired by artists’ studio environments and modern design in Europe in the 1930’s, this store is not only beautiful but also includes local materials and green design to enhance the customer experience.  This new store design is part of our effort to have all of our new company-operated stores worldwide certified by the end of 2010 under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. This is a key component contributing to the Starbucks ™ Shared Planet ™ goals in environmental stewardship.

The LEED ® Green Building Rating System evaluates a building on various criteria including energy performance, indoor environmental quality, community connectivity and regional materials.  Accordingly, the innovative design of this store includes the following features:

  • Adjustable, low-energy lighting system
  • Mixed-mode HVAC system (mechanical and natural ventilation) saves energy  and makes use of existing building tower feature
  • Large, operable windows provide natural ventilation, ample daylight and fresh indoor air quality
  • Water efficient fixtures in restrooms and bar areas
  • Low emitting materials reduce off-gassing and allow the aroma of our coffee to be the star
  • Salvaged and recycled construction materials & furniture (including reuse of local French wine barrels and authentic champagne riddling racks)
  • Recycling available for customers and store partners
  • Measurement and verification plan to monitor energy and water savings over the life of the store

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The new location was officially opened on 20th June 2009 by Euro Disney CEO Philippe Gas and Starbucks Coffee CEO himself, Howard Schultz:

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You can find a whole fact sheet about the store here, which reveals, for example, that certain wood is from used barrels reclaimed from the French wine industry, the exterior wooden cladding is made with reclaimed Champagne racks from France, the countertop uses a material containing recycled mobile phone parts, and so on.

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Compare the design of the new Starbucks Coffee to the corner of The Steakhouse just to its left, and the remnants of rethink after rethink are all too clear. The minimalist Frank Gehry architecture of 1992 meets the new colours of 2005, meets the balloons of 2006, meets the red horseshoe border of 2007, and so on.

Hopefully this modern and clear vision set out by the Starbucks won’t just be applied to any other new buildings but to the older buildings, too. That said, it’s not necessarily the design style of Starbucks’ exterior that most of us would like to see transplanted to the other locations like The Steakhouse, Hurricanes and World of Toys

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Since the post-1992 additions of Planet Hollywood and King Ludwig’s Castle, for example, there couldn’t (and probably shouldn’t?) be a consistent, shopping mall-type design through this street.

But at the same time, should every location be as loud as this Starbucks or King Ludwig’s? No, smaller stores like Hollywood Pictures should probably have a more standard exterior, with only the larger, more special locations “jutting out” with more outlandish architecture, like the style used at California’s Downtown Disney. The only problem is that those forgotten stores currently have near-enough cardboard cut-outs for their signage, cheaper than those you see in your local town. So, you can guess what it all boils down to in the end — money. Something which Starbucks could pour a lot of into their project.

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However, if or when this long, long looong-awaited World of Disney mega-store finally opens in front of the Gaumont Cinema, the Village’s existing Disney Store will likely be redundant. It might even clear out the need for the Hollywood Pictures and World of Toys stores further up, since the former is very similar to those in the Studios and the latter rather dated.

In that respect, you could argue it’s barely worth spending too much money on those old locations — just enough to keep them ticking over until they’re consigned to Yester-Disney Village. But, with the World of Disney forever on hold, that might not be any time soon.

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Realistically, Starbucks only adds to the jumble of Disney Village — but it does it with such style and thought that it’s really something to celebrate for the place. Here, at least, the original 1992 vision has finally been successfully updated for the 21st Century.

Perhaps if the entire area were being built today it’d all be like this — a real mixture of materials and textures, trees and planters from the start — the first environmentally-aware entertainment centre? As it happens, we’ve only the mermaid to cling onto… for now.

Pictures © Disney/Starbucks.

Friday, 31st July 2009

Did we miss anything..?

Well yes, quite a lot obviously. Just shows you shouldn’t go wandering into the Adventure Isle caves just before park closing… it’s been four long months!

If you’ve been similarly deprived of Disneyland Resort Paris news, given up trying to translate what they’re saying on the French forums, sit back and enjoy a quick and concise round-up of all the big stories of recent months — here we go!

