Is Disneyland Paris Right for You?
“I hated Disneyland Paris. The park was awful and people were rude…” Comments like this are not uncommon from guests who have visited, and been disappointed by, Disneyland Paris. If our reader reaction is any indication, it’s the most divisive Disney park on the planet. It’s certainly not a place for everyone, and in this post I’ll highlight who is likely to love it–and who is not.
I’ll be up front: I love Disneyland Paris, and it confounds me a bit that other Disney fans do not feel the same way about it that I do. With that said, I realize different fans have different backgrounds, expectations, and touring preferences. Some people focus on attractions, others focus on atmosphere, others still focus on dining, and so on.
There are any number of ways to enjoy a Disney park, and my intent here is not to make a value judgment about individual interests and vacation priorities. Rather, I hope this post will shed some light on which touring styles are most conducive to enjoying Disneyland Paris…
In some ways, Disneyland Paris has more in common with Epcot or Tokyo DisneySea than it does the other castle parks. Like those, it is the ultimate “ambiance park.” A place best enjoyed with a slow stroll, sipped like a fine French wine. If I had to pick a park to visit without doing any attractions, Disneyland Paris would be my #2 choice, after Tokyo DisneySea.
If you love roaming World Showcase in Epcot, just exploring the hidden corners, shops, and meticulous details, there’s a strong possibility that Disneyland Paris is for you. Disneyland Paris has a treasure trove of brilliant design work, and even after numerous visits, I still stumble upon new things each trip. It’s such a satisfying park to explore.
If you’re the type who collects coffee table books about Walt Disney Imagineering or the design and architecture of the parks, Disneyland Paris is absolutely for you.
One of the great things about today’s social media era is that many high-profile current and former Imagineers have accounts where they share old photos and anecdotes. I follow a number of these accounts, and the park for which many of these celebrated Imagineers still have an intense passion is Disneyland Paris. Eddie Sotto put it best when he said that Disneyland Paris is “the park designed by WDI Disney fans…for Disney fans.”
April 12. What a day. Thanks for all the kind words. DLP is the park designed by WDI Disney fans…for Disney fans. Congrats to all, enjoy! pic.twitter.com/nZn6N6XCPs
– Eddie Sotto (@boss_angeles) April 12, 2017
While other parks were also no doubt designed by Disney fans within Imagineering, there are a couple of critical differences with Disneyland Paris. First, most of the original design remains. In a sense, other parks are victims of their own success: as the parks became more popular, new ideas were injected that strayed from their “pure” ambition.
Elsewhere, these additions were made with the goal of appealing to a more mainstream audience. Attractions like Soarin’ and Frozen Ever After are crowd-pleasers that play well with casual guests, but when viewed through the prism of the park’s objective and core thematic principles, they make less sense.
Ironically enough, the same financial struggles that have hampered the growth of Disneyland Paris over the years have also ensured that it has (largely) remained pure in theme. Outside of Discoveryland, there are few additions to Disneyland Paris that have hampered its design and thematic integrity.
Second, the team behind the park’s original buildout featured an all-star lineup of Imagineers, who had a good deal of creative latitude. The result with Disneyland Paris is a park that feels like it contains some great ‘blue sky’ ambitions that often get cut from other projects.
At least in part because the lavish design and ambition of Disneyland Paris caused it to go over budget, subsequent parks (save the OLC-funded Tokyo DisneySea) were built in a more “restrained” sense. Animal Kingdom at its opening is a good example. It has the similar thematic purity and ambition, but Disney hedged its bets by building that park on a smaller scale and expanding it over time.
Disneyland Paris feels like the culmination of castle parks before it, with lessons learned from Disneyland and Magic Kingdom, and applied to something new. Its ambition is uncanny, and it’s a true treat to get lost in, exploring its many details…if that’s the kind of Disney park experience you’re after.
If the idea of spending an entire day in a theme park without doing any attractions sounds miserable to you, perhaps Disneyland Paris is not for you. For me, this isn’t some vague hypothetical that is unfathomable in practice. I could be satisfied wandering a park all day taking photos, soaking up the experience, and taking in the details. In fact, I’ve done it and really enjoy it.
I understand that for many fans, the primary draw of the parks is attractions. I think this is a fair perspective; after all, the parks wouldn’t exist without attractions (no one is waiting in like 90 minutes to stare at some details). For many people, a Disney trip is in large part judged by how many attractions were experienced.
