Last year at the end of summer, Disneyland Paris started teasing that there was something big coming our way. This turned out to be the FanDaze, a weekend full of special activities for fans of the attractions, the food, and the characters. The main event of the weekend was the FanDaze Inaugural Party, on Saturday June 2, 2018, at Walt Disney Studios Park.
From 8 PM till 2 AM, the fans had this park for themselves. The very short lines for normally busy attractions like Crush’s Coaster, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Ratatouille: The Adventure were the least special aspect of the event. There were unique shows and parades, conferences with Imagineers and a Disney Legend, and around hundred (including very rare) characters to spot.
In this article, I will tell you what I have done during the event and I will show you some of my photos while I try to give you my opinion. I believe it is good to note that I went to the FanDaze as a fan, not as a journalist or professional photographer. I did the stuff and tried to spot the characters I personally liked, but there was a lot more. This article is a review of my evening, while another guest might have had a different experience. All right, that said, time to start!
Walt Disney Studios Park opened a couple minutes before 8 PM. A long, very long, line of people entered the park. Fans eager to meet well known characters like Goofy and Donald in their special FanDaze costumes (more on that later) already ran to the lines for those characters.
I entered the park and went to Production Courtyard, where Disneyland Paris Ambassadors Laura Janice and Michaël opened the FanDaze Inaugural Party together with Mickey, Minnie and the President of the Disneyland Paris operating group, Euro Disney S.C.A., Catherine Powell. The main message of their talk was that FanDaze was created for us, the fans that always come to the parks and support the people behind the scenes. This night was going to be ours.
Oh My, Ortensia!
After the opening, fans ran to the lines-to-be for the rare characters that could come out any minute. There was a light hectic atmosphere when I walked to the Oh My, Ortensia! show on Hollywood Boulevard. Ortensia, friend of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, made her park debut in this show, that played four times during the Inaugural Party.
Dancing citizens of New York were gossiping about Oswald coming to town, and when the famous rabbit arrived it became clear he brought a friend. The arrival of Ortensia was announced by dancers in costumes themed to Oswald & Ortensia, and in the end these two characters joined them in the very festive dance performance.
Dance Your DuckTales Parade!
The parade route in Walt Disney Studios Park, that did not feature a parade in a very long time, brought two parades to the park during the FanDaze. The first was themed to DuckTales. Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Donald Duck, Scrooge McDuck, and Launchpad McQuack arrived on tricycles surrounded by many dancers, that wore clothes themed to the three nephews.
The parade made two stops on the route, where the dancers and the characters taught a dance to the audience. I am not aware of the name of the dance, but I would say it has something to do with “quack, quack, quack”. Because of the dancers and the interactivity, the parade really felt alive. For an act that is only performed three times on one evening, it really was a spectacle.
After the parade, I had one free hour to roam the park and to see for myself which rare characters I could meet. There were twenty photo locations announced where characters were to be found at set times. In addition to these characters, there would be random appearances of other characters throughout the park.
After meeting Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6, I came across Lewis and Wilbur Robinson, accompanied by Bowler Hat, all from Meet the Robinsons. Other characters that randomly appeared included Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear, Chicken Little and Abby Mallard, Phineas and Ferb, and Clarice.
At the twenty set photo locations there was a special background or set pieces that referred to the film where the characters came from. Photo locations were designed for, among others, characters from Frozen, Big Hero 6, and The Incredibles II.
Also on set locations were Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, Clara Cluck and all other characters from Duckburg like Minnie and Daisy. This last group of characters, normally a lot in the parks, got special outfits for the occasion.
Characters from films like The Emperor’s New Groove, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet were also appearing at the set photo locations.
As you might expect, rare characters guarantee long lines. This was true, but it was organized in a great way. Characters did not give out autographs, cast members made only two photos with mobile devices or cameras and PhotoPass photographers made only one. Because of these regulations, character interaction was short. Still it was great to have them, so guests did not stand in one line for too long.
A FanDaze cupcake
Meeting characters makes one hungry, so before heading off to the next thing on my program, I bought a FanDaze cupcake themed to Oswald. It looked funny and the cupcake was very tasty, but €6 (around $7) for a small cupcake was a bit expensive.
Insights with Walt Disney Imagineering
At the FanDaze Inaugural Party, there were two conferences with Imagineers. The first one was with Daniel Jue, Ethan Reed and Charlie Watanabe. It was called the “A Duffy & Friends panel”. The Disney bear never really found his popularity in Europe, so I skipped this conference.
