Osvaldo - Festival Halloween Disney

DISNEY’S HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL WILL BE FILLED WITH SURPRISES

The fall is just beginning and Disney’s Halloween Festival is fast approaching. We asked Disneyland Paris Producer Osvaldo del Mistero to tell us more about this much-anticipated seasonal event.

You probably remember Osvaldo del Mistero as the Disneyland Paris Ambassador in 2011-2012. Passionate about entertainment, he has been working as a Producer at Disneyland Paris since 2018 – a dream come true! In this role, he has been responsible for the Festival of Pirates and Princesses, Timon’s Matadance, Frozen 2: An Enchanted Journey, and the iconic Disney’s Halloween Festival.

“What I love about Halloween is that it’s a celebration. The Fall is just beginning and there are still a lot of sunny days ahead of us to have fun. The colors of this season are very warm and have such an immersive quality. As soon as you step into Disneyland Park, you can immediately notice the change. It’s a unique opportunity to rediscover the park under a different light,” said Osvaldo.

A CLASSIC AT DISNEYLAND PARIS

Particularly fond of Halloween, Osvaldo made a point to reconnect with all the ingredients that made guests fall in love with this special season year after year, starting with decorations prominently featured on Main Street, U.S.A., and in Frontierland. “As of September 26, our guests will be able to see the park as they love it during Halloween, adorned with pumpkins, floral decorations, and lights up on every building.”

As Osvaldo likes to point out, one of the unique aspects of Halloween at Disneyland Paris is the wide variety of inspirations and experiences. “Our Halloween Festival is like a patchwork. It’s obviously in reference to the Anglo-Saxon festival, but we also definitely wanted to add a Disney touch. For instance, when strolling down Main Street, U.S.A., ghosts can be seen along the street and in buildings. They represent inhabitants of times past who come back to visit the park as ghosts – iconic characters like the mayor, the ice cream man or the three Barbershop singers. In Frontierland, the theme is meant to recall Fall. The pumpkin men are our mascots this season, and Fuente del Oro Restaurante pays homage to Mexican culture and the Disney Pixar movie Coco. Depending on where you are in the park, Halloween is celebrated in a different way.”

A CHALLENGE FOR THE IMAGINATION

This Halloween season is a bit special as Disneyland Paris teams had to show creativity and flexibility to adjust to the current context. “As soon as Disneyland Paris reopened, we innovated and changed our approach to entertainment. This also applies to this festival, which was adjusted in keeping with the current health and safety situation.”

Among the highlights of Disney’s Halloween Festival are special meet and greets with Disney characters. Disneyland Paris teams used their imagination for character appearances that respect physical distancing. That is how “Selfie Spots” successfully launched after the reopening of the resort. Osvaldo and his team had fun rethinking and turning them into a Halloween experience. “As of September 26, we will welcome a large number of Disney characters, including Mickey and friends, in their most iconic Halloween outfits. Disney Villains will also be featured, notably the Queen of Hearts and the terrifying Jafar. Next to Sleeping Beauty Castle, you might run into Maleficent or Ursula. And that’s not all! Starting October 1, at Studio Theater in Walt Disney Studios Park, Disney Villains await your visit for exclusive selfie opportunities. Throughout the day, up to 8 Disney Villains will be present for the very first time. Our guests will have the opportunity to meet in the same location several Disney characters, some of which only come out for Halloween. It’s truly a unique opportunity!”

For creative people, constraints challenge the imagination, and the health and safety conditions prompted Osvaldo and his team to explore all possibilities so that the show could go on. This notably applies to Meet Mickey Mouse, which is a major Selfie Spot location this season. “The beautiful stage located in the standby line wasn’t used to its full potential, so we tried to use it differently. We’re using it as a character meet and greet with Mickey and Friends, and the set fully reflects the theme of this season. In the same way, at Studio Theater, we realized that we could create a particularly immersive Selfie Spot experience.”

FANTASTIC ATMOSPHERE

Disneyland Paris teams have used all their talent to bring these stages to life, where art and technology cleverly intertwine. “At Meet Mickey Mouse, we decided to focus on a traditional version of Halloween, with orange and pumpkin tones which perfectly complement our storytelling. Costumes are also very important. They immerse guests in the spirit of Halloween.”

