As a huge Disney fan, visiting an international Disney park had always been a dream of mine. With all the interesting comparisons that people make to the American parks, it would be weird of me to not have that dream. However, I didn’t think I would get the opportunity to visit one any time soon. Going out of the country is a challenging (but fun) spectacle with daunting opportunity costs: time, money, etc. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to take my first vacation out of the country this past summer. We visited both London and Paris, and during the latter part of the trip paid a visit to Disneyland Paris Resort. The resort is home to two parks; Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios. I’ve now had a few months to mull over my thoughts on the parks, and I’m ready to share them in this review.
Before I start though, I just want to say that if you ever get the opportunity to travel out of the country and visit Disneyland Paris, take it. The reason I preface the review with that statement is that not everything I say here is going to be positive. I would love to sit here and rave about how wonderful this park is, but a critics job is to be critical. There were good and bad parts to visiting an international Disney park such as Paris, and I’ll share them both here. However, just because there are negatives doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit. Going to Disneyland Paris might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you should definitely take regardless of any bad qualities it might have.
I honestly didn’t have too many expectations going into Disneyland Paris. All I wanted was for it to feel somewhat different than the American Disney Parks. Luckily, I’d say the resort gave off a different feel as soon as we arrived on property. We took an Uber to the park from our hotel in Paris, so we got to experience a drive on the various roads and views of Disneyland Paris leading up to the park. Since Walt Disney World and Disneyland are located in more tropical climates, it was very strange to see how much grassland there is by Paris. It almost felt like it was a Disney park in my hometown in Wisconsin. This wasn’t necessarily a pro or a con, but I definitely do prefer the climate of the parks in the states.
I’m definitely fond of the way that Disneyland Paris deals with their crowds. The day we visited was extremely busy, which was a bummer, but the cast members at the parks did their best to keep everything under control. The first thing I noticed was how quick they moved people through the entrance gates. Both Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland Paris had relatively long lines to get in, but I’d say we only waited a maximum of five minutes for each park. The cast members at the gate were being super efficient and didn’t waste any time scanning tickets. Queues for most attractions were also very long, but they all seemed to move fairly quickly. Even Crush’s Coaster and RC Racer, which were arguably the lowest capacity rides we went on, seemed to be cycling riders through with a decent pace. I don’t know if it’s always like this or not, but I hope that the cast members there keep up the good work.
Although it was busy, we still managed to ride almost all of the important attractions in both parks. Like every Disney park, there were some rides that blew me away and others that I was a bit underwhelmed by. If I had to recommend five must-do attractions at Disneyland Paris, they would have to be Space Mountain: Mission 2, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Crush’s Coaster and Ratatouille: The Adventure. All of these rides are either unique attractions that can’t be found anywhere else, or better versions of rides that can be found at the American parks. As for rides I wouldn’t recommend, I’d say Indiana Jones: Temple de Peril is a no-brainer. The coaster is painfully rough and almost no interesting elements. Another ride that I found to be a bit disappointing was Phantom Manor. I wouldn’t say the Haunted Mansion-style ride is skippable, but it isn’t nearly as good as some people hype it up to be. Both Haunted Mansions in the States are far better and have story that’s much easier to follow. Overall, Paris has a few duds, but I still think it definitely has some of the best rides that Disney has ever built.
In correlation with rides, Disneyland Paris still uses the paper Fastpass system. Although using the little (losable) tickets was a fun trip down memory lane, it was also a tough reminder of just how convenient technology has made visiting a Disney park in recent years. We were still able to get about five or six Fastpasses throughout the day, but it was a bit nerve-racking not being able to have three pre-selected Fastpasses going into the trip. Hopefully in the coming years Disney will update the system to be on the app rather than only on paper.
I don’t think I’m the most qualified to speak on the dining options of Disneyland Paris, but I feel that something can still be said about the limited experiences I did have. Firstly, while we were visiting there was some sort of Food and Wine Festival going on at the Walt Disney Studios Park. I didn’t know anything about the festival prior to our visit, so I wasn’t able to spend much time checking it out. That said, I did get some delicious Nutella churros at one of the stands. As for eating at actual dining establishments, we had two quick-service meals during our visit. The first was lunch at the Market House Deli on Mainstreet USA, which was a less than stellar meal. I had a salmon sandwich on pretzel bun that tasted pretty old and gross. Luckily, dinner was much better. We ate at Au Chalet de la Marionette, a Pinnochio themed quick-service restaurant in Fantasyland. I had the Bavarian Hotdog with Currywurst Sauce, and it was probably the best theme park hotdog I’ve ever had. If I ever go back to Disneyland Paris, I would love to try some of the sit-down restaurants to get a feel for some of the more exclusive and unique dining experiences they have to offer.
At the end of the day, I will always be thankful I got the opportunity to visit Disneyland Paris. Is it as enjoyable as Disneyland or Walt Disney World? No. The American parks have a certain charm that an international Disney park like Paris just can’t compete with. However, I still think Disneyland Paris has a lot of good things going for it. Various attractions are done far better there than any other park, and there’s just something about the atmosphere that felt a bit fancier or classier than the American parks. Perhaps it was the romanticized castle or the numerous walk-through areas throughout the park. No matter what, if you have the opportunity to visit Disneyland Paris, take it. I’d even say that it’s worth spending at least two days at, since being there for only one day made us feel a bit rushed. Disneyland Paris, like any Disney park, is a wonderful and magical adventure. With numerous expansions coming to the parks in the near future, it looks like there’s no where to go but up for this international House of Mouse.
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