Sunday, April 15, 2007

Thinking Inside the Box


Imagine, if you will, a Disney theme park with no centerpiece—no castle or geosphere, no ornate Chinese Theater or majestic Tree of Life. Imagine a Disney theme park with no Audio-Animatronics figures or full service restaurants or nighttime fireworks display. Impossible right?

Well, nothing’s impossible for the dream makers at Disney. Once again Walt Disney Imagineering has done what many thought impossible. They created a theme park less impressive than Disney’s California Adventure.

Walt Disney Studios Paris is basically a collection of soundstages grouped together with asphalt paths and some landscaping, everything coated in lovely shades of pale tan. It’s billed as a full-day Disney theme park but it opened with only 10 attractions, 3 quick service restaurants and 5 shops. That’s a worthwhile way to spend a day out of your expensive European vacation, n’est pas?

Okay maybe not, but it sounds like Disney saved a lot of money on the project, so at least the shareholders should be happy.

But they’re not.

On June 30, 2004 the Walt Disney Company agreed to a restructuring of Euro Disney SCA (the owner and operator of Disneyland Resort Paris) that would cost them hundreds of millions of Euros. The goal was to prevent Euro Disney SCA from defaulting on $2.9 billion of debt.

On June 9, 2004, Bloomberg Market News reported: “Euro Disney's debt problems stem at least in part from the Walt Disney Studios park, which it opened in March 2002. The park has failed to attract enough visitors to help Euro Disney meet its debt payments.”


The resort is no stranger to financial hardship. It opened in 1992 amid a recession and incurred harsh criticism from French intellectuals, the press dubbing it a “cultural Chernobyl”. Corporate management in Burbank reacted the way they always do; they found a scapegoat, fired him and then hired two guys to replace him.

In this instance they hired the right two people, Philippe Bourguignon and Steve Burke. The pair bridged the cultural gap by making concessions to the French including selling wine in the park (the French like wine, who knew?) and implementing an aggressive financial restructuring. When the dust settled, the strategy had worked. Disneyland Paris saw its first profit in 1995 and remained profitable for the next six years. In March of 2002, the Walt Disney Studios Park opened. In 2002 and 2003 the resort once again reported losses.

How does something like this happen? Disneyland Paris is one of the great ‘Cinderella’ stories of American business abroad. Just how could they screw it up twice?

Misidentifying the problem is a big problem.

In a universe defined by a spreadsheet, intangibles don’t exist. Cultural differences, taste, and emotional connections are absent. There is only investment and return. The management of the Walt Disney Company seems to have come to the conclusion that Disneyland Paris failed because too much money was invested in it. If they had built a smaller, less expensive park (see Hong Kong Disneyland) it would have yielded a better return on investment—theoretically. The Magic Kingdom at Disneyland Paris, for those not familiar, is easily the most ornate, beautifully themed, meticulously detailed kingdom of them all (there is even an Audio-Animatronics dragon living in a dungeon under the castle). This expensive theming, management decided, is the problem and refused to acknowledge other drawbacks that have nothing to do with the level of investment in the park itself.

For instance, the climate. Paris is not Orlando or Anaheim. Its latitude is farther north than that of Seattle, Washington or Augusta, Maine or even Toronto, Canada. Also, it’s in France. The French, need I point out, aren’t fond of having their culture Americanized. They’ve been very vocal on this issue for the past fifty years. Can’t imagine how the Disney executives missed it.


However, the biggest problem with the investment in Euro Disney was not due to climate or culture but was, in fact, financial. The pencil jockeys did get one thing right; the investment was too high. Just not necessarily in the theme park.

It was Disney’s investment of hundreds of millions in Michael Eisner’s newest hobby, architecture, that truly blew the bank. (Eisner, it seems, was entranced by the pastels and minimalist structural forms found in postmodern architecture. Whatever.) Michael was determined to use Disneyland Paris hotels as his foray into the world of “respectable” architecture. As a result, Disneyland Paris opened in 1992 with six hotels, all to support one park (Walt Disney World opened with two). The train ride from the park to Paris, a city with a few decent hotels of its own, takes less than thirty minutes. It seems those Harvard MBAs missed the class on supply and demand.

But the mistake could not have been their fault, they reasoned; it must be the fault of those annoying creative people. They spent too much building the park. So, the MBAs decided that they would not let the creatives make the same mistake twice. Many of the creative folks responsible for the original Paris park were slowly weeded out over time and were replaced by “more cooperative” creative executives--possibly the most serious result of the whole debacle.


Fast forward to the late 1990s when the clearly defined corporate strategy was for all Disney resorts world wide to become “destination resorts” like Walt Disney World. Destination resorts are marketed to out-of-town tourists who spend significantly more than locals on everything from theme park admission to jacket potatoes to ice-lollies (the Parisian equivalent of turkey legs and Dole Whip). Plans were set in motion to add “second gates” to Anaheim, Tokyo and Paris. An executive decision was made. Without regard to local conditions, a blanket statement set a series of events in motion that would reverse all the good work done in the mid-1990s.

The Walt Disney Company vowed that the “mistakes” of ’92 would not be repeated. They believed that a second gate would extend the average guest’s length-of-stay and help fill up Eisner’s aging hotel rooms. But since the second gate, built by that new breed of more cooperative Imagineers, was far from a full day experience, it did nothing of the kind. The second gate became a tremendous drain on the resort's bottom line.

Euro Disney SCA spent about $550 million on the park; whereas an E-ticket ride would have cost him less than $200 million and would have been a more cost-effective way to bring additional traffic to the resort (evidenced by the attendance boost the park received when it added Space Mountain in 1994).

They were caught up in the notion that “two parks are better than one.” Instead of looking at the simple fact that 15 million guests a year are better than 10 million guests a year, regardless of the number of parks. The first gate wasn’t filling to capacity. It could easily take on an additional four to five million people a year—the stated goal of Walt Disney Studios Paris.

The extra-park-extra-day trick only works if the new park is both enormously appealing and is perceived to be a full-day experience (as Epcot was in 1982). The experience of Disneyland Paris can be seen as a microcosm for the problem with the entire company; a company so obsessed with growth that it was ignoring the foundation that growth needs to be built on.

No where in the world is the descent of Imagineering more evident than at the Disneyland Resort Paris. The most spectacular and the most banal of theme parks sit side by side in pasture outside of Paris; a contrast so striking that it’s nearly impossible to imagine they were birthed by the same company.


Ultimately Disney Studios Paris stands as a sad testament to the folly of designing from a spreadsheet.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

I live in Europe and theme parks are (contrary to the perception of all Europeans as art gallery snobs) VERY popular. People also like American stuff (check out the top TV shows, music, and motorcycles in any European country... harldy rabid anti-Americanism). The difference is that the theme park as a destination never caught on here and I think it's unlikely that it will. Locally owned, non-corporate resorts and hotels are genearally preferred by most Europeans (in my experience). I think with some understanding of this (making EuroDisney/DLP PART of a European vacation, not a complete vacation destination), the place could have been an unqualified success. This article hits that point precisely. Excellent work here, per usual.

