Disney News

Studio Tram Tour: “Behind the Magic” History From Disneyland Paris as it Closes January 5th for “Cars” Attraction

Hi everyone!
We were provided with information and history from Disneyland Paris about Studio Tram Tour: “Behind the Magic”, which is an attraction I first rode during the opening year of Walt Disney Studios Park in April 2002 and will be closing at the end of the day January 5th, 2020. While it wasn’t my favorite attraction in the park, I have appreciated Catastrophe Canyon – something we lost at Disney’s Hollywood Studios when the Studio Backlot Tour closed in 2014. I have also walked the tram route a number of times for Disneyland Paris races and such, including during the last RunDisney Half Marathon in September. This location will become “Cars Route 66 Road Trip”. It will be interesting to see what still remains as part of the new attraction! More about that is at the end of the article.
Here is our video from 2016 of the Studio Tram Tour.

The photos and text about the Studio Tram Tour below were provided to us by Disneyland Paris – plus the upcoming “Cars Route 66 Road Trip”.

Located in the Production Courtyard, the Studio Tram Tour “Behind the Magic” takes Guests on an escorted behind-the-scenes tour of the Walt Disney Studios. The trams depart every few minutes for a 18-minute tour that includes close-up looks at actual movie sets, famous props, vehicles and includes a thrilling special effects show. Two international celebrities host the tour via a narrative video, which is available in French and in English. At the opening, the tram even passed through the Costuming workshop.

Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic features four trams that depart every few minutes for an 18-minute behind-the-scenes tour of the Walt Disney Studios. Each 6-car tram is painted in a bright red with a bold golden star pattern on the first car. Each tram can carry up to 210 passengers.

This attraction is based on its predecessor at the Disney-MGM Studios in Florida (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios), which opened in 1989. The Disneyland Paris version has been enhanced with the addition of video monitors on each of the tram cars to allow for a video presentation by a film star who hosts the tram tour and introduces several film clips that are used to illustrate key points along the tram route. The tour is hosted by international film stars Irene Jacob (French host) and Jeremy Irons (English host). Originally, other versions were available: Nastassja Kinski for Germany, Femke Janssen for the Netherlands, Isabella Rossellini for Italy and Inès Sastre for Spain. We discover these other stars at the end of the film playing to the visitors on board the tram.

The Script

Highlights of the Studio Tram Tour include seeing the famous props, cars and sets from such productions as Dinotopia, Pearl Harbor and Reign of Fire. The video includes music and film footage to show how movie sets are brought to life by filmmaking magic. Clips from the films Pearl Harbor and Reign of Fire illustrate the important roles of special effects and production design. At one point, Guests discover what the term “hot set” really means… in the explosive Catastrophe Canyon! This visit to a highly specialized outdoor set shows how large-scale special effects are staged. Guests are treated to a confluence of special effects disasters as the tram encounters an earthquake, fire, and a flash flood, showing how technology and movie-making magic come together to wreak make-believe havoc!

The Scenes

Throughout the attraction, Cast Members guide visitors and provide them with information on how a studio works. So, here are the scenes guests can discover during their journey:

  • The Bois (The Woods)––An outdoor filming location that features many sets used in actual production. Today it features a plane used in the movie Pearl Harbor and a large scale model from Armageddon.
  • Prop Storage––Oversized film props are stored in this outdoor area. The props change, depending on the most recent productions. On Opening Day, this area featured props from Dinotopia, 102 Dalmatians and CineCitta Studios in Italy.
  • Dinotopia Set––The art of “compositing” (mixing built sets with digital effects) is illustrated using this real-life example. Guests visit part of the huge Waterfall City set, the main setting of the production. At the time when it was built at Pinewood Studios in London, it was the largest set ever built in Europe. Video monitors show how this set was combined with computer generated imagery to create a mythical city populated by dinosaurs.

  • Catastrophe Canyon––A combination of effects are unleashed to show how natural disasters are staged for the cameras. A fire, flood and earthquake are simulated in this large scale demonstration of the use of physical effects. Catastrophe Canyon’s flood is created by releasing 265,000 liters of water from three large tanks at the top of the set. but to add more action to the scene, some of the water is shot out through air cannons. As for the hydraulic shaking tables used to simulate the earthquake, they are so powerful that a tram car could tip over the safety rail and tumble into the canyon if they were used at their maximum power.

  • Star Cars ––A collection of famous vehicular “moving” stars is parked in the “star car” garage. Although many of the vehicles have changed over the years depending on current productions, it has typically featured cars from Runaway Bride, Pearl Harbor, Reign of Fire or Rock among others. 
  • Reign of Fire ––Surrounded by large sets from the film Reign of Fire , Guests receive a surprise visit from a fire-breathing dragon. Guests see some of the sets as they appeared before dragon attack then witness the devastation inflicted by the dragons.

Did you know?

The large dimensional billboard that greeted guests for Studio Tram Tour “Behind the Magic” until 2007, was designed by artist Drew Struzan who is well-known for his poster designs for the Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Back to the Future sagas.

Coming soon…

This summer, a new family experience will emerge in place of Studio Tram Tour: “Behind the Magic”. Visitors of all ages will buckle up for an entertaining journey on the legendary Route 66 with the heroes of Cars, discovering natural and mechanical wonders.

Thanks to Disneyland Paris for the history! And I look forward to experiencing the new attraction later this year. Walt Disney Studios Park is going to be changing so much in the coming years, and you can see some of that in the map above.