Thursday, 12th July 2007

Lightning strikes, Tower bolts ahead

The Tower is big, easily the tallest building on this side of Marne-la-Vallée. It’s no wonder then that it was recently struck by lightning – not once, but twice – leaving two nasty purple scorch marks above the two elevator openings on its left side.

No, of course this is pure fiction, but the Tower certainly has “bolted” ahead recently, especially since our last update in May. Back then, we spotted the first cracks in the building’s Pueblo Deco façade. Guests at the park today can see broken brickwork, crumbling walls, scorch marks, balconies, terracotta roof tiles and more. It may be big, but right now it’s all about the smallest of details.

23rd June 2007

Let’s step back a couple of weeks to the last Photos Magiques update, before then getting right up-to-date with some July photos and seeing the kind of progress made in that two-week period inbetween.

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Steel frames were construction around each elevator opening a little similar to the ones used to construct the rockwork of Crush’s Coaster. Most of them covered with plaster and concrete, they’re now the fictional walls and floors of the hotel wing destroyed by the lightning strike. Each one has had the edges of a brickwork pattern etched into its design – a detail that will actually be hardly visible once the final coats of ageing dirt and scorches are added on top.

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Lower down, the roof of the showbuilding/boiler room/show scenes is showing what those brickwork patterns will soon look like. The bricks here, though, are real, with extra broken bricks and crumbling pieces added on top as if you’re looking at a pile of debris from the former wing above.

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Roof tiles have completely covered the front wing of the hotel, and the lobby roof below is slowly being covered. The real leap here is for the small art deco tower to one side of the lobby. Just a steel frame like the Hollywood Boulevard sets less than two months ago, it’s now a finished piece of the building, blended seamlessly in with yellow colour, window panes and dome. This certainly gives hope for the speed of Hollywood Boulevard’s façades.

The Finished Attraction

And interlude from the construction, and just incase the Twilight Zone has made your memory a little fuzzy, this is what we’ll be looking at in less than six months…

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Notice that the edges of the demolished wing around the elevator openings double-up as positions for the on-ride photo cameras, themed to split and torn drainpipes.

No word yet on when the famous lettering of “The Hollywood Tower Hotel” will arrive, but it probably won’t be at least until the themeing behind it on the front of the Tower is complete, and the current service lift and scaffolding removed.

8th July 2007

And now here we are two weeks later, the height of 2007’s wonderful Summer weather and with a Tower appearing ever closer to the finished article above in these photos by Disneytheque.com. The changes aren’t massive, but every time you look at the Tower, it always looks a tiny bit more like The Hollywood Tower Hotel we know.

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In two weeks, some of the last spots of bare concrete on the Tower were finally covered over, between the two sets of elevator doors on the left of the building. Like the rest of the flat concrete walls in this section of the building, false brickwork has been etched or painted into the design, to give the effect of peeled plasterwork on the Pueblo Deco architecture. The fact that it will be barely noticable once the heavy dark purple scorches are added shows a real commitment to detail.

Around the openings, the basic plaster and concrete of the building edges has been finished, now awaiting darker colours and blast marks.

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Below, the lobby roof has had its roof tiling completed and the small deco tower has an older yellow colour to its rounded centre. In the foreground of the photo above, you can spot the frame of the tunnel (Studio Tram Tour’s new entrance) to be featured at the end Hollywood Boulevard, showing its proximity to the Tower. The concrete construction at the bottom of the photo is likely the Fastpass area, themed to a luggage drop-off/bus stop. With the entire middle of the park now closed for construction, photos from this angle have become much harder.

The second photo shows a new art deco detail around the large dome at the front of the building, surrounding it with tall, stepped features in the unmistable modern deco style. Something that has been on the California tower all along but you might never have noticed.

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The Tower still has a few patches of bare concrete left, most noticably right atop the windows of the 13th floor and around the circular top of the maintenance staircase (lower left). The darker yellow colours strangely cut off just after the third window down, leaving a pale stretch that goes right across to the “overhang”.

The final photo is a new favourite spot – you might have thought with Toon Studio finished its time as a place for construction photos was over. Well, you’d be wrong. There’s something oddly nice about the view of the Tower through the telegraph poles and Leaning Tower of Tires at Cars Race Rally.

For once at Walt Disney Studios Park, you’re not in the world as you know it.

Photos by Photos Magiques and Disneytheque, you can see more at each source.

Monday, 2nd July 2007

Official 2008 15th Anniversary Brochure Preview

If you’re in the UK, the new brochure is available right now. If not, you’ve probably got a little bit longer to wait, so here’s you’re first look at the Autumn/Winter 2007/2008 15th Anniversary Brochure. Before we look inside, why not look back at the first anniversary brochure, so you can spot the change?

