Monday, 23rd July 2012

World of Disney officially inaugurated with grand opening ceremony — pictures, video

World of Disney has now completed its first full week of regular opening. The new Disneyland Paris flagship store, at the entrance to Disney Village, was inaugurated on 12th July 2012 with a special ceremony hosted by resort ambassadors Régis Alart and Osvaldo del Mistero.

Just as the colourful globe and Imagineering-designed architecture of the building itself has finally brought a true “Disney” touch to the resort hub, the ceremony saw the rare sight of Mickey, Minnie and Disney pomp in view of the RER and TGV station.

A modest but dedicated crowd of VIPs and visitors awaited the opening ceremony at 3pm, as the ambassadors, joined by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, introduced Joe Schott, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, and Pierre Monzani, Préfet of the local Seine-et-Marne area. The pair of officials, Joe Schott in less fluent but admirable French, then officially inaugurated the new store by cutting the ribbon as Régis and Osvaldo declared “World of Disney is now officially open!”.



As confetti rained down, the heavens opened in perfect Marne-la-Vallée timing, coating the “World of Disney” marquee, statues and globe in a spray of golden dust. DLRP Today.com reader Maarten was there to capture the events — more photos from inside the store will follow.

World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Maarten]

Disneyland Paris also released a selection of official photos from both inside and outside the new location, showing off its sumptuous interior and beautiful nighttime illumination. The red marble-effect “World of Disney” signage truly does create a real, unique beauty of a marquee. Quintessentially American but European influenced, as all the best things at Disneyland Paris are.

World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]
World of Disney Grand Opening [(C) Disney]

Video of the inauguration by sebichou92i (YouTube) follows… Read More…

Wednesday, 11th July 2012

World of Disney soft-opens for Cast Members, Shareholders, Passholders — and the public!

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris [(C) Alex, Disney Central Plaza]

Construction of World of Disney at the entrance to Disney Village really powered through its final months, with Disneyland Paris’ merchandising teams having the new flagship store stocked and ready to open its doors right on schedule for the first time last week. First came the Cast Members, always given the privilege of first previews, on Thursday 5th July, followed by two planned previews for both Shareholders Club members and Annual Passport Dream holders on Friday 6th.

Then, from this Saturday 7th, conveniently the start of the busy summer season when the esplanade in front of the store will be at its busiest with guests walking to and from the parks, the store opened its doors to everyone. This remains a “soft opening” period ahead of the official inauguration this Thursday, 12th July 2012, meaning the store could be closed at any time, but so far it is following its soon-to-be-regular 9am to 1am opening hours.

Inspired by the great department stores of Paris and beyond, World of Disney stocks a full range of Disneyland Paris merchandise. Clockwise from the main entrance, you can discover 20th Anniversary, collectibles, pins, candy, media, Paris, “Oh Mickey!”, adult clothing, kids clothing, costumes, plushes, toys and Disney by Britto ranges. The central domed area, where Mickey, Minnie and Pluto wave from a hot air balloon having enjoyed an evening in Paris, is dedicated to homewares and accessories.

Designed to present a “best of” from the resort’s other boutiques, World of Disney nevertheless still has some of its own exclusive products, indicated by special signs on each display. These include the limited edition T-shirts and lithographs, reproducing the beautiful murals which adorn the shop itself.

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris grand opening cast
World of Disney Grand Opening Cast Members

The entire store is both far better organised and easier to browse than its generically-titled Disney Store predecessor, having wide, clear aisles and a central concourse which loops right around the store connecting the three entrances. In the middle of the store, under the hot air balloon, is not another sales display but a comfy four-sided seat. Unlike other areas of the resort’s merchandising, where shop display rails fall, desperately, out into the pathway in a horribly tacky way, this is a store which draws you in and encourages you to linger. Pinging cash registers will surely follow.

