Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Disneyland Paris that never was - Part one

Hello all. Here is the first part of a four part articles about the "Disneyland Paris that never was".
As you know, when WDI imagineers begin to think about a new park or attraction, the phase one is call “blue sky” , everything in this phase one can be imagined, as there is still no limit that the future budget will put inevitably. Then , from the blue sky , comes the comeback to earth , and choices must be done . Mind you, it’s not that the imagineers love to do some “cut” in their wonderful concepts, as they are always pleased to enhance any project, or put more theming details when it’s possible . The best example is tokyo disney sea, although, even in this one some choices had to be done , i.e wth the “Voyages of Sindbad attraction as the first concept looked more like pirates of caribbean with man-size real audio-animatronic than the actual one with its oriental “small world puppet” theming.
To come back to DLP, and although the budget for the park, back in 1990 , was high, the imagineers had to make choices. Most of the time, they’ve kept the best. Sometime, as we will see, the project they had in mind was really too expensive...others were not really that expensive, but the park’s management obviously decided to do some “cut”.
It’s always the same thing when we look at renderings of “never done “ projects: we want this one to be built immediately! .........and we forget that what we already have is great! So, most of these coming projects will never exist, although, as they say at WDI “a good idea never die”. Let’s just dream about them, leave your mind enter the art-work and imagine that it’s real.

To begin by the beginning, the first picture show you a model of the park, and, that’s how it looks before the imagineers decided to add Autopia, with the disneyland paris hotel at the entrance.

Now, this first rendering show you a pretty different entrance, with two small lake where the fantasia gardens are now, and a big one at the bottom with a wharf and a boat where now stands a big boulevard.

the next one is a “winter” version of the previous one, where imagineers have imagined the small lake frozen , and where people can do ice-skating on them ( Actually, this is possible in front of the New York hotel , so all is not lost )

This town square rendering shows main street entrance with coconut trees....probably somebody forgot to tell the artist that paris weather was not exactly the same than the one in florida...!

Here we come to the really interesting one. It’s not very known, but we were at two fingers to get a really different main street than the actually, regular one. Instead to have a “turn of the century” theming, imagineers had designed a main street set up at the 20’s-30’s , ruled by gangsters, jazz, cinema, with a totally different design.

The imaginers envisioned an elevated tramway going all along main street and inside the arcades. This would have been great, and it’s the kind of idea that we would love to see it real.

However, it’s also the perfect example that “good ideas never die” as this elevated tramway was finally the other side of the world, in the new york area of tokyo disney sea !

Always in that 30’s theming , a luxurious and art-deco restaurant , a kind of private“club 33” located behind the Main Street Transportation Co. building, would have give you the feeling you’re dining on a train.

And a tribute to cinema would have been done with a circle-vision theater inside a classic 1920’s cinema located on main street.

Inside discovery arcade, here is an early walk-through concept that would have been dedicated to automats - early mechanical figures, full of real antiques. This one could still be done one day with the will of the park’s management, as it should not cost millions of dollars - although antiques are not that cheap...

Some time, it’s a shop concept that disappeared, like this early concept rendering for a Main Street confectionery

In frontierland, most of the original concepts were realized, but sometime , small changes makes big difference. Take this early model of Phantom manor, for instance. Next to the manor you can see a barn where now instead stands a totally different queue building.

But what i miss the most is the great voice of Vincent Price who was recorded - as Phantom Manor ghost host. For a little while , at the opening of the park , visitors were welcomed by Price’s voice, until it was realised that this only english version was not understand by the french audience.....But the ghost laughs that you can hear during the ride are still Vincent Price laughs! A little story about the recording session: when it was recorded , Vincent Price was already at the end of his life , and really tired, physically speaking. So, the agreement was that Price could come for the recording , but just for one hour. Everything was ready, and Price arrived at the recording studio. He look really tired and everybody hoped that he could do it right....then he begin to read the text, and , all of a sudden , it was magical. A few takes were done, and that was it! Probably one of the last thing that Vincent Price did with all his genius. However, all is not lost , as this recording was released on the Haunted mansion anniversary cd , that you can still find easily.

In the next article, we will talk about the Adventureland and Fantasyland that never was, so stay tuned on Disney and more!

Most of the renderings that you saw here are coming from my book “Disneyland Paris, from sketch to reality” who tell you all about the creation of the park, thanks to 750 pictures of the park including 250 renderings, and a great text by Didier Ghez.
You can order easily the book to me or through Amazon, see on the right column how to do it.

All artwork and photos: copyright Disney


Arthur said...

I'm looking forward to your other three posts about this, very interesting stuff. How exciting it must be as an imagineer working on a new theme park in its "blue sky" phase, where everything is still possible. A 30's-themed Main Street would have been great, but I love how it turned out and the Liberty and Discovery Arcades are beautiful.

NotesfromtheBarn said...

Fascinating stuff. Very interesting and informative and beautifully illustarted