Tuesday, 2nd March 2010

Two more New Gen TV spots and the ‘Making Of’

As reported with the exclusive posting of the full 40 second TV spot yesterday, there are five different formats for the New Generation Festival television campaign in the UK — including two 30 second adverts and three 10 second spots.

First, we’ll share the 10 second ‘Announcement’ spot that has been played the most heavily so far and actually features the little-seen Incredibles, simply announcing that the New Generation Festival is landing at Disneyland Paris from 2nd April, without a single special offer or call to action at the end:

The idea here is to build interest in the campaign without giving everything away.

Next, Version B of the 30 second spot is worth noting because it’s the only UK advert that features the Lightning McQueen/Cinderella pair-up we saw in the stills posted last week:

Perhaps, now that “cheapquels” like Cinderella 3 have been put to bed, we’ll be seeing Disney branching out with unexpected crossover movies, beginning with the long-awaited “McCindy” (as the gossip rags are calling the couple) romantic comedy. No?

The other 30 second version of the commercial uses the shots of Toy Story Playland where this Lightning McQueen scene is, whilst the two additional 10 second adverts focus on the Kids Under 7 and Save 40% offers respectively, none featuring any real additional or alternate footage.

At the weekend, Disneyland Paris released some ‘Making Of’ photographs from the production of the commercials. Motion Theory, based in California, naturally took to the sun-kissed lands of the original Disneyland Resort in Anaheim to film the outdoor scenes — or rather its second gate, California Adventure.

Here we see the camera set-up to capture the leading float of the park’s Pixar Play Parade (which would have actually been perfect for Paris this year) being paraded through Hollywood Pictures Backlot:

New Generation Festival TV Spot

This photo of the clapperboard confirms Mathew Cullen and Christopher Leone to be the directors:

New Generation Festival TV Spot

Mathew Cullen co-directed the Black Eyed Peas’ recent Grammy award winner for Best Music Video, whilst Christopher Leone tweeted a link to our video of the TV spot yesterday saying “Looks like the UK version of our Disneyland Paris commercial is already on YouTube”. Well, we don’t waste any time!

New Generation Festival TV Spot

Did you spot Nemo falling from the sky? That fishbowl wasn’t animated, it was hung by wire in front of a chroma key bluescreen, with Nemo animated inside to get as realistic a look as possible!

New Generation Festival TV Spot

Finally, the RC Racer scene where Donald Duck rides this new halfpipe attraction required the construction of a giant mock-up of the final vehicle, RC himself. The actors screamed as the camera rose and fell towards them, bluescreen behind, ready for Donald to be animated into the empty seat.

New Generation Festival TV Spot

The ride vehicle of the finished attraction will probably be slightly different in appearance, and will definitely have far more (though still relatively few) seats — 20 compared to the 6 here.

• You can find all the commercials on our YouTube channel. Favourite and share them with friends!

Videos and photos © Disney, © Disney/Pixar.

Monday, 1st March 2010

Watch the full New Generation Festival TV spot!

If those stills from the epic new Disneyland Paris TV spot whet your appetite and you’ve yet to catch the ad on any of the major broadcasters in the UK, we’ve got a treat.

The full, 40 second commercial for the New Generation Festival. Enjoy:

Produced by Motion Theory — whose past credits include Honda, McCain, Nintendo and music videos such as Adele’s Chasing Pavements — for the resort’s agency EuroRSCG, this spectacular advert combines live action footage filmed in California with all-new animation of Disney and Pixar stars.

You’ll be seeing it for the next month across all the major TV networks. As well as this full 40 second version, you’ll see two 30 second versions and three 10 second spots, which we’ll be sharing soon!

In the UK, the commercials are trailing a new ‘Save up to 40% plus Kids under 7 stay and play Free’ offer, a quite unexpected return to such heavy discounting — the validity period even running right up to 8th November. Pushed with such a professional and genuinely exciting TV spot, Disneyland Paris looks set to be making quite a big impression in the UK over the next few months, as it attempts to win back the visitors lost through the credit crisis and poor exchange rates.

TV spots and advertising should launch outside the UK from next week, 8th March.

Video © Disney, Disney/Pixar.

Wednesday, 24th February 2010

New Generation Festival TV spot in pictures

Launching on 1st March (next Monday) in the UK and around the rest of Europe soon after, the TV commercial opens as the New Generation characters and stars begin falling from the sky (from a Dinoco helicoper!), descending over the classic fairytale worlds of Disneyland Park…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

The advert is a mix of live action backgrounds with both computer and hand-drawn animation. Some of the characters have a less than perfect landing — Sulley falls straight through the thatched roof of the dwarves’ cottage…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

Giving Snow White and guests, not to mention the monster himself, a sudden surprise…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

Lightning McQueen, meanwhile, lands on the parade route, just missing Cinderella’s carriage.

