Friday, 1st June 2007

Tower of Terror key advertising visual revealed!

Here it is!

Along the same lines as the Crush’s Coaster whirlpool and Cars Race Rally route 66 visuals released last year in anticipation of their openings, this is the final ‘Key Visual’ for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror…


Expect to see this in brochures, advertisements, billboards, magazine adverts and more as the build-up to one of the resort’s biggest attraction launch campaigns ever gets started this November and December. Fans might recognise the visual as a reworking of that used for Disney’s California Adventure (below), but the Paris version has an undoubtedly more terrifying edge to it.


Following the style of the Crush’s Coaster and Cars visuals, the image also uses Sleeping Beauty Castle rather than Walt Disney Studios park’s icon, the Earful Tower. Sure to cause uproar again for fans, but for the “simple public” it’s a quick indicator exactly where the world’s fourth Tower of Terror is headed.

Key visual © Disney.

Saturday, 5th May 2007

Hollywood’s fractured façade

The damage and wounds of that fateful night in 1939 are finally beginning to appear all over The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, as construction suddenly hits a lightning pace to depict in full detail the blast of that fatal lightning strike. With the surrounding Hollywood Boulevard street set development set in the timeframe of the 1950s, the Tower also has over ten years of decay and dirt to cover its sandy exterior.

Early April saw the removal of the white tarp covering the front body of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, revealing the progress so far on the concrete behind. Well over half of the Tower, nearing around 80-90%, has now received full paintwork of pale yellow colours, with weathering and dirt on some sections finally turning this to the murky yellow we know from Disney’s California Adventure.

As for those fractures, they’re becoming clearer by the day. The separate right-hand tower is the first to receive cracks and breaks in its faux plaster, all filled with dirt seeping down across the previously clean paintwork. Below this, and at each of the metallic elevator door openings, steel frames have been added similar to those used in the sculpting of the Crush’s Coaster rockwork. These will be covered over with broken and ripped plaster to give the effect that a whole wing of the hotel collapsed into rubble when the lightning hit, leaving the elevator doors to open right onto a 13-storey drop towards the ground.

On the front body of the tower, above the indoor show scenes below, bricks have been built up to give the effect of the crumbled tower, bashed and knocked into pieces to give a real impression of the “blast” of lightning. Eventually, these will be further enhanced with more paintwork and weathering – plus a heavy dose of black and purple soot and dirt. Notice also that the extended room below the brickwork now has a fully finished pueblo tiled roof!

Elsewhere, other parts of the Tower continue to grow. The front tower, with the lowest dome, is finally beginning to grow with a full steel frame and the first additions of final plaster and concrete, whilst the sides of the main tower are now being given their balconies. You couldn’t ask for a better view – though currently the floorless balconies wouldn’t give you much time to appreciate it…

Not everything is dark and scary though, the Studio Tram Tour side of the lobby building is still being given its first coat of yellow paint and, with all of its classic 1930s windows, still looks like a fairly respectible Hollywood location. Even La Terrasse is getting a Hollywood touch-up, finally receiving a fresh coast of white paint (on the right) to prepare it for its supporting role in the new Hollywood Boulevard project.

Finally, two more photos from just this week kindly sent in by Kevin, the same reader who provided us with a look at Lightning McQueen yesterday. As the unseasonal hot, sunny weather gives the perfect climate for our Californian hotel, more progress can be spotted across the building – particulatly with the separate, small tower at the front, which now has a full concrete/plaster shell over one side of its steel frame.

Putting a 183-ft Tower at the heart of the park covered in such high detail was a clever move on the Imagineers’ part – as guests wander around Walt Disney Studios now, they can’t help but almost constantly gaze upwards to the 13th floor. An exciting bit of distraction, until the rest of the park catches up…

And don’t forget, you can see even more of the Tower — including a full archive of over 240 photos from the first blow of the shovel to today — at Photos Magiques!

Monday, 9th April 2007

Press Release & Concepts: 15th grows with new attractions

Gathered in the Hotel New York convention centre, the press were told that “the celebration doesn’t end here!” as the resort proudly announced it’s ‘Phase 2’ of the 15th Anniversary, leading from the June debut of Toon Studio right up to Stitch Encounter in early 2008.

On the proud occasion for this new, more confident Disney resort, a special press release was prepared, detailing the new attractions and providing new insight and comment from Walt Disney Imagineers working the various projects. The release is presented exclusively in full here:

Disneyland Resort Paris 15th Anniversary Celebration Grows
As Walt Disney Studios Park Adds Attractions, Entertainment

MARNE-LA-VALLÉE, France (April 1, 2007) – Disneyland Resort Paris continues the 15th Anniversary Celebration with the announcement of even more attractions debuting at Walt Disney Studios Park in the coming year, marking the largest expansion in the last five years for Europe’s No. 1 holiday destination.

