Friday, 13th November 2009

Euro Disney reports €63m loss, flat attendance

This was never going to be a fairytale ending. Coming out of the hugely successful two-year 15th Anniversary, being hit by the worst economic crisis, some say, in memory and having no new attractions after a recent period of heavy investment.

However, with attendance up by 100,000 guests and swift cost reductions put in place, Euro Disney SCA appears to have weathered the storm. The damage is this: a net loss of €63m, 3.6% sliced off hotel occupancy and overall revenues down by 7%.

Near-constant discounting by as much as 40% off package prices clearly has taken a toll, as expected, with Hotel and Disney Village revenues being sliced by 8% — that’s a huge €40.9m. Equally, the wake-up call of the economic crisis has clearly made guests reassess their spending, down 5% to €44.22. A €2 dip per person might not seem a lot, but for every person passing through the gates, it contributes heavily towards another €27.6m negative.

The main points of the results are therefore:

• Attendance of 15.4 million with an 87% hotel occupancy rate
• Revenues decreased 7% to € 1,231 million, driven by a decline in guest spending
• Net loss of € 63 million, as lower revenues were partially offset by a 2% reduction in costs and expenses
• Generated Free Cash Flow, ending the year with € 340 million in cash and cash equivalents
• Opening of Toy Story Playland at the Walt Disney Studios® Park in 2010

Yes, you read that right — Toy Story Playland, being officially announced by Euro Disney SCA! So now we can be wholly sure this isn’t the “most committed disinformation campaign ever”. But, as attraction announcements go, it’s a whispered admittance indeed, being detailed later only under the New Generation Festival heading of “update on recent and coming events”:

New Generation Festival

In April 2010, Disneyland® Paris will launch the New Generation Festival, a celebration welcoming the most recent Disney characters into the Parks. Remy from Ratatouille, Princess Tiana from the upcoming Disney animated feature The Princess and the Frog and many more characters arrive at Disneyland Paris. These new characters will be showcased in the Once Upon a Dream Parade, Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars and on the Disney all stars express.

During the celebration in summer 2010, the Walt Disney Studios® Park will welcome three new family attractions in Toy Story Playland, inspired by the animated Disney-Pixar feature Toy Story. With oversized decor, guests will have the impression that they’ve been reduced to the size of Andy’s toys as they come to life in Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin and RC Racer.

Any other Disney resort would have accompanied this release with concept art or splashy press releases filled with quotes from Imagineers about how this land will redefine the universe. Perhaps we should be glad Euro Disney SCA take such a solemn attitude to new attractions? At least CEO Philippe Gas is excited, and pleased about the group’s performance in the challenging times, as he commented:

“During the fiscal year, we were faced with the most challenging economic environment in our history, which drove certain fundamental changes in consumer behavior. These changes included booking significantly closer to their visits, searching for promotional offers and travelling closer to their homes. As a result, we adapted our offers to address our guests’ changing needs. This decision delivered record park attendance of 15.4 million and an 87% hotel occupancy rate, down from last year but high by industry standards.

We saw our guest mix change, as attendance was driven by French and Belgian markets, offsetting significant weakness from Spain and the United Kingdom. These changes also impacted guest spending and hotel occupancy, lowering our revenues. Throughout the year we also balanced our promise of a high-quality Disney entertainment experience for our guests while managing costs.

The strength of the Disney brand and the attractiveness of our Resort as Europe’s number one tourist destination position us well when the recovery of the economies of our key markets and the leisure and tourism industry occur. We continue to invest in the long-term growth of our Company and we look forward to opening Toy Story Playland, inspired by the popular Disney-Pixar Toy Story characters and films, at the Walt Disney Studios Park in summer 2010.”

The resort was certainly lucky, in fact, to have been hit by this recession just as it was coming out of its most successful years to date. Had this crisis happened any earlier, the result could have been disastrous. As it stands, it’s interesting to look at the figures from this year and those quoted in the report from 2007. It’s not a full-scale slip-up by any means. Damage has been done, but should things begin to improve over the next year it may only lead to a set-back of plans and profits by a few years.

