Upon arrival in the Walt Disney Studios Park, we are greeted with the extraordinary sight of Front Lot; a real land that anticipates the excitement of a film studio at the height of its golden age. It is then fair to say that quality degrades the further into the park one goes. We are stood at the feet of Buzz Lightyear at the entrance of Toy Story Playland and are starting to walk down the Rue Auguste Gusteau, entering the Paris of Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille (2007). It is immediately striking that this is an exceptional location. Upon all sides is the faux-authenticity that we expect from a Disney Park. Being inside La Place de Rémy is no longer being inside the Walt Disney Studios Park, this is no disrespect to the rest of the park, it should be like this – take Adventureland by the Blue Lagoon which is the same.
Here lies a square that people will sit in and relax – and rightfully so, this is Disney escapism at its best. Every last detail here is themed right down to fencing and benches. As we approach La Place de Rémy we notice Chez Marianne – Souvenirs de Paris on our left; whilst not yet open, the store has been concealed in a unique way, upon entering the area in which the Chez Marianne store front will be, the level of detail only increases. Street-signs little La Place de Rémy creating an authenticity to the square, you immediately get it – you are in Paris. Chez Marianne‘s store front looks, in part, to have been inspired by the Musée d’Orsay, at its side we may see a ‘Livraisons’ sign – we are in a living, breathing city – signs forbid parking and speed limit signs are in the square. One of the most amusing moments in the film is the moment that Skinner phones the health inspector; now, thanks to Disney’s Imagineers we can visit the exterior of Nadar Lessard’s office.
Toilets are also part of the development and are yet another themed element of the experience as one must traverse a long, yet typically Parisian, corridor in order to reach them. Males will be treated to a windowed view onto La Place de Rémy.
The corner of the Rue Auguste Gusteau and La Place de Rémy sees an ornate clock with almost regal decorations. FastPass distribution has been designed with beautiful machines under three arches. This has allowed one of the attractions key features to be properly integrated within the design of the land.
Without a doubt, the centre piece of this mini-land is the beautiful fountain. This Place des Vosges inspired piece is the single most beautiful piece of decoration in the Walt Disney Studios Park. The way that the champagne flows out of the bottle and into the fountain is simply elegant, the splash into the lower fountain along with water seeping out of Rémy’s mouth is a stunning effect. The fountain features rats carved into its stone in a scene that would work perfectly in a zoetrope, the base is adorned with Rémy eating grapes. At its summit, one last champagne bottle explodes into the air with a happy Chef Rémy surveying his land.
It is worth looking down for a moment – and I’m not talking about manhole covers – a real city would be comprised of pavements and roads. In the middle of a Disney Park this is not possible. Imagineers have created a two-textured approach to the ground – and unlike Main Street USA, there is no raised pavement. The ‘road’ is a cobbled texture and looks very neat, evoking Les Champs-Élysées. The pavement is tiled in a well-done fashion. If the cleanliness is kept up, this land should look fantastic for years to come. The manhole covers are equally well themed, this is something that should be applauded as they could very easily be forgotten, the cover depicts Rémy’s journey into Paris whilst also evoking the Paris shield.
Fans of the film will be rewarded with nods to the film in the shape of Liniguni’s bicycle, Colette’s motorcycle and Chef Skinner’s Vespa. Entering the queue line and we can see even more Ratatouille details which come right to life as we wait to enter the Parisian theatre. We see a wine cave, a kitchen store, a hotel and billboards for Anton Ego’s column in Le Journal as well as for Gusteau’s Microwaveable Snacks; all whilst underneath a traditional Parisian market place. The façades present on La Place de Rémy are stylised versions of traditional Parisian Haussmannien architecture.
Even the lighting has been themed; La Place de Rémy presents us with Parisian street-lighting with a twist. When lit we are able to see little rats hiding inside the lamps. At the far-side of the square, it is worth a moment looking closely at the railings – Disney’s Imagineers have hidden little rats even here. As we leave La Place de Rémy, Augusute Gusteau’s bust looks on as we wander into Toy Story Playland.
La Place de Rémy has been two years of construction and a further two years of planning – the results are sublime. After all that wait; we have quite possibly, the most beautiful land in Disneyland Paris.
Finally, a plea – Dear guests: Please don’t jump in the fountain. This is, as previously stated, possibly the most beautiful feature of the park; Please do not jump into it, or allow your children to jump into it. Allow future enjoyment by everyone by respecting the fountain – the last thing we would like to see here are chains.
La Place de Rémy really comes alive through video. Why not watch this video from CafeFantasia and really immerse yourself in Rémy’s Paris: