Disneyland Paris announces a terrific Halloween 2019

Halloween 2019 visual at Disneyland Paris

Halloween is one of the most anticipated seasons of the year at Disneyland Paris and the 2019 season will be no different. Running from 28th September until 3rd November 2019, the Halloween Festival will feature all new shows and a new addition to the popular The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror, this Halloween is shaping up to have a lot of exciting features for everyone.

New Villains Show – starring Ursula

Over on the Royal Castle Stage a new stage show has been announced starring the Disney Villains, and a new addition to Disneyland Paris for 2019 – Ursula.

Whilst It’s Good to be Bad had taken a place as a Disneyland Paris fan favourite, it was probably time to go and to be replaced with something fresh and exciting.

Mickey’s Halloween Celebration

The hit Halloween parade will return with the wonderful sounds of Vive la Vie filling the air, no changes have been announced to the parade, given the acclaim it had last year this can only be a good thing.

Mickey Mouse during the Halloween season at Disneyland Paris

It remains to be seen if the show stop will be slightly modified to remove the references to Mickey’s 90th Birthday and the ‘Great Big Year’.

Disney Character Meet and Greets

One of the most celebrated features of the Halloween season at Disneyland Paris is the sheer number of character meet and greets. Of course 2019 will be no different, the Disney Villains will meet throughout the park with Maleficent taking over the Castle Courtyard with her brambles once again.

Other new meet and greets include Stitch, Max will join returning characters Minnie and Cheshire Cat – of course there will be plenty more surprises along the way!

The Tower of Terror: Revisited

The biggest news of the season, perhaps, is that the Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror will be getting a overhaul for the Halloween season; the attraction will be more terrifying than ever as it introduces random drop sequences into the attraction and no two rides will ever be the same.

Tower of Terror at Disneyland Paris

This type of technology has been a long time coming for Disneyland Paris, but now it is here, let’s hope it becomes permanent.

Two Halloween Parties!

There will, of course, be two Halloween parties this year. The first on Saturday 26th October and the second on Thursday 31st October 2019. The two parties are expected to be identical but offers much more in the way of flexibility and choice to guests who can’t get to the park during the week for the 31st October – a problem that has dogged Disneyland Paris for years.

A fantastic sounding season for 2019

Halloween is always a high point of the year and 2019 will be no exception. It’s very likely that numerous little surprises will be unveiled as we get closer to the season and that the success of Halloween will continue to be built upon.

One thing is for certain, Halloween will likely be another fantastic Disneyland Paris season for a park that is having success after success with its seasons.

Disney Access One to provide new ways to experience attractions

Disney Access One visual with Dash

Disneyland Paris have announced a new and unique way to access your favourite attractions fast and with minimal wait. Disney Access One is a one time use access pass to select Disney attractions which allows you to ride your favourite attractions at a time that suits you.

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A look ahead to what 2018 holds for Annual Passholders

Disneyland Paris have released details on what 2018 holds for new annual passholders. Included is a very modest price increase for Discovery; Magic Flex and Magic Plus annual passes (the Infinity pass price will remain unchanged).

Also announced is a 1930s Tower of Terror party, which promises to be spectacular:

Join us on 30 March 2018 for the first of these special events: The Hollywood Tower Hotel 10th Anniversary

Places to this exclusive soirée are extremely limited, and available only to Infinity Annual Pass holders. The first of this new series of evening events will be to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Hollywood Tower Hotel on Friday 30 March 2018. An unforgettable costume party, with a special 1930s Hollywood theme!

 

Available for €39, tickets will go on sale on Monday 5 February at 11 AM, in the Annual Pass Office, at City Hall and Studio Services, at Park entrances, and via the Infinity Annual Pass phone line.

Disneyland Paris have also created 3 priorities for annual passes in 2018 including:

Programme communication, with a redesign of our e-mail communication and an even more personnalised experience

Digitalisation, in order to make reservations and renewal even easier;

New VIP experience, with new exclusivities and even more advantageous conditions for Annual Pass holders.

To read the full press release, just click here.

Is it time for a new attraction at Disneyland Paris?

Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong; the Disney resorts around the world (excluding Paris), but also all the Disney resorts that have large scale construction projects announced. It’s a time of rapid expansion at Disney parks and resorts worldwide, but the glaring omission from this list is Paris. That could be down to the fact that Paris typically announces its new developments exceptionally late in the day (don’t forget that Ratatouillle: L’Aventure totalement toquée de Rémy was only announced in January 2014, for a June opening after years of fans tracking the development of the construction of the attraction), but also perhaps that Disneyland Paris do not have any major plans green-lit.