SLEEPING BEAUTY’S BLING

Was it coincidence that updates here ended just about the time that Sleeping Beauty Castle succumbed to its most horrific, misguided meddling-with to date?

The birthday cake, the jester’s hat, the Epcot wand, the MGM hat… you’ve met your match. There truly aren’t enough negative adjectives in the dictionary.

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— — —

MAGICAL PARTY LAUNCHES WITH MEGA-PARTY

‘You’re invited!’ …but not to this. Press and media types were schmoozed in spectacular fashion as new theme year Mickey’s Magical Party kicked off with fireworks, projections, lights and so many characters they couldn’t even all fit on the damn stage.

Did it generate headlines, articles, media coverage? No.

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— — —

ACTUAL PARTY GROWS ON FANS

Frustratingly-titled new Central Plaza show ‘It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends’ initially looked rather like a drab flop on an overbearing and unnecessary new stage, but it has grown on most fans. The score by Vasile Sirli is actually plain fantastic (especially considering the lacklustre music in the year’s other new shows) and it provides a fresh, colourful heart for the year.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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ShoulderKids – this year’s must-have accessory

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LIGHT MAGIC GIVEN FORMAL APOLOGY

Over in Discoveryland, the other show with an annoying name — ‘It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland’ — brought delights such as large, primary-coloured circles on the floor of a retro-futuristic land, and the expertly-chosen hits of Block Party Bash.

Despite the show being considered terrible on every level by most who’ve seen it, the performers put so much effort and energy into their routine they each almost deserve a window on Main Street.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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— — —

PLAYHOUSE DISNEY QUIETLY OPENS

Beyond the forced MMP hoopla over the other side of the esplanade, Walt Disney Studios Park gained a brand new attraction — its fifth addition since opening — in ‘Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!’. Jolly good fun it is too — wonderfully staged, very charming. The Paris version even has a “1 Up” on the two earlier versions with a big new pre-show studio.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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Credit crunch souvenirs

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RESTAURANT GENERIQUE

Changing its name to ‘Restaurant des Stars’, the far too interestingly-named ‘Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant’ gained a new logo, some new colours and a new entrance canopy.

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— — —

DUDE LOOKS LIKE A FIRE!

In a quite bizarre coincidence, just days after fans launched an online April Fool suggesting Aerosmith would be succeeded by French rocker Johnny Hallyday as musical guests at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, a fire began in the roof of the showbuilding.

Luckily the damage was minor — though it did allow for these dramatic photos (below) as the inspection crews ripped off the cladding, checked and replaced it. The attraction reopened just the next day.

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SMEE GIVEN SURGERY

Captain Hook’s bumbling first mate was given a random makeover by the worldwide Disney Parks character team and, unlike most famous faces, he returned from the cosmetic surgery with a face more expressive than before. Remarkable.

Hopefully they’ll tackle some of the clearly worse-looking characters next, like the dead-eyed Woody, Jessie and Buzz…

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HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL PARTY!

Now back for a third year, the Studios’ High School Musical show this year gained musical numbers from the third film but stopped short of going for the full ‘HSM3’ show the other resorts put on. ‘I Want it all’ is the standout number, but one that certainly won’t win over any new fans.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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THEMED SMOKING

The ‘Smoking Areas’ inside the parks had been extended little beyond their miniature park map icons, so it’s reassuring to see that each area now has its own themed sign, tied into the location. Give it a few years and the public might actually use them.

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— — —

STUDIO STORE OPENS UP

Behind construction walls last time we saw it, the Walt Disney Studios Store has now been completed, with three new doors and payment desks in front of new, large windows.

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

— — —

STORYBOOK ENDING

Main Street has always had the best-kept exteriors of the entire park, always popping with a fresh bit of paint here or there. A new development in recent years are the nice tarpaulin coverings given images of the building hiding behind. Even for tiny spots like this one on the end of The Storybook Store, the hidden façade is still presented on top.

