Is it time for a new attraction at Disneyland Paris?

Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong; the Disney resorts around the world (excluding Paris), but also all the Disney resorts that have large scale construction projects announced. It’s a time of rapid expansion at Disney parks and resorts worldwide, but the glaring omission from this list is Paris. That could be down to the fact that Paris typically announces its new developments exceptionally late in the day (don’t forget that Ratatouillle: L’Aventure totalement toquée de Rémy was only announced in January 2014, for a June opening after years of fans tracking the development of the construction of the attraction), but also perhaps that Disneyland Paris do not have any major plans green-lit.

A brief history of new attractions

Disneyland Paris has grown rapidly since opening, that much is certain and eventually the rapid growth had to slow. In 1993, just one year following park opening, Disneyland Paris opened Indiana Jones et le temple du péril. Major attractions since then include Space Mountain: de la terre à la lune in 1995; Honey I Shrunk the Audience in 1999; the Walt Disney Studios park in 2002; Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast in 2006; Toon Studio and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in 2007; Toy Story Playland in 2010 and of course Ratatouille in 2014. The time gaps in opening are rarely more than 4 years. The gap between Ratatouille and anything is currently sitting on 3 years and it’s likely to be a few more before we get anything.

Tower of Terror at Disneyland Paris

Does seasonal entertainment fill the void?

Disneyland Paris has been launching new seasonal entertainment as a way to attract new guests, and this really does work. For many parks, this long without a new ride (attraction) would see the park stagnating and begin to feel tired; Disneyland Paris has avoided this problem by creating unique seasonal entertainment and this does stand out on its own for being good quality and getting key franchises into the parks (such as during the Frozen Summer Fun celebrations in 2015 and 2016). Additionally new shows such as Mickey and the Magician have emerged which do delight guests. But a lack of new attraction does seem to be becoming increasingly apparent.

Swing into Spring at Disneyland Paris

Star Tours to Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

What we have seen are new attractions being marketed such as Star Tours: L’Aventure Continue, and whilst these are new attractions, they also are not. The core of Star Tours and Hyperspace Mountain remain the same regardless of ‘wow factor’ when riding them and rediscovering them as if it were the first time. The issue is that these are ‘reimagined’ attractions as opposed to something new, at its base you know exactly what to expect. Unlike that feeling when you, as a guest, step into a new land or new attraction with the anticipation and expectation that comes with it. These types of feelings are perhaps some of the most special for a fan of an amusement park (any amusement park, this particular feeling is not exclusive to Disney Parks).

La Place de Remy at Disneyland Paris

When can we expect a new attraction in Disneyland Paris, and what would it be?

Usually for a new attraction construction would begin at least two years in advance, so even if construction started tomorrow we would be looking at 2019. It’s unlikely that Disneyland Paris would be able to green-light the necessary funds for a while and this is OK. We’ve had a large scale project to update many of the classic Disneyland Paris attractions which is very admirable and vital for the future success of our Parisian resort. However, a growth will be needed in the coming years; it is perhaps unrealistic to expect this to happen prior to the 30th anniversary. It’s most realistic to expect this expansion to be Marvel-focused but many successful Disney properties would also be ideal such as Frozen.

Disneyland Paris is going through a period of transformation and it is unlikely that this new attraction would be arriving in the near future. Whilst this is disheartening to many fans – myself included – growth will be expected in the future and when that does happen we can start clammering over construction photographs and imagineering concept arts and blueprints once again.

Disneyland Paris announces a MARVELous summer

Iron Man at Marvel Summer of Heroes at Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris today announced the MARVEL Summer of Super Heroes that will take place from June 10th – September 30th 2018. This special season will close the 25th anniversary celebrations in spectacular style and will certainly be one of the key highlights of the 2018 offering at Disneyland Paris. Guests will see MARVEL characters make their Disneyland Paris debut including: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Star Lord and Doctor Strange as well as Disneyland Paris regular: Spider-Man. The Summer of Heroes also promises meet and greets as well as a new 360 degree stunt show in the Cinémagique theatre that will be certain to blow us all away.

