Friday, May 18, 2012
According to Disneyland Paris fans from the DCP forum something quite unbelievable is happening at DLP. After 7pm there is so many restaurants of the park which are closed that it becomes extremely difficult (if not impossible) to eat, except if you're a hot-dog or pop-corn fan, or if you had the genius idea to make a reservation hours before at some table service restaurants, like the Walt's on Main Street.
From what i've read on the forum here is what is happening: because of the fireworks elements in the new Disney Dreams show there is a Fantasyland clearance and the Bella Notte restaurant as well as the Chalet de la marionette, l'Auberge de Cendrillon and Fantasia Gelati are closed earlier. Although these are more or less close to the castle, considering that the night show don't begin before 10pm it's hard to understand why they must be closed at 7pm, but let's say that it's okay.
But, in addition to these, and always according to forum members, others restaurants which are fully open during the day were closed - and these without any official or obvious reasons. It's the Toad Hall in Fantasyland, the Hakuna Matata and Colonel Hathi's in Adventureland, the Fuente del Oro, Lucky Nugget Saloon, Cowboy Cookout Barbecue and Silver Spur Steakhouse at Frontierland as well as the Pizza Planet and a big part of the Café Hyperion in Discoveryland. Those which were open were the Walt's, the Plaza Gardens, Market House Deli and Casey Corner on Main Street, the Blue Lagoon in Adventureland, the Last Chance Café in Frontierland and the Cafe Hyperion at Videopolis in Discoveryland. But even on this last one only a third of it was open and guests had to wait "40 minutes to finally eat a cold hamburger". Another forum member was finally able to eat at the Last Chance Cafe but complained about a 45 min wait and slow CM service and about the lack of choice as many of the meals were not available. Others who tried the Walt's and Plaza Gardens couldn't eat because they were no seats available because of reservations. And the best one is from another DCP member who complained at City Hall and got the reply "that the best was probably to get out of the park and go to eat at the Disney Village". How someone working in a park which includes SEVENTEEN restaurants can think that it's normal to say something like that literally defies my mind!?!
But here is where it becomes insane: as you now the main new "attraction" for DLP 20th anniversary is a show, and it's the excellent and not-to-be-missed Disney Dreams show. Because DLP must wait for sunset to start the show -and because sunset in Paris don't happen before 10pm during spring and summer months, even almost 11pm in June - DLP guests who came to see the new and brilliant show don't have any other choice than to wait until the show starts, at 10pm, right? Sure, some guests can leave the park and go to their hotel or at the Disney Village and come back later, but most of them are staying in the park. And what do you think they're doing, waiting for the show, after a long day of ride and queue lines? Some are still riding DLP attractions but many, just because it's the end of the day and that everyone gets tired after 6pm, either do some shopping on DLP shops...or just want to have dinner.
Normally, for any theme park in the world this is a dream situation, the guests HAVE to stay in the park to see the show that will not begin before 10pm at the earliest. Any theme park in the world would be happy with this because, as i've said, guests will spend their time spending money in merchandise or food. As DLP guests are humans and not extra terrestrials, just like everyone they become hungry around 7 - 8pm. Everyone does, but apparently the guys responsible of the restaurants management at DLP must come from another planet and never ever got hungry in their life around 8pm as almost 80% of the restaurants are closed JUST when everyone is hungry! Can you believe that, how insane it is?
Now, why is this happening? If we except the Fantasyland clearance which is understandable even if it is done a bit early, all the others are probably closed to save money. It could be understandable during the cold winter months when there is not a lot of people in the park but the summer now arrived and do we need to remind DLP execs that, hey, it's DLP 20th anniversary this year and you're doing a huge marketing campaign to make sure that guests will come to the park! By the way, it's interesting to note that on the few restaurants that remain open two of them, the Walt's and the Blue Lagoon are table service restaurants, so the most expensive ones and the Plaza Gardens is a buffet restaurant but not that cheap, too. Did i hear someone saying "Hey, if we have to keep some restaurants open, let's keep the one which makes the more money!" ? But may be there is a more cynical choice behind these closed restaurants: if guests can't eat then, as obviously they have to do something, they might go in the shops and buy some merchandise, right? And what you don't know is that DLP margins on the merchandise products are muuuuch bigger than on the food - and the food at DLP is already more expensive than anywhere else for an equivalent meal.
