On Saturday March 31st Disneyland Paris officially kicked-off its 20th Anniversary celebration including the premiere of the new “Disney Magic on Parade!”. However, the highlight of the event certainly was the grand premiere of the new nighttime spectacular “Disney DREAMS”.
To bridge the gap between the daytime program and the premiere of the nighttime spectacular the invited guests attend a gala dinner in the convention tent next to Lake Disney. After the dinner guest were treated to a “review” of 20 years of Disney magic in the making. The video presentation featured photos from various construction sites from the past all over the resort and every new attraction or show that opened during the first 20 years of Disneyland Paris. After this “history lesson” current CEO Philippe Gass welcomed the guests on Town Square. promising a stunning evening with a fantastic new spectacular.
As the invited guests walked down the Main Street to claim their spot on Central Plaza for Disney DREAMS one could feel the anticipation grow even further – especially since as word already spread that cast members who attended the special cast member preview on Thursday night had been amazed by the spectacular and greeted it with thunderous applause and cheers.
Soon enough the lights went down … the guests fell silent … and … the castle would slowly light up with colourful patterns and magical pictures, fireworks erupt from the castle and the all new soundtrack featuring famous Disney melodies and songs filled the air (additional loudspeakers were added around Central Plaza not just for the event but for the regular performances of Disney DREAMS as well).
As the first water screens rise up guest are introduced (or one could say: re-introduced) to the main character featured in the story: Peter Pan (speaking English) who is then joined by Wendy (speaking French). However, some might call the Sleeping Beauty Castle the main character of the spectacular as it is a stunning canvas that the Imagineers under the leadership of Steve Davison painted the magic on.
As Peter Pan is calling out for Tinkerbell to help out with some pixie dust form wendy he is surprised by the playfulness of his shadow. Trying to get away from him Peter Pan’s shadow is knocking the magic out of the famous second star to the right and is spreading it all over the castle – and thereby setting up the main element of the storyline for the spectacular as Peter Pan’s shadow then travels through the settings of various Disney movies that are appearing thanks to the magic of the Second Star to the Right that has covered the castle.
— SPOILER WARNING … the following paragraphs describes details of Disney DREAMS!
The shadow of Peter Pan first meets Lumiere (from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast) who sets an up-beat mood with a performance of “C’est la fête” (the French version of “Be Our Guest”). As his journey through the magical worlds of Disney continues in the spectacular Peter Pan’s shadow gets to meet many more characters including Remy (from Disney Pixar Ratatouille), Quasimodo (from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame – and star of the resort’s 5th anniversary celebration), Mary Poppins, the cast of Disney’s Jungle Book, Rapunzel (from Disney’s Tangled) and of course a selection of Disney villains.
The beauty of the show however is how the story is told through a unique combination of various elements. Foremost there are the high definition projections of the characters and specially animated scenes on the castle as well as on water screens. However the spectacular is also featuring fountains shooting high up from the castle’s moat, fireworks around the castle as well as on the castle itself, flames errupting from the castle walls and the surrounding area, light and laser effect and of course last but not least a wonderful new musical score.
By combining the various elements – most of them never seen at Disneyland Paris in this setting before or greatly improved – Steve Davison and his team have created a whole new experiences that continues to surprise over and over again throughout the approximate 20 minutes the spectacular lasts. In one scene the effects even give the illusion of the castle moving side to side – simply amazing.
Peter Pan was the right choice as the story’s main characrer, or – to be more correct – his shadow was as jumps from scene to scene and even takes a short flight on a magical carpet. Many of the show pieces have a real wow factor and got immediate reactions from the guests attending the grand premiere. From the first second on the spectacular captures the attention of its audience fully – no matter the age of the guests. Some of the highlights among the scenes – of which there are too many to mention them all – are the appearance of Remy (as he looks amazing), Quasimodo jumping around the Notre Dame (which is simply breathtaking), the waterfalls projections covering down the castle, the mechanical “steam-punk” creation engulfing all visible sides of the castle or the fire shooting up the walls of the castle.
It’s important to understand that it is not a fireworks display, but that the firework is used as one of many elements to enhance a true Disney spectacular. Fireworks and fireworks effects are utilized in many scenes, but they are designed not to be the center piece but to support the spectacular and in particular the projections of animated scenes based on the beloved Disney classics on the canvas, that is known during the day as “the castle”. However, the spectacular also is not “just a movie projection”, neither is it a fountain show. In the end Disney DREAMS is a magical spectacular of its own kind.
There is so much going on in this nighttime spectacular, and a spectacular it is, that it is simply impossible to see it all on the first time. This experience will keep guests inside the park and will keep them coming back to see it again and again. It’s a fantastic spectacular that will put a smile on many guests faces and that will be remembered for a long time. In other words: a fantastic job done by a fantastic group of Imagineers who worked very hard to make sure that Disneyland Paris would get nothing but the best.
Andy, member of DLP.info, attended the event as invited guest of the resort.