Soundbites about “challenging tourism climates” and “investing in growth strategies” aren’t all you’ll find the Euro Disney S.C.A. Annual Review. Published by the Disneyland Paris operating group each year, the splashy document is also filled with a host of fascinating and intriguing facts and figures about the resort, its parks, its Cast Members and its visitors.
You can browse the 2013 Annual Review now online. Surprisingly, this year breaks with tradition and abandons the usual overblown website dedicated to the report (last year complete with Philippe Gas video intro) and presents it just as a standard e-brochure. We’d love to know the figure for how much cash that decision wisely saved. But instead, here’s our quick pick of the key figures and fun facts of 2013 at Disneyland Paris…
Last, but not least, the geographical split of theme park visits, where France has broken 51% leaving all other feeder nations languishing. It’s fascinating to look back ten years to the results from the 2003 Annual Review and see how dramatically the breakdown has shifted.
Where once 22% of visitors were from the United Kingdom, now that percentage is a tiny 14%. Worse for Germany; its percentage share has halved from 6% to 3% in 2013. Italy and Spain meanwhile used to make up 9% together and have now increased to 11%, mainly thanks to a boom in visitors from Spain begun a few years ago, but which now appears to have ebbed away, in line with the country’s economy, to 8%.
Attendance figures in 2003 were 12.4 million, so 22% would give an estimated 2,728,000 British guests for the year. The same calculation for 14% of the 14.9 million guests in 2013 gives 2,086,000 guests crossing the channel. Far from a scientific, watertight calculation, obviously, but you could see it suggesting that roughly 654,720 fewer visitors from the UK went to Disneyland Paris in 2013 compared to ten years ago, a 24% drop.
Overall, with 49% of visitors now coming from outside France in 2013 versus 61% in 2003, you could estimate the resort’s entire non-domestic park attendance has actually fallen by over a quarter of a million guests in the past ten years, from 7.6 million in 2003 to 7.3 million in 2013. In the same period, meanwhile, you could estimate attendance from within France has grown by a huge 2.8 million guests, from 4.8 million to a strong 7.6 million visitors.
Clearly it is time Disneyland Paris took a few of its œufs out of its panier and worked on growing visitor numbers from other countries too, if only back to the levels they were ten years ago.
That’s not something even Rémy can do alone, or is it?
Please don’t “feed the birds”, as several notices around Disneyland Paris kindly request. Maybe it’s the large bodies of the water, the endless dropped food and crumbs, or perhaps even the allure of the Disney magic itself; over the years seagulls have become a frequent nuisance for the mouse in Marne-la-Vallée. Not just detracting from exotic vistas such as the legendary Rivers of the Far West, but causing a maintenance pain for cleaning and repainting too.
Time for some new tactics, then, as the resort unusually announces on its official Twitter the past eight days have seen a trial operation with a falconer and his trusty bird of prey, circling the Chessy skies to deter gulls from descending in the parks. One moment saw the falcon swoop right across the stained glass window of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.
Disney_ParisFR later confirmed the effort had been a success and would be used again in the future. Coincidentally, seagulls only ever appear to be an issue in Disneyland Park and around Lake Disney in Disney Village. In Walt Disney Studios Park, you’re actually far more likely to see animatronic versions. Maybe they’re disappointed by the park, too?
With this trial proven, perhaps falconry could be employed to discourage other Disneyland Paris nuisances: the street sellers on the resort hub, that guest who blocks your view of Disney Dreams! just as the show begins, the lone smoker along a crowded parade route… What, no?
After a 5-year relationship between 2002 and 2007, during which time the company sponsored Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular, German car manufacturer Opel has returned to Disneyland Paris as its official vehicle partner. There’s no comment yet whether the General Motors subsidiary could return to sponsor the Backlot stunt show, but it will certainly make its presence known across the resort — if only for backstage Cast Members. As part of the two-year agreement announced on 7th November, Opel France will replace the resort’s entire fleet of cars with brand new, more environmentally-friendly models such as the Opel Movano, Opel Vivaro and Opel Combo. One vehicle whose presence won’t be felt quite so much is the striking all-electric Opel Ampera (the European version of the Chevrolet Volt), a fleet of which Disneyland Paris will take delivery of for backstage duties in January 2012 — one of the first companies in Europe to do so. The entire fleet will also be fitted with Opel’s latest CO² reduction technologies “ecoFLEX”and “Start/Stop”.
The resort’s previous vehicle partner, Ford, ended its three-year partnership in early 2010. During that time it was the official sponsor of Autopia, helping some new investment at the Discoveryland attraction with a new marquee and photo location. Since Opel has only signed for two years, a sponsorship of either motor-based attraction seems unlikely. Now, Disneyland Paris will ironically be replacing its fleet of backstage support vehicles with electric cars while this “highway of the future” continues to belch out petrol fumes. Only Hong Kong Disneyland currently operates electric cars on the attraction.
There are suggestions that Euro Disney SCA, operating group of Disneyland Paris, could be about to sign a landmark agreement with French energy partner EDF.
Currently, as visitors arrive at the resort by car or coach, they’re greeted by a pleasant — but exceptionally large — parking space. A huge expanse of tarmac poured nonchalantly over the former fields of Marne-la-Vallée, this has perhaps never been the best of first impressions for the French to become enamoured with Disney’s controversial arrival.
However, according to rumours now doing the message board rounds, the flat, single-level parking lot serving the two Disney Parks — with more than 11,000 car parking spaces — would be covered end to end in so-called “Ombrières”, a patented type of solar power canopy covered in photovoltaic cells.
An unfortunate necessity becomes a publicity coup?
