Friday, 20th July 2007

Bastille Day goes with a bang, without blunder

Any guests visiting the park for the first time since the 2006 celebrations might have had to check they were in the right place. No more Wonderful World Of Disney Parade, refurbished buildings all over, decorations across Main Street and the Castle, two new attractions over at Walt Disney Studios Park – this was the park’s major chance to show off its 15th birthday to a more local audience.

After being entertained by Alpha Bet You Are, Disney Characters’ Express, Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, Disney’s Fantillusion and a nighttime performance of Candleabration, it was time for the fireworks to begin… No doubt, there were plenty of people biting their nails backstage at this point. In actual fact, it’s an outside company which arranges the large-scale fireworks seen at events such as Bastille Day, rather than the regular DLRP Pyrotechnics crew.

It’s 23.15, the show begins, and the good luck of 2007 is still most certainly on the side of Disneyland Resort Paris. The fireworks went off with their trademark “bang”, familiar patriotic French music and a special 15th Anniversary sparkle from the thousands of LEDs across the castle’s turrets and candles…

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Some members on magicforum remarked that the day actually seemed a little less busy than in recent years, so here’s hoping the fully-functioning fireworks and the impressive events of the 15th will this year incite guests to return again, rather than enjoy the free events in Paris city centre instead.

Video | Bastille Day Fireworks 2007

Throughout the Summer, guests can continue to enjoy an unparalleled hour of nighttime entertainment, starting with Disney’s Fantillusion (now apparently operating a shorter performance cycle and in the opposite direction, leading to guests only being able to see two stops at most) and ending with Candleabration followed immediately by an unchanged Wishes Nighttime Spectacular.

Pictures © Disney and by Photos Magiques. You can see their full gallery here.
Video by Photos Magiques.

Tuesday, 17th July 2007

Keelboats: River Rogues live up to their name

Exactly one month ago, 17th June 2007, we reported a very different story indeed – the first sighting of the two keelboats circling Big Thunder Mountain! Their long-awaited return! Life returns to the rivers, Frontierland is the “fabulous” Far West once again!

Today, 17th July 2007, as the Summer season rumbles on, hope is fading for the grand return we’ve been awaiting. Cast Members at the newly-refurbished entrance, completed recently with a wait time indicator, tell guests that the River Rogue Keelboats will not be re-opening this week.

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So, what’s the problem? As always, Disney Central Plaza forum is the place for a bit of “inside info”…

Member Jollyroger gives the reason as an unscheduled set of maintenance for at least one of the boats, damaged in some form during the extensive weeks of Cast Member training. Kinoo backs this up, whilst member Piel again adds that problems have been caused as boats brush past the Western scenery, and even suggests that a couple of the keelboat pilots have left the team, causing further delays. An attraction with such low capacity and through-put will need to be firing on all cylinders at all times, with both boats constantly operational and a large Cast available.

The perseverance and effort of the people overseeing this re-opening should be admired, even if they’re becoming unlucky again. They’re certainly using a lot of time and a lot of money to get a relatively minor attraction back up and running. If this was happening in the Jay Rasulo days, they’d have probably been left to rot without question. (Oh wait, they were!)

The date for re-opening now stands at next weekend, the 21st July 2007, but even this has been mentioned with hesitation. Don’t be surprised to see this saga turn into a trilogy then, maybe with the 28th July 2007 as its ending? Or the 4th August 2007? Or, at this rate, 2008…

Photos by Photos Magiques, taken during training several weeks ago.

Sunday, 1st July 2007

Disney Wish Lounge opens for easier dreams

The ‘Disney Wish Lounge’ concept was first introduced at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom earlier this year, inaugurated on 26th January 2007 during the resort’s annual “What’s New, What’s Next” press conference event and located between the park’s Baby Care Centre and Casey’s Corner.

At Disneyland Resort Paris, the concept remains much the same, with the Disney Wish Lounge of Marne-la-Vallée positioned between Discovery Arcade and Plaza Gardens Restaurant, next to the park’s Baby Care Centre and First Aid services. Whilst the journey back to your hotel in Paris is nowhere near the epic journey that can be found at Walt Disney World, the lounge will be a convenient, warmly welcomed place to rest and relax for thousands of children on the Disney Wish Program, a symbol of the resort’s dedication to their most special of dreamers.

