This year is ‘construction year’ at the Disney resort in Paris. It’s in full preparation for its 25th celebration and because of that, more than seven rides are closed at the moment. Over the last ten years, it was rare to see any construction at all at the Disneyland Park, even though The Walt Disney Studios have been growing. What can we expect this year and what should they aim for in the future? Read all about it in our third, and final, part!
Let’s bring back the profit/loss graph one more time. Revenues at Disneyland Paris may increase all they want, costs drive down the final result. But without making investments, attendance and guest experience drops instantly. How can the resort solve this never-ending cycle?
We talked about the past, now it’s time to see what is going on at the moment, and what the resort has in store for the years to come. It will be a mix of facts and rumors, but you’ll clearly notice the difference. Let’s start off with the current year!
The Year of Renovations
Yes, this year is the year of rehabilitations. As mentioned in Part 2, Big Thunder Mountain remains closed until next year for a thorough refurbishment. The ride will have new effects and hopefully a better recovery system after a breakdown, as the ride was down at least twice a day in the last months. Star Tours will soon close as well for the 2.0 update. La Cabane des Robinsons & Adventure Isle will be improved, but it’s still unknown if a special program will be developed similar to ‘A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas’ at Walt Disney World. In Fantasyland, a half year renovation of Peter Pan’s Flight is ongoing, with reopening scheduled for the summer season. At the Studios, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster is down for four months as well, and after the summer, Studio Tram Tour will close until Spring 2017 for additions of new scenes and renovation. Let’s also not forget the Disneyland Express. Which will reopen soon, but only stop in Frontierland and Fantasyland. Main Street U.S.A. Station remains closed until the summer and Discoveryland Station will only reopen next year. If you’d like a more visual idea of the renovations, Disneyland Paris released this video regarding them.
During these renovations, they are highlighting their events and entertainment. For the first time ever, the DisneyRun is being held at the resort and they implemented two new shows this year: ‘Forest of Enchantment’ at Disneyland Park and ‘Mickey and the Magician’ at the Walt Disney Studios. Little side note is that the first one is only running until the start of the Frozen Summer Fun season and the second one replaces the classic and unique Animagique. So compared to 2011, where they introduced ‘Magical Moments’ for a few rehabilitations, they rely on the Frozen and Star Wars effect to cover up the green fences all over the park. Many fans will tell it is best to wait a year to plan your visit to the resort. This seen the traditions of the past celebrations, which always was a big hit for the crowd, it’s worth to wait. It seems as if costs will be pretty high this year because of the rehabilitations, and if revenue and attendance will be lower as well, chances are that we’ll see red numbers once more on the end balance…
On the bright side, there is one other investment close to the resort that will hopefully attract more guests to the parks, which is ‘Village Nature’. Those familiar with Center Parcs will know this type of resort, as families can rent a little home for a few days while having access to a subtropical swimming pool, a green environment of peace and the possibility to book other exciting activities. Expected to open this year, it will offer a total new experience close to the Disney parks, which contributes to this new destination.
2017… and beyond
Next year will be a big year for the resort as the 25th celebration should attract many guests. The final rehabilitations will be done, for example the introduction of Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Carribean ride (yes, Paris was the last one with the original ride). And what do you know, the new Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will be launched that year as well! Coincidence? As mentioned in part 2, Space Mountain should receive its new trains making a ride to space more comfortable than before. After ten years of Once Upon A Dream Parade/Magic On Parade, a new parade should be introduced and hopefully it will be brand new (and no recyling!). Last but certainly not least, Star Tours will reopen as Star Tours 2.0 and so Disneyland Park finally has a ‘new ride’.
There are many rumors about the future of the resort. Some say the Studios will have a rebranding with the addition of Marvel, especially in the Backlot area. A Toy Story Mania ride could be a possible addition for Toy Story Playland. There were some people who mentioned an addition of Star Wars Land. Fans are begging for a water ride or an Indiana Jones ride similar to the ones at the American resorts. Perhaps even a New Fantasyland? Wasn’t the Little Mermaid ride originally planned for Disneyland Paris?
