Seeing Disneyland Paris under a white blanket of snow might have been awfully pretty, but analysts are expecting the tumultuous weather conditions experienced in this corner of Europe over the past three months to have a negative effect on revenues for Euro Disney SCA, the resort’s operating company, which announces its First Quarter results tomorrow. The heavy snow and icy conditions across northern France will have likely deterred some short-notice visitors from making the trip, whilst others may have had to cancel longer-planned reservations, during one of the key seasons for Disneyland Paris.
Despite this, revenues are still apparently expected to improve from the disappointing results for the First Quarter of the 2010 financial year, which saw revenues for the three months drop by 10.5%. It became the first set of negative results in a bad year, with revenues dropping overall by 7%. Tomorrow’s results will cover the period from 1st October to 31st December 2010.
Notes from a Shareholders roundtable meeting at Disney’s Hotel New York back in December suggest some changes to the Passeport Annuel programme could be on the way this year. The first has already taken place: the launch of an official fourth ticket, the Passeport Annuel Classic. Primarily given away free via other companies a promotional tool (to “convert a new population to annual passports”, as the roundtable notes put it), the ticket offers 277 days of park access within each year (that’s 88 blockout dates). Where this gets interesting is that the ticket reportedly went on general sale at the parks on 17th December, costing €98. That’s just one Euro less than the freely-available Passeport Annuel Francilien, which offers a full 300 days in the parks. Confused? Though the Classic has yet to be listed on the official AP pages, the price point and the offering would make it a likely successor to the Francilien, whose name causes confusion (it’s not just for those in the Paris region) and whose advantages are arguably just a little too generous for the price, compared to regular tickets. Discontinuing the Francilien in favour of the Classic would even-up the benefits of each pass. We’ll see…
At the other end of the scale, the Passeport Annuel Dream already gives holders some fantastic discounts and year-round access, but has jumped in price a little lately to €199 after several years at €179. This is still a real steal compared to similar APs at other Disney resorts — and even Paris’ own top-level tickets in years gone by — but the roundtable notes (PDF) reveal that an even more “prestigious” and interestingly, “personalised”, pass could be developed, offering even more benefits. What benefits those may be exactly is unclear — the return of that Disney Hotel parking privilege is unlikely.
Finally, and what could be the biggest change of all: subscription payments. At the moment, each Annual Passport is sold as a one-off ticket, and though the holder should receive an offer to renew at the end of their pass, it’s a considerable hassle for the customer (particularly if you don’t speak French or don’t live in France) and must present quite a drop-off of potential on-going customers for Disney. The meeting notes state that a number of improvements are being studied regarding customer relations, which could lead to “development of tailor-made offers, loyalty programmes and payment by monthly instalments”.
This same idea is currently being discussed quite actively for the American parks, and would mean that an Annual Passport effectively becomes an open-ended ticket to the parks, paid directly from your bank account each month with no need to queue at the Passeport Annuel Bureau each year or send off any renewal forms. Presumably passholders would still need to pay for, say, their first 12 months up-front or be locked into something resembling a phone contract, but in the long term this would surely be very popular for most frequent visitors and fans. Your thoughts, passholders?
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:
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.
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.
The first of these new room types came into use at the start of the new season on 9th November, with Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne and Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe now trying to coax their guests to pay extra for one of two alternative room categories.
• Rio Grande rooms are the same as above, guaranteeing a location along the Rio Grande River, and therefore right next to the path to the parks and Disney Village.
• Eldorado rooms are located near to the main reception, restaurant, bar and shop, perhaps particularly useful with the expansive and complicated layout of the Santa Fe, although you might not have a great view.
Supplements: From £7 to £16 (€10 to €16) per night depending on season.
So, for a reasonable price, you can end that moment of concern when you arrive at the reception of these two hotels, the smiling Cast Member pulls out the map and begins to mark on the location of your room… Whether you’d like a river or restaurant location, it can now be locked in.
But that’s all you get — a guaranteed location. There are no extra facilities in these rooms, no air conditioning, no treats, and if the allocated Eldorado, Buffalo and Rio Grande rooms aren’t booked up, it’s not unthinkable that they might be offered as standard rooms to other guests.
