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An Unforgettable Stay At Disneyland Paris… No, Really

For some time, Foxx from Passport to Dreams has spun tales of the strangest Disney souvenir video she’s ever seen. And now, thanks to her valiant efforts, we can see it. From 2003, it’s Disneyland Paris: An Unforgettable Stay. In this, at least, they are completely honest.

Disneyland Paris celebrates, amazingly, its 20th anniversary this year. That puts this video, from almost a decade ago, at its 10th anniversary. The dreary and drab Walt Disney Studios Park had just recently opened, but that doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the video’s stars!

It’s hard to know where to start with a video like this, which chronicles a vaguely psychotic family – Peter Fonda, Skeletor, and their two children – on their three-day journey to Disneyland Paris. The overtly white-bread yet somehow terrifying family is of dubious origin, seeing as their dialogue is dubbed in what appear to be American accents. This is interesting to me for several reasons. For an international destination like Disneyland Paris, I guess it makes sense if you’re filming a fairly lavish promotional piece with lots of dialogue to shoot once and overdub for your various markets. Perhaps an international audience is more used to obvious dubbing than the US, and it doesn’t play quite so … cheap. Or cheesy. But what fascinates me is that they’re dubbed with people doing American accents. Disneyland Paris’s main English-language audience is the United Kingdom, and in fact this Region 0 PAL release was flagged with a Union Jack, so I wonder why they aren’t speaking with British accents.

The overall effect is jarring, and the combination of script, performances, and presentation almost makes you feel that the film was produced by aliens who had spent years monitoring our popular culture, television, and film, and really thought they could perfectly mimic a real, human family. But they don’t have it quite right, so things are just… off. It’s the uncanny valley, just starring real people.

Then there’s the fact that this is a souvenir video – one sold in the park – that manages to not only show precious little of the resort, but also has weird plugs for resort features like hotel room shipping, Fastpass, and parkhopping. For a long time I assumed this was one of those promo DVDs they sent you in the mail, but no – people paid for this. Imagine getting home, unwrapping your video, and… well..

Take a look.

And remember: People paid money for this.

There’s so much to say.

First, and obviously, it how creepy everyone’s interactions are. All the forced “call the police!!” laughter. And why are they always in physical contact with each other? No touching!!

I love how they make them this super lovey-dovey family and yet the parents are total jerks. Why do the parents laugh mockingly when they say the kid can’t have the video camera? Why the bizarre sequence where the adorable little girl gives a huge monologue about pin trading and then mom blows her off really condescendingly? In fact, mom becomes kind of horrible as the video goes on… maybe Walt Disney Studios park does that to you. Her heinous detachment grows – why won’t she take dad’s picture with the pirates?

There’s nothing you’d rather do to remember your vacation than watch a film about other people filming things. “I know – let’s show them the parks, only filmed on a vastly inferior medium!” On the other hand, hipster dad Peter Fonda presaged Instagram by a decade.

Also, what do most kids want to relive from their vacation? The rides! So on their three days in the park our family only experiences it’s a small world, the Disneyland Paris Railroad, Big Thunder Mountain, the flying carpets, the awful backstage tram at the Studios, the French version of Lights, Motors, Action, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours, and Space Mountain. Note that only five of the Disneyland park’s attractions are featured. But the family does walk down Main Street at least a dozen times – it is a nice Main Street, after all. The video may not show many rides, but by gum it’ll remind you how nice that in-room package delivery was!

If you thought this film felt eerily Belgian, you’re quite perceptive. It was produced by this company, and produced and directed by this guy, Mathias Ervyn. To his credit it’s actually really well made – superior, technically, to most stateside Disney PR offerings despite its terrifying inhabitants. And it’s rare in that it features actual music from the parks instead of weird sound-alike tracks, which is nice.

It isn’t all fun and games, though. Not only does dad make them late for their 10:30 rendezvous with Aladdin, but there’s sweeping drama when Zoe goes missing in the Emporium (which, for no reason, they refer to as “the toy store”). Here’s a question – where did her cotton candy go? Did she eat it all in that one transition?!

And there are more questions. How’d they lose Donald in the first place? What kind of dance are they doing in the Frontierland restaurant? Why does Captain Hook molest the mom like Torgo? And why is she so intensely desperate to leave breakfast for the Studios? Why are we not shown Haunted Mansion, but instead get to watch dad finish his orange juice?

