Way back when, it was the tradition for every new Disney theme park – or even major attraction! – to get a big opening special. Euro Disneyland was no exception; it got its ballyhooed stateside debut when The Grand Opening of Euro Disney aired on CBS on April 11th, 1992.
This particular special is not one of the better offerings even in the often-rocky post-Walt television canon; perhaps as some odd harbinger of Euro Disney’s woes, it’s stilted and odd and kind of uncomfortable. It’s hosted, for some reason, by Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, who despite being married at the time don’t seem to like each other very much. They’re not natural hosts, either, and Griffith’s seeming attempts to emulate a first-generation audio-animatronic makes one actually miss Kelly Ripa.
The special is so uninteresting, in fact, that we at Progress City never really revisited it as kids, despite playing our recordings of other contemporary parades and specials to the point of absurdity.
One interesting bit, though, comes towards the end of the special when Johnson and Griffith describe the attractions that are slated to soon debut at Euro Disney. These are the famous lost attractions designed for Fantasyland – a ride based on The Little Mermaid and the animatronic show based on Beauty and the Beast. Despite being designed and announced for the park, they were never built (although a computer-generated simulation of the Mermaid attraction was created for that film’s “Platinum” DVD release). Ariel and her friends have yet to make it to Paris; dark rides based on her adventures is currently under construction in California and Orlando.
The other big project mentioned in the Grand Opening is the Disney-MGM Studios Europe, then intended to open in 1995. This would be Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s attempt to build a second version of this concept after the Disney-MGM Studios opened in Orlando in 1989. Eisner was determined to make this park idea a global franchise; his other efforts would include the Disney-MGM Studios Backlot intended for Burbank and the Disney-MGM Studios Tokyo that he tried to push on the Oriental Land Company as Tokyo Disney Resort’s second gate.
None of those concepts would see the light of day, but a pared down version of the Studios concept would debut in Paris at the Walt Disney Studios park in 2002.
Take a look at the future that was, presented by the effervescent Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson!