The Year of the Rabbit begins this Sunday. According to Chinese tradition, this is an auspicious sign symbolising longevity, peace, high spirits and agility. All of which are evident in the many rabbits that populate Disneyland Paris!
It all began with… a rabbit!
High spirits and agility: these qualities are especially applicable to Oswald, the lucky rabbit conceived in 1927 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. From his very first film, Trolley Troubles, when he appears as a tram (trolley) driver, Oswald uses his rich imagination and energy to get his passengers there safely, despite the many obstacles that pop up along the way. Oswald has appeared on several occasions at Disneyland Paris, in particular during the 25th Anniversary Celebration in 2017 when he was marching merrily alongside Mickey and his friends. He was back the following year for the Disney FanDaze event at Walt Disney Studio Park, and again during PhotoPass Day. He can also be glimpsed in Meet Mickey Mouse: have you noticed the drawing of the open fan in the lodge, which depicts him with our favourite mouse?
Rabbits to the rescue!
Rabbits also populate the Snow White universe. They are among the forest animals that comfort her after her nerve-racking escape from the dark plans of the Evil Queen, then guide her to the Dwarfs’ cottage. So it’s only natural that they should appear in Fantasyland’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs attraction, in the opening scene and also at the end.
Rabbits are likewise very important for the Dwarfs, who make them a central motif in their wood sculptures. In the attraction, rabbit motifs appear on Grumpy’s organ and on the carts that take guests through the adventure. Rabbits adorn several headboards in La Chaumière des Sept Nains, as well as the column capitals of the “Sleeping Beauty Castle” section of the store.
Another rabbit full of vim and mischief is Bambi’s best friend, Thumper. His name comes from the noise that he makes by tapping his foot (or more accurately his back paw) when he is happy. And he often has reason to be at Disneyland Paris, either at Christmas (when he is irresistible in his bow tie) or when summer comes around again. So too his memorable appearances alongside Miss Bunny aboard Minnie’s Little Spring Train during the “Swing into Spring” season. Thumper was also celebrated in our Horticulture teams’ topiaries in Central Plaza. Throughout the year, Disney’s Sequoia Lodge pays homage to him with its bedroom decoration and its frescoes and paintings inspired by the 1942 Classic.
Rabbits in Wonderland
Thumper’s travel companion during “Swing into Spring”, the White Rabbit in from Alice in Wonderland, welcomes guests at the entrance to Alice’s Curious Labyrinth. He is constantly glancing at his watch out of fear of being late! The March Hare, for his part, sits calmly astride a giant teacup in Disney’s Parade of Dreams. He is especially present in March Hare Refreshments, which reuses the décor designed by legendary Disney artist Mary Blair for the tea party crowd sequence, as well as in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups attraction. It’s not Easter that gets celebrated here, rather a permanent “unbirthday”!
Equally mischievous are the rabbits that creep into Prince Philip’s boots to dance in his place with Rose in the unforgettable scene from Sleeping Beauty by John Lounsbery, one of the historic masters of Disney animation. Rabbits appear on both sides of the fireplace in the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle store, La Boutique du Château.
Directly opposite, La Boutique de Merlin store is a stirring tribute to the famous magician who had the bright idea to turn himself into a rabbit during his sorcerer’s dual with the terrible Madam Mim.
In Hundred Acre Wood
Rabbit is always full of ingenious solutions to his friends’ problems. Despite his frequent grumpiness, his intelligence lets him adapt to the changing environment. Equally comfortable on stage (Winnie the Pooh and Friends, 1998-2011) as in a parade (The Parade of Disney Dreams, Mickey’s Dazzling Christmas Parade), Rabbit quickly forgets his bad temper to spend some sweet and tender moments with the guests.
A very animated rabbit
Spirited and agile, frequently to the point of excess, Roger Rabbit’s glory days at Disneyland Paris were during the 1990s and early 2000s. Roger was one of the stars of the legendary show, “En Scène, s’il vous Plaît !” (1995-2000). He featured in the California Dream parade (1997) as well as in the Disney’s Toon Circus street show (2001), where he let his flighty temperament run wild!
A rabbit with great instincts
For the Grand Finale of our resort’s thirtieth anniversary, there was no more iconic figure than Judy Hopps, the heroine of Zootopia (2016.) Originally, Judy was only meant to be Nick Wild’s sidekick, but her positive, bright personality led the screenwriters to switch the roles. No problem for Judy: she was happy to shake things up and become Zootopia’s first rabbit-policewoman. The most important thing for Judy Hopps is that she believes in her dreams as a way to push back boundaries and make the world a better place. It’s a great lesson in optimism that is central to the Dream… and Shine Brighter show that celebrates both thirty years of dreams and the beginnings of a hope-filled new era.