Wednesday, 19th January 2011

Visitor attacked by “ticket tout” on parking lot walkway, reports newspaper

British newspaper the Portsmouth News has reported a distressing incident which took place with a local visitor on the walkway between the main Disneyland Paris parking lot and the Disney Parks. Going back to his car during the day, the 39-year old man was twice pestered by a “ticket tout” for his park tickets, presumably so that they could be sold on by the tout for profit. Upon refusing a second time, returning to the parks, the visitor was apparently punched repeatedly in the face and left needing emergency surgery to remove two teeth and a piece of his jawbone.

Fans will be well-aware that this area and all around the resort’s train station is officially classified as public land, outside the control of Disneyland Paris. It’s through this “loophole” that the area immediately outside Disney Village is almost always filled with unpleasant vendors, selling cheap gifts such as wind-up kittens, plastic models of the Eiffel Tower and even potentially dangerous laser pens. Will this attack on a guest finally convince Disney and the French government that something needs to be worked out with the security and status of this incredibly busy, sensitive spot of land?

According to the article, a Disney spokesperson said: “This incident took place on public land, which Disneyland Paris security is not permitted to police. We continue to work closely with the authorities to ensure an incident like this does not happen again.

Those authorities should be aware that, even on a good day, cheap vendors don’t sell a great image of France to millions of international visitors. Being punched in the face is an altogether different league. It could happen anywhere, but it shouldn’t happen at Disneyland.

VIA Portsmouth News, Salon Mickey blog

Tuesday, 18th January 2011

Pluto meets a special pal in the parks while Disneyland continues to socialise

Disneyland Paris really knows how to get a reaction from its fans, launching this fantastically cute photo onto its official Twitter feed of a special assistance guide dog meeting Pluto himself in the parks. And around the world, the collective “Awww!” reaches a pitch that, well, only dogs can hear. Shhh: the photo actually comes from Walt Disney World, taken by Gina on DisBoards.

Social media sites were finally discovered by Disneyland Paris last year, with their inherited Facebook page just having topped 1 million fans. Actual postings are often a little cold compared to their American cousins, perhaps language and the lack of a utility such as the great Disney Parks Blog making it difficult to share worthwhile news and content. There are two Twitter accounts, in French and English (which posted the photo above), but also a third main account (which didn’t). The best so far is probably their YouTube account, hosting some great “making of” and history videos.

VIA @Disney_ParisEN

Monday, 22nd March 2010

Banners & marquees lead New Generation preparation

Another year, another set of sky blue banners? Spot on. For the fourth year running, we’re welcomed onto the resort hub — and again and again through Fantasia Gardens and Front Lot — by banners featuring the year’s theme logo and the word “Welcome” in a variety of languages:

New Generation Festival preparation

The almost identical in design Mickey’s Magical Party banners have been switched out for these new canvas banners on every lamppost in sight, alternating between the French and English logos.

New Generation Festival preparation

New Generation Festival preparation

New Generation Festival preparation

Are these just unoriginal, or is blue just a nice, neutral colour that works for both parks?

Either way, there’s one plus for this year’s batch of near-identical banners — they’re slightly less identical. In Front Lot, there are several designs featuring just the New Generation characters, such as Mike Wazowski, Buzz Lightyear and that ten-year-old alien who won’t ever take a break, Stitch.

New Generation Festival preparation New Generation Festival preparation

New Generation Festival preparation

Different designs or not, it’s quite an overwhelming invasion…

New Generation Festival preparation

What is this festival called again?!

Back at Front Lot, we’re seeing the Walt Disney Studios Store entrance being “toyed” with again, as the first temporary marquee in over a year has appeared to tempt more people inside the boutique. It’s the first New Generation Festival store decoration so far, coming just days after the old Magical Party marquee disappeared from The Emporium.

New Generation Festival preparation

Though the Little Green Men and Stitch are flat 2D designs, Slinky Dog is partially in 3D, his springy body wrapping around the entrance. Inside, you can of course pick up your very own Slinky toy.

