Cynthia Meeusen, Director of Maintenance at Disneyland Paris

Women Behind the Magic: Cynthia Meeusen on Bringing Upcoming Expansions to Life at Disneyland Paris

Whether they’re managing immersive merchandise experiences or bridging the gender gap in the technology field, thousands of #WomenBehindtheMagic across the globe deliver Disney magic to guests every day.

For Cynthia Meeusen, Director of Maintenance at Disneyland Paris, making magic means ensuring the performance and safety of attractions and experiences in the parks. She also is helping to develop the upcoming expansion of Walt Disney Studios Park – which includes a new Marvel-themed area called Avengers Campus, along with “Frozen” and Star Wars-themed areas, part of a multi-year park expansion that will begin opening in phases in 2021.

Cynthia was drawn to her current role because of her love for science.   As a child she was always drawn to solving real, tangible problems – which fit well with biology, math, physics, and understanding people.  Whether she’s designing a new system for guests to experience or repairing a technical problem, she finds it rewarding to see the immediate result that brings magic to guests.

“My career aspirations as a child rotated between astronaut, cement-truck driver and ballerina, shared Cynthia. “I was well rounded!”

Cynthia’s Disney career began in 2001 as a Biosystems Engineer for the Epcot Science team at the Walt Disney World Resort. Seven years later her career went international when she accepted a short term assignment in January 2008 at Disneyland Paris to assist with Crush’s Coaster attraction reliability.

“I said yes! Then, once I was on site for a few months, the Director of the Engineering team asked if I would be interested to stay on the team full-time as Principle Engineer – and I said yes again,” explained Cynthia.

At that point, Cynthia was responsible for the Disneyland Paris Scientific Systems team – the group of engineers and support staff who design the electric and electronic systems that run attractions and shows. She briefly returned to Orlando in 2015 to tackle major Walt Disney World expansions including, Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, along with Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

All these opportunities led her to where she is today. In 2016, she became Director of Attractions Maintenance at Disneyland Paris. Today, her team is made up of approximately 900 technicians, artists, engineering specialists and support staff who are responsible for the technical function and show sparkle in both parks.

‘Pandora – The World of Avatar’, was a project that will always stand out to Cynthia. However, she sees the upcoming expansion of the Walt Disney Studios Park as an opportunity to take guest offerings here at Disneyland Pairs to the next level!

“Disneyland Paris has invested an incredible amount into this amazing expansion – with new lands, park features, shows and attractions,” Cynthia explained. “The overall plan is wonderfully diverse and rich, and it will change the face of our parks forever. I’m very excited to help bring this vision to life!”

When Cynthia first arrived at Disneyland Paris in 2008, she didn’t know a word of French, and thought her visit would only last for three months. More than ten years later, she still calls Disneyland Paris home and now leads an incredible team.  Her advice for other young women who aspire to work in this typically male-dominated field is to not self-impose limitations.   Be brave, be positive, and accept challenges.

“I’m lucky to work for a company where diversity and inclusion matters,” said Cynthia. “At Disney, we celebrate equality, and I’m proud to be part of a generation of female leaders who can inspire other young ladies to aim for a technical career.”

Cynthia is just one of the many women bringing Disney magic to guests and fans around the world, so stay tuned to the blog for inspiring #WomenBehindtheMagic stories.

Merchandise - Heart Lock

10 ideas to declare your love to your Valentine on Valentine’s Day in Disneyland Paris!

What could be better than spending the most romantic day of the year in the place where magic comes to life? Disneyland Paris highlights 10 extra special ways that lovers can enjoy this memorable moment in a fairytale setting and make February 14 an unforgettable day.

1. Enjoy a ride at dawn down Main Street, U.S.A. with Horse-Drawn Streetcars
Travel back in time to turn-of-the-century America on a decorated tramway down Main Street, U.S.A., located in Disneyland Park. This takes visitors on a romantic ride back to Walt Disney’s childhood memories down this lively street with a magnificent view of Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background.

2. Cruise the world on “It’s a small world”
Guests can enjoy the whimsical attraction “It’s a small world” (Fantasyland) for a cruise to the four corners of the world. This cheerful song is sure to be in their mind for the rest of the day, reminding guests of the wonderful experience.

