Monday, April 12, 2010

The Disneyland Paris that never was - Part Four : The first DLP Site Map

Today's document is fascinating as it is the very first site map envisioned by WDI Imagineers for Disneyland Paris. As you will see below Frontierland is the only land which almost didn't had changes between this first map and the final result. All the other lands had big differences and we're going to have a look to these in details.

On this map, which was done in the late 80's and called "Plan X", everything in purple color are attractions buildings. Entertainment and merchandise locations are in blue, covered walkways in orange and transportation systems in light yellow or so. The red lines are park and lands limits.

The Main Street USA that we can see on this map was the first 1920's version envisioned by Eddie Sotto. In this version Main Street had a big attraction - number T 900 on the map - and it was the "Hollywood Theater" or "Circlevision meets Main Street Cinema". The Disneyland Hotel had not been thought of yet that's why it's not on this map. The elevated tramway moving outside and inside what is now Main Street Discovery arcade had a station on Town Square - T 400 - and another one on Central Plaza - T 100.

Frontierland, as i've said, is quite similar with the one we know. On this map Phantom Manor - W 1100 - is already at its current location, so is Big Thunder Mountain - W 800 - and the Riverboat landing - W 1000 - or the River Rogue Keelboats - W 700 . But there is also on this map something which don't currently exist, it's the attraction building W 400, near the Cowboy Cookout Barbecue location. This was supposed to be a kind of rodeo show. Considering that this is the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area the idea was to have a kind of stunt show which could exist in this kind of place. Later, when they decided to add the Buffalo Bill Wild West show to the Disney Village, this rodeo/stunt show in the back of Frontierland was unfortunately cancelled.

Let's have a look now at Adventureland as a big surprise awaits us. Adventure Isle and the Swiss Robinson Tree - A 300 - are already there as well as Pirates of Caribbean - A 1700. But the main surprise is the attraction A 500 as it seems that WDI Imagineers had envisioned to build a Jungle Cruise attractin at DLP Adventureland. Building A 400 was probably the indoor section of the Jungle Cruise.

Among the reasons why the attraction was not built there is the official one which is that the ride has been copied in many European theme parks, beginning by Europa Park. But another and may be more important reason could be the technical difficulties to have outdoor Jungle Cruise Audio-Animatronics during winter time. If you've read my previous report on DLP "under a blanket of snow and ice" you will easily understand that it was technically impossible to have outdoor sophisticated Audio-animatronics during this season which can be really cold. Audio-animatronics Maintenance would have been a nightmare, not to mention the frozen rivers, etc... So, for these reasons and although that i like a lot Jungle Cruise, i think that WDI Imagineers did the good choice when they cancelled the attraction. However, there is not a lot of artwork available about it but at least these two John Horny renderings...

And this other one showing another scene of the cruise in a more "cartoon" style.

Fantasyland looks quite similar to the current version. Peter Pan - F 900 - and Dumbo, the Tea Cups or the Carousel are almost at their current location, and same for It's a Small World - F 300. But Snow White and Pinnochio - F 1000 and F 200 - are not together on the same side, like they are now. Also, Story Book Land or Casey Jr are not on the map although "future expansion" is indicated on their location. Note also the other "future expansion" area in front of where is now the Pizzeria Bella Notte. It's the famous "reserved" location for the Little Mermaid ride.

Discoveryland is very interesting on this map for many reasons. First Videopolis, Star Tours, or the now extinct Visionarium are not on the map. The Orbitron - D 800 - and Space Mountain - D 400 - are already there as well as the Nautilus - D 650 - but Nemo's Submarine is on the left of Space Mountain and its lagoon was located where is now Videopolis! D 200 and D 300 seems to be two others big attractions but unfortunately i couldn't find what it was supposed to be.

But one of the major surprise from this map is the itinerary of the Disneyland Paris railroad. In this version the train station was not located in the back of Discoveryland, but at the entrance of the land! Better than that, it was a major transportation hub as both Disneyland Paris railroad AND the Main Street elevated tramway were supposed to share the same station. In this kind of "ventureport" idea all transports would have be there and it was a kind of gateway to the future, at the entrance of Discoveryland. But the idea did not last very long and artworks of this amazing train station are very rare. However you can see above and below two Tim Delaney renderings showing it. On the night view above you see clearly that the train station is at the entrance of the land as the Orbitron and Space Mountain structures appears behind the train station. On the picture below you can see that the Discoveryland train station was supposed to have two floors and a great architecture to mark the entrance of the land.

I've promised you at the beginning of this article a fascinating document and for sure it was one. If we look at it with objectivity, i think it's fair to say that WDI Imagineers did the right choices. They've kept the best and improved a lot the park since this first site map. Still, i regret the 1920's version of Main Street. I think DLP have the best of all Main Streets but something more radically different would have been interesting, too.

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

All pictures: copyright Disney Enterprises Inc.


Matt said...

Wow - incredible post!

Yeah, a "union terminal" - combining both modes of transport - would've been really cool.

I hope I can make it to DLP one day to witness the changes firsthand.

Mouseketeer Cole said...

WOW. Absolutely amazing post! Look at all that expansion room planned for the park!

Anonymous said...

Another amazing post Alain. This sort of concept map / artwork makes me feel like a kid in a candy store! I read about the unbuilt Jungle Cruise at DLP in an article that Jim Hill wrote a long time back, but to see a map of how it would actually fit into Adventureland is terrific. Also, that double station is amazing...perhaps too elaborate to get realized, but lovely to see nonetheless. Thanks again Alain, and hope you reconsider your early retirement :)

- Tasman

Dr Bitz said...

These plans were used as a mini legend to all of the zone numbers given to the facilities. They showed you the boundaries of scope in the project, as to who is assigned to what.

The shifting of Main Street is pretty radical when you see it in plan view. Fantasyland is massive and still is!

Alain does it bigger and better!

| B | said...

Thanks a lot for this article, Alain!
And congratulation for your blog!
We allowed ourselves to post some elements of it on Disney Magic Interactive in linking sources to your blog, as it was a major new document for the community. Please do not hesitate to say us if we should not.

DisWedWay said...

Alain, It's interesting that Thunder Mesa was to have a staged rodeo arena by their train station and then it was canceled do to the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show in the Village. While they were finishing that show, they kept coming to Thunder Mesa looking for Western Americana that we may have left over, but everything purchased had a place. After opening Thunder Mesa in 92, it did on a 2nd added capacity phase get a smaller staged arena in that same location. Yippee ki-yay

Anonymous said...

Alain, thank you for this article. Very interesting to follow the development of the parc. Nice to see the initial track layout of Big Thunder Mountain.

DisWedWay said...

Yes the original Big Thunder Mountain had a canoe passage through the mountain that was later canceled. The return track around the load building changed many times, but having it go in front of the load building was better for waiting guests viewing. The Q line changed about 11 times in front of the load building for variouse reasons, but in the end was the most successful compromise.

RandySavage said...

merci beaucoup!

Finally able to see how the designers were planning to lay out the elevated train. The Discoveryland station is a beauty.

Fantastic article!

Angeline said...

Wow! Thanks for a fascinating article!!