Monday, 21st May 2012

World of Disney store to officially open 12th July 2012 — new concept art, press release

World of Disney, Disney Village, Disneyland Paris

World of Disney, the new flagship store at the hub of Disneyland Paris and entrance to Disney Village, has finally had its opening date set in stone: 12th July 2012! An unusual Thursday opening, then; perhaps a nod to the 12th April, or a chance for the newly-opened store to prepare itself ahead of summer weekend crowds? At least this puts an end to confusion over the date, which has been moving back and forth between June and September for the past few months. Work is suddenly flying ahead on the exterior, which will eventually end up looking like the visual above.

This new concept art, first included in the ‘Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams’ book, shows the final design of the Hollywood Art Deco-inspired exterior and its signature globe dome. You might remember from earlier concept art that the original idea was for a second half of the globe to continue inside the store itself, visible through the windows to create the effect of a floating Earth. Now, just the dome on top is part of the final design, with the double-height atrium inside to be decorated with stars; its centrepiece a hot air balloon carrying the Disney characters to destinations around the world, which will be featured in different areas of the store’s interior design.

The new design also clearly depicts how the boutique is raised slightly from the hub itself, with a small set of stairs around the front and sides to offer some protection from the surge of visitors at park closing. Naturally, a ramp is also provided on the right-hand side.

There, we also see the beginnings of an intriguing new perimeter gate. Rumours have suggested that the opening of World of Disney could see changes to the operation of the resort hub and its security barriers, perhaps allowing guests to go between the parks and Disney Village without leaving the security-controlled zone, though exact details of this are unconfirmed.

Along with the opening date announcement, Disneyland Paris has also shared photos of two important arrivals, all the way from New York City: Mickey and Minnie Mouse!

World of Disney, Disney Village, Disneyland ParisWorld of Disney, Disney Village, Disneyland Paris

These two statues, which now sit either side of the main World of Disney entrance in Paris, were salvaged from the marquee of the former World of Disney store on Fifth Avenue in New York, which closed on 31st December 2009.

World of Disney, New York Fifth Avenue [(C) cre8or]
Photo: cre8or (Flickr)

Disney moved to a new retail space in Times Square in late 2010, branded as a general Disney store, leaving only the two — and very soon to be three — theme park locations. Of which, Paris certainly has the most beautiful, unique exterior. But isn’t that always the case?

Press release follows… Read More…

Sunday, 22nd April 2012

Park-exclusive ‘Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams’ book on sale tomorrow, 23rd April

Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams book

Couldn’t quite make it for the 12th April 2012 celebrations? You weren’t the only one. Slightly delayed from the shelves of Disneyland Paris boutiques was the new 192-page book all about the history of the resort. We reported its impending arrival late last month amongst the flurry of 20th Anniversary news, and it looks to be an impressive tome indeed. Available as a single 192-page book with both French and English text, it features over 500 images from the history of the resort, charting 20 years of progress and expansion from 1992 to today. And, though the publisher couldn’t quite meet the historic date itself, the book does now have a release date: tomorrow, 23rd April 2012!

The official blurb reads:

“Twenty years ago, Disneyland® Paris opened and Walt Disney’s dreams came to life in the place where the stories that inspired him were born. Since then, Imagineers, artists and Cast Members have worked together every day to share those dreams with more than 250 million guests. Relive, year by year, highlights from two decades of dreams and innovations at Disneyland Paris, through rare and never-seen-before artwork, photographs and interviews. From Walt Disney Imagineering to the expansion of Val d’Europe, peek into the life of a company that serves the area and those around. 20 Years of Dreams is both a must-have souvenir of Disneyland Paris and a family album covering the first twenty years of Europe’s number one tourist destination.”

Titled “Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams” (or “20 Ans de Rêves”) and priced at €49.99, it will be on sale exclusively at the following boutiques: The Emporium, The Storybook Store, Harrington’s, Walt Disney Studios Store, The Disney Animation Gallery, La Boutique du Château, The Disney Gallery, Disney Store, Galerie Mickey. You can see a glimpse inside here.

If you’re not planning to visit or revisit the resort again soon you can also get your hands on one of the 5,000 copies from the first print run via the official mail order service. Call +33 164744486 or +33 164744848 or email dlp.mail.order@disney.com. Note that Annual Passport and other discounts are not available on books.

