A Star Wars overlay for Space Mountain
ED92 posted on Twitter: “Space Mountain expected to sport a Star Wars overlay at Disneyland Paris in 2017. Testing in progress..” – cue some jubilation for the great franchise which is Star Wars, but also a LOT of distress from the community who fear for the soul of Paris’ unique Space Mountain.
If you’re familiar with my opinions here and on the MagicalDLP podcast, you’ll know that I think Disneyland Paris should do more than just ‘refurbish’ things. I believe that real changes need to be made; things need to be different than before not just more shiny. I believe that’s what will attract more guests.
In the face of that, my heart pleads that this rumour won’t come to fruition and corrupt the soul of my favourite attraction. Meanwhile my head thinks it’s a good idea in the long run.
First off, let’s look at what this rumour entails – then we’ll get to the “fun” bit where I have an existential crisis about whether it’s a good idea or not.
This week Space Mountain has been undergoing what we believe is routine maintenance; a launch cable change. This happens relatively often. But this time ED92 is suggesting that testing is occurring for a Star Wars overlay – something we’ve seen no photographic evidence of.
Space Mountains around the world have recently been receiving Star Wars overlays, to become “Hyperspace Mountain”. Star Wars music blares from the onboard speakers and in amongst the usual stars and space objects are projections of star-fighters blasting each other – imagine the death star scene of the original Star Tours, only you’re on a rollercoaster not a motion simulator.
Space Mountain in Paris has the technology for this. It has onboard speakers (apparently to be improved along with the ride quality when new trains arrive in the scheduled short early 2017 refurbishment of the attraction) and a number of projection opportunities – could the famous supernova become a death star or an exploding Alderaan? Indeed, in late 2015 Paris’ Space Mountain underwent a long refurbishment to upgrade internal lights to LED and improve projections. Nothing changed, per se, about the ride, but it is possible that the facilities for a more adaptable theme were put into place.
Moreover, we know that Space Mountain has a scheduled short refurbishment in early 2017. We believe this is just for new trains, but could it also be to implement changes in the projections and music?
The likelihood would be that such an “overlay” would be temporary. Presumably just for the 2017 season: the resort’s 25th Anniversary celebrations.
And that’s why my head tells me this is actually a good idea: it’s temporary. We, as the kind of fans who write and read articles this this, know that this overlay would not be to Disney standards. The Parisian Space Mountain is green, with iron girders, rails, lights, accompanied by a steampunk submarine and has a massive Vernian cannon up one side. It’s a far cry from the white simplicity of other Space Mountains which has received Star Wars overlays; they are blank canvases but the one in Paris has an exterior and station which is unmistakeably NOT Star Wars. We see this as a problem, but I’m just not sure most casual guests do.
The fact is, Disneyland Paris needs more guests, and Star Wars is exactly the kind of thing which will attract them. A Star Wars rollercoaster at that! Many of us in the fan community lament the loss of De La Terre a La Lune, and how Mission 2 lacks the Victorian styled soul of the original story, but most guests don’t. Space Mountain: Mission 2 remains a highly popular attraction. I believe that a Star Wars overlay would not rub guests up the same way as it does with us. We’re nit-pickers and perfectionists, even purists, but the vast majority of guests at the resort are just there for a good time.
The crucial thing is that this would be temporary. Space Mountain might be selling its soul in 2017, but it would come back. In fact, if it proves to work with adaptable lights, music and projections, it might well come back a-new and refreshed. Maybe even an updated version of the original attraction. Or even like Rock ‘N’ Rollercoaster where different trains have different shows.
The brutal reality is that Disneyland Paris just doesn’t have much money. Ratatouille cost an awful lot, but has set the standard for future expansions. No longer is it acceptable to just build a single new attraction, it needs to be fully themed and to blend with its environment, just like attractions in the Disneyland Park do. But this is of course wildly expensive. If Disneyland Paris can sell the soul of Space Mountain for one year to ensure bumper ticket sales to help fund more expansions like Ratatouille, well hell, I’m all for it.
There are of course counter arguments to what I’ve said. Many would argue that a major upgrade to Star Tours and the Jedi Training Academy are enough Star Wars, and that if Space Mountain changes then Discoveryland might as well just forget its retro-futuristic theme because it’ll be all Star Wars or Buzz Lightyear. But, of course, an overlay would be temporary, and I think the marketable power of a Star Wars rollercoaster is stronger than a kid’s show and a motion simulator attraction – no matter how good they might be.
Then there is the argument that Disney is corrupting its high standards by filling an evidently not Star Wars attraction with Star Wars. Well frankly, I think it’s forgivable if it’s temporary. Equally, “Hyperspace Mountain” has been very popular and recent Imagineering projects (Shanghai and Frozen Ever After) have been met with rapturous popularity. Hopefully we can trust the Imagineers if they think this is a good idea.
What is perhaps more worrying is what this may say about the soul of Discoveryland and whether it retains its retrofuturistic essence. As I write this, the entrance rocks to the land are being taken up and word is that a new entrance is planned. If whatever this is loses the Victorian steampunk which is at the heart of Discoveryland then I personally would be highly concerned. I repeat my earlier claim that a Star Wars overlay to Space Mountain should be temporary; I dearly hope permanent corruptions of Disneyland Paris’ unique Discoveryland are not coming true.
In an ideal world this wouldn’t be necessary. Space Mountain would retain its gorgeous and unsure original Vernian theme, and something like Rock ‘N’ Rollercoaster would get a major re-theming to accommodate more Star Wars or other crowd pulling franchises. The problem is money. Disneyland Paris has to ‘cut corners’, as we might see it, in order to get guests into the parks. But I again repeat my earlier statement: if that leads to more money for expansions like Ratatouille – then let’s do it!
This is a rumour which is certainly not outlandish in plausability. And I kind of hope it’s going to happen…
In other news…
@DisneylandBerry suggests that the Sleeping Beauty Castle will ‘soon’ be slowly repainted over night, so that it won’t affect the look of the castle during the day or the evening spectacular of Dreams!.
@DisneylandBerry has also suggested that the major refurbishment of Studio Tram Tour scheduled for August 2016 to April 2017 is cancelled “for this year”. The Experience Enhancement Plan on the DLP website now suggests the refurbishment will commence in January 2017.
What are your thoughts on this Space Mountain rumour? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook and on Twitter @MagicalDLP !