Now called Disneyland Paris, the international theme park is celebrating its 25th year of operation in 2017, and it’s looking better than ever. Even on a partially rainy day, my dad and I thoroughly enjoyed a visit to the now two-gate resort during a pre-cruise land extension of our Avalon Waterways trip.
We began our morning strolling from Disney Village to Walt Disney Studios Park, which opened later in 2002.
On our first vacation to the resort five years ago, maintenance was honestly not up to Disney’s usual high standards. Pavement along this route was rather rough and uneven and paint elsewhere was in a state of disrepair. With the parent company recently increasing its stake in the property, conditions have thankfully returned to pristine levels for the anniversary.
Our first ride of the day was The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which is fun for being a carbon copy of the one that until recently was in Disney California Adventure in Anaheim. I love its new Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! replacement, but I still do enjoy the classic version in France.
The similarly nostalgic will also appreciate the opportunity to experience Catastrophe Canyon on the Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic as a throwback to the one now removed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.
Before heading over to the Magic Kingdom next door, the Studios’ newest Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy ride and its attached Bistrot Chez Rémy restaurant had to be on the menu. The attraction is simply top notch. It incorporates Disney’s latest in trackless ride systems, three-dimensional film projection and immersive set design—all to give guests a playful rat’s eye view of Remy’s kinetic kitchen world.
And the restaurant even features in the ride before tempting you with real delicious French food. I recommend the gourmet Menu Gusteau tasting variety paired with wine. C’est magnifique!
The main event, naturally, is at the 25-year-old Disneyland Park, where Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean have been recently updated. The only inverted variation of the classic roller coaster has been enhanced with “Star Wars”-theming as Hyperspace Mountain, and Captain Barbossa has been newly added as the famed redhead has taken on a new role in Pirates.
The French Space Mountain was wonderful to begin with, besting the thrills of its counterparts around the world. But with the new overlay, it’s made even more intense.
New projections and lighting effects put riders right in the middle of a space battle among Imperial Star Destroyers and Tie Fighters versus Rebel X-Wings and U-Wings like the one in California has in the past. However, the greater velocity of the Paris version makes it feel all that more realistic.
While it has been announced that the “buy a bride” auction scene will be restaged in the domestic Pirates of the Caribbean attractions, the Paris ride has already been changed out. The women are now being coerced into giving up their valuables, and the redhead has become a pirate, herself in on the action.
The modification is controversial, but I think it is very well implemented. Also impressive is the new Paris-exclusive Barbossa figure that mystically transforms into a ghostly skeleton in the moonlight.
Of course, the Paris Disneyland still features plenty of other great attractions such as its Big Thunder Mountain—uniquely positioned where Tom Sawyer’s Island would ordinarily be in California—as well as its abandoned and distinctly derelict take on the Haunted Mansion called Phantom Manor.
The greatest treat of all was the Disney Illuminations show at Sleeping Beauty Castle, which continues to best exemplify the beauty of the signature landmark.
The anniversary evening performance combines projection mapping, fireworks, pyrotechnics and water effects to bring to life Mickey Mouse’s curiosity as he explores a number of animated and live action films.
Mickey’s vocal expression of playful wonder as he discovers everything from “The Lion King” and “Frozen” to “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Star Wars” is utterly delightful. The presentation is truly breathtaking as Disney expertly uses the latest projecting technology to drench the castle and surrounding knoll in vibrant colors and striking definition.
It was indeed the icing on the cake to a spectacular day spent celebrating the Disneyland Paris resort.
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