I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve said “I miss Disneyland Paris” and I’m sure you have too, and so have the many people I see using the same phrase all over social media. But that’s an all encompassing phrase, which could cover all number of things, so what exactly is it I miss about Disneyland Paris when I’m not there?
Disneyland Paris Music
This is probably the thing that evokes that greatest emotional response when outside of the parks. A piece of music made especially for or one that I associate with Disneyland Paris can take me straight back there, instantly. There are obvious examples like the Pirates of the Caribbean theme music, which was playing in the kitchen earlier this month, and immediately I had a really bad longing to be back in that queue, about to go on the single greatest ride in Disneyland Paris. But wait Steve, you said only a couple of months ago that Big Thunder Mountain was your favourite ride? Yes, and maybe it was at the time I wrote that article, but sometimes it’s Pirates of the Caribbean, and especially when I’m missing the place and that music fills my ears.
It’s not just the obvious attraction music that I miss, but the atmospheric music you get when walking around the lands, that you rarely hear outside of the Parks. Occasionally there will be a tune from Frontierland that I’ll hear on the radio, or on an advert, and think that’s from Disneyland Paris. It isn’t of course, it’s a piece of music that has existed for many years, but I now associate with being in Disneyland Paris. It’s also the ability to walk from land to land, with a completely different atmosphere created not only by the visuals but by the music, and that’s something you don’t get anywhere else, and a big factor that makes the theme parks in the UK less appealing to me. The music in Disneyland Paris is happy music that creates and also reminds me of some of the most amazing times I’ve had in my life. Yes I can listen to it back home, and do, but hearing the Fantasyland loop at home, isn’t quite the same as when I hear it walking from its a small world to Peter Pan’s Flight. LIVE EDIT: I’m listening to the Tarzan soundtrack as I get ready to publish this post and You’ll Be in My Heart has just come on. I’m immediately transported to The Chaparral Theatre to see The Tarzan Encounter – ahh, the memories. Hey, now it’s Son of Man and the more recent Forest of Enchantment.
Disneyland Paris Cothing
This might come as a surprise to many, as the quality and range of Disneyland Paris has not been so wonderful in the last decade, but it is improving. However, it’s not just the items of clothing on sale that I am referring to, it’s walking around and seeing what people are wearing, and seeing guests in Disneyland Paris t-shirts dating back decades, covering every era of the resort and the attractions housed within. I don’t know about you, but seeing someone wearing an item of clothing bought in Disneyland Paris is a very rare occurrence in everyday life for me, so seeing the plethora of branded clothing worn proudly whilst in the resort makes me very happy indeed. I do wear Disneyland Paris clothing in my normal life, especially my ever-present orange cap, but I like seeing everyone else wearing their Disneyland Paris gear too.
Disneyland Paris Food and Restaurants
Food is always a big part of a trip to Disneyland Paris, and the conversations about where we should eat always a big part of the planning stage. In recent years one counter service restaurant has stood out head and shoulders above the rest for us and that’s the Cowboy Cookout Barbecue. It’s great food, whether having the Cajun spiced sausage or BBQ chicken, as are my usual choices. But away from the food it’s the most delightful setting, in that rustic barn, which in winter has a big fire pit and all year round has a country music band playing. I really need to get around to doing a full review at some point, something I’m shocked I’ve not done yet. Toad Hall is another family favourite with great theming inside and out and yummy fish and chips. You only have to read my review of Plaza Gardens Restaurant to see how much I rate that place.
Whilst I miss eating great food in wonderfully themed settings, I miss the little things too, most noticeably the Nutella muffins that I on a daily basis buy from the Cookie Kitchen at Cable Car Bake Shop on Main Street, U.S.A. These are not so easily replaced back home as I found out to my dismay this past Saturday when I bought a Nutella Krispy Kreme Doughnut. No word of a lie, I’d eaten about 85% of the doughnut before I actually encountered any of the Nutella filling. Add in the fact that all the chocolate fell off the top in my hands, and I basically had an over-priced roll. In Disneyland Paris, those muffins are filled to bursting point with Nutella, and yes, I miss them dreadfully!
Disneyland Paris Lands
This may not be the case for everyone, but I certainly don’t live near any of the richly themed lands that we have in Disneyland Paris. The closest I have is a high street in my local town, but unfortunately it is actually nothing like Main Street, U.S.A. – just full of chain stores and branded coffee shops, the like of which we thankfully won’t be seeing as we walk past the gorgeous buildings on Main Street, U.S.A. – for more on that listen to episode 118 of the podcast. Walking from the Wild West of Frontierland, into the pirate-infested Adventureland, through the storybook Fantasyland and into the combination of the future, fantastical and invention of Discoveryland. Amazing. There’s not enough variety and imagination in normal everyday life.
