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OPINION: 5 Years On – Disneyland Paris’ €2 Billion Expansion

It's been 5 years since Disneyland Paris' €2 Billion Expansion was revealed, but what is there to show for it?

Last week marked the fifth anniversary since what was arguably one of the best weeks to be a Disneyland Paris fan. After years of seeing the US parks being invested with new lands, immersive areas and an overall sense of care, it was finally time for Disneyland Paris to get a slice of the cake. More specifically the smaller Walt Disney Studios Park would be getting that slice…

What Was Announced?

On February 27 2018, Bob Iger announced plans for a €2 billion, multi-year expansion for Disneyland Paris.  The new development would include a transformation of the Walt Disney Studios Park. Adding three new areas based on Marvel, Frozen and Star Wars, along with multiple new attractions and live entertainment experiences.

Today, the park is still in a state of change, with only one segment of the promised expansion built. Another area, Arendelle: World of Frozen is slowly underway and the final plot still left up to speculation.

Obviously it is worth acknowledging the multiple shutdowns in France which have impacted development of this project. However, it is great that things seem to be speeding up now. The timeline of these projects would have been so much more different without the delays. It is quite possible that without the delays, Frozen would have arrived in Walt Disney Studios Park this year.

Before we dive into the expansion, it’s required to mention the name we all love to hear, Chapek. I think outside of this announcement 5 years ago, Disneyland Paris was massively overlooked by Chapek’s Parks and Resorts leadership. The 25th Anniversary lacked any new attractions, only an overlay of Space Mountain and an incredibly update for Star Tours.

Additionally, no new attractions were built between 2015-2020. I really hope Josh D’Amaro’s leadership can shed a light on Disneyland Paris a bit more and this expansion isn’t the end for anything new and big headed to the parks. I want D’Amaro to succeed more than anything, I hope he delivers. Especially now that Chapek is nowhere near the company…

Alas, let’s break down where we are now in terms of the expansion…

Avengers Campus

Arriving last year, Avengers Campus opened to guests and introduced them to a number of new attractions and experiences.

The “new” rollercoaster Avengers Assemble: Flight Force now sits in the place of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Avec Aerosmith, and Spider-Man W.E.B. Adventure (a direct clone of Web Slingers) replaced the former site of Armageddon – Les Effets Speciaux. Additionally, PYMs Kitchen and Stark Factory are two of the land’s main eateries.

I think one of the most hilarious things to happen out of all of this was the fact Flight Force needed refurbishment just 7 months after opening. There were reports that executives including Josh D’Amaro were unhappy with the ride around opening. This is what led to the lighting changes which were announced last month.

Pretty alarming that a brand-new attraction needs such attention so soon after opening. I will say some acknowledgment for the wonderful Iron Man animatronic found in the ride’s queue is deserved. It looks superb.

Avengers Campus has provided the park with plenty of live entertainment and those important character encounters – something that has been massively absent from that park for quite some time. There’s only so many times you can watch The Incredibles travelling round the parks on their segways.

I look forward to visiting Avengers Campus in the near future. The left side of the park felt bare towards its end, and the Avengers IP was the perfect upgrade.

A Cars Road Trip… To Hell

What else? A smaller, inferior edition of the Tram Tour now exists, set to the theme of Cars and Radiator Springs. Some Disney Parks fans have gone as far to call it the “worst Disney ride”. With construction taking over the middle segment of the park, the ride’s track had to be moved and as a result the Tram Tour we used to know no longer exists.

Whilst I haven’t visited since Cars Road Trip’s arrival, the numerous images and videos I’ve seen have said all I need to know. It is a cheap, temporary overlay to keep guests on their toes whilst they wait for the new attractions. It just looks awful. I would hope that once the expansion is complete, the attraction is removed, as it is sitting on quite the expansion pad…

What’s Next? The Lake.

D23 2022 revealed a brand new area alongside the park’s proposed lake, in the area currently known as the “Lake Promenade”. Whether or not Disney will give this new area an official is currently unknown. It makes most sense that the promenade will be the next phase of the park’s expansion, especially because it is the main route to reach the new lands.

A brand new flat ride based on Tangled is headed to the park. I am, of course of split mind about the project. I think it is great to see more Tangled in the parks, but why are we getting yet another flat ride in the park. Flying Carpets is quite literally a 5 minute walk from the new proposed land! Why aren’t we getting a water attraction set to the stunning nighttime scene which features the iconic lanterns?

I think the idea of gardens is nice. One of the many gardens proposed includes one which connects the promenade to Toy Story Playland which will see a new entrance to the land built. Anything for an Instagram photo I guess…

We’re also getting a Quick-Service location (on the left hand side of the lake) and a Table Service Restaurant. The lake’s many structures are rumoured to feature an Art Nouveau theme. Additionally, the table service will have the same theme offer panoramic views across the lake, water shows as well as character dining. A huge win for the park, which currently has no character dining on offer.

The Latest Reports

New images have been revealed thanks to OutsidEars for the quick service location on the left. The “East Pavilion” will offer snacks and takeaway food and will also offer backstage support for cast members. This location was rumoured to be reminiscent of Tiana’s Palace at one point. However, Additionally, a control room for entertainment including the lake’s offerings can be seen atop the new building. More food locations is great, the area’s aesthetic is easily the biggest selling point, however. I cannot wait for this lake to arrive.

