Behind the scenes of our special events: meeting with Mandy Fenwick and Chloé Sarfati.

Our best ambassadors are our collaborators! This month we have chosen to highlight the strategic position of event manager. Mandy Fenwick and Chloé Sarfati are two key players, both coordinators and “facilitators” of all special events. Encounter.

What has been your personal career in the company up to now?

Mandy Fenwick: I started well before the opening in 1989 as a collaborator of our CEO, and then, when the event unit was created I had the opportunity to work on One Year Out, a major event that preceded the opening of Disneyland Paris. I was then part of the task force in anticipation of the opening. I have been following the adventure since its beginnings!

Chloé Sarfati: I have an atypical background since I started as a parade artist. I then joined the show team before becoming Special Events Manager for Disney Business Solutions.

What is your job?

Mr. F. As event manager we are a support for teams. We centralize all requests, we manage unforeseen events. We have a coordination and relay role. We are involved from the moment the event request is received until the post event close.

C. S. In this profession, it is essential that we be aware of everything that is happening on the ground, in the park or in the event spaces, but also of the preparation of the event in order to be an effective relay.

What kind of contingencies can you encounter?

Mr. F. I remember an event where one of the team members realized that the tickets for participants had been locked in a safe. We had 600 guests who were in danger of not being able to access the park and their party, a real emergency! The team member turned to me because he knew I had enough experience to know who to contact and allow the guests to return. I felt really good in my role that day!

C. S. We have a role as facilitators. We are the people we turn to when we need to identify the right interlocutor. And this is not only the case for emergencies, we must also be strong of proposals and provide the best guidance to the teams in the construction of their events.

What kind of events are you working on?

C. S. We are asked for, for example, preview films, launches of new attractions or for internal events such as the Service Awards.

Mr. F. Today, I am mainly mobilized on external or corporate events: any request for an event from an external company, client of Disney Business Solutions.  Of these types of events, we can accommodate up to 4,000 people, or even 25,000 in the case of a privatization of the two Disney® Parks, which requires significant coordination.

C. S. Recently I was asked about a press event that brought together media, influencers, bloggers and Vips from more than 17 countries. This is the type of events where everything can change until the last minute. It is a real challenge!

What makes this company unique to you?

C..S. For me Disney is a whole fairy tale, a culture. It represents the cartoons of my childhood. Working here is kind of part of the magic!

Mr. F. We wouldn’t be here with the same enthusiasm if we weren’t passionate about Disney. I have a feeling that when you’re busy, when you’re working a lot, you just walk around the parks, you see the smiles of the visitors, and you go back to the office with a bang on your head.

What is your greatest memory?

Mr. F. For me it’s undeniably the opening of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ ten years ago: it was the first time video mapping was done in our parks. It was a real technical feat.

C. S. I have excellent memories of the launch of the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris. There were many challenges, many smiles, it was really a beautiful anniversary!


Work: this serious game of which you are the hero

Training, recruitment, team building, or simply breathing, getting employees involved in virtual games or IRL is not a trivial hobby. On the contrary, it makes it possible to discover oneself differently, to learn about oneself and others. A phenomenon that has been growing steadily in recent years.

“Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick”. Few days or the deductive abilities of an employee are as much involved as during an escape game with his colleagues. The enthusiasm for scripted games that has been spreading in France for some years now, counts among its first customers a number of companies, eager at the same time to stimulate their teams, to offer them experiences of a different nature but also to draw some lessons from them.

Whether it is breaking the ice, forging ties of another nature, or changing our eyes on those with whom we share most of our time, these experiences are not lacking in virtues. It is also necessary to choose well from the multitude of places and structures that offer to live such moments. To do this, it is better to turn to passionate people who have at heart to share and constantly imagine new concepts, new intrigues.

Fishing for «soft skills»

The designers of these games often put forward the skills required in the participants to cope in a given universe: here communication, collaboration, flexibility, adaptability, or leadership, patience, etc. So many “soft skills”, skills that can be transposed to the world of work and project management.

Hence the interest of human resources managers in these activities, which allow them to test their employees in new situations, and to reveal what in them can prove to be a strength or a weakness. Apart from the recruitment process, however, these criteria are often used only for guidance and are not used to disqualify a given person. On the contrary, “It helps candidates reveal what they have trouble showing in a classic exchange as the speeches are so well-run,” says researcher Hélène Michel, interviewed by Socialter magazine.

