If 2016 was the year best summed up by the word ‘change’, then 2017 is very much a year in which Disneyland Paris has come of age. The resort has grown over the course of the last 12 months in ways that will have seemed far-fetched just 12 months ago. It has been a year in which major events have taken place both within the park and at company level. As we leave 2017, it is time to reflect on another amazing year for Disneyland Paris but a time to head into 2018 with a sparkle in our eyes as we look forward to what is to come.
Let’s reflect on 2017 now month-by-month and see how Disneyland Paris has grown into something new.
As the 2016/17 Christmas season came to an end, all eyes turned to the Walt Disney Studios park which would, for the very first time, host an entire seasonal celebration by itself. Season of the Force aimed to break the deadlock of what has traditionally been a silent season for the resort. The season featured a brand new projection show on The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror which took place nightly; Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration was an instant hit and blended project mapping, pyrotechnics and a stage show. This was joined by Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far, Away and the First Order March.
Whilst Season of the Force would continue up until the 26th March 2017, February was a month in which Disneyland Paris celebrated a landmark moment in its history. The 1987 convention was signed 30 years ago and to celebrate, Disneyland Paris was joined by the then-president of France François Hollande in order to launch their 25 ans de contribution économique et sociale report. The report detailed how Disneyland Paris has affected both the local, French and European economy over the 25 years of its existence. The event kick started the 25th anniversary celebrations in a way that added some gravity to the celebrations – whilst we, as fans, may celebrate the existence of the resort, Disneyland Paris has had real social and economic change in an area that sorely needed it.
The 26th March 2017 was the official opening of the 25th anniversary, but the celebrations really started the preceding day with a press event like no other. With it, Disneyland Paris launched a new parade (Disney Stars on Parade); a new nighttime spectacular (Disney Illuminations); new shows (Mickey Presents: Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris, The Starlit Princess Waltz); a new attraction (Star Tours: L’Aventure continue); and a sparkling blue overlay that would transform Main Street USA for the coming celebrations.
Meanwhile in Disney Village, a new branch of Five Guys opened next door to Vapiano. With the opening, Disney Village really does feel like it is expanding into a destination in its own right.
On April 12th 2017 Disneyland Paris officially turned 25 years old and to celebrate a special day of events was organised. The Grand Celebration took place between 8am and 10pm in Disneyland Park and saw a special show, parades, meet and greets and celebratory atmosphere. The Grand Celebration drew large crowds, many queueing to enter the park from 5am in order to guarantee a good spot in the park for the Grand Celebration show; the show was an hour long spectacular that was streamed worldwide and saw many rare and exciting Disney characters, a large number of whom were making their Disneyland Paris debut.
The Grand Celebration was a day that Disneyland Paris fans will never forget.
With the 25th anniversary now in full-swing, it would be forgiven to think that the resort would become more quiet, however the opposite is true. In May, Disneyland Paris hosted the European premiere for Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead men tell no tales was the US and International title). Whilst the film was screened in the Gaumont cinema in Disney Village, Disneyland Park (and Central Plaza) hosted the red carpet event including a small show, interviews for guests and the live stream and local and international media.
Smaller events took place park-wide and we got our first glimpse of the Jack Sparrow animatronic in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean renovation as official photos were released with Johnny Depp and the animatronic.
On June 19th 2017 Euro Disney SCA was withdrawn from the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange following a buy-out of shares by The Walt Disney Company, this was then followed by a mandatory buy-out of all remaining Euro Disney shares for €2 each. This meant that Euro Disney SCA became a fully owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. This is perhaps the most momentous day of the year as it represents a significant shift in how Disneyland Paris is owned and operated, the results of which are starting to be seen but it will take a significant amount of time further to see the full effects of this process.
A temporary Dutch Garden was created at Disney’s Newport Bay Club hotel; this beautiful, yet temporary, feature outside the front of the hotel. The garden included 115 varieties of flowers.
