Alain Littaye shares an update with us today with an interesting mix of fact, rumor and personal conjecture about the future of Disneyland Paris. ~~Rick
The Future of Disneyland Paris Resort Revealed?
by Alain Littaye – Disney and More
“Disneyland Paris and Lucasfilm have already worked together on attractions involving Captain EO, Star Tours and Indiana Jones. There are countless opportunities for both teams to work together in the future and we hope that this will continue. It is actually something that we are looking into, but there is nothing concrete right now.” With these words during a round table meeting with DLP stockholders last week, Philippe Gas may have involuntarily transformed what was until now the “Star Wars Land rumor” into a true project for Disneyland Paris. It’s now official – DLP Imagineering is indeed working on a Star Wars Land for the back of Discoveryland. From what I’ve been told, Disneyland Paris envisions two phases. Phase 1 would see the update to Star Tours 2; a Jedi Academy inside what is now Captain EO theater; a Starcade and a Cantina bar/restaurant, probably located where the Pizza Planet restaurant sits behind Space Mountain. I think they will probably keep the big space available on the left of Star Tours, between Star Tours and It’s a Small World so the VIP Tent can be used during DLP special events for the Phase Two of the project, but that’s just my thoughts.
You’ll note that Philippe Gas didn’t mention a date but it doesn’t mean that this Star Wars Land won’t happen. For many reasons, I still place my bets on this project – first because they know that they can’t stay with the original version of Star Tours forever, and second, because they don’t know what to do with the Captain EO theater, and third, because the Star Wars episode 7 is announced for 2015. Don’t forget the spin-off movies based on Star Wars characters announced by Bob Iger. There really is no good reason why DLP wouldn’t build this Star Wars land except maybe money, but don’t worry, they will find the money.
Here is why and it’s pretty simple: as you know the Walt Disney Company announced last September that they will make a loan of 1.3 billion to Disneyland Paris to help DLP refinance its debt. Now, instead of owing this huge amount of money to the banks, DLP owes it to the WDC. Also, the WDC recently acquired LucasFilm for 4 billion dollars. You don’t need to be a genius to understand that Bob Iger surely wants to have a return both on the LucasFilm investment and get back the money that the WDC loaned to DLP. And guess what? They both are linked. Iger surely wants some Star Wars lands in Disney theme parks and DLP needs one to boost the park attendance to pay back the money that they owe to the WDC. Eventually, if DLP results are not good enough to finance Star Wars land, the WDC will probably need to “give” them the money to do it.
What else did Philippe Gas talk about during this stockholder event? In the “attraction section” he revealed that Walt Disney Studios’ next ride after Ratatouille won’t be a Pixar ride. It’s interesting news as last year Gas mentioned that another ride based on Toy Story characters was envisioned for the Walt Disney Studios. Everybody understood that he was probably talking about Toy Story Mania, so we know now that TSM will not be the next WDS ride, although it might come later. Talking about Ratatouille, Gas also said that the ride will be exceptional with a large per hour capacity and that a shop will also be built – in addition to the restaurant – next to the ride. He also added that the ride should make the guests hungry, probably referring to the fact that a big part of the ride is supposed to happen inside Gusteau’s kitchen.
What else for the Walt Disney Studios? Something big, but this one was not mentioned by Philippe Gas so we still have to consider it as a rumor. Apparently DLPI has been given the project to transform WDS Backlot in a Marvel land. Considering that this part of the park probably needs the most placemaking, I think that you can bet on this Marvel Land project becoming a reality. they are using the codename of “Marvel Experiences”. What kind of “experiences”, you may ask? I’m sorry to say that I have no more information on this one, except that there is a rumor that Spiderman might be part of it. There is no info if Spidey will come as a ride or anything else (but of course it won’t be the wonderful Islands of Adventure ride, which is Universal property). Anyway, I have some thoughts about these Marvel Experiences but what follows is pure personal perspective.
My feeling is that, partly for money reasons, they might do a mix of new rides with a re-theming of existing rides. For instance, if Marvel Land is built, I think that the Armaggedon attraction is probably doomed and would be replaced by a new ride. Why not the Avengers ride on which WDI Imagineers are supposed to be working on for Disneyland’s Tomorrowland – if it’s not moved to an Anaheim third gate. As for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, they could also remove it and put in a brand new ride, but I wouldn’t be surprised if instead DLP Imagineers might re-imagine the coaster with a brand new theme and a new storyline, etc. Of course the former Backlot Express restaurant in front of it would get a Marvel theming, too. It’s different for the Lights, Motors, Action stunt show. This one takes a lot of space and although they could create a totally different story and change the Mediterranean facades of the decor for new ones inspired by the Marvel universe, I’m not 100% sure they will choose to do that. Considering the huge space, they could be tempted to use it for something new but the cost might be also too high and they may simply re-theme the show and create new stunts which would certainly cost less. Again, these are just my thoughts, I’m probably wrong and I don’t doubt that DLP Imagineers have totally different plans – and better ones – for these “Marvel Experiences”. As long as these won’t be Marvel photo locations only, I’ll be okay with them.
Philippe Gas also announced other interesting things about the Disney Village area. He apparently said that the World of Disney store was just the first step of what will be a big placemaking of the Disney Village which will continue to change and expand. The Villages Nature project is another big one that DLP is doing with real estate company Pierre et Vacances as well as water parks company Center Parks.
DLP also envisions the controversial Magic+ Magic Band at DLP and also looks to extend the Christmas season as they realize that the Russian Christmas is happening later in January – more and more Russians are traveling to France and visiting DLP!
Finally, Philippe Gas said that the re-financing of the company is a big opportunity for DLP and we certainly agree with him, don’t we?
Disneyland Paris Photo Update
I just received these new photos from Max Fan, D&M collaborator and Dlrp Welcome webmaster and they fit well with my update above as some of them show the Walt Disney Studios Backlot. When Max shot these one week ago, it was still snowing and freezing. You can count – literally – how many people were inside the WDS that day, but you’ll see WDS Backlot and will probably understand why a really well-themed Marvel land would be welcome here.
We start with the Rock and Roller Coaster facade hiding in an industrial building with the coaster in it. Right in front of the Blockbuster Cafe – formerly Backlot Express is a New York Yellow Cab, snow included – but the snow is not coming from New York!
The entrance of Moteurs, Action stunt show. I wonder if there was a show that snowy day, with a ground covered by snow… I wouldn’t bet on it.
The facade of the Armageddon attraction, if you can call it a facade. This is the one that I’m betting is doomed if a Marvel land is built.
If you love freezing temperatures and to be alone in a theme park, this was a good day to be at WDS.
Yes, it looks cold and, boy, looking at the guests you can almost feel how cold it was.
Cinemagique lighting looks nice in this winter atmosphere.
Here’s Hollywood Boulevard under the snow.
Walt statue with Mickey at the exit of Studio 1. With this kind of weather and wearing this kind of suit Walt would probably be frozen if he was not in bronze.
The entrance of the park which probably closed early that day…
Sunset time, time to go back home, and drink something hot!
Since these pictures were shot, the temperatures are rising and the snow has disappeared!
And that’s Disneyland Paris. What Marvel and Star Wars projects do you think are coming?
Alain Littaye is the author of one of the most collectible Disney theme park books of all time, Disneyland Paris From Sketch To Reality.
It’s available in very limited quantities and makes the perfect present. Order your copy of this acclaimed book while you still can! The book is still available in the MiceChat Store HERE.