Disneyland Paris is Not Very French!

Disneyland Paris is Not Very French!

After visiting Disney theme parks in North America (US) and Asia (Hong Kong and Japan) there was only one continent I had yet to conquer: Europe.

Thanks to Viator, this, of course, was quickly resolved as our first day in France was spent at–you guessed it– Disneyland Paris.

Even after being kept up until 4am, I still woke up excited and ready to take on the park. I couldn’t wait to see the romance of Paris mixed with the romance of Disney, while throwing in references to Disney classics based in France, so we hopped on the RER and began our day.

Approaching the Magic Kingdom, I must admit, that this was one of the nicest Disney entryways I have seen.

Paris - June 2014

The walkways weaved in and out through beautifully manicured gardens with fountains while the colors of the Disneyland Paris Hotel shone vibrantly in the distance. Knowing the already exorbitant prices of Paris I can only imagine what this Disney hotel costs to stay in.

Once inside the gates I realized that they were still celebrating their “Swing into Spring” theme, despite it being literally the day before summer. With the hot sun and crowds it was hard to wrap my head around the long-gone concept of spring.

Even so, I loved getting a chance to look at all the pastel and floral decorations, which reminded me of Tokyo DisneySea. It made my desire to see Paris in the spring even stronger as I think it would be the most romantic time of year to visit.

Paris - June 2014Paris - June 2014

Walking down Main Street USA, the castle stood proudly in the distance.

While I don’t exactly remember Walt Disney World in Florida since I was so young, this castle certainly seemed like the tallest I’ve seen, especially after spending the past two years frequenting Hong Kong Disneyland, infamous for its miniature castle.

The castle was one of the things I wanted to see most since Beauty and the Beast, which the castle is based on, is one of my favorite Disney movies.

Paris - June 2014  Paris - June 2014

As I was taking a billion photos of the castle, people started to gather around for the morning parade. I had been expecting a day of Beauty and the Beast-filled goodness, so I was excited to see how they would incorporate that into the parade and shows.

We grabbed one of the last vacant spots along the curb and waited for the parade to begin. The performers all came out in their bright, pastel colors for spring and began the show.

It quickly struck me that with men dancing with brooms and women with parasols, that this parade would not be based off Beauty and the Beast, but rather Mary Poppins.

And I was right.

Paris - June 2014Paris - June 2014

A little disappointed, I still enjoyed the parade and continued my search for Beauty and the Beast elsewhere in the park.

After thoroughly wandering the park, I still couldn’t find anything that was Beauty and the Beast themed other than the grand centerpiece of the castle. Everything was very heavily Mary Poppins, which is not very Parisian…

It was already afternoon and another parade started. I was sure that we would see something more French this time.

Paris - June 2014
Paris - June 2014
Paris - June 2014  Paris - June 2014

While I appreciated that movies like Frozen were already being represented and under-appreciated movies like Tangled and The Jungle Book were represented too. Except oh wait, The Jungle Book is, again, British, there was still nothing French. They literally had carriages with most of the princesses except for Belle! Really??

Taking one last stroll throughout the park, I felt defeated.

I was shocked that there was nothing Aristocat themed, despite people’s love for Marie Cat, and there was nothing Ratatouille themed either. Absolutely nothing French! Instead everything seemed very geared to the UK, as there was also a lot of Alice in Wonderland.

While the Alice in Wonderland maze was fun and it led you to great views over the park, I still couldn’t help to be disappointed on my Parisian-Disney quest.

Paris - June 2014Paris - June 2014Paris - June 2014  Paris - June 2014

We began to feel like we were in Disneyland London! As we saw advertisements around the park for Disney tickets paired with Eurostar tickets, we wondered if Disneyland Paris was really pushing to draw in day-trippers from the UK.

Now I know this probably makes it seem like I had a horrible time at Disneyland Paris– which I didn’t at all. It’s just not at all what I had expected and hoped for it to be.

I really did enjoy little things like random Pixar elements that were sprinkled in and hidden throughout the park, and I really loved that Adventureland had more of an Aladdin theme to it (another one of my favorites).

Paris - June 2014

Paris - June 2014

Honestly, had I gone in with no expectations, I would have loved the park just like every other, but really, I guess because of my high expectations, I left feeling like there wasn’t much special at this park to set it apart from the others.

This one just seemed crowded and with many of the same cookie-cutter rides, yet that weren’t as good as their counterparts at other Disney parks. It’s a Small World, my favorite ride of all time, yeah, this was by far the worst one so far.

