“ Address: Disneyland Park Paris / Marne-la-Vallee / France / Tel: +33 (0) 1 60 30 40 50 „
(Review of The Walt Disney Studios - NOT the Disneyland Park or the Disneyland Resort)
The Disneyland Resort in Paris first opened in 1992 (under the name Euro Disney) and consisted of the Disneyland Park, Disney Village (full of shops and restaurants) and 7 Disney hotels. In 2002 a second park opened up called the Walt Disney Studios Park.
The Walt Disney Studios is situated next door to the Disneyland Park, you can't miss it. It takes a matter of minutes to walk between the two parks. If you are staying at one of the Disney hotels you can catch the free and reliable shuttle service which will drop you off right outside both of the parks. Look out for the Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror and the 'Earfel Tower'!
Unlike the Disneyland Park the Studios has one clear theme - cinema and television. It largely focuses on 'behind the scenes' - think film sets, acting, props, stunts and special effects. The park is split into different 'studios' which include Front Lot, Toon Studio,Toy Story Playland, Production Courtyard and Backlot (although in my opinion this isn't particularly apparent when you are inside the park).
**Rides & Attractions**
Some of my favourite rides and attractions include...
Crush's Coaster - This is a (mostly) indoor rollercoaster ride that is themed around Finding Nemo. It doesn't go upside down or have any inversions but does require a certain amount of upper body strength due to the seat restraints - for this reason the height restriction is a little higher than a few of the other rides (a little disappointing for tiny ones, especially as it's Nemo themed). You ride inside a turtle shell and get to see all your favourite Nemo characters before being whisked off at high speeds through the East Australian Current! Queues can get long and there is no Fastpass for this ride so it's best to ride this as soon as the park opens if possible.
Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror - This eerie looking ride is definitely another favourite of mine. The ride takes place inside a spooky old hotel and the scene is set inside a pre-show in the hotel library. You are then taken through to the elevators(s) where you sit in rows and are strapped in by just a seatbelt. The elevator travels up around 170 feet, you see the ghosts of former hotel guests and then the elevator DROPS! Not once, but three times! At one point the doors at the top of the hotel open and you can see right over the Disneyland Resort. This accelerated freefall ride will have your stomach in your mouth. The Tower Of Terror can also be Fasspassed.
Stitch Live - This is an interactive show that uses real-time animation and digital puppetry. It's a fun and clever attraction in which guests can actually talk and communicate with Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch). It is shown in both English and French. I've written a whole separate review on the attraction if you would like to know more.
Studio Tram Tour: Behind The Magic - This tram ride takes you past a number of genuine movie props (eg. statues, cars, planes) and film sets from such movies as Armageddon, Pearl Harbour, 101 Dalmations, Dinotopia and Reign Of Fire. Most peoples favourite part of the Studio Tram Tour, including mine, is called Catastrophe Canyon where you get to experience a simulated earthquake (which is followed by fire and LOTS of water!).
Rock 'n' Rollercoaster - If you're a fan of Aerosmith and rollercoasters then you're in for a treat! This is an indoor dark rollercoaster ride (with lots of neon and strobe lighting) full of twists, turns and inversions. The ride accelerates from 0-60mph in just 2.8 seconds and plays Aerosmith songs from your head rest throughout the duration of the ride. This ride can be Fasspassed.
Animagique - This is an indoor show which is set in total darkness. It features Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, aswell as characters from The Little Mermaid, Dumbo, The Lion King and Jungle Book. It has a great story, is extremely entertaining and very clever. I won't say anymore as I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone.
Moteurs... Action! Stunt Show Spectacular - This is one of the best stunt shows I have seen and seats hundreds of people so you're always bound to get a seat. The whole show is filmed live and played back to the audience to show how stunts and special effects transfer from real life onto the big screen. Expect cars, motorbikes, guns, fire and lots of crazy stunts! The REAL Lightning Mcqueen even makes an appearance!
Armageddon - Les Effets Speciaux - The concept of this attraction is to demonstrate set effects and special effects used in movies. After a rather drawn out pre-show you are led into a room which is a reproduction of a space station from the film Armageddon and invited to take part in shooting a new scene for the film in which a giant meteor is heading towards your space station. I don't want to give too much away but expect lots of steam, fire, water, wind and other surprises.
Other rides and attractions include Art Of Disney Animation (see and experience how the Disney classics were made), Cars Race Rally (a spinning ride themed on the Disney-Pixar film, Cars), Flying Carpets Over Agrabah (ride your very own Aladdin themed magic carpet where you can fly and tilt the carpet yourself), Toy Story Parachute Drop (where you sit down inside a parachute and are elevated high above the ground before slowly being dropped back down. Based on the Toy Story soilders), Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin (where you spin around inside Slinky Dog from Toy Story. My young daughter really enjoyed this one), RC Racer (ride inside RC Racer from Toy Story up and down a half pipe. Quite fun and a little bit scary, queues can be long though) Cinemagique (a clever show which is half cinema screen and half real life) and Playhouse Disney Live On Stage (a live show featuring realistic looking puppets of Playhouse Disney favourites from such shows as My Friends Tigger and Pooh, Handy Manny and Little Einsteins. Expect surprises such as bubbles and 'leaves' falling from the ceiling! Very entertaining for little ones).