And what a change this is. Once again, a new brochure brings another brand new design both inside and out for the official brochure, which has now ditched the minimal, stylish cover used for the past 3 seasons in favour of a much lounder and more attention-grabbing design…

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Front Cover

The recognisable red carpet of classic characters from the advertising campaigns throughout the year has been reworked with a new Autumnal backdrop. There’s no mistake this is a Disneyland brochure — something that was maybe a bit harder to realise with the first 15th brochure and its golden “15” centrepiece.

The general page layout remains similar to the past two brochures – a fold-out first page, price guides within the book and two double-page spreads for each park. However, the actual design has been totally renewed throughout, and is generally more professional, simple and modern yet again, going back to the clean and clear 2006 versions rather than the flashier (and slightly messier, in retrospect) Spring/Summer 2007 edition. The message throughout is that time is running out, the celebration will only last until March 2008.

How better to make that message clear than with the White Rabbit?

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First Page, Closed

Fold the page out, and you’ll find the four birthday gifts they’re proudest of – Kids Under 7 Stay & Play Free, A New Parade, More Characters and — here’s the big one — Four New Attractions. How many of us could have ever imagined to see an advertisement like that in an official Disneyland Resort Paris brochure?

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First Page, Folded Out

This is also the very first introduction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. They’re making no attempt to hide the size and impact of the attraction, the dazzling key visual we revealed one month ago is clearly the biggest on the page. After all, this really is “it” now — the culmination of their huge investment programme, the biggest single new attraction since Space Mountain. They really can’t mess this one up. The logo used is the one we’re all familiar with, but Disneyland Resort Paris have altered it slightly from California with a darker yellow colour and some Photoshop bevel & emboss.

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Contents / Experiences

Into the brochure itself, the Contents page is now as simple and clear as can be. Only six sections are listed, on a red page bordered with gold — a theme then carried through all the introduction pages in the brochure. Opposite, a fantastic photo of the main anniversary characters around a giant “15” symbol. You might have already seen this on those “interactive” billboards in Paris, now also a great way to open the brochure.

The next double page (for the resort’s various “Experiences”) introduces the standard page design of the brochure, quite different to the first 15th Anniversary edition. Lots of “whitespace” and simple, small text bordered by colourful photos. They’re even branching into new territory here with a greater focus on adults and seniors in the photos and a large paragraph titled “Just for grown-ups”, something many fans have suggested for years. You’ll see more additions like this through the rest of the pages…

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Parks Introduction

The parks introduction page again uses the Castle and Earful Tower together, that most favourite of mistakes for fans, but certainly looks much more inviting than the previous edition.

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Disneyland Park

Disneyland Park already unveiled all of its 15th Anniversary events back in April, but they’ve stuck with the illustrations and visuals to advertise them, placing Dreams of Imagination and Dreams of Fantasy on a red carpet. Even Disney Characters’ Express has made its way into a prominent place on the page, listed alongside Candleabration to hint that — since this brochure is valid from now until March — both of these features will indeed continue right through Halloween and Christmas. The second double-page is more standard, still with Buzz Lightyear in the spotlight and all the usual classic attractions.

Walt Disney Studios Park is the real star of this brochure, finally coming across as the kind of qualified second gate that will make guests decide to stay an extra night. Apparently, there’s some new attractions opening at the park, too…

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Walt Disney Studios Park (1)

One page, four new attractions. Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally are still featuring using their same old key visuals and Stitch Encounter (or rather ‘Stitch Interactive Attraction’ for now) is hidden away in there, but the star of this production is undoubtedly The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. A full page is dedicated to its fantastic key visual and reworked logo.

Remember when no-one thought Disneyland Resort Paris would use ‘The Twilight Zone’ aspect of its storyline at all? Well, now that the first piece of advertising is shouting out at us, it looks like they couldn’t be more proud of it. As with Crush and Cars, however, that recognisable brand comes at a price — they’re now required to print “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is inspired by The Twilight Zone, a registered trademark of CBS, Inc.” (CBS being the US television network which originally aired the series) on every page featuring the attraction.

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Walt Disney Studios Park (2)

Another thing they couldn’t be more proud of is the actual theme of Tower of Terror. Whilst Space Mountain: Mission 2 was marketed for its thrill alone, they’re already hyping the unique atmosphere and theming of The Hollywood Tower Hotel. The second key visual included is therefore… a bellhop. This brand new image, never before used for the Florida or California Towers, looks set to become very familiar over the next six months. Despite this renewed interest in good theming versus basic thrills, however, there’s no mention anywhere of either Toon Studio or the Hollywood Boulevard projects, which is a shame considering the effort (and money) put into them.

