Friday, 11th March 2011

Attendance breakdown reveals where 15 million Disneyland Paris visitors come from

Which countries were the biggest visitors to Disneyland Paris in 2010? Last week’s AGM presentation was published online this morning and includes the exact percentages for the past year, showing an interesting shift in where those 15 million visitors are travelling from. Here’s the big news: For perhaps the first time in the resort’s history, more than 50% of visitors came from France itself — a huge 51%, to be precise. This seems to show a big boost from the resort’s home country, but may hide continued falls in attendance from surrounding countries. Back in 2002, for example, the percentage of visitors from France was just 40%, whilst an impressive 21% of visitors had travelled across the channel from the United Kingdom. In 2010, that figure has dropped dramatically to just 12%, perhaps the lowest percentage of British visitors ever, after falling from 20% in 2006, 18% in 2007, 16% in 2008 and 14% in 2009 — a worrying trend of falling visitor numbers every year for the past five years now.

Visitors from the Benelux meanwhile have remained relatively steady in percentage terms over the past decade, with Belgium and Luxembourg making up 7% of visitors in both 2010 and 2009, having been recorded at 6% for 2002 and 2006. The Netherlands appears to have experienced a slight drop in prominence, at 7% of visitors for 2010 but previously having made up 8% in 2006 and 9% in 2002. One big success for Disneyland Paris in recent years has been in attracting more guests from Spain, but even here the draw appears to be waning. Back in 2002, Spain was even combined with Italy, for a total 9% of visitors, but by 2005 had attained this number all by itself. Spanish visitors appeared to reach their peak in 2008, making up 11% of guests, but this dropped to 8% in 2009 and 2010. Finally, visitors from the rest of the world have remained steady at 9%, having stuck at that percentage for the past decade (though Euro Disney SCA claims an increasing demand from visitors of further afield for 2010).

But wait — we’re forgetting somewhere. Making just 3% of visitors in 2010, Germany is at risk of barely even registering on the figures. This German market has dropped consistently for the past few years — from 4% in 2006, 5% in 2005 and 7% back in 2002 — despite being a wealthy country of 80 million where Disney is as popular as anywhere, with several big theme parks of its own. Those successful parks might be part of the problem, as might the lack of a direct Eurostar-style link, but surely this should be a bigger market for the resort. Back in 1992, it seemed to be expected that Germany would be right behind the UK as one of the biggest visitors. So, what’s keeping Deutschland away from Disneyland?

VIA Euro Disney SCA

Thursday, 10th March 2011

Ratatouille ride confirmed by Euro Disney CEO as “well advanced”, but still a long way away

Ratatouille dark ride construction

Never ones to tease too far into the future, as expected the operating company of Disneyland Paris spent last week’s Annual General Meeting mostly talking up this year’s new additions and projects. Euro Disney SCA didn’t even announce the huge World of Disney store, currently rising right in the middle of the resort. But the assembled shareholders did manage to get one piece of crucial information from Philippe Gas, CEO: The Ratatouille ride project is real and is well advanced. Yes, yes — tell us something we didn’t know — but it’s very reassuring to hear after the land for the project was cleared during Toy Story Playland construction only to lay completely untouched ever since.

Even rumours about the proposed dark ride have gone quiet. At one time we were hearing the attraction would feature everything from a trackless ride system to 3D glasses and ride-in projection screens, whilst it’s impossible to count how many times the ride has been “green lit”, according to various sources, when in fact Euro Disney SCA have apparently still yet to agree its financing. Nevertheless, we already have our Ratatouille “rue” and a ready-and-waiting patch of former forest. In December, skyam on Disney Central Plaza snapped the photo above of the cleared area of forest from Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, whilst the aerial view below, from last Summer, shows the site from the reverse angle, over Frontierland.

Ratatouille dark ride

What you immediately notice from both angles are the trees which haven’t been removed, sitting right in the middle of the site. The first photo gives a good idea why — if they were to be removed, the previously secluded area become horribly barren, with guests able to see right through from Parachute Drop to the industrial backstage buildings in the distance. The plan submitted to Chessy town planning office suggested a large area of greenery in front of the attraction and other proposals for the area have all tried to create the same, something resembling a city square park. Paris certainly has plenty of those, and the Studios still needs more secluded, green areas. But when will we finally be able to explore this true Parisian quarter?

