Paris: the big Christmas surprise

(WARNING: photo overload at the bottom!)The trip to Paris was our family Christmas gift. The boys knew about it beforehand and were very excited. But we did have one surprise up our sleeve…

On Christmas morning, after all the gifts had been opened, we ‘remembered’ one more gift we hadn’t put under the tree. The boys opened up the box and were excited to find tickets for one day at Disneyland Park in Paris from us.
We had been watching the forecast and it appeared that Sunday would be the best bet for avoiding rain. And it was: it didn’t rain on us all day! (It didn’t rain on the other million people there either. But crowds were a part of this whole trip, so we just rolled with it!)
As a little girl, I loved Disney. I went to the parks in Florida quite a few times. And I hoped to one day visit a Disney outside of America, and visit one of the parks at Christmas. So I guess this was possibly more exciting for me than anyone else!
We had a great time. The park is much smaller than Florida’s Magic Kingdom (MK). We found some thing better at Disneyland Paris (DP), and in a number of cases we prefer MK.Who Wins? Here are a few observations…

  • Big Thunder Mountain: we didn’t get to ride it in Florida with the boys, as it was closed. But they look very similar. Everyone LOVED this ride at DP!
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: the exterior at DP is far superior. It was awesome! Inside, there is a sit-down restaurant that sits beside the beginning of the ride. Very cool! The ride itself was almost identical to the original MK Pirates. They haven’t added Jack Sparrow like Orlando. I think MK’s ride wins, but the overall presentation was better at DP.
  • The Haunted Mansion (MK)/Phantom Manor (DP): again, I think DP wins for exterior presentation. But the ride itself had a much darker/morbid feel. We much prefer the fun and family-friendly MK version!
  • Space Mountain: this is my all-time favorite ride at MK! I have to say that the exterior of this ride is incredible at DP – a step above the original. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to ride it. We had a brokenhearted 8-year-old when he found out he wasn’t tall enough. And we weren’t willing to split up to wait through the 1 hour-plus line. I’ve heard it’s great!
  • Animated Move Rides: Rides like Peter Pan and Snow White looked identical. They have a Pinocchio ride, which was new for us. It was VERY similar to Snow White in design, but cute.
  • It’s a Small World: the outside at DP was better. Otherwise, pretty similar.
  • Star Tours: Orlando wins this one, no contest. DP has the old version that DisneyWorld used back in the nineties. Old, dated, grainy. We stood in line for 2 hours because William is such a Star Wars fanatic and couldn’t wait to ride it. He says he wasn’t disappointed, but without the high-def and 3D of Orlando, it was not the same. Plus for DP: the boys got to meet Darth Vader afterwards!
  • Buzz Lightyear: it seemed a lot like the ride in Florida. But here is what we loved: we didn’t have a fast pass and the line said 70 minutes. Daniel REALLY wanted to ride, so we did. We were in and out in less than 30 minutes! It was a great ride.
It was a great day, despite excessive crowds. We didn’t get to ride everything, but we did cover a lot of ground, and enjoyed two parades plus the lighting of the Christmas tree. While we all agreed we prefer DisneyWorld Orlando, we are glad we took a day to experience Disneyland Park in Paris.
Entering the park (first time I’ve ever had to
bundle up for Disney!)


Sleeping Beauty’s Castle


Everyone enjoyed Thunder Mountain


Phantom Manor


Thunder Mountain and the River Boat


On our way to Pirates


The main entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean


Great exterior at Pirates


Kristy – we took more pics at this ride than any
other, mainly because of you!


Alice had a walkthrough section of the park –
the line was LONG and we chose not to wait


The boys loved their first ride on the Teacups


It’s a Small World – the one ride that always has a quick line in
Orlando – had an excessively large line that we vetoed


Christmas Parade


Toy Story


Daniel’s favorite ride


Space Mountain looked incredible – I’ve read it’s much more
intense than the Florida version


Star Tours – Paris needs to update this ride


A highlight for the boys



Lion King




Waiting for the tree lighting


All the shops had great window displays




Headed back to the city – it was a fun day!

One thought on “Paris: the big Christmas surprise”

  1. Well, you know I loved this post! Thanks for taking the time to share pictures and make park comparisons. The Disney geek in me was excited about that!

    My girls also love Big Thunder, and Josh is a big fan of Buzz's ride…probably because he always scores so much higher than the rest of us! Disneyland Pirates in CA also has a restaurant inside called the Blue Bayou. Maybe it's modeled after that? And you must be right about Space Mtn. being more intense, since it was a much higher height requirement there. Looks very cool on the outside though!

    I'm so glad you got to do something so fun as a Christmas surprise for your family!

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