Friday, 5th January 2007

Hooray for Hollywood, already?

This surprising news came first from member HTH2004 on Disney Central Plaza forum, who reports that the Production Courtyard placemaking project will begin on Tuesday 9th January 2007 (yes, next week!) with the addition of extra construction fences either side of the future boulevard and around the Studio Tram Tour station.

Between Disney Bros. Plaza (outside Disney Studio 1) and Studio Tram Tour, the small boulevard currently features little more than some plants, asphalt and food kiosks. The new plans, due to be completed as early as May 2007, just before Toon Studio opens, will see several new sets and facades lining the area and replacing the La Terrasse seating area, providing a true Hollywood entrance for the Tower of Terror. Then, in around October 2007, a second section between Place des Stars (Stage & TV Tour) and Armageddon: Special Effects will be worked on, we can presume providing some of the Tower’s infamous overgrown gardens.

WDSFans.com provides an aerial guide to the work below, whilst the second photo shows the Hollywood Boulevard of Disney’s California Adventure park, of which the Parisian version is said to be a smaller cousin.

Also on the French-speaking Disney Central Plaza forum, Grandmath reports the new boulevard and La Terrasse area will feature 23 trees, of which 5 will have been relocated from elsewhere in the park. The giant palm trees, such as those in front of The Hollywood Tower Hotel itself, however, are reportedly going to be false, both to ensure they survive the climate and to keep the forced-perspective of the building in check.

When the park is ready to expand further beyond the Tram Tour, the boulevard is expected to be extended into a full street. Until then, what will fill the end of the boulevard has not been confirmed. Details suggest work will be done to the area in front of Studio Tram Tour, suggesting a new backdrop similar to that at California Adventure could happen – perhaps with the Tram Tour entrance taking the place of California’s Hyperion Theatre. But as always, for now, nothing is confirmed.

What does appear to be confirmed, however, is that all these dates are absolutely true. Raptor1982 of WDSFans.com reports live from the Studios today that the trees along the path have all been dug out, ready to be removed. This not only confirms the placemaking work to be starting very soon, much sooner than expected, but suggests it will be fairly substantial in its impact on the area. Now let’s just hope they don’t give up half way like Toon Studio, eh?

DCA Hollywood Pictures Backlot photo by Joel.

Wednesday, 20th December 2006

Deck the Tower!

First, scaffolding and the metal supports around the left-hand outcrop of the Tower were removed, revealing its colours and an interesting metal panel. Like the right-hand outcrop, this is yet to be finished underneath, with a final finish and false art deco supports still to come.

Art deco panelling has also spread further across the front of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, some of it with paint and some of it adding fine art deco details such as the small decorations on the panels of the tallest dome tower. With the main shell of the Tower complete, the final of the two towering cranes has now been removed.

The most interesting development recently has been the start of weathering and ageing on the back of Tower. Whilst it was believed this would begin with the final coat of paint or plaster, the first details of dirt and grime have appeared with the Tower still in its pale yellow state, a long way from California’s (Disney Studio 1-style) deep yellow. Whether this could be the final colour, or it is simply the first step in a long colouring process is still unknown.

More major progress slid into view earlier this week when, for the first time, elevator doors were spotted on the openings of the Tower. Disguised by themeing in the final design, these modern elevator doors slide open to reveal the vista into the 5th Dimension to riders of the attraction, before they plummet a second time into the Twilight Zone.

Some openings have thick wooden supports blocking the hole, whilst others are open to the elements and showing off the new doors. With almost exactly one year to go until the grand opening, this marks the very first visible “operational” part of the Tower’s many ride effects and systems, though the doors won’t begin full automatic operation for some time yet. In a similar way to fans watching the launch of repainted rocket trains before Space Mountain: Mission 2 blasted off, fans in California followed every second of the elevator doors’ movement as the attraction entered testing. So prepare to watch this space in 2007…

Photos 1-2 & 6 by Kyoto at DMI, photos 3-5 by thebatman_1 at MagicForum

Thursday, 23rd November 2006

Topping-out the Tower of Terror!

