Opened in 1992 as EuroDisneyland, Disneyland Paris occupies 140 acres, making it the largest of the five "Magic Kingdom" parks around the world. (For comparison, Tokyo Disneyland is 115 acres, Florida's Magic Kingdom 107, and the original Disneyland 85 acres. Hong Kong Disneyland is the smallest, expanding to just 68 acres by next year.)
Disneyland Paris is easy to get to: We took a free shuttle from our hotel at the Val d'Europe development on the edge of the Disneyland Paris Resort property. But the park itself stands just a few yards away from its own train station, connecting the park to Paris and the rest of Europe via RER (the Paris regional rail line), TGV (France's high-speed "bullet train") and the Eurostar (the Chunnel train, connecting Disneyland Paris to London).
After a quick walk through the airport-style baggage scanners and past semi-automatic-toting French army guards (!), you'll find yourself standing in front of the Paris version of The Disneyland Hotel, which stands above the entryway into Paris' Disneyland Park.
As you walk toward the park, look down. It appears that Disney got some Europeans to pay up for "Walk of Magical Memories" tiles, too.
Contrary to what you might have heard, you don't actually walk through the Disneyland Hotel to get into the park. The hotel straddles the entryway into the park, which is where you'll find the park's ticket booths. But, of course, you bought your tickets in advance, right? :^)
Once you're past the ticket booths, you'll come out into another small plaza before passing under the Main Street train station on your way into Disneyland Paris' Town Square.
Once in Town Square, you'll see Disneyland Paris' City Hall on your left.
And here's the view of the rest of the square, to your right. (That's where the park's parade route finishes.)
Take a look down Main Street from Town Square, to see Disneyland Paris' Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant (aka "Sleeping Beauty's Castle").
For the most part, Disneyland Paris' Main Street is pretty much the same conceptually as those found in the United States, though it is a bit larger, like the rest of the park. The biggest difference between the US Main Streets, though, is Paris' use of arcades on either side of the street.
You know how, on busy evenings, Disney sometimes opens up backstage routes along either side of Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, to allow the throngs of guests to get out of the park? There's no need for that here. In Paris (as in Tokyo), Disney wised up and created on-stage, themed alternate routes around the Main Street bottleneck. From here, you can get in and out of the back of almost all of Main Street's stores and restaurants.
Speaking of restaurants, we reviewed our experience at Walt's last week, so please take a look at that post, if you haven't yet. But if a fancy, table-service meal isn't your thing, just step directly across Main Street to the Market House Deli, where you'll find a selection of counter-service sandwiches and salads.
Your other Main Street dining options include:
What? Their Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlour serves Ben & Jerry's?
Disney uses period theming to sneak a billboard onto its Paris Main Street.
And another Main Street billboard might look awfully familiar to anyone who's also visited Tokyo DisneySea.
As much as I was disappointed in the cheap feel of the park's younger sibling, Walt Disney Studios Paris, I loved the extensive details to be found on Disneyland Paris' Main Street. Check out this piano in Victoria's.
And don't forget to look up to see the magnificent chandelier inside the Disneyana store on Main Street in Paris.
By the way, Paris gets a bad rep for inattentive, even rude, service. (I'll write about that in a future post.) But while I found at Disneyland Paris a few of the most indifferent attractions cast members I've ever met, at Disneyana we also met Mily, who impressed me with her friendliness, knowledge and eagerness to help. She might have been the best Disney merchandise cast member I've encountered around the world this year, and that includes visits to Orlando, Anaheim, and Tokyo. So don't believe the bad reputation - there are helpful people in Paris!
Tomorrow, we'll start hitting the parks' attractions with a tour through Disneyland Paris' Frontierland.Tweet
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