Festival Disney is sanitized Honky-Tonk, a distillation of commercial Americana. Offered to Euro Disney visitors as a glimpse of the genuine American way of life, this 183,000-square-foot entertainment center includes a saloon, a discotheque, shops, and not-too-expensive restaurants that purport to be typical of Key West, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. At a 1950s-style diner, waitresses roller-skate right up to your table, and a nightly reincarnation of Buffalo Bill's 1883 Wild West Show plays as crowd bait. Bringing the Far West to life at a dinner theater that seats 1,000 are 25 actors and 50 animals (horses, bison, and longhorn cattle). In the vicinity of the vast barn that houses the show, one can actually smell the animals, making this particular sequence of the Euro Disney dream feel almost like a real place. Given the variety of these cultural and regional references, architect Frank Gehry was not asked to "theme" Festival Disney, and the complex is certainly the better for it. Had a theme been requested, Gehry would probably have refused. "I try to rid myself," the architect once said, "of the burden of culture." More fortunate than Michael Graves, Robert Stern, and Antoine Predock, who were required to serve up grandiose simulacra of various lost American settings, Gehry simply turned to his own collected works and resurrected his fish and whale forms, his eccentric geometries, his vibrant color palette, and his mastery of abstraction. He left the design of the interiors and signage to others. The architect of the American Center in Paris and the new Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles is certainly a showman in his own right, worthy of Euro Disney. His entertainment center cannot be missed. It is built within a gird of 66-foot-high towers sheathed in a diagonally striped pattern of ruby and silver quilted stainless steel that powerfully signals the building's presence. The towers conceal an outdoor sound system and support a web of tiny lights that create a dazzling canopy in the night sky. Given the hype that exalts Michael Eisner as a patron of architecture, it is incredible that, so far, Frank Gehry has produced the only genuinely contemporary set of buildings in all of Euro Disney.
Credits [see page 117] Design Architect: Frank O. Gehry & Associates, Santa Monica, California – Frank O. Gehry (design principal); Robert G. Hale (managing principal); Vincent L. Snyder (project designer); Bruce Biesman-Simons (project architect); Andrew Alper, Gaelle Breton, Michael Sant, Marc Salette (design team) Architect of Record: Saubot et Julien Architects, Paris – Jean Rouit, Marc Rozo, Jean Luc Bichet, Jean Christope Salvan, Nathalie Bessec (design team) Engineers: O.T.E. Ingenierie (structural); INEX Ingenierie (mechanical); BETEC (electrical) Consultants: Bruce Mau Design (graphics); Morris Nathanson Design (exterior signage/food & beverage interiors), Brand & Allen Associates (retail interiors) Construction Managert: Bovis