Speaking of the Studios, how awful is it? I love that the whole buildup of the movie is to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, but then they make it look like a nightmarish hellscape that the father hates. Why is Aladdin lurking? And why is he so creepy? And why are the only characters they encounter Donald and Aladdin?

I don’t even know how to discuss what happens at Moteurs… Action!

Details: I love the peeling paint on Captain Hook’s ship, and I see you bass player with your earring in Frontierland.

All in all, an unforgettable stay.

Miscellaneous quotes:

  • “Can I get the videocamera to film it?” “Noooo..” “Hahaha!”
  • “Well. That is definitely a plan.”
  • “Wow! Fantastic! It’s like a whole city!” “Yeah, this is really incredible!”
  • “He’s got it upside down. Ha ha.”
  • “This is a professional vintage camera – and my films will be magnificent.”
  • “Oh yeah. You’ll see. I shall immortalize Sleeping Beauty’s Castle!”
  • “He probably just quacked up.”
  • “Kids – listen up. I read that this show has 130 animated toys, 183 accessories, and 319 dolls.”
  • “We’ll ride that one soon. But I’m getting hungry. Let’s get a FASTPASS and we’ll come back here after we eat.”
  • “Donald’s telling us he has to leave now.”
  • “Will you buy me a Minnie Mouse please?” “If you give me a kiss.”
  • “Oh, you’re right! We don’t have to carry our bags with the shopping service!” “Thank goodness for that.”
  • “Hey, you know what? More paint was used for that ride than for the Eiffel Tower.” “But this is a lot more fun, right?” “You’re right!” “Oh yeah.”
  • “Even after walking all day, I wouldn’t have missed this parade for anything in the world.” “My thoughts exactly.”
  • “Lucas, finish your breakfast. You can film more later on.”
  • “Oh hey, look kids, it’s Sulley.”
  • “He can shake three hands at once.”
  • “Oooh.. the world of cinema”
  • “It’s time to immortalize Cleopatra – she is perfect for my film”
  • “Oh, what a blast”
  • “Yes… he was sleeping. He goes to bed early and gets up late.” (What does this mean?!)
  • “Aren’t you glad Aladdin told us about this?”
  • “Can I sit next to you on the ride?” “Yeah.”
  • “This Studios Tram Tour is fun, but I can’t stop thinking about Rock N Roller Coaster. Did Aladdin say anything to you? Well?” “Just that it was the best.” “Aah.” “Well I guess Aladdin knows everything. Hmph.”
  • “What’s that? What did you say sweetie?”
  • “Well wasn’t that nice of Aladdin.”
  • “Look daddy – I can trade one of my pins for one of his.”
  • “See? I bet that’s the sequence we just filmed!” (OH REALLY???)
  • “Ah finally! Time for a little action!”
  • “Didn’t you know that ducks are chicken?”
  • “Oh I’m sorry kids – I couldn’t help it. I was so tired. You sleep so well here.”
  • “Ahh Relax. Don’t worry. They’re perfectly safe. Have fun.”
  • “Hey, take my picture with the pirates. For my office.”
  • “OK, you take them to the Blue Lagoon and I’ll get Star Tours Fastpasses. Ok, my love?” “No problem. Hey, did you take my picture? Oh, oh-oh, Julie!”
  • “I know that voice.”
  • “Aladdin told us that this ride goes really really fast.” “Aha! It really looks great!” “Oh yeah. Sounds fun.”
  • “Yeah, and we’ll be back for your birthday.” “Yes kids, at Christmas.”
  • “Hold up. Not possible. It’s over at Walt Disney Studios.”
  • “You did that to save me? Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”
  • “See you at Christmas!”

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13 comments to An Unforgettable Stay At Disneyland Paris… No, Really

  • Having recovered from the dizziness prompted by the unnecessary camera switching & weird Donald map-twirling, I really not sure what else one would expect from a souvenir video. I know all the Stacey’s Top 7 type in-room promotional videos would sell like hotcakes if they were available in our parks. Not my thing, really, but on par with what I expected.

    With that said – this video is delightfully ridiculous. My favorite part was how the girl disappears for long enough to stroll through the candy, eat an entire thing of candy floss & pick out a toy without her parents finding her in an empty Emporium. I also enjoyed how serious she is about the rules & benefits of pin trading as explained by known thief, who is sure to steal all the Hidden Mickey pins.

