News / The Celebration Continues… Big Time!

Monday, 21st April 2008

The Celebration Continues… The VIPs

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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Sébastien Chabal / (above) / Jocelyn Quivrin

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Hafsia Herzi and Emilie Dequenne / Non-French Lucy and Nadja from ‘No Angels’

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Aissa Maiga / Bruno Solo

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André Dusollier / Virginie Efira

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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ONM & GTST cast on Tower of Terror / TV presenter Monique Smit with Stitch

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Above, Barbara poses with a bellhop and earlier, Mickey Mouse, atop the special podium in front of the attraction.

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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

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…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… !

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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.

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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.

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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…

Monday, 14th April 2008

The Celebration Continues… The Launch

Top of the bill for this major international press ceremony was to “reintroduce Walt Disney Studios Park as a full day experience”. With over two hundred million Euros of investment finally reaching fruition, there was certainly a lot resting on this particular Saturday.

Despite opening three months after The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Stitch Live! would be inaugurated first, the star of this joint ceremony to launch ‘The Celebration Continues… Big Time!’. For the first time, it was Disneyland Park in the shadows as Walt Disney Studios Park played host for the entire day, its Place des Stars Stage next to Stitch Live! transformed with a special backdrop and decorations.

The build-up to the grand opening of Stitch Live! included the little blue nuisance finding his satellite transmission “interfering” with various other video screens across the park.

Up until the 3pm opening, when the satellites finally aligned with the Disney Channel building, Stitch could be seen popping up on the pre-show screen of Art of Disney Animation, on the giant videoscreen of Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular or even on the often overlooked Silly Symphonies projection screen inside Disney Studio 1.

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Before the show began, music from both parks filled the courtyard, a kind of ’15th Anniversary megamix’ comprising various tracks such as the Fantillusion theme, Just Like We Dreamed It, Remember the Magic, Candleabration, ‘Flying’ from Peter Pan and more — even a chance to hear some rare instrumental versions of ‘Tous en Train’ from Disney Characters’ Express and ‘The Feeling of Aloha’ from the retired Lilo & Stitch Catch a Wave Party.

Resort ambassadors Wendy Courquet and Arnaud Gayet introduced the ceremony, arriving in a similar style to the ‘Shooting Live’ streetmosphere shows which now entertain on the stage — pulling up in a golf buggy to the music of Roll out the Red Carpet from Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade.

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Wendy and Arnaud introduce the ceremony

Outgoing Chairman and CEO of the resort Karl Holz was welcomed to the stage and wasted no time in emphasising the Walt Disney Studios Park location, or the fact that the two parks are “right next door”. Speaking of the original 15th Anniversary Celebration, Mr Holz announced guest reaction was “overwhelming”, quoting the record 14.5 million visitors of 2007.

“We intend to continue the success with today’s launch of our bigger and better celebration,” he continued. “During ‘The Celebration Continues… Big Time!’ our guests will experience twelve more magical months of bigger thrills, exciting entertainment and interactive character experiences…” At which point, Karl was cut short by loud rustling and frenzied movement from within the giant red present on stage.

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The present begins to shake… and smoke

With a shrug of the shoulders, the introduction continued with a pointer to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror behind the assembled crowd, due to be inaugurated later in the day, along with the new High School Musical 2 show. A third interruption from the box causes smoke to pour out from inside. Choking on the smoke (and playing along well), Karl whispered “Are we ok?” as the ambassadors pretended all was going smoothly.

Finally, with the tension becoming too much as Karl moved on to announce the continuation of the original 15th Anniversary events at Disneyland Park, a blast of smoke and a scratch and rip of the wrapping paper saw none other than — you guessed it — Stitch burst out of the present.

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Stitch bursts from the 15th birthday present

Arguing in French, the blue alien shouted “Karl has forgotten Stitch!”, to which to Euro Disney SAS CEO answered “Of course, we didn’t forget you. We were just saving the best ’till last!”.

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Karl, Wendy and Arnaud attended acting school for 6 months to prepare for this moment

With an impatient space creature on stage, Karl Holz wasted no time in officially declaring Stitch Live! open, as golden streamers burst from the stage, confetti fell from behind and the four stars posed on-stage for photos from the press.