Perhaps the busiest month of the Disneyland Paris year. At the start of the month the Forest of Enchantment returned for a summer engagement at the chaparral Theatre in Frontierland. The show was slightly updated for the new season including a backing screen and some small content changes.
On 4th July 2017, Disneyland Paris launched their Tuesday is Guest Star Day mini-parade. Each Tuesday a different rare character will be highlighted with a small mini-parade before Disney Stars on Parade. The name is inspired by the ‘Tuesday is guest star day’ feature on the old Mickey Mouse Club television show.
On 8th July 2017 the very first Electroland music festival took place at the Walt Disney Studios Park with acts including NERVO, Steve Aoki and Richard Orlinkski.
During the Disney Parks and Resorts panel at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Disney announced that Disney’s Hotel New York will be given a Marvel renovation to become Disney’s Hotel New York: The Art of Marvel. We do not yet know much about this renovation other than it will include characters such as “Iron Man, The Avengers, Spider Man and more”. Disney’s Hotel New York will close for the renovation in October 2018 and works are expected to last one year.
Finally, at the end of July, Disneyland Paris opened the renovated Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. This renovation features Captain Jack, new effects, a new auctioneer scene, a Hector Barbossa animatronic and other surprises. This was a well done renovation that is both exciting and puts some new energy into a Disneyland Paris classic.
In 2017 a quiet month was a rare occurrence, but August was a month in which very little happened.All the summer entertainment and long opening hours continued for the entire month. But, on the last day of the month there was a hint that September was not going to be so quiet.
On September 1st, Disney FanDaze was announced. This was followed later in the month by a special bloggers event that was aiming to whip up excitement in the fan community.
Whilst FanDaze was seeking to create excitement for Summer 2018, there was still plenty going on in the month. Towards the start of the month the Rendez-Vous Gourmand took place in La Place de Rémy. This small-scale festival showcased the regional food and drink of France at taster portions at good prices and was a real success.
RunDisney returned in 2017 for its second edition. This year the event grew to include a 10km race in addition to the 5km and half marathon of last year.
October saw both the first day of the new-look Halloween celebrations and the first edition of Extra Magic Time. Halloween was given a 25th anniversary make over with shows including Goofy’s Skeletoon Party and Mickey’s Halloween Tricycle Gang. Frontierland was redesigned with a Day of the Dead theme. The season was packed with fun and ended with a spectacular Halloween party on October 31st.
Extra Magic Time replaced the Extra Magic Hours, the primary difference was that the extra time was now only one hour instead of two but spread across two parks. Whilst this change was met with both surprise and a level of scepticism, the changes have allowed for increased choice for guests, which can only be a good thing.
Then, at the end of the month in London, Disneyland Paris announced the Marvel Summer of Super Heroes that will take place in the summer of 2018 as the finale of the 25th anniversary celebrations. The setting of the announcement in London was symbolic in that it took place at MCM Comic Con which symbolised a branch being held out to new guests who would not usually visit Disneyland Paris.
Every November Disneyland Paris launches a new edition of Disney’s Enchanted Christmas, and this year was no exception; however what is perhaps the exception is the magnitude of this year’s celebrations. This year was quite possibly the biggest Christmas season that Disneyland Paris have ever produced featuring a new projection show; multiple new stage shows; new music and meet and greets. The festive spirit was very much alive at Disneyland Paris in 2017.
Perhaps the highlight of the season is Mickey’s Christmas Big Band which really does represent a renewed focus at Disneyland Paris for live music, signing and dancing.
For the Christmas period in 2017 (and continuing into early 2018), Disneyland Paris performed Mickey and the Magician in French sign language for the very first time. This new way of presenting the show was presented as a co-operation between the Entertainment, Mission Handicap, Accessibility and Operations teams. A great initiative to end the year!
A year of transition, excitement and promise!
2017 has been a year that has seen Disneyland Paris transition into a fresh destination, one that offers excitement around each corner and one that has a lot of promise for the future. 2017 feels like a turning point for Disneyland Paris, and the future looks bright.