It was confirmed today that all four Mickey’s Princesses & Pirates Party events, due to take place in June, have been officially cancelled. Originally scheduled for the 1st, 10th, 17th and 24th June, the new after-hours parties promised exclusive events and character encounters, with attractions open in Adventureland and Fantasyland, for €25 or £22. Anyone who has already bought tickets will be contacted directly by Disneyland Paris with an official statement.
We announced the details just last month and you can see the full list of events-that-weren’t-to-be on a guide page here. No reason for the cancellation has yet been given, although the obvious assumption would be poor ticket sales. The combination of Pirates, Princesses and exclusive after-hours rides might have seemed a winning formula, but for events costing €25 and beginning at 8pm, when most children are already tired or worn out from a day in the parks, they were perhaps pinpointed at a much too young demographic. Beyond the rides, the promised entertainment offered little for all but the most obsessive character fans, and even the attraction count was a meagre eight with Pirates of the Caribbean the biggest thrill. Similar events in the US have given access to the whole park and often a fireworks show, enticing adult visitors. Hopefully this won’t put off any future attempts for new nighttime parties at Disneyland Paris — but next time, perhaps some better audience research could be involved.
Which countries were the biggest visitors to Disneyland Paris in 2010? Last week’s AGM presentation was published online this morning and includes the exact percentages for the past year, showing an interesting shift in where those 15 million visitors are travelling from. Here’s the big news: For perhaps the first time in the resort’s history, more than 50% of visitors came from France itself — a huge 51%, to be precise. This seems to show a big boost from the resort’s home country, but may hide continued falls in attendance from surrounding countries. Back in 2002, for example, the percentage of visitors from France was just 40%, whilst an impressive 21% of visitors had travelled across the channel from the United Kingdom. In 2010, that figure has dropped dramatically to just 12%, perhaps the lowest percentage of British visitors ever, after falling from 20% in 2006, 18% in 2007, 16% in 2008 and 14% in 2009 — a worrying trend of falling visitor numbers every year for the past five years now.
Visitors from the Benelux meanwhile have remained relatively steady in percentage terms over the past decade, with Belgium and Luxembourg making up 7% of visitors in both 2010 and 2009, having been recorded at 6% for 2002 and 2006. The Netherlands appears to have experienced a slight drop in prominence, at 7% of visitors for 2010 but previously having made up 8% in 2006 and 9% in 2002. One big success for Disneyland Paris in recent years has been in attracting more guests from Spain, but even here the draw appears to be waning. Back in 2002, Spain was even combined with Italy, for a total 9% of visitors, but by 2005 had attained this number all by itself. Spanish visitors appeared to reach their peak in 2008, making up 11% of guests, but this dropped to 8% in 2009 and 2010. Finally, visitors from the rest of the world have remained steady at 9%, having stuck at that percentage for the past decade (though Euro Disney SCA claims an increasing demand from visitors of further afield for 2010).
But wait — we’re forgetting somewhere. Making just 3% of visitors in 2010, Germany is at risk of barely even registering on the figures. This German market has dropped consistently for the past few years — from 4% in 2006, 5% in 2005 and 7% back in 2002 — despite being a wealthy country of 80 million where Disney is as popular as anywhere, with several big theme parks of its own. Those successful parks might be part of the problem, as might the lack of a direct Eurostar-style link, but surely this should be a bigger market for the resort. Back in 1992, it seemed to be expected that Germany would be right behind the UK as one of the biggest visitors. So, what’s keeping Deutschland away from Disneyland?
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?
Since the blacklight trickery of this unique show relies on props being moved around the stage by performers dressed all black, making them appear to “fly” in thin air, all photography of any kind has been banned right from the 2002 premiere. This was taken up a step in recent years as the Guest Flow cast members who manage the audience were given orders to run up and down the aisles with warning signs showing a crossed-out camera flash. (Shame the same can’t be done on Pirates of the Caribbean, eh?)
Given as a cute warning by the recorded voices of children, the bid to keep the theatre camera flash free and “not scary dark, just really dark” serves to ensure the show isn’t spoiled for guests and (more importantly) that the performers’ retinas stay intact, since they have to prepare their eyes to move around on the pitch-black stage. A bright, dazzling flash could cause those magical Jungle Book palm trees to wobble for the wrong reason.
