The Toy Story Playdays run from 18th – 28th June 2019 in Disneyland Paris and to celebrate a special range of snacks have been created for the event. These snacks will be on sale throughout the Walt Disney Studios Park and feature highlights such as a Jessie cookie sandwich filled with Nutella and a candy apple featuring the famous Luxo Ball.
Woody Biscuit – €4.29
Woody is a sandwich biscuit filled with a chocolate/hazelnut spread (it’s not Nutella, but it totally is).
Jessie Biscuit – €4.29
The Jessie biscuit is the exact same as the Woody one – except it’s Jessie, of course!
Bo Peep Shortbread – €4.29
Get your JPEG food-suitable printers ready because this shortbread is basically that. But it’s Bo Peep, the star of Toy Story 4!
Candy Apples (Hamm and Luxo Ball) – €5.99
The stars of the Toy Story Playdays snacks, these two Candy Apples both look fantastic, and the Luxo Ball one is a genuine delight for all Pixar fans.
Forky Shortbread – €4.29
Let’s face it, you want this because it’s Forky and Forky is awesome! Other than that, yeah it’s another shortbread with a sticker put on top.
The Toy Story Playdays snacks are not particularly inspiring – but then again, what did we expect for a festival that is just over a week long? They look fun and they cover every major character in the film, and that’s all we could really hope for.
Upon its opening in 2002, it’s fair to say that the Walt Disney Studios Park has left something to be desired. The park was the victim of a lack of real investment, patchwork theme and an overall vision that seemed lost and confused. Since then Disneyland Paris have put a lot of effort into fixing this problem, and to their credit much of it has worked, including the recent expansion of La Place de Rémy in 2014. However, many of the issues remained and have been difficult to fix without a significant investment on the level of Disney’s California Adventure.
Tuesday 27th February 2018 was the day that the fortunes of this half-day Park were radically transformed. Bob Iger (Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company) announced with Emmanuel Macron (President of the French Republic) an investment of €2 billion in the Marne-la-Vallée resort which is to be used to overhaul the Walt Disney Studios Park and to effectively double its size. The plan focuses on extension, theme and the incorporation of 3 much-loved IPs into the park including Marvel, Star Wars and Frozen as well as an expansion to Toy Story Playland (2010).
It’s time to dig into this in deliciously geeky detail and look at what the future holds for fans of Disneyland Paris.
Front Lot was always an area of the park that seemed to work, the glamour and excitement of Hollywood beckoned guests and truly does offer a lot of promise. Studio 1 was always the odd part of this set up; in the new concept art Studio 1 remains but is radically transformed and looks more fitting to the 1930s aesthetic that fits the look and feel of Front Lot.
I’m glad the soul of Front Lot is getting a boost rather than a subtraction. Obviously we cannot see inside Studio 1, but we can only hope that an overhaul is planned here to coincide with this new classy look of Front Lot. Exiting Studio 1 will now reveal an exceptional vista that will be difficult to beat in any Disney Park.
Not much changes here, the classic Art of Animation building remains, as does Animagique Theater, Crush’s Coaster, Cars: Quatre Roues Rallaye, and Flying Carpets over Agrabah. Further round, Toy Story Playland and La Place de Rémy remain. This area was always one of the strengths of the park, so seeing little change here comes as very little surprise. It does look that the general criticism of the Walt Disney Studios Park has been ameliorated somewhat with increased greenery.
The big news here is an increase in size of Toy Story Playland with what looks to be a new attraction (much like the Alien Swirling Saucers attraction coming to Walt Disney World this year). Whilst the expansion of Toy Story Playland doesn’t seem overly necessary, the new attraction is very similar to the Cars attraction and is nevertheless welcome.
Again, there’s not a huge amount of change here. Studio Theatre remains pretty much untouched and the biggest surprise was that The Hollywood Tower Hotel looks set to remain welcoming guests. The only question mark hangs over the old Disney Channel building which does look a little different but no detail was provided as to what will become of it. It seems likely that it will become part of the MARVEL area of the park.
Backlot will be unrecognisable following this redevelopment. In its place a MARVEL area which looks to feature at least 4 big attractions (including the recently announced Iron Man takeover of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster). Departing are Armageddon: Les effets spéciaux and Moteurs Action… Stunt Show Spectacular, a move that fans are unlikely to bemoan.
The Stunt Show stands are still clearly visible in this concept art, which would make sense if we are to get a new stunt show based on the Avengers. The same applies for Armageddon, the building looks to be staying but with new hosts. Next to Armageddon is a new building and a Quinjet, which look as if they close off the path behind the Tower of Terror; unfortunately this will likely see us lose a piece of Disney history in Café des Cascadeurs.
