Monday, November 28, 2016

Paris Studios Plan Epilogue

This is a quick follow up to the plan for my expansion of the Disney Studios Paris Park that was posted last week. Based on the response, I wanted to address a few things.

First, thanks for the great response and for sharing and commenting. The audience grew by a lot that day, which is great and hope you come back for future posts, even if they will not always be that big or about the Paris parks.

I've tried to have regular posting schedules from time to time but I never can stick to anything since it takes significant time commitment to design the project and then create the post. But my goal is to have at least one or two new posts up every month. Sometimes they are big park expansion plans, sometimes individual attractions, sometimes they are essays about theme park design, and sometimes they may just be random thoughts related to Disney and theme park news. So keep up with me on twitter and check back periodically for new stuff. 

Next, I wanted to address a few comments I got.

The main comments were about the selection of properties for the Disney Studios area of the park. Since I left some expansion pads, I got a lot of suggestions for other choices. There were also a few thoughts about the choice to do the live action remakes vs the originals which I found interesting.

So there's a few reasons I chose the live action fairy tales.

I wanted some differentiation from the Disneyland Park, which is already heavy with classic animated films. And I definitely didn't want any repeats between the parks, so many of the popular and obvious films were out.

I wanted to use properties that could somehow still fit into a cohesive style and location idea, which became the "Fantasy Forest" kind of idea, versus disparate large themed areas that can't really transition.

I recognized that animated films could be grouped into a miniland based on the shared medium like they have done before with the Animation Courtyards.

And honestly, when you look at the filmography of the Walt Disney Pictures brand, leaving out Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar, and Walt Disney Animation Studios, the only films that have had significant success recently are the live action remakes. Consequently, those kinds of films make up the majority of the lineup for the next few years.

So that made my choice. However, even though I have reasons, I am not heavily committed to that selection because, for this land in particular, the contents are less important than the structure that holds the properties. I think the IPs could be subbed out pretty easily along the main spine path if a better argument can be made for other films and transitions somehow developed. Some interesting suggestions were Wreck it Ralph, Zootopia, and Moana, which would probably mean this transforms into an animated based land, since there I don't think I would want to mix animated and live action remakes.

The only other comments were about how people wish this would happen for real. 

So from those comments, I want to discuss the potential of this park with a good deal more realism, especially in light of the huge expansion plan for Hong Kong Disneyland that was announced just the day after my post went up. 

First, I think it is obvious that the plan I posted last week is way too elaborate to ever happen in its entirety at once. It would be an unprecedented expansion that would give the park more huge E ticket attractions that nearly all existing parks. And based on the spending habits of the resort, it is just impossible. 

But I still think that this could be used as a guide to how the park should and really could grow in more reasonable expansion phases, similar to what is happening to other world wide parks. Hong Kong is a great example. It started as an under-built park, then a major expansion in 2009 brought 3 new lands with a few major attractions, then a few individual attractions over time, and now another major multi-land expansion. Yes its basically a 15 years time frame of improvement. But at least its happening.

And I think you can do the same to the Paris Studios Park. To start, I am going to talk general, not super specific to the actual attractions I proposed. More in terms of lands and general attraction ideas.

I think the key is to start with the infrastructure and organization that would then be expanded over a few big phases. This means the place making work at the front of the park, and I think the Hub and icon layout that defines the center of the park. Organization in a theme park will dictate the future success.

Also I think it is important to realize that in my plan, 3 of the 5 lands use a lot of existing infrastructure and also contain a solid number and variety of attractions. Hollywood, Pixar, and Marvel all are formed of careful additions into the existing landscape. Regardless of the specifics of the additions, the park could make some major improvements without having to completely tear down and start over. Start with what they already have.

And last, even though in my design, I basically went for all original designs, it should be understood that cloning attractions from other resorts makes them cheaper and therefore more likely to be built. That could help a lot here, since these are the kinds of attractions that Disney is currently already designing. This approach could bring some big attractions to the park.

So from that, I'll outline a quick idea for how to make something like this happen.