So, when our photo reporter Dlrpteam sent these photos over recently, it was a surprise to say the least. Real photos from inside Animagique? Why, you’d be more likely to get a photo of Disney Studio 1 without a tower of scaffolding stuck to the front…
The explanation? When Animagiquereturned from its brief hiatus-slash-refurbishment on 30th January, the pre-show spiel had been changed to read more along the lines of the Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage! warnings, which state nice and clearly that whilst flash photography is prohibited, you’re more than welcome to photograph and film the show.
Besides the great plus that the show’s many fans could finally capture it on camera, the move appeared to have other positive implications — no need for Cast Members to wave the warning signs; no need for them to patrol the audience with a torch, disturbing the show. And, with pictures or video on film, the show might be remembered and recommended by visitors a little more. Despite playing up to 5 times a day almost 365-days a year, it sometimes feels all but forgotten about.
Alas, pointless to continue with those positives. The spiel has now apparently reverted back to the original and all photography is now once again banned. The reason? Too many LCD screens floating around!
Hope you enjoyed your time out of the blacklight, Animagique!
Back in 1992, faithful Air France were one of the resort’s most important travel partners. After all, the high speed TGV rail connection was still two years away, and the UK’s direct connection to the magic via Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel not due until 1996.
But, as airlines such as itself focus more and more on long haul flights, it appears Disneyland Paris have looked to one of the successful low cost airlines, snapping up the short haul market, to give visitors more choice when booking a package.
As of 19th January 2010, Flybe.com signed closer links with the resort, effectively becoming one of its preferred travel partners. Compare the Autumn/Winter 2009 brochure with the updated Spring/Summer 2010 brochure, announcing the new options as available “soon”:
Flybe, the UK’s Number One Domestic Airline, has teamed up with Disneyland Paris® in a move that will pave the way for exciting promotions and added incentives for Flybe passengers to include flights, accommodation and theme park ticket packages. The deal builds on two successful campaigns that Flybe has previously run with Europe’s leading tourist destination.
Hugh Wood, VP and MD of Disney Destinations International says: “Disney Destinations is excited about expanding the business – this is very positive news for Disneyland Paris and our guests as it offers a wider choice of travel options for them.”
Flybe flights from Belfast City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, Glasgow, Jersey, Manchester and Southampton to Paris Charles de Gaulle can now be booked at the same time as your package via the Disneyland Paris booking hotline. In return, Flybe will be promoting Disneyland Paris more heavily as a destination for its Paris flights.
As visitors increasingly sniff at paying the higher prices of airlines like Air France for short hops, it makes sense for Disney not to be losing out on these booking commissions — at the same time making clear how easy it can still be to get to the resort for people who don’t live in the South East.
…But only in French. Since the first promotion of the tour has been spotted via the Annual Passholder site, it is, like all elements of the resort’s Passeport Annuel service, available only “en Français”.
More forgivably, as confirmed by Andichatz in the comments on our first article, the tour itself will also only be presented in French, as the script and guide are not yet prepared for other languages. Hopefully it will be lapped up quick enough that it continues on, with other languages made available.
The new page on the official website communicates mostly the same information reported previously — tours every Saturday from the 18th December with groups of no more than 10 people. The meeting point is not the Tower of Terror itself but Studio Services in Front Lot, and a start time is also confirmed: 9.10am.
One plus for Annual Passholders: You can enjoy the tour for just €9.60, rather than €12.
However, whilst it’s advertised on the site as “Les coulisses de la Tour de la Terreur”, there’s no mention that this will actually offer a true backstage tour of the tower, going behind the layers of Disney theming — instead, it aims to add to the magic on stage.
With word that the first tour is already booked-up, here’s hoping for a translation soon.
As 2010 and the opening of Toy Story Playland draws nearer, we’ve no doubt all begun to wonder what will become of the other Toy Story outlets across the hub. Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, Woody’s Roundup and the Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade float will all stay for a good while yet, but what about that forgotten corner… that quick tie-in from back in 1997, when Disneyland Paris jumped (rather slowly) on the Toy Story bandwagon? Will it finally be put out into the yard sale?
