World of Disney, the new flagship store at the hub of Disneyland Paris and entrance to Disney Village, has finally had its opening date set in stone: 12th July 2012! An unusual Thursday opening, then; perhaps a nod to the 12th April, or a chance for the newly-opened store to prepare itself ahead of summer weekend crowds? At least this puts an end to confusion over the date, which has been moving back and forth between June and September for the past few months. Work is suddenly flying ahead on the exterior, which will eventually end up looking like the visual above.
This new concept art, first included in the ‘Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams’ book, shows the final design of the Hollywood Art Deco-inspired exterior and its signature globe dome. You might remember from earlier concept art that the original idea was for a second half of the globe to continue inside the store itself, visible through the windows to create the effect of a floating Earth. Now, just the dome on top is part of the final design, with the double-height atrium inside to be decorated with stars; its centrepiece a hot air balloon carrying the Disney characters to destinations around the world, which will be featured in different areas of the store’s interior design.
The new design also clearly depicts how the boutique is raised slightly from the hub itself, with a small set of stairs around the front and sides to offer some protection from the surge of visitors at park closing. Naturally, a ramp is also provided on the right-hand side.
There, we also see the beginnings of an intriguing new perimeter gate. Rumours have suggested that the opening of World of Disney could see changes to the operation of the resort hub and its security barriers, perhaps allowing guests to go between the parks and Disney Village without leaving the security-controlled zone, though exact details of this are unconfirmed.
Along with the opening date announcement, Disneyland Paris has also shared photos of two important arrivals, all the way from New York City: Mickey and Minnie Mouse!
These two statues, which now sit either side of the main World of Disney entrance in Paris, were salvaged from the marquee of the former World of Disney store on Fifth Avenue in New York, which closed on 31st December 2009.
Photo: cre8or (Flickr)
Disney moved to a new retail space in Times Square in late 2010, branded as a general Disney store, leaving only the two — and very soon to be three — theme park locations. Of which, Paris certainly has the most beautiful, unique exterior. But isn’t that always the case?
Press release follows… CONTINUE READING…
Everything looked neat ‘n’ pretty, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite “on with the show” for the planned opening ceremony of Meet Mickey Mouse at Disneyland Paris yesterday, 16th May 2012. An unconnected — and now resolved — walk-out by the character performers division saw the cancellation of most character events across the parks for the entire day.
Oddly this means that the date we consign to history as the public opening date of this new attraction is the one confirmed months ago: 17th May 2012. And here are the first official photos!
These snaps show only the Mickey Mouse meet and greet room itself, behind the stage in the completely redesigned former Fantasy Festival Stage, where guests encounter the mouse preparing for his magic show in a dressing room overflowing with props and hidden details. Many of the details will be familiar to those who already know the attraction’s Town Square Theatre cousin in Florida, though here — as described in our walk-through yesterday — the set-up is entirely faithful to that of the real, pre-existing theatre, giving a much more faithful and enjoyable narrative to the whole experience.
Guests queue in the aisles of the old theatre area, completely redressed with plush carpets, pendant lights and wood panelling, with Mickey Mouse projections playing out on a projection screen on the stage. Then, they climb the stairs into the real backstage area for their “Rencontre avec Mickey”.
You can already spot many of the fun nods in these photos. The giant padded suitcase containing Mickey’s magician outfit and magic wands, an advertisement for a “Band Concert” in the park (referencing the 1935 short film), travel stickers referencing other Disney resorts (and a Colonel Hathi travel company), and even a custom-made striped wallpaper that uses only the colours black, red, yellow and white. This might just be one of the most charming attractions in the park.
Today at 12.30pm, the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors are scheduled to officially inaugurate the new Meet Mickey Mouse meet and greet attraction in Fantasyland, with a special ceremony in the presence of the mouse himself. It will be preceded by three sessions of Passeport Annuel Dream previews. Then, from 1.00pm, the first chance for guests to step inside the redesigned former Fantasy Festival Stage to meet Mickey and investigate the changes within.