3. Keep a unique memory of this day! 
Disneyland Paris boutiques offer a wide selection of gift ideas to remember this special day. Among them, souvenir products featuring iconic characters and couples from Disney stories, available at World of Disney (Disney Village) or Walt Disney Studios Store (Walt Disney Studios Park), as well as beautiful hand-customized engravings at Merlin l’Enchanteur (Fantasyland). It’s a great way to remember the day and extend the magic all the way home.

 

4. Take your taste buds on a trip to the Restaurant Agrabah Café
Aboard their flying carpet through the tale of a thousand and one nights, couples can recapture the romance in the beautiful setting of the Restaurant Agrabah Café (Adventureland).

 

5. Sail through the Far West with Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing
Around the majestic Big Thunder Mountain, visitors can learn about the history of the city of Thunder Mesa (Frontierland) aboard a majestic steamboat and sail on Rivers of the Far West.

6. Take a break at the Café Fantasia at Disneyland Hotel
For a short break during the day, head to Café Fantasia, an intimate bar on the first floor of the Disneyland Hotel to enjoy a selection of hot drinks and other delights.

7. Sing along with Anna and Kristoff at Walt Disney Studios Park
Lovers can meet Arendelle’s famous couple and sing “Love is an Open Door” with them during the show Frozen: A Musical Invitation (Walt Disney Studios Park).

8. Admire the night show Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration
At nightfall, visitors can admire the sound and light and be immersed in the stars of a Galaxy Far, Far away to relive the saga with its emblematic heroes. Visit the Production Courtyard stage at the foot of the Hollywood Tower Hotel (Walt Disney Studios Park).

9. Ask for your partner’s hand in the magic
At the foot of Sleeping Beauty Castle, near the wishing fountain, guests can start their happily ever after.

10. And for those who have not found their soulmate yet…
Fancy a warm hug? Olaf awaits guests at Animation Celebration at Walt Disney Studios Park for a tender moment.

 

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris: A Magical Place for Families with Young Children

Disneyland Paris is the perfect playground for the whole family and a magical place for young children. Children’s dreams become reality as they fly over the roofs of London on Peter Pan’s Flight, follow the White Rabbit into Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, bounce up, down and all around on the back of Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin or experience the excitement of meeting Mickey Mouse or a Disney Princess for the first time.

 

Travelling with toddlers is easier than ever, with guests being able to take advantage of the many services available for families with young children. From special amenities for babies, pushchair rentals in the theme parks, children’s pools, play areas and in-room babysitting at some Disney Hotels and Resorts, there are plenty of helping hands to make travelling with infants and small children hassle-free.

 

Disney Characters, Attractions and Entertainment in Disney Parks

Encounters with Disney Characters

Disneyland Paris offers children wonderful opportunities to meet and strike a pose with their favorite Disney characters around the park as well as at special Meet & Greet locations.

Little ones will revel in spending a memorable moment with a Disney Princess in the most enchanting of surroundings, the Princess Pavilion, or enjoy an unforgettable meeting with Mickey Mouse himself at Meet Mickey Mouse.

 

Fun attractions for little ones

The captivating world of Disneyland Paris includes plenty of family friendly attractions and activities for younger guests to enjoy. Many adventures are under cover so they can enjoy the Parks whatever the weather!

In Disneyland Park, Fantasyland is a hub of activities perfect for young children. Everyone can join in the fun riding Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Le Carrousel de Lancelot and Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups. They can also enjoy the happiest cruise that’s ever sailed on it’s a small world’, set voyage to magical miniature lands on Le Pays des Contes de Fées where Disney moments are bought to life, or join the circus and jump aboard the jolly little train from Dumbo in Casey Jr. – Le Petit Train du Cirque. They can even step into the roles of Snow White, Pinocchio or Peter Pan on Peter Pan’s Flight, Les Voyages de Pinocchio (Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey) and Blanche Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). In Disneyland Park, there are plenty of places for children to play, with play spots like Adventure Isle or Pirates’ Beach in Adventureland and Frontierland Playground in Frontierland ready to be explored.

In Walt Disney Studios Park, little ones are welcomed by the Genie from Aladdin to ride Les Tapis Volants – Flying Carpets over Agrabah. They can embark on family-friendly adventures in the universe of the Disney Pixar film Toy Story in Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin, a lively attraction in Toy Story Playland, or shrink down to the size of Chef Remy and embark on a 4D adventure in Ratatouille: The Adventure in Toon Studios.

