is Not Well: A Photo Tour of the new Disney Studios Park - Reader
After my recent story about the Walt Disney
Studios Shareholders Preview, I received quite a bit of mail, and my
mailbox contained a variety of differing views about my report and the
I replied to all the mails and I thought the
MousePlanet readers would be interested to see the comments and a
summary of my replies.
Mailbox for 4/15/02:
a comment or two from John Huntley from England:
I was very interested to read your review of the new Paris
Park on MousePlanet. This is the first properly independent
review of the park I have come across and it's refreshing to
read honest opinions from someone who, while obviously a great
fan of Disney parks, is prepared to be objective.
My family and I are visiting Disneyland Paris in August this
year (we are bringing our caravan to Davy Crockett's ranch) and
it will be interesting to compare the parks to WDW Florida where
we have been for the past 2 years. The last time we visited DLP
was in 1999 when we stayed at the Hotel Cheyenne and were
overall pretty impressed with both the hotel and the park.
From what I have read so far about the Paris Studios park in
brochures it has always looked like a lesser version of the MGM
Studios park in WDW which we enjoy a lot so at least I can
"manage the expectation" thanks to your review. Let's
hope that the Disney people are receptive to constructive
criticism (do they actually read MousePlanet reports?) and
accelerate progress towards what we all want this French version
I was interested to learn of the "pocket park"
concept Disney are trying in Hong Kong. I have often thought
that there must be a way of bringing the "Disney
experience" to a wider audience through more compact and
accessible ventures but the execution has to be excellent - it
will be interesting to see if they can pull it off.
Best wishes and thanks for your hard work on the reviews.
Thanks for the support, and for
spotting the independent review. So many newspapers and web sites
are simply using the Disney press pack for their reports, which
really does not give an honest view of the park.
I believe that Disney does read the
MousePlanet pages and itís nice to know that sometimes they do
react positively to what they see.
|Robert who worked on the new park had this
I just saw the photos of the Disneyland Paris (DLP) second
gate, which I worked on for almost two years.
It was nice to see my work on the "Stunt show",
"Cinemagique", "Animagique", etc, come to
life. I was a designer on a lot of those buildings as well as
others in the park. All I can say is that Disney never had a
good budget to do a first class park for the second gate and I'm
surprised it looks as good as it does. In time it will be built
out and it was purely economics that drove the project.
The park is also not solely owned by Disney so their control
over what was built was not complete. We had brilliant dreams
for what could have been but alas no money to realize them; it's
a cruel world.
Thanks for the great photo essay as I left the project before
the team was relocated to Paris to build it and it was fun to
see what we worked hard on come to life.
Thanks for your email; Iím
sorry if I upset you with my comments about the park and
therefore your work. I know the problem was money rather than
designerís ability and that you could have done a wonderful
job had the budgets been available. Thanks for what you did do,
the Stunt Show is a real ĎEí ticket attraction and there is
the start of a good park there.
|Gary had the following
strong words to say:
I think Al's comments at the end of your report were right on
target. What a pitiful park! What a sad day!
I sincerely hope they lose a large enough sum of money so
that Eisner and Pressler get fired.
They richly deserve it. They seem to have lost the recipe for
what makes theme parks successful.
I don't think time or money is going to help. Walt Disney is
spinning in his grave!
While I agree that the park has
problems, maybe your suggestions are a bit excessive. Hopefully
the powers that be will eventually see that saving money now, has
a big impact on the parks further down the line. I can only hope
we see increased investment and imagination in the future.
|Doug had these nice words to say about my
I just had to drop you a quick note to let you know what a
great job you did on the presentation of the new Studio Park in
Paris. It was fantastic.
I'm so sorry to see that there's not a whole lot to the new
park. I received an e-mail from the Marketing department earlier
this week to see an on-line preview the new park. From that it
looked like the park was pretty sparse, your photo tour and
review certainly confirmed that.