Disneyland Paris Attractions
This is an obvious one, if you like rides and the other attractions of Disneyland Paris anyway. Some of the things on my list you could argue, and you are welcome to do just that, but the attractions of Disneyland Paris cannot be compensated by visiting places out of the resort. Let’s leave out other Disney Parks in this comparison because that’s obviously not what I mean, but there is nothing like Pirates of the Caribbean or Big Thunder Mountain outside of Disneyland Paris, and actually you can bring in the other Disney parks in this example, because by all accounts Paris has the best examples of each. But I do miss that feeling of waking up and knowing that all the exciting and enthralling attractions of Disneyland Paris are on my doorstep. No matter where else I go, nothing can compare with Disney imagineering and immersion – trust me, I have the rickety wooden coaster noises still in my head, and the photos of theming that wouldn’t look out of place in a garden centre, and not a particularly good one at that.
It’s not just the big thrills of Disneyland Paris that I miss, but the relaxed exploration of The Swiss Robinson Family Treehouse or Nautilus, two of my favourites that are both criminally underrated, and not given the time or attention they deserve. I miss not being able to attempt improving my score on Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, something that rarely happens these days. I’ve been on other tea cup rides in other parks, but none are quite as magical as the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups in Disneyland Paris, and especially when those hanging lanterns are illuminated at night. I even miss Armageddon because at least when I’m in Disneyland Paris I have the choice to experience it or not. Back home I can’t even do that.
Disneyland Paris Characters
Whether it be queuing up during Extra Magic Time to meet Chip and Dale, or just seeing characters on the parade, or walking to their next destination, there’s no denying that just the presence of Disney Characters in ones life makes it a happier one. Even though I’m more of a character person than I used to be, I still go on every trip to Disneyland Paris declaring that I won’t spend time queueing to meet characters, and on day 1 I break that promise, eager to get my photo taken with whoever might be in the Parks at that time. I’ve even been known to queue for the same character twice in one trip just to get a piccie with said character wearing a different outfit. Oh come on, Mickey and Minnie in their Christmas outfits are adorable, and a not to be missed opportunity.
Even if I am not meeting characters myself, seeing other people with them and the reactions when they get to meet them, well that’s something, that once again, you can’t get outside of Disneyland Paris (and other Disney Parks, and rather than me saying that every time, going forward just assume that’s implied). Wherever they are in Disneyland Paris and whatever they are doing, characters make it a better place to be.
Disneyland Paris at Night
Disneyland Paris, and in particular Disneyland Paris, is beautiful during the day, especially when the sun is shining. At night, Disneyland Paris adds an extra layer of magic, and a land such as Discoveryland, which is sometimes unspectacular during the day, is a gorgeous mix of lights and metallic reflections at night. Lights is what makes Disneyland Paris so gorgeous at night, with the Swiss Robinson Family Treehouse being an example of one such area that is beautifully lit and takes on a whole new persona after dark, and is utterly magical. There’s not even any need to rush on attractions once the sun goes down, as just walking from land to land around Disneyland Paris is enough, more than enough. Stand at the entrance to Phantom Manor and look across at Big Thunder Mountain, and if the Molly Brown happens to be floating past, even better.
Speaking of Big Thunder Mountain, ignore my earlier statement about not needing to go on rides at night, because being on board that runaway mine train allows you unique views of Disneyland Paris, looking resplendent from all kinds of fast-moving angles, plus the ride itself seems even faster. Experiencing Big Thunder Mountain at night last summer is one of my absolute favourite memories of being in Disneyland Paris, and if you are yet to experience this, please make it a priority. Hey, even Walt Disney Studios looks pretty at night, and I’m not just talking about areas such as Place de Remy, which looks stunning at all times of day and night.
Disneyland Paris Castle
I don’t live near a castle and I’m going to guess you don’t either. Even if you do, I bet it’s nothing like Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris. From almost every part of Disneyland Park and further afield, this beacon of beauty and stunning design can be seen. This isn’t going to be a wordy section, instead, this is something that needs photos, because in Disneyland Paris we are lucky enough to have the most incredible castle in the world.
Disneyland Paris Escapism
I’m not for one minute saying that everyday life is awful, because it’s not, it’s quite lovely most of the time. But work, traffic, weekly shopping and such like can’t compare to being in the very unreal but captivating environment of Disneyland Paris. I like to escape from normal life and being in a world of fantasy, where I don’t have to think about normal day to day things, and don’t trip over mobile phone shops every other building. Waking up with decisions such as character or attraction during Extra Magic Time is how I want to start my day, not switching on the news to the latest disaster or a delayed trip to work because of more roadworks. I’m not naive enough to think that these things don’t go on while I’m in Disneyland Paris, but for a few days it’s absolute bliss to be able to put them to the back of your mind and ride in a space rocket or explore Skull Rock instead.
So why 9 and not 10 Steve? Because 10 seemed a bit cliched, and also because I want you lovely readers to come up with number 10, either in the comments of on Facebook or Twitter, or where ever you have seen this. We all miss Disneyland Paris when we are not there, and for all kinds of reasons, but it’s always there, waiting for us to return and submerge ourselves in the magic once more.