James Malin -- September 2002 -- Disneyland Paris (HC)
September 22 to September 25 2002
I last visited WDW in 2000 with family to see Disney's Animal Kingdom. I enjoy visiting Disney because everytime you visit something always new and exciting is added. On my last visit to WDW I experienced a whole new theme park (Animal Kingdom) as well as plenty of new things to explore at the other three parks. This is why I come back because there is always something new to see. So when I heard the news that Disneyland Paris was going to open its 2nd gate, The Walt Disney Studios, I jumped at the chance to go. But would I enjoy the same Disney standard that can be found next door at the Disneyland Park?
I arrived at Gatwick Airport in London around 12. 00 for my 14. 30 flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. I had a quick bite to it at one of the Airports many resturants. Then slowly made my way though into the departure lounge.
The Flight was 40 minutes and drinks were served.
We landed an hour in front of British time so it was around 16. 00 French time. All the staff I spoke to in the Airport could speak english and the signs were all posted in both French and English. Disney have coaches that will pick you up from both Charles de Gaulle and Orly every 20 minutes depending on the season. Look out for the signs saying Disney. And the trip cost about 12 Euro's. Our coach traveled to all four departure gates before departing to Marne-la Vallee the home of Disneyland Resort Paris. The journy last about 1 hour and it was raining ,thats a great start to the trip. I turn my mobile on so freinds and family could phone to see how I was. Nice to know it took about three hours before anyone could be asked to phone what a caring bunch of people there are.
Check in was a breeze all the staff spoke decent English. The Castmember who served me was called Teddy nice guy, Teddy asked why if Im English I have a French surname. I wondered where the name Malin came from. Anyway he gave me my room key as well as my ID card which I had to carry around with me at all times and my Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios ticket. I also had to select a time to eat breakfast at the Red Garter Saloon. I picked 7. 00 for some stupid and insane reason. I had a quick look around this 1000 room 2 star resort which is theme to resemble an old wild west town. As I was looking around I noticed paint peeling off one of the buildings. That upset me a bit no one wants to see this kind of neglect at Disney. I left my bag in the room and made my way to Disneyland Park which is either a 15 minute walk or a coach will pick you up around every 15 minutes. Im a lazy guy so guess what I chose.
The time was 7. 00 by now in France and the park was only open until 8. 00 so I made my way over to the Disneyland Park. As I walked into Main Street I could hear Disney music I then realised I was finally at Disney. I slowly walked from Main Street up towards Discoveryland. Had a look around and joined the line for Star Tours. The sign above the entrance reported a 45 minute wait. Which turn out into only a 10 minute wait. Which I was upset over as I like to watch the droids like R2D2 and C3PO do there little bits. In the French Star Tours C3PO also can speak very good French. Disney actully got the original voice of C3PO to do the voice over in French esspecially for this attraction. The droid who checks your passports just cracks me up with his Im sorry no extra baggage,Oh Im sorry I didn't realise that was your husband line. Funny stuff. I have one small complaint however with the condition of the seats on the actual ride. The arm rest in my seat had a massive chunk missing and one of the seats was broken so how did Disney fix the problem by placing a black bin bag over it,It looked bad. Im sure Goerge Lucas would of hit the roof if he saw the poor condition that Disney has let Star Tours become. The actual ride is just as good as I remember if not better.
I then passed Honey I Strunk The Audience,I saw this attraction 2 years a go in Epcot and loved it. So I had to see it again. Disney have ruined this attraction for anyone who doesn't speak French. You see the HISTA is shown live in French yet all other languages must wear head phones. Sadly the live French version is so loud its hard to listen to anything without also hearing the French version in the background. This ruined the experience for me. Oh well there is always Disneyland in November more about that soon.
It was then 8. 00 so time to leave Disneyland Paris for today. I had a quick peep at the Walt Disney Studios before heading to Disney Village(Paris Version Of Downtown Disney). The Walt Disney Studios looked very impressive with its arch gate and Water Tower all glowing in the dark with serch lights scanning the Paris sky.
