StarWars

Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration – Meet the Producer and Stage Manager

Both grandiose and totally immersive, Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration – which returned on January 11 at Walt Disney Studios Park, benefits from a unique stage at the foot of the Tower of Terror and impressive technical effects. We learned more about this original production from the producer of the show, Marie-Charlotte Bientz and the stage manager, Michael Mulato.

Marie-Charlotte, Michael, how did you come to work on the show?

Marie Charlotte: I joined the company 12 years ago now. I had studied show production at university and Disneyland Paris was my work-study company during my Masters. I was fortunate to be hired as a production assistant thereafter and have grown from there to my current position. ​Disney Dreams! was the first show I worked on when I joined the production trade. This is where I met Michael. And following this experience, I was asked to participate in the development of the production infrastructure for Production Courtyard, as well as in ​Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration which uses video production like ​Disney Dreams!

Michael: As for me, I arrived at Disneyland Paris fifteen years ago in attractions, then the parades department where I accompanied Disney characters and guided floats. Two years later, I became assistant stage manager. Between 2007 and 2017, I participated in most of the destination’s shows. Then I became stage manager for productions such as ​Bienvenue à la Belle Saison (2014), ​La Garden Party de Dingo (2016) and Disney Dreams! I became a general stage manager almost three years ago for seasons like Christmas, Halloween and the first Pirates & Princesses Festival, and I’ve been stage manager of the Production Courtyard stage at the foot of the Tower of Terror for over a year now. I take care of all the shows that take place there like ​#Surprise Mickey​, ​Legends of the Force​ and ​Marvel Season of Super Heroes​.

Michael, what is your job on this particular show?

Michael: I am the operational manager of everything that happens. Once the show is in operation, that is to say after the production phase piloted by Marie-Charlotte, I direct all the trades working on it, with the help of my team of stage managers, to coordinate the whole show.

Can you tell us more about this very special stage?

Marie Charlotte: We created it to present shows for seasons and special events at Walt Disney Studios Park, so it has to be very flexible. LED screens are a very important technical element as they allow shows to be played day and night. We only had one main screen to start, but now we have three to really immerse our guests and we added two new scenes with their own screen, courtyard and garden as we say in show business. All of them can play simultaneously, both in panning and individually, which we do a lot in ​Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration.

How do you use “mapping” and sound to immerse guests in the show?

Marie Charlotte: The Tower of Terror is the tallest building at Disneyland Paris, with a mapping surface for projection that is quite unique. Technology has come a long way in the four years since Disney Dreams! started and this show has benefitted from those advances.

Michael: We have 17 video projectors, including 16 in “quadrial”, that is to say that we have four video projectors projecting the same image on a given area which allows more power and light for an even more spectacular rendering. With a large, flat surface, we can project several important scenes at the same time on several areas of the Tower. That final projector is used to dress the rest of Production Courtyard to immerse visitors even more in our story. Visitors do not just face the show, they are truly immersed in the adventure. This goes beyond projection to sound too.

Marie Charlotte: What’s also unique about this stage is the 360-degree sound, not only from the front but from a system of diffusion in 7.1 distributed all around the space that allows us to create particularly immersive effects. For example, when a ship is projected on the Tower of Terror, you have the sound of its engine all over the place like it is passing just above you.

The show combines many different means of expression. How is it all synchronized?

Michael: Everything is coordinated by a “time code” – a kind of very precise stopwatch – and all of the effects whether video, lasers or pyrotechnics are programmed from this count.

Marie Charlotte: And this time code is guided by music. Audio is the conductor of all of our shows. Natalia Beliaeva, the director of the show, stages characters and images from movement and from music. And music flows from video, lasers, light and pyrotechnics. We were particularly attentive to the way of combining all these elements around the music. It is all the more important that the score of John Williams is very, very rich. The magic of this show is to carry the audience in a movement, to give them the impression, while being static, of flying towards this distant galaxy.

How did you work with the show directors?

Marie Charlotte: Our goal in production is to make the dreams of our directors come true and to give them the skills to go even further than they imagined. In ​Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration​, this manifests itself particularly in terms of interactions with droids. The director’s wish to have some of the familiar droids influence the stage design. We were able to expand his vision to welcome C-3PO, R2-D2 and BB-8 for a droid sequence even more important than it was at the start.

How has the show changed since 2017?

Marie Charlotte: The creation of this unique stage has certainly brought the show to a new level, and the scenic deployment has made this even more immersive. We have more space, more possibilities for characters to interact with guests, more screens to broadcast more images. And then, each new episode brings its share of novelties. And this year, we’ve integrated a tribute to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to close the saga in our own way.

How are reactions of the audience a source of inspiration for you?

Marie Charlotte: It is extremely important to us how our guests and fans react to the show. When we are lucky enough to have a season like this, which comes back from one year to the next, we listen to those audiences to improve ourselves and to fulfill the dreams of fans.

