As we learned last week in Alain Littaye’s Mystic Manor article, sometimes the stories behind the attractions can be as interesting as the attractions themselves. It turns out that the stories behind the attractions that were never built can be even more fascinating. ~~Rick
Disneyland Paris: Automata-mericana, The Main Street U.S.A Attraction That Never Was
by Alain Littaye, Disney and more blog
Of all the attractions that were promised but never delivered at Disneyland Paris, the one that I miss the most is the “Automata-mericana” concept that Imagineer Eddie Sotto envisioned for Main Street U.S.A.
The idea for this one goes way back to discussions with Herb Ryman in 1988. Imagineers wanted to call it Automata-mericana. Walt Disney loved miniatures, and the idea for Animatronics had begun with his fascination for French Automata. Walt had an antique mechanical bird (which Eddie Sotto paid homage in Walt’s Restaurant above Main Street). There was a space available on Town Square East – under the Dentist (where Franklin Electric was originally) – and that space was considered for the “added capacity program” the year after Euro Disneyland opened. Les Mystères du Nautilus, Indiana Jones and other attractions were part of this program.
On an Imagineering research trip in 1988, Imagineers had visited a funny Automata museum in Covent Garden, London, (called Mechanical Cabaret Theater, now gone) and they were inspired by the displays and how much people enjoyed them. The exhibit displays were not antiques, but rather new designs and it gave Eddie Sotto the idea that Imagineers could make their own and customize them. Shrunken Ned at Disneyland’s Adventureland was inspired by one of the automata on display there. Imagineer Eddie Johnson worked with Eddie Sotto and came up with a series of sketches for the animated displays, each portraying life on Main Street in a funny way. Eddie Sotto used his drawing of the Main Street cinema as the basis for one of the proposed devices. A barber shop, fire station and Market House were also envisioned, each with the Main Street “citizens” doing funny things.
For Eddie and the Imagineers the idea was to bridge the language barrier and show rather than explain the story of American life in that time period by using intricate display animation. Unfortunately, the budget for the “added capacity program” was eaten up by one additional Steam Train – the Eureka. Eddie would still love to build this and thinks it would be a crowd pleaser in a quaint way. The sepia tone sketch above is from Eddie Sotto.
The video below shows some of the actual exhibits Imagineers saw in London. Done in a Disney style with a Main Street Story, they would have been a great addition with lots of American cornball humor.
This next video shows Disneyland Adventureland “Shrunken Ned”. Eddie Sotto played his voice.
If DLP had the budget to do it, it still would be possible to add this Automata-mericana attraction right where Eddie Sotto wanted to build it. Let’s hope that someone at DLP will remember this great concept and will decide to add it at DLP Main Street U.S.A! What do you think folks? Would this make a great addition to Disneyland Paris?
The artwork at the top of this article is among the 250 WDI renderings that you can find in the great Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to Reality book by Alain Littaye.
This edition is nearly sold out. If you’ve been holding off your purchase, now is the time to secure your copy while you still can.
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