The event took place earlier today, with the dome lifted from the backstage area behind Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic to the top of the tower and fastened in place to several vertical metal fixings which have been visible for several months. The dome is actually only the first of three to be used in the design of the Pueblo Deco Hollywood Tower Hotel (the design used by California and Paris). The second is located on the front-left of the large showbuilding whilst a third sits atop the Art Deco tower at the front of the construction (which is currently still a black metal framework).

Further progress elsewhere on the Tower has also been made in recent days. Surprisingly, scaffolding has now been fully removed from the right-hand balcony section at the top of the tower. Whilst this section is now sporting pale yellow paintwork and a darker trim on the faux pueblo tiling, it still requires much more work before completion. The base of the section, which juts out from the tower’s tallest point, is clearly unfinished, and the entire section is still in need of weathering and ageing to give it a colour and effect similar to the darker, more sinister finished design.

The advancement of primer and early paintwork across the entire left side of the building has continued, with a large portion now under the wrapping of white sheets, suggesting more intense work is now starting on the detail and finish of the walls.

With the dome in place, colour arriving and details still being added, the Parisian tower is beginning to resemble the finished design quite spectacularly.

All photos above from www.lesamisduvaldeurope.com via TheOneWhoKnew at Disney Central Plaza forum.

UPDATE 26/11/2006 23:14GMT:

The domes didn’t stop there! Over the following 24 hours, the final two domes were lifted and fixed into position on the future Tower of Terror, completing the trio.

Remarkably, the small art deco tower at the front of the building which supports the third dome has yet to become any more than a simple metal framework!

Also since the last update, some news which I’ll quote from WDS Fans:

La Terrasse: That’s a Wrap?

The concept of a small number of false Hollywood facades in the space between Disney Bros. Plaza and Studio Tram Tour has been rumoured for some time, but now new plans are also calling for the demolition of La Terrasse, to make way for a true Hollywood entrance for the Tower of Terror.

La Terrasse is the partially covered seating area in front of the Tower of Terror construction site and is located right at the heart of the park, open from Day 1 as an outdoor dining area and a teaser of things to come. If green-lit, these new plans, confirmed by Kinou on the WDS Fans magicforum, would transform this area with a small series of “movie set” Hollywood façades similar to those seen in Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disney’s California Adventure park.

Latest photos from thebatman_1 on MagicForum.

Saturday, 18th November 2006

Cut & paste terror continues

Well, I can’t be sure, but it’s probably a bit more complex than just finding the right pieces and sticking them onto the towering concrete mass. Either way, it’s fun to see an Imagineering creation literally come together like a jigsaw puzzle of architectural details.

The front of the Tower is now following the same pattern of construction as the rear, with new white moulds being added to create the details of The Hollywood Tower Hotel. Whilst the vertical white cladding was added a few weeks ago, a new, jagged white section has now appeared at the very top of the building, which will eventually be part of the faux tiled roof.

The left of the building has progressed the most in recent weeks, with some true art deco details of the final attraction already clearly visible, matching well with the existing details of the “Toilets of Terror”.

The magnolia back of the Tower is still shining brightly in the Winter sun, far from the weathered, beaten look of the final design. More jagged faux roof sections can be seen here, the lower section of which was recently given some odd dark brown colours that don’t seem to quite match up yet.

Finally, in an homage to the Imagineer’s cut and paste Parisian creation, here’s a full cut-and-pasted round up of the current state of construction compared to the finished Californian product…

Photos above by Joel’s Photo Hunt, photos in the “Cut & Paste Guide” by Kyoto, Wikipedia, DLRP Today, Joel and J. Thaddeus TOAD (for photo credited unknown).

