As I mentioned before, due to a missed flight out of Athens, we unexpectedly ended up in The City of Light. Trivia Alert! That nickname came from Paris both being the birthplace of the Age of Enlightenment and because it was one of the first cities in the world with street lights. I wondered about that during our first visit when we were up in the Eiffel Tower. The city didn’t seem any more lit up to me, now I know why!
So with our second visit, we tackled what we like to call the “Tier Two Attractions.”
A lot of kids might be upset at the idea that we’d call Disneyland a “Tier Two Attraction,” but when competing with The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and the Museum of French Kisses (at least that’s what I told Carolyn it was), well, ol’ Mickey and Goofy just didn’t qualify for Tier One Status. But on this second visit, we decided to visit Disneyland Paris, just to see what it was like in comparison to the Disneylands in America.
(I grabbed that Wait Time sign picture from the internet just because I thought it was funny, it wasn’t anything like we saw in Disneyland Paris. In fact, the wait times were decidedly shorter than anything either of us has ever experienced in the U.S.)
Right off the bat, you’re pretty sure you’ve made it to Disneyland because they tell you so. But we were still actually a little skeptical… where were the long lines of cars?
Even at the pedestrian entrance, we were pretty much able to walk right through even though we arrived just after the park opened.
While the buildings are different, it’s still very much Disney through and through.
Except maybe for the French military police armed with automatic weapons. Can’t say I blame ’em; Paris has been a target for terrorists for some time now. Plus Peter Pan is rumored to have converted to radical Islam.
Some of the signs are in some sort of strange non-English language, so we automatically thought they were stupid. Oh wait! That’s French! It says: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Aha! I knew we were fluent!
But, I guess not everything translates. While this should probably be: “Terre Frontière,” the French have to live with the English moniker.
This is easily translatable of course, but it bears no resemblance to the Temple of Doom ride in Disneyland Anaheim. It’s a serious roller coaster that had Carolyn seeing double once she stumbled off the ride. But note the wait time… 5 minutes! And this was in the middle of summer! We didn’t go on it again, however. I’m already big enough as it is so her seeing me in double or triple would just be too much. Also note how cheeky the French are, even in Disneyland… the sign on the left tells people where they can get a ticket for their ass. Butts in seats baby!
While Sleeping Beauty’s Castle was very much boilerplate Disney, it had enough differences to differentiate it. Plus there’s something to be said about seeing that castle when you begin walking down Main Street. You’re in Disneyland!
Hyperspace Mountain, the Parisian version of Space Mountain, also gets no French translation. So no “Hyper Espace Montagne” for you, you silly French peoples! I will say that the ride was significantly wilder than the Space Mountain in Anaheim. Carolyn decided against going after she heard the shrieks and screams emanating from the building (plus she’d had her fill of upside-down roller coasters after Big Thunder Mountain and Indiana Jones).
So I paired up with a young Spanish friend, who I’m certain learned some new English curse words as the ride barreled about in the pitch black. It was wild enough that at one point I felt like the G’s might knock me out, seriously. But I survived to high five my newfound little buddy, even if I had to admonish him not to repeat anything the old American guy next to him yelled during the ride. My Spanish is rusty, but I think he might have said something about screaming like a little girl, I dunno, but I’m sure he meant someone else.
As you can see, being the cheapskate I am, I take a picture of the photos they want to sell you instead of shelling out the ten euros and then letting them gather dust in a box somewhere. I guess that was the A 5541 ride, although I don’t remember a sign telling us that before we got on.
Carolyn wouldn’t let me buy three bottles of popcorn. She can be such a meanie.
And yes, they also have It’s a Small World. I insisted we go through it just so we could get that lovely song stuck in our heads. In fact, click on this link where you can watch the entire ride from the comfort of YouTube! Just don’t blame me if you’re still humming it a week from now.
These were our favorite words from the ride.
I found it amusing that they would have a baseball player in a country where you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who knows a damn thing about baseball at all.
In the end, our main takeaways were that while it’s all Disneyland, other than some roller coasters that are decidedly hairier than anything in the regular Disneylands in Florida or Anaheim, it was almost a little quaint in comparison. The lack of the oppressive crowds certainly worked in its favor, and of course we had no problem navigating around in English. As for the rides, Star Tours was really dated, the Phantom Manor (the Haunted Mansion) was pretty much the same, Pirates of the Caribbean was closed for maintenance (bummer!), and Big Thunder Mountain was a lot Thunder-ier than in Anaheim.
But when a “Top Ten Disneyland Paris Attractions List” puts It’s a Small World at #4, and #5 is La Tanière du Dragon (The Dragon’s Lair), which is just a short walk-through exhibit with an animatronic dragon at the center, well, let’s just say jaded Americans generally demand a lot more out of their amusement parks.
They also screwed with the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride and turned it into another walkthrough and called it Les Mystères du Nautilus (The Mysteries of the Nautilus). We kept thinking there was going to be a ride at the end of it, but nope, just a re-creation of the insides of the submarine. A minute and a half later, we’re outside blinking in the sunlight wondering what just happened. The good news is there were no lines. In fact, there was hardly anyone inside the whole thing.
Last but not least, they had a large building where you could buy overpriced food (of course!) and take it to a table facing a large auditorium that did nothing except remind me of a very large Chuck E. Cheese.
However, in the end, we did have a good time. I suppose it scratched whatever Americana itches we might have… although we’re so much in love with Portugal and Europe that we really don’t have many of those, besides of course our friends and family.
Still, Mickey has a nice home in Paris, and we were glad for the visit.