Disneyland Paris has been named a three-star tourist attraction by the famous Michelin Green Guides, the highest distinction from the travel publisher. The accolade was accepted by ambassadors Jonathan and Antonella, dedicating it to the Cast Members who “offer daily hospitality and quality service to our visitors”.
Listed separately as Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios, the two Disney parks are now both marked as “Highly Recommended” three-star attractions on Michelin’s Paris travel guide. Looking at the competition, Parc Astérix to the north of Paris has only a two-star “Recommended” rating, though the mouse shouldn’t be too complacent — Disney Village is marked out by only a single star.
Many will of course remember the excellent series of classic Green Guides or “Guides Vert” and fold-out maps produced by Michelin in the early years of the resort. Providing concise and clear overviews of the resort — and now, a fascinating glimpse into its history — they’re well worth hunting down on places like Amazon Marketplace.
Disney’s Halloween Festival is just two weeks away from its 2014 season, promising a series of new additions alongside the successful returning investments of recent years. With the call to “Join the Halloween Gang!”, Disneyland Paris is focusing its marketing this year on the ever-popular Disney villains — the timely Maleficent in particular — as it launches a new promotional video and website.
Following Captain Hook, the Evil Queen, Dr Facilier and Cruella De Vil as they assemble inside a spellbound Sleeping Beauty Castle, the well-produced teaser video builds anticipation of the upcoming festival and its new Maleficent centrepieces — including a giant bramble structure in the middle of the Castle Courtyard.
Watch the new “Join the Halloween Gang!” teaser below
On the new mini-website, visitors are supposed to answer a few questions to find their perfect villain match, after providing a series of personal details (who knew the villains were so big on data collection?). You can take a look for yourself here.
CEO, president, head honcho — however you say it, Disneyland Paris has a new guy in charge as of yesterday, 15th September 2014. Tom Wolber has begun his role as Président of Euro Disney S.A.S., with outgoing chief Philippe Gas heading for Shanghai Disney Resort as its first General Manager, a sure sign of Disney’s satisfaction with his tenure here.
Tom is in fact making a return to Paris, having been a part of the Grand Opening team in 1992. Since then, he has held leadership positions at Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, most recently overseeing Orlando’s 28 resort hotels and transportation network. Tom is German and speaks 4 languages: French, Dutch, English and German.
It may be notable that Euro Disney badges Wolber as having overseen a number of expansion projections including the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy cruise ships and the masterplan for Disney Springs, the revitalisation of Florida’s Downtown Disney. He arrives in Paris at a time of fevered rumour for expansion and revitalisation of our own resort, including attractions such as Star Tours 2, expansion of Walt Disney Studios Park and continued growth of Disney Village.
Departing president Philippe Gas will without doubt be remembered as one of the resort’s most successful and charismatic CEOs. Arriving in September 2008 just as the global economic downturn bit and 15th Anniversary expansions such as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror dried up, he took on a resort that was still all too often unreliable and erratic in the level of “Disney quality” it provided.
Six years later, the list of good decisions is so long as to be impossible to collate and attribute, but it certainly began in April 2009 with the renaming of Disneyland Resort Paris back to a strong and simple Disneyland Paris. The opening of the three lower-spec Toy Story Playland attractions in 2010 may have divided opinion, and gone almost unnoticed to the public, but this summer’s grand Ratatouille: The Adventure unveiling proved a pivotal point for the resort and its second gate, expertly led from planning to construction to opening. Meanwhile, the 20th Anniversary of 2012 provided a landmark with Disney Dreams! — both its stunning quality and the adjoining extension of Disneyland Park operating hours continuing to equalise Paris with its international cousins.
Two new websites, new apps, new technology such as PhotoPass+ and the rollout of free wi-fi leaves plenty left to achieve, but huge ground gained. Better understanding of and communication with the fan community has been an icing on the cake, including better merchandise such as The Art of Disney on Demand and more one-off events like the 50th Anniversary of “it’s a small world”.
An enormous campaign of “cleaning the decks” with endless and huge refurbishment in almost every corner of the resort has coincided with a quiet plotting of future courses — the Villages Nature, Disney’s own hotel expansion, Disney Village improvements and plenty rumoured for the parks. The horizon feels ever bigger, if not any closer.
What’s needed now from a new president is to actually, at last, see those plans through. Countless times, grand visions have been drawn up for Disneyland Paris and its parks only to fall by the wayside. If Philippe Gas’ reign was about steadying the waters and getting the ship up to standard, let’s hope Tom Wolber can finally let this resort set sail.
Bring us that horizon, Tom.