Places to eat include Blockbuster Cafe (High Schoool Musical and Pirates Of The Carribean themed) situated in the Backlot which is a fast food counter service restaurant, Cafe Des Cascadeurs situated in the Backlot (tucked away) which is themed like a 50s American diner, Restaurant En Coulisse (Hollywood movie themed) situated in the Front Lot which is a fast food counter service restaurant, La Terrasse which is a fast food restaurant situated in the Production Courtyard and Restaurant Des Stars which is a moviestar themed buffet restaurant situated in the Production Courtyard.
The Walt Disney Studios is a great day out. It is a lot smaller than the Disneyland Park which means it's easier on the feet and you can usually see and do everything in one day (which is virtually impossible at the Disneyland Park). I've also found that the Studios tend to have slightly smaller queues than the Disneyland Park, though I've never visited on a weekend or in school holidays which may be another story all together!
Despite being smaller than the Disneyland Park I couldn't really describe it as 'small' as the Walt Disney Studios covers a large area and is home to plenty of rides and attractions. I think it would be nice to see the Studios extended further in the future to rival the size of the Disneyland Park.
I like the fact the Walt Disney Studios is dedicated to cinema and television as not only is this a fun and interesting theme, but it's where Disney all started so it makes perfect sense. The Studios is very visually pleasing with movie set backdrops and props at every turn. There are also quite a few attractions that tie in with the cinema and television theme (Eg. Studio Tram Tour, Armageddon, Stunt Show Spectacular, Cinemagique) but isn't overdone and has plenty of somewhat unrelated and exciting attractions.
The Disney Studios is very similar to Disney's Hollywood Studios (formally MGM) in Florida - it has the same theme and some of the same or similar attractions (The Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror, Studio Tram Tour, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster for example), except the Walt Disney Studios is slightly smaller and has a few different attractions. There a quite a few unique attractions in the Walt Disney Studios which include Armageddon, Cinemagique, Animagique, Stitch Live, Crush's Coaster, Cars Race Rally and all of the rides inside the Toy Story Playland (although these are currently being built at Disneyland Tokyo).
A few years ago I would have said this was much more of a grown up park compared to the Disneyland Park but since the Toy Story Playland was opened in 2010 the Studios has become quite Disney-Pixar based and is home to a lot of Disney-Pixar attractions - Finding Nemo, Cars, Toy Story, Monsters Inc (aswell as a Ratatouille ride which is apparently due to be opened in 2012) - which now also makes the Studios a big hit among children aswell as adults.
I highly recommend the Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster to thrill seekers (and the RC Racer to some extent). I also recommend Crush's Coaster to anybody that is able to ride it - it's an unexpected thrill! Stitch Live and Animagique are a must do if you have children (and also Playhouse Disney if you have children under around 5 years). The Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, Cars Rally Race, Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin and Toy Soilder Parachute Drop are all good fun for children and families. The Studio Tram Tour and Stunt Show Spectacular are entertaining and exciting for everybody young and old. Armageddon is also good fun (although may be a little scary for tiny ones - however my 4 year old enjoyed it!) and Cinemagique is bound to impress most adults. The Stars 'n' Cars parade is also worth checking out.
My tip for Stars 'n' Cars is arrive about 30 minutes before it starts and wait infront of the stage outside Stitch Live/Playhouse Disney. Unlike most parades Stars 'n' Cars goes into a show - if you want to see the show you need to get infront of the stage but if you want to meet lots of characters then you should get around the back of the stage. I personally prefer the Once Upon A Dream parade in the Disneyland Park but enjoyed seeing the impressive character themed cars (complete with characters riding in them!) in the Stars 'n' Cars parade. More importantly my daughter loved it.
Characters can always be found wondering around the Studios and at certain meet 'n' greet points. Character meet 'n' greet times can be found on a timetable which you can pick up at the entrance of the park. When we last visited we met Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Stitch, Buzz Lightyear, Sully (Monsters Inc), Smee (Peter Pan), Gaston (Beauty and The Beast), Peter Pan and Wendy, Mary Poppins, Snow White's Stepmother, Cruella Deville and Mulan.
