Nearly two weeks ago I paid my first visit to Disneyland Paris resort, my first ever international theme park. My expectations for the park were somewhat mixed. On one end, I had heard that the superior versions of certain attractions (i.e. phantom manor, space mountain, pirates of the Caribbean) resided at Disneyland Paris. However, I’ve also visited both Walt Disney World and Disneyland a number of times, so I knew that the Paris resort would probably lack some of the charm that the original parks have. Overall, I was just expecting to have a fun and memorable day at the park. I’d say that definitely happened!
We began our day with rope drop at Walt Disney Studios, the second gate of the Disneyland Paris resort. Our reasoning for this was that Crush’s Coaster, one of the park’s main attractions, always as a long line throughout the day. We thought that if we went to this ride first we would be able to avoid a possible longer wait. Sadly, we hadn’t realized that Walt Disney Studios had been open an our earlier for Extra Magic Hours. For those who don’t know, EMH is when a Disney park operates for an extra hour for hotel guests only. This meant that when we arrived at Crush it already had a 45 minute line. The line would probably only get worse throughout the day though, so we decided to just bite the bullet and enter the queue.
Crush’s Coaster ended up being one of my favorite rides of the day, and definitely my favorite at Walt Disney Studios. I was expecting nothing more than a short in-the-dark spinning coaster, but it was actually a well-themed dark ride/coaster experience that felt a lot longer than it was. The dark ride beginning felt like Nemo and Friends at Epcot, but then there was an entire coaster attached to it. The actual coaster portion wasn’t like a short gimmick either; the layout had a lot of intense banked turns and a steep, curved first drop. If I could choose one ride from Disneyland Paris to bring to the states, I think I would have to go with either Crush’s Coaster or another ride I’ll mention later.
After Crush we walked over to the Ratatouille ride (I’m not going to type its entire French name out). This was actually one of the newest areas of the park, and the ride was still very popular with a wait time of about an hour. Instead of jumping in line, we decided to grab a Fastpass for 12:30 pm and go see what else we could ride in the meantime.
As we began to walk through the rest of the park, we quickly realized that the Monday we were visiting on wouldn’t be as quiet as we were expecting. We think this was because we were there during French holiday. The park was very crowded, which was a bit discouraging since we only had one day to do everything we wanted to do. We walked into Toy Story Land to ride RC Racer, but it had a 45 minute wait. After checking the Disneyland Paris app, we realized our best bet was to go ride Rock n’ Roller Coaster, which only had a 15 minute wait.
Rock n’ Roller Coaster was both better and worse than its Florida counterpart. On one end, the track seemed to be a LOT smoother, making for a far more enjoyable coaster experience. However, the theming on the Paris ride just wasn’t quite up to par with Hollywood Studios. The pre-show was pretty lame in comparison to the highly quotable American version, and there weren’t nearly as many fun road signs during the Paris ride. Luckily, there was still some amazing on-board Aerosmith audio.
After RnR, we decided we would head back and wait 45 minutes for RC Racer, because it technically counted as a roller coaster. Before we did that though, we stopped at a food stand to get some Nutella Churro Bites. This food stand was actually part of a larger festival “Le Rendez-Vous Gourmand de Disneyland Paris”, which I’m assuming was their version of the food and wine festival. We didn’t even know this festival was going on prior to our visit, so we didn’t get to enjoy it as much as if we had planned it into our day. It was still a pleasant surprise though.
We then waited 45 minutes for RC Racer, the park’s Toy Story-themed Intamin Surfrider. A Surfrider is a type of coaster that goes back and forth along one incomplete circuit, gaining speed and height as the ride continues. I thought this would be a pretty boring filler attraction for the park, but it ended up being a super fun ride. The hang time you get at the top of each spike is powerful and really makes you float out of your seat for a long time. If only the ride didn’t have over-the-shoulder restraints.
Finally, our Fastpass return time for Ratatouille had arrived. This was probably my most anticipated ride at Walt Disney Studios, but it didn’t end up being my favorite. The trackless dark ride system is really something to be marveled at, as it does provide an incredibly unique ride experience. However, I did feel that there was a bit too heavy of a focus on using screens to tell the story as opposed to actual props. Don’t get me wrong, there was still a good chunk of set pieces throughout the ride, but it felt like all the important parts of the ride needed a screen. Also, not every screen felt like it was blended well into the ride. By that I mean it was painfully obvious that I was staring at a screen as opposed to an atmosphere that I was supposed to be immersed in. It’s still a very good ride overall, it’s just not “best ride in the park” material. That title goes to Crush’s Coaster.
After Ratatouille, we exited Walt Disney Studios and made our way to Disneyland Paris, the resort’s flagship park. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Trip Report where I discuss the rest of our day at Disneyland Paris Resort!
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