MARVEL Summer of Heroes: A new season full of surprises!

Disneyland Paris are going heavy into these new seasonal celebrations, particularly those based around popular franchises such as Star Wars or MARVEL. This is truly a wonderful thing for the Disneyland Paris parks as new audiences will be attracted to the resort to enjoy these special offerings and also to fall in love with the Disneyland Paris we all know and love. MARVEL fans will love meeting their favourite super heroes over the course of the summer but the real highlight is the new show that will be taking place in the old Cinémagique theatre. Being able to watch the action-packed world of MARVEL come to life right in front of your eyes will be quite the impressive experience. The show also promises to be immersive and will literally take place all around guests. This feels like the evolution of stage shows at Disneyland Paris, we saw it beginning in Mickey and the Magician with the Lion King scene, but this will be the next-level of that and it certainly is something to be very excited about.

Marvel Summer of Heroes at Disneyland Paris poster

Whilst not much is known about the season so far, we do know that some of the brightest minds at Disneyland Paris and MARVEL are working on this exciting seasonal offering which can only raise expectations. MARVEL have rarely put a foot wrong and it would be unwise to think that they will be starting now.

A new audience and direction for Disneyland Paris

Also notable in the announcement of the Summer of Super Heroes was the location of this announcement: MCM Comic Con Londonthe announcement was targeted towards those most likely to be enticed by super hero adventures – comic book fans. This untapped audience by Disneyland Paris has a lot of potential to make this event extremely popular and to bring a reputation of being the home of MARVEL in Europe. With the new Disney’s Hotel New York: The Art of Marvel opening in 2020, this audience is clearly going to be crucial to Disneyland Paris moving forward and it would be wise to say that this is clearly just the beginning; MARVEL and Disneyland Paris clearly have a very bright future ahead.

Iron Man at Marvel Summer of Heroes at Disneyland Paris

Another ‘must-see’ for 2018

Disneyland Paris’s 2018 schedule is fast filling up with exciting events planned for almost the entire year already. The MARVEL Summer of Heroes joins Season of the Force and the newly announced Disney FanDaze meaning that there truly is something for everyone at Disneyland Paris in 2018. Long may this current trend continue, Disneyland Paris might be 25 years old, but its best days are clearly still to come.

Retheme or Expansion: A careful balancing act

Retheme or Expansion: A careful balancing act

With the opening of Star Tours: L’aventure continue and Hyperspace Mountain, Disneyland Paris has rethemed and repurposed two successful and popular attractions. Fans are divided on whether or not this is a good or bad thing. For some, any new experience is an occasion to be celebrated; others dislike how classic experiences are modified from their original design and that preference should be given to expansion.

Rethemes are not inherently bad

For many retheme=bad. But this is not always the case. Take the recent re-opening of Space Mountain with a Star Wars overlay which has opened to fan approval. There are other rethemes that have fans more sceptical such as the one that has recently taken place at Disneyland in Anaheim where the Tower of Terror has become Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. It’s difficult to take an emblematic attraction and change it. Space Mountain is one of those attractions that is beautiful on the outside and inside but was difficult to market. Hyperspace Mountain is still beautiful from the outside but has an intense marketability. 

If the idea is good, the retheme will also be good. The worry is purely on whether the retheme is purely for marketing reasons or if there is an plausible reason to change the story.

Why not expand?

The more complicated question is answer is why not expand? Expansion is quite simply expensive. In 2014, Disneyland Paris inaugurated Ratatouille: L’Aventure totalement toquée de Rémy which included the attraction, shop, restaurant and mini-land costing €200 million. Additionally there is a recruitment of new cast members to cover the cost of a new attraction and increased maintenance costs. This should not stop development but it does go someway to explaining as to why new attractions don’t come daily or yearly. Ideally new attractions bring an increased number of visitors to the resort and higher revenues; however this was not the case in Disneyland Paris for the Ratatouille development. Rethemed attractions are not only cheaper but allow marketing for new experiences based on popular franchises. Hardcore Disney fans may object to a franchise being shoe-horned into the park, but the average visitor simply doesn’t care – they want to see a film and characters represented.

