Monday, 28th July 2008

“It spins, dude!” Changes to Crush’s entrance

It’s safe to say that Crush’s Coaster is now the Peter Pan’s Flight of the Studios. The universally-popular attraction with the low capacity that everyone knows they have to ride. Only… for Crush’s Coaster, there’s a different element in there — the element of thrill.

Anyone who followed the project from its conception in 2005 will know that, for a very long time, the attraction was officially known as Crush’s Turtle Twister. A name that, whilst keeping some of the mystery about exactly what type of ride this is, spelled out the rather thrilling twisting — spinning — nature very clear.

With this later changed to the easier-to-pronounce and more understandable Crush’s Coaster, plus the Imagineer’s decision to keep the turtle shells from spinning until they reach the real coaster section inside, rather than during the outside drop, and some guests might be a little surprised. Only the most cautious English and French speaking guests who read the warning signs in full would know about the real free-spinning nature of the turtle shells.

Just last month, then, Crush’s Coaster saw its first “major” (though still relatively minor) changes since opening one year ago. Outside the entrance, where previously on the right you’d find two warning signs and the queue time indicator pointing toward Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, you now find that the waiting time sits on a single wooden pier stump and points more toward Animagique and the Flying Carpets — the direction in which the queue extends into on most days.

In addition, the queue time displayed on the counter is now accurate — previously, it would cap at about 45 minutes and the Cast Members would need to put a temporary board at the entrance to the extended queue, since it usually extends way beyond the area the Imagineers built.

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Before / After

Next to this is a brand new feature — a scale model of one of the turtle shells themselves, filled with four miniature guests, that constantly spins and turns on an axis to shout loud and clear — “It spins, dude!”. The shell is rather larger in real life than it appears in pictures, and actually serves to add a nice bit of kinetics to the otherwise static entrance.


You can see a brief videoclip of the shell in action here.

On the other, left, side of the entrance path, the original Crush figure and main entrance sign remains the same, though a second new warnings board has been installed toward the so-called Flying Carpets “Oasis” — now permanently a queue space for Crush’s Coaster.

Will the spinning shell put a few people off from riding who might not enjoy the experience? If it doesn’t, the Imagineers have also come up with another new addition just as you step inside Studio 5.

Watch it for yourself:

The video works in the same way as that at Space Mountain: Mission 2, playing on a loop in French and then English with clips cleverly cut from the film to not only introduce the very thrilling nature of the ride but also what it is meant to simulate, for anyone who has forgotten the film.

The female voice in English actually appears to be the familiar sound of one of the resort’s main parade announcers, albeit with a good attempt at a faux Australian accent to fit the theme.

[Pictures: DLRP Magiques; Video: DLRP]

Sunday, 27th July 2008

True love? The Enchanted Fireworks in video

Great choreography, great music, great colours, great projections… and a lot of loud, impressive fireworks. Is there anything at all to complain about with Disneyland Park’s new nighttime spectacular? It seems to have the perfect recipe for the end to a Disneyland day.

Going completely against the usual tide of events — particularly in this touchy subject of fireworks at the restricted Paris resort — The Enchanted Fireworks seem to be pretty much loved all over. Beyond the online fan forums, wait around in the park after the show has ended and you’ll hear comments like “…what a great finale…”, “…that was perfect…” and “…really amazing…” from just regular guests.

It’s an all-round success story for the park.

Now, take a closer look at the love story in a brand new video:

Our friends at Photos Magiques have also captured some spectacular photos from the show:

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The show certainly appears much bigger than fireworks of recent years, so are you wondering how much it costs to put on? Well, we can tell you: €400,000 for the entire run. That would work out at roughly €7,143 per night over the 56 nights.

This figure comes from the French television programme ‘Combien ça coute?’ which goes around the country discovering, well, exactly that… how much stuff costs. They previously featured the entire resort a couple of years ago in a theme park special, and have just returned to the park to film a few shots of the fireworks preparations and tests. You can see the interesting video clip below:

The size of this show can also be seen by the park’s routine of closures prior to 10pm each night. Whilst previous displays called for only Fantasyland to close at 10pm, since the roofs of the restaurants and dark rides here are used to launch the shells, the new display is also requiring the closure of much of Adventureland at 10pm.

But you can’t complain — there have to be a few sacrifices in any love story.

