Disneyland Paris | 14 Updates from Disneyland Paris - New restaurant, MagicCards, and Character Meet changes

dlp 25th logo anniversary

As we inch closer to Disneyland Paris' 25th anniversary in less than a year's time, updates continue to come to the parks. Here is a list of changes that have happened over the past few months.

1) A new Italian restaurant, Vapiano, is opening in Summer 2016 at Disney Village. If the prices and food quality stay the same as they are at the UK restaurants, this is going to be a fantastic addition to the resort. More from Disneyland Paris here.

2) A re-opening date as well as information on the refurbishment has been released for La Cabane des Robinson has been released - September 10, 2016.

3) Disneyland Paris advanced park tickets and parking prices went up. Read our article here.

4) An RFID-enabled MagicCard has debuted for testing at Disney's Newport Bay Club and Hotel New York. You can use it for entry into your room, proof of residence for breakfast, use your half-board and full-board meal coupons, access Extra Magic Hours (though park tickets are not yet integrated, so you need those separately), and use it as a form of payment by linking it to a debit or credit card. Information in French from ED92. As of 26th April, guests of Disney's Hotel Cheyenne were also testing the new card.

5) Photopass+ prices have increased. Now €59.99 for guests, and €49.99 for annual pass holders.

6) The characters that were available in the morning are once again gone from the Disney Hotels. They may re-appear during peak times.

7) A new CEO of Euro Disney has been announced, Catherine Powell with replace Tom Wolber in July 2016. Press release here.

8) Since April 16, 2016 the reservation system at Princess Pavilion is no longer in use. Guests will queue up to meet the Princesses with no reservation required.

9) Some of the newly refurbished rooms at Hotel Cheyenne have been unveiled courtesy of Disneyland Paris Treasures. They look fantastic.

10) ED92 tells us that the Disneyland Paris half Marathon has already been confirmed to return between September 22nd and 24th, 2017.

11) Ant-Man is to stop playing at the Discoveryland Theatre, with last showing on May 8th, 2016. Rumours say that the theatre will re-open with a Pixar Shorts Film Festival (like has been at EPCOT for months) on 2nd July.

12) The new show coming to Walt Disney Studios Park, Mickey and the Magician, will only be running for a limited time from 2nd July 2016 to 8th January 2017. Shows will be in both French and English.

13) According to the latest Times Guide, a few characters are moving at Disneyland Paris. Winnie the Pooh has moved to Fantasyland near the Tea Cups, and Donald/friends have moved to near Plaza Gardens.

14) Celebration badges have arrived at Disneyland Paris at City Hall and Studio services. Now you can celebrate any occasion with badges in English, French and Spanish. A great way to boost the guest experience.

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That's it for this edition. Be sure to stick with Independent Guides for all the latest information on Disneyland Paris and beyond.

Disneyland Resort | 19 Updates from the parks for April 21st, 2016

The Disneyland Resort is constantly evolving and changing and we endeavour to keep our travel guide books (in both print and digital format) as up to date as possible. If you have an earlier edition of our guide book to the Disneyland Resort, here are all the changes since our last edition was published.

1) Disney's Aladdin Musical has closed. Frozen: Live at the Hyperion will be taking over starting May 27th, 2016. More info here.

2) Superhero HQ in Tomorrowland has closed. You can now meet Spider-Man and Captain America at Disney California Adventure instead, in Hollywood Land.

3) Disneyland has adopted seasonal pricing for one-day tickets so if you visit on a day that is expected to be more crowded, you will pay more. They have also increased the price of multi-day tickets by about $20 per ticket. 

4) Many attractions temporarily closed for the construction of Star Wars Land in January 2016. There is no re-opening date for these at this time. Notably, Fantasmic will also not be shown for the moment. Here is a look at what the Rivers of America will look like when the transformation is made. Disneyland Railroad is open for stationary visits.

5) As Fantastic is gone, there are now dining packages for Paint the Night Parade instead. Details here.

6) A Tangled show has returned to the Royal Theatre in Fantasyland, and a Beauty and the Beast show.

7) You can now meet Star Wars' Kylo Ren at the parks.

8) House of Blues is closing on May 31st.

9) Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel now does Afternoon Tea.

10) There have been enhancements to the Disneyland app, including the arrival of one-day Photopass option.

11) Mad T Party closed on March 30, 2016.

12) Food and Wine Festival arrives at DCA. More info here and here.

13) Luigi's Rollicking' Roadsters opens with a 32" minimum height limit.

14) New characters come to Turtle Talk with Crush.

15) Zootopia characters coming to the park.

16) Star Wars Land broke ground in April.

17) World of Color Dessert Party launched.

18) Second Starbucks opening in 2016 at Downtown Disney.

19) Avengers Half Marathon is rethemed.

Walt Disney World | Guide book Updates for 20th April 2016

Walt Disney World is constantly evolving, to keep you up to date here are the developments since the latest edition of our guidebook was published in mid-March. These changes will all be included in the new revision of our guides.

1) Seasonal One-Day Ticket pricing has arrived at the parks. Now depending on when you visit, the pricing will be different if you buy a one-day ticket. The busier the season, the more expensive entry will be. More info here.

2) Many new shops have been announced for the expansion of Disney Springs. Read a detailed list here and here. A new bakery is opening too.

3) Frozen Ever After the new ride at Epcot will have a minimum height limit of 48 inches (1.22m)

4) Acts have been announced for this year's Night of Joy event. More information here, with ticket prices here.

5) A few Hollywood Studios attractions have closed as foreseen in our guide. Areas have been renamed. See here.

6) Magic Kingdom no longer allows Fastpass+ reservations for parades and fireworks. See here.

7) Details have been released for the 2016 Halloween parties at the Magic Kingdom. See here.

8) Details for Magic Kingdom's Christmas parties are out. Read more here and here.

9) Changes have been made to Agent P's World Showcase Adventure. Read more here.

10) Disney reveals new information on Rivers of Light and Tiffins restaurants. Read here.

11) A new "Senses of Africa" tour has launched. Read more here.

12) The full "Sounds like Summer" concert line-up is revealed here.

13) Rivers of light no longer launches on April 22nd. Delayed. Read more here.

14) New Star Wars experiences debut at Hollywood Studios. More here.

15) Changes to Fastpass+ - You no longer have to choose 3 experiences when making reservations, 1 or 2 is fine too. You can now make extra reservations on the day via the app instead of at kiosks. There is more control over times for experiences and fine-tuning is more straightforward. More here.

16) New bakery coming to BoardWalk resort. More here.

17) Olaf meet and greet coming to Hollywood studios. Details here.

18) Themed bar coming to the Tower of Terror. More here.

19) 2016 Invictus game details and ticket information here.

20) Princess Aurora meet and greet relocates to Fantasyland.

21) Changes to the Wishes dessert party here.

22) Drink price increases across the resort. Details here.

23) More Animal Kingdom nighttime details here.

24) Epcot Frozen details here.

25) Walt Disney World dining updates.

26) An interim show is being launched at Animal Kingdom while Rivers of Light is delayed. More here.

27) A 2-minute look at Rivers of Light when it finally debuts.

28) Soarin' reopens June 17th with new 'Around the World' video. Details here.

Disneyland Paris | Ticketing options change and Parking increases

Just a couple of days from Disneyland Paris' 24th birthday, and with the Spring season in full swing, it is that time of the year again when the resort increase its prices. This year, both advance ticket prices, and parking, are affected.

Tickets:
In preparation for the 25th anniversary festivities arriving in just over a year's time, Disneyland Paris has made some modifications to its advanced purchase tickets.

Until yesterday there were three categories of ticket - MINI, MAGIC and SUPER MAGIC. The Mini and Magic had blockout dates, and the Super Magic did not.

As of today, MINI, MAGIC and SUPER MAGIC tickets all have blockout dates. A new ticket has also been introduced, the MAGIC FLEX. The Magic Flex is valid every day of the year. The Magic Flex is priced at the same price as one day ticket bought at the park ticket booths, but saves you queueing.

Tickets will also no longer be valid for a full year, as they were until yesterday. All tickets bought from today expire on 31st January 2017.

New Ticket pricing (as of today - 24th March 2016):
Mini - 1 Park - £36 (€47) adult / £30 (€40) children
Mini - 2 Parks - £47 (€62) adult / £42 (€55) children

Magic - 1 Park - £45 (€59) adult / £39 (€52) children
Magic - 2 Parks - £56 (€74) adult / £51 (€67) children

Super Magic - 1 Park - £52 (€69) adult / £47 (€62) children
Super Magic - 2 Parks - £64 (€84) adult / £58 (€77) children

Magic Flex - 1 Park - £57 (€75) adult / £51 (€67) children
Magic Flex - 2 Parks - £68 (€90) adult / £62 (€82) children


New blockout dates:

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Important: At the time of writing, ticket prices at the park gates have not changed.

