As the grand opening of Walt Disney Studios' two new attractions edges ever nearer, everything is pointing to the Toons - quite literally. Entrance signs for both attractions are now in place as their area development grows and Animagique glows in a bright shade of blue, whilst Sorcerer Mickey prepares to point his wand.,
The idea Walt Disney Imagineering calls “Area Development” has gone to play in every corner of Toon Studio. Whilst Disneyland Park has been the king of area development for over 15 years – everywhere from Boot Hill to Discovery Lagoon – Walt Disney Studios Park is finally beginning to join in with its three Toon Studio filmsets and the wacky studio entrance gate at the back of the land. Today, it’s all about signs – and they’re all pointing to the Toons.
The long-awaited ‘Cars’ neon was installed a couple of weeks ago atop the Ramone’s House of Body Art-inspired queue entrance. With a shiny red finish and a sleek metallic surround, it looks like a perfect slice of Route 66 Americana. Elsewhere, the neons and studio lighting glow throughout the day, ready to draw people in, whilst more trees have been added just in front of the Cadillac Range backdrop. Because – unlike the rest of the Studios and its loud billboards – this area likes to keep things a bit more hidden, give guests something to discover as they turn each corner…
Turning the corner towards Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, they will be confronted with a billboard – but smaller, more colourful and a key part of the area development. The ‘Welcome to Radiator Springs’ sign looks like it was copied and pasted right out of Pixar’s computers. In the distance, you can see the entrance sign for the attraction has also been installed, reading ‘Cars Quatre Roues Rallye’ in customised, bright blue neons.
As for the electricity pylons, theyve now been littered with studio lighting also pointing towards a Toon – the giant undersea backdrop of Crush’s filmset, so perhaps those electricity wires are almost real?
Sticking with Cars, and the photo below – from Disneytheque.com – again shows another new sign, but maybe not what we expected. With its dark, rotting wooden facade, the middle storefront always seemed to be a sure location for Lizzie’s Radiator Springs Curios. As the lopsided sign shows, though, Tow Mater has taken this spot! The photo also shows the large collection of new conifer trees in the area behind the land, as well as a brand new gate between Route 66 and the Studio Tram Tour route.
Crush’s Coaster has been receiving a last minute touch-up to its paintwork this week, helping the dark blue rockwork blend better with the brighter side wall thanks to an air-blown gradient.
Here too there are new signs pointing to the Toons. The all-important entrance sign was installed last week, with a small logo and wait time indicator at the top then two pairs of warnings signs below, one in French, the other in English. The information board clearly uses the same style as those at Epcot’s ‘The Seas with Nemo & Friends’.
It’s a small sign for the towering Studio 5 behind, but sources including La Rouquine on Disney Central Plaza forum have confirmed that the much larger marquee featuring Crush himself will still appear, positioned along the queue line just before guests step under the canopy at the side of the studio.
The previously pale yellow building of Animagique doesn’t have any new signage but it does have a blinding new blue colour scheme to point guests toward itself – now with an extra touch of purple to replace the dull red bricks around the top of its waiting area roof. Later photos on Disneytheque.com show the pillars either side of the entrance (here being painted with a white primer) have actually been repainted in the very same blue as before, where a more contrasting colour might have been expected.
Also strange to note – the Fantasia hippos previously positioned in the flower beds on the right of the building, toward the Monsters Inc photo location, have now been moved to the lawn behind Art of Disney Animation, along the Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic route. The move doesn’t look temporary, so it remains to be seen if they will be returned to Animation Courtyard once the flooring has been completed, let alone what remains of their former flower beds…
But whilst the hippos are gone, something else returns. The look-out tower next to Flying Carpets Over Agrabah – which was recently repainted purple from dark blue – has now regained its fabric canopy and walls.
Finally, we end with the biggest pointer to the Toons of them all – the land’s brand new Sorcerer Mickey statue. We first saw a glimpse of the statue being sculpted in February, and now that the latest issue of Tales from the Laughing Place has shipped, we can get a closer look at the Studios’ fourth Mickey statue.
The Imagineer at work is Valerie Edwards, and the statue should finally appear in its full, golden form later this month, along with a spark of magic flying across the parade route and the host of other golden Disney characters on the Sorcerer’s Hat. So if it looks like everything’s pointing to the Toons right now, just wait ’till June!