Friday, 8th December 2006

Troubles of the wind

First reports appeared on, who wrote:

“Early Friday December 8, 2006, winds up to 120 km/h were measured and resulted in closures of the Main Street, U.S.A. , it’s a small world promenade (the wide walkway in front of it’s a small world) and all open air attractions, such as Dumbo, Orbitron, Alice’s Curious Labyrinth. Guests were guided around the closed areas respectively through the arcades on the sides of the Main Street.”

However, with a 183-foot tower under construction and hundreds of temporary construction walls, Walt Disney Studios Park was undoubtedly the first concern as the storm whipped into Marne-la-Vallée. Despite each wall section being held in place with breeze blocks and sand bags, construction walls for the Tower of Terror near Studio Tram Tour were first reported to have been blown from their fixings.

At our partner site the MagicForum, member Poppy The Monkey now gives a full run-through of damage to Walt Disney Studios Park from today’s events:

– Nearly all the movie posters on the lighting rigs have gone.
– The starry light effect on Studio 1 has blown away.
– Most of the hanging decorations at the entrance to the WDS have blown down.
– Cars poster is loose on Studio 1.
– Most of the TOT construction fences were blown down along with some in Animation Courtyard.
– The tarps on the TOT were blown loose too.

Poppy The Monkey also gives more details on the safety precedures put in place for guests, reporting “Guests were kept in all attractions for 1 hour from 1pm, and not allowed to leave. Resulting in 2 showings of Animagique and Cinemagique for the same audience or all you could ride RNRC.” Any guests outside of the Studios’ many soundstages were quickly ushered inside Disney Studio 1 and told to remain inside, with multiple performances from CinéFolies and the Edelweiss band entertaining the hostages of the storm. Finally, Poppy The Monkey confirms “Guests were evacuated from the park at 2pm through the backstage areas taking them directly to the Disneyland Park via the cast members entrances.”

At Disneyland Park, the berms and landscaping played their part in protecting the park, though guests were still kept inside as much as possible. MagicForum member thebatman_1 reports Liberty Arcade and Discovery Arcade became the main shelters for windswept visitors, whilst characters huddled outside City Hall amongst the sea of blown-over trash cans.

Whilst the move to close an entire park seems monumental, the presence of heavy construction walls throughout the entire park could have led to far more serious problems in such strong winds. As it was, the damages that were incurred appear to be mostly minor, with many likely due to be fixed within just a couple of weeks.

At this moment, the winds have reportedly subsided and so fears of a repeat of December 1999’s freak storm can be put aside. On 27th December 1999, an intense gale ripped through the resort, causing damage to the roof of Sequoia Lodge and destroying the glass statue of Mickey Mouse created for the Christmas and Millennium celebrations. Worst hit was Davy Crockett Ranch, with one particular incident injuring six guests when a tree fell on their log cabin.

Member EDM at Disney Central Plaza forum reports a special event at the Studios booked by Air France still went ahead this evening, and, should the troubles of the wind not have a 2 day ticket, the parks will open again as normal tomorrow morning.

Friday, 1st December 2006

Crush hangs loose at Toon Studio

Kyoto on Disney Magic Interactive forum brings us the latest photos of Toon Studio, showing off more progress with curbs and paths throughout the new area, plus more new paint for Art of Disney Animation.

The concrete curbs around the paths at the entrance to the new area of Toon Studio curve and wrap around the three key attractions in this area, giving us clues as to where more landscaping and trees are due to arrive. Scaffolding has receded further on the unique rockwork of Studio 5, revealing a clearer look at its detail, with the small tunnel for the attraction’s exit path now becoming more obvious.

Art of Disney Animation has also progressed further into the next phase of its recolouring, with pale blue paint spreading across much of the wall facing Cars Race Rally and a small strip of deeper paint, matching the final coat on the Disney Bros. Plaza side, also visible.

At Cars Race Rally, the most noticable progress is still with the desert landscaping being added to the ride’s exit slope and ride area, with more wire mesh and framework added to the teetering centrepiece canyon rock, which has also now been surrounded by scaffolding and tarp on one side.

Finally dude, the news we’ve been waiting for! Kyoto managed to catch on camera the first tests for the large billboard/mural covering that will eventually fill the entire front portion of what is widely dubbed the “dark ride showbuilding”, above and around the bright blue rockwork.

