Thursday, 10th April 2008

The Celebration Continues… Big Time!

A fifteenth that will last until the seventeenth? Only in Disneyland! With the celebration now continuing as we speak and our full coverage on the way, it seems a good time to recap the story behind the extended anniversary, the reasons for extending it and the advertising they’re using to promote it.

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First ‘Celebration Continues’ visuals / Second ‘Celebration Continues’ visuals

We first received confirmation that the celebrations would be continuing at the start of October 2007, with the end date extended right through to March 2009. The original draws for the 15th Anniversary would all return, of course. That means Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, Candleabration and Disney Characters’ Express, along with all the decorations and the two new attractions at Walt Disney Studios Park, Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye. The only ‘original’ event not to return this Spring is Alpha Bet You Are.

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Third wave ‘Celebration Continues’ visuals – the new “red carpet” poster

Fourteen and a half million guests, a record for the resort, and overwhelming response from those guests ensured the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Resort Paris wouldn’t be a short-lived affair. Indeed, to end the celebrations just as Walt Disney Studios Park completed its remarkable transformation would seem like an odd thing to do. And so, what was truly the ‘biggest Disney party ever’ has become even bigger in 2008.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has finally arrived after six years, Hollywood Boulevard brings rich Imagineering detail, Stitch Live! presents a whole new interactive experience and the second High School Musical show ensures Summer time is all the time. The alternative pitch for 2008, a Year of Mickey Mouse, the celebrate the maestro’s 80th birthday, wouldn’t have made it so easy to include these new attractions in the promotions.

We saw the first trailer for The Celebration Continues just days after hearing the news of the extension. Set to the song “Oh Happy Day”, it was met with a mixed response, with fans much less enthusiastic than the original 15th Anniversary teaser trailers. Luckily, the actual television advertising campaign that followed in February 2008 was every bit as good as the first, showing children running through Main Street and pulling wrapping paper from the buildings, from the Castle and from the new 2008 attractions.

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Original brochure for ‘The Celebration Continues’ – branding has evolved a little since

Tying together the entire 15th Anniversary year, through advertisements, events and more, was the ongoing theme of a “red carpet” leading to Disneyland, along with the candles that would become the stars of Candleabration and the Sleeping Beauty Castle overlay. For ‘The Celebration Continues… Big Time!’, the red carpet is replaced by wrapping paper, presents and more traditional birthday themes, as first seen on the Spring/Summer 2008 brochure, several pages from which are featured above.

Since then, the colour scheme is now being taken into overdrive with the classical blues, reds and golds becoming multi-coloured greens, turquoise, yellow and pink, as seen in the new Paris tourist leaflet below.

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New Paris tourist trade brochure introduces the parks equally.

Disneyland Resort Paris seems keen for The Celebration Continues… Big Time! to be seen as a separate event to the ’15th Anniversary Celebration’ that preceded it. With such important new attractions added to the offerings, you can see why. And, as our special launch weekend series begins, you’ll be able to discover every second of the magic here on DLRP Today

Wednesday, 2nd April 2008

Stitch broadcasts new key visual

One of the first ever posts on DLRP Today exclusively revealed the full set of key visuals for the 15th Anniversary. Today, we bring you what will likely be the last visual to be used as part of the two-year event — for Stitch Live!’.

Key visuals are used by Disneyland Resort Paris for all promotions and publications related to the specific attraction — flyers, brochures, etc. — and are also broadcast for use in media coverage. Preparing for its inauguration this weekend, Stitch Live! has revealed its own addition to the back-catalogue Disneyland Resort Paris visuals:

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In primarily blue colours and using the actual computer-generated animation screen from the show, the visual features two children connecting to Stitch with a “spark” between their fingers.

Meanwhile, the attraction is lucky enough to already have its own attraction page at the official website. Featuring photos from outside the Paris attraction and inside the Hong Kong version, the page actually reveals something we’ve been noticeably missing from this project up until now — the concept art:

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In a similar style to other recent Walt Disney Imagineering concepts, this depicts the show room with its redesigned surround for the Paris version.

