Can you introduce yourself and Pixiedust.be for those who don’t know you?
Hello / Bonjour I’m Matthias, I live in Belgium about 20 minutes drive from the French border.
For me it all started with a visit to Euro Disney Resort in 1994, my grandparents took their grandchild to a magical kingdom near Paris, which was going to be their very first Disney experience for them too. We stayed there for 2 days with a night at Disney’s Sequoia Lodge. I can still hear my grandfather say: “how big are these hotels?”. In the early 1990s, the grandeur of the Euro Disney Resort was astonishing for all of us.
I was only 13 years old at the time and I had not been on a trip or excursion much in my life. This one trip during the Easter holidays of 1994 was going to change my life forever. Months before we left, I went to all the travel agents after school to get Euro Disney brochures to prepare.
Since this first visit in 1994, I have never stopped visiting Disneyland Paris. I only missed one year and that was 1996. A few years later, that must have been 1998, I started my first steps on the internet. Because I could only go to Disneyland Paris once or twice a year, there was an enormous time between these visits, so I couldn’t do much with my hobby. This was the main reason to start a website so I could fill these periods sharing my memories and photo’s online. All photos then had to be scanned and I had to learn step by step how to create a website. The digital world was still in its beginning. Social media, youtube, wordpress … none of them existed yet. Because I followed Graphic Techniques at school, I have always been interested in the digital world.
The year 2000, the year I graduated and more importantly, obtaining my driver’s license. I couldn’t get my driver’s license fast enough to go to Disneyland Paris on my own and that as much as I wanted. In 2001 I drove for the first time by car to Disneyland Paris, which was then all about Toon Circus. A GPS did not exist yet, but the route to the Resort was already in my head from the first visit. During my first independent visit, I immediately bought an Annual Pass already 19 years ago.
My website was very basic at the time and was called Matt’s Disneyland Paris Page, years later I would buy my own domain name and use the name Pixiedust.be. Years later it all went faster and faster, everyone started to have the internet at home and social media was introduced, making it for the classic websites a bit more difficult. Because I was so proud of my website I waited a little too long to use social media. As I was one of the first with a website, I waited a little too long for the social media. On the other hand, the social media also resulted in much more national and international exposure.
Nowadays anyone can start their own social channel or blog with a few clicks, but when I started it was completely different. I am extremely proud of myself to be among the first having a fan account about Disneyland Paris and that I have achieved everything on my own without a group of people or insiders to help me. Today, sharing the magic has become more of a competition, making it less fun now than it used to be.
What is your “relationship” with Disneyland Paris, how does your passion translate?
Besides having a website and social media where I am happy to share my passion. I feel very connected to the Resort as I was there from the early days of Euro Disney and it has dominated my life since I was 12 years old. The people in the neighborhood or at work have known me for years as the person who knows everything about Disney or Disneyland Paris, and to whom they should send their questions if they want to know anything about it.
Since my first visit I have experienced so much in Disneyland Paris and have seen so much change over the years, making the bond so strong that it is now extra difficult during these Corona times. After many years of waiting, I finally found a partner with the same passion, making Disneyland Paris more than ever an enormous presence in our lives.
What do you like most about Disneyland Paris?
That is a difficult question. Just like “What is your favorite attraction or Disney character?”. It is a combination of everything that makes Disneyland Paris unique, just like the other Disney Parks. I am not an amusement park person to go from one rollercoaster to another, I also think the atmosphere, the decor, the music, the entertainment are all equally important. And in Europe, this
harmony is still most found in Disneyland Paris. The feeling of being somewhere else, the American feeling, the feeling of being in a bubble away from home. Except in other Disney Parks, I have never had the same feeling anywhere.
What is your favorite show and attraction?
As I said, I find it difficult to choose a favorite attraction. Each attraction has its own experience and story. For me it is not always the most sensational attractions that I prefer. In general, I am more of a dark ride fan than rollercoasters. For example, I really enjoy the dark rides of Snow White, Pinocchio or Peter Pan, but like most Disney fans, the classic ones like Phantom Manor, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean or It’s A Small World are always on my to-do-list every visit.
I have seen a lot of different entertainment over all those years. First of all I want to say that I actually like almost every show / parade. If only because shows and parades are a big part of the Disney Park experience and are very important in differentiating from competing parks. No one can make shows and parades like in a Disney Park. I am a huge fan of entertainment in the parks, the more the better.