Far from it. The Pizza Burger could be about to stage a comeback. According to Fab’, a Cast Member posting on Disney Central Plaza, the dated Pizza Planet restaurant in Disneyland Park may well soon be offering a new menu concept with one interesting resort-wide exclusive: unlimited drinks.
Stating that they had taken part in a study about changes to the counter service location, the member suggests that the menu price would be elevated to around €15, with starter, main, dessert and that unlimited drink all included.
At the same time, it seems the tired décor could be in line for changes, too. But no removal of Woody and Buzz — no return to the Discoveryland of visionaries and science fiction. No, the theme will apparently “still be based on Toy Story“. So a higher price, a quick fix-up here and there, and has a perfect cash-in for next year’s New Generation Festival and the release of Toy Story 3 been found?
Wondering why this place, very faintly based on the far more wondrous Pizza Planet of the original Toy Story film, is housed within a badly-concealed tent just beyond the berm? It was originally an exhibition space as part of the Space Festival in 1995 and 1996, tied into the Space Mountain opening, but was craftily repurposed the following year to fill a need for more counter service provision. All a far cry from the lavish Vulcania restaurant which was originally meant to sit at the other end of the land, opposite were Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast is now.
No dates have been set since this is still to be taken as a pure rumour, but it does come just after Toy Story characters apparently began to make appearances at the restaurant once again. It’s just unfortunate that, even if they make it less of a hole, it’ll soon be on completely the wrong side of the resort to where it needs to be…
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.
On 19th December 2009, the VIP and Guided Tours service launches a first in the world of Disney Parks — a guided tour dedicated solely to one attraction: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
The trial, announced by Grandmath on Disney Central Plaza, will see groups of no more than 10 explore the abandoned Hollywood Tower Hotel for 1 hour as a guide, well versed in the secrets and legends, explains and highlights the fascinating hidden details, in-jokes and Twilight Zone nods.
Taking place on Saturday mornings before park opening, the tours will give a unique angle on the unique attraction, allowing guests to experience exclusive, privatised access to the lobby and library rooms, before concluding their tour of “La Tour” with a drop into the fifth dimension aboard the service elevator itself.
Expect to pay €12 (discounts possible for Annual Passholders), with the tours subject to demand and availability. To begin with, they’re only running on a trial basis. Guest satisfaction will be assessed to see if the Twilight Zone Tour can become a full-time offering.
Information is available at City Hall, Studio Services or by calling +33 (0) 1 64 74 21 26. The VIP/Guided Tours service may also be able to help with enquiries via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Guided Tours of the two parks will continue, available for €15 at Disneyland Park and €10 at Walt Disney Studios Park, which does feature The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror but in much lesser detail. They’re free for under 12s and available in several languages depending on availability on the day.
From 5th January 2010, the direct morning service from London St Pancras International and Ashford International will no longer run on Tuesdays or Saturdays except during school holidays, industry journal Travel Weekly has reported.
Eurostar blames the impending cut-back on the need to cut costs due to the recession.
“It’s a reflection of the prevailing economic conditions and particularly a reflection of demand from the UK,” said Eurostar spokeswoman Lesley Retallack. “The exchange rate doesn’t help, and families are having to look at their budgets. Eurostar has to ensure it uses its capacity efficiently and if it can make savings it will. This is very much about being sensible and practising good housekeeping.”
Eurostar added that the services could be reinstated if demand increased again. According to the report, a spokesperson for Disneyland Paris declined to comment on the basis that the cut-backs were decided by Eurostar. Nevertheless, senior vice-president sales and distribution Norbert Stiekema said: “It is due to lack of demand from the UK market, which prefers to use the Friday service.”
The demand may not be there currently, but hopefully Eurostar will be ready to react as soon as the market changes. With the continuing Euro/Sterling currency problems, there are enough barriers already for guests looking to book from the UK. Other (later) trains are of course available, with a change at Lille, but this swift 2 hour 30 minute service has become a key selling point for the European resort.
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