Tuesday, 13th January 2009

Did Walt Disney Studios win the New Year fireworks?

It was a night of firsts, that’s for sure. For the first time ever, Walt Disney Studios Park stayed open for regular guests beyond 9pm. For the first time ever, it let guests see in the New Year within its gates. And, for the first time ever, it hosted fireworks for those same, regular guests.

But, in the process, did it surprise us all and come out on top, with the most dazzling, sky-filling show of the two? Let’s compare…

New Year’s Eve 2008/09 – Walt Disney Studios Park

Video by Kayshaman.

New Year’s Eve 2008/09 – Disneyland Park (Part 1)
New Year’s Eve 2008/09 – Disneyland Park (Part 2)

Videos by Daviddu59.

For a start, there’s one obvious downside to the Studios’ celebrations — the lack of an icon or “weenie” at the foot of the fireworks. When the New Year’s Eve celebrations were confirmed, many expected The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror to be the focal point, or Hollywood Boulevard.

However, as the clock edged toward midnight, guests were instead asked to make their way to Backlot and Place des Stars, along the “Rue Georges Méliès” of the park, with the fireworks themselves launched from the convenient base of Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular.

This downside could also have been the park’s advantage, though — not only does the lack of a large icon make the fireworks seem bigger and more impressive in the sky, but the location may have allowed the resort a little more freedom with the bigger shells and rockets, should restrictions still be imposed on New Year’s Eve.

What’s your verdict?

Tuesday, 13th January 2009

France Télécom hangs up on “small world”

Compared to the complexities of attraction sponsorship at other Disney resorts, Disneyland Resort Paris has always been far more reserved. And indeed, though its grand opening saw everything from Le Visionarium to Star Tours coupled with an official corporate partner, this decade in particular has seen many of them change — or disappear altogether.

So, it might come as no surprise to hear to hear that Disneyland Park just lost another attraction sponsor. But then again, this was perhaps the last remaining original sponsor from opening day (if we don’t count the shift of Kodak from Captain EO to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience) — France Télécom at “it’s a small world”.

France Telecom at it's a small world

When the attraction returned from its refurbishment in late November (17th to 28th), all signs of the national French telecommunications company had vanished. The most obvious, of course, being the large flag with the company’s logo in the attraction’s entrance fountain.

This was quickly switched-out for a new purple flag reading “Join the happiest cruise that ever sailed around the world”.

France Telecom at it's a small world
Source: Scrooge, Disney Magic Interactive forum.

As you walk up the hill toward the queue line, the secondary attraction logo has had its “France Télécom” footer removed and replaced with a few musical notes, which appear to be those from the attraction’s famous Sherman Brothers theme song.

France Telecom at it's a small world
Source: Scrooge, Disney Magic Interactive forum.

Though it’s the ‘World Chorus’ post-show with which France Télécom has always been synonymous, the branding of the company was never strongly present, at least in recent years, and so this land of animated video clips will continue to live on.

France Telecom at it's a small world

Now, whilst the France Télécom name may have apparently disappeared for good from the resort, that’s not to say the corporation itself has hung up completely. Besides continuing as a telecoms provider for the resort behind-the-scenes, they’ve got arguably an even more important brand somewhere else — Orange, at Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic.

One of the most easily-missed sponsors it may be (particularly since the Hollywood transformation of the attraction’s entrance), but for France Télécom this is a brand that doesn’t only have significance in France — you’ll find Orange in Belgium, Spain, Switzlerand, Austria and the UK to name a few.

But, for “it’s a small world”, France Télécom have made their call.

• Find more photos of “it’s a small world” at Photos Magiques.

Thursday, 8th January 2009

Baz Lurhmann goes from Australia to Disneyland

With no Disneyland down under, the famous Australian film director and his family chose the Paris resort for a day of Disney magic, joining Mickey Mouse for a special photo shoot beside Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, with a thick layer of snow all around.