And then there’s the design: Art Deco, 1920s/30s/40s inspired, nods to True-Life Adventures and even rare globe-trotting animations such as Saludos Amigos (find Pedro the plane!). The ten “21st Century Art Deco” murals designed exclusively for the space by Mike Kungl are a true asset to the store and the resort. Cast Members wear special period costumes, not generic off-the-hanger shirts, the entire interior and sales displays custom designed just for this space.

Outside, the public realm thankfully shrugs off, even completely ignores, the inhuman concrete warehouse architecture of Disney Village for something decidedly more “real” and town-like. High quality paving, steps, handrails and planters surround the exterior with its fun bas-relief panels featuring Disney characters restyled in Art Deco. Like the pleasing Earl of Sandwich, bookending the other end of Disney Village, this is hopefully the vision for further future development.

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris [(C) Alex, Disney Central Plaza]
Photos: Alex, Disney Central Plaza

True, the striking, slowly turning landmark glass dome with its recycled castle Tinker Bell looks somewhat less delicately ornate than may have been desired after the addition of its colourful globe motif, which in strong sunlight gives the effect of flat stuck-on transfers rather than a real opaque stained-glass effect; but see it at nighttime, when illuminated from within, for best effect.

Even the slightly odd-looking, off-model Mickey and Minnie statues, borrowed from the former World of Disney store in New York City, can be forgiven when you cast your eyes on the simply gorgeous “World of Disney” marquee signage itself, styled with a luxurious blue and red marble-effect. Earlier concepts showed the “o” of “World” styled as a Mickey Mouse shape; thankfully, this was styled back to a much classier plain “o”, avoiding the “Mickey fatigue” which can plague projects like this.

Though significantly more “petite” than its American cousins, this World of Disney makes up for its comparably quaint size with its bespoke design. There’s no other store like it, at Disneyland Paris or beyond; the Imagineers have successfully created a store that’s a destination all of its own and gives the previously colourless resort hub area a much-needed feel of “place”.

World of Disney will be officially inaugurated tomorrow, Thursday 12th July 2012, with a special ceremony at 3pm (for 3.30pm) in the presence of Philippe Gas, CEO

Preview photo round-up and interior videos follow… Read More…

Tuesday, 10th July 2012

World of Disney pre-opening preview: flagship store previewed in concepts, facts, video

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

Go to Disney Village today and you can already shop inside World of Disney, but the new flagship store isn’t officially open until this Thursday, 12th July, so there’s just time to take a more detailed look at its design, construction and final fitting out. Disneyland Paris hosted a preview of the store and its merchandising last month, teasing fans with the first views of its beautiful Art Deco interior, sales displays and product ranges. The full 26-slide presentation is feature here and continues below.

But first, the construction. At 1,500 m² of retail space the new store is some way short of its cousins in Florida and California (at 5,000 m² and 3,700 m² respectively) but still more than double the 700 m² floorspace of the former Disney Store nearby. A further 1,000 m² backstage and on the first floor is reserved for offices and stockrooms.

Adding a unique challenge to its construction, it actually sits right on top of the concrete box housing the high speed rail lines and platforms of Marne-la-Vallée Chessy TGV station, which was built before the opening of the resort. A large ventilation shaft for the platforms had to be incorporated into its design, visible during earlier construction but now unnoticeable within the floorspace.

World of Disney at Disneyland ParisWorld of Disney at Disneyland Paris

But that’s not the half of it: out went any idea of traditional building foundations and instead the entire store sits on a steel frame, able to expand and contract slightly as the temperature of the concrete box below changes.

All 8,000 tons of the finished store are spread evenly across its surface. This “floating foundation” also required the entire store to be built raised slightly above the rest of the surrounding area, requiring steps and ramps to meet its entrances. More a bonus than a problem, this also helps to give the store a more prestigious feel and keeps its entrances more accessible at times when crowds arriving or departing the parks reach crush level.

Of the ten pillars which encircle the domed centre of the store, only five are structural with the other five for decoration — yet they’re not purely decorative. Hidden grids allow them to become part of a complex heating and cooling system which has been designed right into the bones of the building for maximum efficiency. As a further enviromentally-friendly measure, 6 m² of solar panels have been hidden on the roof to heat water for backstage operations and break rooms, while LED lighting is utilised throughout the store to minimise energy use.

