Tuesday, 11th September 2007

Halloween festival launches to the power of 15

When Stitch joined the Halloween festivities in 2006, it marked a turn towards a more “Disney” and “childish” theme for the festival, with fewer of Disneyland Park‘s unique Pumpkin Men and more classic Disney characters dressed up for trick or treating. This was joined with a shift back to the older Mickey Mouse pumpkin logo for the event rather than the darker, and less “Disney”, 2005 version.

This year, as Halloween goes “to the power of 15”, the logo is very familiar. The Disneyland15 logo has simply been given three simple silhouettes of bats, and for Christmas season the same simple idea will follow. Certainly, one thing the old season logos always missed were the words “Disneyland” and “Paris”

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You might have already noticed the logo on the new online advertising banners which officially launched today for Disneyland Resort Paris’ affiliate network…

Halloween banner

Or, failing that, a visit to the official Disneyland Resort Paris website in the past few days will not have allowed you to miss the strong Halloween promotions now going on. In addition to links in the “What’s New?” section and on the sidebar, the actual main logo of the website has been completely altered to take on a Halloween theme. All this, to lead visitors to the brand new Halloween mini-site, now launched at the annual www.magichalloween.com address.

Let’s take a look…

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The website is open to an unusual mixture of countries, including Switzerland and Ireland now with
their own sections — Ireland in particular has seen a small surge to the magic recently.

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Choosing your country sends Stitch flying towards the Castle, before you find
yourself in a haunted house with Stitch at the door — “trick or treat?”

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Opening the front door to the masked creature (is this a good message for children?) sends him
spinning monstrously into the room, before leading you to the Halloween events at Disneyland…

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A welcome screen introduces the Halloween events effectively.

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The main screen is set in Frontierland, with Stitch climbing into a mine cart. With Main Street filled
with Lumiere’s 15th events, will the Far West become the true Halloween homeland again?

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“Create your own scary face” lets you do just that, with a nice silhouette of Big Thunder in the
background. The build of the website is very similar in style to the main 15th Anniversary website, an
equally, if not even more, professional.

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The “Halloween Festival” tab leads to general information and photos for the season. Nothing
particularly new is mentioned other than that featured in the recent press release.

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The 31st October Halloween Party (which requires an extra ticket) gets a much more prominent section this year, equal in size to the main festival information and with much to tempt a visit.
Particularly — absolutely no mention of a “Ghost Ship Cavalcade.”

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Main Street is used at the backdrop of the Halloween party. The website also features wallpapers
and a screensaver, information about Kids Under 7 Free and an online game to become the
“Halloween Champion”, though apparently no mention of the actual prize.

Whilst most of the photos used throughout the website are taken from previous Halloween events (largely the 2006 season), a couple of new photos have been produced already this year, seeming to give an impression of the Disney Villains’ Halloween Showtime

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However, the true event is expected to take place in daytime, finally bringing the Central Plaza stage to life without having to wait for darkness to fall. The villains are expected to make way completely for Candleabration (and Disney Characters’ Express, it would appear) to continue as normal throughout the festival.

Overall, a very promising launch campaign for this years Halloween festivities, don’t you think?

Whilst the emphasis on the 15th Anniversary might have left the traditional Halloween events by the wayside, they seem to be planning an event stronger than any year before — that’s the power of 15.

Wednesday, 5th September 2007

High School Musical On (an extended) Tour

The brilliant thing about a company like Disney with many different entities so closely tied is that, when one area has great success, this success can than be easily spread to the other areas. High School Musical has not only been a big hit for Disney Channel, merchandise (Consumer Products) and Home Entertainment — three of Disney’s theme park resorts have enjoyed capitalising on the TV movie’s vast cult following with similar success.

For Walt Disney Studios Park, already boosted by the huge impact of Toon Studio, High School Musical On Tour has been a huge hit with guests since its premiere 16th June 2007. The talented cast of dancers and singers immediately won their fans, drawing large crowds, many repeat viewings and superb guest feedback.

The show has certainly been a factor in the two parks suddenly appearing slightly more “balanced” in their offerings this Summer, the Studios now seen by more guests than before as a viable, separate park which should command more time during their visit. You’d almost be able to see the huge, smug grin across the face of Disney Studio 1, if it weren’t for that billboard in the way…

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It comes as no surprise, then, that management want this “golden age” for Walt Disney Studios Park to continue beyond the end of the Summer season, 26th August 2007. High School Musical On Tour has now been confirmed to run until 14th October 2007.

