Tuesday, 6th March 2007

Progress in pictures at Toon Studio

Beginning with the familiar view over Cars Race Rally, something here will catch your eye as interesting progress. The whole area has suddenly become surrounded by large wooden poles and posts of various sizes, most surrounding the ochre desert rocks. Though we can’t be sure if they’ll remain this size, they appear to be ready to act as path barriers and to help restrain the extra greenery due to arrive in this area, eventually forming a large natural sheild around the canyon from the courtyard outside Animagique.

However, a series of far larger poles could have a different story. Roughly bordering the future Route 66 leading from the Crush’s Coaster entrance to the far edge of the Cars area, their height gives the impression of large telegraph poles, a common sight along Route 66. Though perhaps currently, at least, their vast height is too large even for this when compared to the miniaturised canyon below. We’ll definitely keep you posted on this one. (oh yes!)

The poles even appear to tower above the Toon Town backdrop, seen above, which has now added a few more metal frames to its collection. These will eventually be the supports for various buildings in the faux environs of Toon Studio.

A few short steps and there’s even more progress to see, this time with paint and primer. Paint, for the side wall of the Crush’s Coaster dark-ride building. After the installation of the stunning “fresque” early last month, the wall to its left has finally received colour, leaving only the longer section of the building, to its right, without its ocean blue finish.

The primer is, of course, for Disney Studio 3. After several months of “will they”/”won’t they”, the front wall of the Animagique theatre was finally wrapped in scaffolding late last month and has already lost its classic yellow to a fresh coat of white primer. The building will almost certainly be repainted in the same blue as Art of Disney Animation and Disney Studio 5, completely tying the land together in a single, different colour scheme. No signs of work on the rear wall facing Front Lot have yet been reported, and, since blue here would throw off the entire park entrance, it’s safe to say this will remain yellow.

Now, whilst not an incredible step in the transformation of the land, it’s nice to see that the new planter in front of Art of Disney Animation (added last October) has now received some extra plants amongst its tall, stylised trees. No signs of a barrier around the planter yet, though this will perhaps be added along with the Sorcerer Mickey statue and his arch of stardust.

Time for the most major part of our update today – a unique look at the rapid progress made on Cars Race Rally recently. Specifically, the queue line buildings and boarding area. The photo above shows the circular entrance building with the pistachio-green Flo’s V8 Café canopy on the far right. Concrete flooring and queue line barriers can already be seen, and some very traditional Route 66 tiles have already been applied to the bare concrete of the circular building.

Finally, two photos exclusive to DLRP Today from Photos Magiques! Over the temporary fence next to Art of Disney Animation, the zoom lens focuses in further on the queue and boarding area, giving a very first look at the more industrial, “backstage” area of this Pixar “film set”. To familiarise yourself with the layout of the attraction, take a look at the map here.

In the first photo, one of the two boarding areas and the ride’s main control booth can be seen. The boarding areas will be used to group the correct number of guests ready for the two pairs of turntables, and the gas station themeing of Flo’s V8 Café can already be clearly seen. Rounded concrete footers and gas pump-themed supports will enclose guests, whilst the booth is themed somewhat like the pay kiosk of a Route 66 filling station. Buttons and control equipment can already be seen inside.

The second photo turns the lens as far to the left as possible, with the attraction entrance and Radiator Springs storefronts directly ahead. Upon entering the queue, guests will walk through several indoor corridors inside these “film set” buildings, before then stepping outside to this “backstage” canopy-covered area. The bare concrete form of the paths can be seen, and many of the queue line railings are already in place.

All three of these photos also show the height difference very clearly – once out of the higher entrance building, the paths lead down a small gradient into the Flo’s V8 Café boarding area seen above. This adds not only to the effect of the “canyon” ride area but to the general immersiveness of the entire Toon Studio area.

So much progress from every angle! And all in a park named after the champion of progress, Mr Disney himself. The themeing seems on an entirely different level to the rest of the current park, taking you into different, foreign lands, and they’re still not done! The next few weeks should see even more construction walls descend on the land, as the tarmac flooring is replaced with a more “Disney” alternative and Flying Carpets Over Agrabah receives a long-awaited, three week refurbishment.

And so, to end, a photo dug up from the WDSFans.com archives, taken little over one year ago, that truly shows the power of progress…

Click Here and remember what we’ve left behind!

All photos by Photos Magiques. You can see the full collection here.