I visited Disneyland Paris last summer and fell in love with
it. I was a little disappointed that my timing was off by a few
months to be able to experience the new park as well. I am no
Doug thanks for the kind words. I
really went to the new park with an open mind, and wanted it to be
great. Maybe my expectations were too high, but then I have been
spoiled by the great Disneyland Park just next door.
|Joris had this correction
to make to my story:
I just read in you photo tour of the Walt Disney Studios (WDS)
that the Television Studio Tour was closed. I was there also on
the 23rd and it was open. On [another site] there are some
reviews about it.
Looks like this was my mistake, please
accept my apologies. I did try to see the attraction before lunch,
but the cast member outside said it was closed. Later in the day I
did see a long line forming outside but wrongly assumed it was for
a special event rather than the line for the attraction. Next time
I visit the park I will see the attraction and give you my report.
There was also a photo error in my
report that a number of people pointed out. The interiors of the
shops shown in the Studios One section of the report were actually
from the Walt Disney Studios Store. Thanks to all those people who
spotted the error and took the time to let me know.
|And now a comment from DisneyTom who
differed with my views:
Maybe you think that your opinion is the one everyone shares,
but there are enough people who DO like the new Walt Disney
I really don't understand how you can be so negative about
our new park (I really don't understand how you can call
yourself a Disney fan). Maybe you should read the reports on
other Disney Fan sites. Don't be shocked, but there are people
who think that the park is fine.
I'm so excited about it. Maybe it doesn't look like you
expected, but that doesn't make it bad. I think they did a great
job copying a real studio terrain (you know, the theme of the
park) and I love the looks of the park.
It really did not make me happy to
write a bad review about the new park. What is important here is
that people get a balanced view rather than everyone just heaping
praise on what is a second rate park.
I am a Disney Fan, but that does not
mean I think that everything they do is wonderful. Disney do make
mistakes and WDS is one of them. If you and other people like the
new park then I have no problem with that at all. I have no reason
to dislike the park; I really wanted it to be good.
I am not a negative person about
things Disney, in fact if you read my MousePlanet stories most of
them give the resort a glowing review and I have written about
many attractions and hotels.
What we do at MousePlanet is tell it
like it is, we don't put a Disney gloss on everything. Doing that
does not help people who are planning trips; they want to know the
truth not marketing information.
I have only received a small number
emails like yours which disagree with my view of the park (and it
is only my view), but I have had many that agree with me, two of
them from people who have worked on the design of the park over
the last two years.
I hope the park gets better, as I am a
regular visitor, I just felt it was my duty to point out what is
good and what is bad.
|Mark had the following to
Thank you for the accurate reports.
Imagineers have been saying privately for months about how
bad this new park is. How wonderful for you through MousePlanet
to expose the cheapness of this newest Disney theme park.
We hear that the park in China will NOT be getting any
quality design as well.
When a company starts charging yearly fees for Magic Kingdom
Club cards and "Lifetime" Alumni Club memberships, we
can expect only the worse.
Looking forward to more MousePlanet revelations in the days
Thanks for the praise; itís nice to
hear Iím not the only informed person who thinks things could be
|Dan a Disneyland California Cast Member had
this to say:
Thanks for the photo tour I really enjoyed it. As a cast
member at Disneyland, I like to see what the other parks are
like. I have a quick question that hopefully you can address in
your next update. I was wondering if this park is divided into
"lands" and if it has the hub and spokes design of the
WDS does not really follow the hub and
spoke design of other parks. At the moment there are three main
areas in the park that are basically along one main 'street'. I
believe that when the park gets its second phase of construction a
more 'hub' like design will be visible. At the moment it looks
like the Tower of Terror will be at the centre of the park.
|Kennect was a little blunt
with this comment -
I take it from your first WDS report instalment that you
think this new park is a complete disaster. Should I waste my
time trying to follow your daily reports or should I just forget
it? Just curious.
