The Pumpkin Men, the Pink Witches and many more inbetween – creating new, original characters has been a tradition of Disneyland Resort Paris which sets it apart from other Disney resorts for years. But how about characters without eyes, without heads, and without arms? This unique streetmosphere creation by show director Emmanuel Lenormand, filing out onto Main Street USA to a playful soundtrack four times each morning, is a daring departure for Disney, and certainly something you would never see in Florida or California.
So just where did it come from? According to Emmanuel’s interview on the ‘Media Magic’ blog… merchandise. It seems that, upon seeing the interesting 2007-brand merchandise in the Emporium one day last October, he thought the same as DLRP Today – could these become real characters? Emmanuel had just been charged with creating a new morning show in Main Street for the anniversary year using the new talents of the varied Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade performers, and the character-themed numbers of “2007” (featuring Goofy as “2”, Mickey as “7”, and so on) sparked his imagination. The letters soon became ten, however – spelling out “Disneyland” – a perfect welcome for guests entering the park for the first time.
As Emmanuel describes, “These are enormous, magical letters, and we have worked on a choreography with lots of humour. My original idea was that, at the start, you wouldn’t understand what was going on – you see lots of huge forms, then you realise that the letters progressively form the word ‘Disneyland’ in the street – in giant form, since certain letters measure 2.8 metres high!”.
The performers inside aren’t actually true character performers but largely puppeteers (such as those of Animagique or the new Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade), who have a better ability to judge movement and balance – and to control the movements of the costumes from inside. Each letter has its own moving element, and each one (aside from the two letter “D”‘s) its own character theme.
The large and small letter ‘D’ are, describes Emmanuel, “like the overture and finale of the act”, both letters featuring a plain theme with the 15th Anniversary emblem and a wobbling hand on springs. Letter ‘I’ is Goofy, with a dot above itself that can spin 360 degrees and suspenders that can fall off and lift back up. ‘S’ is Daisy, dressed in glittery pink with a white petticoat and a large, moveable bow. Since letter ‘N’ is featured twice in the word, this role goes to Chip ‘n’ Dale, who are depicted with soft brown fur and red and black noses – which can move up and down the entire length of the letter!
Letter ‘E’ can’t be mistaken – the familar colours and clothing of Donald Duck, with a tail of feathers, sailor stripes and even a beret than can be raised to courtesy. Leader of the club, it’s Mickey Mouse – letter ‘Y’, with his famous red shorts, yellow buttons and flapping mouse ears. Following right behind, letter ‘L’, his love Minnie Mouse. Decorated completely with polka dots and her famous ribbon, Minnie’s ears also flap slightly as she kneels to courtesy for guests. Finally, following the Mouse couple, their faithful pal Pluto – letter ‘A’. Brown fur and long, black, wiggling ears give him away, not least his dog-like characteristics as he runs and sits on a whim… though he hasn’t quite mastered “roll over” yet.
An important part of this early-morning party is its music. Mixing classic Disney songs such as “Zip-a-Dee-Dah”, “Following the Leader”, “I Wanna Be Like You” and “Mickey Mouse Club March” with new lyrics recorded by choir children from the Seine-et-Marne region, the music is a lively and quirky addition to a morning on Main Street. Musical director Vasile Sirli was behind the brand new music, using the Budapest Pop Orchestra, familiar with the resort since their work on The Wonderful World Of Disney Parade and Disney’s ImagiNations Parade, to record the eclectic instrumental backing, which features a new instrumental theme also heard in Candleabration.
“We’re following the letters, the letters! Sing with us – D-I-S-N-E-Y-L-A-N-D!”
The streetmosphere performance is currently scheduled at 10h15, 11h15, 12h15 and 13h15, entering Main Street from Plaza Gardens/Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor and making its way to the centre of the street to spell “Disneyland” and meet guests before dispersing again and gradually exiting through Town Square/Discovery Arcade.
With thanks to Media Magic Blog for their interview with Emmanuel Lenormand.