Best Disneyland Paris Attractions & Ride Guide
Disneyland Paris (or Parc Disneyland) is France’s version of the Magic Kingdom. 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’ attractions 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 ChÃ¢teau 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. A lot has changed since the start of the 25th Anniversary last year, and we’ve updated these reviews as a result.
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 Disneyland Paris, 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.
Top Disneyland Paris Attractions
Disney Illuminations! (8.5/10) – Disneyland Paris’ exclusive nighttime spectacular featuring fire, fireworks, water fountains, lasers, castle projections, and more. Disney Illuminations debuted for the 25th Anniversary, replacing Disney Dreams. It’s not quite as good as its predecessor. There is no narrative thread here to tie the stories together, and the second half is jarring with segments devoted to the live action Beauty and the Beast, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, and Frozen. It’s still a visually and technically impressive show, and is not to be missed, but it leaves something to be desired as compared to Disney Dreams. We have this viewing and photography guide for those interested in finding the best spot and taking photos.
Disney Stars on Parade (9/10) – Disneyland Paris’ daytime parade was unveiled for the park’s 25th Anniversary and is a nice upgrade from its predecessor. There are a lot of similarities to Festival of Fantasy at Walt Disney World, including the flagship Maleficent Dragon float. 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.
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. This received a huge refurbishment ahead of the 25th Anniversary, and is now looking better than ever. Don’t do it first thing–get a FastPass for it.
Hyperspace Mountain (9/10) – Hyperspace Mountain is a dark, intense roller coaster through outer space with a Star Wars motif. The visual effects and soundtrack from the Star Wars films are cool, as are other aspects of this intense (by Disney standards) coaster. 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–it seems to strive for minor brain damage. Much like the rest of Discoveryland, the exterior and ride vehicles have a strong Jules Verne and steampunk influence, but the Hyperspace Mountain overlay is not an ideal fit for that on the inside. Don’t do Hyperspace 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).
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.
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. (Currently under refurbishment/re-imagining until September 2018.)
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 (8.5/10) – 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 new 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 ChÃ¢teau 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: The Adventures Continue (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 been given a shot in the arm with the overdue update to “The Adventures Continue” version of the attraction found in other parks.
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.
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!
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!
Just did DL Paris, I found this (and most from Tom’s) article very helpful.
I thought Pirates was great, but only a little better than the original. I’d love to see the one in China.
Thunder Mountain had less theming than DL, but the island concept was awesome. Loved the dark tunnels and the beginning and end.
Snow White, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan were the same as DL, not worth waiting much.
Space Mt. is more of a full on roller coaster, upside-down loop and all. We liked it.
Rock n’ Roll coaster was similar, but too short.
Loved Phantom Manor, but expected it to be a lot different than the original Mansion. It wasn’t.
Ratatouille would fit in at Universal. Alot of 3-D screens that made me nauseated. Not as bad as Star Tours though.
LOVED the walkthrough areas. They were all great. We were amazed at the root tunnels below the Swiss Family Robinson Tree.
PAris has never been on my bucket list, but after reading this, I think I have to include it in my itinerary!! May I know what is the best time to visit Any Paris? Thanks in advance!
Great blog! Many thanks it is extremely useful.
Why haven’t you mentioned the Walt Disney Studios park? It’s great with the Ratatouille ride, Toy Story Playland, character meet and greets and loads of other stuff.
very very very beautifull <3
You can’t compare apples and oranges! This is France……..not a U.S. State, and yes, everything is expensive (been to NYC or Hawaii lately?) Go and enjoy Disneyland Paris for what it is and relish the unique “point de vue” of the classic formula. Amusez-vous bien!
Disneyland Paris is pretty, and a decent park, but that’s about it. There’s something about the “go big or go home” american mentality that translates to “awesomeness” when refering to theme parks. In America, you can lose yourself in the parks (specially in Orlando) because there’s so much to do and so much variety that entusiasts can’t help but feel like like kids in a candy shop. When I went to DLP I was happy, but I just wished there were more attractions. You do some, smile, and realise it’s time to go home. That doesn’t happen in America. A few years ago I was very critical (in a negative way) to DLP, but the resort is slowly coming together, Ratatouille is a prime example on how to make this resort stand on its own. Go to DLP resort BEFORE you hit any park in America, or else you will probably feel dissapointed.
Hi Tom, I love your blog and guides. For my trip to Walt Disney World it was a life saver and I got to experience a lot in little time. I also used the unofficial guide to walt disney world and I really enjoyed it, but I haven’t read anything related to Disneyland Paris (my next must do this year) Have you read that guide? Do you recommend it?
Disneyland Paris is truly beautiful, but it is true that in the last years it has been quite disappointing, specially for little kids. I’ve been 3 times, and each time I went you could see less characters. The last time I went, 10 years ago, you could only see Mickey after 1 hour in line; or the princesses, if you paid over 60€ for a crappy menu. Where’s the magic in that?
Also, everything is so damn expensive! I don’t know how other Disney parks are, and I know theme parks are expensive, but DLP’s food is absolutely awful and as expensive as it gets. I remember being 5 and crying because I just couldn’t eat the awful burger my parents bought me, but I couldn’t throw it away either because everything was so expensive that we had been eating sandwiches we had brought from home, and this was supposed to be a “special night”, having dinner surrounded by the Disney magic. It felt more like a nightmare.
It is a truly beautiful park, but everything else is a complete disaster. Expensive, bad service, bad food, dirty, you can’t communicate, old attractions and you can’t see the characters. It’s like seeing the pervy old drunk from your neighbourhood dressed as Santa. The outfit is fine, but the rest is f***ed up.