Sunday, 11th February 2007

Conjuring up astonishment: Toon Studio revealed

After a Winter break so long that all confidence in the project was beginning to be lost, this beautiful new concept without doubt restores all hope in Toon Studio, the park, the resort, the world of Disney and maybe even the universe!! Apparently it shouldn’t have been released so soon, if at all, but now that the artwork is out in the real world, this is surely nothing but superb publicity for the resort and its 15th Anniversary. Take a deep breath before you look – the transformation is astonishing. From drab asphalt and uncomfortable yellow buildings to a unique, memorable and magical Disney land – and best of all, this looks like the closest concept art to reality we’ve seen yet.

Not only are the colours and design of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally at the back of the artwork spot on, but the new blue and pink colour scheme of Art of Disney Animation is also finally shown in true-to-life form, suggesting, perhaps, that the rest of the artwork may also make it all the way from sketch the reality!

Toon Studio Revealed

If a picture speaks a thousand words, a piece of concept art says a million and one – so let’s take a point-by-point look through this revealing new concept and see things we know, things we don’t and things we never would have dreamed of, a few months ago…

1 – The lines, stars and moon of the Sorcerer Hat all painted gold, as rumoured earlier and confirmed on the 2007 Resort Map. They have also been joined by extra gold lines, spiralling out of the hat to give a 3D effect to its design.

2 – Peter Pan characters (Tinkerbell, Peter and Wendy) circling the Hat from Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle.

3 – Extra characters we’ve never heard about before! Ariel and Flounder from The Little Mermaid above the canopy around Art of Disney Animation, and Dumbo and Winnie the Pooh on the Hat itself.

4 – The repaint of Art of Disney Animation continued around the entire building.

5 – The pistachio-coloured canopy of Flo’s V8 Café at Cars Race Rally, with a relocated Studio Catering Co. van in front.

6 – Crush’s Coaster

7 – Sorcerer Mickey statue. The bolt of magic coming from his wand can finally be seen, sparking out of the wand and then reappearing on the opposite side of the entrance to fall to the ground in the new planter. Strangely, the statue is entirely gold, whilst all other concepts have shown a full-colour red and blue statue.

8 – The recognisable lines and stars of the classic Sorcerer Hat have been translated to the blue base of the statue, and also appear on new decorations across the metal lighting rigs along the parade route, giving quite a stunning and consistent theme effect.

9 – Finally, the “Toon Studio” name itself!

The majority of these changes and additions are scheduled to take place from next month, though it remains to be seen how many of the new details will make it to the final design. The entire project will be completed with the June opening of the renamed land’s two new attractions. From the looks of it, picking up Yensid’s wand was the best decision Mickey ever made. It may be sorcery, but soon – the magic will be real.

Concept art (C) Disney.

Saturday, 10th February 2007

Sculpting Sorcerer Mickey!

The statue is shown being sculpted by an Imagineer in a full-page image, with a coloured concept art opposite giving an impression of the finished product. The statue is large, very rounded and depicts Mickey pointing his wand into the air – which rumours persist will be followed by a trail of gold stars leading across the parade route and into the planter outside Art of Disney Animation.

The preview for the article reads: “Tooning Up: A sneak peek at the new Toon Studios that will debut in June at the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris with the executive producer Corey Sewelson;”

This marks the fourth statue of Mickey to be featured in the park, after his appearances at the Front Lot “Fantasia Fountain”, Disney Bros Plaza “Partners Statue” and miniature Art of Disney Animation Character statue. It will be installed at the park sometime in March, serving as a grand entrance for Toon Studio, with the name itself featured on the blue stone base below Mickey.

The first page of the article also features a previously unseen piece of concept art for Toon Studio, focusing on the Animation Courtyard side of the area. It shows not only the entrance statue, but the Peter Pan figures flying around the Sorcerer Hat, extra planters, beautified flooring and even a fountain in front of Animagique!

Look out for larger versions of the images featured in the article here and on www.wdsfans.com within the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 2nd January 2007

Agrabah’s new oasis finally unveiled

The area in front of Flying Carpets was earmarked for a series of desert planters at the opening of the park, but due to budget restraints it took until 29th July 2006 and the start of the epic Toon Studio place-making project for the extra greenery to become a reality. Now, exactly five months on, the first fully-finished fruits of the project are open for all to see, enveloping the carpets in a tropical, palm tree oasis and creating a new example of the classic Disney “weenie” effect seen with Disneyland’s original Astro Orbitors, Tokyo’s Space Mountain or Paris’ Big Thunder Mountain.

