It’s no secret that the permanent Meet Mickey Mouse attraction at Fantasy Festival Stage won’t be ready for the 20th Anniversary launch this weekend. However, you needn’t be too disappointed if you miss the opening date in mid-May: Mickey’s temporary Frontierland location is looking like a pleasant attraction of its own. Rather than the 1920s picture house-style theme in Fantasyland’s British quarter, the temporary version has been based around a much more old-fashioned travelling show.
New signage, installed at the former Woody’s Roundup Village photolocation, is perfectly integrated with the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area. Below the Meet Mickey Mouse marquee, adorned with decorative lights, a banner reads: “Open house today — Your chance to meet the stars of Mickey’s famous traveling show”. Red-painted fences of the farm paddocks are dotted with posters imported from Florida, for imaginary acts such as “Dingofort the Mighty” and “Madame Minn”, which already appear in the refurbished Disney & Co boutique on Main Street.
Mickey Mouse himself made his first appearance at the location today, moving from his old meet ‘n’ greet spot at the Boarding House in Town Square, which will now be the sole preserve of Duffy the Disney Bear. The temporary location here is only expected to be in use for around 6-7 weeks so, for just a month and a half of meet ‘n’ greets, this well-executed overlay is a great surprise.
The sun rose on a new age in Fantasyland‘s British quarter this morning, with the new marquee for Meet Mickey Mouse now installed atop the former Fantasy Festival Stage. Clean lettering and bright, theatrical, electric lights evoke a slightly later time period for the land than seen before. Perhaps stepping from the Edwardian era towards the 1920s, when Mickey Mouse himself came into being, it takes this ornate pavilion into an electric age where theatres and music halls became picture houses.
This set-up will be continued inside where, as we revealed in a descriptive walk-through of the new attraction, the old theatre stage will now house a projection screen, allowing guests queueing along the aisles of the theatre to enjoy classic Mickey Mouse cartoons. This sort of “modern” innovation contrasts well with the Disneyland Railroad Station behind, which already blends two periods of British history: a Tudor-style cottage with exposed beams and the Victorian station building, platforms and clock tower of the railway. Looking at the way buildings in Great Britain were so often chopped and changed for the latest trends through the ages, the eclectic mixture here seems wonderfully British.
What doesn’t seem wonderfully British? The words “Rencontre avec Mickey”, hastily stuck underneath the illuminated letters. For a start, we have to wonder if French visitors could really be so confused by “Meet Mickey Mouse” that they need a translation. But more importantly, this disrespects an unwritten rule of Disneyland Paris regarding the languages of attraction marquees.
Work has now started at the former Woody’s Roundup Village in the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area of the land, most recently used for the St David’s Day and St Patrick’s Day celebrations, to create an intermediate version of the attraction. Although, that “work” so far mainly consists of cordoning off the entrances to the old Critter Corral area with what @InsideDLParis rightly captions these photos as “red and white caution tape that should never be used in a Disney Park”. Beautiful!
Heavier construction work continues in Fantasyland, meanwhile, with latest visible progress from outside the theatre showing walls going up around each of the bay windows. These were previously spaces at the back of the theatre’s seating which could be opened up in warmer summer weather. Now, the window on the right will form the attraction’s entrance while that on the left will be used as the exit and part of the photo sales counter.
More rich red gloss paint has also been applied to the façade, which has lost its Fantasy Festival Stage signage. As for the inside, we can reveal that the layout will largely stay true to its theatre origins. Guests will queue back and forth roughly along the former rows of seating, with the centrepiece being the stage itself, where a projection screen will be installed.
Following the queue line up into the theatre’s real backstage area, they will enter a vestibule area before finally encountering Magician Mickey Mouse himself, in his backstage dressing room, littered with props similar to those seen in his Florida meet ‘n’ greet. Exit will be via the left-hand side of the theatre, past the souvenir photo wall and sales area in the left bay. Numerous other details, accessories and “animated posters” will complete the attraction.
We can also confirm that “Magician” Mickey here really will employ some special magic tricks, allowing him to shorten the queue time by as much as two or three times, depending on attendance…
Disney doesn’t have a Welsh dragon in its repertoire of characters, but Mushu is only too happy to get his face on the cover of today’s special programme for St David’s Welsh Festival, a three-day event happening at Disneyland Paris this weekend. Though the festival officially runs from the 9th to 11th this year, providing the perfect weekend package for visitors from Wales, the main day of events within Disneyland Park itself is today. The programme itself is similar to previous years, though with Meet Mickey Mouse seeing the end of Fantasy Festival Stage‘s days as an actual theatre, the traditional Welsh folk choir has been displaced to the somewhat less fitting Chaparral Theatre in Frontierland.