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

The princess seems to take it all in her stride…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

And watches on as Princess Tiana joins her exclusive circle of friends…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

And then, what will be the most pored-over image of the whole commercial — a rather “playful” representation of Toy Story Playland. Donald Duck rides a (very oversized!) RC Racer up into the sky with Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop in the background, as Buzz Lightyear flies overhead…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

The final shot shows the new and old joining together in a grand parade…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival TV spot

Whilst Goofy is pictured riding atop the opening float from Pixar Play Parade at Disney’s California Adventure (the parade that has been suggested may come to our Studios at some point), there’s little mention of the actual New Generation Festival events mentioned in brochures and press releases, such as Disney Showtime Spectacular on Central Plaza Stage.

There’s a chance that the use of Nemo and Lighting McQueen could make even several year-old attractions like Crush’s Coaster (which wasn’t all that heavily advertised upon opening) seem a part of the “new generation” offerings, for less frequent visitors.

The commercial was produced in California and features original animation of the characters involved. After the uninspiring balloons of Mickey’s Magical Party, the presence of a real narrative here, of the characters landing in the parks amongst classic set pieces, appears to be one of the best-executed campaigns from Disneyland Paris for some time, even in stills.

Keep your eyes peeled on major terrestrial and digital channels in the UK from Monday, with the “heavyweight” campaign running in several time lengths and formats right up to 4th April.

Images © Disney, Disney/Pixar.

Tuesday, 16th February 2010

Parachute Drop adds more pieces to the skyline

Our previous construction update on the Parachute Drop of future Toy Story Playland provoked an unprecedented response. In one corner of the playroom, those apparently disgusted by the appearance of this steel pylon in a Disney theme park. In the other, those who are just pleased to see some new rides finding their way into the Studios.

A couple of weeks later, construction has progressed quite a bit more and our photo reporter Dlrpteam has captured some new angles showing how the tower fits into the existing park.

Stepping out of Disney Studio 1 into our mini Hollywood Boulevard

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

…no Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop here. Even as you continue up the short stretch of street already in place, the façades built in 2007 are thankfully towering enough to completely block out any visual intrusion from a certain structure behind Art of Disney Animation on the right.

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

In fact, you only see the camouflage-patterned tower once you reach the junction with ‘Vine Street’, the route which crosses diagonally in front of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Here it looms large ahead, yet to be joined by the 25-metre orange halfpipe of RC Racer.

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

Although, at least in the first photo above, the view could be completely hidden simply by adding another piece to the right of that flat cut-out backdrop.

Since the last update, all six of the winch mechanism platforms are now fixed in place atop of the tower, giving it a far more solid look — if not exactly “toy-like” at present.

They’re painted in a similar green to the camouflage spots on the tower itself and will hold the cables of each parachute, feeding them down the tower itself into the ride machinery which “bounces” the parachutes up and down. Note also in the other photos here that the steel framework of the Slinky Dog and Toy Soldiers queue buildings have been painted a similar dark green.

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

Speaking of those parachutes, WDSfans finally got confirmation of the actual ride capacity, which we’ve been unsure of for a while. While the main Toy Story Playland concept art showed parachutes with three seats back-to-back (total 6), other concepts and models showed a set-up more alike Jumpin’ Jellyfish at Disney’s California Adventure, with only 2 seats per parachute. Luckily, that original concept art was accurate — there will be SIX seats per parachute, in rows of three back-to-back, adding up to a grand total of 36 riders per cycle.

This means that with just one (unsightly?) tower, the ride will have a capacity much larger than the 24 riders held by two towers in California, which has to be a good thing. The ride cycle itself will run for exactly 1 minute in Paris, compared with 1 minute 30 seconds for Jumpin’ Jellyfish, increasing throughput and further shortening queue times, which had been a big concern for many.

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

With capacity perhaps not such an issue after all, that (for now) just leaves the looks and height of the tower to be questioned. Whilst the Parachute Drop is quite neatly hidden and almost unnoticable through the thick gardens of Tower of Terror (above and below)…

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

…The least flattering angle looks to be the view from the side of Tower of Terror, across the always-unappealing tarmac of the Studio Tram Tour loading area, as pictured below:

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

But what about when Hollywood Boulevard finally expands? Of course, that’s probably years away, but with a boulevard slicing through here bringing towering new buildings either side, the Parachute Drop would be easily hidden from this angle and many others. Think about it.

Just like the Toy Soldiers, Walt Disney Imagineering surely have their mission all planned out, right?

Pictures by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today.com

Thursday, 4th February 2010

Toy Soldiers unboxed as Parachute Drop climbs

And so, Toy Story Playland really is coming.

Groundworks, foundations and queue buildings have been worked on for months already, but this is our first real look at the “look” of this new mini-land. And a first look for any Hong Kong fans, too.

