Bonjour! In January 2020, Freddy and I had a full day at Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park. As two Disney Park loving Americans in Paris, we had to experience this park abroad as it has been called the most beautifully themed, and boy, oh boy did we see! It was constructed in 1992 when Michael Eisner was CEO, and you can see more behind the scenes of its construction in the Disney+ documentary, The Imagineering Story. We were so excited to explore and see a park that was constructed during Disney’s Renaissance, and we were not disappointed.
There was so much to take in at Disneyland Paris, here are just a few things that we loved, what we thought missed the mark, and some cultural differences that we noticed during our time there.
Hear our full thoughts in our Orlando Adventure Club episode: Be Our Guest below!
Le bon (The good):
About twice the size as its American counterparts, Frontierland is beautifully themed with prop vehicles, a fort, and graveyard outside of Phantom Manor.
2. Phantom Manor
Located in Frontierland with a beautiful porch view of Thunder Mountain, Phantom Manor is a dark twist on the classic Haunted Mansion. While many elements are similar, the art work, story, and many scenes are uniquely different. The scary elements were a lot more intense and realistic in this ride versus the American rides, as this imagery would be considered too intense for American children.
3. Adventureland’s Skull Rock
Before entering Pirates of the Caribbean, there is Skull Rock for you to explore and the Jolly Roger to marvel at.
4. The Castle
Sleeping Beauty’s castle is unique in the ability to explore the interior balcony on the second floor, which is filled with gorgeous stained glass scenes of Sleeping Beauty, animated tapestries with a corresponding storybook, and the ability to step out onto the back exterior balcony and look out at Fantasyland. There is also a dungeon below the castle that holds a dragon, go and see him yourself, just look for the sign in the gallery below for the entrance. The castle also twinkles at night during its shows, just as the Eiffel Tower does, paying a beautiful homage to the City of Lights.
A Steampunk themed futuristic land with beautiful bronzed architecture to gawk at.
6. The Arcades
By far our favorite difference on Main Street are the two Arcades that line either side. Themed as Discovery and Liberty, these halls are filled with beautiful posters and displays of human invention and American memorabilia. They are so well themed that you feel as though you have stepped back into the 1930’s.
7. Tower of Terror at Walt Disney Studios Park
Actually terrifying, the ride is not Twilight Zone themed, but instead has a small French girl whispering at you as your elevator shaft drops over and over. The cast members were very in-character and the ride was both in English and French, as were most of the rides we experienced.
Le mauvais (The bad):
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril
Nothing like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland CA, this cart roller coaster had no theming on the queue, no story on the ride, and only lasted a few seconds. It felt a bit like a carnival ride and nothing that you would expect in a Disney park.
2. Toy Story Land in Walt Disney Studios
This felt like a very abbreviated, airport display version of Toy Story land and actually only had Toy Story themed carnival rides such as Toy Soldier Parachute Drop and an RC Racer swinging ride.
3. Disney Village
Home to only a World of Disney and a movie theatre, the shopping district was lacking in comparison to Downtown Disney and Disney Springs. Paris souvenir peddlers were also just outside of the barricades waiting to sell to tourists which felt very non-Disney would never be permitted in the States.
4. Walt Disney Studios Park’s warehouse of Hollywood
Similar to Toy Story Land, having Hollywood Blvd in a very small scale didn’t make for a very immersive experience. It was cool to see all Hollywood in the park, but we are spoiled with Hollywood Studios and California Adventure that seeing everything in one warehouse felt very odd. We actually felt conflicted about it, on one hand it made us want more, but on the other hand it was kind of cool. This is just our opinion, you might love it when you see it!
There are some key differences between Disneyland Paris and its American counterparts, which it makes Disneyland Paris all the more special. We would love to go back as soon as we can and the world is well again, and we hope this inspires you to make a visit. You will not regret it! You can hear more of our thoughts in our Orlando Adventure Club episode: Be Our Guest