This second double page excitedly lists almost all the attractions at Walt Disney Studios Park — quite an impressive list these days — and also features a glimpse at the very first (and very understated) advertising for Stitch, an image from Hong Kong. What’s more interesting is the small sentence next to its listing in the attractions guide — “Stitch Interactive Attraction — the chance to interview Stitch live”, confirming that the story of the attraction will be a live interview with Stitch in outer space, and that the television studio theme is definitely staying.

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Seasons & Events

The Seasons & Events page doesn’t have much to reveal this year, as Halloween and Christmas take a backseat for the anniversary. Next to a nice new image of Stitch to advertise Halloween, we learn only that this October will bring “special shows and events” and “special make-up and hair ‘boo’-tiques”. Christmas is equally vague, but the prominent use of a photo featuring the Enchanted Fairytale “Chandeliers” raises the question if they can be used at the same time as Lumiere’s banners, and if indeed they will return this November…

St David’s Welsh Festival and St Patrick’s Day are also confirmed to return in 2008, following huge success earlier this year.

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Disney Village

‘Fun Beyond the Parks’ brings us four double-page spreads showcasing Disney Village, dining, recreation and the Paris region, the introduction page featuring a rather nice new photo of Disney Village itself. The next page, ‘Taste the magic’, features options such as character meals, Half Board, Christmas meals and the restaurant reservations hotline. The new Disney Princes & Princesses meals at Auberge du Cendrillon are given a strong push here.

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Spa, Sports & Relaxation

Following on that trend of more adult-orientated features, a new double-page now lists leisure and recreation across the resort with some modern and fresh photos — one in particular not what guests might expect from Disney. The new ‘Celestia Spa’ at Disneyland Hotel seems to be the focus here.

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Disney Hotels Introduction / Disney Hotels pages sample

The Disney Hotels pages are another big improvement over the previous edition of the official brochure, with a nicer introduction page and massively improved pages for each hotel. The design is now far more modern and fresh, with new photos, better information and more emphasis on the features only available at Disney Hotels, such as Extra Magic Hours. Continuing their new love of good theming, the first large bullet point on the “why stay at a Disney hotel?” page is now… “Disney theming”.

Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch gets its own double-page, before the pages shift suddenly into the slightly dull pages entitled “Other Accommodation” for the partner hotels.

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2008 Resort Map & Official Partners

The 2008 Resort Map will be a bit of a disappointment to perfectionists. Even though they’d finally managed a correct illustration of the esplanade and hub area for the 15 years development plan revealed in February, the map to be used for 2008 is the same as that for 2007, with Tower of Terror simply replacing Reign of Fire.

More interesting, though, are the “official partners” now featured in the corner of this page — the regulars are joined by Ford and Unilever, Nestlé has now completely gone and right in the middle… IBM. They’re still hanging on!

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Special Offers / Price Guide pages sample

The special offers page is also new and improved, the calendar of offers shown via a red carpet wrapping across the top of the page. The usual ‘Kids Free’ offer in the early months of each year is now known by the snappy title of ‘Kids Under 12 Stay, Play & Travel for Free’.

Price guide pages use better photos and are generally simplified yet again. New features include more emphasis on the special benefits at Disney Hotels and the various offers and options available with each booking — “Add Half Board Plus for £16”, for example, similar to the new booking system of the official website.

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Eurostar / Mickey’s Holiday Dinner Show

This being the UK brochure, there’s a lot of extra space devoted to travel and transport, in particular the direct Eurostar which moves to St Pancras International from 14th November and will then enjoy journey times of less than 3 hours from the heart of London to the gates of Disneyland. There’s also photos and details on the new entertainments and privileges introduced to make the direct Eurostar a little more “Disney”, such as a jazz band at London and better activity packs for kids.

Finally, amongst the three double pages of “magical options”, one change stands out — it appears that the Christmas dinner show at Disney’s Newport Bay Club, formerly titled The Magical World of Tinker Bell, will change its name this year to ‘Mickey’s Holiday Dinner Show’. The vague description mentions “music and dance” with “Disney friends”, hinting perhaps that the only change may be the name.

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Back Cover

And there we have it, the second and final Official 15th Anniversary Brochure!

The world outside the gates of Disneyland now knows that Tower of Terror is on its way to Paris in just six months, that ‘Stitch Interactive Attraction’ will bring the new attraction total at Walt Disney Studios to four, and that — quite simply — this is one year at Disneyland nobody should miss.

All images scanned by DLRP Today, brochure © Disney.

Tuesday, 26th June 2007

Incident at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

The thoughts and sympathies of ourselves along with all Disney fans and theme park visitors will be with the family and friends of the teenager today, along with the Cast Members attending the attraction during this unfortunate event.

The news has been reported this morning on several French television and news networks, with BBC News Online providing the following brief report:

Teenager dies at Disneyland Paris

French police are investigating the mysterious death of a 14-year-old girl who lost consciousness while riding on a roller coaster at Disneyland Paris.

