Comparing Disneyland Paris to Disneyland in California
I've been to the original Disneyland Park about fifteen times in
the past decade. My wife and I honeymooned at Walt Disney World
in 1995 and in the summer of 2005 we visited Disneyland
Resort Paris. This page compares Disneyland Paris to the original
Disneyland Park (and to a lesser extent the Magic Kingdom in Walt
We encountered very few American's at the park formerly known as
EuroDisney. Out intent is to provide information for experienced
Disneyland fans who are thinking about visiting.
Note that when we refer to "Disneyland" we mean Walt's
original park in Anaheim. We'll use "Disneyland Park Paris"
to refer to the park in Europe.
Disneyland Resort Paris is located near Paris and the Charles de
Gaulle Airport. There are direct shuttle buses (12 euro) to and
from the resort and airport. For those starting with some time in
central Paris, there is a train line that runs directly to the Disneyland
Resort. The resort consists of two theme parks and several hotels
with varying price structures.
Disneyland Park Paris
This park is similar to the other Magic Kingdoms, and is significantly
larger than Disneyland in California. The walkways are wider and
more picturesque, and there are many different paths between the
lands. The selection of attractions is very good, though there are
fewer E-Tickets compared to Disneyland.
Main Street USA
In addition to a wider Main Street, there are covered arcade walkways
behind the stores. These are effective for staying out of the rain
or just making a quicker cut-through to the Hub. In a rare feat
in a Disney park, beer is available at Casey's Corner, but only
when purchased with a meal. The hot dogs here are great.
The parades were okay. We liked the Wishes fireworks show and the
Wonderful World of Disney Parade. Disney's Fantillusion parade was
less effective though we appreciated the cast member who kept the
crowd entertained while we waited.
Main Street itself is similar to that at Disneyland, except that
it is shorter and has fewer varieties of goods for sale. City Hall
looks nice but instead of the Opera House there is a transportation
building that doesn't look as elegant. The hub doesn't contain the
Partners statue of Walt and Mickey (it's over at the Walt Disney
The Disneyland Railroad has a nice looking station, and the ride
does include the Grand Canyon as you enter Frontierland. But that
was really the main highlight, with far less to see than the Disneyland
version. Also, for some reason you could only board the train in
Main Street, which made for longer lines.
larger than at Disneyland and featuring a much better version of
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The train goes underneath the river
and careens around an island in the middle. This version is more
intense and longer.
The Phantom Manor (i.e. Haunted Mansion) begins similarly to the
California version but with a larger emphasis on the bride. The
last scene really plays up the Frontierland theme with a western
town and lots of skeletons. The cast members did a great job scaring
people while entering the Manor.
The entrance fort features a Legends of the Wild West history tour
and makes for some nice exploration.
The riverboats weren't running, for no apparent reason. Most of
the rest of Frontierland isn't very exciting: a petting zoo, a small
Pochahontas-themed play area, and the Railroad station that wasn't
open (passengers could exit but not board the train here). We didn't
attend the ill-themed but apparently very good Tarzan Encounter
Critter Country? Not to be found. No Splash Mountain.
land features Pirates of the Caribbean, which is on par with the
Disneyland version. Purists will bemoan that some of the scenes
are in a different order (you go up on the waterfall at the beginning
of the ride, not the end) but for the most part this is the same
excellent ride. The que is much better themed and The Disneyland
Railroad drives through this ride, though it would be hard to spot
from the boats. The Blue Lagoon restaurant is inside this building
Indiana Jones and Temple of Peril is a well-themed roller coaster.
While not as elaborate as the Indy ride in California, we thought
the "mine car" theming worked well and we really liked
the short but exciting coaster ride. The ride is a little jerky
for some tastes.
Adventure Isle is a hoot. It features a series of caves, the Swiss
Family Robinson Treehouse, Skull Rock, and more. It essentially
performs a similar function to Tom Sawyer's Island at Disneyland.
We are Adventureland nuts and we really liked this, and it's a great
place to explore when the rest of the park is crowded. There's a
pirate-themed play area for the kids as well.
Several restaurants in this area of the park were closed, and the
various trails and paths can be confusing (this could be a plus
for some). There's lots of space for attractions that seem missing:
Jungle Cruise anyone?
New Orleans Square? Not to be found.
start with the big weenie: Sleeping Beauty Castle is amazing! Photos
can give you a taste but it seriously dwarfs the one in California.
There are numerous walkways, including an upper-level walkthrough
and a lower-level dungeon featuring a dragon!
The Le Pays des Contes de Fees (i.e. Storybookland) boats load
faster because there is no cast member riding along (which language
would they speak?). This ride is longer and more detailed than the
California version, though we found the inclusion of Oz an odd choice.
The Casey Jr. train goes faster and takes steeper banks than the
original, making it a little bit more "roller coaster-ish."
