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Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour


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So June rolled around and it was time for another adventure, destination Europe. I was more than a little excited for this trip, as I'd be hitting up quite a few destination parks for the first time - Disneyland Paris, Phantasialand, Efteling, Europa Park, and plenty of others. On top of that the itinerary included some highly anticipated coasters, like Expedition GeForce, Troy, and Wildfire. But it's a long way from Melbourne to Paris, so to break up the journey I stopped in Abu Dhabi to check out some parks.

 

Ferrari World

If nothing else, Ferrari World is notable for having the world's fastest rollercoaster. And at almost 150 mph, Formula Rossa certainly delivers on that promise. Completely enclosed from the desert heat, the park has been described as a giant Epcot pavilion... frankly, that's very unfair to Epcot. To be honest, for the most part Ferrari World as it stands is a bit boring. The designers have gone for a kind of modern "sophisticated" aesthetic, which in reality makes the place feel sterile and uninviting. The giant grey roof doesn't let much natural light in, giving the whole building a somewhat gloomy atmosphere. The (remaining) opening day attractions are already pretty dated - I'm talking out-of-sync simulators with aging projections. Yuck.

 

So all that said the good news is that they are taking steps to improve the place, and enhance the theming beyond bland white boxes with ride signs slapped on them. One area of the park has already been re-worked into a relatively convincing Italian village, and the newer rides are of a quality I'd expect from a Universal attraction. There's still a long way to go but at least they're going in the right direction.

 

Some thoughts on each of the coasters:

- Formula Rossa is very very fast but that's about it. It doesn't really do much with the speed (there's no airtime or fun twisty bits) but the launch is fun. It was much better in the front row, the back jackhammered something awful the whole way around.

- Flying Aces is excellent, I have no strong feelings about whether it's better than Skyrush but they are both great rides. It doesn't lose momentum at any point, and the surprise inversion at the end is a nice touch.

- Fiorano GT Challenge, I don't even know if this counts as a coaster (or two). Launch, brake, corner, launch, brake, corner... yawn. If you've ever been a passenger with a learner driver this is pretty much the same experience.

 

OK, moving on to the photos. Some notes - I ended up visiting twice, as Formula Rossa was closed the first day I was there. Luckily I had enough time on my return leg to re-visit the park between flights, anyway full disclosure the photos are from two different days about a month apart. During my second visit it was also Ramadan, which is a time of year when Muslims don't eat, drink, or partake in leisure activities during daylight hours. Needless to say, the park was pretty quiet!

 

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Checking out my plane at Sydney airport. 14 hour flight to Abu Dhabi!

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I generally slum it in the back with the plebs, but was lucky enough to score a business seat on this flight. Hooray!

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There were even "stars" on the roof, which was a bit weird at three in the afternoon. And that is the last airplane photo for at least a few updates. Promise.

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Next morning, woke up in the desert. I stayed on Yas Island, because that's where Ferrari World is. The hotel was right across from the Yas Marina F1 circuit.

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There is a giant mall next to Ferrari World. It houses FunWorks, a little FEC with a ride that kind of looks like it might be a coaster. Anyway because this place opens an hour earlier than the big park, we checked it out.

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Yolo Works. A better name might be "Seasick: The Ride". So this is an oval track and the car spins. Note the OTSRs, obviously necessary for a ride this intense. Unsurprisingly there are only two of these in the world, the other at Sochi Park Adventureland in Russia.

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Entrance to Ferrari World. The opening "crowd" was all of two dozen people. No rope drop here.

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The structure housing the park is huge, and impressive in its own way, but the lack of natural light makes it feel like a airplane hangar. Weather enthusiasts, those are actual clouds forming inside the building!

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So much of this park seems weirdly temporary and unplanned. They have dancing cars on a stick, inside a hedge maze. What's not to love?

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The three coasters aren't actually inside the building, so you have to head through these airlocks into the heat.

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The view on the way to the coaster. At least they aren't using the shipping containers as theming.

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Too short/old/scared to ride? Enjoy this comfy, colourful hose-pipe bench!