If your primary objective is riding the rides, Disneyland Paris might not be for you. This is not to say it doesn’t have any good attractions (it has the best versions of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Pirates of the Caribbean, plus great options in Fantasyland, Phantom Manor, etc.), but I think it’s fair to say Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, and Tokyo Disneyland all have much more robust attraction lineups. Paris is about on par with Shanghai Disneyland or Hong Kong Disneyland in terms of attractions (probably a bit ahead of both).
From a rides-only perspective, Disneyland Paris is a 1-day park and Walt Disney Studios Park is also a 1-day park. Ironically, from a design and detail perspective, I’d say Disneyland Paris is a 3-day park and Walt Disney Studios Park is a 30 minutes park. WDSP is the polar opposite of Disneyland Paris. For those of you used to spending 7-days at Walt Disney World doing attractions nonstop, Disneyland Paris may leave you wanting.
Additionally, if food is an integral part of your Disney experience, and you find yourself combing the internet looking for new snacks to try or menu changes at restaurants at resort hotels, Disneyland Paris might not be for you. Not only does Disneyland Paris serve the worst food of any Disney resort in the world, but it also lacks counter service menu variety and there’s not much going on in the way of crave-worthy snacks.
This is not to say you cannot put together a respectable dining itinerary at Disneyland Paris that has some exceptional meals in it, you’re just going to have to work harder at it. You’re also going to have limited choices on the counter service front in that itinerary.
The plus side, though, is that (like the rest of the park), Disneyland Paris has the best themed restaurants anywhere. Walt’s – An American Restaurant alone is like a visit to Club 33 (except with better history and open to the general public). Suffice to say, on your first 3-4 day trip to Disneyland Paris, you can having a fun culinary experience, but once you’re on trip 2 or 3, you’ve pretty much depleted all of the good options and will be returning to old favorites.
Finally, if you want an experience that includes a lot of cheery “have a magical day!” interactions, Disneyland Paris might not be for you. French culture is dramatically different than United States’ culture. This is something I’ve written about with regard to Disneyland Paris multiple times, so I apologize if you’ve already read it once or seven times, but it bears emphasizing since it’s such a common complaint from Americans who have culture shock upon visiting Disneyland Paris.
French ideas of service are different than those in the U.S. A good example of this is at restaurants, where servers take a much more subdued approach, and are far more hands off. For many Americans, this is perceived as the server “shunning” them, and is construed as poor service.
For the French, this is part of the culture. I’m hardly an expert on France, but the ‘cafe culture’ is evident throughout the country. People go to restaurants to become engrossed in conversation, and any intrusion, including an assertive server, is an impediment to that (you’ll also see far fewer people playing on their phones in France’s restaurants).
In other words, what you might perceive as rude is through the prism of your culture. Part of international travel is necessarily temporarily becoming immersed in another culture.
Beyond service in restaurants, there’s the general demeanor of Cast Members. Part of this is an extension of French culture. Another part is that for most Cast Members, working at Disneyland Paris is just another job. Disney is not part of the cultural fabric in France like it is in Anaheim, where there’s still a reverence towards Walt Disney or in Orlando, a place to which many people relocate to fulfill dreams of working for Disney.
This is not to say that there are no exceptional Cast Members at Disneyland Paris. To the contrary, we’ve encountered so many great Cast Members there who go above and beyond. Like the other parks, some go the extra mile to make an indelible impression on guests. Many others do not, instead going about their jobs in a workmanlike manner, competently getting their work done. Parisians are also not big on feigned enthusiasm, so those throwaway “have a magical day” platitudes are almost unheard of at Disneyland Paris.
Hopefully this helped you determine whether Disneyland Paris is for you. If you’re still on the fence, I say go! The one thing not mentioned above is proximity to Paris, which is one of the greatest cities in the world. Any trip to Disneyland Paris should include as much or more time in Paris proper, and there is no shortage of incredible experiences to be had in the city. To be honest, this is why I never feel guilty about recommending a trip to Disneyland Paris. I think reasonable minds may differ on Disneyland Paris, but if you do not like Paris as a city, that’s on you.
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 20th Anniversary Trip Report or our Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary Trip Recap!
If you’ve visited Disneyland Paris, what’s your take on who it’ll appeal to most? Did you enjoy your visit, or would you rather stick to other Disney Parks? Anything with which you disagree in this post? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!