Henrique Delfina said...

This "Thinking Outside the Box" article has 150 lines of true facts (unfortunately). And it is clear to everyone that Walt Disney Studios was a mistake in Disneyland Resort Paris development.

The point that you didn't focused (and that I think it's as important as saying how bad this project was/is) was "what to do when a mistake is made (in terms of theme park construction, theming, etc.)?"

It's easy to build a bad theme park (unfortunately). It's easy but is wrong... The thing is... What can a company like Euro Disney SCA. do to fix a bad project (and park)?

Please be sure that i share your oppinion that Walt Disney Studios is not worth the name and brand of a Disney Theme Park. It's a scar in our beloved resort... But as a shareholder and as a theme park lover, I also think that the current projects that are being carried in Walt Disney Studios (and that include 3 brand new atractions, a general re-arragment of the whole Studios area, new green areas, new photo locations and even a new ground) are a small part of the long and correct way to this park "redemption".

(For more details on DisneyLand Paris: http://www.dlrp.fr/index.php and http://www.dlrpmagic.com/)
(Sorry my bad English...)

CatMoran said...

I've always wondered why France was chosen, given that it's the European country voted least likely to be in favor of Americanization.

Does anyone have any insight into that decision?

Anonymous said...

Amazing post, as always.

I was in Paris for the first time two years and ago and made the obligatory journey to DLP, and after a very chilly day I still walked away from the experience with my jaw hanging open. The level of detail was amazing, the park is quite possibly the most fully realized theme park anywhere on the planet.

We skipped the studios for obvious reasons.

I had money to burn and was prepared to give Mickey all my hard-earned Euros, but I had read too many negative trip reports, and seen the dperessing pictures to pay the admission.

See, Disney? Your customers are watching....and wanting to part with their money if you follow the tenants Walt so thoughtfully laid out years ago.

Foy said...

You have made some very good points in this last entry.

Why is it that when they make something with quality, such as six good hotels, they make them in the wrong spot?!? Instead of making all of them in Paris, why didn't they add one to each of the other resorts? With Walt Disney World's continuous increase of their flow of guests (to my knowledge), it could use another quality resort.

Or at least a quality looking resort that doesn't cost a mint to spend the night. The "value" resorts, while great compared to a Best Western, or something comparable, could use some foreign theming. Instead of making a cookie cutter hotel, and adding dis, dat, and da other thing about music or the movies- make an oriental themed Hotel, or an Italian themed one. Just please don't get stuck on the "cost to make reflects cost of entry" idea.

Anonymous said...

Really interesting article. Shows how corporate culture's focus on bottom lines can ruin investment.

One thing though, then and than - learn the difference.

Sam said...

I have to say that I was utterly shocked at how weak the Studios Paris is and it blows my mind that Disney OKed a 3 hour theme park (and that's stretching it).

How hard is it to see the power of adding an Epcot or a Tokyo Disney Seas as a second gate versus a lackluster California Adventure or utterly terrible Studios Paris? It boggles my non-MBA mind...

Brian said...

Do you think that the new theming changes coming to the studios in Paris will be a help?

un mec bien said...

Thanks to wrote an paper about that desperate case.
I'm living in Brussels, Belgium, so not so far from Paris.
One thing you have to know to understand the hole problem: the building of a second park based on cinema and show business 10 years after the first one was writed on the initial convention Disney signed with the french government.
So they have to build it. But I think that you can become more creative with a limited budget.
If you have just a little bit immagination...

Sorry for my crappy english.

Anonymous said...

Disney should have never built in France they should have built in Spain. Better weather and cheaper labor rates.
I think the big problem with Eisner was he looked at it as if everybody had money to spend. Nobody looked at it as a place for a family could go for a day and not spend all of their hard earned.
It seems like all they are doing now is building hotels and they probably look at it like, "We get $65 for a day at the park, but we get $265 for a night at the hotel!" BUILD MORE HOTEL$!!!

Michiel said...

Great article, good to see that not every American Disney-fan only looks at DCA when they want an example for the decline at Imagineering. But what I'm wondering: will Paris have to solve the problem alone, or will the Disney Company finally do something about the high license-costs, or the billions of debt the European resort has?

More importantly: is John Lasseter looking into the problems at the California parks, or will WDS be somewhere on his list as well?

Stephen said...

As an native Angeleno and regular at Anaheim Disneyland and now a long-time resident of Tokyo, I always felt Tokyo Disneyland really outdid Anaheim, partly because of the excellent staff. But the "second gate" of DisneySea is truly one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The detail in the imagineering and construction is amazing. To take just one thing: the fake rock is incredible, all over the park. I consider the whole park as one big walk-through attraction. I don't need the rides.

sdav10495 said...

Anybody else reminded of the "Euro Itchy & Scratchy Land" snippet on the Simpsons? A not so subtle jab at Disney's Parisian foray...

The park is utterly empty and a French CM shouts, "Hello? Itchy & Scratchy Land, open for business! Who are you to resist it, huh? Come on, my last paycheck bounced! My children need wine!"

Anyway, a very good entry indeed, as usual (I wish they would come more often!). I knew the park was a failure, but had never read such a concise and, as others say, apparently accurate analysis.

Mark said...

I would have thought that incoroprating the value of non-tangible creative aspects should be a fundamental in all WDI business plans. The board of a bank wouldn't expect to have such a high value put on the aesthetics of a branch refit - it's important but not the absolute. In a theme park, making sure guests are happy should be a primary goal. Still gotta make money, but happy guests spend more. That should be fundamental knowledge to the MBAs - maybe they just haven't figured out how to quantify it reasonably.

The Paris Studios park did feel very "flat" (last went a couple of years ago). I even felt like the participants in the parade just didn't have the spark and passion of other parks.

The problem with Paris is the weather. Summer is just too busy and the queues are way too long. If you you go off season and your caught in the rain you're cold & wet and it's a long walk back to most of the hotels with no shelter on the way (or another long queue for the bus). Even walking to the car park seems like miles. At least there is a longer season in Florida, and if you get wet, you dry off pretty quickly.

I think WDI need to take up the challenge of designing for the weather. More covered walkways or tunnels, maybe an underground tram with windows onto basement attractions in the entertainment village to encourage guests to stop on the way. Maybe even a "Grand Central Station" in the heart of the village where you have to get off, walk through a section then on to the hotel tram. I'm sure it could be done in a slick way so it doesn't seem so forced, just another benefit of staying on site. Spreadsheet value - leveling out the attendance, increasing revenues in the low season, a new attraction, surely that's got to be worth it.

pragmaticidealist said...

Excellent case study....

Just think Jay Rasulo helped put EuroDisney into this position, and, now, he's running the entire Parks & Resorts portfolio.

Tongaroa said...

catmoran asked why France was chosen.

Once again I need to point at Eisner. He says in his autobiography, A Work in Progress, that he chose the location because he wanted to be near the cultural center of the world and goes on to say that he knows New Yorkers go out in bad weather, why should Parisians be any different? (Of course this logic ignores the fact that the park would need to attract people from all over Europe to be successful).