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PLAZA GARDENS GLEAMS

After a major refurbishment of the interior, including bringing the central fountain back to daily life, the whole Plaza Gardens Restaurant building was wrapped in themed tarps for an expensive top-to-bottom refurbishment and repaint. It didn’t stand out as being particularly bad before, there are other areas needing paint sooner, but it does look fantastic.

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— — —

STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES

Over the hub, it’s surprising to see that the refurbishment of Disney Studio 1 continues, the huge centrepiece building of the park still wrapped up in scaffolding. Must be a bigger job than originally thought, right?

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— — —

FLOORS OF ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY

Tripped up in Disneyland Park recently? No wonder, some of the concrete pathways are literally falling to pieces. Thankfully, the first resurfacing works seen for many years have been taking place, with areas of Adventure Isle and vast swathes of Discoveryland closed off and given new flooring, the effect — especially just in front of Space Mountain — very noticeably making the whole land look brand new.

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— — —

TENNIS, MICE, MAIN STREET

Some of the resort’s press and advertising efforts have been surprisingly inventive this year, like this — turning the top of Main Street into a full-size tennis court and inviting Gaël Monfils and Stanislas Wawrinka to play with Mickey Mouse.

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Just a few days later, Serena Williams visited the park and was met in front of the Castle by Minnie Mouse, wearing a special tennis player costume.

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— — —

JUST ‘PARIS’

Effectively the biggest change of the past few months, the news in April and subsequent official changeover in May that has seen ‘Disneyland Resort Paris’ — the resort’s name since the 2002 opening of Walt Disney Studios Park — change back to just plain ‘Disneyland Paris’.

It certainly makes sense — the extra word was always unpopular, confusing to non-English speakers and now, with every park from Alton Towers to your local fairground claiming itself as a “Resort”, it simply doesn’t have any value. “Disneyland Resort Paris” is cumbersome and never spoken, “Disneyland Paris” is short and very strong. Whilst things like the official website have changed over, don’t expect this to be an overnight transition — the new (or rather, old) logo will reappear just as and when things need replacing.

Unfortunately, this decision — made by new CEO Philippe Gas himself — came in April, just weeks after the resort had launched a whole new brand campaign for the theme year. These traditionally start in April, and everything from Cast Member name tags to park tickets and guidemaps had already been printed up with the full “Disneyland Resort Paris” name. Smart name reversal, silly timing.

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There’s also a whole myriad of logo variations now available (above). Which should be used, when? The standard logo is being presented as two-colour, with the “Paris” in a gold gradient that already looks rather dated.

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BURNING FIRES, FLOWING WATERS

Tasked with bringing back old and forgotten effects, a new “taskforce” within the resort’s maintenance department has been one of the most positive steps in recent months. We already appear to have seen some brilliant reawakened touches, such as the torches on Fort Comstock at the entrance to Frontierland (lit from nightfall)…

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And the water channels leading to the drinking fountains beside La Cabane des Robinson.

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Whilst a long way short of having the full irrigation system working again (water should be hoisted right up to the top of the tree by the water wheel, before being poured out and running through the channels back to ground level), it’s great to think someone took the time to figure this out.

Elsewhere, these moving fairground balloons inside Boardwalk Candy Palace have been back working again, for the first time in years.

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— — —

CAFE DE LA BROUSSE

Mostly sitting closed, Café de la Brousse has never the less just had a large-scale refurbishment completed, bringing colour back to the “bush café” buildings. Dole is presented heavily as the host, but still no one thinks of bringing the legendary Dole Whip to Paris!

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— — —

DISNEY VILLAGE NOW ‘COOL’

So. It took a Starbucks to make Disney Village “hip” again.

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Yes, it meant losing the wonderful Buffalo Trading Co. and inviting a quite equally despised/appreciated corporation into a Disney-branded area, but the coffeehouse itself was built using genuinely eco-friendly ideas and looks really quite trendy inside, with a wonderfully modern exterior — industrial elements clashing beautifully with earthy materials.

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ROSES PAINTED RED, FINALLY!

