Wednesday, 7th July 2021

Disney Premier Access to replace free Fastpass tickets with paid app service

Disney’s Fastpass will not return to Disneyland Paris, the resort confirms, as it launches a new, paid replacement service titled Disney Premier Access that will cost visitors up to €15 per person, per ride just to skip a single queue.

Read More…

Tuesday, 6th July 2021

Disneyland Paris opens for 2021 season: re-opening info at a glance

The magic is finally back. After the longest closure in its history due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, Disneyland Paris re-opened on 17th June 2021: including Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park, Disney Village and a gradual re-opening of the Disney Hotels.

Read More…

Friday, 21st February 2014

Crush’s Coaster in line for permanent Single Rider, more queue improvements

Crush's Coaster - Walt Disney Studios Park - Disneyland Paris

Remember when Crush’s Coaster opened in 2007 and immediately couldn’t cope with demand? Well dudes, almost seven years later something permanent is finally going to be done about the capacity-starved Toon Studio coaster’s popularity.

During its four week closure from 17th March to 11th April, Crush’s Coaster will reportedly see the addition of a permanent Single Rider line, as well as an expansion of the regular queue line itself, something fans including ourselves have requested since opening.

Cast Member sources Pretty Wyatt, AnonyMouse and DynastyGo on Disney Central Plaza forum report that two options were presented to improve the standard queue line: making permanent the temporary ropes which wind their way in front of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, and/or a genuine enlargement of the exterior queue area into what is currently “backstage”.

Thankfully, the second option has apparently been green-lit, leaving the installation of more permanent barriers around the Flying Carpets “oasis” area as an added possibility.

This is great news for visitors joining the queue and the area as a whole. The temporary ropes constantly clog up what is already a cramped portion of the land, especially now guests are also heading through to Toy Story Playland and soon to La Place de Rémy. Making the outside queue area at the side of Studio 5 bigger would be a long-overdue decision.

Crush's Coaster queue - Walt Disney Studios Park - Disneyland Paris

Single Rider is also absolutely the right choice to maximise capacity of the ride. We reported in-depth on the Crush’s Coaster Fastpass tests in 2008, quickly proven unworkable for a ride with such low capacity. Fastpass can obviously never add capacity to a finite ride, whereas Single Rider can at least maximise capacity to as close to 100% as possible, filling every empty seat in groups of odd numbers. Both Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop and RC Racer now work successful, permanent Single Rider lines, and one is planned for Ratatouille right from the start.

In fact, it’s probably Rémy we have to thank for this long-awaited improvement. With all the new guests expected to flock to Walt Disney Studios Park for the E-Ticket dark ride, some will inevitably also help to make the Crush’s Coaster queue longer. Leaving things as they are, with even longer queues spilling out into the street, would not present a good image.

Flying Carpets Over Agrabah - Walt Disney Studios Park - Disneyland Paris

In similar fashion, we’ve suddenly seen the front of Animagique get some paint work (if not enough work). And, from 14th April right through the whole of May at least, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah will be closed for a thorough top-to-bottom refurbishment that will reportedly see the aerial carousel completely dismantled and rebuilt, just as its cousin Orbitron – Machines Volantes has enjoyed at least twice in recent memory.

That’s a lot of very welcome spit and polish ahead of the land’s newest ride opening. (Let’s just pretend the un-themed pathway behind Art of Disney Animation doesn’t exist, shall we?)

Friday, 31st July 2009

Did we miss anything..?

Well yes, quite a lot obviously. Just shows you shouldn’t go wandering into the Adventure Isle caves just before park closing… it’s been four long months!

If you’ve been similarly deprived of Disneyland Resort Paris news, given up trying to translate what they’re saying on the French forums, sit back and enjoy a quick and concise round-up of all the big stories of recent months — here we go!

SLEEPING BEAUTY’S BLING

Was it coincidence that updates here ended just about the time that Sleeping Beauty Castle succumbed to its most horrific, misguided meddling-with to date?

The birthday cake, the jester’s hat, the Epcot wand, the MGM hat… you’ve met your match. There truly aren’t enough negative adjectives in the dictionary.

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— — —

MAGICAL PARTY LAUNCHES WITH MEGA-PARTY

‘You’re invited!’ …but not to this. Press and media types were schmoozed in spectacular fashion as new theme year Mickey’s Magical Party kicked off with fireworks, projections, lights and so many characters they couldn’t even all fit on the damn stage.

Did it generate headlines, articles, media coverage? No.

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— — —

ACTUAL PARTY GROWS ON FANS

Frustratingly-titled new Central Plaza show ‘It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends’ initially looked rather like a drab flop on an overbearing and unnecessary new stage, but it has grown on most fans. The score by Vasile Sirli is actually plain fantastic (especially considering the lacklustre music in the year’s other new shows) and it provides a fresh, colourful heart for the year.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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ShoulderKids – this year’s must-have accessory

— — —

LIGHT MAGIC GIVEN FORMAL APOLOGY

Over in Discoveryland, the other show with an annoying name — ‘It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland’ — brought delights such as large, primary-coloured circles on the floor of a retro-futuristic land, and the expertly-chosen hits of Block Party Bash.