Annual passes:
We expect the prices of annual passes to increase in November this year, just before the busy Christmas season.

Parking:
Parking prices were also increased today, Thursday 24th March 2016. On-site hotel guests continue to receive free parking at the main Disneyland Paris car park. Car parking has increased from €15 to €20. Motorbikes now pay €15 per day, up from €10. Camper vans now pay €35 per day, up for €20. Some big increases here. Thanks to DLRP Express for the parking prices.

Stay up to date with the latest news here at Independent Guides or follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.

Disneyland Paris | Dream Castle Hotel Review - Partner Hotel

If you are looking at staying close to the magic at Disneyland Paris but don't want to pay the high prices to stay at once of the official on-site hotels, the partner hotels are an excellent middle ground. One of these partner hotels is the Dream Castle hotel.

We stayed at the Vienna International Dream Castle hotel at Disneyland Paris for a one night stay in June 2015. The price we paid was £90 which we thought was fair for the service provided. This rate includes breakfast and Wi-Fi access.

Access:
Access to the hotel is via complimentary shuttle from Marne la Vallee - Chessy train station at Disneyland Paris. This is the same place the Disneyland Paris hotel buses drop off at. Buses come every 15 to 30 minutes depending on what time of day and season it is. We visited during a not particularly busy time of the year so the service was acceptable but during peak periods we know this bus system does struggle to service all the partner hotels on one route. 

This hotel is the last drop off point on the route making journeys from the park to the hotel about 10 minutes long, but from the hotel to the park journey is shorter. The hotel to park drive time is just 6 minutes. As this is the last stop on the route you may find the bus very full when you go from the hotel to the parks. We found this to be the case even during this non busy time. 

A "live waits" system at the bus stops with a screen telling you when the next bus would arrive would be a simple and greatly beneficial addition. Unfortunately, this is not the case and you are therefore left wondering "when is my next bus?" for up to half an hour at a time.

You can of course always drive to the hotel where plenty of parking is available. A shuttle from the hotel to Val d'Europe and the shopping centre and supermarkets (closed on Sundays) is offered for a fee. Enquire at the hotel desk.

Check in:
Check-in was efficient and we were provided with a thorough explanation of where all the amenities were as well as when to get breakfast. We had requested a view over the lake as well as a high-floor room, unfortunately these are two separate requests that cannot be made together. As such we asked for a room with a view.

The only annoying part of check-in at the partner hotels is that the local city tax is never include when paying online. This means fumbling for change upon check-in, it was a mere €1.67 to be paid but it is still annoying.

There is plenty of seating around the lobby area (which really is very, very large) and there are several arcade games and even a small merry-go-round. 

The room:
The room booked was a King Room. This include a king-sized bed with space for two people, and a bunk bed for two singles. The king bed as you can imagine was very big and absolutely huge for one person, and more than roomy enough for two people. Clever features in the bunk beds included individual blackout curtains and reading lights which can be adjusted. This means that either adults or kids can keep on reading, as the others sleep.

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The room was large, clean and included tea and coffee facilities with an in-room kettle. As well as the beds you will find an armchair, a small desk and an in-room refrigerator which we found kept food and drinks nice and cold. This also means you can make sandwiches or bring snacks with you and keep them fresh in the fridge overnight. Strangely, the flatscreen TV was minuscule when compared to the size of the room. We didn't use the TV much during our stay so it did not affect us. The in-room WiFi was acceptable but wasn't blazing fast.

The view from the room.

The view from the room.

The bathroom was clean although we felt the colour scheme could do with a bit of updating. The bath was very comfortable (and a huge bonus over a simple shower) and the Occitane branded products were very nice.

Dining:
One of the perks of this four-star establishment is the option of room service. This allows you to have the full bar-restaurant menu delivered to your room for an extra charge.

There is a full-service buffet restaurant but for our meals we ate at the hotel bar which provides a range of quick-service style foods such as burgers. The bar service was attentive and the food was surprisingly good. Prices were theme park fast-food prices at the bar.

We did not try out the complimentary breakfast during our stay so we cannot comment on this.

Amenities:
Hotel amenities include a pool with whirlpool (we found the pool to be busy even during the quieter time of the year), a gym, a spa and a massage service.

The gym was barebones and had several broken machines and free weight sets. It allowed for a very basic workout though a few thousand euros spent on the free weights would notably up their quality. The inclusion of a bench press was a pleasant surprise. ,Complimentary gym towels (thus negating the need to bring a towel free your room) and a water fountain were simple but welcome additions. Unfortunately, the AC was broken during our visit.

Overall:
After a short one-night stay we will definitely consider staying at the Dream Castle at Disneyland Paris again. The prices vary a lot from date to date but it can be found for just a few pounds more than the Magic Circus hotel and the Kyriad, making this is a great upgrade. 

Although we haven't mentioned this yet, theming throughout the hotel was excellent even down to the employee customs, the employees themselves were very attentive and a pleasure to speak to, check in was fast, the rooms were great. The state of the gym was a bit of a disappointed (but the fact it has one was a nice surprise), as can be the bus system.

Disneyland Paris | Restaurant Review: Blue Lagoon at Disneyland Paris

The Independent Guides team recently had the opportunity to dine in the "Blue Lagoon" restaurant located in Adventureland. The actual restaurant itself is famed for being inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride itself, and whilst dining you can see boats sailing past as guests embark upon their pirate adventure. 

Blue Lagoon has been famous for offering mainly fish-based dishes in the past but their is now a wider than every variety of dishes ranging from Crayfish and scallop ravioli to "Caribbean" chicken colombo and even Surf and Turf options. As far as pricing is concerned, Blue Lagoon is certainly not the most expensive restaurant on offer but it is still one of the pricier options at the resort. There are also a multitude of menus on offer, but on this particular occasion we decided to order a la carte, skipping an entree and going directly for the main course.

The food:
For the main course we had the "Fillet of grilled beef (approx. 250 g) with Sichuan pepper sauce, served with cassava chips and sautéed vegetables" priced at €35,99 which you can see below:

The fillet beef (or steak to most people) itself at 250g wasn't enormous but we just about the right size to leave us feeling satisfied - it was perfectly cooked to our likely at medium-rare. The Sichuan pepper sauce was presented in a bamboo cup and was delicious as we used it to season the steak fillet even more. The sauteed vegetables were delicious and were a fine compliment to the meat. Finally, the cassava chips were a delicious surprise, they were perfectly cooked so as to be just crunchy enough on the outside yet have a soft texture on the inside - we would have liked to have seen more than three of these as they were so nice. Portion-wise the food was well balanced, but we felt a slightly larger portion of all items would have been welcome for the price charged.

For dessert we opted for the "Coffee or tea selection served with a selection of miniature desserts" priced at €10,99 which can be seen below:

Admittedly we were slightly underwhelmed at what we received for the price of just under eleven euros, although the coffee was well brewed, the biscuit served with it felt cheap, and the desserts selection was bizarre and unappetising. We also had the opportunity to try the "Vanilla Island crème brûlée with caramel flambé" priced at €9.99 which was delicious and was a much larger portion than the coffee and dessert combo above, but still was smaller than at other comparable restaurants at Disneyland Paris.

Service and atmosphere:
The service was very attentive and we particularly liked the atmosphere inside Blue Lagoon - it was incredibly calm for a restaurant, especially one located inside an attraction. Even the waiting area at the entrance of the restaurant is great with plenty of seating and some incredible pirate-themed paintings adorning the walls. Inside the dining room, we were seated at the waters edge and could not even hear the boats as they glided by and even forgot them throughout most of the meal, except for a cry of "Bon appetite" once in a while.

Overall, the meal at Blue Lagoon was an enjoyable affair and the main steak-based course was almost perfect. Theming, and atmosphere-wise the location is perfect and we could not fault the dining staff either. If we could improve one thing, it would be the implementation of a wider variety of dishes on each menu and slightly larger portion sizes. We will certainly be back.

