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April 24, 2009

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris - Part 8 - Toon Studio – Flying Carpets Over Agrabah, Cars Race Rally, and Crush's Coaster

Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Logo


Les Tapis Volants - Flying Carpets Over Agrabah


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Flying Carpets Over Agrabah


For those of you familiar with the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, "Flying Carpets Over Agrabah" is the exact same attraction as "The Magic Carpets of Aladdin" in Adventureland. Sixteen flying carpets circle and soar around an ornate structure and the Genie's lamp. However in Paris, the attraction is part of an elaborate movie set rather than an event outside the marketplace of Agrabah.

A large backdrop encircles almost half of the ride. Painted on its surface are various scenes from the movie, Aladdin.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Flying Carpets Over Agrabah


To the side of the attraction we can find Director Genie, megaphone in hand, watching over his actors. Before the carpets take flight, he yells "Action!" and the "movie" begins.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Flying Carpets Over Agrabah


One nice feature that "Flying Carpets Over Agrabah" has over its Florida counterpart is a viewing stand on the second floor. This allows parents to get close-up photos of their little pilots as they fly by.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Flying Carpets Over Agrabah


Each carpet holds four guests, two in the front seat and two in the back. The front seat has a control that regulates the carpet's height and the back seat controls its pitch. The adventure last approximately two minutes.

This ride is intended for children, but its fun for everyone.

The next two attractions are new since my last visit. The pictures were provided by my friend TDLFAN.

Cars Race Rally


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Cars Race Rally


Welcome to Radiator Springs!


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Cars Race Rally


Walk down Route 66 and you'll see some of your favorite stores from the Disney/Pixar movie "Cars." You can stroll by Flo's V8 Café, Luigi's, Ramone's, Doc Hudson's, and Tow Mater's. These buildings house the queue for "Cars Race Rally." While in line you can enjoy a number of props such as street signs, an old gas pump, a map of Radiator Springs, and a lot of other gas station paraphernalia.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Cars Race Rally

Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Cars Race Rally


The ride itself is reminiscent of the Tea Cups. You board four-passenger cars that spin and turn. But instead of being on a large turntable, here your cars ride on a figure-eight and they nearly collide with one another as they cross over from one circle to the other. Country music plays and driving advice is dispensed by Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater as you race in the desert landscape.


Toon%20Studios%2035.jpg

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Although I have not seen this attraction in person, I have seen videos of Cars Race Rally and it is visually appealing to watch.


Crush's Coaster


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Crush's Coaster


The exterior of Crush's Coaster is reminiscent of a Wyland sculpture and painting. First we see a statue of Crush enjoying himself in the sun and in the background, Soundstage 5 is painted with a large mural depicting creatures of the sea.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Crush's Coaster

Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Crush's Coaster


The boarding for Crush's Coaster takes place at Angel's Cove, a Sydney fishing pier. The area is rustic and you can almost believe the ocean is nearby. The selfish Seagulls are perched nearby squawking "Mine, mine, mine."


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Crush's Coasterpg

Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Crush's Coaster


Crush's Coaster is sort of a cross between "Primeval Whirl" at Disney's Animal Kingdom, "The Seas with Nemo and Friends" at Epcot, and "Space Mountain" at the Magic Kingdom. Four guests ride in a turtle shell, two facing forward and two backwards. The seats are tight so larger folks might want to request a seat to themselves.

As soon as your shell leaves the pier, you enter a dark tunnel and you travel up a small incline. As you descend the hill, you emerge outside for a short moment before reentering the building.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Crush's Coaster


Your vehicle slows slightly and a number of sights come into view. You're surrounded by a coral reef and you see Nemo and Squirt playing in the water. You might also encounter an angry Angler Fish who is hungry for a bite. Another turn and you see a number of jellyfish bobbing up and down. A short while later you enter a sunken submarine and ascend a second, larger hill. While traveling upwards you see Bruce and some of his shark friends hungrily peeking out at you.

At the top of the hill you enter the EAC (East Australian Current). With the exception of bubbles being projected everywhere, it's very dark. At this point, the coaster portion of your voyage begins, as does the spinning of your turtle shell. With each dip and bank and rise and fall you turtle shell spins accordingly as you travel through the EAC.

