Disneyland Paris de A à Z: A quest to the soul of Disneyland Paris

In 2012 we were treated to a fantastic book 20 ans des rêves which was published for the 20th anniversary festivities. This tome sought to retell the history of Disneyland Paris through a series of glimpses into the years of Disneyland Paris. This was our first anthology of Disneyland Paris which has allowed today’s fans to understand the history of the resort that they so love. Fast forward 5 years and the 25th anniversary festivities have allowed a new book to emerge Disneyland Paris A à Z. This new and novel book also tells the story of Disneyland Paris but in a very different way. Where the previous book asked a simple question: What has happened at Disneyland Paris?, this new volume asks a much more profound question: What makes Disneyland Paris?

Presentation

This book is presented in a very different way to the 20th anniversary book; this book is a dictionary of Disneyland Paris and presents 26 chapters on a wide range of topics ranging from the obvious attractions all the way to the more obscure (yet captivating) urban planning. Each is presented by a glossy covering page introducing the concept with gorgeous photographs or concept art followed by pages littered with text in a wonderful font and accompanied by relevant photos (many of which feel like they have been taken especially for this book).

Content

As previously mentioned, this book feels complete and gets right to the heart of the question of what makes Disneyland Paris the place we love. Each element is carefully considered to give the reader as much of an understanding as possible as to the work of the 15,000 Cast Members at Disneyland Paris – and this is a real strength of the book, the Cast Members are the lifeblood of Disneyland Paris and this book really does pay homage to them in the most sincere of ways.

[dt_quote background=”fancy”]”The content of this book is exhaustive and complete, it regroups all elements of Disneyland Paris and renders them accessible whilst answering many questions that fans will have.”[/dt_quote]

The book also has content that will excite any Disneyland Paris fan, from those who enjoy rides to those who enjoy characters on parade; to my surprise it also will please anybody with a keen interest on the complete operations of Euro Disney SCA with an in-depth look at Villages Nature and the Val d’Europe complex. It is to the author and editor’s credit that such fantastic information is seamlessly blended into the book in a way that will interest even the most casual of fan whilst also diving into the company’s reasons for investing in such projects. Val d’Europe is explained by the 1987 convention but also Walt’s keen interest in urban planning (let us not forget the EPCOT was originally conceived by Walt Disney to be a living, breathing community). Such information is skilfully made accessible in this book.

The Disneyland Paris round the clock segments are a work of pure genius. Ever wondered what is going on at Disneyland Paris at 3am and which Cast Members are at work? This book provides that valuable look behind the scenes and exposes how Disneyland Paris truly is a 24 hour operation. This is done through Cast Member testimonials and beautiful imagery each combined to provide the reader with that complete picture of company operations.

The content of this book is exhaustive and complete, it regroups all elements of Disneyland Paris and renders them accessible whilst answering many questions that fans will have.

Images

Each chapter is accompanied by wonderful images, many taken for this book but many others have been dug out of the Disneyland Paris archives to illustrate articles to the highest quality. Many pieces of concept art have been included, some of which have not yet been printed for fans in this high quality before; for example, seeing the beautiful Star Tours: L’avenutre continue concept art occupying two large pages was a real treat.

Sometimes in books designed for collectors, images can feel forced in because ‘it would be nice to have’, whilst fantastic for collectors it can break the rhythm of a book. Here, nothing is forced, everything has been very carefully selected and is a real treat to inspect.

It really is hard to fault any of the images selected in this book, each provides a unique look at Disneyland Paris and some even provide intriguing glimpses into elements of Disneyland Paris we have not before been afforded the opportunity to see. For Disneyland Paris fans, the images themselves are worth the price of the book.

A wonderful companion to any of your Disneyland Paris books

This book is different to anything that has come before in the Disneyland Paris collection. From Sketch to Reality focuses on the conception and design of the resort, 20 ans des rêves focuses on the history of the resort and this Disneyland Paris de A à Z focuses on what Disneyland Paris is today and the hard work that goes into the resort.

