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Disneyland Paris

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Disneyland Paris

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Disneyland Paris - Castle

Properly named "Disneyland Resort Paris" and often simply called "EuroDisney", this is the Disney Empire's European variant of their archetypal theme park.

Understand

Disney's theme parks are (in)famous for their animatronic puppets, the attention to detail, their service mentality, their crowds - and their high prices. The intention is to completely recreate the "magic" of the Disney franchise; employees are not "staff" but "cast members"; the park is kept insanely clean; and everywhere you will find a perfectly running machine. For example, you won't find the same Disney character twice within sight - there are no duplicates. Children are clearly the focus of Disneyland, but older visitors are not neglected either.

All the theme parks follow basically the same setup, but of course there are many regional differences.

Disneyland Paris basically consists of three parks; the Disney village; Disneyland Paris itself, and the Disney Studio park. The Village is comprised of stores and restaurants; the Disneyland is the park everybody has heard of and expects; and Disney Studio Park has a more general moviemaking theme - but it's still very Disney.

The saddest thing about Disneyland is the total commercialism. It's something you have to either accept, ignore or enjoy. Besides the merchandise stores at every corner, many rides are "sponsored" by various large corporations.

When to visit

Disneyland is infamous for its crowds. At all attractions all over the park you will see "barricades" and signs along the lines of "Waiting time at this point - 45 minutes".

It is essential for an enjoyable visit to Disneyland to plan for a good time. Ideally, you want good weather and as few people as possible.

The best times to visit Disneyland Europe is on weekdays outside public holidays and school vacations. The least-visited times seem to be September-October and May-June. Considering the French weather, June is likely the safest bet. You'll probably be able to get some very good deals during these times. (Example in June 2003: 3 days for the price of 2 days, including hotel, about 200 Euros per person.) If you are lucky, you won't have to wait at all except at very popular rides, and even then the waiting time can be as low as a few minutes.

Note that even when the park is not very crowded you will have trouble to "see it all". For a more or less complete tour, you will need at least two days.

It should be said quite clearly that Disneyland Paris is a lot of fun when you don't have to wait a lot - but almost no ride is worth waiting 45 minutes or more. However, see below for "Fast Pass" tickets.

Get in

After you arrive, first get to your hotel if you have booked one. You will get your tickets here, as well as information material (maps) and breakfast vouchers.

By Car

The obvious choice if you live in France or in a nearby region (Central Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) is to take a car. The highway system of France is decent enough and Disneyland Europe is easy to find. You should keep a supply of cash and/or credit cards ready, however, as the French charge for the use of the highways. A trip from Frankfurt/Germany to Disneyland Paris can cost approximately 30 Euros in fees.

By Train

Disneyland Paris has its own train station.

Paris RER Line A runs from central Paris to the Disneyland Paris station, with frequent trains taking 35 minutes for the journey.

Eurostar run a daily service from London (Waterloo station) and Ashford direct to the Disneyland Paris station taking some three hours. You can then leave your luggage at the station and it will be moved to your hotel whilst you enjoy the parks. http://www.eurostar.com/

Get around

Once you are in the park, your main mode of transportation will be walking. Disneyland is divided into four themed sections (Discoveryland, Frontierland, Adventureland and Fantasyland) and the central shopping and information area Mainstreet USA.

If you need to get from one side of the park to another, you can take the train which circles the Park and has a stop in each of the major sections.

Bus services exist which can take you from Disney Village and the central entrance to the hotels. These buses are free of charge.

See

Disneyland Paris is mainly a place for doing, not for seeing. But this doesn't mean there are no places with a good view.