As a French Disney fan who goes to DLP several times a year since 1992, I must admit that everything that was written here is true except for the food and the “30mn park” regarding WDS (i.e, you’re wrong, it is at least a one hour park :D).
Like you, I love to just wander in the park (the first one of course), trying to see new details, to take some uncrowded/secret paths. And sometimes I only do a few rides (POTC and BTMRR are my preferred). Ok, it is because I have visited the park more that 50 times so it is easy for me to do that.
Having visited WDW twice and Disneyland once (in july 2015), it is true that we can feel the difference, especially cast members’ lack of enthusiasm/smile/courtesy (not all of them of course).
It is also a pity to see tourists doing what they want (scream/talking loud, walking on the grass, smoking, cheating in the queues, having disrespectful behaviors towards CMs “because they have paid their tickets”. Hopefully not all Europeans are rude.
Our culture (I mean european, not only French) is different. But the park is so beautiful, so immersive.
As for the food, I disagree with you. DLP has probably the best restaurants in all Disney parks : Walt’s an American Restaurant, Inventions, California Grill, Blue Lagoon or L’auberge de Cendrillon. And the CEO is always trying to improve the food experience.
We went to DLP for the New Years holiday. It was very cold, very foggy, frosty, damp, yet because of the weather and beauty of DLP it was still very magical in a “frozen” sort of way. We were only in the actual Park 2 days, did the Buffalo Bill Wild West show, ate at Walt’s and Bistro Chez Remy, and even did the Paris day tour (with Louvre and boat ride) that left from the New York hotel. We stayed off-site at the Marriott Vacation club, which was fabulous. I agree that the Cast members were not helpful, not friendly, barely spoke English, and sometimes were non-existent, which is in complete contrast from WDW. However, we didn’t have high expectations for customer service, and that prevented us from being disappointed. We are very happy we went and can add DLP to our Disney family memories.
This was a great post, thanks, Tom! Not sure the next time I’ll be in Western Europe, but I do feel like I must get to DLP someday.
Now time to comb who you follow on social media! I had no idea Imagineers were active on Twitter or Instagram, but I’d love to follow them, too! (You might keep that in mind for a future post–your favorite Disney folks to follow.) Thanks!
Love all your travel and posts, Tom and Sarah! I can’t wait to go for the 25th anniversary! The Walt Disney Company has finally bought enough shares to own 97% of Euro Disney and will bring Disneyland Paris fully under the Disney corporate family! Imagine a Premier Passport including Anaheim, Orlando, and Paris! =o) http://www.amf-france.org/Fiche-BDIF?docId=6121C712_217C1216
As a French Disney fan who goes all the time to DLP I can only agree with everything that was written here. Even if I loooove DLP !
We visited WDW twice (soon to be 3). Last time we went to DLP just a few days after coming back from WDW and we really felt the difference especially cast members’ lack of enthusiasm. Americans are so nice and dynamic.
Same with visitors, European people are all different but the majority have disrespectful behaviors towards CMs, other visitors or rules. We already knew it of course but found Americans so nice and polite that when we came home it seemed to us that Europeans were really rude. People’s magical behavior in WDW was a big part of our experience and I think that DLP would benefit from a more intensified American management to the CM !
It would help Americans to have a better experience here if they could understand that our culture are very different. We go to restaurants to enjoy a moment in private and as we say here, a good waiter is a waiter you don’t see ! We don’t like to be interrupted by waiters that’s just how it is.
And even if it seems weird it is very French to disrespect rules and do whatever you want. We do it for everything, everywhere, and French people are very used to it so sometime we don’t even see it. I realized it mainly when I began to travel and saw how cool it can be when people are waiting the bus in line, don’t smoke where they shouldn’t smoke, don’t cross the road when they should etc. Americans are so respectful I love this and would love it if French people could become more like this especially concerning smoking !
My comment may not be very appealing to someone who hesitate to come. But please do come and visit DLP : it’s different from the other parks and that’s why it’s good to see it ! No one want to travel the world to see the exact same park than their home park ! It is a beautiful park, you can enjoy nice attractions without a lot of queue most of the time, the shows are beautiful, you can try nice restaurants (the plaza, hakuna matata, Walt…), French are not all rude I promise 🙂 !, and last but not least…the beautiful Paris is less than 1 hour from here ! Wish to see you there 🙂
I just had my first Disneyland Paris experience this past weekend – it was filled with highs and lows! I am grateful to have just come across your comment, because I have to say my worst low for the weekend were my fellow guests within the park. I witnessed guests being disrespectful of a beautiful park, of any (common for an American I think) courtesy towards those around them, a “me first” attitude that was stunning, and generally I couldn’t believe how cold folks were towards one another in general (no general friendliness, or consideration of those with small children etc.). Worst of all – I witnessed a large brawl/fist fight break out right as the Starlight Princess Waltz show was beginning. There were several folks who ended up bloodied, security pulling people apart, and it sparked a panic in the seating area. I was in shock!
