Friday, 7th March 2014

Ratatouille ride opening dates: what’s rumoured, what’s reported, what’s realistic?

Ratatouille Disneyland Paris ride opening date

Ratatouille: The Ride will open, that’s about as close as we can get to an official opening date right now. But today Belgian tabloid newspaper SudPresse appeared to break ranks by publishing an article (above, and in full below thanks to DlrpExpress.fr) which states quite clearly and confidently that the date will be 15th July 2014.

Upon closer inspection (or even from a great distance), it seems quite likely that this article hasn’t been anywhere near the Disneyland Paris press department for authorisation — besides the author logging on to transcribe their latest press release.

Because though the text — date aside — sticks quite closely to the resort’s official copy, the images do anything but. The map of Walt Disney Studios Park which appears to show the attraction is a widely circulated, fan-created image superimposing Epcot’s France pavilion map onto the back of Toon Studio.

The concepts of a “Ratmobile”, unearthed as part of the ride’s planning application, have only ever been published publicly by the Disney Central Plaza forum, whose watermark can still be seen on the image. When it came to show the Ratmobiles during last month’s shareholders meeting, Tom Fitzgerland had much more final, official-looking renders.

Ratatouille Disneyland Paris ride opening date

And finally, the photo of the tunnel with a bust of Chef Gusteau comes, uncredited, directly from fansite DLP.info, circa 2010, who weren’t so lucky with their watermark — covered over by the newspapers own caption! There is no way Disneyland Paris would sign off the use of any of these images, so why would they give this publication an exclusive with a date?

SudPresse is apparently well known for such questionable reporting — a search even brings up an “exclusive” from June 2012, recirculating the fansite rumour of the time that a Spider-Man theme would replace Armageddon: Les Effets Speciaux.

What remains odd is that the paper plumped for Tuesday, 15th July 2014, when the most widely circulated rumour so far has been the 14th July — France’s national “Bastille” day.

Bastille Day looks great on paper, of course: opening an attraction based on French love letter Ratatouille, plus an adjoining restaurant, with endorsement from Chef Paul Bocuse, at Disneyland Paris, on the French national day itself; the concept of such a thing is so French the whole of France might just implode.

But is one of the busiest days of the year really the best time to open such a desperately awaited new attraction? And would the French press (not to mention all the extra technical and support staff required for a press event) really want to leave their families and traditional celebrations to cover an event happening on 14th July itself? Besides, Disneyland Paris press events usually only take place over a Friday, Saturday, Sunday weekend.

Ratatouille: The Ride - Disneyland Paris - Concept Art Models Construction

Elsewhere, one quite credible rumour has been that Cast Members could be given a preview of the attraction on Monday, 23rd June, followed by “Soft Opening” beginning on Saturday, 28th June. Soft Opening is the period of a few weeks where Disney opens new attractions for guests as a kind of “dress rehearsal”, giving a chance to tweak the experience and spot problems without the attraction officially being “open”.

Meanwhile June’s park opening hours were published yesterday, with a couple of clues that something might be afoot at the Studios, as reported on DLRPMagic.com. Notably, Saturday 21st June sees the park close at 6pm, rather than the usual 7pm. Indeed, this the first and only Saturday of the year so far that the park will close at this earlier time on a Saturday.

Disneyland Paris wouldn’t cut opening hours on a busy weekend lightly, so this must suggest some kind of private event — for Cast Members, for the press, for someone else? It’s usually good manners to give Cast Members first preview of an attraction, so if this were to be a press event date for the opening of the ride, it might put that 23rd June date in doubt.

Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy

Late June would make a far more sensible date to assemble the press for a showy grand opening, though: before the French summer holidays (and abandonment of Paris) begin, and giving enough time for them to draft their footage, reports and articles in time for a big media push on… 14th July? This could be particularly successful outside of France where, rather than the usual samey Eiffel Tower footage, news reports could show the implosion of French-ness on La Place de Rémy as a perfect populist tie-in to the national date.

Disneyland Paris always separates its press grand openings from its public inaugurations. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, for example, opened to the public on 22nd December 2007 but didn’t have its big grand opening event until 5th April 2008.

That would leave Bastille Day itself as more a simple ribbon-cutting date for the public; indeed, the date on paper — the date that goes down as the day Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy finally, officially opened its doors. It’d be perfect. Even though, as is always the way with Disney attraction openings, it wouldn’t necessarily be true.