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As the ceremony came to a close, announcements invited guests to “discover Stitch Live! throughout the rest of the day”, whilst minor celebrities from various European countries were invited for press pictures against the ‘Stitch Live!’ backdrop.

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Guests and the press dispersed across the park for the next couple of hours, the VIPs enjoying priority access to the Tower of Terror via the Fastpass entrance and to Crush’s Coaster via the exit.

The Video

The Celebration Continues… Big Time! Launch & Stitch Live! Inauguration

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Despite the important events of the day, with almost 2,000 invitees and an expected 14,000 regular visitors, attendance and queue times felt relatively normal. Though it would have been laughable just a year ago, waiting 70 (Tower of Terror) or even up to 90 minutes (Crush’s Coaster) for attractions is now often a reality at the park, however.

Everyone would reunite at 5pm sharp for the grand premiere of ‘High School Musical 2: School’s Out!’ — the only performance of the new show all day — which is where we take you next…

[Photos © Disney, DLRP Today and Photos Magiques]

Saturday, 12th April 2008

The Celebration Continues… The Preparations

We arrive on the evening of Friday, 4th April 2008 and head straight for the resort hub, the promenade, Centre Court. The day has already been one of bustling activity for the resort — alongside good guest attendance, many resort officials, VIPs and press crews have already arrived to begin their own preparations.

The day before, Thursday, preparations were made in the mezzanine of Disney Studio 1 for live radio station broadcasts on Friday morning — Paris’ Voltage FM from 6:30am to 9:30am and the UK’s Heart FM broadcasting live all the way from 7:00am to 10:00am.

Reserved zones were set up for The Legend of the Lion King, Disney Characters’ Express, Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade and Candleabration throughout the day.

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That’s where we’re headed, follow the bellhop…

So, here we are, on the hub of Disneyland Resort Paris, with the giant billboards and bellhops pointing the way to our first point of call – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. But before then, a little surprise from the gardeners — brand new flowers right around the promenade!

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Brand new flowers for the hub / New brighter colours for Town Square

All the areas bordering the paths here were previously just grassy banks, with the exception of a small parcel of flowers around the new information board and flags installed one year ago. Now, the lower section of all the grass has been given over to thousands of new flowers.

Hopping quickly over to Disneyland Park, the gardeners have made another change — last year’s yellows and blues replaced by multicoloured yellows and pinks in honour of ‘The Celebration Continues’ colour scheme.

Enough diversions, let’s head straight for Walt Disney Studios Park:

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Film crews prepare next to Beverley Court

Here, the Tower of Terror is already buzzing with preparations and special set-ups for the evening and days ahead. Beverley Court, the building on the edge of the new Hollywood Boulevard, is providing a convenient storage location for equipment whilst the film crews set up their equipment on the patch of pavement next door.

The Studio Catering Co. van usually here has been moved to allow the area to be used for exterior VIP shots and film footage against the backdrop of the Tower.

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Temporary HTH posters / Lighting rig tests behind the Tower

In preparation for the grand inauguration ceremonies to come the following night, movie posters on the lighting rigs, which are still to be found in this area, have temporarily been replaced by ‘HTH’ Hollywood Tower Hotel logos, as those on Disney Bros Plaza were with Crush and Cars imagery last June. Unfortunately, George of the Jungle, etc did return on Sunday.

Now, what’s that behind the Tower? Don’t worry, not a wrecking ball… a giant lighting rig, elevated by crane to sit behind the building. When the press and VIPs stood in their reserved areas for the show the next day, it was completely hidden, emitting an incredibly bright ray of lights from behind the hotel, making it look just like that famous mural in the Tower Hotel Gifts boutique.

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Show control/film crews’ podium

The crane had been elevated sometime in the late afternoon of Friday to prepare for the evening’s massive rehearsal of the inauguration show, which began just half an hour after park closing at 7:30pm and, for the 100+ extras that would bring a living, breathing Hollywood night to life, continued right up until midnight.

As seen above, the podium and control booth from the 15th Anniversary and Toon Studio launches was again present, providing a clear view of the Tower through a gap in the trees and Hollywood Boulevard buildings.

Saturday, 5th April 2008

The big day is finally here, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is about to be inaugurated at Walt Disney Studios Park over six years since the park first opened. Of course, the day also marked the launch of the entire ‘Celebration Continues… Big Time!’ year, not to mention the grand opening and inauguration of Stitch Live! across the courtyard.

