Disney has six theme parks around the world -- Florida, California, Japan, Paris, Hong Kong, and now Shanghai. Disney parks are not a "once-you've-seen-one-you've-seen-them-all" kind of thing. All parks stay true to the Disney brand, and many experiences will be the same. The Disney characters are the same, many of the rides are the same, even whole areas are the same. In all parks, you'll enjoy immaculate surroundings, friendly cast members, an immersive experience, and attention to detail. But each park has quite a few things unique to the park, and to the culture of the host country, so each park will give visitors a unique experience. That's why I want to visit all the Disney Parks around the world before I die!
Last week I got to check off one more item on my bucket list when we visited Disneyland Paris for the first time ever. As I suspected, no matter how many times you have been to your nearest Disney park, your experiences at Disneyland Paris will be different. Attractions unique to Disneyland Paris include -- Space Mountain: Mission 2, Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril, Ratatouille, Crush's Coaster, RC Racers, Cinemagique, Animagique, Armageddon – Les Effets Speciaux, La Tanière du Dragon, and Alice's Curious Labyrinth. Some attractions bear the same (or similar) names, but have been tweaked slightly-- It's a Small World, Phantom Manor, Autopia, Pirates of the Caribbean, to name a few.
But I'm not just talking about different layouts, attractions, stores, and restaurants. I noticed quite a few subtle differences between Disneyland Paris and Disneyland in Anaheim. I've only been to Walt Disney World twice (for the moment!), so I'm not as familiar with that park, but for the most part, I'm guessing these differences apply to WDW as well. Here are 12 more ways Disneyland Paris is different:
Discounted park passes
Multilingual signs and cast members
No Dole Pineapple Whip
No Mickey shaped ice cream
Popcorn, two ways
No free cups of water
Mickey and Minnie ears are not a thing
3Po was looking forward to buying a Paris-exclusive set of classic Mickey ears, so he was acutely disappointed to realize that there were no Mickey ears on sale anywhere. ZERO. The only Minnie ears for sale were the basic red bow kind and a few animal-print Minnie ears in Adventureland.
The silver lining: a few stores had special soccer-themed Minnie ears and a soccer-themed Mickey ear hat to celebrate the EURO 2016 football tournament (currently being played out in France), on sale for half off. 3Po passed on the Mickey ears because they didn't look quite right. I, however, ended up with a pair of Minnie ears that match my interests!
Pin trading, light version
Pin trading is not as popular at Disneyland Paris. Disneyland Paris does release their own sets of pins, and they do have trading days for pin enthusiasts, but fewer cast members have pins to trade, and even fewer people wear pin lanyards. Cast members do wear pins on their clothes, but those pins belong to them; cast member pin trading is only done in stores. I was a bit intimidated by stories I had read about cast members being snooty and selective about pin trading, but that never happened to me. (Note: More about this in a future post!)
Gender-blind toilet attendants
North Carolina and HB2 could learn a thing or two from Disneyland Paris!
I've never seen anyone smoke at a Disney park before visiting Disneyland Paris. According to the DLP website, smoking is prohibited in outdoor and indoor areas, save for designated smoking areas (similar to the US parks rule).... but the French don't seem to have heard of it, or they ignore it, and cast members don't enforce it. We saw -- and smelled -- quite a few smokers around us all day.
People slow down
Every time we visit Disneyland, there are always people rushing from one end of the park to the other, people running to beat the lines, people darting through the crowds to snag a spot. Sometimes I feel like people walking beside me are scoping me out, wondering if we're on our way to the same attraction, wondering whether to begin a race to get there first.
We noticed the difference as soon as we stepped off our shuttle bus. It was 10 minutes before park opening and no one was running! All day, people seemed much less frantic, and more casual. I'm one of those people whose pace automatically speeds up at a theme park, so this was a totally relaxing experience.
That's 12 ways your Disneyland Paris experience will be unique and special! If you've been to Disneyland Paris before, have you noticed any other differences?