Tuesday, 29th April 2008

Tower of Terror: Spectacular inauguration (official highlights video)

The audio/visual team of Disneyland Resort Paris spent days, weeks and possibly even months preparing for the spectacular inauguration of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, a unique show on and around the 183-ft tall attraction at Walt Disney Studios Park.

With 100 extras to capture and navigate amongst, a projection show on the Tower and several fiery bursts of fireworks into the sky, it required a full rehearsal the night before and perfect co-ordination between the creators of the show and those who would be filming.

It’s time to play back the dailies…

The Tower inauguration is followed by some extra B-roll footage (the kind of shots a TV company might intersperse between their own footage with a presenter, for example) from the attraction itself, Stitch Live! and the Celebration Continues launch ceremony, packaged with the video.

» Click here to see the full event in picures

» Click here to see our exclusive full video

Sunday, 27th April 2008

Tower of Terror: Spectacular inauguration brings Hollywood hotel to life (in pictures)

Walt Disney Studios Park, six years on. The crowds are bigger, the guests happier, the theming visible and the entire park dominated by a 183-ft monster that is about to be unleashed. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, legendary in Florida for over 14 years and under construction in Paris for the past three, an attraction heavy on style, thrill… and story.

Every Disney park fan in the world knows the story of the iconic Hollywood Tower Hotel, a “beacon for the show-business elite” which fell victim to a disastrous lightning strike and the grasp of The Twilight Zone, but has it ever been seen for real? On this fateful night, the chilling legend would come to life before the eyes of an exclusive audience, like never before and never again. This is the entire ‘Twilight Zone Spectacular’ from start to finish, in pictures…

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As guests left behind their exclusive buffet in the giant temporary domes behind Studio Tram Tour, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror had suddenly been all wrapped up, ready to surprise. Bathed in pink and a pattern of ‘HTH’ symbols, a yellow string and ’15’ label tied the unusual package together — a late sixth birthday present to the park towering 183ft above the flat fields of Marne-la-Vallée.

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Walking back down the illuminated Hollywood Boulevard, guests were directed behind the raised control booth at the edge of Place des Stars, already filled with photographers and film crews aiming their lenses at the Tower. The courtyard would provide the perfect viewing spot for the nighttime spectacular.

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The remarkable projection effects were achieved by several ultra-bright, high definition projectors pointing toward The Hollywood Tower Hotel from other buildings in the park. The technology was used to project the dreams of children onto Sleeping Beauty Castle during last year’s spectacular 15th Anniversary launch night and has been evolving and improving for years in the hands of the resort’s technical teams since its first use for the unique Phantom Wedding show on a Halloween Soirée night several years ago.

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With 1400 guests spread across the courtyard, many of the projections were doubled-up to not only appear on the front face of the Tower but also integrated into its left-hand side.

At 10.30pm, announcements went out across the park and both through the domes and the studios’ other restaurants, which hosted other groups such as celebrities, calling everyone to Place des Stars for a special gala event at The Hollywood Tower Hotel. The operating attractions — Crush’s Coaster, Cars, Flying Carpets, Armageddon, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Stitch Live! were all temporarily closed.

At 10.45pm, with the crowds gathered and enjoying a medley of 1930s period music, the entire park was taken into total darkness.

“Good evening and welcome in front of The Hollywood Tower Hotel. ‘Tis magnificent, don’t you agree? Our evening will start in a few minutes. Do not be too impatient, you could regret it!”

Vintage cars, bellhops, pyrotechnic effects and over 100 extras were waiting behind the scenes — the assembled crowd knew nothing of what to expect. A traditional inauguration ceremony? A projection show? Some fireworks? As the jazzy music reached its crescendo, a ticking clock began to cut through the night atmosphere. The menacing “tick, tick, tick” continued for several minutes before the heavy, foreboding chimes of an old grandfather clock began to echo across the park…

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Eight chimes brought a collection of bizarre, bright green bugs to crawl across the package, disappearing around the front of the building, their legs tapping across the wrapping paper. An arm appears from the left, a bellhop’s arm, his white-gloved fist punching into the parcel and squashing an insect.