Each has a unique place on your bookshelf and each work together in order to create a complete Disneyland Paris library. The officially published Disneyland Paris books (this and the 20th anniversary book) and printed on the best quality paper we could hope for meaning that they are durable and will withstand any repeat reading for years to come, they are also of the highest quality in content; Mathias Dugoujon and Jérémie Noyer have a love of the resort that many of the fans will share and have a passion for the stories that they are telling, this book makes that obvious and helps make the book a joy to read.

The additional bonus of this book is a special Euro Disneyland Passeport Commémoratif that is tucked nicely into the first page of the book. For many fans, this type of gift in itself is worth the purchase and provides those who, for whatever reason, were not able to get hold of this most prized of tickets the chance to own one for themselves.

For the 25th anniversary the book is also presented in a souvenir box which is of a very high quality and provides additional protection and durability to this beautiful book.

Disneyland Paris de A à Z is a book that deserves to be on the bookshelves of all DIsneyland Paris fans and will be a book that I will treasure and read and re-read over the years. There is so much to take in here that repeat readings will certainly be rewarded.

My congratulations to the book team for another formidable read!

[dt_quote font_size=”h4″ background=”fancy”]”Disneyland Paris de A à Z is a book that deserves to be on the bookshelves of all Disneyland Paris fans”[/dt_quote]

PhotoPass+ – Park photography just got easier

PhotoPass+ card, Disneyland Paris

In recent years, Disneyland Paris fans have enjoyed various enhancements to the photography services offered in the park. The most recent of which was little over a year ago with the introduction of Disney’s PhotoPass. It went someway to harmonise all of Disneyland Paris’ photo locations. Next month, another improvement arrives; and this time it’s a huge update. PhotoPass+ is the next generation of a product that is a huge-earner for Disneyland Paris. Although not yet released to guests, I got given the opportunity to test it out as part of the Ratatouille fan preview event.

Disneyland Paris PhotoPass+ card

Guests will buy a box with a PhotoPass+ card contained within it along with two mini-cards – a package that will cost €49,99 and will be activated upon checkout; once activated, guests will have ten days to add their photos to the pass. We just got given the single pass, so I cannot comment about how multiple cards adding to the pass simultaneously operates – however the smooth running of the system indicates this should not be a problem. So, how does it work? Fujifilm will store all your photos for one year on their website, Disneyland Paris will also keep your photos on site for seven days (You may still purchase prints on-site in the classic way). I used the application which is available on iTunes for Apple devices and on Android.

App Store - Disney's PhotoPass for Disneyland Paris

Once downloaded, the application will ask you to create an account, this will also be usable on the PhotoPass+ website, therefore it is advisable to sign up. Linking the PhotoPass+ to your account could not be simpler, type the code below the bar code and voilà! The benefits of this can be huge, the biggest being the ability to scan for your attraction photo via a QR code reader included in the application. Be careful, scanning this will only get you a lower quality version of the image – if you would like the high-resolution image, simply present your card at the photo counter and they will link it to your account. This is instant. If you do not have internet connectivity and would like to add the lower-quality image, make a note of the number and add it when you have a WiFi connection. Alternatively, ask for it to be added at a photo point in either park or in the hotel stores. I will admit to being very impressed with this system, the results were instant and have come out well.

A ride screen equipped for PhotoPass+

When taking photos with characters, again, present your card to the photographer and wait. It could take a while, but the results are perfect. I am very happy with my high-resolution photos. Some photos can take a very long time to be added, but Fujifilm can add them manually to your account by sending a quick e-mail, as can Disneyland Paris and photo retailers.

That is not to say that there aren’t any bugs in the system – there are! Sometimes other people’s photos may find their way into your account and occasionally the application throws up unexplained errors when reading QR codes; at this stage, however, I am willing to put that down to the testing period that we are currently in.

To access your photos, nothing could be simpler – on the application Disney and Fujifilm have provided an option to save photos to your camera roll. This is an ideal option for those wanting to send them as a tweet or Facebook update.

A photo screen on the PhotoPass+ application - Disneyland Paris

To unlock the full resolution, visit the official website and click ‘Download Photos’ – they will be delivered in full high-resolution to you in a zipped folder. You can also order a variety of goods at reasonable prices to be delivered to your door. However shipping costs must be lowered, as €12 for a print to be delivered is unacceptable, especially as there is nothing stopping me getting it printed at my local photography store.

