Stunned by the array of gleaming silver flatware set before him, Anaheim Police Chief Joseph Molloy asked his wife, Pamela, for advice before diving into his feuillete au soule at one of this city’s swankiest restaurants on Tuesday night.
“After all, I don’t want to embarrass any one of you,” Molloy said to his table-mates.
Certainly not. Not only was this the elegant Elysee Lenotre, the chic eatery that is a quick stroll from the Palais de l’ Elysee (President Mitterrand’s palace), this was Une Soiree a Paris, the gala kickoff marking the first visit to Euro Disneyland by a contingent from Orange County.
Among tour-goers dining with Molloy on dainty noisettes of lamb, a carousel of French cheese and frozen nougat with Melba sauce, were Orange County Chief of Protocol Mary Jones, Supervisor Harriett Wieder and Disneyland executives Jack Lindquist and Ron Dominguez.
Also planned for the 70-strong group, whose members each paid $1,767 for the five-day trip, are a luncheon cruise on the Seine, a visit to the Louvre, shopping in the Madeleine district, a tour of the champagne country and gala dinner shows at the Euro Disney Resort’s Hotel New York and Festival Disney Entertainment Center.
But with all of Tuesday’s city sights--the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Palace de la Concorde--nothing got the tour-goers gushing like the eight-hour tour of Euro Disneyland in Marne la Vallee held earlier in the day. There had been rides on the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World--even a stop for a luscious lunch at the Disneyland Hotel’s toniest restaurant, the California Grill, where menu items included honey-glazed salmon and poppy-seed shortcake served up with a scoop of fresh whipped cream, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.
“Of all the rides,” said Anaheim Disneyland President Lindquist, “it’s a Small World is still my favorite.”
Said wife Belle, “That’s because he’s still a child.”
Mary Jones, accompanied on the trip by her husband, Wes, called Pirates of the Caribbean her favorite.
“I love the way they’ve done the ride here. They used the same components as in Anaheim but in a different sequence,” Jones said on Tuesday night’s bus ride into the City of Light from Euro Disneyland.
The trip marked a first visit to Paris for Bobbie Stovall and husband Jim, owner of Best Western Hotel Properties in Anaheim, “unless you want to count the time I came here during the Berlin crisis in the early ‘60s,” Jim said. “But those were far different circumstances. This is heaven.”
During the champagne and hors d’oeuvre reception in the atrium of chic Elysee Lenotre, Keith Murdock (city manager of Anaheim in the mid-'50s), reminisced about the good old days, the era when Walt Disney came to him to negotiate the big deal that became the Magic Kingdom.
“I never dreamed Disneyland would be here (in Paris)--but Walt did,” Murdock said. “When you think about it, so much of what Walt Disney brought to Anaheim was influenced by what he had seen in Europe. But I am sure he would be amazed at the scale of it all. I don’t think he ever dreamed the park could be this big, this wonderful.”
Plucking a canape from a silver tray and gazing at the city’s stunning architecture through the restaurant’s plant-filled atrium, Sylvia Jarvi noted the beautiful detail seen on a building outside. “See those lovely scrolls, that beautiful human head on the building’s corner? Why, it reminds me of some of the buildings at Disneyland. There it is, art imitating life imitating art.”
For KTLA Channel 5 sportscaster Ed Arnold, Euro Disneyland represented an effort by the Disney corporation to “take the best, add to it and make it better.”
He cited the Pirates of the Caribbean as an example. “It took much longer to get to the ride because first you walked and walked through some kind of castle. When you finally got on the ride, you felt like you were already a part of it.”
During dinner, taken at tables decorated with fresh flower pieces and candlelight, Larry Slagle, owner of Yellow Cab North Orange County and a Cal State Fullerton athletic department booster, noted it was his and his wife Joye’s first trip to Paris. “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” he said.
Said Joye: “Wouldn’t you know--we leave for Paris, and Kevin Costner comes to Fullerton to receive an award. My whole life has been like that.”
Also among tour-goers is Kerry Hunnewell, the vice president of Disney Co. in charge of the $3-billion expansion of the Anaheim facility. “Anaheim is going to be the most spectacular destination resort in the western United States,” Hunnewell said, puffing a cigarette after dinner. (“Don’t you love being in France? You can smoke and nobody cares.”) “The best part of working for Disney is the joy they give to people. I could be developing shopping malls or entertainment parks. Which would you do?”
Said Lindquist: “If we can’t have fun, if we’re not enjoying what we do, how can we expect our guests to enjoy it? We often find ourselves working while others play, but overall it’s all about fun.”
After dinner, guests climbed aboard the tour bus for a nighttime stop at the lighted Eiffel Tower. With the City of Light at her feet, Mary Jones said, “Isn’t this wonderful?”
Monday Preview: A luncheon cruise on the Seine, a Wild West show dinner and a farewell party at Euro Disney Resort’s Club Manhattan in Hotel New York.