Sorry… we are closed / not yet open

Opening Times Summer 2009 - Indiana JonesYes, 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 anOpening Times Summer 2009 - Riverboat Landingd 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!

Opening Times Summer 2009 - HISTAHere 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 Opening Times Summer 2009 - Phantom Manorattractions 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.

6 Responses to “Sorry… we are closed / not yet open”

  1. Sam says:

    Who toughed that DLP could sink even further? Yes they can.

  2. Jort says:

    “elaborate character and detail”???? these are just simply made add-ons to allready existing frames.
    no biggie…. allthough it’s never a good sign that trhe recession has finally caught up with DLRP

  3. Chris says:

    hmmmm….i think at the moment within the finace crisis its better to ride one or two hours less on indiana jones than the park gets more and more into financial problems and have to close forever.

  4. Medici says:

    Shame on you Disney! There isn´t any apologize for this!

  5. Dirk von Diringshofen says:

    “i think at the moment within the finace crisis its better to ride one or two hours less on indiana jones than the park gets more and more into financial problems and have to close forever”

    I think from a an investor’s, cast member’s or fan’s point of view this is an understandable argumentation. However, I think one should not expect the regular guest to follow this line of thought. A regular guest in the current economic climate might have given second and third thoughts before deciding to spend the considerable amount of money that a visit to DLRP costs (even if only a one day visit), when he comes he expects a full un-shortened experience. Right now he gets the short change despite having to cope with the larger summer crowds.

    Also even from a cm’s or investor’s point of view the negative impact on the guest experience and thus on the word of mouth must be considered. And I think there it is were the management failed miserably. Not only are they making costs cuts by shortening operation hours, but they are making it in an extremly obvious way which guests have to notice. While there is a good reason to close Fantasyland and at least an excuse for Adventureland (fireworks preparations / safety zones) there is just none for a regular early closure of say e.g. Phantom Manor). And as if these early closures were not obvious enough management also seems to ignore the guest experience in regard to communicating these closures. With the now weekly newly printed entertainment schedule there is just no real excuse for hiding the operating hours of the attractions and thus forcing guests to check at the entrance of each attraction. This just has to (and from what I saw in the park) does result in some disapointed or even (in case of a couple of children) crushed guests who arrive at an attraction in the evening they were looking forward to all day only to find it closed.

    So what I try to say is: whatever one thinks whether cutting operational hours might be excusable in the current economic climate, where management failed the test and showed that they are missing the understanding for their guests is in the way this is communicated / handled in the park. And that is why I fear regular guests visiting for the first time this summer may spread bad word of mouth – which will be much really expensive to overcome.

  6. Thrillrider says:

    Absurd – poor Walt must be turning in his grave. I am sure he would NEVER wanted to see any of his parks operated in this manner. I was recently reading on the disboards that Snow White on a recent Saturday closed at 6 PM! How much money can Disney be saving by closing an attraction such as this early. The cost to run the ride and to staff a couple of castmembers has to be miniscule. The attractions are what people are paying GOOD money for, and there is no excuse for this. They should all be open from park open to park close, except for those that may close early for the fireworks. I take it that all of the stores, food/drink stands, restaurants, and any other revenue producing venues in the park are open all day and fully staffed. I agree with the above poster – shame on your Disney. This is a disgrace to the customers and to Walt himself. Sad.

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