Disney lovers around the world jump at the chance to defend their favorite Disney Park and debate why their favorite kingdom reigns supreme. Today is my opportunity as I search beyond the castle and dive into the things that stood out to me on my first visit to Disneyland Paris.
Today we ask, “Which Disneyland does it best?”
Our battle pits two Disneyland parks head to head for some obvious and obscure comparisons. During the 30th anniversary of Disneyland Paris, many fans are making their way to Europe to celebrate. This was my first visit to this gorgeous park.
I’ll share my winning choices and you can chime in with your own opinions to help decide which Disneyland deserves your next visit.
Here You Leave Today
Security screening and the process to enter the turnstiles can be a point of frustration before your Disney day even begins. Disney continues to test various methods to get us in the parks quicker, but some are slower to make their way to Disneyland Anaheim (and that’s if they ever make it here).
How long does it take you to enter Disneyland? From parking to tram rides or walking from your hotel? Add in security screening, ticket checks and photos at the gates.
The process to actually get inside the Happiest Place on Earth can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more.
Typical choke points include attaching photos of new guest tickets as they enter the turnstile. How many of us have scoped out lines to pass by guests with a handful of printed e-tickets? How many of us have asked and commented in survey after survey for a Magic Key exclusive gate entry?
Disneyland Paris entrance process was mostly seamless, with one area that did not go with the flow.
First, security screening at Disneyland Paris is a breeze. Airport-style security scanners have you load bags onto a conveyor belt. That means no opening every zipper on your backpack for a detailed search. A quick walk through the metal detectors is all it takes.
Speaking of airport-style security, they even have a luggage hold service for people arriving from the city via the RER trains. The station is actually closer to the park entrance than most of their onsite hotels. But plan for plenty of extra time if using this baggage checking service.
Once you clear security, you might find one seemingly random bottleneck in the morning hours in front of Disneyland Parc.
Every morning, a handful of Cast Members casually check guest tickets to ensure they had reservations. There is no formal line and guests dictate the flow. If you can squeeze into any open spot and shimmy your way through, take it. Otherwise, you’ll be waiting for a while because no one is looking at who came first.
Next up, scanning in at the gates. During my 4-day visit, no one took photos of any guest upon entry. With our Magic Pass (room key, park ticket combo), we simply tapped in and the transparent, waist-high gates opened to admit us.
Disneyland Entrance Winner
Paris takes the cake here. Entry to the parks is filled with ease and less hassle.
At Disneyland Anaheim, some delays will be alleviated once Magic Bands are implemented. But until the entire system is overhauled, expect wait times for entry to continue regardless of arrival time.
The floral Mickey Mouse is an iconic focal point at Disneyland-style Parks. Guest have been taking family photos and selfies in front of this garden art for decades. It’s a welcoming sight noting your official arrival into a land of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.
Anaheim Floral Mickey
Since 1955 Mickey Mouse’s grin greets you after the turnstiles of Disneyland Park. And for the first time ever, we saw Minnie Mouse welcoming guests during Women’s History Month in March 2022.
The floral is poised below Main Street Railroad Station. Everyone entering Disneyland catches their first glimpse of Mickey right here.
Queues form quickly each morning for snapshots and selfies. And if you time it right, you might even get the famous steam engine train of the Disneyland Railroad in the background of your snapshot.
Paris Floral Mickey
Before the entrance to Disneyland Parc, a large Mickey showpiece awaits guests for photos. And wait it does.
Paris’s floral Mickey seems to get lost in the expansive entry to the theme park. Mickey competes for your attention among fountains, gazebos and winding streams.
As guests hurry into the parks each day, they often pass by the Mickey floral. Eyes and feet are pulled towards the stunning Disneyland Hotel and what awaits them inside the theme park gates.
Floral Mickey Winner
In this Mickey Mouse face-off, Disneyland Anaheim wins for its trendsetting and photo-worthy design.
While Disneyland Paris’s attempt pays tribute to the original, it’s just one small detail rather than the stand-out it is at Disneyland Anaheim.
We love our Disney theme park trash cans. Most of us even have a favorite or two (mine’s Dumbo). And when a new land is built or reimagined, the Disney garbage cans are one of the many odd details we super fans look forward to seeing.
Anaheim Trash Cans
Not only do we use trash cans as table tops, we buy merchandise to match Disneyland trash cans, and there are entire stories, podcasts and YouTube video series dedicated to the various Disneyland trash cans.
Paris Trash Cans
One generic trash can design dominates Disneyland Paris Resort, with a few custom cans throughout the park.
