[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In 1965, when Disneyland celebrated its tencennial in California, Walt Disney had the will to create a legacy program named the “Disney Ambassador Program”. Since then, the tradition continues in all Disney Resorts around the world.
Walt Disney was involved in several monumental projects and was overwhelmed with requests for personal appearances and to host special guests. He decided to appoint a spokesperson to serve as the official representative of all Disneyland Cast Members.
Tour Guide Julie Reihm was selected by Walt Disney himself to serve as the first official Ambassador. The role proved to be so beneficial, the Disneyland Resort has continued to select Ambassadors ever since. At Walt Disney World, an Ambassador was in place on opening day in 1971, a tradition that has followed with subsequent park openings.
The history and importance of this program embodies Walt Disney’s legacy to share the magic of Disney with the world.
For the opening of our resort in 1992, Sabine Marcon was the first Ambassador of Disneyland Paris. Since then, two ambassadors are selected for a two-year program to represent the talent and diversity of our resort Cast Members during public, internal, media or charity events. They also are the godmothers and godfathers of the Disney VoluntEARS.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][TS-VCSC-Youtube content_youtube=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6X3MLyqlWNo&feature=youtu.be”][/vc_column][/vc_row]
On June 1, 1995, Space Mountain – De la Terre à la Lune opened its doors at Disneyland Paris.
25 years later, we are excited to give you a glimpse into the creative process that led to the creation of this unique attraction, and how it evolved over the years.
Space Mountain: From the Earth to the Stars – A conversation with the Imagineers is our first virtual masterclass. Watch and listen to some Imagineers from around the world as they discuss, from home, the creative process to bring the attraction to life. You will also learn how the original Space Mountain spurred innovation into many exciting Disney attractions around the world, and hear several personal memories along the way!
If you’re a fan of Disney Parks attractions and Walt Disney Imagineering, you don’t want to miss this up-close conversation… right at home!
The panel, recorded on May 20, includes:
- Tom Fitzgerald – Portfolio Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering
- Yves Ben Yeta – Director Creative Development, Walt Disney Imagineering
- Ann Morrow Johnson – Executive producer/Creative director, Walt Disney Imagineering
- Luc Mayrand – Portfolio Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering
What is Imagineering in a Box?
Imagineering in a Box is a free, online program available through Khan Academy and is part of Disney’s commitment to helping today’s youth create the future they imagine by providing them with inspiration and opportunity through transformative programming. Modules compile expertise of Disney Imagineers from hundreds of career disciplines
around the world to share with users of all ages.
As part of the 32 educational videos, the program leverages Disney’s expertise in science, technology, engineering, arts and math to help close the opportunity gap and set up youth for success, and allows users to create themed experiences.
What are the modules about?
The first module focuses on how Imagineers create themed lands to bring stories to life. Users are encouraged to brainstorm and design their own themed land and refine it throughout this lesson.
The art and engineering of attraction design is the second module for this series. Users design a concept for their own attraction and put their idea to the test in a ride simulator exercise.
The third lesson covers how Imagineers bring dimensional characters to life.
Users will design their own character prototype and practice animating it.
What is Walt Disney Imagineering?
Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) is the creative and engineering force that imagines, designs and builds all Disney theme parks, resorts, attractions and cruise ships worldwide, along with overseeing merchandise product development and Disney’s games and publishing businesses.
Imagineering’s unique strength comes from its diverse global team of creative and technical professionals who build on Disney’s legacy of storytelling to pioneer new forms of entertainment. As an innovation-driven business, Disney Imagineers imagine and develop immersive experiences that connect with people all over the world. Disney is
committed to helping today’s youth create the future they imagine by providing them with inspiration and opportunity through transformative programming.
What is Khan Academy?
Khan Academy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of providing a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Khan Academy’s mastery learning system and content platform includes thousands of exercises, videos, and articles that cover a range of K-12 subjects and is always free for teachers, students, parents, and learners.
