Disneyland Paris - A Photo Tour

by Donald and Bonnie Fink, contributing writer

Not long ago we had the pleasure of spending three full days at Disneyland Paris. We were on an extended vacation in Germany and had leased a car for the trip. When we turned the car back to the lease company in Frankfurt, there was extra time in our schedule before heading on to Barcelona. With that extra time, we took a train to Paris, stopping overnight in Brussels. Our plan was to stay at Disney's Newport Bay Club, one of the seven hotels in the Disney Village area.

One reason we took a train was to get the feel of what it's like to travel by train in Europe. But the other, more practical reason, is because there's a train station in Paris that appears to be dedicated to Disney. We exited the train station and after a brief stop at security, found ourselves in Disney Village within very close walking distance to the hotel. There were busses that would have taken us to the hotel, but we preferred to walk.

The Rumors

Let's get right to the rumors. These are subjects that we've seen on forums and social media when people are considering traveling to Europe in general and France in particular. Our stay in France was brief and somewhat isolated because we were mainly on Disney property, but we think we were able to see a good cross section of what to expect when traveling to these places. Of course, every person's experience will be different, and much of the time your perception is what you make it out to be.

We've heard that the cast members at Disneyland Paris are rude. Not true. They were polite and professional, and everyone we encountered spoke reasonably good English. What we found different was that the "Disney Magic" seemed to be lacking in some cases. What is the "Disney Magic?" When you watch cast members setting up for a parade, for example, you'll often see them dancing and singing along with the background music. They engage the crowd, getting them to sing and dance along. They're truly having fun and it's contagious. You can't make employees behave in this way. They just seem to enjoy what they're doing. We think of it as "Disney Magic." At Disneyland Paris, the cast members were polite and professional, but the magic was missing in a lot of cases. It seemed like they were doing a job. They were doing a very good job, but it was clear that the work culture at Disneyland Paris was different.

We've heard that the French don't queue well, that there's pushing and shoving as everyone gathers around to be first. We've heard that this happens mostly at busses, ride lines, and character meet and greets. We didn't ride a bus on this visit, so we can't speak to its truthfulness there. We did pay attention to ride queues and character meet and greets, and saw nothing that was different than any other Disney park.

We've heard that the French will refuse to speak English when dealing with tourists. Again, not true. As we mentioned above, everyone we encountered at Disney spoke reasonably good English, and they were willing to use their English skills. We didn't venture into Paris on this trip, but we did get to interact with folks in Brussels in the train station and around town. As another French speaking place, the people there who spoke English (which seemed like most of them) did not have a problem using their language skills. We felt comfortable and welcomed throughout the entire trip.

Any more rumors? Let us know in the comments and we'll be happy to give you our impressions.

Disney Hotels

We stayed at Disney's Newport Bay Club. It has over 1,000 rooms with a nautical theme, not completely unlike the Yacht club at Walt Disney World. Sort of. The hotel is located along Lac Disney, just on the outskirts of Disney Village. There are two other hotels situated along the shores of Lac Disney. They are Disney's Sequoia Lodge and Disney's Hotel New York. Disney's Sequoia Lodge is a rustic getaway while Disney's Hotel New York is a taste of the Big Apple, right there in Paris. There are two other Disney hotels in the area, Disney's Hotel Santa Fe sitting just behind Disney's Sequoia Lodge, and Disney's Hotel Cheyenne. Time didn't permit us to visit any of these hotels, so it would be unfair to render an opinion about them. There are links above. You can decide for yourself.

A view across Lac Disney includes Disney's New York Hotel and the tethered balloon ride, PanoraMagique. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

There is another Disney resort a bit away from Disney Village called Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch. It's a 15-minute car drive away, meaning that it is not served by busses or trains. Think Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground and you're probably getting the idea. We don't believe that camping spots are available, but the rustic cabin idea is what it's about. Remember that it snows here, so the idea of camping would certainly be seasonal, and probably not a good business decision for Disney. Plus, while camping is an activity here in Europe, it certainly isn't at the level that we pursue in the U.S.