 

A world of entertainment

In Disneyland Park children will enjoy the colourful costumes and magical music of Disney Stars on Parade, a daily parade that features a huge array of much-loved Disney characters, Disney themed floats and even a fire-breathing dragon. At nighttime, they will gaze in awe at Sleeping Beauty Castle as Mickey leads them through a dazzling display of Disney stories during the spectacular Disney Illuminations show.

In Walt Disney Studios Park, little ones can see Mickey Mouse on stage at Animagique Theater to experience the illusions and spellbinding effects of the spectacular Mickey and the Magician show. In Spring 2020, children and their families will be welcomed to a brand new interactive show, taking place in Studio D, in the company of Mickey, Minnie and their friends from Disney Junior. This new experience will give little ones the chance to sing and dance alongside their favorite characters.

 

Benefits in Disney Parks that make every minute more magical

The many added services at Disneyland Paris makes visiting with toddlers easy:

  • The “Rider Switch” option lets families with young children smaller than the height limit (at certain attractions) take turns without having to go back and queue a second time. One parent can wait with their young child while the other parent rides the attraction, the parents can then swap and ride again with minimal wait time.
  • The standard FASTPASS system (subject to availability), included in all Disneyland Paris Park Tickets, allows guests to cut down queue time on some of our most popular attractions from Peter Pan’s Flight in Disneyland Park to Ratatouille: The Adventure in the Walt Disney Studios Park. After inserting their Disney Park ticket at the FASTPASS attractions, guests receive their return time ticket to the attraction and board via the FASTPASS entrance. A Super FASTPASS is available to purchase and allows Guests to one-time speedy access to three of the most popular family attractions whenever they want during the day.
  • If guests are travelling with a young baby the Baby Care Centres at Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park provide a place to tend to baby’s needs, including warming up bottles and meals (all restrooms throughout the resort are equipped with changing tables). Nappies and baby food can be purchased here, and it is also used as a meeting point should parents become separated from their children.
  • Children can get their own name badge which not only adds to the magic but also allows the child’s name, hotel name, room number and local contact phone details to be added on the back, just in case a child becomes separated from its parents in the buzz of all the Parks.

Amenities and services for kiddies in Disney Hotels and Resorts

When staying at Disneyland Paris, guests have the choice between two types of accommodations that are conveniently designed for families with young kids:

  • Disney Hotels are closely located to the Parks and free shuttles provide frequent transfers taking less than 10 minutes to reach the magic. Each Disney Hotel allows guests to live a different Disney dream, with theming from the Wild West of Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne to the nautical delights of Disney’s Newport Bay Club Hotel. Meet & Greets with Disney Characters happen every morning, with kids being able to meet their favorite friends before even entering the Disney Parks! Additional highlights include kids corners and children’s pools. In Disneyland Hotel, Minnie Club Playroom (with trained supervision), in a Fantasia-themed setting, will keep the little ones happy and safe whilst their parents enjoy a worry-free break.
  • Disney Nature Resorts are easily accessible to the Parks by car, offering a more independent and private atmosphere as they are equipped with a kitchen as well as separate bedrooms. Additionally, they offer many onsite activities for young kids such as swimming pools or outdoor play areas. On top of that, the natural setting enables kids to discover and be dazzled by nature while parents relax in the secluded world of Disney Nature Resorts.

Both types of accommodations offer specific in-room amenities for kids such as baby cots, bottle warmers, changing tables and other services that are tailored to children and their families, for example shops, in-room TVs equipped with Disney Channel as well as a babysitting service (excluding Les Villages Nature Paris).

 

Dining to suit the whole family

Disney Character Dining Experiences are perfect for families with young children. Guests will enjoy a delicious meal alongside the most beloved Disney Characters who will be ready to give their autograph and have a photo or two!

The Auberge de Cendrillon in Disneyland Park offers royal meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner accompanied by Disney Princesses. For breakfast, guests can also head over to Plaza Gardens Restaurant (Disneyland Park), an American-style buffet, with Mickey and friends in an elegant Victorian setting. For lunch and dinner, guests choose from many delicious international dishes at the buffet restaurant whilst meeting with Disney Characters at Restaurant Inventions (Disneyland Hotel). During dinner, guests can spend quality time with Mickey and friends, all whilst tucking into delicious pizzas, pastas and desserts at Café Mickey (Disney Village).

