Saturday, 14th June 2014

Crush’s Coaster introduces new entrance, improved queue and Single Rider line

Crush's Coaster © InsideDLParis

Streuth, it only took seven years after the attraction opened, this month back in 2007, but Crush’s Coaster has finally seen some major queue and entrance improvements to alleviate its problematic over-popularity. As reported previously, the main improvement is the introduction of a permanent Single Rider line, but there’s a more fitting new entrance building, too.

The whole entrance marquee has now been set back slightly, allowing more room for guest circulation in front. Designed as a wooden harbour-side shack like that you might see for a boat tour, with terracotta roof, peeling paintwork and rusted nails, the new kiosk and its improved queue lines came into use just this morning, captured by InsideDLParis.

Crush's Coaster © InsideDLParisCrush's Coaster © InsideDLParis

Thankfully, InsideDLParis also reminds us that most of this isn’t the final signage. Concept art leaked by DisneylandBerry, below, shows how the final marquee logo, electronic wait time indicators and other signs (hopefully window shutters too) will soon give this development more of the expected Disney quality.

It has no doubt been unveiled early due to the upcoming previews of Ratatouille: The Adventure beginning this week.

Crush's Coaster new entrance concept art

The original Crush’s Coaster signage, Crush figurine and spinning turtle shell all remain.

Perhaps it was planned, but it was always an oddity that the attraction had such a nondescript entrance, especially opposite the elaborate Radiator Springs façades of Cars Quatre Roues Rallye. At busy times, the narrow path was frequently blocked by guests bunching in front.

For the queue line itself, the “improvements” are modest, that is to say: disappointing.

A first phase was completed when the attraction re-opened from refurbishment in April, when the iconic blue rockwork was also repainted for the first time, basically squeezing more turnbacks and barriers into the existing space at the side of Studio 5.

Crush's Coaster © InsideDLParis

The second phase, opened today, makes permanent the barriers next to Flying Carpets Over Agrabah with steel railings and a wooden fence around the perimeter. It’s certainly far less than ideal and does nothing to address how unattractive and, ultimately, boring the queue experience is; perhaps the worst in Toon Studio.

A saviour, then, could be the new Single Rider line. Leading from the left-hand kiosk entrance, this deposits you nicely on the left-hand side of the loading platform.

It remains to be seen what impact this will have on actual loading times, as Cast Members now have to both load groups and fill gaps with the turtle shells still moving. But it could suddenly put a ride through the East Australian Current back on the agenda for many fans, visitors and “dudes”, who have long not seen it worth enduring the crushing queues.

With Finding Nemo to be followed by Finding Dory in 2016, perhaps the next task should be to finally find a cameo for a missing Pacific regal blue tang…

PHOTOS BY @InsideDLParis, CONCEPT VIA DisneylandBerry

Friday, 6th June 2014

‘New Century Notions – Flora’s Unique Boutique’ to replace Town Square Photography

New Century Notions - Flora's Unique Boutique Disneyland Paris

Have you heard the gossip on Main Street, U.S.A.? There’s a new shopkeeper in town: the classic Town Square Photography is due to be replaced soon by New Century Notions – Flora’s Unique Boutique, a store with a very Parisian, Victorian flair.

Disneyland Paris shared the very first photos (above and below, bottom) from inside the repurposed merchandise location on the corner of Town Square yesterday, revealing crisp new stained glass and a much brighter, more feminine interior.

After some months of rumour, Town Square Photography officially closed back on 18th January 2014. The store was regarded by many as the richest and most intricately designed on the whole street, overflowing with sumptuous and unusual period design touches and filled with a genuine character of its own.

Lending much of its brilliance to Imagineer Eddie Sotto, show producer of the land, the shop’s favourite feature was often the photographer’s back office, which Sotto put together himself, spending a night sitting at the desk arranging the papers and artefacts as if he were the shopkeeper.

Town Square Photography Disneyland Paris
Town Square Photography Disneyland ParisTown Square Photography Disneyland Paris

• See more Town Square Photography photos at Photos Magiques

Alas, after one hundred years, the purpose of this store finally fell into complete irrelevance.

Where once the rich wooden shelves behind the counters would be filled with Kodak films, flying off the shelves every time guests took more than 36 photos each (the thought!), the displays had more recently become home to an assortment of souvenirs and accessories as disorganised as the photographer’s desk. Paris souvenirs here, photo albums there, and everything else between — no distinction and ultimately, no character.

Kodak’s financial problems were the final nail, as the store lost its sponsor.