In fact, the whole Cottonwood Creek Ranch area has been overrun by green, red and white; now the base for face painting, the Waun Ddyfal Choir and meet ‘n’ greets with Mickey and Minnie in their very exclusive Welsh folk costumes, above; a real rarity for character spotters that you’ll only see here.
At 4.30pm, before the main Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, the traditional Welsh Festival pre-parade saw Mickey and Minnie travel down Main Street, U.S.A. in the bright red fire truck, decked out with Welsh flags, daffodils and leeks. In Disney Village, the avenue is filled with wooden market stalls selling all manner of Welsh crafts and merchandise. Then, as the park closes its gates at 10pm, the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle comes alive with the special firework display to mark the occasion… albeit over a week late — St David’s Day itself always falls on 1st March.
The event is somewhat of an oddity in the annual calendar of the resort; one of only three national holidays recognised by the parks, including St Patrick’s Day and the Bastille Day fireworks, yet nowhere near as globally recognised as either as those. Falling conveniently in early March, however, it no doubt helps to fill a gap in the year, drawing in coach trips and extra custom from Wales, providing something fresh before the new Disney year in Paris traditionally begins each April.
Well yes, quite a lot obviously. Just shows you shouldn’t go wandering into the Adventure Isle caves just before park closing… it’s been four long months!
If you’ve been similarly deprived of Disneyland Resort Paris news, given up trying to translate what they’re saying on the French forums, sit back and enjoy a quick and concise round-up of all the big stories of recent months — here we go!
SLEEPING BEAUTY’S BLING
Was it coincidence that updates here ended just about the time that Sleeping Beauty Castle succumbed to its most horrific, misguided meddling-with to date?
The birthday cake, the jester’s hat, the Epcot wand, the MGM hat… you’ve met your match. There truly aren’t enough negative adjectives in the dictionary.
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MAGICAL PARTY LAUNCHES WITH MEGA-PARTY
‘You’re invited!’ …but not to this. Press and media types were schmoozed in spectacular fashion as new theme year Mickey’s Magical Party kicked off with fireworks, projections, lights and so many characters they couldn’t even all fit on the damn stage.
Did it generate headlines, articles, media coverage? No.
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ACTUAL PARTY GROWS ON FANS
Frustratingly-titled new Central Plaza show ‘It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends’ initially looked rather like a drab flop on an overbearing and unnecessary new stage, but it has grown on most fans. The score by Vasile Sirli is actually plain fantastic (especially considering the lacklustre music in the year’s other new shows) and it provides a fresh, colourful heart for the year.
Over in Discoveryland, the other show with an annoying name — ‘It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland’ — brought delights such as large, primary-coloured circles on the floor of a retro-futuristic land, and the expertly-chosen hits of Block Party Bash.
Despite the show being considered terrible on every level by most who’ve seen it, the performers put so much effort and energy into their routine they each almost deserve a window on Main Street.
Beyond the forced MMP hoopla over the other side of the esplanade, Walt Disney Studios Park gained a brand new attraction — its fifth addition since opening — in ‘Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!’. Jolly good fun it is too — wonderfully staged, very charming. The Paris version even has a “1 Up” on the two earlier versions with a big new pre-show studio.
Changing its name to ‘Restaurant des Stars’, the far too interestingly-named ‘Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant’ gained a new logo, some new colours and a new entrance canopy.
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DUDE LOOKS LIKE A FIRE!
In a quite bizarre coincidence, just days after fans launched an online April Fool suggesting Aerosmith would be succeeded by French rocker Johnny Hallyday as musical guests at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, a fire began in the roof of the showbuilding.
Luckily the damage was minor — though it did allow for these dramatic photos (below) as the inspection crews ripped off the cladding, checked and replaced it. The attraction reopened just the next day.
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SMEE GIVEN SURGERY
Captain Hook’s bumbling first mate was given a random makeover by the worldwide Disney Parks character team and, unlike most famous faces, he returned from the cosmetic surgery with a face more expressive than before. Remarkable.
Hopefully they’ll tackle some of the clearly worse-looking characters next, like the dead-eyed Woody, Jessie and Buzz…
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HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL PARTY!