Major Phase 1:

Improve the place making of Hollywood - the interior of Stage 1 would be renovated in some way, the streets, planters, trolley tracks, and facades of Hollywood would be added, new retail and dining would open, and the Hub and Chinese Theater facade would be built, regardless of if there is an interior. This would also allow for the immediate start to a new night time show.

Add attractions to Toy Story Land - expand Toy Story Land to the north like I have with the addition of a clone of Toy Story Midway Mania and at least one more flat ride/spinner.

Renovate Pixar Place Overall - general work to the facades and planting to make it more cohesive, such as new Crush's Coaster facade and addition of meet and greet building.

Create Marvel Studios - renovate the existing buildings on the south side of the park into Stark Expo, including re-themes of Armageddon and Rockin Roller Coaster. Construct a clone of one of the Marvel attractions already in plans at another park. Either one of the HK attractions or the one in plans for DCA. Something that they can share development costs on that can be the headliner of the expansion. This attraction should also begin to define the expansion potential of the land deeper into the park.

That is all totally reasonable, adds or reworks 6 attractions, and begins to start a solid organization for the park. This could and should happen as soon as possible, especially since this whole phase doesn't even include any major brand new attractions, only clones. This would be a easy and effective start to fix the park.

Intermediate Additions

Add an attraction to Pixar Place - move the wardrobe and cast building and replace with a new D ticket level dark ride of a significantly popular Pixar story.

Put something in the Chinese Theater - put something significant in the icon, either an original attraction, an animation miniland like I have, or something like that Mickey Mouse dark ride. Something fitting the icon status.

Add an attraction to Marvel - either the secondary of the HK attractions, another clone from DCA, or something original. A second and final big attraction to expand the land and increase the park size.

Those are three solid additions that could sustain attendance to the park over multiple years, each phased to continue to draw crowds to come back for something new.

Major Phase 2:

Bring Star Wars - clone the entirety of original Star Wars land, which would now the the third and likely the easiest to build because there is no river or major demo to work around. (It would also make sense logically to do this earlier on, in phase 1 maybe, but I pushed it here so that I could have balanced phases and focus the first phase on rehabs to the existing park.)

Develop the start of the 5th and final land - whatever this would be, live action fairytales like I suggested, animated films, or something completely different, develop the first pocket or two of this land off the Hub and connect it to the other lands to create a full hub and spoke based loop. In my plan, that would be Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid, but could be whatever is popular at this point.

Those are two more huge but reasonable additions that would bring the park to a scale rivaling the other international parks and basically builds it out to a respectable scale.

Final Periodic Additions

Complete the 5th land - finish whatever land was started previously to bring it to the scale of the other lands.

Adjust for what becomes popular - if the 5th Indiana Jones movie becomes a hit, embrace that. Or expand more Star Wars, or Marvel, or live action, or anything else worth building.

These could be long range moves just to complete the organization and balance of the park while also allowing it to respond to trends.

That outline breaks down the overly ambitious plan that I presented into manageable, though significant, chunks of development that are not impossible. It could and should happen to make this the preeminent film park of Europe.

If you like what your reading, continue to like and share so that the audience can keep on growing, and if you have a suggestion or idea, leave me a comment here or on twitter.

Not sure what I'll have next for you, but look for something in mid December.


  1. Overall I must say that I could very well see Disney at the very least trying to do this one day. The Phases are well thought out in my opinion too.

    As for the Fifth land, overall I think it might work best if it dealt with specifically the live-action versions of the Disney movies. Perhaps themed around a Behind the Scenes/On-Set idea? With that in mind, you can simply use the previous layout for the Fifth Land, but simply replace Robin Hood with Maleficent. You can keep Little Mermaid as Disney already confirmed a live-action Little Mermaid is being made, which will probably release in either 2018 or 2019. For the other expansion areas, you could use the live action Mulan, Time Burtons Alice in Wonderland, the live action Aladdin, or something based around the upcoming live action Cruella movie.

    1. That land already was intended to be based on the live action versions, to include the upcoming Beauty and the Beast film, and the already announced live action remakes of the Little Mermaid and Robbin Hood. The others you mention could be possibilities.

      Yeah I'm sure they have internal plans with phases like this, just going to depend on the money and resources.