Disney's Newport Bay Club

Disney's Newport Bay Club has several good restaurants, but we limited ourselves to just the breakfast buffet. It was in one of the restaurants downstairs and had all the features of any typical European breakfast buffet. There were no Mickey ear waffles, but there were Belgian waffles and some pretty good crepes.

Disney's Newport Bay Club seen through the trees on Lac Disney. Photo by Donald Fink.

Disney's Newport Bay Club was our home for four nights. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Our room had a balcony that overlooked Lac Disney. There was no furniture on the balcony, but it was good enough for brief visits outside to see the sights. Truthfully, it was a bit chilly outside for us Floridians anyway.

The layout of the hotel was a little weird, at least from our perspective in the way we were using it. We typically would go from our room to either Disney Village or the parks, which involved walking to the lobby and taking the stairs to the lower level by the lake. There were no elevators to the lower level that we could find. In fact, the only elevators in the entire 1,000 plus room hotel were two banks of four, both of which were near the lobby. The walk from our room along several corridors was over one-tenth of a mile to the nearest elevator, according to our pedometer.

It's possible that we simply weren't using the hotel in the way it was designed. After all, instead of walking to the parks, we could have walked out the front door and taken a bus to the parks or even Disney Village. It just seemed more advantageous to us to walk, as we usually do when possible at Walt Disney World.

Can we recommend Disney's Newport Bay Club? Sure, we'd stay there again. Of course, next time we visit Disneyland Paris—and we will most likely go there again—we'll stay at some place different, just to be different.

Disney Village

If you don't try to compare Disney Village in Paris to Disney Springs in Orlando, or Downtown Disney in Anaheim, you will not be disappointed. In Disney Village at Disneyland Paris, you'll find a good Disney store along with several smaller places to gather your last-minute Disney items. You'll also find several places that looked like pretty good dinner spots. Of course, one of the things we did notice in Disneyland was that there appeared to be a very large selection of restaurants, so food seems to be big on the "menu."

Earl of Sandwich is located next to Rainforest Cafe in Disney Village. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Our usual haunts at Disney Village were of the fast food variety. Thankfully for us, we found an Earl of Sandwich. Since this is our go-to fast food restaurant in Disney Springs, it was a welcome sight. Keep in mind that we are coming off a six-week tour of Germany. If you don't happen to like schnitzel, your food choices can be a bit limited in that country. Something familiar like Earl of Sandwich was quite welcomed for us. There was also a Five Guys Burger, a McDonald's, and a Starbucks. Starbucks was too busy. They need another in one of the parks, or an expanded version of this one in Disney Village.

We understand that Disney has just recently taken back management of the Disneyland Paris operation, and that should be a good thing for Disney Village. While Disneyland was in pristine shape just like you'd expect of a Disney park, Disney Village had a bit of a shabby look to many of the buildings, most notably the Rainforest Cafe building. Disneyland Paris is in a colder climate than either of the Disney parks in the United States, and it looks like it. The concrete is cracked in spots that look like fractures from freezing water, and the paint on some of the buildings seems to be past due for a refresh.

Main Street U.S.A.

It seems almost like a contradiction, but it's not clear what the contradiction is. The main street in Disneyland Paris is called "Main Street U.S.A.," and there are United States flags all over the place. The music playing is ragtime just as you would expect, but the song lyrics are a combination of English and French, just enough to let you know that you're not in Kansas anymore. Instead of a street paved in asphalt, there are bricks, suggesting that you're really in a European town, but the buildings are of the 19th Century architecture found in America. There are even the business names on the second story windows, no doubt honoring key people who helped in the establishment of Disneyland Paris.

