Throughout the day, and especially in the hours before the spectacular launch night event, fans filled the park, put up with being pushed aside to accommodate the press, and soaking up the magic, the buzz and the atmosphere of the night. It wasn’t hard to a spot a fan on the 31st – either by their endless filming and photographing or proud display of circa-1992 Euro Disney clothing and accessories, the celebration truly began with the fans.
Over six months of following the preparations online or in the parks, and of course 15 magical years themselves, had all been leading to this moment. In just a few minutes, the celebration would officially begin, and with it one of the biggest and most important years in the resort’s history.
With Daniel Powter’s well-received performance of two songs finished, he quickly ran of stage to allow a team of crew members to remove the sleek white piano and audio equipment, ready for Candleabration. Along Main Street, the air was filled with the opening synth notes of “Just Like We Dreamed It” for around 10 minutes, with a strange, faint murouring of deep-toned speech on top, only adding to the sense of anticipation.
Finally, with the stage set, lights across the park suddenly dimmed and the fibre-optic “15” plaque glowed and sparkled, the christmas lights on the Castle joining in with their own strobe flashes and sparkles. Trumpets blasted out, heralding the start of Candleabration, before the music faded into the popular Peter Pan “Dreams” theme and the crowds gasped in delight.
As the entrance of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant was illuminated from inside and smoke poured out, returning an image from the 1992 Grand Opening, the team of flag artists and dancers ran up onto the stage and began their routine, cutting through the air with their blue 15th Anniversary flags to the beats of the music.
The music reached its climax, and suddenly a surprise diversion from the usual Candleabration routine began. Arriving on stage first was not Mickey, but instead Lumière – a very special host just for this evening, and a character not seen in-person at Disneyland Resort Paris perhaps since the end of Videopolis’ Beauty and the Beast stage show. Lumière began “Bonsoir Paris! Et Bienvenue!” before joining the shimmering blue-and-white dancers – now with their white top hats for a majestic dance routine set to swirling strings and powerful trumpets, a moment usually enjoyed by Mickey in the regular show.
Behind them, the Castle turrets sparkled and projection patterns sweeped across its towers, before the music reached a dramatic climax and Lumière raised his candles into the sky with the dancers and their hats.
Passing the reigns over to the one that started it all, Lumière announced in French “Ladies and gentlement, please give a warm welcome to our incomparable host, acommpanied by some children full of dreams!,” and welcomed Mickey Mouse onto the stage – “Bonsoir monsieur!”. Mickey replied “Bonsoir Lumière!” before turning to the crowd – “Good evening everybody! Hey, say folks, do you believe in dreams? You do?! Awww, that’s swell!”
As a line of around fifteen children filed onto the stage, in front of the dance team, Mickey continued “You see, I’ve invited some very special friends to be here tonight! And, they’re going to share their dreams with us!”. In the background, the faint opening notes of the score for the resort’s 15th Anniversary teaser trailer played throughout. With the children ready, dressed in their blue outfits and yellow scarfs from the pre-parade earlier, Mickey turned to them – “Hiya kids! Tonight, I’ve got a very special – magical – gift for every one of you!”.
Pointing to the stars the children were holding, he announced “These magical stars have the power to make your dreams come true! So just lift your star, as high as you can, up towards the sky! Now, close your eyes, and make a wish!”. Sleeping Beauty Castle turned a dreamy shade of blue, dotted with stars, as the familiar voice of the Blue Fairy from the park’s Wishes Nighttime Spectacular filled the air and translated for Mickey in French. The children then held their glowing, multicoloured stars, as high as they could, and proclaimed “By the power of this magic star, make our dreams come true”.
“Remember children, never stop believing in your dreams, for they are the real magic in the world” the Blue Fairy concluded. “So, listen to your heart, and watch…” “Alors, ecoutez votre coeur, et regardez..!”
Lights faded, the children turned and music swelled to its full rhythm, as Mickey clasped his hand and threw the dreams of the children across the face of Le Château. One by one, fantastical, colourful digital projections of children encountering Disney characters across the resort filled the towers, turrets and spires of the Castle as the rhythm of the music provided a perfect time for the audience to look back on the past fifteen years – and gasp in wonder.
When the dreams faded away, the echoing choir and chords of the “dreams” theme music faded in, joined by a moving projection of a huge red carpet across the Castle, bouncing from side to side and wrapping itself around the turrets. Mickey rejoined his usual Candleabration speech, announcing “You know folks, today is a very special day! 15 Years of dreams and magic, and – fifteen candles! So keep your eyes open, ’cause this is going to be one of the most magical moments ever!”
Music climbed to another deafening climax, the spires shimmered and sparkled with hundreds of lights and Mickey reached out with both hands, stretching out to the audience before turning and pointing his magic toward the Character Castle Makeover.
Then, one by one, timed exactly to the beats of the Peter Pan “dreams” music, each of the fifteen candles burst to life with a flickering, orange glow and an extra “ping” in the music. The audience watching from Main Street shouted the numbers – “eleven!” “twelve!” – and then, the “bougillumination” was complete. Lights flickered across the spires and sweeped up Tinkerbell’s trail of pixie dust, culminating in a burst of gold confetti from her wand, perfectly illuminated and met with a perfect “ooooh!” from the crowd below.
But the party was only just beginning. Minnie stepped on stage and proclaimed “Oh Mickey, c’est magnifique!”, followed by Pluto, Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Chip n Dale – “And now, it’s time to celebrate our fifteen magical years!”, Mickey announced, as the characters prepared their instruments and “Just Like We Dreamed It” began… with a spectacular burst of fireworks.
To the full, extended version of the theme music, the characters danced and played their instruments whilst a huge, colourful, choreographed fireworks display filled the sky behind them.
Each burst of music, each note, was met in synchronisation with a score of fireworks in every shape, size and colour. From sparkling “wishes” rockets for the “Magically…” chorus end, to giant, pounding, bursts to the drum beats of the third chorus, the display began with simple red rockets and progressed to giant, airbourne, golden bursts like nothing seen at the resort for years.
Whilst budgets and local area laws usually restrict displays, for this night – and this night only – Disneyland Resort Paris threw everything it had at the performance – and into the sky. Even when the display ended with Mickey and Minnie wishing the park “Joyeux Anniversaire!” and a final shimmer of fireworks burning out, the party wasn’t over. “Just Like We Dreamed It” kick-started again for a special encore, as close to 50 huge golden shells exploded above the Castle, filling the sky, as smaller bursts of gold shot upwards below.
The characters danced off stage as the music came to a final climax, Mickey and Minnie dancing a celebratory waltz, before another – final – series of fireworks shot into the sky. If the 15th Anniversary is their big chance to finally turn around the background finances of the resort, they’re not taking any chances. Live music, castle illuminations, character shows, decorations, and extraordinary fireworks – Disneyland Resort Paris has a second childhood, and it knows how to party.
And now… the video!
With the ceremony complete, the press departed for their exclusive Red Carpet party, the 15th Anniversary finally here and now, this simply left fans and guests to enjoy the magic of a fifteen-year-old Main Street USA in Paris shimmering with magic more than ever before…
…Before guests finally said goodnight and an early “Joyeux Anniversaire!” to Disneyland Park, overwhelmed and spirits on high that The Year to Live Your Dream had already come true.
Photos by Photos Magiques and DLRP Today, some © Disney.