How Disneyland Paris celebrated its birthday on 12 April 2012

To celebrate its 20th Anniversary on 12 April, Disneyland Paris threw one big party for all guests to enjoy. In the morning, over 2000 Cast Members from all over the Resort presented a flashmob to the beats of “Magic Everywhere”. This was concluded with two planes of the French Air Force Stunt Team forming a 20 behind Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.

Inside Videopolis a master class with Tony Baxter (Senior Vice President, Creative Development, Walt Disney Imagineering) took place. He talked about the creation of Disneyland Paris and some of its challenges. He revealed for instance that there was no budget for the Disneyland Hotel at the entrance of Disneyland Park, it was just supposed to be a façade. But they were able to convince Michael Eisner to drop one of the Lake Disney hotels and build Disneyland Hotel instead. Tony also revealed that Imagineering had the same budget as they had for Tokyo Disneyland, but they were able to spend the money better on show elements by making the right decisions. Instead of building a completely covered Main Street like in Tokyo Disneyland, they opted for the two arcades on each side of Main Street, which were a lot cheaper. The rest of the budget was used to put in more details. Tony also shared his interpretation of the Phantom Manor storyline, but that is something you have to see Tony in his own words. Our friends at DLRP Magic! filmed the entire presentation, which can be seen here.

Throughout the day each land hosted its own celebration-show starring the Disney characters. Main Street, U.S.A. hosted a show with Mary Poppins and Duffy the Disney Bear, Fantasyland with Mickey, Minnie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Discoveryland with Stitch and Angel, Frontierland with Goofy, Max and the Country Bears and finally Adventureland brought Baloo, the monkeys and Mowgli on the stage.

The Disney Ambassadors from Disneyland California, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland all flew in to join the celebrations as well. They opened the Disney Magic on Parade in the Main Street Fire Truck.

The surprisingly sunny day ended with the enchanting Disney Dreams!, part of the year long 20th Anniversary celebrations.

20th Anniversary press weekend: Generation Disneyland and merchandising

Disney’s Hotel New York was the place were the press and invitees were welcomed and were given their press kits. But there was more than just goodie bags at the Convention Center reception. A small photo exhibition called “Generation Disneyland” was placed nearby. It featured photos of guests from around the time Disneyland Park opened, along with a near identical photo taken a few weeks ago; complete with the same outfits, props etc.

A large selection of Disneyland Paris 20 merchandise was on display as well, featuring the wonderful retro-style drawings of the entire Resort.

20th Anniversary press weekend: Q&A with Steve Davison, Kat de Blois, Katy Harris

As part of the press weekend, our group of fan websites were invited for a special Q&A with the creators of the 20th Anniversary entertainment: Kat de Blois (Disney Magic on Parade), Katy Harris (Disney’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Train) and Steve Davison (Disney Dreams!).

Steve Davison explained how he was asked by Disneyland Paris Marketing to come up with a new nighttime spectacular, 2 years ago. The show had to be colourful and have a storyline, similar to what’s being offered at the other Disney Resorts around the world. He came up with the Peter Pan storyline while staying over at the Disneyland Hotel where Peter Pan and Tinker Bell are used in the design throughout the hotel. The show was created with the help of several departments, including: Walt Disney Creative Entertainment (part of Walt Disney Imagineering), Disneyland Paris Entertainment, Pixar and Disney Feature Animation. Besides animation, all kinds of other technologies had to be used to bring the show on the Castle moat, which required weeks and weeks of programming and fine tuning.

Before starting with the actual Q&A, Steve Davison made very clear that Disney Dreams! was created exclusively for Disneyland Paris, and that the online rumours about this show going to Walt Disney World were not true at all.

In the Q&A, Steve talked more about the creation of the show and some of the difficulties, like working with Sleeping Beauty Castle which is three dimensional and required special 3D-mapping to make sure all the projections wrapped around the Castle. A 3 meters tall model of the Castle was build in California where the show projections were tested on before the first tests took place in Disneyland Paris.

