Thursday, June 25, 2009

Disneyland Paris: Fantasyland

Here's another peek at Disneyland Paris for Disney theme park fans, focusing today on Disneyland Park's Fantasyland.

First, a couple of general comments about Disneyland Paris: We expected to enjoy Disneyland Park, but we weren't prepared to be completely, totally impressed...and we were.

Disneyland Park is simultaneously huge and richly detailed, with attention to the smallest details and fascinating "nooks and crannies" to explore around every corner. La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant is but one example, as described in my post Disneyland Paris: The. Best. Castle. Ever. The entire park was filled with sights which provided "wow" moments.

There were definitely a few negatives:

1) As I have alluded to in other posts, the food was uninspired, repetitive (cold cuts and salads, anyone?), and overpriced. Given France's reputation for fine cuisine, we were expecting to find wonderful Disney World style restaurants, but the food was mostly blah. And when did Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream take over Western Europe, anyway?

2) Bathrooms were often poorly maintained and not what guests of the Anaheim and Florida parks have come to expect.

3) Attraction maintenance was not always at Disney standards. The close-up photo of the Teacups below, for example, shows that both the saucers and the ride floor itself need cleaning and painting. Trash on rooftops was visible from lines for the Main Street train station and Big Thunder Mountain.

4) Some rides are down in the off season, such as the Casey Jr. and Storybook Land Canal boats. I don't know if the park has more than one train, but there was only one running and we didn't have time for an hour-long wait for a ride around the park -- and we tried two different stations.

5) The park is working to reduce smoking, but Europeans still like their cigarettes and they were frequently in evidence outside the designated "smoking" areas.

Despite these flaws, I think overall we found Disneyland Park of Paris more impressive than Florida's Magic Kingdom, which we also love. We expected our visit to Disneyland Paris to be a one-time-only shot, but we left hoping that we'll have the opportunity to return one day, as it was too special to visit only once.

And now, on to Fantasyland!

Disneyland of Anaheim has King Arthur's Carrousel, so it's fun to note that Disneyland Paris has Le Carrousel de Lancelot:

At Disney World's Magic Kingdom, incidentally, it's Cinderella's Golden Carrousel. There's a lovely statue of Cinderella right next to the Carrousel in Paris:

Here's the accompanying sign next to La Fontaine de Cendrillon:

Here's a touch I loved, the presence of The Old Mill in the park. (It's a restaurant, but even so!)

And here's Les Voyages de Pinocchio. The original Pinocchio ride is in Anaheim; this is a ride which wasn't duplicated in Florida.

Paris has Mad Hatter's Teacups -- note that, like Florida, the ride has a cover protecting it from the elements. The Anaheim version doesn't have a "roof," as seen here.

Here's a closeup of the Teacups:

The It's a Small World Entrance:

The ride entrance is a compromise between the Anaheim and Florida versions, combining Anaheim's exterior facade with covers protecting both the line and the boats from rain and sun:

Those who have been to Orlando may remember that the ride's facade and boat line are both completely indoors at the Magic Kingdom, as can be seen in a photo here.

A fountain at It's a Small World, viewed from a boat:

We loved the London part of the ride:

Another Small World photo:

The Florida and Paris editions of "Small World" have much more elaborate "Grand Finale" rooms than the Anaheim original:

A sign for Casey Jr. and Le Pays des Contes de Fees (Storybook Land Canal):

These rides, which are Disneyland originals not duplicated in Florida, were sadly closed during our visit.

Only Anaheim has an Alice in Wonderland ride, but Paris also has a wonderful original Alice attraction, Alice's Curious Labyrinth:

We must have spent half an hour wandering through the labyrinth, exploring the paths and the castle found along one of the many pathways.

A sign inside the Labyrinth:

Other Fantasyland attractions in Paris include Peter Pan's Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow White).

Previously: Eurostar to Disneyland Paris: The Only Way to Travel!; Disneyland Paris: Walt Disney Studios Park; Disneyland Paris Resort: Sequoia Lodge; Disneyland Paris: The. Best. Castle. Ever; Disneyland Paris: The Resorts; Disneyland Paris: The Molly Brown.

Coming soon: More on Disneyland Paris; books on Disneyland Paris.


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