At Studio Theater, the atmosphere is very different as Disney Villains take to the stage. “We found great music to go along with this encounter, the lighting of the room was changed, screens and projections were added. When we thought about staging, we wanted to play with the frightening feeling conjured up by Disney Villains, while making sure that it would not be deterring either. We were looking to do something colorful and happy, even with experiences that are meant to be somewhat scary. The result is a successful mix between darkness and light, which perfectly characterizes Disney Villains.”

SURPRISE, SURPRISE!

In 2020, Disney’s Halloween Festival will offer a new experience based on the unexpected.

“When thinking about Halloween, we tend to think about children wearing costumes and going from door to door to collect candies. There’s a very fun “hide and seek” element in this tradition, and we thought that we could develop this idea and make it entertaining for our guests. So, we imagined that the day could unfold with many surprises along the way.”

This thought certainly appealed to Disney Villains like Ursula or Maleficent who do not like to be told what to do. They decided to join the fun, on the condition that it be on their own schedule! “Our guests have to be ready for anything and everything to happen—Disney Villains may appear at any given time, anywhere. We had so much fun playing with this and creating an even more interactive experience than in previous years.” This year’s Halloween Festival promises to be quite special. “There’s such a traditional side to Christmas, with very specific traditions. Halloween is a lot more flexible. We get to work on new and fun things, which enables us to expand our creativity. It’s so great to be able to come up with new experiences. From Selfie Spots to exclusive products with our Food and Beverage partners, Disneyland Paris offers a 360-degree experience. Everything is made to immerse our guests in the spirit of Halloween. Now, we’re just waiting for you!”

Nicolas

Interview with Nicolas Cueff, Cosmetology Designer

Makeup designs are instrumental when creating the magic of shows and parades at Disneyland Paris. Cosmetology designer Nicolas Cueff tells us about his job and work on Disney’s Halloween Festival.

How did you become a cosmetology designer at Disneyland Paris?

I always dreamed about working in the entertainment industry. Originally, I trained as a hairdresser and makeup artist, and then I decided to specialize as a hairstylist. At the end of my studies, one of my teachers who used to work at Disneyland Paris suggested that I apply, and I got my first contract three weeks later! It was for the 2004 Halloween season. It was very impressive, because it’s a particularly intense season for makeup artists. We had to do hair and makeup for so many performers. Some makeup designs require the use of prosthetics and very specific skills. Fortunately, I was able to rely on my team. I learned a lot during this time. I spent more than 10 years in the Cosmetology department, and I did hair and makeup for most shows and parades featured in the parks. Then, 3 years ago, our leadership team decided it would be interesting to start a department with designers specialized in hair and makeup just like costumes and sets, and that idea gave rise to the Creative Cosmetology department where I now work as a makeup, hair and wig designer. It was just two of us when we first opened the department, and now we’re a team of three. The first project I worked on as part of this new role was the Festival of Pirates and Princesses, followed by The Lion King and Jungle Festival which required a lot of makeup work.

Can you describe your job?

First, you have to create what the makeup is going to look like. Once it’s approved, you come up with a technical sheet that includes the different products to be used for each design and where they should be applied on the face to help support the work of our makeup artists in the field. We facilitate trainings so they can practice and have a full grasp of each design. This also helps us understand how long the makeup process takes. Some performers can do their own makeup. We have to train them too. After the show is officially launched, we provide support to the team of makeup artists. Makeup is not an exact science. Two different people can work on the same design and never get the same result. We just have to make sure that the original design is fully there, throughout the entire process. Finally, another part of our job is to constantly assess and order makeup products and wigs necessary for our seasons and shows.

How do you create an original makeup design?

It always starts with a piece of paper and pencils. I always carry colored pencils with me, and I usually need to put my ideas on paper first, whether it be the color palette or what it’s going to look like. Soon after, I practice on a human model as working on shapes and volumes inspires me so much. Finally, for technical sheets, I work with computer graphics designers to be as accurate and detailed as possible.

I tend to get inspired by Disney animated movies. Show directors also tell me what they want: colors, materials to create sets and more. All of this gives you an idea of what the show is going to be like. And then, I meet up with costume designers to decide the way in which makeup can become an integral part of the performers’ outfits.

How would you describe Disney’s Halloween Festival?

