Starlit Princess Waltz review

Starlit Princess Waltz - Aurora at Disneyland Paris

Aurora takes centre stage in this beautiful princess pageant The Starlit Princess Waltz. Too often the princess shows in Disneyland Paris have involved nothing more than twirling to generic music, this show seeks to change that perception and produce something more. But has it been a success?

Yes and no. This show is more than the normal princess show, but it still consists of primarily twirling and dancing. Having said that, it is much more enjoyable than previous shows of the same type at Disneyland Paris. Whilst the show does leave guests satisfied, you do wonder if Disneyland Paris can do more with the princesses.

Starlit Princess Waltz - Aurora at Disneyland Paris

Plot and staging

The basic plot of the show is that Aurora is inviting guests to join her for as her royal guests. Rosie and Louis are our master of ceremony for this show and Louis clearly hasn’t read his fairy tales as when each princess arrives on stage, he announces the “wrong one”. It’s kind of cute, kind of funny and allows princesses to dance with masks and fans. It’s a fun moment that, whilst it has a plot, is rather flimsy but looks good and is entertaining. It is when the show moves into its second half that it really becomes excellent. The dancing is skilful and is much more than twirling and once the princes arrive the lift between Aurora and Philip is a spectacular moment.

As plots go, there is very little here as in many of the princess shows at Disneyland Paris. It would be great to see a princess show that has a longer running time and a real storyline. Having said that, it is enough to leave you fulfilled.

Starlit Princess Waltz - Disneyland Paris

The staging of the show is spectacular. The new stage, especially designed for this show, looks phenomenal and works well for this very show. The choreography breaks some new ground for princess shows in Paris which is nice as the fear of the show being too same-y has not materialised.

Music

Music is a big part of this show, it doesn’t take any particular princess song and plays it as a dance track. This is all original, all new and actually rather good. The style of the music changes to reflect each princess’s music style – for instance the Rapunzel introduction has the air of At last I see the Light about it. It all works very well and ensures the music is fluid.

The second song is a more general piece that has a very clear and powerful message, that all girls are princesses, it’s the core message of the show and this song is a powerful way to power this message home.

Starlit Princess Waltz - Disneyland Paris

A nice twist on the Princess show

Princess shows are formulaic in Disneyland Paris, and this show doesn’t break the usual formula, however it is longer than prior princess shows and uses the stage effectively. The choreography is more complex than prior shows and that really does boost the enjoyability factor.

This is a nice show that is short enough to not eat up too much time into your day but has that wow factor. Next time though, it would be nice to see something very different with more plot.

Mickey presents: Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris review

Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris - Characters

The 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris has allowed for the return of stage shows on a refurbished castle stage. This stage, located next to the Sleeping Beauty Castle, is typically used during the seasonal celebrations but left empty during the rest of the year. The anniversary celebrations sees a renewed focus on this stage with two unique performances presented daily.

Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris is a show of pure joy and allows guests to see their favourite characters up close and personal. It is a true celebration of Disneyland Paris and all of its lands, a show for all fans to savour.

Staging and choreography

The show uses the castle stage rather beautifully with the castle being used as a central background piece which is especially useful towards the end of the show when characters pose for photographs for guests. As a wide open space characters and dance moves are able to be land-specific and give a real feeling of being a celebration of that area. This is most effective in the celebration of Adventureland as characters create a boat and appear to be sailing down a river.

Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris - Adventureland

The finale of the show is staged especially well as characters flood both the stage and the ground below the stage and allow Mickey to be centred. When watching the show is feels like a celebration – exactly what this show sets out to do. It is not the most spectacular show that you will ever see, but it is a show of happiness and celebration and the staging and choreography really does hinge on these messages.

Characters

The amount of characters in this show is staggering, a large cast consisting of many characters that fit several different lands. The selection is near-perfect and has a character for everybody. The surprising inclusion of Max as a leading character is a welcome choice – it is often nice and pleasing to see a character on stage that we rarely see in the parks. The inclusion of Duffy will also please many fans as, again, he is very rarely seen within the park in recent years.

Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris - Characters

Whilst the range is very strong, these are all characters we have seen often in the parks in Paris in the past (with the exception of Max) and it would have been nice to have some different and rarer characters in the show. A small criticism for a show that is flawless in most ways.

Music

The strongest aspect of this show is the musical score, it is extremely infectious in the best possible way. Each land has a unique and distinct sound and original song – each work alone as a perfect reference to each land and work together to make this fantastic show a complete piece.

The highlight is the Happy Anniversary song which is also currently the park opening announcement song. It is this song that sums up the feeling of this special celebration year and provides a fitting finale to a great show.Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris - Mickey

An excellent show

This show is not the biggest, the grandest or the most spectacular show you will see at Disneyland Paris but it is the one that feels as if it has the most heart. It is a show the creates the feeling of joy and celebration to the anniversary year (where other pieces of entertainment are lacking this crucial element).

The show is enjoyable and I hope we get to see more shows like this in the future that manage to encompass a lot of themes, characters and are as strong on the music. Bravo Disneyland Paris, this is exactly the type of show that we were looking for.

Disney Illuminations: Good but not great

Disney Illuminations is the new nighttime entertainment spectacular at Disneyland Paris that has replaced Disney Dreams! Whilst the decision to replace Dreams! was met with surprise by fans and guests of the resort, the new show promised new scenes and a story centred around Mickey Mouse – whom for many guests is their favourite character. But does the show live up to expectations?

Following Dreams!

The first thing to note here is that following Disney Dreams! and being considered ‘better’ is a difficult task. Disney Dreams! was a highly successful show partially due to its song selection and films included, but the show also included a lot of emotion. For many, Disney Dreams! was a coming of age show, Disneyland Paris had long been seen as the ugly duckling of the Disney resorts, this was the first show that made others envious.

Disney Dreams! was also a turning point for Disney parks in general, projecting onto the castle was novel – no Disney park had done it in quite this way before, Paris was a pioneer. Now almost all Disney Parks do this genre of show and have even extended it down Main Street USA (see Disneyland Forever for the 60th anniversary of Disneyland Resort). Walt Disney World have recently launched Happily Ever After and Shanghai Disneyland opened with Ignite the Dream.

There lies our first issue with Disney Illuminations at Disneyland Paris – it is simply a copy of Ignite the Dream from Shanghai. Where Ignite the Dream had a very clear goal of introducing a Chinese audience (who, generally speaking, do not grow up around Disney stories) to Disney and their franchises, in Europe and particularly in Disneyland Paris we simply do not need this. But this is not the only problem with Disney Illuminations, nor is Disney Illuminations an entirely bad show – there are elements that are simply fantastic. In order to properly examine this show, it is essential to break it down into its parts, and that is what we will do here.

The opening of Disney Illuminations

The Opening Number – A Dream is a wish your heart makes

This sequence is actually very good. The way the castle dissolves is exceptional and the opening music does make it feel as if we are dissolving into a dream scape. A strong beginning with beautiful visuals on the castle as Mickey dives and soars through a floral landscape whilst a very strong version of the classic A dream is a wish your heart makes plays.

