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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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!”
Mister Philippe Bourguignon (former chairman and CEO of Euro Disney S.C.A., 1992 - 1997).
Interview conducted by Designing Disney on April 22, 2013.
Designinf Disney (DD): How did you join Disney? And what positions did you hold at Euro Disney S.C.A.?
Philippe Bourguignon (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.
“Designing Disney” 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.