Sunday, September 28, 2014

News About DLP Frontierland Mark Twain and Geysers Condition - Plus : The Missing Scenes That Frontierland Imagineers Had Envisioned For The Rivers of the Far West

If you've read my DLP update last week about DLP Frontierland Rivers of the Far West you're aware of the bad condition in which are the Mark Twain riverboat and the geysers. Due to the many outraged reactions to the article i thought i had to find more about what DLP intend to do to resolve these serious problems. And the infos that i had from an insider source who got them "from the horse's mouth" is that the park is currently doing "feasible studies on the renovation of both the Mark Twain and the geysers". Which still doesn't mean that they will renovate them for sure, but at least we know that they're thinking about doing them and all we can hope now is that the cost of these renovations won't be too high for DLP. In the meantime, the Molly Brown will have finished its three weeks renovation later this week and the Mark Twain will go back in the dry dock, as in fact when the riverboat is inside the hangar the Mark Twain is not "in" the water. 

Unfortunately I also have new pictures shot by Max - D&M contributor and DLPWelcome webmaster - yesterday and they're showing that, since i shot the pictures that you've seen last week on Sept 10 - just two and a half weeks ago - the Mark twain condition is getting worse. At Frontierland the children playground "Pocahontas Indian Village" was closed Sunday for refurbishment so Max could't access to the river bank to be shoot pictures as close as possible to the Mark Twain. But he succeeded to get a shot through the vegetation and sadly, the riverboat condition has deteriorated even more since two weeks. Part of the wood siding literally fell down, revealing the metal structure beneath. If you have a closer look to this new picture you can see that not only a part of the decorative wooden frieze is retained by the external electrical installation, but in addition another part of the woodwork is missing (see the red zone) and most probably fell down in the Rivers of America. I can't believe a Disney park let such magnificent ship literally crumbling before our eyes...

To help you to see the difference, first two pictures shot by me two weeks ago, note the red zone:

A zoom on the red zone ( picture from two weeks ago ):

And now, pictures shot yesterday Sunday by Max, of the similar zone:

Max also sent me these others pictures below shot three years ago, in November 2011. They're interesting as they show how three years ago both the Mark Twain ( picture on top or below ), the geysers and the stone arch, although not in perfect condition, were still looking better that they look today. But these photos clearly show that once the Mark Twain and geysers started to deteriorate the damage done by lack of maintenance increased the decay in just 3 years. And it certainly will continue to get worse, specially on the geysers and the Mark Twain, if nothing is done anytime soon.

Always about Rivers of the Far West, i've got something even more interesting for you, and it's about what were the original plans for the missing scenes that were supposed to be included in Rivers of the Far West after park opening. One of the scene was located on Wilderness Island and it was a trapper cabin ( house ) which would look exactly like the one in which was living the character played by Henry Fonda in How the West Was Won. It has been tough to find pictures of that scene but you have below two pictures showing the scene with Henry Fonda trapper cabin. The pics are not HD but they will give you a pretty good idea of how it will look if DLP finally decide to add it. No Audio-Animatronic figure would be included in the house but the shadow of the trapper as well as smoke coming out of the chimney could be seen, and of course trapper props all around the little house.

Always on Wilderness Island Frontierland Imagineers had envisioned to put some beavers, including a beaver "lodge"or dam.

Another scene including animals was envisioned, this time on the other side of the river, in front of Wilderness Island, not far from where guests can see these three mooses...

...and it would have been a bisons ( buffalos ) herd! The idea was to have around fifteen bisons, including some baby-bisons, and most of them would have been placed near the river's edge and two or three near the train track. I did a quick photo-montage for you to show how it will look, and placed them exactly where Frontierland Imagineers would have staged the bisons to be seen by both guests riding DLP railroad trains as well as passengers on the river's boats. 

The bisons would not be Audio-Animatronic figures - as they would froze during winter - but some of them would be mechanical figures with small motors placed in their heads and butts to have their ears and tails moving, to give "life" to the buffalos. Eventually some would also have their head slowly moving left and right. The bisons would be made in fiber glass - probably the same material than the three mooses and as you can see these are in pretty good condition after 22 years - covered by false fur, the rest of the body being paint to look like real bisons. Definitely click on the pics below to see them in big size.

Back in 1992 one of the reasons why Frontierland Imagineers thought about including a bisons herd scene was because they knew that bisons molds already existed at WDI, as a scene in Epcot "Living with the land" ride - the one below - included bisons. Interestingly, the Imagineer who was show producer on The Land pavilion at Epcot is the same one who was DLP Frontierland show-producer, i.e Jeff Burke.

The reason why these scenes were not included in Rivers of the Far West at DLP opening day was because of the cost of the Grand Canyon Diorama. The Imagineers had to save some money on the budget because the Grand Canyon Diorama show elements cost reached around $1.5 Million in 1992. And if the cost was so high it was mainly because of the french taxes which apply on the importation of stuffed animals - as all animals that you can see in the Grand Canyon Diorama are real. No animals were killed as Frontierland Imagineers found them in Arizona where someone had them since years and kindly accepted to sell them to the Imagineers. By the way, the backdrop diorama paintings were done in a 20th Century Fox studio, the same one where was painted the one for Disneyland Grand Canyon Diorama, when Walt was still alive.

What's interesting is what the cost of these missing scenes ( trapper cabin , bisons herd, beavers ) would have been, back in 1992, and it was around $400.000. Now, it probably would be around $600.000 ( 450.000 Euros ) which in fact wouldn't be that much considering the great additional show elements it would add to DLP Rivers of the Far-West. And it's probably an amount that could be affordable for Disneyland Paris, so i hope that someone at DLP Imagineering or even DLP new CEO Tom Wolber will read this article as i bet you they're not aware about these missing scenes. 

