Monday, 11th April 2011

Earl of Sandwich gets an opening date, Disney Village loses two toadstools and another column

Earl of Sandwich

See anything missing in the photo above? Yes, they’re going to be serving up mushroom soup for months at Rainforest Cafe! Two of the Disney Village restaurant’s three giant toadstools have just been completely demolished to free up space outside the new Earl of Sandwich restaurant. Even more dramatic, another of Frank Gehry’s 36 industrial pillars has been toppled at the same location — the seventh to be removed overall, leaving just 29 remaining.

The view above from the PanoraMagique balloon was captured by “manuchao” on Disney Central Plaza forum and posted with a “before” view by “Festival Disney” on magicforum. Meanwhile Disney Gazette just shared the new, opened-up area as seen from ground level, below.

Earl of Sandwich construction Earl of Sandwich construction

You’d think opening up this view of the bare white building would mean there are impending plans to do something with it, but who knows. Rainforest Cafe currently only occupies the ground floor (hence why the themeing only extended this high) with the upper floor vacant since Hurricanes Discotheque closed for good over a year ago, signs and theming for which still haven’t been removed. The only rumours for replacement so far have been an Italian restaurant or an extension of the Sports Bar. Hopefully this signals some major changes are coming, either way.

As for Earl of Sandwich, the opening date is set: 1st June 2011. Recruitment ads are now up and a website launched, both featuring a new, finalised version of the concept art for the new eatery:

Earl of Sandwich concept art

Large “Earl of Sandwich” lettering is now featured in the middle of the glazing on either side of the building, with the letters due to be curved around the circular tower removed. The bronze band around the building, between the ground floor and mezzanine, now has the company slogans and “Since 1762” imprinted into it and there’s a greater use of red and brown. Rather than a grey wall, the roof is now surrounded by an open railing. We can also see the huge historic map of Europe centring on Great Britain which will fill one whole wall, from floor to ceiling, inside.

VIA manuchao (DCP), VDR (Disney Gazette), Earl of Sandwich

Tuesday, 15th March 2011

More glass, a terrace and even some internal features for Earl of Sandwich

With only around two months to go before the projected May 2011 opening date of Disney Village‘s new Earl of Sandwich restaurant, the first internal features can now be spotted and the glass outer walls appear to have finished installation. These new photos taken this past weekend by Photos Magiques also show a new steel structure on the raised terrace to the left. Inside, the ceiling above the mezzanine level has been fitted, with a circular central feature and lighting arrangement visible from outside.

Even with the glass in place, there’s a lot of work to do for the exterior. Concept art showed a colourful red and yellow pattern in the spaces between the glass, and bronze Earl of Sandwich branding wrapped around the building. Hopefully with large-scale soon finished the walkway to Disney’s Newport Bay Club will reopen to guests as quickly as possible, who currently have to take a lengthy diversion around the other side of Lake Disney.

VIA Photos Magiques

Friday, 11th February 2011

Disney gives 20% off dining outside peak hours… with your Park Programme

Disneyland Paris Park Programme

Pick up a Park Programme under Main Street Station or inside Disney Studio 1 between tomorrow and next Friday and you’ll now get a little more than just the latest show and parade times. This week’s guide has gone full-colour with a New Generation Festival theme and extended in size to feature a new discount voucher, offering a 20% discount at selected restaurants. Valid before 12pm and between 2.30pm and 6pm each day, the special discount can be used at Cowboy Cookout Barbecue, Fuente del Oro Restaurante, Restaurant Hakuna Matata, Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost, Café Hyperion, Au Chalet de la Marionnette, Toad Hall Restaurant and Plaza Gardens Restaurant in Disneyland Park, whilst your choice in Walt Disney Studios Park is between Disney Blockbuster Café and Restaurant des Stars.

Disneyland Paris park guides have always contained a little tip that guests should try to dine during these “off peak” hours for shorter queues, but this is the first time Disney has offered such a tempting bonus for doing so. The savings could be big, especially if you’re with a family. Four people taking the €23.70 Buffet menu at Plaza Gardens Restaurant, for example, would pay €75.84 rather than €94.80 — a considerable saving of €18.96, especially if you’re having to use the still rather unforgiving Pound/Euro exchange rate. And if you’re going to take advantage, did you know DLRP now has fully up-to-date complete menus for all those restaurants listed above? Take a look!