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Arnaud Gayet / Karl L. Holz / Wendy Courquet cuts the ribbon

Like its Orlando counterpart, the lounge’s interior decoration is based on Disney’s Aladdin, including a real magic lamp! Comfortable seating, a large television, refreshments and Guest Services Cast Members are all on hand for visiting guests throughout the day.

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15th Anniversary band plays as ribbons fly / Official inauguration photo

Euro Disney Associés SCA has published several press releases about the lounge and their charity commitments:

Disneyland Resort Paris confirms its commitment to the ‘Disney Wish Program’ with the inauguration of the new ‘Disney Wish Lounge’

Marne-la-Vallée, June 16, 2007 … Accompanied by many guests, Karl L. Holz, Chairman and C.E.O. of Euro Disney S.A.S. inaugurated today the ‘Disney Wish Lounge’. Located in the heart of Disneyland Resort Paris, the ‘Disney Wish Lounge’ is open to children participating in the ‘Disney Wish Program’ and their families, so that they can rest and relax without having to go back to their hotel.

Disney Supports 15 Charitable Organisations in Europe with Surprise Donation of €600,000

Marne-la-Vallée, June 23, 2007 … The Walt Disney Company surprised 15 European charities yesterday with donations totalling €600,000. The gift was presented to charitable organisations that have participated in the Disney Wish Programme from its outset, and make dreams come true for children with life-threatening diseases.

As part of Disneyland Resort Paris’ 15th anniversary celebration, representatives of the 15 organisations will meet with 15 young adults who were granted wishes when they were children.

The 15 associations honoured are:
France: Petits Princes, Rêves, Make-A-Wish France, L’Envol
UK: Make-A-Wish UK, Round Table Children’s Wish Foundation, Christian Lewis Trust
Ireland: Make-A-Wish Ireland
Belgium: Make-A-Wish Belgium Flanders, Make-A-Wish Belgium South
Spain: Ilusiones
Italy: Make-A-Wish Italy
Germany: Herzenswunsche, Kindertraüme
Netherlands: Make-A-Wish Holland

The Disney Wish Programme

Created in 1992, the Wish Programme continues Walt Disney’s tradition of supporting children’s programmes. Every year, Disneyland Resort Paris’ Community Relations department collaborates with 60 charitable organisations to grant wishes to children with life-threatening conditions between the ages of 3 and 18. Since its launch, the programme has made more than 7,000 dreams come true at Disneyland Resort Paris.

Unparalleled storytelling, colourful Disney Characters, unforgettable parades and shows … the world of Disney is built around dreams, which make it their favourite place for many children. One third of children participating in wish programmes have the same dream: to visit Disneyland.

When wishes are granted, children and their families are given star treatment at the park: an all-inclusive stay at a Disney Hotel, free park tickets, VIP access to all attractions, gifts, priviledged meetings with Disney Characters. Children and their families leave with a treasure trove of shared memories of joy and hope.

Inauguration photos by Photos Magiques, with one © Disney.

Saturday, 30th June 2007

Fresh paint bonanza for Frontierland

We watched as Big Thunder Mountain regained its ochre glow, lost its ugly green moss and had colour brought back to its buildings in a 2-month refurbishment last Autumn. We saw Fuente del Oro dazzle once again in its South-of-the-border colours, new paint details and harvest props. Frontierland Depot was restored to life inside and out, the Boot Hill paths were completely rebuilt and, of course, Molly Brown returned to the Rivers of the Far West looking more “unsinkable” than ever before…

Has Diamond Lil’ found another lucky nugget? It looks like the town of Thunder Mesa and its lazy farm ranch have struck another Gold Rush with all these refurbishments. Even at the relaxed meadows of Cottonwood Creek Ranch, they’ve been busy treating the wood of Cowboy Cookout Barbeque and returning its bright red overcoat. How many people even knew Cowboy Cookout was meant to be this colour?