To work at its best, we can only hope Disneyland Paris offer roaming photographers to capture some real holiday magic away from the forced character poses – this would also widen its appeal to a much larger audience.

Overall, PhotoPass+ is a welcome addition to Disneyland Paris and, if managed well, should turn a real profit for them. Having tested in constantly for two days in a variety of different photo situations, I can confidently say that I will be investing in this on a future trip (Be advised – the card knows when it was activated and so will not add any back-dated photos!). Any issues are minor and easily fixable before launch. I’m very happy with my photos, I hope you will be too when it launches later this summer.

Disney Art on Demand is just like we dreamed it.

Disney art on demand terminal

Back in September, as the 20th Anniversary celebrations were coming to an end, Disneyland Paris hosted an event in which some of our friends were invited to named ‘What’s New, What’s Next’ aimed at showing the community just some of what is planned after the year and a half long celebration. During that weekend, the resort unveiled Disney Art on Demand. This is a service which allows guests to order prints of pieces of Disney art directly to their front door from a wide selection of pieces of work.

As you walk into the Disney Gallery store in Disney Village, you are confronted with the above wall showcasing the types of art that can be purchased from the touch screen computer. The computer itself is very easy to use and can be used in either French or English.
Upon starting, you are presented with the ‘highlights’ of categories with options to view more. Categories included photos of Walt Disney, paintings of Disney characters, film stills and film posters, as well as the highly anticipated Attraction poster series. It’s very easy to switch from category to category and from page to page within the category.

Art works include the above pictures Mickey drawing, as well as other drawings and paintings already available in the resort; the film stills were largely standard affairs, the selection was good, and is recommended if you want a collection of those in your house. The vintage film posters are perfect for fans of the Disney films, the Mary Poppins poster is especially good.

 Once you have selected your chosen piece of art, you then proceed to select your printing options. Whether it be on paper or canvas, then the size, followed by the option to select a frame (this is not obligatory and is the most costly part of the experience). The cheapest printing option ends up at €17.99 (with a €6 delivery charge).
Once you input your address details, you walk over to the cashier and alert them to the fact you have made an Art on Demand order, they will then retrieve your order and put it through the system and begin the printing process. Orders are given a guideline of a 2-3 week delivery window, although ours turned up at our front door in less than a week. An automated e-mail is sent out to you upon dispatch with a Royal Mail tracking number (orders are printed and dispatched in the United Kingdom using the UK Postal Service: Royal Mail).

The packaging upon arrival was plenty for the item, the print arrives in a thick cardboard tube marked ‘Fragile’ by tape. Once the tube has been opened, the unframed print that we ordered was wrapped in tissue paper.

The print itself was of an exceptional quality with a large white border. The colours are vibrant meaning this will make a fantastic print to hang on the wall in any home.

 

In conclusion, Disney Art on Demand at Disneyland Paris allows guests to choose from a wide range of high quality art pieces and get them delivered direct to your front door, the ease of the system makes the ordering process incredibly straightforward. The quality of the print is of a very high standard, meaning that for a reasonable price Disney fans can have beautiful pieces of art adorning their walls. We look forward to seeing how this service grows.

Les Artisans du Rêve: Review

Castle with the words 'Les Artisans du Reve' next to it.

Artisans du reve coverBehind the world that we, the guests, see lies a world inhabited by over 14,000 cast members. Les Artisans du Rêve invites us into their world for a one hour glimpse into the part of Disneyland Paris that is hidden from most fans. Lets start by saying that this 50 minute look into backstage life is brief and only an
introduction, (We’re not saying that’s a bad thing, but Disney fans wanting an in-depth look at what goes on behind the scenes of a Disney park will need to look elsewhere) but what that means is that during the 50 minutes we get a good look at many different departments over a wide variety of time. One thing we did notice which confused us a slight bit was the opening which featured beautiful tilt-shift shots of the parks, including the Walt Disney Studios park, but this second gate was not mentioned once during the film itself which leads us to believe that this could have, unfortunately, made the cutting room floor.

