The Walt Disney Co. will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023 with a series of experiences, exhibitions, music events and new products across its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, the entertainment giant unveiled during an event in London on Thursday evening.
Among them are a concert tour, a Disney exhibition and “Wonder of Friendship – The Experience,” an “immersive multi-sensory experience targeted at Gen Zs and young adults” that celebrates “dynamic duos, brave besties and inseparable pals.”
The company previewed its “100 Years of Wonder” plans in the British capital during the “Disney100 Debut event,” which was hosted by TV presenter Emma Willis (Big Brother) and included performances from Disneyland Paris and The Lion King cast. TV personality Jess Wright (The Only Way Is Essex) and singer Rachel Stevens were among the celebrities in attendance.
“Oct. 16 next year marks 100 years since Walt and his brother Roy introduced the magic of Disney to the world and unlocked a special kind of wonder in people’s lives across the globe,” the company said. “Disney will celebrate characters and stories from this first 100 years throughout 2023.”
Added Nicole Morse, vp, brand and franchise marketing strategy, Disney EMEA: “Anyone who has seen a child’s face light up watching Frozen or meeting Buzz Lightyear in real life knows the sense of wonder we are celebrating tonight. For 100 years, Disney has had the privilege of bringing our stories and characters into people’s lives and bringing joy to fans around the world. Tonight is the perfect way to kick off our 100th anniversary celebrations as we begin our second century of creating magic. We are so very grateful for our fans, and we can’t wait to bring all these Disney100 experiences to them here in the U.K. and across Europe, Middle East and Africa.”
Here is a closer look at the events, products and special experiences planned for the EMEA region.
Disney100: The Concert
“Disney will be touring Europe with the Hollywood Sound Orchestra, bringing to life ‘Disney 100 Years of Wonder’ with a concert series of seminal music moments from its history,” the company said. “The live multimedia experience will see legendary film scenes accompanied by live performances from star solo artists and the orchestra.”
The concerts will feature songs from such films as Beauty & the Beast, Mary Poppins and Encanto, along with highlights from the worlds of Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel.
An U.K.-wide arena tour will take place from May 31 to June 8 in Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bournemouth.
The continental European leg of the arena tour will kick off in Kiel, Germany, on April 13 before going on to “16 other venues over three weeks across Germany, Switzerland and Austria,” the company said. “The concert also travels to Europe’s biggest show venue – Paris’ La Defense Arena – on November 11 and 12. Many more European dates are set to be announced.”
Disney100: The Exhibition
Disney100: The Exhibition promises to “take guests on a journey through Disney’s past, immersing them in the beloved stories that have been entertaining the world since 1923,” the company says. “Disney will open its vault of treasures to showcase hundreds of extraordinary pieces of history, including rarely seen original artworks, artefacts, costumes, props and other memorabilia.”
After its premiere in the U.S., starting in Philadelphia in February, it will kick off in Europe in Munich on April 18 before touring across Europe. The exhibition will come to the Excel center in London in the fall 2023.
Wonder of Friendship – The Experience
“To mark 100 years of dynamic duos, brave besties and inseparable pals, Disney is opening the doors to an immersive multi-sensory experience targeted at Gen Zs and young adults to celebrate the Wonder of Friendship,” the company says. “Opening in London, groups of friends will have the chance to venture through 1,000 square meters of different experiences and installations set across four rooms, including Alice in Wonderland, Lilo & Stitch, The Lion King and Mickey and Friends. Immersed in the characters’ worlds, visitors can expect to make incredible memories and celebrate their own friendships.”
The experience will open its doors between May and October across the U.K., France, Germany and Spain, with more markets to be announced next year.
The Wonder of Play
Disney will also celebrate “100 years of characters, stories and product, and how Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic help parents in creating shared play experiences with their children.”
The global campaign will encourage families to play more by helping parents and guardians “integrate imaginative play into everyday moments and make the most of time together.”
New merchandise collections and collaborations will commemorate Disney “100 Years of Wonder,” according to the company.
Among them a ”Platinum Collection of Disney100 products debuting on shopDisney, including a Disney100 ear hat and headband,” aDisney100 Decades Collection, “featuring products that celebrate classic stories and eras from Disney’s history,” and more.
Building on Disneyland Paris’s 30th Anniversary celebrations, the 100th anniversary celebrations will also come to life at the resort, starting with “an exclusive moment” during its New Year’s Eve party, followed by “a year of surprises.”
To mark the anniversary on Oct. 16, guests will be treated to a “one-of-a-kind entertainment program, character performances and exclusive Disney activities throughout the day.”
After that day, the theme park promises “additional, never-seen-before exclusive activities.”