Many people visit Disneyland Paris after having visited Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida and it is important to understand that the two resorts are very, very different. This chapter aims to help you understand those differences, as well as why some aspects of Paris are better, and others are better in Florida.
1 - Local customs - Approximately 51% of all visitors to Disneyland Paris are French, about 14% are from the UK, other major visiting countries including Spain and Italy. Due to this, there are many American customs which simply do not apply to a European audience. One of these is queuing - many Europeans simply do not understand queuing systems, it is not in their culture. That means when a bus arrives it is a free-for-all and with the majority of characters around the parks you won’t find an orderly line, you’ll find parents pushing their children to get in there first.
2 - Languages - All cast members employed by Disneyland Paris must have conversational level English, but it pays to speak basic French, such as “Bonjour”, “Merci” and “Parlez-vous Anglais?”. If you go up arrogantly speaking English to a French person, they won’t take it well. It’s basic manners to learn some of the language when visiting another country.
3 - The Cast Members - The cast members in Florida and California, for the most part, can’t wait to help you, are extremely polite, will never be rude, have a passion for Disney and will do everything to make your stay magical. By contrast, they are also robots bound by the Disney rule-book. When visiting Disneyland Paris, you’ll find a Disney Park for the 21st century: the cast members will be rude to you if you are rude to them, they will help you but they have their limits, you may even see cast members not smiling.
Having worked at the parks, many Cast Members sadly see it as just a job - they are paid barely above the minimum wage and work crazy hours.
Having said this, I found that this mainly only applied to the older cast and the younger cast (of which there are thousands) are perfectly happy to help, smily and sparkle the Disney magic in every way. It all depends on the individual.
The Cast Members are hugely international though and if you want to meet people from all across Europe, having a chat with one of the cast from Norway for example could lead to you booking your next vacation to somewhere you’d never thought of in Europe.
4 - The Size of the Resort - This is the main difference between Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris. Walt Disney World is 47 square miles or 121 square kilometres, Disneyland Paris is 22.3 square kilometres. The difference is staggering, in fact all of Disneyland Paris could comfortably fit in the parking lot for the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. From the resort hotels to the parks in no more than a 15 minute walk. It is a two minute walk between the two parks and a two-minute walk to Disney Village (a miniature version of Downtown Disney in Florida).
The advantage is that you can walk throughout the whole resort, you can visit any of the other hotels easily and less time spent on buses. The disadvantage is that there are no water parks, less hotels to choose from and crucially fewer theme parks (only 2, as opposed to 4 in Florida).
There are also golf courses and a huge shopping center nearby though.
Disneyland Park is slightly bigger than the Magic Kingdom, but with more empty, quieter areas and less rides. Walt Disney Studios is much smaller that Disney’s Hollywood studios.
Learn more about the detail of the parks, unique rides and shows in the full guide. Click here to purchase it.