Named after Walt Disney’s mother, Flora Call Disney, the new store was originally rumoured as simply “Flora’s Boutique”, disappointingly similar to the lazily-named Lily’s Boutique across the street. Without doubt, New Century Notions is much more original and fun.

New Century Notions - Flora's Unique Boutique Disneyland Paris

Expected to now specialise in the resort’s range of Paris-branded souvenirs, it’s surely no coincidence that teams are working on this boutique at the same time as the truly Parisian Chez Marianne Souvenirs de Paris over in La Place de Rémy, announced to open in the autumn. A short blurb from the Backstage Cast Member magazine was shared by Nathan on Disney Central Plaza forum: (translated)

Flora was born in the United States to French parents who dreamed of giving their daughter the chance to live the American dream. In opening her own boutique, this refined woman has realised the dream of her parents. Fascinated by the Victorian aesthetic, she decorates the interior with mouldings and woodwork, and turns down floral themes. This is the story created by the teams of WDI Creative for the new boutique on Main Street, U.S.A. And to make the illusion perfect, they worked on all the details. The stained glass windows, designed by Stéphanie Bohnhoff then realised on American glass by a stained glass artisan, reveal talents outside the ordinary.

On first glance, the store appears to be seeing the same fate The Emporium did some years back, when the rich, “masculine”, dark woods were painted in bright creams to lighten the environment. Could Main Street’s original plan of alternating “masculine/feminine” locations along each side of the street, to keep guests’ interest engaged, be in further doubt? Or will Flora surprise us with a “New Century” spin on such gender-based themes?

According to Disneyland Paris, eleven different trades are currently working on the store.

No opening date for the new boutique has been announced besides “this summer” and no work to the exterior has been spotted besides the removal of previous signage. When it opens, let’s hope Flora’s Unique Boutique has at least a notion of what made Town Square Photography brilliant.

VIA @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter), Photos Magiques

Wednesday, 4th June 2014

Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic updated at last… with four new trams

Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic new trucks

It would be fair to say the last thing which needed changing to improve Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic from a guest’s point of view was the trams themselves. But here we are, with Disneyland Paris sharing photos of the new driving trucks which recently replaced the former twelve year old-plus vehicles.

Boasting more spacious cab areas, more fuel capacity and new sensors making them easier to manoeuvre, the four new trucks are now pulling the same original six-carriage trams through the attraction’s (almost literally) “backstage” route.

Along the way, guests can still discover action-packed sets including Catastrophe Canyon, Reign of Fire and, er, that’s about it. The (not particularly missed) Costuming workshop loop was removed during the construction of Toy Story Playland and is now occupied by La Place de Rémy, while the tour has had no genuine additions whatsoever since opening in 2002, despite several park masterplans in that time calling for improvement and expansion.

Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic new trucks

The Studio Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida is similarly disappointing.

In fact, it might have been sensible to assume Disney would retire the attraction, ending the pretence that Walt Disney Studios Park is in any way a real working studio. The purchase of four new trucks would now seem to disprove that, at least for the foreseeable future.

Starting with the utterly pointless Dinotopia set and ending with Jeremy Irons’ ageing video commentary, come back next week for an article titled “100 Things Any Fan Would Change About Studio Tram Tour Before Replacing the Trucks”…

Watch a complete on-ride video of Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic here

VIA @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter)

Tuesday, 25th February 2014

Through the porthole: Disney’s Newport Bay Club renewal continues course

Disney's Newport Bay Club concept art

Disney’s Newport Bay Club continues to plot its course toward a full renovation of its more than 1,000 rooms and three wings. Disneyland Paris spent a day noting the improvements on its Twitter feed this Monday, starting with the publication of the new room concept art above.

Indeed after some of our recent comments on Twitter, this article could well be titled “Disneyland Paris publishes concept art shocker”, but no — there are exciting, big changes going on at Newport Bay Club, the largest of the Disney Hotels, and which in truth always felt just that bit too big and a bit wishy-washy with its style. As well as updated décor, furniture and facilities, this complete renovation should bring more Disney warmth and character to its hallways.

In the rooms, the fresh but faded original colour scheme of stark whites is being completely renewed with rich blues, nautical bronze and warm walnut wood. It’s like a touch of Disney Cruise Line elegance at Disneyland Paris.

Disney's Newport Bay Club new rooms

Fans got a first look at one of the trial rooms, pictured, in September last year. The 524 rooms of the East Wing officially closed on 1st November 2013 until further notice, with the works planned in three phases, including the Central and West wings, to minimise disruption.

It’s not just Mickey ears on the bedposts. Just like the recent renovations of Disney’s Sequoia Lodge and Disney’s Santa Fe, a new character-filled border lines the room; here with fun classic Disney characters in watery porthole scenes.

