Disneyland Paris (or Parc Disneyland) is France’s version of the Magic Kingdom, with many similarities between it and Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, but very few direct lifts. It’s the first gate at Disneyland Resort Paris, which is purportedly the most popular tourist destination in all of Europe. It might have “Paris” in the name, but the previous name of EuroDisney was more fitting, as Disneyland Paris truly draws guests from all over Europe. This guide to Disneyland Paris attractions contains short reviews and numerical scores for every ride and show in the park. If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland Resort Paris, this is a great place to start when determining what to do and when to do it. The guide will give you a rough idea of an itinerary, although our only experiences with Disneyland Paris have been on days with light crowds. We can extrapolate from these experiences some things concerning popular attractions, but our inferences and how wait times actually scale may not be quite perfect.
We’ve tried to keep this guide to Disneyland Paris’ attraction as objective as possible with enough description so you’ll know whether particular attractions will appeal to your group. This Disneyland Paris guide includes headliners, smaller attractions, and shows. Disneyland Paris doesn’t have a ton of attractions so you may not want to skip anything, but note that the attractions aren’t the big draw.
The big draw is the beauty of the park, itself. If you’ve read our other attraction guides, you know we are big on theme parks with senses of place. Disneyland Paris is definitely Disney’s most gorgeous castle park, with the highlight being the whimsical Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle). The lavish original design of Disneyland Paris (to lure sophisticated European guests) is well-documented, as are the resulting debt problems that have plagued the park since due to its initial cost.
This is not an appropriate place to detail the plight of Disneyland Paris, but it is worth noting that because of its initial cost, hotel build, and subsequent operating losses, Disneyland Paris to this day has issues with maintenance, staffing, running entertainment, and additions. Since the 20th Anniversary, things seem to be improving on the maintenance front, although even that can be incredibly inconsistent.
Because its financial woes have prevented it from seeing the type of expansion other parks have since its opening, Disneyland Paris’ attraction lineup is not as solid as it could be. The flagship opening day attractions and a couple of subsequent additions are quite well done, but it could still use some more substance. Fortunately, the gorgeous design of Disneyland Paris still shines through to this day, and it’s a park that is a pleasure to just explore and experience. We could (and have) spent multiple days just wandering the park, engrossed in its beauty and details, without doing many attractions. Hence our calling it the most gorgeous castle park (which it unquestionably is), rather than the best overall castle park (which, in light of attractions, it is not).
This guide will mention similarities and differences between attractions in the US parks and Disneyland Paris where pertinent to determine what can be safely skipped (should you so desire). Depending upon your perspective, Disneyland Paris is a 1-day park or a the-sky-is-the-limit-day park. If you approach the parks with an attraction checklist and that’s it, you’ll certainly only need one day. If you love the detail and design of the Disney theme parks and enjoy slowing down and exploring, you’ll need more time (in that case, we’d recommend 2-3 days). This guide is written in English on a site catering to US Disney theme park enthusiasts, so it’s written with the assumption that you’re a Disney fan. If you’re not, our recommendations might be extreme.
Numerical scores are on a scale of 1 to 10, and only take into consideration overall quality relative to that specific type of attraction. Dark rides are judged against other dark rides, roller coasters are judged against other coasters, etc., to create a relatively level playing field. Attractions are rated based upon how much their target audience will enjoy them. In our ratings, we only consider how well done the attraction is, overall and within its category, when experienced by its target demographic.
Disney Dreams! (10/10) - Disneyland Paris’ exclusive (only later in 2014 when Tokyo Disneyland debuts something similar) nighttime spectacular featuring fire, fireworks, water fountains, lasers, castle projections, and more, Disney Dreams is the ultimate nighttime spectacular show. Not only is the show a not-stop litany of beautiful technical effects, but the thread with Peter Pan tying together a montage show with a heavy emphasis on French and other European Disney stories (Ratatouille and Hunchback of Notre Dame, widely ignored by other parks, feature prominently) with a nice narrative thread. Disney Dreams is absolutely not to be missed, and is the perfect conclusion to a day at Disneyland Paris. We have this viewing and photography guide for those interested in finding the best spot and taking photos.
Disney Magic on Parade (9.5/10) - Disneyland Paris’ daytime parade was unveiled for the park’s 20th Anniversary and does not disappoint. The costumes are gorgeous, the floats are colorful and (mostly) elaborate, and the music is very catchy. We aren’t daytime parade people, but even we enjoyed this. It’s so energetic and pretty that it’s hard not to love it. This parade is very popular, so if you want a good view, show up at least 30 minutes (much more if it’s busy) in advance to stake out a spot for the parade, and be prepared to defend your turf!
Pirates of the Caribbean (10/10) – Pirates of the Caribbean is a boat-ride back in time to the days when pirates ruled the Caribbean. The attractions features Audio Animatronics pirates engaging in swashbuckling mayhem. This is the best version of perhaps Disney’s best ride, making this arguably Disney’s best attraction anywhere (we’d put it in the top 10, but not #1). Pirates of the Caribbean is housed in a beautiful, bunker-style fortress, with an elaborate queue containing a lot of detail. (Its queue is better than the Magic Kingdom queue, which is better than the Disneyland queue.) It has most of the same “extra” scenes as the Disneyland version, although they appear at the end instead of the beginning. Here, the logical consequence of the decadent and nefarious lifestyle of pirates is death and despair, so the arrangement makes sense. To reach that same conclusion in Disneyland’s version, you have to assume the beginning is a story framing the rest of the story. That might work in Heart of Darkness, but this is a theme park attraction. This version is also the only one lacking the film characters, which we feel detract from the storytelling (sorry, Jack Sparrow fans). In addition to superior storytelling and no Johnny Depp, this version also has a few effects that, when working, are very impressive. Do this within the first two hours the park is open, but not very first.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (9.5/10) – Big Thunder Mountain a rollercoaster themed as a runaway mine train on a ride through the barren landscape of the Old West. Thanks to its location on an island in Frontierland (the queue is in Frontierland and travel underwater on the ride to get to the island) and some extra details throughout the queue and attraction, this is the best version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Don’t do it first thing–get a FastPass for it.
Space Mountain: Mission 2 (9/10) – Space Mountain: Mission 2 is a dark, intense roller coaster through outer space. This ride is simultaneously awesome and pure torture. The outdoor blast-off is all sorts of cool, and there’s more of visual interest than the other Space Mountains, but the ride beats you up. This isn’t just the minor thrashing you get on a rough roller coaster–Space Mountain: Mission 2 seems to strive for minor brain damage. Much like the rest of Discoveryland, this has a strong Jules Verne and steampunk influence both inside and on the exterior. This beautiful exterior is a big part of Space Mountain’s saving grace here, as the score for just the ride itself would be much lower. Don’t do Space Mountain first thing in the morning–wait and use a FastPass (preferably with a nighttime return window).
‘it’s a small world’ – (7/10) – The classic boat ride featuring the children of the world. Those familiar with Mary Blair’s art will spot a noticeable difference between this and the US version. The design is overall more detailed, and perhaps this was an attempt to make it more appealing to a European audience that likely isn’t familiar with Mary Blair. The result isn’t exactly that. While there is beauty and refinement in the deceptively simplistic, angular look of Blair’s ‛it’s a small world,’ the more “detailed” small world in Paris lacks this refinement. The sets are still reminiscent of the original and the dolls are in the same style, but it feels a bit like a cheaper imitation. It looks a bit cartoonish and lacking a distinct aesthetic. It also has a Christmas version–read about that in our Disneyland Paris Christmas Guide. This is popular in Paris, but it has such a high capacity that you can ride whenever.
Alice’s Curious Labyrinth (8/10) – Walk-through interactive hedge maze based on Alice in Wonderland with some cool scenes and the Queen of Hearts’ Castle at the end. This is a fun area to explore, and there are neat things to see and photo ops along the way. The view of Fantasyland from Queen of Hearts’ Castle at the end is the highlight (and can be accessed without going through the maze, just enter through the exit of the attraction).