Despite the show being considered terrible on every level by most who’ve seen it, the performers put so much effort and energy into their routine they each almost deserve a window on Main Street.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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— — —

PLAYHOUSE DISNEY QUIETLY OPENS

Beyond the forced MMP hoopla over the other side of the esplanade, Walt Disney Studios Park gained a brand new attraction — its fifth addition since opening — in ‘Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!’. Jolly good fun it is too — wonderfully staged, very charming. The Paris version even has a “1 Up” on the two earlier versions with a big new pre-show studio.

Watch the full show in HD here.

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Credit crunch souvenirs

— — —

RESTAURANT GENERIQUE

Changing its name to ‘Restaurant des Stars’, the far too interestingly-named ‘Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant’ gained a new logo, some new colours and a new entrance canopy.

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— — —

DUDE LOOKS LIKE A FIRE!

In a quite bizarre coincidence, just days after fans launched an online April Fool suggesting Aerosmith would be succeeded by French rocker Johnny Hallyday as musical guests at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, a fire began in the roof of the showbuilding.

Luckily the damage was minor — though it did allow for these dramatic photos (below) as the inspection crews ripped off the cladding, checked and replaced it. The attraction reopened just the next day.

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— — —

SMEE GIVEN SURGERY

Captain Hook’s bumbling first mate was given a random makeover by the worldwide Disney Parks character team and, unlike most famous faces, he returned from the cosmetic surgery with a face more expressive than before. Remarkable.

Hopefully they’ll tackle some of the clearly worse-looking characters next, like the dead-eyed Woody, Jessie and Buzz…

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— — —

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL PARTY!

Now back for a third year, the Studios’ High School Musical show this year gained musical numbers from the third film but stopped short of going for the full ‘HSM3’ show the other resorts put on. ‘I Want it all’ is the standout number, but one that certainly won’t win over any new fans.

Watch the full show in HD here.

— — —

THEMED SMOKING

The ‘Smoking Areas’ inside the parks had been extended little beyond their miniature park map icons, so it’s reassuring to see that each area now has its own themed sign, tied into the location. Give it a few years and the public might actually use them.

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— — —

STUDIO STORE OPENS UP

Behind construction walls last time we saw it, the Walt Disney Studios Store has now been completed, with three new doors and payment desks in front of new, large windows.

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

— — —

STORYBOOK ENDING

Main Street has always had the best-kept exteriors of the entire park, always popping with a fresh bit of paint here or there. A new development in recent years are the nice tarpaulin coverings given images of the building hiding behind. Even for tiny spots like this one on the end of The Storybook Store, the hidden façade is still presented on top.

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— — —

PLAZA GARDENS GLEAMS

After a major refurbishment of the interior, including bringing the central fountain back to daily life, the whole Plaza Gardens Restaurant building was wrapped in themed tarps for an expensive top-to-bottom refurbishment and repaint. It didn’t stand out as being particularly bad before, there are other areas needing paint sooner, but it does look fantastic.

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— — —

STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES

Over the hub, it’s surprising to see that the refurbishment of Disney Studio 1 continues, the huge centrepiece building of the park still wrapped up in scaffolding. Must be a bigger job than originally thought, right?

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— — —

FLOORS OF ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY

Tripped up in Disneyland Park recently? No wonder, some of the concrete pathways are literally falling to pieces. Thankfully, the first resurfacing works seen for many years have been taking place, with areas of Adventure Isle and vast swathes of Discoveryland closed off and given new flooring, the effect — especially just in front of Space Mountain — very noticeably making the whole land look brand new.

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— — —

TENNIS, MICE, MAIN STREET

Some of the resort’s press and advertising efforts have been surprisingly inventive this year, like this — turning the top of Main Street into a full-size tennis court and inviting Gaël Monfils and Stanislas Wawrinka to play with Mickey Mouse.

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Just a few days later, Serena Williams visited the park and was met in front of the Castle by Minnie Mouse, wearing a special tennis player costume.

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— — —

JUST ‘PARIS’

Effectively the biggest change of the past few months, the news in April and subsequent official changeover in May that has seen ‘Disneyland Resort Paris’ — the resort’s name since the 2002 opening of Walt Disney Studios Park — change back to just plain ‘Disneyland Paris’.

It certainly makes sense — the extra word was always unpopular, confusing to non-English speakers and now, with every park from Alton Towers to your local fairground claiming itself as a “Resort”, it simply doesn’t have any value. “Disneyland Resort Paris” is cumbersome and never spoken, “Disneyland Paris” is short and very strong. Whilst things like the official website have changed over, don’t expect this to be an overnight transition — the new (or rather, old) logo will reappear just as and when things need replacing.

Unfortunately, this decision — made by new CEO Philippe Gas himself — came in April, just weeks after the resort had launched a whole new brand campaign for the theme year. These traditionally start in April, and everything from Cast Member name tags to park tickets and guidemaps had already been printed up with the full “Disneyland Resort Paris” name. Smart name reversal, silly timing.