This scene is strangely the closest the show gets to being emotional, the music and visuals are very powerful and is spectacular, it offers a lot in the way of promise and builds up excitement. It is evident from this scene that the projection technology has moved on from Dreams! as the castle appears so much more crisp (there is a noticeable difference from the previous show to this) and that, sadly, is why we cannot move back to Dreams! as it once was. Going back to Dreams! would feel like a step backwards in many ways as the technology is so much better now.

The Lion King – Circle of Life & Can you feel the love tonight

Again, a strong opening section as Mickey opens the door to various scenes from the film in a comedic fashion. The beat seems continuous from the initial A Dream is a wish your heart makes making the transition seamless. Our previous show was very careful with its timings, other than the retrospectively added Brave scene, everything moved along at a near-perfect pace. Here, however, the Lion King scene overstays its welcome. There is no doubt that these songs are beautiful, moving even. But in a show that begins with a certain pace, it immediately slows itself down and that is an issue.

Lion King in Disney IlluminationsThe pyrotechnics in these scene create a beautiful environment with a near romantic feel. The issue with this scene is not so much content (although Disneyland Paris have found a series of ‘safe’ franchises that they reuse over and over), but length. The scene is simply too long, luckily it does end before it becomes a ‘boring’ scene but it does drag somewhat.

The Little Mermaid – Part of your world

Arguably the best scene of the show, this scene is beautiful and features some enjoyable graphics on the castle. It’s probably no coincidence that this is the most ‘dreams-like’ of the scenes in the show. What is particularly enjoyable about this scene is that The Little Mermaid gets very little in the way of show inclusion at Disneyland Paris, this scene allows for a beautiful song to be presented in a new way in the park which can only be a good thing.

The Little Mermaid in Disney IlluminationsThis section of the show is a clear highlight of the show as it takes the best from Dreams! and the best of Illuminations’ new technology. If the entire show was like this scene, we’d have potentially a Dreams! beater.

Finding Nemo

The link is clear, two underwater franchises have been linked together and they are both strong segments. The section is simple and again features beautiful music. We then move into a section about the East Australian Current and the music becomes stronger. The issue is that the scene doesn’t really have any impact, it’s enjoyable when watching but once finished it sort of vanishes from memory.

Pirates of the Caribbean

The first of the live action franchises is the Pirates of the Caribbean segment suffers from the same difficulties as the Finding Nemo section. The difference is that this section features a memorable soundtrack that has had some outstanding pyrotechnics attached to it.

However, like all of these live action pieces, it feels like basics have been taken from the films and that Disney are going for what appear to be cheap wins. Rather than making a show that moves and causes emotions to be stirred, they are going for the ‘oh cool, Jack Sparrow’.

Pirates of the Caribbean in Disney IlluminationsNevertheless, this section is enjoyable and calls back somewhat to the Step in Time section from Disney Dreams! proving that Illuminations does the potential to be good overall, but misses the mark.

Beauty and the Beast

This is THE weak link in the show and even causes harm to the show. For this scene Disney have simply taken the trailer to the live action Beauty and the Beast and projected it onto the castle. The issue? The new film is outstanding and features plenty of opportunity to move the audience and provide stunning visuals.

Beauty and the Beast in Disney IlluminationsUnfortunately, this feels like a desperate attempt at marketing and is laughable in its desperation. It simply isn’t good. We know Disneyland Paris is better than this and this scene deserves to be replaced at the earliest opportunity.

Star Wars

Preceded by the most random transition as the balloons from Up float past to reveal Chewbacca and Han Solo. This scene is actually quite cool but completely unnecessary in a resort  that is able to produce a Star Wars show right next door that is vastly superior to this scene.

Nonetheless, this scene is enjoyable and uses all the effects on Central Plaza including the lights in the trees to create a fully immersive environment. It features segments from The Force Awakens and paces them well to provide a fun scene.

Star Wars in Disney Illuminations

Frozen – Let it Go & For the First Time in Forever 

Naturally Frozen is also included (and is another of these franchises that Disneyland Paris considers ‘safe’, but on this occasion it is justified by it still being Disney’s biggest film) and is totally in French. The choice seems natural, a large chunk of the scenes are in English and Frozen itself was presented in English in Dreams!, here the language is used as a differentiator.

Frozen in Disney IlluminationsOnce again, using multiple scenes makes this scene feel like it is dragging on a little but the visuals are once again enjoyable. However, the scene is popular and is always greeted with a gasp and clap for loyal fans.

Finale

The show then once again launches back into the theme song of A Dream is a wish your heart makes and brings back all the stunning visuals from the opening. Like all Disneyland Paris evening shows, this finale is spectacular and blows away audiences. As if to rub in the fact that the show was taken from Shanghai, the lyrics even do include ‘Ignite your magic dream’.

Post-Show

This is the one section of the show I will say surpasses Dreams!, whilst the Cara Dillon outro to Disney Dreams! was enjoyable, this song matched with the new high quality projections on the castle is simply mesmerizing. This section (original to Disneyland Paris) is outstanding and deserves repeat viewings.

Disneyland Paris 25th anniversary castleA mismatch of themes and stories

The issue is not the replacement of an old show, it is what is sandwiched between opening and closing which work when we take them individually (with the exception of Beauty and the Beast but do not make a cohesive whole. This is the big weakness of Illuminations, Dreams! was a journey, it had a story that simply worked and acted as the glue to keep its parts together. Illuminations has no glue and works simply as a showcase, an impressive showcase but a showcase nonetheless.

A downgrade for Disneyland Paris

Dreams! always left guests moved and completely satisfied, Illuminations simply doesn’t., it’s very skippable and that is simply because it has no heart.  That is not to say that it is devoid of quality, as previously mentioned the introduction and finale are strong, as are the Little Mermaid, Lion King and Frozen scenes, but they simply do not work together.

We have been spoiled in recent years by the best night time entertainment that Disney has even produced and whilst it feels unfair to compare a show to another, it is completely necessary where the standard has fallen significantly.

Disneyland Paris is capable of doing better, when big budget entertainment such as this goes as wrong as this it is a problem. You should always be looking to beat what has come before, Dreams! was the benchmark for Illuminations and unfortunately the grade it is given is ‘must do better’.

Disney Stars on Parade: A 100% fun parade!

Disney Stars on Parade is the new daily encounter with the Disney characters in Disneyland Park at Disneyland Paris. This new parade is full of bounce, fun and excitement and marks a real change in parade style for Disneyland Paris. Out are the old floats that have been present in Paris for ten years and in are new and dynamic floats and a soundtrack that is so fun it’ll have you bopping away and fill you with absolute joy. These eight new floats have a unique soundtrack and a unique look.

Discover the Magic

The initial float of the parade is striking. It sets the tone that this parade is very different from anything that we have
seen before and is impressive. A giant book comes down the street and on either side Mickey and Minnie wearing the now famous ‘steampunk’ costume.  These costumes are wonderfully detailed and look like something that has come straight out Discoveryland.

Mickey and Minne are followed by Goofy who is floating up and down on a jetpack who is followed by a giant telescope with Chip and Dale.

Each character on the float, much like the entire parade, are located up high up allowing everybody to get a fantastic view of the parade no matter how far back they are in the crowds, a fantastic initiative and should cut down in the last minute kids on shoulders or pushing through to the front.

