Thursday, 27th March 2008

Rendez-Vous for a new snack stand?

The new construction walls surround a small patch of grass and pathway right outside the circular “terrace” area of the Art Deco-styled Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant, in the area still currently known as Production Courtyard.

Arriving only last weekend, the work is already confirmed by trusted sources (namely La Rouquine on French forum Disney Central Plaza) to be for a new food kiosk sponsored by Nestlé, possibly using their Nescafé instant coffee brand.


Helpfully, several small holes and gaps in the fences give a better look at the actual work going on behind, as snapped by a reporter for our partner website Photos Magiques.

The foundations appear to almost touch the restaurant, forming a curve around its circular side and jutting out slightly into the street toward Backlot. Depending on the height of the development, it would seem that the ‘Rendez-Vous des Stars’ signage itself could no longer be visible.

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The foundations have a somewhat triangular base, with a sharp edge reaching out to one side of the largest square. A smaller square sits to the right of this, where previously the grass lawn continued around the restaurant.

The space between the restaurant and Walt Disney Television Studios was previously home to one of the many Studio Catering Co. vans on a paved area to the left of this development. It was moved some months ago to sit near La Terrasse Perrier on Hollywood Boulevard.


Nothing about the naming, design or menu of the new food kiosk is currently known.

Last year, Rendez-Vous des Stars upgraded itself from a “buffeteria” service to full pay-as-you-enter buffet service, making it the highest service restaurant in the park — which features just three full dining locations.

This sudden addition to the line-up comes as the park prepares for what is hoped to be a blockbuster Summer, as guests arrive en masse for the Tower of Terror and the park’s struggling food locations face an even greater strain.

[Photos by Photos Magiques; See more in their latest update here!]

Tuesday, 18th March 2008

Rumours abound for new Village eateries

Whilst the look and style of Disney Village has been evolving through a series of enhancement projects in recent years (the latest being the new planters), one thing has remained pretty much stagnant since the opening of King Ludwig’s Castle in 2003 — the choice and availability of dining.

However, amongst all the renewed interest in the Village thanks to the latest enhancements, strong rumours now suggest two small new food locations will almost certainly open within the next year. Information from several members on the French message board Disney Central Plaza suggests that these will be two new, separate buildings — not small stands or kiosks, nor large buildings for the new street next to the IMAX cinema. Instead, they will be slotted into the existing Disney Village area to increase the district’s range of food and capacity.

The current area and carousel, very much unloved by fans

So, which two companies could be involved in these new eateries? Whilst the insiders originally held the information close, it has now emerged that none other than Starbucks could be involved, with rumours even strong enough to suggest that the new location would be behind Rainforest Café, on the site of the current “rainforest carousel” (pictured above).

This would provide enough space for a kitchen and serving area with some, rather limited, seating. It would also make this Starbucks visible from all around the Lake Disney area, perhaps one of the most lucrative locations they’ve ever won in their ongoing world domination.

Example Starbucks franchise

It is expected the design would be overseen by DLP-I, the Paris branch of Imagineering who work on Disney Village projects and most recently completed the PanoraMagique and IMAX developments with a noticeably more discreet and Parisian style than other areas of the Village. With Starbucks‘ branding being much subtler than other chains, the two could fit together well for a welcome lake-side coffee shop.

But what for that second new eatery? The admin of Disney Central Plaza, Grandmath, promised that at least one of the two was already operating at Walt Disney World. Since there are no Starbucks franchises on Disney’s Florida property, the second location must surely be the Orlando import.

Indeed, current rumours, again very strong and from reliable sources, point to an Earl of Sandwich opening at Disney Village. Think of this as a more exclusive, slightly upmarket version of high street-favourite Subway. No location for the second building has been rumoured, and no tentative dates for construction of either have yet been given.

With the new planters, a sandwich shop and a coffee shop, Disney Village could well morph from its metallic, hung-over past to a pleasant, leafy place to spend a lazy afternoon. We’ll have a Strawberries & Cream Frappuccino and a Tuna Melt, please.