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There’s also a whole myriad of logo variations now available (above). Which should be used, when? The standard logo is being presented as two-colour, with the “Paris” in a gold gradient that already looks rather dated.

— — —

BURNING FIRES, FLOWING WATERS

Tasked with bringing back old and forgotten effects, a new “taskforce” within the resort’s maintenance department has been one of the most positive steps in recent months. We already appear to have seen some brilliant reawakened touches, such as the torches on Fort Comstock at the entrance to Frontierland (lit from nightfall)…

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And the water channels leading to the drinking fountains beside La Cabane des Robinson.

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Whilst a long way short of having the full irrigation system working again (water should be hoisted right up to the top of the tree by the water wheel, before being poured out and running through the channels back to ground level), it’s great to think someone took the time to figure this out.

Elsewhere, these moving fairground balloons inside Boardwalk Candy Palace have been back working again, for the first time in years.

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— — —

CAFE DE LA BROUSSE

Mostly sitting closed, Café de la Brousse has never the less just had a large-scale refurbishment completed, bringing colour back to the “bush café” buildings. Dole is presented heavily as the host, but still no one thinks of bringing the legendary Dole Whip to Paris!

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— — —

DISNEY VILLAGE NOW ‘COOL’

So. It took a Starbucks to make Disney Village “hip” again.

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Yes, it meant losing the wonderful Buffalo Trading Co. and inviting a quite equally despised/appreciated corporation into a Disney-branded area, but the coffeehouse itself was built using genuinely eco-friendly ideas and looks really quite trendy inside, with a wonderfully modern exterior — industrial elements clashing beautifully with earthy materials.

— — —

ROSES PAINTED RED, FINALLY!

The on-off refurbishment of Alice’s Curious Labyrinth — with little areas regaining sparkle each month or so — has continued, the Paris-exclusive attraction even seeing… new paint! The red edgings of the entire labyrinth have finally been repainted, a year after similar edgings on the Fantasyland-Discoveryland path received paint before them, and scenes like the Caterpillar suddenly “pop” like they should again:

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— — —

ROBINSONS RETURN TO LA CABANE

Also brought back to life this Summer is La Cabane des Robinson, previously the only other “blackspot” alongside the Labyrinth. For too long the treehouse has been bleak and worn. Props missing, effects broken, no colour. It was as if the Robinsons had long ago moved on from their treetop abode. Not any more — refreshed woodwork, new props and a complete clean-up really make it “pop”. Effects like the self-playing organ are still missing.

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Even the water fountains were revisited and given an extra spruce-up:

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— — —

WOODCARVER’S WORKSHOP RE-OPENS

Not entirely the amazing news that might suggest, but nevertheless the long-abandoned Woodcarver’s Workshop over in Cottonwood Creek Ranch, next to what is now Woody’s Roundup, has finally been brought back into service — selling drinks and souvenir photos from the character meet ‘n’ greets inside.

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A long way from the actual woodcarvers who used to create personalised souvenirs here, but good to see it alive and well in some form, eh?

— — —

ENCHANTED FIREWORKS DAMPENED AGAIN

The Enchanted Fireworks have returned for their second year — dampened again in similar style to the later shows last year, when the nearby town of Chessy apparently banged on the wall and issued a loud “shhh”. Fans, and even apparently some regular guests, aren’t too impressed with the “new” show.

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— — —

ATTRACTION OPEN 12:00 – 12:05

The same limited opening schedule of attractions put in place last Summer has returned again this year, with visitors taking much more notice. Some say it’s fair enough that they have to close attractions early, since most people have headed to Main Street to watch Fantillusion, whilst others leave annoyed that the park’s advertised opening time of 10am to 11pm isn’t strictly true.

Most agree that the whole situation would be better if the limited openings schedule was at least published somewhere other than only at the attraction entrances themselves — on the tips board, in the Programme leaflet, for example.

— — —

GOOGLE EARTH 3D: WORTH THE WAIT

The much-publicised and subsequently much-delayed official 3D recreation of Disneyland Paris in Google Earth finally launched in mid-May and proved to be well worth the wait, offering a truly spectacular metre-by-metre recreation of every inch of the parks and resort. Visit www.disneylandparis.com/googleearth3d and lose a few hours.

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A few days later, Google Street View was also added for small stretches of each park:

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— — —

BROCHURE TESTS THE LIMITS

Have you seen the brochures and advertising for Walt Disney World? How grand and high-class it all looks. For Paris, however, the brochures in particular seem to be getting ever more garish and in-your-face with each publication. The latest, current brochure for Autumn/Winter 2009/10 features some truly frightening images of blurred children flying above the parks, with so much photoshopping and saturated colour you can barely see the resort they’re trying to advertise.

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The actual, printed version also comes with a bizarre claim on the cover of “First ever interactive brochure”. Beyond the cut-out on the cover (Mickey is actually on the page behind), the only evidence of this is a French (+33) mobile number you can text to get a video trailer of the new theme year. Several weeks later, nothing received here.

