Disneyland Paris holding emergency meeting re: its very future

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Update: the other shoe dropped for Disneyland Paris, the good news? It was a glass slipper from TWDC: http://bit.ly/1xVukOG

What is going on at Disneyland Paris? It’s the most popular theme park in Europe in terms of attendance, but it continually struggles with profitability. This year has been particularly rough. It lost its president Phillipe Gas to Shanghai Disneyland, has been in the news for the shoddy condition of many of its attractions, and is down over a million visitors from the previous year. There is no way to put a silver lining on it. The situation is not good.

On the other hand, the park’s second gate recently opened a Ratatouille attraction that has breathed some life into that park, there are rumors of a major Star Wars addition being planned, and it’s having a Halloween Festival that is getting good reviews. All signs that the park is on the right track.

So which is it? Unfortunately, it appears that the storm clouds are gathering for the park. It will be holding a special meeting with the workers’ council on Monday to discus the park’s cash crunch. The meeting is timed for just before the Paris Stock Exchange opens.

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The new resort president, Tom Wolber, just arrived in September and he can’t have liked what he saw. Revenue is down with net losses for the first six months increasing by 16% ($129 million) over the previous year. That was after another huge refinancing deal with the Walt Disney Company.

You can’t keep throwing good money after bad forever, but I don’t expect Disney to let Disneyland Paris close either.

The park might succeed by reducing operating hours to save on labor costs. Perhaps even closing Monday and Tuesday as the original Disneyland once did. They could raise ticket prices. The park is currently priced at $86 a day, about $10 a day less than its US cousins.

If The Walt Disney Company does bail out Euro Disney SCA, this time it will probably take over operations completely (or as much as French law allows). No idea what that would mean for the day to day operations of the park, but I expect prices would go up, areas that are unprofitable would have their hours reduced, and management might be in for a bit of a shakeup.

Disneyland Paris had better not close. I still haven’t had a chance to cross the pond for a visit. What do you think TWDC should do about Disneyland Paris, rescue it yet again or allow it to shutter?

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19 thoughts on “Disneyland Paris holding emergency meeting re: its very future

  1. John

    The problem with the Paris park is the cost, for anyone who lives in Europe like I do it’s far cheaper to travel to disney Florida then it is to stay at Paris, travel costs to the park are massively overpriced if you travel via train, I have been to Paris, California and Florida disney parks and have to say the Paris park is a very poor version of the two in America, they need to spend money updating the park and its rides, adding more attractions and making the whole area bigger, it’s far too small and offers too little for the costs.

  2. Daniel

    As someone who has been visiting both DLRP and its American cousins for many years (this year alone I’ve visited DLRP and WDW) it’s clear what the issue, and more, the solution is – quality.

    Over the past ten years the quality of Paris has dropped dramatically with prices increasing at the same time. Noticeable areas include cleanliness, theming and food.

    Last week I had the pleasure of visiting EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, where for $4 I could sample some amazing food freshly cooked from around the world. Compare this to DLRP where six cold chicken nuggets (no sides or drinks) starts at €8. It’s disgustingly overpriced for poor quality products.

    Attraction quality and park theming has also gone stagnant with minimal additions, broken and dirty old show pieces and countless abandoned buildings and wasted space. Money might be an issue, but a lack of investment has caused it to worsen.

    Perhaps it’s good that DLRP is now at the end of a barrel as it needs a serious shake up. Disney can’t continue to let it run whilst ruining in the traditions of the company and not maintaining the standards America does so well.

    1. John

      Yep, biggest mistake ever! Why of why they thought that was a good idea I’ll never know! I was there for 5 days last November and it was freezing and raining the whole time. Going to Wdw this November though!

    2. Sleepums

      It was originally supposed to be in Spain! Same weather as Florida and California.. But, they money men in Paris paid a LOT of concessions to the company to make it in Paris. They claimed to have the transportation and hub activity to easily bring people in, etc.. And gave big money breaks.
      When it was failing from the beginning, a big part to f French labor laws, a Saudi Prince bought a controlling share as a type of bail out. (Much like the Bass brothers did for WDW corp in the 80’s). I wonder what’s happened with that?!

  3. Steven Buehler

    Disney has shut down parks in the past (think “River Country” at Disney World) but not to this scale. The French economy has been in a tailspin for a while now and it’s nearly impossible to do anything that workers don’t like due to mass strike threats. They also have a strong dislike for things they don’t do themselves. If Disney doesn’t take it over the government will.

