Monday, 5th February 2007

Studio 5 fresque brings the EAC to WDS

The exciting unveiling today, captured by thebatman_1 in these photos posted on MagicForum, completes another piece of the puzzle for this new attraction, “turtally unique” to Paris.

The fresque is quite unlike anything used on a Disney attraction before, comparable only to the Hollywood backdrop on the Hyperion Theater at Disney’s California Adventure, or the billboard-style entrances of our own Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Studio Tram Tour.

It already appears a good attempt to solve the problem of how to theme a studio soundstage whilst still remaining within a “real working studio” theme, and with none of the vast expanses of bare walls seen elsewhere in the park upon its opening.

The covering to be used for the bare concerete walls still surrounding the main fresque on the front section of the building has yet to be confirmed.

All photos by thebatman_1 at magicforum. Join the discussion here.

Monday, 5th February 2007

Crush’s turtle testing

But before that, a quick look at how general construction on the new attraction is going. More scaffolding has just appeared around the exit of the ride, between the metal roof of the queue and the rockwork covering which guests will walk through to re-enter the park. Towards the back of the new area, the wall surrounding “Toon Studio” can be seen, now looking ready for paint after being moulded and given texture. The actual “Toon Town” backdrop will be constructed behind.

Inside the queue itself, the huge amount of new planting is certainly giving no favours to anyone wanting a sneaky preview from Flying Carpets Over Agrabah. It appears, though, that the first railings have just been put in place, and work on the sculpted plaster on the wall of showbuilding continues. Eventually, the area will look like the basin of a dried-up fishing pier, with moulded concrete floors to look like wooden decking and the outer wall of the building themed to a large pier wall.

Backstage, usually a no-go area for pictures of any kind, a very recognisable prop for the sunken submarine-themed lift hill was caught on camera by EricLovesTZToT…

We reported back in October that Bruce would be 4 metres long, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint! At the time the photo was taken, he appears to be a simple shell, with workers fitting him out ready for installation.

And finally, here it is – the very first glimpse of a Crush’s Coaster turtle shell in action, sweeping down the curved outside drop, caught by Jeremy06b on the French Coastersworld forum. It passes by the workers watching from behind the fences before dropping into the sudden dip in the track and off-camera…

You can see the test in video here: Download .Mov Video

It seems recent days have seen an increase in the number of tests taking place, and since Disney attractions are always tested rigorously for around six months before their official opening, this probably won’t be the last we see of Crush’s turtle testing.

Bruce shark photo by EricLovesTZTOT, Ameworld forum. Testing photos and video by Jeremy06b, Coastersworld. Latest construction photos by Photos Magiques – more here.

Monday, 29th January 2007

Turtles, Cars and two fabulous dresses

We begin with Imagineer Beth Clapperton, who poses next to one the turtle shell ride vehicles from Crush’s Coaster in Toon Studio, holding plans to the entire track layout. The turtle shell follows all the usual standards of a Maurer Söhne Xtended SC-2000 car, with four seats back-to-back in rows of two. However, the car has also been extensively customised by the Disney Imagineers, extending the front and sides to perfectly resemble a turtle shell, with an incredible level of detail compared to other Disney ride vehicles.

The photo appears to have been taken on the break-run of the attraction’s “coaster” section, likely sometime in mid-2006 since the building does not appear to be fully enclosed. It also seems restraints and seat backs had yet to be fitted to the first vehicle at this point.

Next up, we move across to Cars Race Rally and into the backstage workshops of Walt Disney Imagineering, where a life-size Luigi is being crafted by hand for the upcoming attraction. Also sporting an exceptional level of detail, Luigi is due to appear at the Casa Della Tires photo location near the attraction’s entrance (see the map here), similar to the Mike Wazowski and CDA figures at the Monsters Inc Scream Scene location.

As you can see from the photo, it luckily seems that the resort have been given the rights to use the badge of this 1959 Fiat 500 on the real-life reproduction itself. Guido, Luigi’s forklift sidekick, is also expected to appear at the finished attraction, marking the first time these characters have been created in life-size 3D form.

Finally, the series of photos take us into the colourful Costuming Workshop at the ImagiNations building, backstage at Walt Disney Studios, for a glimpse at two stunning new dresses created exclusively for Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade. The dresses featured are Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, and the “one that started it all”, Snow White.

Along with rich, glistening fabrics and remarkable attention to detail, the dresses have been peppered with beautiful gold-laced leaves, petals and flowers (roses for Belle), allowing them to match perfectly with the garden-themed “Dreams of Romance” finale float where they will be featured. This is the first time such a high level of customisation has been used to allow the dresses to match their floats.