“Walt Disney once said ‘Disneyland will always be building and growing and adding new things.’ And in that spirit, we continue to take his mission to heart by designing, developing and creating new experiences that will make our Resort unique, memorable and, most important of all magical,” said Karl L. Holz, chairman and chief executive officer of Euro Disney S.A.S. “We’ve come a long way, and we haven’t finished yet.”

Among projects that are part of the yearlong celebration:

Walt Disney Studios Park Expands
With Toon Studio, 3 New Attractions

Walt Disney Studios Park grows with the June debut of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally as part of the new Toon Studio. This colorful area transforms the Park’s Animation Courtyard into a lively “studio backlot” that playfully pays tribute to the art of animation.

Crush’s Coaster is the first coaster-based attraction inspired by the Disney-Pixar film “Finding Nemo”. Guests climbs aboard a turtle shell and plunge into the thrilling world of Nemo and his turtle friend Crush, with sophisticated show lighting, sound effects and imaging technology creating a whimsical whirl through the East Australian current.

“Disney has always been known for creative storytelling, and Crush’s Coaster takes immersive storytelling to the next level,” said Tom Fitzgerald, executive vice president and senior creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering. “Imagineers are pushing the boundaries of technology to bring the worlds and characters of ‘Finding Nemo’ to life in incredible, three-dimensional ways.”

Also premiering in June is Cars Race Rally, the first Disney Park attraction based on the Disney-Pixar film “Cars”. Guests of all ages climb aboard for a zany spinning ride on the famous Route 66, created with dimensional movie sets. At each corner of the track, famous faces from the film are waiting to cheer on drivers. As the rocky desert landscape whizzes past and the canyon walls spiral around, your car crosses the finish line.

A third attraction debuts in early 2008 on the Park’s new Hollywood Boulevard — the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, towering 183 feet. Thr thrill ride will dare guests to board a hotel freight elevator — with a faster-than-the-speed-of-gravity drop through 13 floors. Tower of Terror, already a hit at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland, is one of Disney’s most popular attractions worldwide.

“Hollywood Boulevard is a great example of infusing our story into the physical space through a 1950s Hollywood neighbourhood with dimensional movie sets, color and lighting,” said Fitzgerald.

More Interactive Fun — ‘High School Musical On Tour,’
‘Meet The Robinsons,’ ‘Ratatouille’ Meet ‘n’ Greets

The hottest dance moves and the biggest hit songs from one of the Disney Channel’s most popular entainment phenomenon come to life in “High School Musical On Tour,” a new immersive show for the whole family at Walt Disney Studios Park.

Debuting on a rolling outdoor stage June 16 and performing through Aug. 26, a multi-talented team of entertainers brings the students of East High to France for summer vacation, re-creating the world of East High, a place where best friends break into elaborate musical numbers like magic. Theme Park guests may even find themselves shooting basketball or joining in as the whole street turns into a party while great songs fill the air.

Performed in several languages, it’s a showcase of sing-a-long fun that will invite all ages to be part of a new kind of live entertainment inspired by the highest-rates TV movie in Disney history.

Also this summer at Walt Disney Studios Park, guests can meet the characters from the newest animated Disney-Pixar film. Beginning June 16 in Toon Studio, meet the starts of Disney-Pixar’s upcoming animated feature “Ratatouille”: Rémy, an adorable rat who dreams of becoming a great French chef, and Emile, his roguish friend. And this fall in Toon Studio, meet 12-year-old boy genius Lewis Robinson and the mysterious boy named Wilbur Robinson who whisks him away to the future in the comedic “Meet the Robinsons.”

‘Living Characters’ Debut with Stitch Attraction

Utilizing the latest real-life computer graphics animation technology created by Walt Disney Imagineering, a new interactive Stitch Attraction opens in spring 2008 at Walt Disney Studios Park. The attraction lets guests talk, listen, joke and play with the fuzzy, lovable alien first introduced to audiences in Walt Disney Pictures’ hit comedy, “Lilo & Sttich.”

Because of the interactivity and immersion of this new experience, the guests are the ‘stars’ of the production along with Stitch himself,” said Tom Fitzgerald, executive vice president and senior creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering.

As Guests enter the theater, a Space Traffic Controller scans a galactic communications screen for “active” alien traffic. Stitch is quickly summoned to talk, joke and even flirt, engaging the audience in spontaneous conversation. The show is never the same twice — whether Stitch plays his guitar, dances around the bridge of the spaceship or takes digital photographs of audience members. And no matter where guests are seated, Stitch sees and engages them in non-stop banter.

“It’s the latest milestone in Walt Disney Imagineering’s legacy of bringing Disney characters to life,” said Fitzgerald.

All-New Live Entertainment in Disneyland Park

In Disneyland Park, Mickey Mouse and dozens of Disney characters star in the all-new Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, featuring famous dream moments from Disney stories, and for the first time ever, the floats have fragrances that fill the air, matching the themes of each float. Also for the first time, most of the floats have two themes, one on the front and one on the back.

