One would think, that on arrival to Paris, anyone in their right mind, would head to see the Eiffel Tower, Nortre-Dame or the Louvre Museum. One would think…
I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport around 7am and headed straight for my hotel, a few blocks away. After quickly checking in, I headed to the train station and got on the first RER to Marne-la-Vallée, or more importantly, Disneyland Paris. I have honestly been waiting to visit Disneyland Paris for 25 years. It just so happened, that I was visiting a few days after they started celebrating their 25th anniversary.
I’m not going to give you a play by play of everything that I did while visiting, but I’ll share a few insights. Disneyland Paris is the third Disney property that I have visited. I’ve spent my entire life going to Walt Disney World in Florida and I have visited Disneyland, in California, twice. For some reason, there has always been something extra special about Disneyland Paris, in my mind. Possibly it’s the castle, which is by far the prettiest, and comes with it’s own dragon! Maybe it’s Captain Hook’s ship and Skull Rock, which even as an adult, makes me want to be a pirate! I don’t know exactly what it is, that I’ve been drawn to, since the park opened. Most likely, it’s the fact, that it was across an ocean and unlikely that I would ever visit.
The Disneyland Paris parks, as a whole, feel much smaller than those back in the states. The Walt Disney Studios, which is comparable to Hollywood Studios or California Adventure, feels much smaller. The WDS felt very strange, overall to me. In a way, it feels like it’s trapped in 2002, when it opened, or even 1989, when I first visited MGM Studios, in Florida. Although, the Ratatouille ride, is an awesome addition, that doesn’t exist in the states, most of the park feels outdated to me. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was amazing to have the opportunity to go on the Backlot Tour, one more time, and experience Catastrophe Canyon. The Paris tour, is a scaled down version of the original, but it was still pretty cool, if only for nostalgia alone. The few props that were on display, seemed like leftovers from the other parks, that most audiences wouldn’t even recognize. Although, I appreciated the addition of Cruella’s car in the queue, I imagine, that most of the guests, do not remember, or care about the 2000 movie, 102 Dalmatians.
The Disneyland Parc, their version of the Magic Kingdom, is a delight for the eyes, but seems to lack in rides. The one thing, that was most disappointing, was the closing of rides early, for no apparent reason, except possibly, to control payroll. On the day that I visited, the park was open until 10PM. I wanted to get a second, and possibly, a third ride in at Phantom Manor. Unfortunately, when I returned shortly after 7PM, there was a cast member at the gate, telling guests that they were closed for the evening.
I was extremely tired at this point, after not sleeping on my flight from Chicago. Although, I originally planned on staying for the fireworks and show at 10PM, I decided to call it a day, and took the train back to Charles de Gaulle. Thank you to the wonderful people of Paris, at the train stations, at the information booths, and anyone I happened to stop and asked for directions. Everyone was extremely helpful and kind. Merci beaucoup!
UPDATE MAY 2018: I visited again, almost exactly one year later. Instead of doing a completely separate blog, I decided to just add in new photos, to this one. We stayed for the fireworks this time and although it was super windy, the show was great!