The 29th and 30th June 2018 saw Disneyland Paris host its second edition of the Electroland festival. The big new features for 2018 were later finishes (02:00 this year) and an additional night (the Friday night). All this added up to two exciting nights of music and magic as some of the world’s top DJs descended on Disneyland Paris. This review will focus mostly on the party as a whole and will not go overly into if each individual DJ was good or not (they were mostly fantastic, however). Instead, I want to discuss how the party was for somebody attending as a Disneyland Paris fan.
Getting into the event
Much like the recent Disney FanDaze party, a large queuing system was set up outside the entrance of the Walt Disney Studios Park. This served three purposes, one being to have a second bag check to ensure that no undesirable substances made it into the park; two, to hand out wristbands (different colours denoting minor or of-age so that guests could buy alcoholic drinks); finally, to provide a queue to enter the event.
On the first night of the Electroland party, this did not really work and was very disorganised. Multiple Cast Members were standing one behind each other giving out wristbands and in different points of the queue, it did not make any sense and just got confusing for both guests and cast. Luckily, this was all solved for Day 2 of the event and entry was a much easier and pleasant process. Once in the queue, it was a simple scan of the event ticket at the turnstile to get in.
Food and Drink
A party of this length does need good food and drink options (especially in the way of a bar), Electroland had this covered very well. Plenty of bars were open around the Production Courtyard area (I counted 4 of them, 5 if we include the special Sprite stand), as well as food trucks (again, 4 of these) and the Restaurant En Coulisse. These were open from the start of the event at 20:00 right up until 01:30 (30 minutes prior to the end of the event); the bars rarely saw a queue of more than a few minutes and drinks were reasonably priced. A drinks token system was in operation for those who wanted to use it, alternatively you could buy drinks directly; the downfall of the token system came when the bars ran out of Skoll beer at 23:00 on the Saturday.
En Coulisse was rarely busy and was fully staffed meaning that for those wanting soft drinks, such as myself, the queue was both non-existent and annual pass discount was available. Guests could also take full advantage of the complete menu which was being served that night (including the special Marvel options). The minimal wait meant that it was possible to grab food and drinks very quickly and guests were able to return to the party very fast – the music from the event was also being pumped into the restaurant.
Overall, Disneyland Paris did a good job in catering for all tastes at the event and even managed to keep the waits to a minimum. Bonus points go to serving Skoll in a reusable cup and even more bonus points go to the many guests actually taking the time to keep their reusable cups and asking those to be refilled at the bars (I even saw one person bring his Friday cup to the Saturday night!).
These were open throughout the Friday and Saturday evening until 23:30 (for obvious reasons). For some reason more attractions were kept open on the Saturday evening than the Friday which meant that the queues on the Friday evening were longer than on the Saturday. Nonetheless, the Cast Members operating the attractions were in a great mood and got into the spirit of the night. It was a great opportunity to do the attractions with minimal waits, something that is always appreciated.
Disneyland Paris released a commemorative range of Electroland merchandise in Les Légendes d’Hollywood (the boutique in Disney’s Studio 1). The range was quite small and included a baseball cap, t-shirt and pin. Also on the stand were a number of items that were ‘suitable’ to the event such as light up Mickey Mouse ears. It was great to see merchandise produced for the party (much like Disney FanDaze) and we can only hope that this is something that will be continued going forward (such as into the Jazz, Halloween and New Year’s nights). All the items were reasonably priced, seemed popular (I saw many people wearing the Electroland t-shirt) and was eligible for Annual Pass discounts.
The mood was generally pretty good on both of the days of the party. Having said that, there was a clear difference in ambiance between the Friday and Saturday evenings: Friday felt a lot more chilled out, whereas Saturday was much more of a party atmosphere. Neither day had much in the way of drunken problems with most people looking as if they had not drunk much at all – something which is refreshing for this type of festival.
However, something that must be discussed is the drug problem. Yes, I know if goes with the territory of this kind of event but it was so evident and, whilst I have heard that people were removed for it, I did not see any security people actively doing anything about the problem. Yes, it is difficult to put security in the middle of large crowds, but it did feel like something more should have been done. The issue was much worse on the Friday than the Saturday, so perhaps more was being filtered out at the security checkpoints. Nevertheless, it is important to stress that this was a minority of people.
The Staging and Music
The Production Courtyard stage was massively expanded for this event including a roof section and multiple lighting and effects rigs. This allowed the acts to create a large number of special effects and ensured that no part of the sets became boring. The staging also extended upwards by including the projections onto The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror, these projections looked absolutely fantastic and even provided for some rather unexpected moments – such as the façade of “it’s a small world” and Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout!
There were a few moments that did not work at all, the headline act on the Saturday Night (Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike) attempted to create a mosh pit. Whilst, I know, this is common place at these types of event, it didn’t feel particularly safe with the many people inebriated at the point and running straight into other people with no real way of escape. I think this particular idea should be consigned to the ‘at least we tried’ bin for future years.
The music was globally very good, a fantastic mix of DJs was selected meaning that each set offered something unique to the party and it did feel that a lot of thought went into the selection. A special shout-out goes to the two acts that had a saxophone player live on stage, that was a particularly cool blend of music that I really did feel worked on many levels (perhaps this is partially as I’m very partial to a bit of Jazz and this felt like a taster of that).
Little Touches of Marvel and Disney
For fans of Disney, Marvel (and to some extent, Star Wars), Electroland had something for you. The Disney elements resided in a few DJs marking their attendance at Disneyland Paris by sneaking in some Disney remixes (special credit here goes to Mosimann who remixed “it’s a small world” with projections onto the Tower of Terror, that took a lot of effort and was really appreciated.
Marvel fans had more to enjoy, quite a lot more, with DJs remixing the Avengers theme, the giant Marvel Summer of Super Heroes statues placed in the Production Courtyard and two of the more random moments of the event. On the Friday night, Star-Lord and Gamora appeared and started to lead the crowd into the Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off; this more or less worked, the crowd enjoyed the music selection but it did feel very out of place. The highlight here for Disney fans was that the Mission Breakout building from Disney’s California Adventure was projected onto the Tower of Terror. During the second evening, Loki and Thor made a small appearance, this one felt a lot more awkward and randomly placed; the guardians interlude kept with the theme of music, Loki just had nothing to do with anything.
A fun evening for music fans
Overall, Electroland was a very fun experience and a good way to spend a summer’s evening at Disneyland Paris. The music was good, the ambiance was good and the organisation was, mostly, top-notch. There were problems, there are at every event, but the Disneyland Paris teams did their utmost to counter them. My one main concern is that little was done on the Friday to counter the drug misuse, I think Disneyland Paris needs to take a real look at how they police that, especially when they are inviting a more adult crowd to the result whilst also trying to keep the event as family friendly as possible.
So, should Disneyland Paris be looking to create more adult-orientated events? I think they are popular, and that they can work. Electroland proves that the right event can create its own safe environment. Would I recommend a family (or minors) to attend, not really. This should be an 18+ party as it is clearly designed to be.
I look forward to the 2019 edition which, with any luck, I shall also be attending.