Discover the Magic float in Disney Stars on ParadeThis particular float is absolutely stunning and really does set the tone for a parade that is totally unique in any Disney park – a parade based in Steampunk designs of our favourite films. The problem? Whilst this float does exactly that, it falls apart quite quickly before re-picking it up for the dragon. Whilst this is not a problem – the parade is still fantastic – it does take away from a global theme which this parade does not have.

Discover Friendship

This Toy Story inspired float has one of the most impressive kinetic effects. Whilst the characters are very much front and centre in any parade, this parade has skilfully allowed performers to bring the wow factor as well. The star of this float is the giant wheel with performers rotating around to an incredible height. In many parades, this moment would be the highlight, however in this parade it is relegated to the place of a ‘cool moment’.

The characters themselves are the usual Toy Story affair, Buzz, Woody and Jessie can be found in, or around, the float which is colourful and fun in design.

Discover Friendship float in Disney Stars on Parade

Discover Adventure

If a float was given a land as an identity, this float encapsulates Adventureland. The dancers dressed in fantastic outfits which are spellbinding and the choice of characters are very much a Disneyland Paris classic. The issue here is not so much character choice but the lack of Baloo. Baloo is present as a static element of the float and not as a character. When we think back to Disney Magic on Parade, Baloo brought a lot of fun to that segment and is a real miss on this parade.

Discover Adventure float in Disney Stars on ParadeThe Lion King/Jungle Book split is a tried and tested formula at Disneyland Paris and falls rather flat in this parade. Where Disney Stars on Parade is dynamic and fun, this float is static and lifeless. The float itself is not overly striking and does not really incite any form of excitement. The fantastic choreography and music really does carry this segment through that feels like it is only there because of the popularity of the franchises.

The biggest issue with this float though is the costume for the character of Mowgli who looks more like Fred Flintstone than the intended Jungle Book. This is an easy issue to fix however and I am confident that a solution will be worked on.

Discover Imagination

This is one of the breathtaking floats of the parade. From seeing the Lost Boys dancing in front of the float the imposing swinging pirate ship with Peter Pan. This float is a delight for the eyes, Captain Hook sits on top of Skull Rock and has a chair that can move from side to side meaning that the entire audience can get that perfect view of him, this is followed by Peter Pan hoisted extremely high on a pirate ship swinging backwards and forwards.

Discover Imagination takes on a dreamlike look with the giant moon and skull rock and is a true standout of this parade.

Discover Imagination float in Disney Stars on Parade

Discover a new world

Perhaps the least impressive of the Disney Stars on Parade units in the Discover a New World section and the only reason for this view is that it feels rather static. Essentially, the float is a giant Crush that does nothing except speak a few lines. Whilst the Crush does look very good, the parade is extremely kinetic and this float simply isn’t.

On the other hand, however, the dancers that go with this float are in some of the most beautiful costumes designed for a parade. They scream ocean and do look stunning.

Discover a new world float on Disney Stars on Parade

Discover Enchantment

The centrepiece of this parade is undoubtedly this particular unit. Maleficent returns to Disneyland Paris in this wonderful steampunk look. The float, the performers and the music are spot on in this fantastic float that does quite literally steal the show.

Whilst the fire effect is on and off (and you have to be quite lucky to see the fire perfectly), the float itself is imposing and magnificent, this is a work of art and its pleasing to hear the crowds gasp as they see her for the first time. The fire effect adds a whole new level to this, the bright yellow flames are incredible and deserve every single clap of admiration they receive from guests. Moments like this make holidays and force people to come back and tell their friends.

Discover Enchantment float on Disney Stars on ParadeIt’s rare that one float missing will significantly weaken the parade, but if this float were to be removed the parade feels much less impressive and would leave you feel disappointed. This is a testament to the design teams who have worked on this piece both in Paris and in the US.

Discover Romance

After the villain, the heroines. The princess carriages from Disney Magic on Parade return for Disney Stars on Parade providing both continuity and similarity. There is not much to be said about this particular section of the parade as it is so similar to the previous offering at Disneyland Paris. There is a strong rumour that the princesses will be getting their own float in the next year or so and it is very much-needed.

Discover Romance float in Disney Stars on ParadeNevertheless, this is still a wonderful part of the parade and the new music and choreography do make for a pleasant moment and it simply would be impossible to have a Disney parade without the princesses, the two just go together perfectly.

Discover Wonder

The grand finale of the parade is Frozen themed. This float is simply magical, it feels both like it has come straight out of the film and toy-like. This is the first time that both Kristoff and Olaf have been on parade at Disneyland Paris making this a significant attraction in itself. This float is simply fun. Kristoff leads it out, Olaf sits atop of Sven and the royal sisters are on a castle balcony. As Frozen simply gets more and more popular, it was about time that the film received a dedicated float and this one is perfect.

Discover Wonder in Disney Stars on ParadeAs the grand finale, the float also sends snow falling in the air and covers guests as they wait for it to pass by or follow the end of the parade. This effect really does add a lot in atmosphere and gives Disney Stars on Parade a magical send off.

Music

Any new parade needs a new score, and Disney Stars on Parade is no exception. Whereas Magic on Parade had one song playing in a loop throughout the entire parade, this new offering has a full score that accompanies each float making it more story-like in nature.

The main score Lost in the Magic is spectacular, bouncy and fun (and now available on CD within the resort) and as the parade progresses each float has a unique sound with echoings of Lost in the Magic throughout to create a truly linear score. It can only be hoped that one day Disneyland Paris allow us to buy the entire score just like they did for the Once Upon a Dream parade which had the same musical feature.

This parade is energetic and has music to match, this song will be a Disneyland Paris classic.

Conclusion

Disney Stars on Parade is a new and fun experience to be added into the park, with the emphasis on the fun. Parades are always highlights of days and trips and this parade will be no exception, it is possibly one of the best parades produced by Disneyland Paris and leaves the entire crowd smiling, an accolade which is truly special.

Is this Parade perfect? No. Is this Parade very strong? Almost certainly yes. Is it one of the best parades we’ve had at Disneyland Paris? I would say so. Disney Stars on Parade is a huge improvement on Disney Magic on Parade, it’s toe-tapping, smile inducing fun. And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Mission very much accomplished and bravo Disneyland Paris for trying (and succeeding) at something very different.

Star Tours: A new galaxy of adventures

Star Tours has reopened at Disneyland Paris as Star Tours: L’aventure continue. With it, a new experience of over 70 different combinations of ride meaning that there are so many reasons to do this favourite over and over again.

This new attraction takes the Star Tours experience that you know and love and expands upon it allowing for a more immersive tour across the galaxy. Whilst Disneyland Paris is the last to this arrive to this party, it certainly makes up for it in style as a Star Wars mini-land has seemingly opened up with a Darth Vader meet and greet location; a new look Star Traders and the newly opened Hyperspace Mountain experience. All these experiences, along with Season of the Force prove that Disneyland Paris is focused on being the Star Wars hub of Europe.

A slice of a Galaxy far, far away in Marne-la-Vallée

The whole rear of Discoveryland has been reimagined to create a veritable Star Wars vibe to it, this also serves a double meaning as for guests familiar with Star Tours at Disneyland Paris, it also indicates that this experience is different to what has come before.

The most striking element of the new land, aside from its openness, is that the X-Wing has moved from its plinth next to the entrance of the attraction to the top of the old Star Traders boutique (now Starport) . Certainly, this provides better visibility for the X-Wing as a ‘weenie’ and should draw more people into the area (as it it were needed) however when in the area the X-Wing is barely visible and impossible to take photos of. The previously active X-Wing is taken into a more dormant look providing an impressive approach but for no pay-off in the slightest.

