BWW Blog: Living in a “Franglais” World - Bilingual Shows at Disneyland Paris
Let's start this article off by stating the obvious - I'm a Disney nerd. While studying abroad for the past two years, I lived only an hour away from Disneyland Paris, so I was able to visit the parks quite frequently on weekends and days off from university. During my time at the theme park, I had the opportunity to see how the French Disney differs from the American Disney with many interesting experiences along the way. One of the most important distinctions is the fact that France's main language is French
As there are many guests visiting from English-speaking places in the world like the United States and the United Kingdom, Disneyland Paris has the task of making sure that they have entertainment that can be understood by both French-speaking and English-speaking guests. While some shows are simply done at different times in French and English, other forms of entertainment have combined both languages that create an interesting bilingual experience for both guests and Cast Members alike. In this article, I'm going to take a look at a few different forms of entertainment like stage shows, parades, and a firework show to see how the two languages are used.
Mickey and the Magician
"Mickey and the Magician" is known as one of the best (if not the best) stage shows at Disneyland Paris. Located at the Animagique Theater at Walt Disney Studios Park, the show stars familiar magical Disney characters like Tinkerbell from Peter Pan, the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella, the Genie from Aladdin, and even Queen Elsa from Frozen! The story follows Mickey Mouse, a young apprentice who wishes to be a great magician and his adventures while cleaning up a real magician's attic. Through magic tricks and fun songs, "Mickey and the Magician" is the perfect show for all ages.
In order to allow the majority of guests to understand what is happening, the songs are all performed in English. Dialogue is split between French and English, with one character usually stating something in one language while the other character repeats it in the other language as a question to make sure all of the guests are on the same page. And a bonus - They have a sign language interpreter at some shows to include even more guests in the magic! Along with dialogue and singing the show also has wonderful choreography that draws guests in and makes them want to dance in their seats along with the performers!
Disney's Stars on Parade
There are very few parades at Disneyland Paris, and as parades are some of my favorites shows in theme parks, I make sure to see "Disney's Stars on Parade" in the Disneyland park nearly every time I go. The parade was created for the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris in 2017 and has been wowing guests for the past three years with its fresh choreography and incredible floats.
The parade uses both French and English versions of famous Disney songs, along with the parade's main song, "Lost in the Magic", which is sung in both French and English with simple lyrics for everyone to follow. Characters interact with guests along the parade route in both French and English, allowing everyone to have a magical moment. There are also plenty of simple instrumental moments that enable guests of all nationalities to come together and party!
Animation Celebration - Frozen: A Musical Invitation
As one of the newer shows, "Animation Celebration - Frozen: A Musical Invitation" uses new technology to create an interactive performance with guests and performers, both human and magical! The story is quite simple, making it easy for all ages to understand - Kristoff and Anna are taking the guests to the North Mountain in order to surprise Elsa at her ice palace. Guests can join Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Sven, and even Olaf in the two settings of Sven's stable and Elsa's ice palace.
Like "Mickey and the Magician", the musical performance has songs from Frozen in English and back-and-forth dialogue in both French and English. While sometimes the French accents make the English parts difficult to understand, one could probably get the gist of the story without understanding any of the dialogue. Another important part of the story is that Anna and Kristoff help the guests learn a small dance to "Let it Go", making everyone feel connected through movement with some of their favorite characters.
Festival of Pirates and Princesses
As one of my favorite seasons, I made sure that I never missed the Festival of Pirates and Princesses - Make Your Choice! celebration. While the season was unfortunately discontinued after its 2019 season, the main star of the season, the parade, is still one of the most beloved shows from any Disneyland Paris season. Guests make a choice between Team Pirates and Team Princesses and fight for their favorite, having a dance-off in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle while watching the floats go by.
When listening to how the celebration was created, I was especially interested in how they tackled the language barrier. The "Pirates and Princesses" song (also known as "Make Your Choice!") is in English, but the two MCs of the competition, Betty Rose and Jimmy Ocean, speak and rap in French, allowing both English-speakers and French-speakers to join in the fun. Along with the music, there are also two simple dances for each team, crossing over all language barriers to allow everyone to dance along with pirates and princesses depending on their choice.
No trip to Disney is complete without a firework show at the end! Disneyland Paris has the "Spectacularly Sparkly Disney Illuminations Show" presented at the closing of each park day, projected onto the Sleeping Beauty Castle. Fountains, pyrotechnics, projections, and of course, beautiful music all make up this incredible spectacular performed nightly.
What makes "Illuminations" special is that it has a mix of songs in both English and French. Songs like "The Circle of Life" from The Lion King and "How Does A Moment Last Forever" from Beauty and the Beast are in English, while songs like "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid and "Let it Go" from Frozen are in French. Mickey, the main character projected onto the castle who falls into stories from different Disney movies, tends to usually just say things like "Oh!" and other interjections, allowing everyone to understand him.
In conclusion, Disneyland Paris does a fantastic job of incorporating both English and French into its different spectacles, ranging from stage shows to elaborate parades. As a frequent visitor, it is always wonderful to see guests from all around the world come together for magical moments, especially when it is their first time visiting the two parks! I certainly miss Disneyland Paris and cannot wait to go back someday to experience being in the "Franglais" world of song and dance.