Sunday, 16th January 2011

Digital cheeseburgers arrive at Café Hyperion, on new video screen menus

Café Hyperion

Successfully tested last year at Restaurant en Coulisse, the concept of digital video screens for menu boards has now crossed over to its fast food cousin in Disneyland Park, Café Hyperion. Under the shadow of the Hyperion airship in Videopolis, guests now choose their counter service meals from five LCD monitors mounted above each serving area. The advantage presumably being that, aside from the menus apparently looking more enticing and being better illuminated, they’re easier to update with new food choices — or rather, prices.

Disneyland Paris has led the way with technical innovations like this, the most notable being its two park “Tips Boards”, which use LCD screens linked directly to the turnstile counters at each attraction, while other resorts still use chalkboards and stick-on wait times. However, digital technology in counter service restaurants has arguably been put to much better use around the world — the self-service ordering kiosks at locations such as Disney California Adventure’s Taste Pilot’s Grill, for example, should have been introduced over here long ago, reducing painful wait times at that first ordering stage and of course, providing perfect service in every language.

VIA mouetto (Disney Central Plaza)

Sunday, 16th January 2011

Earl of Sandwich construction goes vertical at newly in-filled Disney Village plot

Earl of Sandwich construction

Just months remain before the projected May 2011 opening of Earl of Sandwich in Disney Village and although things are still looking a long way from completion at the construction site on the edge of Lake Disney, big progress is being made now that the building foundations are complete. In the latest photo above, from manuchao on Disney Central Plaza forum, the huge back “core” of the new counter service restaurant can now be seen at its full height and the raised outdoor terrace, built on land reclaimed from the lagoon, already taking shape.

It’s expected that the ground floor of the rear terrace will house the kitchens and service areas of the deli sandwich chain, whilst the towering rear wall will likely support an elevator, stairs to the first floor mezzanine and amenities such as toilets. Much of the other three walls will be glass and steel, offering a view out over the lake. Earl of Sandwich, founded by the actual 11th Earl of Sandwich, a descendant of the 4th Earl who popularised the sandwich in Great Britain, currently has 13 locations in the United States and is investing over €5 million in this, its first European branch.

Earl of Sandwich

Following several years of rumours, the restaurant was finally revealed in December 2009 and broke ground at a special ceremony with the Earl himself in June last year. With construction walls advertising the opening with a clever “The Sandwiches are Coming!” pun, it is hoped the location will breathe much new life into counter service dining at Disney Village — and perhaps the wider resort — with an emphasis on fresh, healthy, good quality food and, if the restaurant over at Walt Disney World in Florida is a template, some very competitive prices.

VIA manuchao, mouetto (Disney Central Plaza)

Tuesday, 16th February 2010

Pizza Planet to become a Buzz Lightyear buffet

Back in December 2009 there were reports that guests were being surveyed in Videopolis / Hyperion Café about changes to the offering over at Buzz Lightyear’s Pizza Planet, the popular land’s only other restaurant. Currently a counter service location serving pizzas and other American fast food, the questions apparently only suggested an “all you can drink” option for meals costing €15.

Now, sources are stating that the restaurant will become a full “all you can eat” restaurant from July this year. Our friends at Photos Magiques posted the information via Twitter.

To accommodate the changeover, the restaurant will close from 1st April to 30th June 2010, though no further information about the exact changes due to be made is available yet.

Those changes are important to know, because otherwise we’re left wondering…

An all-you-can-eat restaurant, here… ?

Buzz Lightyear's Pizza Planet

There were suggestions with the original rumours that the décor could also be changed or updated in the process, and you’ve got to hope that’s the case. Disneyland Paris gets a bad enough reputation for its high food prices and low quality counter service without suddenly charging a top-up to eat in this tired space.

Whilst the Pizza Planet in the original film is a wondrous, technological space filled with features like those giant drink dispensers and automated pizza-based announcements (yes, they’re a thing…), the Discoveryland equivalent is a black tent with fluorescent strip lights. We attempted to explain why the restaurant is located in a tent out the back of Discoveryland in our earlier article. It was used for a ‘Space Festival’ exhibition during the opening year of Space Mountain and then seized upon for a quick tie-in to the Toy Story films …and here we are more than a decade later.

