Still, the discount Disneyland Paris ticket I bought online included both parks at no additional charge, so I figured I'd start my day at the Disneyland Paris Resort with a quick visit over at the Studios, to experience a couple of the park's unique attractions.
At the top of my list? Crush's Coaster, a Maurer Söhne spinning coaster/dark ride that opened in 2007 and still draws long lines at the park. Knowing this, I arrived at the park a little over 30 minutes before its posted opening, hoping to use my theme-park-power-walking skills to work my way to the front of the rope drop and into the queue before the line could build.
Busted. When I arrived, the Crush's Coaster queue already was filled to overflowing, spilling across the Toon Studio plaza. Had the park opened early? No. The rides weren't yet operational, but Disney allowed early arrivals to enter the park and fills its queues in advance of the park opening. I'd never seen nor heard of that happening in a Disney park before.
So when the opening spiel sounded, the ride's wait-time sign finally lit up: 120 minutes. After 20 minutes inching forward in the queue, I became convinced the sign was accurate. And there's no Fastpass or single rider option to lessen the time in line. We would be blowing 15 percent of our day at Disneyland Paris Resort waiting for one, five-year-old roller coaster with an 8 rating on the site.
No, thank you.
So instead we decided to take in the park's top-rated attraction, Cinemagique, which had its first showing of the day 40 minutes later. In the meantime, we wandered the park, taking photos and making comparisons to the other Disney parks we'd visited in the past year. Across the walkway from Crush's Coaster stands Disney Studios' little version of Cars Land.
It's home to just one ride - Cars Race Rally, a spinner that works a bit like Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.
Walt Disney Studios' newest land is Toy Story Playland, which also has been duplicated at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Toy Story Playland reminded me of the original Pixar-themed Disney Parks land: A Bug's Land at Disney California Adventure. It's aggressively decorated, but ultimately features just a handful of low-capacity carnival rides. In the case, a slow drop ride, a Himalaya, and a halfpipe.
Still, cranes looming over the land are working on building a new Ratatouille-themed dark ride, which might help provide some much needed capacity for this park.
Working our way around the park, we passed the park's Studio Tram Tour, which, like the one in Florida, offers a ride through Catastrophe Canyon though no working film or TV production studios.
The Tower of Terror here is a duplicate of the one in California - with the Twilight Zone theme and single drop shafts. No fourth dimension, as in Florida, or delightfully wicked Harrison Hightower, as in Tokyo.
Walt Disney Studios Paris also offers a couple of popular attractions also found at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida: Rock 'n Roller Coaster...
...And the original installation of the Motors, Action Stunt Show, though the show's been updated to feature Cars' Lightning McQueen.
There's an Armageddon-themed special effects show, too…
…but based on your reader ratings, we'd decided to opt instead to see Cinemagique.
It's a delightful show, starring Martin Short and France's Julie Delphy in a clever montage of scenes inspired by classic Hollywood films. The characters literally "break the fourth wall" on occasion, bringing the action off the screen and into the theater. It's charming and sweet, though I feel compelled to warn theme parks: Please stop making movie-based attractions featuring cell phones, unless you're willing to reshoot them every year to keep the film from looking pathetically dated. Short's clunk old Nokia just killed the narrative momentum every time it appeared on screen.
Once the film was over, we couldn't wait to get out of this park, and into the much more elaborately themed and enjoyable Disneyland Paris. A walk through the Disney Studio 1 building that serves as the park's "Main Street" illustrates the inherent problem with this - and other movie-studio themed parks.
At first glance, I was excited - They've got a Brown Derby restaurant? I didn't know that!
But a couple steps forward revealed that the Brown Derby exterior was just a flat facade, as were all the exteriors in the building. Behind the Brown Derby wall stood an ordinary counter-service restaurant, serving burgers and chicken.
