It’s recently celebrated it’s 14th birthday on March 16th, having opened in 2002, 10 years after the main Disney park. It is instantly recognizable by its trademark earful tower which you can see from far away as you approach the park, the studios park is the home of film and boasts popular attractions like the Hollywood Tower of terror and as of this weekend is also the last remaining Disney park to host the lights camera action motor stunt show.
However the park is much smaller than its sister park and many people feel there is not enough to see and do to make this a “full day park”, so as we look forward to it’s 15th birthday in 2017 i ask, is it time for a change? And more importantly, what do we want to see in Paris’ Walt Disney Studios park?
The studios park is based around cinema and the production of film an animation and is split into four sections which each represent different areas of film production, it would be imperative that any changes or additions to the park fit into these themes. It would perhaps be sensible to discuss each area separately, taking into account its successes and its opportunities.
The first section of the park as you walk through the main entrance is the front lot, this is mostly shopping and services and has no rides, it includes the indoor walk way, studio one, which has the Walt Disney studios store, studio photo and the counter service restaurant en Coulisse. Quite often the front lot will hold a scheduled meet and greet with a classic Disney character (Often Mickey and Minnie) but other than this and shopping, there’s not a huge deal on offer here, i would like to see the space used for more meet and greets, in the current “swing into spring” programme there’s not a single meet and greet scheduled for the front lot, and I think this is a massive shame given the amount of space on offer! I will say however, the Walt Disney studios store is one of my favourite shops in the entire resort, it has a great range of items so is a must do on the final shopping day!
The next area of the park is the production courtyard, this area houses one of the most popular rides in the studios park, the Hollywood tower of terror, its also home to cinemagique, stitch live, play house Disney live, and the studio tram tour. This is one of the areas of the park that needs the most attention in my opinion, now there are 2 attractions in this area of the park that I haven’t currently tried, so I cannot comment on those, but I do have some ideas for the attractions in this section that I have visited.
Firstly, the studio tram tour, this in my opinion is an attraction that is desperate for some TLC and attention, the ride feels incredibly dated especially the video that plays in the carriages, and it feels like it’s lacking that touch of Disney Magic. I felt the few items to stop and see along the route weren’t all that impressive other than the scene with the lorry and felt like a lot more could have been done with the space that has been allocated. With Disney now owning the Star wars and Marvel IPs I would like to see these included in a future version of the tour, in addition rather than static displays I would like to see more interactive features added to the tour. I enjoyed seeing the Disney vehicles at the end of the tour, but felt they could have been displayed better, or made into more of a feature, I was also surprised not to see any of the cars from Pixar’s Cars on display here as this would have been fitting. I’m pleased to say Studio tram tours is closing in the latter half of 2016 until mid 2017 for refurbishment and I can’t wait to see what changes are made to this attraction to bring it back to life!
The other part of production courtyard which I would like to see changed is the use of the place des stars. This is the open paved space outside Stitch Live! and Playhouse Disney: Live on stage, this area used to have a small stage with a Paris themed back drop and was home to the Stars n cars parade which ran from 2009 to its closure, which I believe was in 2015. The parade saw Disney characters take to the street in themed cars, which would then meet at the Place Des Stars where characters would dismount a perform a show on the stage there, in later years the stage show and the majority of the cars were scrapped and this became more of a meet and greet format. Stars n Cars in my experience was always very popular and was a great chance to see some of the classic characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald & Daisy etc) in different film and production themed outfits, and who isn’t a sucker for a costume change! I was lucky enough to see both versions of Stars n Cars, I only wish I’d got the show on video! It is certainly something I feel is distinctly missing from the studios park.
Now I’m not saying bring back Stars n Cars, although I would be perfectly happy to see it again! But I would like to see a new, fresh parade in Walt Disney studios, and think the place des stars is the perfect hub for this. Perhaps something Pixar themed would be appropriate as characters like Remy and Emile, Mike and Sully and the Incredibles to name a few do not appear in the parades currently on offer in the main park. I feel this would be a big draw for people to come across to the studios park and would go a long way towards making this a “full day park”.
