2017: A coming of age story

Disneyland Paris 25th anniversary confetti

If 2016 was the year best summed up by the word ‘change’, then 2017 is very much a year in which Disneyland Paris has come of age. The resort has grown over the course of the last 12 months in ways that will have seemed far-fetched just 12 months ago. It has been a year in which major events have taken place both within the park and at company level. As we leave 2017, it is time to reflect on another amazing year for Disneyland Paris but a time to head into 2018 with a sparkle in our eyes as we look forward to what is to come.

Let’s reflect on 2017 now month-by-month and see how Disneyland Paris has grown into something new.

January

As the 2016/17 Christmas season came to an end, all eyes turned to the Walt Disney Studios park which would, for the very first time, host an entire seasonal celebration by itself. Season of the Force aimed to break the deadlock of what has traditionally been a silent season for the resort. The season featured a brand new projection show on The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror which took place nightly; Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration was an instant hit and blended project mapping, pyrotechnics and a stage show. This was joined by Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far, Away and the First Order March.

Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration at Disneyland Paris

February

Whilst Season of the Force would continue up until the 26th March 2017, February was a month in which Disneyland Paris celebrated a landmark moment in its history. The 1987 convention was signed 30 years ago and to celebrate, Disneyland Paris was joined by the then-president of France François Hollande in order to launch their 25 ans de contribution économique et sociale report. The report detailed how Disneyland Paris has affected both the local, French and European economy over the 25 years of its existence. The event kick started the 25th anniversary celebrations in a way that added some gravity to the celebrations – whilst we, as fans, may celebrate the existence of the resort, Disneyland Paris has had real social and economic change in an area that sorely needed it.

March

The 26th March 2017 was the official opening of the 25th anniversary, but the celebrations really started the preceding day with a press event like no other. With it, Disneyland Paris launched a new parade (Disney Stars on Parade); a new nighttime spectacular (Disney Illuminations); new shows (Mickey Presents: Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris, The Starlit Princess Waltz); a new attraction (Star Tours: L’Aventure continue); and a sparkling blue overlay that would transform Main Street USA for the coming celebrations.

Disneyland Paris 25th anniversary decorations on Main Street USA

Meanwhile in Disney Village, a new branch of Five Guys opened next door to Vapiano. With the opening, Disney Village really does feel like it is expanding into a destination in its own right.

April

On April 12th 2017 Disneyland Paris officially turned 25 years old and to celebrate a special day of events was organised. The Grand Celebration took place between 8am and 10pm in Disneyland Park and saw a special show, parades, meet and greets and celebratory atmosphere. The Grand Celebration drew large crowds, many queueing to enter the park from 5am in order to guarantee a good spot in the park for the Grand Celebration show; the show was an hour long spectacular that was streamed worldwide and saw many rare and exciting Disney characters, a large number of whom were making their Disneyland Paris debut.

Goofy at the Grand Celebration at Disneyland Paris on April 12th 2017

The Grand Celebration was a day that Disneyland Paris fans will never forget.

May

With the 25th anniversary now in full-swing, it would be forgiven to think that the resort would become more quiet, however the opposite is true. In May, Disneyland Paris hosted the European premiere for Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead men tell no tales was the US and International title). Whilst the film was screened in the Gaumont cinema in Disney Village, Disneyland Park (and Central Plaza) hosted the red carpet event including a small show, interviews for guests and the live stream and local and international media.

Johnny Depp with the Jack Sparrow Animatronic at Disneyland Paris

Smaller events took place park-wide and we got our first glimpse of the Jack Sparrow animatronic in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean renovation as official photos were released with Johnny Depp and the animatronic.

June

On June 19th 2017 Euro Disney SCA was withdrawn from the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange following a buy-out of shares by The Walt Disney Company, this was then followed by a mandatory buy-out of all remaining Euro Disney shares for €2 each. This meant that Euro Disney SCA became a fully owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. This is perhaps the most momentous day of the year as it represents a significant shift in how Disneyland Paris is owned and operated, the results of which are starting to be seen but it will take a significant amount of time further to see the full effects of this process.

The Dutch Garden at Disney's Newport Bay Club, Disneyland Paris

A temporary Dutch Garden was created at Disney’s Newport Bay Club hotel; this beautiful, yet temporary, feature outside the front of the hotel. The garden included 115 varieties of flowers.