Throwing the €25m of royalty payments to The Walt Disney Company and €15.1m of loan interest onto their debt pile, Euro Disney SCA still paid off their planned debt repayments for the year and plan to pay back a healthy €89.9m more of existing debt in the 2010 financial year.

A taste of what the situation could be if things truly don’t get better comes further into the report, where it is stated:

For fiscal year 2010, if compliance with financial performance covenants cannot be achieved, the Group will have to appropriately reduce operating costs, curtail a portion of planned capital expenditures and/or seek assistance from TWDC or other parties as permitted under the debt agreements.

So, let’s hope that’s not the case. Further reductions in operating costs could almost certainly push the resort to breaking point, losing guests due to poor quality service and experience. On that subject, it’s nice at least to see that this year’s cost reductions added up: Thanks to all those shortened attraction hours, cancelled quality entertainment and other drops in Disney quality, the group managed to cut spending by 2%.

Euro Disney also seem confident of their ability to survive any continued losses in future:

Although no assurance can be given, management believes the Group has adequate cash and liquidity for the foreseeable future based on existing cash positions, liquidity from the € 100.0 million line of credit available from TWDC, and use of the conditional deferrals.

Indeed, that free cash in the group’s pocket now amounts to a not-too-shabby €340.3 million. Whilst it’s certainly good to see the resort has that much of a “buffer” for itself, things could soon get shakey should the group start spending €100 million on a Convention Centre here, or tens of millions on an expensive new attraction there. Just look what happened with the failed opening of Walt Disney Studios Park.

Everything considered, we probably shouldn’t be too disappointed that the dull announcement of Toy Story Playland was the only thing keeping us fans happy (or not, as may be the case for some) in this release. With a date of 2015 set for those new resort developments to near completion, there’s still plenty of time and Euro Disney SCA will likely want to wait a little longer to sign those dotted lines.

Better safe than sorry.

• Read the full 2009 Annual Results here (PDF).
• Read the Walt Disney Company 2009 Annual Report here (PDF).

Sunday, 18th October 2009

Meet the New Generation of brochures

We actually saw the first of these images in September, featuring Sulley peeping out of a trapdoor as Buzz Lightyear, Princess Tiana and a host of other characters parachuted down in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. This new set of images, provided for travel companies to use as their Summer 2010 brochure covers, follow the same template.

The first is a real surprise. RC in the spotlight? A minimal character really only in the first Toy Story, who can’t even talk? Well, it’s a refreshing change from the usual Mickey, and he does have that still as-yet-unannounced attraction at Walt Disney Studios Park coming up next year. (Come on Euro Disney SCA, the game is up!)

Meet the New Generation of brochures

Next up, another star from Toy Story PlaylandSlinky Dog. Underneath him, Buzz peers out of a trapdoor in Main Street (you know, that trapdoor on Main Street), held up by Toy Soldiers, alongside four Little Green Men.

Meet the New Generation of brochures

In the background of this one, spot Emile from Ratatouille, Jessie with a suitably cow-themed parachute and, er, Nemo. In some of the images he’s been shown floating down in a kind of water bubble… not this time. You also have to wonder about the fate of racing car Lightning McQueen as he smashes to earth, but maybe we’re over-thinking the concept.

Sulley and Buzz Lightyer feature most heavily in the next option for those travel companies. This one we’ve already seen:

Meet the New Generation of brochures

Oh, well look at that! Lightning McQueen made it down safely!

Here we also spot a couple of new poses — yes, the folks at Pixar were nice enough to send over several different stock images of their characters — so we see Woody holding his cowboy hat as he parachutes and Buzz folding his arms. All in a day’s work for a toy who can fly!

Meet the New Generation of brochures

One nice feature of the parachutes concept, at least, is that most of them are becoming “themed” to their respective character. So we see Emile with a cheese-patterned parachute, Woody with one to match his shirt, etc. In case you still don’t “get it”, it seems like the “Big Idea!” on the giant boardroom paper pad for 2010 is to show these “new” characters “parachuting” into the parks to visualise their arrival and new-ness. Got it?