The Secruity at the Disney Village all need personality transplants there are the most moody and rude people I have ever met at a Disney Resort. I was hungry so grabbed a sandwich from a place called New York Style Sandwiches. I had a very nice Cheese and Ham sandwich served on French bread with a packet of Potato Chips and a Orangina(French version of Fanta but beter)
I had a mission to find a book called From Sketch to Reality which had tons of concept drawings from the Disneyland Park. I found the book easily but not an English version. I asked a castmember in the Disney Gallery who told me to try Hollywood Pictures. Walked to Hollywood Pictures and asked a castmember who called another castmember who quickly got a few copies of the English version one for me and some for the shelf. Mission a success.
Disney Village was packed and has become the place to be in Paris. But it was getting late for me and I needed some sleep. I catched a coach back to the Hotel brought a bottle of water from the gift shop and made my way back to the room. I watched some of the UK Disney Channel which were showing Disney's House Of Mouse my favourite. Followed by Home Improvment. I then crashed out for the night.
I ordered a wake up call at 6. 30 which you can do from your phone,But sadly Mickey doesn't make the effort to call you personally like he does at DL and WDW. My body was still an hour behind so it felt like 5. 30 instead of 6. 30. I got dressed and made my way across to The Red Garter Saloon for my free breakfast. The breakfast was free and was a continetal breakfast. With cheese's hams and pastry's and all sort of nice things like that. You could also buy extra things like bottle water and cook breakfast at an extra cost. After breakfast I ran across to my room it was freezing at 7. 30 in the morning. I had a shower and watched this strange French show in which viewers call up and sing and this guy song a Elvis song and was terrible. But what made it worse was the presenters were all singing a song from a terrible group called Les Ketchup Girls. The French have the cheek to call this entertainment. The parks didn't open until 10. 00 this morning. So I left the room around 9. 30 arrived at the Walt Disney Studios around 9. 45 Pluto and Goofy were greeting guest in the Studio courtyard,Which has a very cool looking Mickey fountain. Studio 1 is the parks Main Street with a shop on one side and a resturant on the other side. Studio 1 is inside a massive sound stage with movie props everywhere. I took a look around the shop waiting until the official opening.
First stop was the TV Tram Tour. Each Tram is dedicated to a differn't language in the English tram we have Jeremy Irons who presents the attraction on a TV screen. The Tram was nothing special but was ok. We went passed some movie props from Dinotopia and Pearl Harbour then drove into Catastrophe Canyon which was cool. And seem to be more thrilling and intensed then its Orlando cousin. One kid loved it and informed his parents that there were going on it again. Our tram then passed behind the costuming department. And on to a set from the Disney hit movie Reign Of Fire we see a large flame explode from below. But sadly we saw no Dragon.
I decided to see the Art Of Disney Animation which I felt was a big let down. We wait in a room and watch a preshow video of Roy and his Uncle Walt explain how Animation was created in France in the Stone Age. The video was dubbed in French and was a slap in the face to the legend that is Walt Disney. After the video we are moved into the classic's theatre where we see a great video of highlights from all great Disney movies dubbed into loads of differn't languages. Sadly we next enter a room where we see the interaction with Musha and a animator. Sadly like Honey I Strunk The Audience the live French show could be over heard over the headsets. We then come to our last part of the tour the interactive area where you can draw Mickey. Also there was a small gift shop.
I made my way across the Animation Courtyard to the Animagique theatre. The story to this unique show is that Mickey(Who Speaks French) and Donald(Who speaks English)are busy drawing pictues for no doubt there next hit Disney movie. Mickey calls it a day and warns Donald not to touch anything while he is gone. Yeah right this is Donald we are talking about here the Duck manages to break into the Disney Volt and all sorts of Disney characters escape,Including villians(Gasp)We are shown scenes from Pinochio,Jungle Book,The Pink Elephants from Fantasia and The Lion King. Using catchy music and puppets with live performers. In the grand final Mickey returns and all the Disney characters sing and dance to one final song. I liked it a lot but some scenes could be improved and I found it a bit weird compare to other Disney shows.