There are several themes. On one side, Fall, with brown, orange or pumpkin tones, and on the other side, fright, with dark colors. Ursula and her eels also make surprise appearances, which give the impression that we are in the ocean.

What are the most iconic creations in this year’s Festival?

There will be so many different surprises this season. Get ready and keep your eyes wide open! You might just see a puzzling float or animation at any given time.

To me, one of the most iconic creations I came up with a few years ago is the character we fondly call “Raven Girl.” It’s a very mysterious role, even more so as she hides in a tree. She is dressed in cold colors, like her lace hat, so we went with black and khaki green.

As the hat covers the top part of her face, the show director asked me to create an original makeup design for the lower part. I got inspired both by the float and costume and imagined roots creeping up on her chin and jaw.

This mix recalls The Forest of Enchantment: A Disney Musical, which you also worked on. How did this previous experience help you with Disney’s Halloween Festival?

The Forest of Enchantment was a great creative project which helped me develop numerous skills I still use to this day. It was the very first time I had so many makeup designs to create, on so many different themes like fauna and flora. This experience helped me create the makeup design for “Raven Girl,” as both elements can be found in this character whose body is a tree and head is a raven standing on top of this tree. Hence the idea to have the lower part of the face covered with roots while the top part, with the beak and hat, represents the animal.

You mentioned Ursula’s sidekicks who will accompany her during her surprise appearances. How did you create their makeup designs?

We looked at the colors featured in their costumes, which remind of the ocean, and we imagined a makeup with different shades of blue while playing with shadows and lights. We also took a little bit of green from Flotsam and Jetsam. Show directors often have very specific ideas about the backstory of each character. For the dancers standing next to the two eels, we really wanted guests to forget that they are human beings. This made us want to create a makeup effect that distorts the face, with asymmetrical eyes. They really feel like creatures from another world. It’s just great to have so much freedom!

What is a “Disney makeup”?

It’s really a type of makeup meant for the stage! It needs to be over-the-top! It has to be very colorful and intense as it needs to be seen from afar and fully reflect the personality of the character. It also has to be an integral part of the show and create wonder for the guests. It’s the opposite of TV shows or certain movies where makeup has to remain discreet. At Disneyland Paris, we use makeup as an art form and we are proud of it!

Disney’s Halloween Festival is also a time when our guests can come with dramatic makeup looks. What are the new trends this year?

As everyone needs to wear a mask, I would recommend focusing on the eyes! It’s always nice to have a smokey eye effect for Halloween. Black eyeliner is always very effective!

What piece of advice would you give to those who dream to do what you do?

It’s a very technical job which you have to learn both in school and in the field. It requires a great deal of patience because it takes quite some time. Each face is different and a method which works great on one person will not necessarily work on another person. In addition, fashion is ever-changing so you have to be willing to adapt constantly. And, you have to love people. You can’t “just” do makeup. When you do someone’s hair and makeup, there needs to be a bond. You have to be a good listener and provide guidance while staying in your place. The makeup artists who’ve had the most successful careers are obviously great technicians, but they are also people who have outstanding interpersonal skills. That’s also what I love about my job!

Festival Halloween Disney 3

Props serving the magic

The decoration workshop at Disneyland Paris is a little-known and yet essential service. It manufactures and repairs all the objects and accessories used during parades and shows at the resort, especially during the Disney Halloween Festival. We met Richard Vallet, props director in the workshop, who told us more about his job.

How did you become a props director at Disneyland Paris?

I started at age 17 as a stagehand at the Théâtre Clavel in Paris, then I became assistant stage manager on several other Parisian stages. I did a bit of everything: changes of scenery, lights, sound, etc. I arrived at Disneyland Paris in February 1992 as a stagehand, and very quickly, I started repairing props between two shows. Our management understood the importance of such a service, and this is how the Disneyland Paris Decoration Workshop was born in 1994.

What does your job consist of?

My work consists of making decorative objects and accessories that come out of the imagination of a Show Director or are inspired by a film, intended for shows and seasons at Disneyland Paris. Very often, these are accessories that are a bit special, a bit “toon”, a bit magical. The challenge is that the object has to be believable, yet easy to use, light and durable. But it’s not just about creation; there is also the monitoring of these objects, their maintenance and repair, which occupies us throughout the year, day and night.

What is the Decoration Workshop team comprised of?