More than 18 million learners use Khan Academy every month. Khan Academy relies upon donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals around the world. For more information, please visit khanacademy.org
Every year, on European Heritage Days – or Journées du Patrimoine – musems and monuments open their doors so that visitors can discover great treasures in France and in Europe. This weekend in Paris and Île-de-France, many museums, monuments, castles and other cultural places open their doors for free so that you can enjoy entertainment, guided tours and exhibitions. For the third year in a row, Disneyland Paris will participate in the event, celebrating its craftsmanship and artistic heritage virtually during a weekend-long celebration.
Disneyland Paris boasts 28 years of expertise in the field of entertainment. The creativity and meticulous work of “lmagineers” – who design Disney resorts – never cease to take our guests on a journey into completely immersive experiences.
With parades, musical shows and entertainment of all kinds, Disneyland Paris also serves as a rich and diverse stage that is reimagined over the seasons, mobilizing hundreds of artists with diverse specialties. From the rooftops of the Fuente del Oro restaurant during the Zorro show in the summer of 1993, to the stages of Central Plaza, the destination is a true open-air theater! Since the opening of Disneyland Park in 1992, more than 80 parades and cavalcades have taken place.
This year, everyone can discover online:
- A video guided tour dedicated to the cultural heritage and artistic inspirations of our theme parks, highlighting the architecture, history and local craftsmanship of Europe’s leading tourist destination through three focuses: Sleeping Beauty Castle and Discoveryland at Disneyland Park, and Place de Rémy at Walt Disney Studios Park.
- A video report on the costumes of Audio-Animatronics in our theme parks.
- A virtual exhibit offering a retrospective of fabulous stage costumes, parade floats and unpublished photographs, led by a director at the resort who will answer audience questions asked through stories on Disneyland Paris’ Instagram.
Disneyland Paris’ Heritage: Behind-the-Scenes of the Attractions
Did you know that sailors from Pirates of the Caribbean, spirits from Phantom Manor and all the stars at Disneyland Paris attractions are meticulously taken care of every day backstage? Our Audio-Animatronics and still figures require careful treatment, maintaining the magic every day for more than 28 years.
Every morning, a team of dressmakers go for a round of inspection to make sure everything is in perfect shape and take care of every costume adjustment or update that is required. They work hand-in-hand with teams from Figure Finishing and Walt Disney Imagineering to preserve the heritage of Europe’s number one tourist destination.
Which phantom requires costume adjustments? What are the new techniques to use? Are the Seven Dwarfs’ beards always impeccable? Which pirate needs a new black light painting? Find out all answers and more with this new exclusive video.
Relax and refresh your senses and immerse yourself in the beautiful landscapes of Disneyland Paris. Showcasing the talent and the works of Disneyland Paris Cast Members and Imagineers, ZEN Moments invites you to a voyage through the beauties and uniqueness of our destination, into the lands built by the imagination, creativity and talents of our teams.
As the end of 2020 edges closer, Disneyland Paris is delighted to share that it has won Europe’s Best Family Park and placed second in Europe’s Best Dark Rides, for Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, both at the European Star Awards.
Organised by Kirmes Park & Revue, the awards recognise entrepreneurship, courage and innovation within the European theme park industry.
Additionally, Disneyland Paris has also been shortlisted four times at this year’s Park World Excellence Awards. Now in its third year, the Awards identify “the very best” operators, suppliers, manufacturers and entertainment specialists from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
- Best Dark Ride or Media Based Experience: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: A New Dimension of Thrills at Walt Disney Studios Park, supplied by Walt Disney Imagineering
- Best Large Park: Disneyland Park
- Best Live Entertainment: Frozen 2: An Enchanted Journey; The Lion King: Rhythms of the Pride Lands at Disneyland Park
Winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony on 8 December. You can register to attend here.
