Like many other loyal Californians, we are major Disney fans. Ryan’s Mom even had the opportunity to meet Walt Disney when she was a child. She visited Disneyland before it opened to the public in 1955. We frequent the park in Anaheim (near Los Angeles) and have both visited Disney World in Florida.
The Disney experience in Marne la Valle just outside Paris offers two parks. The first is Disneyland Paris, which is a nearly identical experience to Disneyland in Anaheim. Disneyland Paris was originally named EuroDisney. The second park is Walt Disney Studios, which is somewhat like California Adventure, but also similar to Universal Studios. This park features a back lot tour and a couple really cool film-related productions shows. Walt Disney Studios has an old time Americana theme. There is also Disney Village shopping district which is comparable to Downtown Disney in Anaheim on a much smaller scale.
Disneyland Paris is Europe’s number one tourist attraction. It has only been open since 1992 has welcomed more than 265 million since that time (16 million visits in 2012). Disney Paris just celebrated it’s 20th anniversary, while the American Disney establishment has been around for nearly 60 years. There are seven themed Disney hotels in Marne la Valle.
More Manageable Size/Layout
In general, both parks are smaller than their counterparts in the United States. I personally found this to be a benefit because when you only have one or two days there is usually WAY too much to do. This means in California sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on attractions. The Paris parks were walkable and overall felt more manageable. We were able to experience everything we wanted to do with a two-day park-hopper pass.
Easy Add-On for a European Vacation
Another benefit of the Disneyland Paris experience is that it can easily be paired with a vacation to Paris. The RER train is simple to use and will deliver you to the gates of Disneyland in under an hour from central Paris. When looking for tickets, buy the RER A4 to Marne-la-Vallee Chessy. Additionally, there is no language barrier. We don’t speak French and were able to easily get around and understand everything at the parks.
During our visit we didn’t encounter any lines longer than an hour. We visited the parks Thursday August 23rd and Friday August 24th, which we assumed would be swamped. Although both parks felt busy, neither were super crowded. We also really enjoyed the Fast Pass program. We frequently waited less than 15 mins for some of the most popular attractions.
A one day, two-park hopper ticket cost $94/USD for one adult. That’s actually less than the $137/day price in Anaheim. Be warned that everything else is outrageously expensive. Paris is just extremely expensive. From hotels to food the net costs are just higher. That’s true of Paris in general; it’s not just a Disney thing.
Smoking is allowed and rampant in Disneyland Paris. I understand this is just a reflection of their client base, who generally smoke more than those visiting the parks in the U.S.
In the Disneyland park in Anaheim there are many attendants (they call their staff “cast members”) picking up trash and making sure things are generally spotless. While the Disneyland Paris park was generally clean, there were some areas where trash cans ran over with garbage and things looked messy. I doubt I would have noticed if I was at a typical amusement park, but since I’m used to a high standard with Disney it was noted.
Space Mountain: Mission 2
Thrill seeker? This is your ride! Space Mountain is much more of a “big kid” ride than at Disneyland in the U.S. There were multiple upside down loops and a strong feeling of G forces.
The ride moves very quickly and starts by launching riders out of a rocket booster tube. You are thrust into a high-flying, sometimes-scary journey though space.
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
This production is a nerve-racking stunt show that involves pyrotechnics, physical stunts and cars that are modified in unique ways. The actors show the audience how chase-scenes are filmed in famous movies. There is a special guests appearance from Lightning McQueen from Cars.
The entrance and the majority of the experience are identical to that of the Haunted Mansion in Anaheim. The only noticeable different is at the very end of the ride. In California holograms of ghosts appear in a mirrored wall, to ride alongside you in your cart. In Disneyland Paris the mirror is there but no ghouls ever appeared.
Aerosmith’s Rock N’ Roller Coaster
This is our favorite attraction in both of the parks. This ride isn’t at Disneyland in Anaheim but is at Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. It’s really fast, dark and there is loud Aerosmith music playing as you go. Riders start from a dead stop and are shot down a long tunnel while gaining speed. The cars are thrust upside down in a loop then immediately into a corkscrew. This wouldn’t be a good choice for small children but we loved it!
Tower of Terror
This attraction is identical to the attraction at the California Adventure. While young kids may find it a little scary, it involves free-falls not upside down loops.
Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast
The laser blast is identical to the version at Disneyland in Anaheim. This attraction is perfect for young kids. Grab a laser pistol and help Buzz keep the world safe!
Pirates of the Caribbean
We always love the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, if for no other reason than for the fact that it houses the Blue Lagoon restaurant. The restaurant is nestled directly into the attraction, so we are able to eat dinner while happy riders cruise by us and continue on to see the pirates.
It’s a Small World
The Small World attraction is pretty similar to it’s counterparts in the United States. The only notable difference is that the colors are especially vibrant and bright. This attraction is particularly well done and just like in California, you’re guaranteed to get the theme song stuck in your head.
In California the Indiana Jones ride is a jeep journey, traveling through a fun obstacle course with sets and props from the movie series. In Paris the attraction is a roller coaster that goes upside down and doesn’t have the same movie memorabilia. The ride would also be very scary for little kids.
This is an interactive movie show. The production guides viewers through 100 years of movie-making history. Beware you will be sprinkled with water and experience the sensation of the elements when it corresponds with the movie. This show has both English and French dialogue mixed in such a way that everyone can understand what’s going on.
Ironically, the park closest to the actual Matterhorn (which is on the border of Switzerland and Italy) doesn’t have a Matterhorn ride. Also, we searched high and low and couldn’t find a single Muppet reference. Americans, don’t expect to get your fill of “ma na ma nah.”
Thank you to Disneyland Paris who provided 2, two-day park hopper passes so we could explore the parks. The opinions stated above are, as always, our own.