A brief history of new attractions

Disneyland Paris has grown rapidly since opening, that much is certain and eventually the rapid growth had to slow. In 1993, just one year following park opening, Disneyland Paris opened Indiana Jones et le temple du péril. Major attractions since then include Space Mountain: de la terre à la lune in 1995; Honey I Shrunk the Audience in 1999; the Walt Disney Studios park in 2002; Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast in 2006; Toon Studio and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in 2007; Toy Story Playland in 2010 and of course Ratatouille in 2014. The time gaps in opening are rarely more than 4 years. The gap between Ratatouille and anything is currently sitting on 3 years and it’s likely to be a few more before we get anything.

Tower of Terror at Disneyland Paris

Does seasonal entertainment fill the void?

Disneyland Paris has been launching new seasonal entertainment as a way to attract new guests, and this really does work. For many parks, this long without a new ride (attraction) would see the park stagnating and begin to feel tired; Disneyland Paris has avoided this problem by creating unique seasonal entertainment and this does stand out on its own for being good quality and getting key franchises into the parks (such as during the Frozen Summer Fun celebrations in 2015 and 2016). Additionally new shows such as Mickey and the Magician have emerged which do delight guests. But a lack of new attraction does seem to be becoming increasingly apparent.

Swing into Spring at Disneyland Paris

Star Tours to Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

What we have seen are new attractions being marketed such as Star Tours: L’Aventure Continue, and whilst these are new attractions, they also are not. The core of Star Tours and Hyperspace Mountain remain the same regardless of ‘wow factor’ when riding them and rediscovering them as if it were the first time. The issue is that these are ‘reimagined’ attractions as opposed to something new, at its base you know exactly what to expect. Unlike that feeling when you, as a guest, step into a new land or new attraction with the anticipation and expectation that comes with it. These types of feelings are perhaps some of the most special for a fan of an amusement park (any amusement park, this particular feeling is not exclusive to Disney Parks).

La Place de Remy at Disneyland Paris

When can we expect a new attraction in Disneyland Paris, and what would it be?

Usually for a new attraction construction would begin at least two years in advance, so even if construction started tomorrow we would be looking at 2019. It’s unlikely that Disneyland Paris would be able to green-light the necessary funds for a while and this is OK. We’ve had a large scale project to update many of the classic Disneyland Paris attractions which is very admirable and vital for the future success of our Parisian resort. However, a growth will be needed in the coming years; it is perhaps unrealistic to expect this to happen prior to the 30th anniversary. It’s most realistic to expect this expansion to be Marvel-focused but many successful Disney properties would also be ideal such as Frozen.

Disneyland Paris is going through a period of transformation and it is unlikely that this new attraction would be arriving in the near future. Whilst this is disheartening to many fans – myself included – growth will be expected in the future and when that does happen we can start clammering over construction photographs and imagineering concept arts and blueprints once again.

Retheme or Expansion: A careful balancing act

Retheme or Expansion: A careful balancing act

With the opening of Star Tours: L’aventure continue and Hyperspace Mountain, Disneyland Paris has rethemed and repurposed two successful and popular attractions. Fans are divided on whether or not this is a good or bad thing. For some, any new experience is an occasion to be celebrated; others dislike how classic experiences are modified from their original design and that preference should be given to expansion.

Rethemes are not inherently bad

For many retheme=bad. But this is not always the case. Take the recent re-opening of Space Mountain with a Star Wars overlay which has opened to fan approval. There are other rethemes that have fans more sceptical such as the one that has recently taken place at Disneyland in Anaheim where the Tower of Terror has become Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. It’s difficult to take an emblematic attraction and change it. Space Mountain is one of those attractions that is beautiful on the outside and inside but was difficult to market. Hyperspace Mountain is still beautiful from the outside but has an intense marketability. 

If the idea is good, the retheme will also be good. The worry is purely on whether the retheme is purely for marketing reasons or if there is an plausible reason to change the story.

Why not expand?