The European Star Awards win and the Park World Excellence Awards shortlist recognise that Disneyland Paris is a place where magic comes alive and unforgettable memories are made. What sets Disneyland Paris – and every Disney Park – apart is our exceptional commitment to the ever-changing needs and interests of guests. The stories and characters from the likes of Frozen, to The Lion King, Marvel and Star Wars truly come to life here, continuing to fuel the unparalleled guest experience. Disneyland Paris has one single goal in mind: to exceed guest expectations. And despite a difficult 2020, it has remained committed to creativity and the heart of Disney’s brand DNA: innovation.
Christmas is a special time to share precious moments with the ones we love, especially at Disneyland Paris. To put us in the holiday mood, we’ve asked Imagineers and Cast Members to share their most cherished Christmas memories with us. Today we have Yves Ben Yeta, Creative Director at Walt Disney Imagineering.
When was your first Christmas at Disneyland Paris?
My very first Christmas at Disneyland Paris was in 1992. We had barely recovered from finishing the construction and opening the Park when before we knew it, we were drawn into that dreamlike holiday mode! What a wonderful memory, but I especially remember the following Christmas where we participated directly and were asked to conceive a taller and more striking tree. Its metal structure was designed in Florida and when it arrived, I was impressed by its monumental dimensions. Just to be sure and in preparation for the future, as is often done at Disney, the engineer in charge of it, made it gigantic. Today, although the tree decorations have changed, the same structure is used.
Those first Christmases at Disneyland Paris were full of emotion for me. Everything we did, or almost everything we did, was new. Like the decorations on Main Street, U.S.A. When we went to the manufacturers to tell them how much material we needed, they had a hard time believing us. I recall that the number of garlands in the Park alone, represented enough to make a round trip from Paris to Disneyland!
The luminous arches of Main Street, U.S.A. are still among the most striking decorations in the history of Disneyland Paris! Can you tell us more about them?
These Christmas arches were inspired by the Italian tradition of the “Luminari” and made here in France. The motifs were directly linked to the Christmas tree, and in particular, the patterns of the snowflakes. The tree was lit first, and then went on to the arches reaching all the way to Central Plaza, touching the Sleeping Beauty Castle. This allowed for the two ends of Main Street, U.S.A. to be linked and create a single show. It was magnificent!
Another nice Christmas project was the “It’s a Small World” Celebration.
We called it “Celebration” because we had noticed that at this time of the year almost all the people of the world celebrate light. In Winter, the days get shorter but around Christmas time, the trend is reversed. Everywhere on the planet, people light bonfires or candles to reassure themselves: It’s Diwali in India or Hanukkah in Israel. There is a bond throughout all of humanity, whether we like it or not. Everywhere we see people divided but we prefer to focus on what can connect them, unite them. It was a complicated project because we didn’t want to make any mistakes. We contacted the cultural representatives of the embassies involved and collected authentic information about the various celebrations. The Costuming department did a remarkable job in making all the dolls’ outfits according to their respective local traditions.
What moves you most about Christmas in the Parks?
During this period, I love going to the Park very early in the morning. The sunrise is absolutely heavenly. The sky is beautiful and the sun outlines the silhouettes of the buildings like you’ve never seen. These are magical moments that I enjoy capturing with photography.
And there is also a nostalgic side of me. You know, from time to time, my job leads me to walk in the Park in order to look at the scenery and the lights. But, when I come at Christmas as a guest with my family, for me, the show is no longer the decor or the lights. It is the face of my granddaughter. Looking at her reactions, the twinkle in her eyes, the lights that illuminate her face… it’s just so very moving. I see my daughter in my granddaughter – I took her to the Park for Christmas almost 30 years ago and now, she’s reliving it all again, via her own daughter! For me, it’s a moment of marvel and nostalgia…an integral part of the magic of Christmas at Disneyland Paris.
What exactly is the secret of this Christmas magic, unique to Disneyland Paris?