Creating electricity which can then be used on-site or sold back into the grid, the futuristic canopies also collect rainwater to reduce piped water usage as well as protecting people — and their cars — from the elements, be they a rainstorm or a scorching hot day.
Rather than your car burning up in the full heat of the Summer sun, that energy would be transformed into real power — possibly even to power your ride on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Phantom Manor!
The idea is not entirely new, already being in use at locations such as the E-Leclerc shopping centre near Montpellier seen in these photos. These canopies are manufactured by French company SunVie. Should the enormous parking surface at Disneyland Paris be covered by “solar panels” like these, it would apparently become the largest such energy plant in France and almost certainly one of the largest in Europe.
Naturally, after the initial excitement at such a prospect, thoughts are now turning to the visual impact of the “Ombrières” which, whilst actually functionally good-looking, would probably contrast a bit too much with the more whimsical structures already dotted around the parking lot, such as the canopies of the moving walkways.
To redesign them with a little more Disney spark certainly wouldn’t be hard, but multiplied over several hundred rows could amount to a restrictively large rise in construction costs.
Indeed, details so far are rather sketchy as to how such a project would be managed between Euro Disney and EDF — who would pay for the set-up, who would get the power generated? Nevertheless, this would be a sure-fire publicity winner for the resort, and hopefully more than just blue sky (solar) thinking…
• See more details, photos and a video here.
Images: DLRP Today; SunVie. News via Parcs et Companie, thanks to lil-shawn (magicforum).
Such a proposal — to replace the real ice rink we’ve become used to with a synthetic version — might have seemed like the perfect opportunity for any jaded Disney nuts to blast forth about how the company has “lost it”. Luckily, there’s no example set here.
Check out the classic, real version:
Then this first photo of the new rink, taken by Chris44 from Disney Magic Interactive:
And it looks… fine, actually. Don’t you think?
Look closely and you can see the joins, but considering that this new artificial surface is cheaper, easier to maintain and better for the environment, it’s a decision well made and at first glimpse, well executed. The finish appears much better than the patio slab-style rink feared. From the thoughts of those who tried it, the quality of the old surface wasn’t much to shout about anyway.
The big possibility this new rink opens up is that of year-round operation. It’s a popular feature of the months from November to April, so why not extend that? Have a perpetual Rockefeller Plaza ice rink outside Hotel New York; surely that’d be vastly better than the truly hideous kids’ go-kart driving circuit that has plagued the space for so many Summers now.
Yes, check into your expensive, “4 star” Disney hotel, look out of your window and see… this:
Ouch. Not very “New York chic”. A permanent ice rink, provided it’s well-maintained, would finally remove this from the resort’s black spot list (Studio 1 billboard, etc, remain).
Of course, we’d all probably still much rather see a return of the wonderful, giant map of Manhattan which is still hidden under there and used to be opened up into a giant water feature, but you can’t have everything.
To add a bit of history from our soon-to-open Euro Souvenirland.com (the Memorabilia section of DLRP Magic! is becoming its own website, plug plug), you can see here how the whole of Rockefeller Plaza used to be full of atmosphere…
…especially come nighttime, when they’d serve a romantic dinner under trees filled with glittering lights, as music from the hotel’s now long-gone Manhattan Jazz Club echoed through the air.
With one of the plaza’s forgotten outbuildings re-opened briefly as a café location this Summer and now a re-think of the ice rink with the possibility of extended operation, perhaps things are finally changing for the better on this side of Lake Disney?
Photos: © Disney; Chris44; Nicolai.
And no, not the kind of guest who writes graffiti in the Crush’s Coaster queue, stands in front of you on the parade route or climbs on the flower beds of Central Plaza.
For all the masses of people and sickly sweet foods, what’s the one thing mostly — and surprisingly — missing from Disneyland? The wasps.
Unfortunately, when you’ve got a bin with four wide open holes and a collection of sticky drinks bottles, that seems to be what you get:
Being “tested” across Walt Disney Studios Park since August, the new bins seemed to attract rather a lot of the unpopular insects on a warm day, far more than your average (closed) park trash can. These photos were taken in the Toon Plaza area at the back of Toon Studio within just a few minutes.
Open holes also seem to be used for the better-themed bins we provided as examples from other Disney parks around the world, but only one or two per bin. Seeing the wasps, let’s hope there’s a rethink of the design if these are to be rolled out “resort-wide” — if only for those few fleeting months of hot weather Paris enjoys each year.
The chaos caused by a single wasp in a Disney queue line cannot be overstated.
Pictures: DLRP Today.com
We can all admit that Disneyland, whilst responsible, is by its nature hardly the “Greenest Place on Earth”. Between the energy-guzzling attractions, seas of merchandise and fast food disposables, it’s hard to feel very eco-friendly as you enjoy the parks.
Surprisingly, the other international parks are already well-ahead on this one. Despite Europe — and especially the countries which feed into Disneyland Paris — probably being rather more keen on recycling, it’s the parks in California and Hong Kong which have double bins in most locations, with clever themed designs indicating the bin for recycling bottles and cans.
And now, they’ve finally arrived in Paris:
The new bins to have arrived in Walt Disney Studios Park for this test aren’t quite so special, but they’re certainly a positive step forward. Even if Euro Disney S.C.A. already claims to recycle 39% of its total waste, these make it clear to guests that the parks are taking responsibility for their waste, as well as allowing bottles and cans to be separated from the start.
With only Disney Studio 1 and Toon Studio having slightly different designs for their bins, the Studios would never be the first to lead with a clever themed design, but if the “test” is successful enough for these bins to show up everywhere (and why wouldn’t it be?), hopefully our new green conscience can come with a little more Disney magic, like above.
Picture (Paris): Photos Magiques.