Fewer performances will be presented each day, no shows will be presented on Mondays or Tuesdays and new cast will join to replace those whose Summer contract has ended, but continuing such an immense hit until mid-Halloween should prove incredibly popular. You can find showtimes for this extended run here.

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Crucially, the show will bring life to the Production Courtyard area of the park which otherwise only currently features CinéMagique to entertain guests whilst Hollywood Boulevard and Stitch continue their development. This is the first time a seasonal show at the park has been continued outside of the main Summer season.

High School Musical On Tour will also definitely return in 2008 following its Winter break, to be pushed by Disneyland Resort Paris in brochures and advertisements as strongly as their key 15th Anniversary ceremony at Disneyland Park, Candleabration.

It seems Karl Holz is the latest recruit on the Wildcats’ team.

» You can now find a full video of High School Musical On Tour at DLRP Magic! Video.

Wednesday, 5th September 2007

Alpha Bet You Are going to miss us, aren’t you?

Alpha Bet You Are began on 31st March 2007 with the rest of the 15th Anniversary launch events, featuring new music remixing Disney classics with the vocal talents of children from the surrounding region. Directed by Emmanuel Lenormand, it was designed as a new “welcome” and introduction to the park for guests, though for much of the Summer season heavy guest flow has pushed it back to early afternoon performances.

Now, after over 500 performances, the letters reach their final finale at the end of this month.

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Curiously, performance times for the event are no longer listed in the latest online schedules of the official website as before, but the final performance is still confirmed to be 30th September 2007, clearing the way for the Halloween events due to begin next month. With Christmas then taking over the schedules for a further two months, it could be that Alpha Bet You Are is simply taking a seasonal break. However, no return for the 2008 months of 15th Anniversary celebrations has yet been confirmed.

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Don’t begin to think this “hiatus” is due to poor guest reaction to the quirky cavalcade, oh no. If the insider words of several magicforum members can be trusted, Alpha Bet You Are regularly charts higher even than Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade in the so-called “guest satisfaction” surveys.

But, as now officially the first 15th Anniversary event to come to an end, we say a fond farewell. If past anniversary events are remembered for their more controversial castle overlays and events, you never know what the icons of the 15th will be in years to come…

You can find a full guide to the production including music and behind-the-scenes information here, an archive of previous DLRP Today articles about the event here or a full video of Alpha Bet You Are here.

Friday, 10th August 2007

Disney’s Hollywood Studios and what it means to Paris

The agreement with MGM began back in 1986 as Michael Eisner’s new management sought after more “adult” properties for the park Disney hoped would beat Universal Studios’ Florida outpost.

On 1st May 1989, Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park opened its gates in Orlando, Florida, the third theme park at Walt Disney World Resort. Since then, fans have long used the ‘MGM’ tag to refer to the park, but not for much longer…

The troubles began way back in the 1990s, as MGM became unhappy with Disney’s use of the name and Disney became unhappy with MGM’s use of the name for casinos, hotels and a small theme park in Las Vegas. The news of a name change has been expected for years… but did fans expect this? Not a hint of ‘Pixar’ in sight, a possible sign that the park will return to its purely Hollywood roots…

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Disney-MGM Studios name to be put to rest January 2008

The press release from late yesterday:

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Aug. 9, 2007) — In the Walt Disney World theme park famous for all things Hollywood, it’s curtain up on the launch of new attractions, new looks, new breakthrough experiences…

…and a brand-new name.

Disney-MGM Studios will be renamed Disney’s Hollywood Studios, effective January 2008, announced Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort.

“The new name reflects how the park has grown from representing the golden age of movies to a celebration of the new entertainment that today’s Hollywood has to offer — in music, television, movies and theater,” she said.

Framed by the park’s supporting cast of classic Hollywood architecture are shows and attractions straight from contemporary Hollywood, such as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, “Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show” and many more. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is also the place to meet favorite character stars of today including Lightning McQueen and Mater from Disney-Pixar’s “Cars,” Power Rangers and Little Einsteins.

