We begin on this rainy Saturday in early April. Once again, the curse of the press event has struck and Walt Disney Studios Park sits underneath a thick covering of rain clouds.
Throughout the day, both before and after the launch event we just watched, areas in front of the key attraction — The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror — were cordoned off and reserved for cameras, officials and photo shoots.
Celebrities and VIP guests were led through Beverley Court and La Terrasse Perrier for photos in front of the Tower, posing either next to the fibre-optic Hollywood Tower Hotel sign or beside the familiar elevator cabin we spotted earlier.
It’s here we spot our very first celebrity. No, not the guy in the green top, we’ve unfortunately no idea who he is, but the bellhop! Do you recognise him? He might be wearing the same maroon uniform and bellboy hat as the regular employees of The Hollywood Tower Hotel, but this, you could say, is the bellhop.
You’ll know him from all of the videos on the official Tower of Terror website, not to mention countless visuals and posters that are appearing across Europe right now. He dropped back into the resort on the launch day to complete his Twilight Zone duties.
This same bellhop and several others were on standby inside the boiler room of the attraction itself, ready to pose for photos by the famous elevator doors or even take a ride with the VIPs to capture some unique on-ride moments. It’s just as we enter the Tower of Terror for a ride ourselves that one of the resort’s most important VIPs of the weekend was giving an interview — Sébastien Chabal, the instantly recognisable French rugby player.
Causing somewhat of a frenzy with guests passing by to their own elevators, the rugby star was being peered over by two of the bellhops as he was filmed on camera. The many visits from various national rugby teams during last year’s World Cup in France seems to have paid off, this being Sébastien’s second visit captured by the official press team.
And so now we switch over to the official press photos from Disneyland Resort Paris, with the biggest VIP of them all posing next to the rugby player against a special backdrop of ‘HTH’ symbols, Tower of Terror and Disneyland15 logos. As for his ride on the attraction itself, that was captured from start to finish:
Very willing to play along with the bellhops, Chabal’s long hair (he is often referred to simply as “the caveman” by rugby fans) also provided the perfect showcase for the ride’s “gravity-defying” capabilities.
Interestingly, the resort also released one photo of the elevator as a “making of” shot, showing the photographers and equipment which went into capturing the VIPs on their ride into the fifth dimension.
As you might expect, the event was populated by mainly French VIPs, many of whom we expect most DLRP Today readers won’t recognise. The full list included Sébastien Chabal, Emilie Dequenne, Thierry Frémont, Pierre Mathieu, Bruno Solo, Philippe Vandel, Philppe Bas, Olivier Dahan, André Dussollier, Zoe Felix, Marc Lavoine, Aissa Maiga, Virginie Efira, Laurent Gerra, Hafsia Herzi, Audrey Marnay, Alysson Paradis and Jocelyn Quivrin.
However, since their photos from the boiler room were so expertly dominated by the scene-stealing bellhops, let’s take a look anyway:
Sébastien Chabal / (above) / Jocelyn Quivrin
Hafsia Herzi and Emilie Dequenne / Non-French Lucy and Nadja from ‘No Angels’
Aissa Maiga / Bruno Solo
André Dusollier / Virginie Efira
TV presenter and star of the Tower of Terror competitions and promos on French channel M6, it was good to see that Virginie Efira was also present at the park to help launch the new attraction itself. Next to her, Mickey Mouse tries to reach his room in The Hollywood Tower Hotel.
Whilst Minnie wore her white dress from the Studios’ grand opening event in 2002 and last year’s Toon Studio opening, Mickey’s outfit looked brand new and very sharp indeed. He posed for pictures with VIPs atop a small podium to the left of Beverley Court, were we spotted some preparations the day before.
Now, for the United Kingdom. Disneyland Resort Paris always appears to have a hard time coaxing celebrities across the English Channel to Marne-la-Vallée specifically for these press events, so how did they do this time? Not too bad…
The main attendees from the UK were a team from long-running ITV1 daytime show This Morning, which included reporter Alison Hammond (who you might incidentally remember from Big Brother many moons ago). Alison took part in the filming of plenty of footage from the attraction and various locations around the resort, which has been compiled into short VT segments shown throughout the two hour show across the past few weeks, advertising both the resort and more specifically competitions to win trips to ride Tower of Terror.
