20th Highlights: Disney Dreams!

Disney Dreams! opening sequence projected onto the castle

A series of posts of 20th Anniversary highlights could not miss the new spectacular Disney Dreams! show. Disney Dreams! has put Disneyland Paris on the international map, fans of the European resort have longed for something world-class, that would make Disney fans across the world jealous and want to come over and see our parks, with Disney Dreams! we got this, but it even exceeded the wildest expectations.

Whilst the story started long before that March night, that night was the accumulation  of many years work, Disneyland Paris fans sat on YouTube, eager in anticipation as to what would follow. It exceeded expectation, fans rejoiced and started booking trips to see the show with their own eyes. Over the year and a half it has been running the show has seen modifications, and has received many accolades including a IAPAA brass ring award. It has been an enormous spectator success with millions already having seen it and consistently scoring very high approval ratings meaning that for Disneyland Paris, the investment has been worthwhile.

Disney Dreams! is a reasonably simple show in its storyline. Peter Pan’s Shadow escapes and hits the second star to the right, unfortunately all the magic spills out and Shadow goes on a magical journey through many Disney classics and meets a range of characters, both good and evil. Can Shadow eventually put the magic back in the star?

The popular classics featured in the show include ‘Be our Guest’ from Beauty and the Beast in a foot tapping opening to our story, ‘Friend like me’ from Aladdin in a thrilling piece of show and effects. ‘Out there’ from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, which is an incredibly beautiful song in the French version combined with the mind-blowing projections of the Notre Dame facade on the castle. The current 2013 version then launches into a fan favourite Lion King medley which gets the crowd dancing followed by a Brave section which is almost a breather but with its funny moments. Doctor Facilier then changes the castle into a mechanical castle with breathtaking fire effects, before the villains take over a threaten to take Shadow. Before Peter and Wendy save the day and bookend the show, much like it started with ‘The second Star to the right’ and ‘You can fly!’.
As we are taken on the journey through classic Disney films featuring the enchanted soundtrack scores from the films, all children (both young and the young at heart) will find themselves smiling, singing, dancing and enjoying the special effects that make this show much more than a thrilling story, but a technological marvel for all the senses. The show features: Mapping on the castle, water projections, water fountains, fire and pyrotechnics to name but a few, these features are carefully thought out and are triggered at moments where they make sense to the plot of the show, or moments where they add emphasis to a ‘magical moment’. This is no typical firework show, this is a nightly spectacular that our resort can be proud of and will continue to evolve as time goes on (as can be seen through Disney Dreams of Christmas launching this November). The future is bright for Disney Dreams!, time will tell how the show will continue to evolve and impress audiences nightly.

Our 20th Anniversary highlights week runs from 23rd September until the 30th September 2013 and celebrates the best moments of the anniversary year, from special events to new attractions. Check back everyday for a new article. 

20th Anniversary Highlights Article Directory

Frozen Disney Dreams! coming this winter.

Elsa and Olaf projected onto the castle
It’s news that has been a long time coming, despite the continued rumours, and news of a Winter Dreams

world of Color show, Disneyland Paris has been tight-lipped about what was coming to Disneyland Paris this winter. Well, no longer as Olaf presents an exciting, totally new Disney Dreams! just for you this Christmas. Meet new friends from the Disney Animation Studios film Frozen, as well as discovering your current friends presenting a Toy Story twist on a celebrated classic: The Nutcracker. Amongst all that new Disney Dreams! fun, you also have the exciting new additions to the Disneyland Paris line up. Meet Anna and Elsa in a new parade float, and marvel at the utterly wonderful Christmas Cavalcade.
If you are in Disneyland Paris this Christmas (10th November – 6th January), you are in for an exciting adventure.

This news shouldn’t come to a shock to those who follow us on twitter, when we tweeted this photo in early August

The Disney Dreams! development team visited London’s Abbey Road studios to record the soundtrack at the same time as Steve Davidson confirmed he was there working on Winter Dreams (World of Color).

And we saw this image in the Autumn/Winter brochure a few months ago.

This news has certainly got me even more excited, Disneyland Paris fans have long been longing for a treat of this size and here it is.

