When I first knew I was going to be studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland last semester, the one place I knew I wanted to visit was Paris and Disneyland Resort Paris. I had absolutely no idea what to expect leading up to the trip, aside from some of the research I did ahead of time. This research included the lovely gift of The Unofficial Guide: Disneyland Paris for my birthday.
My overall impression of the Disneyland Park was very mixed. I tried to keep an open mind and a positive attitude, but I felt that somewhere across that big ocean a lot of the Disney magic that we know and love was lost. One thing I noticed immediately was that the cast member’s name tags didn’t say where they were from. I guess most are local, but I always thought that was a great way to interact with them and to be able to relate to them. I also noticed that no cast member really went out of his way for anybody, to make anyone’s day special or extraordinary. Now I can only speak for myself, but I didn’t feel that personalized touch I feel inside any of the parks at WDW. The other immediate thing that really disappointed me was the cleanliness. I had heard rumors about the overall upkeep of the park, but I guess I couldn’t believe it until I saw it. I’m not sure if it was the people visiting the parks or the cast members, but there was litter everywhere. The trash cans were overflowing and people were piling more and more on top. It was really disappointing and disheartening to see and definitely put a damper on things. Also, everywhere I turned people were smoking. Even in the queues for the lines!
On the other hand, once I was able to come to terms with the differences in the upkeep of the park and the role of the cast members, I started to really dig into the beauty of what Parc Disneyland had to offer. In my eyes, this is the 4th iteration of the Disneyland park–the ones in LA, Orlando and Tokyo all coming beforehand. To me this means that the Imagineers were able to work out all of the kinks from the previous three parks and to make a better, more beautiful incarnation of the original park. I think this was accomplished in a very European way–which I think was the initial intention of the park.
One thing I really enjoyed was the overall landscape of the entire park. Parc Disneyland was set up exactly as the Magic Kingdom. It has the hub and spoke, yet each land felt like it was its own separate theme park. All of the lands were very secluded with a lot more overall surface area to explore. This way, the park seemed a lot more intimate because there were smaller windier paths with a large attention to detail, and there was this inexplicable beauty about the whole thing. A lot of the rides were tucked away in the corner, and it was almost an adventure just getting to them. One of the drawbacks of this arrangement was that when the park was very crowded, it was hard to squeeze around people, especially with all the strollers. Sometimes even finding where to go felt like a maze. I, unfortunately, did not have enough time to explore the entire park, but I think it would’ve taken days.
Over my next few posts I’m going to breakdown my trip to Disneyland Paris Resort, offering some insight and fun experiences I had while I was there, stay tuned!