He also mentions that Disney veterans Dick Nunis and Jim Cora were recommending two other sites in Spain, but Eisner overruled them. He also points to the the cheap land from the French government as a deciding factor.

To anonymous, thanks for pointing out my than-v-then problem. It has been fixed. Poor proofreading on my part...sorry.

To Brian. No I don’t think the new additions will help the financial problems, but they will make visiting the park a little more pleasant. But, a few new attractions will not create a demand that does not exist.

To michiel, I sure hope John Lasseter will be looking at WDS. Hopefully this blog will encourage him to.

To henrique delfina, a lot can be done to fix the park, but I can’t get into it here. But it will take some real out-of-the-box thinking. New attractions wont do it by themselves. Only something truly unique and worth the admission price will do it.

StrangeVoices said...

Outside of Paris is not, at least on the surface, a particularly bad location. It is within a day's reach of a huge amount of people, which can provide great revenue during non-holiday times. But it also is centrally located to all of Europe, and in a relatively calm, political wise, country. And while yes, Paris is a major tourist attraction in and of itself, for many people in central Europe, they have already seen it and wouldn't necessarily think they HAD to see pris, having travelled so far.

But there were many issue they did not think about - it's actually cheaper to go to the US than to Paris for many travellers. The weather, while not necessarily more extreme than Tokyo, has many fewer days of clear sunny weather. And in this case, Disney really doesn't top many of the other attractions in the area, so it has a lot more competition.

In all, the park still needs to grow. Disney, being a primarilly stock-driven company now, only seems to think short term. IT takes a long time for a park to get up and running smoothly and efficiently. As they learn and fix things, it will improve.

Having said that, I wonder if the whole Studios concept really even works for that market? It seems to me that the technical aspects of the studio are far less interesting to then than the glamour and image of the Hollywood time period. I think that the real issue here is that the theme itself is off, and they need to fix that first.

teevtee said...

A couple points that I think need clarification here.

First of all, while I am in 100% agreement with the general points and tone of this article I am a bit tired of the point of view that WDI is somehow sliping. That the talent is no longer there to produce incredible park experiences. Let me point out that the same exact WDI with the same exact leadership and staff produced both Disney Studios Paris (a truly AWEFUL park) and Tokyo Dinsey Seas (A truly INCREDIBLE park) at exactly the same time.

It is NOT a matter of not having talent, it is all about allowing that talent to do what they do best and affording them decent budgets to do so. Tokyo Disney Sea was properly funded (By it's owner, the Orinetal land Company) while DSP was gutted from the start. The talent was and IS at WDI, that is not the problem, the leadership and game plan is the problem.

It honestly does boggle the mind how Disney could screw this up so badly. DLP has obviously been steeped in troubles and I agree 100% that it is the HOTELS that dragged this mess down from the get go. There is no one single problem but the hotels much more than most is what caused the initial failure of the park. To invest that kind of money into hotels that were uneeded was not only stupid but borderline pompous. Einser assumed Europeans would flock to his new resort without really knowing what was going on. He bet the farm and lost. Disney should have taken a more cautious approach by buildinga great park and a coupel of hotels, had they done that it would of been profitable from day one.

But they did get it back on track and as great as DLP is it does need more major attarctions. This would have been the perfect time to add them, a Splash Mountain, an Indiana Jones Adventure, perhpas even a re-themed Tower of Terror all could have gone into the exisiting park. But no, they built the single worst park they possibly could have. A park so devoid of charm, wonder or even plain fun that DCA seriously seems like a master stroke by comparison. Then they wonder why it failed?

Lastly, though this article did not touch on it too much you often see Hong Kong Disneyland lumped into the same pile as Disney Studios Paris and I must say it simply does not belong there. it is WAY too small with an almost shocking lack of attractions, and yet what is there is does very, very well. Teh setting is spectacular and there is all the land (and plans) they need to expand in a stunning way. You see with HKDL they took the meager budget and at least made smart choices. They allowed themselves a way to easily fulfill the parks enormous potential. It is a pleasent place to be even without a lot of rides. DSP on the other hand is virtually impossible to fix and is down right uncomfortable simply to spend time in... it is a total loss.

Henrique Delfina said...

I have to clarify two aspects here:
- It's NOT my belief that these improvements that are currently being made will defenitvely change the actual situation of WaltDisney Studios Park. The Park was a big mistake period (besides what "un mec bien" said and that I prevously forgot to mention). Building new atractions (as an isolated factor) will not solve the "Studios Problem" period.
- The thing is AFTER the mistake is done. What can we do to minimize the efects of this "half-a-park" in the resort? There's no advantage in saying the location was bad chosen, another location was better than this one, there are too many hotels, the weather is crap, etc. etc... Maybe this is all true. But what should you do if you're in charge of the resort NOW. You have to do something (besides blaming the ones who were there before you)! My answer is what (can we do)? What should a responsible manager do?

WaltDisney Studios needs answers... Not (more) questions.

/bsdb said...

I agree with teevtee's comments regarding Imagineering. DSP's problems stem from poor leadership and lack of financial backing, more than anything else. Case in point: Tom Morris and Tim Delaney worked as project managers on DLP, the most beautiful of the magic kingdom parks, hands down. And they also worked on HKDL, which is gorgeous albeit light on attractions.

The difference is obvious: lack of funding to create a full-day park. It's usually not the creatives' fault. HKDL received roughly twice the financial backing that DSP was allocated. Is it any wonder that the latter is more akin to a shopping mall than a theme park?

And un mec bien is also correct regarding Disney's deal with the French. They were contractually obligated to build that second gate or lose the land. Obviously, they could have stepped up to the plate and built an updated Disney/MGM from Florida, instead of a cheap knockoff. Clearly the sentiment had changed since DLP opened in 1992 regarding capital investment in the parks. And now, the resort visitors are the ones taking it in the shorts for the fiscal paranoia.

Adding Toon Studios will not fundamentally "fix" this park. It should be seriously reinvented from the ground up.

Anonymous said...

Disney lacks creative leadership. Where are the big visions? Who actually wants to create a legacy anymore? We are now stuck with endless surveys and cheap fixes while CEOs watch the stock price, living from shareholder meeting to shareholder meeting.

There are signs of a turn around with Nemo at Disneyland and rumored additions for DCA and HKD. Only time will tell, but I would like to see some firings of the visionless suits warming chairs in Disney.

teevtee said...

The problem here is that DSP is NOT a "half a park". This would imply that there was a nice park but just not enough to do for a full day. Examples of that may be the current state of Hong Kong Disneyland or Animal Kingdom circa 1998. These were and are both VERY well done parks, they simply fell short on attractions. Disney MGM was certainly half a park when it opened and both AK and HKDL far surpass Disney MGM circa 1990.

Disney Studios Paris is a totally different animal, it has nothing, and I mean that honestly, NOTHING of merit on pretty much any level. It is much more than simply not having enough attractions, it is that the very basic design and structure of the park are so poorly done that it simply is not a pleasent place to be.