Phantom Manor (10/10) – This is Disneyland Paris’ take on the Haunted Mansion, which is a slow-moving ride through a house that is inhabited by haunts. We take a full look at the story with a lot of photos in this post. Phantom Manor offers a brilliant twist on the conventional Haunted Mansion, with just as many differences as similarities and an overall darker tone. There is more of a story to this version; unfortunately, that story is in French. This is an absolute must-do for all guests visiting Disneyland Paris, and we recommend doing it first thing in the morning or late at night to avoid crowds. It doesn’t have FastPass and is very popular.
Dumbo (7/10) – The iconic Disney spinner attraction. This version is lavishly done and offers nice views of Disney’s best castle. It’s about as good as this type of ride gets.
Le Pays de Contes de Fées (8/10) – Known as Storybook Land Canal Boats in English, this is a boat ride through miniature storybook (stationary) scenes from Disney classics. This is basically a modernized version of the quaint Disneyland classic, with improved/modernized ride infrastructure. Unfortunately, it lacks Cast Members providing on-board narration, but the superior scenes make up for that.
Casey Jr. – Le Petit Train du Cirque (8/10) – Casey Jr. is a scenic roller coaster through the foliage of Fantasyland as guests ride aboard cars or in cages. This is more advanced than the Disneyland version (it’s a coaster here–although so tame that you might not even notice). It’s another attraction that is simple, but has a lot of appeal thanks to the great views it offers of Fantasyland, the fun music, and the whimsy of the train, itself. While the Disneyland version offers an elevated view of all of Fantasyland, this is more about views of the woods and into Storybook Land.
La Tanière du Dragon (10/10) – This is just a walk-through to see the dragon that lives under the castle. “Just” is a serious understatement–there’s a moving DRAGON living in a cave under the castle! The dragon gives the castle incredible amounts of street cred, as one can only imagine all of the crazy things that go on inside if they have a dragon chained down in the basement. Explaining why a “simple” Audio Animatronics dragon is so awesome defies explanation much the same way as trying to explain why a mountain is awesome. It just is. It creates a certain sense of awe in guests young and old alike. We stood in front of that dragon with suspended disbelief on multiple occasions, and consider this one of the highlights of Disneyland Paris. Do this whenever.
Le Passage Enchanté d’Aladdin (8.5/10) – A walk-through exhibit featuring vignette windows with scenes from Aladdin. Certainly not a headliner, but this attraction is pretty close to perfect for the minor walk-through attraction that it is.
Peter Pan’s Flight (8/10) – Iconic Fantasyland dark ride that takes guests in “flying” ships above London and Neverland. Every version of Peter Pan’s Flight is different, and while I think this is the best version, it’s not head and shoulders above Disneyland’s or Walt Disney World’s. It is marginally better because of a few effects. The simple hook of the flying ships is great, but in this era, I think this attraction could be so much more than it is. Use FastPass.
Adventure Isle (10/10) - A large play area in Adventureland including caves, a treehouse, pirate ship, and more. Since Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is on the island that’s normally Tom Sawyer Island, this alternative is located at the edge of Adventureland, with its centerpieces being Skull Rock and the Swiss Family Treehouse. It’s incredibly well done with a lot of area of explore, and number of varied environments.
Thunder Mesa Riverboats (7.5/10) – A boat ride around the Rivers of America aboard either the Mark Twain or the Molly Brown, departing from the Thunder Mesa dock. Disneyland Paris’ Frontierland/Thunder Mesa is a beautiful place, and this is the best way to see parts of it that you won’t otherwise see, including great views of Big Thunder Mountain, Wilderness Island, caves, and more. It’s a great ambiance ride with some excellent views. Sunset and night cruises aboard the Molly Brown are recommended.
La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant (7.5/10) – A simple, but fun walk-through of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle) featuring tapestries and interactive items from the film. The inside of the castle is just as ornate as the outside, so definitely take the time to do this.