New Generation Festival preparation

New Generation Festival preparation

Inside the park, the Monsters Inc. Scream Scene near the entrance of Toon Studio has been closed for several weeks to allow preparations for its starring role in the year ahead. The ‘Scream Monitors’ signage has been taken away and returned for refurbishment, and the fun yellow floor markings have been completely repainted.

New Generation Festival preparation

In fact, though the corner is being included in the “new” features for the year, it has been in place for so long (since 2006) that the “Child Detection Agency – Scream Scene” paint had completely worn away.

New Generation Festival preparation

As we reported at the end of January, the ‘Monsters Inc. Scream Academy’ listed in brochures and press releases was originally meant to be a brand new show that was cancelled just days before auditions. We’ve since leant that the show, which would have featured a live host inviting guests to dance and scream with the Monsters, was actually set to happen not in this tight corner but on a separate travelling stage, similar to the High School Musical shows.

Though the ‘Monsters Inc. Scream Academy’ hasn’t been removed from advertising, we now have to assume that’s the new name for the photo location, the preview videos have been made incredibly vague and all mentions are very careful never to mention the word “new”…

New Generation Festival preparation

At least with Sully (the only live Monsters character we’ve seen at Disneyland Paris since 2002), expected to be rejoined by Mike and — for the first time — Boo (dressed up in her Monster disguise) for the Disney Showtime Spectacular over at Disneyland Park, these extra characters could hop over in between to provide something “new” here after all.

Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.com

Sunday, 7th March 2010

St David ends the Magical Party with a bang

What’s been occuring at Disneyland Paris this weekend? The St David’s Welsh Festival, a now-annual event spread over three days, this year from 5th to 7th March, to celebrate the feast day of the patron saint of Wales (which is actually held on 1st March) — and no doubt tempt a few proud compatriots over to Disneyland Paris in the process.

As the schedule reveals, this is a rare chance to see Merlin calling up guests to pull Fantasyland’s sword from its stone, a location now used more frequently for the Sleeping Beauty “happening”.

St David's Day

It’s also the only time in any Disney park in the world you can see Mickey and Minnie dressed in traditional Welsh costume, be it at their special meet ‘n’ greets or riding the Main Street fire truck as a special pre-parade. Where the upcoming St Patrick’s Day has shamrocks all over, St David’s is all daffodils and leeks…

St David's Da

Between the “dathliad” (is that right?) of Wales came the eventual, anticipated end of Mickey’s Magical Party, the “theme year” which began way back on 4th April 2009 and brought us It’s Dance Time… in Discoveryland, Minnie’s Party Train and of course, It’s Party Time… with Mickey and Friends, which saw its final official performances on Central Plaza under a cold grey sky this weekend:

St David's Day Mickey's Magical Party

St David's Day Mickey's Magical Party

St David's Day Mickey's Magical Party

St David's Day Mickey's Magical Party

The pyrotechnics were a late addition last year.

What was that about spoiling pictures? Oh yes, the decorations. Though (if you can believe it) not as bad as they could have been, this was certainly a year to point your camera… elsewhere. Try a new angle rather than that generic castle shot.

Mickey's Magical Party

But, for one last bang before the year is locked away in the pages of Euro Souvenirland, our Mickey Moused medieval castle celebrated St David’s with the traditional fireworks display…

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

Mickey's Magical Party

How do you say “what a relief”, “good riddance” in Welsh?

Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.com

Thursday, 4th February 2010

Hurricanes Nightclub groove to end short of 18 years

And so, another attraction finds its way into Euro Souvenirland

The news came via trusty magicforum host Kristof, that Hurricanes Discotheque at the end of Disney Village will close permanently on 31st March 2010. The night club has apparently been scheduled to end its days for several years already, with nothing eventually coming of any of the earlier dates. Will the Cyclone Special cocktail be gone for good this time? Certainly sounds like it.

Hurricanes Nightclub

As improvements and additions have spread through the Village in recent years, Hurricanes has slowly become a final champion for that original Festival Disney spirit, sitting up there above Rainforest Cafe like Carl Fredrickson surrounded by skyscrapers. It’s a remnant of the early ’90s idea that the entertainment district should be a “hip”, “happening”, buzzing nighttime spot, the streets filled with party-goers until the early hours. An idea that never really happened.

