Monday, 21st May 2007

Toon Studio: OPEN!

You can hop over to Photos Magiques now and see all 40+ photos of the new land, or stay with us for a guided commentary of the area – the themes, the details and even a few in-jokes…

No Race Rally for guests yet… or proper English

First things first – the attractions aren’t officially open yet. Unless you’re part of a special preview group invited to the park, chances of getting a ride on either Cars Quatre Roues Rallye or Crush’s Coaster are pretty hit and miss. Signs featuring the new Toon Studio logo have been placed at the entrances, similar to those used outside Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast last year.

The entire street between Disney Bros Plaza and Studio Tram Tour has now been enclosed by construction fences for Hollywood Boulevard, and so Toon Studio is currently simply the main through-route to the Studios’ current most popular attraction behind.

Looking through the cosy pathways to Toon Town

But that’s not to say Disneyland Resort Paris aren’t already using Toon Studio to its full advantage – the Toon Studio entrance gate area was already populated by some Disney Characters today, not to mention an impressive crowd of – what look like – fairly impressed guests. Heading toward the gate from the entrance of Cars, the planters and twisted lampposts surround the paths and give plenty of new walkways around the area – very different to the wide open spaces of the ‘old’ Studios.

Characters, scenery, lampposts, planting, speakers, railings and bins…
All the Disney trademarks are covered.

The area currently features two simple photo locations, with backdrops attached to steel frames and canopies over the characters dotted with toon-style lighting. The Incredibles on the left, and a backdrop featuring Mickey’s Toon Town house on the right, both surrounded by permanent orange fences. You can also spot smaller details such as the new blue lamps installed either side of the Toon Studio gates and a familiar abode up in the Toon Town hills – just above Mr Incredible’s canopy, it’s Mickey’s house!

Toon Studio gate and Toon Town street, featuring an out-of-control Goofy

Walking around to the gate itself, we can see the forcd perspective in full effect. This is infact more than a flat backdrop – characters enter the park here for their meet ‘n’ greets – but with some clever design of the 2D buildings either side, it really messes with your eyes to give the effect of a road stretching toward the hills. Off in “the distance” then is Goofy, driving out of control along the street towards us. You can also see details like “Toon Town Skool”.

One detail that seems to bug fans already is that the ‘Toon Studio’ letters point inwards rather than toward the street as would be logical and was shown in the concept art. Remember, though, that the secuirty booth in front also technically faces the wrong direction – this entrance is clearly all for the cameras.

Where there’s good publicity, The Incredibles are never far away

As are the characters themselves, populating the studio throughout the day…

Toon Studio even has its share of irony amongst the in-jokes

…And when they’re done filming for the day, they head off back to Toon Town. A sign on the gate warns of the strange divide between Toon Town and the normal world – “Toons Only Beyond This Point – No Funny Business”. The Imagineers aren’t listening, though, there’s plenty of funny details to be found here…

Toon Studio Security – they mean business!

The security booth is one of them, one of very few theme elements at the Studios that serves no real purpose other than a wonderful piece of placemaking. “Toons check in here – No admittance without pass” the notice reads, with a special ‘Toon Studio Security’ logo and a motorised barrier.

…Although it seems they like their lunch breaks

Inside the booth are even more details, including a new Cast Member costume that looks to be a funny spin on the familiar ones seen at CinéMagique, with brightly coloured buttons and a Donald Duck-styled shade on the hat. It remains to be seen if Cast Members will be lucky (or unlucky) enough to wear these somewhere else in Toon Studio.

No more Studio Catering Co. for the old Ice Cream van?

To the left of all this area development, nearing the exit gate toward Studio Tram Tour, we can now find the old Studio Catering Co. van positioned next to Art of Disney Animation for the past five years. Its old ice cream-themed signage has been removed, however, so might be lucky enough to get a small spin on the Studio Catering Co. concept afterall.

Shooting Shedule – are they teasing us with the empty slots?

And finally, a detail from the very first Toon Studio concept seen up-close in reality, over two years later. The new signage is themed as if painted wood, with a silver bolt on the corner. The Toon-styled hands holding the clapper didn’t make it from the latest concept, but the sign does help to build the idea in guests’ minds that this is meant to be a real Toon backlot, each corner filled with filmsets.

