THE battle cry “to infinity and beyond” will be ringing out again this year as a new version of Walt Disney Pictures’ Toy Story hits the big screen.
And as Buzz Lightyear heads for the stars on a new mission, Disney itself has some stars of a different kind to show off at its Disneyland Paris resort.
They are part of the New Generation Festival which sees a host of film characters transferring from the big screen to real life to take part in fantastic shows and parades in the park.
Buzz, for example, and his cowboy pal Woody will now be familiar faces on the French version of Main Street, USA.
And they are certainly not alone. Loveable rats Remy and his portly pal Emile from Ratatouille have been brought to life in France, along with Stitch, Sulley from Monsters Inc and some of the Incredibles.
To date they have only existed in the animated films but now the newest generation of characters are live and active and helping out the Disney stalwarts of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy and Daisy Duck at the Paris theme park.
If you visit the park be sure not miss the new Stars ‘n’ Cars cavalcade held each day in the Walt Disney Studios Park which – amongst others – features the two rodents in a 1950s Studebaker packed with giant steaming cooking pots and pans which look likely to boil over at any time.
Adding glamour to the proceedings is Princess Tiana, Disney’s first African-American princes from the Princess and the Frog, who now wows the audiences with her spectacular dance routine in the Disney showtime spectacular on the Central Plaza Stage.
Wearing a dress made of some 20 metres of crystal fabric and studded with rhinestones she puts many a Strictly Come Dancing contestant to shame.
The showtime spectacular is an all-singing, all-dancing show which features the best of Disney and I defy anyone not to get caught up in the foot tapping atmosphere.
Mickey disappears two or three times in a cleverly orchestrated smoke screen and re-appears in a new outfit – and without doubt he’s still the star of the show.
The New Generation Festival will run through until next March – but it’s not the only thing that’s new this year, as I found out when I spent a couple of days at Disneyland Paris.
Disney has been investing heavily in the park and by the summer there will be a whole new section – Toy Story Playland.
Playland had been due to open this month but the bad weather meant construction work fell behind schedule – disappointing a lot of young fans.
When it opens in a few months time it will take over an entire street in the Studios and be the biggest thing since the park launched its massively successful Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
I strolled through the area where, above the blue privacy fencing, you can see the new project taking shape.
There will be three major attractions, and the most obvious one – because of its height – is the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, which will simulate a dive from the sky with Andy’s Green Army. Next door is Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin, a whimsical coaster attraction designed to appeal to all ages.
Finally there is RC Racer, a car ride which features an exhilarating 25-meter half pipe on a U-shaped race circuit.
So if your children want to meet the new characters they have fallen in love with on screen or you just fancy returning to your own childhood to try out the new rides head for Disneyland Paris this summer.
The magic still exists.
For information about a family break to Disneyland Paris, call direct on 08448 008 111 or visit www.disneylandparis.com
Prices for a two-night three-day package including park tickets at Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe in April 2010 start from £234 per adult and £110 per child (aged 7-11yrs). Children under seven years old stay and play for free during the New Generation Festival (until 8th November 2010).
The price includes accommodation with continental breakfast and three day hopper tickets for the Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park.