When Disneyland Paris opened up on April 12th 1992 Europe finally had their own Disney gate close to home. With it’s park larger than any Disneyland or Magic Kingdom Park it was an impressive feat to behold. However it lacked in rides and entertainment, now 27 years later, is Disneyland Paris worth a trip to cross half the earth?
Let’s start at the beginning and explain why people haven’t been jumping up and down to spend thousands of dollars to visit the Paris version of our most favorite franchise in the world.
Time does not equal improvement
When Disneyland Paris got designed, the imagineers had perfection in mind. Disneyland in Anaheim was their original, Walt Disney World was their expanded Universe. However Disneyland Paris was a clean slate, a chance to do it all over again and right this time.
March 16th was the day that the Walt Disney Studios park opened, which of course is an improvement, although it was so minor that it kind of flopped for the bigger audiences. Tower of Terror has been a fan favorite, although not for the price asked.
Disneyland Paris has been stuck for over 20 years with what they got and that was it. Space Mountain got added, rides has come and gone. However they did keep improving in the first 10 years. Toy Story Land got added to the Walt Disney Studios park so the little Mickey fans got some extra love. The fans got disappointed every time and it has been hard to be a fan of Disneyland Paris.
Euro Disney Company vs Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company had built Disneyland Paris on very expensive terrain just outside of Paris and the first couple of years the park did not meet expectations in audience numbers and sales. So the Walt Disney Company sold Euro Disney to the Euro Disney Company, making Euro Disney a franchise.
The Euro Disney Company started a lot of special sales for their hotels and ticket prices. There wasn’t a day that there wasn’t an advertisement on tv or the radio. That brought in a lot of families wanting to be in Disney for a lower price. Although that was a good thing, that did mean a lot of money was lost on advertisements and a lot of money lost on those deals. It was the start of 2 decades worth of red numbers in their books.
The Reboot of the Franchise
A change of direction was needed. Crow attendance was down, the books were all red and the name of Euro Disney became infamous. Que the reboot of a century. Disneyland Paris was born. What did this mean? The Euro Disney company was investing in the parks again and a lot of much needed refurbishment was done.
Disneyland Paris decided to invest in new night time shows where projections were used instead of just a lot of expensive fireworks. Parades were reimagined and became top notch again. Talent was recruited all over Europe and it was cool to work for Disney. Although this was a major hit in the budget department, the crowds came back by the masses.
The Walt Disney Company
Just before the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris, The Walt Disney Company announced that they would buy all the stocks back that they previously sold to cover their start up costs. With that buy out they also announced that they were investing 2 billion investment into the Walt Disney Studios Park.
That means that Disneyland Paris is getting the love it deserves and very much needs. With the coming of Marvel Land, Star Wars land and Arendelle it brings a lot of value to a park that was neglected for over a decade.
Why should you visit now?
History lesson is now over and let’s talk about the present state of Disneyland Paris. And there is a lot to talk about. Let’s start with the major differences between all the lands and their American counterparts.
There is one land that has never changed much in it’s core. Stuff has been added, although the recipe stays the same. You’ve got your classic dark rides, your dumbo carousel and of course the famous carousel that Walt loved so much.
However there is one very unique addition to the Disneyland paris version. There is a Alice in Wonderland labyrinth. This might not be a major attraction, although it is loved by fans of Alice. It’s not a very hard maze, yet it is delightful to walk around and see all that’s Alice in Wonderland. It gives great photo opportunities as well.
The most impressive thing of Adventureland to me is the scenery. You feel like you are walking next to Jack Sparrow with all the greenery and props. Of course there is a Pirates of the Caribbean that is based on the Disneyland version, however after all these years of refurbishments it got it’s own identity. It was also the last version to get the movie characters in the ride.
Adventureland also has an Indiana Jones coaster. Instead of a majorly cool dark ride, we have a coaster that has a tiny yet exciting loop. The theming is pretty brilliant and in the past it even went backwards to add more excitement.
Thunder Mesa has a backstory! Where other versions of Frontierland are basically cowboy town, we have a full backstory worth of lore. Starting with Phantom Manor. One of my most favorite rides. Standing on top of a hill overlooking Thunder Mesa and Big Thunder Mountain we have a haunted house that looks very impressive.
Talking about Big Thunder Mountain, our version is on an island. Where the US versions have Tom Sawyer Island, we have a rollercoaster at that same spot. You depart from Thunder Mesa and travel a long way under the water at great speeds. The noise that comes from it is amazingly loud and adds much to the experience.
Where you have Tomorrowland, we have Discovery land. Fully inspired to resemble a future city in the mind of Jules Verne it is all made to be futuristic, yet it’s also very retro looking.
If you look at our version of Space Mountain, you will see that you get launched into space with a very large canon. This was all from the time where Space Mountain was meant to resemble the famous movie inspired by Jules Verne where someone gets shot to the moon with a canon. Because of the speed upgrade you get from being launched into space we also have a half loop in our ride to space. Our Space Mountain is also seen as the best and smoothest version of the famous roller coaster.
Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast is a fan favorite laser game ride. I rode it a couple dozen times and it still feels fresh to me, no ride feels the same and becoming a space ranger for a high score is addictive! The only downside? It always has a long que!
If you think Hotels for Disneyland Paris, you will think Disney, although the hotels are more based around European style service and utilities. Disneyland Paris is more the “you just sleep here in a magical place” rather than it would be a resort on its own. For Europeans that is perfect as how we like to travel and discover places. If you are from the US that might seem like that there isn’t enough to justify the price.
However the hotels do give a lot of value, the theming is really nice, you feel like you are indeed in the US while visiting the hotels in their respected themes. It never gets old just checking out the hotels and making pictures. Lake Disney give amazing views of these hotels and it will make you feel like you aren’t in Paris, but rather in a magical Disney place.
One of the most complaints people give on forums about Disneyland Paris is the service provided. And I believe that this is the biggest reason why people won’t visit Disneyland Paris from the states. People in Europe are dead honest, they rather give you their brutally honest opinion rather than to lie and give bad information.
However this does go both ways. Whenever we visit the US we despise the big smile nice act service we get. It seems fake and not honest at all. We rather have a cranky but honest employee. If you love the fake smile and over the top service, more power to you! Everyone has their own prefered method of getting helped.
My American friends love my brutal honesty, they know exactly what I think of them and they often come back for advice to me. I think if you know what to expect that you will appreciate this method of service a lot more. However French people can be more cranky than most Europeans, that’s of course more an opinion rather than a fact. But when you expect cranky and you get great service, you will be happier!
If you ever want to visit Paris and take a trip to Disneyland Paris, you will absolutely love it! However wait a couple of years for all the construction to be done. It’s a lot of money and Europe is definitely not cheap, hotels are the most expensive in the western world. However if you always dreamed of going, you really should go! It will be a trip of a lifetime!