Lots of news about Disneyland Paris future today, and all of them are good news! Thanks to Mouetto from the Disney Central Plaza forum we have a full report on the meeting with Joe Schott, "DLP Directeur General Adjoint", and here is a translation of his full article, and please join me to thanks him a lot!
Disneyland Paris: What's New, What's Next by Mouetto, Disney Central Plaza Forum
Last Thursday i had the luck - along with others webmasters of Disney fans sites to meet Joe Schott, DLP Operations Directeur Général Adjoint, during a lunch organized for the "What's New, What's Next" event.
Joe Schott works since 32 years for the WDC. He started his career as a Jungle Cruise attraction operator animator and then became WDW Operations Director. He was then Vice President General Director of Walt Disney Attractions Japan before coming to DLP as Operations Directeur Général Adjoint in December 2009. He also was there during the construction of Euro Disney as he participated to the durability tests for the Disneyland Paris Railroad.
During this two hours lunch everyone was able to talk with Joe Schott who took the time to let us know about future refurbishment projects as well as the good or bad decisions which were previously taken for the Resort.
For instance he explained that the works to make DLP Disneyland Park brand new again will go on and that major refurbishments will start again right after the end of DLP 20th Anniversary celebration:
- Lot of Town Square facades as well as Main Street Station will soon be covered with canvas to rebuild them with stronger materials. It won't be only quickly repaint. Town Square Photography will have a brand new theming and the products will have a better display, like they have in DLP World of Disney Store.
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril ( NDR: see D&M previous article HERE ) will close starting next January for a full rebuilding of the temple, all in stone ( like the castle bridge ) with also a complete change of the looping track, all this to make sure that the ride will last forever instead to be a temporary ride as it was supposed to be when it opened.
- Pirates of Caribbean is a more complex attraction as it includes 72 Audio-Animatronics A100. No other attraction includes so many sophisticated AAs. They've started to replace them with the Pirate Auctioneer and the Captain of the Inferno and there should be four more in the coming year.
- It's a Small World "relamping" is ongoing.
- Like Dumbo and the Orbitron, Les Tapis Volants - Flying Carpets over Agrabah - will be totally dismantled, refurbished and rebuilt.
- The Mark Twain will not be destroyed. It's one of the icon of Disneyland Paris Frontierland and he will be entirely renovated some day but it's not in the priorities list. As well as the geysers which will not be operational anyway all year long. But these ( the geysers ) could be replaced by something unique.
- Attractions capacity will also be reviewed. Also, Crush's Coaster single rider line will be installed permanently. They envision to install one more new waiting line each year. Next year, with the upcoming Ratatouille ride there will be two new single rider lines.
- Two new trams will soon be added at WDS Studio Tram Tour.
- They are always in tests to improve Space Mountain: Mission 2 guests comfort, in particular with the new harness but the process will take some time, due to the investment.
- Although DLP attractions availability is quite good in regards to the number of operational opening hours ( rate of availability is 96% when attractions had 22% more time / 230 more operational hours since 2008 ). DLP is aware that any problem happening on some rides for security reasons and leading to evacuate the guests leads to a great loss of time to start the ride again. For instance one hour is needed to start Big Thunder Mountain. That's the reason why they're reviewing the rides control systems. Pirates of Caribbean has been already updated and Big Thunder will be done in 2015. Joe Schott also talked about doing the same on Crush's Coaster but didn't mentioned a date.
- Joe Schott brought to DLP a system already existing in others Disney Parks - but not yet at DLP - which allows to graduate the emergency of a refurbishment with a rating from A to D. He aims to have a A or B rating in the next five years. To achieve this, days of refurbishment passed from 300 days in 2008 to 600 days in 2012. Also, refurbishment budgets are now three times more important than they were in 2008.
- WDS Stunt Show has indeed no more stunt jumps temporarily. They will come back soon, as soon as the question of comfort and security for the stunt men will be resolved. But Joe told us that he really care that a show stay as good from its premiere till the very last day. That is the case for Disney Dreams! which can be play with the same quality each evening, including in winter ( except of course when there is a technical problem ).
- Just like us, Joe Schott awaits the Ratatouille ride and even revealed an insider info as he confirmed that guests will be able to see the - real - restaurant ( located next to the show building ) from the unload room of the ride!
- I asked him what has been one of his first decisions when he arrived at DLP. It was the redo of the Halloween season to make it more "Disney". He acknowledged his mistake to have changed a bit suddenly the 2011 season. On the other hand he is the one who decided to cancel the WDS Terrorific Nights who were not enough "Disney"
( NDR: it's a pity, i liked the show of Charly Vegas! ) and don't regret his decision. The new Halloween version will continue to get better all along the years and a big effort has been done this year on cakes and pastries with a Halloween theme.
- I also asked him about the decision to have changed the hotels swimming pools hours in May 2009. He instantly acknowledged that it was a bad choice. He thought that guests will go in the parks during swimming pools closing hours and will enjoy the pools in the afternoon. But in fact guests were planning their stay with these new swimming pool hours and were not going in the parks!
- I asked him when he envision the comeback of a big "live" show in the park - like the Tarzan show. He said that he love the Tarzan show and will be happy to have it back. It's a show that can be watched by only 6% of guests per day and for now they concentrate on the Disney Dreams! show who can be watched by 30% of the guests. But it is clear for him that live entertainment is part of Disney Parks and he'd like to have them back as soon as possible. However he considers that Discoveryland's Videopolis stage is not adapted for this kind of show because of the Hyperion Cafe nearby.
- About catering, more than eleven kitchen have been refurbished in less than two years. So, meals and burgers are now served hotter than before. Joe also talked about products improvements with introduction of Angus meat. The Angus burger was elected the best burger of all Parks and Resorts division. As soon as he arrived he also asked the chicken nuggets to be changed as he didn't liked them at all.
- The WDS Blockbuster Cafe is currently being rethemed and Joe told us sincerely that he's not a big fan of High School Musical. Without having any info about it i ask him if they will do an Iron Man theming, and he answered yes in an american way " Oh Yeah! ". We didn't knew really if he was joking or not but we had the confirmation next morning when we saw the posters!
- I asked him if the refunding of DLP debt last year deblocked some projects, like the Hep Cat Drinks and Snacks. In fact, the Hep Cat Drinks and Snacks has been financed by Coca Cola but everything around the En Coulisse snack and restaurant was done thanks to the debt refunding as DLP don't need anymore to present each new investment project to the banks to have their agreement. Joe reminded us that because of this the Ratatouille ride was previously turned down three times by the banks. Lot of investments are also done backstage to enhance cast members comfort.
- To conclude, Joe ask us to be patient, that upcoming projects will bring back DLP Disneyland park just as new, that in 3 or 5 years from now our vision of the park will change totally, and that he's extremely attached to the Disney quality experience.
As for me, it was the first time i had a meeting with Joe Schott and i really appreciated this other kind of communication, all along a lunch with the person ruling Disneyland Paris Operations Dept. He answered frankly to all our questions, including an honest acknowledgement of his mistakes, and also reassured us by saying that he is as much as we can be attached to the quality experience for the guests.
2014 will be a year rich in renovations and innovations with the opening of Ratatouille as grand finale!
Pictures: copyright Mouetto - DCP Forum , Disney
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