Tuesday, 10th November 2009

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Unless you’re about to visit the resort and pick up some of these for real (for €7 at any of the parks’ Christmas market villages), you’ll have to make do with some photos.

And, since you’ll likely just be drooling and/or ordering a larger pair of jeans whilst feasting your eyes on these, we’ll let the pictures — and Thierry Marx — do the talking…

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

His presentation on Main Street explained the concept and the manufacturing process to the press, but where did it all begin? With a little inspiration — from the tried and true sweet traditions already at Disneyland Park

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Then, it was into the kitchen!

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

What attracted you to this new project?

Thierry Marx: “Those childhood memories, that have resurfaced in me, with much pleasure and wonder. For me, arriving at Disneyland Paris, it’s held completely in its own space and time. It’s a break from the daily grind, a real journey for the senses, without any interruption. Anything is possible, everyone can descend into their thoughts and dreams, something very precious.”

Is Disneyland a different world for you?

Thierry Marx: “On the contrary, this experience matched my philosophy. Like Disney, I do not like seeing conflict between tradition and innovation. The establishment can continue to do things. The pleasure of my work lies in the possibility of being at the forefront of innovation, while preserving the French culinary heritage.”

What most inspired you in the world of Disneyland Paris?

Thierry Marx: “The magic, the indulgent pleasure of just enjoying being together in a different world. I’ve always remembered the opening day of Disneyland Paris well. It represents for me the perfect place to recharge your inner childhood batteries. All the worlds intersect… Space Mountain in Discoveryland makes me dream of what I read in the stories of Jules Verne but Disneyland is also fairy tales, Mickey and your earliest childhood.”

How is this experience a reflection of your gastronomic practice?

Thierry Marx: “I want to make the dream. Everyone can share a real culinary experience with this outdoor vending “street food”, even if it is not obvious today. There is a real chance to share in dreams from the kitchen and instigate interaction between people. Best of all: it’s an international principle, there’s no language barrier.”

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Towards the end, Mickey Mouse showed up in his full chefs’ gear, taking all the glory with the final dipping and dusting-off of the finished foods.

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Thierry Marx whips up first batch of sweet treats

Job done!

Pictures © Disney.

Monday, 2nd November 2009

EMH + WDS = Confirmed!

We reported last week that, for three weekends in late November and early December, both parks would be opening at 9am rather than 10am, as has been custom since the introduction of those two Extra Magic Hours (EMH) at Disneyland Park.

Better than that, there were hints of those extra hours making their way to Walt Disney Studios Park for the first time. Hints that are now… confirmed! From the official Disneyland Paris website:

NEW
Walt Disney Studios will be exceptionnally opened from 8am to 9am for Extra Magic Hours on November 28th and 29th, and on December 5th, 6th, 12th and 13th, 2009.

So, if you’re visiting on those six dates (and qualify for EMH), you’ll get to enjoy a world-premiere: one hour of exclusive ride time in the Studios, from 8am to 9am, before other guests.

EMH + WDS = Confirmed!
Coming soon to a Studios near us?

The attractions to be opened for the trial haven’t been publicly announced anywhere, but it appears generally agreed upon that they’ll be the most prominent ride-based favourites: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah and of course, Crush’s Coaster.

Riding the EAC may no longer take an hour or more of queueing, but it remains to be seen what effect this has on regular, non-EMH-qualifying guests. Since it became the norm to run straight to Crush as soon as the park opens, how will these regular visitors feel if they arrive only to find the Crush’s Coaster queue already populated by more privileged ride fans?

Finally, park hours for the rest of December have now been published. Though they’re not as generous as these three weekends, we do see the opening time at Disneyland Park giving way slightly to regular guests — now set at 9.30am, rather than 10am, making EMH a still-respectable hour and half window. This is the first time in almost 10 years we’ve seen park hours go into half-hours, and the flexibility is very welcome indeed.

• Check the December 2009 park hours
• Find out more about Extra Magic Hours

Monday, 19th October 2009

Parks open from 9am, Extra Hours at the Studios?

