Friday, 15th March 2013

St Patrick’s Day 2013 programme: Irish music and dance takes over Disneyland Paris

St Patrick's Day at Disneyland Paris

This Sunday, Disneyland Paris celebrates St Patrick’s Day for one day only with music, dance, fireworks and special character appearances. The full programme of events was released today, confirming the annual Irish celebrations will again be hosted largely in the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area of Frontierland, a tradition begun last year and continued with the St David’s Welsh Festival just last weekend.

On 17th March 2013, guests can expect special appearances from Disney characters in costumes inspired by the Emerald Isle, along with free face painting, a pipe band, Irish musicians and dance shows from the Sarah Clark Academy with special guests Chip ‘n’ Dale. A special fireworks display ends the day as a precursor to Disney Dreams! and the fun continues into the night at Disney Village.

All the times and details are in the programme attached below… Read More…

Thursday, 28th February 2013

Disneyland Paris officially announces “new Ratatouille-themed attraction” for 2014

Ratatouille dark ride

You thought it might never happen. But at last, the Ratatouille dark ride is official. After years of winks and nods to this open secret from Euro Disney S.C.A. officials, not to mention that vast concrete shell of a showbuilding at Walt Disney Studios Park, CEO Philippe Gas has today publicly confirmed that a “Ratatouille-themed attraction” will open at Disneyland Paris in 2014.

Here’s the full press release, released to coincide with today’s Shareholders annual general meeting:

Marne-la-Vallée, 28 February 2013. During the group’s annual shareholder meeting on 28 February, Euro Disney Chairman Philippe Gas announced plans for the continued development of Disneyland Paris, with the addition of a new attraction based on the hit Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille.

‘Our new family-focused Ratatouille attraction, which is scheduled to open in 2014, symbolises all of the creativity, innovation and emotion that guests associate with a Disneyland Paris experience,’ Gas said.

Set to open in Walt Disney Studios Park, the attraction is part of the group’s long-term commitment to investing in high-quality guest experiences. That strategy has been fundamental to strengthening the appeal of the multi-day destination, which achieved record-breaking attendance of 16 million visits in 2012.

This unique attraction will take guests into the world of the Oscar-winning Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille which tells the tale of Remy – a talented young rat who dreams of becoming a renowned French chef. Disney storytelling and state-of-the-art technology will come together in this romantic, larger-than-life, Parisian experience.

‘By developing this new Ratatouille attraction, we continue to ensure our guests can experience their favourite Disney stories in memorable ways that only Disney can provide,’ Gas said. ‘The theme, which is very français, is a tribute to our capital and the unforgettable characters that make Ratatouille the ideal choice for an attraction that fits perfectly at Disneyland Paris.’

The group also announced the extension of its 20th Anniversary celebrations until 30 September 2013. Guests now have a second chance to enjoy the festivities that include a new twist on the award-winning ‘Disney Dreams!’ spectacular. The unforgettable show will now be enriched with scenes from two much-loved Disney animated classics, The Lion King and Brave. In addition,each performance will become an interactive experience when guests wear Disney Light’Ears.

These magical Mickey ears will change colour in time with the show, making ‘Disney Dreams!’ an even more spectacular experience for the whole family.

From today’s annual general meeting, the operating group’s strategy for the resort is now more firmly fixed on expanding Walt Disney Studios Park into a viable partner for Disneyland Park, though no detail was apparently given beyond this already-under construction development.

The press release naturally fails to give many details away about the new attraction — there’s plenty of time ahead for that. Hopefully this is just the start of a well-organised promotional campaign to maximise this €150 million investment. Disneyland Paris has been notoriously poor at “hyping” its new attraction openings, compared to other theme parks and the American Disney resorts — notably California — which build interest with updates and teasers well in advance of the opening date.

Here’s to Paris, 2014…

VIA Disneyland Paris Corporate (PDF)

Thursday, 14th February 2013

LEGO Store for Disney Village all but confirmed by assistant manager recruitment notice?