There are plenty of great photo opportunities - some of my favourite photo spots include the Mickey Fantasia water feature inbetween the front gates and the Front Lot, the statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse holding hands (with the Hollywood sign behind them) right outside the the Front Lot, the life size replica of Mike (from Monsters Inc) and Boo's door in the Toon Studio and the large statue of Rex (from Toy Story) in the Toy Story Playland. Not forgetting photos with the characters and the 'Earful Tower' - the iconic Mickey Mouse shaped water tower.
There are plenty of places to grab a bite in the Studios - none of them are particularly spectacular or cheap, and you may find yourself having to queue. However if you are just looking to fill a hole in your belly then they are perfectly suitable. I visited the Restaurant En Coulisse which is a counter service fast food restaurant situated inside Disney Studio 1 (in the Front Lot) - from the outside the restaurant looks like a number of different restaurants but when you go inside you will see there is one large counter area and the rest is a seating area. I got a meal which consisted of a pizza, salad, yoghurt and drink for around 12.99 euros, which for Disney prices isn't too bad (quite tasty too!). There are also plenty of kiosks dotted around to grab a quick snack or a naughty treat. Vegetarian options are pretty limited - I found it was either pizza or salad in both of the Disney parks. It would be nice if the Studios introduced a table service restaurant and/or a character dining restaurant at some point.
Surprisingly there is only one main shop in the Walt Disney Studios which can be found inside Disney Studio 1 - it sells all of the usual Disney merch and even some exclusive Walt Disney Studios bits. Again nothing comes cheap, but unfortunately it's to be expected at the Disneyland Resort. There is also a shop at the exit of the Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror and a few shopping wagons scattered around the park.
If you are staying at the Disneyland Resort tickets to both Disney parks should be included in your package. Otherwise 1 day tickets to the Walt Disney Studios cost a whopping 51 euros for adults and 45 euros for children (3-11 years).
Based on a 2010/2011 visit.
Walt Disney Studios Park is the second park to open in Paris (in 2002) and sits next to the original park in Marne Le Valley, just outside Paris. It offers something completely different to the traditional park whilst maintaining the Disney magic that makes it so popular. Focussing more on the production side of things, it is much more 'mature' than its neighbour whose focus is on bright colours and magical characters.
This park is much smaller than the other and is easy to get around in a few hours, aside from queuing in the peak season, I can't imagine that there is enough to fill more than a couple of days at the very most. In fact we've only ever been for one day at a time and have found that it's enough time to visit this park and then go to the other for the second half of the day.
You can get maps from the entrance that show where all the attractions are although it is pretty easy to navigate using just the signs and attractions themselves, which are all big enough to see from a distance. It is worth getting a guide though because it tells you practical things like where to eat and where the toilets are as well as parade times and routes.
Although there is a severe lack of Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse over in Walt Disney Studios Park, there are plenty of rides and attractions that make it worth a visit and there are still plenty of familiar characters to keep children entertained. There are plenty of attractions to suit everybody, some of my favourites and the most popular are:
1. The Back Lot Tour
This is definitely worth going on as it takes you around the back of the park to various sets. Unlike its counterparts in Florida and California, the sets here are all artificial (the ones in the USA are generally actual sets from film and TV), but that doesn't make them any less impressive or entertaining. At the moment there are a set of actual cars from various films including Back To The Future and 101 Dalmatians. The best thing about the Back Lot Tour is Catastrophe Canyon, which is a special effects area that demonstrates just what can be done to make a disaster film scene - beware though, you will get wet!
2. Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror
One for the high octane thrill seekers, this ride is based on the TV series and involves you being in a lift that plummets down almost 200 feet pretty quickly. It is well worth a go if you like this kind of thing and is a great example of how much thought is given to presentation of the rides at Disneyland.
3. Toy Story Playland
This is very new and is more for the younger visitors, but with plenty of rides based on the popular film to keep you entertained. The area is fantastically presented and fronted by a giant Buzz Lightyear statue. The Toy Soldier Parachute ride is particularly good as you are lifted up and down under a parachute, whilst the Slinky Dog ride is a tame roller coaster suitable for young children.
The park opens from ten until seven (six in winter) and it closes two hours before the other park. Once it closes you are able to use your ticket to get into the other park for the last couple of hours. The tickets are not cheap - £50 on the gate for adults and £40 for children, although you can get cheaper tickets pretty much anywhere and everywhere, including various hotels in Paris itself. Its worth getting a two park pass (which is advertised on the website for the same prices as above if you book in advance) for more flexibility.
The Fast Pass system operates on some of the most popular rides and attractions, whereby you can go and get a ticket and return later on to skip the queues and this is definitely worth doing as it helps you to plan your day and stops you from spending hours in long queues.
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants, all offering the standard theme park menu of burgers, pizzas and chips as well as lots of little stalls where you can buy snacks like ice creams and popcorn. All of this comes at the over inflated prices that you'd expect, but the food isn't too bad. There is also an abundance of shops selling every type of souvenir you could ever want or need and then some.