Yes, we can wait.

[Photos: DLRP Today and dontthink.feel on Flickr]

Sunday, 25th November 2007

Half Board goes premium

The first announcement comes in the new UK brochure for Winter/Summer 2007/08, which adds to Half Board Standard and Half Board Plus with Half Board Premium. Whilst the system was originally introduced to provide guests with a more affordable way to experience more than the plain burgers and plastic salads of the resort’s counter service restaurants, the new tier now gives complete freedom at all the top-class restaurants, for a… premium.

Plan details and pricing in GBP£

Next to the affordable £13 per night for Half Board Standard and just £17 for the extended Half Board Plus (including restaurants up to the level of Walt’s), the new Premium offering comes in at a heavy £31 per adult per night.

However, with these vouchers valid in all table service and buffet restaurants, not to mention for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show (saving around £3 for adults or an amazing £16 for children) and character meals, they could prove a bargain for some. Child prices at a standard £10 per night are certainly reasonable. Clearly, though, you would have to be eating at a top-class eatery every night of your stay to make the most of the £31.

Full-page for “where you can eat”

For the first time, the brochure actually includes a full listing of the restaurants allowed for each level of the Half Board Meal Plans system. Note the first inclusion of Agrabah Café Restaurant (and the strange double-wording in the official title there) in an official publication.

The “magic” of Half Board is that whilst guests mostly do get a very good deal on their meals, buying into one of the meal plans with their booking guarantees the resort that those guests will be eating — and paying for — table service-level restaurants each night of their stay. Many visitors might otherwise have saved a table service meal for just one “special” night of their trip.

Wednesday, 14th November 2007

Agrabah Café re-opens with 1001 delights

The re-opening of the restaurant was first rumoured back in August, with work beginning inside the restaurant just several weeks later to return it to daily operations. Cleaning, repairs and new modifications to the area, which, prior to 1999, was actually an indoor alley with several small shops, were all scheduled, and the faded entrance sign was repainted in brighter and more exotic colours.

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Speculated at the time of the first rumours was the possibility of the restaurant becoming the first “Half Board only” dining option at the resort — an exclusive location for guests using Disney’s discounted meal vouchers which have proven popular since their launch just 12 months ago. The final decision, however, will no doubt be more popular — the restaurant is available for all guests, with only a slight priority reportedly given to Half Board users at peak times.


The menu is an all-you-can eat buffet with oriental and Mediterranean specialties, including starters, main courses and deserts, but not including drinks (except for the children’s menu). Highlights include Shoarma, cinnamon rice, fish and baked spice potatoes, amongst regular fare such as pasta and lasagna.

Priced at €21 for adults and €10 for children, it’s an affordable addition to the park’s menu of restaurants and is expected to take some strain off Plaza Gardens Restaurant, particularly over the busy — and cold — Christmas season.


The atmosphere inside has been captured by our friends at Photos Magiques in a special video tour:

This enchanting location, locked away for over five years, has finally broken its spell cast by the early-2000s cuts. Coming as it does towards the end of the remarkable events of 2007, the reopening of Agrabah Café could be considered the crown on a magnificent turnaround for resort in recent years.

And those who’ve tried it say it’s rather delicious, too.

— You can find a full gallery of new photos from the restaurant over at Photos Magiques.

Sunday, 16th September 2007

Rendez-Vous des… Rats?

Imagine if we’d have been told a year ago that Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant would relaunch with a buffet themed to rats — complete with themed costumes, new posters, plush toy decorations and descriptions of each dish with a picture of the key rat himself!

Well, that Pixar magic can do funny things to the public. Now, the unexpected addition of a light Ratatouille flavour to the park’s first all-you-can-eat buffet seems like a wonderful idea — not least considering the film’s huge success in France.