Since this is without doubt the first time the Disney Imagineers have themed a showbuilding in this way, they need to make sure they get it right, with the mural matching the colours and shape of the rockwork, piecing together correctly and passing the test of time in the Parisian climate.

A worker can be seen checking on the hanging banner from the roof of the lower showbuilding, giving a surprising sense of scale to what usually looks like a relatively average-sized project (at least compared to the Tower of Terror nearby). The final mural is likely still some way from its due date, especially given that the rockwork has yet to be finished and the bare concrete prepared. But until then dude, this is a totally awesome first preview!

All photos by Kyoto – you can see more by clicking here!

Monday, 27th November 2006

Refurbishment Roundup

Beginning, like most guests, as the entrance to Disneyland Park, let’s take a moment to marvel as the fully completed refurbishment of Disneyland Hotel. With its original, warm, pink colour returned, the hotel is glowing with magic once again. The next job for the crew will be to replace the scores of blown bulbs across the rooftops, but aside from that, the envy of every other Disney Resort has never looked more stunning.

Deep inside the park at Fantasyland, those fences just won’t budge from the Wishing Well. Work has been going on here for at least two months, and, as you can see, there hasn’t been much of a rush to get it finished. Also in Fantasyland, Le Pays des Contes de Fées and Casey Jr. are closed during the low season, with walls in place whilst the usual Winter refurbishment goes on.

Over in Frontierland, it seems they’re having trouble ridding the park of the Pumpkinmen, with a gathering of green fences still to be found around the site of the Pumpkin Paint Tower. With a quick change of parks, the refurbishment of Front Lot’s buildings continues, with Studio Photo revealing its newly refreshed colours and Studio Services getting the white basecoat treatment. Once repainted, the refurbishment project should finally be complete, unless they plan on starting on Disney Studio 1…

And finally… the atmosphere in Disney Village feels a bit deflated recently. Can you find a reason why? Those balloons were less than a month old – it should only be a few more days now before the (rather sleek) new red ribbon decorations on the second entrance drop off aswell.

For more of the latest photos, check Photos Magiques »

Thursday, 23rd November 2006

Topping-out the Tower of Terror!

The event took place earlier today, with the dome lifted from the backstage area behind Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic to the top of the tower and fastened in place to several vertical metal fixings which have been visible for several months. The dome is actually only the first of three to be used in the design of the Pueblo Deco Hollywood Tower Hotel (the design used by California and Paris). The second is located on the front-left of the large showbuilding whilst a third sits atop the Art Deco tower at the front of the construction (which is currently still a black metal framework).

Further progress elsewhere on the Tower has also been made in recent days. Surprisingly, scaffolding has now been fully removed from the right-hand balcony section at the top of the tower. Whilst this section is now sporting pale yellow paintwork and a darker trim on the faux pueblo tiling, it still requires much more work before completion. The base of the section, which juts out from the tower’s tallest point, is clearly unfinished, and the entire section is still in need of weathering and ageing to give it a colour and effect similar to the darker, more sinister finished design.

The advancement of primer and early paintwork across the entire left side of the building has continued, with a large portion now under the wrapping of white sheets, suggesting more intense work is now starting on the detail and finish of the walls.

With the dome in place, colour arriving and details still being added, the Parisian tower is beginning to resemble the finished design quite spectacularly.

All photos above from via TheOneWhoKnew at Disney Central Plaza forum.

UPDATE 26/11/2006 23:14GMT:

The domes didn’t stop there! Over the following 24 hours, the final two domes were lifted and fixed into position on the future Tower of Terror, completing the trio.

Remarkably, the small art deco tower at the front of the building which supports the third dome has yet to become any more than a simple metal framework!

Also since the last update, some news which I’ll quote from WDS Fans:

La Terrasse: That’s a Wrap?

The concept of a small number of false Hollywood facades in the space between Disney Bros. Plaza and Studio Tram Tour has been rumoured for some time, but now new plans are also calling for the demolition of La Terrasse, to make way for a true Hollywood entrance for the Tower of Terror.

La Terrasse is the partially covered seating area in front of the Tower of Terror construction site and is located right at the heart of the park, open from Day 1 as an outdoor dining area and a teaser of things to come. If green-lit, these new plans, confirmed by Kinou on the WDS Fans magicforum, would transform this area with a small series of “movie set” Hollywood façades similar to those seen in Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disney’s California Adventure park.