There are almost 20 of us, plus up to 10 intermittents who join us during more intense times like Halloween. Within the team, we have a wide variety of skills. Props director is a generic title, and we have colleagues who specialize in sewing, upholstery, and even in the making and maintenance of puppets. Many of us have changed from one specialty to another, and that’s how I was able to broaden my skill set. Molding, sculpture, painting, varnishing, modeling, it is very vast. It’s great to work at Disneyland Paris because it’s a great place to learn new techniques.

What objects did you make for the Disney Halloween Festival?

There are a lot of them, but I will say in particular the props of the ghosts of Main Street, U.S.A. and the Pumpkin Men in Frontierland. Without forgetting the “Funkins”, these very different little pumpkin heads, embellished with various accessories such as hats, eyeglasses and feathers. These are items that we have made in previous seasons and that we bring out regularly to delight guests.

How many objects does this represent?

So many! It takes about a hundred “Funkins”, plus Pumpkins, and garlands, which are hundreds of meters long. In all, it must represent more than 300 different elements.

How does the production of a decorative object work?

Everything starts from the Scenographers of the Disneyland Paris design office, who translate the vision of the Show Directors in graphic form. Their designs are absolutely beautiful and give us the information we need to make the objects. When manufacturing starts, they frequently come to see us in the workshop to make sure everything is running smoothly. These visits are also moments of creation. Seeing an object built in real size in front of their eyes sometimes inspires them to make small changes that they tell us directly: a few more patinas, a color to be nuanced or something else.

What materials do you use?

All kinds of materials. Resins, very often, but also metal and fabric. For some time now, our objects have been frequently made in Plastitrogen, a very practical foam for its lightness and strength. Polystyrene or polyurethane foam can also be used. We cut foams of different densities, we glue them, we put together and we paint them. For recurring objects, we can make models with earth or Plastiline. Then, for the molding, different polyurethane resins are used. And for slightly larger objects, it will be laminated resin, fiberglass or polyester resin, with silicones for impressions, or plaster. For some time now, we have been trying to use less and less resins, favoring healthier products. We also use latex for soft objects. Wood remains a safe bet. We carry a lot of wooden crates for the Pumpkins and for the Frontierland Jack-in-the-Box. It is also used for some structures, in place of metal, as long as it is not in contact with water. It is a very practical material.

Do you work alone or in a team?

For a small accessory or a worn object, we often work alone, unless there is a need for a special skill. On a larger project, we work together, especially when there are fabrics, sculpture, or welding. Take the Pumpkin Men, for example. They first need metal structures to give them their human position, which is then dressed in sculpted parts and clothes dipped in resin. The design office wanted it to be real clothes and the original colors to be found under the resin. However, these clothes are very heavy with resin, which makes handling difficult. In addition, we had to find techniques to give them an impression of lightness, naturalness, and to ensure that the resin hardens in the right position. We therefore need 2 or even 3 props to put on these clothes and keep them in place during hardening.

How long can it take to make an item?

This ranges from a few days to 2 to 3 weeks for a small object, and up to one or two months for a large project.

What are the essential qualities of a good accessory?

We work a lot on lightness. The techniques we use are very similar to those we use in the theater, except that we must pay particular attention to the durability, solidity and lightness of our objects, because the terms of use at Disneyland Paris are very different. Here, the accessories can be used up to 5 or 6 times a day. To give you an example, until last year, Donald’s nephews’ little pitchforks were made of resin. This year, we changed the material and managed to divide the weight by ten, without affecting the strength. This means even more comfort for our Characters and therefore even more pleasure to use them!

How do the decorative elements fit into a decor?

At the Théâtre du Château, there are pumpkins of slightly different colors, with green, purple and pink, as well as turquoise brambles coming out of the granite. We have adapted the scenery from last year, especially working on the colors to give the impression of being underwater.

Is there an object that you’re particularly attached to?

I really like Mr. Jack’s dog Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas, which I made for a previous Halloween. It had posed some difficulty, as it was simply made of a sheet. It had to be as thin as possible, giving an impression of lightness, sometimes even transparency, but at the same time very solid. It took a lot of metal structures inside and a very delicate carving work had to be done for the little pumpkin-shaped nose and very thin ears, which I made out of aluminum. Zero is not at Disneyland Park this year, but it was a particularly interesting project for me.

How inspired are you by Disney films?

