Three months ago I was a Disneyland virgin. I am now a Disneyland connoisseur.
After loving my first experience at the original park in California in May, it seemed only natural that one of our first stops in Europe would be Disneyland Paris. A lot of people mocked me for this plan ("But you just went!"), but my thinking was "different country, different experience, still lots of rides". Voila.
In all honesty, I did not expect the parks to be as similar as they were. It was like stepping through the mirror to where everything is the same but different, and it gave me some weird deja vu. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride had all the same scenes, but in a different order. Fantasyland's teacups were the same, but spun faster. The Haunted Mansion equivalent, Phantom Manor, was the same house but everything was in French. And the Buzz Lightyear ride, where you compete against your seatmate to shoot targets with a laser, also mirrored our US experience ... Nathan beat me again (how did I end up with the broken laser on both continents?).
After experiencing the It's a Small World ride at the original Disneyland, and having that song reverberating in my head for the following 24 hours, we decided to give it a miss in Paris. Ironically, it was Disneyland's advertising that actually reaffirmed my decision not to go on the ride: "Marvel as dolls of all nations sing and dance to the famous it's a small world medley. You'll be singing a happy song for the rest of the day." No.
For my Paris/California comparison, I'd say the rides were more exciting in Paris. Both the Space Mountain Mission 2 roller coaster and Indiana Jones ride took you upside down a couple of times. I could be wrong, but I don't remember loops on any ride at Disneyland in the US.
Paris also won on the food front for me. Despite there being far fewer food stands, the mile-long lines for them that we fought through in America didn't seem to exist in France. They also had French food such as crepes for sale. And I like crepes.
However, as far as magical experiences go, the original Disneyland definitely kept a better focus on the show. There were a few times we saw Paris cast members (staff, for those not up on the Disney lingo) going in and out of offices, and generally not keeping up the act in the way their Californian counterparts had. We were also disturbed by the smoking and by all the gum on the ground in Paris - isn't cleanliness the Disneyland motto?
I don't know if it was just bad luck or if it's always the case, but the crowding in the lines at Paris also seemed far worse. In every line the people behind us would literally be pressed up against us (despite my many dirty looks that did not need translation).
I got a good dose of the overt cosiness when I went to look at our ride photo, and Nathan sneakily didn't follow me up to the screen. All well and good until someone behind me put their hand on my bum, and, assuming it was Nathan, I didn't bother to turn around and stop the blatant pervert. Nathan thought that was funnier than I did.
Conclusion: I would say that Paris fell slightly behind its predecessor, fufilling the theory that nine times out of 10 the original wins out over the sequel. We're not talking about a Speed vs Speed 2 scenario - Paris was more than worth the visit and held its own - but it just lacked some of the polish that Anaheim delivers; maybe the second-happiest place on earth?
But perhaps I'm on my own here, so to anyone who's been to more than one Disneyland (and I think we can call these people the chosen ones):which do you think is the best?
I'd love to know if I should head to Hong Kong or Tokyo next.
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