However, if rumours are to be believed, Disney Dance Express could be a slightly different event to what we’ve become accustomed. Music is rumoured to be taken from Walt Disney World’s “Move It! Shake It!! Celebrate It!!! Street Party” — not we presume yet another remix of “Tous en train” — and those meet ‘n’ greet scrums could be a thing of the past as the train turns into more of a moving show stage, with a live host. So, it’s “goodbye” but definitely “à bientôt!” again.
In the meantime, the gap left in the timetable will be filled this week by a cavalcade of characters titled “Good Morning, Disney New Generation” at 11.15am, 12.15pm and 1.15pm.
If you’re no longer an avid viewer of 50-year-old BBC children’s television show Blue Peter, this one might have passed you by as well. But late last year, presenter Joel Defries took a trip over to Disneyland Paris to experience first-hand the new Toy Story Playland, its attractions and what went into making them. As well as riding RC Racer and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, he met with Tom Fitzgerland, Walt Disney Imagineering Executive Vice President and Senior Creative Executive, and senior show producer Chrissie Allen, who gave some insight into the two year process of designing and building the new land which officially opened on 17th August 2010.
Bestowed with a good few minutes of Imagineering know-how, Joel is then tasked with dreaming up his own blue sky idea and goes out to explore Walt Disney Studios Park for inspiration (!). Before long, he concludes: “There’s no water here! I want to do something with water!” Good thinking, Joel.
Here it is, the joint advertising campaign for both Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida we teased a couple of weeks ago. The spots, almost entirely consisting of user-generated videos, launched on TV networks in the UK on Sunday and will run for two weeks, until 27th February. Coming in 20 and 40-second editions, they show real children being told they’re off to Disneyland (or Disney World) as their parents watch — and film — on, hoping for a reaction that might just make the Disney cut.
The ads have already run in some high-profile slots, including two in a single break during last night’s primetime broadcast of The BRIT Awards on ITV1. Curiously, the “2 destinations, one single emotion” tagline has been dropped, with only the two resort logos and a new web address — www.disneyparks.co.uk — offered instead. For the UK market at least, the commercials could show the start of a new, more joined-up approach to marketing the two Disney resorts, which could particularly help Disneyland Paris as it is often publicly perceived as a much lesser destination.
Once this campaign ends, similar ads will start up again from 1st March all the way into April, focusing specifically on Disneyland Paris and the Disney Magical Moments Festival. Such a heavy advertising spend, also including TV on demand platforms, print advertisements and outdoor poster boards, could be an attempt to address the falling visitors from the UK continually reported in Euro Disney SCA’s financial results.
First Quarter revenues are up 8% in the results published this morning by Euro Disney SCA, the operating group of Disneyland Paris, but show a struggle to recover from the dent taken during the worst days of the economic crisis in 2008 and 2009. Though the 8% rise to €316.8 million in total Theme Park, Disney Village, Hotel and Resort revenues represents a boost in revenues of €24.8 million, it still fails to fully reverse the huge 10.5% drop the resort saw in First Quarter 2010, when revenues in the period fell from €326.4 million in financial year 2009 to €292 million in 2010. Whilst theme park attendance dropped 11% year-on-year in 2010, it has only grown back by a disappointing 1% in today’s results, which the resort claims stems from an increase in visitors from France and Belgium — offset by fewer visitors from the Netherlands and, yet again, the United Kingdom. This comes despite the opening of three expensive new attractions in Toy Story Playland just before the quarter.
Nevertheless, hotel occupancy rose a strong 5.6 percentage points, suggesting that the resort segment of the business has fared better in the harsh weather conditions seen over the three months from 1st October to 31st December 2010, which analysts expected to curb Disneyland Paris from making bigger gains. Philippe Gas, Chief Executive Officer of Euro Disney S.A.S. commented: “Following the improvement we saw at the end of last year, we are encouraged that our First Quarter guest visitation and spending continued to improve over the prior year. Total first quarter revenues were up 8% versus last year, which is particularly significant given the extensive travel disruptions experienced throughout Europe during the holiday season. We look forward to launching the Disney Magical Moments Festival this spring, where we will celebrate the role of Disney magic in creating lasting memories for families and friends at the Resort.”
After announcing a net profit of €2 million in 2008, its first since the opening of Walt Disney Studios Park in 2002, at the height of the boom and after a hugely successful 15th Anniversary campaign, Euro Disney SCA was almost immediately plunged back into debt. It still currently has around €1.8 billion in loans to pay dating back to the construction of the resort, when Disney wildly overestimated guest spending levels and the number of hotel rooms required in the first phase.
So you’ve just booked an amazing dream holiday to Disneyland Paris and what’s the first thing you don’t do? Tell your kids. Disney have cottoned on to this slightly sadistic parenting trend with a new website contest, Disneymotion, last month requesting parents send in video footage of the moment they finally tell their children they’re off to meet Mickey Mouse — or any fun “moments” they filmed whilst in the parks. It’ll all come together with (in the United Kingdom at least) a joint campaign for both Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World launching a week today, 13th February, with the taglines “When are you going to tell them?” and “2 Destinations, one single emotion”. This is a separate campaign to the dedicated, though similarly themed, Magical Moments Festival ads which will follow, and is one of the few times Disney has pushed these two resorts together in joint marketing.
