The final performance of award winning Disneyland Paris nighttime spectacular Disney Dreams! will take place this Friday, 24th March 2017, ahead of its replacement by the new Disney Illuminations show. Read More…
Welcome to turn of the 20th Century America! At least, that’s what Main Street Station was designed to say. In practice, it has suffered an innumerable series of seasonal overlays over the years that often do little to embellish its period style. The latest, for Swing into Spring, was completed this week ahead of the new season’s launch on 5th April.
Production quality looks surprisingly good for a fledgling season — the main “Swing into Spring” marquee is big but thankfully well-designed, compared to previous efforts. The way the typeface springs out of the oversized daisy is quite classy, the character illustrations are a welcome “Disney” touch, the flowers (albeit fake) give a feeling of life. From a distance it looks like a fantastic, bright, fresh welcome into Disneyland Park for Spring. Great job!
It’s just a shame it’s all over Main Street Station. After the 20th Anniversary overlay, Halloween, Christmas, and many more in the years before, you almost need to remind yourself what this landmark is supposed to look like. So here we go:
Now where do you begin? Let’s start with the windows. The four stained glass windows of the original station are beautiful and should simply never, ever be covered over. Definitely not with flat yellow backgrounds for 2D cut-out Disney characters.
Then there are the 20th Anniversary leftovers. The two plasticy gold garlands along the top of the façade, the three golden arches above the walkways and the four circular castle motifs are all still in place two years later. The thinking could be they’re yellow (ish) and vaguely fit the colour scheme, the reality is that they cheapen a building which, along with the stunning Disneyland Hotel, was designed to instantly tell guests they’re not in any old tacky theme park.
Also part of that overlay was the black “Disneyland Paris” sign. It seemed fitting for the 20th Anniversary, but isn’t it about time the old “Main Street Station”, with its higher quality embossed gold letters and warm red background returned?
After all that, the flowers and even the logo are rather inoffensive. Indeed, imagine how good the station could have looked if it was simply “plussed” with a colourful floral overlay, not just treated like a blank canvas — as if there’s nothing of quality there to actually work with and the only option was for the designer to cover it with their own, bright yellow, canvas.
It’s been easy to shrug off the Halloween and Christmas overlays in the past because, besides the fact they’re well-established holidays, they’re only there for one and two months respectively, giving us nine more months to see the park entrance as it should be seen.
Swing into Spring will last for a record three months. If it returns with the same decorations next year (spending on these seems to suggest it will), that means only six months to see the station untouched: January to March and July to September. That’s provided they ever take the 20th Anniversary elements down. The situation is similar to the oversized Tinkerbell of the 15th Anniversary castle overlay, which outstayed its welcome (and spoilt the forced perspective of the castle) for several years after the anniversary ended.
At least, these days, it’s not the castle. That’s what we need to remember.
Soundbites about “challenging tourism climates” and “investing in growth strategies” aren’t all you’ll find the Euro Disney S.C.A. Annual Review. Published by the Disneyland Paris operating group each year, the splashy document is also filled with a host of fascinating and intriguing facts and figures about the resort, its parks, its Cast Members and its visitors.
You can browse the 2013 Annual Review now online. Surprisingly, this year breaks with tradition and abandons the usual overblown website dedicated to the report (last year complete with Philippe Gas video intro) and presents it just as a standard e-brochure. We’d love to know the figure for how much cash that decision wisely saved. But instead, here’s our quick pick of the key figures and fun facts of 2013 at Disneyland Paris…
Last, but not least, the geographical split of theme park visits, where France has broken 51% leaving all other feeder nations languishing. It’s fascinating to look back ten years to the results from the 2003 Annual Review and see how dramatically the breakdown has shifted.
Where once 22% of visitors were from the United Kingdom, now that percentage is a tiny 14%. Worse for Germany; its percentage share has halved from 6% to 3% in 2013. Italy and Spain meanwhile used to make up 9% together and have now increased to 11%, mainly thanks to a boom in visitors from Spain begun a few years ago, but which now appears to have ebbed away, in line with the country’s economy, to 8%.
Attendance figures in 2003 were 12.4 million, so 22% would give an estimated 2,728,000 British guests for the year. The same calculation for 14% of the 14.9 million guests in 2013 gives 2,086,000 guests crossing the channel. Far from a scientific, watertight calculation, obviously, but you could see it suggesting that roughly 654,720 fewer visitors from the UK went to Disneyland Paris in 2013 compared to ten years ago, a 24% drop.
