Thursday, 17th November 2011

20th Anniversary Disneyland Paris brochure now available, events line-up confirmed

Here it is: the 20th Anniversary Disneyland Paris brochure! The multicoloured edition has been spotted out in the wild at travel agents in the UK since its limited launch a couple of weeks ago, but now it’s available online for all to see. Check it out here. Of course, there are new prices, new options and yet another new design for all the pages, but it’s the 20th Anniversary events and images we want to see. The final line-up to make the brochure cut is modest but promising. Star of the show in 2012 will no doubt be Dreams – the “magical, immersive” nighttime spectacular that’s due to take over the Castle, Central Plaza and even Main Street with projections, special effects and — yes — at least a few fountains, as it plunges guests inside a journey through classic Disney dreams.

Also given top billing is Disney Magic on Parade!, actually a reworking of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade that will see the 15th Anniversary‘s showstopper (certainly the best parade ever to be seen in Paris) given new costumes, music and characters. The current Dreams of Romance Finale float will be turned into a mountain ledge for Sorcerer Mickey, with the gang expected to appear in their spangly multi-coloured outfits seen throughout the brochure, while the original opening float will become home to the fairies, wizards and sorcerers of the Disney world. Oddly, that appears to oust the Princesses from the parade almost entirely, although Rapunzel and Flynn are said to be taking over from Aladdin and Jasmine on the smaller Romance Prelude float to freshen up that aspect.

The new magician-themed permanent meet ‘n’ greet for Mickey is advertised simply as Meet Mickey Mouse, while the fourth and final 20th Anniversary event is the mysterious Main Street, U.S.A. Celebrates. The brochure blurb is suitably blurry but its references to “twinkles” and “glowings-on” are spot on with our sources, suggesting a gold theme for the street and certainly a lot of lights…

As we revealed in September, longer opening hours for Disneyland Park are due to be one of the big bonuses of the year. Advertised as 20th Anniversary Extended Hours, they’re confirmed to be in operation from 1st April to 30th September 2012, although there’s no mention of just how many extra hours we can expect beyond the usual closing time. Presumably, just as many as it takes for the park to see nightfall, providing a suitable canvas for Dreams.

Whilst the 20th Anniversary doesn’t coincide with any major attraction investments, the chance to stay in the park until nightfall every day of the year represents a big gear-change for Disneyland Paris. Add to that a real, signature finale to each day with Dreams — produced by Disneyland California entertainment legend Steve Davison and the team behind World of Color, did we forget to mention? — and the culmination of a huge investment in refurbishments. Looks like an E-Ticket year here.

VIA Disneyland Paris 2012 Brochure

Thursday, 10th November 2011

More visitors but higher losses in 2011 Financial Results as Disneyland Paris invests in assets

Increased revenues from the Parks, Hotels and Disney Village failed to outweigh the extra investment pumped into maintaining those assets during the past year, Disneyland Paris has recorded in its Fiscal Year 2011 Results, leading to a net loss of €64 million. Though these Resort operating revenues rose by €60m to €1,275.2m, they couldn’t make up for an increase of €42.3m in direct operating costs to pull Euro Disney SCA, the operating group behind the resort, out of a net loss. As CEO Philippe Gas comments, “This past year we further invested in enhancing the overall guest experience, by introducing longer park operating hours, adding new entertainment and improving the appearance of our guest facing assets. Although these investments increase our costs, they are critical to maintain our long-term attractiveness as Europe’s number one tourist destination.”

Numbers are made to look worse, year-on-year, by the exceptional €47m sale of the land beneath the Val d’Europe shopping centre last year, which also affected Third Quarter 2011 results. Had this not taken place, rather than losing “just” €45.2m in 2010 the company would have seen a €92.2m net loss last year. Considering the heavy operational investment leading up to the 20th Anniversary and the lack of new attractions, the resort perhaps didn’t fare too badly in 2011. In fact, the figures which remain strikingly positive are those for visitor numbers. Park attendance rose to a new record of 15.6 million visitors, while hotel room occupancy grew back up to 87.1% from 85.4% last year (it was at 87.3% in 2009). Average spending per room also increased by around €10 to €219.74, no mean feat given the economic climate across Europe and continuous special offers.