Disney's Newport Bay Club new rooms
Disney's Newport Bay Club new roomsDisney's Newport Bay Club new rooms

Most furniture has been completely replaced, with a less monolithic television cabinet and drawers, and a vastly improved, far more useful corner dressing table and plush chairs. Carpet is richer and more ornate, as is the crisper new curtain pattern.

Neat, custom-designed throw cushions are modern, as are the clean white sheets and matching runner (not quite ready at the time of the room preview above).

Bedside lights are warmer and still nautical, yet in a rather more natural way.

Compare the new rooms with the (current) old design, below.

Disney's Newport Bay Club old rooms
Disney's Newport Bay Club old rooms

That’s an incredible improvement all-round; adding only faint Disney character touches, removing tired examples of 1990s taste and implementing a far more timeless aesthetic.

It’s not just the rooms seeing refurbishment works, either. Photos Magiques reported that the New England theme hotel will see work to its exterior wood panelling and lighting, while the lobby and reception desks will see changes to improve guest flow.

Disneyland Paris also shared the picture below, showing works to the hotel’s popular pool area where scaffolding took one month to install. As well as “filtration systems and maintenance being changed and adapted to new standards”, the pool area will see some “acoustic comfort” improvements, we’re guessing to reduce echoes from its ceiling.

Disney's Newport Bay Club pool refurbishment

After the works, it will also be possible to access the outdoor pool directly from the inside, something which apparently hasn’t been possible for years due to safety reasons.

Note that along with the pool and health club closure pencilled in until roughly October, the Yacht Club Restaurant is closed until 31st July 2014 and Cape Cod restaurant will be closed 3rd March to 31st July, during which time breakfast will be provided in the hotel’s adjoining convention centre.

Disney's Newport Bay Club

What with free wi-fi already on-board, the horizon looks bright for Disney’s Newport Bay Club and what must be the most impressive and well-judged of the resort’s hotel makeovers to date, with modest character additions and much-needed improvements.

Up next in the coming years will be Disney’s Hotel New York, the “art deco” hotel which desperately needs some fresh sparkle to bring it out of the ’90s and up to modern grade for its price bracket. Can’t they work just that little bit faster…?

• On Photos Magiques: More photos of the new roomsLook back at the current rooms

PHOTOS @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter), Photos Magiques

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?)

Monday, 17th February 2014

PanoraMagique to get new entrance booth inside Disney Village boundary

PanoraMagique new entrance gangway

Operators of the PanoraMagique balloon in Disney Village have announced the attraction will get a new entrance leading directly from the main avenue of the entertainment district, publishing the image above to give an idea of their plans.

Since opening in April 2005, the Aerophile ride has had an entrance gangway and ticket booth to the left of the above photo, leading towards Disney’s Hotel New York.

Changes to security barriers around the resort in 2012 no doubt caused the operators some headaches, as Disney Village became part of the main “Parks” area. This now allows visitors to move freely between the Parks and Village without any barriers, but the use of the old “road train” waiting canopy next to Café Mickey meant the boundary to the hotels was drawn right before the balloon’s entrance, leaving it out on a periphery.

PanoraMagique original entrance
PanoraMagique original entrance

Under the new plans, the entrance will be directly ahead of guests, opposite Earl of Sandwich as they walk up through Disney Village, affording it much greater visibly and prominence, and giving the ballon more of that classic Disney “weenie” effect.

To allow the works to take place, PanoraMagique will be closed from 10th to 31st March 2014.

VIA @PanoraMagique (Twitter)

