It’s certainly a merchandiser’s dream come true — free reign of the most popular Pixar characters and plenty of toy tie-ins for Toy Story Playland (even there’s still debate as to whether the land itself will have a single retail location).
Whilst the 15th Anniversary and Mickey’s Magical Party souvenirs largely featured the same design splashed over everything, the New Generation Festival already has a much more varied and modern selection of items. From simple logo T-shirts:
To fun character mugs and bowls:
It’s the huge expanded range of Toy Story items which take pride of place this year, however — especially with Toy Story 3 arriving in July. We’ve got cute plush toys of Bullseye, Rex and other Pixar characters:
Alongside the expected action figures and plastic toys:
Of course, you can pick up an RC remote control car after a ride on RC Racer, or a real (and much more conveniently-sized) Slinky toy after a ride on Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin.
Bored of the usual Sorcerer Mickey hats? Try out a funny triangular Buzz Lightyear hat for size:
Or any one of the endless spin-off toys and souvenirs:
And, to tie in perfectly with the parachute-themed ad campaign, there are these special Disneyland Paris-branded “Parachute Sky Diver” figures of Buzz and Woody:
Several other new merchandise lines have been added recently, including this range of “attractions” souvenirs featuring images and logos of Indy, Space, Tower and Pirates against a red graphic backdrop of other attraction logos such as Phantom Manor, Stitch Live and Studio Tram Tour:
The “I Heart Mickey” range of merchandise has also been expanded, with fancy new cups:
And some new mugs which state more elaborately, “I Am Madly In Love With MK.”:
Indeed, you’re never short of ideas for your next coffee mug at Disneyland Paris:
But be careful — too much caffeine (and shopping) can send you Plane Crazy…
Another year, another set of sky blue banners? Spot on. For the fourth year running, we’re welcomed onto the resort hub — and again and again through Fantasia Gardens and Front Lot — by banners featuring the year’s theme logo and the word “Welcome” in a variety of languages:
The almost identical in design Mickey’s Magical Party banners have been switched out for these new canvas banners on every lamppost in sight, alternating between the French and English logos.
Are these just unoriginal, or is blue just a nice, neutral colour that works for both parks?
Either way, there’s one plus for this year’s batch of near-identical banners — they’re slightly less identical. In Front Lot, there are several designs featuring just the New Generation characters, such as Mike Wazowski, Buzz Lightyear and that ten-year-old alien who won’t ever take a break, Stitch.
Different designs or not, it’s quite an overwhelming invasion…
What is this festival called again?!
Back at Front Lot, we’re seeing the Walt Disney Studios Store entrance being “toyed” with again, as the first temporary marquee in over a year has appeared to tempt more people inside the boutique. It’s the first New Generation Festival store decoration so far, coming just days after the old Magical Party marquee disappeared from The Emporium.
Though the Little Green Men and Stitch are flat 2D designs, Slinky Dog is partially in 3D, his springy body wrapping around the entrance. Inside, you can of course pick up your very own Slinky toy.
Inside the park, the Monsters Inc. Scream Scene near the entrance of Toon Studio has been closed for several weeks to allow preparations for its starring role in the year ahead. The ‘Scream Monitors’ signage has been taken away and returned for refurbishment, and the fun yellow floor markings have been completely repainted.
In fact, though the corner is being included in the “new” features for the year, it has been in place for so long (since 2006) that the “Child Detection Agency – Scream Scene” paint had completely worn away.
As we reported at the end of January, the ‘Monsters Inc. Scream Academy’ listed in brochures and press releases was originally meant to be a brand new show that was cancelled just days before auditions. We’ve since leant that the show, which would have featured a live host inviting guests to dance and scream with the Monsters, was actually set to happen not in this tight corner but on a separate travelling stage, similar to the High School Musical shows.
Though the ‘Monsters Inc. Scream Academy’ hasn’t been removed from advertising, we now have to assume that’s the new name for the photo location, the preview videos have been made incredibly vague and all mentions are very careful never to mention the word “new”…
At least with Sully (the only live Monsters character we’ve seen at Disneyland Paris since 2002), expected to be rejoined by Mike and — for the first time — Boo (dressed up in her Monster disguise) for the Disney Showtime Spectacular over at Disneyland Park, these extra characters could hop over in between to provide something “new” here after all.
This “Paiements sans Contact” initiative was first announced back in July and began right on schedule on 3rd October.
How does it work? Unfortunately, it won’t work at all for most of us yet. Although most of us have seen the waterslide advert for Barclaycard’s system, the technology now at Disneyland Paris is currently only open to users who have a (French) bank account with CIC or Crédit Mutuel (who just recently actually became a new official partner of the resort), and have already signed up to a trial of those banks’ early contactless payment schemes.
