Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Disneyland Paris that never was - Part one

Hello aeveryone. Here is the first part of a series of articles about the "Disneyland Paris that never was", and this is a new version of the one previously released someyears ago, with new and better scans and some surprises.
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 final 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 with this one some choices had to be done like with the “Voyages of Sindbad attraction which had a different first concept 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 decided to do some “cuts”. 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 below 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.

You may have not noticed it but the map of EuroDisneyland at the top of this article have an interesting detail. If you look at Discoveryland's entrance on the left of the Orbitron you'll see a structure which was never built. WDI Imagineer Tim Delaney had envisioned to build the Alien Encounter attraction at DLP's Discoveryland - in front of the Visionarium building and the Constellations shop, and this is a rare proof of the project. Although the words "Alien Encounter" are not written on the map you can see clearly the two theaters of the attraction on the picture detail below. Unfortunately the attraction was cancelled.

This rendering below show you a pretty different park's 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 could have done 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. This image depicts an early concept when the disneyland Paris Hotel was inside of Main Street U.S.A and the left side shows the resort architecture of a grand floridian style hotel. The coconut trees were part of that idea.

The Disneyland Hotel was indeed built but this two next artworks show a slightly different architecture and a much bigger pool too.

...You'll note that the coconut trees are back!

I will come back soon on the Main Street that never was with a brand new article as we were at two fingers to get a really different Main Street than the one which now exist. Instead to have a “turn of the century” theming, Eddie Sotto - DLP Main Street show-designer - had designed a Main Street set up at the 20’s-30’s with a totally different look.

This next artwork show Central Plaza and all we can see on it exist in reality but you'll see some Christmas season decor at the center of the plaza which, them, don't exist.

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.

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.

On the picture below around Vincent Price are Imagineers Al Vasquez behind the camera, Jeff Kurti is behind Vincent Price and the woman on the right is Gabrielle Reynolds.

Another concept never realised for Frontierland was this small wood carver shop.

But the most surprising is probably this Lil' Big Thunder ride concept by Julie Svendsen - Obviously inspired by Disneyland extinct attraction "Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland" it was a kind of Big Thunder family coaster for young kids going through "rainbow caverns", Geysers, friendly cactus, rolling stone balls and even a mine blast!

Don't miss the next parts of these Disneyland Paris that never was articles, coming soon!

You will find many more renderings of Disneyland Paris in my “Disneyland Paris, from sketch to reality” book which 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 if you wish, please check my special offer below!

Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this article on D&M english forum on Mice Chat

All artwork and photos: copyright Disney


Anonymous said...

Thanks for always finding great new concept art, Alain. DLP probably didn't lose much by not having Alien Encounter...the original concept was considerably dumbed down before it became reality (the story of which can be found on Jim Hill's site archives). But, that Little Big Thunder would be meaningful addition to most Frontierlands.

- Tasman

RandySavage said...


This is the stuff I love about D&M... getting surprised with concept art and attraction proposals I never knew about...

Merci Beaucoup!

Anonymous said...

Great work, and I'm glad Alien Encounter wasn't built, but Lil'Big Thunder Mountain would be great
PS. The Woodcarver's Workshop was open in the early years of the park, it shut down soon though. It's a real shame

Unknown said...

Alan hi,

sorry but that building you point out wasn't supposed to be Alien Encounter but a Restaurant based on Vulcania (and eventually built in TokyoDisneySEA).

proof of this is actually in the map at the storybook store in DLP where that building is marked as "restaurant future".

Also alien encounter was part of the 1995 Tommorrowland redo in the Magic Kingdom and wans't even blue skied n the 80's when EDL was planned.

hope this helps


Andrea Mickeyfantasmic Monti

DisWedWay said...

Alain, They could still do a Lil Thunder attraction for the Lil Partners over by Cowboy Cookout. It would be Thunder Mesa's Casey Jones Jr Daisey. Disneyland Fronteirland has the spread for it as well. The PDL Carriage Barn would be another draw and give guests something to chew over and pull a cork on as they do at Lavinia's.

Alain Littaye said...

Andrea, I welcome your comment but i'm sorry to say that it's Tim Delaney himself - show-producer of DLP Discoveryland - who told it to me when i did a "private" visit as a journalist days before the Nautilus opened.

I asked Tim if he envisioned to build Alien Encounter and Tim (at that time, back in 1993) told me that yes, they were going to build it and show me the location, precisely on this little hill which still exist in front of the Constellations shop.

AND recently when i've noticed this detail on the map at the top of this article i've asked Tim if this was the Alien Encounter building and Tim told me that it was indeed the AE buildings.

So, i'm sorry to say that on this one i'm going to believe the land show-producer!

Honeymoon bed breakfast said...

Thanks for sharing. I heeded to the show on my way to work tonight. It was great! It is really great topic and very lively I thinking. I will be reaching on past episodes and listening to all of the new ones.

Best Regards,

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post, Alain! Looking forward to the next ones! The Hub concept is realy nice.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alain,
concerning the "Alien Encounter", i believe you, but i don´t understand why many people thinks, that it was a restaurant based on vulcania. Perhaps it´s possible, that after AE was cancelled, they think to build a restaurant as an alternative. Perhaps Tim had forget to tell the rest of the story about this place in discoveryland.
What do you think about this?

Meilleurs salutations

OTPN administrator said...

Hello, Alain. As usual I love your posts about the history of the Disney parks.
I would only like to add that there's actually a tribute to "lil' Big thunder mountain".. I'm talking about the small fake mine near the fastpass queue of BTM..
But you will certainly know about it!
Thanks again!!