Michael: We spend weeks or even months in meetings and especially in rehearsals to see and review the show every night. But on the premiere day, it’s not the show I’m watching anymore, but the audience. This is a very strong moment that we look forward to.

What is your favorite moment from this Galactic Celebration?

Marie Charlotte: I’d say the arrival of Darth Vader. He comes out of the shadows and we just see his saber lighting up in the dark before he reveals himself to us. Iconically, it’s very strong. The whole character is there, reinforced by his images on The Tower of Terror. I also think of Darth Maul and his incredible acrobatics. He is alone on stage; his speech is very short and yet it is a very strong moment of the show.

Michael: For me, it’s the opening with the credits from Star Wars. I remember the first time I saw this show. I was still working on ​Disney Dreams!,​ but I was lucky enough to see it before everyone else. I had no idea what was going to happen. I was chatting with a colleague when all of a sudden the first chords rang out and I got chills. In an instant, I realized that something special was going to happen. I also love the finale, with all the characters on stage and the lyrics “May The Force be with you … always!” It’s a moment that transports me!

This show is the work of an entire team. Can you tell us about the human aspect?

Michael: We are about 40 people daily for video, lights, special effects, sound, control room. We have a very close-knit team here. Whether production or management, we are happy to meet every year for this production.

Marie Charlotte: If we talk about the overall show implementation, we easily go up to about 200 people. Each of us has a special attachment to Star Wars characters and stories. For my part, it was my dad who made me discover this universe. He was in the United States when the very first film was released in 1977, and he passed on his passion to me when I was a little girl. We all have a story with Star Wars. It’s an additional bond that unites us.

Château

Disneyland Paris celebrates the 2020 Pièces Jaunes campaign welcoming 300 children from the Fondation Hôpitaux de Paris – Hôpitaux de France

Chairwoman of the Fondation Hôpitaux de Paris – Hôpitaux de France Brigitte Macron and Godfather of the 2020 Pièces Jaunes campaign Didier Deschamps joined Disneyland Paris President Natacha Rafalski along with the children and their families for an unforgettable day at the resort. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”13937″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today, Disneyland Paris welcomed 300 children and their families from 18 hospitals and establishments supported by the Fondation Hôpitaux de Paris – Hôpitaux de France in celebration of the 2020 Pièces Jaunes campaign, reaffirming its longstanding commitment to the campaign and the foundation.

Over the past 27 years, Disneyland Paris has worked with the foundation on its well-known campaign, contributing in a variety of ways including the traditional coin donations from Cast Members, the donation of coins tossed by guests into fountains throughout the resort, and visiting children in many of the hospitals with Disney VoluntEARS and Disney characters.

Unprecedented for this year, children from various French hospitals were able to put their worries aside for the day and be part of the magic at Disneyland Paris for a special day-long event with Brigitte Macron, Chairwoman of the Fondation Hôpitaux de Paris – Hôpitaux de France and Didier Deschamps, Godfather of the 2020 Pièces Jaunes campaign.

The children were among some of the first to see the brand-new Frozen Celebration, starring Anna, Elsa and Olaf and featuring some of the music from the hit film. They also had a chance to ride a few of their favorite attractions like Big Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight and Autopia. Disney VoluntEARS – Cast Members who volunteer their time and expertise to participate in charity actions by the company – also led workshops where the children could let their imaginations run wild in designing the hospital of tomorrow while also painting giant Disney-themed frescos to be hung on the walls of the hospital pediatric wards.

The magical visit continued with a private concert in the heart of Disneyland Park with special performances by Vianney, Joyce Jonathan, Kendji Girac, Christophe Maé, Boulevard des Airs and Claudio Capéo. At the end of the show, the artists met with the children for an autograph signing and photo session before joining Mickey and Minnie.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”13938″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“Disneyland Paris has been a partner of the Pièces Jaunes campaign for 27 years. Today, we celebrate that longstanding collaboration,” said Natacha Rafalski, President of Disneyland Paris. “Bringing joy and magic to children and their families is a fundamental mission of ours, and we are proud to work with the Foundation Hôpitaux de Paris – Hôpitaux de France to bring a little Disney magic to a child’s day.”[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Disney VoluntEARS: Bringing Magic To Those Who Need It Most

Since 1991, more than 40,000 hospitalized children have had the support of the Disney VoluntEARS of Disneyland Paris. Throughout the year in 2020, Disney VoluntEARS will continue accompanying the foundation to pediatric wards to bring smiles to hospitalized children.

Disneyland Paris works with hospitals and non-profits to spread Disney magic. In 2019, the company supported more than 1,500 community outreach actions with more than 100 European non-profits, including onsite daytime events at the resort, wishes granted to children and Disney VoluntEARS visits to medical centers. Other volunteer actions include nature excursions and activities with children to help preserve the environment and promote awareness of biodiversity among future generations.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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.

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]