Paris - June 2014

Paris - June 2014

I mean, Tokyo DisneySea was so unique and adult oriented that I loved it, and sure, Hong Kong Disneyland may not have been too special but it was small making it easy to manage in a day– plus the special events for holidays were amazing. But somehow Disneyland Paris just didn’t seem to spark that romance or Parisian feel for me.

I think the only Parisian thing about Disneyland Paris was the ungodly amount of scarves each gift shop sold.

Paris - June 2014

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Have you been to Disneyland Paris? What are you thoughts? Am I too critical? 

A very special thank you to Viator for providing me one voucher to Disneyland Paris! Despite not finding it to be Parisian, I was really excited to check off my final Disney continent. Now I just need to visit Disneyland California to have been to every park! As always, all thoughts and love of Disney are my own.

 

56 Comments

  • Goodness! I didn’t even know Disneyland is in Paris! Your photos are amazing and it really captures the beautiful spirit of this theme park. Now I want to go!…although I must admit that if ever I am in Paris again I am more captivated by the Notre Dame, Champs de Lesse, and the other beautiful places there. Love the culture and historical buildings of the city!

    • Beth Williams says:

      Paris does have many beautiful places! We didn’t get to explore even half of them ;)

    • Clement says:

      There is no place called “champs de lesse” here in Paris. Maybe were you thinking to le champ de mars, the place where the Eiffel Tower stands ? :)

  • You really captured so much excitement and the beauty of Disneyland in your photos! I’ve never been to the one in Paris, only the one in Florida. I’m not sure I would really mind it not being so French there because we would be having too great of a time to worry about that! Lol. Seems like you had an awesome time though. I have to go to paris at least once in my life and experience Disneyland while I’m there!!

  • While Disney Paris isn’t exactly French, it still looks like an amazing place to explore. I have yet to visit any Disney park so I would be overjoyed to visit… :)

  • Tami says:

    I wonder if anyone’s ever brought this fact to their attention. If I were you, I’d write them a letter. Maybe they’d add a few things to make it for fitting for a Paris tourist attraction.

  • geanine says:

    I am partial to Alice in Wonderland, as it was the theme of my daughters first birthday :). I love the table setting and decor of that area of the park.. Sorry for your disappointment of the nonexistent Marie Clair theme.

  • Glad to be able to see beautiful places through your blog. I can’t afford to travel often so having the access to see beautiful places virtually is already a treat. I wonder when I could visit Paris? Probably would not be possible but hey, there’s always hope lol.

    • Beth Williams says:

      Travel doesn’t have to be expensive! That’s why I’m trying to show people how to travel the world on a small budget like me :)

  • I would love to visit Disney in another country!! I would have expected more French tie in with it being in Paris. Disney however seems to look magical no matter what part of the world its in!

  • Kristen says:

    I am a total Disney Freak! I just took my toddler boys to Disney in Fl last fall. I have always wondered what the parks are like in France/Asia. Are they less crowded? now that the Euro dropped, maybe i need to go

    • Beth Williams says:

      The ones in Asia are not less crowded at all, but the one in France wasn’t terrible. Although, I haven’t been to the one in FL in over 20 years, so don’t have much to go off of anymore! Will hopefully be heading down there this fall :)

  • Winter White says:

    So I didn’t even know there was a Disneyland in Paris! Your pictures look unreal! I live in Southern California and growing up I went to Disneyland every year for my birthday, as I grew up I slowly fell off my love for Disney but I have family and friends who are obsessed with it. I think the crowds just aren’t my thing. However I would love to go to a Disney park outside of the country and experience it from that point of view.

    • Beth Williams says:

      Pretty sure if I grew up going there my love would fall off too. The only park I have yet to make it to is Disneyland in Cali, but hopefully will be there this fall!

      Instead of Disney, I spent my childhood at Six Flags since we lived across the street from one. After spending all my summers there and working there for 4 years as a teenager, my love for it definitely disappeared! :)

  • I haven’t been to Disneland Paris and have only been to Disneyland in Orlando Florida. I love how everything is set up at Disneyland Paris and I especially love the pink buildings. I don’t know if I would have had time to be disappointed that it wasn’t Paris themed per se, because I’d be having a blast, lol. I love your photos, you really captured everything.