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The ranch windmill also recently returned to the paddocks in front of The Chaparral Theater, with the barns and ranch buildings across from it looking brighter than ever. Compare the first photo below (taken April 2007) to the second (taken 26th June 2007 by Joel).

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With all the wood treatments and repainting, they’ve still been sure to keep all the old details, such as the Cottonwood Creek horseshoe symbols, and even add a few we’ve not seen for years – such as the bale of hay hung out the top of the barn. The ‘Cowboy Cookout Barbeque’ sign itself is away being fully refurbished, replaced with a smaller, temporary sign for now.

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It’s no secret that the buildings along Thunder Mesa Road had seen better days recently. From Tobias Norton & Sons and Bonanza Outfitters across to The Lucky Nugget Saloon and Silver Spur Steakhouse, the entire town was beginning to resemble more the ghosttown of Phantom Manor’s final scene rather than the prosperous settlement which had gold to its name.

As the buildings now finally receive their well-deserved repaint and care, the removal of signage and other details in preparation reveals a little just how downhill this ghost-town went in the early 2000s…

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Thank the Lucky Nugget, that’s all about to change, partner! The rotting Thunder Mesa Mercantile Building beside Fort Comstock is getting a heavy dose of care as we speak…

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As for the heart of the town itself, The Lucky Nugget Saloon is glistening brighter than it has done for years. When the first coat of paint appeared almost two months ago, it was quite a shock – should it be that bright?


Yee-ha, yes it should! The difference between old and new is startling. The final cracks and rotting corners from the Jay Rasulo age are finally being painted over, the unique paint details which had become barely noticeable (such as The Lucky Nugget’s talent scouting advertisements), returned to their former, very colourful selves…

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With Molly Brown back on the rivers, Cottonwood Creek Ranch in full colour, Thunder Mesa shining brighter than a golden nugget and – as if we could forget – the River Rogue Keelboats due to be plying the rivers in less than one week… Frontierland is gonna’ have the rootinest, tootinest Summer ever!

The Gold Rush has come again!

Photos by Joel’s Photo Hunt and Photos Magiques.

Friday, 29th June 2007

Coca-Cola unlocks ‘Le Comptoir du Capitaine’

The newly themed and named location, situated at a heavily congested spot of the park between Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan’s Flight, features an endless array of pirate props, Disney details and subtle Coca-Cola references. Everything from barrels of the famous soft drink to pirates’ tankards hung on the walls and a giant sail in the colours of red and white.


Coca-Cola have already become a very noticable brand in Disneyland Park recently thanks to its investments elsewhere – the Cool Post in the African section of Adventureland several years ago, the neon-lit Cool Station in Discoveryland, the impeccably-themed L’Arbre Enchanté in Fantasyland and even the highly authentic Coca-Cola delivery truck for Main Street USA.

What sets this location apart? It was already there, and already doing fantastic business. Passing through this crowded pathway from the Fantasyland/Adventureland border to Pirates of the Caribbean, the queue for the hot dog and refreshments kiosk frequently tailed off toward the attraction itself.

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So, whilst the Cool Station, L’Arbre Enchanté and Main Street Delivery Truck all tap into a brand new (and now already very successful) market, this one has already been raking in the gold for Coca Cola’s drinks for many years as a simple, unthemed food kiosk. Which, after only a quick glance at the amazing detail here, makes the transformation even more impressive.

The location now also has its own name for the first time – ‘Le Comptoir du Capitaine‘, translating roughly as “The Captain’s Trading Post/Bar”.

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Not only does the location feature hidden Mickeys and countless Coca-Cola bottles, but you might even spot a few details from the movie trilogy in there – such as E.I.C. (East India Trading Company) branding on several bottles, edging the nearby attraction ever closer to its big-screen counterparts. The only detail surprisingly missing from the location is the classic line “Drink up me hearties, yo ho!”, which has never had a more perfect time for its use…

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A simple food kiosk themed to this quality would be hard to spot at the US Disney parks or even Tokyo – the same standard of immersive themeing and storytelling which made the original 1992 park so congratulated now appears to be spreading and seeping further and further into the general fabric of the lands. With the resort’s management on a keen mission to continually drive up guest satisfaction and that quality Disney “edge” you won’t find anywhere else in Europe, it looks like they unlocked a real treasure chest with Coca Cola’s more active investment recently.

