Euro Disney and Pierre & Vacances unveil Villages Nature, a new, sustainable resort concept

Update: new concept-arts and maps added at the end of the article

Euro Disney S.C.A. Group (“Euro Disney”) and Groupe Pierre & Vacances Center Parcs (“Pierre & Vacances”) are unveiling today their new concept of a vacation destination based on the search for harmony between man and nature. The destination would be, in its design and in its operations, a unique model of sustainable development for tourism at this scale: Les Villages Nature de Val d’Europe (« Villages Nature »).

A message of harmony between Man and Nature
Harmony between Man and Nature is central to the Villages Nature concept. As a mixed‐use resort, Villages Nature will work with visionary landscape architects to develop new lodging and leisure experiences that will provide multiple opportunities for visitors to interact with nature. These activities would be centered on gardening, boating, hiking, horseback riding, visiting an organic farm, walking along discovery paths, and enjoying seasonal festivals and culinary events.

The entire resort will be developed around its iconic 3,500m² geothermal lagoon, and the adjacent water park which will be the largest in Europe.

The Villages Nature site is located 6 Km south of Disneyland Paris, north of the Brie Forest (in French: Brie Boisée), in Seine-et‐Marne. This project, which could span up to 500 hectares (around 1235,5 acres) and be developed over a 20‐year timeframe, will be launched depending on market conditions. The first phase would be comprised of 175 hectares  (around 432 acres) and could open in 2015.

Term vision - © Disney - Click to enlarge

Complementary expertise on a shared project
Euro Disney and Pierre & Vacances have studied together the Villages Nature project. The two Groups have common values and complementary expertise, which serve as the foundation of their partnership.
Villages Nature is a resort concept designed to appeal to European consumers, offering them a unique experience based on connecting with nature. As a short and medium‐break vacation destination, Villages Nature will provide a relaxing and immersive experience in the heart of nature – with 90% of the resort retained as green space. The destination will offer a number of recreational and learning activities that will inspire future generations to value conservation.

For this project, the partners have created a 50/50 joint‐venture, with Companies’ respective CEOs, Gérard Brémond and Philippe Gas, acting as co‐Chairmen of the managing entity, and Dominique Cocquet as General Manager.

A commitment to sustainable development
To develop a Sustainable Action Plan and position Villages Nature as a reference of eco‐tourism in Europe, the partners have been inspired by the "One Planet Living" methodology (www.oneplanetliving.org) developed by BioRegional and WWF International.

The Sustainable Action Plan relies on the following 10 key, measurable targets aimed at reducing as much as possible the destination’s ecological footprint, ensuring social responsibility, and developing synergies with the local communities:

‐ Zero carbon
‐ Zero waste
‐ Sustainable transportation
‐ Local and sustainable materials
‐ Local and sustainable food products
‐ Sustainable water
‐ Natural habitats and wild life
‐ Culture and heritage
‐ Local partnerships and fair trade
‐ Quality of life and well‐being

The two Companies partner with experts to meet the Sustainable Action Plan and implement relevant solutions. For example, the destination’s overall heating needs will be provided by a deep geothermal source. Emanating from 1,800 meters (5 900 feet) under the project site, the 78°C water (172 °F) will be used for heating before it is recycled back into the water table, producing no greenhouse gas emissions.

Geothermal Lagoon - First draft of inspiration. © Disney - Click to enlarge
An opportunity for institutional and individual investors
The first phase of Villages Nature would include the construction of 1,730 apartments or cottages, and measuring between 32 m² (345 ft²) and 85 m² (915 ft²), located within three villages: two villages around the lake and one village in the forest. Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities are also planned, for a total 70,000 m² (around 753,500 ft²) area.

Based on the 40‐year proven real estate development model of Pierre & Vacances, the apartments and cottages would be sold to individual investors as tourism residences (in French : Résidences de Tourisme) while facilities would be sold to institutional investors. The housing units and facilities will be leased and managed by the Villages Nature operating company.

An economic project committed to its region

During various study phases of the project there has been an active dialogue with local stakeholders. Public officials from the local area presented their concerns, and many of their expectations have been considered in the project scope. Both the Seine‐et‐Marne General Council and the Ile‐de‐France Regional Council have voted their support to the project. In the months and years ahead, additional information will be shared and active dialogue will continue with surrounding communities to ensure the project remains well integrated into the community.

Villages Nature will aim to be a strong economic and social contributor to the region. When completed and fully operational, the first phase is expected to generate approximately €7 million in local taxes per year, and create 4,500 jobs, 1,600 of which will be direct. We will proactively work with local, public employment agencies to promote job opportunities for residents, and will reach out to local stakeholders for sourcing and synergies.

