The old, the new, and the confusing of Disney Stars on Parade

With the reveal of the 25th anniversary decorations just a few days ago, I predicted that this would kick start the hype machine for Disneyland Paris’ silver anniversary and we could expect more announcements as the weeks and months progress. It appears that I was indeed correct in this assumption, though I didn’t expect a second piece of news to be quite this soon!

Appearing in an official DLP news piece from earlier this week (that has seemingly slipped the net of everyone in the community up until today), details have been revealed on the floats of the upcoming new parade, Disney Stars on Parade. On first inspection things sound very interesting and exciting; if a little bit treading in familiar waters.

As it the norm in Disney parades, Stars on Parade (which I hear by christen with the abbreviation, “SoP”) will contest of just shy a dozen floats each with of a different theme. Much like its Magic on Parade predecessor, Stars‘ floats have been uniquely named appropriate to their theme. This time around, Disney will encourage us to ‘discover’ the Magic, Friendship, Adventure, Imagination, A New World, Enchatment, Romance and Wonder of this new daily afternoon entertainment.

All well and good names I’m sure you’ll agree, my only issue is the lack of syngery between them and the parade-wide name. We are still none the wiser whether the ‘Stars’ in Stars on Parade alludes to the Disney characters boasting the same popularity and love of Hollywood stars, or is in reference to actual star constellations – something that is seen in the rest of the 25th anniversary theme. Perhaps it would have been a better idea to have titled the parade closer to the individual floats. ‘Disney Discovery on Parade’ for example could have worked, being as each of the float’s official names start with the word ‘Discover’ (Discover Magic, Discover Friendship etc.)

For the floats themselves, we shall have 8 to enjoy for this new chapter in the Disneyland Park parade story. Rather than being saved for the finale, Mickey and pals will allegedly take front and center this time around and open up the parade donning the clothes of “explorers of the future”. All sounds rather interesting but what really has my attention is the inclusion of the future… Set designer Olivier Dusautoir claims this will be a “future in which technology retains a magical aspect” which only keeps me even more speculative. Will the fab 5’s outfits harken to the Discoveryland theme of the visionary future, or are we going to see a futuristic, Big Hero 6 aesthetic Mickey with bright neon lights and holograms? There is another possibility however. Though not strictly future, you know what story is all about exploration and heavily consists of technology that could be seen as magic? Star Wars. You heard it here first, Mickey and friends are going to be Jedis on the first float! I wonder what colour their lightsabers will be?

That last one is just a joke, by the way. Let’s shelve that idea for next year’s Season of the Force. And while we’re at it, let get Darth Vader to patrol the parks in search for rowdy guests or rule breakers.

The next three floats lined up for Stars on Parade will surely all bring back some memories to those familiar with most Parisian parades of old. ‘Discover Friendship’, transporting the Toy Story crew, will take the shape of Buzz’s rocket towing an oversized truck while The Jungle Book and Lion King guys once again pair up to bring two continents together in ‘Discover Adventure’. Perhaps in a poetically ironic way, ‘Discover Imagination’ uses the extensively overused poster boy of DLP that is Peter Pan, captaining Hook’s pirate ship while the single-handed pirate looks on from Skull Rock. If rumours are to be believed, two of these floats will be those previously seen in the former Tokyo Jubilation Parade, so we already have a very good idea how they will appear going down Main Street; hopefully with a new lick of paint.

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While I’m sure these will all be pretty good floats in their own right, I can’t help but be disappointed with the roaster once again selected in what’s the major bulk of the parade. Coming out of 10 years of Once Upon a Dream then Magic on Parade, it would have been nice to have seen different characters and movies represented rather than exactly the same ones again for another decade. There’s no denying, Pan, Toy Story, Lion King and Jungle Book are popular movies, but they are not by any means the only success stories of Disney animation. Even looking at the past 10 years, we have Moana, Zootopia, Big Hero 6 or Wreck-It Ralph that all been financial and critical successes which could greatly benefit from a bigger Disneyland Paris presence in the form of a parade float. That’s not even mentioning the forgotten gems that have next to no representation in the resort: where’s all the love for Hercules? Lady and the Tramp? Mulan? So many wonderful films shunned in favour for the same movies year in, year out.

Moving onwards, our next float on this exploration takes us to the Pacific coastlines of Sydney and California as ‘Discover A New World’ promises to leave guests “starry-eyed” with the gang from Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. The most mysterious of the floats as containing the least information on, this will reportedly consist of a large turtle I presume to be Crush swimming over a large coral festation below.