How does it look? Well, we were lucky enough to get an exclusive sneak peek inside the new attraction along with fellow fansite authors on 1st April. Greeted by Imagineer Laurent Cayuela at the door, wonderfully animated himself, we were led on a tour (no photos allowed) through the work-in-progress interior that has undergone considerable change since its days as a real show theatre. Where in 1992 guests sat on wooden benches in the half-open space to watch “C’est Magique”, in 2012 they’ll be stepping inside a gorgeous, plush interior reminiscent of great opera houses of the early 1900s.
The basic set-up of the theatre and its stage remains, already perfect for the premise of this attraction. On your way to meet Mickey Mouse in his dressing room behind the stage, you first step into a small lobby area in the right-hand wing of the theatre, adorned with the posters of “Mickey the Magnificent” already seen in Frontierland and the similar, existing meet and greet in Florida’s Magic Kingdom.
False walls in the same off-white as the exterior have been erected down each side of the former seating area inside, enclosing the theatre stage area itself and giving the previously rather “barebones” pavilion a grander theatrical feel. The entire space has been given soft new, red carpeting with a gold pattern, lending the theatre a truly luxurious feel.
Stepping into the auditorium, you join a back-and-forth queue line which cleverly gives the impression of theatre seating aisles, sloping downwards to the completely redressed stage itself. And wow, that stage: now framed extravagantly in beautiful wood panelling and completed with two new “box seats” sticking out above the audience in either side.
It’s still a real stage, just as before, and Laurent even mentioned that they could use it as such (we imagine for small live music acts or special events, perhaps), but the regular pre-show will be a selection of classic Mickey Mouse cartoons, projected onto a screen behind the curtains as guests queue. Note the plural on curtains: there are no less than three different curtains now permanently installed on the stage — Venetian, Grecian and Italian — which all lift up and open in different ways, presumably between cartoons.
Gleaming gold railings wrap around the queue line with subtle lighting in the edges at ground level. The real feature lighting is above: a series of fabulously ornate pendant lamps produced especially for the attraction by a specialist company with several generations’ experience. The whole queue line has enough space for a 45 minute wait — as we’ve hinted before, a hint of Disney magic later on which we won’t otherwise spoil could help this flow up to three times faster than otherwise.
Staying true to the theatre building, guests really do step “backstage” when they go to meet Mickey in his dressing room. Climbing a small set of stairs at the side of the stage (a ramp for access is also provided), the elaborate decoration suddenly falls away to reveal bare brick-clad walls and a stage manager’s lectern in a small corridor. Here, a Cast Member will personally escort guests to Mickey’s dressing room through another corridor. It’s this dressing room which packs more in-jokes and clever nods than some Disney attractions do in their entire length.
Books, notices, props and suitcases litter the room from floor to ceiling. ”Good luck” notes from Minnie, a “missing” notice for the kidnapped Aristocats, a children’s drawing featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Even a prop to reference the Pixar short film Presto. It’s funny, too. All to often these days Disney can forget these details are called “in-jokes“. Designing everything in the shape of Mickey’s head does not make for clever hidden detail. But having a bag on the sideboard labelled with “Tuppence” really does raise that little smile a classic Disney “gag” gives you.
Mickey Mouse himself (not present during our preview tour) poses in front of a red curtain, opposite the illuminated dressing room mirror and next to the giant seven-foot suitcase containing his props and costume, which also helps to divide the room. Imagineers never talk money, but the whole space with its hyper-custom props has the feel of serious investment and certainly worthy of the company’s trademark character.
Out the other side of the dressing room, guests are free to pose with some of the magician’s props stored at the side of the side — including a giant saw and a “Tank of Terror” escapology trick. Again, there’s a very welcome humour here.
Exit is then via the left-hand side of the auditorium, behind the false walls, to a ticket booth-style area which serves as the souvenir photo sales desk. Once again, lavishly designed — but with practicalities in mind, too: one window of the desk is lowered on both the guest and Cast Member sides, allowing not just a guest in a wheelchair to purchase their photo with ease, but a Cast Member in a wheelchair to serve them, too. Laurent was particularly proud of such forward-thinking.
