Did you know you can experience Disney magic without visiting a Disney Park? I'm not talking about your local Disney Store or the Disney Studios in Burbank, I mean those places spread across the world that, for a Disney theme park fan, can be just as magical as the Magic Kingdom itself; Such as the inspiration for the original Sleeping Beauty Castle - Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. Cross the border to Austria, though, and there's a piece of history sure to hold a special place in the heart of any Disneyland Resort Paris fan - a place that can still take you for a journey through time...,
Let’s begin our adventure beyond the berms 33km East of Paris, sometime between 12th April 1992 and 5th September 2004. Once inside the gates of Euro Disneyland, Disneyland Paris or Disneyland Park, we’re rushing straight for Discoveryland. At the entrance, the a circling, futuristic sundial and the impressive Reinstella draw us into Le Visionarium, the attraction proclaimed by Michael Eisner himself as his “favourite” in the entire park. When the magic begins, we’re treated to a journey through time and space, taking in great landmarks of Europe and great discoveries of the past, present and future.
The key location in the film “From Time To Time” is the towering pavillion of the 1900 Paris Expo, the “Conference sur le Future”. It was here that 9-Eye met Mr. Verne and H.G. Wells, where Verne clung onto 9-Eye to follow her through time and space, and where 9-Eye bashfully accepts a flower from the visionary master, with the location seen both in its 1900 heydey and 1990s pop-culture present.
Whilst the film and the attraction may have now been erased around the world, fans of the Timekeeper’s legendary voyage suffering from over 2 years of withdrawal should set their sights on only one place: Vienna. Here, just outside the city centre, SchloÃŸ SchÃ¶nbrunn is home not only to its historic palace and zoo, but to a creation like something out of Disneyland itself. It may be a palm house, but this has now become a true piece of Disney history…
Jumping off the number 58 tram, you head into the gardens of SchÃ¶nbrunn palace with an air of anticipation. Like a visit to Disneyland itself, you’re about to see something from a fictional legend come to life before your eyes, and, just as you see Space Mountain from the Eurostar or the Earful Tower from the autoroute, the Palmenhaus suddenly appears above the bushes and flowers.
Whilst the exterior of the Palmenhaus has become familiar with countless viewings of Le Visionarium, to then step inside the “Paris Expo” building is quite unique.
From the official website:
The Palm House is located on the site of the former Dutch Garden and was erected in 1881/2 to designs by Franz Xaver Segenschmid. One hundred and thirteen metres long, the Palm House consists of a 28-metre high central pavilion and two lateral pavilions which are three metres lower. Linked by tunnel-like passages, the pavilions contain different climatic zones: a ‘cold’ house to the north, a temperate zone in the central pavilion and a tropical climate in the south pavilion. The necessary temperatures are achieved by means of a steam heating system which means that rare specimens from all over the world can be grown here.
Besides the numerous stars and extras seen in the film, it’s clear that a large amount of set dressing was done to prepare the building, such as the addition of a raised entrance, clocks, banners… and French flags, of course.
This impressive iron construction used the most modern technology of its time, with the materials determining its form. The proportions of the convex and concave lines of the central and lateral pavilions are perfectly balanced and endow the iron structure with a perceptible lightness despite its massive dimensions. Inserted into the framework of the external iron construction, the glazing clings to the curved iron girders like a skin. The SchÃ¶nbrunn Palm House was the last of its type to be constructed in continental Europe.
The beauty of the building speaks for itself and seeing it for real is something truly special. Bringing back memories of Le Visionarium and reminders of Discovery Arcade in Main Street, it’s always a wonderful feeling to find a little piece of magic so far from the magic kingdom itself. Almost as if they expect crazed Disneyland Resort Paris fans to visit, even the modern tickets have been produced with a design right out of the late 19th Century.
So if you’re looking for a holiday besides a visit to Disneyland itself, or need a little dose of Le Visionarium memories after 2 years of absence, why not consider Vienna. Not for museums, Mozart or the beautiful architecture, but for a special piece of magic from the history of Euro Disney.
Click here for a quick reminder of Le Visionarium.