As heavy, chesty breathing rumbled from the Tower, the bellhop’s hand reached in again to tear away a piece of the wrapping paper, revealing the bright, clean façade of a well-kept Hollywood Tower Hotel behind. Undoing the yellow string and ripping a large section of paper from the front, the bellhop caused the entire package to unravel, paper falling down around the building to reveal a spectacular vision for real — The Hollywood Tower Hotel, at the height of its golden age.

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Projections highlighted the building’s features, making it appear new and clean. Windows lit. Music built to a great fanfare. The giant lighting rig behind the Tower emitted a startling fan of bright white lights, shining into all corners of the sky.

For anyone familiar with that famous wall mural in the Tower Hotel Gifts shop, this was the real thing, right before your eyes. The sight was spectacular, almost unreal, receiving great applause (and unprovoked applause at that) from the audience.

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At this point, as strings and horns swelled in the rousing Hollywood gala music and searchlights beamed across the sky, the inauguration took its first very unexpected turn. Eyes still focused on the Tower, movement down in the street below suddenly caught the audience’s attention.

Two traffic police walked toward the junction, swinging their batons and blowing whistles as the music continued to swell. From the left, a vintage 1930s car suddenly pulled into view. From Hollywood Boulevard, countless extras in period clothes busily congregated on the curbside, crossed the street and pointed upwards to the dazzling hotel. A second car pulled in from Vine Street in front of the hotel, more extras arrived — reporters with old-fashioned cameras and flash bulbs, newspaper sellers and glamorous couples.

As a third and fourth car arrived on the scene and traversed the junction, the traffic cops waving them through and helping the “show business elite” to cross the street to admire the hotel’s fountain. The entire scene filled the street with 100 extras and no less than five vintage cars ferrying the invitees around, bustling and exciting as if a real evening at the hotel, a living and breathing 1930s Hollywood right before the audience.

As couples swooned and flashbulbs continued to pop, the period crowd began to head toward to hotel’s entrance, the cars disappearing out of the scene just as quickly as they miraculously appeared.

The bright lights across Place des Stars faded as a roaring fire and warm orange curtains beamed onto the Tower, as if providing a view into the high-society event taking place in the legendary Tip Top Club on the hotel’s 13th floor. A couple enter the elevator to the club, a bellhop smiles.

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The famous jazz sounds blasted out, the same song we’ve come to recognise as the theme of the attraction from countless promotional videos and trailers. In the background, excited chatter from the hotel guests peppered the air. Two hands holding wine glasses moved in across the scene, clinking into the centre as the jubilant music continued.

Next, silhouette figures of jazz musicians danced across the Tower, their outlines and trombones in heavy black against the warm oak panelling and curtains of the club. Stretching their instruments across the Tower as they danced, the musicians began to fade as a more sinister tone began to take hold of the music. Symbols crashed, and crashed again, the brass heightened, grew fraught and uncontrollable.

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Suddenly, a warped black and white circles began to fall upon the Tower. Slowly, it fell further and further across the façade, swallowing up the jubilant scenes of Tip Top Club with it. Instruments crashed and collided, the tight jazz of the trombones echoed into a distant medley.

A giant clock appeared on the Tower, the clock from the hotel’s lobby, as the elevator panel climbed slowly to the top of the hotel and back, continuing to ferry guests to their rooms and the club, unaware that strange and mysterious forces were taking hold of the building.

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Tick tock, tick tock… the clock continued as the crashing music became almost deafening…

8.03pm… 8.04pm… 8.05pm… When suddenly…!

Lightning strikes! A huge flash of pyrotechnics hits the upper-right of the building. The scene instantly changes to a heavy rainstorm, pouring down across the hotel as electrical sparks bolt and zap across the front of the hotel. The scene created resembled exactly that of the attraction’s pre-show video, rain pouring and dancing across the hotel façade.

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For tiny split-seconds, the cracks of energy and lightning reveal the skeleton of the building’s structure in the projections. We hear the elevator machinery starting up, whirring and falling at high speed.

