When people think of Disney Parks, images of Mickey, Minnie and friends lead many people to assume that Disney is just for children. However while Disney veterans would agree that Disney is for kids it also has an appeal for us big kids too!
Walt was quick to recognise in the early days of Disneyland, California, that those small kids they aimed the park at quickly turned into teens who are looking for something different from their visit to a Disney Park. This led Disney to start to develop thrill rides to sit alongside their family orientated attractions. Guests at Disneyland Paris have been fortunate to benefit from everything that Imagineers learnt in developing the American parks. This means Disneyland Paris is home to some of the most thrilling rides of any Disney Park across the world. Here is our top 5 to look out for on a visit.
Number 5 – Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril
Guests who dare to enter this ride queue must ramble through a deserted base camp, wandering toward an intimidating temple where guests brave a staircase to the entrance of the ride where you eventually board a mine car. The journey takes you through a heavily themed landscape, with you taking on the role of an explorer trying to escape the temple. A loop-the-loop features in the middle of this ride which is met by surprise by many people as imagineers worked hard to keep this feature hidden from guests in the ride queue. Many Disney fans would be surprised to learn that Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril was the first ever Disney roller coaster to feature an inversion.
This is one of the most thrilling rides at the park with wait times much shorter than other big attractions. Tight fitting ride cars and harnesses means that you could experience a bumpy journey at points, especially if you are a tall person. This car design means this fabulous ride dropped down to number 5 on our list.
Number 4 – Space Mountain
Space Mountain has had many different reincarnations during its time at the Park. Whether it be as the original Jules Verne adventure of being shot to the Moon or in its most recent guise, Hyperspace Mountain, as a ride to a Galaxy far far away, this attraction is certainly the most thrilling version of Space Mountain across any Disney Park.
This attraction would make any top 5 list purely based on its glorious Steampunk design, which has to been seen at night to be truly appreciated. All across Discoveryland you can hear the screams from the uphill catapult launch. Recently replaced ride cars are much improved, with harnesses that are more comfortable than their predecessors. The ride cars also have built in audio which only adds to the experience of twisting and turning through the inversions on the ride. Imagery is cleverly placed to enhance your journey making this a coaster like no other.
Number 3 – Star Tours
Star Tours is an innovative ride based on the popular Star Wars films. On arrival at the attraction you enter a spaceport terminal, passing by C-3PO and R2-D2 before entering the cargo bay, where you see droids checking luggage and the shadows of familiar characters pass by a window up above.
When you eventually enter your Starspeeder 1000, you become part of your own Star Wars adventure, with every twist and turn of your ship on screen seamlessly linked to a motion simulator giving you a fully immersive experience. 3D effects alongside randomised sequences ensure you will ride is highly repeatable and full of surprises. On top of this, every ride involves a guest being selected as The Rebel spy, with their photo displayed to shock (and sometimes horror) of the chosen rider. Overall this family friendly thrill ride appeals to many.
Number 2 – Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean has a special place in the hearts of many Disney fans as the original version of this ride was the last attraction whose construction was overseen by Walt himself, before his death. The popularity of this ride lead to the successful film franchise and the Paris version incorporates many of these characters within the ride.
Guests enter a fortress passing through the dungeons of the fort, leading to the wonderful vista that is the Blue Lagoon which makes you feel like you are truly in the Caribbean at night time. As you set sail in your boat, guests are treated to a story wonderfully told to engage you and disguises the three drops hidden within this ride. Do keep an eye out for the famous Captain Jack who is hiding as a gang of pirates ransack the town. The final drop takes you into darkness, greeted by the ghostly figure of Barbosa, a recent addition that really adds to the experience.
The success of this ride is that it offers a thrill for older guests while still being accessible to younger members of your party. This ride can be very busy during the daytime with waits around 2 hours so our advice would be to visit this attraction in the evening, when wait times can fall to under 10 minutes.
Number 1 – Big Thunder Mountain
Standby queue times of regularly over 2 hours suggest that we are not alone in believing that Big Thunder Mountain is the number one thrill attraction at Disneyland Park. As you enter Frontierland, this attraction dominates the skyline, the jewel at the centre of this land.
As soon as you depart the station the train dives into a tunnel that transports you underwater to a cave of stalactites and stalagmites. Trains pop out of the tunnel, swooping left and right, with many rises and dips through the wilderness of the mountain until you reach a section where the track appears to be flooded. As your carriage steams through the water jets on the side of the track add to the splashdown.
The seemingly runaway train heads towards a tunnel with signs warning of dynamite blasts. Before you know it, fuses are lit and racing up the sides of the cavern leading to an explosion of smoke and deafening noise. Your final escape leads you into a dark tunnel, where the train keeps on accelerating out of control until you finally feel the brakes hit and the relief of seeing the loading dock once more. Screams of joy fill the air and excited guests depart often racing to rejoin the queue again.
This ride truly is the Wildest ride in the wilderness!