  • Pooh says:

    Your review is very nice to read from my parisian point of view. I’m glad you enjoyed so much your visit in the park. I have a few thoughts I’d like to share with you. Please excuse me if my English has a few mistakes !
    First of all, it looks like you’re confusing Beauty & the Beast with Sleeping Beauty. The castle is inspired by the Sleeping Beauty movie, it has its name and the gallery at the first floor is dedicated to its story.
    But I wanted to say that you can find many french referencies all throughout the resort. The Aristocats are displayed in some Mains Street, USA shops’ Windows and Marie has her plush sold averywhere. You can even have your picture taken with her somewhere in Main Street, USA.
    Did you ride the Storybook boatride ? It’s a nice ride in which you go through many miniatures, among them the french village of Belle, with the Beast’s Castle above it.
    Basically, Fantasyland is divided in separate parts to pay a tribute to the european fairytales : the castle and the castle court are the french part, including the Cinderella house and its court which are typically french medieval ; the Tyrol place, with the Snow-White, Pinocchio & little houses ; Italy with the Lady & the Tramp restaurant and finally England with the willows around the river, the Alice & Peter Pan rides.

    It’s a pity you did not visit the Walt Disney Studio because it has a brand new part, which is totally Paris-themed. It is a parisian square with a bistrot and a new Ratatouille ride.

    Well, I hope that if you visit the Paris resort again, you’ll pay attention to all this details and that you will enjoy them !

    Best wishes from Paris :)

    • Beth Williams says:

      Thanks for shedding a little more light on the Parisian parts of Disney!! When I was there, I didn’t see the Aristocats on Main Street, though they were probably switched out with their spring time displays. I did see Marie Cat being sold everywhere– but I guess I didn’t think much of it, as she’s also very popular at HK and Tokyo Disney :)

      I’ll certainly have to go back and visit the new Walt Disney Studio parts! I’m sorry I missed out.

      Thanks for your comments!!

  • I think I mentioned to you before on one of your other Disney park posts, but I was really shocked to see that it’s possible to smoke all around Disneyland Paris.
    When I was there (the Christmas before last), the emphasis was on Scrouge McDuck and co, since French children love reading comics about those characters.

    • Beth Williams says:

      Yes! I also found that weird (and obnoxious). Most parks have banned smoking, or at least limit it to a really small area somewhere tucked away from the main areas.

      Scrooge McDuck would be fun to see! He was featured a bit in the Tokyo park as well.

  • Haven’t been to any other Disneyland’s than the one in Florida but I would’ve guessed that each location would’ve had more of an influence than it does…strange. Still seems like quite the happy place to visit. I love Pixar’s UP statue! :-D

  • The fact that it’s not very French actually makes me want to visit it even more haha :D

  • I can honestly say that I have never been to any of the Disneylands around the world. The closest I came was in Anaheim earlier this year when I was at a conference right next door and although we went to the Disneyland village, we didn’t go into the park (despite having the opportunity to have discounted tickets). I know there is a lot of hype around about Disneyland parks and I am convinced they are an amazing experience but this honestly doesn’t surprise me that the Europe one isn’t in the same league as others! This is generally what happens when you try and produce sequels, just like with movies. They are just not the same as the originals.

    • Beth Williams says:

      The only park I haven’t been to is the original, so I guess I’ll have to compare it when I go. But the ones in Japan are spectacular.

  • Marina says:

    I’m really surprised you didn’t get to see Belle! Well, I went twice a few years ago, and remember taking pictures with her and the Beast ; I was also able to see them during the parade (and was so happy because it is my favorite Disney)!
    But you’re right, I don’t understand why Ratatouille is not represented… The movie was and still is really popular among French people…

    • Beth Williams says:

      Glad you got to see them a few years ago, I guess they’re shifting their focus now, which makes me sad! The parks in Japan are still my favorite, partly because they do really reflect the culture. Hopefully one day Paris Disneyland will too!

  • Jonathan says:

    In some ways, I’m not all that surprised that Disneyland Paris doesn’t come across as very French given that Disney is an American company and Disney films with a French link are very much in the minority (…and perhaps not necessarily among the most well-known or successful Disney films?).

    I can see what you mean about how it might have made sense to focus on the fllms with a French link a bit more given the location of the park. I reckon that the owners are probably trying to focus on what they think will appeal to non-French visitors from places such as the UK, and visitors who may be familiar with some of the other Disneyland parks. If you’re looking for a more French theme park in the Paris area, the Parc Asterix is well worth checking out.

  • I’ve been to Disneyland Paris plenty of times when I was younger and it was all brand new. So when I went to the Orlando one, I have to say I was a bit disappointed, because it seemed so much older and worn off. I guess it’s just what you are used too and you are definitely not too critical. Sometimes we just have ideas about certain things and then they turn out differently. That’s just the way it goes…

    • Beth Williams says:

      Totally agree! I haven’t been to the Orlando one since I was 5, so I’d imagine it’s pretty worn down by now…

  • Claudia says:

    I have never been to any Disney themed park. I would not even think that they are actually blended in with the local culture. But apparently they are supposed to?

