From a season spreading over nearly 4 months, from 11th January to 3rd May 2020, which makes it the longest season ever offered in the recent history of Disneyland Paris, and based on the record-breaking animation film Frozen, we could have expected something unique and exceptional.
Indeed, we could only but hope for a unique and exceptional experience, as this season has accumulated disappointments. But maybe the Resort Management is searching for seeds to keep on improving profitability? In my opinion, this is the only logical explanation.
But let’s start from the beginning. What is a season? According to Daniel Delcourt (Executive Vice President, Operations), it’s a 360° experience designed to let the visitor/client/guest immerse themselves in a movie universe by letting them experience it in every possible way.
First, you won’t be able to sleep Frozen style.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. The Theme Room concept that has made the Disney Hospitality business so successful throughout the world continues to be a major lack in Paris.
However, there was ample opportunity to overcharge for some rooms, as the Frozen world offers many possibilities: The Enchanted Forest for the Sequoia Lodge, the port town of Arendelle for the Newport Bay Club, Arendelle Castle for the Disneyland Hotel.
We won’t even talk about the famous Signature packages introduced last year with great pomp and circumstance and which could have offered visitors/customers/guests exclusive experiences with low hourly capacity (I’ll come back to this later, but you probably already understand that I’m talking about Meets&Greets with the Frozen Characters).
Now can we “consume” Frozen?
On this subject, no worries, the stalls are literally overflowing with Made in Asia products depicting the famous movies. There is something for all ages, tastes and budgets.
Unfortunately, the Aqua Arendelle range of products is obviously suffering from some of its items being out of stock, since Disney have had the good idea to replace it with the “Belle of the Ball Bronze” range.
Similarly, the Princess of a Day micro-boutique dedicated to Frozen and introduced for the Frozen Summer Fun (the other season dedicated to Frozen in 2015), is not back. Indeed, the space is inaccessible due to the ongoing works on the side of the Frontierland Theater and it has not been set up elsewhere (although there is no lack of available space).
And finally, for those who are mainly looking for beautiful collector’s items exclusive to our Resort or Made in France? Apart from a glass key by Arribas sold out in a few hours, it must be said that it is a real desert of ice.
When it comes to eating Frozen, the visitor/customer/guest will get value for money for once.
Indeed, for the past few months, it seems that divine inspiration has been blowing through the Catering branch with an impressive number of snacks, dishes and sweets of all kinds combining respect for the theme, taste (for Disneyland Paris) and aesthetics.
Of course, this is still far too industrial in its execution, Rome was not made in a day.
But let’s still salute this beautiful effort which deserves to be praised, more especially as it is the only element in progress at the moment. So, congratulations to the Restauration teams, keep up the good work, you are on the right track and it is not going unnoticed!
That’s what allows us to complete all the appendices of this 360 experience. It is now time to get to the heart of this celebration.
First, we’re going to have to do a little bit of sorting. Can a season include permanent elements when it is by definition temporary?
For the marketing teams, the answer is a big yes. But for us visitors/customers/guests who are spending a relatively large amount of money to experience this season, it is open to debate.
I am currently an Annual Pass holder and have been visiting the Resort regularly since 1992. But still living nearly 500km away, I also know the problem of having to choose a date for a single annual stay. The principle of a season being to make me come in the moment and not 6 months later, it is therefore intellectually impossible for me to give in to the bluff of the Marketing teams.
So goodbye Animation Celebration, Mickey and the Magician, Stars on Parade and Illuminations. For me you can’t be considered in this Frozen Celebration. However, a simple update of Anna and Elsa’s costumes on the Parade, a change on Mickey and the Magician from “Let it Go” to “Into the Unknown”, or an update of Illuminations to include the second movie would have been developments worthy of praise.
As for the Animation Celebration Meet & Greet, currently with Olaf, it should be modified according to the cinematic news, let’s say it’s a small 50/50. He has been there since last November, but he should eventually give way. So it’s a temporary offer, even if it goes well beyond the strict dates of the season.
Speaking of specific Meeting locations, this is the one and only one proposed by Disneyland Paris. Don’t expect for a second to be able to pose alongside Anna and Elsa in their new outfits as in the other Resorts.
We all remember the record waiting times during the 2013 Christmas season at the Princess Pavilion, so there’s a certain logic. Even if it would have been a good idea to adapt to it accordingly rather than take the easy and economical solution of not offering anything.
Remember above when I was talking about the Signature packages and think back to the Marvel package of 2018 which offered exclusive meet & greet with Spider-Man, Thor and Black Widow. No need for me to say more, you get the point.
But no, Disneyland Paris made the very wise choice to exclude any possibility to its visitors/customers/guests, even though the costumes are present in Paris. Indeed, participants in the various promotional events of this season (and who are therefore invited by Disneyland Paris) had the chance to meet them, or even pose with them!
