Sunday, June 6, 2010
With less than two years before Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary it's time for a new update about DLP's future. In two words, here is the program: no Little Mermaid ride - may be and hopefully it will come later, Star Tours 2 most probably coming at Discoveryland, and the highly awaited Ratatouille dark ride is, as we will see, "double confirmed" although not yet officially.
Two words about Star Tours 2, first. Although there is no signs that Star Tours 2 is on schedule for Discoveryland i still put my bets on it mainly because it's pure logic: there is not one good reason that the park won't have it in a very near future. The ride definitely needs a new version to boost the attendance, the cost won't be too high for something which will be almost a new attraction, and it's the less expensive choice for DLP's management for a new ride in the park to celebrate the 20th Anniversary. And we must remember that it's Disneyland Paris park 20th Anniversary - not the one of the Walt Disney Studios. However, as we saw during the 15th, at DLP the Anniversary party don't last only one year but generally at least two. It's a marketing trick to keep guests coming at the park to enjoy what is supposed to be a big Anniversary party and generally it works well. Which means what? It means that Star Tours 2 could be very well scheduled as a "20th Anniversary" attraction not opening in 2012 but...in 2013, which will be already DLP's 21th Anniversary but "officially" always the 20th Anniversary celebration, if you see what i mean.
Whether Star Tours 2 will come or not one thing is sure: the awaited Ratatouille attraction will be THE 20th Anniversary E-Ticket ride. And this time, folks, there is no more doubts about it. Only a worldwide financial break down could have some effect on DLP's management decision to build the ride. The budget - translate: the money needed to build the ride - was approved by the banks early this year and, more important, works have began on the location that DLP Imagineers reserved for this future attraction.
We're going to talk about this but first let's have a look to what we know now for sure about the ride itself. And i'm not talking about rumors here. By the way, the Disney Central Plaza forum - DLP's fans biggest forum - did recently a pretty good résumé of what is non-officially confirmed and it matches perfectly with what i've learned from my own other sources.
As i told you in a previous article the attraction cost should be between 130 and 150 $M which is indeed pretty expensive and there is good reasons for that, i mean good technological reasons: the Ratatouille dark ride will use WDI latest high technology with trackless vehicles thanks to the same LPS technology that Imagineers used on the Winnie the Pooh ride at TDL or in the future and awaited Mystic Manor at HKDL. But there is more as WDS guests will have to wear 3D glasses to enjoy the 3D projection effects that DLP imagineers have designed for the ride. And some of them should be really amazing. Recently an external manufacturer designing a huge steel dome for the ride unintentionally revealed that the dome will be used for projection effect in the Ratatouille dark ride. For sure the 3D scene inside this hemispherical dome should be a pretty immersive experience - see picture below. A trackless 3D ride with projection effects? For some of you it may sounds like the Spiderman ride at IOA and it's interesting to note that part of the technology for the Spidey ride was supposedly brought to Universal years ago by a former WDI Imagineer...no need to say that WDI was not happy...
But the Ratatouille ride at DLP's Walt Disney Studios will be more than a sophisticated ride. In fact it's a whole Parisian area that will be build. From a typical parisian path starting on the right of Toy Story Playland - yes, the big boxes that DLP fans recently noticed with the word "Ratatouille" on the top are full of artifacts to theme this path which will be lay with cobblestones like the one you still can walk on in some of Paris streets. And when WDS guests will arrive in the Ratatouille area they will find not only the attraction itself but a shop, a small plaza, probably a Paris backdrop painting and even eventually rest-rooms all themed in a perfect parisian style. A restaurant would be perfectly logical in a Ratatouille area but nothing is confirmed yet on that one.
Talking about parisian style the queue area of the attraction should be perfectly themed as the queue line decor will put the guests on the rooftops of Paris with breathtaking height feeling, thanks to forced perspective. At least that's how it was envisioned by Imagineers one year ago and if WDI Imagineers didn't changed their plans for the queue decor - which sometime happen to reduce the costs - it should be a perfect introduction to the ride. An interesting fact about the queue area is that it will be designed for a pretty long queue. Don't panic, it doesn't mean that you'll have to wait hours before boarding in the vehicle, but Imagineers who always know how successful will be an attraction can estimate how long the queue might be and theme the queue area on this appraisal. To give you an idea, the queue of WDS Crush Coaster was designed for a 45 minutes queue but the attraction is so successful that the queue always start outside the ride entrance. Without any doubt DLP Imagineers have learned from this and the queue area for Ratatouille should be designed for a longer queue, which means more theming before you board in Ratatouille vehicles, and this is generally good news.
As what will happen during the ride itself, and although the ride is of course inspired by Pixar's movie, as i told you in my article posted in July 2009 it should not be a dark ride which will follow the chronological order of the movie scenes (like Snow White or Pinnochio rides)...but i can tell you that WDS guests should be immersed in some of the movie key scenes.
I told you at the opening that works already began and it's right. And i'm not talking only of the path leading to the Ratatouille area but about the ride location which will be behind the costuming building where until recently stand trees, part of a little wood. As you will see on the pictures below posted recently on the Disney Central Plaza forum most of the trees have been cut and by the end of the summer - or 2010 last quarter - foundations works should begin.
The last question is of course the opening date. As i told you above this 20th Anniversary is the one of the first park but the WDS are such a problem that DLP's second gate have the E-Ticket ride priority. Mind you, it doesn't mean necessarily that the ride will open in April 2012 (i remind you that April 12 is the park's opening anniversary date). Just like they did for the 15th Anniversary when Tower of Terror opened only in December 2007 and not April, the Ratatouille dark ride might open later. Why that you ask? Well, it's mainly an accountancy trick: Disneyland Paris fiscal year always ends in September. Which means that an attraction which opens after September 30th, 2012, will be counted in the 2013 budget and fiscal year. Of course, as it always take two years to build a big E-Ticket part of the budget is spent before the opening of the attraction, but probably a big part - and i'm talking here about WDI's invoice to DLP - is probably paid when the attraction is complete, which by the way would be logical. With an opening at the end of 2012 instead of April 2012 most of the budget will be count in DLP's 2013 fiscal year instead of 2012 fiscal year. And, as there is probably new parade or shows also envisioned for the 20th, not to mention other projects like the big World of Disney store, all of them having a cost, it might have some sense on an accountancy point of view to delay a bit Ratatouille's opening to have a big part of the attraction cost counted on the 2013 budget and fiscal year. My guess is that Ratatouille might open late 2012 if not in April 2013 to boost again the 20th Anniversary celebration. In this case, may be Star Tours 2 might open in 2012 as its cost will be much less expensive than the Ratatouille ride and as it is also difficult to consider a 20th Anniversary without no new attraction at all. But i sincerely hope DLP fans will not have to wait that long if we don't want them to become hysterical!
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Pictures: copyright Disney, Disney Central Plaza
All my thanks to Disney Central Plaza for some of the pictures.