FanDaze inaugural party at Disneyland Paris review

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Hey guys!

I know I still have some stuff from previous trips to write about for you all, I promise I will get to it and they won't be missed, this was just such a good event that I'm too impatient to wait to write about! Thank you for all being so patient with me!

June 2nd 2018 saw Disneyland Paris hold its first ever FanDaze party, this was an exclusive ticketed event held in the Walt Disney studios park from 8pm until 2:30 am! When this was originally announced it was stated that it would be a night to remember and would feature over 80 Disney characters as well as new shows and parades, and even panels with imagineers. The packages went on sale in January, and though there was some discontent with the prices and packages on offer, plenty of us decided to book our stay.

I ended up with a classic package, which I split with 4 friends to bring down the cost. We upgraded from the standard Santa Fe room offer, to a Golden forest room at Sequoia lodge and paid around £1300 in total for the 4 of us. The classic package included one night at a Disney hotel, park tickets for 2 days, the FanDaze party ticket and then a PhotoPass+, lanyard and pin. As an annual pass holder, I could have done without the majority of the stuff included in the package, the PhotoPass+ was of no use to me, as were the park tickets. The lanyard and pin were a nice touch, but neither were nice enough in my opinion for me to have wanted to splash any extra cash on them! If I booked for this event in future, I would probably look to book an on-site room with AP discount and a party ticket separately to this, I probably wouldn't opt for a club level room either, as I didn't use many of the extra benefits!

In addition to the classic package I paid £25 to attend the Duffy and friends panel, which was held on the night of the party in the art of animation building. Because there was so much content covered during the panel, I will write up my experience of this and what I learnt separately!

The run up to the event was, in my opinion, not handled particularly well by Disneyland Paris. We went a long time with no concrete information about what we had bought into, though I didn't expect a full programme of time and locations until the week of the event, it would have been nice to have more of an idea what was lined up before the last minute. I personally believe this hindered ticket sales, as people weren't prepared to pay out such a large amount of money for a package or hotel stay without knowing what they were going to be able to experience on the night. Once the program and further details had come out, it was so close to the event that a lot of the hotels were either fully booked, or operating on peak prices, and the same for travel, which meant last minute ticket sales were probably effected too. Finally I feel that the event could have been marketed outside of the core fan base, running a print campaign or a tv slot would have brought additional guests to the event.

Now onto the party itself. We arrived at the studios at around 7 pm, we were travelling with someone who had an easy access pass, so we're invited to queue separately from package holders, unfortunately once the lines were moving and we got to the turnstiles, one of our group was told she couldn't use her paper ticket and was sent elsewhere. This information turned out to be wrong and she was soon sent back with the same paper ticket that had been previously refused. This issue isn't specifically related to this event, but did cost extra time which was frustrating.

Once we got into front lot, the doors for studio one hadn't yet opened, this wasn't an issue as such as none of the meets or anything had started yet, but it just caused a build up of penned in guests with nothing to do. To add to this, there were a number of odd "camera people" I assume they were there for some kind of "streetmosphere" but honestly, they were just annoying and dangerous. They were running at guests and getting really up close and personal, I had a run in with a few myself and couldn't get them to leave me alone. I'm quite an anxious person and it really didn't help that they weren't listening to me telling them to back off. How I didn't see any of them get knocked over in the rush once the doors opened I do not know, but please if anyone from Disney is reading this, they weren't a good idea and just made the situation worse.

Once guests got past front lot, people were running to try and get to their first destination, with 50 scheduled meets, panels, shows, parades and limited edition pins on offer, there was never going to be enough time and people wanted to get their priorities done first. From what I can understand however, guests were being held in the production courtyard area until the welcome show was finished. This caused guest flow issues, people were angry at being penned in again, and just wanted to go and get their spots for their first character. Not only this but the limited edition pins were advertised as being on sale from 8pm, with only 400 of each design there were never going to be enough to satisfy demand and keen pin traders wanted to make sure they got there.

Luckily for me, my priority meet for the evening was of course Duffy and Shellie-May. There were meeting in the Disney junior building and because of this there queue was formed in production courtyard so I was able to get there straight away and was 2nd in the queue before the welcome show even started. The show itself was on the FanDaze stage outside tower of terror, it was very brief with a welcome from Catherine Powell, and our first look at Mickey and Minnie in their event outfits! It was a nice way to officially kick things off, but was nothing overly special and personally I would have been annoyed if I'd been forced to watch it over being able to queue for pins or a character. Once it was over guests were able to roam the full park, but by this time crowds had built up, so the initial surge for lines was quite chaotic.