Disneyland Paris | Free Wi-Fi, Hotel New York to close for refurb, RFID cards and more - Interview with Mark stead looks to the future

DisneyCentralPlaza, the biggest French-speaking Disneyland Paris forum, had a chance to talk to Mark Stead, assistant finance director at Disneyland Paris. Here's what we learned from the chat:

  1. Ratatouille has had a positive impact on the number of visitors from the Parisian and French markets, but so far has not impacted the hotel occupancy rates. It is too early to assess the ride's impact but the restaurant has been more popular than expected. Visitor satisfaction for WDS has gone up by 5 points since the opening of the attraction, and now 35% of guests start their day at the park compared to 30% before the opening. He also added that on days when the weather is good, park visitors are up compared to Summer 2013.
  2. Hotel occupancy is down by 2 per cent, while 9 per cent of hotel rooms are under refurbishment (notably 500 rooms at Newport Bay Club). Average spending per room is down by 2% due to guests choosing cheaper rooms, and there has equally been a reduction in last-minute bookings from the local market. He says that overall financial figures are very similar to this time last year if we exclude the fact that the Prince who owns 10% of DLP made a big trip last Spring. However, he acknowledged that the group has faced a further slowdown in the French market for 2 months, with household spending falling across the country.
  3. Newport bay Club update: 500 refurbished rooms and a refurbished pool will be unveiled at the start of the new fiscal year. The 2nd and final part of the hotel's renovation will then take place, lasting one year. The hotel will be repositioned as a 4-star hotel, instead of its current 3 stars, as it targets guests who prefer a little luxury over monetary savings. Refurbished room rates will increase in October 2014, and again at the end for refurbished to reflect the quality services put in place.
  4. Disney's Hotel New York: This hotel will be refurbished as soon as the Newport Bay Club is finished. The hotel will completely close during one year in order to complete the works as quickly as possible. [Editor note: This looks like the hotel will be closed from Winter 2015 and all of 2016 from our calculations - meaning it will be brand new for the resort's 25th anniversary in 2017] The hotel will be repositioned from a 4-star hotel to a luxury 4-star hotel after the refurbishment. Management believes it will increase its hotel market share with the hotel refurbs as visitors have shown to be very satisfied with refurbished hotels so far. Guests are ready to spend more for higher quality. 
  5. DLP is currently investing heavily in its IT systems which will allow it to better management its daily activities whilst providing financial savings in places like HR and its offices. For guests this will mean now experiences such as an integration of services through a unique RFID card [Editor's note: Like the RFID park tickets/MagicBands available at Walt Disney World?]. A new website will also make reservations easier [Editor's note: This will launch next month in September]. Finally, free WiFi will arrive in the parks, possibly as early as next year (in 2015). Mark Steads has confirmed that the company will continue to invest in quality experiences this year, whilst keeping costs in line with inflation.
  6. Mark Stead says that the relationship between Euro Disney and The Walt Disney Company is a real opportunity. TWDC's priority at the resort is to improve its quality, as well as have a more sustained and rapid development of Disneyland Paris. Although TWDC does not seem to want to change management fees, the U.S. group supports Disneyland Paris as needed (eg, credits and loans) He also added that TWDC had sold DLP an app for $500,000, which cost TWDC $millions to develop [Editor's Note: Is this MyDisneyExperience? Or is it the Photopass+ app? Or something else?]. TWDC also continues to study all the possibilities of financing numerous major projects still in the pipeline. These include the expansion of Disney Village (whose studies are progressing well), expansion of the Walt Disney Studios with new attractions and shows, there is also the possibility of a new hotel, as well as many renovation projects in the parks' backstages, for the comfort of Cast Members.

 

Lots of interesting detail there, lots to chew on. Now, it's just time to wait for this all to happen. Nevertheless, its a promising future.

    Universal Orlando | 2014 Guide Update: 6th Edition

    We are pleased to announce the 6th edition of The Independent Guide to Universal Orlando 2014. This is the biggest update to date with over 15 new pages of content. 

    A full list of all the updates in this edition can be seen below:

    • Updated Rock the Universe event section with revised dates and line-up
    • More information added to the Diagon Alley section of the guide including hidden secrets, new information on the Escape from Gringotts Ride, dining updates, sopping updates. A rumour of a new interactive experience was added. – there are now 6 pages of the guide dedicated to this area of the park, 
    • Updated hotel information including amenities and pricing.
    • Updated popcorn refill prices and Dining Plan pricing and availability
    • Updated Butterbeer pricing and availability
    • Added new minimum height restriction to Cat in the Hat ride and maximum to Rip Ride Rockit
    • Updated information on parking
    • Added CityWalk details.
    • Added many more money saving tips to the tickets section including how some guests can save over $40 on a ticket.
    • Lots more information on Express Passes, how they work, restrictions and getting the best deals.
    • Removed references to Meal Deal and added information to Quick Service plan.
    • Added information to Guests with Disabilities chapter about wheelchair rentals and guide dogs on attractions.
    • Completely updated Touring Plans to include the new Harry Potter Diagon Alley expansion.
    • Added more information on Guest services such as lost and found.
    • Added more details to the Universal Cinematic Spectacular.
    • Tripled the size of the CityWalk chapter.
    • Tripled the size of the “on-site accommodation” chapter.
    • Spelling and grammar fixes

    Amazon US link / Amazon UK link

     

    Disneyland Paris | News and Rumour Round-Up 11th May 2014 - Disney Dreams Halloween, Starbucks on Main Street, Refurbishments and more.

    It's been just over a week since our last update in which we covered season dates, the new Photopass+ and the new brochure. This week there's more exciting news and rumours.


    Main Street, U.S.A. Refurbishment begins:
    Although Main Street, U.S.A. was only refurbished in 2011 for the 20th anniversary, the resort is back at it again creating more permanent facades for the buildings which will make them more resistant to the adverse weather conditions. The process has begun in Town Square.

    Photo: InsideDLParis on Twitter

    Photo: InsideDLParis on Twitter

    Some rumours are saying that themed tarps will not be going up for all or some of the buildings as they will all be redone and the cost would be prohibitive. Surely these tarps would be a one off cost though? And visitors don't want their photos ruined by scaffolding!

     

    Starbucks Rumour:
    In-keeping with our theme of Main Street, one rumour states that the Market House Deli dining location may be converted into a Starbucks. This would be a welcome addition in our opinion, seeing how well the integration has been done at the American resorts. Plus, who can resist a frappuccino on Main Street.

     

    Financial Results:
    Disneyland Paris revealed its financial results for the first half fiscal year 2014 which ended on March 31st, 2014 in a corporate PDF. In the previous financial results for Q1 2014, which are also included in these results, it was revealed that revenues were down by 5%. This time round it was revealed that resort revenues have continued to decrease at a rate of 5%.  In more positive news it seems that DLP is trying to cut down on costs as its direct operating costs and marketing costs are both down by E13m & E5.7m respectively.

    Guest spending in the parks is up by 2%, but overall the net loss of the resort increased by 18 million euros over the same period last year. The most obvious loss of money is hotel occupancy...down from 78% to 72.3%. Shockingly low. This clearly reflects the high prices Disney are charging for their rooms. Theme park attendance is also down by 400,000 from 6.7m to 6.3m. The company's overall debt still remains at 1.809 Billion euros.

    Overall, yet another disappointing financial report from the resort.

     

    Disney Dreams Halloween 2014:
    Yet another rumour says that the 2014 Halloween Season will see the introduction of a Halloween-themed Disney Dreams show, much like Walt Disney World does with HalloWishes. This has strong potential and guests would no doubt enjoy a different show in the Halloween period. With five months to go until the most frightful of seasons all remains to be seen.

    Disneyland Paris | News: Photopass+, Room Prices and Season Dates

    The new Winter 2014 Disneyland Paris brochure has been released and there are quite a few changes that we can see from it coming to the resort. Read ahead to find out all about them.

     

    The Seasons:
    Christmas 2014 will see the return of the Disney Winter Dreams firework show. Disneyland Paris officials said previously that the show would be changed due to guest feedback so we are hoping to see changes to the show but the name seems to have remained the same. Dates for the Christmas season have also been announced: 9th November 2014 to 7th January 2015. Unlike what Disneyland Paris had previously said about trying to elongate the season to get more visitors from Eastern Europe, this does not appear to have happened this year.

     Disney’s Halloween Festival will make a return from 1st October 2014 to 2nd November 2014 – no more details on the season have been announced, but we expect to hear more about it closer to the time. “Disney’s Halloween Partyreturns on October 31st 2014 from 8:30pm to 1am – ticket holders get entry from 5pm. Pricing is £34 per person. Unfortunately, Halloween is another season that does not seem to have expanded (At least date-wise) despite management saying this would be the case. Don’t forget they are working on Swing into Spring and a new Summer season for 2015 though, so… all in good time.