What happens next in the pre-show? The elevator shafts are destroyed, struck by lightning and crushed to nothing but rubble as the elevator cabins fall into an unknown dimension. We should have warned them…

Right away, sparkles cracked and flashed from all three elevator chutes, even the balconies on the left-hand side…

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Sparks continued to fly, pyrotechnics flashing and exploding across the hotel, from its iconic sign to the fallen rubble and cracked brickwork on its body.

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The hotel fallen from grace, music turns to a Gothic organ. We see the owl from the hotel’s lobby flying across the façade, a gargoyle appearing on the front body against a backdrop of thundering rain.

Another blast of pyrotechnics bursts from the roof of the hotel — the elevator cables have snapped. Dials and displays from the boiler room cover the tower as elevator doors open and close, cables fly and flap in the stormy winds…

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A final round of heavy pyrotechnics burst from the balconies and elevator shafts, now glowing a rich, supernatural blue against the yellow tower.

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Strings and cymbals continue to crash, a bellhop’s face appears, laughing, across the front of the building…

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From outside of Walt Disney Studios Park and across the east of Marne-la-Vallée, onlookers could see smoke clearing from the Hollywood Tower Hotel sign, the building bathed in a burnt and scorched overlay of orange and black.

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The scene fades to black as the last sparks flash from the building.

When the lights fade back up, the curtain is blowing in the breeze, the clock cracked and stuck at 8.05pm, as it is in the actual lobby, a sound of rusted metal machinery squeaks in the silent breeze.

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A golden key with a “Hollywood Tower Hotel” keychain swings across the front of the hotel…

“The Hollywood Tower Hotel is changed forever…”

The iconic keys of the unforgettable theme music begin. The hotel turns to darkness, then stars appear, covering every inch. Glistening and sparkling like the possessed fountain at street level, the logo of “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” glows across the building as the audience roars with woops and cheers, clapping along to the Twilight Zone theme.

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But the show isn’t over yet… the display inspired by the hotel’s dried-up fountain suddenly turns back to a cascading waterfall, a spectacular scene of gushing greens and blues falling 55 metres across the tower.

To the chilling musical notes of a slow ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, sung by a child without the words, a black silhouette appears in the water. Arms outstretched, the haunting figure of a little girl — the little girl lost to The Twilight Zone when the elevator fell — reaches out and skips from side to side.

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Behind the tower, the fan of searingly bright lights flashes in a ghostly green as the silhouette is swallowed up by the falling water in a flash of green and yellow.

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Falling keys on a piano lead us into a tour of some of the hotel’s now-infamous rooms and locations. The first sees pipework cover the entire front of the building, the scene then changing to a steamy, dimly-lit boiler room where the entire body of the building flashes and glows as if coming to life like the giant turbines of the elevator machinery.

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The lights behind circulate in blues and oranges — the service elevators coming back to life, winding up and down through the lift shaft as they prepare to welcome their new guests.

Buzzing electrics and power surges bring light back into the hotel’s reception area. The tower is dressed in projections to look like the pigeon holes of keys, the square front body to look like the reception desk itself. Echoing through the cold, rain-swept night is Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again”.

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In the Library, bookshelves covering the façade, the television stuttered into life, displaying brief excerpts of a distressing newscast coming live from nearby in Hollywood.

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“The hotel is filling with … There’s something going on … Lightning has hit the hotel! … We hear some people have disappeared … Storm’s … Worse all the time … Figure out what’s going on”

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The television picture fades to a blur, the interference too strong.

Music gets louder, strings swirling and building, louder and louder, circling in a climactic score that suggests the night is about to reach its grand crescendo. A face appears on the Tower, a bellhop.

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He speaks strongly, menacingly, staring into the audience…

“Welcome to the NEW Hollywood Tower Hotel…”

Raising an eyebrow and turning to one side, he steps backwards slowly to reveal the buttons of the service elevator.