When comparing the two Disneylands, I immediately noticed the lack of trash cans in the Paris park and of course the lack of unique trash can designs.
Trash Cans Winner
A few stood out here and there at Disneyland Paris like Adventureland and Small World. However, they are nothing compared to the massive number of themed trash cans at Disneyland Park in Anaheim.
Since we’re talking trash here, it’s worth noting that recycling efforts are a huge part of the sustainability effort in both parks, but I find it much easier to locate recycling bins in the Anaheim parks.
Tower Chills and Thrills
Let’s get on with the rides! Do you remember your initial thoughts when Disney announced the reimagining of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure? MiceChat fans aired their feelings here.
Now that we’ve had Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT for 5 years, I was happy to revisit the original Twilight Zone theme at Disneyland Paris.
Tower of Terror was my favorite in DCA, but Guardians of the Galaxy has become my all-time favorite attraction. I love listening to the playlist and jam out to Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” anytime I get my favorite song for the ride.
I’m hands up and screaming the whole time!
I was so excited to experience The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Walt Disney Studios in Paris.
I immediately remembered what I loved about the attraction. The theming and decor are simply incredible. I could spend hours just sitting in the lobby, taking in all the details. The energy inside The Hollywood Tower Hotel is something else.
Chills or Thrills Winner
Disneyland Paris’s version disappoints during the ride vehicle sequence. While I loved hearing the little Sally speak French and found that particularly spooky, I think too much time is spent on her story. I would rather have the sudden up and down movement of the elevator I so much enjoy.
Guardians of the Galaxy wins this one in my book for delivering an unbeatable thrill factor with a dance party all mixed into one.
Skip the Line Perks
Disneyland Paris first introduced “Disney Premier Access” in 2021. Premier Access can be compared to Disneyland Anaheim’s Genie+, but is more similar to Individual Lightning Lane.
Skip the Line Anaheim
We’ve been through free paper FASTPASS to Disney MaxPass at $10 (per person, per day) to Disney Genie+ at $20 (per person, per day) and dynamic pricing of Individual Lightning Lane.
Paying extra for things that used to be free is a common complaint from all types of guests. Whether coming for a once-in-a-lifetime trip or a quick visit as a Magic Key Holder, no one likes to feel nickel and dimed by Disney.
We rant and rave, say we won’t use paid features… But when it comes down to it, there’s always a big audience who will pay. At what point will we truly be done shelling out the extra cash for Disneyland perks?
Skip the Line Paris
In the Paris parks, you can skip the line on a pay-per-ride basis with their Premier Access system. Something to note is that nothing is bundled together like it is at Disneyland for Genie+. Premier Access costs between €8 ($9) and €15 ($16) per person per ride; prices are dynamic and will change depending on attraction, season, and demand.
Over 4 days with a family of 5 in tow on an extended vacation, I wasn’t too excited about spending extra money on attractions. Plus, we had plenty of days to ride things multiple times and found the ideal wait times to avoid paying extra. You can learn more about Disneyland Paris’s Premier Access HERE.
Skip the Line Perks Winner
It may feel VIP as you stroll past guests waiting in the standby line, but the real winner of skip-the-lines perks is the Walt Disney corporation.
Frequent park-goers learn how to maximize skip-the-line systems to ride the most in the least amount of time, for the least amount of money.
Mobile Apps & Orders
All this discussion is making me hungry. It’s time to place a mobile order and dine on some Disney eats. Menus and the way we order have come a long way in the last few years. Disney fans indulge on frequent new menu items and return for classic favorite snacks and Disney meals.
Apps & Orders Anaheim
Wait times, bathrooms, characters, shows. Disney apps help us navigate our vacations even before they begin with theme park reservations, maps and more.
Adding nearly every quick service location to mobile order has been a game changer in the way I eat and enjoy food at Disneyland.
Mobile order makes for less waiting, easier contactless payment and food customization. Now if Disney could just add an option to store Disney Gift Cards as payment (rather than copy and paste the number in each time), we’ll be golden!
Apps & Orders Paris
Much has been said about the quality of food at Disneyland Paris. In a city surrounded by so much fine cuisine, pastries, baguettes and wine, you think Disneyland Paris would easily outshine every Disney Park.
The food at most quick service locations is mediocre and offers a similar menu at various locations. Mobile ordering is limited to only a couple of quick service spots. And I soon found out why.
Disneyland Paris simply does not have the tech to keep up with a massive mobile order system. Currently, you place a mobile order, check your email to click “I’m here”, where your confirmation loads to a separate website that prompts the kitchen to prepare your food.