The ride is approximately two and a half minutes in length. It reaches a speed of 37MPH and the spinning can be intense for some. If you're okay on "Primeval Whirl" and the "Tea Cups," you should be okay on Crush's Coaster, otherwise, you might want to think twice before riding.

Toon Studio offers a great photo op. Here you can stand in front of a façade of ToonTown. Occasionally a character or two might show up.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio


Well, that's it for my description of the Walt Disney Studios Park. I'll be writing one more blog to sum everything up.

April 21, 2009

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris - Toon Studio – Part 7 - Art of Disney Animation & Animagique

Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Logo


When the Walt Disney Studios Park opened in 2002, Toon Studio was known as Animation Courtyard. The area was uninspired and building exteriors lacked magic. In January 2005, Disney announced that Animation Courtyard would receive a makeover and expand. In June 2007 the renovations were complete and the name was changed to Toon Studio. The area is now much more fanciful and it's a pleasant environment in which to spend time.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio


One of the original attractions in Toon Studio is the Art of Disney Animation, which I'll discuss in more detail in a moment.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Animation Building


The building has been painted blue since I visited in 2005 to fit in better with its new surroundings. Also, the façade of a Hollywood Boulevard structure is now adjacent to its left side. The "Animation" building now seems to be part of a greater whole rather than just a stand alone structure. My friend TDLFAN provided me with the picture below.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Animation Building


Surrounding the Sorcerer's Hat are 12 bronze statues of Disney characters.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Animation Building

Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Animation Building

Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Animation Building


The "Art of Disney Animation" tour begins in a pleasant room full of unique exhibits and Disney art. Here you can explore the history of animation from the Magic Lantern to one of Disney's multi-plane cameras.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Art of Disney Animation


In the center of the room is a zoetrope. A zoetrope is a device that creates an illusion of movement from a quick succession of still pictures. Here we see Dumbo take flight.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Art of Disney Animation


An abundance of Disney art is also on display.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Art of Disney Animation

Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Art of Disney Animation

Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Art of Disney Animation


Before the actual tour begins, you're invited to watch a short video of Walt Disney paying tribute to the European pioneers of animation. Then you move into a theater reminiscent of a Hollywood studio screening room. Here you watch an array of clips from Disney's wonderful library of animation. You'll cry and you'll laugh. You'll cheer and you'll boo. All of your emotions will be brought into play. This film is similar to the one shown on the old animation tour at the Disney/MGM Studios in Florida.

The next stop is "Drawn To Animation." In this theater, Mushu, the little dragon from Mulan, and your human host explain how characters are developed and chosen to be in a Disney animated film. This is the same show as seen on "The Magic of Disney Animation" tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Art of Disney Animation


The final leg of this attraction is also similar to the Disney World animation tour. You enter a large room filled with various "stations" where you can play and explore. You can give Ursula your voice at the "Speak for Yourself" kiosk. "Colourful Characters" lets you paint with an electronic brush. And "Sound Tracks" lets you add your own sound effects to a Disney scene.

But the best part (just like at Florida) is the "Animation Academy." Here an animator will walk you through the process of drawing Mickey Mouse or some other Disney character.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Art of Disney Animation


Animagique


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Animagique


Animagique is presented multiple times a day in a 1,100 seat theater. The building is a copy of the CinéMagique Theater found in Production Courtyard; however the Animagique Theater has been painted blue since my last visit. The show is 25 minutes in length and a schedule is posted on a marquee out front.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Animagique


The queue is rather unremarkable.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Animagique


In an odd way, the story of Animagique is the same as Mickey's Philharmagic, except it uses real characters and puppets rather than animation. The show starts with Mickey and Donald onstage, each at their own easels. Some sort of contest is taking place to see who is the better artist. I'm sure I don't have to tell you who wins. At the end of the competition, Mickey leaves the stage.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Animagique


A frustrated Donald walks around in a huff and eventually finds Mickey's magic key to the vault located behind him. He unlocks the door to reveal hundreds of reels of film from Disney's animated classics. A moment later, some of the characters come to life. First we have the pink elephants from Dumbo. They dance out onto the stage and surround Donald as the haunting "Pink Elephants on Parade" is played. Black lights are used and their florescent colors come alive.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Animagique


This routine is followed with the characters from Jungle book, Little Mermaid, and finally The Lion King. Each segment is about four to five minutes in length. Portions of the production will also remind you of the "Voyage of the Little Mermaid" show at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Black lights and puppets are used imaginatively and it's intriguing to watch. In the end, Mickey joins the fun for a big finale.


