Races, prices and packages have been announced for the second Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend in September 2017, as runDisney package bookings for combined race bibs and hotels officially go on sale. Read More…
The two Disney Parks at Disneyland Paris remain closed today, Monday 16th November 2015, as the resort observes the national three-day period of mourning in France following a series of terrorist attacks in the city of Paris on the night of Friday 13th November.
Having initially closed on Saturday 14th November as French authorities dealt with the aftermath of the attacks, a further three day closure of Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park to Tuesday 17th November inclusive was later confirmed that evening.
Disney Village and all Disney Hotels have remained open and operating as normal during this time, with a profound show of strength, support and reassurance from Cast Members to each other and affected guests.
It is expected that the theme parks should re-open on Wednesday 18th November. Read More…
Soundbites about “challenging tourism climates” and “investing in growth strategies” aren’t all you’ll find the Euro Disney S.C.A. Annual Review. Published by the Disneyland Paris operating group each year, the splashy document is also filled with a host of fascinating and intriguing facts and figures about the resort, its parks, its Cast Members and its visitors.
You can browse the 2013 Annual Review now online. Surprisingly, this year breaks with tradition and abandons the usual overblown website dedicated to the report (last year complete with Philippe Gas video intro) and presents it just as a standard e-brochure. We’d love to know the figure for how much cash that decision wisely saved. But instead, here’s our quick pick of the key figures and fun facts of 2013 at Disneyland Paris…
Last, but not least, the geographical split of theme park visits, where France has broken 51% leaving all other feeder nations languishing. It’s fascinating to look back ten years to the results from the 2003 Annual Review and see how dramatically the breakdown has shifted.
Where once 22% of visitors were from the United Kingdom, now that percentage is a tiny 14%. Worse for Germany; its percentage share has halved from 6% to 3% in 2013. Italy and Spain meanwhile used to make up 9% together and have now increased to 11%, mainly thanks to a boom in visitors from Spain begun a few years ago, but which now appears to have ebbed away, in line with the country’s economy, to 8%.
Attendance figures in 2003 were 12.4 million, so 22% would give an estimated 2,728,000 British guests for the year. The same calculation for 14% of the 14.9 million guests in 2013 gives 2,086,000 guests crossing the channel. Far from a scientific, watertight calculation, obviously, but you could see it suggesting that roughly 654,720 fewer visitors from the UK went to Disneyland Paris in 2013 compared to ten years ago, a 24% drop.
Overall, with 49% of visitors now coming from outside France in 2013 versus 61% in 2003, you could estimate the resort’s entire non-domestic park attendance has actually fallen by over a quarter of a million guests in the past ten years, from 7.6 million in 2003 to 7.3 million in 2013. In the same period, meanwhile, you could estimate attendance from within France has grown by a huge 2.8 million guests, from 4.8 million to a strong 7.6 million visitors.
Clearly it is time Disneyland Paris took a few of its œufs out of its panier and worked on growing visitor numbers from other countries too, if only back to the levels they were ten years ago.
That’s not something even Rémy can do alone, or is it?
Farewell to the only Disneyland Paris boutique not located on Disney property. The oddity that was the ‘Rendez-Vous Disney’ store over in Val d’Europe has now officially closed its doors after just over eleven years of trading. It will be replaced by an expanded (or perhaps relocated) Oxybul “play and discovery” toy store, which already has a unit next door. Located in the Centre Commercial at the heart of the Disney-planned town within the resort’s boundaries, the store was operated by Euro Disney SCA alongside the other park, Village and hotel boutiques with Disney Cast Members and a select range of resort merchandise comprising clothing, toys, homewares and general souvenirs.
One of the original tenants at the vast 145-store mall upon its opening in 2000, it occupied a prized position right at the entrance onto Place d’Ariane, near the Val d’Europe RER station, making it one of the first stores many visitors to the centre would see. Original features included a large video wall and four projected clocks, showing the time in the then four Disney resorts around the world. The store appeared to see little subsequent investment in updates in the years that followed, and likely became unjustifiable as Disney cut its ties with the mall, especially with the vast array of stores just a kilometre or so away at the resort itself.
Its bricks and mortar already owned in a joint venture between real estate firm Klépierre (55%) and French insurer AXA (45%), the shopping centre continued to reside with a long-term lease on Disney-owned land until 2010, when the partnership acquired the land from Euro Disney SCA for €47m. Like the rest of the Val d’Europe development, it has been a real success, now attracting over 18 million visitors a year. But for those Disneyland Paris souvenirs, you’ll now definitely be wanting to stay on the RER train just one stop more.
