It's been one of the major things that's kept Disneyland Resort Paris afloat in the last few years. DLP management based its whole summer marketing campaign purely on it. And it might just be what keeps the turnstiles spinning during the Disneyland Paris Resort's slow times of year.
What am I talking about? Disneyland Paris' Entertainment offerings. Today's article will highlight DLP's Halloween and Xmas offerings for this year. Plus a few tidbits about Disneyland Paris' Entertainment Office might have in store for DLP visitors in the future.
But -- before we get started here -- first a bit of background info. You see, when they were initially designing Europe's Magic Kingdom, the Imagineers realised that this resort would undoubtedly face some of the same challenges that Tokyo Disneyland faced. As in: There would be significant seasonal shifts in attendance levels. What with European concentrating most of their holidays in the summer and during the Christmas/New Years week.
This is WDI -- as they were planning Euro Disneyland -- mapped out some particularly ambitious expansion plans for this theme park. Thinking that -- in order to keep the crowds coming -- Euro Disneyland was going to need to have at least one major new attraction open every single year.
But then the EuroDisney (now Disneyland Paris) Resort opened in April 1992 and was almost immediately beset with financial problems. Which meant that it just wasn't financially feasible for the theme park to add a major new attraction every single year. Which was what forced EuroDisney SCA management to embrace a whole new battle plan to get guests to continue to visit the troubled resort afloat. Which was to produce seasonal, year round and country specific entertainment offerings for the theme park.
Take Halloween, for example. This is a world renown seasonal celebration which every Disney park worldwide now celebrates in it's own tailor-made fashion. But not even Tokyo Disneyland comes close to topping Paris when it comes to retheming its theme park in order to celebrate All Hallows Eve.
During this festive time of year, Frontierland and Main Street (as well as Fantasyland last year) become "Halloweenland" and "Spooky Street." SETEMO (the division of DLPR that deals with Walt Disney Imagineering and EDLP Entertainment) always does a top notch job when it comes to redecorating these parts of the park.
Main Street U.S.A.'s transformation into "Spooky Street" features small pumpkins, medium pumpkins and large pumpkins all over the place, as well as pumpkin-headed scarecrows in all the windows and on top of the buildings all along the street.
"Spooky Street" 's theming and color schemes are complimented by the "Lights of Winter" arches, which are already in place for their Xmas use. (FYI: These arches were the inspiration for Epcot's "Lights of Winter" display. Which serves as the transition area from Future World to the "Christmas 'Round the World" version of World Showcase). But -- during the month of October -- these arches are filled with orange light bulbs. Which -- when they're turned on at night -- bathe this whole part of the park in spooky Halloween colors.
The finishing touch is the big orange drops along Main Street U.S.A.'s streets and sidewalks. Which appear to have fallen from the buckets of paint that many of the pumpkin-headed scarecrows are carrying. The idea that you're supposed to get is: These scarecrows have been bewitched by some sorceress, who has ordered her hay-filled minions to move into Main Street U.S.A. and totally take over the place. Which is why they're repainting the place. To make it a fit home for a witch.
Meanwhile, over in Halloweenland (which is what Frontierland is called this time of year), this part of the theme park has become a nightmare come true for anyone who hates spiders, mummies or ghosts. Ghosts and ghoulies have taken over Thunder Mesa (the fictitious town in which DLP's Frontierland is supposedly set). Which is why guests are encountering creatures of the dark and evil lingering on virtually every corner.
The frights start right at the entrance of Halloweenland, where DLP guests will have to gather their courage if they're to pass under the world's largest spiderweb. This bit of seasonal decoration covers the entire courtyard area of Fort Comstock. It also features a giant spider that seems to menace each DLP visitor who dares to walk underneath it.
Mummy and witch walk-around characters continually wander the streets of Halloweenland. And -- up along Thunder Mesa's rooftops -- you'll along see clever displays featuring zombies & pumpkins. You'll even see ghoulish elements folded into what-used-to-be Frontierland's stage shows. As well as traditional Halloween mazes & trick-or-treat areas.
But this year, what's got people really talking about DLP's Halloweenland is the new "driver" of the Mummy Cruise Line. (This is what the "Mark Twain" is called this time of year. When the ship is covered - from stem to stern -- with cobwebs.) SETEMO has fashioned this large floating "Ghost" -- which, thanks to the clever positioning of a series of -- looks as if he's doomed to "drag" the Mummy Cruise Line from here to eternity down the Rivers of the Far West.
Even the "Wonderful World of Disney" parade receives a Halloween-themed facelift. With Disney's most memorable villains replaced the heroes in this particular pageant. So -- on the float where Aladdin usually rides a magic carpet - now it's Jafar who's soaring through the skies of Agrabah. And on the float where Ariel usually serenades DLP visitors with songs, Ursula has now planted her tentacles. And -- on the "Sleeping Beauty" float -- well, you may think that you're seeing double. As Maleficent (the evil fairy) seems to be commanding and controlling Maleficent (the fire-breathing dragon).
And -- just as they do back in the states at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom -- guests can purchase a special event on selected nights and experience all of DLP's usual Halloween fun ... plus some extra special events. These include a firework display that's filled with lots of creepy colors, some additional mazes with lots of spooky surprises, even a Heavy Metal band that performs in the Disney Village arena 'til the break of dawn.
Beginning in mid November, Disneyland Paris becomes a winter wonderland. As the theme park becomes bedecked with white twinkle lights, mistletoe hangs in every doorway and a huge Christmas tree rises up in Town Square. There's even some snow machines (which are turned on at selected moments during the day and night) which allow DLP guests to experience what it's like to be in a holiday blizzard while you're at this most magical of theme parks.
The park's hub area -- also known as DLP's Central Plaza -- is where a "Magical Christmas tree forest" will be set up. The gimmick behind this display is that the Disney characters themselves have supposedly decorated these trees. So -- for example -- Goofy's Xmas tree is upside-down. You get the idea, right?
All this, plus Disneyland Paris' new "Fantaillusions" night-time parade making appearances every night of the holiday season. Plus a nightly tree lightening ceremony. Plus a stage show that features Father Christmas himself. And did I mention that DLP's Fantasyland -- during this time of year -- is decorated as if it were a kid's wonderland (with gift boxes and Christmas decoration piled high everywhere)?
As I told you at the start of this article, the Disneyland Paris resort has come to rely heavily on these forms of seasonal entertainment in order to keep attendance levels high during the off-season. Whereas DLP's summer marketing campaign was solely built around the debut of the theme park's new night-time "Fantaillusions Parade" (Which was quite a success, by the way) during the slower, colder months (such as February), Disneyland Paris' ads and TV commercials typically hype several different seasonal shows. Including "Toontown Circus," "Jungle Book Carnival" and the "Lion King Carnival."
Over at Walt Disney Studios, that movie-based theme park is looking to become the home of several different forms of Cinema festivals and tributes. Which -- hopefully, in the years to come -- will help transform WDS into a viable rival for the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals.
All in all, the Disneyland Paris Resort has shown -- by making judicious use of seasonal entertainment and special events -- it can keep the turnstiles spinning at its theme parks. Here's hoping that this period of heavy reliance on entertainment will one day give way to DLP being able to build a few new "E' Tickets.
That's it for today. 'Til next time, "ciao ciao!"