What do you do when you’re desperately waiting for details of a greatly-anticipated dark ride that Disneyland Paris are unwilling to divulge yet? Pay a visit to the local town planning office in Chessy! That’s exactly what our friends at Disney Central Plaza forum did, returning with a fantastic reward: The very first concept art for the mythical Ratatouille dark ride of Walt Disney Studios Park. Mythical no more. And the word “art” for this concept couldn’t be more apt. It’s a real artwork — colourful, stylised, evocative and very, very classy. Perhaps the first “art” we’ve seen of this quality for Disneyland Paris in almost a decade. It depicts three main Parisian façades in slightly different styles grouped around a traditional cobblestone courtyard. A huge fountain splashes to one side, the signage of Gusteau’s restaurant is high up on the rooftops, the streetlamps glow yellow, the leaves on the trees are a beautiful autumnal ochre. After almost three years of anticipation for this attraction, here it is.
But even better, this is backed up by some cold, harsh technical drawings. Because you know that old adage — “It’ll never look as good as the concept art…” — well, this might.
The first plan above shows the layout of the new attraction building, which is rather different to what we saw back in 2009 (and have been poring over ever since). Now, the new building is not joined directly onto the existing costuming building (officially known as the Imaginations building, and marked as “Batiment Imaginations” on the plan), but sited right next door with a few metres gap between the two. The new building will host the dark ride, obviously, but also a new restaurant connected to the attraction. Will the grey Imaginations building still be sitting there with only a “Studio 4” placard for theming, then? Certainly not — this corner at least will be dressed up in matching Parisian facades to create a complete courtyard around the centrepiece fountain. Real façades, too — the same quality as the buildings of Hollywood Boulevard, not flat backdrops. The existing costuming workshop here, which we used to get a view of from Studio Tram Tour, will relocate and the space will be used for the ride’s all-important shop and something even more pressing for this area of the park: toilets.
Put into three dimensions, the layout of the new building becomes even clearer.
We’ll be entering the ride on the right, under the large archway of the third main façade, where a Ratatouille logo can be seen in the artwork. An extended (fully covered!) outdoor queue stretches along the side of the building before heading inside. The centre section seems to be the restaurant, with a covered terrace projecting into the courtyard, whilst the façade on the far left appears to be Gusteau’s restaurant, which may or may not be the entrance to the real restaurant located here. Because here’s one final morsel: we won’t necessarily be dining at Gusteau’s as humans!
Planning permission for the above plans was granted by Chessy town hall on 20th April, although the project still crucially requires the agreement of lending banks to finance construction. In their financial position, Disneyland Paris require these “cash injections” for all major expansion projects, such as the €240 million investment programme from 2005 to 2008 (for Buzz, Crush, Cars, Tower). The cost of this single dark ride, with all its flashy technology? Somewhere around a cool €150 million. If the lenders agree that this would significantly improve the offering of Walt Disney Studios Park, pulling in more guests and money (it would), then we could still be looking at an opening sometime in 2013.
New to this project? Read back all our past news stories about this dark ride which — according to rumour — promises to mix the “trackless” technology of Tokyo Disneyland’s Pooh’s Hunny Hunt with the 3D projections of Universal’s The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man!