She might not be the most famous TV reporter, but Alison smiled, screamed and danced her way through the weekend with her family — DLRP Today spotted her at the front of the press crowd for the High School Musical 2: School’s Out! premiere, miming to every word. It’s a shame not all the press are that willing to enjoy themselves.
As the TV reporter posed in front of the Tower, another British TV star was also enjoying Walt Disney Studios Park with his family. You’ll know him best from BBC Three sitcom Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, but he’s also a former Hollyoaks star and popstar (remember that?!) — it’s Will Mellor.
The actor was captured outside (but not on-board!) Tower of Terror, at the Toon Studio Plaza character locations and enjoying Crush’s Coaster with other VIP guests. Below, he poses with wife Michelle McSween and son Jayden alongside Emile from Ratatouille.
Our final British VIP will surely be the most well-known. Appearing for the nighttime inauguration event of Tower of Terror, long-time BBC Radio 1 DJ and occasional television presenter Jo Whiley, with son Jude and Mickey Mouse.
Jo Whiley presents the late morning/daytime slot on Radio 1, one of the UK’s biggest radio stations. She posed in front of a classic 1930s automobile at the foot of Hollywood Boulevard. Full reports, photos and video from this nighttime event will be following shortly.
Our next country is the Netherlands, represented mainly by cast members from two soaps (serial dramas) that go by the abbreviations ONM and GTST — that’s Onderweg Naar Morgen and Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden.
ONM & GTST cast on Tower of Terror / TV presenter Monique Smit with Stitch
ONM & GTST cast with the bellhop / Dutch stars with the cast of HSM2
Finally we come to the last country to see some of its stars visit the press events — Germany! The first three famous faces will soon be recognised right across Europe — it’s Nadja, Jessica and Lucy from hugely successful female pop group No Angels. Following a reunion last year, they’re Germany’s Eurovision Song Contest entry for 2008.
The three stars posed with Stitch, above, following the launch event earlier, and were captured both riding Tower of Terror and visiting Minnie Mouse over in Disneyland Park with their families and children, below.
Also attending the event, and featured in publicity and press photos more than any other celebrity across the various international websites, the winner of Germany’s Next Top Model, Barbara Meier.
Barbara has special reason to be at the resort to help launch the major new attraction, since she currently stars in a German TV campaign for the resort, the first for several years, aimed at “reintroducing” it to the country that recently hasn’t been a strong visitor to the Marne-la-Vallée magic kingdom.
Choosing the model with long, red hair certainly paid off for her publicity photos on-board the attraction, once again showing off its drops and zero-gravity moments.
Above, Barbara poses with a bellhop and earlier, Mickey Mouse, atop the special podium in front of the attraction.
The Top Model star was also photographed right across the resort, including signing autographs in Main Street USA, smiling with Stitch on the redecorated Place des Stars Stage…
…Posing in front of the 15th Anniversary overlay of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant and finally, standing with the recognisable bellhop who now appears to almost have a smile on his face… !
All of the German stars, including retired football star Fredi Bobic, posed for a final photo with the entire cast of High School Musical 2: School’s Out!.
The opening of such a high-profile new attraction at Walt Disney Studios Park has also given it a couple of other, more high-profile, stars in recent weeks. On his European publicity tour for Rocky Balboa, movie legend Sylvester Stallone didn’t just pay a visit to check up on his Planet Hollywood restaurant in Disney Village, the star dropped into the Studios to try this European version of the Hollywood Tower favourite.
Visiting in late March with his two sons, musician Phil Collins returned to the resort once again to enjoy the new attractions of Toon Studio and Hollywood Boulevard that have transformed Walt Disney Studios Park since his last visit for the 15th Anniversary launch in April last year. The star now lives in Féchy, Switzerland and returns to Disneyland Resort Paris almost annually to celebrate his sons’ birthdays.
The famous faces above could enjoy priority access to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Crush’s Coaster in particular, which would have made the dull, cloudy and even rainy weather less of a disappointment.
Certain to be smiling in their perpetual “summertime”, however, were the stars of the all-new High School Musical 2: School’s Out! show. We take you to the official premiere performance, next…