Friday, March 11, 2016

Why Disneyland Paris Should Take Seriously the Europa City Project

You've read here recently my article about the Europa City project, to be build at 10km from Paris not far from Charles De Gaulle airport. It's a huge project with a giant shopping mall, a water park, an indoor ski park AND a theme park. Currently the project is under discussions with different sectors about its impact on the region, shops currently existing around it and for ecological reasons. So, IF - and only "if" they succeed to go through all these discussions and get the approvals then the Europa City project will be build.

Now, as you've read the project include a theme park. Sure, the theme park won't be as big or as sophisticated as Disneyland Paris BUT as i said in my previous article Chinese Billionaire Wang Jianlin is now an investor and he has more money than they will ever need. AND he is also the owner of theme parks in Asia, including the Wanda Movie Indoor Park in Wuhan. France President François Hollande even met with Mr Wang to congratulate him for its major investment in Europa City.

Now, i've read on DLP forums comments from some DLP fans thinking that the Europa City theme park won't hurt DLP, that DLP has nothing to worry about it, etc... Sure, as i've said, the Europa City theme park  won't play in the same category than DLP, but the whole project - if built like announced - will include enough elements to attract a lot of people and it will be something "new". Now, some doubt that the Europa City rides will be as good or exciting as the ones as DLP . Well, before going further in your certainty, i suggest you have a look at the video below showing the "Journey to the West" ride at Wanda Movie Park, an "interactive 3D shooting dark ride"... which is obviously a rip off of Toy Story Mania - but not that bad at all for a rip off. Wanda Movie Park include others ride "inspired" - to stay polite - by others famous rides like Terminator 3D or Soarin' ( with different themes of course ). And this Mr Wang who has signed recently the deal with the others partners of Europa City - Auchan Group, see picture below, mr Wang is the last on the right on the second row - has the rights on all the rides of "his" theme park, rides that Wanda Group could eventually import in the theme park of Europa City, all they'll need to do would be to change the movies when these are too "distinctly Chinese".

Disneyland Paris has in project to build Toy Story Mania at DLP WDS since a long time but except if i'm wrong i think that i've read recently that the project was on hold or at least delayed. Same, by the way, for a Soarin' version that DLP fans are awaiting for at the WDS since a long time and which finally may be build at DLP Adventureland as others rumors are saying. My feeling is that they should build them as soon as they can if they don't want to have others competitors - Europa City for instance - to be the first to build these kind of rides... In the meantime have a look at the video below, and you'll understand why Disneyland Paris should really not make the mistake to don't take this Europa City project seriously.

Video: copyright Wanda Movie Park.


Timmy3 said...

Disney should fear the new development because Disneyland Paris has been underperforming. Even a small attendance decrease will cause financial problems. The public is not engaged with Disneyland as perhaps as an American concept. It is just not working.

Brandon Piazza said...

I have never understood why dlp has underperformed! It's an absolutely beautiful resort! THE most beautiful in my opinion, and I've been to them all! But I think it's success is building! Nostalgia is a very important part of Disneyland and I think as the European markets go and then bring their kids and return over the years popularity will strengthen! Disneyland is as much about feeling like a kid again as it is sharing time and experience with others! So I think new generations will be introduced by past, and eventually be as popular as all the other Disney parks!

La Rs said...

A lot of theme parks rely on nostalgia. Efteling in my home country the Netherlands claims people will visit the park at least four times in their lives: as a child, as a teenager with friends, as a young parent with own children and as a grandparent with grandchildren.

Of course, those returning visitors expect on the one hand to revisit the attractions they recall from their previous visits and to relive the feelings they evoked and also to see the park through the eyes of their (grand)children. On the other hand, people also expect to do new attractions, see new or improved rides which have relevance today and hear new stories. Disneyland Paris hasn't been able to deliver this for a long time now. It is a beautifully yet badly maintained park which is being restored to its FORMER glory. It is still seriously lacking new attractions which could be a reason to make a return visit.

The Studios never put across the Disney magic. They would need a complete overhaul and might be considered a lost case.

Although I am a big Disney fan, I haven't visited DLP in seven years. Although I am not living in the Netherlands anymore I've still visited Efteling at least two times in this period.

I'm actually a bit sad I've become so disappointed in DLP. I am very glad they are bringing everything back to the way it's supposed to look and deliver the Disney quality everybody has been paying for all these years but which wasn't delivered.

At the same time I do not understand Disney isn't building those of the shelf attractions like Soarin or Toy Story Midway Mania. It seems to me they could be build in a very short time span opposed to more lavish and detailed attractions with a lot of theming DLP would also need but which would take the Imagineers a decade to put through (look at New Fantasyland or Star Wars land in the US).

So I don't think this new project is a bad thing for Disneyland Paris, because it will generate more attention for the region as a themepark area, but Disney will have to step up and deliver the quality and the (new) content which have been lacking for almost a decade now.

Alain Littaye said...

La Rs, about your question "I do not understand Disney isn't building those of the shelf attractions like Soarin or Toy Story Midway Mania..." the answer is : it's all about money. The money that the WDC is still willing to invest in DLP or WDS, and the money which is spent also by the WDC on others projects. Right now, the priority is having funds for Shanghaî Disneyland, Star Wars land and Avatar Land, and other projects in the U.S or at HKDL. Why not DLP ? Because in the U.S the parks make MONEY. When at DLP they're spending money since 20 years and the park still never make benefits, or at least the kind of benefit they like to have, those with several numbers... Got it?