At this point, it’s really a shame Disneyland Paris won’t just do the sensible thing and make an announcement, if only so that us fans can stop obsessing over a date, book our summer trips with confidence and start focusing instead on what a seriously cool and spectacularly unique new addition this is shaping up to be — perhaps the best thing to come to Disneyland Paris since the hallowed date of 12th April 1992 …or should that be 11th April?

Tuesday, 25th February 2014

Through the porthole: Disney’s Newport Bay Club renewal continues course

Disney's Newport Bay Club concept art

Disney’s Newport Bay Club continues to plot its course toward a full renovation of its more than 1,000 rooms and three wings. Disneyland Paris spent a day noting the improvements on its Twitter feed this Monday, starting with the publication of the new room concept art above.

Indeed after some of our recent comments on Twitter, this article could well be titled “Disneyland Paris publishes concept art shocker”, but no — there are exciting, big changes going on at Newport Bay Club, the largest of the Disney Hotels, and which in truth always felt just that bit too big and a bit wishy-washy with its style. As well as updated décor, furniture and facilities, this complete renovation should bring more Disney warmth and character to its hallways.

In the rooms, the fresh but faded original colour scheme of stark whites is being completely renewed with rich blues, nautical bronze and warm walnut wood. It’s like a touch of Disney Cruise Line elegance at Disneyland Paris.

Disney's Newport Bay Club new rooms

Fans got a first look at one of the trial rooms, pictured, in September last year. The 524 rooms of the East Wing officially closed on 1st November 2013 until further notice, with the works planned in three phases, including the Central and West wings, to minimise disruption.

It’s not just Mickey ears on the bedposts. Just like the recent renovations of Disney’s Sequoia Lodge and Disney’s Santa Fe, a new character-filled border lines the room; here with fun classic Disney characters in watery porthole scenes.

Disney's Newport Bay Club new rooms
Disney's Newport Bay Club new roomsDisney's Newport Bay Club new rooms

Most furniture has been completely replaced, with a less monolithic television cabinet and drawers, and a vastly improved, far more useful corner dressing table and plush chairs. Carpet is richer and more ornate, as is the crisper new curtain pattern.

Neat, custom-designed throw cushions are modern, as are the clean white sheets and matching runner (not quite ready at the time of the room preview above).

Bedside lights are warmer and still nautical, yet in a rather more natural way.

Compare the new rooms with the (current) old design, below.

Disney's Newport Bay Club old rooms
Disney's Newport Bay Club old rooms

That’s an incredible improvement all-round; adding only faint Disney character touches, removing tired examples of 1990s taste and implementing a far more timeless aesthetic.

It’s not just the rooms seeing refurbishment works, either. Photos Magiques reported that the New England theme hotel will see work to its exterior wood panelling and lighting, while the lobby and reception desks will see changes to improve guest flow.

Disneyland Paris also shared the picture below, showing works to the hotel’s popular pool area where scaffolding took one month to install. As well as “filtration systems and maintenance being changed and adapted to new standards”, the pool area will see some “acoustic comfort” improvements, we’re guessing to reduce echoes from its ceiling.

Disney's Newport Bay Club pool refurbishment

After the works, it will also be possible to access the outdoor pool directly from the inside, something which apparently hasn’t been possible for years due to safety reasons.

Note that along with the pool and health club closure pencilled in until roughly October, the Yacht Club Restaurant is closed until 31st July 2014 and Cape Cod restaurant will be closed 3rd March to 31st July, during which time breakfast will be provided in the hotel’s adjoining convention centre.

Disney's Newport Bay Club

What with free wi-fi already on-board, the horizon looks bright for Disney’s Newport Bay Club and what must be the most impressive and well-judged of the resort’s hotel makeovers to date, with modest character additions and much-needed improvements.

Up next in the coming years will be Disney’s Hotel New York, the “art deco” hotel which desperately needs some fresh sparkle to bring it out of the ’90s and up to modern grade for its price bracket. Can’t they work just that little bit faster…?

• On Photos Magiques: More photos of the new roomsLook back at the current rooms

PHOTOS @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter), Photos Magiques

Tuesday, 25th February 2014

Daisy & Goofy join the drawing board at Art of Disney’s Animation Academy

Art of Disney Animation, Animation Academy, Disneyland Paris

Two new character illustrations have been added to the Animation Academy drawing classes at Art of Disney Animation in Walt Disney Studios Park.

Along with old favourites such as Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, guests will now be able to draw Daisy Duck and Goofy throughout the day at the Toon Studio attraction.

