The Disneyland Paris That Never Was

Written by Alain Littaye. Posted in Disneyland Paris, Features

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Published on July 18, 2012 at 9:33 pm with 5 Comments

As the Author of Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality, I had access to thousands of images and concept paintings from Imagineering. Most folks have seem images of the park as it appears today, but what most folks have never seen are the images of what WASN’T built, but what was envisioned by the Imagineers. I’d like to tell you a little story about a Disneyland Paris that never was . . .

Disneyland Paris: From Sketch To Reality has 320 pages with 500 pictures of the park and 250 Walt Disney Imagineering renderings, but in this article, I will tell you more about a less known angle of the book – and a very interesting one – the part of it which talks about the Disneyland Paris wasn’t built. You’ll find hundreds of WDI renderings showing lands, rides, park shops and restaurants which WERE built at DLP but also many renderings showing Disneyland Paris concepts that were not built. And I think you’ll find that many of these ideas were really great ones! In fact, I’d bet you’ll finish this article dreaming about what could have been.

In the first image above – that you will find in the book’s first chapter – you’ll see a “winter” version concept showing the Fantasia Gardens, in front of the Disneyland Paris hotel located at the entrance of the park. Disneyland Paris imagineers have drawn a small frozen lake on which guests could have ice-skated.

On the next image below – done by Disney legend Collin Campbell – you’ll see Imagineer Eddie Sotto’s design of the 1920′s Main Street concept. In this version, Main Street would have had an elevated tramway and the train station would have looked just like the one in the movie “Hello Dolly!”. The Emporium was to be behind the elevated train station so exiting guests would be let out into the upper floor of the store and trickle down. The Gas Station was to be where the Firehouse is currently located. And the reason why a Service Station was put into the project was because in the 1920′s the transition from horse-drawn streetcar to automobile had already been made and the automobile had won.

A year after Michael Eisner had declined this 1920′s design, he said to Eddie Sotto that he should have done the 1920′s idea anyway because it would have been understood better in Europe. But, by then it was unfortunately too late…

The painting below was created by Nina Rae Vaughn. Behind The Town Square East block of buildings, Eddie had envisioned a private restaurant for the sponsors of the park. This idea was first pioneered with Club 33 at Disneyland and this one had a secret entrance underneath the railroad station that would lead to a hidden terminal, and in that terminal there would have been an American-style streamlined locomotive train complete with dining cars, inspired by the famous “20th Century Limited”. Imagineers thought this could be the most unique private restaurant in Europe.

Disneyland Paris’ Sleeping Beauty Castle is acclaimed as one – if not THE – most beautiful castle of all Disney Magic Kingdoms, but did you know that others concepts were also envisioned? In the first one below, a remarkable Herb Ryman painting on which you’ll also see the elevated tramway on the right. Herb had designed a DLP castle close to the original one at Disneyland…

…On this next rendering by Tim Delaney you’ll see a very different castle concept, a futuristic one!

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril is a great DLP Adventureland roller coaster ride with an Indy theme, but some of the scenes envisioned by WDI Imagineers were unfortunately cancelled, like the great one below in which the train would have entered a tunnel through the mouth of a giant stone head!

Talking about this Indy temple, another rendering that you will find in the book, reveals that DLP Imagineers had envisioned not one but TWO temples, with two different coaster tracks. Look closer at the artwork below and you’ll see the second temple in the back.

In Fantasyland, Alice’s Curious Labyrinth is a Disneyland Paris exclusive, and guests must find their way through the maze to reach the Queen of Hearts castle. In which they can climb to the upper floor and have a unique view of DLP Fantasyland. But, what was also envisioned was to have a slide for young kids to go back to the “ground floor”, and children would have exited the slide by going through the mouth of the Queen of Hearts! Actually, the slide – without the head of the Queen of Hearts – was built and was operational for a few months after opening before being permanently closed because children were hurting themselves at the bottom of the slide.

DLP Discoveryland had concepts other than the one built as well. On this next artwork, you’ll see a very different Tomorrowland entrance than the one which currently exists.

