The Disneyland Paris That Could Have Been: Speakeasies, Gangsters, and a 1920s Jazz Club

What happened when one man had to redesign Walt’s legacy, Main Street U.S.A.

Austin Carroll
18 min readApr 18, 2020


Between the time that Michael Eisner signed a letter of intent with the Prime Minister of France in 1985 and the opening of what was then called Euro Disneyland, in 1992, there was an explosive period of creativity among the Walt Disney Imagineering team.

This “Blue Sky” period saw designs featuring everything from an entire land contained in a large Space Mountain-style building called Discovery Mountain to a futuristic steampunk castle design.

Left: Discovery Mountain (; Artwork by Tim Delaney, Copyright Disney)| Right: Castle Design (Disney and

Why the sudden creativity for a park that was simply intended to build on the tradition established by the original Disneyland in 1955, supersized at the Magic Kingdom Park in 1971, and then polished at Tokyo Disneyland in 1983?

This time, the Imagineers were encouraged to think beyond the reused renderings and cloned attractions that had implemented in prior parks.

As this was the Walt Disney Company’s first park on the continent, a continent with a long tradition of regional amusement parks once inspired Walt Disney himself; Management was committed to making Euro Disneyland a unique park. Even Disney’s signature attractions like The Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain would be reimagined.

So, Disneyland Imagineers set to work, designing beautiful facades and wholly different attractions within the bounds of Frontierland, Adventureland, and Discoveryland (a renamed Tomorrowland). And at the entrance to it all, as was true in all of the parks at the time, lay a beautiful, and a bit contradictory given its Parisian address, Main Street U.S.A.

What does Main Street U.S.A. look like when it’s only twenty minutes outside of Paris, a city with one of the world’s most complex architectural histories?



Austin Carroll

Hello! My name is Austin & I am a product manager, career coach, and podcast host.