Part 3 - back to Disneyland Park
Alright, time to leave the Walt Disney Studios Park behind and head over to Disneyland Park. In this third and final update I will be taking a look at the amazing Discoveryland, where the best ride of the whole resort can be found, before I will end this trip report with a look at some of the afternoon/nighttime entertainment the park has to offer.
But before that, here’s an interesting little detail which I didn’t notice before on my second day. The plaque at the park entrance is different from it’s CA Disneyland/WDW counterparts. In stead of reading “...enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy
” it says “...enter the worlds of history, discovery and ageless fantasy
”. I don’t know why they have gone for a different text, and for me it doesn’t make any difference, I just thought it was interesting and worth mentioning.
Okay, let’s jump straight into Discoveryland. This are of the park is FANTASTIC! While the attraction list is very similar to it’s Tomorrowland counterparts, the theming and the atmosphere in the whole area is completely different, and I love it! The buildings look fantastic, particularly with the use of gold/brass colors the whole place is almost glowing when the sun shines on it.
The big eye-catcher in Discoveryland is of course Hyperspace Mountain. I don’t think I’m excaggerating if I say that my jaw dropped once I got to see the whole ride structure ride with my own eyes. It’s just stunningly beautiful, unlike anything else I’ve seen. The main feature here is naturally the Columbiad cannon on the side of the building, a true masterpiece! The only downside is that there are no longer any physically moving parts on the cannon, but it’s still awesome
The whole area surrounding the ride is beatiful as well, with water featured, rock formations and a small-scale version of the Nautilus submarine from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
With the exception of the post-parade crowds on the third day the line was usually in the 5-15 minutes range, but I still took quite a bit of advantage of the single rider line. The single rider line also has several really cool features. First it gives you a real close-up look of the cannon. And second, it takes you on the elevated walkway past the station, giving you some unique views you don’t get from the regular line. I really liked the station interior also, a very different look from what I’m used to. As you can see from the pictures, the ride has also been fitted with brand new trains from Vekoma.
Okay, so let’s talk about the ride itself, shall we? I have not ridden the original version so I cannot compare it to how it was before, but I knew there was a lot of hatred for this ride, and I must admit I was actually quite nervous before my first ride. Not only am I going on a ride that is probably going to be quite rough, but it will also be in the dark so I will not be able to see what is coming and brace myself.
Well, I’m happy to say that boy was I wrong, because this ride is AWESOME! No, of course it’s not a smooth ride, but it’s not bad at all and this ride is also INTENSE! There’s really only a few spots I would call kinda rough, and the new trains with the vest restraints remove any potential headbanging. If riding multiple times there can be a slight discomfort from your shoulders rubbing against the vest, but overall I LOVED this ride! Heck, it might even be my favorite Disney coaster from those I have ridden (DLP and WDW). Now, I can absolutely understand if people hated the ride with the old trains as I can easily see the ride being on the uncomfortable side before the update, but now it’s a fantastic ride!
I’m not going to do a step-by-step review of the ride, simply because I’m not able to since the ride takes place in the dark. I know the ride has three inversions, a sidewinder, a corsckrew and a cutback in that order, and you definitely know it when you’re going through them. But what happened between them I wasn’t always sure about.
In terms of highlights I liked the launch. It’s not a very strong launch, but it’s definitely enough to give you the funny feeling in your stomach. My favorite part happened after the first MCBR. While I’m not 100% sure about what was going on, it feels like the ride is doing a triple-down while turning to the right before the corkscrew. Particularly in the backseat, this part (and the whole ride really) was a lot of fun.
So to wrap it up, this is a perfect example of a ride refurbishment done correctly, mainly with the new trains. Just for fun I had a look at the 2013 steel coaster poll, and I saw that this ride was ranked as #246 out of 364, and by far the lowest of all the Space Mountain coasters, with the second lowest one being Space Mountain at WDW almost 100 places above it on the list. And I get it, and maybe I would also have hated the ride if I had ridden it with the old trains, but now it has become a pretty damn awesome ride and I would love to hear from someone who has ridden both versions to hear how much of a difference the new trains make. I never thought I would come off a 22-year old Vekoma thinking “that was freaking amazing!”.
But while it’s definitely the main attraction in this area of the park, Discoveryland isn’t all about Hyperspace Mountain. So let’s have a look at what else is here, shall we?
Another big eye-catcher in Discoveryland is Cafe Hyperion, hooked together the Videopolis building. Looking at the building exterior, with the fantastic looking airship, you would think it would be housing a spectacular ride, but nope! Inside is actually a large quick-service restaurant, but what is most interesting is the huge arena style seating centered around a stage. The lower half has bench seating, while the upper half are restaurant tables for the quick-service restaurant. Definitely an interesting setup, although during my visit I didn’t see anything going on stage other than some movies being shown on the screens.
At 5:30 PM it was parade time in the park. While on a slightly smaller scale than the WDW parade (yes I know I keep doing the WDW comparison all the time, but it’s the only Disney resort I can compare it to) it was still fun and very popular with the park guests.
It was at this point my phone decided to freeze up and I had to restart it, forcing me to scramble across the hub to try to get some pics on the other side. Unfortunately this was on the third day with a more crowded park then the two days before, so this was as close as I could get.
My favorite time of the day at this park is during sunset, it’s just stunningly beautiful.
At the very end of the day it was time for Illuminations. This was a fantastic show, featuring castle projections, water fountains, lasers, searchlights and pyrotechnics. I was particularly impressed by the projections. The only other projection show I have for comparison is the now gone Celebrate the Magic at WDW, but the projection quality for Illuminations was definitely a step up as the image quality was top notch! The only thing I was missing was the “big boom” fireworks, pretty much all of what they have are silent fireworks, but other than that it’s a fantastic show and a worthy ending to each of my three fantastic days at Disneyland Paris.
And yes, when the Frozen music started you could hear the entire crowd going “OOOOoooohhhhh”. That didn’t happen when any of the other scenes started. So if anyone of you out there was hoping this thing was starting to fade away, I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait a little longer.
So that’s a final wrap on three fantastic days at Disneyland Paris! Yes, the Studios Park wasn’t really that great, but that was expected. Disneyland Park however managed to provide me with a lot of the Disney magic. Service still leaves a little bit to be desired, and like others have previously the people here don’t seem to care that much about where you can and cannot smoke. But I didn’t see any line jumpers or badly behaved guests during my stay, and I didn’t have bad experiences myself either. So all in all Disneyland Park is a fantastic park, and one I would definitely reccomend anyone to visit.
And again special thanks to Andrew, Chris and Dylan for making the trip a great one!
Until next time...