Saturday, 21st April 2007

The Toon Effect – More colour, more character

So what exactly does a second gate need? Let’s say… immersive themeing, its own character, attractions to rival those next door and enough to keep you busy for at least a day. Step into Animation Courtyard right now, and the Toon Studio project fills the entire area as if ticking these boxes piece-by-piece around the land.

The entire park is suddenly receiving a huge amount of interest from Walt Disney Imagineering, arguably more than any other Disney Park in the world. When you consider the four new attractions and two completely transformed theme areas they’re working on, it’s good to know that finally, after five years, Walt Disney Studios Park is getting more spells from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice wand than anywhere else.

Of course, much of the improvement (including the recently installed Toon Town backdrop) is still behind fences…

…But no-one can argue now that there’s a definite “buzz” about this second gate – especially not if you’re enjoying the Studios at the same time as countless construction workers…

This video features footage of the hills for the new Toon Town backdrop being lowered into place, with the briefly-presented new area music loop we mentioned in the previous Toon Studio update in the background – first a piano waltz of ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’, then an instrumental track from ‘The Rescuers’. The backdrop serves to not only place Toon Studio within its Toon Town location and cover the ImagiNations Costuming building behind, but also provide new locations for character meet ‘n’ greets along its bordering wall.

So that’s good, that’s it, the area is done. No, not by half – the old Walt Disney Studios Park might have stopped with a wall, but this Studio – for perhaps the first time – has a real trick up its sleeve…

This exciting brand new concept art was first posted by La Rouquine on Disney Central Plaza forum, and shows the expected Toon Town backdrop with its wall and studio entrance gate. A surprise addition, though, is the studio security booth. It was featured on the new map unveiled on 1st April, but with the area still under construction its presence in the final design was questionable – especially with this park’s history.

The wall, gate and archway are all distinctly more “toon” inspired than originally expected from earlier concepts, adding a huge boost of “character” to the Studios. It’s also fun to see that an idea from the very first Toon Studio concept has reappeared (and made it to reality) just in time – the “shooting schedule” board, which appears to give the times for character meets as well as details of the other productions (Crush’s Coaster, Cars, etc) currently filming.

Add it all together with details like the wavy yellow line along the middle of the street, the twisted blue toon lampposts and lots of new planting around this entrance square… and the Toon-y reality of this project is a stunning sight…

Simply a million miles from anything else at Walt Disney Studios Park, the area already exudes a fun, colourful atmosphere in these photos by Alain Littaye. Large planters hide pathways, details are everywhere and – in what could be a groundbreaking first for Imagineering – the reality actually looks more impressive than their original concepts. With Crush’s Coaster, Cars Race Rally and the new Toon Studio entrance area, this is three detail-rich areas in one relatively small space. Yet, thanks to the magic of the movies, it works.

Strangely, the “Toon Studio” lettering on the entrance arch currently faces inward, whilst on the concept – and according to logic – it should face outside of the studio, to the street where Goofy can be seen driving into the distance. An original idea here was for a food retail cart themed to “Goofy’s Catering Co.”, with the back end of the vehicle smashed into the wall. According to the latest word – and indeed to the new park map illustration, this theme is no longer planned.

Some details are still on their way, though, such as the 3D “Toon Town” lettering itself and several lights to fill the holes in the wall, like those seen on the concept above. Beyond this, the area will of course feature some brand new character locations. Mickey Mouse and The Incredibles have been shown in all recent concepts, but Ratatouille is the only confirmed taker for a spot in the new area, due to arrive in-person (or rather in-rodent-form) from 16th June 2007.

The photo above, by Scrooge on Disney Magic Interactive forum, shows the placement of the backdrop and security booth in relation to the rest of the new area, nestled in the corner next to Crush’s Coaster. The large bushes in front of this square, hiding it from guests passing by on “Route 66” outside Cars, can also be clearly spotted.

More hidden “weenies”, as they’re called in Imagineering terminology (like weenies in the distance drawing guests toward them) can be found a little closer to the current Animation Courtyard area. MagicMouse on Disney Central Plaza forum snapped the following photo over the fences a few weeks ago, giving an amazing angle on the new Studio 5. Picture Walt Disney Studios as you remember it, then take a look at this – the “Toon Effect” at its best…

The photo also shows details such as the green metal lamps attached to the dark wooden poles in the area, the blue fence surrounding the Animation Courtyard side of Cars and the light wooden supports for the future Crush’s Coaster entrance sign, which was recently revealed by WDSFans.com in an updated piece of concept art.

