If you’re looking for the perfect excuse to invest in a Disneyland Paris holiday in a hurry, you’d better not bother. While not without its good points, this anniversary celebration is still one of the least ambitious in the destination’s now long history.
From the Past: A quick perspective
We won’t go back to the opening of the destination in 1992, or the small first anniversary celebration that saw the entire castle transformed into a giant cake for a few days.
1997, the 5 year anniversary, also known as the Year of All Festivals. Fully dressed castle, giant bells in Central Plaza, colourful banners and pennants everywhere. This first major anniversary was not half celebrated. The Carnival of Fools and its hundreds of performers will be remembered for a long time to come, as will the Disney – The Music and the Magic show at Vidéopolis.
2002, the 10th anniversary, move along, there’s nothing to see. Indeed, that year, all eyes were focused on the second quarter of the park, which was then nicknamed “The Park-ing”.
2007, the 15th anniversary, a celebration forever engraved in the memories of those who could attend. If I tell you Just Like We Dreamed It and Bougillumination, you should already have butterflies in your heart like me. If not, YouTube is your friend.
2012, the 20th anniversary, a much more modest celebration, but we can’t forget the iconic Magic Everywhere and the show that marked a whole generation: Disney Dreams.
2017, finally, the 25th anniversary. The park was almost completely renovated, with a new Parade, new shows and a whole host of attractions. It’s THE benchmark celebration, the mere mention of which will no doubt give you “chicken flesh”.
At the end of the day, we have to admit that round numbers have never really rhymed with grandiose for Disneyland Paris. The years in 5 are more inspired and the 30 years will not be an exception to the rule.
Aesthetics: An anniversary or a wedding?
Why this parallel? Because in terms of decorations, Disneyland Paris seems to have followed the same rules.
Something blue. The influence of the 25 years aesthetic is found everywhere, both in their form and their execution, the same elements are found. Such as the decoration of Main Street Station, the Gazebo or the still medallions/fribes on the lampposts. Even the silver Mickey head logo 30 is reminiscent of the silver Fairy Dust trail also in logo 25.
There are some nice ideas though, such as the clever use of LED lighting camouflaged in the false drapes of the Gazebo and the whole of the Station’s façade. But it leaves a taste of unfinished business as it is unequal to the emptiness of the rest of Main Street, especially when the station facade only reveals its beauty at night, behind the backs of visitors leaving the Park.
Something borrowed. The word of the day is Ear-idescent, and it has been used since October 1st 2021 at the heart of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. What more can be said, except that it smells a bit like a lack of originality, not to say laziness on the part of the creative teams, especially for a result that is much less convincing than in Florida, as the golden side has given way to less warm metallic reflections.
Disneyland Paris would probably have benefited from inventing its own terminology to describe its overall concept based on cyan-mauve-magenta colour gradations to which, since the end of 2020, the faithful readers of ED92 have already been accustomed.
Something old. We’ll talk about the famous Fairy Gardens, which clearly took the biggest part of the budget. Indeed, it is safe to say that Spring Fever (2015) has taken these 30 years and turned them into a real Flower Festival (1997). But such a bias at the beginning of March obviously can’t give an enchanting result. We will have to wait for the arrival of fine weather to judge, and the apparent cages for climbing plants that are still too young or the discreet luminescent ferns confined to the Galaxy block alone will not say otherwise.
As far as mobiles are concerned… It’s a matter of taste. Personally I was not convinced as the final results are so disparate and lack lightness. We can guess the very good idea on paper which had a lot of trouble to materialize, especially since they are only simple sculptures more or less abstract which turn in a motorized way on a single axis. They would have greatly benefited from being real windmills in different parts to achieve the hoped-for kinetic energy.
In the end, it is difficult to judge this aspect of the celebration objectively, especially when you have physically experienced the last 30 years of various celebrations and seasons. If I had a fresh look, I would say that we would probably be on a Good, because there is an idea and a search for originality with a rather good use of LED technologies.
But this is not my case and I have to judge the whole, which implies to count on the absolute minimalism of the decorations for the rest of the destination based on a few rare banners or stickers particularly discreet.
We regret that a few simple ideas would have allowed us to give much more relief, such as taking up the concept of the LED draperies of the Station and the Gazebo in the form of garlands all along Main Street, lighting the facades of the street in the same play of colours and simpler iridescent draperies on the lamp posts and balconies to sublimate the festive spirit throughout the sequences of entry/exit of the Park.
For aesthetics: 2/5
In practice: 30 Years, gather round!
You already know Disneyland Paris and want to devote your visit exclusively to the elements of this celebration? Now’s your chance, you won’t need to plan any long walks because this time the choice has been made to gather the offers and mainly concentrate them on Main Street and Central Plaza. A decision with its own advantages and disadvantages.
First of all, we will have to make do with 2 proposals.
First of all, a beautiful daytime animation, Rêvons… et le monde s’illumine ! on Central Plaza with 4 daily performances that follow one another. You can therefore easily attend, as the show is finally designed to be enjoyed from anywhere. Even if a number of areas are reserved for the dancers and characters to pass through, each location will allow you to fully enjoy it.
