Disneyland Paris 2018: The year that changed everything

Walt Disney Studios Park - Redevelopment concept art

2018

The year everything changed

2018 has been a mammoth year for Disneyland Paris. We’ve had a €2 billion expansion of the Walt Disney Studios Park announced, the inaugural Marvel Summer of Super Heroes season and the unexpected success of the Festival of Pirates and Princesses. Let’s take a look back at the year in the 2018 DLP Town Square year in review. 

January 2018

The Force returned in the second edition of Star Wars: Season of the Force. This year saw the addition of new characters including Rey, it also saw the addition of an all-new celebration of the vehicles of Star Wars in a large exhibition that took place throughout the Walt Disney Studios Park. 

February 2018

Snow filled the resort for much of February 2018, but as the resort transformed into a Winter Wonderland, a bigger transformation was being announced. The €2 billion Walt Disney Studios expansion project was announced by Bob Iger and, French President, Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace. The expansion will see Paris’ second gate double in size with attractions based on Star Wars, Frozen and Marvel. 

March 2018

The first ever Annual Pass party took place in the Walt Disney Studios Park; the event, exclusive to the Infinity Annual Pass, was entered around the 10th anniversary of The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror. 

Disneyland Paris also celebrated International Women’s Day with special events scattered throughout the park. 

Festival of Pirates and Princesses
The Festival of Pirates and Princesses exploded with colour during the Spring of 2018. With its iconic dance routines, the festival very quickly became a fan favourite - so much so that guests are once again invited to choose their sides from January to March 2019.

April 2018

The Festival of Pirates and Princesses was taking the Disneyland Paris world by storm. But also enjoyed during this month was an all-new pre-show to Disney Illuminations inspired by the Disney Nature film: Blue, this pre-show was performed before Illuminations each night throughout the month. 

May 2018

The new InsidEars platform was launched to Disneyland Paris influencers during a special event entitled ‘InsidEars Ready! 2018’. Throughout the night a number of announcements were made including the arrival of Mickey’s Philharmagic and the vital refurbishment of Ratatouille: l’aventure totalement toquée de Rémy (later cancelled). 

Disney FanDaze
The party of the year was the Disney FanDaze Inaugural Party. Everything was curated especially for the fans including Imagineering panels, shows with long-lost friends, and exclusive meet and greet with extremely rare characters.

June 2018

June was perhaps the most exciting month of 2018 for in-park events. Disneyland Paris launched the Marvel Summer of Super Heroes to the press, and to guests. 

The Disney FanDaze inaugural party also took place in June and was live-streamed across the world. 

Marvel Summer of Super Heroes
Swinging into Disneyland Paris in the Summer of 2018 was the Marvel Summer of Super Heroes. This 3 month event allowed guests to salute Captain America, dance with Star Lord and eat some extra special snacks.

July 2018

Another busy summer month for Disneyland Paris as the resort hosts Electroland, the Ant-Man and the Wasp premiere, the second Annual Pass party entered around the Marvel Universe (or, that was the intention…). 

The ever-popular food festival, the Rendez-Vous Gourmand made its return to the resort in a new expanded form with foods and drinks from across Europe. 

August 2018

The long Summer season continued, August saw for the second annual Disney PhotoPass day. PhotoPass Day is a day that now features more PhotoPass photographers across the park, many of whom are accompanied by special rare characters. 

September 2018

The 25th anniversary came to an end with a spectacular Annual Pass party held in the Walt Disney Studios Park. The resort also hosted special guided tours that highlighted the resort’s heritage in the Journées de Patrimoine. 

Later in the month the Disneyland Paris Magic Run Weekend returned with 3 special races themed around the Disney Villains. To round out the month, the very first Disney Loves Jazz party took place in the Walt Disney Studios Park, the night featured a spectacular concert with big name Jazz stars. 

Halloween
Halloween 2018 took things up a notch with it's Country-Rock anthem 'Great Big Year'. The focus on the season was a super-sized stage show that celebrated Mickey's 90th birthday, the season and Phantom Manor.

October 2018

October 1st 2018 was a big day in Disneyland Paris: Halloween started, but so did the Mickey 90 festivities and Mickey’s Philharmagic. 

Philharmagic replaced the former Star Wars: Path of the Jedi (and previously, Captain EO) in the Discoveryland Theatre and has been a moderate hit with guests. 

The giant cupcakes came to life with the Cupcake Sisters, one for each land for Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday.