The on-off refurbishment of Alice’s Curious Labyrinth — with little areas regaining sparkle each month or so — has continued, the Paris-exclusive attraction even seeing… new paint! The red edgings of the entire labyrinth have finally been repainted, a year after similar edgings on the Fantasyland-Discoveryland path received paint before them, and scenes like the Caterpillar suddenly “pop” like they should again:

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ROBINSONS RETURN TO LA CABANE

Also brought back to life this Summer is La Cabane des Robinson, previously the only other “blackspot” alongside the Labyrinth. For too long the treehouse has been bleak and worn. Props missing, effects broken, no colour. It was as if the Robinsons had long ago moved on from their treetop abode. Not any more — refreshed woodwork, new props and a complete clean-up really make it “pop”. Effects like the self-playing organ are still missing.

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Even the water fountains were revisited and given an extra spruce-up:

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— — —

WOODCARVER’S WORKSHOP RE-OPENS

Not entirely the amazing news that might suggest, but nevertheless the long-abandoned Woodcarver’s Workshop over in Cottonwood Creek Ranch, next to what is now Woody’s Roundup, has finally been brought back into service — selling drinks and souvenir photos from the character meet ‘n’ greets inside.

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A long way from the actual woodcarvers who used to create personalised souvenirs here, but good to see it alive and well in some form, eh?

— — —

ENCHANTED FIREWORKS DAMPENED AGAIN

The Enchanted Fireworks have returned for their second year — dampened again in similar style to the later shows last year, when the nearby town of Chessy apparently banged on the wall and issued a loud “shhh”. Fans, and even apparently some regular guests, aren’t too impressed with the “new” show.

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— — —

ATTRACTION OPEN 12:00 – 12:05

The same limited opening schedule of attractions put in place last Summer has returned again this year, with visitors taking much more notice. Some say it’s fair enough that they have to close attractions early, since most people have headed to Main Street to watch Fantillusion, whilst others leave annoyed that the park’s advertised opening time of 10am to 11pm isn’t strictly true.

Most agree that the whole situation would be better if the limited openings schedule was at least published somewhere other than only at the attraction entrances themselves — on the tips board, in the Programme leaflet, for example.

— — —

GOOGLE EARTH 3D: WORTH THE WAIT

The much-publicised and subsequently much-delayed official 3D recreation of Disneyland Paris in Google Earth finally launched in mid-May and proved to be well worth the wait, offering a truly spectacular metre-by-metre recreation of every inch of the parks and resort. Visit www.disneylandparis.com/googleearth3d and lose a few hours.

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A few days later, Google Street View was also added for small stretches of each park:

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— — —

BROCHURE TESTS THE LIMITS

Have you seen the brochures and advertising for Walt Disney World? How grand and high-class it all looks. For Paris, however, the brochures in particular seem to be getting ever more garish and in-your-face with each publication. The latest, current brochure for Autumn/Winter 2009/10 features some truly frightening images of blurred children flying above the parks, with so much photoshopping and saturated colour you can barely see the resort they’re trying to advertise.

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The actual, printed version also comes with a bizarre claim on the cover of “First ever interactive brochure”. Beyond the cut-out on the cover (Mickey is actually on the page behind), the only evidence of this is a French (+33) mobile number you can text to get a video trailer of the new theme year. Several weeks later, nothing received here.

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VAT REDUCTION? VAT CHANCE

The French government has officially lowered the VAT rate for cafés and restaurants from 19.6% to just 5.5% in order to keep the industry afloat, and, while you’ll certainly find many notifications of this within the resort, you’ll be much harder pressed to actually find reductions.

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Whilst some things, especially the Half Board vouchers, have come down in price, most scenarios have just seen the prices stay the same and Disneyland Paris pocketing the difference in order to prop up the large drop in food and beverage sales this year — mostly on account of the prices being too high during a recession. Good thinking.

— — —

ICE CREAM ARRIVES ON-SET

Walt Disney Studios Park must have been the only theme park in the world without a proper ice cream location until the latest change in its food & beverages offering. The Franklin Department Store façade (similar to the exterior of Gone Hollywood at DCA, international fans) gave up its wonderful 1950s-themed period window to become a new kiosk serving actual, real Ben & Jerry’s by the scoop.

