We recently spent a few days at Disneyland Resort Paris, and were absolutely blown away by the resort–mostly due to its Disneyland park, which is currently celebrating both Christmas and its 20th anniversary. While Disneyland Paris still suffers from many of its problems that have been documented over the last several years, we were surprised to find in it a sterling example of theme park design, brilliant storytelling, and quality substantive attraction experiences. From the most beautiful Main Street of any of the three Disneyland-style parks we have visited to the most stunning castle (and an equally stunning dragon below the Castle) to excellent lands in Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Discoveryland, we were shocked at how much we loved Disneyland Paris. Some nagging maintenance issues and its restaurants prevent it from dethroning Disneyland as my favorite Disney theme park (keeping in mind we have yet to visit Tokyo Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland), but it’s a close second. I’ll have more on this in the weeks to come, but suffice to say, Disneyland Paris really impressed us.
Christmas in Disneyland Paris was much like Christmas in the Magic Kingdom or Disneyland, with lands similarly decorated. Disneyland Paris was definitely more restrained in its decorations than its two United States counterparts, although it was no slouch in the decorations department. The highlight for me was this song played during the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which is my new favorite “Disney” Christmas song. Load it and listen before reading on…
Obviously a big part of the Disney experience for me is photography, and a huge part of that fun is nighttime photography. I can say without a doubt that Disneyland Paris’ Main Street is now my favorite land of any park to photograph at night. The level of detail on this Main Street is extraordinary, and the cumulative effect of these details is a street that wows guests–at least the ones paying attention. The brick pavers, the billboards, the stories of the shopkeepers all add up to create a land that is incredibly intriguing and quite different from the Main Streets in the United States. The experience of standing on Main Street all alone at night as that whimsical castle looms in the distance is almost chill-inducing. While I love Cinderella Castle and Sleeping Beauty Castle, neither of them exude the spirit of the Disney theme parks quite like Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle, but we’ll be calling it Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant for the sake of differentiation and invoking a bit of French pretentiousness ;)).
Of course, this whole experience was likely amplified by experiencing this scene at Christmas. This photo doesn’t even begin to do it justice, but hopefully it gives you a bit of a feel for what Main Street is like in Disneyland Paris at Christmas-time!