  • The Castle (Fantasyland) is the dominating feature of the Park. While the cynic will notice the stark plastic construction, the castle's fascination cannot be denied by anybody who grew up with Disney style comics. Don't forget to visit the Dragon Cave through a side entrance; the sleeping dragon is one of the best animatronic puppets in Disneyland.
  • Disney Characters are spread liberally throughout the park. Many are available around the clock - usually the more famous characters like Mickey, Donald etc - and some are only available at certain times. Some characters move around. Care is being taken by the Disneyland administration that no character can be met twice at the same time. Inquire at any store or information outlet about the schedule of the characters. They will give autographs to children, and their main purpose is of course to pose for photos. If you have a favorite "must see", inquire as soon as you can on your arrival; some minor characters - like Stich - are hard to track down.
  • Throughout the day there are various Parades - some of them are quite famous. They include various Disney and non-Disney characters, are held in different parts of the Park at different times. The park map will have a listing of the schedules.

Shows

There are many shows available throughout Disneyland Paris.

  • Tarzan (Frontierland) features acrobatics mixed in with music from the movie. It's well done and well worth the time.
  • Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (Disney Village) combines horses-and-pistols action with food served to the audience. You have to pay € 50.00 admittance per person. The show may be interesting to some children, but it's overall rather tedious. The food isn't very good either. Spend the money in some other way (merchandise, or a dinner at the Blue Lagoon)... but avoid Buffalo Bill.
  • Honey I Shrunk the Audience (Discoveryland) is basically a 3D movie with "interactive" elements - and starring Eric Idle. The author of these lines has bad depth perception so cannot review that part; the audience seemed to enjoy it greatly.
  • Animagique (Walt Disney Studio park) is basically a small musical number with dancing Disney characters and pink elephants. Well done if you can appreciate this type of entertainment.
  • CineMagique (Walt Disney Studio park) - another "interactive" show; the theme is a trip through 100 years of movie history. Very well done, and highly recommended.
  • Armageddon Special Effects (Walt Disney Studio park) lets you experience the destruction of the space station by incoming asteroids. Probably best suited for teenagers. Avoid if very crowded.
  • Moteurs! Action (Walt Disney Studio park) A stunt car show. Rather entertaining and definitely good for some photo moments. It's next to Rockin' Rollercooaster With Aerosmith. Worth the time.

Do

Most "activities" in Disneyland Paris consist of various rides. However, there are discos and bars in the village where people meet and dance.

Rides

Easily the primary attraction of Disneyland, rides can be quite crowded depending on popularity - even on otherwise empty days at the park. If you can plan your timing somewhat, you may wish to take advantage of the Fast Pass system. When you get to a ride, you can get a so-called fast pass that allows you to bypass the queue at a set, later time. Even when the park is only moderately crowded, it's a good idea to get fast passes for popular rides early (Big Thunder Mountain and Indiana Jones for example).

Some notable rides are:

  • Space Mountain (Discoveryland) is probably one of the best-known Disney rides. The version in Disneyland Paris is certainly taxing; however in comparison to other rides this is probably more because the system is old and worn; the author of these lines felt dizzy after leaving the ride. Not recommended.
  • Indiana Jones and the temple of peril ("....Backwards!") (Adventureland) is a nice ride that's switched so people ride it backwards. It's an interesting perspective, especially since you of course can't see what's going to happen next, but in many ways riding backwards is less demanding than riding forwards. Recommended.
  • Big Thunder Mountain (Frontierland) Also one of the better rides in Disneyland, this one had the author of these lines pull in his head more than once. Recommended.
  • Rockin' Roller-Coaster with Aerosmith (Walt Disney Studio park) is probably the coolest ride in Disneyland Paris. The design (sound studio) is excellent, the acceleration awesome, the mixed Aerosmith music and "concert ambiente" of this in-doors rollercoaster contribute to the experience. Highly recommended.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (Adventureland), probably the best known Disney ride, is a water ride with a piracy theme. It's pretty harmless, features a lot of animatronic puppets and is suitable for all ages. Expect your clothes and gear to get wet, though. Features "The Blue Lagoon", an expensive "jungle ambiance" restaurant.
  • It's A Small World is a stereotypical "cute" Disney ride. Designed mostly for small children, this is a perfect ride for those who can enjoy the most impressive kitsch ever designed. It's colorful, it has a catchy tune that will remain on your mind for days, and it's a lot of fun if you do not take it too seriously. Recommended for families with young children or silly adults.
  • Star Tours (Discoveryland) Is a "Flight Sim" with a Star Wars theme. A must for every fan, but it's well done and should be enjoyable for most people. Pay attention for a few small jokes in the very well done set design.
  • Phantom Manor (Frontierland) A "haunted house" ride. Very well done and highly recommended. Pay attention to the fake cemetery on your way out for a few chuckles.

