Monday, 9th April 2007

Park Maps join the party, reveal secrets

Guests stepping into one of two Disney Parks at Disneyland Resort Paris on 1st April 2007 were met with a nice early-morning surprise. No, not just the surprise that the previous day’s cloudy, rainy weather had changed quite magically to a beautiful blue sky the moment the press premieres ended…

…But also, a new design for the Park Guide maps and entertainment programmes! Gone is Jiminy Cricket’s guiding presence on the cover and in comes the golden “15” surrounded by characters and their candles, the first redesign of the new-style park maps and programmes since their launch on 7th October 2006.

The biggest change at first glance is without doubt to the Disneyland Park guide, which now sports a flashy gold colour rather than its usual pink, interesting since the anniversary is “only” a fifteenth, rather than, say, a fiftieth.

Both guides have also been scattered with confetti and streamers inside and out, though as you can see here Disneyland Park currently has a far larger ’15’ on its cover than Walt Disney Studios Park – you know, just incase you missed the anniversary number on the banners, Castle, parades, Central Plaza stage, Panoramagique balloon and throughout all of the boutiques! The size could also be symbolise that, right now during the “first phase” of the anniversary celebrations, Disneyland Park has the majority – if not all – of the events.

Inside, the old ‘Wishes’ illustration of Jiminy has been replaced by a 15th Anniversary version, but he still most certainly gives his guiding tips for a good day out. As for the maps themselves, Disneyland Park now features a special 15th Anniversary corner box listing the main events, with ‘A’ and ‘B’ symbols on the map showing locations.

For Walt Disney Studios Park… watch out!! That’s the moment we walk slam into the Partners Statue whilst staring, shocked, at the map… which seems more than a little familiar. Yes, it seems the “work-in-progress” edition we picked apart in great detail (albeit in lower quality) wasn’t quite so work-in-progress afterall – at least for now. As an exciting teaser of what’s still to come during the anniversary year, the map design has switched to an early design of the 2008 park – featuring Crush’s Coaster, Cars Race Rally and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, along with the additions of the Toon and Hollywood projects.

The three major new attractions (Stitch Encounter not included, since Walt Disney Television Studios is still currently operating) are even marked on the key for their respective lands, with opening dates listed as “June 2007” and “Early 2008” respectively. Whilst Crush’s Coaster is already listed as having height and physical restrictions (though exact height isn’t given), the restrictions for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are not currently listed at all.

The map clearly is still a “work-in-progress”, the new Studio Tram Tour backdrop not correctly aligned and the street sets in front of it not featuring their final, expected design. Animation Courtyard and Production Courtyard are also missing all of their planters, giving the impression, bizarrely for a park map, of a far bleaker landscape than in reality.

But, for now, it provides a surprise glimpse into the future for all those thousands – if not millions – of guests who will wander across to the Studios after tiring of the party at Disneyland Park. It will also likely help as an apology and reasoning for any guests shocked at the current state of the park, filled with construction walls. Though now until June at least, Cast Members will be answering, on a daily basis, “how do I get to Crush’s Coaster?!”.

It’s worth also pointing out that even though the map still lists ‘Animation Courtyard’, the new Sorcerer Mickey statue clearly has the words ‘Toon Studio’ beneath, and that the map is valid only until 31st May 2007. From 1st June 2007, then, the land should officially be renamed.

Finally, the Programme guides, formerly known as the ‘Entertainment Programme’, have also been updated with the new 15th Anniversary branding – along with the first times and details for all the anniversary events currently bringing the parks to life.

Photos/scans by DLRP Today – maps © Disney.

Sunday, 8th April 2007

15th Launch Night: Red Carpet press event

Of course, to get into the event, you needed an invite:

As with all press documents, they were lavishly produced with a fold-out red carpet fastened by a magnet, the gates opening to reveal the full collection of new entertainment attractions for the Anniversary. No hope of anyone replicating one to get into the event, then… (they obviously know fans too well).

The event began in Liberty Arcade, with a red carpet stretching up the entire length of the exquisite Victorian interior, before veering off into Frontierland via the hidden “Thunder Mesa Express” passage. Here, it enterted Fort Comstock, which used digital effects to project a red carpet onto a curtain covering the Frontierland entrance, showing a curling red carpet stretching into the distance.