And for the icing on the cake, little ones can celebrate their birthday at table service and buffet restaurants in Disney Parks, Disney Village and Disney’s Hotels & Resorts (except Villages Nature Paris).

A wide range of restaurants can be found at Disneyland Paris so every child will find something to enjoy, with restaurants offering a vast variety of culinary menus. Meals with the Disney Check symbol have been developed especially with children’s nutritional requirements in mind.

All restaurants are family friendly, equipped with high chairs and microwaves that can be used to warm up baby-bottles and food. Additionally, they can all cater to the needs of every guest, with menu items for guests with specific dietary requirements.

Exclusive Dining Experiences at Disneyland Paris are incredibly popular, and reservations are therefore highly recommended.  Many of these special experiences can be reserved upon booking, with other dining reservations able to be made two months prior to travel.

Thanks to a huge array of magical attractions, shows and services for children of all ages, Disneyland Paris is the perfect destination for families with babies and toddlers.

 

Pantoufle

70th Anniversary: in Cinderella’s footsteps at Disneyland Paris

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]70 years ago, Cinderella, Walt Disney’s masterpiece, first premiered on the big screen, and since then, the princess with the glass slippers has not aged one bit. This anniversary is the perfect opportunity to rediscover her world and fulfill “a wish your heart makes” at Disneyland Paris…. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”13961″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

THE GLASS SLIPPER

The story of Cinderella dates back to the moment when Walt Disney first got his start in the industry. In 1922, he opened his studio in Kansas City and produced his first series of cartoons, called the “laugh-O-Grams.” As part of this series, he released his first adaptation of the fairytale, with contemporary and comic undertones, in December that same year. A Silly Symphony based on the same story was considered for a while in 1933, but the project was nipped in the bud.

Only in 1943 did a new scenario see the light of day, and in 1948, Walt decided to use it for his next animated movie.

The movie enjoyed immediate success upon its release on 15 February 1950. It was nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Sound, Best Music and Best Original Song for Bibbidi-Boddidi-Boo) thus kick-starting a new golden age for Disney animation.

Cinderella also includes one of Walt Disney’s favorite scenes, when Fairy Godmother magically transforms her ruined dress into a wonderful ballgown. The animation work for this magical scene was particularly well-executed by the very talented Marc Davis (who also played a prominent role in the creation of Pirates of the Caribbean). Cinderella’s ballgown, inspired by Christian Dior (who had made a strong impact when he visited Los Angeles in 1947), is absolutely stunning![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”13960″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

HOMECOMING

As the animated movie proved to be a tremendous success and it was of particular significance for Walt, it felt perfectly natural for the Imagineers to use it as a source of inspiration for the different Disney Parks, and most notably for the castles at the Magic Kingdom in Florida and at Tokyo Disneyland.

It made as much sense to pay homage to the movie at Disneyland Paris, in the home country of Charles Perrault. As such, Cinderella holds a special place in Fantasyland, especially at Auberge de Cendrillon, which hosts one of the iconic restaurants of the Park.

The building is clearly reminiscent of the Renaissance architecture from the Loire Valley, which the artistic directors of the movie, Mary Blair and John Hench, had used as inspiration before. The pastel pink facade and the blue rooftops are in clear reference to the color palette used in the animated movie. Inside, the French style ceilings, stone arches, beveled windows and the pastel colors recall the outdoor feel of the place while the tapestries, column capitals, fresco paintings all hint at the 1950 classic. The carriage, which is out front, and the fountain, adorned with an elegant bronze statue, complete the enchanting feel of the place, just like the treats offered by the chefs – most notably, the signature Cinderella dessert, an exquisite slipper…made of white chocolate![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”13963″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

ON THE WAY TO THE BALL!

Beyond her various appearances, whether it be at Auberge de Cendrillon or at the Princess Pavilion, Cinderella enjoys taking part in the resort’s various shows. She used to appear in her fabulous carriage, shaped like a pumpkin, drawn by magnificent horses, in the Disney Parade (1992-1994) as well as the sparkling Main Street Electrical Parade (1992-2003), which also featured the castle clock.