Saturday, 15th February 2014

Disneyland Paris condensed: fun facts and figures of the 2013 Annual Review

Euro Disney S.C.A. 2013 Annual Review

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…

  • Disneyland Paris has now been visited more than 275 million times
  • Between 2009 and 2013, around €510 million has been invested in the maintenance and development of the destination
  • There are over 14,000 Cast Members working over 500 different professions; 6,454 employees were hired in 2013
  • Inclusivity: Over 581 workers are disabled, an increase of over 50% since 2007, whilst 53 “seniors” aged over 50 were hired in 2013
  • Climbing the ladder: 80% of Managers and Senior Managers present in 2013 had been promoted internally, while the group hired 458 local residents who had experienced long-term unemployment
  • Val d’Europe now has 30,000 residents and provides 28,000 jobs
  • Hotel refurbishment programme is on-going, covering all 5,800 rooms, with all 1,100 rooms of Disney’s Newport Bay Club to be completed in 2014
  • 14.9 million visitors in 2013 (down from 16 million in 2012 and 15.6 in 2011)
  • Hotel occupancy down to 79.3% in 2013, from 84% in 2012 and 87.1% in 2011
  • Guest spending continues to grow: the average guest spends €48.14 in the parks and €235.01 per room in the Disney Hotels
  • Interest charges on the group’s debt were reduced by €20.4 million in 2013 thanks to the €1.3 billion refinancing by The Walt Disney Company in 2012
  • According to questionnaires, 63% of guests were “extremely” and “very” satisfied with their visits; 89% of guests would “definitely” and “probably” come back
  • Disney Dreams! scored a 92% guest satisfaction rating for fiscal year 2013
  • 4 million items have been sold at World of Disney since its opening in 2012
  • Staffed 24 hours a day by 200 Cast Members, the “Hercules” warehouse complex is more than 15 times the size of an Olympic swimming pool; in 2013 it was refitted with dimming, sensing, low-energy lighting by partner Osram
  • Scheduled for completion in late 2015, the fifth Val de France hotel, to be operated by B&B Hotels, will add 400 rooms to the resort
  • 90% of the land at Villages Nature will not be built on; the Center Parcs joint project will be developed in several phases over the next 20 years
  • 87 milion gallons of drinking water are expected to be saved each year once the new backstage water treatment and recycling plant becomes fully operational
  • Ratatouille: l’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy will be “by far the most advanced and sophisticated thing we’ve ever done from a ride integration standpoint. It will offer guests a totally immersive experience into a Disney•Pixar adventure” — Joe Schott, Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
  • “This never-before-seen family attraction will magically shrink guests to the size of the movie’s adorable star, Rémy. They will then be whisked off for a multi-sensory spin around the kitchens of Chef Gusteau”

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.

Disneyland Paris geographical breakdown of visitors 2003
Disneyland Paris geographical breakdown of visitors 2013

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?

SOURCE Euro Disney S.C.A. Annual Review 2013, Full PDF (7.9MB download)

Thursday, 6th February 2014

Indiana Jones and the rebuilt temple: work begins on major refurbishment

Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril, Disneyland Paris

Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril closed on 7th January for a major refurbishment which Disneyland Paris swiftly announced would last until 28th May 2014.

Work on the 20-year old Adventureland roller coaster will see replacement of “ride related components” and include the complete replacement of the entire trademark loop. Most notably, though, the complete “Temple of Peril” itself will be stripped down and reportedly rebuilt using more durable “real” stone materials. Already as of mid-January the temple has been wrapped in scaffolding with intermittent visits from a huge cherry picker crane above the skyline.

Indiana Jones refurbishment (©InsideDLParis)
Indiana Jones refurbishment (©InsideDLParis)

Opened 30th July 1993, the Intamin-built coaster was originally intended largely as a capacity-boosting stopgap until the young Euro Disney could properly expand its attractions roster. Grand ideas for an interweaving “Adventure” jeep ride and mine train coaster were quickly abandoned, as were concepts for extra scenes and animatronics along the route of the ride, or even a second temple.

What eventually made it into the park, yet with remarkable speed in just one year, was essentially a classic Pinfari TL-59 track layout wrapped around the fake temple structure.

Some elements of the track were altered in early 2000, when the ride was turned “Backwards!” to be promoted as a new attraction and its cars were rebuilt to each carry six people, instead of four as originally designed. The trains were returned to their original direction in late 2004.

Early Indiana Jones coaster concept art, Disneyland Paris
Early concept art for an Indiana Jones roller coaster

Investment in park maintenance and refurbishments is always welcome, and continues to improve at Disneyland Paris, but you could almost guarantee if the Temple of Peril was in California, it’d re-open not just with a rebuilt loop, but some kind of storyline enhancement or “plussing” too. If an attraction (especially one quite lacking in story elements) has to close for almost six months, why not squeeze just a tiny bit more budget and make its re-opening something for us to look forward to?

Basically, we’ll never be happy until we get the tiger.

PHOTOS @InsideDLParis (Twitter)

Wednesday, 5th February 2014

First Quarter 2014: Revenues, attendance, hotel occupancy down; guest spending up

Disney Dreams! of Christmas - Disneyland Paris

Euro Disney S.C.A. published its First Quarter results yesterday for the 2014 fiscal year, with the Disneyland Paris operating group announcing a series of disappointing drops across the board, helped only by some modest guest spending increases.

Covering the period from 1st October to 31st December 2013, the first quarter saw overall Resort revenues fall by 5% to €304.9 million, from €320.7 million in the same period the previous year. For the Theme Parks segment it was less severe, with a drop of just over 3%, while the Hotels and Disney Village saw the worst results with an almost 6% drop in revenues.