Alice's Curious Labyrinth is a neat attraction. Lots of fun for
the kids and well-themed to the movie. The rest of the dark rides
are similar to their California counterparts, though we thought
the Snow White ride was much better. The Tea Cups spin fast, like
they used to in California, and Dumbo is an effective clone. Peter
Pan has some additional lighting effects near the end of the ride.
There's a nice amphitheater setting for a Winnie the Pooh show
near the castle, which doubles as a great place to watch the parades.
It's a Small World is nice, and we appreciated seeing an American
scene. Unbelievably, the song is a bit more charming in French!
But, the sets here are really plain and bare compared to the Disneyland
version. Definitely not on par. Also worse by comparison was the
slowly rotating Carousel.
Some will miss the Alice in Wonderland dark ride, though we felt
the labyrinth was a nice substitution. The railroad station was
closed here, like it was in the other lands. Like the rest of the
park, there are lots of water barriers between areas of Fantasyland,
meaning you must traverse them to get from Point A to Point B; even
without kids this was sometimes tricky.
Mickey's Toon Town? Not to be found.
Let's begin with the attraction you can't miss (because it sits
right in the middle of the land): Space Mountain Mission 2 is outstanding!
It is well-themed like the rest of the Discoveryland in a Jules
Verne setting, canon-launching the rockets into space. Inside, the
ride has outstanding (and recently upgraded) effects, and the track
takes you into several loops (or, "inversion" for the
coaster snobs). Able to go upside down was a big treat. One of the
ride operators noticed our Disney's California Adventure shirt and
asked if we had visited that park. He said that it was his second-favorite
park after Universal's Islands of Adventure. (As an aside, we're
fans of DCA but even we wouldn't rate it higher than any of the
Magic Kingdoms, or EPCOT, or... Not sure how this cast member was
coming up with his criteria.)
The Astro Orbitor is a clone of the version at Disneyland (or,
actually, the Disneyland version is a clone of this one). We like
this ride a lot. Under construction was a version of the Buzz Lightyear
ride, which we think will be a nice addition. The Jules Verne-themed
Nautilis walk-through was atmospheric and interesting, though it
had limited operating hours.
We didn't ride Autopia because it opened late at 11:00 and the
lines were super long. Star Tours is the same as in California,
though the lines were shorter because they have six ride vehicles
instead of four. Unfortunately, the Star Wars theme doesn't work
as well in Discoveryland.
There is a Videopolois theatre here, but it was showing the Festival
of the Lion King. This made for bad theming. We also don't like
the layout of this land, which forces you to circumnavigate Space
Mountain to get around. We didn't attend Honey I Shrunk the Audience,
though I understand it is the same as in California.
We didn't spend much time in this land. It made us miss Innoventions,
the Monorail, and Peoplemover. There's a cut-through to Fantasyland
but it was closed after the parades started. The railroad station
was generally closed here as well.
Walt Disney Studios
Walt Disney Studios is located right next to Disneyland Park, about
a three minute walk away. The park is similar in theme to the Disney-MGM
Studios at Walt Disney World.
We like several attractions at this park. The Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Starring Aerosmith was a great thrill, as was the Moteurs... Action
stunt show. The stunt show really is breathtaking and there is great
audience participation. The bleachers held 3,000 guests and the
stands were filled!
We were charmed by the Cinemagique attraction, featuring Martin
Short and Julie Delpy, that was one of the best tributes to cinema
that we've ever seen. It also features some interactive Disney magic.
The Flying Carpets Over Agrabah were a fun ride as was the Virtual
Space Mountain at the Walt Disney Television Studios. The Art of
Disney Animation is similar to the attraction at Disney's California
Adventure; we know this isn't universally loved but we like it.
We also liked the Disney Studio 1 shopping and dining complex that
functions as a sort-of Main Street for this park. We didn't attend
Armageddon but have heard good things.
What's worse than a small movie-themed park? How about the fact
that it isn't a real working studio. The "backlot" tour
featured sets from various movie and television shows. Not actual
sets, mind you, but just recreated for the tour. Worse, these recreated
sets were for "memorable" movies such as Dinotopia,
Reign of Fire, and Dinosaur.
This park is so small it makes Disney's California Adventure seem
huge in comparison. We experienced most of the attractions in less
than half a day.
The restaurant options here are fewer and far less interesting
than at Disney-MGM. Rumors indicate The Tower of Terror will be
built here in the near-future.
Hotels of the Disneyland Paris
There are several Disney hotels, all within walking distance of
the Disney Village and the theme parks. They vary in price and facilities,
so there's sure to be one that will work for any budget. Overall,
you'll find a better and nicer variety of Disney hotels here than
you will at Disneyland.
would you like to wake up and look out your hotel window to see
Main Street USA and Sleeping Beauty Castle? At the Disneyland Hotel,
you can. But it isn't cheap. This Victorian-styled hotel is extremely
expensive but it is right at the entrance to the park.