These pictures from yesterday caught Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop just as it was topping out, being pieced together from large, tubular sections just like a toy set.

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

From this angle next to Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, it fits in quite well, doesn’t it? No? OK…

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

Our photo reporter Dlrpteam even caught the moment the construction crews, after about two hours of confusion and checking under all their tables and chairs twice over (“Well it must be here somewhere!”), found that last important piece — at the bottom of the box all along…

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

In fact, this is just one of several pieces which will hold the all-important rope/wire of our parachutes — note the wheel at the back, for feeding it down the tube into the ride mechanism.

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

The Parachute Drop tower is a considerable height, touching 25-30 metres, roughly as high as the front body of Tower of Terror. Now just about up to its full height, it can be seen between Studios 1 and 2 as you enter the park — and from the end of Hollywood Boulevard.

But it’s not the first piece of the Toy Story Playland playset to make an impact on the park. Even before the Parachute Drop tower, the queue buildings for Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin, RC Racer and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop itself have grown as concrete and steel shells, becoming hard to ignore in the still rather plain landscape of the Studios…

Toy Story Playland

Above, the box of Slinky Dog has its ends ripped open, whilst below, RC Racer is due to be accompanied by a collection of Hot Wheels-style garages and playset buildings.


Whatever you call this Imagineering creation — Toy Story Playland or plain Toy Story Land of Hong Kong — both names have unfortunately become poison in the Disney fan world. When the concepts were shown at the D23 Expo last year, they even apparently drew audible boos and unhappiness. Blog upon blog and countless forum comments have trashed the development at every turn.

It’s lacking in imagination, it’s cheap, it’s ugly, it’s just for kids… they say. And that’s before you even get into the lack of a restaurant, toilets or a shop (in the Paris version, at least). Or the minuscule capacity of sure-fire hit RC Racer.

Being the first piece that all Disney fans in the world will see of this development, the Parachute Drop tower is unlikely to win over anyone just yet. It’s unashamedly in-your-face — its plastic, simplistic pattern clashing completely with the course the park appeared to be heading with when it opened Hollywood Boulevard.

But — perhaps ignoring the bright orange Hot Wheels track of RC Racer — that’s the “worst” over with. From here, the land will be filled with a huge variety of props, details and in-jokes from the Toy Story films, all surrounded by 5 metre tall bamboo plants, like you see in Adventureland, to double up as tall grass. Should we be worried, or should we even be excited?

Since this project got going while DLRP Today was offline last year, it’s snowballed. From the original rumours to the Hong Kong clone, there’s a lot to catch up on now. And with the Parachute Drop now standing alongside Tower of Terror and the Sorcerer’s Hat, there’s no chance of leaving it on the “To Do” list any longer.

To be continued…

Photos by Dlrpteam for DLRP Today (1-7: 3rd Feb; 8-9: 16th Jan)

Saturday, 9th January 2010

New Generation characters take over 2010 tickets

If Disney needed any more reminding that their own Walt Disney Animation Studios didn’t have a great past decade, this set of 12 — count ’em! — new tickets celebrating the most popular recent characters actually feature no less than 10 stars from their friends at Pixar. Only Stitch and Princess Tiana made the cut from Disney.

Here they are, all fresh and colourful:

New Generation characters take over 2010 tickets

Naturally, the characters of Toy Story — Woody, Buzz Lightyear, the Little Green Men, the Toy Soldiers, Slinky Dog and RC — take up the majority of the designs, if even guests during the first few months of the festival won’t be able to get anywhere near their new rides.

Following the rather dull tickets of Mickey’s Magical Party and even duller sets of tickets for the seven years before that, it’s easy to say these are probably the best passports to the magic we’ve seen in some nine of ten years, back to when The Tarzan Encounter and Disney’s Imaginations Parade were gracing the designs.

It’s also great to see such a large number of designs, even in the age of the print-at-home E-ticket. As anyone who enjoys the memorabilia over at Euro Souvenirland can tell you, it’s all this extra bumph which makes Disneyland more special, giving you new logos, designs and styles to remember each year by.

Since the arid, samey years in the middle of the past decade, Disneyland Paris has — kicked back into action by the 15th Anniversary — gradually moved back to this more exciting, constantly-evolving stream of theme years. The name change back to “Disneyland Paris” seems to have helped further, harking back to the golden days of 1995-98 — although on these new tickets that all-important logo is painfully small.

And though a good 40% of visitors will understand L’Année de la Nouvelle Génération, the rest of us will know it by our own local name. Alternating the logo between French and English might have been a better compromise.

Images © Disney/Pixar.

