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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