The pixie dust has settled. The announcement has been made. Disneyland Paris turns 25 years old in 2017 with a line-up of new and reimagined attractions and entertainments. Looking beyond the sparkle, will this really be the resort’s time to shine?
Whereas the 15th Anniversary package came together as and when visuals were released to the travel trade, and the 20th Anniversary‘s events were only confirmed by a holiday brochure published without ceremony, the 25th Anniversary already shows a very different strategy.
Much has changed (SO much, in fact) in the five years since the last anniversary celebration, that the resort previously had barely any tools at its disposal to create the anticipation around an announcement like this. Now, with its active social media channels and excellent company blog, things are very different.
Euro Disney, still the name of the operating group behind the resort, took the unprecedented step of teasing a “great announcement” a full week in advance on Twitter. After seven days of speculation, Monday rolled around with fans at fever pitch: a captive audience, already logged in, ready to share, comment and — hopefully — like.
— DLP Today (@DLPToday) October 17, 2016
— Disneyland Paris PR (@DLPpressnews) October 17, 2016
— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) October 17, 2016
This well-planned launch, with articles ready to go out to the press and other Disney blogs, represents an important step-change for a resort which, with its poor self-promotion, was often its own worst enemy. The coming of a new Présidente behind the company, Catherine Powell, having previously worked in sales and distribution, can be no coincidence. Bravo for this, before we even begin.
But then the content of the announcement, did it live up to expectations?
Setting aside the feelings of those who thought the “surprise” might not be the 25th Anniversary launch, it feels like the announcement of the new festivities generally lived up to expectation. Did it exceed them? No, definitely not.
Visually, the announcement was sadly lacking. An invitation to “hear from our Présidente Catherine Powell” might have suggested some kind of presentation, live or recorded, or at least a bit of video content for us to pore over with new images and Disney creatives extolling the “amazement” to come.
No, just a press release — some things never change. But more disappointingly, the images released to accompany it looked like they’d just been hastily assembled from other resort’s image libraries. They must have some concept art for the new Disney Stars on Parade, but no; no new image released — just a photo of the similar float in Florida with its Cinderella Castle clearly in the background.
Likewise for Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain; a marketing visual from California with its completely different style of roller coaster trains. Disney Illuminations got off a struggling start with an image that looked no different to the existing Disney Dreams!, right down to the “Second Star to the Right” at the top of the castle. Worst was The Starlit Princess Waltz, with an image that looked like the kind of hasty backstage concept working that you’d normally only see leaked on a forum.
Luckily, the key 25th Anniversary image itself really is a thing of beauty. Though already seen at the D23 Expo’s Disney Parks and Resorts presentation in August 2015, here it is again finally released officially by Disneyland Paris itself, with a little added sparkle.
The silver “25” logo itself still requires a moment of appreciation. Gorgeous and elegant almost doesn’t do it justice, the three-dimensional swirls feel genuinely clever. A solid progression from the now rather flat 15th and brash-looking 20th logos; all the more impressive that it was already finalised over a year ago now.
As for the line-up, there was no Steve Jobs-style “one more thing”, in fact barely anything beyond what had already been leaked several months earlier. But we did learn the final official titles of the events, and some important confirmations about their content.
Next, let’s take a look at each one…