Beyond, Cars Race Rally sticks out of the desert canyon at an angle – an entirely different theme yet perfectly fitting in its surroundings. This area must not only be our dream but an Imagineering dream – anything is possible here. No wonder they left two empty slots on the shooting schedule!

All photos by Photos Magiques. You can see many more right here.

Monday, 21st May 2007

Toon Studio: Almost ready

Being a Saturday, many local fans were already at the park, and got a first-hand look at the soft-opening previews. Like magic, the blue fences were pushed aside with rows of new Toon Studio Cast Members waiting to greet guests – and inform them of no photography, no filming, merci! The invited guests were all families and workers of Imagineering, construction and vendors – though later hours did see a few regular guests allowed entry.

A view to the new Toon Studio, no Flying Carpet required! 

The day also marked the first official use of the new Toon Studio costumes, seen above, made up of khaki trousers, a red jumper underneath a white shirt decorated with sketches of Disney characters, a red baseball cap and finally the all-important Toon Studio jacket – blue in colour, with the new Toon Studio logo loud and clear. Underneath, logos for Crush’s Coaster, Cars Quatre Roues Rallye and Flying Carpets Over Agrabah. The Crush logo appears like that at the attraction itself – a blue and green warning sign – whilst the Flying Carpets logo is also brand new.

Surrounding the area are several signs indicating that the previews are for invited guests only. got a high-quality capture of one, so we can see the land’s new logo up-close…

New logo revealed 

‘Official opening 9th June 2007’ of course, but tha’s not the case for the Toon Studio themed area itself – which has infact just opened to the public TODAY, 21st May 2007, for the very first time. Not only does this give guests a better preview of the new area before its two major attractions open, but it’s now an important route through to Studio Tram Tour.

New path gives a true ‘backstage’ experience

Grandmath on Disney Central Plaza forum captured this photo from next to the Tram Tour last week, showing current progress on the new path which will take visitors from the back of Toon Studio to Studio Tram Tour’s temporary entrance. This now allows work to fully begin on the second – and far larger – placemaking project: Hollywood Boulevard. Tomorrow really is becoming today!

Opening photo by nos77 on DCP; Logos captured by; New path photo by Grandmath.

Sunday, 20th May 2007

They can fly! They can fly! They can fly!

Strangely, it was back on 9th June 2006 that reported the first major rumours for the Animation Courtyard placemaking. Blue colours for the existing buildings, a Sorcerer Mickey statue and – just maybe – some of the characters from Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle overlay to appear on the Sorcerer’s Hat. Walt Disney Studios is lucky – it’s not often Disney park rumours become absolutely true…

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The redecorated Art of Disney / Wendy flies high 

So, here they are! After a break from park life for just over eight months, three of the golden statues from the ‘Happiest Celebration On Earth’ decorations at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom have flown their way right across the Atlantic for a permanent new home at Walt Disney Studios Park. Holes first appeared in the hat last weekend, and the statues were installed overnight on Tuesday/Wednesday the 16th/17th.

Peter Pan and Wendy are held in place by blue supports similar to those at their old home, whilst Tink flies on her own golden spiral, surrounded by stars.

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Peter Pan leads the way / Tinkerbell spirals to the top of the hat 

Of course, according to the various concepts we’ve seen, work shoudn’t end here. The stars, lines and moon should be painted gold and joined by some ‘3D’ golden spirals around the hat like those already trailing Tinkerbell. Shown on both this concept from February and the current Walt Disney Studios map are several other flying statues from Disneyland’s 50th at Walt Disney World. The young Michael is shown trailing Peter and Wendy, whilst Ariel and Flounder float above the canopy by the Art of Disney Animation entrance. Finally, Dumbo appears hovering just in front of the hat’s moon.

Since the current statues were installed on Wednesday nothing else has yet to happen with the project, opening up speculation about whether these further changes will happen. In the first of Grandmath’s photos above, though, a small hole can be spotted in the wall above the word ‘Disney’. A chip in the artwork or preparation for Flounder?

Other preparations nearby can’t be missed…

Boxes of sorcery? 