I will tell you a personal anecdote. Several years ago, when my son was a little boy, I was lining up with him to take a picture with Santa Claus in a shopping center. He was very excited. We were moving forward little by little and at one point, when we were almost there, he said, “Let’s go!”. I was very surprised. We had waited half an hour and I was not going to leave now. However, he insisted, “It’ s not Santa Claus! Look at his shoes”! Indeed, “Santa” had all the rest of the costume, but my small little guy had noticed that his shoes did not go with the rest. So for him, it was obvious that it wasn’t the real thing. This story explains my attention to detail when it comes to creating the magic at Disneyland Paris. It is a constant preoccupation. Magic is all those little details that change and mean everything. Case in point, we are fortunate to have a park that is particularly abundant with lights, especially Main Street, U.S.A. This is as much due to the large Christmas garlands as it is to the small lights that run along the rooftops. They are discreet and simple, but they make all the difference. There are also all our chimneys and fireplaces. With all of the fireplaces in the stores, restaurants and the chimneys on the rooftops, it was the designers’ strong desire to have as many as possible because they create a warm and friendly environment. During winter, when it’s cold and we arrive at someone’s house, we take off our coats and are offered a hot chocolate while we warm up in front of the fireplace. This is a detail, but it is also essential to bring the magic of Christmas to life.
What is your Christmas wish?
For me, it’s pretty obvious: Good health, ending this crisis as quickly as possible and returning to a normal life to enjoy the simple things. Being able to see your children, your friends, hugging your loved ones, walking in the Park… A crisis like this one teaches us that what we take for granted, what seems natural and obvious to us are in fact, not to be taken for granted. That’s why we need to refocus on what is really important. Starting with ….. Merry Christmas!
Christmas is a special time to share precious moments with the ones we love, especially at Disneyland Paris. To put us in the holiday mood, we’ve asked Imagineers and Cast Members to share their most cherished Christmas memories with us.
Today we have Emanuel Lenormand, Show Director
What was your first Christmas like at Disneyland Paris?
I was lucky enough to be there for the very first Christmas. At the time, I was Dance Captain. As part of a training program for the opening of Euro Disneyland, I was sent to Florida for six months before the opening. That’s when I discovered the meaning of a “Disney Christmas”. I was amazed: At their Magic Kingdom alone, there were two Christmas trees, plus there was one at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and another at Epcot. I fantasized about these gigantic trees that you only see in Disney Parks and all the decorations. When I came back to France, I particularly enjoyed this first Christmas at Disneyland Paris because I found all the ingredients I loved about the United States, but this time in a European context. I was amazed by the decorations on Main Street, U.S.A., and of course the tree. At the time, “La Parade de Noël” (The Christmas Parade) was presented just after “La Parade Disney” ( The Disney Parade). There was Santa’s float, snowmen and “Wreath Ladies” wearing beautiful red or green costumes and large wreaths decorated with candles. All the Disney Characters had Christmas hats and scarves. There was also the reindeer ballet – funny with their big tongues hanging out of their mouths, and 40 toy soldiers – some of who actually played drums or trumpets… A real performance!
What Christmas shows have you participated in?
I’ve participated in many shows, but I particularly remember “Mickey’s Paradise” (1995), with a performance every night and weekend on the ice rink at the Disney’s Hotel New York. There were huge reels of film on the ice and Mickey would pull out different props – Aladdin’s lamp, an umbrella or even the Sorcerer’s Apprentice hat – that would let the Genie in, Mary Poppins and Bert and Hyacinth, the hippopotamus from Fantasia. It was a very successful show.
I also remember 1997’s “Mickey et la Magie de l’Hiver” (Mickey’s Winter Wonderland) that featured several standards of the season such as “Let It Snow”, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” or “Winter Wonderland”. It was a complete show. When my brother came to see it, he told me he felt like it was a Sunday afternoon, him watching a TV cartoon of Donald Duck surrounded by the world of Christmas. We went from laughter to nostalgia in a very realistic setting. There was even an ice rink on stage! And at the end, we had a sleigh pulled by two horses from the Pony Farm arriving on stage before leaving for the mountains. It was really a great show!
What are your best memories as Show Director at Christmas time ?