The more complicated question is answer is why not expand? Expansion is quite simply expensive. In 2014, Disneyland Paris inaugurated Ratatouille: L’Aventure totalement toquée de Rémy which included the attraction, shop, restaurant and mini-land costing €200 million. Additionally there is a recruitment of new cast members to cover the cost of a new attraction and increased maintenance costs. This should not stop development but it does go someway to explaining as to why new attractions don’t come daily or yearly. Ideally new attractions bring an increased number of visitors to the resort and higher revenues; however this was not the case in Disneyland Paris for the Ratatouille development. Rethemed attractions are not only cheaper but allow marketing for new experiences based on popular franchises. Hardcore Disney fans may object to a franchise being shoe-horned into the park, but the average visitor simply doesn’t care – they want to see a film and characters represented.

But retheme and expansion can work harmoniously

The two are not mutually exclusive. It’s not as if you can have one but not the other. In fact an expansion could work best when involving a retheme. For example, the previously referenced retheme in Disneyland with Guardians of the Galaxy involves a bigger plan, the plan for a Marvel superheroes land. One can assume that this will involve expansion. Thus an attraction has been used with the vision of becoming the gateway to something bigger. Something very similar could be happening at Disneyland Paris with the closure of Cinémagique; rumours are spreading that this theatre will become a Marvel-based stunt show. It is very possible that the Walt Disney Studios park will have a Marvel themed area and why not some of this being an expansion? It’s not entirely inconceivable after all.

Would this be a good solution to the loss of a beloved attraction? Potentially.

Are Disney prioritising retheme over expansion and new attractions?

Quite simply, no. Whilst the retheme of attractions seems to be recently prevalent it is certainly not new. The most known example in Disneyland Paris is the change from Space Mountain: de la terre à la lune to Space Mountain: Mission 2, but other things have been rethemed or renamed. Hakuna Matata and Agrabah Café have all been given new names over the past years at Disneyland Paris. Even looking at the trends in Disney parks across the world, expansion is still taking place. In Paris we have very recently had La place de Rémy, in Florida the expansions of Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land are underway and in Anaheim Star Wars Land is also underway. The Asian resorts are also seeing extensive expansions from the major projects in Hong Kong and Tokyo to smaller projects in Shanghai.

Paris is simply following an international trend and it’s OK. Whilst we all want to see the Walt Disney Studios park expand, sometimes the price for a new attraction is a retheme, and that is not necessarily bad. Providing story exists and make sense a retheme can be just as good as an expansion.

Retheme or Expansion: A careful balancing act

With the opening of Star Tours: L’aventure continue and Hyperspace Mountain, Disneyland Paris has rethemed and repurposed two successful and popular attractions. Fans are divided on whether or not this is a good or bad thing. For some, any new experience is an occasion to be celebrated; others dislike how classic experiences are modified from their original design and that preference should be given to expansion.

Rethemes are not inherently bad

For many retheme=bad. But this is not always the case. Take the recent re-opening of Space Mountain with a Star Wars overlay which has opened to fan approval. There are other rethemes that have fans more sceptical such as the one that has recently taken place at Disneyland in Anaheim where the Tower of Terror has become Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. It’s difficult to take an emblematic attraction and change it. Space Mountain is one of those attractions that is beautiful on the outside and inside but was difficult to market. Hyperspace Mountain is still beautiful from the outside but has an intense marketability.

If the idea is good, the retheme will also be good. The worry is purely on whether the retheme is purely for marketing reasons or if there is an plausible reason to change the story.

Why not expand?

The more complicated question is answer is why not expand? Expansion is quite simply expensive. In 2014, Disneyland Paris inaugurated Ratatouille: L’Aventure totalement toquée de Rémy which included the attraction, shop, restaurant and mini-land costing €200 million. Additionally there is a recruitment of new cast members to cover the cost of a new attraction and increased maintenance costs. This should not stop development but it does go someway to explaining as to why new attractions don’t come daily or yearly. Ideally new attractions bring an increased number of visitors to the resort and higher revenues; however this was not the case in Disneyland Paris for the Ratatouille development. Rethemed attractions are not only cheaper but allow marketing for new experiences based on popular franchises. Hardcore Disney fans may object to a franchise being shoe-horned into the park, but the average visitor simply doesn’t care – they want to see a film and characters represented.

But retheme and expansion can work harmoniously

The two are not mutually exclusive. It’s not as if you can have one but not the other. In fact an expansion could work best when involving a retheme. For example, the previously referenced retheme in Disneyland with Guardians of the Galaxy involves a bigger plan, the plan for a Marvel superheroes land. One can assume that this will involve expansion. Thus an attraction has been used with the vision of becoming the gateway to something bigger. Something very similar could be happening at Disneyland Paris with the closure of Cinémagique; rumours are spreading that this theatre will become a Marvel-based stunt show. It is very possible that the Walt Disney Studios park will have a Marvel themed area and why not some of this being an expansion? It’s not entirely inconceivable after all.