The official 1992 Euro Disney Guidebook enthuses:

Hurricanes — Festival Disney’s disco nightclub is just above the Key West Seafood restaurant. Having climbed the spiral staircase, you’ll be swept up into the whirlwind of nightlife. Hurricanes boasts four different bars, including one in the indoor terrace, plus twenty video screens, cosy corners for talking and a dance floor that’s open until 3 am. Don’t be surprised if you catch yourself standing there sipping on a Caribbean or Cyclone Special cocktail, dreaming of Key Largo.

Hurricanes was originally part of a small Key West district in Festival Disney, comprising Key West Seafood below (closed 1998), the Surf Shop opposite (now World of Toys) and the then-rainforest-animal-free lagoon behind. In what must be one of the kitchiest ideas in history, the dance floor was originally covered in sand. Which must have been fun in heels.

Why close a fun venue like this? The official reason: “repositioning” of Disney Village. What kind of repositioning hasn’t been clarified by Disney, but it’s not hard to work out. Just as the nightclubs and comedy clubs of Pleasure Island at Walt Disney World in Florida have been swallowed up by the wider Downtown Disney, to be replaced with new shops and restaurants, it seems a venue like Hurricanes simply doesn’t fit in their current focus on either side of the Atlantic.

Hurricanes Nightclub

Indeed, with its foam parties and “ladies nights” where women get in free, it’s not a surprise that Disneyland Paris have been thinking about dropping the venue for a while. And did you notice it’s a little dated? Would the cost of improving the nightclub, updating the staircase entrance (which has become rather tacky with subsequent additions, long after Frank Gehry left), really be worthwhile? Probably not, which brings the second element of the “repositioning”…

Stating the obvious, a nightclub like Hurricanes is useless during the day. Here we have a substantial, prime space right in the middle of Disney Village just lying empty for most of the day up until 8pm, when a café or restaurant could have tills ringing (for much greater amounts) right through from morning. Though we still mourn Buffalo Trading Co, just look how much better utilised that space is as a Starbucks café.

Whilst those plans for the Convention Centre and Disney Village extension are still many years from coming to anything, it’s bad business sense to leave this space as a faded nightclub.

Hurricanes Nightclub

What could be pushing Hurricanes out? No replacement has been announced…

However, the first floor location naturally points to a bar, café or restaurant, something which unlike a shop doesn’t rely on heavy footfall. Recent rumours that Groupe Flo, the group which operates almost all of the Disney Village restaurants, is interested in another venue could well ring true. The resort has experimented with promoting an Italian menu at Hotel New York’s Manhattan Restaurant in recent years, so could this space go from the Caribbean to Italy to permanently offer this much-requested cuisine in the Village itself?

Then there’s that possibility we picked up less than a year ago — the Jules Verne-themed pub/restaurant. Check it out — the hot air balloons in the roofspace, the blue sky walls and vintage lanterns. It’d seem right at home in the elevated position of Hurricanes, with its circular observation room. If they opened up some of the nightclub’s boxy walls with large windows, you’d have a superb view out to the “real” PanoraMagique balloon and the lake.

Intriguingly, the original article (which was a brief interview with the owner of the original pub in Nantes) mentioned that they’d been offered a floorspace of 500m2. Do some flimsy measuring in Google Earth, and that’s exactly what Hurricanes has to offer.

Hurricanes Nightclub

It’s not just the spirit and idea of Hurricanes which seems out of sync with the rest of the Village: The blank white exterior is one of the few remaining Frank Gehry boxes, which worked with the 1992 “party district” ideas but were ultimately diluted with later add-ons, certainly never looking all that pleasant on any but the sunniest of days. We mentioned with the Earl of Sandwich concepts that that new restaurant offered the opportunity to hide this exterior behind it, but even so this big white box will still be clearly visible. A change of tenant would surely fix this final piece.

As Disney Village has come blinking into the daytime, gaining its eco-clad Starbucks, planters and trees, time has finally caught up with Hurricanes. Finish up your Caribbean cocktail, put those Key Largo dreams to sleep. The storm is almost over.

