|Location||Disneyland Paris, Paris, France|
|Theme||Outdoor Entertainment Area|
|Operated by||Euro Disney SCA|
|Opened||April 12, 1992|
|Website||Disney Village Homepage|
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Disney Village is a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex in Disneyland Paris, located in the town of Marne-la-Vallée, France. Originally named Festival Disney, it opened on April 12, 1992, covering an area of approximately 18,000 square metres (190,000 sq ft) inside what was then known as Euro Disney Resort.
Based on Walt Disney World's Disney Springs, Disney Village was designed by architect Frank Gehry with towers of oxidized silver and bronze-colored stainless steel under a canopy of lights. It is adjacent to the two theme parks of Disneyland Paris and the Lake Disney hotel area.
Disney specified that the primary focus of the new facility should be entertainment. It was envisioned as an attraction inside of the Euro Disney Resort, as well as a free transitional space for visitors of the Euro Disneyland theme park and train passengers from the RER/TGV train station traveling to the resort hotels. The space would include numerous shops, bars, concerts, shows, and nightclubs.
The original concept was a large, open space full of life and music. It would be lit from all sides around a central avenue and include a starry sky as its crowning feature. The columns that would support this sky would be the remnants of an old power station, which had been left standing after the site had been converted.
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 generally well-received, the same could not be said for many other aspects of Festival Disney. From the beginning, guests and cast members alike criticized the project, perceiving it as having a cold, industrial, and soulless atmosphere. As a result, many changes were made to Gehry's original concept. Metal frames that had been placed on many of the pylons were removed and replaced with statues and food counters.
In 1996, just four years after opening, Festival Disney was renamed Disney Village. Popular restaurant chain Planet Hollywood opened in front of the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show building, and the following year an eight-screen Gaumont multiplex cinema complex 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 10 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 January 25, 1999, a large McDonald’s fast food restaurant opened with a theme based on Italy's Commedia dell'arte. Later in 2004, a 570-seat IMAX cinema opened as part of the Gaumont multiplex. Finally, on December 3, 2004, an Art Deco themed multi-story parking structure called VINCI Park opened.
In 2004, the resort management team began renovations that would take several years to complete. The neon lights, oversized signs, and central stage were all removed from the main area. Colorfully lit balloons were added to the remaining columns for nighttime lighting. PanoraMagique, one of the largest captive balloons in the world, opened in April 2005. It carries up to 30 passengers 100 metres (330 ft) into the sky. In 2008, resort management added large planters that contained trees, hedges, and flowers to the main thoroughfare. Terraces were added to restaurants and cafés, and the facades of buildings were updated. 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 are now occupied by a Starbucks coffee house.
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