My greatest memory is to have created “Mickey et le Big Band de Noël” (Mickey’s Christmas Big Band) in 2017 for Vidéopolis. It was a real challenge because we had never done this kind of thing at Disneyland Paris. Our Vice President in charge of the shows, really wanted us to have this Carnegie Hall, Broadway, tap dancing, big band type dimension. I have great memories of it. We worked with a choreographer from New York, Matt West, who did the Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast. I loved working with the musicians and the various artisans on this project. Afterwards, it was Arnaud Feredj who transposed it to the Animagique Theater where it really belongs… it was a great first!
My other baby was “Chantons Noël!” (Let’s Sing Christmas!) again, at Vidéopolis, in 2018 and 2019. This was the first show to integrate the Disney Performing Arts Program, which allows amateur ensembles to perform on Disneyland Paris’ stages. It was a particularly complex project because it involved the participation of groups from all over Europe, and despite all the logistical difficulties, we managed to put it together! The music was great. It was produced in Florida. You could really feel the spirit of Christmas a la Dicken’s, with sublime costumes designed by Disneyland Paris’ Costume Designer, Sandrine Deschamp, who also designed the costumes for “Un Noël Fantastitch” (A Merry Stitchmas) and “La Parade de Noël” (Disney’s Christmas Parade). It was a lot of fun to work on the two versions of the show: On weekends, we had choirs up to 100 people – It had a huge impact on the audience. For this version, the staging was rather sober in order to highlight these ensembles. Then, during the week, we had a version without a choir. As a result, all was a little more elaborate for the singers and the Characters. Plus, there was the magic of the video, where the lyrics of the songs could be displayed so that the audience could sing with us. It was a wonderful show: Four singers, Disney Characters and the magic was working! Christmas is Proust’s madeleine… Tunes that remind you of your parents, grandparents, family, shared memories and, our show echoed all this in a very authentic way.
Can you tell us more about the different ways of celebrating Christmas in the Entertainment shows at Disneyland Paris?
What’s great about this time of the year at Disneyland Paris is that we can offer our guests all sorts of Christmas cheer, and there’s something for everyone. We can do big band, traditional a la Dickens, and we can also find ourselves doing something more in line with pop! It is the fun side of Disney… Like in “Un Noël Fantastitch” (A Merry Stitchmas) which I created in 2017 for the Royal Castle Stage. It was a kind of “C’est Magique!” (Feel the Magic) Christmas version, full of energy, very colorful. I even insisted that Minnie sing Mariah Carey’s song, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. We made it a cabaret-style number. I had the time of my life! The first year, I also went crazy with the props. They were everywhere! But I loved it! They really help tell the stories. I like for the choreography to make sense and props really help us with that. I remember the Toy Story set, where the dancers came on stage with these big stuffed animals … Buzz, Woody, Jessie and even Mr. Potato Head. It was all very playful. As a child, when I used to go to shows, I was always attracted to details and props. It always fascinated me.
What does creating and overseeing Disneyland Paris’ Christmas festivities mean to you to?
It’s a lot of work, but for me, it’s a unique opportunity. I’ve always been a Christmas freak. When you’re a kid, you wait a long time for it and it goes by very quickly. At Disneyland Paris, Christmas starts at the beginning of November. It’s like a huge Advent Calendar of almost 50 days! As for me, I start working on it even earlier. It’s a dream come true!
Christmas is a special time to share precious moments with the ones we love, especially at Disneyland Paris. To put us in the holiday mood, we’ve asked Imagineers and Cast Members to share their most cherished Christmas memories with us. Today, we have Tracy Eck, Imagineer and Artistic Director for Disneyland Park.
What images come to mind when you think about your Christmases as a child?
As a child, our memories are always the most wonderful. During those years, I lived in Chicago. There was always snow and the houses were very decorated. My father would put up the garlands right after Thanksgiving, and then we would go as a family to buy our Chrismas tree. We would go to the forests where they grew pine trees for that very purpose. We would choose our tree and cut it down. It was extraordinary. Afterwards, we would go with a few people from the neighborhood to a chalet to sip hot chocolate. Thus, for me, Christmas reminds me of the cold weather, the snow, the Christmas tree, the smell of the tree, the decorations but most of all, it reminds me of family. We always had big family parties. We were about twenty children, not counting the aunts and cousins… In all, there must have been more than forty of us. On Christmas day, we would get together around three o’clock in the afternoon, be dressed in our new clothes and open our presents; it was very festive.