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As the bellhop reaches to press the “Basement” button, music getting ever more dramatic, choir and strings creating an unbearable tension, he slowly spells out the ultimate proposition…

“DROP IN… If you dare!”

He grits his teeth, tenses his neck muscles and begins to laugh, mercilessly, cackling with a devilish spirit at the audience. We are no longer simply bystanders.

Elevator doors covering one half of the Tower creak open with a toe-curling screech as the chanting choir and pulsing strings reach their climax. Pushing open the doors, the bellhop. As the music echoes out at its height, a familiar theme fades in… Peter Pan’s “Flying”, from the 15th Anniversary!

“And don’t forget… The Celebration Continues… BIG TIME!”

Those bellhops really do have a sense of humour!

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Pulling the doors closed with another awful screech of rusted metal, the bellhop disappears as the newly rechristened Tower of Terror glows in a pulse in blue lights, a swirling vortex opening up on its façade.

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As the 15th Anniversary theme reached its blast of trumpets and horns, fireworks burst from the body of the Tower, shooting vertically upwards into the sky, joined by another huge line of pyrotechnics exploding outwards from its roof, met by shrieks of surprise and excitement from the audience.

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As the Tower of Terror returned to its starry, fibre optic-inspired guise of Twilight Zone imagery, the smoke of the fireworks slowly cleared from around the iconic Hollywood Tower Hotel sign. Loud, pulsing dance music filled the courtyard — were the audience being given a DJ party to follow up this spectacular real-life telling of the Hollywood Tower Hotel legend? Not quite.

Soon enough, the infamous high notes of The Twilight Zone‘s theme song were filling the air, the music a thrilling rock/dance tribute to the classic score. But again, the show wasn’t over yet. Thick fog, smoke, had filled the street in front of the hotel as the audience were mesmerised by the spectacular fireworks above.

Rolling toward the audience, up to 6 feet high, the heavy fog was suddenly dotted with bright white lights in the distance, walking slowly out of the hotel. Cast members preparing for the sudden influx of excited riders? As the figures moved closer, their ghoulish silhouettes became clearer…

The 100 invitees who entered the hotel around 10 minutes ago were now free to roam… but certainly not free from The Twilight Zone‘s command.

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Plodding, creeping toward the audience, the airmen, policemen, newspaper sellers, reporters and glamorous Hollywood couples showed no emotion as their faces and bodies gradually appeared out of the fog. Perfectly choreographed, they headed directly for the audience, possessed and zombified, walking slowly to the pounding, hypnotic theme of The Twilight Zone.

When they arrived at the crowds, they reached out with their lifeless arms, clutching and grabbing at the guests, pulling them closer, enticing them to step underneath the barrier and follow them to the hotel.

“You have just entered into The Twilight Zone.”

Seemingly thrilled rather than frightened by the incredible 14 minutes that had preceded, the audience then allowed the newspaper reporters to pull them toward the hotel, the old ladies of a bygone time to take them by the arm. Soon, they would all be a permanent resident… of The Twilight Zone.

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From the very first piece of advertising to this spectacular inauguration ceremony, the grand opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disneyland Resort Paris has been nothing short of breathtaking.

Deciding to relegate the “gravity defying” drop promoted so heavily in Florida and California to second place in favour of promoting the attraction’s incredible theme and story, it’s clear the six years Walt Disney Studios Park spent waiting for its beating heart to be unveiled were not in vein.

The campaign has been positioned so closely to the heart of The Hollywood Tower Hotel, from the website to the posters and billboards, that it almost seems as if the Imagineers did it all themselves.

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Not only has Walt Disney Studios Park finally opened its real saving grace, it has truly — excuse the cliché — done it in style. The themeing is rich and detailed, the drop thrilling and exciting time and again, the advertising strong and true to the theme. The integration into Hollywood Boulevard and positioning in the park is so fitting it seems as if it were always there. The expertly-cast team of quirky, scary, friendly bellhops who provide a memorable experience every minute of the operating day… simply flawless.

And the grand opening event? It goes without saying. One of the most spectacular, well thought-out and well-executed inaugurations ever seen at any Disney park in the world. It is hard to imagine any inauguration that has quite so brilliantly celebrated a new attraction.