Plus, in these images, compared to the main New Generation Festival image (which will probably be the official Summer 2010 brochure cover) the characters floating down in the background have even actually been scaled and faded properly, so the image — however much still constructed like a series of stuck-on fridge magnets — does have a bit of depth.

Finishing up, we’ve got Rémy and Emile from Ratatouille.

Meet the New Generation of brochures

There you go. Expect to see those on a travel company brochure near you in just a few months. Now, if you were sitting in the offices of one of those companies, which would you choose? Strangely, the RC version looks the most appealing from here.

It’s worth repeating the slight moan from the article featuring the first of these images last month: what’s the need to mess with Sleeping Beauty Castle? Does sticking little Mickey silhouettes over its ornate stained-glass windows really achieve anything? If certain people had their way, would it not be a fantastical medieval palace but a monument to Mickey Mouse, with Mickey shapes on every spire and a hideous character decoration stuck on it’s fron… oh, wait.

And here’s one extra criticism not from DLRP Today. Member MagicStar on magicforum was keen-eyed enough to notice the odd situation to the left of the Castle, where one of the famous square trees has been… squashed! Clearly, that pesky castle wall the Imagineers designed was getting in the way of the character clip-art, so it had to be shrunk down… taking the tree with it! Even more oddly, there’s a spot of branch — or something — still there on the right, sticking up into the air. Good to see important images like these are checked thoroughly.

Even better — no, surely worse — something else has now cropped up on the left of these images, which isn’t there on the original one. Take a look just to the bottom-left of Tiana’s dress in the final image. Looks like the castle hill — almost — got the chop, but a dirty trail of Photoshop remnants was left behind.

Disneyland Paris marketing, we know your secrets.

Images © Disney.

Tuesday, 22nd September 2009

Official text confirms more New Generation details

In the last 2010 update, we learnt the final name for next year’s Disney Characters Party Train Express rehash — Disney All Stars Express. This time, we find out the final names of the reworked Central Plaza show and the four year-old Monsters Inc. corner, plus a few other exclusive snippets.

New Generation Festival

This “official text” will be what you’ll see in holiday brochures and other publications in a few months. Here we go with the first section:

Disney new generation festival

A new generation of Disney stars and stories are landing for one year only at Disneyland® Paris from April 2010.

Join the festival-fun at the all-new generation shows and parades – where new Princess Tiana jazzes up the Once Upon a Dream Parade, and gourmet chef Remy* drives you wild with excitement in Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars. Or choo-choo-choose which star to meet first on the Disney all stars express and at Monsters Inc. Scream Academy* –shriek n’ greet like no other!

And, starting from Summer, shrink to the size of a toy in Toy Story Playland* for the BIGGEST new family attractions: Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog(1) Zig Zag Spin and RC Racer(2).

Finally, gather in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle for a true Disney showstopper finale – an all-singing, all-dancing, all-together perfect end to the perfect day.

The Disney new generation festival might only last a year but your all-new memories will last a lifetime.

*Inspired by Disney•Pixar films Ratatouille, Monsters, Inc., Toy Story
(1) Slinky®Dog is a registered trademark of Poof-Slinky, Inc. All rights reserved.
(2) Hot Wheels® is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. Hot Wheels® Trademark and Track Used With Permission © 2009 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

So there we go, all the events officially confirmed. You can notice already the huge amount of legal baggage that has come with the real-life toy themes of Toy Story Playland, with the owner of each element having to be credited on every single piece of promotional material.

Note also that the new Central Plaza show is now definitely set to be a single finale to the day, rather than the current schedule of four shows throughout the afternoon.

New Generation Festival

The second page continues with more on those events being provided by the resort’s Entertainment department:

Shows & Parades

Welcome Princess Tiana to the Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade
Princess Tiana from Walt Disney Pictures’ “The Princess and the Frog” brings a little jazz, snazz and pizzazz in the Once Upon a Dream Parade. She is joining the Disney Princesses in their Dreams of Romance. Hop along with your little ones to twist and twirl to the romantic music from each of their worlds and give a warm welcome to this new Princess.