Shows or parades that I would most like to see again are, for example, C’est Magique, which was performed during the early years of Euro Disney in the Fantasy Festival Stage (now Meet Mickey Mouse), with many different Disney Characters for a tour of Disneyland Park, with nice music of which I still have the CD that was sold at the time. But I am also thinking of Livre Magique de Mickey, a fantastic show with a book that unfolded on Royal Castle Stage. The show told the story of several Disney Princesses making it perfect for a stage so close to the castle. And a show with the Seven Dwarfs always scores well with me. I also loved “Disney Classics: the Music and the Magic” in Videopolis.
Regarding parades, I thought the summer parade that I saw in 1995 was one of the most beautiful and largest ones. There were a huge amount of dancers and many Disney Characters such as the Gummy Bears and unique floats of The Lion King. I also have very fond memories of the parade that was staged for the 25th anniversary on April 12th. I really miss the evening parades in Disneyland Park such as the Main Street Electrical Parade and Disney’s Fantillusion. And also the parades in Walt Disney Studios Park, which may not be the biggest parades, but they brought a nice atmosphere during the day.
Do you have favorite memories at Disneyland Paris?
The best memories are perhaps those of my very first visit. And you can never experience a first visit a second time, so this is a special moment anyway. I also thought the year that Disneyland Paris celebrated its fifth birthday was super, many people didn’t like “Le Château Fou” at the time, but I liked it and it completely matched the overall theme of the year and provided a constant feeling of celebration in the park.
Another great memory was that of the opening of Walt Disney Studios Park. Of course I could not be missed at the official opening of a new park. Even though the park was very small, everything was new and I had a fantastic day. Was also lucky enough to be able to see, from a distance, Roy O. Disney and Michael Eisner that day.
More recently, the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris on April 12, 2017 was an unforgettable day. All fans were able to participate, I then stayed at the Resort for 9 days (my longest visit ever). The special events that I have been able to experience over the years are time after time moments of joy that I will never forget.
Have you ever traveled to other resorts? If so, can you tell us more?
Yes, I went to Disneyland in California for the first time in September 2019 and have also been to Walt Disney World 8 times. At the end of 2019 I was there for 3 weeks, my longest stay ever in Orlando. This was certainly my best visit ever, for the first time I was there during the Christmas season and I was able to do Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party twice, a fantastic event.
By visiting both Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2019, I have already seen both versions of Galaxy Edge too. Unfortunately, Rise of the Resistance at Walt Disney World opened when I was already home for two weeks. Normally I would have been to Disneyland California for a second time in 2020, but due to current circumstances I had to cancel the trip.
Maybe I will go to Tokyo Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort in the future once the expansions are done there. Shanghai Disney Resort attracts me the least and I have no plans to visit it.
For me, Walt Disney World is the best resort because it provides a complete experience. It is affordable to stay in a Disney Hotel so you can really stay in the Disney bubble, the hotels all have outdoor swimming pools, fantastic food courts … there is also so much to do on the Disney property outside the parks that you really can stay here longer making this your yearly holiday.
What has the InsidEars program done for you?
Well, for several years, I was already part of the fan account list that received emails with news or updates from the resort and was regularly invited to events long before the Insidears platform was launched. So not much has changed for me personally. The Sociabble platform is good for easily sharing information and images with the fans, an improvement than before with email.
Whether it falls under the name of Insidears or not, it is mainly the recognition and gratitude from Disneyland Paris for the many years of loyalty and promotion of the Resort that means a lot to me. A task that I still take very seriously and do with great dedication. I always look forward to the annual Insidears meeting at Disneyland Paris, this is always a great event. Hopefully we can experience it again soon.
Disneyland Paris is at the start of a number of years with novelties and new attractions opening their doors. I hope that as an Insidears member I can play an important role in this together with other colleagues fan sites. The years to come make it very exciting for me and I am very proud to be a Disneyland Paris fan.
Do you have a collection? If so, can you tell us about it?
Not really. I do have a lot of illuminated displays with souvenirs from Disneyland Paris or other Disney Parks, but there is not one particular item that I collect. I have many figurines from the Jim Shore / Disney Traditions collection. I buy what I like, sometimes it’s a cheaper item or sometimes it can be a bit more expensive. This year a lot of Christmas ornaments have been added to our Christmas Tree.
I hope you enjoyed this. I wish everyone a 2021 full of magic, something we have missed very hard in 2020.