With exciting coming attractions and experiences, the best and brightest of Hollywood is about to emerge for park guests, Crofton said.

“As Disney continues to grow and invest in our family entertainment business, we constantly explore new ways to deliver high-quality, immersive experiences for our guests,” she added. “As a park all about entertainment, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will deliver like never before. Now we can say that Hollywood is literally our middle name.”

Initial reaction from a Paris perspective: relief.

The ‘Disney-Pixar Studios’ name was always the favourite (or rather the “most likely”) amongst most followers, but there was always the off-chance that Disney-MGM could become something along the lines of ‘Walt Disney Studios Florida’, casting our much-loved little park in Paris into the shadows, in the eyes of the public nothing more than an offshoot from the older brother.

Luckily, that hasn’t happened. The park in Florida stays true to its “Hollywood that never was” roots and the fast-growing park in Paris can stand on its own two feet, still the only park with Walt Disney’s name on it… whether its critics like that or not.

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Still the one and only Walt Disney Studios Park

The release goes on to confirm several new attractions for the park — ‘Toy Story Mania!’, ‘Block Party Bash’, a new ‘Playhouse Disney-Live on Stage!’, ‘Disney’s High School Musical 2: School’s Out!’ show and ‘Handy Manny’ meet ‘n’ greets. Obviously having exclamation marks at the end of names will be a new criteria for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Ever confident and superlative of their offerings, Walt Disney World announce this line-up as “one of the most ambitious attractions rollouts in the 18-year history of the park.”

‘Toy Story Mania!’ has been anticipated for a long time to be the attraction to launch the new park name, but not confirmed until right now is the second new offering — Block Party Bash. The high-energy parade from Disney’s California Aventure park coming to Florida means that the old 2002 Disney Stars and Motor Cars parade finally jumps ship…

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Disney Stars and Motor Cars freed up for Paris?

…and if you remember the rumours on magicforum or our article from March, you’ll know where rumour says it will wash up. Yes, our very own Walt Disney Studios Park. The news today that its five-year run at Disney-MGM Studios will come to an end in Spring 2008 fits perfectly with the rumours that it could premiere in Paris ready for the first summer of Hollywood Boulevard and a slightly extended 15th Anniversary Celebration.

Is that really likely to happen? Visit Disneyland Resort Paris tomorrow and watch the current parade, Disney Cinema Parade. A little later, hop over to Disneyland Park and catch the new Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade — the difference is quite shocking, don’t you think? For all its charm and interesting avant-garde designs, Disney Cinema Parade is, after over five years of daily “lights, camera, action!”, tired and ready for replacement — especially next to the dazzling show on offer next door.

A brand new parade on the scale and budget of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade is out of the question, so the park would be a fool not to pick up the Stars and Motor Cars to celebrate its very own new Hollywood, don’t you think?

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“Walt Disney Studios: More than just Hollywood”

So, as it works out, Disney’s Hollywood Studios could mean very good things for Paris’ Walt Disney Studios Park. A new parade, it’s own identity. Good things at least… so far.

Yes, the shadow being cast over this “good news” for Walt Disney Studios Park is that several online news sources continue to push Crush’s Coaster as a possible new attraction for the new ‘Pixar Place’ area of the park, next to ‘Toy Story Mania!’.

Kevin Yee mentions it as a rumour in every ‘Rumour Rundown’ article on MiceAge.com and today Jim Hill even spoke of Pixar Place as the area that will “play host to the studio theme park’s ‘Toy Story Mania’ attraction as well as the soon-to-be-announced stateside version of ‘Crush’s Coaster‘.”

Crush’s Coaster, “soon-to-be-announced” for Disney-MGM Studios? The bright blue showbuilding and its wacky blue rockwork don’t seem like an instant match for the more serious Florida studio, not to mention this would give Walt Disney World its third consecutive Nemo-based attraction at a third different park (after The Musical at Animal Kingdom and The Seas at Epcot).

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Haven’t folks in Orlando had enough ‘Nemo’ yet?

It’s no secret that Crush’s Coaster was built on a fairly tight budget for Paris, so a second version in Florida could end up teasing unlucky fans in Paris with enhanced effects. Even if the attraction arrived in Florida in identical form, it would mean Walt Disney Studios Park losing a unique attraction, one which has finally helped to edge it onto the Disney map in a very positive way.