The pumpkin used to magically transform into a carriage right before the eyes of the guests, during the Festival des Contes de Fées show (1995-1996), as court dancers performed a pas de deux (ballet duet) and tap-danced to the sound of a live marching band. At Walt Disney Studios Park, she would sometimes join in the Disney’s Stars’n’Cars parade (2008-2015) and appears nowadays in the Mickey and the Magician show at Animagique Theater. Cinderella does not shy away from joining the other Disney Princesses for a show or a dance. For example, she can be admired on Castle Stage, in the Starlit Princess Waltz (2017-2019), or during the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on Main Street U.S.A. Disney Princesses come to lend a hand to Santa Claus, in order to make the Castle sparkle![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”13964″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

PRINCESS AND FRIENDS

Cinderella is not the only character from Walt Disney’s classic animated movie that guests can meet at Disneyland Paris. Between 2012 and 2017, Fairy Godmother held a prime spot on the first float, called “Inventons la Magie,” of Disney Magic on Parade! Nowadays, guests can applaud her in the show Mickey and the Magician, in which she seeks to teach the basics of magic thanks to her famous song “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!”

Suzy and Perla also take part in the festivities. They can sometimes be seen next to Auberge de Cendrillon for heartwarming encounters, as well as inside the restaurant where they frequently welcome the guests. Jaq and Gus also join them at times.

Halloween is undeniably the best time of the year to meet Lady Tremaine and her two disgraceful daughters, Drizella and Anastasia. Throughout the entire season, they can be seen roaming around Fantasyland (maybe in search of a fiancé?) or on Castle Stage for Attention… Méchants! If you ever happen to stumble across them, will you be brave enough to dare approach them?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”13962″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE

What if it was your turn to lead the life of a princess?

Nothing is easier at Disneyland Paris!

Enjoying lunch, or a “royal breakfast” at Auberge de Cendrillon is always an unforgettable experience. This table service restaurant will enable you to relish in the most exquisite treats in a fairytale setting with the Disney Princesses.

For an extra touch of magic, don’t hesitate to go to the Fantasyland or Studio 1 makeup stands, and choose from the many models offered inspired by Animation Classics.

For a total makeover, make your way to the Disneyland Hotel. “Princess for a day” is an exclusive service which enables your child to transform into a real princess! Hair and make-up are done by professional artists and the sovereign apprentice can even dress as her favorite Disney Princess and turn this moment into a long-lasting memory with a photoshoot.

Why not conclude the day in the enchanting environment of the “Cinderella” suite, the large Vice-Presidential suite of the Disneyland Hotel? Beyond its unparalleled view overlooking Disneyland Park, it features numerous refined details and references to Walt Disney’s animated movie, from the glass slipper in the lobby to the vegetable theming of the furniture, in reference to the transformative scene of the movie.

Nothing is better to fulfill a wish you heart makes, without fearing to be out and about when the clock strikes midnight![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Orchestre

Frozen: A Musical Invitation – an interview with Matt Walker (Executive WDI Music Studio) and Yaron Spiwak (Producteur)

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Music is an essential part of the magic of Frozen: A Musical Invitation. We were pleased to talk about this attraction with two of its creators: Matt Walker, who is in charge of music for all Disney Parks around the world, and Yaron Spiwak, a Sr. Music Creative Director on his team. 

You have both worked on many different Frozen projects for Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line. To you, what makes Disneyland Paris’ Frozen: A Musical Invitation special?

Matt Walker: Frozen: A Musical Invitation is about moments from the film that are beloved by our audiences. And what’s unique about it is that you’re able to re-live them and really participate. It’s very immersive, very inclusive on the part of the audience. That was wonderful to take the music of the film and make it very much a part of this whole experience for the guests.

Yaron Spiwak: Be it the Frozen 2: An Enchanted Journey parade, the Frozen segment in Mickey and the Magician a few years ago, Frozen – Live at the Hyperion at Disney California Adventure Park or the shows for Disney Cruise Line, no two versions are the same. Each show really gets what’s best for it and we give it a lot of love and care so that people enjoy a different vision of the film each time. Frozen: A Musical Invitation is a unique combination of techniques from our movies, attractions and stage shows, which makes this attraction really special.

What was your role on this project?

MW :We were involved every step of the process, guiding and supporting the team from development and kick-off through the recording and final installation.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”13971″ img_size=”large”][vc_column_text]How did you start out working on it?

