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Playland engulfs Tram Tour, Parachute ropes drop

Thursday, 4th March 2010 at 21:40

Toy Story Playland constructionAs the mega three-month closure of Studio Tram Tour begins and the perimeter fences of Toy Story Playland engulf the tour -- not to mention much of the path -- the first cables fall from the top of the Parachute Drop.,

First though, a follow up to the topping-out of RC Racer in our last Playland update. We saw how this new orange halfpipe looked from within the park, from the Disney Village parking structure and from the park entrance, but what about the impact across the way?

As with the construction of Tower of Terror, there’s been much worry about these tall new attractions appearing as unwanted icons on the Thunder Mesa skyline. The main lift hill of Big Thunder Mountain is the highest guest viewpoint in Frontierland, and here’s how it looks:

Toy Story Playland construction

RC Racer is barely noticeable as you speed over the top of the hill, Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop stands out a little but not disastrously so and the Tower continues to dominate from every angle. In fact, it’s the hulk of the (in some places, unpainted!) 2007 showbuilding for Crush’s Coaster that blots the horizon the most. Once those trees have leaves, the newest additions will be even less visible.

And what about from the top deck of the riverboats, passing below here? Imagine the height of this lift hill against the height of the boats, and the Playland attractions should miraculously fall just — and really, just — below the berm there, right? Clearly Thunder Mesa already has planning laws about visual intrusion marked out for all but the biggest E-Tickets, and these attractions have been pushed right up to the limit.

From the main promenade of the Frontier town itself, none of these attractions are visible.

Still, it’d be nice to see this berm at the back of the land given a bit of “thickening up” to hide as much as possible… a few more fir trees wouldn’t go amiss. It’s an odd quirk of the Big Thunder lift hill that it offers such a view to break the spell of the otherwise flawless land. Perhaps the Imagineers of the early nineties just never envisaged plans for “Disney MGM Studios Europe”, as the park was originally going to known, encompassing any rides as tall as the Tower of Terror and co…

Anyway, onto the main news of this welcome midweek update from Walt Disney Studios.

We possibly haven’t mentioned the news on DLRP Today, but as the Closures & Refurbishments calendar over at DLRP Magic! has indicated for a while, Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic is set for a lengthy closure beginning 1st March. And just like that, the blue walls appeared…

Toy Story Playland construction

This is a really wide outbreak of walls, too — swallowing up the whole queue and loading area…

Toy Story Playland construction

…and even the old Fastpass distribution area, which hasn’t been used since 2002…

Toy Story Playland construction

Current schedules on the official website state the attraction is closed for the whole of March and April 2010, but other sources suggest it won’t reopen until as late as 31st May 2010 — a full three-months of downtime.

Details are sketchy about why it needs such a lengthy closure, though you can imagine it’s partly to ease construction of Toy Story Playland, which sits right up against the tour’s route. At the same time, these months will surely be used to do something drastic about Catastrophe Canyon, which has been in a frightening state for years. Completely blackened and lacking its ochre colour, effects often patchy, the truck itself completely washed out. Who knew it used to be red?

Refurbishments and clean-ups are probably all we can hope for besides the ongoing Playland construction, but wouldn’t it be nice if they surprised us somehow? How much would a few new props, a re-dressed Dinotopia set, an improved queue line really cost? Don’t hold your breath.

Toy Story Playland construction

Moving on…

That was no exaggeration to say the construction walls have engulfed the whole area. The path at the back of Art of Disney Animation has, at the same time, been squashed to almost half its size, providing a quite uncomfortably narrow link between Hollywood Boulevard and the back of Toon Studio:

Toy Story Playland construction

Soon enough, the view below will see not only two of the new attractions but the “giant” Buzz Lightyear figure planned to stand at the entrance of the mini-land atop building blocks.

The sandy-coloured floor of the land will also “spill out” slightly, according to concept art, but it’s a shame the path here will eventually reopen to its full size… looking pretty much a same: An unthemed “no mans land”, when there are so many possibilities for Hollywood/Toon transitions…

Toy Story Playland construction

Toy Story Playland construction

The old railings and lights along it, which ended up lasting less than 3 years, appear to be long gone as we take a peek underneath the walls. The rest of the dull old asphalt has yet to be touched. At some point, planting of that tall bamboo “grass” needs to start here and new fences put in place around the future land.

Finally, Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop has just celebrated its own version of the classic Disney park “rope drop”. Yesterday, three of the six drop arms received their parachute cables — two each, dropping from the tower — soon to hoist the large six-seater parachutes into the air:

Toy Story Playland construction

Toy Story Playland construction

Toy Story Playland construction

The cables are currently just dropping to the floor — there’s a lot of work still to be done before we see any movement and “test missions” from the Green Army Men here.

As an added “finally”, since so many people are asking… The vague official word from Disneyland Paris is that Toy Story Playland will open “late Summer 2010”. This is a slight rewording from the simple “Summer 2010” stated in brochures, the reason being that latest internal dates state an August 2010 grand opening — and no, still no exact date.