Now back for a third year, the Studios’ High School Musical show this year gained musical numbers from the third film but stopped short of going for the full ‘HSM3’ show the other resorts put on. ‘I Want it all’ is the standout number, but one that certainly won’t win over any new fans.
The ‘Smoking Areas’ inside the parks had been extended little beyond their miniature park map icons, so it’s reassuring to see that each area now has its own themed sign, tied into the location. Give it a few years and the public might actually use them.
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STUDIO STORE OPENS UP
Behind construction walls last time we saw it, the Walt Disney Studios Store has now been completed, with three new doors and payment desks in front of new, large windows.
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Main Street has always had the best-kept exteriors of the entire park, always popping with a fresh bit of paint here or there. A new development in recent years are the nice tarpaulin coverings given images of the building hiding behind. Even for tiny spots like this one on the end of The Storybook Store, the hidden façade is still presented on top.
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PLAZA GARDENS GLEAMS
After a major refurbishment of the interior, including bringing the central fountain back to daily life, the whole Plaza Gardens Restaurant building was wrapped in themed tarps for an expensive top-to-bottom refurbishment and repaint. It didn’t stand out as being particularly bad before, there are other areas needing paint sooner, but it does look fantastic.
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STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES
Over the hub, it’s surprising to see that the refurbishment of Disney Studio 1 continues, the huge centrepiece building of the park still wrapped up in scaffolding. Must be a bigger job than originally thought, right?
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FLOORS OF ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY
Tripped up in Disneyland Park recently? No wonder, some of the concrete pathways are literally falling to pieces. Thankfully, the first resurfacing works seen for many years have been taking place, with areas of Adventure Isle and vast swathes of Discoveryland closed off and given new flooring, the effect — especially just in front of Space Mountain — very noticeably making the whole land look brand new.
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TENNIS, MICE, MAIN STREET
Some of the resort’s press and advertising efforts have been surprisingly inventive this year, like this — turning the top of Main Street into a full-size tennis court and inviting Gaël Monfils and Stanislas Wawrinka to play with Mickey Mouse.
Just a few days later, Serena Williams visited the park and was met in front of the Castle by Minnie Mouse, wearing a special tennis player costume.
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Effectively the biggest change of the past few months, the news in April and subsequent official changeover in May that has seen ‘Disneyland Resort Paris’ — the resort’s name since the 2002 opening of Walt Disney Studios Park — change back to just plain ‘Disneyland Paris’.
It certainly makes sense — the extra word was always unpopular, confusing to non-English speakers and now, with every park from Alton Towers to your local fairground claiming itself as a “Resort”, it simply doesn’t have any value. “Disneyland Resort Paris” is cumbersome and never spoken, “Disneyland Paris” is short and very strong. Whilst things like the official website have changed over, don’t expect this to be an overnight transition — the new (or rather, old) logo will reappear just as and when things need replacing.
Unfortunately, this decision — made by new CEO Philippe Gas himself — came in April, just weeks after the resort had launched a whole new brand campaign for the theme year. These traditionally start in April, and everything from Cast Member name tags to park tickets and guidemaps had already been printed up with the full “Disneyland Resort Paris” name. Smart name reversal, silly timing.
There’s also a whole myriad of logo variations now available (above). Which should be used, when? The standard logo is being presented as two-colour, with the “Paris” in a gold gradient that already looks rather dated.
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BURNING FIRES, FLOWING WATERS
Tasked with bringing back old and forgotten effects, a new “taskforce” within the resort’s maintenance department has been one of the most positive steps in recent months. We already appear to have seen some brilliant reawakened touches, such as the torches on Fort Comstock at the entrance to Frontierland (lit from nightfall)…
And the water channels leading to the drinking fountains beside La Cabane des Robinson.
Whilst a long way short of having the full irrigation system working again (water should be hoisted right up to the top of the tree by the water wheel, before being poured out and running through the channels back to ground level), it’s great to think someone took the time to figure this out.
Elsewhere, these moving fairground balloons inside Boardwalk Candy Palace have been back working again, for the first time in years.
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CAFE DE LA BROUSSE
Mostly sitting closed, Café de la Brousse has never the less just had a large-scale refurbishment completed, bringing colour back to the “bush café” buildings. Dole is presented heavily as the host, but still no one thinks of bringing the legendary Dole Whip to Paris!
