Welcome to WDWNT’s Disneyland Paris 2019 Yearly Review! It’s been an exciting year for the beautiful resort, and we’ve loved reporting on what’s been moving and shaking in the parks. Here’s our recap on the news we reported on this year…
Let’s start right at the end of December 2018, when the former Senior Vice President – Natacha Rafalski – was appointed as the new President of Disneyland Paris. After the release of that ridiculously adorable The Little Duck advert, I think we were all very excited for the start of 2019 and to see what the year would bring for the resort.
In fact, let’s throwback to that advert…
And thus began 2019!
Kicking off the new year was the Festival of Pirates and Princesses, which took place from January 19th to March 17th. It was during this festival that we tried out the new character breakfast was introduced at Auberge de Cendrillon. Also in January, it became no longer free for guests to re-enter the parking lot, meaning guests leaving the park to come back later now have to pay twice.
Marvel Season of Super Heroes ran in the Walt Disney Studios park from March 23rd through June 16th, giving guests the chance to meet and learn from their favorite characters – including Captain Marvel and Groot for the first time. Also part of the celebration was the impressive new “Super Heroes United” performance, featuring impressive stunts and epic battles. March also saw the closing of Armageddon: Les Effets Speciaux, and the attraction was celebrated with an exclusive Infinity Annual Passholder event. There was also a swarm on social media one day, when conflicting reports of panic in the park lead to guest evacuations and lockdowns, yet fortunately it was just a false alarm. On March 31st, guests arriving at the park in the morning were greeted by a sea of toilet paper and trash spewed across the park entrance following protests by employees from the independent cleaning and logistics company Onet, which also resulted in the area being blocked off to guests. On a more positive note, it was reported in March by Formula Money that Disneyland Paris posted a profit in 2018, for the first time in more than a decade following a boost in attendance and guest spending, with revenue increasing to a record £1.5bn.
Probably the biggest conspiracy of early 2019 was the question of when the Phantom Manor was due to open its doors again, having been closed since January 2018 for a lengthy refurbishment. At first, we thought it was May, then June, but after a long 16 months of waiting, the attraction finally reopened its creaky doors in April. However, fans didn’t like the change in music during the iconic ballroom scene, so after a bit of an outcry the Imagineers had to backtrack a bit and restore the original soundtrack only weeks after reopening. With the update, Disney released this fun documentary, detailing the history, design and legend of the Manor. Because if there’s one thing we know about Disneyland Paris attractions, is that they don’t half have intricate backstories! Something to look out for is the holiday overlay which is in development for the Phantom Manor, which will hopefully be ready for next Christmas.
It was also in April that paper straws began to be distributed at dining locations across Disneyland Paris, mirroring eco-friendly efforts made by other parks across the globe. Also, April saw the increase in pricing for the Discovery, Magic Flex, Magic Plus and Infinity annual passes at the resort.
The Walt Disney Studios park was filled with glitz and glamour from May through June in the new “No Biz Like Showbiz” event, where all kinds of glitzy personalities took to the streets of Hollywood Boulevard. In celebration of International Star Wars Day – which of course takes place on May 4th – guests were allowed to visit the park in costume, and offered special treats and surprises.
The popular Lion King and Jungle Festival took place in the resort from June 30th to September 22nd, with a new stage show, special treats and more. Guests could upgrade their experience at this festival by purchasing the The Lion King Signature Experience package, which offered exclusive private encounters, VIP access, lunch and more. The “Hip Hope! Live Experience” music event which was planned for June 7th and 8th was unfortunately cancelled, possibly due to low registration. However, the sparkling celebration of Magical Pride did take place this month, and was named as an official Disneyland Paris celebration for the first time. Headlining the festival were Years and Years, Boy George and Corine. The event has been confirmed to return in June 2020 as the renamed “Disneyland Paris Pride”, and will take place in the main Disneyland Park itself. Finally in June was the new “Toy Story Play Days” event, which took place in Walt Disney Studios from 18th to 28th in celebration of the release of Toy Story 4. This celebration featured fun and games, special character meet & greets, a movie preview, scavenger hunt and more.
