Disney Village is a shopping, dining and entertainment complex in Disneyland Paris, Marne-la-Vallée, France. Originally named Festival Disney, it opened April 12, 1992 with what was then the Euro Disney Resort and originally covered an area of approximately 18,000 square metres (190,000 sq ft).
Based on Walt Disney World's Disney Springs, it was designed by architect Frank Gehry with towers of oxidised silver and bronze-coloured stainless steel under a canopy of lights. It is adjacent to the two theme parks of Disneyland Paris and its Lake Disney hotel area.
The chosen architect, Frank Gehry, was presented with a blank canvas on which to design Festival Disney, an entertainment district for the Euro Disney Resort and also a transitional space for free access from the Euro Disneyland theme park and RER/TGV train station to the resort hotels. Festival Disney would attract guests to spend time relaxing with family and friends, finish the day shopping or spend a lively evening in restaurants, bars, attending concerts, seeing shows or having fun in the nightclubs.
The concept was a large open space full of life and music, lit from all sides around a central avenue with a starry sky. The columns that supported the starry sky would be the remnants of an old power station, left standing after the site was converted into a festival of 90’s contemporary American entertainment.
The idea of a station in the U.S. made me think of power stations which are often found this close to a railway line. Festival Disney is a bright place full of life. The power stations are illuminated at night, hence my idea of a network of 3,600 low-intensity bulbs that cover all of the structures. Naturally, the lights will be suspended between towers and, as a measure of the design process, I blew and embellished the towers that I wanted to sparkle without merely being decorative. Once the sky and towers were imagined, I disposed of buildings and other parts of a normal avenue...
Although the starry sky was initially seen as appealing, there was much unanimity felt towards Festival Disney. From the outset, the project was accused of giving a cold, industrial and soulless feeling from guests and cast members alike. Gehry’s concept mangled and misunderstood, metal plates on many of the pylons were now being removed from the centre downwards, with statues or food counters placed in the frames.
In 1996, just four years after opening, Festival Disney was renamed Disney Village and Planet Hollywood opened in front of the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show building. The following year, an eight screen Gaumont multiplex cinema complex was opened next door to Planet Hollywood, blocking the Wild West Show's original entrance.
Many changes and adjustments took place in existing buildings over the next ten years such as the opening of Café Mickey in 2002, replacing the Los Angeles Bar & Grill, the opening of King Ludwig's Castle in 2003, replacing Rock'n'Roll America and the opening of the Rainforest Café in 1999, replacing Key West. On 25 January 1999 a large McDonald’s fast food restaurant opened, themed after Italy's Commedia dell'arte. On 3 December 2004, an Art Deco themed multi-story parking structure opened, called VINCI Park. Later in 2004, a 570-seat IMAX cinema opened as part of the Gaumont multiplex.
The atmosphere during night time was the highlight of Disney Village, but daytime was another story. The alterations to Disney Village had so far served nothing but to flout the architectural work of Frank Gehry. The buildings were beginning to look ill and real place making was needed to give coherence to the “Mecca of entertainment”....
In 2004, the resort management began renovations that would take several years to complete.
The neon lights, oversized signs and the central stage were all removed from the main thoroughfare. Colourfully lit balloons were added onto the remaining columns in order to light up the village at night. PanoraMagique was also opened in 2005: a large helium filled captive balloon that carries up to 30 passengers 100 meters into the sky. In 2008 resort management added large planters that contain trees, hedges and flowers to the main thoroughfare. Terraces were added to restaurants and cafés and the facades of buildings were repaired. In the same year, a new beverage stand/snack bar was added near the entrance to Disney Village, and the tourist kiosk nearby was rebuilt in more of a neo-industrial "Parisian" style. In 2009, the Buffalo Trading Company closed and the premises is now occupied by a Starbucks coffee house.
As part of a €2 billion expansion of the Disneyland Resort, it has been confirmed that Disney Village will receive an overhaul and potential expansion - further details have not yet been confirmed.
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