The Good, the Bad and the Ugly at Disney Village

Sunday, 1st July 2007 at 16:05

ImageNo no, this isn't a double edition of Frontierland articles. We're outside the parks now, at Disney Village, but still the word "ghosttown" is ringing in our heads... As the folks "behind the ears" continue to throw loose change at the Village with little care or thought, it's easy to class the changes in three typically Western categories - the Good, the Bad and the downright Ugly.,

As we’ve watched the Village change its colours over the past couple of years, removing pillars and the “starry sky”, adding garish colours and poorly designed signs, there’s no doubt the thought that has always been at the back of our minds – “It’s ok. It’s only temporary. Once Tower of Terror is complete, Disney Village will be next on the agenda.”

But what then? Sure, we might finally get a brand new ‘World of Disney’ Store, but in the old part of town, will all this work be replaced again? They’ll have another go, but with a bigger budget? When you stop to think about it, the future for the current street — unless they do something seriously drastic when they start to expand — doesn’t look that good after all. Nor does the present…

DLRP Today is a happy place, let’s not forget that. We’ve had complaints, we’ve had moans, we’ve had could-have-been-done-betters, but, of 300+ articles, very few contain anything remotely negative about Disneyland Resort Paris. In that spirit, let’s start with a few kind words before the real disappointment begins…

The GOOD

Now, it’s quite unfair to entirely blame the current team on the state of Disney Village. The blame really has to go back to the original lead architect – Frank Gehry – or better still the person who comissioned the entire project – Michael Eisner. It’s no secret Eisner wanted Disney to become reknowned for world-class modern architecture as well as world-class theme park design. Whilst he may have given us the most stunning Magic Kingdom, he also gave us the most stunning mess right outside its gates.

Frank Gehry’s minimalist, geometric styles are all well and good – but at Disneyland? Even upon opening, the effect of this rather clever, giant “outdoor warehouse” with its pillars and “roof” of lights was ruined by the necessary signage for Disney’s stores and restaurants. Minimalism needs to be minimalism, not minimalism-with-a-giant-‘STEAKHOUSE’-sign-stuck-on-top. It’s simply impossible for a place like Disneyland to use this type of architecture.

Recently, they’ve added even more to the blank, uninspiring buildings in an attempt to “soften” the atmosphere, such as the rather nice stencil lettering and blocks of colour across the front of Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon. Already one of the better-looking locations in the Village, the bar/restaurant and its adjoining Steakhouse have now been de-minimalised further with large boards wrapped around the top of their facades, finally giving them the look of real buildings, rather than overstated portakabins.

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With the boards also wrapping around the top of The Steakhouse, which still has a fairly empty front, could a final stage in the makeover see some extra decorations here?

The first refurbishments to the work carried out back in 2005 are also happening, such as the much-needed repainting of the dark red pillar bases.

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Even from a distance, the new, completed facade of the Disney Store is colourful, attention-grabbing and unmistakably “Disney”. With the balloons applied on top, the Village can now look colourful and welcoming even during the day… That said, whoever thought a red and white tape to cordon off the platform on the left would be OK needs to remember this is meant to be Disneyland, and not some war-torn country.

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Hurricanes has some rather nifty new projections across itself, and another new kiosk has popped up over by Disney’s Hotel New York to advertise the Marriot Ile-de-France vacation club. Simple, stylish and with an understated Disney touch – we need more like this, please!

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Ironically, it’s placed next to possibly the worst, ugliest, tackiest, (etc), feature in the entire resort – that New York “driving school” which continues to ruin the grounds of Hotel New York. Would the resort really not survive without this feature, would they have to close because they need the profit so much? No. So why, oh why, is it there?

The BAD

We’re definitely onto “the bad” now. You know, in almost an entire year of DLRP Today being online, we’ve rarely added any opinion or comment to our news reports about Disneyland Resort Paris. But when you see things like the “new” Disney Store facade, you just feel like screaming.

First and last impressions are always the ones people remember. With its location right at the heart of the resort, Disney Village is both the first location guests explore upon arriving and the last place they visit before leaving. Oh dear… Sure, there’s the excuse that all of the resort’s money is being pumped into the two parks right now, but that’s no excuse for awful design, especially when they clearly do have money to spend on Disney Village, and have in fact spent it on the following…

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The odd, 2D signage, apparently in the style of a child’s colouring book, looks even more bizarre when you take a closer look at the characters. It’s almost as if you’re hallucinating.

I’m sorry, you’re not.

The UGLY

And it gets worse. On the entrance of the Disney Store facing the Sports Bar, the cute “Mount Disney Store” decoration, featuring the heads of Donald, Mickey and Goofy rather than George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, has just been given an extra-special coat of paint…

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So what was once a fun salute to one of America’s greatest landmarks now becomes something that makes you feel like you just stepped through the gates of that fake Disneyland in Beijing. They could have taken this “American landmarks” theme and ran with it – Minnie Mouse as the Statue of Liberty, Daisy Duck in Hollywood… but no, that might be too boring. That wouldn’t look anywhere near enough like a rip-off market stall at all, it’d never work.

Come to think of it, Mount Rushmore is pretty boring isn’t it? It’s just a load of pale, grey rock. They really ought to follow the lead of Disney Village and get painting some bright primary colours across the faces of those dull presidents.

If they’re so intent on refurbishing Disney Village to a tight budget, a good place to start tightening the purse strings might have been shrinking the size of Donald and Mickey’s pupils, don’t you think?

Disney Village… will you ever be a worthy hub for Disneyland Resort Paris?

All photos by Photos Magiques.

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Comments

  • I concur. Disney Village is getting worse every day. Thanks for the report, I hope it causes some kind of reaction.

  • Disney Village definitely needs some work doing to it. It could be such a great place.

  • True Disney Village could be an awsome place. They should ask the guests what they think.

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