The Spanish teenager’s friends noticed she was unconscious when the RockNRoller Coaster ride had stopped. Medical teams at the theme park tried to revive her but by the time an ambulance arrived, the girl had died.

A preliminary inspection of the roller coaster found no machinery malfunction, but the ride remains closed. Disneyland spokesman Pieter Boterman said the ride would not reopen until the cause of the girl’s death was determined.

The ride is at the Walt Disney Studios Park in Marne-la-Vallee, east of the French capital.

A postmortem is being held today to determine the exact cause of death. As reported, an inspection of the roller coaster yesterday found no faults or malfunctions. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster remains one of the most intense of all Disney’s attractions at its five themed resorts, pulling up to 5Gs of force through its 1037 metre layout and 3 inversions.

The attraction first opened at Disney-MGM Studios Florida (Walt Disney World) in July 1999 and this near-identical design at Walt Disney Studios Park (Paris) in March 2002, featuring a duplicated ride layout with an alternate theme applied on top. It is not known if any action will be taken at Walt Disney World today following this news. Followers of Disney park news worldwide may recall similar events at Walt Disney World itself, where rides have triggered medical problems in at least two guests – the most related, a 12 year old boy almost one year ago.

Whilst no ramifications could possibly outweigh the tragedy of this event itself, from an operational point of view it comes at an unfortunate time for the park and resort, in the middle of its 15th Anniversary Celebration and currently welcoming more guests than ever through the gates of Walt Disney Studios Park following the opening of its two new attractions. What could be considered the “sister” attraction of Rock ‘n’ Roller CoasterSpace Mountain: Mission 2 at Disneyland Park – is also currently closed for a brief period during the routine bi-annual replacement of its launch cables.

We’ll bring you more updates on this story as soon as any news breaks.

Saturday, 23rd June 2007

Crush’s Coaster – The Official Ride Video

This special official footage has been prepared by the resort for posting on their Disneyland15.com Official Anniversary Blog. An article featuring the video was originally posted last week, though disappeared soon after following technical problems with the video. The video has now “resurfaced” and gives a (you guessed it) turtally unique view of the very first thrill ride based on any Pixar movie, anywhere – Crush’s Coaster. This will also be the footage we’ll see for years to come, whenever the attraction is featured in motion…

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The footage is presented fairly “raw” – simply the resort’s new official footage of the new Walt Disney Studios Park attraction with some sound clips from the Toon Studio press kit over the top. The music is therefore rights-free, created for any press use on television, and not the music heard at the attraction itself – which is based on the film’s original score.

For anyone who hasn’t had the chance to take a dive on Crush’s Coaster yet, the video gives an excellent view of how the Walt Disney Imagineering-developed digital projection technology blends seamlessly with the coral reef and rocks surrounding the two identical projections – Nemo and Squirt appear completely believable, floating in the water-less undersea dark ride. The dazzling jellyfish are also shown, however the video footage available so far fails to feature either the Angler Fish or any of Bruce’s submarine attack.

As you will have noticed, the footage of the ‘EAC’ roller coaster segment is not taken directly from the ride itself, but created using one of the real ride vehicles against greenscreen – with some humorous faces from the actors on-board as they attempt to act out the ride. This version of the footage made available to the public doesn’t show the spinning effect, nor the true intensity of the ride, but allows us to see a very professional piece of promotional footage that will no-doubt be well-used long into the future with added voice-overs, etc in places such as the resort’s Disney Hotels information tv channel.

For fans, there’s no doubt it brings back fond memories of the 1995 Space Mountain footage, where the Disneyland Park roller coaster’s trains were shown flying through a virtual space, rather than the true ride.

Video footage © Disney.

Saturday, 23rd June 2007

Brickwall on the Boulevard, Gone Hollywood gone vertical

Brickwalls & Billboards on the Boulevard

The biggest news is again focused on the square, domed tower on the far left of the development. Last seen as large, bare steel frame, the framework soon took on even more verticle metal pieces, providing a strong and perfectly moulded skeleton to hold the themeing to be added on top.

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Bigger news for the project came mid-week, with the first appearance of something other than a metal frame for the series of façades – a wall! In reality, it’s not a “brickwall” at all, but simply a covering to package up the metal frame and allow the real themeing to be “stuck” on top.

Dingo 06 on DisneyMagicInteractive.com forum photographed the construction workers gradually moving up the left side of the tower and adding large, thin grey pieces to its side:

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Later, Joel photographed work as it reached the top of the tower, with this picture (below left) showing just how thin the wall actually is. With much of the designs of each building already showing in the metal frames, it’s clear now that the covering they receive on top will be purely themeing, and these won’t be buildings in the sense of Studio 5 or Tower of Terror with thick concrete walls. Their construction is therefore very similar to the lowest dome on Tower of Terror (seen top left), which was constructed as a steel frame with the same maze of verticle “ribs”, before quickly having its themeing stuck on top.

