In this post, I talk about what happened when we visited Disneyland Paris, six years ago today. Copied from the original “Honeymoon Chronicles” post.
Bonjour, mes amis. This is Day 3 in Paris! Oui, oh oui!
When we last left the blogosphere of The Honeymoon Chronicles, The BCPF and I were wandering through the streets of Paris seeing the Eiffel Tower and watching some dude water the ivy on the garden wall. One thing I did forget to say was in our street touring we ended up behind an older/elderly couple that were walking through the streets holding hands. They seemed to be natives and looked happy and content. I told The BCPF that that would be us in about 30 years. I had her take a picture with her digi-obscura and you can see the result here.
This day was something that I had been waiting on. We missed the opportunity last year and this year, we weren’t going to miss it. I’ve touted myself as a Disney guy over and over and over, and I’ve been to Walt Disney World fifteen times! So, it just seems natural that I’d visit other Disney theme parks. And, that’s what we did on this, the third Parisian day.
The way to Disneyland Paris is to find the RER A Train. RER means Réseau Express Régional or Regional Express Network. This train serves from the city proper into the outlying suburbs. This particular train was going to the Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy. That station is right at the gates of Disneyland Paris. So we took our tickets that we pre-purchased and walked up to the main gates of Paris’ “Happiest Place on Earth.” Disneyland Paris is made up of two theme parks in one: the “Magic Kingdom” part and Walt Disney Studios, which is DLP’s version of WDW’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
When we arrived, there was a giddiness that had already taken me over. When we got to the turnstiles I was about to hop them before they took the tickets. But, I didn’t. I held it together. Once through, though, I had settled down a bit. It looks a lot like the Magic Kingdom: firehouse, confectionery shops, outlet-like shops, and even a Casey’s Hot Dog shop. Casey’s doesn’t open until 11a there and we were about 10 minutes early. The BCPF and I have a tradition of going to Casey’s as the first thing-to-do on every trip to WDW so why not carry that tradition on to DLP? A couple of things that are different was that the dogs – all of which are foot longs – came prepackaged and there was no “fixin’s” bar. They came how they came, either with melted cheddar and bacon or without, and that’s pretty much how it is. Paris apparently doesn’t know what yellow mustard is, only Dijon mustard. While I love me some Dijon mustard, I want yellow mustard on my hot dog. So, a couple of dogs (mine with cheese and bacon, hers without) with fries and bottled sparkling water and we’re ready to move on.
Once you move off of Main Street U.S.A. (yes, that’s its name) the similarities to Magic Kingdom get a bit weird. Not dissimilar mind you, just weird. Did I mention it’s weird? Anyway, just like its Anaheim counterpart, this Disneyland’s castle is called Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant or Sleeping Beauty Castle (WDW has Cinderella Castle). As you can see the castle is pink. The inside of the castle has a few shops – glass and crystal making shop and a Christmas shop. The upstairs features stained glass windows and a spinning wheel, like the story. Underneath it there is an animatronic dragon in a grotto that is supposed to represent Maleficent. It’s actually pretty cool. You can then step out to the side and be under the bridge that connects the castle to the “land” and that covers the “moat.” A pretty and relaxing waterfall is present here as well. Not as spacious as Cinderella Castle, but appealing and interesting nonetheless.
Surrounding the castle, as is the case in both Disneyland California (DLC) and WDW, is a collection of “lands” that represent various themes. In WDW (the one I’m familiar with) there is, clockwise, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. In DLP the lands are (in the same order): Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Discoveryland. There’s no equivalent for Liberty Square, which is the counterpart of New Orleans Square in DLC. Confused, yet? It’s not rocket surgery, but more info than you’d probably ever want to know. Some other oddities to me are that the haunted house ride is called the Phantom Manor instead of Haunted Mansion, the storyline is entirely in French, and sits right next to Big Thunder Mountain; and this after you pass the Legends of the Wild West which looks like the fort on Tom Sawyer Island in WDW. Those sit in Frontierland. Then we moved to Adventureland where we saw the DLC version of Swiss Family Tree House called Le Cabane des Robinson. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride was closed.