Some nice new wooden boxes as props? Of course not! They’re hiding the foundations of the Sorcerer Mickey statue, which has yet to make its long-awaited appearance. The ground and plants around this new square planter have all be made ready though, with the position for the base of the statue outlined with an oval in the greenery.

With thanks to Grandmath for the Hat photos and for the statue base photo!

Friday, 18th May 2007

Ink & Paint for Animation Courtyard

Those lines in question would be the new flooring. A distracting checkerboard of black tarmac and grey tiles, the idea seems to have been to break the vast expanse of tarmac in the old land, highlight routes between the attractions and generally give a more campus/courtyard feel. Like the Ink of “Ink & Paint”, it’s all dark colours so far and appears to be staying that way – the same design has now reached right across from Flying Carpets Over Agrabah to Disney Bros. Plaza.

The full extent of the finished makeover was revealed this past Tuesday, when 9-month old fences were finally removed from the area between Disney Studio 1 and the Monsters Inc Scream Scene.

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The removal of the fences must have been a breath of fresh air for the park – finally a little room to breathe and the first step of the final touches for Toon Studio. The next steps were all made clear behind the fences, such as the Sorcerer Mickey entrance statue due in the new planter above. The portion which will house the statue is actually separate to the existing section, allowing another small route through to the current Animation Courtyard without stepping under Mickey’s spark of golden pixie dust. Either the Imagineers are planning for people with superstitions, or they realised the entrance could become totally blocked in the lead-up to parades!

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With the Fantasia hippos now residing along the Studio Tram Tour route, what’s to be found at their old home? Currently, not a lot. But the colourful planting does mix well with the sea of blue, whilst cleverly following the checkerboard pattern of the flooring around it.

As for Animagique, the Studio 3 theatre of the backlight show is still in post production, with fences covering the edges of its waiting area roof as more areas are repainted in the Toon Studio colours of blue, navy blue, pink and purple. No other improvements have been spotted yet, but the fences do encroach quite a way onto the path – more than might be necessary if they’re simply repainting. Can we hope beyond hope those flower beds from the concept art make it to reality, rather than going the way of the quickly-forgotten fountain?

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The clean-up animation department has also been at work recently, adding a few extra touches to a project everyone assumed was complete. Whilst every concept showed the huge billboard façade of Crush’s Coaster with straight, cropped edges, the deep and light blue tones have now been extended across its bordering walls, allowing them to fade out. Unlike animation, the Imagineers could make this change very quickly, and the mural now appears better integrated than before.

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All of this is essentially the work of background artists, with the placemaking creating a better environment for guests to experience the attractions themselves. The background work is clearer nowhere more than at the Toon Studio entrance gate – the one to be used only by Toons of course – which continues to receive more details such as two photolocations, various props for the security booth and finally the “Toon Town” letters in the hills beyond. Unlike the papier-mâché 3D versions at Disneyland in California, their flat 2D design recessed into the “hillside” is also illuminated throughout the day.

Two basic photo backdrops have appeared either side of the gate – The Incredibles on the left (similar to the old podium but with simply a red backdrop) and Mickey’s Toon Town house on the right. A strange backdrop choice for sure, but in Imagineering legend the only “real” Toon Town is that in California. For this reason the Floridian version is “Mickey’s Toon Town Fair” and our (invisible) Parisian version wouldn’t feature his real house. So when Mickey is in Paris and needs the house for a spot of filming, this is his answer. It saves on airplane fuel at least…

So with all this background work almost complete, the Imagineers next need to start laying on the character animation cells for the final frame-by-frame production. Preparing for the characters of Disney Cinema Parade, the land’s conserved parade route path has now been outlined with small metal studs. Not as noticable as the previous filmstrip or the real sidewalks of Disneyland Park, Guest Flow are going to have fun here when the parade is finally re-routed back to its original path…

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And finally, more characters are soon to arrive. Maybe a cheap way of fulfilling the resort’s pledge of “More Disney characters than ever before”, the lighting rigs along the parade route are about to have their posters returned following the storms late last year. A Cast Member sent a photo into our partner site taken from the other side of the parade access gate, showing the first poster to be fixed in place, facing away from the park.

