Disneyland Paris has been named a three-star tourist attraction by the famous Michelin Green Guides, the highest distinction from the travel publisher. The accolade was accepted by ambassadors Jonathan and Antonella, dedicating it to the Cast Members who “offer daily hospitality and quality service to our visitors”.
Listed separately as Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios, the two Disney parks are now both marked as “Highly Recommended” three-star attractions on Michelin’s Paris travel guide. Looking at the competition, Parc Astérix to the north of Paris has only a two-star “Recommended” rating, though the mouse shouldn’t be too complacent — Disney Village is marked out by only a single star.
Many will of course remember the excellent series of classic Green Guides or “Guides Vert” and fold-out maps produced by Michelin in the early years of the resort. Providing concise and clear overviews of the resort — and now, a fascinating glimpse into its history — they’re well worth hunting down on places like Amazon Marketplace.
To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of “it’s a small world”, around 50 new artworks by Mary Blair are now available to purchase from The Art of Disney on Demand, at The Disney Gallery boutique in Disney Village. Read More…
Joined by the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors, the Vice President of LEGO Europe and a special walkaround “LEGO mascot” named Tom, the new boutique’s team of brick-building enthusiasts cut the ribbon and invited the first shoppers inside the store.
Using the same modern design scheme of other European shopping mall LEGO Stores, this flagship location can boast being the largest on the continent. That said, it’s not massively bigger — at almost 600m² only roughly the size of Hollywood Pictures that was there before — but with walls piled high with LEGO sets and a minimalist aesthetic it does look like a bigger, much more exciting retail space. And certainly a vast improvement on the tired Hollywood Pictures.
Disneyland Paris Ambassadors, Antonella and Jonathan met “Tom” the store’s mascot and Ward Van Duffel, Vice President and General Manager of LEGO Europe at the store’s opening this morning and shared a series of photos from inside the new shop.
LEGO’s all-glass shopfront is immediately the most modern in Disney Village, offering a full view inside the colourful store to passing customers. Brick murals of Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland Hotel and Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups are featured centrally on the bright yellow podium along with a textured, LEGO brick logo.
Where most other LEGO Stores have just a single yellow brick ceiling feature in the middle of the store, this flagship has several, of different sizes, creating more unique areas within the store.
All the LEGO Store favourites are present and correct: the free building table, the build-your-own Minifigure display, and the clever augmented reality scanner that lets you hold a LEGO set up and see the finished creation on screen in 3D.
Here, the popular trademark “Pick-a-Brick wall”, which lets you fill cartons with your choice of loose bricks, isn’t on the back wall of the store as standard, but a larger free-standing wall, with even more LEGO sets behind.
Despite not being as grand as the longstanding LEGO Imagination Center in Orlando or self-contained LEGO Store Anaheim, this new Disneyland Paris example does feature the same special models and customisations.
A huge, stunning brick mural of Prince Phillip fighting dragon Maleficent sits just inside the door, with murals of The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Star Wars line the walls, which are also criss-crossed by a long green monster.
Other full-scale models featured are Sorcerer Mickey, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, and R2D2.
LEGO Store Disney Village opens 9am to midnight, daily.
Disneyland Paris has just minutes ago confirmed that the long-awaited and overdue LEGO Store in Disney Village will open this Friday, 28th February, at 9am.
The news was announced on the resort’s official Twitter feed at 5.00pm, following rumours for a few days that this Friday could finally see the retailer of plastic bricks open its doors.
Speaking of what will be Europe’s largest LEGO Store, Disneyland Paris added: “This new development will reinforce the shopping experience at #DisneylandParis, with a new family concept”.
A number of customisations and custom-built models will be featured in the new store, which has faced a number of set-backs and delays to its opening, including a LEGO-brick Sorcerer Mickey statue and murals of popular Disneyland Paris icons.
While several restaurants and attractions are operated within Disney Village by third parties, LEGO will be Disney’s first externally-let retail unit, finally opening up the merchandise offer beyond the standard Disneyland Paris range now perfected by World of Disney.
Operators of the PanoraMagique balloon in Disney Village have announced the attraction will get a new entrance leading directly from the main avenue of the entertainment district, publishing the image above to give an idea of their plans.
Since opening in April 2005, the Aerophile ride has had an entrance gangway and ticket booth to the left of the above photo, leading towards Disney’s Hotel New York.
Changes to security barriers around the resort in 2012 no doubt caused the operators some headaches, as Disney Village became part of the main “Parks” area. This now allows visitors to move freely between the Parks and Village without any barriers, but the use of the old “road train” waiting canopy next to Café Mickey meant the boundary to the hotels was drawn right before the balloon’s entrance, leaving it out on a periphery.
