Showing posts with label Operating Participants. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Operating Participants. Show all posts

Village People and Places

Nearly everything at Disneyland Resort Paris is within walking distance, and connecting the parks with the resorts and the rail station is Disney Village. This shopping, dining and entertainment complex was designed by noted architect Frank Gehry and originally opened as Festival Disney, but the area was renamed in 1996 to give it more appeal as a gathering spot for Guests after a day in the theme parks.

Similar to the Downtown Disney districts at other Disney resorts, Disney Village features a mix of Disney-branded locations with operating participants such as Starbucks, McDonald's and Earl of Sandwich.

There are also several themed dining establishments such as Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood and the Bavarian-inspired King Ludwig's Castle.

You can also catch a movie at Disney Village, at the 15 screen Gaumont Cinema (avec Imax). While we didn't spend valuable time in Paris watching American movies, I did find it very entertaining to see how certain releases had been retitled for ease of translation overseas. Perhaps there's not a word in French for "hangover?"

The bit of construction you see to the right of the cinema in the above photo is the future home of Paris's own World of Disney, set to open in 2012. For now, Guests can get their Disneyland Paris souvenir fix at the Disney Store and several other character shops along the avenue.

Inside the Disney Store are large character vignettes, much like those found in the mall-based Disney Stores of the '90s. Here, you'll see the characters visiting Disneyland Resort Paris landmarks, such as Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant or Walt Disney Studios Park.

You'll also find a veritable cornucopia of Disney character stars floating and flying above the center of the massive store. There's Launchpad McQuack, Kit Cloudkicker and Baloo the bear from TaleSpin, along with my favorite, Professor Ludwig Von Drake, piloting a hot air balloon.

Many of the establishments at Disney Village have changed over the years, but one of the originals is still among the best. Annette's Diner, named in tribute to everyone's favorite Mouseketeer, is a simple pleasure. It's a throwback to another era, with burgers and shakes, carhops, Googie architecture and fun music.

Annette's isn't the only thing that remains from Day One at Disney Village. Here and there around the resort, you'll also occasionally come across something like this: One of the few vestiges of the original name of Disneyland Resort Paris, Euro Disney.

Way down at the other end of Disney Village is a relative newcomer on the scene, Panoramagique. This tethered balloon attraction (operated by the same company that runs Characters in Flight at Walt Disney World) takes off from a setting that looks like it would be right at home between Main Street and Discoveryland. That's appropriate, I suppose, since you can sometimes see the balloon from those areas of the park.

What's great about Panoramagique, though, is the view you get from the balloon itself. It's a spectacular panorama of Disney Village, Lake Disney and the parks and resort areas of Disneyland Paris. Check it out for yourself in the video below from DLRP Magic.

The '50s Are the Most!

The clusters of lodging buildings at Disney's Pop Century Resort are each dedicated to a decade from the latter half of the 20th century... and some of the pop culture icons of that era. Consistent among the buildings are slang phrases popular at the time and large figures posed to represent a dance from that decade. Here in the '50s, you'll find the Jitterbug, the Lindy and the Twist, along with expressions like "Cool," "Dreamy" and "Way out!"

The balcony railings are also decorated with musical memories of the '50s, in the form of transistor radios and 45 rpm records (that decade's equivalent of today's 99¢ iTunes download). The song titles are made up, but reflect other timely trends: "The Goldfish Gulp," "Penny Loafer Love" and "Sputnik Spin." Two of my favorites are "Alaska If She'd Like to be the 49th State" and "Hawaii? I'm Fine! (50th State Hula)," references to the fact that both states joined the union during the 1950s.

The stairwells on the end of each building in this cluster are encased in giant, 65-foot-tall bowling pins - officially sponsored by Brunswick, a rare example of participant branding in a resort. Looking around, you'll find nine of these pins standing. The tenth has "fallen" to form the pool. Around the pool are other details supporting the story of ten-pin bowling's popularity in the '50s, from the lane markers to the laundry facility disguised as a rack of rented bowling shoes.

The giant jukebox at the end of the bowling pin pool speaks to other major trends like sock hops, malt shops and rock 'n' roll. There are lots more fun song titles to be found here, especially if you're willing to take the time to walk around the entire jukebox and read all the tags. There's "Drag Race Daredevil Danny," "The Wallflower Blues," "Poodle Skirt Parade" and "The Tiki Torch Tango."

You'll even find a few Hidden Disney references, including the fabricated "I've Got a Date at Disneyland" and the very real hit songs "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" and "Mickey Mouse Club March."

There's one element of Disney, though, that's not hidden at all. In fact, you can't miss the tribute to Lady and the Tramp, Disney's animated feature which debuted in theaters in 1955. At one side of the courtyard is Lady, shy and demure. On the other side of the tracks is the Tramp, all tall, proud and sure of himself. You can almost hear him calling, "Come on, Pidg'!"

