Thursday, May 21, 2009

Disneyland Paris: Walt Disney Studios Park

Our first afternoon at the Disneyland Paris resort was spent at Walt Disney Studios Park.

Here's a view of the park as one exits the train station and heads toward the entrance. (Click any photo to enlarge.)

The entrance:

Near the entrance guests are greeted by the famous "Partners" statue of Walt and Mickey:

The Studios Park is fun but, at least at this point, rather underwhelming. It is quite a bit smaller than the Florida version, and although it has some of the Florida park's fun "look"... simply doesn't have enough of the Art Deco architecture and other fun touches that make the Florida park so very appealing from a visual perspective.

The number of rides and attractions at the Paris park are also quite limited at this point. It doesn't have Florida's Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, or Fantasmic! shows, nor does it yet have the Midway Mania ride.

While the park has a cute little diner (see below), it's also missing the variety of restaurants that add so much to the Florida park, where guests have a choice of Prime Time Cafe, Sci-Fi Dine-In, Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano, Starring Rolls Cafe, and more. In fact the food overall was a disappointment at the two parks in France -- after all, this is Paris, home of great food! -- a topic I'll address at greater length in another post.

Cafe des Cascadeurs is said to be the oldest restaurant in any Disney park, because the building is older than the original Disneyland:

Here's a shot of the diner's interior:

Very nice theming, and good hamburgers too.

Having mentioned a Disney restaurant, a word Nearly 30 years after my first visit to Europe, I was intrigued that the concept of ice cold drinks, particularly sodas, still hasn't caught on in Europe. I know that when one is traveling the idea is to be open to different ways of doing things and to be politely accepting of local practices, but I confess I'm completely baffled by the European acceptance (preference?) of warm sodas in so many restaurants. One would think Disney, at least, would be more Americanized in this regard, but the majority of the sodas sold at the parks -- even in restaurants -- were in tepidly chilled plastic bottles, rather than icy drinks from a fountain. Obtaining ice became a daily quest for my husband, in particular (grin).

The Moteurs...Action! Stunt Show Spectacular originated in Paris, later opening in Florida, where we first saw it. The shows are identical -- other than the fact that the Paris show is hosted in two languages! The parks are completely bilingual, with Cast Members flipping between French and English with ease.

Since I saw the show in Florida four or five years ago I knew to watch for the moment I could snap the jumping car:

Armageddon, a special effects attraction, is a strange mix between Disneyland's old Mission to Mars and Florida's Stitch's Great Escape. My reaction afterwards was a baffled "What was that all about?"

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster is perhaps more intense than the Florida version, but the fun back story (racing across town to a concert), the exuberant "freeway" design, and the well-designed loading and exit areas are all missing. It's a stripped-down version of the ride, and it shows.

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is the less expensive "California" version, minus Florida's impressive section where the elevator shaft car moves forward on a track. (Anyone who's been on both versions knows what I'm talking about...California and Paris definitely got the short end of the stick on this ride.)

Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, known in Florida as The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, is somewhat inexplicably located in the Studio. (It's particularly perplexing as Adventureland in Disneyland Paris itself has a very strong ALADDIN theme...the ride would have been perfect there.) I suspect they wanted a ride for young children and the Carpets were elected. The line features a back story that the ride is part of a movie production, but the effect doesn't work very well.

Disney celebrated the 15th anniversary of Disneyland Paris by opening the brand-new ride Crush's Coaster, in which riders sit in turtle-shell cars to take an exciting trip through the East Australian Current. It's part classic Disney dark ride and part roller coaster; it's absolutely brilliant...and I'll never ride it again! The cars, you see, spin during the roller coaster section, and although I tried to convince myself I was floating delightfully through the current, my stomach wasn't buying it. Ten seconds more and it wouldn't have been pretty. That said, the decor and overall theming were outstanding.

Until the park is expanded, the Paris version of Disney Studios is only a so-so attraction -- enjoyable but not impressive.

Not to worry, though, because "impressive" doesn't begin to describe the Magic Kingdom at Disneyland Paris!! Coming soon...


Blogger Barb the Evil Genius said...

When I was in Germany twenty years ago, getting soda at all was expensive. East Germany especially was awful because they had just local soda, which was nasty. Coke was only available in the train shops and was outrageous in price. One of the E. German sodas had a double entendre name which is used as an insult in this country. To this day, we still call someone an "East German cola" in front of our daughters. ;)

9:29 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Funny about the East German Cola, Barb. :)

I spent a few days in (West) Germany in the early '80s but had no memory of soda prices...interesting.

One thing we also noticed is that free soda refills are not the "done" thing in most restaurants in London. (Disney has never done free refills here, other than at their resorts, so no surprise there.) It was nice to get to London's Hard Rock Cafe at the end of our trip and have as much Diet Coke as I cared to drink. Sometimes it's the small things that matter. :)

Best wishes,

9:34 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

Interesting comments. I've read on MiceAge and such that the Hollywood Studios there are nothing much compared to Florida so what you say doesn't surprise me. Good shot on that jumping car, by the way. My brother had always told me about TOT being better at Florida than ours and now I know he was correct! That spinning shell ride would not do for me. Looking forward to Disneyland Paris report (and by the way, the Partners Statue looks out of place - it should be in front of the castle).

6:40 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I bet the current Disney management now spending billions to redo DCA wishes the CA TOT hadn't been built on the cheap...some Florida rides can't compare to their CA versions but the FL TOT is *so* much better...sigh.

More soon!

Best wishes,

6:44 PM  
Blogger UGN said...

I believe I know the origination of the "no ice" thing in Europe. Having lived with many nationals in the former Yugoslavia and spent time in private houses in other countries, I was constantly told that I was going to become sick because I wanted to drink cold things. I remember the parents of my good friend near Beograd who used to chide me all the time that ice was bad for my throat. It is an old wives' tale much like going outside with wet hair. I am surprised that it still persists given that I was last there in '86.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

How interesting! Thanks so much for sharing that cultural insight.

Spiffy new website, BTW! :)

Best wishes,

12:29 PM  
Blogger UGN said...

Thanks Laura. I have having a great time getting back into photography these days.

12:16 AM  
Blogger UGN said...

Oh, now I know which website you were talking about. Actually, I don't really use that one because it isn't a good layout for a photo blog. I just grabbed it in case I needed it someday. My main photo blog is

12:19 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, I'll bookmark that page! Love the baseball photo.

Best wishes,

8:53 AM  
Blogger UGN said...

Thanks, Laura. I just sent a 9x12 of the baseball one framed for my nephew as a graduation gift. I hope he liked it too.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


I just found your blog and I wanted to comment on the "no ice" issue. In France, we don't get free refills. So ordering a glass of soda that is full of ice would feel like a rip-off. Especially since soda can cost up to 5€ a glass in Paris. With that said, when you order a Coke in a café, you'll most of the time get a few cubes of ice (and a lemon wedge) in an empty glass along with your 33cl bottle of Coke.

As far as I know, the only place that offers free soda refills in Paris is the Hard Rock Cafe. As a big Diet Coke (or Coca-Cola Light as it is known here) drinker, I'm always up for a meal there :-).

5:27 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks very much for sharing the perspective from France, Romain!

We noticed at the Hard Rock Cafe in London that both ice and soda refills were easily available, which we appreciated very much. :)

Best wishes,

5:33 PM  

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