The park was already busy at 7:00am, when rehearsals began for the ceremony that would kick off the year and officially open Stitch Live!, with Karl Holz joining the rehearsal from 8:30am.

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Giant lighting rig for Tower / Signs park-wide indicate Tower closes at 5pm

The white podium was suddenly joined by barriers and fences all around the Tower and Place des Stars area. The resort’s audio visual crew had the crane camera in place, ready to be moved around for various events throughout the day, and — as if you could miss it — a second giant lighting rig was now extending into the sky, ensuring the Tower stayed in bright light despite the typically cloudy press event weather.

The lighting rig behind the Tower wouldn’t extend into the sky again until later in the day, when preparations for the real show began. For that reason, and for the surprising amount of pyrotechnics that would be scattered across the hotel’s facade, the attraction closed to day guests at 5pm.

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Film crews and Bellhop actors on standby for VIPs at the Tower

All day, celebrities, VIPs and invitees were enjoying the attractions of Walt Disney Studios Park. At Tower of Terror, the resort’s own film crews and photographers were on “standby” for their arrival, with special acting bellhops inside and out ready to pose for the cameras.

Used in the background of many of the photo shoots… something rather familiar…

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Familiar prop from London reappears for photo shoots

The elevator cabin which briefly appeared in London’s Leicester Square had found its way across the Channel to the resort, where it sat outside of the gates of the attraction all day.

Look out for another article soon covering in detail the VIPs and celebrities who attended the event.

Finally, the location of our first event of the day — Place des Stars. The stage was dressed up overnight for the official kick-off ceremony, a ’15’ symbol surrounded by shiny golden wrapping paper and a backdrop of illuminated Stitch Live! logos.

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Stitch Live! & ‘Celebration Continues’ launch stage prepared…

On the stage, a red podium wrapped up in a golden ribbon and ’15’ symbol, with a giant red present topped by a gold bow. Now, who do you suppose could be hiding in there, waiting to burst out? Yes, he’s mischievous alright… In fact, if you took a look behind that backdrop, you’d have seen a second red square of wrapping paper for the front of the present… just in case.

This is where we head next, as our ‘Celebration Continues’ series… continues!

Thursday, 10th April 2008

The Celebration Continues… The Park Maps

It was during our 15th Anniversary Launch coverage in April 2007 that we discovered the updated park maps for the long-awaited celebration. With Disneyland Park bathed in gold and both parks sporting ’15’ symbols, confetti and streamers, they were a flashy welcome to the events that lay beyond the park gates.

One year on, and ‘The Celebration Continues’ with a brand new redesign, bigger than before. The covers of both guides have taken a darker approach with their pinks and blues fading to a neat black as rays of light shine out from each park logo. Mickey’s hand pulls the wrapping paper away in the bottom corner — the ’15’ now a much smaller icon in the lower right.

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They’re an improvement not just in the beauty stakes, with the cover information now displayed much more clearly in a single bar along the top, with both a larger and clearer country flag and textual language title identifying each guide either side of the date period.

Inside, the maps are largely the same as ever. A few subtle tweaks have been made, however. In the excerpt from the Walt Disney Studios Park guide below, notice the small outline of the park and the colour fill showing the location of each land, just to make it even clearer. Of course, the new designated smoking areas are also marked — with a tiny cigarette symbol.

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The key to the symbol reads “For everyone’s comfort and convenience, special areas have been set up for those who wish to smoke. Please smoke only in these designated areas.”

Also note that the Walt Disney Studios Park map itself has again had a small design update — the addition of a large Stitch Live! attraction sign to the Walt Disney Television Studios building. And, whilst Jiminy Crickett is your guide to Disneyland Park, Stitch is now fittingly your host on the Studios’ map.

One change to both guides is a new box stating very loudly “IMPORTANT! Pick up the Programme!”. We can only assume that many guests are taking the map and failing to realise all the entertainment times are in a separate leaflet. Talking of the Programme, those have also been given a modest update to match the park guides:

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The back cover of both park guides gives us one final surprise — an updated Official Partners list, now looking bigger than it has done for many years.