Once inside the exclusive cocktail and dinner event, invited guests could experience Frontierland and Adventureland bathed in special lighting, including the plethora of lanterns seen around the land in earlier days. A fan of blue and yellow lights filled the sky whilst a huge “15” projection turned Big Thunder Mountain into a new icon for the event.

One of the highlights for any Disney fans at the event was to see a series of Disney characters aboard the Mark Twain. Like a scene out of “Fantasmic!”, they danced for the crowds and held the candles previously seen in the Disney Characters’ Express nighttime preview, with the line-up of stars matching somewhat the line-up seen in the resort’s marketing visuals for the anniversary. The loading dock of Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing was transformed into the red carpet photo location with a backdrop for celebrity photoshoots, such as these, and interviews.

Guests could also enjoy dinner at one of the specially-illuminated restaurants – not just The Lucky Nugget Saloon (the VIP restaurant) and Silver Spur Steakhouse, but also Colonal Hathi’s Pizza Outpost, transformed for one night only into a table service restaurant – as it was when first opened in 1992. Meals included a special 15th Anniversary dessert with a 15th Anniversary chocolate.

Pirates of the Caribbean was available for rides until 10pm, with Phantom Manor, Big Thunder Mountain and Rustler Roundup Shootin’ Gallery (free during the event) open until midnight.

Though Fantasyland closed at 7pm for the fireworks and Frontierland closed at the same time for event preparations, guests leaving the park after the fireworks likely had no idea of the exclusive event already underway, though come morning it was clear the teenage park had a slight hangover from the night’s partying…

Photos 1-2 by Photos Magiques, photo 3 © Disney.

Sunday, 8th April 2007

(Video) 15th Launch Night: Candleabration Fireworks

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.

Sunday, 8th April 2007

(Video) 15th Launch Night: Daniel Powter

The new 15th Anniversary banners lining Main Street, illuminated the entire day, began to glow and sparkle brighter as the day turned to night. Whilst park closing was scheduled for 8pm, guests were invited to stay behind to enjoy the anniversary launch night – albeit shunted back to the corner of Gibson Girl and Casey’s Corner, to ensure the press in front had (more than enough) room to breathe.

Whilst a little choatic crowd management and a tension and anticipation for the launch filled the half-hour wait, the castle suddenly began to glow in its anniversary colours, as the giant “15” plaque sparkled with golden fibre optics before fading to black. The same voice from the day’s earlier ceremonies, that of the mayor of Main Street, then introduced, with great power “We are proud, and honoured to have with us tonight a very special guest. Please, give a warm welcome, to mr. Daniel Powter!”

Daniel Powter then appeared on the 15th Anniversary stage of Central Plaza, in front of a Sleeping Beauty Castle filled with various colours and projections, seated at a huge, sleek white piano installed just a few hours prior. He began by whispering “Bonsoir!” before launching into his hit song “Bad Day”.

Daniel then announced “I was asked to write a song for all the Disney parks around the world. And so, I’m proud to present, the Paris premiere of ‘The World You’ve Dreamed of Lately’. The castle colours changed to a warmer pink tone and the resort’s crane camera swooped swung around above the stage, as the night was filled with dreamy, reflective live music to celebrate fifteen years of magic.

Our own exclusive video below also includes a few clips preceding the start of the night’s events, showing the atmosphere and lights on Main Street USA as daylight faded and anticipation climbed…

Fans of Daniel, or indeed of Disney Parks around the world, may notice the familiar piano – and the familiar events which unfolded. The Canadian-born singer appears to almost be on a world tour of Disney Parks, this being his second performance after a Christmas performance at Disneyland Resort in California for the traditional Walt Disney World Christmas TV special. A press release from the time said:

“[…] The Walt Disney Company was looking for an artist and a song to capture the emotional connection that people have when they think of Disney Parks. Having fallen in love with Daniel’s songs and their simplicity, vocal styling and irresistible soaring melodic hooks, they were sure that he was their man. Daniel was thrilled with the opportunity, and after a few meetings with Disney, he penned the song ‘The World You’ve Dreamed of Lately’. He performed it live for the first time on ABC’s Christmas special The Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade.”

An alternate version of the song appears to be on public release entitled “Love You Lately”.

Photos 3-4 by Photos Magiques.