If, as it seems to be the case, DLP intend to bring back the park to its original splendor for DLP 25th Anniversary in 2017, and eventually plan to update some classic rides, these additions to the Rivers of the Far West for a rather small cost would be a great idea and indeed very welcome by all Disneyland Paris guests and fans.

Pictures: copyright Max Fan, DR


Katie said...

I really hope that the geysers are brought back to life - my first visit to DLP wasn't until 2010 so I've never seen them working myself but my family saw them once and said they were wonderful!

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

I've been going to DLP since 1992, my last visit before this week was almost five years ago and I must say that I had never seen the park in such bad conditions.
Sure, it was since a few years after the opening never as clean and the maintenance was never as good as in the other Disney Resorts, but it was also never something that bothered me; it was always only a minor issue.
This time, however, it got to a point that it really did affect my experience in the park.
I really hope that they do something about it fast, because the resort's reputation is being destroyed.

Anonymous said...

After the 1st post I emailed Tom Wolber, here is a part of the reply I received:

The renovation of the Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing is currently underway and is due to be completed by 10 October 2014. Rest assured that the team responsible for planning refurbishments have been made aware of your specific comments.

Lets hope that we see some action soon on restoration of this part of the park.

Alain Littaye said...

Dear Anonymous, thanks to have let us know about the answer you've received. What is interesting in the answer is when they're saying that "the Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing is currently underway and is due to be completed by 10 October 2014"… But they are talking in fact of the riverboat LANDING, i.e where you get aboard the riverboats in front of the Silver Spur Steakhouse restaurant, and not the Mark Twain riverboat itself!!!

also, dear anonymous, would you mind to send me an email directly at: as i'd like to talk directly with you, thanks!

Anonymous said...

If you go to this facebook you can see that disney is aware of the maitenance problem and in the last 2 years is trying to do something about it ;we must also give it some time 18 years of neglect isnt going away in a few years. And im not trying to minimalizing the problems but could it be that the imagineers had alook at your post and ripped the wood of themselfes to check the state underneat the boat in preperation of a refurbishment :) .greetings

Thorsten said...

Thanks again for a very interesting report. It´s a shame to see these ships in such a bad condition and I always have to think about what Walt would have said about this.

Just an idea: Why not let the fans like us give them some money for the restauration and you get a sign inside the ship with your name just like the stones infront of the main entrance ?

They could sell them as shares in a Western look or something like this.

I would by them !

mr.Lime said...

Although I completely agree with most of the content in this article, I can't help feeling that it misses any sense of reality. Yes of course, the Rivers of the Far West are in a totally unacceptable shape, a real disgrace for any Disney park. However, where lies the real problem? Is it a lack of money? Management not doing its job? Or is Frontierland itself the problem?

Let's face reality about Frontierland …
As a concept / idea it's wonderful (like it's described perfectly in the article). However do we live in a concept / an idea? No, absolutely not. We live (and Frontierland exists) in reality, which means …

- Frontierland is the biggest "land" of the resort, but has only one relevant attraction (BTM) today. Everything else is hopelessly outdated (PM), in a bad shape (RoFW) or just abandoned (Lucky Nugget show, Davy Crocket riverboats, Chaparral Theater, Ranch).

- The problem with the outdated PM lies deeper than a lack of modern effects. The audience's ideas of "what is scary" have changed fundamentally since 1992 (by the way, also the message in Monsters Inc.). Two solutions for contemporary audiences: make it fun like Mystic Manor, or totally scary like Tower of Terror (thanks to the element of surprise).

- Changed audience expectations also make it impossible for the Lucky Nugget Revue to return. Last year, they shortly paid tribute to it in Anaheim, and a lot of people appeared to be shocked.

- Bigger problem (especially for Disney in 2014), the land has no franchise to make it interesting for investment after the box office failure of The Lone Ranger.

- The only new additions that might give Frontierland a rebirth are water attractions (Splash Mtn., Grizzly River Run) which will never be built in DLP for "weather conditions" reasons.

- Will a huge and very costly refurbishment of Mark Twain and the geysers be any help for this land? In other words, is it worth the very big investment if you keep in mind the contemporary audience and the current Disney franchise philosophy?

In theory, they should do everything possible to save the RoFW. However, in reality, why should they even bother? DLP has hardly any money, and an impressive refurbishment "to do"-list. And after refurbishment, how long will it take for the geysers to get broken again? Does DLP even need two riverboats these days? So in reality, wouldn't it be better to get rid of Mark Twain and cover the geysers with two tons of sand and plant some flowers and trees on top?

It would be great to see Frontierland being restored in its former glory again. But sadly we don't live in 1992 anymore. I hope for the best (total refurbishment), but fear the worst (goodbye geysers and riverboat).

Colin Prijn said...

I heard that a lot more things were planned like indians and even a small village with bandits shooting at each other and so on. Bears and other things were included too.

Brian said...

Mr. live, compliments for your analyses! I think you are all right, sadly enough. It would be great to see the old state again, bit that will not be on DLP 's high priorities and. They need to make it more fit for the future. Still, I can imagine people will love the boat ride and geisers in the future, but thats not interesting in a commercial way.

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

You're analyses is really good Mr. Lime, but I completely dísagree with you about PM. It's still a great atraction and I think that it was never meant to be very scary (it wasn't in 1992 anyway). All HM are still very popular attractions and it's not because they are scary...