Having just spent the weekend in Disneyland Paris I sit in the airport departure lounge and I’m beginning to think. When I talk to people about Disneyland Paris one of the comments that often arises is “it’s not as good as Walt Disney World”. So, what does Disneyland Paris do that IS better than Disney World and all other Disney theme parks as a matter of fact. Well, here are the list of things that I think Disneyland Paris does better than anyone else. I must preface this with that fact I’ve not been to Californian or Asian parks but I’ve done enough research over the years to be clued up enough to know what they are all about.
1. The castle
Let’s be honest. Disney had to do something pretty special for Disneyland Paris. With Europe’s rich cultural heritage there are more than enough ‘real’ castles for us to visit. Some on the resort’s doorstep. Sianey have always acknowledged that this castle was going to have to be something special and special it is. Not only is it one of the more visually striking castles it even has its own dragon!
2. Their tribute to the classic movies
We all have a favourite movie whether we are a film buff or not. Often those movies are inspired by things that have come before and many can fit neatly into some kind of genre. Some movies are classics and talked about in years to come and are replayed to generations after. Disney, in one guise or another have attempted to bring these classics to life. It might be through a love stage show, night time spectacular or ride. Walt Disney World has The Great Movie Ride. Recently, it was announced that TCM will update some of the pre show and end film montage. This is great and much needed but many of the scenes in the attraction can be debated as to whether they really should receive classic status. Footlight Parade and Tarzan anyone?
Disneyland Paris has Cinemagique, a 25 minute film (with lots of special effects) that cover most movie genres one way or another and give more nods to modern classics than the Great Movie Ride. Nearly every movie most people will have at least heard of and it recognises modern classics such as Star Wars and Titanic. It also acknowledges newer studios such as Pixar. The film is witty, with funny man Martin Short playing the main protagonist, and really does bring together some of the most iconic movies and characters of all time. It’s a gem of an attraction held within the Walt Disney Studios Park. The show only runs at certain times during the day.
Walt Disney Studios boasts the only place in the world that you can enjoy this fantastic attraction. It takes a mixture of 3D and trackless technology and merges them brilliantly together to create the next generation Disney attraction. This is one that you must try on a trip to Disneyland Paris and it makes my list because it exists nowhere else in the world but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is replicated with more success than Lights, Motors Action did.
4. Access to the surrounding area
At Walt Disney World, Disney have done a very good job of creating a resort that cuts off much of the outside world. Transportation within the resort is excellent but try and leave the resort without your own vehicle and suddenly it becomes very difficult. Disneyland does have Anaheim on it’s doorstep but downtown Los Angeles in also a bit of a trek. Asian parks fair better on access to the surrounding area but nothing can beat Disneyland Paris. Here, guests can jump off the metro or train and be at the park gates in minutes. Not only that, but guests travelling from abroad can reach the resort in hours. Eurostar runs directly from the UK to the station within hours and those travelling to the resort by plane can reach the parks from the airport in 10 minutes.
The metro has good links to the centre of Paris (around 45 minutes travel time) and you can even stay further afield, such as Val D’Europe and have less travel time than if you were staying in a Disney resort and at a fraction of the cost.
Ok, this may be a contentious one but hear me out. Every Disney park does Christmas and does it really well. US parks have hard ticket events as well as numerous other offerings that Disneyland Paris don’t but that isn’t the reason behind why I think Christmas is better at Disneyland Paris than anywhere else because my argument just wouldn’t make any sense. My reason is because Paris is the only place where you can get real Christmas weather at Christmas time. Here, you have to wrap up warm because it is going to get very cold. If you get a mild day in the park you are lucky. Coffee and hot chocolate are sold by the bucket load and people are lapping up mulled wine, churros and any other delightfully warm treat at the German Christmas market that is spread across Disney Village. Disneyland Paris is also the only park where you can expect the white stuff to fall. I’ve visited several times during the Christmas season and watched the parade go by while real snow is falling. We all have the picturesque image of being wrapped up in layers, hat gloves scarf, the lot. You get that in Paris, it really can be that cold! As if that’s not enough, they also have Disney Dreams of Christmas (an adaption of the World of Color – Winter Dreams). If you’ve not seen it yet, take a look.
6. Space Mountain
Another Contentious one. This attraction is nothing like any other Space Mountain. Instead of the tame 1970s design, this Space Mountain gives you a full on thrill ride unlike it’s counter parts. The rides begins with a shot from Jules Verne’s cannon before taking you on a twisting, turnings, stomach churning journeys through space. Admittedly, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s one big enhancement over the original.
7. Pirates of the Caribbean
What? I hear you cry! Yes, I really am putting it out there. This version doesn’t include Jack Sparrow and is faithful to the original. What I mean by that is that the political correctness of other versions hasn’t happened making it a slightly edgier version of the attraction. On top of all of this, Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland Paris has a much more logical storyline. With the need to tell a story visually and not rely on dialogue. The setting of the attraction also fits brilliantly with the area. Nestled in part of Adventureland, the fort which contains the attraction links straighten to Adventure Isle and Captain Hooks ship.
8. The Entrance
Most of us reading this will probably never get the chance to stay in the Disneyland Hotel. The flagship resort in Disneyland Paris is the entrance to Disneyland Park. The shining pink structure gives Disneyland Park the most impressive entrance of any Disney park around the world.
With the surrounding Fantasia Gardens, it’s very difficult to top such an architecturally stunning entrance to any park. It certainly begins to build anticipation for what is to come on the opposite side.