For now, the brief teaser trailer above, intended only as a rough promo video, gives an idea of the theme Disneyland Paris hopes to play on to bring visitors to the resort this year. For 2011, the emotion of childhood is being heaped on heavily, with the main tagline “The magic begins the moment you tell them” aiming to strike a chord with parents. Ever since the 15th Anniversary they’ve sought to bring more families with young children to the resort, attempting to defy the idea that parents should “wait until their kids are a bit older” with offers such as Kids Under 7 Stay & Play Free and more attractions for younger children, whilst the annual stream of limited-time “theme years” tries to give another reason for us to visit now, rather than wait.
Our third “theme year” in a row doesn’t actually have any definable theme like the current New Generation, but Disney Magical Moments Festival beginning 6th April will bring to the parks a new trend of character “happenings”, as they’re awkwardly translated. According to Character Central Blog, even Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade won’t be free from a little Magical Moments “plussing”, with six new costumes including a swarm of bees behind the Winnie the Pooh unit and a new interactive show stop which will invite children to step up and don small costumes to dance with the characters (or for Toy Story, run around with stick horses resembling Bullseye) — a similar idea to that which greeted the launch of The Wonderful World of Disney Parade in 1998.
Replacing the rather good Disney Showtime Spectacular on Central Plaza Stage will be another creation of the random Disney show name generator, Mickey’s Magical Celebration, this year said to feature a more classic range of characters such as Merlin, the Fairy Godmother, the Three Good Fairies and Mickey in two different costumes (surely including that Sorcerer outfit, rarely seen in Paris), with just one performance daily each evening. Interestingly the Genie will apparently appear as a real “face” character, something only seen before at the Disney California Adventure stage musical. More conventional will be the fourth (yes, really) reworking of the park’s Casey Jr. parade train, to this year be known as Disney Dance Express and exclusively feature the VIP team of Mickey, Minnie and friends. Rather than stopping for meet ‘n’ greets, however, the train is this year said to be stopping for a live show in the middle of Main Street akin to Magic Kingdom’s “Move It! Shake It!! Celebrate It!!! Street Party” — with fewer exclamation marks but still a live human host, dancers and possibly imported music.
On the subject of those “happenings”, Character Central has no word on the Peter Pan event but does report that a Jungle Book event will feature the park’s long-running African Tam Tams group alongside King Louie and Baloo. This is apparently in addition to new static figurines of these characters, similar to those of WALL-E and EVE which arrived in Discoveryland late last year. A new, live meet ‘n’ greet for Aladdin is also said to arrive near the back of Adventureland Bazaar, while Rapunzel and Flynn from Disney’s Tangled could be given a more permanent home near The Old Mill.
Could one of the main attractions advertised for this year’s Magical Moments Festival not actually see its doors open until the 20th Anniversary? Reports originating on Disney Central Plaza forum suggest that Disney Princesses: A Royal Invitation is now due to open in 2012, rather than April of this year. The “attraction” replaces the former World Chorus post-show of “it’s a small world”, which closed last August to prepare for this invasion of tiaras and dresses. A small walk-through area, originally part of France Télécom’s sponsorship, it featured national landmarks with small animations playing in their windows, depicting children around the world uniting through technology.
While it will be sad to lose that delightful Paris exclusive, the new attraction doesn’t sound all bad. As Kristof on magicforum shared, it’s designed by Walt Disney Imagineering — rather than the park’s own Entertainment department — “and the area will be open even when there are no Princesses inside, since there will be interactive elements all over the place.” In fact, the concept seems to share much similarity with an attraction announced just today for Walt Disney World’s New Fantasyland project.
To quote the press release, “In Princess Fairytale Hall, Aurora, Cinderella and other Disney princesses, such as Tiana and Rapunzel, will greet guests in their new home, an elegant royal court.” This new addition in Florida will have a much bigger footprint, as it takes over the current Snow White’s Scary Adventures dark ride, and arrives in place of the several separate princess encounters originally announced, but is due to open in late 2012. A connection, or just coincidence?
This year’s Disney Magical Moments Festival has already manifested itself along the moving walkway to the parks, replacing advertising for the New Generation Festival and Toy Story Playland with an incoming style of thick typefaces, bold colours and glittery backgrounds. From the first general banner above, announcing the French title of Le Festival des Moments Magiques Disney with a big “2011” and the Sorcerer Mickey icon for the year, guests roll upwards along the walkway past six more “moments”.
Featured for the celebration, beginning 6th April 2011, are Lighting McQueen, for his new cameo in Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular, the new Alice in Wonderland event, the Jungle Book and Lion King meet ‘n’ greet events, the Peter Pan happening, Mickey Mouse, presumably for the new Central Plaza show, and the Disney Princesses for their advertised new meet ‘n’ greet experience in the former post-show “World Chorus” of “it’s a small world”. You can see the full collection here.
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