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Loading station. Fortunately both sides were running, so I can confirm they are both equally uninteresting. I guess the brief with this coaster was to make something that resembled a car race. Unfortunately that doesn't make for a great ride. The design is a bit weird too, there are a few launches that seem to go straight into brake runs, so you never get that great sensation of speed compared to, say, Test Track or Radiator Springs Racers.

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In 2018, that giant building in the background will be Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi.

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Scuderia Challenge is another good concept, poorly executed. The idea is that eight people get to race each other in real time. The simulators are on a motion base, use a steering wheel and pedals, you even have a harness-style seatbelt to make it feel more authentic.

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Unfortunately it's a little bit too realistic. The simulation is very accurate, which also makes it less accessible for casual theme park guests. Most people (myself included) seemed to end up spinning or crashing out a lot, so basically the challenge was just to stay on the course, never mind winning!

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There were a couple of bigger simulators where you could drive a "real" Ferrari or F1 car, with a 180-degree screen. This looked cool but I skipped it, partly because it was an upcharge, and partly because I was so terrible at the other one.

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Speed of Magic is a Spiderman-style motion simulator dark ride. The main difference between the two being that Spiderman is good.

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The story (spoiler alert) is that a father gives his son a set keys to his new Ferrari (of course) to look after. An irritating cartoon character then steals the keys so we have to help the kid go reclaim them. This adventure goes "where no Ferrari has gone before" - volcanoes, the north pole, underwater etc. I have a pretty low threshold for enjoying dark rides but Speed of Magic managed to slide under anyway. Nope.

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This show was actually decent, two guys trying to beat the record time for changing a tire. Hilarity ensues. The park could definitely use more of this kind of live entertainment to help inject some energy into the open areas.

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Bell'Italia is an Autopia-style driving ride. The idea is that you're driving through little villages throughout Italy, but the themeing is kind of sparse so it's mostly rocks with a few trees on them. If anyone's familiar with Treasure Hunters at Universal Singapore, it's got that kind of "why is there nothing to look at?" vibe.

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The most exciting part of Bell'Italia is the blue light disco tunnel, because it's near the end.

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Coppa Di Sicilia is a short documentary about Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the company. Not bad, a good diversion at least.

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This is essentially Soarin' Over Italy. The test seat is there because this thing has the tightest restraints known to man. What Disney accomplish with a seatbelt, Huss require a big ass lapbar. Anyway this was another one of those "could have been much better" rides. The film wasn't that great to begin with, but more importantly the seat motion didn't really match the screen, which is the whole point of the ride!

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So I've mentioned a few times that the overall theming was pretty nonexistent. The park seem to be addressing this one area at a time, starting with this corner.

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Looks pretty great, now they just need a bit of music or entertainment to add some life into the little town.

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This next ride, Made in Maranello, promises to take us inside a Ferrari factory to see how the cars are made!

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Hmm... those vehicles look familiar...

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I didn't mind this ride. It was kind of half-informative, half-sales pitch.

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They talked a lot about how much care goes into each car. I almost expected to find myself in a Ferrari dealership at the exit.

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This hallway was pretty cool, with projections on each side demonstrating the manufacturing process.

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Of course, the park has a Ferrari museum where you can go and check out some of their cars.

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This one can't be a Ferrari. It's not red!

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Not just the wheel, but even the tire valve cap has a Ferrari logo on it!

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RED is Ferrari World's headline acrobatic/stunt show. It's a fairly big production but was inside a theatre that seemed very temporary (moveable seating, curtains instead of walls, that kind of thing). Perhaps the park has plans for something more permanent in future.

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Acrobatic shows are all much the same to me, but this was entertaining enough.

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Some of the stunts were pretty impressive though.

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The centrepiece of the closing number is an F1 car. Because Ferrari!

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Let's take a look at the World's Fastest Coaster.

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It's pretty big.

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As I said before, apart from the speed there's not much too this ride. Not that it's a bad coaster, but just that it doesn't really have any other notable characteristics.

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The front row is a lot of fun though, you get the full "I'm going so fast my face is stretched back" thing going on.

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Mandatory goggles for every rider.

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If anyone managed a second ride in the space of fifteen minutes I'd be impressed. The park was dead so they were only running one train, and dispatch times weren't great.

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I only tried the front and back rows. Back row was quite bouncy due to the speed, I kind of wonder if that's always been the case.