Would this be a good solution to the loss of a beloved attraction? Potentially.

Are Disney prioritising retheme over expansion and new attractions?

Quite simply, no. Whilst the retheme of attractions seems to be recently prevalent it is certainly not new. The most known example in Disneyland Paris is the change from Space Mountain: de la terre à la lune to Space Mountain: Mission 2, but other things have been rethemed or renamed. Hakuna Matata and Agrabah Café have all been given new names over the past years at Disneyland Paris. Even looking at the trends in Disney parks across the world, expansion is still taking place. In Paris we have very recently had La place de Rémy, in Florida the expansions of Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land are underway and in Anaheim Star Wars Land is also underway. The Asian resorts are also seeing extensive expansions from the major projects in Hong Kong and Tokyo to smaller projects in Shanghai.

Paris is simply following an international trend and it’s OK. Whilst we all want to see the Walt Disney Studios park expand, sometimes the price for a new attraction is a retheme, and that is not necessarily bad. Providing story exists and make sense a retheme can be just as good as an expansion.

15 years of Walt Disney Studios – A happy future to come?

Front Lot in Summer

On March 16th 2017, the Walt Disney Studios Park will turn 15 years old. The park opened in 2002 with much fanfare and hype after having being planned even before the opening of Disneyland Park. The reality, however, was a barebones park with very little in the way of attractions and a very basic opening roster. Today we may associate the park with the overpowering images of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, but its easy to forget that this attraction did not actually exist in 2002. In fact, when exiting Studio 1 you were immediately faced with Studio Tram Tour and very little else. But is the park actually any good?

Front Lot in Summer

The Walt Disney Studios Park is not bad

The overarching consensus online is that the Walt Disney Studios park is not a good experience. And whilst yes the park is littered with problems (and more than any Disney park ever should have), it is not a terrible way to spend part of your day. Is it as good at Disneyland Park? No, not even close but considerable work has gone into the park over the past 15 years in an attempt to fix the mistakes of the past. The first big expansion came in 2007 when Toon Studios opened featuring Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye as well as a small photo location. A year later in 2008 the Tower of Terror was officially inaugurated and with it a Hollywood style street area around it. 2010 saw Toy Story Playland and 2014 was the year that Ratatouille and La Place de Rémy arrived.

La Place de Rémy

There are quality attractions in the park, there are also some very fun shows and now a fantastic place to have a meal. For pure thrill seekers, Walt Disney Studios is probably even the preferred park. When it comes to theme, there is work to be done. Front Lot is such a positive and inspirational opening to a park, it is a genuinely pleasant place to visit. The issues come after that. The park is very much designed with minimal greenery making it reasonably easy to maintain but gives a less than ideal aesthetic value.

Nobody should discount the experience that Walt Disney Studios offers, should it not be there it is likely that it would be missed.

So what’s wrong?

The park was opened with a vision of going behind the scenes in a working film studio; the problem there was that film studios aren’t designed to be attractive places. That’s fine for a film studio, less fine for an amusement park. Disneyland Paris have done their absolute best to fix this by creating new experiences in themed mini-lands.

Backlot - Walt Disney Studios Park

This has lead to a new issue. The park is now littered with good experiences but has moved further and further away from the working studio theme  and has become a patchwork of theme. The good news, however, is that this is very fixable.

The next 15 years…

The future is bright for this second gate in Paris. The patchwork of theme could work if executed correctly. It will take a lot of creative direction from Walt Disney Imagineering, a lot of investment and some new experiences. The future of the Walt Disney Studios park should be important to every Disneyland Paris fan. A failing second gate will negatively affect the resort and bring the experience globally down. Disneyland Paris have never allowed Walt Disney Studios to get that bad, in fact they actively try to fix the errors of the past.

Hollywood Tower Hotel - Walt Disney Studios, Paris

The next 15 years of the park will see further investment and potentially a big increase in investment to bring the park up to the Disney standard. It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride, but that can only be a good thing!