— — —

VAT REDUCTION? VAT CHANCE

The French government has officially lowered the VAT rate for cafés and restaurants from 19.6% to just 5.5% in order to keep the industry afloat, and, while you’ll certainly find many notifications of this within the resort, you’ll be much harder pressed to actually find reductions.

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Whilst some things, especially the Half Board vouchers, have come down in price, most scenarios have just seen the prices stay the same and Disneyland Paris pocketing the difference in order to prop up the large drop in food and beverage sales this year — mostly on account of the prices being too high during a recession. Good thinking.

— — —

ICE CREAM ARRIVES ON-SET

Walt Disney Studios Park must have been the only theme park in the world without a proper ice cream location until the latest change in its food & beverages offering. The Franklin Department Store façade (similar to the exterior of Gone Hollywood at DCA, international fans) gave up its wonderful 1950s-themed period window to become a new kiosk serving actual, real Ben & Jerry’s by the scoop.

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Photo: dlrptimes.com

The lost window was more interesting than the one remaining, featuring a mannequin woman sitting with a 1950s travel magazine, retro television and monster/sci-fi movie poster. The Tower of Terror across the way has such a minimal build-up in Paris that small period-setting details like this really mattered — the Imagineers would have put an ice cream kiosk in there from the start otherwise.

Couldn’t such a vital theme park component as ice cream have commanded its own building somewhere? Rather than expanding, the park almost seems to be imploding, with under-sized kiosks popping up all over where real, full-size boutiques and restaurants should be. More than anything, one single serving window for this in such a prominent position is madness.

— — —

BLOCKBUSTERS IN THE BACKLOT

Over in Backlot, the big news has been the complete gutting of Backlot Express, the “props warehouse” counter service restaurant, in favour of the more brand-friendly idea of themed rooms dedicated to the Pirates of the Caribbean and High School Musical franchises. The changeover began with the arrival of a plain Ford Focus outside the restaurant, plastered with “HSM3” stickers…

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The new logo has been completed on the outside…

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And as for the inside? Well, real props from these two trilogies have yet to appear, with the High School Musical area causing much fan hair-tearing already with its “themeing” of bland posters, banners and mini basketballs (taken from merchandise). The “East High” theme does sit well within the building, but this isn’t anything someone with a good printer could set up themselves. Are there not even any costumes from the film lying around over in Burbank?

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Beyond the “torn bedsheets” (as described by magicforum members) hanging from the ceiling, the ‘Pirates’ area has defied the odds and just presented the first real surprise of this project — the removal of the metal railings of the raised “garage” area to be replaced with pirate ship-styled wooden banisters and a full ship’s wheel.

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— — —

TELEVISION STUDIOS GOES ’50s

…Or is that wishful thinking? With a long-overdue repaint of the Walt Disney Television Studios building (home to Playhouse and Stitch Live) finally beginning back in April and only just making real progress, have the maintenance teams really taken a step back and reconsidered the building, rather than just bursting ahead with the same ugly yellows the original designers chose in 2002?

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Yes, it seems so! The architecture was already within the period, but the colours didn’t quite fit. Now, a deep red has replaced the turquoise on the “fins” atop the building, with the yellow turning a much more earthy, peachy shade, in whole much closer to a 1950s Hollywood look and more pleasing next to the subdued tones of the Hollywood Tower Hotel just opposite.

— — —

ANIMAGIQUE KIOSK MARK II

The bland merchandise kiosk which appeared outside Animagique in 2007 now has a partner. Filling in dead space on the right of the same TV Studios building, this little location opened just this week, using the new colour scheme and dressed up in a pleasingly similar style of fins and neons.

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Photo: Sean Hamilton

In any other Disney park, such a location would be given a name or some kind of personality (think Crossroads of the World at Disney’s Hollywood Studios). It offers the usual generic collection of character merchandise.

— — —

ROCKEFELLER PLAZA REBORN

Could this be the start of a new era for the environs of Disney’s Hotel New York? The Rockefeller Plaza building, a dull games arcade for far too long, has finally reopened as a lovely café refreshments location for the Summer.

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— — —

MICKEY SWINGS INTO — AND ONTO — BUFFALO BILL’S

It was the controversy of the year — nay, the decade — and now it looks like Mickey Mouse has made home. The not-so-great poster previously stuck on the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show entrance has just been replaced by a large model of Mickey Mouse abseiling down over the building.

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Whilst it looks much smarter now, it has fans worried that the mouse may well be there to stay. On the subject of the show itself, the current Summer park programme leaflets are now advertising Adult tickets for the price of Child tickets. In high season? Maybe adding a mouse wasn’t the best way to sell the scale of this truly epic dinner show.

— — —

FASTPASS FOR MONEY

This one must be the second-biggest controversy of the year, then. In itself not a huge thing by any means, this could however be the first step of a huge shift in how Fastpass works. From 18th July to 4th August, guests staying at Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Hotel New York and, it seems, Disney’s Newport Bay Club, can buy a special “Premium FASTPASS” for €80 per person per day.

