“12th April will be a very special day,” Disneyland Paris has confirmed in a tweet from its president Catherine Powell, with a new concept art showing Disney characters and a marching band emerging from Sleeping Beauty Castle. Read More…
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?
Couldn’t quite make it for the 12th April 2012 celebrations? You weren’t the only one. Slightly delayed from the shelves of Disneyland Paris boutiques was the new 192-page book all about the history of the resort. We reported its impending arrival late last month amongst the flurry of 20th Anniversary news, and it looks to be an impressive tome indeed. Available as a single 192-page book with both French and English text, it features over 500 images from the history of the resort, charting 20 years of progress and expansion from 1992 to today. And, though the publisher couldn’t quite meet the historic date itself, the book does now have a release date: tomorrow, 23rd April 2012!
The official blurb reads:
“Twenty years ago, Disneyland® Paris opened and Walt Disney’s dreams came to life in the place where the stories that inspired him were born. Since then, Imagineers, artists and Cast Members have worked together every day to share those dreams with more than 250 million guests. Relive, year by year, highlights from two decades of dreams and innovations at Disneyland Paris, through rare and never-seen-before artwork, photographs and interviews. From Walt Disney Imagineering to the expansion of Val d’Europe, peek into the life of a company that serves the area and those around. 20 Years of Dreams is both a must-have souvenir of Disneyland Paris and a family album covering the first twenty years of Europe’s number one tourist destination.”
Titled “Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams” (or “20 Ans de Rêves”) and priced at €49.99, it will be on sale exclusively at the following boutiques: The Emporium, The Storybook Store, Harrington’s, Walt Disney Studios Store, The Disney Animation Gallery, La Boutique du Château, The Disney Gallery, Disney Store, Galerie Mickey. You can see a glimpse inside here.
If you’re not planning to visit or revisit the resort again soon you can also get your hands on one of the 5,000 copies from the first print run via the official mail order service. Call +33 164744486 or +33 164744848 or email email@example.com. Note that Annual Passport and other discounts are not available on books.
Videopolis Theatre in Discoveryland saw a packed house at 10.45am on 12th April 2012, as the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors welcomed legendary Imagineer Tony Baxter to the stage for a one hour discussion of its history, creation and progress “from concept to reality”. From broader points about the challenges his team faced in bringing a Disney park to Europe, he went on to discuss his favourite hidden details in the park, anecdotes of meeting Walt Disney, and even shares his very own version of the contested Phantom Manor storyline…
Couldn’t make it there yourself? We’re proud to present our own, exclusive video of the entire event for you now, above — including the special appearance of all the worldwide Disney Ambassadors from every resort to pose questions to Tony himself.
New Disney theme park book alert. From California to Florida, Paris and beyond, the alert siren rings out. That most anticipated and coveted line of souvenirs from the parks is about to have a new tome to add to its shelves. And for once, this one’s all about Disneyland Paris. Totalling 192 pages and 500 photos, “Disneyland Paris: 20 Years of Dreams” (or “20 Ans de Rêves”) has been written and produced especially for the 20th Anniversary. It will guide readers from the planning and grand opening of the resort in 1992 through 20 years of development, changes and events at the resort.
Available as a single edition, the book will include both French and English texts, with forewards by Tom Staggs and Philippe Gas, and afterword by Tom Fitzgerald. Priced at €49.99, the book will be exclusively available only at the resort itself, in eight separate, as-yet unconfirmed boutiques. A first print run of 5,000 copies will go on sale in mid-late April. We’ve been informed that, although Disney are pushing hard to have it available by 12th April 2012, there could be a small delay.
The 192-page size is certainly substantial enough: the same as the wonderful Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real.
Though Disneyland Paris has produced numerous glossy souvenir photo books detailing current attractions, it has never published its own, complete history of the resort. Only the revered Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality, published by Nouveau Millénaire Editions, has provided a true insight into the design and creation of the original park. Considered as “the bible” for Disneyland Paris fans, it is now only available as an expensive, limited collectors’ edition.
If you already own From Sketch to Reality, this new book aims to be perfectly complementary to its contents, full of new content and in no way a reptition. Not only will it feature the full 20 years of Disneyland Paris history, including photos and concept art from Walt Disney Studios Park, but also a closer focus on the progression of the resort from opening day to today. While From Sketch tells you how the parks were designed, 20 Years of Dreams will very much be the “what happened next…”
As soon as the book hits the shelves, we’ll race you to The Storybook Store…
Disneyland Paris is about to launch a brand new official website. No, not a new version of the main Disneyland Paris.com, but a special new interactive platform titled Disneyland Paris Generations. Due to open in the coming days for the 20th Anniversary, it will allow fans and visitors of the resort to create their own archive of memorable moments recounting 20 years of the European Disney resort.
