Last February we finally returned to Orlando! Since our last visit, so many things have changed. A ton of new rides and lands has been added. Pandora The World of Avatar, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Volcano Bay, Star Wars : Galaxy’s Edge, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Disney Springs and more (I’m saying ‘and more’ because it would be awkward to add Toy Story Land, Fast & Furious Supercharged, Skull Island : Reign of Kong and Ride Thru New York Starring Jimmy Fallon to this incredible list of world class attractions)
Oh hi! You’re still here? I haven’t posted anything on this blog in two years, you’re a creep. Well thank you so much for sticking around all that time.
I had the chance to visit Orlando recently and since my last visit, there has been a ton of new additions at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, so in the coming weeks I’m going to review a bunch of world class attractions… If motivation remains high and coronavirus lockdown gives me time. To kick off this series, we’ll start with the newest addition that opened just a few weeks ago. Choo choo, here is your Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway Quality Control review !
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.