Category: Disneyland Paris

Avengers Campus Grand Opening Vlog at Disneyland Paris


De nouvelles attractions à Disneyland Paris, c’est en soi un véritable événement tant le phénomène est rarissime. La dernière en date, Ratatouille L’Attraction Totalement Toquée de Rémy remonte à 2014, il y a huit ans. Par conséquent j’ai été un peu pris par surprise quand Disneyland Paris a inauguré l’été dernier l’Avengers Campus, ce qui justifie totalement l’écart de six mois entre l’ouverture du nouveau land Marvel et du contenu qui en parle sur Le Parcorama.

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Disney to invest in Disneyland Paris with billions and IP’s

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 ill fated history of Disney’s Paris resort, the Walt Disney Studios park certainly is the darkest chapter. It has been designed with no ambition, no budget, no taste, no sense, almost no ride and technically no desire to build it. Nothing but the strict, contractual obligation to open a second theme park by 2002, as stated on the convention between Disney and the French government. Walt Disney Studios instantly became famous for being the worst Disney Park ever made thanks to its signature Basic Supermarket Parking Lot aesthetics. In my opinion, it’s not just the worst Disney park but one of the worst amusement parks ever made. But enough with the past. Those fifteen years of WDS nonsense have been painful enough. For more on the WDS fiasco, read my dedicated article.

Photo: Disney

Photo: Disney

This week’s highly anticipated announcement is the natural next step to The Walt Disney Company‘s recent buyout of the Paris resort. Now that Disney is the sole owner of Disneyland Paris, it finally has full control of what it can or cannot do. While we can’t be blind to the fact that EuroDisney minor shareholders have been pretty much robbed in the process, as a theme park nerd, I’m happy when I can visit a great, fully functional, profitable theme park. I’m even more happy when I don’t have to fly to the US or Asia and double my visit budget to do it. It’s been frustrating enough to be a European theme park nerd when the world’s greatest amusement park operator struggles so much do deliver quality investments where I live, to the point it became a joke. Yes, DLP is still Europe’s number one tourism destination but the the European theme park market leaders in terms of ambition, creativity and guest experience/service have become Europa Park and Efteling. Not Disney. *Awkward silence*

So, what’s in this announced investment plan? Two billion euro will… Wait. Let’s pause for a moment. Two. Billion. Euro. Two billion euro will be invested in Paris, *including* a transformation of the Walt Disney Studios park including new Marvel, Frozen and Star Wars inspired areas, rides and entertainment and also a new lake. These will open by phases starting in 2021 (while in an interview Bob Iger states from 2020 to 2025). The press release doesn’t go much deeper into details, but the concept art, as vague and purposely blurred as it is, maybe reveals a little bit more. Let’s now brainstorm and speculate on what hasn’t been detailed! Please note that the things presented as rumors next on this post come from reportedly insider sources from the ED92 forum.

Concept art: Disney

Concept art: Disney

Marvel Area

This might be the first phase to open to guests considering the recent announcement to revamp the stupid Rock’n’Rollercoaster into an Iron Man feat. Avengers attraction. DLP insiders also whisper that RNRC and the Moteurs Action Stunt Show are both set to close by the end of 2018. Bye Felicias. Looking at the released concept art, this new Marvel superhero land seems themed as a colorful fantasy-sci-fi futuristic land, like the overall aesthetics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as opposed to the long rumored New York style theme for this Marvel area. I’m curious and a little bit anxious to discover what it’s going to look like considering Disney’s attempts at doing Marvel theming so far. While the inside of Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout at Disneyland and Iron Man Experience in Hong Kong look fun and sleek, the outside of these rides is quite generic (Iron Man in HKDL) and over-the-top-tacky like it’s based on Power Rangers aesthetics (GOTG in Disneyland).

This new Marvel land seems to include Disney Channel/Stitch Live and Restaurant des Stars buildings, Blockbuster Cafe, the Armageddon soundstage and the stunt show seems to stay, but is rumored to be re-themed on The Avengers. While Tower of Terror appears untouched, some sources say it will keep the overall style and experience but get rid of the Twilight Zone IP, so it can fit the classic Hollywood entry land. And stop paying rights for an IP nobody realizes it’s here or even remembers. If true that’s a great news. Tower of Terror is badly located on the park’s map and theming it on Guardians of the Galaxy would make it look like the central icon of the parc, the one that defines the whole park is a Marvel IP. Phew!

Concept art: Disney

Concept art: Disney

I just hope the Marvel area will not just use its most famous franchises as attractions and newer characters like Black Panther, Dr Strange and

Guardians of the Galaxy

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Review: Disneyland Paris 25th Birthday Renovation

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.

