Ah Paris; arguably one of the most romantic cities on Earth with bonus points for having its own slice of magic…Disneyland Paris.
We made a goal years ago to visit all six of the Disney Parks in our lifetime, so far we have checked off Disneyland California, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and the subject of conversation today; Disneyland Paris. I don’t consider myself expert of this park by any means. We have had the opportunity to visit twice and in very different circumstances which has given us a range of views about this park; both magical and some, well…not so magical. So, let’s unpack the knowledge I have to share and delve into the world that is Disneyland Paris.
I’ve compiled a list of five things (and some honorable mentions) to make sure you see and do whist visiting DLP and a couple items to consider before making the decision to visit this international park.
Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle).
What can I say about this most beautiful, stunning, picturesque and magnificent castle except. WOW. Now, I know this may be a shock to many of you but this castle right here…it’s our favorite castle. I know we grew up with Cinderella Castle and Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle is the original but can we just appreciate a couple things for a minute. There are tiny little escargot snails climbing up the shining golden turrets; and that’s just the start of the detail in this beauty. You can not only walk inside the castle, but up and OUT to balconies that have beautiful lookouts across the park! Inside is the stained glass story of Sleeping Beauty complete with storybook and I haven’t even gotten to the best part…
The Dragon’s Lair
Under the castle. This dark and spooky area is hands down the coolest flipping thing I have ever seen in a Disney Park. Beneath the Castle in an entrance off to the left hand side is the Dragon’s Lair. Inside, a gigantic dragon (of the breed animatronic) sleeps , waiting for it’s next visitors to wander into the cave. You never know when she will wake up, but when she does; be ready! This area can easily be spooky for younger kiddos or those easily scared but if you’re brave enough it is 100% worth the trip into the very dark cave! ** Fun fact: legend has it when the dragon and caves were being constructed, the imagineers liked to pull pranks on the construction workers and turn the dragon on while they were working to scare the pants off them!
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Ok, this here really IS the wildest ride in the wilderness! While we are just big fans of Thunder Mountain in general, this one is on an ISLAND. Which means, at one point the train goes through a tunnel under the water. **cue mind explosion** There are also some amazing effects in play here with lighting, water and details the other versions of this ride just don’t have. 10/10 for DLP’s Thunder; this one is the best to us! **Helpful tip: If you want the best ever view of BTMR get in line for Phantom Manor and when you get to the front porch, you’ll get this amazing and unique view (pictured above)!
Now if my face here isn’t enough to convince you this ride is legit a little spooky, I don’t know what will. BUT; like Big Thunder Mountain, I am firm in saying Phantom Manor is the best rendition of Haunted Mansion I have ever seen! We were unable to ride it during our first visit in January of 2018 due to an extremely unfortunate accident (you can look up what happened) but we finally got to experience the hauntings this past trip and we literally rode it over and over again. Bonus note, it’s a walk on most of the time so that’s a major win in my book! It has some similarities to it’s sister Mansions but the back story is absolutely fascinating and just lends to the imagineering and feel of the whole ride. If anything alone would make me want to visit DLP again, it would be Phantom Manor.
Scurrying over to Walt Disney Studios for one of the only outstanding things that is in Studios (sorry guys); Ratatouille! Many of you already know, EPCOT is getting an identical version of this fantastic ride very soon in the France Pavilion and I am so excited for y’all! The premice of course that you are joining Remy on a little adventure through the restaurant while avoiding major catastrophe and one angry chef; you find yourself completely lost in the incredible imagineering that went into this ride. From smells to sights and the area that surrounds the attraction outside, it’s a completely inclusive Parisian vibe that we could really, well… sink our teeth into. (couldn’t help that one guys) ** One thing to note, the restaurant Bistrot Chez Remy while adorable in all its miniature rat-sized ambiance, we found the food only meh and way overpriced; just a head’s up!**
Honorable Mentions in Lightning Speed:
-Crush’s Coaster @ Walt Disney Studios: absolutely a blast if you don’t get any motion sickness at all. Prepare yourself for the longest line ever and if you go in summer; the hottest one too! Get Fastpasses if you can!
-Alice’s Curious Labyrinth @ DLP: a fun little walk through area where your husband can run away from you and think it’s funny until no one speaks English and you’re actually lost. Not speaking from experience or anything there. But the decor is adorable!
-Pirates of the Caribbean @ DLP: Much like the one at Disneyland Park with some extras thrown in there! We loved eating at the restaurant (Captain Jack’s) inside. Jack Sparrow traded one of my ears on my head for a lady’s wallet and walked off with both. It was a little confusing but they were eventually returned by a Cast Member (we believe there might have been a language barrier issue there haha!) .
-Hyperspace Mountain @ DLP: While we only got to ride this our very first trip in January, it knocks our Space Mountain in the USA out of the park. Like WOW, talk about a launch. It had a Star Wars overlay when we rode in January which added to the extra amazing factor as we dodged in between laser blasts and looped upside down to avoid tie-fighters.
Attractions to make sure you grab Fastpasses for!
-Crush’s Coaster WDS
-Ratatouille: The Adventure WDS
-Tower of Terror WDS
-Hyperspace Mountain DLP
-Big Thunder Mountain Railroad DLP
Helpful Tips that can avoid some not so Magical Moments
Remember you’re not in America.
This is mainly in acknowledgement to the manners of others. Every country and its societal norms are very different, France being no exception. It’s very common to smoke while in line for an attraction; smoking isn’t strictly enforced there. It’s also very normal to get pushed out of the way while in line for a character (which we learned there are no lines; it’s a free for all). Knowing these things and going into the parks with this in mind helps be a little less “What in the actual” when it happens. Not everyone is like this obviously, we just experienced it a couple too many times for it to go unnoticed. Just remember to be kind, after all- it is a Disney Park and it’s supposed to be a happy place!
Consider the time of year you are visiting.
Our first trip was right after the holidays in January. Not only was is absolutely frigid but the parks were dead. Like maybe 30 people in them total. Sounds great, right? Not so much, back then DLP was going through a bit of a crisis with their budget and so that year a ton of rides and restaurants were closed and the CMs laid off. We were unaware of this going in and missed out on a bunch of rides and only 4 dining options that were open.
Our second trip we made in June on 2019 and it was a completely different experience! It was insanely hot (that might have had to do with the record high temp summer) and there were a TON of people! Even with the large amount of people, it was still so pleasant and the ride times weren’t insane. Fastpasses were a must and planning a definitely if you wanted to get on all the big rides! More restaurants were open and the quick service was a great option to get out of the heat quickly. If I had to suggest a time to visit DLP it would be late spring into early summer (avoids spring break and the heat) or late summer into early Fall.
Now, Phillip and I LOVE food. When we travel, literally one of the things we’re most excited about is the food. DLP, i’m sorry, but you kinda let us down. It’s really pricey and honestly was just so so. There is a dining plan that seems to be pretty new so if we ever go back, we will be sure to give that a try! The quick service is better in our opinion than the sit downs but that could be because either A we couldn’t get reservations (make them 6 months in advance) or they were closed. Just something to keep in mind when planning your trip!
All in All…
Disneyland Paris, you are beautiful. From the golden spires of your light pink castle to the Mickey shaped balloons that bob down Main street; we still adore you. A new president has been announced for DLP park and we are so excited to see the changes and expansions that are planned. We hope to return someday and have the most magical experience ever, but for now…you are a cute little 2 day park that will remain special in our hearts.