Pardon Our Dust: Disneyland Paris
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Under every conceivable major financial and non-financial measure Disneyland Resort Paris is on a tear. The 15th anniversary saw new attractions and entertainment at both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park and management were rewarded with increased attendance to 14.5 million guests (in the financial year ended 30 September, 2007) and crucially increased day and overnight guest spend. The momentum has continued into the second phase of the 15th anniversary (called The Celebration Continues….Big Time!) with a massive 10% increase in attendance for the nine months ended 30 June 2008. Revenue has also soared during the same period to an unprecedented €938 million (the prior year comparative was just €834 million although the 15th kick-off occurred in the final quarter of that period). The holding company EuroDisney SAS is also close to breaking even (for 2007 the company generated an operating margin of €50m on revenues of €1.2 billion but the financial debt charges forced a net loss of €41m).
In short Philippe Gas inherits a sixteen-year old business that has never been in a stronger position both financially and operationally. Gas ascends to the President role of the holding company on September 1 when the incumbent Karl Holz moves to a new role at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts overseeing New Resort Operations (think – Grand Hawaiian). Gas has been involved throughout the history of Disneyland Resort Paris and was an opening day cast member.
So how does the resort build on the success of the 15th anniversary? Management opted to extend the celebration for a second year to encompass the launch of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Stitch Live! this past April. However the question is how do you continue to build-out the second gate without dropping the ball on the original draw?
WDI have been working hard to create true Disney environments at the Walt Disney Studios Park. Virtually all of the original structures were just cold soundstages. WDI have tried to create new immersive infrastructure in the old Animation Courtyard (now Toon Studio) and Production Courtyard (with a new Tram Tour entrance and new facades surrounding The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror). The park is attempting to improve its family offerings. Playhouse Disney Live on Stage! will premier next Spring in the Disney Channel building (the show will be a joint tenant with Stitch Live! that opened earlier this year).
In addition WDI have proposed a series of expansion projects for Toon Studio to ensure that families have additional opportunities to play together in a park that has often skewed towards adult and adrenaline-inducing thrills. WDI have pitched a new dark ride experience for a pad of land behind the existing Magic of Disney Animation building at the park. The attraction will use the track-less system that was developed for Tokyo Disneyland’s Pooh’s Hunny Hunt back in 2000 and has not been used for a dark ride at any park since. Guests will be shrunk to the size of Remy as they are chased through the kitchen by Chef Skinner and his cohorts. The attraction will play with scale throughout as the four-man ride vehicles careen around the world of Ratatouille. The attraction has received the approval of John Lasseter as his preferred next E-ticket for the Walt Disney Studios Park. The black-box soundstage will sit immediately behind the Magic of Disney Animation & Cars Quatre Roues Rallye and extend Toon Studio into the area. The attraction is likely to be the centerpiece of the 20th anniversary in 2012.
In addition WDI are looking to add a plethora of new attractions in a Toy Story-inspired mini-land that will take its cue from A Bug’s Land at Disney’s California Adventure Park. The working title for this area is Toy Storyland and the area will reside alongside the new Ratatouille dark ride. This will require a repositioning of the Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic as these two additions will be “inside” the tram route. Toy Storyland will provide up to five kid-friendly attractions and a Meet ‘n’ Greet area. The theme is likely to be Woody’s Roundup from the fictional TV show from the two movies. Lasseter is hopeful that Toy Storyland will be ready to greet guests at around the time that the third movie is released in June ’10 but it is likely to be later than that due to the significant work that will be required to alter the tram tour route.
If both Ratatouille and Toy Storyland are fully funded by EuroDisney SAS then the five year effort to bring Soarin’ to the Walt Disney Studios Park will have failed. Management is unconvinced that the movies-themed park needs an additional film-based attraction. Finally WDI will be adding place-making touches to the area surrounding AniMagique to bring the show building up to the same standard as the rest of Toon Studio. Production Courtyard will follow that. Next year the park will debut the Disney Stars and Motorcar Parade from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. However management has decided that the park’s performance corridor is not conducive to handle the current crowds that have descended on the park since the opening of the two new attractions in April. Instead the local entertainment teams are working on a series of mini-shows throughout the park that will afford guests the opportunities to interact with the vehicles and their character occupants. The new shows are likely to premier next Spring.
So where does that leave the original park? WDI are pitching numerous ideas to add much-needed all-year-round capacity to the park but at present management are focusing their attentions on the second gate. At present, management has not approved funding for the new Star Tours movie that will debut at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in ‘09. In addition the park has not reached agreement on the aging Honey I Shrunk The Audience 3-D movie in Discoveryland. There is interest in the new The Little Mermaid attraction that is to be the cornerstone of the Magic Kingdom expansion in Florida and Disney’s California Adventure Park but no firm decisions have been made. Rumors persist that there will be a major new attraction for the park’s 20th anniversary (in 2012) but at present there are no indications of what this new ride will be. And the clock is ticking.
-- By LaughingPlace.com Staff
-- Posted August 21, 2008