As you may know, on August 24th, Rachel and I headed out for a 16 day trip to Europe to celebrate 10 years of marriage bliss. Today will be the first of a series of blog posts highlighting this amazing trip. Without further ado…Part One – Disneyland Paris!
The first stop on our trip was to Paris, France, or more specifically, Disneyland Paris. We left Thursday evening and arrived in Paris on Friday morning (Central European Time).
After getting our bags and finding our driver, we made our way out to Disneyland Paris, which was roughly a 40 minute drive from the airport. Let’s just say…the first experience of Paris was a little rough. It was absolutely pouring and our driver basically drove like the police were after him. Needless to say, I was happy to get to our hotel.
We had booked a hotel on the Disneyland property at the Sequoia Lodge, which ended up being quite nice. It had a little bit of a Wilderness Lodge feel to it (not as nice, but still pretty great). After checking into our room and dropping off our stuff, we made our way over to Disneyland Paris for the afternoon/evening. Fortunately, the hotel was only about a 5 minute walk from the Disney Village (the Paris version of Downtown Disney) or roughly 15 minutes from the two parks. (Just FYI…Disneyland Paris is split between two parks, Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios)
Once we got over to the Disney Village, we stopped off for lunch as it was already after 1pm Paris time. We knew we were going to be dragging quite a bit the first day, but if we were going to adjust to the new time zone, we needed to start the first day.
After lunch, we hit up our first park, Walt Disney Studios (WDS). We were excited to see WDS, as they have a whole section dedicated to Ratatouille, which was absolutely wonderful. We walked around the majority of WDS, including riding the Ratatouille ride.
Plus, we scored a lunch reservation at Bistrot Chez Remy (the Ratatouille restaurant) for the next day, which was a nice surprise! Both of us gave Bistrot Chez Remy 2 thumbs up!
One of the big things we noticed about WDS is how similar a lot of this park is to Hollywood Studios in Orlando. Plus, the park is quite a bit smaller than the second park we hit up, Disneyland Paris. Still, we enjoyed our time at WDS over the course of the 2.5 days we were at the parks.
The second park, Disneyland Paris (DLP), was definitely the best of the 2 parks! We probably spent 75% of our time exploring all this park had to offer. And while it had a lot of similarities to the American parks, there were several things that truly made this park stand out.
- Disneyland Hotel Entrance The first thing you come to when arriving at DLP is the Disneyland Hotel, which serves as the entrance to the park. You literally walk through the hotel and into the park. This was a neat touch and really sparkled at night. Plus, the entrance right inside the gates was truly magical as well!
- Sleeping Beauty’s Castle The DLP castle is probably my favorite castle of the 3 parks I’ve been to so far. From the waterfall to the left of the castle and walking below the castle (with an animatronic dragon underneath the castle) to walking through the castle and up the stairs to look out over the rest of the park, the castle did not disappoint!
- Phantom Manor, Alice’s Curious Labyrinth and More So while a lot of the rides at DLP were similar to the American parks (except for the French language), there were a few new rides or similar rides that really stood out. Phantom Manor (DLP’s version of Haunted Mansion) was a totally new story and might have been my favorite ride at DLP. Alice’s Curious Labyrinth is literally a maze that takes you through the highlights of this animated classic. Plus, I personally think Thunder Mountain and Pirates are probably better at DLP. Also…Rachel will tell you that DLP’s Space Mountain was easily the best one she’s been on.
- Side Streets on Main Street U.S.A. One of my favorite parts was the fact that on both sides of Main Street U.S.A. (literally on the other side of the store fronts) was an indoor walking area that takes you to the front of the park. The US parks could 100% use this, as it gets so crazy and hot down Main Street a lot of days/evenings. Just saying…
And while we had a great time and a great experience overall…a couple of other observations should be made…
- The Cast Members were definitely not as friendly as the ones you encounter in the American parks. No one was ever rude to us at all, it was just a small, but noticeable, difference.
- Smoking, while only allowed in designated spots, was not monitored at all. Almost everywhere we turned, we came across smokers. Definitely took a little bit away from the Disney magic.
- Finally (and this was probably a good thing as we didn’t spend a ton of money) the Disney merchandise in the Paris parks was definitely not as good. Almost all of the stores were noticeably smaller and not nearly as crowded as you would find in America.
Anyway, we had a great time exploring all these parks had to offer over the 2.5 days we were there. And by Monday morning, when we checked out of the Sequoia Lodge, we truly felt like we had experienced Disneyland Paris and were ready to continue on our trip with our next stop, Paris!