Here is an article by Guest Author and Disney Character, Claire Liddon. Claire agreed to tell us all a little bit about her experiences getting to visit Disneyland Paris on the other side of the pond, and give us all a feel for what the parks are like.
Thank You Claire!
Disneyland Paris – Disneyland Park
Disneyland Paris – Walt Disney Studios Park
Disneyland Paris, formerly known as Euro Disney, is very European, however within Europe there are many different cultures, traditions, expectations etc… The well-known American feel to a Disney park isn’t obvious here and at times it feels overly polite as though they didn’t want to offend anyone. So this does lead to some issues which is that no one really knows what is expected of them.
The next obvious issue to raise is language barriers. Most of the shows are in French, with at times some basic attempt to translate the bare minimum into English to help you understand. Within the Studios, they do perform some English shows at specific times so make sure you pick up a time guide to help you there. Parisian’s are also quite indifferent and won’t make a huge effort to help you out. They are all supposed to be able to speak English, and under their name tag are flags to highlight what languages they speak. One of the best ways to get around this, is when ordering food. Order by number or point, or when asked for water ask for the brand name, Vittel, Perrier etc. They have a lot of problems understanding the American accent when asking for water.
Security at Disneyland Paris is a bit different in that every bag goes through an x-ray machine and everyone goes through a metal detector. This has been common practice for many years. This is because although the park & the village are on private land the rest of the area there is public, and you will see traders trying to sell you ‘stuff’ in the small area between the parks & the Village.
The two parks are next to each other. They are very close, much closer than Disneyland is to Disney’s Californian Adventure. You can move between the two parks very freely without having to go through bag check again. They are also very small in comparison to the American parks. I would strongly recommend getting a hopper option to give you the flexibility of moving between parks if needed. The Disneyland Hotel is situated over the gates into the Disneyland Park.
They do have some very unique rides, and the castle, themed on Sleeping Beauty’s castle is considered one of the prettier castles that has been built. Be sure to check out the dragon sleeping below – but beware it might be too intense for little ones! Thunder Mountain is done on a separate mountain, which is separated via the river. Space Mountain, is a very intense coaster but is generally thought of as one of the best that there is. Ride queues are done mostly indoors, as the weather is variable.
Meal Plans – These are very hard to get good value from. This is because you are given a voucher which is for a set amount and if you spend under it, you don’t get any change. You also can only use the vouchers in set places. In my experience you are better to not bother with the meal plan, but be aware food is very expensive here. Paris is expensive and this is also true of the park. I found the plan to be more trouble than it was worth and I didn’t really feel that I got value for my money from it.
Counter meals tend to be pricey and expensive. There is a mini mart in the train station so that you can get fresh bread etc and bring in food. This is perfectly acceptable in France, and you will notice a lot of people bringing in picnics. Neither park is dry, for one simple reason, the Europeans wouldn’t stand for it, but it is expensive.
Sit down meals, the Blue Lagoon which is inside Pirates of the Caribbean whilst pricey is very good, and one to recommend. There are a wide selection of eateries both in the parks and in the village to suit all budgets and tastes.
Fastpass is available in the parks on some of the more popular rides, this is the old paper Fastpass system and they are very tight on return times. There isn’t much wiggle room for missing your return slot. You can take as many Fastpasses as you are allowed to, either after the END of your ride time has expired, or after 2 hours from issue.
Hotels – Nearly all of them are within walking distance to the park and taking the bus is actually longer than walking. The exception to this is Newport Bay which is located at the other end of the lake. There is a privately run “train” that takes you from the hotel to the edge of the village, but it is a separately paid for service.
Disney village, is tiny compared to the likes of Disney Springs or Downtown Disney. It is a line of shops and eateries. There is a McDonald’s, which is set back off the main line, and there is a recently opened Earl of Sandwich. There is limited seating here. You will need to go through security to enter this space coming from the parks, so be prepared to queue and put all bags through the x-ray machine.
Some of the less glamorous points;
- Its Paris & Disney its expensive, very expensive
- The washrooms smell, no matter what time of day it is. The ones in Fantasyland always seem to be the worse
- Disney has just brought back a load of shares, so they are slowly addressing that this has been quite a neglected park.
- If the park closes at 7 pm, and a ride has a posted wait time of 30 mins, you will be stopped from entering the queue after 6:30 pm.
- Character greetings – there is no organised queue and it really is a question of getting elbows out and being quite aggressive to get to the character. The handler doesn’t really do anything. Adults are overlooked. In Europe, Disney is firmly for the children. Adults liking Disney are looked at with suspicion.
- Winter, it does snow – bring thermals!
- Summer, it can get very warm
- Rain, it happens and tends to be cold with it as well.
Overall, it is a very different take on Disney when being directly compared to the American parks. There are many unique rides/ shows etc which are so lovely and shouldn’t be missed however, it is a park of many cultures.
Have A Magical Day!