It is at night where this area is most alive, the beautiful blue colours are exceptional vibrant and really does bring this outer-galaxy idea to life. It is an absolute joy to spend time in the area as it is but it can’t help but feeling like a few bits of Star Wars streetmosphere (such as the Stormtrooper patrol currently in the Walt Disney Studios park) would really help this area become much more believable as part of the Star Wars galaxy.

The queue area

The old starport aesthetic has been maintained and improved upon during the year long refurbishment. The colour is much more polished now and the darker look compliments the reworked land colouring. The new LED screens are crystal clear, the darker interior really helps bring out the colouring of these screens and thus the advertised planets. The advertisements for the destinations offered by Star Tours and the information videos on the Starspeeder 1000 are in plentiful supply and will allow for no repetition even on a slower moving queue.

The downside to the early part of the queue is C-3PO and his over-the-top safety railings. This ruins a perfect photo opportunity of the droid that is so famous from his appearances in all the films of the Star Wars franchise that people are very eager to take a photo of (or with) him. It hardly seems appropriate to have so many safety fencings around an animatronic.

The final room in the queue is a delight. From seeing RX-24 sadly boxed up, but still saying phrases from the classic Star Tours attraction, something that will bring delight to all Disneyland Paris fans, to the luggage control droid who checks each piece of baggage and talks to guests. The luggage control itself is ingenious, it is the perfect place to sneak in Star Wars and Disney references that delight fans. Only here is it possible to see Mickey’s Fantasia hat in the Star Wars universe or Buzz Lightyear’s wings.

Another not-so-hidden gem in this room is the walk way, here we see various Star Wars characters go past from each and every film. It is a small element but entertaining nonetheless and is a suitable replacement to the baggage carts overhead from the previous iteration. The final surprise is the ‘heat detector’, this is the ultimate gimmick but guests love seeing their heat pattern appear on screen and will start waving and having fun in front of the screens. It doesn’t feel like much, but it’s clearly very appreciated by guests.

The ride

The ride itself is phenominal. Whilst the clear selling point is the sheer number of scenes that can be enjoyed, the real sticking point after having ridden the ride is simply how fun it is. It is proper immersion into the Star Wars universe and a lot of fun as well. Personally, I came off each of my rides grinning from ear to ear with the amount of fun that I enjoyed. Perhaps what Star Tours: L’aventure continue does better than the original Star Tours is incorporating familiar scenes at a high intensity. Yes, the original had the Death Star trench scene which is as iconic as Star Wars comes, but this new version allows Darth Vader, Yoda, Leia etc to show up as well as the possibility to follow the Millennium Falcon.

Each planet follows a clearly different series of movements with the clear highlight being Jakku and the pausing on an angle for a few seconds. Fans of Hoth will be thrilled with the possibility to visit this planet and then zoom into hyperspace and go back to the Death Star (yes, the dream of fighting against the Death Star can still be lived in this new version). What makes this ride doubly exciting is that new scenes will be able to be slotted in with ease allowing for us to be surprised with some eventual The Last Jedi footage.

The 3D element was very well done and was utterly believable which was a nice addition as often 3D feels very gimmicky and not an enhancement to the story; here in Star Tours though, it slots right into the Star Wars universe and allows additional elements of the story to come to life.

The ride, which was already unmissable, is now even more unmissable as you will want to be riding it several times each trip in an attempt to see each of your favourite scenes. I cannot wait to return to a galaxy far, far away.

Star Traders

But the ride is not the end of the Star Tours experience. The reimagined Star Traders boutique makes a fitting ending to the experience and is Europe’s largest Star Wars shop. The selection of merchandise is sufficient for what it seeks to achieve however lacks exclusive items to Disneyland Paris. A lot of what is on offer is generic Star Wars ranges that can be found almost anywhere. Of the exclusive merchandise, there is a really nice Star Tours: L’aventure continue t-shirt, pin and keyring which each look fantastic. There is also a station where you can create your own droid which is inventive and really quite cool. A few more exclusive to Disneyland Paris ranges will make this store unique and one of the best in Disneyland Paris.

The decor is very well designed with Starspeeders in their port. Essentially the theme of this store is to look up as it is all above your head. But it exists and looks exceptional.

Starport: Meet Darth Vader

The final element of this new Star Wars mini-land is the Starport meet and greet space. There is not much to the queue area as it all takes place outside and is a simple out and back system around the edge of the old Star Traders store. Inside, however, has been themed to the Star Wars universe in a rather generic way but allows for great photos with the characters.

Darth Vader himself is a fun meet and greet from the outset. From the moment he comes to grab you from the queue to the end, it is a chilling experience. The addition of Darth Vader actually being able to talk to you is very well executed and has a wide range of phrases that allow for a fully-interactive meet and greet.

An exceptional addition to Disneyland Paris!

Star Tours: L’aventure continue is a wonderful addition to Disneyland Paris that places the resort at the centre of the European Star Wars universe. This alongside the newly launched Soirée Star Wars and Season of the Force provides guests with reasons to visit and revisit the park frequently. Even for the most casual guest, this area of the park is a welcome addition and completes the Discoveryland experience. Just like Frontierland feels strange without Big Thunder Mountain or Phantom Manor, Discoveryland really felt lacking without Star Tours – it is now back and better than ever and will allow for adventures for many years to come!

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]

12th April 2017: An unforgettable day

It was clear that the 25th anniversary day would be one of surprises from the offset. The level of secrecy that surrounded the day was unprecedented for Disneyland Paris where leaks seem to be common. The reality of the day itself was even grander than expected; the day was full of magic and saw even more sparkle pumped into the resort. This was a day created for Disneyland Paris fans and, thanks to the live streams provided by the resort, the whole world was invited!

In the lead up to the event, all the talk surrounding the day was started by the time needed to be at the resort gates. 6am seemed to be the agreed time by all and so early nights were had and alarm clocks were set. April 12th was going to be a day like no other.

An electric atmosphere

A large part to the enjoyment of any big event is the atmosphere, and for the Grand Celebration it was electric. From the moment you arrived at the resort and queued for security, there was a feeling of excitement and anticipation the likes of which is rare to experience at Disneyland Paris.

Moving through to the turnstiles, guests sang Happy Birthday to Disneyland Paris in multiple languages with guests doing their best to join in with languages they didn’t understand. It was magical. And then once in the park this only continued with guests looking on excitedly at all the things before their eyes – characters and events that perhaps they never thought possible at Disneyland Paris. It truly felt like we were a part of a once in a lifetime celebration and that everybody there knew it.

[dt_quote font_size=”h4″ background=”fancy”]”It truly felt like we were a part of a once in a lifetime celebration and that everybody there knew it.”[/dt_quote]
12th April 2017 Grand Celebration turnstile queue

The Grand Celebration

The main event was a show that took place at 9am exactly on Main Street USA. Nobody knew quite what to expect except ‘big’. There was a feeling in the air that whatever we were about to witness would be something sensational. The reality was even better, this was a show that Disneyland Paris (and Disney fans in general) could only have dreamed of. There were so many characters and performers that it was impossible to know where to look. Each time you felt like you’d seen it all, something else would come along to shock and dazzle you. Each time you blinked a new character would appear and occasionally very obscure characters at that.