Sunday, 8th April 2007

A VIP day out at Disneyland Park

Roaming the park, swanning through cocktail parties and enjoying private nighttime events, you have to wonder how many of these guests ever have paid – or ever would pay – to get into Disneyland Park. Needless to say, they’re all a part of the marketing machine and do, on rare occasions, help to generate some extra publicity for the resort. The 15th Anniversary VIPs were a far cry from the 1992 Grand Opening, but still an improvement over recent years – some of the famous faces actually being well-known enough to not require the usual nudge and whisper of “who is that?”.

The first famous face of the day opened the park and rode aboard the press premiere of Disney Characters’ ExpressMiley Cyrus, known for her role in Disney Channel’s own Hannah Montana series.

Next up, helping to launch the anniversary and introduce Disney’s Once Upon a Dream ParadeAndie MacDowell. She enjoyed several attractions in the park including Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, before joining the other celebrities in the red-carpeted Liberty Arcade and Discovery Arcade for the afternoon party and photoshoots (the arcades were therefore closed to guests from just after the end of the parade until park closure).

A face seen in the past at Disneyland Resort Paris – Italian actress Ornella Muti reappeared for the anniversary events. You might remember her from the press premiere of Disney’s Fantillusion back in 2003, where she was invited to ride aboard a special coach wearing a custom-designed illuminated gown – which, upon putting on, she immediately proclaimed “it’s too heavy!”.

A couple of the more high-profile VIPs kept a lower profile. Academy Award-winning Polish film director Roman Polanski was spotted only on the red carpet, whilst Phil Collins, a frequent visitor in the past, enjoyed laser blasting with his children – well, The Tarzan Encounter‘s 2007 premiere was still a week away.

Star of the show a little later would be Canadian-born singer Daniel Powter, most famous ironically enough for his song “Bad Day”, though he did give several journalists the chance to jump in with the line “Daniel Powter has a Good Day at Disneyland“, along with some rather “bad” press photos…

For guests outside of the exclusive red carpet events, the biggest sign of a celebrity presence came in the Royal Castle Stage area. Not only were Plaza Gardens Restaurant and the Bureau Passeport Annuel transformed into interview areas and broadcast rooms for the day, but with the parade premiere complete, the Dreams of Adventure float looped back around and arrived in front of the stage for a series of photoshoots, interviews and television introductions.

Whilst the press surged forward with any hint of a famous face, a theme of the day from outside the hustle became photos featuring gatherings of unknown press bodies. Though, on rare occasions, it paid off…

You have to wonder what Phil Collins thought of the parade, stood there to be interviewed in front of the Dreams of Adventure float, which features not the faintest hint of Tarzan.

Sunday, 8th April 2007

(Video) Once upon a dream/nightmare premiere

With the 15th Anniversary Pre-Parade and Andie MacDowell’s launch ceremony moved on, Mickey & friends departed to prepare and the press lined up on their viewing platform, the time had come. The grand premiere of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade was about to begin! The weather was far from a dream – cloudy skies and increasing rainfall – but for the cast, crew and creators of the park’s first new daytime parade in over five years, their dream was about to finally, officially begin.

Music perfectly synchronised, cast giving their best performance and floats littered with fully-working effects and details… the view of the parade travelling down Main Street USA was apparently “perfection”.

Of course, we’ll probably never see the full collection of photos from this premiere – no, cloudy skies are a definite no-no for Disney, especially when they’ve other, sunnier days in the calendar to capture the new parade. The three photos above are the only ones officially released, with the fourth part of a larger set from earlier in the week – noticable since the Dreams of Imagination float is missing key details such as its anchor and stars.

And now, we turn another page…

The music sure was perfect for the press, but at a cost. Since the individual float scores and computerised show stops add up to one of the most complicated and hard-to-align parade soundtracks the park has ever attempted, and – perhaps more importantly – the press’ location between Town Square and the body of Main Street is the bridge between two “sections” of the parade route’s usual audio system, the entire parade used just one single synchronisation. So, whilst Dreams of Imagination pulled into view of the press and they heard the opening announcement, so too did normal guests in Fantasyland, at that moment enjoying Float 7 – Dreams of Adventure.

For anyone North of Town Square, no pre-parade announcement or song was heard, the floats simply trundled into view with their respective soundtracks playing only from the on-float speakers. Then, as the entire sound system cut to join up with Town Square, a silence of around two minutes fell upon the entire cavalcade, before the pre-parade song of “Just Like We Dreamed It” took over the loop.