Strolling around Hong Kong Disneyland is a wonderful experience, it is a striking setting and though it is limited on attractions the park like setting is very enjoyable. Animal Kingdom has always been a park in the true sense of the word. The park IS the attraction is part if it's appeal. Heck, even California Adventure has pockets of pretty areas and interesting themes. Disney Studios Paris just flat out has none of that. Even the few OK attractions are very bare bones in execution.

At Tokyo Disney Sea the theater that hosues Encore is a lavish, Braodway style afair. Ornate wood work, deeply padded velvet seats, painted murals on the ceilings and so forth, it just oozes quality. At DSP the building that houses Cinamagique is literally a corrigated steel pole barn. There is nothing elegant or timeless about it. It almost does not matter what show is in there because the actual theater is just an unpleasent place to be, and that sums up the entire park.

Disney parks are long known for cxreating detailed and "magical" environments. They put guests in a time and place. Disney Studios Paris has none of this, and is so poorly designed that even walking around the place is confusing and odd.

So how do you fix it? Well the pat answer would be to tear it down... obviously not a choice. But I do think it needs MASSIVE and I mean truly massive changes if it is to ever become a park worthy of it's heritage. It needs much more than the addition of some new attractions. It really needs a gut rehab so to speak. Almost to the point of shutting it down for a year or so and creating wholesale changes. First of all it needs to add some themed elements along the line of Sunset Blvd. at Disney MGM. Give it a sense of time and place. Then it needs to have some pretty elements added, like water. it is the only Disney park not to have ANY body of water in it. It needs a theme more than the cop out "working movie studio" it now has which is just an excuse to use unthemed buildings.

I am actually concerned that the additions they are making now are adding to the problem. After all, a poorly executed and placed version of Tower of Terror blows their one chance to add that attraction. Rather than creating an ominous and interesting themed street leading to the attractions (ala Disney MGM) they just dropped it in the middle of the park where it simply adds to the thematic issues and problems of the park.

It is a mess and there is no easy fix.

Alex said...

I worked for Disney back in 1991. I was an assistant to an executive who was overseeing the production of Disney branded TV shows in Latin America. I found Disney executives in Burbank to be quite ignorant and uninterested about the culture of each country. A lot of the problems we had developed from trying to make the execs in Burbank understand the customs of the countries that we were dealing with. Most of these executives were used to being able to get what they wanted just because they were Disney and they were used to getting their way.

Disney likes to maintain control of their products, even to the extent where they will dictate to the customer how they are to be used. Disney demanded that their cartoon shows be introduced by a couple of local actors. Disney wanted control over every single aspect of production of these end caps, from casting to set design and lighting. That would be fine if Disney had been footing the bill, but they were selling their cartoons to the TV stations and the Latin American executives did not appreciate being pushed around by Disney. While that worked on most South American countries, the TV station in Brazil was not so easily pushed around. That kind of arrogance is at the root of many of Disney's problems.

Nicholas F. said...

Wow, I never saw pictures of the park. Wow. I'm glad I read this before going to Europe. Thanks.

Adam said...

I've been reading this blog for quite some time now, and there's a question I've been itching to ask. Have the writers of this blog noticed that they are having an effect on WDI? And if so, have they noticed the effect to be positive (taking your advice) or negative (WDI management furious at the blog).

Anonymous said...

Everybody forgets the fact that Disney is renting/owning a lot of space around the parc where they build/have built offices, shops and other buildings. I think this property development will give Disney big big big money at the longterm.....

Anonymous said...

I completly agree. But how can they fix this? Imagineer would practically have to start over!

French guy said...

Disneyland Paris is a commercial success. 13 millions of people come each year on the resort. Disney Hotels are full (the average is higher than Paris's hotels). And everyone who visits the french Magic Kingdom is seduced. So France is not the problem. No other site could have been chosen. France is the number one tourist destination in the world, with 77 million of tourists. Paris is at the center of Europe, and have great infrastructures (highways, trains, airports...). And the climate is better than in Tokyo! So what?

The resorts made profits before the opening of Walt Disney Studios. The Disney Studios are just the worst park ever built, that's all. Everyone who comes to see the studios is disappointed. French, Europeans, americans...

And you know what? french Rock'n roller coaster cost more than the floridian one! But the floridian one is much more funny! It's a shame! Armageddon was conceived by the one who conceived Spiderman at Universal...

The Studios are the only problem of the resort. And we hope Tower of Terror, Toon Studios with Crush's Coaster, maybe Soarin' one day, Hollywood Blvd and place making all over the park will help to attract more people and fix the financial problem.

But you have to know than without royalties taken by The Walt Disney Company, the park would be in good health! Eventually, profits will come back around 2010 with the management actual strategy. Karl Holz did a great job... it was not the case of Jay Rasulo!

teevtee said...

yoovesmI am not so sure that Paris was the ONLY choice for the park. Teh fact is that a warm weather location in Spain may have been a better choice for many, many reasons. However I concede that the location is NOT the reason the park has had a long financial struggle.

It started out poorly by having far too much spent on largely (at the time) unneeded hotel rooms. It continued (and still does to this day ) with a lack of major attractions at Disneyland Paris and the latest near death blow of the ridiculous Disney Studios Paris puts a HUGE drag on it. So it is true, that even in a different location these issues would be the same assuming the same approach was taken.

But even Disneyland Paris is FAR from being without fault. It simply does not have enough major attractions as compared to other parks of it's age. This is of course because it was left in the cold after the slow start but it illustrates whatr a shame it is that DSP was built instead of having that money put into the existing park.

Several MAJOR E-Ticket rides could of been added with money to spare. The vast empty tracks of land in Fronterland could of become home to a Splash Mountain, a fully realized Toon Town could have been added (this time with Pixar influence), the lame Indy coaster could of had a rue Indiana Jones Andventure added next to it creating a mini Indy land and so forth. I would have loved to see Tower or Terror, re-themed of course, worked into the park as well, that would of been unique and exciting. Hell, even the addition of something like Pooh's Hunny Hunt (from Tokyo Disneyland) the single most impressive ride system I have ever seen on ANY attraction, would have created dramatic attendance increases. the list goes on and on. All of these are great attractions which the park needs. Disneyland Paris has not had a truely major attraction added since Space Mountain for God's sake... come on.

Instead they build a aprk so bad, so lacking of quality, theme, execution and scope that it will drag down the financial performance of the park for years to come and possibly be a mare on the face of the resort forever. At the very least they have added a HUGE problem to the already long list. It boggles the mind that this has been so mishandled, I only hope that they learn the lesson from this and do not repeat it again elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I've always heard that Eisner made the decision on France because of fond memories that he had of the place. The idiot.

Anonymous said...

I really want to clear things up because I believe that people are really missing the point.

First, Paris was the best location. No matter what people say about the weather, Spain was NOT a good alternative. It is too far from most European countries. To believe that the French (for example) would have gone to Spain to visit a theme Park is downright silly (the French represent 60 % of the customers, btw). Europe is not the US. People are not going to take a plane to go to a Park even if it is Disney. And you should add that Paris is also the number one tourist attraction in the World and that the road/rail system is one of the best in Europe.