The only place still lacking this new themeing touch (other than Frontierland, which is already quite well served for food), would be Walt Disney Studios Park. With La Terrasse retaining its place as a refreshments courtyard once the Hollywood Boulevard project is complete, could Coca-Cola’s money next spill over into a new food retail location that isn’t a Studio Catering Co. van?

All photos by Joel’s Photo Hunt.

Sunday, 24th June 2007

Return of the unsinkable Molly Brown!

Her return may be a little later than expected (original refurbishment schedules stated she would be finished by the end of April), but… here she is!

A sight many people worried would never be seen again, the park’s unique side-wheeler riverboat – like none at any other Disney park – has begun cruising the Rivers of the Far West once more! And, with gleaming new paintwork and a full refurbishment and refit inside and out across the entire ship, she’s now looking more unsinkable than ever before.

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With her return to the waters, the Molly Brown’s partner at Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing – the Mark Twain – has now rested into the service dock for a well-earned rest and another full refurbishment, cleaning up and repainting the ship which has taken over service on his own for more than a year.

The full refurbishment comes after a serious incident on-board the ship during March 2005 in which her engine overheated, causing considerable smoke damage to much of the ship’s funnel area and rendering her immobile at the far end of the Rivers of the Far West. Guests had to be ferried ashore using the Raccoon and Coyote River Rogue Keelboats, with the “unsinkable” ship then laying dormant in the river until September of that year, when the Mark Twain’s dry dock refurbishment was completed and the ships could exchange places.

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The Mark Twain didn’t resume even a limited service until early 2006, and the Molly Brown’s own refurbishment was not begun until as late as September 2006. We wrote an article at the time dicussing the appeal from a work union at the resort to fix the ship – and how they appeared to be unaware that the ship was already pencilled in for its epic refurbishment to begin on 4th September and last until 27th April 2007!

Now, the Molly Brown has returned brighter than ever, the Mark Twain is about to be given another well-earned refurbishment and – thanks to their heroic “rescue” of guests during the incident itself, the River Rogue Keelboats are even due to return in under two weeks from now. In her own way, the unsinkable Molly Brown has absolutely guaranteed that the river traffic of Frontierland will never be sunk.

All photos by Photos Magiques. You can see more at their latest update here.

Sunday, 17th June 2007

River Rogue Keelboats return confirmed!

The return was first confirmed by La Rouquine on Disney Central Plaza forum just last Wednesday, and before fans of Keelboats even had time to pick their jaws up off of the floor, the Keelboats were sighted plying the rivers of Frontierland in preparation for the grand re-opening:

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A full refurbishment of the two boats, the Coyote and the Raccoon, and their well-themed loading dock was actually completed over one year ago, with Karl Holz and the operations teams hoping the boats would return for Summer 2006… but they never did. According to La Rouquine, it wasn’t a budget issue as many would have guessed, but infact an issue with training Cast Members to French boating standards in time for the Summer season.

Since the Cast Members running the boats entirely control their route, they must now have a full boating licence, which would have meant training off-site for a considerable time. La Rouquine reports that for the first time the go-ahead has now been given for the Cast Members to train on-site, but with an experienced, external instructor.

The boats originally ceased general service at the end of the 90s, with several brief days of opening in 2000 and 2001 before a full closure from the start of 2002. With only two boats in operation and a large team of Cast Members required, the boats don’t offer the kind of guest-munching, low-cost service operations teams usually enjoy, but in terms of giving life back to the Rivers of the Far West, their effect is unparalled.

Around fifteen Cast Members will join the attraction’s operations team, with an opening currently aimed at late June or early July. It seems likely the operations schedules currently call for a Summer season operation only, but should the return be a success, who knows what this fan-pleasing operations team will decide for the future…

Photos by Photos Magiques, 16/06/2007.

Friday, 1st June 2007

Once Upon a Dream for Christmas and Halloween

The special collector’s issue of the quarterly magazine features a double-page spread of an exclusive interview with Francois Leroux, Vice President of Entertainment for Disneyland Resort Paris.