The ticket is effectively a VIP FASTPASS, the unlimited-access ticket previously given only to guests in Club rooms and Suites, allowing you to use the FASTPASS queues for attractions as and when you want, as many times as you want to.

— — —

STUDIO 1 REFURBISHMENT CONTINUES

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— — —

GOOFY’S SUMMER CAMP

Somewhere you won’t find Mickey this year is the new show at The Chaparral Theater in Frontierland. Yes, since we last updated the topic, The Tarzan Encounter was cancelled again — for good.

This new show is somewhat like the Summer cousin to the brilliant Mickey’s Winter Wonderland, only scuppered by a desperation for audience interaction, with too few scenes between. However, with a live country band as the big “plus” to replace the Winter ice rink, a great stage and some nice musical numbers, it’s winning more fans than certain other shows this year, and much more fitting for its location than Tarzan ever was.

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— — —

MAIN STREET COMES ALIVE WITH MARCHING BAND

Last seen making brief appearances last Summer on the old Central Plaza Stage, the brass band has returned! Now performing a brilliant set of Disney music (even including Hans Zimmer’s Pirates score!) on Town Square, this is the kind of classic Disneyland entertainment we rarely see in Paris, so enjoy! The only problem — no one, not the makers of the park programme, nor the Cast Members inside City Hall, appear to have been given their performance schedule.

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— — —

CARL’S HOUSE FLIES OVER FRANCE

The real-life version of the balloon-lifted house from Pixar’s next — and 10th — major hit, “Up”, travelled over to France recently and, amongst appearing in some truly spectacular hot air balloon festivals, paid a visit to Disneyland Paris early one morning.

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— — —

AND FINALLY…

Who’d have known — the Sleeping Beauty fountain inside the Castle gallery was actually meant to trickle down into the waterfall below, beside the staircase, as one, complete water system! Now, after truly years of being turned off and ignored, it’s fixed and running. The “crystal” at the bottom of the falls glows, too!

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Photo: pussinboots

Wonderful. Utmost appreciation to whoever made this happen.

— — —

So there you go, DLRP Today returns!

With thanks to www.photosmagiques.com!

Tuesday, 5th August 2008

FASTPASS and Crush, the (inevitable) return!

We reported the introduction of a second crush at Crush’s Coaster in Walt Disney Studios Park with the testing of FASTPASS tickets for one week in July. Then, we gave it an analysis so thorough that even Jaque’s Boat Cleaners would be proud. Ultimately, we accepted that the introduction of some kind of FASTPASS system at the popular yet capacity-starved attraction might just be inevitable — if only to stop the tide of complaints and questions from confused, queueing guests.

And the operations managers of Disneyland Resort Paris? They’re not quite so sure. Which is why, from 18th to 24th August 2008, the full FASTPASS tests will return again!

This information comes from member Chti Greg on Disney Central Plaza forum, who provided the original forewarning of the July tests — and just happens to work as a cast member on the attraction itself.

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So, if you’re headed to Marne-la-Vallée’s little piece of the Australian reef this month, you might just be able to test the timeslot system for yourself. Yes, that’s important — test it.

Operations are apparently just as hesitant about adding FASTPASS full-time as the fans who complain it will cripple the attraction’s regular queue. So, they’ll have another chance to test it fully again and perhaps, just perhaps, convince themselves once and for all that it will or won’t work full-time.

[Pictures: DLRP Today]

Wednesday, 30th July 2008

FASTPASS and Crush, unworkable or inevitable?

Some called “Hurrah”, others called “Horror”. For Disneyland Resort Paris, this is just about the debate of the last twelve months — should Crush’s Coaster offer FASTPASS?

First, the arguments. If you’re a pro-FASTPASS visitor, you might be shocked at just how strongly some people feel against the system. Here is a way to let people spend the time they would be standing in a line enjoying themselves elsewhere in the park. You get your ticket, return at the time, and are guaranteed a shorter wait. Sounds pretty great all-round.

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Capacity issues

The big issue, that anyone against the system will tell you, is this: FASTPASS does not add capacity. It sounds obvious, but many — particularly those “everyday” guests in the parks — assume that if an attraction has FASTPASS it can, somehow, automatically accept a much greater number of people through its turnstiles every hour. Of course, not true.

What happens is that, whilst the flow of people through the FASTPASS queue is regulated and steady in accordance with the attraction’s actual capacity per hour (or throughput) thanks to the timeslots, the people deciding to join the regular queue can end up waiting longer.

“But it’s not our problem, they could have got a ticket too” you could say. True, they could — but not everyone can. Usually it’s only between 40 and 50% of all the guests going through an attraction each day. There will, always, be a vast majority who have to grin and bear the queue if they’re to get on-board.

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“Well then, why not make the attraction FASTPASS-only, so that everyone needs a ticket?”. Sure, that would guarantee you a ride with a guaranteed shorter wait, but here you threaten to destroy completely the logistics and operation of an entire Disney theme park.