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As for the billboards – this popular feature seen particularly in the Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard streets of Disney-MGM Studios is now certain to arrive on our own street. Atop the third floor of the building directly in front of the Tower, the main frame for a traditional Hollywood billboard can already be seen, built into the movie set façade below.

Gone Hollywood gone vertical

More big news came from just across the future Boulevard little over a week ago, as a second section of the street finally went vertical. As mentioned in many previous articles, this has been rumoured to be a reproduction of the ‘Gone Hollywood’ store’s façade from Disney’s Calfifornia Adventure (DCA). Compare the framework to the finished article and there certainly is a resemblance…

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Notice that, should the chosen theme indeed be Gone Hollywood, our façade will be slightly smaller in length than that in California, with only one window on the Disney Bros Plaza side of its ‘Gone Hollywood’ sign and three on the other, compared with three either side at DCA.

With this frame in place, there remains much more still to come – expected to be the Hollywood ‘First National Bank’ and the ‘Broadway Building’ of the real-life Hollywood & Vine junction, along with the Hollywood hills backdrop itself, in front of the Studio Tram Tour station.

La Vieille Terrasse ?

Finally, the unexpected performance of the production from a real old-timer of the Walt Disney Studios – La Terrasse. Repainted completely in white just a few weeks ago, the concrete terrace has just last weekend been transformed with what appears to be a brand new coat of yellow dirt, grime and weathering on top, ageing it into the same timeframe as The Hollywood Tower Hotel behind.

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It already has the ‘HTH’ symbol since its 2002 construction (albeit not recoloured yet), so it seems La Terrasse will still, in some way, be connected to the Hollywood Tower as well as the Hollywood Boulevard developments which have grown up around the deserted hotel. Can we expect it to become some kind of outside seating and garden area of the former hotel – a true “La Terrasse” built for the hotel’s wealthy guests to enjoy sun-drenched cocktails across from the hotel?

Just imagine – on a summers day next year, brand new guests might be able to enjoy a drink on the same spot, with only distant screams from 13 floors above to darken the sunny spirits…

Photos by Photos Magiques, Dingo 06 on DisneyMagicInteractive.com forum and Joel.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

‘Stitch Interactive’? Your opinion counts…

We mentioned in the last update on Stitch Encounter that the original name of the Hong Kong import was beginning to be lost in the various press releases and previews given so far, reverting to a temporary “Stitch interactive attraction” tagline, with even the Walt Disney Television Studios name still conserved on the latest park maps.

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With the launch of this new online survey, though, ‘Stitch Encounter‘ appears to be out of the picture entirely, in favour of three brand new name ideas:

– Stitch Interactive
The entire basis of the attraction is the ability to interact in real-time with Stitch, so this name would certainly give first-timers an idea of the attraction’s aim.
– Stitch Live
On the other hand, with the TV-studio theme, this one could be a good way to put across the story of the live satellite link-up to outer space with one snappy four-letter word.
– Stitch
Short and simple – just the little blue alien’s name. This is what most of us will call it in conversation when it opens anyway, but is it too non-descript for an official title?

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The survey opens in a pop-up window, and first asks the visitor what country they’re from, whether they’ve visited Disneyland Resort Paris before and if they have any children, which age groups they fall into.

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Next, you’re introduced to the attraction concept:

“A totally new amazing and interactive attraction for the whole family will open at Disneyland Resort Paris. The Disney Character, Sttich, from the popular film Lilo & Stitch, will play, joke and will even have a conversation with you. This is a first-of-its-kind, real-time animated interaction.

“We have several ideas for the name of this attraction and we should like to have your opinion.”

Each of the three names appears on separate pages, and you’re asked to vote between 1 (do not like it at all) and 10 (like it very much) as to how much you’d like it to become the final name.

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Finally, you’re asked “And if you had to choose only one name for this new attraction, which do you prefer?”, with the options of the three names or, if you’re thoroughly not impressed with their choices – “none of them”.

The survey originally opened last week, before it was promptly closed a few days later with the message “This survey has already closed, thank you for your interest.” However, today the survey is once again open for votes, so if you missed it just before the weekend – you’ve still got time to have your say!

Click here to vote on the official UK website »

Click here to vote on the official French website »

(Click the blue box seen above in the sidebar, featuring Stitch)

This isn’t the first time Disneyland Resort Paris has asked for feedback on the naming of a new attraction. In March-2005, they infamously launched a survey which provided four brand new names for the project then already known as Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast. Those names were, in no particular order: Buzz Lightyear’s Cosmic Adventure, Buzz Lightyear’s Cosmic Blast, Buzz Lightyear’s Intergalactic Adventure, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Adventure.