Music is orchestrated and conducted by noted musician Steve Sidwell, who also wrote the music for films including “Moulin Rouge,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “Finding Nemo,” and was recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.

There are even more opportunities to meet classic Disney characters, including the new Disney Characters’ Express, a specially-designed train that carries the stars down Main Street U.S.A. several times daily. Their musical adventure includes time to meet and greet with guests in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and at special locations added just for the celebration.

And each evening, the park will come to life during Candleabration on the forecourt stage, featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and friends in a lively song-and-dance finale with the backdrop of Sleeping Beauty Castle, artfully adorned with delicate sculptures of 15 favorite Disney Characters with shining birthday candles decorating the turrets.

—– End Release —–

The new additions weren’t just previewed with words. Press were treated not only to a special preview performance of the new ‘High School Musical On Tour‘ show, but also to a glimpse at two brand new pieces of concept art, captured and presented to the ‘outside world’ for the first time by our partner site

The first is a key concept for the new ‘Hollywood Boulevard’ project, showing our own Twilight Zone Tower of Terror surrounded by 1950s Hollywood city buildings, littered with neons, billboards and seating and towering high above the streets below.

Anyone following the project from its first preview at the January Cast Member rendez-vous event may recognise that this is actually one of two concepts designed for the area. As we heard from the Cast Member event, this ‘Bank of Hollywood’ street set development was not the chosen design – the design will instead be more “pueblo deco” and “mediterranean” as the Tower itself, as seen on the new park map.

The new Hollywood Hills tunnel entrance to Studio Tram Tour is also missing, though the concept does certainly give an exciting and atmospheric look at the theme and surprising size of the project – and of course, finally, our first real look at a dedicated concept art created just for this project.

It’s interesting to note also that Imagineers are describing this as a “1950s Hollywood Boulevard”, meaning that, at the time this fictional “film shoot” is set, The Hollywood Tower Hotel would already have been closed for over 10 years (since 1939).

Finally, another concept art – and again, the first one we’ve seen for this particular project. Showing Stitch’s invasion of the current Walt Disney Television Studios building, this concept for Stitch Encounter shows the building decorated with a new, more blue and purple, colour scheme, along with a huge entrance sign featuring the loveable alien himself. A satellite dish is featured atop the current tower, looking like something straight out of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.

A new, circular information board is also featured in front of the attraction, displaying times listings for both French and English performances and matching the Art Deco design of the building itself. The Imagineers working on the new transformation must be relieved that the slight whimsy and futuristic look of the Art Deco building already lends it quite an “outer space” style.

Interestingly, the Disney Channel branding appears to have remained – both on the huge projection screen embedded into the building and atop the new times board. Also of note is that whilst the concept shows a ‘Stitch Encounter’ entrance sign similar to the original attraction in Hong Kong Disneyland, the press release simply states ‘Stitch Attraction’, suggesting the final name has yet to be decided.

With all this announced and released just one day after the launch events and premieres for the 15th Anniversary, it all adds up to a huge range of new additions – bigger, perhaps, than the 50th Anniversary of dear old Disneyland USA itself.

Karl Holz said it perfectly – “We’ve come a long way, and we haven’t finished yet.”

Concept art © Disney; Captured exclusively by

Monday, 9th April 2007

Park Maps join the party, reveal secrets

Guests stepping into one of two Disney Parks at Disneyland Resort Paris on 1st April 2007 were met with a nice early-morning surprise. No, not just the surprise that the previous day’s cloudy, rainy weather had changed quite magically to a beautiful blue sky the moment the press premieres ended…

…But also, a new design for the Park Guide maps and entertainment programmes! Gone is Jiminy Cricket’s guiding presence on the cover and in comes the golden “15” surrounded by characters and their candles, the first redesign of the new-style park maps and programmes since their launch on 7th October 2006.

The biggest change at first glance is without doubt to the Disneyland Park guide, which now sports a flashy gold colour rather than its usual pink, interesting since the anniversary is “only” a fifteenth, rather than, say, a fiftieth.

Both guides have also been scattered with confetti and streamers inside and out, though as you can see here Disneyland Park currently has a far larger ’15’ on its cover than Walt Disney Studios Park – you know, just incase you missed the anniversary number on the banners, Castle, parades, Central Plaza stage, Panoramagique balloon and throughout all of the boutiques! The size could also be symbolise that, right now during the “first phase” of the anniversary celebrations, Disneyland Park has the majority – if not all – of the events.

Inside, the old ‘Wishes’ illustration of Jiminy has been replaced by a 15th Anniversary version, but he still most certainly gives his guiding tips for a good day out. As for the maps themselves, Disneyland Park now features a special 15th Anniversary corner box listing the main events, with ‘A’ and ‘B’ symbols on the map showing locations.