- On a question about changing the show for the seasons or adding new scenes, Steve answered this is a possibility. Although all the infrastructure is permanent (water screens, fountains, projectors), none of the show scenes are. It is easy to take out a scene like Step in Time and replace it with that of a new Disney movie or another classic. He used World of Color as an example as it will receive a new scene this summer.

- We from Photos Magiques asked on which basis the different movie scenes were chosen. Steve explained that there were different reasons to chose for a certain scene. Some of them because it fitted Peter Pan’s shadow best, others because of the music and others just because they were very fitting for the park, like the Hunchback of Notre Dame scene.

- On the question if there was something he tried to do, but turned out to be impossible, we got a clear: yes! One of the ideas was to project on the water screens from both the back and front to get a clearer image. But this turned out not to work because of the way the water moves. Katy and Kat did mention they were still trying to improve the technology to make this happen in the future.

- “Rod Serling” from Disney Central Plaza asked who approached Steve to develop Disney Dreams: Disneyland Paris or The Walt Disney Company? He said the question came from Disneyland Paris, who looked at 4 different concepts; these were all called Disney Dreams! In fact it was the marketing department that wanted a year long nighttime spectacular in the park.

- Steve talked more about how the storyline was chosen, which involved a lot of different people, including Disneyland Paris entertainment, John Lasseter, Tom Staggs and Tom Fitzgerald. It was John Lassester who had a lot of fun coming up with ideas for the Shadow.

- Kat explained Central Plaza and Main Street, U.S.A. are able to host about 15,000 guests for the show. Disney Dreams! has been designed in such a way that even from half way Royal Castle Stage it can be watched without losing out on the story line. There are even special animations on the sides that can only be seen from that angle.

- Max from Designing Disney asked if special pyrotechnics were developed for this show. This was not the case, however they did make sure the fireworks was usable on a daily base, with a minimum of fall out and limited noise. They also made sure large parts of the park will remain open while the show is running. Disney Dreams! can also be adjusted during different weather conditions, it can run without the fountains, without fireworks or even the water screens.

- On our question if there was a “splash zone”, Steven answered there was limited waterspray in front of the Castle. However, they had problems with water running of the Castle Bridge, but this was fixed by adding a new water drain at the base of the bridge.

- The water screen equipment inside the Castle Moat and the projectors will be themed soon. Due to late changes, the theming elements no longer fitted so they have to be redesigned.

- A few fans pointed out about the winter conditions in Marne-la-Vallée, but Steve and Katy reassured the water would not freeze that fast. Although it’s not salted, the pipes are heated and there is a constant movement so it wouldn’t freeze that fast. Steve added there are also going to be daytime shows, which will be a first in the history of Disney theme parks to have watershow in front of a Disney Castle.

- Someone asked if there were any hidden details in the show, like the little Squirt fountain in World of Color. Steve joked there was a “magic fish” in Disney Dreams!, which was at first created as a demo by the laser designer. The team liked it so much, they decided to keep the fish during the end song of the show.

- Someone asked how the reactions were of the Cast Members when they got to see the first public performance of Disney Dreams, 2 days before the press weekend. Steve and his team said they were very nervous, especially when the computer system failed right after the announcement spiel. He got lots of messages of Cast Members who said they were proud to be a Cast Member at Disneyland Paris and how proud they were at the show.

- Going back to adjusting the show, Katy explained there might be Halloween and Christmas versions, but not right away. It is possible to update the movie scenes, but this has to involve new music, new animation, etc.

- Existing scenes of animated movies were re-used for the show, but a lot of scenes were created just for this show by Disney Feature Animation and Pixar. Some original scenes were extented with all new animation, like the Lumière scene. All the animation, except Remy from Ratatouille, were hand drawn animation.