Update 30/08/2013: Christmas Dreams! will include scenes from Frozen, Toy Story, Fantasia and Bambi according to the French Disneyland Paris Christmas press release. Not going during Halloween? Huey, Dewie and Louie will also be in the Christmas Cavalade. Santa Claus will also head the Disney Magic on Parade! as well as the Christmas cavalcade. Our new Christmas Tree is now confirmed and will be replaced with a 25 meter high tree decorated with thousands of decorations from around the world, which every night will be illuminated in a special lighting ceremony named “Les Voeux Magiques de Noel” (literally translated to: Thr Magical Wishes of Christmas) headed by Pinocchio and his conscience Jiminy Cricket

Where will we be this Christmas? With any luck we’ll be in Disneyland Paris! How are we getting there, and how are we paying for it? Well, that remains to be seen. Any ideas anyone?   We’ll keep you updated on our progress on that one!

Dreams! images are copyright Disney.

Light’Ears: Success or Failure

Light'Ears in front of a blurred castle at dusk
Despite Disneyland Paris fans talking about Light’Ears for about a year, it takes a bit more work for the general public and Disneyland Paris guests to understand the concept of the product they are being asked to buy. Add to that the European guests buying habits and perhaps you have a recipe for disaster? We already know that in the past Disney have got it very wrong with the European consumers, the way we consume and buy is quite different to that of the American market. Happily, Disney have learnt from mistakes made at Euro Disneyland and moved on to create a Hong Kong Disneyland that takes into account the cultural habits of the people of Hong Kong, and indeed they will be certain to do the same in Shanghai for the upcoming Shanghai Disney Resort, in this regard, Disneyland Paris’s original failures have improved the future for all resorts. The perfect example of getting European consumers wrong was the original policy of having no alcohol in the park (thus matching the parks American cousins), Europeans did not agree to this policy as alcohol is a larger part of European culture and so Euro Disney management reversed the decision and alcohol was served in Disneyland Paris. Having said that, there is no real evidence that Light’Ears would be a failure in Disneyland Paris, and in our opinion they are not a failure; however there is no real success story either. We’ve taken thoughts from you, our readers, and taken our own observations to analyse Light’Ears in Europe (and to some extent Glow with the Show in Disneyland Resort in California).
Point 1: Marketing and Sales

There is no nice way of putting this I’m afraid. Light’Ear marketing is poor, very poor. In fact we are glad we knew what Light’Ears were and how they interacted with Disney Dreams! As there was no real mention to it in the promotional material given in the parks. We visited every hotel in the main resort area and every shop

But what do they actually do?

in Disney Village and Disneyland Park to study the marketing and it really was shoddy. Essentially what we are told in the shop displays are that these are Light’Ears and that they are €20. Nothing more. Which, as a Disney fan is quite disappointing; we’ve all seen the press event videos presented to us by various Disney fansites, and Disneyland Paris themselves and have seen them as an amazing piece of technology that really could change the way we view Disney Dreams! forever. However, that potential will not be realised due to, in part, Disneyland Paris not telling guests what they do.On the face of it, during the daytime, these ears are a garish colour bonnet with white ears. It is only at night where these lights come into a life of their own. The problem is, Disneyland Paris have not advertised this during the daytime hours.

This is the only image anywhere in the resort showing what the ears actually do
The image above is the only image in the entire resort of hat Light’Ears actually do, a small static image placed high up and slightly obscured. If anyone is likely to purchase these ears, it will be guests in hotels staying multiple nights. We took a walk through the Disneyland Paris resort hotels to take a look at how they were being marketed to guests there. If anything, guests here will see them as an investment right?
An impressive window display in the Hotel New York
Regrettably, Disneyland Paris seems to not think that this captive audience are more likely to buy the ears than a day trip guest; aside from the occasional window display, the displays are the exact same as in Disney Village and Disneyland Park, equally as uninviting and nondescript.The only advantage to the hotels is that guests will have hopefully seen them in action and have been convinced enough by them to actually purchase a pair.
Look at the pretty colours
Our first visit to Disneyland Paris was in 1999, since then we’ve remembered the outdoor summer sellers of various light up merchandise. From the light spinners to the hair band ear hats, this sales tactic has clearly proven popular with Disney Parks customers as often hundreds of these light up merchandise can be seen upon exiting the park, mostly due to children falling in love with the merchandise and wanting it. It is therefore no surprise that this tactic has been deployed to sell the Disney Light’Ears. We saw the old Emporium outdoor sales units being used as well as the pin trading bike to bring Light’Ears up and down Main Street U.S.A.
Guests seem interested in Light’Ears
From what we saw, guest were interested in the ears; every time we moved nearby a mobile unit there were a good number of guests taking a look, trying them on and perhaps even purchasing them. There is a certain charm about Light’Ears at night, the colours are vibrant and as more people bought them, others wanted to join in. We were asked a few times where we bought the ears from, this was certainly encouraging.
Summer outdoor sales of old
The Disney Store in Europe are selling these ears for £18 (UK) €20 (FR), with a personalization option. If the marketing was good enough, people could be tempted to buy them before their holiday and thus not add to the increasingly important holiday budget. It’s a small psychological step, that could allow for major gains. The personalization, despite its price could be a big draw for some as they become a much more personal buy, however we have no idea how Disney Store’s personalization options sell, at the price (£4.95), we imagine that most won’t bother with it. We searched Light’Ear on both UK and France stores, the UK recognised the search term and displayed the item we wanted, the French store, however, did not recognise Light’Ear, instead only showing when I searched ‘Oreille’. Not really ideal given the in park publicity calls them Light’Ears if Disney fans can’t find them by searching their actual name.
Perhaps the most important point to mention here is Disney Store’s facebook publicity, which finally explicitly mentions the fact that they light up to the Disney Dreams! Show and even contains the promo images that we all marvelled at in April.
Finally, park literature does advertise these ears, but only in a minimalistic way. For example your weekly programme (Times guide for our American friends) has a small advertisement at the top of the page.
In park advertising
The advert certainly is attention grabbing, and is very clear as to what they actually do. Perhaps the best advertisement in the resort for the product but we have an issue at Disneyland Paris where not nearly as many people pick up the programme than the map. The map however advertises them in a much more minimal way, a small text advert (much like the one above) on the rear of the map (the tips for the day, which everybody generally ignores), and a small icon on the 20th anniversary specials on the park map.
However, I do agree that marketing on the map really is a difficult one. I think it’s been managed in the best possible way, a map is a functional item; not so much to set up a purchase.
When night falls, CMs do their best to sell the ears.