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

The lost window was more interesting than the one remaining, featuring a mannequin woman sitting with a 1950s travel magazine, retro television and monster/sci-fi movie poster. The Tower of Terror across the way has such a minimal build-up in Paris that small period-setting details like this really mattered — the Imagineers would have put an ice cream kiosk in there from the start otherwise.

Couldn’t such a vital theme park component as ice cream have commanded its own building somewhere? Rather than expanding, the park almost seems to be imploding, with under-sized kiosks popping up all over where real, full-size boutiques and restaurants should be. More than anything, one single serving window for this in such a prominent position is madness.

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BLOCKBUSTERS IN THE BACKLOT

Over in Backlot, the big news has been the complete gutting of Backlot Express, the “props warehouse” counter service restaurant, in favour of the more brand-friendly idea of themed rooms dedicated to the Pirates of the Caribbean and High School Musical franchises. The changeover began with the arrival of a plain Ford Focus outside the restaurant, plastered with “HSM3” stickers…

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The new logo has been completed on the outside…

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And as for the inside? Well, real props from these two trilogies have yet to appear, with the High School Musical area causing much fan hair-tearing already with its “themeing” of bland posters, banners and mini basketballs (taken from merchandise). The “East High” theme does sit well within the building, but this isn’t anything someone with a good printer could set up themselves. Are there not even any costumes from the film lying around over in Burbank?

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Beyond the “torn bedsheets” (as described by magicforum members) hanging from the ceiling, the ‘Pirates’ area has defied the odds and just presented the first real surprise of this project — the removal of the metal railings of the raised “garage” area to be replaced with pirate ship-styled wooden banisters and a full ship’s wheel.

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TELEVISION STUDIOS GOES ’50s

…Or is that wishful thinking? With a long-overdue repaint of the Walt Disney Television Studios building (home to Playhouse and Stitch Live) finally beginning back in April and only just making real progress, have the maintenance teams really taken a step back and reconsidered the building, rather than just bursting ahead with the same ugly yellows the original designers chose in 2002?

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Yes, it seems so! The architecture was already within the period, but the colours didn’t quite fit. Now, a deep red has replaced the turquoise on the “fins” atop the building, with the yellow turning a much more earthy, peachy shade, in whole much closer to a 1950s Hollywood look and more pleasing next to the subdued tones of the Hollywood Tower Hotel just opposite.

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ANIMAGIQUE KIOSK MARK II

The bland merchandise kiosk which appeared outside Animagique in 2007 now has a partner. Filling in dead space on the right of the same TV Studios building, this little location opened just this week, using the new colour scheme and dressed up in a pleasingly similar style of fins and neons.

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Photo: Sean Hamilton

In any other Disney park, such a location would be given a name or some kind of personality (think Crossroads of the World at Disney’s Hollywood Studios). It offers the usual generic collection of character merchandise.

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ROCKEFELLER PLAZA REBORN

Could this be the start of a new era for the environs of Disney’s Hotel New York? The Rockefeller Plaza building, a dull games arcade for far too long, has finally reopened as a lovely café refreshments location for the Summer.

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MICKEY SWINGS INTO — AND ONTO — BUFFALO BILL’S

It was the controversy of the year — nay, the decade — and now it looks like Mickey Mouse has made home. The not-so-great poster previously stuck on the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show entrance has just been replaced by a large model of Mickey Mouse abseiling down over the building.

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Whilst it looks much smarter now, it has fans worried that the mouse may well be there to stay. On the subject of the show itself, the current Summer park programme leaflets are now advertising Adult tickets for the price of Child tickets. In high season? Maybe adding a mouse wasn’t the best way to sell the scale of this truly epic dinner show.

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FASTPASS FOR MONEY

This one must be the second-biggest controversy of the year, then. In itself not a huge thing by any means, this could however be the first step of a huge shift in how Fastpass works. From 18th July to 4th August, guests staying at Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Hotel New York and, it seems, Disney’s Newport Bay Club, can buy a special “Premium FASTPASS” for €80 per person per day.