Wednesday, 25th October 2006

Mapping out The Twilight Zone

Despite the size and importance of this project, Euro Disney SCA remains silent – no hype, no press releases. So whilst at the moment we can happily see the Tower progress day-by-day with more details, more concrete primer and more false windows, the resort is preferring to keep quiet, likely for fear that the attraction will steal the spotlight from the Toon Studio attractions and new parade premiering before it. The small billboard in front of the construction site doesn’t even mention the name of the attraction.

Recently, however, a special flyer was handed out backstage to Cast Members giving a preview of the new attraction, including a run-through of its legendary story and some precise details about the design. According to the flyer, the height of the tower from its base to the top of the highest dome will be 55.17 metres, or 181 feet. The maximum vertical speed of the elevator shaft cars is an astonishing 31.6 metres per second, with ride cycles lasting around 4 minutes. If this wasn’t enough of a preview, a never-before-seen (at least in this detail) concept plan of the entire building was featured, now uploaded by WDSFans.com to its growing Walt Disney Studios Concept Art database:

The biggest mystery of all about the project, and one that still hasn’t been solved, is the opening date of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Announced in January 2005 for an unspecific “2008” opening, rumours later spread that an earlier opening of October 2007 could be on the cards, pushed by Euro Disney SCA’s commenting that the attraction will open in “Financial Year” 2008 – ie. anytime from late October 2007 onwards.

This month rumours have changed again, this time pointing back towards 2008 and a more specific January opening, allowing the opening to be separated from the popular Christmas and Halloween seasons. Is there any proof of this? Well, it seems there could be – the 15th Anniversary preview trailer released a few days ago features an interesting disclaimer when Tower of Terror appears on-screen: “Ouverture début 2008” – Opening Early 2008. But now a new mystery – is that the year 2008, as in January, or the financial year 2008? Considering the video is destined for travel agents, cast member previews and other non-business or financial areas of the resort’s workings, it looks like this could be the first step to finally mapping out an official date for The Twilight Zone’s arrival.

You can see a large scan of the building plan at WDSFans.com »

Friday, 13th October 2006

Deep blue paint and extra detail

Starting at Toon Studio, after a modest start with the paint tests one week ago, the painters have truly splashed out. Since the photos below were taken, one entire wall of the massive showbuilding has been given its first coat of vibrant blue paint, which does indeed appear to be almost the same shade as the iconic Sorcerer’s Hat and definitely a deeper and more intense colour than that seen on the original concept model.

The curved edging around the building’s Studio 5 placard has also been given a spot of paint, the pale yellow colour obviously chosen to contrast less with the deep blue soon to appear below and blend nicely with the very vibrant yellow on the placard itself. The Disney-style number 5 itself has even been included, gaining a sky blue colour. It is still unknown whether Studio 3, Animagique, will follow Studio 5 and replace its current placard with a Walt Disney Script version.

A ray of sunshine from high above The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror gives us a good glipse through the netting on its towering scaffolding rigs. What was previously a bare concrete shell has been quietly gaining more and more detail.

Indented edging around the top of the building supplies the essentials for its terracotta tiled Pueblo Deco style, whilst right-angled blocks either side of the windows already give a discomforting, foreboding, Hollywood edge to the design.

All photos by Joel, more available here.

Tuesday, 10th October 2006

Everything’s peachy at the Studios

Starting as every budding starlet does, on the Place des Frères Lumières in Front Lot, the refurbishment of Walt Disney Studios Store is progressing well. A few weeks ago the huge boutique was repainted in a basecoat of grey, but now its trademark yellows are beginning to return and, so far, they seem a shade or two deeper than before. There also now appears to be more contrast and detail between the different areas of paint, with the arches in the side walls receiving a darker yellow to the pale edging. Repainting has also been going on outside the park gates, across the canopy of Studio Services.