Over at Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch, meanwhile, a brand new cabin is due to be unveiled after being featured for the first time in the latest brochure. And here, for an admittedly larger supplement, you don’t just get a better location near the Ranch Village but a completely new cabin layout and extras.
• Sleeps up to 6 people with a double bed and 4 single beds.
• Air conditioning.
• Two shower rooms.
• Private terrace with barbecue.
• Walking distance from the Davy Crockett Ranch village.
Supplements: From £21 to £29 (€20 to €30) per night depending on season.
These “Premium 2-Bedroom Cabins” become available from the next season start on 2nd April 2010, though the previous 2 Bedroom Cabin option appears to remain, now listed as a supplement to the side of the 1-Bedroom Cabins.
The need for air conditioning in these cabins (in Paris) is questionable and the lack of a bath between the two shower rooms is an odd omission, but they will finally give the resort a much-requested accommodation option for larger families with more than 2 children.
So, what do you think? Would you be willing to pay these supplements for a better “Value” experience, or is Disneyland Paris pushing its luck?
It’s notable that guests could often request certain room locations at Cheyenne and Santa Fe before now and, though these could not always be guaranteed, they were at least given without the cost of a supplement. Are they trying to charge us for something that used to be openly available, or offering a welcome new choice for their hotel rooms?
The Rio Grande is a beautiful, hidden gem of an area within the resort. Just a short walk from Disney Village, it’s incredibly peaceful and great fun to explore — but does often look “forgotten”, rather than simply hidden. Trees overgrown, lights not working, signs and maps faded. If they’ve re-discovered the Rio Grande for the purposes of a room supplement, let’s hope they supplement the amount of attention this area gets from maintenance, too.
If you’ve tried the print-at-home E-Tickets from www.disneylandparis.com already, you’ll know how convenient they are. Sure, you’re left with a boring, printed sheet of A4 paper — hardly something to keep as a souvenir — but they mean you can grab tickets almost instantly, days or even minutes before heading to the parks, skipping that queue at the gate.
But until now, there’s always been a critical downside — how do you collect Fastpass tickets? The short-term answer from Disneyland Paris has before now been to hand out blank or “dummy” collection tickets to E-Ticket holders at the gate, causing some long, slow-moving queues on busy days as the system is explained. The same size as regular park entrance tickets, these simply let you collect Fastpasses from the regular machines.
Fastpass machines at Big Thunder Mountain have been given brand new ticket readers. The reader on the right is for magnetic strips, allowing you to collect a Fastpass by vertically swiping your regular park entrance ticket or Annual Passport. This is different to the old style machines, which required guests to insert their entire ticket and wait for it to be ejected back, taking a considerably longer amount of time.
Brand new, however, is the reader just to the left. As the simple illustration suggests, it’s an optical barcode reader specifically for print-at-home E-Tickets!
Why is that so great? Aside from the natural behaviour of a Disneyland Paris fan being to jump with excitement at any minor change — because it might finally return some fairness to the system. Those white dummy tickets, if you’ve never encountered them, basically grant Fastpass-printing privileges for life. They’re like something those bad guys from Pinocchio might taunt you with as you skip innocently down Main Street. Once you’ve got one, it’s hard not to use it unfairly.
Here’s the thing: They still operate with the same delay for your next ticket, but aren’t dated whatsoever. So, if you were given one back in May, you can use it on your next visit alongside your new ticket. And again, and again. Some frequent and local visitors have built up such a collection that they rely on a pocketful of dummy tickets to collect up Fastpass tickets for everything, all at once, snubbing any queue over 20 minutes.
And if you thought those long-standing rumours from every Disney resort of Fastpass becoming a solely paid-for system were only that, you’re… almost wrong. Type “Disneyland Paris Fastpass” into eBay (well, don’t) and you’re confronted by a dizzying list of these tickets, priced anywhere up to, say, £40 (€43).
They’ve spawned a kind of “black market” that has reaped substantial profits for those hoarding the tickets, at the expense of regular visitors, which the resort appears to have turned a blind eye to. Hardly fair for those who play by the rules with tickets or queue up properly.