Ratatouille(1) starring in Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars
Drive your little ones wild with excitement as Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars presents the all-new Ratatouille roadster. It’s a party on wheels that goes into a spin when Remy pulls up alongside you! Get a taste of his cooking capers and the other crazy cars and characters. It’s the perfect recipe for a fun-filled motorcade.

Disney all star express
Get on track with the festivities on the Disney all stars express. This is your ticket to choo-choo-se which of your favourite Disney new generation Characters you want to meet n’ greet first. Will it be Buzz(3) ? A rendez-vous with Remy(3) ? Shootin’ the breeze with Woody(3) ? All aboard! It’s Minnie and her all stars express!

Disney showtime spectacular
It’s Showtime! It’s time to shine. It’s time to gather in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle on Central Plaza stage for an explosion of music from maestro Mickey. Together with an all-new A-list of guest stars it promises to be an all-singing, all-dancing all-new showstopper finale!

Monsters Inc.(2) Scream Academy
All screams are welcome at Disneyland® Paris. Thrill-filled shrieks, surprised yelps and screams of delight! At Monsters Inc. Scream Academy we welcome screams to break the decibel meter! Join in the tonsil-tingling fun as you shriek n’ greet Sulley and scream as loud as monster-possible – it’s ear-popping fun for all the family.

(1)Inspired by Disney•Pixar’s Ratatouille
(2)Inspired by Disney•Pixar’s Monsters, Inc.
(3)Inspired by Disney•Pixar’s movies Toy Story, Ratatouille

Confirmed here are the names of the new Central Plaza show — Disney showtime spectacular — and the Monsters Inc. corner in Toon Studio — Monsters Inc. Scream Academy.

But wait, didn’t the newly-named Monsters Inc. Scream Academy, with its light-up “scream monitor” canisters, already open way back in April 2006? Obviously the wording is clever here — there’s no statement that this is a “new” attraction (because it certainly isn’t), but the inclusion alongside other new events certainly gives that impression.

Will it offer anything more than the scream canisters and Sulley meet ‘n’ greet it’s been hosting for almost four years? Possibly a little something new, at least: A comment by “zanderstarz” on our first article about the festival states it has been confirmed internally that little girl Boo will also make appearances — a character never seen in Paris before.

And now, this could prove to be nothing, but did somebody forget to hold down the Shift key, or press Caps Lock? There’s a huge “FINAL VERSION” stamp across the top of this PDF, but right throughout the entire text the festival is referred to not as “New Generation Festival”, in that boring, grammatically-correct style, but as “Disney new generation festival“. The renamed character train is not “Disney All Stars Express” but “Disney all stars express“, and the bravely-titled Showtime Spectacular is, in fact, typed up as “Disney showtime spectacular“.

It’s not like whoever typed this “final version” doesn’t understand capital letters — they’re used perfectly on every other name. And add this to the mystery — the category for the 2010 events on the official trade website changed on Monday from “New Generation Festival” to the entirely lower case “new generation festival“, something which would surely have to be done manually.

We’re still waiting for confirmation if these lower-case names are for real. Who knows, maybe they’ll release a “txt spk” version in SMS shorthand, to truly capture the new generation!

New Generation Festival

And finally, the part of the celebration we care about the most:

Toy Story Playland

Opening Summer 2010 at Disneyland® Paris

Toy Story Playland has the BIGGEST new family attractions. They’re GIANT – when you’re shrunk to the size of a toy! Join the toys for playtime in Andy’s backyard where everyone can explore this oversized world with its three larger-than-life rides – Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin and RC Racer. Andy’s away and the toys are ready to play!

Toy Story Playland is inspired by Disney•Pixar film Toy Story

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop
Attention! Your mission – join Andy’s troops for a high flying adventure – Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop. When Sarge yells “Go! Go! Go!” , hold on tight as you fall from way up high in a simulated parachute drop. Over and out!!

Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin
Everyone’s tongues and tails are wagging about the all-new “zigzag-a-coaster” Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin. Family pups of all sizes will howl with laughter as they join Slinky in a rollicking spin to catch his own tail. It’s barking mad fun in Toy Story Playland.