Disneyland Paris announced the additions on its official Twitter account, which it says are thanks to a collaboration between the artists and Walt Disney Imagineering creatives.

Art of Disney Animation, Animation Academy, Disneyland Paris

It’s a minor plussing, but we’re glad of anything which sees the Studios freshened up outside of La Place de Rémy. In fact, Disney — why not see if the rat himself can be added, too?

VIA @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter)

Tuesday, 25th February 2014

Daisy & Goofy join the drawing board at Art of Disney’s Animation Academy

Art of Disney Animation, Animation Academy, Disneyland Paris

Two new character illustrations have been added to the Animation Academy drawing classes at Art of Disney Animation in Walt Disney Studios Park.

Along with old favourites such as Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, guests will now be able to draw Daisy Duck and Goofy throughout the day at the Toon Studio attraction.

Disneyland Paris announced the additions on its official Twitter account, which it says are thanks to a collaboration between the artists and Walt Disney Imagineering creatives.

Art of Disney Animation, Animation Academy, Disneyland Paris

It’s a minor plussing, but we’re glad of anything which sees the Studios freshened up outside of La Place de Rémy. In fact, Disney — why not see if the rat himself can be added, too?

VIA @Disney_ParisEN (Twitter)

Friday, 21st February 2014

Crush’s Coaster in line for permanent Single Rider, more queue improvements

Crush's Coaster - Walt Disney Studios Park - Disneyland Paris

Remember when Crush’s Coaster opened in 2007 and immediately couldn’t cope with demand? Well dudes, almost seven years later something permanent is finally going to be done about the capacity-starved Toon Studio coaster’s popularity.

During its four week closure from 17th March to 11th April, Crush’s Coaster will reportedly see the addition of a permanent Single Rider line, as well as an expansion of the regular queue line itself, something fans including ourselves have requested since opening.

Cast Member sources Pretty Wyatt, AnonyMouse and DynastyGo on Disney Central Plaza forum report that two options were presented to improve the standard queue line: making permanent the temporary ropes which wind their way in front of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, and/or a genuine enlargement of the exterior queue area into what is currently “backstage”.

Thankfully, the second option has apparently been green-lit, leaving the installation of more permanent barriers around the Flying Carpets “oasis” area as an added possibility.

This is great news for visitors joining the queue and the area as a whole. The temporary ropes constantly clog up what is already a cramped portion of the land, especially now guests are also heading through to Toy Story Playland and soon to La Place de Rémy. Making the outside queue area at the side of Studio 5 bigger would be a long-overdue decision.

Crush's Coaster queue - Walt Disney Studios Park - Disneyland Paris

Single Rider is also absolutely the right choice to maximise capacity of the ride. We reported in-depth on the Crush’s Coaster Fastpass tests in 2008, quickly proven unworkable for a ride with such low capacity. Fastpass can obviously never add capacity to a finite ride, whereas Single Rider can at least maximise capacity to as close to 100% as possible, filling every empty seat in groups of odd numbers. Both Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop and RC Racer now work successful, permanent Single Rider lines, and one is planned for Ratatouille right from the start.

In fact, it’s probably Rémy we have to thank for this long-awaited improvement. With all the new guests expected to flock to Walt Disney Studios Park for the E-Ticket dark ride, some will inevitably also help to make the Crush’s Coaster queue longer. Leaving things as they are, with even longer queues spilling out into the street, would not present a good image.

Flying Carpets Over Agrabah - Walt Disney Studios Park - Disneyland Paris

In similar fashion, we’ve suddenly seen the front of Animagique get some paint work (if not enough work). And, from 14th April right through the whole of May at least, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah will be closed for a thorough top-to-bottom refurbishment that will reportedly see the aerial carousel completely dismantled and rebuilt, just as its cousin Orbitron – Machines Volantes has enjoyed at least twice in recent memory.

That’s a lot of very welcome spit and polish ahead of the land’s newest ride opening. (Let’s just pretend the un-themed pathway behind Art of Disney Animation doesn’t exist, shall we?)

Thursday, 20th February 2014

New “Spring Festival” season set to fill April – June months at Disneyland Paris

Spring at Disneyland Paris

Remember the “Festival of Flowers” (Festival des Fleurs) of 1997 and 1998? Park icons covered in colourful spring flowers, topiaries of Disney characters all around, beautiful displays decorating the flower beds? It was a beautiful way to see in season of “printemps”.