Some of the buildings on Main Street U.S.A. in Paris are the same as at Walt Disney World, and some are different. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Notice how the architecture on a quiet section in Paris is similar to that of Main Street U.S.A. in Florida and Anaheim, but the colors are unique. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

New Century Notions is not a store we have at Walt Disney World, but it appears to be a general Disney merchandise outlet. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Liberty Court—seen here behind the parked truck—is a covered walkway behind the merchandise outlets along Main Street U.S.A. This was called an "Arcade" and provided a covered walkway parallel to Main Street U.S.A. There was also access to the Main Street stores from behind them. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

In front of the train station, there's a gazebo instead of a flag pole. The scene otherwise is certainly recognized as a Disney Park, but the colors are completely different, in much the same way as if Main Street U.S.A. had received a major face lift. Of course, if the color scheme along Main Street U.S.A. in Paris represented a different version of a Disney paint scheme, it would be difficult to know if it was a new improved version or an older offering. We found that neither of the color schemes (Florida or Paris) were more pleasing than another, just different.

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Yes, it's called Sleeping Beauty Castle here in Paris just as it is in Disneyland in Anaheim, but it's very different. There is a stage located off to the side. The castle is built on a small hill with waterfalls and a small river, and under the castle is something very special: the dragon.

Sleeping Beauty Castle is where you expect, at the end of Main Street. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

If you go under the castle at Disneyland Paris you'll find a dragon. Photo by Donald Fink.


Frontierland is huge compared to Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom. In the Magic Kingdom, the Halloween decorations are usually displayed along Main Street U. S. A. Here, they were in Frontierland. Of course, they were mixed with a huge display of characters from Coco, a new Disney/Pixar animated film. While they made great Halloween decorations, we understand they were really there for the movie.

The Halloween decorations at Disneyland Paris are in Frontierland, including this friendly ghost in a wagon. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

A photo op with a ghost couple. Photo by Donald Fink.

Characters from "Coco" decorate an arch in Frontierland. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Paris is called Phantom Manor. Bonnie prefers the Disneyland Paris version over the Magic Kingdom version. She thinks Phantom Manor has better skeletons, and is scarier in general. Don thinks it was pretty close to the same. Guess we'll have to go back to evaluate this more. We both thought the queue was a bit better and more organized than it is in the Magic Kingdom. Many of the same displays are there, but in somewhat different orders.

The Disneyland Paris version of the Haunted Mansion is a spooky looking Phantom Manor on a hill in Frontierland. Photo by Donald Fink.

A brightly dressed character from the movie "Coco" decorates Frontierland. Photo by Donald Fink.

Colorful characters from the movie "Coco" are found throughout Frontierland. Photo by Bonnie Fink.


Isle of Adventure is an area you can explore much like Tom Sawyer Island at Walt Disney World. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The two big rides in Adventureland are Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, or as they say in France, "Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril." This ride is the first ride we've encountered in any Magic Kingdom-like park that actually goes upside down. By upside down, we mean that the ride does a quick, almost imperceptible inside loop. The premise of this ride is that you're taken via a mining car through ancient temple ruins. At one point, the mining car does a quick inside loop. Don was recording with the GoPro during the loop, but it was so quick that he missed it. For big ride junkies, this might be a bit underwhelming. For folks looking to step out into more adventurous rides, and for younger people, this might be just about right.

Temple Du Peril is a roller coaster that goes upside down. Photo by Donald Fink.

The other ride in Adventureland that we were interested in seeing was Pirates of the Caribbean. In the Paris version, the "redhead" has a different role. Instead of being a wench who is auctioned off by the pirates, she's supposed to be a pirate herself. We were thinking that it would depict her in a bit of a leadership role, but sadly, all it showed was the redhead standing there while other wenches were being auctioned off. She had a dagger, or small sword, but took no part in the story, other than to stand there, not being auctioned off. There was dialog at the part where the drunken pirates usually say, "We wants the Redhead," in our American version, but since it was in French, we have no idea what these new and improved French pirates were saying.

