19 Dec A FEW UNUSUAL FACTS ABOUT THE MAGICAL WORLD OF DISNEYLAND PARIS
Walt Disney’s dream
Disney is synonymous with magic, fun and adventure. We relate very quickly to the characters and their stories, generating in us a certain sense of empathy and belonging.
For over 90 years, Disney and those who continue his legacy have made his name a magical symbol that transcends mere entertainment.
“I think what I want Disneyland to be most of all is a happy place – a place where adults and children can experience together some of the wonders of life, of adventure, and feel better because of it.” Walt Disney
Disney Park, or Disneyland, created by Walt Disney is so omnipresent in contemporary culture that it’s easy to forget that the original concept was revolutionary for its time.
Disney dreamed of building a place that would be more than just an amusement park. He dreamed of a magical environment that would be designed around different themes. He wished it to be clean and orderly and above all else, a welcoming place, where the characters and their stories would be real.
This “little magical park” as Disney called it, would be a theme park.
While designing his park, Disney appealed to many of his animators and art directors to apply the principles of film making to his real-life creation.
Disney’s idea was to have all the visitors or ‘guests’ start in a central location called ‘Main Street, USA’ – from which they could head off to explore the various fantasy realms of the Disney world. It was an innovative idea, since no other amusement park, museum or fair had ever used the same concept.
The creation of theme parks around the world
The first Disneyland theme park opened on July 17th, 1955, in California.
Barely 7 months after its opening, the one thousandth guest crossed the threshold of this enchanting world. And by the end of the first year, nearly 3.6 million people had visited the park. Today, more than 750 million people have experienced the Disney magic.
Walt Disney died in 1966 at the age of 65, before the completion of his last work ‘The Jungle Book’.
In 1971, ‘Walt Disney World’ and its Magic Kingdom Park opened in Florida. The $400 million invested in the project made it the largest private investment of the time.
In 1983, it was Japan’s turn to embrace the world of Disney, with the opening of ‘Tokyo Disney Resort’ and ‘Tokyo Disneyland’.
It was not until 1992 that Disney finally came in Europe with the construction of ‘Disneyland Paris’ (originally known as ‘Euro-Disney Resort’). In 2017, it celebrated its 25th anniversary. To date, more than 320 million visitors have passed through its gates.
In 2005, ‘Hong Kong Disneyland’ opened its doors.
The newest park in the Disney family is in Shanghai. The ‘Shanghai Disney Resort’ opened to the public in 2016.
The different stages in the evolution of Disneyland Paris
- 1987 – Disney signed an agreement with the French government for the creation of Euro Disney just outside Paris.
- 1992 – Euro Disney welcomes its first visitors
- 1994 – Euro Disney changed its name and becomes Disneyland Resort Paris
- 1995 – The Space Mountain attraction called From the Earth to the Moon (today: Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain) thrilled its first passengers.
- 1996 – Eurostar took passengers for the first time directly to Disneyland Paris.
- 1997 – Disneyland Paris celebrates its fifth anniversary with a festival of flowers. It was also a great opportunity to celebrate the coming of Spring.
- 2001 – This is the year that the park reached one hundred million total visitors.
- 2002 – Walt Disney Studios Park opened alongside Disneyland Park, giving visitors a whole new world to explore.
- 2006 – The Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast attraction made its first appearance, inspired by Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story 2 computer-animated feature.
- 2007 – It was the turn of Toon Studio to come to the park.
- 2011 – The total number of people visiting the park reached 250 million.
- 2012 – The 20th anniversary was celebrated with a magical night show and a new parade.
- 2017 – For the 25th anniversary of the Park, spectacular new attractions were inaugurated, accompanied by a magnificent parade of stars.
Some interesting numbers:
Each year, visitors to the park consume:
- 4 million hamburgers
- 20 tons of fish
- and no less than 700 tons of chicken!
- And to freshen their breath, they have to find something other than chewing gum! To preserve the cleanliness of Disneyland parks around the world, no chewing gum is sold on site!
