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St David’s Welsh Festival underway with special day of music, costume and fireworks

Saturday, 10th March 2012 at 15:48

Disney doesn’t have a Welsh dragon in its repertoire of characters, but Mushu is only too happy to get his face on the cover of today’s special programme for St David’s Welsh Festival, a three-day event happening at Disneyland Paris this weekend. Though the festival officially runs from the 9th to 11th this year, providing the perfect weekend package for visitors from Wales, the main day of events within Disneyland Park itself is today. The programme itself is similar to previous years, though with Meet Mickey Mouse seeing the end of Fantasy Festival Stage‘s days as an actual theatre, the traditional Welsh folk choir has been displaced to the somewhat less fitting Chaparral Theatre in Frontierland.

In fact, the whole Cottonwood Creek Ranch area has been overrun by green, red and white; now the base for face painting, the Waun Ddyfal Choir and meet ‘n’ greets with Mickey and Minnie in their very exclusive Welsh folk costumes, above; a real rarity for character spotters that you’ll only see here.

At 4.30pm, before the main Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, the traditional Welsh Festival pre-parade saw Mickey and Minnie travel down Main Street, U.S.A. in the bright red fire truck, decked out with Welsh flags, daffodils and leeks. In Disney Village, the avenue is filled with wooden market stalls selling all manner of Welsh crafts and merchandise. Then, as the park closes its gates at 10pm, the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle comes alive with the special firework display to mark the occasion… albeit over a week late — St David’s Day itself always falls on 1st March.

The event is somewhat of an oddity in the annual calendar of the resort; one of only three national holidays recognised by the parks, including St Patrick’s Day and the Bastille Day fireworks, yet nowhere near as globally recognised as either as those. Falling conveniently in early March, however, it no doubt helps to fill a gap in the year, drawing in coach trips and extra custom from Wales, providing something fresh before the new Disney year in Paris traditionally begins each April.

Last year, Disneyland in California held a similar series of events at its comparable Big Thunder Ranch under the Family Fun Weekends name, with some nice branding and design work that Disneyland Paris could do well to be inspired by for its own celebration days.

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  • Love the fact that Disney recognise St Davids Day. Not many other overseas theme would do the same so hats or Welsh bonnets off to them

  • Any idea for the schedule for st paddys day as we will be visiting on the day.

  • samuelvictor  13th March 2012, 09:06

    We were there! It was great – although arguably most stuff only really happened on the Saturday, the Friday and Sunday, advertised as part of the festival in the brochure only really had the small Welsh market in Disney Village.

    You forgot to mention that there were Welsh bands (Monophonics and the flippin awesome Kane’d) in Billy Bobs.

    As you predict, there were MANY coach parties full of Welsh people, several schools etc.

    The only real complaint, (and a very valid one) is that there was NO Welsh Disney merchandise for sale. No plush Mickey/Minnie in costume, not even a Welsh festival pin badge or poster. This was particularly annoying to many Welshies, as there was plenty of Irish, English and Scottish merchandise around the parks. Seriously, we went as a family with Welsh heritage, and took 100EUR more spending money than we did to our last trip, specifically to buy Welsh Disney merchandise. There simply wasn’t any. This is particularly confusing, as the Disney Stores in England sell a Welsh mickey plush, but this was no where to be seen in the parks.

    Oh – and WHERE were the Black Cauldron (set in Wales and based on Welsh folklore) characters in the “Welsh pre-parade”?

    Not really complaining though, we had a wonderful time. Just a couple of notes for next time! ;) The fireworks were especially nice.

  • Any known reason for the connection with Wales and Ireland but seemingly not for other saints or countries?

    We were in Epcot last year and noticed the Welsh flag on the waistcoats many staff were wearing (also the UK flag) but no distinct English, Irish nor Scottish flags. Being Welsh it made us wonder why the distinction especially since the ‘nod’ to Wales in Small World is minuscule and obviously an afterthought…

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