  • Samantha says:

    I’ve only been to Disneyland California and Disneyworld which I had a great time but I can’t go more than one day. Just so many kids haha. I’ve heard Disneyland Paris is not as good and it’s really interesting that they didn’t focus much on the French oriented Disney movies. I would have loved to see a Beauty and the Beast themed section! It’s one of my top favorite Disney movies. But hey, it’s hard to have a bad time at (one of the) happiest places in the world!

    • Beth Williams says:

      It’s one of my favorites too, which is why I was so disappointed! I haven’t been to Disneyland in Cali and the last time I went to Disneyworld was 20 years ago, but I imagine they’re insanely crowded. I loved the parks in Asia because they actually aren’t all that crowded and DisneySea has more adults than kids!

  • Alli says:

    I don’t think you’re too critical at all! You were just merely anticipating and excited for some French Disney classics! (Beauty and the Beast is my favourite so I would have adored seeing this one also!) Same with Ratatouille! I wonder why the park does not choose to cater to such movies? Luckily for you and me though, we both sound to be Disney fans so even seeing all the others would suffice a good time :)

  • How interesting, I’m surprised they didn’t have the french ones there! Looks like a lot of fun though :)

  • Marysia says:

    I have never been in Disneyland, it is a bit too much for me… but I’m more than happy to sip wine while waiting for my nephews to have a fun of their lives! :)

  • Jenna says:

    That’s interesting–I would have thought there would be more French influence as well, and even though it looks fun, I think I would be slightly disappointed too. We’ve been to Paris a couple times, but always skipped Disney. I’ve only been to Disney World in FL and Disneyland in CA, but now that I think about it, it would be fun to check out some of the other parks around the world. We are heading to Japan next spring, so maybe we will have to check out DisneySea!

    • Beth Williams says:

      Def go to DisneySea! It’s my favorite park and so unlike any other Disney. Feel free to skip Tokyo Disneyland though, as it’s pretty much like every other park. I hope to hit up Disneyland in CA within the next few months– then I’ll have finally made it to all of them!

  • I haven’t been to Disneyland Paris, tho’ I am considering it…. One of my close friends took her daughters last half term and they had The Best time. Her eldest was star struck by all the Princesses.

    You are very right, there are TONS of adverts on telly for us Brits to go across to Disneyland Paris (in fact one of them makes me cry, no, but for real- it’s got the parents telling the kids they’re going to Disneyland Paris & the kids jumping around ecstatically). And your comments about hotel prices in the resort are kind of true, but also if you book a certain amount of nights then you can get deals where kids go free, amongst other things. There are, not so much day trips, but definitely deals including Eurostar, and park passes and/ or hotel stays advertised a lot here, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why there is such a push on the British themed movies.

    I’m kind of obsessed with Alice in Wonderland and your comments about that make me want to go even more!!

    • Beth Williams says:

      Not going to lie, the Alice in Wonderland bits were really fun! (And unique since I haven’t seen anything like it at other Disney parks.) Interesting that they are seemingly pushing to get Brits to go, but then again, your money is a lot stronger so they probably want you guys there to spend it. :)

  • I love your pictures and hearing your take on Disneyland Paris! I’ve been three times since living in Paris – I have some family and friends who love Disney and couldn’t not go on a visit to Paris. While I’ve had fun days with friends there, the park itself always feels small to me – but then again, I grew up on the east coast of the US, making Disney World a short plane ride away. While I didn’t cognitively recognize the lack of Beauty and the Beast there, I did notice a ton of Lilo and Stitch (well, really just Stitch) in the gift shops. And my cousin pointed out that they didn’t sell Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bars anywhere.

    I would say there was a feel to the park that was distinctly French to me. I grew up going to Disney World and knowing its motto as “the happiest place on Earth” and seeing how all the staff play into that super happy, enthusiastic role.” But here there were plenty of staff that looked/acted “depressed” like typical Parisians. So to me, that was the French Disney experience!

    • Beth Williams says:

      If I lived in Paris, I’d still continually go to Disney Paris. It felt really large after having HK Disneyland for the past 2 years because that one is tiny! We didn’t even see a lot of Stitch in the park, but I would have loved to since he’s one of my favorite characters!

      HAHA, I love how you say it felt Parisian because all of the staff acted depressed. We noticed that too.

  • Ryan Zieman says:

    I’m sorry you felt so disappointed. If I were in your shoes, I would have felt that way too. All of the British Disney references are curious. However, the park does look beautiful and that castle is fit for a Disney princess ;)

    • Beth Williams says:

      The castle was probably the coolest one I’ve seen! Despite all of the Brit references it was still fun. Not sure to push to get more people from the UK to visit is paying off though since we did notice that most of the tourists there were actually from Spain!

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