Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios- July 1

Associated parks:
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Thursday, July 7, 2005 12:15 AM
After living in London for 4 months, I have come back with my family for a vacation in London and Paris. Both cities were great, and it was cool to show my family around these two awesome cities. Kinda sad to say goodbye to London (best city in the world, IMO).

Anyway, we had one day set aside for Disneyland Paris. We stayed nearby at the Holiday Inn at Marne La Vallee. They have a nice bus service between the hotel and the parks (5 minutes to get there!).

So we wake up and head for Disneyland. I am excited by this as I have only been to DL and DCA (no WDW). The two parks are close by, not too much farther than DL and DCA, which is nice. The ticketbooths and entrance for Disneyland are under the Disneyland Hotel. We were going to just do DLP, but I thought that for the 8 euro upgrade that we could toss in the Studios park as well.

This is mostly in random order, just reviews of some of the sights and attractions in both parks.

MAIN STREET
Well, let me just say that it was weird to step onto another Main Street. I look to the right and feel like Mr. Lincoln should be there... Wrong country. ;) Maybe "Great Moments with Napoleon?" Nah, none of the above.

SLEEPING BEAUTY CASTLE
Its safe to say the castle is not just visible (a not-so-subtle swipe at the size of the original Disneyland's castle) but really big! Very cool. I know I'm just used to Anaheim's Main Street, but I prefer the Californian version over the Parisian Main St. I don't really like the behemoth Disneyland Hotel blocking the whole other end of Main St. Its subjective, but I feel like Anaheim's is a little more authentic.

DISCOVERYLAND
We made the turn into Discoveryland. I am freaked out when I see a plaster money holding a megaphone standing on a giraffe's leg. WTF?! Moving on (and ignoring a circle of plaster gazelles standing on 2 legs) we reach their Astro Orbiter. Yep, looks the same as at home. I think the theme is unique and interesting, but just not really executed that well. Its suppoused to have a Jules Verne inspiration, but with Star Tours, Honey I Shrunk the Audience and soon to be Buzz Lightyear, I think the theme is just as bad as Disneyland's used to be- that and the plaster animals freak me out.

SPACE MOUNTAIN: MISSION 2
And finally we reach Space Mountain: Mission 2. Wow! Now this is a great visual. I love seeing the trains fire up the cannon (with smoke and opening chamber for the "ammuniton."). The ride itself? Very cool. I have to admit the Jules Verne theme is kinda sorta out the door with the Mission 2 layover. Its odd really. But the ride is very cool. I haven't been on DL's new Space yet, but I hope the effects are this good.
The launch isn't all that fast, but it gets the ride off to an exciting start. Its very dark in there. It had 3 inversions, but you can't see them coming. They had some cool projections, like a comet that follows the train and some near misses with planets or asteroids. I love the soundtrack! All in all, its a good time.

ADVENTURELAND
Adventureland is huge, unlike at Disneyland. No Jungle Cruise here. Pirates is in the *back* of the park, which is a trip. They still have the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, though I didn't go up in it.

PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN
The queue is amazing. Beats the Anaheim's version hands down. It is set in an abandoned fort, complete with skeletons, storerooms and dungeons. When you emerge from the fort, it is night on a tropical island. Reminiscent of Disneyland's Bayou, but possibly better.
DLP's Pirates contains pretty much all of the scenes of Disneyland's, but in a completely jumbled order! Once in the caves, the first thing you see is the galleon-fort battle and the pirates in jail- THEN the drop! The treasure rooms and talking skull are at the very end of the ride. Its bizarre for someone so used to the Anaheim version. Seems like the Californian version makes a lot more sense, but whatever, its still a cool ride.

PHANTOM MANOR
The outside is amazing! Totally cool facade and queue area. It tops Disneyland's hands down. It looks dilapidated and that works well. The faint musicbox echo of "Grim Grinning Ghosts" sets the scene.
The foyer and gallery (elevator) are similar to Disneyland's, but in French. Needless to say, I have no idea what the heck was going on. The loading area is very cool. It has a big staircase and long windows with a thunderstorm outside.
Phantom Manor tells some story about the Bride, as she appears in several scenes. Not knowing any French, I had no idea what she was doing there. The ride is very good until the attic scene. From there it turns to crap.
You come out of the attic not into a graveyard with "grim grinning ghosts" but into a random ghost town that feels more carnival horror ride than Disney Haunted Mansion. No song, just creepy looking monsters and such. It just ruins the wonderful,subtle feel that was set through the rest of the ride. I don't hate Phantom Manor, I just wish the ending was different.

BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN RAILROAD
Its quite a sight, basically its own island. The line was awful, nearly an hour long and filled with people smoking. Gross in the roofed queue (
think of a nicer Ghostrider building, switchbacks and all). The other fiasco was the lack of Fastpass management. They had one CM checking fastpasses at the entrance and not a single one thereafter! So how do fastpass guests merge? However they want to! They just squeeze into the standby queue in whatever number they show up in. Its shamefully bad.
After a slightly frustrating wait, the ride truly delivered. It begins with a dive under the water and onto the island where the ride takes place. Its a bit more spread out than Disneyland's and somewhat longer. It has some neat show scenes and better coaster action than its California counterpart. The end of the ride has the train diving (seems to be really deep!) underwater and back to the shore where the station is. Its a good time, fun in the same way that the other Big Thunder is.

DRAGON'S LAIR
The name is in French, so I don't remember it. But beneath the castle they have a big animatronic dragon. Its no e-ticket, but its pretty darn cool. I'm sure its more interesting than whatever is beneath Disneyland's castle. ;) Its just one of those cool details that Disney is famous for.

ALICE'S CURIOUS LABYRINTH
Very cool stuff. Really unique concept and captures the feel of tthe movie really well. Its quirky, its weird and a lot of fun! We would have actually finished it if not for the random downpour while we were in the middle of the maze.

ITS A SMALL WORLD
Has a cool facade like the one in California. Its also a lot better ride (though still Its a Small World). For one, it has "flooded" show scenes rather than the trough that the boat rides in on the Anaheim model. It was just a neat little ride that seemed a little newer and fresher than the one I am used to. And despite being in France, it was a pretty huge America scene. :)

SNOW WHITE and PINOCCHIO
Exactly like the ones in Anaheim- but in French! Definite points for the Witch or Stromboli speaking in French. ;) Other than that, an EXACT lift from Anaheim except for having larger queues.

I'm not going in any particular order, but our day at Disneyland was cut short by a big thunderstorm around 6 PM. I think almost everyone in the park was ready to call it a day after this one. I wish I could have a picture of a lightning bolt behind the castle. :)

DISNEY STUDIOS PARK

In the middle of the day, we headed out to Disney Studios right next door. Disneyland had decently long lines, but not unlike its Anaheim cousin, the second gate has much shorter lines!

And deservedly so, this place is TINY! It felt like a *slightly* expanded version of DCA's Hollywood Backlot. Oddly, it was open from 10-6 in the middle of summer. Then again, Disneyland Paris itself was only open until 8.

But for 8 Euros, why not?
Our first stop wasn't surprising- Rock N Roller Coaster.

ROCK N ROLLER COASTER
With 90 minute lines for Space Mountain and 60 for Big Thunder, the 5 minute wait for Rock N' Roller Coaster was a dream come true. Cool theming with the music producer's office (and lots of signed guitars). The Aerosmith video was in English, and boy are they weird. We didn't have to watch the whole thing.
The ride itself was awesome. I'm a sucker for rides with soundtracks, so this one is at a natural advantage. The music wasn't turned up nearly as loud as it ought to be though- come on, this is rock n' roll here! The cars were odd, looking like DJ turntables. I think I like the Florida Cadillacs better.
The ride itself is very smooth and a ton of fun. I had no clue what inversions we were going through, but I know it was a good time. We got a pair of rides in on this one, and both were very good (did the front the second time).

ARMAGEDDON
Ugh. Please don't bring this to any other Disney park. The pre-show is over 10 minutes long and the actual show felt like half of that. It wasn't a good movie, the preshow wasn't that interesting (even with English translations) and the show element wasn't terribly spectacular compared to Backdraft.
Honestly, I think I might like it a little more with a shorter pre-show. Its not neccesary and isn't interesting enough to justify the show that follows.

I was annoyed that we missed the last Moteurs show of the day. We arrived 10 minutes too late for the show. At least it *sounded* cool.

The only other attraction we did in the Studios was the tram tour.

TRAM TOUR
Another big miss. It wishes it was Univeral's tram tour, but winds up being Disneyland's parking lot tram past a row of unremarkable movie props. Seriously, they felt like the parking lot trams- but with doors.
Catastrophe Canyon was pretty cool. You can't go wrong with fire effects. The wall of water coming towards the tram was cool.
But I'm not sure if it jusified driving past a couple of "Dinotopia" and "Reign of Fire" props. Ouch.
The "Reign of Fire" scene had a big flame shooting towards the tram from a London construction site. I give them a lot of credit for the cool scenery here, but a roar and a fire effect does not a good scene make.
So thats about it for the tram tour. It was nice to sit down, but the ride itself was not really that great.

I can't believe that Disney has allowed WDS park to stand on its own. We spent 2 hours there, but could not have lasted more than 3 1/2 hours at the very most. Some of the stuff they have there is cool, but its so so darn small that it can hardly be justified as its own park.

So that is Disneyland Paris in no particular order. I had a really good time there. Whether the DLP versions are better than DL's rides is pretty much a subjective thing. I admit that I may just be so used to DL's stuff that I probably just prefer it out of habit. Either way, it was cool to see a new spin on some familiar attractions- kind of like hearing a cover or remix of your favorite song.

Thanks for reading!

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