On the left hand side of this land stood the two restaurants: Restaurant des Stars and Disney’s Blockbuster Cafe. These look to have been removed in exchange for a more flashy building exterior, the building is pretty sizeable and so could welcome something of a reasonable size.
The look and feel of the area is very modern yet sleek and so could easily pass off as futuristic and whilst we know the Marvel look is coming we have very little idea as to what these buildings will contain. The incorporation of MARVEL into a previously unsightly area of the park is an ideal fix and does improve dramatically the biggest issue facing Walt Disney Studios Park. A comprehensive MARVEL themed zone in Paris as well as the new hotel will be a significant draw for fans of MARVEL and could very well see Paris as THE place to be for MARVEL fans.
Remember looking on jealously when Star Wars Land got announced for Walt Disney World and Disneyland? Remember that jealousy bring upped when it became Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Batuu? Then seeing it in Star Tours in Paris? Now, we will shortly be able to boast our own Star Wars land!
On the concept art the land looks to be smaller than its American counterparts, but this could easily just be the artist impression and not wanting to show us everything. The architecture of the land does look very similar with its canyons and yellow domes, we can also spot a black X-Wing sitting there. Again, we have no indication as to what to expect from this land in the way of attractions, the US Star Wars areas will contain multiple attractions, shops and restaurants and it is difficult to see Paris deviating from this model.
Interactive experiences were mentioned by Bob Iger as he announced this expansion and so we can only hope that Star Wars will take full advantage of this. It’s thrilling to see this land being incorporated into Disneyland Paris and it will undoubtedly be incredibly popular upon opening. Star Wars is a huge franchise and its representation at Disneyland Paris has always been strong, but this is next level which Paris needed to match when faced with its American cousins. It looks like the challenge has been raised and met and this will become an integral part of the expansion upon completion.
Potentially the biggest Disney animated film ever finally gets a land in the Walt Disney Studios Park, this decision simply makes sense. The Frozen theme fits perfectly with the idea of creating an immersive landscape featuring potentially shops, restaurants and a big attraction. Imagine being able to eat dinner in the company of Anna and Elsa in Arendelle, this could be the potential big money spinner.
On a level of this concept art, we can see both the castle of Arendelle, a little village and Else’s Ice Castle which will be directly opposite the park entrance, something that will provide a stunning vista upon leaving Studio 1. The land looks much like the proposed Hong Kong Frozen land which, when we dive into Hong Kong concept art, gives us a clue as to what will be featured here. Frozen has a ton of characters that each provide a deep layer of the Arendelle universe to explore and in addition, by the time this area of the park opens we will have a Frozen sequel that will be able to be built into this area.
Frozen is a natural choice and rounds off the new lands in perfect style, the visual of the ice castle emerging will provide a stunning backdrop to the Walt Disney Studios Park and means that there truly is something in this expansion for everyone.
Lakes and Landscaping
But new lands are not where this expansion and investment ends, a large criticism of WDS was the lack of landscaping. These criticisms have been completely brushed away with the increase in size with more room afforded to greenery but most importantly (and impressively) a lake will be built as a hub for the park. The lake will become a wonderful and beautiful part of the park which will likely see shows performed on it and the route around the lake seems as if it will be given a parade.
The lake looks to be absolutely stunning, and is an interesting enough shape. Walking around it is likely to be an absolute pleasure. It looks as if a lot of effort has gone into making the park LOOK good and feel like a pleasant place to be, obviously this is just a concept and things can and will change but as a statement of intent it is impressive.
We have been crying out for years for something like this (in fact, anything that would make the Parisian second gate better), and now it is here it feels a little overwhelming. I will admit that I’m still sitting grinning with delight over this expansion and will continue to do so for years to come. Many will have feared that an expansion would see only Marvel or Star Wars properties coming to the park, but not the case as Disneyland Paris really is catering for all fans.
Equally important is that from what we so far know, this investment will be predominately for the Walt Disney Studios Park, Disneyland Park will not be touched by this large investment of intellectual property. There is something pure about this, Disneyland Park has a lot of soul and whilst it would be fantastic to see investment head there, the Studios needs it and is the ideal place to incorporate all these IPs in a way that feels cohesive and sensible. The park will look and feel fantastic and that is a win for everybody.
The rollout of these changes will be from 2020 – 2025 and undoubtedly there will be a gradual influx of news as we go. Disneyland Paris is transitioning from a future of ‘what is happening next, there is nothing on the horizon’ to being genuinely one of the most exciting Disney developments ever.
It’s going to be a fun ride, and I can’t wait to share all the information and opinions (and listen to your views) as we go along.
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!