The park is 20 years old this year - which reminded me that it was around 25 years ago that I bought shares in Euro Disney, as it was called then. I was convinced, aged 20, that this would be the best investment of my life. What could possibly go wrong? Disney Parks are a money machine, right? 25 years later - I would surely be rich.
As it turned out, everything went wrong. The initial investors, including me, lost the whole lot - every last Franc, Euro and Centime. Why? Well, I'm no financial analyst, but I would be willing to bet that one of the main reasons has something to do with the fact that the weather in northern France is not unlike the weather in, say, London - not that the French like to admit this, of course. That is to say, it is grey, cold and wet, for much of the year. Unlike the weather in, say Los Angeles or Florida.
|Part of the Problem|
But I don't mean to sound sour. It was huge fun, and the park is as well-designed as any Disney park, with the kind of attention to detail that makes the company such a unique organization. They even have their own train from London's St Pancras station - just like the Hogwarts Express.
|Head for platform 9 and 3/4|
The other problem Disneyland Paris has is language. Should the park signs and commentary be in French? Or in English? Obviously no-one wanted to make a decision either way on this sensitive issue because every ride is a weird compromise between the two. Not translating from one language to the other as you might expect, but rather alternating between the two, which means you really need to be biligual to figure it all out.
On the positive side, unlike in Anaheim, you can actually get a proper drink. I even saw someone drinking beer in the park, of which Walt would probably not have approved. But we had dinner at the Blue Lagoon (The Blue Bayou in LA) where we had some seriously nice food and a fantastic bottle of Provence rose. Yum. And there are way, way more nice places to eat here than in the US parks.
I also wanted to see the Magic of Animation tour because, having worked at the Animation studio in the Disney MGM Studios (as it was then) in Florida back in 1989, it made me come over all nostalgic. And I wondered what the tour would look like without a real studio attached. So imagine my surprise at seeing my old Florida kumrad Tom Bancroft introducing the park visitors to the mysteries of the animation process. There he is on the video screen below, top left.
|Tom Bancroft talks to his animated creation, Mushu|
|Tom in 1989|
|A time machine to the 1980s|
One of the many gift shops was selling cute baby Pocahontas toys bearing the legend "The Animator's Collection", which seem to have been designed by Glen Keane. So that's what they had Glen doing after Rapunzel.
|Baby Pocahontas by Glen Keane|