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Disneyland Paris - Discoveryland – Part 1 – Entrance, Le Visionarium, and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast

When I was a kid, Tomorrowland at Disneyland, California was my favorite land. For me, Walt’s vision of the future was fantastic. Space-aged architecture and vast amounts of concrete created an exciting world for an impressionable mind.

In the early years, I could pilot a flying saucer, ride in a monorail, and visit the House of the Future. As Disneyland grew and changed I could blast off to the moon and then Mars or be shrunk to the size of an atom. For a young teenager, this was cool stuff. But as I grew older, my tastes changed and I started to appreciate the less sterile, and more graceful charms of New Orleans Square or the rustic characteristics of Frontierland.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the attractions Tomorrowland had to offer. But this was no longer a place I wanted to “hang out.” Tomorrowland was “cold.”

One of the continual problems Disney has faced over the years is that Tomorrowland keeps becoming Todayland. Technology changes so rapidly that it was/is a constant battle to keep the realm of the future futuristic.

When the Imagineers started to design Disneyland Paris, this problem was forefront in their minds. How do you design a Tomorrowland that won’t need to be ripped out and reconstructed every ten or fifteen years?

The answer to their problem… don’t build Tomorrowland. Instead, build Discoveryland. This would be a vision of the future as seen through the eyes of such visionaries as Leonardo da Vinci, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. In other words, what the men of the past thought the 20th and 21st century would look like.

The architecture in Discoveryland is stunning, imaginative, and warm. Giant pavilions built with Iron girders, an airship, a submarine, and a massive cannon populate the area. And a vibrant color palate brings life to everything. This is a place that as an adult, I feel very comfortable. I like to “hang out” in Discoveryland.

The Imagineers have tried to retrofit Disneyland, California and the Magic Kingdom in Florida with this Discoveryland theming. They have had modest success, but neither comes close to the wonderful atmosphere achieved in Paris.

Like Frontierland and Adventureland, Discoveryland is set back from The Hub. An intricate armillary sphere marks the land’s beginning and volcanic rocks thrusting from the earth point inward toward the “future.”


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland

Disneyland Paris Discoveryland

Disneyland Paris Discoveryland


Once you enter Discoveryland, a park-like memorial sets the mood for the adventures to come. On a plaque, the following phrase is engraved:

Tout ce qui est dans la limite du possible doit etre et sera accompli.

Which translates:

All that is within the limit of possibility must be and will be accomplished.


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland


At all Disney parks, attractions are constantly being updated or replaced completely and Disneyland Paris is no exception.

“Le Visionarium” in Discoveryland was an opening day attraction. This 360-degree movie was filmed for Disneyland Paris and was later adapted for the Magic Kingdom in Florida and Tokyo Disneyland. We know this attraction better as “The Timekeeper” (or “From Time to Time” as it was originally titled in the U.S.)


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Le Visionarium


“Le Visionarium” was narrated by an audioanimatronic robot named The Timekeeper. With the help of his assistant 9-Eye and his time machine, we were spirited all over Europe from the age of the dinosaurs to the year 2189. The European version featured a hot-air balloon ride over Red Square in Moscow. This was cut from the American version and a flight over Manhattan was substituted.


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Le Visionarium

Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Le Visionarium


“Le Visionarium” (and The Timekeeper) has closed in all three parks. In Florida it was replaced by “Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor” and in Tokyo it was been replaced by “Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters.” In Paris, it was replaced by “Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.”

Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast

This attraction was still under construction on my last visit to Disneyland Paris. But thanks to my friend TDLFAN, I have a few pictures to share with you. Like its overseas cousins, this is a “dark” ride shooting gallery where you use laser guns to hit various targets and rack up points.


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast


The California, Tokyo, and Hong Kong versions of this ride are practically identical. TDLFAN tells me that the Paris version is same as the other three. Florida, being the first incarnation of this ride, has a different track layout. Also, in Florida the laser guns are attached directly to the ride vehicle. In the other four parks the laser gun is attached to the vehicle via a cable. This allows for much better control and aiming.

This is a great ride that all ages can enjoy. Fastpass is available for this attraction.


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast

Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast


There is a cute shop near the entrance of Discoveryland called Constellations. For the most part, this is just another souvenir shop selling appropriately themed merchandise. But what makes this shop special for me is the decorative ceiling.


Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Constellations

Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Constellations

Disneyland Paris Discoveryland Constellations


In my next blog I’ll be discussing Orbitron and Videopolis.

The previous post in this blog was TREN-D – Downtown Disney Marketplace.

The next post in this blog is Animal Kingdom - Pwani View Guest House.

Comments (6)

David Cran:

I love Discvoeryland, and think the Honey I shrunk the audience ride is fantastic, it replaced a strange michael jackson ride I seem to remember, did any other parks have this odd 3D ride?

Answer:

The attraction you're thinking of was called Captain EO. It starred Michael Jackson, was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and produced by George Lucas. It was a 3D movie, like "Honey, I Shrunk..." but it didn't have any special effects. It also played in Tokyo, Florida, and California. At all four locations, Captain EO was replaced by Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. In doing so, the theaters had to be completely gutted as a new floor had to be built to support the bouncing effect created once you're shrunk.

Susan Rehwalt:

This article got me thinking that I need to start looking up! I never thought to look at the ceilings for Disney art, maybe even a hidden mickey.

Mukta:

After weekly trips to Disneyland and annual trips to WDW, I am going to Disneyland Paris in a few weeks and your blog has been very informative. It has also helped me get more excited about my trip. Thank you!

Amy:

Wow, it looks like Steampunk land! It would be wonderful if they could get more of the retro-futuristic feel in Walt Disney World's Tomorrowland. It would also be a wonderful way to include Atlantis and Treasure Planet, two very overlooked movies, into the parks.

I must get to Disneyland Paris some day. Thank you for sharing it with us!

Kati Kirk:

I too have not been to Disneyland Paris, but I feel I need to make the trek across the Atlantic soon. I am a huge fan of retro and the imagineers have captured this feel beautifully. Thank you for shareing information about Disneyland Paris.

Marnix:

Hi,
I'm really enjoying your blog. And every day I'm hoping for a new episode. To bad you haven't been to Paris recently as there is changing a lot these years.

For one thing: your pictures of the Constellations shop are history and people looking for the flying Mickey will be disappointed. With the opening of Buzz Lightyear's Laser Blast the shop was rethemed with Buzz in in the middle with some 3-eyed guys. Also the outside sign of Mickey with the telescope was replaced by a similar sign with buzz.

Keep on the good work!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 21, 2009 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was TREN-D – Downtown Disney Marketplace.

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