Saturday, 7th April 2007

(Video) Disney Characters’ Express press premiere

“Tous en train! All aboard! The Disney Characters’ Express is coming!”

As the infinitely catchy reworked music from Tokyo Disneyland’s 2001 “Party Express” and Hong Kong Disneyland’s “Rainy Day Parade” started up across Central Plaza and the guest flow Cast Members joined in with clapping and *choo choo* actions, the press looked from side to side nervously. Lined up in black with their oversized press badges (someone in the press department must still be laughing), camera tripods and glamorous female presenters along the hub of Central Plaza facing the castle, they were about to be treated to a special premiere performance of Disney Characters’ Express – that would leave the paying guests out in the cold.

The former Dumbo Casey Jr. float rounded the corner of Main Street, pistons pumping and smoke puffing, before coming to a stop right in front of the eager crowd. The characters and dancers continued dancing to the music long after it stopped, as the camera crews stepped right up to the train for some character close-ups. Whilst at this point the characters would normally climb down and run off to their four Lumière photo locations around the hub as normal Main Street music returned, here they were asked to instead continue dancing to practically no noise.

Soon enough, Miley Cyrus (who rode aboard the first carriage all the way from Town Square) was trailed by a desperate band of photographers – and her hefty American agent/minder, before jumping onto each of the following carriages and continuing to run up onto the Central Plaza stage to dance for the cameras. Meanwhile, television presenters from across Europe assembled to film quick reports to camera…

The presenter from TeleMadrid was notable since she looked to be truly enjoying herself, whilst being particularly taken with Pinocchio… and visa-versa…!

As cameras continued to roll for almost 20 minutes, guests continued to try attracting the attention of their favourite characters – many of which infact seemed far more interested with their public rather than the invited press. The dancers onboard the express also deserve credit for continuing the smile and dance for such a long period.

You can see more of the press breathlessly capturing the magic – including footage of Miley Cyrus and François Leroux – in our exclusive video:

With the extended stop over, guest flow shephered the remaining photographers back onto the hub (those who hadn’t trailed after Miley to the Central Plaza stage) and the Disney Characters’ Express returned all the way back down Main Street for a rest. Though that doesn’t mean its crew stopped performing for the public’s cameras…

Luckily, this wasn’t the last the public saw of the streetmosphere parade/meet’n’greet on the 31st – it returned almost every hour right up until the early evening, always with the proper public meet ‘n’ greets included.

Friday, 6th April 2007

(Video) A classic Main Street welcome for guests

Approaching the park through Fantasia Gardens, the rush of guests was already much stronger than the day before, with extra ‘Guest Flow’ Cast Members even positioned out front to direct guests. At the top of the gardens, it immediately became clear Disneyland had been very busy overnight, with the new, recorated, Lumière entrance adding a new touch of gold and blue to the 15-year-old Disneyland Hotel.

The banners seen on the resort hub and around Central Plaza had also now made their way to the gardens, surrounding the Disney Legends statue whose wand pointed upwards to a blue sky… that wouldn’t last (look out for another article with slightly sunnier pictures than 31st March soon!).

New park entrance decoration and banners

The entrance itself is a brilliant overlay of the 1992 original, replacing the old Euro Disney-years’ castle silhouette with a new 3D Lumière and two new oval plaques displaying the 15th Anniversary logo and castle. The plaques appear as if they’ve been on the entrance for fifteen years themselves, the design is so in tune with the entrance. For once, seasonal decorations that won’t make an Imagineer cringe!

The surprises didn’t stop with the new entrance. Stepping through the turnstiles, guests were greeted by one of the rarest sights from the resort’s history – a live dixie brass band performing at the foot of Main Street Station! Fresh from their brief appearance at the earlier Red Carpet Ceremony for the press, they gave a hint of the things to come during this day of new surprises and returning favourites…

Dixie brass band under Main Street Station

Not everything in the park for the anniversary was quite so complimentary to the theme, though at least they were trying. The huge white press platform erected a day earlier was given a new covering of “15” logo symbols, to make clear it was only a temporary feature for the anniversary press event. Lights surrounded the platform, important for the cloudy day, whilst film crews already began to prepare their waterproof camera covers for the afternoon’s launch ceremony.

