This series focuses on bringing new attractions, mini lands, restaurants, shops and more to the Disneyland Park! This is episode three of the series, in first one we re-imagined Frontierland, in the second one we re-imagined Adventureland!
Today, there’s Discoveryland. Oh, boy! Get your imagineering hats on!
As you can already see just by looking at the plan, except for Orbitron there was nothing left untouched. Buzz is gone, the Hypérion building got an entirely new interior (while the beautiful facade of course stays untouched), Star Wars was removed from the land altogether, as was the land-hogging Autopia, and the Nautilius walkthrough now serves as the entrance/exit and queue to a new dark ride. Plus, beyond the train tracks, there’s an entirely new mini-land dedicated to a (very disneyfied) life on Mars. So let’s dive into the details, shall we!
First off, why the massacre? Discoveryland, the undoubtedly most timeless of all the Tomorrowlands, has been in steady decline for a long time now with the original concept being slowly washed out by the desire to squeeze in IP. So the first step had to be to relocate all the IP that didn’t fit into lands where they would make actual sense. So all the Star Wars content goes into the new Star Wars land at Walt Disney Studios Park and Toy Story goes to, unsurprisingly, the existing Toy Story Playland in the same park. Which opens up a lot of possibilities for the now empty space:
Space Mountain needs the least amount of work of these. It is split into two versions of itself, an updated modern recreation of the original ride with beautiful setpieces and the original soundtrack – and an all-immersive virtual reality version that lets guests discover stunning new galaxies. Basically, the only difference for guests is if they do or don’t wear the provided VR goggles. Those would be stored in front of the guests in the ride vehicle so they either stay safely in their padded compartment or are worn.
Also, in an effort to improve upon a cohesive theming of the entire attraction, the indoor part of the queue has to receive a major update, seeing how currently there’s exactly no theming whatsoever safe for the last room before you enter the boarding area. I also don’t understand why all the queueing space in the covered boarding area is not utilized in favor of the indoor queue as the wait would be so much more interesting, watching the ride vehicles come and go, and just being outside in the fresh air instead of cooped up in an unthemed hallway.
To make boarding as quick as possible, guests are divided into two queues once they enter this reopened roofed section, one for the nostalgic and one for the high-tech version.
Buzz is reverted into Le Visionarium but the new attraction is only loosely connected to the original one. This new version is all about the visionary behind the Disney parks and his original creation, Disneyland : Walt Disney. Like the original attraction, it’s a 360° movie experience with an animatronic guide, Walt himself (similar to The Hall of Presidents), and his sidekick Figment (Epcot), and the guests experience the creation of the original Disneyland. Remember when Tony Stark created a 3D model of the Stark Expo in Iron Man 2? This is similar. While the guests are watching and Walt explains what’s going on via original recordings the park grows all around them until we reach today’s version of the park which will be actual 360° footage recorded in Anaheim. The layout of the attraction is somewhere in between Stitch’s Great Escape and the Epcot Preview Center with guests sitting around an ever-changing actual model on a round table in the middle of the room (think Game of Thrones intro) while the 3D holographic recreation of the park unfolds on the walls around them.
Then there’s Star Tours which was a really good fit for the land – until the decision was made to create an entire Star Wars land in WDS. That’s where a ridiculously updated version of this classic ride should be. What to do then with the current ride which has a still really fun ride system? My answer was to retheme it into something that fits Discoveryland better and to expand the attraction at the same time. The new version would be like a simplified Rise of the Resistance with two ride systems after one another. The guests are now going to Mars where the Buy n Large Corporation has built a settlement and the guides on this trip are Wall•E and Eve which are also the pilots of the StarSpeeder and the MarsCrawler, which are the two means of transportation on this journey.
Guests first board the StarSpeeder like usual, have some trouble of course getting to Mars with Asteroids, malfunctions, and a bit of an improvised landing in a sandstorm, then enter the arrival facility on Mars where they board the MarsCrawler, a vehicle similar to the one used at the Indiana Jones ride but with a protective glass roof. This second part of the ride is like a (much) improved version of Universal’s King Kong ride in Orlando with simulator-like parts at the start (out into the sandstorm) but more proper show scenes with added projection mapping towards the end.
The Crawler ride shows a very brief summary of a terraforming project from the original Mars planet surface to increasingly more man-made, greener and wetter environments that have been created to accommodate human life. Towards the end, guests pass the Colony Cantina, a counter service restaurant. Also before being released into the Colony, the guests see the planet’s vertical farming facility. Through the store, you enter into the Mars mini-land and have truly traveled to another place.
To achieve this transformation, the current Star Traders shop moves into the Starport building and gets rethemed to a celebration of Discoveryland, called World Discovery (as a nod to the new EPCOT area) and the Star Traders space is used as a queue area between the simulator and the crawler parts. This area is themed to an arrival facility and immigration area where the travelers from Earth are welcomed to Mars.
A part of the space is also walled off to connect the current queue for Star Tours to the new entrance which can be found in-between the current Starport and Mickey’s PhilharMagic (which has to be demolished to make space for the new attraction and exit-shop). The space currently occupied by Star Tours’ entrance is needed for the new transitional area between Discoveryland and Fantasyland and the train station queue.
