Euro Disney Planning Blockbuster New Attraction For 2024
Theme park operator Euro Disney has revealed that it plans to open “a major new attraction” in 2024 as part of a $2.4 billion (€2.1 billion) investment drive following the takeover of the French resort by media giant The Walt Disney Company.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the resort on the outskirts of Paris. It is Europe’s most-visited tourist attraction with 13.4 million guests streaming through its ornate iron gates last year. The complex comprises seven on-site hotels, two convention centres, a 27-hole golf course and two parks – the Walt Disney Studios and the fairytale-themed flagship Disneyland Paris.
Their parent company Euro Disney was listed on the Euronext exchange until June when Disney took full ownership of the company in a $2.30 (€2) a share offer.
As part of its preparation for the takeover Euro Disney produced a new ten-year forecast to 2026 and its filings state that “capital expenditure included in the business plan represents a total of €2.1 billion over the period. This includes in particular the renovation of two hotels and attractions, as well as a major new attraction in 2024.”
The capital expenditure was revealed in British newspaper the Daily Express last week but the plan for the new attraction has only just come to light.
Euro Disney has not publicly announced the new attraction and the details of it are not yet known. It was disclosed in the cash tender offer document which was issued in connection with the takeover and there is good reason for this. The documents considered Euro Disney’s future plans and likely performance in order to evaluate the company’s share value for the de-listing.
They add that the capex “includes major investments in hotel rehabilitations at the Hotel New York and the Disneyland Hotel, as well as Marvel-themed attractions and entertainment at the Walt Disney Studios.”
In 2009 Disney paid $4 billion to buy Marvel Entertainment, creator of super heroes such as Spider-Man and the Hulk, and its use of the characters in theme parks is subject to certain restrictions due to an existing agreement with NBC Universal. This applies to Walt Disney World in Florida and Tokyo Disneyland but Disneyland Paris is exempt and it is making the most of it.
Last month it announced a special ‘Marvel Summer of Super Heroes’ season for 2018 which will feature meet and greets with characters and new shows. One is understood to be a replacement for CinéMagique, the Hollywood-themed show in the Studios park which shuttered in March.
“We will have shows that explore the thrilling, spectacular dimension of the Marvel universe, as well as interactive entertainment offers that will allow guests to meet their favorite super heroes,” said Moira Smith, senior show director for Disneyland Paris.
Its Hotel New York, which is currently styled on the big apple, is even getting a heroic makeover. Concept designs show that it will feature models of super hero costumes in display cases and walls adorned with artwork based on Marvel comics when it re-opens in 2020 as ‘Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel’. It is likely that this will be just the start.
One rumoured development is that the Disneyland Paris Tower of Terror freefall ride will get an update based on Marvel’s blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy movie series. The first instalment was released in 2014 and stars Chris Pratt as the leader of an outer-space super hero team which includes a talking tree and a raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper. They team up to deliver an ancient artefact to the Collector, an inter-galactic kleptomaniac played by Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro, and of course it doesn’t go to plan.
The sequel premièred in April and sees the team reunite to take on a living planet played by eighties icon Kurt Russell. It is a stand out performance which makes an almost omnipotent character seem down-to-earth thanks to Mr Russell’s sincerity. Without it, the character and the movie would have failed to grab the audience’s attention.
Instead, both movies have been commercial and critical successes. It is testimony to the inspired casting choices, skilful writing and direction by one of the movie industry’s brightest talents, James Gunn.
Mr Gunn began his career as a screen-writer at independent studio Troma but has quickly risen to become a Hollywood heavyweight thanks to his treatment of the Guardians series.
Most sci-fi movies have plot holes aplenty but no stone is left unturned in the tight and snappy Guardians scripts. Then there’s the characters which are far from generic spacemen and aliens. The movies take them seriously but never in a self-indulgent or overly reverent way.
The key to this is that each character represents a distinct and familiar personality type from the quiet and brooding heavy to the stylish and aloof go-getter who cuts to the chase and, of course, the out going have-a-go-hero. The raccoon is the boastful brains behind the team who speaks its mind, even at the most inopportune times.
They are personalities that anyone can relate to and it draws viewers into the story so much that by the end of the movies you forget that most of the team are aliens. Music is cleverly used to drive the plot forward and lure in older viewers as the hero was abducted by aliens in the 1980s with his only connection to earth being a Walkman.
The films are filled with disco classics like ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ by Marvin Gaye and the Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’ which gives even more for an adult audience to relate to. Adding to the atmosphere, the action takes place against a psychedelic backdrop which evokes imagery made famous by legendary British sci-fi artist Angus McKie in the pages of 1980s fantasy magazine ‘Heavy Metal’.
It has paid off as the two Guardians movies have grossed a total of $1.6 billion worldwide according to industry analyst Box Office Mojo. Given the far-fetched subject matter they could have easily been busts if they hadn’t had Mr Gunn’s care and attention and the same is true of the theme park attraction.
Fans of Disney parks are renowned for their die-hard support of classic rides so updates are rarely well-received. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!’ had its work cut out for it as it replaced one of the most beloved rides in the Disney California Adventure park.
The Tower of Terror was a 199 feet terracotta-colored skyscraper designed to look like a faded Art Deco hotel. It was meticulously themed to the sci-fi television series the Twilight Zone with a queue winding through an overgrown garden into a cobweb-covered lobby complete with luggage standing at the reception. An old TV showed an ominous black and white video in the style of a Twilight Zone episode where guests mysteriously disappeared in the hotel’s elevator.
No sooner had that set the scene than you got strapped into seats in a cage-like elevator which rocketed up a shaft in pitch darkness. An impressive effect then made it appear as if stars were surrounding the lift before the big shock: giant windows opened up to reveal a view of the park down below. You then hurtled down faster than gravity before getting fired back up to repeat the ordeal.
The ride was a game-changer when it made its début at Disney World in 1994 and Mission: BREAKOUT! is equally pioneering. It doesn’t just immerse guests in the environment from the movies, it moves the story forward and makes them a part of it. Crucially, thanks to Mr Gunn’s involvement, it shares the same attention to detail and pacing as the movies. This is what sets it apart from any other ride and makes it one of the most ground-breaking attractions in the modern history of the theme park industry.
The hotel now looks like a steam-punk fortress as it’s meant to be a museum containing the artefacts which the Collector has harvested from all over the galaxy. It is based on the museum which was home to one of the most memorable scenes in the first Guardians movie as it contained hundreds of giant glass cases holding surreal characters from Marvel folklore. A giant cocoon? Check. A dog in a Russian space suit? That was in there too along with countless weapons and outré objets d’art. The columns of cases seemed to stretch endlessly upwards and somehow a similar effect is created in the lobby of the ride.
Most theme park queues are the definition of tedium but Mission: BREAKOUT! is an exception. The cases contain intricately detailed models from the Marvel movies which sometimes move when you least expect it. The plot sees the guests being shown around the collection and riding a lift to the top to view the Guardians themselves who have been captured by the Collector. No expense has been spared.
This story is told through a video, shot especially for the ride, which plays on a giant screen in the lobby of the tower. It features the same calibre of visual effects as the movies as well as all of the main stars. Not many other theme park rides can boast an Oscar-winning actor introducing the attraction to guests in the queue.
Like the movie, music is integral to the ride as the Walkman has now become an exhibit which is snatched by an intricately-detailed animatronic model of the raccoon. It tells guests that it has broken out of its case and wants their help to ride to the top of the tower and rescue its team mates. That sets the scene for getting strapped into seats in the elevators but there aren’t many other similarities with its predecessor.