Second, the price was way too much from the start. Europeans have more than 5 weeks of vacation over there and they make less than Americans. They are not going to spend all their money for three or four days spent in the magical world of Disney ! It is ridiculous. What about the other 4 weeks and a half ? So, when you add something you better make sure it is worth the money. A 3 hours park so overwhelmingly bad is NOT going to make people stay longer.

Third, when you invest money, you put some of yours into the project... Disney borrowed almost everything ! Of course, the financial charges are going to be HUGE for such a project ! And this is why Disney has problem there and this also why they made this horrible little toad. When you buy a house, you should put a bit of your own money into it. And plus, they are asking the Disney Resort Paris to pay the royalties for the usage of their characters... Funny, funny.

Fourth, the hotels are full. They are extremely popular no matter what. During the summer, you are forced to go somewhere else because they have no more space available in the hotel of your choice (I speak from experience). In fact, I would advise them to build another one.

Fifth and final point, when you build a studio, you need to have a REAL studio at hands and not a fake one ! A long time ago, they were planning to have a cartoon production unit there (Tarzan was partially done in France). The only thing left is the costume unit for the parks and a bunch of planes from the not-so-good Pearl Harbor. I remember to be blown away when I went to Disney-MGM Studio: you could see the artists working, you could see actual sets, you could see tons of props (of course, now all of this is almost all gone).

Of course, I could add so much more (like when Bourguignon realized that they did not build enough rides in the first Park to accommodate the 14 millions visitors they were projecting). It is so frustrating to see something managed so badly and even more so that lots of the problems could have been anticipated and resolved easily. Sadly, it is not even the fact that the “suits” only thought with balance sheets in their minds, it is the lack of competence that has put the resort in trouble.

Tongaroa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tongaroa said...

In response to the statements about the number of hotel rooms being suitable, I’d like to point out that when Euro Disney opened in 1992, entire hotels were closed down (and wings of others) due to lack of demand. The debt from creating these hotels has not been paid off after 15 years. It’s hard to argue that they were a good investment. Full rooms are not indicative that the hotels are successful if the original pricepoint is not being met. After all, over 5 million people a year visit DCA, but how many pay full price? Attendance means very little as a solitary figure.

With regard to France v. Spain. I’m still voting for the Mediterranean climate as the best place to create an outdoor entertainment experience. The argument that Paris draws more people than the Mediterranean and has better public transportation doesn't fly with me. I also think WDW is more successful in Orlando than it would have been in New York. Walt Disney World is a destination resort because it does not compete with a large city close by. I’m siding with the 80+ years of Disney experience brought to the table by Dick Nunis and Jim Cora over Eisner's superficial reasons for picking Paris. I just don’t think anyone can argue that Euro Disney was a financial success in 1992. Plus the fact that 60% of the guests at DLP are French is a sign of failure. Remember Disney was trying to create a destination resort that attracted people from all over Europe.


Arguing that people in Europe wont travel a significant distance to visit a Disney park or that Europeans don’t have enough disposable income does not support France over Span. It does suggest the park should not have been built at all...but that is another point all together.

One more thing. We do know that people within WDI and Corp Disney read the blog. No, we have not seen any direct results, but we are hopeful.

teevtee said...

Well Tongaroa just summed it up very well.

People on blogs and fan sites often lack any sense of perspective. They either have not been around long enough to understand the big picture or they use anictdotal evidence to support inaccurate points. The hotel situation at DLP is a perfect example. It does not matter that a visitor was turned away because the hotels were full, that is missing the large picture. In reality prices have been SLASHED to make the rooms cheap enough to actually attract guests and the hotels have dragged the resort into such long term debt that it is far too little too late. In fact arguing that the hotels were not one of the major reasons of the parks failure is just turning a blind eye to the facts, or simply not understanding the history of the resort to begin with.

Same goes with the Paris vs. Spain argument. I thnk compelling arguments can be made for both areas and I am not so sure that there is an absolute black and white correct answer to this question. However it is clear that Spain would have been superior on atleast some levels and saying that "Paris was best" is again not quite understanding all the factors at work here.

One thing that I think can be agreed on is that the resorts ongoing failure can be blamed on gross misunderstanding of what was needed time and time again. At almost every major turning poiunt the wrong decisions were made, and in spectacular fashion.

Jeff said...

Everyone whines and whines about how it's hands-down he worst Disney theme park ever built... and they may be right, but what makes hearing that so frustrating for me is that NOT everything is horrible! Much like what happened with DCA's opening, there are some amazing things at WDS that are being unfairly dragged into the gutter with everything else.

As such, I'm glad some of you who commented are Europeans or are at least Americans who have been to Paris yourselves... so hopefully you'll agree with me in some way or another.

Being a Disneyland Cast Member myself for over five years, I was SO excited to go to Paris a couple years ago. And I had a LOT of great things to say about my trip.

We walked into WDS rather unimpressed by the cement entry courtyard, but I thought Studio 1 was a GREAT way to reinvent a 'sheltered Main Street' without building another ugly rooftop like Tokyo Disneyland has.

It was once we walked through and found our way into WDS' central plaza... which isn't really a plaza, is it?

Most of the place simply looks ugly, and that was what was most disconcerting for me.

I absolutely LOVED the Animagique show, the Cinemagique film, and the Moteurs Action show... but the buildings themselves were atrocious and did no justice to the excellent things that were unfortunate enough to be housed inside such ugly walls. Where were the themed buildings?

Obviously studio soundstages aren't "pretty," but we don't have to know that! Aside from the tiny film-strip parade route, where was all the pretty pavement? Where was the random lagoon... or ANY water feature?

This is why I was SO glad to read about the Placemaking projects that are more or less taking over that park now -- because I really liked most of the WDS attractions (we didn't make it to Armageddon or the Tram Tour though) and entertainment...

...but everything OUTSIDE was horrible to look at and managed to shatter the great feelings I had just gotten from watching Animagique or Cinemagique or Moteurs, you know?

teevtee said...

Jeff:

I could see the people running DSP saying of your post "With friends like that who needs enemies!"

In your defense of the park you called it "ugly", said you were "unimpressed", mentioned that the exteriors were "horrible" and wondered where the themed elements such as buildings or water features were. This is not exactly a ringing edorsement. With proponetnts of the park saying stuff like that imagine what a critic might have to say!

You also need to understand that there is a big difference between discussing the park in an honest and realistic manner and "whinning". I don't think anyone is whinning here, rather we are being brutally honest. WDS is such a mess that even the most brain washed DIsney fan would have to aknowledge that there is MUCH more wrong with it than there is right... a LOT more.

I can appreciate your points though. For example DCA gets all sorts of negative press (most of it deserved) but it does have some truly nice spots, well themed areas and fun attractions. There is a ton wrong with the place but you see glimmers of hope. Those glimmers simply do not exist at DSP, a park so devoid of charm, wit or style that The Rain Forest Cafe puts it to shame (and that is a truly damning thought).