Walt Disney Studios Park Toon Studio Animagique


This show does have a catchy theme song which I like. But I'll warn you, it will be stuck in your head all day like "it's a small world."

I have to be honest; this show doesn't really work for me. Obviously I was supposed to like it, but I didn't. I thought it was juvenile. I enjoyed the "black light" segments, but I don't feel they're executed as well as the "Voyage of the Little Mermaid" show. But I also wanted to be fair and not pan this production without some other input. So I asked four of my friends who have seen Animagique for their opinions. Here are their responses:

Flo: I've seen Animagique three times - 2002, 2005, and 2007. I loved it the first time I saw it, as did my traveling companions (all hard core Disney freaks). But sadly, the next two times I found it to be a watered-down version of its former self. For example, there is a part that has puppet performers that walk in the aisles with puppets that are like kites on sticks (similar to the ones in Finding Nemo). In 2002, the theatre seemed like it was filled with them. They were in every aisle, surrounding you. The next times, there were only two. It made a big difference. There were other things that were reduced too. In 2002, we liked it so much that we made time to go back and see it again. The next two times, one viewing was enough. I still liked it, but didn't love it. Unfortunately, it appears to have followed Disney's usual pattern - open a great attraction but then let the bean counters drag down the show quality by cutting the performers back to the bare minimum.

TDLFAN: I honestly do not care much for "Animagique". I disliked the music the first time I saw it. In fact, the one aspect of the show I liked was the use of black lighting, which made the characters and props on stage glow to some degree. But the show was a bit slow, amateurish and mediocre for my taste. Maybe because I am so used to the big budget standards used at the Tokyo Disney Resort for these types of show/stage attraction. I could only recommend this show for families who bring small kids into the parks or for those who are "character lovers" to the core. Besides that, "Animagique" is not worth it.

Anita Answer: I thought it was unintentionally hilarious. It was so bad, I laughed out loud at some of the dialogue, such as when Baloo says in a monotone, "Hey buddy, gimme some." Slang always suffers in translation, I guess. I literally fell out of my seat and into the aisle I was laughing so hard. Verdict: Like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, "It's the Cheesiest!"

Donald: I was so unimpressed with the show I can hardly remember seeing it.

So the vote is 1 in favor, 4 against. But don't take our word for it. You should ALWAYS judge these things for yourself. So if you ever find you're at the Walt Disney Studios Park, I think you should give this attraction a try. You just might love it.

I have heard a rumor. Let me say this again. I have heard a RUMOR, that this show will be retired and replaced with Mickey's PhilharMagic. I think this would be a great improvement and I hope it's true.

In my next blog I'll be discussing Cars Race Rally, Crush's Coaster, and Flying Carpets Over Agrabah.

April 18, 2009

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris – Part 6 – Backlot – Armageddon - Les Effets Speciaux & Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Logo


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Armageddon


Armageddon - Les Effets Speciaux (Special Effects)

As you might have guessed from the title, this attraction is about movie special effects in general and specifically about the 1998 Touchstone movie Armageddon.

On display outside the attraction is the drilling machine Armadillo. This was the actual prop used in the movie to bore into the impending asteroid.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Armageddon

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Armageddon


The adventure begins inside Studio 7-A.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Armageddon

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Armageddon


Your first stop is the preshow. Via film clips, you are introduced to the works of legendary French film maker Georges Méliès, the creator of many early special effects.

Following this tribute, a second video is shown, showcasing well-known special effects from some of our favorite movies of the last century. A close observer will notice that an inordinate amount of this footage is from Disney films. As the movie climaxes, Michael Clarke Duncan, one of the stars of the movie Armageddon, appears on screen. He presents a very high-level explanation of some of the special effects used in the movie Armageddon and sets the mood for the adventure to come.