Hopefully rumour of Crush’s Coaster in Florida will go the same way as the ‘Disney-Pixar Studios’ name… to a Hollywood that truly “never was”.

Photos and logos © Disney.

Friday, 3rd August 2007

Ratatouille infests cinemas, nibbles on tasty tie-ins

Since around the release of Chicken Little in 2005, Disneyland Resort Paris finally got back into some good cross-promotion with Disney’s movie releases. No doubt many fans’ earliest memories of “EuroDisney” come from the countless advertisements placed before films on Disney’s VHS releases of the early ’90s, and now a whole new generation is discovering the resort at its 15th Anniversary with Pixar’s latest smash-hit CGI tale.

Ratatouille is, according to Disney, “the best reviewed film of the Summer”. That’s not just marketing talk – on reviews database Rotten Tomatoes, it currently counts 158 positive reviews against just 6 negative, giving an overall score of 96% fresh and right up there with the best of Pixar’s greats.

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“The characters are irresistible, the animation is astonishing and the film, a fantasy version of a foodie rhapsody, sustains a level of joyous invention that hasn’t been seen in family entertainment since The Incredibles,” says the Wall Street Journal.

“In this Michelin-starred confection, Brad Bird deserves an Oscar,” raves The Observer. Luckily for Disney (and the $ 7.4 billion hole in their pocket), it appears the studio may never make a bad film.

We know the two lead characters – Rémy and Émile – have been frequenting Toon Studio since late June, and now Disneyland Resort Paris have cooked up some promotion to make the most of the characters — afterall, where else on this continent can you meet the Pixar stars? No doubt the film’s location of a glowing, saccharine Paris will also play well to draw more eyes to the Disneyland just a few miles East…

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On the official website, you can now find a special page with a surprising amount of photos (something Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally still lack) showing the furry pair of rats in front of their new photo location in Toon Studio. Of the international websites for the Ratatouille movie itself, the Dutch and English versions provide partner links to this page on Disneylandparis.com, as has been the case for recent releases such as Cars. The Dutch link, however, is unfortunately presenting a page error. Still, it’s an effort.

The characters themselves, despite being completely Pixar-produced, are 100% Disney. This is actually the first time Pixar have produced furry, hugable animal characters, and no doubt these two will be around for years to come…

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What other treats, beyond a hug from Rémy and Émile? Well, if you’re a Shareholder or an Annual Passport Dream holder, you’re invited to a special, free screening of the film in Walt Disney Studios Park‘s CinéMagique theatre!

As has become the norm for every big animated Disney release, the park’s Disney Studio 2 will opens its doors after-hours for a private screening of the new film. The Annual Passport Dream showing takes place on 25th August 2007, though no doubt this will come as news to almost every passholder unless they’ve stopped by the Bureau Passeport Annuel recently and spotted the form. Apparently you’re not alone if you never received any notification via email or through the post.

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Registration closes on 6th August, so if you’d like to fill one of the limited spaces available for the single screening (the theatre’s capacity is 1,100), you’d better… well, we’re not sure. They don’t seem to want anyone to go. The only spotting of the registration form is thanks to a member on Disney Central Plaza.

More successful, as always, is the Shareholders Club. Here you’ll find a proper online sign-up (click here) ready and waiting for your membership details and seat reservation for one of two screenings — Saturday 8th September 2007 or Sunday 9th September 2007, both beginning at 7pm. However, unlike several film screenings in the past, Ratatouille will be presented exclusively in French.

“We invite you to improve your French thanks to a screening in French version only (without any subtitles),” they boast. Well then, throw away your phrasebook!

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Ratatouille is now showing in cinemas across France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Austria since today. After a little time to mature, the fine French delicacy à la Pixar will arrive in Germany on 3rd October and the UK on 12th October.

Images © Disney/Pixar; by Photos Magiques and by Minnie Mouse on DCP.

Tuesday, 31st July 2007

‘Spooktacular’ Halloween for the 15th Anniversary

From the first days of the 15th Anniversary, fans have been asking what will happen during the annual Halloween and Christmas events. Recent weeks have presented rumours such as a new daytime show on the Candleabration stage and even the return of Disney Villain Parade! Trick or treat?