Okay… I don’t really get this one if I’m honest. As fun and successful as Finding Nemo was when it swam our way 14 years ago, Finding Dory failed to capture the same magic of its predecessor and – while being a big financial success for Pixar – I don’t think it will resonate in the memories of fans quite as much as some their other films. Indeed, I’m quite sceptical on how this float will appear when Stars on Parade is rolled out in March. A search online has presented me a former parade float from Disney California Adventure which appears to match up perfectly with the description we’re given. The only problem is it looks terrible. Very gaudy and blandly themed with Crush resembling more like something from War of the Worlds than a swimming turtle, let’s hope if this is what we’re getting it gets some much needed attention from Imagineering.

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After our journey around the world it’s time for a bit of action, and we will definitely get that with the ‘Discover Enchantment’ float. Being confirmed for a while now (and taking pride and place of DLP’s 25th anniversary marketing), Main Street will finally become witness to the awesome might of the Steampunk Maleficent that blew fans away when it debuted in WDW’s Festival of Fantasy parade. It is an absolute joy to have our own version of this new icon of Disney park entertainment and fittingly so as Dusautoir correctly comments, it is very Jules Verne inspired with mechanical insides and copper supports. Maybe someday we’ll get a fully steampunk inspired Disney parade that will adopt Discovery in the title, the same time Discoveryland is brought back to is former glory (Don’t wake me up, I want to stay in this dream of mine)?

The penultimate float in our parade of star discovering is a return to many fan favourites and a staple of Disney; the princesses. Putting those old assets to good use, ‘Discover Romance’ looks to reuse the horse and carriages from Magic on Parade to this time transport Rapunzel, Cinderella and Snow White on their merry ways to a happy ever after.

I like the princesses, and I’ve nothing against any of the three DLP have chosen to represent the squad (Rapunzel is up there as one of my favourites), but I cannot help but feel underwhelmed over this selection and float, again. I shall be a little lenient on the reuse of the carriages, they are very pretty and who knows, maybe they’ll get unique new look for the 25th (silver metallic carriages? Go on. You know you want to Disney), not forgetting the park isn’t exactly made of money so if they want to save a bit by reusing one float, go for it. What I’m more disappointed in is that these will seemingly be the only princesses to appear; save for two Norwegians I’ll discuss later. We are constrained by the number of carriages we have at our disposal, but I see no reason why the princesses cannot be cycled in and our each parade showing on a random basis to keep variety and ensure everyone gets a run out. Indeed France’s very own Belle has a new live action movie out the very month the parade is scheduled to debut, so the fact she is absent from the entirety of Stars on Parade is hugely perplexing to me. Of course, this is one float that has the possibility to change its passengers, and I fully expect them to eventually, so I’m not up in arms too much just yet. More wearily preparing them on the edge of my seat.

It may be up for debate whether or not Disney are saving the best for last, but there’s no denying they will be ending our new parade with the biggest success story in decades. In case you haven’t guessed yet, ‘Discover Wonder’ will close Stars on Parade with Frozen, as Anna and Elsa stand atop the ice castle’s magestic balcony, with some of their friends tagging along for the ride.

Really, there was no surprise at all Frozen was going to have a full float in this parade, and it makes total sense why they are being saved as the finale. The impact the characters, songs and story has made on fans young and old rivals practically everything the Mouse has produced for generations. What perhaps mostly intrigues me though is the closing paragraph that describes Elsa’s cape leaving “a sense of wonder” in the air that “remains long after the last float of Disney Stars on Parade has passed by.” Now, this all could just be marketing speak, and it most probably is, but I can’t be the only one who reads that and thinks perhaps will see snow fall onto the streets of Main Street once again as the Queen of Arendelle wraps up the parade? If Disney can give us a wintery landscape several times a day at Christmas, there’s no argument they could throughout the rest of the year as well. While it may detract a little from the speciality of that holiday, nothing says ‘celebrating 25 years of magic’ quite like our star girl using her’s.

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With that, our journey is complete. After 8 floats I personally have been taken on a speculative rollercoaster of excitement, melancholy, fanboy hype and confusion. There’s no denying I was expecting something a little more from the 25th anniversary’s parade, after all we have been anticipating and speculating over this for years, but I will remain grounded in my expectations and be sure to go into my first viewing with an opened mind to take everything as I see it. I would have certainly liked to have seen more variety in characters and IPs used in Stars on Parade but there is always hope for the future. DLP swapping out floats and retheming existing one isn’t an unheard of concept. We just may have to wait until the silver has worn out and the pearl celebration, whatever it may be, kicks off in 5 years time.

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