A new name has just been confirmed for much of Toon Studio at Walt Disney Studios Park, encompassing all of the Cars, Finding Nemo, Toy Story and Ratatouille attractions added from 2006 onwards: Worlds of Pixar.Read More…
On Saturday 21st June 2014, Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy became the latest E ticket entry in 60 years of Disney attraction history as Bob Iger himself, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, officially dedicated the new ride and La Place de Rémy.
DLP Today had the privilege of being there to experience the ceremonies first-hand and now, as Disneyland Paris prepares to open the area to the public this Thursday 10th July, we take you there. In pictures, video and lots of words in between, this is our complete retelling of the grand opening of Ratatouille: The Adventure at Walt Disney Studios Park. Read More…
Drilling for rats? The Ratatouille Kitchen Calamity construction site has seen a new arrival with the start of pile driving for the attraction’s foundations. After clearing and levelling the area, then laying and compacting loose stone, work has now moved to drive in deep foundations for the future showbuilding using a pile driver: the tall, drill-like piece of machinery seen above. This moves around the site, planting supports in the ground at intervals to provide a solid base for the new building.
Also visible on the construction site, seen in these photos by the ParisCastMember blog, are several large steel “screws”, a shipping container and large pieces of wire frame. Not quite the usual recipe for a ratatouille, then. Costuming workshop Cast Members in the “Imaginations” building to the right now have an unimpeded view over the large construction site for the dark ride, thanks to the removal of the adjoining wall and awning which used to be part of Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic.
But the views are easy to obtain for guests and fans, too: as well as aerial sightings from Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, a temporary gate, lower than the hoardings, has been installed in the blue construction walls here (below the camera), next to Toy Story Playland. Though intended to provide a temporary evacuation route, it would be more than welcome if this stayed in place throughout the construction, to allow visitors to easily catch a glimpse of the future — and a reason to return.
As a reminder: the €150m ride is due to open sometime in 2014, rumoured to use a trackless ride system with 3D projection effects, with an adjoining restaurant that will possibly be integrated into the attraction queue. Fastpass is expected to be in place from day one, while a boutique might follow later. Read back our previous updates here, which included a look at the first concept art.
Hard to believe now that, just a month ago, all was quiet on the Ratatouille dark ride construction site as Disneyland Paris awaited the necessary funding. Then, on 10th January, it came: a €150m package from The Walt Disney Company, and this long-awaited Toon Studio addition was finally go! Just 10 days later the site was cleared of all its remaining trees, and now more movement to ensure Rémy is ready to go vertical in the next few months. It’s surprising how much room you need to make for a rat.
An unsurprising move is the removal of the awning along the side of the “Imaginations” Cast Member building, caught in this series of photos by Disney Central Plaza’s Mouetto. This was where, from 2002 to early 2009, our studio trams would drive up alongside the building allowing us to get a glimpse inside at the “real working costuming studio”. Reflecting the ethos of the original park this, of course, was not a real film studio costuming workshop but that for the entertainment Cast Members of the resort itself. Now perhaps symbolically, as the park stumbles towards a redefined identity, it is falling to make way for our new Pixar hero.
Elsewhere, changes are more unexpected. Given the effort Walt Disney Imagineering went to providing a ready-and-waiting Parisian street next to Toy Story Playland, and that they had already moved the Studio Tram Tour route for that very expansion, you might be surprised that the road is in the process of moving again. While the 2009 re-route gave plenty of room for the Ratatouille showbuilding, this new road, pushed ever further back, will allow construction vehicles easier access to the site.
A mysterious stone foundation could be seen disappearing into the trees in our previous update. Now the road looks laid and almost ready to open. The attraction is scheduled to re-open as soon as this Saturday. And yet still, the Dinotopia “set” remains…
Mouetto has also shared photos of the vacant corner in front of the Costuming building, where it is expected the attraction’s associated toilets will be built. And, from the elevated viewpoint of Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, another element of the original Tram Tour already (or, at last) taken away to Euro Souvenirland: the green Pearl Harbor aircraft hangar.
The fact that much-needed toilets could be built here without eating into the operational Costuming workshop might add meat to the rumour that the attraction’s gift shop, rumoured to go into this existing building, won’t be ready at opening. Nevertheless, all this side of the hastily-christened “Studio 4” is still to be hidden, somehow, behind a new series of Parisian façades.
