Walt Disney Studios park - do we need a hero?

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Hey guys,

If you're in the know you might have seen D23 expo has been to Japan, celebrating all things Disney, the expo ran from February 10th - 12th 2018. It covers everything from games and film, to parks and resorts and is a huge event on the Disney fan calendar. Now when it comes to events like D23, and in particular the parks and resorts panel, it's hard not to be a little selfish! Of course it's great to see what is coming to all the parks, but what we really want to hear most is announcements about our home park, be that Paris, Florida, California or beyond, we want to know what's coming next to the place we call home.

Well lucky for any Disneyland Paris fans, Monday's park panel delivered and, as confirmed by DLP themselves in a press release the same day, change is coming to Walt Disney Studios park. Now I've covered the studios park before, the second gate to DLP opened in 2002 and although it has expanded in it's nearly 16 years, it's hard to disagree that the park just isn't up to the Disney standard. I asked before if it was time for a change, and even made some suggestions as to what I'd want to see, but now change is actually starting, and I for one am very excited about it.

So what do we know? Well not a huge amount actually, the press brief was very brief but what we do know for certain is that Rock n Roller coaster, featuring Aerosmith, is all set for a complete overhaul with a new Marvel theme, specifically Iron man and the Avengers. The press release didn't confirm a date for closure of the current attraction, or completion of the new attraction, but I expect this will follow over the next month or so as the extent of the change will become more clear.

Does this come as a huge surprise? Well no. When Cinemagique closed it's doors, and a marvel themed replacement was confirmed fans speculated that a Marvel themed area of the park wouldn't be out of the questiont. Next came the announcement of Marvel summer of Heroes, and the rumoured re-theme of Tower of Terror into Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission breakout, to match Disney's California Adventure. Then there was subsequent reporting of the re-theme being "shelved". So no, the announcement of an attraction closing to under go a transformation into something with a Marvel theme wasn't a bolt out of the blue.

But what about Rock N Roller? One of the opening day attractions in Walt Disney Studios it is situated in the Backlot area of the park, opposite Blockbuster café and the Spider-Man Meet and Greet, it's one of the fastest roller coasters (if not the fastest) and as the name would suggest is themed around the band Aerosmith. The DLP version has a few differences to it's American predecessor at Hollywood studios, most notably it is themed as a music video experience in Paris, and an high speed car trip in the US version.

As I'm not a huge coaster fan and don't know a huge amount about the ride or it's place in Disney parks history, I asked my friend Matty from Discovery Mountain if he could shed some light on the ride for me.

"Rock N Roller coaster Avec Aerosmith" is a Vekoma LSM launch coaster, the track layout is a clone of the attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios and was custom designed by Walt Disney Imagineering and Vekoma. Rock n Roller continues to be the fastest Disney coaster, and is still the fastest roller coaster in France with a top speed of 57 mph!

He then went on to describe the ride experience for me, which as I've never ridden it, I found really interesting!

The coaster sets off and moves into the launch position, a large LED sign counts down along with the voice of Steven Tyler 3,2,1 and you're off, the coaster travels along the launch tunnel going from 0 to 57 mph in 2.8 seconds. The ride features a half loop, followed by a double corkscrew, and then turns and twists around the rest of the show building. The ride features a full Aerosmith backing track throughout and an extravagant light show, there is one final corkscrew before the brake run.

So that's the current ride in a nutshell, it's worth noting that the ride has an on board photo op, and already has a fast pass entrance in operation, both of which it is safe to assume will carry over to the new ride.

Now that we understand what we're saying good bye to, what do I think about the change? Well to be honest I'm pretty excited, even though I have no intention of riding Rock n Roller before it departs, or it's replacement once it opens. Since it's acquistion by Disney Marvel has started to make its presence among Disney parks to mixed reviews, Tower of Terror fans were disappointed to see the tower in Califonia replaced by Mission Breakout, but once it opened there were a lot of positive reviews on the ride and the theme inside the tower.

Marvel day at sea has provided a presence of the IP on the Disney Cruise lines and is very popular, and alongside the announcement of an Iron Man/Avengers attraction for Paris at D23, an Ant man ride for Hong Kong Disneyland, which is it's second Marvel attraction following on from their Iron Man Experience, and finally, a family friendly Guardians of the Galaxy ride for Epcot in Walt Disney World. So as you can see the Marvel IP is being incorporated into many of the Disney parks and is already proving to be popular.

Walt Disney Studios has always been a park that hasn't lived up to standard, and the back lot area in particular is quite an eyesore, it feels almost baron, it lacks theme, and has very little draw, I'm lucky if I visit once a trip! The Toy Story Playland and Place de Remy areas of the park have the most draw for me, they are beautifully themed and they feel immersive, fresh and exciting. Even if the rides aren't appealing to you the area still has something worth going to see, this is exactly what I'm hoping for with the regeneration of the Back lot area, a change that starts with Rock n Roller.

So why is Rock n Roller going, can't we just have a new attraction? Well the fact is new rides are expensive. Until recently (and even then the facts are sketchy) DLP has been a loss making resort, and a re theme is much cheaper than the development and construction of a new ride. Rock n Roller also features the band Aerosmith, a license that probably has an additional cost to keep in the park, so a re theme to a Disney owned IP would potentially produce a cost saving!

But of course Armageddon has once again survived the chop and fans have been quick to point this out and question why other, more popular attractions have gone before this one. I don't have an official answer, but I do have a theory! My best guess would be that the Armageddon attraction just doesn't easy lend it's self to a quick re-theme. I personally cannot thing of a good overlay that would work with the existing show building and what's already inside. I would assume this means the intention is to rip the existing attraction out and use the show building for something else, which again would be at a higher cost, and a longer turn around time. I do believe, and for the sake of the resort I sincerely hope, that Armageddon's days are numbered.

So as I said, I truly believe this is a great step for Disneyland Paris, though I will probably never conquer my fear of coasters enough to ride it, I can't wait to see and here about the new overlay and can't wait to see the back lot area of the studios park transformed into something we can all be really proud of.
What about you? Will you miss Rock n Roller? Are you excited for an Avengers attraction? What should replace Armageddon, or will we be blighted with it forever? Drop me a comment!

Hoodsie xx


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