The result is a disaster: not only they're losing money while they try to save some, but the guests who for the most were happy of their day become frustrated and furious - have you ever seen how mad someone can be when he is hungry and can't find anything to eat? And, as the body always remember the bad situations you can be sure that next time they will come guests will remember what happened - "Honey, can you remind me please to pack some sandwiches before we go at DLP to make sure we'll have something to eat this evening?".
The last time i heard news about DLP was two weeks ago when the park announced the bad financial results for the first half of the fiscal year. Considering this, wouldn't it be a GREAT idea to give to DLP guests the opportunity to spend their bucks when they wish to do so?
EDITING 5/20: According to the DLP iPhone App here are the opening hours for DLP restaurants for today Sunday May 20:
Fuente del Oro: 16h-22h
Cowboy Cookout Barbecue: 11h-15h30
Hakuna Matata: 11h-17h
Colone Hathi's Outpost: 11h-21h
Blue Lagoon: 11h30-21h30
Agrabah Café: 11h30-20h
Toad Hall: 11h30-17h
Au Chalet de la Marionnette: 11h30-21h
Auberge de Cendrillon: 12h-20h
Bella Notte: 11h-17h
Café Hyperion: 11h-22h
Pizza Planet: 11h-16h
Casey's Corner: 11h-23h
Plaza Garden Restaurant: 11h30-22h
Victoria's Home Style: 11h30-21h
Market House Deli: 9h30-23h
If my count is right AND if the reality matches with what the app is saying it makes 10 restaurants open after 8pm, which makes a bit more than 50% of DLP restaurants open after 8pm including five on Main Street and only one in all the others lands at the exception of Adventureland where there is two, which is not that many for the four lands where all the attractions ( and so most of the guests ) are. Again, if this is the reality it's better than what was reported by DCP forum members and i'm even ready to apologize for this article but if it happen that you go at DLP in the next weeks thanks to let us know if you were satisfied or not. (end of editing)
Okay, something else, while we are in the "bad news from DLP" section: according to the UK Daily Mail: " Visitors to Disneyland Paris are being robbed of the chance to see their favourite cartoon characters because of on-going strike action over a sexual harassment case. Staff who dress up as characters including Mickey, Donald Duck and Goofy are withdrawing from ‘Meet and Greet’ events.
They are furious that a senior colleague who was accused of harassing women had been allowed back to work because of ‘lack of evidence’. There is also widespread anger at low wages, with strikes also being organised as part of a union campaign to get pay increases.
It all means that those visiting the theme park outside the French capital, including thousands of Britons, are left disappointed. This week alone there have been cancellations of the Magic on Parade event, ‘Meet and Greet’ sessions in Cafe Mickey, the Cowboy Cookout Barbeque, and a number of other hugely popular events".
I don't know anything about this sexual harassment case so i won't judge it but knowing that Disney takes generally this kind of case very seriously, if the park "argued that there was not enough evidence to incriminate the alleged sexual harassment offender" they probably have a good reason for that. It's also possible that the unions are using this for their own agenda, so it's hard to know the truth and for now i will give the benefit of the doubt to both parts. The main problem in all this comes if Mickey, Donald and Goofy as well as eventually others characters become invisible in the park. Young children are coming to meet Mickey, Minnie and others, and frankly that's not cool for them.
Wow, after this "restaurants closed" problem we didn't need this unions vs management war... but, hey, we're in France, so it's business as usual.
Picture: Note that the top mosaic picture is a montage and that the "Closed" signs on it doesn't exist at DLP.