Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Disneyland Paris Frontierland Stunt Show that never was

Recently, i found on the excellent Mark Taft Insights and Sounds web site this rendering below. It's labelled "EDL - for Euro Disneyland which means that this concept-art was done in the early 90's when the park was still called by this name. And it shows the facade of a stunt show arena envisioned for DLP's Frontierland - a "western" stunt show, of course.

In his article Mark was wondering "How seriously was a stunt show for Frontierland considered?" and hoped that i may have the answer as i am the one who wrote the book about the park.

Unfortunately, Mark's article was posted in March 2008 and i am a little bit late for the answer! However, i asked Jeff Burke who was Frontierland's show-producer if he ever heard about this project. And here is his answer:

"I don't recognize this specific illustration, but there were discussions, after the Park had opened in 1992, to build a stunt show arena where the Chapparal Stage now stands. The discussions of Frontierland's own stunt showplace ended when operations said it would be too much of a repetition of the "Buffalo Bill Wild West Show" in Downtown Disney."

Another former imagineer friend sent to me these additionnal infos: "There were a number of discussions concerning a live western show in Frontierland, including a small rodeo which was not done due to the strict animal protection laws in France. This is why the animals in the original petting zoo were moved behind a fence after opening so that the guests could only pet an animal when it approached the guest on its own.

As to the stunt show, this was developed under the Entertainment department on their own rather than Imagineering which was probably why it was not well known. An outside consultant was brought in and I seem to remember a model might also have been done. It was essentially a comic gun fight with exploding buildings and such but, as Jeff said, it was cancelled because of the clash with the Buffalo Bill show.

After that, the Chaparral stage came into existence to house any number of live entertainment shows."

So, there we have the answer about this mysterious rendering. The park DID envisioned a stunt show in Frontierland, but they finally cancelled it because of the Disney Village dinner show - translate: if we have a stunt show in Frontierland, people won't come - and pay - for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show.

Although i must admit there is a kind of logic in their decision, i think it's a pity that a "western" stunt show don't exist in Frontierland instead of the Chapparal Stage. A western stunt show is a classic in theme parks - think about the Universal's Wild Wild West stunt show - and it would have give more life in the back of Frontierland...

And you, what do you think about this Frontierland stunt show that never was?

Artwork: copyright Disney

Many thanks to Mark Taft for this interesting rendering. I strongly suggest you to have a look on Mark's site Insights and Sounds, it's always interesting with rare pictures or renderings and Mark is posting new articles almost every day!


Alwax said...

I loved the Wild Wild Wild West Stunt show. Quite possibly my favourite theme park show ever. The Performers were always hilarious, I remember seeing it one time in Florida and the one character actually grabbed my dad's video camera off him and started screaming into it when he was freaking out in the show. Something of that level would have been fantastic for DLP. It's shame that so many theme park shows these days are based on previously existing intellectual properties.

Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting for the Circle "D" Ranch Cowboy Cookouts that had been planned for the second phase. This would be much like the Disneyland Big Thunder Ranch BBQ. Thunder Mesa already had it's petting farm which Disneyland has copied a bit at the BTM Ranch. At EDL, a wagon was even purchased and put in place for the Cowboy Band to perform on while dinning outside under the stars. This would have been perfect for leading the guests into a Wild West Stunt Show.

Mark Taft said...

Thanks, Alain, for the nice comments on my blog!