Bringing Extra Magic Hours (EMH) over to Disneyland Paris was a great bonus for a lot of guests and almost all fans of the resort, able to enjoy an extra two hours in Disneyland Park each morning thanks to their Disney Hotel or Annual Passport Dream.

However, those two extra hours, starting at 8am, caused the park’s regular opening time to be pushed back to 10am. Any guests not able to use EMH therefore actually lost an hour of time in the park. In fact, make that plural — despite not offering the bonus, the chance was also taken to save a little money by keeping the attractions at Walt Disney Studios Park closed till 10am, too.

Parks open from 9am, Extra Hours at the Studios?

Thank the record weekend attendance of last Christmas, then, because this December will finally see both parks return to full 9am opening times on Saturdays and Sundays. Park hours for the first two weeks of the month were published today, confirming the change. Last year, weekends in early December saw major traffic on roads leading to the resort and its main parking lot, with the amount of guests visiting to enjoy the special seasonal events even forcing the closure of Disneyland Park’s gates for several hours at the busiest point of the day.

But what does this earlier opening mean for those two extra hours? Well, they’ll be downsized to just one hour at Disneyland Park… but if wishes come true, they could become two again. Reports (posted by Mouetto, moderator on Disney Central Plaza) suggest that these days could also see Walt Disney Studios Park opened to EMH guests from 8am.

So far, however, the official website’s EMH page remains geared toward only Disneyland Park. If extra time is to be granted over at the Studios, the resort will have to work hard to reword their print and promote such a bonus.

• Check the latest park opening times at our new-look Calendar.

Sunday, 18th October 2009

Contactless payments trial now at resort locations

This “Paiements sans Contact” initiative was first announced back in July and began right on schedule on 3rd October.

How does it work? Unfortunately, it won’t work at all for most of us yet. Although most of us have seen the waterslide advert for Barclaycard’s system, the technology now at Disneyland Paris is currently only open to users who have a (French) bank account with CIC or Crédit Mutuel (who just recently actually became a new official partner of the resort), and have already signed up to a trial of those banks’ early contactless payment schemes.

If you’re lucky enough to qualify for all of that, your new credit card contains a special chip that can be read without contact when lightly touched or flashed across one of the new devices, first caught on camera by Scrooge at Disney Magic Interactive in Walt Disney Studios Store:

Contactless payments trial now at resort locations

This allows users to pay for their Disney shopping — or even better, food — in a second. No fumbling with Euro cent coins, no waiting behind someone as they try every combination of four digits possible. Contactless cards allow instant payments up to a certain, safe amount. Just imagine the effect that could have within a few years on those ugly counter service queues.

You’ll find the trial machines now at the following locations:

Casey’s Corner (Disneyland Park)
Café Hyperion (Disneyland Park)
Chalet de la Marionette (Disneyland Park)
Disney Blockbuster Café (Walt Disney Studios Park)
Club House Grill (Golf Disneyland)

Walt Disney Studios Store (Walt Disney Studios Park)
Goofy’s Pro Shop (Golf Disneyland)

Not that such an innovation needs a carrot to quash any possible stick, but Disneyland Paris are also offering trial users of the scheme an incredibly generous 25% discount at boutiques and 20% discount at restaurants!

Oh, but one more condition of the test — you need an Annual Passport, too.

Phew, we don’t see the man on the waterslide going through all this… but it’s definitely something to watch for the future. Find out all the official information (in French) right here.

Photo: Scrooge.

Monday, 12th October 2009

E-Tickets finally meet Fastpass

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.

Now, at long last, a far better solution has been spotted by member LHDN92 on Disney Central Plaza forum:

E-Tickets finally meet Fastpass

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).

E-Tickets finally meet Fastpass

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.

Images: LHDN92, Disney Central Plaza; eBay.co.uk.

Thursday, 17th September 2009

X-Ray checks at the Disneyland park gate

Chances are you’ve had your baggage, err — examined — when entering either park at Disneyland Paris. A quick look inside, a hesitant squeeze from underneath and a blank nod to let you through.