[Pictures: Photos Magiques (more); Video: DLRP Magic! Video;]

Thursday, 24th July 2008

Modest gains in Third Quarter results as Fiscal Year 2008 holds strong

The financial year of 2008 thus far has been nothing short of a fairytale success. For the nine months ended 30th June 2008, overall revenues increased an impressive 12% on the same period last year.

Revenues for the Third Quarter itself rose only 3%, however, which, despite the displacement of the important Easter Holiday compared to the 2007 results, could suggest that the resort is having to work hard this Summer to pushing itself beyond the record achievements made last year.

Here are the main points of this announcement, which does not include exact numbers for statistics such as park attendance, accumulating all the figures so far for the past nine months:

‘¢ Overall revenues for the nine months ended June 30, 2008 increased 12% to € 937.4 million from € 834.3 million in the prior-year period.

‘¢ Theme parks revenues increased 13% to € 498.4 million from € 443.0 million in the prior-year period, driven by increases in attendance and average spending per guest.

‘¢ Hotels and Disney Village revenues increased 10% to € 371.4 million from € 338.0 million in the prior-year period, primarily driven by increases in average spending per room and hotel occupancy.

‘¢ Real estate revenues increased € 16.8 million from the prior-year period to € 25.6 million, principally resulting from € 12.5 million of revenue related to the first quarter 2008 sale of a property in Val d’Europe which had been subject to a long term ground lease.

‘¢ Revenues for the Third Quarter increased 3% to € 331.9 million despite the shift of the Easter Holiday in some of our key markets from April in the prior-year period to March in the current-year period.

Commenting on the results, Karl L. Holz, Chief Executive Officer of Euro Disney S.A.S, said:

“We are pleased with our continued solid results through the Third Quarter, as we move into the peak summer season. The Celebration Continues… Big Time!, particularly as our guests respond positively to our new offerings in the Walt Disney Studios Park. Our guests are enjoying the thrills of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the magic of an interactive experience with a favorite Disney character in Stitch Live!. High School Musical 2 is also creating emotional connections through high energy performances and sing-along dance routines.

Our teams are fully mobilized to provide a high-quality guest experience through a combination of new services, iconic attractions and immersive entertainment that only Disney can create.”

So, how are things looking? Overall, very good indeed. There are no horror stories here or any reports which might make a shareholder nervous for the full Annual Report in November. The waters are calm, the course steady. Euro Disney SCA’s position is getting ever stronger.

With the displacement of the Easter Holiday this year to the second quarter, however, it is hard to gauge exactly how well the resort is still growing. An overall gain of just 3% in revenues compared to the same period last year does on first glance seem rather worrying considering the vast expenditure just made to build and promote an attraction as large as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, especially when you consider park attendance itself increased just 1% in the three months.

Worrying on one hand, yes, but on the other, it is still a gain — and a gain compared to the record 14.5 million visitors of last year at that. The resort is well on course to post a brand new (if only very modestly higher) visitor record in its Annual Report for 2008. Compared to the launch of Walt Disney Studios Park in 2002, which brought only a tiny attendance growth and a severe drop-off the next year, this at least proves that the incremental series of investments and relaunch of the destination for its 15th Anniversary was well-formulated and has good staying power.

The record achievements of last year will be hard to build upon in a big way so quickly, true, but they weren’t a flash in the pan — that’s the most important thing.

— You can see the full report as a PDF download here.

— Find our previous report on the First Half 2008 results here.

Tuesday, 22nd July 2008

Café Cafés unveils its new logo logo

Sometimes these days, you really think you’re seeing things at Walt Disney Studios Park. You have to look twice. A 75-minute wait for Flying Carpets Over Agrabah? The billboard finally removed from Disney Studio 1?

Over in Production Courtyard, however, Nescafé’s new signage for its ‘Café Cafés‘ …err… café really will make you do a double-take. Installed just last week, it arrived just days after fans were wondering whether the old signage above the location, reading ‘Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant’ would confuse guests into thinking that this small new coffee stand is infact that restaurant.

Problem solved — replaced by Café Cafés!


Though the name itself is perhaps somewhat strange for a location that borders so closely on the park’s “Hollywood” area — and indeed may become part of it in the future, the signage has clearly been designed with a few quirks of the building’s art deco style in mind. The rounded letters, stylised drawings and old-fashioned white supports all lend it a good overall style.

