By now everyone should be well aware that big changes are coming to the Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris and as of writing this major construction has already started over in the Backlot with the demolition of Armageddon where the Spider-Man attraction is coming along nicely Rock n Rollercoaster closed last year along with Restaurant Des Stars and Cafe Cafes and modifications to Motors Action Stunt Show facade with the entrance way being rerouted via the now closed Studio Tram Tour.
As a reminder a major investment is being made to Disneyland Paris with a massive overhaul of Walt Disney Studios Park including 3 new lands themed to Marvel, Star Wars, and Frozen as well as a huge lake and placemaking though out the park. This concept art by Disney shows the scale of the investment and gives an idea of what is being planned.
Find out more in this previous article 1 Year On from The Walt Disney Studios Expansion Announcement
So far there has been no reason to believe that the expansion will not be realised by Disney but that hasn’t always been the case and a lot of the time this ideas are never realised. Walt Disney Studios Park, that has only been open since 2002 seems to have had more ideas about expansion, new attractions and place making then any other Disney park. Let’s take a look at some of them and see what could off been for the Walt Disney Studios Park.
Disney-MGM Studios Europe
Long before The Walt Disney Studios Park the second gate for Disneyland Paris was going to be Disney-MGM Studios Europe, the concept was first shown in 1992 at the opening of Euro Disney, now Disneyland Paris and was fully fleshed out and ready to start breaking ground for a 1995 opening. The park would have shared many elements from the Disney MGM Studios at Walt Disney World including The Great Movie Ride and the Studio Backlot Tour including sets like catastrophe canyon and the walking tour of the real animation and film sets that would of made up part of Disney-MGM Europe. In addition to this an attraction based on called Dick Tracy’s Gangster Shoot out would have been the big E Ticket attraction on opening day which would be a cross between Indiana Jones Adventure and Buzz Lightyears Laser Blast. Several unique restaurants would also have been included and were planned to be an Indiana Jones restaurant, a Route 66 Cafe a long with familiar restaurant such as the brown derby and the Sci-Fi Dine in.
The whole park was designed and ready to go but when Euro Disney failed the park was put on hold and eventually shelved altogether some elements of the design were brought over to Walt Disney Studios Park such as the Studio 1 entrance building but most of the ideas were just scrapped.
Overall Disney-MGM Studios Europe was a product of its time in early to mid 90’s and if the park had gone ahead as planned many of the time same problems that Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando had such as lack of things for guest to do and massive sound stages and animation studios going completely unused would of happen here as well but at least there would of been a better layout to build on.
When Disneyland Park was built the imagineers cleverly added ‘expansion pads’ around the park, these were spaces that they could go back and add additional attractions in years to come. When Walt Disney Studios Park was constructed a few expansions pads were built to the park and probably the most obvious one was located in Production Courtyard between Cinemagique (Now Studio Theater and The Disney Channel Building (Now Disney Junior Live / Stitch Live)
Plans of Production Courtyard show that Soarin’ was envisioned to fill this space using the 2 theatre setup. Soarin’ is an attraction that really should be at Disneyland Paris as it’s a staple of the Disney Parks but the studios is probably not the best place for it to go. Better places for it to go could be Adventureland near Indiana Jones or the back of Discoveryland.
The expansion pad has since been used for a backstage building and to house the control booth and projectors for the shows in Production Courtyard.
In addition to Soarin’ being planned for this area as seen on the above concept map a Theatre that would house The Lion King stage show was planned for where the Tower of Terror and its surrounding structures now stand. Also notably a building simply called ‘Sony’ appears on the plans, not much is know about this but it seems that it would of been a something similar to Innoventions at Epcot with hands on experiences provided by Sony and would also house a Robot Arm attraction, think of Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey but without the moving track and set pieces.
Toon studios opened with the park in 2002 but was called Animation Courtyard and was home to Flying Carpets, The Art of Disney Animation and the Animagique Theatre. In 2007 Animation Courtyard was transformed into Toon Studios with the addition of Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye. However another idea to have a mini version of a Bugs Land instead of the Cars mini land was imagined for this area. From the looks of the concept art the only attraction that was planned was Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies, a simple bumper car attraction with some theming for the area.
The Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris has always suffered from a lacklustre line up as a result of being built on the cheap in an era when The Walt Disney Company was afraid of spending big after the failure of Euro Disney. In an attempt to make the park seem bigger then it actually was the layout was crammed together and didn’t leave room for expansion at a later date. As a result imagineering has always struggled to plan out a large scale expansion that would fix the fundamental issues of the park and when they do have a plan and are moving forward the issue that has plagued DLP for all of its life crops up again, Money.
Finally the TWDC has committed to investing heavily in Disneyland Paris to expand the Studios Park over the next few years with the lands based on some of the most popular Disney franchises including Marvel, Frozen and Star Wars as well as the some much needed landscaping in the form of a large lake in the studios over the next few years.