A Trip to Disneyland Paris – Prelude
My upcoming trip to Disneyland Paris is a special one for me. Since a very young age, I have had a love for theme parks and a fascination with France. This is a rare opportunity for me to experience both simultaneously. As this will be my first visit to an international park, I wanted to do a series of three articles here on ThrillGeek about my experience. This first part, a sort of prelude, will be about what I am anticipating, the second part will come during my trip and be about what has surprised me, and the third will be a post-trip report of my thoughts overall. That being said, let’s dive into what I am looking forward to most at Disneyland Paris!
Having grown up going to Disneyland in California, my first few visits to Walt Disney World were mind-boggling. The sheer size of the resort was mesmerizing, and being a fan of theme park design and, on a larger scale, urban design, I was fascinated by one of the largest civil engineering projects in history. That being said, I now want to explore the design of the Disneyland Paris resort area. There is a railroad station on property, servicing the RER A line, a long-distance TGV line, and also the Eurostar to London via the English Channel Tunnel. The nearby town of val d’Europe (where I will be staying) was built in conjunction with the Walt Disney Company. The resort has its own version of Disney Springs/Downtown Disney, Disney Village, which was designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. Overall, the resort seems to be similar to the Disneyland Resort in California, except for one thing. The Disneyland Paris resort has seven resort hotels that are on property. There are also six partner hotels nearby.
Disneyland Paris has had a tumultuous past. Initially a financial failure, the resort has seen a significant turnaround. However, the parks have not seen the same amount of love that the other ten Disney parks in the world have received. That being said, Disneyland Park in Paris is said to be the most beautiful Disney park in the world. The castle is the talk of everyone who visits, with its intricate detailing and elaborate interior layout. Over in Walt Disney Studios Park, a major renovation is on the horizon including Star Wars, Marvel, and Frozen themed areas. I am interested to see how this park is before the changes are made, as it has been described by many as the most disappointing park in Disney’s arsenal.
Disneyland Paris is not well-known for its innovative or “world-first” attractions like many of the other Disney resorts are. Instead, the European versions of classic attractions have been perfected. As a life-long Disneyland guest and recent frequenter of Walt Disney World, I am excited to see what improvements have been made to infamous attractions such as Peter Pan’s Flight and Pirates of the Caribbean. I am disappointed that two of the attractions I was most looking forward to, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Phantom Manor, will be closed for refurbishment during my visit. Phantom Manor, Paris’s macabre version of the Haunted Mansion, has been in refurbishment for over a year now, so that was expected. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad however, was added to the scheduled refurbishments less than a month before my trip, causing me to have a mini panic attack. Despite this, I still look forward to some of Paris’s exclusive attractions.
Disneyland Park boasts the Hyperspace Mountain overlay on its Space Mountain: Mission 2 right now. This Star Wars themed update for the attraction is inspired by the successful overlay that Disneyland in California has had on its Space Mountain more than a couple times. This is one of my favorite ways to experience Space Mountain at Disneyland, so I hope that Paris’s more thrilling version of the attraction will not disappoint.
Over in Walt Disney Studios Park, two Pixar-inspired attractions are at the top of my “most anticipated” list. Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy is a trackless dark ride that has received mixed reviews from theme park fans. Some laud its use of the trackless technology, while others lament the overuse of screens and lack of vehicle motion. I am excited to experience a trackless dark ride before Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens later this year in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Also, Crush’s Coaster is a spinning indoor roller coaster that looks unassuming and underwhelming from the outside, but it is the rope-drop attraction of choice for most guests to Walt Disney Studios Park.
Culture in Context
I have been visiting American theme parks since before I can remember. Whether the ultra-themed Disney and Universal parks, or the thrill-packed Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks, I’ve been through nearly everything a theme park can throw at me. That being said, a European culture is sure to throw me for a loop. The guests are used to a different lifestyle, the parks have different policies, and I am a stubborn theme park fan who is stuck in his ways. There will surely be a learning curve when I first arrive in Paris.