Through most of 2011, Disneyland Paris are holding a new festival entitled the “Magical Moments Festival”. The activities guests can enjoy are spread over both parks and give guests the chance to meet many characters, old and new, as well as get there photos taken with some more unique backgrounds. We headed out to Disneyland Paris to take a look at what was going on at the resort. Follow us as we take a tour and find out more about what is going on at this years ‘Magical’ festival.
Both parks feature many different experiences but there is little going on outside the parks. As you would expect, every lamppost has a themed banner letting all the guests heading to the resort know what awaits them. The covered walkway, heading from the car park, features many banners sharing the experiences guests will see inside
We will begin our tour in Disneyland Park and take a clockwise look at everything that is on offer.
Main Street USA
Disney Dance Express
This is Minnie’s Party Train retooled with a new look, new music and now, a show stop. The new version of this old mainstay has been given a fresh new feel with a great new soundtrack that we wished we could have got hold of in the park and a short, but sweet show by the Castle. It certainly draws the crowds to the street as it passes by (yes, it is that loud) but it certainly drags you into its party like atmosphere. Make sure not to miss it if you have a member of your party that enjoys seeing the characters.
Mickey’s Magic Celebration
This 15 minute show plays out around 7pm each day. The story follows the idea of Mickey wanting to be a magician and brings in the help of the Genie, Fairy Godmother and Merlin. The show uses ALOT of Pyrotechnics which is ok as long as the wind isn’t blowing in the wrong direction. As well as the fireworks, the show uses some other nice effects. It also brings characters on and off stage from many different locations, sometimes they are even unexpected. The show eventually introduces the princesses. There is a nice touch with a final addition of Rapunzel. The show bring together many motifs from well know songs to create a great score for the show. Some elements are very similar to Fantasmic. It is also the first time the Genie has appeared as face character and Mickey in his Sorcerer outfit. Well worth staying for at the end of the day. If you do plan on watching it be aware that the only place to see the show is standing in front of the stage with the castle behind. It is not a 360 degree performance as it has been in the past few years. This is a show and not a parade. Many people were sat on the kerb throughout Main Street waiting for it to start and missed the opening as they ran down to the stage. This is something that Disney may need to address to cause any confusion.
We continue our tour by visiting Adventureland. Those of you that know the Disneyland Park well will notice that we have bypassed Frontierland. It seems this land is immune to any of the ‘Magical Moments’ .My only guess for this is due to it often being the centre of activity for Halloween as it is turned in the Halloweenland. It could also be the fact that there are less tie-in opportunities for character meets than are already offered.
Adventureland does offer 3 new experiences. Two of these are character meet and greets with one new show. Both meet and greets use classic movie characters as their theme. Hidden around the corner from Agrabah (on the opposite side of the Agrabah Café) is a new market scene.
Aladdin’s Magic Lamp
At times when characters are present this can get very busy. Guests can meet Aladdin characters as they pose in front of the new scene. One nice touch is the magic lamp that constantly pours out smoke. It adds something different to your (and the official Disney) photos. It is also a nice place to take a group photo as there is plenty of space with a good theme. A nice addition but nothing to write home about.
Adventureland Rhythms of the Jungle
Featuring characters from The Jungle Book and The Lion King, guests can meet several at a time under an African inspired gazebo. Located across the pathway from Restaurant Hakuna Matata, it is hidden down a path and could be easily missed. At certain times in the day the African Tam Tam group, who originally performed round here before getting a spot in the Videopolis Theatre have returned to add an extra African element to the proceedings. They do not play at all times and we saw characters out without the Tam Tam playing. Again, a simple meet and greet but this time with very little theming.
Following the Leader
This is a small show to the right of the Adventureland entrance to Challet de la Marionette. It designed very much in the way Disney World favourites such as the Pirate training show was performed in Disney World’s Adventureland. The show is very interactive and has some good humour. It is performed in both French and English although most is simple to understand or is translated by a character. If you are planning on seeing this show during a busy day you need to be there early, around 30 minutes before to get a good view, as viewing area is very small. As soon as people begin to stand the view goes quickly. The show is simple but very entertaining and well worth the 20 or so minutes it takes to play out. One welcome development to the show is the change from head to full face characters. Hook’s new face character look makes him more realistic and adds to the authenticity of the performance. It also means that pretty much every character is live, pre-recorded dialogues is kept to a minimum.
