After twenty five years of turmoil, it feels kind of surreal to write about it but this is finally happening. Earlier this week, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that The Walt Disney Company will invest two billion euro in Disneyland Paris. The new development mainly includes an important transformation of the infamous Walt Disney Studios. Three major additions have been revealed in the statement: new Marvel, Frozen and Star Wars themed areas alongside new attractions and shows. To make this announcement even bigger, Bob Iger met French president Emmanuel Macron (not related in any way to first EuroDisney ambassador and favorite gay icon of mine Sabine Marcon). But you don’t get to have brunch with a country’s president even when you invest two billion just to announce it. They probably discussed lobbying stuff like tax cuts, land and how to facilitate Disney’s buyout of EuroDisney. But for your convenience I’ll focus here on what you truly care about: attractions.
In the summer of 2017, Dutch theme park Efteling opened a whole new dark ride: Symbolica – Palace of Fantasy. This is Efteling’s fourth dark ride and the first one in twenty five years. It is also Efteling’s most expensive attraction ever built. I know what you’re going to say. I’m incredibly late to the reviewing party but here is finally my nitpicky Quality Control of Symbolica. Abracadabra!
The genesis of the Symbolica project actually started around 2010. Efteling has been working for years on a very different style of dark ride code-named Hartenhof, based on Pardoes the wizard, the mascot of the park. The original storyline revolved around the universe and characters developed for the live action TV series De Magische Wereld van Pardoes, which aired for the first time in 2011. But the most exciting part was certainly the innovative ride system. Think of it as a slow moving robot arm à la Harry Potter and the forbidden journey that can carry an audience of twenty-four people instead of four. The underwhelming public reaction to the TV show and merchandise sales led Efteling to put the Hartenhof project aside for years, in favor of Fairytale Forsest, day-time show Raveleijn, night time fountain show Aquanura and dive coaster Baron 1898. Make sure to google Hartenhof because Efteling released a lot of work material back then, including scale models, artworks and blueprints.
This year Disneyland Paris is celebrating its 25th anniversary. This is a big milestone so they’re giving their guests a mixed bag of a programme as a gift: new parade, new stage shows and nighttime castle projection show, attraction updates and also the end of ✨Project Sparkle✨: a massive program aimed at refurbishing the whole resort after two decades of absolute neglect. As I’m not a specialist of theme park entertainment, I’ll focus on attraction updates and refurbishments in general.
As a part of Disneyland Paris 25th anniversary celebrations, Disney organized a very special event for a handful of lucky DLP long-time lovers: a guided tour of the park with the man who supervised its design: Walt Disney Imagineering legend Tony Baxter.
He’s the person you should thank for making Disneyland Paris’ castle so elaborate and romantic, with square trees and a fire breathing dragon underneath. The one who decided to put Big Thunder Mountain on an island because why not?! The man who made the most spectacular Disney castle park ever made, with dozens of highly detailed walkthrough attractions. The list goes on and on.
When you think about what makes Disney parks more special than most amusement parks, you probably think about the stories and characters you know and love, amazing architecture, the tasty treats and of course the countless shows and attractions.
But there’s something else that no other theme park takes as seriously as Disney: music and sound design. So seriously in fact that some soundtracks that Disney created especially for its rides have become standalone pop culture icons over times.
You wouldn’t have landed on this blog if you weren’t a total theme park nerd, so I’m not going to make a list of the most famous Disney park soundtracks. Phantom Manor, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Soarin’ , Main Street Electrical Parade… you already have all of these in your music library anyway. Besides these A-listers there are so many unknown gems in Disney’s theme park music catalogue that are worth listening too. Here is a non-exhaustive list of my favorite lesser known Disney theme park tunes, whatever it’s been composed especially for the parks or it’s a playlist of non-Disney tracks crafted for an area or queue line.
November has just started. What does it mean? You’re already late on your Christmas shopping and you know it. But there’s worse: you haven’t given your family a list of all the glorious Disney park related stuff you need. And because you are a serious theme park nerd, how can your relatives know the super specific things you want under the Christmas tree, I mean really?
Don’t panic though, you just landed on the only page on the Internet that features everything you want – all you have to do is forward this blog post to your mom and tell her you need everything on it. She’ll dispatch every item to every person who owes you Christmas presents! Oh and if you happen to be that mom, welcome to our geeky community – I love your festive sweater Karen! Is it mohair or cashmere?