The ticket is effectively a VIP FASTPASS, the unlimited-access ticket previously given only to guests in Club rooms and Suites, allowing you to use the FASTPASS queues for attractions as and when you want, as many times as you want to.

— — —

STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES

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GOOFY’S SUMMER CAMP

Somewhere you won’t find Mickey this year is the new show at The Chaparral Theater in Frontierland. Yes, since we last updated the topic, The Tarzan Encounter was cancelled again — for good.

This new show is somewhat like the Summer cousin to the brilliant Mickey’s Winter Wonderland, only scuppered by a desperation for audience interaction, with too few scenes between. However, with a live country band as the big “plus” to replace the Winter ice rink, a great stage and some nice musical numbers, it’s winning more fans than certain other shows this year, and much more fitting for its location than Tarzan ever was.

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MAIN STREET COMES ALIVE WITH MARCHING BAND

Last seen making brief appearances last Summer on the old Central Plaza Stage, the brass band has returned! Now performing a brilliant set of Disney music (even including Hans Zimmer’s Pirates score!) on Town Square, this is the kind of classic Disneyland entertainment we rarely see in Paris, so enjoy! The only problem — no one, not the makers of the park programme, nor the Cast Members inside City Hall, appear to have been given their performance schedule.

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CARL’S HOUSE FLIES OVER FRANCE

The real-life version of the balloon-lifted house from Pixar’s next — and 10th — major hit, “Up”, travelled over to France recently and, amongst appearing in some truly spectacular hot air balloon festivals, paid a visit to Disneyland Paris early one morning.

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AND FINALLY…

Who’d have known — the Sleeping Beauty fountain inside the Castle gallery was actually meant to trickle down into the waterfall below, beside the staircase, as one, complete water system! Now, after truly years of being turned off and ignored, it’s fixed and running. The “crystal” at the bottom of the falls glows, too!

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Photo: pussinboots

Wonderful. Utmost appreciation to whoever made this happen.

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So there you go, DLRP Today returns!

With thanks to www.photosmagiques.com!

Wednesday, 4th February 2009

Buffalo Trading Co. blacked out

We said the shop, very popular amongst fans, would be heading toward a typical Western sunset when its closing date was officially announced, but here’s the part you never see after those end credits roll… the blackout.

Stroll through Disney Village today and you’ll still see the oversized Western accessories hanging atop its large wooden entrance construction, but there’s no life inside — the windows covered over in black and given the standard “This area is being refurbished for your future enjoyment” notices…

Buffalo Trading Co. closed Buffalo Trading Co. closed

The ripping-out of the old Buffalo Trading Co. interior should now be well underway, ready for the fitting-out of that brand new Starbucks Coffeehouse rumoured to be opening.

Yes — still “rumoured”! Neither Starbucks nor Euro Disney SCA has announced anything about a new opening in Disney Village, though there is really no doubt.

Meanwhile, the three stores of Thunder Mesa Mercantile Building in Frontierland and the General Store of Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne will be our remaining frontier for Western goods.

Look out for a special photo tour and history of the old boutique when our Remember…? resort history column finally returns later this week!

Photos from the latest Photos Magiques trip report, here.

Sunday, 6th July 2008

Bye bye Buffalo Trading Co.?

When we first reported two rumours of new dining establishments opening up at Disney Village, it seemed certain that a Starbucks coffeehouse would be one of them. The reliable insiders could even pinpoint a location: near Rainforest Cafe.

That initial thought wasn’t too far from what now looks to be the reality, but there’s one important difference: the addition of a Starbucks could now be a replacement for an existing location, rather than a new build replacing that out-of-place rainforest carousel.

The unlucky trader? Buffalo Trading Company, that exceptionally well-themed little store joining onto Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Popular amongst fans, even more so amongst Western aficionados, it is one of the few venues in Disney Village left mostly untouched since 1992. Whilst almost every other boutique had has themeing removed or priorities shifted, Buffalo Trading Co. has stayed on the straight and narrow.

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Photo: william_tropico, Flickr.

The news that Starbucks Coffee will replace the store was shared by member Kinoo on magicforum. Can it be taken as concrete? Well, let’s say the concrete has indeed been poured but is yet to dry — the way things change at Disneyland Resort Paris, nothing can be guaranteed until you actually see it.

