Walt Disney Studios – The Worst Disney Park in the World?

Disney Stars 'n' Cars Parade

Disney Stars 'n' Cars Parade at Walt Disney Studios Park

Ever since Walt Disney Studios opened at Disneyland Paris in 2002, it has faced a lot of criticism. Many fans have even referred to it as Disney’s “worst park.” ThemeParkInsider.com, a blog that frequently hates on Walt Disney Studios, published an article called “10 Reasons to Love The Walt Disney Studios” but described it as “not an easy list to compile.”

I personally haven’t been to every single Disney Park in the world (I’ve still yet to visit the company’s Asian properties) but I wanted to provide my thoughts on this debate. I’ve visited Disneyland Paris four times in the past two years, as I’ve attended grad school in London. (For reference, I’ve been to WDW 10+ times and Disneyland just a few times in my life.)

The reason I’m writing this now is I stumbled across a thread in WDWMagic titled “why so much hate for [Disney’s] Hollywood Studios?” As I read each critique of the park, I considered whether the same could be said for its Paris counterpart. For the most part, yes. Here are the major criticisms I’ve heard throughout the years on DHS and their WDS equivalents:

DHS is a “half-day” park

Walt Disney Studios sometimes barely even qualifies as a half-day park. For example, I was in the park last week, and I happened to be walking in front of a family of four. It was only a couple hours after the park opening, and the dad couldn’t stop talking about how excited he was to be leaving – he was so happy that they “got everything done” so quickly and “could spend the rest of the day in Disneyland Park.” This family of four had done EVERYTHING they wanted to do in just over two hours, and they were ready to leave.

DHS isn’t family-friendly

Going off that same family of four, they had two children about ages seven and nine, I’d guess. Possibly too short/afraid to ride the park’s thrill rides (Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror) and probably too old to enjoy the park’s younger offerings like Playhouse Disney. This doesn’t leave much, other than Crush’s Coaster (which suffers from the same problems as TSMM in Florida – it’s one of the only family-friendly rides for all ages, so the line is pretty much always much longer than any other attraction.) As a side-note, Crush’s Coaster ranks among my top 3 attractions in ANY Disney park. It’s truly one of WDS’s strong points.

DHS doesn’t have good quick-serve dining

Neither does Walt Disney Studios – hands down.

DHS is losing its cohesive theme

This is perhaps where Walt Disney Studios fares better than its Florida counterpart. The themed areas seemed more tied together (especially the neighboring Toon Studio and Toy Story Playland areas.) Plus, Walt Disney Studios doesn’t have the frequently-criticized Sorcerer’s Hat, and has retained the Earful Tower as its icon. (Although I admit it, I do like the Sorcerer’s Hat.)

But overall, even with the above remarks, Walt Disney Studios is still a fantastic park (and so is Disney’s Hollywood Studios.) Disney sets the bar in terms of theming and attractions, so really they are just competing against themselves. So yes, Walt Disney Studios could be considered the worst, but being the worst of the best isn’t a terrible rank to hold.

Additionally, I think the construction of the expansive and expensive Ratatouille dark ride will give the park a lot more of what it needs, at least alleviating some of the park’s downsides.

For those of you who have been to Disneyland Paris, would you consider Walt Disney Studios the worst Disney park in the world?

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About Adam Britten

Adam Britten is a self-proclaimed Disney geek. From a very young age, he fondly remembers visiting the parks with his family on an almost yearly basis. Currently a Master of Digital Marketing Student at Hult International Business School, Adam wishes on a star that he will one day work for the mouse's marketing department. He’s visited Disneyland, Walt Disney World, & Disneyland Paris; he hopes to complete the world tour. His favorite Disney movie is Alice in Wonderland. Can also be seen on: Twitter as @AdamBritten, www.AdamBritten.com, and his new blog about the intersection between social media and theme parks at SocialThemeParks.com.
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9 Responses to Walt Disney Studios – The Worst Disney Park in the World?

