This year, the Mister and I celebrated Christmas Day in the happiest place on Earth. ...Ok, maybe it was like the second...or third happiest place on Earth: Disneyland Paris.
Those who know us already know that we LOVE the mouse. We spent our 5th wedding anniversary in DisneyWorld in Orlando and I fully intend to make that a regular tradition. So when our friend Lindsey suggested we spend Christmas break in Paris and go to Europe's version of Disney on Christmas Day, there was no way we could refuse (well, that offer combined with the super cheap airfare to Paris certainly helped to persuade us!).
Lindsey's friend Andrea, who lives in Switzerland, met up with us and we were able to introduce her to the Mouse for the first time! Thankfully she is an exceedingly patient person because the WHOLE day was filled with Lindsey, the Mister, and me saying, "You would NEVER see this in Disney!" (I'm not sure why we decided Disneyland Paris wasn't really Disney. But "Disney" became our shorthand for "DisneyWorld Park and Resort in Orlando")
|The fact that she, as a fully grown woman, bought light up Mickey ears proved that her conversation to the love of all things Mouse was complete.|
Don't get me wrong: We still had a REALLY great time! There is definitely still a heaping helping of Disney magic in Paris's park. But it's the little things that Disney does in Orlando that adds up to the total "Most magical place on Earth" package. Paris just didn't have those little things.
First of all there was lots of trash all around the park. Lots of the litter was probably due to the sanitation workers who were on strike...
... but the whole grounds just felt kinda worn out and dirty. There was mold growing on the canvas covering-made-to-look-like-a-ship's-sail that covered the line to Pirates of the Caribbean. And not intentional, painted-on mold like they would have at Disney! The paint was worn off of the handles on rides or parts of the statues. You would never see that at Disney. That's part of the magic! You miss the trashcan in Disney and before you can pick it up, a Cast Member is there already sweeping it up! Everything looks like it was newly constructed! There are no worn-off paint patches! They magically don't appear in the first place!
At one point we were standing in a walk-through version of Skull Island from Peter Pan (also not something you would see in Disney, but in a good way), and there was a candy apple that has been thrown at the wall and had stuck and had been left there! You would NEVER see that in Disney!
|You can't really see the candy apple, but it's there!|
Secondly, all the Cast Members were really grumpy and out of character! One of the magical parts of Disney is how everyone who works there is almost creepily happy! Or if they're grumpy and hate their jobs (Disney isn't exactly known
to always be the happiest place
on Earth to work), they don't show it. And they all seem to magically appear from somewhere. You don't see cast members clocking in for their shifts, or putting their purses under the hostess stand at the restaurant, but we saw both of those things in Disneyland Paris.
Even the characters during the (very short) Christmas parade seemed a little lackluster. Don't get me wrong, the Face Characters (the ones like Tinkerbell in the photo above) were in character the whole time and were great. But Mr. Incredible just kind of deadpanned his whole Segway ride down Main Street. He looked fake. The magic of Disney is that even though you know Mr. Incredible is just some college-age dude sweating his brains out under all that padding, he still looks like he just popped out of the movie screen and is RIDICULOUSLY happy to see you!
|Oh. Hey. You again.|
And thirdly, some of the rides seemed less than magically done! For example, in A Small World, the ceiling is just a straight up, warehouse-looking, drop ceiling!
You would NEVER see that in Disney! Maybe the old Small World looked that sloppy, but the new small world has a draped ceiling or it is so dark up there that you can't tell that you're just riding a water trail through a giant sound stage. THAT'S THE MAGIC OF DISNEY! In Paris's version of Pirates of the Caribbean (which hasn't been updated but was still really cool and a lot longer of a ride than the one in Orlando), they miss a huge opportunity for magic by not putting LED lights in the ceiling to make it look like a night sky. It is quite obviously a drop ceiling that is painted black. Where's the magic in that?!
Luckily there was just enough cool stuff that Disney doesn't have that made our two visits to Europe's land of the Mouse totally worth it and awesome.
|I haven't been to Orlando at Christmas time, so I can only imagine the decorations are even cooler than the really cool ones they had in Paris. |
|Their Main Street is a lot shorter, which made it less stimulating and stressful.|
The characters on Star Tours speak in French!
|Their version of Space Mountain was AWESOME and a LOT better than the one in Orlando.|
|They have a really cool Alice in Wonderland labyrinth to walk through. Our Alice loving friend Lindsey was in heaven! |
|I hate to admit it, but I liked Sleeping Beauty's castle a lot more than Cinderella's in Orlando. It seemed bigger and had more attention to detail (there was a window where you could see the flicker of a fire burning in the fireplace!). |
I know this post makes it sound like the opposite, but we really did have a great time spending Christmas with the Mouse. If you're in Paris and have a day (and a fair amount of money...it is Disney after all) to kill, I recommend you take the train ride out to Disneyland Paris and give it a whirl.
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