 

Point 2: Guest Takeup
Some of us realised that those press event images were a one-off, others dreamed of a press event scenario every night where a sea of Light’Ears would illuminate Main Street USA. The reality unfortunately varies every night depending on the guests of the day. Depending on which view you took upon launch will perhaps affect the way you see guest take-up. Each night at Disneyland Paris, perhaps a hundred or so people wear these ears, which is perhaps similar, if not a little bit better than our Californian cousins. Either way, compared to the thousands of visitors to Disneyland Paris each day, the turnout really isn’t particularly great. We had two different experiences, which you can read in our review. Ideally, a good guest take-up would breed more Light’Ear purchases as it wouldn’t be seen as a worthless investment of €20 to not even benefit from the ears. We asked our twitter followers their thoughts on Light’Ears:
@manicSara mentioned that she doesn’t go to Disneyland Paris often enough to see it as a worthwhile investment. Which we understand, if you were only visiting Disneyland Paris on a day trip, there are so many better things to spend money on, perhaps if you were having a 3,4 or 5 night stay, the price per show drops. Local residents will get the best value from these ears.
@imaginat1on told us that he wouldn’t even be bringing the pair he was given at Disneyland Resort for the World of Color show, again we understand this point of view. These are a pain to travel with, some people just don’t like them and if you aren’t staying at an on site hotel you have to carry them around all day, and no, they do not easily fold down. He told us that the DLR take up was extremely slow.
@DLRPRoundup was more positive telling us that he believes potential exists for them to be expanded even further (such as at Disneyland Resort), they could be synchronised with shows, attractions and more. We agree, this could be the start of a really exciting development and would really help boost take-up! Otherwise, these ears are essentially good for 23 minutes.
@Seiter_Klaudia mentioned the steep price mark. €20 doesn’t sound a lot of money, but as soon as you think about a family of 4 or 5 people, those €20 very quickly begin to add up and become quite unsupportable. A one-off €20 is a lot anyway, but as soon as you hit that €100, that is a massive turn off.
We thank our twitter followers for their thoughts.
In the park we noticed a few things, people wanted to buy Light’Ears, we were asked where we got them, others looked at the ears during the show and were enchanted by what they saw. We saw a few guests looking at buying them as they left the park, perhaps to return with them another day? One of our stranger observations was at the start of the show, as the earmitters begin to transmit and Main Street USA is plunged into darkness, the ears actually turn off for a few seconds. This caused a couple of guests near us to take them off their head, thought that perhaps they had been deactivated and take them off for the duration of the show.
However, to say Light’Ears don’t sell is a lie. Take here at the Disneyland Hotel for example.
Point 3: Guest Issues
European and American Disney Parks guests are different. Generally speaking, Disneyland Paris does a great job in recognising this and acting upon it. Mickey Mouse ears have never taken off in our European park in the way that they have over at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, does that mean that Light’Ears (which essentially are a very similar product) won’t sell? Not at all, if we’ve learnt one thing, it is that novelty hats sell. Countless hundreds of guests each day visit the stores and buy those big blue sorcerer Mickey hats, thousands more take photos of themselves wearing the hats. So hats sell, and light up merchandise sells. So would a combination of the two sell? Logic would say yes, but European consumers are not especially ‘logical’ in this sense. European consumers are quite calculating and rarely buy something without thinking. A €20 hat for a 20 minute show, whereas this sorcerer mickey hat is €21 and can be worn all day; Sorcerer Mickey hat wins every time.
Add onto this that perhaps consumers do not know what the hats actually do, perhaps they are seen as obtrusive (as Disneyland Paris fan and guest @Timekeeper mentioned, a guest asked him to take off his ears as they couldn’t see). European guests need to be educated and persuaded. A price decrease would certainly persuade more Europeans to take the plunge.
Point 4: Our Suggestions
