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Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Why I Love Disneyland Paris So Much

The other day I read an article about how to beat Ticketmaster prices and fees and it really struck a chord with me. In case you haven't tried to buy mainstream concert tickets in the last several years, or even heard about the Taylor Swift outrage, Ticketmaster and LiveNation merged, so they now have a monopoly on most concert tickets and can charge whatever they want. It's crazy. 

We took a Paris vacation with Disneyland trip for the same price as going to a domestic Disney park. Here's why I love Disneyland Paris so much.

So, what does any of this have to do with Disneyland? Well, I found that it's not just concerts that are worth traveling out of the U.S. for. We had plans in 2020 to go to Disney World. Obviously, you know that didn't happen. We had pushed the trip twice before we outright canceled it. We've been talking about going back, but we have a lot of feelings about the state of Florida right now. 

Those feelings aside, I had looked into theme park prices last year and figured out what an Orlando vacation would cost. Then we found great airfare rates through Play Airlines to go to Paris. Somehow, flying to Paris and going to Disneyland Paris was actually cheaper than going to Walt Disney World. Yes, I know that the parks don't exactly compare to each other, but having been to Disneyland Paris two other times, I we knew it would also be less stressful. 

For less than the price of a trip to WDW, we took a trip to Paris, with a day in Baltimore, ate some amazing food, visited museums we hadn't gotten to on previous trips, explored new parts of the city, and then split that trip with a Disney trip, where we even stayed in a Disney resort. I'm not even a little shocked that people are paying the same, or even less, to buy concert tickets in other countries, plus airfare and a whole trip around it.

Anyway, let's talk about the best things about Disneyland Paris to us:

The castle is beautiful and there's dragon! Did you know that each Disney park has a different castle? Technically Tokyo has a fortress, but it still has the castle feel. This one features a different version of Sleeping Beauty's Castle than the one at WDW and is called Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. 

The ground floor has the obligatory shops, gorgeous ones, and the second floor, reached by a grand staircase, has beautiful stained glass, which, along with tapestries and vignettes, tells the story of Sleeping Beauty. The ceiling is brilliantly painted and it also feels like you're in the middle of the forest with those trees inside. Make sure to go outside on the balcony to get a view over Fantasyland. Nobody was out there either, but that could be because it was raining. 

If you head down the stairs, you will find yourself in the dragon's dungeon. This is where dragon Maleficent is being kept. This huge animatronic moves and blows smoke and generally feels like you're in the presence of a real animal. Somehow, there's never a ton of people down here and I'm not sure if they don't know about it or don't care, but it's a nice little area to take a break in and see something truly unique to this park. 

Around the corner, there's a nice little eating area that's tucked away behind the buildings. You'll see Cinderella's glass coach and a sweet fountain. 

I know this fountain exists in other parks, but I found this one more easily and it wasn't super crowded around it. We were the only people in the little square, so we didn't have to wait for people to move to see either of these things. It might be different when it's warm out, but this was the first time we've seen these, so I don't really know.

The Haunted Mansion is Phantom Manor here and it has a weird and awesome Wild West vibe, because in Paris, it's located in Frontierland and has a whole story about the people of the west coming to mine in the area and many didn't survive. This is a ride where you should ride it multiple times to catch all the details. I'd also suggest learning the story that goes along with it and then riding it (again). 

You think you're at the end of the land when you exit the ride, and you would be right, but head away from the rest of the park and visit Boot Hill Cemetery. If you listen closely, you can hear the deceased miners. It's a fun detail and there's almost never anyone there. It's also on a raised platform, so you get a different view of Phantom Manor and you can see all of Big Thunder Railroad.

Two other rides that can be found at other parks have their own special twist, too. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril is an outdoor rollercoaster. This is one of our favorite rides, because it feels like Indiana Jones, but it's outside and it goes upside down. This is one of the first rides we head to when the park opens. You also have Hyperspace Mountain. It's pretty similar to the rides in America, except it's a true rollercoaster as well and also goes upside down.

While I could go on and on about how much I love Disneyland Paris, I'll leave you with a few bullet points:
  • There is an Alice In Wonderland labyrinth and you can climb to the top of the Queen's castle and look over the whole thing.
  • They still have the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
  • The parks are not as popular as those in America, so they aren't as crowded. 
  • You could easily do one park per day, but a 3-day park hopper ensures you don't miss out on anything or have to invest in Genie+.
  • Getting from one park to the other is a short walk.
  • You can get a package that includes staying at a Disneyland hotel for pretty much the same price as booking a nearby hotel or vacation rental and get free shuttle service instead of using Uber or similar transportation.
  • In between Frontierland and Adventureland is a walkway with Mexican eateries and a ton of animals and people from Coco's Land of the Dead, including Dante up there. I adore that Coco's getting love, because it doesn't get enough attention over here, unless it's Halloweentime. I admit that I spent way too long oohing and ahhing over every detail.
  • Paris park tickets are considerably cheaper than both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

My only con about Disneyland Paris is that the food is mostly not great. We did have good coffee everywhere and a decent order of fish and chips at Toad Hall. The food at Bistrot Chez Remy was pretty good, but the service was terrible (it could have just been our waitress though). The ambiance made it better. We ate at Captain Jack's, the equivalent of Blue Bayou inside Pirates of the Caribbean, and the food was quite underwhelming. The last time we ate there, it was delicious. I'm not sure what happened there. If you're there during a food festival, though, the kiosks sell tasty food. I would take walking around with food over a sit-down meal, plus you get to try more things that way.

I compared the same trip we took to Paris Disneyland to regular Disneyland with the same tickets and the cheapest resort and it would have cost us over twice the price and we would have only been able to do that and not had 3 extra days of vacation. So, if you're looking to take a trip and you think it's over your budget, think outside the box. We've done several international trips that have been similar or cheaper than a domestic trip. 

What is your favorite Disney (or other theme) park and what do you love most about it?

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