Disneyland in California learnt this to its peril in the early 2000s, when the much-maligned old management seemingly added it to everything in sight, answering the call of unknowing guests and hoping for significant increases in food and merchandise sales as people waited.

How much is too much?

In fact, those increases failed to materialise, because when you get a FASTPASS ticket you rarely think “right, now let’s go spend some money whilst waiting” — usually, you still want to actually ride an attraction.

Case in point — during the tests at Crush’s Coaster, the normally-sedate Flying Carpets Over Agrabah suddenly began to accumulate queues of between 75 and 90 minutes every day (equalling the Coaster itself), as guests grabbed a ticket and then went straight to the first nearby attraction.

With FASTPASS tickets in everyone’s hands, the walkways become crowded to the extent where the park capacity actually decreases, things become worn before time and complaints actually rise.

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Surprisingly, it seems it is in Disney’s interest to keep you IN the queues, so that more people can get into the park and more people have a good time. In the end, the new management in California removed FASTPASS from “it’s a small world”, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Tours and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh — and it still remains at no less than 8 attractions there.

It’s not all bad — the system can work great on attractions that are designed with it in mind, or built with a big enough capacity that they can easily cope with both ticket holders and regular queuers. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, with its two huge loading floors, is a good example. Similarly, Space Mountain: Mission 2‘s two platforms mean that trains can be “prepared” in advance so that the throughput of trains stays steady and right up to the maximum capacity.

And now we arrive here — Crush’s Coaster. The E-Ticket that isn’t.

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Joining the Crush

For all intents and purposes, this attraction IS considered by guests to be as important as Big Thunder Mountain or The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It’s a classic Disney “weenie” as you step toward Toon Studio, it’s a roller coaster, it’s based on the most successful animated movie ever made and it’s a LOT of fun. But it also has a capacity of just 960 people per hour, and that’s with turtle shells filled right up with 4 people departing regular as clockwork every 15 seconds.

Crush’s Coaster was never meant to be such an important attraction in the fabric of the park. But, whilst Toon Studio waits for its real high-capacity E-Ticket, it is always going to be. On this one, Imagineering simply struck gold with an idea and didn’t realise before it was too late.

The comparisons to Peter Pan’s Flight across the way are spot on — a popular film, a great concept, with a low capacity and ‘E-Ticket’ status that wasn’t intended. Part of this, interestingly, seems to come from the conclusion of guests that FASTPASS equals a must-see attraction.

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The only way to truly solve the Crush at Crush would be to build a second track for the coaster — which won’t happen. Or perhaps to build a second loading platform inside, to make sure its’ throughput stays steady — which won’t happen. Short of demolishing it (which again, won’t happen), FASTPASS begins to look like a good option. And that’s what the regular park guests think, too.

Questions and answers

If you’re reading this between the hours of 10am and 7pm, we can guarantee unquestionably that right now, in Walt Disney Studios Park, a Cast Member will be being asked “does Crush’s Coaster have FASTPASS?” or “why doesn’t Crush’s Coaster have FASTPASS?”. Maybe someone will even be making a complaint at Studio Services.

So now we find the real reason for these tests — they’re never going to make 100% of people happy with the situation at Crush’s Coaster, but if they can make 40% of people happy — and then tell the rest that “yes, we do offer FASTPASS, but they’ve all gone, it’s very popular, sorry”, then that seems to show, to these people, that Disneyland Resort Paris are trying to handle the situation.

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In that sense, it almost seems inevitable. Hand out around 3,000 FASTPASS tickets each morning, and that’s 3,000 happy guests that otherwise would have faced a grumpy 90-minute wait. Cast Members finally have the ability to say the system IS offered, but all gone for the day.

It seems like a good solution, but there’s bound to be a negative somewhere… The 5,500 other guests who can ride the attraction each day, perhaps? Not only are they now waiting for slightly longer than before (since people pick up a FASTPASS who might not have otherwised bothered to ride at all), but they’re in a queue with fewer people and having to watch 30-or-so giddy FASTPASS riders walk right by every few minutes. So, for the “other 60%”, it begins to look less appetising.

And of course, we shouldn’t forget that for the recent tests Crush’s Coaster effectively commandeered the FASTPASS machines of its neighbour, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah. Not only does this throw off a little the themed environments Disney usually promotes, now the Cast Members at the actual entrance have to just replace their “there’s no FASTPASS, sorry” with “yes, FASTPASS is right over there”.

Workable or manageable

If the system is ever offered permanetly at the attraction, surely a more workable solution for the tickets would be needed? Unfortunately, the area around the attraction has been limited terribly by the original design. The entrance is often a bottleneck that could give even the area in front of Big Thunder Mountain a run for its money.

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The area is so cramped, that the regular queue line practically never fits within its original boundary, running away around the palm trees in front of Flying Carpets, or even extending across Toon Studio in the mornings. The queue line itself isn’t anywhere near big enough, with the look and appeal of a sandy cattlepen. Many would agree it could do with having a touch more in common with the colourful, interesting, palm-filled entrance of the attraction.