To conclude on this point, let’s also forget about any idea of offering themed costumes to add to the wardrobe of Mickey, Minnie and their friends. It would have been too much to ask to be able to pose with Mickey-Kristoff, Minnie-Anna, Pluto-Sven or Goofy-Olaf.
In the category of visitors/customers/guests expectations that they are trying to disappoint brilliantly, let’s talk about decorations.
In general, any season worthy of the name involves decorating Main Street U.S.A. and Central Plaza with banners, garlands, statues and other small floral touches, or even a part of Land when it lends itself to the theme.
Between the Enchanted Forest and the ice statues, the universe of Frozen offers an almost infinite range of possibilities to offer decorations that anyone would dream of posing in front of for their Instagram account, thus offering a free promotion to Disneyland Paris.
But that was not counting the Scrooge-McDuck-worthy budget that Disneyland Paris was ready to spend to amaze and surprise its visitors/customers/guests!
If you’re looking for decorations, there simply aren’t any. It’s not a few film-themed windows displays and a few Central Plaza streetlamps dressed in plastic banners, topped with orange globes (salvaged from the Halloween stock) and accompanied by 3 sheets glued to the wicker baskets that make it possible to talk about decorations.
Even the horticulture department, which has recently shown that it knows how to pleasantly surprise us, have been satisfied here with the standard service.
Finally, to end this season’s 360 tour in style, we still have the show Frozen 2: An Enchanted Journey.
In the end, the one and only offer of this season. What can we say about it that hasn’t already been written?
It suffers from a clear lack of ambition with only 1 float to occupy all of Central Plaza. This one, however, is of rather good workmanship, especially if we focus on the clone of Sven’s puppet from Animation Celebration and the transparency at the level of the Spirit of Water. But if you look at its massive and clumsy design complemented by the rigid statue of Olaf, it’s a completely different story
To complete the picture, 3 characters only. Anna and Kristoff in beautiful costumes loyal to the film. Unfortunately, we will retain especially the one of Elsa – Disco Queen which clashes totally with the airy and elegant wardrobe that we are used to. As for Olaf (reduced to a simple statue) or all the characters never seen before in the movie… They had to remain prisoners of the Enchanted Forest.
That leaves the 24 dancers, who put all their energy into trying to occupy the space. With only one costume for the men and one for the women, there is a lack of variety and what about the curious choice of putting 2 elements on each costume? Wasn’t there even the ambition to properly present at least the 4 elements at the heart of the movie’s plot if the 2 populations living in the Enchanted Forest weren’t to the taste of creative people?
Finally remains the show itself. On the music side, a vaguely re-orchestrated medley of songs from the film, exclusively in the original version to please only English-speaking children and which manages the feat of looking quite bland compared to the original material. As far as the staging is concerned, it’s absolute nothingness: the float stops out of alignment with the castle, most of the show is on the ground to limit visibility if you’re not in the front row and in the right direction, no story as we just expose the characters like mannequins on a catwalk and no high point to offer at least a small throw of snow.
In short, a display that manages to find no grace in spite of performers who clearly give their best to try to make us forget the too many creative shortcomings.
But for a moment, I didn’t mention the show Magic on Lake Disney: Frozen Edition! Unfortunately no, it was not an oversight.
With only 3 performances under the freezing temperatures, or even the fogs, of January, it’s not the 10 minutes of a display worthy of a small country town accompanied by an insipid musical medley (partly borrowed from the show of the season) that deserves to be spread out.
One can guess the desire and the idea, but the ambition was clearly not there. So we’ll have to wait for the next edition of Magic on Lake Disney (on The Lion King theme?) to have an opinion worthy of being expressed. For this time, we were clearly on a low-budget trial, unworthy of the lake that made the world discover this technological revolution that was the water screen in 1992.
So a quick note to the Creative Entertainment teams: You’ve had your full-scale test, the potential is there. So now get the budget right and go for the original project (you know, the one derived from Rivers of Light that doesn’t officially exist) and give your provider carte blanche to dazzle us with its cutting-edge technologies. Everybody will be a winner, starting with us visitors/customers/guests.
We are finally at the end of our 360° tour of this season.
Now, you know, if you want to go to Disneyland Paris to experience Frozen with your family, just one tip : wait, unless you are also a Star Wars saga or Marvel universe fan, which will be performed in parallel and are a little more consistent.
Otherwise, wait until the warm season and the Lion King and Jungle Festival Season return with much better offer. You’ll find plenty to satisfy your Frozen desires at that time with permanent offers such as Animation Celebration, Mickey and the Magician, Stars on Parade or Illuminations.
In conclusion, in 2014, we were all pleasantly surprised by a first season dedicated to Frozen which had everything of a revival with a beautifully made Sing-Along show, a simple little stroll that did the trick and a dedicated mini-area that had things to offer with its Photo Point and its Princess for a Day space. But 6 years later, we have to admit that this Frozen Celebration has all the makings of a cold shower that will leave us irremediably cold.