The idea is that anyone — guests, fans, even Cast Members — will be able to submit their own memories of Disneyland Paris, illustrated with personal photos and videos. These will be uploaded and collated by Disney, which will publish them subject to moderation. We will apparently then be able to browse these moments from history by date or via an interactive map. Though the site will be available in either English or French, the contributions themselves will not be individually translated.
The website will be operational for around a year, but its contents will be preserved beyond this date, as a — hopefully — vast online archive of memories from the resort.
At the same time, Disneyland Paris is working hard to update its official Facebook Page with the new, very well-timed “Timeline” format, adding dates in the resort’s history such as this look back at the 5th Anniversary (Facebook login required), illustrated with a rarely-seen photo. The entire page should switch to the Timeline format in a couple of days.
• Don’t forget, we have our own Disneyland Paris history website at Euro Souvenirland, packed with photos, dates and memorabilia. Meanwhile, you can share your favourite memories and birthday greetings on our new 20th Anniversary Wishes Wall.
Planning to celebrate the exact date of Disneyland Paris’ 20th Anniversary, on 12th April 2012? You’re not the only one. We’ve now had it confirmed that Tony Baxter will be present at the park, in person, on the heralded date. Senior Vice President of Creative Development at Walt Disney Imagineering and the original lead creative force behind Disneyland Paris, the legendary Imagineer will answer questions and talk about the history of the park during a special “Imagineering Masterclass” at Videopolis Theatre from 10.45am to 11.45am. Places are open to all but strictly limited to the size of the venue.
Given his legendary status amongst Disneyland Paris fans, having led the overall design of the park and its five key show producers — Eddie Sotto (Main Street, U.S.A.), Jeff Burke (Frontierland), Chris Tietz (Adventureland), Tom Morris (Fantasyland) and Tim Delaney (Discoveryland), it looks set to be an unmissable hour. After the presentation, which will include a Q&A for fans to put their own questions to Tony, video screens inside Videopolis will continue to play archive footage from the resort’s history throughout the day.
Also scheduled for the grand date is a special morning event held by Philippe Gas. The company CEO himself will welcome guests to the park with a personal ceremony on Town Square at 9.30am, to be followed by a much-rumoured — and now officially announced — Cast Member “flashmob”.
The exact details of this moment of music and dance remain a secret, but Cast Members have voluntarily signed up to give their time for the occasion. Park gates will open at 9.00am to allow guests into Town Square, in advance of the ceremony, with the park itself officially opening at 10am. Extra Magic Hours on this date will be held instead at Walt Disney Studios Park — but you’re not going to trade a one-off date in history for a shorter queue at Crush’s Coaster, are you?
Character fans should look out for special one-off happenings and surprises all around the park throughout the day, including appearances from some of the more rarely seen Disney characters. All of these events and times will be listed in a special edition of the park Programme.
For collectors, besides special editions of the free Park Guide leaflets which will only be available on April 12th, there will even be dated merchandise. On sale in strictly limited quantities, a “golden key” pin and both a male and female T-shirt design, pictured above, all with the 12th April 2012 date.
Those who took a gamble and booked trips to coincide with the date, having no guarantee that it would even be commemorated, have certainly been duly rewarded. And for those who hesitated, this surprising programme of events may well be more than enough to encourage a last-minute trip. But given the very late nature of this announcement, it could now be difficult — and perhaps expensive — for those who can’t easily jump on the next RER train to experience the date for themselves at just three weeks’ notice, especially as it falls within the busy Easter holiday period.
Do you plan to be there to mark the date, and experience these events for yourself?
Happy birthday, Walt Disney Studios Park! The second park at Disneyland Paris has celebrated its 10th anniversary today in a characteristically somewhat muted day of special events. That wasn’t going to stop the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors giving it their all, though. Following their stint as Frontiersmen for the rededication of the Molly Brown and gentlemen of the royal court for the inauguration of the Princess Pavilion, Osvaldo del Mistero and Régis Alart raided the costuming workshop once again with an eye on Hollywood glitz.
