Hyperspace Mountain and Discoveryland

With the announcement this week of Hyperspace Mountain arriving in Disneyland Paris there is a question that needs to be answered: What has happened to Discoveryland?

Emerging from Tomorrowland

As many fans of Disneyland Paris will know, Discoveryland emerged from the ‘ashes’ of Tomorrowland. For many years a criticism of Tomorrowland in the Disney parks was that it would become out of date relatively quickly. The idea of the vision of the future simply does not work.

Discoveryland Entrance Disneyland Paris

Enter Discoveryland in Disneyland Paris, a land with a new theme. The idea here is to tell the vision of the future seen from the visionaries of the past. The idea seems ingenious, the visionaries of the past cannot ever become out of date – the ideas may be wacky and crazy but the core themes remain constant and relevant. It was through this way that Euro Disneyland, as it was then named, also fulfilled its key aim of promoting European culture by alluding to the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.

Discoveryland: The early days

Discoveryland launched with attractions that were inspired by its core themes. Orbitron takes its inspiration from the star gazing of Leonardo Da Vinci. Le Visionarium was a Jules Verne circle vision film. This was joined by Space Mountain which took its inspiration from Jules Verne’s De la terre à la lune and the Nautilus submarine from 20 000 lieues sur les mers.

The theme worked, a collection of very strong attractions which were linked to no Disney IPs and were popular.

Space Mountain in the daylight at Disneyland Paris

The beginning of the end?

And then the changes began to arrive. Space Mountain lost its Verne theming (aside from the exterior). Then perhaps the most unforgivable (depending on who you talk to) change of all, Le Visionairium becoming Buzz Lightyear’s Lazer Blast.

Buzzlightyear Lazer Blast at Disneyland Paris at dusk

And then we began to see a calming. Things seemed to have reached a status quo.

Hyperspace Mountain arrives

The 17th October 2016, Disneyland Paris announced its 25th anniversary festivities and among it the Hyperspace Mountain which promised:

Guests will also be able to join the Rebel Alliance by becoming the drivers of Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain1 (Disneyland Park). The Force will be strong with this attraction, which hurtles through the Star Wars galaxy, following the twists and turns of TIE fighters and an intimidating Star Destroyer.

This marks a total departure from prior Discoveryland themes and raises the question of the future of the land? Will Space Mountain see any major exterior changes? Will the steam punk design remain as it is now across the land?

Space Mountain's Columbiad cannon at Disneyland Paris

Is this a destruction or an evolution?

It is difficult to say. Personally, I adore the theme of Discoveryland but this may be because I’m a bit of a Jules Verne fan and so am slightly biased. I also adore the current look and feel of the land. Discoveryland is probably the land I spend the least amount of time in, and anything that will encourage me to spend more time there cannot be a bad thing. However, I feel like a piece of the land’s identity is being ripped from it.

Nautilus submarine entrance at Disneyland Paris

Walt Disney did always say that Disneyland would never be considered completed as long as there was imagination in the world – perhaps this is a change we must accept and move on.

Let me know what you think in the comments or on social media!

Villages Nature: A new direction for Disneyland Paris?

A Cabin at the Villages Nature project

As the blurb on the Villages Nature website details:

The seed of the idea for Villages Nature was planted in the early 2000s. Two major players in the French and European tourism industry, who had never worked together on such a large project, came together around a unique vision. Over the decades since then, Euro Disney S.C.A. and Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs have worked hand-in-hand with the community to develop this project, involving the public authorities at every level as well as the citizens of the host region.

The question that should be posed is why? Why would Euro Disney SCA join in with such a project? The first point to dismiss is that this is not simply another Disneyland Paris hotel. In fact, this is not a Disneyland Paris hotel project in any way. Villages Nature sits on the periphery of the resort. This is an investment by the Disneyland Paris operating company, an investment that is due to open in 2017. However, this is an exciting development and one that should excite you.

The Lake at Villages Nature
The Lake at Villages Nature

Villages Nature and Disneyland Paris

So what will be the link? Villages Nature will be located next door to the Davy Crockett ranch hotel just south of the A4 motorway from the Disney theme parks. There will be no Disney presence on the site and so it will not be much of a Disney product. Guests to the Villages Nature will be able to buy theme park tickets and take a day off the site if they so wish. So the link is slight, but it is an important development to Disney fans as it adds another revenue stream into the company.

An Eco Tourism resort

Villages Nature is a new style of resort, the focus is on being green. The project extends the scope of the East Parisian tourist zone and diversifies it. Euro Disney SCA have already committed their business to become increasingly environmentally friendly, this development permits the company to further extend this goal and become the European leader in this regard.