The effects of the project haven’t just been felt in the new area either. Finally, some major changes to the existing Animation Courtyard have been completed, such as Animagique‘s new blue colour scheme and the new flooring pattern. Interestingly, the flooring directly in front of and surrounding Animagique has yet to be completed, despite this area being re-opened to the public. Concepts and even the new park map have shown new planters and flowers here on the unused overflow queue area, so this could indeed be a possibility for the future.

One thing that’s certain – blue is without doubt still the “in” colour for Toon design. Even the wall bordering this part of the land is ready to receive a coat, just like the extended wall leading up to Crush’s Coaster has. One notable absence of blue, though, is on the new railings surrounding the trees added way back in October. Not only has the railing taken over six months to arrive, but it features exactly the same pale green colour and style as the others around Disney Bros. Plaza – hardly giving an exciting entrance to the wonders of the “Toon Effect” that lie beyond…

And so here we are – less than one month to go until Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally are officially handed over from Walt Disney Imagineering to Euro Disney SCA for final operations tests. With the entire area expected to be complete by 9th June, this leaves exactly seven weeks for the Toons (and their Imagineers) to complete the transformation. They’ve come a long way already, but with an entrance statue to install, a Sorcerer Hat to decorate, flooring to finish and a whole new area to polish off, Mickey had better get working that magic wand…

Latest photos with thanks to Alain Littaye’s ‘Disney & More’ blog, Scrooge on Disney Magic Interactive forum, Mousy.be and Photos Magiques.

Tuesday, 17th April 2007

(Video) Candleabration daytime

But wait – to say this show is “grand” might conjure up the wrong kind of image. There’s no lavish sets, expensive props or pyrotechnics here. Step back and look at the action – what do we have? Performers, flags, hats, characters and one very special castle. It hardly seems like the makings of an epic, show-stopping Broadway musical, yet the moment the brass fanfare begins and those flags are waved in beat to the “Flying” theme… you’re part of something truly special. There’s talent at work here, and a whole lot of magic.

It’s spectacularly grand yet astoundingly simple. Unique and original yet completely inspired by The Enchanted Fairytale Ceremony. Brilliantly French and European yet filled with American Disney characters.

The strangest thing about Candleabration, though, (as almost any guest will notice) is its general performance time of 6pm. Performed under the spell of darkness at 9pm, as during last week’s busy Easter holidays, it’s a mesmerising show of dazzling lights and energy. Performed as the sun is preparing to set at 6pm, it’s a grand – yet slightly mellow – salute to fifteen magical years, with the ‘Bougillumination‘ restricted to the sparkle of ultra-bright LEDs across the castle.

But perhaps this is the real magic – if you’ve seen it once, you’ve still not nearly experienced the whole show. Rather like Disneyland itself.

Sunday, 15th April 2007

(Video) Alpha Bet You Are

The Pumpkin Men, the Pink Witches and many more inbetween – creating new, original characters has been a tradition of Disneyland Resort Paris which sets it apart from other Disney resorts for years. But how about characters without eyes, without heads, and without arms? This unique streetmosphere creation by show director Emmanuel Lenormand, filing out onto Main Street USA to a playful soundtrack four times each morning, is a daring departure for Disney, and certainly something you would never see in Florida or California.

So just where did it come from? According to Emmanuel’s interview on the ‘Media Magic’ blog… merchandise. It seems that, upon seeing the interesting 2007-brand merchandise in the Emporium one day last October, he thought the same as DLRP Today – could these become real characters? Emmanuel had just been charged with creating a new morning show in Main Street for the anniversary year using the new talents of the varied Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade performers, and the character-themed numbers of “2007” (featuring Goofy as “2”, Mickey as “7”, and so on) sparked his imagination. The letters soon became ten, however – spelling out “Disneyland” – a perfect welcome for guests entering the park for the first time.

As Emmanuel describes, “These are enormous, magical letters, and we have worked on a choreography with lots of humour. My original idea was that, at the start, you wouldn’t understand what was going on – you see lots of huge forms, then you realise that the letters progressively form the word ‘Disneyland’ in the street – in giant form, since certain letters measure 2.8 metres high!”.

The performers inside aren’t actually true character performers but largely puppeteers (such as those of Animagique or the new Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade), who have a better ability to judge movement and balance – and to control the movements of the costumes from inside. Each letter has its own moving element, and each one (aside from the two letter “D”‘s) its own character theme.

The large and small letter ‘D’ are, describes Emmanuel, “like the overture and finale of the act”, both letters featuring a plain theme with the 15th Anniversary emblem and a wobbling hand on springs. Letter ‘I’ is Goofy, with a dot above itself that can spin 360 degrees and suspenders that can fall off and lift back up. ‘S’ is Daisy, dressed in glittery pink with a white petticoat and a large, moveable bow. Since letter ‘N’ is featured twice in the word, this role goes to Chip ‘n’ Dale, who are depicted with soft brown fur and red and black noses – which can move up and down the entire length of the letter!