One point of your that I agree with 100% is that people who have not been there have no right to complain about it. Perhpas general comments can be made but unless someone has set foot in the park they have no right to really comment on wether it works or not. Alas I also noticed that you called the glass canopy over Main Street in TDL (a structure most people find quite striking) "ugly". Now I am assuming you have been to Tokyo Disneyland correct? Otherwise you are being hypocritical and are guilty of exactly what you are complaining about.

For the record I have been to every Disney park, in fact I have been to each of them on multiple occasions (except for Hong Kong which I have only made one visit to). I have spent multiple days in every park (including HK). I have seen every attractions currently running at each park (save for the autopia at HK which was not yet running while I visited). I have been in the stateside parks more than I can count and I have spent an accumulated several weeks each in most of the others. I also used to be a cast member a long time ago (80's) when I was younger. So at least you know that the opinions I state are based on my honest and personal experiences.

DSP has pretty much nothing of merit in my mind, the few things it does OK are destroyed by other mitigating factors. Cinemagique is a great example. The axtual filmed movie is done well enough, it is mildly entertaining, but the venue it is presented in is such a total mess, an uncomfortable, ugly mess in fact, that is destroys any positive experience one may have had. The parks offerings range from truly aweful to barely passable... with the high points being merely OK. You must realize (and prior to this park Disney always has known) that a good park experience is made up of a LOT more than the attractions themselves. It is about creating compelling settings and environments for each attraction to live in. They support each other. If you take away one you destroy the other. DSP has no environment to speak of other than gray concrete and beige paint and so any attraction held within it will suffer.

Since you missed them let me help you out. The tram tour is a simplified, shortened version of that found at Disney/MGM. It has one addition (that of a ridiculous bombed out London "set" tied in to the failed Dianey movie "Dragonfire") whch calls attention to istelf by it's absolute and complete awefulness. Armeggedon would feel much more at hom at Universal Studios than at Disney. It has no charm or warmth and even lacks any true bombastic thrill as well. It is in essence a dull and simplified version of the Universal attraction "BackDraft" only set on a space station set... not horrible but far from good.

I appreciate the idea of defending something from unfair attacks, but this park does not deserve being defended, it is just not good and has taken a struggling park and sunk it into an even deeper finacial hole.

Liek you I hope that the placemaking efforts help, but it is a real shame they put themselves in this position to begin with.

McNair said...

Visited Disneyland Paris (for the first time) just last year and loved the Magic Kingdom, was STUNNED by the Studio "Park." As a former Disney Imagineer (1985 - 91) the only hope was the big hole in France that was going to be Tower of Terror. I was lead on the project team that created what became the first "TOT". It began life as the "Mel Brooks Hollywood Horror Hotel" (full sroy on TowerOfTerro.org) It was to be the 1990s version of the Haunted Mansion with lots of fear-making using all the new technologies. We didn't get any of the scary floors full of weird and fun gags and effects, but I did get the right answer to "Can we drop an elevator filled with guests off the 13th floor." They're not doing that kind of dreaming any more at WDI--of as I like to call it "WED-WAS." Better stated, WED-AIN'T.

When they plopped the big Sorceror's Apprentice hat in front of the Chinese theatre in Florida, I started not caring. (Well, right after I went to Guest Services and complained in a very loud, so-the-whole-room-could-hear-me, voice. "Is this place still designed by Imagineers or did Wal-Mart buy the joint?" was my opening salvo. I talked to two managers and the "Officer of the Day" for Park operations. "What's the name of the Vice President of Not-Giving-a-Damn?" I asked. They gave me a woman's name. I wrote and said she got it half right. The Horrible Hat should have been in front (just outside) of the Main gate as a grand entrance and the last stop-and-shop when exiting. It would be a good way to direct guest to the night time disaster, "Fantasmic" ("The wet dream for the whole family." Where else do we find the suffix "asmic"?)

Appreciate what you folks are trying to do. If you go to Forest Lawn cemetery in LA you can see that they have had to re-position Walt's grave marker several times as he rolls father and farther down the hill.

As for thinking inside /outside the box. I lost track of my box years ago and now assist all sorts of corporate groups imagine and invent remarkable futures.

Onward & upward!

Mr Banks said...

McNair! It's nice to see I wasn't alone in my proactive disdain for the Sorcerer's Hat. The moment I saw it at the end of the boulevard, blocking the intricate Chinese Theater, I went ballistic, spending much of the day asking cast members who was responsible and how long that hideous hat was to remain there. The answers were only more infuriating; three years at least with no end in sight. I came close to registering an official complaint, but gave up. Infact, that was the day I believe I gave up on the whole Disney Theme Park enterprise.

That was years ago. And today- the hat, the wand, the out of touch executives are still there.

Thank you, anyway, McNair, for your vocal disapproval at the time. Every little bit helps...I hope.

teevtee said...

Oh, the hat even more so than the wand (but just barely) is the single worst addition to the parks the company has ever done. It is a CLEAR sign of losing tough but once again (and this is important) was a marketig driven move, not a creative one. No one at WDI said "I have a great idea. Lets destory the park with a big cheap hat!".

Lastly, before you give up totally on the creative power at WDI take a visit to Tokyo Disney Sea, it puts things back into perspective.

/bsdb said...

"Is this place still designed by Imagineers or did Wal-Mart buy the joint?"

*snort*hack*cough*

Consuming hot beverages while enjoying McNair's punditry should be cautioned against. But in a good way!


As for thinking inside /outside the box. I lost track of my box years ago and now assist all sorts of corporate groups imagine and invent remarkable futures.

I'm guessing that certain "corporate groups" in Burbank and Glendale aren't included. Sucks.

How sad to realize, McNair, that your past experience with the "imagination/engineering" process is now of value to corporations except the one which essentially invented it.

WED-WAS indeed.

Anonymous said...

One stockholder weighing in:

Spain is water over the damn; gutting DLP and starting over is unrealistic. Positive thinking is called for now. Incremental infusions of excellence could, over time, turn the tide.

A friend of mine who designed for Disney over a period of some 30 years described a Disney process which involved imaginatively standing at various points in a planned indoor or outdoor environment and visualizing exactly what would be seen in every direction. The object was to give serious design thought to every view and detail seen from every point in the project.

The resulting intricacy and excellence of detail became a Disney hallmark.

Some ride models can, of course, be constructed at shoulder height, so that the “track” or passage area can accommodate a human head, and thus an individual can walk under and through the model getting some sense of what the ultimate visual experience will be.

What isn’t excellent at DLP can be improved, and this kind of thinking can help.

Clearly, careful, creative, quality design costs money. Disney’s original theme park successes resulted from substantial up-front funding for detailed artistry and superb craftsmanship. Everything was “plussed.” No cheap short-cuts. It DOES take money to make money, and DLP was clearly built w/o sufficient funding.

But the “excessive” up-front funds spent on the great original E-Ticket experiences – Pirates, Small World, Haunted Mansion - have been paying dividends for decades!

DLP needs quality:

No cut-outs when three-dimensional detail would add substantial value. No more buildings which are not architecturally exceptional, “over the top,” highly detailed (perhaps designed with Main Street forced perspective) and beautifully lighted after dark. No period drapery without lots of fullness, fringe and tassels. No lighting fixtures which are not expressly suited or designed for their specific location and setting. No wall coverings or woodwork less than extravagant; no exterior areas without fountains, waterfalls, or other exotic water features.