Baz Luhrmann Baz Luhrmann

His latest picture stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in an epic romance set against the plight of North Australia in World World II. Despite mixed reviews, it has already opened at number one in the box office charts in France, Germany and Spain and number 3 in the UK, and setting a new opening weekend record in Australia.

Baz Luhrmann Baz Luhrmann

Now, can anyone tell us the earlier connection between Luhrmann and Disneyland Resort Paris?

Sunday, 28th December 2008

2008 Annual Report: In profit, Over 15 million guests

In 2002, Euro Disney S.C.A. learnt the hard way not to spread itself too thinly too soon. After the costly opening of Walt Disney Studios Park, it was hit by a general downturn in tourism which led to its 2001 profit of €30.5m plunging to a loss of €33.1m the next year. In 2008, after two very positive years and great leaps in attendance and occupancy, the resort has proudly posted its first net profit since the opening of that second gate.

The key points of the 2008 Annual Report were as follows:

Net profit of €2m, third consecutive year of growth
• EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) increased 21% to €249m
• Park attendance up 0.8m to 15.3m
• Hotel room occupancy up 1.6ppt to 90.9%

The net profit of €1.7m cements a growth trend which saw losses shrink from €88.6m in 2006 to €41.6m in 2007, showing steady growth for three years running. Some reports suggest that the operating group would have achieved a far greater profit still, but wisely chose to move €30m directly into paying off its long-standing debt of over €2bn rather than take this as (subsequently tax-deducted) profit.

In the Theme Parks segment, revenues were up 8.7% to €715.8m, primarily reflecting the increased attendance and a 3% increase in average spending per guest, to €46.3. The increase in Theme Parks attendance was driven by higher guest visitation from the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom.

Park attendance of 15.3 million guests is by far the highest in the resort’s history, the previous record being 14.5 million last year, for the first time marking an entry in the kind of attendance levels hoped for during the original construction of the resort and again during the construction of Walt Disney Studios Park. This comes in the same year that the resort celebrated welcoming its 200,000,000th (two hundred millionth) park guest.

Hotels & Disney Village saw its segment revenues rise 6.7% to €515.6m, reflecting the increase in room occupancy and a 7% increase in average guest spending per room to €211.4m. The increase in occupancy represented an extra 37,000 room nights compared to Fiscal Year 2007, driven mostly by more visitors from the United Kingdom and Spain.

Commenting on the results, new CEO Philippe Gas said:

“We reached an important milestone in 2008 by achieving profitability. Our revenues, theme parks attendance and hotel occupancy contributed to our performance which is noteworthy given the economic environment.

The popularity of Disneyland Resort Paris, Europe’s number one tourist destination, continued to grow as guests discovered our new attractions including the iconic Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Cars Race Rally, Crush’s Coaster, the interactive experience Stitch Live! and the High School Musical shows inspired by the popular Disney franchise.

We are convinced that our development strategy, together with the commitment of our cast members and the strength of the Disney brand, position us well for long-term growth.”

The report also contained an update of upcoming events:

“In line with our ongoing development strategy, in the Walt Disney Studios Park, Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!, will provide the opportunity for our younger guests to join friends from the Disney Channel in an immersive entertainment experience, for the launch of the summer season. The park will also debut Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars, a new Hollywood-style show starring characters from Toy Story, Snow White, Monsters Inc., Mulan, The Little Mermaid, and more.”

— You can download the full Annual Report here (PDF).

Friday, 19th December 2008

More preparations for busiest weekend of year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and, for several years now, the busiest for Disneyland Resort Paris. As the success of the resort’s Christmas season has gone from strength to strength, it has truly replaced the Summer season as the key high season for the two Disney Parks.

However, all this festive cheer has a downside. Because, though Christmas Season runs for effectively the same length as Christmas, the core holiday period when families can visit is mostly condensed into just two weeks either side of Christmas Day itself. This weekend, between the 20th and 22nd December, is therefore the most hectic of all, not least in a record-breaking term where the resort is attracting over 15 million guests per year.

