The French version of the American cartoon park boasts two unusual live performance arenas not previously seen at other Disney locations. Tony Gottelier and Julian Williams report.
While the French appear to have swallowed MacDonalds haunch, rind and burger, a fact which this francophile finds particularly affreux, there are signs that they find Euro-Disney less digestible. Les Francais see this plastic jungle in Marne le Vallee, probably correctly, as symbol of cultural imperialism. Why they don't see the Big Mac in the same vein, especially with their renowned cuisine and the availability of far superior 'le fast food' from any Charcutier in any high street anywhere in the country, is a mystery to me. Why they have left it 50 late in this reaction is also beyond my comprehension, except perhaps that they were happy to take the dollars at the time. Similarly, isn't it amazing that Disney chose France in the first place, in view of its renowned xenophobia. And in the wetlands of la belle France! And on the most expensive air route on the continent! So many miscalculations make one wonder whether Disney executives had mislaid their marbles. Nevertheless, the fact that commercially the site is proving less good than expected, doesn't take away from the technical achievements which have gone into the making of this candyfloss Camelot.
Two areas of particular note, and not just because of UK involvement, are both ambitious live performance spaces not previously seen at Disney sites and noteworthy for that reason if nothing else. One is an amalgam of AV, disco lights, intelligent luminaires and audio, as well as generic stage lighting, sponsored by Philips, and called Videopolis. The other, based on Buffalo Bill Cody's travelling show which reached Paris in 1902, the eponymously titled *Wild West Show is illumineered by British wiz Andrew Bridge and Howard Eaton Lighting.