This month, I shall be comparing the Adventurelands found in the two Disneyland parks closest to my heart (California and Paris).
Standing in front of the castle, with your back to Main Street, U.S.A./World Bazaar, the first land you encounter clockwise in four of the five Magic Kingdoms is Adventureland. Internet rumors abound that in Shanghai, Adventureland will take up the Tomorrowland/Discoveryland position to the East of the Hub. However, for now, Disneyland Paris has the only "park one" where Adventureland is to be found elsewhere; it is located between Frontierland and Fantasyland.
Walt's original idea for this section of Anaheim was to be called "True-Life Adventureland", featuring live animals, based on the Disney documentary series shown in American movie theaters from the late 1940s until 1960. Although this never materialized, the Adventureland which opened with the rest of the park was immediately popular (albeit the smallest land at the time) and its success was put down to the inclusion of the smallest details, such as the live recordings of animal sounds used as ambience, which differed depending on the time of day.
Currently, Anaheim's Adventureland is set mainly in Africa but with some design features reminiscent of French Polynesia and the Middle East. Throughout its history, it has been more prominently set in other locations but one always gets the feeling that the attractions influenced the look, rather than the other way round.
In Paris, Adventureland feels a lot more natural. It is set more obviously in disparate locations, such as Caribbean Plaza and Adventureland Bazaar, but this works to its favor. Either side of the main entrance to the latter section, one finds images of compasses, based on the logo for Walt Disney's True-Life Adventures, as a reference to the intended history of the Anaheim park.
Not including supping, shops and shows (seasonal and otherwise, past and present) there is very little to do in either version of this Land: there are fewer attractions in Adventureland in Paris than in any other land; in California only New Orleans Square and Critter Country have fewer.
The four attractions in Anaheim's Adventureland are Tarzan's Treehouse, Jungle Cruise, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room and Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye. There are no direct versions of any of these in Disneyland Paris, although there is an equivalent of Swiss Family Treehouse, the California attraction which Tarzan's Treehouse replaced in 1999. The French version, La Cabane des Robinson, was an opening day attraction and is the only artificial tree in the resort. The idea behind the attraction is much the same as the Disneyland original, but the tree is taller (89ft as opposed to 70ft) and has a few details not included in the California version, such as the nearby wreck of the Robinson's vessel, and a walk-through root cellar.
The reasons for Paris not having an equivalent of Jungle Cruise have been put down to the language issue, as well as the climate not being right for either outdoor animatronics or thematically suitable plants. The land does however feature a boat based on the eponymous one from The African Queen (which Jungle Cruise was partly inspired by) outside of a counter-service restaurant called Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost.
The Explorer's Club (the original table-service eatery, where Colonel Hathi's now stands) once featured animatronic birds which would sing on occasion. The birds, located in a tree at the center of the building, still exist, but are now rarely-if-ever switched on. This design was reminiscent of Walt's original idea for California's Tiki Room; a restaurant where the birds performed whilst Guests ate. To a lesser extent, this also reflects one of the early notions for Disneyland's Club 33, where an audio-animatronic vulture would have interacted with those dining.
Original concept art for the Explorer's Club showed Indiana Jones as a meet-and-greet character, who would interact with diners. Although this didn't occur, there are still printed references to the Explorer's Club in the queue area for the Paris Indy ride (Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril) on some of the crates. This attraction is nothing like Temple of the Forbidden Eye, and is a run-away mine-car rollercoaster with minimal theming, rather than Anaheim's $100,000,000 Enhanced Motion Vehicle attraction.
There are a few similarities between the two attractions; both have FASTPASS, a jeep in the queue area and music based on John William's original film scores. The differences though are much more numerous; in France, Indy himself does not appear, the ride's bumpiness doesn't seem to be as intentional and the attraction is outside rather than inside.
Of note though, Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril was the world's first Disney attraction to feature an inversion, and is still the Disney attraction with the greatest height requirement to ride unaccompanied (54 inches). Also of note, is that for four years (2000-2004) the cars were turned to face the other direction, so the riders could not see which way they would be going next.
Unique to the Adventureland in Disneyland Paris is Le Passage Enchanté d'Aladdin, a walkthrough attraction, where you pass nine miniature tableaux telling Disney's version of the story, as per the 1992 film. This attraction is often overlooked by Guests, and doesn't mean much to people who haven't seen the movie, but it is incredibly detailed and makes good use of the Pepper's Ghost effect. With the exception of the music and the dialogue painted by the opening/closing images (which are in French) the attraction is bi-lingual; it is easy to navigate around, and with no potential risks, this is the only location in the whole resort which I have never seen a Cast Member at.
The remaining attractions in the Adventureland of Disneyland Paris have equivalents which could be found in other areas of Disneyland in California. These include Pirates of the Caribbean, found in New Orleans Square in Anaheim, and Adventure Isle. The latter resembles Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, but features some architectural elements, such as Skull Rock and Captain Hook's Galley, from Anaheim's pre-1983 Fantasyland. Both Pirates of the Caribbean and Adventure Isle will be the subject of future comparison articles
With thanks to David Koenig and Raz Razzle.
Hugh is a former Cast Member, who now lives in London. He is currently writing a Mouse Tales style book about Disneyland Paris for Bonaventure Press.
Hugh Allison Can Be Contacted at:
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