I ran across to the other side of the studio to catch The Stunt Show Spectacular if you a fan of the James Bond films you will love this attraction. We are seated in a 3. 000 seat stadium with a French theme sea side village where a English and a French host are looking for extras for a stunt that there will be shooting later in the show. The Stunt show Cordinators come to the stage and the show begins. Our hero is in the red car. We are then treated to all sort of high speed stunts which our host detail in full. One of the highlights for me was seeing the extras running across the village in fear of there life. One of them even dropped to the floor pretending to be injured. I love it, and the look on there faces said it all. Herbie the Love Bug even got a video dedicated to him and made an appearance before crashing. Another great audience bit was when the host asked a woman to test the shows new radio controlled car. The car suddenly became crazy and started backing inches away from the wall,our host were making it apear it was the woman's thought until the car span around revealing a driver on the side of the car. Each show will vary depending on weather conditions and problems with the cars themselfs which all apeared to have large dents in them already. The red car had problems on the morning of my visit so the last stunt the most dangerous stunt was cancel. The show finishes with a video of how the stunts we saw today played out in the film. Great show.
I needed to drop of some photo films and ask the hotel reception about renting out a safety deposit box. So it was off to the hotel for 20 minutes or so. Goofy and Pluto were posing for photos in the lobby when I arrived. I thought I would visit Disneyland Paris on my return. One thing that anoys me are people that work outside of Disney trying to get you to donate money or buy things. And Disneyland Resort Paris is full of them not in the park but just as you come of the train station. I headed to the Disneyland Park and was feeling hungry. I wanted to try a Pizza Burger which could be found at Buzz Lightyear's Pizza Planet. Think of the movie story when Buzz and Woody visit Pizza Planet and there are hundreds of kids running around and you will get the atmosphere of this place. The Pizza Burger tasted great but increadibly greasy. Its two pizza bases with a burger in the middle. Nice thing to have if you want to try something differn't the resturant also did pizza's and salads. The resturant is perfect for familys with even a play area for the yound ones.
I skipped Fantasyland and ventured into Adventureland. found a cool looking fortress which was also my next stop Pirates of the Caribbean. Im happy to say that this is similar to the DL version with two drops and not the WDW version with one drop. Great attraction like usaul. This version also travels passed the Blue Lagoon Resturant,so don't forget to wave to the guy tucking into his lobster now. I always find it fun to ride Pirates because you will always find new things each time you visit that you didn't notice before. I even saw one or two hidden Mickeys but Im not telling you where, your going to have to find that out yourself.
Pinochio was my next adventure. I would of done Peter Pan as well but the popular attraction was clossed for Rehab. It was nice to see Disneyland Paris does keep to a decent level of upkeep. Things were being painted in the day time. Which I have never noticed before. But with the night staff busy with the Halloween Decorations it probely only gave them certain amount of time to do jobs. Main Street was being painted thoughout my stay and so was the railings in Discoveryland which both greatly needed to be.
I decided to leave Disneyland Paris and return back to the Walt Disney Studios which is located right next door. The Studios recently have added the Partners Statue which can be found just as you leave Studio 1. This has received great criticism from Disney fans as most belive it should of been placed in front of the castle at Disneyland Park. I sort of liked where Disney have placed it. Nice tribute to Walt Disney.
I have heard from various internet forums how Cinemagique is the dark horse of the Walt Disney Studios. And that was spot on. we enter a large theatre and are seated down in front of a giant screen. The movie has got some great live elements which I really want to tell you about but don't want to ruin the surprise. All I will tell you is that Martin Short ends up being zapped into the movie world. And needs to find away out. But like what often happens in the movies Short falls in love with a beatiful woman and needs to make a difficult decision on whether to stay in the movie world where love may wait or return to his own world. Excellent movie and very well edited. The Studios best attraction by far.