Moving on to Fantasyland there were some familiar rides like Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, a carousel called “Lancelot’s Carousel” and Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (Cups, in DLP). But something we don’t have, which to me seems redundantly similar to Snow White, is Les
Voyages de Pinocchio. I don’t know, it just seemed like it was rehashing her ride. Also, there’s Le Pays des Contes de Fées (Land of Fairy Tales), a mostly useless boat ride around a loop that shows models that represent various fairy tales. I know that sounds kind of harsh, but really, it seemed like they just needed to stuff something in a space and this was it. The theming was nice, but really, meh. The main attraction in this land, though, was It’s a Small World. The queue is actually outside and there’s an open court that, I’m sure, lends to queue management during the busy months. The DLP version actually has some American theming that you don’t see in the American version (at least not at WDW). Overall, there were several things that matched the WDW, but overall it kind of fell flat.
We moved on, then to the Tomorrowland equivalent: Discoveryland. There was Space Mountain: Mission 2 and Star Tours, Orbitron – Machines Volantes (Astro Orbitor) and touching on some Epcot action, Captain Eo starring Michael Jackson. There was also a very strange 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea thingy called Les Mystères du Nautilus that was basically a “life-size” model of The Nautilus that Capt. Nemo sailed in the story/film. It was a cool, shady distraction but really I don’t get why it was there.
So we decided to head over to the other park, “Walt Disney Studios,” which is kind of like a misnomer because there aren’t any studios there; not working studios, anyway. There we did ride the Studio Tram Backlot Tour which is very similar to the now-defunct ride of the same theme in WDW. We skipped around inside looking at some of the rides and comparing/contrasting with WDW. We also rode the Les Tapis Volants – Flying Carpets over Agrabah that are also in WDW. There’s a Twilight Zone Tower of Terror there. I’ve never ridden the one in WDW and wasn’t about to this time, either. Some of the other rides were Ratatouille: The Adventure (which we didn’t know anything about it so we didn’t get in line for it), Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop (like a drop zone/Tower of Terror-type ride), Rockin’ Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith (just like in WDW), Crush’s Coaster (not riding roller coasters) and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye (bumper cars). Interesting things, yes, but nothing I wanted to ride.
I’ll be honest here, I was just going through the motions mostly at this point. We’re not really “thrill ride riders” as much as we are “experiencers.” There was something of a letdown when it came to the whole “Magic Kingdom” and Studios aspect. Parts of my problems were as such: The park opened in April, 1992. It seems that most of the park was still stuck there. In Disneyland Paris you can see ceiling tiles, a/c units, cobwebs where they shouldn’t be, etc. There was no attention to detail and “keeping the magic alive” happening. They were fleecing money from the consumers and tourists only. I’m not naïve enough to believe that’s not what is happening in WDW but when I’m there, I get that air of mystery; mystique. Unless you’re really looking for it, you’re not going to find many things out of place. Notice I don’t say all, that’s virtually impossible, except Disney does a darn fine job of it. The ceiling tiles in It’s a Small World are painted black with other decorations giving the perception of depth and infinity. DLP there were tiles missing and you could see the a/c above holes in the drop-tile. I know I’m repeating but the illusion is lost there. The paint jobs on the attractions are old and tired. I’m thinking there should be a push in the Disney Company to capitalize on the fact that DLP is finally profitable. You’d think they’d want to do what WDW and DLC are doing, updating, renovating, refreshing their parks.
Now, all that being said I’m glad I saw it. Truly, even knowing what I know, I’d really hate to have missed seeing it. If my son wants to see it, I’ll definitely take him, in a heartbeat. However, as I said, I’ve seen it. I don’t ever have to go back. Been there/done that. I was so done with DLP that we didn’t even eat anything else there. In WDW, food is the main highlight of my trip. So that’s saying something. But, hey! I was with my new bride, so that’s awesome, too.
One thing that I found cool outside of the parks proper was the inclusion of benchmarks of the other Disney parks in a “compass” and I’ve included them here.
We decided to go back to Paris to see what we could find and where we could explore. That’s part of the next blog. This is already long, as it is. Next up in The Honeymoon Chronicles, it’s the most bizarre experience I’ve ever had at a restaurant.
Like I said, I would have always kicked myself for not going if we didn’t, but I am glad we did, even if I didn’t really care much for it. This is primarily the reason I don’t get excited about Disneyland in Anaheim. If it’s not WDW, I don’t want it. Anywhat! I’m out for today…
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“I’m a big Disneyland nut.” – John Lasseter