On Twitter I’m often poking fun at their overpromising use of « Exceeding Guest Expectations ». As this years marks the completion of ✨Project Sparkle✨’s first phase, let’s find out if DLP did actually exceed my expectations with this big Quality Control review!

A bit of context first. To understand what’s happening today at Disneyland Paris we have to travel back in time before EuroDisney even opened. In the late seventies, Disney was contacted by a Japanese company called Oriental Land to build a theme park in Tokyo. That would be Disney’s very first attempt at opening a theme park outside of the US. Because it was a risky bet, Disney signed a deal that limited their investment in the soon to be Tokyo Disney Resort. But this licensing deal also greatly limited the profits for The Walt Disney Company. When it opened, Tokyo Disneyland turned out to be an insanely profitable Disney resort by all accounts, but Disney wasn’t getting much money from this successful Tokyo outlet.

opening tokyo disney resort

Photo: Tokyo Disney Resort

When Disney decided to open a new gate in Europe, they sure would not make the same mistake. The success of Tokyo was so huge that it seemed obvious that a Disney theme park in Europe would have the same instant glory and possibly be an even greater success if they made the park even more spectacular. So they made EuroDisney’s size and scope even greater, with more details, more noble materials, more rich and complex architecture and signature attractions and lands. Oh and seven massive hotels too. They also created a complex financial system that would maximize profits for the Walt Disney Company, while limiting its investment and shares in the operating company. Pretty clever, Michael Eisner… but is it ?

Unfortunately Disney’s initial previsions were way too optimistic. After a couple of years, Disneyland Paris was a commercial success: millions of people were visiting Disney’s European flagship. But on the other hand the custom financial scheme and the fact they just built too much too soon made EuroDisney an unsustainable company, unable to make any profit. The financial debacle of Disneyland Paris was like a 20 years long news headline soap opera. A very bad one. Just like Russian dolls, new money problems kept coming every couple of years: from multiple employee restructuration (aka firing people) to the fact Disney had to build a second theme park on the cheap otherwise they would loose some parcels of land, as stated in the contract between Disney and the French government.


For about twenty years all these factors forced Disneyland Paris to cut costs everywhere it could to save money here and there. Maintenance and personnel was reduced to the strict minimum. Of course it had a negative impact on overall guest experience, despite being a super premium priced destination. The early 2010s marked the point where the Paris resort was in an disgraceful neglected condition, never seen before in any Disney park. Visiting the parks as a frequent returning guest was like holding a checklist where you could check most of the boxes when a piece of decor or effect was turned off, broken or literally falling appart. Rides broke down way more often and longer than any local park in Europe. Shows were canceled. Food was overpriced yet not tasty. Hotels were expensive yet outdated. Overall guest experience was low-range but admission ticket price was high enough to make you feel robbed. If you wonder why DLP always had a very low rate of returning guests, look no further.

Disneyland Paris’ bad reputation reached such a critical point that The Walt Disney Company eventually decided to address the Paris situation a couple of years ago with an « Experience Enhancement Program » code-named ✨Project Sparkle✨ – because Disney parks can never be too gay. For the past three years, most attractions, lands, restaurants and hotels have been closed off entirely for months, sometimes an entire year, in order to bring back the world class standard Disney Parks are famous for. DLP’s communication service also put a lot of effort to spread the word on these massive works. So, did these efforts pay off?

Big Thunder Mountain//

Big Tunder Mountain
The resort’s most popular attraction now looks absolutely jaw-dropping. Vibrant colors, clean cut greenery, new whistle sound effects give the ride – and the entire land – more life than ever. Even the long extinct splashdown effect is back. The new, enhanced scene on the last lift complete with dynamite explosions, video mapping and smoke effect is a nice addition but it works too randomly at this time. The smoke effect, which is the most thrilling part of the finale is often missing. Most updated show elements are a success but the technical update, not so much: the frequent breakdown problem hasn’t been fixed yet despite a complete upgrade of the ride’s operating system. Although it’s currently getting better, I wonder if BTM will ever be able to operate normally, without hours of interruption a couple of times a day.

The rest of Frontierland looks just as stunning. The « Rivers of the Far West » lake has been drained during the Big Thunder Mountain’s one year long refurbishment and DLP took the opportunity to completely bring the infamous geysers back to life. Unfortunately all water and smoke effects were turned off when we visited but the rock work looks clean and more colorful than before. Elsewhere in the land, large pieces of architecture and facades have been refurbished from ground like Fort Comstock at Frontierland’s main gate. Visiting it today makes it easy to forget how it was literally crumbling just one year ago. Frontierland is also the land where major works still must be completed on the next phase of ✨Project Sparkle✨, with a complete update on Phantom Manor (closing scheduled this fall for at least nine months) and we’re still hoping that the Mark Twain steam boat will eventually be refurbished and will join the Molly Brown someday to bring back this ride to full hourly capacity instead of half capacity.

