Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

Disneyland Paris Listed in 10 Destinations NOT to Visit

Disneyland Paris: Catherine Price, author of 101 Places Not To See Before You Die, picks her 10 most over-hyped tourist traps. Disneyland Paris makes the cut.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted December 20, 2010 at 11:10 PM
We bought a book for my mom for Christmas - 101 Places Not To See Before You Die - which turns the popular must-see travel series concept on its head.

Interestingly, the author, Catherine Price, compiled her top 10 must-skip destinations in an article posted on AOL Travel. One of the 10 spots went to the lukewarmly received Disneyland Paris.

From the article: "If you're an American traveling abroad, shouldn't you travel a bit farther than an amusement park which is so quintessentially American that is has an Aerosmith-themed roller coaster?"

It seems that Price's objections stem from a philosophical view of traveling rather than actual criticisms of the park itself, but having not read the book I cannot comment further than that.

What do you think? Is Price's criticism warranted? Is Disneyland Paris well-designed but ill-located? Is the resort forever doomed to mediocrity?

From Rob P
Posted December 21, 2010 at 5:01 AM
Most of my friends have made the short trip over to DLP from England (I have not ).
Every one of them would prefer to travel the thousands of miles to the Parks in Orlando or Anaheim rather than re-visit their Parisian sibling.
I don't know whether it's a cultural thing or not but the general consensus of opinion is that the Americans do American theme parks better than anyone else.
So, to a degree, I can see the author's point when she says that she feels it's unecessary for you guys in the States to make the long journey to Europe merely to experience something you already have.
My own view , based only on what I've read , is that some of the rides at DLP are more advanced because they are newer versions. So from that perspective it might be nice to experience those differences. I think that , by and large, the philosophy of theme parks sits better in the US than France. The French aren't, on the whole, nearly as amicable as the Americans. " Have a nice day" does not compute in Paris.

But It's also unfair to suggest that you should avoid places like DLP because Europe has "so much more to offer".
America , similarly, has a great deal more to offer outside of it's theme parks. So that argument is a poor one.

In conclusion I think I would visit DLP out of curiosity but would gravitate back to the U.S. for my Disney fix.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted December 21, 2010 at 9:12 AM
DLP is actually very nice and I think the author sold it short. While its kinda out of the way, it is connected by the subway which makes it a little easier than the American parks.

The problem with DLP is that theme parks are not a big thing outside of UK, especially in Western Europe. Also, I have found that most Europeans are a bit annoyed by the former British Empire and its "kids" (USA). The English and the French have a bit of a rivalry since the 1600s! They also try to Americanize the park by offering much more burgers, hotdogs, etc. Their dinner show is the Wild Bill Show which offers BBQ and the Chicago Steakhouse that offers, well, steak. While the Chicago Steakhouse comes off really well, the rest is not as good as its American counterparts.

Also, the Cast members are either really good or really bad, but more on the bad side generally. Many of the cast members are very similar stateside to many Six Flags workers: Young and full of attitude. When I was there, it seemed that many cast members didn't really want to be there. However, I did see some excellent cast members too (including our server at Chicago Steakhouse who was older, btw). I mean, I think its a bit harder of a job that in the states because there is a big language barrier no matter which country you are from. There are simply too many languages in Europe to really get the full experience as Disney World or Disneyland where English (sometimes Spanish) is the language of choice. English and French are used more at DLP than others, but what about German, French, Russian, Greek, etc?

So if anybody is thinking about going, its a good one or two day excursion, but I wouldn't fly to France just to do it!

From Nick Markham
Posted December 21, 2010 at 9:49 AM
I think this woman is just one of those lazy tourists that always has something against theme parks. The locals love that park, the rest of Europe loves the parks, Americans and others love the parks, and every single enthusiast in the world.

She probably didn't visit the park because she thought it was just like every other Disney park, even though this is a very nice and unique Disney park.

EDIT: And when she says theme parks are all "American", she is wrong again, as they are just as popular in Europe and Asia, AND, theme parks originated in Europe. And they call this lady an expert!

From Brandon Mendoza
Posted December 21, 2010 at 11:45 AM
I'd have to say it all depends on what you enjoy in life. I prefer Theme Parks and tropical areas for vacations. If I go to Europe, I wouldn't mind stopping by Disney there... same with Japan, and the other S.E. Asia Disney Parks & Universal Parks. I don't care to go shopping in Hong Kong or Akihabara in Japan as I'm not a shopper... I prefer experiences and pictures that I can take rather than souvenirs.

However, I'm not a fan of eating at chain restaurants whenever I travel domestically. If I'm in Florida or New York or Chicago, I wanna try local eateries. Internationally & Hawaii is a different creature... Mickey D's and all the other chains offer so many different things elsewhere, but I still enjoy trying "foreign" eateries!

