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Disneyland Paris celebrates its 25th anniversary... by looking to the future

April 12, 2017, 10:43 AM · MARNE-LA-VALLÉE, France — Disneyland Paris launched its 25th anniversary season last month, but the resort laid on special entertainment today to mark 25 years since the day of the grand opening back on April 12, 1992.

Today's events began with an hour-long extravaganza in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle – featuring just about every Disney character you could possibly think of, and a speech from Euro Disney President Catherine Powell. [The show begins at 10:41]

But the highlight was undoubtedly the climax of the ceremony, when the park's cast members took over, turning Main Street USA into a dance party to the sound of "Everyday's a Celebration," composed specifically for the event.

Between strikes, protests, and not-always-positive guest feedback, Disneyland Paris at times has had a rocky relationship with its cast members. Giving them the spotlight on a day like this was a powerful statement of intent, and reflects comments made by Powell at a roundtable last month: "To me, they are the guest experience. We have renovated the park, but they are now the next priority. They are everything. They are the Disney difference."

That multi-year renovation she referred to – dubbed Project Sparkle – has had a noticeable effect, from small changes like new lighting effects in Discoveryland and the return of the long-defunct geysers in Frontierland through to substantial ride renovations, including Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, with Hyperspace Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean (with added Jack Sparrow) opening this summer.

I wrote last month that the new nighttime show Illuminations felt like an artistic manifesto for the resort's future direction – less romance and intimacy, more bombast and bravado. As the focus now shifts from upgrades at the original park to the potential rebirth of Walt Disney Studios Park, we're likely to see that kind of blockbuster mentality in what arrives there.

The first example of that is the departure of CineMagique to make way for – so the rumours go – a Marvel themed stunt show. (The proximity of the CineMagique theatre to the Tower of Terror does suggest the possible arrival of Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout from Disney California Adventure too, should that be received as well in Anaheim as hoped, creating a mini Marvel Land.)

We'll find out over the next few months how successful The Walt Disney Company has been in its attempts to take financial control of the resort. If they're successful, we're likely to see a capital influx at Walt Disney Studios Park reminiscent of the late-noughties transformation of Disney California Adventure.

Although the now-legendary master plan for the park remains under lock and key, Walt Disney Imagineering creative executive Tom Fitzgerald is quoted in the newly released book "Disneyland Paris 25: From A to Z" suggesting that the park will double in size in the coming years.

(Speaking of which... I was given a copy of the book at the media event last month. I'm not normally fussed about merchandise, but it's a thing of beauty, celebrating the history and artistry of the resort in detail. Well worth hunting down one of the limited copies if you're on site during the anniversary.)

The 25th season is a celebration of Disneyland Paris's history, for sure. But more than that, it feels like a resort looking ambitiously to the future. The clues as to what that future will be are here – and we might start to see the specifics sooner rather than later.

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Replies (4)

April 12, 2017 at 4:03 PM · Disneyland Paris may not be a failure, but it hasn't been a success either. With Disney World being such a big draw for Europeans, Disney should try to make it so less people feel the need to travel to the U.S. and go to Paris instead. Next to Hong Kong, Walt Disney Studios Park was the worst theme park decision Disney has ever made. Disney needs to make that park just as good as its neighbor to make the resort a destination. Upgrade Toy Story Land into the one Florida is getting and put in the real Cars Land instead of of the current knock-off version. After Hollywood Paris is acceptable, expand Disneyland Paris itself in all those empty spaces that have been waiting since opening day to be used for expansion. Disney should have just filled in the expansion spaces years ago instead of building a second gate even smaller and worse than DCA. For some reason Disney decided to build a mediocre theme park next store to a decent theme park, instead of making the decent theme park better. It's taking a lot time, but Iger seems to slowly but surely be fixing Eisner's mistakes.
April 12, 2017 at 9:38 PM · The Toy Story Land in Paris is ghastly cheap. If that's any indiciation of what we have in store for Orlando then we are in for a great disaapointment.
April 13, 2017 at 8:47 AM · Thank god they haven't made it compulsory to learn a dance move here in the theme parks ,I would be that awkward employee who can't dance
April 13, 2017 at 6:20 PM · Getting rid of CineMagique would be a mistake - not only is it unique to Paris it's one of the few decent things about that park. If they need space for a Marvel stunt show, axe the awful backlot tour.

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