Disneyland Paris and Disney World might just have the Atlantic Ocean between them, but that’s not all that makes them different.
If you’re deciding between a Disneyland Paris or a Disney World vacation, we’re going to breakdown some of their key differences to help you decide.
Disney World is a destination in and of itself. Its location in Orlando spurred the congregation of other theme parks to Orlando, making Orlando one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. But you don’t have to step foot off of Disney property to have a luxurious weeklong vacation filled with unique offerings.
But many folks who have plans to visit Paris, likely do not have a Disney park on the top of their list of things to see and do. With landmark destinations like the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, the Arc de Triomphe, and cruises on the Seine River, you can have a fairytale Parisian vacation without stepping foot in a Disney park. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t have a glorious time exploring all that Disneyland Paris has to offer, and true Disney fan could hardly pass up a chance to visit this unique park if they happen to find themselves in the neighborhood.
Walt Disney World
Disney World resides in Orlando, Florida, and offers a lot to do. In fact, you’ll probably need to visit more than once to try to see and do it all.
- 4 Parks
- Magic Kingdom
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- 2 Water Parks
- Blizzard Beach
- Typhoon Lagoon
- Disney Springs shopping & dining district
- Over 18 Resorts and Villas
- All Star Resorts
- Pop Century
- Art of Animation
- Port Orleans
- Caribbean Beach
- Coronado Springs
- Fort Wilderness Cabins & Campgrounds
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Beach Club
- BoardWalk Inn
- Grand Floridian
- Old Key West
- Polynesian Village
- Riviera Resort
- Saratoga Springs
- Wilderness Lodge
- Yacht Club
- 4 Golf courses
- Lake Buena Vista
- Oak Trail
- 2 miniature golf courses
- Winter Summerland
- Fantasia Gardens
- Grand Floridian Wedding Pavilion
- Over 200 restaurants
Disneyland Paris is in Chessy, France, about 20 miles east of Paris.
- 2 Theme Parks
- Disneyland Paris
- Walt Disney Studios Park
- Disney Village shopping and dining district
- 1 Golf course features 9-hole and 18-hole courses
- 7 Resort Hotels
- Disney Davy Crocket Ranch
- Disney Hotel Santa Fe
- Disney Hotel Cheyenne
- Disney Sequoia Lodge
- Disney Newport Bay Club
- Disney Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel
- Disneyland Hotel
Disneyland Paris is probably more on par with Disneyland Resort in California or the Tokyo Disneyland Resort in Japan, than the sprawling options in Florida.
If you’re familiar with the Disney World parks, you’ll see some similarities between Disneyland Paris and Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney Studios Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The same idea and concepts were applied, but each resort has its own interpretation of the lands and attractions that make them unique to either Paris or Orlando.
Some of the unique attractions you’ll find at Disneyland Paris or Walt Disney Studios Park, but not in Disney World are:
- Alice’s Curious Labyrinth
- Hyperspace Mountain (though this is similar to the overlay that occurs seasonally at Disneyland California)
- Phantom Manor (a different take on the classic Disney Haunted Mansion)
- Le Pays de Contes de Fees/Storybook Land Canal
- Casey Jr
- La Tanière du Dragon
- Le Passage Enchanté d’Aladdin
- Adventure Isle
- Thunder Mesa Riverboats
- La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant
- Les Mystères du Nautilus
- Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril
Walt Disney Studios Park:
- Crush’s Coaster
- RC Racer
- Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop
- Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin
- Mickey and the Magician show
The Disneyland Paris resort recently received the addition of Avenger Campus, like you can find at Disney’s California Adventure. And will soon receive the addition of Kingdom of Arendelle, a Frozen-theme land with Elsa’s Ice Castle atop a 131-foot-high snow-covered mountain, a new attraction will provide the chance to journey with the iconic Frozen characters, and the village will house a shop and restaurant.
Disneyland Paris offers two ways to pay to bypass the standby lines: Disney Premier Access Ultimate Service and Disney Premier Access One. Both are digital services that allow guests to bypass the standby line for a fee.
Disney Premier Access Ultimate Service starts at 90€ ( about $96) per person per day, but like its Disney World counterpart, Genie+, the cost could be higher on peak season dates. Like Disney World’s Genie+, The Premier Access Ultimate provides guests access to join the “fast lane” at select attractions, but without having to register for a time slot. Just walk right up!
Disney Premier Access One serves more like Individual Lightning Lanes at Disney World. Guests can purchase the option to skip the line at a single attraction once per day. Pricing for Disney Premier Access will be per ride, ranging from €8 to €15 ( about $8 to $16) depending on the attraction and day of visit.
Walt Disney World is home to Cinderella Castle. It is the centerpiece of the Magic Kingdom. It is a combination of fantasy castles from Disney films and real palaces like the Castle Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. In Paris, the Castle is called Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant, or Sleeping Beauty Castle. It was inspired by the Mont Saint-Michel monastery in Normandy.
Both castles serve as the gateway to Fantasyland but are very different. In Florida, Cinderella’s story is told in a series of five lavish mosaics. In Paris, upstairs, you will find La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant, where Sleeping Beauty’s story is told in stained glass windows and tapestries. Cinderella Castle is home to The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Cinderella’s Royal Table. Sleeping Beauty Castle has a couple of shops, and no restaurant.
The biggest difference between the two castles is what is hidden deep in their interiors. Cinderella Castle has the Dream Suite, a sumptuous hotel room that is only available as a prize or to special guests. Sleeping Beauty Castle contains a “secret” room of a different sort. In the basement is a dank, dark dungeon. Inside, chained to a wall, sleeps an 89 foot dragon. If you wait, it will wake, growling and puffing smoke.
Disneyland Paris is extremely easy to reach, much like Walt Disney World. It is right off the expressway, and it’s no problem to find it by car even if you don’t speak French.
Train service is available from London (the Eurostar arrives in 2 to 3 hours) or Paris (the RER train takes about 35 minutes). The train station for both of these is less than two minutes from the park gates. Another option from Paris is a daily shuttle called the Disneyland Paris Express. It leaves from three locales, arriving at the parks at 10 a.m. and leaving at 9 p.m.
To get to the parks from the hotels, there are no boats, gondolas, or monorails. You can either walk or take a Disney Bus. Be sure to ask where the stop is as they’re not always clearly marked.
Disney Imagineers are known for taking painstaking care in all of the details of their projects. Each Disney park has a story to tell, secrets to explore, and mysteries to unravel. But surrounded by the natural history, culture, and rich artistic tradition of France, Disneyland Paris stepped up their game. Disneyland Paris is the perfect park for those, not simply to check attractions off their list, but seeking to immerse themselves in the details and brilliant design work of the Imagineers.
Disneyland Paris takes an entirely different touring approach than Disney World, instead of rope-dropping and planning every moment with Lightning Lanes, dining reservations, and bucket list Disney vacation must-dos. Disneyland Paris truly is the Disney park you sip and savor and soak in every detail. There aren’t a ton of attractions, so you can still enjoy some thrills and have time to nibble on a macaron or croissant and see what secrets you stumble across.
Disney World is a vacation destination on its own. It’s filled with parks, resorts, attractions, and restaurants to keep you busy and fill every minute of your vacation time. You will never be bored, and you might even risk exhaustion if you try to do it all. Disneyland Paris is much more laid back, with a healthy smattering of new and unique attractions. It’s a fun stop for some fantasy whimsy during your Parisian vacation that offers a peek at Disney storytelling through a European lens.
Disney fans will enjoy the unique twist on familiar Disney classics, and Europeans and other international travelers will enjoy that aspect of Disney escapism into a fantasyland.
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