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DISNEY VILLAGE NOW ‘COOL’
So. It took a Starbucks to make Disney Village “hip” again.
Yes, it meant losing the wonderful Buffalo Trading Co. and inviting a quite equally despised/appreciated corporation into a Disney-branded area, but the coffeehouse itself was built using genuinely eco-friendly ideas and looks really quite trendy inside, with a wonderfully modern exterior — industrial elements clashing beautifully with earthy materials.
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ROSES PAINTED RED, FINALLY!
The on-off refurbishment of Alice’s Curious Labyrinth — with little areas regaining sparkle each month or so — has continued, the Paris-exclusive attraction even seeing… new paint! The red edgings of the entire labyrinth have finally been repainted, a year after similar edgings on the Fantasyland-Discoveryland path received paint before them, and scenes like the Caterpillar suddenly “pop” like they should again:
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ROBINSONS RETURN TO LA CABANE
Also brought back to life this Summer is La Cabane des Robinson, previously the only other “blackspot” alongside the Labyrinth. For too long the treehouse has been bleak and worn. Props missing, effects broken, no colour. It was as if the Robinsons had long ago moved on from their treetop abode. Not any more — refreshed woodwork, new props and a complete clean-up really make it “pop”. Effects like the self-playing organ are still missing.
Even the water fountains were revisited and given an extra spruce-up:
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WOODCARVER’S WORKSHOP RE-OPENS
Not entirely the amazing news that might suggest, but nevertheless the long-abandoned Woodcarver’s Workshop over in Cottonwood Creek Ranch, next to what is now Woody’s Roundup, has finally been brought back into service — selling drinks and souvenir photos from the character meet ‘n’ greets inside.
A long way from the actual woodcarvers who used to create personalised souvenirs here, but good to see it alive and well in some form, eh?
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ENCHANTED FIREWORKS DAMPENED AGAIN
The Enchanted Fireworks have returned for their second year — dampened again in similar style to the later shows last year, when the nearby town of Chessy apparently banged on the wall and issued a loud “shhh”. Fans, and even apparently some regular guests, aren’t too impressed with the “new” show.
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ATTRACTION OPEN 12:00 – 12:05
The same limited opening schedule of attractions put in place last Summer has returned again this year, with visitors taking much more notice. Some say it’s fair enough that they have to close attractions early, since most people have headed to Main Street to watch Fantillusion, whilst others leave annoyed that the park’s advertised opening time of 10am to 11pm isn’t strictly true.
Most agree that the whole situation would be better if the limited openings schedule was at least published somewhere other than only at the attraction entrances themselves — on the tips board, in the Programme leaflet, for example.
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GOOGLE EARTH 3D: WORTH THE WAIT
The much-publicised and subsequently much-delayed official 3D recreation of Disneyland Paris in Google Earth finally launched in mid-May and proved to be well worth the wait, offering a truly spectacular metre-by-metre recreation of every inch of the parks and resort. Visit www.disneylandparis.com/googleearth3d and lose a few hours.
A few days later, Google Street View was also added for small stretches of each park:
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BROCHURE TESTS THE LIMITS
Have you seen the brochures and advertising for Walt Disney World? How grand and high-class it all looks. For Paris, however, the brochures in particular seem to be getting ever more garish and in-your-face with each publication. The latest, current brochure for Autumn/Winter 2009/10 features some truly frightening images of blurred children flying above the parks, with so much photoshopping and saturated colour you can barely see the resort they’re trying to advertise.
The actual, printed version also comes with a bizarre claim on the cover of “First ever interactive brochure”. Beyond the cut-out on the cover (Mickey is actually on the page behind), the only evidence of this is a French (+33) mobile number you can text to get a video trailer of the new theme year. Several weeks later, nothing received here.
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VAT REDUCTION? VAT CHANCE
The French government has officially lowered the VAT rate for cafés and restaurants from 19.6% to just 5.5% in order to keep the industry afloat, and, while you’ll certainly find many notifications of this within the resort, you’ll be much harder pressed to actually find reductions.
Whilst some things, especially the Half Board vouchers, have come down in price, most scenarios have just seen the prices stay the same and Disneyland Paris pocketing the difference in order to prop up the large drop in food and beverage sales this year — mostly on account of the prices being too high during a recession. Good thinking.