The entire preshow is presented in French with English subtitles.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Armageddon


When the preshow concludes, you exit this room and proceed to the main attraction, a Russian space station. As you enter the craft, you are struck by an array of computers, lights, hoses, and instrumentation. Everyone gathers around the circular room and then the doors are closed and sealed. After a few safety announcements, the director yells "Action" and the set comes alive.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Armageddon


As the lights dim, you can hear com-chat in both Russian and English. Viewing screens open and it soon becomes apparent that a number of small meteors are on a collision course with your ship. As the particles begin to pummel your vessel, mayhem ensues. The floor starts to shake and sparks begin to fly. Then one of the walls of your craft is punctured and vast amounts of steam are sucked out into space. A pipe breaks and everyone is sprayed with liquid. All the while the ceiling keeps dropping, inch by inch. To add excitement, these events are accented by loud noises. Then everything goes dark. For a moment you think you might survive. Then all of a sudden a massive explosion erupts from the middle of the ship.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Armageddon


When everything calms down, the lights come up and the doors open. As you exit the building, you pass by a number of movie props.

If Disney still used ticket books, I'd give this attraction a "C" coupon (maybe a "D" if I was feeling very generous). It's exciting, but I wouldn't call this a first-class event. The preshow lasts about twelve minutes and the space station segment is about five. This attraction is NOT suitable for small children who are easily frightened.

Moteurs" Action! Stunt Show Spectacular


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Moteurs


"Moteurs" Action! Stunt Show Spectacular" is basically the same attraction as the "Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show" at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. And as you might already know, it opened in Paris first.

The basic premise is the same for both shows. You are witness to a filming of an action packed stunt sequence involving good guys and bad guys and cars and motorcycles. Since the shows are so similar, I'm only going to discuss the variations.

The first difference is in the queue. While walking passed the garages, the interior is far more visible through the various windows. The cars and mechanics are in plain sight and you can see them working on the vehicles.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Moteurs


This attraction is sponsored by Opel Automobiles. (Opel cars are used as the stunt vehicles here and in Florida.) When you enter the stadium, a number of current models are on display in the main arena.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Moteurs


While you're waiting for the show to begin, a stunt motorcyclist entertains the crowd.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Moteurs


The arena is almost identical to its Florida cousin. It's kind of spooky how similar they are.

The show is presented in both French and English. Two "directors" alternate with explanations of the events unfolding before you.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Moteurs


About 15 "extras" are selected from the audience and used in a portion of the show. I can't say they do much, but they are directed to run from one spot of the arena to another.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Moteurs


The segment of a car riding on two wheels is not part of the chase scene in Paris. Instead, it's simply a stunt performed for the audience.

First, one car drives out on stage, rides up the incline ramp, then travels across the arena on two wheels. After returning to all four, the vehicle circles around to the starting point and is joined by a second car. This time both cars position themselves in this precarious manner and travel across the arena. Once again, they return to normal, circle back, and are joined by a third car to perform the stunt once more in triplicate.

I actually like this better than the Florida version. It allows you to concentrate on the stunt and not be distracted by other events.

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Moteurs


Another thing I like about the Paris show is that they don't try to hide the air cushion that the car lands on after flying off of the top of a truck. It's in plain view and it's interesting to see it deflate as the vehicle hits it.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Moteurs


Okay everyone. I'm just the messenger here. Remember, don't kill the messenger.

Instead of selecting a child to drive the remote control car, a woman is chosen - and many jokes about women drivers are bandied about.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Moteurs


Other than what I've mentioned here, the two shows are pretty much the same. The identical footage is used on the overhead screen. Herbie makes an appearance. A stunt man jumps off of a building and a motorcyclist crashes through a window. And of course, cars go flying through the air.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Moteurs


That finishes the Backlot. In my next blog I'll be discussing Toon Studio.

April 16, 2009

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris – Part 5 – Backlot – Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Logo


Peppered throughout the Walt Disney Studios Park are street signs with the names of famous American and French film makers. In addition, an informational plaque mounted on the pole gives a brief description of the honoree's accomplishments in both English and French.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Sign


The Georges Méliès' plaque reads as follows: "Méliès, a popular Parisian stage magician, made over 500 films between 1895 and 1914. He is credited with discovering such quintessential special effects as stop motion, slow motion, dissolves, fade-outs, and superimposition."