Latest photos from thebatman_1 on MagicForum.

Wednesday, 22nd November 2006

New Resort Map adds more to the parks

With a dazzling, blue, starry background and all the elegance of the new 15th Anniversary brochure (which will be previewed in full very soon!), the new resort map is a stunning improvement on an already-popular design. Not least when you look at the two Disney Parks.

Whilst earlier versions saw the parks feature a jumble of their most iconic attractions, the updated map has added far more detail to this area, presenting the parks almost to their true layout and adding several new attractions to the mix. At Disneyland Park, you can now see Pirates of the Caribbean, Adventureland Bazaar, Phantom Manor, Disneyland Railroad and the Geysers of Frontierland. The existing attractions – Le Château, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, “it’s a small world” and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril – have all been updated with new, more detailed designs.

However, the biggest changes can be seen over at Walt Disney Studios Park – not only in real life but also on the map. The layout of the park is now clearly defined, with the entrance, Earful Tower and first three Disney Studios now featured, whilst Moteurs… Action! has been shrunk to make way for the guitar of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith.

Even details such as the Place des Stars Stage and sign are now featured, and the Reign of Fire scene from Studio Tram Tour has been hastily affixed from the main park map… dare we say a placeholder for the Tower of Terror next year?

Of course, the one location which your eyes will have been immediately drawn to is… Toon Studio! Featured on an official map for the very first time, and looking very much like the most recent official concepts. Flying Carpets Over Agrabah now has more detail and a deep purple backdrop, but the big additions are Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally.

Crush’s Coaster features some details which appear different in the real design – for example, the map shows a grey building and purple rockwork, much like the concept art. Cars Race Rally is perhaps more accurate, featuring brightly coloured cars skidding around the canyon with the Cars showroom entrance (and it’s massive illuminated “Cars” sign) in the background.

The new magic doesn’t end there – even the Toon Town backdrop has been added! This version features the wall, hills and buildings of the latest concepts along with the smiling face of the sun, shining down from above the Toon Town hills!

And, as a final touch of mystery about the not-so-distant future of Toon Studio – the stars and moon of the Sorcerer’s Hat have now been painted gold.

Sunday, 19th November 2006

The desert before the Cars & Crush takes shelter

Dude! This Parisian climate is like totally cool, but totally not in a good way for my shell!

As Winter sets in, some welcome shelter has been given to the quickly progressing outside queue for Crush’s Coaster. Much like Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, opened at Disneyland Park earlier this year, Crush will be given an extended outdoor queue in addition to a smaller, highly themed indoor queue space. Unlike Laser Blast, however, this one will thankfully be almost fully covered.

Grandmath at Disney Central Plaza forum has just posted the latest construction photo, showing the new corrugated metal roof. Sure, it doesn’t look glamorous yet, but this is a Hollywood attraction – all the beauty will be on the outside… well, sort of. Preliminary concept sketches showed a queue themed to a dried-up Australian fishing pier (you can see an image of this at, but, as you can see the concept, the corrugated look is destined to still be there in the final design. Either this will be a way of explaining the attraction is only a filmset, or the fishing pier will be more industrial – the lights drawn on the roof appear similar to those at Armageddon: Special Effects.

The flooring of the queue has also progressed this week, with the outline of the path and some turquoise pieces now visible in the concrete foundations.

There has been a remarkable touch of progress at Cars Race Rally this week. Despite the ride system, vehicles and general attraction area still being a long way from ready, the first real signs of desert themeing have already arrived.

The brick wall reported being built back in October was later given an extra layer of wire mesh and themed to a sandy desert rockface in a similar way to the rocks at Crush’s Coaster. Now, before the ride itself or any real infrastructure (paths, etc.) arrives, the sandy canyon-side has been given a quick blast of warm ochre red paint.

Grandmath again presents the first photos, which show not only how this red colour scheme bounces well off the blue of Crush, but also a large new block of formed concrete next to the attraction. The purpose of this is currently unknown and it does not appear on any plans. Therefore, it is likely to also be a part of the themeing work, perhaps as the base foundation for the further, much higher, canyon hills to be placed on this spot.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that the recently installed arabian-style lampposts around the new Flying Carpets Over Agrabah oasis have been packaged up in a protective plastic coat, suggesting that the construction fences around this area won’t be receding anytime soon.

