The area in front of Flying Carpets was earmarked for a series of desert planters at the opening of the park, but due to budget restraints it took until 29th July 2006 and the start of the epic Toon Studio place-making project for the extra greenery to become a reality. Now, exactly five months on, the first fully-finished fruits of the project are open for all to see, enveloping the carpets in a tropical, palm tree oasis and creating a new example of the classic Disney “weenie” effect seen with Disneyland’s original Astro Orbitors, Tokyo’s Space Mountain or Paris’ Big Thunder Mountain.
Walt and his Imagineers always referred to these landmark icons as “weenies” since guests are drawn to them as a person is drawn to a weenie (sausage) on a stick. With these tree new “islands” of palm trees, brown railings and luxurious arabian lamps, the effect is that guests still see the Flying Carpets – but not quite enough. And so, they’re drawn to this corner of the land for a closer look.
The sandy-coloured flooring has also been expanded, joining the regular black asphalt with a curved “spill-over” divide. Some sections have yet to be finished to the regular Disney standard, since plans for the place-making project (now postponed for several weeks) call for the entire land’s flooring to be re-laid.
The arabian lamps feature coloured glass in three colours – green, red and blue, and are clearly inspired by similar lamps at the Floridian version of the attraction or at Disneyland Park’s Adventureland Bazaar. More lights have also been installed in the soil of the planters themselves, facing vertically upwards to illuminate the palm trees when night falls.
The planters leave a large space free near the entrance and exit of the attraction, a busy section of the land, but generally help to (unfortunately) exaggerate the work still needed for the rest of the land, particularly the sparse area in front of Animagique.
After discovering the oasis for the first time, it feels hard to remember what the area was like before. That is, until a single glance at photos from as recently as April 2006 makes it clear the striking effect three simple, lightly themed planters can have. Building sets just for a camera is all about simplicity, and, with a perfect budget to do “simple” (the entire place-making project is rumoured to cost just a few million Euros, small change in Disney Park terms), the Imagineers have made it an art.