You remember last year when the What’s New, What’s Next fan event was held in Disneyland Paris, and we got news about the huge refurbishment projects and the launch of Art of Disney on Demand? Well just today there was a shareholder’s meeting in Disneyland Paris, hosted by Mark Stead, the Chief Financial Officer of the resort and there were some interesting bits of news that came out of it. So much so, that I decided to label it What’s new, What’s Next…August 2014.
Free Wi-Fi in the Parks and RFID Passes
After the introduction of free Wi-Fi in the hotels and Disney Village, it was only a matter of time and logistics before it would come to the Parks. It seems it could come as early as next year – though that could be as soon as January, or 11 months later in December. The RFID passes could take the form of MagicBands as used over in Walt Disney World, and would enable ticketless park entry, keyless room entry, FastPass booking, PhotoPass+ and even charging for food and merchandise to your account.
That’s just the start, with Wi-Fi across the parks, people could receive notifications about pre-selected preferences, like when a showing of Disney Junior Live On Stage is to start in their language, or when a closed ride is open again. Like most things though, there could be negative connotations, in that it will encourage people to use their phones more. I hate to sound like an old fuddy duddy, but the thought of people wondering around the parks looking at their phones, in a state of ignorant zombification, is horrifying. That’s not just Disneyland Paris though, it’s happening everywhere and more often than not you can’t walk through a town without being bumped into by someone playing with their phone and not looking where they are going. It would just seem worse in Disneyland Paris, where we go to escape normal life.
I think if I were in charge of the roll-out I’d make sure the insides of rides were Wi-Fi blackout zones. Imagine being in the atmospheric queuing area of Pirates of the Caribbean, and have the dim lighting punctured with the glow of mobile phones, and the carefully crafted sounds constantly interrupted by countless alerts and notifications. I can’t even bring myself to talk about the possibility of people posting selfies to Twitter and Facebook all over the place. I’m no technophobe, in fact I’ve been an early adopter for years, but there’s a time and a place, and for me inside Disneyland Paris is not the place for excessive mobile phone use. As for iPads – confiscate them on entry.
Still, used responsibly, it can be a very good thing and will enable Disneyland Paris to bring lots of improvements to the Parks. Plus there is a new website promised, coming next month apparently. Though from chatting to Cast Members on Twitter, that could just be a roll out of the English re-design to other territories. The new RFID passes will somehow hook up to the new website and also a new app, so attraction notifications could actually happen.
Hotel New York Refurbishment
So after the Newport Bay Club improvements are completed it will be a 4* hotel, up from 3*. Next on the schedule for refurbishments will be Hotel New York, which will also get an upgrade from 4* to 4*+. This will come at a cost, and not just financially, as the hotel is to close for a whole year while they do what they have to do to make it a 4*+ hotel. Maybe after the bad press they got from people staying at Newport bay Club while the refurbishments were ongoing they thought it best to completely close Hotel New York while the work is being done. It definitely needs some attention – while the theming is decent, it certainly feels like a hotel that’s had 20 odd years of use.
I’d also like to see some subtle Disney touches, being as it is a hotel in a Disney theme park. It doesn’t have to be anything too in your face, but what they are doing over at Newport Bay Club is nice, and Hotel Santa Fe has seen massive improvements. Hotel New York wouldn’t suit the kind of Cars additions that Santa Fe has, but maybe something that fits the style of the hotel, like classic black and white animation cells and sketches.
Expansion of Disney Village and Walt Disney Studios Park
With the recent appointment of Tom Wolber, the news that an expansion of Disney Village is on the cards is perfect after what he did to revitalise Downtown Disney in the States. Let’s be honest, if there are two areas that need a lot of attention it is Walt Studios and Disney Village. La Place de Remy is a great start, but it does make most of the rest of Studios now look even worse. Same could be said for World of Disney and Disney Village. I’ve been saying for years how I want Disney Village to have more variety in food and entertainment, especially after the parks have closed.
I notice the word expansion is used rather than improvement, which unless it has been lost in translation means we will be seeing more than just changing existing attractions and buildings. It’ll be interesting to see in what direction the Village expansion goes – round the back of World of Disney Store, or maybe towards the gates at one end and snaking around the lake at the other. Be great if they get rid of McDonalds in the process – nothing takes you out of the escapism like Ronald McDonald and his merry band of awful tasting foods.
Apparently Euro Disney SCA is working with The Walt Disney Company to finance these expansions, so they should be quite significant and not just band aid cover up quick fixes. Could we even see something of the scale of the Disney California Adventure improvements?
Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary
Just as I started to write this article, @DisneylandBerry tweeted the following:
The 25th Anniversary will be even more spectacular than the 20th” Joe Schott (ex-Chief Operating Officer of Disneyland Paris)
We’ve been hearing rumours about a new parade for the 25th Anniversary for some time, which will be a big step up from Disney Magic on Parade, which wasn’t that different to the previous Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade and some people have even said isn’t as good. Disneyland Paris have been doing wonders with their Cavalcades, so I have high hopes that a new parade will live up to some high expectations.
But what else will they do to surpass the 20th Anniversary celebrations? The big thing we got in 2012 was Disney Dreams!, and I don’t see that being replaced any time soon. They can add new scenes, but that won’t have anywhere near the same impact as when the show was introduced for the first time. They also did a great job of celebrating the actual day of the 20th Anniversary inside Disneyland Paris, so again, how do they go about doing something even better?
I know they have been planning the 25th Anniversary celebrations for some time already, and with almost 3 years still to go, they have plenty of time to pull something out of the bag and wow us. With everything else going on in between, it looks like an exciting and intriguing few years for us fans of Disneyland Paris.