Letter ‘E’ can’t be mistaken – the familar colours and clothing of Donald Duck, with a tail of feathers, sailor stripes and even a beret than can be raised to courtesy. Leader of the club, it’s Mickey Mouse – letter ‘Y’, with his famous red shorts, yellow buttons and flapping mouse ears. Following right behind, letter ‘L’, his love Minnie Mouse. Decorated completely with polka dots and her famous ribbon, Minnie’s ears also flap slightly as she kneels to courtesy for guests. Finally, following the Mouse couple, their faithful pal Pluto – letter ‘A’. Brown fur and long, black, wiggling ears give him away, not least his dog-like characteristics as he runs and sits on a whim… though he hasn’t quite mastered “roll over” yet.

An important part of this early-morning party is its music. Mixing classic Disney songs such as “Zip-a-Dee-Dah”, “Following the Leader”, “I Wanna Be Like You” and “Mickey Mouse Club March” with new lyrics recorded by choir children from the Seine-et-Marne region, the music is a lively and quirky addition to a morning on Main Street. Musical director Vasile Sirli was behind the brand new music, using the Budapest Pop Orchestra, familiar with the resort since their work on The Wonderful World Of Disney Parade and Disney’s ImagiNations Parade, to record the eclectic instrumental backing, which features a new instrumental theme also heard in Candleabration.

Video

“We’re following the letters, the letters! Sing with us – D-I-S-N-E-Y-L-A-N-D!”

The streetmosphere performance is currently scheduled at 10h15, 11h15, 12h15 and 13h15, entering Main Street from Plaza Gardens/Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor and making its way to the centre of the street to spell “Disneyland” and meet guests before dispersing again and gradually exiting through Town Square/Discovery Arcade.

With thanks to Media Magic Blog for their interview with Emmanuel Lenormand.

Saturday, 14th April 2007

(Video) Dreams of Power takes control

The official “first day” performance of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade. The sun was shining, crowds were eager and characters putting on their very best performance. “Once upon a dream”, it truly was…

But then, they arrived. The park forever warns during Disney’s Halloween Festival not to trust a Disney Villain, and, now that Disney’s most vicious cast of characters have their very own float year-round for the first time, it seems we need to keep a watchful eye on this motley gang…

As the final burst of the parade’s show stop music came to an end and Ursula cackled her final “Just Like We Dreamed It!”, each of the floats’ individual scores started up again. Maleficent scowled at the audience… but failed to move. As worried glances spread across the parade control Cast Members and the characters continued on with their performances, the parade – from float 5: Dreams of Power onwards at least – remained at a stand still. Memories of a performance during the previous week’s rehearsal runs – when the float ceased movement for a short time at the exact same spot – will have sprung to mind for everyone involved.

A good five to ten minutes on and music is suddenly cut from the float, with extra crew rushing in along the parade route to check on the troubled float. Watching from the sidelines, coincidentally, was the Fairy Godmother. No, she didn’t cast a spell to end the villains’ nightmare, she was attempting to take a break from her role at L’Auberge du Cendrillon‘s new princess dining, before getting caught up in the chaos and having to “shoo” away Ursula’s slimy green sea creatures.

Whilst the Evil Queen from Snow White (a character almost never seen at Disneyland Resort Paris before this parade) looked entirely unimpressed with her problematic float, the undefeated Maleficent continued to whirl and whip her hugely acclaimed new firey costume for the entire time.

The audience watching at Royal Castle Stage, where the incident occured, were surprisingly patient considering the long wait and warm sun above, with very few deciding to move on to other attractions. Either the audience had a lot of faith in Disney’s showmanship, or the tantalising glimpse at the colours of Dreams of Adventure just around the corner kept them hooked.

Just as parade control decided to switch performers in front of each float, to give the audience some variety to what they were watching, a sudden flurry of radio messages and a reappearance of technical crew from behind the float saw it spring back into action, met with a round of applause from everyone watching. But, alas, this wasn’t the end of the parade’s problems, with the final Dreams of Romance (Part 2) float performing in complete silence – without any music – for the entire run.

Our exclusive video clips from the unfortunate first-day performance of the park’s new parade begin toward the end of the problems, including the re-start of the float itself.

With each float having it’s own computer to control music and the exact position of the show stops, it seems that whilst the dreams themselves may be full of magic, talent and wonderful artistry… technology may not always be on their side. Not least when a Disney Villain is involved.

