Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary Review: Disney Stars on Parade
We haven’t had a brand new parade in Disneyland Paris since the Once Upon A Dream Parade in 2007. Yes we had Disney’s Magic on Parade in 2012, but bar the song, it was more of an iterative change than a new parade. So getting a brand new parade, with all new floats and all new music was a big thing, and with that came much expectation.
We had some idea of what to expect from the Disneyland Paris My Sparking 25th, which saw vloggers go backstage as the floats were designed and built. But we never saw a completed float, we only saw a couple, and we saw none of the characters or performers, nor the special effects. A small low clip quality of the parade music was leaked but I didn’t listen, nor did I watch the rehearsal video that somehow made its way online a few days before the launch weekend. I know there are many people who love to see and watch everything they can before visiting, but I’m the opposite, and like to keep as spoiler free as possible.
After a day that was already ranking up there as one of the best ever, for reasons you’ll read about in future articles, it came to 5 o’clock and time for Disney Stars on Parade, as we waited patiently in front of the Castle Stage. As a side note I was stood about 10 feet to the left of actress Teri Hatcher, but it was neither the time nor the place to tell her how much I used to love watching her in Lois & Clark, as much as I wanted to.
Disney Stars on Parade Float 1 – Discover the Magic
From a distance I could see Mickey and Minnie up high, and even from far away I could make out their steampunk costumes, and with the huge storybook above them, the true scale of these floats was starting to hit home. As they got nearer and eventually went past me, I was blown away by the design of both the costumes and the floats. The hats in particular are all so exquisite, and especially Mickey’s top hat with goggles. Mickey himself actually peddles, while Minnie sits back and relaxes. Mickey Mouse – ever the gentleman. Just when you think it can’t get any better we have Donald and Daisy looking fabulous and then Goofy appears in your eye line, and he’s wearing a copper jet pack. That’s not even the best thing, because actual smoke comes out of it!
The second part of this first float has Chip and Dale in the most adorable hats and their huge telescope. It’s all about the head wear I’m telling you! Poor Pluto has no hat, but he does have a sparkling new collar and a big 25th Anniversary medallion. He also sits on a seat that rotates, meaning he can swing around and interact with guests on both sides of the parade route. As first floats go, Discover the Magic is quite magnificent, and was a letter of intention of what to expect from the rest of Disney Stars on Parade.
Disney Stars on Parade Float 2 – Discover Friendship
Buzz Lightyear in a space rocket, sat atop a giant Pixar ball, which itself is on a cosmic stand. That’s not even close to being the most impressive part of the Discover Friendship float. We were promised an oversized truck in which Andy has placed all his toys, and while that is true, it’s the Wheel of Destiny (what a cool name!) that steals the show of this float, and maybe the whole parade? Seeing the two performers running around inside the wheels, while they themselves are rotating up to bewildering heights is a sight to behold. They performers had two months training for this and lots of Cast Members wanted these roles according to the creative gurus behind the parade.
The Wheel of Destiny is so mesmerising that you have to look again to realise that Woody is at the front and Jessie on the back. It’s not often the characters aren’t the focus, but for me, while they were very much appreciated, it’s that Wheel of Destiny that wowed me at the time and still has he me in amazement even back home, 4 days later.
Disney Stars on Parade Float 3 – Discover Adventure
The height of these floats is personified by Discover Adventure, with a beautifully carved Lion King emblem which reaches up into the skies, surrounded by birds. Below that we have a very young Simba, I think. My knowledge of The Lion King isn’t the best, but as the main character I just assumed it was him – maybe it’s his son Kion or his daughter Kiara? He or she is stationary but with a head that moves around, unlike Rafiki who moves around all over and in very dramatic fashion at times.
I saw the parade from the same side every time, so I never saw King Louie on the other side, which brings me to other film represented on this third float – Jungle Book. The guy on the back has Kaa coiled around him, and my first thought was that it looks like Fred Flintstone. This makes little sense and when a friend told me it was Mowgli it all became clear – I’m just not used to seeing a grown up Mowgli! This is probably my least favourite proper float of Disney Stars on Parade. It’s not that I don’t like it, I just find it the least impressive among an array of incredible designs.
Disney Stars on Parade Float 4 – Discover Imagination
Seeing Skull Rock coming down the parade route towards me was a truly magical moment, given that it’s one of my absolute favourite areas of Disneyland Paris, and is also featured so superbly in the recently renovated Peter Pan’s Flight. Smee is sat timidly at the front but Captain Hook is on top, with the swagger and sneer we have come to expect. He too can rotate, almost perilously, so that everyone watching on gets a taste of this mustachioed villain.
