On April 12, 2022, Disneyland Paris officially turned 30 years old. It seems like just yesterday I heard them talking about opening a Disney Park in Europe.
While Disneyland Paris may have been open for thirty years, the idea of a Disney Park in Europe first started way back in 1966. Approximately 1200 locations in Europe were presented as a location for the Europe Park. It was then narrowed down to a couple of locations in Spain and France. Ultimately the small town of Marne-la-Vallee just east of the city of Paris.
Construction began on the park in August of 1988 and on April 12, 1992, the park, then named Euro Disney opened to the public. The park had its fair share of problems in the beginning. Attendance was lower than they thought it would be, hotels vacancy was higher than estimated and they struggled to make a profit the first few years.
I’m not saying the Euro Disney name wasn’t the right name for the park, I thought it just didn’t have the best ring to it, but after a name change in late 1994 to Disneyland Paris and the opening of Space Mountain in 1995, the park reported its first quarterly profit. On March 16, 2002, a second park was opened at Disneyland Paris. Walt Disney Studios Park is similar to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.
While the attendance is nowhere near the attendance at the theme parks in Florida and California, it’s a popular vacation spot and for those of us visiting from the US, it’s nice to visit and not have the crazy crowds that I normally see in Florida.
While there are many similarities between the US Disney Parks and Disneyland Paris, there are so many unique aspects to Disneyland Paris. First off, the castle, like Disneyland in California, Disneyland Paris has Sleeping Beauty’s Castle or Le Chateau De La Belle au Bois Dormant. But it’s much larger than the castle in California, they have made it look like it’s up on a hill. It’s the most beautiful castle I’ve seen in person at a Disney Park.
The castle features a waterfall and even a dragon lair! You can also walk into the castle and see the stained-glass windows. They really outdid themselves with this castle, it blows the castles at the US parks out of the water.
Some of the classic rides at Disneyland Paris are just better than the originals in California and Florida. Big Thunder Mountain is amazing, it starts by going thru a tunnel under the water over to an island and it’s a much faster ride than in the US parks.
For someone who loves pirates, I was so impressed with the area around Pirates of the Caribbean. Not only is there the ride, but there is a pirate ship and pirate themed area to explore. It’s a great spot to enjoy especially for kids.
One of the things I really love about the Disney Parks is how the exterior of the Haunted Mansion is different in each park. In Disneyland Paris, it’s called Phantom Manor and it reminds me of something straight out of a horror movie.
Over at Fantasyland, they have Alice’s Curious Labyrinth which is a walk thru attraction that will take you down the rabbit hole into the world of Wonderland. It’s fun to walk thru and check out all the Alice and Wonderland statues.
Over at Walt Disney Studios, they have some different rides including Crush’s Coaster. This fun coaster is unique to Disneyland Paris and I’m surprised they haven’t brought it to Walt Disney World yet, it would fit in great at Epcot as part of the Living Seas.
Some of the areas and rides in Walt Disney Studios have moved on to the US parks, there was a small Toy Story area in this park and now at Hollywood Studios in Florida, they have Toy Story Land.
When I heard that they were bringing the Ratatouille ride to Epcot, I was so excited as I had already experienced it at Walt Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris. This 4D ride finally just opened in Epcot in 2021.
When Disneyland Paris opened in 1992, many of the same hotels that are there today opened as well. There are six hotels all based on different regions of the United States. The following hotels are located on property:
- Disneyland Hotel – This American-Victorian hotel is located at the entrance of the park overlooking Main Street USA. It’s based on such Victorian-American Hotels in the US like Hotel del Coronado in California.
- Disney’s Newport Bay Club – Based on New England architecture, it’s very similar to Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts in Orlando.
- Disney’s Hotel New York – Based on the largest city in the US, New York City, this hotel was recently rethemed as the Art of Marvel just recently in 2021.
- Disney’s Sequoia Lodge – This hotel will remind you of the American National Parks Lodges, specifically the Old Faithful Inn located in America’s first National Park, Yellowstone.
- Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne – You will feel like you have ventured back in time to the American Wild West.
- Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe – This hotel will make you feel like you are in such popular spots in the Southwestern US like New Mexico. Featured in the hotel is the famous Disney movie Cars.
If you have a chance to visit Disneyland Paris, during the next year while they are celebrating the 30th Anniversary, I highly recommend it. I was lucky enough to visit for the 20th and 25th anniversaries and really wish I could make it there for the 30th.
They even had statues for the 25th Anniversary that I now look back at it and it’s very similar to the gold statues they have at Walt Disney World in Orlando this year for the 50th Anniversary.
Disneyland Paris makes a great addition to any trip to Paris. Just a 45-minute train ride from the city center of Paris will take you right to the gates of Disneyland Paris. What a great trip, visiting the beautiful city of Paris and getting to enjoy the Disney magic while you are there.
Happy 30th Anniversary Disneyland Paris!