Once again, it’s the grand construction gallery of Photos Magiques that provides the photos for this update. Joining the photos is a commentary on the land – including some things seen from a brand new angle and some things we’ve never seen before.
First, something from a brand new angle.
The pairing-up of Finding Nemo and Cars right across the path from each was hailed by some as lunacy and others as brilliance. The finished effect should hopefully convince the remaining few that an idea like this can work in studio backlot theme. Although we never managed to spot it from Flying Carpets, Route 66 has indeed made it to reality! The crumbling road here leads from the dusty desert setting of Cars to the underwater theme of Crush’s Coaster, with an Australian beach seeming to be the bridge between the two.
The front of Studio 5 is tall and grand, though with the fun and friendly Toon Studio details in front still has a welcoming feel for anyone feeling nerves from their first day on-set. Silver railings – covered in a rusty and grimy seaside weathering by the Imagineers – surround the attraction and do take some getting used to after months of watching the bare rockwork grow with nothing but bare ground in front.
From a spot along the railings (already appearing a favourite spot for bag-holders and too-short-to-ride children as well as excited fans), the mass of blue rocks towers overhead and you lose sight of the Studio 5 façade. Compare this area and the opportunity for those not riding to actually get a glimpse at the action to the layered 2D billboard of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and its clear who comes out on top. At Disneyland Park guests can stand by and enjoy themselves as the Columbiad blasts people into space, the Temple of Peril goes out-of-control and the riverboats ply the Rivers of the Far West. Walt Disney Studios now finally has its own alternatives.
Walking back towards the entrance to the new area – still surrounded on either side by blue construction walls, giving the area a strange ‘backstage’ look – we find the series of information and warning notices for the attraction. To the left is the attraction’s exit through a tunnel in the rockwork, to the right the entrance itself. The signage matches the style of that at Cars Quatres Roues Rallye across the way, in a real-life style with the attraction logo first and wait times displayed digitally below. With all of the Studios’ wait times displayed with similar computerised systems, we can perhaps hope for an automated Tips Board (with TFT screens similar to that at Disneyland Park) when this becomes a part of the Hollywood Boulevard sets early next year.
The circle and diamond provide a description of the attraction in French and English respectively, whilst the boards below then give tips and warnings. On the wooden join below, large warnings for no food or drink and no smoking are given – much larger than an any other attraction. Does Disneyland Resort Paris want to keep its new attraction clean and tidy, or is this another beach-inspired detail?
It’s interesting to note that the signs simply state guests should “meet the minimum height restrictions”, which no figure given. Currently, the attraction is apparently operating a series of tests each day to determine what the exact requirement should be. Similer roller coasters at other parks have a height requirement of 1.20m, but Disney will obviously want to lower this as much as possible to finally provide a family roller coaster match for the 1.02m-limited Big Thunder Mountain next door. Their main worry though, it seems, is “fright” rather than safety. Will kids find the spinning twists and turns of the EAC too scary for a low 1.04m or 1.07m limit? Families are being selected and surveyed each day to find the right limit, with the final decision hopefully due to be made before 9th June 2007. It remains to be seen if the signage will then be updated to reflect that choice.
The first portion of the queue line holds some nice unexpected details, such as the jellyfish warning sign and the blue rocks sticking up through the sand – a fun continuation of the rockwork to the left. In the distance, you can see a new set of steps from the Cast Member shelter. This queue is actually below the level of Flying Carpets Over Agrabah next door, and a path with steps has been provided to allow Cast Members easier access between the two – and to the backstage – with less time walking between “productions” on-stage. In addition to the “canyon” of Cars, this provides another much-needed change of level for the flat Studio lot.
The beach theme is extended with the sandy-coloured flooring, different to the rest of Toon Studio, whilst the green metal lamps hang on dark wood that resembles driftwood. Opposite the jellyfish warning, guests are now informed of a pelican reserve ahead – a nod to the film’s pelican character Nigel, who is instrumental in finding Nemo but didn’t make it to any of the attractions. Everything in the area – including the fading brown beach hut with green shutters – has been overlayed with a film of rust and grime from the sea. This kind of rustic, real-life themeing is quite different to anything else in the well-presented Walt Disney Studios.
Now, do you notice anything missing? Yes, ‘that’ entrance marquee. Seen in various guises over the last couple of years, the large entrance sign featuring Crush and due to appear in this exact spot is currently nowhere to be seen. The attraction is left with simply the small signage above its wait time indicator. So is this all? Well, whilst we can’t predict last-minute cuts and changes, it would be surprising if the sign didn’t appear soon – especially remembering that Cars Race Rally, a considerably smaller attraction, has both its wait time sign and the ‘Quatre Roues Rallye’ neons above the entrance and the iconic ‘Cars’ emblem atop its roof. We can therefore hopefully expect a 3D Crush marquee to take up residence near the turnstiles before 9th June.
Of course, also quite different is the ride itself. Bursting out of the rockwork at regular intervals, falling into a dip in the “waves” and re-entering on the opposite side, the discreet black track is surrounded by blue rockwork, gravel and sand dunes. Whilst the rockwork appears similar to that of Big Thunder Mountain or Adventure Isle from afar, up close you’ll spot various different shapes and styles in the formation, familiar to us from the film’s backdrops and countless underwater documentaries.
With characters meeting and greeting, carpets flying, cars spinning out of control and turtles making a splash, Toon Studio will have quite a buzz when it opens for real. And about that “splash” – although there’s no real water involved with Crush’s Coaster, the turtle shells do indeed make a splash when they swoop out of the soundstage…
Each exiting shell is met with sound effects of water crashing on the rocks amidst the general area sounds of seagulls and roaring waves. It’s the equivalent of Space Mountain‘s Columbiad “boom”, and definitely helps to make you feel as if beside the sea, just metres from Route 66…