Slinky®Dog is a registered trademark of Poof-Slinky, Inc. All rights reserved.

RC Racer
Andy’s speediest toy car is sure to get you and your family’s adrenaline pumping. RC Racer is the most thrilling new ride in Toy Story Playland. Race along a 25 metre-high half-pipe coaster, as RC zooms you around at full speed…it’s a real gas.

Hot Wheels® is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. Hot Wheels® Trademark and Track Used With Permission © 2009 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Along with plenty of spin about these being the “BIGGEST” new family attractions, we do actually get a long-awaited confirmation of just how big: The RC Racer halfpipe will be 25 metres tall! That’s less than half the size of Tower of Terror and just a touch taller than Disney Studio 1 or the Sorcerer’s Hat.

We also get a date — Summer 2010, which confirms again that all those “new” entertainment events are actually going to be much-needed for the first few months (events begin in April), when this celebration’s centrepiece will still be a building site.

Friday, 11th September 2009

New Generation Festival logo, key visual revealed!

Here we go, the official logo of the New Generation Festival…!

New Generation Festival

As you can see, the design takes on a modern and very “Toy Story”-inspired design, with big, ,3D yellow letters for “New”, a slimy green “Generation” and a “Festival” built out of… building blocks, just like the word “Playland” will be at the Toy Story Playland entrance.

Naturally, the logo comes in a couple of additional variations.

First, we’ve the new resort logo for 2010:

New Generation Festival

As with Mickey’s Magical Party, the name of the event is slotted in across the top. Unlike 2009’s logo, however, there’s no balloon or extra graphics on the end.

Note also that both here and above the classic ‘Disneyland Paris’ logo is back to its good old navy blue self. No shoehorned “Resort”, no having “Paris” in a separate colour, nothing. To long-time fans, it’ll feel like an old friend has returned.

The third and final logo is the largest:

New Generation Festival

Here we see the first, main logo above — but with a scattering of the characters who’ll “star” in next year’s events. Lightning McQueen, Princess Tiana, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mickey Mouse, Sully, Rémy, Nemo and Stitch. The idea is to contrast between the very classic characters of the current year (Donald, Goofy, Peter Pan), making 2010 seem as fresh as possible.

Phew. Are you all New Generation-ed out? Sorry, but there’s yet more…

Finally, here’s the key visual for the New Generation Festival. As promised in the earlier reveal, balloons are out. In 2010, it’s all about — erm… parachutes!

New Generation Festival

Buzz Lightyear leads the image as Lightning McQueen, Rémy, a Toy Solider, Slinky Dog, Princess Tiana, Nemo, Sully, RC, Woody and Stitch glide towards Sleeping Beauty Castle behind.

This “key visual” is the main piece of advertising imagery we’ll be seeing throughout the entire promotion of the event. You might remember those for Mickey’s Magical Party, and this here is our brand new one. Get used to it, we’ll be seeing it a lot.

Thoughts? Opinions? Ahh, we’ll leave that to you for now!

— — —

• If you missed our original exposé on the events of the New Generation Festival, including the new Toy Story Playland and new parade characters, click here!

Images © Disney.

Wednesday, 12th August 2009

Disney’s New Generation Festival: 2010 details leaked

The project has been in planning and kept top secret for months. But now, as the deadlines for advertising visuals and creatives for the next round of brochures nears, the entire list of new events has been leaked online.

Working title: Disney’s New Generation Festival, this next theme year will put the newest animated characters firmly in the spotlight. That means, though Toy Story Playland will certainly be the key new attraction of the year, we aren’t looking ahead a whole of solely Toy Story themes. No, instead we’ll be seeing Disney’s upcoming The Princess and the Frog plus a whole lot of Pixar — they are, after all, the closest to “Disney” the past decade has offered.