Sunday, 22nd November 2009

New Generation of brochures for Summer 2010

What is it about brochures and Disneyland Paris? No other group of Disney fans gets so excited or worked up about their resort’s promotional materials as us, but here are again, about to pour over every page of New Generation Festival detail. Or rather, the Disney new generation festival, as it now has to be written. But more on that later…

We naturally begin with the cover, where the prophecies were correct — it’s the image of Buzz Lightyear parachuting in behind the festival logo, which is far more prominent than even the Disneyland Paris logo, as the other characters are arranged, fridge magnet-like, behind.

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

At the bottom, “Landing from April 2010“, with not only a thin typeface but a mixture of bold and light weights together. It’s all very modern, this.

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

But maybe we should be happy. Look back at the advertising styles from 1992 and they were completely fitting for the period, all colourful shapes and crisp white backgrounds. Maybe it’s a great thing that the resort is being contemporary, rather than continuing the dull fantasy-styles we saw earlier this decade.

And so we see the “Programme of events” above, with the various new additions for this theme year thankfully sorted into neat categories so that prospective guests can see what’s worth bothering with (attractions) and what’s more a load of puff (stars). Indeed, we’ve still yet to find out just how the Monsters Inc. Scream Academy can be considered “new”, given that it was added in 2006.

This is also our first encounter with lower case madness. Normally, it’s the done thing to use capital letters in the name of a show or event — like Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop. But as we’ve touched upon in the past, and is now confirmed here, the ‘Disney new generation festival’ won’t be following those boring old rules, oh no! So, very much helping the grammar of our text messaging generation, we’ll be welcoming not ‘Disney Showtime Spectacular’ but Disney showtime spectacular. Not ‘Disney All Stars Express’ but Disney all stars express.

It wouldn’t be noticeable, but this strange stylistic choice is forced into every instance of these names. It’s probably meant to look fresh and hip, but it ends up looking like they forgot to hire a proofreader, we’re sorry to say…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Neurotic grammatical asides complete, the look of this brochure is very pleasing. You’ll see very few actual images of Disneyland Paris in here, but yes it looks very smart — a definite step up from the horribly garish second brochure for Mickey’s Magical Party we’re leaving behind.

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Nope, no pictures yet…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Still waiting…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Nice to see the chopped-up image of Tiana and Naveen on the parade float made it through quality control…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Ahaa! Pictures!!

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Yes, we’re spoiled a full three real images from within Disneyland Park (including the Castle background). Surrounding those, a Cinderella picture (from Walt Disney World), a false Space Mountain: Mission 2 promo picture and the doctored Disney all stars express promo image.

You can’t be down about this lack of photography for long though, or worry too much that the brochures continue towards being just catalogues of Disney character stock images, because the next page is rather stunning…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Not only is this (mostly) a real photo — and a beautiful photo at that — no, finally the powers that be have discovered Hollywood Boulevard. The gorgeous little street has been there for two years already and now it’s being utilised and advertised for the first time. Normally, you’d see nothing of the Walt Disney Studios Park exteriors in the brochures, only the insides of attractions.

Add to that some character stock images which almost look to be tailored specifically to this page and we’ve got one of the best brochure pages for years. And it might just be the matching colour palettes, but Woody and Slinky feel quite at home next to that logo there.

Alas, with every up, there’s a down. After that terrible use of a real photo, this is the centrepiece of their Toy Story Playland launch…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

It’s a shame Disneyland Paris don’t appear to want to make concept art public these days, because the ‘TSPL’ artwork is arguably a million times more endearing than this collection of visual junk, inspired by your local crèche.

The second Walt Disney Studios Park page is good enough, with the investment in this park now adding up to a very marketable, colourful set of attractions.

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Park seasons appear to get a bigger showing this time, with a full double-page detailing everything from Summer Time (finally branded into a proper season) to the, er, British Festival at Disney Village, where you can see, first-hand… a British Mini! No, really!

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Rearing its head again here, though: the marketeers’ disgust for poor old Sleeping Beauty Castle. Since opening day its been mirrored, warped and chopped up to fit their visions. This must be one of the most drastic yet, covering the entire front window with one of the turrets from the side.

Note here and in the image on page 13, at least, that the Castle is decoration free… or almost decoration-free. When editing the spire tops out of that photo above, Tinkerbell was left in place, along with the piping leading up the main tower. Just the choice of the marketing department, or a sign that this decoration is due to cling on?

Next, Hotels = Aliens.

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

The hotel pages have seen the biggest changes in this new brochure, with the usual format of a white background and one large image replaced by this, “immersive”, style…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Colours, designs and furniture from each hotel dress each page fully, attempting to give us a “feel” of the hotels more than accurate pictures. Each page features only two real images — the view of the hotel out the window and a tiny view in a picture frame — but the style is clever.

In any case, these pages are likely only a teaser — anyone really looking into spending vast sums of money on Disney Hotels surely goes online to find more photos anyway, right?