Concerning the two-headed nightly animation D-Light / AfterGlow, before and after the now classic Disney Illuminations, apart from the unpleasant dead time to go from one sequence to the next, you will have no difficulty in enjoying it if you are already familiar with the concept of nightly fairy shows on the Castle.
Merchandise-wise, it’s easy, there is, and will be until further notice, only one address, that of New Century Notions Flora’s Unique Boutique, or simply Flora for those who know it well.
The huge advantage is that this allows for very good stock management. There is no need to worry about stock-outs after a few days, the collections should be able to last throughout the day, even if it seems that they will rotate from month to month as they arrive from China. The other advantage is that it allows the teams to better control abuse, each item being limited to 5 copies per transaction. Obviously, there are loopholes, but overall there will be something for everyone.
On the other hand, the disadvantage is the creation of 2 queues in front of the shop, one classic and one for Priority Access. Queues that can reach record levels (but still not at the level of the 6 hours of the meeting point with Anna and Elsa of Christmas 2014). On the day of the launch, for example, the classic queue was clocking in at 2.30am throughout the day. So patience is key, but take advantage of the fact that the focus is on the Central Plaza show, the Parade or Illuminations for quicker access.
On the food side, you’ll have to walk a bit more, as many places throughout the park offer at least one more or less specific 30 year old offer. But Main Street and Central Plaza are still the areas to go for most of them.
It’s difficult to taste everything in one day, we’ll come back very soon in details, but it’s still good to know that many of them were not yet available on March 6th and that they will arrive progressively until April 12th with the very expected reopening of Walt’s – An American Restaurant.
In the end, we find ourselves with a rather limited and very uneven global proposal with its share of advantages and disadvantages, but whose limited quantity will have the merit of allowing you to enjoy it all in one day.
Even if we feel the obvious passage of Covid19, we would have appreciated to have some last minute extras like this one seems finally ready to let us breathe a little bit in order not to leave us on an aftertaste of too little in the framework of a stay.
Obviously the arrival of Avengers Campus at some point during the summer will be a welcome addition. But as it is we would have liked to see for example Castle Stage dressed up to become a SelfieSpot/MagicShot in a nice landscape in the colours of the party with a big 30 logo and this even without a character, the Castle (without decoration, but at least renovated) being enough for itself.
For practice: 2,5/5
Special features: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
As you may have already realised, this is a limited proposition. No themed Encounters with your favourite Character in an Ear-escaping outfit, no exclusive decorations, and no changes to the Disney Stars on Parade. However, we would have liked to see the addition of 30 medallions, to hear Crush wish again his “Happy Birthday Disneyland Paris” or to have a show-stop on the musical theme of the celebration.
Fortunately, the daytime show is of a very high standard, catapulting it into the pantheon of the best productions in the Park’s history. Proud of all the know-how acquired since Swing into Spring, and inspired by the Street Parties that have made the American and Japanese Parks great, the Disneyland Paris teams deliver here a breath of fresh air with a simple and efficient show far from the pseudo-artistic delusions of the previous years.
You may or may not agree with the minimalist style of the floats, relegated to the role of mobile coloured platforms, but there is no denying the colossal energy deployed by the characters and dancers who literally set the Central Plaza on fire to a soundtrack that finally moves away from the magical side to favour the festive side. You won’t be able to stop yourself from singing and wiggling on the spot at one moment or another of this pulsating musical medley, a real medley of the history of Disneyland Paris productions in these more or less subtle tributes. Come on, I’ll give you one, lend an ear and you’ll find yourself singing “Just Like we Dreamed It”, the famous 15 years theme, without understanding clearly why.
As far as the staging is concerned, the tone remains the same, not the slightest dead time, it moves everywhere, all the time, from the beginning to the end, whether on the floats, on the ground or on the stages. Wherever you are placed, you will inevitably have a lot of fun and I have a deep respect for the teams who must be really exhausted at the end of their day.
You will have understood that this is THE good surprise of this celebration and the event not to be missed. After 8 performances in 3 days, I’m still asking for more.
On the other hand, the observation is unfortunately not as clear-cut for the other production of this celebration. If you go strictly by the programme, D-Light takes place before Illuminations, and that is its biggest flaw. This is the introduction of a brand new show, with beautiful audio and perfectly mastered mapping. But that is all.
Indeed, the arrival of the 200 drones at the very end, offering a giant fixed logo 30 turns out to be the end of a sequence of not even 5 minutes that leaves us in total incomprehension when the castle returns to its neutral aspect and the classic audio returns announcing the beginning of Illuminations 5 minutes later. A show that in comparison is quite bland and even a bit old-fashioned 5 years later by presenting us with “recent” films that have long since arrived on Disney+ or have since had sequels.
But don’t leave too quickly as the Park seems to be announcing its closure, because the real little surprise will arrive 5 minutes later with After Glow. The surprise faux-twin (as not announced in the programme or communication) of D-Light is the closing sequence of the new night-time fairy tale that we didn’t get. This time, the drones will finally show their full potential, going from a starry sky to a lively and animated logo 30 while mapping, fountains and light shows on the whole of Central Plaza, including LEDs in the trees and the lighting of the Fairy Gardens, illuminate the night to end the Festival in beauty in a much more suitable whirlwind of lights.
