Another one on how DLP has declined

Disneyland Paris: Poor staffing levels, smoking and general decline at Disneyland Paris - a copy of my complaint

From Jane Williams
Posted April 20, 2011 at 10:20 AM
Here's an abridged copy of the complaint email I've sent to DLP...

I visited with my teenage daughter and her friend/ We last visited 10 years ago when my children were much younger, and I have to say that the park has seriously declined in that time.

We have only ever visited during school holidays, so knew that it was going to be very crowded, and we arrived before the official opening time, expecting long queues around the busiest parts of the day.

We didn't mind the queues and thoroughly enjoyed the rides and attractions once we were able to reach them, but, a major difference from our previous visits was that there were far fewer Disney "cast members" around to answer any queries or give directions. Furthermore, while some of them were polite and helpful, a number were more like Grumpy from the Seven Dwarfs - no smiles and unwilling or unable to offer much help.

In comparison, when we have visited in the past, there were plenty of Disney staff in evidence throughout the queues (not just at the embarkation point), who would chat and answer questions - and crucially, ask people to stop smoking.

This time I was appalled at the number of people smoking cigarettes around the park with no-one stopping them.

For an attraction aimed at young children, with rules that ask people not to smoke outside designated areas, this is unforgivable.

Although we were able to avoid smokers walking around the park, we of course had no option to stand near them if they were smoking in the (long) queues. Had I seen any cast members in evidence, I would have pointed this out and asked the staff member to tell the smokers to stop - but the apparent reduction in staffing meant it was not possible for me to complain to anyone in authority.

We queued for 50 minutes to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, only for the ride to break down before we had chance to embark. While these sort of things do happen, it left me wondering if your evident reduction in staffing levels is also extending to less maintenance for the rides.

And the queueing area for Big Thunder Mountain was dirty, with overflowing rubbish bins - I have attached a photograph I took as we queued for an hour for this ride. Not the sort of holiday picture I really want to bring home, and it reflects on your organisation very badly.

It appears that far from the Disney "Magic", what has developed is an attitude of far less attention to detail, a lack of adequate staffing and poor training/management of cast members.

Your marketing makes much of the Disney "Magic", but if this isn't in evidence, then families like ours will choose to go elsewhere in future - there are plenty of other theme parks to choose from these days.

I shall share these experiences with people I know, including on internet forums where people discuss their holiday plans - and I await your response with interest.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted April 20, 2011 at 9:06 PM
Its not WDW by a long run!

Still, did you see ANY good cast members? I would mention them as well! I found that at the last DLP visit, the cast members were really good or really bad.

As for the rules, it seems that guests do not care or pretend not to understand. I almost saw somebody get run over by the train, yes train!

From Kelly Muggleton
Posted April 21, 2011 at 5:14 AM
I would feel seriously let down too Jane.
I have only been to DLP twice but have been going to WDW for over 20 years - you can definitely notice a difference.
Staffing should not be something that should be cut back on that much, especially in times when it is very busy.
Sometimes even though you have enjoyed the attractions/meals etc - things like this just cloud your memories.

I really hope you get a decent response from them.

From Nick Markham
Posted April 21, 2011 at 9:57 AM
Another one of these, huh?

Well first of all, you do realize you are in France, right? Not America? Smoking is not seen as much of a bad thing there versus here. It is very normal for there to be many smokers.

Second of all, you really need to have a cast member there at every corner of the queue for you? Come on, if you have visited before, you shouldn't have as many questions, and if you do, many phone apps are out there today to answer your questions.

And lastly, all rides break down at some point. It can take as few as one person on certain attractions to operate a ride, so it isn't lack of employeees. Plus, it is a safty havard Disney would never attempt to run a ride with less cast members than needed to operate the attraction.

I am sorry that you did not enjoy your time, but you are not in Walt disney World, you are in Disneyland Paris, in a much different atmosphere.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:14 PM
Um Nick, you do know that Paris has a smoking ban similar to FL right?

The problem that DLP runs into is mostly the cast members. The rides, the scenery, and the park in general are top notch. Here are my thoughts:

1. Unlike American Cast Members, many DLP Cast Members are doing this job as a "last resort", meaning they really don't want to be there, but they have to do something to make money. Its likened to Six Flags employees here in the USA. Still, this is not every Cast Member there. The best cast member server that I have EVER had at ANY park was at DLP. Of course, DLP also gives me the WORST cast member I have ever had,

2. Its tough being a cast member in DLP with all the different backgrounds in the park and the different langugages. If you think about it, Cast Members only really deal with Spanish and English in the USA. DLP Cast Members have Every Language in an area that would only span from FL to NC!

From Michael Owen
Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:23 AM
I have to say I've had somewhat similar experiences, with regards to the varying quality of Cast Members, at DLRP.

As with Anthony, the best Cast Member I've had has been at DLRP (Tower of Terror, to be specific) and the worst has also been at the park.

I never noticed a smoking problem on my last visit, though maybe it's not something which is as much of an issue for me, hence it didn't impact on me as much.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:33 AM
My best was at the Chicago (yes Chicago) Steakhouse in the Disney Village. He was a professional French waiter. He knew his stuff,he made us feel welcome, and was attentive to our needs. As a person from Chicago, the place was suprisily great!

From Dionne Oliver
Posted April 27, 2011 at 7:00 AM
DLParis is a great palace to visit. There is only one big thing wrong with it,it is in France!!!! It is full of VERY IGNORANT FRENCH PEOPLE!!!!! I visited in 2009 with my daughter,and was gob smacked at how rude the French were. They pushed kids out of the way to get there first. They even stood in our photos,& refused to move.

From Rob P
Posted April 28, 2011 at 5:14 AM
Dionne says it all. That's why I won't visit DLP.

From Ashleigh Noad
Posted April 29, 2011 at 6:16 AM
Whilst I don't think its fair to make a sweeping comment that French people are generally 'rude' (though stereotypically this would be assumed). I've encountered rude guests from all over the world! Sometimes it isn't necessarily to do with where the guest is from, amongst some guests there is a kind of negative attitude. "I've paid lots of money to be here so I can do whatever I want".

Though secretly I would agree that DLP is more full of guests that are rude Europeans, us Brits included!

From Kelly Smith
Posted April 30, 2011 at 1:20 PM
I had a great time at DLP, but I did notice that people were smoking everywhere EXCEPT the designated smoking areas.

From Terry R
Posted April 30, 2011 at 8:41 PM
Wow. Sorry about your experience; this isn't something that you would normally expect at a park. Anyway, I visited for the first time back in 2004 when I vacationed in Paris for a few days. From my perspective, DLP isn't WDW or Disneyland Ca but it certainly wasn't for lack of effort. It was a very beautiful park and I have to admit it's roller coasters, especially Space Mountain, put anything here to shame.
I hope they eventually answer you. I wrote to them back in 2004 after I observed an incident at their park regarding an injured little girl. They responded within a day or so. Anyway, I hope you don't lose too much confidence in DLP; I still think it's a great park. All good parks will always have issue with staffing. You can't tell me that WDW or Disneyland has never had issues with their employees at one time or another.

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