The World's Biggest Mouse Party
Mickey and Minnie turned 90 during November 2018, and that needs a party! Disneyland Paris's Mouse Party did misfire in a few places, but the 'Surprise Mickey' stage show was one of the most delightful pieces of entertainment we've seen in years.

November 2018

The Mickey 90 festivities ramped up in November with exclusive merchandise making an appearance. The day itself (November 18th) was marked by a number of special items on the shelves, but no festivities in the park (or button badge). 

Christmas 2018 was launched to much fanfare, this year the season is boosted with more magic in shows like Mickey’s Christmas Big Band and Goofy’s Incredible Christmas. 

Christmas
Christmas is always a special time of year in the resort - no other park manages to do it quite as well as Disneyland Paris - and this year was no exception! With special touches for Mickey's 90th all around, this was the biggest, and merriest, Christmas celebration ever!

December 2018

The new Disneyland Paris TV spot was launched on Christmas Day on TV sets across Europe – and the world’s hearts melted as we fell in love with a duckling meeting his hero in Disneyland Paris. 

The Mickey 90 Annual Pass event also took place with special shows and character meet and greet opportunities. 

2018 was a for Disneyland Paris

2018 was the year of the hard ticket event at Disneyland Paris. But that’s not to say that those who didn’t book tickets to these festivities were not entertained, there was a boosted entertainment presence across the resort – something we’ve been needing for years. The 25th Anniversary has now been and gone, in its place are new original shows and experiences and the park is very much all the better for them. 

For attraction fans, our prayers have indeed been answered with a large investment which will fix the Walt Disney Studios Park, whilst we may need to have a lot of patience yet, it is coming and it is promising to be spectacular!

Ready for

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Exciting times ahead for the Walt Disney Studios Park

Walt Disney Studios Redevelopment - Star Wars Land

Upon its opening in 2002, it’s fair to say that the Walt Disney Studios Park has left something to be desired. The park was the victim of a lack of real investment, patchwork theme and an overall vision that seemed lost and confused. Since then Disneyland Paris have put a lot of effort into fixing this problem, and to their credit much of it has worked, including the recent expansion of La Place de Rémy in 2014. However, many of the issues remained and have been difficult to fix without a significant investment on the level of Disney’s California Adventure.

Tuesday 27th February 2018 was the day that the fortunes of this half-day Park were radically transformed. Bob Iger (Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company) announced with Emmanuel Macron (President of the French Republic) an investment of €2 billion in the Marne-la-Vallée resort which is to be used to overhaul the Walt Disney Studios Park and to effectively double its size. The plan focuses on extension, theme and the incorporation of 3 much-loved IPs into the park including Marvel, Star Wars and Frozen as well as an expansion to Toy Story Playland (2010).

Robert Iger and Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace
©PHILIPPE SERVENT / PRESIDENCE DE LA REPUBLIQUE

It’s time to dig into this in deliciously geeky detail and look at what the future holds for fans of Disneyland Paris.

Front Lot

Front Lot was always an area of the park that seemed to work, the glamour and excitement of Hollywood beckoned guests and truly does offer a lot of promise. Studio 1 was always the odd part of this set up; in the new concept art Studio 1 remains but is radically transformed and looks more fitting to the 1930s aesthetic that fits the look and feel of Front Lot.

Walt Disney Studios Redevelopment - Front Lot

I’m glad the soul of Front Lot is getting a boost rather than a subtraction. Obviously we cannot see inside Studio 1, but we can only hope that an overhaul is planned here to coincide with this new classy look of Front Lot. Exiting Studio 1 will now reveal an exceptional vista that will be difficult to beat in any Disney Park.

Toon Studio

Not much changes here, the classic Art of Animation building remains, as does Animagique Theater, Crush’s Coaster, Cars: Quatre Roues Rallaye, and Flying Carpets over Agrabah. Further round, Toy Story Playland and La Place de Rémy remain. This area was always one of the strengths of the park, so seeing little change here comes as very little surprise. It does look that the general criticism of the Walt Disney Studios Park has been ameliorated somewhat with increased greenery.

Walt Disney Studios Redevelopment - Toon Studio

The big news here is an increase in size of Toy Story Playland with what looks to be a new attraction (much like the Alien Swirling Saucers attraction coming to Walt Disney World this year). Whilst the expansion of Toy Story Playland doesn’t seem overly necessary, the new attraction is very similar to the Cars attraction and is nevertheless welcome.

Production Courtyard

Again, there’s not a huge amount of change here. Studio Theatre remains pretty much untouched and the biggest surprise was that The Hollywood Tower Hotel looks set to remain welcoming guests. The only question mark hangs over the old Disney Channel building which does look a little different but no detail was provided as to what will become of it. It seems likely that it will become part of the MARVEL area of the park.