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Now, fans may suggest, the ‘Chef Rémy’ sign for the restaurant next door should be moved or removed to avoid clashing with the new signage below.

Inside the semi-circular area still surrounded by construction fences, countless wires hang from the ceiling and work continues throughout the week. It is as yet unknown whether guests will be able to walk inside this area to order, or what kind of seating — if any — will be provided.

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The new refreshments stand is due to open in August, as listed on the latest park guide. The guide also gives an interesting clue about its products. We’re used only to small paper cups of Nescafé, perhaps with a squirt of cream on top, around the parks. If this listing is anything to go by, however, Café Cafés will be the first location to sell flavoured coffees.

[Pictures: DLRP Today, Photos Magiques]

Tuesday, 22nd July 2008

Waiting game at Studio Tram Tour goes electronic

Since the attraction, full name Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic, said goodbye to its billboard-style entrance façade last year and welcomed a new fully-themed Hollywood hills tunnel entrance, it has been completely without the electronic wait time sign that can be found at almost every other attraction.

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Now, as a final touch to the Hollywood Boulevard project, the small planter to the right of the tunnel has been fitted with a bright yellow, diamond-shaped roadsign to display exactly how long you’ll have to wait for your date with Jeremy Irons.

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Currently, it has yet to be fully-functional, the old magnetic board by its side still in use, but it shouldn’t be too long before it begins posting up those lengthy 5 and 10 minute queues…

[Pictures: DLRP Today]

Monday, 21st July 2008

Bastille Day ’08 fireworks in pictures and video

Skies were blue, flowers in bloom, attractions running well and crowds relatively light… it was a perfect day to celebrate the host country of our European Disney resort.

Bastille Day 2008 once again saw Disneyland Resort Paris pull out its regular music for a spectacular “feux d’artifice” over Le Château de Belle au Bois Dormant, but, as the show director Christophe Leclercq had promised, things were a little different this year. The resort’s new fireworks partner brought in new designs, new styles and new bursts to light up the sky.


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There were certainly hints of the regular Enchanted Fireworks in there, but also rare sights at Disneyland Resort Paris such as “shape” fireworks — giant red hearts bursting into the sky.

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Before the fireworks began, fans would smile at the fact that even Disney sometimes make a little mistake. As the crowds milled around after Fantillusion, an announcement proclaimed “You will soon have the pleasure of discovering Candleabration followed by The Enchanted Fireworks”. Several minutes later, the announcement was swiftly repeated with the correct “followed by a special 14th July fireworks” line.


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Candleabration itself would also present a little surprise. Whilst the show was still effectively cut-down considerably in line with its other performances this Summer, serving only as a lead-in to the fireworks, this night saw a second new version with an added finale of ‘Just Like We Dreamed It’ (itself abridged) as just Mickey and Minnie danced on-stage.

Candleabration (Bastille Day 2008 Edition)

Luckily, the earlier announcement mix-up did not extend to the fireworks themselves, which went ahead swiftly and without a single fault. Compared to the incredibly muddled recent attempts for New Year’s Eve (using unknown and out-of-place rock songs from the Narnia “inspired by” soundtrack, for example), Bastille Day once again proved to be the resort’s best night for a truly spectacular fireworks display…

Bastille Day Fireworks 2008

You can find more photos of the show at Photos Magiques here.

[Pictures: Photos Magiques; Video: DLRP Magic! Video]

Monday, 21st July 2008

La Bougillumination abrégée

The trumpets begin their fanfare, Mickey Mouse arrives. Then, before you know it, the candles are illuminated and we’re getting the cutesy “oh Mickey, c’est magnifique” line from Minnie. Don’t worry, you haven’t just passed out and missed several minutes of your Disneyland Resort Paris holiday — Candleabration has now been abridged.

Since the start of the 15th Anniversary, the nightly ceremony has begun with a fanfare of trumpets, led into the dancing flags to the theme of “Flying”, then, only after the arrival of Mickey Mouse and his traditional French dance with a hat to Vasile Sirli’s “Proudlights”, would you see the castle illuminated. For a grand finale, all of Disney VIPs join the party and dance along to the theme song ‘Just Like We Dreamed It’, each playing their own instrument.

