Dennis Greenblatt -- October 1999 -- Disneyland Paris (Offsite)
I went back for a vacation in Paris and did another day trip to DLP. Some notes below in response to a question on the newsgroup. This person had never been to Paris and was only going for DLP. I sent her my thoughts.
I vacationed in Paris two years in a row. Each time I did a day trip to DLP on the RER. I loved it but I don't know if I would fly from New York to Paris with the focus on DLP. Since I have stayed in the city for two weeks (and flew to NICE for two nights) I wouldn't feel bad about flying just for DLP after the Paris Studios opens.
Expectations: MK has had several years of development compared to DLP. Therefore it does not have the amount of attractions as MK. Paris, of course, does not have the Florida weather and the DLP hotels are not US standards but rather European standards. If you have travel in Europe, you know what to expect. Americans going to DLP are disappointed with the lack of "Disney Quality" they expect from WDW. If you go with this understanding, it will help. Please note, two of the hotels do not have air-conditioning or pool. As an American traveling to DLP, I don't think you will be happy unless you stay at New York Hotel or the Disneyland Paris Hotel. Mealtimes are handled differently. You have to "book" a time for breakfast I have heard.
Many people say the Europeans do not have the same Customer Service that WDW has. I did not stay at the hotels, so I don't know.
Things I was most impressed with: As a WDW veteran, I feel in love with this place! You realize this was the most recent Magic Kingdom built and... Oh my!... they REALLY got it right! This place is so well designed and constructed. It is about 30 acres bigger than WDW's MK. The attention to construction and detail are wonderful. For example, real gas lights on Main Street, real brick pavers on Main Street (WDW's MK is blacktop), gold plating on the castle, beautiful iron work in the railings, and it goes on.
One of the things that most struck me has how the lands at DLP really allowed you to explore and surround you. At WDW's MK, you are in and out of some lands before you get comfortable being in them! At WDW, so many lands seem to get in the way. This place is HUGE!!
The spaces at DLP are more interactive. You really get involved in the structures/attractions rather than just looking at them. Interactivity and exploration really comes forth here. For example, the castle at WDW's MK is more scenery. At DLP, this structure has many paths that interact with the space. You can wander around wrapping paths that follow the base of the castle, wander into a cave that houses a dragon below the castle, go up inside the castle to in indoor wrap around "story telling" floor that leads you to an OUTSIDE balcony overlooking Fantasyland!! (How cool is THAT!) Another example is Phantom Manor at DLP. At WDW's MK, the Haunted house is propped up on a hill as scenery as you enter into the attraction in this no descript tunnel thing... At DLP, you enter the GROUNDS of the estate through a front gate and walk though the "garden" (think Tower of Terror at Disney Studios) and onto the PORCH into the very FRONT DOOR!!! (couldn't ya just DIE!) Another example is Adventure Land. This place is also very multi-level. Pirates has a GREAT facade. You really see the Fort and the damage it took from battle. At WDW's MK, you have to look through the trees to see the Fort with the cannons. I only saw it one visit by accident when the sound/smoke effects were working. I walk around to see what it was!
There is also a soundtrack to all of DLP that is absent (or poorly done) at WDW. It is most amazing who when you wander from one land in DLP to another, how the soundtrack from one land fades out and the new on fades in! VERY COOL!
The quality of construction is great. Adventureland has a very EPCOT and Animal Kingdom feel to it. There were parts of Adventureland I remembered thinking, "wow, this could be Africa in Animal Kingdom"
LAME Stuff: DLP is not great a parades (IMHO) don't expect much. They close restaurants early to get you out of the park and into Downtown Disney... eat early!!!!
MISC. Stuff: The popcorn they sell is not salted. It is sugar. I love it! It is sort of like Caramel popcorn without the caramel. The attractions seem to be more dimensional, better thought out and executed.
I would have liked to have two full days here. I don't know if I would want to stay 5 days here. Please remember, fights to Europe happen overnight. You arrive 2am or so YOUR time, and it is 8am PARIS time! There is a six hour difference. The day you get there, all you can do is check-in, walk around the block, eat, and GET TO SLEEP to catch up with the time. In other words, your first day is shot! It takes a while to acclimate to the time.