MW: We started working on this show about a year before the opening of the attraction. Yaron has been working very closely on other Frozen projects since the film’s release. That made him the perfect creative and producer for this project. Then, we asked Jonathan Barr to be our local music producer. Because it’s essentially a piece of theater, you need to have an expert in music to be in the room and help the directors.

YS: Jonathan worked with show directors Françoise Baffioni and Matteo Borghi and the team on a day-to-day basis and did a really great job. Jonathan is a great musician and has been working for Disney for many years. For this specific project Matt and I recommended on Andrew Cottee (who works with John Debney and Joel McNeely on a show called The Orville). We had heard great things about him and we thought he might be perfect for the project. He has a very contemporary flavor but a very classical orchestration style. Then we matched him with another musician named Marco Paguia who is a music director on Broadway and worked on the Disney Cruise Line Frozen show. Together, they designed what would be best for each scene of our show in Paris.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”13972″ img_size=”large”][vc_column_text]How did you develop the music for the show together?

YS: It was a very close collaboration, and in the end, it’s hard to say who did this or that. It was great teamwork. We started to scout out the best moments in the film’s score and then, with some of them, we made our own edit that would fit the show and recorded it. And then, for the final installation, Jonathan worked in collaboration with mixer Stephen Morrow, who has a lot of experience to fit the music to the attraction.

That’s what’s so great about Walt Disney Imagineering: you’re really collaborating and everyone is holding on each other. You’re not just working in the studio alone and delivering. You’re creating something new and exciting together.

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”13973″ img_size=”large”][vc_column_text]How did you adapt the score to the needs of the attraction?

MW: Frozen: A Musical Invitation is an immersive theater, multi-media experience. Because of that, it does draw from all our different backgrounds: live performance theater, attraction and film. It’s one of the things that makes this job fun.

YS:  One of our first challenges was, when you first enter the room, we had to find a way to recap the movie for guests and we needed to do that without using any dialogue. So, we created this medley that encapsulates a lot of the songs in a way that’s both poignant and heroic which gets guests excited to see the show. Andrew and Marco did a great job, and the first time the show directors heard it, they got very emotional. I did, too. You’re back into the story the same way as with the montage sequence from Up. For that moment, we’re using film scoring techniques. It’s music and picture, and it’s magical.

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After that, we use music just like we do in the attractions for a seamless transition from room to room. You’re entering this special kingdom and you have to be in character the whole time. Once the show starts, it’s a live performance where we use techniques from our stage shows like Mickey and the Magician to showcase the singers.

How did you stay true to the original music?

MW: For any of our projects, like Frozen: A Musical Invitation, where we partner with our colleagues at the film studio, it’s very important for us to produce music that belongs and feels authentic to the original film. As in any other productions that we do for Disney Parks, the first step is determining what the creative needs are for that production. So, we would sit with the creative team in Paris to discuss their needs. For example, how can we take the beloved music of Frozen and re-arrange it, re-record it so that the guests have the same experience they had in the film and even take them to a higher level of immediacy and intimacy?

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Secondly, from the music standpoint, we either engage the original composers and songwriters, or we have access to not only the recordings but the scores themselves. In this case, we researched heavily the original Christophe Beck as well as the Dave Metzger orchestrations because we knew we wanted to start there as our base, they’re already fantastic. And then Jonathan Barr, Marco Paguia and Andrew Cottee began to adapt those for the needs of the show.

Were the original songwriters involved in the project?

MW: Absolutely. If we are going to experiment and take a beloved copyright from one of our writers, we make them part of the process as well. We want to make them feel as enthusiastic and excited as we are about our project. When I showed Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez the recording of Andrew Cottee and how he adapted the arrangement of “Let It Go,” bringing even more fever to the piece for this particular production, they were moved to tears. It was a beautiful experience. What Yaron and Jonathan produced with Andrew Cottee was really respectful of the original piece and felt like it belonged in that world, but also brought something new and fresh to the performance.

It seems one of the highlights of the production was recording at Abbey Road Studios in London.

MW: Being a project for France, geographically of course, London made sense. It was easy for our show directors and show producers to get there. And then you have the fantastic British musicians and the legendary recording studio of Abbey Road. Since we were going for this almost magical, ethereal quality of different moments in the score, when we were able to book Studio One at Abbey Road, the world’s largest recording space, we knew we were in for a phenomenal treat. It was great to see the directors’ and the producers’ eyes light up when they heard the music for the first time live.