Les Villages Nature de Val d’Europe might not have the most catchy name, particularly for non-French speakers, but the project’s new website has just launched at a more succinct www.villagesnature.com. This is the 50/50 development between Euro Disney and Pierre & Vacances Center Parcs, a huge new leisure and accommodation destination planned to be built on land surrounding Disney’s existing Davy Crockett Ranch a few kilometres south-east of the parks. A first phase of 1,730 accommodation units (710 apartments surrounding the main lake, 1,020 individual cottages further south) would also see the creation of a unique geothermal heated lagoon and the largest water park in Europe, along with restaurants, shops and other amenities. This new website seeks to collect questions and opinions from those affected in the local area, with a budget of €700 million “subject to public debate”. Of that, €430 million would be for accommodation units, to be leased to individual investors for periods of 9 years, whilst €260 million would be for the water park, leisure facilities, shops and restaurants.
The results of this public inquiry will be known in August, when the authorities are hoped to give the go-ahead. Marketing would then begin towards the end of this year with construction starting in the first quarter of 2013 for a first phase opening date of first quarter 2015. Don’t think this project will be a self-contained expansion, either — we’ll certainly see the effects back up at the main esplanade. The Transports page confirms some big changes, such as the long-awaited construction of a southern entrance to the TGV platforms, opposite the new World of Disney, allowing travellers from Val d’Europe and the south to access the high speed rail station without crossing the busy park entrances. Not only that, but a southern RER entrance is now also planned, and a southern bus station to be positioned in front of the Disney Village parking building.
Even more dramatic, Disneyland Paris would no longer be the end of the RER A line, with a plan to extend the line to join up with RER Line E at the town of Esbly to the north-east — currently very close but hard to access from the resort. Sadly for international travellers there’s no such rail extension in the pipeline up to Charles-de-Gaulle Airport (which would surely be both profitable with tourists and hugely useful for locals, better than using the TGV for such a short hop), but an “intensification of shuttle services”. The envisaged tramway system also appears to have hit a buffer-stop when Val d’Europe lost its bid for the French Open tennis tournament, meaning the super-eco-friendly project will probably be relying on shuttle buses. Although a stop at least looks to be provided for Davy Crockett Ranch, which will remain separate from the project, allowing trappers to leave their cars behind to get to the parks. Finally, the road network would be improved — in particular with an entrance to the Villages Nature themselves branching south from the main Exit 14 of the A4 autoroute, visible in the map above.
Architecturally, many of the buildings revealed so far are certainly daring. In fact, you might worry that these are going to be the 2015 equivalent to 1992’s soon-dated Festival Disney. But a strong artistic direction at this stage could also be reassuring. The most exciting aspect so far is that Joe Rohde, the lead designer of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, has been mentioned as part of Walt Disney Imagineering’s artistic involvement, and it seems you can see that influence already in the buildings overgrown by plants, creating a mélange of man and nature. Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau are strong influences, with the styles of Frank Lloyd Wright and Friedensreich Hundertwasser quoted officially as inspirations.
As the official Disney Parks Blog posted a remarkably… unremarkable confirmation that the Shanghai Disneyland project is moving ahead, newspaper Le Parisien slipped out a fascinating article all about the future of our resort. Talking to Francis Borezée, Vice President of Resort and Real Estate Development, they summarise the next phase of development in the Val d’Europe district, from the expansion of Disney Village to the long-awaited new Convention Centre.
Most of this won’t shock or stun a keen follower of Disneyland Paris news, but one element certainly might: the addition of dates, the revelation that all this is finally due to be officially announced, very soon indeed. And, whilst a project being led by a huge Convention Centre doesn’t seem immediately exciting, the development and its surrounding expansions will change the landscape of the resort beyond recognition.
Where now, as soon as you reach the lonely IMAX cinema and games arcade, the old beet fields suddenly stretch as far as the eye can see, soon you’ll be at the heart of a whole new, very urban, Disney development, comprising the new hotels and Village expansion it so badly needs.
Here’s the article in full, skip down for the summary:
Disney dévoile ses nouveaux projets
Tourisme d’affaires, logements, extension des zones de loisirs et de commerces, le Val-d’Europe poursuit son développement sous l’impulsion du géant américain.
