Works completed with just a day to spare, turning the space behind Sleeping Beauty Castle into a foreboding centrepiece for the Halloween “Gang” of Disney Villains to meet and greet guests. The usual Sword in the Stone at its heart has been completely concealed, with clever décor giving the impression that its stone walls have been warped and entangled by the spiny green briars.
Towering over 30ft high, the decoration is in fact an embodiment of Maleficent’s dragon alter-ego — look closely at the pictures by InsideDLParis below and you might spot the sharp jaw line, twisted horns and neck bending down towards visitors.
Even without Disney Villains surrounding it, the feature has already become an impressive photo opportunity for Disneyland Paris photographers. Already we’ve seen it captured as a tangled mess through the archways of the castle (by Radio Disney Club, top) or juxtaposed with the towers of Le Château itself, in a way we’ve never before seen Fantasyland in over 20 years (by DisneylandBerry, below).
Besides a new float for Mickey’s Halloween Celebration, this is perhaps the biggest “new” element of Disney’s Halloween Festival in 2014. It’s a real delight to see this festival continue to go from strength to strength, becoming not just more impressive but ever more fitting within the park’s lands themselves.
Update — The Disney Villains make their first appearances around the Maleficent’s Court briar, which seems to be gently erupting smoke, in a photo by DisneylandBerry:
Swing Into Spring will return to Disneyland Paris from 1st March to 31st May 2015, that’s confirmed already. But while we prepare for Halloween and Christmas, Disney is preparing for the second season of this successful new annual festival with a new audition notice already posted for dancers on the official Casting website.
Asking for availability between early February and the end of May, the notice is seeking 34 dancers measuring 1.58m to 1.75m and 68 dancers measuring between 1.6m and 1.88m. Totalling 102 dancers, that’s identical to last year’s casting numbers for the Disneyland Park entertainment events, which in 2014 included Welcome to Spring on Town Square and the impressive Disney’s Spring Promenade around Central Plaza.
The auditions take place in Paris on 30th and 31st October 2014.
We don’t yet know what Disneyland Paris plans as it transforms these months into a season all of their own. Last year’s events and park decorations, including enormous, colourful Disney character “topiaries” nestled amongst hundreds of additional real flowers, were impressive enough for a season that had seen little to no prior promotion. Perhaps deciding to play it safe with a new idea, the events weren’t promoted or even confirmed until just weeks before the launch.
For 2015, Swing Into Spring has now been promoted to a listing in the official holiday brochures, confirming the success of the first season.
It’s a sensible decision for the park which, like other European parks, had previously attempted to fill every early April with something “new” — sometimes resorting to desperate year-long “non-festivals” in the process.
As we saw with Ratatouille opening in early July, sometimes new attractions which take years to build don’t fit into that rigid seasonal timeframe, so having an ever-changing annual season to bring new life to the park each spring will be a welcome change.
Although, it does mean even fewer months to see Main Street Station untouched…
Buying your Disney park tickets from the new official Disneyland Paris website? Get ready for new names and seasonal prices for 1 Day tickets: applying only to 1 Day tickets purchased online in advance, you can now choose from Mini, Magic or Super Magic ticket types depending on the date you’re visiting.
Effectively covering Low, High and Peak seasons respectively, the new 1 Day tickets promise to save you money if you’re planning to visit on a less busy day of the year, with a clearer and simpler pricing structure than previous promotional tickets.
The ticket bands have been in use for Disneyland Paris ticket bookings within France since 1st July this year, but have only just made a full appearance elsewhere with the refresh of the UK website yesterday, which includes brand new booking pages. Previously, the UK website only offered the full-price “Super Magic” 1 Day ticket for sale.
Covering both 1 Park and 2 Park tickets for a single day, the new system has its own calendar (below) to confirm the validity of each ticket.
Roughly, Super Magic tickets are valid on any date and required for the busiest Halloween week and the Christmas school holidays, while Magic tickets are required for most weekends and some other holiday periods such as Easter and summer school holidays. Mini tickets are therefore valid only on other dates, mostly weekdays.
As for the prices, low season visitors could actually save considerably with this new pricing structure. In fact, two adult 2 Park Mini tickets at £100 (£50 each) works out cheaper than a standard 2 Day / 2 Park ticket at £116 (though not cheaper for 3 Days or more).
1 Day / 1 Park
1 Day / 2 Parks
You could save even more if you visited for, say, two days on “Mini” dates and took each park a day at a time with two £38 1 Day / 1 Park Mini tickets.
Tickets sold at the entrances to the Disney Parks are now effectively undiscounted “Super Magic” tickets, valid on any date, with the price tag to match. That’s €65 for a 1 Day / 1 Park ticket, for example, or €80 for a 1 Day / 2 Park ticket. However, British visitors may feel short-changed that both these prices, given current Euro exchange rates at the time of the writing, work out costing less than the new Sterling prices quoted above.
The change to seasonal pricing has not been visibly communicated by Disneyland Paris to British visitors, and even the new website provides barely any helpful information to explain the seasonal structure. Tip: you need to click the tiny, inconspicuous “i” icon next to “see calendar for restriction dates” to actually see said calendar.