So, what are the preparations? On Tuesday, we spread word that the resort was taking the unprecedented step of advising visitors without hotel packages or dated tickets against visiting. However, as was pointed out, the warning was only posted on the ticket pages of the French official website — and furthermore, vanished a few hours after our article was published.

The warning was true enough, and the placement only on the French website was actually entirely intentional — trying to dissuade French visitors with cheap offer tickets from visiting at the busiest time of the year. Everyone is, of course, welcome to visit the resort this weekend, but you may well have to contend with some horribly busy parks.


Annual Passport holders were also given the warning, via an email sent out to the entire mailing list, suggesting visits would be better saved for another day.

Now, the Events Calendar pages of the official website have a different, additional warning in place:

Conseil Malin pour venir à Disneyland Resort Paris

Si vous désirez vous rendre à Disneyland Resort Paris avec votre véhicule, nous vous conseillons de planifier votre arrivée avant 9h30 ou après 11h30 afin d’éviter les ralentissements.

Nous vous conseillons également d’utiliser les transports en commun en empruntant le RER A, terminus « Marne la Vallée Chessy » ou les lignes de bus.

This is again an announcement we’ve never known from Disneyland Resort Paris — if you’re going to be arriving by car at the resort, you’re recommended to try to plan your arrival either before 9:30am or after 11:30am, to avoid tailbacks on the A4 autoroute and access roads. Or, an even better option — use the public transport options such as the RER A line or local bus services.

This warning comes after the huge traffic levels seen around the resort on recent weekends.


Finally, once all these guests are at Disneyland Resort Paris, they’re now being given a special Christmas treat to help cope with the huge visitor levels: extended opening hours at Walt Disney Studios Park!

Originally scheduled to open only from 10:00am to 7:00pm, the longest regular hours the park usually sees, an exception has been made to keep the gates of the Studios open right up until 9:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, likely to prevent Disneyland Park seeing an evening overflow of too many extra guests.

— You can find the updated opening hours on the relaunched DLRP Magic! Calendar.

[Lead image: www.photosmagiques.com]

Tuesday, 16th December 2008

Warning: Sunday 21st December will be FULL

It’s not the kind of message you expect to read on the Disneyland website, but for this Sunday, 21st December 2008, the official line really is: don’t visit today.

The urgent notice has only been posted on the ticket pages of the French official website. It reads:

• Attention: Le 21 Décembre nos parcs vont subir une très forte affluence.
• Nos billets ne sont plus disponibles à cette date.
• Il est fortement recommandé aux personnes non munies d’un billet ou munies d’un billet non daté de décaler leur visite sur notre site à une autre date.

Roughly translated, this warning announces that, on 21st December, the Disney Parks will have very high attendance levels. Tickets can no longer be purchased for this date, and it is strongly recommended that people without a ticket or without a dated entrance ticket for this day reschedule their visit for another day.

If you’re staying at a Disney Hotel or you’ve booked a package including tickets at one of the partner hotels, your tickets will be dated and you will be guaranteed access — but do prepare for a very, very busy Disneyland Park, with waiting times in excess of 2 hours at most major attractions.

Image: Yao, Disney Central Plaza forum

This announcement comes just a week after Disneyland Park officially reached its capicity and the gates had to be closed. On Saturday, 6th December 2008, guests arriving late would have been faced with the sudden appearance of a “PARC DISNEYLAND – COMPLET/FULL” sign on the resort hub, with only the choice to visit Walt Disney Studios Park for the day instead.

Visitors on this day described long queues on the resort’s access roads and A4 motorway, with guests being allowed to park for free in a bid to ease the congestion. Disneyland Park’s official capacity is believed to be around 85,000 guests.

Image: Nicholas-c, magicforum

Though parks reaching capacity can be quite common at other Disney resorts, particularly Disneyland Resort in California, where the original Disneyland park regularly has to close its gates on exceptionally busy dates, this is a very new thing for Disneyland Resort Paris. Clearly, with now more than 16 million visitors wanting to experience the parks each year, their popularity is becoming too much to handle.