Qu’on se le dise : le groupe aux grandes oreilles n’a pas fini de laisser son empreinte sur le paysage urbain du Val-d’Europe. Fraîchement nommé à la tête des activités de développement urbain et vités touristique du groupe, Francis Borezée dévoile ses principaux projets pour le développement à venir de l’agglomération.
Des programmes qui dessinent les contours de la phase 4 du développement du Val d’Europe, actuellement en discussion avec les représentants de l’Etat et les élus locaux.
Des réalisations sur quinze ans. Chargé du codéveloppement de l’agglomération en vertu d’une convention signée avec l’Etat en 1987, Euro Disney SCA a rempli au- aujourd’hui plus de la moitié du contrat. « Nous avons d’ores et déjà développé 1 100 ha sur 1 943, ce qui veut dire qu’on a encore quinze ans de développement devant nous », résume Francis Borezée.
Actuellement en cours, l’achèvement des programmes de la phase 3 – finition de la place d’Ariane, du quartier résidentiel des Lacs ou réalisation de bureaux près de la gare RER — va coïncider avec le lance- lancement des nouveaux projets de l’opérateur privé.
Cap vers le tourisme d’affaires. C’est la grande nouveauté annoncée par le directeur général adjoint d’Euro Disney SCA. Un gigantesque centre de congrès devrait voir le jour aux portes des parcs Disneyland, pour un budget d’investissement d’environ 100 millions d’euros. D’ici 2015, une première phase prévoit la construction d’un centre de 20 000 ha sur ce terrain coincé entre le parking Vinci et l’hôtel Newport. Une nouvelle gare TGV dédiée et un hôtel de 750 chambres seront construits sur le site, qui pourra accueillir des groupes de 4 000 personnes.
Parallèlement, les activités touristiques classiques continueront de se développer, avec l’extension prévue du Disney-Village et la construction de nouvelles attractions dans les parcs… qui devraient faire l’objet d’une annonce à la fin de l’année.
De nouveaux logements en perspective. Le développement résidentiel reste une priorité pour Francis Borezée, qui prévoit la construction de « 500 à 600 » nouveaux logements, dont « au moins 20 % de logements sociaux » par an d’ici à 2017. Le centre urbain devrait s’étendre avec de nouveaux logements assortis d’équipements publics, au nord de la nouvelle mairie de Serris ainsi qu’au sud-ouest du centre de secours de Chessy et au nord du boulevard circulaire. Pour améliorer le cadre de vie, un nouveau bassin et des espaces verts devraient également voir le jour (voir carte).
D’autres constructions pourraient également apparaître en périphérie, à Magny-le-Hongre et à Bailly-Ro- Romainvilliers, avec un programme mêlant maisons individuelles et logements collectifs dans le quartier des Courtalins. A terme, Francis Borezée prévoit une croissance de la population « jusqu’à 55 000 ou 60 000 habitants », soit un peu moins que l’Etat, qui envisage jusqu’à 80 000 habitants au Val-d’Europe.
L’extension du centre commercial Val-d’Europe. Satisfait du succès du pôle marchand, qui « résiste mieux à la crise » que la moyenne des centres commerciaux, le développeur prévoit son extension, avec une « nouvelle ouverture inter- intermédiaire » de la galerie. Sans oublier l’inauguration, en mars 2010, d’un immense magasin Castorama consacré à la décoration d’intérieur, assorti de 600 à 700 nouvelles places créées sur un niveau intermédiaire dans le parking du centre commercial.
La poursuite du développement. Les entreprises ne seront pas oubliées par l’opérateur d’aménagement privé, qui table sur l’extension du parc d’entreprise Goodman, à Bailly-Romainvilliers. Sans oublier de « constituer une nouvelle offre de bureaux prêts à l’emploi près de la gare, dans le centre urbain du Val-d’Europe. » En effet, les bureaux déjà réalisés dans ce secteur sont déjà occupés «à près de 95%».
The reason none of these grand proposals come as a surprise? Because plans showing exactly these developments have been public for probably over a year now, showing the urban streets of Val d’Europe connecting up with the resort centre.
Francis Borezée notes that, after having developed 1,100 hectares of 1,943 ha available since 1987, the resort still has 15 years of development ahead of it. He confirms that Phase 4 of the Val d’Europe development is now in discussions with the state and local town councillors, and that the completion of various Phase 3 projects (housing and office developments, the town squares) will coincide with the launch of plans for the next phase of their private, resort expansion projects.