Also on the official website, you can see a larger version of the attraction’s official logo and, on the main page for Production Courtyard (yes, they’re still persisting with that name for now…), you can even find a small snippet of the actual concept/design piece for the sign which sits above the entrance.

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Unlike most other “living character” experiences at other Disney resorts around the world, ‘Stitch Live!’ continues to be broadcast as an attraction in its own right. And, judging by the crowds which gathered outside this past weekend, a very popular one at that.

[Images copyright Disney]

Thursday, 27th March 2008

‘Stitch Live!’ opens to Hawaiian fanfare

The attraction we first heard about as an unexpected rumour in October 2006, then followed through months of construction without so much as a crane or piece of scaffolding, finally opened to the public this Saturday just passed. This follows three weeks of public tests and rehearsals, reports and photos from which you can see in our various earlier reports.

For its opening day, the skies above Stitch Live! were suitably grey enough to encourage guests to enjoy the warm indoors of the Disney Channel studios. As is the norm for a new attraction opening, a special ceremony at 10am sharp starred the two resort ambassadors, this time with Stitch himself (the furry character version) to cut the ribbon alongside the privileged “first family”, who would be first to officially enter the finished attraction.

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The queues — and pushchairs — built throughout the day as children could, for the first time, discover something at the Studios just perfect for them outside of Toon Studio. And whilst those queues built, the clever new electronic signs kept track of every person…

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The signs don’t simply display the upcoming showtimes as expected — the first displays the exact number of minutes until the next show is due to begin (or at least until the guests are moved into the pre-show area), whilst the second displays the number of seats available.

This kind of information is already displayed on the Cast Member consoles outside other show-based attractions at the Studios such as CinéMagique and Art of Disney Animation, but is now presented to the guests for the first time, helping them to judge whether they need to join the queue just yet.

A bigger unexpected surprise on opening day was seen over in Disneyland Park (and possibly at Walt Disney Studios, though no reports confirm this) — a special Hawaiian fanfare preceding the day’s performance of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade!

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Such an initiative or celebration for a public opening was never even considered for the launch of, say, Tower of Terror or Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, so it’s good to see that, by the Studios’ fourth new attraction opening, the resort has given its guests a good show for the opening day.

The real events, however, will be saved for the important upcoming press weekend on 5th and 6th April, which will mark the official inaugurations of not only The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Stitch Live! but the entire Celebration Continues… Big Time! year.

Whilst the big nighttime events and unique fireworks at Walt Disney Studios Park will not be open to the public (who have paid for their entry to the park), we have heard that those ‘regular’, paying guests who visit on the 5th April may at least sight of Stitch’s live broadcast “interfering” with video screens at several of the park’s original attractions, such as Art of Disney Animation and Moteurs… Action!, or even the Disney Hotels’ resort TV channel…!

Click here if you missed our exclusive interview with Imagineer Laurent Cayuela, all about the creation of Stitch Live! 

[Photos: Lynxmag?c for DLRP Time blog; Photos Magiques reporter]

Tuesday, 11th March 2008

‘Stitch Live!’ previews for AP holders – and Mr. Holz

The new, golden satellite dish atop Walt Disney Television Studios has been buzzing throughout this past weekend, relaying wisecracks and games from Stitch’s space ship to the lucky guests down on Earth, experiencing ‘Stitch Live!’ for the first time thanks to the previously announced Annual Passport Dream previews.

Our partner site Photos Magiques was there to capture a quick photo tour through the revamped Disney Channel studios:

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Outside, the noticeboard installed a few weeks ago featured a Studio-styled notice proclaiming “Stitch Live! — Opening Soon”, with the attraction’s logo. This will, in future, be taken out to reveal a show times listing — that during the earlier tests with the public (see end of article) was a simple printed poster, not electronic.

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During the AP Dream previews, the resort’s well-known “stay away from here” plants were out in force to guard the entrance from non-Annual Passport guests, with a notice explaining the previews.

AP Dream holders were required only to show their pass to gain entry into either the English or French queues, either side of the theatre-style booth. Reports posted on the French DisneyMagicInteractive forum reveal that this control booth appears to feature a third button alongside English and French — for Spanish. So, if the number of Spanish guests at the resort continues to grow rapidly, a third language can apparently be easily added.