Peter Pan and two of his Lost Boys are the second part of Discover Imagination, as they stand inside a wooden frame pirate ship which swings forward and back, in between the two halves of a crescent moon. It certainly grabs your attention and I especially like it when Hook turns to face them and he and Pan have words!
Disney Stars on Parade Float 5 – Discover A New World
No, this fifth float has absolutely nothing to do with Aladdin as I initially thought when I saw the name Discover A New World. Instead we have an almost impossibly big Crush from Finding Nemo, which is actually a massive animatronic. Designer Olivier Dusautoir was in constant contact with Pixar and made 90 models of Crush before both sides were 100% happy. Yes that’s NINTY models! Never underestimate the work that goes into making these spectacles, and on seeing the lifelike movement of Crush’s neck and mouth you’ll agree it was all worth it.
Around Crush are several smaller turtles, fish and other characters from the franchise, while Nemo, Marlin and Dory are represented as smaller models held aloft on poles by the dancing performers. It almost seems sad that these huge characters aren’t given a bigger presence, but Crush is such a marvel that I think all can be forgiven. There’s also bubbles, and everything is made better with bubbles.
Disney Stars on Parade Float 6 – Discover Enchantment
Prince Philip is on the ground fighting with some pretty evil looking nasties while Aurora is dancing with the three fairies, and occasionally checking on her man. But lets get on to the main event, the incredible (photos and videos don’t her justice) steampunk Maleficent dragon. We knew she was coming and we even had a photo released officially by Disneyland Paris weeks before the parade debuted, but nothing can prepare you for her size and majesty in real life.
The design is deliciously intricate, with copper and purple colours that adorn the stunningly stitched together clockwork masterpiece. It’s such a treat to see so many moving parts and inside the belly of the beast. The way she walks is a thing of beauty, as is the movement her of her wings. Then there’s the fire, which until two days before the parade debut was going swimmingly, then gremlins came into play. We still got fire, but for safety reasons only in certain places, as was always the intention, like at the end of the parade route. It’s not a big bellowing yellow flame like in America, but a more reddy orange flame which is more modest in size. Whether this will always be the way I couldn’t say, but the colours certainly match the steampunk theme and it’s still very dramatic when she opens her mouth and out it fires. A lot is made of the fire breathing element, but with everything else you almost don’t need it, that’s not to say I want it to disappear completely.
Disney Stars on Parade Float 7 – Discover Romance
This is the only part that isn’t a new float, or any float at all actually. A proper Princess float may still be to come, should hints from the parade designers come to fruition. Rapunzel and Flynn, Beauty and Human Beast and Cinderella and Charming get horse drawn carriages, whilst the rest have to make do with dancing around on foot. This at least brings them closer to the guests – so there’s a silver lining right there.
Disney Stars on Parade Float 8 – Discover Wonder
Frozen is still wildly popular the world over so it shouldn’t come as surprise that it gets its own float, and is the parade finale. Kristoff comes before the float and interacts with as many people as possible. As another aside, when I saw it he was cast to absolute perfection – like straight from the screen to the parade. Then comes Olaf astride Sven, and for the first time outside of a VIP event we have arguably the most popular Disney character of recent years as a proper waving character in Disneyland Paris. Sven looks like a huge Disney Traditions figurine, pulling along a sleigh…
Anna and Elsa, in said Sleigh, have the freedom, like many other in Disney Stars on Parade, to move around from side to side. So once again, no matter what where you watch the parade from, you’ll see both sisters from Arandale and be in with a good chance of a wave or even a kiss blown in your direction. The sleigh is themed to match Elsa’s ice castle, and with that comes the last touch of magic, as snow comes billowing out the back, and quite literally covers those following behind.
Disney Stars on Parade – The Verdict
The one thing that does puzzle me is that I can’t remember the music. This may be for two reasons: 1) the music changes with each float to integrate music and sounds for that theme, another thing that makes Disney Stars on Parade so great and different from that which preceded it. I do remember singing along and I also remember thinking the new music was perfect for the atmosphere created and dancing was an almost involuntary reaction. 2) It’s such a visual spectacle that I think I was concentrating more on the visuals than the audio. Now that’s not taking anything away from the music, it’s just that to look at Disney Stars on Parade is an almost unparalleled experience.
I came away from Disney Stars on Parade declaring it to be the best parade I’d ever seen in Disneyland Paris, which after witnessing The Disney Villains’ Halloween Celebration parade is saying something. It really is like nothing we’ve ever seen before and has so much going on and so much movement that you have to see it multiple times to take it all in, and will see new things every time you watch it. I haven’t even mentioned the plethora of performers and characters that come in between floats and were absolutely brilliant, you’ll just have to discover them for yourself. The parade music fits it perfectly, don’t take my failing memory as a negative on the actual parade. Disney Stars on Parade is an experience beyond our wildest dreams and is the jewel in the Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary crown.