Long before we booked the trip & it was still a "what if we go" situation, I started planting a seed in Andy's head. Of how we would just HAVE to go to Disneyland Paris while we were there. I mean how could we pass it up when we were so close? Plus that would put me ahead of the rest of the family. Let me explain.
I come from a long-line of non-DRs. Also known as non-Disney Rookies. And the chance to hit up a park they've never been to? That my friends, was the jackpot. I've been to WDW at least once a year since birth and I don't plan to stop that tradition any time soon. It's in my blood. You go to the beach. I go to Florida. I don't need a park map. I know every menu by heart. I can find hidden Mickey's like a champ. Let's just say I've helped many a co-worker plan their trip - where to eat, where to stay, what park to see what day. Maybe I should look into that as a career......
Anyways, I still enjoy every single trip - there's always something new to see or do. It might not be your cup of tea - but any Disney fan should enjoy the next few day's of posts. I had a hard time finding good info about the park before we left, so I want to do my due diligence and help out future travelers that end up here via The Google machine.
Welcome to Disneyland Paris!
From the center of Paris, you can connect directly to Disneyland via a RER A train to Marne-de-Vallee - Chessy. Or you can come straight from London if you rather via the Eurostar. It takes just under an hour on the train from Paris and it literally drops your off on property. Keep in mind a regular Paris-city-limits train ticket (carnet) won't get you there. You will have to buy a seperate ticket to get there & back. Head to the closest ticket machine, search franticlly for the ENglish button, then put in Chessy as your final destinatoin & it will give you the correct ticket. It costs more since you are headed outside the city. Our tickets round trip were about 30 Euros (2 tickets). Keep your ticket handy - you have to pass it through the turnstiles on entrance & exit.
We bought our tickets ahead of time - they were cheaper & actually gave us admission to both Paris parks for the price of one, but we opted to see all of the original park rather than rush between the two.
You enter the park under the Disneyland hotel, and as in Florida, they will open the ticket gates early and let you down Main Street. But don't expect to get too far.....the entrances to the various lands is still right at opening time.
The train station looks a little different, but as you can see this year was the 20th anniversary of the park. Which is crazy to me because I clearly remember when it opened as "EuroDisney". Where do the years go?
Can I just say how weird it was to have to rely on a map at a Disney park? I don't think I actually even remember what that is like....I'm pretty sure by the time I graduated from a stroller I could have led a tour group. So that was fun.
Disneyland itself is most similar to the Magic Kingdom, with some differences that I'll highlight over the next few days. There is a second park, Walt Disney Studios, that is reminiscient to Hollywood Studios in Florida. But before we start our whirlwind 3 days of Disney posts, prepare yourself for a few major differences in Paris from Walt Disney World in Florida.
1) Food: The counter service food is blah. Their attempt at "American" food is right up with McDonalds. At a steakhouse kind of price. The peak season was winding down, so there were actually only three (THREE!!!) places open to eat....in the whole park!! So don't expect Florida quality or choices.
2) Disney Attitudes: As much as they are known for their customer service and constant smiles, I wouldn't necessarily call the Paris version 'The Happiest Place on Earth'. Let's just say the lackadaisical (yes, that's spelled right) attitude of France carries over to the employees. Even at Disney.
3) English: Everyone speaks English, at least well enough to order your food or make it through the line. But expect to communicate via the "point & nod" method. My best example: Being told what line to get in to board Big Thunder. Except it was row 15. Do you know what 15 is in French? Yeah me either. And I like to follow directions.
4) Crowd Control: Yeah - there isn't any. We planned to stay for the fireworks and show at the castle. But the chaos that ensued was just too much. People sat on the sidewalks, in the flowerbeds, in the road. There was no walkway and it was anything but safe. People climbing over the crowd carrying people in wheelchairs to get to the handicapped viewing section. I mean really? It was out. of. control. So we left & as much as I really really really didn't want to miss the fireworks (I have a thing for them), I was going to have a total meltdown if we stayed there any longer. Check out the crowd - it's blurry, but you can see the masses....
Enough of the boring details - tomorrow it's parade time!