Theme Park Discussion / Disneyland Paris May '23 - A Retroperspective

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    So a week ago, at the age of 30, I embarked on my first ever journey to the holy grail of theme parks. Well, the knock-off of the holy grail, since my goal was not the Disneyland but rather the Disney Resort in Paris. Well, I take what I can and I think my first visit was way overdue. So, what did I think?
    Walt Disney Studios Park Paris
    Let's start with the "bad" one. I mean, the Sudio Park is not exactly bad, but also not as good as would be expected from Disney. I think it was constructed with budget limitations, so it's understandable. Also, as they are building a version of Galaxy's Edge and Arendelle, it will improve a tenfold relatively soon. We had park hopper passes for both days we visited, so we decided to get this one out of the day early on day one. The park also closed at 8 p.m. on the tuesday.
    Toon Studio

    The first stop was Crush's Coaster an indoor Maurer spinning coaster. The first part of the queue was pretty okay and thankfully roofed, which was good as it began to rain as we were queueing. The inside queue is much better, with the station themed as buildings in the Sidney Harbour. The cars were really cool, themed as turtle shells. The ride itself way okay for an indoor Maurer spinner. Only bad thing, due to the weather, was the short outside portion between the station and the ride proper. On the second day we also watched the show Mickey and the Wizard which I liked very much. Live singing, incorporation of different Disney musicals and an appearance of many Lion's King actors. Definitely one of the better shows I have seen in parks.


    Worlds of Pixar


    On day one, we hurried from Crush's Coaster directly to Ratatouille: The Adventure in heavy rain. Sadly, this dark ride would not give us much shelter as the single rider queue was a mere 5 minutes (compared to the 60 min standby queue). So my first Disney dark ride and it was...fine. Well, what can I say, it's a trackless dark ride (yay!) with mostly screens (nay!). Overall it was well done, but honestly, purely screens don't really affect me in the same way as physical sets or mixes inbetween. That's also why we only rode it once. The rest of the area is a let-down. RC Racer looks cool, but lacks heavily when it comes to the ride. Very short, not very exciting. Cars ROAD TRIP is, as I understand it, a stripped down version of the studio tour. It has one proper setpiece (a canyon with fire and water effects) which is great, but there is not much to offer otherwise. Worst "studio tour" kind of attraction, so ranking behind the version at Movieland in Italy.


    Production Courtyard


    So yeah, first up: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is absolutely fantastic and saves the park in its current form. While most of the queue is sadly a boring cattle pen outside the building, the bit of the queue that is inside is fantatic. From the atmospheric main lobby through the great pre-show into the dark bowls of the building...It's pretty much perfect. The ride itself is also great fun, both in terms of the story and the actual ride. I was very glad I got to ride the "original", even though I know that this is a stripped down version without the dark ride part. Hope they never "Marvelfy" it. Also, to escape the rain, we did Stitch Live!, a show in which guests can interact live with the titular character. As expected, this was a ton of fun.


    Avengers Campus


    The Avengers have arrived at the Studios and it's...okay I guess? Since the main attraction was down, we did Spider Man: W.E.B. Adventure first. It is a pretty clever ride, in which the guests can shoot at robots on screens using arm motions. This technology was pretty good and worked reasonably well in my eyes. Sadly, the ride itself was just okay. I knew the style from Maus-au-Chocolat at Phantasialand but I have to say that Phantasialand won that small duel easily. While the shooting system in PHL is not as innovative, it has more screens and more physical bits between the screens. Avengers Assemble: Flight Force, the former Rock'n'Rollercoaster was a good ride. Sadly, the station and queue were just above average. People will kill me for this, but Xpress at Walibi Holland is probably better themed in that regard. Sadly, this coaster also proved to be somewhat unrealiable, so I only rode it once.



    Disneyland Paris




    As soon as you enter the main Disneyland you notice a significant uptick in quality. This is initially mostly because of the great Mainstreet and the fantastic castle, obviously. But first we want to the area which I personally liked least in the park. Obviously, both the Videopolis building, the Space Mountain building and the Orbitron were all great "Jules Vergne style" buildings. Autopia was kinda set in the side (even though it reminded me more of how I imagine Tomorrowland looks) and Star Tours is also cleverly hidden. So the two issues were the Buzz Lightyear ride and the Star Wars overlay on Space Mountain. Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain was our first step. Sadly, the main queue was not exactly great and the Star Wars overlay hurt the theming significantly. The ride itself was fine, although the on-ride effects were somewhat iffy at times (and fantastic at other times) and the coaster itself feels a bit like a worse version of Avengers Assemble at the sister park. Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast is a decent enough shooting dark ride, that gives solid feedback to your shooting, which I appreciate. Autopia would have been more enjoyable in sunshines, but even in light rain I enjoyed it. Star Tours: l'Aventure Continue was the first time I really felt the "Disney Magic" in the park. The queue is amazingly well done in my eyes, both in terms of theming and in terms of actually using the queue line well, with clever elevation changes and layout decisions. Obviously, everything about this was fantastic (even though I would have preferred to get less sequel material in the actual flight films).




    Let's get the garish intruder out of the way first. It's a Small World was, surprisingly, not as bad/annoying as expected. It also, arguably, wasn't as racist as Carnival Festival at Efteling, which is a plus. I still don't like the facade. Les Pays des Contes de Fées is a good boatride past miniature scenes of famous (mostly Disney related) fairy tales. It's interacting ride Casey Jr. - le Petit Train du Cirque was also good, although landscaping and the train itself were better than the actual ride. We then did the dark ride trifecta: Peter Pan's Flight was really good, with theming and ride system working really well together. Very enjoyable experience. Blanche Neige et les Sept Nains started somewhat lame but actually goot really atmospheric, dark and good later on, utilizing a pretty cool effect in the latter half. Les Voyages de Pinocchio was obviously closely related to Snow White but sadly, not as good (but still decent).




    Obvious statement coming from me: Pirates of the Caribbean was my favourite ride at the park and it is fantastic. While the queue is good (but not breathtaking), the station is absolutely fantastic and the ride is world class. I especially like the use of "space" around the track, as the ride begins in the tight quarters of the frotress, then has a long open part and finally plunges into tight tunnels. This ride has been updates with some of those fantastic Disney animatronics. I still appreciate that the ride doesn't lean too heavily on the movie franchise but is still allowed to stand on its own. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril is well themed but sadly, the ride is pretty rotten. Still, a nice area overall.




    Obviously, Big Thunder Mountain is great, especially with the main ride being on the island. The coaster itself was as expected from Disney, where it's almost more of a themed ride than a full-blooded coaster but I think it works well enough as a ride. The theming is obviously great (though I was not a fan of the queue layout). We got a nightride on it, which was fantastic and really underscores the island theming. Phantom Manor was, to my great sadness, closed. I think it could have been a contender for my favourite ride at the park.


    Disney Dreams


    I think the end show deserves its own short shoutout here. 20 minutes of light-, water- and fireworkshow. Absolutely fantastic and almost moved me to tears.


    Overall attraction ranking:


    1. Pirates of the Caribbean

    2. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

    3. Star Tours

    4. Big Thunder Mountain

    5. Peter Pan's Flight


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