Sumptuous dresses, detailed props and “turtally” unique ride vehicles, all oozing Disney quality… as if the 15th Anniversary wasn’t an exciting enough prospect already!

All photos © Disney, courtesy of and!

Monday, 8th January 2007

Building and illuminating three new attractions

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

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

Series: Backstage at Disneyland Paris (4/5)

Three new attractions this year

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

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

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

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

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

She illuminates the world of Mickey

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

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

“The most effective and economical lighting possible”

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

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

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

Friday, 5th January 2007

Spilling the scenery, station and shells of Crush

The presentation and quick inputs from Imagineers during the brief segment simply introduce the characters and describe the ride. Far more interesting, as always with these wonderful little Filmparade shows, are the visuals – here, we’re treated to our very first glimpses at scale models of the boarding area, dark ride scenes and roller coaster, amongst copious construction shots. Later, we even get to see – for the first time – one of those already infamous Turtle Shell ride vehicles…!

After an introduction to the project and some quick shots of construction, the featurette gets right into the good stuff – a bright, colourful, detailed scale model of those mysterious dark ride scenes! The first image features one of the digital projections of Nemo, also featured in Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends and Disneyland’s Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.

The scenes resemble those of a classic dark ride, with the actual area between track and wall being remarkable small – depth in the scenes is instead created through design and lighting. The colours and detail clearly show the scenes as more similar to those of Disneyland’s new Submarine Voyage – with the water drained out, of course!

We’ve heard tales and legends of the Sydney harbour fishing pier-themed boarding area, and now here’s the proof. Looking a little like the theme of Pirates of the Caribbean mixed with the industrial design of Rock n Roller Coaster, the area already looks colourful, detailed and very impressive.

The first image shows the turn after the station, leading to the first lift hill, with the operating booth in the blue building in the middle. The second shows the platform itself, with steps leading down from the queue line bridge, turnstiles and… seagulls, on the roof of the operating booth. These will be almost identical to those outside the Epcot attraction.

In the next shot, the camera gives a guest’s perspective on the area as you exit the ride, showing the incredible theme and detail – and this is only a maquette! Lots of signs and details can already be seen, with lighting, props and – can you believe it? – animatronics all serving to create a truly themed scene.

Next, the camera pulls away from the front of the showbuilding to give an overview of the ride, useful for those still new to the project.

The next three shots show the scale model of the spinning roller coaster section itself. Whilst the design is basically a standard Maurer-Sohne layout, this gives a first look at the way lighting and scenery will be integrated into the ride. Besides the enclosed lift hill, one section of the track in particular is enclosed by a ring of lighting effects similar to the red vortex of Space Mountain: Mission 2.

After a few final camera shots attempting to show what an on-ride view will be like, here comes the big surprise – the Turtle Shell ride vehicle! Though not mounted on the track, the vehicle has been invaded by a few Imagineers, as they check out what it’ll be like for guests once they’re on-board the ride and inside the coaster.

The vehicle itself certainly appears to be one of the final fleet, clearly following the standard Maurer-Sohne design yet with all the turtle shell trimmings as expected. Maurer’s vehicles have been themed well in the past, but once again Disney appear to have taken it to a new level of customisation.

The segment was recorded and uploaded by (not associated with us!) and should still be available for download over there if you’d like to see the pictures in motion.

Tuesday, 2nd January 2007

Opening dates and extra greenery

The first conifer next to Willy’s Butte rock formation confirms the realistic Mid-West North American desert theme of the movie-based attraction, and marks a drastic departure from the tropical palms shared by Crush’s Coaster and Flying Carpets. A second tree in front of Crush’s Coaster is waiting to be planted, though it has to be asked how these full-size trees will affect the miniturised scale and forced perspective of Willy’s Butte.

The bright, blue rockwork of Crush, recently uncovered from its scaffolding wrapping, still invites the attention of guests from as far away as Walt Disney Television Studios. As you near the rockwork (or zoom in with a camera), however, the true detail really appears, with authentic coral formations and shapes hidden throughout the faux frontage.

From aboard Flying Carpets, the huge amount of palms surrounding the queue and exit paths has begun to restrict views much more. Through the leafy greenery, however, you can spot progress on the paths around the area and a new protective covering over the soil of the planters. The path around the front of the rockwork will actually be separated from the rockwork itself, meaning guests will not be able to lean or climb on the scenery – or see the track of the spinning rollercoaster just several centimetres lower.

At Cars Race Rally, window frames in the entrance building have appeared. A full colour layout plan of the upcoming attraction was recently added to the DLRP Magic preview.