Saturday, 14th April 2007

(Video) Flying Carpets over Toon Studio

The life of a Disneyland Resort Paris fan. For the past year, one attraction has become a firm favourite, a must-ride, an unmissable part of every visit – Flying Carpets Over Agrabah!! With the end in sight on the entire Toon Studio project (Walt Disney Imagineering must officially hand over the new attractions to Euro Disney SCA from mid-May), the end could also be in sight for this attraction’s newfound popularity with fans. When you can walk right up to Cars Race Rally, there’s not much need to crane your neck and desperately click away on your camera’s shutter, as your flying carpet swirls around and you begin to regret that ‘Magic Cheeseburger’ from Restaurant En Coulisse.

Heading toward Flying Carpets, there are new things to see and changes to be noticed even before you reach the Genie’s green room, such as the new checkerboard flooring (which still doesn’t seem quite right)…

Or maybe the new lights targeted toward Crush’s outdoor set. Far smaller than the huge lighting rigs on original concepts, these sleek, dark green lights will help illuminate the fresque at night with an undersea glow. Across the courtyard, Animagique is still getting some desperately-needed care and – of course – a new blue colour scheme.

And now, here we are – Flying Carpets Over Agrabah! Ready to go “on set”? We’re not the actors today, we’re the cameramen! Lens focused, shutter finger ready, ready to get your Carpet up high as fast as possible? Here we go…

Full height and our first photo. With just weeks to go, it’s a relief to see work has progressed with incredible speed. Over at Cars Race Rally, you can see the metal frame of the new Flying Carpets-style backdrop, new filmset lights lined up along the turquoise boarding canopy, the “Leaning Tower of Tires” at Luigi’s Casa Della Tires, the Flo’s V8 Café sign awaiting its neons and the dark and dirty wooden storefront of Lizzie’s Radiator Springs Curios. The thick oasis of palm trees block much of the Crush’s Coaster area now, but you can at least see the second tall, green lighting rig and silver queue line railings matching those in front of Flying Carpets.

The general Toon Studio area of course has its recognisable blue twisted lampposts along with new planters marked out, a yellow wall, a grand entrance gate (on the right) and a growing Toon Town backdrop.

On the next swirl of the flying carpet, we look instead to the old Animation Courtyard area and its huge collection of fences. In front of Animagique, a change in the checkerboard pattern can be noticed, creating a zig-zag “sunburst” effect radiating out of the circular edge of the Studio 3 waiting area. It remains to be seen if new planters will be added here, as in several of the early concepts.

Since the canopy and fabric walls of the Arabian viewing platoform have yet to be replaced after the frame was painted purple, a view across to the new attractions is actually a little easier than before. On a close zoom below, you can see not only part of the completed Casa Della Tires storefront but also new lighting attached to the dark wooden poles in front of Crush’s Coaster. Similar, but smaller, blue lights can be seen on metal poles near Cars.

And with that, the Genie has his scene and the ride is over! But now, you can experience the “making of” so many construction updates in the past year with what is perhaps the first video construction update from onboard the Carpets – with all the frantic zooming and twisting to desperately capture a few clear shots. Flying Carpets Over Agrabah will never be the same come June 9th…


Flying Carpets over Toon Studio + Walkaround Tour
Presented in Widescreen Fan-o-Vision
Video by DLRP Today

The video also includes a walk-around tour of Animation Courtyard on 1st April 2007, showing the exact progress of the new and remade land on the first official day of the Anniversary festivities that will launch its new attractions come June.

Listen out in the background, too – hear something different? Yes, that’s the new Toon Studio area loop! A mix of more jazzy music with some laidback piano and lounge, the loop also finally features a selection from Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 along with favourites such as The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast and The Aristocats. More diverse music choices in the mix include The Rescuers and a jazz version of Walt Disney World’s Spectromagic theme! Unlike the old loop, the film scores aren’t always taken directly from their original soundtracks, either – many of the songs are alternate, instrumental versions in a slightly quirky “lounge” style. Some, such as The Aristocats, even appear to be taken from old entertainment productions such as ‘Disney Classics: The Music and the Magic’. The loop first appeared around 30th March, replacing the old, more orchestral loop which was ported over directly from Disney-MGM Studios Florida’s Animation Courtyard. If you’d like to hear more, though, it looks (or sounds) like you’ll have to wait until June – member Kinoo on MagicForum reports the loop has reverted back to the original after these first trials.

