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Walt Disney Studios Park Paris – Part 1 – Front Lot

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park


Disney has eleven theme parks around the world. I rank Tokyo DisneySea as my favorite and Disneyland Paris as my second favorite. I rank the Walt Disney Studios Park dead last. Visiting this park makes me long for Disney's California Adventure, which I rank at number ten.

The Walt Disney Studios Park was designed and constructed during the latter years of Michael Eisner's tenure as the head of the Walt Disney Company. This was during his “cheap” years and it shows. This park is soulless.

I often tell people that Tokyo DisneySea is so magnificent that you can pay your admittance fee, never go on one attraction, and you'll still get your money's worth. Just “being” at Tokyo DisneySea is worth the price of a ticket. On the other hand, if you pay your admittance fee for the Walt Disney Studios Park and go on every attraction, you may want a partial refund at the end of the day " or should I say half-day.

But of course, every Disney story needs to have a happy ending and I'm going to try to provide one here. I haven't been to the Walt Disney Studios Park in almost three and a half years. During that time, Bob Iger, the current CEO of the Walt Disney Company, is trying to fix this property (in the same way he's trying to fix Eisner's other fiasco, Disney's California Adventure). The company is investing money in both of these parks and trying to bring them up to Disney standards. My good friend TDLFAN has provided me with some pictures of the improvements made at the Walt Disney Studios Park during the last several years and things look promising.

That being said, I'm going to discuss what I experienced over three years ago, and what has changed and been improved upon during this time. I'm planning another trip to Paris in about a year and a half and I'm hoping that I can delete the opening paragraphs to this blog when I get home.


Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Entrance


The Walt Disney Studios Park is situated somewhat next to Disneyland Paris. It's about a ten minute walk from the main gates of one park to the other. The entrance to the Studio looks like the quintessential Hollywood movie lot of the 1930's and 40's. There is a large arch, typical of many of the early studios and a water tower, characteristic of the era. Disney was smart when designing this park, the Imagineers placed the Earful Tower near the entrance where it could easily be seen by all.


Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Entrance

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Entrance

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Entrance


Within the gates is a very pleasant courtyard. Shops and Guest Services can be found in the buildings that flank the square.


Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Entrance

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Entrance


Character Meet-&-Greets are common in the courtyard.

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Courtyard


In the center of the courtyard are a fountain and a statue of Mickey as the Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Sorcerer's Appretice

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Sorcerer's Appretice


When I visited this park in September 2005, Disney's animated movie “Chicken Little” was opening soon and they were promoting it heavily. The large building (covered by Chicken Little) is called Studio 1. It's actually an attractive structure if you could see more of it.


Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park


Studio 1 is the equivalent to Hollywood Blvd. at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. Inside this massive soundstage is a movie set that is supposed to represents a quintessential “Hollywood” street during the golden age of film. To enter the park, all guests must walk down this thoroughfare. But what separates this street from its Florida cousin is that all of the buildings here are facades. Nothing is real.


Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Studio 1

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Studio 1

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Studio 1

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Studio 1

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Studio 1


Behind these facades are a number of shops and a large counter service restaurant, the Restaurant en Coulisse. This eatery serves hamburgers, pizza, and salads. Note, there are no full service restaurants anywhere at the Walt Disney Studios Park.


Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studios Park Restaurant en Coulisse

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studios Park Restaurant en Coulisse


Studio 1 opens about a half an hour before the rest of the park. This gives guests time to check out the shops and grab a quick bite before starting the day. At opening, grand announcements are made in French and English welcoming everyone to a day of excitement. All the while, search lights crisscross the street and buildings. When the doors finally open at the far end of the soundstage, guests stream out en mass. Outside, cast members applaud everyone as if they had just completed acting in a marvelous scene.


Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Studio 1

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Studio 1


Standing outside the Studio 1 soundstage is the Partners Statue.


Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studio Park Studio 1 Partners Statue


Here's my overall impression of Studio 1. It has its charms. I like that it's perpetually nighttime within the soundstage. This gives the area a nice atmosphere and the many animated neon lights are a lot of fun. And it does resemble an actual movie set " which is what Hollywood is all about. Also, on a cold Parisian winter day, I'm sure it's nice to have a place to escape from the weather.