Ignoring the fact we have to wait prolonged amount of time for the final version of the park to arrive, I think the most exciting thing about the current stage of the park’s development is everytime you look at new aerial photos, something new appears. The next few months will do just that. With ground work planned out for the restaurant, and Tangled area’s dug out – one can assume things could go vertical sooner rather than later.

Disneyland Paris’ Nighttime Entertainment

The lake will offer a unique opportunity for Disneyland Paris. After so long, the park will be able to offer nighttime waterside entertainment. The resort experimented many years ago on Lake Disney (in preparation I assume). I would not be surprised if the new entertainment goes all in on drones too. Something the resort has really pushed recently with the Avengers nighttime show and the D-Light opening for Illuminations.

Disneyland Paris' Walt Disney Studios Park Marvel Show

There have been rumours for so long that the four barges from Tokyo DisneySea were in fact sold to Disneyland Paris for some form of entertainment offering, so that is something to keep our eyes on… Perhaps Paris will finally receive the show, or some iteration of it.

The Kingdom of Arendelle

I am just going to say it, I am really excited for Arendelle at Disneyland Paris. Having been on Frozen Ever After at Epcot last year, I think it will be a great addition to the resort.

Construction began during April last year and it has slowly begun to take shape – which is incredibly exciting and promising for the park. The most recent image from construction (via. DLPWorks on Twitter) clearly shows a number of things to be happy about.

Disneyland Paris' Walt Disney Studios Park Construction Update

You can just about see a rough track layout for the Frozen Ever After attraction, plus a number of ground-shaping has happened near around where the Tangled flat ride and new restaurant will be. I do think we won’t see this land until Summer 2025 at the earliest, just going by the fact that Hong Kong’s iteration isn’t even open yet and the land has a lot to go until completion. Track is being laid and certain theming assets are already being placed in the lands.

It’s great to see construction increasing on this land and think this one will look incredible once completed. especially when you see just how good Hong Kong’s iteration is looking months ahead of it’s official opening. The area looks terrific, and I’m sure it’ll look just as good in Walt Disney Studios Park.

The Third Land: Star Wars, Avatar or ???

It is crazy that we still have no idea what will make up the final plot of expansion. Or whether or not some form of Galaxy’s Edge will be showing up after all. Especially now that Natacha Rafalski half-confirmed that the land has been taken back to the drawing board last year.

Should it be built, the smaller Star Wars area would have simply included Rise of the Resistance, a rumoured Meet and Greet location alongside a shopping area and restaurant. Massively underwhelming in comparison to the US counterparts. Cutting down a land which has two rides, multiple food locations, a bar and a number of live entertainment offerings is ridiculous. Why wait over a decade from the original opening of the US lands for it to be half of the real thing, huge missed opportunity from Disney and I’m not surprised that the plans are in turmoil.

It still feels as if the Chapek era of the Parks and Resorts is still here because of the budget cuts all around. I would hope D’Amaro would bite the bullet but it’s not looking likely. Especially given who his former teacher was…

As the saying goes, “You can teach a kid to count, but teaching them what counts is best.” In this scenario, low budgets meant a lot to Chapek, let’s hope D’Amaro isn’t the same… What is stopping Disney from giving Paris a full on Galaxy’s Edge, with the maximum experience for European Star Wars fans?! It would bring so many more people to the parks, it’s unreal.

Disneyland Paris' Walt Disney Studios Park Galaxy's Edge

Having visited Pandora in Walt Disney World, I wouldn’t say no to the themed area arriving in Paris. Especially given the fact we have a number of Avatar films still to release, I think Disney would be fools not to attempt at least to have the land up and running by then. Previous timelines for the third area predicted a 2024/25 opening for the announced Star Wars area. Other rumours suggest Lion King is the proposed IP for a third land…

Moving Star Wars to Disneyland Park

If the inevitable does happen and Star Wars doesn’t wind up ending in the studios, don’t fear… I think Discoveryland should become the home of Star Wars in Disneyland Paris. After all, there is already practically a mini Star Wars land there, with the likes of Starport (which is being visited by The Mandalorian and Grogu soon), Star Tours and of course, Hyperspace Mountain. It honestly makes the most sense, plus Disneyland Park is in need for some love. I feel like the discussion of a Star Wars takeover in Discoveryland would make for a great thought piece…

What I Want to See

One can hope that the upcoming expansion of the park will see more additions made to Avengers Campus. Attractions like Mission Breakout and a new stunt show could all be integrated into the left side of the park, and I’m here for it. If it was possible to, I would love to see the upcoming Multiverse attraction set for Disneyland make its way over to Paris too, but spacing looks to be restricting this.

Disneyland Paris' Walt Disney Studios Park Concept Art
Concept Art

I think Tower of Terror is that park’s icon at the moment and do think that status is preventing the needed upgrade to Mission Breakout. With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 releasing this year, it would have been a perfect opportunity for a new iteration of the attraction. The future of the Guardians franchise does cloud the idea of the ride headed to Paris. Why bring an attraction to a park when the films are finished?

The arrival of a new Pixar show this Summer is yet another thing to look forward to. The show will replace the temporary Meet and Greet location in Studio Theatre and is titled ‘Pixar: We Belong Together’. Both of the park’s recent stage shows Mickey and the Magician and Marvel: Super Heroes United were excellent so I’m sure this Pixar one will be too. Hopefully, Disney can get to the point where they can rotate multiple shows seasonly, even bringing Rogers: The Musical to Paris, perhaps?

What do you think about the expansion as of today? Is there anything new you want to see brought to Disneyland Paris for the third expansion pad?

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