John Holdun

Les Triplettes de Belleville: An Unauthorized Dark Ride

A drawing of my Triplets ride concept

Ian Kay’s latest Theme Park Design Prompt is a challenge to design an attraction for an animated work that was not produced by Disney. This was a great opportunity for me to revisit one of my favorite animated films and practice my design skills at the same time. Spoilers for Les Triplettes de Belleville beyond this point!

A still from Les Triplettes de Belleville showing cyclists during Le Tour de France

Bienvenue a le Tour de France! As we approach the ride, we see a kinetic display behind the loading station. Cyclists pedal along a dusty road while locals stand around, waving pennants and cheering. Every so often, Roberte Rivette herself rolls by, playing her accordion atop a truck, bugs in her teeth.

Boarding our ride vehicle—a plain Pretzel-style car—we proceed in the direction of the cyclists. We come up behind the broom wagon, which keeps up with the very back of the tour. We pass it on one side and cross its path. As we pass, we see Madame Souza in a folding chair atop the truck, whistling rhythmically, while her dog Bruno sleeps beside her. On our other side are a trio of cyclists, including Champion, Souza’s grandson. We turn again to continue in the direction of the pack and get a good look at the cyclists. They’re exhausted, on their last legs and fading quickly.

We pass the cyclists and follow the road. It’s empty ahead, but behind a rocky outcropping we see two imposing figures: members of the French mafia, standing so tall and still that their forms seem to meld together. Parked behind them is another truck, identical to the one we just passed. One of the men throws tacks on the road behind us, and as we turn the corner we hear a loud pop!

The broom wagon seems to have hit the tacks and lost a tire. It’s pulled to the side of the road, and zooming out from behind it comes the doppelgänger truck, driven by the Mafia men, to take its place. We turn again to follow the snaking road; sprawled out on the shoulder is one of the exhausted cyclists. He’s gasping for breath beside his bike, askew on the ground, one wheel still spinning. He’s done for.

In front of him is Champion, no longer cycling but instead walking his bike forward. He has a suspicious look on his face, and as we follow his gaze we see the mafia men leading the third retired cyclist up a ramp into their truck. This rider’s bicycle has been cast aside. It seems this whole group is finished.

The road continues up the hill, but we, too, are done with the race. We pull away, off the trail and off the hill, swooping into the air and toward the shore. We see a comically tall ship docked there with a ramp leading up to an entrance in its side. On that ramp are the cyclists, trudging up into the vessel with insistence from those men.

A still from Les Triplettes de Belleville showing a large ship and small pedal boat out at sea

Now we’re sailing out into the sea, and as we swing around a corner it’s suddenly nighttime. The only illumination comes from the moon, which lights the ship off in the distance. We hear a funny metallic sound beside us and as our eyes adjust to the darkness, we find Souza and Bruno, doing their best to follow the ship in a tiny pedalboat.

Traveling onward toward the ship, the sparkling coast of a city comes into view on our opposite side. Belleville! We turn toward it and travel parallel to the shore; through a clever bit of forced perspective, the shore seems to grow closer as we go along. At its closest point we’re on the outskirts of the city, and sitting on the beach is a tall old woman, holding a fishing net under her arm and an umbrella in her hand. She’s waiting peacefully for…something, and it almost feels as though we’ve traveled to the Blue Bayou.

A still from Les Triplettes de Belleville showing one of the triplets sitting by the water with a net

We swing around the woman and notice that in her other hand, she’s holding a grenade. She rears back and throws it into the water. There’s silence, and then as we burst through a set of crash doors, we explode to music.

We’re in the Triplets’ home! They’re eating all manner of frog-based dishes, dancing around, singing and stomping and making a terrific racket. Souza is amidst them, banging out a song on the spokes of a busted bicycle wheel. Bruno has his paws up on a windowsill, barking at a passing train. We take a lazy loop through this scene, a moment of celebration amidst the growing tension.

As we continue out the door of the apartment building, we head straight into a posh French restaurant. Performing on stage for the diners are the Triplets and Souza, continuing a slightly more polished version of the song they were making up together at home.

Looping through the restaurant, we find Bruno growling at one particular table—it’s the mafia men from the hill, seated on either side of their boss. Bruno has tracked their scent! The maître d’ lopes onto the scene, eager to end this disturbance of some of their touchiest guests.

We leave the restaurant. On the dimly-lit street, we see the mafia men again—or do we? In fact, it’s the Triplets, Souza, and Bruno, all piled into a big coat, doing their best to stay discreet. Bruno is sniffing along the ground as they head toward the French embassy. We pick up on their destination, moving through the doors of the building and then through a false wall in the lobby.

Suddenly, we’re amidst the underbelly of the city—a whole crowd of men like the ones we’ve been tracking, watching some figures riding stationary bicycles that are built into a curious contraption. It’s the kidnapped cyclists! We rush forward to get a better look. The one we saw on the ground back during the race has again fallen off his bike, and this time he looks…even worse.

We circle around the contraption and through a curtain backstage. Our sneaky rescue crew has removed their disguise and readies their weapons. Souza wields a wrench; one of the Triplets is keeping Bruno calm, while another swings her second grenade forward. Suddenly, there’s another explosion as we take a hard turn and burst through the brick wall!

Ahead of us, surrounded by dust and smoke and sparks, the contraption’s gears are grinding against the pavement as it slowly trudges forward to freedom. The two remaining cyclists are still dazed but continue pedaling; one triplet has taken up the slack on the third bike while the rest of the crew keeps an eye out behind them.

As we approach, we see a black car trailing close behind the contraption—it’s the group that Bruno was growling at in the restaurant, and they’re coming up fast! Souza lifts her wrench and throws it at the car just as we pass between the two vehicles. The car’s nose bumps into the air and there’s a flash as it explodes!

The smoke fades and we find ourselves on a street at the edge of the city. Ahead of us is a bridge leading off into the countryside, and across the bridge, cresting over the rolling hills, are our group aboard the sparking contraption. It seems they’ve made it to safety and are headed home.

A still from Les Triplettes de Belleville showing the group leaving Belleville

We turn another corner and approach the loading area once again. When the lap bar rises, please exit to your left!