Two years ago, when this old Dumbo parade float, originally created for The Wonderful World of Disney Parade in 1998, was converted into Disney Characters’ Express for the 15th Anniversary, it was perhaps the hit of the season. In one event, it brought frequent life to Main Street, U.S.A. and fulfilled many guests’ wishes for more — and more easily accessible — character meet ‘n’ greets.
And yesterday, Saturday 21st March, guests were given their very first look at the newly-redecorated engine and carriages, as a certain mouse climbed on-board Minnie’s Party Train for a special trial run, captured in these photos by julien59 on Disney Central Plaza forum…
On the whole, any blue of the old Disney Characters’ Express has simply been replaced with red polka dots for this new overlay, though there are a few exceptions — the roofs inside the carriages for example, previously white, are now red polka dots, too.
The concept art and latest marketing visual were ultimately fairly accurate, with the concept art’s colourful streamers at least making it to final design here, even if they didn’t for the lampposts of Main Street. The blue flags atop the old train are replaced by those famous Minnie Mouse bows.
However, the Mickey Mouse shapes on the top of each carriage don’t carry the logo of either the celebration or the new Party Trainas proposed, given (arguably nicer) polka dot backgrounds instead.
And of course, as the introduction described, the redecorated train certainly looks a little more blushing than its predecessor. Though all previous concepts and images showed the face remaining white with the eyes given red rather than blue outlines, the final design has kept the blue outlines — with the red instead applied to the entire face!
Fans of the previous event need not be too worried by Minnie’s commandeering, however, since the ridiculously-popular soundtrack song Tous en Train has remained — now with frequent interruptions from the new hostess.
Suddenly, the more regal, minimal Disney Characters’ Express seems very dour indeed compared to this colourful new design. Though we do hope his nasty illness clears up, before the grand premiere on 4th April…
The Mickey Star TV advertising campaign we featured back in February has reached its penultimate stage just a week before the main event, as the host of this series of special commercials arrived on the doorsteps of four children to tell them they’d been chosen to dance on-stage with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland.
Playing off the continuing success of the many television talent shows, Mickey Star invited children to audition for a part in the opening ceremony of Mickey’s Magical Party. And, as if by magic, these children were even lucky enough to have a film crew already inside their house, before they were told…
These four new stars will be joining the Mouse himself on the new Central Plaza Stage on Saturday 28th March during a special press-only event after regular park closure. They’ll have their moment in the spotlight captured on camera, and it’ll form the basis of an extended advert for the events on French channel TF1 just a day later, 29th March 2009.
Travel trade partners visiting Disneyland Resort Paris earlier this week for an “educational” trip were also given a special surprise as part of that product education — an exclusive first look at the key events of Mickey’s Magical Party. Since these are the people who’ll be trying to sell the resort and its new celebration over the next year, the organisers pulled out all the stops for an in-depth event-by-event preview.
Lights dimmed and Stitch suddenly appeared as a silhouette at the far end of the stage, rushing up toward the real DJ’s decks only to be intercepted by the event’s master of ceremonies and the upcoming show’s director, Emmanuel Lenormand…
As the crowd were whipped up in anticipation, the music began and those pink and blue-dressed sci-fi-like dancers we’ve seen before came parading onto the stage with a hugely energetic routine. Each section of the show introduced new dance steps for the audience to retrace.
The music, as anyone familiar with the California or Florida resorts will instantly recognise, comes straight from Block Party Bash, including the Motown classic “Dancing in the Streets” and… “YMCA”. Whilst the dancers’ costumes suggested the show might be tailored a little more to its Discoveryland location than we first expected, the soundtrack — at least for this preview — doesn’t quite fulfil that hope.
Toward the end of the 11-minute performance, the live host encouraged the crowd in the convention hall to repeat a chant back to the cast. Stitch, wearing an orange baseball cap, remained silent for the whole presentation. It’s expected — but not confirmed — that he will speak in the show, whereas no thought before now was given to the possibility of a live human host.
Since these presentations aim to just give a “feel” for the events and lack the actual stages and performance cues of the real shows, we’ll have to wait and see come 4th April just how much of this preview is true to fact.
Yes, the Mouse won’t be wearing his traditional suit in black, white, red and yellow, as shown in all the preview images, when he bursts upward onto the new Central Plaza Stage come April. The costume designers, including Head of Costuming Sue Lecash, have imagined a flashy new costume for the star of the show.
Shiny crisp white from head to toe, this new suit for It’s Party Time… with and Mickey and Friends has one special hidden feature. It was officially revealed in a preview video which played on the big screen at a special trade partners event earlier this week.
