Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Disneyland Paris that never was - Part Six : Discoveryland

Let’s have a look today to the early projects for Discoveryland. As you will see, WDI Imagineers had to do big choices but first let’s say that DLP’s Discoveryland is beautiful. Could had it been better with some of the first concepts, like “Discovery mountain”? I am not that sure. For instance i think that the Nautilus is better outside than inside, and that the current size of Space Mountain is perfect.

When WDI Imagineers decided to build Discoveryland, a land tribute to visionaries like Jules Verne or Leonardo da Vinci, they wanted a whole different concept than the usual tomorrowland. Above, an early concept for Discoveryland’s entrance.

The next pictures show a view of the land, including what was then Discovery Mountain. Second artwork by Tim Delaney.

Let’s have a closer look to the Discovery mountain project: it’s difficult to imagine something more huge than this project. Not only the building would have been 100 meters in diameter - instead of the current 61 meters of Space Mountain - but guests will have found inside: a large version of the Nautilus, as well as an underwater restaurant themed on the “Nautilus” theme, an atttraction named “Horizons”, a café, the Disneyland railroad station, and of course the roller-coaster itself! Not to mention huge tubes linking Discovery Mountain to “Cinemagique” - now closed - and Videopolis.

Many different designs were envisioned for the architecture of this huge building.

But the closer to the final version would have been this one.

One of the reasons of this all-in-one- building attraction concept was Paris weather. Because of the global warming it’s now raining less than it used to, but 18 years ago when WDI Imagineers worked on the concept the rainy season in Paris used to be pretty long. So, this concept was great to keep dry DLP guests. Talking about water, one of the other great idea was Discovery Mountain's interior lighting as it was supposed to be partly lit from lights underwater, giving this incredible atmosphere, as you can see on these renderings by Tim Delaney.

Once inside, guests had the choice between going in line to ride the roller coaster ...

......or go all the way around the lagoon to enter the Nautilus. At that point , guests with reservations would have dine in the fantastic “Nemo's Grand Salon” restaurant, and through the Nautilus windows they could see the ruins of Atlantis! idea coming from Tony Baxter’s Discovery bay concept.

The huge volcano you can see on this artwork with the track going out of it was probably the first free-fall concept imagined by the imagineers, another tribute to Jules Verne and his "Journey to the center of the earth" story . In this attraction the guests were supposed to be blown up to the top of the building (just like in Verne’s story where they escape the center of the Earth through a volcano chimney) and had a stunning view of the park before they fall down. We know the rest of the story: this “Journey to the Center of the Earth” was never built, another one - and better - now exist at Tokyo Disney Sea , and Tower of Terror was finally the first free fall attraction in a Disney theme park.

Of course the cost of this Discovery mountain project was so huge that cuts were inevitable. DLP finally have this victorian version of space monutain - always with the Columbiad cannon, and the Nautilus stands now outside without the Nemo restaurant. I'm missing this one a dinner inside the Nautilus for sure would have been is a rendering by Tim Delaney of the final version of Space Mountain.

Talking about Jules Verne, a scene where he was supposed to appear in the walk-through was cancelled, too. Those of you remembering the great Epcot’s "Horizons" attraction will notice how similar this next scene with Verne is.

Sometime , it’s an attraction poster which disappear: this gorgeous one was done for the first version of space mountain and is now replaced by the new “mission two” poster, unfortunately not as good as the first one.

And sometime it’s only a concept of an attraction poster like this sketch for "Les Mystères du Nautilus" attraction poster.

The next concept-art is showing Autopia futuristic billboards, some of them do exist in the final version...

...but not this huge UFO "landing" in the middle of the attraction!

Talking about UFO and flying saucers, did you know that Imagineers also envisioned to re-birth Disneyland's extinct Flying Saucers attraction? I'm wondering if these small saucers would have worked better than they did in the 1960’s...

In the last part of this article, i will show you amazing concepts for Disneyland Paris hotels that were never built, so don't miss it!

Most of the renderings that you saw in this article are coming from my “Disneyland Paris, from sketch to reality” book who tell you all about the creation of the park, thanks to 750 pictures of the park including 250 WDI renderings, and a great text by Didier Ghez. Don't miss below my special offer on this book!

Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this article on D&M english forum on Mice Chat

All artwork: copyright Disney


Dr Bitz said...

Tim Delaney was a machine! He really churned out the paintings and marker sketches for his land. You can really see the evolution of Space Mountain through his hard work and great visualization. Thanks for showcasing Tim's talents in a way that we can see the progression.

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing an image in a WDC annual report...Tony Baxter was posed in front of a Euro Disneyland model and it had this elaborate tangled-up skyway-looking attraction laced through Discoland. Anyone else remember that?

RandySavage said...

^There is artwork of that skyway system here:

Thanks, Alain, for another great piece.