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Disneyland Paris makes its nighttime spectacular even more magical by adding "Brave" & "Lion King" -themed scenes to Disney Dreams!

Disneyland Paris makes its nighttime spectacular even more magical by adding "Brave" & "Lion King" -themed scenes to Disney Dreams!

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One really has to tip their colorful, blinking mouse ears to the Disneyland Paris Creative Entertainment team. Between those two new scenes that were just added to the Disney Dreams! nighttime spectacular and that "Glow with the Show" technology which made its international debut this past weekend, DLP is now a brightly shining star in the theme park heavens.

Which -- as you may recall -- wasn't always the case. Back in April of 1992 when this $4 billion project first opened to the public, what was then known as Euro Disney faced an awful lot of challenges. Chief among these being that Europe was right in the middle of a recession when this theme park & resort welcomed its first Guests.

So admittedly it did take the eventually-renamed Disneyland Paris a few years to find its  financial footing. Not to mention overcoming some early negative reviews. But starting in 1998 - 2002, things began to turn around as that theme park slowly started eeking out a profit. And what with the opening of the commercial city of Val d'Europe (Think Celebration, Florida but with a solid business park as well as an aesthetically French design sensibility) and the March 2002 of Walt Disney Studios Park, things definitely appeared headed in the right direction.

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Mind you, it definitely took some guts to open a second theme park onsite in those terrible-for-tourism post 9/11 days. Not to mention that -- on opening day -- (in spite of some genuinely terrific shows like CineMagique and Animagique) WDSP with its modest assortment of attractions obviously paled in comparison to the far more elaborate & ambitious DLP. Which was located right next door.

But for the folks who actually ran the Disneyland Paris Resort, they didn't obsess on any of this project's perceived deficiencies. They just focused on continually making improvements. Doing things like retheming Discoveryland's main thrill ride as Space Mountain: Mission 2 or adding Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast to DLP's assortment of attractions. Doing whatever they could to give Guests yet another reason to return to this Resort's two theme parks and re-experience the magic.

One of the real highlights of this "plussing" effort was Disneyland Paris' "Once Upon a Dream" parade, which premiered at that theme park in March of 2007 as part of the DLP Resort's 15th anniversary celebration. Directed by Katy Harris, "Once Upon a Dream" was the first DLP parade to be designed & built entirely in France. Thanks to its catchy theme song ("Just Like We Dreamed It") as well as its fun choreography, "Once Upon a Dream" quickly became a fan favorite at that theme park.

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Now one thing that the DLP Resort seemed to be missing was a nighttime spectacular point-of-view. Something along the lines of Fantasmic!, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth or Remember Dreams Come True that would then give Guests an additional reason to linger at Disneyland Paris and/or the Walt Disney Studios Park after the sun set. 

But all that changed when Steve Davison crossed the Atlantic. As anyone who's seen "Believe" at Disneyland Park, "Wishes" at WDW's Magic Kingdom, "World of Color" at Disney California Adventure or "Fantasmic!" at Tokyo DisneySea will tell you, Steve has a real knack when it comes to serving up a truly spectacular nighttime spectacular. Which is just what Davison was looking to produce for Disneyland Paris' 20th anniversary.

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As you may recall from my earlier JHM article, Steve put together a pretty stellar team for his Disney Dream! project. Right off the bat, he recruited Katy to be his show director in Paris. Making Ms. Harris his eyes, ears and feet on the ground at the Disneyland Paris theme park. Davison also asked Sayre Wiseman to serve as this nighttime spectacular's producer and tapped Ben Spalding to handle the show quality side of this production. To round out this team, Steve asked Chuck Davis to be Disney Dream!'s technical manager, Sandra Halloran to serve as stage manager, Claude Lifante as laser designer and Brian Larsh to be the show programmer.

Right from the get-go when Disney Dreams! debuted at Disneyland Paris back on April 1, 2012, this new nighttime spectacular has been a hit with the theme park-going public. Achieving a 95% Guest satisfaction rate, or so says DLP's survey time.

But given that Phillipe Gas, Disneyland Paris President, said on the night that Disney Dreams! opened that he hoped this nighttime spectacular would continue to change & grow ... Well, that's just Steve, Katy & Co. has tried to do with this DLP show.

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Disney Dreams! first evolution came this past Saturday night when members of the press, fan site webmasters and VIPs were invited out to Marne la Vallee (i.e, the town where Disneyland Paris actually located. Much the same way that Anaheim serves as the home of the Disneyland Resort) to experience the two new scenes that had just been folded into this nighttime spectacular.

To give you a little background on how these two new sequences were created: The soundtrack for these Disney Dreams! segments were recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London (Yep. Right where the Beatles recorded many of their albums & singles between 1962 and 1970). And as to when these two scenes were then inserted into DLP's nighttime spectacular, Steve, Katy and their team perfected the programming of these new additions during two long, cold winter nights in early March.

It's worth noting here that it did took a lot of doing to bring the Disney Dreams! creative team back together to ride herd on the finaling of these two new scenes. Especially given that Ms. Harris had been stateside to help "plus" the "Celebrate the Magic" castle projection show for WDW's Magic Kingdom while Mr. Davison was knee-deep in getting Tokyo Disneyland's new "Happiness is Here" parade ready for its April 15th debut (where it will then help kick-off TDL's 30th anniversary celebration). But since Disneyland Paris had just decided to extend its 20th anniversary celebration by another six months, it was crucial that the Resort bring something new to the party. Which is the Disney Dreams! team returned to Marne La Vallee in the middle of the night to make sure that these two new sequences for this theme park's nighttime spectacular were programmed just right.