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The changes took place literally overnight, with all the previous cafeteria menus being covered with Ratatouille-themed advertisements for the new buffet and various views from inside the kitchen of Gusteau’s, the restaurant featured in the film.

For the launch of the new buffet, Cast Members were given costumes a little similar to those seen at the Disneyland California pre-parade and the Ratatouille Big Cheese Tour, both promotional events in the US. It’s unknown whether this new buffet is part of a deal with Buena Vista International, Disney’s film distrubution arm, similar to the Cars and Ratatouille billboards and posters covering Disney Studio 1.

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Have you tried the new buffet already? Take a moment to share your thoughts at our new partner site, DLRP Review, where in just a few clicks you can be given the magic wand to rate and review everything at Disneyland Resort Paris. Click here to rate the new buffet >>

Ratatouille is due for release in the UK (and several other European countries treated with slow service) in October, and is already being given a big marketing push by Rémy’s more mousy rodent friends.

All photos featured by Photos Magiques. See more here.

Thursday, 16th August 2007

Agrabah Café to reopen, but not for street rats

Adventureland Bazaar is a world of secrets, a mysterious, mythical place to Disneyland Resort Paris fans. If you weren’t a fan before 1998, you’ve probably never seen the covered Arabian alley of small shops and beautiful details as it was originally intended. If you weren’t even a fan before the early 2000s, no doubt the entire area is a hidden treasure in your mind…


Agrabah Café opened in the more spectacular, Northern buildings of Adventureland Bazaar in 1999, a new buffet restaurant to increase capacity for the increase in visitors since the 5th Anniversary. No longer would guests be able to stroll along the covered alley and browse in small boutiques such as L’Echoppe d’Aladdin and La Reine des Serpents — now, the entire covered shopping district would be a unique 1001 Nights-inspired dining area.

Unfortunately, the same Jay Rasulo-led pre-Walt Disney Studios Park era which brought us the closure of the River Rogue Keelboats and downturn in upkeep eventually caused Agrabah Café to close — taking the chance of a glimpse at its beautiful setting with it. Aside from rare press events and the single-day opening each year on 31st December, the only way to see this exceptional location has been through some small glass windows in the remaining Les Trésors du Shéhérazade boutique…

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Tempted by this teaser? Luckily, this won’t be one for our Wish List. Our partners at magicblog announced earlier this week confirmation that Agrabah Café will finally reopen for good from 6th November 2007! The restaurant will be open daily from 11.30am to 4pm, another item successfully ticked off the “to do” list by Karl Holz’ management.

But wait… with an exceptional location like this, why open it for just any old street rats? Indeed, from the outset you won’t be able to stroll into Agrabah Café and grab a bite to eat — you’ll need to be one jump ahead — specifically, in possession of some Half Board Meal Plan vouchers! Yes, Agrabah Café will be the first “Half Board-only” restaurant in the entire resort, meaning that you’ll need to have bought the pre-pay vouchers in advance and therefore have also booked yourself into a Disney Hotel.

Clever, don’t you think?

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However, it’s unlikely making Agrabah CaféHalf Board-only” is intended to tempt more people onto the system. Rather, this is the surest sign yet that the Half Board Meal Plans — introduced less than a year ago in November 2006 — have proven to be a huge success. Guests save up to 15% on their meals, but for Disneyland even these discounted table or buffet service restaurant rates are a bonus when the guests might have otherwise snacked on a quick meal from Casey’s Corner, rather than eat table service every day.

This move follows the transition of Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant in Walt Disney Studios Park from a self-service to full buffet service, on a par with Plaza Gardens Restaurant, therefore providing better value for “Half Boarders” used to fancier service in the park next door.

As for Agrabah Café, you never know — there might well be a few moments when the remaining “street rats” among us can sneek inside, to help fill up capacity.

Tuesday, 31st July 2007

More gaps filled at Walt Disney Studios

…And, in classic Walt Disney Studios Park style, they did it on budget with just a bit of clever thinking.

Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant becomes Buffet Service

Like Disneyland Park in the early nineties, a simple change of service can solve the restaurants problem. Luckily, this doesn’t mean downgrading a restaurant (such as Explorer’s Club to Colonel Hathi’s), but rather turning the park’s “highest” class restaurant – the Art Deco cafeteria-style Rendez-Vous des Stars into a fixed-price unlimited buffet.

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The original idea was that the restaurant served as the dining place for the more prestigious stars and directors during their time at Walt Disney Studios. However swanky the interior, though, there’s only so much magic you can get from a canteen-service. As a Buffet Service from 27th August 2007, the restaurant will provide one menu price of € 23 and a dining quality very similar to that of Plaza Gardens Restaurant at Disneyland Park. Quite a step up for the actors and crew of the Studios!

Since the restaurant is already set up with long serving counters, the change will likely take place overnight at the end of the Summer season. Et VoilàWalt Disney Studios finally has a buffet service!

Toon Studio’s first merchandise location!

It’s bizarre that as the park’s most popular land, filled with popular and marketable Disney and Pixar characters, Toon Studio has before now only had the Disney Animation Gallery to its name – a boutique so small you fear for your life (or at least wallet) every time you try to navigate around the delicate glass ornaments and snow globes. Meanwhile, groups of large retail trucks populate areas such as Disney Bros. Plaza and Backlot.

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The balance has begun to shift – again in typical “small budget but clever thinking” Walt Disney Studios style. The sligthly barren piece of courtyard between Animagique and Flying Carpets Over Agrabah is now finally home to a brand new retail location. Simple in design, but nestled amongst the trees with colours and a curved roof matching Disney Studio 3 itself. The location is clearly more along the lines of “La Petite Maison des Jouets” in Fantasyland, though currently without its own name.

If you’ve ever spotted those merchandise trucks in Backlot, the sheer quantity of merchandise hanging out in the street might have given you the feeling of being at some kind of jumble (rummage) sale. Strangely, the Toons are being much more restrained with the amount of goods on their shelves, and the location even appears to be slightly understocked.

Now they have a place to sell merchandise, and have seen the hundreds of guests running to Crush’s Coaster each morning, will they finaly realise the Studios could have a mega franchise to exploit, and make some more merchandise? Not everyone can fit into a 7-year old’s T-shirt, after all…

Toon retail photos by Maarten on magicforum.

Friday, 20th April 2007

Suzy & Perla’s royal invitation

Introduced on 31st March, the new 48€ set menu for adults replaces the previous buffet costing just 22€ – a surprisingly low amount considering the atmosphere and themeing of the restaurant inside. The real draw for this new concept, though, is the character experience. Offering a spin on the usual ‘Character Dining’, guests are welcomed by Suzy and Perla to the Inn before enjoying a meal in the cosy surroundings as Princes and Princesses dance to music and mingle with their guests.

Les Fantasies de Susy et Perla – Menu

Adult Menu (includes drinks) – 48 €

Prince’s Cocktail
Cinderella’s Cocktail
Salmon Gravlax with dill
The Royal Dish (fois gras)
Loin of veal with morel mushroom sauce
Pikeperch fillet with spicy hypocras sauce
Tortellini 4 cheese sauce with vegetables
Cinderella’s Slipper
Water, Wines & Coffee included

A children’s menu for those aged 3 to 11 is also available for 20€ including one drink, with a tomato and mozerella starter, choice of chicken breast, fish or tortellini main dish and the famous Cinderella Slipper for dessert.

The menu is now advertised outside on colourful new signage, whilst Photos Magiques recently took a lunch break inside to discover the new atmosphere – and meet some famous royalty…

Although appearing quite an enchanting option, the new menu will likely cause problems for anyone wishing to dine at l’Auberge with their Half Board Meal Plan vouchers. As members on our MagicForum found out, the restaurant now requires two of the 24€ vouchers for Half Board-ers, quite misleading for anyone booked on the money-saving system before the sudden change with the intention of eating here.

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