I'm studying in Spain right now. Well, I really wanted to be able to make a trip to Disneyland Paris while here, and that became possible when my family decided to come visit me. We met up in Paris and went to Disney for a few days before they returned with me to Spain for a little bit.
Things started out on Air France's partner Regional to CDG, where I'd meet my family. We then headed to Disney by TGV, which is an excellent and fast way to arrive to the resort.
We ended up staying at the Disneyland Hotel, which is a really beautiful and nice hotel--fitting because of its cost. Luckily, I was able to get a good deal for my family that appeared only on the Spanish version of the resort's site, which was over 50% lower than the one on the American site.
Let's face it: Disneyland Paris is a beautiful park. No, it's not perfect. But it's a highly enjoyable, richly themed park, with many of the "bests,"--I'd say they have the best Space Mountain, best Big Thunder Mountain, and best Haunted Mansion when compared with their California and Florida incarnations.
Maintenance isn't perfect, but acceptable. It still feels "Disney quality" but in a more European way.
And finally, the Walt Disney Studios park is almost a joke. It's tiny, everything is crammed together, and certainly doesn't feel like a Disney park. There just seem to be too many things lacking in the park, all the way from rides and theming to real buildings and restaurants.
Nonetheless, we had a great time.
I preferred the theme of Discoveryland... and Space Mountain just looks incredible in the area. Its mix of colors, theming, and sheer size make a bold statement.
The interior and ride experience are very different from the Florida (vast nothingness) and California (cheesy space) versions, and it's really hard to describe. After my first ride, I had really no idea what had happened during the last two minutes--and that's a good thing! The ride is full of surprises, even though the mix of the "Mission I" Jules Verne theming and the "Mission II" more modern theme and music is somewhat awkward.
The coaster ended up getting stuck on these trims for quite awhile.
The launch on the coaster is interesting, as you launch from the bottom of the "cannon" and then are trimmed at the apex of the hill to go into the mountain.
Several other dramatic pauses also happen during the ride.
Old Star Tours is still here, and still making me nauseous.
Most disappointing is the replacement of the fierce black lady from the American version of the safety video with a much less interesting French woman.
It was strange that the majority of the queue was indoors, and the station was only covered.
Kudos to the Disneyland Paris crews, though. Even in cold stations like this one, they were moving through 4+ train operations with no stacking and 20-30 second dispatches, even when the parks weren't horribly busy.
The music and roughness of the ride depended on the train you happened to be on. We had both great and "eh" rides.
The massive structure looks even better at night. It's also interesting to be able to walk around its entire perimeter, unlike at Disney World or Disneyland.
Also in Discoveryland were:
The Nautilus Submarine--a really neat walk-through based on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, with a kick-*** animatronic squid, great sense of atmosphere, and detailed theming.
Captain EO--yep. Um... interesting, I guess? The bouncy seats got a little excessive at times. Also, the Kodak commercial they played right before the preshow felt horribly out-of-place and Six Flags.
Autopia--we didn't ride, but it looked like it had two tracks. Always had a lengthy line.
Buzz Lightyear--just like the one in California.
Fantasyland is very large and has a good number of attractions--some are DLP originals, including a Vekoma powered coaster.
The Alice in Wonderland walkthrough/maze is a nice little area, though some aspects look like they could use a rehab.
It was nice being in a Fantasyland that wasn't overrun with strollers, like Florida's version, or was too small for the massive crowds, like Disneyland's.
Disneyland Paris has a good number of areas where you can just walk through theming and enjoy the areas, like the submarine in Discoveryland and castle-walkthrough.
Though it's cold, rainy, and/or snowy during much of the year, the park is still very green and looks great.
Now it was time for the Casey Jr. train, which here is a Vekoma powered coaster.
Racing trains, woohoo!
The ride moved at a pretty nice clip.
This tunnel makes this Big Thunder superior to all others. It's completely dark, and you feel like you're going a hundred miles per hour through it. Very well done, Disney!
The beginning tunnel is also a fun way to start the ride. All in all, it exceeds both US versions of the coaster. Plus, it's on its own ****ing island! Completely badass.
Phantom Manor sits atop of a hill overlooking the rest of Frontierland, and is a completely different take on the Haunted Mansion concept.
I prefer this version because of its cool Western scenes, lack of narrator, and bride-groom overarching storyline. Some of these aspects have now been integrated into the US versions, but not at the depth of this version. The entire theme and story is significantly more complex, which can be difficult for non-French speakers to understand. Additionally, the ride is just a tad more scary than its US counterparts, with a good number of skeletons and other scarier pieces of theming. Its tone is darker and less childish, and its soundtrack suits its more mature audience.
Melanie grew from a young girl into a beautiful young woman, and became engaged to a train engineer who planned to take her far away from Thunder Mesa, much to the dismay of Henry. Henry did everything he could to stop the wedding, but his useless attempts were put to a stop when a terrible earthquake killed him and his wife Martha (born 1802). It seemed the Thunder Bird had been awaken, and the family was never heard of again. After several years, the story of what really happened came out from underneath the rubble :
On Melanie's wedding day, a mysterious Phantom unknown to anyone appeared in the manor. While Melanie was preparing in her room, the Phantom lured her suitor up to the attic where he hung him by the neck from the rafters.
In the ballroom, the bride sat alone. Hours went by with no sign of the groom. Guests slowly filled away, leaving Melanie alone in the house with the staff of maids and butlers. "Some day", she told herself, "he will come". And so, having never taken off her wedding dress or dropped her bouquet in preparation of her loved one's return, she wandered the house aimlessly, singing melancholy songs of lost love.