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The English press release reads as follows:

A SPOOKTACULAR HALLOWEEN FOR DISNEYLAND PARIS’ 15TH BIRTHDAY

From 6th October to 4th November 2007, a spooktacular Halloween season comes to Disneyland Resort Paris, offering laughs and mischief for all the family

With the help of Classic Disney Villains, Frontierland in the Disneyland Park transforms into Halloweenland. Cruella de Vil and Captain Hook will take over the park, creating a spooky setting for Halloween mischief and mayhem. There will be tricks and treats galore with the spooky season’s special guests, the high energy Pumpkin Men and Pink Witches, who are sure to entertain kids of all ages at the daily Disney Villains’ Halloween Showtime.

There are regular daily shows on the Halloween stage in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle. Goofy and the Magic Pot is an exhilarating, energetic show where children can learn to make pumpkin soup and dance alongside Goofy himself! Minnie and the Bat Boys will also be appearing on stage daily, with live music and a host of other Disney characters singing classic Disney Villain’s songs.

Kids can join in the fun as favourite Disney monster Stitch, from the ‘˜Lilo and Stitch’ Disney animation film, wreaks havoc across the park and takes over the 15th Anniversary ‘˜Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade‘.

Disneyland Resort Paris also becomes even more interactive during Halloween season. Guests will have the chance to meet dozens of Disney characters, witches, stilt walkers and other street artists. Children aged between 3 and 11 can enjoy free face painting and ‘˜hair-raising’ antics with Disney’s crazy coiffeurs. Several times a day the Mexican game of Piñata, in Halloweenland, is a test of strength and luck as kids try to break into the colourful paper mâché objects, stuffed with all kinds of sweets, biscuits and candy.

So to recap, the new Disney Villains show on the Candleabration stage will be called Disney Villains’ Halloween Showtime, whilst the FantaStitch Stage in Halloweenland (Frontierland) will welcome back Goofy and the Magic Pot from last year along with the Bat Boys – this year led by Minnie rather than Donald. And as for the parade – it appears a minor Disney Villain Parade-style takeover may happen to the fresh-faced Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, likely the pre-parade mentioned in the past.

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However, the French press release goes on to give even more information and confirm that a Halloween pre-parade, led by Stitch, will precede Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade – “A cortege 100% Halloween led by Stitch”, “Guests won’t believe their eyes! Surprises guaranteed!”.

The Disney Villains’ Halloween Showtime appears to be a spectacle of rivalry between the Pumpkinmen and Pink Witches, hosted by the Disney Villains, to determine which camp of Halloween mischief should be declared winner of the season. Guests will clap, dance and tap their feet to the music and songs, before laughing (for the Pumpkinmen) or screeching (for the Pink Witches) to determine the winner.

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The decorations and atmosphere of Halloweenland will return as normal to Frontierland. And the “Orange County” makeover of Main Street USA? Those Pumpkinmen won’t give way for anything, not even the 15th Anniversary! They’ll be back, and apparently giving the 15th Anniversary decorations their own personal, orange, touch…

This Halloween seems like a big success – we’re having nightmares already!

Sunday, 29th July 2007

Third Quarter results: To infinity and beyond?

Revenues up 12%, attendance up 9%, hotel occupancy up 4.7 percentage points… have they been assessing the correct Disney resort here?

A quite significant “boom” is clearly taking place within the berms of Disneyland Resort Paris, and yet these nine-month results only show three months of the year-long 15th Anniversary Celebration expected to boost revenues and attendance. Their hopeful new E-Ticket, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, is still five months away. Can we begin to hush an early “to infinity and beyond” ?

Revenues & Costs – The Balance

It seems wonderful to think that the resort has increased revenues by an incredible 12% in one single year, but as CEO Karl L. Holz warned in his statement accompanying the results, costs and expenses have also increased.

One look at this Summer’s activity — two new attractions, a new parade, new decorations, three nighttime shows, shows and streetmosphere at every angle, Molly Brown and other refurbishments, River Rogue Keelboats — proves the amount of money currently being spent by Euro Disney SCA on boosting their two parks. Not only the initial cost of creation, but the continual operational cost of two extra new attractions, a year-long castle ceremony, for example, must be a worry to the bean counters.