Does it look familiar? Yes, the esplanade posters of Hong Kong Disneyland have made it almost half-way around the world to Paris, albeit in a slightly cropped format to fit the lighting rigs. Expect all of the on-stage rigs to be given their own characters – from Bambi to Mowgli, Lilo & Stitch to… Lumière! Well, when there’s a banner at Disneyland Resort Paris, you can be sure that candlestick won’t be far away! You can see the full set of Hong Kong banners at here.

The only thing left to do soon will be to run the reel, and for this Walt Disney Studios has another small trick up its Sorcerer’s Apprentice sleeve. As confirmed by Kinoo on magicforum, a “Toon Train” will arrive on the Toon Studio lot each morning, with rumours also of special musicians on a small float as the animation stars arrive at work!

Lighting rig photo by P.T.; Hong Kong Disneyland photo by;
All other photos by Photos Magiques – you can see even more here.

Monday, 7th May 2007

Everything points to Toons

The idea Walt Disney Imagineering calls “Area Development” has gone to play in every corner of Toon Studio. Whilst Disneyland Park has been the king of area development for over 15 years – everywhere from Boot Hill to Discovery Lagoon – Walt Disney Studios Park is finally beginning to join in with its three Toon Studio filmsets and the wacky studio entrance gate at the back of the land. Today, it’s all about signs – and they’re all pointing to the Toons.

The long-awaited ‘Cars’ neon was installed a couple of weeks ago atop the Ramone’s House of Body Art-inspired queue entrance. With a shiny red finish and a sleek metallic surround, it looks like a perfect slice of Route 66 Americana. Elsewhere, the neons and studio lighting glow throughout the day, ready to draw people in, whilst more trees have been added just in front of the Cadillac Range backdrop. Because – unlike the rest of the Studios and its loud billboards – this area likes to keep things a bit more hidden, give guests something to discover as they turn each corner…

Turning the corner towards Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, they will be confronted with a billboard – but smaller, more colourful and a key part of the area development. The ‘Welcome to Radiator Springs’ sign looks like it was copied and pasted right out of Pixar’s computers. In the distance, you can see the entrance sign for the attraction has also been installed, reading ‘Cars Quatre Roues Rallye’ in customised, bright blue neons.

As for the electricity pylons, theyve now been littered with studio lighting also pointing towards a Toon – the giant undersea backdrop of Crush’s filmset, so perhaps those electricity wires are almost real?

Sticking with Cars, and the photo below – from – again shows another new sign, but maybe not what we expected. With its dark, rotting wooden facade, the middle storefront always seemed to be a sure location for Lizzie’s Radiator Springs Curios. As the lopsided sign shows, though, Tow Mater has taken this spot! The photo also shows the large collection of new conifer trees in the area behind the land, as well as a brand new gate between Route 66 and the Studio Tram Tour route.

Crush’s Coaster has been receiving a last minute touch-up to its paintwork this week, helping the dark blue rockwork blend better with the brighter side wall thanks to an air-blown gradient.

Here too there are new signs pointing to the Toons. The all-important entrance sign was installed last week, with a small logo and wait time indicator at the top then two pairs of warnings signs below, one in French, the other in English. The information board clearly uses the same style as those at Epcot’s ‘The Seas with Nemo & Friends’.

It’s a small sign for the towering Studio 5 behind, but sources including La Rouquine on Disney Central Plaza forum have confirmed that the much larger marquee featuring Crush himself will still appear, positioned along the queue line just before guests step under the canopy at the side of the studio.

The previously pale yellow building of Animagique doesn’t have any new signage but it does have a blinding new blue colour scheme to point guests toward itself – now with an extra touch of purple to replace the dull red bricks around the top of its waiting area roof. Later photos on show the pillars either side of the entrance (here being painted with a white primer) have actually been repainted in the very same blue as before, where a more contrasting colour might have been expected.

Also strange to note – the Fantasia hippos previously positioned in the flower beds on the right of the building, toward the Monsters Inc photo location, have now been moved to the lawn behind Art of Disney Animation, along the Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic route. The move doesn’t look temporary, so it remains to be seen if they will be returned to Animation Courtyard once the flooring has been completed, let alone what remains of their former flower beds…

But whilst the hippos are gone, something else returns. The look-out tower next to Flying Carpets Over Agrabah – which was recently repainted purple from dark blue – has now regained its fabric canopy and walls.

