The opportunity was part of Star Wars Night (or Star Wars Soirée), which combined the experience over at Hyperspace Mountain with an exclusive night of Star Wars-themed entertainment at the neighbouring Walt Disney Studios Park. Two packs were offered for the evenings of May, 5th and 6th: a basic one, at the price of 49 euros, included only the party itself, but no roller coaster. For 64 euros, you could “upgrade” your Star Wars Soirée experience to include special exclusive ride time on Hyperspace Mountain. Both, I should highlight, included access to the Disney parks after 5pm.
Promptly at 5pm we arrived at Disneyland Paris gates, to be met by a long line, waiting to have its check-in. A little slower than expected by Disney standards, 35 minutes later a cast member presented us with a specific “Pack Hyperspace” band and a limited, beautiful HSM pin, with the date printed on it.
Getting to ride the coaster over and over again, with no lines, was definitely the highlight of the evening. However the layover is not without its problems. What was once this version’s greatest achievement is now its enemy. Disney tried to successfully incorporate a Star Wars theme to the Jules Verne decór of the ride. But the colors and design of the movie franchise clash with what we are used to seeing in Paris. Just putting on a couple of “Hyperspace Mountain” banners and SW ships’ posters throughout the line did not work for me. Definitely incorporating the theme into Hong Kong and California worked better, with their silverish/blueish decor.
The same can’t be said for the ride itself. Paris’ Space Mountain track, with its acceleration, loop and sharp turns, remains the best in the world, and Imagineers took advantage of these differences when placing the SW references in it. The story is pretty much the same as the others: Jakku (a planet introduced during the movie The Force Awakens) has detected the presence of a Star Destroyer, and it's up to us, the Rebels, to go there and check out what is happening. Fortunately for the riders, we’re thrown in the middle of a battle between X-Wings and TIE fighters.
The acceleration at the beginning of the ride obviously has been used to simulate the infamous Star Wars lightspeed jump, with a small delay, since most of it is done in the open (providing that great view of the ride from the outside). The characteristic blue lines are shown after we reach the top of the acceleration hill, but the effect is great nonetheless. The loop is even better, mimicking the barrel roll movement made by the ships, with lasers following the ride train from start to end.
Overall, the Paris version seems more spacious inside than the other versions, which provides more space for screens (and larger ones) throughout the ride. That, along with the recently improved ride audio system, has the interior compensating for the exterior fiasco.
Star Wars Soirée
After riding HSM four times in a row, we got a Fastpass for the newly reopened Star Tours l’Aventure Continue, right next door. Together with the show Path of the Jedi, at Discoveryland Theatre, it turned the east side of Paris’ Discoveryland into a Star Wars corner. The simulator has nothing new here compared to the other renewed versions, but it finally gave Parisians and Europeans in general a chance to ride a much-deserved upgraded version of the attraction.
A couple of HSM and Star Tours rides later, it was time to head over to Walt Disney Studios Park, for the second part of the evening. With the park closed to the general public, it was hard to ignore the chance to ride Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy or Crush’s Coaster over and over again with a five-minute wait. The sight of the five-minute-wait sign at the later almost brought tears to my eyes, with its lines usually going over 90 minutes on a regular day.
Apart from shows like the new Mickey and the Magician, Moteurs... Action and Art of Animation, everything was open. And Star Wars was everywhere. The park repeated most of its Season of the Force entertainment from the beginning of this year, coupled with some new additions. There was a meet-and-greet with Chewbacca and Darth Vader (winners of the Longest Line of the Night award) and a Intergalactic Dance Party with DJ.
The most fun, however, was definitely the small surprises Disney scattered throughout the park. Performers showed up at different places, some with musical presentations, some with a technological costume, to interact with the guests. It wasn't all 100% Star Wars; more a spacy-type entertainment, but still caught the guests’ attention. Like the “Drum and Dance” ritual performed by creatures that looked like they were taken straight from the Jakku planet. Or the spiderlike people on stilts, that trapped guests under its long legs.
My personal favorite was a photo-op that took place right next to Aerosmith’s roller coaster. In it, guests could become their own “Han Solo Carbonite.” Take a look below:
The best for last. The grand-finale was the night time show Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration. Pretty much the same one guests can see on Disney Hollywood Studios, but using Tower of Terror as a backdrop for the projection instead of the smaller Chinese Theater. Seems like a small change, but I can assure you it makes a whole lot of difference, providing grander scenes and better viewing opportunities for mostly anyone in the west area of the park.
It’s interesting that Disney keeps splitting up it’s Star Wars things at Paris between its two parks. With the opening of Hyperspace Mountain, is it determined that Disneyland Park was the winner here and Walt Disney Studios Park will have to settle for a Marvel layover? Only time can tell....
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