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Factor in costs such as 15th Anniversary advertising (noted to be their largest ever), secondary campaigns for Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally and a new website launch, and things begin to add up. But by how much? In 2006, costs and expenses rose by an agreable 1.6% — a long way from knocking down a 12% revenue increase. Things should be fairly sunny, unless the reopening of the Keelboats this Summer happens to be costing € 130m…

Attendance – Smashing the 14 million?!

We’re forever hearing of the impressive attendance Disneyland in California has been counting since its 50th Anniversary, so it’s refreshing, for once, that Disneyland Resort Paris has something in common. The attendance record in Paris is 13.1 million in 2002, the year of Walt Disney Studios Park‘s opening. Last year, in 2006, the two parks welcomed a pleasing 12.8 million guests, 500,000 (4.1%) up on 2005, when they actually fell by 1%.

No such disappointments this year. In First Half 2007 attendance rose by an unparalleled 10.9% to 6.1 million guests, and, proving that guests haven’t simply displaced their visits, Third Quarter saw an equally spectacular increase of 9%. Exact figures for the second half of the year aren’t released until the full annual report in November, but if you’re as committed as a few of the fans over at Disney Central Plaza, you can work out some of the maths for yourself.

Of its 12.8 million visitors last year, 7.3 million were in the second half. Should attendance increase by 9% in the fourth quarter as it has in the third, we would be looking at a 7,957,000 attendance for the second half and (plus 6.1 million for the first half) an astonishing 14.1 million for the year, one million higher than their previous record. Since Summer is already a busy season and less likely to see such growth, however, it’s understandable to hear that current attendance hopes are in the 13.5 to 13.8 million region.

So, that’s the state of the theme parks. What could this mean for the future? Such a strong increase in attendance would clearly mean their investment programme has been a success, and this time they seem far keener to keep the good times rolling rather than let them fizzle out, as the aftermath of Space Mountain

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Therefore, if advance reservations are strong enough for The Hollywood Tower Hotel’s opening season, an additional new attraction is apparently waiting in the wings, ready to be Soarin’ into the corner of Production Courtyard as early as 2009. The most popular attraction at Walt Disney World, and the one which Disney Executives are most keen to open up around the world in the manner of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, could begin construction as soon as Tower of Terror is completed, should the good news continue into the first quarter and first half of 2008.

Sleep in the heart of the magic? You’d better wish upon a star!

If the theme parks attendance is looking like a dream this year, you’d better ready yourself for the Hotels & Disney Village. It’s no secret that the real kick to the success of Euro Disney wasn’t so much overspending in the park but Michael Eisner’s desire to build no less than seven on-site hotels for opening, with the hope they’d instantly see the same success as the then-booming Walt Disney World hotels. Needless to say, the sheer quantity of rooms (5,200 upon opening) crippled the resort for a long time.

When ready to expand in the early 2000s, during a time when occupancy at the Disney Hotels had reached the lofty heights of 88.2% (2002 figure) and higher, the explosion of on-site parter hotels came — MyTravel’s Explorers Hotel, Hotel Kyriad, Holiday Inn, Pierre et Vacances, Dream Castle and Radisson SAS. By 2004, room occupancy had sunk to a modern low of 80.5%.

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Following a 2.8 “percentage point” increase in 2006 to 83.5%, first half 2007 brought an almost doubled increase of 5 percentage points, followed up by 4.7 ppt in this third quarter. Should this continue for an average of 4.8 ppt over the entire year, the Disney Hotels would once again be up at 88.3% — a dream for most hoteliers. To put this into perspective, the resort reported a hotel room occupancy of just 68.5% in 1995, the year of Space Mountain’s opening.

The Hotels and Disney Village can also revel in revenue increases of no less than 15% for the first half and a truly incredible 21% for the third quarter, all the time the partner hotels and their 2,500+ rooms enjoying continued success in the background.

What does this mean for the future? On the continually confusing side of a real Disney Village expansion it’s hard to say, but the boom that began with Buzz Lightyear and has taken flight in 2007 can tell us one thing — that the real big news from 2007 won’t be new attractions like Soarin’. It will be that Michael Eisner’s seven babies may no longer be enough to meet demand. After 15 years, an eigth (and even a ninth) could finally now be on the drawing board.