Buy

If there is one thing you will never have a problem finding in Disneyland Europe, it's stores. Various themed and general stores are spread liberally throughout the park, selling Disney merchandise and general memorabilia. They carry everything from pencils to books, from Indiana Jones Fedora hats to Cinderella costumes. The sky is basically the limit on the money you can spend at Disneyland Europe - you can buy glass/crystal trinkets and sword replicas in the central castle. If you come to Disneyland Paris with children, be prepared to reach deep into your pockets; cowboy hats and pistols or knights' swords seem to be essentials for boys; Cinderella costumes for girls. Either way, a set of goodies for a child will probably set you back approximately €50. Add to this plush dolls, t-shirts and action figures ... it's easy to spend 50-100 Euros a head on "souvenirs" - or more.

The main shopping areas are located at Mainstreet USA and in Disney Village.

Eat and Drink

Disneyland Paris sports many restaurants and bars that have mostly one thing in common: They're expensive. Some are simple fast-food joints, others are quite fancy.

  • The cheapest food on the premises can be bought at McDonalds. Perhaps surprisingly, they are not much more expensive than any average McDonalds.
  • Perhaps the most interesting ambience can be had in "The Blue Lagoon", which is built inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Prices are steep, but the atmosphere is very nice.
  • If you booked yourself into a Disney hotel, this includes breakfast. It's basically an all you can eat buffet of cereal, rolls, yoghurt, and so on. The food is not fancy, but it'll feed you well. You should also get vouchers to eat in the Park at least once (they may offer more than once depending on the booking situation). It is recommended that you take them up on it. The food is the same, but you are admitted to the park 1 hour before it officially opens, giving you a head start to the rides.
  • There is a large shopping mall a few minutes from the Park by car. If you have access to a vehicle, you can go here for all your shopping needs. This also helps if you are on a budget.
  • Bring something to drink into the park - if you walk around all day, especially when it's hot, you will need a lot of liquid. Don't forget that soda etc at kiosks is very expensive.


Sleep

Disney offers various hotels in and around the park. They vary in quality and style. All should offer a free safe to store your valuables during the day, including notebook computers. Inquire at the reception.

  • The Cheyenne hotel has a Western theme. It's a bit outside - you have to take the bus to reach the Village - and it's a little on the budget side. The rooms are nice and it's a good value for the money.
  • The Disneyland hotel is the most expensive. It is situated over the entrance to the Magic Kingdom.
  • The New York hotel is situated on Lake disney. This hotel tends to attract business customers coming for conventions.
  • The Newport bay hotel is situated on Lake disney. The theme is New England.
  • The Sequoia Lodge hotel is situated on Lake Disney. The hotel consist of a main block where most of the rooms are and a number of smaller blocks scatter through the woods surrounding the hotel.
  • The Santa Fe hotel is situated on the other side of the river beside the Cheyenne hotel. You can reach the parks by walking but may prefer to take the bus.

Talk

Disneyland Paris is mainly French, but all menus and signs are also available in English and some in other languages. All cast members speak English; and as they are recruited from all over Europe, you probably won't have a problem finding someone who speaks your language. If all else fails, the visitors are from all over Europe and the world, and a bystander might be able to translate.

Communication shouldn't be an issue.

Contact

Mail

You can buy postcards and stamps at most shops in the park. Mailboxes exist in some central locations. Ask the shopkeepers about the postage required to your destination.

Internet

The park doesn't offer Internet access to its visitors. Some of the more expensive hotels may offer an Internet Cafe though. Inquire before booking.

See also

External links