Disneyland Paris First Quarter Q1 2014 results

With a 9.6 percentage point decrease in hotel occupancy, equating to 51,000 fewer room nights old compared to the previous year, an increase of 6% in average spending per room might look like the only good news here. But even this rise was due only to higher daily room rates, and actually offset by lower spending on food and beverage.

In the parks, attendance decreased by 7%. Though this quarter marks the first results since the end of the 20th Anniversary on 30th September 2013, this figure must still be disappointing given the extra investments made to the Halloween and Christmas seasons, arguably now at their strongest for years. Average spending per guest increased by 4%, however, with Euro Disney S.C.A. pointing to not just higher admissions prices but (at long last) higher spending on merchandise, too.

In his standard statement, Philippe Gas, Chief Executive Officer of Euro Disney S.A.S., said:

“In a still challenging economic environment, we realized lower attendance and occupancy as compared to last year, which resulted in a 5% decrease in resort revenues. However our strategy aimed at increasing guest contribution helped us offset some of the attendance and occupancy weakness as we achieved record guest spending in both our parks and hotels for a first quarter.

Even though we remain prudent given the current economic environment, we believe the fundamentals of our business are strong and we are confident in our long-term strategy focused on investing in the guest experience. The opening of our new Ratatouille-themed attraction this summer fully reflects this growth strategy.”

What appears evident, from the hotel results in particular, is that visitors are more careful than ever about how they spend their money and whether they actually get value back. For an experience like Disneyland Paris, visitors are probably more willing to splash out on a luxury like a Disney Hotel stay, even though they know the value-for-money is questionable. But only up to a point.

And after such a large initial outlay, most will inevitably then reign in spending on extras — meals, shows, merchandise — and scrutinise every Euro spent. Getting greedy with that initial booking price could mean a loss in spending throughout the entire trip. Or it could, more and more often it seems, mean that the initial hotel booking never takes place at all — another company gets the revenue and the room night — or, worst case, the visitor decides not to visit Disneyland Paris at all.

We have, at least, seen a slight shift in hotel package promotions away from huge discounts of up to 40%, which surely only eroded the perceived brand value, and towards “added value” offers like free Half Board Meal Plans or extra nights. More like this would be welcome — rather than taking Euros off a booking, why not offer that as “free” spending money in the parks on a gift card?

Could Ratatouille: The Ride be the saving grace of 2014? Intriguingly, this press release suddenly changes the wording to an opening date of “early Summer”. With results like these, the sooner they can get something of that “growth strategy” on the table, the better.

VIA Disneyland Paris Corporate (PDF Press Release)

Thursday, 21st March 2013

Pirates of the Caribbean returns from long closure with “minor” technical updates

Previous Pirates of the Caribbean loading/despatch system

If Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris was ever going to welcome Jack Sparrow, like all its three cousins around the world, the three-month closure this winter could have been the ample opportunity. But, just as when the rumour surfaced for the 15th Anniversary in 2007, again in 2008, again in 2009, again in 2011 and again for the 20th Anniversary in 2012, fans can lament (or rather celebrate) accordingly as the ride re-opened without any major changes or additions to its story.

Instead, as reported around 7th January when the Adventureland dark ride closed, the refurbishment amounted to little more than a technical upgrade, with seemingly minor changes visible to guests on board — backstage, the works may well have been more complex.

This included, first and foremost, a new process for loading and despatching the boats themselves. As reported by Mouetto, admin of Disney Central Plaza forum, Cast Members no longer give a hand signal to the elevated control box but have their own control panel at ground level to despatch the boats themselves. The Cast Member up above is now hidden behind a screen, with only the closed-circuit screens monitoring the inside of the ride for company.

Within the scenes themselves, improved lighting has been the most remarked-upon aspect since the ride reopened on 16th March so far, with scenes apparently appearing more colourful and better-lit. Animatronics, such as the duelling pirates, were reported to appear perhaps slightly more fluid and sound effects tightened, all as you would expect after any standard refurbishment. Nothing major, then — and in fact, there’s disappointment that minor effects remain untouched or unreliable (such as the chain which is meant to “pull” you up the lift hill not moving).

While most of us probably agree that Disneyland Paris can do without the now increasingly passé Jack Sparrow tie-in (unless that 5th film renews interest), it would be wonderful to see genuine special effects upgrades and gentle “plussing” of classic attractions — include Phantom Manor in that, too. Just a single new special effect or a fun new trick to make us go “oh, that’s new!”

Don’t go rocking the boat but do, please, keep moving forward…

Watch a glimpse of the newly-refurbished ride in the video by Mouetto below… Read More…

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