Images: Photos Magiques; DLRP Today.

Thursday, 28th January 2010

Davy Crockett, king of the air conditioned frontier

On the other side of the A4 motorway, a patch of Disneyland Paris magic exists that you’ve maybe never experienced. Peaceful forest lanes and quaint cabins; a whole village of amenities and the best swimming pool on-site.

However, as surprised as new visitors often are to discover this whole other side to the resort, Davy Crockett Ranch often seems to collect some not-entirely-positive reviews. Worn-out cabins, mould in the bathroom… For some reason, these issues appear quite common.

Perhaps it has been attracting the wrong people, more suited to the glamour of, say, Disney’s Hotel New York than the rustic charm over here. Nevertheless, the ranch may now be answering their complaints — it’s in the middle of its biggest accommodation refresh for many years, adding some modern luxuries to its trappers’ lifestyle.

We mentioned this new accommodation option when reporting the Rio Grande, Eldorado and Buffalo rooms at Disney’s Value hotels, but now the Shareholders Club magazine (the November 2009 issue, but delivered to many addresses just this month) reports some numbers — there will be 139 new cabins — and the first on-site photos:

Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch

The Spring/Summer 2010 brochure previously revealed the layout and a generous interior mock-up:

Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch

When these come into use from April, larger families will finally have a better accommodation choice at the resort. In addition to the extra beds, the cabins feature two shower rooms, a private terrace with barbecue, air conditioning… and no bath (except the bathroom sink, which can be used as a bath for babies). They’re also located on the “trails” (the loop roads around which the cabins sit) closest to the Davy Crockett Ranch village.

From the new photos, they’ll look very familiar to anyone who has stayed with camp site travel operators such as Keycamp or Canvas Holidays. They may even help to build up to the still-proposed Villages Nature, the Centre Parcs-style project which is still “just about to be green lit” for the forest area around Davy Crockett Ranch.

When — or perhaps if — Pierre & Vacances really do get going with that project and its far more luxurious accommodations, Davy Crockett will need to have lost its mouldy bath image. But hopefully, still have some rustic charm left.

And until then, any hope of a shuttle bus service returning? For all the “eco” claims of these new cabins, the people staying in them still all have to drive individually to and from the parks each day…

Images © Disney.

Wednesday, 27th January 2010

Flybe join Air France in the skies above Disneyland

Back in 1992, faithful Air France were one of the resort’s most important travel partners. After all, the high speed TGV rail connection was still two years away, and the UK’s direct connection to the magic via Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel not due until 1996.

But, as airlines such as itself focus more and more on long haul flights, it appears Disneyland Paris have looked to one of the successful low cost airlines, snapping up the short haul market, to give visitors more choice when booking a package.

As of 19th January 2010, Flybe.com signed closer links with the resort, effectively becoming one of its preferred travel partners. Compare the Autumn/Winter 2009 brochure with the updated Spring/Summer 2010 brochure, announcing the new options as available “soon”:

Flybe join Air France in the skies above Disneyland

Flybe join Air France in the skies above Disneyland

The press release from Flybe is rather vague, but confirms:

Flybe, the UK’s Number One Domestic Airline, has teamed up with Disneyland Paris® in a move that will pave the way for exciting promotions and added incentives for Flybe passengers to include flights, accommodation and theme park ticket packages. The deal builds on two successful campaigns that Flybe has previously run with Europe’s leading tourist destination.

Hugh Wood, VP and MD of Disney Destinations International says: “Disney Destinations is excited about expanding the business – this is very positive news for Disneyland Paris and our guests as it offers a wider choice of travel options for them.”

Flybe flights from Belfast City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, Glasgow, Jersey, Manchester and Southampton to Paris Charles de Gaulle can now be booked at the same time as your package via the Disneyland Paris booking hotline. In return, Flybe will be promoting Disneyland Paris more heavily as a destination for its Paris flights.