Adventure Isle Blue Hour


Adventure Isle
Adventure land’s large island complex including

La Cabane Des Robinsons

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A Guided Tour of Disneyland Paris with Tony Baxter

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.

I strongly suggest you watch this unique moment greatly captured by the folks from ED92 at the bottom of this page. But if you’re extremely lazy, here is is a list of five new things I learned from Tony Baxter during this unforgettable guided tour of Disneyland Paris.

Discovery Arcade

Photo: Arjay Endozo

// Main Street Arcades have multiple benefits

Imagineers were told Paris would need to cover Main Street USA because of the ever changing weather, like they did in Tokyo. The downside is you can’t run motor vehicles or a full parade under a canopy. Making arcades parallels to Main Street came as a solution. Not only they are one of the most cherished locations of the park, but they were also much cheaper to build than covering Main Street entirely. The benefit of that is Imagineers could spend the rest of the initially budgeted amount to make the boutiques more beautiful and detailed than any other castle park.



Photo: Kris Van de Sande


2. Walt’s restaurant decoration is more than just theming

Inside the fancy Walt’s restaurant, each room is themed upon each of the parks lands. But the art you can see framed on the walls of each room is the actual artworks that were created and used by the Imagineers during the development of Disneyland Paris. These pieces guided and inspired them to make the park as stunning as it is, so it’s a little more than just theming.


Star Tours Final Flight

Photo: Kris Van de Sande


3. No, Discoveryland is not about Steampunk

Tony Baxter has an interesting way of explaining the very concept of Discoveryland. At all times in history, storytellers imagined what the future would look like, using fantasy or realistic visions. Whether it was through art, technology, books or movies,  Steven Spielberg or Georges Lucas are the Jules Vernes or H.G. Wells of our era. Their visions of the future inspired young children from different eras the exact same way. It means that if Steampunk style is an important part of Discoveryland, it’s not about that and different visions of the future will always live together in this unique land.


Disneyland Paris

Photo: Kris Van de Sande


4. Movie franchises are an opportunity, not a threat 

Some fans are disappointed when something they love in the park needs to be replaced. With the ongoing trend of using intellectual properties (IP) as source material for anything new in theme parks, when something gets changed, the replacement is usually based on Frozen. Eh sorry, I mean Frozen and Star Wars and Marvel stuff. But one of the tasks of Imagineers is to keep the park up to date to stay relevant. The stories and characters we see in Disneyland through rides, boutiques and restaurants can not be stuck in the past of Pinocchio, Snow White and Beauty and the Beast. New characters and stories are needed to keep younger audiences emotionally connected too when they visit the park.

On this topic however, I encourage you to listen to The Season Pass Podcast episodes with Tony Baxter as a guest. He discusses more openly about balancing IP-based and non-IP-based content in theme parks.


Big Thunder Mountain

Photo: Kris Van de Sande


5. Tony Baxter’s favorite things in Disneyland Paris are…

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Disneyland Paris Turns 25: The Dawn of a New Era?

We’re just six months away from the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris. In the ever-tumultuous story of Disney’s European destination, this might mean a little more than a typical birthday celebration, but also, maybe, a turning point.

Last week, Disneyland Paris press service announced the programme of the festivities:

  • Celebration will start on 26th March 2017
  • A new daytime pradade called “Disney Stars on Parade
  • The much anticipated ride update “Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
  • A new revamp for a classic ride: “Star Wars: Hyperspace Mountain
  • A new show : Mickey Presents “Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris
  • Another new show on the castle stage: “The Starlit Princess Waltz
  • A complete show update on the guest favorite Disney Dreams Nighttime Spectacular: “Disney Illuminations
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    Must See: Amazing Fan-made Tribute to Star Tours

    As the last original version of Star Tours still in operation shut its doors a few days ago at Disneyland Paris, Star Wars mega fan and creator Kris Van de Sande decided to turn his sorrow into the most amazing tribute ever done to a theme park attraction. If you haven’t seen it already, stop everything you’re doing and watch this brilliant project called Star Tours: Before The adventures Continue.

    Kris spent a lot of time and energy documenting and capturing the essence of Star Tours, from the queue line to the exit, as it was in early 2016. His immense talent and passion show in the videos he created. Kris was kind enough to answer a couple of questions I asked him about such a massive project, but before we get to the chit chat and of course, the video playlist tribute itself, here is an amuse bouche: a special trailer that the nerdiest Star Wars fans will definitely be familiar with :

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