But first, a nice compilation from behind-the-scenes at yesterday’s press events, as a Disneyland Paris video camera follows the press around the new shows and events to give a feeling of these busy press days in the parks:
Now that’s got you warmed up, onto the main show!
Titled “The New Gen Show”, the opening ceremony and dedication of the New Generation Festival has all the usual ingredients of these one-off Disney grand opening spectaculars — a ridiculously large cast, jazzy projections and an “interesting” mélange of music.
On the one hand we have Buzz Lightyear reliving his French disco days, on the other Nemo coaxing Dory (right?) into the arena in something out of an arty theatrical show. All wrapped up with music from… Pixar Play Parade at Disney’s California Adventure.
Yes, it’s an eclectic, enormous and show-stopping opening ceremony for the year ahead. Might they have actually outdone all past efforts? Perhaps — in numbers and scale — even the opening of the resort itself!
It’s a shame, of course, that these kind of lavish events are reserved only for “VIPs” who probably couldn’t give a hoot about seeing a show like this. We have to wonder how much of the footage and how many of the images shot this weekend will really make an impact, or be featured in the media. It’s a tradition now that Disneyland Paris puts on one show for the visitors and one superficial blow-out to look good for the cameras. It’s something for the archives, for them to pull out and say “remember 2010?”.
Although given that they used the stunt arena this year, which has 3000 seats, this would have been a good chance to say, give away a few extra tickets in a prize draw to Annual Passport Dream holders… if only to see the show, to spread word of mouth, and not to enjoy the free food.
Now attached to the cables installed just last week, the frames of three “parachutes” can be seen over the construction walls, yet to receive their final parachute-themed canopy and finishing touches:
Each parachute is currently attached to one arm of the tower by four cables, with the first three all sitting on the front side of the tower, facing the existing Toon Studio.
If the final design matches similar rides like Jumpin’ Jellyfish at Disney’s California Adventure, a further winch cable (or cables) should be added to actually pull the seats into the air, with these four cables serving only to keep them properly aligned and steady.
As mentioned previously, the parachutes have six seats — compared to just two on the jellyfish in California — allowing the ride to achieve a higher capacity of 36 riders with just one tower.
The arrival of the first parachutes and the positioning of those cables appears to have also confirmed one important aspect of this towering ride that has changed relentlessly between almost every single concept we’ve seen: the direction in which guests will be facing.
And the good news is, it looks like we won’t be facing straight outwards (or inwards) like on the off-the-shelf versions of this ride (and as even shown in the final concept), but seated at a right angle (90 degrees) to the arm of the tower above (like on the model/maquette), meaning you’ll be facing other guests — and less likely to focus on what will surely be less than magical views of the Art of Disney Animation air conditioning system and empty expansion land beyond Studio Tram Tour.
As with the construction of Tower of Terror, there’s been much worry about these tall new attractions appearing as unwanted icons on the Thunder Mesa skyline. The main lift hill of Big Thunder Mountain is the highest guest viewpoint in Frontierland, and here’s how it looks:
RC Racer is barely noticeable as you speed over the top of the hill, Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop stands out a little but not disastrously so and the Tower continues to dominate from every angle. In fact, it’s the hulk of the (in some places, unpainted!) 2007 showbuilding for Crush’s Coaster that blots the horizon the most. Once those trees have leaves, the newest additions will be even less visible.
And what about from the top deck of the riverboats, passing below here? Imagine the height of this lift hill against the height of the boats, and the Playland attractions should miraculously fall just — and really, just — below the berm there, right? Clearly Thunder Mesa already has planning laws about visual intrusion marked out for all but the biggest E-Tickets, and these attractions have been pushed right up to the limit.
From the main promenade of the Frontier town itself, none of these attractions are visible.
Still, it’d be nice to see this berm at the back of the land given a bit of “thickening up” to hide as much as possible… a few more fir trees wouldn’t go amiss. It’s an odd quirk of the Big Thunder lift hill that it offers such a view to break the spell of the otherwise flawless land. Perhaps the Imagineers of the early nineties just never envisaged plans for “Disney MGM Studios Europe”, as the park was originally going to known, encompassing any rides as tall as the Tower of Terror and co…
Anyway, onto the main news of this welcome midweek update from Walt Disney Studios.