Walt Disney Studios Redevelopment - Production Courtyard

MARVEL

Backlot will be unrecognisable following this redevelopment. In its place a MARVEL area which looks to feature at least 4 big attractions (including the recently announced Iron Man takeover of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster). Departing are Armageddon: Les effets spéciaux and Moteurs Action… Stunt Show Spectacular, a move that fans are unlikely to bemoan.

The Stunt Show stands are still clearly visible in this concept art, which would make sense if we are to get a new stunt show based on the Avengers. The same applies for Armageddon, the building looks to be staying but with new hosts. Next to Armageddon is a new building and a Quinjet, which look as if they close off the path behind the Tower of Terror; unfortunately this will likely see us lose a piece of Disney history in Café des Cascadeurs.

Walt Disney Studios Redevelopment - Marvel Land

On the left hand side of this land stood the two restaurants: Restaurant des Stars and Disney’s Blockbuster Cafe. These look to have been removed in exchange for a more flashy building exterior, the building is pretty sizeable and so could welcome something of a reasonable size.

The look and feel of the area is very modern yet sleek and so could easily pass off as futuristic and whilst we know the Marvel look is coming we have very little idea as to what these buildings will contain. The incorporation of MARVEL into a previously unsightly area of the park is an ideal fix and does improve dramatically the biggest issue facing Walt Disney Studios Park. A comprehensive MARVEL themed zone in Paris as well as the new hotel will be a significant draw for fans of MARVEL and could very well see Paris as THE place to be for MARVEL fans.

STAR WARS

Remember looking on jealously when Star Wars Land got announced for Walt Disney World and Disneyland? Remember that jealousy bring upped when it became Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Batuu? Then seeing it in Star Tours in Paris? Now, we will shortly be able to boast our own Star Wars land!

Walt Disney Studios Redevelopment - Star Wars Land

On the concept art the land looks to be smaller than its American counterparts, but this could easily just be the artist impression and not wanting to show us everything. The architecture of the land does look very similar with its canyons and yellow domes, we can also spot a black X-Wing sitting there. Again, we have no indication as to what to expect from this land in the way of attractions, the US Star Wars areas will contain multiple attractions, shops and restaurants and it is difficult to see Paris deviating from this model.

Interactive experiences were mentioned by Bob Iger as he announced this expansion and so we can only hope that Star Wars will take full advantage of this. It’s thrilling to see this land being incorporated into Disneyland Paris and it will undoubtedly be incredibly popular upon opening. Star Wars is a huge franchise and its representation at Disneyland Paris has always been strong, but this is next level which Paris needed to match when faced with its American cousins. It looks like the challenge has been raised and met and this will become an integral part of the expansion upon completion.

FROZEN

Potentially the biggest Disney animated film ever finally gets a land in the Walt Disney Studios Park, this decision simply makes sense. The Frozen theme fits perfectly with the idea of creating an immersive landscape featuring potentially shops, restaurants and a big attraction. Imagine being able to eat dinner in the company of Anna and Elsa in Arendelle, this could be the potential big money spinner.

Walt Disney Studios Redevelopment - Star Wars Land

On a level of this concept art, we can see both the castle of Arendelle, a little village and Else’s Ice Castle which will be directly opposite the park entrance, something that will provide a stunning vista upon leaving Studio 1. The land looks much like the proposed Hong Kong Frozen land which, when we dive into Hong Kong concept art, gives us a clue as to what will be featured here. Frozen has a ton of characters that each provide a deep layer of the Arendelle universe to explore and in addition, by the time this area of the park opens we will have a Frozen sequel that will be able to be built into this area.

Frozen is a natural choice and rounds off the new lands in perfect style, the visual of the ice castle emerging will provide a stunning backdrop to the Walt Disney Studios Park and means that there truly is something in this expansion for everyone.

Lakes and Landscaping

But new lands are not where this expansion and investment ends, a large criticism of WDS was the lack of landscaping. These criticisms have been completely brushed away with the increase in size with more room afforded to greenery but most importantly (and impressively) a lake will be built as a hub for the park. The lake will become a wonderful and beautiful part of the park which will likely see shows performed on it and the route around the lake seems as if it will be given a parade.

Walt Disney Studios Redevelopment - Star Wars LandThe lake looks to be absolutely stunning, and is an interesting enough shape. Walking around it is likely to be an absolute pleasure. It looks as if a lot of effort has gone into making the park LOOK good and feel like a pleasant place to be, obviously this is just a concept and things can and will change but as a statement of intent it is impressive.