I came away from the weekend not understanding if I was having culture shock, or if it was something else. I’m glad to read that this was culture shock as I had hoped. During the weekend I tried to observe others around me, noticed that the behavior was not abnormal, thus tried to change my perception of it (although sometimes it was difficult, like when being crowded/touched constantly in lines which made me rather uncomfortable).
I honestly thought the park was stunning! So very, very, rich in detail that I will miss next time I’m in FL or CA. Photo opportunities and Disney details were everywhere I looked. The cultural appropriation in Thunder Mesa (and some other places) made me chuckle and was entertaining because it was easy to see what the creators were trying to portray. I encountered some wonderful cast members and characters who looked like they were having a great time, and the rest while colder than their American counterparts were nothing less of polite and extremely tolerant of one klutzy American (who barely speaks a lick of awfully pronounced French). Hyperspace Mountain the Thunder Mountain have taken their place as my favorite versions of those attractions as well, and the end scene of Phantom Manor was a real treat!
As someone who takes delight in the food options in the American parks I was a bit disappointed to not find as many “local tastes” or snacks available, and that the diversity of options outside of the table service restaurants was low. However, everything I ate was fresh, and delicious (but having read reviews here I stayed far away from anything remotely related to hamburgers), so while the options were few what existed was thoroughly enjoyable!
Overall though? I’m glad I visited, and I’m glad to have had the experience! Anyone who loves Disney Parks should try Disneyland Paris out – just keep an open mind (and you won’t be sorry you did)! 🙂
I’ve found your articles to be very informative. I’m going to DLP for the first time in October (my first time leaving the US) and I’m super excited for it. So thank you for all your tips!
Dlp might have less attractions but most of the “key” attractions are superior or on par with the best version.
As mentioned by Tom, Big thunder mountain and Pirates are longer and better rides, I’d even include Space mountain 2 which features a unexpected inverted loop!
Phantom Manor whilst standard , however features in an isolated eerie area stunningly designed exteriors. unlike the other parks I felt more engrossed in this version due to its isolated setting.
Add on top of that what is in my opinion the most beautiful castle off all Disney parks. Disneyland Paris just can’t be ignored.
Yes it needs Alot of improvements particularly in dining but it’s not something that can be remedied with late night dinners after a day of heavy snacking on candied apples, crepes and pastries.
“…but it’s not something that can be remedied with late night dinners after a day of heavy snacking on candied apples, crepes and pastries.”
I assume you meant to include another “not” in there, and if so, I agree. I just wish there were more diverse snack options at Disneyland Paris, because then I could spend the entire day snacking, and just do a late night meal at Earl of Sandwich (or wherever) after the park closes.
The thing that shocks us most in DLP has always been the other guests, not the cast members! Guests frequently ignore instructions and signage (the smoking areas is a good example) and behave appalling in queues both for rides and restaurants. Given the lack of respect offered it does not surprise me at all that cast members become demotivated. How many times a day could your job be reduced to politely managing poor behaviour before you too lost your sparkle? I’ve seen this problem in other European parks and visitor attractions so I don’t think this is a uniquely DLP problem.
Polite behaviour, coupled with attempts at French, seems to have gone a long way with us. We don’t expect American style service, but our interactions have been honest and helpful which is just about all I reckon we’ve needed. And in restaurants we’ve never felt harassed or hurried out, which frankly to me is a bonus.
“Polite behaviour, coupled with attempts at French, seems to have gone a long way with us. We don’t expect American style service, but our interactions have been honest and helpful which is just about all I reckon we’ve needed. And in restaurants we’ve never felt harassed or hurried out, which frankly to me is a bonus.”
While your entire comment is excellent, this part is spot-on.
The problem so many Americans have is that they believe the world revolves around them. They expect people to speak English in the United States, yet do not recognize the ironic double-standard of not knowing a foreign language abroad. Moreover, they cannot appreciate cultural differences.
