Long-standing rumours of a LEGO Store in Disney Village have been given new immediacy by the posting of a job recruitment notice for assistant managers. Posted on the Mercuri Urval website, the listing originally made explicit reference to a LEGO-branded retail store at Disneyland Paris and even went so far as to claim it will be the biggest in Europe. The page has now been amended to become more ambiguous, but still references a “flagship / concept store”.
We first reported rumours of a new LEGO Store in March 2012 when, in the lead up to the opening of World of Disney, the now rather superfluous Hollywood Pictures store was seen to be the likely location for such an outlet. That’s still the case, and some rumours suggest LEGO could open as soon as June — but so far there’s no word of an imminent closure for the movie-themed merchandise shop.
Following World of Disney opening last July, which sells the vast majority of general Disneyland Paris merchandise, the older Disney Store was reconfigured into more of a “character merchandise” location featuring franchises such as Star Wars and Cars. A “boutique” refit of Disney Fashion was also completed last year, leaving the remaining Disney Village stores to find a new raison d’être.
LEGO Stores have recently opened elsewhere in France at Lille and Paris’ SO Ouest shopping mall. Locations at the Downtown Disney districts in Florida and California, which are more of an “experience” with large custom-built Disney brick models, were originally given more prestigious “LEGO Imagination Centre” branding, but now appear to be being titled with simply the LEGO name.
Given the floorspace of Hollywood Pictures, the Disney Village location could be big, but maybe not particularly huge. Perhaps LEGO could use the World of Toys store next door too, especially since it would have its through-access cut off from the row of shops here anyway.
Just please, do something about that orange shopfront…
• See the current store: Photos Magiques recently added a new Hollywood Pictures photo gallery
Your 2013/2014 holiday to Disneyland Paris might now feel a lot more like a 21st Century experience. Lagging behind for years in internet access offering, Disneyland Paris has made a surprise sudden move towards offering more widespread — and crucially, free — Wi-Fi access across the resort.
Announced late on Monday was that the prestigious Disneyland Hotel now offers free Wi-Fi access. Then, on Tuesday, the official Twitter feed of the resort followed that up by confirming free Wi-Fi would be rolled out gradually within the next year to all other Disney Hotels, along with convention centres, Golf Disneyland and even Disney Village.
Free Wi-Fi is now arguably considered as important as other hotel room fixtures such as a television. From previously offering only patchy and expensive Wi-Fi access in only the four higher tier Disney Hotels, this move will add some much-needed additional value back to those — many say — overpriced “on property” room nights. Guests have in the past been faced with the frankly absurd situation that, for example, the ultra-basic €52 per night Ibis Budget over at Val d’Europe offered free Wi-Fi, but the €459 minimum Disneyland Hotel did not.
The inclusion of Disney Village in these plans is interesting. Could that be a commercial decision, to make the entertainment district more inviting for visitors to “dwell” longer, or could it even be an easier test bed for eventually covering the whole of the resort — and both parks — by free Wi-Fi? Last year, Walt Disney World began offering free Wi-Fi to visitors within its Magic Kingdom park, with plans to roll it out to all four parks and Downtown Disney over there too.
Besides giving guests what they now see as an almost essential home comfort, providing free Wi-Fi will also exponentially increase the number of status updates, photos and videos posted to social media websites during guests’ stays, especially at Disneyland Paris where many guests have had to avoid “roaming” charges for foreign networks, giving the Disney Parks perhaps their most powerful ever marketing tool: us.
Disneyland Paris certainly knows how to win over the hearts of its character fans. Along with the usual special meet ‘n’ greets for Valentine’s Day on 14th February, this Thursday will also see a special mini event on the parade route featuring “The Aristocats” characters. Programmed for three performances in the afternoon — at 14:35, 15:35 and 16:30 — it will be a very rare chance to see the Parisian characters in their home park.
In fact, only Marie (pictured above) is known to us to make regular appearances at Disney Parks, so will she be the lone Aristocat in the cavalcade?
According to Disneyland Paris – Fans on Facebook, the 2013 date will also give the chance to meet Disney “couples” together such as Mickey & Minnie, Donald & Daisy, Woody & Jessie, Stitch & Angel and Peter Pan & Wendy, along with rarer characters Phoebus & Esmeralda from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and Bernard & Bianca from “The Rescuers”.
A limited edition (ex. 600) pin featuring Lady & the Tramp was already released last Saturday, 9th February 2013, for the occasion.
Update: @InsideDLParis reports on Twitter that Marie will be joined by fellow kittens Berlioz and Toulouse, making for their first ever character appearance in any Disney Park.
There will be more than just two new scenes to light up Disney Dreams! on its first anniversary this year: you too can “glow with the show” as the illuminated Mickey Mouse ears first introduced for World of Color at Disney California Adventure will come to Disneyland Paris, the resort has confirmed.
