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Oo la la! A look at Disney in France
Walt Disney Studios Paris - A photo essay and review by Ian Parkinson

Television Production Tour at Walt Disney Television Studios

Walt Disney Studios Paris

This was not open on the day of the preview. The park guide says, "Smile, you're on camera. It's the wonderful world of TV and your invited to witness a live studio production."

Walt Disney Studios Paris


Cinemagique is housed is a large theatre. It has great seating with a steep rake, making sure everyone in the audience has a great view of the screen. Note that I said screen here rather than stage, even though this attraction does have a live element.

Basically, Cinemagique is a film. The idea of the attraction is that a "member of the audience" (actually a cast member) accidentally gets pulled into the movies, and we get to experience it with him.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

While the idea is good and the actual film editing is excellent, the theatre effects are minimal. Apart from a couple squirts of water during a rainstorm, and the sinking of the Titanic, the audience does not get to experience anything at all. What little effects there are happen either on the front of the stage or to the screen itself.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

It's a nice film staring Martin Short, with some clever editing and use of some wonderful clips from classic movies. I doubt however, that it will have much repeat value. It is not in 3-D like Honey I Shrunk The Audience or Jim Henson's Muppet*Vision 3D, and it does not have the movement and large screen like Soarin' over California. Instead, Cinemagique is basically a collection of film clips with a small number of theatre effects.

Odds and Ends

By the way, visitors should know that the FastPass service will only be available on three attractions. They are the Magic Carpets, Rock Ďní Roller Coaster and the Tram Tour, the other attractions do not have FastPass capability and it doesnít look like it will be added in the future.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

As far as entertainment goes things are not a great deal better. You do get some nice musical groups performing in Studio One through the day, and characters make appearances here and there around the park (see photo below).

To see a 2.8 mg QuickTime video clip of some of the entertainers, CLICK HERE. (You will need a QuickTime viewer from Apple installed on your computer to see it.)

What you donít get is a parade of any sort, we have heard one may appear for the summer but there's no sign at the moment. There is also no night time entertainment of any kind (parade or fireworks) and I donít think we will see either for a long time.

In Conclusion

That was it, as far as attractions go. But what about the overall feel of the park? Is it nice to be in? Does it have a cozy or open feeling?

Walt Disney Studios Paris

Walt Disney Studios Paris

Well, I did not like the feel of the park. It seems to have no heart or core, there are large open spaces between what are basically large industrial- style attractions buildings.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

I know it's winter at the moment. In a few years' time things will become much greener, and we will of course have the Tower of Terror filling the skyline. But somehow it does not feel right. It feels like a big park, but there is very little to do here, and not a lot to look at either.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

I wanted to see a visual feast, a surprise around every corner and a level of detail I have only found across the way in Disneyland. What we have is not a second-rate park. At the moment it's a third-rate park, and I think Disney knows this.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

To make things a little better visitors will be allowed to buy a park hopper pass from day one (unlike DCA). Also, if you buy a single-day ticket to the Studios park, you can also enter the Disneyland park on the same day for its last four hours of operation. This gives you an indication of how they feel they will need to keep the guests happy.

I hope I have not been too negative about Walt Disney Studios Paris. As a shareholder and regular visitor, I do want it to succeed and become a great park. Unfortunately at this moment, it has a long way to go. Maybe when it celebrates its tenth anniversary, we can say it's a park Walt would have been proud to give his name to.

Editor's Note:

First of all, a special thanks to Ian Parkinson for all his hard work on this photo tour and review. It's not always easy putting together a major online project like this, but his preparation and care in assembling all the materials you see here help make our jobs here at MousePlanet a lot easier.  I still marvel at how we can do projects of this kind of scope - all thanks to the net.

Getting back to our subject here, to say I was stunned about the almost breathtaking lack of quality in this new park is an understatement. After seeing recently what the company is capable of with Tokyo DisneySea (where the Oriental Land Company as a Disney client demanded and paid for the best project possible) it becomes rather clear that the current Disney management has selective amnesia as to what can make their theme park experience so unique.

I am currently planning a trip to Paris - and had already set aside a day at Disneyland there to take in that park for myself. With all else there is to see and do in France I still wanted to see this one park, in particular because of Ian's series of wonderful photo tours showing the elaborate detail and care that was put into the creation of this particular Magic Kingdom.

Walt Disney Studios Paris

While making those plans, I'd left an additional day free on my schedule to possibly also take in the new Studios park. But thanks to Paul Pressler's and Michael Eisner's rather stunted view of what "value" and "quality" is when it comes to the Disney brand, I can now happily plan that free day back in Paris. So there will be no extra day of purchasing meals, gifts or staying at one of the Disney hotels for me - as the train will quickly whisk me back to Paris that same day.

And I suspect that once the word of mouth spreads that it won't just be me who will make that same decision. Like California Adventure here in Anaheim, the new Studios park will most likely open to poor reviews and sparse crowds, which will then lead to massive discounting and endless excuses from the executives as to why the numbers are so dismal. You'd think after Animal Kingdom's birth by fire, they'd learned a lesson.

I do have to wonder if the fourth "Disney Lite" park (now underway in Hong Kong) will finally be the one to do it? You know, another dismal opening like this could finally wake the stockholders and board up to the problems. But come to think of it, Lord, the way things are going at Disney lately, a disastrous Hong Kong opening could yet again get Pressler promoted!

- Al Lutz


Ian Parkinson may be reached at ian@mouseplanet.com


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