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Worlds Apart 3 - Hollywood comes to Europe (Part 2)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

In my last article, we started out on a journey around the Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Resort Paris. This time, we'll conclude our journey by taking a look at the Backlot and Animation Courtyard areas of the park, and by taking a look at the entertainment provided in the park when it first opened in 2002.

Rock 'n' Roller CoasterThe Backlot area is home to the park's most thrilling attractions, and those of you who've visited Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World will recognise the name of the biggest opening day attraction in the park, but not necessarily the theme. Paris' Rock 'n' Roller Coaster is themed to actually being at the Aerosmith concert, rather than the journey there. Instead of boarding super stretch limousines, guests board Soundtrackers, and head through an attraction packed with lasers and lighting effects, all themed to the Aerosmith soundtrack you listen to as you go around the track. Another curious difference is that instead of G-Force Records, Paris' record company is Tour de Force Records.

Moteurs ActionNext to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster is Moteurs Action! Stunt Show Spectacular, which is another attraction that recent visitors to Disney's Hollywood Studios will recognise. The show is the longest in the park at around 40 minutes, and guests enter the attraction through a queue line which passes the actual working maintenance bays for the cars used in the show before being seated for the show. During the show, guests will see more than 40 vehicles take part in several scenes for a fictitious action film, all winding up to an explosive finale. It's interesting to note that several of the pre-recorded sequences shown on the big screen in the Walt Disney World replica of the attraction are from the original version from Disneyland Resort Paris.

ArmageddonThe final attraction in the Backlot area of the park is Armageddon - Les Effets Speciaux. The attraction is based on the film of the same name, and demonstrates the use of special effects in films. The attraction lasts for around 20 minutes, and is a walk-through style attraction, with guests entering in groups. The effects demonstrated include a room where a vacuum is pulled on the entire room, sucking sparks and smoke out of a breach in the space station's hull.

The final area of the studios on opening day was the Animation Courtyard. In this area stands a copy of the Magic Carpets of Aladdin from the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World called Flying Carpets over Agrabah. In the Walt Disney Studios Park version, the attraction features a film-set style backdrop of the desert, and guests are playing the role of extras in a film directed by the Genie, who gives you directions as you fly around in your carpet.

AnimagiqueNext door to this in Studio 3 is another unique show to the park called Animagique, which features Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and is a black-light show featuring brightly coloured costumes and props, which glow under the black-light. Donald is getting himself into trouble again by doing exactly the opposite of what Mickey tells him, and opening the film vault door, letting out several scenes from Disney's classic films, including The Jungle Book and The Lion King.

Finally, the last attraction to open with the park itself is The Art of Disney Animation. The attraction is very similar to the Magic of Disney Animation at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and starts off with a pre-show room where guests can see one of Disney's Multiplane Cameras, and several interactive animation exhibits, including some Zoetropes, and other similar things. After a short video hosted by Roy E. Disney, guests move on into a theatre where they're shown a short film consisting of many clips from Disney animated films set to the classic music from Disney's films. Following this, guests then move on to a second theatre where they see a show identical to that in the Florida park. The show is presented in French, however each seat has a set of headphones guests may put on to hear the show in their own language.

At the end of the Art of Disney Animation, guests can take part in the Animation Academy as well as several other drawing and animation related activities, including trying to sync their voice to an animated film and making their own Zoetrope cartoons.

So that concludes our tour of the park's attractions as they were on opening day. As for dining options, the studios has very few when compared to Disneyland Park next door. There is one restaurant in the Production Courtyard called The Rende-vous des Stars, with an art-deco themed self-service restaurant.Earful Tower from inside the park There are also several Studio Catering Co. carts around the park where snacks can be purchased, and The Backlot Express, where counter-service food can be purchased. Studio 1 at the front of the park also contains a handful of counter service areas.

And that's how it all began. The park took three years to build, and 590 million euros to build. It was Disney's tenth theme park, and is roughly half the size of the adjacent Disneyland Park. Shortly after the park opened, it received it's own parade. Disney's Cinema Parade celebrated the magic of Disney's films and ran until early 2008. Next week, I'll be taking a look at the parade and looking to the future at what may be coming next for the studios.