Finally, we end with the biggest pointer to the Toons of them all – the land’s brand new Sorcerer Mickey statue. We first saw a glimpse of the statue being sculpted in February, and now that the latest issue of Tales from the Laughing Place has shipped, we can get a closer look at the Studios’ fourth Mickey statue.

The Imagineer at work is Valerie Edwards, and the statue should finally appear in its full, golden form later this month, along with a spark of magic flying across the parade route and the host of other golden Disney characters on the Sorcerer’s Hat. So if it looks like everything’s pointing to the Toons right now, just wait ’till June!

Photos 5 & 6 by; Photos 7 & 8 by Kyoto, Disney Magic Interactive; Photo 12 taken from Tales from the Laughing Place; All other photos by Photos Magiques.

Saturday, 21st April 2007

The Toon Effect – More colour, more character

So what exactly does a second gate need? Let’s say… immersive themeing, its own character, attractions to rival those next door and enough to keep you busy for at least a day. Step into Animation Courtyard right now, and the Toon Studio project fills the entire area as if ticking these boxes piece-by-piece around the land.

The entire park is suddenly receiving a huge amount of interest from Walt Disney Imagineering, arguably more than any other Disney Park in the world. When you consider the four new attractions and two completely transformed theme areas they’re working on, it’s good to know that finally, after five years, Walt Disney Studios Park is getting more spells from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice wand than anywhere else.

Of course, much of the improvement (including the recently installed Toon Town backdrop) is still behind fences…

…But no-one can argue now that there’s a definite “buzz” about this second gate – especially not if you’re enjoying the Studios at the same time as countless construction workers…

This video features footage of the hills for the new Toon Town backdrop being lowered into place, with the briefly-presented new area music loop we mentioned in the previous Toon Studio update in the background – first a piano waltz of ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’, then an instrumental track from ‘The Rescuers’. The backdrop serves to not only place Toon Studio within its Toon Town location and cover the ImagiNations Costuming building behind, but also provide new locations for character meet ‘n’ greets along its bordering wall.

So that’s good, that’s it, the area is done. No, not by half – the old Walt Disney Studios Park might have stopped with a wall, but this Studio – for perhaps the first time – has a real trick up its sleeve…

This exciting brand new concept art was first posted by La Rouquine on Disney Central Plaza forum, and shows the expected Toon Town backdrop with its wall and studio entrance gate. A surprise addition, though, is the studio security booth. It was featured on the new map unveiled on 1st April, but with the area still under construction its presence in the final design was questionable – especially with this park’s history.

The wall, gate and archway are all distinctly more “toon” inspired than originally expected from earlier concepts, adding a huge boost of “character” to the Studios. It’s also fun to see that an idea from the very first Toon Studio concept has reappeared (and made it to reality) just in time – the “shooting schedule” board, which appears to give the times for character meets as well as details of the other productions (Crush’s Coaster, Cars, etc) currently filming.

Add it all together with details like the wavy yellow line along the middle of the street, the twisted blue toon lampposts and lots of new planting around this entrance square… and the Toon-y reality of this project is a stunning sight…

Simply a million miles from anything else at Walt Disney Studios Park, the area already exudes a fun, colourful atmosphere in these photos by Alain Littaye. Large planters hide pathways, details are everywhere and – in what could be a groundbreaking first for Imagineering – the reality actually looks more impressive than their original concepts. With Crush’s Coaster, Cars Race Rally and the new Toon Studio entrance area, this is three detail-rich areas in one relatively small space. Yet, thanks to the magic of the movies, it works.

Strangely, the “Toon Studio” lettering on the entrance arch currently faces inward, whilst on the concept – and according to logic – it should face outside of the studio, to the street where Goofy can be seen driving into the distance. An original idea here was for a food retail cart themed to “Goofy’s Catering Co.”, with the back end of the vehicle smashed into the wall. According to the latest word – and indeed to the new park map illustration, this theme is no longer planned.

