The ceremony on Main Street began with the letters of the new Alpha Bet You Are street performers wandering and interweaving down the street, before forming the word “Disneyland” at Town Square. The mayor from the morning opening ceremony returned to introduce the spectacle, introducing each letter as it twirled and bowed for the frantic cameras on the press platform.
As the 15th Anniversary Pre-Parade, with its marching band, special anniversary float and hundreds of volunteers rolled into view, the letters moved to one side and the entire cavalcade came to a highly choreographed stop, providing the press with a perfect view along Main Street. With everyone in place, the mayor next introduced the host of the event – Arnauld Gayet, one of the two Disneyland Resort Paris ambassadors for 2007.
Stepping up onto Mickey’s special anniversary float (the redecorated Snow White float from Disney Princess Parade), Arnauld announced in both French and English, “Hello everyone! I am very happy to welcome you all here today to celebrate our 15th anniversary. Please, give a very warm welcome to our special guest – Miss Andie MacDowell!”
Andie MacDowell, famous American actress from such early nineties blockbuster hits as Groundhog Day and Four Weddings and a Funeral then joined Arnauld on the float as the marching band played, to launch the anniversary and introduce the new parade premiering in just a few minutes. “I am very happy to be here,” she announced in French and English, before apologising for her language skills – “Please forgive me, because my French is horrible and it’s such a beautiful, beautiful language. I’m really happy to be here and I’m going to try with some really bad French, but I want to tell you that my kids and I love Disney and we’re going to be here with you enjoying the park – so if you run into me please say hello, I’m not afraid of being spoken to! So if you see me, say hello!”
Andie continued, “Ok, so here’s my bad French,” before describing how being at the park was a dream come true and that “it’s a small world” was the favourite attraction of her and her children, with several pauses to apologise for language and a final apology of “Sorry it’s not sunny!”
The choice of Andie to host the launch was interesting – not just because of her rather hestitant French, but also since she almost appears as a symbol of the early 1990s – just when Euro Disney first opened its gates. As the “godmother” of our anniversary, she could almost be to Paris what the 1950s/60s-associated image of Julie Andrews was to Disneyland California’s 50th.
Arnauld next handed over to Mickey Mouse himself, “As Walt Disney once said, it all started with a mouse… so Mickey, what’s next?”. Mickey began in his usual lively tone “Hi everybody! Bonjour! Gee, I just love a celebration! And look who’s with me today, a very special guest – Ashley!”. The special guest, a young girl wearing a white fairytale dress similar to that of the girl in the resort’s TV commercials for the anniversary, then climbed up to the top of the float and slid down its special red carpet slide to join Arnauld, Mickey and Andie. Mickey announced “And now, who better than a child to tell us all about dreams, wishes and storytelling?” with Arnauld translating in French.
Andie stepped forward and asked, “Bonjour Ashley, now I’m going to ask you a very important question – how does every fairytale begin?”, then in much improved French (the actress had obviously practiced this line), “Quelle est la phrase qui commence tous les fées?”. With a confident and punchy answer, Ashley replied – “Il était un fois, once upon a time – or – once upon a dream!” as Arnauld continued “Yes Ashley, it’s just like you dreamed it!” before reminding Mickey that it was time for him and his Disney friends around the float to get ready for their big entrance in Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade.
With Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, Goofy and Chip n Dale running off to the Discovery Arcade exit, the marching band played a final medley of “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” and everything was ready for the final countdown to the big fifteen. As a sense of anticipation filled the air, Andie and Arnauld kicked off the countdown, as the 500 volunteers and Cast Members in blue and yellow coats let off their balloons year-by-year with Ashley counting up the numbers from one to fifteen.
As the count hit fifteen and the sky was filled with balloons, the soaring music of the television commercials and Candleabration – from Universal’s Peter Pan live-action film – filled Main Street and the giant balloons atop the roofs of the turn-of-the-century buildings exploded one-by-one, launching a mist of golden confetti across the street.
Then, once again led by perfect showman Arnauld, the cast and crowd joined together for a rousing rendition of “Joyeux Anniversaire / Happy birthday to you”, sung in perfect Disneyland Resort Paris style – French and English combined. Arnauld announced “And now, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Disneyland Resort Paris, we are proud to present in just a few minutes… Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade!”, and the opening lyrics of “Just Like We Dreamed It” began.
The blue and yellow-dressed volunteers walked around to their reserved spot outside Main Street Transportation, continuing to smile and wave to the crowds in a jubilant atmosphere, whilst a special second pre-parade of colourful characters filled the street, as everyone waited in anticipation of the brand new parade…
Photos by Photos Magiques or © Disney.