Saturday, August 2, 2008

DLP Update Part One : Miracle at Disney Village !

It's Frank Gehry - yes, the acclaimed Pritzker price architect who designed the famous Gugghenheim museum at Bilbao or the Walt Disney Concert Hall at L.A - who did the original design of the Disney Village. Disney Village, for those of you who never came to Disneyland Paris is the shopping and entertainment area of DLP - the equivalent of Downtown Disney at WDW, just smaller.

When the park opened in 1992, it looked like this original rendering, with these huge pillars covered with copper plaques. As Disney Village is close to the train station, Frank Gehry's idea was that these pillars were " the remains of a giant factory that once supplied the station with energy ".

From Gehry's original concept, most of the pillars have been removed - on this picture shoot from the balloon last year, some of them are still there, but many more have been removed since then.

As for the buildings, it is now a mix of different architecture styles which goes from the Planet Hollywood's giant bowl to the Rain Forest cafe and his giant mushrooms, not to mention the german Ludwig restaurant with a bavarian style. And i forget the big Mac Donald's with its 1960's facade. In two words, the best idea that Frank Gehry could have is to never come back at DLP to check his original creation!

Although it's almost a rule in Disney's entertainment areas to have a mix of different architectures, until recently there was another big problem at the Disney Village: the total lack of vegetation, leaving the guest in a space where metal and concrete coexisted with multicolored facades....Finally, it reached a point were i thought it was such an architectural disaster that i often say that the only good thing to do with it was to dynamite everything, and rebuild a new Disney Village !

And then, in this month of July, a miracle happened ! Somebody had the genious idea to install trees and vegetation all along the Disney Village, creating really cool spaces where for the first time since a looong time i was happy to stay and enjoy a good cold beer...It was just as simple as that: add some trees and the place miraculously become "friendly" !

As you will see on the pictures below, specially if you already know the Disney Village, this vegetation addition really changed everything. People have room to sit under the trees, The New York Style cafe now have a terrasse, the Planet Hollywood bowl is surrounded with vegetation, etc...

As a friend of mine said: the only question is " why did it took 16 years to them to have the idea? ". Now that it's done, it looks so obvious that it was the right thing to do, and let's hope that they won't stop and add more vegetation in the future. It should be the case, and it will be even better.

One last thing: a nice food cart is now installed at the exit of the Disney Village, and its style fits quite well with the 1950's architecture of Annette's Diner nearby.

So, next time you'll come to DLP, when you will exit the Magic Kingdom, don't hesitate to go to Disney Village, as it is now a real cool place to enjoy a drink or having dinner.

Photos: Alain Littaye and Daniel Rous for Disney and more.


Mark said...

Yes, the Village really needed greening up. Thanks for keeping us updated!

Matt said...

Interesting - I've never seen pictures of the Paris version before. In comparison to WDW DD, it really looks like painted surfaces - not the eloborate architectural renderings that I'm used to seeing at Disney. For example, Billy Bob's looks like it should have a true Old West theme, with wooden exterior, but there's just a plastic canopy. The one great building, though, was Annette's - very cool!

So, was this part of the park originally built on the cheap (aside from having a 'world-reknowned' architect do the overal concept)?

Anonymous said...

Just the worst thing Gehry ever did. And I'm guessing with the budget this resort had it probably cost them quite a bit. It's a shame they never used Goozee's concept (p. 312) of Alain's DLP book.

Dr Bitz said...

Frank Lloyd Wright once said..

"Doctors can bury their mistakes, architects can only advise their clients to plant vines"

and so it goes...