A pause for questions left our group rather speechless, perhaps so taken aback by the transformation. On background music, Laurent stated that the short loop we heard during the tour (the same track which has been playing at the temporary Frontierland location) would likely be replaced simply by the sounds of the cartoons in the pre-show, audible throughout the venue.
The thought of an attraction based solely around meeting a character won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the execution of this particular concept really has been completed to the utmost Disney quality. Blessed with the gift of a real, pre-existing theatre, unlike the earlier Florida version, Walt Disney Imagineering have been able to play out the narrative far more truthfully and successfully.
One single quibble would come back to something we raised when the marquee went up, that perhaps it doesn’t play the “British” location within Fantasyland to its full advantage. The theatre could feel British if you wanted it to, but it doesn’t particularly overstate this anywhere.
Perhaps that’s the idea, to make it as international as the mouse himself; but sandwiched between the unquestionably, quintessentially English trio of Peter Pan’s Flight, Toad Hall Restaurant and Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, it’s a particular shame they found reason to place the letters “Rencontre avec Mickey” on the main marquee, when the French subtitle on the smaller wait time indicator at the entrance (not to mention on park maps and programmes) would have sufficed. Luckily this is the only aspect to work against the British setting; the rest of the attraction, if not exactly working with the locality, fits wonderfully well alongside it (even if some dislike the “Main Street” marquee lights).
Furthermore, an abundance of genuinely humorous in-jokes gives it a classic feel that’s close to the character it celebrates without a single lazy, mouse-shaped detail. As the sole contribution of Imagineering to the 20th Anniversary, and despite being “just” a meet ‘n’ greet, it feels genuine and worthwhile. And most likely set to be one of Fantasyland’s most popular attractions.
Watch our HD video of the Meet Mickey Mouse exterior below… CONTINUE READING…
This week, the future Ratatouille dark ride made another highly visible step forward as a second tower crane began to rise above the Toon Studio construction site. The first, of course, made its mark on 11th April — a valiant effort by the second gate to steal the thunder of its partner a day before the 20th Anniversary events on 12th April 2012. Whether this date was chosen by chance or by reason, it was a fitting way to end one chapter with the beginnings of the next.
So what does a Disneyland Paris fan do, upon arriving at the resort after a long train journey on a blustery, rainy evening like that? Rush straight over to Walt Disney Studios Park, just 15 minutes before the gates closed, and photograph our exciting new landmark from every angle, of course. And then, a month later, actually find the time to post the pictures online.
But here we go, crane fans: over 40 photos and six minutes of video featuring “La Grue Ratatouille” — from Val d’Europe, Toon Studio, Backlot, Frontierland and beyond. This first crane alone was imposing enough on the skyline: this ride may be all about rats, but it won’t be small by any standard.
Continues… CONTINUE READING…
Click the image above for the full collection
Mickey’s 20th Anniversary Train is the classic idea of a series of carriages, each featuring different characters, joining up to form a complete set. Whilst Mickey’s engine will cost you €19.99, the subsequent carriages appear to require a monthly investment of €12.99, all limited to just 600 editions. Similarly limited is the Jeu de Pins 20 ème Anniversaire, a €39.99 board game with collectible additional pins, all in the fabulous new “Retro” merchandise style. The first additional pin, also limited to 600 editions, features Mark Twain and Big Thunder Mountain in a retro style, for €14.99.
Slightly more affordable are the quirky “robot” pins, featuring Mickey, Donald and Stitch, available now at €8.99. A new souvenir Pin Trading collectors’ bag, in the 20th Anniversary “Signature” merchandise style, will set you back €44.99. Will you be picking up any of these new Pin Trading items?
Still, all a drop in the ocean compared to the prices (£160 and upwards) that the limited 12th April 2012 pins have been sold for on eBay. Those pins, released on the morning of the big date itself last month, were limited to 1,000 editions but still sold across the resort within hours. Reports from fans who attempted to buy the pins, risking missing the events themselves, suggested that there was no sales limit initially enforced for the €12.99 pins, leading some enterprising folk to buy whole handfulls in one sale, giving one of the few sour points to an otherwise exceptionally managed day.