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Arty shot of viewing area.

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Formula Rossa is definitely adrenaline-inducing, you don't feel it slowing down until the brake run.

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Six and a half thousand feet of speed!

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Random fact: water is sprayed onto the chassis after every ride, to help cool it down.

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Benno's Great Race was a fun surprise. It's a shooting, trackless dark ride where you help a mouse win a race.

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This only opened earlier in the year, and has a noticeably higher budget than other attractions in the park. Each rider gets a wrench to use in the various activity sections.

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There's a good mix of physical sets and screens to bring these characters to life.

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One thing this ride does really well is that it uses the activity sections to move the story along, which isn't something you typically see on a shooting dark ride. For example in this scene, you have to squash tomatoes to clear a path for the cars. The whole thing is very well executed, and definitely makes for a more entertaining experience.

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Flying Aces is the other new hotness at this park. It's clear from the entry that they've put some money into this ride.

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The queue alone is very well detailed.

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If follows a "WW1 flying ace" theme, and is a huge departure from the standard switchbacks found in the rest of the park.

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There's even an Indiana Jones-style safety video before you ride.

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The record-breaking (ahem) lift hill.

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Non-inverting loop!

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Flying through sunset!

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Check out Yas Waterworld in the background (more on that in a bit!)

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I haven't had enough rides on Skyrush to make any kind of reasonable comparison, just that they are both really fun rides.

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Ferrari World is not too far from the airport - I think I saw more planes fly overhead than coaster trains come through while I was out taking pictures!

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Flying Aces does have a couple of decent airtime hills, especially if you're in the back row.

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Hairtime!

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Just in case you didn't notice the giant coaster behind you, I guess...

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Can you spot the second credit in this photo?

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The single inversion is right at the end of the ride. Perhaps it was the jetlag, but this took me by surprise almost every time. It made for a great finish!

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3 seats occupied on the whole train - did I mention it was a quiet day?

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Some bonus theming sitting outside the ride.

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More random bits of scenic. I assume they're planning to use these eventually...

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Fortunately the park will have even more new additions over the next year. This is definitely a good thing, especially with IMG and Motiongate opening down the road in Dubai.

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First up will be an Intamin shuttle.

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The indoor part of the ride looked relatively complete, there was just some painting going on.

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The shuttle "spike" will be outdoors, in a space formerly occupied by the drop tower.

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Ready to be connected to the spike. It'll be interesting to see how they make this work, as you'd think a permanent hole in the wall there might limit their ability to keep the park cool.

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This giant piece of track is the outdoor section of Mission Ferrari, which will be a Gringotts-style SFX coaster.

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One for the footer enthusiasts. This coaster was originally slated to open in 2015, but seems to have been delayed.

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Lots of construction going on behind these doors, supposedly including some tilt and drop track sections.

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Hopefully it won't be too much longer before this ride can be, uh, rode.

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Close up of the Dynamic Attractions track, yes it is a bit dusty.

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So we also decided to check out Yas Waterworld, coincidentally on the first day of Ramadan. Crowds were not an issue.

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No photos because it's a water park, but we had an awesome time. This place is superbly themed with a really good collection of slides. The single-tube constrictor was particularly great. And even better, there were no lines for anything! So I highly recommend visiting this place, especially if you're in Abu Dhabi at that time of year.

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Bonus photo of the Warner Bros park building. This is slated to open in 2018, obviously still a lot to do if they're going to meet that date. That's all from Abu Dhabi, next stop is on a whole different continent, at Disneyland Paris!

Edited by azza29
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Awesome update. Thanks for sharing.

 

Out of curiosity, how are crowd levels in general at this park? I see them expanding rapidly and dumping a ton of money into new attractions but every update I see shows the park on a completely dead day.

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^It might be busier on weekends and during holiday periods, but there can't have been any more than a couple of hundred guests on the days I was there. They were still staffed up though: Flying Aces had five ride ops, plus a greeter, a grouper, a supervisor, and two people manning the loose item storage booth!

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Great start of your GET! Trust me you don't want to be there even if it's remotely crowded. A 15 minute line at your average park will take 30 minutes here.

How did Ace's restraints/ airtime compare to skyrush's?