Needless to say, the names were met with immediate disappointment from fans who much prefered the existing “Laser Blast” name. This survey luckily provided an extra comments box, allowing fans to register their thoughts with more depth and suggest once again the “Laser Blast” title. Although “Space Adventure” was apparently the chosen title, and used on the very first press release for the attraction, the name was suddenly changed just a few months later to… Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.

So, your opinion really can count with this new attraction! The chance to help name a new attraction doesn’t come very often, but what do you think to those names? Let us know in the comments below which you chose, and also – if you’ve got any bright ideas – what other names you could have come up with. You never know what they’ll choose…

Screencaps from © Disney website.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Animated Publicity

The set of photos released for the opening of Toon Studio is fairly small compared to the set featuring VIPs and celebrities against backdrops within the land, but the quality and amount of locations featured is far better than the frankly quite disappointing publicty photos of the 15th Anniversary launch.

Overall, the resort’s audio-visual teams have captured rather well the quirky style and impressive new attractions of the area… but what do you think?

Here is the full set of publicity photos, be sure to click on them to see the photos full-size!

General Toon Studio

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A new angle on the Sorcerer Mickey marquee captures the Peter Pan characters behind,
an incredibly colourful view of the Toon Town gate area with its twisted lamposts.

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‘Now in Producion’ sign next to Crush’s Coaster

Cars Quatre Roues Rallye

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Welcome to Radiator Springs sign, the famous Cars logo, framed by trees.

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The lovely blues and yellows (with a hint of red) of the Quatre Roues Rallye entrance,
the interior themeing, focusing on the amazing detail of Lizzie’s curios display.

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A sunny angle on Luigi’s Casa Della Tires (notice the fabric canopy was finally added,
just in time), and a low-down view of the canyon area.

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Views in the canyon. Notice the Sorcerer Mickey marquee included in the background,
along with – in the first photo – the Disney Cinema Parade passing by. This looks
like a favourite angle already to capture Cars from, with the iconic Studio 1 looming behind.

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One of the excellent on-ride captures from the special camera seen being installed
on the front of this vehicle here.

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Two brand new publicity shots only just added to the collection today.

Some official video footage of Cars has also been released, via the Disneyland15.com blog:

Crush’s Coaster

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The rusted and sea-sprayed entrance sign, a busy crowd shot showing the Crush area, but
not very many guests who look impressed.

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Two views of the turtle shells departing the big blue of Studio 5 – which one wins?

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The very first official photos from inside the attraction, we’ll probably see these used frequently,
as they show very well the colourful underwater sets and good lighting.

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An “in-production” shot of Crush undergoing final work from above the track, a final shot
positioning Crush against a big blue backdrop of Studio 5.

So, what do you think? A good selection of photographs and footage to advertise Toon Studio, or could they have done better? Whilst this set of official publicity shots has only just been released, we’ll likely be seeing them for years to come, especially as Walt Disney Studios Park continues to grow in visitors…

All photos © Disney.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Under the spell of darkness

Whilst the extended opening hours of the park to 7pm have given guests more time at the Studios, they still don’t go far enough to allow regular visitors to see the park at what almost everyone agrees is its very best – fully illuminated at night. From the flashing neons of CinéMagique‘s grand entrance to the flames of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster‘s entrance and the searchlights of Disney Studio 1, Walt Disney Studios is more than a match for anything at Disneyland Park once darkness falls.

And the new Toon Studio developments? They look just as good…

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Toon Studio entrance / Sorcerer Mickey statue

A hidden detail we’ve never spotted before suddenly comes to life on the wand of Mickey Mouse – the star-shaped tip glows and shimmerings in a blue fibre optic effect. The “marquee” itself is also very subtely and lovingly illuminated, with lights positioned inside the several circular bases shining upwards.

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Sorcerer Mickey marquee / Crush’s Coaster entrance

Notice the purple lighting effects in Animagique in the background, and the rainbow colours of the Flying Carpets Over Agrabah backdrop, appearing to glow from behind when illuminated. The marquee of Crush’s Coaster is illuminated similar to Sorcerer Mickey, with low lighting on the signage itself and a single spotlight on his character figure. Through the lush beach planting behind, notice the well-chosen hanging lamps and even spotlights positioned throughout the sandy planters, illuminating the greenery.