Orbitron (6/10) – Spinner ride similar to Dumbo; this one makes it onto our ‘top’ list because it’s more detailed than the US versions and offers a great view of Space Mountain lit up at night. Do it at night or don’t do it at all.
Star Tours (8.5/10) - Star Tours is a flight-motion simulator into the Star Wars world with Audio Animatronics characters and in-vehicle effects. This is still the original version of the attraction, and it’s definitely showing its age (especially as compared to “The Adventures Continue”), but it’s a classic that Walt Disney World or Disneyland fans will likely enjoy revisiting for nostalgia’s sake.
Les Mystères du Nautilus (9.5/10) – This incredibly elaborate walk-through takes guests underwater into the Nautilus, with some cool effects. It is painstakingly attentive to every little detail and worth slowing down to appreciate. It’s not a set piece out of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but it feels like it could be one. There’s a treasure trove to see and appreciate in this surprisingly large walk-through.
Disneyland Railroad (7.5/10) – A railroad ride around the perimeter of Disneyland Paris with scenic surprises along the way. Much like everything at Disneyland Paris, the (Euro) Disneyland Railroad has a ton of meticulous detail, especially at the Main Street Station. The Grand Canyon diorama is also nice, as are other familiar scenes along the way.
Autopia (5.5/10) - Kids might like it as it gives them a chance to drive in interesting futuristic environments and large track. For adults without kids, there’s not much of a draw, although some of the Art Deco-inspired designs are neat.
Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (6/10) – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in English, this is a dated Fantasyland dark ride that tells a condensed version of the story. It’s a cute attraction if you have the time, but nothing all that impressive. Very similar to the Disneyland version, except with a happy and less-abrupt ending. Do it early in the day. Entirely in French, although dialogue is minimal and not necessary to understanding.
Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast (7/10) - Interactive ride through shooting game set in the Toy Story universe. This is a reasonably popular attractions in Disneyland Paris, but it’s essentially a direct clone of the Disneyland version (which is superior to the Walt Disney World version). If your time is limited and you’ve done the Disneyland version, skip it. If you’ve only done the Walt Disney World version, do this one. FastPass is available, but you probably won’t need it.
Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril (4/10) – An intense coaster with a 360-degree loop, this ride is short and lazily themed. Despite that (and its placement at the back of the park), it’s still reasonably popular. FastPass is available, but we wouldn’t use it for this.
Le Carrousel de Lancelot (5/10) – Garden variety, albeit detailed carousel located behind Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Les Voyages des Pinocchio (6/10) – Decent dark ride based on Pinocchio. Has some better scenery than the Snow White dark ride, but still feels dated. Identical to the Disneyland version. Do it relatively early for the shortest lines.
Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups (5/10) – The spinning teacups at every castle park in the world.
River Rogue Keel Boats (?/10) – Small keel boats that take guests on tours of the Rivers of America, much like the defunct Mike Fink Keel Boats at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. These have not been open when we’ve been in Disneyland Paris–they seem to operate only in the summer season.
This leaves out some additional walk-throughs and exhibits (namely the stuff in the Main Street Arcades), seasonal entertainment, character meet & greets, and the stage shows (the reason these are left out is because none are currently running), but it’s all of the significant, year-round attractions. You should have the time to do virtually everything on this list in a single day–just don’t do it all at the expense of exploring and appreciating the beautiful park!
If this Disneyland Paris Attractions Guide has piqued your curiosity about visiting Disneyland Paris, make sure to check out the official Disneyland Paris website for 50% off packages and other discounts! Depending upon your circumstances, visiting Disneyland Paris might not be that much more expensive than visiting Walt Disney World!
For the basics of planning a visit to Disneyland Paris, check out our Disneyland Paris Trip Planning Guide. Want to see more photos or read about Disneyland Paris in agonizing detail? Check out our Disneyland Paris Trip Report!
Which of these attractions interest you the most? If you’ve been to Disneyland Paris, what are your favorite attractions? With which of our ratings do you agree and disagree? Anything else to add? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!