Update: Disneyland Paris has published more concept-arts and maps

Zoom on the left part of the project. On the top right, there is the current "Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch" that will still remain open in the future, and on the left, the geothermal lagoon with the water park. (Click to enlarge)

On the map, Disneyland Paris is just above the future site, 6 kilometers away. (Click to enlarge)

Concept-art of the indoor water park (Click to enlarge)


Concept-arts of public areas and lodgings (Click to enlarge)
© Agence d’architectes de Gastines / Agence d’architectes paysagistes Interscène / Agence d’architectes Patriarche & Co / Disney


Vulcania: park attendance up, and two new attractions for 2011

Vulcania, the French amusement park dedicated to the world of volcanos, has a new record attendance this year with 341.000 visitors (+4% compared with 2009). That’s the fourth year in a row that the park increases this number, showing the success of its new development plans.

The park has an annual turnover of almost EUR 9 million (up 8.5%) and claims to have get the benefits of its new rides policy and complete renewal of its scenography.

The park will open two new attractions in 2011.

The first one will be "Mission Toba, a flight over a supervolcano", a new kind of dynamic movie theater created by "Polymorph", "X-Largo" and "Les Crayons". The ride will bring visitors 74000 years ago in Toba, Indonesia, in the center of a supervolcano where they will experience the fury and the devastating power of this amazing natural monster!

Budgeted at EUR 1.6 million, the animated film will be projected onto a 180° screen and on the floor. Visitors will be installed on dynamic platforms in small groups. Image design and special effects will be produced by Polymorph, a French company, which has already collaborated with Alterface for the production of "Mission Ocean" and "Desperados"

Click to enlarge

Here is a description released by the park
Lire phonétiquement

Recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland have focused media attention on volcanism due to the profound effects volcanoes can have on human activities. Yet, Eyjafjallajokull is only one member of a family of terrifying phenomena: supervolcanoes! MISSION TOBA takes visitors on an extraordinary journey through time to one of these supervolcanoes...Transported on a futuristic lift, visitors glide in formation over the Toba region in Indonesia where, 74,000 years ago, a spectacular explosion occurred. To experience this breathtaking flight and discover the force of this eruption, the audience is enclosed in a new auditorium with a 180° screen and projectors in the floor that reinforce the feeling of being immersed in the volcano. During this flight over the Toba region, visitors will be able to appreciate the devastating power of supervolcanoes”.

What is a supervolcano?

Scientists are increasingly interested in supervolcanoes, formations whose unbelievable activity could affect the entire planet. 10,000 more powerful than an ordinary volcano, a supervolcano can emit more than ten billion cubic metres of matter during a single eruption. Today, we have identified a dozen such volcanoes around the world, in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and California, but the most famous one is to be found under Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. If it suddenly woke up, its impact on the planet would be unprecedented, similar to the effect of the Toba supervolcano 74,000 years ago. Its power, according to scientific simulations, would disrupt the Earth’s climate, causing a "volcanic winter" that would probably last several years. In some areas temperatures would drop by 15°C and plants, deprived of sunlight, would be become pale and stunted over several million square kilometres. Some researchers postulate that part of the human population would be wiped out at that point.

The second novelty will be an exhibition "The volcano devils" devoted to the couple of volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. It will show unreleased footage, personal belongings and testimonials of people who worked or travelled with them during their careers.

Click to enlarge

For the 20th anniversary of their death, Vulcania is paying a special tribute to a unique couple, Maurice and Katia Krafft, who dedicated their lives to volcanism.

The exhibition is designed to reflect a life of enthusiasm, commitment and personal convictions. The legendary couple travelled the world, fascinated by the beauty and fury of volcanoes. During their travels, where they encountered populations living in volcanic areas and exposed to danger on a daily basis, they became committed to studying the most destructive among them, gray volcanoes, for which they risked their lives. Through this exhibition, Vulcania aims to illustrate this realisation and the battle started by the Kraffts to raise awareness among authorities of the need to prevent volcanic risks with one goal in mind: saving lives”.

Maurice and Katia Krafft, wandering volcanologists

They marked the end of the twentieth century with their strong personalities and way of life, their dedication to volcanism and their impelling need to transmit their beliefs. They created, thanks to their passion, thirst for exploration and images, an innovative work in scientific vulgarisation. Volcanologists and photographers, Maurice and Katia Krafft left a unique legacy and an unparalleled library devoted to volcanoes with 300,000 photos, 300 hours of footage, dozens of paintings and watercolours and a host of books. Independent, united in their passion for volcanology, fascinated by the beauty of eruptions, they were present wherever the Earth exploded. On June 3rd 1991 at 3:18 pm they died, swept away by a pyroclastic flow on Mount Unzen, on the island of Kyushu, Japan.

For more details, go to the Vulcania website (available in English, Dutch, German, Spanish and Italian)


Disneyland Paris is launching an unprecedented iPhone application

NewsParcs has been invited this Saturday by Disneyland Paris to attend the launch of its first iPhone application. The first tourist destination in Europe (15.4 million visitors last year) would like to improve the visitor experience by providing an interactive guide designed to complement the park maps.