The expectation that the ride would open during the 2013 financial year (so, any time from October 2012 onwards) still seems to stand, allowing the resort to extend the 2012 anniversary year in a similar style to the 15th’s “Celebration Continues” campaign. But given we’re already in March 2011 and the extended time-scale needed for a complex dark ride, it’s looking less likely that the ride could match, for example, the December opening date of Tower of Terror. A few months after a two year wait is a minor detail, however — simply getting the funding in place and signatures on dotted lines is what matters now. And judging by an interview Philippe Gas gave to the Telegraph newspaper last October, we’re not the only ones anxious to see Rémy receive his very own attraction at Walt Disney Studios. “High on Mr Gas’s agenda are the development of the Disney Studios, where he plans more attractions and restaurants with the intention of turning it into a ‘one-day experience’ […] ‘Ratatouille is perfect, as it is set in Paris,’ he said, pointing to a large wall poster of the film in his office.”

VIA skyam, Jolly Roger, Grandmath (DCP), The Telegraph

Tuesday, 8th March 2011

Kachow! Meet the new Lightning McQueen car joining ‘Moteurs… Action!’ from April

Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular will be welcoming a new cameo star from a certain automobile-based Pixar film this year, and he just made his grand entrance. At the Euro Disney SCA annual general meeting last Friday, the Cars-Moteurs tie-in was presented on the big screen and followed by Lightning McQueen himself then driving right out into the auditorium, Hotel New York’s convention centre, as seen in the video above. The Disney Magical Moments Festival preview show also featured some of the cast of new Central Plaza show Mickey’s Magical Celebration and gave us those finite dates for The Tarzan Encounter‘s heralded return.

This new car is a full-size, drivable replica of Lightning McQueen, the “rookie race car” in the 2006 Pixar film which conveniently sees its sequel, Cars 2, released this Summer. Similar cars have been featured at Disney California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios parks since the original film’s release, whilst Walt Disney Studios Park has had a static model at Cars Quatre Roues Rallye since 2007. The role awaiting Lightning (known in France as “Flash” McQueen) in the Backlot stunt show so far isn’t clear. It’s likely he won’t replace the main “hero” car and will instead make more of a cameo appearance — but does that mean he will replace the show’s existing cameo, 1960s motor star Herbie?

VIA mouetto (YouTube)

Tuesday, 8th February 2011

Total revenues rise 8% in first quarter 2011, still a way for Euro Disney SCA to climb

Toy Story Playland

First Quarter revenues are up 8% in the results published this morning by Euro Disney SCA, the operating group of Disneyland Paris, but show a struggle to recover from the dent taken during the worst days of the economic crisis in 2008 and 2009. Though the 8% rise to €316.8 million in total Theme Park, Disney Village, Hotel and Resort revenues represents a boost in revenues of €24.8 million, it still fails to fully reverse the huge 10.5% drop the resort saw in First Quarter 2010, when revenues in the period fell from €326.4 million in financial year 2009 to €292 million in 2010. Whilst theme park attendance dropped 11% year-on-year in 2010, it has only grown back by a disappointing 1% in today’s results, which the resort claims stems from an increase in visitors from France and Belgium — offset by fewer visitors from the Netherlands and, yet again, the United Kingdom. This comes despite the opening of three expensive new attractions in Toy Story Playland just before the quarter.

Nevertheless, hotel occupancy rose a strong 5.6 percentage points, suggesting that the resort segment of the business has fared better in the harsh weather conditions seen over the three months from 1st October to 31st December 2010, which analysts expected to curb Disneyland Paris from making bigger gains. Philippe Gas, Chief Executive Officer of Euro Disney S.A.S. commented: “Following the improvement we saw at the end of last year, we are encouraged that our First Quarter guest visitation and spending continued to improve over the prior year. Total first quarter revenues were up 8% versus last year, which is particularly significant given the extensive travel disruptions experienced throughout Europe during the holiday season. We look forward to launching the Disney Magical Moments Festival this spring, where we will celebrate the role of Disney magic in creating lasting memories for families and friends at the Resort.”

