Disney’s Enchanted Christmas is here! It has already been a fun-filled year at Disneyland Paris with Princesses and Pirates, FanDaze and Halloween just to name a few. Finally the seasonal titan and most festive part of the calendar is here to take over both parks.
I was lucky enough to visit DLP in what was my first experience of the Christmas period in a whopping six years. Since then the entire season has seen a revamp with a list of changes and additions to rival that of Santa’s naughty or nice one. With so much new for me to experience – and with Halloween truly wowing me just a month prior – can the Winter season live up to expectations and deliver the ultimate time to visit the resort?
As is tradition, Main Street U.S.A. has been transformed for the holiday season bringing with it all the festive cheer you would expect. On a rather controversial note the blue and silver 25th anniversary inspired decorations from last year have made a return. This includes the blue forest that now populates Town Square and the iconic garlands stretch upwards to the castle.
Many may be tired of the colour palette after 18 months of celebrations, but I love these decorations. They perfectly compliment and feel right at home in the already gorgeous land. Perhaps my ignorance from previous years has clouded my judgement, or even protected me from the rose-tinted glare yesteryear can shine onto us. Christmas time may be best known for the reds, greens and golds you most associate with this time of year (which are present, don’t get me wrong) but this minor change up still kept me firmly within the mood of the season.
Outside of Disneyland Park, our second gate has also received the holiday overlay treatment and it is a joy to behold where it has. Ever since opening Front Lot has been a zone of beauty within an ugly Walt Disney Studios Park but this Christmas it has only amplified with the subtly placed tree lights dotted around. A minor addition that adds a lot as you approach Studio 1.
From the oldest beautiful land to the newest; even Place des Remy has got the Christmas treatment and is absolutely stunning in the process. With such a heavily detailed and thematically important area, attention was carefully crafted to ensure the new decorations don’t appear too garish nor camouflage into the aesthetic. As the nights draw in quicker and the park starts to shine, this is definitely an area you want to spend time in.
A Disneyland Paris season isn’t a Disneyland Paris season without the characters. Carrying on from the Main Street decorating decisions, characters found to be meeting nearby to Town Square have returned in their silver anniversary clothing from last Christmas. Further north however is where you will find the adorable Thumper and Miss Bunny, staying more old school with their usual festive additions.
Although it is a nice final opportunity for character hunters to complete their 25th anniversary set, recycling this attire again is a perplexing one. This is doubly so as both Marie and Scrooge already possess Christmas outfits and have been known to meet donning them before.
Elsewhere in Disneyland Park you will find Santa himself has set up a houseshare as you can now meet him inside Meet Mickey Mouse. Meanwhile at Front Lot Goofy is keeping up festive appearances in his own Saint Nic getup.
Rather disappointingly, and despite what press and media photos may have you believe, neither Mickey nor his pals are meeting in their traditional festive attire save for Minnie. It seems a bit silly to me that during what is dubbed the World’s Biggest Mouse Party, the main mouse himself will only pose for photos in his standard, everyday outfit in Fantasyland.
Disney’s Christmas Parade
The staple of the modern season, Disney’s Christmas Parade for many is the highlight to their November and December trips to Disneyland Paris. If you are already aware of the parade then unfortunately there is nothing new to discover in its latest outing but that is far from a disappointment. The daytime showpiece is still a festive feast of energy and joy tied together with a sensational soundtrack to rival that of the year-round’s Stars on Parade.
Indeed given the popularity and quality of the Christmas parade I feel many would be totally okay if it fully replaced its bigger cousin during the holidays. Doing such would not only allow for the parade to run additional times throughout the day but also increase the likelihood of guests experiencing it in night-fall.
Though it was under exceptional circumstances during my visit I was very fortunate to witness Disney’s Christmas Parade twice under the lights of Disneyland Park. Watching the creative, colourful floats all lit up, with a shining castle or Christmas tree as the backdrop was definitely a standout moment this season and one that brings a whole new look to already a fantastic parade.
Mickey’s Magical Christmas Lights
You can’t have Christmas without a tree, and at Disneyland Paris that is no exception! As with every year Disneyland Park nightly invites guests to watch as the decorative foliage lights up all of Main Street to welcome in the holiday season. And much like every year too, it’s always a little different.
This year, Mickey and Minnie are invited alongside their friends as well as Santa Claus himself to help turn on the nighttime entertainment of the season. Overall the show is more or less exactly what you expect and does its job pretty well. Guests are encouraged to join in to the famous Christmas carols before snow begins to fall as part of a spellbounding finale.
One thing I love from the soundtrack is the subtle references to the old favourite Chante C’est Noel. The song itself may not be present this holiday season but its nice to hear the tune sneaked in somewhere.
One song not hard press for airtime however is “It’s a Good Time”, the official song of the World’s Biggest Mouse Party and soundtrack to Disneyland Paris’ Mickey 90 campaign. Rather bizarrely, the song makes a brief but fun appearance here as Minnie and co. make reference to the Mouse’s birthday. Whether you love or hate the inclusion is down to the individual, though should you not be a fan the jingle is over before you know it.
A Merry Stitchmas
Over on the castle stage is where you can check out Mickey and pals celebrate the holidays along with a certain blue alien in Merry Stitchmas. Returning for its second year (I think) the show is often overlooked mainly due to the already hectic parks programme this time of year. Indeed I didn’t get to watch this until several days into my visit.
