Most people thought my husband, Matt, and I were crazy for burning one of our four precious days in Paris at Disneyland during a recent trip.
But for us — "Disney freaks," as we're known in our families — it was a no-brainer until we arrived in Paris. Once I caught a glimpse of the beautiful, romantic city I'd seen so often in movies, I thought, "We made a mistake buying our Disneyland tickets in advance. I want to spend all four days touring Paris."
The day after arriving in Paris, Matt and I reluctantly got on the train to Disneyland. It was extremely easy to get there — and cheap, a word rarely used in Paris. After a 45-minute train ride to Marne-la-Vallee, we arrived at the park and had to walk briefly to the gates.
Once there, I was glad we decided to burn the day. The Disneyland Paris castle is beautiful — a pinker version of the ones in the States — and Main Street U.S.A. is just as quaint as the ones in Florida and California. You'll find similar favorites there: the Casey's Corner hot dog shop, the Ice Cream Company (similar to the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor in Florida and Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor in California) and cute shops filled with Disney wares.
Past Main Street are the main attractions, laid out in hub style similar to the original Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Among the big attractions are Phantom Manor (the equivalent of WDW's Haunted Mansion), Space Mountain, it's a small world, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones et le Temple du Peril (the Temple of Peril). Matt and I were most excited to try the Indy ride because it's not in the States, and we're big fans of the movies. The ride is fun, but a bit choppy. My favorite was Big Thunder Mountain. It was better than the one in Florida — smoother and with more drops and excitement.
The Paris park is divided into two sections: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park, a smaller version of the Hollywood Studios park at WDW in Florida.
It was here that we ran into a rat. The new "Ratatouille"-themed ride, Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy ("Remy's Totally Zany Adventure") is by far the most clever Disney attraction I have been on. The ride combines 3-D action with a moving rat car. The sounds and special effects are phenomenal.
Other main attractions here include "The Twilight Zone" Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, Moteurs ... Action! Stunt Show Spectacular and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.
The Tower of Terror is my favorite ride at WDW in Florida, and it's even better at Disneyland Paris. First of all, it's cool to hear Rod Sterling being dubbed over in French during the intro before the ride. Secondly, once on the elevator, the drops are totally unexpected and more plentiful than at WDW's Tower.
The major disappointment for Matt and I was the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith ride. Aerosmith is featured in the pre-show for a few seconds, but no songs are used on the ride. The band's name might as well be taken out of the title. The ride was too quiet without the Aerosmith soundtrack like the Florida version has, too jarring, and there weren't the cool florescent lights like the original ride features.
After hitting both parks and riding almost all the attractions, there still was time to visit the nearby Disney Village. It is Disneyland Paris' version of Downtown Disney, but on a much smaller scale. There are many familiar dining options here: Earl of Sandwich, Planet Hollywood, Rainforest Cafe and even a Starbucks. There's also Annette's Diner, which sells burgers, shakes and other American favorites.
No matter where you eat on property, it will be more expensive than in the States. A burger, fries and drink meal cost about $17. Matt and I ate lunch at the Disneyland Park's Plaza Gardens Restaurant, which reminded us of Crystal Palace at WDW. It included carving stations, a salad bar, pastas and a dessert bar, where I shamefully did the most damage. It was about $70 for the two of us, which was a rare bargain. For dinner, we ate at the Disney Village's Earl of Sandwich. It was just as good, if not better, than the Earl in Florida. And the view was beautiful. We looked out at the Panora Magique, which is the huge hot air balloon that allows visitors to get a sky-high view of the property.
There also are several hotels located in the parks. But you will pay for convenience: Rooms were too expensive for us to consider even a one-night stay.
To find out how much a trip would set you back and for more information, visit http://us.disneylandparis.com/.