When The Enchanted Fireworks premiered a couple of weeks ago, however, the show was cut down to its shortest running time yet — just over 2 minutes, and that if we’re generous. Only Mickey and Minnie appear, illuminating the candles together and then going right ahead to personally introduce the fireworks.

However, this change didn’t bring about the expected appearance of Mickey and Minnie on the balcony of Sleeping Beauty Castle itself, as confirmed on DLRP by the show’s actual director, Christophe Leclercq, several weeks earlier. Instead, they appear on the regular Central Plaza Stage. The reason for the last-minute change is unconfirmed — perhaps it caused operational problems, perhaps the characters simply couldn’t be seen as easily, the scene didn’t work as well.

DLRP presents a brand new video of the new Candleabration, Summer 2008 Edition:

It seems unsure whether the show will return to its regular form when the fireworks come to a close at the end of August. Several entertainment Cast Members spoke about these changes as a “new version” of Candleabration, suggesting they are permanent revisions and not temporary allowances just for the fireworks. As always, watch this space…

[Pictures/Video: DLRP Today]

Sunday, 20th July 2008

Studio 1: Returned to glory, by a billboard?

In our last report on the iconic entrance building’s plight, we discovered scaffolding climbing up its façade again. Not for a new billboard, we believed, but for a long-awaited refurbishment. Correct! What we would not have expected, for a building treated so badly by Euro Disney SCA over the past five years, would be a brand new –temporary — covering for the building.


A huge fabric/tarpaulin covering, hiding the scaffolding completely, decorated with a huge image of the building itself. See it from a distance, and you can’t even tell it’s there — Disney Studio 1 looks as if it’s back to its glory days already!

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As you get closer to the park, the effect of removing the second ‘Cars’ billboard truly becomes apparent. For the first time in years, we see beautiful reflections in the glass at the front of the building and the entire Place des Frères Lumière finally once again feels like the extravagant, beautiful, sunny entrance plaza to a true Disney theme park it should be.

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But wait — it gets better. Around the back of the building, we can spy a match-up we’ve been waiting years to see. The façade of Disney Studio 1… and a “Wet Paint” sign!

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The turquoise/green doors and ‘Studio 1’ signs were repainted here last week. There’s currently no word whether the huge wall of scaffolding might also move around here to repaint the arguably much worse-looking walls above, but let’s hope so.


To decorate the giant soundstage — at the time of construction, the largest in Europe — with a huge temporary façade during its refurbishment obviously shows that this first image guests receive as they step through the turnstiles is indeed very important. The same way Fantasia Gardens is a beautiful and inviting entrance to Disneyland Park, designed by the Imagineers because of their realisation that Europeans liked to be enchanted a little before parting with their money, Front Lot should be a glossy and relatively commercial-free area.

So, let’s keep it this way, please. No more billboards!

[Photos: DLRP Today]

Sunday, 6th July 2008

2 Parks, 1 Plan – Meet the new, single park map

Some might say it’s a way to save paper. Others might say it’s to coax more people across to the Studios. The more romantic might even say the “love” theme of The Enchanted Fireworks brought them together at last.

In fact, several months in the planning and design, yesterday saw the launch of a brand new park map ready for the Summer season. As expected for a while now, big changes lie in store for us. There are no more “Little Park Guides” and no more blue or pink covers. No longer will each park have its own, unique leaflet to guide you around.

Meet the new… Plan des Parcs. Two park maps… in one.


The pocket size of recent years is ditched in favour of a size more similar to the maps pre-2003, a regular leaflet size, which folds out across five sheets horizontally and double the size vertically. This seems like a big park guide, but then it does need to cover two entire Disney Parks:


It’s a landmark day for Disney theme parks, the first time two parks have ever shared the same plan. But why? Well, imagine this scene…

You’re visiting Disneyland Resort Paris just for one day. Naturally, you pick Disneyland Park to spend all your time in and stroll straight past the entrance to the Studios. What’s in there? No idea. As you pass through the turnstiles and pick up your map, you get a full guide to Disneyland Park, and nothing more. That other park across the way looked like nothing more than a series of giant yellow buildings — there’s no way of really knowing what lies beyond the imposing Disney Studio 1. You can’t be blamed for missing such top-rated classics as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, CinéMagique or Crush’s Coaster.

