It's kind of funny to think that Fantasmic! opened in Disneyland on May 13, 1992, just 1 month after the April 12, 1992 grand opening of the EuroDisney Resort (as it was then called).
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Disneyland Paris has always been considered the most beautiful of the Magic Kingdoms. This theme park might also have the very best versions of Pirates, the Mansion (Phantom Manor in Paris), Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain. Not to mention the most magical & fanciful castle. But due to financial issues (not to mention logistical problems), Disneyland Paris has never had a complete night-time offering.
Oh, sure. Every summer, a fireworks show (EX: "Tinkerbell's Fantasy in the Sky," then "Wishes" in 2005 followed by the " Enchanted Fireworks") used to light up the sky. While during the summer and over the Christmas season, first the Main Street Electrical Parade (i.e. the WDW version from 1992 'til 2003) and then Fantillusions from the Tokyo Resort rolled through that theme park.
Yet for all that time, Disneyland Paris never had a show-stopping night-time spectacle to rival Disneyland's Fantasmic!, Epcot's Illuminations and similar offerings around the world.
Well, now it does. In fact, Disney DREAMS just might be the most magical & heart-warming night-time theme park spectacular of them all.
This past Saturday, I had the luck of being invited to the Disney DREAM press event by Steve Davison, the creative mind behind this new Disneyland Paris show. And having chatted with his team, I have to admit that I was impressed by what was done. Especially when you consider what the stakes were with this baby.
While Davison acted as director, it was Sayre Wiseman who served as this theme park show's executive producer. Technical experts Sandra Halloran, Chuck Davis, Thom Erbentraut, Brian Larsh and Kris Murray worked with Katy Harris, the VP of Entertainment for Disneyland Paris (Katy deserved some special notice here, given that she served as the link between the California team and the Paris Team working on this show). And this team -- along with all of their collaborators around the globe -- came together to create Disney DREAMS.
(L to R) Andrea Monti, Dave Bossert and his wife Nancyat Saturday night's Disney DREAMS premiere event
It's worth noting here that a ton of new animation was created for this show. Steve asked Dave Bossert, Creative Director and Head of Special Projects at Walt Disney Animation Studios, to direct the many new scenes & moments which were needed to tell the story of Peter Pan's shadow escaping and then spilling the magic of the Second Star to the Right out into the Paris night.
That's the event which sets Disney DREAMS in motion, a laugh-filled yet spine-chilling and then ultimately moving 19 minutes of pure Disney magic which happens above, next to and is projected directly onto Sleeping Beauty Castle.
As for describing what this show is actually like ... We are treated to a moving spectacle of projections (think "The Magic, Memories and You" only plussed) on the castle with perfectly timed fireworks, amazing LED displays (the castle is now covered with lights and fiber-optics which are virtually invisible during the day but really come alive at night,) fire (12 flame throwers on all sides of the castle) as well as water fountains & screens (similar to those used with DCA's "World of Color" lagoon show).
This is where -- as a Disney fan -- I had the feeling the DREAMS team really outdid themselves. They took everything that they learned in the 20 years since Fantasmic! had first been presented and then put all of these pieces together in a way that constructed the perfect story to tell in and around Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris. More to the point, they obviously learned from DCA's "World of Color" show (which has sometimes been criticized for having no story) by giving this Disney DREAMS a real narrative thread (i.e. a shadow escapes in the land of DREAMS) to hang its individual scenes and sequences upon.
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As for the Disney DREAM press event, it was very well planned by the Disneyland Paris team. Saturday evening's entertainment started off with a gala dinner in the Disney Village event tent. Which was where various Imagineering & Disney heads, well-known actors like Salma Hayek and Jean Reno, ex-French football star Zinedine Zidane -- not to mention 2000 invited guests, journalists and representatives of the Disney fan base -- were wined & dined.
Photo by Andrea Monti
Imagineering management was out in force that night. Among those present was WDI President Bruce Vaughn, VP Tony Baxter (who managed the EuroDisneyland creation 20 years ago), present DLP creative Head Tom Fitzgerald as well as the DREAMS Team.
Once the gala dinner was completed, the guests then moved from the Disney Village area into the theme park itself. As they were directed to "follow the light," these party goers were greeted by Disneyland Paris cast members waving LED flags. Along Town Square were the same giant Tigger, Genie, Lumiere and Sebastian light puppets which had entertained guests at DCA's World of Color premier event. Which -- I thought -- was a nice and fitting touch.
While they waited in the Town Square area, these guests were treated to a speech by EuroDisney S.C.A. (i.e. the company that actually runs the Disneyland Paris Resort) president Philippe Gas. With videos playing behind him which showed the construction of this theme park, Gas talked about how important Disney DREAMS will be to the resort. Given that it will reposition this theme park's night-time offerings, not to mention change the way Guests will experience their Disneyland Paris visit.
(L to R) EuroDisney SCA President Phillipe Gas, MickeyMouse and French footbal great Zinedine Zadine. Photo by Andrea Monti
From there, everyone was invited into this theme park's Central Plaza. And at 11:34 p.m., the Second Star to the Right began shining and filling the Disneyland Paris sky with its magical light. Soon after, Peter Pan and Wendy appeared on water screens flanking Sleeping Beauty Castle and began telling their story of light, fireworks, water fountains, projections and music.
It was pure Disney magic.
It was a just like a dream.
It was Disney DREAMS.
Pity the show is in Eurodisney. Its is easier for me to get to France living in the UK but after visiting twice I will never visit again and stick with my yearly visit to Walt Disney World.
The difference in customer service and staff attitude is night and day, the Americans are kind and courteous while the French are at times plain rude.
I wish they had built it in Spain instead.
Was SO hoping Hunchback would be included, and he is. Yay for that. Boo for budget-friendly projection shows. They must be dancing in the streets at all the cost savings use this low-level pyro vs. traditional Fantasy in the Sky. Plus, Fantasyland now has to be closed for at least 2 hours per night. Win-win for DLP. Clever re-use of the Ursula and Maleficent lines from Fantasmic, too.
Wow, that is some show. thanks for sharing the info. Disneyland Paris is the most beautiful of the parks. And I have to say I found most of the staff to be very friendly.
John, I agree. The park is hands down the most fully realized Magic Kingdom. But the employees were vile when i visited. Still a once in a life time and magical trip! Awesome.
Wow! That´s a big step for the resort.
For the CM/american thing: I can clearly say I had the worst CM expierences ever in Disneyland Anaheim;-) So don´t built the dream of the glory land somewhere over the atlantic ocean...
I´ve also been to DLP one and I didn´t like the castmembers either compared to WDW. The park is good but doesn´t fit very well outside de US. The show is wonderfull and has a story! I hate World of Coulor, Sourin, the castle projection show at MC (with the horrible guest photos) lacking the story part, a trademark for Diisney in my opiniion.