To the cast, crew and everyone behind the launch of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Paris — congratulations. You’ve proved that even the wildest dreams of Disney fans can come true.

Walt Disney Studios Park has finally come of age, and we can’t wait to see where you take it next.

» Click here to see our exclusive full video

» Click here to see official video highlights

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

Permalink to this video

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… 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

Monday, 31st March 2008

Tower’s TV, radio ad winners announced

Last month we introduced the immersive new official Disneyland Resort Paris website for the Tower of Terror, which, amongst its thirteen floors of games and previews, presented a unique competition allowing visitors to produce and upload their own amateur commercials for the new attraction.

The competition launched on 21st February with TV promotions across MTV channels in the UK leading people to the official website. Then, between 8th and 12th March, visitors had the chance to choose from the editors’ pick of the best submissions in both the television and radio category. The eventual winners would win a VIP trip to Disneyland Resort Paris to ride the attraction itself and see their advertisement remade by professionals — the eventual production then appearing on TV and radio networks as the final commercial for the all-important thrill attraction.

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Competition at Tower-of-Terror.co.uk

So, with votes counted and winners announced, who — or rather, what — will be helping to launch the resort’s € 180 million investment in the UK?

In the UK, the winning TV advert is entitled “The Long Walk“. It’s a suspenseful, dark clip remaining faithful to the attraction’s storyline and location, following the footsteps of an elegant young woman. The camera follows her heels toward the hotel, then panning upwards to show the Hollywood Tower itself as she checks in. Upon boarding the elevator, naturally it drops, and we then see a feather from the woman’s hat floating gently down the elevator shaft as the attraction logo appears. You can watch the amateur version here.

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The winning TV advert concept

For radio, the winner was “I Wouldn’t Mind a Drop…“, just beating a clip starring Mickey and Goofy. The script follows a young man entering the lift of The Hollywood Tower Hotel on a hot day, making the mistake of accepting the bellhop’s offer of a drink with “Yes, I wouldn’t mind a drop…”. The author of the clip recently posted several messages on magicforum. You can listed to the clip here.

The final, professional clips will be made available on the website from 5th April and should be seen across MTV channels and heard across The One Network local radio stations from next week.

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Virginie Efira awaits the results of the French competition

In France, famous star of the M6 television network Virginie Efira helped to launch a similar competition for the public to create a commercial, the winner to be announced this Friday, 4th April 2008.

Thursday, 13th March 2008

Elevator ‘art installation’ crash-lands in London’s Leicester Square

Public art installations. We’ve seen colourful Cow Parades, Super Lamb Bananas and many more… but a crashed lift? This is something new. Jutting at an angle from smashed and upturned paving slabs, a very familiar elevator cabin first appeared yesterday in Leicester Square, one of the busiest public spaces in London’s West End and best known as the home to most European and British film premieres.

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Just across the way from the Empire Cinema, a cracked and rusted elevator cabin appeared overnight in the square, surrounded by black and yellow hazard tape, as if dropped out of the sky from a great height through an opening in the Twilight Zone. The cables and mechanisms on top were rusted and snapped, the words “Service Elevator” clearly written above the doors.

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Through the murky and dirty windows, passers-by could peer inside to see mysterious imagery from the attraction and The Twilight Zone television series. Keeping guard throughout the day were a team of real bellhops, dressed in the now-familiar Parisian Tower of Terror costumes, creeping around the public who dared to look closer, and hosting several special games and entertainments as the crowds gathered. Written on the sides of the box was simply “www.towerofterror.co.uk”.

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It was a little piece of Hollywood Tower Hotel magic in the heart of London, as the resort continues to build momentum with its large-scale advertising campaign for the new attraction. Not since the opening of the resort in 1992, when a miniature Sleeping Beauty Castle toured European cities, have we seen such exciting initiatives to create a buzz about the magic.