I am just trying to write my opinion
of the new park, if you keep reading you will see that I do like
many things in the park. Itís not perfect but I like to point
out the good and the bad.
|Peter was another who seemed to have an
opinion different to mine:
I read the first part of your review on the new Walt Disney
I was also at the shareholders preview last Saturday and saw
the park. I can see that your review is going to be very
negative and while I think you should give the park a chance you
are of course entitled to your own opinion.
The thing I don't understand is the following. You said that
you have followed the construction of the WDS for 2 years now.
If you have followed the construction of the park for so long
you should have known that the park was going to be a studio
park. It's strange that you expected the park to live up to the
high quality theming of the Disneyland Paris Park next door.
Of course Euro Disney SCA won't spent the amount of money
they put into Disneyland Paris again into the second park after
the problems they had. In fact Euro Disney SCA had to
restructure their incredible amount of debt in order to build
the second park. You can't expect a second park similar to the
quality of DLP, since the WDS only cost one fifth of the DLP
Park. All the money they will earn with the WDS they will put
back into the park for future attractions.
I hope you don't trash the park totally in your review and
that you give it a chance. Most people I talked to during the
preview really liked the park. Sure it might look a little
sterile, but the attractions are great! Especially Armageddon,
the Rock n' Roller coaster (which in my opinion is a lot better
then in Orlando) and the Moteurs Action show are all great
attractions. Also the Backlot Tour is as good as in Orlando.
When I count it there are more good attractions in the WDS then
in the Disney MGM Studios Park when it opened!
I sent Peter many long and detailed
replies, here are some of the highlights Ė
MousePlanet is not a "Disney fan
site", it is a travel site that provides independent
information about Disney related travel. We try to give a balanced
view rather than just 'rave' about anything that has the Disney
Disney has set a standard in Paris
with the original Disneyland Park. It is unfortunate that the
second park does not live up to the same standard of quality or
design. It will be very obvious to visitors of both parks that one
is infinitely better than the other, not just in content but also
As to R'n'R being better that MGM I
have to disagree totally. The ride track and launch is identical,
the lighting and effects in the ride are better than the flat
signs in MGM, but the theme around the Ride
and building / shop / etc are very poor. The story
line has also been totally removed.
The whole park just does not feel like
a Studio, it feels like a lot of industrial buildings spread far
too thinly. It is all too easy to say, "itís supposed to be
like this, itís a Studio", but that is just a feeble excuse
for cheapness. Disney / MGM and Universal are actually
working Studios (unlike WDS), but they do not do things on the
cheap. This is a theme park that guests pay to enter to be
entertained; it should therefore deliver the best experience
|To wrap up we have a few ideas
from Massimo Ė
I would like to
say a few things about the new Walt Disney Studios in Paris.
My name is Massimo and I am Italian.
First, let me say that I read your article about the studios
and share with you the same sadness and concern about the total
lack of imagination and magic in the new Disney parks (TDS not
included of course).
I don't like the new park, and I'm not looking forward to
going there. I worked for a year in Epcot and thoroughly visited
the whole of Disneyworld; my favourite park was the Disney-MGM
studios. That is to say that I know the original and the
European version looks totally empty and magic-less.
But I must say something that you probably should consider.
The European audience is a lot different from the American one,
and even though I find WDS empty, I think that most people will
not see the difference from the stunning beauty of Disneyland
Paris. During the first year of DLP I remember a lot of people
asking me if in the new park everybody was talking about there
was a BIG rollercoaster, and when I said no they always looked
at me like they were thinking: are you really going to spend a
lot of money just to walk in a fake environment with no
interesting and thrilling attractions?