Walt and his Imagineers always referred to these landmark icons as “weenies” since guests are drawn to them as a person is drawn to a weenie (sausage) on a stick. With these tree new “islands” of palm trees, brown railings and luxurious arabian lamps, the effect is that guests still see the Flying Carpets – but not quite enough. And so, they’re drawn to this corner of the land for a closer look.

The sandy-coloured flooring has also been expanded, joining the regular black asphalt with a curved “spill-over” divide. Some sections have yet to be finished to the regular Disney standard, since plans for the place-making project (now postponed for several weeks) call for the entire land’s flooring to be re-laid.

The arabian lamps feature coloured glass in three colours – green, red and blue, and are clearly inspired by similar lamps at the Floridian version of the attraction or at Disneyland Park’s Adventureland Bazaar. More lights have also been installed in the soil of the planters themselves, facing vertically upwards to illuminate the palm trees when night falls.

The planters leave a large space free near the entrance and exit of the attraction, a busy section of the land, but generally help to (unfortunately) exaggerate the work still needed for the rest of the land, particularly the sparse area in front of Animagique.

After discovering the oasis for the first time, it feels hard to remember what the area was like before. That is, until a single glance at photos from as recently as April 2006 makes it clear the striking effect three simple, lightly themed planters can have. Building sets just for a camera is all about simplicity, and, with a perfect budget to do “simple” (the entire place-making project is rumoured to cost just a few million Euros, small change in Disney Park terms), the Imagineers have made it an art.

Thursday, 28th December 2006

Animation placemaking still drawn-out

Rumours have been circulating for a few weeks now about the huge delays with the placemaking project, with what was supposedly a one or two month job now due to be drawn out (excuse the pun) well into 2007. Some cite the new flooring as the problem, being insufficent to withstand time and weather when laid down to cover the current asphalt.

Whatever the reasons, the fences next to Art of Disney have been removed as a temporary measure over the park’s busy Christmas season, and should be returned to their places early next year to (hopefully) allow work to continue. For now, we can get a sneak preview at the initial impact of the project, separating the land from the rest of the park and joining it together with a clear, noticable theme.

Strangely, although the Art of Disney Animation section features no barrier to stop guests walking over the dirt, fences have been added around the palm tree islands of the Flying Carpets Oasis. Though their design is hard to make out from the speedy aerial view of the Flying Carpets themselves, they do not initially appear to have an Arabian theme like the lamps installed above.

Today, ‘rocknroller’ on the French Disney Central Plaza forum reports the Oasis area has been opened to the public, comprising three “islands” of palm trees and extra planting. Photos will be available soon.

All photos by Grandmath, Disney Central Plaza forum.

Monday, 13th November 2006

Still an Art of Disney?

First things first – when you see the “new” Art of Disney Animation for the first time, it’s truly bizarre. Infact, I can’t think of a single other instance when a landmark Disney building has had its colour scheme so drastically altered, it’s like painting the castle… well, blue. Disneyland California’s rusty Space Mountain springs to mind, but luckily it’s not that bad.

Stepping onto Disney Bros. Plaza with the new Studio 5 in the distance, you immediately begin to realise the thinking behind all of this. The major problem of Walt Disney Studios, and the key thing this “placemaking” work is actually trying to address, is that guests just can’t differentiate between the lands. Backlot stands out due to its industrial grey image, and Front Lot is separated, literally, by Disney Studio 1. The rest of the park (as much as we love it), though, merges into a giant mass of yellow buildings, large entrance signs and lots of asphalt.

So, in addition to new trees creating a dividing entrance, a drastic new colour scheme for Toon Studio seems obvious, and the first results are quite pleasing, especially against the nice ochre Autumn trees…

The old yellow animation mural perhaps looks out of place against its new blue surroundings, but the pinky-red bricks surrounding the entrance doors have been a surprising success, adding more of a “Toon” theme to the building and matching the existing signs around the area. Since these photos were taken last week, all the bricks have been painted this colour – you can see a photo here.

Unfortunately, if you were in the park last week and looked a little closer at Art of Disney Animation, it looked like anything but an artform. Did the old Ink & Paint department go crazy here? Not only was the front section of the building (which already strangely featured a more pale blue than the rear) sporting as thin a coat of paint as possible, but in various blackspots you could also see random patches and stripes of thicker paint.

