Walt Disney Studios - Disneyland Paris Hotels
Walt Disney Studios
This park is small. That was my biggest (so to speak) impression of it. I was surprised at how little time it took to walk around. There were a few quality attractions, but overall - there just isn't much there.
The entrance was very different - we walked indoors through the Studio 1 building to get to the rest of the park.
There appeared to be a lot of interesting restaurants in there (The Liki Tiki looked fun), but they were all just false fronts to multiple counters of the same burger place. :-(
Once we went through to the park itself I thought it very reminiscent of Disney's Hollywood Studios in terms of the layout and the attractions. Walt Disney Studios still has the Backlot Tour and Lights, Motors, Action. And there's still a special effects show - Armageddon.
The park is divided into several areas: The Front Lot, Production Courtyard, Toon Studios, and Back Lot. I was surprised to see the Partners statue in the Production Courtyard area of the Studios rather than at Disneyland.
This park still has a sorcerer's hat, but it's much better integrated into the park than it was at the Studios in Florida.
The first thing I wanted to try was Ratatouille: The Adventure. This is the trackless vehicle ride at the Paris parks.
We boarded a "Ratmobile" for a somewhat wild ride through the kitchen and dining room of Gusteau's. It was cute, but didn't blow me away - for me Mystic Manor in Hong Kong is still the best of the trackless vehicle attractions. Ratatouille is a 3D experience, unlike Mystic Manor and Pooh's Hunny Hunt (Tokyo), and that's part of the problem, I think - it relies on the screens for 3D rather than set pieces and special effects like the other two.
I liked the Paris look of the Ratatouille area - it was like I was in Paris! ;-)
Next to the Ratatouille area is Toy Story Playland. We didn't really spend any time there since it was almost exactly like the one in Hong Kong - just smaller.
Both the Ratatouille and Playland areas are part of Toon Studios, though they seemed more separate to me. The Toon Studios part had the Aladdin Flying Carpets attraction, the Cars-themed Cars Quatre Roues Rallye and Crush's Coaster.
Crush's Coaster was really different - we were seated in a turtle shell, and the shell spun as we went along the coaster track. The coaster part was pretty mild (not even as thrilling as Thunder Mountain), but the spinning made it feel a lot more extreme. And it was in the dark. It was a one and done for Lee. I'd do it again, but not my favorite.
Cars Quatre Roues Rallye was closed for refurbishment the first day we were there but it opened for the weekend so we were able to ride it on Sunday afternoon. It was a lot like Mater's Junkyard Jamboree at Disney California Adventure, only without the crack the whip effect. It was a fun little ride.
The highlight of Toon Studios was the Mickey and the Magician show. This was a live theater show, and we both thought it was excellent. Lots of magical characters like the Fairy Godmother, the Genie, Elsa, and Rafiki.
The Lion King number was especially good.
There were some very nice special effects. Mickey spoke in French, but most of the other characters spoke English. As best I could tell they restated whatever Mickey had said. I didn't feel as though we missed something because we didn't speak French.
In The Production Courtyard we saw CineMagique. This was a movie with a small live component. It starred Martin Short as an "audience member" who suddenly found himself part of scenes from all kinds of movies - silent films to gangster films to Westerns - and even Star Wars. Although it was an older piece (it opened in 2002!) I thought it had held up well, and it was quite entertaining.
I visited the Art of Disney Animation. I was pleasantly surprised that it was somewhat educational and included a history of animation. The movie clips in the Classics Theater seemed like a different collection than what I've seen before.
The Tower of Terror is exactly like the one in DCA - at least until that one gets its Guardians of the Galaxy makeover. I was not expecting it to be absolutely identical.
In the Back Lot area we did the Armageddon special effects show and the Studio Tram Tour. The former had a caution for pregnant women, which I didn't understand at all. It wasn't a ride, and the effects weren't really that intense.
The Tram tour had a lot of the things we used to see in Catastrophe Canyon at the Studios at Walt Disney World. I'm glad I did it once - don't need to do it again.
We never made it to Rock'n'Roller Coaster. I understand that the pre-show is different, but the ride is the same. I don't think the Moteurs...Action! show was running while we were there...but we really weren't interested in it anyways.
There wasn't a parade or nighttime show in the Studios. The park closed at 6:00 every night - even on weekends!
While I really enjoyed Disneyland Paris, I was far less impressed with the Studios. It was nice to see a couple of attractions (Crush's Coaster and Ratatouille: The Adventure) that are exclusive, and Mickey and the Magician was first-rate, but otherwise the park didn't do much for me.
I believe there are seven Disney hotels at the resort, and all of them except Crockett Ranch are walking distance to the parks. We stayed at Sequoia Lodge, which had a more "Wilderness Lodge" feel to it. It's classed as a "Moderate", but compared to moderates at WDW I'd put it between a Moderate and a Deluxe.
The photo above is of the main building. Our room was in one of the outer lodges, which are separate buildings, so we had more of a walk to get to the main building where the restaurants and shops were. We had to go outdoors to do that. We had nice weather while we were there so it wasn't a problem, but if the weather were cold and/or rainy then being in the main building would be a lot better.
The room was fine. It seemed positively spacious compared to the room we'd had in Paris. :-) But it was not equipped with some of the amenities we are used to here. For example, no refrigerator and no coffee maker (though we could have requested a hot pot). Still, it was clean and comfortable and we were happy with it.
I didn't actually take any photos inside the hotel lobby. It was reminiscent of Wilderness Lodge but not as grand. We went to the bar for a drink one night, and that was very nice. Really large bar.
As I mentioned before, the Disneyland Hotel is right on the boundary of Disneyland. Access to the ticket booths and the turnstiles is under the hotel.
Like the Disneyland Hotels in Tokyo and Hong Kong, and the Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World, this one also has a Victorian theme inside. Notice the bird cage. I don't know why bird cages are important in Victorian design, but all of the Disney Victorian-themed hotels seem to have them.
I thought the lobby was very open and airy.
I mentioned that some of the rooms would look out into Disneyland - this is a view from one of the lounges on the second floor. Rooms on higher floors would have even better views.
Sequoia Lodge, Hotel New York, and the Newport Bay Club (pictured below) were all around Lake Disney. Downtown Disney is between Lake Disney and the parks. So those hotels were all pretty conveniently located.
A little further away was the Hotel Cheyenne. It is more of a value resort, and themed like an Old West town. The other hotel is the Hotel Santa Fe, with an American Southwest theme.
We didn't see it but I'll mention the other available Disney accommodation: Crockett Ranch. It's quite different - individual cabins with full kitchens and one or two bedrooms. More like the cabins at Fort Wilderness. It's also a 15 minute drive to the parks.
Dining at Disneyland Paris gets its own blog - coming soon.