Once the welcome show was over we were allowed into the Disney Jr show building where both the Mickey and the Duffy & Shellie meets were happening, as you walked in you were directed to one of 2 queues depending on who you wanted to meet. The rules on the nights regarding meets were no autograps, 2 photos on your own device and 1 PhotoPass picture. I found I actually got 2 or 3 shots on each from pretty much all of the meets, but this rough rule meant the queues moved quite quickly at most of the meets. Meeting Duffy and Shellie was, for me, perfect! It was everything I had built it up in my head to be, they loved my bound, and they looked great in their new outfits, I was able to get a few hugs, some great photos, and even had time to give them a little gift each! I was 2nd in the queue, so managed to get out of the meet by 8:15, the queue to meet them at this point was already quite large and outside of the show building!

My next stop was the Duffy and friends panel, which was due to start at 8:30 pm. In hindsight, had I realised the queue for Mickey mouse in the 2nd half of the Disney Jr show building was so short, I probably would have had time to meet him too. But I didn't want to risk missing any of the panel and I wanted a good seat, so I'm not too upset with the way I decided to do things on the night. The panel was held in the art of animation building, in the main show room where the video with Mushu is normally shown, it lasted about 1 hour in total and was really informative, I'm so glad I paid the extra to do this, and will write up my experience and what I learnt in a separate post to this.

After the panel finished it was around 9:30 pm, and this is where I experienced my first real disappointment of the night, the Duffy panel had clashed with the Catherine Powell panel, so I'd already had to make a tough choice about which to miss, as I was worried about getting a good seat I'd also only done 1 character meet so far, when I got out of the panel my plan was to try and get some characters, but a lot of the lines were already closed so I was turned away from meeting a few people I would have liked to have met, including the Incredibles who were meeting with Frozone! I met back up with a few friends and we headed to the front lot where the other VIPs were meeting, we got in the queue for Daisy duck, as Donald's queue was already closed. Again the queue moved quickly and we weren't waiting too long, we all went up separately and after my photo I got straight into the queue for Goofy, as I did this one of the CMs who was looking after Goofy came to close the queue, I politely explained I was part of a group who were still meeting Daisy, and luckily she agree'd they could join me and we could all meet Goofy, we did offer to just have a group photo, but as there was time we still got individual ones!

By this time the first set of character meets were all over so it was time to get ready for the duck tails parade, before this we had time to stop in studio one and pick up some FanDaze Minnie ears which come in a Teal/Blue colour with a gold sparkly bow, they were priced at around €15 which I thought was really good for a limited release! We then went and got our spot for the Duck tails parade, and ended up being roughly opposite the Art of Animation building. I really wasn't sure what to expect from this parade, but I'm happy to report I really enjoyed it, and wouldn't be at all sad to see this return to either park in the future. The highlight for me was getting a hug from Huey during the dance break, meething the nephews has always been something I'd like to do, and this is probably the closest I'll get but I'm more than happy with it.

Next we met up with Alyssa and Mark and grabbed a spot for Max Live, again this was something where I really wasn't sure what to expect, I've seen Goofy movie before and I like the songs, but I'm not a super fan by any stretch. I actually really enjoyed the show, I'm a big Zootopia fan, so adding Nick and Judy to the show was always going to be a winner for me, but I also loved the Stitch section and was so happy to see Angel again! I left before the end of the show as I heard Lilo was around, sadly I missed her but it meant I was able to go and get in my first character queue ready for 11:30 when the second set of meets started. I got to the queue at about 11 so did have a bit of a wait before Bolt came out, but it was worth it to be about 4th or 5th in the queue. When bolt came out I had a really good meet with him and got some really lovely photos, other than Duffy and Shellie, Bolt and Mittens were my two main goals for the evening, so this was a big tick on the list.

Bolt was in the Backlot area of the studios, he shared a queue with Mittens and they swapped over every 30 mins, as I was so near the front of Bolt's queue, rather than join the mittens line straight away, I decided to see if I could fit in any of the other near by meets. I acually managed to get a lot done and met Lewis from Meet the Robinsons, and then Honey Lemon, Wasabi, Fred and Gogo from Big Hero 6, having met Hiro in the park recently on my April trip finishing off the Big Hero 6 gang was really special to me. I was then able to get a photo with Lightning Mcqueen outside the Stunt show and finally went back to join the Mittens queue, this ended up being perfect timing as they closed her queue 2 people after me! All of the meets on the night were really good, and in general I didn't feel rushed, I got some really nice photos which I'll cherish for a long time to come, as I know I probably won't meet some of those characters again.