Several mid-price hotels rim Lake Disney. We stayed at the Sequoia
Lodge which is generally on-par with the Grand Californian at Disneyland
and the Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World (though it lacks an
impressive lobby). We stayed in one of the two-story "hunting
lodges" and felt like we were out in the wilds of the Sierras
or Rockies. This was a big plus for us, and helped us feel extra
relaxed at the hotel. The pool was nice too, featuring both indoor
and outdoor sections and a great waterslide. The Newport Bay Club
and Hotel New York are well-themed hotels in this price-range as
well, though they are a bit more expensive than the Sequoia Lodge.
We liked the low-priced Hotel Cheyenne, which felt like an old
Western town. This hotel is further away, especially from the Disney
Village, but is still within walking distance from the parks. There
is lots of "open range" for little cowpokes to run around
in and they even have pony rides!
The southwest themed Hotel Santa Fe is inexpensive but felt "cheap"
and is significantly less themed than the other hotels (unless you
love cement and rocks). It was also the hotel furthest from the
The Disney Village is a dining and entertainment complex similar
to Downtown Disney at Disneyland. There are Disney-themed shopping
stores, but no other types of stores to shop in. The focus is on
about ten restaurants and on entertainment such as Buffalo Bill's
Wild West Show.
There are several interesting restaurants here. We ate at the well-themed
King Ludwig's Castle. The food was a tad expensive and service was
slow but we did appreciate the medieval atmosphere. Also available
are Anette's Diner, Billy Bob's Country & Western Saloon, Cafe
Mickey, Lee's Snacks, McDonald's, Planet Hollywood, Rainforest Cafe,
Sandwitches New York Style, and The Steakhouse.
There is a stage here that often features live entertainment. Buffalo
Bill's Wild West Show seems popular and well-reviewed, though we
didn't attend. There's also a mechanical bull and other small entertainment
options. Just past the Village, Lake Disney becons with a variety
of activities. These range from a balloon ride on PanoraMagique,
to arcades, paddleboat rentrals, and more. There is a disco and
a live concert venue that was running an ABBA tribute show.
The Disney Village isn't very big and the shopping is limited.
Prices seem high even by Disney standards. The Rainforest Cafe building
is not themed to any large degree (compared to the awesome pyramid
at Downtown Disney in Anaheim). Planet Hollywood seemed hip ten
years ago, but not anymore.
Disneyland Paris is a great resort but our experience was significantly
impacted by several factors.
People can and do smoke everywhere. And not just a little either!
They smoke in the lines for rides, and whip out cigarettes the minute
they get off. They throw the butts everywhere. Walt Disney died
of lung cancer and even he didn't allow smoking in the park! I know
Europeans smoke more than Americans (especially Californians) but
Disney should have held out on this one.
a stereotype that Europeans have had body odor and guess what, it's
true! Not everyone mind you, but far and away more than you'll ever
encounter in America. Not fun while waiting in line (especially
the indoor ques that can get warm like Space Mountain). It's especially
troublesome when they crowd up against you or don't move out of
your way when you say "excuse me."
There were lots more folks stopping and reading the maps here,
compared to the sophisticated audience in California. That was okay,
but if you're going to stop it should be done on the side rather
than in the middle of the walkways!
Lastly, this park was dirty. I think the good folks at Disney try
to keep up but the guests threw trash everywhere. We even saw electric
street sweepers being run in the middle of the day, something you
never see in California. While waiting for the evening parade, folks
took it upon themselves to cross the barriers and stand on the grass
and flowers in the hub! These people did not respect the "House
of Mouse" that they were visiting.
Overall Impressions Compared
to Disneyland California
- Adventure Isle (compared to Tom Sawyer's Island)
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Casey Jr.
- Hotels of the Disneyland Paris Resort
- Nautilis Sub (until 2007 when the subs return to Disneyland)
- Sleeping Beauty's Castle
- Snow White
- Space Mountain
- Tea Cups
Different but still on Par:
- Alice's Curious Labyrinth
- Main Street USA
- Peter Pan
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Phantom Manor
- Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse
- Honey, I Shrunk the Audience
- Star Tours
- Disneyland Railroad
- Disney Village (compared to Downtown Disney)
- Indiana Jones
- It's a Small World
- Parades and Fireworks (compared to 50th anniversary
editions, on par with previous ones)
- Walt Disney Studios (compared to Disney's California Adventure)
Missing in Action:
- Critter Country
- Jungle Cruise
- New Orleans Square
- Splash Mountain
- Tiki Room
- Toon Town
We think hardcore Disney theme park fans will love Disneyland Paris.
Yes, it's expensive to go to Europe but if you can afford it Disneyland
Paris does offer a host of fun, interesting, and exciting experiences.
As long as you're aware of some of the downsides we think you'll
have a great time.
Opinions expressed are the personal opinions of Kevin Crossman.
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This page last modified on
Friday, May 18, 2007