Disneyland Paris may be seen as the little sister of the other Disney parks around the world but that doesn’t mean it lacks any of the magic or the incredible attractions of those parks. In fact, one of my all time favourite rides of any theme park lives it’s adorable little life in the Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris. So, dear reader, what are some of my personal favourites at DLP?
Pirates of the Caribbean
A staple of Disney parks across the globe, Pirates of the Caribbean is always a safe bet. The smart thing about a lot of the DLP ‘editions’ of rides is the covered queuing system to avoid the almost inevitible rain showers and Pirates makes the most of this indoor space with themeing from the moment you step under the Jolly Roger and join the line. It’s dark, it’s damp and it captures a Pirates of the Caribbean theme immediately. The queue for Pirates always seems to move relatively swiftly but that might be because the queue itself is immersive and entertaining.
I love boarding a Pirates boat, I love squidging into the seats with your friends around you and I love us planning our pose for the photo (it’s the second “big” drop FYI). The DLP edition includes all the classic animatronic characters in their drunken pirate revellry, especially my favourite of the woman chasing the man with her rolling pin, it never fails to make me giggle. Early on in the trip you pass by Captain Jack’s Restaurant, and can oggle at diners enjoying their food.
There’s an old fashioned magic to rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, and there’s something delightful about Captain Jack singing and slurring his words in French as you pass by.
Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy (Opened 2014)
My absolute favourite area of Disneyland Paris is the Parisian Plaza in the Walt Disney Studios Park as of course, DLP can capture it’s Disneyfied caricature of Paris with a sprinkling of magic and of course, a gorgeous soundtrack. In fact, just hearing the music from Ratatouille is enough to transport me back to standing in the sunny Plaza. My top tip for this ride is to get down there to grab a Fastpass as soon as you can because the line never gets any shorter!
Ratatouille embraces its Parisian location and takes some of the best and most imaginative elements of Disney attractions across the world and over the years to create an entirely 4D, multi sensory experience in a trackless wonderland. You don a pair of snazzy 3D glasses (as modelled by our grinning faces) and shrink down to the size of Remy and his friends, speeding through the rat runs of the restaurant. Your eyes, ears, nose and on the odd occasion face all experience excitement of hiding from the chef, getting caught under the oven and gazing out over the rooftops of Paris.
It’s a real feat of imagineering and one of the most magical experiences you can have in a Disneyland attraction. In fact, it might even be one of my favourites across all Disney parks, not just at DLP! By immersing you within the aesthetic of Ratatouille, and in the realm of the rats, the entire outside world melts away. Whilst several little rat chariots (each seats 6) travel around together you barely see the other riders and each rat feels like it is experiencing a totally unique and personal story. Can you tell I am in awe of the minds behind this ride? Let’s not even get on to the music – the original Ratatouille soundtrack by Michael Giacchino is used throughout and it adds so much depth to every moment of the ride.
Similarly to Pirates of the Caribbean, if you’re after a little more than just the ride you can enjoy some French cuisine at Bistrot Chez Rémy which surrounds the ride. I’ve heard tell that Ratatouille is coming to Walt Disney World in the French pavillion at EPCOT so if you’re a Florida visitor definitely keep an eye out and once it is open take a look, it is truly beautiful.
Another ride in the Walt Disney Studios Park at DLP, Crush’s Coaster invites riders to ‘grab shell’ and jump on board a turtle to skim, slide, twist and turn through the EAC. It’s a brilliant concept for a rollercoaster and I’m sure as soon as they were putting the final touches to Finding Nemo someone said “Steve we’ve gotta turn the EAC into a coaster!” (just like that, I’m sure) and they’ve pulled it off! By having you board a turtle shell, you travel backward and forwards at different points in the ride as the shell spins. Top tip if you enjoy this sort of thing is if you sit facing backwards as you board you will be facing backward on the big climb at the start of the ride, and somehow that is SO MUCH FUN because it’s not something you often get to do on a rollercoaster!
The bulk of the ride is the big twists and turns of the EAC but in the build up you travel through the beautifully realised jellyfish fields and once again the imagineers have captured the Pixar aesthetic to near perfection.
A bonus joy of this ride is the appearance of the seagulls at the very start.
NB. Crush’s Coaster does not operate a Fast Pass system at this time but they do have a single rider line, or if you really want to ride together then embrace the queue and enjoy the free WiFi and Crush’s Coaster game that Disneyland have made available.
I mean it’s a classic, is there much more to say? The rickety runaway train chunders around the mountain, swerving this way and that as it clambers to stay on the tracks. The Paris edition of Big Thunder Mountain runs on the island in the lake, which means you get brilliant views as you speed around. It is always a solid favourite and I have been known to make the most of a quiet day at Disney and do this three or four times in succession!
As a child I never quite understood why my Mum would always insist we did Peter Pan on every visit to Disneyland however the more I matured (though some say I still have a way to go) the more I realised this ride captures the true old school magic of Disney, both the movies and the parks. From the moment we are swept off to Neverland and look down from the starry skies over the streets of London I have a lump in my throat.