Disneyland Paris, Paris, France
Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC...
Actually, I flew in from Detroit on Delta, but nonetheless, I'd been looking for an international destination to deliver some coastering goodness and after lots of searching around for parks conveniently accessible by public transportation, I discovered that Paris was a prime spot for easily reachable theme parks. After a lot of tweaking things to give myself plenty of options to get home (airline employee travel is space-available, so having backup plans is a must, and I get a little nervous flying on airlines other than my own, which I have to do to get to Europe), I discovered I could indeed get to France.
(Side note: I have those Disney pins of the mouse ears with flags painted on them for the countries at Epcot that I've visited in real life [I've been to five of the Epcot countries, including the US] and I wanted a sixth so there would be symmetry on my lanyard. Weird, I know, but I'm okay with that).
After landing, I dropped my stuff off at the hotel and caught the RER from the airport to the park. Had I known how long it would take, I would've waited the hour for the TGV and gotten to the park in minutes as opposed to the over an hour and a half it took to get there on the RER, but alas, I finally arrived.
I went to Disneyland Park first and headed to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The line was an hour, so I grabbed a Fastpass for later in the afternoon and went over to Phantom Manor, the French equivalent of the Haunted Mansion.
Phantom Manor bore a lot of similarities to the US mansions, but it had more of a story behind it. Again, much of the ride was borderline identical, but once the time came for the graveyard area, Phantom Manor instead opted for a sort of mine shaft/frontier section. Some of the animatronic characters were quite creepy, which was kind of cool.
I then headed out of the park to Disney Studios. It seemed like a much smaller version of the Florida park, but with a few similarities. My first ride there was the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.
For some reason, I didn't find the ride nearly as captivating as the US version. It's still the same coaster with Aerosmith involved, but the story on this one was that Aerosmith was basically incorporating a coaster into a music video. Still plenty of fun, it did fall a bit short compared to the more humorous Orlando version (also, the music didn't seem as loud, which was a major let-down, lol). Maybe it would've helped if I'd have gotten the Sweet Emotion train.
Next up, and also the only other ride I would actually get at the Studios, was the Tower of Terror. Pretty much the same as the California Adventure ride, the pre-show was amusing with French voice-overs of essentially a US video. This ride, even in its less-elaborate nature compared to the Orlando original, was still good fun.
Back to Disneyland for my BTMR Fastpass, I made the discovery that the ride had shut down for the day. I was pretty bummed, but they said Space Mountain: Mission 2 was accepting the passes instead.
I headed over, intrigued by this Vekoma attempt at a Space Mountain experience.
Ladies and gentlemen, forget the US versions. This ride was the real deal. The inclined cannon launch, though mild, was great fun, and the layout inside the mountain with it's seemingly endless high-speed diving turns and crazy inversions was just ridiculous. You simply hauled through that building. About halfway through, a lift hill gave an opportunity for an epic finish, and insanity properly ensued. The coaster was an absolute rush and easily the highlight of Disney.
My remaining rides included Pirates of the Caribbean and more Space Mountain. Regarding Pirates, it had the best station area of any of the three I've ridden, with a lot of open space, but from there, it was very similar to the US rides with a slightly different sequence, no movie tie-ins, and pirates speaking in French.
After my third lap on Space Mountain and a shopping binge, I hopped on the TGV back to the airport and my hotel.
The following day was Parc Astérix. The park ran shuttles from the Roissypôle complex on the airport grounds straight to the park every thirty minutes, so getting there was much less painful than the previous day's travels.
The park was only a short drive away. Located in a beautiful rural area with woods surrounding much of the park, it was a nice location for a park. Themed to the characters of the Astérix the Gaul comics, much of it revolved around various points in history.
To avoid missing rides I really wanted to get, which plagued me the day before, I made sure I more or less went in descending order of how badly I wanted to get each coaster.
OzIris was first, and wow, what a way to start the day. The dynamic layout delivered some impressive forces. The first drop was great and there was some good hang time in several of the inversions with others being a bit more punchy. The environmental interaction was also great and lent itself to some added intensity. If only I'd have discovered the single rider line the first time around...