…As if they couldn’t tell already from the Donald Duck baseball cap, Walt Disney Studios jacket and array of cameras that the only ones who need be worried about you are the other people running straight to the Big Thunder Mountain Fastpass line…

Next time, though, things might go a bit differently. Spotted at the gates of Disneyland Park on the final Wednesday of August (still catching up a bit on news here), was a full airport-style X-ray machine and metal detector, housed in a special green tent next to the regular bag checks.

X-Ray checks at the Disneyland park gate

X-Ray checks at the Disneyland park gate

Guests entering the gate with suitcases (say, heading to the Guest Storage or to Disneyland Hotel) were asked to move across and join the extra line, as were a random selection of other guests waiting in the queues to enter. The check was treated just as another line, and in fact appeared to be gone (or out of use) just a few days later.

These security measures appear to be a new addition to the park gate, though they have been spotted at the park entrance by the side of Disneyland Hotel in the past. The machinery here was hidden well behind the tent and no doubt made things much easier for people with large luggage, worried about having to open up and display their worldly possessions to everyone else in line.

Over at Walt Disney Studios Park, the security check remained a quick look inside your bag. And of course, once inside, you can hop between both parks. Probably for good reason, it all remains more about deterrents than an exhaustive process.

Pictures: DLRP Today.com

Thursday, 17th September 2009

Bottle recycling bins – the (unwelcome) buzz

And no, not the kind of guest who writes graffiti in the Crush’s Coaster queue, stands in front of you on the parade route or climbs on the flower beds of Central Plaza.

For all the masses of people and sickly sweet foods, what’s the one thing mostly — and surprisingly — missing from Disneyland? The wasps.

Unfortunately, when you’ve got a bin with four wide open holes and a collection of sticky drinks bottles, that seems to be what you get:

Recycling bins

Recycling bins

Being “tested” across Walt Disney Studios Park since August, the new bins seemed to attract rather a lot of the unpopular insects on a warm day, far more than your average (closed) park trash can. These photos were taken in the Toon Plaza area at the back of Toon Studio within just a few minutes.

Open holes also seem to be used for the better-themed bins we provided as examples from other Disney parks around the world, but only one or two per bin. Seeing the wasps, let’s hope there’s a rethink of the design if these are to be rolled out “resort-wide” — if only for those few fleeting months of hot weather Paris enjoys each year.

The chaos caused by a single wasp in a Disney queue line cannot be overstated.

Pictures: DLRP Today.com

Wednesday, 19th August 2009

How not to end your day: Car catches fire

Talk about returning to the real world. The main guest parking saw an interesting turn of events the evening of last Wedneday, 12th August 2009, when a car caught fire and turned into a quite spectacular blaze.

Though we certainly wouldn’t recommend standing close to and filming a car as it burns, the captured event does give us a (thankfully) rare glimpse at the resort’s fire service, who swooped in and swiftly extinguished the blaze like magic…

Short circuit is the most common guess, but still, we can’t rule out guests getting bored of the same stunts at Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular for the last seven years and trying to stage their own show in the parking lot… or can we?

Video: miuet81, Youtube.

Friday, 19th December 2008

More preparations for busiest weekend of year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and, for several years now, the busiest for Disneyland Resort Paris. As the success of the resort’s Christmas season has gone from strength to strength, it has truly replaced the Summer season as the key high season for the two Disney Parks.

However, all this festive cheer has a downside. Because, though Christmas Season runs for effectively the same length as Christmas, the core holiday period when families can visit is mostly condensed into just two weeks either side of Christmas Day itself. This weekend, between the 20th and 22nd December, is therefore the most hectic of all, not least in a record-breaking term where the resort is attracting over 15 million guests per year.

So, what are the preparations? On Tuesday, we spread word that the resort was taking the unprecedented step of advising visitors without hotel packages or dated tickets against visiting. However, as was pointed out, the warning was only posted on the ticket pages of the French official website — and furthermore, vanished a few hours after our article was published.