Further into the park, at the Tower of Terror construction site, everything seems to be going, ehm, “peachy” with the installation of fabricated windows and window frames across the front of the tower, whilst scaffolding has grown up around both sides of the main showbuilding as more details are added. The concrete panels already in place on the back of the tower, to give more detail and relief to the design, are now making their way up the sides of the tower.

At the back of the tower, the peachy base coat has now been applied to almost all of the bare concrete, giving a slightly more pleasant look to the imposing construction. The lower concrete building at the back of the tower, housing the large power grid needed to operate the tower and its three high-power elevator shafts, has also been given the same basecoat along with extra art deco touches on its corners. Eventually, the entire Tower of Terror will gain a colour more akin to that seen in Front Lot above, although with a few extra scorch marks…

As for the opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, nothing at all has been confirmed. In fact, apart from the small billboard in front of the construction site, Disneyland Resort Paris seem to want to pretend it’s not even happening. Why for? Well, with even only a vague opening schedule rumoured, people are more likely to visit for Toon Studio in June 2007, rather than wait a little longer for the fully expanded Walt Disney Studios experience.

The theme of prolonging things has spread further recently, though, since current favourite rumours indicate previews of the attraction in late 2007 and a January 2008 official opening. This would mean the attraction won’t clash with the popular Halloween and Christmas seasons, nor will it’s opening come too early in the timeframe of the 15th Anniversary year. With a large number of people traditionally booking their Summer holidays in January each year, could they be booking themselves into a visit to the Hollywood Tower Hotel instead? It’s possible. But then, so could be an opening of January 2208 at this point…

Photos by Photos Magiques / WDS Fans.

Friday, 11th August 2006

Future production construction

Starting with Toon Studio, Cars Race Rally still remains a huge pit on the spot of the two pairs of turntables. The size of the pit, however, is quite impressive – it seems to be almost as deep as the JCB digger is high! The latest photos show the tarpaulin cover is still lining it – the next step from here should hopefully be concrete foundations poured. Over at Crush’s Coaster, work is still speeding along at EAC-speed, but since most of the ride is now hidden by the huge concrete walls, not a lot can be seen. The walls themselves have also continued to grow, with wide concrete sections being added along both the Flying Carpets and front sides of the coaster building. Some kind of steel supports are currently lying next to the outside dip, probably to be used on the sections of the building where the track leaves and re-enters, which are currently very wide gaps in the huge concrete wall sections.

Over at Tower of Terror, the most visible work is still going on at the rear, where the painters have now covered almost the entire surface in pale paint. A closer look reveals this work has also added texture to the bare concrete, an important element in allowing the Tower to look old and unloved. It’s unconfirmed when we’ll start to see the final paint colours added, but with another three sides still to be prepared for painting, we’re probably in for quite a wait. Take a walk around to the front of the attraction, though, and more progress can be seen right now. In addition to the concrete shell of the lower showbuilding edging ever nearer to completion, the last 24 hours have seen the wooden frames in the elevator openings at the front of the Tower finally removed!

You can see some of the latest Toon Studio photos here, whilst Tower of Terror photos from earlier this week can be seen here. Information sourced from these photos plus french Disney Central Plaza postings.

Monday, 24th July 2006

Yellow terror, or white?

The front (show scene / boiler room section) of the Tower has risen further and is now nearing its peak, whilst more details and basic themeing touches can be seen all over. The protruding concrete columns on the back of the tower give extra relief and style, along with the first windows which have now been fitted. The front of the Tower already gives a strong Hollywod feel, with the bare concrete shells of the smaller buildings already featuring many basic art deco touches in their design.

Photo above available with more at DLP.info.

Thursday, 6th July 2006

Adding more Terror to the Tower…

In addition to the vertical white cladding fixed onto the back of the tower to give the finished building more depth and detail, preparations for the dome on top of tower have begun with the addition of a circular steel base frame.

Windows on the back and lower front of the building have been enclosed by the concrete interior walls and even a small section of paint testing has begun on the walls surrounding the attraction’s power grid at the rear of the construction site.

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