After announcing a net profit of €2 million in 2008, its first since the opening of Walt Disney Studios Park in 2002, at the height of the boom and after a hugely successful 15th Anniversary campaign, Euro Disney SCA was almost immediately plunged back into debt. It still currently has around €1.8 billion in loans to pay dating back to the construction of the resort, when Disney wildly overestimated guest spending levels and the number of hotel rooms required in the first phase.

VIA Euro Disney SCA (PDF)

Monday, 7th February 2011

Snow expected to hit Euro Disney first quarter revenues, announcement tomorrow

Seeing Disneyland Paris under a white blanket of snow might have been awfully pretty, but analysts are expecting the tumultuous weather conditions experienced in this corner of Europe over the past three months to have a negative effect on revenues for Euro Disney SCA, the resort’s operating company, which announces its First Quarter results tomorrow. The heavy snow and icy conditions across northern France will have likely deterred some short-notice visitors from making the trip, whilst others may have had to cancel longer-planned reservations, during one of the key seasons for Disneyland Paris.

Despite this, revenues are still apparently expected to improve from the disappointing results for the First Quarter of the 2010 financial year, which saw revenues for the three months drop by 10.5%. It became the first set of negative results in a bad year, with revenues dropping overall by 7%. Tomorrow’s results will cover the period from 1st October to 31st December 2010.

VIA Christian Sylt (Daily Mail),  PHOTO PeterPanFan (Flickr)

Wednesday, 27th January 2010

Flybe join Air France in the skies above Disneyland

Back in 1992, faithful Air France were one of the resort’s most important travel partners. After all, the high speed TGV rail connection was still two years away, and the UK’s direct connection to the magic via Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel not due until 1996.

But, as airlines such as itself focus more and more on long haul flights, it appears Disneyland Paris have looked to one of the successful low cost airlines, snapping up the short haul market, to give visitors more choice when booking a package.

As of 19th January 2010, Flybe.com signed closer links with the resort, effectively becoming one of its preferred travel partners. Compare the Autumn/Winter 2009 brochure with the updated Spring/Summer 2010 brochure, announcing the new options as available “soon”:

Flybe join Air France in the skies above Disneyland

Flybe join Air France in the skies above Disneyland

The press release from Flybe is rather vague, but confirms:

Flybe, the UK’s Number One Domestic Airline, has teamed up with Disneyland Paris® in a move that will pave the way for exciting promotions and added incentives for Flybe passengers to include flights, accommodation and theme park ticket packages. The deal builds on two successful campaigns that Flybe has previously run with Europe’s leading tourist destination.

Hugh Wood, VP and MD of Disney Destinations International says: “Disney Destinations is excited about expanding the business – this is very positive news for Disneyland Paris and our guests as it offers a wider choice of travel options for them.”

Flybe flights from Belfast City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, Glasgow, Jersey, Manchester and Southampton to Paris Charles de Gaulle can now be booked at the same time as your package via the Disneyland Paris booking hotline. In return, Flybe will be promoting Disneyland Paris more heavily as a destination for its Paris flights.

As visitors increasingly sniff at paying the higher prices of airlines like Air France for short hops, it makes sense for Disney not to be losing out on these booking commissions — at the same time making clear how easy it can still be to get to the resort for people who don’t live in the South East.

But of course, there is a downside to not using Air France — that you won’t have Gérard Depardieu as your baggage handler… right?

Friday, 8th January 2010

Parking to power the magic? Huge solar project rumour

There are suggestions that Euro Disney SCA, operating group of Disneyland Paris, could be about to sign a landmark agreement with French energy partner EDF.

Currently, as visitors arrive at the resort by car or coach, they’re greeted by a pleasant — but exceptionally large — parking space. A huge expanse of tarmac poured nonchalantly over the former fields of Marne-la-Vallée, this has perhaps never been the best of first impressions for the French to become enamoured with Disney’s controversial arrival.