On the other side of the park, another plaque for the Disney Brothers reads: "In what is arguably the longest and most successful partnership in the history of show business, Roy, the financial genius, and Walt, the creative visionary, together ran the Disney company for nearly half of a century. They changed the face of entertainment and virtually created the genre of the animated feature film."


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Rock 'N' Roller Coaster


Rock 'N' Roller Coaster is one of the premier attractions at the Walt Disney Studios Park. As you can see by the picture below, the exterior is quite different from its cousin at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Rock 'N' Roller Coaster


Parked nearby the entrance to the "Tour de Force Records" sound studio is Aerosmith's touring bus. The group arrived earlier and is working inside.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Rock 'N' Roller Coaster

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Rock 'N' Roller Coaster


After winding your way through the queue, you eventually find yourself in Studio C where you can see Aerosmith discussing their latest idea.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Rock 'N' Roller Coaster


This is where you begin to realize that the storyline at the Parisian version of this attraction is quite different from that of Florida.

Aerosmith has decided that it's not enough to just listen to their music, but that people need to experience it as well. To that end, "SoundTracker" vehicles were developed to make their fans "part" of the concert rather than just passive listeners.

You board the SoundTrackers in a backstage area of a rock performance. A sound man can be seen nearby and it's obvious he's in charge of the goings on.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Rock 'N' Roller Coaster


After you're fastened into your seat, the SoundTracker is jettisoned into the middle of the concert, music blasting from all 120 onboard speakers. As you race around scaffolding, strobes flash, lasers shine, spots turn on and off, and you plunge through a blanket of dry-ice mist. One of five Aerosmith's songs is selected for each event. Depending on the number chosen, the lighting and effects will be different.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Rock 'N' Roller Coaster

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Rock 'N' Roller Coaster

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Rock 'N' Roller Coaster

The track layout for the Parisian version of Rock 'N' Roller Coaster is identical to Florida's as are the musical numbers. But the experience is quite different. I prefer the Florida version, but that's probably because I'm more familiar with it. If you ever visit the Walt Disney Studios, I would certainly recommend giving this attraction a try even if you have been on the Disney World version a dozen times or more.

The Backlot Express Restaurant

The Backlot Express Restaurant is the primary dining facility in this area.

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Express Restaurant


Like its cousin at Disney's Hollywood Studios, this restaurant is fashioned to look like a prop warehouse. Hanging from the walls and stashed in cages is a collection of just about everything.

This is a counter service restaurant and features International and French "fast food." This includes salads, baguettes, and quiche.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Express Restaurant

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Backlot Express Restaurant

I've never been a big fan of the Backlot Express at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The food is fine, but eating in a warehouse just doesn't work for me. When I dine, I want the ambiance to be a little bit more upscale than an oversized storage room. The Parisian version of this restaurant doesn't feel quite as dingy as Florida's, but neither of these restaurants will ever be high on my list of places to eat, simply because of the surroundings.

In my next blog I will discuss Armageddon Special Effects and Moteurs" Action! Stunt Show Spectacular.

April 12, 2009

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris - Part 4 – Production Courtyard – TOT & Backstage Tour

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard


In an earlier blog I wrote that when the Walt Disney Studios Park opened, it lacked soul. Much of this was due to the fact that many of the buildings either looked like soundstages or office buildings. And most of the other structures and facades were uninspired. But I'm happy to report that the Imagineers are correcting this problem. The "changing" picture below was taken from roughly the same spot. See for yourself how much things have improved in a little over three years.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard


With the exception of the Tower of Terror, most of these structures are facades, like the Streets of America at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. But none the less, they add a lot of welcome atmosphere.

This next picture is looking across the street at the other side of Hollywood Blvd.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard


The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror


The Paris version of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (TOT) is an extremely close copy of its cousin at Disney's California Adventure. Both were designed in the "Pueblo Deco" style of architecture which is the blending of Art Deco and Native American art from the Southwest U.S.

Along with its other cousin in Tokyo, all three of these Tower of Terrors have three shafts and utilize two elevator cars in each. Unlike Florida, the loading for these elevators takes place on both the first and second floors of the boiler room.