Introducing a Starbucks Coffeehouse to Disney Village, however, now seems more certain than ever. Another member on magicforum, penfold12, shared the information from a recent article which stated that whilst Starbucks continue to have worldwide success, they were having a hard time getting a foothold on France and were looking for new locations to improve awareness and acceptance of their brand.

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New locations? Awareness and acceptance of their brand? Disney Village seems to fit their requirements perfectly, and equally Starbucks to Disney Village. The nearest competitor would be New York Style Sandwiches, which focuses — as you’d expect — on the sandwiches and not on its regular Nescafé instant variety of hot drinks. Amongst the dining and drinking locations at Disney Village, there are few with this kind of informal, relaxed café style.

To replace the most popular boutique amongst fans will be a hard pill to swallow for many, though. Inside, Buffalo Trading Co. has sunset dioramas, western storefronts and even a giant window looking into the pre-show area of the Wild West Show, for which it serves as a merchandise store. Against the watered-down offerings of the other stores, replacing this shop will lower the benchmark for boutiques significantly when — or if — Euro Disney SCA decide to expand the Village for real.

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It would be accurate, however, to guess that Buffalo Trading Company is one of the least profitable stores in Disney Village, taking on quite a niche area of souvenirs — not least one that is already well-served by the stores of Frontierland and Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne. Undoubtedly the ideal size for a coffeehouse, the only problem with this unit could be the lack of space to join the craze for outside terraces.

As for the second rumour of a new sandwich shop in Disney Village, all remains quiet…

[Photo credits: Flickr, Starbucks, Photos Magiques]

Tuesday, 18th March 2008

Rumours abound for new Village eateries

Whilst the look and style of Disney Village has been evolving through a series of enhancement projects in recent years (the latest being the new planters), one thing has remained pretty much stagnant since the opening of King Ludwig’s Castle in 2003 — the choice and availability of dining.

However, amongst all the renewed interest in the Village thanks to the latest enhancements, strong rumours now suggest two small new food locations will almost certainly open within the next year. Information from several members on the French message board Disney Central Plaza suggests that these will be two new, separate buildings — not small stands or kiosks, nor large buildings for the new street next to the IMAX cinema. Instead, they will be slotted into the existing Disney Village area to increase the district’s range of food and capacity.

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The current area and carousel, very much unloved by fans

So, which two companies could be involved in these new eateries? Whilst the insiders originally held the information close, it has now emerged that none other than Starbucks could be involved, with rumours even strong enough to suggest that the new location would be behind Rainforest Café, on the site of the current “rainforest carousel” (pictured above).

This would provide enough space for a kitchen and serving area with some, rather limited, seating. It would also make this Starbucks visible from all around the Lake Disney area, perhaps one of the most lucrative locations they’ve ever won in their ongoing world domination.

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Example Starbucks franchise

It is expected the design would be overseen by DLP-I, the Paris branch of Imagineering who work on Disney Village projects and most recently completed the PanoraMagique and IMAX developments with a noticeably more discreet and Parisian style than other areas of the Village. With Starbucks‘ branding being much subtler than other chains, the two could fit together well for a welcome lake-side coffee shop.

But what for that second new eatery? The admin of Disney Central Plaza, Grandmath, promised that at least one of the two was already operating at Walt Disney World. Since there are no Starbucks franchises on Disney’s Florida property, the second location must surely be the Orlando import.

Indeed, current rumours, again very strong and from reliable sources, point to an Earl of Sandwich opening at Disney Village. Think of this as a more exclusive, slightly upmarket version of high street-favourite Subway. No location for the second building has been rumoured, and no tentative dates for construction of either have yet been given.

With the new planters, a sandwich shop and a coffee shop, Disney Village could well morph from its metallic, hung-over past to a pleasant, leafy place to spend a lazy afternoon. We’ll have a Strawberries & Cream Frappuccino and a Tuna Melt, please.

Yes, we can wait.

[Photos: DLRP Today and dontthink.feel on Flickr]

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