Parking to power the magic? Huge solar project rumours

However, according to rumours now doing the message board rounds, the flat, single-level parking lot serving the two Disney Parks — with more than 11,000 car parking spaces — would be covered end to end in so-called “Ombrières”, a patented type of solar power canopy covered in photovoltaic cells.

An unfortunate necessity becomes a publicity coup?

Creating electricity which can then be used on-site or sold back into the grid, the futuristic canopies also collect rainwater to reduce piped water usage as well as protecting people — and their cars — from the elements, be they a rainstorm or a scorching hot day.

Parking to power the magic? Huge solar project rumours

Rather than your car burning up in the full heat of the Summer sun, that energy would be transformed into real power — possibly even to power your ride on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Phantom Manor!

The idea is not entirely new, already being in use at locations such as the E-Leclerc shopping centre near Montpellier seen in these photos. These canopies are manufactured by French company SunVie. Should the enormous parking surface at Disneyland Paris be covered by “solar panels” like these, it would apparently become the largest such energy plant in France and almost certainly one of the largest in Europe.

Parking to power the magic? Huge solar project rumours

Naturally, after the initial excitement at such a prospect, thoughts are now turning to the visual impact of the “Ombrières” which, whilst actually functionally good-looking, would probably contrast a bit too much with the more whimsical structures already dotted around the parking lot, such as the canopies of the moving walkways.

To redesign them with a little more Disney spark certainly wouldn’t be hard, but multiplied over several hundred rows could amount to a restrictively large rise in construction costs.

Indeed, details so far are rather sketchy as to how such a project would be managed between Euro Disney and EDF — who would pay for the set-up, who would get the power generated? Nevertheless, this would be a sure-fire publicity winner for the resort, and hopefully more than just blue sky (solar) thinking…

• See more details, photos and a video here.

Images: DLRP Today; SunVie. News via Parcs et Companie, thanks to lil-shawn (magicforum).

Sunday, 27th December 2009

Striking workers cheer as Disney parades cancelled

Unfortunately not. As DLP.info reported on Wednesday, 23rd December, members of the cfdt, CFTC and UNSA unions began striking at 7.00am — on one of the busiest days of the year for the resort — citing the lack of dialogue from the resort following their opposition to the apparent “zero Euro” wage increase for 2010 and other issues.

So what did they do, simply refuse to show up for work? Take their placards and flags round to the management offices, of the people who actually make these decisions? Of course not. They didn’t even, in the grand Disneyland Paris tradition, set up camp on the neutral resort hub, amongst the nuisance street sellers.

Strikes at Disneyland Paris
Picture: DLP.info

In a shocking day of the resort’s history, the striking Cast Members went straight inside the parks — complete with giant banners, flags and signs. It gets worse: Come 2.15pm, Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars didn’t go out as announced. Instead, guests who had paid their entrance fee and waited patiently for the show were treated to a storming of the stage by the union members. At 5pm over in Disneyland Park, the parade route didn’t see Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade pleasantly passing by but a noisy mob of striking workers, blocking the parade route.

Reports state that not a single member of the Entertainment, Parades and Characters (EPC) department took part in the strike, but the casts were kept from performing for guests by the workers blocking the route. Managers no doubt also wanted to avoid any kind of stand-off, where the floats might enter the park but be stopped halfway.

But the awful thing is, now that the videos have started appearing on YouTube and other sites, it’s not even the bizarre sight of these striking workers inside the parks that’s most shocking. It’s how plainly heartless and repulsive they are with it. Skip to 3 minutes 20 seconds into this video found by Daniel on magicforum:

Yes, you heard right. When the announcement comes that Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars has had to be cancelled because they’ve taken over Place des Stars (an announcement perhaps never heard before with our hardy, good Cast Members), they cheer.

And all sympathy is lost.