World of Disney at Disneyland ParisWorld of Disney at Disneyland Paris
World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

Departing for new destinations after an evening in Paris are Mickey, Minnie and Pluto, riding a hot air balloon within the starry-sky dome at the heart of the store. Below them, a cloud-shaped seat invites guests to sit and admire the spectacular space.

Ten spectacular Art Deco panoramas line the perimeter, designed exclusively for the space by American painter of Disney Fine Art and graphic designer Mike Kungl. Termed “21st Century Art Deco” by Kungl, the moderne-style artworks at World of Disney see groups of Disney characters traversing the four corners of the Disney world. A selection of large limited edition lithographs are available to purchase from the opening of the store, costing €99 framed or €69 unframed.

World of Disney at Disneyland ParisWorld of Disney at Disneyland Paris
World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

Kungl, who has previously created similar pieces of Disney Fine Art, was also responsible for the eight bas-relief artworks which have been visible around the store’s exterior for several months. These were originally sculpted to a finer scale before being scanned and cast in “reconstituted” stone which, with its warmer tone, actually makes up the bulk of the exterior cladding, rather than the solid granite used nearer ground level.

The signature globe roof dome, meanwhile, actually spins on its axis throughout the day. Turning at a rate of 2 km/h, it takes roughly 1 minute for a full revolution, during which time you’ll see stars marking out the location of the other Disney resorts — even including Shanghai, due to open December 2015.

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris
World of Disney at Disneyland Paris

But this is a shop first and foremost, and within the sliding entrance doors you’ll find no less than fifteen well-defined product areas, with 32 cash registers waiting to complete your purchase — 27 permanent, plus 5 more standalone and mobile stations. During the grand opening, you’ve the chance to pick up products not just exclusive to World of Disney but actually branded for the shops inauguration: a pin and two T-shirts mark the occasion.

More slides, floorplan of the store and video follows… Read More…

Saturday, 24th March 2012

Rumour: LEGO Store to replace Hollywood Pictures in Disney Village

The LEGO Imagination Center, Downtown Disney Anaheim

We’ve been anticipating for years that the opening of the all-encompassing World of Disney would swallow up the requirement for several of Disney Village‘s original shopping destinations, clearing out units for new uses. With the new store well on its way to completion, we’ve got our first possibility for one of those new tenants: LEGO. Following the expected September opening for World of Disney, rumour has it that the current Hollywood Pictures boutique will be cleared out to make way for a LEGO store in the same unit in Winter 2013.

Numerous LEGO Stores can be found across the United States, with a more limited scattering of seven in the UK, nine in Germany and one in Denmark. The two of note, of course, are the LEGO Imagination Center stores in Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Florida. These larger-format stores are decorated with Disney-themed brick models and offer special activities alongside the sale of bricks and model kits. Hollywood Pictures, especially with its flat façade, might not allow for quite the same look as these stand-alone stores, but it is one of the larger spaces soon to become available in Disney Village.

One of the few dashes of Hollywood glamour at the Euro Disney Resort in 1992, this Festival Disney original (pictured below with its original marquee) became rather superfluous as long ago as 2002 with the opening of Walt Disney Studios Park. Its neon lights, colourful murals and art deco details provide a near identical experience to the Legends of Hollywood boutique inside Disney Studio 1.

Hollywood Pictures original marquee (1992-2005)Hollywood Pictures interior

Of the four shops in this row, Hollywood Pictures will be the most surplus to requirements post-World of Disney. The Disney Gallery could still have a niche in collectibles and the recently-revamped Disney Fashion could certainly stay on as the hub for Disney-branded clothing. World of Toys, which sits between Hollywood Pictures and Café Mickey, will have an awkwardly-similar name and would be another likely candidate for replacement. Further back down the street, the generic Disney Store presents the biggest opportunity, big enough for a large restaurant or to be split into several units.

