Forget the Eiffel Tower
, the Champs-Élysées, the Louvre
, and all those wonderful and glorious carbs (we’re talking about you baguettes, croissants, and multi-hued macarons
); if you’re a fan of the house of mouse, the place to be in France is Disneyland Paris
. Located an hour outside of the City of Light, the European outpost of the happiest place on Earth is a little slice of Americana, Disney style. While there are many similarities (big castle, classic rides, and a bustling Main Street), there are also oodles of differences. In celebration of their grand 25th anniversary, here are 25 things that really set Disneyland Paris apart.
You enter the Magic Kingdom via the oh-so-grand Disneyland Hotel. Each park has its own epic entryway, but at Disneyland Paris, you can actually sleep in it. The Victorian-inspired hotel has about 500 rooms and is sprinkled with opulence (at a price, of course... rooms cost about $1,000 a night). There are six other, less expensive hotels to choose from, but regardless of where you're staying, make sure to stop into the Fantasia-inspired bar on the 2nd floor of the hotel.
Main Street is familiar but different. If you've done time on Main Street in the states, then you'll feel oddly at home in the Paris edition. While the basic format and style are the same, there are big differences such as signage, shops, and our fave touch, little Tinker Bells posed on top of all the street lights.
One of the hidden treasures on Main Street is the old school barber shop, Dapper Dan's Hair Cuts. Disney World is home to the Harmony Barbershop, but this Parisian version is more for a traditional shave (using straight razors) and mustache trimming than for a kid's first haircut. Many a bonus points for the pure authenticity of the place.
The French parade is off the hook. See all those people lined up on Main Street? They're on a mission, to witness the over-the-top magic that is Disney Stars on Parade. But this parade goes beyond Mickey and Minnie; Peter Pan's Smee, the cards from Alice in Wonderland, and a HUGE fire-breathing dragon steal the show.
Eat all the French treats. The lack of eared treats was a bit shocking, but we did thoroughly enjoy this star-shaped donut. There are also tons of candy apples, crepes, baked goods, and European candy bars.
Their Sleeping Beauty Castle is amazing. While we love our USA-born castles at Disneyland and Disney World, the epic hillside castle at the end of Main Street in Disneyland Paris is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Inspired by Disney artist Eyvind Earle (who created the look for Sleeping Beauty), this castle isn't just pretty on the outside but has even more epic-ness inside.
The castle is just as pretty on the inside. Take a stroll upstairs in Sleeping Beauty Castle for the La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant experience. Upon entrance, you'll be delighted by a telling of the tale via beautifully woven tapestries, illustrated books, and church-worthy stained glass windows. It's so beautifully dreamy, you'll feel like you'll turn a corner and find a napping Aurora.
There's a DRAGON. Yes, a dragon. In the dungeon, AKA La Tanière du Dragon, there lives a large sleeping beast. Stick around long enough and he'll wake up, eerily bellowing from his basement prison. But don't fret, they've got him chained up.
There are artisans at work in the castle. Along with the Minnie Mouse ears, a huge selection of Christmas ornaments (available all year long), and, of course, pins meant for trading, you'll find handmade masterpieces. In a quaint store in the castle, a woman creates stunning glass wands suitable for any type of spell.
Adventureland looks way different. While Disneyland's Adventureland has more of a tropical feel, the land in Paris is totally channeling a Middle Eastern exotic vibe. As you go deeper into the land, an African area and a Caribbean theme emerge. This is where you'll find attractions such as the Pirates of the Caribbean, Swiss Family Treehouse, and Adventure Isle.
There's a totally Insta worthy pirate ship. The huge vessel is at the heart of the epic Adventure Isle, an ideal place for daring explorers.
Adventure Isle has many a meandering cave. Throughout the area, you'll find a myriad of dark, mysterious, and eerie caves full of stalactites and surprises. You can also go inside a totally realistic rendering of Skull Rock from Peter Pan.
Big Thunder Mountain is on an island! And it is SO GOOD. The train takes a tunnel under water to reach top speed in the grand Frontierland styled environment. If possible, don't go on this one just once (it's worth going two, three, or even more times).
Their mansion is a manor. Disneyland and Disney World have The Haunted Mansion, but the French have The Phantom Manor. There may be doom buggies, stretching portraits, and a very familiar ride structure, but the story, the characters, and the level of creepy depart from the original.
Space Mountain is WAY scarier. The shape and the darkness of the ride might be the same, but that's where the comparisons end. The design of the French Space Mountain (which is currently billed as Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain) was inspired by Jules Verne and has a steam punk vibe. Oh and it's the fastest Space Mountain, and the ride goes UPSIDE DOWN.
For a calmer experience, get lost in Alice's Curious Labyrinth. Located in Fantasyland is a sprawling hedge maze where the goal is to reach the Queen of Hearts's Castle. There you can get a bird's eye view of the area (and plan your next ride).
If you want to embrace even more calm, head to their take on It's a Small World. The iconic attraction includes the Mary Blair dolls we all know and love but in a variety of different scenes and scenarios. Included is a pretty expansive America section.
Speaking of America, for being in France, there's a whole lot of tributes to the good old US of A.
One that makes total sense are the odes to Lady Liberty, a gift to America from the people of France way back in the 1886. Plus this floor gives a perfect #Ihaveathingwithfloors
It's not just one park; there's also Walt Disney Studios Park. Think of it as the French equivalent to Disney California Adventure but sprinkled with a bit more "Hollywood."
If you love Pixar, you'll adore the Toon Studio. Toy Story, Ratatouille, and Finding Nemo all have a strong presence here.
SO MANY DETAILS. Along with rides like Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin, and RC Racer, there are stunning attentions to detail. This train track bench and K'nex fence are total garden goals.
Get shrunk down to the size of a rat. Make sure to grab a fast pass for Ratatouille: The Adventure, an epic 3D ride that's great for any age. If you can't get to Paris anytime soon, don't worry; it'll be added to the French pavilion at Walt Disney World.
Then eat in a Ratatouille-worthy restaurant. Bistrot Chez Rémy is a whimsical and wonderful dining experience. Everything is scaled in a huge dimension, from the jar top table tops to the dining plate booth dividers.
The chairs are SO GOOD. Srsly, have you ever seen a cuter chair? Plus they serve Disneyland Champagne at Remy's, so you'll totally need to order some bubbly to accompany your meal.
Mickey speaks French! The production Mickey and the Magician gives you a chance to see Mickey in action, and he speaks only in French! If that isn't a good reason to fly all the way to Disneyland Paris, we don't know what is.
Do you dream of visiting Disneyland Paris? Tell us what you’d most like to see @BritandCo!
(Photos via Sunny Chanel)