As Disneyland Paris celebrates its 20th anniversary next month, it will do so with an eye firmly on the future.
After all, this is a park which at one point was innovating for its very survival — back in the 1990s, it was only a rebrand and the opening of Space Mountain which saved the park from disappearing just a few years after its launch.
Even today, theme park visitors are a fickle bunch, demanding new entertainment and attractions to stay loyal — and with new technologically-advanced special effects and intricate story lines prompting some to talk of a second Golden Age in theme park development, its no surprise that parks around the world are stepping up their efforts to wow the crowds.
Earlier this year, Disneyland Paris signaled that it was not about to be left behind in the wars to build new attractions, revealing that it has secured €150 million from its parent company to build a multi-year expansion of the park.
At least some of that cash is rumoured to be going on a new Ratotouille attraction for the park, which is said to use state-of-the-art 3D projections and sophisticated ‘trackless’ cars that will allow guests to follow Remy in a chase through a virtual kitchen.
This week, Disneyland Paris boss Philippe Gas also appeared to confirm that another new attraction would open in 2014, with fan sites speculating that new 3D shows or a new tram tour could be in the works.
All of that, of course, is on top of the existing plans for the 20th anniversary this year, which includes a whole set of new refurbishments for the park, including a revamped La Tanière du Dragon attraction, a rebuilt Captain Hook Pirate Ship and the dazzling new Disney Dreams show, scheduled to open April 1.
Steve Davison, the producer of Disney Dreams, recently told fans that the new show will give Disneyland Paris the ‘brightest show lasers in the world’ as part of the spectacular, which also includes water screens and pyrotechnics.
In America too, Disney is working hard to catch up with its competitors, ThemeParkInsider.com’s Robert Niles told us.
“Universal Orlando’s opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010 has taken the theme park industry to a new level of competitiveness. This is the first time that Disney’s been seriously challenged, and Disney’s not taking the challenge lightly,” he explained.
“Walt Disney World’s working on a massive expansion of its Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom theme park and in California, Disney’s about to open a billion-dollar expansion and renovation of its California Adventure theme park.”
Asia, where much of the growth in global theme park attendance figures has been in recent years, is also seeing an unprecedented boom in investment.
In 2016, a new Disneyland park is expected to open in Shanghai, combining traditional Disney attractions with Chinese influences to create a resort which is expected to be three times the size of the nearest Disneyland, which opened in Hong Kong in 2005.
Unsurprisingly, that’s forcing underperforming Hong Kong Disneyland to examine its own future, with a huge investment program underway which will see the creation of three new attractions by 2013 including Toy Story Land, which opened to the public in November 2011, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point.
In Tokyo, which boasts two Disney parks, work is underway on a host of new attractions as part of an investment program which runs through 2016, with the next grand opening slated to be Toy Story Mania!, which will welcome its first guests this summer.
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