As visitors increasingly sniff at paying the higher prices of airlines like Air France for short hops, it makes sense for Disney not to be losing out on these booking commissions — at the same time making clear how easy it can still be to get to the resort for people who don’t live in the South East.

But of course, there is a downside to not using Air France — that you won’t have Gérard Depardieu as your baggage handler… right?

Wednesday, 13th January 2010

Let it snow! Beautiful wintry pictures of Disneyland Paris

When our landscapes are given a white blanket like this, the whole world suddenly feels like a theme park. Paths don’t end where they normally do, the roads extend right up to the hedgerows, the fields and hills seem boundary-less.

If it seems unnatural having this much snowfall in our normal towns and villages, take a look at Disneyland Paris. The resort’s press department have been smart enough to brave the sub-zero temperatures to capture some beautiful views of the park with its current layer of strange white icing — from the “tropical” islands of Adventureland to the peaks of the Wild West!

As well as clicking the images to open up the normal, larger versions, we’re also sharing full size 1600px versions perfect for your desktop — just click the “Wallpaper” link below each.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

A medieval fantasy, frozen in time.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

The spindly, creeping gardens of Phantom Manor halted by snow…

Disneyland Paris in the snow

No better time to pop inside Bonaza Outfitters and wrap yourself up in some warm Western gear!

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

Not many takers for the outdoor seats today, with Cowboy Cookout Barbeque offering a roasting hot fire and live country music inside.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

Pirates of the… Arctic Circle? Adventureland is a bizarre landscape of tropical snow.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

Steaming through the winter landscape, nothing stops the Disneyland Railroad‘s grand circle tour.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

As night falls, a warm Fantasyland tea party to celebrate your Unbirthday seems very inviting indeed.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

Sun fading, there’ll be no wedding today.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

(Wallpaper version)

A magical landscape lighting up the night, ready to brave it again tomorrow…

No Disney resort feels the full effects of the four seasons quite like Disneyland Paris. When you’re next gritting your driveway, imagine clearing and preparing every stretch of the two theme parks for guests each morning. If you’ve had trouble starting your car to get into work, imagine “firing up” the Disneyland Railroad engines on a bitterly cold morning and keeping them steaming around the park ’til sundown. Not to mention making sure the runaway trains of Big Thunder Mountain never get held up, and that Dumbo can can keep on flying.

In weather like this, the whole designed environment, the whole operation, is that bit more exceptional. And as you can see, exceptionally beautiful at the same time.

Pictures © Disney.

Friday, 8th January 2010

Parking to power the magic? Huge solar project rumour

There are suggestions that Euro Disney SCA, operating group of Disneyland Paris, could be about to sign a landmark agreement with French energy partner EDF.

Currently, as visitors arrive at the resort by car or coach, they’re greeted by a pleasant — but exceptionally large — parking space. A huge expanse of tarmac poured nonchalantly over the former fields of Marne-la-Vallée, this has perhaps never been the best of first impressions for the French to become enamoured with Disney’s controversial arrival.

Parking to power the magic? Huge solar project rumours

However, according to rumours now doing the message board rounds, the flat, single-level parking lot serving the two Disney Parks — with more than 11,000 car parking spaces — would be covered end to end in so-called “Ombrières”, a patented type of solar power canopy covered in photovoltaic cells.

An unfortunate necessity becomes a publicity coup?

Creating electricity which can then be used on-site or sold back into the grid, the futuristic canopies also collect rainwater to reduce piped water usage as well as protecting people — and their cars — from the elements, be they a rainstorm or a scorching hot day.

Parking to power the magic? Huge solar project rumours

Rather than your car burning up in the full heat of the Summer sun, that energy would be transformed into real power — possibly even to power your ride on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Phantom Manor!

The idea is not entirely new, already being in use at locations such as the E-Leclerc shopping centre near Montpellier seen in these photos. These canopies are manufactured by French company SunVie. Should the enormous parking surface at Disneyland Paris be covered by “solar panels” like these, it would apparently become the largest such energy plant in France and almost certainly one of the largest in Europe.