     Speaking of Swing into Swing, the new season which launched last month at Disneyland Paris,will return in 2015 with an extended run date from March to May. Exact dates have not been announced as of yet.

     

    Hotel prices:
    Contrary to what you may think prices for hotels have come down for the new season. Is this the new implementation of lower initial prices and less offers? Comparing the price of a room at the Disneyland Hotel for example up until November 12th 2014 these can be priced between £326 and £496.50 per person per night based on double occupancy. From November 13th onwards the prices vary from £229 to £492, offering substantial savings.

     

    Dining and excursions:
    Disneyland Paris’ all-inclusive half-board and full-board packages have not increased in price until 31st March 2015 which is good news. Excursions to Paris have also not risen in price, and for UK visitors both pre-paid meals and excursions have actually reduced in price due to a favourable exchange rate.

     

    Photopass+ arriving Summer 2014:
    The Photopass service is continuing to be expanded. Photopass+ will arrive from Summer 2014. This new service will let you collect and save all your photos as high quality digital image files, plus share them online or on your mobile.

    Disneyland Paris | Rumour: Incredibly detailed 3-year roadmap plan starting in 2014

    As a special Easter present ED92, a Facebook fan page, has released a long and detailed article explaining the future of Disneyland Paris entitled "GAMES OF THRONE DISNEYLAND PARIS EDITION". All of the following is unconfirmed and is all rumoured at the moment - it may come true and it may not, but apparently it comes at the end of a length investigation which has taken weeks and months to find all this information. Here we present the information to you in English. We also invite you to read the French edition, on the ED92 Facebook page.

    Through an investigation Disneyland Paris has come to several conclusions:

    • Disneyland Park, like the hotels and the Disney village, looks old and tired. It needs a lot of costly refurbishment work to return it back to "show-ready" level. Philipe Gas greenlit the renovation of these areas a few years ago, but the pace is slow.
    • Walt Disney Studios is in relatively good shape but needs a costly plan to rethink the entire park's concept.

    Apparently what has now happened is that negotiations between Disneyland Paris and Tom Staggs, President of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, have meant that he has offered financial aid in the form of a vast plan which will be announced in the coming weeks and months. This plan will allow many of the resort's problems to be solved as well as allow it celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2017 in style [Editor's note: We can only assume this will be after the Ratatouille ride has opened to the public.] 

    There is a look at both self-financed projects here, as well as those financed by The Walt Disney Company.

    What projects will Disneyland Paris finance?

    Part 1. Entertainment
    Disneyland Park will host 4 distinct seasons each year:

    • Spring: Pre-launched in 2014 but will be greatly expanded in 2015/
    • Summer: This season will launch from 2015 onwards and will have a "beach feel", it was also have a refreshing cavalcade which could use misters/sprayers.
    • Autumn/Halloween - Started in 2013, with the idea of developing last year's work and expanding the season to begin from September.
    • Winter/Christmas - The season has developed both in 2012 and 2013, but will continue to expand in 2014.

    Each season will include:

    • Decorations on Main Street and Central Plaza, as well as one other land
    • Specific meet and greets with rare characters or specific costumes for characters
    • A show/happening on Town Square
    • A cavalcade
    • A show on the Castle Stage which will include the Fab 5 characters
    • At least one season-specific segment that can be included in the nightly Disney Dreams fireworks show

    In addition, the Ranch zone and the Chaparral Theatre at the end of Frontierland will hold micro-seasons for a few days at a time such as St. Patrick's Day or St David's.

    Part 2 - Refurbishments
    The hotels will continue to undergo their refurbishments, and the New York Hotel should start this before the end of 2014.

    After that Hotel Cheyenne is next and these works should finish at the same time as the Newport Bay Club renovations which have already started. 

    The final hotel to be refurbed will be crown jewel Disneyland Hotel. One of the main aims here is to get a Michelin starred chef and restaurant in place. This refurb will take place in 2 phases with a break in the middle for the 25th anniversary in 2017.

    Disney Village will have a complete re-theme and make it feel up to date. It will then be enlarged with amongst other things a big new iconic restaurant.

    Disneyland park will continue to be refurbished but with more of a focus on speeding up the process. As well as renewed facades we will see:

    • Start of 2015: Space Mountain will be closed for approximately 6 months to get new trains, as well as new show elements and effects. The storyline could return to "De La Terre a la Lune" / "From the Earth to the moon" as it was pre-2005.
    • Mid 2015 to the start of 2016: Star Tours will be upgraded to Star Tours 3D - The Adventures Continue.
    • Start of 2016 to Start of 2017: Big Thunder Mountain will go under a large refurbishment which will include the addition of an extra carriage per train to increase its capacity. There are also rumours of an interactive queue being installed like that in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. There also rumours that the lake will be drained which will allow the geyser effect to return from the park's opening day.

     

    What projects will The Walt Disney Company finance?

    Part 1: A re-themed Backlot in Walt Disney Studios
    Rumours say that there will be a "Placemaking" (ie. re-theme and re-storyline) of the Backlot area of the park to a theme around Marvel Superheroes. There will be a massive change by 2017 with two projects proposed: one around the theme of a Stark Expo and another around the theme of Manhattan.

    There will be allow kinds of new facades and the area will made to look like Times Square. Rock n Rollercoaster's facade will be rethemed to the Daily Bugle and riders will soar amongst the skyscrapers with Spiderman in this re-themed ride (the ride layout inside is expected to stay the same). The stunt show will be replaced by a show themed around the Agents of SHIELD, and the Armageddon attraction will be rethemed to the Fantastic Four.

    Part 2: A new major e-ticket attraction and other surprises

    Toy Story Midway Mania will be making its debut in Toy Star Playland by the end of 2018. Front Lot and Studio 1 will be reimagined to create a truly immersive experience like that of the Disney Studios in the 1930s.

    In addition, Animation Courtyland, la Place des Stars and Hollywood Boulevard will also undergo works to make them more immersive and add a cohesive nature to the park.

     

    After 2017/2018:
    The future post-2018 is a lot less certain and things are still very much able to change but here are a few things which are on the drawing board:

    • The introduction of Halloween and Christmas seasons into the Studios park. Apparently a past festival entitled "California Dream" may also make a return.
    • A new 2000 seater theatre to the right of "it's a small world" to allow large shows to run 365 days a year.
    • Star Wars Land should make its appearance in the area around Star Tours.
    • Soarin' over the Horizon will be a new attraction located behind Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril in Adventureland, while the Adventure Isle/Pirates of the Caribbean areas will get numerous jack Sparrow touches [Editor note: Maybe this could mean the introducing of the Sparrow audio-animatronics onto the ride].
    • Walt Disney Studios will continue to expand with a  new e-ticket ride themed around the Avengers which will be similar to Harry potter and the Forbidden Journey at the Universal parks, but in 3D. This area will also house other structures including a new hotel which will be an integral part of the land much like the MiraCosta hotel at Tokyo Disney Sea.
    • Hollywood Boulevard will become a real street with a Tramway running through it (think Red Car Trolley in Disney's California Adventure park), with shows and restaurants leading to a hub. One plan even calls for the construction of a real Hollywood hillside.
    • A clone of Avatar-land which will open in a few years in Florida. This would be the final part of the long-term plan for Walt Disney Studios park.

     

    There you have it - all the projects which this document rumours will or many be coming to Disneyland Paris. The author seems pretty confident in the project coming up to 2017 and 2018 which are only a few years away. We'd have to say we also agree with these plans and have heard whispers about them all begin realised. In the long-term there are some very ambitious plans there. Of course these are all rumours and are subject to change but this roadmap makes for a very interesting starting point. We can only wait and see...

    Update: There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this article over the past few days. This article has merely been translated from the French version (which was not written by us) to provide a discussion point. We do not agree nor disagree with the information provided herein (though from what we've heard from people familiar with the matter a large part of this is true), nor accept any responsibility for it. What do you think of these plans?

    Disneyland Paris | News: New "Swing into Spring" season launches next week

    In 2014, Disneyland Paris launches a new mini season called "Swing into Spring" where the park is overrun with around 100,000 extra flowers, extra entertainment and more fun than ever. The event will run from 5th April to 22nd June 2014. This is one of the most impressive new additions to the park we have seen in years with an incredible amount of new sights and sounds for guests. 

