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Disneyland Article
California vs. Paris: The Lands of The Future - Part Two
Hugh Allison
This month I shall continue my comparison of California's Tomorrowland with Paris's Discoveryland, by looking at their versions of Nautilus and Star Tours, as well as the two Lands' arcades, shows, theatres and eateries

Les Mysteres du Nautilus at Disneyland Paris is nothing like the submarine attraction in California, either in its present Finding Nemo state or its previous incarnation. Contrary to popular belief, the Anaheim submarine voyage was never themed on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea even though the Florida version was, and the Tokyo version still is.

If Les Mysteres du Nautilus was to be compared to anything in the Anaheim park's history, it would be the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Exhibit where Star Tours: The Adventures Continue now stands.

In both Nautilus and Exhibit, Guests would encounter various set-pieces from the 1954 Kirk Douglas film and then watch a squid try to attack the submarine. A lot of the interior decor is very similar from the piping, gauges, maps and books to the diving chamber with diving suits nearby.

In many ways, the Anaheim version would have been the more superior, in that it used genuine props from the film, rather than replicas. At the time, letting the public so near to movie props was a lot rarer than it is today, and the film was hot stuff having won two Oscars in the Park's opening year. It therefore had details (such as a Harper Goff model sub) which would not work in the Paris equivalent.

Paris has an organ like the one in the film; California had the one used in the film. That original organ (with different pipes) currently resides in New Orleans Square, in the Ballroom scene of Haunted Mansion.

France's organ does have an effect which California's didn't; every now and again the face of James Mason (who played Nemo in the film) would appear above the keys.

Thematically, however, the Paris version is preferable due to the (false) idea that the Guests are underwater in a submarine themselves, rather than being in a standard ground level show building. This gives the Guests a long walk (including using a spiral staircase and a pretty empty corridor) at the start and end of the attraction which is pretty boring, and not as tension setting as it would like to be. There is an elevator option for those less able to use stairs, but this is equally dull.

In Paris' favor, Nautilus has some interesting lighting effects and some details (such as a pile of treasure) which didn't appear in Anaheim.

The squid effect (and its storyline) is very similar in both versions; whilst looking out of a porthole, Guests notice a squid go past. It starts to attack, but a zap of electricity repels it. In Paris, this effect is practically over before it has begun, and it doesn't have the history of Anaheim's (where it was co-painted by Walt himself on the eve of Opening Day) yet France has two squids (one either side) whereas California only had one.

Whether or not something based on 20,000 Leagues has a place in a Land themed to the future is debatable. The same could also be said about anything Star Wars related, seeing as these films were set a long time ago, albeit in a galaxy far far away.

Star Tours in Paris has not had the makeover yet into The Adventures Continue which the versions stateside have already undergone, and the Tokyo version is currently undergoing. The Paris attraction is very similar to the original California one, even down to the in-jokes being paged during the pre-show. The Paris ride has some lines of dialogue dubbed into French, and there are six simulators rather than four, but otherwise the two were pretty interchangeable.

In California, Guests exiting Star Tours: The Adventures Continue end up in a gift-shop called The Star Trader. Although Disneyland Paris has a store with a similar name (Star Traders), it is much smaller and is in a building all to itself.

In Paris, Guests exiting Star Tours end up in L'Astroport Services Interstellaires which used to feature several fun interactive elements, but now is merely a video games arcade, where all activities cost extra. The only element to remain from L'Astroport's heyday is ROX-N a robot (supposedly the girlfriend of your Star Tours pilot RX-24) who welcomes you in different languages and tells jokes. Her volume is now usually so low one has difficulty understanding what she is saying.

Whereas Tomorrowland only has one arcade (Starcade), L'Astroport is one of three arcades in Discoveryland. The other two (Arcade Alpha and Arcade Beta) were once areas where Philips Electronic would demonstrate their latest gizmos, and are part of a large complex called Videopolis, which also houses The Videopolis Theatre. Over the years, this has gone from having stage shows about funky kids looking for adventure, to theatrical adaptations of The Lion King and Mulan, to performances of The African Tam Tams (a drumming and dancing troupe usually found in Adventureland), to just showing cartoon clips. In fact, the only live shows found in Discoveryland nowadays are the seemingly impromptu dance shows outside Space Mountain which feature Stitch and what appears to be a giant twister board.

Over the years, Discoveryland has had two other arcades: Arcade Omega (which has been incorporated into to backstage area for Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast) and a small section of Buzz Lightyear's Pizza Planet. The latter now only features soft attractions, such as slides, aimed for the under-fives. As per Tomorrowland's nearest equivalent, Redd Rockett's Pizza Port, this place has limited menus and is often full of loud hungry children running around, whilst their parents/guardians gently collapse over any available tables they can find.

Also in Videopolis is the Cafe Hyperion, named after the airship from The Island at the Top of the World. A replica of said airship, complete with gulls, is above the main entrance to this eatery. At the time the park opened, this was the largest prop manufactured for a Disney theme park; Cafe Hyperion was also Europe's biggest fast food establishment.

Cafe Hyperion being linked to The Videopolis Theatre is not too different to California's Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant being linked to Club Buzz, which is where the Jedi Training Academy currently takes place. The fast food on offer is pretty similar at the two, as is the inverse proportionality of the proximity to showtime with the number of available seats left for those wishing to merely dine.

Although both Discoveryland and Tomorrowland feature beverage carts, the former doesn't have an equivalent of "The Spirit of Refreshment" where bottled drinks can be launched at high speeds through a rocket nozzle. Discoveryland also has Cool Station and Rocket Cafe for light snacks such as brioches.

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