Avert your eyes now — the most spoiler-filled post of 2009 awaits! Here, are the events of 2010:

  • Toy Story Playland
    You know this one already: Three brand new attractions set within a highly-themed giant garden to extend Toon Studio at Walt Disney Studios Park. However, with groundwork barely begun, there’s no way this new Walt Disney Imagineering area can open before at least June next year — meaning a surrounding festival of events to begin in April 2010 is necessary…
  • Princess Tiana joins Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade
    The newest Disney Princess hasn’t even hit the big screen in The Princess and the Frog yet and already she’s being prepared to join the Disneyland Park parade. Not on a new float, unfortunately, but just stepping up onto the final Dreams of Romance: Finale float with Prince Naveen, giving this unit an overwhelming cast of five Princes and Princesses.
  • ‘Enhanced’ Monsters, Inc. meet ‘n’ greet
    A little patch of Monsters, Inc. has been in the Studios since 2006, but for some reason it’s now being included in next year’s new events. The leaked details here say it’ll be “enhanced”, but there isn’t any further information yet.
  • Ratatouille joins Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars
    The Studios’ new evening finale will definitely continue into 2010, with the advertised novelty being a brand new car themed to Ratatouille, featuring Rémy and Emile. We can reveal it’ll be the old Star Wars car to undergo this transformation.
  • Minnie’s Party Train becomes a New Generation Express
    Yes, the old Casey Jr. float will be given its fourth colour scheme and feature mostly — if not entirely — Pixar characters next year.
  • It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends reworked
    We confirmed this just yesterday — this year’s Central Plaza show will be pretty much staying, though is to be reworked to a single-performance finale to the day, and — just a guess — given some more modern characters to join Mickey.
  • NO Castle decorations whatsoever!
    That’s an event in itself, right?!

And finally… in 2007 we had the red carpet, in 2008 the wrapping paper and in 2009 the very successful balloons motif. Next year, it’s all-change again on the advertising ideas front — and the new theme? Taken straight from the most imposing attraction of Toy Story Playland, we’ll be seeing… parachutes! No, seriously.

The New Generation begins here… your thoughts?

Details broken by mclarkson, magicforum.

Thursday, 12th June 2008

Toon Studio expansion rumours take flight

Between an indoor Little Mermaid land, an outdoor Bug’s Land and an indoor — and very Goofy — soundstage, the rumours that filled the years from the opening of Walt Disney Studios Park to its first major expansion — Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye — seemed almost to have completely run out of the steam by the time the first piece of the park’s Phase 2 was completed.

Toon Studio instantly became the most popular area of the park, but no-one seemed to want to put their neck on the line with a suggestion for where it could go next. Until now…

Rumours have been spreading for several months about the addition of some kind of Ratatouille-themed experience in the land. Initially started by a throwaway comment from infamous MiceAge columnist Al Lutz, the suggestion seemed more of a guess (Ratatouille + Paris = Logical) than something based upon real Imagineering fact, supposing that Paris might be a more natural home for Rémy than California Adventure:

“Ratatouille has done very well in Europe however, and the merchandise and toys are selling better in France than they did in America. With that, the Ratatouille attraction concept may very well be slotted in to the Walt Disney Studios park in Paris.”

Fast forward a few weeks or months and the rumours appear again, this time from well within the boundaries of Disneyland Resort Paris itself…

Image

A French fan claims to have spotted Imagineers in Toon Studio holding plans and discussing certain things relating to Ratatouille. Concept art showing a real-life recreation of Gusteau’s restaurant — apparently intended to go behind the Studio Tram Tour station — was even spotted. An optimistic bit of make-believe or a real in-park assessment of plans for the future?

This week, the biggest step yet to the start of a Toon Studio expansion project arrived and the rumours really “took flight” — literally. Walt Disney Studios fans will remember well the heart-pounding sight of seeing those four coloured balloons floating in the sky in 2006, showing where the four corners of Crush’s Studio 5 building would later be built and its visual impact on the rest of the park and resort.

Image

That day has arrived again, as Grandmath, a consistently well-informed member of the Disneyland Resort Paris community, just reported today on magicforum:

“The balloon (yes, they used just one, but they moved it around at different locations) was pretty high, mm maybe as high as Crush’s Coaster main building. Seems pretty tall for a dark ride, but yet again, we don’t know what is planned there. Maybe the dark ride will be built on several levels, such as Phantom Manor or Pirates of the Caribbean.