This is a really wide outbreak of walls, too — swallowing up the whole queue and loading area…
…and even the old Fastpass distribution area, which hasn’t been used since 2002…
Current schedules on the official website state the attraction is closed for the whole of March and April 2010, but other sources suggest it won’t reopen until as late as 31st May 2010 — a full three-months of downtime.
Details are sketchy about why it needs such a lengthy closure, though you can imagine it’s partly to ease construction of Toy Story Playland, which sits right up against the tour’s route. At the same time, these months will surely be used to do something drastic about Catastrophe Canyon, which has been in a frightening state for years. Completely blackened and lacking its ochre colour, effects often patchy, the truck itself completely washed out. Who knew it used to be red?
Refurbishments and clean-ups are probably all we can hope for besides the ongoing Playland construction, but wouldn’t it be nice if they surprised us somehow? How much would a few new props, a re-dressed Dinotopia set, an improved queue line really cost? Don’t hold your breath.
That was no exaggeration to say the construction walls have engulfed the whole area. The path at the back of Art of Disney Animation has, at the same time, been squashed to almost half its size, providing a quite uncomfortably narrow link between Hollywood Boulevard and the back of Toon Studio:
Soon enough, the view below will see not only two of the new attractions but the “giant” Buzz Lightyear figure planned to stand at the entrance of the mini-land atop building blocks.
The sandy-coloured floor of the land will also “spill out” slightly, according to concept art, but it’s a shame the path here will eventually reopen to its full size… looking pretty much a same: An unthemed “no mans land”, when there are so many possibilities for Hollywood/Toon transitions…
The old railings and lights along it, which ended up lasting less than 3 years, appear to be long gone as we take a peek underneath the walls. The rest of the dull old asphalt has yet to be touched. At some point, planting of that tall bamboo “grass” needs to start here and new fences put in place around the future land.
Finally, Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop has just celebrated its own version of the classic Disney park “rope drop”. Yesterday, three of the six drop arms received their parachute cables — two each, dropping from the tower — soon to hoist the large six-seater parachutes into the air:
The cables are currently just dropping to the floor — there’s a lot of work still to be done before we see any movement and “test missions” from the Green Army Men here.
As an added “finally”, since so many people are asking… The vague official word from Disneyland Paris is that Toy Story Playland will open “late Summer 2010”. This is a slight rewording from the simple “Summer 2010” stated in brochures, the reason being that latest internal dates state an August 2010 grand opening — and no, still no exact date.
Perhaps a little disappointing given that it should be a big feature of the New Generation Festival year, and Toy Story 3 (released here in July) will already be old news in European cinemas by then. There will be a lot of people who haven’t checked the details arriving at the park from April to still find a construction site. All the more reason to visit again …or not?
As reported with the exclusive posting of the full 40 second TV spot yesterday, there are five different formats for the New Generation Festival television campaign in the UK — including two 30 second adverts and three 10 second spots.
First, we’ll share the 10 second ‘Announcement’ spot that has been played the most heavily so far and actually features the little-seen Incredibles, simply announcing that the New Generation Festival is landing at Disneyland Paris from 2nd April, without a single special offer or call to action at the end:
The idea here is to build interest in the campaign without giving everything away.
Next, Version B of the 30 second spot is worth noting because it’s the only UK advert that features the Lightning McQueen/Cinderella pair-up we saw in the stills posted last week:
Perhaps, now that “cheapquels” like Cinderella 3 have been put to bed, we’ll be seeing Disney branching out with unexpected crossover movies, beginning with the long-awaited “McCindy” (as the gossip rags are calling the couple) romantic comedy. No?
The other 30 second version of the commercial uses the shots of Toy Story Playland where this Lightning McQueen scene is, whilst the two additional 10 second adverts focus on the Kids Under 7 and Save 40% offers respectively, none featuring any real additional or alternate footage.
At the weekend, Disneyland Paris released some ‘Making Of’ photographs from the production of the commercials. Motion Theory, based in California, naturally took to the sun-kissed lands of the original Disneyland Resort in Anaheim to film the outdoor scenes — or rather its second gate, California Adventure.
Here we see the camera set-up to capture the leading float of the park’s Pixar Play Parade (which would have actually been perfect for Paris this year) being paraded through Hollywood Pictures Backlot:
This photo of the clapperboard confirms Mathew Cullen and Christopher Leone to be the directors:
Did you spot Nemo falling from the sky? That fishbowl wasn’t animated, it was hung by wire in front of a chroma key bluescreen, with Nemo animated inside to get as realistic a look as possible!
