A saw a story yesterday that made me realize that there have been a lot of little bits and pieces of news trickling out lately about new attractions that are coming to some of the less-covered Disney parks overseas. These developments don’t tend to get the coverage that new American attractions receive, so I thought that I’d summarize them here.
Now, I know I’ve been a bit of a Debbie Downer lately, what with all the disappointing shenanigans at Feature Animation and Parks & Resorts, but I’m afraid that won’t be turned around by these projects. One can pretty much guarantee that any new project at Tokyo Disneyland will be top notch due to the incredibly high levels of quality and service that the Oriental Land Company manages to achieve, but even they’re getting stuck with some new attractions that are less than… inspiring. But let’s take a look:
The most recent announcement came a couple of days ago when the Oriental Land Company announced that it would be replacing its current night-time water show BraviSEAmo! with the similarly punctuated Fantasmic! The new show will debut in April 2011 as part of the celebrations surrounding Tokyo DisneySea’s 10th Anniversary, which is on September 4th of that year.
This might seem underwhelming to Disney fans, who might already have seen Fantasmic! in either California (where it’s played since 1992) or Florida (where it debuted in 1998). Thankfully we can hope for a little of that OLC magic (and their roughly $33.5 million investment) to update the twenty-minute show, as the announcement promises scenes from Aladdin, Cinderella and Finding Nemo. One can expect some new staging, too, on the waters of the park’s Mediterranean Harbor area. The concept art above shows Mickey atop some kind of ziggurat rising out of the water, and it seems apparent that the setup of the show will accommodate the larger lagoon.
BraviSEAmo! will perform its last show on November 13th, 2010, and preparation for Fantasmic! will begin soon after. While it might seem sacrilegious in Disney circles, I really am not a fan of Fantasmic!. In fact, I kinda hate it; it’s just not my thing (save for the giant MechaMaleficent). But hopefully the OLC will pull out all the stops to make it worthwhile. After all, their live shows typically tend to blow the offerings in the American parks completely out of the water.
Of course, DisneySea has been paying the price lately for its decade of awesomeness by receiving a string of cast-offs from other parks. Last year they got Turtle Talk with Crush, which fits beautifully with the 1930s ambiance of the American Waterfront area and the stylish S.S. Columbia. The American Waterfront will be the site of DisneySea’s next expansion, arriving in 2012. We’ve talked about this one before – behold:
Toy Story Mania! (what’s up with all the exclamation points?) will be added to the New York area of the American Waterfront. Hopefully its budget of $129 million will lead to a little plussing.
Over at Tokyo Disneyland proper, there are a few new attractions on the way. The park, of course, has recently received the massively popular Monsters, Inc. dark ride. While unannounced, it also seems certain that the park will be receiving the upgrades to Star Tours that are on the way to parks stateside. In 2011, Mickey’s Philharmagic will be added in Fantasyland. While that’s perfectly reasonable, it naturally makes me sad because it necessitated the loss of the legendary Mickey Mouse Revue which I will now never be able to see in person. Between the Revue and Meet the World, replaced itself by Monsters, Inc., Tokyo Disneyland was a haven for attractions that should exist at Walt Disney World and I always hoped to see them myself.
Another attraction I’d always wanted to see at Tokyo Disneyland was the Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour, a walkthrough attraction that took guests through the bowels of the park’s iconic castle. This attraction has to be one of the most truly bizarre in Disney park history, leading guests through a series of encounters with various villains to a final confrontation with the Horned King from The Black Cauldron as he tries to raise an army of the damned.
So, yeah. I kinda hated to miss that one. It sounded insane, it was the sole attraction ever to reference The Black Cauldron, and it furthered my inferiority complex about the Magic Kingdom having the only one of the first four Disney castles to not have an attraction of its own. But the Mystery Tour closed in 2006, without replacement. Until now.
Now, I understand the closing of the old attraction and I understand the desire to make the new walk-through, which opens in 2011, focus specifically on Cinderella. After all, it’s her castle. And if we’re embarking on a brave new world of endless princess meet-and-greet interactive experiences, this would be a reasonable place for one. But I want you to take a moment and absorb the piece of concept art that was released to accompany the press release announcing this attraction. This wasn’t released as part of a sequence of renderings, or to emphasize one specific aspect of the project. This was, and as far as I can tell still is, the only piece of artwork that has been released to promote this new attraction. Can you tell I’m really wanting to build this up? So much that I’m going to put a page break below to make you click through to see?
Drum roll, please – gentlemen, behold!
What’s happening here? Why are there feral children milling around in the distance? Why the ominous empty throne? It’s like Stanley Kubrick presents Cinderella Castle Walkthrough. I hear that Gregg Toland even tore out the floor so he could get the ceiling in the frame. I mean, the artwork itself isn’t bad but as the sole rendering released for this project it kind of looks like the one photograph you have from your vacation that you can’t tell why you took it.
Anyway, I was amused.
Moving around the globe to Paris, we find another mixed bag of omens.
On the positive side, DLRP Today has done some really fantastic sleuthing that indicates that planning and R&D for a dark ride based on Ratatouille is well under way for the subpar Walt Disney Studios park. Special Comment: I’m incredibly excited about that.
Also in the “good news” column can be counted a series of hints by Alain Littaye about the resort’s future. Littaye talks about the possibility of a Ratatouille attraction, as well as the likelihood of Disneyland Paris getting the Star Tours upgrades in time to wrap up the park’s 20th anniversary celebration which will run from 2012 to 2013. He also mentions that the on-again, off-again addition of Soarin’ to the Walt Disney Studios is still under consideration (which earns a “meh” from me, but few others).
The most exciting of Littaye’s news for the Walt Disney Studios is the possibility that, at long last, the unbroken slab of concrete that dominates the park might eventually receive that hallmark of any good Disney park – water! As the Studios eventually expands its makeshift Hollywood Boulevard further into the undeveloped area inside the park, Littaye suggests that Disney will add a lake for the eventual staging of some sort of nighttime spectacular. The current rumor, although it’s for the somewhat murky future, is that the park will receive the Wonderful World of Color show that debuts at California Adventure later this year. All good news for this sad little park; check out Alain’s story for more details about future hotel, conference, and theme park developments in Paris.
Now I hate to end on a sour note, but…
Before all these future developments, we have to watch Toy Story Playland be inflicted on the Walt Disney Studios park. And, as the picture above shows, this beauty of a park is only going to get more…. magical?
Construction on this new addition has gone vertical, with sightlines across the park being invaded by the gigantic pole for the Toy Soldiers Parachute Jump. Yay?
This construction, of course, also serves as a preview of the Toy Story Land that’s being foisted on Hong Kong Disneyland as part of their upcoming expansion. More construction pictures and information can be found at DLRP Today.
So, you take the good, you take the bad, you take it all and there you have the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts division. But hey, Ratatouille!