Recently I read about a petition that had been set up in Britain to “Save” Disneyland Paris. Apparently some recent visitors felt that the theme park is going downhill somewhat and therefore setup this petition. I read some comments on the news article as well and I am in two minds about this petition.
I’ve been to Disneyland Paris quite a few times. In 1993, 1994, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007 and the last time I have been was in 2009. I thoroughly enjoyed my stays as you can see from my return so often. I think one of the big highlights was 2002. It was fantastic going to the newly opened Studios park with quite a few new rides to explore. The highlights were the Rock ‘N Rollercoaster and Cinemagique. Interestingly the Rock ‘N Rollercoaster is actually the same roller coaster track as a ride they have at Six Flags Holland (now known as Walibi world again I believe) in The Netherlands. However what I always thought Disney does so well is the theming of the rides and certainly with regards to a Rollercoaster I thought they pushed the boat out here. Theming the ride around the Aerosmith songs worked well and the timing went together really well with the thrill.
Disneyland Paris Sleeping Beauty Castle
Cinemagique is a true magical cinema experience and one can’t really talk too much about this before giving away the secrets which make it so unique. Other great experiences in the Studios park more recently have been the Finding Nemo roller coaster, the huge Tower of Terror ride (perhaps THE BEST RIDE of the two parks I would say), the Stitch encounter ride I thought made up for the somewhat disappointing aspects of the original park. The tram ride was a bit boring and simply fails to capture the true behind the scenes of movies experience you get at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. A much longer tram ride and driving through Hill Valley is of course something that cannot be captured at a make shift fake backlot.
The original Disneyland Paris park always has been very special to me. The Buzz Lightyear ride was terrific and is only about 6 years old I believe. The fantastic theming of the Big Thunder Mountain is something you don’t see elsewhere I think and the updated Space Mountain 2 ride was pretty cool as well.
Hollywood Hotel Tower of Terror
However sure I can be critical here. It was plain to see that Disneyland Paris was struggling, even in the 90s. The first time I went I noticed you saw cleaning staff everywhere. You would in fact never see anything on the ground as cleaning staff were pretty much following all the visitors around tidying things up after them. There certainly seemed a reduction in staff in the subsequent times I went. Sometimes you would see a ride closed. For example there is a windmill type of ride in Fantasyland which I don’t think I’ve ever seen working. But this does not say much of course. There could be many reasons why that ride hasn’t operated certain times.
The subsequent times I went back after the studios park had been opened the opening hours seem to have shortened. (Usually I’ve been in the summer months). I believe it went down from 8pm down to even 6pm at some stage. This can be somewhat annoying I think because there is almost nothing better than running through a theme park in the evening when it is getting dark and getting on the rides very quickly.
The View down Main Street USA in Disneyland Paris
The lack of ride additions and ride updates has perhaps been a bit disappointing as well (perhaps one of the reasons I have not been back since 2009). It’s disappointing to see Star Tours 2 has opened in several Disney locations so far but still is not present in Paris. I am pretty sure we are going to see the new Star Wars movie reboot before we get the ride available in Paris. This actually seems a little bit crazy, but it does show where Disney’s priorities lie I guess. I hope that if the new Star Wars movies are a massive success some of the profit that is raised could perhaps flow into the parks and at least give Disneyland Paris the much needed Star Tours 2 before a Star Tours 3 is released elsewhere.
Some of the comments on the article I read were a bit daft. People complaining about the Paris weather and that the park is not in the right location. Well whenever I have been it has been pretty good. I remember in 2007, I went at Christmas time and it was very cold. But I cannot get into the Christmas spirit when the weather is warm anyway I would have thought. Having said that I can appreciate cold weather and a theme park doesn’t really mix. Inevitably the main reason why some theme parks elsewhere in Europe close during the winter months. On another occasion I visited the Paris theme park I remember it being very rainy for one day. Apart from that I have always experienced very good weather. I can’t see the weather in the UK being any better on average but perhaps I am wrong.
Fantillusion Parade, last went out in 2012 from what I’ve heard. It was stunning and a shame if it does not come back.
Some people have suggested the park should have been located in Spain. Sure it would have overcome the weather problem but I am not so sure this would have increased visitor numbers. It is in fact very easy for us brits to jump on the Eurostar and get to the Disneyland Paris train station in one go (though I believe the direct trains have been somewhat reduced in recent years, quite a shame). Still connections and travelling distances are much better for the Germans, the Dutch, British, Danish and further north even I would say and really that is the rich area of Europe you are targeting.
A video was posted in the news article I read where you could see a panel missing on Space Mountain’s exterior. I think it’s a bit crazy to assume rides are falling apart just because of one panel missing, which most likely has been replaced by now anyway. However perhaps there is more evidence of so called “crumbling rides”. I can’t see this happening on a large scale when they are still opening small new rides.
Worryingly I did read some of the parades are now cancelled and the Fantillusion parade is no more along with reduced fireworks shows. That is quite a shame really. Also I read in another article that hotel New York is in need for refurbishment. It is surprising they let a 4 star hotel slip like that. Perhaps the original park also needs so more rides. I think it probably needs another extreme roller coaster or two and perhaps another for kids and more rides could really be themes around the successful Pixar franchises. The Honey I shrunk the audience 3D movie was always a complete embarrassment I thought after EO got a bit old. With so many successful 3D Pixar movies it was a surprise no spin offs of those made its way into that theatre.
I hope Disney can invest more in the Paris parks. I am aware they only own a minority share now in the park but I cannot see how Disneyland Paris can raise enough capital to do anything that would cost more than half a billion Euros or more which is the kind of money required I think to really captivate visitors and make sure they come back. In actual fact I believe they had a dream at Disneyland Paris to open a water park in 2012 which of course hasn’t happened.
I’d like to see a young generation be able to experience Disneyland Paris the same way I did; with excitement wonder and of course fun rather than they see headlines suggesting the place is falling apart.