So yes, this Fastpass development should be very positive in the long run — the blank dummy tickets will begin to dry up, at least. But the thing is — and we hate to blow the lid on another Fastpass trick — according to members at Disney Central Plaza, old entrance tickets still work.
Yes, if you didn’t know, you can often just insert (or now, swipe) your ticket from your last trip and collect an extra Fastpass, just like that. This isn’t just the case in Paris though, but a flaw of the system at other resorts too, so let’s overlook it for now and instead finish on a spot of praise for the end of dummy tickets and the start of a beautiful new relationship between E-Tickets and Fastpass. It’s about time.
Guarantee yourself a room at the top of the Hotel New York tower, get VIP FASTPASS for the length of your stay, enjoy an exclusive lounge with complimentary drinks and a buffet breakfast with characters every day.
The Empire State Club is certainly a tempting new addition to Disney’s Hotel New York, taking over 34 rooms and suites last month to finally provide the hotel with an exclusive upper-tier option in the same vein as Newport Bay Club’s Admiral’s Floor and Disneyland Hotel’s Castle Club.
In fact, the hotel had such a “club” when it first opened back in 1992, but this fell by the wayside in the years that followed. For the new tier, the old check-in area has been reawakened, as seen above, giving Empire State Club guests a faster check-in and a more personal service.
That service extends to the upper floors of the hotel themselves, on which the rooms are located, where you’ll find a brand new lounge to relax with a complimentary refreshment or your continental breakfast each morning.
Completely redecorated and built just for the Empire State Club, the area has plenty of neat touches — such as Mickey Mouse shapes in the art deco panels — and a very upmarket feel, darker than the other “clubs” but therefore very in-keeping with the New York’s more professional overall style.
The rooms themselves have yet to be seen. Have you stayed there already? Why not send us a photo or post one on the magicforum?
So, at what price does all this exclusivity come?Â Based on two adults sharing one room, you’ll be looking to pay between Â£26 (during the lowest season) and Â£41 (in the highest season) extra per person per night. On a stay of 4 nights starting today, for example, you’d pay an extra Â£288 between the two of you, bumping the regular Â£602 price up to Â£746 per person (Â£1492 total).
In comparison, the Castle Club at Disneyland Hotel, arguably a much more exclusive club, costs around Â£66 extra per night per person, based on two adults sharing. Stay there in the height of Summer for four nights with a friend and you’d pay Â£472 extra between you, bringing the regular Â£1021 price per person up to Â£1257.
At the other end of the scale, the Admiral’s Floor at Disney’s Newport Bay Club — which provides merely a guaranteed room near the top of the building and a dedicated check-in — costs between just Â£9 and Â£16 extra per person per night for a one-night stay. The Empire State Club does, therefore, seem well-placed and fairly priced at least within the structure of the overall Disney Hotels pricing.
Whether the pricing — and the offering — is fair in the real world is up to you.
— More about the Empire State Club and its advantages here.
Since April of this year and the start of the 15th Anniversary festivities, the resort has been using two generous online special offers to help boost general ticket sales for the two parks — 15% off on the shortest ticket and extra days on the longer park hoppers. The latest official brochure now introduces new names for the two ticket offers, the first new ticket naming (for guests outside of France) since the opening of Walt Disney Studios Park.
The special offer tickets are now officially named “Discovery” and “Celebration“, making the offers easier to market and no doubt a little more attractive to guests than the offers which previously seemed a little unplanned.
The “Discovery ticket” offer, giving 15% off a 1-Day/2-Parks hopper ticket, is now advertised as “Ideal for enjoying some of the treats of our celebration, while visiting Paris”. Meanwhile, the top-class “Celebration ticket” offer, giving a whole extra day on your ticket for 3 and 4 day tickets (therefore becoming 4 and 5 day tickets respectively), is promoted as “Ideal if you want to fully enjoy the celebration in two Disney Parks!”. You can find out more about the offers on the official website.
Following the annual report earlier this month, it’s a new financial year for the resort and so time for the ticket prices to be updated for 2008. As has become tradition, prices have generally changed by only a Euro or two, the highest increases for Child 2-Day and 3-Day hoppers.
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