Disneyland Paris: the happiest place in northern Europe

While in France, we spent an afternoon in Disneyland Paris.

In a word: it’s lovely. The castle in the middle of the park is a sweet delicate French castle with slender turrets, Sleeping Beauty’s castle, “le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant”:


We were there in early October, and the park was decorated for Halloween. Europeans don’t quite understand the American concept of Halloween yet; they understand ghosts and pumpkins and such, but aren’t quite what they have to do with anything. Disneyland Paris was calling it “Helloween,” which would be a little spicy for an American Disneyland. But there were pumpkins everywhere!

Disneyland Paris has the Haunted Mansion, and the Tower of Terror, and the Thunder Mountain Railroad. The lines (in October, anyway) were very short; we never had more than a five-minute wait for any ride. We were surrounded with mostly Spanish and German tourists, and a few Brits; not many French, really. (A colleague of mine, who actually studied the business model of EuroDisney, told me that the Disney folk at first expected the local French population to flock there, and were sorely disappointed to find out that this wasn’t the case. Now they market to the rest of Europe, and they’re doing just fine.)

Disneyland Paris is small, compared to Orlando. One advantage to being smaller, by the way, is that kids don’t get as tired, and parents don’t get as worn out. Is there a lesson here for American theme parks? Too late. They’re already too big.

There are Disneylands everywhere now. Japan and China have their own versions. And Orlando keeps evolving: there’s a New Fantasyland now, with a Beast’s Castle / restaurant, and a Little Mermaid ride, and (forthcoming) a Seven Dwarves ride.

And there’s that little old park in Anaheim too, I suppose.

Whatever it’s called.

I forget.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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