Walt Disney Studios Redevelopment - Star Wars Land

OVERALL THOUGHTS

We have been crying out for years for something like this (in fact, anything that would make the Parisian second gate better), and now it is here it feels a little overwhelming. I will admit that I’m still sitting grinning with delight over this expansion and will continue to do so for years to come. Many will have feared that an expansion would see only Marvel or Star Wars properties coming to the park, but not the case as Disneyland Paris really is catering for all fans.

Walt Disney Studios Park - Redevelopment concept art

Equally important is that from what we so far know, this investment will be predominately for the Walt Disney Studios Park, Disneyland Park will not be touched by this large investment of intellectual property. There is something pure about this, Disneyland Park has a lot of soul and whilst it would be fantastic to see investment head there, the Studios needs it and is the ideal place to incorporate all these IPs in a way that feels cohesive and sensible. The park will look and feel fantastic and that is a win for everybody.

The rollout of these changes will be from 2020 – 2025 and undoubtedly there will be a gradual influx of news as we go. Disneyland Paris is transitioning from a future of ‘what is happening next, there is nothing on the horizon’ to being genuinely one of the most exciting Disney developments ever.

It’s going to be a fun ride, and I can’t wait to share all the information and opinions (and listen to your views) as we go along.


ED92 Podcast Promo - WDS ExpansionTo discuss this large re-development of the Walt Disney Studios park, I was invited onto the ED92 podcast to join ED92‘s Ben, CuriousAxel and Michael McNeela. The podcast is avaliable now to download on all good podcasting networks including the Apple Podcasts app

Review: Season of the Force 2018

In 2017, Season of the Force made its debut in Disneyland Paris. The season was centred in the Walt Disney Studios Park and was widely regarded as a success by both fans and regular guests. In 2018, the season made its welcome return and featured activities in the Walt Disney Studios park and a number of (year-round) Star Wars attractions in Disneyland Park that were closed for refurbishment during the 2017 season.

Boosted returning features

The main features of Season of the Force were in fact the same as last year with shows including Star Wars: A Galaxy far, far, awayStar Wars: A Galactic Celebration and First Order March. These events are slightly modified this year either to take into account Star Wars: The Last Jedi, to increase the presence of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story or to take best advantage of increased technology installed in the park since last year. These additions blended seamlessly into the shows and indeed sometimes allowed for parts of the shows to be reworked, the result was a more enjoyable show which takes better advantage of new additions to the saga that have proven to be so popular.

X-Wing in Disneyland Paris for Season of the Force

In the two main stage shows, Rey finally makes an appearance as a character on-stage which really does allow for Disneyland Paris to take advantage of this incredibly popular (and important) character in the saga. Also added were the Death Troopers from Rogue One which look incredible.

The First Order March has seen a significant boost in Stormtroopers parading which is also very welcome as last year was in some ways lacking in that department (although the show was still fantastic to watch). This has the added bonus of allowing more guests a better view of more Stormtroopers. The main element of the show has not been significantly changed and is still short although enjoyable (particularly when paired with Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far, Away which can take place just 2-3 minutes later).

First Order March at Disneyland Paris Season of the Force

Amazing decorations

Perhaps the biggest addition this year (both literally and metaphorically) is the addition of Star Wars vehicles in the Walt Disney Studios park. Words cannot emphasise how big some of these vehicles are; the Tie Fighter which hangs over the exit of Studio 1 is especially impressive and has a distinct wow factor, especially when paired up with the X-Wing which faces it. These vehicles are all fan creations, but the level of detail and quality is exceptionally strong.

Tie Fighter - Disneyland Paris Season of the Force

A special mention must go to the fact that Disneyland Paris has not forgotten Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in the exhibition of vehicles, these little touches and explanatory plaques were a lovely surprise for the season and we can only hope that they return next year.

Combat Assault Tank - Rouge One Disneyland Paris

Star Wars: Also in Disneyland Park

Whilst not ‘special’ for Season of the Force it must be mentioned that this year Star Wars has a presence in Disneyland Park. Unfortunately this was lacking last year due to the refurbishment of Star Tours and Hyperspace Mountain, we have also seen the addition of Darth Vader at Starport and Star Wars being included in Disney Illuminations. Whilst these additions are not special for Season of the Force, they do enhance the Star Wars presence in the resort and so can only be a positive for any Star Wars fans planning a trip.

