Interview: The Making Of Halloween Festival at Disneyland Paris

October 3, 2017

Recently Disneyland Paris had an interview with Show Director Emmanuel Lenormand and Set Designer Thomas Gallou about the Halloween Festival. You can read the interview here below.

Hello Emmanuel and Thomas! You took part in the Disney Halloween Festival re-design. Could you explain in more detail what your job at Disneyland Paris involves and tell us a bit about your backgrounds? 

Emmanuel Lenormand: I’ve been Show Director since 2002. I started my Disney career in 1986 in TV, and then in 1988 moved to what was then Euro Disney. From there, I climbed up the ladder: dancer, actor, show coordinator, and, finally, Show Director. I’ve always said it’s the best career, because it changes every day and there’s a huge variety of projects we get to work on. Every day is different, it’s great! My job is to find ideas and tell stories with the help of fantastic Cast Members who take care of costumes, sets, special effects, sound, and music. Everything comes together to create an incredible show for young and young at heart alike! 
Thomas Gallou: I’ve been a set designer at Disneyland Paris for just about two years. I studied 3D graphic design and particularly game design. Some of my major projects have been escape games, musical theatre, and working in television. This Halloween season is my first big project at Disneyland! 

Thomas Gallou working on early concepts during the first development phases

Let’s talk more about that! What new goings-on can out guests expect this year at Disneyland Park? 
Emmanuel Lenormand: We wanted to incorporate our 25th Anniversary! Along Main Street, U.S.A. in particular, we didn't want to have to add a story on top of other stories and have pumpkins and ghosts existing alongside the 25th celebration decorations. This year, Halloween will be mostly celebrated at Frontierland! We created a world of ghouls, scarecrows, and pumpkins around the town of Thunder Mesa, as if the residents of long ago themselves did the decorating. Then Thomas stepped in, and helped us imagine a colourful party near the Fuente del Oro Restaurante, featuring brand new characters and animals as well as flags and pennants. 
Thomas Gallou: Well, we asked what we could imagine for our guests in the Mexican area of Frontierland, taking our cues from the traditional roots of South American culture. We created new scarecrows, and each one has its own colourful and realistic costume, as well as alebrijes: brightly coloured fantastical animals that can be spotted in front of the Cowboy Cookout Restaurant – keeping an eye on partygoers! 
Emmanuel Lenormand: In addition to these new decorations, we designed a brand new procession down Main Street, U.S.A., where Mickey and his Friends will lead Disney Villains on wacky tricycles, moving to a catchy new soundtrack. Keep an eye out for Donald, who will be playing a villain too, dressing up as Maleficent! At Frontierland, guests will have a blast as they dance at Goofy’s Skeletoons Street Party, following Goofy across the Land as he dance with skeletons and scarecrows! 

After the pumpkin-man and ghost stories, what were your inspirations for the new story for this year's Halloween season? 

Thomas Gallou: The basic idea was South American culture. I had a lot of images floating around my head about the carnivals and parades in South America, colourful parties, huge family festivities... These can be seen through the new celebration at Frontierland.
Emmanuel Lenormand: We also wanted to tell new stories, after the pumpkin-men that wanted to paint Disneyland Park orange, the pink witches who fought the pumpkin-men, and the ghost residents of Main Street, U.S.A. who walked around the town. We knew it was the 25th Anniversary, so we thought it was time to write a new chapter! Our biggest challenge as artists is to tell new stories that will keep our guests surprised, and coming back for more. 

Between you and me, can you tell us how this story will develop in the coming years? 

Emmanuel Lenormand: We’re not quite sure yet. Each season, we ask our guests to let us know what they like most and least, and we’ll take this into consideration. All I can say today is that the Halloween celebration will likely return to the Central Plaza and the Castle Stage! 

2017 Festival Halloween Disney Key Figures: 
  • 13,262 flowers for the new garlands of Frontierland (8 people for 3 weeks to make them)
  • 1 km of ribbon for trees 
  • 24 cactus 
  • 10 Rag Dolls (skeletons) 
  • 56 lanterns 
  • 100 different tissues for scarecrows and Rag Dolls costumes 
  • 175 m of light garlands for the Frontierland Road 
  • 330 pumpkins

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