There's an island in Adventureland that seems to take its cue from Tom Sawyer Island at the Magic Kingdom, but it's called Adventure Isle. The area is a play area for younger buckaneers called Pirates Beach. There are actually two play areas, one for ages 3 to 6 and another for ages 7 to 9.


Many of the same activities found in our U.S. Magic Kingdom are also found at Disneyland Paris. We were especially impressed with "it's a small world." The Disneyland Paris version seemed to be lighter, brighter, and just happier in general. From a pure technical perspective, we were able to capture good quality video with our GoPro in the Paris version because of the better lighting.

At the Magic Kingdom, our GoPro videos are dismal and grainy. We have to use our Nikons to get a good capture. It's as if the Disneyland Paris version, while basically the same, is newer and better somehow. The German inspired clock that's displayed inside the ride and visible from the queue at the Magic Kingdom in Florida is actually on the outside at Disneyland Paris. It's visible from various places in Fantasyland.

The brightly-painted facade of "it's a small world" in Fantasyland features a clock. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

A jaguar poses inside "it's a small world." Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Les Voyages De Pinocchio is a dark ride that follows Pinocchio's adventures to become a real boy. Photo by Donald Fink.

Alice's Curious Labyrinth provides a fun family experience as you find your way through the hedge maze. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Casey Jr. Train and Storybook Land Canal Boats, or Le Pays des Contes de Fees, are found in Fantasyland. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Maleficent greets guests in Fantasyland. Photo by Donald Fink.


Discoveryland is close to what we would call Tomorrowland in Florida. Star Tours is in Discoveryland, and so is Space Mountain, except it's called Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain. There's the usual Autopia but the cars look to be a bit updated. There's no People Mover and no Carousel of Progress (two of our favorite napping spots at the Magic Kingdom). There's a Nautilus submarine from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but this one is a static display. We remember the Nautilus-style submarines at the Magic Kingdom that moved around on a track, and which closed in 1994.

You can walk through the Nautilus from "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" in Discoveryland. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

In Videopolis there's a quick service restaurant. There's also a stage that was featuring young performers from the local area on the day we were there in much the same way they do at Disney Springs on the Marketplace Stage.

Videopolis is a quick service restaurant with a decidedly steam punk design. Inside is a stage for local performers. Photo by Donald Fink.

The entrance to Hyperspace Mountain is in Discoveryland. Photo by Bonnie Fink.


Some of our favorite characters dance in Disney Stars on Parade. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

"Toy Story" characters lead the "Toy Story" float in Disney Stars on Parade. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather plus Sleeping Beauty are found in Disney Stars on Parade. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Mickey and Minnie wave to guests during Mickey's Halloween Tricycle Gang parade. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Duffy has recently left Epcot, but he's alive and well, and quite popular at Disneyland Paris. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Doctor Facilier, from "The Princess and the Frog," is in Mickey's Halloween Tricycle Gang parade. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Walt Disney Studios

The second theme park at Disneyland Paris is called Walt Disney Studios. We spent one day here, and our take on it was not as positive as we hoped. First, we went into the park thinking it was a copy of Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida, which was probably a mistake on our part. We felt that the park lacked a certain focus. As a park goes, we also felt that it was not a full day park as Disneyland is.

Notice the water tower in the background with the ears at the entrance to Walt Disney Studios. We lost our water tower at Disney's Hollywood Studios to make way for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Progress is painful. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

There were some notable items that are worth mentioning:

Toy Story Land is up and running at Walt Disney Studios. It's a relatively small land devoted to the younger people in your crowd, but it looked like it was fun for them. The theming was certainly heavy on Woody and Buzz Lightyear, who sounds kinda weird to us, speaking French in his Buzz Lightyear voice. The rides were themed to entertain small kids, and it seemed appropriate for what it was trying to do. If this is any indication of how Toy Story Land is going to be in Florida when it gets finished in 2018, it's sure to be very popular with the younger folks.

Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin in Walt Disney Studios. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Toy Story Parachute Drop in Toy Story Playland. We saw a recent model of Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios and didn't notice this particular ride in the layout. We'll see what happens when everything shakes out. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Cars Race Rally is a bumper-car ride in Toy Story Playland at Disney Studios. In this case, the cars don't actually bump into each other since they're on tracks. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The Studio Tram Tour including Catastrophe Canyon is still showing at Walt Disney Studios. Surprisingly, the narrative on this tour was in English. You may recall that this ride was called the Back Lot Tour when it was at Hollywood Studios. Photo by Donald Fink.

Inside Bistrot Chez Rémy next to the Ratatouille ride. This was a fun ride and should make a fun addition to France at Epcot. Photo by Donald Fink.

Crush's Coaster is an indoor spinning roller coaster ride. Photo by Donald Fink.

Armageddon les effets speciaux is an indoor special effects stage show at Disney Studios. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular is still showing at Walt Disney Studios. The Walt Disney World version of this show was recently dismantled to make room for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Here's a video that we hope represents some of what we saw during our brief visit to Disneyland Paris. As you might imagine, it's nearly impossible to capture a complete story of any Disney park in the brief time we had, but it should be clear that this park is a destination. Videography and photography by Donald and Bonnie Fink.

Our Next Visit

We'll visit Disneyland Paris again at some point in the future. We were fascinated by the differences we found, and delighted with some of the things that were the same. Next time, we'll pick a different Disney hotel and schedule some more time. Being Disney Fans first and foremost, we think an ideal visit to Paris would be to base ourselves in a Disney hotel at Disney Village and divide our time between visiting the parks and venturing into Paris for a look at the city. There are several tour operators that conduct tours into Paris, including Disney. We think an ideal plan would be to take a tour into Paris, then return for a second day (or more) to look over the things that interest us, dividing our time between that and the parks.



  1. By indyjones

    We've been to Disneyland Paris 4 or 5 times now and found some things quite different than you report. Taking the buses from the hotels was often madness as twice as many people then SHOULD fit into a bus will pile in and there is nothing done to stop this. You WILL be smashed in between people and it's something you just have to get used to in many parts of Europe. We have some of the best line-jumping stories ever from Disneyland Paris. The English are excellent at queuing, the French are not. We had families lifting their children over the railings in the middle of FULL switchbacks, and then climbing through or over themselves. When it happened right in front of us we would do our best to make sure the offending families all got separated with our group between them. It was honestly maddening and at one point I finally just yelled NO and held out my arms so they could not come over the railing. They reacted as if no one had ever prevented this before and were quite taken aback. At least they stopped doing it. Granted, this was not "rampant" around the resort and for the most part the queues where fine, but we had never seen anything like this at any other Disney park.
    I believe the "bumper-car style" ride you mention is actually in Toon Studio, not Toy Story Playland, and it is not in any way a bumper car ride. It's essentially like the LadyBug Boogie in DCA. Think the Tea Cups but they go in a figure 8. Phantom Manor there is also significantly different. I find it a bit hard to believe you or someone in your party thought it was mostly the same. Perhas I misread your report. Sure you walk into the house and there is an "elevator" sequence and then the ride sequence. The ride does go through a house and then outside. So in that sense they are similar. But the theme is much darker, the scenes much creepier. There is a evident story that goes on rather than just travelling through a series of haunted things. And the finale UNDER the graveyard is decidedly more frightening and completely unique. It is my favorite of all the Haunted Mansions, as I believe you indicated was true of at least one person in your party.
    I'm surprised you didn't mention Big Thunder Mountain, which in Paris is also my favorite of the versions (with Tokyo's a very close 2nd). And Pirates there is also quite different, with many unique scenes and a different sequence that does try (and does manage) to provide more of a story to the ride.
    Well that's my two sense from 4 or 5 visits.

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