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.