They say that money can’t buy you love but at Disneyland Paris you can try to buy the love of friends and family, with the new Mickey’s Gift Signature Experiences.
Since Disney has taken over full control of the Disneyland Paris, the main objective has been to make the park profitable. Years of underinvestment has meant Paris was always seen as the poor cousin of the American based parks. So much so, it started to become a family tradition to guess how many Dumbos would be broken on each visit. It was always fun hearing parents trying to explain why each Dumbo was broken, maybe they are sleeping or maybe they lost their fairy dust.
Dumbo is just one ride, everyone can point to their experiences of attractions not working at full operations, maybe it is the lack of smoke on Big Thunder Mountain, no ride music being played on Space Mountain or when the animatronic Buzz Lightyear is hidden behind a shower curtain (we all know you peeked!).
None of these things stop you from having a good time, but these small things are meant to set Disney apart from other theme parks. Everytime one of these features of a ride stop working, a little bit of the magic is lost. If you question whether these details are important, stand outside Peter Pan and just watch people faces as they spot smoke coming from the chimney as they fly over in their Pirate Ship.
The another well known saying is the money is in the detail. These things do not pay for themselves. In the competitive European market, Disney has not been able to push up ticket prices to the same levels as in the US. Reliant on the local french tourists has meant that annual prices are often much cheaper than a 4 or 5 day ticket. Therefore, Disney has adopted a new policy, maximise the spending potential of each guest.
You may say that Disney has already mastered this. Just look at the prices in any gift shop or restaurant, guests are a captive audience and are forgiving of higher than average prices to score that one momento or an hour of rest in a sit down restaurant. The difficult Paris has is that is it often seen as a one day or weekend based trip. So much so, I remember being shocked listening to a travel agent trying to scale back a guests holiday from a week at Disneyland Paris to a weekend with 5 days in Paris. If you only have one day, taking an hour out to eat or shop is less likely.
The marketing team at Disney will be aware of this and have now settled on a different strategy. Lets focus on selling time. Give the guests are optimum experience. If they only want to come for one day, by paying more, they can do more. It is hard not to notice this seeping into every aspect of your day at the parks.
When you arrive to park up for the day, you can pay more to park closer. If you stay at a hotel, you can enter the park before regular guests. Don’t like the idea of queuing, why not purchase an Unlimited Fastpass at price often more expensive than your original park ticket. Don’t carry those heavy bags around all day, pay us and we will look after them for you.
So it is not surprising that Disney has continued on this theme by regularly launching Signature Packages. Mickey’s Gift Signature Experiences is a variation of a similar package which has been marketed over the past few years. A dedicated page on the Disneyland Paris Website shows that this is a money maker for the parks.
Mickey’s Gift Signature Experience comes at two levels one costing £88.10 per person (at the time of releasing this blog) and the other is a whopping £266.11. Yes you can buy 3 of the first tier packages for the price of one Ultimate package. The Ultimate package is aimed at those where money is no problem or to those fortunate to get a PPI payout.
So what do you get for your money on the basic package. The main selling point is a quick access Meet’n’Greet with Mickey. Disney state ‘he can’t wait to see you!’ which I can believe at £88 per person. The package comes with PhotoPass so you can capture the moment. You also get a get a reserved spot for Disney Stars on Parade from a dedicated viewing area, taking away the hour long wait which can hamper you touring plans for the day.
The package comes with a Celebration Cocktail, which is probably the biggest proof that this is not aimed at children but at the thousands of adults who flock to the parks to film endless Vlogs. I am sure Youtube will be seeing quite a few of these cocktails over the coming year.
The cocktails are served at a self-service buffets: Restaurant Agrabah Café (Disneyland Park), Plaza Gardens Restaurant (Main Street) or La Grange at Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon (Disney Village). However, this is where I believe Disneys plan falls flat. At £88 per person, I expect a table to be booked for me and ready when I arrive. I doubt this will be the case and there will be some disgruntled guests waiting in a long line outside Plaza Gardens.
Finally, and most oddly Disney throw in a gift card.Receive a €15 gift card per person to spend in either of the Parks. Treat yourself they say! Why not just reduce the price by 15 euros? Well a gift card is a good way of getting you into a shop and if you can afford this package, Disney will want you to be going into lots of shops!
So what do you get for £266.11 I hear you cry. Does Mickey personally cook your dinner and escort you around the park. Unfortunately not, but you do get an Unlimited Fastpass and a table service meal. The price is truly unbelievable as you can get an annual pass for a similar price. And remember, the price does not include your park admission, you still need to buy a ticket to get in!
There may be many who are against Disney selling these packages, and although my prose may sound like I am against the idea, my tone is simply due to my personal feelings that I would never pay for this package but appreciate there are many who would. If it helps to maintain the wonderful park I know, then I am in favour of any packages Disney wish to offer and I wouldn’t judge those who avail of them.
I will end by saying that you don’t need a package to have a great time at Disneyland Paris. There are a myriad of vlogs and blogs telling you how to do Disney, which rides you must do and a range of hacks to make your day the best one possible. The best times I have had are with friends and family, we didn’t do every ride but we shared in the experience and had a lot of fun. Simply do Disney your way!
Some Images used in this article have been taken from the Disneyland Paris Website