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Worlds Apart 4 - Disney's Cinema Parade

Friday, June 13, 2008

Over the last three weeks, I've taken a look at the story of the Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Resort Paris. Last week, I left you in Spring 2002, when the park first opened to the public. Today and in the next two articles, I'm going to start to bring you back to the present day by looking at how the park has developed and changed since the opening day.

One thing you may have noticed to be missing from the opening day articles is something a lot of us associate with part of the magic of Disney's theme parks: the daily Parade. When the park opened, the parade designed for the park wasn't ready to run, so it opened without one. However, a few months after opening on June 1st 2002, the park's parade finally - yet quietly - debuted. Disney's Cinema Parade is made up of nine brand new floats and was designed specifically for the new park. The route takes the parade from the Backlot area right across the park to the Animation Courtyard, taking it right through the middle of the park. As with all parades at the Paris resort, it starts with a multi-lingual announcement:

"Mesdames et Messieurs et vous les enfants;
Meine Damen und Herren, liebe kinder;
Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls;
Walt Disney Studios;
Et heureux de vous présenter;
Ist stolz Ihnen zu präsentieren;
Proudly presents;
Disney's Cinema Parade!"

The parade itself starts with Tinkerbell sitting atop a large camera (curiously shaped like a hidden Mickey). Of course, Peter Pan isn't far behind, and can be seen flying along inside the camera. Later on in the parade's life at the park, an extra float was added to the beginning of the parade that contained characters from recent Disney productions, such as Chicken Little, Brother Bear or Ratatouille.

Following Tinkerbell and Peter Pan is Minnie and her dressing-room styled float, complete with revolving mirrors. Minnie was usually on her own on this float, accompanied only with a small selection of costumes that she might wear in her many starring roles at the Studios.

Various characters from the Lion King follow Minnie. The float is themed to the script book for The Lion King with various characters "popping" out of the book. Rafiki holds up a baby Simba, and Timone greets his fans with a smile and a wave. Inside the book, an adult Simba roars from the top of Pride Rock, whilst cast members in various animal themed costumes dance around the float.

So now that we've got our camera, our costumes and our script, it's time to get the show rolling! The next stage in our production is the good old Clapperboard. Pinocchio and friends are "hanging" around here, with Gepetto and Jiminy lending a hand.

The cast of 101 Dalmatians are next up and can be found running round some film reels. Of course, where the Dalmatians are, Cruela DeVil can't be far away. She can usually be seen keeping an eye on the crowds.

Mary Poppins and Bert follow with the film now in the can. Mary sits atop a carousel horse, while Bert does a merry dance around the float. And of course, what's a production without a director? Keen to join in the fun, Donald is our director and takes his seat with a larger-than-life megaphone.

Well now that all that is out of the way, the film is complete. Woody and Buzz help out with the final filmstrip and bring with them a colourful array of toys before leaving us with the grand finale: the Cinema itself. With all that excitement that's already gone past, you may have noticed that there was one person who hasn't made an appearance yet. Mickey serves as the parade's finale on a float that's themed to a small cinema. Some guests may even be picked to take a ride on this float to watch the film with Mickey and his helpers!

The parade originally contained some short stops, where the floats would stop in the middle of the street, and guests would be asked to help the characters to take a break in their production and join in the dancing to a song called "Lights! Camera! Action!". This was taken out of the parade in 2004 but reinstated in 2006 until the parade ended its run.

In early 2008, the parade made its final trip through the park. Throughout the years, some elements of the parade had changed slightly, some props were taken out, the number of costumed cast went down slightly and some minor characters were dropped. For the final performance, all the park pulled out all the stops and performed the parade with as many of the original elements reinstated as they could. Some costumes that hadn't been seen for a while were once again allowed to take the trip, albeit for the final time, through the park. Since that day, the park hasn't run a daily parade.

But it doesn't end there for the Studios Park's parades. The cars of Disney's Stars and Motorcars Parade as previously used at Disney's Hollywood Studios were transported to Paris and are currently sitting in parade warehouse at Walt Disney Studios Paris. No official announcement has been made, other than quick mentions of the parade moving to Paris in some Imagineer interviews, and rumours are spreading of the parade starting rehearsals and soft openings in late 2008 for a debut in early 2009. All current Disneyland Paris brochures and websites make no mention of a parade in the park, and all references to Disney's Cinema Parade have been removed.

So what will become of Disney's Cinema Parade now? Right now only Mickey and some of his helpers know. Some photographs leaked by a Cast Member at the resort on a forum show the floats sitting side by side with those from Disney's Stars and Motorcars Parade, however until any official announcements are made, it's anybody's guess.

On the subject of parades at Walt Disney Studios Park, at a press event for the launch of the Pixar Play Parade at Disney's California Adventure, one Imagineer did note that where Block Party Bash was designed with the intention of it being moved to Disney's Hollywood Studios at the end of it's run in California, the Pixar Play Parade was designed with the intention of it moving to Paris after it's run at Disney's California Adventure. Of course, we all know that Disney can change its mind with no notice whatsoever, so this may be best left until the time comes.

So there you have it. Next time, I'll be taking a look at how the studios evolved in recent years, and its expansion in 2007, where a whole new land made its home at the Studios, and a popular thrill attraction from other Disney theme parks finally made its way to Europe.