The show was exceptional and gave each land it’s ‘time to sparkle’, after the VIP’s (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Chip, Dale, Clarice, Goofy, Max, Duffy and Shellie-May) introduction it was time to move onto Main Street, then Frontierland, Adventureland, Discoveryland and Fantasyland. Each symbolised by a set of characters that would be at home in these lands and each accompanied by some of the most incredible costumes that Disney has ever created for their dancers.

[dt_quote font_size=”h4″ background=”fancy”]”This show was an absolute triumph for Disneyland Paris, it proves to the world that our entertainment teams are the best that Disney has to offer and once again made Paris the envy of the Disney world.”[/dt_quote]

The grand finale of the show-based section was ingenious. The delight from fans as they heard segments of past shows mixed together to form a ‘Disneyland Paris megamix’ was infectious. This, combined with the sheer number of ultra-rare characters to the resort made this one of the most exciting few minutes of live entertainment ever produced in the resort.

The extra surprise of 1,000 cast members performing a flash mob down Main Street USA was a pure delight and added to the emotion and pride that fans take in the resort. This show was an absolute triumph for Disneyland Paris, it proves to the world that our entertainment teams are the best that Disney has to offer and once again made Paris the envy of the Disney world.

The next big landmark anniversary for the Disney parks community is the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World resort, the gauntlet has well and truly been thrown down. Disney have never before produced a show of this calibre and it is truly pleasing to see Paris be the recipient of this honour.

The Grand Celebration Cavalcades

For those who didn’t manage to see everything during the one-hour spectacular, two Grand Celebration cavalcades were laid on during the day for guests to enjoy the sight of these rare characters and beautiful costumes one more time. These cavalcades were bursting with fun and excitement and each second felt special and exciting.

The cavalcade really helped add some extra magic to the day as we were once again allowed to stand in awe of what we were in the middle of living. The energy coming from these special shows was infectious as confetti was flying all over the park as Everyday’s a Celebration blasted out of the speakers. Such was the emotion after the cavalcades that many people didn’t move wanting to secure their spot for the second showing which was an hour and a half later.

[dt_quote font_size=”h4″ background=”fancy”]”Such was the emotion after the cavalcades that many people didn’t move wanting to secure their spot for the second showing which was an hour and a half later.”[/dt_quote]

The kiss goodnight

Perhaps one of the most emotional moments of the day (which was full of emotion and celebration) was the kiss goodnight. This perfect ending saw the Everyday’s a Celebration song slowed down and the entire VIP gang back together on Main Street station to say goodnight to guests in their exclusive one day only outfits. Whilst there was not much to the show, it was a perfect farewell and closing of the day. It managed to stir some sadness deep down that such a special day was over and remains one of my favourite memories of the day.

An unforgettably magic day

When the history of Disneyland Paris is written, it is littered with amazing special events that are often billed as being once in a lifetime. It is to Disneyland Paris’s credit that they are able to pull over such magical big events; but the 12th April 2017 felt like a new chapter beginning. As lavish as an opening ceremony, this was a rebirth of Disneyland Paris and, as Catherine Powell mentioned in her moving speech, together we will help write the resort’s future. As new chapters begins, old ones must end, but this day didn’t end a chapter, it provided a nostalgia for what we have been so fortunate to enjoy at Disneyland Paris whilst also offering a small glimpse of what is to come.

The Grand Celebration was a day that made me immensely proud to be a fan, I was honoured to be in attendance and I know many at home were thrilled that Disneyland Paris live streamed the events so that many more fans could there virtually as well. It is a day that will live on in Disneyland Paris history as an extraordinarily special day and a day for Disneyland Paris fans to be immensely proud of.

[dt_quote font_size=”h4″ background=”fancy”]”It is a day that will live on in Disneyland Paris history as an extraordinarily special day and a day for Disneyland Paris fans to be immensely proud of.”[/dt_quote]

30 years of the convention: the social and economic benefits of Disneyland Paris

In March 1987 the famous convention was signed that signalled the official green light to begin construction on Euro Disneyland which was to be based around 30 minutes to the east of Paris. 2017 sees the 30 year anniversary of this landmark agreement and the official visit of François Hollande to the resort to celebrate the social and economic benefits of Disneyland Paris to the local and French economy.

In France, everything begins with a controversy, and ends with an anniversary. 

Often it is forgotten the controversy that surrounded building this big entertainment complex. It was, to some, seen as an American invasion, a degradation of the environment in the quiet and rural Seine-et-Marne département. But who could have foreseen how much Disneyland Paris would benefit not just France, but the whole of Europe? For the 30th anniversary of the convention, Disneyland paris released a report that details these benefits.

An economic benefit

Since 1992 and the opening of Disneyland Paris, the resort has benefitted the French economy by €66 billion in added value. That is indeed the headline figure of this report, the sheer reinvestment that Disneyland Paris has offered into the French economy which averages out at €2.7 billon per year (N.B. Added value here indicates the amount of money offered into the French economy that wouldn’t otherwise have been spent), the resort has paid €6 billion in tax (this figure includes VAT paid) and whilst Euro Disney has invested €7.9 billion in France, the French state has only invested €691 million. For every €1 that the French state has invested, €11.4 was privately contributed to the project and has meant that the French state has had a large return on investment in a resort that accounts for 6.2% of all French tourist spending.

Photo: Disney

The initial investment required was €5.06 billion to create the resort, the area surrounding the parks as well as the hotel complex and Festival Disney. This was topped up by a second park in 2002 which required €646 million. This money has created Europe’s number 1 tourist destination which receives more visitors per year than the Eiffel Tower and Château de Versailles combined which is aided by the fact that over 300 million people live within 2 hours of the resort

Disneyland Paris is a huge driver of spending through guests. Over the past 25 years, guests have spent over €80 billion at Disneyland Paris. In return, Disneyland Paris has become a large player on the european supplier market. In fact, over the course of its existence Disneyland Paris has spent over €3.7 billion with its suppliers; this is predominately in France (82% to be precise) but €77.5 million of this has been spent in the wider European area – the United Kingdom is the largest European supplier outside of France accounting for 30% of the resort’s expenditure outside of France. Within France, Disneyland Paris predominately sources its suppliers locally within the Ile-de-France region which accounts for 70% of the resort’s French suppliers.

Part of the 1987 agreement also saw Disney develop a local community in close proximity to the parks. Today, Val d’Europe is home to 30,000 residents who are housed in 12,000  homes. The development has also seen the creation of a new university, lycée (high school) and even a hospital. Val d’Europe has been such a success that 93% of residents recommending living or working in the area. When discussing the benefits of Disneyland Paris, it is the local area that has benefitted most of all with the region receiving a total of around €60 billion, around 87% of the total amount raised by the development.

A social revolution

Of course the benefits of Disneyland Paris on France (and Europe as a whole) go way beyond pure economics. Disneyland Paris is now home to 15,000 Cast Members (the term Disney gives to its employees) who are divided up into 52% male and 48% female which makes Disneyland Paris the largest single site employer in France. Even more impressive is that 13% of Cast Members have worked at Disneyland Paris since the opening in 1992. The average tenure of Cast Members in Disneyland Paris is 9 years with 85% of contracts being CDI (permanent positions).