From Manny Barron
Posted December 21, 2010 at 12:28 PM
I agree with Nick. Isn't Disneyland Paris the most popular tourist destination in Europe already? I've yet to travel to Europe, but I will hopefully one day. My first stop of course would be the Disneyland Paris resort.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted December 21, 2010 at 11:51 AM
Theme parks are highly popular for various reasons, one of which is that they provide a complete package - hotel, restaurants, and entertainment in one complex. The major difference between theme parks and tourist towns/cities is that the former are run by one organization. A touristy city, like New York or Paris, has many hotels, restaurants, and attractions run by separate organizations; the luxurious New York Plaza Hotel does not guarantee the restaurant across the street is high-quality. When you buy a Universal Studios Resort package, e.g., you're getting the Universal brand quality at your hotel, at the park, at the restaurants, and at everything else within the resort. Your entire vacation planning is done in one shot and is guaranteed to be of Universal quality.

Typically, theme parks are highly accommodating to guests. They often have kosher, halal, and vegan foods available at all their restaurants. Every park, hotel, and attraction is handicap accessible. Smoking is only permitted in certain areas, so those allergic or sensitive to second-hand smoke can stroll without worrying about an asthma attack. One brand running everything means everything is guaranteed to meet a certain standard.

The problem with this brand name guarantee is that it attracts too many people. Ever notice the amount of obese, elderly, and handicapped people in the Orlando theme parks? Travel to the nearby Everglades National Park and you won't see nearly as many. This may be partly because Everglades National Park doesn't guarantee a certain level of accessibility, nor does it guarantee a certain level of customer service and satisfaction. In their attempt to accommodate everyone, theme parks have attracted everyone. Now, they're forced to take measures to accommodate the crowds - Fastpass systems, cheap street entertainment, mass-produced food, overly large theaters - all of which take away from the overall enjoyment of the experience.

Experienced theme park visitors know how to visit a park - arrive early, see the low-capacity, highly popular attractions first, save high-capacity attractions for later, eat outside the park, leave the park when the crowds get thick, and return when the temperatures are moderate and the crowds have dissipated. This keeps your energy high, your temperament calm, and your sanity moderate. However, when you're paying big bucks for a vacation, you shouldn't really have to plan your day and follow-through with a military-style efficiency. You should be able to sleep in, stroll the park at a leisurely pace, eat what/when you want, and experience attractions at your whim. Unfortunately, this is not the case with most theme parks. If you don't have a plan and don't follow a set of personal rules, chances are you'll have a less-than-ideal time.

Conversely, you generally won't find this kind of mayhem at most tourist cities/towns. You can stroll through markets, enjoy local eats, sleep in, play on the beach, meet local people, enjoy live theater, and do things at your own pace. You don't have to worry about an hour-long lineup at a Broadway show, or returning to the Sistine Chapel in 20 minutes for your 3:00-4:00 Fastpass slot. Theme parks are hectic, and only those who come prepared will truly enjoy themselves.

This is one of the reasons why many travel writers don't enjoy theme parks. They are hot, crowded, and hectic. There isn't much relaxation. It's high-octane, high-speed entertainment. Some travel writers, like Bob Sehlinger and his Unofficial Guide pals, understand and appreciate much of what theme parks have to offer. That's because they have studied the Orlando parks over, under, in, and out. They know what to do and when to do it. They know what we know. They can appreciate the brilliant work and technological marvel that goes into many of the attractions. But for those who suffer through long lines, Florida sun, overpriced/unhealthy food, and cranky friends/family, even the most amazing technology can't save the day.

I can understand Price's distaste for DLP. Paris is Europe's most visited city. There are many emotionally, intellectually, and physically satisfying experiences to be had - museums, art galleries, markets, fine dining, hiking... And then a foreign entertainment monster shows up and drops a highly efficient entertainment machine just outside of the city, which could be seen as a downsizing of the local culture.

I'd love to see Paris and DLP for different reasons, but I can also understand why she'd put the latter on her must-miss list.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted December 21, 2010 at 2:51 PM
I agree with the three of you, but I also think that she thinks its cool to "bash Disney" because reviewers like to use them as an easy target (food, movies, theme parks, etc).

However, reading Joshua's comment reminded me of another problem I had at DLP: The other guests! Now, maybe I am just used to American's insanity when it comes to theme parks, but some Europeans take it to another level. They don't follow rules and were extremely rude to other guests and cast members. I even saw a few jump over a guardrail and sunbathe on the lawn five feet away from the train tracks of the Main Street Train. I also saw somebody climb up a tree (yes a tree!) so they could get a better view of a parade. I have NEVER seen either of these things at WDW or DL. I am not saying this was every European, but I saw some pretty insane things at DLP.