With so much content already on display during the Christmas period, it would have been understandable – expected even – for a stage show like this to drop in quality. All the stops have been pulled out by Disneyland Paris as we’re treated to a great little show full of fun and music numbers. My highlight for sure was the finale piece, accompanying a Disney-fied version of the modern day classic ‘All I want for Christmas is you’.
Being completely honest though, I feel the show may have ran a little too long and could benefit by cutting the fat. The extended sequence of clockwork dancing clowns, pulled straight from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, could be entirely cut if you ask me as it failed to resonate much besides glancing to my watch. Stitch probably could have done with a little more time front and center to warrant a starring credit, too. Though enjoyable, it does give the impression more of a Mickey and friends party with some Stitch sprinkled in, rather than Stitch taking things over.
Mickey’s Christmas Big Band
As the Studios steps up its jolly festive game this year a new home has been found for Mickey’s Christmas Big Band as it returns for a second outing. Taking over Animaqiue Theatre while Mickey and the Magician remains in Winter hibernation, the huge stage is the perfect locale for a roaring 20’s, big band extraveganza with a holiday twist. The art deco inspired backdrop captures guests’ imagination as soon as they take their seats and perfectly sets the scene and mood.
Wow. What an incredible show. The jumping music, the fantastic choreographed dancers and performers, the golden age of Hollywood theme that fits Front Lot/Hollywood Boulevard like a glove. This is the perfect show and what I have always dreamed of for Walt Disney Studios Park.
The big band genre and all that comes connected to it is synonymous with the height of cinema and Christmas Big Band captures it flawlessly all the while remaining festive and seasonal. Though pairing up the likes of Goofy and co. with dapper suits and tap dancing may seem daunting at first, characters are presented just the right amount so that they aren’t missed by their fans or lamented by those there for the music.
Perhaps most impressive however are the several costume changes those singing and dancing go through, all within the period of a music interlude or two.
The quality of this show really does put it head and shoulders above everything else and easily takes top place as my highlight of Disney’s Enchanted Christmas. This type of show is so perfect for the Studios and has been executed so well I would love to see a permanent version find a home someday nearby to Front Lot and Hollywood Boulevard. Seasonal costumes and music choices could keep things fresh too depending the time of the year.
Goofy’s Incredible Christmas
The Goofster returns with his very own nighttime spectacular in the de-factor flagship entertainment of Disney’s Enchanted Christmas. Taking place on a new revamped Production Courtyard stage with the Tower of Terror as its canvas, Incredible Christmas brings guests on a heartwarming journey to meet Santa Claus and his workshop as the lovable Dingo searches for his lost letter.
With the Hollywood Tower under semi-cosmetic refurbishment to its exterior, effort has gone in to make use of the temporary smooth faces and sharp corners created from the E-Ticket’s scaffolding tarps. This necessary adaptation has proved most welcome as the result is one of the clearest, effective uses of projection mapping ever seen in Disneyland Paris. Visuals are bold and stand out magnificently with thanks to the maintenance work and guaranteed pitch black sky. The creative design of old Kris Kringle’s workshop was a particular standout for me – topped with the magical train Goofy and friends arrive on.
On the topic of characters, the show goes in heavy with them and indeed dedicates the entire stage footprint to Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and the titular Goof. Though their inclusions are certainly welcome, it’s a real shame that this fantastic new-look stage isn’t put more use during the show. Dancers are completely missing from Incredible Christmas with elves relegated to appearing only on screens in an uncanny valley pseudo reality.
Another nit-pick so to speak would be the compilation scene of classic Disney films found towards the end of the show. Though I understand the concept of a warm and fuzzy, Christmas spiriting mashup (perhaps referencing CinéMagique and its similar use of movie clips to evoke an emotion) the idea falls a little flat and detaches itself too much from the rest of the show. I think this may be down to the awkward placing of these scenes, cramped up to the top as the rest of our eyes are fixated, randomly, to a space nebula. If it were up to me I think this is a scene that could have hit the cutting room floor but even placing several scenes around the Tower at once, and on the massive stage center screen, could have improved it.
I really enjoyed Goofy’s Incredible Christmas overall. It’s a very fun, sweet show that nicely wraps up a festive filled day in Disneyland Paris. Though I may have some niggles and problems with it they don’t detour me from the overall quality of the spectacle or the exciting pyrotechnics seen through. This is easily the best show out onto the Tower of Terror so far. Trumping anything seen on event nights and Star Wars’ Galactic Celebration.
Six years on from my last Disney’s Enchanted Christmas adventure and I am blown away. The season has always been known to be somewhat of a Goliath compared to others throughout the year but 2018’s entry hulks over the competition like the majestic tree towers proudly on Main Street. While other seasons struggle to reach even a day’s worth of content, there is more than enough going on here to fill up your entire holiday.
That said this is certainly not a case of quantity over quality. From the high energy, upbeat fun of the Disney Christmas Parade to the incredible joy that is Mickey’s Big Band there is more than enough going on here to put a smile on even the scroogiest of humbugs.
Christmas at Disneyland Paris may not be flawless, but 2018 is an outstanding effort that truly has left a lasting impression on me. Should this level of seasonal goodwill and merry greatness be the norm in both parks then I won’t hesitate to return next year. It looks like I may have a new holiday tradition; Disney’s Enchanted Christmas.