Disneyland Paris also takes its responsibility to its employees incredibly seriously. In fact, Disneyland Paris have increased the number of training hours it offers over the past 5 years (2010-15) by 30% (around 400,000 hours of training per year) and has a training budget which is 3 times higher than the national minimum required by French law. Additionally, 80% of promotions to manager positions are internal recruitment meaning that Cast Members at Disneyland Paris have good progression potential.

Photo: Disney

The enormity of jobs at Disneyland Paris is not to be underestimated either. For every 3 jobs created in France, the 4th will be at Disneyland Paris. To understand why this is, we need to look at the construction of Disneyland Paris jobs: there are 500 different jobs in the resort staffed by over 100 different nationalities allowing for over 20 languages to be spoken. To recruit these talented Cast Members, Disney have hosted recruitment sessions in 12 European countries. Whilst this is a vast recruitment operation, Disneyland Paris Cast Members are comprised of 70% French nationals with the rest of Europe making up 18% of Cast Members.

Whilst Disneyland Paris itself employs 15,000 Cast Members, the real impact of the resort is much wider. The resort is responsible for 22,000 direct or indirect jobs (indirect jobs being jobs that have been created because Disneyland Paris exists) which has also seen residency rise in the area. Upon the opening of Disneyland Paris, just 32% of Cast Members lived in the Seine-et-Marne département, this has now risen to 73% and 17% of Cast Members live in Val d’Europe. The resort, therefore, has provided real social change for the local area; once a domain of farmers, it is now a vibrant area for young people to live and work.

The tourist centre of France

30 years ago, Chessy was a small village in the middle of a farming area just east of Paris. Today, it is the heart of European tourism. The train station located at the heart of the Disneyland Paris development has become the number 1 TGV hub in France with 54 towns serviced from this station ranging from Marseille to Brussels and London. All these guests flooding into the resort also need a place to stay and so Disneyland Paris has become the 5th largest hotel hub in France (behind places such as Paris and Lourdes) offering 8,500 hotel rooms (5,800 of these are offered in Disney hotels) – 49.5% of the hotel capacity in Seine-et-Marne.

Photo: Disney

The resort offers much more than a place to stay and a theme park – Disneyland Paris is also 2 conference centres, a golf course and offers guests over 115 restaurants and shops.

Only 44% of visitors come from France, with 56% of guests from elsewhere in the world (although primarily from Europe). With such an influx of foreign visitors, it is important to note that 52% of the foreign guests to the resort take the time to visit the city of Paris. Guest mood is calculated by Cast Members who survey guests around the park, each year 300,00 of these are completed to allow Disneyland Paris to constantly evolve according to guest expectations.

It’s not just France that benefits!

Whilst the big beneficary of Disneyland Paris is France and the French economy, Disneyland Paris is about much more than France. The resort has been used as a force for good across Europe. Discover how:

Germany

  • 4th most visitors from Europe (representing 12% of foreign guests to Disneyland Paris
  • Guests from Germany stay on average for 2 nights
  • A family from Germany was the 100 millionth guests at Disneyland Paris!
  • Disneyland Paris uses 58 suppliers from Germany – in particular plant suppliers.
  • 110 Cast Members are German
  • The average tenure of a German Cast Member is 10 years and are mostly attracted by the ability to use their language skills.

Belgium/Luxembourg

  • 5th most visitors from Europe (representing 11% of foreign guests to Disneyland Paris)
  • Guests from Belgium/Luxembourg stat on average 2 nights
  • Disneyland Paris uses 77 suppliers from Belgium – notably, chocolate suppliers.
  • 130 Cast Members are from Belgium/Luxembourg
  • Average stay of a Belgian/Luxembourg Cast Member is 7 years and are mostly attracted by their proximity to the resort.

Spain

  • 2nd most visitors from Europe (representing 13% of foreign guests to Disneyland Paris)
  • Guests from Spain stay on average 3 nights.
  • Disneyland Paris uses 40 Spanish suppliers – most notably for the construction of parade floats
  • There are 520 Cast Members from Spain
  • The average stay of a Cast Member from Spain is 6 years.

Italy

  • Italy represents 6% of foreign guests to Disneyland Paris
  • Disneyland Paris uses 43 Italian suppliers – most notably architect firms.
  • Italy represents the largest nationality for non-French Cast Members: around 900.
  • The average stay for an Italian Cast Member is 7 years.

Netherlands

  • The Netherlands represents 13% of foreign guests to Disneyland Paris
  • The average duration of a stay for a guest from the Netherlands is 2 nights
  • Disneyland Paris uses 63 Dutch suppliers (20% of the overall suppliers) – most notably for flowers.
  • There are 120 Dutch Cast Members who have an average length of stay of 10 years.

United Kingdom

  • 28% of foreign visitors are from the United Kingdom (The most amount of foreign guests)
  • 30% of foreign suppliers are from the UK (135 suppliers) – most notably fireworks and special effects.
  • Over 400 Cast Members come from the UK, most of these in the parades and entertainment department.

Disneyland Paris is a motor of huge economic growth and change in France, and has even seen benefits across the whole of Europe. In its construction as a unique enterprise that has seen a partnership between public and private enterprises, it is right that it has been celebrated as such by the French president. The 30 years of economic growth is only a start, Disneyland Paris will continue to grow and bring even more benefits to France and Europe.


This information has been compiled from the excellent 25 ans de contribution économique et sociale report that was published by Disneyland Paris in February 2017.

I would like to extend a big thanks to Mathias Dugoujon of Disneyland Paris for his help in obtaining this report.

How will our perception of Disneyland Paris change in 2017

A lot will be happening at Disneyland Paris in 2017. That much we already know; the indisputable event of 2017 will be the 25th anniversary of the resort, but other exciting developments will also be taking place such as Season of the Force and an expanded Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend.

But rather than asking the straight forward question of what is coming up which you can read in countless places and on social media, the better question is what will change in our minds. Disneyland Paris fans have become increasingly optimistic over the direction of the resort, but niggling doubts and negativity remains. And in the wider Disney parks community Disneyland Paris is still seen in some circles as the ugly duckling. But will that change over 2017?

Disneyland Paris is gaining in reputation

The answer to the above question is, undoubtedly. Each year and with each piece of news that Disneyland Paris releases the reputation of Disney’s European outpost increases. This is true not only with local fans but with the international segment as well. Returning to the 20th anniversary and fan appreciation of Disneyland Paris was at an all time low.

Since then Disneyland Paris has opened Ratatouille, launched a large scale refurbishment plan and swapped out annual celebrations and opted to run shorter seasonal celebrations which ensured guests experienced something very different on each visit.

This has worked, Disneyland Paris fans are consistently praising the work of those leading the parks and the quality of the refurbishments and new additions.

The big event!

This year all eyes will be on Disneyland Paris which will shortly be celebrating its 25th anniversary. The celebration is almost unprecedented, two new attractions, a new nightly evening spectacular, a brand new parade and a few new shows and happenings. On top of all of this there will be, presumably, some form of decoration in the park to create a festive atmosphere.

Disneyland Paris 25th anniversary decoration design
Decoration mock ups for the 25th anniversary

It is very difficult to imagine that Disneyland Paris emerges from this monumental event without its reputation in both the press and online communities increasing.