Perhaps a little disappointing given that it should be a big feature of the New Generation Festival year, and Toy Story 3 (released here in July) will already be old news in European cinemas by then. There will be a lot of people who haven’t checked the details arriving at the park from April to still find a construction site. All the more reason to visit again …or not?

Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.com

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  • Phew!

    Going the last week of August – could be one of the first to go on these rides (height limits on a 5yo apart!).

    Makes me feel slightly better that I booked before the 40% offer!!

  • Wow… if you look at the second picture, the Hollywood Hills backdrop is looking really shabby :/ I really hope they can pull off some great theming with this Playland… I’m on the verge of liking it after seeing the concept art :P

  • FunkyChopsta  4th March 2010, 22:07

    I’ve just booked from 3rd to 9th may and the lady on the phone adv me the tram tour would be closed during our stay!!

  • I just been and had a great time, the thing with DLRP is that no matter what is closed it has plenty of other things to offer.

    I dont think that any off the offer now available will match the eat for free deal which I got on my recent visit, in fact when working out the value of the offer it actually saved me (4 adults and 2 kids) 770 euros.

    I will be going back for my 10th visit next year and am looking forward to the new attractions.

  • The jury is still out with me. I want the Studios to stay looking and feeling like the Studios, not be turned into a tacky theme park. I probably won’t get there again until August myself, so hopefully will miss most of the building work.

    Unless I get too impatient of course, and manage a few days earlier midweek. I always go Tue/ Wed/ Thur but now the Eurostar does not run on Tuesday term time, it’s not so easy. Thanks for the great info here.

  • Freddiesdad  5th March 2010, 12:46

    I found the Tram tour disappointing when I went last year; going next Monday for 3 days with wife and very excited son. Sad that Casey Jnr is going to be shut, but I have got him sold on Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast and Orbitron instead.

  • Isn’t this also the perfect timing for repositioning the entrance of the Studio Tram Tour to behind for let’s say 100meter? That’s what we are saying and hoping since the end of 2005.

    Now this area is being stuffed full of attractions and there is just to less open space and a nice place to relax (exept the Tower of Terror area).

    And what about a lake in de Disney Studios??? Rumers are getting stronger and it should come in the center of the park, the place behind the place where now the entrance of the studio tram tour can be found…

    All these thing does make you smile, right?

  • Hi

    I have also had it reported to me that Studio Tram Tour will be closed for:
    Studio Tram Tour – Behind the Magic: Closed 1 March-29 May 2010

  • When we last went on the Studio Tram Tour in August 09, the water, fire + truck falling effects failed to work in Catastrophe Canyon!

  • Randy (ex CM)  6th March 2010, 23:42

    I commented on another issue earlier, but reading this article it reminds me that I really desire an improvement of Tram Tour and Armageddon. Especially in Armageddon it’s the cast inside the mainshow who can make a difference. If you are in the show, but don’t know what you’re about to see (simply cause you weren’t paying attention in the boring mainly french spoken pre-show), you really need funny Cast Members in the mainshow to know where to look.

    My team in 2002 were “acting” on the voice of Colonel Andropov, walking around the show towards the spots where the effects were shown. It helps the spectators to see the SFX. Instead of seeing 2 effects and the flame, you see 10 effects, an open corridor where we almost flew into space and 3 flames. The people were thinking 2 things: 1) I’ve seen some cool effects, nice show 2) These guys are crazy, the do bring some magic into this attraction.

    There is room for improvement if you look at the current cast in both parks!

  • tram tour was closed from 28.02.10 due 2 bad weather

  • Boris Platt  9th March 2010, 12:54

    Now I am truly upset. When I last went to DLP, Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was “Closed for your future enjoyment”, so really frustrated that then meant an increase in the queues for other rides such as Thunder Mountain (so didn’t get to go on that one either).

    I had booked with Short Breaks from here in the UK, and at the time of booking the official Disney site stated Summer 2010. Being optimistic, I am travelling mid-Summer and will subsequently miss the opening of the Toy Story Land that was being heavily featured as part of the next gen promotion.

    With the launch of the Alice in Wonderland movie, i was expecting improvements to the attractions relative to that, but still the same, lame maze.

    So, what’s actually new for me to see in the 4 years since i went last? No doubt by the time i go, thunder mountain will be closed for my future enjoyment too!

  • I say that a lengthy refurbishment on Tram Tour is undeniably needed. Even though it`s closure makes it miss out the Easter crowds, it`s projected late May date is just in time before summer start, which is the most crowded season of the year.

    IMO, the whole intrusion thing isn`t exactly a huge deal. Once the spring arrives and the leafs bloom out of the trees, it`ll hide the newer attractions alot more. Second, it`s not like many will really stare at that direction anyway since the whole moment on the top of BTM`s lift hill lasts like three seconds. Third, why would it be so much more intrusive? There`s a large pink castle and a blue sphere perfectly visible (and even more intrusive?) to the left for crying out loud!

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