Monday, August 5, 2013

Disneyland Paris Disneyland Parc Part One

Main Street
The "Magic Kingdom" in Paris is usually known as Disneyland Parc, though it does have the Kingdom name occasionally. It is both very unique in layout, but very similar to both Disneyland and Walt Disney Worlds Magic Kingdom too. Some would say it is the best of both, both in design and in attractions. For the main E tickets, previous versions of each were redesigned from the ground up with changes to layout, scenes and technology afforded by a ridiculous budget. Basically The Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder, Pirates, Small World and Space Mountain were given a wish-list treatment by Imagineering. And it shows.

Turnstiles Under Hotel
Discovery Arcade
Starting under the Disneyland Hotel, we find the turnstiles and ticket booths. The main hotel building is on stilts, acting as the most elaborate canopy ever! Once through the gates, the ami, air train station looms in front. Passing underneath, we are in a much larger town square than in America. The whole park was also given the blessing of size without feeling barren. So large, the horse drawn cars have their own roadway through the middle. City hall in the left, check. Emporium, check. On the right is the transport barn, a building using the same framework as Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. Those in the know will see the similarity. As with the rest of the park, Main Street USA shows the attention to detail and the layers of detail all over from the building decor, to the interiors, to the brick road surface, laid by hand. The fan could easily spend half a day on this one street to take it all in. Running parallel to the street, and behind the buildings, are two ornate covered walkways, or arcades, that bypass parades, protect from the weather, and give back door access to all the stores and restaurants of Main Street. This is an idea now being proposed for the American parks too. The west arcade is the Liberty, full of displays, paintings, sketches, models and decor about the Statue of Liberty, its association with France and America, and is on the Frontierland side of the street. The west side, on the Discoveryland side, is dedicated to the original origins of Discoveryland of Jules Verne and HG Wells and has plenty of displays of their inventions and models, and fantastic steam punk posters of city's of the future.

Main Street from Walts
Reaching the hub, again this is a far larger area than usual. Left to right is a "secret" covered shortcut to Frontierland, then the Frontierland entrance proper via fort, Adventureland, Sleeping Beauties castle and Fantasyland, Fantasyland again, and Discoveryland. High Foliage is minimal to give plenty of views of the Dreams! show, more of which later. Main Street has several great dining experiences, including Walts, which occupies the whole upper level of the most north west building. Great food, and no dining plan stopping same day or day before bookings. Several dining rooms are dressed luxuriously, but also are split into each land of the park, and each has dozens of original WDI attraction model and artwork from each lands development. A real goldmine!

Molly Brown
Entering Fantasyland through the explorable fort, we arrive in the mining town of Thunder Mesa. Directly in front is Big Thunder Mountain, which takes some getting used to for first time visitors used to the US parks.
Especially since its a island. Turning left, we pass the riverboat landing (Mark Twain and Molly Brown) to reach Phantom Manor.

The Manor itself looks suitably spooky, to convey the story in all languages. Speaking of which, most attractions are in English or English/French. Cast members speak good to excellent English too. Menus are in both languages. Try to speak French by all means, but it isn't needed in the parks or the resorts.

Phantom Manor
Climbing the hillside of Phantom Manor is the covered queue line, spookily themed. The attraction is very similar in layout to Orlando, with some Anaheim additions too. Entering the foyer, lit by daylight, we are led into one of two stretch rooms which take us back to ground level. A long portrait corridor like the original takes us to the elaborate load hall. By now, the deeper and darker story of Phantom Manor is apparent, based around Melanie Ravenswood, her wedding, her family who mysteriously disappeared and the phantom. The attraction layout is virtually identical to Anaheim, with updated visuals until what should be the graveyard, where the ride falls into an open grave and into hell itself. The whole ride is accompanied by the most gorgeous, eerie orchestral version of the familiar music score and Grim Grinning Ghosts.