The date this new format is set to be introduced will of course come as a huge coincidence what with the opening of Toy Story Playland (sometime in “Summer”, still no date) and the première of Toy Story 3, the long-awaited new addition to the series.

Though Toy Story 3 will be big news all over, Toy Story Playland will surely become the real “centre” of all things Woody and Buzz at Disneyland Paris when it opens. Keeping a lacklustre restaurant dedicated to the film hidden away over here in a whole different park, especially when Walt Disney Studios Park will be so lacking dining on its Toon Studio side, is a silly situation for the resort to find itself in.

Toy Story Playland won’t have a single dining location, leaving Toon Studio’s grand total at zero.

Future Discoveryland restaurant
Discoveryland restaurant that never was, or has yet to be?

And, though Discoveryland still needs more dining capacity to take the strain off Hyperion Café, is this place hidden away behind the forgotten Honey, I Shrunk the Audience the best place to achieve that? Will we really never see that planned restaurant right at the entrance to the land, opposite Constellations boutique? Surely a much more tempting prospect.

Perhaps Tour Guide Barbie will drive by and explain the short-sightedness involved on both sides.

Picture by DLRP Today; Concept © Disney.

Tuesday, 2nd February 2010

Is Doc Wassell the miracle cure for Last Chance Café?

Last Chance Café, sandwiched between The Lucky Nugget Saloon and Silver Spur Steakhouse, is undoubtedly one of the less reputable establishments of Thunder Mesa town. The last place were hardy cowboys would stop before setting out on cattle trails, its walls plastered with “Wanted” posters rather than wallpaper, a remnant of the wilder West which is slowly being outlawed as we arrive in Frontierland.

But, when it decided to open up a new terrace in the second half of 2009, fans were initially pleased and then suddenly… disappointed. Whilst the idea makes a lot of sense (providing sheltered seating so it can open for more of the year) and the execution is even surprisingly thorough (countless Western props hanging in the roof space), the wider picture doesn’t quite fit.

The least successful view of the extension is what you see below. Though the new entrance has now been “plussed” further with some very in-keeping lamps, the flat frontage simply looks wrong compared to its neighbours — and what was there before. Compare the detail and “weight” of the original façade, at the back, with the very “flatpack”, cheaper look of the extension. The maroon edges lack the fine detail and the wood panelling appears thin and unweathered.

Last Chance Café

Last Chance Café

Last Chance Café
The original 1992 take-away counter area remains unchanged.

Last Chance Café
The new terrace in a cold and wet Wild West

Last Chance Café
New Western props

Even Alain Littaye offered a critique, which hit the problem spot on:

“But if you look well at this new terrace – and although they put props inside – it doesn’t look like a building which would have grown “organically” out of the buildings right behind it. There is a story with each Thunder Mesa building whether it’s an attraction or a restaurant or a shop. Thunder Mesa is supposed to be a real town and although most of the guests don’t know the stories (unfortunately) they can feel the “logic behind”.”

Alain went on to criticise the props and decoration of the terrace, which yes, whilst all well within the Western style, were lacking in personality. Saddles, ponchos, guns, bottles… all in-keeping with the theme but not exactly pushing it forward, developing the story.

But then, a week or so ago, something — or perhaps, someone — rolled into town to remedy our concerns, a classic bit of Disney plussing and storytelling in action:

Last Chance Café

Last Chance Café

“Doc Wassell’s Travelling Apothecary — Miracle Cures for All Ailments” reads this freshly-painted wagon, positioned between Last Chance Café and Silver Spur.

Insider RiverRogue on magicforum confirmed that the wagon is part of the extension of the café, not just a fun addition. Having been moved around on-stage and backstage for several years, it has been painted up with some brilliant designs to finally find a home.

Last Chance Café

Last Chance Café

So, is Doc Wassell’s little bit of Imagineering gold dust a “miracle cure” for the underwhelming extension itself? That’s up to you. But what we can’t ignore is the changing attitude to ‘Counter Service’ restaurants in the parks recently.

Over at Cowboy Cookout Barbeque, for example, a new menu has been in place for a year now which aims to offer a higher quality and variety of dishes — for an increased price. Where elsewhere the standard charge for a Counter Service main, side, dessert and drink is — gulp — €12.95, here they’re now pushing prices to €15+ for the “improved” Sheriff menu, attempting something closer to a pub restaurant or Nando’s format than fast food burgers.

