April 11, 2011

Top Ten Things I Miss From Disneyland Paris

With all the deserved excitement surrounding the groundbreaking of Shanghai Disneyland and its beautiful concept art, I started thinking about the current champion of the title "Most Beautiful Magic Kingdom", Disneyland Paris.

It's one thing to see stunning concept art, but it is an entirely different experience to see stunning concept art transformed into a stunning park. Even Animal Kingdom's Dinorama had some lightly enticing art to advertise what was coming- and look at the disappointing end result.

Thinking about Disneyland Paris, I realized there are many things found there that I miss. Here are a few. In contemporary manner, I'll start with Number Ten and work my way to Number One.

Number Ten- The Discovery and Liberty Arcades. They are filled with interesting memorabilia and artwork. An undiscovered gem.

Number Nine- Having Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the middle of the Rivers of the Far West. Ingenious and wildly effective.

Number Eight- Each land feels entirely separate from the others. This strengthens the theme of each land due to lack of visual intrusions. Makes it much easier to imagine you really are in the Old West or in Jules Verne's vision of the future. Just great design!

Number Seven- Walt's- An American Restaurant. If you've been there, you understand.

Number Six- Exploring the Chateau. The dungeon, the upper rooms, the tapestries, the gorgeous stained glass. This is everything a Disney castle should be!

Number Five- Pirates of the Caribbean. Sorry, Anaheim. Disneyland's version is almost as good- but not quite. The bayou of New Orleans Square is mysterious, but setting sail from a Caribbean isle port just seems right. Throw in some sword fighting pirates, an entirely new first scene, and and a mesmerizing exterior fort, and you have the ultimate Magic Kingdom adventure.

Number Four- Frontierland. The best version of the Wild West since Nature's Wonderland was built in California. The panoramic views pull you into this piece of uniquely American history- and all without cuddly characters or islands taken over by pirates. The creepy Phantom Manor only adds to the drama.Number Three- Alice's Curious Labyrinth. It's not always the biggest attractions that have the biggest impact. This smaller Fantasyland attraction is just a delightful way to spend half an hour.

Number Two- Racing through Space Mountain. Sure, Mission Two is not nearly as beautiful as the original version, but the ride is still incredible. And what can I say about the exterior? It's an eye catcher during the day but just unbelievable at night!

Number One- The thing I miss most about Disneyland Paris? Being there!
(Photos copyright Mark Taft.)

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