Of course, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah isn’t the only angle for Toon Studio updates. As the two attractions have grown above the construction fences, their presence in the land – and across the park – is unmissable, particularly the bright turquoise roof of Flo’s V8 Café, or the round, tiled entrance to the ride itself, seen below receiving some extra touch-ups to its impressive detail and weathering. It’s obvious that, with the June opening of the new area, Walt Disney Studios will suddenly have a huge amount of new icons and detail – not to mention some real themed areas to escape into.

Another angle available thanks to the current construction fence set-up is to try to look as inconspicuous as possible, place your camera on the floor and quickly snap the shutter. From here, we can see some new blue railings around the Cars Race Rally area next to Art of Disney Animation, not to mention a better look at the work going into themeing the canopy of Flo’s V8 Café beyond. In the second photo, paintwork, railings and even posters can be seen in the queue area – a full-zoom revealing the poster advertises Ramone’s House of Body Art, upon which the circular entrance building is based.

Whether you’re a fan or a casual visitor, the impact of Toon Studio on the park – its buildings, its themeing, its icons – is finally starting to be seen from all angles.

Saturday, 14th April 2007

(Video) Disney Characters’ Express

Mixing the music and movement of a normal parade with dedicated, up-close character meet ‘n’ greets, Disney Characters’ Express presents quite a unique event. Taking place several times in the morning and early afternoon, the event seems to be most inspired by the popular Walt Disney Studios Park mini-parade Good Morning Walt Disney Studios, which sees characters “arrive on set for filming” aboard luxurious Hollywood cadillacs. As this mini-parade reaches Place des Stars stage, the characters climb out and mingle with the guests. For Disney Characters’ Express, the concept has been taken further, with dedicated spots around Central Plaza for the characters to meet guests.

After the opening announcement, the redesigned Casey Jr enters the park from next to Discovery Arcade at Town Square, “steams” all the way up Main Street USA, “En route au coeur du magie!” (On-route for the heart of the magic), and comes to a halt directly in front of the castle…

The dancers/minders help their characters to climb down from the wagons, before they escort them through the frantic crowds to their specific locations around the hub, which help to give guests a better chance to meet the stars. Four è locations have been added at each corner, featuring the inescapable French candlestick host from Beauty and the Beast against a giant “15” backdrop featuring the Disneyland Resort Paris logo – perhaps to remind guests where their holiday photos were taken?

Characters usually head to the corner of the resort which most suits their theme, for example Pinocchio will head to the left of the Castle, Buzz Lightyear to the Discoveryland entrance and Chip ‘n’ Dale to the Frontierland corner. This just leaves Casey Jr, and his engine driver, to take a well-deserved rest…

Video

Featuring footage from two separate performances, our full video of Disney Characters’ Express therefore features two different train-loads of Disney passengers – can you spot the difference?

The characters usually change with each journey of “le petit train”, though some of the key characters (such as Chip ‘n’ Dale) are almost always present. This not only encourages guests to catch the event more than once in their day, but also opens up the possibility for some rarer characters to be featured throughout the year.

Sunday, 8th April 2007

(Video) 15th Launch Night: Candleabration Fireworks

Throughout the day, and especially in the hours before the spectacular launch night event, fans filled the park, put up with being pushed aside to accommodate the press, and soaking up the magic, the buzz and the atmosphere of the night. It wasn’t hard to a spot a fan on the 31st – either by their endless filming and photographing or proud display of circa-1992 Euro Disney clothing and accessories, the celebration truly began with the fans.

Over six months of following the preparations online or in the parks, and of course 15 magical years themselves, had all been leading to this moment. In just a few minutes, the celebration would officially begin, and with it one of the biggest and most important years in the resort’s history.

With Daniel Powter’s well-received performance of two songs finished, he quickly ran of stage to allow a team of crew members to remove the sleek white piano and audio equipment, ready for Candleabration. Along Main Street, the air was filled with the opening synth notes of “Just Like We Dreamed It” for around 10 minutes, with a strange, faint murouring of deep-toned speech on top, only adding to the sense of anticipation.

Finally, with the stage set, lights across the park suddenly dimmed and the fibre-optic “15” plaque glowed and sparkled, the christmas lights on the Castle joining in with their own strobe flashes and sparkles. Trumpets blasted out, heralding the start of Candleabration, before the music faded into the popular Peter Pan “Dreams” theme and the crowds gasped in delight.

As the entrance of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant was illuminated from inside and smoke poured out, returning an image from the 1992 Grand Opening, the team of flag artists and dancers ran up onto the stage and began their routine, cutting through the air with their blue 15th Anniversary flags to the beats of the music.

