Monday, July 1, 2013

Disney Studios Paris - Italy and France trip Day 11 part 1

Jacob, Ruston, Theresa and I are all together in Paris and ready for our second day at the Disney parks. Today we're going to be hanging out at what some consider the worst Disney park ever, Disney Studios! We'll judge and see for ourselves!

We're really in no rush to get to the parks today, so T and I woke up with the alarm at 9:30am this morning.  We met Ruston and Jacob for breakfast at 10am and it actually was better than we were expecting. They had OJ, Apple juice, milk, coffee, hot chocolate and tea, plus lots of yummy croissants, pan au chocolate, fruit, ham, cheeses, etc.  Even better was that it was included in the hotel price.

We knew we'd need to stock up on snacks and drinks since we probably would be getting back late again. The front desk said there is a grocery store in the mall next door. We didn’t see it the day before, but were willing to try again. It was much less busy than yesterday, thankfully. We found a humongous supermarket inside and realize we missed it yesterday because there were grates covering all the openings.  I suppose they’re not open on Sunday.  
This place was like a Super Walmart and more. They even have scanner you can take with you to scan your purchases while you put them in the cart, and when you’re done, they upload the data from your scanner, you pay and you’re good to go.  Why don’t we have cool stuff like this?  One of my favorite things to check out is the snack aisle in foreign countries. While we were in Italy, T said there needs to be a balsamic vinegar chip.  We found that here (though later when we tried it, it didn’t taste much like balsamic vinegar). We also found a mustard and pickle flavor chip.  Weird.  

Here's our delicious haul. I think we're set now.

A stop back at the hotel to drop off everything and we’re off to the parks by 12:25am.  The RER came within a minute of us getting down to the platform. Just one stop and we're at the Disneyland. We got through security (no problem with my tripod) and were off to see Disney Studios. It’s around 12:35 and we just got in to the parks. 
Since this park has mostly shows, we start with Cinemagic.  It’s a fun little show staring Martin Short going through different classic movies. I think it’s awesome how they’ve updated it with newer titles like Lord of the Rings, Toy Story 3, Avatar and others. Not sure why they’d choose Black Swan to put in the show since it’s a little racy, but that’s their choice I guess. 

The Armageddon stunt show was next.  Pregnant women weren’t allowed to ride, so T found a bench while Ruston, Jacob and I went. 

A recreation of the Armadillo on a rocky asteroid landscape outside the special effects stage.

Jacob and Ruston are taking the "stay behind the yellow line" quite literally.

The show was pretty cool with lots of loud noises and fire. 

I'm not exactly sure why T can't ride. It was pretty tame except for a couple times when the floor dropped an inch or so. Maybe that's enough. 

Jacob was Singin in the Rain.

As was Ruston.

Lunch was next around 2:15pm.  We ate at the Backlot which has an interesting theme. The main section was based on the 2006 movie High School Musical, while a small section was based on Pirates of the Caribbean. I know which section I want to eat in.  
Menu-wise, nothing was standing out. I had a ham and cheese sandwich.  Ruston, T and Jacob decided to split a sandwich, salad, and Caesar salad wrap between them.  

Walking with our food over to the pirates section, the whole area was a bit dirty so Ruston made sure to wipe the table off before we sat down. I don't know if they just don't have enough people working right now, but there are trays and trash on a bunch of tables. 

During lunch, T and I got to witness something that was funny/gross. The tables in this section are all bar height with tall chairs. A kid who was maybe 6 had an ice cream cone and was climbing up to the table. He set his cone on its side on the table and while he was climbing up, bumped the table, causing the ice cream to fall and splat on the floor. He just climbed down from the chair and pushed the ice cream back onto the cone. Eww. Then he picked up the pieces of cone that broke off and ate them piece by piece. Eww! Lastly where the ice cream had hit, it left a gob of ice cream on the floor.  He smeared his hand through it to wipe it up, then licked his hand clean. EWW!!!

Next it was time to see Animagique.  