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"So what are these new scenes actually look like?," you ask. Drawing their inspiration from Disney's "The The Lion King" and Pixar's "Brave," these two new segments in Disney Dreams! replace the show's "Mary Poppins" Step In Time & "Jungle Book" number. Though (in an artful bit of recycling), Steve, Katy & Co. took the beautiful waterfall effect from the "Jungle Book" and then turned that show element into a fun background for this nighttime spectacular's new "Hakuna Matata" number.

As you might expect, Disney Dreams! new "Lion King" segment was loaded with colorful projections that were powered by this film's Academy Award-winning score & songs. But if you were to ask me which of the two new additions to this nighttime spectacular was the most visually impressive, I'd have to say that it was the "Brave" sequence.

This new Pixar portion of the show starts off with Merida appearing as the wonderful song "Touch the Sky" plays in the background. Then as our favorite Scottish Princess shoots her arrows, water jets follow the path of those arrows. Via projections, Merida's father then appears with the three clans and they all performs a water & laser dance to Celtic pipe music. (Having seen a similar sort of scene presented as part of DCA's "World of  Color," I can definitively say that the Disney Dreams! version comes out on top thanks to the clever use of those lasers).

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But what really helped to make last Saturday night's premiere performance of this newly enhanced version of Disney Dreams! memorable was the DLP debut of "Glow with the Show." This technology was developed by Chuck Davis's team for Steve Davison's "World of Color" show and made its theme park premiere at Disney California Adventure Park back in  June of 2012. And it's no small point of pride for the Disneyland Paris Creative Entertainment team that it was DLP -- rather than the Tokyo Disney Resort -- which was chosen for the international debut of this amazing technology.

Mind you, there are a few key differences between the "Glow with the Show" ears that are available for purchase at DCA and the ones that are now on sale at Disneyland Paris. Chief among these being that the DLP versions are being called "Disney Light'Ears," a name that sounds good in both French & English. The Parisian version will be powered by two AA batteries, rather than the 3 AAAs that are used to light up their Californian cousins. Best of all, the "Disney Light'Ears" has a much easier-to-find-and-then-operate on and off switch. Which is really going to help extend the lives of those AA batteries.

Now just so you know: While those media reps & VIPs were fitted with "Glow with the Show" technology this past Saturday night for the newly enhanced Disney Dreams!, "Disney Light'Ears" won't actually be debuting at DLP 'til July.

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But even without that "Glow with the Show" technology, Disney Dreams! remains a genuinely impressive show. With its 15 flamethrowers, each on a retractable motorized arm. Not to mention this nighttime spectacular's 16 HiDef video projectors and 2 lasers. Each of them precisely focused on this theme park's central structure within 1MM, which is what makes possible to pull off all of those blow-your-mind scenes in Disney Dreams! (EX: Like that moment in the show where the Genie seemingly makes Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant completely disappear. Only to then have DLP's castle magically reappear seconds later). And it's all capped off by that mechanical "Second Star to the Right" loaded with LED which rises out of the castle's tower at a crucial moment in this show.

And speaking of the key elements from Peter Pan 's mythology that drive Disney Dreams! : The use of Peter's shadow to drive the story of this nighttime spectacular is yet another piece of artful recycling. To explain: What Steve Davison had originally wanted to do with DCA's "World of Color" was have the sequences in that water-and-light show linked by a brand-new comical character called Little Squirt. Who was supposed to be this mischievous little fountain that would periodically pop up in the show and wordlessly either comment on the action and/or help to move the story along.

Anyway, as Disney California Adventure's nighttime waterfront show was fine-tuned during its late-night rehearsal obvious, it became more & more obvious that Little Squirt wasn't really an essential storytelling element for "World of Color." But even so, Steve still loved the idea of using an essentially silent character who -- just through his or her pantomime skills -- could suddenly come in and then comment on a show's action. Which is why -- when the Disneyland Paris Creative Entertainment team decided to use Peter Pan as the central character for DLP's castle projection show -- Davison decided to resurrect the Little Squirt concept. Only this time around, it would be Peter's shadow that linked this show's various story elements and/or mischievously commented on Disney Dreams!'s action.

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So the morale of today's story is: Recycling isn't just good for the environment. By borrowing bits & pieces (not to mention key creative concepts) from earlier theme park shows like "The Memories, The Magic and You!" at WDW's Magic Kingdom and DCA's "World of Color," Disneyland Paris wound up with a spectacular new piece of nighttime entertainment. Which -- thanks to DLP's commitment to keeping Disney Dreams! fresh -- continues to delight & amazing theme park goers with brand-new scenes projected right onto Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.

So the next time you're at the Disneyland Paris Resort, be sure and check out Disney Dreams! But don't be concerned if you're still a year or more away from making a return trip to DLP. Based on what I heard just this past weekend, this nighttime spectacular is expected to be presented nightly at this theme park at least through 2017. It might even wind extending through 2019.

Which -- to my way of thinking, anyway -- is a Disney Dreams! come true.

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  • I adored the show when I saw it. Incredible.

  • Small Correction, Claude Lifante is the laser designer and Brian Larsh the show programmer.

  • Ottimo articolo, con informazioni davvero interessanti! Bravissimo!

  • It surely is fantastic.  A lot of kids definitely enjoyed the show.

  • Thanks "BlogPoster". I hope CLaude and Brian didn't laugh to much when being swapped....

  • I saw Lion King Broadway show last weekend! Such a GREAT show! I loved it..

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