England rugby team make headlines for Disneyland

Friday, 5th October 2007 at 00:45

ImageThe England rugby team visited Disneyland Resort Paris last Saturday, taking a day off with their families following victory against Tonga and giving some generous free headlines to the resort. If watching matches in the Sports Bar seems exciting, imagine a real-life Jonny Wilkinson strolling down Main Street...,

Disneyland Resort Paris has a long and interesting history of sporting star appearances in Disneyland Park. From the several Tour de France events to Michael Schumacher’s unforgettable “test drive” along Main Street in a Formula 1 car. With 2007’s Rugby World Cup hosted by France, the chance has arisen once again for a little more good publicity.

The South Africa team visited Disneyland Park only a few weeks ago, as reported by the official 15th Anniversary blog, with some rather more local sporting giants quick to follow this weekend…

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The players who visited the park with their families posed for photos at an organised shoot in front of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, however the usual welcome from Mickey Mouse apparently wasn’t given — a mouse next to rugby players may not have been the ideal match, afterall. Disney’s best opponent for the team was instead the Beast, Belle by his side. (Just don’t tell the team they’re French.)

The visit couldn’t have come at a better time for Disneyland, providing an interesting story for the newspapers as they reported the previous Friday’s win against Tonga early this week. As if guaranteeing the park’s mention in reports about the team, their ride on Big Thunder Mountain turned out to be a little different to most, as The Sun reported:

Rugby squad left high and try

THE England rugby squad got stuck up a ROLLERCOASTER when they celebrated a victory at Disneyland Paris.

Players went to the theme park after beating Tonga.

But the Thunder Mountain ride ground to a halt for 15 minutes halfway up a climb.Ace Jonny Wilkinson said: ‘I was convinced it was just designed to scare us. We intend that to be the last technical hitch at this World Cup.’

A Disneyland spokesman said: ‘We stopped the ride to let them board. That caused it to go out-of-sync so we had to do safety checks.’

It was The Times this Monday which gave the most amount of coverage to the squad’s Disneyland visit, however, going so far as to fill half of the newspaper’s back page with a photo of players on Big Thunder Mountain.

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Inside, a column written by player Jonny Wilkinson himself gives more details about the visit (with a surprising enthusiasm for the park, from a rugby player) and another large photo. The Big Thunder Mountain technical problems are also explained:

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“That brief lull on Saturday was spent at EuroDisney, which the boys — wives and kids on board — really enjoyed, and the irrepressible Lewis Moody so enjoying himself that we weren’t sure if the rest he took was because of sheer exhaustion or a recurrence of the headache sustained in action against Tonga the night before.

“The most memorable moment, though, was when we had a large number of the England team, plus assorted family members, all sitting on a rollercoaster that got stuck halfway up a climb. I was convinced this was just an element of a typical fairground ride designed to scare us, although, after about 15 minutes of sitting there, I had to concede that mayber there was a more deep-seated problem after all.

“On getting back to the ground, we were amused to learn that this was actually our fault and that we had loaded up too slowly. Suffice to say, we intent that to be the last technical hitch in our side at this World Cup.”

Overall, an excellent week of publicity for the resort in the British press. The only downside to these features in The Times was the use of ‘EuroDisney’ rather than ‘Disneyland Resort Paris’, but then the chances of finding a DLRP fan who’s also a sports journalist are probably close to zero, right?

Photos/pages from The Times and DailyMail.co.uk

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