Disneyland Hotel is infamous for the signature fragrance that wafts through its hallways, but this Christmas you might spot a new scent in the lobby: gingerbread. And if you can’t smell it, you’ll certain see it — the huge new Christmas gingerbread house! Constructed on-site and piece-by-piece using real gingerbread pieces baked by the chefs of the hotel’s California Grill table service restaurant, the house is a first for Disneyland Paris, adopting a long tradition from Walt Disney World in Florida. Requiring 350 hours of work, it stands next to the hotel’s Duffy-decorated Christmas tree with a Duffy bear of its own perched atop the chimney. See below for a time-lapse video of its construction.
We noted at the return of “it’s a small world” Celebration in 2009 how welcome it was to see Disneyland Paris adopting more annual traditions similar to those at the American resorts. These kinds of smaller events keep the resort fresh and visitors returning throughout the year. Now, we can hopefully add the Disneyland Hotel gingerbread house to our young resort’s annual calendar!
Time-lapse video of the Gingerbread House construction follows… Read More…
Opened in 1992 as Carnegie’s Deli with full table service, it was renamed after just a few years. In May this year, it gained some hefty competition from the new-build Earl of Sandwich just across the way and subsequently altered the focus of its menu away from sandwiches to pizza slices and other Italian-American snacks. Curiously, the signage notifying of the current closure (captured here by Mouetto on Disney Central Plaza) uses the New York Style Sandwiches logo but in its text calls the location by a new name: “New York Deli”. With the Earl now having the Village’s hot sandwich market wrapped up, will Disney further reposition the shop to offer greater variety?
This follows a major refurbishment of the Disney Fashion store nearby in June, which saw the formerly dull outlet gain a more quirky “boutique” feel. Of the retail units in Disney Village — notably Disney Store, Hollywood Pictures and World of Toys — that store was the least likely to effectively be made redundant by the opening of World of Disney next year, perhaps calling for an even bigger rethink of the offer along this side of the street, which has long been somewhat uninspiring.
Fantasia Gelati is the latest to be added to the long list of 2011 refurbishments. The Carte D’Or ice cream location in Fantasyland has already had its three cone-shaped roofs cleaned and repainted this month; now scaffolding has risen around its gently leaning tower for a much, much needed refurbishment.
Though some work was done to the façade’s front walls during a closure in February, the rooftops on this corner of Fantasyland’s Italian area have been a pretty disgusting maintenance blackspot for several years, as seen in the photos from 2010 below. Located opposite “it’s a small world” and facing away from the sun for much of the day, sightlines aren’t always naturally drawn to this pastel-coloured gelateria. You never know, the return to a more appetising condition might even sell more ice cream.
2011 Refurbishments — There are so many refurbishment projects across Disneyland Park this year that here’s one finishing we never even reported as starting. Scaffolding is now coming down on Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost to revealed a completely repaired and refreshed façade, from top to bottom. The restaurant’s exterior has had lacklustre maintenance for a number of years (see photos below from last year), perhaps being cleaned up here and there but never getting a full-scale fix-up until now.
Aside from a mundane pizza offering taking the place of the original Explorers Club table service, it’s another location where they’ve hit the reset button to take us back to 1992. Amongst the jungles of Adventureland, where an almost entirely green palette takes over, the bright white wood panelling and red rooftop of this colonial estate will once again contrast, and complement, nature. As with all these refurbishment projects, the big challenge now that that reset button has been hit will be continuing to keep them looking “as good as opening day” beyond 2012…
You might never have realised it, but that Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Fish ‘n’ Chips you ate at Café Mickey wasn’t necessarily a “Disney” meal at all. Along with most of the other Disney Village restaurants, Café Mickey is actually managed and operated under contract by Groupe Flo, a large French catering company. Or at least, for now it is — member Mr Freddy on Disney Central Plaza Forum has shared the interesting news that Café Mickey, along with Annette’s Diner and presumably The Steakhouse, all part of Groupe Flo’s “Euro-Gastronomie” subsidiary, will come under full Disney control when the current contract ends on 1st October 2011. Citing the fact that Disney now has more experience in restaurant management in Paris and can probably make some considerable savings (it is said to pay Groupe Flo €10m a year for the contract), another member suggests the handover could even mean each of the restaurants closing for between a week and a full month at the end of the this year, ready to become fully Disney-operated establishments from January. The change won’t affect Rainforest Cafe or King Ludwig’s Castle, which are managed under separate contracts to Groupe Flo and will likely always be separate to Disney.