Depending on the project, in addition to the many design office drawings, I often refer to Disney films to see characters or objects from multiple angles. It is sometimes difficult to understand certain volumes, and seeing them animated, in situation, can be very useful.

Another part of your job is to keep track of and repair decor items.

Many parts have been there for several years and it is not uncommon for some to be damaged after a little intense use. So sometimes it is necessary to replace existing objects, make identical pumpkins, redo a patina, repair a scratch or something else. One of our last big repairs was something called the Zebulon, a kind of jack-in-the-box with a big pumpkin head located in Frontierland.

Moisture also puts a strain on metals. We have a lot of metal bases, especially under the Pumpkins, and we protect them with rust inhibitors. But with wear and tear, these treatments erode. It is then necessary to sand to remove the rust and then repaint over it. During the Disney Halloween Festival, it is not uncommon to have to intervene on site, because you cannot go through a season of more than a month without minor repairs. These are carried out at night, which requires great flexibility in terms of the schedule. We start to go around our sets and Selfie Spots, then take stock and manage emergencies. We take care of the major repairs first, to make sure everything is finished before the park opens. Then comes the more minor repairs, such as putting back leaves or flowers.

What is the installation like of the sets you have made?

Usually, it takes place over three big weeks, at night. There are 4 or 5 of us, plus a Team Leader, and we support the teams who install the various elements, such as the machinists, aerialists and rope access technicians who set up the Funkins in Main Street, U.S.A using aerial platforms. Last-minute touchups are also carried out in the event of any damage during transport and assembly.

We are also working with the Visual Identity department, which is in charge of the window decorations, and with the Shows department for lights, especially in the Mexican part of Frontierland, dedicated to Coco, where there are a lot of lanterns.

This year, the Disney Halloween Festival is particularly rich in decorations.

Indeed, we did not skimp on the decorations. There are a lot more elements this year. It’s even more immersive!

Richard, thank you for sharing your job and your passion with us!

We put all of our heart into our achievements. Every detail counts, even the smallest. We will rework an object until it is perfect. What we are looking for above all is that our visitors are amazed, that they are happy. This is our motivation and our reward.

Festival Halloween Disney 5

Scenographers Jérôme Picoche and Thomas Gallou Talk Disney’s Halloween Festival

During Disney’s Halloween Festival, Disneyland Paris is transformed into a playground for spirits and ghosts thanks to the fabulous decorations imagined by our Scenographers. But how do they go about immersing guests in the spirit of the party? Jérôme and Thomas reveal some of their secrets.

What does a scenographer at Disneyland Paris do?

Thomas Gallou: A bit like a theater or cinema designer, our job is to create sets for shows and parades at Disneyland Paris. But in addition, in the word “scenography” there is the idea of ​​design. It is, literally, “writing a scene.” We rely on the work of the Director to create a space that will accompany the concept he has imagined. There is therefore a whole phase of reflection to determine how the experience is going to be structured. It’s really about dealing with space.

What does the Halloween season mean to you?

Jérôme Picoche: Halloween is always a very busy time of the year. It’s a period that I know well. Since 1997, when we launched the Festival, this is my 23rd edition! Over time, the approach can change, but the decoration remains an essential part of this celebration. Each year, our guests impatiently await this season’s return to immerse themselves in this very special spirit and to discover the novelties that we have in store for them.

It is indeed a pleasure to find the traditional decorations at Main Street, U.S.A. and Frontierland.

JP: From the moment they arrive on Main Street, U.S.A., guests are immersed in the Halloween atmosphere. We transform the street as if ghosts took over, with all kinds of characters and floral and plant elements linked to autumn. The decoration tells a very special story, which can be found in the Victorian-inspired costumes of our ghosts that fits perfectly into the aesthetic of the place.

TG: In Frontierland, in addition to the pumpkin men, we find that Mexican atmosphere inspired by the movie Coco that we imagined in 2017. The people in charge of the season wanted to add a new story, and I was given carte blanche to imagine a decor that accompanies the release of the film while being part of the universe of Frontierland. We already had a typical Halloween area near Phantom Manor, and we wanted to develop something different in an area that was less used on this occasion. Fuente del Oro Restaurante’s Mexican theme corresponded exactly to that of the movie. So, I immersed myself in the spirit of Mexican holidays, and I developed a whole set from a story that I imagined which allowed me to connect all the elements together. From there came the alebrijes, those fantastic creatures typical of Mexican folklore, and those scarecrows that line the alley. This work was accompanied by a reflection on the way in which Frontierland was built, particularly in terms of the materials used to integrate our décor as well as possible. Hence this very artisanal side, in a papier-mâché style.

