There’s Gold in Marne-le-Vallee!

May 22, 2022

View of Thunder Mountain and surroundings.

It’s part of my work habit routine to carry a sketch book whenever I’m working.  And I carry the sketchbook to use in my home studio, the company work office or on the project site.  There is always something to see, something to catch my interest, and someone who has a design question to answer.  Over decades I purchased many sketch books that I’d fill and store, and this week I opened a storage box which contained a set of sketch books dating back to the early 1990s.  One of the books which caught my interest documented my idea to add a gold mining company in Frontierland close to Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris.

Sketch books pages with Thunder Mountain Mining Company notes.
Sketch books pages with Thunder Mountain Mining Company notes.

I confess my idea has its roots in the classic pan for gold attraction at Knott’s Berry Farm.  Several times in the Ghost Town I swirled my flat pan looking for gold which I took home and quickly lost.  But the concept of gold panning had merit and that’s what I wanted to create in Marne-le-Vallee.  A gold mining camp that would pay off the gold mine located within Thunder Mountain.

A featured player would be the ‘Prospector’.

The location I selected was near the station for Thunder Mountain and the attraction was made up of several play activities.  These sketch pages shown some of my thinking as I explored what I thought the area should contain.

All these elements would have been in a mining camp near the river and in this sketch shows an overview of the camp.

Sketch of the Thunder Mountain Mining Company.

Part of the reason I explored this idea was to escape being type cast within WDI.  After working on Mickey’s Toontown I was the go-to-guy for projects involving the Disney characters, and after working on Rock n’ Roller Coaster, I was the one to ask to create edgy music-based projects.  I saw type casting happen to other designers and I didn’t want that for me because it would limit my opportunities.

Details of the Thunder Mountain Mining Company.

Thunder Mine Company wasn’t asked for, no one wanted to see it and no one would be interested in supporting the idea as a project.  So, the idea sat in my sketch book until now when I’m sharing it with you.  The lesson is to be prepared to fail while pursuing passions of interest.  Being ready to fail results in a life that is never boring.

One thought on “There’s Gold in Marne-le-Vallee!”

  1. Just re-connected with your blog and love this post. The idea to link a major E-ticket with a more kid-friendly play and discovery experience is really interesting. WDW tried to do a bit of that with the enhanced queue ideas for Haunted Mansion, albeit at smaller scale. BTM is most amazing at EDL, and I like how your idea pluses it up further.

    BTW, due to your really great Twitter presence, I had forgotten about the blog. I hope more people find and enjoy these pieces. Cheers!


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