Season of the Force

The other big push at the moment is Season of the Force. Disneyland Paris has always suffered in the winter months after the Christmas season. Whilst many take advantage of the cheaper rates, many are put off by the colder weather meaning that the parks can be very quiet indeed.

To combat this, Disneyland Paris has launched the Season of the Force. This Star Wars themed celebration will attract many guests from a previously untapped demographic. We already know that this celebration shall be returning in the 2018 winter period, and next year will also boast Star Tours and the upcoming meet and greet in Discoveryland – Season of the Force may well be the first big celebration to span both parks!

Season of the Force team photo
Season of the Force team photo in Walt Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris

Beautiful refurbishments

The “Project Sparkle” refurbishment plan is scheduled to end this summer when Pirates of the Caribbean reopens. This schedule has been tough for fans with some key attractions closed for months at a time; the rewards of this, however, are marvellous.

Fan favourites are returning with increased colour and magic and the park genuinely is looking “as-new”. Painting a ride may seem trivial to some, but to fans it is greatly appreciated and is noticeable.

Disneyland Paris once had a reputation of being the ugly duckling of Disney resorts, but no longer. 2017 will be the year that everyone will take notice and look to book a trip.

Walt Disney Imagineering

Now for the negatives. I cannot ignore the change of Space Mountain into Hyperspace Mountain. Here’s the problem, I see this more as a reflection on WDI than Disneyland Paris – although the blame will, perhaps unfairly, land on the shoulders of the resort itself.

The reasoning is clear, Star Wars is popular and it sells. It’s easy to understand the commercial decision behind this swap and it makes commercial sense. However Disney parks have always been about more than pure commercial elements. We love the parks because of the story they tell, story is king – theoretically.

Hyperspace Mountain poster
The poster for Hyperspace Mountain which will open in Disneyland Paris in Spring 2017

As I have said, however, I feel this is a wider direction for Walt Disney Imagineering as similar switches have occurred in other parks (to Hyperspace Mountain as a seasonal change and the Tower of Terror change to a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction which is permanent.

A transformative year… and the best is yet to come!

2017 will be the year Disneyland Paris fans finally makes it. And by this I do not mean in the eyes of Disneyland Paris fans who, I think, have been careful watching the developments but to international onlookers.

Local fans have a reason to really brag about the resort and international fans a reason to visit. I cannot think of a better birthday gift for Disneyland Paris.

2016: Project Sparkle and change

The splashdown on the newly reopening Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris

2016 was a year of immense change at Disneyland Paris. Indeed, Change is the world that will define 2016 for any Disneyland Paris fan. We saw the closure of Big Thunder Mountain in late 2015, the closure of Star Tours in March of this year. Who can forget the abrupt ending to the run of Animagique which was replaced in July by the mesmerizing Mickey and the Magician? We also saw a management change as Tom Wolber returned to the Disney Cruise Line and Catherine Powell got the top job at Disneyland Paris.

Let’s take a look back at the Disneyland Paris year month by month.

January

January started looking bleak for Disneyland Paris. Two of the star attractions in the resort would be closed for the vast majority of the year. But things soon started to look up as Disneyland Paris released their list of things to look forward to. The headline attraction was the launch of a brand new show Mickey and the Magician which would be launching in the summer. We also got more details about another new seasonal show Forest of Enchantment.

Mickey and the Magician Concept Art
Mickey and the Magician Concept Art

In the way of closures, Adventure Isle closed for a major refurbishment which would last until September and the Disneyland Railroad began a short closure. The railroad would, of course, reopen in March with Main Street station following in July and Discoveryland Station reopening in March 2017. On the 31st January 2016, Animagique ended its 12 year run at the Walt Disney Studios Park and left the theatre open to refurbishment and a new show.

In more exciting news, the B&B Hotel next to Disneyland Paris finally received its inauguration. The new partner hotel includes a shuttle bus to Disneyland Paris and a Disneyland Paris boutique.

February

February will go down as the month that Forest of Enchantment debuted in Frontierland. The show mixes live vocals and fantastic visuals to create a treat for the senses. The big feature of the show was that live vocals had once again returned to the resort after years of piped in music. Forest also included athletic dance numbers and a stellar cast. The show is seasonal in Disneyland Paris, but is due to return in 2017 during the 25th Anniversary celebrations.

On the 17th February, the annual Disneyland Paris comedy show took place, the AGM. The AGM features pointless questions in the main from shareholders, but some useful Disneyland Paris information comes out of this important event. The first being this video overview of Project Sparkle, the project for getting Disneyland Paris ready for its 25th anniversary:

And this video filled with key facts and figures from Disneyland Paris and is essential viewing for anybody who wants to understand Disneyland Paris better:

 

March

March, the month that spring fever made its return to Disneyland Paris. Swing into Spring made its triumphant return to the resort and mixed in the firm fan favourites of Welcome to Spring and Goofy’s Garden Party. The Minnie’s Little Spring Train returned and this year Cheshire Cat was included on weekends.

Disneyland Paris also celebrated St Davids and St Patricks day in the way that they usually do: a short firework spectacular, a pre-parade, special shows and a Mickey and Minnie meet and greet in traditional outfits.

The new Vapiano restaurant was formally announced by Euro Disney and Vapiano. Vapiano was quoted as being looking for 5 or 6 restaurants per year in attractive sites whilst Euro Disney were seeking a diversified dining option for Disney Village.

The biggest event in March, however, was the closure of Star Tours. The attraction closed to a big fanfare as Disneyland Paris hosted a large fan event to allow fans to say goodbye in their own way. Star Tours 2: The Adventures Continue is scheduled to open in March 2017 and forms part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations.

April

April is always a special month for Disneyland Paris; the resort celebrated its 24th birthday and for its birthday Euro Disney got us an exciting gift. Tom Wolber was announced as leaving Disneyland Paris and Catherine Powell would be taking over in the summer.

We also got more information about Mickey and the Magician which was due to launch on July 2nd as well as the first rumours of the puppet show in the Lucky Nugget Saloon.

May

A rather quiet month for Disneyland Paris news. The Disney – Pixar short film festival was announced to open in the Discoveryland Theatre from the summer onwards. The new puppet show also debuted in the Lucky Nugget Saloon. The show features 3 unique shows. Two featuring the Toy Story characters and one with Mickey and friends.

June

From the 4th June, Frozen Summer Fun returned to Disneyland park. Guests could once again enjoy Frozen themed snacks and meals, the sing along show, Elsa’s return to Disney Dreams! and the royal welcome parade.

Disneyland Paris announced that Moana would be hosting a meet and greet in Disneyland Paris during the Christmas season. Pineapple Whips finally debuted in the park after a wait of months to immense fan fanfare and hype and the Disney-Pixar Short film festival opened in Discoveryland.

Away from Disneyland Paris, The Walt Disney Company opened their Shanghai Disney Resort in China with a big celebration event. The new member of the Disney Parks family is headed up by formed Disneyland Paris chief, Philippe Gas.

