"Disneyland Paris and Lucasfilm have already worked together on attractions involving Captain EO, Star Tours and Indiana Jones. These are countless opportunities for both teams to work together in the future and we hope that this will continue. It is actually something that we are looking into, but there is nothing concrete right now." With these words Philippe Gas during a round table meeting with DLP stockholders last week, probably involuntarily, has transformed what was until now the "Star Wars Land rumor" in a true project for Disneyland Paris. So, it's now official, DLP Imagineering is indeed working on a Star Wars Land for the back of Discoveryland and from what i've been told DLPI even envision two phases, and the phase 1 as i told you in a previous article some months ago will see the update to Star Tours 2, a Jedi Academy inside what is now Captain EO theater, a Starcade, and the arrival of the Cantina bar/restaurant, probably located where is now the Pizza Planet restaurant behind Space Mountain. I think they will probably keep the big space available on the left of Star Tours, between Star Tours and It's a Small World where is currently the VIP Tent used during DLP special events for the Phase Two of the project, but that's just my thoughts.
However, you'll note that Philippe Gas, during this event didn't mentioned a date but it doesn't mean that this Star Wars Land won't happen. For many reasons i still place my bets on this project, first because they know they can't stay with the original version of Star Tours forever, two, because they don't know what to do with the Captain EO theater, and three, because the Star Wars episode 7 is announced for 2015, not to mention the spin-off movies also announced by Bob Iger last week, based on Star Wars characters. There is no one good reason that DLP won't built this Star Wars land except of course the money reason but don't worry, they will find the money.
And if you want to know why, here is why and it's pretty simple: as you know the WDC announced last september that they will do a loan of 1.3 billion to Disneyland Paris to help DLP refinance its debt. In two words, now instead to owe this huge amount of money to the banks DLP owes it to the WDC. Also, the WDC acquired recently LucasFilm for 4 billion dollars. And you don't need to be a genius to understand that Bob Iger surely wants to have a return both on the LucasFilm investment and get back the money of the loan that the WDC did to DLP. And guess what? the both are linked. Iger surely wants some Star Wars lands in Disney theme parks and DLP precisely need one to boost the park attendance to be able to give back the money that they owe to the WDC. Eventually, if DLP results are not good enough to finance Star Wars land the WDC probably will need to "give" them the money to do it but as i've said, don't worry, they'll find it.
Now, what else did Philippe Gas talked about during this stockholder event. In the "attraction section" he revealed that Walt Disney Studios next ride - after Ratatouille - won't be a Pixar ride. It's an interesting news as last year Gas mentioned that another ride based on Toy Story characters was envisioned for the WDS. Everybody understood that he was probably talking about Toy Story Mania, so we know now that TSM will not be the next WDS ride, although it might come later. Talking about Ratatouille Philippe Gas also said that the ride will be exceptional with big capacity per hour and that a shop will also be built - in addition to the restaurant - next to the ride. He also added that the ride should make the guests hungry, and it's probably in relation with the fact that a big part of the ride is supposed to happen inside Gusteau's kitchen.
What else for the Walt Disney Studios? Oh, something big, but this one was not mentioned by Philippe Gas so we still have to consider it as a rumor: apparently DLPI have the project to transform WDS Backlot in a Marvel land. Considering that this part of the park is probably the one which needs the most a big placemaking i think you can also put your bets on this Marvel Land project. Which by the way is not called like this inside DLP but under the ( code? ) name of "Marvel Experiences". What kind of "experiences", you ask? I'm sorry to say that i have no more infos on this one, except that there is a rumor that Spiderman might be part of it, but no info if Spidey will come as a ride or anything else ( but of course it won't be the IOA ride which is Universal property ). Anyway, i have some thought about these Marvel Experiences but what is coming next is pure personal prospective.
My feeling is that, partly for money reasons, they might do a mix of new rides with a re-theming of existing rides. For instance, if this Marvel Land is built i think that the Armaggedon attraction is probably doomed and would be replaced by a new ride - why not the Avengers ride on which WDI Imagineers are supposed to be working on for Disneyland's Tomorrowland - if it's not moved to an Anaheim third gate? As for the Rock and Roller Coaster they could also remove it and put a brand new ride but i wouldn't be surprised if instead DLP Imagineers would imagine a brand new theming, with a new storyline, etc...and keep the coaster. No need to say that the former Backlot Express restaurant in front of it would get a Marvel theming, too. For the Lights, Motors, Action stunt show it's different. This one is a real big one, taking a lot of space and although they could create a totally different story and change the Meditterranean facades of the decor for new ones inspired by the Marvel universe, i'm not 100% sure they will choose to do it. Considering the huge space, they could be tempted to use it for something new but the cost might be also too high and may be they will simply re-theme the show and create new stunts which probably will cost less. Again, these are just my thoughts, i'm probably wrong and i don't doubt that DLP Imagineers have totally different plans - and better ones - for these "Marvel Experiences". But as long as these won't be Marvel photo locations only, i'll be okay with them.
Philippe Gas also announced others interesting things and about the Disney Village area he apparently said that the World of Disney store was just the first step of what will be a big placemaking of the Disney Village which will continue to change and expand. The Villages Nature project is another big one that DLP is doing with real estate co Pierre et Vacances as well as water parks co Center Parks. I will come back later this week on this one with a big update and you'll be surprised to see how big the project is for DLP even if it won't be a theme park.
DLP also envision to bring the controversial Magic+ Magic Band at DLP and also to extend the Christmas season as they realized that the russian Christmas is happening later in January - yes, more and more Russians are traveling to France and go to DLP!
Finally, Philippe Gas said that the re-financing of the company ( thanks to the WDC, see above ) is a big opportunity for DLP and we certainly do agree with him, don't we?
O-Kay, that's all for today , see you soon with a big update about the Villages Nature project and in the meantime those of you who are interested by the great Disneyland Paris From Sketch to Reality book might have a look at the presentation article on the book web site HERE. And you can order it with $45 / 35€ special discount by using the Paypal button below!
Important Note: We're running low of the ENGLISH collector's edition copies of the book and we know that soon the english collector's edition will be sold out. If you don't own the book yet and wish to order a copy please do it as soon as possible!
Order your copy of the acclaimed Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to Reality book while there is still copies available! You'll find all infos to order an ENGLISH edition HERE and for the FRENCH edition it's HERE. Watch below the video showing the whole book!
Pictures: copyright Disney or Disney and more