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Once through the outdoo, covered queue line, your group waits in the old pre-show area of the former Television Production Tour. Where once a 9-panel videowall introduced the unforgettable host Julie and the universe of the Disney Channel, now a simple poster with Disney Channel branding against a space-themed background sits. The area is perhaps even less inspiring than previously.

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In fact, and you could argue “as expected”, the pre-show as a whole is the only disappointment with the attraction. Finally stepping inside the studio building from the outside area, however, the revamped space is certainly impressive. This used to be a curved walkway following the windows on the right, then leading into a separate room to the left. Now, the entire space has been opened up into one pre-show area — although some space on the left has been taken from the second room, possibly for Stitch’s backstage areas.

The art deco style has been kept throughout, matching the exterior of the building. The lighting is subtle and atmospheric, enhancing the “outer space” theme with glowing blues contrasting against the red of the “On Air” signs. The windows through to the Disney Channel production galleries on the right have been covered completely with space imagery, lit by glowing blue light from above. Four large plasma screens are housed within a giant, glowing blue oval to the left, on the wall of the theatre. The black of the oval is, if you look closely, decorated with a starry sky mural.

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It’s these plasma screens which have inspired almost all of the negative points about the attraction so far, simply playing excerpts from the Disney Channel programmes Hannah Montana, High School Musical 2 and Phineas and Ferb, amounting to nothing more than a thoughtless promotion à la the cringe-worthy Kodak adverts at Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.

So, are the senior figures at Disneyland Resort Paris concerned with how such a relatively small attraction is being received? Definitely! The advertising for the attraction (both around the resort and in the latest TV commercial) was surprising enough, but guests at the very first public showing could also spot none other than Karl Holz — Chairman and CEO of the resort — checking out the first introduction of Walt Disney Imagineering’s “Living Character” idea to Paris. Mr. Holz appears much easier to spot around the parks than many other Disney presidents and managers around the world, appearing here at the tests on the first weekend in March, which allowed all or any park guests to try the attraction and prepare Stitch for the more critical annual passholders the following weekend.

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We’ve shared a fair few reactions and reviews already, from Cast Members, but what is the show actually like? Well, photography inside the small video theatre is technically forbidden, but we can reach a compromise with the slightly blurred photo from Mousy.be above, taken only as guests were leaving. Or, if you’re desperate for a closer look, try this photo posted by Jim Hill guest writer Eric Craven.

You enter the room through automatic doors from the pre-show room, underneath the “On Air” lights. Around two thirds of the former studio soundstage has been completely refitted to become the theatre, with space at the front for children to sit on the floor, followed by several rows of flat benches and then several more rows of slightly raised benches with back rests. It is obvious that the huge full space of the former ‘Art Attack’ stage has not been used, this room appearing to sit almost as a “studio-within-a-studio”, the seating facing to your right as you enter, away from the attraction’s entrance.

The decoration around the giant video screen is noticeably different to that at the Hong Kong Disneyland original, a shiny metallic finish dotted with colourful, illuminated rectangles and circles for a more of a “TV” look. The design is certainly more childish and colourful than the more serious, Tomorrowland command centre-style decoration in Hong Kong. The colourful panels either side of the screen — along with the other lighting throughout the room — change colour depending on the action on screen, flashing red at times of emergency for Stitch, for example.

Guests sit in a semi-circle on benches, with children invited to sit on the floor at the front of the theatre. A live Cast Member introduces the show and explains that there is going to be a special link-up between the Disney Channel’s satellites and Stitch’s space craft. The presenter acts as a host during the show itself, passing questions between Stitch and the audience with a microphone and helping the interaction. And what of that all-important interaction? Reports across the many fan websites and forums so far include games such as shouting directions for Stitch to move safely through space, helping the alien to restore gravity on the ship and even — for one of the children — having your photo taken and shown on screen just seconds later, to become Stitch’s “co-pilot”.

The former Disney Channel CyberSpace post-show area, which previously featured various interactive arcade-style games based on Disney Channel shows, along with the CyberSpace Mountain simulator in earlier years, is currently sitting completely empty. Guests exit Stitch Live! into the daylight through doors at the back of the theatre, where the entrance/exit of the Art Attack stage was located.