Big Thunder Mountain Island
Exiting the manor we can wander the graveyard, next to Rivers of the Far West (America), which seems at one time to have suffered a flash flood right through the middle of it. Wandering back to the main pathway, we walk through a fully blown Wild West town, themed beyond belief. Indeed, inside the Mercantile is the pulley system, mine cars, and hole in the ground of the hidden mine shaft where gold was stolen from Thunder Mountain and taken via underwater tunnels into the store, awakening the mountain gods. One of literally hundreds of back stories and details all over the park. Along the walkway, to the left, is the landside station of Big Thunder Mountain. Again, familiar but different. Boarding via standby or Fastpass bridge (no FP+ thankfully) the large station building is again highly themed. Cars leave one of two platforms and plunge underground to reach the main island ride.

The layout is almost the same as Orlando with some additions and omissions, for example the flooded town is a high speed, elevated waterside track section with a dip "into" the river complete with splash effects. The third lift has many earthquake effects still intact including side tunnels with dynamite explosions, shaking lights, and plenty of smoke. After the crest and the familiar dive to the left, the track then goes back underwater but this time keeps getting faster and steeper, passing through the bat caves until it literally shoots up out of the ground on the mainland again.

Adventure Isle
Walking further north and west we reach the railroad station, and a gradual transition into Adventureland. Adventureland in Paris slowly and cleverly changes into three distinct themes. Lush vegetation is reminiscent of American parks. The centre section is Arabian themed, and the north section is nautical and pirate themed. Swiss Family treehouse and Temple of Peril are in the jungle section. The hub reaches Arabia. Pirates is in the third area. And all are linked by Adventure Isle, a colossal playground of caves, pathways, suspension bridges and the like. Some of the paths offer amazing vistas of the park and are quite remote from a world class theme park.

Indy
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril is an off the shelf 1993 coaster with elaborate theming, added to soak up E ticket junkies after the first seasons opening saw record setting crowds. As such it was rushed in, taking 8 months from concept to opening. It's no Thunder Mountain but is worth a ride, with high speed drops, cars with high centres of gravity, and Disneys first loop.

Like the rest of the park, a ride after dark is a different experience with dramatic show lighting and flame effects.

Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the park highlights. Take Anaheim, add a proper storyline, Orlandos line, and drop an old school E ride budget on it.

Housed inside a war battered fort with the largest show building in the park outside the berm, this has to the best version of the ride. The queue goes on and on, very much like Orlando but with more theming. A single channel load and unload village under palm trees and a night sky is at the end.

Pirates of the Caribbean
Boats leave load and float past the Blue Bayou restaurant. Floating through the middle of a fullsize, shipwrecked pirate ship we then ascend the lift hill. Winches, pulleys and chains appear to haul us uphill, and back in time. At the crest of the lift we see over a balcony the bombardment scene below, before sailing through an animatronic and projected pirate battle, with sails burning and an overhead swinging pirate. Next is the jail scene, with a canonball made hole in the wall from a jailbreak. We drift through the hole, and down the first drop and into the bombardment scene. This time, the guns turn on the boats too. A100 animatronics and advanced effects are everywhere. The market, auction and burning city scenes are larger variations of the original versions (minus Jack Sparrow) but as we sail under the burning city beams we plunge into the second drop, and the towns arsenal just as it explodes. This blows us back to present day, where we sail caves and catacombs like in Disneyland, skeletal pirates reminding us what happened to the pillaging invaders we saw a few minutes earlier. Truly on of the best attractions ever to come from Glendale.

Next time.... Fantasyland and Discoveryland.


 Guest Blogger - Martin Smith

More Pictures:
Adventure Isle
Skull Rock, Adventure Isle
Adventure Isle and Indy

3 comments:

  1. Great article, Martin! Need to fix reference to Fantasyland where you meant Frontierland and you identified both Main Street side tunnels as the west tunnel.

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  2. Amazing pictures and very nicely captured I must say. Disneyland is beautiful. Paris is such a wonderful place and probably the most romantic city in the world. If you love glamor and lights, then Paris is the perfect place for you as it offers all the magic, the fun, and the charm. One should definitely consider traveling to Paris in these vacations. Most of the websites provide special deals and discounts on Paris travel so you can get a great deal on transportation and accommodation facilities.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The restaurant in Pirates of the Caribbean is the Blue Lagoon not Blue Bayou and it's a lovely place to stop for lunch.

    ReplyDelete

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