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But — yes, there will always a “but” at this resort — we still have to hope for one thing: that the boom in business at Disneyland Resort Paris hasn’t peaked yet, continues to soar a little further and remains steady.

Should we be hopeful? Euro Disney SCA are certainly hoping for “The Space Mountain Effect” with The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The Space Mountain Effect, incase you don’t remember, meant 2 million extra visitors in a single year…

Thursday, 26th July 2007

Third Quarter results: Revenues up 12%, Attendance 9%

Marne-la-Vallée, 26th July 2007 ‘” Euro Disney S.C.A., the operating company of Disneyland Resort Paris, publishes its Third Quarter 2007 Results along with total revenues for the nine months ended 30th June 2007. Revenues for the quarter increased 12% to € 321.7 million from € 286.6 million in the same period in 2006. This reflects increases in both Theme Parks and Hotels revenues.

Revenues for the first 9-months of the 2007 financial year increased 11% to € 834.3 million from € 754.0 million in the period last year.

The key points summarised:

Theme Parks

  • Revenues increased 8% to € 173.7 million in the Third Quarter, from € 160.7 million during the same period in 2006. For the nine months of this financial year to 30th June 2007, revenues have increased 11% to € 443.0 million from €397.7 million. The increase this quarter reflects attendance increase. Guest spending remained “essentially stable”.
  • Attedance increased 9% in the Quarter year-on-year. This comes following a 10.9% increase in the First Half 2007, which pushed attendance in the first two quarters to 6.1 million guests. Exact figures are not announced for the Third Quarter, but it seems clear the Theme Parks will surpass the previous year’s 12.8 million guest count. The attendance increase this quarter reflects on-going growth in most markets, particularly France and Spain.

Hotels and Disney Village

  • Revenues increased 21% to € 132.7 million from €109.4 million in the prior-year period, reflecting a 17% increase in average spending per room 4.7 percentage point increase in hotel room occupancy. Occupancy increase here primarily reflects higher leisure stays, rather than corporate conventions as in the First Half.
  • For the 9 months ended 30th June 2007, revenues have increased 15% to € 338.0 million, driven by an overall increase of 10% in average spending per room and an increase of 5.0 percentage points in room occupancy. The higher room occupancy results in an additional 78,000 room nights compared to the prior year period.

Commenting on these results, Karl L. Holz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Euro Disney S.A.S., appears confident yet realistic about the resort’s position, particularly highlighting the impact new attractions can have on the growth of the resort:

“Our third quarter and year-to-date revenues are encouraging, and both represent records for Disneyland Resort Paris for their respective periods. Naturally, the higher Resort activity and labor rate inflation have caused costs and expenses to also increase.

Clearly, the new offerings we developed for our 15th anniversary celebration are greatly appreciated by our guests. New attractions, like Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally at the Walt Disney Studios® Park, combine creativity and innovation to bring to life immersive experiences that only Disney can create and enrich the appeal of our parks.

Management remains focused on our growth strategy as we move forward into our fourth quarter of the year and we believe our growth in revenues indicates progress in delivering on this strategy.”

As Karl L. Holz comments, the third quarter and year-to-date revenues are already records for Euro Disney S.C.A. in their respective periods. Disneyland Resort Paris appears well on its way to a truly record-breaking 15th Anniversary year.

You can read the Third Quarter results in full here. (PDF)

The full 2007 Annual Report will be published in November 2007.

Saturday, 21st July 2007

Toon Train brings “Lights, Camera, Musique!” to Front Lot

What began in late April as a rumour for extra entertainment during the opening Summer of the new Toon Studio soon became the re-use of the Starring Cruella De Vil sets and truck for a new live music show on Front Lot‘s Place des Frères Lumière… funny how Disneyland works sometimes, isn’t it?

The final show – carrying the full title of Toon Train – Lights, Camera, Musique! – does indeed reuse the white truck and three trailer sets of Starring Cruella De Vil. Although anyone who saw the previous show will recognise the “train” instantly, the redesign and Toon overlay is very thorough and surprisingly inspired. As the cavalcade pulls out of the doors either side of Disney Studio 1 and creeps slowly around the tight corners of the square, guests will no doubt be instantly drawn to its colourful, detailed sets.

