It may seem crazy to believe, but another year is already over. 2018 has almost reached its closing time as we speedily approach the annual turnstile, welcoming us into 2019.
For Disneyland Paris, it really has been a massive year and one that will shape the entire resort for years to come. From brand new seasons to unlikely fan favourites. Exclusive events to enormous announcements. So much has went on in the past 12 months it can be difficult to keep track of it all.
After giving this plenty of thought throughout the year I have finally been able to compile a list of my own top 10 highlights of Disneyland Paris’ 2018. I was very fortunate in that I was able to visit the resort several times to see things in a whole manner of different seasons as well as attending several special parties open to guests.
I must stress however before I begin this is a purely subjective list based on my own tastes and opinions. You may find something you loved from this year not even ranked and that’s okay. It could be because I never got the opportunity to experience it or it simply failed to capture the same admiration for me like it did others. I’m sure my opinions will vastly vary to everybody else’s so I would love to see everyone give their own top 10 moments, too. Hit me up over on Twitter and let’s get a conversation going!
And now, let’s begin.
10. February snow at Disneyland Paris
This may seem like an odd one to begin my list, but it certainly was a standout moment of my year. The opening week of February this year saw Disneyland Paris experience winter weather unlike any I had ever seen. Snow fell faster than it was physically able to shovel away and temperatures dropped to a literally freezing -10C.
Photos that came out of the resort at the time were certainly pretty – but as someone who was there to experience it – the reality wasn’t as fun. On top of the cold conditions making it impossible to do anything without wearing several layers, the snow obviously brought practical obstructions to Disneyland Paris. Virtually every outdoor attraction was temporarily closed, add to that any sort of stage performance.
So why is this my 10th best moment of the year? It’s all down to the Cast Members. In these conditions, many of the resort’s employees were left stranded unable to arrive to work. Those who could however never stopped to ensure that the resort was firstly safe for guests to experience and a fun and enjoyable experience for all.
Everywhere a looked I saw Cast Members working their hardest, clearing snow off pavements, informing guests of developments or going the extra mile to put a smile on our faces. I’m still amazed that on one day, where the snow was at its more ferocious and coldest, Disney Stars on Parade was able still run in some form.
We often praise Cast Members for their hard work, and very rightly so. Seeing so many however battling the elements on those days, and doing it with a smile on their face, that was true Disney magic.
9. Mickey 90 Mouse Party Annual Pass night
My final trip of the year to Disneyland Paris saw with it the last Annual Pass night of 2018. A brand new concept still in relative infancy, these themed nights promise to give us unique experiences exclusive for AP passholders. Although I was only in attendance to two of the four on offer this year, the Mickey 90 Mouse Party was a clear standout from the bunch.
The so far only Annual Pass night held within Disneyland Park, the party was an energetic, retro throwback bash that kept the vibrant, bizarre but fun atmosphere all throughout the night. While it may have had some problems with its guest flow and crowd management, the unique shows and return of an old favourite are the longer lasting memories of the night.
For a more in-depth look, I recommend you check out my recent review of the Mickey 90 Mouse Party.
8. Marvel Summer of Super Heroes
This summer saw the Parisian debut of many iconic Marvel heroes in the Marvel Summer of Super Heroes. Highlighting the entire peak period from June until September, the season in Walt Disney Studios Park saw Production Courtyard transform into a proto Marvel land with billboards, a new stage and giant statues featuring some of the most popular comic book and movie stars.
The season also saw the launch of two entirely original shows and the Guardians of the Galaxy dance-off from the States. The summer season may have lacked in certain areas, and reliability on one of the shows was questionable, but I still had a ton of fun jumping into one of my favourite fictional universes while on a Disney holiday. Standing in Production Courtyard on a warm July day, wearing your Infinity Gauntlet sipper whilst the theme to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. rings out around you. It doesn’t get much better for a Marvel fan.
7. Marvel Signature Dinner
As part of Marvel Summer of Super Heroes came the Marvel Signature Dinner, a premium meal and character dining experience at the Manhattan Restaurant in Hotel New York. In addition to an all you can eat buffet covering three courses guests were given the opportunity to meet Captain America, Thor and Black Widow.
I was not the biggest fan of the food on offer I will admit, but the characters and meeting system made up for it. Marvel has always been a franchise and series built around its characters so being able to meet three iconic Avengers was a highlight of the entire season for me. It also quickly became one of the funniest and best character meets I think I have ever had.
Once you have taken your seat and either before or after your food, you are invited by a cast member to then go meet the Marvel super heroes in attendance. This system completely bypasses the tight, clumsy table and chair shuffle that plagues other character dining experiences as well as ensuring time can be appropriately spent on your food. This was a perfect system for the Marvel Signature Dinner and one I still believe should be adopted elsewhere in Disneyland Paris.
With details still vague on the eateries of Hotel New York’s Marvel retheme, this is an experience I feel should definitely return in 2020 with permanent residency.
6. The World’s Biggest Mouse Party
2018 may be the year that brought us superhero titans and – at last – an end to the 25th anniversary, but it was also a certain Mouse’s big birthday. From October right up the new year Disneyland Paris has been celebrating Mickey’s 90th with the World’s Biggest Mouse Party. Though not a full blown seasonal event per say, this mini-season fits alongside and even joins in with Halloween and Christmas respectively.
From the creatively quirky Cupcake girls to that amazing song, Mickey’s 90th has been loud, vibrant and completely fun from start to finish. If I had to choose a highlight however it would absolutely be the amazing Mickey Mouse celebratory pre-show seen before Disney Illuminations. With every viewing I had the biggest smile on my face and filled me with the same emotions and wonder a certain Dreams! once did. It’s rare that a pre-show can outshine the main feature but here it certainly does.