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Awesome update. Thanks for sharing.

 

Out of curiosity, how are crowd levels in general at this park? I see them expanding rapidly and dumping a ton of money into new attractions but every update I see shows the park on a completely dead day.

 

I was just thinking the same thing, I've never seen a picture of the park where it looks remotely busy. Maybe once the enw parks on Yas Island open the place will pick up but I'd be curious what their annual attendance was.

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What was your impression on the vekoma coaster inside Yas?

 

I'm really intrigued to see the Flying Aces train complete with the wings and tail gunners.

 

Since it is an Intamin, did the shuttle look like the outside spike could gain back a drop tower style ride using the supports. Intamin, seems to love that idea when they can do it.

 

Glad to see them shift the theming to more of "Life Inside of Italy" instead of "Life inside a Dealership."

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Awesome update. Thanks for sharing.

 

Out of curiosity, how are crowd levels in general at this park? I see them expanding rapidly and dumping a ton of money into new attractions but every update I see shows the park on a completely dead day.

 

The park is a ghost town except Fridays.

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How did Ace's restraints/ airtime compare to skyrush's?

 

The handful of rides I've had on Skyrush were a few years ago so it's not all that fresh in my mind, but I would say the restraints are about the same on both (i.e. fine) and Flying Aces has some slightly stronger airtime moments.

 

 

What was your impression on the vekoma coaster inside Yas?

 

Since it is an Intamin, did the shuttle look like the outside spike could gain back a drop tower style ride using the supports. Intamin, seems to love that idea when they can do it.

 

Bandit Bomber is about the same thrill level as the other Vekoma family inverts, but it has some fun interactions with the slide tower structure. The "water bomb" effect was a bit hit and miss, but the place was empty so at that point we were just trying to dump water on the pavement.

 

Given that they just removed a drop tower to build this new ride I'd be surprised if the park adds another to the impulse coaster. I didn't notice anything to suggest that was the plan either.

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Weather enthusiasts

You rang?

those are actual clouds forming inside the building!

Love it! So strange. That building's so huge it's got its own weather patterns.

 

Great start to the report, and nice to see a comprehensive photo TR on a park I know very little about. Crazy how much the theme park industry is changing right now in the UAE.

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I know I didn't just read a caption where you spoke ill of Treasure Hunters!?!!?! THE GREATEST RIDE EVER!!!!

Controversial I know, but I stand by my comments.

 

Crazy how much the theme park industry is changing right now in the UAE.

I can't think of any other case where so much construction has been concentrated in one place, in such a short space of time. By the time the Dubai Expo rolls around in 2020 (and assuming IMG lasts that long) they will have gone from one major park to seven in the space of four years!

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Awesome TR so far, Aaron! Spot-on comments!

 

Sorry I missed you when you were in town - my travel schedule has been crazy the last 2 years.

Really looking forward to seeing you next time you're in the region. Trust me, Nolan and I will have a lot of VERY cool stuff to show off!

 

 

And how can you even begin to compare Bell'Italia to Treasure Hunters...which is THE MOST INCREDIBLE ATTRACTION AT USS!

Seriously. My greatest disappointment with Dubai has NOT being able to bring the magic and incredible special effects of Treasure Hunters to DPR!

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They talked a lot about how much care goes into each car. I almost expected to find myself in a Ferrari dealership at the exit.

 

That would be one-up on the exit to Test Track, which looks like a Chevy dealership.

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Disneyland Paris

The first stop once I made it to Paris was Europe's very own Disneyland. This would be the last "new" Disney resort for me (at least until Shanghai opened two weeks later) and while I was looking forward to visiting, I'd heard a lot of mixed reports about the place. I was also well aware of the park's extensive refurbishment schedule, which meant that quite a few attractions were behind construction walls and would need to be saved for a future visit. I spent about two and a half days across the two parks, which was plenty of time to get everything done (and then some!).

 

All things considered, I had a good visit. Disneyland Paris is probably the best looking of the "Magic Kingdom"-style Disney parks, with its Jules Verne-inspired Discoveryland, enormous Adventureland, and stunning castle. Every single day we were there was capped with the excellent Disney Dreams projection/fireworks/water spectacular. Paris' Phantom Manor and Pirates were equally great. The "which Disney park has the best X ride?" feature thing has been done to death, so I'll just say that they were both unique, and in a good way!