Armegeddon an attraction once rumoured for Disney's California Adventure has found its way to Paris. We walk into a room where two guest perform some hilarious scenes in front of a backdrop. One minute there are surfing then the next minute fighting off Godzilla. Michael Duncan from the hit movie Armegeddon apears on a TV scene to explain how the great effects for the movie were done without even leaving the Studios. Michael then says that certain scenes were dangerous but needed the actors to be there. He then said instead of talking about it Disney were going to show us. And that there were waiting for us on set. We are taken into a room theme to the Mir Space Station. I was upset with Disney at this stage to not warn parents with small kids that there could find this attraction a bit too intense. Universal Studios warns people so why don't Disney. This attraction is similar to Backdraft and Twister but a lot tamer which I was happy with as I find Universal go over the top with to much heat. A castmember is on hand in case there are any problems. We hear annoucements that a shower is on the way. We start to feel shakes . Next we hear a loud explossion all around us with huge warm but not hot flames burst out over the center of the room. Water is sprayed to give the effect that we are on fire. Cool attraction but parents with kids should of been warned.
I decide to catch the last Stunt show for the day and yes I got to see the final stunt. Which was great.
Next was the biggest mistake I have ever made and the worse escuse for a theme park attraction I have ever witnessed. The Television Production Tour. We walk into a room where a Disney Channel host from most country's in Europe is talking. I missed this preshow sadly. We walk into a room where a group of guys are editing the French Disney Channel. One guy was more interested in reading the paper then working. What a easy job. Buzz Lightyear spoke for a few minutes as well on a scene. But don't ask me what he said I had lost interest by that point. Our last stop is the Zapping Zone a live interactive show that boardcast live for the French Disney Channel. One of the Producers spoke live to us. And had the cheek to ask why I looked so bored. This show is mainly done in French. So anyone who doesn't speak French should avoid this like the plague. Heck anyone who speaks french should also avoid this poor escuse for an attraction. Our last stop on the tour is also the newest addition to the Walt Disney Studios a new interactive games area similar to Disney Quest.
Caught Cinemagique one last time before leaving to return to the Disneyland Park for the last hour or so. At 8. 00 I made my way to Disney Village walked passed my best pals the always happy and smilling Disney Village Secruity guards. Great bunch of guys. I decided McDonalds would do me for tonight. This was a typical McDonalds with luke warm food and increadibly slow service. In fact I would say that being in line for a Big Mac was the biggest line I had my entire stay at Disney. Also the woman that served me had the hairiest arms I have ever seen (scary). I was sitting outside enjoying my meal when I heard the band Coldplay new song in my place. Why Im I telling you this is because Disney Village plays some of the worst music I have ever heard. The only other two decent songs I heard during my stay were from Travis and Nickleback. I was cold and tired,
time to go back to the hotel. I needed to get my phone out of the safety deposit box to make a couple a calls so that was my first job followed by sleep.
I was again called at 6. 30 and slowly got out of my bed. The weather was freezing once again but I can handle it. Had my breakfast and made my way back to the room to shower and plan my day a head. This was my last full day at Disney and I wanted to make sure I did everything I wanted to do including watching both parades. I was watching some tv and flicked to BBC World where there had all the days finacial news. Then it caught my attention when the news presenter stated that up next there were going to talk about Disney CEO Michael Eisner. The presenter reported about how bad Disney Theme Park were doing. And how Michael had a meeting with the board of directors coming later on today.
I arrived at the Walt Disney Studios at 9. 30 for the 10. 00 opening. One thing which I couldn't work out was the store in Studio 1 was clossed even though you had hundreds of guest bored with nothing to do until the park officially open at 10. 00. I think Disney lost a lot of money because of this.
I left the Studios around 11. 30 brought a Walt Disney Studios jacket and left to return it to my room in the hotel. On my return I decided to explore Disneyland Park. I explored the castle which is the best Disney castle in my view. If you walk down towards the cave you come across a fire breething dragon. Which erupts in anger every 10 minutes appox. carried on exploring Fantasyland until I came to my next attraction Alice's Curious Labyrinth which is a maze just like in the movie around the Queen of hearts castle. You can even explore the castle itself. Certain Charcters like the Cheshire cat were in desparate need of paint. (Hint Hint)
Alice's Curious Labyrinth is a Disneyland Resort Paris exclusive as well as our next attraction Adventure Isle. In Adventure Isle you can explore Captain Hooks ship as well as Skull Rock with caves and bridges to walk on.