Press viewing platform takes over Town Square

Lights were also positioned along the length of Main Street, as were large blue and white balloons containing confetti, to be burst during the launch ceremony later. A temporary projection and filming booth on the roof of North-East Main Street provided the location for many of the official press photos to be featured in later articles, as well as the source of the startling projections seen during the night’s special performance of Candleabration.

Lights and balloons prepare for the afternoon’s opening ceremony

Walking further on, right down the middle of Main Street USA, as it happened, and suddenly another lost favourite from the past strolled into view – turn-of-the-century townspeople! Fresh from their appearance in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, they took a stroll back along the street and clearly relished the chance to meet and greet with guests… and the Emporium statues.

Turn-of-the-century townspeople stroll Main Street, including the Mayor

At the end of Main Street, standing to one side from the press cameras and presenters still on the cobbles, the rarely-seen mayor took the chance to chat with guests after the opening ceremony. The entire park opening ceremony and much of the events to follow were all surprisingly traditional and almost entirely in tune with the park and its lands. This anniversary is clearly about the classic magic of Disneyland, rather than giant birthday cakes and ill-fitting Jester hats.

Finally, how to top-off one of the most exciting and bustling early-morning walks down Main Street for years? Can you say… marching band?! Originally a daily feature at the park upon its 1992 opening – much like the original Disneyland – they were lost amongst the financial choas that ensued. The most recent memorable performance of a Disney marching band in the park was perhaps as far back as the 5th Anniversary. But, for one day only, Disneyland Park once again had its very own marching band.

The video below shows a glimpse at their walk around Central Plaza, but their star performance – with an even larger group of muscians – was without doubt during the special pre-parade at 14:45, to be featured shortly.

Video features:
1. Park Entrance
2. Main Street Station Band
3. Mayor of Main Street & Press
4. Marching Band

An exceptional welcome to what would become an exceptional day. Love or loath the press invasion, their power to kick the park into full motion is always appreciated!

Disneyland Park ready to begin its biggest party ever

Thursday, 5th April 2007

(Video) Final rehearsals for new entertainment

Video features:

1. Disney Characters’ Express rehearsals

2. Spit ‘n’ Polish for Main Street and First Press Filming

3. Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade final rehearsal clips

Thursday, 9th November 2006

Disney’s Bonfire Spectacular 2006

Actually, it’s more of a full-on fizzle, crackle and BANG! The giant production over Lake Disney uses the largest amount of fireworks for any show all year at Disneyland Resort Paris, combined with fountains and the bonfire itself to create an epic 19-minute experience.

Before the show, the crowds are kept buzzing with British music favourites from past and present, showcasing bands from Queen to Keane – a pleasant break from the usual Disney Village DJ. With such a massive show area, the final announcement before the unique show states only that the spectacle will begin “shortly”, before lights around the lakeside (including PanoraMagique) are gradually turned off. Luckily so far featuring none of the 2 hour delays of 2005, the 2006 season of this overlooked event appears incredibly successful.

And, in typical British fashion, not a single person in the audience can resist saying “right, that’s it, we can go home now” after the first, single, lone firework explodes.

The show is performed over Lake Disney and is totally free to watch, the best views being from anywhere between Newport Bay Club and Hotel New York, near Sequoia Lodge. 2006 performance dates are the 6th, 8th and 10th November, whilst next year the show will return on 5th, 7th and 9th November. If you can’t make it to see the final show of 2006 on Friday, don’t worry – we’ve got an exclusive video of Disney’s Bonfire Spectacular 2006:

Disney's Bonfire Spectacular 2006
Video by DLRP Magic!

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