Yes, it is summer high season for the Disneyland Resort Paris from early July to late August, yes the parks are busy and yes, the Disneyland Park has extended operating hours and features additional entertainment such as Goofy’s Summer Camp, Disney’s Fantillusion and in particular the Enchanted Fireworks to bring the day to a majestic finale in the skies above Sleeping Beauty Castle. But guests could be excused for believing that they are in the Disneyland Park on a slow off-season day thanks to additional signs posted on the entrances to various attractions – minor and major ones such as Phantom Manor – that inform about staggered operating hours, i.e. certain attractions opening later than the park and / or closing earlier.
Guests during the slower off-season months had already become used to a few certain attractions such as Autopia and Alice’s Curious Laybrinth opening late (around 11.00 am on most days) and closing early. But in the past years these limited operating hours were restricted to just a couple of attractions and usually were suspended in favor of a full operation during the busy summer season except for e.g. the Keelboats or Alice’s Curious Labyrinth which were already historically limited to a “dawn till dusk” operation. Not so in 2009 however!
In an extremly obvious move to cut costs by reducing the number of cast members needed (as well as save maybe a nickle and a dime on actual hardware operating costs) ignoring the negative impact on the experience of the guests the staggered / limited operating hours have in fact been extended to more attractions than ever before for this year’s high season!
Here a short excerpt(!) from reduced operating hours on July 8 and 9 (please note: this times might have been changed / adjusted in the meantime, also the list does not mention all attractions with reduced operating hours): in Discoveryland “Honey, I Shrunk The Audience” 10.00 am to 6.00 pm, Nautilus, 11.30 am to 5.30 pm, Autopia 10.00 am to 9.00 pm; in Frontierland “Phantom Manor” 10.00 am to 10.00 pm, Riverboats 11.00 am to 7.00 pm; on Main Street, U.S.A., the Disneyland Railroad 10.00 am to 10.00 pm. It should be noted, that as usual due to the nightly fireworks display all of Fantasyland anyway closes at 10.00 pm nightly (however, several attractions inside Fantasyland have even further restricted hours – not only Alice’s Curious Labyrinth). In another cost cutting measure all of Adventureland also closes at 10.00 pm in the meantime – according to the huge signs posted at the entrance to allow for preparation of the Enchanted Fireworks. While certain areas close to the Castle might actually be afflicted by safety measures (on some days the hills and plantings to the left of the castle are actually sprayed with water prior to the start of the fireworks to prevent falling shells from starting fires), it is questionable whether something as the popular “Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril” coaster in a far off corner next to Frontierland really is still in the required safety zone for the fireworks. In anyway the result of the currenty policy is that especially after 10.00 pm the amount of operating attractions is extremly limited further increasing the number of guests lining up along the parade route for Disney’s Fantillusion.
Another, even more extreme cost cutting measure has hit the circus train “Casey Jr.” and the fairy tale boat ride in the back of Fantasyland. Despite it being busy summer season both attractions are currently open only Friday to Sunday. Obviously the signs at the entrance to the area are just declaring the attractions being closed (without posting any reasons) and not mentioning the system to avoid angering guests.
To make matters worse the resort is not offering guests any central information or schedules listing all limited operating hours. Guests will only learn about those (and which attractions are concerned) on the actual entrances to the queues of each attraction! Especially first time guests can be seen frequently approaching attractions in late afternoon or early evening only to have to turn around disappointed because the attraction is already closed for the day. While cost saving measures might be necessary the negative impact on the guests experience is extreme especially due to the way it is handled (without handing out any central schedules to guests) and may even be considered bad show already. Considering the elaborate character and detail that went into many of the signs announcing the operating hours at the entrance of the attractions e.g. at “Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril” or “Phantom Manor” it must be assumed that the staggering operating hours are here to stay for longer.