Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Disneyland Paris Update

What's new about Disneyland Paris future? DLP fans are desperately waiting for an official announcement of the Ratatouille dark ride, Star tours 2, and more. Next year will be DLP 20th Anniversary and chances are that no new attraction will open in 2012. Of course the park have scheduled to celebrate the 20th and you can count on different events including a new show which is supposed to have dazzling never-seen-before visual effects but in terms of rides i will not bet on anyone, except if DLP execs change their mind very soon about Star tours 2 and finally decide to bring the ST 2 at DLP Discoveryland.

However, recently, two interesting rumors appeared on the web. The first one is basically saying that the banks - the famous banks who accept or not to deliver to DLP the needed amount of money to build new attractions - decided that they won't give anymore money and that it was time for the WDC to bring some cash to DLP. DLP fans discussed this rumor on forums and one of the reason - if this rumor is true as i remind you it's still only a rumor - might be because of the bank crisis. It's true that European banks, and specially French banks, are going through pretty difficult times right now so this might be a good reason, although they could also take this "bank crisis" as alibi to don't deliver new cash to DLP...

Anyway, here comes the second rumor and this one as you will see is more interesting. Apparently a Mice Chat member discussed about DLP - and specially WDS future - with a WDI Imagineer at the D23 Expo and here is what he's saying:

"I finally got SOME news on France after coercing (ok, waterboarding ) the right Imagineer. Turns out the situation is eerily similar to ours. You have a great park (DL) in some level of disrepair which is being plussed up at the approach of its birthday and you’ve got a second gate (WDSP instead of DCA) which has been under-performing and although it has received a few new ride (like ToT, we did too) and some smaller ones (the whole Toy Story playplace like we got Monster’s Inc) which triggered some ‘place-making’, it’s still not ‘winning’ like Charlie Sheen would say…

… so what do you do?

… well, that’s kinda why John Lasseter was visiting your WDS recently. He made the same argument about the lack of cohesive theming, the lack of character and the necessity for a large place-making project. In fact, the Imagineers already have an overall re-design similar to what they have for DCA. Yep, a big big deal

However, between the economic situation in Europe and the non finished work in the US (includiing the two major expansions on both coast), it is a matter of spreading themselves too thin. At the same time, the argument is being made for it being almost the best time for such an investment.

Bottom line: keep your fingers crossed for a major announcement from Tom Staggs closer to the end of the year, as the overall 20th of DLP gets on the way.

Or not .

But it is there RIGHT NOW, just laying on ice for a little while longer…"

If the story is right it will be indeed a good news, and if it's not that's exactly what the WDC should do as soon as possible, i.e a huge placemaking at the WDS just like they did one at DCA. In fact, i don't think there is any other solution, the WDS desperately need a kind of "Marshall Plan" to resolve the problem once and for all. Right now the WDC must pay for DCA placemaking as well as WDW New Fantasyland, not to mention Shanghaî Disneyland and the Avatar project so may be DLP fans will have to wait a bit more but next year DCA and WDW NF will be almost finished and in 2013 the WDC might have some fresh cash available for DLRP.

There is another good argument in favor of this placemaking rumor and it's the now official departure of Bob Iger in 2015 ( even if Iger will stay at the Disney board until 2016 ). My guess is that Iger will be pleased to resolve all the problems due the end of Eisner era before leaving the company. In two words, Eisner has been the one who almost destroyed the company and Iger the one who would have saved it. My feeling is that this rumor is true and that sometime next year Tom Staggs and DLP CEO Philippe Gas might announce this WDS placemaking, but considering the hard times for the world economy as long as it is not announced officially it's better to consider it as "one more rumor".

Now, do i have some news more reliable than rumors? Yes, i do, and the latest news i've got about Ratatouille is that a final announcement - read: decision - is awaited before the end of this year. Note that it doesn't mean that the decision will be necessarily the one expected by DLP fans, it means that a decision will be taken and announced and you better cross your fingers that it will be positive. However, even if Ratatouille was confirmed officially in two months don't expect an opening in 2012 and not even in 2013 as it was previously envisioned. DLP Imagineers need two years to build the whole Ratatouille area - and test the new ride - and this will put the Ratatouille opening in 2014 or late 2013 with a bit of luck.

About the WDS placemaking, now. Yes, the project indeed exist as well as a rendering showing the vision of WDI Imagineers ( don't ask me, i don't have it ) and apparently it looks great. All what the park needs now is money - as usual. About Star Tours 2, it's a bit more complicated. As i've told you in a previous update DLP execs are a bit reluctant to bring it right now at DLP, mainly because of the cost of ST2 ( estimated around $50 M ) as for the same price they can have a brand new dark ride. They're also afraid that the investment don't bring more visitors to the park, like it happened with Space Mountain Mission 2 or the comeback of Captain EO which has been for them a not-so-good experience on a business point of view.

