Breaking up our Disneyland Paris experience into 8 parts, we’ll continue on to the next area of the “Lands” and the 7th part of this series of Disneyland Paris.
Today, we explore: Fantasyland!!
This is part 7 of 8
I’ve saved the best for last and Fantasyland is vast!!
Fantasyland is divided into 3 parts and this is the second.
(Links to previous parts can be found here, just click the links!)
The happiest of lands – Fantasyland!
Walt Disney once said, “What youngster has not dreamed of flying with Peter Pan over moonlit London, or tumbling into Alice’s nonsensical Wonderland? In Fantasyland, these classic stories of everyone’s youth have become realities for youngsters – of all ages – to participate in.”
The fourth Fantasyland to open was in France, at Disneyland Paris. Themed around a fairy tale village, this specifically notes the European origin of many classic Disney film’s source material.
A unique attraction for the park was ‘Les Pirouettes du Vieux Moulin’. It is a ferris wheel based on Walt Disney’s original animated film, The Old Mill.
The concept was originally projected for Disneyland in 1954, but was discarded then, only to be reconsidered and built at Disneyland Park more than 35 years later.
The ride is now retired, but still standing.
Attractions and Entertainment in Fantasyland
- Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty’s Castle)
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- “It’s a small world”
- La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty’s Gallery)
Sleeping Beauty Castle
Step into your dream chateau, where you’ll find your prince!
Discover the charm and beauty of this timeless enchanted castle situated in the heart of Disneyland Park. It’s the perfect place to ‘re-awaken’ your childhood dreams.
Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (“Sleeping Beauty Castle”) is a structure that stands at the center of the Disneyland Park at Disneyland Paris and is a continuation of a concept first seen at Disneyland in California.
The castle is home to an Audio-Animatronic dragon, which at from head to tail was the largest Animatronic figure ever built when the park opened in April of 1992.
Inside the castle, you will find the L’a Boutique du Château, a shop selling Christmas ornaments year-round and Merlin l’Enchanteur, a shop specialising in handmade glass figures.
“Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland was inspired by the Neuschwanstein Castle in Southern Germany. This European influence was fine for building a castle in Anaheim, but the fact that castles exist just down the road from Disneyland Paris challenged us to think twice about our design”. – Tony Baxter, executive designer Walt Disney Imagineering.
Since Europe is home to the castles that inspired the structures at Disney’s first three parks, Imagineering reconsidered what kind of edifice would stand at the hub of its first European theme park.
Many different concepts were created and considered, ranging from slightly modified versions of Disney’s existing castles to radically new structures to stand instead in the castle’s place.
The team eventually settled on Imagineer Tom Morris’ approach to the established Disney castle. Inspirations cited by Imagineering include illustrations from Book of Hours Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry and the Mont Saint Michel monastery in Normandy.
As Charles Perrault had not detailed the castle in his 1697 fairy tale, Imagineering had few restrictions regarding its physical appearance.
However, Walt Disney Pictures’s own 1959 film Sleeping Beauty provided the inspiration for, among other things, Le Château’s surrounding square trees.
The realization of the stained glass windows in London was overseen by Peter Chapman, who had previously worked on the restoration of Notre Dame de Paris.
Finished in 1992, Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant now stands tall at 50 metres – 160 ft.
The castle has received several overlays throughout the years. Firstly was during the 1st Anniversary in 1993. During this celebration, the castle was dressed up as a cake complete with strawberries, icing and candles.
The cake overlay was later copied by Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle for the 25th Anniversary of the resort. This cake overlay was different from the overlay in Disneyland Paris, but is of the same concept.
In 1997, it was the 5th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris.
During this celebration, Sleeping Beauty’s castle was dressed up in carnival masks, jester hats, frills and bells to promote the animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
In 2002 was the 10th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris. For this celebration, the overlay was quite basic compared to the previous ones. The front of the castle was fitted with a golden scroll displaying a large #10.
Also, the celebration saw the opening of Walt Disney Studios next door.
In 2007, the castle received another overlay, celebrating the 15th Anniversary. It featured golden Disney characters displayed on the turrets and spires, each holding a candle, and Tinkerbell on the highest spire – the candles were ‘lit’ each night during a special ‘Candlebration’ ceremony which took place on a raised temporary stage at Central Plaza, in front of the Castle.
A huge illuminated gold plaque featuring a large ’15’ was hung on the front of the Castle. This echoed the overlay that was featured for the 10th Anniversary.
The 15th overlay was to be shortly followed by Mickey’s Magical Party, a “theme year” celebration held at the park.
The castle was once again overlaid with a Mickey and Friends plaque over the main window, and the spire heads were changed from being characters to being 3 circles of ribbons representing Mickey Mouse.
A more permanent Central Plaza stage was recently built outside the castle to host the “It’s dance time… with Mickey and Friends” show, which also puts into doubt the future use of the Royal Castle Stage.
” …we dedicate Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant to both the young, and the young at heart. To those who believe when you wish upon a star, your dreams do come true”.