Phantom Manor was my next target and unlike the american versions this one is a lot more dark and spooky. you board a lift where the pictures move then all of a sudden lightning strikes and there is a body hanging from the ceiling. Our Castmember was really getting into character by running around scarying all the guest by jumping up behind them. We then board our doom buggy's where we travel pass some excellent scenes. This attraction amazes me everytime I see it. On the exit you have a choice of visiting Boot Hill which is a cementry that over looks the rivers of america. Some of the tombstones are a little risque by Disney standards. Take this once for instance,Sacred to the memory of Rev Jared Bates,who died Aug 8 1862. Erected by the girls of The Lucky Nugget Saloon.
The Thunder Mesa Riverboat was next. The attraction I felt was a massive disapointment compare to DL and WDW versions. With not a great deal to look at.
I left the park to watch the cinema parade at the Studios park. This parade was a massive let down with cheap looking floats and a very dark soundtrack. It didn't seem to me like a Disney parade. The story is Goofy is directing his latest movie what follows is a mess of floats which make no sense to me what so ever. This parade was rushed to get it up and running for the summer and it shows. I heard WDW bosses were impressed with the parade and want a copy for Disney's MGM Studios Orlando. I hope thats not true I really do.
The only other attraction which I wanted to try at the Studios was Rock (N) Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith. When I was in WDW I chicken out of doing this attraction but I was determine to ride it. We enter a room with music Platinum music disk and guitars all around us. The band Aerosmith are on the scene with lead singer Steve Tyler telling the other band members about this new coaster he is creating. And we are invited to ride the coaster for ourself. We board our cars. I was hoping I wouldn't be placed in the front seat and guessed where I was placed yes in the front. Unlike Florida the ride has replaced the flat signs with lights which create the impression of a high tech disco. It was a great coaster with quality music and a smooth track. A joy to ride.
It was time to head to the Disneyland Park for the Wonderful World Of Disney Parade. After being very disapointed by the Cinema Parade I was suprised at how good this parade was very suprised. The floats were ausome in size and detail all the castmember were great fun and the parade had very good song called Dancin (a catchy Rhythm)
I explored some more around the park before riding Pirates a few times. We were all asked to stay on if we like to as the attraction had no line. I would just like to point out it was 7. 30 but I was more then happy to stay on. I love that ride. Esspecially the dog who sings his own version of yo ho yo ho a pirates life for me.
Big Thunder Mountain was my lasy attraction for the day. I had already been on this attraction already. Unlike at DL and WDW this version is situated on a island in the middle of the river of america. You travel to the island under tunels. The theming is excellent and is another favourite of mine.
As I was leaving the announcement over the PR system about Disneyland Paris clossing was made. Here is a tip if the park closes at 8. 00 during your stay don't go to Disney Village head back to you hotel for an hour and come back. That way you can eat without waiting and shop without to many people about. I had dinner at Planet Hollywood and brought some gifts before heading back to the hotel.
Day 4(Last Day)
I skipped breakfast today so I could packed my bag before checking out. You can leave your bags at the hotel and pick it up later in the day. I had breakfast inside the park which was pastry's. The park opened and I headed to Frontierland and was the first person that day to ride Phantom Manor. Next was Star Tours followed by Pirates. I would of done Big Thunder Mountain again but it broke down. Twice it broke down during my stay. So did Space Mountain. I then slowly made my way out of the park. When I picked up my bag from the Resort I saw none other then Mickey Mouse sitting in the lobby. I waited about 10 minutes before the coach came to take us back to the airport.
My final thought of the Walt Disney Studios was a bad with only two out of the nine attraction being excellent which were Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and Cinemagique. But I think once the park starts to build new attractions things will start to look beter I hope. Disneyland Park was just as good as ever. But needs more TLC. Which I have heard will be happening.
I will be visiting the States with family members in November and I have insisted we visit Disneyland Resort. Im looking forward to seeing Disney's California Adventure for the first time. Should be interesting.