Disneyland Paris rejects overcharging claims

UPDATED: Disneyland Paris on Wednesday denied allegations that it overcharges customers from certain countries a day after the European Commission said it had launched a probe.

Disneyland Paris rejects overcharging claims
Taking the Mickey? Does Disneyland overcharge foreign customers? Photo: CetusCetus/Flickr
“Our prices are strictly the same everywhere in the European Union, apart from exchange rates,” Disneyland Paris vice president Julien Kauffmann told AFP, adding the only other variations concern special offers.
“The only difference at any given time is linked to the fact we make special offers that are not necessarily the same, and not available at the
same time in all European countries,” Kauffmann said.
“Needs are not fundamentally the same in all countries. In Italy or Spain, we'll more likely offer packages including meals or free transport, while in France — where people often arrive in their own cars — we will offer the same discount applicable to a hotel room,” he said.
Kauffmann said the timing of the offers varied by country because “an English (visitor) will reserve a holiday six months to a year in advance,
while with the French it's four to six months ahead.”
– 'Scrutinising complaints' –
The response came after the European Commission announced Tuesday it had opened an investigation into Disneyland Paris's pricing practices after it received complaints that the amusement park east of Paris was altering prices in different countries — which would be in violation of EU rules.
“The European Commission and European Consumer Centres frequently receive consumer complaints involving unjustified differences in treatment on the grounds of nationality or residence,” a European Commission spokeswoman said in a statement to AFP.
“We are currently scrutinising a number of complaints, including several against Disneyland Paris,” she said.
The announcement of the probe came amid reports that Europe's biggest amusement park was being investigated for overcharging British and German
The Financial Times reported that Disney charged French visitors €1,346 ($1,487) for a premium package, while Britons were charged €1,870 and Germans a whopping €2,447.
Customers from France generate 50 percent of the park's income, followed by visitors from Britain, Spain and Italy.
Kauffmann noted, however, that Disneyland Paris's website does not engage in geo-blocking, meaning visitors are free to consult prices on offer in other countries. Should they prefer to take advantage of deals available in other countries, he added, they may do so by reserving them through their local call centre.
Kauffmann said the company had not yet received notification of the probe from either the European Commission or French authorities, who have the
responsibility of ensuring that Disneyland Paris is complying with EU fair trade laws, according to an EU source.
The case comes just days after Disney was among several Hollywood studios targeted in a separate investigation as part of a wider Commission crackdown on unfair treatment of consumers.
US firms have borne the brunt of the crackdown, with high-profile cases launched against Google, Apple and Amazon.
Last week, the Commission accused Sky TV and six top Hollywood studios including Disney of breaching antitrust laws by using movie licenses to block access to pay TV content in other European countries.

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Disneyland Paris goes green with ban on plastic straws

Disneyland Paris on Monday announced a series of measures to make Europe's biggest private tourist attraction more environmentally friendly, including banning plastic straws.

Disneyland Paris goes green with ban on plastic straws
Disneyland Paris on Monday announced a series of measures in a bid to become more environmentally friendly. Photo: AFP
The theme park east of the French capital, which draws 15 million visitors a year, is like a small town in its own right, producing 19 tonnes of waste last year.
It currently recycles paper, glass and 18 other types of materials accounting for around half of all its waste, a level it aims to increase to 60 percent in 2020, said Nicole Ouimet-Herter, the park's environment manager.
Starting Thursday it will bin plastic straws, to be replaced with fully biodegradable paper versions that will be distributed only if patrons request them.
The announcement follows a vote last month in the European Parliament to ban single-use plastic products such as straws, cutlery and cotton buds from 2021.

It comes as pressure mounts on companies and citizens to wean themselves off the plastics blamed for clogging up oceans.

Disneyland Paris, owned by The Walt Disney Company, also announced several other initiatives to clean up its act.
Next week, shops in the park will stop handing out free plastic bags, offering instead the option of purchasing bags made of 80 percent recycled plastic for €1 or €2.
And starting in June several of the park's hotels will no longer stock bathrooms with small bottles of shower gel or shampoo, replacing them with bigger ones that can be refilled.
Euro Disney, the park's operator, said it was also planning to install solar panels on the sprawling 22-square-kilometre site to get more power from renewables.
Currently, renewable energy sources account for only 10 percent of the electricity used.
“We are undertaking concrete actions to reduce our impact on the environment. But we also have the power to dazzle children and want to have a positive influence on them to encourage them to take care of nature,” said Mireille Smeets, Euro Disney's director of corporate social responsibility.