It may seem hard to believe, but it is already a month since Disneyland Paris dazzled fans and guests on the 25th anniversary of its opening day. It no doubt be a day that will go down in history for the resort. A day that those in attendance will talk about in years to come, the “I was there” story to tell their peers and younger. As one of the very lucky guests to Disneyland Park that day I know I will always look back at that Wednesday very fondly as one of the greatest DLP in its history.
For so many fans – myself included – this was a must visit day planned years in advance. While none of us knew what to expect from the resort, we knew that it was always going to be a special day. So, to celebrate a month since Catherine Powell and her fellow cast members presented Disneyland Paris to the world in bright lights and bells, here is my 5 reasons I loved 12th April 2017 and why for me made up a major chunk of my Best ever trip.
A truly unique experience
Everybody does Disneyland Paris differently. Every has their own little techniques and quirks to get the absolute most of their Disney holiday. No matter what your usual plan or style of exploring Disneyland Park is that all went out the window on 12th April. The entire day was a completely unique experience that was unlike any other spent in the resort. Early mornings are part and parcel of a DLP trip, but being outside the security tent just after 6am was a brand new one for me, as too was singing “Happy Birthday” to the resort while waiting for the entrance turnstiles to open.
This was a trend for the entire day – and everyone did it differently. While many spent the bulk of their day queuing for characters I was sat in front of the castle, waiting (and burning in the intense heat) for the cavalcade and parade shows. In what was an absolute first for me, I had spent an entire day in Disneyland Park without entering a single attraction.
I wouldn’t have had any other way, either. For this trip I was in DLP for 5 days in total. That means I had the best part of 4 of them to spend queuing for attractions, exploring my favourite areas and doing the things I always do at Disneyland Park. 12th April however was a very different day, with of a very unique happenings throughout the day which were always going to take paramount.
Without a doubt the major, headline event of the 12th April was the titled Grand Celebration that welcomed guests during the park’s opening hour. After the fantastic cast member flash mob arranged for the 20th anniversary in 2012, DLP had a level of expectation to meet particularly with so many fans discussing this day for so long.
Boy, we were not disappointed.
Taking a heavy emphasis of characters and performers, the entire event was an onslaught of Disney personnel common and rare parading down central plaza and Main Street. If you weren’t there you have probably seen the photos online, but seeing forgotten favourites like Milo and Kida, Roger Rabbit and all seven dwarves celebrate the silver anniversary day was unlike anything I gave ever seen before. Even Oswald – the forgotten legend of Disney history and a beloved favourite of mine – took to the brick paved entrance land for the very first time, must to my escastic excitement. Sorry to everyone around me at the time!
On top of what felt like a never ending roster of characters, the Grand Celebration also saw totally unquie character outfits created specifically for the event. Following on from the regular castle stage show, DLP arranged this walkabout by representation of each land with performers and characters selected to best suit the 5 kingdoms that make up Disneyland Park. While all of them were top notch and full of detail and theming, the standout by far were the Discoveryland outfits taking a full steampunk approach that wouldn’t look out of place in the mind of Jules Verne. I said this some several times on the day but these outfits simply must make their wait onto Stars on Parade to accompany the opening float. Mickey and co. giant telescope and book’s steampunk design and rich detail goes hand in hand with these performer clothing; it would be a crime to let them go to waste.
The atmosphere and presentation
Similarly to how the routine and standard approach to a day at Disney was totally different on the 12th April, the same could be said for the whole atmosphere of the resort. With so many diehard DLP fans in the park at the same time, all flabbergasted by the Grand Celebration, the ethos directly after it was something I had never seen before. Everyone was in a delighted state of shock by what they had just saw – a little bit doubting whether or not it was a dream from created by the lack of sleep. Disneyland Paris has always and will always be an atmosphere or joy and happiness but that morning it felt like it was brought up several gears. You couldn’t help but have a huge grin on your face, everyone from guests and fans to cast members seemed proud to be there.
It was a feeling that only escalated throughout the entire day. The speculation and excitement over the cavalcades, the cheers and applaudes when our steampunk Maleficent breathed her fiery breath, the joy of meeting characters you never thought would in Disneyland Paris. All of it was a true celebration of the day – bookended perfectly by two stellar events.
The Goodnight Kiss
This hidden feature of the 25th anniversary has received a welcomed return by fans at park close every night as Mickey waves to his adoring fans and guests to thank them for such a swell day. It’s a great little way to wrap up the Disneyland experience and, as Imagineering puts it, a goodnight kiss before you leave. On the 12th April however, DLP were determined to pride of the Disney world. A single goodnight kiss wasn’t going to do.
In a rare but very pleasant twist for Disneyland Paris, virtually everything regarding this day was kept a secret. There were no leaks, no concept art spilling online and no one could categorically say what would and would not happen. Our eyebrows began to raise when we noticed on the special 12th April park programme that the Goodnight Kiss was specifically listed as an event; something that doesn’t happen for ‘normal’ days in the park.
This soon got the speculative tongues wagging. Something unique must be happening here, why else would it be given a dedicated space on an already full programme table?
We were right, wow we were right. Opposed to just the main mouse wishing guests a safe journey to their hotels and homes, we were greeted with all TWELVE of the VIP guests of the day, each in their unique outfits and giving their own remarks on the day. You may not have been able to meet or interact with them (apart from the odd wave) but seeing all these characters together, all in special outfits, in the dark of Disneyland Park night was a total unique experience that won’t be replicated again.
What truly made this was the choice of song for the Goodnight Kiss – a slowed down version of the 12th’s ‘Everyday’s a Celebration’. It was the perfect way to wrap up what was the perfect day, a winded down, almost romantic in style version of the upbeat positive tune we’ve had stuck in our heads all day.
It was impossible not to get emotional while watching this, especially if like me you let your mind wander. 25 years to the day our beloved park opened. 25 years of history, of millions upon millions of guests having unforgettable experiences, I could not help but think about it as that beautiful song rang out on Town Square. I stood in front of the gazebo, phone in hand snapping away, and I thought of all the people who walked under that station over the years. I thought about how this all started as an idea to bring The Walt Disney Company to Europe, and some 30 years later means the world to so many of us.
It was the perfect crescendo to the last quarter century of Disneyland Paris. Everything that came before, from its official opening in ’92 to the 5th, 15th and 20th celebrations, it felt like they were all building to this moment; to this amazing day. I’ve never been more proud to call myself a DLP and that I grew up with this resort.
Sharing it with friends
Yes, I’m going all soppy for the last one. It’s true though, my absolute favourite memory from this trip – and the prime reason I loved it so much – was being able to meet and hang out with so many friends from the Disneyland Paris community.
Living in Northern Ireland, it’s a rarity for me to meet many fellow fans either at DLP or at the various fan meet ups. It’s heartbreaking every time I miss out on an opportunity as I see so many people from this fandom, specifically on Twitter, as genuine real friends of mine.
This April trip – and the 12th specifically – was unlike any other. From start to finish I was surrounded by fellow Disney geeks, fellow friends, who all share the same passion and love for Disney and Disneyland Paris as I do. Pretty much from the moment I left my hotel room, half asleep at 6am to the moment I got back, exhausted as it approached midnight, I was with some amazing people and they all know who they are. We sang, we laughed, we cried with joy, we ran like eejits to get park programmes. Above all else, the 12th April 2017 for me will remembered for all the fun and memories I had with my friends; and I thank you all for being a part of it.