Finally, the RC Racer scene where Donald Duck rides this new halfpipe attraction required the construction of a giant mock-up of the final vehicle, RC himself. The actors screamed as the camera rose and fell towards them, bluescreen behind, ready for Donald to be animated into the empty seat.
The ride vehicle of the finished attraction will probably be slightly different in appearance, and will definitely have far more (though still relatively few) seats — 20 compared to the 6 here.
One week to build a single curve of orange Hot Wheels track would normally be a bit slow, but when you’re dealing with the new 25-metre steel halfpipe of Walt Disney Studios Park, this is certainly not bad going.
Looking sleeker and more playful than the slightly utilitarian structure of the Parachute Drop, RC Racer grew from purple/pink steel supports in the third week of February to its full orange height just last week.
Whilst this weekend, Dlrpteam took to the park and assessed the impact for us:
Compared to the still very modest size of the Studios’ current floorspace, Toy Story Playland occupies quite a sizeable extension; this halfpipe positioned right at the back of the area up against the new curve in the repositioned Studio Tram Tour route. As such, it has a less dominating impact on the park at present.
Sitting between the other recent Toon Studio additions, the new attractions do appear to complete a very colourful palette of attractions — pink and orange for RC, green for Toy Soldiers, yellow and red for Cars and blue for Crush’s Coaster. But this attraction is what it is — a large steel halfpipe, similar to those produced for “regular” amusement parks by coaster manufacturer Intamin, with only minimal customisation above ground.
That customisation has actually yet to appear — if you thought the ribcage design of the track is a little strange, that’s because flat orange pieces will sit between those steel protrusions, to give the look of a flat Hot Wheels-style track. In fact, the 20-seater vehicle will really be running on this very Intamin-like triangular track hidden in the middle.
Heading around the park, the more slender track and distant placement of RC Racer gives it much less impact than the Parachute Drop. The wide base, where the covered station loading area will span the track, nevertheless plays a few perspective tricks, making the ride looks wide and expansive from Backlot (and particularly the raised entrance area of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster):
From outside the main body of the park, Studio 1 completely blocks all visual intrusion from Toy Story Playland whilst in Front Lot. You’ve got to back up to the higher level of the main resort hub to catch a glimpse of the new attractions between Studios 1 and 3:
Finally, let’s climb the Disney Village parking structure to see how the two towering new rides slot into the wider park. Zoomed in, it’s still the plump tower of Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop which has the impact from this angle. Currently unlit, RC Racer has less presence all the way in the distance there:
And looking at the complete picture, the new land is completely dwarfed by Tower of Terror. As expected, the two attractions, both around 25 metres high, just about reach the top of the Tower’s front showbuilding, and no higher:
Nevertheless, the ride presents a dilemma for the morals of Disney Imagineering fans. On the one hand, it’s a steel halfpipe that now towers over much of the park. On the other, the clever Hot Wheels concept might well allow it to justify itself — at least far more easily than past WDI creations such as Mulholland Madness (California), Primeval Whirl (Florida) or even mini coasters like Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster (Tokyo) and Gadget’s Go Coaster (Tokyo/California), all of which feature bare steel track and supports with little grace.
If those stills from the epic new Disneyland Paris TV spot whet your appetite and you’ve yet to catch the ad on any of the major broadcasters in the UK, we’ve got a treat.
The full, 40 second commercial for the New Generation Festival. Enjoy:
Produced by Motion Theory — whose past credits include Honda, McCain, Nintendo and music videos such as Adele’s Chasing Pavements — for the resort’s agency EuroRSCG, this spectacular advert combines live action footage filmed in California with all-new animation of Disney and Pixar stars.
You’ll be seeing it for the next month across all the major TV networks. As well as this full 40 second version, you’ll see two 30 second versions and three 10 second spots, which we’ll be sharing soon!
In the UK, the commercials are trailing a new ‘Save up to 40% plus Kids under 7 stay and play Free’ offer, a quite unexpected return to such heavy discounting — the validity period even running right up to 8th November. Pushed with such a professional and genuinely exciting TV spot, Disneyland Paris looks set to be making quite a big impression in the UK over the next few months, as it attempts to win back the visitors lost through the credit crisis and poor exchange rates.