All in all, the attraction is looking like a major hit amongst children and their parents, and for others not at all a bad way — rather, quite a fun way — to spend an extra 25 minutes in the Studios. Reports from those who have tried the original at Hong Kong (which was built into a small space in the Space Mountain structure) suggest it is a distinct improvement, with a better design style, larger theatre and the addition of an actual pre-show room (despite the uninspiring video shown).

Clearly a much, much cheaper addition than the likes of Tower of Terror, ‘Stitch Live!’ should in fact add a great deal of excitement to the park for those not interested in trying that very same attraction, providing a good balance between these two new attractions for 2008. From its opening in 2002 with, bizarrely, only one attraction children would fight to experience — Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, the Studios is finally managing to captivate its younger guests.

Indeed, ‘Stitch Live!’ seems to prove that sometimes the simplest of ideas, with the smallest of budgets, can add so much value to a park — particularly for the littler dreamers amongst us.

Stitch Live! is now available for your ratings and reviews on our partner website DLRP Review. Read more reactions to the new attraction here and — if you’ve been lucky enough to try it — share your own! Click here.

[Photos by Photos Magiques (more) and Mousy.be, headline image by Eric Craven, JimHillMedia]

Sunday, 2nd March 2008

Cast enjoy Stitch previews; Annual Passport dates announced

Sent out across Europe last week were some snazzy blue invitations for exclusive Annual Passport Dream previews at the new Walt Disney Studios Park attraction, allowing some of the resort’s biggest fans a chance to join in and interact with an animated Stitch with little queue on the weekends before he officially goes live.

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Scans by Titash, Disney Central Plaza forum.

Featuring Stitch ripping aside some of the resort’s new trademark wrapping paper, decorated with Hawaiian flowers, the invitations announce “You are invited for a chaotic (Chaos-Stitch) live encounter”, with the attraction’s logo and more details on the reverse. This is the third time in the space of one year such an invitation has been sent out.

The scheduled times are:

Saturday 8th March — 13:45 to 18:45
Sunday 9th March — 13:45 to 18:45

Saturday 15th March — 13:45 to 18:45
Sunday 16th March — 13:45 to 18:45

Holders of the ‘Dream’ Passeport Annuel need only show up at the attraction with their pass to gain entry. One friend is allowed to join you, provided they’ve got a valid ticket to enter the park.

So, what can you expect from ‘Stitch Live’? Let’s a take a look at the some of the first reviews already appearing online from Cast Members who have attended the first unofficial previews — “unofficial” because their full previews are not due to begin until next week. These are taken mostly from Disney Central Plaza forum, translated from French.

Fabricologie takes us through the new attraction:

“Little has changed with the decoration compared with previous visits to the Disney Channel studios. Past the double-back queue, you find yourself in the first waiting area behind the walls of blue glass bricks. Then, the doors open and you enter the pre-show room. After a short speech from your host, you see a promotional video for Disney Channel (Hannah Montana, High School Musical 2, Kim Possible). Around 10 minutes of waiting like that before entering the studio itself.

“Children are invited to sit themselves on the floor at the front, along a carpet with a pattern of ocean waves, whilst the adults sit on metal benches in a circular arc. Stitch appears on the screen, and children watch it as if watching a DVD until the moment when he picks on someone sitting in the room and begins to interact with them — it’s very funny! Everyone can take. The sense of direction in the actor is essential in this attraction.

“It is a little too short to allow everyone to take part, of course, but there is the screen to watch. I spoke to Stitch myself and can see that it’s great fun.”

Kinoo highlights that these specific previews are designed to help the show “settle in” and improve, as he says:

“Obviously, you shouldn’t expect the same kind of effect as [the opening of] Tower of Terror. Stitch is good enough for me, to be honest I expected worse. The 3D of Stitch is in “cell shading” which remains faithful to the original 2D character. The show changes a lot depending on the actor who is “working with Stitch”, English definitely being better for the moment.

“The general story of the show is rather basic and interactivity with Stitch could be improved and extended, but in it’s current state I think children will just go crazy for it. I can’t wait to see the reaction of their parents.”