Last Chance Café

Having Last Chance Café open for more of the year is a great thing, but during rainy, cold times like these, it’s much better to be inside, in the warm, well-Imagineered cafés like Fuente del Oro or Pizzeria Bella Notte. Locations that don’t starve you of an enclosed interior and beautiful themeing just because you’re paying for counter service.

Recent answers to fast food expansion like the new Coca-Cola kiosks L’Arbre Enchanté and Cool Station or any of the trailers at Walt Disney Studios Park, especially La Terrasse Perrier — all have one thing in common, and there’s a danger that by adding a roof, Disneyland Paris will now begin to think of Last Chance as more than just a high season take-away kiosk. That it’s “good enough” to be considered the antidote for what might be need for a new, indoor counter service location as attendance continues to climb and Cowboy Cookout prices people out.

Although at least here, unlike the Studios, the Budgeteers shelled out for the themeing.

Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.

Friday, 11th December 2009

Earl of Sandwich in Disney Village approved & unveiled

If you thought Starbucks changed the vibe of Disney Village or at least gave it a fresh kick, this new British-themed sandwich shop should do the same ten times over.

Not only will it provide a desperately-needed rival to McDonald’s, it’s in a brand new building — an actual addition to the entertainment district — and, looking at these plans and concepts published online by Mouetto at Disney Central Plaza, it’ll have a great Lake Disney view…

Earl of Sandwich in Disney Village

Yes, one of our theories was right!

“A more likely area of this inlet to be filled in would have been the corner between Rainforest Cafe and the bridge, allowing an Earl of Sandwich to use both this and the area vacated by the old carousel, becoming a part of the main thoroughfare.”

Earl of Sandwich in Disney Village

And good thing, too — as the plans seen here confirm, carefully captured at Chessy’s planning department by Mouetto, this brand new, two-storey building will slot snugly into the corner between Rainforest Cafe and the Lake Disney marina, opposite Café Mickey. The footprint will include some of the area vacated by the carousel and then extend out, over the current square of water, in all providing two floors of seating and two separate terraces — one out front at ground level, and another on the first floor at the back, elevated above the water.

Design-wise, it’s a restrained affair, much more in the traditional IMAX/NEX style than the recent Starbucks Coffee eco-meets-Gehry boldness. That means circular corner sections, strong horizontals and a slight Art Deco flair.

Earl of Sandwich in Disney Village

Rather than green, though, the palette here is more of oranges, reds and yellows. The Earl of Sandwich branding, modelled on a vaguely British theme, is modestly portrayed through the red and yellow squares and their placement between the window frames, almost mimicking a traditional Plaid style. The firm’s logo is equally modest, simply their red circular envelope seal design above each door.

The top of the circular section looks to be clad in separate brown pieces, rather than being a flat finish. Overall, it looks like a very successful merging of some very diverse styles, although the pale yellow finish (almost like bathroom tiles) on the exterior wall at the back looks like a strange choice.

From what we can see, the back wall inside appears to depict a giant map, with tables and chairs continuing a red/black theme. However let’s not forget, these smaller design aspects — particularly the interior — could still change from these planning applications. The general layout and footprint will be as seen here.

Earl of Sandwich in Disney Village

Clever use of the space sees the kitchens and service area hidden under the first-floor terrace. This platform — and the whole first floor — will offer a great view over the lake and small bay behind.

Due to its location on the end of the main Disney Village street, this build offered the opportunity to hide the rather unpleasant side of Rainforest Cafe/Hurricanes Discotheque which faces the lake.

Earl of Sandwich in Disney Village

Though the plain white building won’t be completely hidden, at least it won’t be the only thing seen from the opposite shore of the lake, outside Sequoia Lodge. And, placed on the corner here, Earl of Sandwich might just draw a few more people down this end of the Village — not to mention helping to kick-start any further expansion, onwards across the bridge…

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. With the above applications from the Earl stamped and sealed, construction should start in the New Year with the hope of completion by the end of 2010. And whilst that’s happening, nearby PanoraMagique will be the place to go for construction photos. Here’s our “before” shot:

Earl of Sandwich in Disney Village

Now, save us a place on that lovely first floor terrace and we’ll study the menu

Pictures: Disney/Earl of Sandwich (credit to Mouetto), DLRP Today.

