Here is an article for those of you who think that there is nothing new happening at Disneyland Paris, except parks renovations, and it is about DLP Villages Nature, the huge project currently being built and scheduled, to open next year if there is no delay. Strangely, i thought i did an article about Villages Nature before until i realized that it was not the case, so it was about time doing one about this major DLP project on which WDI Imaginers also worked, as you'll see. This article is in two parts the first one will show you the project with infos and concept-arts coming from the official site, and the second part include insiders infos that you won't find on the official site. And, good news, i have two great exclusive pictures of the construction site for you.
First, Villages Nature is located six kilometers from Disneyland Paris park, on the other side of the highway and next door to Disneyland Paris Davy Crockett Ranch.
So, what is Villages Nature, you ask? Well, in the early 2000s, Euro Disney was about to open DLP second theme park, Walt Disney Studios, in 2002 and started to think about a new tourist destination. Meanwhile Pierre & Vacances a famous french real estate company has just decided to build an Adagio Aparthotel in Val d’Europe, the town developed by Euro Disney. The two groups started talking and before long the seed is sown for an all new project, one based on the values of Nature, education, sport and innovation.
In 2003, Euro Disney created a research firm as an equal joint venture with Pierre & Vacances – which has just acquired Dutch group Center Parcs – to study the possibility of building ‘nature villages’ near Disneyland Paris and Val d’Europe. The site for the project is identified based on its specific geographic, geological, topographic and scenic characteristics, including large tracts of forest, a major underground geothermal aquifer and excellent transport access. These factors were considered crucial to achieve the project’s goals of sustainable development, interaction with Nature and pan-European attractiveness.
More from the official site: "Villages Nature applies the principles of sustainable development in both its concept and its operations, while reinventing the guest experience around joy, wonder and reconnection. Sustainable development is an attitude. It’s an optimistic way of looking at the world that comes from immersion in the amazing possibilities created when Man and Nature work together.
This experience will be transformative, inspiring guests to participate in their communities and change things together, one step at a time. It will invite them to imagine a better world – a dream that is already within reach, here and now. This is an innovative, optimistic, responsible vision for tourism that is better adapted to the planet’s new environmental challenges.
Villages Nature represents a new era of environmental tourism projects that can meet all the requirements for preserving sensitive natural areas and the biodiversity they harbour.
Villages Nature vision of sustainable development is based on three pillars:
Celebration and protection of Nature, not just as an obligation but out of a desire to continue enjoying it with all our senses, in all its seasons
Imagination, because sustainable development also means being able to look at our environment differently and enjoy unexpected experiences, either alone or with others
Proximity, because Villages Nature is made possible by its unique location connecting the outskirts of Paris and the spectacular wooded ranges of Seine-et-Marne
At Villages Nature, less than 10% of the total site is made up of buildings, and even they seem to flow into the surrounding plant life, generously incorporating natural elements such as wood, green walls and hanging gardens.
Villages Nature began with a question: What does it take to completely switch off and escape the daily grind, when there’s limited time available? It was important to make it immediately clear that Villages Nature is another world where Man and Nature are intricately connected, a new world where the human-made and the nature-made work together seamlessly.
Design movements from the early 20th century such as Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau and Jugendstil, which were greatly influenced by the natural world and saw architecture as a way to connect Man and Nature, enhancing Nature in the process
More contemporary designs, in particular those by:
American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who coined the term ‘organic architecture’
Austria’s Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the visionary artist of green architecture who designed the famous Krawina Haus in Vienna
Their aim has been not just to make Nature central to architecture once again, but to take the concept even further. This was how the concept of incorporating plants into the very architecture was born, giving pride of place to natural materials such as wood, green walls and hanging gardens. This innovative architectural design gives Villages Nature a unique ability to change with the seasons and offer different pleasures as the year progresses.
The project’s artistic direction is a collaboration between:
Walt Disney Imagineering, the division responsible for designing Disney theme parks and hotels worldwide, led by Senior Vice President Joe Rohde
French landscape architect and urban planner Thierry Huau, founder and Managing Director of Interscène, which designed the nature amusement park Terra Botanica in Angers, France
To design its recreational facilities and creative residences, Villages Nature turned to three shining stars of French architecture:
Jacques Ferrier, designer of the French Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Fair, for the Aqualagoon pyramid
Jean de Gastines, who helped design Center Parcs and collaborated with Shigeru Ban on the eco-design of the Centre Pompidou-Metz, for the cottages and apartments
Lionel de Segonzac for the Farm . All three worked closely with WDI Imagineer Joe Rohde and Thierry Huau to turn the Villages Nature dream into a strong, inspiring representation of the original concept.
Flowers and vines tumble gracefully down from the balconies overlooking the Lakeside Promenade. The Hanging Gardens embody the garden metaphor that is at the core of the destination’s concept, and provide a verdant background for lakeside activities. Thierry Huau and Jean de Gastines brought their talents together to create this architectural and environmental delight stretching some 20 metres high, which turns the four-storey buildings of ‘Bulle’ apartments into a vertical garden. Covered in green and divided into four separate blocks, the apartments simply merge into the landscape.
The Hanging Gardens feature plants not only on the building facades but also on their roofs, as well as towering trees on the terraces. At the foot of it all, the Lakeside Promenade is dotted with shops and theme restaurants that will provide plenty of entertainment all day long and well into the evening.
And now let's talk about Village Nature "Attractions": Yes, Villages Nature do have attractions but don't expect "rides" here as it is a different kind of attractions that will await the guests.
The Aqualagoon is the most awaited one and is in fact two attractions in one. The 2,500 m² open-air Lagoon, heated to over 30°C for year-round swimming, is connected to one of Europe’s largest indoor water parks (9,000 m²). The park’s iconic pyramid design is the creation of architect Jacques Ferrier.