Our seats weren’t the best since we arrived just a few minutes before showtime (thanks to Baby Flowers and T’s small bladder). 

I had fun seeing it again. I really think it's the best show here at this park. Ruston was still fighting jet lag and was asleep before it started.  When he’d hear a new segment, he’d open his eyes to see what was going on, then fall asleep again. 

The Pixar section of the park is close. That's where we head next. We see the mini Cars land and thank our lucky stars that we have the big Cars Land back home. 

To Infinity and Beyond!

Some rides back here have crazy wait times, like RC race car with a 60 minute wait, or the Green Army Men parachutes with a 30 minute wait. I suppose that's what happens though when you have a park that has mostly shows. 

The Pixar ball is among the oversize toys decorating the land.

Lucky for Jacob and I, the Slinky dog only has a 5 minute wait. Before you know it, we were on, and we got the very front seat (though they’re all the same pretty much). The ride itself isn't anything special. It's just a carnival style ride with a Toy Story overlay. It goes in a circle and that's it.

We wanted to ride the studio tram tour, but this is the second time now we’ve gone to the entrance and they’ve closed the line and stopped letting people queue. They suggest we go watch the parade instead.  

It’s right about 4pm and the parade is going to be going by any minute. T, to no one’s surprise, has to use the restroom again, so she takes off.  

Jacob and I wait by the ropes with a decent view and at 4:04:30pm Goofy walks by to lead off the Stars and Cars parade. Based on the time stamps on my photos, the last car with Mickey and Minnie pass at 4:07:56pm.  
This is about how fast it felt.

We just witnessed what the guide calls a “Don’t Miss” parade in three and a half minutes.  It was basically different cars themed to the characters riding in them.  No elaborate floats or anything like that. T came back from the restroom and was like “It’s over already?” This has to be one of the reasons it’s considered the worst Disney park. They don’t spend money to do anything impressive.  

Alright here's those pictures again, but you can actually process them. Goofy leads the way.

First up is Donald and Daisy in their classic movie themed car.

Snow White and Dopey follow. The Magic Mirror frame is on the back of the car.

Next up are Mary Poppins and Bert riding their carrousel horses while riding a car. On the front of the car is a penguin.

A seahorse leads Ariel, Flounder and Sebastian on their ocean themed car. I liked the paint job on this one a lot, as it looked like rippling water. Bubbles also blew from the sides.

Mulan and Mushu were next.

The next flaming roadster held some villains. Gaston, the Wicked Queen and Cruella all posed as they drove by. Gaston's flesh colored sleeves were loose and baggy though. Are there supposed to be muscles under there?

Lilo and Stitch drove by in a woodie with a couple of surfboard and even some palm trees.

Woody and Jessie followed in a model of Andy's bed. Mr and Mrs Potato Head crowned the front of the car.

Sulley was next in this very plain red car.

Remy and Emile drove by in their kitchen car. On the hood, a plate of ratatouille is being served.

And as the grand finale of the parade, Mickey and Minnie drive by in their car decorated with film strips.

And that's the parade. No stopping of the cars, no long musical numbers or interaction with the crowd. Just a quick drive by of the characters. It’s also terrible watching the parade and breathing someone else’s cigarettes, even though we're nowhere near a smoking section. Some people are so inconsiderate. I also witnessed a guy unwrapping a new pack, taking the plastic wrap off and just throwing it directly on the ground when a trash can was 10 feet away. Some of these people just have no respect for their own park.

Having both bought sodas earlier in the day, both Ruston and Jacob had receipts that printed a voucher for a free drink after a certain time, but only from a particular location. The only place in this park that offered it was in the Studio commissary area. While the drink was free, they paid for it in time.  It probably took 10 minutes to order and get to the front to pick up their fountain beverage. 
Theresa and I spent the time looking through the map to see what else we hadn’t done yet and marking off the ones we had. Sad that this park only has 15 attractions. DL Paris has at least that many places just to eat. 

Time to grab a group shot.

