Walt Disney Studios Park
“Disney’s least interesting theme park, but the future looks bright”
Okay, let’s do this… a review about Disney’s least praised theme park. While designing Walt Disney Studios, it seems as if Imagineers wanted to prove that they’re just people like you and me. And people makes mistakes. But hey, let’s not be too cynical from the start. The park has received quite some additions since its opening day and it’s currently getting ready for a huge expansion phase. What’s the current state of Walt Disney Studios Park?
Despite its limited size, Walt Disney Studios is home to 3 credits. The most popular one is undoubtedly Crush’s Coaster. I’ve rarely seen a queue of less than 40 minutes for this coaster. Crush’s Coaster is definitely the resort’s most notorious attraction when it comes to lengthy waits. This doesn’t come as a surprise, though. If Disney presents a family roller coaster with a hyper-popular Finding Nemo theme without considering capacity, then this is the logical outcome. Are those endless lines a valid excuse to ignore Crush’s Coaster? Unfortunately not: the ride is too much fun to skip. It’s surprisingly intense, blissfully smooth and the dark ride part makes me forget that I’m actually riding a roller coaster that was designed to travel on funfairs.
European fans often complain about downtime and the lack of new attractions at Disneyland Park. Fortunately, Walt Disney Studios is better off in terms of expansions. A lot of novelties have opened since 2002 and theming has increased drastically. The park is gradually getting rid of the studio and Hollywood-related theme. One of the bigger expansions came in 2010, when Toy Story Playland was presented. Toy Story Playland consists of three classic flat rides, all of which were presented in a rather simple form. One of those flat rides should definitely be ridden by coaster enthusiasts, though. RC Racer officially counts as a credit. Don’t expect too much: this isn’t much more than a swinging ship and the ride duration is way too short.
And then there’s Avengers Assemble – Flight Force at the newly opened Avengers Campus. The ride isn’t entirely new, though. Avengers Campus was built on the location of the former Back Lot and Flight Force reused the hardware of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which closed in 2019. The layout of this coaster remained identical, but the theming was changed dramatically. The ride now features a modern-looking facade and a cool pre-show, including a state-of-the-art animatronic. However, the current ride experience feels underwhelming. The French version of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was known for its incredible light effect, but these have all been removed. Flight Force makes use of screens and projections, but they look rather cheap and simple. This definitely isn’t the Disney level you’d expect in the year 2022.
Crush’s Turtle Talk is a popular interactive attraction at the American and Japanese resorts. In Europe, we got a similar experience called Stitch Live. And although I don’t consider myself as a Stitch lover, this show is surprisingly fun. Everything depends on the Cast Members and the audience, but overall I think that Stitch Live is funnier and more mature than Turtle Talk.
Stitch delivers quite some fun, but the best entertainment at Walt Disney Studios can be found inside the Animagique Theater. This venue is currently home to Mickey and the Magician, one of the best stage shows the European Disney resort has ever known. The story line is easy to follow, the visual effects are great and the combination of English and French doesn’t bother me. Mickey and the Magician takes us on a journey through recognizable film scenes, including beautiful live vocals and stunning sets. I’m obviously not the only one who likes the show. Long lines form well in advance and the theater is usually filled to the brim.
Avengers Campus is the resort’s main novelty for the 30th anniversary celebrations. The area is home to multiple superheroes, but the most popular of them all is Spider-Man. He even lends his name to Spider-Man W.E.B. Adventure, a brand-new interactive dark ride. It’s surprisingly similar to Toy Story Mania: this attraction also features spinning vehicles and screen-based scenes. Interestingly, the ride doesn’t make use of laser guns, but it tracks hand gestures. This isn’t entirely unique, as the system was already introduced by Legoland’s Ninjago attractions. French park guests seem to adore W.E.B. Adventure, but I’m actually not a huge fan. The ride could use some extra physical sets and the game play feels rather chaotic.
Walt Disney Studios was (and still is) the ugliest Disney park on the planet. But in 2014, the park finally presented an area in which you can feel true Disney magic. E-Ticket attraction Ratatouille – L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy opened together with a dazzling interpretation of a Parisian square. The facades are cute, the music is fun and we also got a cool new table service restaurant (with pricey, but tasty steaks). In short: this is Disney as Disney should be. Unfortunately, my opinion about the main attraction is a little less enthusiastic. Don’t get me wrong… Ratatouille is the dark ride that Walt Disney Studios desperately needed. I’m therefore an avid user of the attraction’s single rider line, but I wouldn’t wait longer than 10 minutes for Ratatouille. Honestly, this 4D dark ride simply couldn’t meet my expectations. The effects are so-so and due to its huge video screens, Ratatouille actually feels like it belongs at Universal Studios. Besides, I really miss a climax in the ride experience (something like the rolling boulder in Indiana Jones Adventure). Once again… I’m not saying that Ratatouille is a bad ride, but it’s not spectacular either.
Did anybody say spectacular? Walt Disney Studios’ most thrilling ride is The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. And honestly, it’s my favourite attraction at the European Disney resort. Everything about Tower of Terror is great. I’m talking about the grand exterior, the beautiful hotel lobby, the mysterious boiler room and the ride which transports you directly to the Twilight Zone. There’s not a single part of this attraction that I don’t like, but you may want to ask for the original English narration instead of the French version. Tower of Terror deserves nothing but praise. Although the pre-show isn’t as stunning as the one in Japan and the Orlando ride feels more unique, this is one of Europe’s very best thrills. Tons of airtime are included, by the way.
WORTH A VISIT?
It was fun writing this review. Writing about a perfect theme park is often more difficult than writing about a theme park with obvious flaws. And I think we agree about the fact that Walt Disney Studios has its flaws. This remains the world’s least beautiful Disney theme park and some attractions are well past their expiration dates. Still, the evolution of Walt Disney Studios is admirable. The park is already in a much better shape than it was in 2002, which is mainly due to the addition of high-quality rides and shows. Ratatouille and Crush’s Coaster are crowd pleasers, while Tower of Terror and Mickey and the Magician belong to the world’s best Disney attractions. Walt Disney Studios is on the right track and the future looks even brighter. This may always remain Disneyland Park’s ugly brother, but in terms of attractions, Walt Disney Studios could become the better of both parks. There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow.
Walt Disney Studios Park
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WORLD OF PIXAR
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Am I being too negative about Walt Disney Studios? Will you miss Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster? And what are your thoughts on the upcoming Marvel, Star Wars and Frozen lands? Share your opinion in the comments section at the bottom of this page.