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New additions are Danone and Dole, which has been featured in-park for some time but never as an official parter. Kellogg’s is now a regular feature and IBM has returned following its disappearance several years ago. The Orange (sponsors of Studio Tram Tour) logo is now featured over France Télécom (sponsors of “it’s a small world”). Since they’re the same company, we’d assume this is simply because Orange is used worldwide and not just in France.

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Finally, the Extra Magic Hours leaflets available in the lobbies of Disney Hotels have also been given a refresh, with a smart new logo and simplified information now that the hours are strictly morning-only.

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

Tuesday, 1st April 2008

Mark Twain glows in multicolour for ‘Celebration Continues’

Next weekend, 5th April 2008, will see press from across Europe descend on Disneyland Resort Paris to cover, primarily, the launch events for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Stitch Live!.

However, the event will also be somewhat of a “relaunch” for Walt Disney Studios Park, and the official date when the resort shifts from its original ‘15th Anniversary Celebration‘ year to its second, ‘Celebration Continues‘, year of events.

As already seen in brochures, the television commercials and the updated official disneyland15.com website, the original gold and blue colour scheme of the first year is out — instead, bright multicolours of pink and turquoise, green and yellow are in.

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Now, for something we probably didn’t expect — those very colours are now illuminating every night across the Rivers of the Far West, thanks to a complete overhaul of the lights surrounding each of the Mark Twain riverboat’s four floors.

As shown in the exclusive photos here from a DLRP Today reader, the lower level is pink, then blue, then green, then the original yellow retained. All other lights on the boat have been left untouched.

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With these new lights coming just days before the press events, when the park will naturally be privatised for an evening event, it is currently unknown whether they are a temporary decorative measure or a change that will last the entire ‘Celebration Continues‘ year.

The replacing or colouring of the lightbulbs is similar to that of many along the ceilings of the two Main Street arcades, which last year saw a scattering of blue lightbulbs to add to the lining of 15th Anniversary banners. These lights are still in place (pictured below).

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Mark Twain itself was also a centrepiece of last year’s launch events, when characters rode it around the rivers carrying their ‘Candleabration‘ candles.

The multi-colour lighting will likely come as a blow to fans of Frontierland, already well prepared in putting up with unlikely changes to the make-up of their favourite land — such as the Halloween paint machinery and the recent arrival of Woody at Critter Corral.

Update:

Our thanks to cmflounder92 for sending in the following clearer photo of the multicolour lights:

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The Mark Twain is based on the original boat at Disneyland in California, which Walt Disney mortgaged his own home to build back in 1955.

— Your News: If you’ve got new photos or news from Disneyland Resort Paris, send them to DLRP Today at today@dlrpmagic.com and we can report the magic as it happens! Our news service can only improve with your help!

[Photos by Nemo_Dory and cmflounder92 for DLRP Today]

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]

Wednesday, 19th March 2008

Eurostar doubles direct trains to the magic

The ‘Disneyland Direct’ services of Channel Tunnel passenger train operator Eurostar have traditionally been something only enjoyed only by those within the M25 or willing to stay overnight in the capital. With the completion of St Pancras International’s stunning refurbishment, the new timetables only made the situation worse for anyone living elsewhere in England, Wales or Scotland, with 9:37am service now departing the new London high-speed terminus even earlier at 8:53am.

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St Pancras International [Photo: Swamibu, Flickr]

Meanwhile, Disneylanders wishing to take this more environmentally-friendly route across the English Channel have been gradually overrunning the midday and afternoon indirect services to and from Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy respectively, taking a Brussels train to Lille and changing for a TGV heading South. Businessmen and French holidaymakers have quickly become outnumbered by eager Brits with their bright blue Disneyland shopping bags, whilst all tickets for the morning ‘Disneyland Direct’ train frequently sell out.

It’s time for Disneyland Direct #2, then — a new midday service to finally allow Disney fans from Birmingham, Manchester and beyond to enjoy a direct high-speed service from London. Eurostar made the surprise announcement just a few days ago:

As if by magic … Eurostar introduces extra direct services to Disneyland resort paris for the summer

‘¢ Eurostar direct services to Disneyland Resort Paris grow in popularity
‘¢ 33,000 extra Eurostar seats
‘¢ Departure times and through fares ideal for travellers from UK regions
‘¢ Tickets go on sale on Tuesday 18 March 2008

Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train service linking the UK with mainland Europe, will introduce for the summer extra new services between St Pancras International/Ashford International and Disneyland Resort Paris, starting on Thursday 18 July 2008. These extra trains will provide an additional 33,000 seats to and from the resort and tickets go on sale on 18 March 2008.

