When Disneyland Paris, then called EuroDisney, opened in 1992, it was seen as something of a boondoggle, with a lack of thematic clarity and poor attendance. It's commonly seen as one of the biggest blights on Michael Eisner's tenure as the head of the Disney company (detailed lovingly in James B. Stewart's "Disney War"). For years the park (which now includes a second gate) has limped along, surviving via a series of last-minute financial interventions and government subsidies but still struggling due to its massive financial debt. Still, it's one of the more unique Disney parks in the world, particularly when it comes to the Jules Verne-indebted version of Tomorrowland (complete with the only Space Mountain that shoots passengers outside of the building -- and upside down) and this summer will have a huge feather in its cap with the addition of an entire "Ratatouille"-themed section of the park.
The park has released the first teaser of the project, and it already has us looking up cheap European airfare.
The teaser begins with a memorable moment from Brad Bird's brilliant film, with our heroic rat-chef Remy (Patton Oswalt), climbing up the side of a Parisian building. Except, this time, when he gets to the top, he sees the twinkling lights of Disneyland Paris, with fireworks wishing you happy holidays in a number of languages bursting overhead. Then we get a "2014" and the Disneyland Paris logo.
In an accompanying press release describing this section of Walt Disney Studios (the second gate in Paris, loosely modeled after Florida's Disney's Hollywood Studios), the park promises that "the public will be able to find a family at the heart of his culinary adventure full of twists and turns." The big ride, which doesn't have an acceptable English translation (the closest is something like Ratatouille: The Totally Zany Adventures of Remy, which is kind of awesome) is a high-tech version of the classic Disney dark ride, with you assuming the role of a Remy-sized intruder on the famous Parisian eatery Gusteau's. The trackless ride system, akin to the recent Hong Kong Disneyland marvel Mystic Manor, is a marvel, and the production artwork we've seen, with giant humans narrowly swiping you, is pretty staggering.
When you leave the big ride, there will be some kind of simulator ride, a gift shop stocked with exclusive items (of course) and a version of Gusteau's restaurant where you can actually eat. It's going to be pretty exceptional, and while many see this as the park's last grasp at profitability, it should act as a nice shot in the arm for the entire complex (which includes an array of shopping complexes and hotels).
We can't wait to see this rat back in the kitchen!