For Walt Disney Studios Park… watch out!! That’s the moment we walk slam into the Partners Statue whilst staring, shocked, at the map… which seems more than a little familiar. Yes, it seems the “work-in-progress” edition we picked apart in great detail (albeit in lower quality) wasn’t quite so work-in-progress afterall – at least for now. As an exciting teaser of what’s still to come during the anniversary year, the map design has switched to an early design of the 2008 park – featuring Crush’s Coaster, Cars Race Rally and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, along with the additions of the Toon and Hollywood projects.

The three major new attractions (Stitch Encounter not included, since Walt Disney Television Studios is still currently operating) are even marked on the key for their respective lands, with opening dates listed as “June 2007” and “Early 2008” respectively. Whilst Crush’s Coaster is already listed as having height and physical restrictions (though exact height isn’t given), the restrictions for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are not currently listed at all.

The map clearly is still a “work-in-progress”, the new Studio Tram Tour backdrop not correctly aligned and the street sets in front of it not featuring their final, expected design. Animation Courtyard and Production Courtyard are also missing all of their planters, giving the impression, bizarrely for a park map, of a far bleaker landscape than in reality.

But, for now, it provides a surprise glimpse into the future for all those thousands – if not millions – of guests who will wander across to the Studios after tiring of the party at Disneyland Park. It will also likely help as an apology and reasoning for any guests shocked at the current state of the park, filled with construction walls. Though now until June at least, Cast Members will be answering, on a daily basis, “how do I get to Crush’s Coaster?!”.

It’s worth also pointing out that even though the map still lists ‘Animation Courtyard’, the new Sorcerer Mickey statue clearly has the words ‘Toon Studio’ beneath, and that the map is valid only until 31st May 2007. From 1st June 2007, then, the land should officially be renamed.

Finally, the Programme guides, formerly known as the ‘Entertainment Programme’, have also been updated with the new 15th Anniversary branding – along with the first times and details for all the anniversary events currently bringing the parks to life.

Photos/scans by DLRP Today – maps © Disney.

Saturday, 17th March 2007

Work-in-progress Walt Disney Studios

Today’s edition of the newspaper included a special supplement dedicated to the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Resort Paris. A clever publicity stunt from the resort’s Dutch sales office, it includes details of the aniversary events, articles on the history of the resort, an interview with Imagineers and countless travel offers and promotions for trips during the anniversary year. The entire supplement has thankfully been photographed by the members of, including an entirely unprecedented special inclusion on page 9.

To show the impact of its new attractions on the park, a work-in-progress version of the 2007/08 Walt Disney Studios park map has been printed. As with most new attraction additions, the rough plan has been available to the international sales offices of Disneyland Resort Paris for some time. Almost never before though, has a plan such as this been released to the public. It’s a daring move from the Dutch team, and another bold attempt to really make an impression on the public as the anniversary year approaches.

Disney theme park maps always have to power to allow fans to stare away at them for hours, so a map which gives us a look 12 months into the future? Well, there’s a lot to take in…

(Nr.1) Extra plants between Disney Bros Plaza and Toon Studio, with the first appearance of the Sorcerer Mickey entrance statue! Strangely, Mickey is shown as a gold statue as in the latest concept art we’ve seen, rather than the full-colour statue generally expected. The plinth he stands on also appears to match that in the latest concept, mirroring the blue and stars of the Sorcerer Hat.

(Nr.2) The Sorcerer Hat now features golden stars, stripes and moon with its upcoming golden Disney characters also featured. Dumbo in particular can be spotted below the word “Disney”.

(Nr.3) New planting areas in front of Animagique! These were shown in an old piece of concept art which was uncovered recently (see image on, but their inclusion in the final plans for the land still isn’t confirmed.

(Nr.4) The new, extended “oasis” area in front of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah.

(Nr.5) The colours of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah’s backdrop have been updated and the reverse is now purple.

(Nr.6) Crush’s Coaster. With pink rockwork, a hazy queue line (the pink path leading to nowhere) and a different design to Studio 5, this isn’t the most accurate view of the attraction but should be adequate. The logo is featured above the building to match the rest of the attractions on the map.

(Nr.7) The Toon Town backdrop and new Toon Studio area. The Toon Town hills backdrop features only limited buildings, in the exact design of the steel frames recently erected on-site, and the smiley-faced Sun from the 2007 Resort Map and early concept art doesn’t appear. Two planters are featured, and, though hard to make out, there appears to be a yellow, faux Toon Studio security booth at the “entrance gates” to the backlot – a great touch, if it becomes a reality!

(Nr.8) The ImagiNations costuming workshop is no longer featured at all on the plan, with the corner of a plain building just peeping out from behind the Toon Town backdrop. Curiously, there doesn’t appear to be a clear path between Studio Tram Tour and Toon Studio here.