Dlrpmaniablog commented:

“I was also there with the first of the first and, well, it’s great. The English version I saw was very easy to understand! The games of light are fun and besides — for the premiere, it was quickly explained that an Imagineer who worked on the attraction was present and looking forward to seeing our reactions. Well… mission complete! Despite some childish jokes, it remained very engaging. In short, everyone was happy!

“Except… the pre-show, which spoke about everything on Disney Channel was a little grating/dull. OK, so we’re in their studio, but it could have been done a bit differently. Finally, the animation lacked a little fluidity from time to time. They noted the concern at the end and said it will hopefully be improved.”

Grandmath summarised:

“The initial reactions are excellent for the French shows. For the English, which attracts the English-speaking as well as Dutch, Spanish, etc. it is more difficult because not everyone will entirely understand Stitch when he speaks. That was the risk…

“Personally, I really like the show. I think I prefer Turtle Talk with Crush, but of course I will wait and see in the long run (however, I would not wait more than 20 minutes for it). The animation is really beautiful and the voice very well done, but there are some long periods without interaction where it becomes a little like a DVD and risks becoming boring in the future. But, I’ll wait and see — with plenty of guests, and when the actors are comfortable in their roles, it should become far more engaging!

“It’s nevertheless a wonderful technical achievement which finally makes it possible for children to interact in a realistic way — not with a giant plush toy, but the real character from the animated film.

“You can only find that at Disney!”

Thursday, 28th February 2008

Lights on, theatre ready at Television Studios

At our last update on progress at Stitch Live!, the letters of the giant logo marquee had just been completed. Since then, work has slowly progressed with little commotion — as expected, the introduction of Stitch to Walt Disney Television Studios is modest from the outside.

Mid-December saw the removal of blue construction fences around the area, revealing a new brushed metal theatre ticket booth sitting neatly beneath the logo. This also revealed the two separate queue areas — one to the right, using the railings of the old Television Production Tour, and a new line to the right, under the previously unused canopy.

Each has its own turnstile and disabled gate, and will be dedicated to either the next English or French performance (since the show will be presented in two separate languages), in a similar queuing style to the two waiting areas at Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing.

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In early February, work began on the area where a tree was removed (partly to make sure the logo was in guests’ line-of-sight as they walked through the courtyard) and the signage was illuminated for the first time.

The lighting is evenly spread inside the sign, similar to Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. A noticeable improvement here, however, is that the white stars on their black oval background will light up at night along with the rest of the logo.

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Over the past week, work on the entrance area of the new “living character” experience has brought it to being almost fully complete. Two very important additions have arrived — a grey noticeboard for show information and times, and the two pairs of electronic dot-matrix displays to sit above each entrance, in the metal frames added several months ago.

The noticeboard is noticeably more simplistic than that shown in the concept art, which had four sides and neon light decorations. Instead, it’s a simple art deco sign surrounded by new concrete on the exact circle where the tree was removed, decorated with the green Disney Channel logo, since Disney Channel will in effect be the “sponsor” of the show. The inside is currently empty, with nothing to suggest whether it will hold a printed notices or an electronic board like the similar sign outside Animagique.

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The dot-matrix displays are yellow on black, with the pair on the left tellingly featuring the default message “Welcome to Stitch Live!” whilst those on the right read “Bienvenue à Stitch Live !”, suggesting the two different language queues will be arranged accordingly.

Inside, the theatre and transformation of the pre-show area has been complete for some time already, as Stitch’s new voice artists practice their lines, jokes and witty answers to all the possible guest questions…

— With thanks to Photos Magiques and WDSfans. See more of their latest news photos here.

Thursday, 28th February 2008

Stitch promos go ‘Live!’ across resort

Extra Magic Hours, half board vouchers, more Disney characters… Just a few of the positive changes we’ve seen at Disneyland Resort Paris in recent years. Another, without doubt — better advertising, and not just in “our” world — inside the resort, too. Since June last year, new and future attractions have been promoted on giant billboards next to the resort hub, plus posters and banners along the moving walkway to the main car park, just as new attractions and entertainments have been for years along the parking lot tram route at Disneyland in California, and other resorts.