Also today, the resort issued a national press release for the UK mapping out 13 Twilight Zone “hotspots” around the country, places where surprising levels of paranormal activity — and belief — have been recorded. Here it is in full:

NATIONAL PRESS RELEASE UK 13 TWILIGHT ZONE HOTSPOTS REVEALED

Brummies beware! According to new research out today from Disneyland Resort Paris, Birmingham is the twilight zone capital of the UK, recording the highest levels of supernatural phenomena.

The research, which looked at strange happenings and unexplained mysteries across the country, reveals the UK’s ‘capital’ and 13 hotspots for twilight zone activity. Commissioned to celebrate the launch of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror* – a new attraction at Disneyland Resort Paris, inspired by the 1950s TV series The Twilight Zone® – the research has formed the basis of a spotter’s guide to the UK’s real twilight zones.

UK 13 TWILIGHT ZONE HOTSPOTS

‘¢ Birmingham — the twilight zone capital of the UK
‘¢ Bristol
‘¢ Nottingham
‘¢ Leicester
‘¢ Kent
‘¢ Manchester
‘¢ London
‘¢ Reading
‘¢ Coventry
‘¢ Brighton
‘¢ Southampton
‘¢ Edinburgh
‘¢ Cardiff

With almost two thirds (61%) of Brummies believing in the supernatural it’s hardly surprising that the city boasts some of the country’s most bizarre twilight zone activity — from giant hailstones and alien rocks plummeting from the heavens, to phantom policemen, mysterious fires and mince-pie eating Martians.

One example of bizarre Brummie behaviour is when Sylvia Mowday, from Sutton Park, Birmingham, was walking through the park on 12 June 1954, when there was a sudden downpour. She said, “My four-year old daughter put up her little red umbrella and we heard things thudding against it. To our amazement it was a shower of frogs, coming down from the sky, hundreds of them. We looked up and saw frogs coming down like snowflakes”.

The rest of the country shares the same paranoia, with over half (59%) of Brits believing in the paranormal. Other UK hotspots include Bristol, where 12-year old Vvyan Jones from Henbury, broke his arm and for the next two days his hair stood on end. He developed the power to give people strong electric shocks, make lights flicker, watches stop and the TV crackle. Now that’s what you call a shocking excuse for late homework!

If you’re Scottish, watch out for strange happenings in Edinburgh, specifically the Tranent area. In 1997 a phantom lamp lighter began turning on street lamps during the day for no apparent reason — luckily he vanished unharmed, otherwise Burn’s night would have taken on a strange new meaning!

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For those of you not sure whether you’ve ever been to a twilight zone before, Disneyland Resort Paris, with the help of author David Sutton, has created ‘A spotter’s guide to the UK’s real twilight zones’. Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, the information contained in the guide will help dispel any doubts, with an A-Z of twilight zone phenomena, as well as tips on how to enter the fourth dimension and side-effects to watch out for. Drop in to www.towerofterror.co.uk to download your copy!

David Sutton, editor of the Fortean Times and author of this spotter’s guide to the UK’s real twilight zones says, “There are millions of unexplained happenings in our world that can occur anytime and anywhere. This guide throws open the door to the 4th dimension for all to see. It’s a fun starting point for your personal exploration of the UK’s real twilight zones.”

Dr. Kenny Webster, Resident Scientist at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum remarks: “It will come as no surprise to the residents of Birmingham that we live in our very own twilight zone. Birmingham has the youngest population in Europe and it is well recorded that children are highly susceptible to paranormal events, there are many cases of ‘imaginary friends’ in children which are now being attributed by some as ghostly interactions.”

Miguel Piedra, PR Director, Disneyland Resort Paris comments: “We haven’t had anything as odd as frogs falling from the sky in Disneyland Resort Paris, but we can certainly offer everyone the chance to drop 13 floors when they ride The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disneyland Resort Paris — they may even get to enter the 4th dimension!”

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The ‘Spotters Guide to the UK’s Real Twilight Zones’ can be downloaded via the Library of the official Tower-of-Terror.co.uk website here (click the lamp on the left of the screen), a downloadable mini-book with countless fun stories of strange apparitions and paranormal events across the UK. A good idea, not only because Brits seem to have a strange appetite for these kind of mysteries, but because it brings the feelings of the attraction itself a little closer-to-home for people right across the country.