All this is perfectly understandable and unfortunately a news that i had recently might reinforce DLP execs in their fear about the ST2 investment. Apparently - and although Star Tours 2 is acclaimed by DL and WDW visitors - the attraction update didn't bring more guests inside the parks. At least not enough to be considered as a major increase in parks attendance. If this is true - and it has yet to be confirmed - that's not only a bad news for DL and WDW but also for DLP as Philippe Gas might be more reluctant than ever to spend the needed amount for ST2. However, Tokyo Disneyland has apparently decided to update their own Star Tours so DLP will not escape to ST2 sooner or later, hopefully as soon as possible, and of course i will keep you updated. In the meantime, just pray that this WDS placemaking becomes a reality!

Pictures: copyright Disney


SP said...


as always your point on view and in fact your clear understanding of all of this is interesting.

But, for the simple minds like me, can you tell me if we can expect any new attraction at one of the two parks for the 20th birthday (either the first or the second year) ?

Thanks again for your amazing job, it's always a pleasure to read your articles (and especially the archives your bringing up every weekend !)

Alain Littaye said...

Dear SP, to answer your question in a simple way: No, there should not be any new rides at DLP or the WDS during the 20th anniversary next year.

Anonymous said...

Per Star Tours, I completely understand why it hasn't brought in more visitors--especially at WDW. What fans of Star Wars want is what fans of Harry Potter got: an entire land/world dedicated to that franchise. Lucas has built many worlds and places to explore, and so far, there's one ride. Yes, it's been updated. But so what--it was 20 years old--it should have been updated.

As someone who loves Star Wars, and has ridden the new version of Star Tours, all I can say is, it's nice. I'm glad they updated it. But would I stand in another hour-long line to ride it? No. DLP can wait for a new Star Tours, and be fine, especially if they get Ratatouille, or place-making, instead.

(And to go further off-topic, if Eisner and Staggs had announced Star Wars land at DHS instead of Avatar land at DAK, they would have been reaping the rewards of praise from fans and analysts alike.)

will said...

let's face it: star tours is and always will be a plain flight simulator. I LOVE IT. however, it had its time and i can understand that this kind of ride does not attract many more guests... they should combine a coller coaster and a simulator :)
i prefer DLP keeping the vintage 80s version and keeping that nostalgic 80s feel alive. they should invest in a new fantasyland darkride or something for that plot in adventureland... but most important of all: keep the park and resort well maintained and fix the village! bring back the all american theme and restore gehry's master piece of entertainment architecture.....

Anonymous said...

"God always gives his answer, but it's not always yes!" In some ways it's sad that an investor like Oriental Land Company is not a partner in Paris Disneyland. One that keeps the maintenance at Old School Disney levels, and invests in it's park like Tokyo Disney Seas, even when the belt is tight and the rice is low. I agree that there will be many more kids wearing Star Wars costumes than Avitar this Halloween, except at the Playboy Mansion. R1

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

The Walt Disney Co should really put more money in DLP, instead of building new resorts, because even tough Europe is in a big crisis, it's still an extremely important market, that has over 300 million people with still one of the highest per capita income in the world, besides, Paris is the city that receives more tourists in the world, if I'm not mistaken, and the park may attract a good portion of those tourists if it's updated and relevant.

I also don't think that there's another solution for DSP besides of what they're doing at DCA (hope that the company learns the lesson!), things like Toy Story playland won't solve the problem, just like bugs land did not solve the problem in California.

Of course SM mission 2 did not bring more guests to the park, they simply ruined that great attraction, what did they expect?! And Star Tours 2 may not greatly increase the park attendance, but it keeps the park updated and relevant, and by doing that it prevents attendance from decreasing, just like park maintenance.

Thanks very much for the update Alain!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great update!
Do you know anything more about the rumoured Pirates-update? Is it also cancelled for the 20th anniversary?

Anonymous said...

I just don't see it.

Building a Ratatouille ride sounds great, and sure there's already some theming in place for it, but... why build a stylized Paris, a short train-ride from the real thing? And, the last thing that park needs is more 'toons.

I say, build something Tron-styled in WDS. It wouldn't really fit in Discoveryland. Move back the loading area for the tram tour, and open up the London backlot for guests to walk around in. Mix in some kind of Muppet attraction (4D, next-gen, or even just a meet-and-greet), and it would really flesh-out the Studio concept. They could even build a New York street populated with Marvel characters (Spider-Man, et al), since the licensing agreements aren't there like in America. THAT would shake things up a lot.

Then, hey, in a few years, you can build the Ratatouille ride. But another Toon addition should not be the next thing on their docket.

Anonymous said...

Where did you get the news that Tokyo Disneyland will upgrade its Star Tours?

Alain Littaye said...

Insider source, as usual. Usually reliable. I'll try to know more and double check.

Dutchduck said...

I find it sad, there is so little reason to revisit DLP. I was really disappointed two years ago that nothing new had been build since the last time I had been there (2006).
WDS has one good (TOT) and one really nice (Crush's Coaster) attraction but that is about it. I am very interested in themeparks but the next Disneypark I'll visit the next coming years will be WDW and not DLP.