News originally posted by, all photos by Grandmath.

Saturday, 18th November 2006

Cut & paste terror continues

Well, I can’t be sure, but it’s probably a bit more complex than just finding the right pieces and sticking them onto the towering concrete mass. Either way, it’s fun to see an Imagineering creation literally come together like a jigsaw puzzle of architectural details.

The front of the Tower is now following the same pattern of construction as the rear, with new white moulds being added to create the details of The Hollywood Tower Hotel. Whilst the vertical white cladding was added a few weeks ago, a new, jagged white section has now appeared at the very top of the building, which will eventually be part of the faux tiled roof.

The left of the building has progressed the most in recent weeks, with some true art deco details of the final attraction already clearly visible, matching well with the existing details of the “Toilets of Terror”.

The magnolia back of the Tower is still shining brightly in the Winter sun, far from the weathered, beaten look of the final design. More jagged faux roof sections can be seen here, the lower section of which was recently given some odd dark brown colours that don’t seem to quite match up yet.

Finally, in an homage to the Imagineer’s cut and paste Parisian creation, here’s a full cut-and-pasted round up of the current state of construction compared to the finished Californian product…

Photos above by Joel’s Photo Hunt, photos in the “Cut & Paste Guide” by Kyoto, Wikipedia, DLRP Today, Joel and J. Thaddeus TOAD (for photo credited unknown).

Friday, 17th November 2006

Moteurs… Music!

Walt Disney World‘s new “Where Magic Lives” 2006/07 Official Album features a good number of new tracks, the most interesting of which for Disneyland Resort Paris fans being the “Lights! Motors! Action!” suite. The music was, of course, originally composed and created for the Parisian attraction, but with its duplication for the Floridian Disn ey-MGM Studios the music flew across the Atlantic too.

This isn’t just a small snippet of music like we’re used to in Paris, either – the track runs a whole 11 minutes 12 seconds and features the full soundtrack of the show’s key stunt sequences. The Ballet Chase, Blockade, Motorcycle Ballet, Pre-Show music and more – it’s all covered. The trademark “dun… dun dun dun!” is most certainly there, as are the high-pitched electric guitar pinches of the Burning Man sequence, the tension-filled bass beats of the Blockade and countless hints of Bond.

It says something about the effort Disneyland Resort Paris puts into its music releases that it took almost five years and a whole other Disney resort for this original, Disney-licensed music to become available. With a 15th Anniversary Album rumoured for 2007, this track would be a simple and easy way to finally bring new music and a breath of fresh air to the resort’s stagnant CD collection. Whether Paris will take this not-so-top secret envelope remains to be seen.

So until then, you could try Walt Disney World mail order:

Image source: Forums

You can see the new CD’s full tracklisting here.

Monday, 13th November 2006

Still an Art of Disney?

First things first – when you see the “new” Art of Disney Animation for the first time, it’s truly bizarre. Infact, I can’t think of a single other instance when a landmark Disney building has had its colour scheme so drastically altered, it’s like painting the castle… well, blue. Disneyland California’s rusty Space Mountain springs to mind, but luckily it’s not that bad.

Stepping onto Disney Bros. Plaza with the new Studio 5 in the distance, you immediately begin to realise the thinking behind all of this. The major problem of Walt Disney Studios, and the key thing this “placemaking” work is actually trying to address, is that guests just can’t differentiate between the lands. Backlot stands out due to its industrial grey image, and Front Lot is separated, literally, by Disney Studio 1. The rest of the park (as much as we love it), though, merges into a giant mass of yellow buildings, large entrance signs and lots of asphalt.

So, in addition to new trees creating a dividing entrance, a drastic new colour scheme for Toon Studio seems obvious, and the first results are quite pleasing, especially against the nice ochre Autumn trees…

The old yellow animation mural perhaps looks out of place against its new blue surroundings, but the pinky-red bricks surrounding the entrance doors have been a surprising success, adding more of a “Toon” theme to the building and matching the existing signs around the area. Since these photos were taken last week, all the bricks have been painted this colour – you can see a photo here.

Unfortunately, if you were in the park last week and looked a little closer at Art of Disney Animation, it looked like anything but an artform. Did the old Ink & Paint department go crazy here? Not only was the front section of the building (which already strangely featured a more pale blue than the rear) sporting as thin a coat of paint as possible, but in various blackspots you could also see random patches and stripes of thicker paint.