But, as ever, the challenge for Disneyland Paris remains turning these strong numbers into a profit on the bottom line. €123 million in borrowings was reported to have been paid back this year, but if the resort can’t turn a profit on 15.6 million visitors, will it ever climb out of its estimated €2 billion debt? Was the heavy investment in refurbishments this year a one-off, or just the level of rolling investment the resort should be putting into its parks and resort all the time? And if visitor numbers rise again for the 20th Anniversary, will that translate into a profit, or will grand plans for the new nighttime spectacular (etc) — and the longer opening hours required to present it — outweigh the gains yet again?

Speaking of which, the report finally confirms: “In April 2012, Disneyland Paris will launch the celebrations of its 20th Anniversary. A number of brand new experiences await guests, including Dreams, a night-time show with classic Disney storytelling and the latest technical special effects.”

Perhaps the greatest special effect Dreams can pull next year is that, come November, Euro Disney SCA inches into a profit. That’ll take more than faith, trust and pixie dust.

FULL REPORT Euro Disney SCA Fiscal Year 2011 Results (PDF)

Monday, 12th September 2011

Central Plaza tree clearance leads a trail to Castle moat… and 20th Anniversary dreams?

Central Plaza tree felling

When Disneyland Paris opened on 12th April 1992, the greenery of this luscious Disney park had been given less than five years to bed in on this previously rather barren expanse of Marne-la-Vallée. Now, after almost 20 years, it looks like it actually requires a little pruning. At least, that could be the first thought when fences went up around a block of greenery just off Central Plaza on 29th August. All the trees in this patch next to the terrace of Casey’s Corner had been marked for removal and, sure enough, just two days later a whole new vista was opened up…

Central Plaza tree felling

Trees are frequently replanted in Disney parks when they outgrow their surroundings, to maintain the correct scale with the forced-perspective buildings around them. But is that the entire story here? Along with the foliage updates, @InsideDLParis on Twitter has been charting a number of other interesting works going on around the hub of Disneyland Park. In particular, bright yellow ramps covering up works to the floor, seen below.

Central Plaza electrical wire installation Central Plaza electrical wire installation

What’s interesting here is that, from left to right, the work leads a trail all the way from this freshly-pruned patch across the entrances of Frontierland and Adventureland, seemingly leading all the way to the Castle moat. And today, more holes have appeared (photo) on the other side of the plaza, on the pavement nearest to Plaza Gardens Restaurant, seemingly leading into the planter behind the Central Plaza Stage’s show control booth.

We’ve marked all the works on the map below, showing the felled area in red and the trail of temporary ground works in yellow. What do you think — are plans already going into action for next year’s rumoured new nighttime spectacular?

Rough overview of 2011 Central Plaza work

It seems like a good moment to get up-to-date on those plans, anyway. Launching as the main event of the 20th Anniversary next April, we’re expecting a big and bold new evening show to take over this entire area. A real signature event for the park, combining water with projections, lighting effects and pyrotechnics. Possibly even live “show” elements on or around the central stage.

With noisy old-fashioned fireworks causing problems with local villages and no money for a vast Fantasmic-style arena, Disneyland Paris has always been a bit of a party pooper with its nighttime entertainment. Now, after 20 years, it looks like Disneyland Paris management at last want to give a day in their park a real grand finale. That is, after all, one of the key draws of every other Disney park.

This wouldn’t be a nighttime event that simply runs along the parade route or launches a few fizzles into the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle. It would, for all intents and purposes, be our World of Color: Those “fountains” we saw testing are likely to actually be the same kind of huge water screens used in that Disney California Adventure show-stopper, throwing plumes of water up from the moat with projections of Disney characters. This will be something that attempts to envelop this whole area of the park in a colourful, dazzling, immersive experience. Something you can only truly see for yourself, in reality, not filmed on YouTube.

Finally, a big finale is all well and good, but not if it has to happen during daylight (remember the not-so- “illuminating” Candleabration of the 15th Anniversary?) So here’s a real show-stopping rumour: longer park opening hours, throughout the year.

Disneyland Paris has been a beauty of a Disney park for 20 years. In 2012, it will start acting like one.