While you’re certainly right that different cultures approach service differently, I would argue that DLP actually *does* have fairly ‘meh’ guest relations, especially compared to other European destinations such as Europa Park. Europa serves a mostly French and German clientele, it’s not at all Americanized like DLP, and yet their guest service is consistently warm and welcoming. DLP is beautiful, but it operates like a machine.
Do you think that has anything to do with its German management? We’ve had consistently more “warm” customer service experiences in Germany than in France.
As an American who has lived in France for five years, I would say that there is a cultural difference. Europa Park has recently become our park of choice, even though it is much further away than DLP, because it seems like a far superior value, as represented by the excellent maintenance and cleanliness, regular additions to the park, very good food and yes, the warm, friendly service, which I had not really expected because I’d never been to Germany before and I guess had some mistaken preconceived notions about German culture (specifically, I thought that German efficiency would be accompanied by coldness, which was absolutely not the case).
We will return to DLP on occasion for things like the new Star Tours, but I think EP is our new home.
As an avid photographer, I enjoyed Disneyland Paris. As a park guest, I found it terrible.
Our initial introduction to the “Disney Magic” was our arrival at the Sequoia Lodge. Arriving around midnight, after 12+ hours of travel, we were greeted by Miguel. Not being Parisian, Miguel was quite friendly.
However, after checking in, we were given directions to our room and sent on our way. We had to lug a week’s worth of luggage down one long corridor, taking a right down another long corridor, then another right down another long corridor, finally to our room. At least we saved on tipping the bellhop!
After our breakfast, we proceeded to the park. Our first thrill was standing in line with compulsive smokers. We were to find that, although smoking is restricted to designated areas, as it is at all Disney parks, the restriction is totally ignored at Disneyland Paris. Throughout the park, and the adjacent grounds, one will encounter smokers, along with all the tossed cigarette butts. Unlike other Disney Parks, the custodial crew is almost useless.
All encounters with Parisian staff were very abrupt and sometimes downright rude. All encounters with foreign workers were great. There appears to be a resentment factor at work. After all, when Disneyland “Paris” was opened, it was “Euro” Disney. The Parisians wanted no part of it!. However, after the money appeared to start coming in, they changed their tune, although a bit sour, and conceded to the name Disneyland Paris.
There was no “Disney Magic” in the air, as one will experience at the other parks. Photogenically, it was wonderful. However, the beauty seemed only skin deep.
“However, after the money appeared to start coming in, they changed their tune, although a bit sour, and conceded to the name Disneyland Paris.”
Ha, that’s a good one!
Just got back from DLP in May 2017. It was our first time and we LOVED it. We’ve been to WDW 20+ times and Disneyland (California) a few times. DLP is more laid back. It has different attractions than back home. (Phantom Manor, Hyperspace Mountain (goes upside down!), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom coaster, Crush’s Coaster, Pixar Land, dragon under the castle, Ratatoullie ride, etc. The park was clean, not overly packed with people and we never had more than a 20 minute wait for anything. We stayed at the Marriott Resort Village, about a 20 minute bus ride away (HIGHLY recommended!). Spent 2 days at DLP and 1 day at the studios. Wished we had 1 more day to go back to DLP, just to stroll around and look at all of the details, but we wanted to see the sights of Paris. We WILL be going back to DLP!!!
Tom, this blog is always super detailed and informative, but your perspective on Disneyland Paris was particularly helpful to me as I planned my first trip this year.
Once I arrived in the parks, I actually noticed myself saying “Wow, Tom Bricker was right about Sequoia Lodge/Agrabah Cafe/etc.” to my husband at least once a day.
So if you ever need someone to give an unqualified “Bricker is always right!” pull-quote, I’m your gal.
We’re total nit-picky WDW loyalists (my intense Midwestern love for Florida has somehow passed on to my British husband through osmosis), but before our trip was over two Annual Passports had mysteriously appeared in our pockets.
Unsure if this speaks more to the veracity of your lovely statement that Disneyland Paris is “a true treat to get lost in” or to our ever-worsening Disney Parks addiction, but…uh…Vive La France, either way!
Thanks so much for all the hard work that goes into Disney Tourist Blog.
I don’t need a pull quote for the blog, but I will be using that one with Sarah, so I thank you for that. (On the other hand, she does not.) 😉
Ha, oh no! I figured that sentiment would probably be more useful for personal disagreements than for future publications.
