Thursday, April 12, 2012

Making of: Disneyland Paris

Today is Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary and I figured what better time to show you a wonderful video of the beautiful castle and Main Street being constructed then now. I'd also like to talk a little about the resorts lead designer, Imagineer Tony Baxter. Continue after the page break and lets have a look...

As I have stated before, I am a huge fan of Disney construction photos and footage. Today I present to you the construction footage of Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle and Main Street. Before the park could be constructed however, there needed to be a design and a designer. That is were popular Imagineer Tony Baxter comes in. Tony was the lead designer of the park. He was instantly attracted to the idea of a Disney theme park in Europe and as rumors spread that the Mouse was looking into it Baxter immediately jumped at the chance to work on the project. Tony explains...
"I had gone to management at the onset when I heard they were discussing doing something in Europe. Even at that time, we hadn’t decided whether it was Spain or Paris [during preliminary planning stages, more than 1,000 sites were considered before the vetting process whittled it down to two possible locations in Spain and two in France] and I said I would love to be involved with that. I’ve contributed to parks around the world and I said I would like to lead the effort to make the next one the best of all that we’ve done ... put the best features of all of the Disney parks then add some new twists to it.”

A big "new twist" was turning the usual entrance to the park from a ticket center and turnstiles to a hotel. Baxter continues...

“The hotel at the main gate, that was clearly an outgrowth of noticing how much effort was spent in the sense of arrival at a lot of the classic destinations throughout Europe. If you go to Versailles or the Louvre or any of the great castles, half the experience is just the breathtaking arrival and view of the entrance. It’s almost like you’re so overwhelmed by how beautiful it is that the whole thought of giving an admission is like a gift.That’s an emotional thing, it’s a feeling rather than a concrete absolute, and so I have to hand it to Michael Eisner and Frank Wells [Disney’s top executives at the time]. They went along with us and allowed us to change the front gate. In Paris, when you step off the train to come in from the parking lot, you’re in the most beautiful garden on the entire property, with fountains and this gorgeous hotel with a courtyard. The ticketing is done in a very discreet way underneath the entrance to that hotel.”

After Disneyland Paris opened on April 12, 1992, it suffered a few growing pains. As the Disney Company learned from its mistakes it changed certain aspects to make it more appealing to European tourists. These changes included adding more outdoor dining venues, using more recognizable European stars to do attraction voice overs, getting rid of the the Euro Disneyland name in favor of Disneyland Paris, and making Space Mountain more unique to the resort until slowly, the park’s fortunes were reversed and attendance grew. Today Disneyland Paris is not only one of the most beautiful Disney parks in the world but also the most popular tourist destination in Europe.

Here is the construction footage of Sleeping Beauty Castle and Main Street:

Disneyland Paris Openning Day April 12, 1992:

Disney Avenue would like to congratulate Disneyland Paris on 20 magical years!!!

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