Star Tours in Disneyland Paris

Looking forward to 2019

With Disneyland Paris focusing on these exciting seasonal events, it is quite likely that Season of the Force will return for a new round in 2019, it can also be assumed that Disneyland Paris will be tweaking what things during the preparation time as we run up to January 2019. The big missing thing from Season of the Force is the distinct lack of Star Wars character meet and greets; it is true that Darth Vader and Stormtroopers can be met, but we are missing characters from the new trilogy and any characters from the Light Side. We can only hope that this is something that Disneyland Paris can work on to win some easy points next year.

Final thoughts

Season of the Force is a very fun season that grows year on year, this year the modifications and additions are very strong. The season has a firm base on the Disneyland Paris calendar and it can only be hoped that it continues to grow and boost the appetite for Star Wars in Disneyland Paris in the years to come.

2017: A coming of age story

Disneyland Paris 25th anniversary confetti

If 2016 was the year best summed up by the word ‘change’, then 2017 is very much a year in which Disneyland Paris has come of age. The resort has grown over the course of the last 12 months in ways that will have seemed far-fetched just 12 months ago. It has been a year in which major events have taken place both within the park and at company level. As we leave 2017, it is time to reflect on another amazing year for Disneyland Paris but a time to head into 2018 with a sparkle in our eyes as we look forward to what is to come.

Let’s reflect on 2017 now month-by-month and see how Disneyland Paris has grown into something new.

January

As the 2016/17 Christmas season came to an end, all eyes turned to the Walt Disney Studios park which would, for the very first time, host an entire seasonal celebration by itself. Season of the Force aimed to break the deadlock of what has traditionally been a silent season for the resort. The season featured a brand new projection show on The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror which took place nightly; Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration was an instant hit and blended project mapping, pyrotechnics and a stage show. This was joined by Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far, Away and the First Order March.

Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration at Disneyland Paris

February

Whilst Season of the Force would continue up until the 26th March 2017, February was a month in which Disneyland Paris celebrated a landmark moment in its history. The 1987 convention was signed 30 years ago and to celebrate, Disneyland Paris was joined by the then-president of France François Hollande in order to launch their 25 ans de contribution économique et sociale report. The report detailed how Disneyland Paris has affected both the local, French and European economy over the 25 years of its existence. The event kick started the 25th anniversary celebrations in a way that added some gravity to the celebrations – whilst we, as fans, may celebrate the existence of the resort, Disneyland Paris has had real social and economic change in an area that sorely needed it.

March

The 26th March 2017 was the official opening of the 25th anniversary, but the celebrations really started the preceding day with a press event like no other. With it, Disneyland Paris launched a new parade (Disney Stars on Parade); a new nighttime spectacular (Disney Illuminations); new shows (Mickey Presents: Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris, The Starlit Princess Waltz); a new attraction (Star Tours: L’Aventure continue); and a sparkling blue overlay that would transform Main Street USA for the coming celebrations.

Disneyland Paris 25th anniversary decorations on Main Street USA

Meanwhile in Disney Village, a new branch of Five Guys opened next door to Vapiano. With the opening, Disney Village really does feel like it is expanding into a destination in its own right.

April

On April 12th 2017 Disneyland Paris officially turned 25 years old and to celebrate a special day of events was organised. The Grand Celebration took place between 8am and 10pm in Disneyland Park and saw a special show, parades, meet and greets and celebratory atmosphere. The Grand Celebration drew large crowds, many queueing to enter the park from 5am in order to guarantee a good spot in the park for the Grand Celebration show; the show was an hour long spectacular that was streamed worldwide and saw many rare and exciting Disney characters, a large number of whom were making their Disneyland Paris debut.

Goofy at the Grand Celebration at Disneyland Paris on April 12th 2017

The Grand Celebration was a day that Disneyland Paris fans will never forget.

May

With the 25th anniversary now in full-swing, it would be forgiven to think that the resort would become more quiet, however the opposite is true. In May, Disneyland Paris hosted the European premiere for Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead men tell no tales was the US and International title). Whilst the film was screened in the Gaumont cinema in Disney Village, Disneyland Park (and Central Plaza) hosted the red carpet event including a small show, interviews for guests and the live stream and local and international media.

Johnny Depp with the Jack Sparrow Animatronic at Disneyland Paris

Smaller events took place park-wide and we got our first glimpse of the Jack Sparrow animatronic in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean renovation as official photos were released with Johnny Depp and the animatronic.