And finally, a perfect New Year gift – confirmation of the opening and soft opening dates of the two new attractions (and therefore the area as a whole). Revealed first by Walt Disney Studios tribute website, previews of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally will take place from 31st May to 8th June 2007. It is not yet clear whether these are full Soft Openings for all guests or restricted previews only for Annual Passholders and Shareholders. Soft openings are a Disney Park tradition, fully opening new attractions to all guests for testing and feedback. Whilst guests visiting during these dates should be lucky enough to experience the new attractions, testing is still ongoing and the rides can be closed for tweaking and maintenance at any time.

And the Grand Opening itself? Latest schedules say Sunday 10th June 2007, leaving the 9th June free for press and VIP previews.

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, 18th December 2006

It’s beginning to look a lot like the EAC

From the aerial vantage point of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, the full ensemble of palm trees can be seen in a single glance. Spreading from the Flying Carpets entrance across the three new ‘oasis’ islands and now right around the queue line of Crush’s Coaster, it looks like the fan plea for more palms has finally been answered. The trees divide up the paths into smaller, cosier, more Disney-style routes, and finally add a sense of adventure and discovery to the Studios’ otherwise simplistic layout.

The outside queue line’s unpromising metallic canopy has been swarmed by more palm trees, filling gaps which lead through to the outside world or the Genie’s Flying Carpets set. It appears paths are now in the process of being laid, whilst a reinforced, vertical concrete block (which has been in place for several weeks) hints at more still to come. Curiously, work on painting the sides of the lower ‘dark ride’ building has not yet begun.

According to the only concept sketch available, the metallic roof will remain unthemed, with the only detail being lights similar to those outside Armageddon: Special Effects. Instead, in true movie-set style, the theme will only be found around the ‘stars’ (guests) themselves, with supports, signage and build-ups of sand suggesting a dried-up fishing pier.

Aside from the palm trees and setting-out of pathways in the area, a major change making the attraction begin to look a lot like complete is the removal of scaffolding on the rockwork. Now not only does the blue look a whole lot brighter, but the layering and detail of the rockwork becomes more clear. Photo 4 above shows that the highest points of the rocks are actually separate from the building, with the gap likely making the addition of the building’s giant poster mural much easier to accomplish.

The design softens the traditional hard-edged soundstage design seen elsewhere in the Studios, as well as very cleverly sheilding almost all of the ride’s track from view.

The rockwork features three holes – the first, on the right, is the attraction’s exit. Next, where the turtle shell vehicles will dive out of the showbuilding, and finally the third where they will re-enter after the small outside drop, heading into the dark-ride scenes of the ride.

It’s becoming clearer by the day that Crush’s Coaster – and infact the whole of Toon Studio – is a wildly imaginative piece of Imagineering, vastly different to anything else in the park, at Disney’s other studio park in Florida or even at any Disney park worldwide. Not only will Crush’s Coaster introduce European theme park favourite Maurer Söhne to Disney theme parks, but it marks a massive shift in style for Disney attraction design. With this project, imagination really has run riot.

Photos 1-4 by, photo 5 by

Monday, 18th December 2006

Rocking around the Race Rally

Centre of events has been the giant, teetering canyon rock. Direct from the McQueen and Doc Hudson race scenes in the Disney-Pixar Cars film, the rock has been converted from CGI to reality, becoming a new icon for the future Toon Studio.

Beginning as little more than an unpromising steel and concrete frame on 29th November 2006, by 10th December 2006 the theme element had gained a thin wire mesh frame and a more detailed plaster shell.

The first colour arrived on 13th December, and just four days later on 17th December the main portion of the rock’s themeing was complete. Since the rock is part of a massive, wind-eroded canyon in the film, shrinking the icon down to Toon Studio size obviously took some planning. According to, the sculpting was completed by Atelier Artistique du Béton, whose past credits at Disneyland Resort Paris include Catastrophe Canyon and Le Pays de Contes de Fées. This new creation effectively mixes the two together, giving an authentic canyon look with miniturised detail.

Like some elements of Le Pays de Contes de Fées, the rock has been given an ultra-detailed sculpt to suggest it is much larger than it actually is. The small fallen “boulders” near the bottom and the incredible eroded detail of the tallest outcrop will create an optical illusion from the ride area suggesting the rock is larger and more distant from guests than they realise.

From the main entry courtyard of Toon Studio, the current Animation Courtyard, the rock will clearly also provide the classic Imagineering “weenie” effect, pulling guests towards the area and adding interest and colour to this part of the land. Interestingly, the multicoloured backdrop of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah matches the new themeing perfectly, with its purple edge next to the blue rockwork of Crush’s Coaster, it’s orange centre opposite the ochreous rocks of Cars and the final yellow edge next to its own oasis-themed entrance.

Photos by and

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