Down Under Disney

The Australian Guide to Disney Parks

Down Under Disney

Disneyland Paris: First Impressions

Down Under Disney’s great friend Lexie is currently living abroad in Paris. Armed with an annual pass and a love for Disney, matched only by a few, we thought we’d ask her to write her very own series of blog posts, with a focus on this small but beautiful member of the Disney Parks family. Please enjoy the first of her posts.

The understated and beautiful Sleeping Beauty on a stunning Parisian day.

Simply Parisian

Paris is the city of lights, the city of love and perhaps most importantly, the home of Europe’s one and only Disneyland. In true Parisian style, Disneyland Paris (DLP) oozes with light, love and all things French. Different to other Disney parks, a sense of calm and a certain “je ne sais quoi” washes over you the second you see the grand Disneyland Hotel entrance. It is safe to say that DLP is very, very French. It is a place to both appreciate the magic of Disney and smell the roses at the same time. There is no need to rush, you have time to take it all in.

Below I have outlined my initial impressions of the Disneyland Park. There is so much to say about each element of Disneyland Paris. To keep the information organised, there will be separate blog posts on my initial impressions of Walt Disney Studios Park, the resorts and Disney Village. For now, let’s discuss the DLP entrance, layout, attractions highlights, food and overall first impressions.

A Grand Beginning

Before you enter Disneyland park, you need to remove yourself from reality and walk through a very grand Disneyland Hotel archway. As we know, Disney takes theming and escaping from the real world very seriously. DLP is no exception. Kicking off your DLP experience with a sense of old-world charm and opulence, the nostalgic mood is set from the very first sight of the hotel archway. With pink tones, glamorous design and endless floral arrangements, you will be captivated by the beautiful entrance more so than the other Disney parks. Making it extra magical, this initial experience is a perfect marriage between the the Main Street USA nostalgia and classic French chateau style. Forget everything you were worrying about in Modern Paris and step back in time to a more relaxed, slower pace world of fun, cleanliness and spending your day in the sun. Could you image Marie Antoinette walking through the gates of DLP? Yes.

A Grand Entrance fit for the French Aristocracy.

Adding to the magic, the Mickey mouse floral display sits perfectly in front of the Disneyland Hotel background. I cannot emphasise enough the sense of escapism that fills the air. Here, you enter a world of french DIsney fantasy.

Sticking with a Classic

Continuing with the nostalgic overlay, the general layout of DLP is similar, yet different to Disneyland. Similar in the way that there are the classic lands of discovery, fantasy, the frontier and adventure. Different in the way that things seem rather scaled back. Nothing is too overwhelming, or over the top. For instance, Main Street USA is wider and home to less shops than in other Disney parks. It looks the same, but feels slower and easier to navigate. Although there are probably comparable visitor number, you don’t get the feeling of “rush, rush, rush”, rather one of taking your time to, well, smell the french roses.

Plenty of time to stop and smell the roses (or other flower species) at DLP.

Moving on from Main Street, each land feels smaller and again, toned down. You will find most of your Disney classics, like Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Mountain, but there are a few missing attractions. You will be disappointed by the lack of Splash Mountain and The Jungle Cruise. Also, there are less cast members roaming the streets. With less attractions to rush to and fewer cast members to interact with, you will enjoy a sense of soaking up the sun. No pressure to “see it all right now”… Different, but nice.

Attraction Highlights

All Disney attractions are great for their own reasons. For one, although the Dumbo attraction is not particularly exciting, it is a classic and we love it for it’s childlike innocence and contagious magic. In saying that, DLP is home to a few key stand out attractions.

In particular, Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain is really the star of the show. DLP’s version of Space Mountain, this attraction is one giant adrenaline rush. With updated Star Wars theming, new technology and a whole lot of speed, you won’t regret the 60+ minute wait. With the same overarching concept as classic Space Mountain, the intense indoor coaster is an epic must. The ride is smooth, the lights are bright and the energy boost you will feel afterwards will keep you going for the rest of the day ha! I’d argue that this is the best Space Mountain out there.

Pirates of the Caribbean; Making up for a lack of Splash Mountain since ’92.

Taking things a little slower, Pirate of the Caribbean is also excellent. The attraction theming is second to none and the animatronics all appear quite fresh. There are even two fairly significant drops throughout your journey, making it a bit more exciting than the original. 

Although there are less attractions to enjoy, the ones that are available are all well worth it. Jump in line and get some French magic happening!

Frogs Legs and Snails

It is no surprise that food at DLP also speaks to the French character of taking things slower and enjoying the moment. This means that full service dining is definitely the focus. Although there are quick service options, these are a let down. With only a few options of baked goods and very pricey cheeseburgers, I’d say that your best bet for quick service would be a classic hot dog at Casey’s Corner… That is saying something, ha! Also, there are no caramel apples or marshmallow treats to be seen. To be completely honest, I was expecting a lot more from the “to go” options, considering the French love of pastry. Remi would not be impressed. DLP has missed the mark when it comes to snacks. Feel free to bring your own!

What DLP lacks in Quick Service it makes up for in Full Service.

On the other hand, the full service variety seems to make up for quick service shortfalls. It is safe to say that this contrast in comparison to the original Disneyland reflects the French culture of a long meal… and a glass of wine, of course! With a full service restaurant in each land, you won’t be hard pressed to find a nice table to soak up the atmosphere from. As mentioned, the entire park feels like it is running on a far more laidback clock, including the dining experiences. More than that, you are encouraged to enjoy a wine or beer throughout the park. I’m ok with that!

Conclusion

Disneyland Paris is a beautiful, food filled paradise. With sunshine, flowers and gorgeous old world architecture, you will really do as the French do and “prend ton aise” (“take your ease”). You don’t have a choice, slowing down is obligatory!

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