For the first time since 2002, the Christmas Tree is given its very own illumination ceremony. As reported previously it’s a similar format to the classic shows, as Mickey Mouse lights up the giant tree with the help of a young child from the audience.
Forming the stage, a parade float you’ll certainly recognise — it’s the same one which served the event back in the early years of this decade, and has since returned every Halloween and Christmas in a variety of temporary seasonal guises.
It’s not an entirely nostalgic show, though. The music isn’t the wonderful old soundtrack but the newer illumination music previously (and in fact, still) used for the shows on Central Plaza. And as its director Christophe Leclercq explains, the story behind the show is also different.
When the parade float pulls into Town Square and stops in front of the tree, the much larger group of characters dance to a medley of songs before the show’s live host, in French and English, explains that the tree can only be illuminated by opening the magic book in front of them — which itself can only be opened by the hands of a child.
With the chosen child on the podium, the book opens in a sparkling glitter-ball effect, throwing beads of light all around Town Square as the tree gradually lights up.
With the final blast of the music, the Princess Chandeliers lining Main Street illuminate all at once, leading guests towards the yet-to-be-lit Castle at the end.
That event has now been slotted into the final performance of It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends, which, taking place in full darkness, has been tweaked with new, warmer costumes for the dancers and a series of new projections and lighting effects on and around the Castle.
Notice the musical notes for Baloo, and the yellow animal patterns for Timon.
After Peter Pan’s final game and before the last “Mickey Dance”, the Castle is quickly illuminated to the same “Lumina” music of recent years — practically the same music just heard earlier during the Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Then, before you’ve chance to gasp in wonder or soak up the atmosphere, — boom! — it’s back to the party. And “La Mickey Danse” continues on…
But never mind, Sleeping Beauty Castle lit for Christmas is still a sight to behold — once that damn dance remix of “Mickey’s Magical Party Time” has faded out, at least.
The Princesses are nowhere to be seen, remembering that even the past two years they were featured heavily in the Enchanted Candleabration illuminations show. Perhaps this provoked the pushing of Snow White’s new “happening” as a Christmas season event, because if they’re still going for a “Fairytale Christmas” (and judging by all the press releases, they are), keeping the disco Party Time finale so intact makes it all feel slightly off the mark.
UPDATE 10/11/2009 — Disneyland Paris released a few extra photos yesterday after this article was published. Taken during Saturday’s press events (note the empty park and hundreds of press badges), they feature the view up toward the Castle as snow blows across the rooftops of Main Street:
The same view in the opposite direction, towards the Christmas Tree:
And a wonderful view over the whole of Town Square, showing the set-up of the returning Tree Lighting Ceremony, with the float/stage parked in front of the tree for the ceremony.
• Read the full interview with Christophe Leclercq, director of the season, here!
Pictures © Disney.