Davy Crockett Ranch is also presented well, with a view of the cabins inside and out…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Whilst the Selected and Associated Hotels seem to be given more prominence than usual, with their more discreet design touches used to create the same effect…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Maybe they should offer real parachuting lessons beyond the parks…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Although lessons may not be necessary, if even an inanimate Starbucks mug can manage it.

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Yes, the coffee chain is now very much a feature of Disney Village, whilst Mickey and Friends will continue to cameo in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show for at least 12 months more (and in fact, there’s no reason to see that this isn’t permanent now).

Much as the constant character clip-art is off-putting for people who’d prefer to see the majesty of Thunder Mesa and the intricate detailing of Fantasyland, at least this “new generation” really has ushered in a refreshingly different set of characters to be featured throughout the brochure.

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Not only Rémy but Chef Gusteau feature on the restaurants page, whilst little-seen Princess Dot pops up on the leisure and relaxation page, yes really — a character from A Bug’s Life!

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure


Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

And the new resort map, complete with well-placed Google Earth 3D plug.

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Hamm is a fitting choice for the Price Guide…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

Whilst the “5 Steps” page attempts to simplify the booking process…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

…but perhaps the colours make the text a little hard to read.

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

The price guide pages themselves are mostly unchanged…

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

And there we go.

Disneyland Paris New Generation Festival Brochure

It’s a definite step up from the last, very disappointing, off-putting brochure, but say it once, say it again — there’s still not enough “Disneyland Paris” in here. Not enough real photos, real information or real feeling for the place between all the thousands of character images.

Perhaps, with the internet, it doesn’t matter. In a few seconds you can find a great site like Photos Magiques. But picking this clip art catalogue up off the shelf, will most people actually bother to go that far?

We all know the place we visit — the amazing lands, the fantastic rides, the beautiful sights and the escapist themeing. What place are they thinking about?

• Download the full PDF Brochure (16.6Mb).

Images © Disney, Disney/Pixar.

Friday, 13th November 2009

Euro Disney reports €63m loss, flat attendance

This was never going to be a fairytale ending. Coming out of the hugely successful two-year 15th Anniversary, being hit by the worst economic crisis, some say, in memory and having no new attractions after a recent period of heavy investment.

However, with attendance up by 100,000 guests and swift cost reductions put in place, Euro Disney SCA appears to have weathered the storm. The damage is this: a net loss of €63m, 3.6% sliced off hotel occupancy and overall revenues down by 7%.

Near-constant discounting by as much as 40% off package prices clearly has taken a toll, as expected, with Hotel and Disney Village revenues being sliced by 8% — that’s a huge €40.9m. Equally, the wake-up call of the economic crisis has clearly made guests reassess their spending, down 5% to €44.22. A €2 dip per person might not seem a lot, but for every person passing through the gates, it contributes heavily towards another €27.6m negative.

The main points of the results are therefore:

• Attendance of 15.4 million with an 87% hotel occupancy rate
• Revenues decreased 7% to € 1,231 million, driven by a decline in guest spending
• Net loss of € 63 million, as lower revenues were partially offset by a 2% reduction in costs and expenses
• Generated Free Cash Flow, ending the year with € 340 million in cash and cash equivalents
• Opening of Toy Story Playland at the Walt Disney Studios® Park in 2010

Yes, you read that right — Toy Story Playland, being officially announced by Euro Disney SCA! So now we can be wholly sure this isn’t the “most committed disinformation campaign ever”. But, as attraction announcements go, it’s a whispered admittance indeed, being detailed later only under the New Generation Festival heading of “update on recent and coming events”:

New Generation Festival

In April 2010, Disneyland® Paris will launch the New Generation Festival, a celebration welcoming the most recent Disney characters into the Parks. Remy from Ratatouille, Princess Tiana from the upcoming Disney animated feature The Princess and the Frog and many more characters arrive at Disneyland Paris. These new characters will be showcased in the Once Upon a Dream Parade, Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars and on the Disney all stars express.

During the celebration in summer 2010, the Walt Disney Studios® Park will welcome three new family attractions in Toy Story Playland, inspired by the animated Disney-Pixar feature Toy Story. With oversized decor, guests will have the impression that they’ve been reduced to the size of Andy’s toys as they come to life in Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin and RC Racer.

Any other Disney resort would have accompanied this release with concept art or splashy press releases filled with quotes from Imagineers about how this land will redefine the universe. Perhaps we should be glad Euro Disney SCA take such a solemn attitude to new attractions? At least CEO Philippe Gas is excited, and pleased about the group’s performance in the challenging times, as he commented:

“During the fiscal year, we were faced with the most challenging economic environment in our history, which drove certain fundamental changes in consumer behavior. These changes included booking significantly closer to their visits, searching for promotional offers and travelling closer to their homes. As a result, we adapted our offers to address our guests’ changing needs. This decision delivered record park attendance of 15.4 million and an 87% hotel occupancy rate, down from last year but high by industry standards.