Perhaps, rather than making guests’ wait for the attraction more enjoyable by giving them a return FASTPASS ticket, the answer could be to make their wait more enjoyable in the actual queue line?

[Pictures: DLRP Today.com]

Note: Several pictures were taken on a day in August 2007 when it was announced in advance that the attraction would be closed for maintenance, used here since the lack of guests gives a better look at the true amount of space around the attraction.

Tuesday, 29th July 2008

FASTPASS tests Crush’s Coaster, for one week only

It’s the morning after Bastille Day, the date: 15th July 2008. As guests made their way into Walt Disney Studios Park, rushing off toward Crush’s Coaster as quickly as possible, they were met with a sudden, unexpected dilemma — queue up, as normal… or get a FASTPASS ticket.

Overnight, the overwhelmingly popular spinning roller coaster in Toon Studio became the proud owner of its very own FASTPASS system — courtesy of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah.

Had over a year of complaints and requests from guests, not to mention the short-lived tests earlier this year, finally caused operations to cave in and add the advance timeslot system to the low-capacity attraction? Not quite.

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From the outset, these tests had a specific start and end date — 15th to 21st July, one week only. For the set-up, new, flat signage was placed above the Flying Carpets Over Agrabah FASTPASS return times, reading “Crush’s Coaster Fastpass Tickets Distribution” in the colours and style of the attraction. To the left, the Flying Carpets Over Agrabah logo itself was covered over by an arrow pointing specifically to this attraction’s slightly displaced entrance.

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Original sign (15th July) / Altered sign (16th July onwards)

Join the queue, and you’d discover the machines looked exactly the same as always. Look upwards, and the changes begin. No longer were the times ticking very slowly by as they would with the old Flying Carpets tickets — now, you’d see the timeslots cycling through up to every 30 SECONDS, right before your eyes.

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The morning “crush” at Crush’s Coaster was effectively split in two for the week, with guests rushing out of Disney Studio 1 to join either the regular line or the FASTPASS distribution. Eventually, the two rather awkwardly met right in the middle of Toon Studio, and trailed back further, side-by-side!

We’ve got a videoclip of the two queues meeting, which we’ve set to some music from Finding Nemo itself for some added amusement… is there a FASTPASS for the FASTPASS distribution yet??

Finally get to the front, and you’ll become the proud owner of the closest thing to Disney gold-dust — a real, printed Crush’s Coaster fastpass ticket!

Unlike the tests earlier this year, this week-long trial attempted to test the system as fully as possible, so the tickets were authentic and customised to the attraction.

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And when you returned to the attraction at your set time, how was that experience?

The entrance, fresh from other recent changes, was roped off into two distinct lines — one headed by a Cast Member checking FASTPASS tickets and allowing guests through (though only every few minutes, not constantly), the other, as usual, stretching off to the right right around the palm tree ‘Oasis’ area.

The themed sign seen earlier this year, pointing out the two lines, had returned for the occasion.

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Pass the Cast Member, and you’d be walking down the first part of the line, divided in two, until you reach the turnstiles and beach hut. Here, your FASTPASS would be taken by a second Cast Member and you’d turn immediately left to join the queue at the entrance to Studio 5 — as the hoard of waiting guests in the regular queue area stared intently. Rather than being mixed naturally, their queue was completely halted as a new group of FASTPASS guests were allowed entry every few minutes.

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Photo: Chris500, Disney Central Plaza forum

From here, you’d have a wait of around 15-20 minutes before you’re on-board a turtle shell and speeding around the EAC.

Back outside, and would you be thinking of getting another ticket? You’d have had to think again — all tickets were completely gone on every day of the test before even 12:30pm, such the demand and limited number made available. With a poor hourly capacity of around 900 to 1,000 guests, 40% of this was reportedly made available as FASTPASS tickets — that’s just 30 tickets per each specific timeslot.

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Maybe you’d have wanted to queue up in the regular line to enjoy the attraction again? Would the wait really be as horrific as you’d expect when 40% of the capacity is eaten up by the FASTPASS system? Not quite — the queue time indicator appeared to stay relatively steady at 75 to 90 minutes throughout the week. With the ticketing system in place, you were basically waiting the same length of time with fewer people in the queue.

Several members on the French forum Disney Central Plaza have also reported that the operations team intended to test several changes to the system throughout the week, such as increasing or decreasing the amount of tickets given out or even staggering their distribution throughout the day — an initial load at 10am and another at 2pm, for example.

Now that the tests are over, the signage put back to normal and the extra queue line gone, however, there is no word about when or even if the system will return. Was this a test that ran its course and gave the operations and Imagineers the research they needed, or is it something that could be rolled out whenever park capacity reaches a peak?

As always… watch this space.

Or, if you’d like to be a little more involved, vote in our Question of the Week — simply asking “Should FASTPASS return permanently to Crush’s Coaster?”. If you can’t make your mind up, don’t worry — remain seated with your hands, arms, feet and legs inside the website, because we’ve got a full analysis of all the pros and cons of FASTPASS at Crush coming right up…

Update: You can now read the follow-up analysis to this article here.