I have not ridden on the Paris version of this ride, but I have experienced Tokyo's and California's so I have a reasonable idea of what the experience is all about.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror


Paris' Tower of Terror is also the only tower to present Rod Serling's introduction in a language other than English. As the library fills, the bellboy can change from the original English recording to a French narration. Serling's voice in the French version was dubbed by a vocal artist whose voice resembled the original dubbing of the "La Quatrième Dimension" when the Twilight Zone TV show was shown in France. Both recordings feature subtitles in the opposite language.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror


The Paris, California, and Tokyo versions of Tower of Terror do not have the "Fifth Dimension Room." Instead, the elevator makes a second stop on its journey to the top of the hotel. At this floor, the elevator doors open and you see a reflection of the car's inhabitants in a mirror hanging on the wall. A moment later, lightning strikes and electricity arcs around the mirror and everyone's face morphs into a ghostly green and eventually fades into nothingness. In the end, the mirror's reflection reveals only empty seats in your elevator.

The deviation from the Florida version of TOT was made for a number of reasons. First, it was less expensive to build. Second, it required less land which was important at Disney's California Adventure. Also, if one of the shafts breaks down, only one third of the attraction is affected, whereas in Florida, if one of the shafts malfunctions, half of the ride's capacity is lost. I've also heard that the "Fifth Dimension" room is prone to breakdowns and the Imagineers wanted to rid themselves of this problem. However, I can't substantiate this.

I really like the Fifth Dimension room. To me, the scariest part of the entire attraction is when you exit this room and your car moves into the inky black elevator shaft. I'm always certain that the technology is going to fail at that moment and my elevator car is going to plunge into the bowels of the building. Yikes! But I also like the mirror effect. It's imaginative and fun.

The rest of the attraction is relatively the same as its cousins. Your elevator car takes its uneasy passengers on multiple drops until finally arriving safely back where you began. And like all of the world-wide TOT's, the view from the top is fantastic. From here you can see the Disneyland Hotel, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Space Mountain, and Disney Village. Have your camera ready.

Disney's Hollywood Studios Florida - Tower of Terror

Disney's California Adventure California - Tower of Terror

Tokyo Disney Sea - Japan - Tower of Terror


Studio Tram Tour®: Behind the Magic

The Walt Disney Studios Park offers a backstage tram tour. The entrance is located at the end of Hollywood Blvd. The picture below was taken over three years ago and the entrance has changed since then. Unfortunately, I do not have a current photo.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic


Parked in front of the attraction is Cruella de Vil's car. If you look closely under the rear of the vehicle, you can see oil stains in the shape of Mickey Mouse.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic


The trams are very similar to those used at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic


But unlike Florida, a cast member does not narrate this attraction. Instead, each car of the tram is equipped with a TV monitor. During your journey, a prerecorded video is played with descriptions of what you are seeing and also of movie making techniques. French is handled by Irène Jacob alternating with Jeremy Irons who provides the English dialog.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic


In the first few years of operation, some cars offered Dutch & German and others Spanish & Italian. But this caused difficulties managing the queue, and eventually these languages were dropped in 2005.

The first segment of the trip takes you past the boneyard where you can see props once used in various movies.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic


You also pass by a large set from the short-lived 2002 Disney TV show, Dinotopia. Thirteen episodes were made and shown in Europe, but only five were ever broadcast in the U.S.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic


The next stop on the tram tour is Catastrophe Canyon. This is an extremely close copy of the one at Disney's Hollywood Studios. And just like Florida, the folks on the left side of the tram have the better view and the better soaking.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic


From Catastrophe Canyon you turn around and aim back. Along the way the tram passes through the wardrobe building used for park costume design and production.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic


As your journey continues you pass by the attraction entrance and the second leg of the tour begins. You soon pass a topiary garden and a car shed with over 20 different vehicles.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic


The second highlight of the tour is based on the 2002 Touchstone movie "Reign of Fire" starring Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey. Here, you enter a beautiful recreation of London.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic


But you soon learn that all is not well. The city has been destroyed by flying, fire-breathing dragons.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic


The recreation of the devastated city is chilling. The set designers did a fantastic job. But I was somewhat disappointed. After the multiple effects experienced on Catastrophe Canyon, the London scene is a letdown. As you pass by a large, cylindrical brick wall, you can hear the rumblings and growl of the dragon hiding within. But all you get to see is his flame. No audioanimatronic creature appears. No rubble falls from the walls. No pipes burst. Just a large flame.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Studio Tram Tour®:  Behind the Magic


On a side note, Reign of Fire was in production during the same time the Walt Disney Studios Park was being planned and built. I'm sure Disney was hoping that this would be a blockbuster movie that guests could identify with while on the tram tour. Unfortunately, this movie only grossed $82 million on a $95 million budget and received generally negative reviews.