Michael Eisner, April 11th, 1992. The Grand Opening of Euro Disney
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Swoop and soar around the Park with your favourite elephant, Dumbo!
You’ve seen a housefly and a horse-fly, but have you ever seen an elephant fly? Young children as well as adults will get a great view of Disneyland Park as they swoop and soar with Dumbo.
“It’s a small world”
Where the world comes together in song
Take the family on this joyful musical tour of the world. Marvel as dolls of all nations sing and dance to the famous it’s a small world medley. You’ll be singing a happy song for the rest of the day.
It’s the song everyone can sing! Come on!
“It’s a Small World” is a popular interior boat cruise located in the Fantasyland area at each and every one of the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts worldwide.
The voyage features over 300 brightly costumed audio-animatronic dolls in the style of children of the world, frolicking in a spirit of international unity, and singing the attraction’s title song, which has a theme of global peace.
Voyagers aboard boats seem to enter a short tunnel through a fifteen foot cube, decorated as a toy box, under the Disneyland Glockenspiel, then emerge fifteen minutes later.
You’ll get to see many animatronic dolls dancing in traditional local costumes and singing “It’s a small world” together, each in their native language.
Boats carry voyagers in a loop as they cruise by many regions and see different countries of the world!
A Unique Small World
Everyone is different, both inside and out
The outer façade of the building at Disneyland presents stylized cutout turrets, towers, and minarets vaguely reminiscent of world landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
“Glockenspiel” is the gigantic, three-dimensional clock central feature with a smiling face that rocks back and forth with a ticking sound. The main difference on the exterior while in Disneyland Paris, is the face on the Glockenspiel.
Instead of the happy face in the clock tower, there is a face in which one side represents the sun, and the other the moon. The scenery and music are done in a different style – more ornate, more symphonic, and also, there is a separate room for North America, with dolls representing Canada and the United States.
A parade of wooden dolls in native culture costumes dance out from doors at the base of Glockenspiel to an instrumental toy soldier version of “It’s a small world” in preparation for each quarter hour, reminiscent of a Black Forrest Cuckoo Clock.
As the last doll returns into the clock, the parade doors close and the large central pair of doors open to reveal two giant toy blocks — the large block displays highly stylized numerals of the hour, the small one minutes by the quarter hour, while large and small bells toll indicating the counts of hours and quarters.
In Disneyland Paris, the attraction has quite a number of differences from the other versions of the attraction worldwide.
This version in Disneyland Paris also has a complete Middle Eastern section in which the song is sung in Arabic.
In the Finale Room, in addition to the song being sung in English, it is also sung in French and German.
A Song for the Children
“Children of the World” was actually the working title of the attraction.
Walt Disney only called it “the happiest cruise that ever sailed” and never “It’s a Small World”.
Due to it’s popularity however, the new name became official and has stuck ever since.
The attraction’s tentative soundtrack design featured each national anthem, playing all at once, which resulted in a cacophonous noise. Walt demonstrated the miniature mock-up to his staff songwriters Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman.
As both he and the Sherman Brothers discussed, Walt said, “I need one song.” a single song for the attraction which could be easily translated into many different languages and which could be played in round.
In the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, this influenced the song’s message. They first presented “It’s a small world” to Walt by singing in counterpoint while walking through the mock-up.
The Sherman Brothers first wrote the lyrics for “It’s a small world”.
And in the spirit of international unity, the song: “It’s a small world” was sung and recorded in various studios around the world – by a church choir in London, TV performers in Mexico City, a school chorus in Rome, and by local children from Tokyo and California before finally being put together.
It is said that this song is the single most performed and most widely translated song on earth. The song tune and lyrics are the only Disney creations never to be copyrighted, and can be heard worldwide on musical devices ranging from keyboard demos to ice cream trucks.
This special song remains “a gift to the children of the world” and will always hold a place deep inside our hearts.
Sleeping Beauty’s Gallery
Climb the stone steps inside the Sleeping Beauty Castle and read the fantastic story in lavishly illustrated books, rich tapestries and magnificent stained glass windows.
Also known as La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant in French.
Relive scenes from the beloved Disney classic Sleeping Beauty as you stroll through the galleries of the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Step into a Storybook
You can see a dragon here, which at 27 meters, was the largest Animatronic figure ever built when the park first opened.
The walk-through the galleries consist of a dimly lit cavern with the large dragon sleeping silently, occasionally “waking up” to puff smoke and growl.
This dragon is based on maleficent in her dragon form. This is likely as the castle has the sleeping beauty theme.
This attraction within an attraction showcases a gallery of displays which illustrate the story of Sleeping Beauty in tapestries, stained glass windows and figures.
Explore winding passageways where the tale of Princess Aurora and the evil Maleficent is told through spellbinding dioramas.
Inspired by the original Eyvind Earle artwork used in the film, the classic attraction’s fantastic 3-dimensional displays feature interactive moments and stunning special effects.
Don’t miss the climactic scene featuring Maleficent’s transformation into a fire-breathing dragon!
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Coming next up will be: Fantasyland – Part 3!
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