    Inside Disneyland Park, you'll immediately see the Swing into Spring logo on Main Street station on the way in. In Town Square there are topiaries of Mary Poppins and Bert, as well as the Banks children. In the Town Square gazebo several times per day you can see the "Welcome to the Wondeful Season" show, where Victorian dancers provide a welcome to the park. This show takes place daily except Thursday and Friday and is be performed 6 times per day. The show will conclude with a meet and greet with performers. On Main Street the balconies will be decorated with flowers all the way along the street, and by Casey's Corner you'll find Rapunzel who is back I the park for her photo meet and greet opportunity. In Central Plaza, in front of the castle, you'll find our favourite topiaries which are simply beautiful. Here you'll see Bambi, Simba and Nala, the Aristocats, and a few of the 101 Dalmatians - all made out of flowers. 

    The big show for the season takes place 5 times a day and as yet does not have an English title, in French it is "La Promenade du Printemps". It is a mega show happening simultaneously on Central Plaza and the Castle Stage comprising 125 performers. You'll see live music performers, Clarabelle Cow, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and many other characters. The Disney character train will also rock up with favourites on board, and three cars decorated especially for the occasion will be present too. If you're a fan of Mary Poppins you'll love the sound track, and might even get to see some flying kites. The show lasts 12 minutes and is intended to look like a flash mob. 

    In the Disney Village there are topiaries, as well as advice and workshops relating to plants. 

    Disney hotel guests can take part in horticulture tours with a focus on kids. Groups of about 15 people will be accompanied by Russel, from Up, and learn about all the plants at Disneyland. Tours will run 2 to 3 time a week at a small cost of €5 per person. 

    The season is expected to become a regular yearly feature of the park, much like Halloween and Christmas, and work on the 2015 edition is already underway. 

     

    Walt Disney World | Guide Update: 26th February 2014

    We're very excited to announce that after much hard work the third edition of the Independent Guide to Walt Disney World 2014 is now available.

    Changes in the new guide include:

    • New working table of contents - We heard your feedback and the Table of Contents and how necessary it was for it to be working across all devices. This update brings that to life!
    • Updated Animal Kingdom parade info - Including the end date of the current parade
    • New Seven dwarves Mine train update
    • Info on new Festival of Fantasy parade - Including the premiere date of 9th March 2014.
    • Updated ticket and annual pass prices
    • Added step by step information on who to use Fastpass+ and Fastpass+ kiosk locations
    • Added details on hotel airline check in service
    • Updated Rapid Fill/ resort mugs
    • Updated Star wars Weekends and Food and Wine information and dates

     

    Disneyland Paris | Opinion: How to fix Walt Disney Studios park

    Disneyland Paris' second gate, Walt Disney Studios park, is widely regarded as the worst Disney theme park in the world. The main problem with the park is that it simply seems bare, the theme of a "Studio" has never worked. It does not work in Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida and it does not work here in Paris. The studio theme means bland concrete structures and facades - the very opposite of a Disney park. Walt Disney would never have allowed a place that was meant to immerse people in an environment to have so many flaws that removed this immersion.

    The Attractions:
    The problem with Walt Disney Studios is not so much the attractions that are currently there because for the most part these are of good quality.

    • Animagique and Cinemagique are two great stage shows both with a huge capacity. Stitch Live and Disney Jnr are also good quality but with a lower capacity. Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show also has a huge capacity.
    • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Rock n Rollercoaster are two great attractions, though the theming on the outside of RnR could really do with some improvement.
    • Toy Story Playland (with 3 attractions), Flying Carpets of Aladdin and Cars are well themed areas but are fairly standard fairground type attractions - every park needs a few of these though.
    • Armaggedon seems a bit random but it is a unique attraction and also has a very high hourly capacity.
    • Art of Animation and Studio Tram Tour accomplish their roles well in a studio themed park.
    • Crush's Coaster is a great ride but unfortunately has a terrible hourly capacity meaning that queues are usually very, very long.

    Whilst the sixteen attractions that are currently in the park provide a multitude of experiences, they are nowhere near the 30+ attractions offered at Disneyland Park.

    If we're choosing attraction clones to come from other parks we would vote for the following: Toy Story Midway Mania, Soarin' and if the money were really there, a Cars Land clone - which case the right hand area of the park could be dubbed Pixar Studios.

     

    The key difference however is the theming which brings us on to the next point...

    Theming:
    Whereas in Disneyland Park you can stroll around the different lands and feel immersed in them, the same does not really apply for Walt Disney Studios - by looking around you what tells you that the area around Rock n Rollercoaster is any different to the one in front of Armageddon or Animagique. Nothing - the ground is the same with concrete, there's no visual elements (or 'weenies') designed to grab your attention, as such the lands all blend into one.

    The theme of a studio needs to go - as mentioned earlier in the article this theme just doesn't work. Even Universal acknowledged this when it opened its second Floridian theme park, Islands of Adventure. The focus was no longer on seeing how movies were made but rather on creating immersive worlds, much like how Disneyland Park is.

    The solution for this would to create something akin to the $1.2b re-theme of Disney's Californian Adventure, a theme park which is an "adventure" and filled with several differently themed lands. Studio 1 needs to disappear once the studio theme is gone - instead create a covered entrance walkway such as the one below at Tokyo Disneyland.


    This photo of Tokyo Disneyland is courtesy of TripAdvisor

    The other areas, need a new pavement that is not concrete, weenies to look at, vegetation and things to look at in between the attractions - scenery, props and more - Disney admittedly have accomplished this better recently.

    Dining:

    With the opening of the Ratatouille restaurant food is slowly getting there at the park, there will be a full-service dining option but more are needed. How about a higher class restaurant too? Plus, just generally more food outside of Studio 1 - there's no place to the right of the Tower of Terror at all (except the Ratatouille restaurant when it opens).

    Entertainment:

    The current state of the Stars and Cars parade is dire. A fully-fledged parade with floats is definitely needed at this park. Perhaps it could be supplemented by a second parade later in the day to keep people in the park and then... More random character meet and greets are also sorely needed at this park.

    Nighttime:

    After the second parade an hour or so later guests could stick around for a nighttime spectacular. A World of Color style fountain show would be perfect we think or even Fantasmic. Timing of a nighttime show would have to be carefully planned so that it ran about 30 minutes before Disney Dreams in Disneyland Park. This would mean guests would have to choose one of the nighttime shows and would be unable to see both in their entirety meaning that they would have to purchase a multi-day ticket. More importantly, however by not running both shows at exactly the same time it would mean that fireworks would not interfere with the viewing of the shows. The space for this? Say goodbye to Light's Motors Action, and get ready to a sit-down show or open up the area for a larger area and a stood up experience.

    Disneyland Paris | Feature: Marketing and Sales Strategy meeting - 27th January 2014

    On 27th January 2014 form 6pm to 7:30pm, Disneyland Paris held a meeting for shareholders where it discussed its ongoing plans in regards to sales and marketing. The event took place at the Newport Bay Club conference centre.

    The presentation was led by:

    • Julien Kauffmann, Vice President of Revenue Management and Analysis, who is responsible for all the pricing policies (Such as ticket prices, merchandise, dining) and supervises the optimisation strategy and the work to increase revenue.
    • Jean-Christophe Gandon, Vice President of Marketing, who has been in the role since July 2013 after spending 15 years at Procter and Gamble, followed by LVMH. He is responsible for all marketing and communication, including notably promotional offers.

    After a brief 7 minute long video showcasing the resort's highlights for 2013, the presentation began with a look at Disneyland Paris' position in the market - it is the theme park market leader in France, in the top 2 or 3 in Spain, Italy, the UK, Belgium and Holland, and is NOT in the top 3 in Germany and Scandinavia. Since Disneyland Paris' arrival in 1992 its competitors have increased their investments and promotional offers and some have put in place a very strong promotional strategy, such as Port Aventura. This is all something Disneyland Paris is paying attention to.

    Currently, in the time of a recession, it is important to know consumers and the market well and the following statistics come from many different studies and surveys:

    • With the lowering of purchasing power, 57% of Europeans think that the financial situation will continue to worsen (this figure is 75% in France and 61% in the Netherlands.
    • 81% of consumers wait for promotions before booking or buying items or services.
    • In 2013: 32% of people in France did not wish to travel, 75% of people in France want to spend less on their holidays (this number is 87% in Spain).
    • Children are still seen as a priority in homes.
    • Disneyland Paris remains seen as a special destination.
    • Anniversary celebrations are the most important celebrations.
    • Themed seasons (such as Halloween and christmas) also have a strong impact.
    • Disneyland Paris' TV advertising is memorable.
    • Disneyland Paris' brand image is continually measured and has increased for 8.0/10 in 2010 to 8.3/10 in 2013 across Europe.
    • The perception of Disneyland Paris's value for money has also increased in the same timeframe from 6.7 to 6.9.
    • The intention to visit the resort has increased in the last year, from 42% in 2012 to 48% in 2013. The conversation rate from intention to actually making a booking, however, is still much lower.
    • There were 14.9 million visitors in 2013, more than the visitors to the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. To compare Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the UK saw 5.9million visitors in 2012 and Europe Park in Germany had 4.6million in the same year.

