Disneyland® opened its doors in Anaheim, California on 17 July 1955. Considered to be the world’s first theme park, it was designed by Walt Disney himself, assisted by artists from his studio, who were transformed into “Imagineers” for the occasion. Over the years, Disneyland – which became Disneyland Resort in 2001 when a second theme park was opened next to the first – has introduced many technological innovations, such as Audio-Animatronics, Circle-Vision 360° and even FastPass! But the actual concept behind the very first Disney Park works so well that several other parks have since been modelled on it – Disneyland® Paris in particular.
Disneyland Paris means Main Street, U.S.A., Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Discoveryland… cult attractions and icons like Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Phantom Manor, “it’s a small world” and Sleeping Beauty Castle … all concepts introduced years before at Disneyland California. They may have undergone technical improvements and been adapted for a European audience in terms of design, but they are still proof positive of Walt Disney’s sense of innovation and flair for telling stories, which are still heard today by the millions of Guests at Disneyland Paris.
The basic principles of Disneyland have been applied to Disneyland Paris: Guest flow is organised around a guiding layout in the form of a wheel with a hub in the centre, making it easier to move around. Visual icons (“weenies” such as Swiss Family Treehouse, Space Mountain: Mission 2…) are strategically located where Guests can see them, encouraging them to go there, explore and navigate their way easily around the park. Colours are used to convey emotion whilst taking account of the local weather conditions. And cinema techniques have obviously been used too: exaggerated scenery perspective, visual transitions, background music… every detail adds to the storytelling: the costumes worn by the Cast Members, waste bins that blend into the scenery of each land, the horse-drawn trams on Main Street… even name tags enabling employees to call each other by their first name have been introduced at Disneyland!
Frontierland à Disneyland Resort et à Disneyland Paris
Yes, Disneyland Paris has since opened its own unique attractions and developed a second Park but, 60 years later, the devotion of its Cast Members remains inextricably linked to the vision of Walt Disney, who built most of his success on people. In his own words: “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it takes people to make the dream a reality”. Now more than ever, Disney service quality is central to the expectations of our Guests, and a priority for Disneyland Paris and Disney Parks throughout the world.
The years may have passed, but Disneyland remains true to its principles as it looks to the future. This is one of the reasons why adults feel so nostalgic about it, bringing their children and grandchildren to visit. The constant goals of quality, innovation and service keep the heritage of Disneyland California alive as a model for all our other parks. Happy Birthday!