Thursday, 29th March 2012

New book ‘Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams’ coming in April with 500 photos

Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams book

New Disney theme park book alert. From California to Florida, Paris and beyond, the alert siren rings out. That most anticipated and coveted line of souvenirs from the parks is about to have a new tome to add to its shelves. And for once, this one’s all about Disneyland Paris. Totalling 192 pages and 500 photos, “Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams” (or “20 Ans de Rêves”) has been written and produced especially for the 20th Anniversary. It will guide readers from the planning and grand opening of the resort in 1992 through 20 years of development, changes and events at the resort.

Available as a single edition, the book will include both French and English texts, with forewards by Tom Staggs and Philippe Gas, and afterword by Tom Fitzgerald. Priced at €49.99, the book will be exclusively available only at the resort itself, in eight separate, as-yet unconfirmed boutiques. A first print run of 5,000 copies will go on sale in mid-late April. We’ve been informed that, although Disney are pushing hard to have it available by 12th April 2012, there could be a small delay.

The 192-page size is certainly substantial enough: the same as the wonderful Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real.

Though Disneyland Paris has produced numerous glossy souvenir photo books detailing current attractions, it has never published its own, complete history of the resort. Only the revered Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality, published by Nouveau Millénaire Editions, has provided a true insight into the design and creation of the original park. Considered as “the bible” for Disneyland Paris fans, it is now only available as an expensive, limited collectors’ edition.

If you already own From Sketch to Reality, this new book aims to be perfectly complementary to its contents, full of new content and in no way a reptition. Not only will it feature the full 20 years of Disneyland Paris history, including photos and concept art from Walt Disney Studios Park, but also a closer focus on the progression of the resort from opening day to today. While From Sketch tells you how the parks were designed, 20 Years of Dreams will very much be the “what happened next…”

As soon as the book hits the shelves, we’ll race you to The Storybook Store…

PHOTO Disney Magic Interactive, Disney Showcase Key

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)

Tuesday, 20th March 2012

Disney Village icon Annette’s Diner closed for refurbishment until 6th April

For almost 20 years, Annette’s Diner has been inviting all of Europe into that most quintessential of dining experiences from across the Atlantic: the American diner. Now, just shy of its own 20th birthday, Annette has hung up her rollerskates for a well-earned rest — and refurbishment. The iconic diner at the entrance to Disney Village closed on 13th March for a refurbishment that will last through until 6th April 2012. In the meantime, hungry burger hunters are pointed to La Grange at Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon or The Steakhouse, where a special €19.99 beef burger menu is available.

A temporary closure of this popular restaurant has been expected since last July, when Disney took back full control of Annette’s and a few other Disney Village restaurants whose operation had previously been outsourced to a company named Groupe Flo. Back in October, New York Style Sandwiches closed for a similar three-week refurbishment. While the move back to in-house operation is expected to lead to efficiencies and cost savings for Disney, it will be interesting to see if it also leads to genuine improvements in quality and service.

VIA @InsideDLParis (Twitter), DisneyGazette (Facebook)

Saturday, 11th February 2012

“Retro-Vintage” one of three promising buzzwords for 20th Anniversary merchandise

The ’90s are back, baby! What once was cast aside as garish colour and simplistic design could be set for a renaissance, if reports of Disneyland Paris’ merchandise ranges for the 20th Anniversary prove accurate. Alongside buzzwords “Celebration” and “Signature”, we’ll see a range titled “Retro-Vintage”, reports Cast Member @ulyssecuvelier on Twitter. Though some niche “Euro Disney” throwback pins were released for the 15th Anniversary, this could be the first time Disneyland Paris has truly explored its own past as a “vintage” idea to be resold anew.

However, with modern 2012 trends now looking back particularly favourably on this early 1990s era, what was garish or simplistic is now gradually being seen again as bold or refined instead. We’re all familiar with throwbacks to the 1950s design style of the original Disneyland, epitomised in websites such as Yesterland, with its colourful flags and block lettering. Even Walt Disney World mines its own past with much focus on Spaceship Earth and its original globe logo (examples below).

But what does “retro-vintage” mean to the relatively youthful resort in Paris? Well — take a look back at the first collage above! We’ve collected together just a few fine examples from our own Euro Souvenirland website, showing off the striking design style which saw Disneyland bombastically launch itself into Europe. A world away from the dazzling, multifaceted, but ultimately somewhat hollow, heavily photoshopped brand of 2012, the simple graphical designs of 1992 look ripe for revisiting.

Incredibly evocative of their time, any of these examples would work wonderfully re-applied to bags, T-shirts, keyrings and beyond. Just look at those paper bags and napkins — the illustrations on those are far more attractive than anything you’ll find even on the merchandise itself today!