From London your tram passes by the warm-up area for the "Motours" Action! Stunt Show Spectacular" and a few minutes later you're back at the attraction entrance/exit.

Well, that's it for Production Courtyard. Next stop, the Backlot.

April 9, 2009

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris - Part 3 – Production Courtyard – Stitch Live

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard


Walt Disney Television Studios

When the Walt Disney Studios Park opened, the "Walt Disney Television Studios" offered guests a backstage tour of the Disney Channel's French headquarters.

When I took this tour in September, 2005, I was never so bored in all my life. Most of the tour was presented in French with English subtitles. But beyond the language barrier, the subject matter was exceedingly dull - no matter how hard they tried to breathe excitement into it. This attraction closed in 2007 to make room for "Stitch Live." Thank goodness.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard  Television Studios


I have not been on the Paris version of "Stitch Live," but my friend TDLFAN tells me that it is almost exactly like its cousin attraction "Stitch Encounter" in Hong Kong, which I have seen.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard


The picture below is from Hong Kong, but the interior of the two attractions are practically identical.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard


"Stitch Live" uses the same technology as "Turtle Talk with Crush" in Epcot.
However, the story here is a little different. Using one of the Disney Channel satellites, your human host hones in on a ship in outer space and contacts Stitch. From then on, this mischievous prankster interacts with the audience in real-time conversations. The shenanigans are different with each contact and no two shows are ever exactly the same.

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of Stitch, but I loved this attraction in Hong Kong. It made me laugh both times I experienced it.

Since the Walt Disney Studios Park must deal with two languages, "Stitch Live" is presented in either French or English. Outside of the attraction is a marquee that lists the show times and the associated language.

Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant

Next to "Stitch Live" is the buffet restaurant Rendez-Vous des Stars (Meeting Place of the Stars).


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard  Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard  Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant


This art deco building offers the most upscale dining experience of any of the restaurants found at the Walt Disney Studios Park. The interior is large with over 300 seats. But despite its considerable size, this establishment can get busy during the lunch hours. The "storyline" of this eatery is that it's a place for the cast and crew to grab a bite to eat between takes. The walls are decorated with photos of movie stars and the bill of fare is European.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard  Rendez-Vous des Stars Restaurant


Disney Cinema Parade

No Disney park would be complete without an afternoon parade and the Walt Disney Studios Park is no exception. In keeping with the Hollywood theme, each float is given a movie-making touch to showcase a given film. For example, we see Minnie in her dressing room and Mary Poppins on reels of film.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Disney Cinema Parade

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Disney Cinema Parade


This parade is a lot of fun and if you have kids, this is the perfect way to let them see an abundance of characters. The procession lasts approximately 20 minutes.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Disney Cinema Parade

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Disney Cinema Parade


There are a number of good spots to watch the Disney Cinema Parade, but Production Courtyard offers a lot of space to line the street.

In my next blog I will discuss the Tower of Terror and the Studio Tram Tour.

-------------------------

It seems a few things have changed since my last visit. Please read Marnix's comment below.

April 6, 2009

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris – Part 2 – Production Courtyard - CinéMagique

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard


Production Courtyard is the first "land" you come to when exiting Studio 1. One of the first things you'll notice is a large film-strip etched in the concrete. This is a pathway of sorts that leads from one end of the park to the other.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard


Also in Production Courtyard is a bandstand where live music is occasionally heard.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard Bandstand


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard CineMagique


CinéMagique (Film Magic) is the crowning jewel of the Walt Disney Studios Park. In fact, it could be the crowning jewel of a lot of theme parks. This is truly a wonderful attraction - a true crowd pleaser.