July

Perhaps the busiest month of the Disneyland Paris year. At the start of the month the Forest of Enchantment returned for a summer engagement at the chaparral Theatre in Frontierland. The show was slightly updated for the new season including a backing screen and some small content changes.

On 4th July 2017, Disneyland Paris launched their Tuesday is Guest Star Day mini-parade. Each Tuesday a different rare character will be highlighted with a small mini-parade before Disney Stars on Parade. The name is inspired by the ‘Tuesday is guest star day’ feature on the old Mickey Mouse Club television show.

On 8th July 2017 the very first Electroland music festival took place at the Walt Disney Studios Park with acts including NERVO, Steve Aoki and Richard Orlinkski.

Disney's Hotel New York: The Art of Marvel concept art for Disneyland Paris

During the Disney Parks and Resorts panel at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Disney announced that Disney’s Hotel New York will be given a Marvel renovation to become Disney’s Hotel New York: The Art of Marvel. We do not yet know much about this renovation other than it will include characters such as “Iron Man, The Avengers, Spider Man and more”. Disney’s Hotel New York will close for the renovation in October 2018 and works are expected to last one year.

Finally, at the end of July, Disneyland Paris opened the renovated Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. This renovation features Captain Jack, new effects, a new auctioneer scene, a Hector Barbossa animatronic and other surprises. This was a well done renovation that is both exciting and puts some new energy into a Disneyland Paris classic.

August

In 2017 a quiet month was a rare occurrence, but August was a month in which very little happened.All the summer entertainment and long opening hours continued for the entire month. But, on the last day of the month there was a hint that September was not going to be so quiet.

September

On September 1st, Disney FanDaze was announced. This was followed later in the month by a special bloggers event that was aiming to whip up excitement in the fan community.

Disney FanDaze characters

Whilst FanDaze was seeking to create excitement for Summer 2018, there was still plenty going on in the month. Towards the start of the month the Rendez-Vous Gourmand took place in La Place de Rémy. This small-scale festival showcased the regional food and drink of France at taster portions at good prices and was a real success.

RunDisney returned in 2017 for its second edition. This year the event grew to include a 10km race in addition to the 5km and half marathon of last year.

October

October saw both the first day of the new-look Halloween celebrations and the first edition of Extra Magic Time. Halloween was given a 25th anniversary make over with shows including Goofy’s Skeletoon Party and Mickey’s Halloween Tricycle Gang. Frontierland was redesigned with a Day of the Dead theme. The season was packed with fun and ended with a spectacular Halloween party on October 31st.

Mickey and Minnie in their Mexican Outfits at Disneyland Paris

Extra Magic Time replaced the Extra Magic Hours, the primary difference was that the extra time was now only one hour instead of two but spread across two parks. Whilst this change was met with both surprise and a level of scepticism, the changes have allowed for increased choice for guests, which can only be a good thing.

Then, at the end of the month in London, Disneyland Paris announced the Marvel Summer of Super Heroes that will take place in the summer of 2018 as the finale of the 25th anniversary celebrations. The setting of the announcement in London was symbolic in that it took place at MCM Comic Con which symbolised a branch being held out to new guests who would not usually visit Disneyland Paris.

November

Every November Disneyland Paris launches a new edition of Disney’s Enchanted Christmas, and this year was no exception; however what is perhaps the exception is the magnitude of this year’s celebrations. This year was quite possibly the biggest Christmas season that Disneyland Paris have ever produced featuring a new projection show; multiple new stage shows; new music and meet and greets. The festive spirit was very much alive at Disneyland Paris in 2017.

Mickey's Christmas Big Band at Disneyland Paris

Perhaps the highlight of the season is Mickey’s Christmas Big Band which really does represent a renewed focus at Disneyland Paris for live music, signing and dancing.

December

For the Christmas period in 2017 (and continuing into early 2018), Disneyland Paris performed Mickey and the Magician in French sign language for the very first time. This new way of presenting the show was presented as a co-operation between the Entertainment, Mission Handicap, Accessibility and Operations teams. A great initiative to end the year!

Mickey and the Magician Finale

A year of transition, excitement and promise!

2017 has been a year that has seen Disneyland Paris transition into a fresh destination, one that offers excitement around each corner and one that has a lot of promise for the future. 2017 feels like a turning point for Disneyland Paris, and the future looks bright.