- The music for the show was chosen by theme and emotion. The Lumière scene has excitement, Tangled romance, Jungle Book adventure, etc. Steve prefers to use the original voices of the scenes, so they looked up the original Jungle Book dialogue in the Disney Vault. For Lumière he decided to use the original French voice, over the new voice that’s currently being used. It was also interesting for Joel Mcneely who was waiting to see the “movie” to compose the soundtrack, as he’s used to compose music from movies only. In the end he created the music based on the storyboards, which was recorded at the Abbey Roads studios in London.

- Moving on to Disney Magic on Parade, Kat de Blois explained the parfumes from Disney’s Once upon a Dream Parade will remain. Katy recalled how the smells were chosen, over 5 years ago. They sprayed perfumes in different offices and had people go in and chose the best ones.

- Moving on to Central Plaza Stage, we asked when the decision was made to get rid of it and if it was a hard decision. This caused all three of them to smile and Kat even said that they thought it was a good idea a long time ago but it took some time for it to go. Steve added that it was his idea to get rid of it to open up Central Plaza for the show. “I wrote the memo”, he added!

- There will be no other stage shows this year, except for Tarzan La Rencontre in Chapparal Theater. Someone pointed out the Following the Leader with Peter Pan show in Adventureland was a popular show and why it hasn’t returned this year. Kat smiled and said we have an all new pirate ship in Adventureland and that it opens possibilities, especially becasue the ship is no longer strictly themed to Peter Pan…

- Someone asked if there plans to change or replace the old Dumbo train float, instead of “just” repainting or re-theming it. Katy explained that due to its popularity, especially with first-timers, this is not necessary. There is still a life for the float in the coming years.

The Q&A ended with taking pictures and asking for autographs.

If you want to see the entire Q&A, be sure to watch this video by our friends at DLRP Magic!

20th anniversary press weekend: Hard Hat tour of Meet Mickey Mouse

Our 20th anniversary press weekend report continues with our Hard Hat Tour of Meet Mickey Mouse, the new meet ‘n’ greet location in Fantasyland. Because this attraction is still under construction, no photography and no video taping was allowed.

Our group was taken backstage at Fantasy Festival Stage by Laurent Cayuela, Imagineer at Walt Disney Imagineering Paris. Construction fences had been removed for the tour, so the all new painted and reworked façade was introduced to the park guests for the first time. Creamy whites and reds are the main colours on the façade, as well as all new posters with Mickey Mouse in different settings. A large Broadway-style sign over the main entrance says “Meet Mickey Mouse – Rencontre avec Mickey”.

Unlike in the Walt Disney World version (called Town Square Theater), guests have to queue in an actual theatre. All the old benches have been ripped out and replaced by copper railings and the stage received an amazing opera-style frame with a set of 3 curtains (Venetian, Greece and Italian; each will open in a different way). While waiting to meet Mickey (which can go up to 45 minutes when the queue line is complete) guests will be able to see classic Mickey Mouse cartoons on a big screen on the stage. However, if necessary or for special events, the stage can actually be used to host any type of entertainment.

After finishing up the main queue line, guests walk pass the stage and are welcomed by the “stage manager”, who’ll take them to Mickey’s dressing room in the backstage area of the stage. All the walls here are plain bricks and are decorated with Mickey Mouse cartoon posters. When looking up, there’s no ceiling, except that of the show building, which adds to the backstage setting.

Inside the dressing room there are large suitcases filled with Mickey’s suits and props for a magic show. Almost all of these props have a reference to a Disney movie that involves magic, like Fantasia, Mary Poppins and the Disney•Pixar short Presto. Other Disney references included stickers on the suitcases of different Disney resorts around the world and there is even a drawing by a child of Mickey Mouse and Oswald together! When paying attention to all of these details, you’d almost forget Mickey Mouse himself is right there to take a photo with!

A professional Disney photographer will be on hand to take your picture, which can be purchased at the exit of the meet ‘n’ greet. Screens will preview the pictures and cash registers, including one for guests in wheelchairs, are on hand for purchases. More magic related props can be found here, including the “Tank of Terror”.

Meet Mickey Mouse is expected to open in May 2012.