5. Disney Loves Jazz
Two years ago Disney fans were introduced to a brand new way of listening to their favourite classic songs in the form of Jazz Loves Disney. A jazz album filled with some of the biggest movie hits but in a funky, saxophone lead way.
With the popularity that came from this album and its follow-up, excitement quickly built as a Jazz themed event was planned for Disneyland Paris. Placing venue in Walt Disney Studios Park and making full use of the retro, 20th century themes of Front Lot, Hollywood Boulevard and Place des Remy, Disney Loves Jazz was a completely unique but fascinating new way to spend an evening at DLP.
From the sweet beats and rang out from the live musical performances to meeting theme specific characters (including my personal favourite Oswald. Disney Loves Jazz was certainly one of the best nights I had all year. The true highlight however was the Jazz Loves Disney concert. A full hour and a half of greatest hits from the album, with some new variations too, by some of the best names in jazz.
If you’re looking for something a little different from the norm but still within the magic of Disneyland Paris, I definitely recommend Disney Loves Jazz. Especially as it will be back for 2019!
4. Mickey’s Christmas Big Band
From the soul of jazz to the swing of big band, what a year has this been for good music! Returning for its second incarnation but this time in the Studios was Mickey’s Christmas Big Band. A live band performed mini concert hosted and complimented by Mickey and his pals.
I’ve already waxed lyrical about this show in my Christmas 2018 review, but suffice to say I adored it. The use of Animagique Theatre and backdrop made it the perfect locale for Walt Disney Studios Park and its theme, the music was superb and fun with characters sprinkled strategically as to not feel overwhelming or forgotten.
Indeed, Mickey’s Christmas Big Band left such a lasting impression on me I would love if a permanent iteration of theme was to somehow come to the Studios. The unanimous positive feedback from the show too makes me believe a version that ran all year round – with seasonally appropriate changes when necessary – would be a big success.
3. Disney FanDaze – The Inaugural Party
It was probably the biggest night of the year of Disneyland Paris, there was no way FanDaze wasn’t going to appear on my top 10.
Announced and teased nearly a full year before the actual event in June, Disney FanDaze promised to be a party with the Disneyland Paris fan at the center. While everybody had their own experiences of the night, I personal feel its goal was definitely met.
The night was a ‘Who’s Who’s’ of rare Disney characters for attendees to meet including the world debut of Oswald’s beloved Ortensia. It also saw the so far one time only runs of three exclusive made shows, each of which were dazzling in their own right.
It is unknown as of right now if a sequel to the Inaugural Party will come in 2019. As someone who had a blast in its first outing however I certainly hope there will be more opportunities to ‘be a fan’.
2. Mickey’s Halloween Celebration
After taking a hiatus the previous year, the DLP favourite Halloween cavalcade made a triumphant return to the parade route this Halloween, and came with it additions to change that way we watch it forever.
All of the classic features of the parade remained from the bright, autumnal colours to that unforgettable song. Brand new for the harvest party however was the addition of Mickey’s Illusion Manor; a fourth float inspired by none other than Phantom Manor. Along with it came a haunted bride and groom as well as the main Mouse himself, transforming his costume as he danced around the float.
The true standout however was when Mickey’s Halloween Celebration reached Central Plaza. Taking inspiration from the massively successful Pirates & Princesses, Halloween played host to another show stop that was nothing short of wonderful.
The new cast and costumes brought a spookier element to the cavalcade while still keeping in the general colour scheme of oranges and greens. The choreography was expertly performed and that song… what a song! Halloween may already be a season known for its excellent songs but ‘Great Big Year’ is an added treat that stands toe to toe with the best of them.
I have always been a massive fan of Halloween at Disneyland Paris, and Mickey’s Halloween Celebration will always be one of my favourite parades. The new improvements have only cemented my love for the parade making it easily my highlight moment of the year while inside Disneyland Paris.
1. Walt Disney Studios expansion announcement
It could only ever be this. The news that not only changed every Disneyland Paris fans’ outlook for the year but ushers in an entirely new era to the resort we all love so much.
If you’ve gotten this far in my list, chances are you’re already well aware of the Walt Disney Studios Park expansion. The €2 billion investment that will see full themed, immersive zones for Marvel, Star Wars and Frozen come to the second gate – as well as a huge lake and placemaking – within the next six years.
The story broke from out of nowhere, taking every DLP fan by surprise when we saw it appear on the official account feeds. After years and years of information being leaked and rumourtalk dictating the future of the resort this was such a breath of fresh air. Partner that with the now iconic concept art revealed to boot.
On the topic of the concept art… wow. It is a thing of beauty in so many ways. The glorious North Mountain already tipped as the next park icon right at the peak of the map, confirmation that Marvel will full replace Backlot and so much room for even further expansion. There were even some subtle surprised hidden away like the inclusion of Alien Swirling Saucers in Toy Story Playland.
Walt Disney Studios Park’s expansion announcement may not have been something that happened within Disneyland Paris itself. It wasn’t a show or special event or something you can buy merchandise of. But it was a moment that for me defined the entire year of the resort. A moment that has paved the way for a future all of us simply cannot wait for and at last will see DLP’s second gate fulfill its true potential.
Just like when The Walt Disney Company announced their intention to build a resort near to the French capital all the way back in 1985, this announcement will be one to last the ages. Years from now, as we stand before that giant lake, with Frozen, Star Wars and Marvel lands all around us, we will think back to that February day. The day Walt Disney Studios Park changed forever.
And so, we depart from this year and look forward to what Disneyland Paris has to offer in 2019. I for one am certainly excited for what the next 12 months has in store for the resort and should it be anything like this previous year we will be in for such a treat.
Happy New Year!