 

As for Walt DIsney Studios, umm... the new Paris area is really great, and while the Ratatouille ride isn't quite up to the level of similar attractions like Mystic Manor or Pooh, it's still quite good. The adjoining restaurant, Remy's, was probably the highlight of that park for me - a fun themed dining experience with delightful staff and great food. Tower of Terror aside, the rest of the park is pretty sad. Much of the place feels like a generic park that's licensed some Disney properties, and then built everything at a discount (the fact that Disney don't actually charge separate admission for this park speaks volumes).

 

So overall I enjoyed my time at Disneyland Paris, and would definitely head back if given the opportunity (especially because there are at least four major rides to check out for the first time!). Anyway, onto the pictures!

 

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After taking a redeye flight from Abu Dhabi to Frankfurt, I took a small commuter jet to Paris, landing at the massive, oft-maligned Charles de Gaulle airport.

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The short flight was on an Embraer E170, always like flying in these!

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Once I found Jeff at the airport we took the bus to our hotel, Disney's Hotel Santa Fe. This is one of the "value" on-property options, and it had a less-than-subtle Cars theme.

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The hotel at night. It's very much motel-style accommodation, and was reasonable value. But it was also pretty crowded in the common areas, and kind of generally noisy. I think next time I'll shell out for one of the nicer resorts instead.

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If Disney ever built a prison, it would look like this.

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It was about a 20 minute walk from the hotel to the park, via Downtown Disney. All the usual brands are there - Starbucks, Rainforest Cafe, Lego. I did get the impression that it hasn't changed at all since the park opened in 1992, so there's definitely a somewhat dated aesthetic.

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Let's start at Walt Disney Studios, home of movie magic!

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Ooh, fountain!. And yes, some of these photos were taken on different days (I apologise for the lack of continuity).

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So the entrance is supposed to look like a movie studio sound stage, but I can't help but think it seems more like a slightly upmarket mall instead.

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Inside is a "main street" of sorts. Interesting idea, but I barely saw anyone checking out the shops or restaurants - most people just made a beeline for the doors at the other end.

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It's Hollywood, in France!

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Let's rip this bandaid off first. For what is supposed to be the headliner ride, the Studio Tram Tour is just awful. I never saw the one in Orlando but if it was as bad as this I'm not surprised they closed it down.

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Prop car from a 20 year old film should be the first warning sign...

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When the most recent movie poster is from 2003, you can tell they've just kind of given up.

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Hey kids, check out this prop from last century!

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90% of the tour is this - props that look like they're waiting for someone's yard sale.

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Truck + poles + scaffolding = theming!

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Here we have the one good part of the tram tour - Catastrophe Canyon!

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Moving on... Toy Story Playland is borderline identical to the one in Hong Kong. Sure it's a bunch of carnival rides but it's reasonably well put together.

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We didn't spend a whole lot of time here but it's definitely popular with the kids. Most of the rides are quite low capacity and had lengthy queues.

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I don't even know if RC Racer counts as a credit but it looks like a coaster so we rode it.

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This is definitely one of those rides where the theming has been put ahead of capacity or function. The cycle lasts all of 30 seconds, and (despite a good effort from the ride ops) with those OTSRs the load/unload takes a while.

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Sadly. Cars Land Europe suffered from some pretty severe budget cuts. Radiator Springs Racers this ain't.

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Moteurs... Action! is almost exactly the same show you'll find at Hollywood Studios, right down to the hackneyed Cars cross-promotion and 20-minute-too-long running time.

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Explosions, the best part of any stunt show. If they had an option to turn up at the 40 minute mark and just watch the finale I would absolutely do that!

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This sort of sign is largely ignored in France.

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Crush's Coaster is a fun Maurer spinner, which clearly had the budget stripped out of it in the middle of construction.

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Lines were long, and the queue is pretty bare-bones. And since it's outdoors, plenty of people took the opportunity to finish a pack of cigarettes.

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Once you got indoors the theming kicked in. Despite being a relatively low-capacity attraction, the continuous loading platform definitely helped speed up dispatches.