How did you imagine these alebrijes, most of which are unique to Disneyland Paris?

TG: When we decided to create this Mexican story, the film wasn’t finished yet. We were just aware of its theme. We worked with Pixar so that our stories could fit together, while still having some leeway. When the movie came out, our worlds crossed, and we realized that our research had gone in the same direction. From there, we decided with Pixar to focus on the film more precisely, including Dante’s alebrije and the “papel picado” garlands, as seen in the opening credits.

This season is particularly rich in decorations.

JP: Indeed, overall this year there are more than usual, especially on the Cottonwood Creek Ranch side that we haven’t been able to use for some time.

How have the decorations evolved, such as at the Théâtre du Château with Ursula?

JP: It all started last year, for the show “Attention … Méchants!”. There was a part of the scene dedicated to Ursula in her shell, and all kinds of Villains on the other side. This year, to accommodate the furtive appearances of Ursula, I had the different decor elements such as brambles reprocessed in bluish tones to create a kind of cross between the aquatic world and Halloween. The ground has also been treated as paving, which makes the Théâtre du Château a sort of terrace for the Sleeping Beauty Castle. Finally, we had the possibility of animating the magic mirror thanks to the integration of an LED screen which will give more life and presence to this essential element of the decoration.

What can you tell us about the new Halloween-style Selfie Spot of Meet Mickey Mouse?

JP: For this meeting with Mickey and his friends in Halloween costumes, we imagined a mix between a somewhat nocturnal, strange atmosphere, and more joyful colors that can be found especially in the decor behind the Characters. We took the approach of the party from a family- friendly angle.

How about the Selfie Spot at Studio Theater with Disney Villains?

TG: Whoever says “Halloween” says “Disney Villains.” It was the perfect opportunity to see them reunited. In the beginning, we started with the idea of ​​a mirror, like that of the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and we worked on the gloomy and mysterious side of its reflections. We have combined this with a happy atmosphere by adding some pop colors, which will underline the festive side of Halloween.

The challenge was to find graphic elements that suited several Villains at the same time, without the colors of one or the other dominating. Each of them has a very strong character. It should not create jealousy!

Thomas, before coming to Disneyland Paris, you created the sets for several escape games. How has this experience been useful to you in designing immersive sets like this?

TG: The principle of an escape game is to find yourself immersed in a universe and take part in a story by solving puzzles. It’s very close to what we do at Disneyland Paris. We have all kinds of stories inspired in particular by Disney films, on which we will graft a new story or which we will treat from a different angle. There are all kinds of immersion techniques available to do this, and it is all the easier here since we are in a closed place. Studio Theater is a state-of-the-art stage that has all kinds of technical tools – floor projections, side projections, LED screens – to create an experience. It takes a great deal of collaboration with the animation, lighting, special effects and music teams to bring this backdrop to life. Everything is done so that guests find themselves immersed.

How do you create sets like this?

TG: Each project is different, and there are as many methods as there are personalities, both among the Directors and the Scenographers. But what doesn’t change is the fact that we all come together around a strong idea. It can be a graphic idea or a staging idea, music, light or whatever, and all the other elements of the show will revolve around it. Our job is to take that idea, interpret it in terms of space, and make it real. During the design, we can go in different directions, but everything converges to the same result. The Director is in a way the captain of a ship and we’re the sails. It’s real teamwork, which also involves musicians, lights and technical teams.

JP: As Thomas says, everything starts with a strong idea. Take the dragon which is in La Coeur du Château. This is purely a decorative idea, born from the encounter between the universe of Fantasyland and that of the film. It is as if the brambles found in the story of Sleeping Beauty have invaded the courtyard taking the form of a dragon. This idea of ​​metamorphosis is at the heart of Halloween at Disneyland Paris, like the pumpkins transforming into pumpkin-men and the mirror of the Théâtre du Château coming to life before our eyes.

How do you bring those ideas to life from there?