These photos reveal a strange secret of the transformation of the building – unlike the buildings of Front Lot currently undergoing refurbishment, they aren’t repainting Art of Disney with a white basecoat before applying the blue. It’s all just going right on top of the yellow, hence the pretty awful state of the building for over two weeks during the busy Halloween period.

Last week, the wall near the toilets at the rear of the building featured a few strange spots of lighter paint (and still apparently does), whilst the low sun of the Autumn months doesn’t give a pleasant reflection off the walls of this circa-2002 Disney product.

So you’re longing for the old yellow colour scheme again now? Well, if you waited around a few hours last week your wish would have been granted, for one last time! As night fell, the bright lights on the building showed just how thin the paintwork at the front really was – the entire façade returned to its old yellow glow! Truly a quite remarkable effect.

The nearer you got, the more the new blue colours flooded through. Despite being caused by the bad paintwork above, this effect was actually rather impressive in reality. Colour-changing buildings – the next step in Imagineering? It’d be perfect for Toon Studio, but, with more paint progress made on this project since, it was probably only temporary.

Luckily, the past few days have been kind to the building, which now (judging by photos at least) appears to feature a thicker and more vibrant coat of blue paint around its frontage as well as queue canopy columns repainted to a more pleasing deep blue. But, whilst there’s hope, the paint isn’t perfect – those patches at the rear remain, and the yellow mural still appears out of place.

You can see photos of the old Art of Disney Animation colours here. It’s true that once you’ve got used to the new colours, they grow on you rather quickly. Whilst the yellows contrasted nicely with the blue Sorcerer’s Hat and fit perfectly into the Imagineer’s “warm colours for a cold environment” motto, the blue has its own charms.

Can it still be considered a “work of art”? Whatever you think, one thing definitely seems certain – this is still very much a “work in progress”.

Thursday, 9th November 2006

One week at Toon Studio (Part 2)

Sunday, 5th November 2006

A well-timed end to Disneyland Park’s Halloween season, the fog lasted all day on Sunday and gave some interesting views of Toon Studio, especially with Tower of Terror fading into the distance. In the first photo you can see two openings in the rockwork – one for the coaster and one for the attraction’s exit.

Monday, 6th November 2006

After a slow week during French holidays, Monday saw the fog lift and the first few pieces of scaffolding on the Studio 5 façade disappear as construction picked up at full speed again. The new colour scheme of Art of Disney Animation certainly separates the area from the rest of the park, and with the slightly whimsical design of Studio 5 next to the Sorcerer Hat – finally a true Disney feel.

Tuesday, 7th November 2006

Yesterday’s action was only a prelude to today, it seems. All the scaffolding on the front of Studio 5 was gone at park opening, giving us a glimpse at the final “look” of the attraction and a better view at the detail of our new soundstage.

Notice the shadow under the rim and plaque of Studio 5 above? It adds some good depth and distinction to the building’s features, and it’s actually just an Imagineering trick. The first one of the project so far? Hopefully the first of many.

On board the Carpets, the wise placement of Cars Race Rally stands out again now that the foundations and boarding canopy are complete. The attraction faces directly to Flying Carpets, whilst a tall canyon-themed berm around the back will shelter the entire area from the 2002 Animation Courtyard area.

And what of that 2002 Animation Courtyard area? The area that is supposed to currently be enjoying a full placemaking enhancement project? Nothing much to report, i’m afraid. Whilst a gap in the fences at Disney Studio 1 reveals the large amount of new trees are infact already planted, a look over and under the two sets of fences shows there’s still a lot of work to be done. During the week, the only changes here were a few plastic tubes being layed around the trees and moved around.

Whilst what appears to be a new maintenance ladder was lowered into place during the afternoon, the construction workers seemed to be enjoying their job – climbing up, over and around the rockwork, some of which (the finished section near the front) has now been covered in protective tarps.

And so there you have it – one week at Toon Studio, from all across the park and through sun, fog and darkness. There are still seven months to go until the official opening, but already the new studio is making its mark and a huge impact on the park. As every other guest stops to look at the concept art on the construction walls, we can only hope they’ll return to experience it for real… only 30 weeks to go!

Thursday, 9th November 2006

One week at Toon Studio (Part 1)

Bright blue skies one day, fog the next. Thousands of local French guests one day, scores of Brits the next. At Toon Studio, you see painting here, painting there, and endless games of scaffolding moving around all over the place. With more time, you can also appreciate more how the new construction fits into the park, such as from the arena of Moteurs Action or the backlot route of Studio Tram Tour…

Wednesday, 1st November 2006

Where else to begin than with that obligatory shot over the Art of Disney Animation fence? We have a lot to thank emergency exits for. Three trees have already been planted next to the dark ride building of Crush’s Coaster, and you can see even the metal surround waiting to be added.

Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, on the other hand, has an added advantage to its short waiting times compared to Dumbo next door – a great view over the construction site. Last week, the metal framework of the attraction’s outdoor queue canopy was added, which will eventually be themed to a fishing pier, with guests queueing underneath on the dried-up seabed.

Looking across to Art of Disney, you can see not only the new Arabian lamposts (similar but certainly not identical to Adventureland’s) but also the queue buildings and boarding area canopy of Cars Race Rally, which faces directly towards the Flying Carpets to create a reassuringly designed space.

Thursday, 2nd November 2006

No changes today, but a funny look towards Toon Studio from Disney Bros. Plaza to celebrate the Art of Disney Construction Fences. The time change earlier in the week also allows us to finally get a good view of Toon Studio in the dark.

Friday, 3rd November 2006

Before you even enter the park, the new construction is very noticable. And I don’t mean Tower of Terror – Studio 5’s height and vibrant blue colour really attracts your attention from the resort hub.

Inside the park, finishing touches were being made to the paintwork on Studio 5’s façade, whilst the deserted (no pun intended) Flying Carpets, hidden behind the sea of construction walls, are probably hoping more popular times are ahead.

The changing colours of Art of Disney Animation will be featured in an article all of its own, but for now this new unifying Toon colour scheme is already working well. From the top of the Moteurs… Action! arena, Studio 5 is a new icon on the surprisingly impressive Walt Disney Studios skyline.

Jumping onboard Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic, fans can now ignore Jeremy Iron’s increasingly frigid commentary and instead enjoy panoramic views from the lesser-seen side of Toon Studio. The left-hand side wall of Studio 5 was being painted last week and is now complete, leaving only the back wall of the coaster building without paint.

After enjoying Jeremy Irons in a jester outfit, the tram pulls out of costuming to give guests a great view of the new queue buildings for Cars. The curved façade is likely Luigi and Guido’s store, whilst the circular building is the entrance to Doc Hudson’s new driving school, with the large metal pole eventually holding a huge 3D neon version of the Cars logo high into the air – another new icon for the park. Back at the fan-favourite view, and some of the scaffolding and tarp on the rockwork has been removed to reveal over half is now painted in the final, deep blue colour.

Monday, 6th November 2006

Covered queue & a touch of Adventureland

In the mean time, more work continues on the revamped Animation Courtyard. Arabian light posts have been installed in the new Aladdin oasis planters and the Art of Disney Animation continues receiving new paint as the brickwall to the left of the entrance has been painted pink.

Saturday, 21st October 2006

Encore plus de bleu!

Studio 5 is where it’s at for those blue paint freaks. Two thirds of the Flying Carpets wall has now been painted in a second, more vibrant coat. The joins in the concrete sections are still very visable, but the building is beginning to come close to a Disney-quality finish. The front wall on the other hand, which has been primed and treated for many weeks now to make it as smooth as possible, now has a generous smothering of blue paint for itself. Currently, the paint appears slightly darker than the side wall, hinting a second coat may also be on its way here.

Last month we reported that one section of the rockwork at the front of the attraction had been given a new, much deeper shade of blue. Now, the same shade has been added to all of the rocks either side, showing just how vibrant and bright this new Toon addition will look when finished.

It’s also interesting to note that a thin strip of blue paint has even appeared around the top of the Crush’s Coaster dark ride building, probably to allow the Imagineers to assess how it looks against the (incresingly) grey Marne-la-Vallée skies. The sides of the building not visible to guests in the park (except those on Studio Tram Tour) have yet to receive any paint..

The blue explosion doesn’t stop at Studio 5, though, as seen by these new photos above showing Art of Disney Animation’s brand new coat of paint. The curved rear section and large toilets entrance wall of the building were painted in a very light sky blue colour last week, showing the first step from the Imagineers to integrate this building better into the “new” Toon Studio. It’s likely this is as much blue paint the building will see, however, since any more would clash with the blue Sorcerer’s Hat at the front. Currently, this sky blue gives a colourful and very “Disney” colour palette next to the other yellow and purple sections.

Photos by: Kyoto at Disney Magic Interactive forum; DLRP.fr

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