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ICE CREAM ARRIVES ON-SET
Walt Disney Studios Park must have been the only theme park in the world without a proper ice cream location until the latest change in its food & beverages offering. The Franklin Department Store façade (similar to the exterior of Gone Hollywood at DCA, international fans) gave up its wonderful 1950s-themed period window to become a new kiosk serving actual, real Ben & Jerry’s by the scoop.
The lost window was more interesting than the one remaining, featuring a mannequin woman sitting with a 1950s travel magazine, retro television and monster/sci-fi movie poster. The Tower of Terror across the way has such a minimal build-up in Paris that small period-setting details like this really mattered — the Imagineers would have put an ice cream kiosk in there from the start otherwise.
Couldn’t such a vital theme park component as ice cream have commanded its own building somewhere? Rather than expanding, the park almost seems to be imploding, with under-sized kiosks popping up all over where real, full-size boutiques and restaurants should be. More than anything, one single serving window for this in such a prominent position is madness.
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BLOCKBUSTERS IN THE BACKLOT
Over in Backlot, the big news has been the complete gutting of Backlot Express, the “props warehouse” counter service restaurant, in favour of the more brand-friendly idea of themed rooms dedicated to the Pirates of the Caribbean and High School Musical franchises. The changeover began with the arrival of a plain Ford Focus outside the restaurant, plastered with “HSM3” stickers…
The new logo has been completed on the outside…
And as for the inside? Well, real props from these two trilogies have yet to appear, with the High School Musical area causing much fan hair-tearing already with its “themeing” of bland posters, banners and mini basketballs (taken from merchandise). The “East High” theme does sit well within the building, but this isn’t anything someone with a good printer could set up themselves. Are there not even any costumes from the film lying around over in Burbank?
Beyond the “torn bedsheets” (as described by magicforum members) hanging from the ceiling, the ‘Pirates’ area has defied the odds and just presented the first real surprise of this project — the removal of the metal railings of the raised “garage” area to be replaced with pirate ship-styled wooden banisters and a full ship’s wheel.
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TELEVISION STUDIOS GOES ’50s
…Or is that wishful thinking? With a long-overdue repaint of the Walt Disney Television Studios building (home to Playhouse and Stitch Live) finally beginning back in April and only just making real progress, have the maintenance teams really taken a step back and reconsidered the building, rather than just bursting ahead with the same ugly yellows the original designers chose in 2002?
Yes, it seems so! The architecture was already within the period, but the colours didn’t quite fit. Now, a deep red has replaced the turquoise on the “fins” atop the building, with the yellow turning a much more earthy, peachy shade, in whole much closer to a 1950s Hollywood look and more pleasing next to the subdued tones of the Hollywood Tower Hotel just opposite.
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ANIMAGIQUE KIOSK MARK II
The bland merchandise kiosk which appeared outside Animagique in 2007 now has a partner. Filling in dead space on the right of the same TV Studios building, this little location opened just this week, using the new colour scheme and dressed up in a pleasingly similar style of fins and neons.
Photo: Sean Hamilton
In any other Disney park, such a location would be given a name or some kind of personality (think Crossroads of the World at Disney’s Hollywood Studios). It offers the usual generic collection of character merchandise.
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ROCKEFELLER PLAZA REBORN
Could this be the start of a new era for the environs of Disney’s Hotel New York? The Rockefeller Plaza building, a dull games arcade for far too long, has finally reopened as a lovely café refreshments location for the Summer.
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MICKEY SWINGS INTO — AND ONTO — BUFFALO BILL’S
It was the controversy of the year — nay, the decade — and now it looks like Mickey Mouse has made home. The not-so-great poster previously stuck on the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show entrance has just been replaced by a large model of Mickey Mouse abseiling down over the building.
Whilst it looks much smarter now, it has fans worried that the mouse may well be there to stay. On the subject of the show itself, the current Summer park programme leaflets are now advertising Adult tickets for the price of Child tickets. In high season? Maybe adding a mouse wasn’t the best way to sell the scale of this truly epic dinner show.
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FASTPASS FOR MONEY
This one must be the second-biggest controversy of the year, then. In itself not a huge thing by any means, this could however be the first step of a huge shift in how Fastpass works. From 18th July to 4th August, guests staying at Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Hotel New York and, it seems, Disney’s Newport Bay Club, can buy a special “Premium FASTPASS” for €80 per person per day.
The ticket is effectively a VIP FASTPASS, the unlimited-access ticket previously given only to guests in Club rooms and Suites, allowing you to use the FASTPASS queues for attractions as and when you want, as many times as you want to.