TG: Within the team of scenographers, everyone has their own method, which is based on their background and their strengths. Me, I have a geek, nerd side, from my video game culture. I first do a lot of research, sketches with a graphic palette, or collage or montage. It all depends on the themes. For Coco, I did color sketches on large sheets. I can do 15 or 20 tries before I get to the final drawing.

JP: A good sketch can give you all the information and emotions you need. Then I move on to the model. This is an essential step, which comes to us from the world of theater. The one for the Théâtre du Château that I made last year was simply made of cardboard. There are obviously a lot of technological advancements that make it possible to model a setting, but what matters is the idea.

TG: 3D is just a tool. As well as gouache, watercolor or Photoshop. We continue to make working models, blank models. Not so long ago, we made them out of featherboard with different pastes. Today, you can also make set models using a 3D printer. Between the hand of the model maker and the printer, the finish will be different, but the result will be similar. It all depends on what you are looking for. 3D can be particularly interesting for parade floats, as it will allow technical departments to visualize the whole float, including its internal structure.

This indeed makes it possible to consider the integration of technology.

JP: Absolutely. This is essential. Sometimes it is not easy to integrate the elements of machinery into a setting. The Théâtre du Château has many technical elements, including bubble machines and lots of lights. However, this is not a closed theater. We can see it in 360-degree perspective. It is therefore necessary to find locations and means to camouflage all of this as best as possible.

How do the seasonal decorations fit into the aesthetics of the lands that welcome them?

JP: At Disneyland Paris, depending on the land, there are different degrees of finish. Halloween decoration is truly emblematic of this diversity of styles and approaches. It’s very interesting. In Frontierland, we can stay a little rough. It’s the world of cowboys, nature, wood, with pumpkins and other elements that have an artisanal, even rough look. While on Main Street, U.S.A. or Fantasyland, we have very advanced levels of finish, with very elaborate objects. The pumpkins found in Central Plaza or Town Square have very specific sanding and varnish to match the spirit of the place.

Where and how are these decorative elements constructed?

JP: At the Disneyland Paris Decoration Workshop, we make accessories or modify decorative elements, but these are made in outside workshops. For Halloween, we work a lot with French companies, but also with Holland, Germany, and Italy.

Once the sets are built and stored, they must be installed. How does this decisive step go?

TG: Part of our job is to keep track of the sets throughout the installation period. Especially for Halloween and Christmas, it’s quite short. So we have to work at night. You have to ensure that these sets are correctly put in place because there are always last-minute adjustments. We have to check that they don’t interfere with guest flow, a queue or anything else, and we are there to correct if necessary. Our in-house decorators are also there to give a bit of paint on a scratch or to make repairs in case an item was damaged during transport. These are magical moments, because it is there, in place, that our sets come to life!

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Disney PhotoPass Team – “We Capture Dream and Happiness”

For this Halloween season, new Magics Shots have appeared in our Parks. In order to capture these magical moments, our team of photographers have brilliantly adapted to this new offer. Misaël Leclercq, Manager of the Photographer team, reveals what goes on behind-the-scenes of this new experience.

Can you explain to us what is the role of the photography team in the parks?

First of all, you should know that when the Park opened in 1992, this team did not exist. It is only from July 15, 1995 that the Merchandise division was enriched with the arrival of 3 photographers, whose role was notably to immortalize the magical encounters between Disney Characters and guests. Over the following years, this team has continued to grow. In January 2018, the photography teams transitioned to the Entertainment division and grew even more from there.

Today, the team gathers between 80 and 120 photographers depending on the season, and our goal is to capture the memories of our guests. Our slogan is “We Capture Dreams and Happiness.” I am lucky to be surrounded by a talented team of photographers with various specialties such as sports, studios, wildlife and more. This allows us to be an all-terrain team and to be present in parks, but also in hotels and on events.

What is special about this team?

What we do at Disneyland Paris and in our other Disney parks exists almost nowhere else. The photos we take must be successful and of quality because they are directly transferred to the PhotoPass of our guests. Also, as our team is composed of many different talents, it also allows us to learn from each other. To give you a concrete example, Tina Malfilatre, who specializes in animal photography, has offered training to the other photographers of the team to share her know-how and help them acquire new skills. On a daily basis the photographers mainly take portrait photos, but with the arrival of events such as runDisney, a special training course was set up because taking a picture of a runner in motion has nothing to do with a photo of a guest posing next to his favorite character. Sharing know-how is therefore essential, and this is where knowledge like Tina’s can enrich the team’s skills.