From Rob P
Posted December 22, 2010 at 4:38 AM
Firstly as an Englishman I don't consider myself European so I think it only fair to extend Anthony's comments about unruly behaviour to visitors from the UK too.
Basing my view on my own personal experiences at the Parks in Orlando and Southern California over the last 15 years. I have witnessed a deterioration in the standards of behaviour which coincides with the increased number of visitors from the UK. As trips across the pond have become ever more accessible it's obvious that you're going to get a number of idiots along with the rest of the normal well-behaved guests.
It's embarrassing to see football shirted brain-deads letting your Country down when they're abroad. We've seen it in all of the European beach resorts for years and now we're seeing it in the U.S holiday spots.
I refuse to apologise on their behalf but, at the same time, want to distance myself from them.
Back to the DLP issue :
Now before I get accused of France bashing I should point out that in my early 20's I lived a while in Paris and also in Marseilles. ( chalk and cheese ) and loved every minute. Most of the people I met on my travels were lovely but I would never accuse them of being a Nation that lends itself to the theme park ethic. Call it what you will but different strokes etc.
Gallic charm does not really extend to being a cast member at Disney........although it would be unfair of me to generalise in this way because I'm sure that some are more than ok. I should imagine that the role of Cast Member can be quite demanding and you have to be a particularly good "people-person" to do the job justice. I'm not convinced that the Parisian psyche fits the bill.
Interestingly enough it's a well known fact that most French people outside of Paris don't much
care for Parisians either because of their big city attitude.

From Flavio de Souza
Posted December 22, 2010 at 7:11 AM
DLP is the best Disneyland park. It is far better than MK and Hong Kong and more modern than the original one near LA ( I have never been to the tokio one).

That said, unless you are a theme park fanatic, you should not cross the ocean JUST to visit DLP, but while visiting the many things that Paris has to offer to a tourist, you should pay a visit to DLP.

Also, there are not many attractions for children in Europe, so speding some days visiting Disney and Park Asterix makes the trip much more enjoyable to kids.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted December 22, 2010 at 4:59 PM
I highly doubt the author was bashing the park's attractions or aesthetics. We all know the park is essentially the same as Disneyland Park and the Magic Kingdom, but with modernized attractions and a more fitting castle. If she had a problem with the park, she probably would have chosen the Magic Kingdom or Hong Kong Disneyland as a target. I think her beef is probably with the location of the park and possibly the service. Parisian service is formal and professional, not casual and/or amiable. Trying to enforce the Disney etiquette and service in a distinctly un-American atmosphere is off-putting.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted December 22, 2010 at 5:59 PM
Yeah, Joshua, I agree with you! I think you summed it up very nicely!

As for its location, I am a bit mixed because it is some distance from Paris, but pretty easy to get to on the Parisan Metro and the station is literally 100 feet from the front gate of DLP.

However, all to you TPI readers, if you are in Paris or France, make sure to visit DLPR on at least one day! Its a great park!

Another interesting tidbit: The hotels ammenities, like much in Europe, is very different than in North America. In other words, there is a BIG difference between USA three star hotel and European Three star hotel. We basically spent "Port Orleans" money on a room that was more of an "All Star"

From Caroline Davis
Posted December 23, 2010 at 12:21 PM
It's not worth a trip specifically to go to DLP all the way from the US, but it's a nice day trip. I think the cast members are unfairly criticised, the only thing I found was bad communication in the queuing systems. When I visited I found nothing wrong with the cast members, they weren't the same as the US cast members, but not in a bad way.

Even if it's out of the way for Americans, it's pretty handy for Europeans. And it's really not that out of the way. I don't think it's even 30 minutes away from Paris on the Eurostar. I don't think this was a bad review for Disneyland, or will it dissuade people from going there. It sounded like she'd never even been there.

From deborah richards
Posted January 4, 2011 at 11:56 AM
DLP is a great place to visit if you can afford it. we live in the UK and its cheaper for us to spend 2 weeks in Orlando then 3 days in DLP! no Lies! , the parks however are very modern and upto date, the vast majority of Cast members are friendly , they have a great metro link into Paris but it is very very expensive in Paris and DLP.
my only complaints is the cost to get there, the cost to stay there, the price of the food, some stroppy cast members. Other then that its a great theme park which isnt 100% owned by Disney!

From Anthony Murphy
Posted January 4, 2011 at 6:22 PM
Not a 100% owned by Disney? Are you sure about DLP? I could swear they are! TDL, on the other hand, is NOT 100% owned by Disney.

Still, you are 100% right about the cost of DLP. It seriously makes the American parks look like a bargin.

As for Cast Members, I have to disagree with you a bit. I found them a bit hit or miss. They were either really good or really bad. I do think that their job is a bit harder at DLP than at the American Parks just because there is such a massive language barriers in Europe.

I mean, if you think about it, it would be as the people of FL speak French, but Georgia speaks German, IL speaks English, and New York Speaks Russian (and thats making Europe bigger than it really is!)

This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.

Buy Tickets

Plan a Trip

Get News, Discounts