Under the new plans, the entrance will be directly ahead of guests, opposite Earl of Sandwich as they walk up through Disney Village, affording it much greater visibly and prominence, and giving the ballon more of that classic Disney “weenie” effect.
To allow the works to take place, PanoraMagique will be closed from 10th to 31st March 2014.
The new store, which replaces the tired Hollywood Pictures, was originally announced for “Autumn 2013” and due to open on 27th September 2013, but suffered a major setback late in construction when much of the suspended ceiling collapsed. This was since refitted and final decorative elements begun to be put in place — including those elusive LEGO bricks in models specially commissioned for Disneyland Paris.
Peeking under the construction walls in late December, InsideDLParis managed to get a look at the installations, which include Sorcerer Mickey and figures of Woody and Buzz Lightyear.
A second confirmed opening date of 14th January then failed to materialise, with Disneyland Paris sending out an official statement announcing the opening had been postponed “due to a delay in construction work resulting from new building regulations” and that we would be kept informed of further developments.
Just last week, the walls came down to reveal the full glass shopfront, blocked out by a temporary frosted covering.
Presuming the store still needs to be stocked and have its staff trained and prepared, an opening may not be exactly imminent but shouldn’t be too far away now, either.
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…
Disneyland Paris has now been visited more than 275 million times
Between 2009 and 2013, around €510 million has been invested in the maintenance and development of the destination
There are over 14,000 Cast Members working over 500 different professions; 6,454 employees were hired in 2013
Inclusivity: Over 581 workers are disabled, an increase of over 50% since 2007, whilst 53 “seniors” aged over 50 were hired in 2013
Climbing the ladder: 80% of Managers and Senior Managers present in 2013 had been promoted internally, while the group hired 458 local residents who had experienced long-term unemployment
Val d’Europe now has 30,000 residents and provides 28,000 jobs
Hotel refurbishment programme is on-going, covering all 5,800 rooms, with all 1,100 rooms of Disney’s Newport Bay Club to be completed in 2014
14.9 million visitors in 2013 (down from 16 million in 2012 and 15.6 in 2011)
Hotel occupancy down to 79.3% in 2013, from 84% in 2012 and 87.1% in 2011
Guest spending continues to grow: the average guest spends €48.14 in the parks and €235.01 per room in the Disney Hotels
According to questionnaires, 63% of guests were “extremely” and “very” satisfied with their visits; 89% of guests would “definitely” and “probably” come back
Disney Dreams! scored a 92% guest satisfaction rating for fiscal year 2013
4 million items have been sold at World of Disney since its opening in 2012
Staffed 24 hours a day by 200 Cast Members, the “Hercules” warehouse complex is more than 15 times the size of an Olympic swimming pool; in 2013 it was refitted with dimming, sensing, low-energy lighting by partner Osram
Scheduled for completion in late 2015, the fifth Val de France hotel, to be operated by B&B Hotels, will add 400 rooms to the resort
90% of the land at Villages Nature will not be built on; the Center Parcs joint project will be developed in several phases over the next 20 years
87 milion gallons of drinking water are expected to be saved each year once the new backstage water treatment and recycling plant becomes fully operational
Ratatouille: l’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy will be “by far the most advanced and sophisticated thing we’ve ever done from a ride integration standpoint. It will offer guests a totally immersive experience into a Disney•Pixar adventure” — Joe Schott, Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
“This never-before-seen family attraction will magically shrink guests to the size of the movie’s adorable star, Rémy. They will then be whisked off for a multi-sensory spin around the kitchens of Chef Gusteau”
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?
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.
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.
We all have those odd jobs we never quite get round to and you’ll need to be a longtime reader of DLRPToday.com now to remember the demise of Hurricanes Discotheque back in March 2010. So it’s with some relief that, three years on, we report the unmistakably ’90s nightclub spot in Disney Village is at last being white-washed into the history books.
The latest photo above by DisneyGazette.fr shows the exterior stripped of its colourful fake palm trees and the stairs repainted in plain white — removing the previous Hurricanes Discotheque branding and slogans. Here’s hoping the tacky beach shack and all other remnants will be removed soon, too.
Below, the venue as it was before, pictured in April 2012.
Current consensus seems to be that the location will become a Cast Member restaurant or break space, a slightly disappointing use for a prime space within Disney Village which would itself still benefit from an improved dining offer. Previous rumours, soon after the nightclub’s closure, were for an ESPN Zone, a new Sports Bar or an Italian restaurant.
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