Despite this article generally criticising Light’Ears and the marketing of them, we are actually very favourable of the product, in fact we gave them five stars. We believe the potential exists for these Light’Ears to be a huge success, the aim of this article was to point our flaws and to hopefully allow those to be improved. However, we have thought up some suggestions of our own that we would like to see implemented.
Our first idea is to give hotel guests a pair. Using the logic of ‘success breeds success’ we think that more Light’Ears on central plaza would actually sell more Light’Ears. Now, this doesn’t have to be a something for nothing type idea. Perhaps raising package prices by a very tiny sum would cover the cost of this. People plan a finite sum of spending money for their trips, especially in the current tough economic climate. Perhaps by including them in the price of the holiday you’ll very sneakily get round this. The more Light’Ears people see in Main Street USA, the more they are likely to think that buying a pair would be beneficial. And besides, checking into the hotel and having a little gift on the bed could make people come back. It’s the little things that make the Disney difference.
A reserved area for viewing the show for Light’Ear owners. Another way of making people believe that there are more Light’Ears than there actually are is to group them all together. Not only that, but the promise of a good spot AND a near guaranteed view of other Light’Ears might persuade a purchase. At the moment the potentiality exists that guests will buy a pair and not see the benefit. As more and more people come back with their ears, the reserved area could be expanded initially before finally being retired as hopefully enough people will be on Main Street each day with their ears. We heard the rumour was that a plan to have an area like that was envisaged, we’d love to see it come to fruition.
Using Light’Ears to synchronise up to Disney’s Fantilusion parade would be perfect. First of all, you have a clear parade route to move up and down Main Street USA to sell the ears, rather than the busy street where the sellers can’t access the people nearest the castle, secondly the ears synchronising with the parade would be that perfect advertisement for more Light’Ears to be sold for Disney Dreams!
They look amazing at night. The colours are vibrant.
 A big critique I have of Light’Ears at the moment is the poor marketing in the Disneyland Paris stores, a video advertising screen at each Light’Ear point of sale would make for an interactive sales experience with a clear illustration of what the ears actually do. We feel that this would improve sales as they will no longer be seen as ‘just a mickey hat with lights’.
We recently heard from our friends at DLRP Express that Disneyland Paris have added announcements at 15 minutes before the show advising guests that it is time to turn on their Light’Ears and prepare to synchronise with the show, thus doing two things. Advising guests that have already purchased the ears that there really is more than meets the eye to the hats, and advising those who have not got a pair that these aren’t going to irritate you during the show; in fact they are going to enhance your show. Now, we believe that this announcement comes to late. In the summer with 15 minutes to go, you are in your place and you won’t move to buy a pair of ears. (We realise this isn’t a sales announcement), however this announcement perhaps 15 minutes earlier could facilitate more purchases without even changing the announcement wording, in a way this is very sly advertising. Advertising with blatantly advertising.
Finally, we know our friend @plazagardens would like to see a sort of offer system. Be it a buy one get one free offer, or buy 3 pairs and get the 4th free or even half price ears through a receipt at a Disneyland Paris restaurant (such as the free drink offer).
We hope this article has outlined some of our concerns about Light’Ears in a constructive manner, and also provided plenty of positive points. Once again, we are very positive about Light’Ears here and their future direction (as shown by our eagerness to get a pair!), but we feel that there really is work to be done and that Disneyland Paris, should and can easily commit themselves to this products long term future, of which we have not doubt that there will be one.
Good night from Town Square
 DLP Town Square tried out Light’Ears in August 2013, and gave them five stars in our recent review. Once again, this wasn’t an article to criticise Disneyland Paris, more to point out flaws in the hope of improving the future. 
We’d love to hear your opinion, comment below or tweet us @dlptownsquare