30 years of the convention: the social and economic benefits of Disneyland Paris

In March 1987 the famous convention was signed that signalled the official green light to begin construction on Euro Disneyland which was to be based around 30 minutes to the east of Paris. 2017 sees the 30 year anniversary of this landmark agreement and the official visit of François Hollande to the resort to celebrate the social and economic benefits of Disneyland Paris to the local and French economy.

In France, everything begins with a controversy, and ends with an anniversary. 

Often it is forgotten the controversy that surrounded building this big entertainment complex. It was, to some, seen as an American invasion, a degradation of the environment in the quiet and rural Seine-et-Marne département. But who could have foreseen how much Disneyland Paris would benefit not just France, but the whole of Europe? For the 30th anniversary of the convention, Disneyland paris released a report that details these benefits.

An economic benefit

Since 1992 and the opening of Disneyland Paris, the resort has benefitted the French economy by €66 billion in added value. That is indeed the headline figure of this report, the sheer reinvestment that Disneyland Paris has offered into the French economy which averages out at €2.7 billon per year (N.B. Added value here indicates the amount of money offered into the French economy that wouldn’t otherwise have been spent), the resort has paid €6 billion in tax (this figure includes VAT paid) and whilst Euro Disney has invested €7.9 billion in France, the French state has only invested €691 million. For every €1 that the French state has invested, €11.4 was privately contributed to the project and has meant that the French state has had a large return on investment in a resort that accounts for 6.2% of all French tourist spending.

Photo: Disney

The initial investment required was €5.06 billion to create the resort, the area surrounding the parks as well as the hotel complex and Festival Disney. This was topped up by a second park in 2002 which required €646 million. This money has created Europe’s number 1 tourist destination which receives more visitors per year than the Eiffel Tower and Château de Versailles combined which is aided by the fact that over 300 million people live within 2 hours of the resort

Disneyland Paris is a huge driver of spending through guests. Over the past 25 years, guests have spent over €80 billion at Disneyland Paris. In return, Disneyland Paris has become a large player on the european supplier market. In fact, over the course of its existence Disneyland Paris has spent over €3.7 billion with its suppliers; this is predominately in France (82% to be precise) but €77.5 million of this has been spent in the wider European area – the United Kingdom is the largest European supplier outside of France accounting for 30% of the resort’s expenditure outside of France. Within France, Disneyland Paris predominately sources its suppliers locally within the Ile-de-France region which accounts for 70% of the resort’s French suppliers.

Part of the 1987 agreement also saw Disney develop a local community in close proximity to the parks. Today, Val d’Europe is home to 30,000 residents who are housed in 12,000  homes. The development has also seen the creation of a new university, lycée (high school) and even a hospital. Val d’Europe has been such a success that 93% of residents recommending living or working in the area. When discussing the benefits of Disneyland Paris, it is the local area that has benefitted most of all with the region receiving a total of around €60 billion, around 87% of the total amount raised by the development.

A social revolution

Of course the benefits of Disneyland Paris on France (and Europe as a whole) go way beyond pure economics. Disneyland Paris is now home to 15,000 Cast Members (the term Disney gives to its employees) who are divided up into 52% male and 48% female which makes Disneyland Paris the largest single site employer in France. Even more impressive is that 13% of Cast Members have worked at Disneyland Paris since the opening in 1992. The average tenure of Cast Members in Disneyland Paris is 9 years with 85% of contracts being CDI (permanent positions).

Disneyland Paris also takes its responsibility to its employees incredibly seriously. In fact, Disneyland Paris have increased the number of training hours it offers over the past 5 years (2010-15) by 30% (around 400,000 hours of training per year) and has a training budget which is 3 times higher than the national minimum required by French law. Additionally, 80% of promotions to manager positions are internal recruitment meaning that Cast Members at Disneyland Paris have good progression potential.

Photo: Disney

The enormity of jobs at Disneyland Paris is not to be underestimated either. For every 3 jobs created in France, the 4th will be at Disneyland Paris. To understand why this is, we need to look at the construction of Disneyland Paris jobs: there are 500 different jobs in the resort staffed by over 100 different nationalities allowing for over 20 languages to be spoken. To recruit these talented Cast Members, Disney have hosted recruitment sessions in 12 European countries. Whilst this is a vast recruitment operation, Disneyland Paris Cast Members are comprised of 70% French nationals with the rest of Europe making up 18% of Cast Members.

