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.
Not heard of Tinkertoys? No, actually not many of the visitors to Walt Disney Studios Park will have done. A quintessential classic American toy, they were invented in 1914 and allow younger children to build simple models from coloured sticks and wooden spools.
Anyway, on to the park — and look at that, our favourite nondescript walkway has reopened to its full width after being closed during the installation of the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop ride seats:
Still just as plain as before!
And that really stands out because, just by turning to your left, you’re now confronted by more colour and more fun-looking props and attractions than the whole rest of the park put together. The Tinkertoys have arrived:
This collection of the construction toys roughly mark out the future entrance of the land. Just in front of these, we’ll see our giant Buzz Lightyear figure and ‘Playland’ letters made out of building blocks:
Added to the purple and orange of RC Racer and the greens of Parachute Drop, the Tinkertoys add red, green, orange and blue, all slightly lighter and closer to pastel shades than the primary colours seen in the classic real-life set above.
These giant-sized Tinkertoys had actually already been Imagineered before Toy Story Playland — like several of the props on their way to Paris, they were designed for the Pixar Place and Toy Story Midway Mania area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Our new land takes this idea of an oversized playroom and expands it to a garden setting (unfortunately, no interactive dark ride included).
Don’t forget, things like lampposts won’t exist in the fully scaled-up world of Toy Story Playland, so these building sticks will have a variety of functional uses — either supporting cables for over-sized Christmas lights, strung up above the walkways or, as below, carefully concealing human-sized lights:
In fact, turn 180-degrees and you can see more newly-concealed lights:
The Leaning Tower of Tyres outside the Luigi’s Cassa Della Tires façade of Cars Quatre Roues Rallye has had its top tyre modified to include two spotlights, pointing towards the future Toy Story Playland entrance. A clever way to unobtrusively illuminate the giant Buzz Lightyear?
It’s certainly a merchandiser’s dream come true — free reign of the most popular Pixar characters and plenty of toy tie-ins for Toy Story Playland (even there’s still debate as to whether the land itself will have a single retail location).
Whilst the 15th Anniversary and Mickey’s Magical Party souvenirs largely featured the same design splashed over everything, the New Generation Festival already has a much more varied and modern selection of items. From simple logo T-shirts:
To fun character mugs and bowls:
It’s the huge expanded range of Toy Story items which take pride of place this year, however — especially with Toy Story 3 arriving in July. We’ve got cute plush toys of Bullseye, Rex and other Pixar characters:
Alongside the expected action figures and plastic toys:
Of course, you can pick up an RC remote control car after a ride on RC Racer, or a real (and much more conveniently-sized) Slinky toy after a ride on Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin.
Bored of the usual Sorcerer Mickey hats? Try out a funny triangular Buzz Lightyear hat for size:
Or any one of the endless spin-off toys and souvenirs:
And, to tie in perfectly with the parachute-themed ad campaign, there are these special Disneyland Paris-branded “Parachute Sky Diver” figures of Buzz and Woody:
Several other new merchandise lines have been added recently, including this range of “attractions” souvenirs featuring images and logos of Indy, Space, Tower and Pirates against a red graphic backdrop of other attraction logos such as Phantom Manor, Stitch Live and Studio Tram Tour:
The “I Heart Mickey” range of merchandise has also been expanded, with fancy new cups:
And some new mugs which state more elaborately, “I Am Madly In Love With MK.”:
Indeed, you’re never short of ideas for your next coffee mug at Disneyland Paris:
But be careful — too much caffeine (and shopping) can send you Plane Crazy…
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.
As we revealed, the first “plus” of this new website is that it’s actually integrated within the regular Disneyland Paris website, not standing alone as a Flash minisite (that’ll inevitably get forgotten about) like the Mickey’s Magical Party or 15th Anniversary efforts. And there’s another big plus: the use of Flash animations is kept to a minimum, mainly just used within the page for videos.
The design is indeed quite similar to the new Casting website launched a year ago, with a clean white background and three columns for information. Graphics are crisp and colourful; it’s a definite step up.
Each “new show” has its own page, with a large image at the top and a snippet of information below. The website pushes the “book” button on each page very heavily — far more heavily than we’re used to from Disneyland Paris — with the whole of the main image (above, Sulley and Mike) linking to the official site’s Hotels page.
Clicking the “Enlarge” link doesn’t enlarge the image but actually opens a short 30 second video about each new feature in a pop-up within the page:
The “new attractions” section doesn’t have much to share yet, except for stating slightly more specifically that Toy Story Playland is due to open “late Summer”. There’s no mainpage for Toy Story Playland itself, each of the three new attractions are simply listed in the menu with separate pages:
The next area is where all that newfangled Twitter and Facebook stuff comes out to play. We’ve long been confused, baffled and dismayed the Disneyland Paris hasn’t set up its own account on these social networking services, or even on something like YouTube. Walt Disney World and Disneyland have hundreds of thousands of “fans” or followers (Disneyland over 1.2 million) on these services, whom they can address directly with news, photos and offers.
Whilst this new website embraces that idea, it doesn’t appear to be putting it to much good cause. The ‘Characters’ section gives you unique pages for each of the ‘New Generation characters’…
The pages mimic Facebook to present a profile for each of the stars, complete with live Twitter status updates. So far, only a few of the characters have updates posted — below, Mike Wazowski says “You won’t believe your eye!”…
This networking game is probably the “hook” of the website that would, in the past, have been filled with a Flash-based minigame, designed to get people to visit more than just the once.
You can also choose to see “all the Characters” for a wider (and quite random) selection of stars…
The people behind the website have been busy setting up accounts for each of the characters involved. Here’s an example of Lighting McQueen (listed by his French name, Flash McQueen, on the UK site) on Facebook and Twitter.
All good fun, and a good way to build some affinity with the “star” characters of the coming year, but with such a large number of characters it remains to be seen if these accounts will all be updated right throughout the year — not to mention how they’ll manage the difficulty of serving different languages.
One section that may well become a great source of more worthwhile updates is the “latest news” area. Not since the 15th Anniversary blog has the resort had a space like this to share official news updates with the general public. This is very welcome indeed.
It’s all pleasantly Flash-free and comes with a good selection of backstage videos — more on those soon.
The final section strays back into the hit-and-miss land of social media. Click the “register” button at the top of the site and you’ll then have the chance to “create your profile”, including uploading a photo and setting information like your “favourite place at Disneyland Paris” and whether you have an Annual Passport.
Near the end of this form you can choose to make your profile public. Doing so seems to make it viewable as part of the “Fan Community” pages… are they trying to take over from magicforum?
In fact, this again currently seems to be lacking reason. At the time of writing no “fans” appear to have added their profile to the directory, and the “search for a special offer” function is confusing — what are we searching for? It’s hard to see what all this is meant to achieve that official Disneyland Paris pages on Facebook couldn’t, much more successfully.
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.
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