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STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES
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GOOFY’S SUMMER CAMP
Somewhere you won’t find Mickey this year is the new show at The Chaparral Theater in Frontierland. Yes, since we last updated the topic, The Tarzan Encounter was cancelled again — for good.
This new show is somewhat like the Summer cousin to the brilliant Mickey’s Winter Wonderland, only scuppered by a desperation for audience interaction, with too few scenes between. However, with a live country band as the big “plus” to replace the Winter ice rink, a great stage and some nice musical numbers, it’s winning more fans than certain other shows this year, and much more fitting for its location than Tarzan ever was.
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MAIN STREET COMES ALIVE WITH MARCHING BAND
Last seen making brief appearances last Summer on the old Central Plaza Stage, the brass band has returned! Now performing a brilliant set of Disney music (even including Hans Zimmer’s Pirates score!) on Town Square, this is the kind of classic Disneyland entertainment we rarely see in Paris, so enjoy! The only problem — no one, not the makers of the park programme, nor the Cast Members inside City Hall, appear to have been given their performance schedule.
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CARL’S HOUSE FLIES OVER FRANCE
The real-life version of the balloon-lifted house from Pixar’s next — and 10th — major hit, “Up”, travelled over to France recently and, amongst appearing in some truly spectacular hot air balloon festivals, paid a visit to Disneyland Paris early one morning.
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Who’d have known — the Sleeping Beauty fountain inside the Castle gallery was actually meant to trickle down into the waterfall below, beside the staircase, as one, complete water system! Now, after truly years of being turned off and ignored, it’s fixed and running. The “crystal” at the bottom of the falls glows, too!
Wonderful. Utmost appreciation to whoever made this happen.
We loved the entrance logo, we loved the signage, we loved the real-wooden extensions to the existing Critter Corral buildings. But, we knew they must be planning more for Woody’s Roundup Village, the first dedicated character animation area in Disneyland Park…
Good news — the roundup isn’t complete yet! Woody’s lasso has been thrown out to cover more of the development, elaborating his presence and the new 1950s cowboy TV show theme much more with a brand new display in one of the old animal shelters.
With straw spread across the floor and memorabilia from the Woody’s Roundup TV series covering the walls, this corner is now home to Bullseye — explaining his absence from the scheduled character meet ‘n’ greets. The stable is due to become a dedicated photolocation for younger children at some point in the near future, letting kids climb up onto Bullseye himself for a photo against the merchandise and disused scenery of the TV puppet show.
Many of the 2D decorations are recognisable from Al’s apartment in the film Toy Story 2, such as the large cardboard cut-out of Woody advertising Cowboy Crunchies cereal, decorative plates featuring the Roundup Gang, countless vinyl record covers and Woody’s own “Time” magazine frontcover. The 1950s-styled memorabilia will likely stir memories not just for fans of the film, also with those older visitors who grew up with Western advertures, such as The Lone Ranger, filling their black and white TV screens.
The decorations even continue outside of the stable, with old-fashioned American advertisements for Woody-themed products covering the wooden panels at the front of the shelter.
With the Father Christmas Village due to take over the area in just over 8 days, one has to wonder what place this new, elaborated Woody’s Roundup theme will find amongst the Christmas trees and reindeer…
In what must be the quickest blue-sky-rumour to open-for-guests attraction turnaround in Disney history, the redevelopment of Frontierland’s old Critter Corral lost its green construction walls and opened for guests this past weekend on 6th October, less than three months from when the walls first arrived.
In that time, we’ve seen two new, wooden buildings constructed to enclose the central square, a sharply-pitched roof joining the two and a third construction creating a raised platform in the middle of the area. On a minimal available budget and in practically no time at all, it seems Disneyland Park is already ready to present a brand new Frontierland attraction, the first since 1996…
Woody’s Roundup! And isn’t that just the most rootinest, tootinest attraction logo around?
Recreating the logo seen in the film Toy Story 2, for the 1950s children’s television series which Woody discovers he was once the star of, the new signage sits on a support of a horseshoe standing in two cowboy boots — very much the style old-fashioned Wild West humour, as seen elsewhere in Thunder Mesa on posters and notices and other imagery. Woody cowboy hats rest either side, telling us this is where the “rootinest tootinest cowboy around” comes to relax. The letters of “Woody’s” are made in 3D as if styled from rope.