The Phantom was still in the house, laughing at her humanly devotion to her intended husband. One after one, he invited his dead, demonic friends from the afterlife to fill the house in an eternal party. The shape of the house was slowly transformed by the evil forces. Years passed.
Random Tomorrowland photo.
Let me start out by saying this: I'm not a fan of Disney-MGM Studios. And this park is similar, but even less exciting.
The main building, through which you enter the park, is interesting and fairly dynamic, but small. Only a few small shops and a very large food court are in it.
However, I do like the integration of Tower of Terror into the rest of the park.
There are so few attractions here that I'm surprised the guidemap doesn't consider the Partners statue an attraction.
I do like the art deco theming elements throughout the front of the park.
The entire HTH building and queue is in a very compact area.
It's pretty much like the California version, but all on-ride audio is in French.
This was highly disappointing, and there were really only a couple of good effects.
This area of the park is just really barren and looks very cheap. However, I prefer this version of Rock n' Roller coaster because of its variable soundtracks and its synchronized light show inside. I much prefer the cool light show and haze to the random theming of the Florida version. Plus, the preshow is only like 30 seconds long.
This was probably the hit of the park for me. I loved its integration of different eras and genres of film, and its whole premise was just enjoyable. It had a cool mix of effects and a completely convincing opening. It's a show that would probably never work for the majority of people in the United States, but it's just too awesome. Checkout a Youtube video of it if you're interested. The imagineers showed a true respect and love for the movies with this attraction, and it's really evident in their work and the audience response.
This park has few real buildings, and it's really a shame. If feels more thrown together than California Adventure (though I've always enjoyed that park).
This is just terrible--worse than the MGM version. The only highlight is the somewhat witty and sarcastic British narrator.
Sorry about the blur of the next few photos.
The Studios park desparately needs additional capacity and headlining attractions. So, what do they decide to put in? A Toy Story area with a single parachute tower (which has 90+ minute lines throughout the day) a single Intamin halfpipe (which has 90+ minute lines as well) and a spinning flat. Brilliant.
The entire area looks good, but it desperately needs a higher-capacity attraction. The lines were simply atrocious for run-of-the-mill rides.
It was a fun little coaster, but certainly not work any wait over 30 minutes.
Thank God for this.
I just don't understand why this park has a bunch of great Pixar licenses but makes stock attractions out of them. It's beyond disappointing.
Crush's Coaster is insanely popular. It gets 120+ minute waits frequently, and always seems to be breaking down.
It's also really nothing more than a "mouse-in-a-box." There's more theming on the actual coaster portion of The Dark Knight coaster than this.
After the pre-lift theming, I think I saw like two effects. And they were bubble projections.
So, yeah, talk about disappointment. Luckily, I waited 15 minutes one night and it broke down right at closing, so they gave everyone exit passes for the next day. This meant we could skip the 130 minute line, after they resolved a "sit-in" with this random British man who refused to get out of his seat because "he kept seeing empty single seats."
This is a weird blacklit character show. I can't really describe it because it's so weird, but it's also a show that would never work in the US.
That's about all that's in the Studios park. Impressive, n'est pas?
Okay, I normally don't care too much about the upkeep of the parks, but this was pretty bad. Cracked concrete surrounded the entrance plaza of the Studios park, and it just looked really bad.
A truly impressive building. It's great to enter the park this way.
We ended up having a nice dinner at the New York hotel, which has an art deco influence.
It was designed by Michael Graves, who also designed Disney's Swan and Dolphin. I though it was fairly impressive inside and out, though the side wings and guest rooms aren't as great as the main tower, lobby, and restaurants.
It ended up being a great dinner at a fairly modest price--about 28 euro per person for a three-course prix fixé dinner. The atomosphere and staff were great, and we were seated right next to the pianist, playing some really lovely stuff on an impressive grand piano. It was a great way to end our stay at the Disney resort, but I headed back into the park for a final Big Thunder Mountain ride.
The lights on the hotel, which continue into Main Street, are truly impressive (though evidently some have problems as well, haha).
The park was almost empty around 9:00pm on Sunday, making for some great rides and pictures.
It was really fantastic seeing a Disney park so empty--I don't think this would ever happen in FL or CA.
Frontierland is suitably dark at night, making for a calm and peaceful atmosphere.
After a Big Thunder ride with no wait, I headed over to Phantom Manor.
It was very eerie being the only one in the preshow and on the ride--a truly unique and cool experience.
And with that, I headed out of the park.
I didn't take many pictures of Adventureland, but Pirate was in rehab, so the only other attractions were the Swiss Family Robinson tree/trails/caves (which are like Tom Sawyer Island... a really impressive, large area) and the Indiana Jones coaster. The coaster was actually really brutal and most certainly below Disney standards. It's too bad they don't have the California Indy attraction, but what can you do?
Overall, I had a great time. I thought this version of Disneyland was certainly the most original and beautiful. I normally don't like the Magic Kingdoms, but this one is just on such an impressive scale that I enjoy it immensely. It also helps that there are some attractions more oriented to a more mature audience, like Phantom Manor and Space Mountain.
It is helpful to speak French to go here, but not necessary. And I found the cast members to be extremely kind and helpful, and perhaps even more efficient in ride ops than their US counterparts! Trains would be dispatched on the coasters each 20-30 seconds--truly impressive!
The resort feels different than the others, but I think that's a good thing. It certainly feels less touristy than WDW and more modern that Disneyland. I just wish the Studios park would get more impressive attractions. But all in all, it's a pretty beautiful and fun place to be.