The outside of the attraction looks like a soundstage and the queue area is unremarkable at best. This "history of the movies" is shown several times a day so check your schedule.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard CineMagique

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard CineMagique


Inside the soundstage you find a large theater that seats 1,100 guests. And of course, this is where the magique takes place.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard CineMagique


Much of the charm of this attraction comes from the unexpected events that take place during the film. This is a spoiler alert. I'm going to describe what happens inside this theater. So if you're planning a trip to the Disneyland Paris Resort and want to be surprised when you see this movie, skip the rest of this blog. But please note, this is an absolute MUST SEE at the Walt Disney Studios Park.

You are seated in the theater, expecting to see a "history" of film. Before the movie begins, a cast member, dressed in an usher's costume of the 1930's, walks on stage. You are welcomed to the show and reminded that there is no flash photography or video taping and asked to turn off your cell phones. A moment later, the movie begins.

The first film clips shown are from the silent era. Piano music plays and you settle in to enjoy the movie. All of a sudden, you hear a cell phone ringing from a seat near the front of the theater. A man answers it and starts a loud conversation with the airline who it seems has lost his luggage. During his conversation we learn that his name is George. A cast member rushes to the man and tries to quiet him. In his attempt to ignore the cast member and continue his call, George gets up from his seat and walks up onto the stage. His back is to us at all times.

All the while, the silent films continue to show on the screen. In the next clip we see a young sheik and his fiancée, Marguerite. They are in the midst of a love scene when they "break the fourth wall" and become aware of the annoying man talking on stage. After a moment's irritation, the sheik summons a wizard. The wizard takes one look at George and starts to conjure a spell. Then he sprinkles some magic dust and POOF, there is a blast of smoke on the stage and the annoying man disappears. A moment later, George (played by Martin Short) reappears IN the movie. Being a silent movie, no sounds are emitted when George tries to speak.

The sheik, who was angry to have his romantic scene interrupted, punches George in the face. But Marguerite (played by Julie Delpy) takes pity on George and attends to him. The sheik, seeing a tenderness developing between them, starts to chase after George. It's here that the insanity really begins.

Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard CineMagique

George runs through the castle looking for an escape route and finds a window. When he crawls through it, he's transported to the ledge of a skyscraper in New York City with Harold Lloyd. When he climbs down the fire escape, he joins a pie fight with Charlie Chaplin.

As he continues to jump from movie to movie he soon finds that he's in the age of the "talkies" and he can now speak. Next we find George at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre with Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis. Eventually color comes to the movies and soon, wide screen. All the while, George continues to experience the cinema first hand.

But Marguerite, who is falling in love with George, wants to find him and she too begins to jump from film to film looking for him. They occasionally meet and their love for one another continues to grow.

There is very little dialogue, and it really isn't needed to tell the story. When words are wanted, George speaks in English and Marguerite in French. But the story is so excellently told that you can understand everything.

George continues his journey and meets Pinocchio, Hannibal Lector, and Inspector Clouseau, just to name a few. He climbs aboard the sinking Titanic, dances in Mary Poppins, and is involved in a western shoot-out.


Walt Disney Studios Park Paris Production Courtyard CineMagique


Eventually, George and Marguerite are reunited in a medieval battle scene. But George is weary of the "movies" and wants to return to the real world. A chivalrous French knight agrees to help and climbs a nearby hill. He takes his mighty sword and flings it toward the screen. Magically, the sword slices the screen and is impaled on stage. The effect is magnificent and the audience applauds.

George exits the film via the sliced screen, but alas, Marguerite cannot. Then, as quickly as the tear appeared, it disappears and George cannot reenter the film world.

But all is not lost. The wizard, who originally brought George into the film world, creates a door on the screen. George opens it, walks through, and immerges back on celluloid once more. The movie ends with George and Marguerite walking down the Yellow Brick Road toward Oz.

CinéMagique is about 30 minutes long, but it seems shorter because you are so engrossed in the story. You will laugh and you will cry. And you will want to see it again! I can't recommend this movie enough. If you only see one attraction at the Walt Disney Studios Park, let it be this one.

I really wish Disney would bring this attraction to Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. It would be an instant success. But I've heard that Disney only secured the rights to show these film clips in Paris and nowhere else. If this is true, it's a real pity.

In my next blog I'll be discussing "Stitch Live."

April 2, 2009

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.

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About Walt Disney Studios

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in the Walt Disney Studios category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Disneyland Paris Resorts is the previous category.

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