Well, those will remain memories… but it’s this classic event that has apparently served as inspiration for a new season rumoured to begin at Disneyland Paris this April: the Spring Festival, or “Swing Into Spring” if you want the latest reported title.

Disneyland Paris in its usual self-aggrandising style has announced nothing, but information and speculation has been trickling out for almost two months now from various sources.

The speculated season looks set to revolve around a central street event, which will reuse three of the cars from Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars. The Monsters Inc and Snow White vehicles were removed from the Walt Disney Studios Park parade on Wednesday, 19th February, and are expected to be redecorated for the new cavalcade “happening”.

Joining them for the Disneyland Park event will be the Mary Poppins car, apparently leaving the Studios without a parade for the duration of the season — characters will simply perform a meet ‘n’ greet in the second park, instead. Update: @InsideDLParis informs that despite missing these three cars, Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars is planned to continue as a parade during the season.

Mary Poppins car in Disney's Stars 'n' CarsDisney's 20th Anniversary Celebration Train

Other rumours suggest the long-running Casey Jr train (Disney Characters Express, Minnie’s Party Train, Disney All Stars Express, Disney Dance Express, Disney’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Train) returning in some form with a similar colourful, floral, spring overlay.

Only the Disneyland Paris Casting website has confirmed plans for special spring events, with a casting notice (below) advertising for an impressive 102 dancers. Even taking into account days off, reducing the numbers in each actual performance, that’s a healthy figure.

Disneyland Paris Casting Spring Festival Dancers

Meanwhile, the fresh festival could also introduce some new floral decorations and street animations or meet ‘n’ greet opportunities. Concept art suggesting these was leaked by a blogger in early January and swiftly removed at the request of Disneyland Paris, stating the internal documents were not meant for public release.

More recently, a Mary Poppins “Jolly Holiday” theme has been mooted, which would be a good choice given the film’s fiftieth anniversary and renewed popularity thanks to Saving Mr Banks. This could be confirmed by the appearance of chalk paintings being tested on the pavement outside City Hall on Wednesday, photographed by @DisneylandPfans.

Spring Festival chalk painting test © DisneylandPfans

Created by an artist using just chalk, water and masking tape, it’s not known how these colourful paintings, like those mastered by Bert in the 1964 film, could be put to use as part of a season (or avoid the footsteps of idle visitors).

Dates: the “Spring Festival” is rumoured to run from 5th April to 22nd June, possibly with a “soft opening” day on 4th April, nicely filling the void in the resort’s calendar left by the “summer” opening of Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy. Again, no part of this speculated festival has been officially announced or confirmed by Disneyland Paris.

Gradually turning “Spring” into its own annual season makes perfect sense, and though this year looks like being more a trial of the concept (hence the lack of a big announcement too far in advance?), with continued investment it could conceivably become a third pillar season as important as Halloween and Christmas, driving repeat visitors without the need for those increasingly desperate, largely irrelevant year-long “festivals”.

Bonus: “Festival of Flowers” 1997 programme Read More…

Thursday, 20th February 2014

Plans to transfer Disney Hotel characters into Extra Magic Hours confirmed

Mickey Mouse at Disney's Hotel Cheyenne © Photos Magiques

As reported on Tuesday, Disneyland Paris does indeed plan to cancel the long-running Disney character meet ‘n’ greet locations at its Disney Hotels, in favour of having these characters appear during Extra Magic Hours instead.

Mouetto, admin of the top French forum Disney Central Plaza, has been able to confirm the rumours as a genuine “project” with Disneyland Paris, providing the following points of confirmation:

  • Disney characters will indeed disappear from the Disney Hotels in late November 2014 and will be reinstated in Disneyland Park during Extra Magic Hours, with several opportunities to meet and take photos while they prepare the opening of the park.
  • Characters will remain at the Inventions buffet restaurant in Disneyland Hotel and at Café Mickey.
  • There will be a new experience with Disney characters during breakfast at the Castle Club in Disneyland Hotel.
  • Guest satisfaction surveys have indicated the desire to meet and interact with more and more characters, but not necessarily in hotels. The presence of characters only came eighth in the main expectations of a Disney Hotel.

Currently there is no word of any changes to the character appearances at the Empire State Club of Disney’s Hotel New York and Golden Forest Club of Disney’s Sequoia Lodge, where the Disney stars appear during breakfast.

Besides the easier logistics of characters not having to travel to each hotel, the logic can make sense too. Whereas currently guests have the chance to meet just one or two characters in their hotel lobby, if all these characters are pooled together into the park it means much greater variety — and much better photo backdrops, too.