Whilst these kind of attendance levels are obviously incredibly bad for visitors on the day, they do highlight the need for further expansion and make it ever more likely. Notably at Walt Disney Studios Park, which still does not apparently present enough of a draw to sufficiently take pressure off its older cousin.

Monday, 17th November 2008

Sleeping Beauty fireworks launch Christmas 2008!

The launch of seasonal events at Disneyland Resort Paris usually just means a raft of (to our mostly non-French audience) unknown celebrities and a bank of photographers obscuring the publics’ view at the special shows and parades throughout the day.

True, this year’s Christmas launch yesterday inflicted both of those upon regular park guests, but they were also given a very unexpected Winter treat when it came time for the evening’s Enchanted Candleabration finale.


If you were confused by the special park Programme for 15th November and the switching-round of Fantillusion so that the illuminations ceremony came last, here is our reason why — as the bells chimed and the Castle sparkled in its now-completed array of crystal lights, majestic music in the vein of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty began and fireworks flew up into the air!

Image Image

The special launch show on Central Plaza Stage featured performances by live singers, a group of children helping out with preceedings and an encore from Princess Aurora and Prince Philip as their fireworks exploded overhead.

Image Image

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant itself was lit in a classic scheme of pink towers and blue spires, rather than the usual all-purple colours used during Christmas Season.


Below, Daviddu59 was lucky enough to catch the special one-off fireworks — albeit from behind the impenetrable wall of photographers — and shares the video with us:

Even in the short length of these fireworks, the Castle is almost completely engulfed in smoke due to the cold temperatures — perhaps that’s our reason for the general lack of Winter fireworks on other busy weekends and holidays.


And, though it’s expected the resort will put on its best show to give the press the best possible impression of the seasonal entertainments, is it honest? Do they know that Enchanted Candleabration doesn’t usually have this firework-finale, or doesn’t it matter, in the name of good publicity for our beloved resort?

— Read our exclusive interview with the creator of this year’s Christmas Season here.

[Pictures © Disney, Video by Daviddu59]

Tuesday, 23rd September 2008

Jack Skellington and Sally arrive in Paris!

In preparation for their daily meet ‘n’ greets amongst the fitting tombstones of Boot Hill throughout the Halloween season, Disneyland Resort Paris have released some special publicity photos showing the ghoulish couple awaiting their first European fans.


The costumes appear almost identical to those premiered at Hong Kong Disneyland last year. Jack Skellington stands tall and thin in a strong pin-striped tailcoat and trousers, the spiked edges of his jacket flared upwards in a similar style to his black-spider bow-tie.


Though the character wears a mask, his jaw is exposed and given some wonderful make-up to allow the character to actually speak to his fans. This does give his head a somewhat less-rounded appearance than the well-known Tim Burton stop-motion original, but the overall look of the character is near flawless.


As for Sally, she appears even more startling than her skeletal partner. Her skin appears blue from top to toe, either from coloured tights, gloves or make-up, and everything from the stitched-together dress to the sheer red hair and contrasting red lipstick put her up amongst some of the most realistic and impressive creations from the character entertainment department.

The pair will make their Parisian debut on 4th October, meeting fans at this exact spot next to Phantom Manor, and will also make a daily appearance in the new Halloween Pre-Parade, riding atop a horse-drawn cart.

— Photos © Disney.

Tuesday, 23rd September 2008

Halloween’s 2008 orange invasion begins

That’d be because, as we reported along with the ‘Disney’s Spooktacular Halloween’ 2008 press release, the Pink Witches characters which invaded the past three festivals have been entirely removed from all marketing, decorations and live appearances. They’ll be replaced by a greater presence from the park’s now-recognisable Pumpkin Men, showing off several new incarnations and costumes.

Since 2005, the Pink Witches were introduced as Halloween “rivals” to the orange paint-spreading Pumpkin Men, with guests asked to “choose your side” in a battle for Halloween victory. Though the live characters themselves received a good reception, the uninspiring decorations around Cowboy Cookout Barbeque in Frontierland did not. Adding to the festival’s perceived problems was the additional introduction of Stitch, now removed entirely since he was given his own attraction at Walt Disney Studios Park.