The jungle themed Electroland festival took place on July 5th, 6th and 7th. Also in July, we learned that the Dapper Dan’s Barber Shop in the Emporium in the Disneyland Park would be relocated to inside the Liberty Arcade, filling the diorama. In September, a park-wide power outage lead to the shutdown of most rides at the resort. But that wasn’t the biggest scandal of the month, as we reported that a guest under the influence of LSD went missing in the park after hours, leading to the call-out of thirty firefighters, ten divers, eighty cast members, dogs and a helicopter to try and find the guest.
October saw the arrival of “A New Dimension of Chills” with a Halloween overhaul on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. A creepy, jazzy trailer was released for the attraction event, which featured three new spooky storylines and hair-raising drop sequences for the elevators. Halloween season at the resort took place from September 28th through November 3rd, and the spooky offerings included a new Villains show. The famous Soiree Halloween event took place on October 31st, with an additional date this year on the 26th too. Highlights of the events included a new Goofy & Max Spooky Space Party, the new Fiesta de la Tierra de los Muertos invasion, the Halloween Cavalcade, “Are You Brave Enough?” show and more!
In November, the new “Frozen: A Musical Invitation” interactive show opened up at The Animation Celebration in the Walt Disney Studios Park, featuring singing, dancing and an impressive Sven puppet. Also, for the first time in forever, Olaf visited the park, and set up residence for meet & greets just outside the show’s exit. November 18th saw the resort celebrate the 91st birthday of Mickey Mouse himself, with guests treated to a special Birthday Celebration Pre-Parade.
Whilst the usual Christmas lights were not installed on Sleeping Beauty Castle this year due to “technical difficulties”, the festive season still shone through at the Disneyland Paris resort. We watched the dazzling Disney Princess Royal Sparkling Winter Waltz Show at the Royal Castle Stage, and were enchanted by the 2019 Christmas Parade through the park. We also loved the particularly magical new “Mickey’s Magical Christmas Lights” tree lighting ceremony and castle projection show. Also, Autopia reopened in December after a long refurbishment, sporting a smart new color scheme and energy efficient lighting. The queue area experience has also been enhanced with a new light show which gives guests a further backstory about Discoveryland itself.
Something we’ve been following closely here at WDWNT is the development of Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel. The logo and concept details for the hotel were released all the way back in January, and new concept art was released in September. The resort will be opening its doors on June 15th, and a current booking promotion offers guests a free Half Board dining plan and an exclusive piece of Marvel artwork.
But that’s not all of the development we’ve been excited for at Disneyland Paris. At this year’s D23 Expo we managed to put together more pieces of the ongoing “Project Firefly” park development project, including details of a “Tangled Round Ride”, the Disney Village expansion, and the complete reimagining of the Walt Disney Studios Park. Of course, the ongoing project is something we’re still enjoying receiving updates on, and we can’t wait to see what it brings to the resort in the future. All the way throughout 2019 we were teased with lots more details about upcoming developments and changes in the resort. We learned more details about the Disney Village renovation, (which will include the closure of the “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show… with Mickey & Friends!”), and got a peek at concept art for the Frozen-themed land. It was particularly exciting to get a closer look at the “Avengers Campus” project, which will include an Iron Man roller coaster and Spider-Man attraction. As always, make sure to stay tuned to WDWNT for all the details on these projects as we hear them!
It’s been quite a year, but there’s plenty more to look forward to going into 2020. Not only will the new year see the return of the Legends of the Force – A Celebration of Star Wars from January 11th to March 15th in the Walt Disney Studios Park, but an icy new celebration will be blasting through the whole resort. The first-ever Frozen Celebration will take place from January 11th to May 3rd, bringing themed treats and unique merchandise, and plenty of fun with Anna and Elsa. I’m particularly excited to see the Magic Over Lake Disney: The Frozen Edition performances, which will bring light, sound and frozen fractals over the Disney Village lake on select evenings through the celebration season. The first Disneyland Paris Princess runDisney event will take place in May, and in Summer 2020 we are looking forward to the opening of the Cars Route 66 Road Trip attraction in the Walt Disney Studios park. Formerly the Studio Tram Tour, we already know that this new reimagining will feature Lightning McQueen and Mater and we can’t wait to find out more. You can take a look at the full schedule of events at Disneyland Paris right through 2020 here.
Have you visited Disneyland Paris in 2019? Or are you busy planning your 2020 trip? Let us know your highlights, what you’re looking forward to, and what you miss most about this stunning and magical park. And, from all of us at WDWNT, have a very Happy New Year!