TV spots and advertising should launch outside the UK from next week, 8th March.
Launching on 1st March (next Monday) in the UK and around the rest of Europe soon after, the TV commercial opens as the New Generation characters and stars begin falling from the sky (from a Dinoco helicoper!), descending over the classic fairytale worlds of Disneyland Park…
The advert is a mix of live action backgrounds with both computer and hand-drawn animation. Some of the characters have a less than perfect landing — Sulley falls straight through the thatched roof of the dwarves’ cottage…
Giving Snow White and guests, not to mention the monster himself, a sudden surprise…
Lightning McQueen, meanwhile, lands on the parade route, just missing Cinderella’s carriage.
The princess seems to take it all in her stride…
And watches on as Princess Tiana joins her exclusive circle of friends…
There’s a chance that the use of Nemo and Lighting McQueen could make even several year-old attractions like Crush’s Coaster (which wasn’t all that heavily advertised upon opening) seem a part of the “new generation” offerings, for less frequent visitors.
The commercial was produced in California and features original animation of the characters involved. After the uninspiring balloons of Mickey’s Magical Party, the presence of a real narrative here, of the characters landing in the parks amongst classic set pieces, appears to be one of the best-executed campaigns from Disneyland Paris for some time, even in stills.
Keep your eyes peeled on major terrestrial and digital channels in the UK from Monday, with the “heavyweight” campaign running in several time lengths and formats right up to 4th April.
Our previous construction update on the Parachute Drop of future Toy Story Playland provoked an unprecedented response. In one corner of the playroom, those apparently disgusted by the appearance of this steel pylon in a Disney theme park. In the other, those who are just pleased to see some new rides finding their way into the Studios.
A couple of weeks later, construction has progressed quite a bit more and our photo reporter Dlrpteam has captured some new angles showing how the tower fits into the existing park.
…no Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop here. Even as you continue up the short stretch of street already in place, the façades built in 2007 are thankfully towering enough to completely block out any visual intrusion from a certain structure behind Art of Disney Animation on the right.
In fact, you only see the camouflage-patterned tower once you reach the junction with ‘Vine Street’, the route which crosses diagonally in front of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Here it looms large ahead, yet to be joined by the 25-metre orange halfpipe of RC Racer.
Although, at least in the first photo above, the view could be completely hidden simply by adding another piece to the right of that flat cut-out backdrop.
Since the last update, all six of the winch mechanism platforms are now fixed in place atop of the tower, giving it a far more solid look — if not exactly “toy-like” at present.
They’re painted in a similar green to the camouflage spots on the tower itself and will hold the cables of each parachute, feeding them down the tower itself into the ride machinery which “bounces” the parachutes up and down. Note also in the other photos here that the steel framework of the Slinky Dog and Toy Soldiers queue buildings have been painted a similar dark green.
Speaking of those parachutes, WDSfans finally got confirmation of the actual ride capacity, which we’ve been unsure of for a while. While the main Toy Story Playland concept art showed parachutes with three seats back-to-back (total 6), other concepts and models showed a set-up more alike Jumpin’ Jellyfish at Disney’s California Adventure, with only 2 seats per parachute. Luckily, that original concept art was accurate — there will be SIX seats per parachute, in rows of three back-to-back, adding up to a grand total of 36 riders per cycle.
This means that with just one (unsightly?) tower, the ride will have a capacity much larger than the 24 riders held by two towers in California, which has to be a good thing. The ride cycle itself will run for exactly 1 minute in Paris, compared with 1 minute 30 seconds for Jumpin’ Jellyfish, increasing throughput and further shortening queue times, which had been a big concern for many.
With capacity perhaps not such an issue after all, that (for now) just leaves the looks and height of the tower to be questioned. Whilst the Parachute Drop is quite neatly hidden and almost unnoticable through the thick gardens of Tower of Terror (above and below)…
…The least flattering angle looks to be the view from the side of Tower of Terror, across the always-unappealing tarmac of the Studio Tram Tour loading area, as pictured below:
But what about when Hollywood Boulevard finally expands? Of course, that’s probably years away, but with a boulevard slicing through here bringing towering new buildings either side, the Parachute Drop would be easily hidden from this angle and many others. Think about it.