 

Artisans du Reve Film title cardWe really liked how this documentary, whilst seemingly targeted at fans of Disneyland Paris, did not alienate visitors who had never visited by giving introductory piece of aspects of the park, examples of this include cast member costuming how ‘each land has its own look, its own costume’ and during the segment about park refurbishment Main Street USA was described as ‘The Champs-Elysées of the park’. The film gave a good insight into ‘operational backstage’ as we are going to call it, for example we are shown the costuming department solving problems, such as fixing a parade outfit, or creating Mickey’s 20th anniversary wizard costume. Our criticism however with this section was ‘sugar-coating’ aspects of the process, we are treated to Cinderella’s presence in the department as she has a problem with her dress, we are then given a ‘tour’ of the dress and as the filmmaker asks Cinderella a question she looks almost blindly towards the camera in a ‘I’ve been told not to say anything’ sort of way, it’s a small complaint for an otherwise fantastic insight into the work of Disneyland Paris cast members. The brief nature of each segment of the documentary means we can see a diverse range of roles offered at the resort, perhaps the most well realised section is the day in the life of a parade performer, we learn just how much work these cast members put in before they make it out for that 7pm parade.

Some information given is not there to shock fans of the parks, it’s doubtful that if you are reading this that you’ll be sitting mouth open as you are told that Main Street USA is a representation of an American town at the turn of the 20th century and inspired by Walt Disney’s birth town, but there are wonderful shots behind those green maintenance fences as we discover the care and attention given to make our parks look as beautiful day in and day out as they do. It’s little facts such as where the inspiration for our version of Sleeping Beauty Castle came from and how the colours of it were chosen that is likely to make you want to pick up this film and spend 50 minutes of your day watching it. Fans of ride maintenance won’t be disappointed as we are treated to a few minutes of overnight maintenance footage on both Indiana Jones et le temple du péril and Pirates of the Caribbean, again don’t be expecting information on the ride system but seeing how much care is put into the rides from both an artistic and technical viewpoint was something to behold. Again we were very impressed with the segment on the care of the audio animatronics both by those tasked with locating the problem animatronics and those tasked with the unenviable job of creating and fixing them. Something that we can’t overlook in the park is the excellent work by those who work on the parks horticulture, and whilst perhaps this team is given the briefest section of all the teams featured it is enough to convey for a neutral audience, the love and attention given to each individual plant. A gardener is asked about an individual plant and he could tell us immediately its age and when her birthday was, a real eye opener.

Disneyland Paris gardenersPerhaps the longest section (at over 10 minutes) was reserved for a behind the scenes look at the work put in each day by the team of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. We felt the time reserved for this was perhaps a bit over what we expected compared to other roles in the resort but interesting nonetheless. If behind the scenes of this show interests you (horse training, how the actors prepares and a bit of information on the props) this is an ideal film to watch in itself.
A parade float exiting the parade hangarOverall, this is a basic introduction to the world of the backstages of Disneyland Paris, fans of the parks are not going to be shocked or amazed by a wealth of information, however what you will get from this film is a look behind the scenes and interviews with the people that make the magic happen everyday, you will see their passion and determination to do their job to the fullest so that we can enjoy ourselves.

This film is not for those who do not care for seeing underneath the magic, if Disneyland Paris for you is what you see in the park, this film really is not for you, you might not enjoy the sight of a ‘naked’ pirate or a Fantillusion float in the daytime.

We really enjoyed the film and gave it a 4 star rating, our wish is for it to be a little bit longer and to go more in-depth. (But for French speaker we have France 3’s ‘Disneyland et ses secrets’ for that).

4 stars

This film is presented in French with English subtitles and can be purchased from the French Amazon website.

Finally, a note of thanks from us to all cast members of Disneyland Paris, past, present and future. All fans of the resort really appreciate the work you put in to keep our resort looking fresh and giving us unforgettable days each time we visit. This DVD serves as a tribute to your work and hopefully brings your work to a wider audience. Thank You! ~ I’m sure we’ll return to thank cast members in a later post.
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Technical Profile

Les Artisans du Rêve
Studio: The Walt Disney Company (France) – Bonne Pioche Télévision – Disney Channel 2012
Director: Dominique Lenglart
Narrator: Tom Novembre
Running Time: 50 minutes
Language: French
Subtitles: English
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