I did go to the “Insights with Walt Disney Imagineering” conference, where Portfolio Creative Executive Tom Fitzgerald came to tell the audience about the work Imagineers do, about his career and about one of the projects he is currently working on: Phantom Manor in Paris.
To be honest, I found this conference a little disappointing. As a fan, and I do believe I was not the only one, I read a lot about Imagineers and their work. There was not much new information on the subject. Next to that, Fitzgerald had a presentation with photos that fitted with the answers he gave during the interview. This made me feel that a seminar was a better way to organize this conference.
In the end, Fitzgerald said some things about Paris. Regarding the Walt Disney Studios, he said he was looking forward to the new immersive worlds that were announced earlier this year. A part of this expansion is a pathway to a lake in the center of the park. Where some fans saw a path with not so much to the side of it, Fitzgerald made clear that this path will be the Main Street, just themed to gardens. I am very curious what this is going to be.
About Phantom Manor, Fitzgerald told us that the narration of Vincent Price will return to the attraction when it re-opens in October, as we reported earlier. We will also find out who the mysterious phantom of the manor actually is.
After the conference, fans used the opportunity to shake hands with Catherine Powell, who sat in the front of the Animagique Theater. I was one of them and it was great to see how she took the time to talk to fans and to take photos. The same can be said about Tom Fitzgerald, who came into the audience after his interview. Meeting these two people that contributed a lot to Disneyland Paris and the other parks was definitely one of my favorite moments of the FanDaze Inaugural Party.
Max Live! Gettin’ Goofy With It
After the conference I did some attractions with only a couple or zero minutes wait time, and I went to the Max Live! show that was performed three times that night on the stage in front of the Tower of Terror. It was all about Max from Goof Troop.
In the show, Max invites his friends Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde from Zootopia, Stitch and Angel, Emperor Kuzco and unfortunately Yzma, and Panchito Pistoles and José Carioca from The Three Caballeros. All these characters together on one (actually, three connected stages) with multiple dancers around them, is that a good idea? Yes, it definitely was.
Max had to host his own live performance. Of course, there were things that went wrong, because Goofy was doing the technics. This is not the most original story, but the whole show was great. Dancers that changed costumes for different songs, fireworks, new projections on the Tower of Terror, fountains, and a lot of music: it had it all. I find it hard to believe that this show is produced for only one evening. I found it one of the best I have ever seen in Walt Disney Studios Park.
Meet Andreas Deja, a Disney Legend
After this musical spectacle with Max, I went to the Art of Disney Animation ‘attraction’ to meet Andreas Deja. This animator is responsible for characters like Jafar, Gaston and Lilo. He was also interviewed about his work and career, and how he became a Disney Legend.
He told the audience he is now working a non-Disney project (since they only do computer animation) about a girl and a tiger, with music from other Disney Legend Richard Sherman. The project is called Muska and is likely finished in the first half of next year. So, make sure you keep the title in mind!
This conference ended with a short drawing lesson for all the guests. Deja drew one of his characters and the guests needed to follow his instructions. I am not an artist, but I believe that with a little help of Deja I drew a character that is recognizable.
Still no clue? Here is the version of Deja himself:
The event also meant a new merchandise line, with five exclusive pins. All the attendants received a free pin with the logo, but the exclusive pins were all limited to four hundred examples each. All merchandise was themed to Oswald and Ortensia or the blue and gold combination of the logo. It looked really nice, but for a possible next time I hope to see more Mickey and his gang in their FanDaze costumes.
The Farewell Street Party!
The attractions closed at 2 AM, but of course there was a finale. The second parade of the evening featured all the meetable characters. Around ninety familiar faces walked the route or rode it in cars from the old Stars ‘n’ Cars parade. Ending around 2:30 AM, it was time to say goodbye to this FanDaze Inaugural Party.
At the beginning of the evening I was a little worried. There was so much to see and to do (honestly, there was more!) and I was afraid that it was too much for one evening. I can imagine that people who sought too long for characters missed some great entertainment. The large offer of activities was also a pro: it was nowhere too busy.
For a next event I would like to see a bit more teasing about what is coming for Disneyland Paris. I think that would excite a larger group of fans.
But, what an incredible night! There were high level shows, there was a big, themed stage and every corner in park shouted: “You are at the FanDaze Inaugural Party!” because of all the characters and decorations. When the prices for the packages came out, people were surprised by the high prices. A stand-alone ticket was still €109 (around $127). Seeing everything that was done at Walt Disney Studios Park last weekend, I do think this was totally worth it!
It is not clear what the future of the FanDaze will be. I do know one thing, and that is that if there ever will be another event like this, I will be back. It’s fun to be a fan at Disneyland Paris!