Disneyland Paris combines the warm familiarity of Disney parks around the world with a unique Parisien aesthetic. Families with younger kids will appreciate the smaller park size. And the distance between the two two theme parks, Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park, is easily walkable. From Disney fan favorites to only-in-France experiences, here’s a look at the best of Disneyland Paris.
Best Rides at Disneyland Paris
Every Disney theme park has its unique qualities, but I have a new favorite. Disneyland Paris recently won my 7-year-old daughter and me over. Here’s why: smaller park size, shorter lines, less waiting for encounters with Disney characters, and overall convenience.
Disneyland Paris is known for its beautiful theming and decor. Throughout the park, we delighted in festive fountains, intricate carvings and pastel colors. And of course, the precise attention to detail that makes all Disney parks so special.
This wasn’t my daughter’s first taste of Disney parks, but it’s the first trip that she remembered. I took her to Walt Disney World in Orlando when she was just 2 1/2 years old. It was a treat for me, but she has absolutely no recollection of the vacation.
This time, at seven, she was the perfect age to enjoy Disneyland Park (the equivalent of the Magic Kingdom) and neighboring Walt Disney Studios Park (the French version of Disney’s Hollywood Studios).
While many of the rides will be familiar to fans of Disney parks, everything at Disneyland Paris is a little different. Like Disney World with a French accent!
We loved everything about our Disneyland Paris experience. Here’s our unranked, personalized list of the best rides and experiences in the theme parks.
A French Fantasyland
- Sleeping Beauty Castle is the park centerpiece, a pink, blue, and purple confection of spires and turrets, and home to a very lifelike dragon (in La Tanière du Dragon) who wakes up in a fiery mood! My daughter was a little scared of him at first, but then she delighted in trying to wake him up and make him mad!
- A Fantasyland staple, Peter Pan’s Flight is one of the most popular rides at any Disney theme park. It’s always perfect for all ages. Soaring over the glowing streets of London on our way to Never Land never gets old.
- Also in Fantasyland, the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is Frenchified as Blanche-Neighe et les Sept Nains, but the fairytale magic is still the same. It helped that my daughter knew the story of Snow White and had seen the original 1937 classic film.
Scary, But Not Too Scary
- The Disneyland Park version of the classic Pirates of the Caribbean ride is a little darker, a little dippier (there are at least two big drops during the boat ride) and a little louder than I remember at other Disney parks. I loved it, though my daughter was a little afraid of the cannon fire. A big plus for girls: this Adventureland version has a female pirate heroine!
- Big Thunder Mountain never fails to deliver big thrills. But the Disneyland Paris version may be the wildest one yet! We boarded the ride in Frontierland, then went through an underwater tunnel to the Wild West-themed island, around which our mine train careened, climbed and plummeted. This was my daughter’s first roller coaster, and her reaction was definitely a mix of terror and delight!
- Phantom Manor is the Parisien version of the Haunted Mansion. This version has darker, spookier, more Gothic theming and far fewer goofy, smiling ghosts. My daughter was scared, but she knew everything was just pretend, and the story line of a ghost bride and a menacing phantom intrigued her.
Disney’s Animated Heroes
- In space-themed Discoveryland, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast features the same familiar Toy Story heroes and villains — except that Buzz and his pals spoke to us in English and French!
- Over at Walt Disney Studios Park (just a short walk from Disneyland Park), Ratatouille: The Adventure might just rank as one of our favorite Disney rides ever. In this 4D ride (including smell-o-rama effects!), we shrank down to Remy the Rat size and howled with laughter as we were chased through the dining room and kitchen of a fancy Parisien restaurant, all the way into the drain pipes. Get ready for the popping champagne bottle at the end!
- Also at Walt Disney Studios Park, Crush’s Coaster took us on a Finding Nemo themed, undersea thrill ride aboard a turtle shell. With lots of twists and turns but no real scary bits, it was a great ride for my 7-year-old, and a great first roller coaster for younger kids.
Our Other Favorite Rides
There’s not a dud ride in either of the Disneyland Paris parks, though some are more low-key than others. In between more exciting rides, we savored the view and took it easy on the classic rides. Favorites included It’s a Small World, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Le Carrousel de Lancelot merry-go-round and, at Walt Disney Studios Park, the Aladdin-themed Les Tapis Volant – Flying Carpets Over Agrabah. A spin on the Disneyland Railroad let us sit back and admire the architecture and engineering of this wonderland of a theme park.
Ready for a Return Trip to Disneyland Paris!
We’re definitely going back to Disneyland Paris. After all, we want to go on our favorite rides and try some new ones when my daughter is older. Top of our “next time” list are the spooky Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain, and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Can you tell Mom likes the scary rides?!
Our three days at Disneyland Paris, along with our stay in the five-star Disneyland Hotel, the most upscale of the Disney hotels in Paris, count among the most memorable vacations we’ve taken. Before we even got home from our trip, my daughter was ready to go back to Disneyland Paris. And I can’t blame her!
Elizabeth Heath is the mom of an elementary-school-age daughter and lives with her family in Umbria, in central Italy. Originally from Missouri, she grew up in Florida. Elizabeth started making regular summer trips to Italy to work on her Ph.D. in archaeology. One fateful summer, she fell in love with a tall, handsome Italian, and the rest is history! She is a home-based, full-time freelance travel writer and editor at www.elizabethfheath.com, balancing her wanderlust with the comfort and responsibilities of hearth and home. Her solution? Take the family along whenever possible. Because she lives in a small, rural town, Liz believes it’s really important for her daughter to see as much of the larger world as possible. She’s grateful her work allows her family to enjoy so many life-changing travel experiences together.