But retheme and expansion can work harmoniously

The two are not mutually exclusive. It’s not as if you can have one but not the other. In fact an expansion could work best when involving a retheme. For example, the previously referenced retheme in Disneyland with Guardians of the Galaxy involves a bigger plan, the plan for a Marvel superheroes land. One can assume that this will involve expansion. Thus an attraction has been used with the vision of becoming the gateway to something bigger. Something very similar could be happening at Disneyland Paris with the closure of Cinémagique; rumours are spreading that this theatre will become a Marvel-based stunt show. It is very possible that the Walt Disney Studios park will have a Marvel themed area and why not some of this being an expansion? It’s not entirely inconceivable after all.

Would this be a good solution to the loss of a beloved attraction? Potentially.

Are Disney prioritising retheme over expansion and new attractions?

Quite simply, no. Whilst the retheme of attractions seems to be recently prevalent it is certainly not new. The most known example in Disneyland Paris is the change from Space Mountain: de la terre à la lune to Space Mountain: Mission 2, but other things have been rethemed or renamed. Hakuna Matata and Agrabah Café have all been given new names over the past years at Disneyland Paris. Even looking at the trends in Disney parks across the world, expansion is still taking place. In Paris we have very recently had La place de Rémy, in Florida the expansions of Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land are underway and in Anaheim Star Wars Land is also underway. The Asian resorts are also seeing extensive expansions from the major projects in Hong Kong and Tokyo to smaller projects in Shanghai.

Paris is simply following an international trend and it’s OK. Whilst we all want to see the Walt Disney Studios park expand, sometimes the price for a new attraction is a retheme, and that is not necessarily bad. Providing story exists and make sense a retheme can be just as good as an expansion.

Retheme or Expansion: A careful balancing act

With the opening of Star Tours: L’aventure continue and Hyperspace Mountain, Disneyland Paris has rethemed and repurposed two successful and popular attractions. Fans are divided on whether or not this is a good or bad thing. For some, any new experience is an occasion to be celebrated; others dislike how classic experiences are modified from their original design and that preference should be given to expansion.

Rethemes are not inherently bad

For many retheme=bad. But this is not always the case. Take the recent re-opening of Space Mountain with a Star Wars overlay which has opened to fan approval. There are other rethemes that have fans more sceptical such as the one that has recently taken place at Disneyland in Anaheim where the Tower of Terror has become Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. It’s difficult to take an emblematic attraction and change it. Space Mountain is one of those attractions that is beautiful on the outside and inside but was difficult to market. Hyperspace Mountain is still beautiful from the outside but has an intense marketability.

If the idea is good, the retheme will also be good. The worry is purely on whether the retheme is purely for marketing reasons or if there is an plausible reason to change the story.

Why not expand?

The more complicated question is answer is why not expand? Expansion is quite simply expensive. In 2014, Disneyland Paris inaugurated Ratatouille: L’Aventure totalement toquée de Rémy which included the attraction, shop, restaurant and mini-land costing €200 million. Additionally there is a recruitment of new cast members to cover the cost of a new attraction and increased maintenance costs. This should not stop development but it does go someway to explaining as to why new attractions don’t come daily or yearly. Ideally new attractions bring an increased number of visitors to the resort and higher revenues; however this was not the case in Disneyland Paris for the Ratatouille development. Rethemed attractions are not only cheaper but allow marketing for new experiences based on popular franchises. Hardcore Disney fans may object to a franchise being shoe-horned into the park, but the average visitor simply doesn’t care – they want to see a film and characters represented.

But retheme and expansion can work harmoniously

The two are not mutually exclusive. It’s not as if you can have one but not the other. In fact an expansion could work best when involving a retheme. For example, the previously referenced retheme in Disneyland with Guardians of the Galaxy involves a bigger plan, the plan for a Marvel superheroes land. One can assume that this will involve expansion. Thus an attraction has been used with the vision of becoming the gateway to something bigger. Something very similar could be happening at Disneyland Paris with the closure of Cinémagique; rumours are spreading that this theatre will become a Marvel-based stunt show. It is very possible that the Walt Disney Studios park will have a Marvel themed area and why not some of this being an expansion? It’s not entirely inconceivable after all.