Soon we’ll all be able to feel a little less guilty about visiting Paris without actually visiting Paris…
It’s Toy Story Playland, but not as we know it. The second land based on the Pixar property and cousin of last year’s Toon Studio expansion is nearing completion all the way out East, at Hong Kong Disneyland, ready for an opening date this November. Part of a three-land expansion of the similarly-underbuilt park, it represents admittedly the least exciting prospect alongside the all-new Mystic Point and Grizzly Trail. All three attractions are present and correct, with Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop and RC Racer towering not over a patchwork backlot but the immaculately-themed Adventureland. Ouch. The land’s layout differs in that the two have effectively switched places and an additional building (pictured on the left of the shot above) provides a more substantial retail space. However, there’s no Barrel of Monkeys — which could have bridged the vast thematic gap into the future Mystic Point next door — nor the towering forest which pleasantly surrounds the Paris land.
The choice between Woody or Buzz at the entrance to the land is going to divide everyone, but we’d have to say that the plastic Buzz Lightyear with his light-up laser seems more fitting for this kind of monument than the ragdoll Sheriff, who looks unnaturally “plastic”. Buzz’s pose in particular encourages far more photos with guests copying his stand to attention (come on, we’ve all got that photo), while his position in the middle of the path gives much more interest to the entrance area.
Where Hong Kong really has Paris beat, though, is in the marketing. Right from the start, the Asian park created far more publicity for the expansion than the European resort it was originally designed for, releasing countless press releases and concepts. The earliest Toy Story Playland concepts clearly show it was designed with Walt Disney Studios Park in mind, but the only artwork we saw until just weeks before its opening last August came via Hong Kong. Now, check out the smart Toy Story Land-liveried shuttle bus below and the TV report with a look inside the land which follows…
With every new Disney attraction, the Imagineers’ work is never quite complete when the ribbon is cut. Once guests start pushing through the turnstiles, filling out the queue lines and fastening their seatbelts, a whole myriad of niggles or opportunities to “plus” the experience often come to light; the designers and engineers having to go back to the drawing board to tweak their creation. At Toy Story Playland, there was something we could have all seen coming: long queue lines. While the basic rides themselves only have a finite capacity, park operations soon jumped on the best idea to maximise that number with the installation of temporary Single Rider lines at RC Racer and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop.
This year, as part of the 2011 improvements programme, those successful trial lines became “official” lines, with queue barriers and signage redesigned to properly accommodate them, and here’s the final piece of the playset: space for Single Rider wait times to actually be displayed at the entrance. At the moment, a single rider can see a regular wait time of 80 minutes at RC Racer but have no clue how long that means they’ll be waiting for a spare seat.
Whilst the entrance marquees for both attractions have been modified today to include a second dot-matrix display, they’re not yet operational. Calculating attraction queue times is usually as easy as pairing the
number of turnstile “clicks” against the hourly throughput (update: see comments) of the ride, but with guests coming in groups of different numbers and empty seats never a given, it’ll be interesting to see exactly how Disney work out the wait time for a single rider to put a seatbelt on it.
While we try to be patient in the wait for the Ratatouille dark ride, the slow arrival of this big E-Ticket to complete the Toon Studio expansion has implications on the Toy Story Playland already built. Not just the lack of any toilets or dining provision, both said to be provided by the new Parisian quarter, but the way guests move around the land. The intention was obviously to create a circular extension that would see guests walk in a loop via both Toy Story Playland and the Ratatouille area. But with only the three Playland attractions built so far, there’s nothing yet to “pull” guests through the other side of the Barrel of Monkeys tunnel, meaning guests often do a complete U-turn after RC Racer and walk back through the land, causing overcrowding back at the entrance. It turns out, those problematic dead-ends you created in Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 happen in real theme parks, too.
The interim solution to this, a few weeks after the August 2010 opening, was to fix cheap white signs to the K’Nex railings in the far corner of the land, pointing to the Barrel of Monkeys as an “exit” and hoping to create a one-way loop through the land. Now almost a year later, a properly-styled sign, complete with displaced dirt at its base as if pushed into the ground, has finally popped up in their place!