More than 5,000 theme park fans have signed a petition demanding higher standards at Disneyland Paris – amid complaints about poor food, broken rides and a lack of stage shows.
The petition was sent earlier this week to Bob Iger, chief executive of the California-based Walt Disney Company which owns 39.8 per cent of Disneyland Paris.
Belgian theme park enthusiast Guillaume Gallant was spurred into starting the petition after a disappointing recent visit to park. He says he was shocked to find that four of the shows had been cancelled, two attractions were closed and food in one of the most expensive restaurants appeared to have been re-heated.
“We received our dishes in less than five minutes which is obviously too short a time for our food to have been cooked after we ordered,” says Mr Gallant. He adds that “ride breakdowns are already common under normal circumstances but I’ve never seen so many of them... The loss of entertainment even reaches a critical point this year, as it’s the first summer season with not a single stage show at all in the Disneyland Park. This is a first in DLP history and probably among all the Disney parks world-wide.”
Ever since its ornate iron gates swung open in 1992, Disneyland Paris has been considered the poor relation to its bigger brother in Florida, which has three times more parks along with consistently better weather. But against expectations it has become Europe’s most-visited theme park complex, with a record 16m guests last year. This gives it nearly as many visitors as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre combined.
However, Mr Gallant says quality has been sacrificed in the drive grow boost attendance figures while reducing costs. His petition has been translated into six languages and, by Friday, had been signed by 5,127 people. The petition is an embarrassing development for Euro Disney’s 50 year-old chief executive Philippe Gas. Since he took over in September 2008 Euro Disney, the operator of Disneyland Paris, has made total net losses of €272.3m.
A spokesperson for Disneyland Paris says that “both The Walt Disney Company and the management of Disneyland Paris are dedicated to ensuring that our resort offers each of its guests a magical experience. We take guest comments very seriously and use them to help us evaluate our processes and procedures.” Mr Gallant says that Mr Iger’s response “will be an opportunity for Disney to show that they care, not only about their guests, but about their product and brand image in Europe”.
Disneyland Paris has been battered by a series of scandals with the most recent coming in June this year when a French court fined Euro Disney €150,000 for employing two retired policemen to spy on job applicants between 1997 and 2004. Euro Disney claimed it had been in the interests of security. Last year staff marched on strike through Disneyland Paris calling for a pay increase of at least 4 per cent compared to the 1.5% on offer.