Yes, a “studio” should reflect some of the gritty “behind-the-scenes” technology. But the grit only works if it is interestingly contrasted with the glamour and glitz which is essential to the “silver screen.”

Incremental additions of excellence could, over time, turn the tide, but you have to start somewhere.

My approach would be to select the ten ugliest, most poorly conceived and cheaply executed areas or single failed features in the park and allot sufficient budget and Imagineering magic to turn each into an outstanding asset.

(Park guests -- or readers of these pages! -- could be queried for lists of the "TEN MOST DISMAL FEATURES OF DLP." I suspect the citations would be numerous.)

Imagineering teams might be organized to compete with suggestions for changes, within a (generous) proposed budget for each problem area or project.

Turn a few ugly carbuncles into gems and soon the whole character and atmosphere of the park can begin to improve.

The addition of two recent high-quality E-Ticket attractions would be a major move: "Mickey’s (3-D) Philharmagic" film and the excellent "Soarin’" ride – although it would be nice to have “Soarin’ Over France" or Europe or “Over the World” rather than just California. However, until the alternate films are added to the repertory, CA might be acceptable as the locus of Hollywood and the Disney Studio Enterprise.

Both of these attractions can be enjoyed more than once, and they would add considerable “plussing” to the park – provided they can be housed in buildings which are, in themselves, designed and detailed as works of wonderment, not just mundane make-shift industrial sheds.

DLP wasn’t built in a day, and it won’t be turned around in a day, but smart moves can get the process underway. Disney doesn’t need to ignore the “bottom line,” it needs to TAKE A SERIOUS LOOK at the bottom line and at quality investments which will pay off handsomely by increasing park attendance.

Anyone listening? Bob Iger?

Anonymous said...

One stockholder weighing in:

Spain is water over the damn; gutting DLP and starting over is unrealistic. Positive thinking is called for now. Incremental infusions of excellence could, over time, turn the tide.

A friend of mine who designed for Disney over a period of some 30 years described a Disney process which involved imaginatively standing at various points in a planned indoor or outdoor environment and visualizing exactly what would be seen in every direction. The object was to give serious design thought to every view and detail seen from every point in the project.

The resulting intricacy and excellence of detail became a Disney hallmark.

Some ride models can, of course, be constructed at shoulder height, so that the “track” or passage area can accommodate a human head, and thus an individual can walk under and through the model getting some sense of what the ultimate visual experience will be.

What isn’t excellent at DLP can be improved, and this kind of thinking can help.

Clearly, careful, creative, quality design costs money. Disney’s original theme park successes resulted from substantial up-front funding for detailed artistry and superb craftsmanship. Everything was “plussed.” No cheap short-cuts. It DOES take money to make money, and DLP was clearly built w/o sufficient funding.

But the “excessive” up-front funds spent on the great original E-Ticket experiences – Pirates, Small World, Haunted Mansion - have been paying dividends for decades!

DLP needs quality:

No cut-outs when three-dimensional detail would add substantial value. No more buildings which are not architecturally exceptional, “over the top,” highly detailed (perhaps designed with Main Street forced perspective) and beautifully lighted after dark. No period drapery without lots of fullness, fringe and tassels. No lighting fixtures which are not expressly suited or designed for their specific location and setting. No wall coverings or woodwork less than extravagant; no exterior areas without fountains, waterfalls, or other exotic water features.

Yes, a “studio” should reflect some of the gritty “behind-the-scenes” technology. But the grit only works if it is interestingly contrasted with the glamour and glitz which is essential to the “silver screen.”

Incremental additions of excellence could, over time, turn the tide, but you have to start somewhere.

My approach would be to select the ten ugliest, most poorly conceived and cheaply executed areas or single failed features in the park and allot sufficient budget and Imagineering magic to turn each into an outstanding asset.

(Park guests -- or readers of these pages! -- could be queried for lists of the "TEN MOST DISMAL FEATURES OF DLP." I suspect the citations would be numerous.)

Imagineering teams might be organized to compete with suggestions for changes, within a (generous) proposed budget for each problem area or project.

Turn a few ugly carbuncles into gems and soon the whole character and atmosphere of the park can begin to improve.

The addition of two recent high-quality E-Ticket attractions would be a major move: "Mickey’s (3-D) Philharmagic" film and the excellent "Soarin’" ride – although it would be nice to have “Soarin’ Over France" or Europe or “Over the World” rather than just California. However, until the alternate films are added to the repertory, CA might be acceptable as the locus of Hollywood and the Disney Studio Enterprise.

Both of these attractions can be enjoyed more than once, and they would add considerable “plussing” to the park – provided they can be housed in buildings which are, in themselves, designed and detailed as works of wonderment, not just mundane make-shift industrial sheds.

DLP wasn’t built in a day, and it won’t be turned around in a day, but smart moves can get the process underway. Disney doesn’t need to ignore the “bottom line,” it needs to TAKE A SERIOUS LOOK at the bottom line and at quality investments which will pay off handsomely by increasing park attendance.

Anyone listening? Bob Iger?

theatreman said...

One stockholder weighing in:

Spain is water over the damn; gutting DLP and starting over is unrealistic. Positive thinking is called for now. Incremental infusions of excellence could, over time, turn the tide.

A friend of mine who designed for Disney over a period of some 30 years described a Disney process which involved imaginatively standing at various points in a planned indoor or outdoor environment and visualizing exactly what would be seen in every direction. The object was to give serious design thought to every view and detail seen from every point in the project.

The resulting intricacy and excellence of detail became a Disney hallmark.

Some ride models can, of course, be constructed at shoulder height, so that the "track" or passage area can accommodate a human head, and thus an individual can walk under and through the model getting some sense of what the ultimate visual experience will be.

What isn't excellent at DLP can be improved, and this kind of thinking can help.

Clearly, careful, creative, quality design costs money. Disney's original theme park successes resulted from substantial up-front funding for detailed artistry and superb craftsmanship. Everything was "plussed." No cheap short-cuts. It DOES take money to make money, and DLP was clearly built w/o sufficient funding.

But the "excessive" up-front funds spent on the great original E-Ticket experiences - Pirates, Small World, Haunted Mansion - have been paying dividends for decades!

DLP needs quality:

No cut-outs when three-dimensional detail would add substantial value. No more buildings which are not architecturally exceptional, "over the top," highly detailed (perhaps designed with Main Street forced perspective) and beautifully lighted after dark. No period drapery without lots of fullness, fringe and tassels. No lighting fixtures which are not expressly suited or designed for their specific location and setting. No wall coverings or woodwork less than extravagant; no exterior areas without fountains, waterfalls, or other exotic water features.

Yes, a "studio" should reflect some of the gritty "behind-the-scenes" technology. But the grit only works if it is interestingly contrasted with the glamour and glitz which is essential to the "silver screen."

Incremental additions of excellence could, over time, turn the tide, but you have to start somewhere.