Whilst Disneyland Paris itself employs 15,000 Cast Members, the real impact of the resort is much wider. The resort is responsible for 22,000 direct or indirect jobs (indirect jobs being jobs that have been created because Disneyland Paris exists) which has also seen residency rise in the area. Upon the opening of Disneyland Paris, just 32% of Cast Members lived in the Seine-et-Marne département, this has now risen to 73% and 17% of Cast Members live in Val d’Europe. The resort, therefore, has provided real social change for the local area; once a domain of farmers, it is now a vibrant area for young people to live and work.

The tourist centre of France

30 years ago, Chessy was a small village in the middle of a farming area just east of Paris. Today, it is the heart of European tourism. The train station located at the heart of the Disneyland Paris development has become the number 1 TGV hub in France with 54 towns serviced from this station ranging from Marseille to Brussels and London. All these guests flooding into the resort also need a place to stay and so Disneyland Paris has become the 5th largest hotel hub in France (behind places such as Paris and Lourdes) offering 8,500 hotel rooms (5,800 of these are offered in Disney hotels) – 49.5% of the hotel capacity in Seine-et-Marne.

Photo: Disney

The resort offers much more than a place to stay and a theme park – Disneyland Paris is also 2 conference centres, a golf course and offers guests over 115 restaurants and shops.

Only 44% of visitors come from France, with 56% of guests from elsewhere in the world (although primarily from Europe). With such an influx of foreign visitors, it is important to note that 52% of the foreign guests to the resort take the time to visit the city of Paris. Guest mood is calculated by Cast Members who survey guests around the park, each year 300,00 of these are completed to allow Disneyland Paris to constantly evolve according to guest expectations.

It’s not just France that benefits!

Whilst the big beneficary of Disneyland Paris is France and the French economy, Disneyland Paris is about much more than France. The resort has been used as a force for good across Europe. Discover how:

Germany

  • 4th most visitors from Europe (representing 12% of foreign guests to Disneyland Paris
  • Guests from Germany stay on average for 2 nights
  • A family from Germany was the 100 millionth guests at Disneyland Paris!
  • Disneyland Paris uses 58 suppliers from Germany – in particular plant suppliers.
  • 110 Cast Members are German
  • The average tenure of a German Cast Member is 10 years and are mostly attracted by the ability to use their language skills.

Belgium/Luxembourg

  • 5th most visitors from Europe (representing 11% of foreign guests to Disneyland Paris)
  • Guests from Belgium/Luxembourg stat on average 2 nights
  • Disneyland Paris uses 77 suppliers from Belgium – notably, chocolate suppliers.
  • 130 Cast Members are from Belgium/Luxembourg
  • Average stay of a Belgian/Luxembourg Cast Member is 7 years and are mostly attracted by their proximity to the resort.

Spain

  • 2nd most visitors from Europe (representing 13% of foreign guests to Disneyland Paris)
  • Guests from Spain stay on average 3 nights.
  • Disneyland Paris uses 40 Spanish suppliers – most notably for the construction of parade floats
  • There are 520 Cast Members from Spain
  • The average stay of a Cast Member from Spain is 6 years.

Italy

  • Italy represents 6% of foreign guests to Disneyland Paris
  • Disneyland Paris uses 43 Italian suppliers – most notably architect firms.
  • Italy represents the largest nationality for non-French Cast Members: around 900.
  • The average stay for an Italian Cast Member is 7 years.

Netherlands

  • The Netherlands represents 13% of foreign guests to Disneyland Paris
  • The average duration of a stay for a guest from the Netherlands is 2 nights
  • Disneyland Paris uses 63 Dutch suppliers (20% of the overall suppliers) – most notably for flowers.
  • There are 120 Dutch Cast Members who have an average length of stay of 10 years.

United Kingdom

  • 28% of foreign visitors are from the United Kingdom (The most amount of foreign guests)
  • 30% of foreign suppliers are from the UK (135 suppliers) – most notably fireworks and special effects.
  • Over 400 Cast Members come from the UK, most of these in the parades and entertainment department.

Disneyland Paris is a motor of huge economic growth and change in France, and has even seen benefits across the whole of Europe. In its construction as a unique enterprise that has seen a partnership between public and private enterprises, it is right that it has been celebrated as such by the French president. The 30 years of economic growth is only a start, Disneyland Paris will continue to grow and bring even more benefits to France and Europe.


This information has been compiled from the excellent 25 ans de contribution économique et sociale report that was published by Disneyland Paris in February 2017.

I would like to extend a big thanks to Mathias Dugoujon of Disneyland Paris for his help in obtaining this report.