It remains to be seen whether Disneyland Paris would want to reuse the Euro Disney logo specifically (unlikely), but it wouldn’t be hard to work the current logo back into this style… that’s if the merchandisers have the same idea of “retro-vintage” as us. We await 1st April 2012 to find out, if 12th April 1992 will come around again…

Also reported to be making up the range of birthday merchandise is a special Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary wine by Domaine Bertrand. A revisit of an idea from the 15th Anniversary, it will be available in a commemorative bottle as red, white or rosé.

• In the meantime, explore more “retro-vintage” memorabilia at Euro Souvenirland.com!

VIA @ulyssecuvelier (Twitter)

Wednesday, 8th February 2012

From Adrien to Zacharie, 20th Anniversary Cast Member name tags are coming

With a workforce of over 14,500 employed at the resort and even more certified Cast Members beyond, it’s no wonder this new design for Disneyland Paris’ 20th Anniversary name tags has quickly done the rounds online. Every single member of the “cast” will soon be switching their Magical Moments Festival name tag for this new 2012 design, neatly fitting the hemisphere of the 20th logo into its standard lapel design. It’s just one of endless pieces of miscellanea which will be taking on a special look for the upcoming birthday year, just as we saw for the 15th Anniversary.

For fans (including those on the Disney payroll!), these all create perfect “souvenirs” to chart the changing styles and aspirations of the resort across the years. On our sister site Euro Souvenirland, you can already find examples of the 5th Anniversary name tags from 1997 and the millennium name tags from 2000. There are numerous more variations to be found that we’d love to put into a “name tag timeline”, but we need your help! If you can provide photographs or scans of old name tags in your collection, send them over to contributions@eurosouvenirland.com!

PHOTO Jean-Louis Gold VIA Dlrp Express (Facebook)

Tuesday, 7th February 2012

Resort revenues up 4%, attendance up 5%, not a rat to be found in First Quarter 2012 results

Disneyland Paris saw overall revenue growth of just 1% in the first quarter of its 2012 financial year, from 1st October to 31st December 2011. The results, published this morning by operating group Euro Disney S.C.A., make for unremarkable if somewhat reassuring reading given the economic climate. Resort revenues, for Theme Parks, Disney Village and Hotels, actually rose a good 4% in the quarter, brought down for the total figure only by lower real estate revenue compared to 2011. Park attendance itself grew a surprising 5%, due to higher numbers visiting from France itself, perhaps taking advantage of the mild late Autumn for last minute trips, with total Theme Park revenues up 7%.

Philippe Gas, CEO, comments that “improved attendance and guest spending are encouraging, especially in light of the challenging economic environment.”

However, average spending per guest in the parks was up by only 1% and average spending per room at Disney Hotels up only 2%. Total Disney Village and Hotel revenues grew by just 1% and room occupancy at Disney Hotels actually fell by 1.1 percentage points. It seems that, despite continued success in getting guests through the park gates, the resort still struggles at turning these numbers into anything more than negligible increases in revenue, probably driven more by price increases than additional purchases. It has to be said that, for a visitor, the resort’s casual dining fare remains largely out of date and uninspiring, while the merchandise range simply fails to engage for many demographics. At a time when a guest will consider and reconsider every additional purchase on top of their ticket, the resort certainly isn’t doing badly, but it is failing to make many consequential gains.

Nor is the dip in hotel room occupancy disastrous, especially after a sharp (and perhaps, unsustainable) jump of 5.6 percentage points in FY2011. Yet perhaps it reflects a growing feeling amongst visitors that the Disney Hotels do not offer the best value for their money. High standard room rates have combined with aggressive discounting over several years to suggest that “the price on the label” may not necessarily be the price they’re worth. A quick visit to any online trip planning forum will immediately bring up potential visitors merely biding their time for the next “big offer” or “flash sale” — hey, like this one! — which, while useful for propping up numbers, must surely be harming the brand value associated with Disneyland Paris. Will anyone ever want to pay full price again?

Signing off, Philippe Gas mentions only the 20th Anniversary: “In April we look forward to launching our twentieth anniversary celebrations with brand new experiences for our guests, including the Disney Dreams®! night-time show, an innovative light and color spectacular. It will also be
an opportunity to celebrate a two-decade journey with our cast members, our guests as well as our key public and private partners who have helped Disneyland Paris become Europe’s number one tourist destination.” Meanwhile the footnotes include only the same passing mention to the launch of a “multi-year expansion of the Walt Disney Studios® Park, which includes a new attraction.” So, despite construction having begun, no Ratatouille dark ride announcement yet; and all eyes on the 20th…

VIA Euro Disney S.C.A. Fiscal year 2012 – First Quarter Announcement (PDF)

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)

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