PHOTOS VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Wednesday, 13th July 2011

The Enchanted Fireworks returns to Disneyland Park for final summer season

That’s How You Know it’s summer! Since 2008 summer nights at Disneyland Park have ended with the popular finale of The Enchanted Fireworks, a modestly Disneyland Paris-sized firework show set to Alan Menken’s score for the Amy Adams fairytale blockbuster. But, when the final “bang” echoes over the fields of Marne-la-Vallée at the end of this (newly extended) summer on 4th September… that really is “The End” for this chapter in the park’s nighttime entertainment history. It has been confirmed that this is the final season for the spectacular, with not just a new fireworks show but a “new concept”, a big new concept, coming next year — we think you know the one.

So, as the sun sets and the day cools down, enjoy True Love’s Kiss and the Enchanted Suite coming to life in the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle for one last time. The show returned on Saturday and, as you can see at the end of the video, is determined to see its final year out with an extra bang!

Check out videos of the original 2008 show here, or the 2009 edition here.

VIA MrAlexis0211 (YouTube)

Tuesday, 10th May 2011

Tinker Bell presents the Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary logos, with lashings of pixie dust

Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary logo

A 20/20/20 vision: The official logos for the 20th Anniversary are here! Who cares there’s eleven months still to wait and that so far we only know one addition. Tinker Bell couldn’t wait any longer to prove that, when she’s not churning out direct-to-home video movies, there’s nothing she likes better than to jazz up a few anniversary logos with some pixie dust sparkle. This trio of three differently-formatted logos are the first pieces of the resort’s promotional materials for the big events of 2012 to be released, revealing a shiny, pretty, colourful logo that looks, well, exactly as you’d expect. Glossy lettering? Check! Pink castle? Check! Tinker Bell? Check! It looks a definite step up from the 15th Anniversary logo, however, with a much bolder and more modern design style that includes a nice multi-coloured pixie dust trail from Tink (reminiscent of Tokyo’s 25th designs)and giant sans-serif numbers. Even the Castle looks perfectly pretty, with no humiliating Mickey Mouse symbols plastered over its windows, something that had become worryingly trendy over recent years.

Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary logo Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary logo

One of the secondary logos simply features the Disneyland Paris logo with “20” to one side, similar to the classy alternative 15th Anniversary logo which became increasingly popular through that event. The semi-circular design of the main logo, meanwhile, looks like practically every Disneyland Paris logo of the late ’90s. It’s hard to know whether the recurring themes of the castle, Tinker Bell, fireworks, pixie dust and circular shapes show a lack of a imagination or a fun nod to the past. At least this time, the Peter Pan reference might tie into an actual anniversary event.

Past Disneyland Paris logos

What do you think? Let’s have scores out of 20!

Monday, 18th April 2011

Fountain tests in Sleeping Beauty Castle moat hint at big splash for 20th Anniversary

20th Anniversary fountain tests

It may just look like a few pipes in the waters around Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, but this is the photo everybody’s talking about. Because those aren’t just pipes, they’re fountains. Tested for a short time last week in the water behind Castle Stage, exactly one year before the date of the resort’s 20th Anniversary, it’s our first hint that something big is in preparation for next year’s anticipated celebration. We may not be talking World of Color given the space, but we could certainly be talking about at least un petit morceau of that experience as part of a big nightly event.

There may be a whole year to go, but these tests have still come relatively out of the blue for the park. World of Color has been mentioned as an aspiration for Walt Disney Studios Park in the past, but given the huge costs of installing the show (not to mention building a lake for it to actually perform on) it’s exciting to see that the technology at least might find a way to arrive in Paris much sooner than expected. And with that, anticipation for the 20th just rocketed. Less than 360 days to go, folks!

Update 19/04 — Our photo reporter Dlrpteam has sent over photos of more temporary installations around the area, being used as part of the current effects testing. It’s likely they’re “testing the waters” so to speak, to see just what can be achieved here before working on more in-depth plans:

20th Anniversary fountain tests

20th Anniversary fountain tests

20th Anniversary fountain tests

VIA Dlrpteam, Characters Photos Blog (Facebook)

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