• Press release 15/09/2014: Tom Wolber to assume leadership at Euro Disney (PDF)
• Press release 1/08/2014: Philippe Gas named General Manager of Shanghai Disney Resort, Tom Wolber, from Walt Disney World Resort, replacing him at Euro Disney (PDF)
Below: Official corporate video introducing Tom Wolber
Disneyland Paris has officially announced its entertainment line-up for the 2014 season of Disney’s Halloween Festival, looking set to be one of the most impressive yet. Building on a full-scale reinvention of the festival over the past few years, it adds a timely Maleficent touch to the growing list of popular, and properly “Disney”, entertainments.
New additions for 2014 therefore include Maleficent’s Court, a villainous transformation of the Castle Courtyard behind Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant in Fantasyland, along with The Maleficent Disney Villains Promenade, a chance to meet the villains in person on Central Plaza.
Successful new features from previous years will also return, such as Mickey’s Halloween Celebration parade (with, at long last, its own unique floats) and the ghosts of Main Street, U.S.A., which were introduced in 2012 to much delight from fans who had long requested a more professional, more “Disney” seasonal overlay of the land than the unpopular former Pumpkin Men (now living on in Frontierland’s harvest overlay).
This gradual and continued annual investment in the festival has grown it into an incredibly strong asset for Disneyland Paris. Flitting between numerous ideas and concepts since its launch in the late 1990s, so many poorly considered and ill-fitting for a Disney park, the festival has nevertheless remained a popular time of year for visitors. Now, with the right vision and a good foundation of annual investment, it feels like it finally belongs — and lives up to expectation.
Here’s the Disney’s Halloween Festival 2014 press release in full:
Disneyland Paris is the place to be to meet
during Disney’s Halloween Festival 2014
the gang of Disney Villains
From 1 October to 2 November 2014, Disneyland Paris is the place to be to meet the Halloween gang of Disney Villains. Every day, Maleficent will bring together the Disney Villains in a cheerfully ominous atmosphere, promising Disneyland Paris guests encounters to die (laughing) for. The Sleeping Beauty Castle Courtyard will be transformed to welcome the good Disney Villains who will take mischievous pleasure in taking over Disney’s Halloween Festival.
And that’s not all! During this delightfully frightening month, ghosts and “Disney’s Funky Pumpkins*” will take possession of Main Street, U.S.A., astonishing pumpkins will take over the flowerbeds in Central Plaza and Frontierland will be transformed into an autumn garden, where sunflowers and pumpkins will take centre stage. Finally, Mickey and friends will offer guests a special Harvest festival-themed cavalcade, not far from Minnie’s Halloween Costume Corner or the incredible candy-making machine invented by greedy Goofy, all designed to ensure Disney’s Halloween Festival is a laugh a minute!
NEW: The Maleficent Disney Villains Promenade
With Maleficent in the leading position, the Disney Villains will be the unmissable stars of Disney’s Halloween Festival.
The Maleficent Disney Villains Promenade
Every day, the Disney Villains will be happy to have their photos taken with guests to immortalize this fearsomely funny occasion forevermore. Together with Maleficent, the Disney Villains will parade around Central Plaza to welcome
NEW: Maleficent’s Court
In the Sleeping Beauty Castle Courtyard, Maleficent and her accomplices will create an unmissable spectacle, which will be the place to be seen!
This year, Maleficent will cast a spell on the Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Disneyland Park and will invite some of the Disney Villains to join her in the Castle Courtyard. Maleficent, surrounded by her friends, the Disney Villains, will take over the place — it has now been invaded by imposing brambles, which guests will be able to pose in front of, next to the Disney Villains.
That is how huge brambles mysteriously appear in the Castle Courtyard. Shaped like the famous horns of Maleficent herself, these brambles form the outline of an imposing dragon. As night falls, the bramble will take on a more disquieting look, immersing guests in a universe of bright, unsettling colours.
Mickey’s Halloween Celebration
To celebrate Halloween and to provide guests with a unique party, Mickey and friends will offer guests a cavalcade specially dedicated to the Harvest festival, and have naturally been inspired by the autumn and Harvest theme.
Several times a day, Mickey and friends will parade in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and along Main Street, U.S.A., surrounded by dancers wearing autumn colours.
This year, the lovely Daisy will open the cavalcade. The Three Little Pigs and Horace will join Mickey’s Halloween Celebration on their brand new float “Raise the Rafters!”. Surrounded by owls, black cats, spiders and bats, the Three Little Pigs, Horace and Clarabelle will dance to country music in front of their farm. A tree and an enchanted mushroom will come to life as if by magic.