Take a look:
Stitched up with ultra-bright LED lights, the suit glows in colours of pink and blue, animating to a rhythm across the fabric to make it appear “luminous” when seen in daylight during the show. With its rope/pipe-like wavy lights stitched across the front and back, it perhaps event makes Mickey’s other illuminating outside — from Disney’s Fantillusion — seem subtle.
Curiously, the video ended with some shots of concept art for other Mickey Mouse costumes — we assume the ones which didn’t make the tailors’ cut.
Well, their final design is certainly only something Mickey could pull off.
Disneyland Resort Paris have long looked to main French TV network TF1 for television promotion when it comes to new attractions or events, and Mickey’s Magical Party will be no different. In fact, they’re due to launch one of their most substantial tie-ins to date: a special dance contest for children aged 5-10, in the same vein as the telephone-voting talent contests which seem to have taken over almost every nation on the planet.
In France, the two biggest shows of this kind are Nouvelle Star and Star Academy, so what to call Mickey’s own version? Mickey Star, bien sûr!
Star Acamedy‘s own Nikos Aliagas will present the broadcast, which, from 6th to 18th February, is accepting video uploads of children aged 5 to 10 dancing to a song of their choice for one minute.
Then, from 19th February, a jury of professionals at Disneyland Resort Paris will pick the best of the entrants, who will be invited to the resort on 21st or 22nd February (yes, it’s all happening very fast) to join the final auditions.
And what does the young winner receive? Why, the chance to dance live on that new Central Plaza Stage alongside Mickey, to launch the entire Mickey’s Magical Party celebration to millions of viewers on TF1 on 29th March 2009!
The first short trailers for the new tie-in have appeared on TF1 this week:
Things will actually play out a little differently to the schedule mentioned earlier, with TF1 viewers seeing adverts to check out the final auditions at the website from 8th to 19th March, with the final result announced on 20th March.
Then, from 21st March, viewers will see advertisements for the big event and the final winner’s moment of magic will come in a special extended advertisement on 29th March 2009 just before the 8pm news. The entire thing, really, is merely a series of special advertisements, with most the action being broadcast instead online.
According to the official website, though, Nikos will be on the judging panel alongside not only Mickey but Stitch and Donald Duck. Listen closely — well, perhaps you won’t have to listen too close — and you’ll hear something special in the background too: the full version of the “It’s Party Time” dance remix, all 6 minutes of this controversial, noisy, europop mash-up of the actual, really very different theme song of the year.
If you’d like to listen away from the Mickey Star website — though judging by several readers’ comments we’re not sure if you’ll appreciate knowing — you can also listen on Vasile Sirli‘s very own MySpace page. The resort’s musical director also has a few more, rather more — dare we say — “listenable” tracks on there from his archive, too.
The special video sees Mickey Mouse rushing from corner to corner all over the resort, meeting up with other characters who are shown to be preparing their entertainments for the upcoming Magical Party.
Mickey rises bright and early to begin another day of hard work…
Another close-up of the Minnie’s Party Train concepts — note that the third carriage will be different again from both the first and second.
Mickey arrives in the Stars ‘n’ Cars garage to surprise Goofy
Mushu steals the show in Mulan’s car
Characters polish up their cars
Mickey peers through a curtain to see Playhouse Disney — via greenscreen!
In the Radio Disney studios, Stitch prepares his beats to some wild camera work
The characters rehearse their moves for “It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends” backstage — with the show’s additional stars from The Jungle Book and The Lion King
Mickey emerges from the baloons…
That’s Mickey’s Magical Party!
As for the “It’s Party Time!” song, hearing a slightly wacky dance remix before the real thing maybe isn’t the best way to be introduced to the new theme music of the year, but what do you think so far? Is this another Disneyland Resort Paris song destined to stay with you almost every hour of the day?
Careful how you read that — it really will be a sad day when the 15th officially comes to a close and Candleabration is no more, but wow — this show has been through quite a few changes, hasn’t it?
Now, you could argue that’s not surprising when a show runs for almost two entire years in the most prominent spot in the park, but with the candle illumination ceremony now notching up its seventh tweaked instalment (can you list them all?), that’s unheard-of for the park.
This time, however, there’s a very good reason indeed. Simply put, the stage is gone:
So what about Candleabration? This should be its’ big finale, its’ sparkling Disneyland swan song! Don’t worry, the show directors have certainly pulled quite a special trick out the bag for these next few months… the balcony of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant!