Some details are still on their way, though, such as the 3D “Toon Town” lettering itself and several lights to fill the holes in the wall, like those seen on the concept above. Beyond this, the area will of course feature some brand new character locations. Mickey Mouse and The Incredibles have been shown in all recent concepts, but Ratatouille is the only confirmed taker for a spot in the new area, due to arrive in-person (or rather in-rodent-form) from 16th June 2007.

The photo above, by Scrooge on Disney Magic Interactive forum, shows the placement of the backdrop and security booth in relation to the rest of the new area, nestled in the corner next to Crush’s Coaster. The large bushes in front of this square, hiding it from guests passing by on “Route 66” outside Cars, can also be clearly spotted.

More hidden “weenies”, as they’re called in Imagineering terminology (like weenies in the distance drawing guests toward them) can be found a little closer to the current Animation Courtyard area. MagicMouse on Disney Central Plaza forum snapped the following photo over the fences a few weeks ago, giving an amazing angle on the new Studio 5. Picture Walt Disney Studios as you remember it, then take a look at this – the “Toon Effect” at its best…

The photo also shows details such as the green metal lamps attached to the dark wooden poles in the area, the blue fence surrounding the Animation Courtyard side of Cars and the light wooden supports for the future Crush’s Coaster entrance sign, which was recently revealed by in an updated piece of concept art.

The effects of the project haven’t just been felt in the new area either. Finally, some major changes to the existing Animation Courtyard have been completed, such as Animagique‘s new blue colour scheme and the new flooring pattern. Interestingly, the flooring directly in front of and surrounding Animagique has yet to be completed, despite this area being re-opened to the public. Concepts and even the new park map have shown new planters and flowers here on the unused overflow queue area, so this could indeed be a possibility for the future.

One thing that’s certain – blue is without doubt still the “in” colour for Toon design. Even the wall bordering this part of the land is ready to receive a coat, just like the extended wall leading up to Crush’s Coaster has. One notable absence of blue, though, is on the new railings surrounding the trees added way back in October. Not only has the railing taken over six months to arrive, but it features exactly the same pale green colour and style as the others around Disney Bros. Plaza – hardly giving an exciting entrance to the wonders of the “Toon Effect” that lie beyond…

And so here we are – less than one month to go until Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally are officially handed over from Walt Disney Imagineering to Euro Disney SCA for final operations tests. With the entire area expected to be complete by 9th June, this leaves exactly seven weeks for the Toons (and their Imagineers) to complete the transformation. They’ve come a long way already, but with an entrance statue to install, a Sorcerer Hat to decorate, flooring to finish and a whole new area to polish off, Mickey had better get working that magic wand…

Latest photos with thanks to Alain Littaye’s ‘Disney & More’ blog, Scrooge on Disney Magic Interactive forum, and Photos Magiques.

Saturday, 14th April 2007

(Video) Flying Carpets over Toon Studio

The life of a Disneyland Resort Paris fan. For the past year, one attraction has become a firm favourite, a must-ride, an unmissable part of every visit – Flying Carpets Over Agrabah!! With the end in sight on the entire Toon Studio project (Walt Disney Imagineering must officially hand over the new attractions to Euro Disney SCA from mid-May), the end could also be in sight for this attraction’s newfound popularity with fans. When you can walk right up to Cars Race Rally, there’s not much need to crane your neck and desperately click away on your camera’s shutter, as your flying carpet swirls around and you begin to regret that ‘Magic Cheeseburger’ from Restaurant En Coulisse.

Heading toward Flying Carpets, there are new things to see and changes to be noticed even before you reach the Genie’s green room, such as the new checkerboard flooring (which still doesn’t seem quite right)…

Or maybe the new lights targeted toward Crush’s outdoor set. Far smaller than the huge lighting rigs on original concepts, these sleek, dark green lights will help illuminate the fresque at night with an undersea glow. Across the courtyard, Animagique is still getting some desperately-needed care and – of course – a new blue colour scheme.