Universal created the movie studio theme park with its Studio Tour in Hollywood. At Universal Studios Hollywood, the false fronts and flimsy finishing materials were genuine components of the film production that took place within the park's backlot. Years later, when Disney opened the Disney-MGM Studios in Florida and Universal created its Florida theme park, designers used those elements to create an impression of working studios. (As Disney did again, here in Paris.)
But when DVD and Blu-Ray extras spill the secrets of film production, and nine-year-olds are using Chroma key and After Effects to create professional-looking short films on YouTube, who cares about visiting a film studio? At least in Hollywood, you've got history, and the appeal of touring the sets where many classic movies were filmed. But at Walt Disney Studios Paris? Nothing's ever been filmed there - except what visitors are recording with their iPhones.
The irony? Universal - the company that created the studio theme park - doesn't even build them anymore. Take a look at Universal's latest theme park - Universal Studios Singapore - and you won't find ubiquitous false fronts and "we're filming a movie" conceits on its rides, as you did at Universal Studios Florida decades ago. Instead, in attractions based on Transformers, Madagascar, and Shrek, Universal's chosen in Singapore to immerse us in the narratives of movies themselves. They've ditched their old way of simply placing us into the process of creating those narratives.
Walt Disney Studios Paris, alas, does it the old way. Want an illustration? Take a look at the park's Aladdin-themed spinner ride, Flying Carpets over Agrabah:
Then compare that with the same ride in Tokyo DisneySea, where the ride is called Jasmine's Flying Carpets.
In Tokyo, you ride like royalty, in a lush environment that employs fine building materials and elaborate fountains. In Paris, you're riding atop a flat concrete floor, in front of a painted backdrop, while a minimally animated Genie barks orders at you. You're not royalty - you're a peon, an unpaid extra in an anonymous movie scene. This isn't an escapist fantasy. It's work.
And that's the inherent problem with studio themed parks. They don't whisk us away into the magic of great movie stories. They drop us into the somewhat ugly and tedious work of creating them. Who wants to visit a job site on vacation?
That's why Universal took a different approach in Singapore, and, using the rubric of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it is transforming its other theme parks from the old, process-driven model to a narrative-driven one. In short, Universal stopped making Universal theme parks, and started making Disney ones instead.
At some point, if Walt Disney Studios is to become anything other than the worst of the Disney theme parks, it will need to make the same change.
Coming tomorrow: We start our week-long, land-by-land tour of Disneyland Paris!Tweet
Fortunately, I learned from another website that this park doesn't do the traditional rope drop, so we arrived 45 minutes early to be sure we'd get on Crush's Coaster with a short wait (hopefully under a half-hour). It ended up taking 50 minutes, and the ride was posting around 90 for the rest of the time we were in the park. It's worth a 50 minute wait, but it's not worth over an hour wait.
That is a very well written analysis of why studio parks don't work as wel as they want them to.
As for the WDS park, I actually do like this park a lot,
besides the horendous queu; Crush's Coaster is actually one of the best rides at the entire resort! It's just so sad the capacity is as low as it is. Cinemaque gives me teary eyes every time I see it. The Stitch encounter is much funnier then the Crush encounter in the U.S. parks (they run french and english sessions), I much prefer the WDS version of the Rock'n roller coaster over Florida's, Animagique is one of the better Disney character shows!
What is really not working in this park for me is; Armageddon, what could have been a great experience is fun for a one time visit.. the placing of the TOT ride, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the ride and the theming.. but the placement is just completely affull.. who thought that putting such a huge building smack in the middle of the park would be a good thing? The should have extended a boulevard, even if it would have been with facades only and put it at the end, like Walt's much talked about Weenie system.
I guess they did put it right in the middle to make sure people could see it when arriving at the parks and become a weenie to lure people in the park.. but once inside it just doesn't fit into the area.
Still you can have a fun day at the WDS park, and to point out a little gem there: Cafe des cascadeurs is a original roadside diner right behind the TOT, they serve the best burgers in the entire resort and feels ike you ust walked into an episode of happy days.. but since it is a tiny little venue the queu can get pretty long.
