MY DREAM CAME TRUE!
Reviews of bucket-list-worthy things to do all over the world

Two Americans in Disneyland Paris!

~A Guest Post by Kristina Horner~

I've been given a lot of crap over the last few years for the decisions I made while I was in Paris. All of French culture at my fingertips and I chose to spend one of my precious days at Disneyland? Really?!

Yes. Really. As a life-long Disney enthusiast and a homesick girl on my first long-term European adventure, Disneyland Paris was EXACTLY how I wanted to spend one of my days in France. I remember it so vividly, even now, five years later.

My alarm went off at 7:45; I took a shower in record time, dried my hair, ran downstairs for breakfast, and by 9 am my travel buddy Eia and I were heading to the Metro. Leaving the hostel by 9am was a huge deal, as we usually had the INTENTION of starting our days early but could never seem to get out of bed. Traveling is tiring. Paris was near the end of our adventure, and we were pooped before we even got there. And after two straight days of Eiffel Towering, Notre Dame-ing and Arc de Triomphe-ing we were starting to drag our feet.

But Disney was worth it. It took us a whole hour by the RER train to get out to where the Disneyland Paris park is located. We arrived, had our bags searched and stepped out into the park not knowing exactly what to expect.

It was amazing. I am going to start by saying that yes, it was mostly similar to the park in California. A bit smaller, missing a few attractions - but for the most part, the parks are really alike (geographically speaking).

The similarities ended there though. The experience of walking around, having Goofy rap in French during "Mickey's Magical Party Time", hearing Buzz Lightyear first as Tim Allen and then with a deep scary French accent and riding Star Tours with the recorded stuff being the normal English lines but the robots all speaking in French was just hilarious. It wasn't so much that I was laughing about the French - no, what really got me was how much English was still integrated into the park, and how much it changed the experience. You really have to speak both languages to fully take in everything this park has to offer, and I definitely don't know a word of French.

The first ride we went on (aside from the general climb-around-on-things Wild West attraction in Frontierland) was the Haunted Mansion. I think it was actually called the Phantom House or something here - but we knew. We were apprehensive, I'm not going to lie. Starting the day on a classic ride like the Haunted Mansion was risky, but we wanted to really test what this park was made of. Much of the ride appeared to be the same, though the stretching pictures in the elevator were all different. We were surprised to find out that they had added a bunch of new rooms to the part in the DoomBuggies, which honestly made the ride even better! And scarier!

That was a good start to our EuroDisney experience. The first ride we went on was already superior to that of the same ride we know and love back home (I say "home" - haha. Eia's the one who lived in LA, not me. But I have been to Disney enough times to call the California park home I suppose).

We literally rode just about every ride the park had to offer, so I am having trouble remembering which ones we went on and in what order, but I will say that the one ride that disappointed us was the Indiana Jones ride. This is a favorite in LA, but here in Paris it was a completely different ride altogether. Instead of having a cool line area where you walk through caves and dare your friends to try out the "booby-traps", it was just a normal roped-off line to a basic outdoor roller coaster, the kind with overhead restraints that hurt the sides of your head as it knocks you around. Fail, Paris. Needless to say, we only rode it once.

The BEST ride in the park was Thunder Mountain Railroad. In California, the appeal of this one is just that it's a rickety old wooden roller coaster. In Paris it was AMAZING. It took you hurtling through pitch blackness - then brought you outside, looped you around and around, and then sent you flying through the dark again. Eia and I were stunned at how good it was. We made sure to ride this one twice.

Space Mountain. Was. Amazing. We honestly didn't think it would measure up, because the Space Mountain in California, after being remodeled for years, is the best ride in the park. But the Space Mountain (Misson: 2!) here in Paris was somehow even better. We rode it three times. Two of those times were back to back in a 30 minute period. I cannot even explain to you what a sci-fi nerd I feel like sometimes and being given the opportunity to zoom around in space doing loops through the stars and super novas pretty much sums up everything that is right in the world. Man, I love that ride.

The Buzz Lightyear ride is awesome too, even though the lasers are hard to aim. I got a high score though! I always tend to do quite poorly on that ride, but I must have unknowingly hit some awesome target or something.

When we weren't testing out rides, we spent a lot of the day wandering around and hitting up the little kid rides we always skip over in California (like Snow White, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan - all of which were actually kind of scary! Aside from Peter Pan; that ride is just sweet) and browsing through gift shops. We also checked out the rides that aren't actually rides but more just attractions you walk through (like Alice in Wonderland's Labyrinth and the Aladdin one). We also spent a portion of the day getting pictures with Disney characters; my favorite being the Genie, but also with Lilo and Mary Poppins and a bunch of others I can't remember because they're on Eia's camera. We wanted a picture with Woody, but the line was too long, and we also got completely snubbed by Chip and Dale. Rude chipmunks.

I think my favorite part of the day (well, one of them) was when we rode "It's a Small World". Usually I don't really give a crap about this ride, because the song gets stuck in your head something fierce and there are things like Splash Mountain you could be riding instead... but Eia and I really, really enjoyed it this time around. I actually felt a little emotional as our boat passed by all the places we'd been in the last few months. Eia took pictures of England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, and France to signify all the places we've stayed, and then we snapped a bunch of United States pictures because despite how much fun this last week has been, I think we're both a little homesick.

I realized how little I knew about other cultures before this trip, and was really impressed with myself at being able to point out different countries based on iconic landmarks and clothing and everything that I had no idea about before all of this traveling. I also realized how many more places I have yet to go to truly appreciate the whole of the ride. So there you go! Deep, touching moments at Disneyland for the WIN!

The day was fun, and tiring, and even though Eia and I probably SHOULD have spent the day perusing the Louvre, I remember saying to her at one point, "I'd choose Mickey Mouse over the Mona Lisa any day."

I really do appreciate history and art and knowledge, and have experienced my fair share of all of that in the last week here, but I also appreciate letting my inner child out and reliving all of my favorite stories with my best friend in a foreign country. We do not even remotely regret our day at Disneyland Paris. It was worth every penny.

The train ride home that night was long and tiring, and when we finally lugged ourselves up to the 6th floor of our hostel, ready to collapse… all we could talk about was what a magical day we'd both had.

I did this in 2009 in Marne-la-Vallée, France.