Named “Glow with the Show Ears” in California, they’ll be known instead by a new name in Europe: Disney Light’Ears. Once activated and placed on your head (or anywhere!) within the spectacle’s viewing area, they light up and change colour in sync with the show itself.
This is an optional, paid add-on, of course — in California the ears were priced at $25 for launch and, though no price has been publicly announced, reports from research questionnaires carried out in Paris suggest they could be looking at a €25 price point to own a pair over here. For added value, California later activated the ears for use during Fantasmic! at its own Disneyland Park, as well as controlling them to light up in certain areas such as inside the new Cars Land.
Battery powered, the hats are controlled by infra red signals from emitters placed around the audience area. For World of Color, this comprises around 40 “zones” which can each be sent a different command to illuminate and change the colour of the ears.
Unlike in Disney’s home state, Mickey ear hats have never particularly taken off at Disneyland Paris — you’re more likely to see a sorcerer’s apprentice, a Goofy or at most a Minnie Mouse bow. Could Disney Light’Ears be the spark to finally bring popularity to this classic park merchandise item in Paris? Would you pay to own a pair yourself, and do you think they’ll really add to the experience of Disney Dreams! or just be a distraction from the show itself?
It’s fair to say at least that, for such a high-rating signature attraction, Disney Dreams! needs more supporting merchandise, so this can only be a positive step in that direction. The ears were also only debuted in California last August, so the stated “Summer 2013″ makes for an unusually speedy rollout to Paris — now only the second Disney resort in the world to have them.
Now watch “Glow with the Show” in action at Disneyland Resort, California… CONTINUE READING…
Hurry, you’ve not got long left to see Disney Dreams! — the original show that is. Disneyland Paris has now confirmed that the show will be updated for its first anniversary with two brand new scenes based on the Pixar film “Brave” and classic Disney animation “The Lion King”. The new segments are believed to be replacing the original “Mary Poppins” and “The Jungle Book” numbers respectively, so you’ve only until around the end of March to sing along with “Step In Time” and “I Wan’na Be Like You” in person as fountains and projections fill the air. However the rest of the scenes — certainly the Peter Pan-themed “bookends” which tie together the various segments — are expected to remain the same.
Further information came to light today when it was revealed that the song featured from The Lion King will be “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King”, certainly an ideal choice to replace the similar earlier Jungle Book hit. Six young finalists from the Dutch TV talent show The Voice Kids were given the chance to record it exclusively for the show at Abbey Road Studios in London (pictured below), where this time last year the entire Disney Dreams! soundtrack was recorded by Joel McNeely.
Meanwhile the Brave segment will be the first for a single film that isn’t a musical. A short Ratatouille scene was included in the original show, but is really little more than a transition.
Steve Davison, who masterminded the show, was at Disneyland Paris along with Chuck Davis, Senior Technical Director, during the heavy snowfall last month, making it a strong possibility they were working on the new scenes.
Premiering on 31st March 2012 to worldwide acclaim, Disney Dreams! has scored an impressive 93% guest satisfaction rating and is now confirmed to be continuing daily at Disneyland Park until at least the end of September 2013, when the extended 20th Anniversary celebrations close.
Update: InsideDLParis reports The Lion King scene will come first in the show and be made up of three songs — “Circle of Life”, “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and “Hakuna Matata” — while the Brave scene will utilise two parts of the film’s score by Patrick Doyle — “Remember to Smile” and “Fate and Destiny” — along with “Touch the Sky”, the original song by Julie Fowlis. It’s likely the scenes will officially premiere on 1st April 2013 but may be introduced shortly before then as a “soft opening.”
Congratulations — if you’re reading this, you’re likely one of the 85% of Disneyland Paris fans who visit fansites at least once a week. Let’s hope you’re not also one of the unfortunate 8% of fans who have never actually visited the resort. There, just two of the many intriguing statistics recently dug out in a huge “infographic” of 7,760 responses to the official Disneyland Paris Fan Survey we were asked to help promote last year.
The full infographic is included below. Revealing that fans who responded visit Disneyland Paris on average 10 times a year, 71% are between 18 and 34 years old and 59% (versus 41%) are male, the results of the online survey also reveal what fans themselves want from Disneyland Paris and its communication with us. The official Facebook, YouTube and Twitter streams are given a perhaps surprisingly resounding thumbs up — 87% satisfied with the official Facebook page, 83% with Twitter — while a slightly lower 79% are satisfied with merchandise opportunities.
Though the simpler tickbox answers have generated some nice stats for this infographic, the more interesting text-based answers are what we hope the resort listens and learns from. Most fans, as well as desiring special treatment from the resort, also want to see it succeed and improve in itself. After all, the more successful Disneyland Paris is, and the more people who understand the “magic” of the place, the more confident we’ll feel in our own position as fans.