Neatly timed to coincide with the celebrations of 12th April 2012, Channel 5 in the UK broadcast a special behind-the-scenes “documentary” on Sunday, 15th April giving a unique look at the preparations for the 20th Anniversary. Titled Making the Magic: Disneyland Paris – 20th Anniversary, it will be available to watch on the online Demand 5 player until March 2013, but only within the UK.
Not wanting to let such a great promotional piece for the resort go unseen for everyone else, we managed to record the whole show from a DVR box. Quality isn’t perfect (no need for 720p), but hopefully it’s good enough to enjoy. (And yes, Walt Disney built his first park in 1955, not 1957!)
The show naturally focuses mainly on Disney Dreams!, with exclusive input from Steve Davison, Katy Harris and technical director Chuck Davis, but Disney Magic on Parade! is also featured with Kat de Blois and two British parade Cast Members preparing for the parade’s changeover. We get to see “Team Dreams” making last minute preparations on the same day Steve, Katy and Kat took time out to attend a Q&A session with fan sites, making us even more grateful for that opportunity. Added drama comes as Steve drops into the Dreams control room to announce: “There’s a big blue square which appears in the middle of Jungle Book, which I’ve never seen..!”
Knowing the promotional tie-up between Channel 5 and Disneyland Paris before the launch of the 20th Anniversary, this show is clearly more of a glossy promotional piece than a true “documentary” — but it’s also 22 minutes of the best British TV promotion seen for the resort in years. No CGI, no greenscreen, just letting the magic — and the people behind the magic — speak for themselves.
Meanwhile, across the Channel, French viewers recently got to enjoy the far less glossy but rather more revealing “Disneyland et ses Secrets” feature-length documentary on France 3, which can also be found in full on YouTube.
Couldn’t quite make it for the 12th April 2012 celebrations? You weren’t the only one. Slightly delayed from the shelves of Disneyland Paris boutiques was the new 192-page book all about the history of the resort. We reported its impending arrival late last month amongst the flurry of 20th Anniversary news, and it looks to be an impressive tome indeed. Available as a single 192-page book with both French and English text, it features over 500 images from the history of the resort, charting 20 years of progress and expansion from 1992 to today. And, though the publisher couldn’t quite meet the historic date itself, the book does now have a release date: tomorrow, 23rd April 2012!
The official blurb reads:
“Twenty years ago, Disneyland® Paris opened and Walt Disney’s dreams came to life in the place where the stories that inspired him were born. Since then, Imagineers, artists and Cast Members have worked together every day to share those dreams with more than 250 million guests. Relive, year by year, highlights from two decades of dreams and innovations at Disneyland Paris, through rare and never-seen-before artwork, photographs and interviews. From Walt Disney Imagineering to the expansion of Val d’Europe, peek into the life of a company that serves the area and those around. 20 Years of Dreams is both a must-have souvenir of Disneyland Paris and a family album covering the first twenty years of Europe’s number one tourist destination.”
Titled “Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams” (or “20 Ans de Rêves”) and priced at €49.99, it will be on sale exclusively at the following boutiques: The Emporium, The Storybook Store, Harrington’s, Walt Disney Studios Store, The Disney Animation Gallery, La Boutique du Château, The Disney Gallery, Disney Store, Galerie Mickey. You can see a glimpse inside here.
If you’re not planning to visit or revisit the resort again soon you can also get your hands on one of the 5,000 copies from the first print run via the official mail order service. Call +33 164744486 or +33 164744848 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that Annual Passport and other discounts are not available on books.
Videopolis Theatre in Discoveryland saw a packed house at 10.45am on 12th April 2012, as the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors welcomed legendary Imagineer Tony Baxter to the stage for a one hour discussion of its history, creation and progress “from concept to reality”. From broader points about the challenges his team faced in bringing a Disney park to Europe, he went on to discuss his favourite hidden details in the park, anecdotes of meeting Walt Disney, and even shares his very own version of the contested Phantom Manor storyline…
Couldn’t make it there yourself? We’re proud to present our own, exclusive video of the entire event for you now, above — including the special appearance of all the worldwide Disney Ambassadors from every resort to pose questions to Tony himself.