We saw our guest mix change, as attendance was driven by French and Belgian markets, offsetting significant weakness from Spain and the United Kingdom. These changes also impacted guest spending and hotel occupancy, lowering our revenues. Throughout the year we also balanced our promise of a high-quality Disney entertainment experience for our guests while managing costs.

The strength of the Disney brand and the attractiveness of our Resort as Europe’s number one tourist destination position us well when the recovery of the economies of our key markets and the leisure and tourism industry occur. We continue to invest in the long-term growth of our Company and we look forward to opening Toy Story Playland, inspired by the popular Disney-Pixar Toy Story characters and films, at the Walt Disney Studios Park in summer 2010.”

The resort was certainly lucky, in fact, to have been hit by this recession just as it was coming out of its most successful years to date. Had this crisis happened any earlier, the result could have been disastrous. As it stands, it’s interesting to look at the figures from this year and those quoted in the report from 2007. It’s not a full-scale slip-up by any means. Damage has been done, but should things begin to improve over the next year it may only lead to a set-back of plans and profits by a few years.

Throwing the €25m of royalty payments to The Walt Disney Company and €15.1m of loan interest onto their debt pile, Euro Disney SCA still paid off their planned debt repayments for the year and plan to pay back a healthy €89.9m more of existing debt in the 2010 financial year.

A taste of what the situation could be if things truly don’t get better comes further into the report, where it is stated:

For fiscal year 2010, if compliance with financial performance covenants cannot be achieved, the Group will have to appropriately reduce operating costs, curtail a portion of planned capital expenditures and/or seek assistance from TWDC or other parties as permitted under the debt agreements.

So, let’s hope that’s not the case. Further reductions in operating costs could almost certainly push the resort to breaking point, losing guests due to poor quality service and experience. On that subject, it’s nice at least to see that this year’s cost reductions added up: Thanks to all those shortened attraction hours, cancelled quality entertainment and other drops in Disney quality, the group managed to cut spending by 2%.

Euro Disney also seem confident of their ability to survive any continued losses in future:

Although no assurance can be given, management believes the Group has adequate cash and liquidity for the foreseeable future based on existing cash positions, liquidity from the € 100.0 million line of credit available from TWDC, and use of the conditional deferrals.

Indeed, that free cash in the group’s pocket now amounts to a not-too-shabby €340.3 million. Whilst it’s certainly good to see the resort has that much of a “buffer” for itself, things could soon get shakey should the group start spending €100 million on a Convention Centre here, or tens of millions on an expensive new attraction there. Just look what happened with the failed opening of Walt Disney Studios Park.

Everything considered, we probably shouldn’t be too disappointed that the dull announcement of Toy Story Playland was the only thing keeping us fans happy (or not, as may be the case for some) in this release. With a date of 2015 set for those new resort developments to near completion, there’s still plenty of time and Euro Disney SCA will likely want to wait a little longer to sign those dotted lines.

Better safe than sorry.

• Read the full 2009 Annual Results here (PDF).
• Read the Walt Disney Company 2009 Annual Report here (PDF).

Sunday, 18th October 2009

Meet the New Generation of brochures

We actually saw the first of these images in September, featuring Sulley peeping out of a trapdoor as Buzz Lightyear, Princess Tiana and a host of other characters parachuted down in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. This new set of images, provided for travel companies to use as their Summer 2010 brochure covers, follow the same template.

The first is a real surprise. RC in the spotlight? A minimal character really only in the first Toy Story, who can’t even talk? Well, it’s a refreshing change from the usual Mickey, and he does have that still as-yet-unannounced attraction at Walt Disney Studios Park coming up next year. (Come on Euro Disney SCA, the game is up!)

Meet the New Generation of brochures

Next up, another star from Toy Story PlaylandSlinky Dog. Underneath him, Buzz peers out of a trapdoor in Main Street (you know, that trapdoor on Main Street), held up by Toy Soldiers, alongside four Little Green Men.

Meet the New Generation of brochures

In the background of this one, spot Emile from Ratatouille, Jessie with a suitably cow-themed parachute and, er, Nemo. In some of the images he’s been shown floating down in a kind of water bubble… not this time. You also have to wonder about the fate of racing car Lightning McQueen as he smashes to earth, but maybe we’re over-thinking the concept.

Sulley and Buzz Lightyer feature most heavily in the next option for those travel companies. This one we’ve already seen:

Meet the New Generation of brochures

Oh, well look at that! Lightning McQueen made it down safely!

Here we also spot a couple of new poses — yes, the folks at Pixar were nice enough to send over several different stock images of their characters — so we see Woody holding his cowboy hat as he parachutes and Buzz folding his arms. All in a day’s work for a toy who can fly!