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Overall it's a fun ride, but definitely no Space Fantasy. Once you're off the lift hill the whole indoor section is dark - as if they ran out of money for scenic, so just turned the lights off instead.

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It might be the discount "no fifth dimension" version, but Tower of Terror is still a great ride.

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Way better than Crush's queue.

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I don't know if they were acting or not, but the French cast members absolutely nail the whole "indifferent hotel employee" character on this ride.

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The Ratatouille/Paris area was definitely the highlight of Disney Studios. It's a really nice place to just look around and spend some time in, and almost felt like being in a totally different park!

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With good reason, people get excited about Disney's trackless dark rides. Hunny Hunt and Mystic Manor both use the technology to great effect, and can feel different on every ride. Ratatouille is a good ride, but it's also a bit of a step backwards. The trackless cars never really do anything as interesting as the dream sequence in Hunny Hunt. I guess the extensive use of 3D screens restricts the movement of the vehicles a bit more.

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That said, it's still a very good ride. There are a few cool tricks throughout, as well as a fun chase sequence through Gusteau's kitchen.

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The queue is set in the rooftops of Paris, which is a great touch.

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Instead of "exit through the gift shop", Ratatouille has "exit through the restaurant". I had been looking forward to trying out Chez Remy, and wasn't disappointed.

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Like the ride, the key conceit here is that you are rat-sized, so everything is huge!

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Jeff posing with giant fork, for scale. There were a lot of cool details in the restaurant, like bottle-cap chairs, and fairy lights in the roof.

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I tried the salmon and (of course) ratatouille. As expected, it tasted great.

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Dessert was some kind of meringue thing, autographed by Remy himself!

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With the Studios well and truly done, we head over to Disneyland! As I mentioned, they have an extensive refurb program going on, and it starts right at the front gate.

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The train station was also under wraps.

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A look down Main Street - fortunately, crowds were light.

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So Paris has a pretty amazing Disney castle, they've gone for a big fantasy aesthetic and it works really well. There's even a dragon living underneath, though he was having some work done during our visit.

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Unlike the park next door, everything here is beautifully themed. One of those parks that's just a nice place to explore.

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Storybook Land Canal Boats is a gentle cruise past dioramas based on Disney films.

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That's the Casey Jr Circus Train in the background, a powered and mostly flat roller coaster. It also had the longest lines of anything in the park!

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I don't know how it compares to the Magic Kingdom or Tokyo Disneyland, but this park is absolutely enormous. You can barely see Big Thunder Mountain in the distance!

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I am not a huge Small World fan, but it pleasing to note that Australia and Easter Island aren't co-located in this version of the ride. Because geography!

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A lot of rehab work was concentrated on the Adventureland/Frontierland side of the park during our visit, so it was pretty empty.

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Of all the rides that were closed, Big Thunder was one I was genuinely disappointed to miss. I'd long looked forward to riding the version of this ride, with not one but two under-river sections! But no matter, I'm sure it'll be around for many years to come.

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Not only was the ride down, the whole river was boarded up. This is a huge chunk of land, so the work was very noticeable.

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Exclusive photo of Big Thunder scaffolding and construction workers.

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Rarely seen riverboat track!

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Secret Disney rubbish trailer.

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So Phantom Manor is a little darker than the other Haunted Mansions, and it leans much more heavily on the "western" Frontierland setting. I really liked the alternate take on the ride, particularly the western town finale.

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Back to Adventureland. Here we have one of Disneyland Paris' two good-looking but awful coasters, Indiana Jones et le Temple du Peril!

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So the theming is great, but the ride is just terrible - all kinds of headbanging and pain. It's baffling that after building this monster, Disney decided to do it again with Raging Spirits!

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For four years they even ran the trains backwards. Even the thought of that is distressing!

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Discoveryland is Disneyland Paris' steampunk-ish take on Tomorrowland, which works really well.

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Yes, that is a dirigible moored outside the Videopolis theatre!

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It might have a familiar shape and name, but this is completely different to any other Space Mountain.

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Balls. Space balls.

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Formally known as Space Mountain: Mission 2, this one has a launch and has more in common with Rock'n'Roller Coaster than the other wild mouse-type space mountains. It looks great on the outside but is a pretty terrible ride, as with Indiana Jones you get smacked around a lot by the OTSRs. I tried it three times, and had to walk off three headaches.