If you’re lucky enough to qualify for all of that, your new credit card contains a special chip that can be read without contact when lightly touched or flashed across one of the new devices, first caught on camera by Scrooge at Disney Magic Interactive in Walt Disney Studios Store:
This allows users to pay for their Disney shopping — or even better, food — in a second. No fumbling with Euro cent coins, no waiting behind someone as they try every combination of four digits possible. Contactless cards allow instant payments up to a certain, safe amount. Just imagine the effect that could have within a few years on those ugly counter service queues.
You’ll find the trial machines now at the following locations:
• Casey’s Corner (Disneyland Park)
• Café Hyperion (Disneyland Park)
• Chalet de la Marionette (Disneyland Park)
• Disney Blockbuster Café (Walt Disney Studios Park)
• Club House Grill (Golf Disneyland)
• Walt Disney Studios Store (Walt Disney Studios Park)
• Goofy’s Pro Shop (Golf Disneyland)
Not that such an innovation needs a carrot to quash any possible stick, but Disneyland Paris are also offering trial users of the scheme an incredibly generous 25% discount at boutiques and 20% discount at restaurants!
Front Lot is awash with beautiful red, white and purple flowers this Summer. Over there, on your left, the completely “opened up” Walt Disney Studios Store now sits proudly and prominently — no longer blocked by planters, nor hidden behind small windows.
There’s not even a hint of meddling with the red canopy (like its Princesses retheme last year), nor a single cheap clothes rail lingering outside the store. This may well be the only shop in the resort not to have exploded out into the street.
An improvement? Certainly. Though the visible wooden panels hiding the back of the pay desks by two of the new windows seems a little messy, the new store now positively beckons you toward it.
Getting closer — well, will you look at that! New signage!
These two ornate metal pieces have just been added to each side of the main entrance, finally plussing an exterior which has so long been a sea of yellow with just the occasional “Walt Disney Studios Store” — a far cry from the signage-encrusted shops over on Main Street, for example. Now, guests can tell from afar that it sells souvenirs, toys, gifts and fashion.
The text is actually a little reminiscent of the signs over on the Franklin Department Store façade on Hollywood Boulevard, and note how the curve at the top nicely wraps around the existing lights. Excellent work!
The new background and its surrounding shelves have been draped with royal red curtains and filled with even more Disney Princess merchandise.
Compared to the blandness across the rest of the store, it actually looks rather appealing when you’re there. Unless there’s some huge unknown market for Princess merchandise at the Studios we’ve missed though, it is strange positioning. Displays dedicated to say, the Disney Villains, could be more appropriate.
Stepping to the right, into the section of the store nearest Disney Studio 1, things suddenly get a whole let better. There are some brand new display units here, and a lot of quality merchandise.
Tasteful homewares, with lots of space to move between the shelves, and over behind the shot below, a great display of retro Minnie Mouse-themed polka dot accessories. It’s a great improvement on what the space was like before.
It also gives the feeling that a retro, Mickey and co, 1930s, Disney shorts theme would have been better for the store. Rooms themed to Walt Disney’s earliest creations (Bambi for the baby accessories, for example), rather than sparingly decorated with pictures of the man himself.
Talking of pictures — the second photo desk, over on the other side of the store, was open for use for the first time, perhaps… ever. Visitors now have a little less of a queue to pick up their souvenir photos from Toon Studio characters and so on.
Princesses aside, it’s looking ok, right? Wrong. Head into the final, separate room, nearest the park exit gates, to be met with…
Briefly dedicated nicely to plush toys, this room has become — no, not a poor version of your local charity shop — but a place for baby accessories, and all that stuff which doesn’t really interest a Disney fan. Good job too — with those bare white walls and the cheap display units, Oxfam suddenly looks like Selfridges…
A project with yet still more to come, or the final reel?
It’s the kind of thing that makes the blood of long-time Disney fans boil. When any classic, nostalgic Walt Disney-spirited corner of a park is given over to new merchandise, franchises and especially… Princesses. And now, they’ve just been handed their prime example on a plate.
Now, in August 2009, not only has the merchandise changed — the decorations have, too:
The largest picture of Walt Disney, hands-on with a movie camera, has been unceremoniously covered over by a modern Disney Princess mural, to help along sales of the associated merchandise which has now filled the entire middle of this newly “opened-up” boutique. Walt Disney, we presume, just wasn’t making the tills ring loud enough.
Of course, it’s not the first time the Princesses have found an unlikely home in what should be a studio administration building. Just last year, the red carpet canopy outside was redecorated with 2D designs of royal curtains and a small placard of the damsels themselves…
The shop has suffered a bit of an identity crisis right since the opening of the park — the original plan of having two large, Emporium-style stores at the entrance to the Studios, selling almost exactly the same items, seemingly wasn’t thought through. Next to the very well-themed Legends of Hollywood inside Disney Studio 1, this rather bland store was always going to see guests simply walking past.
But consider Main Street… There’s a reason why we love browsing and shopping there: variety. If this store were on that street, it would comprise at least three different units — Boardwalk Candy Palace, Disney Clothiers and Harrington’s, for example. Giving this building the same — just three clear sections with three different names outside — would generate more footfall and more sales than yet another Princess display, wouldn’t it?
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