So here’s where it gets interesting: The Convention Centre, having waited to be green-lit for over ten years now, will see its first phase developed and built between now and 2015. For an investment of €100 million Euros, the “gigantestque” centre totalling 20,000 ha of floorspace will take shape on the land between the existing Vinci (Disney Village) parking lot and Newport Bay Club.
The article confirms a 750-room hotel will be included in this phase, stating “on the site”. As can be seen in the plans released, there are in fact plots for two new Disney Hotels nearby. It remains to be seen whether they’d choose the hotel next to the Convention Centre or the one across the road, joined onto the Disney Village expansion, to build first.
It also then confirms the new TGV Station, but — especially when you look at the plan they’ve drawn up themselves — seems to have the impression that this will be a whole new station. Technically, it won’t. Similarly stuck on the drawing board for a decade, this will merely be an additional entrance and exit to the platforms of the existing Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy station.
Slotted in right next to the Disney Village multi-story parking, it’ll provide a new booking hall and facilities on the South side of the resort hub, allowing convention-goers and Val d’Europe residents far easier access to the platforms, without having to cross the resort hub.
Next, something we all want to hear — “Parallel to this, the resort’s traditional tourism activity will continue to be developed, with the expected expansion of Disney Village and the construction of new attractions in the theme parks… which will be the object of an announcement at the end of the year”.
Continuing on, the report discusses new housing at Val d’Europe, the creation of parks and lakes as seen in the plans, plus developments to the Shopping Centre, which is apparently beating the economic crisis more than most similar malls. Join the news recently that Val d’Europe will become home to a brand new swimming pool Aquatics Centre, and the rumours of the French Open, and things are looking good.
But you’ve probably stopped reading now, right? Knowing that a completion date has finally been set for all those expansions, and the promise of imminent announcements for Disney Village and new park attractions later this year…
Forget Shanghai, that’s the Parisian Surprise we needed.
Plans © Disney.
Last year, it was the French Grand Prix. Now, another top sporting event looks to have its sights set on the beet fields of eastern Marne-la-Vallée.
The president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT) has suggested that the French Open — the Tournoi de Roland-Garros — may in fact be heading away from the capacity-starved Stade Roland-Garros to a new home, out of the city smoke… at Disneyland Paris.
Picked up in the local pages of the Le Parisien website, the story began in a French weekly titled “le 10 Sport” where the FFT president, Jean Gachassin, said he could envisage the Grand Slam tournament moving to a new location either at Sarcelles in Val d’Oise or… “Eurodisney”.
Completely unrelated, a publicity event earlier this year saw
Main Street become a full-size tennis court
Whilst Disneyland Paris had yet to respond to Le Parisien‘s request for comment, it transpires that the most likely location could in fact be at Val d’Europe, the modern town and shopping centre development led by the Euro Disney S.C.A. group next to the main resort centre.
Jean-Paul Balcou, president of the Val d’Europe SAN (syndicat d’agglomération nouvelle) public body, stated that it was simply a matter of proposals to the Euro Disney operating group, adding that the conglomeration of towns was “completely favourable” to such a move.
He confirmed that “one of the plans envisaged would see the tournament based not far from the [Val d’Europe] RER station at the heart of the town centre, between the communes of Chessy and Serris”.
Val d’Europe location relative to the parks
In 2008, fierce rumour of the Formula 1 French Grand Prix moving from Magny-Cours to a new home literally slap bang in the middle of our prized resort rang frightening true when plans were ultimately revealed.
With seemingly no regard for the theme parks, hotels — or towns — nearby, the circuit would have cut a path just metres from the windows of Disney’s Newport Bay Club and Sequoia Lodge, bringing deafening noise for some of the year and abandoned infrastructure for the rest. Ultimately, it was opposed and thrown out by local councils — the same councils appearing to support wholeheartedly this latest sporting proposal.
Despite construction of a new centre court being scheduled to begin at Stade Roland-Garros in 2010 or 2011, expansion of the sporting facilities there, in the congested 16th arrondissement of Paris, has apparently met with strong opposition from locals and commentators alike.
Should the proposed move come to fruition, and Val d’Europe take the match point from Sarcelles, it would be a huge boon for the town and for Disneyland alike; giving Val d’Europe reason above simply its shopping centre and commuter pads, and bringing a prestigious — and pleasantly hushed — annual sporting fixture within the famous Boulevard Circulaire of Disneyland Paris.
Images: Disney/Google. With thanks to Adam.