In 2008, then, what can we expect? Remnants of the old Pink Witches decorations certainly live on. The first picture from these very first photos of the 2008 decorations, by our partners Photos Magiques, sums up the changes perfectly — an old Queen of the Pink Witches statue given a Pumpkin head and paint pots over its broomsticks.

Image Image

Colours throughout the decorations have been quite noticeably muted to more rustic and conventional orange, earthy tones. Frontierland now appears to host the majority of the old Pumpkin Men characters which previously populated the streets, rooftops and balconies of Main Street U.S.A., making the transformation of the land feel immediately more impressive, whatever your feelings on these now-six-year old mannequins.

Image Image

The so-called ‘Téléfreak’ device, which once linked the mainland with Big Thunder Mountain via a complicated overhead cableway (to transfer orange paint, so said the legends), is now all but gone after two years as a cable-less tower. Frontierland fans will be pleased to now see no orange steel tower, just the slightly more fitting oversized paint pot.

Image Image

Heading toward the ‘Pink Witches Academy’ area from recent years, where unpopular moulded plastic figures showed witches of various nationalities cooking up their local specialties, we’re pleased to find that these decorations have yet to materialise. The old entrance archway to the area has reappeared, but with a new orange and brown colour scheme and green vines running across its length, far more agreeable in its setting.


The ‘Trick or Treat Stage’ has now entirely lost its garish blue and pink colours in favour of, again, a more muted brown overlay to its coffins, boxes and supports. This will allow the two main shows — Goofy and the Magic Cauldron and Minnie and the Bat Boys stand out much more themselves, rather than the stage.

Image Image

Finally, over in Cottonwood Creek Ranch, we find the only area not to have seen much change when compared to recent seasons past. Traditionally the area where Pumpkin Men grow on the vines of a giant pumpkin plant, the plant, scarecrows and plethora of real pumpkins have returned to provide a familiar corner of Halloween magic.

Image Image

In terms of really, truly “new” decorations, however, we’re currently still waiting…

Disney’s Halloween Festival officially begins on 4th October 2008 and runs until 6th November. The full DLRP Magic! guide to the season will be launched very soon, but before then you can check out the 2007 guide here.

— See the full Photos Magiques gallery for Halloween 2008 here.

Friday, 15th August 2008

Santa Claus, Mickey Mouse prepare for a Fairytale Christmas

This year, we’ll be enjoying Disney’s Fairytale Christmas from 8th November 2008 to 6th January 2009. A time for snow falling on Main Street, Santa Claus in his Frontierland workshop, Princesses dancing beside the castle, transformed into an ice palace, and much, much more…

But do take note of that name — it’s not Disney’s Christmas Season any more, at least not in any of the promotions. Disneyland Resort Paris are focusing all of their efforts on Disneyland Park to give it the biggest seasonal makeover we’ve ever seen. And of course, for one more year, it’ll have an extra 15th Anniversary flavour…


Here’s the press release in full:

Disney’s Fairytale Christmas 2008/09

Meet Santa this Christmas at Disneyland Resort Paris

– BRAND NEW for 2008, Santa Claus Village and Mickey’s Magical Christmas Dinner –

London, 24th July 2008 — Where better to kick off the Christmas season than at magical Disneyland Resort Paris! The spirit of Christmas comes alive this year from 8th November, 2008 to 6th January, 2009. Celebrate the most joyous time of year with your family in the company of the Disney Characters in their Christmas costumes.

Santa Claus’ Village comes to Disneyland Resort Paris for the very first time in 2008. Children are invited to enter Santa’s winter wonderland to meet the man himself and pose for a memorable photo. What’s more, in the heart of the village children can find the Santa Claus Post Office where they can post their Christmas wish-lists in time for a Christmas Eve delivery. And with the help of a little Disney magic, the children will receive Santa’s response sent directly to their homes!