La Trace du Horra came next. As I understand it, it's the longest bobsled coaster, and it used its length well *snicker*. Essentially broken into three parts, the ride, while not the most intense, was still great fun.
What followed was a sort of rite of passage: Goudurix. A ride whose great layout was plagued by awful trackwork, Goudurix was painful, especially in the boomerang (not quite as much in the butterfly, despite my expectation that that would be worse). Anyways, ouch.
Last up was the rather interesting Tonerre de Zeus. Overall, it was pretty good. It wasn't oppressively rough and it had some good laterals. The airtime wasn't too shabby, either.
I followed it up with two more laps on OzIris, and then called it a day. I had to get back to the airport for an evening flight to Amsterdam, so I bid farewell to yet another great park.
As for my overall impressions, I'll start with the fact that Disneyland Paris is quite good. Missing a few of the signature rides the other parks have, it still remained very impressive. I preferred it to the CA park given its more spacious nature and more attractive scenery, to say nothing of the incredible castle. At times trying to be American and at other times distinctly French, a sense of unpredictability developed, with situations where two rides located right next to each other might have audio in different languages. It was still great, though, and I can't wait to go back.
Disney Studios wasn't too shabby in its own right. I would have preferred more time to explore it, to say nothing of more time at the main park. Ultimately, though, I enjoyed the resort, and I plan on going back and spending several days sometime in the future.
Parc Astérix was also very well-done, and I'm glad I got to check out a place that up until even just a few months ago really wasn't anywhere high on my list of places to go. The staff was great with the ride operators especially so. Seeing any of the three of the four coasters I rode that weren't meant to stack (La Trace du Horra with its fleet of trains was designed to stack) rarely ever did. Disney-esque in attitude and efficiency, they were perhaps the most stand-out aspect of the park behind OzIris. ;)
In closing, if you want some great international amusement park experiences, go to Paris. You won't be disappointed.
I'd agree with that - but I'd also suggest that Disney and Asterix are but some of the great parks in Europe, and probably not the two I'd take as my first choice...
I went to Europa and Holiday Park a couple years ago, but given the short duration of my stay and the extreme expense of rental cars, I wanted to opt for parks easily accessible by public transportation and I also wanted a country featured in Epcot's World Showcase (Tokyo Disney was actually the front-runner at one point in the planning process, but I would've needed an additional day off).
On top of that, my choices for where to go were contingent on flight availability and the pass agreements other airlines have with mine. Despite Delta's convenient amount of flights from Paris to the States, we don't have an agreement with Air France at this time, which was why I flew to Amsterdam the evening before my return to the US so I could avail myself of the still-impressive amount of Delta flights from AMS back home as well as the entire KLM network, an airline with whom we have an agreement. Ultimately, there's even more detail I could get into as to how the final trip was developed, but you get the idea. Rest assured that as the years go by, I'll get much more European parks under my belt, and probably more full-fledged visits to the ones I've already experienced so as not to be as rushed.
The top five entries on my list of European parks that I want to get to include Mirabilandia, Walibi World, Alton Towers, Port Aventura, and Heide Park if that makes any difference, and all were actually considered, but the ones I chose were simply the most convenient.
I am curious, though, as to which ones you'd recommend, and if you have advice on easy ways to get around to the various parks as well, that would also be helpful. I dare say it's probable that some places aren't as difficult to reach as I think they are.
I was in Amsterdam for less than 12 hours, and it was literally just to sleep.
However, since you brought it up, look up poffertjes. You're welcome. :)
The allure of trip to Amsterdam lessened for many of us when we were suddenly able to just road trip to Colorado instead.
Great TR. I have been to Paris several times but never made it out to either of these places. Glad to hear that if I ever do make it there, my time will not be wasted.
Royale with cheese!
Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog
I think Amsterdam has a little more to offer than ho's and smokes :-)
Nothing that matters.
As a fellow airline employee, I've been wanting to non-rev to Europe for a long time now, but never have. I love hearing stories about crazy whirlwind trips to faraway parks "just because I can."
Having never been to Europe, I would love to do a trip like this but at the same time would feel guilty going all that way to just ride coasters and nothing else. (well, maybe not to France... There's nothing of interest to me in Paris.)
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