To make all things (slightly?) even: I live for Sarah’s park outfits and packing recommendations! Her ability to rock those sun hats is one of the most notable “right” things about the blog.
Thanks again to both of you 🙂
Great post, Tom. I agree wholeheartedly. I think for typical WDW snowflake Guests (the kind who are even afraid of LA, so they’ve never been to DLR or have gone once or twice, while visiting WDW 2-3 times annually) no foreign park is going to work for them. The BS ‘service’ — i.e. minimum wage CMs who hate their jobs telling you to ‘Have a MAGICal Night!’ or giving your princess Mickey stickers — isn’t European service (it also isn’t Japanese or Chinese either). DLP is worth a visit to any true fan of Walt Disney and WDI and themed environments, although I’ll add DAK as a park that I enjoy just walking around in. As for attractions, there are fewer than castle parks in Anaheim, Orlando and Tokyo, but on par with both Chinese resorts. Almost to an attraction, money wasn’t spared, so they are modern plussed versions (no tossing in a barebones 1990s that could have been 1980s Pooh clone like both Chinese parks for example). Paris is one the greatest cities in the world and DLP is 35 minutes from the centre. I can’t imagine not going, but I just bought my seventh AP in the last dozen or so years. … There are issues, most notably staffing issues and operational issues that flow from them, which can impact a visit (they may have had three steam trains working when you and every blogger were there April 12th, but they are running just one now which can mean waits of 90s minutes for the Rails … insane!) And there is still plenty of upkeep work that needs to be done. But no true Disney fan should skip the place. A fan of simply WDW and its … special swamp MAGIC? Maybe they should make sure they have their Halloween and Christmas Party tix bought and their DVC pressies booked.
I don’t think they had 3 trains running on April 12, but if they did, the trains were still incredibly popular–waits maxed out at 120 minutes (at least that I saw!) during our trip.
I suspect going at more of an off-season time, as we’ve done in the past, would “eliminate” (or at least minimize) a lot of the negative experiences you and I both had on our recent trips. I did not have many of these experiences in 2012, 2014, or 2016 during the off-season, so I’m guessing they would be non-issues now, too.
That doesn’t mean DLP doesn’t need to address them, though.
Thanks Tom. As a European theme park/DLP fan, I must say all of your points are 100% valid.
There is one thing that you didn’t cover though, that has become critical when I decide to visit DLP *OR* another European theme park. All the negative points (mainly: lack of maintenance and its impact on ride operations, poor customer service and food options) make Disneyland Paris a theme park that is absolutely fascinating on picture, but not really enjoyable to experience, especially on repeated visits. That’s been the case for more than a decade, and still today despite the amazing and expensive efforts made to bring back decent quality standards.
DLP annual reports show year after year how returning guests are a thin potion on annual attendance – which is very bad on the long term. Most major european theme parks now offer outstanding value/money and overall guest experience. Most major european theme parks open new rides every two years. (Think Efteling, Europa Park, Phantasialand, Port Aventura…) For years, DLP only relied on the attracting power of its brand and characters, but that’s not enough. It even feels like a scam because DLP is premium++ priced and can’t stop repeating it’s a premium destination. Architecture is definitely premium but the rest is not.
The moment DLP will actually be back to the industry leading standard Disney is famous for, I think it will take another ten years for word of mouth do its job and Disneyland Paris becoming the successful destination it deserves from the beginning.
“DLP annual reports show year after year how returning guests are a thin potion on annual attendance — which is very bad on the long term.”
I totally agree with this, and it’s something that could be said for the Florida parks, too. Disney’s philosophy for every park but California and Tokyo (which is OLC, anyway) seems to be to target once in a lifetime visitors and pay less attention to repeat guests. Personally, I think this is a poor business plan even at Walt Disney World, but especially poor in a place like Paris that needs repeat guests to buoy attendance and spending numbers.
Hopefully DLP will continue its upward trajectory, but it’s going to take a lot of time to get the place to where it needs to be.