[Pictures & Video: DLRP Today.com]

Monday, 16th June 2008

Ready to join the Empire State Club?

For a long time missing the higher-tier “clubs” of its friends, Disney’s Hotel New York is now ready to offer its guests a new option for their stay in the Big Apple — the Empire State Club.

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Taking its cue more from the Castle Club at Disneyland Hotel than the lesser set of privileges of Newport Bay Club’s Admiral’s Floor, the Empire State Club has now been officially confirmed following several months of online speculation and preparations at the hotel.

In the three upper floors of the hotel, 34 rooms and suites have been completely refurbished and renovated ready to welcome guests for a more exclusive, top-of-the-Tower experience. Whilst the rooms themselves will no doubt be a step up from the already-popular Hotel New York offering, the list of privileges has been the most heavily discussed factor in past weeks.

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Finally, we can present the full, official listing as communicated by Disneyland Resort Paris:

‘¢ Personalised welcome area exclusive for Empire State Club
‘¢ Continental Buffet Breakfast in a private lounge with Disney Character(s)
‘¢ Exclusive in-room services with dedicated staff
‘¢ VIP FASTPASS
‘¢ Relaxation area with free soft drinks
‘¢ Possibility to book interconnecting rooms (upon request and subject to availability)

Buffet breakfast with Disney Characters, a private check-in desk, a lounge with free drinks and special room service were all to be expected. The real deal-closer for many, though, was actually thought not to be included: VIP FASTPASS.

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Despite all fans and Cast Members stating the opposite up until now, this official listing does finally confirm that guests will be able to enjoy VIP FASTPASS tickets. These are the top FASTPASS tickets available, giving unlimited access to all FASTPASS attractions at both parks throughout the day. Previously exclusive to the Castle Club at Disneyland Hotel, their inclusion here gives the Empire State Club its real selling point for most fans and guests.

The Empire State Club rooms are, we hear, available to book right now. They will be promoted fully in the upcoming Autumn/Winter 2008/09 brochure, due at the end of this month, and will surely be a very popular addition to an already popular hotel.

[Photos: © Disney]

Wednesday, 7th November 2007

In the crush for Crush, Fastpass gets a “no”

Stop a regular guest in Walt Disney Studios Park, ask them how they would improve Crush’s Coaster, and you’d no doubt get a response similar to “add Fastpass to it”.

As the Imagineers and anyone who followed its construction through 2006 and 2007 will tell you, however, it’s not that simple. And Crush’s Coaster most definitely is not a Fastpass-capable attraction. It was a surprise, then, to see the following sign pop up outside the attraction just a few weeks ago…

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For two weeks at the end of October, the new attraction everyone generally-loves-but-hates-to-queue-for had the curse of public demand thrust upon its youthful, small, D-Ticket ambitions.

Each day, a small table was set up between the attraction’s main entrance and Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, finally revealing itself, come 10.30am, to be a temporary Fastpass distribution point. On presentation of park tickets, guests could pick up a timeslot ticket for the attraction and return later with their queue only starting at the entrance doors of Studio 5. Tickets went very fast, generally all gone by the middle of the day.

For the lucky few, it was a rare chance to enjoy the attraction with minimal wait (around 15 minutes). For everyone else, it meant almost equally lengthy queue times as before, despite there being less people in the queue. According to the cast members, it was, apparently, “bad”.

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For the E-Ticket omnimover of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast or the two platforms of Space Mountain: Mission 2, the system works like a dream. But then, consider Peter Pan’s Flight, with only between 4 and 6 people per flying pirate ship — due to small capacity tickets disappear in no time at all and queue times aren’t reduced whatsoever. Fastpass, unfortunately, doesn’t add capacity to an attraction, it just gives a nice half-and-half between people waiting in the queue and people “waiting” elsewhere.

If your attraction has a capacity as small as Pan or Crush (estimated at around 1,100 per hour, compared to 2,420 for Big Thunder Mountain or up to 3,000 for an omnimover like Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast), there’s so little room to breathe between the two that neither party gets a good deal.

But alas, the general public don’t understand this. And so, as demands for Fastpass continue to simmer upwards into management offices via questions to attraction CMs and those touch screen surveys at the park exit, they could snap at any moment. According to sources on Disney Central Plaza forum, the crews who oversee Fastpass were “on standby” to install real ticket machines following the results of these trials, and as yet no final decision has actually been made by the park.

It’s clear that something needs to be done to ease the crush of Crush on both impatient guests and hard-worked cast members. But consider this — if they were willing to invest in an expensive Fastpass ticketing system, why not instead invest in a longer outside queue line, one which guests won’t be disgusted to wait in?

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A lack of theming, unloved sand dunes, views through the fence into Backstage, and unflattering close-ups of the Flying Carpets backdrop are the biggest “crush” for a Disney fan here, not the queue time.

— Fastpass photo by Joel’s Photo Hunt, logo © Disney, queue photo a DLRP Today exclusive. ;-)

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