On March 16th 2017, the Walt Disney Studios Park will turn 15 years old. The park opened in 2002 with much fanfare and hype after having being planned even before the opening of Disneyland Park. The reality, however, was a barebones park with very little in the way of attractions and a very basic opening roster. Today we may associate the park with the overpowering images of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, but its easy to forget that this attraction did not actually exist in 2002. In fact, when exiting Studio 1 you were immediately faced with Studio Tram Tour and very little else. But is the park actually any good?
The Walt Disney Studios Park is not bad
The overarching consensus online is that the Walt Disney Studios park is not a good experience. And whilst yes the park is littered with problems (and more than any Disney park ever should have), it is not a terrible way to spend part of your day. Is it as good at Disneyland Park? No, not even close but considerable work has gone into the park over the past 15 years in an attempt to fix the mistakes of the past. The first big expansion came in 2007 when Toon Studios opened featuring Crush’s Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye as well as a small photo location. A year later in 2008 the Tower of Terror was officially inaugurated and with it a Hollywood style street area around it. 2010 saw Toy Story Playland and 2014 was the year that Ratatouille and La Place de Rémy arrived.
There are quality attractions in the park, there are also some very fun shows and now a fantastic place to have a meal. For pure thrill seekers, Walt Disney Studios is probably even the preferred park. When it comes to theme, there is work to be done. Front Lot is such a positive and inspirational opening to a park, it is a genuinely pleasant place to visit. The issues come after that. The park is very much designed with minimal greenery making it reasonably easy to maintain but gives a less than ideal aesthetic value.
Nobody should discount the experience that Walt Disney Studios offers, should it not be there it is likely that it would be missed.
So what’s wrong?
The park was opened with a vision of going behind the scenes in a working film studio; the problem there was that film studios aren’t designed to be attractive places. That’s fine for a film studio, less fine for an amusement park. Disneyland Paris have done their absolute best to fix this by creating new experiences in themed mini-lands.
This has lead to a new issue. The park is now littered with good experiences but has moved further and further away from the working studio theme and has become a patchwork of theme. The good news, however, is that this is very fixable.
The next 15 years…
The future is bright for this second gate in Paris. The patchwork of theme could work if executed correctly. It will take a lot of creative direction from Walt Disney Imagineering, a lot of investment and some new experiences. The future of the Walt Disney Studios park should be important to every Disneyland Paris fan. A failing second gate will negatively affect the resort and bring the experience globally down. Disneyland Paris have never allowed Walt Disney Studios to get that bad, in fact they actively try to fix the errors of the past.
The next 15 years of the park will see further investment and potentially a big increase in investment to bring the park up to the Disney standard. It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride, but that can only be a good thing!