Ahha, Disneyland, the land of smiles and happiness, this time in a different continent- Paris. Getting to Disneyland Paris is a breeze as the park is well served by public transport, namely using the region’s metro rail transit. An journey just about over and hour’s train ride out of the city limited (out of the 3 metro zones) will bring right to the last station on the line- the Marne-la-Vallee. You will be greeted by the Disney village upon exiting the train station. This is part of the 3 main areas of Disneyland Paris, namely them being the main Disneyland park itself, the Hollywood studios (aka like the MGM studios in Florida) and this Village which is mainly a public accessible retail outlet and F&B area.
Amazingly, Disneyland is only one of the themeparks in the region which operates all year round, even in the peak of winter in the snow. Most European theme parks, particularly those in the United Kingdom (Alton and Thorpe park) are all closed for the winter season break and only re-opening in the summer.
The park’s ticketing area is relatively packed, but fast moving. I am surprised that the park has quite a respectable crowd here despite it being a workday, presumably everyone’s here for the winter break. While student discounts for themeparks is literally something unheard of anywhere in the world, particularly the United States, Disneyland Paris do offer student ticket discounts at the counter. Just remember to ask for it as the discount is not publicly shown on the price board and bring along your student ID and proof of identification.
There is no lack of crowds here in the park, man do we really have to make full use of our fast passes for the rides here as the queues are really long. The thing which sets this Disneyland apart from the rest around the world are few customised rides built around a European theme on top of the old familiar ones we see in the older Disney parks. This is done through with a few niffy additions, paint-jobs and ride retheming so it won’t look like a complete rip off from their Japan and American counterparts.
Taking the haunted mansion for instance, or in this case, the Haunted Manor. The ride is set and built very similar to all the other haunted mansions everywhere, but this one has a unique storyline of it’s own, one of a Manor haunting the house and it being haunted blah blah blah and stuff. But the basic concept is largely the same- dune buggies and lots of dark effects in this sub-underground ride. There are alot of new sections in this ride too, such as the western and graveyard areas.
The park itself does look amazing in the winter snow. While most parks employ artificial snow and theming to give the frosty Xmas look, there seem to be not much effort needed here for that similar effect. And do frontier land look really beautiful with the natural white sheen at this time of the year.
The weather has some gripes too- with the Frontier lake frozen stiff, the steam boat ride and jungle cruises are all pretty much out of action for months. The same is for outdoor roller coasters such as the Indiana Jones Temple of Doom ride. Good thing majority of the attractions are weather-proof, such as the indoor country amphitheater, where we were treated to a Xmas ice skating performance by various Disney characters, not forgetting mickey all decked to the Xmas snow theme.
Few classic rides and attractions such as splash mountain and toontown is absent here. In place are some rides we are familiar with such as the Pirates of the Caribbean dark water boat ride, Davi Jones locker (which is just a simple cave exploration thing). The Fantasyland here is pretty much a rip off (as most Disney Fantasy lands are) with the usual rides such as Peter Pan, Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey. Only thing that they are different in French, like the Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty’s Castle).
My favorite part of the park, as with most Disneyland is Tomorrowland, the one in Paris is exceptional and simply rocks big time. Gone is the stereotypical futuristic white, typical in most Tomorrowlands. The one is Paris is decked to all gold with the whole section themed to an ultra cool steampunk look. It’s like a blend of medieval technology and rockets if you put it. Tomorrowland is home to many of our classic rides of the area, such as Autopia, Buzz lightyear space blasters, Star tours as well as the trademark shuttle orbiter (Orbitron – Machines Volantes). Too bad there is no Monster’s inc ride or laugh floor here.
The real true reason to be in Tomorrowland is the iconic space mountain and literally that is the best ride in the park. This space mountain which is Jules Verne-inspired is unlike all other ones around the world, conceived by the imagineers as a ride of a lifetime, this variant of Space mountain: Mission 2 is a Vekoma steel catapult coaster. Surprisingly, going with the space theme, the ride station is not as well themed to a space port as I was expecting, considering how better themed are the other Space mountain loading areas are, it simply does not do any justice for a ride which is so much more awesome.
The ride is set on the idea of launching people into the moon via the uber cannon on the building, complete with fancy lights and smoke effects. This cannon is essentially the LIM uphill shot section of the ride, which replaces the traditional hill lift seen on most roller coasters, propelling you straight right into an inversion inside the dark ride, with plenty of corkscrews to boot all served with onboard music too. Space mountain: Mission 2 ranks highly up as one of my most favorite coasters in Disneyland themeparks, with the Rock and Roller coaster not too far off.
Disneyland always spare no expense in bringing the Disney magic to the main street with their iconic street performances and dances in front of the castle. The one in Paris is no exception either. Making full use of the early setting sun here in winter, the performances here are all decked out in fancy lights and booming fireworks, best enjoyed at night. Totally going with the Disney magic regardless where in the world you are.
Next up, the Disney Hollywood studios!
- The city of Paris at Christmas (Album: Paris City Photos)
- The Louvre museum (Album: The Louvre gallery)
- Paris Eiffel, Notre Dame & Sainte Chapelle (Album: Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle)
- Disneyland Paris (Album: Paris Disneyland Resort)
- Paris Disneyland Hollywood Studios (Album: Paris Hollywood Studios)