I must admit, given the ambitious expansion plan, current construction and initially under investment in Walt Disney Studios, the most challenging part of creating any Top 5 is simply the lack of options available to guests. With Marvel, Frozen and Star Wars due to arrive in the future, this list will expand and I hope that many new favourites will challenge for a spot as one of the top attractions in the Park. For now, let’s celebrate what we do have to enjoy, a list which is topped by my favourite Disney attraction at Disneyland Paris.
Number 5 – Cars Route 66 (Due to open Summer 2020)
The most recent addition to Walt Disney Studios, Cars Route 66 asks guests to buckle up and join Lightning McQueen and Mater for a fun-filled family road trip where you’ll discover natural and mechanical wonders along the legendary Route 66.
This ride is a reimagined version of the Studio Tram Tour. This attraction makes it into our Top 5 purely for one main area Catastrophe Canyon. During the days of the old tram tour, guests would then move into a rocky area, with your view directed towards a fuel truck and a large water tank. All of a sudden your tram would stop and the action begins. Tremors come from below, shaking your tram. It is not long before you realise see it on the faces around you, an earthquake has just hit. Before you can get your bearings the fuel truck explodes, flames pouring skywards. The sheer magnitude of the fire can be felt like a wave of heat rushes along your body, sending the hairs on the back of your neck racing. In a flash, a flood of water comes rushing down from the canyon racing towards your tram but thankfully falling into the ravine. When the earthquake subsides and you think you are safe, a final flurry downpours from above creating a wall of water before your eyes.
We’re very excited by the prospect of this reimagined ride. The ever-popular IP of Cars alongside the creative imagination of Disney means this had to make our Top 5 list of Family Thrills, even before we get to experience it.
Number 4 – Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop
Nestled in Toy Story Playland you may be fooled into thinking this ride is aimed just at the littles ones. However, many a brave parent has had their nerves tested when they catch the first glimpse at the 80 ft high ride towering 80 ft high above Walt Disney Studios Park.
The height of the ride is magnified by the inclusion of a giant Playskool walkie-talkie, a look-out tower and an army base. Whilst some guest stand in awe of the sheer scale of this ride it is not uncommon to see people jump with surprise as the walkie-talkie momentarily bursts to life with updates on Andy’s whereabouts.
As you wait in line, a retro 16-bit style training video helps our new Toy Soldier recruits prepare to be hoisted up to the top of the imposing tower. Screams fill the air as each parachute ascends off towards the sky before tumbling back down to earth. This is unlike any other drop ride, to be a proper lookout for Andy on this parachuting exercise, you keep going up and down. This leads to a sequence of rises and falls that have kids squealing for joy and offers adults an amazing vista over the surroundings. In the right seats you might even be able to see Cinderella’s Castle all the way over in the other park, well you will if you keep your eyes open long enough to see it!
Number 3 – RC Racer
What do you get if you cross a Remote Control Car, a Hot Wheels track and the imagination of a small boy? You end up with RC Racer, a giant Orange Halfpipe built with out-of-this-world proportions. Soaring above the guests, this imposing orange track is home to an energetic RC race car determined to reach the top of that ramp! Andy even remembered to build a ride queue, with giant Scalextric track parts used as the path leading riders into the launch station.
Just seeing this giant RC car is a thrill in itself. The ride system appears similar to pirate ship rides, swaying back and forth. The big difference here is the acceleration propelling you back and forth along a track which reaches a heart-stopping 90-degree angle at the top. Every time you drift back and forth through the station, the brave RC Racer gets further up the ramp, teasing you into thinking you might eventually build up enough momentum to break free. At almost 80 feet, the thrill of reaching the top and gravity pulling you back down to Earth is something only those who brave to ride can truly appreciate.
With this level of thrill, RC Racer often attracts exceptionally long queues, so be warned that early mornings and late nights the best time to ride and avoid wait times that regularly reach an hour or more each day. Our top tip is to ask to sit on either the very front or back rows as these are the most thrilling seats. Cautious riders should sit near the middle for a more gentle, yet thrilling, ride.
Number 2 – Crush’s Coaster
Disney·Pixar’s Finding Nemo is the inspiration for one of the most thrilling rides in any Disney park, not just Walt Disney Studios. Large queue times mean this is a ride many casual guests simply never experience and inspite of its popularity this remains a best-kept secret for many thrill-seekers.