Now, with the two maps in one, a visitor just stopping by at Disneyland Park opens their map to find a whole new park at the top, with plenty of rather interesting sights. Attractions themed to new films like Cars and Finding Nemo, not to mention truly special experiences like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Stitch Live!. You’d want to hop over and check it out, wouldn’t you?

Rather than keeping visitors in the dark about what lies within the park next door, it does indeed make much more sense to advertise it to all, make the most of its great guest satisfaction scores.

Are there bad points? Sure. Beyond the fact that converging the parks like this might make their individuality a little less special, the new design has for some reason completely dropped the descriptions for some of the major attractions. How are first-time visitors really meant to know what happens in Pirates of the Caribbean, Phantom Manor or Art of Disney Animation? The restaurant listing also exposes a real horror for Walt Disney Studios Park‘s dining, listing its limited number of eateries in one category, alongside entire lands at Disneyland Park.

The good points and the positive effect this double park plan should have on guests’ awareness of the two, separate parks, especially now Walt Disney Studios Park has some top-notch themeing along with great attractions, will far outweigh any niggling negatives. Last month we consolidated our two cumbersome Entertainment Programmes into a single, simpler leaflet, and now we only have a single park map to carry around.

Not that we need a map to find our way around Disneyland Resort Paris, of course, but we still have that collection to think of…

[Photo credit: Mouetto, Disney Central Plaza forum]

Sunday, 6th July 2008

First impressions of The Enchanted Fireworks!

The show begins to the opening strings of True Love’s Kiss, the announcement asking: “Are you dreaming of the beauty, the passion of one true love?” It continues “Reach out… and let yourself be… Enchanted. Reach out, and you will find a very happy end.”

Then, as the music kicks in, you hear “Once upon a time…” and spotlights shine up and down Sleeping Beauty Castle as a rainbow of fireworks fan inwards and outwards from either side. The music shifts straight into the Enchanted Suite we’ve all been expecting, and The Enchanted Fireworks have begun!

Red rockets, white flames, showers of pixie dust, sparkling stars and great, golden cauliflowers that fill the entire sky lie ahead. The slow romantic number So Close, left in the mix despite many fans’ worries about its speed, surprises with a burst of slow, swooping colours that time perfectly with the single piano notes, creating a dreamy, romantic moment… like when you meet that special someone and the whole world seems to run in slow motion.

Brilliant bursts of gold and blue follow, tinted with red rockets, fanning outwards, filling the sky with massive sparks as the “love” blossoms and explodes. As the music reaches its finale with the notes from That’s How You Know, the sky suddenly clears except for the four bright spotlights. Into the climax, single white rockets fire upwards at angles and, to end, a single burst from either side of the Castle, as tall as its highest spire.

But wait… the show hasn’t ended! One of the biggest, most spectacular finales of a regular daily fireworks show at the park suddenly begins, shooting hundreds of white bursts, brilliant sparkling fans and screaming rockets into the sky, just when you thought the Happy Ending had already been reached.

And here it is, the very first video!

Did that false ending fool you too? also has a selection of photos from the show, which make many of the projection and lighting effects much clearer to see:

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Clearly, the new relationship with a fresh fireworks partner has brought a great deal of innovation and excitement to this show when compared with recent displays in the past, presenting a seemingly never-ending line of different firework colours and styles, many never seen at the park before. All that, coupled with simple, effective projections that completely stray away from the basic animations of Wishes (such as Aladdin on a magic carpet) criticised for being too “Microsoft Powerpoint”. The new lighting effects also add a powerful tone, yet softer than the green lasers of that previous show.

As we reported recently following our exclusive interview with the director of the fireworks Christophe Leclercq, the show is actually coupled right onto the regular Candleabration ceremony. One surprise for many at the premiere last night was just how much Candleabration had changed for the Summer season, cutting itself down to just a few minutes to illuminate the candles with no preceding flags or ‘Just Like We Dreamed It’.

In addition, and proving just how much things can change at the last minute at Disneyland Resort Paris, the promised positioning of Mickey and Minnie on the front balcony of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, as confirmed even by the director, failed to happen. The couple instead conducted Candleabration and the introduction to the fireworks from the regular Central Plaza Stage. Whether this was a temporary measure due to technical issues on the first night or the plans have been cut completely remains to be seen.

The fireworks themselves, however, truly live up to their name. The next 56 Summer nights will be just as Enchanted as we hoped.

[Photos: (more); Video: Celli0905, YouTube]

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