Offering them instead during Extra Magic Hours might not be favourable with late risers, but it’s a good way to ensure the extra characters remain a genuine benefit of Disney Hotel guests (and Annual Passport Dream holders). What will be missed we’re sure, though, are those fun character costumes, unique to each hotel.

VIA Mouetto (Disney Central Plaza), PHOTO Photos Magiques

Tuesday, 18th February 2014

Disney Parks gain queues for characters; Disney Hotels to lose them altogether?

Disneyland Paris Disney Hotels characters - Minnie Mouse © PhotosMagiques

Here’s a double Disney Character update with both good and possibly not-so-good news, depending on your view. First, the unconfirmed rumour that from November 2014 character meet ‘n’ greet locations will be removed from Disney Hotels.

This information seems to have first appeared in a tweet by @DisneyCharPhot on 10th November, then reiterated without a date by @DisneyMoi the next day, followed by a more precise date of 3rd November by @DLRPWonders just a minute later.

Rumour has it that as from early November characters will no longer visit the hotellobbies at DLP pic.twitter.com/MPDOQBE37i
— Disneycharacter Phot (@DisneyCharPhot) February 10, 2014

Starting sometime this year, characters will no longer be appearing at the Disney Hotels at #DisneylandParis!
— Disney-Me (@DisneyMoi) February 11, 2014

Starting November 3th 2014, characters will no longer be appearing at the Disney Hotels at Disneyland Paris!
— DLRP Wonders (@DLRPWonders) February 11, 2014

Obviously we must still treat this as a rumour, since Disneyland Paris has made no comment, but given the number of supporting claims and the fact that the Entertainment department is usually about as watertight as a pair of Captain Hook’s tights when it comes to revealing information, it’s quite hard to dismiss.

Note that the rumours state character dining such as the popular Inventions buffet at Disneyland Hotel would continue, and that it is only the character locations in the open lobby areas of each Disney Hotel which would not longer be used.

Why would Disneyland Paris do such a thing? Isn’t being able to meet Mickey in your hotel lobby a real benefit of staying in those hotels? First, it might not be common knowledge that Disneyland Paris is something of an anomaly with having Disney characters in its hotels. Other Disney resorts around the world are more reserved: characters only appear at their hotels, if at all, in restaurants and dining events, with the only similar exception we can find being California’s Disneyland Hotel, which advertises occasional characters in the lobby.

Goofy - Disneyland Paris - Disney's Hotel New York © PhotosMagiquesMinnie Mouse - Disneyland Paris - Disney's Sequoia Lodge © PhotosMagiques

There’s another side to the story that’s more surprising, though, as apparently it has become a genuine issue that some non-paying visitors and locals walk through the resort and around its hotels, meeting the characters without paying a cent. With that in mind, it’s probably a good decision to reserve the characters to places where only paying guests can meet them.

The story might have a silver lining, too, as Poppy the Monkey on magicforum suggests character numbers will simply be displaced from the hotels to Disneyland Park Extra Magic Hours:

“Hotel Guests are not going to lose out too much, ALL the Characters you could of met in your hotel will now be ready to welcome you exclusively in the Disneyland Park during the Extra Magic Hours.  So instead of just having 2 or 3 Characters to meet in your lobby in the morning, you will most likely be able to meet alot more throughout the park – imagine all the Characters usually hanging out at the 6 hotels (Disneyland Hotel will not be affected) will now converge on the park to prepare for the day, before all the regular Guests even arrive.”
Poppy the Monkey, magicforum

And it’s in the parks that we find our really good news.

Since the start of this year, the Entertainment department has been trialling organised queues for characters. No more pushing, shoving or mobbing: guests are simply organised into a proper line and asked to wait their turn. And it appears to be working.

Disneyland Paris queue for characters © InsideDLParis

Just this morning, @DisneylandPfans captured a queue of visitors waiting patiently to meet Goofy on Main Street, PixieDust.be reported it working well in their latest update, while InsideDLParis has shared snaps (above) of numerous working queues since this initiative began in early January.

It’s fair to say that if you skimmed any number of Disneyland Paris reviews, especially those comparing with other resorts, the disorderly character appearances would always be consistently mentioned. Could it finally be a thing of the past?