As for the Disney Characters, they will be showing off their most stunning seasonal costumes. Donald will explore the wonders of autumn in a world made of straw and pumpkins, together with his inseparable nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. Meanwhile, Uncle Scrooge will bring up the rear, determined to keep determined to keep careful watch over a strange pumpkin that appears to be worth its weight in gold…
Mickey and Minnie pay homage to the Harvest season from their huge horn of plenty, filled with autumn leaves, fruits and pumpkins. Behind them, Chip and Dale, accompanied by the charming Clarice, have taken advantage of the Harvest to steal and hoard as many hazelnuts as they can lay their hands on!
Ghosts invade Disneyland Park
They thought they could keep a low profile throughout Halloween month, but guests will only be able to unmask them and immortalise them in a photo!
The ghosts of the former residents of Main Street, U.S.A. will use Halloween as the perfect opportunity to make their grand appearance. Delighted to be able to make an appearance during Disney’s Halloween Festival, they will take over Main Street, U.S.A., trying to blend into the scenery. The Park’s apprentice ghost hunters will be invited to unmask them, armed with their cameras.
Hilarious encounters with Disney Characters
The Disney characters get dressed up to the nines to welcome guests in a vibrant and colourful Halloween atmosphere for those special photo opportunities with guests.
Halloween Costume Corner
Passionate about sewing and fashion, Minnie will invite guests to discover her amazing sewing workshop, specially created for Halloween. An extravagant, colourful world where everyone is encouraged to let their imagination run wild. Minnie, in her fabulous Halloween-inspired dress will no doubt jump at the opportunity to pose with her admirers.
Halloween would not be the same without bonbons and spells. For that reason, Goofy has designed and created a truly amazing candy-making machine to dazzle those with a sweet tooth, young and old! Fans of bonbons and Goofy will not miss the opportunity to stop in front of this astonishing machine. Goofy might even join them to make sure everything is in good working order. A moment to treasure and a chance for everyone to persuade him to share his confectionery secrets!
Jack and Sally’s Cemetery (from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas © Disney)
The famous couple created by Tim Burton will be at Disneyland Paris during Halloween for a mortally enchanting encounter. The set recreates the universe of the film The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Jack and Sally in person will welcome those who will be courageous enough to meet them. A reproduction inspired by the universe of Tim Burton, Jack and Sally’s Cemetery is a unique place.
NEW: Disney PhotoPass+
The perfect opportunity to capture your best moments with the Disney Villains.
Disney PhotoPass+ allows guests to collect all their souvenir photos taken on rides or with Disney Characters by Park photographers at photo locations in high definition in a virtual portfolio.
The photos are also available on a dedicated website (www.disneyphotopass.eu) and on a mobile app that enables guests to download them, share them on social networks and even purchase personalised photo products (photo albums, mugs, calendars etc.). Disney’s Halloween Festival will therefore be the ideal time to capture the best poses next to the Disney Villains.
Disney’s Halloween Party: the grand finale on 31 October!
Guaranteed screams, even for the bravest guests. The most magical Halloween night will take place at Disneyland Paris!
The now famous Disney’s Halloween Party** will be held on 31 October 2014 in Disneyland Park. A unique experience to share with family or friends from 8.30 pm to 1 am.
Disneyland Park will reopen its doors after dark and guests will see it as they have never seen it before — in a more mysterious atmosphere than ever, with unexpected animations, terrifyingly delicious surprises and a “hellish” atmosphere. The moon will bring out the ghosts, Disney Villains and other creatures for the party, who are all ready to play their tricks around the most mysterious of places. After enjoying the many attractions Disneyland Park has to offer, guests will be able to immerse themselves in the magical extravaganza of the Disney Dreams®! night-time show.
Hair-raising, high-speed sensations!
Halloween will be the perfect occasion to test guests’ vocal chords on rides that will make them tremble with fear! With The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster with Aerosmith, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Crush’s Coaster and Space Mountain: Mission 2, Disneyland Paris will be the place to be to test the limits of the most overwhelming fears.
The Disney Villains have chosen the right occasion for their largest gathering — Disney’s Halloween Festival 2014 has become autumn’s unmissable event.
In an atmosphere where laughter mingles with spells cast by Maleficent, guests will find themselves immersed in a strange, delightful world that only Disneyland Paris knows how to create. To celebrate Halloween and the Harvest season with Mickey and friends, come to Disneyland Paris from 1 October to 2 November 2014.
When you’ve got a big new attraction and a well-received expansion to your subpar second gate, you never have enough ceremonies to celebrate it. So the stage was set in front of Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy for the fourth time this past Thursday, 17th July 2014, for the visit of Anne Hidalgo, Maire de Paris, and one thousand Parisian children through the Disney VoluntEARS programme.