Meet the New Generation of brochures

One nice feature of the parachutes concept, at least, is that most of them are becoming “themed” to their respective character. So we see Emile with a cheese-patterned parachute, Woody with one to match his shirt, etc. In case you still don’t “get it”, it seems like the “Big Idea!” on the giant boardroom paper pad for 2010 is to show these “new” characters “parachuting” into the parks to visualise their arrival and new-ness. Got it?

Plus, in these images, compared to the main New Generation Festival image (which will probably be the official Summer 2010 brochure cover) the characters floating down in the background have even actually been scaled and faded properly, so the image — however much still constructed like a series of stuck-on fridge magnets — does have a bit of depth.

Finishing up, we’ve got Rémy and Emile from Ratatouille.

Meet the New Generation of brochures

There you go. Expect to see those on a travel company brochure near you in just a few months. Now, if you were sitting in the offices of one of those companies, which would you choose? Strangely, the RC version looks the most appealing from here.

It’s worth repeating the slight moan from the article featuring the first of these images last month: what’s the need to mess with Sleeping Beauty Castle? Does sticking little Mickey silhouettes over its ornate stained-glass windows really achieve anything? If certain people had their way, would it not be a fantastical medieval palace but a monument to Mickey Mouse, with Mickey shapes on every spire and a hideous character decoration stuck on it’s fron… oh, wait.

And here’s one extra criticism not from DLRP Today. Member MagicStar on magicforum was keen-eyed enough to notice the odd situation to the left of the Castle, where one of the famous square trees has been… squashed! Clearly, that pesky castle wall the Imagineers designed was getting in the way of the character clip-art, so it had to be shrunk down… taking the tree with it! Even more oddly, there’s a spot of branch — or something — still there on the right, sticking up into the air. Good to see important images like these are checked thoroughly.

Even better — no, surely worse — something else has now cropped up on the left of these images, which isn’t there on the original one. Take a look just to the bottom-left of Tiana’s dress in the final image. Looks like the castle hill — almost — got the chop, but a dirty trail of Photoshop remnants was left behind.

Disneyland Paris marketing, we know your secrets.

Images © Disney.

Tuesday, 22nd September 2009

Official text confirms more New Generation details

In the last 2010 update, we learnt the final name for next year’s Disney Characters Party Train Express rehash — Disney All Stars Express. This time, we find out the final names of the reworked Central Plaza show and the four year-old Monsters Inc. corner, plus a few other exclusive snippets.

New Generation Festival

This “official text” will be what you’ll see in holiday brochures and other publications in a few months. Here we go with the first section:

Disney new generation festival

A new generation of Disney stars and stories are landing for one year only at Disneyland® Paris from April 2010.

Join the festival-fun at the all-new generation shows and parades – where new Princess Tiana jazzes up the Once Upon a Dream Parade, and gourmet chef Remy* drives you wild with excitement in Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars. Or choo-choo-choose which star to meet first on the Disney all stars express and at Monsters Inc. Scream Academy* –shriek n’ greet like no other!

And, starting from Summer, shrink to the size of a toy in Toy Story Playland* for the BIGGEST new family attractions: Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog(1) Zig Zag Spin and RC Racer(2).

Finally, gather in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle for a true Disney showstopper finale – an all-singing, all-dancing, all-together perfect end to the perfect day.

The Disney new generation festival might only last a year but your all-new memories will last a lifetime.

*Inspired by Disney•Pixar films Ratatouille, Monsters, Inc., Toy Story
(1) Slinky®Dog is a registered trademark of Poof-Slinky, Inc. All rights reserved.
(2) Hot Wheels® is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. Hot Wheels® Trademark and Track Used With Permission © 2009 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

So there we go, all the events officially confirmed. You can notice already the huge amount of legal baggage that has come with the real-life toy themes of Toy Story Playland, with the owner of each element having to be credited on every single piece of promotional material.

Note also that the new Central Plaza show is now definitely set to be a single finale to the day, rather than the current schedule of four shows throughout the afternoon.

New Generation Festival

The second page continues with more on those events being provided by the resort’s Entertainment department:

Shows & Parades

Welcome Princess Tiana to the Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade
Princess Tiana from Walt Disney Pictures’ “The Princess and the Frog” brings a little jazz, snazz and pizzazz in the Once Upon a Dream Parade. She is joining the Disney Princesses in their Dreams of Romance. Hop along with your little ones to twist and twirl to the romantic music from each of their worlds and give a warm welcome to this new Princess.

Ratatouille(1) starring in Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars
Drive your little ones wild with excitement as Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars presents the all-new Ratatouille roadster. It’s a party on wheels that goes into a spin when Remy pulls up alongside you! Get a taste of his cooking capers and the other crazy cars and characters. It’s the perfect recipe for a fun-filled motorcade.