Just like the Toy Soldiers, Walt Disney Imagineering surely have their mission all planned out, right?
Groundworks, foundations and queue buildings have been worked on for months already, but this is our first real look at the “look” of this new mini-land. And a first look for any Hong Kong fans, too.
These pictures from yesterday caught Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop just as it was topping out, being pieced together from large, tubular sections just like a toy set.
From this angle next to Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, it fits in quite well, doesn’t it? No? OK…
Our photo reporter Dlrpteam even caught the moment the construction crews, after about two hours of confusion and checking under all their tables and chairs twice over (“Well it must be here somewhere!”), found that last important piece — at the bottom of the box all along…
In fact, this is just one of several pieces which will hold the all-important rope/wire of our parachutes — note the wheel at the back, for feeding it down the tube into the ride mechanism.
The Parachute Drop tower is a considerable height, touching 25-30 metres, roughly as high as the front body of Tower of Terror. Now just about up to its full height, it can be seen between Studios 1 and 2 as you enter the park — and from the end of Hollywood Boulevard.
But it’s not the first piece of the Toy Story Playland playset to make an impact on the park. Even before the Parachute Drop tower, the queue buildings for Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin, RC Racer and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop itself have grown as concrete and steel shells, becoming hard to ignore in the still rather plain landscape of the Studios…
Above, the box of Slinky Dog has its ends ripped open, whilst below, RC Racer is due to be accompanied by a collection of Hot Wheels-style garages and playset buildings.
Whatever you call this Imagineering creation — Toy Story Playland or plain Toy Story Land of Hong Kong — both names have unfortunately become poison in the Disney fan world. When the concepts were shown at the D23 Expo last year, they even apparently drew audible boos and unhappiness. Blog upon blog and countless forum comments have trashed the development at every turn.
It’s lacking in imagination, it’s cheap, it’s ugly, it’s just for kids… they say. And that’s before you even get into the lack of a restaurant, toilets or a shop (in the Paris version, at least). Or the minuscule capacity of sure-fire hit RC Racer.
Being the first piece that all Disney fans in the world will see of this development, the Parachute Drop tower is unlikely to win over anyone just yet. It’s unashamedly in-your-face — its plastic, simplistic pattern clashing completely with the course the park appeared to be heading with when it opened Hollywood Boulevard.
But — perhaps ignoring the bright orange Hot Wheels track of RC Racer — that’s the “worst” over with. From here, the land will be filled with a huge variety of props, details and in-jokes from the Toy Story films, all surrounded by 5 metre tall bamboo plants, like you see in Adventureland, to double up as tall grass. Should we be worried, or should we even be excited?
Since this project got going while DLRP Today was offline last year, it’s snowballed. From the original rumours to the Hong Kong clone, there’s a lot to catch up on now. And with the Parachute Drop now standing alongside Tower of Terror and the Sorcerer’s Hat, there’s no chance of leaving it on the “To Do” list any longer.
To be continued…
Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today (1-7: 3rd Feb; 8-9: 16th Jan)
If Disney needed any more reminding that their own Walt Disney Animation Studios didn’t have a great past decade, this set of 12 — count ’em! — new tickets celebrating the most popular recent characters actually feature no less than 10 stars from their friends at Pixar. Only Stitch and Princess Tiana made the cut from Disney.
Here they are, all fresh and colourful:
Naturally, the characters of Toy Story — Woody, Buzz Lightyear, the Little Green Men, the Toy Soldiers, Slinky Dog and RC — take up the majority of the designs, if even guests during the first few months of the festival won’t be able to get anywhere near their new rides.
It’s also great to see such a large number of designs, even in the age of the print-at-home E-ticket. As anyone who enjoys the memorabilia over at Euro Souvenirland can tell you, it’s all this extra bumph which makes Disneyland more special, giving you new logos, designs and styles to remember each year by.
Since the arid, samey years in the middle of the past decade, Disneyland Paris has — kicked back into action by the 15th Anniversary — gradually moved back to this more exciting, constantly-evolving stream of theme years. The name change back to “Disneyland Paris” seems to have helped further, harking back to the golden days of 1995-98 — although on these new tickets that all-important logo is painfully small.
And though a good 40% of visitors will understand L’Année de la Nouvelle Génération, the rest of us will know it by our own local name. Alternating the logo between French and English might have been a better compromise.
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