For new guests, these have provided the vital information that the new attractions are all located in the second gate, whilst on the “return journey”, they promise of things still to come — such as the latest addition, ‘Stitch Live!’.

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These new banners replaced those for Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye on 20th January 2008 as, for the fourth time in the space of 12 months, we see the words “Nouvelle Attraction” next to the Walt Disney Studios Park logo.

The advertisements take on a colour scheme of mainly reds and blues, with the same ‘Stitch Live!’ logo as the new attraction marquee overlapping from the banner in the same style as elements of the earlier Crush and Cars advertisements.

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In the car park (or “parking lot”) itself, new posters have also now been installed in the display cases, a rare event for a new attraction until recent months.

These give a closer look at the new image of Stitch being used to explain the concept of the show, which is entirely new to Europe and may prove a little difficult to explain, even once the show has opened — is it a live show with characters? A meet ‘n’ greet?

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Whilst from a distance it appears like Stitch is resting on some kind of alien landscape, a starry blue sky expanding above him, the “landscape” is actually made up entirely of human hands, carrying the little blue alien across the audience of the “living character” attraction.

Hard to do that with CGI on a giant screen, admittedly, but hopefully those hands will at least be used for great applause once Stitch makes his debut on 22nd March!

— With thanks to the 15th Anniversary Blog and WDSfans.com for the photos!

Monday, 25th February 2008

The Celebration Continues… with spectacular TV ad

The original commercials for the 15th Anniversary Celebration saw a red carpet flying through neighbourhoods to bring children to Disneyland, passing by the new attractions and new parade along the way. As already seen in various promotional materials, the advertising campaign for “The Celebration Continues” year moves to wrapping paper and classic party decorations, with a brand new commercial produced especially for the event.

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Reaching the end of the red carpet, Mickey Mouse stands again with the two children, looking along a Main Street, U.S.A. wrapped entirely in colourful wrapping paper and ribbons, Sleeping Beauty Castle wrapped in pink with a bow forming a “hidden mickey” above the “15″ emblem.

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As Mickey Mouse stretches out a ribbon with a little pixie dust, children and characters run into Main Street, pulling giant ribbons and robes to unwrap all the buildings along the street.

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We cut to a view from the castle for a spectacular shot of the children “unwrapping Main Street” as fireworks shoot into the sky. Finally, the pink wrapping and ribbons fly off Sleeping Beauty Castle, revealing its 15th Anniversary overlay.

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Stepping through the Castle to a courtyard filled with characters old and new and Princesses atop a parade float, the two children set in motion the unwrapping of the most important presents of all — The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, in deep purple paper against a stormy sky, and Stitch Live! in green paper, which sees growls exchanged between Stitch to the younger boy.

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We’re reminded of the ongoing Kids Under 7 Stay & Play FREE offer before the camera zooms out of a final scene to reveal the Disney VIPs and Pixar characters dancing under the illuminated “Candleabration” castle, a beautiful twilight sky glowing above them.

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The Pixar characters, such as Sulley, Mr. Incredible and Buzz Lightyear, feature heavily throughout — Paris’ very own Rémy can even be spotted hiding in the final shot.

The commercial launched on major UK television networks today, and should make its way, in translated form, to other countries very soon.

Bearing similarities in style to both the previous red carpet commercials and the current “Year of a Million Dreams” advertisements for Walt Disney World which play in the UK and US, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise to hear that they were all produced by the same people — over at Walt Disney World in Florida! This will perhaps explain the use of Florida’s Tower of Terror and a Princess parade float from across the Atlantic, rather than those in Paris.

Well, what a great little present from the creative teams of Walt Disney World! We’re getting out some DLRP Today stationary to write a thank you letter already…

Tuesday, 4th December 2007

Letters complete retro look for ‘Stitch Live!’

From having one incredibly weak attraction dedicated to the television side of Disney entertainment, Walt Disney Studios Park will very soon have two incredibly strong attractions based around the medium, both with their own retro style.