(Nr.9) Cars Race Rally. The large neon “Cars” sign atop the circular entrance building is used as the main symbol of the attraction, with Flo’s V8 Café next door. The area isn’t particularly detailed – only two turntables are shown, as previously seen in the 2007 Resort Map. We’ll have to wait and see if the final version of the map brings further updates.

(Nr.10) Now we’re onto Hollywood Boulevard/Studio – probably the most interesting part of this early plan. As a sign of its work-in-progress nature, two skyscraper buildings appear to have been grafted in from Disney-MGM’s New York street sets, coloured dark red here to likely show they’re only placeholders for a custom design on the final plan.

(Nr.11) The new Studio Tram Tour tunnel entrance and Hollywood Hills backdrop is shown, but hasn’t been matched up to the rest of the plan yet (the old entrance can still be seen behind). The tunnel appears almost identical to that seen on the fresque inside Disney Studio 1.

(Nr.12) The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror itself. The design appears to have been copied over exactly from the Disney’s California Adventure plan.

(Nr.13) A new street now runs diagonally from Place des Stars to Studio Tram Tour, right past The Hollywood Tower Hotel. The Hotel therefore looks likely to have more of an on-street inner-town feel like Tower of Terror at Tokyo DisneySea, rather than the abandoned hillside location of the Florida version. The iconic fountain has retained its position from California, therefore appearing to make the Production Courtyard side the main entrance to the new attraction.

(Nr.14) And finally, most fascinating of all – their current plans for La Terrasse. It appears there will only be a minimal path through to the Tower from Hollywood Boulevard, with the entire current La Terrasse building now surrounded by the new Mediterranean/Pueblo Deco building described previously, creating a new area surrounded by trees and what appears to be a fountain. An outdoor terrace seating area appears to be featured behind the sets, looking across the street to Tower of Terror. Across the boulevard, the Gone Hollywood storefront can be seen.

The Walt Disney Television Studios and Rendez-Vous des Stars/Backlot Express buildings have also been shrunk compared to the current map, and extra plants and details have yet to be added to Production Courtyard and Toon Studio.

And there we have it. Disney theme park maps are never the most accurate of plans, but this certainly gives a fascinating look at the bare minimum of additions and improvements currently being worked on.

Imagine… in just 12 months’ time this won’t be work-in-progress, this will be Walt Disney Studios Park. Now, that really is a Studio of dreams…

Many thanks to Pantagor and the members of for sharing this plan!

Friday, 9th March 2007

Service elevators and “something”

It was over one year ago now that the first preview of the upcoming attraction was added to the construction site – a giant billboard on top of La Terrasse. Reading “Préparez-vous pour le grand saut! … Get ready for the BIG DROP!” and showing a darkened illustration of the finished Hollywood Tower Hotel, the board mentioned neither an opening date or the attraction’s actual name.

Now, a second phase of preview decorations have been added to the expanded construction walls mentioned yesterday, with a strictly more extravagant Hollywood style. Although, having said that, the new decorative boards which stand out the most are the grimy, rusty Service Elevator doors modelled on those in the attraction itself.

Credit to burne on Disney Magic Interactive Forum for capturing these latest photos from the park.

Taking up two wall sections each, the false doors feature a large number “13” as a foreboding warning, and are joined by large reproductions of the recognisable “HTH” (Hollywood Tower Hotel) symbol on either side.

Several of these “Service Elevators” are featured along the length of the fences bordering Disney Bros Plaza and Place des Stars, whilst between them, separated by three fence sections, are smaller placards displaying a visual of the final attraction and some brief preview text.

In a modern early-20th Century typeface and enclosed within a fitting Art Deco border, the text takes its inspiration from the infamous speech of Rod Serling (or at least the actor portraying him) heard during the attraction’s pre-show video and on board the elevators themselves. Whilst it certainly doesn’t tell us anything new about the attraction, by removing all details of what exactly happened “on that fateful night”, suspense is taken to new heights…

Hollywood, 1939.
Amid the glitz and the glitter of
Hollywood at the height of its golden age, The
Hollywood Tower Hotel
was a star in its own right.
But something happened.

Something dark.
Something unexplainable.
Something terrifying.

And it’s happening once again.

But this time…
It’s happening to you.

Twilight Zone
Tower of Terror

These signs are the very first mention of the attraction’s name within the park – no longer will passing guests point towards “The Big Drop”. And perhaps more importantly, The Twilight Zone itself is very prominently mentioned, finally putting to rest the discussion of its inclusion in the Paris version that has been simmering ever since the new attraction was first announced in January 2005.

The full French name as rumoured many months ago is also confirmed. Taking the style of “Les Tapis Volants – Flying Carpets Over Agrabah“, the official in-park name will therefore be “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – Un Plongeon dans la Quatrième Dimension” (A drop into The Twilight Zone). Try saying that after you’ve just fallen from the 13th floor!

However, in a similar style to “Buzz Lightyear Bataille Laser“, the attraction will be advertised in France with the much more marketable “La Tour de la Terreur”, ensuring the audience understands the concept whilst keeping a quick and punchy title.

