6 Reasons You Need to Visit Disneyland Paris

I’ve been going to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for my entire life. Literally. Like, from fetus to 19-years-old. It’s a family tradition that has given me some of the best memories of my life. I’ve been known to tell my closest friends that Disney truly feels like home for me, as cheesy as it sounds.

Being such a self-described Disnerd, one of my (many) bucket list goals has been to visit every Disney park in the world—that includes in California, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo. I’d already crossed off Orlando on that list, but while studying abroad in Europe this January, I got the chance to cross off another—Disneyland Paris.

Let me preface this by mentioning I had been dying to visit Disneyland Paris since 2014 when Disney put in the Ratatouille ride, because I am in love with “Ratatouille” the film. I never thought I’d actually go, though. At least, not until I was 30-years-old or a millionaire. You know, whichever came first. But when I found out that I would be on my own in Paris in January, I knew I couldn’t miss the chance to visit, no matter the subpar reviews I had heard from other Disney aficionados on the web. When I finally walked into the parks with my study abroad friends Megan and Claire, I definitely teared up. I felt like I was experiencing Disney for the first time in my life, despite my almost-two-decades logged in Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Needless to say, it was magical.

Speaking of those “subpar reviews,” if you are as in love with Disney as I am, you’ve definitely heard that Disneyland Paris is the lamest park of the six. I disagree, though. The park definitely has a different, more low-key atmosphere, but, as I’ve told anyone who has asked me which is better, Disney World or Disneyland Paris, I’ve said they are uncomparable. They both have their upsides and downsides, but neither is worse than the other, and both are absolutely worth a visit (or two…). And here’s why.

  1. Wintertime in Disney!

For those who have been to Disney World or Disneyland in California, you know that it can get unbearably hot in the summertime, and, at the lowest, sixties in the heart of wintertime. But in Disneyland Paris, you can actually see the magic of Disney blanketed by beautiful snow. Plus, you get a chance to wear all those super cute Mickey-embellished sweaters and beanies without sweating through them.

  1. All the different twists on rides

Before heading to the parks (there’s two—Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios, which is more akin to Hollywood Studios or Disney California Adventure) I made sure to peruse which rides were at the top of my list, since I only had a few hours to explore. Many of the rides sounded similar to ones I knew and loved in Disney World, but when I actually went on them I found them to be super different. For one, there are TWO drops on Disneyland Paris’ Pirates of the Caribbean ride (woah). Better yet, Disneyland’s version of Space Mountain in Tomorrowland is Star Wars themed, but the roller coaster is more on the Aerosmith level, with a fast blast off, 360 turns and lightning speeds! So, while it may seem like Disneyland is a carbon copy, it can definitely hold its’ own.

  1. The unique vibe

As I mentioned early, every park has its’ own vibe. Disney World always feels more high-speed and crowded, always trying to squeeze in as much as I can into one trip, but Disneyland Paris was the exact opposite. I found myself enjoying just walking around the parks, snapping tons of photographs and definitely appreciating the less than 60 minute ride wait times. The park itself is even in a more low-key, spread out placement. For instance, the train station that takes you from Paris to Disneyland is mere steps away from the entrance to the park. You can also walk across a veranda to hop back and forth in between the Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland parks. You also go underneath the gorgeous, pink Disneyland Hotel to enter Disneyland. Plus, all the decorations have a vintage vibe that made me feel like I was walking back in Disney time.

  1. Ratatouille ride

So, of course, at the top of my bucket list was the Ratatouille ride in Walt Disney Studios, by far the most popular ride in the parks and 100% worth the long wait. I had been waiting six years to ride this ride, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a trackless ride where you are Remy in the opening scene of the film as he runs around Gusteau’s kitchen, through the oven and the restaurant on the cart. There are 5D effects much like in Mickey’s Philharmagic in Disney World where you can feel the heat of the oven, smell the food, and get sprinkled with water as a waiter pops a champagne bottle at you. My friends on the trip, though obviously tweaked while in the long wait, decided it was their favorite ride too once we got off.

  1. The food (duh!)

Food in Europe is an activity in itself, and they definitely do food differently. This held true in Disneyland where they served pastries instead of cupcakes, and fois gras in kids restaurants. Though I definitely wish I’d gotten to try more foods at Disneyland (namely, some Mickey shaped macarons), the Chez Remy restaurant we had dinner in at the end of the night was impeccable. I highly suggest vegetarian ravioli with (naturalement) a side of ratatouille that made my zucchini-loving mother at home very, very jealous. (Beware, though: It was very hard to find vegetarian food, and allergy-friendly meals seemed scarce, as well. If you are vegetarian or have a dietary restriction, be sure to do some research on where to eat before you go.)

  1. Nightcaps at The Disneyland Hotel

The pink Disneyland Hotel with the Mickey-shaped garden in front is one of the most beautiful entrances of all the parks. And because Disneyland Paris closes early (think 7 p.m.) due to wintertime weather, we decided to end the night with a drink in the Disneyland Hotel bar, which every guest is welcome to explore, no matter if they’re staying or not. The hotel is very much Grand Floridian themed, and just as pricey, but staying there is a definite new bucket list item for me.

With only 10 hours spent in Disneyland Paris (and it being the highlight of my trip to Europe), I most definitely plan to go back one day to spend a couple days exploring, since there’s plenty I missed. On my bucket list for next time: Exploring Downtown Disney, trying more snacks, going on Tower of Terror and the other rides in Walt Disney Studios and meeting some of the French characters, like Sleeping Beauty.