Before becoming Art Director, you were Lighting Designer for the Imagineering teams at Disneyland Paris. This is particularly important over Christmas at Disneyland Paris.
Night falls very early at this time of the year, so light is very important. At Christmas time, the various lights in the Park are lit as early as late afternoon. This luminous ambiance is already enchanting and magical during the rest of the year but during winter, we get to enjoy it even longer! It’s extraordinary to be able to walk around the Park and appreciate these magnificent lights.
Moreover, there are special extra lights for Christmas: The garlands, the colossal Christmas tree, the trees lit in the restaurants, Sleeping Beauty‘s Castle with it’s fairy-tale like lighting and the snow gleaming from the lights… All this is magical!
Do you have any special memories about the decorations and lights at Disneyland Paris?
I remember creating the current Christmas tree on Main Street, U.S.A. It was in 2013. I had recently been appointed Artistic Director and as such, I worked with the Entertainment Division on the design of this tree. We really let ourselves get into the spirit of Christmas. We went to Germany to visit stores specializing in tree decorations. Every country celebrates Christmas differently and we studied all the traditional ornaments throughout Europe : Every single one of our guests, regardless of their country of origin, can find something from their culture on our tree. Our tree’s ornaments reflect both the Victorian era which is the history of Main Street, U.S.A., and too, reflects the histories of the various European countries.
Then we completely redid the lighting with new technology and, in particular, the Christmas bulbs. They are really magical and change color. There are little lights everywhere. But let’s not forget the star at the top of the tree with lighting that is also magnificent. Everything is programmable. The tree and the lights seem to dance with the music. There’s a feeling of lightness and simplicity, meanwhile there’s huge machinery churning behind the scenes. That’s the art of what we do at Disneyland Paris.
You also worked directly for Santa Claus!
Collaborating with the Entertainment Division, we have created all kinds of sets and stagings for Santa Claus. They have a lot of skills to design, produce and install. Plus, they are used to being very fast and efficient. It’s really ideal, being able to work with them on sets for the seasons. With Show Director Emanuel Lenormand and his team, we always try to make sure that the set fits into the history of the place where it’s installed.
For a period of time, Santa settled in at the Cottonwood Creek Ranch, near the Frontierland train station. The ambiance was both traditional and western. In that spirit, we set up an old-fashioned toy workshop using bark, big burlap bags and of course, lots of toys. It was wonderful! Afterwards, Santa Claus moved to Meet Mickey Mouse. To welcome him, we totally transformed the backstage area from a magician’s loge to a real living room with a fireplace.
Christmas is also a very special time for the Cast Members.
I really am fond of our Cast Members’ Christmas parties. We get together with colleagues and our families. Such great ambiance! When our children got older, I sometimes volunteered to help out with the service, like serving drinks at the Chalet de la Marionnette or giving out candy on Main Street, U.S.A.. I really enjoy seeing children and making them happy. My best memories are with them.
I remember the time when we were working on the construction of Walt Disney Studios Park. We had a Christmas party that was absolutely unforgettable. Daytime we were on the construction site with our boots and vests and suddenly, during the evening, spruced up and well groomed, we were metamorphosed. There were even some colleagues who didn’t recognize me without the hard hat!
This year, we are living an extremely unusual Christmas season. How do you see it?
That’s a real question. Because Christmas is about being with the people you love but when it’s not physically possible, how do you do it? In other words, how do you manage to get together if you’re avoiding one another?
I worked on these questions with the Entertainment Division for last Summers’ reopening and we managed to find many solutions to protect our guests. That’s why I’m confident. Every one of us at our own level, will find a solution to be together in one way or another, while respecting the health of all.
Whatever the conditions, magic always finds a way…