And now, here we are – Flying Carpets Over Agrabah! Ready to go “on set”? We’re not the actors today, we’re the cameramen! Lens focused, shutter finger ready, ready to get your Carpet up high as fast as possible? Here we go…

Full height and our first photo. With just weeks to go, it’s a relief to see work has progressed with incredible speed. Over at Cars Race Rally, you can see the metal frame of the new Flying Carpets-style backdrop, new filmset lights lined up along the turquoise boarding canopy, the “Leaning Tower of Tires” at Luigi’s Casa Della Tires, the Flo’s V8 Café sign awaiting its neons and the dark and dirty wooden storefront of Lizzie’s Radiator Springs Curios. The thick oasis of palm trees block much of the Crush’s Coaster area now, but you can at least see the second tall, green lighting rig and silver queue line railings matching those in front of Flying Carpets.

The general Toon Studio area of course has its recognisable blue twisted lampposts along with new planters marked out, a yellow wall, a grand entrance gate (on the right) and a growing Toon Town backdrop.

On the next swirl of the flying carpet, we look instead to the old Animation Courtyard area and its huge collection of fences. In front of Animagique, a change in the checkerboard pattern can be noticed, creating a zig-zag “sunburst” effect radiating out of the circular edge of the Studio 3 waiting area. It remains to be seen if new planters will be added here, as in several of the early concepts.

Since the canopy and fabric walls of the Arabian viewing platoform have yet to be replaced after the frame was painted purple, a view across to the new attractions is actually a little easier than before. On a close zoom below, you can see not only part of the completed Casa Della Tires storefront but also new lighting attached to the dark wooden poles in front of Crush’s Coaster. Similar, but smaller, blue lights can be seen on metal poles near Cars.

And with that, the Genie has his scene and the ride is over! But now, you can experience the “making of” so many construction updates in the past year with what is perhaps the first video construction update from onboard the Carpets – with all the frantic zooming and twisting to desperately capture a few clear shots. Flying Carpets Over Agrabah will never be the same come June 9th…

Flying Carpets over Toon Studio + Walkaround Tour
Presented in Widescreen Fan-o-Vision
Video by DLRP Today

The video also includes a walk-around tour of Animation Courtyard on 1st April 2007, showing the exact progress of the new and remade land on the first official day of the Anniversary festivities that will launch its new attractions come June.

Listen out in the background, too – hear something different? Yes, that’s the new Toon Studio area loop! A mix of more jazzy music with some laidback piano and lounge, the loop also finally features a selection from Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 along with favourites such as The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast and The Aristocats. More diverse music choices in the mix include The Rescuers and a jazz version of Walt Disney World’s Spectromagic theme! Unlike the old loop, the film scores aren’t always taken directly from their original soundtracks, either – many of the songs are alternate, instrumental versions in a slightly quirky “lounge” style. Some, such as The Aristocats, even appear to be taken from old entertainment productions such as ‘Disney Classics: The Music and the Magic’. The loop first appeared around 30th March, replacing the old, more orchestral loop which was ported over directly from Disney-MGM Studios Florida’s Animation Courtyard. If you’d like to hear more, though, it looks (or sounds) like you’ll have to wait until June – member Kinoo on MagicForum reports the loop has reverted back to the original after these first trials.

Of course, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah isn’t the only angle for Toon Studio updates. As the two attractions have grown above the construction fences, their presence in the land – and across the park – is unmissable, particularly the bright turquoise roof of Flo’s V8 Café, or the round, tiled entrance to the ride itself, seen below receiving some extra touch-ups to its impressive detail and weathering. It’s obvious that, with the June opening of the new area, Walt Disney Studios will suddenly have a huge amount of new icons and detail – not to mention some real themed areas to escape into.

Another angle available thanks to the current construction fence set-up is to try to look as inconspicuous as possible, place your camera on the floor and quickly snap the shutter. From here, we can see some new blue railings around the Cars Race Rally area next to Art of Disney Animation, not to mention a better look at the work going into themeing the canopy of Flo’s V8 Café beyond. In the second photo, paintwork, railings and even posters can be seen in the queue area – a full-zoom revealing the poster advertises Ramone’s House of Body Art, upon which the circular entrance building is based.

Whether you’re a fan or a casual visitor, the impact of Toon Studio on the park – its buildings, its themeing, its icons – is finally starting to be seen from all angles.

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!

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