Perhaps these people are forgetting a few things. First, there may well be just as “poorly paid” visitors in the audience, who are now having their expensive trips ruined. Second, Disneyland Paris is still in a very precarious state. Despicable though that proposal of a “zero Euro” pay rise really is, storming the parade routes will only serve to give an even more unprofessional image of the resort to thousands of guests — whether they saw it first-hand, heard about it from a friend or saw it on YouTube. In turn, people will continue to think “Disneyland Paris isn’t ‘proper’ Disney”, that it’s not worth a visit, that it isn’t worth returning. The resort will lose more money and they’ll be even less likely to get a better wage.

Nevertheless, the CFDT union has reported that talks have now reopened with the resort, so we shouldn’t be seeing such a display again. This situation will, one must hope, be particularly embarrassing for relatively new CEO Philippe Gas, not least because his history with Disney is based entirely in human resources — his former job title being Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

What’s the other thing the striking workers didn’t show much regard for? Oh yeah, their colleagues. Those friendly, smiling, helpful — and equally hard-worked — Cast Members who continued on, having to pick up the pieces of disappointed guests, complaint forms and return tickets.

Thankfully, the Entertainment cast of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade did their own bit of storming the park: All the dancers and characters stayed in costume and, once the scene had calmed, arrived on Town Square and Central Plaza at 5.30pm to give guests the best chance they could of a meet ‘n’ greet with that true, professional Disney Magic.

Picture: DLP.info; Video: chrissouille08.

Saturday, 19th December 2009

World of Disney – from sketch upon sketch, to reality?

That patch of land jutting out between the IMAX building and its Gaumont Cinemas entrance has been waiting an awfully long time, after all. For almost a decade now, the spot has been earmarked for a large, signature store to anchor this busy corner of the resort centre, using the ‘World of Disney’ branding from the Florida, California and New York locations.

These huge department stores are rather like your ultimate, dream version of a regular Disney Store. Operated instead by the merchandise department of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, they attempt to offer the biggest selection of Disney products available, in a sumptuously-themed interior.

Whilst the New York store fits within its leased 5th Avenue location, the stores in the Downtown Disney areas of Disneyland and Walt Disney World share a somewhat similar style. Will the Paris equivalent continue the theme? Not at all…

World of Disney - from sketch upon sketch, to reality?
Photo: Alexandre Rosa via Disney and More

Even the first models and concepts from years ago depicted a very different style of architecture, one that appeared to almost be trying to fit in too hard with its Planet Hollywood and Gaumont neighbours, offering them a blue globe elevated above its entrance and similarly-curved canopies above the entrances.

And then all fell silent. Until, that is, earlier this year — when member MykeY on DCP forum supplied not only fresh hope that the project could be moving ahead but a brand new concept image. This time, depicting something altogether more fantastical:

World of Disney - from sketch upon sketch, to reality?

Inspired by the grand style of the greatest Parisian department stores, this World of Disney store seems to take its cues more from the Galleries Lafayette than any Floridian retail outlet. Beyond the large, open windows spanning its façade, the store sits below a giant central dome — with others above each entrance. You can never have enough domes in Paris, after all.

Mickey Mouse details are present and correct, worked into the side of the building, but with the monolithic “World of Disney” letters worked into the larger of the two entrances, which we have to assume will sit right on the corner of the site, the exterior is more Art Nouveau than Art of Disney.

The original poster added that the cost was estimated at around €14m, a substantial amount for a new store, however important. See, the location right here on the corner is practically — no, entirely — perfect. Guests leaving the park currently often skip right past the offerings of Disney Village, eager to get their sore feet into their car or hotel as quickly as possible.

Bringing a signature store right out here, addressing and opening out onto the hub itself, is about as guaranteed a way as possible to get those cash registers ringing. And, if you’ve been in the incredibly tired Disney Store just after park closing, the extra space alone will be more than welcome.

But just how much space will there be? From the looks of the imposing profile of our Galleries Disney, a second floor must be a possibility — or how about a grand atrium under that huge dome? The latest information, posted by RiverRogue on magicforum, doesn’t quite promise exactly what we’re wishing for, suggesting the upper floor (or indeed, “floors” plural) will just be for storage:

The design has slightly changed after the retirement of Wing Chao from WDI [link], but the project is still going ahead and construction ought to start relatively soon.