My approach would be to select the ten ugliest, most poorly conceived and cheaply executed areas or single failed features in the park and allot sufficient budget and Imagineering magic to turn each into an outstanding asset.

(Park guests -- or readers of these pages! -- could be queried for lists of the "TEN MOST DISMAL FEATURES OF DLP." I suspect the citations would be numerous.)

Imagineering teams might be organized to compete with suggestions for changes, within a (generous) proposed budget for each problem area or project.

Turn a few ugly carbuncles into gems and soon the whole character and atmosphere of the park can begin to improve.

The addition of two recent high-quality E-Ticket attractions would be a major move: "Mickey's (3-D) Philharmagic" film and the excellent "Soarin'" ride - although it would be nice to have "Soarin' Over France" or Europe or "Over the World" rather than just California. However, until the alternate films are added to the repertory, CA might be acceptable as the locus of Hollywood and the Disney Studio Enterprise.

Both of these attractions can be enjoyed more than once, and they would add considerable "plussing" to the park - provided they can be housed in buildings which are, in themselves, designed and detailed as works of wonderment, not just mundane make-shift industrial sheds.

DLP wasn't built in a day, and it won't be turned around in a day, but smart moves can get the process underway. Disney doesn't need to ignore the "bottom line," it needs to TAKE A SERIOUS LOOK at the bottom line and at quality investments which will pay off handsomely by increasing park attendance.

Anyone listening? Bob Iger?

teevtee said...

I think the previous poster meant to be saying DSP (Disney Studios Paris) and NOT DLP (Disneyland Paris). For DLP is every bit as detailed and themed as the poster wished it was. Budget was certainly NOT a problem when building DLP (though to some extent where that money was spent certainly was an issue).

Conversely DSP (the studios) was poorly budgeted at features NONE of the halmark Disney design elements.

The poster makes a valid point that it is too late to go back and that they are not going to tear the place down, so it is all water under the bridge and you need to move forward now. However I wonder if he or she has ever been to the DSP park because it is such a mess that turning it around sure seems a near impossible feat.

Anonymous said...

Well I have the feeling that people are misunderstanding the great feeling of Disneyland Resort Paris here.

First of all, I guess Paris is the best location, Disney could have ever chosen. Maybe the weather is better now in Spain, but that's all. Paris is the center of Europe, and one of the most popular cities in the world. It has a great infrastructure, cheap ground and so on.
But there were many more reasons for France, I guess many of you didn't thought of. France's residents are the biggest movie-goers in europe, and so on for Disney a big bulge of income.
And the Disney family originally comes from France. It was first D'isigny. What means 'from Isigny', a little place at france.
But when the family was going to america the name slowly transformed into Disney. And next to that, Walt Disney himself has been in the Marne la Vallée region of France during his years in the First World War. It's now the place of Dlrp.

I'm living in the Netherlands (Holland). And I guess people in Europe are so different from Americans. Between France and Holland is only the little country Belgium. So we have to travel only 5 a 6 hours by car to Dlrp. For many people is it too far. So if Dlrp would have been in Spain, nobody here would go there. While the Netherlands are very positive to Disney, in difference with the French itself.

I guess Dlrp didn't have made many mistakes before opening. Allright it had some financial trouble in the beginning, but in 1996 they were making huge profits. It was expensive, but they got it all back with profit, so that's not the problem I guess. Next to the rules on food and wine, Dlrp was totally changed for the european people which made it a beautifful masterpiece. And the Hotels are doing well too.

But the price, that's the biggest problem of all. European people do like themeparks, but do not see it like a vacation or something and don't want to pay a lot for it.


People who come from far are using the hotels. But the prices are to expansive. And with that huge prices, high ticket-costs, the expensive food-drink and merchandising + the costs to travel, it's for many people a no-go. For the money of a 4-day trip to Disneyland Resort Paris, you can go 3 weeks on vacation to a very hot and far country. And that's what many people think.


I'm a big fan of Disneyland Resort paris. But I know Walt Disney Studio's Parc (WDS) isn't doing very well. Despite of many others I like the parc very well. When you're doing all attractions, and see the parades you can stay there for a full day. With much fun. It has some great attractions (although there are not many) but I love it.

The thing most of the people do not like is the theme. 'A real working studio'. That's the problem of the park. The visitors want magic, and no real looking studio-areas. In the original context it's very well designed.
I'm feeling a future when I walk there. It's small but you can feel it's going to be a very succesful and beautifull theme-park.

and because there isn't standing so much, the mistakes can be easily set right. And that's what they are doing. The Toon Studio's area is going to be wonderfull, very well designed. And has 2 new, and great attractions, which are going to be very succesfull. And with the adding the Tower of Terror and a hollywood-boulevard street, the hub will sparkle as never before. The tower of Terror will be beautifful. It is almost the same as Dca's TOT.
But he's original designed for WDS, it had to be build years ago, but because of financial troubles it had to wait. So DCA went a away with it.

I know for sure WDS will going to do it much better after these additions. Let's hope TOT is going to be the Space Mountain of WDS.
In the future I see many other parts of WDS improve and new attractions to come.

I believe that not WDS is the cause of the financial troubles, but the 9/11 attacks and the royalties they had to pay for Disney Copyrights.

But I guess Dlrp is going to shine again very soon. Better then ever before

teevtee said...

It's sweet and all that you are a fan of the parks of Disneyland Resort Paris. Without fans NONE of the parks would work. However you do not fully understand the scope of the situation or the mistakes that have been made.

It is OK to be critical of something you like very much. I would guess that most everyone who posts here (and I certainly fall into this category) LOVE the Disney parks. We are fans and because we are fans we want to see Disney do the very best they can.

Disney needs to be held to a high standard, they created the standard and it is up to them to uphold it. If we all close our eyes and just say "everything is great" then we will continue to get less and less.

Disney Studios Paris is a very, very poolry designed and executed park, and as a fan you more than anyone should be upset about that.

Anonymous said...

Firstly can I just point out that the United Kingdom has the highest Movie going attendence in Europe and not France.

Now back onto the subject...
I personally think adding an attraction like Soarin to DSP(which is a major rumour) would be yet another disasterous mistake. Any attempt to make this attraction fit into the Studios theme would just not work IMO. (although I totally agree with the whole picking the 10 worst spots and re-imagining them bit)

What DSP needs is some seriously imersive themed areas and massive expansion. Even if what was there was fantastic there simply isn't enough room in this park for the amount of guests they want to visit.

I actually think they should close the park for a year or so (as someone suggested) and make Massive changes and improvements. How about moving Star tours to it's proper home at the studios? adding an Indiana Jones ride and whole lost river delta area? and would it really hurt them to build a damn lake?!

Anonymous said...

Having worked in and with Imagineering for a couple of decades, I would add that Disney/MGM was originally supposed to be a half day park as envisioned by Eisner. He did recognize that the spreadsheeters did him in on it as well, but he did take the blame. I remember one system at Catastrophe Canyon went through seven redesigns to cut cost from $1.4 million down to less than $100,000. It was then retrofitted right before it opened to the tune of over a million it was so bad.