JuanJo said...

First of all, I'm not buying this perpetual losses' s**t. DLRP will never have profits since it would mean paying more taxes, something is not gonna happen. Secondly, it's not serious to propose as future developments attractions that are 5, 10, 20 years old. Toy Story Mania is way inferior to Maus au Chocolat in Phantasialand, so I don't think it's gonna be a lifesaver. We all love Disney, but I think we've had enough of the same old excuses for non investing. If it's a disaster, close it. If it's not, invest on it. But don't expect customers being thrilled for almost nothing.

Xavier said...

Several things.
- Nostalgia is a good point. And it already begun with former children, now parents, bringing their own children.

- DLP always was a customer success. The trouble is the level of spendings (and off-season in the first years). And don't worry, DLP make a lot of money; just not for its shareholders... The original contract is bullet proof in favor of TWDC.

- While others (Universal, Efteling or Phantasialand..) can make great new rides/lands. Disney, because of the strenght of its "brand", always get out of trouble of true competition. They have Mickey & Princesses; now Marvel & Star Wars...

- I remember how we all screamed when there was this rumor of Soarin in DLP' Adventureland. Now I see Disney wanted to carbon copy the design they've done for Shangai ! "Perfect fit" in the evil mind of accountants.

mr.Lime said...

Alain, don't forget that the WDC recently has invested more than 1 billion dollar in DLP to clear out the huge debt they had with the banks. And WDC paid for the entire Ratatouille expansion, which costed 350 million dollar (rumours say). These were huge gifts that DLP received. Unfortunately these were very far from enough to make the resort really competitive in 2016 and beyond.

TSMania, Soarin aren't expensive, but all the money goes to refurbishment these days. All very necessary but not really the same as opening NEW attractions. And so much more needs to be done ... WDS is very far from a one-day-immersive experience, and Disney Village is the most depressing area of all Disney Parks. How much more money and time DLP will need to become exciting and fresh again ... ?

La Rs said...

@Alain: as far as I know WDW and DL in CA only publish total profits and never profits or losses per park in contrast to DLP which is still partly publicly owned.

And as far as I know, Shanghai Disneyland is partially owned by the Chinese government and must have its own funding, otherwise investors would not put their money in this project. I just don't buy the idea that the all of the different departments of the Walt Disney Company are paying to start up SHDL.

I agree with @JuanJo: the WDC should make up its mind. Look at all the major investments in other European parks in recent years:

Chiapas, Maus au Chocolat, Taron AND Raki in Phantasialand
Arthur and the new themed Ireland area in Europapark
Joris and the dragon, Baron 1898 and Symbolica in 2017 in Efteling
as well as several new theaters in Parc Asterix

These parks know people will come when they are being offered something amazing and new.

@Alain: Sorry but the old excuse: the Europeans aren't spending as much at DLP as the WDC would like, therefore the WDC not investing, should be turned around: since the WDC hasn't invested enough in the park for years (decades) neither in maintenance nor in new attractions, people are not visiting or returning and the parks are not making (enough) money. I look forward to August 2017 where all the major refurbishments should be finished. I can not imagine visiting the park without riding Big Thunder Mountain!

@JuanJo: these attractions mentioned would be something new and easy to quickly build, I'd consider visiting DLP Park again if they had something new. Furthermore, Disney recycles its attractions around the world all the time. The Studios Park is a whole different story.

In my opinion, one of the main issues why people are not visiting DLP as frequently and returning also has to do with the absolutely TERRIBLE weather from November till late April in the Ile de France region. It just isn't appealing to fly there from abroad in this period. For the French I imagine it is different.

I understand this Chines millionaire Wang wants to directly attack Disney and therefor builds his park in the vicinity of DLP, but why not build it at the other site where Euro Disney was supposed to go: the mediterranean coast of Spain and to be more precise near PortAventura in Salou/Barcelona.

I hope the project succeeds and motivates the WDC to build high quality attractions in DLP Park and completely rebuilds the Studios Park. But hey, I am just dreaming!

Jones said...

DLP once was a work of art. But today? Sometimes, when I re-read Alain´s book for the 1000th time, I could just cry. And it is not just about upkeep and maintenance, although that plays a big part. It is also about watering down,about cheapening the original vision.

A good case in point is the castle, once a magnificent, grand building. But with the new, absolutely generic princessy pink, it has lost most of its grandeur. In 1992, it was a fantasy come real - today, it´s a toy blown out of proportion. I remember stading in front of it back in 1992, asking mayself how long it had taken to find that *perfect* shade of pink. Today, I can only wonder if they got a discount when they bought those buckets of pink paint at the nearest home depot...

John Hench must be rotating in his grave...

Nic Kramer said...

Jones, as they mentioned before they are doing some refurbishing. I'm sure they will do a better job re-painting the castle if they plan to do it for the 25th anniversary next year.

As for new attractions, I'm hoping Europa City will be a wake up call for DLP to make new attraction and since WDW is remodeling the Studios park (unfortunately, getting rid of their water tower being a disadvantage), I'm also hoping they do the same for this Studio Park perhaps similar to the CDA remodel.