    I’ve been to DLP, but not the Walt Disney Studios Park (which, as I remember, only had 4 rides during my visit & wasn’t worth the time/ticket). Now that I’ve seen their RnRC, I may never make it – but if I do, I am going to insist on running around in the middle of LMA.

  • Gary

    I watched this all the way through, which, I assure you, was no small feat. There’s only so long I can laugh at it before the anger and annoyance kick in. It reminds me, at least, of why I never watch Disney promotional videos–they’re rot awful.

    I noticed how the father didn’t seem to enjoy any of the attractions and seemed put off much of the time. What’s the message there? “Come spend all your money with us and have a lousy time?” At least he slept soundly.

    Good point about the mother ignoring her children. She’s either a Stepford wife or extremely high, I think–her vacuous, unflinching grin rivaled the one on Hook’s face. Perhaps that explains his inappropriate attraction to her. (By the way, here in the States, Disney would be sued if costumed cast members behaved that way. Why would they allow something so creepy to make the final cut?)

    One thing I really have a problem with: why must they show the guests having experiences that can never happen when people actually visit the park? The dunces that buy into these videos might be disappointed when they discover that Donald won’t really stay with them all day, or they can’t actually run around the live set of the car stunt show.

    Still, if a video like this actually gets people excited about Disneyland Paris, maybe they should’ve hired the director to market John Carter.

  • Adam

    Wow. just wow.

    I think the only thing that was missing was a slow motion BLAM replay of Dad on the Rock ‘N Roller Coaster.

  • Jon

    My wife and I (from Texas) visited Europe last September, and Disneyland Paris was our first stop. It’s really amazing how popular the train ride is over there. We didn’t end up getting to ride it because we weren’t willing to wait an hour. Also, Walt Disney Studios didn’t have much to offer…

  • FigmentJedi

    It’s like “The Room” of souvenir videos. Even that conceirge guy at the beginning sounds a little Tommy Wiseau-ish.

  • BER

    Yeeeesh, this is awful.

  • ^ Haha, well said, FigmentJedi. If “Kraft Salutes” is the “Star Wars Holiday Special” of Disney, than this is definitely “The Room”.

  • Andrew Horberry

    King Louie on Main Street? Wandering free, rather than in a parade? Bad show!

  • philphoggs

    Crap we are ugly Americans after all. Rockin Roller coastin’ family unit, now that’s one sequence not to forget even if I try.

  • Nat

    This is one of the most fabulously awful things I have ever seen. Totally worth 25 minutes of my life. Assuming I don’t get their holiday parade song stuck in my head again… nope, it’s there. Dang.

  • This was so delightfully awful! I have to say the interaction was so forced and uncomfortable it had me in giggles, it’s like these people crawled out from under a rock someplace with no concept of modern day!

  • [...] – November 24th, 2012 When last we crossed the pond to visit Disneyland Paris, it was with the terrifying family featured in Disneyland Paris: An Unforgettable Stay. This time we have a much earlier souvenir [...]

  • Liz

    This is hilarious. It almost makes me wish I owned lots and lots of awful Disney promo videos! First off, this family is SO European, the American accents are just perfectly awful. They could not have planned this better, for maximum laugh enjoyment. Highlights:
    The dad is wearing a sports coat with patches, because nothing says “family fun” like that! Aladdin kissed on both checks as greeting- ha! The video camera obsession. Poor Zoe’s almost-escape from her weird clan. The way they all touch at all times, in a line – dad to mom, mom to son, son to Zoe. Zoe’s seriously unfortunate side buns. Dad’s creepy fact dropping after and during rides. The way European families completely ignore their kids just like American families – the pin trading scene. Very handy how mom has a backpack and dad has a briefcase – what could they possibly need to carry, with that amazing shopping service?! The rollercoaster scene – it’s priceless. Yes, the country music Billy Bob loving “American” family! Creepy Hook. The weird Donald love at the restaurant – both mom and Zoe were kissing him. Donald and Dad’s secret fear of roller coasters!

    I actually liked the Space Mountain scene because it looked cool to me and so different from ours, and I admit I teared up when Zoe ran up to Donald in the beginning. Creepy and weird as the whole video was, I just LOVE those scenes. A place where your kids can hug characters and it’s safe and magical? Oh that gets me every time. I also cry at Hallmark commercials, so that’s where I’m coming from.

    But the best part was your disclaimer on the YouTube video! HA!

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