It’s no secret that I’m what my family likes to call a “Disney freak.” I grew up on Disneyland, read every Disney history book I could get my hands on in college, and worked at Walt Disney World in Florida for five years, first operating attractions in Fantasyland and then as a writer on the Internal Communications team.
Have I proven that I love Disney yet? It should come as no surprise then that I had to spend a day at Disneyland Paris. The just so happens to be the number one tourist destination in Europe, and includes Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios Park, Disney Village and seven resorts.
The beautiful thing about Disney Parks is that, while they share many of the same attractions, each park paints a unique spin on the familiar stories. I really enjoyed discovering the details that are unique to Disneyland Paris. Here are a few of my observations:
My Visit to Disneyland Paris
Guests are able to walk up Sleeping Beauty’s castle and view Fantasyland from the second story, and the dungeon is home to a ferocious dragon.
Haunted Mansion themed attractions are in all five Magic Kingdom parks worldwide. At Disneyland Paris, Phantom Manor is located in Fronteirland. The attraction has a unique storyline that marries Phantom of the Opera with the wild west. It has a darker tone and is gorier that its US conterparts. I was actually scared!
Pirates of the Caribbean is backwards from its US counterparts, starting with live pirates and ending with the skeleton scenes. This change did not make sense to me.
It’s a Small World has a more robust North America section, featuring Canada and a, perhaps more realistic depiction of the United States complete with Sports fans.
Space Mountain: Mission 2 really gets it right. The roller coaster has a high speed lift off start and enhanced effects.
While classics such as Splash Mountain and the Jungle Cruise are not present, this park includes some killer originals, my favorite being Crush’s Coaster, which transports guests through the East Australian current on a spinning turtle shell.
Walt Disney Studios Park is the smallest Disney Park I’ve ever seen. With just 16 attractions and shows it would be hard to spend a full day here. The new Toy Story Playland is also unimpressive with its small size and carnival type attractions.
The resort is accessible by public transportation from the center of Paris. Riding the train to the most magical place in Europe with a collection of, not only families in Mickey Mouse ears and girls in princess dresses, but also commuters going to work and gypsies begging is quite a different experience than arriving at the US parks.
Europeans have a different notion of the concept of lines, which leads to Guest Queue Issues. I tried to meet Mickey Mouse, but despite being one of the first people to line up, was literally shoved out of the way by multiple guests on his arrival. Sorry Mickey. I will see you next time.
Disneyland Paris is very creative in addressing the language challenges of having guests who speak so many different languages. Most attractions are in French or English and many combine both languages so that one character speaks English and the other French. This way more guests can have at least somewhat of a clue as to what is going on. Watching the preshow of Tower of Terror, a film I’ve seen dozens of times in French was a comical change.