At Disneyland® Paris, there’s a story behind every detail. Even when certain areas are fenced off for construction, the teams of Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Paris get creative. The Imagineers used the panels around the Big Thunder Mountain renovations and the Rivers of the Far West drainage to extend the Land’s theme, lessening the visual impact on Guests while keeping the Frontierland story alive.
“No prospectors! No visitors!”, “Western River Line announces that all river traffic has been halted due to low water” are just some of the phrases that decorate the panels around the Rivers of the Far West. Christine Tweedly and Laurent Cayuela, show writers at Imagineering, used this opportunity to inject a bit of humour, to add to Frontierland’s background story, and to underline the links between the Land’s various entities (Phantom Manor, Big Thunder Mountain, and even Cottonwood Creek Ranch).
A team worked on this project during almost two months, under the direction of Tracy Eck, Artistic Director at Disneyland Park. “The work surrounding the Lake will be extensive and will last several months, so it makes sense to decorate the panels. Not only will it help with our goal to minimize the visual impact for Frontierland Guests, but it will also distract from the construction, and be informative,” explained Tracy.
Once the signs were created in English (naturally the main language in Frontierland, given its geographical location), they were also written in French – not simply translated word-for-word, but fully transformed. When the text was finalised in both languages, it was up to David Goebel, Graphic Designer, to transform them into images. He was inspired largely by the style of the time, in order to create the most realistic images possible. “I looked at how people communicated in the Wild West, in the 19th century; I researched what signs looked like, what kind of fonts they used, what kind of pictures. I also played with some of the images and graphics that are familiar to Guests at Disneyland Park, like Phantom Manor,” he explains. David began his career as a ride Operator and Presenter at Frontierland, where he has since been able to mix his passion for art history with his work. This project is bringing David back to his geographical roots, but not for the first time: he had already worked on the tromp l’oeuil canvasses that covered the dry-docks at the Mark Twain and the Molly Brown.
Though Guests and fans have already been giving positive feedback on the signs, the definitive versions are not yet up. Soon, sturdier final versions will be installed, featuring embossed lettering. There’s also talk of artwork that will feature photo opportunities for Guests along the panels. As for David, he’s already starting new projects, like a trompe l’oeuil canvas that will go up between now and the Christmas holiday to hide Main Street Station.