Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost – its history in the heart of Adventureland

Pizza Outpost is not just a restaurant but an important element in the history of Disneyland Paris.

In 1992 Euro Disney finally opened the gates between enthusiasm and curiosity of the European public, but initially the park suffered from a disproportion between the number of attractions and the number of restaurants that were too many for the size of the park.

The origins and the lost name

Among these, Pizza Outpost was definitely one of the restaurants for which Disney creatives had worked with special care and dedication. Even today we can see several elements that honor the fruits of their labour, right from the entrance where we find the initials “EC” on the two lanterns, then move on to the fireplace and the numerous paintings in the main hall.

 EC initials hide the real name of Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost: Explorers Club.

The initials “ EC ” are a clue that let us to discover the buried story of Explorer’s Club ; small clues to not forget.

Explorers Club is precisely the original name of this outpost in the Disney jungle that in 1992 offered a very different service from the current one. At the time it was a real restaurant with table service with ethnic menus based on chicken, shellfish and even roast lamb. The dishes offered reflected the soul of the restaurant, where you could breathe the adventurous atmosphere of the British colonialism era, made credible by the many original objects that the Disney imageers had scattered everywhere. Over the years many of these objects have been removed from the theming, although today it remains still excellent and full of details.

 An artwork shows us how the creative people had imagined the bar area now no longer present. We note Jacques Cousteau, Ernest Hemingway and the Indiana Jones silhouette in the background.

A Tiki Room missed!

What has completely disappeared is the link with a classic Disney, the famous Tiki Room, in fact The Explorers Club offered a form of entertainment that was completely lost. As in the Disneyland (California) Tiki Room, the ceiling of the great main hall was populated by numerous animatronic parrots . During meals, it was possible to meet costumed characters in the role of David Livingstone, Ernest Hemingway, William Parry and the ever-present Indiana Jones. The actors especially entertained the children, telling short stories and singing songs. To finally return to the talking parrots, they interacted with the cast members and guests, giving them a particularly enveloping atmosphere.

Many untapped potentials

The destiny of Explorers Club soon resented of the decisions regarding the first park expansions. In the first projects it was planned the realization of  Indiana Jones dark ride  that would have found place in the area immediately behind the restaurant. But later, the budget was drastically reduced and instead of the dark ride they built a cheaper roller coaster in a nearby area. At this point the theme chosen for the Explorers Club’s area could be reviewed and adapted to the new requirements and so it was.

Just after a year from the opening the menu was completely changed in favor of a cheaper Chinese cuisine. Table service was also abolished in favor of the counter service, just as we find it today. In this first phase of changes the name remained Explorers Club, but within a short time the actors, the beloved animatronic parrots and the live music, which at that time was permanent, also disappeared.

The park needed more economical dining options and the Explorers Club paid the price. At that point, even the name of the room had to better reflect the new offer and it was decided to modify it. Around 1995 he took inspiration from The Jungle Book  and to recall the military atmosphere of the colonial era, but with a Disney touch, the Colonel Hathi from The Jungle Book was chosen as new symbol and the place became Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost .

However, the Disney creatives were reluctant to completely erase the old theme, considering the great work they had done, so no other references were added to Colonel Hathi or the Jungle Book, and the theme remained almost unchanged.

The story continues

Now, more than 20 years later we are ready changes. The old Explorers Club is ready for a new transformation and will soon be closed for what has been announced as an important change in the thematization. In addition, Disney has announced without giving details, that the opportunity will be good to create an interesting new experience.

A new attraction? To know what will happen in the near future is still early, but it is better to hurry up and organize one last visit here; the atmosphere of the Pizza Outpost and its secrets could soon become just a legend.