But after seeing Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards at Disney's Hollywood Studios, I can't help but think that the Imagineers were given a directive to build “Hollywood” as cheaply as possible. They did a decent job, but it just doesn't compare to its Florida cousin.

In my next blog, I'll discuss Production Courtyard.

The previous post in this blog was Disneyland Paris - Discoveryland – Part 4 – Star Tours, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, and Autopia.

The next post in this blog is Disney Eggs.

Comments (7)

I agree completely with you about DisneySea, it is beyond amazing, and sadly, I also completely agree with you about the Studios in Paris, we visited there in summer 2006, I think it just cost an extra 6 euro to get into the Studios, and even at that we felt a bit ripped off, it was just like a big building site with a half completed Tower of Terror in the centre!

We're going back to Disneyland Paris in 2 weeks, I'm giving the Studios a second chance, and fingers crossed it'll be better now because I don't like to think of there being a Disney park out there that I don't like (I haven't been to California Adventure yet) :)

Loving all your Paris posts, it's really making our holiday seem very close :)

Marnix:

To bad you haven't visited recently as the park had some major make-overs the last 3 years, almost doubling the number of rides and of course the opening of the Tower of Terror. We go to DLRP about 5 times a year and have seen all the great thing coming, so please don't give people a too bad impression about a park that is strongly growing.

David Cran:

The first time I went to these studios they were souless like you said, and so cheap compared to the park, HOWEVER I do love Rock n Roller Coaster, Crush's Coaster and although I haven't been on it yet (5th june this year!!) I have been told the tower of terror is particularly good!

Also, there is talk of permission to build a Toy Story land behind the entrance to the studio tram tour - see screamcape for more details.

Nicki Selley:

We visited WDSPP in March 2007.....soooooooooo not impressed! What a huge disappointment. Tower of Terror was still being built and a lot of the area to the right as you exit Studio 1 was boarded up. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster was cool but not a patch on Florida ( not as smooth, gave us a crick in the neck, also seemed much shorter). The rest of the park just came across as a bunch of aircraft hangers, we felt a little cheated and very unDisney! Lets hope things can only get better, as mentioned previously, it would be a shame to have such adverse feelings toward a Disney park.

Still loving the blogs Jack, thanks again.
Nicki Selley UK

Jamie Kelly:

Oh my goodness! It's the exact replica of the Florida State Fair. No wonder you don't like it.

Jack's Comment:

Your comment made me laugh.

I've never been to the Florida State Fair, but I've been to the California State Fair and a number of county fairs. Not one has ever impressed me.

I wouldn't put the Walt Disney Studios Park in "fair" category. It is better than that. But it needs some improvement -- which it's getting. Keep reading.

Ruth Woodhouse:

I am interested to know in what order you rank the rest of the Disney Parks. Where do the Florida parks come in your ranking?

Jack's Answer:

My list of favorite parks goes like this:

Tokyo DisneySea
Disneyland Paris
Epcot
Disneyland
Tokyo Disneyland
Magic Kingdom
Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Hong Kong Disneyland
California Adventure
Walt Disney Studios Park

Dagobert:

You are right that WDS is a very small park, but during the last three years they made some very good improvements, like Tower of Terror or Toon Studios, to the park.

Since 2006 I have been to DLRP every year and during my first visit I didn't like the park, but it gets better and better. In 2008 I have also been to WDW and I have to say that some rides like ToT, RnRC or the Studio Tram tour, are better than their DHS counterparts. Nevertheless DHS-Park has a nicer theming.

Someone said that the WDS RnRC seems to be shorter than in Florida. I think that both rides have the same track layout. My opinion is, that the Paris version of RnRC is a little bit faster than the one in Florida.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 2, 2009 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Disneyland Paris - Discoveryland – Part 4 – Star Tours, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, and Autopia.

The next post in this blog is Disney Eggs.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.