    Important events to come:

    • Opening of Ratatouille
    • Continuing development of the themed seasons such as Halloween and Christmas
    • Continuing renovation of the Disney hotels

    From all this research Disneyland Paris has developed six ways to improve its overall strategy.

    The 6 strategic points:

    1. Continue to reduce the barriers to visits
    2. Create an urgency to visit
    3. Adapt straggles based on media consumption
    4. Improve the on-line experience
    5. Optimise investments depending on the market, and redefine distribution strategies
    6. Improve the visitor experience and slowly reduce the number of offers to increase turnover and improve brand image,

     

    Some of these points were these expanded on in more detail.

    Points 1) and 2): As the conversation rate for visitors is low, marketing will be focused on:

    • A unique experience that only Disney can offer
    • Create emotion and engage the consumer
    • Add an expiry date to offers to create a sense of urgency and encourage to book now
    • The resort will no longer do annual themes [such as Mickey's Magical Party], instead showcasing its base product with special celebrations (in order to create a consistent image every day of the year), the Halloween, Christmas and anniversary seasons will be strengthened as these are the most effective. 

    3) Media Strategy:

    Consumers' media habits have changed drastically over the past few years with less TV viewing and more use of internet connected devices. The Resort will:

    • Reduce its spending on TV advertising
    • Increase its spending on digital advertising
    • Work on its partnership with The Walt Disney Company.
    • Continue to work in partnership with European TV (such as The Voice, Dance avec les Stars, Sky, etc.)
    • Increase visibility in search engines (SEO and advertising)
    • Reduce spending on press campaigns

    5) Optimise investments depending on the market:

    Almost half of all visitors stay in a Disney hotel:

    • 44% on an on-site hotel
    • 23% are local residents without an annual passport who sleep at home
    • 21% stay off-site, usually near DLP
    • 12% are annual pass holders who sleep at home

    6) Pricing Policy:

    Invest in the Product and adaptation of the pricing policy:

    • At the hotels:
      • The creation of the Empire State Club at Hotel New York, replacement of the bungalows at Davy Crockett Ranch, and renovation of the Sequoia Lodge, Santa Fe and the Newport Bay Club hotels.
      • There is a lot of interest in concierge level experiences, e.g. Empire State Club, Golden Forest Club.
      • The aim therefore is to look at pricing throughout the renovation period and continue to create new higher classes of rooms and clubs, and to recommend higher level hotels to consumers.
    • In the parks:
      • Continue investment for the birthday celebrations (E.g. Disney Dreams for 20th anniversary), the seasons (Halloween and Christmas), new developments (Ratatouille) and refurbishments.
      • Strengthening the seasons which are of high demand allows the raising of prices for these periods.
      • Walt Disney Studios will be developed into a full-day park which will later allow the increase of ticket prices.
    • Merchandise:
      • Several efforts have already been made: Opening of the World of Disney store, differentiation of boutique, exclusive rangers (20th anniversary, Paris themed), innovations such as Disney Light'Ears.
      • Confirmation that the Light'Ears are selling well and that sales are ahead of their predictions, and that they allowed there to be several articles in the press showing the innovation that Disney can make therefore essentially providing free advertising.
      • A Strategy of "Good/Better/Best/Premium" allows products to be available in four different price ranges, allowing for different budgets. Examples include: Princess dresses, mugs and T-shirts.
    • Dining:
      • Increase the use of higher quality dining product at quick-service food locations (such as Angus Beef), an improvement of the buffets and table service restaurants, and a new menu at the Lucky Nugget.
    • Reduce offers:
      • Eliminate the free annual passport offers - they were used to help increase awareness of annual passes but renewals were not sufficient.
      • Continue the slow and "reasonable" increase in prices
      • Review pricing for locals, e.g. The Francillien ticket which was launched at the price of 29 euros for the 15th Anniversary; it is now 45 euros.
      • Review the range of annual passports, communication and yield packages.
      • Review packages: after the launch of half-board meals, then a full-board option, an all-inclusive option is now being pursued.


    Some numbers:

    • Average spending per guest:  46,2€ (2011) - 46,4€ (2012) - 48,1€ (2013)
    • Average spending per room: 219,7€ (2011) - 231,3€ (2012) - 235€ (2013)

    ---

    After the main presentation, the floor was opening up to questions and several remarks were made by shareholders:

    • Marketing for Ratatouille should already have been in place around the resort for the Halloween season, as the Halloween and Christmas seasons attraction many visitors who would be exposed to these adverts.
    • The declining quality of many Disney Village restaurants since Disneyland Paris began running them again.
    • The monthly payment option for annual passports is extremely useful and should be kept.
    • The lack of figures during this presentation, including conversation rates, does not allow shareholders to truly understand what marketing strategies are working.

    During these question and answer session Disneyland Paris also revealed that:

    • It continues to investigate the range of annual passports, and especially the "Premium Annual Passport" for which there is a demand but that it is too early to launch such a product until Walt Disney Studios starts to become a full-day park.
    • Research is being done into having kiosks installed at counter service locations as well as smartphone apps where guests can order food more quickly, but this of course relies on the resort's kitchens improving speed-wise too. This is not something that will appear immediately but it is rather a long-term project.
    • The huge decline in hotel occupancy rates from 87% in 2011 to 79% in 2013 is not only due to lower visitor numbers, but also because about 500 rooms are being renovated per year (not simultaneously) which guests cannot stay in. These 500 rooms have not been removed from the 5800 rooms usually available, leading to a lower occupancy rate.
    • Disneyland Paris is conscious of having made errors and admit to them, include their free annual passport promotion, the 2011 Halloween season and the official website experience.

     

    Source: Mouetto (DisneyCentralPlaza). Original text in French.

    Disneyland Paris | News: Financial Results 2014 Q1

    Disneyland Paris released its financial result statement for Q1 of 2014 (the three months until 31st December 2013) just a few days ago on 4th February 2014. The financial results are perhaps not a surprise for those who have been following the resort for many years - once again the resort made a loss.

    • Overall resort revenues decreased by 5%, which has been attributed to "lower theme parks attendance and hotel occupancy" due to the economic situation in Europe. Revenues decreased from €320.7m to €304.9m
    • In more positive news, overall guest spending increased by 4% in the theme parks and 6% in hotels. The increase in average spending per guest was due to higher spending on admissions and merchandise.
    • There was a 7% decrease in visitors to the theme parks. The decrease in attendance was mainly due to fewer guests visiting from France, Spain and the Netherlands. 
    • Hotels and Disney Village revenues decreased 6% from €129.8 million last year to to €122.4 million due to a 9.6% decrease in hotel occupancy and lower Disney Village activity. The decrease in hotel occupancy resulted from 51,000 fewer room nights sold compared to the prior-year period, primarily due to fewer guests visiting from France, Spain and the Netherlands, as well as lower business group activity.
    • Other revenues decreased by €2.3 million from €11.9 million last year to €9.6 million in this quarter, mainly due to lower sponsorship revenues.

    Commenting on the results, Philippe Gas, Chief Executive Officer of Euro Disney S.A.S., said:

    "In a still challenging economic environment, we realized lower attendance and occupancy as compared to last year, which resulted in a 5% decrease in resort revenues. However our strategy aimed at increasing guest contribution helped us offset some of the attendance and occupancy weakness as we achieved record guest spending in both our parks and hotels for a first quarter.

    Even though we remain prudent given the current economic environment, we believe the fundamentals of our business are strong and we are confident in our long-term strategy focused on investing in the guest experience. The opening of our new Ratatouille-themed attraction this summer fully reflects this growth strategy." 

     

    Disneyland Paris | News Roundup: Thursday, 6th February 2014

    It's been about four weeks since our last round-up, so let's see what's happened in the world of Disneyland Paris - including some rumours too.

    Christmas Decorations:

    Although it did take until 17th January, the Christmas decorations throughout the resort have finally now disappeared.