Also new for 2008, Disneyland Resort Paris will host Mickey’s Magical Christmas Dinner*, a unique new dining experience where guests can join the Disney Characters for a huge Christmas buffet feast, complete with sparkling lights and sing-along music that will make hearts warm and spirits soar! (Ticket only event).

And for a guaranteed white Christmas, snowflakes will fall from the sky on Main Street U.S.A giving everyone the special Christmas memory they have always dreamed of!


Christmas season festivities include:

‘¢ Enchanted Candleabration — Mickey and his friends invite guests to Central Plaza for an unforgettable evening ceremony held in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, which transforms into a glistening ice palace
‘¢ Disney’s Fantillusion — Princes, Princesses and other Disney characters emerge on Main Street, U.S.A. at nightfall to host a magnificent parade where Disney’s best-loved fairytales are retold
‘¢ Santa Claus, VIP guest of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade — Santa Claus appears at the end of this magical procession to wish everyone a Merry Christmas
‘¢ Minnie’s Jolly Holidays Show — Minnie Mouse, along with her Chorus Boys and Girls, invites guests to join her in the celebration of Christmas as she hosts a fantastic show with many jolly surprises
‘¢ Meet Goofy Santa — Lovable Goofy dressed as Santa Claus in his sleigh will welcome children for a souvenir photo
‘¢ Belle’s Christmas Village — With picturesque taverns and snow-covered stalls, Fantasyland transforms into an authentic medieval village at Christmastime
‘¢ Mickey’s Winter Wonderland — Mickey and his pals put on their ice skates for a winter spectacular the whole family will love
‘¢ Christmas at Disney Village — Disney Village will be the home of a traditional Christmas Market this year

The Celebration continues… big time with a ‘Kids Under 7 Stay and Play’ free offer until 7th March 2009. The package is valid for up to three children per one paying adult per room booked, and includes a stay in a Disney Hotel and entrance to both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park.

* Mickey’s Magical Christmas Dinner will take place on 6th, 13th and 20th December from 7-9pm. Tickets will be available in advance at £39 for adults and £14 for children (3 to 11 incl.)

And that’s the jolly, jolly, jolly holidays that lie ahead!

So, what’s new? According to the press release, ‘Santa Claus’ Village’! But wait… didn’t we all see Father Christmas Village last year, that makeover of the then-brand-new Woody’s Roundup Village at the former Critter Corral, Frontierland?

The addition of a new Santa Claus Post Office could at least hint that the makeover will see substantial improvements or changes for its second year. This brand new feature will make use of the second new building in the village, which sat empty last Christmas, allowing children for the first time ever at Disneyland Resort Paris to post a letter to Santa Claus and then receive a real reply to their home in time for Christmas Eve.


The popular late addition to the 2007/08 season — Minnie’s Jolly Holidays, a musical revue which brought life to Central Plaza Stage throughout the daytime — successfully returns for a second season, now promoted in advance for the first time — though it is currently unknown if it will run for the entire season, rather than just the final, busiest few weeks.

The biggest addition to the season, and another sign that it takes in even more of the British/American Christmas traditions is Mickey’s Magical Christmas Dinner. To be hosted at the Pavillion conventions tent behind Discoveryland, usually used by the resort’s profitable Business Solutions department, this will not be a dinner show like that previously held at Disney’s Newport Bay Club but a kind of large-scale character meal.

Plans include several brand new, unique photo locations for a variety of popular Disney characters, to be set out around the edge of the giant ballroom, with appearances throughout the meal. Imagine it a little like spending your Christmas Dinner with Mickey Mouse and many other Disney characters, with chances to pose for photos and dance to music between the courses.

Be sure to stay with DLRP Today.com for much more news about Disney’s Fairytale Christmas in the lead-up to the season. (Until then, enjoy the Summer while it lasts!)

— Discover last year’s season in great detail and countless photos at our dedicated guide.

[Pictures/Logos © Disney]

Subscribe to the Magic!

Ad: Disneyland Paris 30th Anniversary Offers and Deals

Tags & Archives

Twitter Updates

Ad: Disneyland Paris 30th Anniversary Offers and Deals