Back in the 1990s, Disneyland Paris split its ticketing into Peak and Off-Peak dates, as part of a drive to boost initial low attendance outside of school holidays. The idea was discontinued sometime before the opening of Walt Disney Studios Park.
You wait for one new Disney princess meet ‘n’ greet and then two come at once. Alongside Anna and Elsa from Frozen, making their first appearance at Disneyland Paris outside of the daily parade, the upcoming Disney’s Enchanted Christmas season will also see the premiere of fiery-haired Merida from Pixar’s Brave, whom many assumed had been passed over by the Parisian resort.
Anna and Elsa, stars of the still red-hot smash hit Frozen, will “hold court” at the Princess Pavilion in Fantasyland for the duration of the season. Until now, the sisters have only been featured in the daily Disney Magic on Parade and not “on the ground” with guests, no doubt leaving many a frustrated Frozen fan.
Hopefully Disneyland Paris will put to good use the Fastpass-style reservation system it often operates for the popular pavilion, to avoid the five-hour queues reported from Walt Disney World last year.
Meanwhile, the hero of Pixar’s 2012 Oscar-winner Brave will finally make a surprise arrival in Paris. Taking the spot recently occupied by Tangled star Rapunzel next to Casey’s Corner and Liberty Arcade, Merida will meet guests for the first time.
Though Brave has been featured in Disney Dreams! since 2013, it could have been presumed Disneyland Paris had passed on the eleventh princess, given the film was released two years ago now, so it’s pleasing to see another fresh character arrive here.
In other Disney’s Enchanted Christmas news, the dazzling new Christmas Tree introduced last year will of course make a return along with the Magical Christmas Wishes illumination show and the special festive Disney Dreams! of Christmas spectacular.
Like its Halloween counterpart, Disney’s Christmas Parade will also continue to grow with a brand new float named “Sugar and Spice”, said to feature Chip and Dale.
Mickey’s Halloween Celebration, Maleficent’s Court and the Maleficent Disney Villains Promenade are all on the latest official Disneyland Park Programme, published today for the first ten days of Disney’s Halloween Festival in 2014.
The Disneyland Paris shows and parades schedule confirms that from 1st October the day will begin with the Maleficent Disney Villains Promenade, arriving on Central Plaza at 10:30am. Said to feature the much missed “Dreams of Power” float from Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, the event will of course star Maleficent and her “Halloween Gang” of Disney villains.
That same gang will then take over Maleficent’s Court, in the Sleeping Beauty Castle Courtyard, with meet ‘n’ greets from 11:30 to 12:30 and 14:40 to 16:00. The first character times for Goofy Bonbons, Halloween Costume Corner with Minnie Mouse and Jack and Sally’s Cemetery are also listed.
Taking place three times daily, Mickey’s Halloween Celebration is scheduled for 11:50, 13:00 and 14:25 — a good move for Disneyland Paris to maximise this colourful Harvest cavalcade. Meanwhile, live music will be provided by Disney’s Octoween Brass Band on Town Square and The Hallo-Swing Orchestra near Casey’s Corner.
Meanwhile, Walt Disney Studios Park loses out with Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars dropped from the listings. The former parade had already become just a meet ‘n’ greet event on Place des Stars in recent months and is now off the current schedule entirely.
One piece of good news worth noting for the Studios, however, is that Meet Spider-Man continues its residency in Backlot. His original summer departure date already cancelled, the Marvel superhero now looks set to remain indefinitely into autumn.
If you’ve visited Disneyland Paris (and you probably have, right?), then the queue for Crush’s Coaster won’t need any introduction. Not just its perpetual length and duration at any hour of the day and on any day of the year, but it’s slightly soul-crushing lack of Disney magic or ingenuity in dealing with the low capacity of this popular roller coaster.
How can an organisation like Disney, which perfected the Fastpass (proved unworkable here), not do something to improve the waiting experience? So, they did: Crush’s Coaster – The Game, an interactive smartphone game that can now be accessed via a dedicated wi-fi network within the queue area of the Toon Studio attraction.
Simply connect to “DLRPCRUSH” and the game should start right away in your browser. Using a fairly familiar format, the game sees you moving turtle Crush left and right with your finger to avoid obstacles such as rocks and jellyfish while collecting starfish. The wi-fi network can’t be used to access any other websites or services.
The game is the latest initiative in a small package of improvements at the attraction following a general refurbishment earlier in the year. In June, a new entrance booth and extended permanent queue line was unveiled (pictured top).
Incorporating a new Single Rider queue, arguably the best idea of them all, the entrance was however opened in an unfinished state and remains unfinished to this date.
Though the flat “temporary signage” (a Disneyland Paris tradition in 2014) has now been replaced with a 3D relief version and some pendant lamps added under the canopies, the wooden cabin is still lacking details such as the lamps hanging from its marquee and the window shutters, not to mention essential elements such as the electronic wait time signs, all pictured in the concept art.
A better investment were the series of three small billboards, pictured by @dlp_photos below, advertising fictional Finding Nemo-inspired businesses and causes with fun stylised illustrations of the characters — including a first appearance of Dory at the attraction.
