Top of the bill for this major international press ceremony was to “reintroduce Walt Disney Studios Park as a full day experience”. With over two hundred million Euros of investment finally reaching fruition, there was certainly a lot resting on this particular Saturday.
Despite opening three months after The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Stitch Live! would be inaugurated first, the star of this joint ceremony to launch ‘The Celebration Continues… Big Time!’. For the first time, it was Disneyland Park in the shadows as Walt Disney Studios Park played host for the entire day, its Place des Stars Stage next to Stitch Live! transformed with a special backdrop and decorations.
The build-up to the grand opening of Stitch Live! included the little blue nuisance finding his satellite transmission “interfering” with various other video screens across the park.
Up until the 3pm opening, when the satellites finally aligned with the Disney Channel building, Stitch could be seen popping up on the pre-show screen of Art of Disney Animation, on the giant videoscreen of Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular or even on the often overlooked Silly Symphonies projection screen inside Disney Studio 1.
Before the show began, music from both parks filled the courtyard, a kind of ’15th Anniversary megamix’ comprising various tracks such as the Fantillusion theme, Just Like We Dreamed It, Remember the Magic, Candleabration, ‘Flying’ from Peter Pan and more — even a chance to hear some rare instrumental versions of ‘Tous en Train’ from Disney Characters’ Express and ‘The Feeling of Aloha’ from the retired Lilo & Stitch Catch a Wave Party.
Resort ambassadors Wendy Courquet and Arnaud Gayet introduced the ceremony, arriving in a similar style to the ‘Shooting Live’ streetmosphere shows which now entertain on the stage — pulling up in a golf buggy to the music of Roll out the Red Carpet from Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade.
Outgoing Chairman and CEO of the resort Karl Holz was welcomed to the stage and wasted no time in emphasising the Walt Disney Studios Park location, or the fact that the two parks are “right next door”. Speaking of the original 15th Anniversary Celebration, Mr Holz announced guest reaction was “overwhelming”, quoting the record 14.5 million visitors of 2007.
“We intend to continue the success with today’s launch of our bigger and better celebration,” he continued. “During ‘The Celebration Continues… Big Time!’ our guests will experience twelve more magical months of bigger thrills, exciting entertainment and interactive character experiences…” At which point, Karl was cut short by loud rustling and frenzied movement from within the giant red present on stage.
With a shrug of the shoulders, the introduction continued with a pointer to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror behind the assembled crowd, due to be inaugurated later in the day, along with the new High School Musical 2 show. A third interruption from the box causes smoke to pour out from inside. Choking on the smoke (and playing along well), Karl whispered “Are we ok?” as the ambassadors pretended all was going smoothly.
Finally, with the tension becoming too much as Karl moved on to announce the continuation of the original 15th Anniversary events at Disneyland Park, a blast of smoke and a scratch and rip of the wrapping paper saw none other than — you guessed it — Stitch burst out of the present.
Arguing in French, the blue alien shouted “Karl has forgotten Stitch!”, to which to Euro Disney SAS CEO answered “Of course, we didn’t forget you. We were just saving the best ’till last!”.
With an impatient space creature on stage, Karl Holz wasted no time in officially declaring Stitch Live! open, as golden streamers burst from the stage, confetti fell from behind and the four stars posed on-stage for photos from the press.
As the ceremony came to a close, announcements invited guests to “discover Stitch Live! throughout the rest of the day”, whilst minor celebrities from various European countries were invited for press pictures against the ‘Stitch Live!’ backdrop.
Guests and the press dispersed across the park for the next couple of hours, the VIPs enjoying priority access to the Tower of Terror via the Fastpass entrance and to Crush’s Coaster via the exit.
The Celebration Continues… Big Time! Launch & Stitch Live! Inauguration
Despite the important events of the day, with almost 2,000 invitees and an expected 14,000 regular visitors, attendance and queue times felt relatively normal. Though it would have been laughable just a year ago, waiting 70 (Tower of Terror) or even up to 90 minutes (Crush’s Coaster) for attractions is now often a reality at the park, however.
Everyone would reunite at 5pm sharp for the grand premiere of ‘High School Musical 2: School’s Out!’ — the only performance of the new show all day — which is where we take you next…
[Photos © Disney, DLRP Today and Photos Magiques]