Tuesday, 10th November 2009

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Unless you’re about to visit the resort and pick up some of these for real (for €7 at any of the parks’ Christmas market villages), you’ll have to make do with some photos.

And, since you’ll likely just be drooling and/or ordering a larger pair of jeans whilst feasting your eyes on these, we’ll let the pictures — and Thierry Marx — do the talking…

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

His presentation on Main Street explained the concept and the manufacturing process to the press, but where did it all begin? With a little inspiration — from the tried and true sweet traditions already at Disneyland Park

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Then, it was into the kitchen!

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

What attracted you to this new project?

Thierry Marx: “Those childhood memories, that have resurfaced in me, with much pleasure and wonder. For me, arriving at Disneyland Paris, it’s held completely in its own space and time. It’s a break from the daily grind, a real journey for the senses, without any interruption. Anything is possible, everyone can descend into their thoughts and dreams, something very precious.”

Is Disneyland a different world for you?

Thierry Marx: “On the contrary, this experience matched my philosophy. Like Disney, I do not like seeing conflict between tradition and innovation. The establishment can continue to do things. The pleasure of my work lies in the possibility of being at the forefront of innovation, while preserving the French culinary heritage.”

What most inspired you in the world of Disneyland Paris?

Thierry Marx: “The magic, the indulgent pleasure of just enjoying being together in a different world. I’ve always remembered the opening day of Disneyland Paris well. It represents for me the perfect place to recharge your inner childhood batteries. All the worlds intersect… Space Mountain in Discoveryland makes me dream of what I read in the stories of Jules Verne but Disneyland is also fairy tales, Mickey and your earliest childhood.”

How is this experience a reflection of your gastronomic practice?

Thierry Marx: “I want to make the dream. Everyone can share a real culinary experience with this outdoor vending “street food”, even if it is not obvious today. There is a real chance to share in dreams from the kitchen and instigate interaction between people. Best of all: it’s an international principle, there’s no language barrier.”

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Towards the end, Mickey Mouse showed up in his full chefs’ gear, taking all the glory with the final dipping and dusting-off of the finished foods.

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Job done!

Pictures © Disney.

Sunday, 18th October 2009

Contactless payments trial now at resort locations

This “Paiements sans Contact” initiative was first announced back in July and began right on schedule on 3rd October.

How does it work? Unfortunately, it won’t work at all for most of us yet. Although most of us have seen the waterslide advert for Barclaycard’s system, the technology now at Disneyland Paris is currently only open to users who have a (French) bank account with CIC or Crédit Mutuel (who just recently actually became a new official partner of the resort), and have already signed up to a trial of those banks’ early contactless payment schemes.

If you’re lucky enough to qualify for all of that, your new credit card contains a special chip that can be read without contact when lightly touched or flashed across one of the new devices, first caught on camera by Scrooge at Disney Magic Interactive in Walt Disney Studios Store:

Contactless payments trial now at resort locations

This allows users to pay for their Disney shopping — or even better, food — in a second. No fumbling with Euro cent coins, no waiting behind someone as they try every combination of four digits possible. Contactless cards allow instant payments up to a certain, safe amount. Just imagine the effect that could have within a few years on those ugly counter service queues.

You’ll find the trial machines now at the following locations:

Casey’s Corner (Disneyland Park)
Café Hyperion (Disneyland Park)
Chalet de la Marionette (Disneyland Park)
Disney Blockbuster Café (Walt Disney Studios Park)
Club House Grill (Golf Disneyland)

Walt Disney Studios Store (Walt Disney Studios Park)
Goofy’s Pro Shop (Golf Disneyland)

Not that such an innovation needs a carrot to quash any possible stick, but Disneyland Paris are also offering trial users of the scheme an incredibly generous 25% discount at boutiques and 20% discount at restaurants!

Oh, but one more condition of the test — you need an Annual Passport, too.

Phew, we don’t see the man on the waterslide going through all this… but it’s definitely something to watch for the future. Find out all the official information (in French) right here.

Photo: Scrooge.

Subscribe to the Magic!

Ad: Disneyland Paris 30th Anniversary Offers and Deals

Tags & Archives

Twitter Updates

Ad: Disneyland Paris 30th Anniversary Offers and Deals