Without doubt this kind of physical scenery and detail, albeit simple, trumps a smartphone game any day. How many people will bother to even connect to that network? How many people are really interested in playing a fairly rudimentary game? And isn’t it slightly ridiculous for a theme park to invite paying guests to turn to their own smartphones to pass the time, in lieu of anything physical to keep them entertained?
No doubt, while physical scenery and a well thought-out, atmospheric pre-show area can last forever, this game will rapidly become a forgotten anachronism as phone technology and visitor tastes evolve. At this rate, probably before the entrance booth is finished.
The oft-criticised official Disneyland Paris website has seen a complete relaunch of its UK edition today, bringing it in line with the websites for its American cousins in perhaps the biggest update yet both visually and technically.
Based on the same design and layout as the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World websites, the new UK website marks and enormous leap forward for the presentation and usability of the official Disneyland Paris website. Though last relaunched less than a year ago in October 2013, with a design that solved many of the earlier versions’ flaws, the previous site still lacked crucial polish for such a large organisation and felt clumsy compared to the glossy American sites.
In fact, many British visitors had begun to switch their browsers to the cleaner and prettier Walt Disney Travel Company website, similar in style to today’s new website.
• Click here to visit the new website (you may need to select UK edition)
Opening with a bold, crisp single image on its homepage, the new website has a huge amount of new pages to explore, encompassing both parks, attractions, hotels, Guest Services, Disney Village, seasons and events, dining, travel and much more. On first glance, the updated hotel pages appear to be the most impressive, incorporating far more photos and several separate pages for each hotel detailing rooms, dining and recreation.
The “search results” style of the park listing pages allows visitors to filter attractions based on type, interests, age range and accessibility. Fans have been quick to joke that filtering for “Stage Shows” in both Disney Parks returns a grand total of zero results.
Browsing the new website on a mobile device is also a breeze — not all that long since the website couldn’t be viewed on an iPhone or iPad at all. With the template fully optimised for smaller screens and prominent links front and centre to book park tickets and packages, the improvement from a business point of view will surely be enormous.
A surprise inclusion, perhaps, is a brand new resort map. Ditching the earlier illustrated designs, the brand new zoomable map is based on a Google Maps framework and uses the same design style as the latest California and Florida park maps. While this design is more geographically precise, in practice the 3D design feels too sterile and it suddenly makes both parks look much emptier — Walt Disney Studios Park in particular, which must also now be explored from an awkward north-facing angle. Disneyland Park meanwhile sits awkwardly on its side, the precise drawing making painfully clear the huge vacant expansion plots still remaining in many corners of the park.
Another criticism remains the Park Hours calendar, which can still only be browsed in a day-by-day format. Perhaps we’re just too enamoured with the idea of seeing a whole month’s park hours at once, but this seems an unhelpful and frustrating way to present the information. Visitors are forced to click through day-by-day to see when attraction closures are scheduled, for example, rather than just being able to see a simple list.
Meanwhile, the entertainment programme remains a downloadable PDF rather than having the times programmed into the website itself, meaning visitors can rarely plan more than a week ahead (although in contrast, the enormous hour-by-hour list provided by Walt Disney World is surely overkill). Details such as restaurant opening times and dates are also not presented, despite them now being released to independent websites on a regular basis. Let’s not mention menus, either.
Currently only the UK version of the website has been updated. It’s to be presumed the others will follow although, given that countries such as the Netherlands are still stuck on a layout two versions back now, don’t start hitting that refresh button just yet…
New this year, the briar patch of Maleficent’s Court is about to take shape on Castle Courtyard in Fantasyland. The square behind Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, normally home to the Sword in the Stone, will play host to the gang of Disney Villains for Disney’s Halloween Festival, meeting guests beside an enormous bramble sculpture.
The centrepiece itself was revealed in concept art (above) recently, depicting a dark, thorny, tree-like sculpture with vines covering the walls at its base. Look closely, and you can see the face of a dragon — Maleficent herself?
Maleficent’s Court was previously announced in the Halloween press release:
This year, Maleficent will cast a spell on the Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Disneyland Park and will invite some of the Disney Villains to join her in the Castle Courtyard. Maleficent, surrounded by her friends, the Disney Villains, will take over the place — it has now been invaded by imposing brambles, which guests will be able to pose in front of, next to the Disney Villains.
That is how huge brambles mysteriously appear in the Castle Courtyard. Shaped like the famous horns of Maleficent herself, these brambles form the outline of an imposing dragon. As night falls, the bramble will take on a more disquieting look, immersing guests in a universe of bright, unsettling colours.
Captain Hook, the Queen of Hearts, Dr Facilier, the Evil Queen, Cruella De Vil, Jafar and Gaston make up the “gang” shown here, with Maleficent on the balcony behind.
Preparations began in Fantasyland yesterday, with the area shown in the concept art above surrounded by a circle of green construction walls. The castle and all attractions are still accessible during the work, to be completed for the launch of the festival in exactly one week.
Though the Disney Villains have always been an important part of Disney’s Halloween Festival through its numerous refreshes, Maleficent’s Court will hopefully give them a more impressive “resting place” for the duration of the season.
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