Online games both showcase and recruitment tool

Disinhibiting participants, pushing them out of their usual thinking patterns, this is what serious-games also allow, these video games that confront participants with individual challenges in a virtual world. Long reserved for internal use, some of these games are now available online, and rely on game comfort to attract participants beyond just the employee circle.

Thus Décathlon or L’Oréal propose to manage from A to Z the launch of a product, in order to make discover the professions within the company. Orange on its side invites players to install a power grid in a fictitious city. Beyond the gaming experience available to everyone, these companies are not hiding from carefully scrutinizing the behaviour of users on their platforms so as not to miss the talents of tomorrow. Then reality takes precedence over the playful experience.

Whether or not HR is focused on what happens during these playful experiments, it is clear that magic works almost every time. It is rare for an employee not to play the game and not give up their conventions for an instant.

It is then that unusual but desirable phenomena occur. The event puts participants on an equal footing, people who are not used to working together learn to collaborate, find common ground. We are then witnessing a form of emulation, the unfolding of collective intelligence, while having fun.


On the trail of the interactive rally Roadmap to Adventure

A look at the design of the interactive «Roadmap to Adventure» rally with Margot Gosetti di Sturmeck, who followed the project from its infancy to its launch.

«Originally it was supposed to be a treasure hunt» recalls Margot Gosetti di Sturmeck, project manager of Disney Business Solutions. For sale since 2017 in the team building product line, the interactive Roadmap to Adventure rally is about pushing back the forces of evil that seek to take control of the Disneyland® Park. Equipped with a tablet, participants (between 2 and 6 per group) roam the park in search of clues and challenges related to universes and stories.

“I was invited to the preparatory meetings by the designer of the time,” says Margot, “first of all as a fan of Disney characters and movies to help write the story.” But his infographic expertise will also prove invaluable for the designer who entrusts him with the development of a visual universe specific to this adventure. In addition to creating the elements for the participants’ tablet, she finally coordinates the various stages in connection with Disney experts (legal, creative, artistic, etc.)

Thus the participants are greeted in the game by introductory sequences shot in the park with the characters, immediately setting the tone. Everything happens on the tablet: first these kinematics, then the challenges: find details in photo, races against the clock or even observation challenges.   «The big challenge, continues Margot, was to change nothing in the park, and yet we really feel like interacting with this new setting!»

The project team, for its part, has set out to create a new adventure for participants who are working alongside visitors enjoying their day at the park. “We wanted to encourage participants to observe the details and subtleties of the park, while keeping them safe, avoiding major traffic corridors and keeping the mystery and atmosphere alive.”

Finally, there was all the architecture that had to be put in place, so that people could really get involved. “The project team has imagined a lot of twists and turns, unexpected things that come up, so it’s always exhilarating.” Last step: the field test sessions: After several months of work, I was absolutely convinced of the quality and efficiency of the game and I took a lot of pleasure to watch the reactions of the participants, especially those who were less excited by this type of game and who let themselves be taken by the story!» Concluded Margot.


Designing events is an art: meeting with Thierry Magne

Thierry Magne tells stories by designing unique immersive universes. With over 25 years of experience, he is a world-class event designer who knows how to take ownership of the Disney® Parks world and transform more neutral spaces. Meeting with one of the conductors who gives the measure of our events.

Can you explain your job?

THIERRY MAGNE: I’ve been an event designer at Disney Business Solutions since the beginning. In each of them, we tell stories: I imagine them from the initial brief, then create the concept and surround myself with the right people (directors, choreographers, musicians, conductors, etc.). I’m a bit of a conductor myself, because I coordinate all of these professions to ensure consistency in the history and the final realization.  From the moment I have the creative idea, my job is also to know how to convince people, to take them with me. When I see the stars in my eyes, it’s a done deal! It’s my favorite part of my job.

How did you get started?

T.M.: I started doing events as a producer. In 1992, I worked on the opening of Disneyland® Paris and then produced La Belle et la Bête. In 2002, I directed the production of all the festivities related to the tenth anniversary of Disneyland® Park where we organized 17 events in two days!  After this experience, I decided to renew myself and move on to the creative side: so I became event designer.

How do you work to imagine an original concept?

T.M: I think about it almost 24 hours a day: I even put a notebook next to my bed to be able to write down ideas if they come to me during the night! Everything can give me an idea: listening to the radio, watching television, going to an exhibition. One of our strengths is that we have an endless supply of stories to tell, thanks to the universes of our parks and hotels. But we can also design events that offer radically different worlds, while being hosted at Disneyland® Paris.  This was the case for Electroland: we went to Ibiza to be inspired by the world of clubbing, but we thought that we should then «disney-iser» in a way.