On Mars, guests find the aforementioned counter service restaurant Colony Cantina, the table service Restaurant au Centre de la Galaxie (Space 220, Epcot), and the Tron ride that has a snack service attached. Tron will receive a retheme though to better (or at all) fit into the Mars setting: The story is, that shortly after the humans’ arrival on Mars, they were visited by bioluminescent alien critters with whom they ended up developing new technologies that now dominate the architecture and way of life at the settlement. One of their technologies is space bikes made of light with which they can travel from and back to their homeworld which guests are more than welcome to visit as well. As a blend of these new elements and the original ride, the attraction is called Lightcycle Homeworld Run.
According to this storyline, the whole Mars mini-land is an otherworldly, strongly colourful place with lots of lights and alien creatures peeking out of windows. Only the table service restaurant is yet a different theme, as it’s supposed to be a pre-alien space station that is still used to let people enjoy the sight of beautiful galaxies while munching on delicious food.
This mini-land is built on two floors which is mostly a technical necessity, as the Lightcycle launch is now in a tunnel under the walkway. So the walkway from the current Discoveryland to the toilets on Mars is on the ground level while the upper level can be reached by slopes on both sides of the hidden-mickey fountain leading up towards Tron, the Skyliner and the table service restaurant.
This upper floor can also be reached via a path and tunnel under the train tracks from close to where the exit of Space Mountain is. Further implications of this change in elevation are that the elevator at the Restaurant au Centre de la Galaxie actually does take you somewhere, even if it’s downstairs, also the Skyliner is already in an elevated position which makes it easier to get over the Disneyland Hotel parking and there’s less of the show-buildings to hide all around.
Speaking of the Skyliner, this is a new service just like the one at Walt Disney World which takes guests from Discoveryland-Station in Disneyland (as the Mars land doesn’t get an official name and is just part of Discoveryland) to the Avengers Helicarrier-Station in Walt Disney Studios Park, then the new lakeside hotel across from Sequoia Lodge and eventually to Paris’s 3rd gate, Disney’s World of Exploration situated at the very opposite end of the resort. To use this service, guests have to have a valid park hopper ticket. (More on this coming soon)
Let’s return to Discoveryland, though. Here, there are still three remaining offerings that need attention. All of these are used to strengthen the land’s original theme revolving around Jules Verne’s stories:
The mostly unused Hypérion building still hosts a counter service restaurant (which gets a new name though, Le Restaurant des Découvertes), but everything else is replaced by a new version of Soarin’ called La Tour du Monde en Quatre-Vingt Jours to fit the theme (most importantly, the blimp that’s already decorating the building).
Autopia is entirely removed from the park and in its place, we squeeze Tokyo Disney Sea’s Mysterious Island which was already designed in the same vein as Discoveryland, to begin with. A major change from Tokyo’s version is, though, that we’ll avoid the barrenness of the original as much as possible by adding as many trees and shrubbery as we can to keep the area nicely green and inviting.
Mysterious Island offers the amazing Journey to the Centre of the Earth attraction which is just renamed to its French counterpart, the Nemo submarine dinging in the Nautilus that had originally been proposed for Disneyland Paris, named The Captain’s Table, and a buffet restaurant, Volcania Restaurant, as well as a shop.
All of these are found on the ground floor (relative to the Discoveryland main area) which means we’re one floor higher than the original Autopia ride which is in great part on a lower level. This area, which makes up the middle of Mysterious Island, will be flooded in order to resemble the Tokyo version and also to allow for the new Aquatopia ride to function. This ride, also found at TDS, is based on the trackless ride system and provides important kinetics to the land. It uses the first part of the current Autopia queue with new stairs elements to bring guests down to water level.
The Nautilus is heavily featured throughout all of Discoveryland with the original submarine still in place next to Space Mountain, but also another one in the Mysterious Island Lagoon, and several of the smaller excursion subs scattered throughout the land. Also, as already described for Fantasyland, the entrance to the Under the Sea area is Nautilus-themed from the Discoveryland side. To have some cohesion between all these elements, there is going to be a fake underground / underwater connection between the Mysterious Island Lagoon and this Under the Sea entrance which is achieved by several glass panes on the floor of Discoveryland leading from one end to the other which show the excursion subs traveling between these locations. In a perfect world, these would be actual moving models which could be seen beyond the glass panes under your feet, but in reality, and with money constraints, it would probably be some sort of screen-based illusion.
The excursion subs are also the ride vehicles for the Nautilus attraction 20.000 Lieues sous les Mers which needs a new show-building beyond the berm but also uses the current Nautilus walkthrough as an elaborate queue. To hide the connecting tunnel from the train passengers, we add a train tunnel on top with the added benefit of Disneyland Paris finally getting the immaculate dinosaur show-scene from Anaheim as well. The ride itself is a copy of the Tokyo Disney Sea version.
That’s it for Discoveryland! What do you think? Let us know in the comments!
Thanks you WicketMrWombat for all the info and images!