As I write this, the petition to save Disneyland Paris has 2,757 signatures of the 5,000 required before it will be sent to The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger. You can read the whole letter to Iger over at Change.org, but to summarise, Disneyland Paris is stated as dropping in quality so much that it does indeed need saving, and bringing this to the attention of The Walt Disney Company’s (TWDC) CEO is seen is the best course of action.
The four main areas of attention are highlighted as maintenance, budget cuts, food and the Walt Disney Studios Park.
The maintenance of the resorts has improved, though any argument for that is going to be countered with the nets that have recently gone up on some buildings which sources from within Disneyland Paris say is after a piece of roofing fell to the ground. The hotels are all being refurbished, and if Santa Fe is anything to go by then they are doing a good job with that. Discoveryland has for a few years looked very tired and unloved, but when I visited in May, Orbitron at least looked as if it had been cleaned and painted. One of the biggest problems seems to be the upkeep of the maintenance, which seems to slip back to old standards very quickly, and is then forgotten about.
The budget cuts is an issue that has seen a lot of press recently when it was revealed that TWDC was pulling all investment from Disneyland Paris for the foreseeable future and Ratatouille would be the last new ride for a while. Add this to the closure of all shows in Disneyland Park and it would seem that entertainment and new attractions would be a bit sparse going forward. Yes, I know Dreams! cost a lot, but is it worth it at the expense of so much else? At least we had the new Christmas Cavalcade last year and the promise of a Halloween version coming later this year – so it’s not all doom and gloom in that area.
As a family we’ve not eaten at any of the finer restaurants in quite a few years so I can’t comment on the quality of those, but I did notice a quality increase in places like Cafe Mickey and Planet Hollywood, so much so that they went from places to avoid to places we must eat at. On the flip side, Bella Notte used to be a must for us, but due to what I perceived as a change in pizza supplier to one of a lesser quality, we don’t go there any more. Casey’s Corner is no longer a must for us, which for anyone that knows me or has followed this website for the past few years, will recognise a sure sign that something has gone wrong. That said, the hot dog I had recently in Au Chalet de la Marionnette was delicious, and better than Casey’s ever did. I would like more variety though, especially in Disney Village, and longer opening hours for some restaurants would be very much appreciated.
Walt Disney Studios
As for Walt Disney Studios (WDS), while it does seem a bit cold and lack atmosphere, with Toon Studio, Stitch Live, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Playland and the upcoming Ratatouille, much of the resort’s recent development budget has gone to the second park. Though with attractions like the Backstage Studio Tram Tour being a shadow of their former self, and Armageddon being almost pointless since its inception, WDS is a park of two halves.
Yes there are a number of areas in which Disneyland Paris needs to address some serious problems, but with attendances up almost 2% from 2011 to 2012, the problems don’t seem to be keeping people from visiting Disneyland Paris. I think a lot of what is talked about in the letter is noticeable by those of us who have a deeper love of Disneyland Paris than the casual visitor, but there are far more of the latter, far far more. I can agree with a lot of what is said in the letter but on my recent trip, just 8 weeks ago, with my family I had the best visit so far of the 14 times I’ve visited Disneyland Paris. Would it have been improved by some cosmetic maintenance? Possibly. Does the lack of maintenance mean I won’t go back? No. Therein lies the problem – I’ve seen a lot of people sharing the link to this petition, but these same people then extol the virtues of the resort and talk of future trips. Unless these people show their concern by not actually going to Disneyland Paris, how can the problems ever be seen as a problem by those in charge?
To counter that, if the parks are not kept to a high standard then a sense of pride will disappear and in the long run attendances may drop. If there are no new attractions how will Disneyland Paris market the resort as a lively and dynamic holiday destination in years to come? Characters could be their intended way forward as we see more permanent character meet and greets, especially with the news of Jake and Sofia coming to Disneyland Paris. Maybe Disneyland Paris think meeting characters children see on television, along with eye catching visuals from an annually updated Dreams! show, is actually their best way of getting people to visit. They regularly do visitor surveys and maybe the majority of people like burger bars and meeting characters, rather than sit down shows and 3 course meals.
Is asking for Disneyland Paris to be saved by the CEO of The Walt Disney Company over-dramatising a few issues, or are we at the stage where if something is not done then Disneyland Paris will fall so far it won’t recover again? Maybe this letter should have been sent to Disneyland Paris president Philippe Gas first, before sending it all the way to the top. Then Disneyland Paris are not known for their great communication and letting fans know what is going on, so maybe going straight to Iger was the only way people thought they would be heard and possibly get acknowledged. Is it the right time for the petition, given that TWDC have only recently announced their investment plans – are they really likely to agree to ‘saving’ Disneyland Paris which would be an even bigger investment than may have been on the books with modest updates and additions.
I personally haven’t signed the petition. Yes I want to walk a Disneyland Paris that sparkles and shines like it used to. Yes I want more shows and new attractions and lots of quality food choices. I do however think this is all a little extreme, and I’m not sure that in 1 year Disneyland Paris has slipped so far down from being the amazing resort that people were proud to boast as hosting Dreams! to one that needs saving by the powers that be. Just because TWDC are not investing does not mean nothing will be happening in Disneyland Paris from this moment forward. It could also mean TWDC are going back to rethink a bigger plan for the future of Disneyland Paris and don’t want to spend any money until that is out into fruition down the line. I think we need to let the dust settle and see what happens with Halloween and Christmas, and how the resort positions itself once the 20th Anniversary Extended period is over. Let’s see how the launch of the Ratatouille ride goes and see how the guests react – remember that’s an attraction, sit down restaurant, shop and whole themed area that will add a lot to Walt Disney Studios. If nothing changes in the next 12-18 months then let’s revisit this, but for now let’s have a bit of faith. That’s what I’ll be doing, and maybe this time next time year you’ll all be saying I told you so, time will tell. Of course I’ll be fascinated to hear what Bob Iger has to say if he does reply – who wouldn’t?