These photos reveal a strange secret of the transformation of the building – unlike the buildings of Front Lot currently undergoing refurbishment, they aren’t repainting Art of Disney with a white basecoat before applying the blue. It’s all just going right on top of the yellow, hence the pretty awful state of the building for over two weeks during the busy Halloween period.

Last week, the wall near the toilets at the rear of the building featured a few strange spots of lighter paint (and still apparently does), whilst the low sun of the Autumn months doesn’t give a pleasant reflection off the walls of this circa-2002 Disney product.

So you’re longing for the old yellow colour scheme again now? Well, if you waited around a few hours last week your wish would have been granted, for one last time! As night fell, the bright lights on the building showed just how thin the paintwork at the front really was – the entire façade returned to its old yellow glow! Truly a quite remarkable effect.

The nearer you got, the more the new blue colours flooded through. Despite being caused by the bad paintwork above, this effect was actually rather impressive in reality. Colour-changing buildings – the next step in Imagineering? It’d be perfect for Toon Studio, but, with more paint progress made on this project since, it was probably only temporary.

Luckily, the past few days have been kind to the building, which now (judging by photos at least) appears to feature a thicker and more vibrant coat of blue paint around its frontage as well as queue canopy columns repainted to a more pleasing deep blue. But, whilst there’s hope, the paint isn’t perfect – those patches at the rear remain, and the yellow mural still appears out of place.

You can see photos of the old Art of Disney Animation colours here. It’s true that once you’ve got used to the new colours, they grow on you rather quickly. Whilst the yellows contrasted nicely with the blue Sorcerer’s Hat and fit perfectly into the Imagineer’s “warm colours for a cold environment” motto, the blue has its own charms.

Can it still be considered a “work of art”? Whatever you think, one thing definitely seems certain – this is still very much a “work in progress”.

Thursday, 9th November 2006

One week at Toon Studio (Part 2)

Sunday, 5th November 2006

A well-timed end to Disneyland Park’s Halloween season, the fog lasted all day on Sunday and gave some interesting views of Toon Studio, especially with Tower of Terror fading into the distance. In the first photo you can see two openings in the rockwork – one for the coaster and one for the attraction’s exit.

Monday, 6th November 2006

After a slow week during French holidays, Monday saw the fog lift and the first few pieces of scaffolding on the Studio 5 façade disappear as construction picked up at full speed again. The new colour scheme of Art of Disney Animation certainly separates the area from the rest of the park, and with the slightly whimsical design of Studio 5 next to the Sorcerer Hat – finally a true Disney feel.

Tuesday, 7th November 2006

Yesterday’s action was only a prelude to today, it seems. All the scaffolding on the front of Studio 5 was gone at park opening, giving us a glimpse at the final “look” of the attraction and a better view at the detail of our new soundstage.

Notice the shadow under the rim and plaque of Studio 5 above? It adds some good depth and distinction to the building’s features, and it’s actually just an Imagineering trick. The first one of the project so far? Hopefully the first of many.

On board the Carpets, the wise placement of Cars Race Rally stands out again now that the foundations and boarding canopy are complete. The attraction faces directly to Flying Carpets, whilst a tall canyon-themed berm around the back will shelter the entire area from the 2002 Animation Courtyard area.

And what of that 2002 Animation Courtyard area? The area that is supposed to currently be enjoying a full placemaking enhancement project? Nothing much to report, i’m afraid. Whilst a gap in the fences at Disney Studio 1 reveals the large amount of new trees are infact already planted, a look over and under the two sets of fences shows there’s still a lot of work to be done. During the week, the only changes here were a few plastic tubes being layed around the trees and moved around.

Whilst what appears to be a new maintenance ladder was lowered into place during the afternoon, the construction workers seemed to be enjoying their job – climbing up, over and around the rockwork, some of which (the finished section near the front) has now been covered in protective tarps.

And so there you have it – one week at Toon Studio, from all across the park and through sun, fog and darkness. There are still seven months to go until the official opening, but already the new studio is making its mark and a huge impact on the park. As every other guest stops to look at the concept art on the construction walls, we can only hope they’ll return to experience it for real… only 30 weeks to go!

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