On March 16th 2002, almost 10 years to the day since EuroDisney was unleashed on the world, what was now known as Disneyland Resort Paris was finally blessed with a second theme park. Although it was a much cut down version of the original plans for Disney-MGM Studios Europe, the park shared the same vision: Letting guests experience the behind the scenes thrill of cinema, animation and television.
Join me if you will, for a two part journey around the Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Resort Paris.
We start our journey at the front gate. Themed to the classic and perhaps stereotypical surroundings of a studio entrance, you enter the park in the Front Lot. Here you're greeted by a statue of Sorcerer Mickey, Studio 1 and the Earful tower. Guest Services stands on your right, and on your left is one of the park's boutiques. The entrance to the park is located right between Disneyland Park and Disney Village, and a short walk away from the resort hotels. As the parks and Disney Village are located together, a single shuttle bus service runs from each hotel to the area next to the EuroStar/TGV train station, which is also located in the resort's hub.
Across from the park gates is Studio 1. Studio 1 is your gateway to the park itself. Inside are several quick service restaurants and shopping areas. This area opens up before rope drop, at which point sound and lighting effects welcome you to your day at the Studios, before the doors at the end of the building open, granting you access to the park itself. Stepping out of Studio 1, you find yourself right between the Production Courtyard and Animation Courtyard, with the familiar "Partners" statue standing in the centre of the park.
Right in front of you at the back of the park is the Studio Tram Tour, a shorter version of the attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios. In the Paris version, you board the tram and set off on your journey around the studio backlot. Your first stop takes you to the set from Dinotopia, with its enormous statues standing over either side of the gate. Following this, your tram heads on over to Catastrophe Canyon, which should be familiar to those who have been to Disney's Hollywood Studios. The tram tour also features a look at the costuming workshop, with costumes from various Disney films. An interesting note about the costuming building is that what you can see through the glass wall behind the film costumes is the real working costuming department in the Disneyland Paris Cast Services building, where costumes for all of the cast members of the two parks are stored and collected from. Once past this, you then pass the area where you boarded your tram, getting a look at various vehicles from the movies before arriving at a scene from the movie Reign of Fire, where things don't look quite right on a London street. As you pass, a huge fireball erupts from a hole in the street into the air. Following this, you pass back around to the loading area.
In the Production Courtyard, guests could take a tour of the (now closed) Disney Channel Television Studios - the real, working HQ of the French Disney Channel. During the early years of the Studios park, programmes such as Zapping Zone were produced in the park. Guests would take a walk past the editing suite before getting a look into the working studio through a glass wall. Later on, the studio housed an Art Attack set that guests could walk around and play with things such as "green screen". Following the tour, guests would end up in an area known as "CyberSpace", which housed some attractions that would be at home in DisneyQuest, including CyberSpace Mountain, and various video game style attractions.
Leaving the television studio, guests are able to experience the Cinémagique attraction, a blend of live action and movie clips on a big screen. Guests are greeted and informed that they're going to see a history of cinema ranging from the silent films of days gone by to the films of today. A series of interesting events leads George (portrayed by Martin Short) on a fun trip through time (and space!) which - as with many of Disney's films - centres around a romance (amongst other things).
Next time, we'll take a trip around the Backlot and Animation Courtyard areas of the studios, as well as taking a look at the entertainment and dining options around the park.