A couple of things you may not know…
- The location of Disneyland in Europe was subject to many discussions.
It was agreed that location needed to be a place with a sunny climate, reminiscent of California or Florida. Great Britain, Spain, Italy and France were the main contenders. For various reasons, Great Britain and Italy were not selected. The final decision leaned towards Spain, but France had the most in its favour. Toulon and the Paris region were both in the running for welcoming Disneyland. In the end, the Mediterranean landscape didn’t meet all the necessary conditions, so Marne-la Vallée was finally chosen as the location for the park. 70 million potential visitors are located with a 4-hour drive and a further 300 million within two hours of flying time.
- Surveys carried out among European visitors showed that the word Euro, in ‘Euro Disney’ was too often associated with the European currency, hardly a very magical association of ideas. Two years later, the name ‘Euro Disney’ is abandoned and the name ‘Disneyland Paris’ is adopted.
- You have probably already noticed that there are many statues of Mickey Mouse scattered around the park. There are so many of them and some are so well hidden that no one knows the exact number. Many people have tried to find and count them all! The hunt for Mickey Mouse is open!
- The It’s a Small World attraction was only meant to be temporary. It was originally created for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It was so popular that it became permanent. Pushed into the limelight, this attraction that features characters from around the world, is also the most visited. Today, it can be found in every Disneyland around the world.
- Paul Chapman, an expert in stained-glass windows, was eighty when he oversaw the creation of the windows for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. He also worked on the stained-glass windows of Notre Dame Cathedral during renovation work there.
- Maintaining the 60-hectare park is an enormous task. To cope with the plague of rodents that sneak around this immense park, the staff in charge found a solution amenable to all (except perhaps to Mickey Mouse!). When the park closes, they release an army of feral but carefully cared for cats. The Disney staff find them, take care of them, provide them with shelter and take care of their kittens.
- Each of the Magic Kingdom Disneyland Parks around the world has its own princess’s castle. It is the main point of attraction for millions of visitors, and the most photographed! Depending on the country in which they are located, imaging experts meticulously choose the colour of each of these castles, so that the contrast between the enchanting monument and the colour of the sky combine perfectly in photographs. The pink colour of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle fits perfectly with the often-grey skies of the Paris region, while in Florida the castle is painted grey to help it stand out from the predominantly blue skies. All the castles have a southern exposure so that they will never be in shadow. This also helps make for great photos.
- The castle of Sleeping Beauty in Disneyland Paris is actually inspired by Mont Saint Michel, and not by countless other famous castles in France. It is also the only one to house a gigantic 24-meter-long dragon in its dungeon. The dragon is completely animated with scary acoustic effects!
- There are a large number of rubbish bins in the park to help keep it as clean as possible. To make it easier for visitors to use them, they can be found at very regular intervals. There is even one that talks back when you feed it with rubbish! What’s it called? PUSH! Of course!
- Main Street, the main avenue at the entrance to the park is inspired by the architecture of Chicago, Walt Disney’s home city.
- If you feel like a makeover, an ‘old-fashioned’ barber is on hand to help you out.
- The park has its own genuine fire station. A total of 150 rescue and first-aid staff train while the park is closed, simulating emergencies and being ready to intervene at the slightest problem. Outside of emergencies however, they are forbidden from running, to avoid spreading panic among visitors.
- And as Mickey Mouse is pretty unique, you will never find more than one of him walking in the immensity of the park.
- In the early days, characters from Toy Story used to relive their film role and drop to the ground in unison if they heard someone shouting out: ‘Andy is coming!’ This is no longer the case today though, as the idea is considered too dangerous for both employees and visitors.
- Carefully studied fragrances are vaporized into the air in certain areas of the park. They are used to awaken your senses and help you have a more authentic experience.
- The acoustics of “Harrington’s” dome on Main Street are designed in such a way that if two people on opposite sides are placed at exactly the right spot they can hear each other as if they were right next to each other.