Following the Grand Opening with Bob Iger on Saturday 21st June, the second French ceremony on the same day, and the 10th July Opening Day Inauguration ceremony, this event acted as more of an inauguration for La Place de Rémy itself.
After speaking at the ceremony alongside Disneyland Paris president Philippe Gas, the Mayor of Paris unveiled an oversized dedication plaque for the square with the date of the inauguration — also by chance the anniversary of the original Disneyland.
On Ratatouille: The Adventure, Anne Hidalgo said it is “the symbolic attraction to mark the link between Paris and Disney”. She later tweeted that it was the first time a Mayor of Paris has visited Disneyland Paris, and she wishes to strengthen their ties to improve tourism.
Official video — Parisian children experience the world of Ratatouille thanks to Disneyland Paris and Anne Hidalgo
Joining the mayor were 1,000 Parisian children who are members of leisure centres in the capital and aren’t lucky enough to be going away this summer. They got to enjoy a full day the park with 30 Disney VoluntEARS, volunteer Cast Members participating in Disney’s community outreach programme, showing them around.
Hidalgo even stepped onboard a Ratmobile next to Philippe Gas to experience the new attraction for herself — an important symbolic moment for Disneyland Paris, not least given the Parisian theme. In building a true piece of (fictionalised) Paris within its parks, has Disneyland Paris finally cemented itself as a positive force for the region?
It’s open! Today was the day, 10th July 2014, that La Place de Rémy and its key attraction, Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy, officially opened to the public following several weeks of previews with a special inauguration ceremony shortly after 10am.
Hosted by the Disneyland Paris Ambassadors, Jonathan and Antonella, the opening ceremony welcomed Fleur Pellerin, Secretary of Commerce, of Tourism Promotion and of the French abroad, to Disneyland Paris.
The resort’s new chief operating officer Daniel Delcourt also took to the stage, while several elements of the earlier Grand Opening ceremonies for the press made a return to Walt Disney Studios Park, including that gingham ribbon, Rémy himself and even a surprise reappearance by the real-life Linguini.
Once opened, lines quickly reached blockbuster levels with guests filling the exterior queue, a roped extension area in front of the Fastpass distribution, and lining the full length of Rue Auguste Gusteau, with the queue beginning somewhere back in Toon Studio. Good thing today was also the first day the park remained open until 9pm, extending its operating day by a whole two hours, a milestone in itself.
A 120 minute wait time was posted on the park’s electronic tips board, which now lists the attraction, simply calling it “Ratatouille”. However, at one point temporary signage advised guests that, from the entrance to La Place de Rémy next to Toy Story Playland, a wait time of 190 minutes was possible.
Wait times for other popular Studios attractions appeared unaffected, particularly Crush’s Coaster which continued to offer up to an 80 minute wait. Of course, as much as Ratatouille could draw guests away from those attractions, it will (hopefully) be bringing more people to the park altogether, unfortunately mitigating any dramatic change.
But here’s the important fact: those lines aren’t due to bad planning, at least with this attraction. Ratatouille actually (just about) has the capacity to cope with its popularity on a normal day. It’s not quite a Pirates of the Caribbean juggernaut, but the packs of Ratmobiles were thankfully specced pretty well in their ability to cycle guests through.
As we concluded on Twitter, Ratatouille is officially a “blockbuster” attraction for Walt Disney Studios Park, and that’s down to quality, not poor capacity.
Seeing guests queueing round the block, clamouring to experience La Place de Rémy for themselves, says a lot about the demand for investments of this scale or, perhaps even more so, the rest of the park which those guests are turning their back on.
Complete video: Ratatouille Opening Day Inauguration Ceremony
Fun facts from today’s opening day press release
Explore all DLP Today’s Ratatouille: The Adventure content and features:
Positioned next to Disney Blockbuster Café at the very back of the park, the meet ‘n’ greet experience has been a huge success since opening on 19th April.
Primarily said to be funded as part of Sony Pictures’ European marketing of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it has nevertheless been keenly marketed by Disneyland Paris themselves, including on the front of the Studios’ weekly Programme guide. Disneyland Paris is the first and only Disney resort to feature the character.
Despite the off-route location, queues have been steady and strong to meet the masked Marvel hero. Inside, guests themselves surrounded by giant newspaper pages reporting his victories, before literally stepping into the front page of the Daily Bugle to pose with Spidey themselves. It’s a light but very polished experience which has at last breathed life into Backlot, perhaps the most characterless Disney theme park area in history.
Many had therefore hoped Peter Parker’s alter ego would extend his stay, and several sources report there is now no currently confirmed end date with Spidey definitely sticking around until 31st August.