Light’Ears, our thoughts and a plea

Light'Ears in front of the castle at night

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the size of a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, then perhaps you’ve heard about the Light’Ears, the new way of lighting up Main Street U.S.A. to the Disney Dreams! Show. We all saw, and were amazed by, the pictures of the press event in March with a sea of Light’Ears in front of the castle, but is the reality any different? Well, in short, yes. These are new additions to the park this summer which you will only really benefit from, if you have positioned yourself well, which as we know in the high season is not always so easy. We’ve had two experiences, one good and one bad meaning we are able to write a balanced report.

First of all, the hats are heavier than you would probably imagine, but that can be explained by the fact these are electronic devices, the electrical elements are protected by a foam layer which actually makes the hat comfortable to wear, in fact that is one of the big things we took away from the Light’Ear hats is that, for the short period in which you wear them, they are actually reasonably comfortable. My only dislike was the strap underneath your chin but I’d put that down to just not being used to wearing one, it is important to remember that you are only likely to be wearing this hat for about an hour in summer (or perhaps longer in Winter? That remains to be seen). The design of the bonnet is bright, very bright, and probably looks much worse in photographs than in reality and once night falls, the images are too dark to see. Perhaps design wise we should all just remember that it never really matters for the 23 minutes it is designed to be worn for, and you are not even able to see it yourself. Which brings me to what might seem a negative detail, you can’t see it; thus making it incredibly difficult to market, ‘The lights you are paying €20 for synchronize with Disney Dreams! but you won’t actually be able to see them’. And, regrettably, that is this products major downfall, if nobody else near you has bought the Light’Ears, you have essentially poured €20 down the drain; the argument may well be in return that you are enhancing the Dreams! experience for other guests, but consumers will not see it that way. Why should I pay €20 for something I will reap no benefit from; and so this is where I plea with all Disneyland Paris guests, please buy Light’Ears! Not only will you have a pair of Mickey ears, you’ll also enhance Disney Dreams! for everyone, after all, who wouldn’t want to see the scene from the press event echoed every evening in central plaza?

I visited Disneyland Paris twice this summer (2013) and incidentally had two very different Light’Ear experiences (not purposefully). Let me begin by my first experience, after having bought my Light’Ears from Boardwalk Candy (where you will get a brand new pair, which is much better than buying a pair that have been on all night from the roaming carts) I attempted to find a space for the show.

 

 

Central Plaza was full and so I resorted to a place outside Disney & Co (about half way down Main Street). I thought I had a decent spot with a view of one pair of ears, when just as the ‘second star to the right’ sequence was playing, a man decided to stand directly in front of me; and to make things even worse, he put his child on his shoulders. I was reduced to no view. So I moved up the sides of the street. As the show ended I felt an immense sense of disappointment, not just having not being able to see the show; but of €20 wasted.

Then, the second day in the park, I arrived for Dreams! about 20 minutes earlier, had a good view of about 3/4 pairs of ears and as the show went on, my jaw dropped once again as if it was the first time seeing the show. I had rediscovered my love of the show as the colours of the ears matched the scenes, the music, the characters and the flashing of the ears matched the beat of the music. Sometimes the show itself was the star, and the ears turned off and brought the focus to the castle sometimes Dreams! designers clearly wanted to show to be right in front of you and so the ears became the star. All in all, I rediscovered a show that had taken a place in my heart and this time I left feeling like that €20 was one of the best I had spent in Disneyland Paris.

Each evening I was at the park interest for Light’Ears was somewhere in between moderate to high, but with the high price tag families tended to buy just one pair per family. The uptake seemed higher with adults than families with plenty of adult groups and parents wearing them. Overall, the Disneyland Paris Light’Ears will allow you to revolutionise the way you see the Disney Dreams! show and literally bring it right in front of your eyes. This is one experience in Disneyland Paris that you do not want to miss!

But, I’d like to reiterate my plea from earlier in the article: So that all guests get maximum benefit from the ears, please buy a set and allows us all to dream every evening.

Disney Dreams! now featuring Light’Ears is performed nightly in Disneyland Paris. 
An article describing how Light’Ears are marketed around the resort, and could be further marketed will be uploaded soon onto this site.
What are your reactions to Light’Ears? Do you have a set, what do you think? Did you not buy a set? Why not?  Will you be buying a set when you visit?  – Drop us a comment below or tweet us @dlptownsquare