Helping to build upon these rumours are the recent refurbishments of LEGO’s two existing Disney locations. The Florida Imagination Center reopened following a revamp in April 2011, while a project to improve the Californian location (pictured in the concept art above) has just begun. Constructing a third store in Paris at roughly the same time next Winter would give LEGO a neat annual investment programme in Disney properties and a presence in France which it currently lacks.

This might seem a conflict of interest, given the LEGOLAND parks in Windsor, Billund and Germany, but these, along with the indoor Discovery Centres in Berlin, Duisberg and Manchester, are operated separately by Merlin Entertainments with LEGO retaining only a 30% stake. With numerous Disney ranges in recent years such as Toy Story, Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean, not to mention Star Wars, such a store would add welcome variety to the merchandise offer at Disneyland Paris.

SOURCE RadioDisneyClub

Wednesday, 21st March 2012

Two domes on new World of Disney store – but two month grand opening delay ahead?

World of Disney store in Disney Village (C) @InsideDLParis

Major progress for the resort’s new landmark World of Disney store since our last update. Besides walls, windows, awnings, Art Deco details and some gorgeous Disney character bas-relief panels, the future flagship store of Disney Village has also acquired its two mighty domes. The largest, above the main entrance to the store, brought with it the surprise of turquoise glass panes being installed in its steel structure rather than something, well, “cheaper”. Earlier concept art had shown the dome with smaller, opaque panes to form part of a globe that will, through visual trickery, project downwards into the main atrium of the store itself, looking like a single globe rather than two domes. Whether the dome is still going to eventually represent the Earth is unclear, but the glass is a welcome addition to the otherwise rather false façade of Disney Village.

The second dome sits atop the entrance nearest the existing Disney Village area. With its striking bronze colour, it lends the development an air of that famous Los Angeles landmark the Griffith Observatory, joining the Imagineers’ main inspiration of famous LA department stores.

All around the store, the repaving project from the entrance to Walt Disney Studios Park has spilled out onto the main esplanade in recent weeks. Along with the area around the main security barrier for Disneyland Park being closed for repaving, requiring guests to walk a little further around into the park, some elements of the old Disney Village entrance “wall” have been removed from around the new store. Columns which previously separated this area from the esplanade have been removed, as have several remaining trees from a planter in front of the building, opening the area up. Reports have circulated that Disney will at last take control of some portion of this area from the French government, allowing them to protect the entrance to the new store, which opens directly onto the hub, from the undesirable street sellers which are known to populate this “public” area.

Though progress has been steady over the past year, the store has also reportedly gained an extra two of something elsewhere: two more months on its construction schedule. Publicised in the 20th Anniversary Spring/Summer brochure for a July opening, this then became an optimistic June as Philippe Gas announced at the shareholders’ meeting. Now, the date appears to have slipped to September, crucially missing the busy summer season of the resort’s 20th year.

The store appears eagerly anticipated by fans and visitors, with “When does the new World of Disney store open?” being one of the top questions of the moment.

PHOTO @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Sunday, 24th July 2011

Disney to take control of Groupe Flo-operated Disney Village restaurants?

You might never have realised it, but that Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Fish ‘n’ Chips you ate at Café Mickey wasn’t necessarily a “Disney” meal at all. Along with most of the other Disney Village restaurants, Café Mickey is actually managed and operated under contract by Groupe Flo, a large French catering company. Or at least, for now it is — member Mr Freddy on Disney Central Plaza Forum has shared the interesting news that Café Mickey, along with Annette’s Diner and presumably The Steakhouse, all part of Groupe Flo’s “Euro-Gastronomie” subsidiary, will come under full Disney control when the current contract ends on 1st October 2011. Citing the fact that Disney now has more experience in restaurant management in Paris and can probably make some considerable savings (it is said to pay Groupe Flo €10m a year for the contract), another member suggests the handover could even mean each of the restaurants closing for between a week and a full month at the end of the this year, ready to become fully Disney-operated establishments from January. The change won’t affect Rainforest Cafe or King Ludwig’s Castle, which are managed under separate contracts to Groupe Flo and will likely always be separate to Disney.