June

On June 19th 2017 Euro Disney SCA was withdrawn from the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange following a buy-out of shares by The Walt Disney Company, this was then followed by a mandatory buy-out of all remaining Euro Disney shares for €2 each. This meant that Euro Disney SCA became a fully owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. This is perhaps the most momentous day of the year as it represents a significant shift in how Disneyland Paris is owned and operated, the results of which are starting to be seen but it will take a significant amount of time further to see the full effects of this process.

The Dutch Garden at Disney's Newport Bay Club, Disneyland Paris

A temporary Dutch Garden was created at Disney’s Newport Bay Club hotel; this beautiful, yet temporary, feature outside the front of the hotel. The garden included 115 varieties of flowers.

July

Perhaps the busiest month of the Disneyland Paris year. At the start of the month the Forest of Enchantment returned for a summer engagement at the chaparral Theatre in Frontierland. The show was slightly updated for the new season including a backing screen and some small content changes.

On 4th July 2017, Disneyland Paris launched their Tuesday is Guest Star Day mini-parade. Each Tuesday a different rare character will be highlighted with a small mini-parade before Disney Stars on Parade. The name is inspired by the ‘Tuesday is guest star day’ feature on the old Mickey Mouse Club television show.

On 8th July 2017 the very first Electroland music festival took place at the Walt Disney Studios Park with acts including NERVO, Steve Aoki and Richard Orlinkski.

Disney's Hotel New York: The Art of Marvel concept art for Disneyland Paris

During the Disney Parks and Resorts panel at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Disney announced that Disney’s Hotel New York will be given a Marvel renovation to become Disney’s Hotel New York: The Art of Marvel. We do not yet know much about this renovation other than it will include characters such as “Iron Man, The Avengers, Spider Man and more”. Disney’s Hotel New York will close for the renovation in October 2018 and works are expected to last one year.

Finally, at the end of July, Disneyland Paris opened the renovated Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. This renovation features Captain Jack, new effects, a new auctioneer scene, a Hector Barbossa animatronic and other surprises. This was a well done renovation that is both exciting and puts some new energy into a Disneyland Paris classic.

August

In 2017 a quiet month was a rare occurrence, but August was a month in which very little happened.All the summer entertainment and long opening hours continued for the entire month. But, on the last day of the month there was a hint that September was not going to be so quiet.

September

On September 1st, Disney FanDaze was announced. This was followed later in the month by a special bloggers event that was aiming to whip up excitement in the fan community.

Disney FanDaze characters

Whilst FanDaze was seeking to create excitement for Summer 2018, there was still plenty going on in the month. Towards the start of the month the Rendez-Vous Gourmand took place in La Place de Rémy. This small-scale festival showcased the regional food and drink of France at taster portions at good prices and was a real success.

RunDisney returned in 2017 for its second edition. This year the event grew to include a 10km race in addition to the 5km and half marathon of last year.

October

October saw both the first day of the new-look Halloween celebrations and the first edition of Extra Magic Time. Halloween was given a 25th anniversary make over with shows including Goofy’s Skeletoon Party and Mickey’s Halloween Tricycle Gang. Frontierland was redesigned with a Day of the Dead theme. The season was packed with fun and ended with a spectacular Halloween party on October 31st.

Mickey and Minnie in their Mexican Outfits at Disneyland Paris

Extra Magic Time replaced the Extra Magic Hours, the primary difference was that the extra time was now only one hour instead of two but spread across two parks. Whilst this change was met with both surprise and a level of scepticism, the changes have allowed for increased choice for guests, which can only be a good thing.

Then, at the end of the month in London, Disneyland Paris announced the Marvel Summer of Super Heroes that will take place in the summer of 2018 as the finale of the 25th anniversary celebrations. The setting of the announcement in London was symbolic in that it took place at MCM Comic Con which symbolised a branch being held out to new guests who would not usually visit Disneyland Paris.

November

Every November Disneyland Paris launches a new edition of Disney’s Enchanted Christmas, and this year was no exception; however what is perhaps the exception is the magnitude of this year’s celebrations. This year was quite possibly the biggest Christmas season that Disneyland Paris have ever produced featuring a new projection show; multiple new stage shows; new music and meet and greets. The festive spirit was very much alive at Disneyland Paris in 2017.

Mickey's Christmas Big Band at Disneyland Paris

Perhaps the highlight of the season is Mickey’s Christmas Big Band which really does represent a renewed focus at Disneyland Paris for live music, signing and dancing.

December

For the Christmas period in 2017 (and continuing into early 2018), Disneyland Paris performed Mickey and the Magician in French sign language for the very first time. This new way of presenting the show was presented as a co-operation between the Entertainment, Mission Handicap, Accessibility and Operations teams. A great initiative to end the year!

