Written by Davide Maugeri
Lately, I’ve had the pleasure to witness the dazzling and sparkling 25 Years Celebration at Disneyland Paris. Although I couldn’t be there on the park’s actual birthday (which featured an incredible grand opening ceremony and pageant I’m about to cover up later on in this article), I was still thrilled to find all the new shows and overall renewals the park has now in store. So if you’re planning to visit Disneyland Paris anytime soon, keep this article in mind in order to be able to enjoy this 25th Celebration the best way you can.
Here are the main changes, shows, and new additions that Disneyland Paris has to offer for its 25th birthday:
- Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris. The concept of this stage show is quite similar to Magic Kingdom’s «Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire» with which it also shares the same feeling of exhilaration and pretty much the same running time, too. Goofy and son are the hosts this time, while we discover one by one all of the park’s themed lands (Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tom… I mean, Discoveryland) in the form of a ballad. Then, at the show’s very last act, Mickey hops on stage while the audience goes wild, he thanks everyone and puts an end to the show. Personally, I really really loved this production’s wackiness, but at the same time, I loved its poetry and charm. I was really really glad to see Max again covering a major role and I really enjoyed the show’s immersive soundtrack too. That being said, I have a tip: If you want to give the characters a personal greeting, make sure you approach the castle’s arches around the end of the show. It will allow you to see them all very closely as they parade away. They might not have the time to stop by for an autograph but I can assure you each one of them will take its time to wave you back and send kisses. That’s pure magic right there!
- The Starlit Princess Waltz. This show is perfect princess material. Any princess fan will definitely melt in front of this one. All of the main princesses, from Tiana to Ariel, Rapunzel to Anna, Cinderella to Aurora and so on will introduce themselves to an of an un-fairytale-like troubadour. Choreographies are absolutely spot on and so is the magnificent soundtrack. The princesses dance and interact with each other until they get finally reunited with their significant other during the last triumphant ballet. Once more, if you want to make sure to bid the princesses your own farewell, don’t hesitate to park yourself on the bridge leading to the castle.
- Disney Stars on Parade: The park’s new daytime parade has arrived and it’s incredible. While the music might not be appreciated by everyone as it sounds a bit too modern and not so fairytale-like, the floats are absolutely huge and incredible! Fans from Florida will find the big steampunk dragon making his (her?) debut here in Paris under a slightly different form. Also, many other incredible floats can be found, like the giant book-o-matic machine featuring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Chip and Dale, the magnificent Toy Story one featuring the main characters from the saga, the amazing Finding Nemo one featuring (among others) a 16 feet tall Crush greeting guests as he swims by, the Jungle Book and Peter Pan floats are also very impressive. Sadly the princesses are all relegated to small carriages, which don’t feel as grand as the previous floats and very similar to the ones found in the park’s previous parade «Disney Magic on Parade». The parade ends with a grand Frozen float which can be a bit of a weird choice but still looks fantastic. Overall, the parade is one of the most impressive ones ever seen, even if Shanghai’s «Mickey’s Storybook Express» reigns undisputed as it beats Disney Stars in almost every way
- New Characters Meet ‘n’ Greet. More characters can be now found in the park to interact with, like for example Captain Jack Sparrow in front of the Pirates ride (now closed for refurbishment till July). I had the pleasure to meet him twice and get my autograph book signed, needless to say, he’s always lots of fun to interact with. Aladdin and Jasmine are also back and so are Peter and Wendy, while in Discoveryland you get the chance to meet Darth Vader every single day in front of a ride I’m about to talk about in a few seconds.
- Star Tours 2 – L’Aventure Continue (The Adventures Continue). The very last original Star Tours attraction in the world could once be found here in Disneyland Paris as it stayed operational until February 2016. Then it closed down shortly after, in order to make room for the highly acclaimed sequel, Star Tours 2. Nothing much to say here, if you’re familiar with the ride you won’t find anything different, except for the voices probably. Although the original Star Tours still featured some elements in English, Star Tours 2 has been completely dubbed in French (except for part of the safety spiel of course). Although I can almost understand this happening in Japan, I have some concerns on how the many non-French speaking tourists filling up Disneyland Paris every day will react to this.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: As I mentioned before, the Pirates ride is currently closed for refurbishments and it won’t reopen until July the 24th. That’s a bit of a shame, to be honest, but on the other hand, this version of the ride was in desperate need of a major overhaul, and once everything is completed, Disneyland Paris will finally get Jack Sparrow to feature inside the ride. It is rumored that there will be a similar effect to the one found in Shanghai when Jack comes back from the dead. It is also rumored that Angelica Teach will make an appearance where the dueling AA figures were once located. Could it be true?
- «Disney Illuminations». I saved the best for last, as they say, even if I have to admit, I’m really not a fan of Illuminations. This nighttime castle show is the successor of the highly acclaimed «Disney Dreams!» nighttime spectacular that lit up the Parisian castle from 2012 to March 2017. Sadly, Illuminations does NOT make Dreams! justice for a series of key factors I’m going to illustrate to you right away. First of all, the whole thing is almost a carbon copy of Shanghai Disneyland’s Ignite the Dream. Very few original things made their way into this show, pretty much all the rest is a blatant copy-paste. If compares to Dreams!, there’s a huge lack of plot and basic storyline. It sure is great to see Mickey as the main character, but that’s not enough to save this show. There’s been a dramatic change since the much more magic, romantic and nostalgic storytelling Dreams! used to have. Now all that matters seems to be the grandeur of visual effects. But Illuminations doesn’t even deliever that! The ending show for example is much less pyrotechnic if compared to the incredibly moving blastoff Dreams! finale. Also seeing Star Wars sequences being projected onto a fairytale medieval castle felt odd to say the least. The Beauty And the Beast live action remake usurped the throne of the original movie and it doesn’t feel right, but I’m positive that part of the show will be changed as soon as the next Disney hit makes its way into theaters. Just like Shanghai, the Frozen part is way too long and doesn’t really add much to the experience. Long story short, Illuminations is not worth even half of its predecessor, as all other castle shows from Tokyo’s Once Upon a Time to the original Disneyland’s Disneyland Forever are better than this one (except for Shanghai’s, probably), but then again, it’s just one single flaw in an otherwise perfect celebration. One thing is for sure, though. Dreams! will be deeply missed.
To wrap it up, I’d like to spare a few words about the amazing grand celebration that took place on April, 12. Although I couldn’t attend it, I saw the official live coverage for it and I was simply astounded. Mickey and Catherine Powell (Disneyland Paris’ president since 2016) started the celebration through a long and touching speech. After that, a street show similar to «Happy Anniversary» started out, with the only difference that one by one, every single Disney character ever created stepped out of the castle gate. They all made their way to Central Plaza and then Main Street USA, while a gazillion 25th Anniversary confetti were let off on the streets and deeply touching music played in the background. It was one of the most glorious celebrations I’ve ever seen and I know I’ll never forget it. How could I? If you too want to check it out, be sure to click on the video below.
So far, the 25th celebrations have been amazing, and they can only get better! If you’re looking for the right time to visit Disneyland Paris, just wait until Pirates and Hyperspace Mountain are open again (I’m about to cover the both of them later in the summer), then pack up and set sail for adventure!
Many thanks to Davide Maugeri for this great trip report! Disneyland Paris’s 25 Anniversary Celebrations continue throughout the summer.