Situated in the Toon Studio, many would-be fooled into thinking this is an attraction aimed at younger guests, especially given the gentle nature of Nemo and Dory. The official Disney promo videos also make you think this is simply a gentle swirling ride. How many people have been fooled by this is unknown, the first real indication of the true nature to the ride is when you see the warning signs about violent motion as you queue. Your reward for a potentially long wait is the scene of Sydney Harbour, where you hop aboard your turtle shells and head into the depths of the unknown, where Crush the Turtle is waiting to guide you on your way.
The start of this ride in gentle, whisking you outside the show building to be greeted by waving parents, hoping to see their kids and catch that all-important photo. A fun indoor section follows, with plenty of sights to distract nervous riders, like waving at Nemo and Squirt the turtle. As you enter the darkness of the deep seas, to finally meet the sharks and their chief; Bruce.
As a hill crank kicks in, you can sense a genuine change in the nature of this ride. Quickly your shell is transported away from the playful gentle Nemo scenes to the top of a hill, where darkness hides the impending fate of the riders As you reach the top, you are about to dive into the turbulent, unpredictable East Australian Current. Imagine a normal rollercoaster structure but add in darkness so you can’t see any dips or turns and did I mention that your turtle shell can also spin! The unique nature of the ride vehicle means it is impossible to predict how it will turn and rotate in different ways, giving you a unique experience every time you brave these undersea currents. Thrill-seekers will love diving below facing forwards, spinning as you fall, over to resurface facing backwards.
The gentle start of this ride almost leads guests into a false sense of security which only heightens the exhilarating end to your experience. The hidden nature of this structure means that many parents have been caught off guard, proof of this can be seen from the stream of shocked faces exiting the ride. Might be best to warn Granny before she agrees to go on with your little ones!
Number 1 – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
The Hollywood Tower Hotel steals the skyline for miles around, stands almost 200 feet tall and is truly the jewel of the Walt Disney Studios park. At night, the broken neon sign only adds to the curiosity of what is held behind those mysterious walls. During the day, close inspection shows this is no ordinary building, with cracks along its walls suggesting it has seen better days. Guests enter the attraction on a quest to find out what happened to the once-great hotel.
As you enter the hotel’s front doors, it is clear all is not as it should be. The reception is layered in dust, with cobwebs taking over the ceilings. An “Out of Order” sign on the central elevator forces guests to be ushered into the library. As the room fills, guests are encouraged to move to the middle of the rooms for their own safety. Darkness descends on the room, with a severe thunderstorm raging outside. Eyes are drawn to the TV screens, feeding your curiosity about what happened on that fateful night. Are you ready to enter the Twilight Zone?
A secret door opens to reveal the boiler room. With the main lift out of action, nervous guests await the arrival of the maintenance service elevators. The Bellhop only adds to any insecurities you may have, sneaking up on unsuspecting guests and wishing you luck on your journey, you might just need it as you see the rickety old ride elevator.
The storytelling only adds to the suspense, the initial rapid acceleration upwards leads you to a haunted mirror where you are greeted by a ghostly outline of you and your fellow guests. The lift abruptly gathers pace, stopping all of a sudden on what looks like a typical floor in the hotel. Before you know it, everything around you has disappeared and there is only one way to go, down!
Disney wasn’t content with gravity pulling you down, motors accelerate your elevator downwards, which pulls you temporarily off your seat, only held down by that seat belt (which you thankfully checked twice before you set off on this crazy journey!). To add to your peril, the wide elevator doors open to reveal a view 157 ft above ground level. Before you can enjoy the view, the elevator drops again with a top speed of 39 miles per hour.
A mixture of laughter and relief is shared amongst everyone in the elevator before the Bellhop welcomes you back from your journey into the Twilight Zone! The mixture of fantastic storytelling alongside a thrilling ride makes this a must-do for anyone entering the Studies Park. Don’t be put off by the horror vibes surrounding the attraction, this ride is all about fun. If you are still questioning if this attraction is for you, check out the ride photos taken at the summit of the Tower. The wall full of smiling faces is proof that this is truly the number one thrill ride at Walt Disney Studios Park.
Note: Pictures have been taken from the Disneyland Paris and Daily Mail websites