Yes, here it is, the Pixar cowboy-themed area predicted and promised by magicforum and DLRP Today for several months (or with this construction timescale — weeks), the first areas of Woody’s Roundup are already open!
With the Father Christmas Village the only use for the redeveloped area confirmed by the resort so far, it’s a surprise to see this attraction logo installed so soon and the area already fulfilling its new purpose, albeit with an impressive Halloween theme.
The roofs of the new buildings (now a Halloween workshop to replace that usually in Central Plaza’s Giant Pumpkin) are decorated with small pumpkins at their peaks and corners, whilst the area beyond the roundup, around the small grassy slope at the rear of the Roundup, has been filled with all kinds of Halloween props…
Amongst Pumpkin Men in various poses and some props from last year’s FantaStitch Stage decoration, there seems to be a resurgence in the number of traditional and/or real pumpkins in this year’s Halloween decorations, in addition to the oversized false ones.
However, after so many years of Disney’s Halloween Festival, it’s hard for us to keep track of what’s actually new in these lavish overlays. Some things, on the other hand, are simply confusing on their own…
Back over at the Roundup village, the Halloween workshops are presented alongside the main attraction of the redeveloped area… the meet ‘n’ greets.
New signage displays the times Woody and Jessie, the two main members of the Roundup Gang, will arrive from their Frontier adventures to meet the fans in their real-life home.
The signage again uses the Pixar-designed logo, which thankfully stands very well amongst the rest of Frontierland — a rather sacred ground for the average Disneyland Resort Paris fan. The wooden pole is wrapped with rope for an extra touch of theme.
The idea of the area is very much like Toon Town — or Toon Studio, for that matter — with a Western theme. Whilst we won’t get a true idea of what the Roundup will offer until next year when its Halloween and Christmas uses have passed, guests can already step up onto the new raised platform in the middle of the area to meet the characters against a backdrop of the cowboy village.
Unfortunately for his many fans, the third member of the Roundup Gang — Bullseye — is not currently scheduled to make appearances.
The buildings all have classic Frontierland-style lanterns hanging from their roofs, as seen across the land, plus a mixture of wooden-tiled and metal roofs. The two new buildings come fitted with windows to keep out Paris’ unfriendly climate. More horseshoes across the wooden (or in some cases, such as roof supports — faux wooden) supports to continue the theme of the entrance signage.
However, as these latest pictures by Photos Magiques show, the Roundup still has much space left to be used and more final details and developments to be completed. The covered animal stables and enclosures remain empty and the Woodcarver’s Workshop remains closed.
The changeover to the much-advertised Father Christmas Village should no doubt bring more completion to the overall area, likely then giving it a feel similar to the stage set of the Mickey’s Winter Wonderland show across the path. It is not confirmed whether the Woody’s Roundup characters and signage will be removed during this event, but it’s certainly possible Woody could be heading into the sunset — temporarily — just one month after he arrived.
Disneyland Resort Paris always announces its new developments in the most understated of ways. Whether its a paragraph at the end of a financial report or a nondescript mention on a webpage, the resort certainly knows how to keep its fans on their toes.
Today, official confirmation for the ‘Father Christmas Village‘ finally comes from an online newsletter sent out to all UK guests introducing both the Halloween and Christmas seasons, together. Once the email has arrived in their inbox, subscribers can click a link to visit a special webpage on disneylandparis.co.uk providing a preview of the upcoming season under the tagline “This year, Christmas will be 15 times more MARVELLOUS!”
One sentence, hidden toward the end of the text, reads as follows:
“…And take advantage of this exceptional day to visit the new Father Christmas Village.”
The email newsletter itself mentions guests being able to “spend some magical moments with the Disney Characters who await you in their special Christmas finery beside Father Christmas in person”, suggesting the village will mix well with the perpetually popular Mickey’s Winter Wonderland within the ranch area, providing a ‘Disney Character’ alternative to the ‘Disney Princess’ theme of Belle’s Christmas Village, returning to Fantasyland from 17th November 2007.
Woody’s Roundup Village itself will then likely take over the ranch in the new year, providing Disneyland Resort Paris with its only attraction to be “made-over” annually for seasonal events.
The newsletter also confirms the English name of Candleabration‘s festive guise – Enchanted Candleabration.
