25 magical years at Disneyland Paris

25 magical years at Disneyland Paris
Teri Hatcher attends the opening of the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris
Teri Hatcher attends the opening of the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris

A QUARTER of a century ago, the dream makers at Disney issued all of Europe with a very special invite to… ‘Be Our Guest’.

By the time Oscar winner John Legend sat down to sing the iconic Beauty and the Beast anthem at last week’s 25th anniversary celebration, over 300 million people had taken up the invitation.

It has been a roller coaster of a ride since those early days to becoming Europe’s top tourist attraction, and generations of Irish families have been along for the trip – including many lucky Sunday World readers who have won some of our great Disney giveaways over the years.

Last week the Sunday World took a ringside seat as Disneyland Paris unveiled its silver anniversary celebrations in spectacular style. In honour of the landmark, here’s our list of our favourite facts and surprises from 25 years of magic – from the early days right up to the new thrills in store for this special celebration year.

1. More than 15,000 cast members work on the site in over 500 different job classifications. More than 100 nationalities are represented and 20 languages spoken.

2. There are 100 performers in the all new Disney Stars on Parade, which is the centrepiece of each day in the park. New floats inspired for the parade weigh up to 22 tons. The dragon that battles with the Disney prince is 15 metres long and seven metres high.  Over 400 new costumes have been designed for the parade. The turtle swimming above a majestic float has a span of 5.7 meters

3. The upgraded Star Wars ‘Star Tours’ attraction now has 70 different adventures so guests can enjoy a new one each time they ride. Our first trip took us to the capital city Coruscant on a white-knuckle speeder ride – our second on an underwater encounter with Jar Jar Binks on Naboo! Other worlds to visit include Hoth, Tatooine, Jakku and the Death Star.

4. Star Tours combines state-of-the-art technology, flight simulators, digital 3D and fabulous Audio-Animatronic characters into one incredible experience.

5. Disneyland Paris is Europe’s number one tourist destination, with 300 million visitors since April 12, 1992.

6. The park has generated an estimated €70 billion for the French economy.

7. Over one million flowers are planted every year and the site has 35,000 trees.

8. Brides can now have the ultimate fairy tale wedding in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, followed by a reception in the 5-Star Disneyland Hotel – for the princely sum of €55,000.

9. There are seven themed hotels with 5,800 rooms, 59 attractions, 63 shops and 55 restaurants, as well as a 27-hole golf course.

10. All eight famous Disney princesses star in a new 25th anniversary celebration addition, the Starlit Princess Waltz: Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, Rapunzel and Tiana.

11. The Crystal Castle stage weighs five tonnes and is lit by 1,100 LEDs.

12. The new night  show, Disney Illuminations, is one of the most spectacular ever staged in the park and for the first time features live action movies as well as animation being beamed on to the backdrop of Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

13. Over 22 months was spent upgrading hotels and adding new dimensions to attractions and rides for the 25th birthday year.

14. The Space Mountain roller coaster is set to re-open later this year as a brand new Star Wars themed ‘hyperspace’ ride.

15. Another beloved attraction getting a makeover for 2017 will be the Pirates of the Caribbean, which inspired the hit movie franchise. It is 50 years old this year.

16. Minnie Mouse, who is a favourite for selfie hunting guests, has a wardrobe of over 150 dresses at the park.

17. The eight spectacular floats in Disney Stars on Parade are based on themes inspired by conversations with guests asking them what the Disney stories mean to them: Magic. Friendship. Adventure. Imagination. New Worlds. Enchantment. Romance.  Wonder.

18. The official colour theme for Disney’s 25th anniversary year is blue with silver sparkles.

19. Mickey Mouse is the guide through 25 years of Disney and Pixar classics in the breathtaking new Disney Illuminations show. It features scenes from the Lion King, Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Frozen.

20. Bob Geldof and Paula Yates were among the first celebrity guests to enjoy the park at its grand opening in 1992.

21. Other famous celebrity fans down the years include Elton John, Claudia Schiffer, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Ronaldo , Lionel Messi, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Beyonce, George Bush, Sylvester Stallone, Tina Turner, Natalie Portman, our own Vogue Williams and Michael Jackson – who carved his name in his hotel room, where it’s still on show!

22. Elton John performed a concert at the park as part of his 1995 Space Mountain Tour.

23. The final stage of the 1994 Tour de France started from Disneyland Paris to the Champs Élysées.

24. ‘My Mickey Ears’, a collection of individual customised Mickey Mouse ears, were designed in 2009 by some of the world’s leading fashion designers. The collection was then auctioned to benefit local charities.

25. There are four different versions of Big Thunder Mountain in four Disney parks worldwide –Paris, California, Florida and Tokyo. However, the version at Disneyland Paris is the fastest, tallest and longest of them all.

Book tickets to Disneyland Paris in advance through Attraction Tickets Direct. Call free on 1800 927 467 or visit www.attractionticketsdirect.ie

· 1-Day / 2-Park Hopper ticket – priced from €53 per adult and €48 per child (low season / mid-week prices)

·  2-Day / 2-Park Hopper ticket – priced at €120 per adult and €107 per child (can be used on any two days within 12 months)

· 3-Day / 2-Park Hopper ticket – priced at €150 per adult and €136 per child (can be used on any three days within 12 months)

· 4-Day / 2-Park Hopper ticket – priced at €183 per adult and €165 per child (can be used on any four days within 12 months)