    1. Sally

      River Country and Discovery Island closed because they were replaced by larger and better versions. The water parks, Typhon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach took business from RC. Discovery Island was disintegrating and their programs were taken over in Animal Kingdom. I’m not sure of the time lines on AK opening and DI closing. So it they wouldn’t be comparable to DLP closing.

  4. wayne le brocq

    WDC should rescue it by taking complete control. Iger will have to put people into the park that know what they are doing. Its a shame to see the state that it is in. If they can avoid closing it, that would be best. Eisner really did screw it up, but Eisner never really listened to the people he should have. If he did, DLP wouldn’t be in the mess that it is now. Only time will tell if WDC can save the park. Will keep our fingers crossed.

  5. Ed K

    Close it and spend the money where it will do the most good at WDW. With France’s labor history, it should never have been built there in the first place. It’s just a money pit for the corporation.

  6. Karin

    Having been to both American parks and DLRP, I have to say I was a bit disappointed in the quality, in Paris you can see roofs and walls in the attractions, little things that break the magic, unlike WDW and DLR . And I did notice that there was a lot of unused space all over the place. It could use a little love.

  7. James

    runDisney should open a race in Disney Paris. Thousands of runners sign up for runDisney events in Disneyland and WDW; runDisney fanatics will most probably flock to Paris if they created an event there.

  8. Paul Douglas

    I’ve been advocating a Walt Disney Company outright takeover (or near as possible) of EuroDisney for years. Paris needs to stop being a red headed stepchild. It needs attention to be lavished upon it by a creative leadership that wants what’s best for it. Parc Disneyland is the most lavishly over done park Disney owns and it is beautiful – every penny Eisner overspent shows – but could probably do with a few big name attractions and some of its existing rides getting updated.

    Walt Disney Studios is the opposite, with brilliant (albeit not exactly numerous) attractions struggling against a cheaply produced, cramped park with a poor layout. Studios needs a major placemaking initiative (arguably a near total re-theme) and more expansion, Parc needs to have its show standards restored so that its inherent beauty isn’t lost to poor maintenance and decorations past their prime; plus a few big name attractions being added. How about La Croisière de la Jungle*? Upgrading Star Tours at last – and replacing the sound system with Virtual Surround Sound headphones so you can select a language. Bring over some of the attractions that are pulling people across the pond, with unique twists, and add some more significant Paris originals.

    The trouble is all these things that need to be done are expensive, and with the pseudo-independent EuroDisney strapped for cash, they can’t justify it. The Walt Disney Company, which is far wealthier, is going to have to assume full responsibility for the Resort and its debts, because all these things need to be fixed or on the road to being fixed within ten or so years to allow time and budget for the third gate to be open in time for 2030.

    And that third gate? Stark Expo. Make DLRP the home of the first Marvel park. It needs a unique park. All three other multi-park resorts have a unique park. DLRP has two clones – one of which is severely limited.

    *Yes, I wrote The Jungle Cruise in French. It’s because I’ve also for some time felt the official english names of the rides, shows and parks should more frequently just be the French names as the French wording makes them sound exotic and differentiates them in the case of doubles. For instance, Parc Diseyland distinguishes the park much better from the original Disneyland.

    1. John Frost Post author

      That is the ironic thing. Disney could absorb Euro-Disney’s debts with barely a blink. They’re so focused on Asia, that they’ve left their flank exposed, forgetting that any park with the Disney name on it reflects on the brand as a whole. When it’s cheaper and more entertaining to fly to Orlando than visit Paris you’ve got a problem.

  9. david

    Well said paul , the people that do an excellent job in the states need to be brought in to do the same in dlrp .

  10. Louis B

    It’s a shame that they can’t get the Japanese to take over the running of the Paris parks. They know how to make their parks work wonderfully. (Kind of tongue in cheek but I do think the Japanese parks are wonderful).

  11. Loretta

    Another reason they could by concerned about the future is the propsed London Paramount in Kent. It will have a theme park, the largest indoor water park in Europe, an entertainment centre, hotels, cinemas and other attractions. It has not yet been approved but almost certainly will be as the money is already in place and it will create thousands of jobs. Plus of the course the Paramount Park nearing completion in Murcia Spain.

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