The music reached its climax, and suddenly a surprise diversion from the usual Candleabration routine began. Arriving on stage first was not Mickey, but instead Lumière – a very special host just for this evening, and a character not seen in-person at Disneyland Resort Paris perhaps since the end of Videopolis’ Beauty and the Beast stage show. Lumière began “Bonsoir Paris! Et Bienvenue!” before joining the shimmering blue-and-white dancers – now with their white top hats for a majestic dance routine set to swirling strings and powerful trumpets, a moment usually enjoyed by Mickey in the regular show.

Behind them, the Castle turrets sparkled and projection patterns sweeped across its towers, before the music reached a dramatic climax and Lumière raised his candles into the sky with the dancers and their hats.

Passing the reigns over to the one that started it all, Lumière announced in French “Ladies and gentlement, please give a warm welcome to our incomparable host, acommpanied by some children full of dreams!,” and welcomed Mickey Mouse onto the stage – “Bonsoir monsieur!”. Mickey replied “Bonsoir Lumière!” before turning to the crowd – “Good evening everybody! Hey, say folks, do you believe in dreams? You do?! Awww, that’s swell!”

As a line of around fifteen children filed onto the stage, in front of the dance team, Mickey continued “You see, I’ve invited some very special friends to be here tonight! And, they’re going to share their dreams with us!”. In the background, the faint opening notes of the score for the resort’s 15th Anniversary teaser trailer played throughout. With the children ready, dressed in their blue outfits and yellow scarfs from the pre-parade earlier, Mickey turned to them – “Hiya kids! Tonight, I’ve got a very special – magical – gift for every one of you!”.

Pointing to the stars the children were holding, he announced “These magical stars have the power to make your dreams come true! So just lift your star, as high as you can, up towards the sky! Now, close your eyes, and make a wish!”. Sleeping Beauty Castle turned a dreamy shade of blue, dotted with stars, as the familiar voice of the Blue Fairy from the park’s Wishes Nighttime Spectacular filled the air and translated for Mickey in French. The children then held their glowing, multicoloured stars, as high as they could, and proclaimed “By the power of this magic star, make our dreams come true”.

“Remember children, never stop believing in your dreams, for they are the real magic in the world” the Blue Fairy concluded. “So, listen to your heart, and watch…” “Alors, ecoutez votre coeur, et regardez..!”

Lights faded, the children turned and music swelled to its full rhythm, as Mickey clasped his hand and threw the dreams of the children across the face of Le Château. One by one, fantastical, colourful digital projections of children encountering Disney characters across the resort filled the towers, turrets and spires of the Castle as the rhythm of the music provided a perfect time for the audience to look back on the past fifteen years – and gasp in wonder.

When the dreams faded away, the echoing choir and chords of the “dreams” theme music faded in, joined by a moving projection of a huge red carpet across the Castle, bouncing from side to side and wrapping itself around the turrets. Mickey rejoined his usual Candleabration speech, announcing “You know folks, today is a very special day! 15 Years of dreams and magic, and – fifteen candles! So keep your eyes open, ’cause this is going to be one of the most magical moments ever!”

Music climbed to another deafening climax, the spires shimmered and sparkled with hundreds of lights and Mickey reached out with both hands, stretching out to the audience before turning and pointing his magic toward the Character Castle Makeover.

Then, one by one, timed exactly to the beats of the Peter Pan “dreams” music, each of the fifteen candles burst to life with a flickering, orange glow and an extra “ping” in the music. The audience watching from Main Street shouted the numbers – “eleven!” “twelve!” – and then, the “bougillumination” was complete. Lights flickered across the spires and sweeped up Tinkerbell’s trail of pixie dust, culminating in a burst of gold confetti from her wand, perfectly illuminated and met with a perfect “ooooh!” from the crowd below.

But the party was only just beginning. Minnie stepped on stage and proclaimed “Oh Mickey, c’est magnifique!”, followed by Pluto, Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Chip n Dale – “And now, it’s time to celebrate our fifteen magical years!”, Mickey announced, as the characters prepared their instruments and “Just Like We Dreamed It” began… with a spectacular burst of fireworks.

To the full, extended version of the theme music, the characters danced and played their instruments whilst a huge, colourful, choreographed fireworks display filled the sky behind them.

Each burst of music, each note, was met in synchronisation with a score of fireworks in every shape, size and colour. From sparkling “wishes” rockets for the “Magically…” chorus end, to giant, pounding, bursts to the drum beats of the third chorus, the display began with simple red rockets and progressed to giant, airbourne, golden bursts like nothing seen at the resort for years.