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The guide also reveals the firm who appear to be behind some of the events so far — Cow PR (you can find their website here). Their slogan is “We’re not sheep”, and they promise to not follow the herd when it comes to advertising. “We steer clear of ‘factory-farmed’ PR and look for new ways of getting in front of your audiences,” they say. They’ve certainly achieved that with the Tower of Terror.

No information about the crashed elevator cabin appearing in other cities has been released, however, but given the quality and scale of the “art installation”, it would seem a strong possibility this wormhole into another dimension won’t be a one-off.

Keep your eyes open… you never know when The Twilight Zone will open up again…

— Find more details of the UK publicity campaign here. The campaign is due to officially begin from 5th April. Amongst the plans, the Centrepoint billboard in London will be turned into a giant reproduction of The Hollywood Tower Hotel for four weeks.

Tuesday, 4th March 2008

Rescue lost souls in new online dimension

They were first seen in 1994, in the legendary pre-show video for Walt Disney World’s Tower of Terror. Now, the five souls lost to the fifth dimension have made the same mistake in Paris. All hope is not lost, however, as the final sections of the attraction’s official website have opened to reveal a unique challenge to pluck them from The Twilight Zone. The prize: entry to a prize draw for park hopper tickets.

As revealed in our tour of the new website last week, several new rooms make use of some clever web-Imagineering to bring to life the rest of The Hollywood Tower Hotel. The parts of the hotel you’ve imagined or seen mentioned on the guides next to the elevators, but never seen for real. The five new areas are all found in the upper “floors” of the website, beginning with the Presidential Suite…

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Beginning your adventure, a newspaper appears with the rules of the game and your objective. First: find the lost actress. The photos of the five missing souls can be seen in the top-left of the screen. They’re all played by new actors, not those in the attraction’s pre-show video or ghostly corridor scene, but great care has been taken to ensure they match those seen wandering the Walt Disney Studios Park hotel itself.

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The bellhop makes an appearance in each new location. In the Presidential Suite, dressed in luxurious fabrics with a large bed and atmospheric lighting, he appears just briefly before lightning shoots through the windows and the room is thrown into darkness…

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You’re left alone with the bellhop and a candle, which you then have to wave around the darkened room to find the translucent missing Actress.

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Find her, and another newspaper pops up as her photograph comes to life in colour, the actress smiling at having been pulled from the fifth dimension. Click “next” on the newspaper and you’re taken straight to the next new location…

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The “Makeover Room”, where the bellhop appears to spend much of his spare time. Well, how would he get those muscles pushing elevator buttons? You’re looking for the dashing Actor amongst the antique beauty equipment and exercise bikes here.

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The next location is perhaps the most surprising. Who knew an underground railway ran right under The Hollywood Tower Hotel, with its own service elevator access? The ‘Basement‘, strangely located on the 8th floor, is where you’ll find the Housekeeper.

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Look out for the passing trains, their designs in-keeping with the period, and the advertisements for the hotel along the platform. It’s worth noting that you get only 30 seconds — and one appearance — to click on each ghost and retrieve them from The Twilight Zone. Miss your chance, and the bellhop suffers. At the underground station, he’s taken up into a bright white light.

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The most familiar view is the Central Corridor, which the camera quickly moves along, passing several bellhops and luggage trolleys along the way, as you search for the Little Girl.

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Finally, the Games Room is similar to the hotel’s lobby, with ghosts appearing and reappearing at their tables to check their bingo numbers against those called by the bellhop. You can spot the five missing souls here…

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…and even see the Housekeeper win a game!

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Miss your chance to click on the final missing soul, the Former Bellboy, though, and the entire room — the entire website — collapses on one side, lights leaning to the left and furniture sliding to the side of the room! You’re then taken back to the Lobby, where you can revisit the room for another chance to complete the game.