Did Disneyland Paris stand still the last ten years? Well, let’s be honest, not entirely. They did invest a lot of money in the parks, but that wasn’t always visible for guests that never saw the parks before. In the Walt Disney Studios, we could clearly see a change starting from 2008. Since then more than 9 new rides were added to make the park more day filling but it’s not there yet. Compared to other Disney Parks it remains below-quality and even The Walt Disney Company knows it. Disneyland Park on the other hand only got a few new events, some smaller additions such as organized meet and greets, and yes, Disney Dreams! So if we ask the question: Did Disneyland Park stand still the last years? In that case, we have the tendency to say yes…
Still, how can the resort remain number one and stay ahead of the competition? How can they go from loss to profit? And how can they keep up the quality of the resort and the service given by cast members? Well, here’s what we think:
First of all, when we look at the graphs of profit and guest attendance in comparison with the investments by the resort at that time, it’s clear that a new thrill ride does attract a lot of guests. Yes, there was more than only Tower of Terror at that time that made them reach that profit, but no doubt that it had a large impact. A water ride could do well too, as the nearby competing park Parc Astérix has four water rides while Disney has none. The competing park also holds several thrilling coasters, another asset that drives guests to Astérix and not Mickey Mouse. Other Top 5 European parks such as Europa-Park and Efteling also invested in new thrills (Blue Fire, Wodan, Baron 1898…) to appeal to more than just families. There were rumors of the third gate being a Marvel themed park, which should obviously hold those kinds of thrill rides, but since that park is only scheduled to open in 2030 at the latest. We honestly can’t wait that long!
Secondly (they are already working on this), is improvement on what they already have. Cast members will receive new trainings to improve their service, as this is not always at 100% Disney quality at the French resort. The rides and facilities are being improved as we speak, but it does make the resort very unattractive at the moment. They did install some new meet and greets to make up for the fences, but not enough in comparison to when all rides are open. So the focus on entertainment this year is great, but again when we look at Europa-Park for example, it is one of their main advantages over Disneyland Paris. Europa-Park promises more than 5 hours of shows at least. This type of entertainment is essential for guests as the whole family can enjoy shows together. So what they need to do is keep adding daily shows that remain accessible and renew the existing ones. The Stuntshow at the Studios for example. It is cancelled in Disney’s Hollywood Studios due to the arrival of Star Wars Land, but perhaps in Paris, it could be reintroduced with a new story. Here (again) there were some Marvel rumors, but we’d love to see an official announcement. Conclusion: Keep investing to give good quality to the guests.
Food and snacks is definitely another aspect where Disneyland Paris is falling behind when looking at the other Disney resorts. Almost every restaurant offers the classic French fries and burgers, just differently served. Once again competitor Europa-Park offers all kinds of dishes and snacks from all over Europe. So it’s a good thing that Europe’s number one destination acknowledges the growing competition but they should learn from them. And I mean, we are talking about a theme park in France, one of the well-known culinairy countries in the world! How come the variety is so small then? We haven’t even talked about Disney Village since it’s so unattractive. The additions in recent years were pretty good: the World of Disney Store, Earl of Sandwich, Starbuck and the Lego Store. The intension for more variety is there, but once again when comparing to Disney Springs for example, Disney Village is just plain boring. So on one hand, they need to expand their variety in the park and also in the Village. Give guests the possibility to spend more money outside of the park for unique experiences and dining. Make a restaurant an attraction instead of just some burgers and fries. The Ratatouille restaurant was a good step in the right direction, but only one won’t do the trick!
Finally, they should save on costs long term. Investing in green energy could decrease those type of costs. What happened a lot in the past as well, was the closure of several restaurants during off season, which is only natural, but it should be done in an efficient way. Many guests complained that they couldn’t find any suitable restaurant at all. Watch out with the Cast Members as well. Several strikes occured in recent years and they don’t do any good to revenues. They have to create a careful analysis of the types of costs that they can save on, instead of picking those that directly influence guests experience.
There you have it! Just so you know, as theme park fans, we love Disneyland Paris. It’s because of that love that we are so critical. We want the resort to improve and remain in Europe. The parks take guests into different worlds in ways other theme parks can’t due to its popular characters and iconic rides. And even though it’s had a loss nine times and only one profitable year in the last ten years, it should be on its way to grow again. Don’t forget that many Disney fans prefer the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Paris in comparison to all the other castles! But the resort needs to be cautious as other parks are aiming towards that number one. Disneyland Paris needs to be ready for the future challenges. Let’s hope they have a plan ready, which will finally make the resort a long term profitable tourist destination.
Thank you very much for reading our final part of our Disneyland Paris analysis! Don’t hesitate to respond and give your opinion about the resort and it’s future!