Yesterday saw the grand opening of "it's a small world" Celebration, the reawakened festive version of the classic Disney attraction, returning to the Disneyland Paris Christmas line-up after several years' absence.,
Alongside a full refurbishment of the ride, the two weeks of closure from 9th to 20th November saw 200 dolls redressed in brand new costumes, the addition of 150 special props and accessories and, for the first time ever, the addition of the special Christmas soundtrack, never before heard in Paris.
The Celebrations begin outside, where the whole attraction signage has been switched out for a new design of flags in red and green, dotted with snow flakes, sitting on golden yellow flagpoles.
Captured by Scrooge on Disney Magic Interactive, the exterior decoration also features dressing on the boat, a “Celebration” caption on the secondary entrance sign and an additional notice explaining that throughout our cruise we’ll see “the traditional celebrations which bring all the children together”.
And inside? First we direct you to a special interview with costuming production senior manager Hélène Hanquez on DLRP Magic.com, all about the returning overlay. Not only will you find some exclusive photographs, like that below, but it’s full of interesting details behind the overlay.
It appears it was none other than George Kalogridis, our departing operations chief, who suggested the return, with the entire project — including repairing or entirely replacing many of the old costumes — completed in just 4 months. The results, even from the few photos seen so far, are beautiful.
“There are some absolutely splendid costumes, sequinned, satiny, with an enormous amount of feathers and fabric more radiant than ever before…” — Hélène Hanquez
Though no doubt, the most exciting revelation from Hélène is the inclusion of seasonal music in the overlay for the first time. Coming from the American parks, the Small World Christmas mix features the classic Sherman Brothers theme interspersed with festive songs such as Jingle Bells — naturally, sung in several languages. A 15-minute compilation was released on the Musical History of Disneyland CD box set, and a festive mix is reportedly being played even outside the attraction, replacing the regular area loop!
All this is quite a pleasant surprise from a resort usually timid to attempt seasonal overlays of its attractions. An interesting post from a member named “RiverRogue” on magicforum might explain some of the background to the project — which appears to be distant from the Entertainment department, who usually reign over Christmas:
Well suspected; from what I’ve gathered seasonal entertainment didn’t have much to do with this year’s “Celebration”. Its project manager comes from a business-related department and was a long-time operational cast member. When he proposed the project he was given a very tight budget and in my opinion made the most of it, not least because he’s very hands-on and did a lot of things himself.
As for the graphics and music, he enlisted a friend of his (also a former operator) in the merchandise division to do the graphic design and audio mixing. The signage was then physically produced in the resort’s Central Shops while Imagineering and the audio maintenance crew installed the new music.
To see all this in action, head over to NewsDLRP for the first video.
Lights, projections, sequins, feathers, shimmering costumes and sparkly music… This might just be the Celebration to top all others. Bravo and all our greatest thanks to those who pushed for its return and worked so hard to complete it to this standard.
Though the oceans are wide and the mountains divide, you want to see Christmas in Disneyland Paris more than ever now, right?
• Read the full behind-the-scenes interview.