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Happy 9th Birthday Walt Disney Studios Park!
DisneyDan  Wednesday, March 16, 2011 11:59:00 AM
Today is the 9th anniversary of the grand opening the Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris.

When the park opened on this day in 2002 at the then named Disneyland Resort Paris, it featured just nine attractions, even though the guide map would have you believe it was eleven! Even now they include Studio One as an attraction (but then most Magic Kingdom parks usually include City Hall… but that’s another story!), but the other attraction was not to be found. Number nine was completely missing. A ploy perhaps to encourage people to think there was more than there really was?

With no Hollywood Boulevard, no Tower of Terror, no Playland or Toon Studio, Walt Disney Studios was a grey, open concourse of scattered attractions. To its credit those attractions were amongst the best that Disney had done in a long time. Animagique and Cinemagique wooing and wowing people, Rock ‘n’ Roller adding that thrilling edge, and the whimsy of the Flying Carpets, amongst other attractions all added to the diversity that the Studios had to offer. But the fans were disappointed, and so they should be. Beyond the beautifully executed Studio One, the park was nothing more than just a street with some buildings.

Disneyland Paris Christmas 2006

Armageddon stands alone on an empty street (above), while Studio One stands majestic (below).

Exploring inside Disney Studio 1

Exploring inside Disney Studio 1

As time passed, people began to wonder what kind of future would lie ahead for the compact park, but in 2007 their disappointment was finally turned to excitement as the park opened two brand new attractions in what was a newly labelled sub area – Toon Studio – Crush’s Coaster and Cars Race Rally. Cars Race Rally turned out to be a Cars themed Alice ride involving some hair raising near misses, but Crush’s Coaster would go on to become one of Disney’s most popular attractions ever. Even to this day people wait before park open to get in, and at park open the mad dash to the attraction to avoid the regular two hour lines beats even the Japanese’s insane park opening feats of super human speed! (You would have had to have read my Tokyo trip report to get that one)

Outside of Crush's Coaster

Exploring Radiator Springs  - Casa della Tires

Today the park stands as a testament to that age old Disney saying “if you can dream it, you can do it”. And do it they did. The park now has a total of sixteen attractions, the same number as Hollywood Studios in Florida (if you exclude the perpetually closed Sounds Dangerous and the two-night-a-week Fantasmic). The one thing that the Studios in Paris still does lack though, despite the same number of attractions, is the consistent theming. Maybe in the future with the addition of the much anticipated Ratatouille ride, there will come some water features and more trees and greener open spaces.


Moving to entertainment and parades, from the park’s opening year the park featured the Disney Cinema Parade which showcased film classics such as The Lion King, Mary Poppins and 101 Dalmatians. Ending a couple of years ago, the park was paradeless for a while, but later received Stars ‘n’ Cars from Hollywood Studios in Florida. The parade was altered to better fit the Paris park, and now included a rather large scale show stop right at the heart of the park.

Disneyland Paris Christmas 2006

Disneyland Paris Christmas 2006

The above two images show the old Cinema Parade, and below the new Stars 'n' Cars.

Disney's Stars 'n' Cars

Disney's Stars n Cars

Other character features that have come and gone include the briefly appearing Chicken Little meet ‘n’ greet area, the Incredibles meet ‘n’ greet, Mickey’s caravan and the much loved Toon Train.


Me and Mr Incredible

Disneyland Paris Christmas 2006

The Toon Train

Meeting Chip n Dale aboard the Toon Train

Other random characters have come and gone too, from Singing in the Rain Goofy, Bellhop Goofy and the Ratatouille stars.

Meeting Singing in the Rain Goofy

Meeting Bellhop Goofy again!

Meeting Remy

Meeting Emile

The park also once featured a smaller morning parade, Good Morning Walt Disney Studios. This was pretty short lived, as was the popular Catch the Wave show and all the old entertainment happenings such as the CineFolies. Maybe one day we’ll see a return to these more random happenings across the park, as things like that certainly add more personality.

Good Morning Walt Disney Studios - Minnie Mouse

Wave Party

Two restaurants also were re-themed over the years. The former Rendez-Vous des Stars (now simply Restaurant des Stars) restaurant became the hottest place across the parks when it premiered the brand new living character technology Chef Remy. The Backlot Express, which became Blockbuster Cafe, was also given a new look, and now has two distinct rooms from two of Disney's biggest franchises – Pirates of the Caribbean, and High School Musical. Depending on the day and season, you can even meet Jack Sparrow and High School Musical Mickey and Minnie at the restaurant.

Chef Remy

Meeting Jack Sparrow

Meeting High School Musical Mickey Mouse

Meeting High School Musical Minnie Mouse

The addition of the Hollywood Boulevard area and Playland certainly has added depth to the terminally bland park, and has reignited the fans interest in once what was dubbed Disneyland Paris’s biggest failure. Lines at the new Playland attractions are nearly two hours every day, Crush still pulls in the numbers too, and with special events such as Terrorific adding a new chilling dimension the park is well on its way to becoming the hit that the Imagineers hoped for. The park’s more recent success has been so overwhelming in fact, that they have extended the main gates to include new extra turnstiles at either side!

Rex, and he even talks!

RC Racer

Terrorific Night 2 at Walt Disney Studios Park

Of course though it still has a long way to go, but for now we should celebrate the park’s ninth birthday, by remembering all the things that have come and gone, and to the bright future that lies ahead. Happy ninth birthday Walt Disney Studios Park!

Disney Bros Plaza
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