The suggestion of an official blog for news and backstage insights is still a great one, and probably brought up as much from our desire to read it as our belief that — like the excellent US Disney Parks Blog — it would help in the resort’s promotion and communication with the wider public.
Likewise merchandise, which it’s noted fans want to see more “geared to the resort experience” (ie. based around lands and attractions, rather than generic characters) — we want better merchandise so we can more happily part with our cash and support something dear to our hearts. Rather than improving for us, fans mostly want Disneyland Paris to improve for itself first.
Full infographic attached below… CONTINUE READING…
Farewell, Rémy and Emile! Only a year ago it was a cleared parcel of earth at the back of Walt Disney Studios Park, today it’s an enormous shell of a showbuilding to envy the “it’s a small worlds” of the Disney Park world. Work on the Ratatouille dark ride celebrated another milestone last week as the two towering cranes we nicknamed Rémy and Emile were gradually taken apart and removed from the site and construction entered a new phase.
New photos were shared by @InsideDLParis over the weekend and our friends at Photos Magiques earlier posted a nice high-resolution zoomable image from their January trip.
However, as we return from an all-too-long hiatus (apologies — blame moving house, moving computer, playful spooks and all that), let’s first jump back to share some photos from our trip in December 2012. Keen-eyed Rémy fans will be able to spot many further changes in the past eight weeks, but for those who haven’t been watching and for the sake of history it seems a shame not to pin these onto the construction timeline before moving onto current developments, so here we go…
Rumoured to have the working title Ratatouille Kitchen Calamity, this major new “dark ride” is due to open in 2014 at the back of Toon Studio in Walt Disney Studios Park, next to Toy Story Playland and the backstage ‘Imaginations’ Cast Member building. Construction has required felling a large number of trees and moving the resort’s costuming workshop.
Also including a new restaurant integrated into the attraction, toilets and a Fastpass system, the development is costing up to €150 million. The ride itself has been rumoured to utilise everything from “trackless” ride vehicles to giant 3D projection screens in order to simulate a chase through the kitchens of a Parisian restaurant.
The exterior will be themed to a real Parisian square, complete with fountain.
It’s not the rumoured share buyout, but it’s big: Euro Disney S.C.A., operating group of Disneyland Paris, tonight announced that a huge €1.3 billion of its epic debt pile will be refinanced by The Walt Disney Company itself, taking over from the banks which have stunted the resort’s growth. Given a longer lending term, less restrictive financial commitments and reduced interest payments, Disneyland Paris will be free to invest more in long-term growth and enjoy greater operational flexibility.
Rumours on the pages of TIME Business first suggested in August that The Walt Disney Company could be considering a complete buyout of the Euro Disney group, of which it currently owns just under 40%. Today’s deal is a different prospect entirely yet could still be one of the defining moments in the resort’s history. Saddled with debt since opening in 1992, Disneyland Paris has struggled to expand enough to fuel growth while keeping up debt and interest repayments. For The Walt Disney Company, this has left a hole in its finances where royalties from the European resort, frequently waived due to lack of funds, should have flowed in.
By effectively becoming Euro Disney’s primary lender, Disney will take on the financing of a vast pile of debt but will now be able to set more manageable terms for repayment, finally easing the resort’s cashflow into a timeline that can hopefully allow for real growth alongside repayments. That means the resort could more easily gather the funds, for example, to see Walt Disney Studios Park reach its potential as a true second gate, or expand its hotels to reap revenues from now-booming demand.
Today, the Supervisory Board of Euro Disney Associés S.C.A. met to approve the deal, which is expected to be completed on 27th September 2012, just in time for the end of the company’s financial year. The maturity date of the debt will be extended to 2030, while interest payments will be reduced by €45 million over the next five years alone. €217 million principal debt will be repaid over that period, allowing for €225 million in additional cash flow. Now enough for a Disney California Adventure-style expansion blowout, but enough to make a difference to the operation and expansion of the resort.
The Walt Disney Company’s royalty agreement with the group will remain the same under the deal, which will incur some €30 million in financial charges. As of 30th September 2012, the Euro Disney group will have a total debt mountain of €1.71 billion.
“This refinancing will enable us to reduce our financing costs and give us greater investment and operational flexibility. This is a key step in the development of our Resort that we pursue for the benefit for all of our stakeholders. I strongly believe this will be highly beneficial to the Company, its cast members and shareholders.”, commented Philippe Gas, Chief Executive Officer of Euro Disney S.A.S.
Philippe Gas added: “The Walt Disney Company, with this transaction, reaffirms its continued confidence in Disneyland Paris which has successfully become, over the past 20 years, the number one tourist destination in Europe, a growth driver of French tourism and an important ambassador of the Disney brand across Europe.”