With Disney able to completely control the management and operation of the venues, rather than just make changes at arms-length, it will be interesting to see what differences, if any, we might spot when the changeover takes place. Looking at the bigger picture, this move may even tie in with promised developments for the Village over the next ten years, as Disneyland Paris slowly continues to improve the offering and give it more of a “Disney” stamp with projects like World of Disney.

And if DLRP Today had been handed the contract instead? Well, besides some poorly-cooked Fantasia Mushrooms, for starters you’d at least see that tacky blue tent add-on to Café Mickey ripped off and a proper extension built onto the building instead.

VIA pussinboots (magicforum), Mr Freddy (Disney Central Plaza)

Tuesday, 28th June 2011

Earl of Sandwich inaugurated by John Montagu, 11th Earl of the same name

Earl of Sandwich Disney Village inauguration

It’s almost a month since Earl of Sandwich grabbed a slice of the fast food action in Disney Village, bringing an ample selection of freshly-prepared hot sandwiches to the banks of Lake Disney. The restaurant, the chain’s first in mainland Europe, was officially inaugurated back on Wednesday, 15th June with Euro Disney CEO Philippe Gas, Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl (second from right) and the 11th Earl of Sandwich himself, John Montagu (third from right). A predictably oversized ribbon and scissors were brought out for the occasion.

So far the restaurant already appears to be earning a loyal following of European fans, with many positive remarks for service, taste and the design of the new building. One negative, though is for the price of drinks: with a 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola at €3.50 they’ve managed to make the €2.60 normally charged by Disney seem like a steal (although a 400ml cup is available for €2.50). For a family, it soon makes a reasonably-priced sandwich into a rather expensive fast food meal.

You can find the full Earl of Sandwich menu on our Restaurant Menus pages, which has also seen the menu for the nearby New York Style Sandwiches updated. In response to the new competition, this small Disney-owned eatery has changed its focus away from hot paninis to pizza and pasta.

What are your first impressions of the Earl? Got a favourite sandwich from the 16 on offer yet?

Wednesday, 15th June 2011

Disney Fashion store in the Village is finally… fashionable!

Disney Fashion store

You could have been entirely forgiven for thinking, up until now, that the Disney Fashion store in Disney Village was something of an afterthought — because it was. Originally known as Team Mickey, stocking Disney-branded sports gear, it continued to amble along with that name even after the sports items had long been phased out in favour of general clothing. Eventually given a rebrand in 2007, its interior was functional and uninspiring, like a dull factory outlet shop. But now, after briefly closing for a complete restyling, the store has been transformed — it’s finally fashionable! Less factory shop more quirky boutique, products are laid out in busy themed areas filled with colourful furniture and eclectic props, with as few dull racks as possible. Yes, very trendy — or should that be “Tren-D”? It’s looking very much like the TrenD store in Orlando’s Downtown Disney, which is a nice surprise indeed.

As we’ve discussed before, the opening of the all-encompassing World of Disney next year negates the need for several of the original Disney Village stores along this side of the street, offering an opportunity for a much-needed revitalisation. The generic (and tired) Disney Store is an obvious one to be replaced with something new, whilst Disney Fashion probably seemed the safest — and this seems to confirm it. For the remaining Hollywood Pictures and World of Toys next door, it would be nice if Paris could look to other concepts from the Downtown Disney districts, such as D Street or Disney Vault 28

MORE PHOTOS Disney Gazette

Friday, 3rd June 2011

Earl of Sandwich now open at Disney Village – first impressions, facts & photos!

Earl of Sandwich Disney Village

One year of heavy construction and several years of planning later, Earl of Sandwich is now open at Disney Village! The new counter service restaurant overlooking Lake Disney officially opened on Wednesday, 1st June after a special preview event on Monday. Photos here come courtesy of Xavier Triquet (full album), while you can see even more via NewsParcs, Matthieu Bernet and Disney Gazette. Stepping inside the huge glass box building, you’re welcomed by a warm wooden floor and a thoroughly modern interior — with plenty of nods back to the 18th Century. The ground floor has an airy double-height dining area with a suspended globe and a ring of modern ball lights, leading through to the ordering and serving area underneath the first floor mezzanine.