I met back up with David and we headed out to front lot to see if we could meet any of the VIPs as the queue for Duffy and Shellie was now closed, unfortunately the Minnie and Donald queues were also closed when we got there, this was a bit surprising as their 30 min sets hadn't started yet and there was only around 20 people in the Donald queue. I do however know there had been issues at other queues throughout the night where they hadn't managed to get through all the people in the queue before the end of the set, so I would guess they were just being a little over cautious to avoid any further upset! Not to be deterred we hung around anyway for Pluto who didn't have a set spot with a backdrop and managed to get a photo with him quite quickly.

This marked the end of character meets for us as most if not all the queues were now closed, we headed into studio one and grabbed something to eat before watching the final Max live show of the evening. Once this was over it was time for the farewell street party, this was reminiscent of the grand celebration on April 12th 2017, but on a much smaller scale. It was a great parade and it was nice to at least see all the other characters who I hadn't been able to meet during the evening, i never actually made it past the Art of Animation building so never saw anything in Toon studios, Toy Story play land or the TOT area, there just was way too much to do!

Overall I really enjoyed my evening at FanDaze, the things I wanted to do most I did manage to get done, I got some meets I wasn't expecting to have time for, and the shows and parades were much more enjoyable than I was expecting given I'm not a huge Goofy or Duck family fan, I was very impressed by the staging, costumes and content across the entertainment. Sadly, this wouldn't be a fair, rounded, or accurate review if I didn't include the not so good bits of the evening. Firstly the roaming characters, it was a nice idea, but in practice it was quite difficult, I saw 3 in the Back lot area and only managed to get a photo with 1, when I tried to get a 2nd I was ignored and walked away from a few times, I know the characters were busy and had to keep moving but it just ended up being too frustrating for me to keep pursuing them, knowing all the time I spent doing this, the fuller the queues for other characters were getting. In the end I prioritized set queues where I knew if I got in the queue I would almost definitely meet the character over the pop up roaming ones, even though some of my favourites that I've wanted to meet for a long time were out (The Aristokittens, Remy and Emile and Bullseye)!

Next is the panels, now don't get me wrong, the Duffy panel was one of my main motivations for ever going to FanDaze, and it didn't disappoint, but it was a huge chunk of time taken up during the night, and hugely impacted how many and which characters I was able to meet. If the event becomes an annual thing, I personally would like to see the panels moved to a different time during the weekend, either the Saturday or Sunday day time, these could be held in the convention centers in the hotels, or the events tents in the village. If the panels remain during the evening party, I would have to seriously consider how badly I wanted to attend them as I missed pretty much the whole first character set of the evening!

Finally I'm aware that in certain areas there were huge guest flow issues, for the most part I was lucky enough to avoid these, but I know of others who got caught up in it, and sadly for many it really effected their night. Honestly I'm not sure what the answer here is, I understand something went hugely wrong in the Heroes and Villains alley, presumably that it was just more popular than expected, but as I didn't personally experience this, it would be wrong of me to claim I know the answer. There were also multiple points during the evening where guests were prevented from getting to things as I mentioned at the start in regards to pins and the initial opening, this caused a build up of guests and then a surge once they are let through, which often causes more issues than just letting them filter through initially. In my opinion, I would happily have seen them sell 2/3 of the amount of tickets and run the event over 2 nights, this may have allowed for better guest control and also for mistakes to be rectified on the 2nd night!

As I said, for me, I had a great FanDaze experience, and should the event become annual, I'm pretty confident I would attend again. Yes I think mistakes were made both in the lead up to the even and on the night, but I'm confident these things are fixable and hopefully Disney will listen to the feedback from the fans who were effected by some of those issues. I would definitely do things a little different, but I'm just so happy I could be there for the first event. I didn't meet the most characters, I didn't meet the rarest characters, I didn't spend the most money, stay in the best hotel or have the top package. But I made the most of everything that was on offer to me that night, I went into it with what I thought was a realistic expectation that things might not run 100% smooth and I might have to change my plans on the fly and I had a fantastic time, when can I book for 2019?

Did you go to FanDaze? What was your experience like? What would you like to see for 2019 if it returns? Drop me a comment!

Hoodsie xx

1 comment:

  1. Michael Crenahaw10 June 2018 at 16:26

    I really enjoy reading your posts. During this particular event, I got pictures with 42 characters, including all 3 nephews, watched Max Live twice, Ducktales parade twice, and the farewell parade. It's a week later and I'm still overwhelmed by how amazing this party was. I agree the entering of the park should have been handled completely different, but overall I was unbelievably shocked by how well the night went. The euphoria from that party will be inside me for a long time. I hope I get to meet you and Duffy someday.