Mickey and the Magician Finale

A year of transition, excitement and promise!

2017 has been a year that has seen Disneyland Paris transition into a fresh destination, one that offers excitement around each corner and one that has a lot of promise for the future. 2017 feels like a turning point for Disneyland Paris, and the future looks bright.

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!

Season of the Force – Reviewed!

First Order March

Disneyland Paris: Where Star Wars lives. That was the marketing tagline for the new Season of the Force celebrations in Disneyland Paris. But does this season deliver? Is it enough to draw guests from Disneyland Park to the Walt Disney Studios Park?

The gamble

Season of the Force was a gamble. Launching a brand new seasonal celebration, which includes a large evening projection show on the Tower of Terror, at this time of year is a big risk. The early months of the year in Disneyland Paris are notoriously quiet, it is the time to visit if you want to avoid people and walk right on to the rides and minimise your wait for characters.

So did the gamble pay off?

Partially. Walt Disney Studios Park feels quite a lot busier. Especially when compared to Disneyland Park next door, and noticeably so. It was a good thing to see, the Walt Disney Studios Park has finally come into its own, and that should be applauded.

First Order March

Part of the Season of the Force celebrations is the First Order March which sees Captain Phasma march through the park with her squadron of Stormtroopers. She then stops at the new stage, a stage especially erected for the Season of the Force, and commands an overwhelming show of force. It is a very carefully choreographed display that is enjoyable to watch. Once.

First Order March
First Order March

The show falls sort of flat upon repeat viewing, there are only so many times you can enjoy Stormtroopers walking in formation and marching around a stage in the same formation.

That isn’t to criticise the happening too much. This is a fun little happening that deserves a watch once on the stage, and a second watch as they march through the park. Perhaps this show would be more effective if it was a random happening that was unannounced.

Stormtrooper Patrol

This was a cool idea, in theory. There were visions of Stormtroopers wandering around the park, looking menacing and interacting with guests in a fun and unique way. Yes, they would stop for pictures but it would be a potentially different style of character event.

The reality? Well, it was a bit different. Two Stormtroopers appeared, took photos with guests in one location. Moved to a second, took more photos and went inside. It was a cool character meet, the troopers had some very cool dialogue lines that sounded menacing and added a cool layer of interactivity to the meet.

Star Wars: A Galaxy far, far away

The centrepiece show during the day time was Star Wars: A Galaxy far, far away. This spectacular show was a real highlight of the celebrations and was clearly designed to show off the characters from the saga but it works. The show is both a spectacular event and a fitting tribute at the same time.

Star Wars: A galaxy far, far away
Star Wars: A galaxy far, far away

The show brings out the Star Wars fan in everybody and takes the best bits from the saga and displays them wonderfully. The character appearances will make even the hardest person to please grin with joy. This is fan service at its finest….

Star Wars: A Galactic celebration

Or rather, it was fan service at its finest. Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration goes one further. This is the focal point of the Season of the Force celebrations. The Tower of Terror becomes a focal point for a projection extravaganza. The stage-based elements are not overly different to that of A Galaxy far, far away, though there are a few subtle differences. The real star is the projections. Various scenes from the Star Wars saga are projected onto the tower.

Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration
Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration

The show is designed to drag you away from Disneyland Park and Disney Dreams! and to allow you to enjoy alternative entertainment. This is the first time the Walt Disney Studios park has offered evening entertainment and it truly is top quality. The choice between Dreams! and this is a difficult one and this is a show deserving of its guests. The only wish is that this show was on every night, year round!

Overall impressions

Season of the Force has shown a promising start. Is it the greatest season Disneyland Paris has ever produced? Of course not. It is, however, a delightful way to spend a day in Disneyland Paris during the low season. It achieves its secondary goal by bringing a new demographic to the resort and potentially allowing them to discover the magic that is created when visiting a Disney park.

Is it enough to drag you away from Disneyland Park? No, not completely. But it is enough to drag you away from Disneyland Park for the evening and enough to drag you away from other rides and attractions in Walt Disney Studios during the day time. For a more serious Star Wars fan, it is almost certainly enough to drag you to Disneyland Paris. Imagine Season of the Force 2018 spanning two parks and including a new meet and greet location and Star Tours: The Adventures Continue.

Disneyland Paris really is making a name for itself as the place where Star Wars lives.

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!

