A Day in Disneyland Paris
I recently returned from an 18 day adventure through Europe. While in Paris, I knew I had to take the opportunity to visit another international park since I was right there! So while a majority of my family took a day trip to Normandy, my sister and I took the train out to Disneyland Paris.
It is about an hour train ride outside of Paris and is very easy to get to. There are several transportation options, but I highly recommend the RER if you are staying within the city. It is the final stop on the line, so you really can’t miss it.
The layout of Disneyland Paris is very similar to Disneyland. There are two parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. There is also Disney Village, which essentially translates to their version of Downtown Disney. A handful of Disney resorts surrounds the area as well, but the only one we were able to see is the Disneyland Hotel since it sits at the entrance to the park.
There is security and bag checks just like every other park. Once you go through security, you can access both parks and Disney Village. Since I was there for just a day, I will break it down into categories and give a quick overview of each area.
A majority of the rides here are also found in the US or other international parks, but they do have a few iconic rides. Unfortunately several of their most iconic rides such as Phantom Manor were down. There were so many rides down in fact, that it skyrocketed wait times for all other attractions. Big Thunder Mountain averaged a 100 minute wait the entire day.
It is my understanding that this is usually not the norm, and I sure hope so. Because we only were able to get a few rides done due to these wait times and low availablity of fastpasses.
There is a bright side though! We had such a fun time on the rides we did go on. Here are our favorites…
The exterior of this ride is gold and turquoise but has the same unique mountain shape that all the others do. However, this is a true roller coaster that includes an incredibly fast take off, loops and corkscrews. Hands down the best ride we went on that day!
Ratatouille: The Adventure
Shrink down to mouse side on this dark trackless ride and join Remy on an adventure through the kitchen. This ride is a fun and cute addition, plus any trackless ride is worth the wait in my opinion!
Alice’s Curious Labyrinth
What some may not consider a ride, this maze is truly such a fun idea that my sister and I both loved. Be warned though, it is actually quite a bit longer than we were anticipating!
Here is where I believe they stood out the most against other parks. They had quite a few entertainment offerings that were only found at Disneyland Paris. Some were limited time during the anniversary and Summer of Heros, others are permanent. Here are the favorites we watched that day!
Mickey and the Magician
If you have been to Disneyland, you may have seen Mickey and the Magical Map. It is a similar take on this show, but with a magical twist. Mickey is training to be a magician and learns some tips from several Disney characters. It is an indoor show and about 30 minutes in length. Hands down this was my favorite part of the day. Arrive early for the best seats!
Tuesday Mini Parade
Each Tuesday, they introduce a special guest in the park as part of the 25th anniversary. It happens 30 minutes before the afternoon parade. Our friends visiting were Hercules and Meg.
Disney Stars on Parade
This is the current daytime parade that is new starting with the 25th anniversary. It includes a lot of rarely seen characters such as Mowgli, the three good fairies, Prince Adam and Kristoff!
The Starlit Princess Waltz
While nothing will ever compare to Dream Along With Mickey, this stage show comes close. It includes a handful of princesses dancing around the stage and ends with all the princes joining them for a waltz. A must see while it is around!
Going in, I had been fairly warned by others that the food was nothing to rave about. And this I agree with 100%. In fact the best things we ate that day were snacks unique to special events such as the 25th anniversary and Summer of Superheros.
Options are limited and all sit down restaurants were booked. While I could have made an expensive international call ahead of time to book something, I decided to try for the day of. For a party of 2, there was absolutely nothing available. I’m not quite sure why they do not have an online reservation system such as the US parks. Like I said, the food was nothing to rave about. In fact, our best meal was at Earl of Sandwich in Disney Village.
Characters are plentiful here, but be warned, some require a reservation to be made the day off. I was completely unaware of this so we did not end up meeting any characters. Check in with a cast member when the day starts to get on the reservation list immediately, otherwise you will not see some of the most popular characters.
Other characters are out and have a continuous line to wait in. Be sure to figure out who you need a reservation for beforehand so you can plan your day accordingly. Because of the anniversary and Summer of Superheros, they had some special meet and greets. This helped make up for the crazy lines that day.
While the Asian parks are known for incredible merchandise, I was very underwhelmed with Disneyland Paris. What they had was ehh and a lot of the time, poorly made. Especially the ears! Don’t get your hopes up too high for cool merchandise here. Even with special events going on!
While it feels like Disney in a lot of ways… it is missing something special. It had a tacky theme park feel to it at times, especially the Walt Disney Studios. There is a lot of wasted space and poor design elements to the park itself.
Not all is bad though, because it has the most beautiful castle in my opinion! It is pink, beautiful and full of stained glass windows that tell the story of Princess Aurora. And even better… a sleeping dragon awaits you underneath that you can visit. If you are lucky, you may see her move and try to put fear into the hearts of her onlookers.
Cast members are helpful but again lack the same guest service expertise that other parks have. They all speak some level of English so you will never be completely lost, which is very helpful. It is clean a majority of the park and smokers are suppose to be restricted to smoking areas, though not everyone abides by this.
After visiting 4 out of the 6 parks Disney has to offer, Disneyland Paris is at the bottom of my list. I hope with Disney acquiring the majority share again that this park will make a turn around. There is a lot to be desired here, but it doesn’t feel like a lost cause. While I won’t be going back anytime soon, I will visit again in the future to give it another chance.