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Despite what the sign suggests, there are no flying cars on this Autopia. In any case, I'm sure those would totally turn up in Tokyo first!

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Traffic was heavy on the Autopia Parkway. Ridiculously heavy. Who knew people would have so much trouble getting in and out of a car?

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At least it's a good looking ride. Neon lights = future!

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Star Tours is getting an upgrade, to the "The Adventures Continue" version found in the other parks.

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That lake is kind of small, so I doubt the Nautilus is going on an adventure anytime soon. But it is open for tours.

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This is a great little walkthrough attraction, with some fun details.

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I especially like this map of Vulcania, a great nod to Disneysea!

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It definitely has that "we made this thing just because we thought it would be cool" feel that makes Disneysea so awesome.

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What's a Disney park without a parade?

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Dancing pirates!

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Mickey's float is always so showy. Tone it down, mouse! Less is more!

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Chipmunks!

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Back in Adventureland now, this is Adventure Isle. From a distance this looked awesome, it's a huge playground just like Tom Sawyer Island at some of the other parks. It was also another part of the park undergoing a refresh, one more thing to try on a future trip!

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Fortunately though, Pirates of the Caribbean was open to ride! I really liked the fort setting, although I have no idea why they put sail in the middle of the walkway...

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The order of this one is reversed compared to the other Pirates around the world. So you start in the battle and then wind up in the caves at the end.

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Apart from that it's fairly similar overall, still an excellent ride!

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Since I'm a sucker for restaurants in rides, we had to try out the Blue Lagoon. We were lucky enough to get seats right on the water!

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It wasn't the cheapest place to eat but the food was pretty good, and the location excellent.

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Sunset over Big Refurb Mountain.

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Disney have really stepped up the whole "castle show" game in the last few years, and Disney Dreams might well be their best effort to date.

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Pro tip: your flash will not help with videos of nighttime spectaculars!

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This show even has fountains. It's like World of Color, but entertaining!

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Let it go, let it gooooo...

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There are even projection on the bushes and hill next to the castle - love it!

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For a finale, the castle disappears in one terrific explosion! That's it from Disneyland, next up will be Paris' other theme park - Parc Asterix!

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Spot-on review of an interesting place. Lots of good, but some eyebrow-raising inconsistencies that never quite seal the "Disney" feel.

 

Agreed on Blue Lagoon -- in a park without a ton of great restaurant options (a stark difference from WDW) that was pretty good. Not getting to Remy's is one of my regrets.

 

Let's rip this bandaid off first. For what is supposed to be the headliner ride, the Studio Tram Tour is just awful. I never saw the one in Orlando but if it was as bad as this I'm not surprised they closed it down.

 

I'd say that in its initial configuration, the Orlando version was better. In its "just before closing" configuration, it was worse, if that even seems possible. I gave the Paris version a ride for nostalgia's sake, but, yeah, once was enough.

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Great TR on DisneyParis, Aaron. And nice to see Jeff as well, there with you!

You look like you got the same spot at Blue Lagoon as we did, on an earlier visit

to the Resort. Oh and yes, the Sequoia Lodge was definitely a step up from the

Santa Fe for us, when we visited a year ago. Closer and more relaxing, we felt.

 

I kind of like the idea that Ratatouille isn't like the other trackless rides they've

created. This version definitely has to do more with film screen technology, but

I just kept riding it more and more (5 times total) and took a real liking to it,

as much as I did with Pooh's Hunny Hunt. And Aquatopia.

 

Thanks for sharing, and looking forward to seeing more of what you saw!

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Agreed on Blue Lagoon -- in a park without a ton of great restaurant options (a stark difference from WDW) that was pretty good. Not getting to Remy's is one of my regrets.

 

I was kind of surprised at the general lack of food variety throughout the two parks. Most food carts and snack windows sold exactly the same cookie/popcorn/potato chip selection, and if you wanted something different, tough! I feel like the other Disney parks (Tokyo in particular) really benefit from having a good selection of unique dining options, even if it means they're only available in one location (Gyoza Dog, anyone?).

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