It’s quite the runaround, involving multiple steps and platforms. You also need to enter your complete billing address and credit card information each time you place a mobile order.
Add this to the fact that the final step of loading your confirmation may never happen and you’re pretty much stuck. This happened to us and I asked the cashier if there was any other way to process the order since at this point, payment has cleared. After 20 minutes of trying on and off wifi to load the webpage, the Cast Member finally agreed to hand write our order for us.
But there is one thing Disneyland Paris’s app does better than Anaheim. Directions! Locate an attraction on the app and tap “Get Directions.” With so many winding paths and various routes to lands and rides, the service came in handy for this Disneyland Paris newbie.
Apps & Orders Winner
Disneyland Anaheim has this system down. There is still room for improvement with both tech and staffing sides, but it’s clear Disneyland Anaheim’s system is superior. If Disneyland Paris can adapt their mobile order system in the future, their app will certainly be a contender.
A few quick details remain to help you decide which Disneyland does it best.
DLP Wins at Stroller Parking
Disneyland Paris tucks away stroller parking in small areas. I rarely saw more that 20 strollers in one spot. Most children walked rather than rode, even though wagons are still permitted at Disneyland Paris.
Is it a cultural thing? Maybe. I saw so many young children riding bikes and walking in my two weeks in Paris. It was rare to see a stroller around the city. Plus, Disneyland Paris has plenty of walkways and parking areas to keep traffic free and flowing.
Disneyland Resort Wins at Shopping
The variety of shops, new items, exclusive merchandise and Downtown Disney clearly outranks the tired 90s decor of Disney Village in Paris. I mean, we know it was built in the 90s but Disney Village is tired and shows its age (a slightly updated version is on the way).
Two more things we noticed at Disneyland Paris: the balloon selection was comparable to dollar store Disney designs and the snack selection was very big on chips (of all varieties and sizes).
We pick Disneyland Anaheim for better balloons and tons more snacks throughout the parks. But if you like chips, Paris is the park for you.
Disneyland Paris Wins the Lion King
Tale of the Lion King plays this summer at Disneyland’s Fantasyland Theatre moving from its previous location at California Adventure Park.
It’s a much-needed and loved live entertainment option at Disneyland Resort. I wouldn’t mind if it played year-round. But Disneyland Paris’s The Lion King: Rhythms of the Pride Lands show is truly breathtaking.
Dancers, acrobats and singers bring this Disney animation Classic to life in a non-stop, action-packed experience. It truly brought tears to my eyes. It was that incredible! The thirty-minute show moves quickly, with no dialogue but is filled with music, dancing, and special effects.
If there is one thing you do at Disneyland Paris, make time for The Lion King: Rhythms of the Pride Lands.
Disneyland Resort Cast Members Win
The Cast Members at both Disneyland Anaheim and Disneyland Paris are part of the reason we keep coming back. Cast Members bring the magic with them and help us all have smooth and memorable vacations.
This challenge isn’t aimed at the people themselves, but more at the costumes and crowd control offered through the resorts. Disneyland Anaheim Cast Member costumes are much better themed to the lands and stand out as being an employee. Most Disneyland Paris Cast Members blended in and looked more generic in their costumes.
One-way walking paths, roped-off areas and general points of frustration when making your way across Disneyland Anaheim during a parade or night show are nothing compared to Disneyland Paris.
I experienced almost zero Cast Members managing traffic flow at Disneyland Paris during parades or night shows. Instead of Cast Members directing the way and keeping walking paths clear, we were left on our own to wiggle our way through crowds toward our destination.
Disneyland Paris is Pretty as a Picture
Disneyland Paris is stunning. It’s clear that the Imagineers wanted to respect Walt’s legacy but do some additional things Walt just didn’t have the money for in 1955. Covered walking arcades behind Main Street. A beautiful Jules Vern inspired Discovery Land (instead of an always outdated Tomorrowland). Whimsical Fantasyland with waterfalls and streams. A Frontierland that goes on and on and on… Disneyland in California has more attractions, but Disneyland Paris is très beau.
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Let’s Hear From You
We definitely only scratched the surface of which park does it best. While Disneyland Paris has certainly made improvements upon the original Disneyland in some visual ways, overall, Walt’s Disneyland still has my heart. What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winning choices? Tell us in the comments below.
I booked my Disneyland Paris vacation with our partners at Get Away Today. Our family of 5 stayed in a family suite at Newport Bay Hotel with Compass Club access. I also booked a meal plan.