Overall, with 49% of visitors now coming from outside France in 2013 versus 61% in 2003, you could estimate the resort’s entire non-domestic park attendance has actually fallen by over a quarter of a million guests in the past ten years, from 7.6 million in 2003 to 7.3 million in 2013. In the same period, meanwhile, you could estimate attendance from within France has grown by a huge 2.8 million guests, from 4.8 million to a strong 7.6 million visitors.
Clearly it is time Disneyland Paris took a few of its œufs out of its panier and worked on growing visitor numbers from other countries too, if only back to the levels they were ten years ago.
That’s not something even Rémy can do alone, or is it?
Wait, did they finally retire the Roger Rabbit float?! The latest Disneyland Paris TV commercial to hit the internet, via a Danish travel agency, features a brief glimpse of the all-new Disney Magic on Parade aerial “flyover” footage, painstakingly shot over a whole day last summer.
This scene will at last replace the over two decades-old footage of Walt Disney World‘s 20th Anniversary Surprise Celebration Parade that Disneyland Paris has been using in countless trailers and promotional films since before the park’s 1992 opening.
Besides that well-choreographed shot, this TV spot just happens to be an all-round solid production. There’s footage of actual rides (!), real hotels (!) and of course a Disneyland Paris parade genuinely travelling down the true Parisian Main Street.
It uses a familiar concept of transporting people from the “real world” into a more magical Disney setting, but those clips last mere milliseconds. The recent “30 Yes Days” commercials for example, like far too many of the resort’s TV ads, dawdle endlessly on setting up a “concept”, when Disneyland Paris should probably just be using their precious airtime to show footage of the parks, like this.
We can even let the family off for apparently sneaking into the Newport Bay Club pool.
Watch the new Disneyland Paris commercial embedded below…
Exactly a year ago, a revolution came to the Victorian-styled walls of Disneyland Hotel in the form of free wi-fi internet access, requested for years by fans and visitors, as Disneyland Paris announced a complete rollout across the “resort” portion of its lands. One year later, it has announced certain locations in Disney Village are the latest to be connected.
Now you can cheer on your favourite team on Facebook from the Sports Bar, catch up on your email while joining a line dance at Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon, Instagram a picture of your meal at The Steakhouse and even instantly tweet that selfie in your Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show hat. And never have to stand outside McDonald’s desperately trying to connect to their wi-fi again.
At Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne and Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe, the wi-fi only covers the main public areas — reception, bar, restaurant and boutique — and not the rooms themselves, as might have been presumed from the initial announcement.
The disjoined design of these two “value” hotels, with rooms spread out on fewer floors in separate buildings, would obviously make a rollout more expensive on a per-room basis than the other hotels, but it’s something which surely must be done in the future to ensure they remain competitive in the market and worthy of that Disney price mark-up.
Both Disneyland Paris parks also remain no-wi-fi zones, much unlike their American cousins. Complete blanket coverage would be expensive and you could argue unnecessary, so why not at least provide some key wi-fi “zones” within each park — Central Plaza and Disney Bros Plaza for starters. Forget spending millions on traditional advertising, if every guest could share just one live photo to their social network, it’d be a sound investment.
Euro Disney S.C.A. published its First Quarter results yesterday for the 2014 fiscal year, with the Disneyland Paris operating group announcing a series of disappointing drops across the board, helped only by some modest guest spending increases.
Covering the period from 1st October to 31st December 2013, the first quarter saw overall Resort revenues fall by 5% to €304.9 million, from €320.7 million in the same period the previous year. For the Theme Parks segment it was less severe, with a drop of just over 3%, while the Hotels and Disney Village saw the worst results with an almost 6% drop in revenues.
With a 9.6 percentage point decrease in hotel occupancy, equating to 51,000 fewer room nights old compared to the previous year, an increase of 6% in average spending per room might look like the only good news here. But even this rise was due only to higher daily room rates, and actually offset by lower spending on food and beverage.
In the parks, attendance decreased by 7%. Though this quarter marks the first results since the end of the 20th Anniversary on 30th September 2013, this figure must still be disappointing given the extra investments made to the Halloween and Christmas seasons, arguably now at their strongest for years. Average spending per guest increased by 4%, however, with Euro Disney S.C.A. pointing to not just higher admissions prices but (at long last) higher spending on merchandise, too.