How did you set up the new Magic Shots?

For the first season of The Lion King and the Jungle Festival, one of our photographers, Bart Mertens, offered us the opportunity to test the Magic Shots. This service is already available in Disney Parks in the U.S. and has been a great success. Magic Shots consist of interacting virtually with some of your favorite characters, and it is also possible to add exclusive Disney content to Disney PhotoPass photos: a magical souvenir guaranteed!

After this conclusive test, we realized a real teamwork between Entertainment, Walt Disney Imagineering, our U.S. counterparts, and of course the Imaging teams of the Merchandise division played a decisive role in the implementation of Magic Shots. This created a special bond between our different teams.

In order to best meet the demand, we studied the locations where guests took the most pictures, then worked with Imagineering to tell a different story for each Magic Shot. So we are now present in iconic places such as Central Plaza and in front of the Walt Disney and Mickey statue at the exit of Studio 1 in Walt Disney Studios Park.

This brand new service has been a real challenge for our team, but we adapted well and already received 70 compliments from guests since the reopening in July.

How did you adapt to Selfie Spots?

We were able to start work on Selfie Spots well before the reopening, thanks to the commitment of Cast Members such as Ombeline Chio, who contacted me during the confinement to volunteer. I was thus able to set up a small team to work on adapting the role of the photographers with the arrival of Selfie Spots.

We thought about the best way to respect the health and safety measures while offering an unforgettable souvenir to our guests, for example at Starport where we used elements of scenery to maintain a safe distance between Darth Vader, the guests and the photographer.

Présidente of Disneyland Paris Natacha Rafalski visited the Photographers teams on September 29th.

Now we are going further to be able to systematically load photos of Disney Characters on each PhotoPass so that despite the context, our guests will leave with their selfies and nice souvenir photos of Disney Characters, taken by our photographers.

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2020 TEA Masters announced: congratulations to Imagineer Tracy Eck!

The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) – the global, nonprofit membership association for the creators of compelling places and experiences – has announced the slate of TEA Masters honorees for 2020. The TEA Masters program celebrates masters of their craft in the global visitor attractions industry.

Congratulations to Disneyland Paris Imagineer Tracy Eck, for being honored as a TEA Master in Art Direction, Show and Design Quality

Tracy Eck is a native of Chicago, where she started her early career in theatre after receiving an MFA in Theatre Design at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Inspired by French theatre and culture, she moved to Paris in the late ‘80s, where she worked as a freelance lighting designer. Tracy started her career in themed entertainment in 1990, when she was hired as a show lighting designer with the team of Imagineers for the Disneyland Paris project. She quickly became an essential part of that park and was one of a small group of Imagineers to join the Design and Show Quality team after opening, to continue to train the maintenance staff in the upkeep of the park and to design new projects.

Tracy shifted back as a lead lighting designer for the development and installation of the Paris second gate, the Walt Disney Studios Park; and when that project was complete, she returned to her role with Design and Show Quality where she continued to work on numerous refurbishments as well as new projects.

Tracy continued to learn and grow as a designer and earned a promotion to lead Art Direction for the Disneyland Paris portfolio. After 29 years in the themed entertainment world, Tracy is at the top of her craft in art direction. She has managed many complex projects from concept through completion. She remains an essential part of the DLP team where she has mentored many young designers over many years.

Tracy Eck excels in art direction and as lighting designer, and has been a key player on many themed entertainment projects, including rides, restaurants, retail spaces, area development, and major icons. She sets the highest standards for herself to accomplish a quality product that will delight Disney guests; and she inspires other members of the team by her example. Tracy is an excellent team player, and brings her highly developed training in storytelling and the theatrical collaborative arts to every project. She has a skilled designer’s eye and a healthy imagination that adds value to every project she touches, and is a true inspiration to the young designers placed under her wing.

She has taken on major refurbishment plans at iconic attractions such as “it’s a small world” at Disneyland Paris. Over many years, she has encouraged and inspired new products working with many European and US manufacturers. Tracy Eck is a star of our industry in Europe. She is a driving force behind the excellence of Disneyland Paris… and she’s a role model of a successful individual in our industry living their true dream.

Source: TEA