Sunny and southwest-facing, the geothermal Lagoon features waterfalls and eddies where young and old alike can splash, play and experience new sensations in every season. Although separate from the Lake, the Lagoon seems to extend out into it. An ‘active river’ winds its way from the centre of the Water Park out to the Lagoon, bringing with it a rush of thrills and surprises.
Cascading down the pyramid’s tiers into plant-edged pools, the water makes its way from the Water Park to the Lagoon before emptying into the Lake. Geothermal energy offers Villages Nature guests a sensory experience that is unique in Europe. Relax, renew, play and push your limits in these water features inspired and heated by the Dogger’s energy.
As the aquifer’s water is unsuitable for swimming due to its corrosive nature, the Aqualagoon is filled by the potable water system of the local Val d’Europe municipality, which includes the towns of Bailly-Romainvilliers, Chessy, Coupvray, Magny-le-Hongre and Serris. No groundwater bodies will be tapped.
Beneath the Hanging Gardens, the Lakeside Promenade is the centre of life at Villages Nature. Guests can enjoy a wealth of shopping and dining options, stroll along the boardwalk and enjoy views of the Aqualagoon and Lake. The restaurants and shops offer new culinary and taste experiences featuring fresh, local, organic seasonal products.
This expansive walkway stretching along the entire northern bank of the lake is also the natural route to the Aqualagoon.
The Lakeside Promenade also offers indoor spaces for gathering in the evenings or in inclement weather:
The Kids Club, where our youngest guests can enjoy fun activities, sports and arts and crafts
The Bowling Alley, for lively afternoons and evenings with friends and family
The Playhouse, where guests of all ages can relax and play in a laid-back space that incorporates a lounge/café and a library
At the centre of Villages Nature, the Lake offers a variety of boating activities allowing guests to relax, explore the beautiful surroundings or get a closer look at the plant and animal life. They can rent rowboats, pedal boats and small electric boats from the Enchanted Forest dock on the south bank of the Lake.
The Farm at Villages Nature is much more than a petting farm. It is educational and interactive, with a production element as well. It can be managed by any local farmer interested in sharing his or her love of animals and the earth, perhaps in cooperation with other farms in the region.
Local architect Lionel de Segonzac has created an authentic Farm inspired by those of the Brie region, where the entire family can experience and interact with the animals, crops and traditional local products. Children and adults alike can enter the animals’ pens, feed them, pet them and help care for them. The adventure continues in the orchard or the vegetable garden, and in fun educational activities about products such as milk, apples and berries. These are experiences that engage all the senses.
Guests can also come to the Farm at any time of the day to sample simple meals made from fresh, natural products. Kids can play to their hearts’ content in the Barn’s huge playground while their parents look on, and at the Pony Club they can rent ponies for rides through the surrounding pastures and woods. Naturally the Farm has a Market attached, where Villages Nature guests can meet local producers and sample traditional Brie cuisine.
But there is more and it is "The Enchanted Forest": Children ages 2-14 will love the Enchanted Forest, a fantastical world created around the legends and spirits of the forest. Rope bridges, nets, tunnels, caves, platforms and treehouses built at different heights transform 6.2 acres (2.5 ha) of woods into a magical realm. Hours of fun and enchantment await in this unforgettable adventure. The Enchanted Island also has its own restaurant, which opens onto the Lake at its southern tip, and a mini golf course in the woods.
Everyone wishing to live at Villages Nature can buy a "cottage", as they call them, and as it is said above all have been done to include them in the vegetation.
Let's move now to the second part of this article with infos that you won't find on the official site: First, as you've read above Villages Nature use Geothermics. In fact, Villages Nature water park is heated thanks to hot water located deep under ground. And this natural hot water is coming through a one mile deep pipe going deep under earth to find hot water bubble located at this depth. The pipe was drilled in at 70 meters a day which is quite a lot in current standards. Actually there are in fact two pipes, one at 94 degrees for getting the water out, and one for returning the water at a temperature of 34-37 degrees. This natural hot water will heat all of Villages Nature and since recently the connection was made with Disneyland Paris for heating 40% of DLP Hotels!
Above: a panoramic picture of the Aqualagoon currently under construction.
The Children’s farm located quite near the currently build main entrance has a food plaza in it where children can work with animals and handle fresh products which they can cook and eat at the food plaza. This was decided recently because in a recent poll it turned out that the french children could not even draw a leek because they don't know anymore where products and dairy are coming from!
Villages Nature which is equaly shared by Pierre & Vacances and EDL at 50/50 select the retailers which will be inside Villages Nature shopping part. These need to meet Villages Nature standards to "fit" into the storyline and have a "Nature" public appearance. The companies in the park shopping part are all special and need to be in line with the story - in two words: you won't find a McDonalds at Villages Nature!
Above, a view of the shopping area of Villages Nature currently under construction.
A variety of show elements will be displayed over the water park and the beach side as well as on the shopping area.
They go really the distance on saving as much trees as possible, and they even removed the main entrance for just one tree! It is really important that current nature status stays in place as much as it can be.
The exact opening date has not been announced yet but Phase One of Villages Nature should open between May and July 2017. The reason for withholding the exact date is apparently because they want to have the latest reports on all works and building companies before announcing it.
There might be a "special" 3 day offer in the tryout phase early next year for around 50 euros for DLP hotels guests, but this needs to be confirmed.
Villages Nature is really a huge project in the leisure industry, it is truly one of industries finest and groundbreaking parks.
Villages Nature is really a huge project in the leisure industry, it is truly one of industries finest and groundbreaking parks.
And that's it for this Villages Nature special article. I hope you are as excited as me to discover this whole new part of DLP which, even if it won't be a theme park, should be really enjoyable!
Pictures: copyright Villages Nature