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?
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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"
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.
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!)