The four of us pose for a picture in front of the Partners statue. We supposed Walt is looking out over to Tokyo Disneyland and imagining better things happening over there. Someone needs to clean off the bird poop from poor Walt’s head. 

It’s close to 5pm and now Jacob and I can use our fastpasses. We split with T and Ruston and head over to Aerosmith’s Rockin Roller Coaster. On the way, we pass the Armageddon Armadillo vehicle and see kids who have climbed over the railing and are playing on the rocks getting close to the vehicle, along with their parents who are taking pictures of them doing it. Seriously?

Hooray! We're going on a thrill ride!

The setup is similar to the ride in Florida, though the pre show is different.

We ask for and receive the very front row. The scenery through the ride is a little different than the RRC in Florida, and the whole building is a lot more lit up.  While you’re going, you can see the track all around you, instead of having the lights come on once you get to that section.  I think my speakers were broken in my seats because I could barely hear music while we were going. Does it sound like I'm complaining a lot at this park?

Our next fastpasses were for Tower of Terror. 

It’s 5:18pm and our fastpasses aren’t valid until 5:30pm.  They’re pretty strict about it over here too.  We queued with the rest of the waiting people until it was our time.  It was interesting watching Rod Serling from the Twilight Zone give the introduction to the ride in French.  

We make our way to the boiler room and queue up.  

The ride was fun, though a straight copy of the DCA one. 

The park closes at 7pm tonight, and the last ride I want to make sure we do it the Crush Coaster. It’s 5:55 now, and they’re showing a 70 minute wait time. We hop in line anyway and tell T and Ruston we’ll see them at DL later. The line is backed up out past the entrance to the ride. We’ve been in line for 20 minutes and barely moved 20 yards.  I sense some shenanigans going on. We can see the coaster is going and not broken down, we’re just not sure why we’re not moving.  

Eventually we determine that they’ve blocked off the queue while they are shortening the further queues.  I think it also makes the line look artificially longer if it’s backed up past the entrance, and people are discouraged to ride. This whole area in front of us moved, while we stood in one place. 

At 6:42 we’re at the front of the queue. I’ve been telling Jacob we need to be in the car facing forward or else we’ll be missing half the show. There is a whole beginning section that is like a dark ride almost. If you’re facing backwards, you don’t see anything. No characters moving on the projection screens, forests of floating lights, clusters of jellyfish, nothing.  

As we got closer to the front, it was apparent we were going to be the 2nd group of 2 and would be placed in the back. Time to delay ourselves a little bit. “Hey Jacob, I want to get your picture right here in front of this sign. Oh go ahead and pass us, I want to take a photo of my friend.” Having successfully avoided the back row, we were then assigned the front row along with all the benefits that come with it. 

The ride is really cool and one of the only saving graces of this park. As soon as you start the coaster portion, it drops you down a hill, and we happened to be facing backwards, which is a cool way to go, since normally on a coaster you’re always facing forward. Being prone to motion sickness, Ruston was good to skip this one. It’s a little crazy spinning with no way to guess where you’re going. Most of the time though, my face and head were covered with hair that wasn’t my own. The girls behind us must have had really long hair and it kept blowing all over me.  

We texted T and learned that they hadn’t made it to the other park yet. They ended up just squeezing on to the tram tour before they closed it off again. T said they were riding with a little kid beside them and when it got scary, he grab her arm and leg and buried himself in them. Cute!
On their way, they walked through the shops and happened upon one with discounted merchandise.  Combine that with Ruston’s 25% cast member discount and we’re talking serious savings. 

I always like seeing characters that don't get much recognition. Tod and Copper from The Fox and the Hound are here in plush form.

While everyone is finishing up their shopping, I get a chance to take a few pictures of the entrance.
Sorcerer Mickey welcomes you to the Walt Disney Studios.

Posing with the Earffel Tower in the background.

And... I must be taking a little while with my photos. Everyone is sitting waiting for me.

Time to eat! Having been a little disappointed with the offerings in Disneyland, we explore Downtown Disney. We'll continue the story there.

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