It wasn’t only guests who rightly appeared confused at the muddled soundtrack – the parade’s cast also had a hard time keeping up with what was going on, such as the Green Army Men (in our video below), who first appear to ask the parade control Cast Member what was happening before giving up on their choreography (timed to the usual Toy Story music from their float) and simply waving to the crowds. With the break for the pre-parade song and announcement over, the float soundtracks finally began again and the parade and its cast could continue as normal.

The video also includes footage of the two show stops around Town Square. Even though music was perfect for the show the press was seeing unfold, it once again caused problems for anyone watching beyond this point, with Dreams of Imagination serenaded by Peter Pan music and Dreams of Fantasy met with dreamy princess music. But, despite this, the parade ended on a high and was met with great response from guests – a relief considering the increasing downpour they had to endure.

Watch out in particular for the fantastic choreography of the Peter Pan show stop, with the flag artists throwing their flags into the air and across the parade route to each other, all the while with Peter and Wendy running from Hook in perfect time to “Just Like We Dreamed It”. Once again, the cast made the once upon a dream.

Blue and yellow volunteers look out for the parade, rain-rain-rain pours down-down-down on the exposed press platform as the resort’s crane camera towers overhead.

Dreams pass by without a problem, all met with great cheers from the volunteers.

Peter Pan and the pirate captain shrug their shoulders as Dreams of Fantasy comes to a halt, improvising with a pirate jig before “Just Like We Dreamed It” begins and they realise it’s a second, unscheduled show stop.

The hot-tempered Dreams of Power luckily decides not to throw a tantrum today (unlike the following day), as the Dreams continue and rain gets heavier.

Tropical rainstorm dampens the dreams.

At least the rain is good for the spring flowers!

The gate closes on the grand premiere and the blue and yellow volunteers traverse Main Street creating another memorable spectacle, in reverse.

Meanwhile, as the floats are dried off and the dancers wrung out like a wet towel, the cleaners are kept more than busy with the debris of the launch ceremony and two streamer-filled show stops on Main Street.

Saturday, 7th April 2007

15th Anniversary Launch Ceremony with Andie MacDowell

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.

Saturday, 7th April 2007

(Video) 15th Anniversary Pre-Parade

The time: 14:45. The place: Disneyland Park parade route. The spectacle: spectacular! Whilst the clouds above grew thicker and rain began to pour down, Disneyland Resort Paris had the perfect treatment to lift spirits – and get the 15th Anniversary launch off to an unforgettable start.

As the clock hit quarter-to and the sence of anticipation along the parade route grew stronger, the sound of live music suddenly began in the distance and a classic Disneyland-esque marching band strolled into view. Dressed all in red, white and gold, the marching band has long been a Disneyland tradition – although the last memorable performance in Paris was perhaps as long ago as the 5th Anniversary pre-parade of 1997.

Playing jazzed-up Disney melodies such as the “Mickey Mouse March” and “Under the Sea”, they led the way for the Fab 5’s special anniversary float – the redecorated Snow White unit from Disney Princess Parade, retired just one week earlier. The characters wore their blue “Year of a Million Dreams” and Candleabration costumes, dancing around the red carpet slide at the centre of the float, which had also been decorated in large blue plaques featuring the new resort logo.

After the float – a sea of blue and yellow! Disney Cast Members from across the park joined together with Disney VoluntEARS from across the region to help parade hundreds of white, yellow and blue ballons with fifteen larger balloons – counting up the numbers from 1 to 15. Everyone involved got blue hats, yellow scarves and a special blue raincoat decorated with the two anniversary logos.

The pre-parade marched all the way to Main Street USA, in front of the press podium, where it met Andie MacDowell and resort ambassador Arnauld Gayet for the grand launch ceremony.

Photos 1-5 by Photos Magiques.

Saturday, 7th April 2007

(Video) Disney Characters’ Express press premiere

“Tous en train! All aboard! The Disney Characters’ Express is coming!”

As the infinitely catchy reworked music from Tokyo Disneyland’s 2001 “Party Express” and Hong Kong Disneyland’s “Rainy Day Parade” started up across Central Plaza and the guest flow Cast Members joined in with clapping and *choo choo* actions, the press looked from side to side nervously. Lined up in black with their oversized press badges (someone in the press department must still be laughing), camera tripods and glamorous female presenters along the hub of Central Plaza facing the castle, they were about to be treated to a special premiere performance of Disney Characters’ Express – that would leave the paying guests out in the cold.