This is without doubt one of the most welcome recent developments for the parks. And such a minor change: an extra character minder here, a polite “please join the queue!” there. If only park managers could continue through the whole experience of being in the parks with the same fine tooth comb and fix a few other similar niggles for us…

PHOTOS 1 – 3 Photos Magiques, PHOTO 4 InsideDLParis

Tuesday, 18th February 2014

Disneyland Paris contest invites children to design their own “Imagination Castle”

Disneyland Paris presents The Imagination Castle

Bringing Home Imagineering to the masses, Disneyland Paris has launched its latest promotional effort dubbed “The Imagination Castle”, an online competition inviting children to become the next Tom Morris and design their own Sleeping Beauty Castle.

From 6th to 24th February, children aged 3 to 8 years old can draw, paint or create their own imaginary castle and have their parent or guardian submit it to win a full board trip to Disneyland Paris and a chance to see the “Imagination Castle” itself brought to life. A mélange of all the winning entries, the castle will actually take shape somewhere in the centre of Paris — so don’t fear for crayon marks and paint smudges on our dear Château.

The contest is being run concurrently for residents of the United Kingdom, France (Le Château de l’Imagination), Spain (El Castillo de l’Imaginación), the Netherlands (Het Kasteel van de Verbeelding) and Belgium, with three winners from each competition.

Here’s the English promotional video:

It’s worth noting from the competition rules that Euro Disney S.C.A. will not be held responsible for “any damage caused to a Candidate’s computer”, so do make sure your child doesn’t paint directly onto the screen — and don’t forget the all-important dragon underneath.

VIA The Imagination Castle

Saturday, 15th February 2014

Disneyland Paris condensed: fun facts and figures of the 2013 Annual Review

Euro Disney S.C.A. 2013 Annual Review

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…

  • Disneyland Paris has now been visited more than 275 million times
  • Between 2009 and 2013, around €510 million has been invested in the maintenance and development of the destination
  • There are over 14,000 Cast Members working over 500 different professions; 6,454 employees were hired in 2013
  • Inclusivity: Over 581 workers are disabled, an increase of over 50% since 2007, whilst 53 “seniors” aged over 50 were hired in 2013
  • Climbing the ladder: 80% of Managers and Senior Managers present in 2013 had been promoted internally, while the group hired 458 local residents who had experienced long-term unemployment
  • Val d’Europe now has 30,000 residents and provides 28,000 jobs
  • Hotel refurbishment programme is on-going, covering all 5,800 rooms, with all 1,100 rooms of Disney’s Newport Bay Club to be completed in 2014
  • 14.9 million visitors in 2013 (down from 16 million in 2012 and 15.6 in 2011)
  • Hotel occupancy down to 79.3% in 2013, from 84% in 2012 and 87.1% in 2011
  • Guest spending continues to grow: the average guest spends €48.14 in the parks and €235.01 per room in the Disney Hotels
  • Interest charges on the group’s debt were reduced by €20.4 million in 2013 thanks to the €1.3 billion refinancing by The Walt Disney Company in 2012
  • According to questionnaires, 63% of guests were “extremely” and “very” satisfied with their visits; 89% of guests would “definitely” and “probably” come back
  • Disney Dreams! scored a 92% guest satisfaction rating for fiscal year 2013
  • 4 million items have been sold at World of Disney since its opening in 2012
  • Staffed 24 hours a day by 200 Cast Members, the “Hercules” warehouse complex is more than 15 times the size of an Olympic swimming pool; in 2013 it was refitted with dimming, sensing, low-energy lighting by partner Osram
  • Scheduled for completion in late 2015, the fifth Val de France hotel, to be operated by B&B Hotels, will add 400 rooms to the resort
  • 90% of the land at Villages Nature will not be built on; the Center Parcs joint project will be developed in several phases over the next 20 years
  • 87 milion gallons of drinking water are expected to be saved each year once the new backstage water treatment and recycling plant becomes fully operational
  • Ratatouille: l’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy will be “by far the most advanced and sophisticated thing we’ve ever done from a ride integration standpoint. It will offer guests a totally immersive experience into a Disney•Pixar adventure” — Joe Schott, Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
  • “This never-before-seen family attraction will magically shrink guests to the size of the movie’s adorable star, Rémy. They will then be whisked off for a multi-sensory spin around the kitchens of Chef Gusteau”

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.

Disneyland Paris geographical breakdown of visitors 2003
Disneyland Paris geographical breakdown of visitors 2013

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?

SOURCE Euro Disney S.C.A. Annual Review 2013, Full PDF (7.9MB download)

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