    Photo: InsideDLParis

    Photo: InsideDLParis

    Character queues:

    Despite the fact The new Character queuing system we mentioned in our last round-up was meant to simply be a test, it appears these tests are still on going or have now become permanent. Some of these queue lines even have a Disney Photopass photographer at the front of the line. Hopefully the Photopass system will eventually expand to be like that available at Walt Disney World Resort.


    Photo: InsideDLParis

    Photo: InsideDLParis

    Newport Bay Club:

    The refurbishment of the Newport Bay club has now reached the swimming pool area - it is covered in scaffolding. The pool is only scheduled to re-open in November 2014.



    Photo: InsideDLParis

    Photo: InsideDLParis

    New shop windows:

    The displays throughout Main Street USA have been replaced from their Christmas themes to Spring/Summer themes.




    Photo: InsideDLParis

    Photo: InsideDLParis

    Town Square Photography:

    The 18th January 2014 was the last operating day of the beautifully themed Town Square Photography shop. The shop is now in a state of being completely redesigned to "Flora's Boutique". For once the walls are actually themed and are not just the standard green fences which are usually used throughout the resort. Good news.


    Ratatouille Ride Construction:

    Progress on the ratatouille ride continues - a decent amount of work has been done on the entrance facade and the outdoor queuing area.

    Photo: @InsideDLParis

    Photo: @InsideDLParis

    Rumours say that the interior of the attraction is now 100% finished.

    We also have an official new trailer (in German) and a new logo too as you can see here on the right hand side.

     

     

     

    Rumours spreading online also indicate an opening date of 14th July 2014 for the attraction and restaurant. Both soft opening and a press event would happen before this date. The official opening date has still not been announced but we expect to hear this next Wednesday (12th Feb) during the Annual Shareholders Conference. We will bring you full coverage of that event.


    Indiana Jones Ride Refurbishment:

    The Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ride continues to be refurbished. Landscapignw irk has also been done on the surrounding area. It is due to re-open on the 29th May 2014.


    Photo: InsideDLParis

    Photo: InsideDLParis

    Ticket Booth Refurbishment:

    In a continuing effort to keep the resort looking as new and beautiful as possible, it is now the turn of the ticket booths to get a refurbishment.



    Rumoured: Big Thunder Mountain Refurbishment

    If rumours are to be believed Big Thunder will be closed for the majority of 2015 for an 8-10 month long refurbishment. There is however, no official confirmation of this.


    Wifi expansion:

    Disneyland Paris tweeted about its expansion of Wifi in Disney village.


    Chaparral Theatre Refurbishment:

    The Chaparral theatre, in Frontierland, is undergoing a small refurbishment. No shows have been announced for this location.


    Star Wars land rumours intensify:

    Captain EO performed its last show for a long period of time on 2nd February 2014. There is no re-opening date for this attraction and it currently listed as a refurbishment-style/seasonal closure by Disneyland Paris. It has not been announced that the show would permanently disappear so for all we know it may very well make a return.

    In addition a large tent behind the Star Tours pavilion used for special events has now been removed, clearing the land for future construction.

    Some say that all this is for the future expansion of this area of Discoveryland into a 'Star wars land' including a 3D "Star Tours 2.0" upgrade. Nothing has been announced officially, nor have we seen any plans. Time will tell.


    Spring Festival Rumours Continue:

    The latest rumour from @DisneylandBerry on Twitter is that there will be no Stars and Cars parade throughout the duration of the season but that there will be a meet and greet instead.


    Disney Village sign:

    The old Disney Village entry sign is slowly disappearing and is down to its last legs.


    Leaders Cup:

    The 2014 Leaders Cup tournament will return to the Disney Events Arena from 14th to 16th February.

    Walt Disney World | News Roundup: Monday, 13th January 2014

    In this round-up we're covering what's happened over the past week in Walt Disney World. As usual, all these updates will be incorporated into the next version of The Independent Guide to Walt Disney World 2014. This week we have restaurant openings, ground breaking and much more.

    Spice Road Table at Epcot

    0110ZW_0516MS-1024x682.jpg

    This new dining location opened up this week. It is a strange table service restaurant in which the food is largely pre-prepared and coming to your table in less than 5 minutes. The idea is that you don't order huge main courses but rather small sampler plates which are priced at about $10 each, according to reviews you'll need at least two of these plates to feel like you've eaten well. So far reviews have been overwhelmingly positive and it seems to be the perfect option for a light meal. There are 120 outdoor seats, and 60 indoors and the location is expected to be very popular for the nightly Illuminations fireworks.

    Fastpass+ only Magic Kingdom

    1002AX_060KP_1905-640x417.jpg

    Following the test at Animal Kingdom park in December 2013 where traditional paper Fastpasses were removed and Fastpass+ became the only option, Magic Kingdom is to become the next park to transition to Fastpass+ only tomorrow (Tuesday, 14th January 2014). This means Fastpass+ will be the only option for both onsite Disney hotel guests, off-site hotel guests and annual pass holders. Guests who have not made reservations in advance can make them on the day at one of the many Disney kiosks. Paper Fastpasses are only available at Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios as of tomorrow for off-site guests and these parks are expected to transition over the next few months. Disney note guests will use Fastpass+ for all four parks by the end of January.

     

    Off-site guests to test MyMagic+

    During January 2014 selected off-site guests will be invited to test the whole suite of MyMagic+ experiences. This means Fastpass+ for all 4 Disney parks, the My Disney Experience app and eventually the MagicBands (though these will come at an extra charge). This will be offered to selected guests via email. Until now off-site guests have not been able to use any of these features except Fastpass+ at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.

     

    Avatar construction begins at Animal Kingdom

    avatar_Full_20200.jpg;width=640.jpeg

    The ceremonial groundbreaking of an AVATAR-inspired land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom took place on 8th January 2014. The multi-year and largest expansion in Disney’s Animal Kingdom history, the new land will invite Walt Disney World Resort guests to experience the wonders of Pandora when they fly with the banshees, encounter the Na’vi and explore a rich cultural environment with mountains that float and interactive plants that glow at night.

    Disneyland Paris | News Roundup: Wednesday, 8th January 2014

    Happy New year! The Christmas season at Disneyland Paris is now over and we have a ton of news to bring you from ride refurbishments to new policies to the latest season rumours.

    Indiana Jones Refurbishment
    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril today started its refurbishment, after closing on January 6th. Disneyland Paris' official twitter feed has posted that the refurbishment will last until 28th May 2014. @InsideDLParis on Twitter today posted this image showing that a crane is already on-site:

    BddGls_IcAAvvHD.jpg

    The details of the refurbishment have also be officially revealed:

    • The scope of the work is to replace ride related components including the whole loop as well as the temple structure.
    • We are focused on using very durable and quality components, as well as upgrading the ride control systems for more reliability.

    Other details for unofficial sources also say:

    • During the refurbishment of Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril, the control tower will be modernized and the queue line will be reworked (DisneylandBerry, Twitter).

    Sports Fans

    Photo: Official Disneyland Paris Twitter Feed

    Photo: Official Disneyland Paris Twitter Feed

    Sports fans will be pleased to hear of the refurbishment of the Sports Bar in Disney Village is now complete. The project took several months including the resurfacing of the floor, and os of today there is a brand new TV screen which is 40% bigger than before. 

    LEGO Store Disney Village
    The new LEGO store that was due to open in September 2013 at Disney Village has suffered yet another set-back. After a roof collapse which delayed works, the new shop was expected to open at the end of 2013 or on the first few days of 2014. After a press invitation was sent out for the grand inauguration week to be 15th-19th January, this too has been cancelled. When will the store finally open? It is now expected to open at the end of January. 

    New Queuing System for Characters

    Photo: @InsideDLParis

    Photo: @InsideDLParis

    After years of European-style non-queues for characters, it appears Disneyland Paris has listened to feedback to improve guest experiences. Today, Disneyland Park began the trial of a single-file queue system for all character meet and greets instead of the scrums it used to be. This is just a trial at the moment but we expect that feedback will be good and the system will be fully implemented. Oh, and a side note - more un-published and random character meet and greets are back, these are not on the park schedule and usually take place between 11am and 2pm.

    Rumour - Festival des Fleurs / Flower Festival:

    IMAGE: DISNEYLAND PARIS - DIRECT (FACEBOOK)

    IMAGE: DISNEYLAND PARIS - DIRECT (FACEBOOK)

    The latest rumour swirling is that Disneyland Paris is to see the return of Flower Festival mini-season. This event has not occurred for almost 20 years in the park and is a way of getting people to come to the park year-round and not only during the school holidays. This event is currently all but confirmed so we think there is a very high probability of it happening.