The former Dumbo Casey Jr. float rounded the corner of Main Street, pistons pumping and smoke puffing, before coming to a stop right in front of the eager crowd. The characters and dancers continued dancing to the music long after it stopped, as the camera crews stepped right up to the train for some character close-ups. Whilst at this point the characters would normally climb down and run off to their four Lumière photo locations around the hub as normal Main Street music returned, here they were asked to instead continue dancing to practically no noise.

Soon enough, Miley Cyrus (who rode aboard the first carriage all the way from Town Square) was trailed by a desperate band of photographers – and her hefty American agent/minder, before jumping onto each of the following carriages and continuing to run up onto the Central Plaza stage to dance for the cameras. Meanwhile, television presenters from across Europe assembled to film quick reports to camera…

The presenter from TeleMadrid was notable since she looked to be truly enjoying herself, whilst being particularly taken with Pinocchio… and visa-versa…!

As cameras continued to roll for almost 20 minutes, guests continued to try attracting the attention of their favourite characters – many of which infact seemed far more interested with their public rather than the invited press. The dancers onboard the express also deserve credit for continuing the smile and dance for such a long period.

You can see more of the press breathlessly capturing the magic – including footage of Miley Cyrus and François Leroux – in our exclusive video:

With the extended stop over, guest flow shephered the remaining photographers back onto the hub (those who hadn’t trailed after Miley to the Central Plaza stage) and the Disney Characters’ Express returned all the way back down Main Street for a rest. Though that doesn’t mean its crew stopped performing for the public’s cameras…

Luckily, this wasn’t the last the public saw of the streetmosphere parade/meet’n’greet on the 31st – it returned almost every hour right up until the early evening, always with the proper public meet ‘n’ greets included.

Friday, 6th April 2007

Just Like We Dreamed It – the CD Single

Come a little closer, step into the wonder of everything that’s waiting for you, through those 15th Anniversary-themed doors of the Main Street boutiques…

Well, a new CD Single, at least! The first release of new, never-before-available music in over 15 months, infact. Featuring simply the standard version of the Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade and Candleabration song, ‘Just Like We Dreamed It’, along with an instrumental version, the CD is priced at the standard 5,50€ and presented in a pastel and navy blue cardboard sleeve with the “15 Magical Years” merchandise logo and illustrations of Mickey and Lumière.

The back cover features full lyrics, but also credits for the song. So, for the first time, we can learn that not only was the music executive produced (as expected) by the resort’s musical director Vasile Sirli, but also by well-known Disney theme parks musician Bruce Healey, most famous for his work on Disney’s Fantillusion.

We also learn that the vocals on the song were recorded by Renee Sandstrom and Ruben Martinez and, of course, the first thing to do here is a quick google of those names… Could either of them beat the “fun fact” power of Dancin’ (A Catchy Rhythm)‘s Joey Diggs being most famous for the “Always Coca-Cola” song?

Whilst Ruben Martinez is hard to source, only popping up on a handful of Disney remix CDs such as Mickey’s Dance Party, Renee Sandstrom (better known as Renee Sands) seems to be quite the cult star. A singer from a young age, she has cult status for starring as a young girl on the late 1980s MGM show “Kids Incorporated”, which it seems was picked up by The Disney Channel after its first season. Wikipedia introduces it by describing “The series revolved around a group of children and teenagers who performed in their own rock group, Kids Incorporated.”

And now, the voices of both singers – both with previous Disney connections – can be heard several times daily in Disneyland Park, as well as countless homes across Europe and the world, thanks to this CD!

So is this it for 15th Anniversary music releases? Certainly not! Another interesting detail on the CD is that it carries the catalogue number EDDA036-2, whilst the last CD release, a re-release of the Disney’s Fantillusion Parade CD, carried the number EDDA034-2, leaving a gap in the line and hinting towards another CD yet to come. Another sneaky hint is the shiny sticker on the plastic wrap of the new CD, proclaiming “15 Magical Years in Music”. For the resort to produce a special sticker just for this CD is unlikely, and whilst this CD features brand new music, the sticker appears to hint towards a release featuring music from throughout the fifteen years.

Perhaps those whispers of a special album, or even double album are getting a bit louder, then. We’d better keep our eyes (and ears) open…

You can find more information about the CD, and every other music release in the resort’s 15-year history, on our own Disneyland Resort Paris CD Archive, which also features 30-second previews from each track.

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