“As for the space, in fact don’t consider that the grass area as the perimeter for the building. I saw an expansion map with this building on it, it was stuck to the Costuming building, and expanded on the current tram tour road. Therefore the Tram Tour station was relocated as well, to fit with this new building (and allowing for the extension of Hollywood Boulevard).

“I’m sure that this is some signs of larger things to come, not just a simple building on the grass area. Tram Tour is surely being involved too… but then again, we’ll see in a few months!”

Exciting, no? The recent dearth of rumours about the medium-term future of the resort has thankfully been lifted and suggestions are popping up from all angles… but where is the money coming from? And what are the real contenders?

Image

As you’ve no doubt read recently on DLRP Today, the resort’s finances continue to climb up, up and away. Well, not quite “away” — there’s still some work to go before the resort can claim a profit, but everything is looking good. The effect of the four major new attractions at Walt Disney Studios Park — and to a lesser extent the three earlier additions to Discoveryland — simply cannot be questioned.

The resort squeezed a huge amount of investment and change out of the €240million gift card agreed in January 2005. With that now all but complete, it seems they have every intention to do the same again. If real profit will ever be found at this resort, they have no option but to continue investing sensibly and keep the ball rolling. A similar round of investments spread over several years, leading up to the 20th Anniversary in 2012, currently seems the most likely option.

So, what could the future hold for Toon Studio?

The rumours pointing to a Ratatouille dark ride of some kind now seem too strong to ignore. Indeed, the film was unsurprisingly an instant and massive success in France and picked up great box office figures all over Europe. Just one glance at the queue to meet the characters Rémy and Emile in Toon Studio — which regularly outnumbers that for even Mickey Mouse next door — shows the popularity of this film with guests here.

Image

Another, mostly ignored, type of expansion could be something aimed at younger children. Way back at the end of 2003, then-CEO André Lacroix announced a “playground” for the Studios at the same time as The Legend of the Lion King. The new Videopolis show began the next year, but what of the playground? Currently, the park has only Flying Carpets and Cars aimed squarely at this audience, with mega-hit Crush’s Coaster taking itself out of the market — and upsetting some younger Nemo fans — with its 1.04m height restriction and reasonably intense thrill. This is definitely an area to watch.

Finally, what about an import? The Studios has an incredibly low number of “clone” attractions and its first expansion phase didn’t do much to change that, with both Crush and Cars Imagineered exclusively for the park. The most likely important would be Toy Story Midway Mania, the 4D carnival games dark ride which sees you ride past giant 3D screens armed with an interactive cannon to score points. Whilst the attraction, developed at the same time for both California and Florida, has opened well at both parks, it doesn’t seem like a strong contender for Paris.

A similar attraction, the upcoming Monsters, Inc. Ride & Seek dark ride for Tokyo Disneyland’s Tomorrowland also seems unlikely, with no rumours suggesting its consideration for Paris. Indeed, since Bob Iger took over The Walt Disney Company and executives such as John Lasseter from Pixar came over to Imagineering, the focus seems to be more on unique experiences for each park, with only attractions such as Midway Mania appearing in two locations when developed at the same time.

Image

The reports of balloon height tests from Grandmath throws some question to all the existing rumours for Phase 3, however — even the Ratatouille attraction. A building attached to the ImagiNations Costuming building, pushing out onto the Studio Tram Tour route, almost as tall as Crush’s Coaster?

Just like the spinning Maurer Sohne coaster (with whom Disney had never worked before), the attraction themed to an almost unreleased film (Cars began construction before the film was in cinemas) and the extra little Toon Town gate of the park’s second phase, expect a few surprises… and even more Walt Disney Studios Park exclusives.

[Photos: DLRP Today; Google Maps]

Subscribe to the Magic!

Ad: shopDisney Black Friday Deals Now Live!

Tags & Archives

Twitter Updates

Ad: Disneyland Paris 30th Anniversary Offers and Deals