But what a pity that in the end you have to put up with Grandpa Illuminations to enjoy it, especially in the still freezing cold March nights to get the real deal.
Let’s move on to Derivatives. We won’t go back over the choice of concentrating everything in one shop, apart from the Arribas and Pandora offers.
Aesthetics are a matter of taste, but it is clear that the teams have tried to offer a variety of designs that will appeal to the greatest number of people, even if not necessarily to all pockets, as a large price increase has crept in among the event’s guests.
The arrival of highly anticipated products such as the new Mickey soap dispenser or the classic trio Spirit Jersey – Ears – Loungefly bag are obviously among the bestsellers of the season.
Did I say Loungefly bag? Excuse me… Like many items, these are still missing at the time of writing. Many supply problems have imposed an illusory evolutionary rhythm over the weeks, even if many items are promised for April 12th at the latest. Perhaps they will have appeared by the time you read these lines, only Walt knows. And yet…
On the restaurant side, same observation, many absentees are also to be reported, but there is already something to do. Having personally tested a few offers, the result remains mixed in terms of taste and very uneven from one product to another. For example, Menu 30 at the Hyperion restaurant offers a burger that is as unattractive as it is tasty, as it seems bland compared to the BB-8 burger. On the other hand, the cake in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head, made with sponge cake and chocolate mousse, is a real culinary pleasure that is neither too sweet nor too dry and has already inspired me to take future snack breaks when Victoria’s Home-Style Restaurant is taken by storm.
In the end, once again, we are left with a mixed result. There’s some (very) Good with the new Dream… and the world lights up!, some Beastly with a number of Merch & Food offerings that missed the mark at launch and some Truand with D-Light trying to look good when the star is clearly After Glow.
For the specifics: 3/5
But still a deserved 4.5/5 on the daytime show alone (more equal floats and more work with special effects, as well as a few more dancers to better occupy the street would have achieved perfection).
From the experience: A very mixed assessment
Expected like the messiah after a particularly successful 25 years and a sad and long double period of closure that postponed the Walt Disney Studios expansion plan and the Disney Village redesign plan (not to mention the Disneyland Hotel renovation plan), these 30 years had the heavy task of being a new day for the destination, just like the sunrise in the centre of the general visual.
But has the contract been fulfilled?
In the interests of objectivity, a number of recent decisions should serve as a basis for reflection, starting with the arrival of reservation calendars which have made access to the Parks extremely difficult for many enthusiasts, then the disappearance of free FastPasses in favour of paid Disney Premier Access and finally the global and massive price increases in all areas.
In short, Magic has a price, and at Disneyland Paris, it has skyrocketed lately when you put it all together. However, this does not mean that the offer has returned to the levels of the “world before”. Many experiences are still degraded, inaccessible, or even gone for good. Thus the simple reopening of a restaurant, Walt’s, should not have to be celebrated as one of the events of the year when those open have already been overflowing daily when the bell rings for far too long.
It’s undeniable though, on the one hand the new daytime show is a real creative success, which you can enjoy until the end of September (and then again from January 2023, once Halloween and Christmas are over) and the bonuses around the nighttime show are welcome extras.
But on the other hand, the Merch & Food has not yet fully arrived and a whole Marvel zone is about to arrive in the next few months to put the spotlight elsewhere than on Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
Of course, everyone will see to their own priorities and their own means. But in order to meet the needs of as many people as possible, I have come to the following inescapable conclusion: Don’t rush.
If you are able to visit the Parks on a regular basis, go for it, you will enjoy the few new features to vary your habits a bit.
If you are more the type of person who visits a few times a year, wait a little longer and try to visit from April 12, the actual anniversary of the destination. Firstly because the Gardens will have obtained their spring floral decorations, but also because attending Illuminations will be less chilling and lastly because all the offers planned for this celebration will normally be available. So you won’t have to risk missing out on an experience that’s close to your heart by a few days, and you might even be able to get one of the many collector’s items planned specifically for this day.
If you’re more of an annual visitor, then the evidence is clear. Wait for a firm opening date to be announced for Avengers Campus, add about 2 weeks for the bulk of the craziness to pass and then you can really enjoy every Euro you put into your stay. All the more so if at that time the Parks are still on summer hours, with Disneyland Park closing at 11pm.
For the experience: 2,5/5
In the end: For those in a hurry (or those who were too lazy to read everything)
|Positive points||Negative points|
|Dream on… and the world lights up! is a great success||Too many offers that missed the starting line|
|The introduction of drones in the night show opens up great future possibilities||The decorations were ultimately too light and limited|
|A food offer that finally tries to be original and the arrival of basic items that were missing||The lack of specific Photo Points|
|Mickey Mouse soap dispensers are finally available at Disneyland Paris||Having created an expectation on D-Light when the real animation is After Glow|
|The dancers and characters of Dream… and Shine Brighter! who give it their all||Limiting the celebration’s merchandise to the too small Flora’s shop|