Whilst the questions are largely geared towards introducing shareholders to the unique entertainment Francois and his team have developed for the Anniversary year, the second-to-last question is one that has been on fans’ lips for countless months already…


“During the year of festivities, how many Parades will we have during the Halloween and Christmas seasons?”

Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade will be presented throughout the year of the 15th Anniversary festivities. The Disney Villains will surely try to disrupt it at Halloween. Christmas will follow in naturally at the end of the parade to add still more magic.

The answer provides confirmation for the very first time that not only will Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade continue right through Halloween and Christmas, but there will be NO major dedicated parade for Halloween or Christmas, in the style of Disney Villain Parade or The Christmas Parade of recent years. This has been rumoured for some time, since the floats of these parades — redecorated from The Wonderful World of Disney Parade — have now mostly been taken out of service, and will never return.

Therefore, this Halloween we can expect a “Once Upon a Dream” with a touch of mischeif (likely a pre-parade segment in the style of last year’s Stitch Cavalcade), and this Christmas will bring an extra Christmas dream to the parade — will it be Santa Claus’ sleigh at the end of the parade, or something new?

All we have for now are dreams…

Friday, 1st June 2007

From Disneyland to Disneyland

Most guests rush through the resort area each day on their way to Disneyland Park or Walt Disney Studios Park, perhaps missing these clever new symbols on the central hub of the entire resort. For these guests there’s still an improvement to be spotted — the bright-white security tents have finally been changed to a much more pleasant green, as at Disneyland Resort in California, for example.

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And for anyone who takes their time and takes a look down at the ground, they’ll spot some unique floor decorations that bring the five Disney resorts closer than ever before. With all the current ‘Disney Parks’ branding going on and each resort beginning to share more styles, ideas and advertising, this is another step in the widespread plan of Bob Iger and Jay Rasulo to bring the parks and resorts closer together, to work off of eachother and help eachother out.

At select angles of the compass design embedded into the floor of the hub, you’ll now find a series of golden discs showing the logo for each of the four other Disney resorts, their opening date and the distance from Disneyland Resort Paris to these overseas parks.

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Whilst Disneyland Resort Paris is often short-changed when mentioned by the other resorts with an incorrect name or logo (usually the old Disneyland Paris logo, now 6 years gone), the people behind these new compass points have made sure to get the logos of Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland right up-to-date. You’ll see Disneyland Resort with its classic Walt Disney script, rather than the clinical 2001 version, and Walt Disney World Resort with its golden arc and stars — “stolen” from the 2002 Disneyland Resort Paris logo.

Currently, Disneyland Resort Paris is the only Disney resort in the world to acknowledge the others in this way. Will each resort get a similar centrepiece, or is this just a friendly “Bonjour!” from the folks in Paris?

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The distances from Paris to the other Disney resorts…

Disneyland Resort – Anaheim, California
9102 km

Walt Disney World Resort – Orlando, Florida

Tokyo Disney Resort – Tokyo, Japan
9698 km

Hong Kong Disneyland – Hong Kong, China
9584 km

As you can see, Disneyland Resort Paris is around halfway between the resorts of the West (California and Florida) and the East (Hong Kong and Tokyo) — the Disney magic has wrapped its way around the entire globe!

“It’s a small world afterall”, and the hub of Disneyland Resort Paris finally has a little golden touch of Disney magic.

All photos by Photos Magiques.

Thursday, 3rd May 2007

Présenté par… Unilever, Ford, or no-one?

Official partners and attraction sponsors have been a part of the Disneyland machine since the opening day of Disneyland California in 1955. Whilst Walt had already signed up an impressive list of partners and backers for his ambitious project, it was when attention was drawn to Tomorrowland that the story really began. Unable to finance a full land for opening day, the area became an exhibition area for the park’s partners until the 1959 expansion brought some of its most famous attractions.