The result looks superb for such an intimate event: dancers, singers, boom mics and rolling cameras — not to mention Osvaldo, Régis and Mickey Mouse all looking like they’ve just stepped out of the Oscar-winning best picture The Artist. A special clapperboard has been decorated with “Walt Disney Studios 10 ans” — the “10” made out out of a celluloid film reel. It’s a welcome throwback to the kind of Hollywood-that-never-was glamour which the still sorely-missed CinéFolies streetsmosphere shows in this same Disney Studio 1 used to provide.
Inside, the park’s Cast Members are wearing special badges to mark the occasion. From a paltry 10 attractions at opening on 16th March 2002, the park has grown to count 17 attractions within its studio lots, six of which are entirely unique to the park. After a lacklustre opening which forced the resort into a second financial restructuring, the first seeds of change were only sown in 2007 with the Toon Studio Placemaking project and two new attractions, Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye.
Though additions such as Stitch Live! and Playhouse Disney Live on Stage! have sought to revitalise initially unpopular areas, the park has failed to see the implementation of any kind of wider improvement programme. Piecemeal, self-contained developments such as the colourful Toy Story Playland have continued to create pockets of Disney quality while other areas remain unappealing and lacking. The cold, windswept asphalt of Backlot has seen barely a single change since 2002, besides the half-hearted redecoration of Disney Blockbuster Café.
Nevertheless with its very first dark ride finally on the way in 2014, in the form of the world-exclusive and by all accounts state-of-the-art Ratatouille Kitchen Calamity! (rumoured working title), the whispers of further change continue to echo around these fictional soundstages. By the end of this decade, as it’s twentieth birthday nears, the second park might just be nearing a more complete park…
In the meantime, the park’s Cast Members gathered for a souvenir photo.
Dix ans — c’est dans la boîte!
This officially stands as unconfirmed information, but several sources, including one speaking directly to DLRP Today, have reported this evening that Captain EO will close once and for all at Disneyland Paris on 2nd April 2012. The final day of operation for the reborn Discoveryland 3-D cinema attraction will reportedly be Sunday, 1st April 2012 — ironically also the first day of the 20th Anniversary celebrations. News of the closure was apparently revealed to Cast Members at the attraction today, with no announcement of an imminent replacement.
Captain EO, a 1986 3-D film with special effects starring Michael Jackson, re-opened in its original locations at Epcot, Disneyland, Disneyland Park in Paris and Tokyo Disneyland throughout 2010 as a “tribute” to the musical star himself. It also provided a welcome stop-gap to replace the ageing Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, but its reopening was greeted more enthusiastically in some parts of the globe than others. Returning to Disneyland Paris on 12th June 2010, it enjoyed a welcome reception from a minority of fans but perhaps failed to ignite the interest of regular guests here as strongly as the American parks, where it had become much more a thing of pop culture legend.
A somewhat out-of-the-way location and a similarly dated neighbour in the original Star Tours, which remains in operation at Disneyland Paris, can’t have helped its success.
We noted last September that the attraction, already operating limited daily opening hours, was even beginning to remain closed completely on some quieter off-season days, as attendance clearly failed to meet requirements. Another potential factor in a closure could be the problems faced by its sponsor, Kodak, with Eastman Kodak Company having filed for bankruptcy in January, though the company remains an official partner and is ever-present at various other locations.
If the attraction’s Cast Members were hoping for a boost in attendance, they’ll now surely get it on the weekend of 1st April, when fans and Annual Passholders will descend on the resort for the premiere of Disney Dreams! and a grand, final farewell to Captain EO…
Phew, someone did remember! Next Friday, 16th March 2012 looked to be quite the awkward affair for Walt Disney Studios Park, as it glumly sat in anticipation of its impending 10th birthday, watching the ever more feverish activity centred solely on neighbouring Disneyland Park‘s 20th. But count on Régis Alart and Osvaldo del Mistero, the current Disneyland Paris Ambassadors, to have a surprise ceremony in store. And so it’s confirmed: at 9.45am next Friday 16th March, the ambassadors will host a special ceremony at the park entrance to honour the 10th anniversary of the second gate, with the promise of “belles surprises” for the big day.
While the anniversaries of second, third or even fourth gates are rarely held as major occasions, it is usually customary at other resorts to at least release some special merchandise to mark the year. Since deciding to open its second park almost exactly 10 years after the first, Disneyland Paris has forever relegated the milestones of Walt Disney Studios Park to a supporting role.
Meanwhile, if you won’t be stepping through the studio gates on this special anniversary date, perhaps you could celebrate at home by perusing our partner site WDSfans.com, particularly its fascinating Image Archives with over 60 pieces of rare and unseen concept art from the park.