Rapunzel Meet and Greet
This is another simple idea. Imagineers have created a 3D backdrop that Rapunzel is able to meet guests within, creating some nice photographs. As the backdrop is more like a stand, it is moveable and Rapunzel, according to Park maps does move between two spots. You will find her opposite Pinocchio or over by the Old Mill. Make sure to check where she is before you go looking. Also, arrive early. This is a meet and greet that rapidly builds longs queues of easily 40 minutes on a semi-busy afternoon.
The Wonderful World of Alice and the Mad Hatter
Here, guests can take part in two activities. The first is a photo opportunity for a Mad Hatters Tea Party. It is well themed idea but is in the worst possible place. Hidden in front of Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, the photo opportunity doesn’t allow much space to take a good photo or event get several people in at once. At certain times during the day, characters from the movie appear to meet guests but there is little to no order. As soon as they appear (we saw the Queen of Hearts) guests swarmed the characters and you had to push and shove to get a photo or autograph. Needless to say, we didn’t bother. This is something that really needs sorting park wide.
Disney Princesses: A Royal Invitation
Currently a Gazebo to the right of Fantasia Gelati, guests can meet various Princesses during the day. At the time of writing, there were no signs or indications as to which princesses would be out at what time but we did see both Snow White and Tiana during our many trips to it’s a small world. This is only a temporary measure while the old small world post show is being turned in to a permanent location for the Princesses. I won’t lie. It does like cheap and temporary. It is a shame that Disney couldn’t get the better looking location open and ready for the festival and there is no news as to when this will open. Hopefully some time soon. It is adequate for now but we know Disney can do some much better.
Share the love with Wall E and EVE!
Like Frontierland, Tomorrowland is a little empty when it comes to Disney characters and so there is little added to this area. On a positive note it did seem that this part of the park was much quieter than the rest of the park for longer. The addition here is a permanent statue of Wall E and Eve. They are very well done and are a great addition to the park. They do make a good photo opportunity even if taking a good photo because of their location is a little tricky. The statues, although included in the festival have been in place since October 2010. If you have already seen them in the park prior to this festival there is nothing new to see here.
Walt Disney Studios
Monsters Inc Scream Academy
The meet and greet has existed in this location for a few years and there is nothing really to add other than it is the same as it has been for the past few years. If you have been recently you’ve seen it, done it and bought the t-shirt.
Green Army Man Meet & Play!
If you have visited Pixar Place in Disney’s Hollywood Studios you will be familiar with the concept here. It is an opportunity for kids and adults alike to take part in some fun, interactive role play with a group of real plastic Army men. They march you through Toy Story Playland and have a bit of fun. Not worth seeking out specifically but certainly worth taking part in if you are there.
Smile and Say “Cheese” with Remy and Emile
Temporarily missing during our visit, this is a simple photo opportunity. Guests can place their face in specifically placed holes and have their photo taken with these lovable characters.
Moteurs.. Action Stunt Show Spectacular featuring Lightning McQueen
The show has been running since the park opened in 2002 and this is the first change seen to the show since then. The addition slips nicely in to a hole where very little used to happen and the life size, working McQueen is quite spectacular. The story, which does seem shoehorned in , is simple but what ensues on stage is certainly a crowd pleaser. For a car that has unbelievable speed, he seems to move very reservedly during his brief appearance. It is worth seeing at least once.
So, the big question: Is it worth the expensive of heading out to Disneyland Paris for the ‘Magical Moments Festival’? The answer depends on who you are. If you are a regular visitor to the parks and have visited in the past year or so then the additions are not worth paying out for alone. If you have missed heading to the parks for a few years then it is certainly worth heading out for a trip before the 20th. The additions to the parks are good but I can’t help wondering if this is a bit of a filler ready for the 20th anniversary. Don’t get us wrong, we had a great time and loved every minute but there is nothing there that we would say was ground breaking and new. Disney always do a good job with whatever they try but we are just itching to find out what they have planned for the 20th anniversary.
Keep an eye on Disneybrit.com for some videos from the event. We will be uploading them very soon.