The retail surface will cover most of the ground floor, with upper floors used for storage. Judging from what I’ve seen and heard it’ll be the smallest of the World of Disney stores, but still rather big compared to other stores in the resort.

Nevertheless, using any space on upper floors for storage should mean more space saved for retail on the ground floor. With the comment here that construction should begin “relatively soon” and estimation from the original DCP poster that the total cost is no less than €14m, it seems when this project finally does get done, it’ll be done right.

As rumours point to Earl of Sandwich also starting up construction in 2010, it’s hopefully going to be an interesting year ahead for Disney Village. Not just for new additions, either — what about the existing locations?

World of Disney - from sketch upon sketch, to reality?

Think about it — the generic Disney Store surely can’t outlive the opening of a World of Disney too long, and even Earl of Sandwich encroaches more than a little on the market of Disney’s own New York Style Sandwiches (formerly Carnegie’s Deli). Then there are the other boutiques — with a World of Disney selling the biggest collection of merchandise on property, will there be much need for the arguably quite bland selection of Disney Gallery, Disney Fashion, Hollywood Pictures and World of Toys? With most of that block made redundant, this could be a real chance to turn it around into something a whole lot better.

Given a look at the some of the wonderfully diverse offerings from Disney itself at the American Downtown Disney districts — from Disney Vault 28 to the new D-Street and several more — we can’t but hope this potential domino effect leads to nothing short of a full-scale revolution in the Village.

Yes, they show us the World yet we’re still thinking of more. Bring on 2010…!

Credit to MykeY and RiverRogue.

Friday, 20th November 2009

Magic Circus renovation done, conference pavilion to come

It was the second time the Austrian group had taken over management of one of the resort’s Selected Hotels just beyond Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe on the other side of the Boulevard Circulaire. But unlike the Dream Castle Hotel, which had been developed and managed with care from the start by Mövenpick, InterContinental’s Holiday Inn always seemed something of a missed opportunity.

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Given a grand stature, bold interior design and a fun theme when developed in collaboration with DLP-I (Disneyland Paris Imagineering) and the Val d’Europe design team, the subsequent management left a little to be desired, with little focus on the themed touches and just average service. Its lobby, notably, filled with enough coin-operated machines to keep a small school happy.

The first phase of investment in the hotel from the partnership of Warimpex, UBM and Vienna International has now been completed, celebrated with a special event at the hotel last night. In total, €4 million has been spent enlarging and improving the restaurant, improving the bar and lobby, refurbishing guest rooms, completely rebuilding the pool and wellness area, rebranding everything to the new image and enhancing the existing circus themes.

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

“It is our aim to further strengthen the position as a family hotel at the destination and to attract new guests,” argues Rudolf Tucek, CEO of Vienna International Hotelmanagement AG. “Especially in the last twelve months, the destination of Disneyland Paris has shown that people continue to invest in a family holiday despite the economically challenging times.

However, Tucek points out a strong change in their source markets: “This year up to 320 per cent more guests came from Austria, an additional 80 per cent from the Czech Republic, 75 per cent from France and 60 per cent from Switzerland. By comparison, we saw a decline of up to 50 per cent from the UK, which could be offset thanks to the growth from the other countries.”

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

And how is the hotel performing financially? UBM CEO Karl Bier stated: “Both the Magic Circus as well as the neighbouring Dream Castle Hotel, which began operations in 2003, are outstanding investments. Even during the economic crisis, the two hotels have been in the black.

“For the real estate market, the worst should be over by now and we are looking optimistically towards the future: the economic research institutes forecast a recovery of the economy, the banks are providing sufficient liquidity, and investment pressure can be recognised once more among institutional investors. These are all signs that we have passed the low point.”

Even better, the group intend to invest another €4 million next year with the construction of a brand new conference pavilion at the hotel, the foundations and structural requirements of which have already been put in place during the current works. The hotel is being taken slightly upmarket, properly fulfilling in “feel” its 4-star status, with the new focus now firmly on families and conferences, perhaps then putting it in competition with Disney’s Newport Bay Club.

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Magic Circus renovation complete, conference pavilion to come

Images © Vienna International.

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