Images from gochaton‘s YouTube video, below.
In a true “first”, both Mickey and Minnie now present the show direct from the front balcony of the Castle every night. In addition, the show has been tinkered with — quite literally — to add an extra “wow” to its finale: As the candles finish lighting, Mickey calls out to Tinker Bell, who then transforms the Château into its frosty Ice Palace overlay, something only ever seen during the park’s Christmas Season before now.
Then, as the 15th Anniversary theme “Just Like We Dreamed It” plays out, a whole mob of various Disney Characters burst out from the Castle’s gate and run down to meet and dance with the gathered crowds.
The entertainment directors’ plans to try to get Mickey and Minnie onto the balcony was first revealed here on DLRP Today in our exclusive interview with Christophe Leclercq about The Enchanted Fireworks last Summer. Though the couple couldn’t make it for Summer, obviously the people “behind the magic” have tried and tried again to make it happen: You might notice a small safety rail now appears along the balcony, each night.
Something which may surprise is the sense of scale the two characters give to the park’s icon when they’re stood right on it. With the golden 15th statues appearing like miniature toys atop its spires, seeing these real, human-sized characters up there makes clear just how big and grand Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant truly is.
Enjoy the full show, in video (begins around 1 minute 50 seconds in):
Two years and over 650 performances on, seeing Mickey and Minnie atop the Castle itself makes for a must-see farewell to this 15th Anniversary classic indeed.
It was a night of firsts, that’s for sure. For the first time ever, Walt Disney Studios Park stayed open for regular guests beyond 9pm. For the first time ever, it let guests see in the New Year within its gates. And, for the first time ever, it hosted fireworks for those same, regular guests.
But, in the process, did it surprise us all and come out on top, with the most dazzling, sky-filling show of the two? Let’s compare…
New Year’s Eve 2008/09 – Walt Disney Studios Park
Video by Kayshaman.
New Year’s Eve 2008/09 – Disneyland Park (Part 1)
New Year’s Eve 2008/09 – Disneyland Park (Part 2)
Videos by Daviddu59.
For a start, there’s one obvious downside to the Studios’ celebrations — the lack of an icon or “weenie” at the foot of the fireworks. When the New Year’s Eve celebrations were confirmed, many expected The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror to be the focal point, or Hollywood Boulevard.
However, as the clock edged toward midnight, guests were instead asked to make their way to Backlot and Place des Stars, along the “Rue Georges Méliès” of the park, with the fireworks themselves launched from the convenient base of Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular.
This downside could also have been the park’s advantage, though — not only does the lack of a large icon make the fireworks seem bigger and more impressive in the sky, but the location may have allowed the resort a little more freedom with the bigger shells and rockets, should restrictions still be imposed on New Year’s Eve.
It’s the morning after Bastille Day, the date: 15th July 2008. As guests made their way into Walt Disney Studios Park, rushing off toward Crush’s Coaster as quickly as possible, they were met with a sudden, unexpected dilemma — queue up, as normal… or get a FASTPASS ticket.
Overnight, the overwhelmingly popular spinning roller coaster in Toon Studio became the proud owner of its very own FASTPASS system — courtesy of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah.
Had over a year of complaints and requests from guests, not to mention the short-lived tests earlier this year, finally caused operations to cave in and add the advance timeslot system to the low-capacity attraction? Not quite.
From the outset, these tests had a specific start and end date — 15th to 21st July, one week only. For the set-up, new, flat signage was placed above the Flying Carpets Over Agrabah FASTPASS return times, reading “Crush’s Coaster Fastpass Tickets Distribution” in the colours and style of the attraction. To the left, the Flying Carpets Over Agrabah logo itself was covered over by an arrow pointing specifically to this attraction’s slightly displaced entrance.
Original sign (15th July) / Altered sign (16th July onwards)
Join the queue, and you’d discover the machines looked exactly the same as always. Look upwards, and the changes begin. No longer were the times ticking very slowly by as they would with the old Flying Carpets tickets — now, you’d see the timeslots cycling through up to every 30 SECONDS, right before your eyes.
The morning “crush” at Crush’s Coaster was effectively split in two for the week, with guests rushing out of Disney Studio 1 to join either the regular line or the FASTPASS distribution. Eventually, the two rather awkwardly met right in the middle of Toon Studio, and trailed back further, side-by-side!
We’ve got a videoclip of the two queues meeting, which we’ve set to some music from Finding Nemo itself for some added amusement… is there a FASTPASS for the FASTPASS distribution yet??
