(Once upon a date) March 31, 2001: Disney’s Toon Circus Launched

From March 31 to September 30, 2001, Disneyland Paris celebrated the year of the circus performance arts… in its own way! 

After Mulan, the Legend (1998) put on at Videopolis and paying tribute to the great tradition of the Chinese circus, and Tarzan, the Encounter (2000) at The Chaparral Theater, with its spectacular aerial acrobatics, it was time for the jugglers, clowns and trapeze artists to take over Main Street, U.S.A., this time in a resolutely humorous approach… Somewhere between a parade and a traditional circus show, Disney’s Toon Circus revisited this art, but outdoors, with a cartoonish touch. 

To imagine this new kind of circus, the show’s creators turned to specialists in circus performance arts such as Francesco Bouglione, heir to one of the most illustrious families in the history of the circus, and Jean Palacy (1930-2010), an emblematic Trapezist. They also did research at Sorbonne University’s “Théâtrothèque Gaston Baty”, a veritable mine of information on the performing arts as well as at the “Centre National des Arts du Cirque”. 

Based on the research and the particularly rich encounters, they created a new fresh experience consisting of the most improbable boxing ring for Goofy “Mr. Muscle”, an astonishing flying trapeze for Hyacinth, Fantasia’s hippopotamus, and Dumbo’s train with Minnie, Roger Rabbit and his clowns performing a stream of acrobatics and gags. 

Musically, “And Now You Enter The Circus” was, of some sort, the show’s theme song. Composer Vasile Sirli wrote an original melody based on Julius Fučík’s famous “Entry of the Gladiators” – a circus world classic – and then superimposed the two, the makings for perfect harmony. 

Fantasy and poetry… who could dream of a more beautiful tribute?

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