Here, you first join the queue to order your sandwiches and hot snacks, with a novel timer handed to you to indicate when they’re ready. You’re then free to pick up any extras such as desserts or potato chips, all well-presented on the counter, before paying and enjoying your meal. At the centre of the upper floor is a unique circular bench with two semi-circular tables wrapping around it –sure to become a popular dining place, especially with that stunning view across the lake to the hotel district. The outdoor terrace is more basic, with more modern furniture and a rather industrial-looking awning canopy.

Earl of Sandwich Disney Village

Earl of Sandwich Disney Village

Official figures cite the investment by Earl of Sandwich here, for its 15th restaurant overall, at 5 million euros with 80 jobs created. They hope to serve between 2,000 and 2,500 sandwiches a day, with a threshold of around 3,000 on busy peak days. The restaurant offers a choice of no less than 16 hot sandwiches — including three new creations for Disney Village such as the delightfully named “Le Frenchy” — all priced at a flat €5.50, while special breakfast sandwiches and kids sandwiches are priced at €3.50. Intriguingly, there’s no set-price “menu” that the Disney counter service restaurants are so fond of — where you have a choice of two meal combinations giving a slight saving — with the Earl instead preferring everyone to piece together their own meal for now, which can also include hot soup, salads and wraps. With this level of choice (roughly four times as many sandwiches as Market House Deli or Blockbuster Café), great presentation and cheaper prices, we hope the Earl also handed out a few free sandwich coupons to Disney’s own restaurateurs.

VIA Xavier Triquet / Vinylmation Disneyland Paris, Disney Gazette

Wednesday, 25th May 2011

Earl of Sandwich rushes to Disney Village opening with final touches, signage… and prices!

Earl of Sandwich

One week from now, you’ll be able to enjoy your very first Earl of Sandwich meal in Disney Village! It’s been a long wait for this new sandwich chain to open its Disneyland Paris location on the edge of Lake Disney, but now the final touches are being applied inside and out. As the photo taken on Saturday by @InsideDLParis on Twitter above shows, signage is up on both sides of the building, floating stylishly in the middle of the glazing. Pieces of the circular tower and other elements of the façade have finally begun to arrive, at last hiding the steel frames we’ve been watching for months. At the side of the building, the staircase up to the rear terrace is going in. Also of note, the relaid ground in front of the new restaurant. When this was dug up, fans wondered if it might mark the start of a new paving scheme for the Village, but no — it’s the same wavy coloured style as the rest of the street.

Earl of Sandwich

The first official photo from inside the restaurant also emerged recently (above), showing an Earl of Sandwich-branded construction helmet in front of the faux-bookcase positioned next to the mezzanine level. This shows good progress towards the final design, which we’ve not posted before, shown below. The main feature as you walk inside will be a huge historic wall map of Europe, centred on England.

Earl of Sandwich

And how much will an Original 1762 or Full Montagu cost in Paris? Apparently sandwiches will be set at a flat €5.50 each. That’s around €1.25 more than the $5.99 charged in the US (around $6.35 with tax), and a euro more (based on current rates) than what the Earl is charging in his first European restaurant. Yes, that’s right — although the Disney Village location was touted as Earl of Sandwich’s entry to the European market, it was beaten just this month by a restaurant on Ludgate Hill in the City of London, which is charging £3.95 per sandwich. That’s roughly similar to the many other sandwich and coffee chains lining the same street, which leads up to St Paul’s Cathedral. Still, even if the Disney Village outlet is the most expensive, Earl of Sandwich is still going to be beating Disney’s own counter service sandwiches (priced €6.00 and up) by a neat 50 cents — for freshly-prepared-in-front-you, hot snacks. Better watch out, Disney — the real sandwiches are coming.

VIA InsideDLParis (Twitter), Disney Gazette, Grandmath (DCP)

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