I have to agree with this. We are from California so we have been exposed to quite a few theme/amusement parks, but we were blown away by Europa Park when we visited two years ago with our two kids, then age 4 and 6. The number of attractions, the reasonableness of the prices on tickets, hotels and especially food , the variety and quality of food, cleanliness, and customer service were all top notch. Plus it has a great balance of attractions for young and old, although some are obviously derivative of Disney attractions (and there’s Eurfaux Mouse as my husband likes to call him). We’re going back to Europe this winter and will be spending two days at both Europa Park and Disneyland Paris (our first visit there). The price for tickets and lodging at El Andaluz at Europa Park, literally at the entrance to the park, will be $718 USD. We ended up booking a suite at Sequoia Lodge (to get the VIP FP), but the Golden Forest room, which I would say is comparable to El Andaluz (since breakfast is no longer included with standard rooms at DLP), would be $917 with a 40% off offer (I will credit Disney for having frequent sales on their rooms, whereas the on-site hotels at Europa Park seem to very rarely have offers, making it much better to book through a third-party site like Orbitz or Travelocity with a coupon). And the food prices at DLP appear to be about double the Europa Park prices for in-park counter service dining. If I lived in Europe I would definitely be more apt to get an annual pass for Europa Park than DLP. As a pure thrill ride, Silver Star is the best ride I’ve ever been on.
I agree with you on the value issue. Nobody expects a visit to Disney to be cheap, but I kind of feel shaken down at DLP for an experience that really is not premium, especially when it comes to food.
We just got back from a trip to DLP. I am a Disney nut and looked forward to our visit.
I was wishing for more of a French flair, but it is very Americanized, too much like Florida’s Magic Kingdom. Even the food was typical American burgers, etc. we tried to do both parks in one day and it rained that afternoon so that clouded our enjoyment some. We enjoyed seeing the attraction/rides that will soon be at Hollywood Studios/ and was looking forward to one last ride on the Backlot Tour and Light, Motors, Action, but they were both closed.
We met a young French couple that were past cast members in Buzz Lightyear line and they were very friendly and talkative. We made plans to meet them in WDW next year.
I am glad we went, really enjoyed seeing every thing but I must say for us WDW is way better.
i read quite a few articles on disneyland paris before i went so i knew what to expect but what took me off guard was the fact that guests smoked pretty much anywhere. Im an avid non-smoker so this was probably the most difficult aspect of the park to overlook. And also the crowd control. It seemed like guests had no respect for cast members instructions. Might have been they didnt understand due to language barrier or might have been they were just ignored. It was so strange to see cast members just disregarded in that way. The park is beautiful though and your right its like strolling through Epcot but better because that castle is amazing!
Spot on Tom, a reasoned and intelligent perspective. I’ve been to WDW twice and DL twice but am heading to DLP for the 8th time later this year – coming from the UK it is my home park and I love it. I sometimes find the US culture a bit “in your face” and it’s not the way I prefer to interact with people but acknowledge that it is a cultural norm and go with it. I’ve never experienced bad service at DLP, I think the right mindset helps, as does a few words of French! I’m looking forward to many more trips to the US and Paris parks – I’m unlikely to ever head to the more exotic locations as I hate flying unfortunately!
What a great article! I definitely relate to a lot of the points you’ve brought up. I have been to Disneyland Paris recently and definitely noticed the customer service differences after visiting Florida a couple of years beforehand. This disappointed me as I think despite being in France cast members should still deliver Disney service! The main thing I love about DLP is, being from the UK, how easy it is to get to. It’s just one or two trains the last of which stops at the park gates. Also the way you can walk through downtown Disney to get to the parks, a trick which has definitely been missed in Florida. When I was in Florida a few years ago I was so surprised to have to get a bus quite far away to get to the now Disney Springs. I really enjoyed DLP but for me I would much rather save up the money and do a big holiday in Florida as it offers so much more.
I didn’t realize Disneyland Paris was so divisive. I can’t imagine anyone not liking it more than Magic Kingdom on a purely objective level. What a wonderful park. Different strokes I suppose.
I think it has a better attraction lineup(even if there are fewer) than MK. Superior Pirates, Big Thunder, Space Mountain and I would count Phantom Manor as better than Haunted Mansion.
Thanks Tom, for your great inside tips about the differences between Disneyland Paris and the other Disney parks. I have only ever been to the Disney parks in Orlando, so I am very much looking forward to experiencing these differences myself this Christmas. Being from Norway, we are not used to the “have a magical day” approach anywhere at home, something I am sure you discovered on your recent cruise here 😉 – so we should be fine.
I believe that the biggest difference between Norwegian and French culture we will encounter in Disneyland Paris, is the attitude towards smoking. I do not look forward to experiencing French culture in that respect.