We want we a then 2yr old and a 4 yr old
Overall the park was good we had the best character meets and parade experiance here and the rides we went on we're good (other than Crush) it is however a mish mash of areas and themes.
You didn't,t really miss anything not riding Crush our 4yr old rode it twice and thought is was ok first time and came off crying second time for me the first 30 secs or so are great but once you leave the launch hill it's a dark jolting mess. The majority of the ride is just to dark pitch black in fact with a few missable video scenes.
Toy story land went down really well and by all accounts it's improved with parachute videos and better flooring. We didn't make RC due to size but the kids would have loved it.
The Cars ride is great, wonderfully themed and fun little ride.
The shows we saw were good playhouse Disney and the blacklight show (as a time killer on the last day)
We ate in the restaurant and saw a little Remi (AA figure on a table) the food was good and the kids loved Remi.
I never got to ride the rock&roll coster but my wife did on a previous trip and said it was great.
Ultamitly it depends on what you want from the trip with two kids it keeps the time fun and different, for me a lot about going to Disney is character meets and the park was the best for that including a whole host of princesses.
If we were to go again I would certainly budget the same about of time for the studios park as the kids may be tall enough to go on a few more rides but I does need some big rides or experiance to make it a huge destination and I don,t think ratatouille will be that ride.
DLP is however the poor poor relative of the other Disney parks the financials are poor meaning lack of investment and the prices are sky high meaning people go but not often return it's certainly not a year on year destination.
Overall the park served as a taster of the great Disney parks experiance and just made me want to go to Florida although now I'm obsessed with going to Disneyland (yes I have the right name)
The studios at DLP is doomed to stay cheap. Europeans don't buy enough food and souveniers in the parks to earn enough money. The resort is in deep depths and trowing more money at the parks is to big a risk.
1) Tokyo Disney Resort
2) Disneyland Resort
3) Walt Disney World Resort
4) Disneyland Paris Resort
I remember me and my partner going way back in 2002 when it had first opened and being hugely disappointed, they had little there beyond the RnR Coaster, the Studio Tour, the awful Armageddon attraction (Disney's version of Twister IMO)and a few other smaller attractions.
We went back earlier this year with our two year old and were surprised at how much its been expanded, the Toy Story land and the Cars area is a great addition as is Crush's Coaster (we were lucky to avoid the queues as my partner is registered disabled so she was able to have a special pass) The Tower of Terror is a great addition too but I agree its in completely the wrong place, it should be in one of the corners of the park, not slap bang in the middle of it.
Yes it may be the least popular of the Disney parks but its still worth a visit.
At Universal Studios Florida, they removed their most classic movie references. Jaws and King Kong are gone. I'm disappointed, but they do have Harry Potter X2 (times two).
For those who have visited both American Disney Resorts, it's really not worth your time. it has the somewhat watered down version of the Tower of Terror, a Rock n Roller Coaster which is less visually appealing from the outside and Crush Coaster which, whilst fun, is far too short.
For me, having done both U.S resorts, the only saving grace is the fantastic cast members who work the Tower of Terror at Walt Disney Studios. Questions have often been raised about the French staff at DLP, but the "bellhops" at WDS are by far the best of all the Towers.
It's only flaw was the close proximity to one of the best theme parks in the world.
Several months ago, I wrote a post on my on blog explaining the major reasons why the WDS park was such a failure. Of course no reason is good enough to excuse the total lack of taste and things to do in this park but it can help you understand how they came to this complete mess.
Guillaume - Parcorama
And as for Walt Disney Studios Paris, I will say that the backlot concept there actually works better than the one in Orlando or Anaheim. But that's not saying much.
J. Jeff Kober, Disney at Work
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Walt realised that a studio would be a boring place, and rather than create the studio tour the letters he received from fans suggested, he created disneyland instead.
I'm fairly sure at Warner Bros Movie World Australia they don't bother with the Studio tour or special effects demo anymore.