Disney character encounters will return to six Disneyland Paris hotels soon, reversing a change which has seen Mickey and friends removed from all on-site accommodation since November 2014.
As confirmed by the new Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary brochure, valid from 29th March 2017 to 20th March 2018, you’ll again be able to “Meet Disney Characters at 6 Disney Hotels”.
This excludes Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch, but means that the popular meet ‘n’ greets and Disney character presence will return to Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe, Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne, Disney’s Sequoia Lodge, Disney’s Newport Bay Club, Disney’s Hotel New York and Disneyland Hotel.
While we can be sure the characters will be back in place at least from 29th March, no specific date for their return has been announced, so they could be signing autographs again even sooner.
It’ll also be interesting to see how exactly Pluto and the gang make their appearances this time around. There’s no confirmation yet which specific encounters will return.
In the past, characters would be freely available in hotel lobbies, provoking suggestions that they were removed to stop non-guests slipping in and meeting them for free. Could there be a way to ensure only paying Disney hotel guests can join the queue?
While removing the characters may have been an attempt to add more value to park admission, it was more likely seen simply as as greedy cost-cutting measure, all the while as Disney Hotels continued to command their premium prices. Reversing the decision after just two years suggests it was clearly considered wrong for the business.
Despite this, hotel occupancy has actually risen over the past two years: from 75.4% for the whole of fiscal year 2014 (October 2013 – September 2014) to 79.4% in fiscal year 2015. Occupancy even rose in the first half of 2016’s financial year, from 77.1% to 78.1%.
This still has some way to climb back to the figure of ten years ago, though, when hotel occupancy stood at a healthy 89.3% for fiscal year 2007.
Characters were removed not just from meet ‘n’ greet spots in hotel reception areas but even from the private breakfasts of the Empire State Club and Golden Forest Club of Disney’s Hotel New York and Sequoia Lodge respectively.
At the top-price Disneyland Hotel, the popular “descent of the stairs” character encounter which took place on most days was also completely cut.
Outside of the ever-popular Inventions restaurant character buffets, only the deluxe Castle Club kept its character appearances.
A small number of extra characters were instead introduced during the parks’ Extra Magic Hours, exclusive to Disney hotel guests, but this has obviously proved to be no substitute for what live Disney characters add to the experience — and value — of paying to stay in a “Disney” hotel for Disneyland Paris visitors.