Dennis Greenblatt -- September 1998 -- Disneyland Paris (Offsite)
I just got back from France (7 nights) and a day trip to DLP. All attractions were open but more than half the restaurants were closed. I think because it was uncrowded (no more than a 5min. wait for anything!
Went on 9/27: 10am 6pm short hours... I talked to a couple from Florida at a brasserie near Notre Dame in Paris who had been there the previous sat. and said there were 70 90min. wait times for EVERYTHING! When I went that following Tuesday, I had "no wait" to 5 min. wait. The drawback was an early closure and no night time parade. Oh, well.. I'll take "no wait times" over a parade any day!
Tuesday morning: Took the RER A line to the park (15$ rt) When you come out of the train station, you open into a circular courtyard that has a staircase entrance that leads you under the Hotel to the park, The entrance to Disney Village, and a "big hole" that I can easily imagine an entrance to future gates (Paris Studios? I hope...) The traffic flow is well thought out and extremely well designed. This place was done VERY WELL!!!! (Yeah for them...)
This place was FANTASTIC! It is what the Magic Kingdom park should be! I have been to WDW over a dozen times and DLP is FAR SUPERIOR! When I was in a "land" (Frontierland, Discovery, Adventure, Fantasy, etc..) I was REALLY enveloped in THAT land. Each section is so big that you can walk around within each themed land and really get a sense of being within that land. Like you feel when you are on Tom Sawyer's Island at WDW. When you are there, you are COMPLETELY there! DLP has THAT feel to EACH of their themed "lands". In all fairness though, DLP is about 30 acres bigger (I think...)
For example: at WDW, you can stand in one spot entitled a "land" look over your shoulder and.... Uh, Oh... There is another "land"... Therefore, you don't really get into the "feel" of the environment. Other "lands" are very visible. I mean, what is Critter County and Frontier Land? They are almost the same. Liberty Square almost seems in the way at WDW...
At DLP, you really get to "explore" a "land" for a long time. In Frontierland, it opens with the Tom Sawyer Fort (you can explore) and opens into this immense area that is an entire town with the river, etc.. The only exception is Discovery land seems to be the smallest land. Yet, when you are in there, you are completely enveloped. The whole Adventure Land was VERY "Typhoon Lagoon". It was wonderful. The park makes use of multi-levels and intimate areas. I have not been to Animal Kingdom yet, but I imagine it is how the traffic flow at DLP is. Very intimate areas that wind and envelop you.
I brought a panoramic camera with me but couldn't use it effectively. The park really creates small environments or areas that won't allow you to see other places at the same time. I wanted to get pictures of how areas related to one another but couldn't. It was what helped me feel enveloped in the themed "lands"
I was impressed with the textural use of the concrete walkways. At WDW, they use too much plain blacktop or flat concrete. AT DLP, the ground treatment has a lot of texture and imprints. (For example, horse hoofs in Frontierland think ski imprints at Blizzard Beach... I think Animal Kingdom textures their walkways)
DLP also has created a lot of indoor space. (I suspect because of the winters.) The cue areas are heavily themed and are VERY LONG! You could really pack a three hour wait indoors for a lot of these attractions - the spaces look THAT big. At WDW, Main Street stores connect indoors so you can walk up the entire Main Street indoors. At DLP, they do the same thing and take it a step further they added indoor corridors that run the entire length on either side. In the winter, this would be wonderful! It also seemed that most of Discoveryland (DLP's Tomorrowland) was indoors. The "land" seemed small from the outside, but there is a lot of space entirely indoors.
There are a lot of areas you just sort of come up on or get to by different ways. For Example, I spent time in Frontierland and then took the train around the park and got off at the Frontierland station only to find myself saying, "How did I miss all this?" "Where did this come from?" I am talking about the Critter Coral and Restaurant back there near the Pocahontas playground and amphitheater.
Here are some more thoughts on the park:
The Restaurants: Very big a lot of them well themed and had a very permanent substantial feel to them. Think: The Lucky Horse Saloon at WDW.
Indiana Jones Roller Coaster: A lot rougher than I expected. A very good little ride. It gives a clue to how "The Excavator" roller coaster at Animal Kingdom may look if it ever gets built. The tracks are the scaffolding surrounding the Temple. The effect is very good.
Adventure Bazaar: Has a very EPCOT feel to it. It is a lot like the Moroccan Pavilion.
