Sunday, October 4, 2009
We will have a Disneyland Paris update today as Frontierland's Last Chance Cafe has had an expansion. Thanks to Mouetto from Disney Central Plaza forum we have pictures and videos of this new addition, which open last Saturday.
So, the park built a big terrace just in front of the small Last Chance Cafe, and from what I've heard, it's because they've realized that guests like to sit and have their meals outside, just like they do on spring and summer days at the Cowboy Cookout Barbecue. Of course, as the cold months of winter will soon arrive at DLP, they needed to have a terrace and, if possible, a heated one, which will be the case for this new one.
Now, why in front of the Last Chance Cafe? Well, it's not because the Last Chance Cafe is the most popular restaurant in the area - actually until now it was closed most of the time. So why not in front of the Lucky Nugget Saloon or the Silver Spur Steakhouse? Well, those two restaurants are table service restaurants, and even if they were not it wouldn't be possible to build a terrace in front of them simply because there is no space available. Actually there is some space available but if you build a terrace in front of them it will create a traffic problem as guests won't have enough space to walk. So, the best place was indeed in front of the Last Chance Cafe which is a fast food counter where guests come to buy food and get out immediately to eat outside. So far there is a logic in this new terrace, at least in the choice of the location. As you will see in a few seconds, things are going to get worse.
The main problem is coming from the architecture of the terrace. The Thunder Mesa buildings all around have the architecture of a Western town at the end of the 19th century. Maybe you don't realize it, but every detail is true to the time period. But if you look well at this new terrace - and although they put props inside - it doesn't look like a building which would have grown "organically" out of the buildings right behind it. There is a story with each Thunder Mesa building whether it's an attraction or a restaurant or a shop. Thunder Mesa is supposed to be a real town and although most of the guests don't know the stories (unfortunately) they can feel the "logic behind".
And I'm sorry to say that the architecture of this new terrace is not right. It LOOKS like a western architecture, but not the one that the Last Chance Cafe's owner would have used if he'd wanted to expand his little cafe 120 years ago because he became successful. I don't know if I'm perfectly clear but believe me, it is important as it is the essence of Imagineering. When WDI Imagineers create a new park the story line is highly important because it's what will give a meaning to everything else: the decors, the colors, the props, everything.
In the case of this new Last Chance Cafe's terrace, the architecture they did would have fit much better near the Cowboy Cookout Barbecue than in this part of Thunder Mesa. Not to mention that the terrace is now "breaking" the lovely curve of buildings between the Lucky Nugget and Phantom Manor entrance.
Many "western" props are also displayed on the shelves of the terrace and it gives the feeling of details, but there, too, you can feel that there was not enough thought behind their choice, with regard to the Last Chance Cafe storyline. Again, it's very subtle: if you look, there are mine lamps, horse saddles, rifles, etc...all kind of props which can be easily identified as "western" props by anyone, but bad luck, it wouldn't have been the kind of props that Last Chance Cafe's owner would have displayed if he had built this terrace 120 years ago. It's very strange, because at first sight it looks right, western style, etc...but you can't stop thinking that there is something wrong somewhere. Guests won't identify exactly what the problem is, but they will probably feel it.
Which leads us to the question: why isn't it perfect? After all, in each Disney theme park there is a division called SQS - "Show Quality Standard". SQS, in fact, is an Imagineering division. They're here to make sure that each new thing built in the park, small or big, is in agreement with the theming all around, the storyline, etc... Now, what generally happens for the kind of building like this terrace is that a manager at the park's food division go to see another one at park's operations division and explain the problem. In this case, something like "we need a terrace in front of the Last Chance Cafe because people like to eat outside, etc...". Then, normally, park operations go to see SQS for the theming part, etc... Alas, SQS have a cost, and from what I've been told it seems that the park is trying to avoid having SQS involved in "small" projects, at least as much as possible. The logic behind this is to save money, in this case the SQS-Imagineering cost. I'm not saying that this is what happened with this new terrace, but if SQS was not involved in its building and theming not only it would explain some of the mistakes i've just told you, but it's also unfortunate as nothing can replace the Imagineers experience. But we know how executives are thinking: they always think that "guests won't see the difference". Which is not only wrong, but almost an insult to the guests intelligence. People are more sophisticated than they think and they DO see the "difference". Let's just hope that in the case of the Last Chance Cafe's terrace they won't see it too much.
Please note that the above pictures were shoot last friday before the opening. This is why the tables and chairs were not in place yet. Let's have a look to the videos now: Mouetto's first short video below was filmed from the Molly Brown and will give you a good view of the whole terrace.
The next video is a travelling inside - i should say "under" - the terrace.
All pictures and videos: copyright Mouetto, whom i thanks a lot.
Many thanks to Nate Walz for the text editing.
Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this article on D&M english forum on Mice Chat