Armageddon to be averted by Narnia?

Friday, 13th June 2008 at 17:57

ImageIs the unpopular Armageddon - Les Effets Speciaux about to be replaced by a new Journey into Narnia? The Backlot attraction's days appear numbered as more strong rumours for the Studios' future hit the net.,

Friday the 13th is said to be “unlucky for some” and today the unfortunate party appears to be Armageddon – Les Effets Speciaux. Rumours have appeared online suggesting that the space station disaster simulator will soon have its impact averted — for good — by a new attraction, forever consigning it to the same early-2000s Imagineering dustbin as the Television Production Tour and Superstar Limo.

Due to take over Studio 7 if these plans come to fruition is a walkthrough attraction based on Disney’s blockbuster The Chronicles of Narnia films, the second of which, Prince Caspian, is due for release in Europe later this month.

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Artist’s impression. The artist has since been fired.

Gateway to Narnia

The rumours were shared by the — you could say — “infamous” La Rouquine of Disney Central Plaza forum, who states that the attraction would be a walkthrough “making of” experience of the Narnia films. Most importantly, perhaps, that this experience would be merely temporary — or at least have a somewhat limited lifespan — to be replaced in future years by something more permanent.

Reference is made to the Narnia walkthrough at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, which featured a “making of” tour with an appearance by the White Witch, Jadis. It is not known how similar the Parisian attraction could be to this, but our partner website WDSfans.com does provide a second confirmation of the plans and suggests an interactive element of some kind would likely be involved.

The most startling revelation of all this, perhaps, is that Jay Rasulo apparently stated on a recent trip to Disneyland Resort Paris — of which he was CEO from 1999 to 2003 — that he “never cared much” for either Armageddon – Les Effets Speciaux or Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic, attractions which he personally saw through planning, construction and opening. We’re awaiting the excuses for Toon Circus any day now.

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Hot Set due to be extinguished

Stepping through the wardrobe

Many questions are no doubt brought about by these rumours. Will the “walkthrough” be continuous, like Le Passage Enchanté d’Aladdin, for example, or regulated into groups like the current attraction? When would Armageddon close, and when would Narnia open, if the plans are green-lit? What changes would be made to the outside of Studio 7?

The biggest question for many already is simple and quite blunt: Why? Why would Disneyland Resort Paris want to replace a reasonably good, exclusive and most importantly permanent attraction with something that would only last a few years? It’s unlikely, after all, that the Narnia walkthrough would call for such exciting, unique effects as the gas explosions and vacuum of Armageddon‘s show room. And, in a park with just 12 real attractions, should one be swapped out for what sounds like a “smaller” experience?

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What now for the Armadillo? The props boneyard is calling…

There are, in fact, several answers here. Backlot goes completely against the regular make-up of a Disney land, presenting a thrill show, a roller coaster and a loud stunt show in one corner. Between those, there’s hardly anything to inspire a family with young children, particularly young girls. Just look to Discoveryland, where the one major thrill — Space Mountain: Mission 2 — is surrounded by several supporting attractions — Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast — to provide something for everyone.

Colour and magic

Adding a Narnia experience to Backlot’s Studio 7 would instantly bring interest to the area for a much younger audience, hopefully adding colour, stature and — most importantly — magic. Unlike 1998’s Armageddon, which has mostly been forgotten in favour of other, better science fiction films, Narnia is a series that will continue to a third film in 2010 and will likely be around for — well, forever — thanks to its roots as a series of books.

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The exit of Armageddon

The attraction itself, Armageddon – Les Effets Speciaux, does not rate particularly well due to its painfully long and uninteresting queue and pre-show. Just take a look at its revealing reviews and dismal ratings on our partner site DLRP Review, or — more interestingly — this week’s Question of the Week, which, we should add, is purely coincidental (though we now know already that the Imagineers will be happy with your answer…).

In addition, those same thrilling effects of Armageddon are likely expensive to run every 8-10 minutes and very expensive to maintain. For an attraction rating so low, is it worth it? Disney places a lot of importance on the so-called “park rating”, which finds an average based on the guest satisfaction of each attraction or entertainment. Swapping out a low satisfaction score even for something more temporary would instantly help the Studios to shoot up the scale, somewhat like the early retirement of the tired Disney Cinema Parade.

Guests go home happier, more likely to return.

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Narnia — a rich source of inspiration

Armageddon’s armageddon

The interesting thing here, however, is that Armageddon isn’t necessarily a “bad” attraction. Many are already arguing that a “real attraction” shouldn’t be lost in favour of a “temporary walkthrough”, even if Studio 7’s current occupant never really inspires much in the way of re-riding. Perhaps, if Armageddon had a much, much more interesting pre-show and — most importantly — a second main show room, to keep queues flowing, it could be saved.

But, as it happens, Armageddon – Les Effets Speciaux really is about to implode upon itself sometime in the next few years. Where should we hide, the wardrobe?

— Find everything about the current attraction on the DLRP Magic! Guidebook here.

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