Thoughts On The Multi-Year Expansion Set Out For Disneyland Paris
Living in the United Kingdom means that Disneyland Paris is the closest Disney Resort for me which I therefore consider to be my "home" park. I'm sure many of you who may read this in the United States, may consider your "home" park to be either Disneyland Resort in Anaheim or Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Each park has their unique style and feel about them. This leads to the feeling that when any announcements are made for each park you feel a personal connection that usually fills you with excitement or annoyance. It's a passionate reaction every time.
Whether it's because of a first memory you have of visiting these parks or if it's that you loved being within the walls of the Magic Kingdom's and shut off from the outside world, there's definitely a personal connection to each of them.
So when Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, makes an announcement to change these parks with huge investments, I can't help but feel overwhelmed with excitement.
Last month, he announced that Disneyland Paris will receive a multi-year upgrade to improve the Walt Disney Studios Park with the addition of three new themed areas and a lake. More than €2 billion will be invested to improve the park with expected completion starting with the Iron Man hyper-kinetic ride in 2021. Each new area will open in phrases years after.
First the announcement mentioned a new Marvel themed area encompassing the already announced, Iron Man hyper-kinetic ride that will replace the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith attraction. As detailed in the concept artwork below, we have been given a conceptualised look at this park once it's completed.
I've cropped the concept art to show where the new Marvel area will be developed. I've purposely left in the Hollywood Tower of Terror because, while it hasn't been announced nor included in this concept artwork, I just can't see Disney leaving this attraction unchanged once Marvel enters this land. Disney currently use the structure for nighttime projection shows (currently Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration), and until they open the new night-time experiences in this park that were also announced, Disney will want to keep the dull colours of the Tower of Terror before maybe transforming it into a more vibrant Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout.
So here's the bad part, what's leaving the park.
It looks as if the Moteurs... Action! stunt show will be leaving, or maybe re-skinned? Disney may be keeping that seating area at the back, but I'm unsure whether that's seating or a new building in the concept artwork? They're also going to re-theme Armageddon Special Effects, which frankly is a good thing as I'm not a fan of that experience personally. Stitch Live! will also change and finally in Studio 2, a new Marvel Stunt show will debut this summer as part of Disneyland Paris' Summer of Heroes event.
So a lot of new experiences announced for the Marvel area. I'm very excited to see what other attractions get announced. I would love to see something themed to Guardians of the Galaxy, maybe Hulk or even Thor, perhaps?
Frozen Area ("Kingdom of Arendelle")
The second announcement on the agenda was for a Frozen themed area that online suggestions point to it being called "Kingdom of Arendelle". This new area will sit off one of the branches around the new lake that will also be constructed as part of the new expansion.
A friend of mine wrote to me saying that he could see an Olaf-themed toboggan-styles ride within the big blue mountain, much like the Matterhorn at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA. I think this is a genius idea and one that's super fun for all the family. It would be great if you could re-enact Olaf flying through the villages to rescue Ana as he does in the film. Or even, to run away from the snow monster. Either way, that mountain will be a fantastic centre piece for this park.
I can only picture the Frozen Ever-After attraction that's currently in the Norway pavilion in EPCOT sitting inside that ice castle to the right of the mountain. It think that would make a perfect addition to this land.
This new area looks to replace the currently active Studio Backlot Tour in this park, an attraction that I imagine is relatively expensive to run and actually, isn't brilliantly enjoyable, so I welcome this change.
Star Wars Area ("Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge")
The last themed area was announced for Star Wars. Online users suggest it will be an additional "Galaxy's Edge" land but I'm not convinced that will be the final name as the land appears smaller than the two 14-acre developments that are currently being constructed in Anaheim and Florida.
After being continuously teased with Star Wars in the park itself, it wasn't actually a big surprise that Disney would announce this as one of the additions. They've just finished their "Season of the Force" event in Paris and are currently running a nighttime spectacular there.
What's strange in this artwork, unlike the artwork we've seen with the other two Galaxy's Edge projects, is that there is an A Wing outside the main base instead of the Millennium Flacon. Does this suggest that there will be a differing ride than the ones already announced for the states? I kind of hope so and if there is, it justifies a different name to "Galaxy's Edge".
In the concept artwork there are a few more things to note, such as the new path leading straight to the new lake. It's odd that to the left of the pathway, they seemingly have left this bare, but I imagine it leaves land for future expansion projects.
There is also a building pictured on the right of this path that sits closely to the Toy Story area, that looks identical to the new "Alien Swirling Saucers" that's been announced for new Toy Story Land, coming this summer to Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Finally, it was announced that there would be new entertainment coming to join this park after the expansion. We can see from the artwork that there are water fountains in the lake, maybe this could act as a new kind of "EPCOT Illuminations: Reflections of Earth"? Paris for me seems to always have the best nighttime spectaculars (other than missing a Fantasmic! showing) but I can see this new lake being the focal point of your day as you enter and leave the new lands. I love that has similarities to EPCOT, but instead of pavilions, you have brand new lands to discover.
I'm really excited for things to come to Disneyland Paris and I think we've only scrapped the top of the iceberg. With Disney now the sole owner, I can see them making considerable further investment to improve Europe's number 1 tourist destination.