One of the core aims of the development is to preserve its natural environment and even to some extent enhance it, the idea is to allow nature and man-made environments to cohabit in a sustainable fashion. It is in effect a revolution in the way tourist destinations are created, and who better to initiate this than two of the biggest players in tourism: Euro Disney and Center Parcs.

A Cabin at the Villages Nature project
A Cabin at the Villages Nature project

Where does this align Euro Disney?

This development is a realignment of the Euro Disney company.  It also presents a unique opportunity to diversify its offering a gain an extra revenue stream from those who perhaps are unlikely to visit an amusement park. The development, whilst sitting on its own will also draw audiences to Disneyland Paris. If Villages Nature guests can be tempted to spend a day in Disneyland Paris during their stay, it can only be a good thing.

Euro Disney SCA have been a catalyst for investment in the previously deprived east Parisian basin. The Disneyland Paris theme park development has permitted a thriving town to grow on its doorstep and has transformed the area. Euro Disney are once again at it with Villages Nature is revolutionising tourism and especially green tourism.

Villages Nature can only be a good thing for Disneyland Paris fans. New money seeping into the company will improve the all around performance of Euro Disney as well as providing a new destination for European families. This is one to certainly keep an eye on.

How much Frozen is too much Frozen?

Anna in Disney Magic on Parade

There is always a lot of talk about the latest hype item and its place (or normally lack of it) in Disneyland Paris. In November 2013, Disneyland Paris updated its parade to include characters from the film Frozen. At this time, these characters were dubbed as being from ‘the upcoming film’. Here we are three years on and the Frozen characters have created a polemic. So how much Frozen is too much?

What is there at Disneyland Paris?

Since November 2013, the Frozen sisters have enjoyed their time on Disney Magic on Parade daily. The section of the parade consists of half a float decorated in a Frozen landscape with a small Olaf waving to his fans. This float replaced The Little Mermaid section of the parade.

During the Christmas season Disney Dreams! becomes Disney Dreams! of Christmas which has a very heavy Frozen plotline. Olaf hosts the show which features multiple numbers from the film’s soundtrack. The show is widely regarded as a lesser version of the main Disney Dreams! show, but still delights guests and sets a wonderful Christmas tone to end a magical park day.

Olaf during Disney Dreams! of Christmas

Merchandise. Lots of it. Frozen is the hit film of the moment, guests love it and it still makes a fortune in merchandise sales. It only makes sense that Disneyland Paris follows up on this. The merchandise is mostly targeted at the child audience and there is very little in the way of adult merchandise.

So what about Frozen Summer Fun?

In 2015 Disneyland Paris debuted a new season based on the film. Frozen Summer Fun could really be described more as a ‘mini-season’ than a full-scale season in the same vein as Spring, Halloween or Christmas but manages to pack in various fun elements that makes it a joy to take part in.

Elsa in Frozen Sing along
Elsa in Frozen Sing along

Frozen Sing-along, which also takes place as part of Disney’s Enchanted Christmas, is a fun show that takes place in both English and French. It’s not a show on the same scale as Mickey and the Magician and so it would be unfair to judge it using the same criteria. What it does is done very well and provides a really fun 30 minutes with the film’s characters and songs.

There are also opportunities to see the characters in a carriage ride and in Disney Dreams! with the inclusion of the hit song Let it go!

So is this too much Frozen?

Put simply. No.

Frozen is the franchise that makes Disney a stack of cash for the moment. Will it always be this way? Probably, the success seems to have sustained so far and will only increase with the sequel in a few years time. It is realistic to say that Frozen will remain popular for years to come.

Frozen Summer Fun will not be back next year, but what can Disneyland Paris do to create a real presence for Anna and Elsa?

Boosting the Frozen presence

Anna and Elsa need to be characters that guests can meet. Disneyland Paris tried this during the 2014 Christmas season and it simply didn’t work – or rather it did but Disneyland Paris refuse to admit to this as the princesses gained such long queues they were deemed to be too popular.

Anna in Disney Magic on Parade

So how do we control this? Anna and Elsa need to be placed inside the Auberge de Cendrillon and you would have a guaranteed sell out for each and every sitting. Ideally, a Frozen ride would be a fantastic addition, but I would also very much like to see a musical much like the one that has recently debuted in Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

When does it get too much?

This is the million dollar question. A question that has no answer. When Toy Story is considered, we seem rather ambivalent towards it. Recently, a new Toy Story puppet show debuted in The Lucky Nugget Saloon and we didn’t say ‘Woah, too much now’ despite the fact it has 4 rides, a land, a restaurant (technically, even though it is pretty much closed down), numerous meet and greets, a large merchandise line and parade inclusion.

There’s no such thing as too much as long as the execution is right, the characters are good and it’s not too much in your face. So let’s look forward to more Frozen in the parks. And as soon as possible – please?