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Colours of the Toon Town gate / Toon Studio from Flying Carpets lookout

Over at the Toon Town gate, the lighting department of Toon Studio have done an equally fantastic job, illuminating all of the multi-coloured buildings and even several parts of the Toon Town hills. Notice that the “Toon Town” lettering is fully illuminated for a very professional effect, and entire forced perspective design of this “street” seems much more convincing. The icing on the Toons’ cake would have been a few lights inside the security booth…

From the newly-reopened viewing platform by Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, the land’s countless lighting touches can be seen glowing in the distance. There aren’t actually any blazing spotlights here at all – just subtle lighting such as the many customised neons of Cars Quatre Roues Rallye – it’s green tower and red glowing logo standing out in particular.

When or if the Studios ever welcomes enough visitors and extra attractions to warrant a late-night opening, the Imagineers have prepared Toon Studio – and the entire park – with more than enough beautiful sights to keep them there until the gates close.

» You can see an excellent video giving a walk around the nighttime illuminated Toon Studio over at our partner site magicblog, along with several extra photographs. Click here.

All photos by Photos Magiques.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Ratatouille characters preview

It’s a rare and special event in the world of Disney parks, when a brand new pair of characters joins the meet ‘n’ greet schedule for the release of a new Walt Disney animated feature. The last time we saw such an event was way back in late 2005 with the release of Disney’s own Chicken Little. All cogs in the great synergy and marketing machine of The Walt Disney Company, for sure, but nobody is going to turn down the chance to meet a new Disney star, especially a Pixar creation – even when they’re rats!

First, meet Rémy. He’s the star of Ratatouille, the budding chef who isn’t content with eating garbage like his sewer system family. He has dreams and aspirations… and, after being caught by a untalented kitchen hand Linguini, cooking up a soup which goes on to be served to a delighted food critic, he must share his knowledge to create the greatest chef in all of Paris – without anyone even knowing of his work.

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Rémy / Emile in their Pixar CG designs

The second character to be taken from CGI to reality is Emile, Rémy’s best friend and familiar from the film’s teaser trailers as the tubby brown rat who doesn’t particularly care what he eats, so long as it fills him up. No doubt when the film is released (initial US release due 29th June), we’ll find out even more about these two new furry faces.

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Rémy & Emile debut at the inauguration ceremony / Fun and games at the Toon Town gate

Since opening in 2002, all of the new Disney characters have immediately arrived in Walt Disney Studios Park, from Monsters Inc and Treasure Planet to Narnia and Chicken Little. Rémy and Emile were given their first step into the spotlight during the inauguration ceremony earlier during the press event, before arriving on-stage at the Toon Town gate later, and fighting between themselves for the waiting cameras.

The plaza around the Toon Town gate of course features two dedicated photo locations for character meets, but guests attending the press event who’d already visited the park would have been surprised to see two brand new backdrops installed just for this event. Mickey’s Toon Town House, on the right of the gate, was replaced by a Toon Studio production stage setting, whilst especially for the arrival of Rémy and Emile, The Incredibles’ rather plain logo backdrop was replaced with a stunning view over Pixar’s glowing CGI recreation of Paris.

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Emile poses in front of Pixar’s grand Paris backdrop / Up-close with Rémy, in perfect rat pose

The following day, however, guests would need to jump on the RER for 40 minutes to experience a view like this. Both backdrops had been reverted to their original designs, with no sight of Rémy or Emile making appearances, despite the heavy Ratatouille advertising introduced around the park. If you like the look of this rodent pair, however, don’t be too worried – the film isn’t due out in France for over a month, so it’s likely Rémy and Emile will be fully introduced at the next meet ‘n’ greet schedule shake-up in a couple of weeks.

The quick change of the photo location backdrops is also exciting to see for regular guests, showing that these two locations will now become frequently updated as each new Disney film hits cinemas. Perhaps, if Walt Disney Studios ever joins its neighbour in full seasonal events, we’ll see even more special backdrops created in the future.

Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille is due for release on 1st August 2007 in France, the Netherlands and Belgium, 2nd August 2007 in Austria and 3rd August 2007 in Spain. Then, later in the year, 3rd October 2007 in Germany, 5th October 2007 in the UK and 19th October 2007 in Italy. This creates quite a spread of dates across the key markets of Disneyland Resort Paris – one which is mirrored almost in reverse by Disney’s recent CG hit ‘Meet the Robinsons’.

Already released in March to the UK and most European markets, the film won’t reach the Netherlands until 10th October 2007 and France and Belgium until as late as 17th October 2007. Three characters from this film – Lewis, Wilbur and Bowler Hat Guy are due to begin appearances at Walt Disney Studios Park in the Autumn, following a preview during the press conference of 1st April 2007. Luckily, this will then tie into the DVD release in the earlier markets.

All photos by Photos Magiques; Ratatouille character visuals © Disney-Pixar.

