The large auditorium including areas for the guests of the Hyperion Restaurant is matched by a gigantic high tech stage ...
While Space Mountain without doubt is the focal point of Discoveryland the Videopolis is an impressive, huge structure too and catches quiet a few eyes - thanks to the impressive airship Hyperion that rests in its hangar high above the heads of those guests making their way into the building...
But then even so the Hyperion is one of the optical highlights of the land and attracts guests it is not so much connected to the Videopolis but the Café Hyperion - the largest Fast-Food-restaurant of the Disneyland Park which is located inside the same building. So once the guest has passed below the Hyperion, which seems ready to leave its hangar any minute, with all the luggage already on board and the colorful flags decorated around, he won't find himself in the center of the auditorium, but to the left side of it, where the counters of the restaurant can be found. But from here guests have a great view over the actual auditorium which has two segments.
The lower half of the theater features benches in a stadium seating arrangement. Here guests are not only as close as they can get to the stage, that stretches far into the auditorium, but also get the best view. Thanks to the curved layout of the auditorium this is true wether a guest sits in the center right in front of the director's booth or more to the side. Behind the last row and the director's booth the second half of the auditorium is meant to be used by the guests of the Café Hyperion. On several levels guests can sit down on large tables to enjoy their snack (or full fledged meal) during the show.
This unique layout often prompts the question wether the Videopolis is a part of the Café Hyperion or wether it is the other way 'round. In fact it is neither of the two. The restaurant and the theater just share some parts of the building but both have their very own character and atmosphere. While the area below the Hyperion / in front of the counters has the feeling of a future airship-port taken out of a novel by Jules Verne with detailed world maps, brass details and a huge glass front so that the sunshine can flood it, the auditorium next to it has a more technical atmosphere.
Here the "nautical" green dominates with the beauty of the technics uncovered as the lighting system is just as visible as the steel core of the supporting columns with their impressive bolts. This "industry" look is beautifully combined with the layed-back golden applications, which provide a great addition to the shades of green and the steel especially in the proscenium of the impressive stage.
To soften the look of the interior a bit the rear wall in the back of the audience features a huge glass front and all the barrieres inside the building double as planting areas. This natural approach is continued in the wooden benches of the lower auditorium (which feature some surprising decoration details too). With the carpet floor in the seating areas (compared to stone in the aisles) the theater has a more cozy look than one might expect even so the guests especially in the rear (seated around the tables) will never forget how huge the whole structure is and especially how high above the stage the last level of the auditorium is located.
The huge monitors on both sides of the stage further strengthen the very positive industrical and technological look of the theater which sucessfully combines a certain Jules Verne feeling with modern aspects of technology. The later one can't be missed as far as the equipment of the theater is concerned. Certainly the whole structure is air conditioned and features the most state of the art sound and lighting system of any of the theaters at the Disneyland Resort Paris. Not only the stage but the whole building changes its atmosphere thanks to the lighting set up, that also casts some magic on the exterior facade managing to guide the eyes of the guest so that he never realizes how huge the whole building is - it never really dominates the area, even so its sheer size would make it more than well positioned to do so.
And as if outfitting the theater with the state of the art lighting system (including lasers) and a powerful sound system that provides perfect conditions all across the auditorium wouldn't be enough the stage also features nearly every technical extra a modern stage could be equipped with.
The result is the perfect set up for impressive shows with huge, incredible sets (that move and change in seconds) and stunning special effects that usually make the shows presented here the most unique and outstanding of the resort. Fittingly the gigantic auditorium (yes all those adjectives are necessary to get at least close to the feeling guests will encounter here) seats the largest crowds. So when do you step into the future of entertainment?
The Videopolis proudly combines the best traditions of Disney storytelling with the latest in effects and staging in a unique, stylish, in a way retro-SF, setting.
As detailed the Videopolis has two seating areas - the lower one consisting of benches in a stadium seating style offering the best view of the stage action is roped off till 30 to 20 minutes before the show starts. The upper half of the theater offering seating for guests of the Café Hyperion is open all day 'round.
While each row in the lower half is set higher only every second row of tables is set higher in the upper half offering only guests sitting on the tables in the front row of each level an acceptable view. In addition several columns may partially block the view of the stage from this area.
So as long as no party member insists on dining during the show (food & drinks aren't allowed in the stadium seating area) try to get a seat in the lower half.
For a seat in the lower stadium seating section you should arrive 30 to 20 minutes before the show starts. On busy days make sure you know from where guests are allowed to enter the seating area. Depending on the number of guests interested the indoor access from Café Hyperion to the seating may be roped off and guests will have to enter from outdoors opposite the FastPass-Entrance of Space Mountain, where a queuing area can be prepared (this is also the designated stroller parking area).
To get a table with a good view of the stage in the upper half of the theater you should arrive aproximately 40 minutes early.
Guests arriving late when all seats are taken may decide to watch the show standing either on the stairs leading up to the dining area or on the ramps to the left and the right of the stadium seating.
Strollers are not allowed in the stadium seating section of the auditorium and must be parked near the entrance opposite of the FastPass-entrance of Space Mountain in a designated area, when the rope is dropped and guests can proceed into the theater (in front of this area a queue-line for the stadium seating section may be set up too).