This application was developed internally in a playful and innovation spirit, specific to the brand and Disney products, with a colorful and creative design, that is used in "landscape" mode as a video game! Its contents will be automatically updated and will be adapted to current events such as Halloween or Christmas season.

Primarily dedicated to visitors already in the parks, it will be useful for potential visitors looking for information and preparing a stay.

Indeed, before his visit, the visitors may:

- Get information about the destination (descriptions of the Disney Parks and Hotels) and check opening hours for the parks, attractions, shows, parades, restaurants, shops and services
- Find out the various admission rates to the parks and about special offers, with the possibility of directly contacting our central reservation office to make a booking
- Customise their experience with recommended itineraries according to what they are seeking (thrills or family adventure), and with lots of advice to help get organised once on site
- Watch videos of the latest attractions at the parks

Once on site, using geolocation, visitors may:

- Look up the expected waiting time at attractions in real time
- Organize their schedule by setting alarms that will issue reminders of the times of the shows they want to see- Get their bearings effortlessly using the interactive map which displays all the points of interest, shows, parades, restaurants, shops and services that are nearby.
- Look up useful, fun and entertaining information, including anecdotes about the attractions, provided via augmented reality. Indicated by the 3D symbol (on iPhone 3GS and 4), it shows the parks through the iPhone camera, positioning the points of interest in real-time.
- Find an attraction according to type (thrills, for young children, etc) or a restaurant according to price or category.

Near 250 points of interest have been registered, waiting times are updated continuously and the GPS feature of the iPhone gives you the opportunity to see yourself moving on the park map, with amazing precision!

To illustrate, here are some screenshots (click to enlarge):
The welcome screen when your are on site.
Informations are available for both parks, Disney Village and Disney's Hotels

You can find a point of interests according to what you are looking for.

The GPS helps you to find your way on the map!

You can get more info and details about each rides, shows, restaurants, etc.

In that case, Phantom Manor. You can add the attraction on your personal agenda. 

 You organize your agenda, and will be notified for shows and parades if you asked for.

Via augmented reality, you can find everything you want!

You can even book your tickets for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show!

We had the opportunity to talk with Nicolas Gougenheim, Operations Optimization Director, and with Thibaut De Saint Martin, Digital Marketing Manager Europe at Disneyland Paris.

NewsParcs: Since when do you work on this project?

Nicolas Gougenheim: It is difficult to say how long... It had been announced earlier this year by our CEO, Mr. Philippe Gas, at the General Assembly. This required at least 8 months of development.

NP: This is not the first attempt at Disneyland Paris in the digital approach?

Thibaut de Saint Martin: Yes, we already had digital information panels in our parks, and had successfully tested the Bluetooth to Walt Disney Studios and a system of Flashcode. These elements have allowed us to understand visitors' needs in terms of information during their visit. We are in a process of innovation, and today we found a quality tool!

NP: At one time, you were reluctant to give the waiting time in this way, right?

NG: I don't think so, the wait time has always been an useful information for our visitors. This is why we installed the digital information panels! It is a very useful data to improve the day of our visitors.

NP: If the application is complete, we note for example that there is no information on the availability of Fast Pass. Will other features be added in the future?

T.D.S.M. : Absolutely, we could describe this first version as a "software driver". We still have points to develop, such as Fast Pass, but also the Disney characters meet & greet. Everything will depend on feedback from visitors!

NP: Exactly how do you plan to measure these feedbacks?

NG: We will of course observe the number of downloads of the application, but also conducted on-line surveys. We will also pay attention to reviews on the Web!

NP: How will you promote this app?

NG We will already do a lot of internal communication to invite our cast members to advise visitors. In the future, the application will also be highlighted on our website and through posters in hotels and guest relations centers.
NP: The application is available in how many languages? And on which kind of iPhone ?

TDSM: Regarding languages, it is available in French and English. We performed tests on the iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4, including the iPhone EDGE. Other specifications are available at the Apple Store.

NP: The application seems to have been developed with great care for detail, can you tell us more?

TDSM: For example, we centered each point of interest based on its exact location in the park. Big Thunder Mountain, for example, the point is located at the entrance of the attraction. Also, in the "augmented reality", it is impossible for the user not finding what they want! So we created a search engine and a sorting function which allows you to organize and select points of interest based on what is desired (eg children's attractions, Tex-Mex restaurants, etc.).

NP: One last question, is there any plans to create an Android application?

TDSM: Currently, it is not yet scheduled. We focused on the iPhone because it is a cellphone that is widely used today and which has many advantages for geolocation. Android, it will depend on feedback from visitors and demand.

NP: Thank you!

Nicolas Gougenheim, Operations Optimization Director, and Thibaut De Saint Martin, Digital Marketing Manager Europe.

To conclude this article, we will say that we loved it! This application is essential to better organize the day and to not miss the main attractions and shows. It is well done, fast, convenient and accurate, and should satisfy both regulars visitors, and visitors visiting for the first time. Moreover, it is completely free!

Go on iTunes to get more details for the download.