    According to "Disneyland Paris - Direct" (a new Facebook account with no track record) the event will take place from 3rd April to 4th July 2014 inclusive. It will take place only in Disneyland Park (no love for the Studios yet again, just like Christmas), and Fantasia Gardens. Town Square, Main Street and Central Plaza will be home to most of the flowers. New meet and greets will happen throughout the park. Live music will be played in the Videopolis theatre and a magic piano will roam the streets of the park. A small cavalcade (without floats) may happen several times a day along Main Street, and there may be a show though this is far from being confirmed. Fantasyland will also play a big part in the festival with topiaries and there may even be  flower petals distributed and launched into the air in this land.

    As we say, although we are fairly certain the event will take place generally, all the details announced at the moment come from a Facebook account with previous history so take it all with a pinch of salt.


    Disney Dreams of Christmas Feedback is in:
    The nighttime show Disney Dreams of Christmas, which replaced the standard Disney Dreams, has now played its last night at Disneyland Paris. According to InsideDLParis, the satisfaction ratings for the show were lower than for regular dreams and the show will be heavily modified or cut for next season.


    Crush's Coaster - New queue line:
    Last year during the What's New, What's Next presentation we were told that single rider lines would start to become much more prevalent throughout the resort. The first new one, for Crush's Coaster, now has an implementation date. The ride will be closed form 17th March for several weeks for an extension of the current queue line, as well as the implementation of the new single rider line. DisneylandBerry (Twitter) says that the next ride to get the same single-rider treatment will be Rock n Rollercoaster.

    Town Square Photography closing:
    Town Square Photography, the shop dedicated to photo memorabilia is currently undergoing a massive transformation, it will lose its name, its theming and be called "Flora's Boutique" if rumours are to be believed, the shop will sell Parisian souvenirs and will be of as high a detail as TSP was. Disney Photopass products can be picked up at Ribbons and Bows from now 18th January 2014.

    Refurbishment of Main Street:

    Photo: @DisneylandBerry

    Photo: @DisneylandBerry

    Yet another detail which was announced last September, Main Street is expected to undergo a massive refurbishment in order to make the buildings more durable to the weather. Main Street Station will be the first to undergo the treatment. We can see how badly its needed from the photo below - look at all the crackling paintwork.


    Ratatouille - The Ride:

    PHOTO: DISNEYLANDPARISFAN (TWITTER) FROM 7TH JANUARY 2014.

    PHOTO: DISNEYLANDPARISFAN (TWITTER) FROM 7TH JANUARY 2014.

    Progress on Ratatouille the ride and its surrounding area is coming along well and it appears the attraction sign and fountain are currently being installed. On January 1st, Disneyland Paris also this press release:

    Next summer, Disneyland Paris will unveil a major new attraction and mini-land inspired by the Oscar-winning Disney Pixar film Ratatouille. The film, directed by Brad Bird, tells the tale of Rémy, a young rat who has amazing talents in the kitchen and dreams of one day becoming a great chef. This leads to a fun but perilous journey that eventually lands him as the head chef of one of the most famous restaurants in Paris. Now Rémy has arrived at Walt Disney Studios Park to share his culinary delights and crazy adventures with the entire family.

    On the attraction Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy*, guests will shrink down to the size of a rat and join Rémy and his friends as they scurry through the kitchen, dining room, and walls of Gusteau’s famous Parisian restaurant, all the while trying to avoid the nemesis from the film, Chef Skinner. This first of its kind Disney attraction will immerse guests into an animated world like The attraction is located in a new corner of Toon Studio that’s been transformed into a Ratatouille-inspired version of the City of Light. In addition to the attraction, this mini-land also features a shop,

    Chez Marianne Souvenirs de Paris**, and a rat-scale themed table service restaurant, Bistrot Chez Rémy*. The restaurant, which is the only one of its kind across Disney Parks worldwide, is directly adjacent to the attraction and serves the “little chef’s” famous dish, ratatouille.

    After Crush’s Coaster, Cars Race Rally and Toy Story Playland, Ratatouille will be the fourth attraction at the Walt Disney Studios Park inspired by a Disney●Pixar film. Disneyland Paris will once again combine its narration skills with state-of-the-art technology to offer the best possible experience.

    Next summer, join us for Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy, only at Walt Disney Studios Park, Disneyland Paris.

    *Opening scheduled during Summer 2014
    **Opening scheduled during Autumn 2014

    The new information we can glean from this press release is a couple of name
    To follow the full progress of the Ratatouille construction site so far look no further than here.


    That's it for this news round-up. We'll keep you update with more exciting news.

    Disneyland Paris | Feature: In depth - Disneyland Paris' Expansion Plan from 2013 onwards

    It's very easy to discount Disneyland Paris as a poor alternative of Disney World in Florida, with many saying that the resort has stalled over the past few years, largely due to tis financial hardship. The resort is still 1.8Billion euros in debt and despite that is still expanding.

    It's important then to take a look at the future and what it holds for the parks, the hotels and the resort in general.

    Euro Disney SCA, the company that owns and operates Disneyland Paris, has many long-term goals, adocument released in late 2012 analyses many of these. The more interesting ones have ben observed below:
     

    • The official website www.disneylandparis.com receives 120,000 unique visitors per day 
      • A huge number but maybe a new non-flash based site would be a benefit for increasing this further? - UPDATE: NEW WEBSITE LAUNCHED OCTOBER 2013
    • "The Group [Disneyland Paris/ Euro Disney] is also committed to steadily increase the availability of its attractions to reduce wait times, improve its catering offering and offer a range of original products in its stores to meet the visitors.
      • This reiterates the expansion strategies of the company.
    • By 2030 at the latest there should be a third theme park built
    • They are aware that "The market for theme parks is competitive, which could limit the Group's ability to raise prices and attract visitors."

    In 2010 Disneyland Paris renewed its contract with the French state and agreed to the following by 2030:

     

    Developing the tourist destination:

    • By 2020 tourist numbers will double globally, the group has to be ready to accommodate these.
    • Secure the rights to the land until at least 2030. (Completed)
    • Expand the land owned from 1943 à 2230 hectares, and develop 1675 hectares of it by 31 December 2020
    • Double the current capacity of the Theme Parks
      • Continue the development of both existing Parks (Since 2010 Toy Story Playland has opened with 3 rides, Meet Mickey Mouse and Princess Pavilion)
      • Create a potential third park
    • Double the capacity of hotels - Adding 14,700 additional rooms (north of the A4), expanding from the existing capacity of 8200 hotel rooms to 22,900 hotel rooms. (Currently they are refurbishing rooms. Expanding is a huge risk - it is why the resort is in so much debt anyway. The only way I would see it working is if they offer rooms in the £50-100 a night range which would more than likely increase occupancy rapidly!)
    • Increase business tourism to the resort
    • Implementation of eco-tourism project Villages Nature Val d'Europe (In progress - opening in 2016)


    Better transport infrastructure:
    (This is despite the resort being much better connected than its American siblings - a great vision of the future)

    • Improved motorway interchanges 12 (Jossigny) and 14 (Bailly-Romainvilliers) and creating a link between the A4 and the RN 36
    • Improving the RER A, especially in terms of frequency and capacity
    • Link the RER A and RER E lines (Construction 2012-2018)
    • New connections with areas 2 and 3 in Marne-la-Vallee
    • Shuttle Services with Roissy and Orly airports
    • Airport Transfers with Paris-Vatry with an interchange at Esbly station
    • Establishment of a bus station at South Chessy and links with the Business Park, neighboring municipalities, Marne-la-Vallée hospital, Villages Nature and a possible third Park (looks like this possible third park wouldn't be within walking distance of the other two and a bus would be required)
    • new exit and building south from the RER station triggered by the completion of the convention center or an equivalent increase in traffic


    Develop an innovative project of eco-tourism and developing local communities:

    • Villages Nature is currently being developed. (Opening in 2016)
    • 9000 extra living units in Val d'Europe in currently non-urbanised areas


    Other notes:

    • The original agreement ending in 2017 stipulated there should be 2 theme parks and 1 water park. This has been changed - the agreement now dates to 2030 and asks for 3 theme parks, one of which may or may not be a water park depending on what is best financially.
    Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 03.07.28.png
    • The black lines are the new perimeter owned by Disney.
    • Yellow areas are land owned by disney and operated by Disney
    • Dark blue areas are land owned by Disney but operated by third-parties
    • Light blue areas/turquoie are land developed by Disney and sold, owned and operated by third parties.
    • Red areas are land to be developed - we can see that the active resort area can more than double in size.