For guests wondering what on earth the enormous 183-foot construction is, these fantastically well themed fences (at least considering DLRP’s history in this department) should now provide a vital preview over the next nine months.

Conveniently, they’ve also been added just in time to catch the extra Anniversary guests of April, before then lying in wait for the stampede of newcomers to Toon Studio in June – hopefully giving them all a reason to return when those Service Elevator doors open. Through quite a powerful editing of the text to describe simply “something”, the suspense and tension of The Hollywood Tower Hotel should now be capturing guests long before the January 2008 opening.

Of course, we know exactly what this “something” is, right? We know of the lightning strike, the disappeared guests and the plunging elevator. We all know exactly what happened on that terrifying October 31st in 1939…

Or do we?!

See – the mystery is working already!

Photo 1 by Photos Magiques. All other photos by burne, Disney Magic Interactive Forum.

Monday, 5th March 2007

Souvenirs du 13ème étage

Our last update, back in December, told of the giant crane being removed, elevator doors added and the first signs of weathering. Two months on, and progress has continued at a steady pace.

Almost the entire painted and primed section of the Tower’s behind has now received a dirty smothering of the Imagineers’ ageing and weathering effects, whilst very pale yellow paint now covers the front of the building down to the level of the first elevator opening. Scaffolding has been removed from the highest dome, but scaffolding has instead grown to completely surround the front body of the building. Covered by Disney’s trademark construction tarp, painting and ageing are now being added to the lightning-struck building underneath.

Another piece of painted Tower was uncovered this weekend – Tower Hotel Gifts – the gift shop of the hotel. The side wall of the annex building has been primed with texture and painted pale yellow, with some Art/Pueblo Deco details already visible but more still to come. The small tower that forms the entrance and exit (similar to Studio Photo in Front Lot) has yet to be touched.

It has also been confirmed today that testing of the elevator systems has begun. Recent visitors to the Studios have reported hearing muffled “whoosh” sounds from inside the Tower – without doubt the “faster-than-gravity” vertical drop of the elevators – though currently none of the six doors at the front of the attraction are functional, therefore hiding the tests from view. With such a prominent place right at the heart of the park, these sounds and screams from the 13th floor will be a constant source of activity and kinetics within the Studios.

Finally, forums were buzzing over the weekend with the sight of a small themeing touch under one of the “balcony rooms”. The dark brown Art Deco quarter-circle might not look like much, but it’s an exciting detail simply for the fact that it is totally absent on the 2004-inaugurated California version of the attraction.

Although, it should be admitted that it can be seen in California. The detail was present on much of the original Paris concept art for the attraction, as well as on a computer-drawn preview visual and even on the wall painting seen in the gift shop of the attraction. Obviously somewhere on the way up to the 13th floor, The Twilight Zone got them…

The sudden appearance of this lost detail in Paris blows open the possibility for more changes, tweaks or enhancements to the quickly-constructed California version. Could there be more changes to the design of the Tower, perhaps even the colour? What of the strange back-story involving a disastrous fire told by Roland Kleve back in January? And of course, without doubt, the Hollywood Studio placemaking will give the Parisian hotel a unique and more immersive environment to the tagged-on California version.

We thought we knew it all, but it seems The Hollywood Tower Hotel still has many more secrets yet…

Photo 4: Paris photo by, Others © Disney.

All other photos by Photos Magiques. You can see more here.

Tuesday, 13th February 2007

From 1992 to 2007 – with a hint of Terror

The new 2007/2008 Resort Map comes from this special page on the official Val d’Europe website, which looks at the economic and social impact of Disneyland Resort Paris on its surrounding area after fifteen years of development. Perfectly illustrating the impact, and giving a truly unique gift to fans, is the presentation of two maps showing the resort firstly at its initial state upon opening in 1992, and secondly after fifteen years of development, in mid/late-2007. Even locations such as the Gaumont Cinema and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril have been removed to give an accurate look back at the resort in 1992.

The maps therefore take a different angle on the resort to the usual style, with Davy Crockett Ranch and Golf Disneyland no longer pinned on at the edge but fully mapped out with all their surroundings. Val d’Europe has been updated with far more detail than before, including the bar opposite the RER station and the circular Place de la Toscane, inaugurated just last year, whilst even small business parks and local communes have been added to the plan.

Fans of the Disney side of the resort aren’t left out either – if the sight of the hallowed Tower of Terror on a Disneyland Resort Paris map wasn’t big enough to turn this into an annual holiday, the entire esplanade hub area and Disney Hotels district has been re-mapped to be far more detailed and true-to-life.Compare these maps with the current 2007 version for a look at the improvements, which will hopefully be carried over to the true 2008 Resort Map later this year.