Parking to power the magic? Huge solar project rumours

Naturally, after the initial excitement at such a prospect, thoughts are now turning to the visual impact of the “Ombrières” which, whilst actually functionally good-looking, would probably contrast a bit too much with the more whimsical structures already dotted around the parking lot, such as the canopies of the moving walkways.

To redesign them with a little more Disney spark certainly wouldn’t be hard, but multiplied over several hundred rows could amount to a restrictively large rise in construction costs.

Indeed, details so far are rather sketchy as to how such a project would be managed between Euro Disney and EDF — who would pay for the set-up, who would get the power generated? Nevertheless, this would be a sure-fire publicity winner for the resort, and hopefully more than just blue sky (solar) thinking…

• See more details, photos and a video here.

Images: DLRP Today; SunVie. News via Parcs et Companie, thanks to lil-shawn (magicforum).

Sunday, 27th December 2009

Striking workers cheer as Disney parades cancelled

Unfortunately not. As DLP.info reported on Wednesday, 23rd December, members of the cfdt, CFTC and UNSA unions began striking at 7.00am — on one of the busiest days of the year for the resort — citing the lack of dialogue from the resort following their opposition to the apparent “zero Euro” wage increase for 2010 and other issues.

So what did they do, simply refuse to show up for work? Take their placards and flags round to the management offices, of the people who actually make these decisions? Of course not. They didn’t even, in the grand Disneyland Paris tradition, set up camp on the neutral resort hub, amongst the nuisance street sellers.

Strikes at Disneyland Paris
Picture: DLP.info

In a shocking day of the resort’s history, the striking Cast Members went straight inside the parks — complete with giant banners, flags and signs. It gets worse: Come 2.15pm, Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars didn’t go out as announced. Instead, guests who had paid their entrance fee and waited patiently for the show were treated to a storming of the stage by the union members. At 5pm over in Disneyland Park, the parade route didn’t see Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade pleasantly passing by but a noisy mob of striking workers, blocking the parade route.

Reports state that not a single member of the Entertainment, Parades and Characters (EPC) department took part in the strike, but the casts were kept from performing for guests by the workers blocking the route. Managers no doubt also wanted to avoid any kind of stand-off, where the floats might enter the park but be stopped halfway.

But the awful thing is, now that the videos have started appearing on YouTube and other sites, it’s not even the bizarre sight of these striking workers inside the parks that’s most shocking. It’s how plainly heartless and repulsive they are with it. Skip to 3 minutes 20 seconds into this video found by Daniel on magicforum:

Yes, you heard right. When the announcement comes that Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars has had to be cancelled because they’ve taken over Place des Stars (an announcement perhaps never heard before with our hardy, good Cast Members), they cheer.

And all sympathy is lost.

Perhaps these people are forgetting a few things. First, there may well be just as “poorly paid” visitors in the audience, who are now having their expensive trips ruined. Second, Disneyland Paris is still in a very precarious state. Despicable though that proposal of a “zero Euro” pay rise really is, storming the parade routes will only serve to give an even more unprofessional image of the resort to thousands of guests — whether they saw it first-hand, heard about it from a friend or saw it on YouTube. In turn, people will continue to think “Disneyland Paris isn’t ‘proper’ Disney”, that it’s not worth a visit, that it isn’t worth returning. The resort will lose more money and they’ll be even less likely to get a better wage.

Nevertheless, the CFDT union has reported that talks have now reopened with the resort, so we shouldn’t be seeing such a display again. This situation will, one must hope, be particularly embarrassing for relatively new CEO Philippe Gas, not least because his history with Disney is based entirely in human resources — his former job title being Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

What’s the other thing the striking workers didn’t show much regard for? Oh yeah, their colleagues. Those friendly, smiling, helpful — and equally hard-worked — Cast Members who continued on, having to pick up the pieces of disappointed guests, complaint forms and return tickets.

Thankfully, the Entertainment cast of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade did their own bit of storming the park: All the dancers and characters stayed in costume and, once the scene had calmed, arrived on Town Square and Central Plaza at 5.30pm to give guests the best chance they could of a meet ‘n’ greet with that true, professional Disney Magic.

Picture: DLP.info; Video: chrissouille08.

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