But, of all the Discoveryland concepts that never were, the most spectacular would have been Discovery Mountain, a unique new version of Space Mountain! On the first artwork below you’ll see a great Tim Delaney painting showing Discovery Mountain at night. The transparent tube on the left would have been a direct access tunnel from Videopolis. If you visit DLP, you can still see on the upper floor of Videopolis, giant circular windows which are the same ones through which the transparent tubes would have linked Videopolis to Discovery Mountain.

Inside Discovery Mountain, guests would have found not only a unique Space Mountain ride but also the Nautilus submarine floating in a lagoon with a restaurant inside Captain Nemo’s Grand Salon, access to Star Tours, former Cinemagique attractions and also a “Journey to the Center of the Earth” attraction. The Journey to the Center of the Earth attraction would have been totally different than the one built at Tokyo Disney Sea. In fact, it was the first free fall ride designed by WDI, before the Tower of Terror concept! All of Discovery Mountain would have been a giant tribute to Jules Verne.

So, you see, in addition to hundreds of gorgeous pictures of the park, as well as WDI artwork and great text, telling all the story of the making of the park, the Disneyland Paris book has even more to offer than you might have thought. The renderings above, of a DLP that never was, are just a small part of the many others you will find in the book!

It is also my pleasure to announce that Dustysage has placed the Disneyland Paris from Sketch to Reality book on “Summer Special,” making it the perfect time to order a collector copy of this great book! For a limited time, you can get the book for just $145 plus shipping (normally $185 plus shipping) in the MiceChat Store HERE.

I’ll be back soon with another unique look at this book, I hope you’ll join me.

If you’ve read this book, I’d love to hear your comments below, and if you haven’t, what about the Disneyland Paris ‘that never was’ most strikes your curiosity?

About Alain Littaye

Alain is the author of Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality and a long time Disney historian and blogger. His book is known the world over as one of the best Disney theme park books ever assembled. You'll often find his work featured in the MiceChat Weekend Update and can find his latest musings on his personal blog: Disney and More Blog.

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5 Comments

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  1. Of all the concepts which were never built, Discovery Mountain holds my imagination the most. The layering of all those attractions inside of a futuristic mountain would have been simply amazing.

    There was so much vision on the Euro Disneyland project. The elevated trains on Main Street, Timeless Discoveryland, Parade route with built in amphitheater seating. Unique and beautiful castle. Some of it got built, and some of it didn’t, but the net result sure is spectacular. Easily the most beautiful of the Magic Kingdom style parks.

    Seeing all of these unrealized concepts really makes me hopeful that some day, DLP will have the money necessary to explore some of their other concepts, like the Beauty and the Beast attraction.

    Thank you Alain!

  2. I would love to go there.

    Maybe, when virtual reality comes about, somebody will make virtual replicas of all the “Disneyland’s that never were,” from all the abandoned plans.

  3. Thanks for the background info, Alain. I purchased my copy, which you were kind enough to sign, a couple of years ago, and I take it out quite frequently for reference. I would highly recommend it to other MC members here, especially if they are planning a trip there at some point in the future. We were able to schedule a trip last Summer and loved every minute of it. The park was just as beautiful as your wonderful book!

    Now….if they would just do something about that OTHER park across from Disneyland. What a travesty. They recently completed work on Disney California Adventure out here in my neighborhood and the transformation is nothing short of amazing. They ended up using the 1920′s/30′s concept out here, and that painting depicting the gas station is almost EXACTLY what is now in DCA. Hopefully Disney, or at least the Disneyland Paris division of the company, will be able to scrap enough cash together to do something similar in Paris. We now have the park we SHOULD have had ten years ago!

    • That’s a great point Mac Daddy! If they would just bring the Studios park up to the standard of Disneyland, it would enhance the entire resort and probably bring them oodles of hotel bookings (something they’ve struggled with).

      Seems like there are strong parallels between the Disneyland and Disneyland Paris resorts.

  4. I really like the idea of a 1920′s Main Street! The Indy coasters looked pretty fun too! Its a shame not all these concepts are built.

    After walking under the futuristic castle would you enter Tomorrowland or Fantasyland….