Would this be a good solution to the loss of a beloved attraction? Potentially.

Are Disney prioritising retheme over expansion and new attractions?

Quite simply, no. Whilst the retheme of attractions seems to be recently prevalent it is certainly not new. The most known example in Disneyland Paris is the change from Space Mountain: de la terre à la lune to Space Mountain: Mission 2, but other things have been rethemed or renamed. Hakuna Matata and Agrabah Café have all been given new names over the past years at Disneyland Paris. Even looking at the trends in Disney parks across the world, expansion is still taking place. In Paris we have very recently had La place de Rémy, in Florida the expansions of Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land are underway and in Anaheim Star Wars Land is also underway. The Asian resorts are also seeing extensive expansions from the major projects in Hong Kong and Tokyo to smaller projects in Shanghai.

Paris is simply following an international trend and it’s OK. Whilst we all want to see the Walt Disney Studios park expand, sometimes the price for a new attraction is a retheme, and that is not necessarily bad. Providing story exists and make sense a retheme can be just as good as an expansion.

15 years of Walt Disney Studios – A happy future to come?

Front Lot in Summer

On March 16th 2017, the Walt Disney Studios Park will turn 15 years old. The park opened in 2002 with much fanfare and hype after having being planned even before the opening of Disneyland Park. The reality, however, was a barebones park with very little in the way of attractions and a very basic opening roster. Today we may associate the park with the overpowering images of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, but its easy to forget that this attraction did not actually exist in 2002. In fact, when exiting Studio 1 you were immediately faced with Studio Tram Tour and very little else. But is the park actually any good?

Front Lot in Summer

The Walt Disney Studios Park is not bad

The overarching consensus online is that the Walt Disney Studios park is not a good experience. And whilst yes the park is littered with problems (and more than any Disney park ever should have), it is not a terrible way to spend part of your day. Is it as good at Disneyland Park? No, not even close but considerable work has gone into the park over the past 15 years in an attempt to fix the mistakes of the past. The first big expansion came in 2007 when Toon Studios opened featuring Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye as well as a small photo location. A year later in 2008 the Tower of Terror was officially inaugurated and with it a Hollywood style street area around it. 2010 saw Toy Story Playland and 2014 was the year that Ratatouille and La Place de Rémy arrived.

La Place de Rémy

There are quality attractions in the park, there are also some very fun shows and now a fantastic place to have a meal. For pure thrill seekers, Walt Disney Studios is probably even the preferred park. When it comes to theme, there is work to be done. Front Lot is such a positive and inspirational opening to a park, it is a genuinely pleasant place to visit. The issues come after that. The park is very much designed with minimal greenery making it reasonably easy to maintain but gives a less than ideal aesthetic value.

Nobody should discount the experience that Walt Disney Studios offers, should it not be there it is likely that it would be missed.

So what’s wrong?

The park was opened with a vision of going behind the scenes in a working film studio; the problem there was that film studios aren’t designed to be attractive places. That’s fine for a film studio, less fine for an amusement park. Disneyland Paris have done their absolute best to fix this by creating new experiences in themed mini-lands.

Backlot - Walt Disney Studios Park

This has lead to a new issue. The park is now littered with good experiences but has moved further and further away from the working studio theme  and has become a patchwork of theme. The good news, however, is that this is very fixable.

The next 15 years…

The future is bright for this second gate in Paris. The patchwork of theme could work if executed correctly. It will take a lot of creative direction from Walt Disney Imagineering, a lot of investment and some new experiences. The future of the Walt Disney Studios park should be important to every Disneyland Paris fan. A failing second gate will negatively affect the resort and bring the experience globally down. Disneyland Paris have never allowed Walt Disney Studios to get that bad, in fact they actively try to fix the errors of the past.

Hollywood Tower Hotel - Walt Disney Studios, Paris

The next 15 years of the park will see further investment and potentially a big increase in investment to bring the park up to the Disney standard. It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride, but that can only be a good thing!

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!