It’s always fun to hear about the Disney attractions that were never built – “the ones that got away” as it were. Only rarely do we get to see the actual renderings and concept art. In today’s column, Alain Littaye has chosen photos from his Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality book to illustrate some of the planned attractions in Disneyland Paris that never made it off the sketch pad. ~~Rick

The Disneyland Paris That Never Was
by Alain Littaye
Disney and more blog

Winter scene concept for the Disneyland Paris entrance, as envisioned by WDI Imagineers.

My Disneyland Paris “From Sketch to Reality” book includes 750 pictures as well as 250 renderings from Walt Disney Imagineering. Those of you who don’t already own the book might not know that you’ll also find artwork that shows the “Disneyland Paris that never was”! Today I am going to show you some of them, let us know which are your favorites in the comments below.

The photo below is part of the art for the very first concept of Main street. You can see that DLP was really close to having a very different Main Street than the one which was ultimately built. Instead of having a “turn of the century” theme, Eddie Sotto, Main Street show producer, had designed a Main Street set in the 1920’s-30’s, in an era that was ruled by gangsters but also the golden era of jazz and cinema. It would have been a totally different design as you can see on the Colin Campbell artwork below.


This next artboard, one by Eddie Sotto himself, shows the elevated tramway concept, going all along Main Street and inside the Main Street arcades. The idea of an elevated tramway was finally realized at Tokyo DisneySea in the American Waterfront area.


Maintaining the 1930’s theming, a luxurious art deco restaurant – a kind of private “Club 33” – was envisioned behind the Main Street Transportation Co. building and would have given you the feeling that you were dining on a train.


One of the most amazing concepts for the DLP castle was this one depicting a futuristic castle designed by Tim Delaney.


In Adventureland, the Temple du Peril had several exciting unrealized ideas like the one below…


In Discoveryland, Star Tours almost had an AT-AT at the entrance instead of the X-Wing fighter…


One of the greatest concepts ever envisioned for DLP, the one that would have stunned all DLP fans, was the first concept for Space Mountain…at that time called Discovery Mountain…


…in which you would have found not only the Space Mountain coaster but also the Nautilus submarine as well as a Journey to the Center of the Earth drop ride. You can see the volcano in the background of this Tim Delaney artwork.


Other DLP concepts were were also envisioned for the outside of the park, like this incredible restaurant concept supposed to be build in what is now the Disney Village…


…or this amazing concept for one of the hotels of the park which was designed with the shape of an aircraft carrier by Austrian architect Hans Hollein.


There are many more unrealized concepts illustrated in the book.

We have great news for those of you who still don’t own a copy of Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality. While the collectors edition of the book is now sold out, a new “Regular Edition” is in pre-order for the special price of  $99.50 – (plus $26 shipping wherever you live on the planet)! This special price has been extended for just a couple more weeks. For those of you who have never seen a copy of the book, you’ll find a video presentation below which shows you each of the 320 pages of the book.

Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality is one of the most collectible Disney books ever released. We recently sold out our collectors edition and demand for used copies is high. As a result, we will soon release a new edition of the book at a brand new lower rate.

What are the differences between the regular edition and the collector’s edition?
The English regular edition is identical to the collector’s edition and both have 320 pages and 750 pictures – including 250 WDI artworks. What you don’t have in the new regular edition is the gold printing on the jacket and cover text, a glossy paper, the four prints of Walt Disney Studios artwork and copies don’t have a “number”.

BUT, what you will have in the new English “normal” edition is the same number of pages with exactly the same pictures and text, a printing on a beautiful “silk art matte” paper, AND, we have updated the Discoveryland chapter with new pages on the Buzz Lightyear ride and Space Mountain Mission 2. And also in the Adventureland chapter, a gorgeous WDI rendering for the Indiana Jones Temple du Peril ride is now on a full double page! See below a full description of the book as well as a video.

We expect to ship all orders for this English updated normal edition by early December.  We will let everyone know when the books will actually be shipped. 

Although you’ve probably heard about this beautiful book, many of you may have never seen a copy of it. So we’ve done a video presentation of the full book which will show you each of the 320 pages of the book! The book includes 750 pictures of the park, including 250 gorgeous renderings of Walt Disney Imagineering and stunning pictures of the park seen from above. The book is so big that it took us seven and a half minutes to show you the full book, and that’s without stopping turning each pages! So, if you want to have a closer look at a page don’t hesitate to stop the video.

Description of the book:

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The book is a gorgeous “coffee table book” with 320 pages and 750 pictures – of which 500 are park and attractions photos and 250 are Walt Disney Imagineering renderings!

The size is 9 x 12 inches, all pages are in color and it’s hardbound with a glossy dust jacket. The text (by Disney historian Didier Ghez), was written after more than 75 interviews he conducted with all the Imagineers who created the park. He goes into just about everything you wanted to know about this unique place that many describe as the best “Magic Kingdom” ever created by WDI.