Whilst budgets and local area laws usually restrict displays, for this night – and this night only – Disneyland Resort Paris threw everything it had at the performance – and into the sky. Even when the display ended with Mickey and Minnie wishing the park “Joyeux Anniversaire!” and a final shimmer of fireworks burning out, the party wasn’t over. “Just Like We Dreamed It” kick-started again for a special encore, as close to 50 huge golden shells exploded above the Castle, filling the sky, as smaller bursts of gold shot upwards below.

The characters danced off stage as the music came to a final climax, Mickey and Minnie dancing a celebratory waltz, before another – final – series of fireworks shot into the sky. If the 15th Anniversary is their big chance to finally turn around the background finances of the resort, they’re not taking any chances. Live music, castle illuminations, character shows, decorations, and extraordinary fireworks – Disneyland Resort Paris has a second childhood, and it knows how to party.

And now… the video!

With the ceremony complete, the press departed for their exclusive Red Carpet party, the 15th Anniversary finally here and now, this simply left fans and guests to enjoy the magic of a fifteen-year-old Main Street USA in Paris shimmering with magic more than ever before…

…Before guests finally said goodnight and an early “Joyeux Anniversaire!” to Disneyland Park, overwhelmed and spirits on high that The Year to Live Your Dream had already come true.

Photos by Photos Magiques and DLRP Today, some © Disney.

Sunday, 8th April 2007

(Video) 15th Launch Night: Daniel Powter

The new 15th Anniversary banners lining Main Street, illuminated the entire day, began to glow and sparkle brighter as the day turned to night. Whilst park closing was scheduled for 8pm, guests were invited to stay behind to enjoy the anniversary launch night – albeit shunted back to the corner of Gibson Girl and Casey’s Corner, to ensure the press in front had (more than enough) room to breathe.

Whilst a little choatic crowd management and a tension and anticipation for the launch filled the half-hour wait, the castle suddenly began to glow in its anniversary colours, as the giant “15” plaque sparkled with golden fibre optics before fading to black. The same voice from the day’s earlier ceremonies, that of the mayor of Main Street, then introduced, with great power “We are proud, and honoured to have with us tonight a very special guest. Please, give a warm welcome, to mr. Daniel Powter!”

Daniel Powter then appeared on the 15th Anniversary stage of Central Plaza, in front of a Sleeping Beauty Castle filled with various colours and projections, seated at a huge, sleek white piano installed just a few hours prior. He began by whispering “Bonsoir!” before launching into his hit song “Bad Day”.

Daniel then announced “I was asked to write a song for all the Disney parks around the world. And so, I’m proud to present, the Paris premiere of ‘The World You’ve Dreamed of Lately’. The castle colours changed to a warmer pink tone and the resort’s crane camera swooped swung around above the stage, as the night was filled with dreamy, reflective live music to celebrate fifteen years of magic.

Our own exclusive video below also includes a few clips preceding the start of the night’s events, showing the atmosphere and lights on Main Street USA as daylight faded and anticipation climbed…

Fans of Daniel, or indeed of Disney Parks around the world, may notice the familiar piano – and the familiar events which unfolded. The Canadian-born singer appears to almost be on a world tour of Disney Parks, this being his second performance after a Christmas performance at Disneyland Resort in California for the traditional Walt Disney World Christmas TV special. A press release from the time said:

“[…] The Walt Disney Company was looking for an artist and a song to capture the emotional connection that people have when they think of Disney Parks. Having fallen in love with Daniel’s songs and their simplicity, vocal styling and irresistible soaring melodic hooks, they were sure that he was their man. Daniel was thrilled with the opportunity, and after a few meetings with Disney, he penned the song ‘The World You’ve Dreamed of Lately’. He performed it live for the first time on ABC’s Christmas special The Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade.”

An alternate version of the song appears to be on public release entitled “Love You Lately”.

Photos 3-4 by Photos Magiques.

Sunday, 8th April 2007

(Video) Once upon a dream/nightmare premiere

With the 15th Anniversary Pre-Parade and Andie MacDowell’s launch ceremony moved on, Mickey & friends departed to prepare and the press lined up on their viewing platform, the time had come. The grand premiere of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade was about to begin! The weather was far from a dream – cloudy skies and increasing rainfall – but for the cast, crew and creators of the park’s first new daytime parade in over five years, their dream was about to finally, officially begin.

Music perfectly synchronised, cast giving their best performance and floats littered with fully-working effects and details… the view of the parade travelling down Main Street USA was apparently “perfection”.

Of course, we’ll probably never see the full collection of photos from this premiere – no, cloudy skies are a definite no-no for Disney, especially when they’ve other, sunnier days in the calendar to capture the new parade. The three photos above are the only ones officially released, with the fourth part of a larger set from earlier in the week – noticable since the Dreams of Imagination float is missing key details such as its anchor and stars.