Whilst the Tower of Terror sees guests entering Hollywood in the 1950s to film an episode of The Twilight Zone in an abandoned 1930s hotel — an episode which will never make it to air, ‘Stitch Live!‘ across the courtyard appears to be taking on a far more kitschy, geometric style than the boulevard. The kind of style which took over in the late 1950s and 1960s, that the original Disneyland was very much a part of.

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The letters spelling out “Stitch Live!” arrived this past weekend, ‘Stitch’ in red with a blue outline and “Live!” simply in bold blue, caught on camera here by the Characters Photos Blog as the alien himself passed by. Whilst ‘Stitch’ uses the typeface familiar from the film, as guessed from the white outline seen earlier, the typeface for “Live!” surprises with a continuation of the kitsch red/black surround, rather than the modern and almost Diet Coke-esque style seen in the promotional logo.

Disney-MGM Studios’ 50s Prime Time Café and Sci-Fi Dine In Theater could be seen as close Imagineering relations of this new creation for Walt Disney Studios Park. What remains to be seen here, however, is whether the retro styles will be continued inside the attraction — this would be the perfect place for an homage to Walt Disney’s overlooked work in television during the era, after all. Unfortunately, the modern Disney Channel logo on the signage would point to the flogging of Hannah Montana than the celebrating of television history.

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Disneytheque.com provides photos capturing the entire complex, including its recent satellite dish addition. Another add-on has also now appeared under the signage itself — thin, horizontal metal casing, with best guesses pointing to this being an illuminated show times display.

However, Disneytheque also guesses that the removal of a tree in front of the attraction could point to a stand-alone show times board, as depicted in the original concept art.

— Photos by Characters Photos Blog and Disneytheque.com

Thursday, 29th November 2007

Back to the ’50s for new Stitch Live! entrance

First a new satellite dish atop its mast and later the removal of the old, circular Disney Channel sign — changes to the exterior of Walt Disney Television Studios are coming surprisingly early for the March 2008 opening of Stitch Live.

Today, the most major change began to take place — the installation of a brand new entrance sign for the interactive CGI show. Not exactly a small or discreet piece of signage either, as the previous design, but a loud and colourful cartoon burst with an illustrated Stitch waving from his space station, remarkably similar to the design seen in the original concept art.

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Studios’ fourth new attraction sign in one year! — Guigui, DCP

It may certainly be that, upon first look, the sign is a complete surprise. Neither refined like Art of Disney Animation nor glitzy and traditional as CinéMagique, closer inspection actually reveals the Imagineers have taken more than a few hints from the kitsch, happy, consumerist styles of the 1950s.

The red burst has a ’roundness’ as if right out of a cheap ’50s cartoon show, the illustration of Stitch rounded and colour shaded like the most classic advertisements of the time, and the black oval with small white stars inspired by many a ’50s neon diner sign.

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Classic 1950s advertisements — Plan59.com

The only detail which breaks the surprisingly specific timestamp of the sign is the addition of a small, modern Disney Channel logo in the bottom-left of the Stitch illustration, as planned from the first concept. Clearly, the Disney Channel still wants to keep its branding here — and, with any luck, they’ll continue to use that same logo for a long time to come.

The lettering has yet to be installed, but from the white outline it’s clear to see that ‘Stitch’ will use the same font as the original logo of ‘Lilo & Stitch’, whilst ‘Live’ is a much bolder, blockier style — perhaps similar to the bold text of an “On Air” light? Note also the addition of an exclamation mark, missing in resort publications, but now making the official in-park title “Stitch Live!”.

The 1940s/50s style might be familiar to fans, either from the Coca-Cola advertisements near Café des Cascadeurs or larger details such as the “Treat yourself like a star!” Hertz billboard inside Disney Studio 1

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Similar styled billboard in Disney Studio 1

It’s particularly interesting here, however, because the original concept, though similar, called for a far more modern design of colours and protruding, square neons.

Positioned as it is at the heart of what is strongly rumoured to become a ‘Theater District’ expansion of the current Hollywood Boulevard placemaking, a place where film and television technologies are put on show, clearly the design has been taken back in time… to prepare for future plans.

— Images by Guigui, Plan59.com and dlrptoday.co.uk

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