With a unique blend of Disney magic and the beauty of China’s cultural spirit, the design of Shanghai Disney Resort is “authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese.” That guiding principle is incorporated throughout the resort – and it’s visible here with a scene from Voyage to the Crystal Grotto, an excursion that travels the waters of Fantasyland and through the Enchanted Storybook Castle. The golden dragon is found in the attraction’s “Mulan” scene. The special nature of Shanghai Disney Resort celebrates Disney stories, and also salutes Chinese culture and design, with Wandering Moon Teahouse in Shanghai Disneyland, the Shikumen architectural features in Disneytown and original Chinese fonts for themed signage. (Kent Phillips, photographer)

July

July was probably Disneyland Paris’s biggest month of the year. It all started with a big celebration for the launch of the Mickey and the Magician show, which opened on July 2nd to great praise from the fan community. The show blends live singing, with impressive magic tricks and illusions to create a real feast for fans of live Disney entertainment. It still stands up as being one of the best stage shows that Disneyland Paris has ever created. The show takes a brief break in early 2017, but returns in time for the big launch of the 25th Anniversary celebrations.

Mickey and the Magician Finale

Catherine Powell took over as Présidente of Euro Disney SCA ushering a new era of hope and optimism in the fan community. Indeed, Catherine has already presided over changes at the company and the resort is coming out of these changes in a stronger way with a better reputation among fans.

August

If you thought Disneyland Paris took the summer months off from announcing news, then you would be mistaken. A new dining experience at the Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne was launched allowing guests to enjoy a barbecue with Goofy and Chip & Dale, this would run throughout the summer.

Season of the Force was officially announced by Disneyland Paris to run in early 2017 plugging the gap between the Christmas season and the start of the 25th anniversary festivities. Finally, the Halloween season was officially announced. Whilst nothing had changed from the previous year, it still marks the beginning of the end of summer and a move into the winter months.

September

If July was the biggest month for Disneyland Paris, then September was the most exciting. Only one really big event happened this month, but it was perhaps the most exciting of the year and saw Disney fans from across the world descend on Paris to enjoy a run. RunDisney, the Disneyland Paris half marathon was a whole weekend of fun and excitement which culminated in a half marathon (or 5k).

The event was a huge success and has been expanded to include a 10km race in 2017 in addition to all the 2016 festivities.

Disneyland Paris also announced the names of their 2 ambassadors who would take over for the 2017-18 rotation. Laura Janice Gedigk (Housekeeping – Disney’s Newport Bay Club) and Michaël Giordano (PC Ops) begin their term on the 1st January 2017.

Disneyland Paris Ambassadors 2017/18

October

The long run into the winter months begins, as always in Disneyland Paris, with the return of the Halloween season. This month-long celebration is celebrated by fans of characters and villains alike as they get to enjoy days of singing in the fall and spooky, spooky nights with their favourite villains and the arrival of Cheshire Cat as a meet and greet.

However, the big news of the month was the official announcement of Disneyland Paris’s 25th anniversary celebrations which are due to begin on 26th March 2016. Announced were a new parade, a new nighttime spectacular, new shows, Star Tours 2 and Hyperspace Mountain. The time to sparkle tagline was introduced and it is widely agreed that the 25th will perhaps be the best for a very long time for Disneyland Paris.

Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary Visual

November

November was a quiet month for Disneyland Paris. The Christmas season begun with very little in the way of fanfare, but retains all its quality entertainment spreading across the full day and the magical atmosphere takes over Main Street USA and the entire Disneyland park.

On top of this, another press release was released for Season of the Force whose arrival is hotly anticipated.

December

Whilst a quiet month in the way of news, Big Thunder Mountain finally reopened in Disneyland Park after a one year absence. The ride opened with a small opening ceremony and the first batch of guests to ride were gifted an exclusive, limited edition, newspaper from Thunder Mesa. A delightful keepsake for a momentous occasion.

The splashdown on the newly reopening Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris, along all Disney parks, commemorated the anniversary of the death of Walt Disney with a board for guests to write their memories and messages of thanks to Walt for all he has given them and to celebrate his legacy. A new line of cupcakes and macaroons were launched in Boardwalk Candy Palace designed by the Atelier des Gâteaux in Paris.

Finally, Disneyland Paris launched their first TV spot for the 25th anniversary:

2016 may have looked disappointing from the outset, but it has turned out to be one of the most exciting years ever to be a Disneyland Paris fan. The refurbishments look gorgeous and the park is looking almost as if it were 1992.

2017 will be an equally exciting year, and I’m very much looking forward to sharing it with you all – allow me to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy and healthy 2017!

Hyperspace Mountain and Discoveryland

With the announcement this week of Hyperspace Mountain arriving in Disneyland Paris there is a question that needs to be answered: What has happened to Discoveryland?

Emerging from Tomorrowland

As many fans of Disneyland Paris will know, Discoveryland emerged from the ‘ashes’ of Tomorrowland. For many years a criticism of Tomorrowland in the Disney parks was that it would become out of date relatively quickly. The idea of the vision of the future simply does not work.

Discoveryland Entrance Disneyland Paris

Enter Discoveryland in Disneyland Paris, a land with a new theme. The idea here is to tell the vision of the future seen from the visionaries of the past. The idea seems ingenious, the visionaries of the past cannot ever become out of date – the ideas may be wacky and crazy but the core themes remain constant and relevant. It was through this way that Euro Disneyland, as it was then named, also fulfilled its key aim of promoting European culture by alluding to the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.

Discoveryland: The early days

Discoveryland launched with attractions that were inspired by its core themes. Orbitron takes its inspiration from the star gazing of Leonardo Da Vinci. Le Visionarium was a Jules Verne circle vision film. This was joined by Space Mountain which took its inspiration from Jules Verne’s De la terre à la lune and the Nautilus submarine from 20 000 lieues sur les mers.

The theme worked, a collection of very strong attractions which were linked to no Disney IPs and were popular.

Space Mountain in the daylight at Disneyland Paris

The beginning of the end?

And then the changes began to arrive. Space Mountain lost its Verne theming (aside from the exterior). Then perhaps the most unforgivable (depending on who you talk to) change of all, Le Visionairium becoming Buzz Lightyear’s Lazer Blast.

Buzzlightyear Lazer Blast at Disneyland Paris at dusk

And then we began to see a calming. Things seemed to have reached a status quo.

Hyperspace Mountain arrives

The 17th October 2016, Disneyland Paris announced its 25th anniversary festivities and among it the Hyperspace Mountain which promised:

Guests will also be able to join the Rebel Alliance by becoming the drivers of Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain1 (Disneyland Park). The Force will be strong with this attraction, which hurtles through the Star Wars galaxy, following the twists and turns of TIE fighters and an intimidating Star Destroyer.

This marks a total departure from prior Discoveryland themes and raises the question of the future of the land? Will Space Mountain see any major exterior changes? Will the steam punk design remain as it is now across the land?

Space Mountain's Columbiad cannon at Disneyland Paris

Is this a destruction or an evolution?

It is difficult to say. Personally, I adore the theme of Discoveryland but this may be because I’m a bit of a Jules Verne fan and so am slightly biased. I also adore the current look and feel of the land. Discoveryland is probably the land I spend the least amount of time in, and anything that will encourage me to spend more time there cannot be a bad thing. However, I feel like a piece of the land’s identity is being ripped from it.

Nautilus submarine entrance at Disneyland Paris

Walt Disney did always say that Disneyland would never be considered completed as long as there was imagination in the world – perhaps this is a change we must accept and move on.

Let me know what you think in the comments or on social media!