Thursday, 21st June 2007

Toon Studio Press Event: Evening entertainment, ‘famous’ faces

Ok, ok, in France they’re probably well-known, but this happens with every single press event at Disneyland Resort Paris. A new show premieres, a new season begins, a new attraction opens… and we’re treated to a huge gallery of publicity photos featuring countless vague ‘celebrities’ from across l’hexagone. Whether we know who they are or not, though, the photos from the Toon Studio Press Event of 16th June are actually some of the better VIP shots of recent years, especially compared to the dark and unexciting red carpet photoshoot of the 15th Anniversary launch.

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‘Unknown’ VIP guests enter Toon Studio

With a great backdrop of the temporary entrance gate, the Sorcerer Mickey marquee, a newly repainted Animagique and many smiling Cast Members, the stars entered Toon Studio via the long red carpet, which first led across a closer podium before that underneath the gate, giving a good depth to the shots. And although ‘unknown’ outside of France, the guests all appear to be well into the Disney spirit.

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More ‘unknown’ VIP guests enter Toon Studio

There are many more photos than those featured here, but all in the same style with the same backdrops and locations. Several photos made available to the press feature some VIP guests you might actually recognise the names of…

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Zinedine Zidane at Crush / with wife at Cars Race Rally

Surely everyone in Europe knows Zinedine Zidane, the famous footballer, now retired?

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Stade Français Rugby Team / Ricky Martin

You might even remember singer Ricky Martin… Or be familiar with the Stade Français rugby team, seen here lined up outside Crush’s Coaster with a trophy shield (hopefully this won’t become a popular accessory for DLRP visitors). These photos in particular, as you might notice, aren’t from the Press Event night at all – they were taken over the three weeks leading up to the event itself, and now bundled together with all the others for the launch.

In the end, we all know who the real stars are. Walt Disney is always quoted as saying they’re the “greatest asset we have” and to just “get them out there!”, and that’s exactly what they did during the entire evening of events at Toon Studio. Afterall, seeing a footballer or talent show star at Disneyland won’t make guests want to visit as much as the chance to meet one of these real, timeless famous faces will…

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Mary Poppins / real-life Mike Wazowski

The entertainment department catered for all tastes on the evening, from the not-strictly-Toon Mary Poppins (with Bert and ok-this-one’s-a-toon Penguin waiter) to a full-size, walking, real-life Mike Wazowski! Not since the release of Monsters Inc. around the opening of the park in 2002 has Mike been seen wandering the studio lots, but he made a special return for this event. Notice also that his life-size figure usually found at the Monsters Inc Scream Scene location was removed in preparation.

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From movie director to chef – Mickey Mouse can do it all!

Catering for all tastes, did we say? Well, if you didn’t like the Director Mickey of the inauguration ceremony, you could wait around a little and see him re-appear later as Chef Mickey! Director Mickey is also a very rare sight at the Studios. Despite being seen on many publicity photos for the park around 2002, Mickey usually decides to wear his more casual and brightly coloured movie star gear for photoshoots. Chef Mickey, on the other hand, is a recent introduction to character meet ‘n’ greets at Café Mickey in Disney Village.

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Chef Minnie / Chef Chip n Dale

Each of the Fab 5 received special chefs outfits for their appearances at the character dining restaurant, and with the launch of Ratatouille tying into the Toon Studio event, this was their way of welcoming the gourmet rats to the character family.

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Buzz Lightyear / Jafar

Aladdin, Jasmine and Jafar provided atmosphere around the new Flying Carpets oasis area, which now has its colourful lanterns illuminated each day after months of darkness. Events themed to the attractions on offer were particularly well thought-out at this event. With such a mix of themes and styles in one small area, it must have produced one hell of a brainstorm ideas session for the planning teams…

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The Radiator Springs Band

For Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, guests could enjoy the music of an authentic American country rock band, performing a variety of road hits and songs from the film itself as ‘The Radiator Springs Band’ in front of Willy’s Butte and Flo’s V8 Café. Notice also the attention to detail around the stage, including several extra props relating to the film and Route 66.

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Australian characters / Clownfish carpet

Crush’s Coaster was equally well served with themed entertainment and ideas. The EPC (entertainment department) created a couple of brand new “Australian” characters for the event, an outback explorer complete with cork hat and a beach surfer dude, complete with sunglasses and flip-flops. What’s that they’re standing on? It’s a Clownfish Carpet of course, a unique Nemo-themed spin on the classic red carpet, leading into the attraction!

The themed ideas continued on to the food, whilst the VIPs were treated to a special meal inside Studio 1’s Liki Tiki area, Animagique became a covered seating and buffet area for a more fun and informal double food option. For Cars, an authentic Texas barbeque along Route 66. For Crush’s Coaster… you’ve guessed it, a seafood barbecue. Didn’t they hear fish are friends, not food?

Photos both by Photos Magiques and © Disney.

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