With Disney able to completely control the management and operation of the venues, rather than just make changes at arms-length, it will be interesting to see what differences, if any, we might spot when the changeover takes place. Looking at the bigger picture, this move may even tie in with promised developments for the Village over the next ten years, as Disneyland Paris slowly continues to improve the offering and give it more of a “Disney” stamp with projects like World of Disney.
And if DLRP Today had been handed the contract instead? Well, besides some poorly-cooked Fantasia Mushrooms, for starters you’d at least see that tacky blue tent add-on to Café Mickey ripped off and a proper extension built onto the building instead.
It’s almost a month since Earl of Sandwich grabbed a slice of the fast food action in Disney Village, bringing an ample selection of freshly-prepared hot sandwiches to the banks of Lake Disney. The restaurant, the chain’s first in mainland Europe, was officially inaugurated back on Wednesday, 15th June with Euro Disney CEO Philippe Gas, Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl (second from right) and the 11th Earl of Sandwich himself, John Montagu (third from right). A predictably oversized ribbon and scissors were brought out for the occasion.
So far the restaurant already appears to be earning a loyal following of European fans, with many positive remarks for service, taste and the design of the new building. One negative, though is for the price of drinks: with a 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola at €3.50 they’ve managed to make the €2.60 normally charged by Disney seem like a steal (although a 400ml cup is available for €2.50). For a family, it soon makes a reasonably-priced sandwich into a rather expensive fast food meal.
One year of heavy construction and several years of planning later, Earl of Sandwich is now open at Disney Village! The new counter service restaurant overlooking Lake Disney officially opened on Wednesday, 1st June after a special preview event on Monday. Photos here come courtesy of Xavier Triquet (full album), while you can see even more via NewsParcs, Matthieu Bernet and Disney Gazette. Stepping inside the huge glass box building, you’re welcomed by a warm wooden floor and a thoroughly modern interior — with plenty of nods back to the 18th Century. The ground floor has an airy double-height dining area with a suspended globe and a ring of modern ball lights, leading through to the ordering and serving area underneath the first floor mezzanine.
Here, you first join the queue to order your sandwiches and hot snacks, with a novel timer handed to you to indicate when they’re ready. You’re then free to pick up any extras such as desserts or potato chips, all well-presented on the counter, before paying and enjoying your meal. At the centre of the upper floor is a unique circular bench with two semi-circular tables wrapping around it –sure to become a popular dining place, especially with that stunning view across the lake to the hotel district. The outdoor terrace is more basic, with more modern furniture and a rather industrial-looking awning canopy.
Official figures cite the investment by Earl of Sandwich here, for its 15th restaurant overall, at 5 million euros with 80 jobs created. They hope to serve between 2,000 and 2,500 sandwiches a day, with a threshold of around 3,000 on busy peak days. The restaurant offers a choice of no less than 16 hot sandwiches — including three new creations for Disney Village such as the delightfully named “Le Frenchy” — all priced at a flat €5.50, while special breakfast sandwiches and kids sandwiches are priced at €3.50. Intriguingly, there’s no set-price “menu” that the Disney counter service restaurants are so fond of — where you have a choice of two meal combinations giving a slight saving — with the Earl instead preferring everyone to piece together their own meal for now, which can also include hot soup, salads and wraps. With this level of choice (roughly four times as many sandwiches as Market House Deli or Blockbuster Café), great presentation and cheaper prices, we hope the Earl also handed out a few free sandwich coupons to Disney’s own restaurateurs.
