Long time no see everyone. Good to be back.
I visited Paris for ten days recently and of course had a day in Disneyland. Hadn't visited the place since I was 12, so I was eager to refresh what little remained of my memories and experience everything that had been added since I last was there. My 'home' resort is Walt Disney World, having visited annually for the past decade, despite Disneyland Paris being a three hour train journey away - go figure. So naturally, I spent my time there comparing both resorts; both the positives and the negatives.
First of all, while I was fully aware of this before visiting, I could not help but notice how overwhelmingly beautiful Disneyland Park is. What a true work of art. My partner, not really a big Disney fan, couldn't help but note over and over again the depth of the theming, in every land. Being a Magic Kingdom, FL citizen, I was extremely envious of the lavish and downright beautiful themeing of Fantasyland - the phrase "puts ours to shame" doesn't justify. I actually felt like I was in a fairytale - the castle is stunning beyond words, and despite the park only being two years younger then myself, I felt like I had stepped back centuries in time.
Discoveryland (had to stop myself calling it Tomorrowland so many times) was beautiful, if not a wee bit small? I don't know. Space Mountain was magnificent - how it can share the name with what can only be described as a fun fair wild mouse ride at the Magic Kingdom I do not know. Obviously we must take advancements in technology into account, but it serves as an enormous example of why WDW must immediately close Space Mountain down, completely rip out it's insides and start scratch, building a rollercoaster worthy of 2009. Heck, this Space Mountain is worthy of 2009 and it was built fifteen years ago (right?).
I was eagerly excited to try out Pirates and Phantom Manor, however to my complete surprise I found them quite inferior to their Floridian brothers. Obviously after it's recent revamp, the MK's Haunted Mansion shines above the rest but PM is in DIRE need of a refurb. Creaky, old, rusty - and not in a good way. Was far more comedic then chilling. Again, Pirates - needs a big old refurb. It felt like it was built in the sixties, not in the nineties. However, I cannot complain about the themeing - both show buildings were lavishly decorated on the outside.
Frontierland in general - masterpiece. Big Thunder must be the best out of all the parks, and that beautiful boat was glorious. The Liberty Belle just doesn't seem to match up. Adventureland seemed a bit emptier to me, however a bulk of it is taken up by the Isle which is more kids orientated.
Our tickets allowed us to park hop, and I was desperate to try Crush's Coaster. I didn't go in expecting much, I'd heard the rumours, but my god Walt Disney Studios needs to be shut down pronto. What an offence to the Disney park legacy. Soulless, void, vapid, cold, empty. It could not be further from it's sister across the esplanade. The Tower of Terror was a mere shadow of it's Floridian sister, the outside themeing of Rock n Roller was a joke, but Crush's Coaster was the glimmer in the dark. Fun, action packed, smooth, exciting, and even a little bit of dark ride! Well done Imagineers.
Cultural differences. Tricky area. I'm British, yet I felt far more affinity to my American cousins then my French ones while in the resort. I could not get used to the site of people walking around cigarette in hand - I just couldn't get my head around it. I couldn't imagine anything less Disney, until I had the pleasure of observing an actual fight (slaps, punches, and spitting included) in front of Fantillusion as a German family and a French family came to blows over whose little girl could be at the front. Actual slaps. We had to walk away when a man spat on a woman's feet. In DISNEY!? Wtf! I refused to let it blight my experience, but my word - my heart really went out to the children. To see their parents fighting - physical violence - over a PARADE at Disneyland. Shame.
My partner was treated to a birthday surprise in City Hall, and even had Mickey speak to him on the phone (in English!). That was a nice touch. I liked the layout of Main Street and Town Square, even if it really didn't feel like home, like it does when I step on to the bricks of Main Street Florida. As much as I appreciate the beauty, if a little gaudy, of the Disneyland Hotel, I feel it really does detract from the view of Main Street, especially when HALF (no exaggeration) of the bulbs are gone on the roof top. The fireworks were embarassing - a few minutes of pyro set to music from Enchanted, which was a shame as I'd really built my partner up to see the best fireworks he would ever see (as they are in Florida), but he was still mightily impressed. I do understand there are far tighter restrictions and laws on fireworks in Paris though.
Anything else to say? Hmm... Food. Overpriced, and really not to my taste. Again, I'm surprised at how more I feel American then European despite actually living in Europe. European food is not to my taste. Tomatoes stuffed with minced turkey? Sorry, not for me. But I expected the prices. I'm in a Disney park for christ's sake. Oh well, the hot dogs from Casey's were still good - as were the Ben and Jerry's waffle cones from Gibson Girl. THAT is something you won't find in Florida.
Overall, I loved my experience. We'll be returning for Christmas, and while parts found me pining for Florida, I was definitely pleased with the wealth of Imagineer love I have on my doorstep. Sort the Studios out, but Disneyland - you should be proud of yourself.