At the origin Walt Disney has always been a pioneer in the field of graphic arts, visual creation or sound: I think if he were still alive his films would be accompanied by electro music!

What are the special features of Disney Business Solutions events?

T.M: Disneyland Paris is a unique destination in Europe: both in terms of universes, attractions and technical possibilities. We are fortunate to have assets that we can transform. For Electroland, for example, our real differentiator was the ability to video-project on The Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror™, which is 55 meters high, and to accompany the Djs with Vjing (video projections in rhythm with music). It is the dimension of the scenography that made the event exceptional, I think that even the Djs, who are shooting all over the world, had never seen a projection of this magnitude.  On the other hand, we have a real technical striking force: our graphic teams, our light teams, our show teams are powerful enough to enable us to turn the Sleeping Beauty Castle into a Christmas tree for an evening if we so wish.

What kind of challenge do you encounter in organizing events of this magnitude?

T.M: Our biggest challenge is to realize these achievements in the parks that welcome visitors every day. For example for Electroland, from the time we closed, we had an hour to transform Walt Disney Studios® Park. In terms of rehearsals, they take place in the evening at park closure or at night. And we must integrate into the park environment all the technical elements necessary for the performance so as not to distort it.

What was the most ambitious event you were able to take part in?

MT: My biggest memory is the 2008 inauguration of The Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror™. We decided to tell the story of this prestigious hotel in Los Angeles, the Hollywood Tower Hotel, which later became the Tower of Terror. We had done a giant mapping that was the world’s first mapping event in a Disney park. It marked the people who even asked to see this show again, in 2018, for the ten years of the event!  Second, I must acknowledge that the November 2017 Service Award event is one of my greatest memories. We had invited a symphony orchestra with singers and dancers for a little more than an hour of show, the evening was superb.

What are you feeling right now?

T.M: I dream of collaborating with an Italian designer named Edoardo Tresoldi. He makes sculpture in mesh. When it illuminates its structures one feels that it is 3D or a hologram, it is sublime!


Fairs and exhibitions: the 3 reasons to skip the step

Every year, Île-de-France hosts more than 400 trade fairs (trade, consumer and mixed) that attract nearly 9 million visitors. However, the fair remains an underexploited medium, particularly by small and medium-sized enterprises/Smes.

With 700,000 m² of space, Paris Île-de-France offers the richest and most varied infrastructure in the world to host professional events. These exhibitions, whether they are public or professional, allow companies that exhibit to sign 17 million contracts each year, and to realize more than 30.5 billion euros in turnover (source: Unimev – Breakdown of the sector). Overview of the reasons to skip the step!

#1 Trade fairs are catalysts for business

Complete and effective tools to boost business, trade shows often serve as business generators. According to Unimev, 84% of companies develop their turnover through their participation in an exhibition. A quarter of it is generated during the event and three quarters in the following months, which means actively preparing for its participation. In some cases, the fairs also serve to mediate contracts concluded during the year, and thus to play on the company’s image. Finally, fairs are often gateways to international markets. According to the estimates of Unimev, exhibiting companies realize one third of their turnover with foreign customers.

#2 Participation in a trade show contributes to the company’s image

Professional or public events are formidable communication tools for companies. These strong times make it possible to publicize its offer or product while exploring new customers. “As soon as I attend a trade show, I am recognized as an expert in the field,” says Eric Van Gelderen, Sales Manager for Disney Business Solutions. For example, we welcome IT Partner, one of the emblematic trade fairs in the information and new technologies sector. Participating in this event is a sign of awareness for companies in the sector.” “The best illustration of this phenomenon is that companies return, every year attendance increases,” says Céline Distinguin, event manager for Disney Business Solutions.

#3 … and makes it possible to be part of an ecosystem

Maintaining its network, forging new partnerships and even monitoring its market, there are many advantages to being part of an ecosystem. In addition to the business issue, these events are also an opportunity to engage teams internally. As noted by Eric Van Gelderen, the fairs also allow to train all his staff in one time, by delivering a single communication, a strong message to mobilize people. Distribution or service companies organize their major professional events in our event spaces on an annual basis.” What are you waiting for?

Source: Figures for the business line of the event, UNIMEV, 2018