The Tower itself is seen from behind, with a bright red chosen for the roof of its lobby (likely just to add colour to the map) and “The Hollywood Tower Hotel” sign moved to compensate for the angle. The Disney Village parking garage has finally been added, but Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is now absent once again from the map whilst the left wing of Disneyland Hotel has been cut off by Toon Studio.

The page at the Val d’Europe website also features a press release about the developments of the past fifteen years along with several quite spectacular images, perfectly timed, too, for today’s earlier announcement that the Pierre & Vacances-partnered Nature Villages project is still on course.

As Disneyland Resort Paris prepares to face its most important year yet, it’s good to look back on how much has already been achieved…

You can download the maps in large PDF format here.

All maps and photos © Disney. Thanks to Japper on magicforum for the link!

Monday, 22nd January 2007

WDS: Gone Hollywood

It’s no use having that expensive birthday present if you don’t have all the accessories to go with it, right? The Imagineers agree, and have confirmed their plans to turn the unremarkable stretch of black asphalt between Disney Bros. Plaza and Studio Tram Tour into a film set boulevard dedicated to Hollywood at the golden age of the movies. This could be the Nautilus to Discoveryland’s Space Mountain, the Riverboat to Frontierland’s Big Thunder Mountain or the moat and dragon to Fantasyland’s Castle, in its effect of setting the tone and theme to welcome guests to 2008’s The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

The new “place-making” sets will effectively comprise of façades from Sunset Boulevard at Disney-MGM Studios Florida and Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disney’s California Adventure, albeit with the ajoining buildings chopped off to simply give the elaborately themed exterior. The concepts were presented at the recent Cast Member Rendez-Vous event, allowing the following guide to the sets due to be used to be pieced together. You can also see an expanded version with photos of each expected façade at DLRP Magic Guides.

Beginning as if you’ve just stepped out of Disney Studio 1 into the newly transformed park, spot #1 will reportedly feature a Mediterranean corner façade, hiding the existing La Terrasse behind. This Pueblo Deco style will match the current building and the Tower of Terror behind, to which it will also give access. One of several arches in the set will house a brand new tips board (wait time guide) for the park. Based on this information, a search of Disney’s Hollywood inventory brings up “Schmoozie’s” at Hollywood Pictures Backlot as a possible inspiration. Points #3 and #4 will be Pueblo Deco towers, adding to the overall look of the area and helping the 183ft Tower of Terror sit more comfortably in the park.

Across the street, point #2 is the most certain of all the sets, appearing to host a replica of “Gone Hollywood” from Hollywood Pictures Backlot. Strolling further along the new boulevard, a crossroads presents two corner buildings seeming to come from opposite coasts of the US. From the East Coast is #5, reported to be home to a new version of Disney-MGM Studios Florida’s “Villains In Vogue”, a colourful movie theatre façade. Whilst from the West Coast, Disney’s California Adventure, comes #6“Off the Page”, an ornate and extravagant sandy-coloured store façade.

Even more promising news is that the boulevard will come complete with new greenery and foliage to hide the reverse of these false movie set buildings, whilst important elements such as lamposts, palm trees, benches and sidewalks look set to complete the scene.

All of these sets should be taken as a rough guide only, since the boulevard is still over 10 months from completion. It seems certain, though, that the Hollywood Boulevards of Orlando and Anaheim will be plundered for their richest icons to provide the fruits of this placemaking, both to keep the project in-budget and to play safe with tried and tested designs.

What will be brand new, though, is the backdrop of the new boulevard – first, #8, a sweeping backdrop of the famous Hollywood Hills on the current location of Studio Tram Tour’s billboard. Finally, #7 is a brand new idea from the Imagineers – a façade themed to a Tunnel through those iconic mountains, functioning infact as the main entrance of Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic. A similar tunnel has been hidden away since 2002 on the fresque at the exit of Disney Studio 1, and even perhaps since 1988 in Touchstone’s “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”.

Click here for a full walk-through with photos.

With the details have only just announced, no time has been wasted in preparing the park for the large-scale placemaking work, due to officially begin on 29th January 2007. Already, the entrance of Studio Tram Tour has been re-routed through the canopy of the disused Fastpass distribution area, with the entire entrance surrounded just a few days later by a new tide of tall, yellow construction walls.

Then, on Friday, the walls extended to surround the entire La Terrasse area.

This phase of work is scheduled to be complete by mid-May this year, when the entire route will then close. During this time, Studio Tram Tour will be accessible only via Toon Studio and the new path due to be laid behind Art of Disney Animation. Meaning, of course, that the paths of the new Toon Studio area will be open at least 3 weeks before its two new attractions!

Upon entering the parks now, guests are met by fences to their right, for Toon Studio, and fences stretching ahead of them on their left, for this renamed Production Courtyard – Hollywood Studio.

Despite this unpleasant first impression, it finally seems certain that the Imagineers are about to realise one of our greatest dreams from the past 5 years, and in the process elevate Walt Disney Studios to a true Disney experience. So that, by November of this year, it may finally be proud to proclaim…

“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr Disney.”