Once you’re done, submit your details for a chance to win some free park tickets.

Taking visitors deeper into the environment than any Disney website beforehand, the completed site for Paris’ Twilight Zone Tower of Terror not only effectively advertises the thrills, atmosphere and themeing of the new attraction, but builds upon its world. Whilst there’s an obvious limit to how much can — and needs to — be constructed within the ride itself, taking the fictional hotel online has allowed Disneyland Resort Paris to take the concept further than ever before. Now, when guests step inside the real hotel at Walt Disney Studios, they’ll be remembering all of these locations — hidden away, high up in the Tower.

This is Imagineering for the 21st Century.

www.disneytowerofterror.com

Wednesday, 27th February 2008

MTV leads as ‘Twilight Zone’ takes on UK

Living in the UK or France, it almost feels like Disneyland — and The Twilight Zone — are staging a full scale attack on the airwaves. Whilst the major national networks are premiering the brand new “Celebration Continues” commercial from this Monday, last Thursday, 21st February, saw the launch of an exciting campaign across British MTV channels and, earlier, the French M6.

For the first time ever, members of the public — and of course, Disney fans — will have the chance to create the new attraction’s TV advert themselves. This comes following the “leaked” video of a dog being mutated within The Hollywood Tower Hotel’s elevator and the initial launch of the official attraction website.

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MTV channels in the UK began airing a special trailer for the competition last Thursday, featuring presenter Ricky Haywood-Williams wandering the halls of the hotel as he directs entrants toward www.tower-of-terror.co.uk. There are a grand total seven MTV-branded channels in the UK — MTV One, MTV Two, MTV Hits, MTV Base, MTV Dance, MTV R and MTV One+1.

Whilst the short commercials focus on the competition, they also mention to a wide audience all the key points: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Disneyland Resort Paris and Now Open, hopefully sparking interest in the new thrill attraction amongst the important youth audience.

Launched alongside these promos, the “fourth floor” of the official website now features either Ricky Haywood-Williams (for the UK) or Virginie Efira (for France) introducing the competition and its rules. Entrants must create their own home-made videos — featuring all of the required elements, such as the bellhop and elevator — to be uploaded via the website.

The 10 (or 5, depending on which source we believe) ‘best’ attempts will then be open to a public vote between 8th and 12th March to choose the winner, who will win a trip to Disneyland to ride the attraction and see a fully-professional version of their advert made before their eyes by Disney and MTV.

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A similar competition to script a spoken radio advert is also available, in partnership with GCap’s One Network of no less than 38 local radio stations across the UK. Members on magicforum also report competitions to win a trip to ride Tower of Terror on the breakfast show of London’s Capital Radio, also owned by GCap.

The final, professionally-created commercials will be broadcast across MTV and the One Network stations from early April, ready for the attraction’s press launch weekend on 4th-6th April, which will include a belated official inauguration.

BrandRepublic, online news source for the advertising industry, brings us an article about the entire UK publicity campaign, which actually looks to be rather exciting — particularly if you live in London.

In a later stage of the campaign, timed to coincide with the opening of the attraction on April 5, Disney has booked a special installation at the Centrepoint billboard in London.

For four weeks from April 7, the billboard will be dressed to appear like the Hollywood Tower Hotel featured in the ride. An integral screen will show the distorted pictures of people previously generated by the website.

The billboard will be supported a nationwide campaign of six-sheet posters and interactive posters in ten key locations around London.

According to Federico Gonzalez, senior vice-president of marketing for Disneyland Resort Paris, the campaign is designed to appeal to 13- to 15-year-olds through media platforms they engage with.
Gonzalez said: “We are delighted to develop a marketing campaign to attract new, older children to Disneyland Resort Paris. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a white-knuckle ride and we wanted to create a fast-paced, fun marketing campaign to reflect this.”

So, rather than allow this major attraction to be overshadowed by the continuing 15th Anniversary promotions, it appears to be being given a generous publicity campaign of its very own. Something that, in the recent past, has been rare outside of France.

— Are you entering the MTV competition? Let us know on magicforum!

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