Another example: the mall-look of the studios. Here roadside
malls are not as usual as in the US so, believe me, I watch the
studios and don't think of a mall but of all the images I saw of
the WB studios and such. I think that is in tune to the
European, more than a Hollywood Boulevard (which BTW I find
I am part of the Parksmania club, the first Italian club for
theme park lovers, and the surveys we conducted always said the
same thing: theming is not important, attractions are, at least
for the Italian audience, but I think it's almost the same for
the rest of Europe.
That's all I wanted to share with you. Thank you for having
read all this really terrible English... I can speak better than
Thank you again for your attention and let's all go to Tokyo
Disney Sea :-)
Great idea Massimo, Iím planning my
Tokyo trip now, look out for the reportÖÖ. coming soon.
Having thought about the park more and
taking on board the comments from MP readers I came up with a few
I know the Front Lot is very similar
to ďrealĒ studios, but this is not a ďrealĒ studio itís
a theme park. It has none of the impact, detail or flair that
Universal or Disney-MGM have. Itís easy to say it looks real,
but the reason I think it looks like it does is that itís
cheaper to do it this way rather than being creative and
I think that Studio One is nice but itís
really only a store and a fast food outlet. It is no replacement
for Main Street or the great street at Disney-MGM. Itís just not
big enough and gets very crowded during entertainment shows and at
opening and closing times. It is also the only really themed area
of the park, as outside the building there are no street sets,
nothing to make it feel like a real studio.
The other thing that bothered me about
this area is the quality. Things are not up to the standards you
find in other Disney parks, even though it is supposed to be a
studio that is no excuse for bad workmanship. Look at the
Hollywood area in Disneyís California Adventure; Walt Disney
Studios is not up to that standard by a long way.
Aladdin really upsets
me, itís in the wrong park, it is badly placed and you
get a great view of the rear of the backdrop from your $300
Disneyland Hotel rooms. It looks very cheap and is badly finished
in many areas. The queue is horrid, narrow and would not be out of
place in a fun fair (shown above). I know itís a studio so
things are not "fantasy" but things can be finished
better than bare zinc coated steel, cheap lights, and fibreglass
panels. The same can also be said of the queue area for the Tram
Tour, which has little cover for the bad Paris weather and nothing
to look at while you stand in line.
Animagique is a nice film but is not
the sort of thing you do every visit, if at all more than twice.
It has no emotion, excitement, surprise or repeat value.
I was disappointed with Armageddon; it
really does not live up to the pre-opening hype. There are so many
better effect shows in other parks. It does not take attractions
forward one bit. The screens are to small so you canít see
anything, itís very short and does not excite or provide any
tension. Think about Alien Encounter, Backdraft or Twister, itís
not as good as any of these. Plus they have only built one ďeffectĒ
room, meaning long queues.
As to the park not
being pretty, I think that is just an excuse for Disney to
not spend money. Both Universal Florida and MGM are very pretty
parks, and they are actually used as studios as well. There really
is no excuse to make this place as ugly as it is, other than lack
I donít like the vast open blank
spaces, no theme, no streets, no visual surprises, no water, no
kids play area, no full service restaurant, no "musical"
shows like Hunchback of Notre Dame or Beauty and the Beast, no
parade, no fireworks, no nightime entertainment, no..............
It goes on and on. The list of missing things is longer than the
actual attractions list.
Iím not saying that MousePlanet
readers should not visit or like the park, everyone has their own
views, I was just very disappointed as were the people in
California were when DCA opened.
I wonít be going to
the Walt Disney Studios on a regular basis, if I do it will
only be to ride RíníR and see the Stunt Show the rest I can
miss. Iím just happy that Disneyland is as great as ever, itís
a pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by, I canít
imagine this will ever be the case at Walt Disney Studios.
you everyone for writing in!
Ian Parkinson may be
Send your Parky in
Paris questions or comments to:
Keep in mind all
questions submitted to this column become property of this site. They may
be edited for length or style and in consideration of a family readership.
Questions may also be quoted on other parts of the site too.
Not all questions may
be responded to, but all will be read so I can have an idea of what you
all think out there.