Disney all star express
Get on track with the festivities on the Disney all stars express. This is your ticket to choo-choo-se which of your favourite Disney new generation Characters you want to meet n’ greet first. Will it be Buzz(3) ? A rendez-vous with Remy(3) ? Shootin’ the breeze with Woody(3) ? All aboard! It’s Minnie and her all stars express!

Disney showtime spectacular
It’s Showtime! It’s time to shine. It’s time to gather in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle on Central Plaza stage for an explosion of music from maestro Mickey. Together with an all-new A-list of guest stars it promises to be an all-singing, all-dancing all-new showstopper finale!

Monsters Inc.(2) Scream Academy
All screams are welcome at Disneyland® Paris. Thrill-filled shrieks, surprised yelps and screams of delight! At Monsters Inc. Scream Academy we welcome screams to break the decibel meter! Join in the tonsil-tingling fun as you shriek n’ greet Sulley and scream as loud as monster-possible – it’s ear-popping fun for all the family.

(1)Inspired by Disney•Pixar’s Ratatouille
(2)Inspired by Disney•Pixar’s Monsters, Inc.
(3)Inspired by Disney•Pixar’s movies Toy Story, Ratatouille

Confirmed here are the names of the new Central Plaza show — Disney showtime spectacular — and the Monsters Inc. corner in Toon Studio — Monsters Inc. Scream Academy.

But wait, didn’t the newly-named Monsters Inc. Scream Academy, with its light-up “scream monitor” canisters, already open way back in April 2006? Obviously the wording is clever here — there’s no statement that this is a “new” attraction (because it certainly isn’t), but the inclusion alongside other new events certainly gives that impression.

Will it offer anything more than the scream canisters and Sulley meet ‘n’ greet it’s been hosting for almost four years? Possibly a little something new, at least: A comment by “zanderstarz” on our first article about the festival states it has been confirmed internally that little girl Boo will also make appearances — a character never seen in Paris before.

And now, this could prove to be nothing, but did somebody forget to hold down the Shift key, or press Caps Lock? There’s a huge “FINAL VERSION” stamp across the top of this PDF, but right throughout the entire text the festival is referred to not as “New Generation Festival”, in that boring, grammatically-correct style, but as “Disney new generation festival“. The renamed character train is not “Disney All Stars Express” but “Disney all stars express“, and the bravely-titled Showtime Spectacular is, in fact, typed up as “Disney showtime spectacular“.

It’s not like whoever typed this “final version” doesn’t understand capital letters — they’re used perfectly on every other name. And add this to the mystery — the category for the 2010 events on the official trade website changed on Monday from “New Generation Festival” to the entirely lower case “new generation festival“, something which would surely have to be done manually.

We’re still waiting for confirmation if these lower-case names are for real. Who knows, maybe they’ll release a “txt spk” version in SMS shorthand, to truly capture the new generation!

New Generation Festival

And finally, the part of the celebration we care about the most:

Toy Story Playland

Opening Summer 2010 at Disneyland® Paris

Toy Story Playland has the BIGGEST new family attractions. They’re GIANT – when you’re shrunk to the size of a toy! Join the toys for playtime in Andy’s backyard where everyone can explore this oversized world with its three larger-than-life rides – Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin and RC Racer. Andy’s away and the toys are ready to play!

Toy Story Playland is inspired by Disney•Pixar film Toy Story

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop
Attention! Your mission – join Andy’s troops for a high flying adventure – Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop. When Sarge yells “Go! Go! Go!” , hold on tight as you fall from way up high in a simulated parachute drop. Over and out!!

Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin
Everyone’s tongues and tails are wagging about the all-new “zigzag-a-coaster” Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin. Family pups of all sizes will howl with laughter as they join Slinky in a rollicking spin to catch his own tail. It’s barking mad fun in Toy Story Playland.

Slinky®Dog is a registered trademark of Poof-Slinky, Inc. All rights reserved.

RC Racer
Andy’s speediest toy car is sure to get you and your family’s adrenaline pumping. RC Racer is the most thrilling new ride in Toy Story Playland. Race along a 25 metre-high half-pipe coaster, as RC zooms you around at full speed…it’s a real gas.

Hot Wheels® is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. Hot Wheels® Trademark and Track Used With Permission © 2009 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Along with plenty of spin about these being the “BIGGEST” new family attractions, we do actually get a long-awaited confirmation of just how big: The RC Racer halfpipe will be 25 metres tall! That’s less than half the size of Tower of Terror and just a touch taller than Disney Studio 1 or the Sorcerer’s Hat.

We also get a date — Summer 2010, which confirms again that all those “new” entertainment events are actually going to be much-needed for the first few months (events begin in April), when this celebration’s centrepiece will still be a building site.

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