In his standard statement, Philippe Gas, Chief Executive Officer of Euro Disney S.A.S., said:
“In a still challenging economic environment, we realized lower attendance and occupancy as compared to last year, which resulted in a 5% decrease in resort revenues. However our strategy aimed at increasing guest contribution helped us offset some of the attendance and occupancy weakness as we achieved record guest spending in both our parks and hotels for a first quarter.
Even though we remain prudent given the current economic environment, we believe the fundamentals of our business are strong and we are confident in our long-term strategy focused on investing in the guest experience. The opening of our new Ratatouille-themed attraction this summer fully reflects this growth strategy.”
What appears evident, from the hotel results in particular, is that visitors are more careful than ever about how they spend their money and whether they actually get value back. For an experience like Disneyland Paris, visitors are probably more willing to splash out on a luxury like a Disney Hotel stay, even though they know the value-for-money is questionable. But only up to a point.
And after such a large initial outlay, most will inevitably then reign in spending on extras — meals, shows, merchandise — and scrutinise every Euro spent. Getting greedy with that initial booking price could mean a loss in spending throughout the entire trip. Or it could, more and more often it seems, mean that the initial hotel booking never takes place at all — another company gets the revenue and the room night — or, worst case, the visitor decides not to visit Disneyland Paris at all.
We have, at least, seen a slight shift in hotel package promotions away from huge discounts of up to 40%, which surely only eroded the perceived brand value, and towards “added value” offers like free Half Board Meal Plans or extra nights. More like this would be welcome — rather than taking Euros off a booking, why not offer that as “free” spending money in the parks on a gift card?
Could Ratatouille: The Ride be the saving grace of 2014? Intriguingly, this press release suddenly changes the wording to an opening date of “early Summer”. With results like these, the sooner they can get something of that “growth strategy” on the table, the better.
Disneyland Paris launched its extended 20th Anniversary celebrations with a one-off catwalk fashion show to showcase brand new Disney character costumes made by some of Europe’s most prestigious fashion houses.
Titled ‘Designers of Dreams’, the one-off event took place on Saturday 23rd March for the 20th Anniversary Extended press launch. But luckily, if you’d like to see this unusual meeting of Disney characters and catwalk fashions for yourself, you can watch it here in full!
As well as exclusive outfits by fashion houses such as Lanvin, Sister by Sibling, Philip Treacy and Supertrash, the show featured a performance by Laura Van Kaam, winner of The Voice Kids Nederlands.
EXCLUSIVE — Marianne Sharpe and David Sultan of the Disneyland Paris merchandising team preview the new Disney Light’Ears at an informal panel discussion just for fansites. Learn about the design, development and production of the ears, how they work and what we can expect when they launch this July at Disneyland Paris.
It’s here! Our complete, original 1080p HD video of the new Disney Dreams!, now updated for 2013 with new The Lion King and Brave scenes. This video also features our exclusive preview of Disney Light’Ears, set to launch at Disneyland Paris this July for €20. We filmed the video from directly in the middle of Central Plaza, and for the first time used a tripod to steady the camera — enjoy!
More news updates from the 20th Anniversary Extended launch to follow — in the meantime, please scroll back through our many live photo updates from the events on Twitter to get a great recap of all the action!
Disneyland Paris will launch its extended 20th Anniversary celebrations this weekend, with a one-off catwalk fashion show to showcase brand new Disney character costumes made by some of Europe’s most prestigious fashion houses.
Titled ‘Designers of Dreams’, the event will take place this Saturday 23rd March to mark the success of Disney Dreams! and launch its two new scenes (not to mention that soon-to-be fashion craze of the parks — well, perhaps — Disney Light’Ears). And there we were thinking Steve Davison and his team were the only “designers of Dreams”…
Alber Elbaz of French firm Lanvin was first to reveal his sparkling new blue dress for Minnie Mouse, while British designers Sister by Sibling have been tasked with creating a high-fashion ball gown for Cinderella. Also joining the fun will be Philip Treacy for Ireland, Luisa Beccaria for Italy, Alexander Terekhov for Russia, Michalsky for Germany, Custo Barcelona for Spain, Jean-Paul Knott for Belgium and for The Netherlands, Olcay Gulsen for Supertrash.
If the event is designed to create media “buzz”, it seems to have succeeded somewhat already with the two articles linked above on Vogue, plus The Telegraph, StyleList, Le Monde, Glamour, Fashionista, Yahoo and, err, CocoPerez.com. Oh, and DLRPToday.com…
Watch a video of Minnie Mouse visiting Lanvin to pick up her dress below… Read More…