Map by based on reports from La Rouquine and Kinoo on DisneyCentralPlaza forum; Photos by Joel, Photos Magiques, Kyoto (,,

Monday, 8th January 2007

Building and illuminating three new attractions

Article 4 is a quick look at the two main construction sites at Walt Disney Studios Park, whilst article 5 is perhaps more interesting – a look at the lighting design of the new attractions, in particular Cars Race Rally. Lighting engineer Tracy Eck confirms the small Radiator Springs reproduction will feature “lots of neons”, just as in the Pixar film.

It should be noted that the Tower of Terror story described in article 4 is incorrect – there is no fire, although the pre-show video does show a family entering the Twilight Zone. You can find the true story here.

Series: Backstage at Disneyland Paris (4/5)

Three new attractions this year

To celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris, the park’s teams at Marne-la-Vallée (Seine et Marne) are assembling themselves ready.

For the 15th Anniversary, there are three names to remember. Cars, Nemo and Tower of Terror. The three names of the new attractions of Disney. Confirmed in 2004 as the gifts of a relaunch of the resort, the first two will be unveiled in June with the final following in late 2007 or early 2008. Construction is in progress, and, with Roland Kleve as our guide, we have exceptionally been able to visit two. For more than a year, this tall 43-year old Dutch man has coordinated the works, which requires knowing scores of companies inside and out.

“TOT” as the specialists on the project say (the attraction already exists in the US and Japan), promises some truly strong sensations. “In 1939, this grand hotel was hit by a lightning bolt” recounts Roland, whilst climbing the steps of the 57m high tower. “There was a fire on the 13th floor and a family remains trapped.” Guests are invited to step into one of three elevators. Possessed elevators. “In the US, we built it in metal, but in France this is not allowed” assures Roland. “A blow, since to pour the concrete structure, we had to keep going for 45 days without stopping” he bellows, himself amazed.

Several metres away, behind tall construction walls, a self-contained world is in the process of being made inside the Studios, the second park opened by Mickey for his tenth anniversary in France. Here we find a first, developed especially for France. Crush’s Coaster, from the world of Finding Nemo. Developed with Pixar Animation Studios thanks to a computer generated simulation, it promises to match the love for Space Mountain. “It’s a small roller coaster which hides countless surprises” announces Roland with his particular style. Seated in the shell of a turtle, we pass by coral before diving into the blackness of the ocean, where familiar fish lead you to places where undersea monters lie in wait amongst the wrecks. At the half-way point, the shell begins to spin on itself when, right ahead… drop! This is the key to the ride, and won’t be revealed!

Article: Julie Cloris, Translation: DLRP Today, Scan: Narindra, DCP forum
Series: Backstage at Disneyland Paris (5/5)

She illuminates the world of Mickey

For the 15th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris, which will be celebrated from 1st April 2007, today we conclude our series of profiles on those who, in the shadows, are preparing the festivities.

If there was a department happy with the thick cloud that regularly covers the sky over the theme park resort, this has to be the one. Tracy Eck is responsible for lighting design at Disneyland Paris, in particular one of those who will “theatricalise” the three new attractions inaugerated this year: Crush’s Coaster, Tower of Terror (see the previous article), and Cars. Unlike the themeing, which can be hidden by a grey blanket, thick fogs can be the accomplice of a lighting designer. “They define the lights” smiles the 45-year old American, educated at the Théâtre national de Strasbourg. “In fog, an illuminated neon produces an immediate effect. The only thing which annoys me is when it reveals a beam of light we tried to hide.”

“The most effective and economical lighting possible”

Being a lighting engineer at Disneyland Paris is equivalent almost to being a magician. To have the result without revealing the illusion. Of the 2,500 points of lighting being installed, two thirds will be invisible. For Crush’s Coaster, spotlights, bulbs and filters will go to recreate bubbles and swirls. The auto racecourse of Cars presents the difficulty of being entirely outside. Drawn from the success of the eponymous Pixar Studios, it is in the process of being constructed amongst rocks coloured with hot, ochre tones. “Cars is a gift to light,” exlaims Tracy. “We have specially conceived two large lights, and there will be lots of neons. Radiator Springs has all the charm of the time when Route 66 made dreams. It was the first time you could go from Chicago, my home town, to the West coast of the United States.”

To create this atmosphere, as well as the Art Deco walls lights and chandliers which decorate the interior of the Tower of Terror, Tracy spent nine months in California. “The majority of our materials are European, but some products are coming from the United States. We exchange a huge amount of information, and our data bank is communal for all the Disney parks. We work on the main design, making sure it fits with the time period, and then we study the lighting which will be the most effective yet the most economical.” With 300,000 lighting points, of which 100,000 for parades, they can’t have the bulbs burning out every two months!

Article: Julie Cloris, Translation: DLRP Today, Scan: Narindra, DCP forum

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