Memories of Euro Disney Grand Opening Team

History isn’t only about preserving tall stories. It’s about remembering little anecdotes as well. After all, personal stories can provide us with a better and more complete view on what actually happened. That’s why in this article we give the Cast Members who helped open the Euro Disney Resort back in 1992 a forum to share their memories of the opening ceremonies with future generations of Disneyland Paris fans.

“I remember that the song ‘We Built This City’ (by the American pop rock group ‘Starship’, 1985) was being played over and over again before opening day.”

Ellie

“I worked on Main Street USA and remember standing on the roof of the ‘Cable Car Bake Shop’ during the opening festivities just watching all sorts of famous people go by. Good times!”

Amanda

“In the night of April 11/12, I was one of the Cast Members who had to sleep on site because it was feared that French farmers would block the accesses to the Park.”

Karin

“I remember working until 3 am on the evening of opening day setting up miles of barriers & rope lines out in the parking lot to cater for the millions of people who were expected to show up.”

Matt

“I worked for the Internal Communications Department of Euro Disney S.C.A. On April 12, 1992, I was at the Park making photos for the Cast Member magazine 'En Coulisse'. We had our rolls of film processed at 'Town Square Photography' to be able to collect the prints within minutes.”

Evelyne

“The grand opening events were the reward for a lot of hard work during the pre opening phase. I remember getting an autograph from Gloria Estefan. To this day, Disney was the best job I ever had!”

Catherine

“Just before the grand opening night fireworks display started, I had to block the internal roadway system close to the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ building. A bus full of Cast Members was brought to a halt and its passengers started to disembark to see the show. But we had to force them to go back on board because they didn’t realize that the smoldering rests of firework bombs would soon be raining down on them. During the display, we had to get on the roof of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ to extinguish a few small fires caused by the rockets. And the region around the Resort was hit by serious traffic jams caused by motorist trying to see the fireworks. When the show was over and after I finished my shift, I didn’t go home. I just partied all night long!”

Stephane

Mister Philippe Bourguignon.

Interview conducted by the Designing Disney Research Center Crew on April 22, 2013.
 

DD: How did you join Disney? And what positions did you hold at Euro Disney S.C.A.?

PB: I joined Disney in Glendale, California in 1988 and was responsible for the Disney Development Company Europe. As such, I was responsible for the design and development of all Euro Disney facilities outside of the theme park. I then became CEO of Euro Disney in September 1992.

From left to right: Philippe Bourguignon, Senior Vice President, Real Estate Development – John Forsgren, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer – Robert Fitzpatrick, President – Jim Cora, Executive Vice President – Fred Benckenstein, Walt Disney Imagineering – 1990.
 

DD: What was your most beautiful moment of the Grand Opening weekend?

PB: The grand opening weekend wasn’t such a beautiful moment for me. I was exhausted. We had worked day-in, day-out for the 60 days prior to the opening. I cannot remember walking more at any other period in my life. We were still rolling out the turf the night before the opening. This being said, I spared a few moments to have a one-on-one with Tina Turner. The day after the opening was great: seeing thousands of people getting into the Resort and everything was working!

DD: Do you have a funny anecdote you can share about the Grand Opening of Euro Disney?

PB: My funny story did not happen on the opening day, rather three days earlier. Me and the entire development team were celebrating the completion of the Resort in the Cheyenne Hotel. As the party was moving along, we started doing the 'Conga' (by Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine, 1985) line dance. The movement of everyone connected shoulder to shoulder created a bouncing wave and the floor began to vibrate until it collapsed under us, crashing everyone to the floor (a few centimeters) below. Nobody was hurt, but we had to scramble and rebuild the huge floor in time for the opening day three days later.
 

This article was originally published in February 2012. It is part of Designing Disney’s “DLP Twenty” series. At the occasion of the extension of the twentieth anniversary celebrations at Disneyland Paris, the article was updated in April 2013 with the addition of an interview with mister Philippe Bourguignon (former chairman and CEO of Euro Disney S.C.A., 1992 - 1997). The “Designing Disney Research Center” would like to thank mister Bourguignon for his willingness to take time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.
 

Grand Opening of Euro Disney – Press Kit

Grand Opening of Euro Disney – Accreditation Passes

Some more detailled photos of the accreditation passes.

Were you part of the Euro Disney Grand Opening Team too? If so, please get in touch! Use the comment form below to share your memories. Thank you for your cooperation!

Photos 4, 5, 6: (C) Bob Franke.
Photos 7 & 8: (C) Disney.

Shared Knowledge

Submitted by Mark T on December 29, 2013 - 02:09 #

I worked for a month before opening and 2 weeks after... (the accommodation was a little ridiculous) but have fond memories. A real coincidence was that previously I had worked at one if the 80 Club Med resorts and as a rare Englishman in the village got to know the English speaker clients well. After 6 months in Portugal I ended up at the Pizzeria Bella Notte. For the opening we had the sponsor employees visiting the park and I was serving at one of the 8 tills in the restaurant. There were circa 35,000 people in the park that day. Not only did I end up serving someone who recognized me from Club Med but also remembered my name! Very freaky as the odds of not meeting, and even if we did, not remembering, and not mentioning...! Cannot remember his name or the company, but a real star! (he remembered me!) also remember thumbing a lift with one of the CEO's from Disney from America (we were covered in mud, as the park was a building site) as he drove around on the roads backstage in his BMW. A gent giving us a lift from the work place to costuming. Remember seeing all the stars for the opening, specifically Mel Griffiths, The temptations or Four Tops, Michael J Fox, Eddie Murphy, Gina Lollibrigida (wasn't sure who she was, but looked up later...). Ended up marrying girl from adjacent restaurant (Fantasia Gelati) which lasted 5 years (we were young!)... fun times!

Submitted by Robert / Cologne on February 27, 2012 - 21:41 #

I was there and it was an amazing experience! This is how my opening day ticket looked like: http://bit.ly/yKHpwY

Comments

Submitted by Gary Lyness on February 22, 2017 - 17:29 #

I was opening crew from February 1992 to August 1992 in Guest Relations / Strollers. Amazing time especially the "unofficial" parties during the opening. Was brilliant doing crowd control down Main Street for all the opening events and being able to watch the performances and bump into celebs.

Submitted by Anja on February 22, 2017 - 01:21 #

I was part of the opening crew (Convention Center Sales team) and my memory is not sleeping much for three days in a row around this date. So much excitement and fun!

Submitted by Frédéric Labeille on September 1, 2015 - 08:37 #

I was part of the opening crew in charge of custodial!

Submitted by Vivieen on May 25, 2013 - 22:05 #

Wow thank you so much for this article!

Submitted by Manda on May 10, 2013 - 18:04 #

What a fantastic article!! I love feeling as if I'm right back there in 1992 :) I wish I could have been part of the opening team!

Submitted by alasdair cheyne on April 4, 2012 - 22:06 #

I went to work in Hurricanes as an 18 year old and was there at the opening. I stayed for 6 months and have spent the last 20 years thinking about the amazing time I had and the great people I met along the way. A magical time and an experience that I will never forget and one that I wish I could revisit!

Submitted by Maxime on February 28, 2012 - 19:58 #

Thank you for your feedback Jenny. In one of the upcoming days, I will publish (here) some detailled scans of the accreditation passes.

Submitted by jennytablina on February 28, 2012 - 16:51 #

Fantastic article, but is there anyway to enable zooming or a breakdown on those last two images? So much detail packed in there that we can't see.

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