The daily direct services to Disneyland Resort Paris have always been popular and the demand has increased further with the opening of St Pancras International and the launch of High Speed 1, the UK’s first 186 mph line, last November.

The extra direct trains will run on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from London St Pancras International/Ashford International and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from Disneyland Resort Paris.

To celebrate the introduction of the extra services Eurostar is hosting a Disney extravaganza at its Bluewater store over the Easter weekend. The Disney jazz band will be on hand to entertain shoppers and there will be competitions and giveaways for children.

Eurostar’s Director of Communications, Simon Montague, commented: ‘These extra services will make it even easier for families and friends to visit Europe’s leading tourist attraction during the summer holidays. The midday departure times are ideal for travellers living in towns and cities beyond London, who can buy through fares and use domestic rail to St Pancras International, King’s Cross and Euston to connect with Eurostar high-speed trains’.

The timetable will be as follows:

Outward
St Pancras Intl [ 12h49 ] >> Ashford Intl [ 13h24 ] >> Marne-la-Vallée [ 16h17 ]

Return
Marne-la-Vallée [ 14h40 ] >> Ashford Intl [ 15h36 ] >> St Pancras Intl [ 16h11 ] **

(**Return times may differ on certain dates, check when booking)

Disneyland Resort Paris is 2 hours and a half away from London and two hours from Ashford International. The station Marne la Vallée Chessy is only a few steps away from the gates of the two theme parks Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios.

Fares on the direct services start from £59 return and children under the age of 4 travel for free. Tickets are available from Eurostar.com or 08705 186 186.

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St Pancras International [Photo: ADevlin Photography, Flickr]

When the ‘Disneyland Direct’ train was first introduced, it ran only on selected days during high season, before eventually becoming a reagular, daily, year-round service just a couple of years ago.

These new services on certain days over the Summer 2008 season will, we can hope, prove popular enough for them to also become a regular fixture, allowing more people to take an easier and more environmentally-friendly route to the magic.

Click here to check the timetables and book tickets at Eurostar.com

Tuesday, 26th February 2008

Start of something new for HSM 2 On Tour

Whilst the show’s two US homes — Disney’s California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — were content to simply replace their original ‘High School Musical: Pep Rally’ street productions with the brand new ‘High School Musical 2: School’s Out’ last Summer, featuring mostly songs from the Disney Channel sequel, it appears Walt Disney Studios Park will be doing things a little differently.

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High School Musical 2: School’s Out, the DCA and DHS version

Replacing High School Musical On Tour with a show dedicated almost entirely to songs from the second TV movie would certainly upset fans of the original film’s soundtrack. So, the current plan is for a very clever compromise — the original High School Musical On Tour will return for two performances, each with two show stops, in the morning and early afternoon of each day.

Then, in the afternoon, it’s “the start of the something new”, as High School Musical 2 rolls into town with a brand new show based on that at Disney’s California Adventure! This show features a Summer theme, a redecorated version of the rolling stage and a few of the stars arriving by golf cart, as the ‘HSM’ stars find themselves “Summer vacation” jobs. Songs featured in the US versions are ‘What Time is it?’, ‘Work this Out’, ‘You are the Music in me’, ‘I Don’t Dance’ and ‘All for One’, along with an encore of the first film’s ‘We’re all in this Together’.

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Brochure promotions for the show(s)

Current promotions for The Celebration Continues year so far have only stated that a “High School Musical Show” will be playing. This news confirms for the first time that not only will Paris receive the High School Musical 2 sequal, but fans of the films will actually be able to discover two different ‘HSM’ productions in the same day.

It is not currently known how or if the decoration of the stage would differ between each show, since the High School Musical 2: School’s Out shows in the US, pictured above (top), feature a twist on the original design.

Rehearsals using this planned schedule are due to begin soon, with High School Musical‘s rolling stage returning to the streets of Walt Disney Studios Park from 5th April, with just one performance (with two stops) of each show daily, until five performances per day begin from 12th April — two of the original, three of the sequal. The shows are then scheduled to run right through to 31st August 2008.

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…

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