Next we look at the back lot, home to the Rock n Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith, one of the parks two “thrill rides”, the motor stunt show, and the entirely forgettable Armageddon. Now as I mentioned earlier, Paris is now the last remaining Disney park to host the motor stunt show, and this is one of my favourite shows at DLP, it attracts a wide audience range and is equally enjoyable on the 3rd of 4th visit as it was on the first! As a huge Pixar and Cars fan, I was also more than happy when a guest appearance from Lightening McQueen was added to the show. It’s a great chance to see how motor stunts are filmed, but it’s also enjoyable just to watch at face value. If you’re lucky you may even get to participate, which I can imagine is an incredible holiday memory!
Rock n Roller Coaster is not my type of ride personally, but I have heard great things about it and its very popular, it is currently under a short refurbishment and I know many people are looking forward to it’s re-opening. Opposite the Aerosmith ride is one of the few scheduled Meet n Greets on offer in the studios, Spider Man! Now I’ve yet to meet Spidey, but have heard nothing but good stories about his interaction with guests, I have also seen a few of the official Photo Pass pictures from this meet n great and the setting is brilliant and makes for some really special photos. Rumors have floated around in the last 12 months of Captain America replacing Spidey in this spot, I for one would prefer to see Captain America added to the line up rather than as a replacement, I think he would be equally popular and would be a great addition for Marvel Fans.
Now it’s probably time to address the elephant in the room, which is no other than Armageddon, this is without a doubt my least favourite attraction at DLP, both parks included, now I haven’t seen the film and this may be part of my dislike for this attraction, but I personally found it dated and found the humour to feel forced, I would like to see this replaced with a Marvel attraction, perhaps something featuring Iron Man or the full avengers cast, this would fit in well with the cinema theme of the park and would be very popular.
Finally for the back lot I would like to see it host some meet n greets, character meets are always very popular and the back lot has the space to accommodate this, it would be nice to see characters that don’t appear in the main park as this gives guests a reason to visit both, and I would like to see photo pass photographers attend these meets to really increase the value of the photo pass plus.
The last area of the studios park is the Toon Studio and this is my favourite area of the park, the show in this area Animagique has recently finished, having run since the studios park opened in 2002, but fear not, its replacement; Mickey and the Magician opens this year on July 2nd and I for one can’t wait to see it.
Toon studio appeals to me as I am a massive Pixar fan, but also because it includes all the things I am looking for most, there are 2 scheduled meet and greets, Buzz and friends and Mickey and friends, and more often than not a photo pass photographer is available at this location not to mention the back drops on these meet and greets are fantastic and provide some really nice photos! In addition to this the Toon studio has a hood level and mix of rides, and some of the best theming in the park, Crushes coaster is one of the parks most popular rides and can often see a 90 min and above queue at peak time, and could only be improved by a better management of the queue system, as often the single rider line is not operational. The flying carpets ride is very similar to that of Dumbo or Orbitron in the main park, but with the welcome addition of Robin Williams voice clips and often has a fairy short wait which is a bonus.
The Ratatouille and Toy story sections however are really the jewels in the crown as far as the Studios is concerned, toy story play land opened in 2010 and includes the toy soldier parachute drop, slinky dog’s zig zag spin and RC racer, the first of these two rides are suitable for all ages and RC racer provides a thrill for some of the parks older guests, this area was designed to make guests feel like they had been shrunk to the size of a toy and features Kinex fencing, and giant fairy lights which look fantastic lit up in the evenings.
The place des Remy is the newest area of the studios park and is based on the Pixar film Ratatouille, it includes a small shop which has a good variety of Parisian and Food themed items, Bistro Chez Remy, a table service restaurant where you are shrunk down to the size of a rat and can sample foods cooked by Remy himself, and the incredibly popular Ratatouille ride, which opened in 2012. The ride is a cross between a on rails ride and a simulator, it is a dark ride which is trackless where you ride around in a rat and follow Remy and his family around Gusteau’s restaurant as seen in the film, the ride is 3D and guests are provided with glasses to wear.
The main thing I would like to see in the Toon studio area of the park in the near future is a meet and greet with Remy and Emile which could be held near Bistro Chez Remy. Although further in the future if the park were to expand I would personally like to see Cars land, or some of the rides from cars land in Disneyland California, brought over, and also a Bugs life attraction.
So that’s the Walt Disney studios park, or my take on it at least. As much as I enjoy the time I spend in this park, and couldn’t dream of visiting DLP and not going into the Studios park, I do feel like there’s a lot of room for improvement and growth, and I am excited to see what is planned for the next few years!