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YS: To make sure that everyone knows what to expect, we work first with synthesizer mock-ups. It’s all generated by computer. And to hear the same thing you heard so many times played by real instruments is really magical. I always think of recording sessions like a holiday. You work so hard for so long and then everything comes to life. It’s very emotional for everyone in the team. Andrew Cottee did such a great job of making it very familiar but at the same time very contemporary and lively. I think that’s what we all responded to.

MW: Andrew Cottee works very closely with a gentleman named Tom Croxon who reached out to an incredible collection of demographically diverse and outstanding musicians. There was almost 70 of them. Their sight-reading abilities and their ability to bring life into the performances is what leaps out when you’re listening down in the control room.

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YS: We were able to get very specific people like a lute player and a dulcimer, which is a string instrument very close to Norwegian traditional folk music, to stay as authentic as possible to the original score. Also, the orchestra plays in a lot of Disney movies. And that’s what’s also nice when we use them. They know the cinematic sound, and they can play so many different styles. That’s one of the joys of working with them.

The music for Frozen: A Musical Invitation was produced by WDI Music Studio, which is a whole new music department at Imagineering that you created, Matt, after being Senior VP of music at the Walt Disney Studios. Can you tell me about it?

MW: Music is a rich tradition at Disney Parks. It has been an essential element from the very beginning and it’s part of our DNA. When Bob Weis, the current President of WDI, approached me and discussed the possibility of creating a music department, I jumped at the chance. To be able to take music – my background is originally in film and theater – and approach how we score the music for our experiences seemed like a perfect path to pursue. So, I created a music department selecting some of who I believe are the best music producers in the world to help me create, design, produce and install the music for our attractions, experiences and live entertainment.

The wonderful thing about having worked on film during all that time is the relationship with the talent and the experience of taking music and scoring a moment. That’s what we’re doing at Imagineering. Music is there to enhance the emotions and support the story that we’re telling. Because we’re essentially storytellers. We’ve been asked to raise the bar of the music across the globe in the parks. Every project that we take on, we approach with the goal of trying to create something unique. That’s how we approached things at Disneytoon Studios. No matter what the film, we tried to bring in the best talents and produce it with love and care and put hours and hours of energy into the production.  And I think that’s also how we work with the parks. There’s such an opportunity with music to help entertain our guests and create those unforgettable moments for them.

Also, what’s so great about creating this new music department is bringing talent that you really know as well as contemporary fresh writers like Pinar Toprak (Captain Marvel). Having John Williams come in and write fresh new themes for our Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge project was such a joy. We also recorded it at Abbey Road, this time with the London Symphony Orchestra.

YS: And it even won a Grammy!

MW: Absolutely! It’s a joy to be able to work with that level of talent from the composers, artists, musicians as well as the writers’ point of view.

Musically, what can we hope for in the future at Disneyland Paris?

MW: The level of creative investment at Disneyland Paris is incredibly exciting. I think it is a park that continues to push the envelope creatively. Regarding music, and without giving too much detail, I can’t tell you how excited I am about the future and all the plans that we have to create even more incredible experiences for our guests!

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Seasoned Artists: The Nature & Environment team

It could easily be thought that winter is a fairly quiet time for our Nature & Environment team but, quite the contrary, instead of resting on their laurels… they are busy planting them! 

 Did you know that the best time of the year to plant shrubs is when it’s cold outside? November is the ideal time for planting as it allows the roots to become established before the ground freezes. Such are the secrets of our gardeners who set out to prune shrubs one last time toward the end of the fall.    

As temperatures drop, our Cast Members renew the flower beds of our green spaces, replace the sick or aging plants and find new species to decorate our resort.  

Rhododendron, laurel, viola: you may not be familiar with those words –they refer to floral species carefully handpicked by our teams for their beauty, flowering, color and size. Just like painters with their brushes, gardeners set up flower beds and shrubs based on the project they’ve been assigned, the location and season, for a complete change of scenery.  

 For instance, the team worked throughout the night to transform our parks in honor of the Frozen Celebration: blue and orange are a must this season! 

“Even the floral decorations in windows require a great deal of thinking. The shrubs we use are just the right size so that they still allow a perfect view on the parks and shows from within.” Johann Pois, Nature & Environment Manager