Since the footprint of the Imagineers’ proposed addition to the Studios was published via the “mairie” of Chessy, the town just behind Disneyland Paris, we can finally just about picture what this ride could look like if it gets the green light within the next few months.

On the left, the outcrop with angled sides matches perfectly with the corner of Gusteau’s restaurant as seen in the film Ratatouille itself. Just behind, the walls of the proposed building jut inwards to create a small square courtyard — surely the back alley and entrance to the kitchens, where we saw Linguini park his scooter and Rémy’s friends come scavenging for food.

Ratatouille dark ride
Plan (thanks to Mouetto) compared to Tokyo’s existing trackless ride.

An even more exciting match-up can be found with the shape of the rectangular building behind. Since the rumours have persisted almost since the outset that this ride could use the trackless (or “GPS”) technology of Pooh’s Hunny Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland, it’s incredibly satisfying to see that the showbuildings of both this existing ride — and the possible future ride for Paris… are the exact same dimensions.

We don’t know that this plan submitted for approval by the local town hall will be the final design — after all, the plan of Toy Story Playland to come from the Chessy mairie showed two RC Racer halfpipes, side by side — but we can now see for certain that Walt Disney Imagineering have really, truly been using Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, that roaring success of a dark ride, as the template for a ride at our humble Walt Disney Studios Paris.

And so, those new details to spill: In responding to questions about the plan on the Disney Central Plaza message board, member La Rouquine confirmed several suspicions — and raised expectations higher.

Ratatouille dark ride
Artwork from Ratatouille.

Positioned right up against the existing costuming (ImagiNations) building, the planned attraction wouldn’t extend properly into the adjoining space but the costuming workshop itself, as previously seen from Studio Tram Tour, is intended to be moved. This freed-up space would then make true a rumour heard many months ago — that the building could house a Ratatouille boutique.

The workshop is the perfect size for a connecting store, and would finally bring the building at least partially within park use. As the main building for Cast Members, providing their costumes among other services, the building is ideally placed right between the two parks. Though it presents a difficult barrier for future Toon Studio expansion, there are apparently no plans for the rest of the space to be absorbed into the park for a long time to come, it only being opened back in 2001.

So, point number two — the size of the new building. Though the rectangular showbuilding at the rear matches perfectly with Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, the total floorspace appears much lower. How could this new development really fit in everything that’s rumoured — the dark ride, the shop, the restaurant – perhaps toilets? By going up.

Ratatouille dark ride
Ratatouille: Going up?

Oh yes, it appears WDI really do want to give this “parking lot theme park” of flat, single-level attractions the depth (or perhaps height) it needs by building Ratatouille on “several” floors — explaining its modest size in the plan seen. Think of the stretch room in Phantom Manor; the multi levels of Pirates of the Caribbean. This kind of design adds a lot to the experience.

Though, this isn’t to say that your trackless ride vehicle could also climb to a second storey — more likely, that the queue line or restaurant (if it really hasn’t been cancelled) could be located above one another. Perhaps imagine queueing through the elevated rat restaurant seen at the end of the film as real-life diners enjoy a meal in Linguini’s real restaurant below.

What now?

Rumour has it, John Lassetter has been involved in the planning, and a model of the proposed attraction already exists. Many people are now getting twitchy — if this is to be the main 20th Anniversary addition, doesn’t construction need to start soon? Two years is about as quickly as a ride like this can be developed, after all.

In fact, we’ve heard that the attraction plans have now been signed off by Imagineering and the powers that be. It’s a go! — well, almost. Those plans are now lying in the hands of the resort’s financial backers, waiting nervously for that green light to be lit.

Let’s hope they do just that, since the cost-to-benefit ratio of this addition must be off the scale. A dark ride in any sense — even the quaint Snow White/Pinocchio style — would transform perceptions of the Studios. A trackless dark ride would blow visitors away.

Then there’s the theme. Not only was Ratatouille a smash success in France, it’s oh-so-French style would be perfect for the resort’s international visitors, allowing them to experience the feeling of Paris during their trip without stepping a foot out of the resort. For the locals, it would finally put a bit of France back into the parks, an influence that has been noticeably missing since Le Visionarium and its subtle showcasing of the country closed up in 2004. What better way to celebrate the 20th Anniversary in 2010 than with an expansion truly celebrating the country’s great capital city.

Ratatouille dark ride
The moment of realisation.

It almost goes without saying: the ride would be a must-do for every age, it’s trackless technology setting up a kitchen chase that could be moderately thrilling yet family friendly. The overwhelming success of the Japanese cousin is there to see. No other ride in the entire park would have such a wide age spectrum of satisfaction.

Clever use of projections in place of expensive sets and only more simple Animatronic figures, as at Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, would help bring the overall costs down. Since the technology is already developed and is currently being used for the Mystic Point addition to Hong Kong Disneyland, further cost savings are there for the taking. Having the construction crews “retreat” and start work on this site as soon as Toy Story Playland nears completion makes further sense. The resort already has a permit to remove the trees currently covering the site.

But now, we must wait. Not even able to watch through the kitchen doors. Just cross our fingers and hope beyond hope that they too have a fork-hitting-the-floor moment — where it all makes sense that this absolutely, positively, has to happen.

Images: Via Mouetto, DCP; Disney/Pixar; Google Earth.

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