And now, we turn another page…

The music sure was perfect for the press, but at a cost. Since the individual float scores and computerised show stops add up to one of the most complicated and hard-to-align parade soundtracks the park has ever attempted, and – perhaps more importantly – the press’ location between Town Square and the body of Main Street is the bridge between two “sections” of the parade route’s usual audio system, the entire parade used just one single synchronisation. So, whilst Dreams of Imagination pulled into view of the press and they heard the opening announcement, so too did normal guests in Fantasyland, at that moment enjoying Float 7 – Dreams of Adventure.

For anyone North of Town Square, no pre-parade announcement or song was heard, the floats simply trundled into view with their respective soundtracks playing only from the on-float speakers. Then, as the entire sound system cut to join up with Town Square, a silence of around two minutes fell upon the entire cavalcade, before the pre-parade song of “Just Like We Dreamed It” took over the loop.

It wasn’t only guests who rightly appeared confused at the muddled soundtrack – the parade’s cast also had a hard time keeping up with what was going on, such as the Green Army Men (in our video below), who first appear to ask the parade control Cast Member what was happening before giving up on their choreography (timed to the usual Toy Story music from their float) and simply waving to the crowds. With the break for the pre-parade song and announcement over, the float soundtracks finally began again and the parade and its cast could continue as normal.

The video also includes footage of the two show stops around Town Square. Even though music was perfect for the show the press was seeing unfold, it once again caused problems for anyone watching beyond this point, with Dreams of Imagination serenaded by Peter Pan music and Dreams of Fantasy met with dreamy princess music. But, despite this, the parade ended on a high and was met with great response from guests – a relief considering the increasing downpour they had to endure.

Watch out in particular for the fantastic choreography of the Peter Pan show stop, with the flag artists throwing their flags into the air and across the parade route to each other, all the while with Peter and Wendy running from Hook in perfect time to “Just Like We Dreamed It”. Once again, the cast made the once upon a dream.


Blue and yellow volunteers look out for the parade, rain-rain-rain pours down-down-down on the exposed press platform as the resort’s crane camera towers overhead.


Dreams pass by without a problem, all met with great cheers from the volunteers.


Peter Pan and the pirate captain shrug their shoulders as Dreams of Fantasy comes to a halt, improvising with a pirate jig before “Just Like We Dreamed It” begins and they realise it’s a second, unscheduled show stop.


The hot-tempered Dreams of Power luckily decides not to throw a tantrum today (unlike the following day), as the Dreams continue and rain gets heavier.


Tropical rainstorm dampens the dreams.


At least the rain is good for the spring flowers!


The gate closes on the grand premiere and the blue and yellow volunteers traverse Main Street creating another memorable spectacle, in reverse.


Meanwhile, as the floats are dried off and the dancers wrung out like a wet towel, the cleaners are kept more than busy with the debris of the launch ceremony and two streamer-filled show stops on Main Street.

Saturday, 7th April 2007

(Video) 15th Anniversary Pre-Parade

The time: 14:45. The place: Disneyland Park parade route. The spectacle: spectacular! Whilst the clouds above grew thicker and rain began to pour down, Disneyland Resort Paris had the perfect treatment to lift spirits – and get the 15th Anniversary launch off to an unforgettable start.

As the clock hit quarter-to and the sence of anticipation along the parade route grew stronger, the sound of live music suddenly began in the distance and a classic Disneyland-esque marching band strolled into view. Dressed all in red, white and gold, the marching band has long been a Disneyland tradition – although the last memorable performance in Paris was perhaps as long ago as the 5th Anniversary pre-parade of 1997.

Playing jazzed-up Disney melodies such as the “Mickey Mouse March” and “Under the Sea”, they led the way for the Fab 5’s special anniversary float – the redecorated Snow White unit from Disney Princess Parade, retired just one week earlier. The characters wore their blue “Year of a Million Dreams” and Candleabration costumes, dancing around the red carpet slide at the centre of the float, which had also been decorated in large blue plaques featuring the new resort logo.

After the float – a sea of blue and yellow! Disney Cast Members from across the park joined together with Disney VoluntEARS from across the region to help parade hundreds of white, yellow and blue ballons with fifteen larger balloons – counting up the numbers from 1 to 15. Everyone involved got blue hats, yellow scarves and a special blue raincoat decorated with the two anniversary logos.

The pre-parade marched all the way to Main Street USA, in front of the press podium, where it met Andie MacDowell and resort ambassador Arnauld Gayet for the grand launch ceremony.

Photos 1-5 by Photos Magiques.

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