The Videopolis opened together with the Disneyland Park in 1992 sprting a very unusual concept: in between the shows music videoclips were meant to be shown on huge monitors and in the evening after the last performance the stage (and the are in front) was transformed into a disco complete with light show. This disco was meant to attract an audience of teenagers and young adults who were thought to want to top off their day there. Therefor the whole theater including the auditorium had been outfitted with more than just "state-of-the-art" sound- and lighting-equipment. But it turned out quiet soon that guests of all ages prefered to enjoy the park's attractions till the last minute of the operation day. So due to the lack of interest, the disco evenings stopped only weeks after the opening. Still there are some nights during which the stage area is transformed into a huge disco - that is the case for special events, e.g. during New Year's Eve, the Halloween Soirees or for private parties. At these special ocassions the huge disco turns out to be really popular, in fact so popular that sometimes additional, smaller dance floors are added on the top levels of the auditorium where usually guests of the Café Hyperion dine. The top-sound- and light-equipement, the sheer gigantic size of the dance floor and the seating (which offers a great view of the dance floor while being far enough away to allow a decent chat) create a unique atmosphere at these ocassions which attracts not only fans of a hot club night but also those who just want to take a look how the youth is dancing away...
But the end of the disco-evenings wasn't the only change in the first months of operation for the Videopolis: in addition the families who dined in the upper half of the theater between the show times were less than thrilled with the latest video-clips on the monitors and the pop- and rock-music piped into the theater. So that concept was changed too. Gone were the music videos and instead classic animated shorts are know played between the shows. This proofed to be a sure hit with guests of all ages and till today not only guests dining at the Videopolis enjoy the collections of shorts but also countless guests who just drop in to sit down for a few minutes and to relax. The shorts are broadcasted in changing languages but can easily be enjoyed even if the guest can't understand the language used in the dialogue. Also the original plans to have occasional free concerts of pop- and rock-stars in the venue never got off the ground after the performances during the europe-wide broadcasted grand opening celebrations.
Connected to the concept of music-videos being played throughout the day and a disco venue in the evenings was the idea to present modern-style rock- and pop-shows attracting especially the teenager-guests. The first production therefor was called "Rock Shock" and presented the story of a group of young adults traveling to the mooon and the depths of the sea (in the footsteps of Jules Verne) with stunning dance numbers to some real rock music. While the show was popular guests made it known, that they would prefer more classic Disney fare - and sure they got their wish and in early 1993 "Rock Shock" was replaced with the first of an ongoing series of more classic Disney style productions, "Disney's Beauty and the Beast". But then this brought up another problem: the shows were too popular to go forward with the initial plans to replace them for the winter months with the technology wise less demanding shows from the Fantasy Festival Stage (which starred Disney characters) - so the Fantasy Festival Stage had to be outfitted for all year around performances, which also helped keep the capacity of the park up during the winter months.
Sounds like quiet a few changes over the course of the first year? More were ahead - but it took a while. In 1998 the most important of the later changes was up: originally between the front row of the auditorium and the stage a wide space was to be found on a lower level, like a orchester-pitt. But for the stunning acrobatic displays of the show "Mulan la Legende" more space was needed and the creative team wanted to bring the acrobats closer to the guests, so they constructed an expansion of the stage over this "drench". And this added front-stage staid there ever since, so that guests in the first row are now only inches away from the action. And as the contruction workers were on the site anyway, some golden paint was added to the side of the stage and the procsenium too which harmonizes perfectly with the green base color of the interior.
Only a minor change was the closure of the Philipps' exhibition area. The company, who sponsored the theater and the shows playing there from the opening of the park till the 12th of April 2002, maintained two small areas called "Espace CD" at the main entrance of the theater (one on each side), which is located opposite of the FastPass-entrance of Space Mountain, where new entertainment technology was showcased and could be tested by guests. When it closed a sign was added "We Are Preparing an Animated Surprise" but even so it also said "Come Back Soon" it took till spring 2003 for the reopening of the area by when the sign already had become a kind of running joke among fans. It now hosts two small arcades (Arcade Alpha & Beta) stocked with games for which there was no room anymore when the Arcade des Visionnaires became the smaller Arcade Omega...
And then there is one change which interests especially Disney-fans for this one is a hint at a never realized attraction concept: early concepts for Space Mountain, which was finished till 1995, had not only a coaster but more attractions and a restaurant located inside the mountain. Guests would have been able to enter the mountain not only on ground level but also through some walkways on a higher floor connecting the mountain to the Videopolis. While this was never realized (but can be seen in the souvenir park map sold in the resort in the first years and in the sketches in the book "Disneyland Paris - From Sketch to Reality") the change was made only after the Videopolis had already been constructed. Therefor the facade clearly shows where the walkways would have entered the building. Today huge round windows are sealing these entrances off - behind them the Radio Disneyland Paris broadcasting studios have found a lasting home. More details about the original plans can be found in the F-Files...
Did You know... that the Videopolis was also to be found in Disneyland Anaheim and Walt Disney World? June 22nd 1985 saw the opening of the Videopolis in the Fantasyland of Disneyland Anaheim as a huge disco with 5,000 square foot dance floor and 70 monitors presenting the latest videoclips. But just as at the Videopolis at Disneyland Paris the concept never really convinced the guests so it was transformed into a huge theater, which was renamed Fantasyland Theater on the 23rd of June 1995. In Walt Disney World the Videopolis was called "Videopolis East" and was to be found on Pleasure Island where it was briefly the name of a night club.