For Disneyland Resort Paris, the story is even more complicated. Following the 1955 model, a huge collection of partners from various product areas jumped at the chance to sponsor Euro Disney… though only a handful remain today. Coca-Cola, Esso, France Télécom, Hasbro, Hertz, Kellogg’s, Kodak, McDonald’s, Nestlé, Opel and Visa were the partners up until late March 2007, when the contracts were due for another shake-up after fifteen years in Paris…

The first change in-park came at the Disneyland Railroad, which has now lost McDonald’s as its sponsor. As Bob Iger and Jay Rasulo continue to spread a healthier feel through the menus of Disney Parks around the world, Disneyland Resort Paris have wasted no time in losing McDonald’s as an official partner, and the position they’ve held at Disneyland Railroad since 1999.

The restaurant at Disney Village will remain, but all signage and announcements at the railroad have been fully updated to remove the golden arches. One example, Frontierland Depot, now has a new entrance sign with larger text to fill the space left. And, of course, “your friends at McDonald’s” no longer welcome you aboard…

Railroad fans need not despair however, the grand circle tour will still be cared for in the same way. Whilst audio problems continue on almost every train, Frontierland Depot has also recently received a full “restoration” of its detailed interior.

A second loss can be felt in both parks. Opel, partner since the 2002 opening of Walt Disney Studios Park, when it replaced former partner Renault to help develop and sponsor Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular, has now left the resort. After five years, the Opel contract expired and wasn’t renewed, as simple as that. In Disneyland Park, the various hidden details of the brand around Main Street USA have already been removed or hidden…

…Whilst over at Walt Disney Studios Park, the Opel badges have been removed from every car at Moteurs… Action! and the giant entrance marquee updated to reflect the loss.

The loss of a motoring sponsor is a fairly major change for the resort, so who could follow on from Renault and Opel/Vauxhall? As already confirmed at Autopia, none other than Ford Motor Company, one of the most recognisable brands in the world, has signed on to partner with Disneyland Resort Paris.

The iconic blue oval has already appeared on the entrance marquee and “Astrocoupé” billboard of Autopia, now officially sponsored by Ford. It’s interesting to note, though, that Ford here replaces not Opel but another oval logo… that of Esso. The petrol giant still sponsors Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril, but there is apparently some doubt now over how much longer this will continue – the sponsorship is no longer listed on the latest park map, for example.

Finally, the biggest change in sponsorship perhaps since the park first opened. When you think of brands featured at Disneyland, Nestlé inevitably springs to mind. From water to baby food, ice tea to Nescafé, ice cream to chocolate, the food giant was a major presence at the resort. From April 2007, however, their contract is over.

To replace a motor company is one thing, but how to replace a brand like Nestlé will all of its sub-companies and neverending products? Well, it looks like Disneyland Resort Paris have found the perfect candidate – Unilever. The name might not immediately ring a bell, but a quick look at some of the brands and companies in their portfolio shows they’re a more than worthy successor to Nestlé…

So now it seems we can expect Lipton Ice Tea rather than Nestea, Bertolli Italian foods rather than Buitoni and Miko (Walls in the UK) ice creams rather than Nestlé’s own – bringing Cornettos, Magnums, Calippos and Twisters to Disneyland for the first time!

The Nestlé name hasn’t been totally removed, however. The resort still uses the company’s chocolate products, Nescafé and baby food. Only time will tell if other new partners will replace these, or if Nestlé will remain on as simply a provider rather than a partner. The current park maps – valid until July and May respectively – also still feature Nestlé advertising.

One of the most popular changes already comes at Main Street’s Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor. Whilst The Ice Cream Company takes the more family-orientated Miko brand, the trendy Gibson Girl now takes the Ben & Jerry’s name – and serves a range of their most popular flavours for the first time.

The more “exclusive” Carte d’Or brand has also arrived, adding a golden touch to Fantasia Gelati in Fantasyland. With these positive changes to the products Disneyland Resort Paris can now offer at its restaurants and boutiques, the effect on sales will be interesting to watch.

Other possibilities are also opened up with the portfolio of companies – healthier Knorr foods at counter service restaurants? Dove soap and Lux shower gel at Disney Hotels? Or maybe – just maybe – Slim Fast at the Walt Disney Studios restaurants, for that true Hollywood experience.

More photos of the sponsorship changeovers can be seen at Photos Magiques.

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