The rootinest, tootinest, shootinest, hootinest cowboy around is finally due to make a Frontierland appearance over 12 years since the original Toy Story film. The ‘Woody’s Roundup’ name chosen for this redevelopment coming from the 1999 film Toy Story 2 and the fictional 1950s television series which Woody discovers he originated from. The name has also been suggested to be ‘Woody’s Roundup Village’ — a partner for Pocahontas Indian Village nearby, perhaps?
The new development is expected to be used for meet ‘n’ greets with the ‘Roundup Gang’, with other activities aimed at a younger audience also likely, encouraging these visitors to spend longer in a land with little specifically for children.
Riding through Frontierland on the Disneyland Railroad, the two new buildings are now unmissable in the grassy glade of the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area. Square pitched roofs have been added to both, including a decorative centre square raised above the main roof. Further progress has been made with what appears to be a new wooden structure joining these two buildings, a much more strongly-pitched roof bridging the gap to provide a very large new covered space.
Now, this kind of plywood isn’t particularly inspiring or suitable for a Western ranch post-1880. Lucky then, we can spot a second major construction step already – weathered roof tiles are already laid on the roof opposite The Chaparral Theater. Upon completion, we could imagine the buildings the appear similar obviously to those retained from Critter Corral, but also to the Disneyland Railroad Frontierland Depot itself. Woody may be from an animated film, but there appears nothing “cartoonish” whatsoever about his real-life ranch home.
The Christmas press release and information released last week also confirmed Father Christmas’ usual Town Square location is now being taken by Goofy, suggesting this development will be ready for its Christmas Village function this year. Woody’s Roundup itself, for the rest of the year, will then likely follow in 2008.
Besides the irregular flow of guests into and out of The Chaparral Theater and Frontierland Depot railroad station, there’s not a lot going on in Cottonwood Creek Ranch. Why, it’s almost like a real-life, sleepy ranch settlement! But for a Disney park? Yes, they want a little more life…
Heading into the quiet Cottonwood Creek area (24th August 2007)
The Critter Corral area, with its sheds, paddocks, enclosures and ‘Woodcarver’s Workshop’ is now surrounded on all sides by green construction walls — from the path, and from the railroad. Above the fences, however, the old signage of the workshop/retail location can be seen sitting strangely beside modern day machinery and digging equipment in the Western corner of the area, next to the railroad. Interestingly, most of the outer paddocks are still open, suggesting they won’t be changed — perhaps left simply as grassy surroundings.
Corral fences / Woodcarver remains for now (25th August 2007)
But how do you see behind the fences? Oh, there’s always a way. Be it the mirrors of Videopolis, the rockets of Orbitron or the Flying Carpets of Toon Studio, the Imagineers’ future projects always have a hidden viewpoint or two. Next time you’re walking toward Frontierland Depot passing the fences, take a closer look for several useful holes at various heights…
Through the fences, equipment and foundations (24th August 2007)
…and enjoy the confused looks on other guests’ faces as you hold your camera up and try to snap some photos. The view is worth it, however, showing such features as the entrance gate of the old Critter Corral still in place, with even the “We’ll be back next season” sign holding on for now.
A little to the left, and further back, the real surprise are some new concrete foundations recently laid, enclosing the centre of the former farm from the passing railroad. New foundations in Frontierland? It seemed like we’d never see the day!
Aaron has emailed with some photos by Jort Laban, providing a further update from this past weekend, showing that the foundations are now home to two new wooden constructions, similar in style to the buildings retained from the original Critter Corral:
New wooden constructions near the railroad tracks
The following aerial plan shows the two new constructions and gives a complete overview of the full Critter Corral area — including its original animal paddocks and the area accessible to guests. Unless the animals make a return for the new development, these large enclosures could add a lot of extra land for guests to stroll around.
Critter Corral development plan (Click to see in full)
As a whole, the development is similar in scale — and idea — to the Toon Studio Plaza area which opened with the new area at Walt Disney Studios Park in June this year, featuring dedicated character locations within their own themed environment. With the Woodcarver’s Workshop and other buildings available at Critter Corral, however, the possibilites here are even greater. Live music? Craft workshops? Whatever they’ve planned, the new area should be hive of activity, particularly for younger guests.
The use of this new location for Christmas (and possibly Halloween) seasons has already been confirmed. In fact, it’s said to be none other than the entertainment department themselves who are helping along the resurrection of this former Frontier-waste-land.
Photos by DLRP Today and Jort Laban (with thanks to Aaron). Aerial photo from Google Earth.
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