Besides the current movie release, this integration of Spider-Man into the land chimes perfectly with longstanding rumours for a Marvel makeover of Backlot. Much grander than a simple meet ‘n’ greet room, most rumours point to a complete re-theming of the area’s three attractions to Marvel themes, with street sets and building façades (perhaps depicting New York or similar) finally providing a story between them.
Just last week rumours surfaced of a minor Marvel-themed extension to Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure, Disney’s second Californian park. MiceAge suggests a series of modest walk-through exhibits and meet ‘n’ greet opportunities are in the works, expanding on the current Marvel tie-ins at Disneyland’s Innoventions.
In Paris, the Marvel redevelopment could be rather more ambitious, with three genuine (and already reasonably strong) attractions to work with. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster setting your Spidey senses tingling? Marvel superheroes in the Moteurs Stunt Show arena? Perhaps they just need to sell a few more souvenir character meet ‘n’ greet photos to fund it…
On Saturday 21st June 2014, Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy became the latest E ticket entry in 60 years of Disney attraction history as Bob Iger himself, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, officially dedicated the new ride and La Place de Rémy.
DLP Today had the privilege of being there to experience the ceremonies first-hand and now, as Disneyland Paris prepares to open the area to the public this Thursday 10th July, we take you there. In pictures, video and lots of words in between, this is our complete retelling of the grand opening of Ratatouille: The Adventure at Walt Disney Studios Park.
With the public opening date now just days away, Disneyland Paris is teasing Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy in another new “Making Of” video, filled with backstage construction shots and Imagineer soundbites.
Almost every detail of the land, attraction and restaurant may have been revealed during the Grand Opening Preview, but this video gives a deeper look into the work that went into creating it. An impressive list of creators talk about the project: Tom Fitzgerald, Liz Gazzano, Laurent Cayuela, Beth Clapperton, Bjorn Heerwagen and even composer Michael Giacchino.
“There are two main characters of the attraction: there’s Rémy, the rat and the little chef, and there is Paris, the lovely city” — Liz Gazzano, Executive Producer, Theme Parks, Pixar Animation Studios
“All the sets are big, so all of the imperfections one sees when one is very small we exaggerated” — Beth Clapperton, Art Director, Euro Disneyland Imagineering
“The music is in touch with the story every step of the way, and that’s what’s really fun about the ride – it really is a lot like the film as far as the story goes. You start off really beautiful – and here’s what I’m dreaming, here’s what a I want – then you get dumped into an environment in which, it could give you what you want – but you’re gonna have to fight for it to get it” — Michael Giacchino, Music Composer, Ratatouille film & attraction
It’s still refreshing to see Disneyland Paris letting the creators of a project talk about it like this, something only really begun recently with Disney Dreams!. Even with sanitised soundbites it often provides the best form of promotion.
In fact, with such a big E-Ticket, they could have been producing separate featurettes covering each aspect of the attraction, such as the musical score, teasing things over weeks and months, rather than this single 2-minute video a few days before opening.
Still, there’s great footage of the Ratmobiles “waltzing” into the unload station, something it seems impossible to get bored of seeing, so let’s not complain too much.
Want to see more? You’re in luck. Much of the construction footage comes from a longer 6 minute package of “b-roll” shared in full on our YouTube. Watch it all here:
Meanwhile for an overview of the whole construction project, they didn’t forget the traditional Disney timelapse. From a camera positioned steadily atop Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop (unlike the many fans trying to get construction photos from the ride below), this footage covers roughly two years from 2012 to 2014.
The original version lasted only 30 seconds, so here it is slowed down to a more leisurely 2 minutes 30, giving a better look at La Place de Rémy taking shape:
Sunday 22nd June was the big day for more than 50 fan bloggers, reporters and tweeters as we were invited to discover not only Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy but a special preview meal at Bistrot Chez Rémy and an hourlong presentation on the making of the ride by two of the Imagineers themselves.
Staging an event like this purely for a guest list like us was truly unprecedented by Disneyland Paris, but hopefully its success will see the formula repeated again. Besides word that #Ratatouille briefly trended on Twitter in France, it presented a fantastic opportunity for us to gather as much information and as many photos and videos to prepare our blogs and websites ahead of the official public opening date.
In a sense, for every invitee we could take along another thousand or more diehard fans with us. Keeping the fans “in the loop” like this is good for us and great for Disneyland Paris.
No less than 41 live photos were shared on our @DLPToday Twitter feed, mostly focusing on the restaurant preview with the first pictures of its décor, menus and sample dishes. If you missed them at the time or want to relive it all again, here we go!
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