Season of the Force is the Season Disneyland Paris was looking for

Problem. Once the Christmas season has reached its conclusion, the weather in Marne-la-Vallée turns cold. Very cold. Most theme parks in this part of Europe close for the Winter period, but not Disneyland Paris. It is a year round operation, but they don’t need to close – a lot of Disneyland Paris is indoors. But the resort does suffer during this part of the year, crowds are lower and prices are also lower. And suddenly, along comes a new season with the aim of changing all that: Season of the Force.

What is Season of the Force?

The Season of the Force will take place in Disneyland Paris between 14th January until 26th March 2017, the season will include shows and events relating to the Star Wars saga at the Walt Disney Studios Park.

Shows will attempt to pull guests towards either the Dark side or the Light; the first order will march through the Walt Disney Studios Park with a special appearance from Captain Phasma; there will be meet and greets and Stormtrooper Patrols across Production Courtyard as they hunt out the rebel spies. All this accumulates in the finale of the day during this season, a special Star Wars projection show on the Tower of Terror – but this is no simple projection show, it’ll also feature live characters in the park.

Season-of-the-force-DisneylandParis
X-Wing Visual from Star Wars: Season of the Force at Disneyland Paris

The Walt Disney Studios Park as focus

The Walt Disney Studios park occupies an odd place at Disneyland Paris. On one side of things, it is a park that is loved by the management. If Disneyland Paris is getting something new, it’s likely to be at the Walt Disney Studios Park. Take a moment to think about it: Tower of Terror, Crush’s Coaster, Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, Ratatouille, Toy Story Playland and most recently, Mickey and the Magician.

However, what is unique about Season of the Force is that a season has taken the Walt Disney Studios Park as its focus – this is something new. Seasonal celebrations have tended to shy away from the younger park. Christmas has managed to seep into the Studios in the form of a few lights, a modified entrance loop and, in the past, a special parade soundtrack. But this is new, the Walt Disney Studios Park is being given the opportunity to shine in their own right.
Darth-Vader-Season-of-the-force-DisneylandParis

A long critique of the second gate in Paris is that it simply is not a ‘full-day’ park. Providing Mickey and the Magician is extended, this winter could very easily be a season where one could enter the park at 10am and not leave until closing time of 6 or 7pm. The most notable reason for this is the Star Wars projection show on the Tower of Terror.

Star Wars at Disneyland Paris – A brief history

Star Wars has quite the history at Disneyland Paris, and the Season of the Force is not the first, nor will it be the last, time that the popular intergalactic saga will be a major part of a Disneyland Paris trip. Star Tours is one of the staple attractions in Disneyland Paris and will, in March, see an upgrade to Star Tours 2: The Adventures Continue. Since July 2015 young Jedi have been able to train alongside Jedi masters in order to defeat Darth Vader in the Jedi Training Academy.

Disneyland Paris also experimented last year, upon the release of The Force Awakens, with a Star Wars Night. The event was a moderate success and seems to have served a wider purpose, that being preparing for the eventual Star Wars season. The Star Wars season has been a long time coming, variants have taken place for a long period in the American resorts varying from seasons to the ever-popular Star Wars Weekends.

Amazing timing. Or terrible timing?

There is a real buzz around the Star Wars saga at the moment. Disneyland Paris have been terrible in handling this recently, for example closing Star Tours immediately following the major success of The Force Awakens, an event that should have been planned years in advance. In fact, the opening of Star Tours 2: The Adventures Continue will be directly as the Season of the Force concludes in Disneyland Paris. Could this Star Wars offering be run simultaneously with the 25th Anniversary in Disneyland Park? This addition also misses the Rogue One buzz – however it could also ride the tails of its success. Hopefully Disneyland Paris place an advert for this new season before the film this Christmas.

StarToursCloseUP

However, having said all this, Disneyland Paris are inviting a new audience to visit the park as a real Star Wars destination in a period that is usually ignored by travelling tourists. This season will be measured on how well it manages to bring in crowds in a season that traditionally is less visited. In this sense, it can only succeed.

A wonderful addition

It’s about time that Disneyland Paris got its own Star Wars additions in the line up. The fact that there is very little in the parks already that celebrates this film is almost crazy. The return of Star Tours will be a wonderful day. This season acts as a filler in the Disneyland Paris calendar, and it is hard to think of a stronger filler. This will attract new fans, new guests and create a real buzz around a Walt Disney Studios Park that has become a day-long affair.

As somebody who likes Star Wars, I cannot wait to experience this season in the Winter. It’s time to brush out the hat, gloves and scarf and embrace a new season in Disneyland Paris!