My favorite detail in this vignette is one that's often overlooked. It's a small engineering building which anywhere else would be simply painted "go away" green and surrounded by tall shrubs. Here, though, it's part of the show, dressed as Lady's doghouse out in the yard.

Main St. Motors

For all the familiar places on Main Street, U.S.A., one spot that is completely unique to Disneyland Paris is Main St. Motors. Situated on the corner of Main and Market Streets, Main St. Motors is the town's first car dealer and service garage, and they know their audience. The building is easily one of the more masculine on the street, with elements inspired by automobiles. Notice the spoked-wheel design in the marquee and the clock, as well as the finial high above the entrance, carved in the shape of a hood ornament.

Signs adorning the dealership encourage passersby to "Drive into the 20th Century" with "The Safest, Fastest & Finest Cars in America." The banner across the clock says it's "Time to Trade In." Of course, they'll take your early Model A or Model T Ford in exchange for a newer model, but the folks at Main St. Motors will also happily accept horses in trade from those ready to give up the carriage and go horseless!

For those who have already purchased a motorcar, Main St. Motors also supplies gasoline to keep you going. When the park opened, the medallion atop the fuel tank read "Esso," the international brand name used by ExxonMobile, an early Disneyland Paris operating participant.

When it opened in 1992, Main St. Motors also carried a unique selection of merchandise, including toy cars, vintage license plates, automobile posters... and actual early-1900s model automobiles! There were originally three cars on display (1907 Model C High Wheeler, 1908 "Gentleman's Roadster" and 1911 Oakland Model 33 touring sedan), along with a 1911 Excelsior Model G Auto Cycle motorcycle. With modern-day prices in the neighborhood of $100,000, the cars never sold, rendering Main St. Motors more attraction than shop. You can see some great images of that version of Main St. Motors over at the Designing Disney blog.

After a few years, most of the cars (along with detailed, prop-filled areas representing a garage and service office) were removed in favor of more space for traditional, revenue-generating items. One of the antique cars remains, though. The 1911 Oakland in the front window of the shop recalls those earlier, ambitious days.

Several of the vintage props are still around, too. They've just been shifted into vignettes above the fixtures and in the corners. Look for a sign advertising Excelsior Auto Cycles, old horns and headlamps, oil cans, spark plugs, a leather tool bag and an antique tire changer. While you're looking up, you may also notice the wheel pattern in the punched tin ceiling.

Paintings on the fixtures imply other areas of the shop and showroom which we may not be able to visit, like the garage depicted below:

Whatever your business here at Main St. Motors - purchasing a car, filling up with gas, getting an engine serviced or buying a Tinker Bell T-shirt - be sure to stop at the Service Desk to settle up before getting back on your way. See you next time. Until then... Happy Motoring!

Main Street Transportation Co.

The railroad brings passengers and freight to and from the town of Main Street, U.S.A., but there are plenty of comings and goings happening right within town as well. After all, Main Street tells the story of an era of progress, where horse-drawn streetcars are being replaced by horseless carriages. Here at Disneyland Paris, both are offered (at least according to the guide map, although I did not see any horse-drawn streetcars in use during my visit).

The Main Street Transportation Co. on Town Square is the hub of the motoring activity in the park. The vehicles here are presented by Hertz, which features into several period advertisements around the square.

Prominent among the fleet is the Omnibus, a double-decker which has its roots in Bob Gurr's designs for Disneyland back in the 1950s. All the Omnibuses in Disney Parks feature ads on the side, typically for attractions in other lands. Here, the ads serve to further support the story of Main Street, promoting actual businesses one can find in the town.

City Vehicle Stops on the Town Square and the Central Plaza let visitors know where to pick up a ride to the other end of the street. Of course, why anyone would voluntarily ride in the back of a Main St. Police Paddy Wagon is beyond me. Although, in the world of the theme park, it is kind of fun to play the "bad guys!"

The Paddy Wagon is unique to Disneyland Paris, as is the Limousine. Guests may choose to "Arrive in Style" in this luxuriously appointed reproduction antique vehicle.

The fourth element of the Main Street fleet is the Fire Truck. During my visit, the Fire Truck wasn't operating, but I did enjoy the sign at the City Vehicle Stop letting me know. It states, "Service Momentarily Suspended" and includes an image of a vehicle's wheel base completely missing its body.

Not all the vehicles that appear on Main Street at Disneyland Paris are for guest transportation. Some, like this delivery truck, remain permanently parked, serving up ice cold Coca-Cola and a great photo opportunity.

If transportation is your goal, though, the vehicles of the Main Street Transportation Co. may be just the ticket to get you from the railroad station to Central Plaza and back again.