May 9, 2008

Paris Side Trip to the Studios

Visiting the Walt Disney Studios Paris was on day two of our agenda to this resort, and we allotted only half a day. More than enough! It goes without saying that this park suffers from sitting next door to the most beautiful Magic Kingdom ever created. I won't lie and say we didn't enjoy a few items during our visit, but we promptly returned to its older sister after a few hours. Here is a quick review- befitting a park that was thrown together quickly as well!

Crush's Coaster is one of the few small gems to be found here. Simply said: the coaster is just fun! The theming is minimal on the ride itself, but the track is laid out in such a way to evoke a good amount of laughs. The indoor queue sets the mood for what lies ahead. It's fairly basic, on par with an old "C" ticket attraction as in Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Nothing special but it does set the pace. The line is understandably long for this attraction and was our first ride of the day.
From a firsthand look, the newest attractions from Cars are smaller than they seem from viewing them in photos. Very cute, highly detailed, but disappointing in scope. It does provide a very small taste of what California Adventure's Carsland will look like. Hopefully grander and more fully realized- as this extreme makeover will be the park's last chance at gaining a new reputation and at capturing the visitor dollar!

The newest additions to the park are the most highly themed of the attractions. It is almost as if Disney discovered that its guests like themed environments after all. This 180 in terms of detail is most welcome at this bare bones park, however, it also makes the Studios shortcomings more obvious than ever. Damned if you do, damned if you don't, I guess.

Many attractions are repeats from Florida, but Tower of Terror was not yet open- and was really needed. The real highlight of the few hours we spent were the original attractions- especially the effects-laden Armageddon. The tram tour, stage shows, and even Rock 'N' Rollercoaster had an overcast of cookie cutter boredom, as if Disney's Imagineers were themselves disinterested designing these attractions. Add to this, big box architecture, lack of greenery, and vast expanses of concrete. Not a winning combination.

We will not return to the Studios next trip- at least not until there are more unique attractions to be found- but we will certainly make a stop in the neighboring park and take one day out of our Paris visit. This Magic Kingdom continues to be magical but also badly needs new and original attractions. Hopefully, Disney is hearing this message from its theme park fans... and listening.

(Photographs copyright Mark Taft.)

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