It took five years to create the book, but it was worth all the time we spent on it, and the book looks just as good as we had hoped for at the beginning – in fact Imagineer Bruce Gordon told us that it was “probably the best book ever done on a Disney theme park”. Coming from Bruce who did with David Mumford the great “Disneyland, The Nickel Tour” book, it was more than a compliment.

The first chapter about Main Street has 52 pages and introduces the reader to the “legend” of Main Street, USA. You’ll learn all about the Disneyland Paris Railroad, the unique “Discovery” and “Liberty” Arcades; find out about the architecture, the restaurants (like “Walt’s,” a tribute to Walt Disney, but also inspired by Club 33 in Anaheim) and the shops; with dozens of photos, renderings, models, and reproduced for the first time here, all the “cities of the future” posters located in “Discovery Arcade.”

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The second chapter on Frontierland discusses the park’s western side with extensive sections about its major attractions, “Big Thunder Mountain” and “Phantom Manor.” In fact the book has the longest sections ever put together in a book on all the major attractions. The Pirates of Caribbean section in the Adventureland chapter is 26 pages, Phantom Manor has 16 pages devoted to it, as does Space Mountain, it’s a small world, etc. The photo material was so great that we kept adding more pages to the book, which was supposed to have only 240 pages when we started… we ended up with 320 upon completion!

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The Frontierland chapter also covers the Mark Twain, the River Rogue Keelboats, Fort Comstock, all the restaurants, the shops and Cottonwood Creek Ranch.and featuring stunning photos of Disneyland Paris from the air by Yann Arthus Bertrand, author of The Earth from Above that make spectacular “double-pages,” and allow the reader to discover the park from a whole different angle.

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The Adventureland chapter is even more interesting, as many elements of the land exist only in Paris – such as the Bazaar and Aladdin to Africa and the ex-“Explorer’s Club.” Plus there’s a long section about “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril,” “Adventure Isle” and “The Swiss Robinson Treehouse” and, of course, “Pirates of Caribbean” the land’s major attraction and featuring its amazing Audio-Animatronics! All in all there are 56 full pages about Adventureland, and as in the previous chapters, there are dozens of photos, lots of concept art, and many shots of Imagineers at work. There’s even a great bonus here, with the Marc Davis artwork for “Pirates” also included.

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56 full pages are also dedicated to Fantasyland. There’s an extensive look at Sleeping Beauty Castle, sections on all the dark rides (Snow White, Peter Pan and Pinocchio), as well as a look at “Alice’s Curious Labyrinth,” the “Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups,” “Storybookland,” and “Casey Jr.” There are even 14 pages about “it’s a small world” with stunning photos of nearly all the scenes in it. Here the reader can discover a new attraction that exists only at Disneyland Paris, with a great view from above of Alice’s Labyrinth.

Discoveryland also gets 52 pages of special treatment, with sections on the Visionarium, the Nautilus, Star Tours, Space Mountain, and everything you wanted to know about the other attractions in this land – Autopia and Orbitron. In fact the Nautilus chapter takes you on a visit with photos of every room of this detailed walk-through and two double page photo spreads, one which makes you feel you’re inside Captain Nemo’s grand salon, and the other showing you a unique view of Discoveyland featuring the Nautilus and Space Mountain in a kind of “CinemaScope” view.

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When the book was released in early 2002, the Walt Disney Studios park in Paris didn’t exist, so you won’t see them in the book. But there’s still one last chapter about the hotels of the park, and Disney Village too, with the great Buffalo Bill Wild West show that entertains hundreds each evening.

And because every day in a Magic Kingdom should end with a parade and fireworks, we have the Main Street Electrical Parade that close the book, with a gorgeous Herb Ryman painting in the very last pages!

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Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality is available at a discounted rate in the MiceChat store for a limited time HERE.

  • Werner Weiss

    The concept artwork for unbuilt elements of Disneyland Paris in this article is spectacular. I can imagine being in the middle of the spaces that the WDI artists imagined. Disneyland Paris, as it was actually built, is a beautifully designed park. But it’s great to be able to “visit” this other version of Disneyland Paris, if only through artwork.

    Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality is a “must have” for anyone interested in Disney theme parks.

  • BradyNBradleysMom

    I wish there was an “e-book” version of this. I am very green conscious and do not buy printed materials anymore because I am saving the environment from global warming. I would buy an e-book version of this Disneyland Paris book for $30 if it was offered as such.

  • DisWedWay

    I wish they could have put the Natures Wonderland in Thunder Mesa as well as the Saw Mill and Log Ride. that were in planning stages. The Geyser Mountain Ride would be perfect here that was being conceived until 911 happened. This would really blend in with the geyser field and missing bubbling mud pots. The Carriage Barn next to Phantom Manor is another Architectural and story great element missing do to budget restraints. Maybe when the DCA money fountain turns toward PDL this may all happen. By the way there is an album called “When Pigs Fly” with Leslie Gore doing a number.

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  • QPerth

    This is truly terrific book, please order it if you love GREAT Disney books and help it sell out finally