Season of the Force is the Season Disneyland Paris was looking for

Problem. Once the Christmas season has reached its conclusion, the weather in Marne-la-Vallée turns cold. Very cold. Most theme parks in this part of Europe close for the Winter period, but not Disneyland Paris. It is a year round operation, but they don’t need to close – a lot of Disneyland Paris is indoors. But the resort does suffer during this part of the year, crowds are lower and prices are also lower. And suddenly, along comes a new season with the aim of changing all that: Season of the Force.

What is Season of the Force?

The Season of the Force will take place in Disneyland Paris between 14th January until 26th March 2017, the season will include shows and events relating to the Star Wars saga at the Walt Disney Studios Park.

Shows will attempt to pull guests towards either the Dark side or the Light; the first order will march through the Walt Disney Studios Park with a special appearance from Captain Phasma; there will be meet and greets and Stormtrooper Patrols across Production Courtyard as they hunt out the rebel spies. All this accumulates in the finale of the day during this season, a special Star Wars projection show on the Tower of Terror – but this is no simple projection show, it’ll also feature live characters in the park.

Season-of-the-force-DisneylandParis
X-Wing Visual from Star Wars: Season of the Force at Disneyland Paris

The Walt Disney Studios Park as focus

The Walt Disney Studios park occupies an odd place at Disneyland Paris. On one side of things, it is a park that is loved by the management. If Disneyland Paris is getting something new, it’s likely to be at the Walt Disney Studios Park. Take a moment to think about it: Tower of Terror, Crush’s Coaster, Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, Ratatouille, Toy Story Playland and most recently, Mickey and the Magician.

However, what is unique about Season of the Force is that a season has taken the Walt Disney Studios Park as its focus – this is something new. Seasonal celebrations have tended to shy away from the younger park. Christmas has managed to seep into the Studios in the form of a few lights, a modified entrance loop and, in the past, a special parade soundtrack. But this is new, the Walt Disney Studios Park is being given the opportunity to shine in their own right.
Darth-Vader-Season-of-the-force-DisneylandParis

A long critique of the second gate in Paris is that it simply is not a ‘full-day’ park. Providing Mickey and the Magician is extended, this winter could very easily be a season where one could enter the park at 10am and not leave until closing time of 6 or 7pm. The most notable reason for this is the Star Wars projection show on the Tower of Terror.

Star Wars at Disneyland Paris – A brief history

Star Wars has quite the history at Disneyland Paris, and the Season of the Force is not the first, nor will it be the last, time that the popular intergalactic saga will be a major part of a Disneyland Paris trip. Star Tours is one of the staple attractions in Disneyland Paris and will, in March, see an upgrade to Star Tours 2: The Adventures Continue. Since July 2015 young Jedi have been able to train alongside Jedi masters in order to defeat Darth Vader in the Jedi Training Academy.

Disneyland Paris also experimented last year, upon the release of The Force Awakens, with a Star Wars Night. The event was a moderate success and seems to have served a wider purpose, that being preparing for the eventual Star Wars season. The Star Wars season has been a long time coming, variants have taken place for a long period in the American resorts varying from seasons to the ever-popular Star Wars Weekends.

Amazing timing. Or terrible timing?

There is a real buzz around the Star Wars saga at the moment. Disneyland Paris have been terrible in handling this recently, for example closing Star Tours immediately following the major success of The Force Awakens, an event that should have been planned years in advance. In fact, the opening of Star Tours 2: The Adventures Continue will be directly as the Season of the Force concludes in Disneyland Paris. Could this Star Wars offering be run simultaneously with the 25th Anniversary in Disneyland Park? This addition also misses the Rogue One buzz – however it could also ride the tails of its success. Hopefully Disneyland Paris place an advert for this new season before the film this Christmas.

StarToursCloseUP

However, having said all this, Disneyland Paris are inviting a new audience to visit the park as a real Star Wars destination in a period that is usually ignored by travelling tourists. This season will be measured on how well it manages to bring in crowds in a season that traditionally is less visited. In this sense, it can only succeed.

A wonderful addition

It’s about time that Disneyland Paris got its own Star Wars additions in the line up. The fact that there is very little in the parks already that celebrates this film is almost crazy. The return of Star Tours will be a wonderful day. This season acts as a filler in the Disneyland Paris calendar, and it is hard to think of a stronger filler. This will attract new fans, new guests and create a real buzz around a Walt Disney Studios Park that has become a day-long affair.

As somebody who likes Star Wars, I cannot wait to experience this season in the Winter. It’s time to brush out the hat, gloves and scarf and embrace a new season in Disneyland Paris!