Friday, May 18, 2012

Want to eat at Disneyland Paris after 8pm ? Really ?

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
Walt's: 11h30-21h30
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.


WorldOfDisney said...

A lot of things goes wrong in Disneyland Paris. They should seriously change the management team and hire some CM who know what quality of work means !
Bring back the Americans ! They were in Normandy and saved the France, now it's time to save Mickey Mouse !

Jones said...

What´s more, even if you don´t want to eat, anything not open, even a restaurant, is simply "bad show" - "everything must work" (the 10th of the "Ten Commandments once penned by Marty Sklar). Personally, I always find it somewhat disturbing when I come across anything not operating in a Disney park (I first experienced closed rides and restaurants at Six Flags, back in 1993 (Jesus, really 1993?) - and I remember thinking: "This could never happen at Disneyland..." - how wrong one can be...

Anonymous said...

Will there you go. No wonder PDL profits are down, when you close all the sit down dinner restaurants for the most expensive meal of the day. Making your kids eat junk food for dinner is also a shame. Would love to hear the resoning behind the no dinner policy. The early closures also mean a lot of food is tossed into the waste bins each evening. What a waste.

Anonymous said...

About the food ...
I'm absolutely no fan of forums on the internet (too much gossip, too little facts), but in this case they're absolutely right. Last week I visited DLP, and on Monday and Tuesday it was almost impossible to get food in the Park after 17h!!! All the restaurants were closed, except the ones in Main Street + Café Hyperion.

Personally we didn't mind, because we had excellent dinners in Walt's and California Grill, but I totally understand that it must be very frustrating for a lot of visitors.

In my opinion DLP's strategy is the following ...
If people stay in the Park's attractions, restaurants and shops until 23h, than the restaurants in the hotels and Disney Village will remain empty (and lose a lot of money). Since people have to eat, let's close almost all the restaurants in the Park, so a lot of guests have to go to DV and the hotels between 18h and 22h (and afterwards come back to the Park for Dreams). In this case the Park will be a bit emptier, so we can close also a few attractions to save money. And win money by guests having dinner in DV and the hotels.

In short, they (think they can) win money by ...
1) closing restaurants and (a few) attractions in the Park
2) making guests go to DV and the hotels to eat dinner

Maybe it's a good strategy, maybe it's not. In my opinion it's highly questionable. And certainly not friendly to all the DLP-fans who love to have dinner in their favourite Park.

Anonymous said...

No need to apologize, Alain. It is exactly like you wrote yesterday. During our last few visits it was always like that. After 19:00 you couldn't get any decent food in the park, if you had not reserved a table. Very frustrating, because you walked from restaurant to restaurant only to find the doors closed. Long lines outside the doors of the table service restaurants and buffet restaurants. After 20 minutes in line at Hyperion without any movement (!) leaving even more frustrated. I don't know what DLP thinks but this is a ridiculous situation and it has been like this for quite a while.

Michael B said...

Hi Alain

The update shows pretty good opening hours for a Sunday but that is a weekend. My experiance of a week ago was that on a weekday things were not as good. It will be interesting to check the iphone app for a Tuesday or Wednesday.

Also not everyone has an iphone to get this informaiton when you are in the park.

Stokkie (Belgium) said...

The restaurant problem is there already for some years! I remember during the 15th birthday (the 1st year of 3!) We also noticed this problem. No restaurants were open after 8:00pm! The only possibility to eat was at Casey's Corner or Deli Market. With lines standing outside on the streets, you can image this was no real fun!

Why does there have to be such a big difference between the several parks? Do we need to tell Mr. Iger that there is a serious problem at Disneyland Paris? Would the management team at Disneyland Paris know that there are busy in the wrong way? Someone should stand up and tell it to the people!

More and more my favorite (and closest ) resort, is becoming my more and more less favorite one..........
I had this already from some years, the lack of maintenance, no new innovations were you can say of WOoow!!!! (except Dreams....), the very rude and unfriendly cast members (that's a real pitty!!!), Things need to change because this park is becoming more and more like a Walibi or Asterix park! I used to visit DLP more then 10 times a year, but this all changed, now i come maybe 2 times a year. Saving my money to visit the Disney Parks were the real old Walt DIsney spirit is still alive and were they are working by "The 10 commandments of Mickey"

Anonymous said...

I had the same problem. I wanted to eat around 7:30, but everything where did had vegetarian food was closed already. It's really a same. Next time, ask for a stamp at the entrance to go back in later and go to the McDonalds in Disney Village!

Len Vinci said...

We were in DLPR last week (May 13th->16th 2012) and not only was it impossible to find a place to eat after 8, we also had problems around noon and couldn't believe the number of attractions that weren't open until 12h! Wednesday the train had technical issues until noon and once it opened there was an hour long wait to ride because only 1 train was put online! There was very little to do until afternoon. We wanted to try the Agrabah Cafe but it was shuttered every time we went by. On Tuesday night we were walking around at in Adventureland and a family was ahead of us searching for a place to eat. They got really excited when they saw the Blue Lagoon was open then sad once they saw the prices. We left and ate at the Rainforest Cafe in the Village. We're from California and used to the way Disneyland does things so this really surprised us. Disneyland will close some of the smaller places on slow nights but there are usually more open than not, and the fans scream when they do it. Disneyland Paris is an absolutely beautiful park and Disney Dreams made the 11 hour flight worth it, but operations could really do with a refresher course from Anaheim.

Len Vinci said...

We were there last week May 13th -> May 16th and not only did we have a problem finding a place to eat after 20h, we had a hard time before 12h finding open attractions, restaurants and shops. Those that were open were crowded. Monday night we did the Disney Dreams Menu at Walts so were fine, but the other 3 nights we ended up leaving the park and eating in the Disney Village. We really wanted to have lunch at the Agrabah Cafe but it was shuttered everytime we walked by. Wednesday morning it we played a game of trying to find an open attraction before noon that we felt like riding. While some of the biggies were open, we'd done them already and didn't feel like spending time in line to repeat them. The Train was down until 1:00 and once opened developed a 60+ minute wait because only 1 train was running. Never got to ride it. We're from California and are used to the way the folks in Anaheim do things and while they do shut down some smaller restaurants after 8, there tend to be more open than not. Disney Dreams made the 11 hour flight worth it, and Disneyland Paris is an absolutely beautiful park (we took over a thousand pics) but Operations really needs a refresher course from their counterparts in Anaheim.

Len Vinci said...

Sorry about the double post... Blogger gave me a 404 when I saved the first one so I had to rewrite it... little did I know it had saved it afterall :-)

Alain Littaye said...

No problem with the double post, Len, don't worry.

Cyber_Frog said...

This is a real issue for years at DLP. But it explodes this year because of the extended operation hours (before on spring time the park would close around 7/8pm).
Part of the problem is that some restaurants got a complete rebuild of their kitchen. (like curently the Silver Steak house closed for 2 months).
Another element is that DLP took over the operation of most Disney Village restaurants from third party Flo late last year. SO they may act like this ( closing dlp food locations) to enhance the buziness at DV.
Once again the poor CM in front of you is for nothing about this mess. And oral complaint have no effect whatsoever. Be sure to leave a WRITTEN complaint at City Hall, on your hotel guest comment card or by e-mail.

Jessica said...

It is not good to make these kind of arrangements.Most of the people come from outside and if these things will happen,then image of DLP
could be compromised.I have been faced these problems many times but i did not see any improvement.

I don't know what they think about to create the problems but sure that they are making lots of money instead of giving facilities.

It is great place for everyone to see and enjoy great time here.I hope for the best in future.

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