===Is It Worth A Visit?===
I've been to Disney dozens of times and to this park twice. I think it is well worth a visit because it does offer something a bit different from what you imagine when you think of Disney and some of the best rides (particularly the Tower of Terror) are here. Having said that I don't think it's worth paying £50 and I would absolutely always get a two park pass to allow you into both parks, because there isn't enough, in my opinion, to fill more than a few hours, unless you want to go on absolutely everything.
Walt studios in Disneyland Paris is the smaller of the two parks located at Disneyland resort Paris. It is the one located to the left hand side when you are stood facing both the parks. Entrance to this park is through the archway with the park sign on and then through the turnstiles where you swipe your park ticket to gain entry. This takes you to a open area which is where you normally need to wait in the mornings if you are there before opening time for them to open the doors that lead inside - this is also where Disney characters stand in the mornings doing pictures and signings which is a great way to entertain guests before they are allowed entry!
To enter in to the main park you then go through first into the inside section where you can get some food and also buy Disney goodies from the shops. This are has lots of film gear and the ceiling is lit up with stars. Once you pass through here you are properly in the park where all the attractions are.
What is this park like?
This park is all geared towards the film and TV industry so attractions are either based on things we have seen on TV, cartoons, films or even how they make the stuff that we see on TV such as stunts, cinematography and other related bits and bobs. Tied in with of course the Disney theme this makes this park the one that is definitely geared more towards the older visitors compared to the Disneyland Park which is geared more towards the younger visitor.
What attractions are actually in there?
The Walt Studios is the place where you can watch the car and motorbike stunt show and try out the Aerosmith ride Rock and rollercoaster which is the same as the one in Florida and also the Hollywood tower of terror ride again which they have in Florida.
There is also other things to do such as see how they produce a cartoon movie and another attraction well worth seeing is the 'Cinemagique'. Both myself and my husband thought this attraction was very well done and not at all what we had been expecting. It is a theatre based show and shows clips of various films and cartoons from modern to classics and there is a few added elements thrown in that make the show delightful! If you look at this attraction on the map, it would be easy to dismiss as one you could skip but, please don't as it really is good.
Also the park now have a few new attractions such as Crush's coaster a more child friendly ride, Race rally based on Cars and the newest attraction due to open any day now is the Toy Story Play land which looks awesome for both children and adults alike who will love this area if they are a fan of the films. Mainly geared at children it features a few rides and attention to detail on the scenery that will awe!
Food and drink:
There are many places to grab a bit to eat in the park but, as always food is not cheap in the parks so do be aware that if you are eating in here then you will need to pay a bigger price tag than you would if you come out of the parks and the resort itself. A lot of the eateries in this park are fast food ones as the majority of the sit down restaurants are in the Disney Village area located outside of the park and across from the main gates. As it only takes a few minutes to walk to here it is better to go across to here for lunch as then you can relax those tired feet for a while!
How long to take it all in?
As this park is smaller you can just about see all the attractions in one day depending on if you get there first thing in the morning when it opens and also depending on what time of year and what day you visit. My trip was in early December and I visited this park on a Wednesday so it was fairly quiet and queues were not that big at all. However if you go weekend at any time of the year crowd levels are at least double. For major school, double this again and that gives you a base idea of how busy it can be!
I had my tickets included already as I had purchased a whole package staying on site so my tickets were included in this for both Walt studios and the Disneyland park but, you can buy tickets for one day entry if you are only visiting for the day and are also not staying in one of the resort hotels. An adult tickets starts at around £48 and for a child under the age of 12 it starts at around £41. This is just for one day. You can also buy what is know as 'hopper tickets' instead though which allow you to hop betewwn the two parks as many times as you like across how ever many days you purchase it for. The most popluar are two and three day hoppers which start at around £100 per adult and that allows you entry to both parks for two full days. A child on the two day hopper ticket is around £90. Even though it is more expensive than just buying two single one day entry tickets these tickets allow you to come and go as much as you like and with the one day you can only go in the one park you choose to visit where as theses tickets simply last two full days and you can switch parks as many times as you like. Ideal if you are wanting to time the days to coincide with things like parades or shows that are going on across both parks for example.
The park is easily accessible from any of the resort hotels and if you are staying in one of the local hotels they have buses that run every 15 minutes or so to take guests back and forth so it is very easy to reach. If not and you are coming from further there are plenty of signs giving directions along the way but, the best bet is to get an up to date map or sat nav and follow that!
I really enjoyed my visit to Walt Studios - we actually visited twice during our stay at the resort as we wanted to do a couple of the attractions again. It is definitely my favourite of the two parks as it has more adult attractions and I like that many of the things to see in this park are interactive or as a show. I highly recommend a visit to this park.