The warning was true enough, and the placement only on the French website was actually entirely intentional — trying to dissuade French visitors with cheap offer tickets from visiting at the busiest time of the year. Everyone is, of course, welcome to visit the resort this weekend, but you may well have to contend with some horribly busy parks.

Image

Annual Passport holders were also given the warning, via an email sent out to the entire mailing list, suggesting visits would be better saved for another day.

Now, the Events Calendar pages of the official website have a different, additional warning in place:

Conseil Malin pour venir à Disneyland Resort Paris

Si vous désirez vous rendre à Disneyland Resort Paris avec votre véhicule, nous vous conseillons de planifier votre arrivée avant 9h30 ou après 11h30 afin d’éviter les ralentissements.

Nous vous conseillons également d’utiliser les transports en commun en empruntant le RER A, terminus « Marne la Vallée Chessy » ou les lignes de bus.

This is again an announcement we’ve never known from Disneyland Resort Paris — if you’re going to be arriving by car at the resort, you’re recommended to try to plan your arrival either before 9:30am or after 11:30am, to avoid tailbacks on the A4 autoroute and access roads. Or, an even better option — use the public transport options such as the RER A line or local bus services.

This warning comes after the huge traffic levels seen around the resort on recent weekends.

Image

Finally, once all these guests are at Disneyland Resort Paris, they’re now being given a special Christmas treat to help cope with the huge visitor levels: extended opening hours at Walt Disney Studios Park!

Originally scheduled to open only from 10:00am to 7:00pm, the longest regular hours the park usually sees, an exception has been made to keep the gates of the Studios open right up until 9:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, likely to prevent Disneyland Park seeing an evening overflow of too many extra guests.

— You can find the updated opening hours on the relaunched DLRP Magic! Calendar.

[Lead image: www.photosmagiques.com]

Tuesday, 16th December 2008

Warning: Sunday 21st December will be FULL

It’s not the kind of message you expect to read on the Disneyland website, but for this Sunday, 21st December 2008, the official line really is: don’t visit today.

The urgent notice has only been posted on the ticket pages of the French official website. It reads:

• Attention: Le 21 Décembre nos parcs vont subir une très forte affluence.
• Nos billets ne sont plus disponibles à cette date.
• Il est fortement recommandé aux personnes non munies d’un billet ou munies d’un billet non daté de décaler leur visite sur notre site à une autre date.

Roughly translated, this warning announces that, on 21st December, the Disney Parks will have very high attendance levels. Tickets can no longer be purchased for this date, and it is strongly recommended that people without a ticket or without a dated entrance ticket for this day reschedule their visit for another day.

If you’re staying at a Disney Hotel or you’ve booked a package including tickets at one of the partner hotels, your tickets will be dated and you will be guaranteed access — but do prepare for a very, very busy Disneyland Park, with waiting times in excess of 2 hours at most major attractions.

Image
Image: Yao, Disney Central Plaza forum

This announcement comes just a week after Disneyland Park officially reached its capicity and the gates had to be closed. On Saturday, 6th December 2008, guests arriving late would have been faced with the sudden appearance of a “PARC DISNEYLAND – COMPLET/FULL” sign on the resort hub, with only the choice to visit Walt Disney Studios Park for the day instead.

Visitors on this day described long queues on the resort’s access roads and A4 motorway, with guests being allowed to park for free in a bid to ease the congestion. Disneyland Park’s official capacity is believed to be around 85,000 guests.

Image
Image: Nicholas-c, magicforum

Though parks reaching capacity can be quite common at other Disney resorts, particularly Disneyland Resort in California, where the original Disneyland park regularly has to close its gates on exceptionally busy dates, this is a very new thing for Disneyland Resort Paris. Clearly, with now more than 16 million visitors wanting to experience the parks each year, their popularity is becoming too much to handle.

Whilst these kind of attendance levels are obviously incredibly bad for visitors on the day, they do highlight the need for further expansion and make it ever more likely. Notably at Walt Disney Studios Park, which still does not apparently present enough of a draw to sufficiently take pressure off its older cousin.

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