The Entrance to the park: A good example of multilevel use. When you descend down the staircase, the walkway wraps around a multilevel water fall. I have seen an aerial photo of DLP in an issue of Disney Magazine (Fall 97 issue) and this space looks HUGE BUT when you are there walking around, it feels VERY intimate.
The Castle: Another area you feel you can explore and do! Unfortunately, the upstairs was closed. There are paths that go around and underneath the Castle. It is a wonderful experience. At WDW, you just sort of look at the Castle, it is background. At DLP, you feel like you INTERACT with the Castle.
The Pirates Of The Caribbean: To get here, you descend down stairs that wrap in levels and open onto a courtyard. The entrance to the boat goes on forever! I can't imagine how long the wait time would be if this cue area was filled-up! A very cool thing happens when you board the boat, the boat glides in front of tables of people eating!! Picture the Mexican Pavilion boat ride at EPCOT same deal... The indoor Caribbean restaurant looked so cool... as does the Mexican restaurant at EPCOT.
Adventure Island: This is the area that put together the Swiss Family Treehouse, Pirate Ship, and Skull Caves. This whole area had a very "Typhoon Lagoon" feel to it. The Caves were very Tom Sawyer's Island. They had rope bridges aka "Typhoon Lagoon" and running water streams that ran under small foot bridges aka "Typhoon Lagoon" Picture going up the paths to the Storm Slides at Typhoon Lagoon. The detail in the workings of the Swiss Family Treehouse is not as involved. At WDW, the whole running water thing for the treehouse is very detailed.
Fantasyland: Oh, my GOD! This is the most incredible thing to be seen! This area REALLY makes WDW look like a tacky roadside carnival. WDW is an embarrassment compared to DLP's Fantasyland no joke! The building facades are beautiful with, what looks like shellacked wood color roofing. It may even be tile roof. The indoor cue areas are very well thought out and are typical of DLP's sheltered waiting areas. I could go on for pages about this area I will summarize in one word..... PERFECTION!
Phantom Manor :was fantastic and REALLY WORKED!! It FELT like a haunted house. It was the original concept sketch for DL's haunted house right down to the entrance gates, perched on a hill, and themed to fit in Frontierland!!! (I couldn't believe it! The sketch from 1955 looked exactly as I remembered seeing it! Very Cool...)
This is another perfect example of the guest interacting with the structure rather than the structure existing as background only.
It felt so natural to approach this attraction through the gates, up a winding path, to the FRONT PORCH of the HOUSE! The Front doors open, and you walk in!! Just like a REAL HOUSE as opposed to WDW's non-descript tunnel that leads into an unnatural feel of entering a large public building. At WDW, you know you are in line at an attraction... Phantom Manor "feels" much different...
To continue THAT flow, when you exit out of the stretching room (this effect was actually NOT as well executed as WDW) you are lead to a GRAND FOYER complete with dual Grand Staircases that lead up to a large window. The whole room is engulfed with TERRIFIC lighting effects of a storm! The Doombuggy chairs come down the right hand stairs... you get on... and ascend up the left hand side.... cool....
The ride is basically the same... Notable differences: A more coherent "Bride" story, a very effect circular room scene ( madam ? in the crystal ball). Here there is no sťance (sp?) scene, the table floats and rotates at the same time...
The Western change of scenery was a little abrupt. But I can understand because of the placement of Phantom Manor. It was a lot of fun...
The ride in general has a more "ethereal" feel to it... One effect very poorly done was the ghost rides in your car at the end in the mirror... At DLP, the ghost rides on top of your buggy and looking to your left, back at the mirrors as you go by, the mechanism is visible in the mirror... I WAS SHOCKED All the times I had been at WDW THAT effect always stumped me... HERE, you see it bummer -
There is so much good things to say about the place... But the resorts are lacking.. And "Lake Disney" spawns a river that goes to two budget resorts that is NOT a river rather an 8 inch concrete trough that makes no attempt to simulate a natural boarder. It is very unattractive. I spent time walking around the properties and could go on about them... but I won't It's too much to say....
The castle is undergoing renovation until the end of Nov.. And there is massive construction in the Disney Village. The park has a lot of "green walls" up for refurbishment. And I can confirm the "Honey, I Shrunk the audience" construction. There also was a lot of construction trailers visible from the RER train from Paris. I wonder what they are doing.... The studios? THAT would be VERY cool...
I have run out of things to say right now... I can't wait to go back!