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The main design of each remains faithful to its Cruella origins – an office, a rolling outdoor backdrop and a dressing room, but everything has been “Toon-ed up” with a more wacky edge, brighter colours and a clever filmstrip of character sketches stretching along the entire train. The centre stage is no longer a wild, Wintry lane but the colourful streets of Toon Town itself.

The white Chevrolet truck has been adorned with a giant red nose, the show’s logos and the filming accessories of Starring Cruella De Vil in its back. The dressing room’s mirror is now filled with postcards from Paris, “good luck” notes, photos from the 15th Anniversary Launch, some Disney Dollars from the US parks and even a classic Mickey Mouse Club sticker.

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It’s this fantastic attention to detail in the sets, however, which could be part of the downfall of the spectacle, so far receiving some less than positive throughts on magicforum. Whilst the sets are inventive, Chip ‘n’ Dale on cue and the Walt Disney Studios Park musicians as brilliant at their jazz renditions as ever, the actual show doesn’t ever live up to the expectation set by what guests see before them.

As the musicians start up, Chip ‘n’ Dale seem a little confused about why they’re there, and even the surprise appearance of Clarice — their female friend from the 1951 short film “Two Chips and a Miss” — from behind the dressing room doors doesn’t bring about any real “raison d’être” for the chipmunks nor their lavish sets. Even the fun moments where Chip ‘n’ Dale dance with children from audience are strangely cut short so more time can be spent dancing aimlessly around colourful props…

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One might also wonder why a location in Toon Studio itself wasn’t chosen for this streetmosphere — if not in the small Toon Studio plaza itself, but along the wide parade route which stretches from Flying Carpets over Agrabah to Art of Disney Animation. For example, musical event such as this on a temporary stage next to the Sorcerer’s Hat might have been a better way to celebrate the new land’s first Summer season.

As it stands, with Walt Disney Studios Park is finally finding differences between its Studio Lots comparable to those of Disneyland Park‘s lands, this is a little like sending the African Tam-Tams to Main Street, or letting Merlin l’Enchanteur cast his magic spells on the Molly Brown, when a much more appropriate home is only a few steps away.

Still, it’s a colourful way to properly introduce the Toons to the second gate, and any appearance of a live band (this year making quite an impressive comeback to both parks) will always be met with a smile from fans of Disneyland Resort Paris. With the park hopefully beginning to attract a younger clientele this year, a simple musical dance from Chip ‘n’ Dale might just become the best moment of the day for some of the park’s more easily pleased guests!

Video | Toon Train – Lights, Camera, Musique!

Pictures and video by (the new-look) Photos Magiques.
You can see the full gallery of photos here.

Friday, 20th July 2007

Bastille Day goes with a bang, without blunder

Any guests visiting the park for the first time since the 2006 celebrations might have had to check they were in the right place. No more Wonderful World Of Disney Parade, refurbished buildings all over, decorations across Main Street and the Castle, two new attractions over at Walt Disney Studios Park – this was the park’s major chance to show off its 15th birthday to a more local audience.

After being entertained by Alpha Bet You Are, Disney Characters’ Express, Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, Disney’s Fantillusion and a nighttime performance of Candleabration, it was time for the fireworks to begin… No doubt, there were plenty of people biting their nails backstage at this point. In actual fact, it’s an outside company which arranges the large-scale fireworks seen at events such as Bastille Day, rather than the regular DLRP Pyrotechnics crew.

It’s 23.15, the show begins, and the good luck of 2007 is still most certainly on the side of Disneyland Resort Paris. The fireworks went off with their trademark “bang”, familiar patriotic French music and a special 15th Anniversary sparkle from the thousands of LEDs across the castle’s turrets and candles…

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Some members on magicforum remarked that the day actually seemed a little less busy than in recent years, so here’s hoping the fully-functioning fireworks and the impressive events of the 15th will this year incite guests to return again, rather than enjoy the free events in Paris city centre instead.

Video | Bastille Day Fireworks 2007

Throughout the Summer, guests can continue to enjoy an unparalleled hour of nighttime entertainment, starting with Disney’s Fantillusion (now apparently operating a shorter performance cycle and in the opposite direction, leading to guests only being able to see two stops at most) and ending with Candleabration followed immediately by an unchanged Wishes Nighttime Spectacular.

Pictures © Disney and by Photos Magiques. You can see their full gallery here.
Video by Photos Magiques.

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