One week from now, you’ll be able to enjoy your very first Earl of Sandwich meal in Disney Village! It’s been a long wait for this new sandwich chain to open its Disneyland Paris location on the edge of Lake Disney, but now the final touches are being applied inside and out. As the photo taken on Saturday by @InsideDLParis on Twitter above shows, signage is up on both sides of the building, floating stylishly in the middle of the glazing. Pieces of the circular tower and other elements of the façade have finally begun to arrive, at last hiding the steel frames we’ve been watching for months. At the side of the building, the staircase up to the rear terrace is going in. Also of note, the relaid ground in front of the new restaurant. When this was dug up, fans wondered if it might mark the start of a new paving scheme for the Village, but no — it’s the same wavy coloured style as the rest of the street.
The first official photo from inside the restaurant also emerged recently (above), showing an Earl of Sandwich-branded construction helmet in front of the faux-bookcase positioned next to the mezzanine level. This shows good progress towards the final design, which we’ve not posted before, shown below. The main feature as you walk inside will be a huge historic wall map of Europe, centred on England.
And how much will an Original 1762 or Full Montagu cost in Paris? Apparently sandwiches will be set at a flat €5.50 each. That’s around €1.25 more than the $5.99 charged in the US (around $6.35 with tax), and a euro more (based on current rates) than what the Earl is charging in his first European restaurant. Yes, that’s right — although the Disney Village location was touted as Earl of Sandwich’s entry to the European market, it was beaten just this month by a restaurant on Ludgate Hill in the City of London, which is charging £3.95 per sandwich. That’s roughly similar to the many other sandwich and coffee chains lining the same street, which leads up to St Paul’s Cathedral. Still, even if the Disney Village outlet is the most expensive, Earl of Sandwich is still going to be beating Disney’s own counter service sandwiches (priced €6.00 and up) by a neat 50 cents — for freshly-prepared-in-front-you, hot snacks. Better watch out, Disney — the real sandwiches are coming.
Just a couple of weeks ago Rainforest Cafe in Disney Village lost two of its toadstools along with another of the original Festival Disney columns, exposing the bare white walls above its ground floor themeing. We wondered what was planned for the building, and now we have an answer: a “blue sky” idea, but perhaps not the “big thinking” type. Yes, the white wall started turning blue last week, pictured above on Thursday by @InsideDLParis. Initially looking like a gradient effect similar to the Crush’s Coaster façade, a look at the completed paintjob on Saturday by PanoraMagique frequent flyer “manuchao” below shows it to be more of a solid block blue, perhaps designed just to fade into the background.
Another “temporary” fix-up is the last thing Disney Village needs, though this is at least unlikely to provoke such a negative reaction as the coloured “balloons” which sprung up over the Village’s towers and buildings in 2005. Any improvements to this block will be complicated by the fact that Rainforest Cafe only occupies the ground floor, meaning that ideas to retheme the whole height as temple walls, similar to the Downtown Disney Anaheim location, are probably out of the question. Following the announcement of its use as a “consolation” venue for the cancelled Princesses & Pirates Parties, we now also know that no work on a Hurricane’s Discotheque replacement will begin before July at the earliest.
Turn over the latest Guide to the Parks leaflet, updated for the Magical Moments Festival, and there’s a surprise to be found amongst the resort’s Official Partners: Nescafé is no longer the coffee brand of choice for Disneyland Paris! The instant coffee brand owned by Nestlé has been superseded by Italian brand Segafredo Zanetti. Part of the Bologna-based Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group, which sells 120,000 tons of coffee worldwide annually, the Segafredo brand claims to be the Italian market leader and the leading espresso company worldwide. Disney has been criticised in the past for the perceived poor quality of its Nescafé coffee by fans and frequent visitors, who will now be hoping the dropping of this Nestlé brand brings a better-tasting cup to the parks. No changes to the coffee being served have been reported yet, but if your next café tastes more like a real caffè, do let us know!
The sole remaining arm of Nestlé on the list of Official Partners is now Nestlé Waters, suppliers of Vittel and Perrier branded water to the parks. The Swiss corporation was originally one of the most important partners at the opening of the resort. It was largely replaced by Unilever in 2007, the British-Dutch multinational which brought popular brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Miko ice creams to the resort.
In other beverage-related news, the standard prices for drinks at counter and quick service restaurants increased slightly last month to €2.60 for soft drinks (previously €2.50), €2.20 for hot drinks (previously €2.00) and €2.75 for hot drinks with cream (previously €2.50).
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