Hollywood Pictures in Disney Village at Disneyland Paris (Photo: PhotosMagiques.com)

Long-standing rumours of a LEGO Store in Disney Village have been given new immediacy by the posting of a job recruitment notice for assistant managers. Posted on the Mercuri Urval website, the listing originally made explicit reference to a LEGO-branded retail store at Disneyland Paris and even went so far as to claim it will be the biggest in Europe. The page has now been amended to become more ambiguous, but still references a “flagship / concept store”.

We first reported rumours of a new LEGO Store in March 2012 when, in the lead up to the opening of World of Disney, the now rather superfluous Hollywood Pictures store was seen to be the likely location for such an outlet. That’s still the case, and some rumours suggest LEGO could open as soon as June — but so far there’s no word of an imminent closure for the movie-themed merchandise shop.

Following World of Disney opening last July, which sells the vast majority of general Disneyland Paris merchandise, the older Disney Store was reconfigured into more of a “character merchandise” location featuring franchises such as Star Wars and Cars. A “boutique” refit of Disney Fashion was also completed last year, leaving the remaining Disney Village stores to find a new raison d’être.

LEGO Stores have recently opened elsewhere in France at Lille and Paris’ SO Ouest shopping mall. Locations at the Downtown Disney districts in Florida and California, which are more of an “experience” with large custom-built Disney brick models, were originally given more prestigious “LEGO Imagination Centre” branding, but now appear to be being titled with simply the LEGO name.

Example LEGO Store
Hollywood Pictures in Disney Village at Disneyland Paris (Photo: PhotosMagiques.com)

Given the floorspace of Hollywood Pictures, the Disney Village location could be big, but maybe not particularly huge. Perhaps LEGO could use the World of Toys store next door too, especially since it would have its through-access cut off from the row of shops here anyway.

Just please, do something about that orange shopfront…

• See the current store: Photos Magiques recently added a new Hollywood Pictures photo gallery

VIA Mercuri Urval, J. Thaddeus Toad, jul (Disney Central Plaza)

Wednesday, 13th February 2013

Free Wi-Fi coming to Disney Hotels, Disney Village and beyond in next year

Disneyland Hotel at Disneyland Paris

Your 2013/2014 holiday to Disneyland Paris might now feel a lot more like a 21st Century experience. Lagging behind for years in internet access offering, Disneyland Paris has made a surprise sudden move towards offering more widespread — and crucially, free — Wi-Fi access across the resort.

Announced late on Monday was that the prestigious Disneyland Hotel now offers free Wi-Fi access. Then, on Tuesday, the official Twitter feed of the resort followed that up by confirming free Wi-Fi would be rolled out gradually within the next year to all other Disney Hotels, along with convention centres, Golf Disneyland and even Disney Village.

Free Wi-Fi is now arguably considered as important as other hotel room fixtures such as a television. From previously offering only patchy and expensive Wi-Fi access in only the four higher tier Disney Hotels, this move will add some much-needed additional value back to those — many say — overpriced “on property” room nights. Guests have in the past been faced with the frankly absurd situation that, for example, the ultra-basic €52 per night Ibis Budget over at Val d’Europe offered free Wi-Fi, but the €459 minimum Disneyland Hotel did not.

The inclusion of Disney Village in these plans is interesting. Could that be a commercial decision, to make the entertainment district more inviting for visitors to “dwell” longer, or could it even be an easier test bed for eventually covering the whole of the resort — and both parks — by free Wi-Fi? Last year, Walt Disney World began offering free Wi-Fi to visitors within its Magic Kingdom park, with plans to roll it out to all four parks and Downtown Disney over there too.

Besides giving guests what they now see as an almost essential home comfort, providing free Wi-Fi will also exponentially increase the number of status updates, photos and videos posted to social media websites during guests’ stays, especially at Disneyland Paris where many guests have had to avoid “roaming” charges for foreign networks, giving the Disney Parks perhaps their most powerful ever marketing tool: us.

VIA @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter)

Thursday, 2nd August 2012

Disney Store modestly renews focus to Christmas and characters – for how long?

Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]

Ah, the Disney Store. Not the one in your nearby shopping mall, but the generically titled store that used to be the largest in Disney Village. Now effectively replaced and superseded in both size, style and location by World of Disney, you might well think this rather tired location will be at a loss to find a raison d’être. But, reopening after a short closure on 14th July, it now sees a renewed focus to character groups and a new dedicated Christmas section — the first outside the parks.

Little else has been renewed, however. All the old 1990s props and decoration — including the large spaceship mobile hanging in the centre of the store — remain intact. The ugly dayglo-coloured flat signage outside is still in place, still carrying the generic “Disney Store” name.

Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]
Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]

Some effort has been made to tie the interior together better, with a smart new mural or “fresque” installed above the displays around the edge of the store, signifying areas for franchises such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars and Cars or even individual characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse. This is slightly different at least to the displays at World of Disney, which largely group items by categories such as homewares and favour resort merchandise over franchise ranges.

Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]
Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]
Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]

Meanwhile the small lower area of Disney Store, historically the original La Poste postal office, is now a dedicated Christmas space. Since the 15th Anniversary it has featured the current season’s merchandise, most recently changing to 20th Anniversary displays for a few months before this recent change. The modest decoration of lights, tinsel, trimmings and props isn’t bad at all, but only stuck-on snow in the window announces this as a Christmas shop from outside.

Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]
Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]Disney Store in Disney Village [(C) Maarten]

Presumably all of these changes are merely a stop-gap measure before it’s decided what to do with this space in the longer term. Perhaps split it into several smaller, well-branded boutiques? Or a large (and much-needed) new restaurant? Or why not demolish this whole oppressive, monolithic block and start again, using some of the empty backstage space to create more space out front? We can dream.

In the short term, the restricted opening hours, nondescript name (still curiously overlapping with the actual Disney Store brand) and dated interior almost give the feel of a cut-price outlet store. The store now only opens from 4pm onwards each day, an obvious sign that it’s living on borrowed time.

With rumours of a LEGO store to replace the similarly-inflicted Hollywood Pictures shop further along, let’s hope Disney Village’s true retail revolution is still to come.

PHOTOS Maarten for DLRP Today.com

Thursday, 2nd August 2012

What’s on the shelves: a browse around the merchandise of World of Disney

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris [(C) Maarten]

It can be a beautiful piece of Disney architecture and filled with fun facts and details, but a shop is ultimately only as good as the merchandise its sells. How does World of Disney compare? DLRP Today.com reader Maarten has kindly captured a lengthy photo tour of the new store, showing us what’s on the shelves of this new flagship location for Disneyland Paris merchandise.

Though the store largely presents a kind of “best of” collection of merchandise available at an array of stores across the resort, organised largely by product type through hats, mugs, towels, and so on, it does also introduce a few of its own exclusive ranges. These displays, signified by special “World of Disney – Produits Exclusifs” placards, include items from the colourful Disney by Britto range, designed by pop artist Romero Britto.

One of the main benefits of World of Disney, besides perhaps not having to visit several stores to buy the merchandise that’s taken your eye, is that the aisles between the actual shelves are much wider and more spacious than in any other store at the resort.

World of Disney at Disneyland Paris [(C) Maarten]World of Disney at Disneyland Paris [(C) Maarten]

Continues with 46 more photos… Read More…

Tuesday, 31st July 2012

World of Disney rises in new time-lapse “making of” video featuring store’s creators

Francis Guerrier, World of Disney project manager

World of Disney is now already a familiar, unique icon for Disneyland Paris. But what went into designing and building this new landmark boutique? Via the Disneyland Paris Generations website, an official video allows some of the creators to speak for themselves, as well as giving us a glimpse at the always fun time-lapse video Disney sets up for most of its major projects.

As it happened, after over 10 years of planning and waiting, this new store rose from the concrete roof of the TGV platforms in just over 18 months. Here it rises in about six seconds.

Video follows… Read More…

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…

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