Sunday, December 23, 2012

Disneyland Paris : Automata-mericana , The Main Street U.S.A Attraction That Never Was

Among all the attractions that never were for Disneyland Paris, one that i miss the most is the "Automata-mericana" concept that Imagineer Eddie Sotto envisioned for Main Street U.S.A.

The idea for this one goes way back to discussions with Herb Ryman in 1988. Imagineers wanted to call it Automata-mericana. As you know Walt Disney had loved miniatures, and Animatronics began with his fascination for French Automata. As you may recall too, he had an antique mechanical bird (which Eddie Sotto paid homage in Walt's Restaurant). There was a space available on Town Square East - under the Dentist where (Franklin Electric was originally) - and that space was considered for the added capacity program the year after DLP opening ( Les Mystères du Nautilus, Indiana Jones and more were part of that ). 

On an Imagineering research trip in 1988 Imagineers had visited a funny Automata museum in Covent Garden, London, ( called Mechanical Cabaret Theater, since gone ) and they were inspired by the displays and how much people enjoyed them. The exhibit displays were not antiques, but rather new designs and it gave to Eddie Sotto the idea that Imagineers could make their own and customize them. The prescription vending beheaded doctor, "Shrunken Ned" at Disneyland Adventureland was inspired by one of the automata display there. Imagineer Eddie Johnson worked with Eddie and he came up with a series of sketches for the animated displays, each portraying life on Main Street in a funny way. Eddie Sotto recall his drawing of the Main Street cinema for one. Among these was a Barber Shop, Fire Station and Market House too, each with the Main Street "citizens" doing funny things. 

For Eddie and the Imagineers the idea was to bridge the language barrier and show rather than explain the story of American life in that time period by using intricate display animation. Budget for the "added capacity program" unfortunately ate up all of the Main Street enhancements, except for an additional Steam Train - the Eureka. Eddie would still love to build this and think it would be a crowd pleaser in a quaint way. The sepia tone artwork was a sketch above is from Eddie Sotto.

The video below show some of the actual exhibits Imagineers saw back then, in London. Done in a Disney style with a Main Street Story, they would have been a great addition, with lots of humor.

This next video shows Disneyland Adventureland "Shrunken Ned" - Eddie Sotto play his voice.

 If DLP had the budget to do it it still will be possible to add this Automata-mericana attraction where Eddie Sotto wanted to build it, so let's hope that someone at DLP will remember this great concept and will decide to add it at DLP Main Street U.S.A!

The artwork on the top is among the 250 WDI renderings that you can find in the great Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to Reality book. Until tomorrow evening you still can enjoy the $45 discount thanks to the Christmas special offer with a special price of 85 euros ( $108 )  - instead of 120€ ( $155 ) and 15€ only for shipping wherever you live on the planet! As usual you can send your payment with Paypal at:  and send your order at the same email address. Bank transfers are also possible.
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Never seen the book before? No problem, you can discover ALL the book thanks to the video below!

Artwork: copyright Disney

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