Finally get to the front, and you’ll become the proud owner of the closest thing to Disney gold-dust — a real, printed Crush’s Coaster fastpass ticket!
Unlike the tests earlier this year, this week-long trial attempted to test the system as fully as possible, so the tickets were authentic and customised to the attraction.
And when you returned to the attraction at your set time, how was that experience?
The entrance, fresh from other recent changes, was roped off into two distinct lines — one headed by a Cast Member checking FASTPASS tickets and allowing guests through (though only every few minutes, not constantly), the other, as usual, stretching off to the right right around the palm tree ‘Oasis’ area.
The themed sign seen earlier this year, pointing out the two lines, had returned for the occasion.
Pass the Cast Member, and you’d be walking down the first part of the line, divided in two, until you reach the turnstiles and beach hut. Here, your FASTPASS would be taken by a second Cast Member and you’d turn immediately left to join the queue at the entrance to Studio 5 — as the hoard of waiting guests in the regular queue area stared intently. Rather than being mixed naturally, their queue was completely halted as a new group of FASTPASS guests were allowed entry every few minutes.
Photo: Chris500, Disney Central Plaza forum
From here, you’d have a wait of around 15-20 minutes before you’re on-board a turtle shell and speeding around the EAC.
Back outside, and would you be thinking of getting another ticket? You’d have had to think again — all tickets were completely gone on every day of the test before even 12:30pm, such the demand and limited number made available. With a poor hourly capacity of around 900 to 1,000 guests, 40% of this was reportedly made available as FASTPASS tickets — that’s just 30 tickets per each specific timeslot.
Maybe you’d have wanted to queue up in the regular line to enjoy the attraction again? Would the wait really be as horrific as you’d expect when 40% of the capacity is eaten up by the FASTPASS system? Not quite — the queue time indicator appeared to stay relatively steady at 75 to 90 minutes throughout the week. With the ticketing system in place, you were basically waiting the same length of time with fewer people in the queue.
Several members on the French forum Disney Central Plaza have also reported that the operations team intended to test several changes to the system throughout the week, such as increasing or decreasing the amount of tickets given out or even staggering their distribution throughout the day — an initial load at 10am and another at 2pm, for example.
Now that the tests are over, the signage put back to normal and the extra queue line gone, however, there is no word about when or even if the system will return. Was this a test that ran its course and gave the operations and Imagineers the research they needed, or is it something that could be rolled out whenever park capacity reaches a peak?
As always… watch this space.
Or, if you’d like to be a little more involved, vote in our Question of the Week — simply asking “Should FASTPASS return permanently to Crush’s Coaster?”. If you can’t make your mind up, don’t worry — remain seated with your hands, arms, feet and legs inside the website, because we’ve got a full analysis of all the pros and cons of FASTPASS at Crush coming right up…
Update: You can now read the follow-up analysis to this article here.
Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant may well still be the highest class restaurant at Walt Disney Studios Park, and only a buffet restaurant at that, but this Summer it gained one significant selling-point that is sure to win over even the most stubborn critic — a new chef.
The Stitch Phone, Lucky the Dinosaur, Turtle Talk with Crush, Muppet Mobile Lab, Stitch Encounter and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor… It’s funny to think that Walt Disney Imagineer’s latest creation has arrived exclusively at this humble Production Courtyard eatery, just a few metres from their last installation — Stitch Live!.
Now, since the Imagineers have stayed true to the film, Chef Rémy doesn’t talk directly to you — he merely squeaks. But, as this cute little Audio-Animatronic sways from side-to-side to the tune of “La Vie en Rose” (also note the Pixar connection to WALL-E) or even jabs his pointed nose left and right to a modern disco song, your heart will melt…
Rémy is not only the exact, perfect size he should be, the Imagineers have clearly used the actual computer models from Pixar incredibly well.
Look closely at his face, the drawn-out body and particularly his eyes, and this is almost as good as stepping inside their computers alongside the real thing.
Only Disney and Pixar could create a turn of events that has them pushing a rat on a trolley around the tables in a restaurant, to smiles of delight from guests…
Could it be a test for the rumoured future Ratatouille attraction in Toon Studio? Perhaps. What it does prove is that Walt Disney Imagineering can create incredibly small, life-like animatronics that hold up remarkably well to close viewing.
We aren’t zooming by this one on a mad-dash dark ride or splashing by on a boat with plenty else to distract us. Chef Rémy is there, on the platter in front of us, with kids getting as close as possible, right up to his face, and he still seems real.
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