  1. Ty Wynans says:

    I frequent Disney Paris several times a year, I actually grew up with this park. I’ve also visited all the Disney Parks World Wide. On a global Disney Scale I have to admit i would rank this park on the bottom of the list. But on a european scale I think it is one of Europe’s best parks due to its high quality rides. I was extremely happy when the Tower of Terror opened and supprised by Crush’s coaster. I wonder if most of the complaints come from European’s. Coz I think that European’s are not used to the concept of a hopper ticket. When Europeans visit the US parks they visit one park a day and that’s what they are used to when they visit the Paris resort. Personally I always combine this park with my arrival, usually I’ll arrive around noon (by TGV), I drop my suitcases at the hotel and visit Disney studios, which then fits perfect. Alternatively you can combine this half day with many other activities just outside of the park. e.g. Val dEurope (outlet mall), Paris by night, or the historic city of Provims.

  2. Steve says:

    The trouble with WDS is that it lives and dies on its attractions. I love Tower of Terror, Rock and Rollercoaster, Crush’s Coaster and Cinemagique. BUT if you don’t like many of its attractions, or they are unsuitable for you, then the park really has very few other redeeming features. I could happily visit Disneyland Park, Magic Kingdom, Epcot or Animal Kingdom even if there were no attractions – the theming, dining, sights and atmosphere would be sufficient to enjoy myself for a few hours. At Walt Disney Studios – not so much. It’s tiny, mostly concrete, not particularly attractive, very little greenery or water, and with no real atmosphere.

    Someone else summed it up perfectly (sorry I can’t remember who or where) when they said that WDS is like a staging area for a Disney park – where great Disney attractions are placed in a parking lot, still in their cardboard (/concrete) boxes, waiting to be placed in a real Disney park.

    For me, WDS is like the “special features” on a DVD. The rides there that I enjoy are a bonus to Disneyland Park, but it doesn’t really stand up on its own. Having said that, I absolutely LOVE Cinemagique and Crush’s Coaster and wish they were put in the US parks!

  3. Greg S says:

    I’ve been able to visit 10 of the 11 Disney parks (missing HKDL), and it’s hard to make the case that WDS isn’t the least impressive of the lot. Granted, I didn’t give the park more than the half-day I thought it warranted, so I’m sure I missed a number of it’s key unique attractions (Cinemagique, Animagique) – but there was just nothing compelling about the place. Considering I found it several notches below the worst of the US parks (DHS – the so-called “movie parks” simply don’t do it for me, for several reasons), and how highly I regard the Tokyo parks, it ends up at the bottom of the overall list. Still, it’s worth a visit, and I was quite pleasantly surprised by what Crush’s Coaster had to offer, though it remains iffy if I would bother with a park-hopper and take time away from Disneyland Paris. Maybe not even if a certain dark ride is open.

  4. Adam Britten says:

    Greg, as someone who has been multiple times, Animagique is great – if you get the chance to visit again, don’t miss this one.

  5. Dan Rich says:

    I have been to all the Disney parks multiple times, and of those parks I would probably have to put the Paris Studios at the bottom of the list — admittedly, not far below HKDL and the WDW Studios. That said, the park does have things that exist nowhere else, Cinemagic and Animagic are two amazing shows for example. Moteurs… Action also originated there before being imported to WDW. And let’s not forget that DCA wouldn’t have a Tower of Terror if they hadn’t been able to take it out of DLP’s budget where it had already been designed and scheduled to be installed.

    You can spend a full day at the Studios, we did the first time we were there (which was a few weeks after it opened, so things were still new and the lines were still long). The thing is, you have to want to go to shows and not just ride attractions.

    • Adam Britten says:

      You definitely can, if you like to repeat favorites, and you stroll slowly through the park. But as I pointed out, if you don’t have the right age mix, it can be a limiting experience. I visit the park alone, so I skip Stitch Live and Playhouse Disney. I hit the other shows (I love Animagique) but don’t repeat them. Sometimes I’ll ride RNR a few times. I also browse the shops, and always take my time in Art of Disney Animation. But still, I can’t fill a full day.

  6. samantha says:

    Iv been to WDW and DLRP and when we did the studios in paris it only took us half a day to get it all in. This was before TOT and Toy story though, im visiting in a few weeks and hoping to stay in thier most of the day, but have hopper tickets just in case ;) It is a great little park though.

  7. James D. says:

    Great article, but you lost me when you admitted that you like the Sorcerer’s Hat and then wrote that Disney sets the bar when it comes to theming. Copyright issues aside, I can’t reconcile those two statements as long as the Hat remains in its current location.

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